No commentary dealing with the former Kingdom of Desmond could be complete without some mention of Terence Francis McCarthy, born in Belfast in 1957. This man (still living) is indeed a MacCarthy scholar and he ‘devised’ a descent from the last accepted ‘appanage’ of a living MacCarthy Mor which proved even to experts that he indeed was MacCarthy Mor! In addition, combined with a prodigious historical knowledge, Terence used his position as MacCarthy Mor in a very public way and indeed he became without doubt the leader of the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs from its founding until his own exposure as ‘bogus’ in 1999.
We will not herein recount the total sequence of Terence’s activities from when he became ‘active’ as MacCarthy Mor and was then officially recognised by the Office of Chief Herald until he was finally delisted as lacking genealogical integrity. The history of Terence’s ‘hoax’ has been covered on numerous internet sites and elsewhere. There can never be any conclusion about Terence McCarthy but that he was never MacCarthy Mor, and that through fabrication and fraud he managed to attain recognition (and a certain wealth) to the eventual shame and embarrassment of many many decent people who believed in him and his claims and his stated objectives. Also among the embarrassed are organisations such The Standing Council of Irish Chiefs, the government of Ireland which through its Office of Chief Herald certified the legitimacy of Terence F. McCarthy, and the MacCarthy Clan Societies. The chief blame for Terence McCarthy lies with the Office of Chief Herald, which confirmed his chiefly status to the many people who inquired about his bona fides prior to becoming involved with him, or joining his fabricated house order, etc. Thus those people can never be regarded as ‘gullible’ or ‘credulous’ as Terence’s bona fides were substantiated to them by the highest government source in Ireland. Again, all of these comments can be found in depth in other places so they will not be repeated here.
What needs to be mentioned is that all of the legitimate attacks on Terence McCarthy succeed in accomplishing more than castigating him: they also result in burying the good work he did to revive a knowledge of Gaelic history, Gaelic government, and indeed the history of Irish families and their legitimate inheritances. In short, the attacks on Terence McCarthy have resulted without doubt in ‘throwing out the clean baby along with the dirty bathwater’. This needs to be discussed from an objective viewpoint so that even more of the Irish history (which Terence tried to salvage and make current albeit to his personal benefit) is not lost behind the wall of condemnation of a false MacCarthy Mor and by connection of all those who advocate positions which he also happened to hold, for example succession by ‘tanistry’.
Terence certainly provided himself with a ‘comfortable’ endowment via his activites in selling memberships in his ‘house order’ of Niadh Nask; plus selling some incorporeal hereditaments which indeed were and are in the legitimate possession of the head of the Royal House of Desmond. By the way, the Niadh Nask at the time was fully certified as legitimate by the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry, thus again no person who joined can be regarded as ‘credulous’ or ‘gullible’ as that Commission was and is ‘the’ accepted final authority on chivalric orders!
As to achivements, it in justice must be acknowledged that he did help accomplish the very public goal of reawakening current Ireland to its total historical past. He was an indefatigable worker. Hundreds and hundreds of his letters remain in private hands, and have never been seen by his critics; some are indeed very insightful into the characters of people who associated with him on the Council of Irish Chiefs, etc. Many of his letters capture his activities on behalf of objectives which many of his adherents shared; indeed many of his arguments and objectives were then and are now shared by many others in Ireland, independent scholars and historians who never had anything to do with Terence and were never part of his activities or his circle.
There is no question but that the history of Ireland pre-independence has been painted with a republican brush – to the point that our monuments to our past are really quite invisible in the landscape of Ireland. Any with children in school in Ireland need only read their history texts to see how little is written about the nobiliary structure of Gaelic Ireland. Terence was right about these things.
There is no desire to ‘revise’ history in order to make a sort of Robin Hood out of Terence McCarthy. Yes, he attacked some false thinking and pretentiousness on the part of the then establishment. And he stood for historical laws and cultural inheritances which he and others said were discarded incorrectly. And he worked to have more correct histories of Gaelic Ireland published and disseminated widely (his disgrace has basically stopped this work, again throwing out the baby with the bathwater).
BUT HE STILL WAS DISHONEST in terms of his basic identity. Again, so there be no misunderstanding of the position of this Association, HE WAS DISHONEST AND A FRAUD. And could indeed be a very nasty person at times! And those facts can’t and shouldn’t be forgotten. On a personal level, the best we can say is: at the end of the day, even though to many he was a ‘nice guy’ most of the time, he was still a guy who did a very bad thing by impersonating who he was not. This would be the consensus generally among the many who knew him personally.
