Histories Menu Next
A History of the O'Mahony Septs of Kinelmeky and Ivagha
REV. CANON JOHN O'MAHONY, GLENVILLE, CROOKSTOWN
Journal of the Cork Archæological and Historical Society, various issues, 1906-10
Cork: Guy & Co., 1912
After the voluntary division of the Sept in the middle of the thirteenth century, distinctive appellations became necessary for the separated territories and for their chieftains. "It is curious," says Dr. O'Donovan, "to remark the whim of custom in applying names to territories. The country of the Western O'Mahony retained the tribe name of the whole Sept Ivagha, Ui Eachach), while that of the Eastern O'Mahony received that of Cinelmbece (Kinelmeky) from Bec or Bece, an ancestor less remote than Eocaidh." (Notes supplied by Dr. O'D. to Prof. Kelly, Ed. of Cambrensis Eversus). The chieftain of the Eastern Sept, though sometimes called Tigearna Cineálmbece, Lord of Kinelmeky, was generally designated O’Matgamna Cáirbreac in the Annals and Genealogical MSS., "O'Mahon or O'Mahony of Carbery," in the English State papers. This recognised appellation preserved the memory of the ancient predominance of his ancestor in Carbery. His western kinsman, of the elder branch of the family, is known in the Annals and other Irish documents as O’Matgamna an Fuin lartaraig or Amartair, i.e., "of the Western Land," and in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as O'Mahon Fionn, i.e., the Fairhaired, from an ancestor that succeeded in A.D. 1513. Whoever prepared the Index of O'Donovan's Ed. of the Four Masters has created some confusion by bestowing the territorial designation, "of Carbery," on both chieftains indifferently. Cox, in his Regnum Corcagiense, discriminates them and their tribe lands by correct appellations: "The best branch was that of O'Mahown Fionn (Fune) alias ‘Ownyerer,' or of the West, as he resided in West Carbery, where he had twelve castles, the principal whereof were Ardintenant and Three Castle Head. The other branch was called O'Mahown Carbry, and his seat was at Castle Mahon, which was then part of Carbry." The name Kinelmeky replaced the older tribal name Kinelea as regards the northern and western portions of the territory. Kinelea itself had replaced two older appellations, Musgry Mitine, which anciently was applied to the eastern and north-eastern portion,1 in which was the chief's residence, Rath Rathleann, and Carbery, which was the name of the southern portion of the district, in which was built Castle Mahon, now called Castle Bernard. Dr. O'Brien, in his Irish Dictionary (sub voce Carbery), says that "Carbery was anciently a portion of Corcalaidhe (Corcalee), and extended from Bandon to the Mizen Head in the west." But it has been shown in the introductory portion of this history that Irish writers distinguished not only Corcalee but Ivagha from Carbery. With that correction, Dr. O'Brien's definition of Carbery may be accepted. His view that it was originally part of Corcalee is confirmed by some place names; for instance, Ballymodan (Bandon), pronounced by Irish speakers Ballymudain, is called after the Corcalee family of Mudan. We have already adopted the opinion of the old Irish antiquaries that the name Carbery came from Cairbre Riada in the third century, but it is quite possible that it may have come from the Corcalee tribe, Ui Carbre, who gave a name to Rosscarbery; or it may have come from Cairbre, one of the chiefs of the Ui Eachach, of the Cinel Laeghere branch, who flourished A.D. 580. We have proved that the modern conjecture deriving this very ancient name from the Carbre Aedha or O'Donovans is utterly untenable, and that the extension of the name to the four baronies was an English, not an Irish usage. (Supra, vol. xii., No. 72, p. 183).2
Donal Gott Mac Carthy, ancestor of Mac Carthy Reagh, after his unprovoked attack on the Sept in 1232, henceforward, says the Innisfallen Annalist, assumed the name "Cairbreach," and commenced to "live in the South"―that is to say, in that part of the original Kinelmeky which lay about Kilbrittain, which De Courcy had probably occupied before A.D. 1200, and sought to secure by building Kilbrittain Castle, of which Donal, or his son Fineen, deprived him. The district occupied included, besides Kilbrittain, Rathclarin, Burren, Rathdroutha, Dowagh, which were parts of the Deanery Kinelea Ultra with which Kinelmeky was originally identical. After that time there was no further encroachment on Kinelmeky by any MacCarthy Reagh, though the district west of Kinelmeky―that is to say, from Enniskean to the confines of Ivagha―was seized some time between 1260 and 1300.
After Donal Gott's raid of 1232, peace prevailed between his sept and that of the O'Mahons until 1259, when hostilities were renewed by Donal's son and successor, Fineen of Ringrone. An unfortunate incident furnished him with a pretext. Crom O'Donovan, chief of his name, in coming from or going to his own tribeland in West Cork, happened to pass by Innisbheil, now Phale, west of Ballineen, and there, becoming involved in a squabble with the O'Mahon's herdsmen, he was slain by them. (Dublin Annals of Innisfallen, under year A.D. 1254). Though the death of O'Donovan is not attributed by this record to the Chief of Kinelmeky (or any of the principal members of his clan), Fineen of Ringrone,3 ever eager for a fray, took the opportunity of attacking him, possibly at the request of O'Donovan's successor. The Bodleian Annalist of Innisfallen records that in the skirmish that ensued "Macraith O'Mahon and several other nobles (maite) were killed." Macraith was the eldest son of Dermod, who, as we have said, was the first chief of the western Sept. The (Dublin) Annalist says that Dermod himself was slain, and that this event occurred in 1254. But it is not credible that the original Annalist would fail to record the death of a chief, while recording the death of his son. We prefer, as in previous pages, to follow both as to the facts and the date, the contemporary Annalist rather than the compiler of A.D. 1765.
As Innisbheil or Phale is at a considerable distance beyond the boundary of Kinelmeky, it is probable that the district extending on to the west from Phale to Drimoleague had not ceased to belong to the Kineimeky Sept before the conflict above mentioned, nor perhaps for some time after. The statement that Gleannehroim,4 which nearly coincided with the parish of Fanlobbus, was before this time in the possession of Crom O'Donovan, rests on no authority but the unsupported assertion of John Collins, of Myross, in his Pedigree of the O'Donovans, a compilation abounding in errors, and completely discarded by Dr. O'Donovan in his account of that clan even in the more recent period of the 16th century. This particular assertion of Collins5 is discredited by his representing Crom O'Donovan as living in A.D. 1120, and possessing Gleannchroim before his tribe removed from the Co. Limerick. Dr. O'Brien's account (see ante, p. 78) is that the tribe passed over Mangerton'and entered West Cork, and obtained land from the tribes there by "the powerful assistance of the O'Mahonys," who certainly would not help them to obtain Gleannchroim, which was their own,6 being between the traditional boundaries "Cork and the Mizen Head." Collins was influenced by a mistaken derivation of the place-name Gleann Chroim. But, as Dr. Joyce observes, "the name Crom (genitive Chruim and Chroim) enters into the composition of numerous words." It would he strange if it did not, as Crom (Cruach) was the chief idol of Pagan Ireland. Thus we find Domnach Chroim, the name of a Sunday in summer coinciding with a Pagan festival, and Cluain Chruim in Westmeath, "the mead of Crom," &c., &c. Crom as an adjective also helps to form compounds, as Cruimgleann, a winding glen (Dinneen's Irish Dict.), from which word most probably Gleann chroim originated, the place of the adjective being reversed, as happened in the progress of the language in numerous instances as Dubh-abhainn and Abhain-dubh, Dubh gaill and Gaill-dubh, Ma'an Innis and Innis Ma'an.
East Muskerry ceased to belong to the Chief of Raithleann, descendant of Mahon, when De Cogan in about 1177 succeeded in seizing Dun Draighneain, the site of Castlemore, but West Muskerry, or a district of it comprising the parishes of Kilmichael, Kilmurry, and part of Moviddy, and containing sixty-three ploughlands, was retained for more than another century. The proof of this statement is that there were three divisions of the district, Clan Fineen, Clan Cnogher, and Ui Flon Lua, the two former being caned after the grandsons of Dermod Mor and his brother, and the third allocated to the great-grandson of the former. From the genealogical list, it is plain that these allocations must have been made after A.D. 1300, and they could not be made then, if the district had passed out of the possession of the Chief of Kinelmeky.
East Muskerry, on the death of De Cogan in 1182, passed into the possession of what was afterwards known as the Blarney branch of the Mac Carthys, but they were unable to annex the West Muskerry district until they brought down from Donegal a portion of thc Mac Sweeney galloglasses (between A.D. 1310 and 1320), who received for their services lands, on which they built the castles of Cloghdha and Mashanaglas.7 But the three families or minor septs, above mentioned, continued (as we shall show) as freeholders, subject to a small head rent, down to the confiscations of 1642.
Thus, at the end of the first quarter of the fourteenth century the authority of the Chief of Kinelmeky did not extend beyond the boundaries of the barony that at present bears that name. It is described in an Inquisition of A.D. 1586 as "twelve miles in length," and within it were the parishes of Templemartin, Kilbrogan, Kilowen, and parts of Ballymodan, Brinny, Murragh, and Desertserges. Its sixty-three ploughlands contained nearly thirty-six thousand acres, estimated as twenty-eight thousand, without measurement, at the time of the confiscation. From the fertility of the soil, it must have been capable of maintaining a larger population than some of the western tribelands that had nominally a much larger number of ploughlands. It was described by Lord Burleigh in 1578 as "a proper territory," and the very same words were used, with more minute details, giving evidence of its fertility, about ten years afterwards by Robert Payne,8 an agent of the undertakers, in a small book or pamphlet that he wrote about the confiscated territories. In a Government return, of 1659, of the "profitable" and "unprofitable" acres of the different baronies, the "unprofitable portion of this barony was set down as nil."9
From the time of the division into the Eastern and Western Septs, for over three centuries, Kinelmeky was a Celtic outpost. From the junction of the Brinny river with the Bandon, one might travel almost in a direct line to Mitchelstown and the Galtees, and look in vain for a single Irish tribe.
