The Franciscan Friary and College on the Hill of Slane, near Drogheda, Co. Meath




In the year 433 St. Patrick, during his mission to convert Ireland to Christianity, lit the first Paschal or Easter fire in Ireland on the summit of the Hill of Slane so that it could be seen at the seat of the High King at Tara 16km to the south-west. Following this an Early Medeival monastery was founded on the site by St. Erc who died in 514. That early monastery was replaced by another set of buildings in the Medeival period. In 1175 Richard le Fleming, first Baron of Slane, built a Motte and Bailey castle on the western side of the hill. The standing remains on the site are of the Franciscan Friary and College founded by Christopher Flemyng, Baron of Slane, in 1512. The Friary was dissolved in 1540 during the reformation but a monastery of Capuchin monks was briefly refounded by the Flemings on the site in 1631.

The surviving structures are an undivided nave and chancel church with a later side chapel and west tower situated within a walled graveyard. North of the church is the College for priests, lay-brothers and choristers, founded by Christopher Flemyng. It is a quadrangular structure surrounding a courtyard, with priest’s residence at north and a defended tower house and remains of the refrectory on the southern side. The Motte and Bailey castle is also visible on the western part of the hill. The Hill has good views over eastern and south-eastern Meath. The site is accessed by road from the town of Slane and there is parking available on the site.


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GPS coordinates 53.717384,-6.542959

For further information see the Hill of Slane Archaeological Project.

 
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