Killala : Round Tower

Grid RefG 204 301
Longitude9° 13' 12.95" W
Latitude54° 12' 48.77" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownKillala (0.1 Km)
OS Sheet24
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 4th August 2002

It's nice to come across a round tower with a difference. This one is quite short and fat compared with most and has some character as a result. Some of the stone work is bulging on the one side, probably as a result of the lightning strike it received. This damage was repaired in 1840.

The door is round headed and the windows simple and square. It still retains its conical roof and reaches a height of 25m. It stands on a very solid 1m high plinth. The site itself is rumoured to date back to the 5th century when St. Patrick is said to have appointed Muiredach bishop of Killala.

The village (or town) of Killala is very nice but a swine to drive through, especially on a Sunday when everyone is at church.

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 Ballina take the R134 north to Killala. As you enter Killala the road turns sharply righta and goes up hill, with a church on the left. Turn right opposite the church and park on the left at the base of the tower. There is a gate leading to some steps which takes you to the tower.

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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