Castledermot Round Tower
At a Glance
County Kildare
OS Map 61
OS Coordinate S 784 850
Condition altered with battlements
Height 20m
Doorway Type lintelled
Window Type 1 slit, 2 square-headed, 4 arched
Number of Windows 7
Ground to Doorway 20 inches
Distinguishing Features battlements, attached to church
Traditional Association St. Diarmaid
 
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Castledermot Round Tower Co. Kildare

Looking north at the south window which is a later addition Northwest window opposite the door Annex Hallway Looking north at the south window which is a later addition Looking north at the south window which is a later addition

Castledermot (Diseart Diarmada)
County Kildare
O.S. Map 61

Location: The town of Castledermot lies on the N9 and R416. The round tower stands in the grounds of St. James Church of Ireland (to which the tower is attached). Be aware that in the north of Kildare, the N9 is a dual carriageway (M9) and the exits don't seem to be placed where maps would indicate they are. Once on the National road or the Regional road, following a map is far easier.

Dimensions: This is an interesting and complete tower, though it's original cap has been replaced with battlements. Height from ground to the top of these battlements is 20 meters. If there is an offset, it is not presently visible. Because the tower is attached to the church by a very short hallway that connects the round tower to the nave of the church, it is only possible to estimate the circumference at the base at approximately 4.75 meters. The batter on this tower is very slight. The top two meters above the windows in the bell storey project from the tower at two levels (about 1m each), giving the entire tower the look of an upturned flashlight (electric torch).

Features: This round tower has the appearance of a cobbled street in the vertical, being composed of what appear to be rounded boulders embedded in mortar. It has large door-like windows in the bell-storey and a ground level doorway accessed via an annex hallway from the church or from an exterior round-arched wooden doorway facing south into the churchyard.

History: St. James's Church lies on the site of a monastery founded around 800 by the father of St.Diarmuid, after which Castledermot takes its name. The monastery was raided by the Vikings in the 9th century, but continued its existence at least until the 12th century. All that is left today is a splendidly reconstructed Romanesque doorway, which came from a church that has since vanished.

Doorway: The doorway is reportedly at ground level. Access is by way of an arched exterior wooden door in the annex hallway or by internal passageway from the nave of the church. The church was closed on the day we visited in 2004, but it appears the doorway would face southeast. This is an unusual arrangement if the current church is built on the site of the earlier monastery, in that it would have had the closest proximity to a church of any other known round tower.

Windows:This is the only tower that has a window in the same storey as the doorway. At ground level on the northside of the tower is a slit window, now glassed, sitting opposite the door. Additionally, there are two small flat-headed windows in the body of the tower - one to the SE and another to the south. In the bell-storey there are the usual four windows, each facing a cardinal compass point. These windows are arched using smaller stones and are disproportionately tall, giving the appearance of doorways rather than windows. They are lower in the tower than one would expect, being below the first upper offset, which is, itself, below the battlemented section.

Other Items of Interest: In the churchyard there is a reconstructed Romanesque doorway from a 12th century church, two fine high crosses carved with biblical scenes and celtic design and the base of a third cross (interestingly being used as a decorative planter at the time of our visit). There are a number of early Christian grave slabs, a holed "swearing" stone, another holed stone, and the only "hog-back" (a Scandinavian style grave marker) known in Ireland.

  © 2004-2005 F.J. & K.D. Schorr - All rights reserved.