Clough castle is thought to have been built by John Courcy (d.1210) or one of his knights during the invasion of Ulster in 1177.  Although used for at least another 300 years its subsequent history appears blank.  That said, 2 coins of King John (1199-1216) were excavated between the keep and the hall on the motte.  Possibly the castle was destroyed by Edward Bruce (d.1318), during his occupation of Ulster (1315-18).

The castle is a classic motte and bailey.  The motte is about 15' high and has a basal diameter of 130' and an avocado shaped summit diameter of 70-80' - the axis lying north to south.  To the south is a small kidney shaped bailey, about 50' north to south by 100' across and rising some 10' above the plain.  This is separated from the keep by a partially filled, but originally 7' deep ditch.  Excavation in 1951-52 found traces of an original palisade defending the motte summit.  In the north-east portion of the motte the foundations of a rectangular hall, 63' by 25', were uncovered.  The hall was built on low 2½' thick walls with pilaster buttresses at the corners.  Doorways were found in its south-west and north-east walls, that to the south-west facing the tower keep.  The hall was burned down relatively soon after its completion. 

The hall was augmented by the probably slightly later rectangular tower keep, 25' by 17' with walls only 3' thick.  This lay to the hall's south-west and seems to have been abandoned in the fourteenth century, but was restored in the fifteenth century with a new squat tower built along its north-east face to make an L shaped tower.  The tower appears to have been of 2 storeys, the basement of the old tower being unlit, while the floor above had 2 small rectangular loops to the south-west and one to the north-west.  The remains of a drawbar indicates that the main entrance was at first floor level to the south-east.  The fifteenth century basement has just 2 low double splayed loops to the north-east.  The upper storey or storeys are long gone just leaving the fragments of uncoursed rubble.  The whole structure was massively renovated in the late twentieth century.

Perhaps you would like to join me in visiting this and other great castles of Ireland in October with Scholarly Sojourns.  Details of the trip can be found by clicking here.


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