Kilree Round Tower
At a Glance
County Kilkenny
OS Map 67
OS Coordinate S 497 409
Condition Complete w/ battlements
Height 27m
Doorway Type Arched
Window Type 1 semi-angles, 6 lintelled, 4 in bell storey
Number of Windows 7
Ground to Doorway 2m
Distinguishing Features castellated top, projecting corbels or gutters
Traditional Association unknown
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Kilree Round Tower Co. Kilkenny

Door Door Door
Stone offset at the base of the tower

Kilree Round Tower
County Kilkenny
O.S. Map 67

Location: About four km southeast of the village of Kells on a side road just off of R 697, west of Stonyford on N 10. The side road is signposted for Kells Priory as well as Kilree. About 14 km due south of Kilkenny. The round tower lies at the back of a fairly heavily wooded cemetery, bisected by the wall that separates the the complex from surrounding open fields.

Dimensions: On the cemetery side of the tower, no offset is visible. The field side ground level is considerably lower, however and two offsets are exposed on this west side. The upper offset is shallower, about 10 cm wide and 5 cm high. The lower offset extends an additional 3 - 4 cm and is approx. 20 cm high. Beneath these offsets is a squared-off base - very plinth-like. Above the offsets, the tower is 15.28 meters in circumference, giving it a diameter of 4.86 meters. Height is between 26 and 27 meters, depending on which ground level it is measured from. The arched doorway is 1.64 meters above the cemetery ground level and faces south. Simple raised moulding frames the sandstone doorway. The east facing lowest window appears to have been angle-headed at one time, but may have collapsed. It appears to be presently supported with red sandstone supports. The other two windows in the drum are to the north and east, both lintelled. The bell-storey has four lintelled windows facing the compass points. At the time of the 2004 visit, vines were beginning to obscure their outline, but at least two of these windows appeared to have broken framing stones. The capless tower has unstepped battlements, below which are pronounced protrusions, probably drainage spouts.

Features: Capless, battlemented tower. The doorway is relatively low to the present cemetery ground level. The squared, plinth-like foundation is unusual, the only other tower with a similar base being at nearby Aghaviller.

Comments: The cemetery itself is heavily wooded, giving it a hushed, surrealistic and almost haunted feel.

History: The tower doorway faces the ruin of an early church with pronounced antae, though nothing appears to be known of the monastery here. The church and lands were transferred to the Priory of Kells in the 13th century. Until then, they had been the property of the dean and chapter of the Ossory.

Other Items of Interest: There is a 2.75 meter sandstone Highcross across the field to the west of the tower. It is said to be of 9th century origin, badly weathered but still beautifully carved with bosses, ornament, interlace and what were once some figure carvings.

  © 2004-2005 F.J. & K.D. Schorr - All rights reserved.