The monastery (ME017-044012-) and its enclosure (ME017-044025-) are located on the E and N-facing slopes of a broad hill. After it lost its status as a diocesan centre in the early 13th century, the old monastic centre became a parish church, but little documentation relates to it (O'Connell 1959, 36). According to an inscription (ME017-044042-) on the tower the church underwent major repairs in 1579, and Dopping records (1682-5) that the church and chancel were derelict since 1641 but were then being repaired. At that time it had chapels dedicated to St. Mary and St. Nicholas, and a steeple, by which he probably meant the tower (Ellison 1973, 7).
The tower (ext. dims 9m E-W; 8m N-S) is just N of the present church and has three surviving floors. It has corner buttresses and good quoins, one at the NW angle with the Plunkett coat of arms. There are string courses at the first and second floors. There are two external niches with hood mouldings rising from the first floor moulding on the W wall, probably for statues. The crease of a pitched roof is visible at first floor level on the S side over an in-filled arch, indicating that the church was to the S. The ground floor has an E-W barrel vault with a hole for bell-pulls. There is a twin-light ogee-headed window in the E wall and a pointed chamfered doorway internally at the SW angle accesses the newel stairs to the upper floors, which are entered through lintelled doorways. The second floor or belfry stage has a twin-light transom, ogee-headed window with quatrefoil above on each face. The original parapet was removed when a steeple was added in 1783. (Bradley and King 1985, 77-8)
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 upload/revision: 2 July 2014Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage