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Kingdom of Desmond
A map featuring a much reduced Desmond in 1450, marked as MacCarthy Mór.
|Capital||Killarney, Lough Leane and Cahersiveen|
|Common languages||Middle Irish, Early Modern Irish, Latin|
|Religion|| Catholic Christianity |
|King / Prince|
|Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh|
|Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh|
|Today part of|
The Kingdom of Desmond (Irish : Deasmhumhain, meaning "South Munster ") was a historic kingdom in southwestern Ireland. It was founded in 1118 by king Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh, when the Treaty of Glanmire formally divided the Kingdom of Munster into Desmond and Thomond (Tuadh-Mhumhain, "North Munster"). It comprised all of what is now County Cork and most of County Kerry. Desmond was ruled by the Mac Cárthaigh (MacCarthy) dynasty. Other clans within the kingdom included the O'Sullivans and O'Donovans. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland in the late 12th century, the eastern half of Desmond was conquered by the Anglo-Normans and became the Earldom of Desmond, ruled by the FitzGeralds and Fitzmaurices. The king of Desmond, Diarmaid Mac Cárthaigh, submitted to Henry II of England, but the western half of Desmond lived on as a semi-independent Gaelic kingdom. It was often at war with the Anglo-Normans. Fínghin Mac Carthaigh's victory over the Anglo-Normans at the Battle of Callann (1261) helped preserve Desmond's independence. The kings of Desmond founded sites such as Blarney Castle, Ballycarbery Castle, Muckross Abbey and Kilcrea Friary. Following the Nine Years' War of the 1590s, Desmond became part of the Kingdom of Ireland.
Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic languages family, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family. Irish originated in Ireland and was historically spoken by Irish people throughout Ireland. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of habitual but non-traditional speakers across the country.
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 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.
From its inception in 1118 through 1596, the Kingdom of Desmond was ruled by the family of the MacCarthy Mór, (i.e., the "Great MacCarthy"). For centuries the MacCarthy Mórs reigned as Kings of Desmond, and maintained significant demesne lands (manors) throughout the kingdom. Principal seats were at Pallis Castle (near present-day Killarney), Castle Lough (on Killarney's Lough Leane), and Ballycarbery Castle (near Cahersiveen on the Ring of Kerry).
Killarney is a town in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland. The town is on the northeastern shore of Lough Leane, part of Killarney National Park, and is home to St Mary's Cathedral, Ross Castle, Muckross House and Abbey, the Lakes of Killarney, MacGillycuddy's Reeks, Purple Mountain, Mangerton Mountain, Paps Mountain, the Gap of Dunloe and Torc Waterfall. Its natural heritage, history and location on the Ring of Kerry make Killarney a popular tourist destination.
Lough Leane is the largest of the three lakes of Killarney. The River Laune flows from the lake into the Dingle Bay to the northwest.
Ballycarbery Castle is a castle 3 kilometres (2 mi) from Cahersiveen, County Kerry, Ireland. The castle is high on a grass hill facing the sea and is a short distance from Cahergall Fort and Leacanabuile Fort.
After the death of King Donal IX MacCarthy Mór in 1596, and following the effective end of the Gaelic Order after the Battle of Kinsale (1602), the former Kingdom of Desmond was partitioned between County Cork and County Kerry (in 1606).
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.
County Kerry is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and forms part of the province of Munster. It is named after the Ciarraige who lived in part of the present county. The population of the county was 147,707 at the 2016 census.
Subsequent to the end of the MacCarthy Mór sovereignty in Desmond, descendants entitled to the highest Gaelic designation of "Chief of the Name" of the MacCarthy Mór family, are also properly styled as Princes of Desmond. A secondary title of the MacCarthy Mór would derive from the lordship designation of his sept.
The Chief of the Name, or in older English usage Captain of his Nation, is the recognised head of a family or clan. The term has sometimes been used as a title in Ireland and Scotland.
Generational offshoots (cadet family lines) of the Royal House of Desmond received their own territories and titles – known as appanages of the royal house. Those MacCarthy Mór cadet branches which did not evolve to the MacCarthy Mór chief-of-the-name status, became chiefs-of-the-name of their own princely septs, i.e. MacCarthy Reagh of Carbery, MacCarthy of Muskerry, and MacDonough MacCarthy of Duhallow.
