Clonmacnoise Castle Castle




N 53° 19' 31.84"   W 007° 59' 21.14"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

N 00719 30584

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Wednesday 20 June 2018

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ruins of the castle on the motte by the Shannon, seen from the southeast. The earthbank and the ditch around the motte are well visible from here.

When we first visited the Clonmacnoise Monastic Settlement on July 4th, 1994, we also noticed this amazing and eye-catching ruinous castle upon a motte next to Shannon River.
And this time, after visiting the same settlement for the third time in our life, we couldn't leave this castle behind. The only difference is that in 1994 we were able to walk up to the motte and explore the ruins. In the last years a fence has been erected around the motte to prevent people to interfere with the dangerous ruins that are on a precarious balance on the top of the artificial mound.

The original castle on the motte was a timber one, but it didn't survive the Anglo-Normal invasion and was destroyed.
A new stone structure, probably 3 stories high, was built on the same site in 1215 by the De Burgo family. This castle was soon handed to Geoffrey de Marisco, who became Justiciar of Ireland a couple of years later.
Its position was important to guard and control the traffic on the Shannon River and to protect the 120 metres long bridge across the river built in the 9th century.
Around the motte there's a large and deep ditch. A drawbridge would be lowered to cross that ditch.
At the time of the building of the castle, the population of Clonmacnoise was decreasing due to the close town of Athlone becoming more and more important, so the castle as well started losing importance. It was abandoned and subsequently destroyed during the Gaelic Resurgence at the end of the 13th century.

The coordinates for this page have been interpolated through multiple readings around the ruins.

This castle was one of the locations for the movie "Flight of the Doves" (1971), by Ralph Nelson.

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