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Unearting Shannon’s fringe history

WHILE it’s often described as a new town, there is plenty of history around the fringes of Shannon and on Sunday people will get a chance to take some of it in through an event being organised by the Shannon Archaeological and Historical Society and Dúchas na Sionna.

Olive Carey of Dúchas told The ’Champion about the sites that will be visited.
“We’re going to visit a few of the lesser known historical sites around Shannon town. We’ll be meeting at the Lidl car park at 12 noon and we’ll be finished by three o’clock, if anyone wants to see the match we’re not going to impinge on that.

“We’ll be going to the motte and bailey site at Clonmoney, the Norman moated enclosure site at Culleen and the site of the Stonehall Walled Garden as well.”

Speaking about the places that will be visited, she said; “Two of them are Norman sites, dating to the period of Anglo-Norman settlement in the county. The motte and bailey site at Clonmoney would have been particularly small. It would have been a manmade mound. Where it is at Clonmoney, there is a natural outcrop of rock there and it would have been accentuated and there would have been a wooden tower on top of that and an enclosed area around the foot of it.

There would have been farm buildings and guards quarters. It would have been an outlying site from Bunratty and they would have been able to signal to Bunratty if there was anything of danger approaching on the river.

“The moated enclosure is another Norman type site. This, as far as I know, is the only one in Clare. Generally, they were defended farms, a square raised platform site with a ditch and a bank around it. The ditch at one side still has water in it. It would have functioned in very much the same way as an Irish ring fort would have. It was a defended farm settlement site and again it would go back to the 13th Century.”

Regarding the third site, she said it is quite interesting, and was intact until relatively recently.
“The garden at Stonehall is a very interesting site. We do know that there was a towerhouse at Stonehall, a 15th or 16th century tower house and, in the 17th century, a bigger manor house was built onto that.

“We have some estate maps of the period and they show the layout of all of the buildings and gardens and the layout of the farm around it. There were some of the buildings left up until the 1950s, which were demolished in advance of runway construction.

“What’s left of the site today is a walled field, and on one of the early maps it’s shown as an orchard. The wall marks the site of the house and the earlier tower house so we’re going to go and see that as well.”
She said that anyone visiting the sites should make sure they have good footwear.

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