Standing tall above the soil of Mayo are five Round Towers, situated at Aughagower, Balla, Killala, Meelick and Turlough. These enigmatic monuments were built between the 9th and 12th centuries and all were associated with ecclesiastical sites.
There is some speculation that, because the doorways are set several feet above ground level, the towers were intended as places of refuge in times of trouble. Others speculate that they might be bell-towers from where the faithful were called to prayer by the ringing of a bell, or watch-towers from which residents were warned of the approach of raiders.
The Round Towers range in height from approximately 20 metres to 40 metres. The doorways can be round-headed (Romanesque) or lintelled while the windows are small and set high in the building. The interior of the towers was divided into several floors, each one reached by climbing a ladder inside the building. The roof was conical in shape.
Whatever their former uses, the towers now stand as impressive and imposing monuments in the landscape, occasionally lit up at times of celebration to remind of Mayo’s heritage.
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