County Clare in 1837
CLARE, a maritime county of the province of Munster, in Ireland: bounded on the north by the county of Galway, on the east and south by the Shannon, which separates it from the counties of Tipperary, Limerick, and Kerry; and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean.
The greatest length, from Loop Head on the south-west to the Galway boundary on the north-east, is 67 miles; greatest breadth, from Black Head on the north-west to Bunratty on the south-east, is 38 miles.
The area is estimated by Beaufort at 1,195 English square miles, or 765,042 statute acres. Gross population, in 1821, 208,089; ditto in 1831, 258,322.
The surface of this county is extremely irregular. The high lands occupy about 150 square miles, included between the Shannon on the east and the Galway boundary on the north. Here the Slieve Baughta mountains attain an elevation of from 2,000 to 2,500 feet.
This group stretches into the adjoining county, and contains three principal connected lakes: Loch Teroig, on the boundary of Clare and Galway; Loch Graney, farther south in the centre of the group; and Loch O'Grady, between Loch Graney and that expansion of the Shannon called Loch Derg in the east, into which the waters of the district discharge themselves by the Scariff river at the village and creek of the same name.
Southward from the Slieve Baughta group extends a mountainous tract of less elevation, which runs with little interruption from Scariff on the north to Bunratty on the south, where the waters of Loch Breedy, Loch Doon, Loch Cloonlea, and several other lakes, lying along the western border of the range, discharge themselves by the Ougarnee river into the Shannon.
The chief drain of the eastern part of this district is the Blackwater, which falls into the Shannon a little above Limerick.
West of these groups, and occupying the central district of Clare, there is a comparatively level country stretching north and south, the waters of which, collected from Lochs Inchiquin, Tedane, Inchicronane, Dromore, Ballyally, and several others, unite about the centre of the county and form the Fergus, a fine navigable river, which, augmented by the Clareen at Ennis, the county town, flows due south by Clare, and, after forming a large estuary with numerous islands and excellent anchorages, unites with the Shannon about eight miles west of Bunratty.
The junction of these rivers forms a very noble expanse of water. The remainder of the county, from Loch Buneah in the north to Clanderalangh in the south, and thence westward to the ocean, is occupied by high lands, the waters from which flow chiefly into the Atlantic by the Dunbeg and Ennistymond rivers.
Of these heights the principal is Callan mountain, rising westward from Ennis, over Milltown, a small but flourishing coast town situated about midway on the western line of sea coast.
Clare has a much greater extent of coast line than any other county in Ireland. From Scariff, on the Shannon, to Curranrue, on Galway bay, the whole length of coast line is 230 English miles, of which about 140 lie along the Shannon, and 80 on the coast of the Atlantic.
This coast, from Black Head on the north to Loop Head on the south, a direct line of nearly 60 English miles, has only two harbours, and these not capable of sheltering vessels of more than 50 to 100 tons.
With the exception of the small bays or fishing stations of Kilkea, Dunbeg, Milltown and Liscanor, the whole coast is iron-bound.
The Reverend James Kenny, in his statistical account of the union of Kilmanaheen, states that the cliff on which the signal tower of Moher is erected was found by measurement to be 909 feet high, and that the rock somewhat to the eastward proved upon the same measurement to be 1,009 feet high.
The cliffs average 100 feet in height, and in some places, as at Baltard and Moher, present a face of rock of 500, and even, it is said, of 1,000 feet, against which, during a gale, the waves of the Atlantic beat with astonishing fury.
Numerous islands and detached stacks of rock mark the devastating effects of these storms, which have disconnected them from the main land. During a storm from the Atlantic the waves have been driven from the bay to the top of the cliff at Kilkea, a height of more than 100 feet, and, rushing down the green fields which back the precipice, have fallen into the little river at the inland foot of the hill.
Where there is a beach, as at Moore Bay and Dunbeg, the swell causes a constant surf. As boats built in the usual manner could not live in such a sea, the people of the coast employ a sort of canoe, formed of tarred canvass spread on a wicker frame, called a corragh, similar to the rude vessel used by the ancient Britons. In these they frequently go 50 or 100 miles out to sea, and venture with little danger among rocks and shoals where any vessel less pliable would go to pieces. A rent in the canvass is repaired by drying the edges and applying a fresh piece of cloth, spread with hot pitch, to the outside.
