(Irish: Contae an Chláir) is a county in Ireland, in the Mid-West Region and the province of Munster, bordered on the West by the Atlantic Ocean. There is debate if it should be historically considered a part of Connacht. Clare County Council is the local authority.
The county had a population of 117,196 at the 2011 census. The county town and largest settlement is Ennis.
The county is divided into the baronies of Bunratty Lower, Bunratty Upper, Burren, Clonderalaw, Corcomroe, Ibrickan, Inchiquin, Islands, Moyarta, Tulla Lower and Tulla Upper. These in turn are divided into civil parishes, which are divided into townlands. These divisions are cadastral, defining land boundaries and ownership, rather than administrative
County Clare hosts the oldest known evidence of human activity in Ireland. The patella of a bear, which was subject to butchering close to the time of death, was found in the Alice and Gwendoline Cave, near Edenvale House, Clarecastle. The bone features a number of linear-cut marks, and has been dated to circa 10,500 BC, from the Paleolithic era. This discovery, publicized in 2017, pushed back Ireland's occupation by 2,500 years - what was previously regarded as the oldest site of occupation was the Mesolithic site of Mount Sandel, County Londonderry. This bear bone was discovered in 1903 during an archaeological excavation, however was not studied until over a century later.
There was a Neolithic civilization in the Clare area — the name of the peoples is unknown, but the Prehistoric peoples left evidence behind in the form of ancient dolmen: single-chamber megalithic tombs, usually consisting of three or more upright stones. Clare is one of the richest places in Ireland for these tombs. The most noted one is in The Burren area; it is known as Poulnabrone dolmen, which translates to "hole of sorrows". The remains of the people inside the tomb have been excavated and dated to 3800 BC.
Ptolemy created a map of Ireland in his Geographia with information dating from 100 AD; it is the oldest written account of the island that includes geographical features. Within his map, Ptolemy names the Gaelic tribes inhabiting it and the areas in which they resided; in the area of Clare, he identified a tribe known as the Gangani. Historians have found the tribes on the west of Ireland the most difficult to identify with known peoples; however, historians William Camden and Charles O'Conor speculated a possible connection between the Gangani and the Concani, one of the eleven tribes in the confederacy of the Cantabri in the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula.
During the Early Middle Ages, the area was part of the Kingdom of Connacht ruled by the Uí Fiachrach Aidhne. In the mid-10th century, it was annexed to the Kingdom of Munster to be settled by the Dalcassians. It was renamed Thomond, meaning North Munster. Brian Boru became a leader from here during this period, perhaps the most noted High King of Ireland.
From 1118 onwards the Kingdom of Thomond was in place as its own petty kingdom, ruled by the O'Brien Clan. After the Norman invasion of Ireland, Thomas de Clare established a short-lived Norman lordship of Thomond, extinguished at the Battle of Dysert O'Dea in 1318 during Edward Bruce's invasion.
There are two main hypotheses for the origins of the county name "Clare". One is that the name is derived from Thomas de Clare who was deeply embroiled in local politics and fighting in the 1270s and 1280s. An alternative hypothesis is that the county name Clare comes from the settlement of Clare (now Clarecastle), whose Irish name Clár (plank bridge) refers to a crossing over the River Fergus.
In 1543, during the Tudor conquest of Ireland, Murrough O'Brien, by surrender and regrant to Henry VIII, became Earl of Thomond within Henry's Kingdom of Ireland. Henry Sidney as Lord Deputy of Ireland responded to the Desmond Rebellion by creating the presidency of Connaught in 1569 and presidency of Munster in 1570. He transferred Thomond from Munster to Connaught, which he shired, Thomond becoming County Clare.
About 1600, Clare was removed from the presidency of Connaught and made a presidency in its own right under the Earl of Thomond. When Henry O'Brien, 5th Earl of Thomond died in 1639, Lord Deputy Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford decreed Clare should return to the presidency of Munster, but the Wars of the Three Kingdoms delayed this until the Restoration of 1660.
Clare's county nickname is the Banner County, for which various origins have been suggested: the banners captured by Clare's Dragoons at the Battle of Ramillies; or the banner of "Catholic emancipation" raised by Daniel O'Connell's victory in an 1828 by-election for County Clare that led to Parliament passing the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829.
Scattery Island, in the Mouth of the Shannon off the Clare coast, was transferred to Limerick Corporation and the county of the city of Limerick after the dissolution of the monasteries in the mid-16th century. It was assigned to County Clare after the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act 1840. Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, part of the judicial county of Galway (Drummaan, Inishcaltra North and Mountshannon electoral divisions) was transferred to county Clare. This area contains the village of Mountshannon on the north-western shore of Lough Derg.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia