Welcome to Ballyduff

The Black Village
Rattoo Round Tower, North Kerry, Ballyduff Rattoo Round Tower, North Kerry, Ballyduff. ©Noel O' Connor Rattoo Round Tower, North Kerry, Ballyduff

Rattoo Round Tower & Museum

Rattoo Round Tower

Ballyduff village is nestled in the heart of rural North Kerry between the seaside resort of Ballybunion and Ballyheigue. It is home to the Rattoo Round Tower, one of Ireland’s finest examples of round tower dating from the 10th century. The Tower stands on the grounds of an ancient monastery. It’s thought to have been founded by Bishop Lughach, one of the first Christian evangelists in County Kerry.

Additionally, the site boasts the ruins of a 15th-century church. Rattoo is probably the most historic site in the parish of Ballyduff, as well as an old graveyard, the remains of an abbey and a Great House. It is located 2 miles from the village on the Ladies Walk.

The Tower is 90ft tall and has a basement and 5 floors. It has 5 windows. One window on the fourth floor, and four windows on the top floor facing North, South, East and West. In Round Towers, these windows were used by the Monks for a safety procedure. There was also a bell on the top of the tower, which the monks rang to warn the monastery and the locals to hide in the tower in times of danger.

Unique Features of Rattoo Round Tower

Rattoo Round Tower has two unique features which are not found on any other tower in Ireland:

Sheelah-na-gig: Sheela-na-gig is an ugly, explicit carving that was used as a protective symbol. It is the only example found in an Irish round tower.
This figure is carved inside the north facing window of the tower. Some believe it was engraved to protect the tower. Others say that women would rub the image when they wanted to have a baby!

Curvillinear Carving: This carving can be seen above the entrance doorway to the tower.

Rattoo North Kerry Museum

Located in the village of Ballyduff, the North Kerry Museum is part of the Rattoo Heritage Society founded in 1990.  Today the museum has over one thousand exhibits dating from antiquity to present times covering the history of the area throughout the ages.  Some of the topics the museum focuses on are industries of the past, old farming methods, smuggling and piracy, and landlords and land wars.