Situated on a level landscape. A church at Rathbeggan is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-04) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire., 5, 254). The Augustinian priory at Colpe was endowed with the tithes at Rathbeggan, and Thomas Stevens was paying 4 pounds for them to the abbey at the Suppression in 1540 (White 1943, 316). Ussher (1622) describes the church and chancel as in good repair (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxx). According to Dopping's visitation book (1682-5) the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Rathbeggan was in ruins since 1641 but the walls of the church and chancel were still standing and the graveyard was enclosed (Ellison 1971, 38). Rathbeggan was part of the living Jonathan Swift obtained when he returned to Ireland in 1701, although it is doubtful if he attended much (Reynolds 1967, 41). The present church was built in 1817 (Lewis 1837, 2, 489), but only the tower remains. The bottom of a rectangular font (ext. dim. 0.63m; H 0.45m) with the shallow remains of a basin (diam. 0.39m; surviving D 5cm) is in the subrectangular graveyard (dims c. 55-65m N-S; c. 25-35m E-W) defined by masonry walls, which has a few 19th century headstones. The font has chamfered corners and under-panels. The motte (ME044-029----) is c. 100m to the WNW.
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: 7 April, 2015
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.