Clooncorrick Castle was built by the O'Rourke's and was their residence for many centuries. The last of the family who lived in any degree of splendour was John O'Rourke, son of Thady, until, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, at a court of claims held at Carrigallen, he was deprived of his estate and declared illegitimate on the evidence of Abbot Macaward of Tirconnell. Some historians believe that this was a false testimony given by the Abbott, with a desire to settle a wrong, be it real or imagined.
In 1629 there is a record that Shane O'Rourke held lands at Clooncorrick and other townlands around Carrigallen 271 acres of arable land and pasture, 606 acres of wood and bog. He also had the power to hold courts. In 1689 Hugh O'Rourke of Clooncorrick was High Sheriff for Leitrim. Others to hold this position who resided in Clooncorrick includes the following: William Irwin (1770 -1771), Richard Irwin (1804) and Major William Irwin (1823).
The Castle is again referred to in 1705 when it was occupied by the Rev Peter Lombard until 1752. He is buried in the Church of Ireland Cemetary, Carrigallen. It appears that the Irwin family were the next to hold the castle but it is said in some circles that a Jameson family once owned it.
Major William Irwin did an extensive job of reconstruction and refurbishment on the castle in the late 18th century. It received such additions and alterations as scarcely to leave a feature of its original character. The stone was quarried at Aughavas and cut and dressed by masons on the site. the stonework was done to a very high standard. There were brick cellars and pavings. An emblem, the thistle, was to be seen on various items - fireplace, finish on gateways and on a plaque which once adorned the stables, which still exists and bears William Irwin's name dated 1797.
In 1835 Pierce Simpson bought the property. The following year he held the posts of High Sheriff, Deputy Lieutenant, and Magistrate.It is interesting to note that 1857 William Ormsby Gore was the landlord and Pierce Simspon the tenant. In 1875 Pierce Simpson died. In 1876, as a result of the death of Lord John Ralph Gore, R. Ormsby Gore was the new Lord Harlech. In 1879 George Bowen Carson Simpson is the owner. In an edition of the Leitrim Advertiser from the 1880's there is a copy of an eviction notice. This eviction was on behalf of Colonel Simpson.
William J Francis a head Constable lived at Calloughs. He was clerk of petty sessions and Bailiff for Lord Harlech. William B Francis, his son, obtained title to the castle and lands in 1903 and lived there with his wife. Mrs Francis died as a result of a fall at the castle. William died in July 1917 and is buried in Carrigallen cemetery. His sister, Elizabeth Watters, lived at the castle for two years before returning to America.
James Williams of Ballyduffy, Moyne, became the next owner of the castle and lands, which he bought in 1919 for £1,750. Previous to this James had worked in Drewsey, Oregon. He never took up residence in the castle, having part of the houses in the yard converted into a dwelling house. James farmed the land and with his wife Ellen raised nine children-Seamus, Mary (Cissy), Ann, Elizabeth (all deceased), Benny, Helen (Murphy), Mary, Veronica (Tighe), Seán and Larry.
In 1921, the army were billeted at the castle and remained there for a period of two years. In the early 1930's the upkeep of the castle became a burden and it was dismantled and sold. James died in 1943 and Ellen in 1978. Both are buried in Carrigallen cemetery. Seamus Williams was just 19 when his father, James, died. He bought his first piece of motorised machinery and commenced his work in the quarrying business, which took him and his employees all over the country.
Seamus died suddenly in June 1978. Larry came back from London to run the business. Larry and I live on the ground where the castle once stood. Margaret Williams lives close by.
Last Updated: March 27, 2012