Maghera Round Tower
At a Glance
County Down
OS Map 29
OS Coordinate J 371 342
Condition ruin
Height 5.4 m
Doorway Type N/A
Window Type N/A
Number of Windows none
Ground to Doorway N/A
Distinguishing Features stump with large breach
Traditional Association St. Donard
 
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Maghera Round Tower Co. Down

Maghera Round Tower
County Down
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.

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