The construction, survival, and use of signal defensible guard houses on the Irish coast /
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In the first decade of the 19th century a new system of 81 military signal stations were constructed around the Irish coast. At 74 signal stations, purpose-built signal defensible guard houses were constructed, and some sites also featured stone walled enclosures and/or small storage buildings and outhouses. Four signal stations were added to existing fortifications or lighthouses, and three signal stations were incorporated into newly constructed Martello towers. All of the signal stations featured free-standing signal masts. The signal stations were commissioned in 1803, became fully operational by 1805, and were decommissioned in a piecemeal fashion between 1809 and 1816. A detailed historical review examines the political, military and technological contexts which influenced the construction Irish Signal Stations. Contemporary letters and illustrations provided important new information about the construction and operation of the signal stations. The signal stations were found to have utilised existing naval signal techniques, and not, as had been previously implied, to relate to the newly developed telegraph systems. The possibility that the design of the signal defensible guard houses was adapted from an older Mediterranean signal tower design was explored. Detailed surveys were undertaken at the signal stations in the provinces of Connacht and Ulster. The signal stations in Leinster and Munster were examined through a detailed desk-based study, in order to examine any possible regional differences. The signal stations throughout Ireland were found to be very consistent in terms of their design, construction methods and building materials. Significant differences were identified between Connacht and Ulster, where structural survival was relatively high and secondary use of the sites was rare; Leinster, where structural survival was very poor and secondary use of the sites was rare; and Munster, where structural survival was also relatively high and secondary use of the sites was common.
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