The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"COUNTY MEATH, (or East Meath), a large maritime county in the province of Leinster, Ireland. Its boundaries are, counties Cavan, Monaghan, and Louth, on the N.; the Irish Sea and Dublin on the E.; Kildare and Queen's County on the S.; and Westmeath on the W. It extends between 53° 23' to 53° 55' N. lat., and from 6° 13' to 7° 19' W. long. It is 40 miles in length from N. to S., and 47 broad from E. to W., comprising an area of 906 square miles, or 579,899 statute acres, of which 16,033 are uncultivated, 12,767 are plantations, 547,391 arable, 3,244 under water, and 464 occupied by the sites of towns, &c. The coast line extends for 10 miles, the greater part of which is low and sandy, without any inlet of importance. The surface, though not mountainous, is diversified in contour, and possesses in some of its districts picturesque scenery. The greater part of the arable soil consists of a rich loam. Portions of the bog of Allen take up a considerable area. The principal rivers of the county are the Boyne and Blackwater. Numerous small streams likewise water the county in wending their way towards those waters. The chief lakes are, Sheelin, Bawn, and Kilmainham, also Lough Dereveragh, Lough Annagh, Lough Ennel, Lough Leign, and Lough Drin. About 15 miles of the Royal canal are included within the limits of the county. The climate of Meath is very temperate, and the amount of rainfall under the average. Geologically this county forms the eastern portion of the great central limestone field of Ireland, with clay slate occurring occasionally, also a little coal. There are traces of copper and iron, and paving stones and slate are quarried.

This part of the country was originally inhabited by the Eblani. It afterwards formed part of the kingdom of Meath, subject to the M'Laghlins. It was overrun by the Danes in the 9th century, and again in the 11th century, and after being taken by Strongbow in 1171, was granted to the Lacy family by Henry II. Trim, Dunboyne, Tara, and other places in the county were at different later periods the scene of conflict and siege, as noticed in the descriptions of the various towns and parishes. The inhabitants are almost entirely agriculturists. 10d. to 1s. a day is paid for farm labourers, without rations. Grazing occupies considerable attention. Some coarse linens are manufactured. This county is divided into 18 baronies, viz: Lower and Upper Deece, Lower and Upper Duleek, Lower and Upper Dunboyne, Fore, Lower and Upper. Kells, Lower and Upper Slane, containing together 140 parishes, and parts of 7 others. Trim is the county and assize town. The next principal and market towns are Navan, Kells, Duleek, Athboy, Slane, and Oldcastle. The first four, with Dunshaughlin, are quarter sessions towns, and the first three, with it and Oldcastle, are Poor-law Unions. The county contains 6 police districts, with 51 stations. It is in the Dublin military district, and has barracks at Navan and Trim. The county returned 14 members to parliament before the Union; it now sends two representatives to the imperial parliament. Constituency in 1859, 4,383. It is governed by a lordlieutenant, custos rotulorum, vice-lieutenant, 19 deputy-lieutenants, high sheriff, and about 120 magistrates, &c. It is in the home circuit, and the assizes are held at Trim. The greater part of the county is in the diocese of Meath, with parts in the dioceses of Armagh and Kilmore. The population in 1851 was 140,750, which had decreased in 1861 to 110,373. There are about 137 National schools, besides parochial and sectarian schools. The chief antiquities are-numerous fossils, which are found in the limestone; the great rath at Tara, an interesting object, and anciently a royal seat, was the scene of the coronation of the Irish monarchs; at New Grange, Tailtean, Tlachtga, and Dunsany, are remains, probably Druidical; at Kells and Donaghmore round towers; at Trim, Newtown, Duleek, Bective, Ballybogan, Clonard, Castle Kieran, Fingall, Lough Sheelin, Balsoon, Navan, Slane, Trevet, Killeen, Horan's Cross, and Skreen, remains of abbeys, churches, and ecclesiastical buildings. There are castles at Trim, Athlumney, Scurlogstown, Dunmow, Moyrath, Athcarne, Asigh, Donaghmore, Navan, Dangan, and Laracor. The principal residences in the county are-Dunsany Castle, of Lord Dunsany; Killeen, of Earl Fingal; Slane, of Marquis of Conyngham; Headfort House, of Marquis of Headfort; Rathmore, of Earl Darnley; Dowth, of Viscount Netterville; Stackallan, of Viscount Boyne; Corbalton, of Viscount Gormanstown; Ardbraccan, of the Bishop of Meath; Trimlestown, of Lord Trimlestown; Lismullin, of Baron Dillon, &c. The family of Brabazon takes from hence the title of Earl of Meath. The chief communications of the county are the Royal canal, the Dublin and Drogheda, and the Dublin and Meath railways; and the coach roads from Navan to Tara, Dunshaughlin, Ratouth, Greenoge, Swords, Clonee, and Dublin; to Duleek, Drogheda, Julianstown, and Gormanstown; to Slane, Tulliallen, Drogheda, Collon, Dundalk, Drumcondra, Carrickmacross, and Monaghan; to Donaghpatrick, Kells, Moynalty, Bailieborough, and Virginia; and, lastly, to Trim, Clonard, Castle-Jordan, Kilcock, and Maynooth. The diocese of Meath is in the ecclesiastical province of Armagh, and comprises the quondam dioceses of Clonard, Duleek, Kells, Trim, and others. It spreads over nearly all the counties of Meath and Westmeath, about half over King's County, and over portions of Cavan, Longford, and Kildare. It contains 107 benefices and 26 curates. It has neither cathedral nor chapter. Ardbraccan House is the seat of the bishop, whose revenue is £4,308. The Roman Catholic diocese includes 68 parishes. The, episcopal residence is at Mullingar.


[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2018