A visit to the Hill of Allen
A first-ever visit to the Hill of Allen during Heritage Week, 2013, led me to consult my old copy of "Bongmans Eatin Course." "Bongmans" started life as "Longmans Latin Course," but since its first public appearance in schoolrooms, the book title invariably received such a manuscript amendment in smudgy ink on its stiff board covers.
Gerald George Aylmer (1798-1878), 8th Baronet of Donadea, and who constructed the tower, combined a degree of religious fervour with classical learning, judging from the relief inscriptions on its outside.
"Omne Bonum Dei Donum" (All Good Things come in the Gift of God)
"Nisi Quia Dominus" (If the Lord Himself … had not been on our side), the opening line of Psalm 124.
"Qualis Vita Finis Ita" (As is the Life, so is the End)
"Si Deus Quis Contra" (Si Deus pro nobis quis contra nos … If God is not with us, who is against us)
"Lux venis Ab Alto" (Light comes from Above)
"Astra Castra" (The Stars are my Camp) … The complete epigram is Astra Castra Numen Lumen – The Stars are my Camp, the Deity my Light.
"Quod Tibi Id Altieri" (What you mean and You are That)
"Sine Cruce Sine Luce" (Without the Cross, Without Light)
"Hallelujah", not of Latin origin, was the family motto of the Donadea Aylmers
It seems that a long-disappeared brass plate had the following Latin inscription: "G. G. A. 1860. Exegi Monumentum Oere Perennius." (I executed a lasting monument) which is slightly at odds with the stone "1859" inscription over the entrance door.
The following inscription appears on the inside wall at the viewing platform :
"In thankful remembrance of God’s mercies, many and great – built by Sir Gerald George Aylmer Baronet A.D. 1860."
A long-eroded inscription on the outside base stones recorded: "Sept 16th, 1861, H.R.H, the Prince of Wales ascended this Tower."
Looking down at the ‘disappeared’ part of the Hill confirmed one of the prophecies of St. Columcille that "The Hill of Allen would be brought to the four corners of Ireland."
Declan O’Connor’s visit to the Hill of Allen brought to mind the prophecy of St. Columcille. Our thanks to Declan