North-east Leinster and Down

Saturday 24 June
St Peter’s Churchyard, Drogheda (O091755), has a very fine tombstone featuring a male and female cadaver. Both figures have open shrouds tied at the top and bottom. There is an extensive inscription but it is difficult to read. The figures are larger than life- size. There are four other tombstones featuring armorial shields flanked by angels. One side of each shield shows three creatures which may be birds but the other side of each is different. The gravestones throughout the churchyard are mainly 19th century and modern but there are some fine 18th century stones. The church dates from the second half of the 18th century.

A short distance from the church is St Lawrence’s Gate (O095753), consisting of two circular battlemented towers linked by a loop-holed curtain. It dates from the 13th century. The buildings nearby in St Lawrence’s Street include the Whitworth Hall and the former premises of Drogheda Grammar School.
Near Howth Abbey (O286391) is an interesting gabled house of two storeys plus attic. It is roofless and in poor condition but part of an extension at the rear is still in use. There are a number of small round-headed single-light windows with fine pecked decoration. A larger window in the extension has a square hood-mould.

The ruined “abbey” has a triple bell-cot at the west end. It is a rectangular church with a north aisle. Inside is a fine double-effigy tomb with weepers. However the church was locked on this occasion and the tomb could not be closely inspected. The graveyard wall has very fine crenellations indicating a later fortification of the site. The memorials are 19th and 20th century.
A small Martello tower (O288393) was viewed from the pathway. It is possibly three storeys high and roofed. The entrance is at first floor level. The tower could not be closely inspected.
Howth Castle (O278391) appears to be an old tower house with a more recent house attached. The tower house is joined by a hall (two storeys plus basement) to a similar tower, possibly early 16th century. A crenellated wing runs at right angles to this to a 15th century gatehouse tower. This wing forms the south edge of a good stable yard which features some fine dormer windows and a small clock turret. A 19th century castellated wing runs east from the oldest tower to form the third side of an entrance courtyard which is open on the east side. The transport collection in the castle grounds includes a restored Hill of Howth tramcar, a Dublin United Tramways car (burnt but being restored) and a Giant’s Causeway tramcar (being restored). There are many good buses and a number of commercial vehicles. There is also an armoured personnel carrier and a fire engine.

A castle to the north of Portmarnock is now incorporated into a modern house and was not closely inspected. It stands to full height and has a projecting tower on the north side. The Martello tower (O243455) to the north of this has been greatly modified. It has a conical roof, dormer windows and a large attached wing.
Beside Malahide Castle, which was not inspected at this time, is a small rectangular church (O220454) with a bell-cot at the west end. There is a mask over the doorway in the south wall and a residential tower at the SE corner. Inside the church is a single-effigy tomb. There is no sign of the sheila-na-gig mentioned in the Shell Book.
Lanestown Castle (O210497) is a tower house standing to full height. There is no visible entrance and the interior could not be investigated. There is a slight projection at the NE corner and a gable mark on the east wall. Another projection at the SW corner has a small squinch. There is a projecting turret at the SE corner.

Newbridge House nearby (O215501) has two storeys plus basement. The entrance front has six bays with a pedimented tripartite doorcase. There is a solid roof parapet with urns and eagles at the corners. At the rear is a very fine cobbled stableyard with a working water pump and horse trough. There is a good collection here of old farm machinery including varieties of seed drills. There are two fire engines. One of them is a hand pump. The other is a petrol driven pump made by Konrad Rosenbaur of Linz, Austria. Both machines are horse-drawn.
Portraine Castle (O250512) has a doorway in the north wall protected by a murder hole. A straight mural stairway rises to the left. The tower is vaulted above the first floor and there are two storeys above the vault. Another stairway rises at the NW corner. A projecting tower at the NE is topped by a small turret. There are good crenellations and a chimney in the west wall.

Lusk Round Tower (O215545) is attached to one corner of a massive church tower which has three smaller round towers at the other corners. The Round Tower has a plain top but the other towers are crenellated. There is a fine square-headed doorway with inclined jambs about 1m above the present ground level. The Round Tower is locked but it can be seen that there are floors and ladders inside.
A good motte was noted near Laytown (O160712). It was not closely inspected. Beaulieu House (O127768) has two storeys with a dormered attic. There is a seven bay entrance front with the two end bays on either side breaking forward. The side elevation has six bays and features two triangular pedimented doorcases. Near the house is a church beside which is a tombstone with a cadaver. This could not be closely inspected. Beside it is a coffin lid with a floriated cross.
Sunday 25 June
Lisnagade Fort (J086440) is a massive rath with three banks and two ditches, all in good condition. The interior has now only low undergrowth and a beech tree just off centre. The banks are planted with a variety of well established trees as well as small bushes. The diameter of the inner platform is about 60m and the total diameter of the rath is about 110m. There is a smaller rath annexed to the north by two straight ditches. This rath is very low and is about 30m diameter. It is surrounded by a single ditch.
Lisnavarragh Fort (J081442) is another trivallate rath. It has an oval platform and is smaller than Lisnagade. There is much less undergrowth and trees. Between the two raths is a smaller rath which could not be inspected closely due to a crop in the field.
A section of the Dane’s Cast (J077436) was investigated. It runs over a small hill and is bisected by a narrow road. It consists of two substantial banks enclosing a wide ditch. A small rath was visited (J172509). The centre is occupied by dead wood and nettles. There is a good circular platform about 28m diameter. There are traces of an inner bank but no ditch or outer bank. The entrance is in the north and the platform is quite high elsewhere. Another rath of similar size was investigated near Dromore (J201534). There is at least half of a circular platform with a bank. It is missing on the west side but there are good traces of a ditch and outer bank elsewhere.

Dromore Railway Station (J197534) has an intact goods shed. The station building is a two-storey square redbrick structure with some low extensions along the platform. To the south of the station is a fine viaduct over the River Lagan. Dromore Cross (J200533) is an unpierced ring-headed structure. Most of the head and part of the shaft is original. The rest dates from a restoration of 1887. It is very weathered but the shaft has some fine decorated panels. Dromore Castle (J202532) is very ruinous. It is rubble-built with some brick modifications. It is about three storeys high and has some narrow square-headed slits. It appears to have been a square structure with a projecting east portion most of which is now gone. Dromore Motte & Bailey (J206531) is a very fine structure. A massive motte stands to the NW of a large rectangular bailey. The whole thing is surrounded by a substantial bank and ditch. The top of the motte has a low bank.

Ballooly Standing Stone (J208467) is about 210cm high by 80cm wide and 40cm at thickest. It is wedge-shaped. It has a very good cup mark about 15cm by 18cm, surrounded by a shallow mark about 4cm wide. A small ruined cashel (J239419) was investigated. It is about 32m diameter. The walls are generally less than 1m high but up to 2m thick and sharply defined. There is no obvious entrance.