A large section of the 15th /16th century Kilclooney Castle still stands and is listed as a Recorded Monument. This building, which is correctly described as a Tower House, was once the home of the renowned Ó hUigín bardic family and was occupied by Donell Ó hUigín in 1574. Tadgh Dall Ó hUigín of Sligo (1545-1593) refers to a school of poetry here in the 16th century – in which it is stated that seventeen poets of Ulster’s brightest progeny sought learning in Kilclooney of Connacht. They each studied filíocht for 12 years, the school year lasting from November to March. It is said that each student had his own stone hut where he would meditate on a prescribed theme, and next day would recite his composition before fellow students and his tutor. There is no evidence of the stone huts there today, but with careful archaeological survey using modern electronic ground probing techniques it might be possible to determine where these structures may have been.
Brian, Hugh and Tully Ó hUigín held three parts of Kilclooney in 1641 but their lands were granted to William Burke at the Restoration in the 1660’s. While an amount of this important castle still stands, it is in quite a ruinous state. An underground stream which originates near Corcoran’s Mill in Dunmore and is known as Kilclooney Well.
The following is a verse in Irish from the poem Cáislean Cheall Chluaine agus Scoil na bhFile composed by Tadgh Dall Ó hUigín recalling the presence here at Kilclooney of seventeen poets from Ulster:
“Seacht bhfir dhéag d’éigaibh Uladh
Do chuaidh d’larraich ealadhan
Dal an chuaine fhinn Ultaigh
Go Cill Chluaine I gConnachtaibh”
A field system consisting of a series of low earthen banks of c.300m length running north-south by c.250m length east–west is to be seen in the land surrounding the castle. The foundation of a grassed-over rectangular building is also present.