Clonmacnoise : Round Tower

Grid RefN 009 307
Longitude7° 59' 11.37" W
Latitude53° 19' 35.65" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownMoate (19.5 Km)
OS Sheet47
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

This site has subsites

Clonmacnoise - Visitor CentreClonmacnoise - Crosses - High Cross
The Nun's Church - Clonmacnoise - Church
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 30th June 2002

The round tower of Clonmacnoise overlooks the prety site of the monastic settlement. It also over looks the beautiful bend in the river Shannon that must have made this location special long before the Christians arrived here. It is very reminiscient of the Bend in the Boyne.

The tower now lacks its roof and appears to have been quite a short one. The door is at ground level.

Around the tower are the ruins of the cathedral, several churches and monastic cells. One of the churches down by the river has a 'mini round tower' which almost makes the site look a little greedy. The door to the cathedral is very ornately carved.

There is no denying that this site is a beautiful place in a beautiful location. There is now a visitor centre (4.40 euro entrance) which I have been told houses the real crosses - those on display outside are replacements, but very good ones if this is the case.

I have been reminded that in my rush I did not have time to browse the many cross slabs on the site. I definitely need to head back here and look around at leisure.

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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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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