From the dangerous character of the coast some derive the appellation of Malbay, by which the indentation extending from Dunbeg to Liscanor is known.
The shore of the Shannon, commencing from Loop Head, has numerous creeks, which might be rendered useful either as asylum harbours or stations of trade; but at present there is no security for vessels of heavy tonnage in hard weather nearer to Loop Head than the anchorages of the Fergus.
At Carrigaholt, a small village immediately under Loop, is a fishing pier, and at Kilrush, a very prosperous place, about half way between Carrigaholt and the Fergus, is a pier with a quay on a good scale, and every facility for the construction of an excellent harbour; but, until the pier is carried farther forward towards a neighbouring island, so as to screen shipping from the southerly winds, the roadstead cannot be counted secure.
'I will here observe, says Captain Mudge, in his report (1831-2), 'that this part of the Shanon is exposed to the whole ocean swell; the sea, which sets in such a continuance of southerly or westerly winds, baffles all description, especially when accompanied by the "rollers," a periodical visitation; at such times the swell will break in 12 and 13 fathoms water, or wherever there may happen to be any foul ground.'
Eastward from Kilrush the Shannon, which at its entrance is ten English miles in width, begins to contract; but after sweeping in a comparatively narrow and very deep channel round the peninsula of Clanderaulagh, between which and the shore of Limerick is the race of Tarbert, it expands again to a width of several miles at its confluence with the Fergus, about ten miles farther inland.
The entrance of the Fergus lies between Innismurry island on the west, and Rinana point on the east. The estuary is here five miles wide.
Towards the western side it is encumbered by islands, of which there are eight considerable ones covering about four square miles. These islands are surrounded with weed and sand-banks, and contract the ship channel to a breadth of about three-quarters of a mile.
The channel is safe for vessels drawing sixteen feet of water: and on the mud banks at either side a ship may at all times ground with safety. The tide here seldom runs more than 2 miles per hour. In the channel there are good anchorages in from three to six fathoms water.
The existing dangers and drawbacks are so trifling that a very small expenditure of money would render the Fergus, from its junction with the Shannon to the bridge of Clare, one of the safest and best navigations in Ireland.
From the Shannon to Clare the river is called the Lower Fergus, and from Clare to Ennis the Upper Fergus. The Upper is a deep and quiet piece of water, more like a large canal than a river. It is separated from the Lower Fergus by a ledge of rock on which the butments of the bridge of Clare are built. This natural dam keeps the upper part of the river constantly full and navigable to Ennis, the county town, three miles distant. The least water in any part of the Upper Fergus during summer is 13 to 14 feet, and generally 18 to 25, and the average width of the river 150 feet.
By connecting the navigations of these two natural canals, Ennis would be brought into an easy and cheap communication with Limerick, and the immense expense hitherto incurred by the farmers of Clare in transporting their goods overland to a market would be most materially reduced. It is affirmed that an outlay of £400 to £500 would give the merchants of Ennis the means of avoiding 12 shillings and 6 pence per ton carriage on grain which they now export from Limerick.
So great was the expense of land carriage in this district, in 1830, that coals, burned in Limerick at 22 shillings per ton, cost in Ennis 35 shillings, while all the iron brought overland to this, the assize town of a large county, incurred the enormous charge of 8 pence per hundred for carriage alone. The subject of the navigation of the Fergus has however been taken up with great spirit by many of the influential resident gentry, and a final report is now in course of being made on this branch as well as on all the other branches of the navigation of the Shannon by commissioners appointed by Government.
Eight miles east from Rinana point is the Ougarnee, up which the tide flows to Six-mile Bridge, but the vicinity of Limerick renders its navigable capabilities of little importance. One suburb of Limerick lies in the county of Clare, as well as the chief lines of canal by which the navigation of the Shannon is continued from that city to Killaloe. The whole of the shore of Loch Derg from Killaloe to Scariff might be rendered available for stations of commerce; but the present trade on the Shannon, although latterly much increased, is not yet sufficiently extensive to bring these capabilities into use.
It has been proposed to cut a canal from Scariff by Loch Graney through the valleys of the Slieve Baughta mountains and the flat country beyond to the bay of Galway, and also from Poolanisherry bay, near Kilrush, through the flat tract of bog that extends northward to Dunberg on the Atlantic, so as to give access to the Shannon to vessels embayed in Malbay, without doubling the dangerous promontory of Loop Head; but no attempt has yet been made to carry either scheme into effect.
