St Seachnall's Church of Ireland, Dunshaughlin, was built in 1825.

Golf classic tees off fundraising drive for Dunshaughlin Church

A MAJOR fundraising drive has been launched to finance the restoration of the roof of St Seachnall's Church of Ireland in Dunshaughlin in advance of its bicentenary next year.

The present stands on a very ancient site of Christian worship, and most probably has stones of previous churches in its walls. In the long and troubled history of Ireland, St Seachnall’s church – like so many others – has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over. The original church was founded about 435 AD by St. Seachnall, a contemporary and friend of St Patrick. In some literature it is said that Seachnall was a nephew of St Patrick. Seachnall (also known by his Latin name,” Secundinus”) came from Gaul very soon after the arrival of St Patrick to assist in the work of evangelising the country.

Seachnall is thought to have died in 448 AD, aged 75. Tradition has it that he is buried in the south-east corner of the graveyard of this church.

Very little is known of the history of Dunshaughlin for some centuries after this time. The Annals of the Four Masters mention an abbey /monastery at Dunshaughlin in 796 and note that “its position on the main road north from Dublin left it liable to plunder”. The monastery was also burned on several occasions including in 1153 by the De Bruins.

In the ninth century Dunshaughlin was a “see” with its own bishop. In those days there were several such small dioceses which were eventually merged into a diocese centred on Clonard and ultimately the Diocese of Meath.

A few yards from the present church is a large arch which is the remains of a former medieval church. A very ancient lintel stone, probably eight century, on which is carved a figure of the crucified Christ between two soldiers was relocated into the church for safety. The medieval font is still in use in the present church.

The building of the present church commenced in 1814 as the old church had become dilapidated and expensive to maintain, particularly the roof. The parish vestry secured a loan of £700 to build a new church. The building was not finally finished until 1825. The interior or the church was re-modelled in the early 1900s. The carved pulpit was originally from Wilson’s Hospital School and the stained glass window on the south wall was transferred from Ballymaglasson church upon its closure.

The tower structure was consolidated in a major project in the late 1990s. However, since then significant ingress of water was noted due to the poor condition of the louvres and the very poor and deteriorating condition of the render on the tower. The softwood louvres in the tower were deemed beyond economic repair and were replaced by hardwood units in 2023, partly supported by grant funding from Meath County Council.

The main church roof is starting to fail with increasing minor instances of water ingress over the last 15 years. The main issue is the “slipping” of slates, due to the failure of the fixings. The water gutters are also exhibiting deterioration, especially in the areas of previous repairs. It appears that the roof was partly redressed, most likely in the 1960s.

The repair proposal

The damage to the tower and the roof structure due to water ingress will increase over coming years. The costs of once off small repairs are proportionally relatively high.

The proposal is to now address the main issues in two stages and thereafter continue with on-going maintenance. The initial stage is to replace the existing cement-based render on the tower with architect-recommended lime render.

The second stage is to replace the roof slates and gutters. The total indicated costs are in the order of €135,000. There will be some very much appreciated grant assistance from Meath County Council, with indicative approval of €10,000 grant under the Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2024.

The local Church of Ireland committee says: “We are as a diocese and particularly as a parish community the custodians of this place of worship on this ancient Christian site. We therefore have an obligation and feel some duty for maintenance and conservation.

We are embarking now on a restoration programme over the coming years to secure the church for the future. The first in a number of fundraisers will commence in May, with our Golf Classic.

The first step in the fundriaing is a golf Classic in Black Bush Golf Club, Dunshaughlin, on Friday 31st May, asking €300 for a team of four, with a meal included. For information, contact Liz Synnott on (087) 245 9184 or email

Dunshaughlin today

The village of Dunshaughlin is continuously growing. The population in the 1980s was circa 1,000. This increased to 3,500 in 2011 and the 2022 census indicated a further increase to over 6,600 people and building is continuing. In addition, this church is the parish church for the rapidly expanding towns of Ratoath (10,000) and Ashbourne (15,000), and surrounding areas.

There are many centuries of Christian worship on this site, and almost 200 years of ministry in this current building. The church occupies an elevated and prominent position in the village and is a tranquil enclave in an increasingly busy urban setting, which is appreciated by many.

There are really good community relations and goodwill in Dunshaughlin in support of the parish events and necessary fundraising as the church approaches the 200-year anniversary.

There are also many difficulties. The general secularisation of society is a challenge affecting us and the parish does not know what the future holds for our community.

It says: “We hope with faith to continue to provide the opportunity for the ministry of God to be made known to people in this place, as it has supported for centuries so many, including the author.

One church destined for closure over 30 years ago remains open based on the observation that “if the church is open someone might go, if it is closed, nobody will go”.

There are many, many challenges but probably also wonderful opportunities. We trust that we will have the faith, courage, and vision to see them and be guided in the right way, wherever that path might lead.