In the earlier portion of the thirteenth century the Norman invaders began to systematically build castles to secure their acquisitions and facilitate further aggression. It was the advice of Giraldus "to imitate the example of Turges and his Ostmen, and sow Ireland with castles so situated that their occupants could assist each other." In 1215 (O'Donovan's note, Annals of Four Masters) a large number of castles had been erected in Munster, especially on the southern coast. It must soon have become apparent to the Chief of Kinelmeky that a primitive fort such as Rath Rathleann, the headquarters of the chiefs, his ancestors, for so many centuries, would not afford protection in case of a Norman invasion of the territory, and that a stronghold of the new type should be provided without delay. Hence we may conclude that Castle Lac (Cairleann na Leacta) must have been built not very long after 1215. About a mile and a half south of Rath Rathleann a site was selected adjoining the small plain which has been shown (supra p. 18) to have been the battlefield on which the victory was gained over the Danes in 1089. Windele, who visited the place in 1856, writes:" To the west of the standing stones is the site of the castle which gives its present name to the place in conjunction with the Leachts. The ruins are low, and form almost a mound so as to present few features of the castellated structure. It was a solitary square tower, and from the dimensions it would seem to have been a 'peel house' (or 'peel tower'). It was erected in an ancient fort which has survived it in its moat and rampart."11 The old structure had been used as a quarry when a mill was built in its vicinity towards the end of the eighteenth century. Castle Mahon was more recent than Castle Lac, and was of a much better type; the exact date of its erection is not known, but it cannot have been later than A.D. 1400, as the necessity for a castle south of the Bandon River must have been felt in the troublous days of the preceding century.
We may readily believe that in that period of intense aggression on the part of the grantees of Henry the Second's Charter and of their representatives, the clan did not preserve its existence without much hard fighting. In 1359 the son of a chieftain, Tadhg, who from his place in the Genealogical Table must have flourished at that date, fell in battle, doubtless against some invader of the tribeland, according to the entry in the Annals of Loch Ce:―"Donal Mac Tadhg O'Mahouna occisus est."12
Barry Og, lord of Kinelea (separated from Kinelmeky by the river Mughin or Brinny river) had, or claimed to have, a piece of parchment giving him a title to Kinelmeky. The "title"13 was obtained from De Courcy as the representative of De Cogan, who was authorised by Henry II to rob, if he could, the native proprietors of "one moiety of the kingdom of Cork." In Smith's History of Cork mention is made of an Inquisition held after the death of William De Barry, among whose possessions, held from De Courcy, are set down Kinelmeky and Ifflanloe (Ui Flon Lua in West Muskerry). But neither in Kinelmeky nor in Ifflanloe was any of the line of Barry Og able to acquire a foothold. Indeed the Kinelmeky Sept cannot have found the Kinelea pretender a formidable opponent, as the Barry Og of 1578, who had the same resources as his predecessors, is described by Lord Burleigh as a "poor beggarly Captayne of the land between Cork and Kinsale, called Kynoley" (Kinelea).
In the year 1400, if not somewhat earlier, the Connacht bard O'Heerin14 composed his topographical poem descriptive of the numerous tribelands of Leath Mogha, as Leinster and Munster were then called. To obtain the information oral and written that he required for such an exhaustive description he must, of course, have made the circuit of the two provinces. As he died in 1420 (Annals F. M.) at an advanced age, as O'Reilly discovered, we may fairly fix on 1400 as about the latest year in which he would be physically capable of such a laborious peregrination. We are not to suppose that in this circuit he visited all tribe lands, for he describes some of them vaguely and some erroneously. But the minutely accurate description that he gave of Kinelmeky suggests that he wrote from actual observation :―
Cinel mBcé an Fuinn ealaig
Imon Bandain m-bám-readaig
Fear ar cathbadba ón Muarb Mir
O Matgamna an cuain chuipgil.
TRANSLATION (Dr. Donovan)
"Cinel mBece the land of cattle
Around the Bandon of fair woods
A most warlike man from the rapid Muaidh
Is O'Mahouna of the harbour of white foam."
The territory is here described as on "both sides" of the Bandon, "of fair woods"―an epithet anticipating Spenser's "crowned with many a wood"―and the river opens out not far beyond the eastern boundary into "the harbour of white foam." He does not omit to notice the small river Muaidh, since known by its diminutive form Muaidhin (pr. Muaghin, written by Smith Mughin), which is the eastern boundary of Kinelmeky. These are minute descriptive touches. He shows that he was aware that there was another Sept of the name in the west, about which he has also a quatrain.
In this connection it will be convenient to mention some place names in the tribeland that preserve the memory of some ancestors of the Sept. The principal place-name is, of course, Kinelmeky itself, the spelling of which, in Irish, is correctly given in O'Heerin's quatrain. [Cinel m-Béce] With reference to Smith's attempted derivation, which Bennett repeated, Dr. O'Donovan15 writes:―"Nothing can be more erroneous than Smith's derivation of the name in his History of Cork. It is taken altogether from the English spelling, and shows that he never saw the word in the original Irish. The genealogy of the O'Mahonys is traced up from Conn, son of Diarmuid Mor of Ivagha (1320) through twenty-four generations to Bec (or Bcce), in the seventh century." Cox thus alludes to two other well-known place names:―"From this Kean (Cian, father of Mahon) was called Enniskean, and from Droghid i Mahoun Bandon Bridge" (Regnum Corcagiense). Droghid Ui Mahouna, "O'Mahon's bridge," was also called by Irish speakers "An droighid," The Bridge, a name indicating the great rarity of bridges at the time it was built. Curravreeda, "the enclosure of the hostages," carries us back (as also does Lisbanree) to the ninth and tenth centuries; Gurteen O'Mahon is still the name of a townland, and another is called Gurteen Conogher Og in some title deeds of the seventeenth century.
The Lords of Kinsale might be supposed to be interested in Barry Og's pretensions, as they were his feudal superiors. Nevertheless between them and the Kinelmeky Chieftains no dissension appears to have arisen after the twelfth century, and about 1450 there was a connection by marriage. In Lodge's Peerage (Archdall's Edition) we find the following (s. v. Kingsale, Baron):―"Nicholas De Courcey, twelfth Baron of Kinsale, married Mor,16 daughter of O'Mahon, chief of his sept and descended from Corc, King of Munster." This O'Mahon was Donal (son of Dermod, and ninth in descent from Donogh Na Himerce O'M.), whom Duald Mac Firbis, in his Book of Munster, sets down as a contemporary of his western cousin, Donogh O'M., Chief of Ivagha. As Donogh's brother Conor succeeded in 1427, (the date of his father's death, Annals Four M.), and died in 1473 (Annals of Loch Ce), we can thus determine the time of Donal of Kinelmeky. In the above quotation from Lodge's Peerage we have substituted the true name, Mor, for Lodge's "Maurya," a female name not in use in the fifteenth century in Ireland. Dr. O'Donovan says:―"Mor was the name of many ladies in Elizabeth's time. In our own times it has been almost invariably Anglicised Mary, with which it is neither synonymous or cognate." (Preface to O'Dugan. and O'Heerin). The twelfth Lord Kinsale died in 1474, and the following obit is taken from the Liber Fratrum Minorum de Timolagge:―"Ob. Nich. De Courcey suae nationis caput, vir Praedarus." James, his son and successor, died in 1499, according to another obit of the same book. These extracts are found in Ware's Collection in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (classed Rawlinson 479).
In view of the long array of ancient records that have been set forth in the course of this History from the sixth century down to O'Heerin's circuit in A.D. 1400, showing that Kinelmeky, named after their ancestor, was the cradle and the home of the O'Mahony Sept, it is unnecessary to notice at all Bennett's statement in his History of Bandon (first Ed.) that the Sept "came originally from Carbery, and intruded, about the year 1460, on Kinelmeky, which then belonged to the English Crown, and gave half of it to Mac Carthy Reagh for his assistance." But it may be of interest to show what kind of history was manufactured about Irish tribes in the time of Elizabeth. That falsehood was doubtless suggested by the appellation "Carbery" or "of Carbery" attached to the name of the chief―an appellation misunderstood by those who were unacquainted with the peculiarities of Irish nomenclature, and unaware that Kinelmeky, on its western side, included a portion of the territory known from ancient times as "Carbery." When preparing for his second edition, Bennett had some perception of the absurdity of the statement he had so uncritically received, and sought to modify it into a less extravagant assertion, viz., that the Clan had been dislodged from Kinelmeky, their ancient patrimony, and returned to it 1460. But that is not the assertion of the authority that he followed, the Inquisition held in Cork in 1584, as quoted in Cox's History of Ireland, p. 383. The English colonists of Cork, who were the "Juratores" in that Inquisition, meant to say that "O'Mahown Carbry" began to occupy Kinelmeky for the first time in the above-mentioned year. Having put forward this unhistorical statement, they then proceeded to stultify themselves by deciding that, nevertheless, Conogher, the Chief who fell in the Desmond Insurrection, was owner of (not half but) the whole Barony of Kinelmeky, having somehow acquired a valid title to land that 120 years before was "the ancient inheritance of the Crown." They were as ignorant of English Law as of the history of the Irish tribe, or they would have known that their law recognised no "acquisitive prescription of land" that was known to have belonged to another even in the previous century.
