Rathmore Church, Meath, Ireland

Rathmore Church was constructed in the 15th century and is certainly one of the most beautifully decorated old ruins I have come across. The church was constructed on the request of Sir Thomas Plunkett, and dedicated to St Lawrence. Plunkett was an eminent lawyer of the time, recently returned from London, and had just been made the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He married Marion Cruise, heiress of Rathmore and took up residence in Rathmore Castle. Rathmore castle still stands – albeit covered in ivy – in the field neighbouring St Lawrence’s Church, and it was just prior to his death 1471 that Plunkett commissioned the build. One of the most beautiful features of the church is the tomb of Sir Thomas Plunkett and Marion Cruise in the ground floor of the sacristy. Another unusual feature is the labyrinth stone that was once in the floor of the building but has been erected on a wall. The graveyard that surrounds the church is home to the base of a High Cross and was bursting with spring overgrowth on my visit. Sadly one of the features that is no longer on show in the church is the medieval carved stone font, the font was stolen in early 2013 but fortunately the font was returned in May of the same year and is now in the care of the OPW.

During the time of Cromwell the lands around Rathmore were confiscated and came under the ownership of the Bligh family, the castle and church quickly fell into ruin. A local tale tells of a church plate and a purse of money buried near the Plunkett’s tomb. One night under the cover of darkness a local began to dig with a spade beside the tomb hoping to find the riches, as he began to dig the ghost of a monk appeared and shrieked at him in anger causing the man to exit quickly!

I’d recommend paying a visit to Rathmore church, there is something ominous about its appearance and the building does seem to have a very strong presence, worth the visit for the labyrinth stone in itself.

GPS: 53.64313, -6.87243

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