The Corsican Defence
Restoration of Martello Tower No.7 Killiney

Dublin City Library and Archive

Heritage Seminar - Maritime Dublin
25 August 2012

You can view the Powerpoint presentation here by either left clicking the link, or rightclicking and saving the file to your computer.


Through my interest in the local history of Ballybrack/Killiney I became involved in the restoration of Martello Tower No.7 on the Killiney Hill Road. Though I wasn't born there and have long moved away, Ballybrack was effectively where I grew up and my childhood playground stretched from the beach to Ballycorus on the one hand and from Killiney Hill to the Battery on the other.

I became interested in the the military history of the Bay when I entered the competition for a local history paper in Oireachtas na Gaeilge in 1973. In the course of the research for this entry I came across a reference in the Hayes catalogue of Irish Manuscripts to Major La Chaussée's 1797 report on Killiney Bay. And so a report written in French became the centrepiece of an entry for an Irish language competition by a native English speaker.

Someone put Niall O'Donoghue in contact with me in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Niall had bought the Martello Tower and was determined to restore it to as near its original condition as possible. I had some maps and photos of the area in earlier years including one of the Tower which was of interest to Niall as there were no plans available of the original construction.

I thought the proposed faithful restoration of the hitherto neglected Tower was a great idea. Having read La Chaussée I was completely taken with the military aspect of the Bay, and I felt that such a restoration might in some way make restitution for the absolute desecration of Tower No.6 by Victor Enoch in the early 1970s.

The restoration proved to be a huge undertaking. It involved around 250 people between researchers, suppliers, contractors, bureaucrats etc. It required the remediation of nearly 100 years of dumping on the site by the local authorities who had owned it since 1909. Some 230 20-ton lorryloads of "rubbish" were removed at a cost for each lorryload of €1,600, when you take the required archeological inspection into account. That added up to a bill of nearly €400,000 before you started restoring anything.

The old coach house, gunner's cottage and magazine had been demolished by the Council, and they had also demolished a significant portion of the battery wall. There were no construction plans available in the military archives, so evidence had to be slowly pieced together on how precisely the restoration should be done.

Niall was fortunate to have the assistance and cooperation of Paul M. Kerrigan, who was the authority on Irish martello towers, and without whose help the project could not have produced the magnificent restoration we have today.

Although it might be invidious for Niall to single out individuals from among the 250 referred to above, I owe a debt of gratitude to Doug and Sylvia Rogers, Niall's sister and brother in law. Following Niall's instructions, they combed the UK National Archives in Kew producing an absolute treasure trove of material on the Towers. But from my point of view, the highpoint was their finding of the maps which had originally accompanied La Chaussée's report but which I could not find despite my best efforts thirty years earlier. They also turned up the location of the elusive Limekiln which gave its name to Battery No.8 and which La Chaussée had used as a marker in his analysis of the Bay.

An innovative feature of this restoration was the casting and installation of a replica George III Blomefield 18 pounder cannon on the crown of the Tower. The cannon was inaugurated on 12 July 2008. At the time, there was not even a pattern (mould) available for such a cannon and one had to be made from a newly turned wooden model. The casting of the cannon itself involved the pouring into the mould of 2½ tons of ore at 13000C.

So, earlier this year, I once again approached Máire Kennedy with an idea for a talk. This would be my fourth in the Dublin City Library and Archive in Pearse St., and I had covered some of the military material in my first one on the History of Killiney/Ballybrack in the period 1500-1900. However I persuaded Máire that there was a good story in the restoration of the Tower itself and suggested a talk for the Local History Day in October.

Máire was willing but suggested the planned seminar on Maritime Dublin as a suitable occasion. The seminar is at the confluence of three streams: Heritage Week, Dublin City of Science and the arrival of the Tall Ships Race. Sounded perfect to me.

The Presentation

The presentation is in Powerpoint.

It draws on an online customised Google map to illustrate the various defences in the Bay and the rationale for their location. You can access the map separately and play with it to your heart's content.

If, for any reason, you might need to run the presentation without access to the internet at the time, you can download a copy which incorporates illustrations from the maps.

More detailed background material is referenced below.

Handout / Script

The short 2 side handout, distributed at the presentation.