Their "history" was adopted by none of their contemporaries. Two years afterwards it was completely ignored at the Youghal Inquisition (held regarding the same Chief and other participators in the insurrection), which simply decided that Conogher O'Mahony "died seized of the fee of the Barony of Kinelmeky." The decision was, of course, unjust to the members of the Clan, who held land by the same right as their Head, but it clearly implied that the Chief held by unbroken and immemorial possession. Four years afterwards, Bishop Lyon, in a letter which will presently be quoted at greater length, wrote that the Sept of the "O'Mahownies" were "ancient in Kirielmcky as Mac Carthy Reagh in Carbery." In the numerous State papers about Kinelmeky between 1584 and 1600, no notice at all is taken of the alleged "intrusion on Crown Land in 1460," though, if provable, it would summarily dispose of all the points raised against the confiscation and transfer to Beecher.17
The fact is that pages might be filled with the misstatements made about the past history of Irish tribes by English colonists in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Thus, the citizens of Cork, in a doleful letter written in 1449 to the Lord Deputy, inform him that "all the Irish of the South had been driven into the valley of Glennahought, between two great mountains, and there they lived many years as best they could with their white meats, until the English Lords fell at variance with one another," and then the Irish returned to their tribelands! Camden, followed by a writer of the Herald Office in 1600, asserted that it was "from Carew the O'Mahons received their land of Ivagha"―which has been proved to have been in possession of their ancestors four centuries before Carew's time. Spenser18 believed that the Mac Mahons and Mac Sweenys were descendants of Englishmen, Fitzurses and De Veres, who translated their names into Irish. Davies wrote that when the English "took possession of the Pale all the Irish were expelled―a statement that Hardiman easily disproves, the fact being that the Irish retook possession of much of the original "Pale." Davies also asserts that no Irish chiefs built castles until they renounced Tanistry and adopted the English tenure―that is, that they built none until the 16th century! Only a very uncritical writer would think of making use of such authorities as the foregoing at the present time, when "criticism of one's sources" is regarded as the first duty of a historian.
The successor of Donal was his son Dermod Spaineach, "The Spanish," so called in the genealogies, as having served in his youth in the Spanish army, for some time, during that eventful period of the war with the Moors. Dermod's successor was his son Finghin. Towards the close of the century the Annals of Loch Ce have an entry under the year 1492 of the death of Finghin―"Fing O Matgamna bég." This is, of course, the entry of a chieftain's death, and the date distinguishes him from the contemporary Finghin "of the Western Land," who, according to the same Annals and the Four Masters, lived until 1496.
In the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII "the country," says Mr. Gibson,19 "all but passed out of the hands of the English Monarch." There is no exaggeration in this statement. In the London State Paper Office there is a report of the state of Ireland compiled in the year 1515, which shows that the Pale had dwindled to portions of five counties, in which, moreover, the majority of the inhabitants were Irish. It proceeds to say that the greater part of Ireland was in the hands of the "Irish enemy," and divided into "sixty regions, some as large as shires, some more, some less, under a many captaynes, who obey no temporal "person but him who is strong"―which the English King was not, as Surrey, a Lord Lieutenant in 1520, informed him in plain language. The report commences with the "regions and captaynes of Mounster," and beginning with Mac Carthy More, it mentions "O'Mahunde of Fousheragh (Fonn lartharach, Ivagha), Chief Captayne of his nation," and "O'Mahund of Kynalmeke, Chief Captayne of his nation." "Nation" was but another name for sept; there was no Irish nation in the modern sense of the term. The writer of the report shows how incomplete was the knowledge that English officials had of the Southern tribes, for he omitted to make mention of O'Sullivan Mor, O'Donoghue of the Glens, O'Donovan, O'Keeffe, and Mac Auliffe. The name "Irish Enemy" used in the report, as in all previous Acts of the Parliament of the Pale, was an accurately descriptive term, but, not long afterwards, the officials of the English Crown began to substitute for it the appellation of "rebels and traitors." The use of those names involved the arrogant assumption that those of the Irish who (like the two Septs whose history is here given) did not welcome an extension of English rule, owed, somehow, allegiance to a foreign king, too weak to perform the fundamental duty of keeping order, and disposed, like his predecessors, to carry out, if he got strong enough, the wholesale spoliation projected by Henry II.
The English power had considerably increased in 1541, not so much through any military successes as through dissensions in Munster. In that year the Lord Deputy St. Leger was sent over with special instructions to get the Irish Chiefs and Anglo-Irish nobles to acknowledge Henry VIII as their "natural and liege lord" and as "supreme head of the Church in England and Ireland." In pursuance of his mission, St. Leger came to Cork, and his summons was obeyed by the three Barrys, five Irish Chiefs of the Co. Cork, and two of Kerry, who, if the Indenture given in Cox's History be authentic,20 subscribed their names to the Declaration required of them. The Chief of Kinelmeky did not attend, neither did Connor Fionn, the head of the kindred Sept of Ivagha, nor his neighbours O'Driscoll and O'Donovan.
In 1551, as a State Paper informs us, when the Earl of Desmond visited the new Lord Deputy Crofts in Dublin, he found that the latter had resolved to call before him the Earl's son and Maurice, the Earl's brother "for preys taken from the O'Mahons," i.e., from those of Kinelmeky, which was easily invaded from Kerricurrihy, a Desmond possession, whereas the Western O'Mahons were practically inaccessible. The Lord Deputy cared little about the interests of an Irish tribe which had shown no loyalty, but it was a matter of State policy not to allow attacks to be made without permission on the "Irish enemy," and an Act of Parliament had been passed to that effect. For over three centuries, but especially since 1487, the Earls of Desmond and their immediate relatives had been harassing and plundering the Irish of South Munster, not, however, with impunity, for they were often repulsed21 with great slaughter. Thomas Davis, in his splendid but unhistorical poem on "The Geraldines," has thrown a glamour over the whole line of ruthless marauders, on account of the part taken by James Fitzmaurice, Earl Garrd, and the "Sugán" Earl in the national movement in the time of Elizabeth.
In 1568 Sir Peter Carew came over from England to prosecute his claim to "one half of the Kingdom of Cork" as heir to Fitzstephen, one of the grantees of the Charter of Henry II. He produced a forged roll, which was received as evidence setting forth that "Fitzstephen's moiety contained Imokilly, Tyr Barry (Barry's country), Tyr Courcey (Courcey's country), Muskerry, Kinelmeky, Carbery, Ivagha, and the countries of O'Driscoll and O'Donovan," with some other districts in Kerry. "The corrupt Government of the day," says O'Donovan,22 "allowed the ludicrous claim―the claim of a collateral branch to be heirs of a bastard―in order to frighten the Earl of Desmond and the Irish chiefs." We hear nothing about the progress of his case until 1575. Cox, who carefully avoids stating whether there was any decision given in favour of Carew or not, relates that in 1575 "Sir Peter sent his agent, John Hooker, to Cork, where he had a solemn meeting with Mac Carthy Reagh, Cormac Mac Teig of Muskerry, Barry Og, O'Mahon, O'Driscoll, and others, and that they made this proposal to him, that they would advance three thousand kine with sheep, hogs and corn proportionable for the present; and that if Sir Peter would live among them they would pay a rent that would be reasonable; whereupon Hooker took a house for Sir Peter at Cork and another in Kinsale, but as Sir Peter was going that way he died in Wexford, Nov. 1575." Cox's account has been transcribed and adopted by Smith and Gibson in their County Histories. It may be that those chieftains resolved to submit to the inevitable. But it was certainly not credible that they displayed such abject servility as to stipulate that the man who came to carry out the long-deferred spoliation arranged by Henry II should do them the favour of living among them. We can now compare Cox's narration, derived apparently from hearsay, with that of a first hand authority, the agent Hooker himself, whose original MS. Has been published by Mr. MacLean in his Life of Sir P. Carew. Hooker, alias Vowell, says:―"And forthwith they all, the Lord Courcey, Lord Barry Oge, McArthy Riogh, the O'Mahons, McSweyne, O'Driscoll, O'Daly and sundry did conclude with this agent that they would submit their lands to Sir P. Carew and take same at a reasonable rent. And for that that was past they would give 3,000 kine, which they accounted to be one year's rent of the lands they did hold. The Earl of Desmond, the Lord Courcey, the Lord Roch, and Sir Cormac Mac Teig pretended great joy at Sir Peter's coming to live among them," but before any rent was paid Sir Peter died of a short and painful illness. But a serious objection may be raised against the agent's narrative. If there was such a compact as he mentions, it would have been duly reduced to writing, and could have been enforced by Sir George Carew, when he became his brother's heir on the death of his nephew at the skirmish of Glenmalure. He has never been considered to be so indifferent to his own interests as to be capable of renouncing such a vast income. If Lord Courcey took part in that compact with the agent, then the title deeds by which Cogan was said to have conveyed Courcey's Country and Kinelea to his ancestor are clearly proved to be mythical.
