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.

MacCarthy Lordships




The MacCarthy Mor, formerly titled King (Ri) of Desmond, is now correctly styled (as non-reigning) as the Prince (Flaith) of Desmond. In addition to the general overlordship of Desmond and its MacCarthy and other families, the MacCarthy Mor directly held a number of personal or demesne lands at the time of the death of the last ruling MacCarthy Mor in 1596. These lands were primarily in County Kerry and included his own main residence of ‘Pallis’, Castle Lough on the Lakes of Killarney, Muckross, and the castle of Ballycarbery (of which the O Connells were hereditary warders). These may be considered as ‘manors’ of the royal family. Castle Lough and certain lands had been given to Donal, the ‘base son’ of the last MacCarthy Mor in his lifetime (though some have said  that that grant was via his will; no matter, via will or in life the grant could still legally be considered an ‘appanage’). That lordship and the legalities will be covered separately.

The last designated Tanist (successor) of the MacCarthy Mor had the styling of Lord of Valentia. He was the only legitimate son of the last ruling MacCarthy Mor and died before his father and without issue.

Additionally re the current MacCarthy Mor and his specific MacCarthy Sept:

The Lordship of Kerslawny. This ‘appanage’ (which is a grant of title/land to a son by a MacCarthy Mor) was created for Cormac (died 1467) second son of Taige-na-Manistragh, King of Desmond and is known as Slioght Cormac of Dunguile. It is considered the ‘last appanage’ stemming from a reigning King of Desmond (thus in Irish law the correct successor to the Chiefship of the Name when the ruling line failed in 1596, though the claim was not made at that time by the then Lord of Kerslawny, Callaghan MacCarthy). The line of Kerslawny remained continuous and is extant, and the current MacCarthy Mor claimant descends from that line/sept.  He indeed is Chieftain-of-Name of Sliocht Cormac of Dunguile, and this is the legal basis for his confirmation as the correct MacCarthy Mor!  ‘Lord of Kerslawny’ becomes the second title of the now MacCarthy Mor. Among other  lordships which are subordinate within the Lordship of Kerslawny are Cappagh, Valentia, and Srugrena. But see also the ‘Lordship’ of Castle Lough commentary later for discussion of what was (possibly) the ‘last appanage’ though of only historical notice now.

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The MacCarthy Reagh, Prince of Carbery. Family ‘dormant’, title is currently revested in the house of MacCarthy Mor.  All subordinate titles of the Prince of Carbery and those of extinct or now dormant MacCarthy septs which were dependent on MacCarthy Reagh have also revested in a MacCarthy Mor per Brehon Law practice. The MacCarthy Reaghs spang from Donal Gott, who was a brother of Cormac Fionn, King of Desmond who died 1247-8. Donal Gott served as King briefly (he was slain in 1251) but the Principality of Carbery and most of the subordinate Septs of MacCarthys in Carbery stem from him. Carbery was largely independent of the MacCarthy Mor senior line from that time, but it appears it was declared ineligible to inherit the title of MacCarthy Mor. Details on sublordships in Carbery will follow later.

The MacCarthy of Muskerry, Prince of Muskerry (also held a number of British titles including Earl of Clancarty, Viscount Mountcashel, Baron of Blarney, etc.).  Family dormant, title revested in the house of MacCarthy Mor on the basis of Irish law (not, it should be said, as a reversion due to operation of any English-based ‘feudal law’). As per MacCarthy Reagh, all subordinate titles and extinct or dormant MacCarthy sept chiefships within Muskerry have revested in the head of the overall family, the MacCarthy Mor, as overlord as not as owner of any ‘fee simple’ ever though of course there is no more land in anycase. The MacCarthys of Muskerry spang as an appanage to Dermod, a son of King Cormac Mor of Desmond (died 1359). The Princes of Muskerry tried of course to maximise their freedom of action from the main MacCarthy Mor line, and largely succeeded --but never achieved the level of independence that Carbery did.  Muskerry remained under the overlordship of MacCarthy Mor. Details on sublordships in Muskerry will follow later.

McDonough MacCarthy, Prince of Duhallow. Family extinct, title was revested in the MacCarthy Mor. The Duhallow appanage came from Dermod (Diarmaid), a son of King Cormac Finn MacCarthy Mor (1244-48). Details on sublordships in Duhallow will follow later.


The Association’s position is that hereditary successors to the Principalities of Carbery and Muskerry may still exist.* And can be found with effort and with agreement among the various descendants of those two houses. While the principalities themselves and all subordinate lordships have reverted correctly to the house of MacCarthy Mor, the Association feels that no further regrants of any Carbery or Muskerry stylings should be made. The awarding of those lordships, offices, etc. are properly in the rights of the Princes of Carbery and Muskerry, subject only to the normal approval and registration of a MacCarthy Mor. And while their overlord, MacCarthy Mor, correctly is vested with all the incorporeal inheritances given no current successor as MacCarthy Reagh or MacCarthy Muskerry, we think it best to wait at least one further generation before alienating anything which would be in the hands of the ruling princes of Carbery and Muskerry if indeed extant.

*even O Hart in his ‘Irish Pedigrees’ identified living descendants in several lines in different countries. This included persons he referred to as the correct Prince of Carbery and as the correct Prince of Muskerry, with these lines extant till the time of his publishing the work, late 19th century. UPDATE: January 2013. The Association has been contacted by a person who provided an update from O Hart regarding the line of Carbery, stating that indeed a legitimate MacCarthy Reagh exists today! We have given our advices as to what that 'Derbhfine' needs to do in order to ensure correct proclamation and acceptance/recognition that the chieftainship is the proper succession. We will advise further as we receive information. Naturally, per our own agenda, we will be more than pleased if a new MacCarthy Reagh can be verified!  UPDATE: July 2016.  There is additional information now as regards the line which O Hart specified as the continuing line of the Princes of Carbery.  We now believe it is extinct, as of only 1992.  There are a few others who now are assembling their descents from the chiefly line, with a view to proclaiming as 'the' MacCarthy Reagh.  More update will follow as we are able.

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(includes principalities and their subordinates, MacCarthy or other)


The Lordship of Carbery, one of the three principalities – to include lands/castles occupied by such as the Barrys as tenants, or as a grant for an hereditary of the princely house.

