Meath Heritage
 
 

Beamore Heritage Trail

 

Lofty ash trees, large crops of wheat and fine meadows

While the stone and bronze age remains found in the rural area to the south of Drogheda confirm settlements lost in the mists of antiquity, the most visible ancient remains in eastern Meath are those from the Anglo-Norman Period.Meath was granted by Henry II of England to Hugh de Lacy in 1172 and this began a very co-ordinated plan of settlement and colonisation in the area. Military fortresses and walled towns came first and were followed by the establishment of manors as agricultural centres and then rural villages with churches.Drogheda, the area around the bridge at the ford on the River Boyne, developed between 1150 and 1210 on the south side of the river. This existence of a market town and seaport has had a vital role in the economic life of the surrounding hinterland ever since.In journeying into Beamore and Kilsharvan we are following the same paths as figures from every period of Ireland's history: prehistoric hunters and farmers bound for Brú na Bóinne; Saint Patrick and his monks; the Danes; de Lacy and the Normans; the protagonists of 1641; Oliver Cromwell; stragglers from the Battle of the Boyne in 1690; optimistic United Irishmen at the end of the 1700's; victims of the Great Famine; idealists of 1916; raiding parties of The Troubles; and local people living everyday lives in an area of low rainfall, good arable land and great potential.Isaac Butler described Beamore in the 1740's as hedged about with lofty ash trees and surrounded by large crops of wheat and fine meadows. On your journey through the area, you will find that many aspects of Beamore / Kilsharvan remain similar today.

Setting out from Drogheda take the road signposted for The Naul (R108) and go under the bridge at Coolagh. After threequarters of a mile we come to the first of our stations The Liberties Bridge. The total journey, beginning and ending in Drogheda, is just over nine miles.

 

            Beamore Map

1. The Liberties Bridge

The stream under this bridge is known as The Bog and marks the boundary between Bryanstown and Beamore Townlands. It is also the boundary of the County of the Town of Drogheda, which existed as a separate administrative area for hundreds of years and lost this status in 1923. The Bog flows eastwards towards the sea, changes its name to the Stameen River and enters the Boyne Estuary at Mornington Church. Distance to next point : 0.2 miles

2. Beaubec Monastery

The rectangular building visible from here, to the east, has been dated to the 13th century by an archaeological dig carried out in 1997 by Donald Murphy. Note the sandstone window in the southern wall. These remains are either from the Cistercian Monastery of Beaubec (1216) or a later preceptory of the Knights Hospitallers, and were used as a pigeon house and flaxmill in the 18th century. The surrounding field contains traces of the linen industry (retting ponds, stones) and an ice house from the early 18th century. The Butter Gate in Drogheda may be a corruption of the Beaubec Gate. The ice house was associated with Thomas Pearson's Big House of 1720 which is visible today only in sewers and foundations northeast of the Beaubec building. Distance to next point : 100 metres

3. Beamore Crossroads

For centuries this was a place of gathering and entertainment for local people and those who walked from the Doola Gate area of Drogheda. Card games, skittles, melodeon-playing and pitch and toss took place here under the trees and in front of the Viceregal Lodge as the small gatehouse was humorously titled. Joe Farrelly was the last to live here and social life at the crossroads declined after the 1950's. Distance to next point : 0.9 miles

4. Cooperhill Brickworks

The brickworks were owned by Harry Osborne of Dardistown Castle and supplied red bricks to many of Drogheda's buildings, including Saint Joseph's Convent (1896), Dublin Road. Production ceased in 1920. Only the clay pits now remain. Distance to next point : 0.8 miles

5. Cooperhill House

This was the site of a mediæval convent and later the residence of John Cooper, Chief Clerk of the Treasury (1719-1808). The Coopers lived here for 200 years until the 1930's, and were followed by the Corscadden family and the present owner Mrs. Mary Ryan. The house was burned by Republicans on the 7th of February 1923 but was later restored. Mrs Ryan operated a guesthouse of quality in Cooperhill for many years but is now retired. Distance to next point : 0.3 miles

6. St Colmcille's Well, Shallon Reputedly the water cures warts and sores.

The small statue of a monk dates to the 14th century and is carved from oolite stone brought from England. Distance to next point : 0.6 miles

