Round Tower

The round tower is the only remnant of a monastery founded by St Columba/St Colmcille in 512. It is believed that St Columba appointed St Finian Lobair, or the leper, as its abbot, and gave him a missal, or copy of the gospels, that he had written. During its early history the monastery possessed considerable wealth, and as a result the town of Swords rose into importance. Over the centuries the monastic settlement was severely damaged by both native Irish and Vikings raiders. The bodies of King Brian Boru, and his son Murrough, were brought here after the battle of Clontarf. The following day they were carried to the abbey of Duleek, and placed in the care of the monks of St. Cianan, on their journey to Armagh. The 10th century round tower is 26m high (to the top of the cap)and 5 metres in diameter. The walls are 1.2 m thick. It contained four floors. The entrance, which is almost level with the ground, has two modern stone steps added. In the upper storey are four large arched windows facing the four cardinal points of the compass, these windows belong to the later period when the top storey was rebuilt. The large window above the doorway may be an early treasury window. Although I enjoyed visiting the round tower I found it very difficult to photograph on my first trip. I called back earlier in the morning to catch the sunlight on the tower in the image shown left. Standing close to the round tower is a tall befry, all that remains from a medieval church.

Situated: In the grounds of St Columba's church of Ireland. From Dublin take the M1 North. Take exit 3, drive through 3 roundabouts and into Swords village. Take the first left at the Lord Mayor's Tavern. Drive to the top of the hill. St Columba's is on your left.

Discovery Map 50: O 1792 4675. Last visit Jan 2011.

Longitude: 6° 13' 28" W

Latitude: 53° 27' 28 " N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

Approx date: 10th Century.

Dimensions: Height 26 m. Diameter: 5 m.

Door: Above ground 70cm. Type: Lintelled.

Windows: Eight. Four lintelled. 4 arched.

Features: Part of the stone treasury floor remains.

Cap: Crudely rebuilt.

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