The Pinnacle on Carriadaggan Hill, Carrigbyrne,
Co Wexford was build by landowner General Robert Browne-Clayton. He built
the 94ft Corinthian column on a square pedestal base in honour of a fallen
comrade with whom he fought with in the Napoleonic wars in Egypt in 1801.
It was hit by lightning a number of years back
and was in desperate need of restore. The World Monuments Fund and Wexford
County Council provided the funding.
The original stone was quarried in Mount
Leinster and constructed in 1839. The architect was Thomas Cobden who
designed buildings in Carlow including Carlow Cathedral.
“It’s a fine example of the architecture by
Thomas Cobden and is the only column of its kind to be accessed in the
inside in the world,” said Michael Purcell, Carlow Heritage Society.
“It highlights the architects work and how his
work has survived. The other connection is the Browne-Claytons, a Carlow
family since 1640 who were well regarded by the people of Carlow as
generous and caring landowners particularly during the famine period.”
The last remaining Browne-Clayton member to
live in Carlow unveiled the monument. Robert Browne-Clayton a descendant
of the General left Carlow when he was 10 in 1953. The family moved to
Galway and later resettled in England.
The monument can be seen just off the N25
route between Wexford and New Ross
- Thursday, December 30, 2004 - The Nationalist Archives
- The column and the affects of lightning strike
Image source: World Monuments Fund Britain 2009
Nationalist Archives Thursday, March 06, 2003 :
One of our most
ornamental landscape structures.
It is more years than I care to remember since
I first saw the Browne Clayton Column as we drove along the Wexford / New
It set me wondering, even at what was a fairly
early age, what it was, what was it doing there, apparently in the middle
of nowhere and visible for miles around.
It was many years after that I decided to find
out what I could about it and that I investigated its history. Perhaps
what gave me added interest was the fact that I had discovered it had
The Browne Clayton Column is considered one of
the most ornamental landscape structures to be found in Ireland. Erected
on a square pedestal, which itself is situated on a tall outcrop of rock,
south of the Wexford/New Ross road. Perhaps there is some irony in the
fact that it is erected near Carrigbyrne, one of the strongholds of the
pike-men in 1798, and home to a great group who represented the area in
the 1998 commemorations.
Further details of the Column itself.
It was constructed in 1839 to the design of an
English architect Thomas Cobden, and was commissioned by a local landowner
General Robert Browne Clayton, to commemorate a victory by the British
over the French in northern Egypt in 1801. Robert Browne was a member of
the wealthy Anglo-Irish family whose principal seat was at Browne’s Hill
near Carlow town. He adopted his second surname in 1829, on his marriage
to Henreitta Clayton, the only child of Sir Richard Clayton of Lancashire.
An interesting piece of history concerning Robert Browne, which has
nothing to do with the Column, but I think it is worth telling, is that in
1794, this was before the Egyptian Campaign, he was stationed with his
regiment the 12th Light Dragoons near Rome. It was during this time and
while still a major, that he received an audience with Pope Pius VI, who
ceremonially placed a Dragoon helmet on Browne’s head with the prayer that
truth and religion might triumph over injustice and infidelity. A painting
of this ceremony was later made by James Northcote RA and is still in the
Calvary Club in London.
Like so many other Pillars and Temples which
we find dotted around the country, there are several in county Carlow, it
is thought that the Browne Clayton Column was a copy of a pillar somewhere
in Egypt. Actually the Browne Clayton Column was a copy of a monumental
Roman column in Alexandria, which was well known to both the British and
French armies at the time. This ‘Pillar’ was known as ‘Pompeys Pillar’ not
only by the British and the French but by many of the merchants who passed
through Alexandria on trade missions during those days. As a matter of
fact the Column had nothing to do with Pompey, although his tomb is in
Alexandria, but had been erected in 296AD to commemorate Diocletian’s
victory over Domitian. 89 feet in height, the Wexford column is a foot
taller than the one in Alexandria and another big difference between the
column’s is that the Wexford column has an internal staircase, while the
column in Egypt is solid. Column’s, or pillars of victory as they were
known as, have a long history going back to the days of ancient Rome.
The amount of work that went into this column
at that time is truly amazing. The fact that the column stands alone puts
it into a category far removed from the ordinary round tower, although
they too, were fine feats of workmanship. The Browne Clayton Column is
classed as part of this architectural tradition. The Browne Clayton Column
is one of the most remarkable, of the many ornamental landscape structures
constructed in Ireland during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth
Another connection with Carlow is that it is
likely that the brown granite facings were got from Carlow. The spiral
staircase leads from a doorway on the south side up to a platform at the
top of the column, which was used as base for the Flagstaff.
Another connecting link with Carlow was the
architect who built the column. Thomas Cobden. Although probably of
English birth he spent much of his working life based in Carlow from which
he carried out a lot of work in south Leinster, mainly for churches and
country houses. He enjoyed a reputation for building tall elegant masonry
structures such as church towers and spires.
His work in the town of Carlow includes the
Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Presbyterian Church and the spire of the
Church of Ireland Church. It is thought that Cobden settled in Carlow
because two of his most important clients were the Brownes and the
As the column in Wexford would look bare
without some adornment Cobden added some figures around the base. Nine
uniformed dragoons are standing around with the figure that is probably
the architect, in frock coat and top hat concentrating on a drawing board.
We are told that after its erection flags were
flown on certain days and at certain times to commemorate events in the
battle of Alexandria and on one particular day each year, the 28th March,
the Union flag was flown at half mast on the anniversary of the death of
For those who like to combine a bit of history
with leisure a picnic at the Column on your way to the sea should prove
Author unknown (possibly Willie White)
Read more about the Browne Clayton family of Browne's Hill, Co. Carlow