A GENEALOGICAL MEMOIR
FORMERLY KINGS OF UI-FIDUGEINTE
by One of ‘em
Si pietas lauminmn, vel si jus sanguinis ullum
Post obitum exanimes commeorare monare jubet.
Est mihi concessum fatum celebrate parentum.
Nee fratrum interitum praeterire datum.
Phh. O’Sullevan Beare—1901
Printed and Published
C. L. Nono & Son, Printers and Stationers
Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland
"The glory of children are their fathers" (prov. xvii. O); and the more renowned the latter for high descent and great achievements, the greater the glory redounding to their posterity. When, therefore, a family, such as that which is the subject of the present memoir, can show an authentic lineage from the protoparent of man downwards, through an eminent line of kings and local chiefs, it may reasonably claim a share in the glory of its ancestry, and in this alone is found sufficient apology for the present brochure.
But other and weighty reasons urge me to write it. The fourth commandment forbids the names of the great departed falling into oblivion among their own progeny. St. Paul’s text (Rom. xiii., 7) "honour to whom honour" forbids it, even though ancient titles and the wealth and power that accompanied them be gone for ever.
Justice, too, not only to the dead, but also to the living, demands a full and faithful record of an illustrious race that for centuries held sway in Munster as Kings of Ui-Fidhgeinte, and counted, moreover, among their progenitors many kings of Ireland, of Spain, of Getulia and of Seythia. Besides, such a record frustrates the attempts of outsiders to foist themselves into the genealogies of a nation’s great families, no matter what their present state of decadence, are an integral part of its history, and often serve to throw light on its traditions, laws and customs. They are also powerful incentives to virtue in the sense of Sallust (Bell, Jugurth): Imagines majorum as virtutem accendunt, and deterrents form vice in that of Baratariana (page 8).
"My grandfather, for I had one, used to give me this advice in my youth—"In every walk of life beware of the dunghill."
The constant, though unostentatious tradition of our family, who never quitted the neighborhood of the old inheritance, through all their vicissitudes has been, that they were the direct and senior line of the ancient O’DONOVANS of Kerry or Ui-Fidhgeiate—for in later times these two names were applied indifferently to a great portion of the same territory as shall be shown hereafter.
No wonder, then, that seeing "Our inheritance is turned to aliens, our houses to strangers" (Lament. Jerem. e. 5): and reading certain genealogies and notes to Irish works edited and translated by John O’Donovan, L.L.D., I should feel indignant at that writer’s assumptions in favor of Corea Laidha or Carbery O’Donnamhains, who are not Milesians at all, but of the race Ith, paternal uncle of Milesius. I give one of his notes in full (Mircell. Celtic Society, page 54), as an instance of the farrago he tries to palm off for history. He says: "O’Donnamhain, now O’Donovan and Donovan, O’Dondubhain in MacFirbisgh’s copy. This was a different family from O’Donnabhain of Ui-Cairbre Aebhdha in the now County of Limerick, and afterwards of Clan-Catnail in the County of Cork. Both families are no doubt, still extant in Corea Laidhe, but they cannot now be distinguished (and yet he does distinguish them!). The O’Donovans of Mountpellier, O’Donovan’s Cove, Ardahill and Lisheens, and Squince, as well as the O’Donovans of Ballymore, in the County of Wexford (these are his own branch), are of the Ui-Cairbre Aebhdha; but there are various poor families of the name in the County of Cork who are unquestionably of the Corea Laidhe." What shameful pleading for a "Barrister-at-law," and what shameful snobbery too!
Ith, from whom his author says the O’Donnomhaim above descends, is ancestor good enough for the poor families of the name in Corea Laidhe ; but the richer, his own among them, must be Milesians !
One Irish writer mentions a great rout of the Eugenians by the Daleassians into the wilds of South Cork and Kerry, and from this the Dr. naively infers that they were driven thither, bag and baggage, and never returned, though he admits expressly that it cannot be proved they did not return! This, he says, had occurred before the year 1201, but ancient historians knew nothing of this hegird. Besides, it is certain from the Earl of Kildare’s statement (Earls of Kildare, page 11), and from other authors, that they were at Croom, where they built the Castle, afterwards enlarged by the Kildares in the year 1216. (Others say in 1229), when the second Lord Offfaly got a grant of that place and of Adare from King John, though he did not gain possession till nine years later on account, no doubt, of the resistance of O’Donovan and his yet powerful sept. In the year 1711 Quinn, ancestor of Lord Dunraven, bought Adare, and Croker bought Croom from the Earl of Kildare. Neither is there a particle of evidence in our ancient annals of the sept’s migration to Corea Laidhe at at any period of Irish history; and what is gratuitously asserted may be gratuitously denied without the onus of proof. "When driven thence," writes Dr. Donovan, "by the Baron of Offaly, they appear to have sunk into comparative inferiority in their newly acquired settlements in O’Driscoll’s country." The truth is, the O’Donnamhains of that locality were never anything but "comparatively inferior," being merely among the "hereditary leaders" of O’Feehily’s country, as appears from the text of the Irish treatise, to which the note quoted above (page 3) is attached.
The Doctor closed the O’Donovan Pedigree Appendix to the Annal of the Four Masters with the following silly statement, evidently meant as a clincher to all that preceded:—"The Hy-Figeinte may in general be distinguished from them (the Corea Laidhe) by their small hands and feet, and by a peculiar formation of the toes, by which the race of Cairbre Aebhdha are infallibly known to one another!"—This peculiarity of the toes is, I take it, a mere euphemism for clubfeet; but I can testify that no deformity of the kind is known among the genuine O’Donovans of Limerick! They were, beside, and are still for the most part, what in the United States are termed sir-footers!
Some of the Cork O’Donovans
signalized themselves in war, politics, and literature. One of them, in
Queen Elizabeth’s interest, made a raid into the territory of O’Sullivan
Beare, who slew him for his pain. That, however, did not prevent his son,
as I presume he was, soon after from attacking and demolishing the house
of Bishop Lyon at Ross, who had once been a captain in Bess’s navy, but
forced himself into the Sea of Ross by holding the Queen to her promise
of "giving him the first vacancy," though, of course, she meant "in the
navy!" Another of them was known in Dublin in the end of the last century
as Chinese O’Donovan on account of his great wealth, and entered the British
Parliament. A third was the translator into English of the Catechism
of the Council of Trent; and a fourth, some sixty years ago published
Rome, Ancient and Modern, 4 volumes, with costly engravings.
The original residence of the O’Donovans, Kings of Ui-Fidligeinte, was at the Castle of Bruree-Brugh Righ, Fort of the King—first built according to the Four Masters, by their ancestor, Oilioll Olum, King of Munster, A.D. 231. They afterwards built the Castles of Croom and Kenry (Lewis, Topographical Dictionary). There are still considerable remains of old castles at Bruree, but it is uncertain which of them belonged to the O’Donovans (Fitzgerald’s History of Limerick, volume 1, page 372). This author says there is a legend "that a daughter of O’Donovan, standing one day on the top of the castle near Bruree with two officers of her father’s household, with whom she was for some cause highly offended, pushed them off into the river, by which one of them was killed, but the other escaped, &e.," (1b). Pity he did not add that her own father put her to death for the gruesome deed, thus anticipating the famous Judge Lynch of Galway, who pitilessly decreed the death of his own son!
Bruree was formerly one of the most important cities of the South. In some maps drawn after Ptolemy’s tables (A.D. 130), it is among the ten or eleven cities then in existence, and is designated Hetera Rigia, near Armagh, the seat of the Northern Kings. In the map accompanying Adamnan’s Life of St. Columb, by Dr. Graves, Bruree is called Fiort Scoite. I can find no record of its loss by the O’Donovans; but in the 16th century it was in the possession of the Lacys, probably, too, previously in that of the Earls of Desmond from the date of their settlement in Munster. But even after the O’Donovans were deprived of the best part of their possessions by the O’Briens and Fitzgeralds, I am inclined to believe they still retained Kenry Castle for centuries. The reason of this belief will be given later on.
The O’Briens were the first to encroach on their territory from the east, for the greater part of the present Barony of Poble Brian was included in it, as may be seen by the "Map of 2,000 Years Ago" in the Journal of the Cork Archaeological Society for the years 1892, 1893, and 1894, page 224, and also by that given in Haverly’s History of Ireland.
