An Ruadhán - The Alder
An Ruadhán - The Alder. Ruan is a small village, and was the first stop on the old west Clare Railway which was operational until 1961.
Situated close to Dromore Lake and woodlands (covering close on 1,000 acres), the area has a rich historical and archaeological heritage.
Dromore is renowned for its diversity of flora and fauna. The five lakes of Dromore are one of the country’s prime fishing areas.
The wood is a wildlife sanctuary and the animals of the forest include badgers, pine martens, squirrels and foxes.
Two self guiding nature trails of approximately one hour exist within the woodland, starting at the main car park.
Attack on Ruan Barracks
The attack was carried out by the Mid-Clare Brigade of the IRA in the early hours of the morning of the 14th October 1920. They gained entrance as a constable goes for the milk and leaves the back gate open. There were 13 RIC men in the barracks. One RIC man was killed (Constable John Longhead) and two others are wounded (Constables Roddy and Farrelly).
Two other constables are reported missing - while one re-appears another (Constable William Carroll), according to Abbott, is not heard from again. However, Barrett claims that Carroll joined the IRA and was wounded at the Monreal ambush on 18th Decemebr 1920.
There were 32 IRA men in the attacking party with many others blocking roads in the vicinity. Among the arms captured by the IRA are 15 rifles and 14 revolvers. The captured RIC men are released after they are drilled and give undertaking not to engage in reprisals.
Among the IRA men were Joe Barrett, Sean Casey and Ignatius O'Neill.
“The Castles and Towerhouses of County Clare”.
By Martin Breen and Ristéard Ua Cróinín.
As this web page is of interest mainly to Ruan parish, we will deal only with those castles and towerhouses which pertain to the area.
We have been surveying and recording these structures, of which there are approximately 230 sites and ruins, for over 20 years with the long-term view of publishing our findings in book form. Each castle is dealt with in 4 parts: Architectural description, measured and drawn survey of each site, history and photographs.
We hope you enjoy the article and that there is something of interest to you all.
The castle which we have chosen is Moyree Castle, near the village of Ruan. It was owned by a branch of the ruling O’Brien family during most of its life, though as usual it was later disposed of to other families after the 1641 Catholic Rebellion. The castle is in still good condition, mostly due to the great care and attention which its late owner, Mr. Frank Brew, bestowed on it during his lifetime. For his tireless work in maintaining and preserving this castle for future generations, and indeed for his contribution to local history and folklore, he deserves our gratitude and thanks.
So read on and enjoy the history.
The castle of Moyree was an O'Brien stronghold. According to Westropp it belongs to a slightly later date than the period from 1450 to 1500 which has been called the "golden age" of castle-building in Thomond.(1) He uses Moyree as an example when dealing with the different features of castles in Co. Clare. He cites it as an example of (a) a castle with a bawn, (b) a castle with fireplaces fitted into older windows, and (c) a castle with the various types of defence features incorporated into its building which are common to many other castles in the county.(2)
In 1570 the castle was owned by Turlough O'Brien, brother of Conor, 3rd Earl of Thomond. In that year Turlough was apparently in high favour with the government and was security for the peaceful behaviour of several of the principal gentlemen of the county.(3) Turlough O'Brien had a turbulent career with the English Government. In 1576 he was detained in irons by the Queen's deputy, Sir Henry Sidney.(4) He obviously regained favour again as he was sheriff of Co. Clare from 1578 to 1580. He was suspected of treason and arrested in March, 1580.(5) An order was sent to the president of Connaught saying, "Turlagh the Earl's brother and late sheriff of Clare to be by you committed to the provost marshall or any other jail." Despite a large bribe being offered for his life, he was hanged at Galway, in May, 1581, after enduring more than twelve months imprisonment. It was been suggested that some all-powerful influences were at work for his destruction in order to prevent a war of succession in Thomond such as took place a short time before on the accession of Donough, 2nd Earl (Turlough's father). In any case Turlough's brother Conor, 3rd Earl, died that year and his son Donough, who had been reared at the English court, succeeded as 4th Earl. Turlough's son, Teige, was executed in 1596 "after having been a long time engaged in plundering", perhaps trying to avenge his father's death.(6)
