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Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839

Parish of Drumcliff (b)

At the distance of thirty one and a half feet from the north wall of this Church stands a considerable part of a very ancient Round Tower called in Irish Clogás Droma Cleibh. It is built of large field stones, rounded by the weather and of truly Cyclopean appearance. It measures at the height of four feet from the level of the field fifty feet four inches in external circumference, and its wall is four feet four inches thick at the height of thirteen feet. Its southeast half is destroyed down to the height of twelve feet where the doorway was probably placed, but no vestige of it remains. It contains only one feature - a quadrangular window placed on the west side at the height of about thirty feet from the ground and measuring about two feet six inches in height and in breadth about fourteen inches at top and sixteen at bottom. It is covered at top by a large lintel extending about two feet into the thickness of the wall and appears to be about three feet long, one foot high and two feet in depth. The highest point of this tower is on the north side and about forty four feet high.

The stones of this Tower are, at the bottom, enormous, rounded by the weather and not laid in regular courses, but they decrease from the height of twelve feet up. Very small spawls and round stones are used to fill up the crevices between the rough round ones. None of them appear to have been quarried.

No Patron Saint is remembered for this Church.

To this Parish belongs Clonroad, which became the head residence of the O’Briens at an early period. We learn from the Wars of Torlogh that Donogh Carbreagh O’Brien erected a princely palace of a circular form on the north side of the River opposite Inis, in a marshy and streaming place called Cluain Ramhfhada, and it is afterwards stated that Conor na Siudaine, the son of Donogh Carbreagh, was the first who erected a Longphort of earth at Cluain Ramhfhada.

The author of the Wars of Torlogh is, however, certainly wrong in placing O’Brien’s Longphort at Clonroad, north of the River Fergus, for no part of Clonroad is north of that River, and the site of O’Brien’s earthen fortress is still indistinctly traceable in a field to the southeast of Clonroad Bridge. Tradition states that O’Brien had also a stone castle here which stood near the Bridge of Clonroad and this seems borne out by a passage in the Annals of the Four Masters at the year 1553, which states that Donnell and Torlogh O’Brien made a nocturnal incursion into Cluain Ramhfhada against their brother Donogh More and burned that Town and slew many persons, and that Donogh went into a tower which was in the town to defend himself.

At the year 1460 the same Annals call the present Ennis by the name of Inis Chluana Ramhfhada and at the year 1540 the Monastery of Ennis is styled the Monastery of Cluain Ramhfada. The magnificent ruins of this Abbey are still to be seen, but I leave them to be described by the artist. For the history of this Abbey, see Archdall and the Annals of the Four Masters.

There are two Holy Wells of great celebrity in this Parish dedicated to two great Saints of the primitive Irish Church. The one is situated in the Townland of Ballysoppagh and dedicated to Saint Kieran, and the other in the Townland of Croaghaun and is dedicated to St. Inneenboy, the Patroness of the Dalcassians.

We shall move to Tulla on the morning of Monday, the 18th of November.

                                                                                                 Your obedient servant,
                                                                                                              John O’Donovan.

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                                                                                                                        11th November 1839.

Dear Sir,
We start for Ennis tomorrow morning at six o’clock by boat, not being able to get a car here. Please to direct all commands for us thither till we give further notice. I have not heard a word about Wakeman since, nor will perhaps before the end of the month. It is impossible that he could keep up with us for even one day.

                                                                                                 Your obedient servant,
                                                                                                              John O’Donovan.