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A Survey of Monuments of Archaeological and Historical Interest in the Barony of Bunratty Lower, Co. Clare by William Gerrard Ryan
 

Part 4: Castles and tower houses c.1500
Chapter 38: Kilfinaghta Parish

BALLYARRILA CASTLE (i.e. Tower House) (Site of)

Nat. Grid Ref. R387662; ½” Sheet 17

R.C. Parish : Sixmilebridge - Kilmurry
Townland : Mountievers
6” O.S. Sheet number : 52 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 18.6 cm North; 33.1 cm West
Height (G.L.) : 100’ O.D.
1” O.S. Sheet number : 133 (Sixmilebridge)

While speaking about Mount Ievers Court, an early eighteenth century Queen Anne style house, the following is stated by Guinness & Ryan (London, 1971, pages 55 – 56):-
“… Henry Ivers either bought or built the castle illustrated by Dineley, which is typical of the high square tower forts (i.e. tower houses) that are scattered across the Irish landscape. Its name was Ballyrella (or Ballyarrila) but neither builder nor date is known for certain. A stone fireplace dated 1648 was saved from the castle when it was pulled down and now adorns the entrance hall at Mount Ievers, but the castle probably existed before this. Henry’s son John inherited in 1691… It was he who changed the family name to Ievers. He died in 1731 and, shortly after, his son Henry pulled down the old castle which had no doubt by then been made more commodious than it appears in Dineley’s sketch, and began to build the present house…”

Dineley’s Journal, on a tour of Ireland (1680) contains a pen drawing showing Ballyarrilla and neighbouring tower houses. A copy of it is reproduced below.

Source:
Frost, 1893, Page 539.
(Extract from: “Dineley’s Journal”, 1680).

The above cited view that the present, impressive, Mount Ievers Court (see Section 5: “Later Historical sites of interest”) is on the site of the old tower house is supported by:-
“… The house (i.e. Mount Ievers Court) which replaced an old castle…” (Source: Mark B. Jones, 1978, page 214).

Date:
This site as stated previously was levelled in c. 1735 but when was it built? There is no recorded evidence of its erection but in all probability it was constructed around 1470 A.D., in common with other local tower houses.

In 1580, according to the College List, it was the property of Bryan son of Daniel Roe, Mac Namara (Frost, 1893, page 63).

The fact that a cut-stone fireplace was inserted in the site around 1648 A.D. shows occupation continued to that date, at least. I feel however such occupation may have continued to the time of its destruction in c. 1735 when the Ievers family found it unsuitable and built the present house.

REFERENCES

Frost,
1893, page 63 and 365 (Drawing)
Guinness & Ryan,
1971, pages 55 and 56 (Full title: “Irish Houses and Castles”)
Bence-Jones,
1978, page 214 (Full title: “Burke’s Guide to the Country Houses, Volume 1: Ireland).
 

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