The Round tower in Roscrea is the oldest monument in the town itself and dates from the 10th century. It is thought to have been built because of the Battle of Roscrea. It now stands at 60 feet high but was originally over 80 feet. The top of the tower was shot of by cannon fire in 1798 when one of the rebels fired at a sentry from the tower down into the barracks. Up until 1812 the tower was being used as a belfry. In 1815 the tower was inhabited by the Scully family, whose duty was to raise the Orange flag on the 12th of July every year until the Government put a stop to it.
One of the most notable features of the tower are the carvings in the side of the east window. Cleary visible is a carving of a one-masted ship and what appears to represent an axe is beside it. On the opposite side of the window there is an image of a belted cross. Nobody knows the reason for these carvings as they appear to have been carved before the construction of the tower. It is strange that a land locked town in the midlands would have one of the few early carvings of ships.
From Roscrea Heritage: St.Cronan’s Cathedral Church “Today, the main road cuts the early monastery of St Cronan in two, isolating the Round Tower from the cathedral church and the site of the High Cross.
These stone buildings are relics of the 12th century efforts by Roscrea to retain its independent bishopric, the Diocese of Ros Cré. The Romanesque gable is all that remains of the twelfth century Cathedral church. The once beautiful sandstone gable is now very badly weathered from pollution and age. Its main composition of tangent gable, blind arcades, ecclesiastical figure over the three-ordered doorway, and the rosettes all echo the Romanesque work at Cormac’s Chapel in Cashel. The remainder of the Roscrea church was demolished in 1812 to make way and allow the stone to be re-utilised in the building of the ‘new’ St Cronan’s Church of Ireland parish church in 1812. Because of its great beauty the gable was allow to remain standing. The twelfth century High Cross with its ‘clothed’ Christ and shaft figures is distinctive and memorable.”