According to the morality of the middle ages, when might was almost synonymous with right, the laity, at least, thought the end of justice sufficiently attained if they donated to the Church some portion of the property won by the sword upon any pretence! Accordingly, we find O’Brien of Thomond, in 1148 or 1157 (Archdull) founding the Abbey of Monaster Nenay for Cistercians out of O’Donovans’s lands instead of restoring them to the rightful owner—a practice followed later by the English tilibusterers, the Butlers, Fitzgeralds, &e.—a singular nostrum, indeed, for an uneasy conscience!
Dr. O’Donovan was quite
an adept at manipulating names of persons and places to fit his system
of a Limerick descent for his namesakes of Corea Laidhe. For instance,
he says that Carbery, in Cork, was so called by them after the old tribe-name
of Cairbre Aebhdha in Limerick. He, and Collins before him, may have thought
the Ui-Fidhgeinte inheritance a res derelieta que jiat primi occupantis,
though the Doctor, at least, can hardly be excused on this plea, for in
his services with the Ordnance Survey officers he must have known of the
existence of the Limerick family. But very likely he thought that by ignoring
them altogether he could best suppress their claims. For himself he might
just as well have derived his descent from Carbery in Connaught, or from
Cairbre Moe in Leinster. Indeed, this latter would have more semblance
of truth, at least in the case of the Wexford Donovans, being so much nearer
home, and dispensing, moreover, with the awkward fact, as alleged, of a
fugitive and homicide progenitor from Cork. But de gustibus non vat
As far as I can discover the first to claim the Chieftaincy of the Ui-Fidhgeinte line for one of the Corca Laidhe Family was, in the beginning of this century. John Collins, schoolmaster, of Myross, himself connected with that family, and, therefore, a suspected witness. He left a manuscript pedigree of General Richard O’Donovan that has never been published, said to have been compiled from tradition and private papers at Bawnlahan (the General’s residence). All we know of this pedigree is found in quotations from it by Dr. O’Donovan and by Cronnelly in his History of the Clan Eoghan. From Collins the Doctor seems to have borrowed the idea of his own pedigree. Here, however, is what he says of that of Collins:—
"I do not believe that he had a single authentic document before him when he was putting it together. His work is a mere accumulation of traditions. Nevertheless, he would have us accept these same "traditions" without a "single authentic document" to support them, for the descent of the wealthy O’Donovans of Corea Laidhe and his own family of county Wexford! "Taking for granted," he says, "that this pedigree was correct, and correctly copied by Collins, the descent of the Leinster O’Donovans will be as follows." (Appendix, Annals of the Four Masters, page 2178). The man he had stigmatized as altogether unworthy of credence is, when it suits his purpose metamorphosed into a most reliable witness! It reminds us of the fox in the fable—blowing hot and cold with the same breath. The only conclusion an impartial judge can come to is that they are both alike unworthy of belief.
I am aware that Dr. Smith, in his History of Cork, published in 1730, asserts a similar claim to that of Collins; but as he is known to have traveled over the county and gathered his information from the very parties interested, his testimony has no more weight than that of Collins, the vouchers being the same in both cases—namely, the "Bawnlahan Papers" and traditions. Yet with all these facts patent before their eyes, many later writers have accepted these genealogies for genuine history. Be it observed, however, that Smith has not attempted to supply the missing link between Ui-Fidhgeinte and Corea Laidhe. Here is what he has to say on the subject, volume 1, page 23:
"The Irish antiquarians allow but eight families of royal extraction in Munster, of which they place four in Carbery; and those were, besides the MacCartys, O’Mahon or Mahown, O’Donovan and O’Driscoll. This family (of O’Donovan) came hither from a barony in the county of Limerick called Coshma, where they built the famous Castle of Croom, which afterwards fell to the Kildare family. The representative of this ancient family has his seat at Banlahan, in West Carbery."
Regarding the number of families of royal descent in Munster he is correct enough, but he has no authority for locating the representatives of O’Donovan in Carbery, or for supposing their migration thither from county Limerick, and he does not attempt to allege any, for the simple reason that none exists.
Both Collins and Dr. O’Donovan speak of elections of Chiefs in Carbery—one of them, at least, resulting in the violent death of a candidate—and of the inauguration in 1500 of a Donall na g-Croiceann (of the hides), confirmed in 1592 by Lord Chancellor Loftus. But even granting all this, it is entirely beside the question, for it still remains to be proved that they were the lineal descendants of the Kings of Ui-Fidhgeinte, and not of the Leaders of the race of Ith. Had they been content with the Chieftaincy of Corea Laidhe, I, for one, should never have thought of disputing that title; but when they attempt to filch from my kith and kin the solo remaining nominis umbra of a once splendid inheritance, I cannot but protest and reclaim against the further publication , in Tiam’s Directory, or Burke’s Landed Gentry of the implied if not expressed title.
Sir Bernard Burke gives an amusing account of a dispute between the O’Conor Don and a namesake who persisted in spelling his name with only one "n." The O’Conor Don maintained that his own branch of the family had that exclusive right. Sir Bernard feared their meeting together in his office to argue the case lest they should come to blows over a single letter of the alphabet! My dispute with the Cork claimants is more serious, for it involves the truth of historical events that should at length be put in their proper light independently of all private interest.
But though I know of no "antiquarian," except the above two, who locates the latter-day chiefs of Ui-Fidhgeinte in the county of Cork, I met some ten years ago, at the Antipodes, a worthy scion of the Carbery stock, who stoutly maintained that his own father was the real O’Donovan. This gentleman had been a lieutenant in the British army, but was unfitted for active service by a bullet wound in the face during the Crimean War. At the time I speak of he lived near Briagalong, in Gippsland, Victoria. Being myself a man of peace, I did not venture to contradict the ex-warrior, but I informed him, for his consolation, that a soi-distant O’Donovan of Corea Laidhe had for some time appropriated the definite article that belonged to somebody else!
It is not certain that the Corea Laidhe Family are O’Donovans at all. Besides the name of their progenitor in that district, already mentioned as the race of Ith, I find on ancient maps that Carbery is marked ‘O’Dunivant’s country, and a ‘Dunivant,’ along with an ‘O’Donovan,’ represented Baltimore in King James’ Parliament in 1680. Even Dr. O’Donovan had some misgiving as to whether he had got the right man in his pedigree—Rev. Morgan O’Donovan, of Mountpellier, Cork, ancestor of the gentleman who at present dubs himself "The O’Donovan." The Doctor says his own ancestor, in county Wexford, was believed to be the eldest son of the Southern Chief, and he states (Appendix, Four Masters, page 2167) that after 1812, John Donovan, shoemaker, of Waterford City, was a probable claimant for the title, and went to Cork to recover by law the estate of General Richard O’Donovan. As, however, we hear nothing more of him we may conclude he had to return and "stick to his last."
Again, he mention (1b, page 2151) "James O’Donovan, of Cooldurragha, who is believed among the peasantry of Carbery to be The O’Donovan since the death of Captain Cornelius O’Donovan of Dingle, in 1811." I may say, in passing, that I have met abroad several fine specimens of the Cork Clan—among others, Commendatore O’Donovan, a Sydney Barrister; Joseph Donovan, the millionaire real estate agent of St. Louis, Missouri; and Mr. Daniel O’Donovan, a wealthy Philadelphia merchant. None of these, however, aspires to the chieftaincy.
Finally, the two chief
advocates of the Corea Laidhe O’Donovans flatly contradict each other regarding
the manner in which these are supposed to have acquired their now southern
possessions. Dr. O’Donovan says they were won by the sword from the O’Driscolls.
Collins says they were bestowed on Donabhan Bruree by Mulloy as a reward
for his betrayal Mahon, brother of Brian Boroimhe, of which more anon.
Both stories bear the marks of fabrication, for how could a plundered and
routed clan wrest a large district, barren though it was, from the warlike
and powerful O’Driscolls, who had not yet felt the effects of English invasion?
Or, how could Mulloy bestow lands that did not belong to him?
Thus far I have been occupied chiefly in pulling down, a disagreeable business, I admit, but absolutely necessary, from the very nature of the case; and now that the ground is cleared of incumbrances, I proceed to build up. Every one knows that the work of demolition is much easier than that of construction; and in the present case the latter progress is rendered still more difficult by the neglect of private records, due to the disasters that came upon the family from an early period and never were retrieved. Nevertheless, from the family traditions and such documentary evidence as remains, I trust to be able to prove that my contention is the only true one, and that no other claim will bear the ordeal of historical criticism.
