The Smarmore Slates:
An Article was published in the grand sounding Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy - Volume 64, Section C, 30th June 1965. It was titled; The Inscribed Slates At Smarmore. The article concerns a number of inscribed slates which were found very near to the GZ of this cache. They date back to the 15th century, are inscribed in Latin and/or English and consist of medical or veterinary prescriptions, ecclesiastical matters and musical notation. The article introduces the townland of Smarmore as set out in the paragraphs below. The description is still very much appropriate today. To help with the piece below, the East end of the church has a 'Christmas Tree' growing in it.
A Smarmore Slate
The village of Smarmore - it is scarcely larger than a hamlet - is in County Louth, some two miles South-West of Ardee. The ruins of the ancient church of Smarmore stand on a small eminence half a mile South-West of the crossroads which marks the center of the village, within the demesne of Smarmore Castle. The ruins are nowhere more than waist high, but the ground plan is clear. The church was very small, a little more than fifty feet long and less than twenty wide; near the West end a cross wall pierced with a narrow doorway marked off what may have been a porch; if this was the West door it cannot have been centrally placed, since the West wall is continuous from the South West Corner to a point North of the center line of the church. The nave is a plain rectangle and there is no trace of a chancel arch; there is a small aumbry in the South wall near the East end. Apart from the doorway in the cross wall and the two gaps in the North wall, the walls are continuous. The church is surrounded by a small graveyard, but there are no traces of any other buildings in the immediate vicinity; fragments of a ruined wall some distance to the West are probably unconnected to the church.
Until 1959 the ruins were covered with a mound of debris and earth, thickly overgrown with brushwood and small trees; during the summer of that year the Ardee sub committee of the County Louth Archaeological Society undertook the clearance of the site. The trees were felled and the brushwood cut down and the earth and rubble were removed until the original floor level of the church was reached; the spoil was thrown outside the church. When the clearance of the interior was nearly completed, it was noticed by two voluntary workers, that a number of fragments of slate in the heap of spoil bore inscriptions engraved with a sharp point. The spoil was carefully re-examined by the foreman and his assistant. As a result of their labours, forty-nine inscribed slates were recovered and placed in the National Museum of Ireland.
These paragraphs are the preamble to a detailed article investigating and attempting to decipher the mysterious Smarmore Slates
The cache is not in the grounds of the graveyard, but just outside. Although the area is quiet, it is well maintained and visited more often than the tranquility suggests so please be stealthy. Two more points of interest, for anybody who has read down this far! Keep a look out for the monument commemorating the 'Starvelings'. It is slightly controversial as it appeared virtually overnight without permission, funded by an anonymous American source. Others have apparently appeared around the country also. The other thing to keep an eye out for is the view of Smarmore Castle as one walks to the graveyard. If you find you caching habit is getting out of hand, you may want contact the folks there. Enjoy.