The primary residence of the MacCarthy Reagh was at Kilbrittain Castle (which was originally built by the deCourcys) and he held a number of other castles directly including Timoleague Castle at times (often in conflict with the Barrys over that possession).


The following MacCarthy Reagh sub-septs had holdings of the Lord of Carbery and naturally owed him ‘chief rent’ as overlord: Clandermond (from Dermond a son of Donal Gott founder of the Carbery principality); Clan Tadhg Ilen,  - - also called Clan Tadhg Dall (from Tadhg Dall, another son of Donal Gott); Sliocht Felim of Glean-an-Chroim (from Cormac Donn, a son of Donal (Donnell) Caomh, Lord of Carbery who d. 1320). The chiefs of this sub-sept use the styling 'MacCarthy Glas'; Clan Crimen (from Dermond, a son of Donnell Glas Lord of Carbery, d. 1366);  Sliocht Glas of Dunmanway (from Cormac Glas, a son of Felim, Lord of Glean-an-Chroim, circa 1690). This is more correctly described as a sub-subsept as stemming from Glean-an-Chroim; Sliocht Dermod of Iniskeen (from Dermod, 2nd son of Donal (Donal Glas II) MacCarthy Reagh d. 1414); Sliocht Cormac na Coille (from Cormac 3rd son of Donal MacCarthy Reagh d. 1414); Sliocht Owen (from Eoghan, 4th son of Donal MacCarthy Reagh d. 1414); and another subsept which is referred to as 'Sliocht Glas' of Ballinadee and Ballymoney, on the Bandon. This was from an illegitimate son of another Donal Glas (d. 1442) the lst son of Donal MacCarthy Reagh(Donal Glas II) d.1414. This subsept has survived into the 20th century to our knowledge.

And other sub-septs of which no great detail exists: Sliocht Corky, Sliocht Donough, Tuath ny Killie, Sliocht ShaneRoe,  Tuath Bally ny Deyghie,  and subsepts referred to as MacCarthy na Duna stemming also from Glean-an-Chroim. There were of course chieftains of each subsept and we propose that there are very possibly descendants existing today.

Numerous castles/subinfeudations were associated with these septs, to include: Kilcoe near Ballydehob, Cloghan and Lissangle castles of Clandermond; Castle Currymacteige of Clan Teige Ilen near Skibbereen; CastleDerry (Derryleamleary Castle), near Ballineen, and Castle Ballinorougher, near Timoleague, of Clan Crimen; Phale Castle near Enniskeane (very old, among first to be constructed in Carbery by the MacCarthys and the home of Sliocht Glas which descended from Donal Glas (d.1442) a son of the MacCarthy Reagh (d.1414). And the MacCarthy Reaghs or subsepts also had Short Castle and Kilgobbin Castle near Ballinadee and Downeen and Benduff castles near Rosscarbery, also among their properties lost in the wars.

And Togher and Dunmanway were possessions of the Sliocht Glean-an-Chroim (chiefs often refereed to as The MacCarthy Glas). AGAIN, it has to be noted that no one has come forward to claim descendancy and/or the chieftainship of any sub-sept of the MacCarthy Reaghs in Carbery – though it is reasonable to say that there are descendants extant.

Sliocht Tadgh Roe na Sgairte (Clan Tadhg Roe) was the initial appanage directly from a MacCarthy Mor (circa 1185), but would wind up under the Lords of Carbery and pay chief rents to them. More on that particular appanage follows under septs holding directly from a MacCarthy Mor.

There were also separate appanages of a MacCarthy Mor and thus independent MacCarthy septs though ‘within’ the area of Carbery. They continued to pay chief rents directly to a MacCarthy Mor: Clandermond (of the main branch), Clandonnelroe, and Clandonnelfinn, each of which is outlined in more detail in what follows later on.

And finally the following are clans/septs of other families which existed in Carbery, dependent on the MacCarthys of Carbery and owing dues to them (however reluctantly at times):

1.       The Lordship of Baltimore. This was the principal castle and lordship of the main branch of the O Driscolls. The O Driscolls were of Corca Laidhe ancestry and at one period held much of the land in Carbery, before being pushed westward by invading MacCarthys, O Donovans, etc. They had always been subject historically to the King of Cashel. They branched into two main branches: Collymor of O Driscoll Mor and Collybeg, the junior branch under O Driscoll Oge.  Additionally, there were many sub-septs: Sliocht Teige O Driscoll, Sliocht Donogh O Driscoll, Sliocht Dermod O Driscoll, Sliocht an Naspigg, Sliocht MacHanyse, and Sliocht Mwynter Y-hilligh of BallyMacCarrane. There were at least eight castles of the seafaring O Driscolls, including Baltimore and Castlehaven in Castletownshend. Over the centuries the family paid chief rents to both the Earl of Desmond and the MacCarthy Reaghs. Losing all in the wars of the 17th century, the O Driscolls became famous among the Wild Geese.

There has been and continues to be a most active Clan O Driscoll organisation, with a Chief being elected annually (not based on historic main line descent).                

2.       The Lordship of Ivahagh. This was the West Cork holding around Mizen Head, etc. of the very famous O Mahony Clan, which as the O Driscolls ruled over much of Carbery and even East Cork before being pushed out by invaders among the other Eoghanacht clans. The lords of Ivahagh were called O Mahony Fine, and their main residence was at Rossbrin Castle. There were numerous sub-septs over time to include: Clan Maghnusa, Clan Cponchobhair, Clan MicCein, Clan MicTaidhgrua, and Clan Donnell of Gort Mor. The O Mahonys were of the Ui Eachach (Kinelea branch).  Among the many other castles held by these West Cork O Mahonys were Leamcon, Dunbeacon, Ardintenant, Ballydevlin, and Dun Locha. Within their territory were the non-related clans/septs of O Glavin and O Mehigan. These Ivahagh O Mahonys lost all in the wars and likewise many took service overseas, becoming quite famous as Wild Geese. One of the other families under the O Mahonys were the Coghlans (Cohalan), Lords of Dunlogh by lease and associated with the parishes of Kilmoe and Skull. There is an extremely active O Mahony Clan Organisation, going back to a 1955 inauguration of clan rallies led by the legendary Eoin ‘the Pope’ O Mahony!     