The castle list for 1574 records that Moyree was the property of the Earl of Thomond.(7) The castle remained the property of the Earl and in 1620 a conveyance of some land at Moyree is recorded to Teige O'Brien at Dromore, brother of Donough, 4th Earl.(8) In 1641 Moyree was owned by the O'Griffeys and O'Hehirs. They retained ownership after the Catholic Rebellion of 1641, a period during which most of the old Irish landowners lost their property for their part in that rebellion, to the new English settlers.(9) A letter from the O'Brien papers dated 1706, from a Mr. Hickie to Sir Donat O'Brien, enquires about some land exchange at Moyree for land in the Burren.(10) Westropp records a legend of fratricide at Moyree, where an O'Brien defended himself against his avenging kindsman, Sir Donat O'Brien about 1660-1680.(11) He also records lightening damage at Moyree in 1899 when a bolt of lightening passed down the chimney, bursting the arch of the fireplace, killed several pigs in the lower room and also struck the nearby farmhouse.(12) The castle was inhabited in 1837(13) and O'Donovan records in 1839 that it was in a tolerable state of preservation, though he did not say if it was still inhabited.(14)
The English traveller and writer, Thomas Dineley, recorded some curious stories on his journey through Co. Clare in 1680. At Moyree he noted the following tale "It is discoursed also, and by very credible persons, that at Muyree castle, in this county of Clare, twords Galloway side, was taken a prodigious Pike with two Ducks in its Gorge or Belly, one whereof was so fresh, that took out and roasted prov'd a very good dish."(15)
Westropp also provided us with a drawing of the castle in 1899 showing that it was then roofless and also showing the corner machicoulis which has since been removed.(16)
Moyree Castle:- References
(1)T.J.Westropp, The Lesser Castles or Peel Towers of Co. Clare. p352. (2)Ibid p356. (3)Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. 1913 p342. (4)Ibid p34. (5)J.R.S.A.I. 1890 p69. (6)J.R.S.A.I. 1913 pp343-344. (7)The North Munster Journal. 1910. Vol. I, p83. (8)John Ainsworth. The Inchiquin Manuscripts. No. 1017. (9)James Frost. The History and Topography of Co. Clare. p489. (10)I.M. no. 267. (11)Peel Towers p361. (12)Ibid p359. (13)Samuel Lewis. Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. Vol. I. p335. (14)Ordnance Survey Letters of Co. Clare. vol. I p43. (15)The Journal of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society. vol. VI 1867 p77. (16)Peel Towers Plate XVII
Moyree Castle (Magh Righe = The Field of Plunder - (Frost))
CL 018-12---, 018-/09/3, 13786/19026, Castlequarter (Inchiquin), Moyree Castle (in ruins), (1916), O.D. 0-100.
Tower House and Bawn:
Moyree Castle which stands at the SW corner of a quadrangular bawn over-looking the Moyree River to the S is one of the most complete tower houses in Co. Clare. Standing on a rectangular base (12m N-S and 8.3m E-W) it rises through six storeys (narrow section) to a height of c.18m including the gables over the N and S walls.
Built of squared limestone rubble set in mortared erratic courses on a base-batter the tower house contains very finely cut features e.g. doorways, loops, quoins, fireplaces etc. The main pointed arched doorway under a relieving arch in the N wall gives access to the entrance lobby under a rectangular murder-hole covered by three removable flagstones. To the W is the vaulted porter’s lodge (Axis N-S) with a narrow window in the N wall.
The main chamber contains three large squared and splayed embrasures for loops in the E, S and W walls. The E embrasure has been broken out in the past while the W embrasure once served as a fireplace, the remains of an external chimney can be seen above the loop. There is a narrow vertical cutting in the N wall of this room beside the N.E corner. The function of this is unclear but it may have been an attempt to create another chimney.
To the E of the entrance lobby is the stairwell passage through a damaged pointed arched doorway. Many of the stairs have been replaced in concrete, in an admirable fashion by the owner, Mr. Brew, providing access for visitors to the upper storeys.
The stairwell is lit throughout by loops in the N and E walls with an angle-loop at 3rd floor level. As the wooden floors are gone it is possible to see up through the narrow chambers in the tower. The floors rested on corbels in the N and S walls except the 4th floor lock-up chamber which had floor boards resting on a continuous angular stone wall-plate projecting from the N and S walls. The ceiling of this room is vaulted (axis E-W) but the vault is holed badly.
Access to the narrow rooms from the stairwell was originally through narrow pointed arched doorways but these were blocked up, probably in the 17th century to create chimney flues to serve two very fine fireplaces inserted on the 2nd and third floors. The 2nd floor fireplace which is made of carved limestone with a stone mantle contains a pair of small ambreys in each side of the chimney.
