Home page

Kilkenny round tower

  McCarthy's Monument, Cork

Blackrock Road, Cork city, Ireland
McCarthy's Monument is an isolated unlabeled obelisk for which there are several origin stories. The structure was built in the 1870's; and besides that (which may not be true,) there is no concensus about its provenance.

It stands now on the sidelot of a small industrial building in an old residential neighborhood at the top of a small cliff above the alluvial plain of the River Lee, the old Marina, downstream from the Viking/Norman city center.

"McCarthy's Folly," as the owner of the property in 2009 called it, is about 25 feet tall. Constructed of local limestone blocks, it's decorated with porcelain tiles and copper medalions and small gargoyles that don't spout water. Four bronze plaques disappeared long ago.

In 1982, just after Ian bought the property for his refractory-services business, somebody slipped underneath his door a sheet of paper handwritten on one side. He said that the text in the document is all that he knew about the structure, although he did mention some details that were not in the document (which he photocopied for me.)

I also spoke with an elderly man who said he had lived in the neighborhood for 52 years. Between the two of them, I heard several origin hypotheses for the tower:

  • Commemoration of a dog, which some had proposed was buried within. But Ian said that vandals had broken into the monument and that there had been no dog.

  • Commemoration of the victims of a disaster at the "amethyst mine," the nearby limestone quarry that contained some amethyst, which is why they call the area Diamond Hill.

  • In honor of the erector Alexander McCarthy's brother, the Lord Mayor of the Ballintemple district (where the monument stands.)

  • Commemoration of William Penn, (of Pennsylvania fame,) who spent some time in Cork.

  • Commemoration of (again) a dog — but in this case by several families.