The "running order" which is my script for the presentation. It is simply a table listing the slides and the points I want to make while the slide is on the screen.
Running Order / Script


The online pieces below, which were published in the Irish Sword and Dublin Historical Record, may be a bit dated now in the light of later research, but they give some further background on the period covered by the talk. The extract from Captain Armstrong's diary clearly illustrates why the Loughlinstown Camp, considered so vital to the defence of both the City and the Bay, was wound up after the 1798 Rebellion.

Military history 1793-1815
Armstrong's Diary
Development in Nineteenth Century

Below is a summary of the Military History article which appeared in the Rathmichael Historical Record 1975 p4.

The French are on the sea.

Below is an English language version of the Goodman article. This was never published. The Irish lanaguage version was published in FEASTA (see further below).

The Goodmans


Seo thíos na leaganacha Gaeilge a chuireas isteach ar an Oireachtas. Scríobhadh na píosaí as Gaeilge i dtosach báire don chomórtas aiste staire áitiúla. Is ina dhiaidh sin a rinne mé iad a fhorbairt ina h-aistí Béarla.

Muintir Goodman
Tá na Francaigh 'teacht thar Sáile ..
An Baile Breac san Naoú Céad Déag

Other of my web and blog pages

These are pages or posts of mine which are relevant to the present topic.

A general page on Martello Tower No.7 linking to the Inauguration on 12 July 2008 and other related matters.

I have a separate page on the Loughlinstown camp.

And also a separate page showing each of the fortifications in Killiney Bay..

I have also put up on my site (i) the original copy of the La Chaussée manuscript I got from the British Museum, (ii) a typescript of the Report, (iii) an English translation (not perfect but adequate), (iv) the first map and (v) the second map. I would like to thank the British Museum/Library for permission to reproduce the document and the UK National Archives at Kew for permission to reproduce the maps.

Although not covering the Tower directly, people might be interested in some photos (with commentary) which I took on a quick tour around the Ballybrack area in 2006.
Photo tour of Ballybrack


My own personal contribution to the Inauguration inadvertently caught on camera.
No Parachute

Google Maps

You may wish to check out separately the map used in the presentation.

It can be moved around and zoomed like an ordinary Google map, though there seems to be some limit on the zoom in terrain format. Hovering over the control buttons at the top will activate tooltips which describe their functions. Hovering over the fortification pins will identify them in the Description box under the control buttons. Clicking on the pins will bring up an info box with further information and possible links.

Defence of the Bay

Customising Google maps requires some knowledge of Javascript, CSS and the Google maps Application Programming Interface (API). Some useful links are included below

Javascript tutorial.
Some basic API code snippets to start you off.
Slightly more advanced API tutorial.
Get point coordinates in decimal form.
Full reference guide to the API.

Third party links

Other background documents which were too detailed to be included in the presentation but which might be of interest in the context of follow up.

-   Martello Tower TV

View the latest videos here including one of the casting, proofing and installing the Cannon

-   Dúnlaoghaire & Rathdown County Council Website

     Proposed Architectural Conservation Area for Killiney (14/2/2012)

-   Wikipedia

    Wiki on Irish Martello Towers

-   Freeman's Journal 1805

    A Duel on Dalkey Island

-   Books etc
Sutcliffe (1972)
This was the first book to treat Martello Towers worldwide, and while I am told that it was accurate on the British towers, I know from experience that it was very much off the mark on some of the Irish towers, and particularly those in Killiney Bay of which I have first hand knowledge.

Enoch (1975)
This was a natty little pamphlet but unfortunately its author, who professed an interest in and an affection for Martello Towers, was responsible for the desecration of Tower No.6 (on Killiney beach) which he bought and to which he added two ugly storeys.

Kerrigan (1974)
In 1974 Paul Kerrigan published a series of 4 articles in An Cosantóir covering his initial work on what was later to become Castles and Fortifications of Ireland. They are reproduced here by kind permission of An Cosantóir.

If you seek monuments (1983)
Extracts from Kathleen Turner's book. These cover the ancient churches of Killiney and Tully, and the Martello Towers of the southern half of Dublin Bay.

