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The county name comes from the Irish word Clár, meaning a bridge of planks, and a bridge was used to cross the River Fergus at the town Clare (now Clarecastle town). The county covers 1231 square miles (3188 sq km). Its greatest length is 67 miles from Loop Head to the boundary near Lough Atorick on the northeast corner and the greatest breadth is 37 miles from Black Head to the shore west of Bunratty.
In the old Gaelic system, this county was part of the Kingdom of Thomond. This area was subject to raids by the Danish Vikings during the ninth to the eleventh centuries; which were eventually defeated by the O’Briens (a major family in Thomond). The Normans then invaded the area and the land was granted to Thomas de Clare, who never gained control of the area. The English established the county boundaries in the sixteenth century. Initially, Clare was part of Connaught and it became part of Munster in 1639. Following the defeat of the 1641 rebellion of the Catholic Confederacy, Clare was set aside to accommodate the "delinquent proprietors", i.e. those proprietors whose land was confiscated because they did not actively oppose the rebellion. Parts of the lands of the existing Clare landholders were confiscated to accommodate these landholders.
Clare is also known as the “banner county” after the custom of carrying banners to political meetings. Daniel O’Connell was welcomed by many banners at the Clare election in 1828 and the freeholders marched with banners to the Ennis courthous to cast their votes for O’Connell on that occasion.
The population was 208,089 in 1821 and grew to 286,394. It was greatly affected by the potato famine and its population decreased to 212,440 in 1851. The population continued to decrease until it was only 95,064 in 1926. In 2006, the population was 110,950. The predominant religion in the county is Roman Catholic. In 1871, 97.7% of the population were Roman Catholic followed by the Church of Ireland at 2% with 0.2% being Presbyterian. Overtime there has been a slight increase in the percentage of Roman Catholic to 98.8% in 1926. In 1926, the Church of Ireland decreased to 0.87% with 0.06% and 0.01% being Presbyterian and Methodist, respectively.
General County Research Information
- Further information about County Clare is available at the GenUKI site.
Civil Jurisdictions and Parish Research Information
- List of County Clare Parishes
- 1885 County Map: Courtesy of London Ancestor
- De Breffny,Brian. Magistrates of Co. Clare in 1792. List of Magistrates of Co. Clare, is copied from the original Commission of the Peace of William Spaight of Corbally dated June, 1792. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol.VII,no.1.1975, pages14-15. Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i v7-8. Also Magistrates of Co. Clare in 1837. List of Magistrates of Co. Clare, copied from original Commisssion of the Peace of Henry Speight of Corbally 1837. Magistrates are listed in order of seniority. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol. VII no. 2. 1975, pages 99-101. Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i v7-8
- Contributed by Scott, Gyritha. Magistrates of Co. Clare in 1819. List of magistrates of Co. Clare in 1819, copied from the original Commission of the Peace of William Scott of Knoppogue Castle. Article in The Irish Ancestor Vol.VIII.no.1.1976 pages16-17, Family History Library Ref 941.5 B2i v7-8.
- Collected by Ffolliott, Rosemary, Some Game Licences of 1802. A list of name, places of abode who took out Certificiate of Game Licences issued in 1802, covers Counties Armagh, Clare, Down, Kilkenny, Louth, Tipperary. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol..VIII, no.1. 1976, pages 35-47. Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i v7-8. Also Game Licenses in Co. Clare. 1803-1821, Notices was also given to those who hunted without a license and were caught, would be prosecuted. The Irish Ancestor, vol. XIV, no.2. 1982, pages 95-98, FHL Ref. 941.5 B2i Collected by Ffolliott, Rosemary. Businessmen of Ennis, Co. Clare, early in the Napoleonic Wars. Three lists of busnessmen listed in Clare Journal, 13 Fev. 1797. 17 Dec 1799 and 5 May 1803. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol. XVI, no. 2, 1984, pages 6-8. Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i
- The Debtors of Daniel Croghan, Ennis, Co. Clare, 1735. This document is of great interest as it contains 174 names of persons resident in or near Ennis in 1735. Records for this area are rare. The names of these individuals, are "small people" as hardly any of them have either a Prerogative or Killaloe will. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol. IV, no. 1. 1972, pages 43-44. Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i
- Abstract of Wills. many contributors. List of heirs of Benjamin Brady of Carhurley, Co. Clare dated 8 Jan. 1717. The Irish Ancestor, vol. VIII, no. 1, 1976, Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i v7-8
- Contributed by Mahony, Dr. S. C. and Ffolliott, Rosemary. Co. County Clare Voters in 1768. A list of 496 persons who voted in 1768, Parliamentary General Election. It gives Freeholders name, residence and value. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol. XVIII, no. 1. 1986. pages 14-26, Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i
- Contributed by Ffolliott. Gentlemen of the Counties Clare and Limerick Who Were In Favour of the Union in 1799. The Ennis Chronicle posted two lists of gentlemen in favour of the Union from Co. Clare, and Co. Limerick in Autumn 1799. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol. XIV no.1, 1982 page 30-35. Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i
- County Claire Library
- County Clare Old Age Pensions (information gathered from the 1841 & 1851 Ireland Censuses before they were destroyed).
- Looking 4 Kin Genealogy & Family History Network - Claire
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