The county Limerick O’Donovans derive their name from one of their progenitors, Donohban, King of Ui-Fidiugeinte, slain in battle, it is said, by Brian Boroimhe in the year 977. It was this latter, when afterwards Monarch of all Ireland, who first enjoined on the Irish the adoption of family names, and accordingly Cathal, son of Donohban, took the name of MacDonohban, and his sons again, grandsons, &e., that of O’Donoghan (descendants of). This origin is certain from our ancient authors; nor was it possible, up to a certain date, for an alien to get on the roll of a royal family, so carefully were their genealogies recorded by the bards attached to every royal house in order to secure legitimate succession to the throne, and also to the occupation lands among the more remote members of the sept.
Under pressure of the Penal Laws one of them, as will be seen further on, dropped the "O" from his name, and at the same time conformed, or rather made an outward show of conforming to the new religion. These were, in many cases, the only means of escaping confiscation and death; but they could not, in the sight of heaven, justify even the semblance of apostacy from religion or country, as we learn from the example of Eleazar, II Macbabees, c. 6.
The encroachments of the O’Briens of Thomond, and of the Fitzgeralds of Kildare and Desmond, forced the O’Donovans from most of the richer lands of their inheritance into the poorer districts of the southwest, many of the sept taking up their abode across the border in Cork County. It was a loss of this latter lineage that inspired the following "original poem" of Edward Walsh ("Poetry, &e., Cork Hist., &e., Soc., page 156):
One midsummer’s eve, when Bel fires were lighted,
And the bagpiper’s tone called the maidens delighted,
I joined a gay group by the Araglin’s water,
And danced till the dawn with O’Donovan’s daughter.
Have you seen the ripe monddan glisten in Kerry?
Have you marked on the Galtees the black whortleberry,
Or ecundbhan wave by the wells of Blackwater?
They’re the cheek,
eye and neck of O’Donovan’s daughter.
Have you seen the gay kidling on Caragh’s round mountain,
The swan’s arching glory on Sheling’s blue fountain,
Heard a wierd woman chat what the fairy choir taught her?
They’re the step,
grace and tone of O’Donovan’s daughter.
Have you marked in its flight the black wing of the raven,
The rosebuds that breathe in the summer breeze waven,
The pearls that lie hid under Leno’s magie water?
They’re the teeth,
lip and hair of O’Donovan’s daughter.
Ere the Bel-fire was dimmed, or the dancers departed,
I taught her a song of some maid broken-hearted,
And that group and that dance, and that love-song I taught her
Haunt my slumbers
at night with O’Donovan’s daughter.
God grant ‘tis no fay from Knock-Firinn that woos me:
God grant ‘tis not Cliedlma the Queen that pursues me:
That my soul, lost and lone, has no witchery wrought her,
While I dream of dark groves and O’Donovan’s daughter.
In 1689 The O’Donovan
(Donal) was returned one of the member of King James’ Parliament for the
Manor of Doneraile (Ploirden, volume 1, page 135—O’Hart’s, Landed Gentry,
page 501), no doubt through the influence of his sept across the border.
His grandfather, Donongh, had been transplanted to Connaught in 1631 (O’Hart,
page 340); but his father, Daniel, escaped at the same time as an "innocent"
by a show of conforming (1b, page 321). He himself was Colonel of the 42nd
Regiment; but the Academy writer seems a more reliable authority, unless,
indeed, O’Hart has confounded two of the same name, for there was a Colonel
Daniel O"Donovan engaged in Kerry on behalf of James just before the surrender
of Limerick (Wright, Part IV, page 257); but the Colonel of the 42nd, instead
of going to France with Sarsfield, went with his men into the service of
William, allured by the liveral offfers of the English commander. He is
mentioned in that capacity in O’Hart’s Pedigree, page 615. The Colonel’s
son, Thomas, succeeded to some shreds of patrimony at Feenagh, and seems
to have been the first of the family to settle at Ballyguy, which was granted
to Major King at the Rebellion of 1641. But I am anticipating.
The territory of Ui-Fidhgeinte is said to have been so named from Fiaeha Fidhgeinte, brother of Crimthan III, King of Ireland, about the middle of the fourth century. He himself got the appellation Fidhgeinte (wood-worker) from his having constructed a wooden horse at the great fair of the Curragh of Kildare—in Cireinio Colmain in Campo Liphi.
This origin, however, seems to be a mere "bardie" invention. It is more likely the district was so called from its very nature—jidh ceinte or ganegh, wood-land. Be this as it may, it designated a territory fully two-thirds of the present county of Limerick, including all the land from the Shannon to the boundary line of Cork County, and from the Kerry mountains to the Rivers Maigue and Morning Star. It is thus marked on the map accompanying Dr. Reeve’s edition of Adamnan’s Life of St. Columba, as described by him and other ancient authors. The Ogygia of O’Flaherty (Hely’s translation, volume 2, page 303) would seem to make the territory still larger, as it is there said to be called cois-Maighr (now the barony of Coshma), that is, along the Maigue or the plain, which would take [i]a strip of territory east of that river; and, indeed, some ancient authors state expressly that Ui-Fidhgeinte extended from Kilmallock to the Shannon.
The same district was
anciently known likewise as Cairbre Aebhph or Maigll Ua Cairbre, as marked
on map of "The Circuit of Ireland," edited by Dr. O’Donovan, and
also on that by Vallancey, volume 3. On the map of Father Hogan’s "Description
of Ireland," 1598, the same tract, apparently, is designated Conolagh;
but that name, anciently Ui Connaill Gabhra, was never applied to more
than the two present baronies of Upper and Lower Connello, in which the
ancient name is partly preserved. There were distinct chiefs in these districts
and elsewhere in the O’Donovan country, but evidently subordinate to these
latter, who were themselves in turn subject to the King of Munster and
to the King paramount of Ireland. They were, however, as the senior branch
of Oilioll Olum’s race exempt from all tribute to the Munster Kings according
to O’Huidhrin, Topeg. Poems, page 119:
Hereditary to O’Donnabhain of Dun Cuire (Bruree)
Is this land, as a land of encampment,
To him without tribute belonged along the sluggish Maigh,
And the plains down to the Sionainn.
Among the stipends
of the King of Munster to the kings of his territories, paid annually,
that of O’Donovan is given as follows in The Book of Rights, page
77, O’Donovan’s translation:
Seven steeds to the King of Brugh-righ;
Seven horns from which wine is drunk;
Seven swords, it is a happy engagement,
Seven serving-youths, seven bond-women.
One of the "Thirteen Wonders [of] Ireland" is related of the "slugish Maigh," and is thus told in Latin verse from O’Flaherty by O’Kelly in his Hist. Descrip. Hibernide, page 41, to which I add a free translation:
Visibilis nulli ramis vet us arbor opacis
Palma datur: si palma dari dieatur, imago
Cujus aquis Magii eataractam propter amoenam
Cernitur, ast alibi
nullum (mirabile) corpus.
On Maigue’s fair margin there stands a tree,
An ancient palm that no eye can see,
Whose shadow alone the waters reflect,
And tell it is there nigh the cataract.
I marvel much how this can be—
An umbragous phantom tree!
On a map in volume 2, Part 3, State Papers, Temp., Henry VIII, the tract west of Kilmallock is marked MUSKERYE GAGHNOGH, and it extends into County Cork apparently. This Ganogh in Muskery was so called after Senganogh (sen being early Irish for sean, ‘old’) to the north of it near Newcastle. This latter name is written Synganyga in the Book of Howth, page 255. But the spelling of that entire book is exceedingly quaint, as its late editor observes, while at the same time it is considered historically a high authority. This Senganogh is now called Feenagh, which is the only geographical trace extant of ancient Ui-Fidhgeinte, and this trace is due solely to the fact that the heirs of the former kings of the territory, shorn though they were of most of their wealth and power, continued to reside there for over 300 years (Book of Howth, page 255 ).
Though the changes in the name of Ui-Fidhgeinte down to the modern Feenagh at first sight seem strange, still they are quite natural, when we take into account the gradual change from the Irish to the English tongue with a totally different method of spelling and pronunciation and the omission of the "Ui" which was unintelligible to those acquainted only with the latter language. Thus in the last century Fidgeinte had become FOUGHANOUGH or FEOHONAGH (Lewis, Topographical Dictionary, under the word Mahonagh), and finally FEENAGH—a name now confined to a single parish southeast of Newcastle.
