Town Walls

The town walls were constructed in three phases, the first phase was during the first half of the 13th century, followed by further construction in the 17th and 19th centuries. There were five medieval gates giving access to the town, North Gate, South Gate, Iron Gate, Quay Gate and the Water Gate, pictured right. Iron Gate, also known as Trinity Castle, fell into disrepair and was removed in 1772. In 1777 it was replaced by the Clock Tower, now known as Clock Gate, see top image. It served as the town gaol for 60 years. The top storey was added in 1787. At certain times the tower is open to the public.

The Water Gate, located on Quay Lane, was reconstructed in the 19th century. The north and south gates were also removed in the late 18th century. Quay Gate is marked on an old map of the town, but it's exact location is unknown. The town walls enclosed an area of about 17 hectares, mostly populated by settlers from Bristol. The Quay wall ran along the medieval waterfront about 40 metres east of, and parallel with, the Main Street. The north wall, most of which remains today, ran west towards St Mary's Church, passing by the north side of Myrtle Grove, a late 16th century unfortified house and former residence of Sir Walter Raleigh. This private residence can be seen from the grounds of St Mary's.

Water Gate

Myrtle Grove

The coffin hole

Drews tower

Pathway in St Mary's

Wall Walk

I would suggest St Mary's is the best place to begin a walk along the walls. At the west end of the church the town wall turns in a southerly direction. A pathway at the west end of the graveyard takes you south along the walls to Drew's Tower. Look out for the coffin hole cut into the wall. It stored a reusable coffin used by the poor.

Drew's Tower, pictured above, was built in c.1820 on the site of one of 13 earlier towers, including the gates. A walk along the wall walk leads to a Sallyport opening that provides access to the exterior of the wall. The view south along the wall is really impressive. This stretch of wall is c.450 metres is length. A second opening in the walls takes you to the college gardens, back inside the walls. A walk south along Raheen Road will bring you to the Half-Moon-Tower, see image below.

Sallyport Entrance

College Gardens

The Half-Moon Tower, pictured below, is the only original tower that survived to full height. A portion of the wall to the north of the tower has been restored to full height. South of the tower the wall is visibly lower. The wall then runs behind a row of houses before coming back into view.

Beyond the houses, the remains of Montmorenci tower is the first part of the wall we see. Further south a breech in the wall provides access to a private residence. At the end of the wall a series of steps, known as the 'Jail Steps', takes you east, past the Banshee Tower down across Ashe Street to the Clock Gate. At the tower turn right and take the next left to Water Gate. In 1642 an extension to the Town Wall on the south side, enclosed an area of c1.5 hectares, known as Irishtown or Base Town. The Water Gate, also known as 'Cromwell's arch', provided access to the Quays from Irishtown.

Half-Moon tower

Montmorenci Tower

End of Raheen Road

Banshee Tower

Situated: From the Main Street take a left turn at the Almshouses. This will take you west to St Mary's Church. The longest stretch of the town wall is on Raheen Road.

Discovery Map 81: X 1023 7786. Last visit Sept 2019.

Longitude: 7° 51' 4" W. Half-Moon Tower

Latitude: 51° 57' 10" N

Google Map.

Photo: Jim Dempsey.

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