MEATH ANTIQUITIES

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

The most remarkable relics of antiquity of the earliest ages are two ancient round towers, one at Kells, and another in the churchyard of Donoughmore near Navan. At New Grange, near Slane, is a very remarkable tumulus, in which is an artificial cavern of some extent and singular construction. Near Dowth are a Druidical circle and the remains of a cromlech. Vestiges of Danish monuments are very numerous; the most remarkable is a rath near Taragh, supposed to have been the residence of the Danish king, Turgesius; the raths of Odder, Rameven and Ringlestown, are in the same neighbourhood: they have all been planted. Six of the ancient instruments called corabasnas were found by persons digging in a park near Slane, in 1781: the corabasna was of a complex form, consisting of two circular plates of brass connected by a spiral wire, which produced a jingling noise when the plates were struck by the fingers; it was used for the purpose of keeping time.

Two splendid torques of pure gold were found near Taragh, in 1813, and are now in the possession of the Duke of Sussex. Bracelets or collars, being solid rings of pure gold of very ancient and rude workmanship, were found near Trimleston Castle, in 1833; the largest weighed 12 ounces avoirdupois. The ruins of abbeys, priories, convents, and other monastic edifices, are numerous through every part of the county, and still more numerous are the names of others now only discoverable by some local name, or traceable in historic records.

The ruins of the old monastery of Duleek, said to be the first monastic edifice built of stone and mortar in Ireland, presents some curious and extraordinary traces of rude architecture.

At Bective are extensive and picturesque ruins of the wealthy abbey of that name; at Clonard was an abbey of Canons Regular, a convent, and also a cathedral, but nothing now remains except the font of the latter; at Colpe, Newtown, Slane, and Trim, were also abbeys of Canons Regular, all now in ruins; at Killeen and Kilmainham Wood were commanderies of Knights Hospitallers; at Ratoath and Skreen were priories of the Augustinian Eremites; at Eirk, near Slane, was an hermitage; at Trim a priory of Crutched friars ;on the Holy or Church island, in Lough Sheelin, was an abbey of Grey friars; Kilmainham-beg and Teltown belonged to the Dominicans; all have long since fallen into ruins.

The monasteries of which no ruins remain are those of Ardbraccan, Ardceath, Ardmulchan, Ardsallagh, Athboy, Ballybogan, Beaumore near Colpe, Beaubeg, Calliagh, Cloonmanan, Disert-tola, Donaghmore, Donneycarney near Colpe, Donoughpatrick, a priory of the Virgin Mary and the Magdalen Hospital at Duleek; abbeys at Dunshaughlin, and Indenen near Slane; a house of Regular Canons, an hospital of St. John the Baptist, and a chantry, all at Kells; a house of Regular Canons and a nunnery at Killeen; an abbey at Navan, on the site of which the cavalry barrack is now built; priories at Odder and Rosse, south of Taragh; an abbey of Regular Canons and a chantry at Skreen; a monastery of Grey Friars, on the site of which the sessions-house at Trim stands; a nunnery, a Greek church, and a chantry at Trim; Dominican friaries at Kilberry, Lismullen, and Dunshaughlin; besides several others now existing only in name.

Columbkill's house, a stone-roofed cell, said to be one of the oldest stone-built houses in Ireland, is still traceable at Kells; in which town there are also several stone crosses, one in particular of beautiful workmanship. In the cemetery at Castlekieran, in which are the ruins of a small church, is also a very fine stone cross richly sculptured.

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