Friday, 10 May 2013

Clonmore Castle Co Carlow

                             Above Image: The remaining tower is in a bad state

                                          Above Image: a vaulted chamber

                                   Above Image: Part of a stairwell at the top.

                                             Above Image: The courtyard

                         Above Image: The trefoil window and "Pooka" head above it

                                       Above Image: The North East view

The very extensive but ragged remains of Clonmore Castle stand imposingly on the Western end of the quiet village of Clonmore in Co.Carlow. It is believed to have been constructed in the late 12th century perhaps by Hugh DeLacey and was modified in 1332 by Anthony DeLucy.
The Castle suffered many attacks and seizing's over time by among others The Earl of Kildare in 1516 and The Earl of Ormond in 1598. The Castle also changed hands many times, the Butlers being one family thought to have resided there. It finally came under attack in 1650 by Cromwellian forces led by Colonel Hewson and it was overrun.
I've been in Carlow many times visiting such Castles as Leighlinbridge and Ballymoon (See earlier posts) but Clonmore only came to light recently when I came across it by pure accident while studying a map. After a bit of further research I thought this was too significant a structure to be overlooked so we took a trip down on a weekend evening to check it out.
Arriving in Clonmore on a Sunday evening the village was literally deserted, not a person to be seen, we thought we had driven into Brigadoon!
The Castle lies on pastureland very close to the roadside, fenced off with a few cows wandering in and out of the ruins. There were no prohibitive signs but the field gate was chained and locked so we went to a nearby bungalow to seek permission to access but we were scared off by two large Dogs who tried to chew their way through the gate to get at us. Good luck with that idea. We also tried to gain access by another gate adjacent to the Eastern wall but it offered no entry to the field either. With nobody around to ask we just went ahead and climbed over the fence at the roadside. Our approach dispersed the cows who retreated to the rear of the ruins.
The field in which we stood was once the courtyard, the ruins extending around three sides. The fourth or southern wall was apparently demolished sometime in the past. During the time when the Castle was complete there was a moat surrounding it but of course this has been long since filled in.
The tall rectangular towers on the southern end stand four storeys high with a trefoil window and a small gargoyle head known as a "Pooka" visible on top scowling down at you. The remainder of the manor buildings stand two storeys high.
Inside these sections the ruins are in a very degenerative state, lots of gaping maws and cracks in the walls, some parts being difficult to navigate. There are numerous passageways and chambers that have been invaded by trees and bushes. At one particularly dark orifice we decided not to investigate as we had neglected to bring a torch and we were wary of what pitfalls might lie within.
All in all there is a lot to explore here but with the cattle wandering in and out the ground has become quite muddy in places so a good pair of boots are recommended. Also if visiting do be aware of the state of the ruins, while interesting to explore there are some very unstable parts so take care at all times.
To find Clonmore Castle, take the N81 Dublin to Tullow road and in Baltinglass turn left onto the R747 for Hacketstown. On arrival in Hacketstown take the turn right at the top of the very narrow Bridge St onto Penny Hill. A short way on take the second and sharper of two close together left turns onto slate Row and a few yards on turn right onto the L2005 with the sign for Clonmore. Drive for 6KM until you see the Castle ahead of you. You can park at a small area by the Castle tower.


  1. I found the castle by accident, about ten years ago, as it is on my back-road short cut from Tinahely to Tullow. I am an old building specialist and although the castle is in a parlous state, it could be saved by inserting a few simple braces. I don't see why a viewing platform couldn't be built in the courtyard for visitors to view, with a secure path for access. i'm amazed that Carlow CC and the OPW haven't done something about this place, as it is an important castle, and not just a common or garden keep, of which the island has a surplus. It badly reflects the inept management of the county heritage and national heritage management: nothing new there!!!
    Vincent Flannery

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    1. Here! Here! Total agreement Vincent. Such an opportunity wasted.

  3. Myself and my brothers used to play in these ruins as kids as my nan and granddad owned the bungalow next door. I have since taken my kids to see the castle after 20 years and it still looks the same. What memories I have.

  4. The castle isn't just a medieval relic, it has early renaissance additions towards the back right, which can be seen from the lane, which goes along that side. When you think of the vast sums spent on Duckets Grove, which is mostly a 19th century mix and match, and really speaking, not that interesting, why has the county done nothing about Clonemore. In France, each commune (former parish) governs itself and looks after such buildings, with help from the culture ministry. They aren't left to the vaguries of a distant county office, or paper ridden OPW.

  5. Couldn't agree with you more Vincent

  6. Well worth seeing! Saw it for the first time recently

  7. I live nearby and took some photos here today from the ground and above see them on

  8. Thanks, I will certainly check them out