The Disqualified Round Towers of Ireland

Glasnevin (Co. Dublin) – visited 9 August 1998

The tower erected in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin, in 1869 as a memorial to Daniel O`Connell is the best known nineteenth-century imitation of a round tower. Petrie was consulted about the design and submitted a scheme for a group of buildings, comprising a mausoleum church of early style, a high cross opposite of its west doorway and a round tower 15ft (4.57) to the south of it, 31m high and of 4.57m base diameter. The committee rejected this and he withdrew. In its place they built a tower alone on a much more massive scale. It is 52m high and 24.40m round the base, equivalent to 7.77m external diameter, and includes a crypt surrounded by a sunken path like a dry moat with burial vaults round the outer side. All this is in keeping with the theory so strongly contested by Petrie, that round towers were sepulchral monuments. The result is imposing but not a faithful reproduction of an ancient round tower. (B.)