The Barretts of Cork, part two

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

The Barretts of Cork, part two

In Cork there was a lack of records for the fifteenth and much of the sixteenth centuries, and this is reflected in the story of land. We know that the Barrett lordship as bestowed by the Duke of Clarence in 1366 contained much of eastern Muskerry, but there is then a gap in our knowledge until the 1570s, when we find that the Barretts now have perhaps two thirds of the same territory, having lost the remainder to the MacCarthys. The process of loss is hidden from us apart from the 1488 sale of Cloghphilip castle, to which we shall return.

 The shape of things to come was prefaced by the slaying of Cormac MacCarthy by the Barretts, apparently during the 1380’s or 1390’s.  Cormac was the lord of the MacCarthy portion of Muskerry and shows how powerful the Barretts were at this time. This may have been the reason for the MacCarthy attack on the Barretts in 1404, which was rebuffed, although we have no further details. The contemporary slaying of one Andrew Barrett by MacCarthy followers may be connected.  A more serious event occurred in 1420, when two younger brothers of the MacCarthy king of Desmond (the senior line) conquered the Barrett territory and held it for a year. During this period a major battle occurred at the ford of Carrigrohane between rival MacCarthy groups, which suggests that Carrigrohane was by then, and perhaps earlier, the chief castle of the Barretts.  This was certainly the case a few years later. The 1420 occupation resulted in the Barretts agreeing to pay an annual rent to the MacCarthys.  In 1426 the Barretts, perhaps in need of protection from the MacCarthys, entered into a treaty with the Earls of Desmond involving payment of another headrent.  Some years later, in 1439, Robert Cogan sold his title to the lordship of Muskerry to James earl of Desmond.  This was certainly in revenge for the Barrett defeat of the Cogans, for the latter no longer had any foothold in Muskerry, but by selling the paper title to Desmond, the most powerful magnate in Munster, the ultimate power in east Muskerry passed from the Barretts to the Desmonds. It must have been after this that the Desmond earls took possession of Carrigrohane castle, which had no further Barrett connection. The location of the chief place of the Barretts after this is unclear until 1468, when Sir Robert Coll sold Ballincollig castle to the Barretts (Ballincollig: place of the Coll family). This had been built by the Colls in the 1390s. 

We possess a family pedigree of the Barrett chieftains which appears to be correct from the time of Richard Óg downwards.  This dates to 1599 and was confirmed as accurate by two of the leading branches of the family at that time. This pedigree does not mention William the son of Richard Óg, tracing the descent through another brother, the otherwise unknown James. He is then recorded as the father of Edmund Barrett. This must be the man of that name who married Catherine daughter of Tadhg McCarthy, in 1452.  This marriage was said to have been arranged in order to mark a peace treaty between Barretts and MacCarthys. This Tadhg was the head of the MacCarthys of Muskerry and son of the Cormac slain by the Barretts in the late 1300’s. A later Barrett chief, James Liath, married Ellen McCarthy in the early 1500s.  In 1494, Sir James Bared, chief of his nation (that is, his lineage), was confirmed as lord of the territory of Barretts by the earl of Desmond.  This James was Edmund’s son, and better known as James Bulleragh Barrett. Full details of the rival lines of the families descent for the next century begins with this James Bulleragh as seen in the pedigree. The evidence we have indicates that the Barretts had gone partly native by this time, often electing as chieftain the most powerful individual among the near relatives of the last chieftain, which was the native Irish system in contradistinction to the English system of primogeniture, where the chieftainship went to the eldest son. Equally the usage of the English system could be adopted as a tactic if required. Some of the rival chieftains alleged that their rivals had been born outside of marriage. It is interesting to note that the wives of the Barrett chieftains were largely of native Irish stock, such as the O’Callaghans, MacCarthys, and Roches.