An entrance from the narrow section to the wider section of the tower house was broken out at 1st floor level and stone steps were installed under a wide arch, the full width of the tower house which supports the garderobe passage above. The main room on the 1st floor once had a very large fireplace (2.25m wide) against the W wall but only the jambs remain. The room is lit by three loops in squared and splayed embrasures, the loop in the S wall having been removed probably to accommodate a larger window (a 17th century mullion is lying on the ground floor). This window was later blocked up again to reduce its width.
The loop in the W wall is close to the S.W corner to accommodate the large fireplace. This may indicate that the fireplace at this level (1st floor) was an integral part of the structure, unlike many other tower houses where fireplaces were an afterthought. This fact may help date the tower house to the early 16th c. Also in this room is a double ambrey in the S.E. corner. The floor above was carried on square joists (0.3m x 0.3m) set into walls and supported by a wall-plate resting on corbels in the E and W walls. There is a lot of roughcast rendering finished in a lime putty remaining in this room which may have been brightly painted. It was known locally as “The Red Room”.
The main chamber on the 2nd floor stood on wooden floorboards. The wall of this room narrowed by c.8cm. to allow the boards to rest on the “shelf” of the wall below. This room is lit by three round headed loops in squared and splayed embrasures. There are double ambreys in the S.E and SW corners. There was a fireplace in the W wall, now removed, but it is unlikely that it was contemporary with the building. There are two garderobe passages, one above the other, between the 3rd floor and the solar. The lower one is entered from the stairwell through a narrow pointed arched doorway or from the main room through a lintelled doorway. The upper passage is reached from the stair well and is covered by parallel flagstones under the floor of the solar. There is a slop stone in the E wall and both garderobes empty through a shaft in the W wall.
A similar window was installed in Dysert O’Dea Castle, in the same wall, at the same level.
Access to the solar or upper main room is gained through a pointed arched doorway from the stairwell. Immediately beside this is a similar narrow doorway which leads upwards to the wall-walk. Therefore one could only reach the battlements by entering the solar first. The room is lit by four tall double-light, mullioned windows with ogee-heads set in finely cut arched, splayed embrasures - one in each wall. The E wall also contains a narrow loop near the SE corner and a slopstone near the NE corner. There are ambreys in the W wall at the N W and SW corners and evidence that there once was a fireplace in the centre of the W wall - replacing an original ambrey.
The S gable is carried on a triple blind arcade protruding c.40cm from the wall and springing from a pair of corbels on each side of the window. The N gable stands on a wide arch spanning the room from the W wall to the stairwell. At the centre of this arch is a narrow chute from the wall-walk outside the gable.
The wall-walk is reached through a narrow lintelled doorway from the stairwell and gave access to the battlements around the roof including a bartizan above the SE corner and a machicoulis over the main doorway. The wall-walk is covered with narrow overlapping flagstones sloping outwards. The tower house was built in two sections above the base batter, (a common feature in Co. Clare tower houses) but after the 3rd floor it was completed as one section.
The bawn (c50m N-S and 30m E-W) stands on raised ground above the surrounding fields and most of the foundations are intact. The S and E walls are skirted by the Moyree River and a complete but badly cracked turret, containing four shot-holes, remains c.4m E of the tower house. This turret may have defended the corner of a smaller bawn (as at Ballyportry) but little evidence of this remains. Some masonry near the entrance to the bawn may have been part of a gate tower.
Surveyed Feb. ’96
Ruan is a small village situated close to Dromore Lake. It derives its name from "Ruan", an old Irish term for the alder tree which was used in olden times to dye wool red.
The parish of Ruan-Dysert on the fringes of the Burren is an area steeped in history and lore.
Fairs were held at Ruan on June 17th and September 26th, the latter being one of the principal sheep fairs in the county.
At Dysert and Ruan are stations of the constabulary police.
In 1837 about 660 children are educated in two public schools at Dysert and Ruan, and about 70 in a private school.
According to Guy's Directory of 1893 Sergeant John Kelly was in charge of Ruan station-
Schools teachers were:-
Hugh Brady; Miss Bridget Reynolds
Gentry and Clergy.
Flannery, Rev Danl, P P, Cahirlough
Monahan, Rev Jas, C C, Dysart
Kelly, J B, Port house
Architect and Builder.
Foley, Thomas, Ballymacrogan
Crowe, John, Ballyogan, Crowe, Martin, Ballyteige, Foley, John, Ballymacrogan
In more recent years the opening of the marts led to the demise of the fairs which had brought a wealth of colour and excitement to the village.
