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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 44: St. Patrick's Parish (Part of)

DRUMMIN TOWER HOUSE

Nat. Grid Ref. R576627; ½” Sheet 17

Photo 1: A copy of a 1912 photograph showing the now levelled site as it survived at that time
Photo 1: A copy of a 1912 photograph showing the now levelled site as it survived at that time

R.C. Parish : Meelick - Parteen
Townland : Drummin
6” O.S. Sheet number : 53 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 7.2 cm South; 26.8 cm West
Height (G.L.) : 190’ O.D.
1” O.S. Sheet number : 143 (Limerick)

DRUMMIN TOWER HOUSE

Here we have an interesting site, of interest in the sense that though largely levelled a deal of local information is available on it. Such knowledge gives information as to its principal features in the early decades of the twentieth century.

What do we know of this site? Field examination found that only trace of the site’s western wall now survives, to a height of 3 metres (Photo 3), the other walls having been levelled at earlier periods. Locals say there were two reasons for destroying this Tower House: a) they felt, being as it was next to a road, that it could be a source of danger, e.g. if it collapsed. However b) is the more likely reason. During the interwar years cut-stone was very scarce and for this reason the site was gradually knocked down. An examination of outhouses, walls, posts, etc. in this region all yielded evidence of cut-stone similar to that still to be found in the site’s surviving part of the west wall.

Fortunately a number of early twentieth century photos survive on this site. Locals allowed me to make copies of the two most interesting and these I now incorporate in the thesis (Photos 1 and 2). What do they tell us about the site? Firstly Photo 1 is a view of Drummin Tower House as it existed in 1912. Using this and local information we can state the following. The main entrance to the site was from the east via a presumably stone cut doorway. However there was no knowledge of such a feature having survived at the site to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. In fact as Photo 2 shows (dated to 1928) of the site’s four walls the eastern one was then in the worst condition. It only survived to a height of 1.50 metres and the local farmer had made use of this. This wall had been whitewashed, a sloping galvanised iron roof erected to the west wall and a low timber door placed in the position of the original entrance. Two narrow slitted windows existed in this low wall in the 1920’s both being some 1 metre high and 7 – 10 cm wide. What was this low building, partly visible in the left of Photo 2, used for? As a pig sty and remained in use as such to the 1930s.

The northern wall was said to have had no features of special interest. It was about 10 metres high and partly covered by ivy. The south wall is clearly represented in Photo 1. A bush grew against this wall and its presence may be blocking a window space. The west wall is the only one that now survives though is only 3 metres in height (Photo 3). Formerly it was some 10 metres high and as handball was played against its face it was almost entirely ivy free.

What of the site’s interior? There was little information available on this. Locals said it had a flagged floor. However of much more interest is the statement that traces of cut-stone steps were visible in the sites south-east wall until that area was knocked down during the 1930s. This would seem to suggest that the guardroom was to the north-east.

During the course of the sites destruction a number of finds were made. Two cannon balls were removed from the upper part of the Tower House wall. No trace of these now exist. Of more interest was the statement that a stone, containing a date, was uncovered. Locals do not know what happened to this nor is there full agreement on the actual date. One maintained it was 1447 A.D. but another said it was later in the fifteenth century. Both people, fortunately, agreed on a date in the fifteenth century.

Thus, based on photos 1 and 2 as well as local information, we can state that the now levelled Drummin Castle was in fact a Tower House dating to the fifteenth century. (Fortunately a date stone was uncovered at this site as it does not appear on the College List, 1580 A.D., or any other such list).

REFERENCES

O’Donovan,
O.S. Letters (1839), Volume 2, page 130
Frost,
1893, page 13

Photo 2: Copy of 1928 photo with part of Drummin Tower House to the background left
Photo 2: Copy of 1928 photo with part of Drummin Tower House to the background left
(See site description)

Photo 3: West wall, Drummin Tower House (1978)
Photo 3: West wall, Drummin Tower House (1978)

 

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