Turlough : Round Tower

CountyMayo
Grid RefM 206 939
GPSM 20596 93907 (3m)
Longitude9° 12' 28.06" W
Latitude53° 53' 18.44" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownCastlebar (6.7 Km)
OS Sheet31
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 6th July 2003

This is a beautiful specimen! Its proportions are perfect. It is no way what you would call a tall round tower - in fact its quite squat and chubby, but something about it is just right. It could be the proportions or it could just be the location, on a spur looking out over the river and valley below. Not even the reletively new looking church ruins next to it take anything away.

The stone conical roof is still present and beneath this the four windows, as usual facing the cardinal points, have pointed tops, echoing the shape of the tower. Perhaps it is this that makes it look so pleasing to the eye.

Unusually the doorway, which is raised up some 5m from the ground, is bricked up. I've not seen that before.

Round Towers are found all over Ireland. They are very tall towers associated with early monastic settlements. Their purpose is one of much debate: were they bell towers, look-out towers or were they defensive structures, built to protect the sites relics and books during Viking raids? Maybe they were all three! The high-set doors certainly give the impression that some element of defense was considered in their construction.

Internally they had four or five floors, each accessed via a ladder from the floor below. Not every floor had a window, but the top floor usually had four windows which aligned to the cardinal points of the compass. The one at Kells (County Meath) unusually has five windows on the top floor which point at the five gates to the town.

Not many of the eighty plus examples left are full height these days. Many crumbled and were taken down for safety purposes. Some, however, are still very impressive inded with Kilmacduagh (County Galway) reaching an incredible 35m tall.

Originally all of them would have had a conical roof and those that still possess this feature give the impression of being ready to blast off into space.

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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Monday, 1st June 2009

Another site that it's hard to believe I first visited nearly 6 years ago. The short, stumpy form of this round tower is still a surprise, but its high location makes it visible from a long way away. The entrance to the graveyard from the road is several meters lower then the base of the tower, adding extra height to the tower when you approach it.

Set into the wall of the ruined church next to the tower there is a slab dated to the 17th Century depicting the crucifixion .

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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Like this monument

Marked Sites

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Round Towers

About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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