Clondalkin Round Tower Co. Dublin
Clondalkin Round Tower
O.S. Map 50
Location: Directly in the center of the town of Clondalkin, abutting the sidewalk
and across the one-way street from the Church of Ireland. Clondalkin is SW of Dublin
on the north side of N7 (from exit 9 on the M 50 beltway around Dublin). The street, as mentioned, is one way
toward the center of Clondalkin and there is no parking on the street. It is possible to
pull off on the sidewalk at the base of the tower and still leave room for pedestrian
Dimensions: An offset is hidden by the very distinctive skirt-like bulge of rubble
masonry that surrounds the base of the tower drum. The circumference at the top of this
bulge is 12.7 meters. The tower is composed of poorly coursed calp limestone with some granite
blocks. The bulging base is rubble work with smaller stones. The doorway, 3.9 meters above
pavement level faces east toward the Church of England. The very plain lintelled doorway
is composed mainly of granite. There are four square-headed windows in the top storey
facing the cardinal compass points. Two other windows in the drum face south (in the
first storey) and west (in the second storey). Both are also square-headed.
Features: This is a complete tower. No record has been found mentioning restoration
of the cap, which implies that it may be original to the tower. Certainly the angle is lower
than most other towers that still retain their conical cap. The most obvious feature of
the Clondalkin tower is the skirt-like bulge at it's base, into which have been built nine
irregular steps to the doorway along with a metal handrail in a winding configuration.
Apparently it was once possible to climb the tower. Since the steps begin about 1.5 meters
above the pavement, there must have been additional steps below this. The steps culminate
in a wide stone landing outside the doorway. This large slab overhangs the pavement
supported by a single corbel.
Comments:Because there is an obvious difference in the stone of the drum and the stone
in the base bulge, it is probable that the bulge was a later addition, rather than original
to the tower. Early 18th century drawings show the tower as it is today (though with rural
suroundings). There is speculation that the bulge was added shortly after the tower's
completion as a means of additional support to the unusually slender tower. The steps may
have been a much later insertion. Certainly the handrail is a very modern one. The top storey of the
tower flares out noticeably, which adds credence to the need for additional base support.
The view from the top of the tower would be spectacular, but it appears that the tower has
not been available to climb for some time. The floors and ladders that were installed in the late
18th/early 19th century may be in a dangerous state of repair. The base of the tower is bisected
by a stone wall, so that part of the west side of the bulge lies in an unkempt garden on
History: The monastery was founded by St. Cronan (alias Mochua) in the 7th century.
This monastery was plundered by Danes in 832. Olaf the White, probable founder of Dublin,
built a fort here in 852. First mention of the round tower was a drawing by Molyneux in
1725, virtually unchanged from the tower as it is today. Floors and ladders to the top
were installed sometime between 1783 and 1827. In recent times glass was fitted into the
windows and shutters and doors were installed.