St Brigid, Cannistown (Ardsallagh)

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Feature Sets (2)


Nave and chancel church. The chancel (22.4 m x 7 m) is rubble-built with sandstone dressings with a possibly 13thc. door in the S wall and pointed lancet windows in the N and S walls. It has a round-headed chancel arch. The nave probably dates from the 15thc. and has limestone dressings. In the S wall of the nave are two ogival windows and a doorway. In the W wall is a cusped, ogee-headed window with belfry above.


A monastery was founded at the site in the 6thc., by St Finnian of Clonard. The present remains post-date the Anglo-Norman invasion. Following the invasion, lands here were granted to Hugh de Lacey and subsequently to the Nangle family.


Interior Features


Chancel arch

A semi-circular chancel arch with a keeled angle roll followed by a fillet and half rolls.

N label stop

The label stop is carved with a hunting scene showing three hounds springing on a long-tailed animal, possibly a wolf or a fox, which in turn has seized a smaller animal. Next to these is a tree/bush and a half-length figure of a man blowing a horn.

S label stop

This label stop is very worn. It is carved with three half-length figures. The central figure has close-fitting garments or armour and holds a staff or batton. The outer figures wear robes, and each lays a hand on the central figure. In front of the figures is a table. The only object on this that is still easily readable is a cup or chalice below the hand of the R figure. Weathered carving, which appears to represent the drapes of a table-cloth lies below.

Interior Decoration


N corbel

An animal is carved on the upper part, a human head lies below. The groove for the beam can be seen on the upper surface.

S corbel

More damaged than N corbel. Carved with the remains of a full-length standing figure, clasping an object to its breast. Under the figure's feet are three small heads, possibly of demons.


Figurative carving of this scale and quality is rare in Ireland, with perhaps the closest parallels occurring at Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin. The moulding profiles of the 13thc. detailing also find parallels at Christchurch and at the cathedral of SS Peter and Paul at Newtown Trim, suggesting a date in the early part of the 13thc. Du Noyer identifies the scenes as an otter hunt and the last supper.


  • A. Cogan, The Diocese of Meath, Dublin, 1862, I, 113-116.
  • G. Du Noyer, 'Ardsallagh' Sketchbook, X, 17, 18, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.
  • H. Crawford, 'Cannistown Church, Co. Meath,' Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 51, 1921, 125-132.
  • M. Moore, Archaeological Inventory of Co. Meath, Dublin, 1987, 128.
  • L. de Paor, Chronological Problems of Irish Romanesque. Unpublished MA Thesis Univercity College Dublin ,1956.
  • W. Wakeman, Handbook of Irish Antiquities, Dublin, 1891, 204.


Site Location
Cannistown (Ardsallagh)
National Grid Reference
N 88 64 
now: Meath
now: St Brigid
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Ruined parish church  
Report authors
Rachel Moss