Carrigaholt, County Clare, Ireland


JJ Meehan
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The Meehan Family

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 I started documenting my family history in 2005.  I now know that my ancestors for the Meehan and Ayers Families came from County Clare.  The Meehan Family emigrated from Kilkee, County Clare in the 1840’s.  The Ayers Family emigrated from Carrigaholt, County Clare about the same time.  My great grandfather Michael Meehan was born in Kilkee in 1832.  My great grandmother Hannah Ayers was born in Carrigaholt in 1832.   Both the Meehan’s and Ayers immigrated to the USA in the late 1840’s during the Potato Famine.c-07

Kilkee and Carrigaholt are both located in County Clare, Munster, Ireland and they are about 12 miles apart.   Carrigaholt is a small port and village, in the parish and barony of Moyarta, county of Clare, and province of Munster, 113/4 miles (W.) from Kilrush : the population is returned with the parish. It is situated on the harbour and road-stead of the same name, within the estuary of the river Shannon.


The castle, now in ruins, was formerly the fortified residence of the Mac Mahons, the chiefs of that part of this country which forms the peninsula called the “Western Corkavaskin,” still denominated “the west.” The last siege to which it was exposed was in 1649, when it was taken by Gen. Ludlow, and Teigue Keigh was the last of the Mac Mahons to whom it belonged. On his attainder it passed by grant from Queen Elizabeth to Henry O’Brien, brother to the Earl of Thomond, whose unfortunate grandson, Lord Clare, resided in it when he raised a regiment of horse, called the “Yellow Dragoons,” which in 1689 was the flower of King James’s army. The town now belongs to Lady Burton, whose ancestor was an officer in the army of King William. The ruins of the castle occupy a bold situation on the verge of a cliff overhanging the sea, enclosed by a court-yard and high walls on one side, and by rocks and the bay on the other. A small quay or pier was constructed partly by the late Fishery Board and partly by grand jury presentments : it is of considerable service to agriculture and the fisheries, and is frequented by six hookers, of seven tons each, and upwards of 500 corrachs, which give employment to about 400 persons, particularly in the herring fishery, which commences in July.


This is the principal place in the neighbourhood for the shipment of agricultural produce ; 900 tons of grain, 700 firkins of butter, and 3000 pigs, having lately been shipped here in one year, by three individuals : it also exports hides to Limerick. The bay of Carrigaholt lies opposite that part of the Kerry shore, within the mouth of the Shannon, which is called the Bale bar. It has good and secure anchorage with the wind to the northward of west, but being entirely exposed to the ocean swell, the sea, which sets in with southerly or westerly winds, renders it unsafe to lie there.

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The inner harbour, however, is better protected from those winds, but is shallow, having no more than 21/2 or 3 fathoms of water within the line from Carrigaholt Castle to the opposite side of the bay. Capt. Manby, who was employed by the Irish Government to survey the Shannon, recommended that a small pier should be extended from the spot called Lord Clare’s pier, (which was formed in 1608 but has gone to decay,) at nearly a right angle to the shore, sufficiently to afford shelter to the one that already exists, and that this should be carried out farther, so as to permit boats to sail from it till almost low water. The roads in the immediate vicinity of the village are in bad condition, and must be repaired before the port can be easily accessible by land. The valley on the northside of Kilkadrane Hill having been often mistaken by night for the proper channel for entering the Shannon, a light has been placed on the top of the hill, red to seaward, and a fixed bright light as seen descending the river. In the village is a public dispensary, and near it is the R. C. chapel.-See Moyarta.


County Clare A History and Topography by Samuel Lewis
Courtesy of Clare Local Studies Project
County Clare Library

The following is from Wilipedia at  Carrigaholt Castle was built in about 1480 by the McMahons, chiefs of the Corcabascin Peninsula. It stands at the end of a fishing pier overlooking the Shannon Estuary and the harbour. This is a tall, well-preserved five storey tower house. It has a fiery and colourful history which would fill volumes.

The castle was occupied by Teige Caech “the short sighted” MacMahon in September 1588 when seven ships of the Spanish Armada anchored at Carrigaholt. Although aid was refused by the MacMahons, the castle was nonetheless unsuccessfully besieged shortly afterwards by Sir Conyers Clifford (Governor of Connaught). The following year the renegade fourth Earl of Thomond (Donogh O’Brien) captured it after a four-day siege and, in breach of the surrender terms, hanged all the defenders. Ownership then passed to the Earl’s brother Donal O’Brien, who was responsible for inserting many of the castle’s windows as well as the fireplace on the fifth floor, which bears the date 1603. Donal’s grandson was the celebrated third Viscount Clare who resided at Carrigaholt and raised a regiment of horses known as the “Yellow Dragoons” for the House of Stuart King James II of England’s armies. After the forfeiture of his extensive 230 km2 (57,000-acre) estate by the Williamites, the castle was acquired by the Burton family.

The castle today is under the care of the Office of Public Works. All that remains is a shell of its former nobility. The Burton Family were the last inhabitants and left it in the late 19th c.

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