Iniscealtra Round Tower
At a Glance
County Clare
OS Map 58
OS Coordinate R 698 850
Condition missing bell-storey and cap
Height 22.3 m
Doorway Type arched
Window Type one angle-headed, 3 lintelled
Number of Windows 4
Ground to Doorway 3.3 m
Distinguishing Features Tall drum, large 2nd floor window
Traditional Association St. Columb, St. Caimin
 
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Iniscealtra Round Tower, Co. Clare

Iniscealtra Round Tower - Holy Island
County Clare
O.S. Map 58
Visited May 21st, 2006

Location: Northeast of Scarriff along the R 352 off the western shore of Lough Derg. There are at least two ferry companies taking boats to the Holy Island, but whether they are in service depends on the weather and the time of year. High Tourist Season is most likely to find them running on a daily basis. One port is about 4 km from Sacrriff. The other is along the quay at the southernmost tip of MountShannon. Both ferrys are signposted.

Dimensions: Because we could not observe firsthand this tower except from a great distance, I must defer to others for information. There is an offset at the base, said to be .3 meters high. The tower rises 22 meters above this, or 22.3 meters above the present ground level. The external diameter is 4.58 meters. The ENE-facing arched doorway is 3.3 meters above the ground. The three stones in its arch run the entire depth of the doorway. The north-facing angle-headed window at about the second floor level is especially well cut with finely dressed stone. This would be in keeping with the traditional Treasury floor, therefore a more important window than others in the drum. Three lintelled windows light the remaining stories in ascending order facing ENE, SSW and NW.

Features: One of a handful of island round towers still existing.

Comments: I was so looking forward to finally seeing Iniscealtra after seeing everyone else's pictures. There is so much to see here. But, aside from the weather being truly vile, the ferry runs daily only in July and August and on weekends April to September. It wasn't running because of weather and we would be far away the following weekend. We had to be content to take photos from afar.

History:The island is said to have been occupied by at least one hermit in the 6th century before St. Columb established a monastery there. Later in that century, the community was re-established by St. Caimin, half-brother of the 7th century king of Connacht, Guaire, who died in 653. It was burned by the Vikings in 836 and 922 and eventually came under the patronage and protection of Brian Boru who installed his brother Marcan as abbott. First mention of the tower was by the Ordinance Survey in 1838 who described the tower as appearing much as it does today. A local man, Liam de Paor, excavated the area between the tower and the church in 1976, exposing the base of the north side of the tower.

Other Items of Interest: Maps of the island show that in addition to the round tower, there are six churches, seven bullaun stones, many 8th to 12th century grave slabs, a holy well, and a "bargaining stone" - a large stone with a hole through which people could join hands.

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