The Browne-Clayton Monument
The Browne-Clayton Monument is a 94 ft 4in Corinthian column on a square pedestal base on Carrigadaggan Hill, Carrigbyrne, County Wexford. It was built not in memory of Browne-Clayton as the name suggests but was built by General Robert Browne-Clayton in commemoration of Sir Ralph Abercrombie, his commanding officer in Egypt.
The Browne-Clayton Monument is the only internally accessible Corinthian column in existence and is thus a unique architectural landmark. It was built of Mount Leinster granite and contains an internal staircase leading to the Capitol, from which an impressive view of the surrounding country-side can be obtained. Its construction commenced in 1839 and was completed in 1841. The design replicates the monument known as Pompey's Pillar in Alexandria, Egypt, which is approximately 10 feet lower in height. The Monument was designed by the renowned architect, Thomas Cobden, who is most famous for the design of the gothic Cathedral in Carlow Town as well as the Ducketts Grove near Tullow, County Carlow.
The monument was built by General Robert Browne-Clayton of Carrigbyrne in commemoration of Sir Ralph Abercrombie who was his commanding officer with whom he fought and was victorious in the Egyptian battles in 1801 against Napoleon. It was at these battles that Abercrombie was mortally wounded. The local name for it is 'Browne's Nonsense" as legend has it that Browne originally built it in memory of his son - thought to be killed in battle but who turned up alive and well shortly after completion of the pillar.
These events have given the column international historical significance and created huge international interest in the restoration project.
On 29 December 1994 the column was struck by lightning and considerable damage was caused to the capital and the top ⅓ of the column, in which a large gaping hole was made. The internal stairway was blocked by falling rock and debris.
Wexford Monument Trust Ltd. was formed as a limited company in December, 2001, with the objectives of acquiring, restoring and repairing the Browne-Clayton Monument. The Trust consists of representatives from the Wexford County Council, the World Monuments Fund in Britain, and An Taisce.
The restoration commenced with the drawing up of a conservation report in July 2002. This recommended that the repairs be done in two phases. The emergency phase 1 was completed in November, 2002. It consisted of making a temporary access route to the column, strengthening of the column with supporting scaffolding and the removal of the capitol and almost one third of the shaft.
Phase 2, the completion phase, commenced in July 2003. This consisted of stone masonry work to either replace or repair damaged stone and then the re-assembly of the shaft and capitol and was completed in November 2003.
As part of the restoration direct access along a dedicated pathway from the public road was acquired. The lands on which the Monument is situated are also in the ownership of the Trust. This involved the purchase of the land on which the Monument is situated as well as a pathway leading from the public road to this land.
- Total No. of Sections: 78.
- No. of Sections of the Capitol: 9.
- Weight of Repaired Capitol: 32 tonnes.
- Weight of each shaft section (ashlar +rubble): 3.5 tons