Places of Interest
CRATLOEMOYLE CASTLE: This tower
house is sometimes referred to simply as Cratloe castle. It stands
about fifty yards north of the main Ennis to Limerick road and about
five miles west of Limerick city. The tower is five storeys high with
three large halls over each other and rises to a height of about sixty
five feet. It was probably built early in the sixteenth century, though
some claim a date of 1610 for its construction. It was thought to
have been built by Sean, son of Donnchadh MacNamara who lived in the
early seventeenth century, but this is unlikely as the castle is mentioned
in many documents before his time. It is possible that some of the
later building in the castle was carried out by him.
In 1570 the castle was owned by Seán, son of Tadhg MacConmara and
later passed to the chiefs of MacConmara. A John MacNamara was the
last of the main stem of the MacNamaras. He died without issue about
1780. He was probably the last occupant of Cratloe Moyle castle. The
Cratloe Moyle estate was then purchased by George Quin of Quinsborough
near Limerick and so the patrimonial lands passed totally out of MacNamara
hands after nearly 700 years continuous possession. Cratloe Moyle
castle was purchased in 1973 by Bob Traynor, an Irish American. He
later sold the surrounding land to Bearing Components Ltd. but retained
ownership of the castle.
CRATLOEMOYLE CHURCH is situated
about one hundred yards away from the castle of the same name. It
does not appear to have been employed as a place of sepulture, but
was probably used as an oratory by the inhabitants of the castle.
ST. JOHN'S WELL is located a short
distance away from Cratloemoyle castle. It was a holy well dedicated
to St. John. On his feast day crowds gathered here to make "the
rounds" of the well. The water in the well was used as a cure
for sore eyes and other ailments.
CRATLOE KEEL CASTLE is directly
across the main carriageway from Cratloemoyle. The tower house is
built on top of a high outcrop of limestone which has been cut away
vertically on the north and east sides, revealing a twelve foot cliff
face on top of which was built the bawn wall. This tower is said to
have been built by Seán MacNamara in the latter part of the fifteenth
century. In 1580 Domhnaill MacNamara lived here. By 1615 it had been
divided into apartments by Cumarra MacNamara and James Roche. In 1641
it had passed to James Marten, a Dutch protestant. In the 1650's John
Cooper purchased the land and lived there. He was the third husband
of Máire Ruadh. She also spent
some time here. Her son left it in trust to her in 1672. Máire Ruadh
died around 1706, possibly in Cratloe Keel. After her death the tower
passed to the Punch family who still retain ownership. Sometimes known
as Punch's castle, it was their family home up to the late 1950's.
Its present condition was caused by an accidental fire some years
later but the walls of both the castle and the adjoining house, a
much later addition, are still standing.
CRATLOE MORE CASTLE is about half
a mile to the south-west of Cratloe Keel on the banks of the Shannon.
The site is quite extensive. It contains vestiges of a bawn, a strong
gate and a nineteenth century farmhouse in ruins. The south wall of
the bawn is almost circular and may be part of an earlier fortification
or medieval caiseal. The castle was sometimes referred to as Castle
Donnell and as such appears on Baptista Boazio's map of Ireland of
1609. According to the writings of Twigge it was built by Seán, son
of Donnchadh MacNamara. In 1570 it was inhabited by Teige MacNamara
and in the castle list for 1584 it was held by Domhnall MacTeige MacNamara.
However, the castle probably dates from about a century earlier and
was undoubtedly built by the MacNamaras to provide access to the Shannon
for trading purposes. Its siting was also of strategic importance
being midway between Limerick City and Bunratty Castle by river. In
1610 John MacNamara of Dangan laid claim to Cratloe More but lost
it to the Earl of Thomond. It was reclaimed by MacNamara Finn in 1624
but by 1730 it had been demolished and the stones used to build Cratloe
CRATLOE WOODS HOUSE was reputedly
started in 1730 and it was extended considerably by the mid-nineteenth
century. Set in its own grounds, it is an impressive example of the
Irish long house which existed since medieval times. Resided in by
members of the O'Brien family in 1783, it was then called Cratloe
Hall. In more recent years the Stafford O'Briens moved to Cratloe
Woods. Up until 1990 Robert Guy O'Brien lived there. Robert's cousins,
the Brickendens, moved to Cratloe Woods from Co. Wicklow. The house
is open to the public during the Summer months.
GARRANON WOODS: The oak woods are
in good condition and the trees are very mature English and sessile
oak. The woodland has been designated an area of Scientific Interest
(A.S.I.) by the office of Public Works.
CRATLOE FOREST, by comparison to
Garranon Woods, is very young. This is a commercial woodland, managed
by Coillte. The trees comprise Spruce, Pine and Larch.
