Inis Cealtra - Round Tower Round Tower




N 52° 54' 55.68"   W 008° 26' 54.96"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

R 69828 85043

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Monday 22 June 2015

GPS Accuracy (m)

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Approaching Inis Cealtra.

Inis Cealtra, or Holy Island, is an island in Lough Derg. On this island there are many and different interesting remains from an ancient monastic settlement founded by St. Colum, though it's mainly associated with St. Caimin who was abbot on this island. The monastery was attacked at least two times by Vikings.
There are the ruins of six churches, a round tower, a holy well, five bullaun stones, many beautiful grave markers and slabs, remains of high crosses, a cillín and other things.
In 17th century the island had already been abandoned and the monuments were in ruins. Some of the churches were used as cattle sheds or pigsties.
Nonetheless the island has been a site for pilgrimage for over 1,000 years and it still is. Pilgrims do elaborated rounds among its monuments and other spots used as stations.
Many legends and lores that go back to the 10th century are related to this island.
The island is uninhabited and can be reached by boat only.

The round tower stands 24.40 metres high but in origin it could have been 30 metres tall. It was built around 1000. It has a round headed doorway at 3.05 metres from the ground and facing east (90°). There are four windows, one at each point of the compass. The lowest one facing north has a triangular head, the others are rectangular openings. The tower is roofless and excavations revealed that it was never completed, thus giving strength to the legend that a beautiful red-headed woman distracted the mason during the building. Another version of the story is that Brian Boru wanted this tower to be built but he died in a battle in 1014 and the tower was left unfinished.

The visit to Inis Cealtra wasn't in our plans, but we were in the area early in the morning, the weather was great, we seized the day.

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