Places of Interest
was probably called after a ford across the River Aille at this point.
A large cave, part of the Doolin cave system which starts close to
the old nunnery of St. Catherine's and finishes near Fisher Street,
is located under Roadford bridge.
DOOLIN PIER is a gateway to the
Aran Islands with a thriving ferry service operating from here. The
new pier was built when the old one collapsed. Doolin pier was originally
called Ballaghaline Fishing Station. North of Doolin Pier is Poll
a' Roisc, hole of the straws; Poll an Airgid, the money hole; An Carrig
Coir; the decent rock which provided locals with sea cabbage and Poll
na Mongach, the pollack hole, near Doolin Point.
Also near Doolin Point is Hell's Kitchen, a massive fissure in the
rock through which the sea can be seen. Farther north is a blow-hole,
Poll an Uisce, and below this on the opposite side of a small inlet
is Leac an Uisce, the water rock. Bone's Bay, or Poll Cnaimhin, is
a small beach sometimes used by nudists. Francis MacNamara's introduction
of nude bathing in the early years of the twentieth century was condemned
from all the church pulpits in the region. Swimming is extremely dangerous
anywhere around Doolin, except for the beach near the pier and then
only when lifeguards are on duty. North of here the Pilot Cliffs,
Aille de Luain, start.
South of Doolin Pier is a point of land jutting into the sea called
An Rinn Dubh. Tradition mentions that a Spanish ship was wrecked on
this "Black Point" in 1588. Other versions tell of two ships
being wrecked but all accounts agree that Boetius MacClancy hanged
the survivors. Beyond this is Poll na Muslai and further to the east
is An Lonn Dubh where a ship, The Magpie, was wrecked at a later date.
Lonn Dubh is possibly a corrupted spelling of the Irish word for magpie.
The beach through and under which the Aille River flows is probably
one of the most dangerous in Ireland.
INIS OIRR (INISHEER) is the nearest
of the Aran Islands. The islanders in olden times crossed to pay homage
to "Crom Dubh" or St. Brigid at the well above Liscannor. The main attractions on the island, apart
from the wild Burren-like scenery, are the people, pubs and language.
Other attractions include the old O'Brien castle situated within its
ring fort: St. Cavan's Church, St. Gobnet's Church; The Grave of the
Seven Daughters and the inland lake.
ISLAND is only a short distance away from the pier. It contains the
remains of a constabulary hut of the 1830's.
KILLILAGH CHURCH is called after
St. Felie, "Cill Fhaile", or probably Cill Ailleach, the
church of the cliffs. The Killilagh stone head was found in the Shoemaker's
Grave. Nearby is the empty MacNamara tomb which served as a temporary
jail during the "Troubles". West of this late fifteenth-century
church at the end of the road within the commons are the remains of
several ring forts, including one with a souterrain, and the rather
mysterious fort of Cahergunine. There are also the ruins of a court
cairn, the large rock called Carrig na Luinge Bui (rock of the yellow
ship) and the "Trug", an inlet in the cliffs.
TOOMULLIN CHURCH stands in the
middle of an area bulldozed in 1982. The original church dated from
1302 but this solitary building with a small belfry on top of the
original west gable dates from the fifteenth century. In 1941 a bronze
brooch dating from 200 or 300 A.D. was found here. The old graveyard
of Toomullin, Conor MacClancy's tomb and the ancient holy well of
St. Brecan were ploughed into the earth but luckily the church with
its later priest's room survived the bulldozer.
JUDGE COMYN'S MINES: These phosphate
workings were situated in Toomullin. During the second World War the
Government compulsorily purchased the two main mines as phosphate
was in short supply. The judge considered the compensation inadequate
and fought his case to a successful conclusion in the courts. However,
the Government, going on his figures, claimed back most of the money
awarded to him in income tax arrears.
