Corcu Loígde

Last updated

Corcu Loígde
Parent house Dáirine / Érainn
Founded2nd century AD
Founder Lugaid Loígde
Current headnone, although modern descendants of the last O'Driscoll princes are known [1]
Final ruler(Sir) Fineen O'Driscoll, Princeps Corca Laidhe [2]
Dissolution17th century AD
Cadet branches O'Leary of Iveleary

The Corcu Loígde (Corcu Lóegde, Corco Luigde, Corca Laoighdhe, Laidhe), meaning Gens of the Calf Goddess, [3] [4] also called the Síl Lugdach meic Itha, were a kingdom centred in West County Cork who descended from the proto-historical rulers of Munster, the Dáirine , of whom they were the central royal sept. They took their name from Lugaid Loígde "Lugaid of the Calf Goddess", a King of Tara and High King of Ireland, son of the great Dáire Doimthech (a quo Dáirine). A descendant of Lugaid Loígde, and their most famous ancestor, is the legendary Lugaid Mac Con, who is listed in the Old Irish Baile Chuinn Chétchathaig . Closest kin to the Corcu Loígde were the Dál Fiatach princes of the Ulaid.

In ancient Rome, a gens, plural gentes, was a family consisting of all those individuals who shared the same nomen and claimed descent from a common ancestor. A branch of a gens was called a stirps. The gens was an important social structure at Rome and throughout Italy during the period of the Roman Republic. Much of an individual's social standing depended on the gens to which he belonged. Certain gentes were considered patrician, others plebeian, while some had both patrician and plebeian branches. The importance of membership in a gens declined considerably in imperial times.

County Cork County in the Republic of Ireland

County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is the largest and southernmost county of Ireland, situated in the province of Munster and named after the city of Cork, Ireland's second-largest city. The Cork County Council is the local authority for the county. Its largest market towns are Mallow, Macroom, Midleton, and Skibbereen. In 2016, the county's population was 542,868, making it the third-most populous county in Ireland. Notable Corkonians include Michael Collins, Jack Lynch, and Sonia O'Sullivan.

Munster province in Ireland

Munster is one of the provinces of Ireland, in the south west of Ireland. In early Ireland, the Kingdom of Munster was one of the kingdoms of Gaelic Ireland ruled by a "king of over-kings". Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into counties for administrative and judicial purposes. In later centuries, local government legislation has seen further sub-division of the historic counties.



The Corcu Loígde were the rulers of Munster, and likely of territories beyond the province, until the early 7th century AD, when their ancient alliance with the Kingdom of Osraige fell apart as the Eóganachta rose to power. Many peoples formerly subject to the Corcu Loígde then transferred their allegiance to the Eóganachta, most notably the influential Múscraige, an Érainn people related only very distantly to the Corcu Loígde. The Múscraige became the chief facilitators for the Eóganachta in their rise to power. Uí Néill interference has also been suggested as a major factor, [5] motivated by a desire to see no more Kings of Tara from the Corcu Loígde.

Eóganachta historic Irish dynasty

The Eóganachta or Eoghanachta were an Irish dynasty centred on Cashel which dominated southern Ireland from the 6/7th to the 10th centuries, and following that, in a restricted form, the Kingdom of Desmond, and its offshoot Carbery, to the late 16th century. By tradition the dynasty was founded by Conall Corc but named after his ancestor Éogan, the firstborn son of the semi-mythological 3rd-century king Ailill Aulom. This dynastic clan-name, for it was never in any sense a 'surname,' should more accurately be restricted to those branches of the royal house which descended from Conall Corc, who established Cashel as his royal seat in the late 5th century.

The Múscraighe were an important Érainn people of Munster, descending from Cairpre Músc, son of Conaire Cóem, a High King of Ireland. Closely related were the Corcu Duibne, Corcu Baiscind, both of Munster, and also the Dál Riata of Ulster and Scotland, all being referred to as the Síl Conairi in Irish and Scottish legends. A more distant ancestor was the legendary monarch Conaire Mór, son of Eterscél, son of Íar, son of Dedu mac Sin.

The Uí Néill are Irish and Scottish dynasties who claim descent from Niall Noigiallach, a historical King of Tara who died c. 405.

However, from Aimend, daughter of Óengus Bolg, the Corcu Loígde are related to the inner circle of the Eóganachta through a legendary marriage, as she became the wife of Conall Corc. [6] [7] [8] They enjoyed a privileged status in the history of the new dynasty. As former rulers of the province the Corcu Loígde were not a tributary kingdom, a status also enjoyed by the Osraige.

