Clara Castle, Co. Kilkenny

Clara Castle, County Kilkenny, in February 1986. The tower house which became known as the perfect classic tower house, after Harold Leask published two diagrammatic sections of it in his “Irish Castles and Castellated Houses” book, in 1951.

One of his sections is reproduced here: Clara Castle is quite rightly a National Monument. In 1986, the nearby caretaker held the key and access was easily gained.

The cattle feeding in the adjacent yard is probably a much more authentic use of the area, than the more sanitised mown grass that we have come to associate with our National Monuments.

The main door is entered after passing through a gate in what appears to have been a small stone bawn wall, but according to Con Manning it formed part of an early gabled structure, which adjoined the tower. There were plenty of original wooden floor joists in it, which were of interest as so little medieval wood survives in Ireland. It is believed to have been inhabited until the first decade of the 20th century.