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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
MOOGHAUN TOWER HOUSE
Nat. Grid Ref. R404707; ½” Sheet 17
For information on this restored site refer to:- a) site plan b) site description c) series of photographs.
MOOGHAUN TOWER HOUSE
An Irish-American family bought and restored this late fifteenth century site and now use it as a summer residence. However attempts at various times during 1978 and 1979 failed to meet this family to obtain permission to examine the site’s interior. Thus the following description is based on the site’s four walls as they exist to date, 1979.
South-West Wall: (Photos 1 and 2)
A close examination of Photo 1 will show some of the windows that exist,
all in good condition, on the upper floors of this south-west wall. To
the left (west) of the entrance and on different levels are four long
narrow slitted windows. These average 1.50 metres in height and 8 cm
in width. Three similar type windows, now 15 cm wide, occur in the area
over the doorway, again on different floors. Towards the top central
part of this south-west wall is a wide cut-stone ogee type window 2 metres
high and 1 metre wide. Field examination suggested that this was originally
of the central shaft type though no trace of this feature now remains.
However the most interesting feature along this south-west wall is the
presence of a machicoulis, in a very good condition. Such features are
uncommon in the various tower houses of south-east Clare. The two openings
in the feature are very clearly seen when looking directly up from the
doorway (Photo 2).
South-East Wall: (Photo 3)
To the top central part of this south-west wall is a cut-stone wide ogee-type window. Originally this had a central shaft, no trace of which now remains. The opening is some 2 metres high and 1 metre wide (Photo 3). Two further windows exist in the central part of this wall. The top one is only 7 cm wide but about 1 metre high. The lower opening is some 2 metres high and circa 60 cm wide.
As the site plan shows this wall also contains the guardrobe discharge
shaft. However this 1.30 metre wide feature is now blocked up. The upper
part of this opening has an arched arrangement of 13 stones.
Two other windows exist on this wall, one towards the centre and one near the top of the wall. The lower most of these two was originally of the central shaft type, though now survives as a 2 metre high by 1 metre wide opening.
The central window is quite plain in nature and consists of a 2 metre high by 1 metre wide opening also. However in the case of this window there is no evidence of it having had a central shaft. Field work did note some restoration work about this opening, dating presumably to the period when this tower house was reconstructed.
As the site plan shows a modern extension has been added to the site’s north-west wall. This made a proper examination of the area impossible. However field observation did note the presence of five long narrow slitted windows, all on different levels near the site’s west corner. Such windows averaged 1 metre in height and 8 cm in width.
The top central part of this wall contained a chimney.
What other features of interest exist at Mooghaun Tower House? According to Westropp (1899) this was one of the few sites in the Barony which had an outwork or bawn. Trace of this survives to the west/south-west of the Tower House though it is in a poor condition.
According to tradition, cited by O’Lionain (O.S. Letters, 1839) this Tower House was built by Donall, son of Rory (MacNamara). When? Fortunately Westropp (1899, page 351) provides further information here. He agrees with O’Lionain as to the sites builder and suggests a date of circa 1490 A.D. Such a late-fifteenth century date would correspond well with other tower houses in the area.
Was this site still occupied in 1580 A.D. according to the College List? Frost (1893, page 193) and Curry (1839, p. 79) both say it was then owned by one Matthew MacNamara who was later buried in Quin Abbey.
Westropp, (1899, page 357) when he visited the site at the end of the last century, noted the presence of an inscription on a fireplace which read:
“T.M. MºM. N. (Mac Namara) me fieri fecit A.D. 1610”.
This certainly shows early seventeenth century occupation. (Also see Westropp, pages 360 – 361).
Late nineteenth century occupation, of a sort, is shown by Westropp’s