Castle and Townlands

DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE HISTORY OF KILBRITTAIN PARISH
 

Kilbrittain Village from the Village Park

Typescript 1: TOWNLANDS: List of townlands with their acreage and historical notes for each, plus an explanation of the meaning of placenames.
Typescript from mid-late 20th century found in parish archives, containing material gathered from various sources (chiefly Bruno O’Donoghue ‘Parish Histories and Place Names of West Cork’ — self-published, undated 20th c?) by an unknown author.

 

KILBRITTAIN CASTLE

Kilbrittain Castle today

 KILBRITTAIN: Cill Briton – Church of the Briton. Compare Tisaxon further east: Tigh Sacsan – house of the Saxon, where Saxon or English monks established a monastery in 7th century. Dr Olden (History of the Church of Ireland) says the parish was named from Hubritan, an Englishman, one of three brothers who settled near Kinsale and from whom Tisaxon is named. On the other hand Dr P W Joyce, who wrote the ‘Place names Ireland’, said ‘Breatan could have been a personal name as Breathnach and indicating British or Welsh origin’. The third colony which came to Ireland was led by Nemedh. They came, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, in the year 2540 BC. Ard Nemeidh, now Barrymore or the Great Island in Cork Harbour, where he is supposed to have residence, derives its name from him. He had three sons, one of whom was called Britan Maol. The colony was affected by a plague and great numbers left the country. Many crossed to the nearest island, said to be called Britain from this Britain Maol who led the emigrants.

There is no mention of Kilbrittain as a parish at the Synod of Kells in 1152. At that synod the parish name was written Cellsinchill, which might mean Kilshinihan or possibly Shanakill. A synod was a convocation of bishops, abbots, heads of monasteries and leading clergy and at this Synod of Kells dioceses as we have them today were finally defined. The Diocese of Kenniegh, which contained seven — or possibly eight — parishes, was united to Cork at this Synod. (Tisaxon parish is mentioned.)

According to Dr Smith (History of Cork, 1750), Kilbrittain was anciently written Capella de Kylshinthin de Kilbritton, from which it might be inferred that Kilshinihan was the premier church. Kilbrittain was a prebend in 1939 – a prebend, according to the English dictionary, meant the share of the revenue of a cathedral or collegiate church allowed to the clergymen who officiated in it. He would be termed a ‘Prebendary’. It had become ‘Ecclesia de Kilbrittain et Kilshinihan’ by 1591.

The barony of West Kinalea embraced the modern parishes of Courceys (Ballinspittle), Kilbrittain, Ballymodan and Innishannon (Kilbrittain is at present in the Barony of Carbery) and which in the 14th century included the ancient parishes of Ringrone, Templetrine, Templemichael, Killooney, Currurane, Rathclarin, Burren, Kilshinihan, Brinny, Kilgobbin, Rathurought and Kildarra. Ringrone, Templetrine, Templemichael, Rathclarin and Brinny are Civil Parishes. Killooney is in the Civil Parish of Kilroan; Currurane is in the Civil Parish of Ringrone, Burren is in the Civil Parish of Rathclarin, Kilshinihan is in the Civil Parish of Kilbrittain while Killgobbin, Rathdrought and Kildarra are in the Civil Parish of Ballinadee. It has been possible to trace church sites and graveyards in every case with the exception of Burren.

According to Lewis (Topographical Dictionary or Ireland, 1837) Kilbrittain village in the 1830s contained 48 houses and had 288 inhabitants, while Ballinadee village contained 60 houses and had 284 inhabitants. Kilbrittain village is in neither the townland nor the parish of Kilbrittain, it is in the townland of Glanduff and in the parish of Rathclarin.

KILBRITTAIN TOWNLANDS

Kilshinihan (530 acres). Cill Sheanachain – Church of St Shanahan. At the south-west are church ruins and site of a graveyard. Here also is a Mass-rock. At the west side is Sceardan – Ravine or cascade.

Knockbrown (824 acres). Cnoc a’Bhrunaigh – Brown’s Hill. At the east side is Clashavoon Crossroads – Clash a’Mhuin (hollow of the urine). A story attaches to the name. Also at the east side was a forge. On east boundary is ‘An Bothar Diomahoin’ – idle or disused road.

