Telephone, Television but all preceded by Telegraph Towers

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Where: Munster, Clare, Ireland

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When: Unknown

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Mutton Island off Kilmurry in County Clare might not be the place that one would expect to have been one of the links in a communications chain that helped protect an Empire? If you wish to find it on the map don't fall for a straightforward "Kilmurry" because Clare has a collection of them. Mutton Island is off "Kilmurry Ibrackane" not too far away from a golf course owned by a rather (in)famous guy with weird hair!

Photographer: Irish Tourist Association Photographer

Collection: Irish Tourist Association Photographic Collection

Date: 1942 - 1944

NLI Ref: NPA ITA 232 (Box II)

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 3869
eason ireland locationidentified munster nationallibraryofireland nationaltouristassociation nationaltouristassociationphotographiccollection blackandwhitephotos telegraphtower muttonisland kilmurry coclare oldsignallingsystem napoleonicwars wildatlanticway

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    • 19/Oct/2023 07:52:26

    From the shadow in the satellite photo, still standing. I hoped for a googleball or two, but no -,-9.53...

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    • 19/Oct/2023 07:57:08

    Click through for a more detailed phote and history here -

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    • 19/Oct/2023 07:59:37

    Some history “In the late 1700's a telegraph watchtower and keep were built there by the coastguard to keep vigil for a French invasion that never happened!”

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    John Spooner

    • 19/Oct/2023 08:09:38

    Morning Chronicle - Saturday 17 August 1805:

    We understand that the great chain of signal towers; or defensible. posts, building on the Coast of Ireland, under the inspection of Major-General PAYNE, are nearly finished, and that the following are already complete, viz. in the County Kerry, Bolus Head,' Brea Head, Great Blaskets, Sybil Head, Ballydavid head, and Kerry Head.---In the County Clare, Knocknagarroon, Hags Head, Baltard, and Cahircrohane, or Loops Head.-That on Mutton 'Island, situated also in the County Clare, between Hags 'Head and Baltard, building by -Mr. Maher, will be complete in a few days. Hags Head is occupied by a detachment under a Naval Officer. ' The Post on Hog Island, in the River Shannon, when built, will complete the' chain of defensible guard houses in Limerick District.
    Do any of the other watchtowers mentioned still exist, I wonder?

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    John Spooner

    • 19/Oct/2023 08:14:15

    A couple of decades later, Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier - Tuesday 08 August 1826

    The signal tower, houses, and ground, occupied by the coast-guard on Mutton-Island, County Clare, are ordered to be let by the Commissioners of Customs.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 19/Oct/2023 08:42:47

    [] It looks as if there was an amount of NIMBYism sometimes at play, at least not without compensation...

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    • 19/Oct/2023 08:48:23

    “CL038-071---- : Signal tower : MUTTON ISLAND Description: Situated at the western edge of Mutton Island, immediately E of the low vertical cliffs that drop down to the coast (30m OD). Located on flat ground a short distance from the coastline (c. 22m to W). The surrounding area consists of unenclosed rough pastureland. The adjacent signal towers in the chain are found at Hag’s Head (CL014-010002-), located c. 15.9kms to the NNE, and at Ballard (CL046-005----), now demolished, located c. 10.3kms to the SW. Signal tower on Mutton Island located c. 1.3kms W of the scant remains of St. Senan's Church (CL038-003001-), located to the E side of the island, and c. 4.1kms WNW of a tower house (CL038-006-----), indicated as ‘Tromra Castle’ on the Ordnance Survey third ed. six-inch map (c. 1913-8), which is located at Tromracastle on mainland County Clare. An early nineteenth-century (c. 1804-5) two-storey square-plan signal tower (approx. ext. dims. 5.85m NE-SW x 5.85m NW-SE), built with roughly coursed rubble. The doorway is located on the first floor of the SE elevation and would have been originally accessed via a retractable ladder. An area of lime render survives on the wall surrounding the doorway. The doorway retains a good-quality cut limestone block-and-start surround with cut stone lintel with keystone, and a cut limestone threshold to the base. The doorway is protected by a rectangular brick-built machicolation over supported by three cut limestone corbels. The brick-built part of the machicolation has largely collapsed. A large hole has been opened up through the wall below the first floor doorway to provide ground level access. The NE and SW walls each feature two square-headed window openings at both ground floor and first floor levels that retain cut limestone block-and-start limestone surrounds and cut limestone sills. The first floor level of the NE elevation features an area of render around the window openings with intact weather-proof slate cladding. The NW elevation is plain and bulges slightly along its length to the centre to house the chimney flue. The internal face of the NW wall features centrally placed fireplaces at ground and first floor levels flanked to either side by square-headed alcoves. The ground floor fireplace retains an unusually good quality cut limestone surround. Large sections of lime render survive to the interior and rows of holes in the walls indicate the location of joist holes for supporting the floors. Square bartizans were located on the E and N corners. The W bartizan has entirely collapsed, and the N bartizan has collapsed but the three supporting cut stone corbels survive. The E part of the parapet wall has collapsed in sections. Kerrigan established that the signal mast had been erected and the signal tower completed by 1805 (Kerrigan 1995, 278).The signal tower is set within a well-preserved rectangular enclosure (ext. dims c. 55m NW-SE x 30m NE-SW) defined by a tall coursed rubble stone wall. It has an entrance on the SE side defined by two tall but heavily denuded and collapsing coursed and squared rubble stone gate piers. The enclosure is on a slightly different alignment to the signal tower, suggesting it may have been a secondary addition to the site. A partially ruined rubble stone rectangular building (ext. dims. c. 9m NW-SE x c. 3m NE-SW) is located in the W corner of the enclosure. The Ordnance Survey first ed. six-inch map, surveyed 1840-2, shows the signal tower, enclosure and the rectangular building. The site is identified as ‘Watch Ho.’ On the Ordnance Survey second ed. six-inch map, surveyed 1893-7, the same details are depicted, but the rectangular building is shown as being divided into a larger room at the SE and a small room at the NW. The site is identified as ‘Watch House (in Ruins)’ on the Ordnance Survey third ed. six-inch map, surveyed 1913-8, no longer shows the internal division of the rectangular building. The signal tower was part of a system of over 80 signal stations constructed by the British Board of Ordnance in the first decade of the nineteenth century to warn of the approach of a French invasion fleet. Signalling between sites was accomplished using a naval signal post. The system formed a continuous chain from Dublin Bay running clockwise all the way around the coast to Malin Head in County Donegal. It was abandoned by the mid-1810s when the threat of a French invasion diminished (Kerrigan 1995, 157-66).Compiled by: Stuart RathboneUploaded on: 13/07/22 Six-Inch First edition: 'Watch Ho.' Six-Inch Latest edition: 'Watch House (in ruins)' “

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    Architecture of Dublin

    • 19/Oct/2023 11:25:15

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    Niall McAuley

    • 19/Oct/2023 12:48:40

    the French invasion happened in 1798 and failed. These towers and the fifty or so Martello towers were to prevent a repeat effort.

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    • 19/Oct/2023 14:42:07

    That’s a great photo. Thanks. And some great background from NLI contributors. Two such towers were built on the Aran Islands. Both still standing on Árainn and Inis Oirr.

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    • 19/Oct/2023 16:04:33 Looks like Wikipedia completely missed the purpose of the tower

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    • 21/Oct/2023 00:25:04

    I think those might be semaphore telegraph, not the electric kind.

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    • 21/Oct/2023 00:26:18

    Invented by the French, used here to repel a French invasion. Irony.