“Martello Towers in Ireland” PART III: A wind-up

Welcome back to the series of “Martello Towers in Ireland”. Have you read the first feature of the series which is about the famous James Joyce Tower and Museum? What about the second feature which talks about the enchanting Irish museum of Vintage Radio and Communications? If not, you can read them by clicking on the above links. 

The final feature of the series is not dedicated to any one specific Martello tower. In contrast, it will cover a wide range of Martello Towers which are now none less than amazing treasure houses. The Martello towers across Ireland were mainly constructed for defensive purposes for the fear of Napoleonic invasion. For several years, they served as the main defensive towers of the country. Many could not stand the ravages of time. As a result, many collapsed. Nevertheless, some are extant even today. However, not all towers have been preserved into Museums. While some can be rented as holiday homes, some are now privately owned. Furthermore, there are even some which can be accessed by hikers. Let’s find out about these treasure troves in detail. 

Martello Towers as cosy holiday homes

The Sutton Martello Tower (Source: Martello Tower Sutton)

Surprised?! Yes, you read it right. In Ireland, there is one Martello tower which you can literally “have to yourself” and enjoy a life-time experience.

The Location

The picturesque location (Source: Tony Murray Pix)

You can rent the tower as a short-term “self-catering accommodation” and witness the breath-taking 360 degree views of the Dublin Bay. It is the North Tower No.1, located on the north coastline of the Dublin Bay, at Red Rock, Sutton, a beautiful village close to the famous Howth Harbour. The location is easily accessible and takes 20 minutes to reach from the city centre of Dublin. The Sutton Martello Tower is a very famous accommodation spot for tourists. However, local holiday makers also prefer staying in this tower because it gets you close, really close to the sea! After a stay in this historical wonder, one is ought to take back memories worth cherishing forever.

The Amenities

The interior (Source: Martello Tower Sutton)

The original architecture of the tower is well-preserved so that the thirst of having a “historical experience” gets quenched. The 10 feet thick walls and the narrow original stone staircase maintains the historical design of the tower. One gets full access to the entire tower upon renting it. It comes with all sorts of modern and cosy amenities. To mention a few, jacuzzi bath & power shower, electric fire with an open fireplace, internet access, and a luxurious living space with a wine cellar ambience. The main perk is undoubtedly the magnificent view of the Dublin Bay from the balcony terrace of the living room. If one climbs up to the upper level, one can even witness an awesome 360 degree view of the Dublin Bay and all the surrounding areas. 

The Sutton Martello Tower can be rented at:

https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/8003265?source_impression_id=p3_1593359513_jnMcf9sIhs2Wf6mI&guests=1&adults=1

So, what are you waiting for? Quickly plan a stay in this bewildering place! The Sutton Martello Tower will undoubtedly give one an “out of this world” experience.

Martello Towers accessible to hikers

Will it be astonishing if I ask, “Have you ever heard about Achill Island?” I guess it won’t be! Who doesn’t know about the largest of the Irish isles, situated on the west coast of Ireland! But, if I ask you, “Did you know that there stands a Martello tower that is accessible to hikers”? I believe this will be a matter of astonishment for many!

The Location

Slievemore (Source: Tourism Pure Walking)

Yes, even today, a 205 years old Martello tower is extant in Achill Island, in County Mayo. The mountain of Slievemore (672 m), with all its dramatic views, is a major point of attraction for many hikers. Right on the slopes of the mountain, lies an abandoned village famous as the “Deserted Village”. Conventional belief is that the village is a remnant from An Gorta Mór or The Great Hunger of 1845-1849. While enjoying a beautiful hike here, one can come across a partially collapsed tower on the west of the “Deserted Village”. The ruined Napoleonic signal tower is accessible to the hikers. It is located right at the summit point of 194m on Achill Island.

What is so special about this tower?

This tower is unique because it is square, unlike the traditional round-shaped Martello towers. It is locally termed as the Gabhla Fhranca or the French Tower. An 1838 Ordnance Survey chart marked it as a Signal Tower. Hence, with a whole network of other towers, it was used for communications because of its strategic location with a view of the sea both to the south and north of the island. 

The remnants of the tower (Source: Tourism Pure Walking)

However, it is unfortunate that this unique tower was not preserved. Today, it is almost in its ruins. One can only get to witness the lower parts of the external walls and the remnants of the collapsed tower. But the landscape of the Mullet peninsula beyond, along with the Iniskea and Duvillaun islands to the south and the west, is breath-taking and is worth a climb of the Slievemore! 

