Pillar Tower at Kenith, County Cork

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter I-2 | Start of chapter

At Kenith, near Dunmanway, is another pillar-tower, which differs in several remarkable particulars from buildings of the same class to be seen in other parts of Ireland. It consists of six stories, each eleven feet nine inches in height: the basement story is a perfect hexagon, but above this the tower is quite round. A tradition is current that this tower was built about the year 1015, by St. Mocholomog, soon after the celebrated battle of Clontarf. Smith, the historian of Cork, cites a passage in support of this opinion from an ancient MS., to which he does not assign any date. It is worthy of remark, however, that this particular tower, which differs in an important architectural feature from all the other pillar-towers of Ireland, whose antiquity is so great that even tradition is silent respecting their use and origin, should be the only one to which such a story is attached. I will not, however, go deeper into the perplexing subject of the Round Towers at present, as I shall have occasion to notice some of these singular buildings in their proper places in the course of my tour. The relics of ancient castles in the county of Cork are numerous and interesting; exhibiting every style of architecture employed between the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion and the period of the Revolution, when fortified dwellings began to fall into disuse amongst the nobility and gentry throughout the kingdom. Their modern residences generally evince considerable architectural taste, and the greater number of them are placed in exceedingly beautiful situations.