Here, in 1550, resided "The O’Donovan," according to the Book of Howth, at the page quoted above, and it is impossible to gain say the fact. Dr. O’Donovan seems not to have been aware of it, else he would assuredly have fabricated a Synganyge or Shanganagh in Cork to meet the emergency, for there is, in reality, no such place in Carbery, though there is one of the name in Tipperary, and another close to Dublin city, celebrated by Denis F. McCarthy.
The name of Feenagh reminds me of a fact which confirms our family tradition of its Kenry descent, as stated on page 2. Kenry, on the Shannon, at present a barony, belonged to the O’Donovans as part of the plain "along the sluggish Maigne down to the Shannon," and they were the original owners and builders of the Castle of Pallaskenry, according to the Irish annals followed by Lewis; but the name Kenry was, at least towards the 16th century, applied also to the country southwest of that (Vallancey. volume 3, page 296). On the map with the State Papers, already mentioned, I find marked "Newcastle Kenry," and the same on that in Carew’s Paeata Hibernia. This proves that Dr. O’Donovan was wrong in reprehending Bishop O’Brien, for saying the O’Donovans were lords of Kenry. In fact the Bishop’s assertion is common with many later writers; though I dare say, it would not be correct, if extended to times more remote.
And this is the reason for my belief, mentioned before (page 5), that the O’Donovans retained possession of Kenry castle for centuries after the loss of Bruree and Croom—namely Kenry castle at Feenagh. Lewis says there are large ruins in the vicinity of no certain origin: it is reasonable therefore to conclude, that they are the remains of O’Donovan’s castle. And here is a certain proof that the O’Donovans were in Kenry Castle in the year 1394. Froissiart the French Chronicler says Four Irish Kings made submission to Richard II, in Dublin in the year 1391. And he gives the name of one of them as "Contruo King of Cenour and Erpe." and the English translator puts a query at foot "O’Connor King of Connaught?" O’Connor Don says it cannot possibly be O’Connor. The English translation of the Irish should be Concubar King of Kenry and Cairbre.
The following line
of direct descent from Adam downwards to No. 86 inclusive is taken
from the Genealogical Tables in O’Kelly’s Historica Descriptio Iliberniae,
published at Vienna 1703. One name only, that of Mofebhis is corrected
on the authority of O’Hart. O’Kelly gives it as the name of a man but it
seems to be the name of a woman, wife of the preceding Muiredach Muchua
(No. 73). The following names to No. 118 inclusive are taken
from various authors chiefly from Cronnelly page 252, who says he drew
from "a Munster record of high authority." The next five have been accounted
for already and the rest will be later on.
1. Adam Created 1
2. Seth: his son Born 130
3. Enos: his son Born 235
4. Cainan: his son Born 325
5. Malalale: his son Born 395
6. Jared: his son Born 460
7. Henoch: his son Born 622
8. Mathusalem: his son Born 687
9. Lamech: his son Born 874
10. Noe: his son. Born 1056
11. Japhet: his son Born 1558
12. Magog: his son, K. Sey
13. Baath: his son, K. Sey
14. Fenius Farsaidh: his son, K. Sey, 2544
15. Niul: his son
16. Gaodhal: his son, a quo gael
17. Asruth: his son
18. Sruth: his son
19. Hebertseot: his son
20. Beogamon: his son
21. Ogamon: his son
22. Fait: his son
23. Agnan: his son
24. Lamhfionn: his son, K. G.
25. Heber Glunfionn: his son, K. G.
26. Agnan Fionn: his son, K. G.
27. Febrie Glas: his son, K. G.
28. Nennual: his son, K. G
29. Nuadhad: his son, K. G.
30. Alladh: his son, K. G.
31. Areadh: his son, K. G.
32. Deagh: his son, K. G.
33. Brath: his son, K. S.
34. Breoghan: his son, K. S.
35. Bile: his son, K. S.
36. Milesius: his son, K. S., a quo Milesians
37. Heber: his son, joint K. I., 2738
38. Cannaol: his son, K. I., 2786
39. Eochaidh Faobharglas: his son, K. I., 2910
40. Nuadh Deaglan: his son
41. Glas: his son
42. Ros: his son
43. Rotheaeth I: his son, K. I., 3021
44. Fearard: his son
45. Caselot: his son
46. Munemoin: his son, K. I., 3071
47. Faildergoid: his son, K. I., 3076
48. Cas Cedehaingnigh: his son
49. Faukbhe: his son
50. Ronnach: his son
51. Rotheaeta II: his son, K. I., 3233
52. Eiliomh: his son, K. I., 3240
53. Art I Imleach: his son, K. I., 3250
54. Breas Rioghaehta: his son, K. I., 3292
55. Seidnae II Innaridh: his son, K. I., 3322
56. Duaeh I Fopmm: his son, K. I., 3348
57. Eanna Dearg: his son, K. I., 3357
58. Aeneas Oinbhealan: his son
59. Lughaidh Iardhein: his son, 3487
60. Readhtadh Righdearg: his son, K. I., 3566
61. Cobthach Caomh: his son
62. Mogheorb: his son, K. I., 3673
63. Feareorb: his son, K. I., 3709
64. Adhamra Folteain: his son, K. I., 3745
65. & 66. names not found in annals.
67. Niasedhamon: next in descent, K. I., 3808
68. Ionadmor: his son, K. I., 3880
69. Lughaidh IV Luaighne: his son, K. I., 3891
70. Cairbre Lusglethan: his son
71. Duach Dalta Deaghadh: his son, K. I., 3912
72. Eochaidh Fear-aine: his son
73. Muiredach Muchna: his son
74. Mofebis: his wife
75. Loich Mor: their son
76. Eanna Munchaoin: his son, K. M.
77. Dearg Theine: his son
78. Deard II: his son
79. Mogha Neid: his son, K. M., A.D. 166
80. Eoghan Mor Moghnuadh: his son, K. M.
81. Oilioll Olum: his son, K. M., died A.D. 234
82. Eoghan Faidbach: his son, K. M., slain A.D. 250
83. Fiacha Muillethan: his son, K. M., A.D. 260
84. Olioll Flanbeg: his son, K. M.
85. Daire Cearb: his son
86. Fiaeha Fidhgeinte: his son
87. Brian: his son
88. Cairbre Aebhdha: his son
89. Ere: his son
90. Cennfaela: his son, A.D. 430
91. Oilell Cennfada: his son
92. Laipe: his son
93. Aengus: his son
94. Aedh or Hugh: his son
95. Crunnmael: his son
96. Eoghan: his son, K. Ui-F., A.D. 667
97. Aedh Roin: his son
98. Dabhdavoren: his son, K. Ui-F., A.D. 750
99. Cinfaola: his son
100. Cathal I: his son, A.D. 844
101. Naithnidh: his son
102. Donehadh: his son
103. Cathal II: his son, K. Ui-F.
104. Donobhan: his son, slain A.D. 977
105. Cathal MacDonovan: his son, K. Ui-F., A.D. 1044
106. Aulaff O’Donovan: his son
107. Murchertach: his son
108. Aneslis: his son
109. Raghnal: his son
110. Maolrian: his son
111. Crom: his son
112. Cathal: his son
113. Tadh: his son
114. Concubhar: his son
115. Raghnal O’Donovan: his son, K. Ui-F.
116. Diarmudh: his son
117. Diarmudh Og: his son
118. Teig: his son
119. Donal O’Donovan: his son, Chief of Senganogh, A.D. 1550.
120. Donal Og O’Donovan: his son, Chief (O’Sull., page 142 ), A.D. 1588.
121. Donnough O’Donovan: his son, Chief "Transplanted," A.D. 1654.
122. Daniel O’Donovan: his son, Chief "Innocent," A.D. 1654.
123. Donal O’Donovan: his son, Chief Colonel, A.D. 1689.
124. Thomas O’Donovan: his son, born A.D. 1680—died A.D. 1736.
125. Daniel O’Donovan: his son, born A.D. 1725—died A.D. 1791.
126. Thomas O’Donovan: his son, born A.D. 1764—died A.D. 1806.
127. Benjamin O’Donovan: his son, born A.D. 1796—died A.D. 1881.
128. Michael (Rev.)
O’Donovan: his son, born A.D. 1833.
John is married and has three sons: 1) Thomas, 2) John, and 3) Benjamin.
Daniel O’Donovan (Rev.
of Mt. Melleray ), third son of Benjamin.
Remarks on the Pedigree
The Chronology of the Kings of Ireland in the foregoing pedigree is that adopted by O’Brennan from The Roll of Kings. The dates of the birth or death of each and every individual it is not possible now to ascertain I have given only those of a few out of the number, as I chanced to meet them in authors from time to time.
