The capital of Connemara
The castle ruin is open to the public, but be cautious that this is private property. There is a decent area for parking but I suspect it could get crowded quick at the peak of summer
If you are lucky, you might bump into one of the owning farmers who is more than happy to offer a quick tour and some local stories about the ruin.
What I particularly like about the site was it is completely untouched and open to explore. That been said it would make a wonder restored castle too.
The castle itself is constructed at the bottom of a hill which was a surprising decision but still offering a beautiful view on the coast overlooking the Errisianan peninsula, even on a windy cold and wet day it is worthy of a postcard picture.
The story of Clifden town is fascinating to research. The town was built by the D’arcys and formed part of the Clifden dynasty. It had a slow start but soon grew into a bustling centre of trade with exports from fish and corn to marble.
the prospered during the reign of founding father John D‘arcy, however, his death was the beginning of Clifden's decline. When his eldest son Hyacinth inherited the estate, his management was a shadow of his fathers. On top of that tensions and disputes with tenants grew out of control. It’s important to point out that this period was also the beginnings of the famine with the primary product and source of food the potato crop beginning to fail.
On top of this social change was beginning to take hold with politics rallies starting on repealing the Act of Union
The famine lead to starvation, disease, death and emigration. By the late 1840’s the population had plummeted, and so too did incomes for the landlords, which bankrupted many included the D’arcys’
Hyacinth was forced to sell his estate and he peruses a life with the church. The Eyre family (two brothers) bought the estate and a few years later one brother bought out the other's stake and gifted it to his nephew.
The town itself and the surrounding lands would have eventually been sold off possibly as part of the land commissions distribution to tenants.
the prosperity of the town was somewhat rekindled with the construction of a midlands great western railway network in 1895 and the construction of a long wave wireless telegraphy station in 1905. This was at the time a technological wonder. At its peak 200 people including Jack Philips (see my titanic blog) were employees here.
This was the first point to point connection between Europe and North America.
Clifden experienced a turbulent period between 1920 and 1922.
The first was during the war of independence with the burning of Clifden. After members of the IRA shot dead two Royal Irish Constabulary Constables in Clifden, the RIC responded by requesting assistance from the Black and Tans who arrived as a trainload, burning buildings, plundering and killed one civilian.
A year later during the civil war, the town yet again experience burnings and plunder, when republicans occupied the town (they were tolerated but not support In the area)
they burned occupied buildings including the radio tower just 4km outside the town. The Transatlantic wireless service was subsequently moved to Wales. On top of this cut-down telegraph line were cut down, railway bridges were blown up and roads barricaded. Petrol was confiscated, newspapers forbidden.
There was a retreat and return from both sides (republicans and the national guard ) util the national guard finally took back control in December 1922.