Lonely Planet Writer

Ireland's tallest round tower reopens to the public after 47 years

Ireland’s tallest round tower has reopened to the public, 47 years after it was damaged and forced to close. The O’Connell Tower at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin was built in 1855 to commemorate the late Irish political leader, Daniel O’Connell, and it will now offer self-guided tours to visitors.

The O’Connell Tower, Ireland’s tallest round tower, has re-opened to the public. Image: Glasnevin Trust

It was once one of Ireland’s greatest attractions, but the 55m tower was closed to the public in 1971 after a large bomb exploded at its base, causing structural damage and destroying the interior staircase. Work to restore the staircase began in 2016, and it has now been completed using the original plans and methods employed by the workers in the 1800s. You need to have a level of fitness to climb it as there are 198 steps from base to summit, but once you get to the top, you can see views of Dublin, Meath, Wicklow and the Irish Sea.

The new staircase at the O’Connell Tower, Ireland’s tallest round tower. Image: Glasnevin Trust

According to O’Connell’s dying wish, his heart was buried in Rome and the remainder of his body in Dublin. Work began on the tower in 1854 under the guidance of architect Patrick Byrne, seven years after O’Connell died in 1847 and his body reposes underneath it. Hundreds of skilled tradesmen and labourers worked for over 16 months to construct the tower, which has a seven-foot-high cross at the top that is cut from one piece of solid granite. Visitors can avail of a new self-guided tour, which comprises a series of information panels detailing the life of Daniel O’Connell and the history of the tower.

Daniel O’Connell is buried beneath the O’Connell Tower at Glasnevin Cemetery. Image: Glasnevin Trust

Tours of the tower run daily from 1pm to 3pm. Tickets for adults are €12 and can be purchased here.