History of The Burren: Leamaneh Castle

Leamaneh Castle is a magnificent ruined castle in the heart of the Burren and an absolute must see if you are visiting the area. The castle is made up of a 15th-century tower house and a 17th-century mansion.

Leamaneh Castle


The original tower house was built between 1480 – 90 by Turlogh Donn O’ Brien.  He was a member of the O’Brien Family who was one of the last high kings of Ireland. He also happened to be a descendant of Brian Boru.

In 1639 a descendant of Turloghs named Connor O’Brien married Máire ní Mahon. She went in to become one of the most famous women in Irish folklore because of her flaming red hair. She commonly became known as ‘‘Red Mary’’. When Máire’s first husband died she inherited his wealth and this allowed herself and Connor to build a mansion attached to the tower.

Connor joined many raids against the English and Máire often joined him. In 1651 he was mortally wounded and Máire quickly realised that she would lose her castle as punishment for rebelling. Not wanting this to happen she quickly made her way to Limerick offered to marry any Cromwellian officer who would take her hand.

Máire’s third husband was Cornet John Cooper a Cromwellian soldier and so she was able to keep her estate. However her new husband ran into financial difficulty and since he owned the castle through his wife it was mortgaged to repay his debts.

Leamaneh Castle went on to have various occupants but eventually fell into ruin at the end of the 18th century. The more lavish parts of the castle for moved to other important buildings in Clare. The gates were to Dromoland Castle in 1906 by Lord Inchiquin.

Today the castle is in ruins but it still has its tower house with its arrow slits and the mansion also still has its 4 walls standing. Unlike many castles in Ireland Leamaneh Castle unmaintained and due to its poor state in inaccessible however it is still worth visiting even if you can’t get up close!