Of the three non-island round towers in Co. Clare, the one in Kilnaboy has suffered the most over the centuries. The other two at Dysert O’Dea and Drumcliff, whilst ruined, still look like they were once towers. Kilnaboy is little more than a stub these days.
The tower stands in the grounds of a ruined church in the village of Kilnaboy. The church has a couple of noteworthy features but more about those in a moment. Unusually, the foundation of the monastery here is attributed to a woman. Killinaboy – is an angliciation of the Irish Cill Iníne Baoithe or “Church of the Daughter of Baoithe”. There’s a question mark over who this daughter might have been, with one suggestion being that she dates back much further than the monastery. Another is that she was a member of a wealthy family and that a clan chief allowed her to build her monastery here in the 6th century.
The tower has been this short for quite a long time. It has been said that the tower served as a lookout post until it was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s forces around 1650. Whether the story is true or not, all that remains now is a stub 3.6m high. Brian Lalor’s book describes the tower as being severely neglected in the 1990s, covered with ivy and filled with debris. The tower looks like it is being better maintained these days, which gives you a better look at what remains. The tower is made from limestone blocks but in comparison to others, it has a rough and ready feel to it.
The ruined church, which was built afterwards, has a couple of interesting features worth noting. The gable end facing the road has a double-barred cross integrated into it. This is generally known as a “Cross of Lorraine”.
Over the doorway into the church is a somewhat worn Sheela-Na-Gig. Googling this particular one led me to a site which documents numerous Sheelas around Ireland. It made me chuckle so I recommend it heartily 🙂
While there isn’t much to keep a visitor here, it’s worth a visit. The information board in the nearby car park details other places of interest in the area and they might be worth investigating
This is a site which is easy to find and doesn’t involve hair-raising rural roads. Close to Kilnaboy, it’s on top of a hill and there are some car parking spaces near the steps up to it.
Tower Visit: 18th September 2020