The Round Tower of Kildare

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It has been a long time since I last visited the magnificent Round Tower in Kildare Town. Located a few meters away from St. Brigid’s Cathedral, it really is one of the most impressive Round Towers in the country. In fact at 108 ft. in height it has bragging rights as the second tallest Round Tower still standing in Ireland, and it is also the tallest Tower that can still be climbed. Interestingly the Round Tower in Glendalough which I visited last year holds the record for the tallest Tower in Ireland, standing at approx. 113ft in height. But as Kildare does not have a conical cap, I wonder might this have changed the rankings? This ancient site which has had a long connection with both the Gaelic Deity Brigid, but also the Christian saint whom shared the same name. Sometimes it is quite difficult to distinguish the difference between these two women. The monastery was said to have been founded here back in around 470AD by St. Brigid.

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On my previous visit, with my eldest son Ryan, we were able to climb the seven levels of the tower, right up to the caged battlements at the top, but on this occasion it was closed for lunch and I did not have time to wait around on this occasion to enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding countryside from the top. The Tower itself dates back to the sixth century and so was built long after the Christian Brigid has passed away. But over the course of time it is said to have fallen into ruin. Most of what you will see today comes from the reconstruction of the Tower in the 12th century. The base and lower courses of the tower are built of evenly coursed granite blocks, with roughly coursed limestone blocks which come from the original structure, but from the raised doorway upwards we see many signs of design from the 12th century.

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Sometime during 1843, the tower was excavated by the treasurer of the cathedral, a Rev. John Browne. Coins dating from the 12th century were found under the floor and are now housed in the National Museum. The raised entrance to the Tower which stands at over 4.5 meters, is of Romanesque design with four receding orders, which faces to the South East and was constructed using Red Sandstone. An interesting gable can be seen above. The current floors and ladders used to climb the tower were installed in 1874. There are seven floors; five supported on corbels, with the third and sixth on offsets. The battlements were repaired in 1931, with repointing work carried out on the exterior and some off the granite blocks in the lower offset being replaced.

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The exterior was repointed at that time and some of the granite blocks on the lower offset were replaced. Some of the most notable ornate features of the Tower include chevrons, rosettes and foliation. There are narrow pointed splayed windows on the second, third, fourth and fifth floors, and five windows, each partially blocked at the base, on the top floor. Castellation’s were added in the 18th century. Although the Tower is only open to the public for part of the year, there is a small admission charge to climb the Tower, which in my opinion is money well spent for the stunning views. The rest of the grounds are free to explore and include the Cathedral, Brigid’s Fire Temple and Kitchen, a High Cross and so much more.

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Photography, Round Tower and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to The Round Tower of Kildare

  1. Chained King says:

    I see you are as informative as ever.

  2. jfwknifton says:

    It’s certainly a wonderful tower. You are right about Brigid. I’m sure that many Christian saints are old gods who have been promoted (or demoted, depending on your point of view)

  3. willowdot21 says:

    Well this is a great tower, I have not been to Kildare but I have been to Glendalough twice in my life and I do love the place. The round Tower at Kildare is now on my list of places to visit! Thank you for showing us the tower and letting us in on some of it’s history!

  4. Great pictures as ever Ed, not seen anything from you for a few days so welcome back!

  5. hocuspocus13 says:

    Reblogged this on hocuspocus13 and commented:
    jinxx✨xoxo

  6. GP Cox says:

    Impressive is saying the least!!

  7. beetleypete says:

    That’s one mean tower, Ed. I can understand the desire to climb it. If I am ever in Kildare, you can be sure that I will be buying a ticket!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  8. armenpogharian says:

    You’ve created such a long list of interesting sites that we might have to visit Ireland twice.

  9. Darlene says:

    An interesting tower. I can image many stories surrounding it. Love these places!

  10. What I really like is that you have a visual style of your own. You always take your pictures with a certain eye, and are not trying to just make all your shots “professional” looking to draw attention to yourself. So many new/young/misguided photographers or bloggers take photos for attention’s sake and will not risk being overlooked in order to say something personal. But thankfully you are building your ever-growing portfolio around your vision of the world. This in itself should win you awards for visual integrity! 🙂

    351, 498, 000 stars out of 5!

  11. What an op this was! And what a climb it must have been. 🙂 Thanks for this post, Ed. It stirs my inner romantic.

  12. Ali Isaac says:

    Hi Ed, that’sounds a great photo at the top of the post. Its so hard to fit these towers into one image. I’ve never been in one… I’m ust wondering if it’s steps inside or a ladder? And how was the Bloggers Awards? Did you go? Did you see Tara there?

    • Thanks Ali, shooting tall structures can be problamatic at best. Normally the perspective can get messed up unless you shoot from a distance, but thanks to modern tech we can make allowances for this and alter these flaws in the processing.
      There are several floors within the tower, each one uis connected with a wooden ladder, great fun getting to the top, (not).
      I never made the awards this year, even though I took the day of work, there was an emergency and I got called in. It looked like a brilliant night despite all the corporate crap going on. But what im really looking forward to is the London trip. Ill be packing plenty of spare memory cards, just in case 🙂

  13. colonialist says:

    I would love to visit that. It is a wonder the locals haven’t thought of doing some creative stonework to a height of another 7 foot or so – maybe they need an Englishman to climb a second-highest and come down a highest! 🙂

  14. belshade says:

    Great photos. Intriguing pieces of architecture are Irish Round Towers. There is a uniqueness about them. Until recently supposed to be places of refuge for Church personnel and plate during Viking raids period. That could be true as a later use, but they are much older. An interesting feature is that thr lower walls are vitrified/glazed on the inside surface of the stone, having been subjected to intense heat. Des.

  15. cb says:

    Reblogged this on Contrafactual and commented:
    Fascinating structure
    Awesome photographs

  16. Dalo 2013 says:

    Great history with this post ~ and of course wonderful photography as always.

  17. your images of this fantastic structure are wonderful!!

  18. Lexa says:

    You have a fabulous eye for making the old ruins ‘speak’…. Love them!

  19. Pingback: Donaghmore Round Tower & Church | Ed Mooney Photography

  20. jazzfeathers says:

    I’ve always found round towers so fascinating 🙂

  21. Pingback: Uachtar Ard | Ed Mooney Photography

  22. Pingback: Round Tower of Diseart Diarmada | Ed Mooney Photography

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