Baurleigh (885 acres). Barr Liath – Grey Top. At the north side is Portanaddan – Port an Fheadain, Ridge or bank of the streamlet. At the south side is the Brat Uinne – Summit of furze or gorse.

Maulmane (222 acres). Meall Madhon – Middle Knoll or Hillock. Slate quarries were worked at the west side. At the south end is Maulmane Bridge. On the north border is Cloca a’Tairbh – stepping-stones of the bull. Here in 1817 Fr James O’Mahony, PP Bandon, was killed by a fall from his horse on his return home after having administered the last rites to the ageed PP of Kilbrittain.

Killanamaul (218 acres). Cill na Meall – Church of the Knolls. In the centre is sit of an ancient church. At the east side are traces of a ring fort.

Maulnaskinlehane (248 acres). Meall na Sceinmneachan – Knoll of the Active or Alert Persons, Scouts. It might read ‘Meall Seime an Leacain’ – Misty Knoll of the Slope or Hillside. It is written ‘Maulnaskiminahan’ in Petty’s Map of 1655.

Coolshinagh (180 acres). Cul Sionnach – Recess or Hill-back of the Foxes.

Ballymore (421 acres). Baile Mor – Large Place or Holding.
At the south side is Tobaracapeen – Tobar a’Chaipin, Well of the hood.

Ballybeg (259 acres). Baile Beag – Small Holding. The area embracing the townlands of Ballymore and Ballybeg is usually termed ‘Belly’. In 1478 Thady McCarthy (Macarryg), canon of Cork and a near relative of Blessed Thaddeus, petitioned the Holy See for confirmation of the union of the rectories of Burren and Rathclarin to his canonry and prebend of Buelly. Burren and Rathclarin were joined to Kilbrittain at this date. In the Protestant Church, on the resignation of Dr Nelligan Kearney, prebendary of Kilbrittain, in 1872, the parish was united with Rathclarin. The church of Killanamaul may well have been the church of this canonry.

Baltinakin (587 acres). Bailtin ‘ic Chuinn – McQuinn’s Little Holding.

Knoppogue (587 acres). Cnappog – Tuft or Hillock. At the south side is Knoppogue Wood. At the east is Crois na Leanbh cross-roads.

Kilbrittain (515 acres). Cill Briton – Church of the Briton. Kilbrittain castle was erected by de Courceys as were the castles of Kilgobbin, Ringrone and Old Head. These were a Norman family who came to Ireland with Henry II in 1171. John de Courcey became Lord of Ulster in 1177. In the succeeding century they became Earls of Kinsale and Lords of the Barony of Courceys, so named after them. Edmund de Courcey, bishop of Ross, resigned in 1517 in favour of John Imurrily, Abbott of Abbeymahon. He died in 1518 and is buried in Timoleague Abbey. There he built the tower, dormitory, infirmary and library. The original burial place of the de Courceys was in Timoleague Abbey, but a new family tomb was built in Ringrone graveyard in 1819. Kilbrittain castle was built on the remains of an earlier fortress of the O’Mahonys, which was constructed in 1035. According to Bennett (History of Bandon), a stone bearing this date was discovered during the last [19th] century. The O’Mahonys had long sought a fortified residence close to the sea in this area. The Danes continued to make encroachments and besides it would be considered useful for trading purposes. Mahon (from whom the surname O’Mahony), son of Cian and his wife, Sadhbh, daughter of Brian Boru, died in 1028. His mother survived him three years and died in 1031, and in the reign of his son, Brodchon, a fortress was erected at Kilbrittain.

The Augustine monastery in Cork City called the Red Abbey was founded by the de Courceys in 1430. The de Courceys in the main adhered to the old faith and narrowly escaped being sent to hell or to Connaught in Cromwell’s time.

Kilbrittain castle and lands were taken over by McCarthy Reagh – Riabhach (dark-skinned or swarthy) in 1510. The McCarthy families who derived their name from Carthach, a chieftan who lived in the 11th century, lived in South Tipperary. Abut 1151 they established themselves in Co Cork and later encroached on the territory of the O’Mahonys.