3.       The Lordship of Kinelmeaky. This was of a second branch of the O Mahonys not pushed farther westward - and existed around Bandon towards Cork City. Their chief castle was called Castle Mahowney (or Castle Mahon). They lost all for rebellion, before, during and after the O Neill rebellion which culminated at Kinsale. There was a third O Mahony branch, which wound up settling south of the River Lee and became subject to the MacCarthys of Muskerry.

4.       The Lordship of O Donovan of Clan Cahil.  This comital lordship has been continuously extant, and today is represented by The O Donovan of Clan Cahil who is a member of the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs.

O Donovans went into West Cork from their original home in Limerick in the 12th century, and took lands from the O Driscolls and O Mahonys. Their major castle near Drimoleague was called Castle Donovan, and they also had the castles of Castle Iver and Raheen. The family of O Hegarty including their Chief-of-Name were strong followers. The O Donovans were very active in support of the Irish cause in the 17th century, lost much land in the Cromwellian confiscations, and were fortunate to keep most of what was left of their lands via the benefit of the Articles of Limerick closing the Williamite war. This was solidified when the then-chief, in 1715, ‘conformed’ to the established church, and the O Donovan chiefs remain active Protestants to this day - serving the church in various capacities. The current chief was not born in Ireland, and was educated in England. His father and grandfather were generals in the English army, serving very honourably. He himself married  a daughter of an English field marshal. His son and tanist was also educated in England and is a lawyer in London. The family retains dual citizenship (U.K. and Ireland), including a British passport.

After 1829 the title ‘The O Donovan’ passed by Irish Tanistry and there has been some disagreement about succession. There was a Catholic 'Wild Geese' branch which went to France and served in the Irish Brigades of the French Army. They always used the title 'The O Doneven' spelled in that manner and they continued to use the title upon returning to Ireland, settling near Clonmel. One person of this family became well-known in The Military History Society of Ireland, signing his name as 'Lieutenant Colonel The O Doneven'.

The family had a second major branch called Clan Loughlin, which had Glandore Castle, originally built by the Barretts. They also possessed the manor referred to as O Donovan’s Leap. Active also in the 17th century wars, this branch appears to be represented but no specific claim has been recorded as yet.

5.  The Lordship of Kilshallow. This was held by the family of O Crowley, under the Princes of Carbery. Their residence was at CastleCrowley. Their lands were mainly north of the Bandon River, near Dunmanway, paying head rent to MacCarthy Reagh. With a history of being fierce warriors, and refusing to submit after Kinsale, the Chief-of-the-Name struggled on until defeated in 1603. The O Crowleys lost some of their lands but rose again in both 1641 and on behalf of James Stuart in 1689. And lost everything. There were sublordships under the Ard Tiarna of Kilshallow, which were O Crowleys of Madery, Kippagh, O Crowley Og, Monteen/Mac y Valirty, and Macfyneen O Crowley.  It is not known whether any proved hereditary descendants to the chiefship or to the various septs exist but there is a very active O Crowley Clan organization doing extensive searches of the family genealogy so it is hoped that hereditaries will be found.  See comment at bottom of page on 'Terence of Belfast' ---regarding a most controversial O Crowley who claims quite preposterously to be the King of Desmond.                                                                                            

6.   The Lordship of Barryoge. This was a branch of the Norman-Irish Lords Barrys of East Cork (Viscounts of Buttevant, Earls of Barrymore – extinct 1824). They originally held some lands in West Cork under the deCourcys. When the MacCarthys took back lands previously taken by Norman adventurers the Barrys of this branch became vassals of the MacCarthys and paid them chief rents, though always being in contact with the chief of their name at Barrymore Castle in East Cork. Their principal residence was in Kinalena, and they held Inishannon town. A branch of the family of Roche of Kinsale (which held Poulnalong Castle) were under the Barryoges and it appears that the family of O Deasuna (Desmond – no relation to the Norman Earls of Desmond) remained in the Kinalena area. Other Barryoge castles were Ballinaclashet, Ringcurran and Dundanier, the latter later passed to MacCarthy Reagh. Not conforming as had the Lord Barrymore head of the family, the lands of the Barryoges were eventually confiscated for rebellion against the English government. Many in the family served very honourably as officers in those struggles. The last Barryoge died in 1737 as a Colonel in the Spanish Army, Dom Felipe Barry-Oge.

7.       The Lordship of Barryroe. This was also an offshoot of the major Barry line, and held lands in Ibawn and Barryroe baronies. They had castles at Timoleague, Countmacsherry, and Rathbarry. And the Norman-Irish Hodnetts and the Arundels, (who were Lords of CastleArundel, were tributary to the Lordship of Barryroe, the lords of which themselves became tributary to the MacCarthy Reaghs. Additionally, the native Gaelic families of O Hea (Hayes), O Cowhig (Coffey), O Regan, Lords of Ballinalogh (where the Chief-of-Name lived) and a branch of the Lyons family were able to stay in their original areas under the Barrys, paying head rents to them. All had territory around Clonakilty, and the Coffeys had Dunocowig and other castles while the O Heas, a branch of the Corca Laidhe and Lords of HayesCastle also had Aghamilla Castle. HayesCastle was the seat of the Chief-of-Name. The Hayes were buried in Timoleague Abbey and continued to use the title ‘The O Hea’ even after losing all in the 17th century wars. The chiefships of O Hea or Coffey or Lyons or O Regan have not been claimed to our knowledge, but it would appear that there very well could be descendants of those chiefly lines. An O Regan was Chief Steward to the Princes of Carbery at the end of the 16th century and lived in Burren Castle.

The Barryroes likewise lost their lands in the rebellions, but descendants lived at least into the 19th century. The chieftainship, as that of Barryoge above, has not been claimed to our knowledge.

8.       The Lordship of Drumnea. This was what is said was the residence of the main branch of the famous bardic family of O Dalaigh (O Daly), located in the parish of Kilcrohane.  The family had many branches and served Irish chiefs of both Gaelic and Norman-Irish backgrounds, to include being hereditary Ollamhs to the MacCarthy Mor. But as most numerous in the West Cork part of Desmond, they are included under the Principality of Carbery.  The O Dalys had a strong association with the area of Sheep’s Head.

The Munster O Dalys were distinguished by being referred to by the colour name of ‘fionn’ (fair). They lost just about all of their major properties in the Cromwellian and Williamite wars, though Griffin’s Survey of 1850-52 shows at least 500 O Daly families still extant in County Cork.

