Times past with Brian Gabriel

Anchorite or Round Tower of Whitechurch The Tower is now finished, and for various reasons is well worthy of the notice of the curious. It was commenced on or about the 25th of June last (1832), by two country masons who were not very remarkable for science or skill. However, they were able to execute so many perches of it, daily, as they were in the habit of performing on a plain wall, owing, perhaps, to the ingenious machinery, and excluding the necessity of raising laids or forming cornerstones. The prospect from it is wide and extensive, being erected on very high ground, so that the sea, and parts of the counties of Limerick, Kerry, Tipperary, and Waterford can be easily discerned from it in clear weather. It is about seventy feet high, forty-six in girth at the base, and eight feet in diameter within, with the elegantly tapered form of the generality of such structures. It was built, over-hand work, measured with templets and rules, forming the batter or diminution peculiar to these towers, and contains six lefts, finishing with a crenelated top, like the round towers of Cloyne and Kildare. The lowest part is a vault, eight feet high, and the same in diameter, the arch of which is neatly groined, and is intended for the Founder’s Tomb, who could scarcely have a more magnificent one. The door-jambs of this vault are formed of large and heavy blocks of wrought limestone, and the iron gate is of the greatest strength and durability. The door-way of the tower to the east, and facing the church, is built of like materials with the other – ten feet from the ground, two feet four inches wide, five feet high to the springing, with the arch pointed and corbelled in the handsomest manner. All the windows are pointed and corbelled in like manner, which give them an uncommonly durable appearance. There is a fireplace in all the rooms, which form very comfortable cells – eight feet by nine high, with a projecting work for the joists to bear on. The stairs are narrow and circular, communicating from one room to another till you approach the top, which is finished with a convex loft, to be covered with lead or zinc. The four windows or apertures at the top, corresponding with the cardinal points – 21/2 by 5 feet high to the springing of the arch, – are somewhat larger than those in the ancient towers. In the centre, between these windows, the bell swings on two heavy iron bars; and, whether from the circular construction or smallness of the apartment in which it is hung, the sound is much more musical, more clear, more agreeable, than when rung in the open air. It is true, the bell-loft is well finished, and the splay and slope of the windows so contrived and eased off, as not to prevent the sound from issuing, which may perhaps be the cause of it. The tower is finished at the top with embrasures, partly sloped at the corners, and the intervals are four feet wide. The only decorations on the outside, beside what is already mentioned, are quarter-foils in sunk panels, and under them a handsome corbel table, forming the machinations, with leaden pipes in them, to carry away the rain that may fall on the flat roof. A Flag-staff, of twenty-four feet high, will be erected on the highest pinnacle, and the flag hoisted thirty minutes before the Clergyman begins Mass, and hauled down when it is finished; in order that those at a distance who do not hear the bell may increase their speed to overtake the sacred ceremony; and this signal, though novel in itself, will have its desired use and advantage. In this fine, this curious and novel building is both grand and graceful, – pleasing to every lover of science and taste, and does credit to the builder for his courage and in an attempt, equalling, in a manner, the works of the ancient Christian Irish. The above article was reported by a Correspondent of the Cork Mercantile Chronicle and printed by the paper on Monday, October 8th,1832. Fr. Matt. Horgan was responsible for the building of this tower in Whitechurch and also the one located at Waterloo.

National Heritage Week takes place between 17th and 25th August 2019. As part of this week, Blarney and District Historical Society presents an item on Wednesday 21st August at 7.30 p.m. titled ‘Blarney’s Rebel Trail’. Led by Guest Speaker, Mr. John Mulcahy, this will be a short walking tour which will visit local places of interest relating to The War of Independence. Assemble inside Main Gate to the Square 7.30 p.m. Please note Date and Time. Everybody Welcome. This is a free event.

The Annual General Meeting of the Blarney and District Historical Society take place on Thursday 5th September at 8.00 p.m. in Blarney Secondary School. Members and intending members welcome. Blarney and District Historical Society Website: www.blarneyhistory.ie