A story is told that McCarthy Reagh got the castle in consequence of one of the de Courceys having borrowed a white ferret from one of them and allowed McCarthy to hold the castle and lands as a guarantee. The ferret apparently died and McCarthy retained possession of the castle. It is more likely, however, that the de Courcey manpower was weak at the time owing to the fact that large numbers of their fighting men were absent in England taking part in the Wars of the Roses, which had concluded about this time.

A younger brother of Silken Thomas, aged 13 years, took refuge here in 1535 with his aunt, Lady Eleanor Fitzgerald, wife of McCarthy Reagh and then a widow. Bennett (History of Bandon) gloats over an engagement Bandon militia had with the McCarthys at Knocknagarrane in 1642. ‘To get back to the sheltering walls of Kilbrittain’, he says ‘was to them now a matter of life or death’.

Kilbrittain castle was taken by Boyle in 1642.

At the time of the Battle of Kinsale, Donal na bPiobai McCarthy was Lord of Kilbrittain. He derived his name from the fact that he made himself master of a ship carrying some pipes of wine and which had foundered near Burren Pier. He died in 1612.

The McCarthys supported James II and in consequence of his defeat at the Boyne in 1690 castle and lands passed to the Hollow Sword Blade Company, an English company engaged in the manufacture of edged weapons for the Crown and which often received grants of land in lieu of cash payments. Castle and lands were purchased from them by the Stawell family early in the 18th century, who rebuilt it. Several members of the family were MPs for Kinsale. On the marriage of an heiress of the family of St Ledger Alcock they adopted the name of Alcock Stawell. An earlier St Ledger was Viscount Doneraille in 1703. His daughter, Lady Elizabeth Aldworth, who was grandmother of Colonel Alcock Stawell, had the distinction of being the only lady Freemason.

The castle was burned in 1920 and lay in a ruinous state until restored by Mr Winn.

Ruins of the old parish church and graveyard are outside the castle walls on the north side, in what is termed ‘the church field’. According to Webster (Diocese of Cork) a monumental slab to the Barry family recorded the death of Lieut. Charles Barry of the North Cork Militia, who fell at Oulart on 28th May 1798. According to Lewis (Topographical Dictionary), the church was in ruins but divine service was regularly performed in the schoolhouse at Kilshinihan. At the south side of the townland is what is known as the Dairy Road, leading from Barleyfield Bridge at the west. A schoolhouse on the roadside was, according to Webster, licenced for religious service in 1834 and continued to be used for the purpose in 1910. This was a mixed school and had 25 on the roll. Both church and school are now disused. At the south-east, near the Sand Crossroads, is a holy well at which ’rounds’ were performed. Sub-divisions are Tounroe – Tamhan Ruadh (red patch of land) at the west side and Clashavonnia – Clash a’Bhainne (milky vale) at the east.

Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy was born in 1456. His father’s name is not known. His mother was Fitzmaurice from Co Kerry. He was thought to have been McCarthy Mor of Muskerry or possibly McCarthy Glas of Gleannacrim (Dunmanway) but is now generally believed to have been of the sept of McCarthy Reagh of Kilbrittain. An Italian priest of the Congregation of Christian Doctrine, writing in 1800, says he was born in Castello Clavinese in Hibernia of the royal blood of Machar. His birth in a castle proves this. Sr Angela (Diocese of Cork) favours Carriganassig Castle, another McCarthy Reagh stronghold on the right bank of the Bandon river, as his birthplace. There is a vague tradition that he was born at Carrigroe, west of Clonakilty, but no castello exists. Rathbarry (Castlefreke) nearby belonged to the Barrys. Sr Angela suggests the name Carrigroe might be confused with Knockroe in Innishannon parish on the verge of which is Carriganassig Castle.

