1 block, 2 lintelled
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Aghagower Round Tower Co. Mayo
Aghagower Round Tower
O.S. Map 31
Location: In an old cemetery beside the Catholic Church in the center of the
village of Aghagower, four miles southeast of Westport.
From Westport, take R330 southeast approximately three km to a side road on the right.
It should be signposted. If the first turn is missed, there is another signposted right
turn about 2 more km down R330.
The roads are very small, but considerably improved in recent years. The churchyard
and round tower would be difficult to miss as they are the dominant feature of the village.
Dimensions: If there is an offset at the base of the tower, it is below ground
level and not visible. Circumference just above ground level is 15.76m and an external
diameter of roughly 5 meters. The top level is slightly lower on the north than the
south. This area was reconstructed in 1969 as the wall was breached nearly halfway
down that side. The tower leans slightly to the north and there were fears that the
reconstruction might increase the lean, but such has not been the case. It is easy to
distinguish the reconstructed area as the building technique is distinctly different
from the original. The tower stands about 16 meters high from external ground level.
Features: The original doorway faces east, just over 2 meters from the external
ground level. It's shattered stones show signs of heavy fire damage, though whether by
accident or vandalism is impossible to know. It has an arched three-stone top, three
stones in each jamb (all stones carry through the width of the wall). The later doorway
at ground level faces northwest, is square-headed and roughly made. There are three
windows, the lowest of which is blocked up. The other two windows are lintelled. The
tower is open to the sky, having no roof.
Comments: The modern ground floor doorway allows entry into the tower. The
ground level inside is approx. 9 inches lower than the external ground level. Five
rings of stone corbels for floor supports can be seen; the first ring just below the
original doorway and the highest just below the top of the present wall.
History: Traditionally founded by St. Senach who was created bishop of Aghagower
by St. Patrick, but there is little information about it. In letters of 1838, local
lore has it, the top was blasted by lightning to the hill of Tevenish, half a mile to
the south. It had been in a single piece there up until a few years previous to 1838
when the stones were all burnt for limestone with the exception if the capstone which
is preserved in the churchyard.
Other Items of Interest: The church ruin, cemetery and round tower are situated
in what amounts to an island in the middle of the village as roads circumvent it.
Behind the church, to the NNE, there are two holy wells, now dried up due to a drainage
scheme. Along the front of the wall of the holy well across from the bar, there is a
very small sheela-na-gig (approx. 10cm x 10 cm) embedded into the stonework. Because
it is so tiny and due to the arrangement of lichen growth, it is difficult to spot and
harder to photograph unless the light is just right. There are several entrances into
the cemetery, at least two of which are by way of projecting stones from the wall that
surrounds the graveyard. Because of the uneven ground, care must be taken when walking
through the graveyard. Along the "front" side of the church ruin, on the same side as
the "new" cemetery across the road, there is a lovely streamside walkway and park
recently re-landscaped. The new cemetery has also been revamped (2003) - stones set
upright and ground leveled. "Rounds" are still paid here by devout pilgrims, usually
enroute to nearby Croagh Patrick. Tochar Paidrig (the Pilgrim's Walk) runs through
the site, between
and "The Reek", as locals call St. Patrick's holy