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the traces of letters; and a supposed inscription is engraved in Ledwicb's Antiquities of Ireland. But it requires a warm imagination to discover characters of writing, in any of these rude carvings. Sir Richard Hoare, whose experience in the investigation of the most antient sepulchral remains of the British isles, far exceeds that of any other person, speaking of this monument, in his “ Tour," observes “ that those marks which he noticed on many of the stoves, bore very little resemblance to letters, and a great similarity to the ornaments he has found on the antient British uras, discovered under tamuli in Wiltshire."
In one of the three recesses which form the head and branches of the cross, is a stone basin, or vase; and a similar basin was originally placed in each of the other recesses. This vessel is about three feet six inches in length, and three feet two inches in depth. It was first noticed by Sir R. Hoare, that, within its excavated part, are two circular cavities, placed by the side of each other, and about the size of a child's head.
We are told by Dr. Molyneux that, “ when the cave was first opened, two entire skeletons, not burned, were found on the floor." From some MS, additions made by Mr. Wright to the “Louthiana,” we learn that these remains of mortality, were found Dear a pillar, at no great distance from the centre of the domely, and that Deers’ horns, and other bones were also discovered. These animal vestiges, like those of the human form, did not aps pear to have undergone cremation.
Dr. Molyneux, and many succeeding writers, ascribed this very curious monument to the Danes. Such a conjecture was well suited to the opinions of Dr. Ledwich, 'who appears anxious to attribate to that people all subjects of antiquity which baffle ready inquiry. - This latter writer, however, finds some difficulties in ascribing to the Danes the mode of sepulture here adopted, which he endeavours to solve by supposing that the builders of this fabric were but “ semi-christians';' as, except the cruciform plan of the tomb, every circumstance evidently displays pagan practices. The period to which he assigns the monument is the early part of the ninth century; at which time “ piratical rovers" from the
north greatly infested Ireland. “ They generally debarked," writes this antiquary, “ in the Boyne, where, securing their ships, they spread devastation around, to a considerable extent," — and then, in conformity to their habits as piratical rovers, returned to their ships, and departed with their booty.-Can any person, not predetermined to overlook the grossest improbabilities, agree with this writer in believing that a band of freebooters, in the haste and turmoil of a piratical expedition, found leisure to construct a tomb requiring so much labour, beneath a vast mound of earth, surrounded by ponderons stones ?
Whilst we decline to acquiesce in the opinions of Dr. Ledwich, we are compelled to state that there appears to be considerable difficulty in appropriating, by rational conclusions, this singular tomb to its due nation and date. The form of the cross, adopted in the plan of the interior, alone prevents the inquirer from ascribing it, without hesitation, to a remote period in the Celtic and Belgic occupancy of the island.
On this subject the reader may be reminded that the figure of the cross was used by the antient Egyptians, as a symbol of future life. It is also worthy of remark, that, in Borlase's Antiquities of Cornwall, may be seen an engraving of a temple, in the island of Lewes, consisting of upright and unhewn stones, disposed most distinctly in a cruciform manner, having a circular area in the upper part, from which the cross branches diverge.
If this difficulty be surmounted, there exists no obstacle to our ascribing the monument at New Grange to the native Irish, of a very distant date. Several barrows, or tumuli, in England, the undoubted works of Celtic or Belgic tribes, have been found to contain a gallery, or passage, formed of large stones, and leading to one or more Kistvaens, or small roofed places of sepolture.
Duleek, a decayed town, of much former consequence, is situated near the northern extremity of the county, on the borders of the Nannay water. The earliest historical circumstances relating to this place, are connected with its religious foundations,
with the prosperity and decline of which, the fortunes of Duleek, indeed, rose and fell. It is said that an abbey was built here by St. Patrick, who placed over the new institution St. Kienan, or Cienan, a holy personage baptized by him in the year 450. Within the walls of this building were deposited, for a short time, the remains of the renowned monarch of Ireland, Brien Boirhoimh, together with those of his son and grandson, who fell at the battle of Clontaff, A.D. 1014. These sacred ashes were removed hence, for sepulture at Armagh.