Blessed Thaddeus was appointed to the See of Ross in March 1482 in his 27th year. He was in Rome at the time where he was consecrated bishop in May of that year. A fierce opposition to his appointment came from Corca Laidhe, the ruling family of which were the O’Driscolls and, besides, a bishop Odo O’Driscoll had been consecrated Bishop of Ross after the previous bishop’s death in 1473, by the Archbishop of Cashel. Rome, apparently, was not aware of the appointment and Bishop O’Driscoll travelled specially to the Holy See to state his case. He was confirmed in the See of Ross and Thaddeus was asked to desist from his intrusion in that diocese but he refused and continued to press his claim even in defiance of the papal warning until sentence of excommunication upon him was pronounced by the Pope. In 1490, while Thaddeus was in Rome, Bishop William Roche of the united dioceses of Cork and Cloyne resigned and Thaddeus was appointed to the united dioceses but here again he met the opposition of the Barrys and the Fitzgeralds. He again made the long journey to Rome, which he left in 1492 armed with a special Bull from the pope confirming him as bishop of the united dioceses. He travelled incognito and in the guise of a pilgrim and entered a pilgrim hospice in the town of Ivrea, about thirty miles north of Turin in Italy, and there, worn out from worry and fatigue, he died, unknown to the world, on 24th October 1492 at the age of 36 years. The same night the bishop of Ivrea beheld a vision of a prelate and the bed in the hospice in which he died appeared to be aflame. The bishop was informed and, on visiting the hospice, beheld the same man who had appeared to him in a vision the previous night. An examination of his papers revealed the Papal Bull appointing him bishop of the united dioceses of Cork and Cloyne, as well as his episcopal ring. He was buried with all solemnity in the local church. On opening the tomb in 1742 the body was found incorrupt. Although practically unknown and unheard-of in Ireland, Thaddeus McCarthy has been venerated in Italy through the centuries. It was only in 1847, when a subscription was received by the Archbishop of Dublin as an aid to the relief of the Irish Famine and which was accompanied by a request for information regarding the bishop, that interest seems to have been taken in him in Ireland. An investigation was set up in this country and in Italy in 1850 to collect all surviving information and tradition and in which the bishop of Cork, Most Rev Dr Thomas O’Callaghan, played a prominent part. The bishops of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, with the clergy and the laity and in conjunction with Italian bishops, in 1893 petitioned the Holy See for his beatification, which was decreed by Pope Leo XIII in 1896.

The late bisop of Cork, Dr Cohalan, habitually concluded his Lenten Pastoral with an appeal to the faithful of the dioceses to pray for the canonization of Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy.

RATHCLARIN PARISH
Rath Clairin – Clairin’s Fort

In a genealogical poem of 1320, written by Cathan O Duinnin, Clarin or Clairineach, a 7th century chieftan of Cineal Laoghaire, with his wife, is described in a few verses as visiting St Mocolmog, founder of Kinneigh monastery in 617 AD, to ask his prayers that they might have a family. The late Mr John T Collins, West Cork historian, was of opinion that Rathclarin was the residence of this chieftan and from him derives its name.

RATHCLARIN TOWNLANDS

Clooncalla More (547 acres) Cluain Calaidh – Plain of the Riverside or Ferry. The sorrounding country is generally termed Maryborough form Maryborough House in this townland.

Clooncalla Beg (232 acres)

Ballycatteen (336 acres). Baile Caitin – Plain of Osier Blossoms. Osiers were a species of sally twigs used in basked-making.

