Kilree Round Tower is to be found in a field, about 15km south of Kilkenny city. It can’t always be seen from the road because it is surrounded by lots of trees but there is a fine tower here. All that remains of the original monastic settlement is the tower, some church ruins and a high cross in the field it.
Because of all the trees, it’s difficult to take photographs of the tower from anywhere apart from the field behind the churchyard. Still, it is well worth hopping over the wall and into the field because there is a nice high cross to be found there. When I visited the site in 2008, I shared the field with some Friesian cattle who grazed peacefully and weren’t particularly interested in me. Another website warns of a bull being in the field so be careful if you decide to visit.
Very little is known about the monastic site. A St. Rhuidche is connected with it but it isn’t known when he lived here. The lands belonged to the Dean of Ossory until the 13th century and were then handed over to the nearby Priory of Kells.
The tower has battlements on the top rather than a cap and some of the windows look like they’ve seen better days. The doorway is still in good condition though. Better still, because the graveyard is higher off the ground than the field below, you can get a closer look at the doorway.
The tower has an unusual plinth at its base, which can be better seen from the field behind. The tower at nearby Aghaviller has the same sort of plinth. This may mean that the same master mason worked on both towers.
The high cross out in the field is thought to date from the 9th century. It is badly worn but there are a couple of biblical scenes on it. It has a tenon joint on the top, which makes it likely it once had a capstone.
And there you have it really. It’s not one of the must-visit round tower sites out there but it’s worth a trip if you happen to be visiting the nearby Kells Priory
There’s some country road driving involved here but the tower is easy enough to find. There are a couple of parking spots across the road from the entrance gate into the field. Link
Date of visit: 15th May 2008