Old Head Signal Tower

Old Head Signal Tower lies on a mound, south of the town of Kinsale, in County Cork in Ireland.

At the beginning of the 19th century Ireland feared a French invasion. So, in 1803, a plan was made to build signal towers all around the coast of Ireland. They had to spot an incoming fleet of invaders and through signals warn the government in Dublin. In 1804 and 1805 a total of 81 of these towers were built. All are situated on strategically high and often remote, exposed locations near the coast. They all had inter-visibility with their 'neighbors'. Signalling was done by means of flags and balls on a mast in front of the tower.

The towers themselves were used as quarters for the signalling crew (between 8 and 12 men), defendable against a small attacking force. Although there is some variation, mostly all the towers are of broadly similar construction: square, 2 (sometimes 3) storeys high, a flat roof with a parapet, an entrance door at 1st floor level, at the seaward side, machicolations at the landward side and above the entrance door, and fireplaces. Their exteriors were rendered or weather-slated for protection against the elements. There may also have been smaller ancillary structures at these sites, and at some sites the crew were growing some of their own food. The whole complex was usually enclosed by a wall or sloping bank for some extra protection.

After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, the threat of a French invasion diminished. This, together with the high maintenance costs, caused the abandonment of most of the weather-beaten towers.

In 2013, when I visited it for the first time, Old Head Signal Tower was still in fair condition and it was freely accessible. In 2015, when I visited again, the tower was rebuilt and there was a small exhibition about the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915, 18 km off the coast. It is accessible for a fee. You can get on top of the tower and have a nice view of Old Head Castle, a little bit further down to the headland.

The first set of pictures were taken during my first visit, the last four during my last visit. Although the rebuilding might have robbed the tower of its ruinous charm, I still liked it.


Gallery

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://www.castles.nl/old-head-signal#sigFreeIdcd595b7646

Old Head Signal Tower

Old Head Signal Tower lies on a mound, south of the town of Kinsale, in County Cork in Ireland.

At the beginning of the 19th century Ireland feared a French invasion. So, in 1803, a plan was made to build signal towers all around the coast of Ireland. They had to spot an incoming fleet of invaders and through signals warn the government in Dublin. In 1804 and 1805 a total of 81 of these towers were built. All are situated on strategically high and often remote, exposed locations near the coast. They all had inter-visibility with their 'neighbors'. Signalling was done by means of flags and balls on a mast in front of the tower.

The towers themselves were used as quarters for the signalling crew (between 8 and 12 men), defendable against a small attacking force. Although there is some variation, mostly all the towers are of broadly similar construction: square, 2 (sometimes 3) storeys high, a flat roof with a parapet, an entrance door at 1st floor level, at the seaward side, machicolations at the landward side and above the entrance door, and fireplaces. Their exteriors were rendered or weather-slated for protection against the elements. There may also have been smaller ancillary structures at these sites, and at some sites the crew were growing some of their own food. The whole complex was usually enclosed by a wall or sloping bank for some extra protection.

After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, the threat of a French invasion diminished. This, together with the high maintenance costs, caused the abandonment of most of the weather-beaten towers.

In 2013, when I visited it for the first time, Old Head Signal Tower was still in fair condition and it was freely accessible. In 2015, when I visited again, the tower was rebuilt and there was a small exhibition about the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915, 18 km off the coast. It is accessible for a fee. You can get on top of the tower and have a nice view of Old Head Castle, a little bit further down to the headland.

The first set of pictures were taken during my first visit, the last four during my last visit. Although the rebuilding might have robbed the tower of its ruinous charm, I still liked it.


Gallery

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://www.castles.nl/old-head-signal#sigFreeIdcd595b7646