Friday 18 May 2018

Clonreher Castle Co Laois

                                              Above Image: East facing aspect.

                              Above Image: East facing tower. There is a similar one 
                                                     on the South facing wall.

We came across this ruin just outside Portlaoise on the road to Mountmellick.
Clonreher Castle's construction date is unclear but it was originally owned by the O'Dowlings who lost possession of it first to Sir Ralph Bagnell and then in 1562 to John Dunkirley who owned lands in Maryborough (now Portlaoise). Clonreher was used as a defensive outpost for Tudor settlers against the O'Moores. The O'Moore lands were later called called Queen's county in honour of Mary Tudor. After the Cromwellian invasion the castle's defences were diminished and by the time Robert Hartpole gained possession in 1576 it was in a ruinous state.
The four storey tower which has a vaulted cellar is situated today in a farmyard surrounded by outbuildings and various pieces of farm equipment either in use or abandoned. It is really disappointing to see an historical castle in such a bad state. It is slowly decaying evident by some nasty fissures in the wall of the corner tower. When we eventually moved on to our next destination it was with a tinge of sadness.
To find the ruin take the N80 North out of Portlaoise. You will go straight through two small roundabouts and then a third larger one. Once through the large roundabout continue on the N80 towards Mountmellick for approx 350m then take the first left hand turn. You will find the ruin approx 700m down this road on your left. You can pull in at the farm gate.

Friday 4 May 2018

Oliver Plunkett Memorial Church Co Meath

                                      Above & Below Images: The entrance gate

                                                  Above Image: Entrance door

                                          Above Image: Stairs to tower entrance

                                                    Above Image: Tower stairs

                                           Above Image: The nave & East gable

                                                 Above Image: Interior of tower

                                               Above Image: The armorial crest

                                                Above Image: Southern aspect

                                    Above & Below Images: The ancient graveyard

This sturdy church with fortified tower house is thought to have been constructed circa 1520 by Christopher Plunkett. Indeed Oliver Plunkett who was later canonised was born here in 1625 as the family dwelling was the tower house. The Plunkett's remained in possession until the 1650's when the lands were given to the Napers. Over the window of the Southern transept there is an armorial crest which bears some semblance to that of the Napers and possibly the Barnwalls. The church remained in use until the 1830's by the Church of Ireland and following that subsequently fell into ruin.
This is a striking structure and is located within the grounds of the Loughcrew gardens & adventure centre. We were given access through the cafe by the very genial lady running it. It was late April and very quiet with no other visitors at the ruin.Access is through a very fine arched. entrance gate The church and very sturdy three storey tower are surrounded by a very ancient walled graveyard. Some stones here are now completely illegible. The entrance door leads you through the shell of the tower. There are stone steps leading up but the second set are sadly blocked by a locked gate, Even so from this vantage point on top of the first set of steps you can look down into the undivided nave and chancel.
There is a lot of historical aspects to Loughcrew which I will cover later but this unusual ruin with its interesting history is tucked away and is really worth your time checking it out. You can even have some refreshments later in the cosy cafe.
To find the ruin take the junction 9 exit from the M3 for Delvin. On exiting, take the N51 towards Athboy. When you reach Athboy take the right hand turn half way up the town signposted for the R154 to Oldcastle. Keep to this road until you pass through the crossroads in Crossakiel and approx 3.5KM out of the village you will reach a T-junction. Turn left here following the sign for Oldcastle.
Drive for another 2KM until you see a left hand turn for the L2800. Approx 4.5KM along this road you will find the cafe & gardens on your left ( It's just past a porticoed lodge on the right).