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119. Clonony Castle and Shannon Harbour, Co. Offaly

SCENES from IRELAND


Clonony Castle

The entrance to Clonony Castle. Clonony Tower House was built by the MacCoughlan family before 1519 and was one of the principal strongholds of Dealbhna Eathra. In 1519 it was the scene of the death of the Prior of Gallen monastery who was an heir to the Kingship of Dealbhna Eathra.

 

First view of the central 'keep' or fortified tower of Clonony Castle.

Clonony Castle (Caisleán Chluain Damhna) is a Tudor castle built by the MacCoughlan clan, and ceded to Henry VIII by John Óg MacCoghlan, then to Thomas Boleyn when Henry wanted to marry his daughter Anne.[1] Mary and Elizabeth Boleyn, second cousins to Queen Elizabeth I, lived out their lives in this castle and their tombstone still stands on the castle grounds (see below). The castle was occupied from 1612 to about 1620 by Matthew de Renzi (1577–1634), a London cloth merchant originally from Cologne in Germany, who created the first English-Irish dictionary, according to his tombstone in Athlone. He acquired it after it had been forfeited by the MacCoghlans during the Nine Years' War.

 

The fifty-foot tower, an Irish National Monument, is surrounded by gardens and a moat. The castle is a few miles from Clonmacnoise, an ancient seat of Irish learning. Shannon Harbour and the towns of Cloghan, Banagher and Shannonbridge are close by. The castle is currently being restored, and is open to the public at no cost, and although there are no specific hours, the owners try to keep the castle open and encourage tours. The castle has all the basic features of a tower house of this period such as machicolation, murder hole, base batter, mural passages, spiral staircase, gun-loops, garderobe and bawn. The first floor had collapsed but has been replaced in recent restoration works by the owners. The castle also boasts a barrel-vaulted ceiling making up the second floor which has been restored. The Tower House is three storeys high with an entrance in the west wall with a machicolation above it. There is a fire-proof vault over the ground floor in the interior and a spiral stair leads to the upper floors. There are round-headed, ogee-headed and flat headed windows. The bawn wall with its two square corner towers and entrance, which had a coat of arms, was reconstructed in the nineteenth century and gives a good impression of how an original Tower House might have looked, with a set of perimeter and internal defences. The inner bawn building in front of the west entrance appears to be a nineteenth-century construction.

 

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The interior of one of the floors of Clonony Castle.

 

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An original and spiral steps to an upper floor of Clonony Castle.

 

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The strong curved ceiling vaulting in Clonony Castle.

 

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Within the bawn there is a graveslab known locally as the monument of 'Queen Elizabeth’s cousins', which was brought here from a nearby quarry. The inscription reads:
'HERE UNDER LEYS ELIZABETH AND MARY BULLYN DAUGHTERS OF THOMAS BULLYN SON OF GEORGE BULLYN THE SON OF GEORGE BULLYN VISCOUNT ROCHFORD SON OF SR THOMAS BULLYN EARL OF ORMONDE AND WILSHIRE'


Shannon Harbour

The peaceful Grand Canal at the Rectory B&B, Shannon Harbour

 

The D & S McIntyre pub at the Rectory B&B, Shannon Harbour.

 

Flynn's Bar on Main Street in ?


The Rectory B&B near Shannon Harbour and beside it a ruined Church of Ireland

The Rectory house and grounds, once part of a deerpark?

 

   

A great place to stay, Nancy is an enthusiastic host!

 

The ruined church.

 

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