The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, 1845

A post and market town, one of the chief towns of Meath, and formerly a parliamentary borough, partly in the parish of Athlumney, barony of Skreen, and partly in the parish of Donaghmore, barony of Lower Navan, but chiefly in the parish of Navan, barony of Lower Navan, co. Meath, Leinster.

It stands on the rivers Boyne and Blackwater, on the road from Mullingar to Drogheda, and on the mail road from Dublin to Enniskillen, 6 miles south west of Slane, 6 1/2 north north west of Trim, 9 south east by east of Kells, 9 north north west of Dunshaughlin, 9 east north east of Athboy, 9 1/2 south by east of Nobber, 10 north by west of Summerhill, 12 1/4 west south west of Drogheda, and 22 north west by north of Dublin.

General Description

The surrounding country is an expanse of low and fertile land, considerably beautified by georgical improvements and demesne decorations.  In the vicinity of the town are the seats of
Athlumney, Peter P. Metge, Esq.,
Greenmount, the Rev. Robert Thomson,
the villa of John Metge, Esq.,— Blackcastle,
Richard Ruxton Fitzherbert, Esq.,  the well-wooded demesne of Swinartin,
Ardmulchan, Robert Taafe, Esq.,
and various agreeable villas and minor mansions; and several press quite close upon the town, while others stretch out such sheets of wood, as to render the environs pleasing.

The town stands at the confluence of the Blackwater with the Boyne; and has a small section on the right bank of the Boyne, a larger section on the left bank of the Boyne and left bank of the Blackwater, and its principal section on the left bank of the Boyne and right bank of the Blackwater.  The three sections of the town may be designated, in reference to their mutual position, respectively the eastern, the north western, and the south western divisions; and they are conveniently connected by bridges across both of the rivers.

The eastern division consists of a very small but regularly aligned cluster of lanes, along the terminational part of the canal which completes to Navan the navigation of the Boyne.

The north-western section consists principally of one street, extending 450 yards north north eastward from the bridge across the Blackwater, and another extending 180 yards west north westward from the middle of the preceding.

The south western division, or main body, consists principally of a central, triangular, open area, a street extending 210 yards north eastward from the central area to the bridge across the Blackwater, a street extending 60 yards eastward from the central area to the bridge across the Boyne, a street extending 500 yards south south eastward from the central area, in a line near the margin of the Boyne, and parrallel with its course,
a street extending 900 yards south westward from the central area, along the road to Trim, and forking, near its end, into the road also to Athboy, a street extending north westward and south eastward, intersecting the middle of the preceding street at right angles, and leading out north westward along the road to Kells, and two irregular clusters of houses, the one leading out to the barrack, and the other straddling round the church and the Roman Catholic chapel.

The eastern section of the town is the Athlumney division, and is often called Athlumney;
the north western section is quite modern, constitutes the Donaghmore division, and frequently bears the name of Polbwee; and the south western section constitutes Navan Proper, in the parish of Navan, and contains all the town's distinctive features.  The houses of the principal streets are very irregularly built; those of the subordinate streets are very poor dwellings; and those in the town's outskirts are miserable huts.

Public Buildings

An abbey for regular canons was founded at Navan, in the 12th century, by the family of Nangle; and in the 31st year of Henry VIII, it was surrendered to the Crown. In 1488, Richard Nangle or D'Angulo, the abbot of this establishment, took part with other ecclesiastics in the rebellious attempt to place Lambert Simnel on the throne; and he received from Henry VII a pardon for his offence.

Athlumney castle, in the southeastern outskirts of the Athlumney suburb, exhibits the extensive and picturesque ruins of a spacious mansion, in the style of domestic architecture which prevailed in the 17th century, combined with the harsher vestiges of a fortified building.  A mound and the ruins of Athlumney church are situated ia the vicinity of the castle. A remarkably high and extensive moat occurs in the western vicinity of Navan, 1/4 of a mile west of the confluence of the Blackwater with the Boyne, and commands a good view of the town, and of the circumjacent expanse of rich and beautiful country.

