Athboy (Irish: Baile Átha Buí, meaning "Town of the Yellow Ford"), is a small agricultural town located in County Meath. The town is located on the Yellow Ford River, in wooded country near the County Westmeath border.


Baile Átha Buí
Athboy is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°37′00″N 6°55′00″W / 53.616667°N 6.916667°W / 53.616667; -6.916667Coordinates: 53°37′00″N 6°55′00″W / 53.616667°N 6.916667°W / 53.616667; -6.916667
CountyCounty Meath
61 m (200 ft)
 • Urban
Time zoneUTC+0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-1 (IST (WEST))
Irish Grid ReferenceN800567


Athboy, history pocket park
History written in stone

In medieval times it was a walled stronghold of the Pale. Eoin Roe O'Neill took it in 1643, and six years later Oliver Cromwell camped his army on the Hill of Ward nearby. Also known as Tlachtga, the Hill of Ward was the location for the pagan feast of Samhain, the precursor of modern-day Halloween.

The tower of St James, Church of Ireland is a remnant of a 14th-century Carmelite priory. Behind the church are the remains of the town walls. The church boasts an interesting medieval table top.[6]

In 1694, the town's 'lands and commons' and several other denominations of land were erected into a manor and granted to Thomas Bligh, MP for Athboy, who had earlier purchased almost 12 km² (3000 acres) in the area of Athboy. His son, John, was created "Earl of Darnley" in 1725 and the Blighs (Earls of Darnley) were landlords of all but six of the 27 townlands in the parish of Athboy throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

Ivo Bligh, 8th Earl of Darnley placed the fee-simple of the town of Athboy up for public auction in June 1909. The townspeople formed their own branch of The Town Tenants League and with the aid of Joseph Coghlan-Briscoe, national secretary of the league, they were able to purchase their homes and businesses via private treaty.[7] The demesne of the Darnley Estate at Clifton Lodge just outside the town was sold in 1909 to Welsh explorer Mordecai Jones. Not long after Jones' death in 1913 his Japanese manservant Sanotic Koniste was found murdered in a field not far from Clifton Lodge.[8] Both Jones and Koniste are buried in the graveyard of St. James' Church.



Athboy railway station opened on 26 February 1864, at the end of a branch from Kilmessan via Trim. It closed to passengers on 27 January 1947 and to goods traffic on 10 March 1947, but the branch remained open for livestock trains until final closure on 1 September 1954.[9] The station building, and the nearby engine shed, are now private residences.[10]


Today the town has regular bus services to Trim, Dublin, Granard and Cavan which are provided as Bus Éireann route 111 though passengers to/from Granard and Cavan must change bus at Athboy.[11] A Bus Éireann route, 190A, was introduced in 2013 to provide direct service to Navan, Slane, Drogheda and Laytown.[12] This service was discontinued in 2016. Although additional 111 services were added to include a non-stop service to Dublin and bus connections for Clonmellon.[13] During college terms there is a Sundays-only route 070 coach to Athlone, Navan and Dundalk.[14]


As well as rural primary schools in Rathmore and Rathcairn, O'Growney National School had provided education for the Athboy population since 1949.[15] A new school building was opened in 2016.

In terms of secondary education, the former St. Joseph's Convent of Mercy amalgamated with Athboy Vocational School in 2004 to form Athboy Community School.[16] In 2011, the school relocated to a site behind the former vocational school.

Popular cultureEdit

On 4 May 2011, Athboy featured on RTÉ's Dirty Old Towns programme, in which the local community came together to convert an old piggery into a Farmers' Market.

Athboy has been the home of the Blue Jean Country Queen Festival since 1987. The festival, which takes place over the June Bank Holiday weekend, is run by the Meath County executive of Macra na Feirme invites contestants from all over Ireland and abroad to compete for the title of Blue Jean Country Queen.[17] In 2014, the festival was almost moved to the nearby town of Navan, however, the intervention of local businesses and, in particular, the local Credit Union branch ensured that the festival remained in Athboy for the foreseeable future.[18]

In 2018, The Flame of Samhain Festival was launched as part of The Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival to celebrate Athboy's links to Halloween.[19] The following year, Fáilte Ireland launched the Púca Festival was launched which incorporated the traditional celebration on the Hill of Ward with a larger festival spread between Athboy, Trim and Drogheda. The festival is expected to bring €12 million for the local economy by 2020.[20]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Server Error 404 - CSO - Central Statistics Office". Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  2. ^ Archived 7 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  5. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review. Volume. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. hdl:10197/1406. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012.
  6. ^ Meath Heritage information brochure
  7. ^ Brogan, Patrick, 'A Thriving and Historic Town' in Athboy Anois Vol.2 (December 2014)
  8. ^ Gilroy, John, A Cry In The Morning: The Global Search for Sanotic Koniste (Pikefield Publications 2013)
  9. ^ Ayres, Bob (2003). "Irish Railway Stations" (PDF). Railscot. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
  10. ^ "Athboy". Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Bus Éireann News - Bus Éireann - View Ireland Bus and Coach Timetables & Buy Tickets". Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  13. ^ "M3 Corridor Proposals - Customer Update". Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 March 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "O' Growney NS, Athboy". Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  16. ^ "Athboy CS". Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Blue Jean Festival Website". Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  18. ^ Mrurphy, Paul (8 January 2015). "Blue Jeans to remain in Athboy in three-year credit union deal". The Meath Chronicle. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Irish pagans celebrate Halloween precursor Samhain with fire procession". Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  20. ^ Donohoe, John (30 July 2019). "Púca Festival to bring 100,000 visitors and €12 million boost to area". Meath Chronicle. Archived from the original on 1 September 2019.
  21. ^ " - New single THIS LIFE out now!". Nigel Connell. Retrieved 25 January 2019.


  • Noel E. French, A short history of Rathmore and Athboy (1995)
  • Beryl F.E. Moore, "Tombs in Athboy Graveyard", Irish Ancestor, volume 13 (1981), pp. 123–4

External linksEdit