Old Kilcullen Round Tower, Co. Kildare
Old Kilcullen Round Tower
O.S. Map 55
Location: About 12 km southwest of Naas, take R 448 south from Naas,
through Kilcullen. The road becomes N 78 where it meets M 9. Take N 78 for less
than half a kilometer and follow the signs to Old Kilcullen. The site is signposted
on the main road through the village. There is some off road parking and a walk
up a long lane to the ecclesiastical complex atop the hill.
Dimensions: There is no visible offset at the base of this tower. It measures
just over 9 meters from the ground to most of the top. It is 11 meters to its highest
point on the north side. Circumference is 14.5 meters at the base. The tower is composed
of local slate stone except for most of the doorway which is granite. The
doorway is 1.8 meters above the present ground level. There is one
small rectangular window facing the southwest that remains.
Features: The arch in the doorway is carved from two stones.
Comments: This is a well taken care of churchyard situated high on a hill
with a commanding view of the distant Wicklow Mountains.
History: St. MacTail was an early abbot of the monastery here who died in 548.
He is reputedly depicted on the top panel of one of the high cross shafts in the
churchyard, victorious over and enemy. The monastery had the usual history of being
plundered and burnt in the annals, but the roundtower is not mentioned until 1781. At
that time it was stated that the remains of four top windows existed, but a drawing by Grose
in 1792 shows a complete west window with part of a cornice above it. This indicates
that the tower was not much taller than it is now. The present form may be from damage done
in a battle that took place in on the hill in 1798.
Other Items of Interest: Also in the churchyard are the ruins of the old
church, the shafts of two high crosses and a high cross base. One of the high crosses
is badly worn. The other is worn but carved with design, interlace and what appears to be
scenes from the Bible.