Round Towers

Upload to this page

Add your photos, text, videos, etc. to this page.

  • Clonmacnoise

The round towers found in Ireland range in height from about 17 to 40 metres. The round tower at Kilmacduagh in Galway is the highest in the country.

The towers usually have a single door raised two to three metres above the ground. The windows are narrow slits located high up in the tower. The roof is usually made from stone and is generally cone shaped.

There are several theories about the uses of round towers. The most popular theory is that the towers were used for defensive purposes. The monks took their treasures and hid inside the tower where they would be safe from raiders. The doorway, high up in the wall, made it difficult for unwanted guests to gain entry. Another theory is that the towers were used as bell towers.

Clonmacnoise Round Towers

Round towers can be found at many monastic sites around Ireland. Two examples can be found at Clonmacnoise. There is one free-standing round tower, which dates back to 1124. It stands in the northwest corner of the graveyard. This tower was damaged by lightning in 1135. Unfortunately, the tower is now missing a large part of its top. The remains of the tower reach approximately 20 metres in height.

The second round tower at Clonmacnoise is attached to Temple Finghin, the Romanesque church directly by the River Shannon.

This round tower is about 17 metres high. It most likely acted as a belfry for the church. It dates from about 1170. Unlike most round towers in Ireland, it has a door at ground level, rather than at a height from the ground.