In Irish mythology and genealogy, Aimend is the daughter of Óengus Bolg, king of the Dáirine or Corcu Loígde. She marries Conall Corc, founder of the Eóganachta dynasties, and through him is an ancestor of the "inner circle" septs of Eóganacht Chaisil, Eóganacht Glendamnach, and Eóganacht Áine, who established the powerful kingship of Cashel. Details of the story imply she may have originally been a goddess.

Óengus Bolg, son of Lugaid, son of Mac Nia, son of Mac Con, son of Lugaid Loígde, son of Dáire Doimthech, was a king of the Corcu Loígde, and an ancestor of the Eóganachta "inner circle" through his daughter Aimend, married to Conall Corc. This serves to legitimize the coming rule of the Eóganachta in Munster, still ruled by the powerful Dáirine, of whom the Corcu Loígde are the sovereign royal sept.

In the 12th century they had their kingdom erected into the Diocese of Ross, and their O'Driscoll lords played a significant maritime role in the region. [9] Coffey, O'Leary, Hennessy, and Flynn (O'Flynn Arda) were other families of importance, [10] [11] as well as the literary family of Dinneen. O'Hea, [12] Cronin, Dunlea, and other families also may belong to the Corcu Loígde.

The Diocese of Ross was a separate diocese situated in south-west Ireland. Following the Reformation, there were two dioceses. In the Church of Ireland, the diocese is now part of the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. In the Roman Catholic Church, it is part of the Diocese of Cork and Ross. In the 19th century, an exclave of the diocese existed around that part of the Beara peninsula in County Cork including the area around Glengariff though not as far east as Bantry. The main diocesan territory was centred on the towns of Baltimore, Skibbereen, Rosscarbery and Clonakilty which lie along the modern national road N71.

OLeary family name; Irish name, anglicized version of the original Gaelic patronym Ó Laoghaire

O'Leary is an Irish name, an anglicized version of the original Gaelic patronym Ó Laoghaire or Ó Laoire.

Hennessy is an Irish surname, being the anglicised form of Ó hAonghusa. Its first appearance in Irish records comes in the late 16th century, created by the Foster’s of Western England, in an effort to conceal their British heritage on Irish soil. Families of this name were found in Kingdom of Uí Failghe and Kingdom of Desmond. Notable people with the surname include:

A substantial part of the profitable maritime lands once dominated solely by the Corcu Loídge were incorporated into the medieval Barony of Carbery , in which the O'Driscolls would retain some status as one of the three princely families underneath the MacCarthy Reaghs. Some of the western portion of their territory became the Barony of Bantry.

MacCarthy Reagh

The MacCarthy Reagh dynasty are a branch of the great MacCarthy dynasty, Kings of Desmond, deriving from the ancient Eóganachta, of the central Eóganacht Chaisil sept.

See also School of Ross .

Annalistic references

See Annals of Inisfallen

Legendary pedigree

Several of the following were misplaced chronologically by later medieval synchronists.

Dáire Doimthech, alias Dáire Sírchréchtach, son of Sithbolg, was a legendary King of Tara and High King of Ireland, and eponymous ancestor of the proto-historical Dáirine and historical Corcu Loígde of Munster. A son of his was Lugaid Loígde, an ancestor of Lugaid Mac Con. In the Scéla Mosauluim, Dáire Doimthech is referred to as one of the five kings of Tara from Munster, or alternatively one of five Dáires to rule at Tara.

Lugaid Loígde "Lugaid of the Calf Goddess", also known as Lugaid mac Dáire, was a legendary King of Tara and High King of Ireland. He is a son of Dáire Doimthech, ancestor of the Dáirine, and gives his epithet to their principal royal sept, the Corcu Loígde. A descendant of Lugaid, with whom he may be to some extent identical, is the famous Mac Con, listed in the Old Irish kinglist Baile Chuinn Chétchathaig as Mac Con macc aui (moccu) Lugde Loígde.

Lugaid Mac Con, often known simply as Mac Con, was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, a High King of Ireland. He belonged to the Corcu Loígde, and thus to the Dáirine. His father was Macnia mac Lugdach, and his mother was Sadb ingen Chuinn, daughter of the former High King Conn Cétchathach. Mac Con may be to some extent identical with another legendary King of Tara from the Dáirine, Lugaid Loígde.