The O'Mahon at this date, and for some years previously, was Finghin (Fineen), son of Maolmuadh who appears to have succeeded his brother Cian by Tanist law. He was married to a sister of Mac Carthy Reagh. His name in the Latinized form, "Florentius O'Mahowney de O'MahooneCastle, gen. [erosus]," occurs in the "Inquisition held after the death of Sir Donogh Mac Car thy Reagh," written in the "Law Latin" of the time, in June, 1576. In 1575, when Sir Henry Sidney, the conciliatory Lord Deputy, took up his residence in Cork for six weeks, he was visited by the Southern Chiefs generally, even by those who had made no declaration of allegiance, and had no intention of renouncing their status and adopting the English tenure. He wrote an account of his visitors, by many of whom he was favourably impressed, and he was considering a plan for attaching to the English Crown, by a distribution of titles, "those of them not yet nobilitated." His letter may be seen, in extenso, in Gibson's History of Cork, vol. i, p. 226. After mentioning several of the Irish "who in respect of their lands might pass as Barons in England or Ireland," he continues :―”O’Kyffe and Mac Fynnen, and the sons and heirs of Mac Auly and O'Callaghan, the old men not being able to come by reason of age. O'Mahon and O'Driscoll,23 each of them, have land enough, with good order24 to live like a Baron here or there. Of those descended of the English race Sir James Fitzgerald, &c., &c." It appears that only one of the O’Mahons attended, and it is impossible to determine which of the two is referred to in the above extract. Certain it is that neither of them, as their subsequent history shows, was influenced by a desire of obtaining an English title. Two years afterwards O'Mahon of Carbery was engaged in some proceeding which brought him into collision with the English Government, but the nature of which is not set forth in the Calendar of State Papers. In the record of the Fiants" 1577, we find:―"Pardon to Owen McCarthy Reagh, of Kilbrittain; Donal Mac Carthy, of Kilgobbin; Florence O'Mahowne, called O'Mahown Carberie, and Dermot O'Mahowne, of same place." In the same year, Fiant No. 3,039 has the following:―"O'Mahowne Carberie is suitor for the pardon of twenty-five of his men."
This is the proper occasion for exposing two misstatements and misquotations of Mr. Bennett in his History of Bandon. "When Sir H. Sidney," he says, "visited Cork in 1575, one of those who visited him was O'Mahony, whom he represents as 'a man of small force, though a proper country.'" He found no such passage in Sir H. Sidney's letter. It occurs in a letter of Lord Burleigh's, in which also is found a depreciatory reference to Barry Og, quoted in a former page, and a querulous disparagement of several heads of Septs. But what would Burleigh call "a small force"? Mr. Bennett proceeds to make the description definite and precise:―"The chief of Castle-Mahon was not a powerful chief, for. . . . it is recorded that his forces were twenty-six horse and hundred and twenty kerne." Now this is a mere invention. There is no such record in the State Papers or histories of the time. Bennett had no hesitation about supplying the want. He saw in a report of Carew's that the Western O'Mahon had seventy-two horse and two hundred and twenty kerne, but that under that chief's immediate command there were "twentysix horse and one hundred and twenty kerne," the remainder being mustered by his cousin and subordinate, O'Mahon of Brin (Rossbrin). The "twenty-six horses and one hundred and twenty kerne" the historian transfers from the west and assigns to the Chief of Kinelmeky. This ingenious method of manufacturing history is hardly calculated to inspire his readers with confidence in his other statements and quotations. We will show in a subsequent page that the Clan, though weakened by its losses in the Desmond war, was able in 1601 to muster three hundred fighting men at about two hours' notice.
Fineen died in the beginning of 1579, leaving four sons, Conogher, his successor, and three others, to whom he bequeathed the three ploughlands which constituted the parish of Killowen.
Conogher O'Mahony succeeded to the chieftainship at the early age of twenty-three (as tradition tells) in the troubled and eventful year 1579. He was not, as the phrase ran, the "eldest and the best man of the blood," who usually succeeded almost as a matter of course, but he was eligible according to Tanist Law, and either his own personal qualities, or his deceased father's popularity in the Clan, secured his succession.
In 1579, after the death of Sir James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, the Earl of Desmond, after some vacillation, put himself at the head of the movement against Elizabeth, initiated and organised by his deceased kinsman. It has been called. the Desmond "Rebellion," but from the point of view of the Irish Chiefs who took part in it, it was simply a continuation or renewal of the warfare that had for centuries been waged between the foreign invaders and the "Irish enemy," to whom an additional stimulus had been supplied by the enforcement of the persecuting Statute of 1559. Some nobles and heads of Septs did not openly take up arms, but all, without exception,25 actively sympathised with the insurrection to an extent that was not known before the publication of Sir W. Pelham's letters. Kinelmeky had been ravaged by members of the House of Desmond, but past grievances were forgotten in the great crisis which had arrived. The young chieftain responded to the general call to arms, and led his clansmen to the rendezvous at Ballyhoura on the ninth of August, 1579.26 It is stated by Bennett that he fell in 1582, but further research is necessary to discover the time and place of his death, as also of the death of O'Donoghue Mor and some other leading men among the Irish. A State Paper refers to an "Inquisition taken at Cork in 1584 of the lands of Conogher O'Mahown, traitor, slain in rebellion." He was no traitor, at all events, to the cause of his own race and country.
[The writer desires to take this opportunity of acknowledging his indebtedness to Mr. Peirce G. Mahony, B.L., Cork Herald, for the help he has kindly given by sending copies of several Inquisitions and other manuscript records of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.]
On the death of Conogher27 in the Desmond war, his cousin-german, Donal, son of Cian, succeeded to the Chieftainship. In a State Paper, which shall be quoted later on, he is referred to as "the son of O'Mahown Carberie." Being the son of the Chieftain Finin's eldest brother (whose name is in the genealogy,28 while Finin's is not), Donal might have expected to succeed his uncle, in 1579, in the ordinary course of Tanist Law, but as we have seen, his junior cousin was chosen in preference to him. His father Cian must have been the "O'Mahown Carberie," who married the daughter of Conor Fionn, Chief of Ivagha, after the death of her first husband, O'Driscoll, father of Sir Finen,29 but it is possible that she was Cian's second wife, and that Donal was the son of a previous marriage. Donal O'Mahony is generally mentioned, in contemporary documents, with a sobriquet, spelled by English writers "Graney," which may have been derived from Grainne, possibly his mother's Christian name, but is probably, the English rendering of gránda, ill-favoured. If the latter be the explanation of the name, it affords an additional instance of the inveterate propensity of clansmen to bestow on their leaders unflattering epithets reflecting on their personal appearance, such as "the lame," "the bent," the bald," and many others that we meet so frequently in the Annals.30 As the Tanist, or presumed successor, of Conogher, Donal must, according to immemorial usage, have accompanied him to the Desmond war. He returned home the accepted Chieftain of a Sept that was confronted with the imminent danger of confiscation and extinction. An Inquisition held in Cork in 1584, and another held in Youghal in October, 1586, prepared the way for the confiscation of the whole tribeland, and in order to make such a confiscation accord with the forms of English law, the "Juratores" declared (on oath) that the late Chief "slain in rebellion was seized as of fee, of the country of Kinelmeky." This finding was not only untrue but notoriously untrue. Nothing was better known about the Irish land system than that the Sept-land was the common property of the Sept, and that the Chief's proprietory right31 was of a very limited character, and not at all comparable to English ownership in fee simple. But it would have been tedious, if not impossible, to investigate the cases of all the clansmen who were out in "rebellion," and so the "Juratores" got at them in globo by the summary process of declaring the Chieftain the owner in fee from whom all his followers held. One does not easily see the motive of putting this strain on the consciences of the members of the Youghal Inquisition, when Perrott's Parliament had six months previously voted the attainder of all, whether then living or slain, who participated in the recent war, to the number of one hundred and forty. A considerable number, however, of those who took part in the Insurrection were pardoned―a measure due rather to the policy or weakness than to the humanity of the Government. Amongst those were the White Knight, Patrick Condon, and several Fitzgeralds; the Lord Barry escaped confiscation with the imposition of a fine. The success of so many in obtaining a remission of the attainder, and of the forfeiture of their properties, encouraged Donal to hope for a similar remission. In a letter of Florence McCarthy's (Life of Florence," p. 106), it is stated that he went to England, to the Privy Council, "to sue for his lands of Kinelmeky." But he was doomed to disappointment; the Government would not readily forego the opportunity of extinguishing an Irish tribe, however indulgently they might treat Anglo-Irish rebels. He kept up the claim during 1587, as we learn from the document among the State Papers headed, “Land in Munster. allotted to undertakers, claimed by the Irish." In this document we find among other entries:―"Claimed by Mac Carthy Reagh and by one of the O'Mahownies of Kinelmeky, Kinelmeky the country of Conogher O'Mahony containing two seignories and a half."
Some observations must now be made on the novel claim of Owen McCarthy Reagh, mentioned in the foregoing document. No such pretensions had been put forward by any of his predecessors, or appear in their "Inquisitions." The Barry Oges, indeed, the lords of Kinelea, had been (as we have already seen) for centuries alleging a claim to Kinelmeky, as being Kinelea (Ultra)―a claim derived from the grantees of Henry II, authorised by that monarch to plunder Irish tribelands of the "Kingdom of Cork"―if they could. The Clan of the O'Mahons had ignored Barry Oge's parchment title, and successfully resisted his aggression. But if any Irish or Anglo-Irish Chief, especially a loyalist such as McCarthy Reagh, invaded Kinelmeky in order to acquire an over lordship, the Barry Oges would undoubtedly have made loud and reiterated complaints to the English Govcrnment32 about the aggression that would tend to deprive them of all chance of ever obtaining the coveted territory. There are no such complaints in the State Papers, because there was no such aggression. In 1562 they complained of the encroachments of the Earl of Desmond on Kinelea, others made similar complaints, and the Earl was forthwith obliged to give security that he would no longer molest the "Lord Great Barry, Little Barry (Barry Oge), Lord Roche, Mac Garthy Reagh, &c."
