BUNRATTY, a post-town, and parish, in the barony of BUNRATTY, county of CLARE, and province of MUNSTER, 6 miles (W. by N.) from Limerick, and 100 miles (W. S. W.) from Dublin; containing 1300 inhabitants.
This place is situated on the mail coach road from Limerick to Ennis, and on the northern shore of the river Shannon. The castle was erected in 1277, by the De Clares, and was subsequently the residence of the Earls of Thomond; it was besieged in 1305, but not taken; and the small town adjacent to it was burned in 1314. The castle was either enlarged or rebuilt by Sir Thomas de Clare, in 1597, and is still the largest in the county. Till within the last few years it was the residence of T. de Clare Studdert, Esq., who has erected a handsome modern mansion in the demesne, and the old castle is now used as a constabulary police barrack. It is a lofty and massive quadrangular structure, with a tower at each angle; the upper parts of the towers at each end of the quadrangle are connected by an arch; it still retains its old baronial hall unaltered, and, till deserted by the family, displayed a spacious and lofty banquetingroom; the outworks and appendages were of great extent, as is evident from the vestiges that may still be traced.
A handsome bridge of one arch was built over the river Ougarnee, by Mr. Studdert, who also constructed near it a commodious quay, which is about to be enlarged; boats of large size can come up to it. Considerable quantities of sea manure are landed here for the supply of the neighbourhood, and turf is brought from Kilrush.
In the Shannon near this place are several islands, one of which, called Quay Island, is inhabited by only one family: the anchorage off this island, called Bunratty Roads, is considered to be the best in the Shannon, and here the West India vessels discharge their cargoes for Limerick. Off Clonmoney is another island, called Saints' Island, containing about 50 statute acres of the richest land, and inhabited by two families. Fairs are held here on Feb. 3rd, the second Tuesday before Easter, June 3rd, July 19th, and Oct. 20th, for cattle, pigs, and sheep. A seneschal's court for the manor of Bunratty is occasionally held, in which debts not exceeding £10 late currency may be recovered.
The parish comprises 2649 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and mostly in pasture; those parts bordering on the Shannon afford rich grazing land. Bunratty Castle, the seat of T. de Clare Studdert, Esq., is pleasantly situated within the ancient demesne, and commands fine views of the Shannon and of an extensive tract of country: the mansion is spacious and of modern design, and the demesne is embellished with fine timber of stately growth. Immediately adjoining the village is Bunratty, the residence of Mrs. Paliser, in the rear of which are the ruins of an old church, the walls of which are in good preservation. The other seats are Clonmoney, that of D. Canny, Esq., and Woodpark, of M. Dalton, Esq. It is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Killaloe; the rectory forms part of the union of Tomfinlogh or Traddery, in the patronage of the Earl of Egremont; and the vicarage part of the union of Kilfinaghty. The tithes amount to £150, of which £100 is payable to the rector, and £50 to the vicar. The church of the union is at Six-mile-bridge, in that parish. The glebe-house is situated on a glebe of 11 acres in this parish, subject to a rent of £21. 10. per annum late currency. In the R. C. divisions it forms part of the union or district of Newmarket, and is held with several others by the administrator of the R. C. Bishop of Killaloe; the chapel is a commodious modern building. There is a small school under the superintendence of the vicar, in which are about 20 children; and at Clonmoney is a school under the direction of the R. C. clergyman. There is also a private school, in which about 65 children are educated.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.