Kerrigan (1996)
Paul M. Kerrigan was the foremost expert in his day on the Martello Towers of Ireland. He had published material on these in 1974 in An Cosantóir, the Irish Army journal, and released the illustrated version of his above book in 1996. He was actively involved in documenting the Towers over the years and assisted Niall O'Donoghue in drawing up his plans for the restoration of No.7.

The Martello Towers of Ireland (2001)
This is an unpublished thesis from 2001. It was submitted as part of the requirements for a Masters in Urban Building Conservation in University College Dublin. It represents a first attemmpt to catalogue and comment on the full range of Irish Martellos and Batteries from a conservationist point of view. It attempts to establish criteria to be applied in the case of Martello conversions and concludes that, beyond some obvious ones, each tower needs to be assessed on its own merits as they differ so much in construction, location and present condition. The author, Adrea Lazenby Simpson, visited as many sites as she could and has photographed many of the current features of the towers. In relation to No. 5 (Shanganagh) she draws attention to the existence of extensive ruins which still remain on the cliffs - rear wall, remains of magazine and other buildings. She also attempts to assess the influence of the the then newly introduced legislation but it was too soon to see any results on the ground. In two of her four case studies, however, she assesses the then current planning applications for conversion of Towers Nos. 10 and 7 (Bartra and Killiney) and finds that both proposed conversions, while very different, are sympathetic to the new conservation requirements and her own proposed guidelines, and are a vast improvement on some of the uglier and more outrageous past conversions. The thesis (Ref. M80) can be freely consulted in the UCD Architectural Library at the Richview end of the campus, most readily accessible from the Clonskeagh Road.

Fortress Ireland (2006)
John Hartnett McEnery also explored the defence of Ireland from earlier times to the present day. His analysis emphasises policy and strategic consideration over the purely physical characteristics of the defences.

Martello Towers Research Project (2008)

In the run up to the exhibition and subsequent book on the Martello Towers of Dublin, the sponsoring County Councils of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Fingal, commissioned Jason Bolton to review and report on existing documentation relating to Martello Towers world wide and more particularly in Ireland. His report is published on the Fingal County Council website.

Martello Towers Worldwide (2011)
This is a tremendous piece of work by Bill Clements who has visited almost all the sites mentioned in person and has his own photos in the book to prove it. It may be a little unfair putting him this late in the list as the current book is an updated and expanded version of his earlier publication Towers of Strength in 1999.

The Martello Towers of Dublin (2012)
This is the first book to deal graphically and in great detail with the Martello Towers of Dublin Bay. It is both a story and a reference book. It takes on board and expands on the wealth of material featured in the 2011 Exhibition. The copious illustrations give a great insight into the history and current state of the fortifications erected in Dublin Bay to resist the expected invasion by Napoleon in the period 1804-15. You can hear Tim Carey talking to Patrick Geoghegan about the book on Newstalk's Talking History programme.

Martello and Signal Towers (2012)
Archeology Ireland in its 100th edition this Summer, has included an article on Martello and Signal Towers, which neatly ties these two networks in together and which includes material relating to Tower No.7. The article is reproduced with kind permission of Archeology Ireland (Wordwell Books).

Niall O'Donoghue has produced a beautifully illustrated brochure describing No. 7 Tower. A hardcopy version was available at the Tower but this is currently out of print. You can still download an electronic copy here.

The Granite Hills
This is a guide to Killiney and Ballybrack published by the Local History Group of the Ballybrack ICA Guild. It is well worth a read. I think it dates from the 1970s, but am open to correction on that. There is an interesting sketch of No.7 Martello Tower on page 24.
-   Local Sites
Foxrock Local History Club Publications
The Foxrock Local History Club have reproduced their talks in a series of very interesting pamphlets. They are available at €3 each + postage. is the contact man.

Rathmichael Historical Record 1973-2003
Eoin Bairéad has scanned past editions of the Rathmichael Historical Record and these are available for downloading in pdf format. There is an interesting bibliography for the area in the 1984 RHR pp20-23.

My other talks in DCLA

History of Ballybrack
Ballybrack 1500-1900

The Medlar's Gotcha
The Medlar Family

The Shoemaker's Daughters
The Family of Christopher Burgess

A Policeman's Lot
The Dwyer Family