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Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839

Parish of Kilkeedy (b)

The celebrated Castle of Cluain Dubhain is situated in this Parish near Rockvale, the residence of James Darcy, Esq. Only one side of it remains perfect, which measures twenty eight feet six inches in length and about sixty feet in height. All its outworks have been long since destroyed. I was entirely disappointed in this Castle, for I expected to find it as large as the Castle of Ballintober or Trim!

The following notices of this Castle occur in the Annals of the Four Masters from which it would appear to have been a fortress of great strength, of which, however, it exhibits now but little appearance.
It is situated about six Irish miles to the northeast of Corofin. The name is now pronounced Cluan-Uain (the a in Uain pronounced like a in dubhan, a kidney). It is probable that this Castle had strong and extensive outworks, but they cannot now be traced. I hope Mr. Wakeman will make a careful sketch of the remains of this Castle, which was the best fortified in Ireland in 1586.

Annals of the Four Masters.

Cluain-Dubhain. A.D. 1569. The Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Sir Henry Sidney, in the Autumn of this year, mustered a great Army to march against the Momonians notwithstanding the Convenant and Treaty of Peace they had agreed to . . . . . The Chief Justice remained for some time in Cork, during which time those who had leagued with James in the war came under his protection and requested pardon. From thence the Justice passed into Limerick, and on his way from Cork to Limerick demolished some of the Towns of Munster. On this expedition he took Cluain Dubhain and Baile-Ui-Bheacain in Thomond, (Baile Ui Beachan now Ballyvaghan or Ballvaughan, a village in the Parish of Drumcreehy near which are the ruins of a Castle. See my letter on that Parish. The O’Beachains are now called Vaughans - J.O’D.) and afterwards proceeded to Galway.

A.D. 1586. The same Governor, Sir Richard Bingham, laid siege to Cluain Dubhain then in the possession of Mahon, the son of Torlogh, who was son of Mahon, who was son of Torlogh, who was son of Mahon O’Brien, from whom the Sliocht Mahon are named. A certain number of the Governor’s people were left to carry on the siege for three months, at the expiration of which time, that is on the 22nd of same month they made vigorous exertions to take the Castle. But while Mahon stood on the battlements of the Castle throwing down stones and rocks upon those who were around it, and applying engines against it to demolish it, he received a musquet bullet in the head and was killed. The warders, after Mahon’s death, delivered up the Castle, but though they expected quarter, they did not receive it. The western side of the Castle was razed to the ground. The name and character of Sir Richard Bingham were exalted by this achievement, for there was not an inland Castle in Ireland better fortified and more impregnable than Cluain-Dubhain.

Baile Ui Bheachain. The Wood of Siudain is near . . . . .
A.D. 1569. See Cluain-Dubhain at this year, page 438.

Baile Ui Beachain signifies the Town or Townland of O’Beachain, a family name now anglicised Vaughan, and Baile Ui Bheacain, which is a fair town in the Parish of Drumcreehy in the Barony of Burren, is always now anglicised Ballyvaughan.