The Plains of Meath & the Gap of the North

Saturday 24 January

Dunleer Railway Station (O059880) is a redbrick single-storey building beside a large two-storey dwelling house and other railway buildings. It appears to be in use as a ballast depot. The main buildings are on the down platform and there are traces of a canopy. Directly opposite is a small wooden and brick building with a canopy. There is a good wooden and iron overbridge. The signal cabin is at the north end of the up platform. The running shed opposite has one road but it is now out of use. There is a simple pump just outside the station.

At Julianstown (O134705) the only evidence of the former use of El Molino Restaurant is a fragment of a headrace. About 1km upstream is a large derelict mill (O119705) of two storeys plus basement. There were possibly two internal wheels, indicated by two archways side by side and traces of a tailrace. The mill is in four sections. At the south end is a section three bays long, then a section four bays long. This is followed by the archways (three bays) and finally a short single-bay section. These last sections run eastwards to form an L-shaped building.

Dardistown Castle (O115695) was viewed from the roadside. It appears to be a fine tower with four projecting corner towers. A more modern house is attached.

Fourknocks Passage Tomb (O110621) appears as a round grassy mound now closed by a strong iron door. The estimated diameter of the mound is 18m. A long stone lying near the entrance may have been part of the kerb. It is about 1.5m long by less than 50cm wide. A short passage about 3.5m long by 1.5m high and 1m wide leads to a large circular chamber about 7m diameter. There are three niches. Above two of these (S & W) are good carved lintels. The inner end of the passage at roof level is flanked by a richly carved lintel on the west and a large carved stone on the east. At least one of the orthostats to the east has faint carving. Another stone is now set upright to the west of the entrance and has good carving on two faces. A short distance to the east of the tomb is a small overgrown and mutilated mound about 15m diameter which may be the remains of another passage tomb.

The old church at Naul (O133610) is a simple rectangular structure with a very fine mullioned and transomed east window. The north wall is missing and there are traces of a window in the south wall. The west doorway is very finely decorated and above it is a memorial indicating that the church was built in 1770. A number of the memorials in the churchyard pre-date the church but the gravestones belong mainly to the 19th and 20th centuries. One memorial of 1758 bears the tools of a blacksmith: hammer, pincers and horseshoe.

At Balrothery (O198612) the church has an old tower at the west end. This has a projecting round north-west corner turret about 13m high. The upper portion is of smaller diameter than the lower portion. The top storey of the main tower has a two-light window at each face and the east face has a bell-cote. Lower down in the west wall is a two-light window with ogee heads and a square moulding with one mask. On the east wall just below the window is another mask. The church is boarded up but is intact. The churchyard has mainly 20th century memorials but there some very fine 18th century stones.

To the south of the church is a small castle about four storeys high. The top incorporates a lot of brick and the original doorway in the south wall is now blocked. Above this are some small windows including one with a round head. There is a fine window in the north wall. In the south wall, about first floor level, there is a slopstone. The large openings in this wall apparently led to another building which is now totally removed.

At Balbriggan (O197645) the remains of a church and castle are now protected by a strong fence. There is evidence of some vaulted rooms and there is at least one very fine round-headed window. The derelict building to the east houses a dove-cot.

Sunday 25 January

A cashel was investigated (J145271). It is about 30m diameter with good sections of the original wall up to 2m thick and 2m high. There is a clear entrance in the south. A small grassy mound to the west of the centre may be a house platform. The cashel is greatly mutilated and field clearance hides a lot of detail. The interior is overgrown with bracken and thorn and it is bisected by a field boundary. Another cashel (J146267) appears to be in very good condition. However close inspection was not possible due to the surrounding thorn. The interior is planted with trees.

Lisdoo (J081210) is a cashel with a small cairn in the centre. It is about 40m diameter with walls about 3m thick and less than 1.5m high. Part of the cashel is fenced off to form the back garden of a house which is built just outside the wall to the north. An oil tank is erected just inside the cashel. There are a number of small gaps in the wall but no obvious entrance.

Lisbanemore (J078202) is a cashel about 50m diameter. The walls are less than 1m high on the inside but higher on the outside. The original wall is missing in the west and is replaced by a curving field boundary. The remaining walls are about 2m thick. There is no obvious entrance.

A section of the Dane's Cast was investigated (J058208). It appears as a double bank flanking a shallow ditch. The bank on the south-west disappears after a short distance but reappears further on. The total length is about 140m.

The memorials in St Patrick's Churchyard, Newry (J090266) are mainly of the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the 19th century stones feature the occupation of the deceased, e.g. coppersmith, carpenter, bookmaker.

At Milltown (J132247) the court-tomb is greatly overgrown and very little is to be seen. There is a large low cairn running NE - SW. There may be remains of a chamber at the south-west end but this may also be part of a court. At the other end there may be a similar structure. There is a great deal of rubble and the exact nature of the monument cannot be determined.