2003:1537 - Clonony Castle, Clonony More, Offaly

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Offaly Site name: Clonony Castle, Clonony More

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 22:8(01) Licence number: 03E1292

Author: Daniel Noonan, The Archaeology Company, Birr Technology Centre, Mill Island, Birr, Co. Offaly.

Site type: Tower-house

ITM: E 605158m, N 720612m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.235872, -7.922736

Testing in advance of the development of a programme of conservation and renovation of Clonony Castle, Clonony More, Co. Offaly, was carried out. The early 16th-century three-storey tower-house, with later 18th/19th-century inner and outer bawn areas, has been acquired by a new owner, who intends to renovate the structure as a private residence. Clonony Castle was one of several tower-houses in the possession of the MacCoughlan family, whose power base was in West Offaly during the 16th century. In the 17th century it came into the possession of Matthew De Renzi as part of the plantation of Delvin MacCoughlan. By the early to mid-19th century the castle had come into the possession of Edmond Maloney, who set about converting it to a more ornate residence. This included the enlarging of many of the original narrow opes of the tower-house and possibly the construction of the inner and outer bawn walls and the ancillary buildings that currently surround the structure on the west, south and east sides.

Four trenches were manually excavated at different locations within the structure, to establish the nature and extent of original fabric beneath later adhesions.

Trench 1 was located in the south-east corner of the parapeted walkway and measured 1.5m north-south by 1.3m. The trench revealed the presence of a slate cladding applied to the wall-walk, above the original wall fabric, protecting it and the modified wall plate from weathering. This work probably took place as part of the early 19th-century works to the castle and may represent a repeat of the earlier water management of the walkway.

Trench 2 was located in the north-eastern corner of the second floor of the castle and measured 1m by 1m. It revealed that the original medieval fill of the vault is largely intact beneath the modern silty sediment, at a depth of 0.2m below the present floor level. The upper part of the vault fill has been partially quarried out with shallow, linear shafts, which acted as bedding for later 19th-century floor joists.

Trench 3 was located in the western corner of the ground floor and measured 1.6m north-west/south-east by 1.2m. The earliest surviving clay floor surface of the castle was uncovered at a depth of 0.35m below the present floor level. It was covered with a thick layer of stony rubble, laid down as a make-up layer for the higher 19th-century floor level.

Trench 4 was located in the doorway in the south wall of the ground floor, within an enlarged former window embrasure. The trench measured 2m north-south by 1.5m and was excavated to a depth of 0.24m below present ground level. The compacted upper metalled surface of the 19th-century floor was revealed in this trench; it was not removed.