O'Rourke's Tower

AKA Túr úi Ruairc

Standing in the north west corner of the monastic complex the tower was originally on the outside of the old monastic walls. It is quite difficult to date when it was actually built. A sign at the site states that the tower gets its name from the builder Fergal O'Rourke who died in 964 AD. The Annals record that it was finished by Turlough O'Connor, who was King of Connacht (1106–1156) and High King of Ireland (c. 1120-1156) and Abbot O'Malone a successor to Ciarán as an Abbot of Clonmacnoise. The tower is superbly built and unusually wide, being 5.62 metres in diameter at the base tapering towards the top. It was struck by lightning in 1135, which accounts for the tower only being 19.3 metres tall. It is estimated to be just 2/3rds of it's original height. It has been suggested that some of the stones from the missing third may have been used in the building of Temple Finghin. The doorway is 3.5 metres above ground level and faces south-east. There are a total of ten windows, eight of which are at bell-tower level, four of those face the cardinal points. It must have been a truly amazing experience to approach the monastic complex from the Shannon River, with O'Rourke's Tower acting as a beacon for pilgrims.

Situated: Easy, located at the northern western corner of the monastic site.

Discovery Map 47 : N 008 306. Last visit March 2011.

Longitude:  7° 59' 12" W

Latitude:  53° 19' 35" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

Approx date: 12th Century

Dimensions: Height 19.3 m. Diameter: 5.62 m

Door: Above ground 3.5m. Type: Arched.

Windows:Ten. All lintelled.

Features: 8 Bell-storey windows

Cap: Missing

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