James Bulleragh was succeeded by his son James Liath. He was in turn succeeded by his cousin Oliver fitz William, grandson of James Bulleragh, but he was slain during the 1570’s as a rebel supporter of the last earl of Desmond. The next chieftain was John fitz Richard, another grandson of James Bulleragh, alleged to have been a bastard by his enemies. He was murdered by Beany Barrett, son of William son of James Bulleragh. Beany was hanged in Cork for this in the early 1570’s  and was succeeded in turn by two sons of James Liath, James Riabhach and John. John left no offspring and James Riabhach only a daughter, Catherine, alleged to have been a bastard, who claimed the Barrett inheritance through her husband Andrew Barrett, a Cork city lawyer, under English law.  She was oppossed by Edmund, brother of Beany and Oliver, claiming the inheritance under Irish law. Edmund’s son, William, was generally regarded as the last Barrett chieftain, and the dispute between Edmund and his son William on the one part, and Catherine and Andrew Barrett on the other, lasted several years.

The story of the Barrett territory in Muskerry is only partly visible. It is likely that the Barretts lost the lands between the rivers Bride and Lee along with the castles of Dundrinan (Crookstown) and Aglish during the fifteenth century to the MacCarthys of Muskerry. Given the evidence of alternating relations between the Barretts and MacCarthys it is interesting to note that the MacCarthys seem to have largely skipped over the Barrett territories to concentrate on the Lombard lands, with the sole exception of Cloghphilip castle, sold by John fitz Richard fitz Simon Barrett to the MacCarthys in 1488.  This enabled the MacCarthys, who took over the Lombard castle of Blarney, to contentrate on Cork city, largely bypassing the Barrett territories. By the late 1500s the Barrett territory resembled a thin snake-like undulating territory travelling from north to south for over twenty miles. The chief castles of the chieftains were Ballincollig, Castle Inch and what had been known as Castlemore of the Cogans, now Castlebarrett near Mallow. There were two further Barrett castles held by cadet lines, Garrycloyne near Blarney and Clochmaculick. This latter lay in Grange (Killumny) and Ulick is a Connacht version of William. This reminds us that ‘MacWilliam’ is found as the Gaelic alias for the Cork Barretts, surely named from one of the early chieftains named William. The Barrett territories, north to south included the parishes of Mourneabbey, Garrycloyne, much of Donoghmore, Iniscarra, Matehy, Kilcolman and Carrigrohane More and Beg, and parts of Ovens. The lordship also included the MacCarthy territory of Clanmacdonnell, including lands in Magourney, Aglish and Matehy parishes. These paid a significant annual rent to the Barrett chieftains as heirs of Richard Óg Barrett, for the ancestors of these MacCarthys had been settled on their lands by Richard Óg in the 1360s. At the division of the Barrett lordship in 1588 between Catherine/Andrew and Edmund this Clanmacdonnell rent was granted to Edmund, whose son, William, was still in possession of this rent in the 1620s, despite it being claimed by Andrew Barrett of Castlebarrett.

From the 1570s to the 1660s

Record survival again begins to become significant from around 1570 onwards. Two main events occur among the Barretts, a division within the senior line splitting up the lordship, and the loss to the MacCarthys of Castle Inch. This latter castle had been built during the second half of the fifteenth century about six miles west of Ballincollig.  By the 1570s it had become a Barrett frontier fortress, in dispute between the MacCarthy lords of Muskerry and the Barrett chiefs. Cormac MacCarthy is recorded as possessor of the castle in 1570 but by 1588 it is listed among the possessions of Catherine Barrett, daughter of the deceased chieftain, James Riabhach. In 1593 the castle was beseiged by the MacCarthys for two days, who threatened to decapitate the Barrett garrison. By 1600 it had passed entirely into MacCarthy possession.

