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  • Writer's pictureHugh MacMahon

Local Surprises!

The short days of winter limit my exploration but they made up for it by encouraging me to look at the riches nearer home.

Within a 15-minute drive I have over a dozen intriguing historic sites that reveal aspects of the local countryside and heritage that I had never suspected.

Nearest is the Round Tower at Taghadoe. I had passed it many time, giving it only a hasty look.

Taghadoe comes from the Irish ‘Teach Tua’ (‘Teach’ pronounced ‘Tech’), the House of Tua. He was known as ‘Ultan the Silent’. During Lent he put a stone in his mouth so that he would not be tempted to speak.

Tua/Ultan died in 770 and is buried in nearby Clane along with his brother, Jotharnaise.

The Taghadoe community was never famous but it does have a Round Tower built around the 10th century. Whatever other roles they might have played, Round Towers were a status symbol and not every monastic settlement could claim one.

Today few passers-by stop to look at it but, close up, it is quite impressive and (they say) there is a well-worn head carved over the elevated doorway (I could not see it).

I checked on the word ‘Teach’. I had seen it elsewhere, like Timahoe, the ‘Teach of Mochua.’ Experts say it is a purely native term (not borrowed from Latin) used for a church or monastery. In the case of Taghadoe it seems to indicate short-term use than a permanent foundation.

Maybe Tua visited it occasionally from Clane and a monastery inspired by him was established there later?

What I like about places like Taghadoe is not just their stories but that they leave me with new evidence worth following up.

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