Martello Towers

2 Oct

Last week we went on a study tour to the West of Ireland. While there, we visited the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. I can honestly say they were some of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Galway in general had a mystical feel to it.
One thing I noticed were the multiple Martello Towers that were built along the coast and inland. We must’ve passed three or four on the way to cliffs and the Aran Islands. The Martello Tower originated in Mortella, France in 1794. The British attempted to attack the tower, but due to the design of the tower, their cannonballs just kept bouncing off the stone. So, England decided to implement the design at home. The Martello Towers are circular, and usually twelve to fifteen meters tall. They were built in the early 1800’s throughout the United Kingdom. There are over 100 in England and 50 in Ireland. At the time, they were considered “bomb proof” because their thick walls and circular shape were designed to resist cannon fire and heavy artillery. They were built to protect England and Ireland from Napoleon, who intended to invade the United Kingdom, using Ireland as a “back door” entry point. Luckily, Napoleon never actually tried to invade the United Kingdom, possibly because the Martello Towers acted as a deterrent. Nowadays, the towers wouldn’t stand a chance against modern machinery, and as a result, the majority of them were either demolished or turned into monuments.
To me, the Martello Towers are fascinating because they represent a small piece of history that I was previously unaware. They demonstrate the attitudes of people in Ireland at the time, and their fear of an imminent invasion from Napoleon. They have become a part of the Irish landscape and they add an element of timelessness that I have yet to experience anywhere else.
-Casey Smith


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