In the list, after a name, the letters "K. Sey." mean King of Seythia; "K. G." mean King of Getulia, in Northern Africa; "K. S." King of Spain; "K. I." King of Ireland; "K. M." King of Munster; and "K. Ui-F." King of Ui-Fidhgeinte.
It will be seen that no names are given at Nos. 65 and 66; but that does not cause a real lacuna; in as much as the Irish Annals record the individuals, though the names are lost.
Moses does not give
the names of Magog’s sons; but Josephus states that Magog established a
separate Colony of his own descendants, and there can be no doubt, but
it was in Seythia, of which he naturally assumed the sovereignty. The subsequent
migrations of this people to Getulia, thence to Spain, and finally of the
sons of Milesius to Erin, are too well authenticated to be denied by any
but the enemies of our race and country, who will not be convinced.
It is from Milesius that the Milesians, the most noble of all Ireland’s races are so designated. He himself died King of Spain; but three of his sons, Heber, Heremon and Ir, planted a colony of Spaniards or Seythians in Ireland, the two former reigning jointly for one year, when they quarrelled and Heber, eldest of the three, was slain, like another Remus. The descendants of Heber ruled over the southern half of the Island, many of them being at the same time King’s paramount of Ireland.
The following, from a poem by John Anster, LL.D., alludes to the ancient custom of burying great men arect in the grave. It seems Mogha Neid (No. 79) was buried in this fashion:
And there hath he robed him again for the strife.
Of heroes?—He stands in dread semblance of life.
In his right hand the broad-sword, before him the shield
And the helmet still guarding his head.
Again the red lightnings of war will he wield,
Again lead the thousands he led.
The keene hath been chaunted, the sepulchre sealed
But say not Neid Mogha is dead!
The gold torques rest upon his breast,
The javelins are at his side,
And the snow-white steed of matchless speed
Is there in his trappings of pride;
Oh! That one ray breaking in of the day
Could see what the dark chambers hide!
Sword, shield, javelin, battle-steed
Wait the waking of Mogha Neid.
Eoghan Mor (No.
80), or Mogha Nuadhat, as he was also called forced Conn of the Hundred
Battles, King of Ireland, to divide the Kingdom with him, by a line from
Dublin to Galway following the Esker Riada or ridge, which runs with little
interruption that whole distance, the southern division being known as
Leath Mogha or Mogha’s Half, and the northern as Leath Quinn or Conn’s
Half. Keating states that Eoghan, like Pharaoh at Joseph’s warning, by
the advice of his Druid stored up corn against a great scarcity, and quotes
the following lines from an authentic poem:
And now alas! Came on the deadly year,
And dreadful blasts infected all the air,
The fields no cheerful hopes of harvest bring,
Nor tender buds foretell a coming spring,
Nor bladed grass nor bearded corn succeed
But scales of scurf and putirefaction breed:
And men, and beasts, and fowl with hunger pined,
And trees and plants in one destruction joined.
The scattered vulgar search around the fields,
And pluck whate’er the withered herbage yields,
Famished with want, the wilds and deserts tread,
And fainting wander for their needful bread:
But tired at length, unable to sustain
Afflictive want and hunger’s pinching pain
They pray to Modha, as a gaurdian God
And bless, with hands upheld, the place of his abode.
"Let fall," they cry, "some pity on our grief,
If what we beg be just, and we deserve relief."
The prince, with pity moved, extended wide
His grannaries, and all their wants supplied;
But, as a most deserved reward, commands
A tax, and lays a tribute on their lands.
It is from his son, Oilioll Olum (No. 81), that all the Milesian Royal Houses of Mungster descend. Only three of Oilioll’s sons, Eoghen (Owen) the eldest, Cormae Cas and Cian left issue. From the first descend Eoghanachts or Eugenians of Cashel and Desmond, and from the second the Delcassians of Thomond. By his last will Oilioll ordained, that an Eoghanacht and Dalcassian should, after his death rule alternately as King of Leath Mogha or Munster.
The succession was thus observed for centuries ; but towards the time of Brian Boroimhe it gave rise to disputes that were sometimes fatal. It is certain that the Daleassians usurped the royal power of Munster from the time of Mahon, led to his own violent death. The Delcassions version of that occurrence involves Donobhan, from whom the O’Donovans take their name; but a partizan account can seldom be trusted, especially when impartial historians bear different testimony.
Some Dalcassians historians say that Donobhan invited Mahon to a banquet in his house at Bruree and there, in violation of the laws of hospitality, seized and delivered him to the agents of his rival, Mulloy, who took him into the country of Cork and put him to death. Others of them say, that the Eoghanacht and Daleassian armies, after several battles, were face to face near Bruree, when the Bishop of Cork and the clergy interfered and proposed a conference at the house of Donobhan, who there betrayed Mahon to his enemy, receiving lands in Corea Laidhe as a reward.
On the other hand, several authorities tell the story either differently, or in such a way as renders the Daleassian accounts impossible. For instance, the Annals of Ulster, at the year 975, without any mention of Donobhan’s betrayal, say, "Mathgamhian (Mahon) son of Cennetigh, King of Caisel, was killid by Maelmhuaidh (Mulloy) son of Bran." And again under the year 977, "Abattle between Brian (Boroimhe), son of Connetigh, and Maelmhuaidh, King of Des-Mumha (Desmond), in which Maelmhuaidh was slain." Not a word of the slaying of Donabhan and his Danish allies by Brian, as the latter’s admirers relate.
Next, Keating, narrating events under the monarch Donough, A.D. 954, says (O’Connor’s translation): "Mahon the King Munster..., was betrayed and seized by his traitoroys subjects in his own palace, and conducted as a prisoner, under a strong guard to Mac Broin, where he was, Barbarously put to death by the people of that place." Keating knew nothing of Donobhan’s trachery.
Comerford, who wrote in 1751, gives the same account in his History of Ireland, page 191. He says that "Mahon, was seized by some conspirators in his own palace, and conveyed away to Meills Mae Broin, King of Oneachach where he was barbarously put to death by the people of that country, altho’ St. Collum Mac Cairagain (Bishop of Cork) solicited for his life."
Another respectable witness to the same effect is Wills, in his Lives of Illus’rious
Sr. Irishmen, volume 1, page 199. He says not a word to implicate Donobhan in Mahon’s death, but lays its whole responsibility upon Maolmua (Mulloy). Dr. Todd (Introduction to War of the Gardhil, &c.) also thinks the account "interpolated & mutilated."
The foregoing testimonies are amply sufficient to demolish the charge of treachery against Donobhan: but it may not be amiss to add another from an avowed admirer of the Daleassians. This is Mac Curtin, who in 1717 dedicated to the Earl of Inchiquin his Discourse &c. of Ireland. On page 210 he writes: "This Maolbhuadh (Mulloy) was a most treacherous unnatural man, for it was he that betrayed Mathghamhuin (Mahon), Brian’s brother, to the Danes; for which he lost his head in that battle" (of Bealach leachta.)
It is quite probable that Donobhan, being senior of all the Eoghanacht Milesians, took part with Mulloy in his contest with Mahon for the crown of Munster, and that some vague reports of this were construed into treason by the bards of the opposite faction. Anyhow even at the present day, more civilized powers are not very scrupulous in time of war about the means of entrapping an enemy; but surely Mahon was not such an idiot as to walk unarmed, as it were, into his rival’s camp.
Cathal, son of Donobhan, with his contingent fought at Clontarf under the Command of Cian, general of the Eugenian forces. His mother was daughter to the Danish King of Limerick City, and his son’s name, Amlaobh or Auliff, is evidence of his maternal extraction. It appears Cathal’s sister also was married to Dane, King of Waterford; for we find mention of Donovan, son of Imhar King of Waterford, in the Chronicon Scot., page 235 and in other authors. In the same work, at the year 825, is recorded the death of Diarmaid, anchorite, grandson of Aedh Roin (No. 97 in Pedigree) St. Ruadan, Abbot of Lorrah was of the royal stock of Ui-Fidhgeinte; as were also St. Culan the devout (18th February) of Glankeen, Borrisoleigh, and Curitin or Cuirbin (20th July ) who flourished in the 9th century. It was St. Ruadan who "cursed" Tara, on account of a gross violation of the right of sanctuary by one of its Kings. Standish O’Grady, has recently taken him to task for this curse, which was in reality a prophecy of divine inspiration. I wonder if the soi-distant O’Donovan of Lissard feels himself at home in the company of these saints, or whether, while claiming to be of their kindred spirituals? He should bear in mind, that, as historians relate, St. Patrick cursed the unbelieving King of Ui-Fidhgeinte for refusing to listen to his preaching; and none of his descendants ever after became toparchs, in accordance with the holy "Bushup’s" prophecy!
