complete to cornice
incorporated into medieval bell tower
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Lusk Round Tower, Co. Dublin
Lusk Round Tower
O.S. Map 43
Location: Northeast of Dublin from the N1, take R 127 into Lusk. Take Barracks Road
(on the left) as soon as the church comes into view (R 127 veers to the right; Barracks
Rd. goes straight ahead). If this road is missed, take the next left (Church Road) - though
it is much narrower than Barracks. There are several places to park a car off the road,
just large enough for one car.
Dimensions: There is no offset visible at the base of the tower. The sill of
the doorway is just 90 cm from present ground level but it is clear from excavations done
near the basement of the belfry that the ground level has been raised significantly, perhaps
over 2.5 meters since the belfry was built. Circumference is estimated at 16 meters, since
accurate measurement is precluded with the belfry being built directly against the tower.
The doorway is lintelled and there is a simple raised molding around it. There are four
small windows in the top storey that face just off the compass points. A rather odd
large window faces the SE, just below one of the top storey windows. There is a blocked window
facing the befry battlements at the 5th storey level, one the fourth storey facing west,
on the third storey facing ESE, on the second storey facing NE and the blocked window again
facing the belfry on the 1st floor above the ground level floor. All existing windows
Features: The round tower has been cleverly incorporated into the design
of a medieval belfry with three corner turrets and the roundtower making the fourth.
Though built against the round tower, it is obvious that the round tower and belfry are
separate from each other.
Comments: This is an ingenious disguise for a round tower. A first glance
would blend it right into the architecture of the church and belfry. Subsequently
the round tower becomes more obviously distinguished from the other three shorter,
battlemented turrets. This tower, though not the tallest in Ireland, has eight stories plus
a basement; more than any other round tower. While the top of the round tower cannot be viewed,
sources state that a low profile cement-covered timber roof exists above the cornice.
History: The annals refer to the death of the abbot, St. Macculind, most likely the founder
of the monastery here in 497. The monastery itself had a violent history, having been
pillaged and destroyed in 835 and burnt in 854. In 1089 the church was burnt again with 180 people
inside and the abbey was devastated yet again in 1135. Austin Cooper first mentioned the tower in
1783 as being in good condition, though there were no floors or ladders at that time. These
were fitted in the 1860s, along with a wood and cement roof by the rector, Dr. Wm. Reeves.
He also filled up a breach in the second storey that led to the square medieval bell tower, and
possibly another at the level of the belfry battlements. Metal grills were fitted into the
windows in 1977. The present church was built against the east wall of the belfry in 1847
after a storm damaged the former (and much larger) building in 1838. The belfry is thought
to date from approximately 1500.
Other Items of Interest: The church on this site houses the Lusk Heritage Center
and is currently undergoing either restoration or conservation work.