This is a National Monument consisting of a tower house (ME025-032001-) with a sixteenth or seventeenth century house off-set to the NW and SW. There is a small wing between them that may have served as kitchens and servants quarters for the later house. The buildings are situated on a level landscape now within Navan town, with a SE-NW section of the River Boyne c. 200m to the SW. According to the Civil Survey (1654-6) Lawrence Dowdall owned 200 acres at Athlumney in 1640, and the property included ‘A castle and a large stone howse, a water mill and a tuck mill, two fishing weares, and a church and two open quarries’ (Simington 1940, 62). He also owned almost 180 acres at Allistonread (Alexander Reid) and 40 at Bellis (Bailis) in Athlumney parish (ibid. 62-4). Traditionally, the last occupant was Sir Launcelot Dowdall, who burnt it in despair when he heard the outcome of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 (Wilde 1850, 11-12), although Isaac Butler writing c. 1740, attributed the burning to one of the Maguire family in order to prevent Cromwell from utilising it (1892, 24). The parish church of Athlumney (ME025-031----) is c. 60m to the W.
This is a four bay three storey structure (int. dims c. 23m NE-SW; 6.45m NE-SW) with a stairs return at the S end of the NW wall, which is lit by small rectangular windows with square hood-mouldings. A flat-arched doorway with a round-headed niche above it is in the middle of the SE wall, with two large plain and consolidated window openings on each side. The ground floor is divided by a cross-wall with one pointed doorway through it placed just S of the main entrance. The N chamber (int. dims 13.5m NE-SW; 6.45m NE-SW) may well include an entrance passage from the main doorway. It has a large fireplace that projects on the outside of the wall and two blocked windows on the NW wall, and a passage (int. dims 6.45m NW-SE; 3.15m NE-SW) N of this chamber leads to the ground floor of the tower house and may have housed another stairs. The S chamber also has an externally-projecting fireplace and two blocked windows on the NW wall but it also has a large fireplace with an oven on either side on the SW wall as well as access to the stairs return. The long walls are rebated to support the first floor but the joists appear to have been inserted into the NW and SW walls.
At the first floor the SE wall has four large mullion and transom windows, each with six panels (3 over 3) and a square hood-moulding. The NW wall has four destroyed and consolidated windows and two fireplaces, while the SW wall has a magnificent mullion and transom oriel window of eight panels (4 over 4) with a fireplace beside it. The long walls are recessed for the second floor but the joists are set directly into the NE and SW walls. The second floor repeats the lay-out of the first except that the oriel window does not survive, and the large windows in the SE wall are partly within dormer gables that rise over them. In the narrow NE ‘passage’ there was an oriel window in the NE wall at this level but only the supporting machicolation survives.
Abutting the house to the NE and between it and the tower house was a structure (int. dims 15.8m NE-SW; 4.9m NW-SE) of which only the NW and NE walls survive at the ground floor. There is a blocked doorway and three windows in the NW wall, an oven at the N angle and there may have been a fireplace in the NE wall. It had at least two storeys and may have served as a kitchen and servants quarters for the stone house.
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: 28 June 2016
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.