Situated at the S edge of a level landscape, and at the crest of a SW-facing slope down to a WSW-ENE section of the River Boyne. In 1206 Bishop Simon de Rochford founded the Augustinian priory of SS Peter and Paul at Newtown by Trim within the protective ambit afforded by the castle (ME036-048004-) at Trim. In 1216 a synod was held there, and Simon was buried in it in 1224 (Conwell 1872-4, 383). Since Clonard, which had been the diocesan centre, was burned in 1200, the church of the canons at Newtown (ME036-049002-) began to fulfill that function. Although a licence to build a cathedral was granted in 1255 to Bishop Hugh de Tachmon, one was never constructed, and the church at Newtown assumed that place. An attempt to replace the canons with a Dean and chapter of secular clergy in 1397 failed. The priory was of the congregation of St Victor, who maintained a stricter rule, and the names of many of the priors are known (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 312-15). Bishop Edward Stapples, who was appointed in 1529, supported the policy of suppressing the monasteries, but he was replaced by William Walsh under Queen Mary in 1554, to be replaced by Hugh Brady under Elizabeth in 1563. By then the priory was dissolved and the church in ruins. (Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 97-8; 190)
According to an extent made in 1540 materials from ‘the cross church’ had been used to repair Portlester Castle (ME035-020----) or sold, and what was left was only fit to repair the nearby church of Newtown by Trym (ME036-049005-). The demesne contained over 170 acres, largely in Kiltoome (104) and Clonboynagh (33), and had a mill on the Boyne. There was a total of over 300 acres in Moyvally, Co. Kildare, Enneskoe (Enniscoffey, Co. Westmeath), and the unknown Ballyhake and Keynghan. The income from the churches of Newtown Clonbun, Kilbeg with Robertstown, Enneskoe, Churchtown, Rathayn (Rataine), Athse (Assey), Rathregan, and others not identified belonged to the priory. (White 1943, 292-8)
The S transept of the Cathedral (ME036-049002-) led directly to the E range of the priory that has completely disappeared apart from its W wall which incorporates the base of the original doorway (Wth 1.7m) to the chapter-house decorated with three orders, and a large garderobe chute that would have served the dormitory overhead. Only the S and W walls of the S range (ext. dims 29m E-W; 14.6m N-S) survive consisting of the vaulted undercroft that is now destroyed and what would have been the refectory on the ground floor (Conwell 1872-3, 385-7). A two-storey structure (ext. dims 13.85m E-W; 9,15m N-S) on the W side has an E-W barrel-vault, now destroyed, and a newel stairs a the NE angle could have been a tower house. Major conservation was undertaken with the Cathedral in 1891-2 and it is maintained as a National Monument since then (Harbison 1970, 198-9).
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of upload: 17 February, 2015Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.