9.       The Lordship of Ballynacarriga. This was the patrimony of the family of O Murthvile, or Hurley. Of Dalcassian origin, the Hurleys were prominent churchmen to include a Bishop of Ross and a friar who saved valuables of the MacCarthy Mor at Muckross Friary in Killarney. Their castle of Ballynacarriga was once referred to as Ardea Castle. The family paid rents to the Princes of Carbery and had Ballivard Castle near Rossmore also. The Hurleys lost all during the 17th century wars, and the last Chief-of-Name emigrated to the U.S. in 1810, so there may indeed still be a blood chiefly descendant for this family.

10.   The Lordship of Coppingers Court. The history of the family of Coppinger is complicated in that they were in various areas of County Cork. Since mostly in Carbery, we list their lordship as being of ‘Coppingers Court’ as that castle by Rosscarbery was certainly built by them, in the early 1600’s. However, the family was long established as they were of Norse origin and certainly in Cork by the early 1400’s if not before. Within Carbery they obtained leases or possession of other  in one way or another and proved to be valued allies of the MacCarthy Reaghs. These included receiving Lissangle castle from the Clandermond branch in 1594, and also Derrynalane and Corrinshin castles near Lissangle (Cloghane) and Kilfinnane castle near Glandore Harbour and Rincolisky castle (a former O Driscoll castle) by Roaring Water Bay. They also had Curry MacTeige Castle within Skibbereen, which they got from Clan Tadhg Ilen after Kinsale. What all these possessions have in common is that the Coppingers were Catholic loyalists and eventually lost everything in the 1641 uprising or in the Williamite War. They also lost Castle Treasure near Cork City, which had originally been owned by the Prendergasts, and Downyne (Dooneens) Castle which had been enfeoffed to them by the MacCarthys of Muskerry (near Drishane in Muskerry). They are well-remembered in County Cork and continued on in spite of losing out so often in so many places!

Additionally, within Carbery, we can identify the family of O Coileain (O Collins) which was widespread but was primarily associated with the Dunmanway area and thus were subject to the MacCarthy Sept of Gleann an Chroim, which had castles at Dunmanway and Togher. And of course this is the Cork family from which sprang the great Michael Collins.

And, finally, it should be noted that the famous Norman-Irish family of deCourcy maintained its independence from the MacCarthy Reaghs, around the likewise independent town of Kinsale. The family was early-on in West Cork and lheld and holds the title of Baron Kingsale, which dates from 1223 and is the oldest British title extant that relates to Ireland. The family has an amazing history. In constant battle with the MacCarthys, the deCourcys lost their original Kilbrittan Castle and other lands, but held on the Ringrone Castle as well as the castles of Dunmacpatrick and Kilgobbin (which were also secured by the MacCarthys by the end of the 16th century.  As Catholics, the deCourcys often sided with and intermarried with the Gaelic lords of Carbery and elsewhere – as well as providing many religious to the church along with substantial endowments.

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The Lordship of Muskerry, one of the three principalities under the MacCarthy Mors. Stems as said from Dermod, a son of Cormac Mor who died in 1359. This appanage came to be most powerful and learned to play the political game with England very well (resulting in such as Queen Elizabeth’s frustration with the Prince of Muskerry, and coining all his answers as "blarney, pure blarney") when referring to him under his additional title as Lord of Blarney (which became his main residence). And which now is part of Irish heritage, as meaning a person skilled in speech.

Muskerry claimed to be independent of MacCarthy Mor at times, but that was never the case.  Scholars generally acknowledge that Muskerry was the most feudalised major area in Ireland, most resembling English and mainland European practices. It was thus heavily infeudated and is a bit complicated to follow in terms of MacCarthy and other family septs/sub-septs which existed in the territory of Muskerry. But it should be noted for the record that lands and titles can never pass by ‘feudalism’ but must then and today relate only to Brehon Law and Irish practices, which mean that no overlord held the ‘fee simple’ of anything but his private lands/demesne.

Having said that, the Prince of Muskerry controlled up to 50% of the lands directly, and had a number of castles including Blarney near Cork City which served as the main castle of the lordship from its foundation in the late 15th century. Many of these castles were built by the Lord Cormac Laider, known as the great builder, who reigned for many years at the end of the 16th century (1455-1495) and who was married to a daughter of Fitzmaurice, Lord of Kerry.

A number were used for the Lord of Muskerry but others were set aside for others in the family or garrisioned. The castles within Muskerry are numerous in total, and of course include the main castle of Blarney, so close to Cork City that the Prince received ‘black rent’ from the citizens for a period of time; and Garrycloyne and Ballvodane castle were near Blarney, the former of which was occupied by the Sarsfied family and confiscated in 1692; and then Carrignamuck (also known as Dripsey Castle and/or Castlecormac), not far from Dripsey and used as the residence of the Tanist; Carrignavar Castle in the parish of Dunbulloge;  Macroom Castle itself and Carrickaphooca Castle near Macroom;  Drishane and Kilmeedy and Dooneens (Downyne) near Millstreet; Cloughphillip obtained in 1488 and built originally by the Barretts;  Ballea, west of Carrigaline; Carrigadrohid Castle;  Cloghroe Castle originally built by the Norman-Irish deCogans and which served as the main residence of the Prince until Blarney Castle was built; and Ballea Castle near Carrigaline of the later MacCarthys of Cloghroe; Castle Dermot Oge and Cloghda and Castlemore castles, which were garrisioned by the MacSweeneys;   Kilcrea Castle also very close to Cork City and Ballymacadane Castle near Ballincollig; and among others there are such as Gorticlogh Castle in the parish of Kilcorney, Dundareirke Castle near Macroom, and Aglish, Kilcolman, and Cappanacushy castles, and Castle Inch on the Lee also near Dripsey,  obtained from the Barretts, lost to them, and taken back again by the MacCarthys of Muskerry.

