Clondalkin Round Tower
At a Glance
County Dublin
OS Map 50
OS Coordinate O 069 314
Condition complete
Height 27.5
Doorway Type lintelled
Window Type square-headed
Number of Windows 6
Ground to Doorway 3.9 meters
Distinguishing Features slender drum/ unusual base
Traditional Association St. Cronan (aka St. Mochua)
 
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Clondalkin Round Tower Co. Dublin

Clondalkin Round Tower
County Dublin
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 traffic.

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 private property.

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.

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