7. Roadside Shrine, Shallon

The centre stone shows a cross with an angel on each side.The eastern stone shows a flower and the western another cross. Funerals traditionally halted here and the De Profundis was said for the departed soul. The side stones date from 1500 and were part of another wayside cross before being moved to this site. The incised centre cross commemorates a sudden death at that location. Distance to next point : 0.4 miles

8. Kilsharvan House

While the main house dates from 1820, it also incorporates a 16th century miller's house. Kilsharvan was the residence of the Armstrong, McDonnell, and Shorter families for 200 years. A tulip tree in front of the house is reputed to be over 400 years old. The Armstrongs ran a flourishing linen mill. A circular watchtower is still extant in the Bleach Field. The McDonnells originated in County Antrim and were a noted medical family. The house is now the property of the Duffy family. Distance to next point : adjacent

9. Kilsharvan Cemetery

Dates back to the 13th century. The church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist the bitter tongued, thus the name Cill Searbhain OEchurch of the bitter tongued one. The church has been in ruins since 1641. The Augustinian monastery at Colpe, erected by Hugh de Lacy in 1182, was endowed with the tithes of the church at Kilsharvan. There are 150 inscriptions, the earliest being to John Cofee, died March 1734. The oldest person recorded is Mary Flinn, who died 1922 at the age of 105. A record of burials since 1939 is kept locally (Tel. 041 983 7273). The McDonnell plot contains the remains of John McDonnell who on January 1st, 1847 used ether as an anaesthetic for the first time in Ireland. He amputated the arm of Mary Kane, an 18 year old girl from County Meath, in a Dublin hospital, thus becoming the first surgeon outside the United States to use this method. Inside the church is a classical aedicule tombstone to Philip Tonge, dated 1772. An annual Ecumenical Cemetery Devotion is held on a Friday in July. Distance to next point : 0.7 miles

10. Beamond Mill

The mill was built in 1800 by John McCann and used a steam engine for power when the river was low. The oatmeal produced was of very high quality and won many prizes throughout the world in the period 1851 to 1883. During this time a lot of meal was exported to the United States of America. John McCann Jr. merged with R. R. Hill of Drogheda in 1896 and Beamond Mill closed in 1898. The building was demolished in 1936. The McCanns came from North Louth and were still in milling in Newry up to the 1990's. The family are buried in Kilsharvan graveyard in a railed plot with no name. Distance to next point : 1.9 miles

11. Mount Hanover House

This is a tall mid-eighteenth century Georgian house and was the residence of the Mathews family for 150 years. The Mathews were a noted clerical, business, and political family in the locality. Father Tom Mathews started the project for Saint Mary's Church, Drogheda, in 1878. James Mathews, J.P., was Mayor of Drogheda in 1846/47/53/65/66 and Patrick Mathews, J.P., in 1850. The family were involved in the formation of the Drogheda Steampacket Company (1826-1902).The house and lands were sold to Mr. Noel Ryan in the 1980's. Distance to next point : 2 miles

12. Crofty Hill

This was the meeting-place in 1642 between the Catholic Anglo-Irish Lords of the Pale under Lord Gormanston and the Northern rebels under Rory O Neill. Lord Gormanston asked O Neill, Why come ye armed to the Pale? O Neill is said to have replied, To safeguard freedom and religious liberty and maintain loyalty to the King! This meeting led to another at Tara a week later and then to the Confederation of Kilkenny, thus uniting the Old Irish with the Anglo-Irish Lords in a parliament which governed Ireland from 1642-49. Distance to next point : 1 mile

13. Beamore Races

These races were held under INHS rules as a point-to-point meeting and were run annually from 1945-1959 on lands owned by the Hoey family of Beamore. The vantage point for spectators and judges was on the north side of Crofty Hill and the course was a three-mile run bounded by the Cooperhill, Platin and Crofty roads. The sponsoring hunt was the Littlegrange Harriers and the event took place on a Monday in March or April. The trophies awarded included the Uncle Tim Cup, the Morco Cup, the Galbraith Cup and the Schwer Cup. The entrance fee for a rider was one pound but nearby farmers were free of entry.Distance to Drogheda boundary mark : 1 mile

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