Oughterard Round Tower, Co. Kildare
Oughterard Round Tower
O.S. Map 50
Location: Southeast of Dublin. Take N 7 (from exit 9 on the M50 beltway around
Dublin) south toward Naas. Approximately 12 miles from this exit, and about 2 km before
Kill, take a right side road at Blackchurch toward Ardclogh. Less than 2 km up this
road heading north, directly after a wide bend to the right and between residences is
the gate marked Oughterard Cemetery. It is possible to open this gate and drive up the
wide gravelled path and there is parking space and an area to turn a car around outside
the site, but it is quite easy to park at the gate and walk up to the churchyard.
Dimensions: The tower is composed of uncoursed spalled limestone, though it is
dressed to the curve. The doorway and arched window are of granite. The tower rises
9.6 meters from lowest ground to highest point. There is no offset visible. Circumference
at ground level is approximately 14.4 meters. The east-facing doorway has a three stone
arch devoid of decoration. It sits 2.65 meters above the present ground level, though it is
likely that the ground level has been raised since the time the tower was built. The single
window at the second storey level faces south and echos the design of the doorway.
Features: No remarkable features were observed.
Comments:This is a lovely hilltop site that is beautifully cared for. The large
gloomy church has a complete barrel vault and it is possible to still climb the spiral stairs in
the antae-like extension that is pulling away from the main church wall (now reinforced with
concrete posts). The ground here rolls artificially though it's difficult to make sense of it
at ground level. Obviously some of the barrow-like lumps ARE burials in vaulted graves.
Some may be earthworks or foundations. It is clear that the ground around the churches
has been raised as well as the ground around the round tower since they were built.
History: The St. Brigid that is said to have founded this monastery in the 6th
century is not the same St. Brigid as the one of Kildare. Aside from a burning in 1096,
little is recorded about this site and the round tower is not mentioned until 1792 by
Austin Cooper. The tower was much then as it is today.A thorough repointing of the
external wall of the tower was carried out in 1977-78 and the ground surrounding it was
levelled a bit.
Other Items of Interest: There is a late medieval church with an intact vaulted
ceiling facing the round tower as well as what appears to be a domestic building. See
the "comments" above. The church is most likely built on the site of the original