Kilbennen Round Tower
At a Glance
County Galway
OS Map 39
OS Coordinate M 409 547
Condition ruin
Height 16.5 m
Doorway Type arched
Window Type NNNN/A
Number of Windows none
Ground to Doorway 3.7 - 4.6 m
Distinguishing Features extremely large breech
Traditional Association St. Benin
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Kilbennen Round Tower Co. Galway

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Kilbennen Round Tower
County Galway
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.

  © 2004-2006 F.J. & K.D. Schorr - All rights reserved.