Cloonderreen (336 acres). Cluain a’Doirin – Plain of the Little Oakwood. At the east side are remains of an old church and graveyard. According to Lewis (Topographical Dictionary) this church is supposed to have been founded in 1296 for Knights Templars, a religious and military Order founded in Jerusalem about 1116 for the defence of pilgrims to the Holy City. The Order was popular on the continent and had papal approval. Accused of heresy, immorality and other offences the Order was suppressed in 1312. There may have been abuses but their downfall was brought about principally by King Philip the Fair of France who was able to lay his hands on much of their property. Knights of St John of Jerusalem exist in St John’s Ambulance brigade, which does useful work. V. Hurley, in Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society in 1979, said Lewis gave names of churches supposed to have been built by the Knights Templar but gave no authority for this claim. Herbert Wood, who wrote in 1906 a book ‘The Templars in Ireland’, records no Templar possessions in either Co Cork or Co Kerry. As against this, the Annals of Youghal mention a Knights Templar house near the town. Webster (Diocese of Cork) mentions remains of the church and its surrounding graveyards but makes no further comment. According to local tradition this was an Order church and was a branch of Clogagh. Sir James Ware, who was born in Dublin in 1594 and who is described in the Dictionary of National Biography as a distinguished Irish antiquary and historian, brackets Clogagh with Balyvacadane. Ballyvacadane is supposed to have been founded for Austine nuns by Cormac Laidir McCarthy, Lord of Muskerry, in 1450. He also founded Kilcrea Friary for Franciscans and in which he his buried. Ballyvacadane was later a Franciscan Monastery. Fr Donagh Mooney, Franciscan Provincial, in 1617 made a list of Third Order houses in Ireland. He wrote: ‘There were a great number of men belonging to the Third Order in Ireland who lived in community and devoted themselves to a religious life. They were principally engaged in assisting the local clergy in their pastoral duties and in conducting schools for the education of the boys of the district.’ He found three such houses in Munster: Cill na nDealbh in Tipperary and Ballyvacadane in Cork but adds, ‘I have forgotten the name of another place in the same diocese and I have lost the note I made’. According to Fr Coombes, this might well refer to Clogagh. Fr Mooney continued, ‘in the beginninig, stressing the contemplative aspect of the Franciscan vocation, they favoured houses in remote sites removed from the bustle and distraction of the towns’.

John T Collins wrote: ‘The darkness of the penal days closed in on Timoleague as well as on the rest of Ireland and the few surviving friars went into hiding. There is a strong local tradition that they sought refuge at Clogagh, further up the Arigidin river.’

Fr Holland (Diocese of Cork) wrote :’Clogagh. Notwithstanding that Sir James Ware gives it as a house of the Franciscan Order, its history is surrounded with obscurity and there are only very insignificant remains at the present day.’ In 1592 a Fiat of Queen Elizabeth reads :’Lease to Patrick Grant of the late religious house of Clogagh containing half a carucate of land – parcel of the possessions of the late religous house of Monaster Calle-Mac-Ildane.’ According to Lewis: ‘At Clogagh are the picturesque ruins of an abbey.’

Garryandruig (796 acres) Garran na Druinne – Grove of the Ridge or Hump. At the east side is a ring fort. It is written Garanedringe in 1659 census.

Barleyfield (796 acres). Gort na hEorna – Field of the Barley. Gortnahorna Wood and Gortnahorna Demesne, in which are the ruins of Gortnahorna House of the Sealy family, are at the east side. At east side also is a disused corn mill, near which is Barleyfield Bridge. At the south side is Baker’s Well. It is written Gortnahorna in 1659 census.

Ardacrow (523 acres). Ard a’Chro – Height of the Hut or Enclosure. It might read Height of the Blood or Gore, possible site of skirmish.

Burren (654 acres). Boireann – Stoney District. At the east side is Tobernasool – Tobar na Sul (well of the eyes) with cures, it is claimed, for eye defects.

Lisheenaleen (205 acres) Lisin a’Lin – Little Fort of the Flax. Flaxfort is the local name. Flax was probably spread out to dry after steeping. At the west side is Ballyhinarage Bridge – Beal Ath and Ghearrtha (ford mouth of the ravine or cutting.)

Shanakill (182 acres) Seana-Chill – Old Church or Burial Ground. Although there is a tradition of a graveyard here, no trace remains.

Glanduff (459 acres) Gleann Dubh – Dark Glen. At the north side are Kilbrittain Village and Glanduff Wood. At the east was a corn mill, while at the west end is Barnyareigh cross-roads – Barr na hEirghe (Summit of the Rising Ground). It might read Bearna Iar Righe (gap of the western slope). It is written Cloneduf in Down Survey map 1654.

