St. Mullins Round Tower, Co. Carlow
St. Mullins Round Tower
O.S. Map 68
Location: North of New Ross. On a side road west of R 729 lies St.
Mullins ecclaisiastical complex on the top of the hill from the Barrow River.
The monastic buildings are at the far end of the graveyard of the Church of Ireland.
This area sits in a park-like setting which also contains a 12th century motte and bailey.
Dimensions: Little more than a foundation, this roundtower stump is just 1 meter
in height with no doors or windows. Circumference is just over 16 meters.
It is evenly coursed of granite blocks dressed to the curve both internally and
externally with rubble between the walls.
Features: No remarkable features survive.
Comments: There is much to be seen crowded into this site.
We came to see the round tower, but spent far more time than we expected on the
rest of the area.
History: : The village takes its name from St. Moling who was a 7th century
cleric. According to local information, he was also a prince, poet, artist and artisan
who built a monastery here with the help of a legendary Irish builder named "Gobban Saor".
St. Moling later became Bishop of Ferns and was buried at St. Mullins after his death
in 696/7. This original monastery was plundered by Vikings in 951 and was again burned
in 1138. An Abbey was built on the site in the Middle Ages and some domestic medieval
buildings remain. One of these buildings has an unusual diamond-shaped window.
The Book Of Mulling, now in the National Museum in Dublin shows a simplified plan
of the monastery in a circular complex. It is the earliest known plan of an Irish
monastery. It shows the locations of 12 high crosses. The 9th century round tower
base was discovered during some OPW work after the complex was turned over to the
government as a monument in the late 19th century.
The church was acquired by St. Mullins Mhuitir na Tire for use as a heritage center in
1986. All aspects of local history including publications, church records, maps, old
photographs and small artifacts are on display here. (A most interesting and informative
tour of the settlement is available by contacting 051 - 424913)
Other Items of Interest: Besides the round tower, there are the remains of an abbey,
several domestic buildings, and a 9th century high cross. Behind the abbey is a stone
stairway that leads to a very old millstone - possibly from the early days of the ancient
water mill on the River Barrow below. Also nearby and beside the river is the holy well
of St. Moling (signposted on the road). Across the parking area for the ecclasiastical
complex is a 12th century motte and bailey.