Trim, Co. Meath
Irish: Baile Átha Troim, meaning “town at the ford of elderflowers”
It was the seat of the medieval lordship of Meath
Trim, Co. Meath
At an early date, a monastery was founded at Trim, which lay within the petty kingdom (tuath) of the Cenél Lóegairi. It is traditionally thought to have been founded by St. Patrick and left in the care of its patron saint Lommán, also locally known as Loman, who flourished sometime between the 5th and early 6th century. When domestic politics endangered the position of Lommán’s foundation, the church of Armagh assimilated Lommán into the dossier of St. Patrick, making him a disciple of that saint. Attackers burned the church several times in the twelfth century, during which it was refounded as an St. Mary’s Abbey under Augustinian rule. The abbey church was the sanctuary for “Our Lady of Trim”, a wooden statue reported to work miracles. The statue made Trim a major pilgrimage site from at least 1397. During the Reformation, the statue was burned and Henry VIII dissolved the abbey. The abbey’s bell tower, the “Yellow Steeple”, is the primary remnant of St. Mary’s.
With the spelling “Áth Truim”, the bishopric is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see. Since it is not mentioned in either of the lists of the reduced number of sees approved by the Synod of Ráth Breasail (1111) and the Synod of Kells (1152), it was one of the monastic establishments that were no longer recognized as seats of bishops after the 12th-century reorganization of the Church in Ireland. Its territory was joined to that of Meath Diocese.
Lying 61 m above sea level on the River Boyne, Trim became one of the most important Hiberno-Norman settlements in the Middle Ages. In the 15th century theNorman-Irish parliament met in Trim. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington is reputed to have been born in Dangan Castle between Trim and Summerhill, and a large column to him was erected in the town in 1817. The town’s main feature is Ireland’s largest Norman castle, Trim Castle; other features include two ruined church complexes, the Boyne River for fishing and the Butterstream Gardens, visited by Charles, Prince of Wales in the mid-nineties (no longer open to the public).
Why visit the town of Trim?
Trim Castle (or King John’s Castle) is Ireland’s largest Norman castle. It was built in the late 12th century following the Norman invasion of Ireland. Trim and the surrounding lands were granted to Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath, a Norman baron. Richard II of England stayed there before being ousted from power. Once a candidate to be the country’s capital, the town has also occupied a role as one of the outposts of the Pale, and sessions of the Irish Parliament were sometimes held here, as in 1542. It was also designated by Elizabeth I of England as the planned location for a Protestant Dublin University (known as Trinity College, Dublin). However this was revised by Sir Francis Drake, who advocated the case for locating the University in Dublin. In 1649 after the sacking of Drogheda, the garrison of Trim fled to join other Irish forces and the town was occupied by the army of Oliver Cromwell. There were many local disturbances in neighbouring villages in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, most infamously the battle on the Hill of Tara, following the dispersal of the Wexford rebellion. Trim was represented by Arthur Wellesley in the Irish Parliament from 1790 to 1797.
Interesting points in Trim’s history:
- 5th century: Soon after proclaiming Christianity in Ireland, St. Patrick built a church here on land granted to him by the son of the High King.
- Surrounding the Castle are fascinating ruins which provide evidence of fervent religious activity. Stone relics abound in St. Patricks Cathedral, its church and porch revealing a number of medieval graveslabs. St. 12th century: Marys Abbey is the remains of an Augustinian monastery.
- 1206: The Newtown Monuments consist of a large medieval cathedral, two monasteries and small church.
- 1263: The black Friary of the Dominicans was founded by Geoffrey de Geneville, Lord of Meath.
- 13th century: The Friary of St. John the Baptist, is the remains of a 13th century Augustinian foundation, which was later converted to a hospital in the 18th century.
- 1368: The Yellow Steeple is the most prominent of the many ruins in Trim. It overlooks the town from a ridge directly opposite Trim Castle. Originally part of the 13th century St. Mary’s Augustinian Abbey, the steeple dates from 1368.
- Early 1700s: Jonathan Swift, author of Gullivers Travels, was presented with the Vicarage of Laracor in Trim and spent time in the area as judged by the ‘Journal To Stella’ which was published after his death.
- Late 18th century: The Duke of Wellington, Sir Arthur Wellesley was educated in Trim and residents erected the Wellington Column to commemorate on of their past pupils.