To maintain that a Clan which had lost its Chief in battle, either against native or English forces, thereby forfeited its right to choose his successor, and that its right to the soil lapsed to an extern Chieftain, who may have received its "Chiefries" or head rents, would be to make an assertion utterly at variance with Irish law, and repugnant to Irish sentiment. But the English Government was not indisposed to act on such a principle, in response to the petition of a loyalist, who could show that he had been the recognised "overlord" of a territory in such circumstances. Thus, the claim of Mac Carthy Mor to the lands of the patriot Chief, O'Donoghue Mor, slain in the "Rebellion," had been fully conceded in 1584. A like concession would have been made to Mac Carthy Reagh if he could show that he possessed over Kinelmeky33 an authority similar to that which Mac Garthy Mor indisputably had over the territory of Loch Lene. As a loyalist, he had a better record than even Mac Carthy Mor. Of the native chiefs "few indeed," writes Mr. Mac Carthy Glas, "stood by the Government in the Desmond struggle. . . . Cormac Mac Carthy of Muskerry and Donogh Mac Carthy Reagh brought the whole force of their countries to assist the Government in its hour of need. In the long and gloomy struggle these men were found faithful." (Life of Florence McCarthy, p. 9.) Owen Mac Carthy Reagh had continued the policy of his brother, and supplied the English troops with provisions during the war. Whatever sentiments might be entertained with regard to him by local "undertakers" and their friends, the heads of the Irish Government had no prejudice against such a devoted supporter. But he failed to present to them even the semblance of a case. His claim was that "the O'Mahons held from him, "because Kinelmeky "was parcell of Carbery," and he was "Lord of Carbery." We learn the contents of his first petition, presented in 1587, from the two questions proposed by Walsingham to Justice Jessua Smythe. Smythe's reply, too verbose to be quoted in extenso, is dated "Kinsale, April 14, 1588":―"And for Kinelmeky, whereof your honour would be informed, first, whether the barony or cantred be part of Carbery or distinct and several in itself. . . . I have conferred with sundry of the best knowledge and credit; and I find that Kinelmeky is, and hath been since Henry II, a barony by itself, never parcel of Carbery, but some time of the territories of Barry Oge, an English Sept, and called by the English, Kinelea Ultra. For the second question, as to whether the O'Mahowne of Kinemleky be tenant at will to the Carthys of Carbery, that is a matter never heard of before, but a feigned plea devised when these causes were at hearing, to delude the Commissioners. But the contrary is well known, that the O'Mahowne is as ancient in Kinelmeky as Mac Carthy Reagh in Carbery . . . . chosen by the like ceremony of Irish Captainry, by the country of Kinelmeky, according to the custom and right of the Sept, and never heard of to be either appointed or displaced by any Carthy."
One of those men "of good credit" with whom Smythe conferred was William Lyon, Protestant Bishop of Cork and Ross, whose letter he forwarded to Walsingham. Bishop Lyon writes as follows:―"Being of late requested by you to deliver my knowledge touching Kinelmeky, whether it be in Kinelea or Carbery, and whether the O'Mahownes have held it of the Carties . . . . My rolls of the Bishopric of Cork, which are accounted to be as authentic as they are ancient, plainly say that the Churches in Kinelmeky are in the Deanery of Kinelea Ultra, and for proof that it is in Kinelea Ultra the lord of Kinelea (Barry Oge), another deanery, doth make challenge to Kinelmeky as in Kinelea Ultra. And as to your other question, since my coming unto these parts I have often heard from persons of the best of credit that the O'Mahownes have never held of the Carties, but that they are ancient gentlemen of themselves and ancienter than the Mac Carties . . . . it was never heard otherwise in the country but that the O'Mahownes held by inheritance successively, so that the Carties could not displace them." He concludes by expressing his belief that "the O'Mahownes now living will not confess themselves to be tenants of Mac Carthy." (Letter to Jessua Smythe, April 5th, 1588.)
This testimony, with other evidence contained in documents which he calls "offices," were sent by Smythe to Walsingham, and were brought before "Lord Anderson and the other Commissioners then at Cork" in September, 1588, and decision was given against Mac Carthy Reagh's pretensions. It may be said that Smythe and Bishop Lyon were hostile witnesses, and desirous of seeing Kinelmeky occupied by an English colony. But the accuracy of Bishop Lyon's statement as to the superior antiquity of the Clan of The O'Mahons (proved in the first part of this history) shows that he consulted competent antiquaries, and creates a presumption that his other assertions are also the result of careful inquiry. When he and Jessua Smythe denied that the appointment of the O'Mahon was made by Mac Carthy, they knew they were making a statement which could be very easily refuted (to their great discredit) if it were not true. The late Chieftain, Conogher, was inaugurated in 1579.34 The inauguration of a Chieftain was a public and impressive event that was witnessed by thousands. Don Philip O'Sullivan Beare has given a graphic account of the details of the ceremonial. (Hist. Cath. Hiberniae, Lib. iii., Cap. iv.)
Owen Mac Carthy Reagh did not acquiesce in the decision given in Cork. He returned to the charge next year. His second petition was presented in August, 1589. It is preserved among the State Papers, and is a weak and confused document. In the commencement of it he quotes a sentence of Bishop Lyon's, without mentioning his name, and Justice Smythe's reference to the election of O'Mahon by Tanistry "as the Carties are in Carbery," and thus shows that he had read the case presented against him. Nevertheless he does not attempt to refute the express statement that he had nothing to do with the appointment, that is to say, the inauguration of the O'Mahon Chiefs. Neither does he state that he received an annual tribute, specifying the amount.35 In other words, he was unable to prove the two points that were essential for establishing the existence of an "overlordship." If he actually enjoyed the right which he claimed, those points could be proved by the testimony of witnesses then living. But he has no such testimony to produce. He is driven to the necessity of again repeating (from his former petition) that "Kinelmeky is parcell of Carbery," but he has nothing at all to say against the historical evidence which had been produced to show that the old tribe-name Kinelea comprehended Kinelmeky before the time of the formation of the Deaneries, Kinelea Ultra and Kinelea Citra, which took place early in the Norman period. He had to meet the allegation of Bishop Lyon that " theO'Mahons now living will not confess themselves to have been his tenants, "and he practically confirms the allegation by not contradicting it. But his main reliance is not on legal or historical proofs, but on the claim he had on the Government as a loyal subject, and he concludes his petition by dwelling on the extent of his services at a critical time. "It may please your honourable Lordships respecting your suppliant's loyalty, and regarding his good service during the Rebellion, not to give credit to those that covet this land, but to grant him a favourable despatch of his petition, so that he may not be driven to remain here at greater cost than he can maintain." He had advanced36 nothing new, and had not refuted the case made against his claim, and so "their Lordships" refused to alter the decision already arrived at. It is significant that Mr. McCarthy (Glas), who, from his extensive knowledge of the State Papers of the time, gives a very full account of Owen McCarthy Reagh's Chieftainship, and had occasion to quote a letter of Popham's, incidentally mentioning the rejection of the above petition, withholds the petition itself from publication, and carefully avoids saying one word in its defence.37 The ignoble and unwarrantable claim was calculated―at least in 1587-1588―to embarrass the real proprietors of Kinelmeky and interfere with their last chance of obtaining restitution of their land.
The Commission held in Cork not only rejected the claim above stated and discussed, but also re-affirmed the finding of the two Inquisitions―"that Conogher O'Mahony was seized was of fee of the country of Kinelmeky." On the attainder of Conogher, and on that alone, was based the English Queen's title to dispose of the territory to two undertakers, Phane Beecher and Hugh Worth. Soon after the conclusion of the legal investigations above mentioned, the patents were signed on September 30th, and possession was taken of the confiscated land. The undertakers did not anticipate the trouble that was in store for them. The expropriated Chief and his people did not tamely acquiesce in the arrangements made for their extinction. Donal commenced at once a guerilla warfare, which ended only with his death in 1894. Twelve months subsequently Richard Harrison, "Attorney unto Phane Beecher," writes a doleful account of the undertakers:―"And then presently after came on Daniel Graney O'Mahon, with divers other malefactors, entered into Castle O'Mahon and burned the said Castle, and thence did take and spoil the goods therein belonging to the said Phane Beecher and others, and so continued in the country. . whereupon those people that were ready to come from England, on hearing the report hereof, did stay from coming over then . . . . . there be six persons left by Mr. Beecher, besides those lately sent, at Castle Mahon . . . . those Irish tenants that be upon the said seignory are such as he found there dwelling, and to avoid further trouble thought good not to displace them. Phane Beecher will return next March (1590), The whole nation of O'Mahons is to be suspected, for they do pretend title (i.e., maintain) and are brothers and cousins of the traitor, Daniel Graney O'Mahon." (State Papers, Ireland, vol. 146, in London Record Office.)