Another Irish monarch belonging to the Corcu Loígde was Eochaid Apthach, [13] but if in any way historical he has not only been misplaced chronologically but cannot be even placed in the above pedigree due to the extensive corruption of the supposed generations preceding "Bolg" (Sithbolg). It was early noted by John O'Donovan and has been noted repeatedly by all his successors that the Corcu Loígde genealogies are among the most confused in the entire Irish corpus, so the above scheme should be understood with that in mind.

One important generation not reproduced here is that of Deda (a quo Clanna Dedad), the most recent common ancestor of the Dál Fiatach and Dál Riata of Ulster and Scotland in several official pedigrees. However, variants of his name can be found in the early generations of several Corcu Loígde pedigrees: Deaghmanrach, [14] Deadhmannra and Deagha Dearg. [15]

Legend and history

A peculiar fact about the Corcu Loígde is their almost total lack of political activity following the mid Early Middle Ages. Having formerly held sway over a vast territory, they appear to have almost completely disintegrated over the course of the 7th century, never making any serious attempts to recover what was at that time the largest kingdom in Ireland. Thus over the next centuries their former grandeur became more and more the stuff of legend, around which the younger kingdoms built their own origin legends. The most well known tale in this cycle is the Cath Maige Mucrama .

Satellite kingdoms

Former satellite kingdoms of the Corcu Loígde, and who may once have been closely related to them, were probably the early medieval sister kingdoms of Uí Fidgenti and Uí Liatháin. Evidence for this is that not only do they appear to have been artificially attached to the stem of the Eóganachta, whose own pedigree is very unreliable before Conall Corc, but that important early septs like the Uí Duach Argetrois of Osraige cannot be definitively attached to the lines of either the Uí Liatháin-Fidgenti or the Corcu Loígde. In addition there were an early line of O'Learys attached to the Uí Fidgenti.

Later centuries

Carbery in Tudor times Barony of Carbery.png
Carbery in Tudor times

By the late 16th century the two most prosperous families remaining were the Ó hEidirsceoil princes, with several castles in and around Baltimore, including Dunasead Castle, and the O'Learys, who had built several castles south of Macroom.

The Ó hEidirsceoil's and Baltimore

The history of the Ó hEidirsceoil clan and the seaside village of Baltimore are inextricably linked. The first historical mention of the Ó hEidirsceoil (anglicised O'Driscoll) clan occurs in the Annals of Inisfallen where the death in 1103 of Conchobar Ua hEtersceóil king of Corcu Loígde was recorded. The surname O'Driscoll is an anglicised form of the Gaelic Ó hEidirsceóil which has the meaning of "diplomat" or "interpreter." (eidir 'between' + scéal 'story', 'news').

The originator of the name is thought to have lived in the 9th century. Prominent in the village today is the restored castle of Dunasead (castle of jewels) which was an Ó hEidirsceoil stronghold built around 1600 as a fortified house probably by Sir Fineen Ó hEidirsceoil, who was a knight of Queen Elizabeth I. As the power of the Corcu Loígde alias Dáirine as Kings of Munster, Tara, and a large part of Ireland faded in the Dark Ages, their empire broken up, their center of political power shifted south into the wild country of West Cork, or Ross Carbery as it is known in local history, and this is where the O'Driscoll clan has been prominent throughout history.

Baltimore is a strategic harbour town on Roaringwater Bay located west of Kinsale and east of Mizen Head. Baltimore Harbor is protected by two offshore Islands Cape Clear to the west and Sherkin Island. During the medieval period which was the height of the Ó hEidirsceoil's influence, they had fortresses on these islands as well as near Lough Ine which is a salt water lake on the nearby coast to the east of Baltimore. The Ó hEidirsceoil heritage is territorially associated with these lands around Baltimore, and an oral legend has it that if any seafarer were to land on the Islands of Sherkin or Clear or the mainland of West Carbery, that an Ó hEidirsceoil would require payment of a dockage fee. The Ó hEidirsceoil's were historically a seafaring clan who had up to 100 sailing vessels in their fleet which were used in both fishing and policing the local waters. The Ó hEidirsceoil's in this era were known to trade extensively with France, Portugal and Spain. Merchant ships whether they were foreign or from neighbouring towns such as Waterford when sailed into Ó hEidirsceoil waters were sometimes considered fair game.

