Near the village of Timahoe, in a broad fertile valley in County Laois, stands the Timahoe Round Tower, a stunning example of 12th century carved stonework. The Romanesque style carvings of human heads, with flowing beards and moustaches, decorate the main entrance, about five metres from the ground. It remains unclear why the monks at Timahoe put so much time into carving such a beautiful doorway with smaller carvings decorating a second storey window.
The round tower was built on the site of a religious community founded by Saint Mochua, a 7th century warrior who converted to Christianity. The tower rises almost 30 metres high and is more than 17 metres wide at its base, with walls that are nearly 2 metres thick. Inside there are five different floors, all of which were reached by ladders.
The tower stands in a picturesque setting, near a footbridge that crosses the Bauteogue River. Nearby, a former Church of Ireland building is now used as a community facility, while a ruined 17th century castle contains elements from a 15th century church.
Mochua's Desk, a sculpture commissioned by a local primary school, depicts Saint Mochua and his three pets in a famous story about the saint. It tells the story of the rooster who woke him, the mouse who nibbled his ear if he fell asleep while praying, and the fly that landed on the word in a prayer book at which Mochua paused.
The surrounding parklands provide space for a lovely family picnic and walks in nice weather. Or visit the coffee shop, The Tower and Bean, on weekends in the Heritage Centre on site.
- A prime example of a 12th century round tower known for its exceptional Romanesque carvings.
- Set in peaceful parklands with space for walks and picnics, with a playground.