The burning of Castle Mahon, that is to say of everything combustible found in it, alarmed the undertakers of South Munster. Valentine Brown wrote from Kerry to the Privy Council:―"Donal Graney has burned O'Mahowne's Castle." Sir Thomas Norreys wrote to Lord Deputy and Council, mentioning, with three38 other dangerous men, "O'Mahown Carbery's son, Donal Grainne, who doth greatly repine at the settling of undertakers in Kinelmeky, sometime his father's land." Unreasonable man Donal! David Barry, Lord Buttevant, wrote of Donal's "Rebellions in Kinelmeky," and insinuates that his (Lord Barry's) old enemy, Florence Mac Carthy, was a secret supporter of Donal's, and had made him a present of a sword as a token of sympathy. The bitterest of the letters of complaint was that of Justice Jessua Smythe (then residing in Kinsale) to Lord Burghley. It is curious to observe how he manages to conceal that the person whose action he reports was the Chief of Kinelmeky, and the occupier of the Castle from the beginning of 1583 to the attainder of his cousin in 1586. It is hard to conjecture his motive; could he have feared that Burghley might have some sympathy for the dispossessed proprietor? The penniless lawyer who had come over to Ireland to make a living in the midst of hardship and danger seeks to disparage as "a poor man now of mean estate" the long-descended head of an ancient Sept:―"One Donal Graney O'Mahown of late in England, of mean estate, but of great power to do hurt, went first out and stood on his keeping. When nothing was attempted against him, entered in and brake and burned a Castle called Castle O'Mahown in Kinelmeky forfeited to Her Majesty. There is daily adhering to him, providing of weapons (sic) to do all the murders they may. He walketh by night and often by day in Carbery at his pleasure. Nothing is done against him during the Governor's absence, but a faint pursuit by a few Carbery kerne men of his own feather. It is reported that a like company hath burned Dunbeacon Castle." The writer then goes on to recommend that vigorous action be taken against Donal, and that, for this purpose, "one Captain Bostock, who resideth at the boundary of Kinelmeky, be supplied with a sufficient number of kernes." The letter exhibits the weakness of the English Government, which could not provide English soldiers to protect the undertakers, but had to depend on hiring some stray "kernes," who, naturally, had not their hearts in the work for which they were engaged. This Captain Bostock, a few years after, was suspected of treasonable communications with Capt. Jacques dei Franceschi (so often mentioned in the State Papers), and Lord Burghley, acting on information received from his own spies in Munster, wrote to Carew (June, 1601) ordering him to seize and search Bostock's papers on any plausible pretext, or "rather than it be not done, quacunque via." Carew replied:―"Touching Bostock . . . I have searched his coffers and found nothing; the pretext I made was for certain commissions granted to him and others about the title of O'Mahon's lands, whereof he had a portion, which for her Majesty's special service was required." So it appears that Beecher and Worthe had to pay Bostock for protection by surrendering "to him some of the confiscated land aIlotted to them. They appear to have enjoyed a temporary respite during a part, at all events, of the year 1590, in which year Robert Payne, agent "of XXV undertakers," wrote his" Brief Account of the State of Ireland,"39 in which he says:―"There is one Mr. Phane Becher, who hath a great part of a proper country called Kinelmeky, about three miles from Timoleague and six from Kinsale. Through it runneth a goodly river called Bandon, wherein is a great store of fish of sundry kinds, salmon, trouts, &c. In "his country is (sic) great woods, the trees of wonderful height, showing the fertility of the soil." But Lord Barry of Buttevant's mention of Donal's "Rebellions" in Kinelmeky (letter to Burghley, 1593) implies that, after intervals of peace, inroads were again and again made on the new-comers. Thus, harassing and harassed, the despoiled Chief spent the remainder of his life. His clansmen were to a great extent saved from being displaced, for only a few English colonists ventured to come into such a dangerous territory.40
A peculiarly authenticated tradition states that an offer was made to Donal that he might retain half of his Septland, on agreeing to a pacific surrender of the remainder, and that he was asked the question: "Which side of the Bandon River would you prefer?" The refusal of the uncompromising Donal was expressed in an old proverbial saying, used when one declined to make a choice between two good things, but preferred to have both. The memory of the incident was preserved by the habitual association of his name, henceforward, with that proverbial saying, in Carbery and Muskerry, as long as the Irish language continued in ordinary use:―”It is better have both," as O'Mahouna said to the foreigner." In one of the State Papers of 1587, p. 385, we find what should, in all probability, be regarded as a confirmation of this account. Under the heading of "Land allotted to undertakers in Munster, claimed by the Irish" is mentioned "Kinelmeky claimed by one of the O'Mahons" (Donal as we have already seen). Next follows an imperfect sentence:―"An offer was made. . . “(then a blank). It is pretty safe to conclude that the “offer made," but for some private or political reason not fully stated, was the same offer above mentioned which tradition has preserved.
About the end of 1593, or the beginning of 1594, death brought to a close the troubled career of Donal Grainne O'Mahony, who may be regarded in some respects as an Irish prototype of Scott's idealised "Master of Ravenswood." In 1594, a letter of Lord Barry of Buttevant refers to "Donal Grainne lately in action." The word "killed" is, in all probability, omitted after "lately." Less disputable evidence of his death is afforded by the mention made of his successor in 1594.
The Chieftainship of the doomed Clan reverted to the family of' Finin, and his son, Dermod (a younger brother of the slain Conogher) was appointed to succeed DonaI.41 We have seen in a previous page a reference in the Fints to Finin "called O'Mahowne Carberie, of Castle O'Mahowne, and Dermod O'Mahowne of the same place." The year 1594 was remarkable for the number of suits brought before the Dublin Privy Council for the restitution of lands usurped or sequestrated. A State Paper has the following heading:―"Docquet of Irish suitors, Ormonde, Dunsany, D. O'Connor Sligo, Dermod O'Mahowne, alias O'Mahowne Carberie," and a number of others. By the example of many, known to be seeking for restoration of lands, Dermod was induced to desist, for a time, from his predecessor's policy of despair, and to raise once again before the Dublin Privy Council an objection to the assumption on which was based the confiscation of Kinelmeky―the assumption that the deceased Conogher held in fee simple the whole barony, that all its other occupiers held from him, and that all were involved in his forfeiture. In 1595 Florence McCarthy Reagh, who had a long experience of litigation about lands, offered to act as agent for the Chief of Kinelmeky, who was his cousingerman. Florence was himself interested, as Tanist of Carbery, in obtaining a recognition of the fact that Irish Customary Law did not invest a Chief with the proprietary rights of a feudal owner. If Donal McCarthy Reagh had a feudal tenure of Carbery, it was all over with Florence's chance of becoming his successor. In the very year and month (April, 1595) in which he commenced to act for Dermod O'Mahon, he had argued in a letter to Burghley that to treat Donal (na Pypy) McC. Reagh as having been heir to his country, in the English sense, "because the eldest brother's heir" would "mean to disinherit a whole Sept, being a thing that was never done in Ireland hitherto," and he points out that "Law doth allow custom as well in England as in Ireland," having perhaps specially before his mind the "Custom of Kent" and "Borough English." Florence considered himself entitled to say that no Sept had been disinherited through the recognition of a feudal title in its Chief, because the case of Kinelmeky was then "sub judice." In April, 1595, the members of the Privy Council, affecting to have received information which was new to them, to the effect that Conogher O'Mahon was not seized as of fee of the castle and lands, &c., ordered, or (shall we say?) went through the form of ordering, that a new Inquisition be held on the subject. Had the order been carried out, and those interested allowed to attend the Inquisition (the Inquisitions of 1584 and 1586 had been held behind their backs), overwhelming evidence could have been given, by representative men of every Munster Sept, that the tenure of a Chieftain had been utterly misrepresented. But no action was taken on the letter of the Privy Council within the following twelve months, doubtless with their connivance, and in 1596 the Council wrote again42 to countermand their order. It was alleged, they say, by the undertakers that "a new inquiry may prove injurious to Her Majesty." This was all the undertakers had to say against the case presented, but their extra-legal point appears to have struck the Privy Council "all of a heap." The Council knew right well what a real Inquisition would establish. At the end of the fourth century of English occupation they could not be ignorant of anything so notorious as the nature of a Chieftain's tenure. The right to other people's lands alleged to have "lapsed to Her Majesty" was in jeopardy. So they turn for counsel to the two English Chief Justices, and these worthies oblige them by giving the courtly opinion that a "decision already given for the Queen ought not to be disturbed by a new Inquisition, and that the claimant could proceed by petition." This advice to the claimant to petition against the undertakers' patents was, of course, a mere mockery.
One might narrate without comment the seizure and confiscation, by undisguised physical force, of a tribeland whose leading men had, in defence of civil and religious liberty, joined in the late war against England. But the pretence of proceeding to confiscation under the forms of ordinary law―by the application of a law manifestly inapplicable to the case in question―must be characterised as a contemptible and hypocritical proceeding, to which such a judicial decision as the above was a suitable conclusion.
Dermod, after this experience of English law, reverted to the tactics of his predecessor. Naturally enough, perhaps, under the circumstances―for even Sir W. Herbert, a few years previously, had expressed his surprise that Munster was not more disturbed in consequence of the planting of the undertakers. Among the State Papers bearing the date 1599 is a fragment of a MS. History of the preceding years, in which we read:―”Mac Donogh, rebel in Duhallow, Dermod O'Mahon, rebel in Carbery."
In the eventful year 1598 "ill news from Ireland" continued to pour in on Cecil without intermission, the worst being Ormonde's declaration―”There are no means to withstand O'Neill." Cecil, in promising aid which he was not in a condition to send immediately, suggests to foment divisions, to promise assistance to the weaker of two competitors for a Chieftainship, and to placate with promises certain chiefs for whose lands "undertakers were clamouring."
