The Round Tower at Glendalough stands 100 feet high and is one of Ireland’s most iconic buildings. Round towers were mainly built between the 9th and 12th centuries and only 3 exist beyond our borders (one on the Isle of Man and two in Scotland). The Irish word ‘cloicthech’ translates to mean ‘bell house’ so this indicates that their function was like an Italian campanile or an Islamic minaret for calling the faithful to prayer. The common belief is that they were designed as places of refuge from Viking raiders (which is probably partly true) however their foundations were usually no more than 4 or 5 feet deep so the doorways had to be placed 10-15 feet above ground level to stop the towers from collapsing. In the late 1800s this tower was struck by lightning and split down the centre. When the repairs were being carried out by a local man (Sam Kennedy) it was said that ‘he danced a hornpipe around the rim of the tower’. There’s always one in a village! (R)