Carbery, or the Barony of Carbery, was once the largest barony in Ireland, and essentially a small, semi-independent kingdom on the southwestern coast of Munster, in what is now County Cork, from its founding in the 1230s by Donal Gott MacCarthy to its gradual decline in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His descendants, the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty, were its ruling family. The kingdom officially ended in 1606 when Donal of the Pipes, 17th Prince of Carbery chose to surrender his territories to the Crown of England; but his descendants maintained their position in Carbery until the Cromwellian confiscations, following their participation in the Irish Rebellion of 1641.
Duhallow is a barony located in the north-western part of County Cork, Ireland.
Because of their location, it was the MacCarthys of Muskerry and Carbery who ended up fighting the majority of the battles against the Normans – mainly the FitzGerald Earls of Desmond – while defending and expanding the Gaelic realms. By the mid-sixteenth century, the main line of the MacCarthys Mor had largely withdrawn to Kerry, so any modern claims that they are still entitled to the nominal overlordship of Carbery and Muskerry might be rejected by any extant descendants of these branches.
The Normans are an ethnic group that arose in Normandy, a northern region of France, from contact between Viking settlers and indigenous Franks and Gallo-Romans. The settlements in France followed a series of raids on the French coast from Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, and they gained political legitimacy when the Viking leader Rollo agreed to swear fealty to King Charles III of West Francia. The distinct cultural and ethnic identity of the Normans emerged initially in the first half of the 10th century, and it continued to evolve over the succeeding centuries.
The title of Earl of Desmond has been held historically by lords in Ireland, first as a title outside of the peerage system and later as part of the Peerage of Ireland.
One of three principalities within the original Kingdom of Desmond, Carbery, under the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty founded by Donal Gott MacCarthy in the mid-13th century, achieved independence from the overlordship of the MacCarthy Mórs of Desmond. Thus, the MacCarthy territories were actually over a fourth again greater outside of Desmond proper, due to the independent and considerable principality of Carbery, directly to the south/southeast of Desmond.
Principal seats of the Lords/Princes of Carbery were at Kilbrittain Castle (near Kinsale in County Cork), as well as Timoleague Castle (west of Kinsale). Possession of the latter was frequently in dispute with the Norman family of Barry, who were also prominent in West Cork. Some of the more notable sub-lordships under the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty of Carbery included castles at Ballydehob, Benduff, Downeen, Kilcoe, and Kilgobbin, to name but a few.
The MacCarthys of Muskerry, on the other hand, derived more recently from the MacCarthys Mór, and so were (and still are) considered a sept of the main dynasty. This principality of the Kingdom of Desmond began in the 14th century as an appanage of King Cormac Mór MacCarthy Mór (d. 1359) for his second son, Dermod. At various times, because of their adeptness at playing the political game with England, the Lords/Princes of Muskerry also bore various British titles, such as Earl of Clancarty, Viscount Mountcashel, and Baron (Lord) of Blarney.
From its rebuilding in the late 15th century by Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, Blarney Castle, near to Cork city, was the principal seat of the MacCarthys of Muskerry. It was from alleged dialogue between Cormac Teige MacCarthy, the Lord of Blarney, and Queen Elizabeth I of England, that the term "blarney" was coined to mean "empty flattery" or "beguiling talk." It is also from Blarney Castle that the legend of "kissing the Blarney Stone" derives.
Among the numerous sub-infeudations/sub-lordships within the overlordship of the Princes of Muskerry, some of the major ones were: Ballea, Carrignamuck, Carrignavar, Castlecormac, Cloghroe, Cloghphillip, and Downyne.
The third of the princely lines that began as appanages of the MacCarthy Mór dynasty was that of the MacCarthys of Duhallow (Irish : Dúiche Ealla), known as the MacDonough MacCarthys. The Duhallow sept began in the 13th century as an appanage from the then-King of Desmond, Cormac Fionn MacCarthy Mór (r. 1244–1248), to his son Diarmuid (Dermond). It was the Gaelic lordship(s) of Duhallow (and Coshmaing) that occupied the northern frontier of the MacCarthys of Desmond in their sometime struggles with the Norman family of the FitzGeralds, the Earls of Desmond. The principal seat of the Lords of Duhallow was at Kanturk. The family of the MacDonough MacCarthy Lords/Princes of Duhallow became extinct in the 18th century.
