Craggaunowen Castle was built by Owen MacSioda MacNamara in 1550
a descendant of Sioda MacNamara who built Knappogue Castle in 1467. It
is a typical example of a fortified Tower House, which was the ordinary
residence of the gentry at the time. There are approximately 120 surviving examples of towerhouses in Clare. The MacNamara Clan are known to have built at least 80 in their time.
After the collapse of the Gaelic Order, in the 17th century, the castle was left roofless and uninhabitable.
The Tower House remained a desolate ruin until it and the estate of Cullane House across the road were inherited by ‘Honest’ Tom Steele, a confederate of Daniel O’Connell ‘The Liberator’.Steele had the castle rebuilt as a summer house in the 1820’s and he used it and the turret on the hill opposite, as places of recreation.
The major restoration work was completed in 1965 by John Hunt, who then added
the extension to the ground floor in 1967 where part of his collection of
antiquities containing many medieval objects were exhibited. Most of his collection now resides in the Hunt Museum in Limerick City. Some larger items of furniture still remain at Craggaunowen Castle.