Among the sub-septs/appanages/sub-lordships of the Princes of Muskerry were as follows: the Lordship of Castlecormac and Clan Cormac Oge;  the Lordship of Downyne, west of Drishane (held for a time by the Coppinger family) and Sliocht Taige na Dromin, from Felim, 4th Lord of Muskerry; Clan Faddah, from Donough, 4th son of lst Lord; Sliocht Shanekillie, from Donnell, 5th Lord; the Sept of Drishane, from Dermod, son of Tadgh, 6th Lord and brother of Cormac Laidher, 7th Lord; the Lordship of Clogroe, from Eoghan, a son of the 6th Lord; the MacCarthys of Drishane and the MacCarthys of Courtbrack and Mourne Abbey; and there was a Sliocht Deeane. And of course the MacCarthys of Carrignavar (who later also received the lands of Clogroe by marriage), and who some say retain the best hereditary claim to the chiefship of Muskerry.  And finally there was Clan Macdonnel which was originally an appanage given by the then King of Desmond, Cormac Fionn (died 1247-48) and not stemmed from a branch of the Muskerry MacCarthys.                 

Lordships held by other families within the area of the Muskerry MacCarthys are the following:

1.       The Lordship of Canovee. Continuously held of The MacCarthy Mors/MacCarthys of Muskerry in heredity by each succeeding O Long of Garranelogny, Chief-of-the Name, and thus still extant.  Contains the sub-lordship of Cooledrum, in the possession of the Tanist of Canovee. The current O Long is a member of the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs. His family  never left Ireland, but stayed through all the difficult times - similar to the family of O Donoghue of the Glens. The current O Long has suffered from detractors, unjustly. He is regarded as a most genuine and kind individual by all who know him.

2.       The Lordship of Carrignacurra. This lordship was of the O Leary family, with their main castle at Carrignacurra near Inchigeela. They held other castles at Drumcarra and at Carrignanella, and were of the same descent as the O Driscolls. They sub-infeudated lands to the family of O Croinin (Cronin).

3.       The Lordship of Ballincollig. Here we will mention the centuries-old history of the totally gaelicised family of Barrett, the chief known as ‘Barrett of Barrett’s Country’. Originally Norman-Irish, this family received grants in Cork from the very earliest times – fighting against the Gaelic-Irish but eventually living in peace with them, intermarrying, etc. They at one time or another had lands in Inishcarra parish, and in and around Mourne Abbey, Cloghphilip Castle (which was yielded to the Muskerry MacCarthys), etc. They held Carrigrohane Castle for a period, paying rents to MacCarthy Mor for a short period and then to the Earl of Desmond. The family eventually got Ballincollig Castle and lands and thus it is convenient to list their lordship as such, for certainly the last recognised Chief-of-Name used it as his residence and principal stronghold. But given the many branches of the Barretts, and their unique contributions to Desmond history, much work can be done from a genealogical point-of-view. They were and are a remarkable family. And, yes, remaining Catholic and siding with the Gaelic-Irish throughout the wars of the 17th century, they lost all.

4.       The Lordship of Mashanaglass. The castle (and lordship thereof) was granted to the Gallowglass family of MacSweeney – who for centuries fought for all the  MacCarthys including the MacCarthy Mor, and the Lords of Carbery and Duhallow as well as the Prince of Muskerry. Mashanaglass was originally demesne land of the MacCarthy Mors in Muskerry, but eventually came under control of the Muskerry MacCarthys. The MacSweeney family also eventually owned Cloghda Castle. As a soldierly family, they also were wardens or constables of various MacCarthy castles, including Castlemore, near Mourne Abbey, among a number of others. A MacSweeney lady was married to an O Sullivan Bere. The MacSweeneys of course lost all in the wars of the 17th century, but the family also carried on: a grandson of a MacSweeney of Macroom became an hereditary Papal Marquess (Marquess of Mashanaglass) and continued the ‘gallowglass’ tradition by fighting in Dublin in the Irish insurrection of 1916 when began the end of British rule in Ireland.

5.       The Lordship of Donoughmore. This was held by the Healy family (O Healihy), an early sept in Muskerry and church-service related. Under the deCogans originally, they were then subject to the Prince of Muskerry – who inaugurated the  O Healy Chief-of-Name. They were outlawed and lost their lands but survived. Eventually conforming, a descendant adopted the surname Hely-Hutchinson and became the U.K. Earl of Donoughmore. Remaining in Ireland the family head was a champion of Irish rights and the Catholic cause, and it was he who moved to ratify the Irish Treaty of 1922! It should also be noted that many Healys served as Wild Geese in the Spanish and French Irish regiments.

6.       The Lordship of Ballyvourney. This was held under the Princes of Muskerry,  by a branch of the family of O Herlihy, O Herly. A mostly religious family holding originally church lands, they included Thomas, a bishop of Ross who attended the Roman Council of Trent. Upon his return in 1571 he was arrested and placed in the Tower of London. His release was secured by the MacCarthy Lord of Muskerry. In addition to the castle at Ballyvourney, the family had a castle at Slievereagh. The family lost everything in the 17th century wars.

Additionally, we can mention a branch of the Lyons family which indeed served as hereditary physicians to the MacCarthys of Muskerry, and from whom famous medical doctors continued into the 20th century; and of course the numerous Murphys throughout Cork. Loyal followers of the Lords of Muskerry, they served the MacCarthys in many ways: as attorneys, religious, and as soldiers. The last included the famous Colonel Murphy’s Regiment in Spanish Flanders, 1646-59 and many in the Clancarty Regiment of the Irish Brigade in French service.  Then we have the loyal Clan of O Riordan (Rearden). Soldiers and firm adherents of the Muskerry MacCarthys, this family likewise lost all in the 17th century wars. A Rearden served as an officer in Dillon’s Regiment of the Irish Brigade in the service of France. He married a great-grandaughter of Florence MacCarthy of Carbery, who was both recognised and unrecognised as MacCarthy Mor after the demise of Donal MacCarthy Mor in 1596. This Florence had married the only surviving legitimate child of the last reigning MacCarthy Mor. 

 And then we mention the Clan of O Tuama (Twomey,Toomey), who lived near Disert in Muskerry on the northern road to Macroom and who also had a significant presence in Cork City.  And there were were O Levies (Levys) and Dineens (Dowlings) within the lordship of Muskerry as well.

And finally, as mentioned in the pages on the Carbery principality, there were at least three branches of the O Mahony family who entered Muskerry from Carbery when the MacCarthys gained the lordship of Muskerry in the 14th century. These were known as Clan Finglin, Clan Chonchubhair, and Ui Flainn Lua, and were settled south of the River Lee. And lost everything in the 17th century wars but who had produced many distinguished O Mahonys during the centuries in Muskerry.


