Turlough Round Tower

At a Glance
County Mayo
OS Map 31
OS Coordinate M 205 939
Condition complete
Height 22.86 m
Doorway Type arched
Window Type 4 lintelled, 4 angle-headed
Number of Windows 8
Ground to Doorway 3.96
Distinguishing Features complete with cap
Traditional Association unknown
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Turlough Round Tower Co. Mayo

Northwest side of tower Northwest side of tower Northwest side of tower West side of tower West side of tower West side of tower
West and northwest side of the tower
North side of tower and church North side of tower and church North side of tower and church
North and northeast side of the tower
Southwest side of tower and church Southwest side of tower and church
Southwest side of the tower

Turlough Round Tower
County Mayo
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 and east.

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.

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