From Luighmeach, younger brother (O’Hart falsely says elder) of Daire Cearb (No. 85), sprung the MacCarthys, the O’Sullivans, the O’Callaghans, the O’Keeffes, the O’Mahonys and the O’Donohoes. The son (some say grandson) of Daire Cearb, Crimthan III, died without issue in 375, the last Irish ardrigh of Eugenian blood.
From Daire, a younger brother of Cairbre Aebhdha (No. 88), are descended O’Kinealy and O’Collins, formerly chiefs respectively of Upper and Lower Connello. All these families, as can be seen by the pedigree, were juniors to the Donobhan branch in the Eugenian line. It is therefore with perfect truth that O’Mahony, in a note to his edition of Keating’s History (published in the United States) admits The O’Donovan to be now the true heir to the crown of Munster—supposing a restitution of our ancient rights. Indeed he might have gone farther and said in the same supposition—that he is the true heir to the crown of Ireland, as senior of the whole Milesian Race!
After Cro O’Donovan’s time, the title of King of Ui-Fidhgeinte was little better than an empty name. He (No. 111) seems to have been chief, when Croom and Adare were confiscated and granted to the second Baron of Offaly, Maurice Fitzgerald; but I can find no cause alleged for the forfeiture. There seems no reasonable pretext for such a proceeding, except a refusal on O’Donovan’s part to follow the examples of MacCarthy and O’Brien in paying homage to Henry II or to his son John. Some historians say most of the Munster chiefs followed their example; others say all of them did so. Be that as it may, we can well believe that the rich plains of the Maigue, a large portion of which is in the celebrated Golden Vale, alone furnished a sufficient cause to the cupidity of the Baron of Offaly and of his kinsman, progenitor of the Earls of Desmond. Edward Walshe’s Farewell to the Miagne, though sung of later times, would not be inappropriate in the mouth of an O’Donovan of the 13th century. I quote the first verse:
A long farewell I send to thee,
Fair Maig of corn and fruit and tree,
Of state and gift, and gathering grand,
Of song, romance, and chieftain bland,
Och, och on! Dark fortune’s rigour—
Wealth, title, tribe of glorious figure,
Feast, gift—all gone and gone my vigour,
Since thus I wander lonely.
Thomas Condon, a Cork
poet of considerable merit, thus writes in his Gillagh Hugh of MacCarthy,
King of Desmond who was the first Irish chief to render homage and submission
to Henry II immediately on his landing at Waterford, and also of O’Brien,
King of Thomond. The poet introduces MacCarthy’s page giving the sad news
to the Abbot of Kilerea:
"Aye," he resumed, "to kiss his hand,
And hold of him his crown and land,
Dermod MacCarthy basely came—
May scorn for ever bright his name,
And brand it with eternal shame!
Nay, father, pardon me these words,
With thee such language ill accords;
I know it well; but passion’s force
Will sometimes sweep me from the course.
Your tender love and wisdom fair
Traced for me with a father’s care.
But oh! To think Mac Cawra should
Kneel to a Saxon vassal rude;
Desmonia’s heir! Proud honoured line!
As, what deep shame this hour is thine!
The king I served myself with trust,
Until he basely kissed the dust,
False Henry, who was pleased the while,
Received him with a grasious smile,
And kindly designed to grant him all
He erst held free, but now in thrall.
And Dermod, pleased, his home regain’d,
A siave where once a king regn’d.
The Saxon army with their king
Now marched to woody, wild Lismore,
And thither quickly hastening
O’Brien came to bow before
The stranger, and as vassal pay
The homage which a vassal may.
Alas for former kingly pride!
Thomond, thy crystal springs are dried:
Nought hast thon now to quench thy thirst,
But waters muddy and accurst—
Nought but a mem’ry now thou hast
Of what in former time thou wast:
Now childless art thou—son of thee
Is not who would a traitor be.
And to the Saxon bend the knee!
For "Mononia’s" in the foregoing I have substituted "Desmonia’s," as historically more correct. It is very doubtful, whether the palm of infamy does not belong to the king of Thomonc, rather than to him of Desmond; for the former had already, before Henry’s arrival, invoked the aid of Mae Murrough’s English allies against his lawful soverign, Roderick O’Connor, who was defeated by their united forces in a pitched battle. Both MacCarthy and O’Brien, however, made good terms for themselves then and subsequently, regardless of the fate of their less powerful neighbours, like O’Donovan, in whose cause, which was really identical with their own—Nam tua res agitur, paries quum proximus ardet—They never interposed. As a sop to Cerberus, the descendant of one received the earldom of Clancare or Clanearty, and of the other that of Inchiquin and Thomond.
I am inclined to think there is an omission in Cronnelly’s list, between Nos. 113-114. O’Flaherty mentions the death of Murchertach O’Donovan in the year of 1385, which would seem to point him out as father of Concubhar (No. 114).
I wish here to anticipate an objection that may be raised against my adopting part of Cronnelly’s pedigree as given from Munster record. "It may be said, that Cronnelly gives that pedigree as of the Corea Laidhe O’Donovns. I grant that he would seem to do so, from the fact that he tries to reconcile it with Collins’ pedigree: but in thus applying it he merely followed the assumptions of Collins and Dr. O’Donovan; of which it suffices to say nous arons change tout cela.
The No. 119 is The "O’Donowayne of Synganyge" of Synganyge according to the Book of Hewth, his son being known by the soubriquet of Og to distinguish him from his father. The next two are mentioned in O’Hart’s Landed Gentry: of whom the second—the "Innocent"—world seem to have conformed : tho’ this is a mere conjecture of mine, first from the fact of his escaping "Transplantation" and secondly from his not appearing with his near relative, Herbert of Rathkeale, in the alleged outrages on Protestants (Miss Hickson, volume 2, pages 93-95.) It is certain, however, that his son, the Colonel and M.P. for Doneraile was a Catholic.
It was, it appears, Thomas O’Donaovan (No. 124) who outwardly conformed, to save his remnant of property and qualify for holding real estate, for which Catholics were then incapacitated by the new penal laws of Primate Boulter. It was the old story of selling a Birthright for a mess of pottage. But in justice to him and his children I must say they were only Protestants in name. His son, Daniel, the writer’s great g’ndfather, married a Catholic who brought up all their children in her own faith; and Daniel himself in his last illness was received into the Catholic fold.
This Daniel first lived at Ballgay with an elder brother, Fully or Fulgentins, who died unmarried after having lost that place by forclosure of a mortgage to Richard Bourke of Drumsally, ancestor of the Bourkes of Thornfield. Daniel’s only sister, Anne, married Captain Thomas Maynard, a member of Lord Maynard’s family, who left no issue : and to whose memory she erected a tomb, still remaining, in Abington cemetery. Daniel lived afterwards at Cappanuke. It was he who donated that part of Cappanuke, on which the Protestant glebe house now stands. Of his several sons Thomas was the eldest. He married and lived on the adjoining townland of Gurtavacoose (oven- garden). Of his three sons Benjamin was the eldest. He left three sons, still living, Rev. Michael, P.P. of Corofin, the present chief : Thomas, J.P. of Gurtagarry House, Toomevara: and Rev. Daniel Athanasoms, of Mount Melleray. His only daughter, Mary, married Edward Ryan, of Knockanerra.
Such is the true O’Donovan
Pedigree. In it Dryden’s saying:—
Do you not know that for a little coin
Heralds can foist a name into a line ?
The Hind and Panther has no place. It is perhaps the best authenticated genealogy in all Ireland’s records. I am well aware that English writers sneer at our claims to a descent more ancient than their own; and even to-day Irishmen are found of the same way of thinking—e.g. Canon Burke, Standish O’Grady &e. But truth is great and will prevail. The family tomb in Abington cemetery is our latest witness.
