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Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland 1845

 
Bunratty

A parish, containing a village of the same name, in the barony of Lower Bunratty, Co. Clare, Munster. Length, southward, 2 miles; breadth, 2; area, 2,754 acres, 2 roods, 29 perches—of which 7 acres, 17 perches, are tideway of the Ougarnee river. Pop., in 1831, 1,300; in 1841, 1,320. Houses 207. The surface is bounded on the east by the Ougarnee, and on the south by the Shannon. The land is prevailingly prime; and a pendicle which surrounds the old church is pointed out as the richest in a large circumjacent district. Among the seats are Cloverhill, Clonmeny, and Woodpark. The road from Limerick to Ennis crosses the Ougarnee on a stone-bridge of one arch, traverses the interior of the parish, and is overlooked by Bunratty-castle, and the mansions of Firgrove and Clonmoney. The castle and village stand on the Ougarnee, a little above its debouch into the Shannon, and 3 miles south-south-west of Six-mile-Bridge. The population of the village is not separately returned. The castle appears, from what remains of both the original structure and subsequent additions, to have been a strong square pile of massive architecture, similar to many edifices of its class; yet, in the condition in which it stands, it is the most perfect and remarkable of all the old castellated houses in the county. Mucegros, one of the three Anglo-Normans among whom the territory of Thomond was partitioned after the Conquest of Ireland, obtained about the year 1250 the privilege of holding a market and fair at Bunratty, and, in 1277, built the castle; but, in a short time, he surrendered his possessions to King Edward. Richard de Clare, who succeeded to the proprietorship of all Thomond, made the castle his principal residence: in 1305, he successfully resisted a besiegement of it by the native Irish; in 1311, he repelled beneath its walls an invasion of Richard Burke, the ‘red’ Earl of Ulster, slew many of his followers, and made himself and Lord William Burke prisoners; but, though now victorious, he speedily afterwards was slain. In 1314, the native Irish, emboldened by his death, attacked the English settlers, drove them from their possessions, and burnt the town of Bunratty to the ground. The castle held out for some time, but, in 1332, was taken and sacked. The edifice was afterwards restored; became one of the principal seats of the Earls of Thomond; and remained in their possession till the civil dissensions of the 17th century. In 1642, it was closely besieged while the Earl of Thomond was within its walls; in 1649, it fell into the hands of Cromwell; and, in 1653, it was, for some time, the residence of General Ludlow. Its walls exhibit indentations and shatterings from cannon-shot; and several balls have been found around it, one of which weighed 39 pounds. The castle is now used as a police barrack. Adjoining it is the demesne of Thomas Studdert, Esq. —Bunratty parish is a vicarage, and part of the benefice of KILFINAGHTY, in the dio. of Killaloe. The vicarial tithes are compounded for 50, and the rectorial for 100; and the latter are impropriate in the Earl of Egremont. The Roman Catholic chapel has an attendance of 700; and, in the Roman Catholic parochial arrangement, is united to the chapels of Tomfinlough and Kilconry. In 1834, the Protestants amounted to 55, and the Roman Catholics to 1,340; a free-school was under the superintendence of the incumbent; and a hedge-school had on its books 55 boys and 14 girls. In 1840, the National Board granted 250 toward the erection of a male school and a female school at Clonmoney.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, 1845
Courtesy of Clare Local Studies Project

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Barony of Bunratty (Lower and Upper)