The Round Tower

The round tower at Clones would have originally stood at almost 23 metres in height, including the conical cap, which is now sadly missing.

The tower was built from sandstone and looks as though it may have been an early tower probably built around the 10 century. There were four storeys including the bell storey. There is a single window on each storey in the drum except for the bell-storey which had the usual four windows, one at each cardinal points on the compass. In Irish the round towers are known as Cloigteach literally meaning bell house. Also in St Tierney's graveyard are some interesting grave slabs and the wonderful tomb shrine of St Tighernach (Tierney).

There is a visible offset, approximately 20 cm high and 12 cm wide on the south west base of the tower, outside the graveyard wall near a viewing walkway. The tower is 15.4 m at the lowest point that it can be accurately measured, due to the bisecting walls. Height is just under 22.9 meters from the offset. The east-facing doorway is 1.64 meters above the present cemetery level and 2.12 m above the offset. Small lintelled windows face - in ascending order - S, N and E with the traditional four bell-storey windows at the cardinal compass points.

While this is a nice enough round tower at virtually it's full height, of more interest are the headstones in the well-maintained cemetery - many from the17th and mid 18th century. They feature rounded crosses with skulls and crossed bones and coffins, hour glasses and bells; all symbols of mortality. Some feature the well carved coats of arms of early prominent citizens.

The monastery at Clones was founded by St. Tighernach who died in the mid sixth century. The Annals record the destruction of "all it's churches" in 836, but there is no mention of the round tower. Getty did an excavation in the 1840's below the debris-filled sill level of the tower. The results were inconclusive, as human bones that were found at the extreme lowest level (below the level of the external offset) could have come from either a burial ground that the tower was built upon or from graveyard debris used as infilling.
Other Items of Interest: Along with the early headstones in the churchyard is the Shrine of St. Tighernach. It is carved in the shape of a house complete with finials from a single stone. One of the gables features a figure St. Tighernach with outstretched arms. Not far from the graveyard where the round tower stands, is another churchyard containing "the Abbey". It is the ruin of a 12th century nave and chancel church and the graveyard also contains early headstones.