County Clare

Friday 10 July

Tyrrellspass, Co Westmeath has a D-shaped village green (N415378). There are some very fine houses, possibly l8th century. St Sinian's Church (CoI) dates from 1792 and has a tower and spire. The main tower is flanked by one-storey projections and all the towers have square corner finials, each with four carved heads. Inside the church on the south wall near the east end is a large early 19th century memorial to the Earl of Belvedere. To the right of the church is the old schoolhouse of 1823 which has a double gabled front. To the left of the church is a building topped by a bell and a clock. There is a village pump in the middle of the green. The castle, which is now a museum and restaurant, was noted in passing (N412373).

The ruins of a round castle (N382368) were investigated. It is vaulted above the ground floor which is divided into four rooms. A broad mural stairway rises to above the vault. The parapet here is very regular indicating the possibility that the castle was never more than one storey high. There is a good entrance in the west and the very thick wall has a good base batter. The castle is set within a small bawn on top of a hill. Nearby are the overgrown remains of a small church which were not closely inspected.

Near Kilbeggan the Grand Canal harbour in Skeahanagh td (N345348) is now under restoration. It features a very fine two-storey building ten bays long and a harbourmasters cottage (2 storey 3 bay). At the rear of the main building is a fine crane made by Spence, Dublin.

At Shannonbridge, on the Co Offaly side (M970254), is a navigation house probably designed by Thomas Omer in the early 19th century. On the Co Roscommon side (M966254) is a large fort with a number of bastions. Within it is a large blockhouse containing four dwellings. It is possibly late l8th century. The main road goes through the fort.

The church of Kilconnell Friary (M733315) is aligned almost W-E. There is a good west doorway surmounted by a three-light traceried window. Access to the church is through a small south doorway. The west doorway is a pointed arch of two orders with hood moulding. The nave has a south aisle of two arches and the south transept has a west aisle and an east chapel. There is a south sacristy near the east end and a central tower. At the west end of the nave in the north wall is a very fine tomb with a traceried hood flanked by two tall finials which have some fine carved figures. The hood is surmounted by two figures one of which is St Francis (with stigmata). The table of the tomb has very fine weepers. On the north wall of the chancel is another fine tomb with a traceried hood but plain table. There is a good four-light east window. In the transept is a good double piscina with quatrefoil basins and another piscina in the east chapel has round basins. The transept has a good three-light south window. Two of the corbels supporting the tower have carved angels and higher up under the tower is a very fine owl. The tower may be climbed to above the crossing. The cloister-garth to the north of the church is surrounded by many buildings and part of the cloister arcade has been reconstructed. There are a number of very fine mason's marks visible on many of the larger stones. On the outside of the south window of the east chapel are some carved rosettes and pecked decoration.
Saturday 11 July
Clare Abbey (R350758) has a fairly plain long church aligned approximately NW-SE, with a good three-light SE window. The central tower is inaccessible. The cloister-garth is to the south of the church but there are no remains of the arcade. There is a good bullaun-stone here. One of the buildings flanking the cloister has a good two-light SW window. There are no visible carvings inside the church but on the outside of a NE window of the nave is a small weathered mask and a rosette.
At Clarecastle (R356744) just beside the bridge is a round castle with an attached rectangular section. It is about three storeys high. The round section is vaulted above the first floor and the deep window recesses are brick lined. There is also some brick in the vault. The rectangular section is well protected by small defensive loops. It stands beside a large three-storey house and behind this is another three-storey, ten-bay house.
Clarecastle Railway Station (R360746) was examined. It is a single-storey structure 4 bays long, with the outer bays breaking forward and back with gabled facades. There was a passing loop here and also a small goods siding. The station closed in 1963.

Quin Friary is closed to the public at present (R420746). It is an extensive ruin sitting on the remains of a large four-towered castle. The round foundations of the towers are easily visible but the interior of the friary could not be inspected. Just across the river is the ruin of St Finghin's Church which dates from the late l3th century.

The inauguration mound of Magh Adhair was inspected (R444771). This mound is greatly overgrown and is surrounded by a substantial bank and ditch. The full extent and nature of the mound could not be determined. In the field beside it is a very fine standing stone, about 2m high and slablike.
A fragment of a castle near Rosslara Lough was viewed briefly (R532816). The remains of two walls about two storeys high stand on top of a small mound. It was possibly vaulted above ground floor.

