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Clare Places: Towns & Villages
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THE MILLS, or rather the first rape-seed oil mills, were established by Thomas Greene and John Cooper in Ballintlea in 1664. Later, under a scheme to introduce settlers in the area, George Pease brought in Dutch artisans and rebuilt the mills in 1696. Giles Vandeleur, a Dutchman, operated a mill in the village in 1675. By 1703 the Moland Survey relates that Sixmilebridge, on the south side of the river, consisted of "20 good tenements and about 32 cabins". By then the entire area had established a reputation for milling. Moland observes that "Castle Cappagh has on it an old castle, two cabins, firing in ye bog belonging to ye premises, Cappagh Lodge, situate as ye former, has on it a good stone house, built by ye Lord Thomond, where he used to reside, when he came in these parts, a good stable, barn, brew house, store houses, mill and a pleasure garden with two orchards and an avenue to ye house. Lower Cappagh alias Oyl Mill, situate as ye former, has on it a dwelling house thatcht, an orchard, 2 corn mills and a tuck mill and about 4 cabins".
Nearly eight years later Arthur Young remarked that a mill could be successfully run every hundred yards along the river. At Annagore a sharp fall in the river was harnessed to drive the mill wheel. To achieve this, the river was diverted by the construction of a large barrier of stone. The remains of this barrier can still be seen today.
HANOVER SQUARE was part of eighteenth century Ieverstown. This was situated in the open space south of the river. The square was bordered on one side by the market house, on the Cratloe side is Orange Street and on the other side of Hanover Square is George's Street containing the former woollen mills owned by the O'Flynn family. Frederick Square is at the end of George's Street.
THE MARKET HOUSE has enjoyed a chequered history. During the 1970's it was used as a Cinema and as a Ballroom. Known as the Arch Ballroom, it was one of the leading dance venues in the region. During renovations at the Market House in 1996 workers exposed a stone plaque with the inscription "Hanover Sq. John Rothery, Builder 1733".
THE RAILWAY arrived in the mid-nineteenth century. The Sixmilebridge station assumed something of the role that the Ballintlea quays must have had a century earlier. The railway yard was often busy with people and on a fair day cattle were transported by rail to Limerick, Ennis and further afield. The railway service has long since finished and the station no longer services its original purpose.
ROSMANAGHER TOWER HOUSE was built by Shane, the son of Donogh Mac Namara, in 1548. The castle was listed in 1580 as the property of the Earl of Thomond. By the time Bunratty came under siege in 1646 Rosmanagher had a magnificent park containing 3,000 deer and the countryside was heavily wooded. It was garrisoned by parliamentarian troops during the ensuing war. It was surrendered by Captain Hunt and his small group of musketeers on May 13th, 1646. Abraham Dester got a lease of Rosmanagher castle and two ploughlands in 1675 and as the Dester family prospered they changed their surname to D'Esterre. The castle fell into disrepair when the D'Esterres built Rosmanagher House.
ROSMANAGHER BRIDGE AND TOLL GATE were built by Henry D'Esterre in 1784 at his own expense. The large inscription stone on the bridge commemorates this piece of engineering. D'Esterre owned extensive lands in the region and the Ratty River hindered both farming and communication, especially as the nearest bridge was at Sixmilebridge. Despite objections that the structure would interfere with navigation on the river, Henry D'Esterre built his bridge and then tried to recover his costs by erecting toll gates on the western side of the river. Daniel O' Connell refused to pay the toll according to local tradition and this was the reason given for his famous duel with Captain John D'Esterre. The duel, in which O'Connell killed his opponent, took place in Kildare on February 1st, 1815.
CAPPAGH CASTLE was inhabited in 1580 by John Mac Namara but became the property of the Earl of Thomond when the Mac Namaras lost their patrimony. During the siege of Bunratty it was held by Parliamentarian forces under a Colonel Mac Adam and a Sergeant Morgan. They surrendered to the confederate Catholics on May 13th, 1646. The castle was afterwards converted into a windmill, at which the Earl's tenants were obliged to get their corn ground. The structure has now disappeared except for a few stones.
BALLYCULLEN CASTLE, was built around 1430 by John Mac Namara. The building is now in poor condition although it served as a constabulary station during the nineteenth century.
THE O'GARNEY RIVER is tidal to Ballintlea, the site of the famous oil mills. In 1664 Thomas Green and John Cooper first entered articles for making oil here. Boats regularly used the river as far as this point and goods were transported by road from Ballintlea to Sixmilebridge. In 1730 the bricks to build Mount Ievers were brought up the river by boat to this point and then passed from hand to hand to the site, a further mile and a half away. The boat then returned to Holland with a cargo of oil from the mill.
MOUNT IEVERS is a tall, early eighteenth century, three-story, seven bay house with two fronts, one of stone, the other of brick. Built on the site of an earlier tower house, the house was completed by Henry Ievers around 1736, possibly to a design by the architect William Rothery. Description in 1681.
HENRY IEVERS, the founder of the Ievers dynasty in Clare, arrived in Ireland as a barristers clerk before the 1641 rebellion. By the time of his death in 1691 he had become one of the wealthiest landowners in the county, having acquired an estate of 6,000 profitable Irish acres, besides a further enormous area of waste and leasehold. Throughout his career he seems to have exploited a number of public offices in order to enrich himself. In 1643 he was Collector of revenue for Clare and Galway but this was hardly a lucrative post as the Confederates controlled both counties. In 1661 he was Collector of the subsidy for Clare and this post may have provided him with an opportunity to acquire wealth in some measure.