Although little remains of Dough castle today, it is still among the most widely recognised landmarks in North Clare. It was originally built by the O’Connors, the lords of Corcomroe, in 1306. It was sited at the strategically important mouth of the Inagh River, where it could control both land and water traffic. In 1471, the chieftain was murdered in the castle by his nephews and was buried at the end of what is now the main street of Lahinch. A cairn was erected in his memory, and this gave rise to the official Irish name for Lahinch, Leacht Ui Chonchuir, or O’Connor’s cairn.
The castle later passed to the O’Briens, one of whom, Daniel, gave “hospitable and humane” shelter to English settlers who were threatened by the Irish rebellion of 1641. In return for his actions, Dough castle was spared from being demolished or slighted by the Cromwellian army. By 1675 it was described as a tall battlemented tower with a large two-storey dwelling house attached to one side. Large windows with flat arches and slab lintels replaced the older slit windows. The present ruin is the result of various collapses due to the castle having been built upon sandbanks. One wall had fallen before 1839, and a considerable mass, with the chimney, fell in 1883. These sandbanks were reputedly the home of Donn Dumhach (Donn of the sandhills), a si prince who still haunts the scene, and the sandhill near the bridge is also supposed to be haunted. No trace has been found of a supposed underground passage, filled with valuables, leading from the castle to Liscannor.
Eddie Lenihan in his book “In the Tracks of the West Clare Railway” relates the tale of another O’Brien, lord of the nearby Moy Castle. When going to the battle of Dough he locked his wife and children into a vault under the castle to keep them safe from attack in his absence. Unfortunately, he was killed in the battle and the door was never again opened. What became of those inside is unknown………………..