Turlough Abbey & Round Tower, Mayo, Ireland

Turlough Abbey is home to a 9th century round tower and a much later 17th or 18th century church, though it does incorporate a 16th century mullioned window and three crucifixion plaques, one dated 1625. Of the original abbey nothing remains and its history is also distinctly scant. It is believed an abbey was founded here by St Patrick in 441 under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Armagh, its close proximity to Croagh Patrick must also be taken into consideration when understanding its real or imagined enduring links to St Patrick.

The earliest surviving building is the early 9th century round tower, unusual in its short and squat stature, its conical cap was replaced in 1880. An abbey certainly existed at the site in 1302 as it was valued in the ecclesiastical taxation of Ireland. The abbey remained prominent due to its association with St Patrick and led to a long ownership quarrel between the Archbishops of Armagh and Tuam, a dispute that led to the Pope intervening and authorising for the abbey to pass to the Archbishop of Tuam. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries it passed into the hands of the Bourke’s who in turn lost the lands after the Battle of Aughrim and were subsequently passed to John Fitzgerald from Kilkenny in 1653. The Fitzgerald family financed the building of the current church in the late 17th or early 18th century, I am unclear when the church fell into ruin.

GPS: 53.88872, -9.20834

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