Devenish - Round Tower Round Tower




N 54° 22' 14.22"   W 007° 39' 21.9"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

H 22348 46939

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Tuesday 19 June 2018

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The Devenish Island monastery as it appears when you arrive on the island.

We had this settlement on our visit list for years, but never got to actually go to it. When eventually the time was right, we were welcomed to the island by one of the heaviest rains ever seen, so our visit was totally ruined and all the photos are... wet!
My camera was literally flooded by the heavy rain and it took a whole day to recover to full operation.

Devenish Island is the seat of one of the finest monastic settlements in Northern Ireland. St. Molaise established the monastery in the 6th century, along one of the pilgrim routes to Croagh Patrick, in Co. Mayo. The settlement on Devenish Island became a centre of scholarship and later was chosen as the site of the parish church. The settlement was raided by the Vikings in 837, and burned in 1157.
The name Devenish comes from the Irish Daimhinis, meaning "Ox Island".

This round tower stands at about 26.50 metres of height, has a diameter of about 5.40 metres and still retains its conical cap, though it was rebuilt in 1835, following a storm that blew the roof off.
The tower has five internal floors. An angle-headed window is right above the doorway.
The base of the cap has a decorative cornice with a carved head above each of the four rectangular windows. Those heads might represent the saints Molaise, founder of the settlement on the island, Patrick, Columba and Brigid.
It is thought it was built in 1157, soon after a fire, or after 1176, when a local king's son was killed inside the tower during a dynastic struggle.

To the northwest of the round tower there's the low foundation of another round tower. Probably the monks started building it and then abandoned it and built the one that we see it today.

There's a round-headed doorway on the northeast side of the tower at about 3 metres from the ground.

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