The roads of this county are perhaps worse than in any other county of Ireland, which is chiefly attributable to the corrupt system under which the grand jury assessments were formerly applied. The evils of this system are now removed by the appointment of a county surveyor, who superintends the application of the public money, and without whose sanction no presentment can be levied.
Considerable sums have latterly been advanced by the Commissioners of Public Works for the construction of roads and bridges in this county; the sums advanced being repaid by instalments presented by the Grand Jury.
The climate is remarkably healthy. Instances of longevity are very frequent. In 1821 there were in the single barony of Bunratty eight individuals, four males and four females, each upwards of 100 years of age.
The county is in general much exposed, particularly to violent gales from the Atlantic. Frost and snow seldom continue long. In the sheltered portions of the eastern district, the climate is moist and very mild. Myrtles, both broad and narrow leafed, have been known to attain a height of upwards of eighteen feet in the open air at Bunratty.
With regard to the geology of Clare, no map exhibiting more than the limits of the limestone district has yet appeared. The Slieve Baughta mountains consist of a nucleus of clay-slate, supporting flanks of sandstone, intruded through a break in the surrounding limestone plain, in the same manner as the Slieve Bloom range on the opposite side of the Shannon.
The limestone, which insulates this mountainous district, spreads westward over the more level basin of the Fergus, and rises into very rugged elevations towards the Galway boundary on the north-west.
Beyond the basin of the Fergus commences an extensive clay-slate and trap formation, which stretches westward from the limestone field to the waters of the Atlantic, to which it presents those precipitous escarpments of the coast-line. The whole of this coast abounds in phenomena of the greatest interest, but hitherto they have not been described.
Beds of ironstone and several strata of coal occur upon Mount Callan; a seam of coal, three feet thick, appears in the face of the rock a little above high-water mark over Liscanor Bay, near Ennistymond; and again, near Mutton Island, both inland and on the shore of Malbay; another seam appears in the bed of a river near Carrigaholt, as also at Fieragh Bay, Lemaduff, and Longhill Ferry.
Iron ore is found at several places, and in considerable quantities on the Malbay coast, on the banks of the Ardsallas, a feeder of the Fergus flowing from the east, on the shore of Liscanor Bay adjacent to the coal tract, between Corrofin and Ennis in the centre of the county, and in several other places.
Rich lead ore abounds in the limestone district, particularly in the mountainous parts of the barony of Birren in the north of the county. Copper pyrites is plentiful in the same barony.
Manganese is found at Ennistymond, Carrigaholt, Cross, and other places on the sea-coast Chalybeate waters abound in the district westward from the sources of the Fergus.
Very fine black marble has been raised at Craggliath, near Ennis; it takes a high polish, and is free from spots.
On the shore of Loch Graney is found a hard crystalline sand, much used for scythe boards, which are greatly superior to those brought from England.
The coast from Kilrush to Carrigaholt abounds with excellent slate and flag quarries. There are also quarries of flag of a good quality at Ennistymond. The Broadford slates from this county have long been celebrated, and are considered nearly equal to the best Welsh; an inferior article is obtained from the slate quarries at Killaloe.
The characters of the different soils correspond to the characteristic geological division. In the schistose and trachyte districts the soil is cold and moory; in the calcareous region warm and friable, though light; on the borders of the different tracts, especially of the slaty and calcareous, deep and loamy.
The extent of poor soil is much greater than that of even middling quality; but in some districts there are detached spots of very remarkable richness. These are usually situated along the banks of the large rivers, and are liable to periodical inundations. They are called corcaghs or corcasses, a word nearly synonymous with the English provincial term bottoms.
Six tons of prime hay are frequently produced from the Irish acre on these rich levels, and eight tons per acre have been occasionally been mowed.
The substratum is either a black or a blue alluvial clay, resting on limestone gravel: the black corcass is preferred for tillage, as being drier; the blue for meadow and pasture. They lie chiefly along the Shannon and Fergus from Limerick westward, in some places extending inland to a considerable distance. They are computed at about 20,000 acres in all.
One tract of uncommon richness, called Tradree, or the King's Land, is said to have been the private patrimony of the famous Brian Boroimh.