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The Lordship of Duhallow, one of the three principalities under a MacCarthy Mor. Stems as said from Dermond, a son of Cormac Fionn, King of Desmond (1244-48). Became extinct circa 1700-25. Within the actual paramount lordship of Duhallow are a number of subordinate baronial and lord of manor lordships which always belonged directly to the Paramount Lord, there being no subinfeudations as such made in Duhallow as in Carbery and Muskerry. Though obviously the other Duhallow Country manors etc. were occupied by members of the family but not on the sort of permanent ‘appanage’ basis as in Carbery and Muskerry. Perhaps this was partly due to over a hundred or more years of squabble among two branches of the family as to who was the correct chief! The following are sublordships of Duhallow: Kanturk, Lohort, Dromiscane, Subalter, Kilbolane, Knocktemple, Castlecor, Cappagh, Curragh, and Dromcummer. There were numerous castles built in Duhallow both by the Paramount Lord and others; many including Kanturk Castle are most interesting to explore even today. And a few are even still inhabited!

The following three lordships belonged to separate families in Duhallow country. They are of Ard Tiarna rank, and historically were in chief rent due to the Paramount Lord of Duhallow; and there are also remains of historic castles associated with their lordships:

1.       The Lordship of Dromagh. Originally the possession of the once princely family of O Keefe. Includes possession of the baronial lordships of Drominagh, Ahane, Cullen, Drumtariff, Duargile and Ballymaquirck.

2.       The Lordship of Clonmeen. Also exists within the former principality of Duhallow. In continuous historic possession of the family of O Callaghan, Chiefs-of-the-Name and thus extant. Includes possession of the baronial lordships of Dromineen, Dromore, and Gormore. The current O Callaghan is a member of the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs. The family has lived in Spain for centuries.

3. The Lordship of Clanawly. Originally the possession of the family of MacAuliffe which became extinct (last chief serving in the Army of Spain as a Wild Geese Colonel).  Includes possession of the baronial lordships of Caislean-an-Cnoc (The Castle on the Mount), Carigacashel, and Anacrohane. There is an excellent recent (2013) article, very comprehensive, on the Clanawly lordship. It can be found in the AWEN, the Journal of the Noble Society of Celts.

There are also some other families which had historic roots and activities within the area of Duhallow, and these would include such as branches of the O Connells and of the families of Noonan, O Dubhagain (Duggan, Dugan) and Sheehan (Sheahan), the latter being a clerical family but also Gallowglass under the Lords of Clanawly and Clonmeen.

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The Lordship of Cosmaigne. (Irish variations: Coshmaing and Cois Mainge, meaning 'beside the River Maine). This comital rank (Ard Tiarna) lordship was established in the 14th century by King Cormac Mor MacCarthy Mor (d.1359) as an appanage for his third son, Eoghan, thereby creating the sept of Sliocht Eoghan of Coshmaing. According to Butler, 'Of the MacCarthy septs in the Barony of Magunihy, by far the most (84 ploughlands) was the Sliocht Eoghain Mhoir of Cois Maigne.... The lands of this sept stretched along the whole northern frontier of Magunihy from a point near Castlemaine to the border of Cork.'

'Coshmaing was a frontier district, and formed a barrier between the lands of the Geraldines and the rest of the Kerry lands of the MacCarthys... in the same manner that Muskerry formed a frontier barrier to the east and Duhallow to the northeast, against incursions....' The town of Castlemaine takes its name from a castle erected on a bridge over the river Maine.

The family line of the original Cosmaigne became extinct in the 19th century.

The following lordships (tiarna/baronial) evolved from grants by Eoghan Mor, the original Lord of Cosmaigne, to his sons - East Cosmaigne to his son, Donal, and West Cosmaigne to his son, Cormac. In turn, sub-lordships granted to their sons were: 1. The Lordship of Molahiffe (Irish: Magh ui Fhlaithimh), seat of East Cosmaigne at Molahiffe Castle, which existed near the River Maine up until the Cromwell invasions (1649-1653); the family line of the original Molahiffe holders went extinct in the 19th century (with the death of Brigadier General Sir Charles MacCarthy); 2. The Lordship of Fieries (Irish: na Foithre) which devolved from the original grant of West Cosmaigne to Donal's son, Eoghan; 3. The Lordship of Clonmeallane (Irish Cluain Maolain), represented in modern times by the townland of Cloonmealane, in Kilnanare Parish, County Kerry; it was a grant at origin to Donal's son, Donal, and a castle existed until the Cromwellian confiscations of 1649-53.     

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The Lordship of Sliocht Tadhg Roe. The full title of this lordship is ‘Sliocht Tadgh Roe na Sgairte’, and it was initially a comital appanage created for Cormac, a son of King Dermod (died 1185).

'Skart' was the first and thus most senior appanage of the royal house, and was the result of Cormac attempting to kill his father! This Cormac was himself slain in 1177. Cormac’s descendants branched into two sub-septs initially, that called Sliocht Fynin and Sliocht Shane. An offshoot of Sliocht Shane was Sliocht Mucklach, and the representative of that line married a daughter of the last lord of Sliocht Fynin, and thus united the two lines.  The overall sept is regarded as extinct, but it is quite possible that there is a lineal descendant extant!

The castles/sub-lordships/manors associated with Clan Tadhg Roe are Skart (title to which has been regranted) and Baurgorm; and specific to Sliocht Mucklach was the castle of Cul-Na-Long. All the territories were in West Carbery, near Durrus, eastern end of Sheep’s Head Peninsula. When the Principality of Carbery extended its direct rule, this Tadgh Roe clan and its offshoots came to pay its  ‘chief rents’ to the Princes of Carbery and no longer directly to a MacCarthy Mor. Thus at the end of the Gaelic order the clan lands etc. were part of the possessions of the MacCarthy Reaghs and subordinate to them.

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The Lordship of Clandonnellfinn. A comital lordship established as an appange of the main line of MacCarthy Mor by King Cormac Fionn (d. 1248) for his son Donnell Fionn. Their lands were irregular, some around the MacCarthy Mor castle of Pallis, some in Iveragh and Magunihy, all in Kerry. The MacCarthys of this branch held onto their lands until the Cromwellian and Williamite confiscations and it would appear that the line only became extinct in the early 20th century. A manor/castle at Phaah (modern Faha) in Magunihy was the seat of the chieftain of this branch of the MacCarthys. Other families in the area such as that of the O Mahonys of Castlequin were under this lordship.

