Clare County Library
Clare Places: Towns & Villages
Home | Library Catalogue | Forums | Foto | Maps | Archaeology | History | Search this Website | Copyright Notice | Visitors' Book | Contact Us | What's New

Places of Interest

Clare Abbey
Clare Abbey
Clare Abbey was founded in 1189 by Donal Mór O'Brien. It was an abbey of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine and was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Harbison mentions in his writings that the abbey was the scene of a great slaughter in 1278 between various factions of the O'Briens. Parts of the single-aisled church date from the late twelfth century but most of the buildings are fifteenth-century work. These include a well-preserved east window, the tower and the domestic buildings with their unusual floral window at the south-eastern corner. The church and charter were reconfirmed by Thady, Bishop of Killaloe, in 1461. Henry VIII granted the abbey to the Baron of Ibrickan in 1543 and the Earls of Thomond were confirmed as owners in 1620 and 1661. The Augustinians remained in the abbey until 1650. By 1703 the abbey was a ruin, but there was a good "thatched house, an orchard and 2 or 3 cabins nearby", according to Moland's survey.
  • THE OLD CLARE HILL GRAVEYARD contains the graves of many of the 1832 cholera victims. They are buried in the lower area in unmarked graves. Only three headstones mark the graves of these victims, William Pinion, Mary Miller and James Read. A fourth headstone is a memorial to the Rev. David O'Brien, C.C., who was buried in an unmarked grave.

  • KILLOO contains an old church ruin and graveyard on the opposite side of the river from Clare Abbey or Clarecastle. The name is derived from Cill-Lugha, the church of Lugh, one of the Irish saints of that name who are venerated on June 16th or July 1st.

  • KILLONE CONVENT: The convent of Cill Eoin or the convent of St. John's Church, was the first convent of Augustinian nuns in County Clare. "The Annals of Inisfallen", 1259-1260, mention the death of "Slaney, O Bryan's daughter, Abbesse of Kill Eoin, chief in devotion, almes-deedes and hospitality of all women in Munster." Another abbess, Dubcollaithig Breyn, died in 1350. In 1584 the convent was vested in the crown. One legend relates how Honora O'Brien became a nun in Killone but ran off with Sir Roger O'Shaughnessy of Gort and presented him with a son and daughter before getting the Pope's dispensation for their marriage. It is mentioned in the "Visitation of Killaloe" in 1617 as the property of Baron Inchiquin. It was last occupied at the end of the sixteenth century. The east window is its most interesting feature, being double with two semi-circular headed lights lined with smooth stonework. Killone Convent by T.J. Westropp

  • KILLONE LAKE was the abode of a mermaid who used to swim up a small brook and steal wine from either the crypt beneath the church or the cellar of Newhall. She was stabbed by a butler of the O'Briens, or shot by one of the "Black" MacDonnells, but managed to drag herself back into the lake and every forty years or so the lake is supposed to turn red. Ballybeg Lake lies to the north of Killone Lake.

  • ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST'S WELL was once the venue of a yearly pattern in June. Situated at the northern end of the Killone Lake, it was a particularly popular place of pilgrimage for the people of Ennis and Clarecastle. St John's Holy Well by T.J. Westropp

  • KILLONE CASTLE is just a ruined stump on an eminence to the north of Newhall House.

  • NEWHALL, or rather the older part of it, is supposed to have been built with stones from Killone castle. The rest of the house dates from the mid-eighteenth century. The front of the house was probably designed by Francis Bindon and it was built by Charles MacDonnell who bought Newhall in 1764 after moving from his family seat at Kilkee.

  • BARNTICK is one of the oldest occupied houses in the county. It was built in 1661.

  • CARNELLY HOUSE is an eighteenth century building designed by Francis Bindon (1690-1765) Maire Ruadh of Leamaneh is supposed to have been buried here in a hollow tree and her ghost haunts the drive. Peter "The Packer" O'Brien was born in Carnelly House in 1842. His father depleted the family funds during the Great Hunger by contributing heavily to the relief schemes around Clarecastle. Carnelly was the home of Dermot F. Gleeson, author of "A History of the Diocese of Killaloe"

  • ROCHE IRELAND, formerly the Syntex Plant, is a large employer in the vicinity. Syntex Ireland, a pharmaceutical plant, was established in 1976. It is situated on top of Clare Hill.

  • THE HARBOUR AT CLARECASTLE: Given its position at the head of the Fergus estuary, the harbour was an important port for more than three centuries and played a huge part in the local economy. Clarecastle was not only the outport of Ennis, but also the port of mid-Clare, handling large volumes of imports and exports. The exports were chiefly agricultural products - oats, barley and wheat, besides other produce such as butter and bacon. The cargoes imported included coal, timber, iron, salt and provisions.

While most of the trade was with ports like Liverpool, Glasgow and London, there were also shipping links to Canada, Scandinavia and other European countries. The port trade slowly declined in the nineteenth century due to competition from the Ennis-Limerick railway, opened in 1859, and from motor transport in the twentieth century. The last cargo vessel to dock at the extensive quays of Clarecastle was the M.V. "Sisu" from Sweden in 1969.

However, the harbour is still the base for the local fishing fleet. The tradition of drift net fishing for salmon on the Fergus estuary dates back for centuries and the fishing licences were handed down from father to son among certain families. Today however, drift-net fishing is more of a hobby than a full time occupation.