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.


  1. My name is Sean Dowling and I have been researching my family genealogy for apx 10yrs now. I have thousands of documents and research papers tracing our family back from apx 480AD to the plantation period and finally my grandfathers move from Dingle to Boston in the 20's. I was browsing around today,06/02/2018, and came across your blog in which I saw for the first time, O'Dowling (O'Dunlaing) castle. Very excited about that and can't wait to make it a part of the itinerary when I visit. Thank you so much for your interest in Irish history and for sharing it with us.

  2. Sean, you are most welcome and thank you for your kind words. I love the history of the backroads and by-roads of Ireland and love to share my visits.I hope you have a great time on your vacation and I'm sure that you will find someone nearby who will give you access.

  3. Sean Dowling would you be willing to contact me? I'm looking into more of my grnadfathers family (Dowlings) and would love to see what you have.

  4. I live near by, and that is a fantastic place that just needs a little push to be preserved and improved, and even to turn into a touristic attraction. Maybe someone one could invest in a cafeteria or restaurant over there, the N80 is near by, the view at the top of the tower would be a wonderful spot. The surrounding farmland and the view to Slieve Bloom is gourgeous. I've just added that place into Google maps.

  5. Thanks for checking out the blog Marcelo!