Killala Round Tower & St. Patrick's Cathedral - Visit North Mayo

The town of Killala was for centuries the ecclesiastical hub of North Mayo. It is a town rich in ecclesial heritage and monuments.

Killala Round Tower

Killala is synonymous with it’s Round Tower. The Round Tower in Killala is one of five to be found in County Mayo (the other four are Aghagower, Balla, Meelick and Turlough)

The monastic settlement in Killala is thought to date to the 5th Century when St. Patrick is said to have appointed Muiredach as the first Bishop of Killala.

Aerial view of Killala, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Aerial view of Killala, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Photo: Suas Drones

Thought to have been built in the 12th Century the tower stands at 25 ½ metres (83.6 feet) standing on a 1 metre (3.2 feet) plinth comprised of 20 large stones. The round tower was built out of large stones of limestone.

About halfway up the drum of the tower, is a noticeable bulge in the stonework.

Reports in 1779 mention a damaged roof and damage midway up the tower from lightning. James Verschoyle (1747-1834) Church of Ireland Bishop of Killala and Achonry began the restoration process.

The Office of Public Works (established 1831) did some repair work in 1841. The cap and wall were repaired at this time.

The doorway is 3.4 metres (11 feet ) above the ground.

Did you know: The Irish for Round Tower is ‘cloigtheach’ which translates into English as ‘bell house’ which suggests that one function of Round Towers was perhaps a belfry.

The Cathedral Church of St. Patrick

Less than a minute’s walk down Steeple Hill and across Church Street you will find the Cathedral Church (Church of Ireland) of St. Patrick. The Cathedral Church of St Patrick, Killala, is one of Ireland’s smallest cathedrals but also one of its oldest with the building dating to the 1670s. It is a Gothic type building.

It’s thought that the cathedral’s existing south doorway (now blocked) may have been part of the earlier church. A tower, spire and vestry were added to the building in 1817.

Located within the cemetery located to the rear of the cathedral the entrance point to the Killala souterrain (an underground structure) can be found. It’s thought the souterrain dates to the 9th Century. You may read about archaeological excavations here.

Headstones located within the cemetery can be viewed here.

St. Patrick’s Church

The Roman Catholic Church in Killala is also dedicated to St. Patrick.