What about visiting this amazing place soon as an ‘escape’ from city life to enjoy the relaxing walks and the stunning panoramic views?

 

Martello towers preserved as private residences

Today, many of the Irish Martello towers are standing high along the Irish coastline as private residences. Let us go through some of them!

Hick’s Tower

Hick’s Tower ( Source: Irish Martello Towers)

First and foremost, one of the very well-maintained privately owned towers is the Hick’s Tower (North Tower No.5). It derives the name from Mr. Frederick Hicks, an architect and the tower’s first owner, who restored the tower in 1910. Architectural modifications include a conical roof, castellated walls, and more windows.

Aughinish Tower

Aughinish Tower (Source: Wikipedia)

Another enchanting one is the Aughinish Tower located at Aughinish, County Clare. During the 1950s, the Aughinish locals used the tower for Ceilidh (a traditional Irish or Scottish gathering) and dancing, on special occasions like Christmas, Easter, and also local weddings. However, in 1960, Mr. Duffy from Limerick, bought the tower from the Land Commission. Later, around 1987, he sold the property to someone from Galway,  who is the current owner of the tower. Architectural modifications include a steel stairway to the outside of the tower. 

Portrane Tower

 

Portrane Tower (Irish Martello Towers)

The Portrane Martello Tower (North Tower No. 7) is located in Portrane, County Dublin. A large single stone storey conservatory and an entrance hall are the new architectural modifications. 

Portmarnock Tower

Portmarnock Tower (Irish Martello Towers)

The Portmarnock Martello Tower (North Tower No.4) is a very popular sight for anyone visiting the sandy beaches of the Velvet Strand. In 1923, the US Ambassador, Mr. Simpson, bought this tower as a holiday home. He built the circular conservatory on the top of the tower. Beginning from 1954, a new owner used the tower to accommodate staff of a nearby hotel. The current owner is Breda Nagle. Apart from the conservatory, other architectural modifications include increased space for the living room. 

Bullock Harbour Tower

Bullock Harbour Tower (Source: Irish Martello Towers)

Talking about the South Dublin Coast towers, the South No. 10 Martello Tower is now a large private housing complex. It is located at Bullock Harbour. 

Enoch Tower

 

Enoch Tower (Source: Killiney District Community Council)

Last but not the least is the South No.6 Killiney Beach Enoch Tower. At first glance, it seems like a two-storeyed conservatory, but closer inspection will reveal that the tower is a base for this structure. The site will soon become a residential abode. Upon completion, it will stand high as an impressive castle-type tower building on the Killiney beach. 

 

The Garnish Island Martello Tower

The enchanting view of the garden (Source: Flickr)

The Garnish Island (Ilnacullin Garinish), at the harbour of Glengarriff, Bantry Bay is one of the most breath-taking locations in South-west Ireland. One can visit this unique garden island by boarding on a ferry from the Glengarriff Pier. The well-designed garden is home to several exotic species. It also has a wonderful landscape.

 

The Tower (Source: Ireland Highlights)

However, one of the most crucial structures of the garden includes a Martello Tower. The original tower dating back to 1805 is standing high even today. If you are a nature-lover who has been bitten by a history bug, this is a must-visit place for you!

 

With this, the “Martello Towers in Ireland” series comes to a wind up. It is indeed amazing that many of the Irish Martello Towers are still standing today over more than 200 years. They are the symbols of Ireland’s rich history, culture, and heritage. 

The three features of the series have explored several Martello towers that are worth visiting. Be a literature enthusiast, be a history bug, be a hiker, be a cosy holiday maker, or a radio and communications fanatic, these amazing historical towers are the most apt venture for all. And every time, the biggest perk of visiting the Martello Towers will be the scenic beauty of the Irish coastline. Doesn’t it sound really exciting? 

 

Why don’t you add this up as one of your Irish summer bucket lists?

Get on started with the bag-packing and DO NOT forget to share with us your experience with these historical charms!

Hope you enjoyed the Series! 

Happy Reading!   

About the author

Shrinwanti Mistri

Shrinwanti Mistri is currently pursuing MSc in International Relations at The School of Politics and IR, University College Dublin. Her professional domain includes Policy Research and Advocacy. However, she has always had a passion for writing, and is grabbing this opportunity to reach out to the world through her write-ups.

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