Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Clondalkin Round Tower, Church & Castle Co Dublin

                                         Above & Below Images: The large cross

                           Above & Below Images: The two faces of the smaller cross

                                Above & Below 3 Images: Remains of the old Church

                      Above Image: The ancient font with Church remains in backround

                                             Above Image: Close up of the font

                                  Above Image: The tower as viewed from St Johns

                                    Above Image: Entrance door to the round tower

                                     Above Image: Tully's Castle on Monastery Rd

                                      Above Image: The North East facing aspect

                                      Above Image: The South West facing aspect

                                  Above Image: The replica tower on Monastery Rd

A monastery at Clondalkin was founded in the 7th century by St Mochua and it grew into a very sizable site over the subsequent years. The tall round tower, one of the finest examples in the country, is believed to date to the late 8th century or early 9th century and is a testament to time still retaining its conical cap intact. The site was ransacked many times notably by the Vikings in which the tower no doubt played an important part in defence for the clergy. Today unfortunately nothing remains of any of the other monastic buildings.
The tower stands over 90 feet tall and has four windows at its top which mirror the points of the compass. A couple of years ago the tower was opened to the public one Saturday but otherwise it remains squarely locked up. Its iconic stance dominates the village and is close to a narrow but very busy road. It is best viewed from the grounds of the Anglican Church of St John across the road where a wall impedes the view of the noisy traffic. Indeed St John's was built in 1787 and stands on the site of the former medieval church (circa 13th century) which was demolished to allow the construction of the new church. However a tall 12 foot sliver remains and is possibly part of the chancel of the old church. It is now a national monument and a very striking feature in the Churchyard.
I went to photograph the tower one Friday morning and was aware that St John's church grounds contained the remains of the medieval church but I did not expect to find the gates open which they were and so the visit became all the more interesting. Within the grounds of St john’s it remains quiet and peaceful and I remained undisturbed during my visit. At the rear of the church are some remnants of the old monastic times. There are two stone crosses. The smallest depicts both a ringed and a Latin cross on its faces while the larger granite cross which may have originally been a boundary or grave marker stands proudly a few yards apart from the smaller cross. Along the boundary to the right of the new Church is a large granite baptismal font which may date back to the original monastic times. Again it is very impressive and I find the manner in which all of these items have been preserved and placed a credit to those involved in doing so.
Nearby on Monastery Road are the remains of what is thought to be a 16th century Castle. Locally called Tully’s castle as this was the name of a previous owner it has been mentioned in records as being Clondalkin Castle. The remains consist of a tall narrow tower and part of an adjoining building on its North West side. There are two door like apertures on its Southern West side. The ruins now form part of the garden wall of a modern house. The tower may have been part of a number of castles built to protect the pale but seems too narrow to have been a residential tower so it would lead one to suspect it might be an ancillary tower to a much larger non-extant castle.

To find the ruins take the R113 (Fonthill Rd) heading Northwards from Newland's Cross on the N7. Drive for approx. 500m until you reach a crossroads with Boot Rd. Turn right here and drive for approx. 800m, you can’t miss the tower ahead of you. For parking your best bet is to continue on past the tower and park in the Mill shopping centre a little way further on the left. Parking is free and only a 3 minute walk back to the tower. Be sure to check if the gate to St Johns opposite is open so you can view the other antiquities. The best time for access would probably be a Sunday morning when service is held at 11.15am. To find Tully’s Castle leave the car park at the mill centre and go straight through the traffic lights to the road directly opposite. Follow this curved road until you reach a set of lights at the Village café. At this junction turn left and drive approx. 200m and you will spot the Castle on your right. You can park at the shops opposite.
As an interesting aside about 400m east of Tully’s Castle on the same road is a replica of the round tower at the entrance to a large car park. Worth a look for the heck of it.


  1. What about the ruins in greenfort avenue, clondalkin beside oldtower any idea of the history behind that?

    1. Hi Sinead

      Very interesting. I will look into that. Thanks for pointing it out.

    2. This ruin is a house or castle rather than a church. Unfortunately I've been able to find only limited information on it. If you look at our historical mapping site at

      you'll see that it was in ruins as far back as 1821 and it is marked on the maps as a castle. It seems to have been known as Irishtown Castle , there are two 1772 prints of it in the National Library, and it was in ruins even then.

      The historian Patrick Healy has written a short piece about it as follows:

      During the insurrection of 1641, the castle was garrisoned for the crown with a sergeant and ten men but the former, with half of the men, left and joined the Confederate Army. After the insurrection, the castle and lands of Irishtown were granted to Sir Maurice Eustace, the speaker of the House of Commons. During the Commonwealth the castle was occupied, first by the Archibalds and later by Thos. Vincent. It was then rated as containing eleven chimneys.

      The castle would appear to have been a large building but most of the main block is now gone. Only an attached turret is still standing to a height of three stories. It was accessed by a door from the main building. This tower is now open to the sky and there are joist holes at two levels for wooden floors. At some subsequent period it has been used as a pigeon house and the inside walls are disfigured with about 150 holes cut in the walls for the nests of the pigeons. This was noted by Austin Cooper when he visited the castle in 1781. A drawing of the castle by Gabriel Beranger made in 1772 shows it in somewhat better condition. According to Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of 1837, coins and bullets have been dug up around the castle.

      The ruin is on South Dublin County Council’s list of protected structures where it is described as a ‘tower house’.

      I hope this is of some help to you.

  2. I think I'm on to something regarding this Castle Sinead. I will be making a visit next week and keep you posted

  3. Hi Sinead. Found the Castle you mentioned keep an eye out on next post for more info

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