The war-cry of the Ui-Fidhgeinte O’Donovans—Crom abuagh—was appropriated by the Kildares, and their arms by the Corea Laidhe family and that of Wexford. The true O’Donovans’s mottto is In Deo faciemus Virtutem. I conclude this Memoir by the following "Musings of the O’Donovan:"—
The O’Donovan’s Musings
Through Coshma’s plain by rapid train while musingly I sped what fancies wild the time beguiled, as I thought of the mighty dead; who in days of old from Brughrigh’s hold led many warlike band, and in the van of the conquering clan unflinching took their stand. I seemed to see in full panoply Mogh Nuadh marching on to dare in fight and put to flight the Hundred-battle Con—to loose the hold of that monarch bold on the South, and drive him forth by spear and sword, with his plundering horde, to their mountains in the North. Next Oiliol I saw enacting the law, that Munster’s crown should be by Owen’s race and that of Cas possessed alternately—just law indeed, but containing seed of future deadly strife, that left Leath Mogh a prey to the foe, when it might have fought for life. Then lo! That prince, The Donovan, since by sciolists maligned, from whom I claim the blood and name to his rightful heir confined; too sad to relate the family’s fate, and how their Castle of Croom to the grasping line of the Geraldine passed, sealing their mournful doom! And still Brughrigh has charms for me, e’en more than Croom or Adare; for my great forbears for some thousand years lived and were buried there. But ‘twere vain to cry, and vain to sigh for what no more may be—Th’ O’Donovan name resored to fame, on the roll of royalty!
In looking up the history of ballyguy, I found it mentioned on one of Dugdale’s volumes as part of the endowment of Uaithne or Abington monastery. The charter, in which it occurs, is such a curiosity, that I give its substantial part, with the best English version I can furnish. At first sight I despaired of identifying many of the local names, and discovering the meaning of so many archaic legal terms found therein. However our ancient annals enabled me to get over most of the first difficulty; and with the aid of DaCang, Brackton, Flanagan’s Manual of British & Irish History &e. I think I have fairly surmounted the second. The Charter, dated 1205, runs thus:
Omnibus...Theobaldus Walteri, pineerna Hiberniae, salutem. Sciatis me pro amore Dei...didisse et concessisse, et hae praesenti carta mea confirmasse in puram et perpetuam eleemosynam Deo, et beatae Mariae, et abbati et monachis de Wodency, in cantredo de Wodeney O’Cathelan, et Wodency O’Flian, totum thend, sive fundum de Wodency Fidenwide, in quo villa de Clonfene sita est, cum medietate aqure de Molkerne, in quantum praedictum twede se extendit super praedictam aquam de Molkerne, cum omnibus pertinentiis suis, rationabiliter divisis; seil per has divsas; ex aquilonali parte per aquam de Clodach, ubi cadit in En-Olkerne; sie ascendendo usque ad Ballinagarfh, et Villengarfh, cum pertinentiis suis ; et a Villenagarfh per camdem aquam sic ascendendo usque ad montana, et sicut aqua de Clodach circuit montana; et sie per exteriores partes montanas, versus orientem descendendo usque ad lacum de Grey; et sic per aquam de Molkerne, quae exit de lacu praedicto, descendendo usque ad abbatiam. Et praeterea feodum unius militis quod dicitur Dromenalewy, tam in bosco quam in plano, de term quae proxima est aquae de Molkerne ex australi parte, contravillam de Clonkeene, et terram quae est ex aquilonali parte de Molkerae, quae vicatur Balligabeg, in quantum praefatum feodum se extendat super praefatam aquam de Molkerne, cum tota medietate ejusdem aquae, et cum omnibus pertinentiis suis, usque ad Buckrum, inter Karkenlis et Dromenaleyw, et alias divisas suas rationabiles. Et unum burgath in Limerico, cum omnibus pertineatiis suis. Quare volo et firmiter praecipio, quod praefati abbas et monachi habeant et teneant omnia praenominata, cum omnibus pertinentiis suis, libere et quiete, bene et honorifice, pacifice, integre et plenarie, in bosco et in plano, in viis et semitis, in pratis, pascuis et pasturis, in aquis et molendinis, in stagnis et vivariis, in maris et mariseis, in piseationibus et piseariis,...turbariis, in vivariis et leporiis, in occlesiis et capellis, et in omnibus aliis libertatibus et liberis consuetudinibus, et omnibus aisiamentis quae in praedictis terris sunt et esse possunt.
Concessi etiam eisdem
abbati et monachis eandem liberatem quam et magister domus ipsorum, seil.
Saveine, habere dignoseitur; se. sach et soch, et tholf et them, et infangthef,
et outfangther, et duedum, et fureas et follas, et judicium ferri et aquae.
Insuper...ut ipsi et homines sui sint quieti a tolneto, pontagio, stallagio
et pannagio per totam terram meam. Et volo ut sint quieti ab omnibus causis
et querelis, et placitis ballivorum et praepositorum hundredi; et a pultura
serjanorum, et de rewardo forestariorum, et forestae; et de omnibus aliis
causis, et querelis et placitis ad me et haerdes pertineutibus. Et volo,
ut habeant et teneant omnes rationabiles donationes tenentium meorum, dquas
cis conferre volucrint in eleemosynam &e.
Translated into English as follows:
Theobald Fitzwalter, chief butler of Ireland, to all persons...greetings. Know that I for the love of God...have given and granted, and by this my present written instrument have confirmed in absolute and perpetual gift to God, and to blessed Mary, and to the abbot and monks of Uaithne, in the cantrel of Uaithne O’Cahalan, and of Uaithne O’Cliaeh, the entire tract or estate of Fidhenmhaide (wood of the stare—Mhaidbuie?) in which the manor of Clonkeen is situated, with half the stream of the Mulkear, as far as the aforesaid estate borders on the said Mulkear river, with all its appurtenances defined in a reasonable manner; namely by the following limits; on the north side (of the Mulkear) by the river Clodach, where it falls into the river Mulkear, ascending to Ballyvara and Killinagariff, with all its appurtenances; and from Killenagrariff along the same river up as far as the Hill country, and following the Clodach’s course around the mountains; and then along the outskirts of the mountains towards the east, descending to lake Grean; and thence along the river Mulkear, which issues from said lake, descending as far as the abbey. And besides, one Knight’s fief which is called Dromelia, in wood and in plain, of the land nearest the river Mulkear on the south side, over against the manor of Clonkeen, and the land north of the Mulkear, which is called Ballyguy, as far as the aforesaid fief borders on the said river Mulkear, with the entire half of same river, and with all its appurtenances, as far as Boher between Caherionlis and Dromelia, and its other reasonable allotments. And one town-lot in (the city of) Limerick to be held by burgage, with all its appurtenances.
Wherefore I wish and strictly enjoin, that the aforesaid abbot and monks do have and hold all the aforenamed, with all things pertaining to them, freely and undisturbedly, will and honourably, peacefully, entirely and fully, in wood and plain, in high-ways and bye-ways, in meadows, fields and pastures, in rivers and mills, in lakes and fish-ponds, in fens and marshes, in fisheries and fishing-grounds, ...in turbaries, in parks and warrens, in churches and oratories, and in all other immunities and free usages, and in all privileges, that are and may be in the aforesaid lands.
I have likewise granted to the same abbot and monks the same liberty which the head of their house, namely Savigny, is known to possess ; that is, the jurisdiction of sae and soe (the right of holding trials and imposing fines within the manor, Flanagan, Man. Engl. & Irish History page 29) and tol (exemption from custom for commodities and for all things bought and sold, Chartul., St. Mary’s Abbey,) and them (right to the offspring of the villeins wherever born, ib) and infangthef (power to judge any robber taken within their fee, Webster), and outfangthef (the right to try robbers of their territory captured outside their fee, Chartul.) and the right to hold trial by combat, and to erect gallows (Braeton, volume 1, page 444) and pillories, and to hold trial by fire (red-hot iron) and (boiling water). Moreover...that they and their men be exempt from custom, bridge-toll, rent for stalls in markets &e., and from rent for mast throughout my whole territory. And I wish them to be exempt from all suits and actions, and ordinances of bailiffs and overseers of districts ; and from the legal exactions of sergeants, and from remuneration of forest-keepers and forest-dues; and from all other suits, and actions & ordinances pertaining to me and my heirs. And I wish, that they have and hold all reasonable donations of my tenants, which these shall be pleased to bestow on them by way of alm, &e.
Among the witnesses to the "Foundation Chart," dated 1205, are W. de Burgo and G. de Kentowell (Cantwell).
The boundaries of the abbey lands here given can all be clearly traced at present; they are identical with those of Abington (Murroe and Boher) parish in modern times; only regarding the ancient site of "lake Grey" is there any uncertainty. My belief is, that this vanished lake, of which even a tradition is not preserved in the locality, covered the low lands along the present Dead River and Pallasbeg to the present bounds of Murroe parish, as the Carter represents the Mulkear issuing from it. The lake must have been fed by the Bilboa river and the streams to the east that now unite to form the Mulkear. The lake evidently took its name from the hill & parish of Grean to the south of it.
