Oughterard Round Tower and Church, Kildare, Ireland

An absolute downpour greeted me as I arrived at this site, but the misty early afternoon light added to the rain and gave the perfect backdrop to this beautiful place.The walkway up to the site would kick even the most soggy heart into life as the tower and church come into view through the trees. This beautifully preserved site was originally founded by St Bridget circa 605 AD(not the more well known Kildare Town related Saint) and named Oughterard (in Irish Uachtar Ard) which translates as ‘A High Place’ . The round tower which stands around 9.5 metres in height dates from approximately the 8th century and is the only remnant of the original monastery/convent. The round tower and monastery were destroyed in 995AD by Vikings led by Sigtrygg Silkbeard. The church on the grounds has recently been dated to around 1350 AD and truly is a sight to behold. Half of the building is collapsed but the rest is still roofed and a large stairway leads up to the top of the building. The stairway is actually coming away from the main building but has been supported with buttresses, its  amazing the slippy, slanted stairs haven’t been blocked off yet. Writings suggest that the chapel ceased to be in use by 1620 but it is hard to ascertain if it was used after this time as some of the burials on the site suggest so. I didn’t know until after visiting that Arthur Guinness is apparently buried here (his grave is in the chapel), also in an adjoining field Daniel O’ Connell took part in a pistol duel! He was challenged to the duel by a John D’Esterre on February 1st 1815, D’Eseterre was an ardent conservative and was angered when O’ Connell critcised a Dublin Corporation provision for the poor as ‘beggardly’. D’Esterre died from his wounds sustained in the duel.

GPS: 53.27796, -6.56531

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