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Irish Round Towers

1 IntroductIon The round towers of Ireland are by far the largest relics of the ancient Irish church. Some are over thirty metres tall. They were always built as part of monastic sites, and while some still dominate the landscape around the greatest ancient Irish monasteries, others now stand completely alone, as all other traces of the monasteries that built them have vanished. They are as pure an expression of geometry as architecture can offer, their slim stone and mortar cylindrical bodies topped with conical stone cap roofs. Usually they are freestanding, though a few are incorporated into churches, in particular at two of the most important of all Irish monastic sites, Glendalough and Clonmacnoise. Interestingly, the Irish for a round tower is a clog teach, a bell house, and the plural is clog tigh. These towers are extremely enigmatic. The Irish built on a modest architectural scale, and its churches are normally very small indeed. Why then should so many monasteries have built such impressively tall towers This book will try to give some answers to these puzzles, and even pose a few more questions. Glenarm, Co. Antrim
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