The deserted medieval Anglo-Norman town of Rindoon is situated on a peninsula on the shore of Lough Ree, and is one of the furthest Western territories the 13th century Anglo-Norman conquest was able to take, sustain and grow, even if this was for only a relatively short time.
It is believed St John’s Point was inhabited prior to the Anglo-Norman arrival as the name Rindoon (in Irish Rinn Dúin) means ‘the fort of the promontory’, also an early medieval cross slab in the graveyard of the medieval hospital pre dates the town’s formation.
The Hospital of the Crutched Friars (Fratres Cruciferi) was established in 1216 by King John and Philip d’Angulo and it may have occupied the site of a pre-existing church or monastery. The castle was built in 1227 by Toirdelbach Ó Conchobhair and Geoffrey Marisco and the settlement grew quickly, as evidenced by a market cross, bawn and ditch being mentioned in an account of an attack on the town in 1236 by Feilimid Ó Conchobhair.
Over the next 80 years a 550 metre town wall with three towers and a gatehouse were built to protect the town and its 800-1000 inhabitants, a windmill, a parish church and the hospital would have served the needs of this sizeable community. The reason for the towns prosperity lay in its location near the River Shannon and at the edge of Norman held territory.
Feilimid Ó Conchobhair became King of Connaught in 1237 and was at relative peace with the Anglo-Normans, his successor Aed was not so hospitable and led attacks on Rindoon in 1270 and 1272, the second attack ‘levelled’ much of the Castle. Henry III knew the strategic importance of the site and over the next few years the walls were fortified and the castle was repaired at considerable cost.
In 1315 Ruaidhrí Ó Conchobhair successfully attacked Rindoon and this marks the decline of the town as an Anglo-Norman territory. Records show that town was completely out of royal control by 1342 and was in Irish hands. It appears the town declined rapidly and quickly became uninhabitable. In 1606 the lands were granted to Edward Crofton and were described as ‘the monastery of St John the Baptist, alias the Crotched Friars of St John the Baptists…a slated church, belfry, cloister and all other buildings, gardens…six waste cottages in the town of St. Johns’.
My visit to Rindoon was brief but beautiful, I will certainly be making a return trip to have a better look at the town walls and the foundation blocks of the cottages. To stand in the skeleton of the castle and stare out the window at the field below is mesmerising, its hard to imagine the silent void below was once a bustling neighbourhood of one thousand people. Rindoon is set in an area of considerable natural beauty and luckily for me the bluebells were in bloom during my visit in May. Praise should be given to the private owner of the land PJ Grady, who allows access to site, and cares deeply about the peculiar ghost town of Rindoon.
GPS: 53.53891, -7.99068