Meath Heritage Centre, history & more

The Meath Heritage Centre is located in the Town Hall, Castle Street, Trim and provides an ancestry search service for Trim and County Meath. It is now into its thirtieth year of existence.

Meath people have travelled the world and settled in many different countries, but all hold a corner of their heart for a little bit of the old country. To remind them of their homeland they gave their new homes names of places in Ireland. There is a Boyne in Michigan and a Navan in Ontario. The Royal County has produced many fine and respected people. The proud name of Meath has been handed down from one generation to the next by the Irish emigrant families. Now many of their descendants look to Ireland and Meath to show them their roots.

Meath people have distinguished themselves in many fields – both at home and abroad. The county has influenced those who have lived or worked here. The following are just a handful of those who are either from or closely associated with Meath.

Sir Francis Beaufort, born at Navan in 1774. He entered the navy at the age of fourteen. He surveyed the coasts of Brazil and Karamania, which is on the south coast of Turkey. He was made hydrographer to the Navy in 1826 and was the creator of the Beaufort Scale of wind velocities.

Charles Yelverton O’Connor, born at Gravelmount, Co. Meath in 1843, emigrated to New Zealand in 1865. Employed as an engineer he gradually rose to the Under-Secretary for Public Works for New Zealand and in 1891 he was appointed Engineer-in-chief of Western Australia.

Ambrose O’Higgins was born at Dangan about 1720. Other sources give Ballina or Sligo as his birthplace. Sent to Cadiz, he then sailed to Buenos Aires where he became captain of cavalry. Founding the city of San Ambrosio he also built the city of Osorno. Created Marquis de Osorno he became Viceroy of Peru in 1795. His son, Bernardo O’Higgins, led the fight for freedom from Spain and became known as the Liberator of Chile.

Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift, the famous writer and churchman was vicar at Laracor from 1700 till his death in 1745. Born in Dublin in 1667 he was made Dean of St. Patrick’s in 1713. He often escaped  the trials of the city to his rural retreat at Laracor. His most popular book, Gulliver’s Travels, was published  in 1726. His friend, Esther Johnson (also known by her poetic name of Stella), moved into a cottage near Laracor and afterwards into St. Mary’s Abbey at Trim.

Arthur Wellesley

Arthur Wellesley, Duke Of Wellington. Born in 1769, was victor at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. There is a list of no less than fifteen places which claim his birth. The family home was at Dangan just outside Summerhill. A Member of Parliament for Trim in 1790, he also served on the town’s corporation. Wellington was Prime Minister in 1829 when Daniel O’Connell forced the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act.

Saint Patrick – Image Irish Central

Meath and the Boyne Valley has a rich history and was one of the first areas settled in Ireland. The world famous tombs at Brú na Bóinne constructed over 5000 years ago continue to impress us. County Meath is celebrated as the Royal County, the place from which the high kings of Ireland reigned from their ritual seat on Tara, and the legends of Ireland were written in the nearby fields.  In the Boyne Valley, St. Patrick first preached the Christian faith in Ireland, lighting the Pascal fire on the hill of Slane.

Schools of learning were quickly established.  Kells is famed throughout the world for its high crosses and illuminated manuscripts.  The Viking raiders visited this fertile valley to prey on the easy pickings of the rich monastic settlements.  Their descendants, the Normans, constructed their largest castle at Trim to govern the new colony.  These talented builders erected castles, churches, monasteries and crosses which are strewn along the banks of the Boyne and its tributary the Blackwater.

Another visitor to the Boyne Valley was Cromwell who wreaked havoc at Drogheda, an event which caused him to be hated in Ireland.  The Battle of the Boyne took place at Oldbridge where King William and King James battled it out for the throne of these islands.  New conquerors came and the big houses and the mansions of the landlords now sit prettily above the river. The Irish people continued to seek their independence and in 1798 a small battle took place on Tara. The hill was also the site of a monster meeting held by Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator.

This blog was brought to you by;

Noel French – Trim’s Family Historian

Noel French