The ruin of Cloondooan is utterly striking considering that all that remains of once one of the finest castles in Ireland is the slender north wall, somehow standing resolutely as the centuries have passed near the northern shore of Lough Bunny. At one time outlying bawn walls and towers would have served as a defence for the castle, as the Annals of the Four Masters for 1586AD stated there, ‘was not an inland castle in Ireland better fortified and more impregnable than Cluain Dubhain’. In 1584 Sir Richard Bingham was made Governor of Connaught, he was known for his violent suppression of those disloyal to the crown and in one month alone, January 1986, he executed seventy men and women in Galway. In 1586 Sir Richard Bingham laid siege to the castle, which was then in possession of a Mahon O’Brien (son of Torlough), who was a staunch supporter of the Irish cause. The siege lasted three months and Mahon was its chief defender, he was killed with a musket shot while throwing down rocks and stones on the siege forces. The rest of the occupants of the castle decided to surrender but nevertheless when the troops entered all those inside were executed and the castle was partially destroyed, leading to further ruin over the years since. The Annals state that, ‘Sir Richard Bingham was exalted by his achievement’ due to how difficult Cloondooan was considered to take. All the remains today is the north wall, almost 20 metres in height and 9 metres in width, remains of the defences can be seen across the road to the north and parts of the bawn wall to the south side of Cloondooan are overgrown.
GPS: 53.03011, -8.92399