Oughterard Round Tower
At a Glance
County Kildare
OS Map 50
OS Coordinate N 958 262
Condition 3 storey drum
Height 9.5 meters
Doorway Type arched
Window Type arched
Number of Windows 1
Ground to Doorway 2.65 meters
Distinguishing Features none
Traditional Association St. Brigid
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Oughterard Round Tower, Co. Kildare

Oughterard Round Tower
County Kildare
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 monastery.

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