Kilkee Castle

The site of the Kilkee Castle was west of Castlefield which has a manmade Ringfort. Kilkee Castle is no more and was built by the MacSweeney family ,mercenary soldiers from Scotland, in the 15th Century.   Colle Mac Swyne (MacSweeney) chief captain of the Gallowglass of the county Clare was in possession of Kilkee Castle in 1570 .Owner in fee of the castle, town and lands of Kilkee, left to his son Hugh when he died in 1576 .We know the castle was a ruin in the 1600s. Probably destroyed during the siege of Carrigaholt in 1599 against the McMahons and other Irish Gaelic chieftains of the area by the Earl Of Thomond.

Daniel McDonnell : fourth son of Sir James; deprived of his patrimony in  Antrim, settled at Kilkee, county of Clare, where he obtained leases of several lands from his kinsman Lord Clare.Married into the O’Brien Family : died about 1675.

The ruins of the castle were used to store corn during the Cromwellian Invasion in 1649 when General Ludlow took over Carrigaholt Castle after a siege.

Captain James McDonnell of Kilkee, was the second son of Daniel MacDonnell and Penelope, daughter of Teige O’Brien of Dough.  He fought on behalf of James the 2nd in the Clare Dragoons. It would seem that at some point the McDonnell’s built Kilkee House near the site of the ruined castle.A lot of the stone from the castle was used in its construction.You can see the site of Kilkee House on the main road up to the top of Castlefield on the left hand side, the site is now unbuild and overgrown

Charles McDonnell son of James was lord High Sheriff of Clare in 1760 and had moved to Ennis and bought New Hall in 1764. His grandmother Isabel was the last occupant of Kilkee House in 1788 when she died.  After Isabel died the house then fell into ruin and by 1816 Mason found the remains of the house imperceptible. The stones of the house were used to build new houses in the vicinity. There is another article called Lady Isabella’s Fishpond on the website and gives more information on her life.  There are some Gate posts on Clifton Terrace which come from the house.

Kilkee Castle

Comments about this page

  • This is a marvellous site. Fascinating reading. Thank you for all the contributions. One map of Kilkee with all the key archaeological sites and historic buildings would be really helpful.

    By V Davies (24/09/2023)
  • Hi
    No foundation stones exist so the exact location is unknown. The stones were part of the castle.

    By Robert Brown (31/07/2023)
  • Hi Robert,
    I am delighted somebody has dealt with this subject. The location of the McSweeney castle has been on my mind for many years.
    Is the exact location of the tower known? In other words are there any foundation stones left or anything above ground.
    Are the stone walls in the photos simply the reused rubble from the tower and nothing more?
    I would be delighted to hear from you.

    Kind Regards,


    By Gerry Ward (05/07/2023)
  • Mary
    As Robbie is away I can answer your question. Dunlickey Castle was at the very top of Castlefield near the ring fort.The Cromwellian army stored grain in it but by the end of the eithteenth century it was already a ruin. The stones from the castle were used to build Kilkee House by the McDonnells. On the main road up to the top of Castlefield you will see on the left hand side an unbuilt and overgrown site. This was the site of Kilkee House.When Lady Isabella died the house fell into ruin and was abandoned.The McDonnell family all moved to Ennis.
    The house you mentioned with the ivy is now owned by Gerry Boland an accountant from Limerick. If it had a name I don’t know it but I will look it up.
    Hope this answers your queries.
    Happy easter
    John Williams

    By John Williams (02/04/2023)
  • Hello Robbie
    Is Kilkee house site the same as dunlickey castle
    Do you know if the lovely ivy clas stone house with piers from Dunlickey castle had a name
    Hope you are having great holiday

    By Mary nolan (02/04/2023)

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