At a few feet distance from the
southwest angle of the Church is a ruined round tower about sixty
feet in height as it stands at present, and sixty
one feet in circumference at the height of five feet from the ground.
The southeast side is down to within twelve feet of the ground,
where the wall
is five feet thick, but diminishes there to the thickness of three
feet seven inches by a gradual taper from without and an abrupt
shift from within.
At the height of about thirty feet it diminishes from the outside abruptly
by about a foot.
The door is circular, placed in the northeast side at twelve feet
six inches from the ground, five feet ten inches high, two feet
ten wide at the springing of the arch, and three feet at bottom.
It is built up with finely cut stones resembling in workmanship
those of the choir arch in the Church and looking quite as fresh.
Two cut stones of the side of a window appear near the top on the
From what remains of this window, if my eye be right, it was built
in the pointed style, and the front angle of the stone cut away,
which I believe is not the case in buildings of the supposed antiquity
of the round towers of Ireland. There is a modern doorway open
in the west side near the ground.
Some (several) years ago, the interior of this tower was dug
up in search for money, but nothing was found except a good-sized
bell, a little cracked, which was carried away and placed in the
Church of Corofin, where it remained in use till about twenty years
back, when it was exchanged in Limerick for a larger and better
one. I have but very little doubt that this steeple was battered
down by Ireton’s artillery, sufficient evidence of which
remains on the shattered and shivered stones on the south side,
if I am not much mistaken.
It was built of large and small stones in somewhat irregular courses,
the mortar much whiter than that in others that I have seen. Without
assigning any particular reason for my opinion I think that neither the
Church nor the tower is as old as the time of Brian Boru, and that they
were built or rebuilt by O’Dea when he fixed his residence here.
A little to the east of the Church on the south side of the
old road, is the pedestal of a cross, the lower part built
of seven large cut
by another stone in which the cross stood.
The cross, which was a very fine one, stands in two pieces
on the east side of the pedestal, and appears to have been
originally formed out of two pieces of stone, as there is a
mortice in the top of the shaft for the reception of a tenon
from the upper part. The shaft is four feet ten inches high,
two feet wide at bottom, one foot eight at top, one foot three
inches thick at bottom and one foot one inch at top, having
the raised figure of a bishop stretching its whole length,
holding a Bachall in the left hand, and a square hole cut into
the body at the middle near the right side.
The top part stands near this, measuring four feet two inches in
height, three feet three across the arm, having a very rude representation
of the Crucifixion
with a moveable head inserted in the stone, on one side. All
of the Cross are handsomely sculptured, as are the north and
south sides of
On the north side of the square part of pedestal is the following
inscription, in plain characters: “This Cross was newly repaired by Michael O’Dea,
son of Connor Crone O’Dea, in the year 1683.”
This was the Michael O’Dea who erected the monument in the Church about
the same time. There is no remembrance of when or how the cross was removed from
its proper place and position. The people all about here call it Cross-Bhánála,
i.e., Bánála’s Cross, and believe that Bánála,
who they think was a woman, was the Patron Saint of this Parish, but it is easy
to see how this mistake grew up with the corruption of the name. They have a
habit of distinguishing objects and places by their colours, as Boirni-bhan-an
Aolmhaighe, White Limy Burren; Teampull-Dubh-na-h-Eidhnighe, the Black Church
of Eidhneach; Crosa-Geala-Chillfhionnabhrach, the White Crosses of Killfenora;
and in the present instance, Cros-Bhán-Thola, i.e., the White Cross of
Tola, which subsequently was corrupted into one word thus, Cros Bhanola, which
was further altered into Bánála, and supposed to express the name
of the foundress of the Church. There was no person in the Parish to whom I explained
the progress of this corruption who did not believe it to be the truth and acknowledge
that doubts were always entertained in the Parish on the same subject, as the
name of Bánála could not be found among any of the works
on the Irish Saints. It is curious to find, however, that the Disert
Westmeath is called by the natives Diseart-Aivla.