Cloyne campaign to restore access to 1,000-year-old tower

Residents living near a spectacular 1,000-year-old round tower said to be one of the finest of its kind in the country — but closed to the public for the past 30 years —are to launch a campaign to raise money to refurbish it and reopen it.

Rory Allen, member of the Cloyne Round Tower Restoration Committee, near the tower in Cloyne. Picture: Denis Minihane.

As the stonework in the 105-foot-high tower in the east Cork village of Cloyne is superb, it doesn’t need any work, despite the fact the monument dates from 900AD.

All that’s required is to replace the six internal wooden staircases linking each of the tower’s six floors, says campaigner Rory Allen.

Mr Allen, who is a resident of the area and a member of the Cloyne Round Tower Restoration Committee, says the estimated cost of the work is in the region of €60,000.

Cloyne, which is probably one of the oldest settlements in east Cork, is believed to date from the monastery founded by St Colman before 600AD.

Raided at least three times by the Vikings, the monastery recovered sufficiently to undertake a massive project around the year 900AD — the round tower.

“We believe it is the finest example of a round tower in Ireland,” said Mr Allen, a founder of the multi-purpose 17th-century restored Grainstore venue at the family-run Ballymaloe House.

The idea of restoring the tower had been on his mind for many years, he said.

The committee is planning to apply for grant aid to help with the cost of the staircase restoration.

“It is a magnificent monument, but the timber stairways inside have rotted and need to be replaced.

“However, no stonework is required because it is so well built,” he said.

The round tower in Cloyne is considered one of the finest in the country. Picture: Daniel Callery

Mr Allen feels there is a great deal of support locally for replacing the stairs.

“I have had people offering to donate funds to the effort,” he said.

The six-person committee driving the project plans to launch a website about the campaign in the near future and the campaign will be officially launched in the new year, although proceeds from a successful music festival in Cloyne Cathedral last September were donated to the Round Tower Restoration Fund.

“The tower is a very important local landmark. It is a spectacular building and a perfect example of the sort of priceless monument that the Ancient East tourism campaign is all about,” said Mr Allen.

“It could be a wonderful amenity for people involved in tourism, as a must-see monument for visitors who would also be able to visit Cloyne Cathedral which also boasts a fascinating history.”


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