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The first attempt to hold a court in
the County of Clare seems to have been held in the Franciscan Abbey at
Ennis, in 1570. The choice of Ennis for the location of the Law Courts
is extremely significant. It meant that, in time, Ennis would become the
centre of English administration for the county, therefore, its development
as the county town was assured.
By the 1630's Ennis had undergone some
significant changes. Law courts were no longer held in the friary but
had transferred to a new purpose-built courthouse on the Square.
Clare is included in the Munster circuit: the assizes are held at Ennis, and the quarter sessions at Ennis, Six-mile-Bridge, Kilrush, Ennistymon, and Miltown-Malbay. The county gaol is at Ennis, and there are bridewells at Kilrush, Tulla, Six-mile-Bridge, and Ennistymon. The number of persons charged with criminal offences and committed to the county gaol, in 1835, was 733, and of civil bill commitments, 182.