The Kingdom of Desmond Association

An historical society focused on royal, nobiliary and genealogical
aspects of this eminent part of Gaelic-Irish history:
The Kingdom of Desmond.

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Please contact the Association by email.  

The address is:

Every effort will be made to respond to any inquiry, and your comments will be appreciated.

News / Communication Items:


September 2011: representatives of MacCarthy Mór, have approached the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains (SCICC) about that body's current process and procedure for seating a Chief-of-the-Name. If the SCICC is still functioning as it was originally intended, MacCarthy Mór should be included, as he: 1) is properly elected by his derbhfine; and, 2) has had the legitimacy of his pedigree confirmed and recorded by the Norroy & Ulster King of Arms. The inquiry went to the O Morchoe who was listed as the contact. Clans of Ireland, Ltd. was also informed of the inquiry on behalf of the MacCarthy Mor, relative to their own interactions with MacCarthys inquiring about a MacCarthy Clan organisation. That is, that the MacCarthys do have a Chief-of-Name again and he is attempting to take his seat on the SCICC, etc.

October 2, 2011: it is our understanding that the SCICC has informed MacCarthy Mor that it will make no further admissions until the Irish government again assumes authority for approving claimants. However, the Irish government in 2003 stated that it would no longer approve claimants to Irish chiefships and formally abolished the 'courtesy recognition' policy which existed from 1944 in 2003. Thus it is difficult to see how the government will now or ever 'reinstitute' the policy.  It is confusing therefore as to when the SCICC will ever make a new admission -- a number of petitions remain without action, some from 2001. MacCarthy Mor based on this information has decided to join a number of other Irish Chiefs who have not made a petition for membership to the SCICC, which at the end of the day is not an 'approval' organisation but simply a grouping/registry for people with similar interests. See the page on Council/Clan Societies on this website.

December 28, 2011 UPDATE: we have been informed that the Office of Chief Herald has reconfirmed in writing that it has no intention of trying to reinstitute a new policy of 'courtesy recognitions' of chiefs-of-name. And that the whole subject of title successions is not part of its brief; July 2012 UPDATE: it has been further confirmed by the Director of the National Library (to whom the Chief Herald reports) that there is no initiative to restore 'courtesy recognition' as a policy. August 2012 UPDATE: The SCICC is still insisting that some form of registration be carried on with the Office of Chief Herald for anyone requesting admission to their group, presentation of 'pedigree' or whatever! Even though the government has said clearly that it is out of the business of certifying anything regarding successions to a chiefship of name!!  September 22, 2012 UPDATE: after a further letter from the SCICC, the Association has informed the SCICC that it will no longer be in touch regarding the admission of the new MacCarthy Mor. This is given the position of the SCICC to still want 'government approval', which to our Association is totally ridiculous and contrary to history and Gaelic law.

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The Association would like to be in touch with the MacCarthy Clan Organisation in Ireland (which was based at Kanturk in County Cork). Previously, this organisation was extremely active. The leader was Dr. Jean MacCarthy.

UPDATE, 26 October 2011: some information has been received. 7 December 2011: no reply has yet been received to inquiries made. 19 December 2011: a reply has been received, from Dr. Jean MacCarthy, and answered. The Kanturk Clan organisation is not at all active at this time. And, as reported earlier, the organisation that existed in the United States has been dormant for years. And attempts to contact previous officers of that group have been unsuccessful.

December 2011: The Association is pleased to note the creation of The MacCarthy Clan Foundation, an organisation that hopes to facilitate the (re-) establishment of MacCarthy Clan groups worldwide. It will provide a center for communication and liaison for all MacCarthy clan groups which develop over time, in whatever country, while allowing the Chief-of-Name, The MacCarthy Mór, a forum to express his views on various subjects. See below for link to the site. The Foundation is of course under the direct authority of The MacCarthy Mor, and will be administered as he delegates to his chancery or family members.

We should also say that on the new Clan Foundation site McCarthys will find a link to the McCarthy DNA project - which appears to be very active and well-managed.

UPDATE: March 2012: we understand that the site is already very successful with numerous 'hits' and inquiries - to include possibilities for starting new groups in the U.S. and elsewhere. Further update in March: it is now definitely reported that a new North American McCarthy Clan Chapter has been founded, effective St. Patrick's Day. Details are on the MacCarthy Clan Foundation website (link below). Efforts are underway to form a Chapter located in Ireland.

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Current - For 2012, the Association will be contacting all the organised clans which represent historic names within the former Kingdom of Desmond. The links to their websites will be listed on this site. We hope this will encourage some cross-contact, joint research, etc. And this initiative is also aimed at receiving any information as to corrections the Association needs to make, particularly concerning whether various lines are truly extinct or not. Already there have been contacts from O Sullivan and O Donoghue Clans which have resulted in identifying that an O Sullivan line and the line of O Donoghue Mor are not extinct!

June 2012: the Association has taken an initiative with the royal family of the U.K., with the objective of removing some of the continued residue from centuries- old laws against the Gaelic order of things pre and post Kinsale 1601. We will advise re any progress as time passes.

UPDATE August 2012: a reply has been received, which states that the Queen of the U.K. will not 'intervene' and thus our petition has been turned down. What was asked was nothing more than what the House of Windsor already does in socially recognising representatives of formerly reigning royal houses of many countries, such as Greece, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Portugal, etc.etc. Such recognitions are a private House of Windsor matter, having nothing to do with the current relations of the U.K. government with the successor states of formerly reigning families.  It was petitioned that the same courtesy already shown to many others simply be extended to the descendants of formerly reigning royal houses of Gaelic Ireland. This decision is saddening, as it apparently suggests that the House of Windsor prefers to acknowledge the actions of previous English governments to eliminate all vestiges of the Gaelic order pre and post Kinsale 1602, to include their illegal 'law' of 1587 'abolishing Gaelic titles and customs utterly and forever'.

