Although the castle dominates at Liscarton,
an interesting range of buildings
can be found here on this
beautiful site along the Blackwater
about 21/2 miles from Navan on the road to Kells.
Since the 17th century,
there has been evidence of a
ruined 15th century church
with a fine carved window,
a corn mill, a weir, 2 castles,
a fortified gatehouse with evidence of a murder hole,
and eighteenth century stables and yards.
The name Liscartan has been translated as Cartan's Fort, which would seem to indicate that this was defensive site since at least the 12th century. From some of the earliest references to the site, it would appear that the lands were part of lands granted to the original Abbey in Navan by the O'Rourkes of Breffni.
Liscarton Castle is a 15th century building. It originally consisted of 2 towers connected by a large hall. One of the towers was reduced in height and converted into living accommodation around 1800. The other tower is 4 storeys high. Two carved heads and one carved dog's head can be seen in the stonework. Its last recorded owner was Sir Richard Talbot Bart. in 1633.
View of Liscartan c.1850 by George Hanlon (note unique thatched castle on left)
(left) View towards the sky through the
roofless 15th century tower at Liscarton.
Photo N&DHS (2013)
In the 15th century it was recorded that Jane Taafe had inherited lands at Liscarton. In 1403 she sought permission to take scrub from Barfotstown wood in order to produce lime for the construction of a castle at Liscarton. According to the artist and antiquarian George Victor Du Noyer, her husband built the manorial church the following year. Following Jane's death, the castle passed to Nicholas Rowe, a son of her first marriage to Peter Rowe.
The Civil Survey of the mid 17th century recorded Sir Robert Talbott of Carrtowne (Carton), Adam Missett of Bellewstown (Irish Papist) as possessing lands at Liscarton.
["There being on the sd lands Two Castles, a Church, a Mill and a Weare. " Civil Survey of County of Meath Vol V Robert C. Simmington]
Robert Talbot was the brother of Richard Talbot, the Lord Lieutenant under James II, (1686).
At the end of the 17th century, Liscarton is recorded as the residence of William Cadogan, who defended Trim Castle during the 1641 Rebellion. He was later High Sheriff of Meath and died in 1660.
In the 18th century, Lewis recorded that Liscarton was the birthplace of the first Lord Cadogan. William Cadogan followed a military career, and fought at the Blenheim (1704) and Malplaquet (1709). He was elevated to the peerage in 1716, eventually becoming Earl Cadogan.
In 1740 Isaac Butler referred to Liscarton as "a noble large fabrick of fine hewn stone at present in decay".
It appears that the Gerrard family of Gibbstown occupied Liscarton for much of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. Lewis records a Thomas Gerrard operating a substantial flour mill nearby. A deed from 1841 records "....a dwelling house, corn mills, kilns, water courses and stores". The lease was made between Thomas and William Gerrard and James, Michael and Thomas Cullen. All were brothers of Paul Cullen, theologian, scholar and the first Irish Cardinal, who died in 1878. Several letters from him were addressed from Liscarton Castle.
The Cullens operated the mill as a profitable enterprise for the rest of the 19th century.
Liscarton Castle early 20th century, viewed from the rear. Note people on the lawn and the ivied outline of the medieval tower.
Next to Liscarton Castle stands the ruins of the manor church of Liscarton, pictured below in 2012. It is a simple rectangular building measuring 51ft. by 17ft. The walls are made of undressed limestone.The east and west windows are identical in shape, and are pictured below. The window beneath the bell tower, however is decorated with 3 carved heads.
Medieval Church at Liscarton. Photo: © Navan & District Historical Society (2012)
According to Sir William Wilde, "the church is remarkable for the extreme beauty of its eastern and western windows (pictured below), each of which consists of one great light.... an exquisite variety of tracery , in the decorated style of gothic architecture, fills the head of both windows, and the mouldings are deep and well executed. Upon the exterior face may be observed well carved human heads projecting from the dripstone".
(above) The window on the medieval church.
The king's head, located at the top of the window is illustrated right.
is the view from the stone
tracery through the nave of the
15th century church.
The Buildings of Meath, Kevin V. Mulligan, The Fieldgate Press An Taisce 2001
Navan by the Boyne, Noel E. French (2002)
The Beauties of the Boyne and Blackwater, William R. Wilde (first edition 1849)
Archaeological Inventory of County Meath, compiled by Michael J. Moore, (Dublin 1987)
189 - LISCARTON - OS 25:5:5 (15.1, 35.6) Not marked OD 100-200 N 8442, 6910
Tumulus - Circular mound (diam. 23m, H 2.5m) which has been partly quarried and planted with trees. SMR 25:12 29/8/1985.
1443 - LISCARTON - OS 25:5:2 (11.0, 40.0) 'Church (in ruins)' OD 100-200 N8397, 6945
Church - Undivided nave and chancel church which may have been repaired in eighteenth century with insertion of large, round-headed windows, three in S wall, two in N. Doors, perhaps not original, towards W end of nave. Stairs in N wall and double-light windows in E and W walls original. Double belfry on W gable, perhaps added. SMR 25:8 23/4/1969.
1748 - LISCARTON - OS 25:5:2 (11.8, 39.6) 'Liscarton Castle (in ruins)' OD 100-200 N 8403, 6951
Tower House - Three storey rectangular tower house with large corner towers at three angles. Barrel-vaulted ground floor. Entrance to vaulted chamber and upper floors in E tower. Few windows on upper floors. Enclosing small courtyard with stone house (1806). SMR 25:9 17/10/1984
1749 - LISCARTON - OS 25:5:2 (12.4, 39.0) Indicated OD 100-200 N 8411, 6945
Gatehouse - Situated c. 100m SE of tower house (1748) and sone house (1806), it is probably associated with former. Barrel-vaulted gate entrance with murder-hole. Stairs lead from entrance to first floor. SMR 25:10 17/10/1984
1806 - LISCARTON - OS 25:5:2 (11.9, 39.5) 'Liscarton Castle (in ruins)' OD 100-200 N 8404, 6951
Stone House - Two storey rectangular house with projecting towers at each corner. Entrance at ground floor from courtyard which lies between house and tower house (1748). Long hall inside entrance with three small rooms in three of the towers. Large spiral stairs. anti-clockwise, in W tower and mural staircase at S angle give access to first storey. Square towers rise above first storey in each angle at what may have been parapet of main building. Probably early seventeenth century. SMR 25:9 17/10/1984