Castletown Kilpatrick Church, Meath, Ireland

Castletown Kilpatrick church, also known simply as St Patricks, is a Church of Ireland ‘Board of First Fruits’ church built in 1823 under the direction of the bishop of Meath Thomas Lewis O’Beirne. The Board of First Fruits was a body set up to renovate old disused churches and construct new churches, glebe houses and schoolhouses, in the first quarter of the 19th century almost 700 churches were built with the aid of these grants. The Church stands on the site of an earlier medieval church that is mentioned as early as 1306 in the ecclesiastical records of Pope Nicholas IV. The church fell into ruin by 1641 and is depicted in the Down Survey of 1656-58 as being a roofless ruin. Many parts of the earlier structure were incorporated into the First Fruits designed church. The church’s declining number of worshippers led to it closing for services during the mid 1960s, it has since then rapidly fallen into decay.

The ruin as it stands today is unusual as the walled pathway that leads to its entrance is below the level of the graveyard. I visit many such places and by and large I feel nothing unusual or untoward but I must say St Patrick’s C of I was one place that certainly had a palpable ominous feeling that I wasn’t feel welcome there, and there was a sense of disorientation. Perhaps it was the late evening light disappearing quickly as I took the photos, or the noise of the crows endlessly caw-cawing in the surrounding trees but I have read many other people’s reports on visiting the site and they seem to echo the same opinion as I do. Perhaps any readers who have visited this church would care to share their feelings in the comments.

Lastly there is a well nearby the church known as St Patrick’s from which the church gets its name. It was believed that St Patrick stopped at this well on his way to Slane and knelt on a stone nearby and prayed, the tracks of his hands and knees apparently ‘still to be seen’ as stated by a contributor to the Duchas Schools Collection of 1938.

GPS: 53.78673, -6.71453

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