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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 45: Tomfinlough Parish


Nat. Grid Ref. R438706; ½” Sheet 17

Photo 1: Site of Fenloe Castle
Photo 1: Site of Fenloe Castle

R.C. Parish : Newmarket-on-Fergus
Townland : Finlough
6” O.S. Sheet number : 42 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 20.3 cm South; 12.2 cm East
Height (G.L.) : 110’ O.D.
1” O.S. Sheet number : 133 (Sixmilebridge)


Though represented on the relevant 6” O.S. Sheet as a castle in ruins field examination found only scattered stones (Photo 1). A more suitable description, therefore, would be site only of a castle (tower house?).

Locals said that in living memory and by tradition Fenloe Castle was always in a poor condition. In fact a reference to it by O’Lionain, c. 1780 A.D., refers to the site as being destroyed (source: O.S. Letters (1839), Volume 2, page 138).

As Photo 1 shows, see over, this is an area of upturned stones defined by timber railing. Originally the local landowner had proposed to clear this site but instead has planted trees and erected the railing. An examination found traces of the original south-east wall. It can be followed along a 6.50 metre stretch, with an average height of 40 cm (though it reaches 75 cm towards its centre). Immediately behind this large block of upturned stone occurs – formerly traces of the castle wall. These average 2.25 metres long, 1 metre high and 75 cm thick. The presence of red brick on some of these slabs suggests that the site was used at a later period.

There is absolutely no information available on this site, either to its time of erection, builder, use in a later period, etc. Even the usual sources – Frost and Westropp – do not mention it. Neither is there a reference to Fenloe (Finlough) Castle in the oft-cited College List of 1580 A.D. It is mentioned by Curry (1839) but that is only in relation to the late eighteenth century folklore as quoted by O’Lionain.


Curry, O.S. Letters (1839), Volume 2, Page 138.