The Tower of Timahoe

On the “dual carriageway” toward Timahoe

The lush green expanses of Ireland’s Midlands

Two curious sources of that wonderfully rich Irish butter

(May 10, 2017) Built around the year 1100, the Timahoe Tower is considered one of the best of the remaining round towers of Ireland, and the carvings on the stone doorway rank this as the most “elegant” tower. It was constructed by monks on the site of a monastery founded by St. Mochua in about 600, whose buildings have all now disappeared. The elaborate Tower entrance is nearly 20 feet from the ground, with a Romanesque carved stone surround featuring heads on each capital with flowing beards and moustaches intertwined, and several rows of carved decoration. The round roof was restored in the last century, but the Tower itself remains just as it was built.

First view, Timahoe Tower

Crossing the Bauteogue River to the site

The top of the Tower

At nearly 100 feet in height, the Tower was a landmark for travelers searching for the monastery. Bells would call the monks to prayer, and signal when the monastery was under attack. When the alarm sounded, monks would grab the treasures of the monastery and rush to the Tower. Once the outside ladder was drawn inside and the door was bolted, the 6-foot thick stone walls kept them safe inside.

The famous Romanesque doorway, difficult to construct in a flat wall and nearly impossible in a round one

A former Church of Ireland remains beside the Tower, now used as a library, museum and historical archive, and ruins of both a 15th century castle and 17th century church are at the base of the Tower, also.

The Church of Ireland, now a library and archives

Window detail of the Church of Ireland

Front door, Church of Ireland

View of Tower and Church from the graveyard

I spent a moment talking to two mothers collecting their kids from the playground across the street (Timahoe has less than 600 residents), who brought their children over and gave me a tour, explaining the history of the Tower and the remaining church. In the pathway in front of the church is a bronze sculpture commissioned by the children of the parish school, called “Mochua’s Desk.” It depicts the three pets in a story about the saint: the rooster who woke him each day; the mouse who nibbled his ear if he fell asleep during prayer; and the fly that sat on the last word in the Bible that Mochua had read before falling asleep.

Slide in the playground across the street–a tower for the kids

Monument to the memory of St. Mochua, “Mochua’s Desk”

The fabled pets of St. Mochua

The best part of my visit was the enthusiasm of the two mothers for their local history, and their pride in the children’s tribute to the pets of St. Mochua. I am always met with smiles and kindness, at every stop in Ireland, and was soon back on the roadway to my hotel.

Returning to end the day in Portlaoise

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