Val O’Donnell has some ideas of how to utilise our former Look-Out Posts

I read recently that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport was recruiting Watch Officers for the Irish Coast Guard. The Watch Officers are located at Marine Rescue Centres at Valentia, Malin Head and Dublin, where they monitor the entire Irish coast on a 24 hour basis, as part of a national service responding to emergencies at sea.

Earlier generations of Irish coast-watchers included the inhabitants of the sturdy Martello Towers built in the early 19th century, in response to the threat of Napoleonic invasion. At least 50 Martello Towers were built along the Irish coast, with concentrations around Dublin, Wexford and Cork.

These formidable defensive structures were never tested in combat and became obsolete after the arrival of powerful rifled artillery. Many are still standing in varying states of repair. Some have been converted into homes, meeting places, museums and commercial outlets.

Probably the most famous is the Martello tower in Sandycove, near Dúnlaoghaire, which was occupied for a short time by James Joyce and Oliver Gogarty in the summer of 1904. Joyce’s brief tenancy is immortalised in the first episode of Ulysses and has become a museum, attracting thousands of visitors each year.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (issue 5595)