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Turlough Round Tower stands test of time

For those of us of a certain age, the drive between Ballina and Castlebar through pretty Turlough Village was made all the more interesting by the view of Turlough Round Tower rising over the Mayo countryside.

Stories about invading Vikings and monks, and villagers taking refuge in the round tower, while carrying their manuscripts and valuables, fed our young imaginations and brought history to life.

However, since the opening of the N5, Turlough Round Tower is barely visible from the main road and I often think that generations of Mayo children are missing out on a simple way of discovering such an important part of their heritage.

Located a short distance from the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Round Tower is set in a cemetery and alongside church ruins, dating from the 1700s.

Those who constructed Ireland’s round towers were true craftsmen and their workmanship has stood the test of time.

Over the years, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has carried out some minor renovation work as part of their brief to preserve Ireland’s heritage sites.

Turlough Round Tower is just over 22 meters in height and the blocked doorway, located approximately four meters above the ground, was to prevent invaders from gaining access.

So whenever I visit the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, I usually take the circuitous route – by diverting off the Pontoon to Castlebar road (R310) – along the L1717, through pretty Parke Village, and by the ancient Round Tower at Turlough.

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.

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