Well signposted off the R476, the O’Dea Castle was the stronghold of the O’Dea branch of the O’Brien clan until 1691. Nowadays it houses an archeological centre and is the best starting-point for a history trail leading across fields to Dysert O’Dea. St Tola founded a monastery here in the eighth century and there are several later religious remains, including a twelfth-century Romanesque church, extensively rebuilt in the seventeenth. This features a finely carved doorway and gargoyle-like carvings of human faces and animal heads. Nearby stands a round tower, badly damaged by Cromwell’s guns, and the twelfth-century White Cross of Tola, which bears elaborate patterning and several impressive carvings, including a Crucifixion scene set above a powerful-looking bishop. Dysert O’Dea witnessed a major battle in 1318 when Sir Richard de Clare’s army was defeated by the O’Briens, quelling attempts to enforce Anglo-Norman sovereignty over Clare – it would be another two centuries before the county succumbed.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Ireland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

6 of the best road trips in the UK

6 of the best road trips in the UK

There is something about a road trip that creates an endless state of heightened excitement. It comes with a heart-in-mouth, funfair-like thrill. And no matter …

21 May 2018 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
8 great alternative UK city breaks

8 great alternative UK city breaks

London, Edinburgh, Cardiff… These are the usual suspects when visitors are thinking about UK city breaks. But there are actually 66 other cities to be explore…

23 Apr 2018 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
9 quirky British islands to explore

9 quirky British islands to explore

Just a fraction of Britain’s more than 6000 islands are accessible – and even fewer are inhabited. If you’re dreaming of life, or just a holiday, on a rem…

04 Apr 2018 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right