Cancelled Book Clareabbey 1855-1970

Clareabbey Townland Griffith's Map

Clareabbey and Clareabbey Intake townlands 1855

The townland Clareabbey is located on the northern boundary of the parish, comprises 242 acres or 98 hectares. It is bordered by Ballybeg to the west, Ballaghafadda East and Clare Commons to the south, Skehanagh to the east, the Doora parish townland of Bunnow and Drumcliffe (Ennis) parish townland of Clonroad More to the north. [1] The main Ennis to Clarecastle road (R458) runs along the boundary with Ballaghafadda East. More recently the N85 Ennis Western Relief Road has been constructed. The Ennis to Limerick railway line runs through Clareabbey.

Early cancelled books recorded Clareabbey Intake separately. It is located to the north of Clare Commons. It is uncertain why the Griffith Valuation recorded the eight acres of land in Clareabbey Intake separately but later the land was incorporated into Lissane West.

Clareabbey gives its name to the civil parish of Clareabbey. The ruins of the Augustinian Monastery (Black Canons) founded in 1189 by Domhnaill Mór Ó Briain (d. 1194), king of Munster.[2] The monastery functioned until 1543 when the site and lands were granted to Domnall Ramhar O’Brien, 2nd earl of Thomond as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Hentry viii’s 1534 Act of Supremacy.[3] The Monastic Ireland website records that Clareabbey continue to function until the defeat of the Jacobites (followers of James ii) during the Williamite Wars (1689-91).[4][5]

The 1855 valuation does not record the presence of the historic brick pits excavated in separate digs as part of civil works for the N85 Ennis Western Relief Road and the Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme, and recorded by Hull and Hurley (2020) and Shaw (2014).[6] This suggests that the brick pits had ceased operation by the time of the Griffith Valuation.

The arrival of the Ennis to Limerick railway with the creation of a new lot 3, occupying three acres is documented in the 1861 Clareabbey revision/cancelled books. While this revision/cancelled book records that the Limerick and Ennis Railway Company as occupiers of lot 3 Clareabbey in September 1861, construction of the railway line was well underway before this as the Ennis Station opened in 1859. The Clarecastle Railway Station in Skehanagh opened before its Ennis counterpart January 1859.[7] The railway was operated by the Waterford Limerick & Western Railway Company.[8]

Thomas Crowe (1803-1877) of Dromore, Ruan was the immediate lessor of the land in Clareabbey which he leased to Daniel O’Brien and Thomas Lynch.[9][10] [11] The April 1865 marriage of Ellen Crowe, second daughter of Thomas Crowe to William Spaight who was the immediate lessor of land in Clarehill demonstrates the interconnected family ties amongst local landowners.[12] The Crowes still held land at Clareabbey in 1910.

Power indicates that Sir David Roche (1791-1865) of Carcass, Limerick took over the lands previously held by the Peacocke family in the parish which included the eight acres in Clareabbey Intake. Roche’s other land in the parish was in Ballaghafadda West, Lissane East and West and Barntick.[13][14] Roche, a member of a prominent Limerick flour milling family had been elected a member of the United Kingdom Parliament for Daniel O’Connell’s Repeal Association and by 1838 was created a baronet.[15]

The Clare Journal notes that Clareabbey lot 1a, 189 acres of land occupied by Thomas Lynch and William Russell from Thomas Crowe was advertised in March 1865. The advertisement states that ‘a resident tenant would be preferred, for whom a dwelling house would be built on the farm, or a sum of money allowed for that purpose’.[16] The 1866-75 Cancelled book records the that by 1875 Daniel O’Brien was the occupier of two lots of land totalling 227 acres and the comments column indicates that a new house was in progress in lot 1a to be valued in 1876. This house, Clareabbey House, is still extant and is a prominent local landmark. An 1875 court case Edwards v O’Brien informs us that the architect of Clareabbey House was William Carroll junior, son of William Carroll a local builder.[17]  Daniel O’Brien was a member of the Ennis Board of Guardians, is recorded in parish baptism registers for his children as living in Clare Commons and appears to have operated a business in the village.[18]

At the death of Sir David Roche in 1865, his son Standish O’Grady Roche (1845-1914) from his second marriage, is shown as the immediate lessor of lands in Clareabbey Intake.[19] The cancelled book also records the consolidation of lots 2 and 3 in 1871.

The Clareabbey cancelled book changes recorded for lot 3- the land owned by the Limerick and Ennis Railway Company gives identifies men who held the role of secretary to the company. There is also a substantial increase in the rates leveed 1861, 1866 and 1874 when the valuation increases from three pounds, five shillings, to twenty pounds and finally forty-three pounds. This increase in valuation is probably due to the increase in rail freight and passenger traffic and extension of the trainline beyond Ennis to Tuam and Sligo and the link with the western trainline line to Dublin at Athenry.

The Clare Journal reports on deliberations by the Ennis Board of Guardians who wished to enclose a wall around the Clareabbey burial ground. The meeting discussed the extent of the enclosure required including discussion as to the extent of graves in the burial ground. Mr Dexter presenting Thomas Crowe the immediate lessor (landowner) that he (Mr Crowe ‘would enclose the place and out a gate on it, without the interference of the board’.[20] Just a month later a notice to contractors in the Clare Journal directs those tendering to contact Daniel O’Brien of Clareabbey. The advertisment places special emphasis on two iron gates.