Of more long term significance was the internal dispute among the Barretts. Chieftain James Riabhach Barrett (grandson of James Bulleragh) had died in 1583 leaving only a daughter, Catherine, who was married to one Andrew Barrett, a Cork city lawyer.  Catherine’s mother, Margery (nee Roche) petitioned the Queen the same year that Catherine inherit the Barrett lands. This was despite the fact that under Irish law the inheritor of the chieftainship and territory was Edmund Barrett, James Riabhach’s cousin. The English (Tudor) administration saw in this situation a chance to weaken the Barretts, still a powerful lineage with much territory west of Cork city. Accordingly, in 1588 the administration granted Edmund the chieftainship with only one fifth of the territory, the remaining quarters going to Catherine and Andrew.  The grants in question made no mention of Ballincollig, but we know that it was occupied by Edmund Barrett in 1591, apparently legitimatly. In that year Andrew Barret and sixty others ‘riotously’ assaulted the castle ‘with a great hammer’, breaking the iron grate of the main gate and levelling part of the wall (this gap can still be seen) before driving Edmund and his followers out of the castle.  Edmund then spent several years in efforts to recover the castle legally, and succeded in regaining possession in 1595. Three years later the Nine Years War reached Munster, when the deceased Edmund’s son, William, joined with O’Neill and the Irish army, allowing them to camp in Iniscarra in the center of the barony of Barretts before their defeat at Kinsale in 1601. After this William fled to the Continent with much of the defeated Irish army, and became a captain in the Spanish army. It appears that on the outbreak of the war in Munster Ballincollig was again captured by Andrew Barrett, and this time assaulted by William, who slew Andrew’s garrison, burned the castle and sixty surrounding houses. This was in 1600. After this Andrew petitioned the administration for compensation and for to have the formal title by which William was known, Barrett of Barrett’s Country.  In 1611 Sir Dominic Sarsfield, a Catholic lawyer and land speculator, was residing in Ballincollig castle, apparently as a tenant of William Barrett. Sarsfield had acquired by purchase parts of the Barrett territory from some of the junior branches. William was still on the Continent in 1614 but returned shortly, when he was granted a general pardon (in 1616, when he lived at Greenfields adjacent to Ballincollig). He mortgaged Ballincollig to the Coppingers in 1619 and, with his son Edmund, sold the castle and townland outright to Sir Walter Coppinger. This was in 1630. Edmund however secured a nine year least at time of sale, and so appears to have resided at Ballincollig castle as late as 1640 if not later. Thus ended the Barrett connection with Ballincollig castle.  (In the nineteenth century there were Barrett families at Toames and Carrigboy in West Muskerry who may have been descended from Edmund of Ballincollig.)

Unable to acquire Ballincollig castle, Andrew and Catherine made their chief residence at Castlebarrett, at the northern end of the lordship. One junior line of the Ballincollig branch survived for a period. William son of Edmund had one younger brother, James, apparently granted Curraleigh (wherein is situated the Iniscarra dam) by his father. James was the father of John and James Óg. John may have been resident in Ballincollig castle for a period but James remained in possession of Curraleigh. He was outlawed as a Catholic rebel in 1643 and lost Curraleigh. John was the father of William Barrett, an officer in Col. Barrett’s regiment of the Irish army in 1690.

Andrew Barrett of Castlebarrett made his will in 1613 and presumably died shortly after.  His heir was Sir James Barrett who married Janet Sarsfield, daughter of Sir Dominic, in 1624. James had several brothers, including John of Magooly in Iniscarra, to whom he leased that place. James died in 1629 leaving a son and heir, Andrew, aged 13 at the time of his father’s death. His mother Barbara married secondly the English planter Heyward St Leger, which may account for the fact that Andrew was a Protestant in adulthood. In 1639 the Commission for Defective Titles confirmed Andrew in his possession of ‘the manor of Moortown alias Castlemore alias Castlegogany’, that is, the lordship of the territory of Barretts. He of course could not use his ancestral title as lord of Muskerry as by now this title was firmly in MacCarthy hands. As a Protestant Sir Andrew remained loyal to the English during the Confederate War (1641 – 1654) and therefore retained his estates, unlike the many junior Barrett lines who all forfeited. Andrew’s son, Sir William, succeeded him, but he died in Bristol in 1672. He was made a baronet in 1665. On his death his St Leger half-brothers tried to seize the Barrett estates, but only secured around one half. The remainder, due to entail, went to Sir William’s cousin, John Barrett, who was a minor in the wardship of Justin MacCarthy (Lord Mountcashel) and thus raised a Catholic. He was a colonel in the Irish army and raised his own regiment in the war of 1689-90. He had been MP for Mallow in King James’ parliament of 1688. Colonel John Barrett was son of James, son of Richard, son of the Andrew who married Catherine daughter of James Leagh Barrett. After the defeat of the Irish their lands were confiscated, including the estate of Colonel John, and put up for sale in 1702.  Most of this was purchased by Nicholas Colthurst, ancestor of the family who today own Blarney Castle. In 1641 Andrew Barrett had owned approximately 21,000 acres and head rents from several thousand more. By 1702 the forfeited estate of Colonel John Barrett amounted to less than 12,000 acres. Colonel John was one of the ‘Wild Geese’ who joined the French army after exile from Ireland. He was killed at the battle of Landen (in modern day Belgium) in 1693 while leading the charge of his regiment. Thus ended the story of the Barrett chieftains.