Yet we also should not forget that some of his critics are not ‘nice guys’ and some through insensitivity and pettiness have hurt a lot of people in doing what they think are ‘good things’. For example, some (not all) of the critics of Terence tend to ‘lump’ all his supporters with him as sort of accomplices in evil. That ‘judgement’ (unjustified) hurt many many people for no one, no one, associated with Terence except with the assurance of his legitimacy, which came from ‘the’ authority of the Irish Government! So to be called ‘credulous’ or ‘gullible’ or to have it implied that they as a group were a bunch of egoists seeking acclaim for belonging to the ‘order’ etc. is ridiculously wrong, and a mean-spirited distortion. As is saying that because Terence was bogus the titles he passed out were bogus. That is also wrong, and mixes apples and pears! The great great majority of people associated with Terence believed in his mission and wanted to be part of a resurrected ‘cultural custodianship’ of a neglected part of total Irish history. Many, most, were men and women of outstanding life accomplishments, leaders in their various fields of endeavour, people to be emulated and admired, most Irishmen and Irishwomen to their bones. To suggest otherwise is as criminal as what Terence did in impersonating a true MacCarthy Mor.
There is much in Terence’s writings which is of value, and which should be used albeit carefully. And particularly his ‘pronoucements’ on the feudal character of Desmond must be rejected at least in terms of his using any semblance of feudalism as a basis for the MacCarthy Mors owning the ‘fee simple’ of territories of which they were simply the ‘overlords’. Anything else and beyond was and is contrary to Irish Brehon Law as to the rights of the inhabitants of the territories!
However, the titles/stylings he bestowed, etc. were and are legal and legitimate historically, even if he, Terence, had no right to alienate them (the now legal MacCarthy Mor, Liam, may indeed selectively 'validate' the possessions of his House, as that is his right). Terence’s many contributions to the activities and the constitution of the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs should not be forgotten. Nor his summons to all Irish inheritors of honours to be their own judges in terms of inheritances, presenting any proofs only as a requirement of membership in the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs. And he said that the Irish government of 1943-44 and of his time in the 1990’s had and has no legal right or business being involved in ‘recognitions’ of Gaelic or other families or in determining the ‘system’ under which a chief may inherit (which the Irish government said could only be English-based primogeniture). His and this Association’s position, ironically, was vindicated in 2003 when the Attorney General for the government told the Office of Chief Herald to permanently get out of the ‘courtesy recognition’ business, to include commenting that it never had the right to be in that business anyway!! As exactly what Terence McCarthy said too – so his position on that subject won the day, at the end of the day!
By adopting reasoned arguments as to why the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater, this Association only hopes to be a counterpoint to the positions of negativists. Some negativists indeed are now some of the very people who accepted awards from Terence, and who now seem unable to get past his betrayal – and have become negative as regards any new initiatives to recapture the original ideals and work for the original praiseworthy objectives!
In closing on Terence McCarthy, he still lives albeit in disgrace – except perhaps in his own mind. Who knows? This Association can only urge him to simply and finally apologise for his distortions and fabrications: to the new and real MacCarthy Mor; and even moreso to those who believed in him and his claims and have suffered all these years by being ‘lumped’ with him as co-conspirators, by the negativists; and to the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs which he also betrayed; and to Ireland in general.
Note: see the bibliography on our Home Page re further references to Terence, to include an article concerning titles which he 'granted' while pretending to be The MacCarthy Mor.
ADDITIONAL FALSE CLAIMANT (June 2012):
Given that this page deals with the 'bogus', it is probably the place to insert this 'disclaimer'. There is an Australian who styles himself as 'His Royal Highness Prince Andrew O Crowley' and who claims to be the true MacCarthy Mor, as well as being the true MacCarthy Reagh, and thus King of Desmond, etc. His claims are totally without any historical merit and the proofs he offers are preposterous! Further, he attacks all who disagree with him (including this Association) and who refuse to support him in his ridiculous quest to secure billions of dollars from the current governments of Ireland and the U.K., etc. His style of writing and serving up his claims is entirely disjointed and almost incomprehensible
He has inundated the internet with his claims and is as said very belligerent. This is placed here so the world knows that our Association rejects everything that this man says as 'lacking historical credibility'. He is a disgrace to the O Crowley Clan, which today is doing such excellent work. Yea he is a disgrace to all Irish people, in our opinion. It is unfortunate that this person has come on the scene amid all the progress that is being made in regards to the total Gaelic order and its correct history.
ADDITIONAL FALSE CLAIMANT II (October 2012)
It has now come to our attention that there is an Edward RONAN, of the United States, who is involved with a number of other people in claiming to be the Prince Regent of Desmond. And head of 'Clan Ronan'. Now this man's website(s) are not at all like that of O Crowley above, and he is not belligerent. Indeed his sites while amateurish are well-presented and he does capture some facts correctly.
But, having said that, his claims and those of his associates (3 'sub' princes) are utterly ridiculous and without any historical or legal merit whatsoever. He claims that he was elected in Cork in 2003, and presents documents, etc. He styles himself as HRH Prince Edward V. You can access his site at www.myspace.com/hrhedwardV or at www.freewebs.com/clanronan.