This abbey was repeatedly plundered by the Danes, and was thrice destroyed by fire, the last conflagration taking place in 1169. The building then condemned to the flames is recorded, in the annals of the four Masters, to have been composed of stone; and, if we may rely on the testimony adduced by Ware, the fabric raised by St. Kienan was formed of the same material.* It appears that, in the year 1182, Hugh de Lacy refounded this abbey, as a cell to the priory of Lanthony, near Gloucester, for canons regular following the rule of St. Augustin. The foundation was richly endowed, and, after the suppression of religious houses, nearly the whole of its extensive possessions were granted to Sis Gerald, or Garrett, Moore, afterwards created Baron Moore of Mellefont, and Viscount Drogheda, from whom they have partly descended to the present Marquess of Drogheda. Considerable remains of the abbey-church, or cathedral, still exist, including a tower through which is worked a gate of entrance.
A Priory, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was founded here for regular canons, by the family of O'Kelly, before the arrival of the Anglo-Normans. The greater part of the lands, and other possessions, of this monastery were also granted, after the dissolution, to Sir Gerald Moore, at the annual rent of £9: 11: 7. and on condition of " his maintaining an archer on the said lands, for erer." There was, likewise, an hospital in this town, concerning which few historical traces have been discovered.
*“ It is said in the Office of St. Kenan', which is extant in Ms. in the public library at Cambridge, that St. Kenan built a church of stone in this place, and that from thence it took the name of Damleagh; Daimh, in the old Irish, signifying a house, and liag a stone." Ware's Bishops, p. 137 and nole. On the authority of this passage in Ware, it is popularly said that the antient church of Duleek was the first church in Ireland built of stone.
Duleek was constituted an episcopal see by St. Kienan, himself sitting as the first bishop ; which see was united, in an early age, to the bishoprick of Meath. After the entry of the AngloNormans this manor became part of the estate of the family of Verdon, or de Verdon, who held here courts leet and baron. Froin the manuscript collections of Sir W. Betham we learn that the town of Duleek had a Provost, so lately as the reign of Edward II.
Somerville, the mansion of Sir Marcus Somerville, Bart. a representative of the county of Meath in the Imperial Parliament, is finely situated on the banks of the Nannay water. The house, a spacious and very respectable structure, occupies an elevated and commanding site, and is surrounded by an extensive and beautiful demesne. The river Nannay here widens into the resemblance of a lake, and the grounds, which abound with inequalities of surface favourable to the picturesque, are enriched by much venerable wood.
ATICARNE CASTLE, on the borders of the Nannay water, comes under the description of a fortifed house, but is of no great extent or beauty. On one of the walls are the remains of a coat of arms, and the following initials and date : W. B. I. D. 1590. This structure was a residence of the De Bathe family, long respectably seated in the county of Meath.
PLATTEN, a seat two miles from Duleek, towards the northeast, occupies the site of a large and fine castle, erected by the family of D'Arcy, the first of which family that attained distinction in Ireland was Sir John D'Arcy, several times chief governor in the reign of Edward II, and his successor; from which Sir John were descended the D'Arcies settled at Platten. Sir William D'Arcv, vice-treasurer of Ireland in 1523, and author of a work
termed “ The Decay of Ireland, and the causes of it,” was born in the castle of Platten, and died here, at a very advanced age, in the year 1540.
GORMANSTON, a village to the south-east of Duleek, on the road to Drogheda, and in the vicinity of the sea-coast, gives the title of viscount to the family of Preston, who have a large and handsome seat at this place. The manor of Gormanston, extending into the counties of Meath and Dublin, was first acquired by this family in the reign of Edward III. Sir Robert Preston, deputy to Richard, Duke of York, Lord Deputy of Ireland, was created Viscount Gormanston in 1478.
· SKRYNE, also written SKRINE, and Screen, which imparts
its name to a barony in this county, is now a place of little consideration, but was formerly the chief seat of the De Feipo family. Adam de Feipo, on whom Hugh de Lacy bestowed large possessions in this part of Meath, built a castle here, of which the ruins still remain. The family of Marward were palatinate barons of Skryne in the fifteenth century, and remained so until the time of Queen Elizabeth, in whose reign Jeuet, the daughter and heir of the last baron, carried this estate, by marriage, to William Nogent, Esq. An abbey of regular canons had existed in this town from an early period, which sank to decay in the twelfth century, or was merged in a friary of Augustinian Eremites, founded by the De Feipo family; some ruinous traces of which are still to be seen. A new church has been recently erected at this place, with the aid of £500 given, and the same sum lent, by the Board of First Fruits. The country in this part of Meath abounds in Datural charms, and is highly cultivated.
TARAGH, about nineteen miles from Dublin, and five miles from Dunshaglin, towards the north west, is of great antiquarian interest, from its connexion with important national solemnities in the early periods of Irish history. The Hill of Taragy, or Teamor, from Teagh-mor, the great house, or Teagh-mor-ragh,