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MONASTERBOICE, a parish, in the barony of FERRARD, county of LOUTH, and province of LEINSTER, 2½ miles (E. S. E.) from Collon, near the road from Drogheda to Dunleer; containing 705 inhabitants.

This place is chiefly distinguished for the remains of the monastery from which it derived its name, founded by St. Bute or Boetius, the son of Bronagh, who died in 521; it was plundered in 968, and in 1097 was destroyed by fire. From this time it appears to have subsisted only for a few years; the last abbot of whom any notice occurs died in 1117. The parish comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 2316½ statute acres, most of which is good land, and in a profitable state of cultivation. Monasterboice, the seat of W. Drummond Delap, Esq., who has a large estate here and is planting on an extensive scale, is undergoing great improvement, and a spacious mansion is now being erected by the proprietor. It is a rectory, in the diocese of Armagh, forming part of the union of Dunleer; the tithes amount to £116. 12. The ruins of the monastery are of very interesting character: at a short distance from each other are the walls and gables of two churches or chapels, the architecture of which denotes very great antiquity; the windows are of freestone, but the rest of the building is of a slaty stone found in the surrounding hills. On the south side of the western church are two ancient and elaborately sculptured stone crosses, one 18 and the other 16 feet high; the larger, apparently formed of an entire stone, and called St. Boyne's Cross, has near its base some obliterated characters, supposed to be traces of the name Muredach, King of Ireland, who died in 534; the arms are enclosed within a circle, and the shaft and other parts are ornamented with figures sculptured in relief, which, though much defaced, appear to have represented scriptural subjects; on one side is the crucifixion, and on the 3D other a figure of St. Patrick. Near the western extremity of this chapel are the remains of an ancient round tower, diminishing gradually in circumference from its base, which is 18 feet in diameter, to the summit which has an elevation of 110 feet; it is divided by circular projecting abutments, for the support of floors, into five stories; the internal diameter is 9 feet, and the doorway is about 6 feet from the ground. The surrounding cemetery is still used; in digging a grave were found three ancient Anglo-Saxon coins, two of the reign of Edmund, and one of that of Athelstan.

from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.


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