The Munster Irish watched eagerly the progress of the Northern Chieftains, culminating in the great victory of Bealnathabuidhe, called by the English "The Jorney of the Blackwater;" in a private State document43 of that year it is very candidly termed the "Defeat and Runaway." O'Neill, after his victory, wrote to some of the Southern Chieftains to stimulate them to action. One of these letters was addressed to the Chieftain of Kinelmeky, as was discovered by Chief Justice Saxby, who writes as fo11ows to the Privy Council:―”The Chief Rebels of Munster were solicited by Tyrone. To make them forward, he assured to James Fitzthomas the earldom of Desmond, to Donald, base son of McCarthy More, the earldom of Clancarthy [recte ‘The title of McCarthy More'], to Dermod O'Mahon and the rest of his Sept the lands of Kinelmeky." In the Calendar of State Papers “David" occurs instead of “Dermod"―an obvious misprint. Of course, O'Neill must have written to some others, but these were all that were known to Saxby.
In the first week in October a strong force sent by O'Neill entered Munster, and "forthwith," says Camden, "all Munster revolted, not so much through the successes of the Rebels as through hatred of the undertakers." On the 12th of the same month, Ormonde writes to Elizabeth:―"At my coming into Munster, October 6th, I found that all the undertakers, three or four only accepted, had most shamefully forsaken all their castells and dwelling places, before any rebel came in sight, and left their caslells with their municions, stuff and cattel to the traytors." Among the castles thus hastily abandoned, "Castle Mahon, of Mr. Phane Becher," is expressly mentioned by Henry Smith in his Report of the State of Munster, written in Oct. 30th, 1598. Becher's partner, Hugh Worth, "having contracted a dangerous disease," had some time before returned to England. And so, on the second week in October, Dermod O'Mahon regained possession of his ancestral Castle. While the Castle belonged to its original owners there is reason to believe that there was attached to it a residence more convenient to live in, according to a practice which was becoming usual in the 16th century, as we shall see later on. This is obviously suggested by the language in which Cox refers to it in his Regnum Corcagiense,44 written before the date (1715) of a more modern residence. Cox writes:―"Castle Mahon, the mansion house of O’Mahon, the proprietor of this country, is at this day (1687) one of the finest inland seats in the county." The name Castle Mahon (or Castle Mahoone) continued to be used for a long period after the confiscation in legal and official documents. As long as the Irish language was in general use, that is to say until some forty years ago, Caisleán Ui Matgamna was the only name by which it was known to Irish speakers.
All went well with the restored Chieftain until [Tuesday] March 16th of the following year, 1599, when a great disaster befell him and his people. Sir Thomas Norreys, the "Lord President of Munster" (Carew's predecessor), wrote to the Privy Council on March 26th: "Since my last letter in Ross, I continued in this country until March 16th, but could find no confirmation of the arrival of the Spaniards. I returned home by Kinelmeky, where the O'Mahons dwell, and burned their corn and spoiled the country." The more usual English method of destroying young cornfields45 was by a "pracas," a specially made kind of harrow, or when the corn was at a more advanced stage of growth, by cutting it with sickles and swords. Even this devastation wrung no promise loyalty from the much-enduring Clan, though a repetition of these tactics by Carew next year broke the spirits (and no wonder) of their more powerful kinsmen of Ivagha, who then, says the Pacata Hibernia, "came into protection and remained good subjects until the Spanish came." No doubt Carew's systematic operations (see Pacat. Hib., Bk. I, p. 138) inflicted more widespread damage in the west than the passing raid of Norreys did in his march through the eastern tribeland. The above letter was the last that Norreys wrote describing his soldierly exploits. He was killed soon after in some skirmish.
Dermod O'Mahon died some time towards the close of this year, and was succeeded by his brother, Maolmuadh, who was the last of his line. His name is anglicised Moelmoe in the Pacata Hibernia and the State Papers of the time, and by that name, therefore, it will be more convenient to call him in this narrative.46 When a very young man he had been "out" in the Desmond Insurrection under his brother Conogher, as appears from the statement of Carew, which shall be quoted presently.
In January, 1600, O'Neill announced that he was going to the South "to learn the intentions of the gentlemen of Munster regarding the great question of the nation's liberty and religion." Religious liberty he could not find in Munster wherever the Government had the power to enforce the Statute of 1559, subjecting to imprisonment for life (on a third conviction) all clergymen who would refuse to use the Book of Common Prayer, and adopted any other form of worship, openly or privately, regarding the celebration of the Lord's Supper," and inflicting a like penalty "on all laymen who may attend such form of worship." (Lib. Statut., p. 201.) When O'Neill fixed his camp at Inniscarra on March 6th, Moelmoe was one of the Munster Chiefs who attended his levee, along with the Chieftain of Ivagha; the Annals F. M., in their enumeration, mention in the plural "the O'Mahonys." "Those," says Carew, "whom Tyrone found obstinate in Rebellion he encouraged; from those who he held doubtful he took pledges." From the two chiefs mentioned he required to take no pledges. Moelmoe's visit to O'Neill's camp was not forgotten by Carew. Nine months, however―a rather long time―elapsed before any hostile action was taken against him, but in November a swoop was made on his territory:―"Sir Richard Percy drew his company forth of Kinsale into Kinelmeky, and there took a pray of two hundred cows and got the killing of some rebels." (Pacata Hibernia, p. 178.) After this mishap arrangements were made to watch the movements of the Kinsale garrison, and when the next raid was attempted in December the English soldiers, when they crossed the boundary of Kinelmeky (perhaps in the vicinity of Dundaniel), found themselves in presence of three hundred armed clansmen. Dermod Moyle (Maol) McCarthy, then a fugitive in Kinelmeky from the vengeance of Carew, who justly regarded him as "one of the most dangerous men" in Munster, joined his cousin in resisting the attacking party. No Irish account of the skirmish has come down. The account in the Pacata Hibernia in all probability minimises the number of soldiers sent on such a dangerous expedition, and attempts to disguise a defeat:―"The 21st of this month of December Sir Richard Percy sent sixty of his garrison at Kinsale into Kinelmeky, O'Mahon's countrie, to get the prey of the same, whereunto he was encouraged by one who promised to guide them, so they should not misse of all the cowes in the same; Dermod Moyle Mac Cartie, Florence his brother, and Moylmo O'Mahon, the Chiefe of his Sept, having some intelligence of their coming, with three hundred foote and some horse, assailed them, not doubting but to have cut all their throats; for the space of two hours a good skirmish was maintained; but the Rebels not finding the Defendants to be Chikins, to be afraid at the sight of every cloud or kite, with some losse (of slain and hurt men) soberly retreated; of the garrison of Kinsale onely two private men were hurt, yet they returned ill pleased for that they missed of the booty expected." Reading between the lines, this means that the attacking party was beaten off. No other raid was attempted on Kinelmeky by the Kinsale garrison. Even if we suppose that the above account exaggerates considerably the number that opposed the raiders, and that the number was two hundred, not three hundred, it should be remembered that with such short notice it would be impossible to muster even half the clansmen of a territory about twelve miles square. If besides we take into account the losses sustained in the Desmond war, and the liminution of the population consequent on the confiscation, we cannot put the fighting strength of the clan, in the year 1579, at less than five hundred men. The misrepresentation in Bennett's History of Bandon has been already exposed.
The next recorded event in the life of Moelmoe took place in July 20th, 1601. The "Spanish Succour" was the subject uppermost in the mind of all. The policy of Carew was to discourage the Spanish Government from sending the expedition by seizing on those Chiefs whose cooperation with the invading force would be most necessary, and could be relied on. He had, seized James Fitzthomas and Florence McCarthy, and sent them to the Tower of London. He then resolved "to lay hold' of all such persons as had been most pernitious in the former warres, and likely to prove most dangerous in after times; these were principally four, Dermod Mac Owen Cartie, alias Mac Donogh, that was a partaker in the petition to the Pope's sanctitie; another Teg Mac Dermod Cartie, brother to Cormuc Lord of Muskerry; the third, Moilmo O'Mahon, Chiefe of the Sept of the O'Mahons in Kinelmeky; and the fourth and last was Dermod Moil Mac Cartie, brother to Florence Mac Cartie." (Pacata Hibernia, p. 314.) The plan that he adopted to get them in his power reveals the weakness of the Government at the time. He could not send a force into their tribelands to arrest them. The device he adopts, he tells us, was "to invite all the freeholders of the country to the Assizes in Cork," and to arrest those Chiefs as soon as they came. This is not a "plain untarnisned tale." Those who had lately been fighting against the Royal troops, and who were constantly described as rebels, would not think that the general invitation was meant for them, nor would they trust themselves to Carew on the strength of it. It is plain that he must have sent special messengers or letters to convey to them the impression that the past was now forgotten, and that they would be no longer treated as enemies. By this fraudulent plan he lured Moelmoe, McDonogh, and Teig McCormack to Cork, and imprisoned them forthwith. The cautious Dermod Maol McCarthy waited to see "how his friends sped, and then conveyed himself to the North among his fellow-rebels."47 (Pac. Hibern. p, 314.) Moelmoe and his two associates did not regain their liberty until the middle of the year 1603. The fate of these three intrepid men has been a peculiarly hard one. They were seized and imprisoned by Carew, as, in his judgment, the most ardent and dangerous opponents of English rule. But in after ages injustice has been done to their memories by the assertion so often repeated in popular histories and popular lectures, that no Munster Chiefs would lend a helping hand to the Spanish Expedition and to O'Neill, except O'Sullivan Beare and O'Driscoll―two men of "untainted loyalty," whom Carew implicitly trusted, and did not mean to imprison, and who had refused to came to meet O'Neill at Inniscarra in 1600. O'Sullivan was embarrassed by the consideration of the help the English had given him against a competitor for the Chieftainship, until he began to realise that the help was given not for his sake, but for the purpose of dividing the tribeland.
