Towers of Mayo
Kilgarvan Ogham Stone
Winter Solstice Alignment
& Archaeological Society
There are five Round-Towers in Co. Mayo, situated at Aughagower,
Balla, Killala, Meelick, and Turlough. Generally, these enigmatic
monuments were built in an era covering the period from the 9th
to the 12th centuries.
many differing opinions as to the purpose of the towers but so
far, there seems to be no definitive answer to the question, -Why
were they built? It seems that the only positive thing known about
them is that they were all associated with ecclesiastical sites.
There is some
speculation, that, because the doorways are set several feet above
ground level, the towers were intended as places of refuge in
times of trouble. Others speculate that they might be bell-towers
from where the faithful were called to prayer by the ringing of
a bell. These would probably have been hand-bells rung through
one of the windows. There does not appear to have been any opening
for a bell-rope.
Round-Towers range in height
from approximately 20 metres in some cases, to 40 metres in other
examples. The doorways can be round-headed (Romanesque) or lintelled.
The windows are small and set high in the building. The interior
of the towers was divided into several floors, each one reached
by climbing a ladder inside the building. The roof was conical
former uses, the towers now stand as impressive and imposing monuments
in the modern landscape of Co. Mayo.
The photo shows the Turlough
round-tower near Castlebar and the Meelick round-tower near Swinford
that was illuminated for the Millenium celebrations.