Tall with a broken top
1 angle-headed, 3 lintelled
raised molding on doorway
St. Buite mac Bronaigh
-- Holding a mouse over a thumbnail picture will "popup" information
for many of the pictures
-- Clicking ON the thumbnail picture will load up a 1024x780 version
of that picture
Monasterboise Round Tower Co. Louth
Monasterboise Round Tower
O.S. Map 36
Mainistir Bhuithe: Buite's Monastery
Location: About 8 km northwest of Droheda, signposted on a side road just west
of M 1 (turn left off M1 at the Monasterboice Inn) lies the Monasterboice complex. There is a reasonably large parking lot across
the lane and access is easy. The round tower stands at the back of the cemetery,
behind the ruins of two churches.
Dimensions: There is no visible offset. The circumference at ground level is 15.6 m,
giving it a diameter of just under 5 meters. The top of the tower is broken, with
the north section over three meters higher than the lowest section on the southeast side
of the tower. From ground to the highest point is 28 meters. The east-facing arched doorway is just
1.84 m. above ground level, presumably since the ground level of the cemetery has been raised to
accommodate burials. A wide double banded moulding frames the doorway. Aside from the
beautifully crafted quoins, there is no other decoration. Like the doorway, the angle-headed window
directly above it is composed of sandstone, while the tower itself is of slate. The three
other windows in the drum are lintelled and small, facing - in ascending order - W, S, and N.
Features: Monasterboice apparently is still equipped with floors and ladders, but while
there is a concrete and metal stairway to the door, the iron grille fitted into the doorway
is padlocked and there is no public access to the interior.
Comments: Unfortuately, at this point in our trip we were running out of room on
the digital camera (had not yet uploaded pictures to disk, I think) and most of this
wonderful site was captured on video. For us, this is wonderful because the entire
site is captured in context with wonderful birdsong as accompaniment. For this website,
it is a shame. The high crosses are spectacular and there isn't one still photo that
does them justice. While the Bord Failte signs claim the tower is 110 ft. tall,
this must be an estimate most likely based on the original level of the burial ground and
includes the theoretical height of the original conical cap, which obviously no longer
History: The monastery here was reportedly founded by St. Buite mac Bronaigh, a
bishop of Mainistir, who died in 521. The church ruins at this site however date from
the 13th century, while the round tower and crosses probably date from the 10th century.
Other Items of Interest: Monasterboice is known for the remains of the monastic
settlement of St Buite. These remains consist of an old
graveyard, two churches, three sculptured high crosses,
two early grave slabs and a sundial.
The South church is the older of the two and it still has the remains of the chancel
arch. The smaller church is situated beside the Round Tower and has no trace of a
chancel. The cross nearest the graveyard entrance is Muirdeach's Cross, over 4 meters tall
and an outstanding example of high crosses of the Early Christian period in Ireland.