As in the other princely appanages of Carbery and Muskerry, Duhallow held overlordship of a number of septs of both comital (ard tiarna) rank – Clanawly, Clonmeen, and Dromagh – as well as baronial (tiarna) rank – e.g., Cappagh, Dromiscane, Kanturk, Kilbolane, Knocktemple, and Lohort, among others.
The sept (clan) of Sliocht Eoghan of Coshmaing ("beside the River Maine") was established in the 14th century by King Cormac Mór MacCarthy Mór (d. 1359) for his third son, Eoghan, as an appanage of the royal house of Desmond. According to Butler, "Of the MacCarthy septs in the Barony of Magunihy, by far the most (88 to 105 ploughlands) was the Sliocht Eoghain Mhoir of Cois Mainge…. The lands of this sept stretched along the whole northern frontier of Magunihy from a point near Castlemaine to the border of Cork."
The head of Sliocht Eoghan of Coshmaing was styled as Lord (Ard Tiarna) of Coshmaing (English: Cosmaigne). The principal seat of the Coshmaing lordship was at Molahiffe, with other castles (sub-lordships) at Fieries and Clonmeallane.
Both inside and outside the territories of the Kingdom of Desmond in southwestern Ireland, there were many families other than the various septs of the MacCarthys. Most prominent of the Norman families in the area were the FitzGeralds (Earls of Desmond), FitzMaurices, Barrys, Barretts, and Roches.
The chief non-MacCarthy Gaelic princes under the MacCarthy Mórs in Desmond were the O'Sullivans. After them were the O'Donoghues, and these two were the only septs who took part in the performance of the MacCarthy inauguration ceremonies – i.e., the bestowal of the White Wand. Also prominent were the O'Callaghans, O'Keeffes, McAuliffes, O'Sheas, [O'Fearris, /O'Fearguis] and others.
Within Carbery, aside from the MacCarthy Reaghs, the most prominent Gaelic families were the princely sept of the O'Donovans, the O'Mahonys, O'Driscolls, O'Dalys, and O'Crowleys. Within Muskerry, prominent non-MacCarthy Gaelic families included the MacSweeneys, O'Learys, O'Spaelains, O'Healys, and O'Riordans.
MacCarthy, also spelled Macarthy, McCarthy or McCarty, is a Gaelic Irish clan originating from Munster, an area they ruled during the Middle Ages. It was and continues to be divided into several great branches. The MacCarthy Reagh, MacCarthy of Muskerry, and MacCarthy of Duhallow dynasties were the three most important of these, after the central or MacCarthy Mór line.
Fínghin mac Donncha Mac Carthaig, 1560–1640, was an Irish prince of the late 16th century and the last credible claimant to the Mac Carthaig Mór title before its suppression by English authority. Mac Carthaig's involvement in the Nine Years' War (1595–1603) led to his arrest by the Crown, and he spent the last 40 years of his life in custody in London. His lands were distributed among his relatives and English colonists.
O'Donovan or Donovan is an Irish surname, also written Donnabháin in certain grammatical contexts, as well as Donndubháin, being originally composed of the elements donn, meaning dark brown or noble, dubh, meaning dark or black, and the augmentative suffix án. Ó derives from the earlier Ua, meaning grandson or descendant. Compare O'Donoghue and O'Sullivan, containing the same elements. The spelling of the name during the 16th and 17th centuries included Donevan, Donevane, Donovane, and other iterations. Pronunciation of the name in Ireland is closest to "Dunaven".
The Mac Cárthaigh Riabhach dynasty are a branch of the MacCarthy dynasty, Kings of Desmond, deriving from the Eóganacht Chaisil sept.
Cormac Mac Cárthaigh was a Gaelic Irish ruler who served as King of Munster. A member of the Mac Cárthaigh clan of the Eóganacht Chaisil, he was the final king of the unified Kingdom of Munster before the realm was divided into the Kingdom of Desmond and Kingdom of Thomond in the aftermath of the Treaty of Glanmire.
Owen MacCarthy Reagh (1520–1594) was the 16th Prince of Carbery from 1576 to 1593. He belonged to the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty. Owen was commonly referred to as "Sir" Owen MacCarthy (McCartie) in the English court records.
Cormac na Haoine (1490–1567) was the 13th Prince of Carbery from 1531–1567. He belonged to the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty.