I am not aware, that the tributary of the Mulkear running through Barrington’s Bridge has been known in modern days by the name of Clodach; in Basset’s map of Tipperary its upper parts are called the Annagh, and the Clare river.
Nowhere could I find how much land was contained in the "thend;" the Charter makes the term synonymous with "fundus," which meant an estate of any considerable size. In an Irish Inquisition taken in the reign of Henry VIII, I find it called "Theodum" Latin, without any clue to its extent.
The cantred of "Wodency O’Cathelan" and "Wodency O’Flian" included the two baronies of Uaithne Tire in Tipperary and Uaithne Cliach in Limerick. The O’Cahalans (and MacKeoghs ) were ancient Lords of the Uaithnes; hence the first name; the second name of Flian must be a misprint for Cliach, which was the name of the Limerick Uaithne, the northern part of which is now called Woneybeg, the southern portion, as far as Kilteely being included in another barony at present. At a later date the O’Cahalans and Mackeoghs were subdued by the O’Mulryans, who came from Leinster early in the 13th century and became chiefs of that country. The tomb of the last known chieftain, William O’Mulryan—princeps pationis suae—was in Abington cemetery at a comparatively late date, but seems to have perished in the barbarous demolition of the abbey buildings, that lay near the river. This chief died in 1632. Dinelly, writing in 1681, has left a complete sketch of the abbey ruins, as they stood at this date.
Dr. John O’Donovan says, that Ryan of Ballymackeogh was senior representative of this family; but that the Ballymakeogh branch was extinct when he wrote in 1840. Edmund O’Ryan of Bansha and George Ryan of Inch were then, according to him, considered the nearest representatives; but for all this he cites no authority. The Earl of Ormonde with an army attacked and destroyed O’Mulryan’s Castle in 1452. This castle is said by our annalists to have been at Uaithne or Abington—I suppose on the site now occupied by Abington House close to the bridge, once a residence of Lord Cloncurry, according to Fitzgerald.
There is extant a letter of certain monks of Abington to the Earl of Ormonde, begging him to remove from office an abbot—a mere Irishman—elected in their monastery through the influence of the O’Mulryan! MaeWalter seems to have given the monks all the jurisdictin he himself had over the territory from the King of England; but we know from history that grants at that early period to the Anglo-Norman settlers were not worth much more than the parchment, on which they were written. The native chiefs were the real lords of territories outside the Pale then and for centuries afterwards ; in the case of the monks, however they seem to have offered no resistance, and apparently yielded all the claims granted. The Abbot of Uaithne was one of the nine Cistercians, who sat in the Irish house of Lords, as spiritual peers.
I doubt if I have rendered ‘follas’ correctly by ‘pillories.’ The ordinary meaning would be tuckmille or bleacheries; but as I could find no evidence of restriction on Irish manufactures at that early date, I conjectured that some copyist wrote it by mistake for ‘collas,’ which in low Latin has some affinity with collistrigium (pillory). It may be objected, that the pillory was almost unknown in Ireland, being a Saxon instrument of punishment; still there is no reason why an Anglo-Norman should not grant the right to such, as his own royal patent most likely contained it.
In the fifth year of Elizabeth the abbey and its lands were granted for ever to Peter Walshe, whose name frequently occurs in the history of that period as a most active agent of hers, for the annual sum of L57 2 3, Irish money. In the 18th year of James I, Sir Edward Walshe was seized of the townlands of Cappanuke, Dromsallagh Cappereullen, Dromelagh, Clonsingle, Farnane, Tathreigh and Clanstale (Glenstall), with several other townlands, the names of which I am unable to identify (Archdall). Though historians are unanimous in placing the O’Mulryan’s residence at Abington, the above name of Rathreigh (correctly Rathrigh fort of the King) would seem to indicate Rath Castle as the true location.
There is another ruined castle in the abbey territory, which was celebrated in former days—Brittas castle, residence of the Lords Brittas, members of the Burke family in Connaught, a branch of which settled, soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion, in Limerick county. Two of this family were created Barons, one of Castleconnell and the other of Brittas. Both titles became forfeit under Cromewell and their owners were "transplanted" to Connaught, but returned after the Restoration. They were, however, again and finally forfeited for adhesion to James II.
The Brittas branch produced one very remarkable man—Sir John Burke—a rebel according to English and Protestant historians; but a martyr according to native writers. The Hibernia Pacata in vain tries to degrade him in the eyes of posterity. He was hanged in Limerick in 1607 (some say in 1610), nominally for treason but in reality an account of his religion—for harbouring priests and having Mass celebrated in his castle of Brittas. While awaiting execution he was offered the restoration of his estates with new honours, on condition of conforming ; but he heroically preferred a martyr’s crown. How very different from some of the chiefs of his name and kindred, who, without any impending danger of death, afterwards bartered their priceless faith for dross like that he so nobly spurned.
I give a translation of the account of his martyrdom in O’Sullivan’s Historia Cathelica, tome 4, lib, 1. C. 3:
"The English hasten to enforce the royal edict (of James I) raving furiously both against priests & those who gave them means of living. Sir John Burke, noble by; descent and renowned for piety and the reputation of other virtues, was justly esteemed the eminent patron of priests. His castle of Brittas was like a church, whither flocked both priests for the celebration of masses, and the neighbouring populace for the purpose of assisting there at. Where, one day while a priest is celebrating, the castle is suddenly beset by English cavalry. John withstands the attack until the priest completes the sacrifice. But when the priest, after putting off the sacred vestments, had put on the dress of a laie, as is customary, going out among the people as a laie, he is recognised and seized by the Protestants. John mounts his horse and with his armed retainers rescues the priest from the Protestants, and sets him at liberty. On which account he is soon after closely beseiged in the same castle by five companies of soldiers. Having defended the castle for fifteen days against their attacks with only five companions, at last forced by hunger he made a rush by night through the midst of the enemy, and, with the loss of John O’Hollohan, escaped unhurt with the remaining four. A few days after he was captured by the Protestants at Carrick-on-Suir and sent to Limerick city. Where afflicted many days with the darkness and stench of a gloomy prison, when he had refused to listen to the doctrines of the Protestant preachers by stopping his ears with his fingers and vociferating against them, and had signified his preference of the Catholic religion to the proffered title of Baron, to other rewards and to his own life, he was done to death (by hanging). Two women, arraigned for having concealed him, are said to have been thrown alive into blazing fires, one of them at Carrick-on-Suir, the other at Waterford (Menapiae)."
About a mile from Castleconnell on the property of Lord Massy is an historic rock—"The Inauguration Stone" of some native chief, most likely of O’Conaing, the Milesian Prince of that territory before it fell into the hands of the Burkes: though it is not improbable that these latter also made use of this stone on their accession, like the native chiefs. For it is likely they too followed the example of the western Burkes in their adoption of many Irish customs. The rock, if my memory does not mislead me, is nearly circular in shape and flat on top, about seven feet in diameter and some two feet above ground. It bears a very distinct imprint of a human foot, and another of a dog’s paw, a horse shoe, all rather large. The poet Spenser, in his View of the State of Ireland, says that it was usual for the new chief to stand on the stone at his inauguration, with his foot on the impression, which was supposed to have been made by the foot of the first chief of the sept, and there receive the wand and take the oath of his office. Spenser makes no mention of the dog’s paw, nor of a sword-cut in the edge of the stone, which is very deep in that at Hermitage. This stone, as far as I am aware, is unknown to our antiquarians. The peasantry of the locality attribute the foot-print to St. Patrick!
Haverty, in his History
of Ireland, quotes Camden for the statement, that Sir William Burke
of Castleconnell died of joy on being created a Baron for his loyalty to
Elizabeth. Two of his sons were killed in a battle with FitzMaurice, cousin
of the Earl of Desmond. Haverty thinks the battle was fought at Barrington’s
Bridge—ad vadam semite or Beal atha-an-Bherin, says O’Sullivan.
It strikes me that this Irish name is the present Ballyrarra, the present
name of the district to the west of the Clodach.
The Donovan Seal is
CREST—"A White Falcon Alighting."
ARMS—The Hand Grasping an Old Irish Sword with a Serpant Entwined, and Three Golden Balls."
MOTTO—"In Deo faciemus Virtutem." Their Motto for a Time had been "Croom a boo."