Donaghmore Round Tower & Cemetery
Donaghmore Round Tower & Cemetery can be found in the village of Donaghmore, and contains the haunting remains of a medieval church, as well as an excellent example of an Irish round tower.
The church is said to be the remains of a monastery founded by St Patrick himself and personally handed over to St Cassanus, who took charge of it. This would date the church at being built in the 5th century. In actuality, the church ruins appear to be from a structure built in the 15th century, most likely on the remains of the original monastery buildings from a thousand years before. There is still a carved head in the ancient, original style as part of the bell tower wall, which may well have been recovered from St Patrick’s monastery.
Next to the ruins, standing nearly ninety feet high, is an almost complete example of an Irish round tower. Though missing its conical cap from the very top, this impressive structure is one of the better versions still standing and estimated to have been built sometime in the 9th or 10th centuries. The uses of these towers, of which around 120 are thought to have once dotted Ireland but now only about sixty remain standing, has still not been agreed upon.
Some say they were used as lookout towers against Viking raids and as defence posts for the monks to guard their holy relics. Others say they may just have been belfrys for the nearby churches, similar to the tall bell towers that cover the rest of Europe.