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Round Towers of Ireland

Edifices, sixty-two in number, varying in height from eighty to one hundred and twenty feet, which are found in various parts of Ireland. They are cylindrical in shape, with a single door eight or ten feet from the ground, and a small aperture near the top. The question of their origin and design has been a source of much perplexity to antiquaries. They have been supposed by Montmorency to have been intended as beacons; by Vallanecy, as receptacles of the sacred fire; by O'Brien, as temples for the worship of the sun and moon; and more recently, by Petrie, simply as bell-towers, and of very modern date.

This last theory has been adopted by many; while the more probable supposition is still maintained by others, that, whatever was their later appropriation, they were, in their origin, of a phallic character, in common with the towers of similar construction in the East. O'Brien's work on the Round Towers of Ireland, which was somewhat extravagant in its arguments and hypotheses, led some Freemasons to adopt, many years ago, the opinion that they were originally the places of a primitive Masonic initiation. But this theory is no longer maintained as tenable.

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