The rent of corcasses varies from 3 to 7 guineas per Irish acre. Another species of rich grazing land of frequent occurrence here as well as in Galway, is the turlogh, or periodical lake, an accumulation of water either forced upward by subterranean channels, or formed by surface-waters which have no outlet. These floods lie in the turlogh during the winter, and leave it prepared for the most abundant vegetation in the spring.
In one of these turloghs, 48 Irish acres in extent, near Kilfenora, on the north-western boundary of the limestone district, the proprietor has fattened in one year 42 large oxen and 44 sheep, besides grazing 17 horses and a number of swine; and in the following year has sold off it, in fine condition, 100 two-year old bullocks, and 16 or 17 horses.
The whole of this calcareous tract abounds with subterraneous communications through which the water passes from lake to lake, as at the sources of the Fergus, or rises to the surface and forms temporary pools and turloghs. The barony of Burrin, which comprises the north-western portion of the limestone field of Clare, is perhaps the most remarkable district in Ireland.
Here the bare limestone rock rises to the surface in all directions, so as to give the whole district the appearance of being covered with a white cement.
The country is everywhere very rugged and hilly, and the worst supplied with water of any in Ireland. In an area of twenty English miles by ten, there is but one stream running to the sea, and that has a course of barely eight miles. Another rivulet near it disappears under the crust of limestone after a course of three miles.
The only supply of water in the interior is by turloghs. One of these at Kilcorney, a place remote from any river, is fed by a periodical stream issuing each winter from a cave in the vicinity. In the last century this curious cave attracted the attention of Dr. Lucas, who has given an interesting account of it in the 'Philosophical Transactions' for January, 1740, No. 456, p. 360.
Notwithstanding its sterile appearance, this county is far from being unproductive. In the crevices of the limestone rock sprouts a very sweet and nutritious grass, particularly well suited for fattening sheep. Yarrow, white clover, trefoil, cinquefoil, virga aurea, juniper, and yew, grow spontaneously and in abundance, although in patches.
Some portions of the grazing land set for £3 per Irish acre; and on a few farms store bullocks are fattened for the Limerick and Cork markets. In general however the land is set for very low rents, and by the bulk; and is almost solely devoted to the grazing of sheep, as this stock does not require a copious supply of water like black cattle.
The prime sheep-walks here are estimated at above 10,000 acres: some of the rocky pastures are however so poor that it is said four acres will not feed a sheep.
The supply of fuel is equally scanty, there being little or no bog; yet from the numerous remains of castles in all parts of the barony, it is evident that it must have been thickly inhabited during its possession by the old Irish. The present inhabitants of the coast procure their supply of turf in boats from the opposite shores of Galway.
In all other parts of the county there is abundance of fuel, particularly towards the south-west, where a tract of bog, containing 14,950 Irish, or about 24,000 English acres, extends from the Shannon at Kilrush to the shores of the Atlantic at Moore Bay and Dunbeg. Large quantities of turf are annually exported from the Kilrush side to Limerick.
This is the tract through which it was proposed to cut a canal. It is estimated to be reclaimable at an expense of £31,728. There is no limestone in this part of the county, but an inexhaustible supply of sea-sand can be had at Dunbeg. Notwithstanding these inducements to reclaim the portion of this great tract not necessary for purposes of turbary, it still remains an unprofitable waste.
The bog of Douragh, eastward from the Fergus, affords the principal supply of turbary to Ennis and Clare. The turf is ricked on the banks of the Upper Fergus, and thence boated to market.
Although the county is at present very bare of trees, the bogs abound in timber. A fir-tree measuring 38 inches in diameter by 68 feet in length was some time since raised from a bog near Kilrush; and it had lost much of its original bulk by decay.
The mode of finding bog-timber as practised here is rather remarkable. It is found that the dew does not lie on the part of the bog immediately above a tree, as it does elsewhere. The position of a piece of timber can thus be easily ascertained before the dews rise in the morning; when the finder, after probing with a bog-auger, called in Irish tharagher, to ascertain whether the wood be sound, marks the spot with a spade, and proceeds to raise the timber at his leisure. Fir, oak, and yew, are the chief sorts of bog-wood found.
Agriculture, although rapidly improving, is still in a backward state. Green crops and artificial grasses have been only lately introduced to any considerable extent.
