Whilst out on one of my Ruinhunter expeditions I was nicely surprised when I came across this unique Tower. I was actually heading up towards Montpellier hill in search of something else when in the corner of my eye I caught sight of something of interest as I drove by, so I managed to turn the car around on the old narrow country lane and pulled up outside the new cemetery near Rockbrook. What I saw atop the grassy Hillock was the Cruagh Watchtower. Whilst writing this post I could not get The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’, out of my head, hence the Post title. You will have to forgive me on this posting as I was unable to make my mind up regarding posting the color images or converting the entire set to mono. So I have used both. Recently have got a real taste for favoring the mono option as it really suits these old places. But on this occasion some shots had a nice color. So here we go, all comments & critique would be most welcome.
The Watchtower sits atop a hill in the older part of the cemetery, the site can be accessed via an old Iron Gate in the stone was which separates the old part from the modern cemetery. The towers purpose was very simple, During the 18th & 19th centurys the advances in science and the study of human anatomy brought with it an increases demand for cadavers. Due to the lack of corpses available for medical research, supply in cadavers became a lucrative trade for those willing to carry out the task. This demand led to some enterprising men becoming body snatchers or ‘resurrection men’, as they were known. These people would have no issue with raiding local graveyards in the middle of the night and removing freshly buried corpses from their final resting place in order to make a quick buck. One of the most effective ways of combating the rise of these body snatchers was the construction of a watchtower which would be manned by a sentry to discourage such late night raids.
Whilst the watchtower in Glasnevin cemetery is one of the most well known examples of this form of defence, the country is dotted with these towers truly showing the extent of the problem. The Tower sites on the site of a pre-Norman Chapel which would have once stood here. All that remains of this church are partial fragments of the West & east gables. In fact it was believed that the stone from this chapel was used in the construction of the watchtower. During the 1700’s many parish churches would have been amalgamated so it would seem plausible that with the Chapel at Cruagh no longer being needed it would have been recycled to build the Tower which was more important in the area at the time.
The Tower still commands a somewhat commanding view of the local area, with a large window facing North toward the graveyard. It remains in fairly good condition and appears to consist of only one upper floor. I am sure that anyone brave enough to attempt stealing corpses whilst a sentry was on duty may well have been the recipient of a well placed rifle shot for their troubles. Scattered around the hill there are many ancient unreadable grave markers as well as some newer ones dating back to the 1600’s. So if you do happen to be in this neck of the woods, do try to stop by. Its not something you will come across very often and is well worth a visit.