The Northern Chieftains on the march to Kinsale selected Kinelmeky as their camping ground and as the rendezvous of their Munster adherents. So Don Philip O'Sullivan Beare expressly states ("in ea Carberiae parte quae Kinelmeka appelatur"), and his statement is confirmed by a letter from Carew to Mountjoy, stating that O’Donnell marched from Macroom into O'Mahon's Country;" he omits to say that the march was not direct, Kinelmeky was the only friendly territory on the way to Kinsale; McCarthy, the Lord of the Country of Muskerry, had already sent on a thousand men to oppose the Spaniards. (Pacata Hib., p. 362.) Thence the Irish army marched to their next encampment at Coolcarran wood, near Kinsale, and, doubtless included a considerable contingent from the now leaderless clan of the imprisoned Moelmoe.48 The battle of Kinsale belongs to the general history of Ireland. But it is hard to refrain from some comment on the unhistorical statement often repeated in recent times, that "the English army defeated the Irish at Kinsale." More than half the so-called English Army consisted of Irish clansmen, whose chiefs had decided to support the English Government. It is an indisputable fact that whenever the English troops since 1590 (without any or with few Irish auxiliaries) met an equal number of Irish, the English were defeated and made what their own historians, Climden, Dymock, Harrington, &c., describe as cowardly retreats.49
In April, 1602, three months after the battle of Kinsale, Carew, in his march from Cork to besiege Dunboy, made a long detour towards the South to avoid passing through Kinelmeky, still occupied by the hostile tribe, whose spirit was not quite broken by the disaster at Kinsale. The reason assigned by Smith (History of Cork) for this circuitous march is that Kinelmeky was impassable owing to natural obstacles. But such a description of that territory has been already shown to be unfounded. Smith's conjecture is not confirmed, but rather virtually contradicted, by the author of the Pacata Hibernia, who had no hesitation in describing a portion of Carew's route in West Cork as almost impassable.
About a year after the battle of Kinsale the people of Carbery formed, a combination to resist the depredations and cruelties of Carew's officers. An account of the skirmish which ensued may be seen in Macgeoghegan's History of Ireland, translated and condensed from O'Sullivan Beare's account.50 In the contest Moelmoe's younger brother, Teig O'Mahon (whom O'Sullivan calls Thaddaeus) distinguished himself. "He had the glory," says Macgeoghegan, "of beginning the action and repulsed those who were opposed to him." Then follows an account of the bravery and death of Owen Mac Egan, Bishop-Elect of Ross, whose loss disheartened the Irish and caused them to retreat and disperse. The sons of Sir Owen McCarthy, who took a leading part in getting up this insurrection, were pardoned through Captain Taaffe's influence. O'Sullivan Beare says that Teig O'Mahon, taken during a truce, was beheaded. According to local tradition, the scene of this remarkable skirmish was Grillagh, south of the Bandon river and west of Ballineen.
The Insurrection was now quite extinct, and the three "dangerous men" in Cork prison were dangerous no longer. Carew, however, detained them for nearly five months after the skirmish of Grillagh. They yielded to the inevitable, accepted his conditions, and their prison doors were at length thrown open.
Moelmoe was liberated on June 9th, 1603 (as a State Paper informs us), Mac Carthy Reagh Mac Carthy of Blarney and three others becoming securities "that Moelmoe O'Mahon alias O'Mahown de Kinelmeka will be of dutiful behaviour, and that his son and heir remain in the custody of the gentleman porter as a pledge for the loyalty of his father."
The "undertakers" now returned to his land, and the clansmen were soon displaced.51 But he seems to have been allowed to occupy for life his own lands of Killowen, for in a State Paper of 1612, five hundred trees are said to be marked for Government service" in the land of Moelmoe O'Mahon of Killowen."
The date of his death may possibly be ascertained by further research through State Papers. When he was laid to rest in the tomb of his ancestors in Timoleague Abbey,52 with him ended, not unworthily, a long line of Chieftains which had lasted one thousand one hundred years.
The son of Moelmoe was liberated towards the close of the year 1603 (State Paper), but nothing is known of his subsequent career. Probably he entered the Spanish service, as did a good many of his kinsmen of Ivagha, according to the Pacata Hibernia and some State Papers. In a genealogical MS. in the R. I. Academy, classed 23, G I, compiled about 1650 (as appears from internal evidence), Mahon, nephew of the Chieftain, Donal Grainne, is set down as the nominal Head of a Sept, which, as such, had ceased to exist.
1. The Rath lay to the east of
Kilbrennan Abbey, which, according to old records seen by Colgan and Usher, was
in Musgry Mitine. This may also be inferred from the Irish Life of St. Finbar.
2. To what is there said it may be added that Dr. O'Donovan adopted the opinion (vol. ii. Four Masters, p. 934) that "The O'Donovans were finally expulsed from Hy Fidhgente in Co. Limerick in 1229." O'Mahon had the name Carbreach in 1220, and Donal Gott assumed it in 1232.
3. Mr. Mac Carthy (Glas), in his "Mac Carthys of Glennachroim," says that Fineen was influenced by the circumstance that Crom was his foster brother. This is a baseless conjecture. Dr. O'Donovan, who put together every ancient reference to Crom, says nothing about this; neither does any Annalist.
4. The name Gleannchroim does not occur in any Irish MS. We have adopted the spelling given by Florence Mac Carthy Reagh in his letters. The name Cluaincruim is erroneously translated by Dr. Joyce.
5. Collins lacked "the historic sense," and was more at home in poetry. His splendid poem on Timoleague Abbey made an impression on Clarence Mangan and Sir S. Ferguson, both of whom gave an English translation of it.
6. Windele has the following statement, which is a traditional account, not in any of the hitherto known records, and not free from anachronisms, but which may have some foundation in fact:―"An O'Mahony (whom he calls Cian) endowed his daughter, the wife of O'Coghlan, with one hundred plough lands in Fanlobbus; O'Coghlan gave these ploughlands (recte thirty-two) to Diarmuid O'Crowley, whose three sons were O'Crowley Buidhe, O'Crowley Bacach, and O'Crowley Reagh.'" Windele MSS., R. I. Acad.
7. This is the received opinion, but in the "Munster Annals" above quoted there is an entry under 1237: "Cormac Fionn, son of Donal Mor na Curra Mac Carthy, died in his Castle of Mashanaglas." It may have been afterwards rebuilt. This entry shows the early date at which the Irish chiefs bad begun to build castles, after the Norman invasion.
8. The full title is "A brief description of Ireland to XXV of his partners for whom he is undertaker, by Robert Payne, A.D. 1590," edited by Dr. Aquila Smith, and published in vol. ii. of "Tracts relating to Ireland." He complains of the dishonest conduct of the English "undertakers" to those whom they enticed over from England to occupy the confiscated estates. He says that owing to the fruitfulness of the soil of Kinelmeky, Beecher got more tenants than any two in Munster.
9. Boyle (Earl of Cork) describes all the district near Bandon as "a mere waste of wood and bog serving as a retreat for wood kerns, rebels, thieves, and wolves." Cox has transcribed and adopted this account, so totally at variance with the above quoted authorities. Much change could not have been effected between 1619 and 1659. It was a favourite trick of the unveracious Boyle to represent the lands be acquired as worthless. See In Gibson's "Hist. of Cork" (vol. ii., pp. 31 and 37) his attempt to persuade Sir Walter Raleigh's son that the lands of his father (Sir Walter), which Boyle had contrived to acquire for a trifle, were all "utterly waste and yielded him no profit."
10. Castles were built in Ireland long before the Normans came. An O'Connor of Connacht was called "Tadhg of the three towers" in 954, and his grandson, "Tadhg of the Tower" in 1009. In 1124 three castles were built (Annals Four M.), and besides there was "Hags Castle" in Lough Mask, which still exists. The original Norman castles or "Peel Towers," with an entrance door to the first floor, were places of refuge not much differing, for that purpose, from the Round Towers of Ireland.
11. Windele on the same occasion visited Rath Rathleann, without being able to identify it as Cian's Fort, but he inferred from its great size that it was a Riogh Rath or Royal Rath. He did not happen to meet local shanachies who could tell him the traditions about the Rath and Castle Lac.
12. The Annals Four Masters have two entries―one that Donal "died," the other that he "was killed." The latter is confirmed by the Annals of Loch Ce.
13. See "Records of the Barrys" by Rev. E. Barry, who shows that De Courcey claimed a head rent from Barry Og as his feudal superior. In an Inquisition dated 1373, Milo De Courcey is set down as the owner of Kinelea, held by Philip Fitzwilliam Barry, The Barry Og. (Rotulorum patent, et claus, Cal., Dublin, 1828.)
14. Topographical Poems of O'Dugan and O'Heerin, Ed., J. O'Donovan, LL.D., 1862.
15. In a letter to Dr. Aquila Smith (Editor of Payne's work, above quoted), who had asked for information as to the derivation of the place name.
16. The name "Mor" is contained in the Kinelmeky place-name Curravordy, "the house of dark Mor."