Rathlee Signal Tower, County Sligo

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The Rathlee Signal Station in the centre of the picture. A WW2 Look Out Post is located immediately north of the signal tower and a trigonometry pillar is located to the immediate east. (Image courtesy of Bing Maps).

Rathlee Signal Tower is located within the dispersed settlement at Rathlee. The area is part of an expansive coastal plain and the site has expansive views in all directions. The nearby tower at Lenadoon Point is too low to be seen from ground level at the site, whilst the signal station to the east, Carrowmably, is now obscured by trees. The site is accessed from the road that runs through the settlement. The site consists of a well preserved signal tower that survives to its full height but no enclosure is present.

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The eastern wall of Rathlee signal tower showing the ground floor window that has been expanded to allow access from ground level.

The signal tower measures 5.8m across and is orientated with its first floor doorway facing north towards the ocean, with four windows on the the east side and the west side and the bowed wall containing the chimney to the south. A shallow machicolation protects the doorway and the southern corners are protected by small rounded bartizans. Dressed stones are present around the first floor windows and first floor doorway. There are no dressed coping stones at the top of the walls. A fine chimney stack is present on top of the southern wall. The exterior of the tower is covered in a layer of render but it lacks the impressions of slates seen at the sites on Inisheer and Inishmore on the Aran Islands in County Galway.

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The southern wall with its prominent chimney stack and the seating area. Three interesting features can be seen on the lower parts of the wall, two signs and a hole containing a small cannon ball.

In the centre of the southern wall there is a grey stone sign that reads “Rathlee Signalling Tower. In memory of those who worked here and all who perished at sea. 2nd July 2006.” To the right of this is an older white sign that reads “Ruin of O’Dowd castle Lochtar Rath a seat of Kings of Tirerach” apparently mistaking the site for Rosslee Castle some 5km to the west.

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The canon ball (or metal sphere) trapped in place by a metal bar.

To the right of the white sign a square hole penetrates into the wall. The hole contains a solidly anchored horizontal metal bar, behind which is a heavy metal sphere that appears to be a small cannon ball.

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The first floor doorway with the stone surround on the outside visible.

The interior of the tower features all of the typical arrangements, with a largely infilled semi-basement, four ground floor windows, a ground floor fireplace flanked by alcoves, slots for a split mezzanine level between the ground floor and first floor, four first floor windows, and a first floor fireplace flanked by two alcoves. There is no evidence of an attic between the first floor and the roof. Interestingly the slots that held the mezzanine floors on the north and south wall slope downwards into the centre of the building, a unique variation that must have had an impact on how these features were used.

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The WW2 Look Out Post located immediately north of the signal tower.

The WW2 Look Out Post is well preserved with an intact roof and a small internal fireplace with a chimney. As with the nearby trigonometry pillar this site reuses the signal station location because of its excelent visibility in all directions.

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