Donaghmore : Round Tower

Grid RefN 884 699
Longitude6° 39' 44.23" W
Latitude53° 40' 16.84" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownNavan (2.7 Km)
OS Sheet42
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 27th January 2002

Don't you just love it when a sign tells you there's parking and when you get there the gates are locked! It's even better when you're then on a single lane and can't turn around.

The tower itself is nearly complete and stands next to the gable end wall of an old church. It looks very 'clean' and I presume it has had some renevation work done on it.

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Sunday, 25th January 2004

When I came here previously I was in a rush and the gates to the carpark were locked so I took a photo and moved on. This time the opposite was true so I had chance to look around properly.

It is said that a monastery was founded here in the 5th century by Patrick (who else?), but the round tower is significantly younger than that, being built around 1200.

A couple of unusal features are apparent. Firstly there are no top-floor windows, but this could be the result of it being badly restored. Then the doorway has two stone head flanking it and a crucifix above it in heavy relief. This crucifix is very similar to the one on the main carved cross at the Glendalough (County Wicklow).

Round Towers are found all over Ireland. They are very tall towers associated with early monastic settlements. Their purpose is one of much debate: were they bell towers, look-out towers or were they defensive structures, built to protect the sites relics and books during Viking raids? Maybe they were all three! The high-set doors certainly give the impression that some element of defense was considered in their construction.

Internally they had four or five floors, each accessed via a ladder from the floor below. Not every floor had a window, but the top floor usually had four windows which aligned to the cardinal points of the compass. The one at Kells (County Meath) unusually has five windows on the top floor which point at the five gates to the town.

Not many of the eighty plus examples left are full height these days. Many crumbled and were taken down for safety purposes. Some, however, are still very impressive inded with Kilmacduagh (County Galway) reaching an incredible 35m tall.

Originally all of them would have had a conical roof and those that still possess this feature give the impression of being ready to blast off into space.

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Like this monument

Marked Sites


From Navan take the N51 north and turn right at the first opportunity. The round tower is on your left after just 100m or so.

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Round Towers

About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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