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Glosh Tower and Deirbhle’s Twist on the Mullet

One of the most interesting aspects of my travels around Mayo is discovering the history behind some of the historic buildings that dot the landscape.

The wild and rugged Mullet Peninsula has a number of man-made structures that stand out like mysterious beacons against a backdrop of breathtaking views of the inspiring landscape and the wild Atlantic ocean.

One of the most prominent historic buildings of the Mullet is Glosh Tower, a two-storey, square-shaped, former signal tower that was built around 1805 on a hilltop location near Blacksod.

Glosh Tower kept Napoleon at bay

Glosh Tower, at the southern end of the Mullet with its commanding view over the entrance to Blacksod Bay, was one of 82 Napoleonic Towers built between 1801-06 around the coast of Ireland to warn of a French naval invasion of Ireland.

The derelict building, at the summit of Glosh Hill, Tarmon, Blacksod, was built by the British at a time of high tension in the early nineteenth century in the aftermath of the French landing on 22nd August 1798 at Kilcummin in County Mayo.

Glosh Tower was one of more than 80 such look-out towers that were constructed along the west, south, south-east and north-west coastlines between 1804 and 1806.

The two-storey former signal tower on a square-plan was built around 1805 and its dramatic hilltop location makes it a prominent local landmark near Blacksod.

The signal tower defence system stretched from Malin Head, at the tip of Donegal, around the coast to Dublin. Signal towers cost between €600 to £900 each to construct.

Each tower was built on high ground with a clear line of sight of the neighbouring towers so a signalling message could be made when a warning needed to be given.

They worked on a signalling system using ball and flag methods, where various messages could be transmitted from station to station, quickly raising the alarm in case of the siting of Napoleon’s fleet.

A 50-foot mast was positioned on the seaward side of the signal tower where the flags and balls would be hoisted so that the next signal tower could see the message and pass it on to the adjacent one and so forth.

Deirbhle’s Twist stone circle

 Deirbhle's Twist, a circle of standing stones, at Fallmore near Blacksod, Co Mayo, is part of Tir Saile, the North Mayo Sculpture Trail. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Deirbhle’s Twist, a circle of standing stones, at Fallmore near Blacksod, Co Mayo, is part of Tir Saile, the North Mayo Sculpture Trail. Photo: Anthony Hickey

The stunning natural beauty of the rocky landscape of the western side of the Mullet has been celebrated by the Deirbhle’s Twist sculptor, on a hilltop near in the townland of Fallmore, a short drive from the Glosh Tower.

Deirbhle’s Twist overlooks the Atlantic with magnificent views of Achill to the south and the Inishkea Islands to the west.

The circle of standing stones is part of Tir Saile, the North Mayo Sculpture Trail which was established in 1993.

Deirbhle’s Twist was designed and erected by Birr-born sculptor, Michael Bulfin who was inspired by the rock-strewn landscape and its ancient links with Saint Deirbhle.

At first glance, the sculpture appears to be an ancient megalithic tomb – or stone circle miniature version of Stonehenge.

The structure consists of large boulders that were once quarried from this area to be used in various types of building.

Deirbhle’s Twist also echoes the story of Saint Deirbhle who has strong connections with Fallmore where the remains of her church and St. Deirbhle’s Well are still places of pilgrimage today.

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.

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