DISCLAIMER REGARDING THE 'ORDER' OF NIADH NASK (October 2013)
This also relates to 'false Terence'. He was the author of a carefully constructed scam called The Niadh Nask, which he said was a possession of his royal house and which had had continuous existence. He said it existed only in the 'family' after the demise of the last reigning MacCarthy Mor in 1596. Now, as to Gaelic Orders or Knighthoods, several good articles have been written and are available. The net consensus is that there is some evidence for a Gaelic-form of knighthood having existed but certainly not any chivalric 'orders'. Terence took the various references which do exist and weaved them together with his own false claims so as to present a very convincing summary. Which convinced numerous people that his 'order' indeed was legitimate according to the standards of the international law, etc. At the time of his exposure, the membership of the Niadh Nask read like a 'who's who' of important people in the world. He gave away memberships to various titled noblemen of different countries, to important church personages, academics, politicians, etc., while using their memberships as a strong credential of credibility. Plus he was successful in securing recognition from the prestigious International Commission of Chivalry. ALL designed to sell memberships to other people, which certainly netted him upwards of E300000 over the period of his 'reign' - from the admission/passage fees (normal in any order) and from on-going dues/contributions. Naturally, the Niadh Nask came tumbling down when he was exposed - and upwards of 400 people were then embarrassed for having been members of the order - as the 'negativists' often associated them with the whole fraud of Terence, or called them 'credulous' or 'gullible' etc. in print. This was unjust for no one went into the order (except the few who indeed were part of Terence's fraud from the beginning, his family and a few close 'friends') without first having been assured that a) he was legitimate as MacCarthy Mor and b) his claims for the Order of Niadh Nask were legitimate!
When he was exposed in mid-1999, most members of the Niadh Nask simply went underground or walked away. There were a few who decided to maintain relations and 'group' around the idea that the ideals of Gaelic cultural custodianship should still be retained, in spite of false Terence. That small grouping, perhaps 20 or so who had been Niadh Nask, indeed continued to maintain contact from 1999 on with some working privately to foster the proclamation and recognition of a new and legitimate MacCarthy Mor. Which as explained elsewhere on this site indeed did happen in late 2009 with the proclamation with Derbhfine approval of Liam Trant McCarthy as the new and absolutely correct MacCarthy Mor. The small grouping of former Niadh Nask just mentioned remained totally private and prudent, working away only on the objective of eventually repairing the damage done to Gaelic history and to the House of MacCarthy Mor by the fraud Terence.
BUT there were perhaps 15 or so others who were influenced in 2000-2001 to continue the Niadh Nask as a 'nobiliary fraternity' to be headquarted in Scotland. It was stated that it was to be a custodian of 'Celtic' traditions and that it would petition for approval/recognition by the Lord Lyon of Scotland. Those in the grouping mentioned in the previous paragraph, learning of this initiative, cautioned that such an action would be misguided, and totally non-productive. And would result only in additional negative publicity and comment on top of the tremendous upset already existing by the exposure of Terence. This was as said in 2000-2001. The founders of this Scottish-based 'Niadh Nask' did not take that advice and went on to form their group, which of course being public and designed to be so wound up becoming known. THE RESULT: as was cautioned and forecasted, the 'negativists' had a field day! There were several years of comments among themselves on the internet (and surely sent to others as well). The comments ripped into shreads the whole idea (to them 'ridiculous') of anyone wanting to try to 'continue' anything which emanated from Terence. And slagged the individuals who were identified as starting the whole idea (renamed Nasc Nia to conform better to Gaelic in their minds).
So, the people who did not take the advice to 'group' if they wished - but to do so very privately (as others were doing) wound up having their own names splashed all over the negativist world. And additionally the office of Lord Lyon and people involved in Scottish heradic practices were also brought in, and lampooned for even listening to the idea. To our knowledge, the Scottish-based fraternity NascNia remains in existence though of course now discredited and having had no real influence on Irish matters given their incorrect action (in the opinion of this Association, and here for the first time we agree with the 'negativists'). They took the wrong course in going public as a 'successor body' and keeping the name of the Niadh Nask which had been completely discredited via Terence's false claims!
Now, this is to state publicly that no current participants in the Kingdom of Desmond Association HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE 'SCOTTISH' INITIATIVE regarding the Niadh Nask. Indeed, all who knew about it regarded it as effort which would only bring more adverse/negative publicity and make the job of rehabilitating Gaelic cultural custodianship more difficult. Which indeed has proved to be the case. It is another problem to overcome in terms of trying to do the right thing, and one that wasn't needed at all.
In short, for the record, no one involved with our Association was or is in favour of the effort of a 'Niadh Nask Fraternity' headquartered in Scotland. The Niadh Nask died with Terence. Members could of course stay-in-touch, but not for any 'public' restoration of the Niadh Nask however re-branded.