Saturday 24 March 2018

When is a Martello Tower not a Martello Tower?

The Martello Tower at Millmount...or is it?
The Martello Tower at Millmount...or is it?

I'VE BEEN left intrigued and somewhat confused by an 'Errata' at the end of the latest Old Drogheda Society Journal 2013.

From what I can see, there's a claim that the famous Martello Tower at Millmount – which has been written about for a couple of centuries at this stage – is not actually a Martello Tower!

I hope the legion of tourists and tourism bodies who come to this area don't find out!

The issue seems to stem from a previous article in a 2012 production – which I had to get my hands on – by Noel Bailey, the expert guide out at Beaulieu House.

He wrote about the Millmount Cannons and how they came to Drogheda, indeed one was named after him.

In that story, he apparently remarked that the tower at Millmount was a Martello – built, as widely claimed by many historians, to protect against a Napoleonic invasion. The 'Martello' part was taken out.

Noel Bailey originally wrote in relation to the cannons: 'They were installed to protect the town and its environs in anticipation of a possible Napoleonic invasion' – but it was changed to 'the excuse for installing the cannons was supposedly to defend against a possible invasion by Napoleon's forces but since neither cannon is directed toward the sea they were obviously intended to intimidate the local population...'

And the note at the back of the 2013 journal contains the following line from Sean Corcoran, chairperson of the Old Drogheda Society, 'this last sentence relating to the Millmount cannons was changed at my request as was the deletion of all references to the tower at Millmount as 'Martello'.

I find the whole thing very strange indeed, as it was my belief also that the cannons were mounted on the martello as a protection against invaders. And surely they could be moved into different positions if needed.

I headed straight to the Streets and Lanes of Drogheda update by Deirdre Howard Russell and there it is – in Jim Garry's opinion, it is a Martello Tower, built in 1808 to protect against a possible invasion.

I think there's a bit to run on this story yet for local history buffs – especially in relation to our Martello not being a Martello!

Drogheda Independent