Attractions

Timahoe Round Tower

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Address

Heritage Office, Laois County Council, Portlaoise, Laois, Republic of Ireland
T: +353(0)578664129
E: ccasey@laoiscoco.ie

A carved, Romanesqe doorway makes this the most elegant round tower in Ireland. The round tower was built some time in the 1100s, on the site of a religious community founded by St. Mochua around 600.

An extraordinary carved doorway makes this the most elegant round tower in Ireland. Romanesque style carvings of human heads, with flowing beards and moustaches, decorate the main entrance, about five metres from the ground. Smaller carvings also decorate a second storey window. No one knows why the monks at Timahoe carved such a beautiful doorway. They may have used it to display a sacred relic to pilgrims, or the elegant decoration could reflect the monastery buildings that have disappeared from this site.

The round tower was built some time in the 1100s, on the site of a religious community founded by St. Mochua around 600. The tower rises almost 30 metres high and is more than 17 metres wide at its base. Its walls are nearly 2 metres thick. Inside there are five different floors, which were reached by ladders.

The tower made it easy for travellers to find the monastery. Bells would be rung to call the monks to prayer and perhaps to signal when the monastery was under attack.

The tower stands in a lovely setting across a footbridge that crosses the Bauteogue River. Nearby, the former Church of Ireland is now used as a community facility and a ruined 17th Century castle contains elements from a 15th Century church.

A sculpture in the tower grounds was commissioned by the local primary school. Entitled Mochua’s Desk, it depicts St. Mochua and the three pets in a famous story about the saint: a rooster who woke him, a mouse who nibbled his ear if he fell asleep while praying, and a fly that stopped at the word Mochua stopped on when reading his prayers.