Kilbennen Round Tower Co. Galway
Kilbennen Round Tower
O.S. Map 39
Visited May 20, 2006
Location: In the village of Kilbennan off R332 at the rear of a cemetery
whose wall bisects the tower
north and south. In front of the tower stands the ruin of a late medieval church (1428).
Dimensions: The tower is bisected by a field wall and the field ground level is
considerably lower than the cemetery level, most likely the level having been raised
to accommodate burials. There is an offset visible in the field side of about 15 cm
in width and approximately 20 centimeters from ground level there. Diameter is 14.8
meters. Highest point is 16.5 meters above this offset. The lowest level is on the
southwest at 9.3 meters tall. The north-facing brown sandstone doorway is 3.6 meters
above the current cemetery level, 4.6 meters above the offset. There are no surviving
windows, but a window jamb survives in the breeched section near the level of the
second floor on the NNE side.
Features:The substantial breech that has remained for at least a century is a
marvel. It is a wonder that it still stands, but allows a glimpse into the construction
of this tower.
Comments: There is little of unusual interest in either the round tower or the
church. A gabled addition to the church was built against the medieval window,
blocking all but the top 30 cm or so. Very curious indeed. A Marion shrine was also
added above the addition at the top of the window which makes the whole first glimpse
of the site a very odd impression.
History: Founded by St. Benin (aka Benen, Bennan) in the fifth century who was a
disciple of Patrick. This is often assumed to be St. Patrick, but also could have been
another Patrick who came from this area and founded the monastery on family land.
The Annals record the burning of the settlement in 1114. Some conservation work was
done in 1880-81, but no details of that work are recorded.
Other Items of Interest: In the far window sill of the medieval church (SSW),
a decorated corbel sits overlooking the interior of the church.