During her visit to Ireland fairly recently, she said that she wished that certain things in the past had not been done at all, or done differently. Here was an opportunity to give substance to those words, which has been rejected. Perfidious Albion, again? You, the readers, can judge. The Association certainly says that the decision is hypocritical, given recognitions of other formerly reigning houses of other countries, all of which actually ruled for untold centuries less than the Gaelic houses. An article has been written which reflects the initiative of the Association and gives the reply received, etc., referenced on our 'Home' page in the section of published works of interest. The article is entitled 'No Irish Need Apply! Still the Case?'

July 2012: the Association (for information) is also in contact with Clans outside of Desmond/Munster - those which share our general objectives. As said elsewhere on this site, we would like to see 'associations' such as ours formed for all of the historic royal areas of Gaelic Ireland (Leinster, Connaught, Ulster, Thomond). We think this site and what is presented can serve as a 'template' for such initiatives.

March 2013: we have been informed that as done by other ex-reigning Gaelic royals, the MacCarthy Mor has created a new dynastic honour. It is called 'The Companionate of Cashel' - reflecting the historic relation of the family with the Rock of Cashel, Cormac's Chapel, etc. - and will be very limited in terms of its award. All awards when made will be on St. Patrick's Day in any year. It was stressed that this Companionate is not a knightly order, and makes no claims of historic continuity.

April 2013: there is a new 'outreach' program developed by the history depart- ment of University College Cork. The objective is to give history more life and meaning to local communities. This Association welcomes this excellent initiative to help increase overall knowledge of our history and helping to reawarken local interest. The University will work with local historical societies. For example, a weekend gathering is planned to start 31 May at Dunmanway, County Cork. There will be lectures, tours of local places and castles, and an overall emphasis on the MacCarthy branch which historically controlled the area. All are welcome to attend and details can be found on the websites of UCC Cork and the historical society of Dunmanway.

It is indeed gratifying to see this and other initiatives! And to see the publication of so much more on the 'Gaelic order of things'. This shows the renewed interest in our total history, and the desire to correct the errors compounded over the centuries by the lack of research. Some recent works of interest are GAELIC IRELAND: land, lordship and settlement, c1250-c1650, P.Duffy, D.Edwards and E. FitzPatrick, eds.; THE BATTLE OF KINSALE, H.Morgan, ed.; THE EARLDOM OF DESMOND 1563-1583: the decline and crisis of a feudal lordship, by Anthony McCormack; THE GAELIC LORDSHIP OF THE O SULLIVAN BEARE, by C. Breen. The latter three deal very specifically with happenings in the old Kingdom of Desmond of course.

August 2013: there is to be an O Crowley Clan reunion at Kinsale in September, to which are invited a number of chiefs-of-name, including MacCarthy Mor. The territory of the O Crowleys was located within the overlordship of MacCarthy Reagh. Update: a representative attended the reunion, which was an outstanding success! The O Crowleys are to be congratulated for their activity as a clan, and for their devotion to their own cultural custodianship and understanding of the historic order within Desmond!

May 2014: this announces the publication of the article 'Irish Chiefly Succession in the 21st Century', written with the support of the Kingdom of Desmond Association by The Ó Catháin, Chief-of-the-Name. The author is a distinguished historian on the subject of the historic and correct manner of Irish successions; in this remarkable article he brings forward the concept of an 'Ad Hoc Derbhfine', long in use in Scotland. The concept is founded on historic Brehon Law and does indeed demonstrate a method, easily adopted for Irish purposes, which allows for chiefly succession when a clan has become leaderless due to the vicissitudes of our history. And, naturally, the adoption of correct practices will finally obviate the catastropic errors made by the Office of Chief Herald, the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs, and by many ill-informed 'historians' over the course of many many years. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.  Current clans with 'elected' chiefs/presidents can consider the Ad Hoc Derbhfine approach if they so wish. It is simply another option, but one based on historic traditions within the Gaelic order of things. Addition September 2014:  this Association has published a follow-up to that of The O Cathain, entitled 'Irish Chiefly Succession:  Ad Hoc Derbhfine Guidelines'. See our home page and scroll down to the bibliography listing of books, etc. and you will find details to include that it was written in conjunction with the Clan MacCarthy Foundation, and where it can be found easily on-line. Update:December 2016 -  it is gratifying that a number of articles and entries on websites have mentioned the 'Ad Hoc Derbhfine' approach.  And this includes a reference by Clans of Ireland on their writeup of titles used.

June 2014: it was announced in 2012 that there would be an effort to organize an association of Desmond clans. That has now been accomplished, and it is styled ALLIANCE OF THE ANCIENT CLANS OF THE KINGDOM OF DESMOND, with a view to having a central point for clan interactions, exchanges, etc. It is to be administered by and accessed at We trust that the ALLIANCE will prove to be a great success! To include a wide participation not only by Clans with Gaelic names but also from clans of Viking and Norman-Irish and other backgrounds with historic presence in the Kingdom of Desmond. 

March 2015:  we heartily recommend a look at the website of Dr. Tyrone Bowes. He is a Dublin-born scientist with a remarkable grasp of the interaction of DNA with family groupings and history/geography.  We believe a look at his site at will be very educational.  He carries out a remarkable nmber of lectures throughout Ireland and abroad, and pinpoints detail about family areas that can be very revealing! He also maintains a site on facebook at