Tuesday 5 September 2017

Maiden Tower Co Louth

                        Above Image: The Maiden Tower with obelisk in backround

                          Above Image: The boathouse building and Maiden Tower

                              Above Image: Blocked up entrance to Maiden Tower

                                             Below 2 Images: The obelisk

These two unusual structures are situated at the estuary of the River Boyne at Mornington (town of the mariners) in County Meath. The taller of the two is called the Maiden Tower standing 60 feet in height.. It was constructed in 1582 during the reign of Elizabeth I who ascended the English throne in 1558. One of its main functions after 1585 was as a look out post in case of invasion by the Spanish Armada The origin of it's name is unclear. Some say it is in honour of Elizabeth who was known as the virgin Queen but the townland at that time was called Maydenhayes so this would also be a likely origin. Nevertheless it served as a navigational aid for ships attempting to enter the estuary. At night it would be a beacon and during daylight a navigator would know he was on track when the smaller structure disappeared behind the Maiden Tower.
The structures are accessible by a sandy track that leads to the rather stony beach. Apparently within the Maiden Tower a set of spiral steps leads to a barrel vaulted ceiling with an access point out onto the pararpets. A doorway which stands about 3 feet off the ground is now sadly barred up with a steel plate by the County Council as a result of vandalism to the tower in 2003. The original iron grill that blocked the door was forcibly removed  by a vehicle with tow rope for no other reason than pure vandalism and to infiltrate and cause damage to the interior.  To protect the tower from further harm it was closed to any public access.
We come now to the smaller structure which stands at 42 feet in height and is actually an obelisk of sorts. It was most likely used as described to act with the large tower as a navigational aid. It is local folklore that a lady awaiting the return of her mariner husband was viewing the ship's approach and on seeing the black sails which had been raised in error by the crew saw this as a signal that her husband had been killed. Quite distraught the lady threw herself from the tower to her death. It is said that the mariner who was still quite alive constructed the obelisk in her memory and it was called The Lady's Finger. That is the name to which it still known.
The building that stands adjacent to the tower was once a 19th century boathouse for the lifeboat service. This particular one ceased to be in 1926 falling into ruin thereafter. It was later refurbished to avoid more vandalism into a private dwelling but still daubings can be seen on a gable end one of them stating "The Mornington Mafia"
The tower and obelisk are well worth a visit especially on a clear day and with the backdrop of the estuary it's a very picturesque spot.
To find your way there take the M1 motorway heading North and exit at junction 7. Turn right at the roundabout at the top of the exit ramp and cross over the motorway taking the exit ahead on the next roundabout for the R132. Drive for approx 5KM and you will reach Julianstown. Continue through the village and drive another 3KM until you reach two roundabouts in close proximity. Take the right hand exit on the second roundabout onto the L1611 for Mornington. Continue on for another 3.5KM until you reach a stop sign at a staggered crossroads. (you will see a Texaco station ahead). Turn left at this junction and approx 400m along take the third turn right . This is called Tower Road. Just follow it until you see the entrance track to the Maiden Tower & Obelisk ahead. There is a height restrictive barrier for 2 Metres at the entrance but most.cars will fit under.and there's space beyond for a few vehicles. 

P.S. I have substantially updated the post on Bective Abbey in county Meath if you would like to check it out.

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