Lord Bandon’s Tower in Ireland’s County Cork

Lord Bandon's Tower in Ireland's County Cork

Lord Bandon’s Tower in Ireland’s County Cork.

With more than 30,000 castles, from ruins to 5-star hotels throughout the Irish countryside, you might wander upon this scene on County Cork’s Sheep’s Head Peninsula and think you’re looking at a relic from Medieval times… but you’d be WRONG!

This ornamental tower is known as Lord Bandon’s Tower, built in 1847 as part of a famine relief project. Dunmanus Bay and the Mizen Peninsula are the backdrop for this image.

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The tower also frequently is called “Lord Bandon’s Folly,” referring to the architectural term for a building constructed essentially for decorative purposes, frequently just to underscore the landowner’s appearance of wealth and success.

During the famine years, 1845 to 1849, many follies were built in Ireland to provide work for the poor. These “famine follies” were seen as a way to give peasants and the otherwise unemployed a way to earn a meager living, without taking jobs away from existing workers.

Any practical purpose of a folly was secondary to creating work, which is why many follies appear to have no useful purpose. Examples of these projects included roads built in the middle of nowhere, piers in the middle of bogs, etc.

There’s actually an organization based in the U.K. and  dedicated to preserving and restoring these projects for architectural posterity… It’s called “The Folly Fellowship.”

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