‘A fifth tower stood at Aghaviller, (probably Agha-oillir, field of the pilgrim) the lower part only remains; above the foundation it measured fifty feet round; beneath this, it has a circular base, projecting six inches, and fourteen inches high, resting on a square foundation; that at Kilree is built in the same way, as the others probably are: this tower is peculiar by having a door-way even with the ground, and apparently co-eval with the building; this door way is five feet one inch high, two feet nine inches wide at top, and from two to three feet wide at bottom: internal diameter of the building, eight feet ten inches, wall four feet thick, two courses remain for floors, and part of a third story with a small window: on the first, an old floor is remembered to have stood about forty years ago. The first story within, is twelve feet high; without, it is thirteen feet to the old door way, which this had, like others, opening to the first floor, but which has been modernly walled up. The tower stands twenty feet to the S. of the foundation of the old church and at the S. W. angle; it is built of siliceous breccia.’
From A Statistical Survey of the County of Kilkenny by William Tighe (1802)
‘The pillar tower is fifty-one feet in circumference at the base; hence the diameter is sixteen feet two inches. There are two doorways; one at the ground level, of cut stone, rectangular, with places for hanging-irons; a small bolt hole and a rabate are on the inside; it is five feet two inches high by two feet ten and a half inches wide and looks N.E. The other doorway, and in all probability the original one is about 13 feet up from the ground to the door-still. The higher and narrow that on one below, and looks north. A rectangular open, of dressed stone, is situated at about twenty-seven feet up; it may be three feet high by two wide; its aspect is S.S.W. The tower terminates a few feet above this open, begin only a dilapidated stump.’
From Transactions of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society (1855)
Although a number of authors have written about the ruins found at Aghaviller, County Kilkenny, much of the site’s history remains obscure, and even the origins of its name open to question. For example, in his 1856 Introduction to the Annals of the Four Masters, John O’Donovan is scathing about Tighe’s earlier suggestion that the place’s name derived from the Irish meaning Field of the Pilgrim, declaring this to be ‘a mere silly guess by one who had no acquaintance with the Irish annals or Irish literature, and who indulged in those wild etymological conjectures which characterize the Irish antiquaries of the previous century.’ (O’Donovan instead insisted that the Irish name meant ‘Field of the Watercresses’). Even the origin of the religious foundation here continue to be uncertain. The church was dedicated to St Brénainn (that is, St Brendan of Birr, rather than the more famous St Brendan of Clonfert) and dates from the 12th century, although it underwent modifications in the 15th century when a substantial tower, serving as residence for the clerics, was built over the chancel: the latter survives but only the foundations of the nave can be seen. The round tower adjacent is notable both for being truncated and for being set on a square stone plinth. A quiet spot less well know or visited than many other such sites in the county.