|The Maiden Tower|
With all this beautiful weather we've been having lately, when you're working indoors your thoughts naturally turn to being outside; namely out to the beach. The beach walk at Mornington is a lovely spot for a walk or run and is overlooked by the two structures known as The Maiden Tower and The Lady's Finger. The history of the two is long and, like any good historical building, comes with local myth and folklore attached.
The 60 foot high Maiden Tower was built during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (some would say hence the name 'Maiden Tower') as a beacon to aid mariners on their way into Drogheda port. It was used as a landmark to mark the mouth of the Boyne and it is said that before the river walls were constructed in 1765, when a mariner brought his ship into line with the Tower and the Lady's Finger, the course of his ship marked the precise angle necessary to cross the bar. It also served as a look-out post during the Elizabethan Wars with Spain (1585-1603) to warn of any approaching enemy ships. The tower, the top of which is reached by spiral steps, commands a most extensive look-out over land and sea. It was originally brightly coloured, making it even more conspicuous and useful to mariners.
The nearby Lady's Finger is a 13 meter-high solid obelisk-like tower which is believed to have been constructed much later than its companion, and was also used as a shipping beacon in past times. In between the two there also sits the Victorian Lifeboat station which closed in 1926 and is now a private dwelling.
There is one more local story associated with the Tower which is described by James Garry:
"On a Spring morning in 1819 the fishing community of the little village were surprised to see smoke rising from the top of the tower and some of the more bold folk volunteered to investigate the cause. On reaching the top platform they found an old woman preparing a simple meal over a driftwood fire. Exposed to the elements, the stranger had arranged a rough bed of bent grass and assembled a few pieces of humble furniture and a spinning wheel. On being questioned she revealed that she had been told in a vision to seek out the tower and make her abode there. The village folk helped to make the tower as comfortable as possible and stretched an old sail from wall to wall to keep out wind and rain. Small quantities of bread and milk were delivered daily to the hermit who was regarded locally as a "Holy " woman. Spending her days in prayer, contemplating and spinning her wheel, the stranger attended mass in Mornington Church and each Sunday left the fruits of her weeks spinning on the alter steps.
The Maiden Tower is unfortunately closed to the public but if you get a chance, go out and have a look. It's a beautiful spot especially in the sunshine.
Extracts from: "A Local Folklore Miscellany" by Frank Gallagher, O.D.S. Journal 2007
"The Streets and Lanes of Drogheda" by James Garry, 2009