In recent years, a 17th century fortified house known as Clones Castle was rediscovered, hidden in plain sight (and swallowed by ivy and Georgian buildings) on Castle Street in the town, there was a clue there somewhere! You can read about its rediscovery here.
There’s a number of other references to Clones in the ever-excellent Schools’ Folklore Collection. One story describes how the famous Daniel O’Connell arranged for one of his ‘Monster-Meetings’ to be held in the old graveyard in 1845. O’Connell himself could not attend, but he was represented by an ally of his, by the name of Lawless. As the meeting was underway, the local protestants held their own meeting in the Diamond in the town, where they spoke vehemently against O’Connell and his ideas of Catholic Emancipation. As the Catholics passed by the protestant meeting following the end of Lawless’s speech, the two sides began fighting and throwing stones at each other. One man named MacCafrey was said to have been killed in the fight.
Another tale concerns the motte, or the Old Fort. In the 19th century, an old piper made a bet that he could prove that there was a tunnel that ran from the fort. The piper took up his pipes, and entered the mouth of a tunnel in a yard owned by men called Parker and McGomery. The piper played a tune on his pipes as he made his way into the tunnel, and people heard the tune all the way up to the steps of the protestant church. Then the music died away. Neither the piper, nor his pipes were ever seen again.
Also included in the Schools’ Record is this charming song, called Clones Fair.
‘Where ever you in Clones or did you see the fair?
The girls they are so handsome and the boys the devil may care.
When they meet in Fermanagh street they will give each other the wink
Good day, says Paddy to Biddy, won’t you come in and have a drink?’