A new school was opened on the outskirts of the village in 1977 and the revamped old building remains in service as the local Community Centre. The Community Hall provides a focal point for local activities such as boxing, badminton and social events.
The area has a rich cultural and sporting tradition with Irish music and hurling receiving special attention.
The game of hurling was not played in Ruan long ago but the game of football was.
All the young men of the parish used to come to a certain field after dinner on a Sunday and they used to make two teams, one from each side of the parish - those north & east of the village on one side and those from the south & west of the village on the other.
There were no points in those days. The referee scarcely ever blew the whistle for fouls. It was only when a row started (which was often in those days) that he interfered, and when he had restored peace the game re-started. They continued at the game until dusk and then returned to their respective homes. They played in different townlands on different Sundays.
The ball used was bigger than that now used. It sometimes consisted of a pig's bladder covered with leather by a local shoemaker and was scarecely round.
Parish of Dysart 1837
A parish, in the barony of Inchiquin, county of Clare, and province of Munster, 41/2 miles (N. W.) from Ennis, on the road to Corofin ; containing 7279 inhabitants. This parish was formerly called Dysert O’Dea, from its having been the territory of the sept of that name. It comprehends the subdivisions of Inagh and Ruan, and contains 23,417 statute acres, as rated for the county cess, of which a large portion consists of coarse mountain pasture. There are about 300 plantation acres of common, 100 acres of wood, and 100 acres of bog. The waste land consists chiefly of crag and underwood, and several hundred acres are covered with water, there being a number of lakes that in winter overflow the adjoining land to a considerable extent. Limestone abounds, and is burnt for manure; and the state of agriculture is gradually improving. The river Fergus runs through the greater part of the parish, through Tedane and other lakes, to Clare Town. Fairs are held at Ruan on June 17th and Sept. 26th, the latter being one of the principal sheep fairs in the county. At Dysert and Ruan are stations of the constabulary police. A court for the manor of Inchiquin is occasionally held by the seneschal, for the recovery of small debts. The gentlemen’s seats are Toonagh, the residence of C. O’Brien, Esq. ; Tierna, of Hewitt Bridgeman, Esq. ; Port, of H. O’Loghlen, Esq., Carhue, of E. Synge, Esq. ; Fountain, of E. Powell, Esq. ; Rockview, of R. O’Loghlen, Esq. ; Cogia, of T. Lingard, Esq. ; and Drumore, the property of R. Crowe, Esq. The parish is in the diocese of Killaloe : the rectory forms part of the union and corps of the prebend of Rath, and the vicarage, part of the union of Kilneboy. The tithes amount to £250. 13. 9., of which £165. 1. 23/4. is payable to the rector, £83. 17. 11. to the vicar, and £1. 14. 71/4. to the prebendary of Tomgraney. There is a glebe of one plantation acre. In the R. C. divisions its northern and middle portions form the union or district of Dysert ; and the south-western portion (Inagh) gives name to a district, which also includes the parish of Kilnemona. In the former district are the chapels of Dysert and Ruan, and in the latter, those of Inch and Kilnemona. The chapel at Ruan was rebuilt by subscription in 1834. About 660 children are educated in two public schools at Dysert and Ruan, and about 70 in a private school ; to that at Dysert, E. Synge, Esq., contributes £24 per annum. Of the ruins of the churches of Dysert, Ruan, and Kiltala, the first is distinguished by its antiquity, and by the richly sculptured Saxon arch forming the doorway. Near these ruins are the remains of an ancient round tower, of which 30 feet are still standing ; about 20 feet from the ground is a doorway, and 10 feet higher are the remains of another ; at each stage the dimensions of the tower diminish, and outside the second story is a projecting belting-course. An ancient cross lies on the ground, bearing the effigy of a bishop, supposed to represent St. Monalagh, and other figures. A short distance from the ruins of Dysert church are those of the castle of that name, formerly the residence of the O’Deas ; and at Mahre, Ballygriffy, and Port, are the ruins of similar castles : those of Port, standing on the verge of a lake, have a picturesque appearance. In a house in this parish, the ruins of which can scarcely be traced, the old song to the air of "Carolan’s receipt for drinking whiskey" is said to have been composed by three poets, of whom a ridiculous story is related concering the manner of writing it. For an account of the ancient sepulchral monument on Mount Callan, which extends into this parish.
Located on the edge of Dromore Lough, O'Briens Castle is a 17th century tower house (in runins) located in the 400 hectare