The breed of sheep remains in many districts unimproved, from a prejudice against the mutton of the finer-woolled kinds.
The general breed of swine is very inferior.
The custom of fattening choice heifers for slaughtering has prevented the attention that ought to have been paid to providing superior breeders. The improved breed is however extending; and to meet with stock of the old Irish kind is now unusual.
Bulls have been imported by many of the resident gentry from Leicester, Warwickshire, and other grazing districts in England; and the black cattle now sent to market from their prime grazing-lands are of a very improving breed. In the grazing districts along the western coast it is usual to stall the cattle during the greater part of the winter months, as the pasture is completely withered by the violence of the sea-storms that beat on these exposed uplands; but this expedient is very different from any regular system of stall-feeding.
The bad state of the roads still renders the employment of asses and panniers not unusual, and in general the small farmers' horses are badly fed and worse appointed.
There is an excellent opening for the establishment of fisheries along the whole of the coast from Kilrush to the bay of Galway. Salmon are taken in great quantities at the mouth of the Shragh or Dunbeg river.
The banks of Baltard afford excellent turbot, cod, haddock, ling, dory, mackerel, whiting, and pollock, in great abundance. In the mouth of the Shannon is a regular station for the herring fishery.
The oyster-beds of Burrin are celebrated in the Dublin market. Crabs, lobsters, and shrimps are caught in all the creeks; and the cliffs along the whole western coast abound with samphire, dilisk, sloak, and Carrigeen moss.
Vast quantities of sea-weed, which forms the best manure for the slaty soil adjacent, are thrown up by every tide on the different beaches and creeks.
There are no manufactures, except of home-made frieze for the use of the peasantry; and the commerce consists chiefly in the export of provisions.
Grain and pigs are the articles usually shipped from Carrigaholt, Kilrush, and Clare, which are the only exporting towns in the county.
The exports of the county at large, in the year 1831, as estimated by Captain Mudge, are as follows:
Wheat: 24,000 barrels, or 3,000 tons.
Oats: 96,000 barrels, or 8,000 tons
Barley: 10,000 barrels, or 2,000 tons
Beans: 10,000 barrels, or 300 tons
Butter, bacon, and cattle, not known.
Large quantities of grain are sent over land to Limerick; pigs also are driven over land in great numbers.
Imports for 1831 (in tons):-
Earthenware 500 (by measurement)
Mercantile goods and sundries 1,500 (by measurement)
and about 200 tons per month of turf, brought to market in boats by the Fergus.
There are branches of the provincial and agricultural and commercial banks at Ennis, and a branch of the latter, and of the Limerick national bank, at Kilrush.
Clare is divided into nine baronies: Tullagh and Bunratty on the east; Inchiquin and Islands in the centre, the latter so called from the islands of the Fergus embraced by it; Burrin, Corermore, Ibrickan, and Moyferta, extending along the western coast from Black Head on the north to Loop on the south, and Clanderlaw east of Moyferta, between it and the barony of Islands. The county contains the entire diocese of Kilfenora, the greater portion of the diocese of Killaloe, and a small portion of the diocese of Limerick. It contains 74 parishes, forming 28 benefices.
The only corporate town is Ennis, which formerly returned two members to the Irish, and now returns one member to the imperial parliament. Kilrush is the place of next importance. Corrofin (population 900), Ennistymond (population 1,430), Six-mile-bridge population 1,491), and Killaloe (population 1,411), are inconsiderable places.
The county returns two members to the imperial parliament.
The newspapers which circulate in Clare are chiefly printed in Limerick. The number of stamps issued to the Clare Journal for the year ending January, 1836, was 11,484.
The assizes for the county are held twice a year at Ennis, where is a new and good county gaol. There are also bridewells at Ennistymond, Kilrush, Six-mile-bridge, and Tulla.
The district lunatic asylum at Limerick comprises this county, which pays a quota of the annual expense proportioned to the number of patients sent from it. For the year 1835 the expense was £1,034, 2 shillings, 7 pence, the number of patients being 63. The proportion of the original cost of building the asylum paid by the county was £8,955, 8 shillings, 1 penny, the gross cost being £30,200, 17 shillings, 2 pence.