THE QUARRIES OF NORTH CLARE are
famous for their flagstone, of which there are three distinctive flags:
Moher flag with its curious fossil-wriggle design; the Hag's Head
which is quarried at Malmore; and the smooth-faced Doonagore flagstone
which is better known as Liscannor stone. At one time over 500 men
worked in the quarries. The four main ones were Moher, Caherbana,
Doonagore and Luogh. Liscannor stone is still quarried by the North
Clare Quarry at Luogh.
CASTLE was not built of Doonagore stone. Its material came from
the worked-out quarry of Tra Leachain. Founded by Teigue MacTurlough
MacCon O'Connor during the fourteenth century, "the fort of
the rounded hills" or the "fort of the goats" was
built long before the Gore family arrived in Clare in 1653. It was
granted to Turlough O'Brien of Ennistymon in 1582 but tradition
tells us Boetius MacClancy sentenced the survivors of a Spanish
shipwreck to death here in 1588. Counsellor Gore repaired it in
the early 1800's but by 1837 it had fallen into disrepair and was
described in that year as being a round tower on a square base.
It was restored in the 1970's. The Radio na Gaeltachta transmitter,
over two miles from here and well above the castle's position, is
used with Doonagore Castle as a navigational point by boatmen bringing
their craft to Doolin pier.
CNOC NA STUALAIRE EARTH FORT with
its standing stone derives its name from the Irish "stualaire",
meaning a peak, a point or a high stone. Situated on a hill west of
the modern school, it overlooks most of Doolin. There are three earthen
barrows to the north and north-east of it and the 100 feet deep entrance
to the Fisher Street Pot, Poll na gColm is directly west of it.
TUATH CLAE CHURCH, now called the
Church of the Holy Rosary, sits on the high ground above Doolin. Built
in the 1830's, it was renovated in 1909 and 1974. It stands on the
site occupied by the famous Brehon Law school of the MacClancys whose
lands were held free from rent or imposition by virtue of their office
as chief judges. This immunity was first recorded in 1390 and at one
time the signature of a MacClancy constituted the validity of any
legal document. One and a half miles north of here was their old fort
Cahir MacClancy, and nearby was the castle or manor of Knockfinn first
mentioned in 1577. Several possible sites were mentioned for Knockfinn
Castle (or Manor), the likeliest of which would be the site now occupied
by Aran View House.
CNOCAN AN CHROCHAIRE is a barrow
east of Tuath Clae Church. The Spaniards killed by Boetius MacClancy
were supposedly buried here in 1588. Early in his career T.J. Westropp
dug into this Iron Age grave and discovered human bones - but not
Spanish ones as he mistakenly assumed. There may have been a gallows
on the mound at some stage. The nunnery of St. Catherine's, a comparatively
modern building, lies to the north of Cnocan an Chrochaire, the hill
of the hangings.
THE KILLILAGH FORTS are too numerous
to mention. The names of many have been lost and in most cases only
traces of them remain. The most important of the known forts from
Doolin Pier to Ballinalacken Castle are to the west of the road: the
Doonmacfelim group; Pairc na Caheragh where Westropp found a ring
fort; a square moher and several old-looking enclosures; Cathair an
Duin; Caherkeily; Carhuenemanagh; Cathair Glaise; Cahir MacClancy;
Cathair Mhic Croisin; and some groupings at Teergonean, Ballycahan,
Ballyvoe and Glashamore. East of the road from Fisher Street to Ballinalacken
are the, mainly earth, forts of Cnoc na Stualaire; Moin Bheag; Cnoc
na Raithe, the finest of them all; and Gortaclob.
CAVES: Pot-holing is a popular
pastime here. Poll an Eidhneain contains one of the largest stalactites
in Europe; the Doolin cave system contains three exits or entrances,
Poll na gColm, Poll an Chronain and another between Aran View House
and Tuath Clae church. There are also several dangerous mine shafts.
It has been said that the caves of Killilagh are a pot-holer's delight
and a parent's nightmare.
DOOLIN HOUSE was burned by the
British Forces in retaliation for the shooting of the High Sheriff
of Clare, H. Valentine MacNamara. His son, Francis MacNamara, was
a republican and was father of Caitlin