Maghera Round Tower Co. Down
Maghera Round Tower
O.S. Map 29
Visited May 14, 2006
Location: From Castlewellen take the A50 south towards Newcastle
and then the B180 north. Take the first right (signposted) About 200m on your left
is a green gate. If the gate is open, drive through to the church carpark. If
the gates are closed, park here and walk up the level lane about 125 m.
The round tower is in a field to the left facing the church.
Dimensions: This ruined stump sits on a rise in a boggy crop field.
No offset is visible at it's base, which has a diameter of 4.85 m. There is a
gaping breach on the east side, presumably in the area of the doorway. Height of the drum
on the east side above the breach is 5.4 m, on the west it is 5.3 m and on the north
side is the lowest point at 4.4 m high.
Features: The huge gape in the east wall is rather cyclopic-looking, making this
tower stump instantly recognizable. Otherwise, there is little impressive about it.
Comments: This was a bear to find, since there are no markings on the green
entrance gate to the site and the church cannot be seen until halfway up the lane (when
the leaves are on the trees). The roundtower is easily overlooked at first.
History: Nothing is known of the early history of this monastery, said to have
been founded by a convert of St. Patrick, St. Donard, in the sixth century. Tradition has it that the
tower blew down in a violent storm, but there is no confirmation of this story. The OPW
undertook some repairs on the tower, including some rebuilding in 1877/78, but no details
were noted. The Historic Monuments branch of the Ministry of Finance thoroughly cleaned and
repointed Maghera tower in 1975.
Other Items of Interest: Behind the modern church and through another green gate
is Maghera Old Church, probably dating from the 13th century.
There are a number of interesting grave slabs within the circular graveyard surrounding it.