Of the constabulary and peace-preservation forces, 417 are employed in Clare, at a total expense of £15,987, 9 shillings, 4 pence for the year 1835. Of the expense of maintaining the constabulary department, £5,479, 2 shillings, 3 pence is chargeable against the county
POPULATION OF CLARE
1792: (estimated by Dr. Beaufort) 17,396 houses, 96,000 persons.
1813: (under the Population Act of 1812) 29,301 houses, 160,603 persons.
1821 (under Act 55 George III, c.120) 36,273 houses, 39,212 families, 105,056 males, 103,033 females, total 208, 089 persons.
1831 (Under Act 1 William IV, c.19) 41,630 houses, 43,374 families, 32,580 employed in agriculture, 4,537 employed in trade, manufacture and commerce, 6,527 in other classes, 128,446 males, 129, 876 females, total 258,322 persons.
The civil history of the county of Clare abounds with interest, but we can only glance at the chief events. Originally it formed part of Connaught, but in the year 298, Lugad or Lewy, surnamed Meann, one of the Dal-Cassian successors to the monarchy of Leath Mogh, finally settled the bounds of his kingdom to the limits fixed between Owen More and Conn, about the close of the second century, and thus included it in Munster.
The territory corresponding with the present county of Clare, together with the original patrimony of the tribe of Cas, east of the Shannon, was then called Tuaidh Muin or Thomond, that is, North Munster, a name which afterwards distinguished it from Jar Muin, or Ormond, and Des Muin or Desmond, two other divisions of Munster to the east and south.
This ancient Thomond comprehended the present counties of Clare, Tipperary, and Limerick nearly, and was ever after accounted the especial patrimony of the tribe of Cas, who are distinguished in the Irish history as the Dal-gais, in opposition to the descendants of Oeven, who are known as the Esganacht of Cashel.
Before the year 1168, ancient Thomond had been divided into modern Thomond on the west, and Ormond on the east; and of this latter portion his younger brother Brian, surnamed 'of the Mountains,' was king at the accession of Donnell the Great. Donnell, on his accession, inhumanly put out his brother's eyes, and had himself proclaimed king of all North Munster.
He married the daughter of Dermot Mac Murrogh, king of Leinster, the inviter of the adventurers under Strongbow; and being also at war with Roderick OConnor, king of Connaught, an hereditary enemy, he readily availed himself of the proffered assistance of Robert Fitz-Stephen, when sent as an ally by his father-in-law Dermot.
By this means the English gained their first footing in Munster, A.D. 1171. Next year, to secure so effectual assistance against his great enemy, Donnell did homage to Henry the Second soon after his landing at Waterford, upon which an English garrison was planted in Limerick; but the year after, repenting of his allegiance on some provocation received from his new allies, he assailed the castle of Kilkenny, which he destroyed, and defeated the English of that part of the country in several engagements.
In the year 1543 Morrogh O'Brien, after a fruitless attempt at raising a general rebellion with O'Neill, O'Donnell, and OConnor, came in and made his allegiance to King Henry the Eighth, renouncing the name of O'Brien, and taking the title of Earl of Thomond, with the style of Baron of Ichiquin for his eldest son.
At the same time he surrendered all his possessions to the king, and received them back by an English tenure, as also did O'Neill and Mac William Burke, who were at the same time, and on similar terms, created earls of Tyrone and Clanrickard.
By the articles of this submission, the earl agreed to abjure the Irish language, to bring up his people in the practice of husbandry and tillage, and to pay none but legal rents, &c.
From him descended in a direct line the family of Inchiquin, several of whom were distinguished leaders in the subsequent wars, particularly Murrogh, the first earl and fifth baron Inchiquin, a celebrated parliamentary and royalist general in the wars from 1641 to the Restoration. Soon after the first earl's submission, Thomond was made shire-ground.
An act for the division of Connaught into counties having passed (11 Elizabeth, c.9), Sir Henry Sidney (others say Thomas earl of Sussex) plotted out six counties beyond the Shannon, of which Clare was one. Its first division was into eight baronies, different both in names and boundaries from the present.
They were laid down in accordance with the possessions of the then principal families, namely, the Macnamaras and O'Gradys on the east, the O'Loughlins on the north, the Mahons and Mac Mahons and O'Deas on the west and south, and the OBriens of the earl's immediate connexion in the central baronies. One hundred and seventy-two castles are enumerated in this early survey, of which twenty belonged to different gentlemen of the family of O'Loughlin, in the barony of Burrin or Gragans alone.
