Clare County Library
Clare Places: Towns & Villages
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Places of Interest

  • CRATLOEMOYLE CASTLE: This tower house is sometimes referred to simply as Cratloe castle. It stands about fifty yards north of the main Ennis to Limerick road and about five miles west of Limerick city. The tower is five storeys high with three large halls over each other and rises to a height of about sixty five feet. It was probably built early in the sixteenth century, though some claim a date of 1610 for its construction. It was thought to have been built by Sean, son of Donnchadh MacNamara who lived in the early seventeenth century, but this is unlikely as the castle is mentioned in many documents before his time. It is possible that some of the later building in the castle was carried out by him.
    In 1570 the castle was owned by Seán, son of Tadhg MacConmara and later passed to the chiefs of MacConmara. A John MacNamara was the last of the main stem of the MacNamaras. He died without issue about 1780. He was probably the last occupant of Cratloe Moyle castle. The Cratloe Moyle estate was then purchased by George Quin of Quinsborough near Limerick and so the patrimonial lands passed totally out of MacNamara hands after nearly 700 years continuous possession. Cratloe Moyle castle was purchased in 1973 by Bob Traynor, an Irish American. He later sold the surrounding land to Bearing Components Ltd. but retained ownership of the castle.
  • CRATLOEMOYLE CHURCH is situated about one hundred yards away from the castle of the same name. It does not appear to have been employed as a place of sepulture, but was probably used as an oratory by the inhabitants of the castle.
  • ST. JOHN'S WELL is located a short distance away from Cratloemoyle castle. It was a holy well dedicated to St. John. On his feast day crowds gathered here to make "the rounds" of the well. The water in the well was used as a cure for sore eyes and other ailments.
  • CRATLOE KEEL CASTLE is directly across the main carriageway from Cratloemoyle. The tower house is built on top of a high outcrop of limestone which has been cut away vertically on the north and east sides, revealing a twelve foot cliff face on top of which was built the bawn wall. This tower is said to have been built by Seán MacNamara in the latter part of the fifteenth century. In 1580 Domhnaill MacNamara lived here. By 1615 it had been divided into apartments by Cumarra MacNamara and James Roche. In 1641 it had passed to James Marten, a Dutch protestant. In the 1650's John Cooper purchased the land and lived there. He was the third husband of Máire Ruadh.  She also spent some time here. Her son left it in trust to her in 1672. Máire Ruadh died around 1706, possibly in Cratloe Keel. After her death the tower passed to the Punch family who still retain ownership. Sometimes known as Punch's castle, it was their family home up to the late 1950's. Its present condition was caused by an accidental fire some years later but the walls of both the castle and the adjoining house, a much later addition, are still standing.
  • CRATLOE MORE CASTLE is about half a mile to the south-west of Cratloe Keel on the banks of the Shannon. The site is quite extensive. It contains vestiges of a bawn, a strong gate and a nineteenth century farmhouse in ruins. The south wall of the bawn is almost circular and may be part of an earlier fortification or medieval caiseal. The castle was sometimes referred to as Castle Donnell and as such appears on Baptista Boazio's map of Ireland of 1609. According to the writings of Twigge it was built by Seán, son of Donnchadh MacNamara. In 1570 it was inhabited by Teige MacNamara and in the castle list for 1584 it was held by Domhnall MacTeige MacNamara. However, the castle probably dates from about a century earlier and was undoubtedly built by the MacNamaras to provide access to the Shannon for trading purposes. Its siting was also of strategic importance being midway between Limerick City and Bunratty Castle by river. In 1610 John MacNamara of Dangan laid claim to Cratloe More but lost it to the Earl of Thomond. It was reclaimed by MacNamara Finn in 1624 but by 1730 it had been demolished and the stones used to build Cratloe Woods House.
  • CRATLOE WOODS HOUSE was reputedly started in 1730 and it was extended considerably by the mid-nineteenth century. Set in its own grounds, it is an impressive example of the Irish long house which existed since medieval times. Resided in by members of the O'Brien family in 1783, it was then called Cratloe Hall. In more recent years the Stafford O'Briens moved to Cratloe Woods. Up until 1990 Robert Guy O'Brien lived there. Robert's cousins, the Brickendens, moved to Cratloe Woods from Co. Wicklow. The house is open to the public during the Summer months.
  • GARRANON WOODS: The oak woods are in good condition and the trees are very mature English and sessile oak. The woodland has been designated an area of Scientific Interest (A.S.I.) by the office of Public Works.
  • CRATLOE FOREST, by comparison to Garranon Woods, is very young. This is a commercial woodland, managed by Coillte. The trees comprise Spruce, Pine and Larch.
