The Heritage Council
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Dunlicky Castle also known as Doonlicka, was built sometime before 1574 by the MacMahon family whose chief residence was Carrigaholt Castle. Similar to Carrigaholt, the castle at Dunlicky was a tower house. It had an earth bank running along the majority of the cliff edge, which may not have been purely defensive but may have provided protection from the high winds. This was not the most hospitable place to live and by 1675, it was described as being in ruins. There are no remains to be seen on the site nowadays as its stone was removed for use elsewhere and the elements took its toll, not helped by the overuse of crushed shell as mortar during its construction.
The castle was built on the site of a much older promontory fort and there were nine of these forts doted along the coastline at Loop Head. These sites were created by the erection of earthen or stone ramparts across the necks of headlands, forming promontory forts. These forts were built primarily for defence or refuge purposes and vary greatly in size. Though generally assigned to the Iron Age, they can vary widely in date from c.1000 BC to 1700 AD and usually have the element dún, meaning fort, in their names, such as here at Dunlicky.
The former site of Dunlicky Castle is a very popular spot for fishing from the cliff face over 100 feet in height. The locals fish primarily for mackerel which are often very plentiful around September, as well as pollock and coalfish off the cliff edge. This is in contrast to the southern shore of the Loop Head peninsula, which offers calmer and sheltered fishing in the mouth of the Shannon.
Visible to the west from Dunlicky Point is a small inaccessible island located approximately 300m off the coast. It is a large flat-topped sea stack surrounded by high cliffs and a rocky shore. This island called Illaunonearaun (Oileán an Fhearáin) is a designated SPA (Special Protected Area). The sea surrounding the island, to a distance of 200m, where seabirds forage, bathe and socialise, is included in the designated site. The island is a regular haunt for wintering Barnacle Geese. Flock size varies as birds move between here and Mutton Island to the north with up to 200 recorded at times. The island is very important as a seabird colony.
Site Recommendations and Observations
It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided for this site in both directions.
Although the existing car park is large and provides significant space for the movement of vehicles, it is recommended that the existing car park be upgraded, resurfaced and lined to cater for all vehicle sizes.
Although this area gets a significant number of visitors, there are no formal paths. It is recommended that measures be implemented to create obvious paths exploring the site.
Although the castle is no longer present, it is recommended that appropriately located and suitable site interpretation measures be used to help the visitor orientate themselves on the landscape. This will allow visitors to locate and view what the Castle looked like in the past, the locations of nearby Islands such as Illaunonearaun (Oileán an Fhearáin) the southwest and Bishops Island to the northeast while reading the interpretative text.
It is recommended that the provision of cycle parking should be considered at this site.
The following three statements apply to all site recommendations:
- ‘All proposals must comply with all planning, local authority and other statutory requirements.’
- ‘All proposals for development within, adjacent to or with the potential to affect a Natura 2000 site will be subject to an Appropriate Assessment Screening. To ensure that a Habitat Directive Assessment is carried out to assess the likely impacts on Natura 2000 sites in order to comply with Article 6(3) of the Habitat Directive and in accordance with the requirements of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011.’
- ‘All projects must be undertaken in accordance with the Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Points Remedial Works Guidelines, including the Ecological Method Statement.’
Sources of Information
1) Interview with Martin McKeown
2) Research papers
3) Online Research
Other Research and Facts
Geology- Parkes, M., McAteer, C., & Engering, S., The Geological Heritage of Clare: An audit of County Geological Sites in Clare (2005). http://www.gsi.ie/NR/rdonlyres/A6A0DE5E-DE94-448E-922C-0E352BB91A65/0/Clare_section1.pdf
Extract from the Masons parochial survey 1814
It would indeed be an act of rashness and injustice, to attempt to describe the romantic scenery of this coast. The pen of a Southey or a Scott would fail in the effort. Let it be sufficient to recommend the poet or philosopher, who may hereafter visit this part of the country, to ride with an intelligent peasant, (and he will readily find one) from Dunmore, by the cliffs, to Loop-Head, passing by Killard, Baltard, Moveen, Carhernaveilan, the Castle and fortified island of Dunlicky, the puffing holes and Castle of Clahansevan, the natural bridges and ancient church of Ross, and the lofty Cairn Croghane. Here, with the ocean on his right-hand, Malbay and the islands of Arran full in his view, the traveller may enjoy the sublime; and on his return, towards Kilrush, by the flowery banks of the Shannon, he may find the beautiful in a thousand varied forms; whilst his ardent and open hearted fellow-traveller will not fail to render the excursion doubly interesting by legendary tales of other days, the glories of the ancient chiefs of Corkavaskin, or the heroism of Lord Clare, whose ghost, and those of his brave “Yellow Dragoons,” are still said to traverse “The West” in the winter nights, and plunge at the dawning of the day, into the surge that foams round the ruins of Carrigaholt.
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