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Duleek Round Tower Co. Meath
Duleek Round Tower
O.S. Map 43
Visited May 12, 2006
Location:Southwest of Droheda, in the grounds of the priory off R152. The enormous 15th century
bell tower is hard to miss, as is the sharp spire of the St. Cianan Church of Irland
Dimensions: Judging by the remains embedded in the medieval bell tower's north wall, the site
plan for the OPW estimates the external diameter at 5.18 meters. There is a large window
or doorway from the medieval tower to the now demolished roundtower at a height of about 9 meters
which leads us to believe that the roundtower existed well into the 15th century, at least.
At 14 meters, this would have been one of the shorter roundtowers, but I dont imagine it
was ever much taller than this, given the impression on the building. It is possible that,
as at Lusk, the roundtower diverged at the level of the first string course height
in which case it could have been at least another floor level (totalling four floors plus
basement, common to most round towers) for an estimated height of at least 20 meters.
Features: This is a dimensional ghost image of a once-existing roundtower that
Comments: Odd thing to see, a tower that isn't there, but all the hallmarks are
easily identified: the pointed cap, the floor corbels, even what appears to be the vestiges of
an offset. While the building of the 15th century bell tower against the existing roundtower
has been compared to Lusk, I don't believe any other tower has ever been as completely incorporated
into another structure as this has been.
History: Traditionally the site of the first stone church in Ireland founded by St.
Cianan who died in 489. The name Duleek, is derived from the Irish for "stone church"
- damhliag. The monastery was granted to the Augustinian Order in the 12th century. The church remains,
dedicated to St. Mary may date from the 13th century on the site of a 12th century church,
of which some sculpted fragments remain.
The Annals record that lightning struck the tower in 1147, but it must not
have done much damage overall, as the tower outline is complete (including the conical cap)
and the bell tower that incorporated it was built some 300+ years later.
Other Items of Interest: On the grounds along with the ghostly remains of the round tower
are a complete high cross with good carving, the head of another cross, and some fine 17th century