The mill at O'Callaghansmills (R540770) was built in 1772. The wheel is l4ft diameter and 4ft wide. It is no longer working and restoration work is no longer in progress. There were possibly three pairs of stones.
A fragment of a castle near Kilkishen (R487723) was viewed from the roadside. One corner is completely missing and this collapse may be recent. The doorway in the east wall is protected by a machicolation at roof level. There may have been a vault above the third floor.
Sunday 12 July

The churchyard at Kilmihil (R110640) has a good collection of mortuary houses as well as a ruined church. There is a good collection of 19th century stones many of which have crucifixions. One of these has a central crucifixion flanked by 30 pieces of silver. Underneath are pincers, nails and a hammer. There are also spears, flying angels, a bird and cauldron, sun and moon. It dates from 1827.

The fort at Kilkerin Point (R095506) is a subrectangular structure bounded by a massive earthen bank and deep ditch, both stone-lined. Along the western edge are six D-shaped gun-sites. Close to this edge is a small strong-house, partly underground, which may be the magazine. Along the eastern edge of the fort is a massive rectangular blockhouse, three storeys high. Beside it is evidence that the pit had been spanned by a drawbridge.
Carrigaholt Castle (Q849510) stands to full height and is possibly five storeys high. There is a good wall bartizan near the top NW corner. The door in the east is protected by a good machicolation at roof level. Above the doorway is a large rectangular double slit in the wall which may have had the same function as a murder-hole. Inside is a proper murder-hole. To the right is a small guard-chamber with good wicker-marks in the roof. A series of small brick-arched structures within this room may indicate that it was used as a store room in later years. To the left of the doorway a broad spiral stairway leads from a small vestibule. A blocked doorway in the west wall led to a section of the castle which no longer exists. The castle is a tall narrow structure with each level containing only a small room and the stairs. It is vaulted above the ground floor and above the third floor. The fireplace above the second vault is dated 1603 and has initials DB. There is access to the bartizan at this level. Gable-marks in the south wall indicate a missing structure which was at least three storeys high. Some of the window openings in this wall appear to be modified doorways. This southward extension would have projected beyond the east wall over an area where the sea-cliff has collapsed. This may account for the disappearance of this section of the building. The bawn wall is extensive but much of it may be of little antiquity.
Monday 13 July
Gleninagh Castle (M193103) is locked at present. It is an L-shaped building with a spiral stairway in the shorter section. The doorway, within the angle of the L, is protected by a wall bartizan. There are corner bartizans at roof level at the three corners away from the stairway. There are many corner defensive slits as well as other slits and two-light windows. Nearby is a Holy Well. Another roadside well with an elaborate cover was viewed. This is the Pinnacle Well (M201097).

Newtown Castle (M216064) is a round castle on a pyramidal base. There are remains of four machicolations at roof level. The doorway is in the base of the east wall and there are some two-light windows. To the right of the doorway is a small guard-chamber. Ahead is a large circular vaulted room with very good traces of wicker centering. There are no obvious window openings. The entrance to this room is through a door at the base of the stairs. The large gap opposite the outer doorway is modern. A curving mural stairway rises to the left. It very quickly changes to a spiral and ascends to roof level. The stairwell intrudes into the rooms at each level. There is another vault above the second floor. The levels above each vault are lit by many windows. A chimney-stack rises in the north wall. The castle is five storeys high.
The lintel at the entrance to Cathair Mhor in Ballyallaban (M220043) has been displaced and the fort is greatly overgrown, particularly with hazel.
The roadside wedge-grave in Gleninsheen was viewed (M230023). This is a very regular box-like structure about 3m long by lm square. There is no trace of a cairn. A little to the north are the remains of two other wedge-graves. The portal-grave at Poulnabrone (M236003) was viewed in passing.

Leamaneh Castle (R235935) has a machicolation at roof level, guarding the east doorway and inside is a very fine murder-hole. To the right of the doorway is a large guard-chamber and to the left rises a good spiral stairway. The doorway ahead leads to a large l7th century house of four storeys with many large mullioned windows and a very fine wall bartizan at second floor in the SW corner. A projection at the NW may have held the stairs but there is no visible proof of this. There are fireplaces at the west and east walls of the mansion. The front doorway is in the middle of the south wall. There are good slopstones under the windows of the spiral stairway. There are also small hinge-stones here, probably for shutters. There are many examples of the large "hanging-eye" hinge-stones throughout the tower. There is a vault above ground floor and above the fourth floor. There is only one small room at each level. One of the corbels which supported the second floor has a decorative knot. Others have pecked decoration. There is some knotwork on the outside of some of the small windows as well as some rosettes.