Sir Fineen is remembered locally as somewhat of a rogue since as a political expedience he opened the local lands to English "planters" and in doing so saved his homelands from falling to local invasion by the local O'Mahony, O'Leary and MacCarthy clans, with the help of the English whose fleet he harboured. Sir Fineen himself was driven in his dotage to live on a small island in Lough Ine as a recluse and oral history claims that he grew rabbit's floppy ears. He is said to have died in England or Spain on a mission to Queen Elizabeth I whose death preceded his own. His heirs may have survived in Baltimore and abroad but were never again political chiefs in the historical era.

Several years after Sir Fineen's demise, the village of Baltimore suffered a catastrophic defeat as recorded in the Annals of Kinsale, when it was sacked in 1631 by Algerian mercenaries led by a Dungarvan man John Hackett who was later hanged for this crime of revenge. Legend has it that Hackett's boat was seized by the Algerians and that he refused to guide them into Kinsale but instead led the Barbary coast pirates to Baltimore claiming its riches possibly because of the historical dispute between Waterford and the Ó hEidirsceoils. Ironically, nearly all of the 107 captives that were taken from Baltimore by the Turks were for the most part the English "planters," who were made into galley slaves or harem girls and only two of whom were ever returned to Ireland.

The Ó hEidirsceoil's appear to have survived the Sack of Baltimore quite well either in the offshore islands or by clinging to the highlands of "The Hill" overlooking Baltimore's cove where the pirates landed, or retreating to the surrounding hollows or to the upstream town of Skibbereen. To the current time the Ó hEidirsceoil's claim ownership of "The Hill" in Baltimore as well as many lots and farms in the Islands as well as on the nearby River Ilen and to many other properties in West Cork.

The O'Learys

French wine

Corcu Loígde trade with France dates from the Middle Ages. The Ó hEidirsceoils are known from an early time to have had a trading fleet active along the French Atlantic Coast in the Bay of Biscay, as far south as Gascony, importing wine back to their region and into Munster. [16]

Hennessy Cognac

After serving as a mercenary for Louis XV of France, the Corcu Loígde nobleman [ citation needed ] Richard Hennessy would establish his famous Hennessy Cognac on land given him by the king in compensation. Several of his descendants have gone on to distinguish themselves in French politics, notably Jean Hennessy. [17]

See also


  1. Ó Murchadha, p. 185
  2. The O'Driscolls of West Cork
  3. Charles-Edwards 2000, p. 186
  4. O'Rahilly 1946, p. 3
  5. Charles-Edwards
  6. Byrne 2001, pp. 166,193
  7. Charles-Edwards 2000, p. 611
  8. Hull 1947
  9. Byrne 2001, p. 180
  10. O'Donovan 1849
  11. O'Hart 1892
  12. The O'Hea are also given a Dál gCais pedigree by O'Hart, pp. 218–9. Whether this is accurate, erroneous, or there are two distinct septs is difficult to determine.
  13. Irish Monarchs of the Race of Ithe
  14. O'Donovan 1849, p. 25
  15. O'Donovan 1849, p. 57 (Genealogy of O'Driscoll)
  16. recently mentioned by Charles Doherty in 'Érainn', in Seán Duffy (ed.), Medieval Ireland: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. 2005. p. 156
  17. François Dubasque, Les frères Hennessy,deux riches héritiers en politiques, Arkheia, Montauban, 2008.

Related Research Articles

Mongfind —meaning "fair hair" or "white hair"—is a figure from Irish legend. She is said to have been the wife, of apparent Munster origins, of the legendary High King Eochaid Mugmedón and mother of his eldest three sons, Brión, Ailill and Fiachrae, ancestors of the historical Connachta. She was Eochaid's first wife; his second wife, Cairenn, gave birth to Niall of the Nine Hostages. Several tales depict Mongfind as an adversary of Niall. Mongfind is also said to have been the sister of Crimthann mac Fidaig, King of Munster and the next High King of Ireland, whom she is said to have killed with poison in a bid to make her son king. She drank the poisoned drink to convince Crimthann, and died soon after at Samhain.

Crimthann mac Fidaig Irish politician

Crimthann Mór, son of Fidach, also written Crimthand Mór, was a semi-mythological king of Munster and High King of Ireland of the 4th century. He gained territory in Britain and Gaul, but died poisoned by his sister Mongfind. It is possible that he was also recognised as king of Scotland or Alba. As his Gaelic name means fox, Crimthand Mór mac Fidaig becomes Great Fox, son of Woodsman (Fidach) in English. This Crimthann is to be distinguished from two previous High Kings of Ireland of the same name, two Kings of Leinster, and another King of Munster, among others. Importantly, he is included in the Baile Chuinn Chétchathaig (summary), and is thus the last High King of Ireland from Munster until Brian Bóruma, over six hundred years later.

