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Irish Round Towers

17 16 cashel of the bishopkings In the late fourth century the Eghanachta dynasty established their royal fortress on this rock. They possibly came from Wales, where Irish colonies were being forced out under Welsh pressure, but in consequence they had contact with the Roman world and therefore called their fortress a castellum Cashel. Until the 10th century this dynasty were the overkings of Munster. Tradition says that St Patrick came here and baptized the reigning king, and at least four kings were also bishops or abbots. Brian Boru made himself king of Cashel in about 978, and his descendant gave Cashel to the archbishop of Munster in 1101. The astonishing Romanesque cathedral, built by Cormac MacCarthy, King of Desmond, was superseded by the great Gothic cathedral beside it in the 13th century. The tower is probably 11th century, though the Eghannachta kingbishop Cormac MacCuilleannain died 908 has been suggested as its builder. It is the earliest surviving structure on Cashel, and as its doorway looks towards Cormacs north porch an earlier church may well have stood here. The round arched doorway has seven irregular voussoirs, with a plain raised moulding running round the door. The tower is built from well cut and dressed local sandstone blocks, with square headed windows for the lower floors and triangularheaded ones on the top floor, which are approximately oriented to the cardinal points.
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