The Kells Blackwater

Monday 16 April

In the vicinity of Somervill Bridge, Navan (N873678) are a number of mill-like buildings. There are traces of mill-races but no sign of any wheels. The bridge was built in 1792, lowered in 1839 and widened in 1936. All these dates are recorded on the bridge. The town has little else of interest apart from some small alleys. However most of these have been remodelled and few of the original buildings remain. Navan Motte-and-bailey (N860678) was viewed from the roadside. It is partly overgrown and could not be examined closely.

At St. Patrick's Church, Donaghpatrick (N819725) the graveyard has mainly 19th and 20th century memorials. One 19th century stone, to the Carolan Family, features a very fine winged head. One 18th century stone was erected to Thomas Shirdan, died 1736, aged 84 years. There is a very good example of a Celtic Revival cross erected 1913. It features very fine interlacing and some figure carving which is possibly symbolic of the Evangelists. The church was rebuilt at the end of the last century but the tower is substantially an older structure. Beside the church is a fine standing stone about 2m high by 40cm wide and 30cm thick. Beside this is a plain stone font. Across the road is a small motte, now cleared of most of its vegetation.
At Teltown (N800740)there is a subcircular earthen platform about 100m diameter with traces of an inner bank but no evidence of an outer bank. The platform is up to 5m high in some places but very low in others. It appears to be some sort of ceremonial site.
A small ruined church within a graveyard was visited (N792723). One memorial within the church is dated 1891 and has a fine incised ring-headed cross. Most of the memorials are 19th and 20th century stones but there are some 18th century stones. A fragmentary example is to Philip who departed 1718. It has very fine raised lettering.

Ballybeg Railway Station (N780716) is fairly intact. It consists of a single-storey red-brick house, with yellow-brick arches over the windows. It is now a dwelling-house. Beside it is a wooden-clad single-storey station building. A number of the doors still have original labels e.g Station Master, Ladies Waiting Room. There is a single platform and fragments of the original level-crossing gates. Kells Railway Station (N7397b3) is also fairly complete. It has twin-gabled wings with a short connecting section. There is also a large double goods shed.

At the Church of Ireland Cathedral, Kells an old tower stands separate from the cathedral building. The tower is three storeys high plus spire and has two-light traceried windows with transoms at the second floor. Above the doorway are three carved masks and on the walls are some carved stones including one with a ring-headed cross. To the right of the doorway is a carving of a winged horse carrying a pennant. There is also some Celtic interlacing. Just beside the tower is the much-weathered base of a High Cross. Nearby is a large plain stone font. Behind the church is the shaft of a High Cross with figured panels and interlacing. The Fall of Adam and Eve can be easily seen and other panels may feature the Baptism of Christ and the Visit of the Magi. Between this structure and the Round Tower is a complete High Cross which is richly decorated with interlacing as well as figure carving. This is not laid out in panels as in many other High Crosses. Among the carvings may be seen Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and the Three Hebrew Children in the Fiery Furnace.

The Round Tower stands probably to full height but without the conical cap. The fine round-headed doorway has traces of moulding and there are some small windows as well as the larger windows at the top. On the wall of the church is a slab with a fine incised sundial with a hole for the gnomon. Nearby is an incomplete High Cross. Part of the head is missing and although the cross has been divided into panels for carving very little of the work has been carried out. Not far from the churchyard is St.Columb?s House, an ancient oratory with a stone roof. It was not explored on this occasion. In the centre of the town is the Market Cross, a very fine Scripture Cross. It was not closely inspected.

At Castlekeeran (N688773) are three High Crosses, They are fairly plain crosses featuring ringed-heads with moulding at the edges. One of them has bosses at the centre and another has some interlacing. However there is no figure carving. Near the centre of the overgrown graveyard is a fragment of an old church. Beside it is a fragmentary cross- inscribed stone. The cross is about 80cm high by 50cm wide and has expanded ends. The shaft is about 10cm wide. It features a second cross-piece near the break at the bottom of the stone. The Ogham stone beside this has an inscription on at least two edges. There is also the pyramidal base of a fourth cross.

The ivy-covered ruin of a castle was inspected (N825762). Beside it is a fine pump by John Collins of 32, Shop Street, Drogheda. It is unfortunately dry. The castle has a projecting round tower on the south side. This contains the spiral stairway which is fragmentary. The castle is possibly four storeys high and has a large two-storey wing on the west side. A projecting square tower at the north-east corner contains a series of small chambers. There is a vault over the ground floor room. Access beneath this vault is not easy due to a large amount of rubble. Above the vault in the west wall is a fireplace. There is another fireplace in the east wall of the second floor. There are a number of fireplaces in the west wall of the two-storey wing with a fine oven beside the lower fireplace. There is a round flanking tower at the southwest corner of this section of the castle. A short distance away is a small square ivy-covered tower which may be associated with the castle.