Old Kilcullen : Round Tower

CountyKildare
Grid RefN 830 070
GPSN 83049 07041
Longitude6° 45' 35.16" W
Latitude53° 6' 27.01" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownBallymore Eustace (10.2 Km)
OS Sheet55
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

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Old Kilcullen - High Cross
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 10th February 2002

This round tower is now only half height and has been 'made safe' far too evenly, removing any character. In the graveyard alongside it are some low ruins, presumably of a church and two high cross stumps.

The taller of the two cross bases is very plain, but the shorter is a finely carved example, depicting typical biblical scenes.

The whole of the surrounding countryside is quite beautiful here, but very exposed. Again this tranquility is being encroached upon by marauding bungalows.

There is a fine view of Dun Ailinne (County Kildare) hillfort from here too.

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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Sunday, 17th July 2005

The views from here on a fine day like today are simply stunninng. To the east the whole of the horizon is taken up with the purple shades of the Wicklow Mountains.

The round tower door is quite low at just 2m off the ground. If the high-set doors were for protection then they obviously felt quite secure when they built this one and didn't expect attack. Perhaps the proximity of Dun Ailinne (County Kildare) helped.

The low ruins are of the main church which was decorated in the Romanesque style. What a shame that it is now no more than a set of walls just 1m high. I wonder where all those carved stones ended up?

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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Directions

From Kilcullen head south along the N78. Take the first left after crossing the M9 and continue for about 1km. You will se the round tower on your left near to the next junction.

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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