Donaghmore Round Tower
At a Glance
County Meath
OS Map 42
OS Coordinate N 884 699
Condition full height/ capless
Height 26.6 m
Doorway Type arched
Window Type 2 lintelled, 1 angle-headed, 1 arched
Number of Windows 4
Ground to Doorway 3.4 m
Distinguishing Features doorway moulding/carvings
Traditional Association St. Patrick/St. Cassanus
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Donaghmore Round Tower Co. Meath

East facing door To the right of the door
East facing window above door East facing and north facing windows above door East facing and north facing windows above door South facing window

Donaghmore Round Tower in 1982
(Photo courtesy of R. Oram - All rights reserved)

Donaghmore Round Tower
County Meath
O.S. Map 42

Location: Donaghmore is on a side road just off N51 (Navan to Slane Road) approximately 3 km northeast of Navan. It is visible from N51 and signposted. There is a fairly large carpark on site through a gateway on the left of the side road. It's easy to miss, as it was screened by large trees in 2003. The road is very narrow so if you miss the carpark, you may have to turn around via private property.

Dimensions: The tower sits on two offsets. The top offset is approx. six cm wide and 20 cm above the lower offset, which also is approx. 4 to 6 cm wide and another 20 cm. Due to the uneven ground, the depth of this base offset varies. Height of this tower is just over 26 meters, if the small bit of the cap that exists is included in the measurement. It is 15.65 meters in circumference, giving it a diameter of almost 5 meters. The east- facing doorway is about 3.4 meters above ground level, arched with three stones and with four stones in each jamb. There are four windows which, in order, are a south-facing lintelled window, angle-headed east window, an arched west window and another lintelled window just below what would be considered the bell-storey.

Features: A double raised rounded moulding surrounds the doorway of this tower. To either side of the opening are carvings of much-weathered heads. On the stone above the arch is a raised relief of a crucified Christ, also much weathered. The tower was reportedly repaired by an owner in 1841 and some restoration work also done by the OPW at a later date. Early drawings from the 18th century show the cap missing and damage near the top of the tower. Whether the bell-storey windows were missing before the time of repairs is not very clear (a drawing purportedly exists which shows just two windows), but the absence of the common bell-storey windows makes this tower instantly recognizable.

Comments: This site caught our attention because it was visible from quite far away. The cemetery in which the tower sits is quite small but is beautifully maintained.

History: The original monastery at this site is attributed to St. Patrick who gave a disciple, St. Cassanus, charge of it. The beautifully coursed limestone tower is unique in it's absence of bell-storey windows, though the windows that do exist face the traditional cardinal compass points. Barrow reports a plaque in the interior opposite the doorway which states that the landowner, Mr. Thomas Rothwell, repaired and restored the tower to it's original form in 1841. When the OPW took charge some thirty years later, the tower was reportedly in good repair, although it's cap had fallen in.

Other Items of Interest: Also in the cemetery is the gable wall of a 15th century medieval church which retains the arches for two bells.

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