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The Lordship of Clandermond. Extinct, a comital Lordship also established as an appanage of the main line of MacCarthy Mor by King Cormac Fionn (d. 1248) for a son, Dermod.  Mentioned in the St. Leger Tract of 1588 as then being in the possession of MacCarthy Mor. Not to be confused with the separate lordship of Clandermond of the Princes of Carbery. This appanage stayed directly under the MacCarthy Mors though located in West Carbery, in Bere and Glanerought, near Bantry, as well as having some lands around Kenmare in County Kerry. The main seat and castle of the family was called Castledermot, in County Cork. The Coppinger family came to hold the subordinate Lordship of Derrynalane, near Skibbereen, of the Clandermond MacCarthys. The Catholic Coppingers lost all during the wars of the 17th century. It should be noted that this lordship has become somewhat sullied by its association with the false MacCarthy Mor, Terence, and that his accomplice used the stying of ‘Count of Clandermond’. But that is of course now totally rejected and eliminated.

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The Lordship of Clandonnellroe. Extinct, a comital lordship established as an appange of the main line of MacCarthy Mor by King Donnell Roe (d. 1302) for a son, Eoghan. Held lands directly of the MacCarthy Mors, near Bantry in County Cork.  It was in the hands of the last MacCarthy Mor per the St. Leger Tract of 1588, as escheated to him. The seat and castle of the clan was Dunamark.

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The Lordship of Loughlegh. This lordship belonged originally to the sept of the MacCarthys  known as Clandonnelbrick, or at times as Clan MacTeige ne Towin. The origin of this sept is not known and has confused and contradicted scholars. It held a large lordship of comital level in County Kerry, but came to be spread out in different areas. It had been escheated to the last MacCarthy Mor for want of heirs, per the St. Leger Tract of 1588.  

Part of the lordship was around Lake Currane, and it would ‘appear’ that Clandonelbrick split into two separate groups, with the second group being dependent (the geographical split has only added to the confusion).  There is indeed strong record of a dependent sept, called Clan nyne Rudderie which existed independently even after the overall Lordship of Loughlegh was back in the hands of MacCarthy Mor. But this apparent ‘sub-sept’ of Clandonnelbrick for some reason did not succeed to the Loughlegh lordship! And it continued to pay ‘chief rents’ to MacCarthy Mor! It appears that its seat was at Kileughterco.

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The Lordship of Ardtully. This lordship is listed in the St. Ledger Tract of 1588 and was most probably created as an appanage by King Donnell Oge I (d. 1303) for his son Dermod (who was slain treacherously at Tralee in 1325). From Dermond’s son Finghin came the Ardtully MacCarthys. Different scholars give different origins, so it is a bit confusing.  However, whatever the exact origin, it was a comital lordship of the house of MacCarthy Mor and was also referred to as ‘MacFinghin of Ardtully’ and the Chieftain of the clan as ‘The MacFinglin’ (or ‘MacFineen’). The clan had lands in Glanerought, and the main residence was Castle Ardtully, near Kenmare in County Kerry. All of the lands of this major sept were confiscated in the wars of the 17th century and indeed the MacFinnans were exceptional soldiers in the wars of that century.  Existing into the 20th century and documented, it would seem highly likely that a hereditary for this chieftainship exists today.

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The Lordship of Ardcanaghty  This now dormant lordship was created as an appanage for Donough, a son of King Cormac Mor (d. 1359).  Also called Sliocht Fyneen Duff, and the sept held an estate in Magunihy and Trughanacmy in County Kerry, plus other detached lands. At periods they paid chief rents to the Earl of Desmond for some of their lands, as well as to MacCarthy Mor for others. By some smart legalities, the sept managed to hold onto their lands into the 19th century – and are documented into the 20th century. It would seem likely that a hereditary for this chieftainship exists today.

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The ‘Lordship’ of Castle Lough. This writeup will necessarily cover some additional history and offer some "speculations." Castle Lough was a MacCarthy Mor castle and is mentioned in the St. Ledger Tract of 1588 as one of his demesne lands. It was located on one of the Lakes of Killarney, and was in direct possession of the last King of Desmond, Donal IXMacCarthy Mor, who died in 1596.


As was his right, and legal under Irish law, he gave, while he was still living (and via his will as well), the castle and other lands to his ‘base son’ Donal MacCarthy. This transfer to Donal, which wasn’t the whole estate of the late MacCarthy Mor, was agreed to by the Queen of England in 1598! In any case, Donal on his return to Ireland after securing succession of his inheritance, joined the O Neill rebellion, and proclaimed himself as MacCarthy Mor. Even as a ‘natural son’ his claim was the best! Bastardry was no impediment to succession under Gaelic Brehon Law, except in some circumstances, but Donal was recognised as being of the ‘first degree of bastardy’ and thus could succeed.  He was indeed initially recognised as MacCarthy Mor by the majority of the MacCarthys and by O Neill as well. But Florence MacCarthy, a son of a former Prince of Carbery, who in 1588 had married the legitimate sister of ‘base’ Donal, the lady Ellen, she being the only daughter of the last MacCarthy Mor, emerged and won the day from Donal – being recognised by O Neill and by portions of the total clan (Donal thus being ‘deposed’). It was an expedient recognition for O Neill expected that as MacCarthy Mor Florence would combine the forces in the late MacCarthy Mor’s territories with those of Carbery. Which Florence really never did.  He should never have been recognised as MacCarthy Mor for under Gaelic law the title couldn’t descend via the female line. Florence’s history and his claims are too complicated and polemical to be covered here but indeed the MacCarthy Mor title by hook or by crook continued to his descendants and was accepted by numbers of Irish people until the line became extinct in 1770. There were numerous lawsuits, petitions, and various losses and restorations of lands along the way, from the early 1600’s, and then from the Cromwellian wars and Williamite wars.  

From 1601 (before the Battle of Kinsale) Florence, now doubted by his Irish ‘allies’ for double-dealing and still widely suspected by the English in spite of his claims to the contrary, was imprisoned by the English. Taken to England, he spent the 40 years following as a prisoner or under close security. He was no longer recognised as MacCarthy Mor by the English again. He did carry on his lawsuits about lands from their prisons, etc. Actually no one was ever recognised as MacCarthy Mor again by an English government.

