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Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland 1845


Clare Castle

A Description in 1845

A town in the parish of Clare-Abbey, barony of Islands, co. Clare, Munster. It stands on the river Fergus, and on one of the roads from Limerick to Ennis, 2 miles south by east of Ennis, 15 miles north-west of Limerick, and 109 west-south west of Dublin. Its site is pleasant, and even beautiful; and its own appearance, though unpretending, is cleanly and agreeable. An old castle is its most conspicuous feature; and, by being transmuted into a convenient barrack, has rendered the town a regular military station. A good stone-bridge carries the highway across the Fergus. The profusely and picturesquely isleted estuary of the Fergus begins to expand a short distance below the town; and the main body of the stream itself tumbles merrily over a ledge of rocks, beneath the walls of the castle, and is, instantly afterwards, stemmed by the tide. Rich lands of deep alluvium commence at the termination of the tideway, and expanding to considerable breadth, accompany the Fergus to the Shannon; and lands of that broken, craggy, but opulently pastoral kind which prevail over so large an extent of the limestone district of the county, commence almost at the cataract, and stretch up the stream toward Ennis. Clare is the terminating point of the natural navigation of the Fergus; and may be considered as the port of all the central districts of the county. The project of a canal hence to the vicinity of Ennis has frequently been discussed, and was recently reviewed by the Commissioners; but, owing either to jobbing or to commendable prudence-authorities differ and seem almost balanced in saying whether-it has met no effective favour. A quay at Clare affords quite incompetent accommodation to vessels; and the river, over a brief distance below, makes a sharp bend, has an inconvenient shallowness of water, and is much obstructed with rocks and islets. A wooden jetty was, in consequence, planned by the Commissioners for Improving the Shannon Navigation, to be constructed at a little distance below the town, on a spot which offers more facilities than any other in the neighbourhood for the approach of vessels. This work is estimated to cost 4,400; and it will admit of extension at any period when the state of trade may require increased accommodation. In 1835, the exports consisted of 3,067 tons of corn, meal, and flour, and were estimated in value at 16,617; and the imports consisted of 1,671 tons of coals, culm, and cinders, valued at 1,522, and 39 packages of wrought iron and hardwares, valued at 150. A steamer sails twice a-week to Limerick; and a car conveys passengers to it from Ennis. The other public conveyances, in 1838, were 3 coaches in transit between Limerick and Ennis. A dispensary in the town is within the Ennis Poor-law union, and serves for a population of 6,235; and, in 1839-40, it received 108 12s., and expended 107. The ruins of an old abbey stand about a mile to the north, i.e. CLARE-ABBEY. Clare was, at one time, the county-town of co. Clare. In 1278, Mahon O’Brien sustained here a sanguinary defeat in great feudal fight with Donnell, son of Teigue Calishe O’Brien. The town gave the title of Viscount, in 1662, to Sir Daniel O’Brien of Carrigaholt; and the title of Earl, in 1795, to John Fitzgibbon, who had, respectively in 1784, 1789, and 1793, been made Lord-chancellor of Ireland, Baron Fitzgibbon, and Viscount Fitzgibbon. Area of the town, 54 acres. Pop., in 1831, 1,021; in 1841, 879. Houses 148. Families employed chiefly in agriculture, 54; in manufactures and trade, 75; in other pursuits, 49. Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 4; on the directing of labour, 73; on their own manual labour, 91; on means not specified, 10.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, 1845
Courtesy of Clare Local Studies Project

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