The parish church is a commodious structure, situated on the west side of the street which extends near the Boyne, and parallel with its course.  The Roman Catholic chapel is a very spacious Grecian structure, 170 yards west of the parish-church.  The barrack occupies the site of the quondam abbey, on the right bank of the Blackwater.  The bridewell possesses the usual accommodation, and is kept in a clean and orderly condition; and its keeper receives a salary of £40.  The court house and the market house present no particular feature.
The infirmary for the county of Meath is situated at Navan; and, in 1839-40, it received £3 3s. from subscription, £642 18s. 9d. from public grants, and £14 18s. from other sources, expended £221 16s. lOd. in salaries to medical officers, £177 6s. 7d. for medicines, and £707 5s. 4d. for contingencies, and admitted 337 patients.

The Navan fever hospital serves principally for Navan Poor law union, and, in 1839-49, it received £500 from public grants, expended £100 in salaries to medical officers, £40 for medicines, and £360 for contingencies, and admitted 542 patients.

The Navan dispensary serves for a district of 33,033 acres, with a pop. of 16,440; and, in 1839-40, it received £164 10s., expended £164 16s., and administered to 2,724 patients.
Navan in consequence of the opening of the Boyne navigation hence to Drogheda, has become a place of considerable trade, and may be considered as in a steadily prosperous condition.  Its advantageous situation in the centre of a great and rich agricultural country, commands for it a very extensive trade in farm produce; and its abundant supply of fresh water, and profusion of available waterpower, cause it to figure largely in the flour trade.   Among the mills and manufactures either in the town itself or in its immediate vicinity, are five corn mills, two paper-mills, two distilleries, one tannery, and various appliances for brewing, for spinning, for frieze making, and for sacking manufacture.

Weekly markets are held on Wednesday and Saturday; and fairs are held on the third Monday of Jan., Easter-Monday, Trinity-Monday, the fourth Monday of July, the second Monday of Sept., the fourth Monday of Oct., and the first Monday of Dec.
Navan is the diverging point of the lines of proposed railway from Dublin toward respectively Enniskillen and Armagh; and it possesses an abundance of public conveyances.  In 1841, the Navan Loan Fund, had a capital of £1,504, circulated £7,795 in 1,854 loans, cleared a nett profit of £28 8s. 10d., and expended for charitable purposes £10.

Poor-law Union

The Navan Poor law union ranks as the 50th, and was declared on June 25, 1839. It lies wholly in co. Meath, and comprehends an area of 93,327 acres, which contained, in 1831, a pop. of 34,482. Its electoral divisions, together with their respective pop. in 1831, are Navan, 9,799; Ardbraccan, 4,744; Bective, 1,041; Tara, 1,550; Ardmulcan, 1,459; Kentstown, 1,475; Painestown, 2,170; Donaghpatrick, 2,882; Castletown, 3,042; Rathkenny, 1,995; Stackallen, 1,825; and Slane, 2,500.  The number of elected guardians is 21, and of ex-oflirio guardians is 7; and of the former, 5 are chosen by the division of Navan, 3 by Ardbraccan, 2 each by Painestown, Donaghpatrick, and Castletown, and 1 by each of the other divisions.

The following are the baronies whole or part of which lie within the union, together with the number of valued tenements in each: Lower Deece, 16; Lower Duleek, 586; Upper Kells 93; Morgallion, 978; Lower Navan, 2,668; Upper Navan, 106; Skreen, 967; and Upper Slane, 1,178.  The total number of tenements valued is 6,592; and of these, 4,262 were valued under £5, 690, under £10, 380, under £15, 222, under £20, 186, under £25, 98, under £30, 172, under 40, 85, under £50, and 494, at and above £50.  The total nett annual value of the property rated is £111, 157 8s. 4d.; the total number of persons rated is 6,592; and of these, 3,168 were rated at a valuation not exceeding £1, 1,164, not exceeding £2, 506, not exceeding £3,  272, not exceeding £4, and 207, not exceeding £5.

