Turlough Round Tower Co. Mayo
West and northwest side of the tower
North and northeast side of the tower
Southwest side of the tower
Turlough Round Tower
O.S. Map 31
Location: Approx. 8 km northeast of Castlebar on the north side of the N5 (just
barely visible above a hill from N5). It is not far from the well-marked National Museum of
Folk Life (within view) just outside of Turlough.
Dimensions: The ground begins to slope at the tower and what appears to be an offset
is on the lowest side, the circumference is estimated at approx. 17.5 meters, giving
it a diameter of close to 5.5 m. Height above the offset is 22.86 m. Because the drum
is so wide, it makes the tower look short and squat. The arched doorway (currently
blocked with mortared stone) is 3.96 m above the ground level below it and faces to the southeast.
As at Rattoo,the angle-headed bell-storey windows echo the shape of the tower and face
just to the left of the cardinal compass points. The other small lintelled windows in the
drum from bottom to top are oriented to the south, then slightly skewed to the west, north
Features: Below the blocked original doorway at ground level is what appears to be a
later doorway. As the tower stands almost touching the side of an 18th century C of I
ruin, it is possible that this opening was used to gain access to the interior of the tower.
Perhaps the church used the tower to house their own bells. This second doorway has also
been repaired and a headstone lies immediately in front of it.
Comments: The siting of this tower, on a rise at the apex of the cemetery is wonderful.
Almost every angle photographs it in stark contrast to the sky. This is a sentimental
favorite, as it was the first round tower we had ever seen.
History: not much is known about the monastic site at Turlough. Given its proximity to
the sacred mountain of Croagh Patrick, it is not inconceivable that it was originally of
Patrician foundation. The church at Turlough was reportedly pillaged by MacWilliam in 1236 but it
had probably ceased to be monastic long before then. The first reference to the Round
Tower is in a drawing dated 1792 showing the cap in a ruinous state at that time. It was
repaired in 1880 by the OPW. The cap lacks the traditional pointed capstone, giving it a rather
rounded appearance and adding to the illusion of squatness.
Other Items of Interest: The cruciform church beside the Tower dates from the 18th
century but incorporates a 16th century mullioned window and a small Crucifixion plaque
dated 1625. There are also several carved stones and a second, undated, Crucifixion panel.