Duncannon Fort is located in the South east corner of Ireland on the Hook Peninsula, County Wexford and overlooks Waterford Harbour and is under the management of Wexford County Council. This large Fort is built on flat rock and surrounded by a strong wall and can only be entered by crossing a drawbridge. Built in 1588 to offset the threat of the Spanish Armada, the Fort was called ‘The Fort of the Realm’ during British occupation and remained under their control until after The War of Independence in 1919. It was set alight in 1922 and remained a ruin until the outbreak of WW2 when it was rebuilt and occupied by the Irish Army up to 1986 and in 1993 handed the Fort over to Wexford County Council who undertook the task of restoration. Cromwell attacked this fort in 1649 and the garrison defended well. During the Rebellion of 1798, Duncannon Fort was a government stronghold and a place of refuge for the Loyalist community. After the Rebellion and in view of the threat of a French invasion 3 Martello towers still remain that were constructed on the Hook Peninsula, two at Duncannon and one at Baginbun Point east of the Peninsula. Little is known of another tower that was constructed near Rosslare at Wexford Point.
The British feared that the high ground behind the Fort was not adequately protected against a land attack and this was corrected by the positioning of two towers there. Baginbun Head was the site of the second Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland when Raymond le Gros landed there with 100 men in May 1170. The first landing was at Bannow Island and the capture of the Norse Town of Wexford.
Richard de Clare (Strongbow) later landed at Passage and joined up with le Gros and captured Waterford. The Battle of Baginbun was a decisive moment in Irish history and it is written that “at the creeks of Baginbun, Ireland was lost and won”.
Local historians attribute the origin of the place name to the names of the 2 ships that made the successful landing, The Bagg and the Bunn.
All 3 Towers are still standing and in private ownership. The Baginbun tower, built in 1804, had extensions added for additional living accommodation and one of the towers at Duncannon is now ideally positioned in the garden of a holiday bungalow “Dun ar Ruin”
( Our secret Tower) This property including the Martello Tower is now for sale(Aug.2013 post from owners. http://www.dunarruin.com JD). Another tower at Duncannon has been converted for use as a private residence.
Duncannon Martello Tower
Duncannon Fort is now a maritime museum and also houses a cockle-shell Art Centre, an artists studio, a restaurant and craft shop. The Fort is now a big tourist attraction and if you are unable to visit checkout the Internet for websites. (photo courtesy http://www.dunarruin.com ).
Baginbun Martello Tower,Hook Head,County Wexford, Private residence.
Photograph courtesy Humphrey Bolton Collection(Eire) http://www.geograph.org.uk
During World War II, the Irish Army and Local Defence Forces utilised several Martello towers and former Signal towers as look out posts(LOPs) and several in the Dublin area were equipped with searchlights.
In County Waterford the LOPs were on the headlands at Ardmore, Mine Head, Helvick, Dunbrattin, Brownstown and Dunmore. Each LOP was manned by servicemenn who recorded all offshore and aerial activity that might effect Ireland’s wartime security and neutrality. The pair of signal/navigational beacons at Brownstown were erected in 1819, are free standing and are positioned on an elevated site overlooking Tramore Bay, County Waterford.
Ardmore Signal Tower, Co.Wexford. One of a chain of 83 Signal Towers built around the coasts of Ireland. Photos courtesy NIAH (National Institute of Architectural Heritage Building Surveys http://www.buildingingsofireland.ie)
Brownstown Signal Beacons, Brownstown Head, East Waterford.
Passenger ferry now operates between Passage East on the Waterford Coast across to Ballyhack on the Wexford Coast.