A Franciscan friary was probably founded before 1287, but its early benefactors are not known for certain (Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 260). The earliest assured reference is in 1318 when a dispute arose with the Dominicans of Mullingar over the burial of Rosina de Verdun. In 1330 the friary was badly damaged by winter floods and in 1430 indulgences were granted to those who aided restoration works by the friars. It was dedicated to St Francis but later to St Bonaventure, who was canonised in 1482. Phelim O’Reilly, heir to East Breffney, was buried there in 1447, and Donal O’Fallon, a Franciscan friar and preacher, was interred there in 1500. The Trim friary adopted the Observant reform by 1460, which enjoined stricter adherence to the rules on the community. (Potterton 2005, 331-36)
At the suppression in 1539 the church and chancel were still standing but could be demolished to provide material for a mansion then being constructed. A steeple, dormitory, hall, three chambers, a cemetery, a small garden and a derelict watermill were the only other possessions in the town. Twenty two acres at Mawdelynsfeld (Maudlinstown), a weir at Porchefeld, two small fields, and a park called the King’s Park were the only other possessions (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 310-1; White 1943, 307-08). The friars’ estate was purchased in 1542 by Sir Anthony St Leger, who had served thrice as Lord Deputy between 1540 and 1556, and through subsequent sales it can be concluded that the friars held about 100 acres around the town. Some of the buildings may have survived to the end of the 16th century at least (Potterton 2005, 337-9). The friars maintained a presence in the area throughout the 17th century, and early in the 18th century established a house at Meadstown that became known as Courtown Friary (ME030-010-----) (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 311, 121-4). While it is not clear if friars continued to live in Trim as well as Courtown this ended with the guardianship of John Clarke (1767-72 and 1776-7) when any mission at Trim ended (Conlon 2014).
The site was used as a courthouse from at least 1554, and it is located on low-lying ground in the triangular area (dims c. 110m NE-SW; c. 90m NW-SE at NE) between Castle St. on the W, the river at NE and the castle at SE, but it is not precisely located. In 1951 burials were found in a cutting in Castle St. (ME036-048026-) (Cahill and Sikora 2011, 2, 403-05), and face corbels (ME036-048027-; ME036-048057-) in the gable of a house may be from its site. Test excavations (96E0247) on the site of a new courthouse, just S of the present building that is probably early 19th century in date identified archaeological levels and seven isolated burials (ME036-048066-) that in the main could be from the cemetery. The archaeological levels were sealed under raft foundations for the new structure. (Purcell 1999, 2000)
The above description is derived from the published 'Archaeological Inventory of County Meath' (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1987). In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of revision: 17 February 2015
Amended: 29 August 2022Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage