October 2 – March 29, 2019
Reception Date January 4, 2019
Martello Towers dot the coast of Dublin and then more sporadically the coast of Ireland. They have been in my peripheral vision since we first started visiting our family in Dublin fifty years ago. Though they have been ever-present it is only in the last few years that I have come to know more about the history and intended use of the Martello Towers.
After deciding to document these beautifully situated structures I purchased a tiny book published in the 70s by Victor J. Enoch, an American man who had owned and lived in a Martello Tower in Killiney, South Dublin. My initial intent was to find out where all the towers stood, to have a road map. However this small book provided me with information well beyond location.
Prior to reading this publication my knowledge as a child was none, not even the name of them. Then as a young adult the fact that Bono from U2 bought and lived in a Martello Tower made me much more conscious of their existence. Years passed, and Bono moved out of his tower. I then had the idea to document a different kind of structure in Ireland but my cousin Ann quickly redirected me to the Martello Towers for which I am ever grateful.
Ann O’Laoghaire told me in no uncertain terms that the Martello Towers were a much more interesting project because of how varied their uses are currently. Some are homes, others are museums–including the James Joyce Museum where Ulysses began from, tower number 11 in Sandycove–and many are derelict. They are all numbered.
The towers were originally built in 1804-1805 to defend against a Napoleonic invasion by sea. Napoleon never came and Victor J. Enoch’s book informs that the towers did in fact deter what seemed to be the inevitable. The Martello Towers were built closely together so as to function as signal towers. When standing at one you will surely see at least one other. In Dublin you will see one to the left and one to the right. There are more in other countries too but Ireland is the filter through which I chose to document the towers.
Documenting each tower has been its own adventure, traveling by land and by sea to reach them has all been quite remarkable. The information people have shared, the help people have given me and the moments of awe as I stand solitary in the presence of these historical, coastal towers has been an honor. I have four towers left to document and when my project is complete I will have captured all 37 remaining towers in Ireland.
Tricia O’Neill has been making photographs since the 1970’s. She formalized her love of photography by completing a fine arts degree at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in 2007. Tricia studied film photography and digital photography at the SMFA, rendering her a versatile photographer with knowledge of both analog and digital photography. Tricia also studied the art of hand lettering at Butera School of Art and founded the company Signs Unique in 1986. Photography and the completion of a fine art degree are fitting extensions of Tricia’s creative endeavors. Tricia’s years behind the brush–painting signs and murals–informs her photography.
Tricia works in a documentary style. Her work has been exhibited throughout the Northeast, in solo shows, juried shows, group shows and is in private collections.