Lemaneagh Castle

The history of Lemaneagh Castle - MacMahon and O'Brien Irish genealogy.
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Lemaneagh CastleLemaneagh Castle is a fortified manor house on the crossroads of Corofin and Kilfenora in County Clare.

Located in an area know as the known as the Burren, Lemaneagh Castle is actually 2 structures combined. The oldest part on the east end is a five story tower from the late 15th Century. (1480) The tower features narrow windows, several small chambers and a spiral stairway.

Lemaneagh manor house rises 4 gabled stories above the countryside and features rows of large stone window frames. The major part of the structure dates from the the 1630s and is thought to have been built on the foundation of an earlier hall. The impressive structure houses the kitchens and work areas on the ground floor with the main living quarters being on the first and second story.

Léim an Eich or Fheidh - Leap of the horse or deer

The earliest mention of the castle is in 1550 when the property was granted to Donough O'Brien. In the 1630s Conor O'Brien inherited the land and built the manor house on to the original tower.

Lemaneagh manor house was built for comfort with large windows to let in both light and air, extensive walled gardens, a summer house and fish pond. In addition to improving the house, he surround it with a fortified wall and an impressive front gate. The high and rounded entrance gate held an inscription that said "built in the year 1643 by Conor O'Brien and by Mary ni Mahon, wife of the said Connor." On either side hung the coat of arms belonging to Conor O'Brien 1643, and his son Sir Donat O'Brien 1690.

Conor O'Brien's wife was red haired Maire Rua. (Maire ni Mahon - daughter of Turlough MacMahon) She is said to have gone with her husband on raids against English settlers. Conor O'Brien was killed in 1651 while fighting against Cromwell's loyalists. Maire then married a Cromwellian soldier to preserve her son's inheritance. She was indicted for murdering this husband, John Cooper, but was acquitted. Maire Rua (Red Mary) died in 1686.

It was her son, Sir Donat O'Brien, who improved the property. In addition to work on the gardens, a canal was added and the carriage drive lined with trees. In 1705 Sir Donat left Lemaneagh Castle for Dromoland, ancient stronghold of the O'Breins. He took with him a fine stone fireplace and the impressive gate which now rests in the garden of Dromoland. After he left Lemaneagh Castle fell into ruins.

Of the many stories that surround the property, one is of a particular area near the fish pond. Inset into an entrance to a walled garden are 2 niches. Legend has it that they were built for a blind stallion belonging to Maire Rua. He was supposed to be so wild that when let free in the yard, his grooms had to jump up into the niches to keep from being trampled.

Another more haunting tale is that the famous Maire Rua roams along the front avenue, near what is known as the Druids' altar.

 



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