Junior Branches

Every significant lineage had territory reserved for the chieftain family and had over time shed several junior branches. The Barretts were no exception. The disputes between the two leading lines had resulted in the greater share of the territory going to the baronets’ line, that of Andrew and Catherine. Most of this however was in the northern half, from Castlebarrett down to Grenagh, although they did retain a few townlands around Ballincollig and Iniscarra. The recognised chieftains, the line who retained Ballincollig castle, held on to half a dozen townlands scattered around the territory, including Ballincollig itself. Over time they sold these one by one, including Ballincollig itself.

There were over one dozen junior branches. Most of these seem to have managed to remain independent of the senior lines, coming to hold their lands of the crown, that is, in outright ownership, despite clearly being relatives of the chieftan lines. Some of them were clearly very old. We have already met the Garrycloyne line back in the 1320s. They lost possession here as late as 1604. The remains of their castle was demolished in the 1960s.

The lands of Currabeha, Ardrum and Iniscarra were also held by an old family, first recorded here in 1364. A popular given name among them was Ulick, suggesting a connection with the Mayo Barretts. (Iniscarra parish lay north of the Lee, to west of Blarney.) Helen Barrett was the forfeiting proprietor of Currabeha in 1654, but there were Barretts here holding on lease at least down to the 1760s.

Another such early line must have been those who built the castle of Clochmaculick, ‘the castle of the sons of Ulick [Barrett]’. This place is now known as Grange. Along with several surrounding townlands it lies in the barony of Barretts, about four miles west of Ballincollig. There is a reference to a castle here as early as 1301, and it must have become a frontier fortress of the Barretts by 1588, when listed among the lands of Andrew and Catherine Barrett. By 1616 however it had passes to Sir Dominic Sarsfield who renamed it Sarsfield’s Grange. Sarsfield, Lord Kilmallock, was a Catholic lawyer and land speculator who acquired much of the Barrett territory south of the River Lee during the first three decades of the seventeenth century through purchase and mortgage. There are no remains of the castle.

The three main areas where junior branches can be found at the commencement of records in the 1570s were around Ballincollig south of the river Lee, in and around Iniscarra north of the river, and further north in the upland parish of Donoghmore.

Those near Ballincollig were at Ballinguilly a few miles south of Ballincollig, Ballyshoneen to east of this, near Ballinora, and the Barretts of Curraheen, just south east of Ballincollig. The Ballyguilly line sold out in 1628, Ballyshoneen in 1640, and Curraheen in 1605. We might also include the Barretts of Coolyduff and Lackenshoneen, whose lands lay immediately across the Lee on the north side opposite Ballincollig itself. These sold out in 1617, as did their neighbours, the Barretts of Carrigrohane Beg. The outlawry of John Barrett of Ballyguilly as an Irish rebel, in 1643, suggests that he may have held the townland on lease. Also outlawed at this time were John and Redmond Barrett of Ballyshoneen.

In the Iniscarra area we find the Barretts of Magooly, Ballyanly, Gurteen, and Curraleigh. These lay in a tight group in the middle of Iniscarra parish to north of the river between the modern Iniscarra dam and Inisleena to the west. Magooly was sold in 1630 and we have already dealt with the Barretts of Curraleigh. Magooly was held on lease from Sir James Barrett and had been thus held on a lease since 1570.  Gurteen and Ballyanly were forfeited in 1654 due to the rebellious activities of John Barrett of Ballyanly and James of Gurteen. Some of these lines may have retained their former lands on leasehold. In 1690 Coomleigh Barrett of Ballyanly and James of Gurteen were outlawed as Irish rebels.

In Donoghmore parish there were the Barretts of Pluckanes, Ballycraheen and Knockane. All three lines forfeited in 1654. Finally we might note the Barretts of Placus (now Greenfield), in Mournabbey near Castlebarrett. We find record of them as far back as 1575 and they continued here into the mid eighteenth century, in 1641 holding of Andrew Barrett of Castlebarrett.

The End