Farranagark (297 acres) Fearrann na gCearc – Land of the Hens or Grouse. The Protestant church is built on the site of the old parish church of Rathclarin. According to Webster (History of Cork) the early 17th century church fell into disrepair after the rebellion of 1641 and a new church was erected about 1650. A grant of £314 was made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners towards its renovation in 1835. He adds: ‘Bells were placed in the church in memory of the Sealy brothers of Burren’. In 1876 a clock was placed in the tower by the late Ludlow Sealy of Burren and a peal of tubular bells has been erected to his memory and that of his brothes (J H Cole). Nearby is Tobernatrinoda – Tobar na Trionoide (Trinity Well).

Trinity Well in Farnagark

Garranefeen (512 acres) Garrran Fionn – Pleasant Grove. Three ring-forts are in the townland. At the west side is Toberalaher – Tobar a’Leathair (Leather Well) where leather was steeped. South side is termed Harbour View.

According to Rev J H Cole, Innishannon (Records of Cork, 1903), among the parochial organisations is an orphanage established in Rathclarin old schoolhouse.

According to S A Map, at east side of Ardacrow townland, less than half a mile south of Barnyareigh Cross is Rathclarin Convalescent Home.

Townlands in Civil Parish of Ringrone, in Ecclesiastical Parish of Kilbrittain

Garranereagh (430 acres) Garran Riabhach – Grey or Striped Grove.

Currurane (372 acres) Corr Uarain – Elevation of the Cold Spring/Water. Cooling spot for cattle. At east side are church ruins and graveyard.

Glanavaud (100 acres) Gleann a’Bhaid – Glen of the Boat. A boat slip was here.

Carrigcannon (120 acres) Carrig Cheann-Fhionn – White-topped rock. At the south side is a large ring-fort.

Coolmain (460 acres) Cul mein – Hill-back of the Cleft or Opening. At the west side is a small castle of the McCarthy Reaghs of Kilbrittain. It was unimportant and was built to protect the nearby landing place or to serve as a storehouse for material delivered by sea. It was forfeited by the McCarthys and acquired by the Hollow Sword Blade Company. It was purchased from them by the Jephson family who sold it about the middle of the last [19th] century. On the coast is an inlet called Scott’s Strand.

Garaneanasig (373 acres) Garran an Easaigh – Grove of the Cascade or Waterfall.

Ballydownis (73 acres) Baile Ui Dhonngusa – Habitation of Dennis Family. Dennis was a popular Kinsale surname.

Glanavirane (197 acres) Gleann a’Bhoighreain – Glen of the Bulrushes. It might mean Gleann a’Bhiorain – Glen of the Little Peak. At the west side is Howe’s Strand.

Townlands in the Civil Parish of Templetrine

Clonbouig (428 acres) Cluain Ui Bhuadhaigh – Bogue’s Plain or Pasture Land. This was an old Corca Laidhe surname. It was a popular O’Sullivan name derived from Buadhach O’Sullivan. The O’Sullivans lived near Cahir in Co Tipperary and, following the Norman Invasion, were forced to migrate to the Beara Peninsula about 1192. (Buadhach means Victorious).

Bawnea (466 acres) Ban Aodha – Aodh’s (Hugh’s) Lea-land. At the south side is Bawnea Wood. At the west side are Blanket Wood, Kiely’s Wood and Spectacle Wood.

Steilaneigh (43 acres) Stiall and Fhiaidh – Deer’s Strip. Stiall an Eich – Strip of the Horse, according to Dr Joyce (horse-grazing strip).

Lisheen (44 acres) Lisin – Little Ring-fort. A ring fort is at the east side.

Killeens (132 acres) Cillini – Little Churches. Here is the site of an ancient church.

Clashreagh (132 acres) Clais Riabhach – Grey or Striped Vale

Knockaneroe (128 acres) Cnocan Ruadh – Red Hillock.

Ballynagaragh (299 acres) Baile na gCurrach – Place of the Swamps. The name was later written Bogstown from which it has developed into Boxtown.

Rochestown (104 acres) Baile an Roistigh – Roche’s Holding. Roches were a Norman family. They built Shippool Castle.

Hackettstown (182 acres) Baile an Haiceidigh – Hackett’s Habitation. This Norman surname is common in Leinster. It is rare in Co Cork.