Aughagower Round Tower & Church, Mayo, Ireland

The sleepy present-day village of Aughagower belies the fact that it was for a long time quite a large settlement right until the famine when its population was decimated; before the famine the population of Aughagower was 12,000, the census of 2002 gives the population as 875. Aughagower sits at the midpoint of Tóchar Phádraig, this route was formerly part of the royal processional way from Rathcrogan (the ancient capital of Connaught). It later became an important pilgrim path from Ballintubber Abbey to Croagh Patrick. St Patrick visited the settlement in the 5th century, however legend says that those original forts stood to the west of the village as it situated today. A monastery was founded here by a St Senach between the 5th and 7th century and was in existence until the 13th century. The earliest structure visible is the fantastic 16 metre leaning round tower that was built sometime between 973AD and 1013AD. The tower’s original entrance door is about 2.2metres above ground level however a lower entrance was added at a far later date. Local folklore states that in the 19th century the tower’s capstone was struck by lighting and was lifted half a mile away to the hill of Tavenish, the story goes that a local woman was said to have carried the heavy capstone in her apron to the modern church of Aughagower, where it remains to this day. The church that stands beside the tower was built in the 15th century using fragments of an earlier structure. It is unclear when the church fell into disrepair.

GPS: 53.76429, -9.46465

 

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