Upon the petition of the second earl of Thomond, 1601, the county of Clare was again made part of the province of Munster, although for convenience sake it continued on the Connaught circuit until the latter end of the last century.
The adhesion of Lord Inchiquin, the most influential person in Clare, to the British interest during the wars from 1641 to the Restoration, prevented this part of the county from being the scene of any military operations of importance. Such as did occur were in connexion with the history of Limerick.
Pursuant to an ordinance made for the satisfaction of adventurers and soldiers, by the English parliament, in 1653, a district was laid out along the sea-coast of all Connaught, including this county, called the mile-line, from its being in breadth nowhere less than four miles from the sea, beyond which in the interior the dispossessed Irish were to be located, and in which, as a barrier between the insulated Irish and the sea, the adventurers and others were to have their portions. This plan of wholesale transplantation was never fully carried into effect.
The property of the county cannot be looked on as at all settled until after the Revolution of 1688, when the disposal of the new forfeitures, amounting to 72,246 profitable acres, Irish measure, valued at £12,060 17 shillings per annum, introduced a new and permanent proprietary.
This great tract of country was principally the estate of Daniel, Lord Clare, of Carrigaholt, who had raised a regiment of dragoons, and fought in the service of James the Second from the commencement of the war till after the battle of Aughrim. He was grandson of Sir Daniel O'Brien, who had forfeited the same estates in 1641, and had afterwards been restored and created baron of Mogarta and Viscount Clare by Charles the Second in 1662.
The other principal forfeiters, in 1683, were Donogh Mac Namara, Donogh and Tiege O'Brien, and Redmond Magrath.
The rebellion of 1798 scarcely extended to this county. During the present century Clare was for a time remarkable for agrarian disturbances, now happily at an end.
The Clare election of 1828, in which a Roman Catholic was returned to the imperial parliament previous to the removal of the disabilities affecting that part of the population, will form an important epoch in Irish history.
Antiquities.There are round towers at Scattery Island, off Kilrush (120 feet high, a known landmark in the navigation of the Shannon), at Drumcliff in the barony of Islands, at Dysert (the ancient Dysert S'Dea) and Kilnaboy in the barony of Inchiquin, and at Innis Cailtre, an island in the creek of Scariff, on Loch Derg.
The abbey of Ennis, which the famous Tenlogh O'Brien enriched in 1306 with bells, crosses, rich embroidery, and painted glass windows, is still standing.
The abbey of Quin, in the barony of Bunratty, about five miles east of Ennis, is a noble pile of black marble, for the building of which, in the thirteenth century, Comea More Macnamara, the founder, is said to have been created a prince by the pope. Bishop Pococke describes it as 'the finest and most entire monastery in Ireland.'
The ruins on the islands of Innis Scattery and Innis Cailtre are also of great interest to the antiquary.
Cromlechs are numerous, and the tomb of Conan on Mount Callan, with its Ogham inscription, is still the subject of inquiry and dispute.
There are still standing 118 castles, and raths in all directions. The original documents by which different contracts were made here under the Brehon law are extant, particularly the rentals of Macnamara and O'Brien.
Numerous Irish MSS. relating to this county are in existence, still untranslated. There is no portion of Ireland so well calculated to afford materials for a county history; yet the only work hitherto published on the subject is the meagre 'Statistical Survey,' by the agent of the Royal Dublin Society.
The character of the people is like that of the Irish peasantry in other counties, with this unfortunate distinction, that almost all authorities concur in representing the peasantry of Clare as addicted to giving untrue testimony in courts of justice.
Education.The dioceses in which this county is comprehended stand only 24th and 25th among the 32 dioceses of Ireland. The number of schools in 1820 was 215; in 1821 there were 8,159 males and 3,794 females under instruction.
As the returns of the Commissioners of Public Instruction for 1834 have reference to ecclesiastical divisions, see Killfenora and Killaloe, within which dioceses Clare is comprehended.
The county expenses are levied by grand jury assessments. The annual amount levied averages, on a return of twenty years to 1829, about £28,000.
The mode of applotment is liable to many objections, which the Ordnance Survey now in progress is expected to remove. A map of the county, on a scale of one inch and a fourth to an Irish mile, was executed in 1787 by Mr. Henry Pelham: it is not accurate.