A ford over the Athboy river gave its name to the town i.e. Baile Átha Buí (the town of the Yellow Ford), and the first bridge was built here in c. 1400 A.D. By 1470 the town was sufficiently important to be granted a Royal Charter.
A small walled town, it was dominated by the Plunkett family who married into the Cruises and were replaced at the Cromwellian plantation by the Blighes, afterwards Earls of Darnley. By the 19th. century they held the largest of land holdings in Meath, 10,000 hectares of land. Some of the medieval walls survive in the grounds of the Church of Ireland, as does an interesting table tomb.
Hill of Ward - Tlachtga
This is a prehistoric settlement comprising an iron-age ring fort, much disturbed by subsequent 17th. century use as a fortified camp. It is said that Tlachtga takes its name from a daughter of Mogh Ruith, son of Fergus who was a druid and a mythical figure. The hill was associated with an aonach or sacred fair held every three years at the Celtic feast of Samhain on November 1st. The last recorded fair was in 1168, which involved the last High King of Ireland, Rory O' Connor.
The Carmelite Monastery
The Carmelites came to Ireland c.1260, and one of their four chief houses was in Athboy. The monastery was located at Danescourt near St. James’ Church of Ireland, where the monks ran a hospital and a house of hospitality.
Provincial Chapters of the Carmelite Order were held in Athboy in 1325 and 1467.
The reign of Henry V111 saw the destruction and closure of many monasteries in Ireland. In 1540, the Abbot of Athboy was forced to surrender the property, which boasted a church and belfry, a cloister, a stone tower, a mansion, eight messuages (houses) and four acres of meadow at Adenstown called Friars’ Meadow.
In 1543, the monastery was granted to Thomas Casey and it was later turned into a horse mill.
In 1625, a number of Carmelite monks returned to Athboy for a short time and continued their religious work.
O' Growney, Father Eugene (1863-1899)
Born in Ballyfallon, Athboy, in 1863. He was educated at Athboy N.S., St. Finian's Diocesan Seminary, Navan and Maynooth College.
As a youth he developed an interest in the Irish language by seeking out native speakers and reading Gaelic journals.
He was ordained in 1889 and was curate in Mullingar before moving to Ballinacargy, Co. Westmeath.
In 1891, he was appointed Professor of Irish at Maynooth College. He was a frequent contributor to the Gaelic Journal of which he became the editor in the same year. It was largely due to his writings that the Gaelic League was founded in 1893. Shortly after its foundation Fr. O’ Growney became its vice-president. His contribution to the Irish language included the publication of a series called "Easy Lessons in Irish".
Fr. O’ Growney suffered a deterioration in health in 1894 and moved to San Francisco and later to Arizona to benefit from the dry air. However, with no improvement in his health, he was forced to resign from his position in Maynooth.
He died in Los Angeles on 18th. October 1899, aged 36. Four years later, his body was returned to Ireland and interred in Maynooth.
In 1956, a statue of Fr. O’ Growney, sculpted by Seamus de Paor, was unveiled in the church grounds.