The most significant change to land use in Clareabbey documented 1876-1896 is the 1890 sub-division of lot 1a, land occupied by Daniel O’Brien and owned by Thomas Crowe to create lots 1Ab and lot 1c each with a house and garden. The immediate lessor of both houses with their gardens was Guardians of Ennis Union. One house was occupied by the O’Neill family and the second by the Fitzpatrick family. We see from the change in occupier that John O’Neill’s name is cancelled and his wife Bridget is listed as the occupier. John O’Neill died in November 1890 and his wife Bridget and two children were present in the home at the 1901 census.[21][22]

While no name change is recorded as immediate lessor, we know from newspaper accounts that Thomas Crowe (1803-1877) died and was succeeded by his son Thomas (1845-1922) who was present at Dromore, Ruan at the 1901 census.[23][24][25] Transcription by the Clare Roots Society records that Thomas Crowe senior is buried in Clareabbey graveyard and there is a newspaper account of his funeral in May 1877.[26][27]

The changes observed in the 1896-1910 Clareabbey cancelled book could be said to reflect changes in land ownership and construction of new homes by local authorities in rural Ireland.

A major change is that lot 1A 189 acres occupied by Daniel O’Brien in 1896 was sub-divided into three parcels of land and notified to the Valuation Office 1906-1910. By 1910, Daniel O’Brien is shown as the occupier of lot 1Aa (eighty-three acres) and lot 1B (forty-four acres) while Andrew Hickey occupied lot 1C with fifty-seven acres. Thomas Crowe’s name was cancelled and In fee LAP (Land Act Purchase) recorded by the Valuation Office.

The Irish Land Purchase Act United Kingdom [1903] also known as the Wyndham Land Purchase Act “by providing generous inducements to landlords to sell their estates, the act effected by government mediation the transfer of landownership to the occupying tenant”.[28] This is one of the first purchases of land under the LAP observed in the parish.

The 1896-1910 revision/cancelled book records further subdivision of lot 1 and lot 2 for the construction and occupation of three new houses listing the Ennis Rural District Council as immediate lessor. The Council is also listed as the immediate lessor of one of the two houses erected about 1890 listing Guardians of Ennis Union as the immediate lessor. This change may be due to changes resulting from the newly proclaimed Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898 which ‘established a system of county councils, urban and rural district councils in Ireland, based on the British model. The act brought to an end landlord control of local government in Ireland.’[29]

Daniel O’Brien (1808-1897) who features in the Clareabbey townland cancelled books 1855-1910) died in 1897 but his name continues to be noted as the occupier.[30] At the 1901 census the head of the family was his daughter-in-law Margaret O’Brien (1856-1937, nee Moran) widow of James O’Brien, Daniel’s son. The family continued to have a link to the farm in Clareabbey until the death of James O’Brien (1891-1964), son of James and Margaret Moran.

Sheedy notes that the Ennis Racing Club utilised part of the O’Brien’s farm for its race meeting in the early twentieth century. One field used was known as the stand field which maybe where the race stand was located.[31][32]

A preliminary meeting was held on 15 May 1905 to discuss again the siting of a new course for Ennis races, with Maj. C. W. Studdert in the chair. A proposal was made concerning a location at Mrs O’Brien’s farm at Clare Abbey that had been visited by Maj. Kenny, was 331 yards in circumference. This was regarded as a little small but sufficient, with space to erect a stand at the far side of the course. A rent of £60 was sought by Mrs O’Brien, with £10 to Pat Carmody for his part of the course, and 29 and 30 August were the dates suggested for the races. But the races were abandoned in that year.

Ennis races were revived, yet again, on a very fine day in mid-October (1907) over “a splendid new course” at Clare Abbey, when a huge crowd attended.

Clare Abbey was the venue again for the Ennis Races in mid-August (1908), the only complaint being that the course did not give a very good view of the racing.

The annual Clare Hunt Point-to-Point took place on Monday 3 April 1911 in the Clarecastle district, the finish being on the Clare Abbey course, with the hill opposite the stand affording a good vantage ground.

The cancelled books 1910-70 continue to show changes in the townland including continued housing development along the main road and changes to owners of land.





[1] G. Hull and K. Hurley, ‘post-medieval brick making kilns near Clare Abbey’, The Other Clare, Vol 44 (2020) pp. 20-24.

[2] ( ) (28 Sep 2020)

[3] ( (28 Sep 2020)

[4] ( (28 Sep 2020)

[5] ( (28 Sep 2020)

[6] E. Shaw, ‘Brick fields and the Clarecastle pipe factory’ in Land and People (Clarecastle, 2014) pp. 41-43.

[7] ( (28 Sep. 2020).

[8] ( (28 Sep. 2020)

[9] Weekly Irish Times, 19 May 1877.

[10] ( (28 Sep. 2020)

[11] Joe Power, A history of Clare Castle (Ennis, 2004) p.205.

[12] Clare Freeman and Ennis Gazette, 2 May 1865.

[13] Joe Power, A history of Clare Castle (Ennis, 2004) p.205.

[14] ( (28 Sep. 2020)

[15] Irish Independent, 19 Mar. 2015.

[16] Clare Journal 30 Mar 1865.

[17] Clare Freeman and Ennis Gazette, 20 Jan 1875.

[18] The Evening Freeman, 29 Mar. 1869.

[19] ( (30 Sep. 2020)

[20] Clare Journal 17 May 1866

[21] (http://www. (30 Sep. 2020)

[22] ( (30 Sep 2020)

[23] ( (30 Sep 2020)

[24] Clare Advertiser and Kilrush Gazette, 10 May 1877

[25] ( (30 Sep 2020)

[26]( (30 Sep 2020).

[27] Clare Advertiser and Kilrush Gazette, 19 May 1877.

[28] ( (30 Sep 2020).

[29] ( (30 Sep 2020)

[30] ( (30 Sep 2020)

[31] Kieran Sheedy, The Horse in County Clare, Vol. 1, 2001.

[32] With thanks to Eric Shaw of Clarecastle for this transcription.

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