Finghin MacCarthy Reagh was the 10th Prince of Carbery from 1478 to his death in 1505. He belonged to the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty, and was the eldest son of Dermod an Duna MacCarthy Reagh, 8th Prince of Carbery. He was born in 1425 or 1430.
Domnall Got Mac Carthaigh, died 1251, was the ancestor of the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty of Carbery in the south of Munster in Ireland, and King of Desmond from 1247 or 1248 until the time of his death, after holding the position of tánaiste from 1230.
The MacCarthy dynasty of Muskerry is a branch of the great MacCarthy Mor dynasty, the Kings of Desmond. Their branch descends from Dermod Mor MacCarthy, 1st Lord of Muscry (1310-1367/8), second son of Cormac MacCarthy Mor (1271–1359), King of Desmond.
Donal MacCarthy Reagh (1450/1460–1531) was the 12th Prince of Carbery from 1505 to his death in 1531. He belonged to the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty, and was the son of Finghin MacCarthy Reagh, 10th Prince of Carbery, and Lady Catherine FitzGerald, daughter Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond.
Tadhg na Mainistreach Mac Carthaigh Mór reigned as King of Desmond from 1390/2 to his death in 1428. He was the son of the previous king Domhnall Óg Mac Carthaigh Mór. According to the Annals of Inisfallen Tadhg Mac Carthaigh had the reputation as the greatest wine-drinker in Ireland when he died, but was still "a son worthy of his father." He was married to one Sebán, a daughter of "Garret the earl" This is likely a form of 'Siobhán' which translates as 'Joan,' so Sebán is probably a reference to Joan, a daughter of Gerald FitzGerald, 3rd Earl of Desmond.
Muskerry West is one of the baronies of Ireland, a historical geographical unit of land. Its chief town is Macroom. It is one of 24 baronies in the county of Cork. It may also be viewed as a half barony because sometime before the 1821 census, it was divided from its other half – Muskerry East. Other neighbouring baronies include Duhallow to the north and the Barony of Carbery East to the south.
Muskerry East is one of the baronies of Ireland, an historical geographical unit of land. Its chief town is Ballincollig. It is one of 24 baronies in the county of Cork. It may also be viewed as a half barony because some time before the 1821 census data, it was divided from its other half - Muskerry West. Other neighbouring baronies include Cork to the east, Duhallow to the north and the Barony of Barretts to the north-east.
The Gaelic-Irish Lordship of Kerslawny is the noble title that attaches to the head of the MacCarthy Mór sept known as Sliocht Cormaic of Dunguile. Kerslawny was created in the 15th century as an appanage of the royal house, by then-King of Desmond, Tadhg na Mainistreach Mac Carthaigh Mór, for his second son, Cormac (d.1467). Kerslawny is the anglicisation of the Gaelic-Irish "cois leamhna," meaning "beside the (River) Laune." This area, near present-day Killarney, in County Kerry, Ireland, was the original territory of the sept.
The Lordship of Coshmaing is an historic honorific title associated with the Gaelic nobility of Ireland. The title was created in the 14th century when the then King of Desmond, granted an appanage to one of his sons. As with other such titles in Ireland, it no-longer has any recognition under the law, and has not been used for several hundred years.
The Gaelic-Irish Lordship of Molahiffe was created in the 14th century by Eóghan (Owen) Mór MacCarthy, Lord of Coshmaing, as a grant to his son, Donal. Molahiffe Castle was also the seat of The Paramount Lordship of Cosmaigne. The Gaelic title, Lord (Tiarna/Baron) of Molahiffe, should not be confused with the Baronetcy of Molahiffe, which was an English title held by some of the Browne family after they took possession of former MacCarthy lands at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Alternate spellings of Molahiffe include "Mullahiffe," and, "Moylahiffe."
Katherine Fitzgerald (c.1452-1506) was an Anglo-Irish Noblewoman of the Geraldine's dynasty, during the 15th century. At the time of her birth, her family was one of the most influential houses of Ireland. By her husband, her married name was Mac Carthaigh Riabhach and she became the princess of Carbery from 1477 to 1506.
Donal na Pipi was the 17th Prince of Carbery. from 1593 to 1606, when he surrendered the principality to the English Crown under the policy of Surrender and Regrant. He belonged to the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty as a son of Cormac na Haoine, the 13th Prince of Carbery. His epithet "of the Pipes" originates from when several pipes of wine washed up on the beach at Burren, which was traditionally believed to be a sign of good fortune for him.