Video of Ashbourne Town, County Meath, Republic of Ireland
Recent archaeological excavations in the area around Ashbourne have revealed evidence
of settlement back to neolithic times. In the townland of Rath, to the north of the
town centre, a Bronze Age settlement was found during the construction of the M2
motorway. Excavations in the vicinity of the cemetery Killegland revealed the extent
of the early Christian settlement, with souterrains, house sites and a large enclosure
centred around the remains of the church that is visible in the cemetery. This would
link the townland name of Killegland - meaning Declan's Church - to pre-Patrician
settlement in the area. Archaeological excavations on the site of Lidl supermarket
revealed the original medieval town, with several house remains, associated field
systems, fish traps and mill races.
Hugh de Lacey set about building fortified houses, called mottes and baileys, in
case the native Irish would regroup and attack. The remains of a motte and bailey
can be found in Ratoath 5 km from Ashbourne.
Once settled, Hugh de Lacey divided the land among his army. A large portion at Killeglan
was given to a family called Wafre in 1220. This family lived there until 1420, the
last member of this family having built a tower house (a fortified house often called
a castle). The castle and lands became the property of the Segrave family, who remained
owners until 1649. They became one of the most influential and wealthy non-aristocratic
families in Ireland during the 16th century, with two gaining the high political
office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, while another became Sheriff of Meath.
However, their political power and possessions were removed during the religious
wars of 1641 to 1650. Indeed, during the Cromwellian period, Oliver Cromwell's son,
Henry, stayed for a time in Killeglan Castle. With the final subjugation of the native
Irish after 1690, and the imposition of religious persecution in the Penal Laws,
a new land-owner named Thomas Carter gained possession of the Killeglan lands. He
did not live there, and the castle fell into dis-repair and eventually into ruin.
The Carter family held high office in Irish politics during the 18th century but
their fortunes waned in the early 19th century. When the Carter estates were sold
in the 1840s, the Killegland lands were bought by Frederick Bourne.
Ashbourne, historically called Killeglan or Kildeglan] (Irish: Cill Dhéagláin, meaning
"Déaglán's church"), is a town in County Meath, Ireland. It is about 20 km north
of Dublin city centre and is bypassed by the M2motorway.