Clonmines, like Bannow, was a borough by prescription, and no charter was available. In 1783 it was reported that its corporation comprised the 'same 13 Burgesses as Bannow. No inhabitant. Patron same, Mr Tottenham (2088). Proprietor, Mr Annesley. A decayed and rotten Borough.' In 1790 its origins were explained as follows:
This, like Bannow, was in early days a thriving and populous sea port and from the same causes which destroyed the former's prosperity it has sunk into decay. Its electors, reduced by art and fraud to the Burgesses only, are the mere passive organs of Lord Loftus's (2088) will who creating them by his breath, rules them by his nod and who might as easily return for it two of his footmen, as he has introduced some of his domestics into their body. Submissive obedience forms the first merit of his delegated trustees, nor do his commands ever meet with any opposition from the vassals of his power.429
Like Bannow it was disfranchised at the Union and the £15,000 compensation paid to Charles, Marquess of Ely.