In any case, Donal MacCarthy continued to fight for the Irish cause; when Florence was imprisoned and taken to England O Neill again recognised Donal who again ‘proclaimed’ as MacCarthy Mor. But with O Neill’s defeat at Kinsale all was lost in terms of the Irish order prevailing.  Donal, seeing that no further Spanish forces were coming, ‘came in’ and made his peace with the English as did numerous others. He didn’t pursue the issue of being MacCarthy Mor again as after Kinsale that would never have been allowed as the Irish order of things was destroyed! He had his father’s grant to him further confirmed by the English in 1605, and then basically retired to Castle Lough or to his secondary manor, Ballincarrig, though continuing to offer hospitality to his kinsmen, and still widely regarded as MacCarthy Mor.

He was a remarkable man, and soldier, and patriot, called ‘the Robin Hood of Munster’. His exploits deserve a yet unwritten full volume, for even the English admitted how he stood above Florence his brother-in-law and had no peer for bravery and leadership of his soldiers. The book by MacCarthy Glas on the life and letters of Florence MacCarthy, previously noted, contains much on Donal’s life, including an extraordinary tribute to him on pages 379-81, even though he was Florence’s enemy.  O Neill backed the wrong horse for things could have been very different had the slippery Florence not been recognised and Donal had remained as MacCarthy Mor from his first recognition. But it must be said that in his way, very different from Donal’s, Florence was also a remarkable historical figure. He never stopped using the word ‘bastard’ when referring to Donal – but the last recorded words of Donal about Florence were that ‘he is nothing but a damned counterfeit Englishman’.

NOW, if the grant of lands including Castle Lough is recognised as a true ‘appanage’ then IT and not Sliocht Cormac of Dunguile would be the ‘last’ appanage given by a ruling MacCarthy Mor to a son, and cannot be dismissed as a grant of ‘exclusion’ from succession! And thus the current ‘Lord of Castle Lough’ (for want of a better description) would have the best claim to be MacCarthy Mor, surpassing that of the current MacCarthy Mor who is of the Dunguile sept/appanage (as was Samuel Trant McCarthy who wrote The MacCarthys of Munster). But there is no known descendant of the first ‘lord’ of Castle Lough, and the general consensus has been that the line of Donal the base son is most probably extinct. His son, Donal Oge, still held the lands in 1626, but then transferred the castle and other lands back to the the line of Florence MacCarthy of Carbery – who as said was married to the daughter of the last MacCarthy Mor. This was done by 1638 for reasons which have not entirely come to light, but it does appear that Donal was on good terms with his half-sister Ellen, the wife of Florence (still in prison in England) and that fact may have had something to do with the transfer. Anyway, Donal Oge had been referred to as of ‘Ballincarrig’ so it  is clear that that manor was kept for the progeny of Donal the base son. A generation later in 1663, we see a Colonel Daniel MacCarthy of Ballincarrig appear in a reference concerning the restoration of lands (which were not restored to him), and he most probably was Donal Oge’s son and a grandson of Donal the ‘base son’. They lost all in the Cromwellian and Williamite wars.

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Donal’s line has been considered extinct but there is indeed trace of the female line into the 20th century (see S.T. McCarthy, The MacCarthys of Muster, 65-66 where he reproduces a mid-19th century letter by a priest descendant and comments by another priest descendant). That reference and another state that a male-line direct descendant of Donal/Donal Oge/Colonel Daniel emigrated to America in the 19th century. And that the line indeed was called a line of MacCarthy ‘Chieftains’ founded by Donal. Those comments for finality need to be explored further, and if correct can be followed up from there. So, the questions remain: is the line really extinct? if not, what is the trace of the line which went to America? was the grant to Donal by his father the last reigning MacCarthy Mor a real appange, and thus the ‘last’ appanage? It should also be stated here that S.T. McCarthy, who assumed the  MacCarthy Mor title based on descent from the Dunguile line, would naturally (as he did in his book) have ignored the grant to Donal insofar as being meaningful to any claim to the chiefship; as did Terence McCarthy the false MacCarthy Mor in his book Historical Essays, and that man went further to state that the grant to Donal was actually ‘exclusionary’. That statement is certainly nonsense for there is no recording of the grant being an exclusion!  It is an open question, which the false MacCarthy Mor was aware of and in his quest for unquestioned legitimacy and power simply wished to close off re any possible future discussion. Well, the question is on the table now! And not closed-off. Again, the Association says that the new MacCarthy Mor (from 2009, claimed from 1998-99) is certainly legitimate and has beyond doubt the best claim, only subject to a superior claim. And the only possible one can be from a direct male-line descendant of Donal the ‘base son’, yet unidentified and most probably extinct. This Association continues its unconditional support of the new MacCarthy Mor proclaimed in 2009, and the comments re Donal the ‘base son’ are only written so as to be totally transparent and so as to never be accused of not having stated the whole truth.

Finally, both S.T. McCarthy and false Terence neglected (probably deliberately, certainly that’s the case with Terence) to point out that Donal the ‘base son’ had received a Bull of Legitimacy from the Pope, which arrived from Rome in 1600 (probably applied for when he first proclaimed as MacCarthy Mor). That document setting aside bastardy certainly cleared Donal’s path to being and remaining MacCarthy Mor and in removing any international impediments, even though there was no succession problem under Irish Brehon Law.

OTHER: there is history of a few other MacCarthy septs directly dependent on a MacCarthy Mor, of which we have only limited knowledge. These are Sliocht Teige Kittagh and Sliocht Nedeen, which were located near Kenmare, and a Sliocht Cormac of Ballycarnig. The lands were lost, and the septs are considered extinct at this time. But the first two mentioned both had a representative living into the mid-17th century and, who knows, there could be a descendant today living on the lovely Ring of Kerry near Sneem. It should be said that Sliocht Nedeen and Sliocht Teige Kittagh could have been offshoots/branches of the major appanage of Clandermond located nearby. The origins of any such branching are lost in the mists of time. They are both mentioned and their lands specified in the Desmond Survey of the lands of the last MacCarthy Mor, taken just after his death in 1596.

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