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A Survey of Monuments of Archaeological and Historical Interest in the Barony of Bunratty Lower, Co. Clare by William Gerrard Ryan

Part 4: Castles and tower houses c.1500
Chapter 33: Bunratty Parish


Nat. Grid Ref. R427608; ½” Sheet 17

Site of Clonmoney Tower House
Site of Clonmoney Tower House

R.C. Parish : Newmarket-on-Fergus
Townland : Clonmoney West
6” O.S. Sheet number : 61 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 2.8cm North; 20.6 cm East
Height (G.L.) : c. 30’ O.D.
1” O.S. Sheet number : 143 (Limerick)

For information on this levelled castle (i.e. Tower House) refer to: a) photo above b) written description and references overleaf.

Description of site:
Here we have the site of a castle (tower house?) which is not marked on editions of the O.S. Sheets. However it was brought to my attention by locals who used to hear elderly people speak of it as the site of a long levelled castle.

Field examination found that here we in fact have only the site of a castle, with no visible ruins. However the large number of loose stones, especially to the south of the site, testify to its former position and existence.

The “castle” was built on outcropping rock, some of which is clearly visible to the west, immediately below the site. In fact the occurrence of so much outcropping limestone in the area makes a thorough examination of the site area very difficult. However what we do have is a rise, again consisting of outcrop, which is 10 metres high to the south and 8 metres to the north.

The original entrance area approach was probably from the east, where there is a more gentle rise in land. Below the site, to the south, is a low wall of earth and stone. This also may be followed to the west and east.

In the north this low “wall” area does not follow the rise but moves away from it and using some of the outcrop in the region encloses a triangular shaped area, 55 metres maximum length and a width of 23 metres. This may have been a bawn, or enclosure, associated with the castle (tower house?).

O’Lionain tells us that the castle of Cluain Mhuineach (Clonmoney) was erected by Fineen, the son of Cumara (McNamara?). (O’Donovan, 1839, Volume 2, page 136). However no date is given but it may have been in the 1450 – 1500 period when the majority of south-east Clare castles/tower houses were built.

Occupation certainly continued to 1580 A.D. as the College List informs us it was then owned by the Earl of Thomond (O’Brien) who lived in nearby Bunratty Castle.

The fact that this site does not appear on the First Edition O.S. Sheets (1839) suggests it must have been levelled by that early date.


O’Donovan, 1839, Volume 2, page 136.
1893, page 186.