Outside Kells, Co. Meath stands an unusual landmark; what appears to be a lighthouse 30 miles inland on a hill. This is the Tower, or Spire of Loyd, built in 1791 by the 2nd Earl of Bective (known as the First Marquess of Headfort), Thomas Taylour. It is built in the form of a giant Doric column with a glazed lantern on top and stands 30m (100ft) high. From the top there are spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, with views as far as the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down on a clear day.
|Tower of Loyd|
There are numerous theories as to why the tower was built; the main theory is that it commemorates the First Marquess' father also called Thomas Taylor, 1st Earl of Bective. It has also been called a folly as some think it was built to provide emploment at a time of economic hardship, but is not related to the Famine follies around the country as it pre-dates the Famine by 60 years, even though there is a paupers graveyard located nearby. It was also used to view horse racing and the hunt in the nineteenth century and also to admire the surrounding views.
|image courtesy buildingsofireland.ie|
The nearby Paupers Graveyard also on the Hill of Loyd dates from May 1851 and many paupers were buried here either as direct or indirect victims of the Famine. There was a need at the time for a new graveyard for the town of Kells as the main cemetery was full at this stage, and the site at Loyd was chosen as it was just outside the town. It would also avoid the removal of bodies from the Workhouse without 'parading' them through the town centre and possibly further spreading cholera & other diseases to the inhabitants. The area encompassing the tower and cemetery is now used under happier circumstances as a People's Park with playground facilities, picnic tables and a ring fort walk. It is also only open to the public during Heritage Week so if you get to go up on a clear day it's a great treat!