Places of Interest
Clare Abbey was founded in 1189 by Donal Mór O'Brien.
It was an abbey of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine and was dedicated
to Saints Peter and Paul. Harbison mentions in his writings that the abbey
was the scene of a great slaughter in 1278 between various factions of
the O'Briens. Parts of the single-aisled church date from the late twelfth
century but most of the buildings are fifteenth-century work. These include
a well-preserved east window, the tower and the domestic buildings with
their unusual floral window at the south-eastern corner. The church and
charter were reconfirmed by Thady, Bishop of Killaloe, in 1461. Henry
VIII granted the abbey to the Baron of Ibrickan in 1543 and the Earls
of Thomond were confirmed as owners in 1620 and 1661. The Augustinians
remained in the abbey until 1650. By 1703 the abbey was a ruin, but there
was a good "thatched house, an orchard and 2 or 3 cabins nearby",
according to Moland's survey.
THE OLD CLARE HILL GRAVEYARD contains
the graves of many of the 1832 cholera victims. They are buried in
the lower area in unmarked graves. Only three headstones mark the
graves of these victims, William Pinion, Mary Miller and James Read.
A fourth headstone is a memorial to the Rev. David O'Brien, C.C.,
who was buried in an unmarked grave.
KILLOO contains an old church ruin
and graveyard on the opposite side of the river from Clare Abbey or
Clarecastle. The name is derived from Cill-Lugha, the church of Lugh,
one of the Irish saints of that name who are venerated on June 16th
or July 1st.
KILLONE CONVENT: The convent of Cill
Eoin or the convent of St. John's Church, was the first convent of
Augustinian nuns in County Clare. "The Annals of Inisfallen",
1259-1260, mention the death of "Slaney, O Bryan's daughter,
Abbesse of Kill Eoin, chief in devotion, almes-deedes and hospitality
of all women in Munster." Another abbess, Dubcollaithig Breyn,
died in 1350. In 1584 the convent was vested in the crown. One legend
relates how Honora O'Brien became a nun in Killone but ran off with
Sir Roger O'Shaughnessy of Gort and presented him with a son and daughter
before getting the Pope's dispensation for their marriage. It is mentioned
in the "Visitation of Killaloe" in 1617 as the property
of Baron Inchiquin. It was last occupied at the end of the sixteenth
century. The east window is its most interesting feature, being double
with two semi-circular headed lights lined with smooth stonework.
Convent by T.J. Westropp
KILLONE LAKE was the abode of a mermaid
who used to swim up a small brook and steal wine from either the crypt
beneath the church or the cellar of Newhall. She was stabbed by a
butler of the O'Briens, or shot by one of the "Black" MacDonnells,
but managed to drag herself back into the lake and every forty years
or so the lake is supposed to turn red. Ballybeg Lake lies to the
north of Killone Lake.
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST'S WELL was once
the venue of a yearly pattern in June. Situated at the northern end
of the Killone Lake, it was a particularly popular place of pilgrimage
for the people of Ennis and Clarecastle. St
John's Holy Well by T.J. Westropp
KILLONE CASTLE is just a ruined stump
on an eminence to the north of Newhall House.
NEWHALL, or rather the older part
of it, is supposed to have been built with stones from Killone castle.
The rest of the house dates from the mid-eighteenth century. The front
of the house was probably designed by Francis Bindon and it was built
by Charles MacDonnell who bought Newhall in 1764 after moving from
his family seat at Kilkee.
BARNTICK is one of the oldest occupied
houses in the county. It was built in 1661.
CARNELLY HOUSE is
an eighteenth century building designed by Francis Bindon (1690-1765) Maire Ruadh of
Leamaneh is supposed to have been buried here in a hollow tree and
her ghost haunts the drive. Peter "The Packer" O'Brien
was born in Carnelly House in 1842. His father depleted the family
funds during the Great Hunger by contributing heavily to the relief
schemes around Clarecastle. Carnelly was the home of Dermot F. Gleeson,
author of "A History of the Diocese of Killaloe"
ROCHE IRELAND, formerly the Syntex
Plant, is a large employer in the vicinity. Syntex Ireland, a pharmaceutical
plant, was established in 1976. It is situated on top of Clare Hill.
THE HARBOUR AT CLARECASTLE:
Given its position at the head of the Fergus estuary, the harbour
was an important port for more than three centuries and played a huge
part in the local economy. Clarecastle was not only the outport of
Ennis, but also the port of mid-Clare, handling large volumes of imports
and exports. The exports were chiefly agricultural products - oats,
barley and wheat, besides other produce such as butter and bacon.
The cargoes imported included coal, timber, iron, salt and provisions.
While most of the trade was with ports
like Liverpool, Glasgow and London, there were also shipping links to
Canada, Scandinavia and other European countries. The port trade slowly
declined in the nineteenth century due to competition from the Ennis-Limerick
railway, opened in 1859, and from motor transport in the twentieth century.
The last cargo vessel to dock at the extensive quays of Clarecastle was
the M.V. "Sisu" from Sweden in 1969.
However, the harbour is still the base for the
local fishing fleet. The tradition of drift net fishing for salmon on
the Fergus estuary dates back for centuries and the fishing licences were
handed down from father to son among certain families. Today however,
drift-net fishing is more of a hobby than a full time occupation.