Kilfenora Church and Crosses were viewed (R182939). The Doorty Cross has a small ringed head and figure carving on both sides. In the field a short distance to the west is another cross of similar basic design with geometric and knotwork panels on both sides. The fine three-light east window of the church has some good carving. On either side of the window is an effigy slab. In the south wall is a double piscina with quatrefoil basins. On the north wall is a slab with the incised figure of a bishop.
Doon Fort (R169927) is large but greatly damaged. It appears to be a circular fort but only part of the bank may be seen. The platform is cut by a field boundary and the fort is very greatly overgrown. At least half of it is bounded by a wide ditch.

Ballynalacken Castle (M103003) sits on a large rock. It is in two sections. The higher section is possibly 5 storeys high and the lower section possibly 4 storeys with a gabled attic. The east entrance is through the taller section. There are bartizans in the middle of the west and north walls and a machicolation protects the doorway. The large entrance is through a short wide passage. A spiral stairway rises on the right and there is a guard-chamber on the left. Straight ahead is a large room. There is a half vault above the ground floor and a full vault above the first floor. Access to the upper levels was not possible. There is a good base batter and a possible latrine-chute exit at the base of the south wall. There are good traces of a bawn wall around the edge of the rock and the gateway was protected by a bartizan.
Tuesday 14 July

Corcomroe Abbey (M294088), in Abbeywest, has a long rectangular church divided by a thick wall surmounted by a slim tower. At the east end there is good vaulting and the three lancet east windows are surmounted by a single small lancet. On the left is a possible double sedilia with decorated columns. Beside this is a tomb-niche with a recumbent figure. Opposite is another decorated double sedilia. The chancel-arch has columns with decorated capitals and bases. There are north and south aisles, a south chapel and possibly a north chapel. There are excellent wicker-marks in the south chapel. The cloister-garth is to the south of the church but there are no remains of the arcade. There is a string course on the east gable level with the window tops and at each corner is a little dog facing downwards.
The entrance to the souterrain in Mortyclogh (M281120) is now greatly overgrown and the souterrain could not be explored. Lios Mothair Ti Cloch (M279108) is a very fine rath with a good inner bank and platform, and a substantial ditch. It is about 50m across. There are a number of gaps but the entrance is not clear. In the NE quadrant is the entrance to a souterrain. This is very low and further exploration was not possible.
Doansheedy Fort (M390108) is about 45m diameter and has an incomplete bank. There are traces of a ditch on the north side with a possible entrance in the west. A large amount of small stones lying in the ditch could be the remains of a cashel wall or possibly field clearance.

Drumharsna Castle (M437106) is locked at present. It is about 5 storeys high. The pointed doorway in the east wall is protected by a machicolation at roof level. There are a number of small slits including corner slits and a large window about second floor in the south wall. There is a large gap in the south wall through which it can be seen that the castle is vaulted above ground floor. There are some very good wicker-marks. A murder-hole protects the doorway to the right of which is a guard-chamber and to the left a spiral stairway. There is a latrine-chute exit at the base of the north wall. There is a gable mark on the north wall but no obvious connection between the castle and the missing building. There are chimneys on the north and west walls and a gable on the west wall.
Doon Fort (M478128) is a massive earthen structure with three surrounding banks and ditches. The inner banks are very high. There is a great deal of undergrowth which makes estimation of size very difficult but the inner platform is at least 50m diameter. Off centre is the entrance to a souterrain which was not explored on this occasion. A trench and some lintels indicate a possible second and third souterrain.

Castle Taylor (M466141) consists of a tower-house attached to a later mansion. The doorway in the north wall is protected by a wall bartizan/murder-slit. The stairway rises to the left of the doorway and has good pecked decoration. There is a small chamber and good passages at the first floor. There is a large chamber above the vault and then a second vault. The stairway changes to a spiral at the higher levels and a small turret rises above the roof level. There are two large three-light windows in the east wall which were probably inserted at the same time as the three-storey mansion was attached on the west. The windows have traceried tops which are lighter than the mullions. The west end of the mansion breaks forward to balance the tower-house. There is an extensive courtyard to the south of the house and possibly l8th century stables nearby. There is an interesting rusticated gate lodge with Gothick windows and doors.
Seefin Castle (M543178), near Craughwell, is half ruined. The eastern half is about four storeys high and contains the remains of a spiral stairway and small chambers. There is a sharp division between this section and the western half which is mainly rubble. The castle was vaulted above ground floor level.