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
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
Paul Martin Remfry