Archive for Waterloo Uncovered

Walking Dublin Bay’s Martello Towers

Walking Dublin Bay’s Martello Towers

Walking Dublin Bay’s Martello Towers

Peter Molloy at Blackrock Martello Tower. (Photo by Wesley Bourke)


At 5:00am yesterday morning Peter Molloy headed off on his 26-mile walk along the coast of Dublin Bay from Bray to Howth. In aid of Waterloo Uncovered. Peter followed the trail of the remaining Napoleonic era Martello Towers. We joined him at Dalkey and walked with him to Blackrock. Very aptly to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo a coastal mist and drizzle accompanied us along our journey. Peter is an encyclopedia of Napoleonic knowledge. Standing at Tower No. 11 (now the James Joyce museum) at Sandycove, just beside the famous 40 Foot, we looked out over the bay. the mist tainted our view, but the sound of a fog horn indicated a ship. Some 200 years ago a sentry would be thinking: is this Napoleon.

A view of Seapoint Martello Tower. (Photo by Wesley Bourke)

Sadly, a lot of the towers are gone; the Dublin area alone had nearly 30: the cannon fire must have been devastating to any ship caught in the cross fire. Many areas are void of any clue that a coastal defence ever existed: for example, Dún Laoghaire used to have two towers. Those that do remain are still formidable platforms. Today however, they are part of the landscape. At Seapoint the tower was surrounded by people swimming in the sea. Well done to Peter Molloy and Waterloo Uncovered. Hopefully we will be seeing more of him in the future.

Posted in: Battle of Waterloo, Coastal Defence, Dublin Bay, Waterloo Uncovered

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Waterloo Uncovered – Walking Dublin Bay’s Martello Towers

Waterloo Uncovered – Walking Dublin Bay’s Martello Towers

Waterloo Uncovered – Walking Dublin Bay’s Martello Towers

The Battle of Waterloo 18 June 1815, is one of the most defining battles in world history. For the Emperor Napoleon: victory was everything. Facing him were two armies of the Seventh Coalition: consisting of units from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hanover, Brunswick and Nassau, the Anglo-Dutch army was under the command of the Irish born Duke of Wellington, while the Prussian forces were commanded by Field Marshal von Blücher. The number of Irish that took part in the battle is unknown; but no doubt in the thousands mainly in the British army, along with small numbers of Irish (or of Irish descent) in the Prussian and French armies. The key Irish units in the British army present at Waterloo were the 1st Battalion of the 27th (Inniskilling) and two cavalry units—the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons and the 18th (King’s Irish) Hussars. An Irish born officer of note was Major-General Sir William Ponsonby commander of the Union Brigade, the 2nd British Brigade. He lost his life in a cavalry action with French Lancers.

The Battle of Waterloo by Irish born painter William Sadler.

Waterloo Uncovered is a unique international charity. It assists the recovery of both serving military personnel and veterans dealing with some of the physical and mental impacts of their service by providing them with the opportunity to carry out archaeology on history’s most famous battlefield. Since 2015 the charity has been carrying out annual summer excavations at Waterloo and has assisted over 100 beneficiaries. Waterloo Uncovered continues to make important new archaeological discoveries about the battle and about the men and women who experienced it.

Peter Molloy on a dig with Waterloo Uncovered.

Historian Peter Molloy has been passionate about Waterloo since childhood. He has been fortunate to join the last two Waterloo Uncovered excavations in Belgium as a volunteer. There, he was able to see first-hand the incredible work the charity does. Due to Covid 19 restrictions Waterloo Uncovered activities have been postponed. Wanting to continue supporting the charity and highlighting the work they do; Peter has decided to walk the full length of Dublin Bay’s very own Napoleonic era coastal gun emplacements – the Martello Towers.

The network of Martello Towers around Dublin’s coast is our most tangible link today with the Napoleonic period which climaxed at Waterloo in 1815. There are ten towers remaining along a 26-mile coastline from Bray to Howth. Walking this trail on the anniversary of the iconic battle 2005 years ago to help Waterloo Uncovered is a fitting way challenge. Other towers can be found around the island, that challenge is for another day. We will be meeting Peter on the day and taking in a few towers with him.

You can support this challenge at JustGiving page to learn more, donate and to follow Peter’s progress on the day. Thank you!

Posted in: Battle of Waterloo, Dublin Bay, Martello Towers, Waterloo Uncovered

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