At one time the largest church in Ireland, Newtown Cathedral's ruins can be found along the banks of the River Boyne. It is one of many ecclesiastical sites in and around Trim, and is only a 15 minute walk from Trim Castle.
There are several monuments at this site (all in ruins), which is also known as Newtown Abbey.
- Newtown Cathedral -- a large medieval cathedral, also known as St Peter and Paul Cathedral
- Two monasteries (priories)
- A small church
- A cemetery
Newtown Cathedral was built in 1210 by Simon de Rochfort, the first Englishman (Rochfort was Anglo-Norman) to become Bishop of Meath. De Rochfort's ambition was to build a new town to rival Trim, where another Anglo-Norman, Hugh de Lacey had recently built one of the country's largest castles, helping establish Trim as a powerful and fast-growing medieval city. The town was known as Newtown. The town eventually disappeared, becoming just a part of Trim. A Gothic structure, sweeping upwards with pointed arches, only some of the outer walls -- the nave and chancel -- remain. The remains of a small priory, home to the Augustinian monks who ran the Cathedral, are also visible on the site. Simon de Rochfort is buried under the Cathedral's high altar.
Priory of St. John the Baptist
This building was originally a monastery, built in the 13th century for the Crossed Friars of the Order of John the Baptist, but was later used by the monks as a hospital. In 1539 the order was dissolved. For a time the building was used as a private residence before falling into ruin.
The Jealous Man and Woman
In the centre of the priory is a 16th century altar tomb, with sleeping effigies of local nobleman Lucas Dillon and his wife, known locally as "The Jealous Man and Woman". Lucas Dillon was born in Newtown, and rose to prominence as a barrister, eventually becoming Attorney General for Ireland. His effigy on the tombstone at Newtown Abbey is a symbol of his wealth. For Dillon and his wife, commissioning the effigies and supporting the church would have been a way of securing their passage into the afterlife. A local legend says that if you touch the statues with a pin, the pin can then be used to cure warts! Press the pin anywhere on the statue, then touch the wart with the same pin, and the wart will disappear. Clearly, this is just a superstition (and not very hygienic) -- but a pile of rusting warts near the statues is evidence that many people still believe the myth.
In this video, you can see the Jealous Man and Woman statues, as well as the pile of rusting pins used to 'cure' warts
Opening Times & Fees
Entrance is FREE. These monuments are ruins, accessible from the roadside.
Newtown Abbey. Image by William Murphy.