Clare County Library
Clare Places: Towns & Villages
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Places of Interest

  • RUAN CHURCH: No patron saint is associated with this church nor is there a holy well dedicated to any particular saint within the immediate area. The only holy wells nearby were named after the townlands, according to Eugene O’Curry in 1839. He described this fifteenth-century parish church in some detail. "There is a portion of the north wall elevated six feet above the rest as if for the purpose of a ball-alley", was his less than reverent account of that portion of the church. The most interesting feature is the carved east window. There is a small chapel projecting to the south from the south-west angle of the older church. The elevated tomb in its northern end carried the following inscription: "This chapel and tomb were erected by Donogh O’Kerine the son of Dermot O’Kerine of Owan, for him and his posterities use in the year of our Lord God, 1688".

    The Roman Catholic church at Ruan was rebuilt by subscription in 1834. The present church, St. Marys, was built in 1912. The stained glass windows behind the altar were made at the famous Mayer studio in Germany. They once adorned the chapel of St. Xaviers Convent of Mercy, off O’Connell Square, Ennis. The windows were transferred to Ruan when the convent closed down in the 1990’s. The window on the left, as you face the altar, depicts the Nativity scene; in the middle is the Sacred Heart and on the right is a scene at the home of the Holy Family with Mary working on the loom, Joseph doing some carpentry and Jesus by his side. A section of the middle panel also features symbols of the consecration – sheaves of wheat, grapes and a chalice.

    The mausoleum in the old graveyard is the resting place of Sir Michael O’Loghlen, baronet. His claim to fame is that he was the first Catholic raised to the judiciary and became Master of the Rolls. His statue can be seen in Ennis Courthouse. Also in a corner of the graveyard can be seen a small mound of stones known as the "Tragedy Grave". A number of people were drowned at Porte Lake many years ago and it is said that they were all buried together in this spot.

  • KELLS takes its name from the Irish "cealla", meaning the churches, although the site of the original church was "scarcely traceable" when John O’Donovan visited it in 1839.

  • RUAN BARRACKS: The raid on Ruan Barracks was ordered by Joe Barrett, the officer commanding the Mid-Clare Brigade Flying Column. The raid took place on October 15th, 1920, under the command of Ignatius O’Neill. The previous day several dogs in the area of the village near the fortified three-storey stone building, which housed the Royal Irish Constabulary, were poisoned. That night the Flying Column moved into position under cover of darkness. The following morning as a policeman opened the back door to collect the milk he was captured by two I.R.A. men before he could give a warning to his colleagues. The rest of the column rushed into the barracks and captured it with relatively little shooting. The main resistance was on the second floor where a sergeant and two constables were wounded. Ignatius O’Neill put the remainder of the police through a drill formation outside the barracks as his men demolished it.

  • DROMORE WOOD AND LAKE are under the control of the Forest and Wildlife Service. Covering close on 1,000 acres of woodlands and lakes, the area has a rich historical and archaeological heritage. In 1985 it was designated a nature reserve by the Office of Public Works but public access has been allowed and there are signposted walks and car parking facilities. Dromore is renowned for its diversity of flora and fauna. The five lakes at Dromore are populated by swans, herons and geese. It is one of the countrys prime fishing areas. The wood is a wildlife sanctuary and the animals of the forest include badgers, pine martens, squirrels and foxes.

  • DROMORE CASTLE was probably built in the early sixteenth century and was later extended and repaired by Teige O’Brien in the 1600’s, as the records of the castle predate Teige. The inscription over the door with the obliterated date would then be accounted for: "This castle was built by Teige, second son to Connor, third Earle of Thomond and by Slaney O’Brien, wife to the said Teige Anno D". The castle and lands of Dromore were granted to Teige’s father at an inquisition in Ennis in 1579. Teige’s son, Dermot, was an influential man during the Confederate Wars and took an active part in the siege of Ballyalla Castle. His sister, Sarah O’Brien, earned herself an unenviable reputation for cruelty during the same period. The castle was once a most impressive, spacious tower house, built on the shores of the lake and surrounded on three sides by water. Today, only the building housing the staircase and small chambers remains. There is a wide circular staircase to the right of the door, a small guardroom to the left and a magnificent stone fireplace in the left-hand chamber of the first floor. There is a circular shot hole cut into the stairs between the first and second floors through which defenders could fire if the ground floor was invaded by attackers. The roof houses a wall walk around the gables, a high rectangular chimney crowned with two diamond-shaped flues and corbels which once supported a corner bartizan. The last O’Brien to live here, Conor, left Clare in 1689. The castle fell into ruin in the eighteenth century.

  • BALLYTEIGE EAST RING FORT is close to the road, about one hundred yards south of one of the large electricity pylons, and opposite another minor road leading off to the west. The fort itself is just a mound of earth with some traces of a fosse around it. The main feature of the fort however is its double souterrain. This can be entered by sliding feet first in through the small hole which gives access to it. Towards the far end another hole to the left gives access to another slightly smaller chamber. Once within either chamber one could see how easily they could be defended. Ballyteige is the finest example of its type in this part of the county. There are, however, several other souterrains in the forts around the Ruan area. There are the remains of a portal dolmen on Moyree Commons, west of the road leading north from Ruan to Tubber.

  • PORT is an eighteenth century house with some nineteenth century features and faces south over Dromore Lake. It has been in the possession of the Kelly family since it was purchased by their ancestor, Jeremiah, in the 1860s. The family mausoleum is situated by the side of the roadway between Port and Ruan. The ruins of Ballyharahan Castle, now merely a site, can still be seen within the grounds of Port. This was owned by Donogh Duff MacConsadine in 1580. Frost believed the name meant O’Harraghan’s residence.

  • BALLYGRIFFEY CASTLE derives its name from "Baile Ua Griobhtha", O’Griffey’s place of residence. According to Rev. Patrick Woulfe, the family name of O’Griobhtha was usually anglicised to Griffin but there were several other variations such as O’Greefa, O’Griffy,O’Grighie, Griffey, Griffy, Greehy, Griffith and Griffiths. This ancient Dalcassian family were chiefs of "Cinel Cuallachta" in the south-east of the barony of Inchiquin and they built their castle here in Ballygriffey. It is in a fairly good state of preservation, although the roof has fallen in and part of the upper floor has collapsed. There are many defensive features to be seen including a shot hole and an internal wall on the upper floor which, because of its strategically placed window, could be defended if attackers penetrated that far into the castle. There is a fine earth fort in Ballygriffey wood.