History of Martello Towers

Martello Towers were built in Ireland and Britain in 1804 due to a fear of invasion by France. Previously during the rebellions in Ireland of 1798 and 1802, French troops landed in Ireland to assist the rebels.  Britain was at war with France and by 1804 Napoleon had conquered Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands and it was thought he would soon invade Ireland and England.  The contractor who built the towers in Dublin was a Mr Ross. The estimated cost of building each tower in 1804 was £2000.  The design of the towers resembled that of a coastal defence tower at Mortella Point in Corsica. The name martello comes from this.  There were some 50 or so towers built in Ireland, of which 21 remain. The original Towers from the Napoleonic era are circular in shape, with 2-4 meter thick walls, which were made from solid stone that was all sourced locally. The entrance doorway of the towers are 3 metres from the ground which meant at the time access to the entrance was only made by a ladder.  The ladder then could be removed to protect against an invader.  There was a large gun emplacement on the roof which swivelled from a central location on a track in the stone roof.


Location of Martello Towers in Dublin


Further reading

The "Martello Towers Research Project

This report was commissioned by Fingal County Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, with the support of The Heritage Council.