St. Mullins in rural Carlow is one of those sites where there’s very little round tower to be seen. Yet, it is still somewhere worth visiting if you’re interested in crumbly old ruins. There is plenty more to see besides the stump of the round tower in this pretty location.
The original monastery was founded by St. Moling who was Bishop of Ferns in the 7th century. He died in 696. He may have been descended from a King of Leinster, though a lot of his back story sounds more like mythology than fact. Before establishing the monastery here, he was a monk in Glendalough. The Venerable Bede, an Anglo-Saxon scholar, referred to him as “”good and wise man, excellently versed in the knowledge of the Scriptures”. The 8th Century Book of Mulling (now digitized and available online) was possibly written here. It has been speculated that it is a copy of an earlier book. Possibly even one dating back to St. Moling’s time.
The round tower (or what’s left of it) is built from granite. It now stands just 1 metre in height, with five courses of masonry. The church it stands beside was built at a later date. While it goes without saying that it is a real shame the tower has all but disappeared, its stump does give a good idea of how these towers were constructed.
The roads to St. Mullins won’t win any prizes for wideness or straightness. It is easy to find though and there’s plenty of room to park. It is something of a popular local beauty spot so there are public toilets close to the graveyard and a cafe beside the nearby river.
Vital Tower Stats
Diameter at Base: 5.1m
Height at Door-Sill: Unknown
Suggested Date: 12th Century
Stats from The Irish Round Tower: Origins and Architecture Explored by Brian Lalor
Published by Collins Press, Cork (2005)
ISBN 10: 1903464773 ISBN 13: 9781903464779
Visit date: 5th March 2020