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Romeo One One watchtower, Courtney Mountain, Lislea, South Armagh, Northern Ireland, UK.

Although watchtowers were also erected in other border and some city areas, only in South Armagh is there such a concentration. Their genesis lay in the early Army practice of setting up static observation posts (OPs) on high ground to monitor the routes between Crossmaglen and the border.

In 1600, Lord Mountjoy defeated Hugh O’Neill and secured the Gap of the North, by then also known as Moyry Pass, for the English. But o’Neill did not relinquish the pass without a fight and he would regularly ambush the tail ends of Mountjoy’s patrols; the English soldiers would be beheaded and sent back to Mountjoy with their bodies strapped to their horses. In response, Mounjoy burned acres of forest to deprive the woodkerne (Irish footsoldiers) of their cover. Mountjoy was the first invader to fight through the winter and to build permanent garrisons, which were the forerunners of the modern watchtowers; principal of these was Moyry Castle, built on the hill commanding Moyry pass.