Situated on a rocky outcrop at Carrigbyrne, the colossal Corinthian Browne-Clayton Column rises 94 feet above its square pedestal base. It was commissioned by local landlord General Robert Browne Clayton in 1839 to commemorate Sir Ralph Abercromby, once commander of the British forces in Ireland. Abercromby went on to play a decisive role in the military campaign to prevent Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt, and died in 1801 near Alexandria. The design of the Browne Clayton Column is based on the first century B.C. Roman column at Alexandria that commemorates the conquest of Egypt by Pompey. In addition to this historic symbolism, the column was intended to be a spectacular folly feature in the Wexford countryside. For nearly two centuries, the column required little maintenance, until December 1995 when it was struck by lightning and the entire column was fractured. While the structure remained relatively stable following the lightning strike, the column was made extremely vulnerable to additional threats due to the damage.
How We Helped
After the lightning strike, an engineering survey of the damage was conducted. A scaffolding tower was constructed, in line with recommendations of the survey, to provide a working platform as well as temporary stabilization. The Samuel H. Kress Foundation provided support to WMF to begin a conservation program. . Subsequent support through the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage matched funds from several English and Irish donors. These efforts led to the successful stabilization and restoration of the Browne Clayton Monument.
Why It Matters
The design of the Browne Clayton Monument is based on a Roman column erected at Alexandria in the first century B.C. to commemorate the conquest of Egypt by Pompey. Its Irish parallel, the Nelson Column in Dublin, no longer survives.