New Settlers in Cork and Kerry

Or Desmond

As already stated, King Henry the Second gave a grant of the kingdom of Desmond to Robert Fitzstephen and Milo de Cogan. With that Robert Fitzstephen came Maurice Fitzgerald and other Anglo-Norman chiefs, A.D. 1169, who assisted Strongbow in the invasion of Ireland. In 1173, Maurice Fitzgerald was appointed by Henry the Second chief governor of Ireland; and he and his descendants got large grants of land in Leinster and Munster, chiefly in the counties of Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford, Cork, and Kerry. He died, A.D. 1177, and was buried in the abbey of the Grey Friars at Wexford. A branch of the Fitzgeralds were, down to the reign of Elizabeth, earls of Desmond; and had immense possessions in the counties of Cork and Kerry. Another branch of them became barons of Offaly,[1] earls of Kildare, and dukes of Leinster. The Fitzgeralds trace their descent from the dukes of Tuscany: some of the family from Florence, settled in Normandy, and thence came to England with William the Conqueror. The Geraldines, having frequently joined the Irish against the English, were charged by English writers as having become Irish in language and manners: hence, the origin of the expression—"Ipsis Hibernis Hiberniores" or More Irish than the Irish themselves.

The Fizgeralds, who were created earls of Desmond, became one of the most powerful families in Munster; and several of them were lords deputies of Ireland in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Gerald Fitzgerald, sixteenth earl of Desmond, was one of the greatest subjects in Europe; he held the rank of a "Prince Palatine," with all the authority of a provincial king. Having resisted the Reformation in the reign of Elizabeth, and waged war againt the English government, the earl of Desmond's forces after long contests were defeated, and he himself was slain in a glen near Castle Island, in the county Kerry, on the 11th of November, A.D. 1583; his head was cut off and sent to England, by Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond, as a present to Queen Elizabeth, who caused it to be fixed on London Bridge. James Fitzgerald (nephew of Gerald, Earl of Desmond) attempting to recover the estates and honours of his ancestors, took up arms and joined the standard of Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone. This James Fitzgerald was styled Earl of Desmond; but his title not being recognized, he was designated the sugan earl, which signifies the "earl of straw." His forces being at length defeated and himself taken prisoner, he was sent to England along with Florence MacCarthy, and imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he died, A.D. 1608; and thus terminated the once illustrious House of Desmond.

The vast estates of Gerald, Earl of Desmond, were confiscated in the reign of Elizabeth, and granted to various English settlers (called planters or undertakers), on conditions that no planter should convey any part of the lands to any of the "mere Irish:" and the English settlers were also prohibited to intermarry with the Irish, and none of the Irish were to be maintained in any family! The following are the names of the new settlers in Ireland who obtained grants of the Desmond estates in Cork and Waterford, thus confiscated: Sir Walter Raleigh,[2] Arthur Robins, Fane Beecher, Hugh Worth, Arthur Hyde, Sir Warham St. Leger, Hugh Cuffe (in Irish "Durneen"), Sir Thomas Norris, Sir Arthur Hyde, Thomas Say, Sir Richard Beacon (in Irish "Beagan") and (the poet) Edmond Spencer. In the county Kerry, the following persons got grants of the Desmond estates: Sir William Herbert, Charles Herbert, Sir Valentine Brown (ancestor of the earls of Kenmare), Sir Edward Denny, and some grants to the families of Conway, Holly, and others. Of the families who got the Desmond estates in Limerick, an account has been given in the names of the new settlers in "Thomond."

The other principal families of the county Cork, were Cogan, Carew (or Carey), Condon (or Canton), De Courcy, Barry, Barnwall, Barrett, Roche, MacGibbon and Fitzgibbon (a branch of the Fitzgeralds); Fleming, Sarsfield, Nagle, Martell, Percival, Russel, Pigott, Prendergast, Lombard, Lavallan, Morgan, Cottor, Meagh (or May), Murrogh, Supple, Stackpole, White, Warren, Hodnet, Harding, Field, Beecher, Hyde, Jephson, Garrett, Kent, Delahide (or Delahoyd), De Spencer, Deane, Daunt, Vincent, Gardiner, Beamish, Courtenay, Cuffe, Gore, Hore, Newenham (or Newman), etc.

Coppinger, Gould, Galway, Skiddy, and Terry were, in former times, very numerous and powerful families in Cork.

Some of the family "De Courcy" took the Irish name MacPatrick; some of the "De Barrys," that of MacDavid; the "De la Rupe," that of Roche, who became viscounts of Fermoy; some of the family of "Hodnet" took the name MacSherry, etc.

In Kerry, the following have been the chief Anglo-Norman and English families:— Fitzmaurice, earls of Kerry, descended from Raymond le Gros, a celebrated warrior who came over with Strongbow. Raymond having formed an alliance with Dermot MacCarthy, King of Desmond, got large grants of land in Kerry, in the territory called Lixnaw. The other principal families were those of Herbert, Brown, Stack, Blennerhasset, Crosbie, Denny, Gunn, Godfrey, Morris, Rice, Spring, etc.


[1] Offaly: The ancient territory of Offaly comprised a great part of the King's County, with part of the Queen's County and Kildare.

[2] Sir Walter Raleigh: To Sir Walter Raleigh we are are indebted for the introduction into Great Britain and Ireland (consequent upon his voyage in A.D. 1585 to colonize Virginia, in North America) of the potato plant, and the use of tobacco; the former of which has since become an almost universal article of diet, and the latter a most productive source of revenue. Sir Walter Raleigh it was who first planted potatoes in Ireland, in a field near Youghal, about A.D. 1610. In his time, too, the publication of newspapers in England is said to have originated. Copies of the "English Mercurie," relating to the threatened descent of the Spanish Armada, are still preserved in the British Museum.