In the following pages you will find some suggestions of places that might like to visit in Ireland and England which have relevance to Crowe family history.
Monument to Daniel O’Connell
A good starting point would be Daniel O’Connell’s monument right in the middle of the Ennis Business District.
A courthouse once stood on this site until demolished in 1852 and replaced by the monument in 1867. It was in that courthouse in the Spring Assizes of 1819 that Lieutenant James Crowe (1790-1844) claimed the inheritance of his father George Crowe (1750-1808). O’Connell was Lieutenant James Crowe’s advocate at that hearing, but controversially was on the opposing team at the re-hearing in Dublin in 1822.
A famous painting by William Turner de Lond, circa 1825, called ‘Market day, Ennis’ shows the old courthouse. The painting is reproduced on the dust jacket of Brian O Dalaigh’s Corporation Book of Ennis held in the Ennis Library.
Also in the Library: Brian O’Dalaigh, ‘The old courthouse of Ennis’, The Other Clare, Vol.10, 1986, pp.5-12, and Larry Brennan’s O’Connell Street, Ennis, Clare Roots Society, 2012.
Clare County Library, Local Studies Centre
This is a ‘must see’ for research and archival material related to the history of County Clare. Peter Beirne is one of two librarians who work there. He has been of great assistance to me with my Crowe family research over the years. The Centre is in a small building known as The Manse adjacent to the main library on Harmony Row, Ennis.
Often referred to as Ennis Abbey, this building dates from the mid-thirteenth century when it was established as a Franciscan community under the auspices of the ruling O’Brien clan. It is an interesting historical site and well worth visiting in its own right. It is also of interest because of the memorial stone for Robert Crowe (c.1710-c.1772) and family on display in the refurbished wing of the church. The Abbey is open for visitors from April to September. Tripadvisor comments are very positive and the 1-hour tour is highly recommended. You should probably enquire in advance to find out when tours are scheduled.
Garda Station (formerly Abbeyfield House)
Also located on Abbey Street is the Garda (i.e. police) station formerly the residence of Thomas Crowe (1777-1855) and Ellen Tymons. They had 15 children, all of whom were presumably raised here. I doubt you can get a tour of the station, unless you get up to mischief and don’t have a choice.
Steele’s Rock (opposite the Garda Station)
On the other bank of the River Fergus is the engraved rock depicting a red ‘lion rampant’ to commemorate Thomas Steele’s unrequited love for Matilda Crowe (1816-1880), daughter of the above-mentioned Thomas Crowe and Ellen Tymons of Abbeyfield House. There is more about Steele’s Rock in Chapter 4 of Lucille Ellis’s Women of Clare, a copy of which will be available in the library.
John Crowe residence – 8 Bindon Street
Just around the corner from the library is a row of Georgian-style houses, one of which was the residence of Captain John Crowe (1805-1851) and Frances Elizabeth Stather (1805-1899) and their 11 children. Funding for construction was raised by an unusually financial arrangement called a Tontine Scheme. Another book by Lucille Ellis, Bindon Street and Bank Place (also in the library) has an explanation in Chapter 3 and information specifically about the Crowe residence on pages 41 and 42. The street is named after a member of the local gentry with the colourful name of Bindon Blood. He is thought to be related by marriage to the architect and artist Francis Bindon. Dromconora House purchased by James Crowe (1712-1774) in 1744 was designed by, or in the style of, Francis Bindon. He probably also designed the Old Courthouse in Ennis, now demolished.
Church of Ireland, Bindon Street
Just a little way up the street is St Columba’s, Church of Ireland – another building designed by Francis Bindon. Memorials to various descendants of Robert Crowe the Ennis merchant are to be found inside. The memorial to the right is for Thomas Crowe of Dromore (1803-1877), High Sheriff and Deputy Lieutenant.
The Rector at time of writing is Rev. Cannon Bob Hanna. He was very generous in allowing access to the original church registers for my research on the Crowe family. You could enquire locally for the times of services and opening times for visits, or contact St Columba’s directly. A recent book about the church – Eric Shaw, Memorials of past lives – will be in the County Library.