The workhouse was contracted for on July 30, 1840, to be completed in Nov. 1841,  to cost £5,700 for building and completion, and £1,081 9s. 2d. for fittings and contingencies, to occupy a site of 6 acres, 2 roods, 22 perches, obtained for £438 10s. lOd. of purchase money, and £80 of compensation to occupying tenant, and to contain accommodation for 500 paupers.  The date of the first admission of paupers was May 4, 1842; the total expenditure thence till Feb. 6, 1843, was £2,133 3s. lOd.; and the total previous expenditure was £734 9s. lOd. The total expenditure in 1843 was £1,701 4s. 3 1/4d.  The number of pauper inmates on Jan. 1, 1844, was 284.  The medical charities within the union are the infirmary and the fever hospital at Navan, and dispensaries at Castletown, Kentstown, Navan, and Slane; and, in 1839-40, they received £286 5s. from subscription, £1,381 4s. 9d. from public grants, and £14 16s. from other sources, expended £685 16s, lOd. in salaries to medical officers, £323 7s. 11d. for medicines, and £1,123 18s. 4d. for contingencies, and administered to 879 intern and 5,080 extern patients.

Municipal Affairs

Navan was incorporated by charter of 9 Edward IV; and it also possesses charters of 9 Henry VII, 21 James I, 13 Charles II, and 4 James II. The limits defined by charter exclude a portion of the town on the side toward Drogheda, and extend about half a mile beyond it on the side toward Dublin, and nearly two miles beyond it on the side toward Trim.  The corporation, according to charter, was called "The  Portreeve, Burgesses, and Freemen of the Town or Borough of Navan;" and had as its officers one portreeve, and sometimes a deputy portreeve, 12 burgesses, one town clerk, and two serjeants at mace. The burgesses were elected for life from among the freemen; and, in 1833, they amounted to nine, — three of whom were brothers of Lord Tara, and two were Lord Ludlow and his land agent, while only one was resident within the borough.  No Protestant dissenter or Roman Catholic was ever admitted to the freedom.
The corporation possessed no exclusive jurisdiction; and a borough court, which was presided over by the portreeve or his deputy, became extinct in 1820. Landed property, to the extent of about 1,200 acres, formerly belonged to the corporation, and was called the Commons of Navan; but it was from time to time encroached upon and enclosed by tenants of the neighbouring landlords, and its various portions passed, at the expiry of the leases of these tenants, into the landlords' own possession.  A court of quarter sessions is held in the town twice a year; and a court of petty sessions on every Monday.  The public peace is preserved by a party of the county constabulary.  The streets are neither lighted nor watched; the principal ones are treated as part of the county roads, and kept in repair by grand jury presentment; but the smaller streets and the cross thoroughfares are not regarded as part of the county roads, and both they and the bridges are usually in a wretched condition.  Navan sent two members to the Irish parliament from the second year of Elizabeth till the Legislative union; but Lords Tara and Ludlow practically possessed all its franchise, and they received, in equal portions, the whole of the £15,000 of compensation for disfranchisement.


Area of the Athlumney section of the town, 20 acres. Pop., in 1841, 33. Houses 6.
Area of the Donaghmore section, 15 acres. Pop., in 1841, 608. Houses 99. Families employed chiefly in agriculture, 36; in manufactures and trade, 45; in other pursuits, 29. Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 8; on the directing of labour 51; on their own manual labour, 40; on means not specified, 11.
Area of the Navan parish section, 132 acres. Pop., in 1831, 4,416; in 1841, 4.987. Houses 822. Families employed chiefly in agriculture, 347; in manufactures and trade, 448;  in other pursuits, 210. Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 16 on the directing of labour, 439;  on their own manual labour, 437; on means not specified, 113. Males at and above 5 years of age who could read and write, 1,026; who could read but not write, 370; who could neither read nor write, 917. Females at and above 5 years of age who could read and write, 532; who could read but not write, 467; who could neither read nor write, 1,203.


Navan is said to have been one of the towns which were walled and rendered defensible by Hugh De Lacy, immediately after the Anglo Norman conquest; and it was, during many subsequent ages, a place of considerable importance. An act of the 34th year of Henry VIII. directs that
"every ploughed land within the county of Methe and WestMethe, used to be charged with subsidie, and not free from imposition, shall be, during the term of 4 years, charged with the sum of 3 shillings and 4 pence, towards building the walls of the town of Navan."
The Nangle family, at the sub partition of Meath, obtained a grant of Navan, with attached palatinate privileges; and they took from this estate the title of baron.  Dr. Beaufort, the author of the Ecclesiastical Map of Ireland, and of the Memoir explanatory of that map, held for some time the benefice of Navan, but resided within the county of Louth.