Timahoe Round Tower
At a Glance
County Laois
OS Map 55
OS Coordinate S 584 907
Condition Complete
Height 29m
Doorway Type Romanesque
Window Type 5 angle-headed (4 in bell storey), 2 lintelled
Number of Windows 7
Ground to Doorway 5m
Distinguishing Features Extensive & intricate doorway carving
Traditional Association St. Mochua
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Timahoe Round Tower Co. Laois

East facing door, south window and top east window Information Top east window Top east window South window
East facing door and south window Three offsets at base of tower WNW window and top north(?) window Slate that just fell from the roof Leaving enclosure
Romanesque doorway Romanesque doorway Romanesque doorway Romanesque doorway Romanesque doorway Romanesque doorway

Romanesque doorway Romanesque doorway Romanesque doorway Romanesque doorway Romanesque doorway Romanesque doorway

Timahoe Round Tower
County Laois
O.S. Map 55
from Tigh Mochua: Place of Mochua

Location: Timahoe Round Tower is situated equidistant southeast from Port Laoise, and northeast of Abbeyleix. From M7 south, take R425 south to left on R 426. Timahoe village is approx. 10 km. down R 426. The round tower stands in a lovely park-like setting across a pretty footbridge that crosses the Bauteogue river in the center of the village. Signposted.

Dimensions: There are three very obvious offsets at the base of the tower. The lowest is approx. 20 cm wide and varies in height, but is about 30 cm high on average. The upper two are each about 15 cm high and 5 cm wide. Above this offset the circumference is just over 17.5 meters, giving it a diameter of a bit over 5.5 meters. Height from ground level is 29.26 meters. The unusual doorway is 4.9 meters above ground level and faces ENE. The lowest window, facing S is also unusually finished, being large and framed in stone. The jambs of this window may also have once had carvings, though weathering has made this determination difficult. The window mid-way on the rear of the drum is a lintelled slit and the top drum window is squared and lintelled, facing WNW. The four bell-storey windows face the cardinal compass points and were apparently renovated by the OPW in the late 19th century when the cap was repaired and a modern ground level doorway was filled on the SW side of the tower.

Features: Timahoe is a complete tower, though without floors or ladders. It has one of the finest four-order Romanesque doorways in Ireland, with elaborately carved and decorated with interlace, human heads, chevrons and capitals. It is unique in round tower architecture.

Comments: Romanesque doorways, usually reserved for important churches, are a labor-intensive decoration on a flat surface. Imagine, then, inserting such a feature in a curved surface. Viewing this doorway from directly underneath it should impress anyone with it's clever integration into the structure of the tower. At the time of our visit in 2004, slates, apparently from the tower's cap (as evidenced by the change in slate color in the cap directly above) , had split and slid to the base at the rear of the tower.

History: Saint Mochua, who died in 657, established a monastery here in the seventh-century. Burned in 1142, it was re-founded by the O'Mores. The twelfth-century Round Tower with its impressively decorated romanesque doorway is all that remains of the original monastic foundation. After the Suppression, the monastery and lands were granted to Sir Thomas Loftus and later (1609) to Richard Cosby. It was probably one of the Cosby family who transformed what was a medieval church into a castle. The last friar of the monastery was killed in 1650.

Other Items of Interest: Just to the SE of the tower stands a ruin, once a 15th century church (with blocked chancel arch) that had been fortified as a "castle" in the 17th century. Only the east wall of the castle, incorporating the arch of the medieval church remains. Just to the NE of the tower is a modern Church of Ireland church, though it apparently is no longer used as a church building.

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