  • CRATLOE WOODS: A trail runs through the woodland which will take you all around the length of the wood. The trail is 3 km. long and has an obstacle course for the more adventurous. Picnic sites are dotted all around the area. The Shannon Estuary, Bunratty and the unique Clare landscape can be seen from the viewing points.
  • CRATLOE MEGALITH lies at a point west of the Cratloe to Collooney railway line. Known as the BALLINPHUNTA wedge-shaped gallery grave, this ancient tomb stands in a field about fifty yards south of Crughaun Church. Westropp writes "that this cist is double…," but apart from the presence of the two roof stones there is no clear evidence to support this assumption.
  • CRUGHAUN CHURCH may take its name, the church of the little hall (or mound), from the mound that once covered the nearby megalithic tomb or cromlech. It was large enough to accommodate a numerous congregation and the ruin is still in a tolerable state of preservation, with an extensive graveyard surrounding it. The whole is situated in the townland of Brickhill, within Kilfentinan Parish.
  • CRATLOE'S "LITTLE CHURCH": A late eighteenth century Victorian church, which is in the diocese of Limerick, was constructed here. However, the single-aisle, thatched church was demolished and a new edifice erected in 1858. In 1986 an extensive renovation programme was launched. The work was completed in 1988.
  • LOURDES GROTTO: CRATLOELOURDES GROTTO: Overlooking the church from high on the hill is the grotto built by voluntary local labour in 1932.
  • CRATLOE HILLS are still considered a boundary established over eight centuries ago between the dioceses of Limerick and Killaloe.
  • GALLOWS HILL is mentioned by Thomas Dineley who spent some time in South Clare in 1680 and 1681. He described the area between Sixmilebridge and Limerick, "The soil is generally rude, boggy, neglected, woody, shrubby, wild, marshy, and great bogs and ponds are seen upon the very tops of hills and mountains as is Gallows Hill…".
    The Gallows site can still be seen on the summit. This may have been built on top of an ancient burial mound, an apt location for the grisly work continued above it. Despite that, the view from the top of this old execution site is one of the most spectacular in the county. Nearby is a car park from which the less energetic can avail of the views. The radar domes to the south of the road overlook Limerick City and the Shannon River.
  • BALLYMORRIS HOUSE, also called BUNKERS HILL, is a nineteenth century house built on what was once an island. This was the home of James Frost, author of "The History and Topography of the County of Clare", published in 1893. The house was used as an I.R.A. Brigade Headquarters during the War of Independence.
  • PORTDRINE is a small village which has expanded over the past few decades. During the Great Hunger a soup kitchen known as the Cratloe soup house operated here. Portdrine is derived from "port", meaning a bank and "draigheann", the place of the blackthorns or sloe bushes.
  • CILL AN BHOTHAIR, the church of the road, is in Ballyliddane. This cillín or children's burial ground is listed in the early Ordnance Survey map as Killavoher. There is only one flagstone in the graveyard although a few stones can be seen sticking out of the ground. The ruins of the old parish church of Kilfentinan can still be seen in the graveyard of that name.
  • MEELICK, Killely or Killeely was described in 1837 as being partly within the North Liberties of the city of Limerick but chiefly in Clare, three miles north west from the city, on the mail road to Ennis and on the river Shannon. The parish which comprised 5,135 acres was nearly equally divided between tillage and pasture. It extended nearly to the old Thomond bridge at Limerick and contained a constabulary station, as did Cratloe and Thomond Gate. The patron saint of the parish may be the virgin saint Faoile of Atheliath Meadraidhe in County Galway.
  • "MORRISSEY'S CHAIR": A mountain stream runs under Barrly-Thomous Bridge, built in 1837. A large flat-topped rock can be seen on the bank above a very obvious stream fording point. A short surviving stretch of the old stage road can be seen inside the 1837 road ditch. A highwayman called Morrissey, armed with a blunderbuss, sat on this rock now known as "Morrisseys Chair". He ambushed the wealthy travellers as the stage coach negotiated the difficult fording point. He relieved them of their gold, silver and other valuables which he gave mostly to the Cratloe poor. His generosity made him a hero among the Cratloe people. A local blacksmith made a "Ned Kelly" type suit of armour for Morrissey which, however, did not protect his ankles. He was injured in the ankle by a policeman, and though this didn't stop Morrissey's exploits, it did slow down his highway activities. He died years later in his bed in a small cottage in the forest below Barrly-Thomous Bridge. On his death-bed his neighbours asked him where he had hidden all his gold and silver. He replied "in one of the four corners of Cratloe Wood". Another version of his reply is that the riches are hidden under a tree which has the ace of hearts carved on it. To safeguard his treasure the people of Cratloe carved the ace of hearts on many of the trees in Cratloe Woods… and there it remains to this day!