Carrigaholt Castle, County Clare

Set on the verge of a cliff overlooking the Shannon Estuary, this is a tall, well-preserved tower house built around the end of the fifteenth century by the MacMahons, chiefs of the Corcabascin Peninsula. Standing in one corner of a tur reted bawn, it has five storeys with a vault on the fourth floor and most of the usual tower-house features, such as a murder hole inside the entrance, a mural winding stair and pistol loops. The castle was occupied by Teige Caech “the short sighted” MacMahon, in September 1588 when seven ships of the Spanish Armada anchored at Carrigaholt. Although aid was refused by the MacMahons, the castle was none theless unsuccessfully besieged shortly afterwards by Sir Conyers Clifford. The following year the renegade fourth Earl of Thomond captured it after a four-day siege and, in breach of the surrender terms, hanged all the defenders. Ownership then passed to the Earl’s brother Donal, who was responsible for inserting many of the castle’s windows as well as the fireplace on the fifth floor, which bears,the date 1603. Donal’s grandson was the celebrated third Viscount Clare who resided at Carrigaholt and raised a regiment of horse known as the “Yellow Dragoons” for James II’s armies. After the forfeiture of his extensive 57,000 acre estate by the Williamites, the castle was acquired by the Burton family who held it until the present century.

Located 7 miles SW of Kilkee on W side of the jetty at Carrigaholt.
Access through field.
NGR: Q 848512.
National Monument.


    'And some time make the time to drive out west Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore...'

    Seamus Heaney 


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