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

Historical Background

Shannon AirportShannon is Clare's newest town. It is also an important industrial location and the site of the world's first duty free airport. The history of the area is as old as that of most other parts of the county. However, in no other place have the changes been so profound and so sudden. The change from flat marshy ground populated mainly by snipes and hares to the present hub of international travel and trade has taken less than 45 years.

Early man in Ireland would have travelled mainly by water and along the edges of rivers, and would have lived close to these routes due to the heavy forestation. The townlands now occupied by the Shannon complex, Rineanna, Drumgeely, Tullyglass, Ballymurtagh, Tullyvarraga and Smithstown are all easily accessible from the river and must have been relatively highly populated from earliest times.

There is definate evidence of man's presence at Tullyglass over 4,000 years ago, following the find of a stone axe head there. It can be assumed that habitation continued throughout the ages, though very little remains as proof of this. However, during the Viking control of Limerick, outlying areas and particularly the river route would have been within their sphere of influence. Tradition has it that it was the Vikings who built the first river banks in the area, thus salvaging much of the land now occupied by Shannon.

During the years of Norman occupation of Bunratty (mid-thirteenth century to early fourteenth century), the manor of Bunratty would have included all of the lands west from the castle, and north past the present village of Newmarket-on-Fergus. In 1277 Thomas de Clare took over the manor of Bunratty and installed many of his kinsmen in the locality. The Rineanna area was given to Bagot, and the adjoining area of Carrigerry to Peppard.

Excavations in 1941 and 1959 unearthed some more evidence of life in the area. During some early work at the airport in 1941 an ancient roadway had to be destroyed, but during examination by the museum an English sixpence of Elizabeth I dated 1586 was found. In 1959 during construction work on the main jet runway, two forts were excavated which yielded evidence of habitation during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.