The Round Towers of Ireland are remarkable among the world’s ancient monuments in that whilst they make a bold historical and cultural statement, they were built with a very practical use in mind.
The Irish Round Towers were used between the 10th and 12th Centuries as bell towers and hiding places in the time of the Viking invasions.
The Towers were designed to protect so they were usually a good height – typically, between 50 and 150 feet high. The only access was through a narrow doorway, situated high on the tower wall, which was reached by a ladder. Irish Round Towers are hand-crafted in native stone and cemented with sand, lime, horsehair and oxblood mortar – a technique imported from Roman Britain. More than 100 Round Towers were built in Ireland and 65 survive in various states of repair.
One Tower from each of the four provinces of Northern Ireland is featured in the collection: Glendalough, Co. Wicklow (Leinster), Ardmore, Co. Waterford (Munster), Kilmacduagh, Co. Galway (Connaught) and Clones, Co. Monaghan (Ulster)
2005 was the 75th anniversary of the Monuments of Ireland Act, and to commemorate this it is only proper that the Round Towers of Ireland should feature as part of the Ireland Series issued that year.