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The Round Towers in Ferrybank

  • 09-11-2018 8:18am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 975 ✭✭✭ Parachutes


    There’s plenty of information out there on the city walls and the towers connected to them i.e Beach Tower, Round tower etc but I’ve been trying to get some background on the two towers in Ferrybank and there’s very little info available online.

    The first and biggest tower is on the top of the Rockshire road just before the golf course behind the nursing home while the second and smaller of the towers is a bit farther down up by silver wood, both of them have iron gates attached and seem virtually identical minus height.

    I’ve been intrigued by them for many years and have inquired to their origin, I’ve heard conflicting stories. The main one you hear is that they served as sentry towers for the Viking’s so they could foresee any attack on the town coming up the river and the placement of the towers in relation to each other was for signalling.

    Another theory I’ve heard is that they are actually Anglo-Norman and not Viking. I’ve also heard they’re not that old whatsoever and were built in the 18th century.

    It seems strange to me that these two landmarks go basically ignored and are in a state of dereliction and their history so ambiguous.

    Can anyone shed some light on their actual origin?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,589 ✭✭✭ lassykk


    Can't help myself but the Waterford History Group on Facebook is a fountain of knowledge about such things.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/waterfordhistorygroup/

    If no one can answer on here then might be worth trying


  • Registered Users Posts: 466 ✭✭ Squidvicious


    From what I've heard, the origins of these towers are nothing as old as Viking or Norman nor are they all that unusual. I understand that they were built as folly towers, so they're probably nineteenth century. They were simply structures built by rich people for ornamental purposes. Many of them were built during the famine. Basically, during the famine, there was a reluctance to simply provide handouts to help people. It was felt best to provide work for people and pay them rather than simply giving them money.
    There are structures of this kind throughout the country. Indeed, the ones in Ferrybank are fairly unremarkable when you see some of the examples around the country.
    http://curiousireland.ie/category/time-period-of-styles/follies-and-gatehouses-1741-1850/
    Sorry to give you a boring answer!


  • Registered Users Posts: 570 ✭✭✭ azimuth17


    Apparently built as semaphore or signal towers I believe to allow the Pope family who were merchants to make contact with the lower harbour and know when ships arrived there.


  • Registered Users Posts: 466 ✭✭ Squidvicious


    azimuth17 wrote: »
    Apparently built as semaphore or signal towers I believe to allow the Pope family who were merchants to make contact with the lower harbour and know when ships arrived there.
    Yes, I've heard that one too. However, I don't think that it's very likely. It would mean that there would have to be a lad up in the tower all the time waiting for a signal or else somebody on the Quay was keeping a watch on the tower to wait for a signal. He'd have spent an awful lot of time doing nothing. It's also unlikely given that it would hardly take too long for a messenger to go over to Ferrybank and deliver the message in person. And why build two towers?

    I'd say that people made up that story 'cos they couldn't figure out why these useless structures were built in the first place!


  • Registered Users Posts: 975 ✭✭✭ Parachutes


    From what I've heard, the origins of these towers are nothing as old as Viking or Norman nor are they all that unusual. I understand that they were built as folly towers, so they're probably nineteenth century. They were simply structures built by rich people for ornamental purposes. Many of them were built during the famine. Basically, during the famine, there was a reluctance to simply provide handouts to help people. It was felt best to provide work for people and pay them rather than simply giving them money.
    There are structures of this kind throughout the country. Indeed, the ones in Ferrybank are fairly unremarkable when you see some of the examples around the country.
    http://curiousireland.ie/category/time-period-of-styles/follies-and-gatehouses-1741-1850/
    Sorry to give you a boring answer!

    Interesting tidbit all the same!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 570 ✭✭✭ azimuth17


    The semaphore idea was posed by the late Bill Irish I believe. He plotted the route from Henrietta Street, where Popes had their warehouses, to top of Rockshire Hill, just above the big house (now surrounded by housing) where the Pope family lived, then to the high golf course tower, from there to top of the Minaun and on to Passage East. Worth going to the Minaun with a pair of binoculars to see what he meant. Sailing ships according to Bill would generally only have arrived with the day time full tide each day, being without engines, and so a merchant knowing the tide time would be able to send someone up the towers to collect info. They would not be manned all day. It is more likely that they were called follies after they went out of use when steam began to takeover and ships could arrive at any time.


  • Registered Users Posts: 466 ✭✭ Squidvicious


    azimuth17 wrote: »
    The semaphore idea was posed by the late Bill Irish I believe. He plotted the route from Henrietta Street, where Popes had their warehouses, to top of Rockshire Hill, just above the big house (now surrounded by housing) where the Pope family lived, then to the high golf course tower, from there to top of the Minaun and on to Passage East. Worth going to the Minaun with a pair of binoculars to see what he meant. Sailing ships according to Bill would generally only have arrived with the day time full tide each day, being without engines, and so a merchant knowing the tide time would be able to send someone up the towers to collect info. They would not be manned all day. It is more likely that they were called follies after they went out of use when steam began to takeover and ships could arrive at any time.

    Fair enough, I can't claim to be an expert so perhaps that is the explanation. It just seems to be an awful lot of trouble to go to. That would involve having people at 5 locations to send messages etc., even if they only had to be there at high tide. And I know that sailing ships weren't the fastest but at the same time, it wouldn't really take them all that long to get from Passage to the Quay, so it's not as if they'd have gotten that much advance warning. And why were the Popes the only merchants who felt the need to do this? Surely other merchants would have wanted the same facilities, if the Popes considered a complex system like this was helpful? Nor have I ever heard of anything like this in any other port.

    That said, in this day and age, we have forgotten much about those times, so I wouldn't want to rubbish what Bill Irish(is he the man who used to live in Rockenham?)either.


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