Dál Fiatach

Dál Fiatach was a Gaelic dynastic-grouping and the name of their territory in the north-east of Ireland during the Middle Ages. It was part of the over-kingdom of Ulaid, and they were its main ruling dynasty for most of Ulaid's history. Their territory lay in eastern County Down. Their capital was Dún Lethglaise (Downpatrick) and from the 9th century their main religious site was Bangor Abbey.

Colmán of Cloyne Irish monk and poet

Saint Colmán of Cloyne, also Colmán mac Léníne, was a monk, founder and patron of Cluain Uama, now Cloyne, County Cork, Ireland, and one of the earliest known Irish poets to write in the vernacular.

Corc mac Luigthig, also called Conall Corc, Corc of Cashel, and Corc mac Láire, is the hero of Irish language tales which form part of the origin legend of the Eóganachta, a group of kindreds which traced their descent from Conall Corc and took their name from his ancestor Éogan Mór. The early kindred they belonged to are known as the Deirgtine. He was probably a grandson of Ailill Flann Bec, and possible cousins were Dáire Cerbba and the famous Crimthann mac Fidaig. The latter is his opponent in a celebrated cycle of stories.

Kingdom of Munster kingdom in south Ireland

The Kingdom of Munster was a kingdom of Gaelic Ireland which existed in the south-west of the island from at least the 1st century BC until 1118. According to traditional Irish history found in the Annals of the Four Masters, the kingdom originated as the territory of the Clanna Dedad, an Érainn tribe of Irish Gaels. Some of the early kings were prominent in the Red Branch Cycle such as Cú Roí and Conaire Mór. For a few centuries they were competitors for the High Kingship or Ireland, but ultimately lost out to the Connachta, descendants of Conn Cétchathach. The kingdom had different borders and internal divisions at different times during its history.

Ólchobar mac Flainn was a supposed King of Munster from the Uí Fidgenti of County Limerick, allies and/or distant cousins of the Eóganachta. He was the first non-Eóganachta to be considered king in some sources. He belonged to a branch of the Uí Fidgenti known as the Uí Conaill Gabra, ancestors of the later famous septs of O'Connell of Kerry and Ó Coileáin of Carbery. His father Flann mac Erca and brother Scandlán mac Flainn were kings of the Uí Fidgenti.

The Dáirine, later known dynastically as the Corcu Loígde, were the proto-historical rulers of Munster before the rise of the Eóganachta in the 7th century AD. They appear to have derived from the Darini of Ptolemy and to have been related to the Ulaid and Dál Riata of Ulster and Scotland. In support of this, their ancestors appear frequently in the Ulster Cycle, where they are known as the Clanna Dedad, and are the killers of Cú Chulainn. All are considered Érainn. In historical times the Dáirine were represented, as stated, by the Corcu Loígde, and probably by the Uí Fidgenti and Uí Liatháin, as well as a few other early historical kindreds of both Munster and Ulster. In ancient genealogical schemes, the historical Dál Fiatach of Ulaid also belong to the Dáirine.

The Deirgtine or Clanna Dergthened were the proto-historical ancestors of the historical Eóganachta dynasties of Munster. Their origins are unclear but they may have been of fairly recent Gaulish derivation. Some evidence exists for their having been active in Roman Britain.

Deda mac Sin was a prehistoric king of the Érainn of Ireland, possibly of the 1st century BC. Variant forms or spellings include Dedu, Dedad, and Dega. He is the eponymous ancestor of the Clanna Dedad, and may also have been a King of Munster.

Ó hEidirsceóil family name

Ó hEidirsceoil is a Gaelic Irish clan who were rulers of the Dáirine sept of the Corcu Loígde until the Earl Modern period. The name is most prominent in County Cork and County Kerry. Their ancestors were Kings of Munster until the rise of the Eóganachta in the 7th century. At the start of the 13th century, three prominent branches of the family came into existence; Ó hÉidrisceoil Mór, Ó hÉidrisceoil Óg and Ó hÉidrisceoil Bhéarra. The Ó prefix was dropped by many in the Ireland of the 17th and 18th centuries.


Sites of interest