Situated on a level landscape. A church at Lethercorre is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire., 5, 256). According to Cogan (1862-70, 2, 385) the church was dedicated to St. Peter and attached to St. Thomas’ Augustinian abbey (DU018-020051-), and the rectory of Laraghcorre was amongst its possessions at the Suppression in 1540 (White 1943, 30). Ussher (1622) describes the church as ruinous but the chancel as reasonably repaired (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxxxii). The church and chancel were in disrepair according to Dopping (1682-5), who says it was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but repairs were almost completed by the Royal visitation (1693). In the meantime the chapel-of-ease at Summerhill (ME043-031----) was being used (Ellison 1972, 9-10).
Jonathan Swift was the incumbent from 1700 until his death in 1745, and Laracor would have provided his principal income and Irish residence until he became Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral (DU018-020069-) in 1713, after which he employed a curate at Laracor. He also held the smaller parishes of Agher (ME048-009----) and Rathbeggan (ME044-030----). His lifelong friend Esther Johnson, known as Stella, had a house (ME036-078----) at Knightsbrook, c. 1.2km to the NW of Laracor church, after she first came to Ireland in 1701. (Reynolds 1967, 41-3)
The present church building dates to 1856 and was closed c. 1970, but a sketch of the older structure shows a western porch and two round-headed windows in the W gable, probably the work of the 1690s, under the stump of a belfry (ibid. 43). A two storey building, probably a vestry, was attached to the N side of the church. The site of the medieval parish church is within a rectangular graveyard (dims c. 65m NW-SE: c. 55m NE-SW) defined by masonry walls with mature trees within the perimeter and headstones dating from c. 1750-1970. During conversion work c. 1980 part of the N wall (Wth 1-1.2m; L 9m plus; H 0.5-0.6m) of the late 17th century church with its footing and a blocked doorway (Wth 0.91m) was exposed within the 19th century church (SMR file). Reused sandstone jambs with chamfers in fabric of the wall are from the older medieval church.
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: 16 February 2015
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.