CRATLOE WOODS: A trail runs through
the woodland which will take you all around the length of the wood.
The trail is 3 km. long and has an obstacle course for the more adventurous.
Picnic sites are dotted all around the area. The Shannon Estuary,
Bunratty and the unique Clare landscape can be seen from the viewing
CRATLOE MEGALITH lies at a point
west of the Cratloe to Collooney railway line. Known as the BALLINPHUNTA
wedge-shaped gallery grave, this ancient tomb stands in a field about
fifty yards south of Crughaun Church. Westropp writes "that this
cist is double
," but apart from the presence of the two
roof stones there is no clear evidence to support this assumption.
CRUGHAUN CHURCH may take its name,
the church of the little hall (or mound), from the mound that once
covered the nearby megalithic tomb or cromlech. It was large enough
to accommodate a numerous congregation and the ruin is still in a
tolerable state of preservation, with an extensive graveyard surrounding
it. The whole is situated in the townland of Brickhill, within Kilfentinan
CRATLOE'S "LITTLE CHURCH":
A late eighteenth century Victorian church, which is in the diocese
of Limerick, was constructed here. However, the single-aisle, thatched
church was demolished and a new edifice erected in 1858. In 1986 an
extensive renovation programme was launched. The work was completed
LOURDES GROTTO: Overlooking
the church from high on the hill is the grotto built by voluntary
local labour in 1932.
CRATLOE HILLS are still considered
a boundary established over eight centuries ago between the dioceses
of Limerick and Killaloe.
GALLOWS HILL is mentioned by Thomas
Dineley who spent some time in South Clare in 1680 and 1681. He described
the area between Sixmilebridge and Limerick, "The soil is generally
rude, boggy, neglected, woody, shrubby, wild, marshy, and great bogs
and ponds are seen upon the very tops of hills and mountains as is
The Gallows site can still be seen on the summit. This may have been
built on top of an ancient burial mound, an apt location for the grisly
work continued above it. Despite that, the view from the top of this
old execution site is one of the most spectacular in the county. Nearby
is a car park from which the less energetic can avail of the views.
The radar domes to the south of the road overlook Limerick City and
the Shannon River.
BALLYMORRIS HOUSE, also called
BUNKERS HILL, is a nineteenth century house built on what was once
an island. This was the home of James Frost, author of "The History
and Topography of the County of Clare", published in 1893. The
house was used as an I.R.A. Brigade Headquarters during the War of
PORTDRINE is a small village which
has expanded over the past few decades. During the Great Hunger a
soup kitchen known as the Cratloe soup house operated here. Portdrine
is derived from "port", meaning a bank and "draigheann",
the place of the blackthorns or sloe bushes.
CILL AN BHOTHAIR, the church of
the road, is in Ballyliddane. This cillín or children's burial ground
is listed in the early Ordnance Survey map as Killavoher. There is
only one flagstone in the graveyard although a few stones can be seen
sticking out of the ground. The ruins of the old parish church of
Kilfentinan can still be seen in the graveyard of that name.
MEELICK, Killely or Killeely was
described in 1837 as being partly within the North Liberties of the
city of Limerick but chiefly in Clare, three miles north west from
the city, on the mail road to Ennis and on the river Shannon. The
parish which comprised 5,135 acres was nearly equally divided between
tillage and pasture. It extended nearly to the old Thomond bridge
at Limerick and contained a constabulary station, as did Cratloe and
Thomond Gate. The patron saint of the parish may be the virgin saint
Faoile of Atheliath Meadraidhe in County Galway.
A mountain stream runs under Barrly-Thomous Bridge, built in 1837.
A large flat-topped rock can be seen on the bank above a very obvious
stream fording point. A short surviving stretch of the old stage road
can be seen inside the 1837 road ditch. A highwayman called Morrissey,
armed with a blunderbuss, sat on this rock now known as "Morrisseys
Chair". He ambushed the wealthy travellers as the stage coach
negotiated the difficult fording point. He relieved them of their
gold, silver and other valuables which he gave mostly to the Cratloe
poor. His generosity made him a hero among the Cratloe people. A local
blacksmith made a "Ned Kelly" type suit of armour for Morrissey
which, however, did not protect his ankles. He was injured in the
ankle by a policeman, and though this didn't stop Morrissey's exploits,
it did slow down his highway activities. He died years later in his
bed in a small cottage in the forest below Barrly-Thomous Bridge.
On his death-bed his neighbours asked him where he had hidden all
his gold and silver. He replied "in one of the four corners of
Cratloe Wood". Another version of his reply is that the riches
are hidden under a tree which has the ace of hearts carved on it.
To safeguard his treasure the people of Cratloe carved the ace of
hearts on many of the trees in Cratloe Woods
and there it remains
to this day!