Local outrage at damage to Mornington Tower
RECENT vandalism has rendered the Maiden Tower, Mornington, as dangerous and unsafe according to local residents.
The historic stone tower, built by Queen Elizabeth as a look-out for a possible invasion by the Spanish Armada, features an opening about six feet off the ground. For many years the opening has been secured by an iron grill, but this was recently removed by force in an act of vandalism.
Gardaí suspect that a four-wheel drive vehicle was used to drag the safety grill off the building as tracks were left in the surrounding ground.
‘Marks on the ground indicate that a four-wheel drive vehicle was used to pull out the grill,’ said Laytown-based Sgt Eamon Mularkey.
In the past week Gardai have received a number of calls regarding trespassing at the tower, including one of a person trying to abseil down the outside!
‘The tower is now wide open with the grid lying on the ground outside and anybody can gain access,’ said a worried Martina Maguire, chairperson of Tower Road / Crook Road residents’ association.
The damage is substantial, according to local sources, with stones dislodged from the aperture surrounds.
Meath County Council’s conservation officer visited the listed building late last week and is preparing a report on the damage.
The tower owner, Sean McCormack, said that vandalism has been ongoing at the Mornington site which boasts three historic buildings, namely the Maiden Tower (a national monument), the Lady’s Finger (also a national monument) and The Boathouse (a listed building). ‘There’s a small-minded gang out there with nothing else to do,’ he said.
‘The Boathouse was vandalised last year and we repaired it, but it was vandalised after that again,’ said Mr McCormack. ‘We had to replace the double glazed windows twice. We had the intention of making it habitable again, and believe that there would be far less vandalism if someone was living in the boathouse.’
Mr McCormack went on to say that the constant repair of vandalism is proving costly.
‘This will be very costly as we have to carry out repairs with just a small maintenance grant under the direction of Dúchas,’ he said, pointing out that other major restoration work is now needed as the ground around the foundations of the tower has worn down leaving it in a dangerous state.
John Quinlivan of Meath County Council confirmed that it is up to the owner to repair the premises in consultation with Dúchas, as with any private listed property.
‘It’s a pity to see this happening to such an historic building,’ said Sgt Seamus Burke. ‘There is a chance that locals saw what happened and we would welcome a call.’