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Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel, July 2011

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle, July 2011

O’Meagher documented King Henry II as having given to Philip de Worcester and Theobald Fitzwalter “the lands of O’Carroll, O’Meagher, O’Kennedy, O’Fogarty, O’Ryan, O’Heffernan, &c.,” which were sold in 1210 by King Henry’s son, Prince John, to Philip de Bracos for four thousand pounds. (Joseph Casimir O’Meagher, Some Historical Notices of the O’Meaghers of Ikerrin, 1890, pg. 49) With Fitzwalter (le Botillier), the surname Butler entered Ireland.

In 1315 Edmund Butler, the fifth primary Butler descendant, was given the lands of Hyogurty and Hyocary (Ikerrin). His son, James, through the process of submit (ancestral lands) and regrant (be given an English title and become a royal subject) was made Earl of Ormonde in 1328 by King Edward III, and James was given “the royalties, fees, and all liberties in the County of Tipperary,” a title that was in place until 1714. (pp. 14, 15) The vast majority of the O’Meaghers, along with most of the original Gaelic clans, chose not to recognize English law throughout the centuries and continually resisted the plantation of English subjects and imposition of laws by what they considered to be a foreign nation.

Through marriages Normans came to identify with the practices of their Gaelic wives and became entwined with loyalties to their native relatives and extended clan. When those English subjects who chose to remain Catholic were equally stripped of their rights, many Old English, including some Butlers, aligned with the native Irish to rebel against the crown. In some cases English landlords with sympathetic or family ties to former chieftain clans held property (enfoeffed) in trust until such time that the Catholic owner could legally reclaim it. The O’Meaghers and their allies fought against the actions leading to and associated with King Henry VIII’s reformation. Although Henry regularly gave pardons, O’Meagher noted that the king specifically refused to consider any for the O’Meaghers, “who were proclaimed traitors and rebels,” nor for “any jesuit seminary or mass priest.” (O’Meagher, pg. 33)

A study of the sanctions against Irish Catholics over time, including the Statutes of Kilkenny and culminating with the Penal Laws, is necessary in order to understand why the native Irish chose to rebel as strongly they did. That Henry VIII created so much havoc over wanting a divorce is tragically ironic. Divorce had never been an issue among Gaelic Catholics, who were instead forced to conform to the English model of Catholicism in the 12th century that was more closely aligned to Rome! Religious sanctions were the means by which the English crown could expand its jurisdiction and seize property.

The land of the O’Mehayr was included in a 1526 list of areas recommended to Henry to capture for himself, and he began to do that in 1537. The following year Lord Leonard Grey and those in power in the area around Dublin (The Pale), began to convince the Gaelic chieftains in Offally, Ely-O’Carroll, Ormond and Arra to become indentured to the authority of the King of England. Gullernow O’Maghyr, who owned by inheritance the Castle of Roscrea in Ikerrin, submitted in 1539, and Meaghers continued to either submit, have their lands seized, or lose both their lands and lives in battles throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.

In 1586 the confiscated lands in Munster were colonized with Protestant English subjects and adventurers, and land was divided into sections of 6,000 or 1,200 acres. No native Irish were allowed to be members of any Anglo family, including by the kind of fostering that had been common among the Normans as a means to raise and train noble Anglo-Irish soldiers. The planted English were required to build a mansion residence and twelve houses for freeholders and tenants. A rebellion in 1596 defeated this attempt. The plantations of Queens and Kings counties were also met with strong rebellions. The failure of these first attempts at colonization served as a lesson toward the plantation of Ulster in the early 1600s, for which enough new Protestant settlers were brought in to create a mostly Scottish majority loyal to the British crown.

In 1641 a civil war had begun and many O’Meaghers fought to defend the their septs. Twenty-seven O’Meagher castles at the time were in Ikerrin. These castles should not be presumed to have been as magnificent as the Butler’s Kilkenny Castle (above, seen from the great distance of its extended property, now owned by the city of Kilkenny) however, the ruins of the more humble castles, such as at the Rock of Dunamase, provide examples. The buildings had deep thick rock walls with small openings, angled toward the interior to allow both visibility and safe means to aim projectiles from any left/right/forward direction. Round towers were common from the time of the first monasteries where communities needed to defend themselves from Viking raids. Circular stone staircases were punctuated with a series of round wooden floors leading upward to a protected 360° lookout. Valuables could be hidden and people could take refuge in the towers.

Among the O’Meagher castles in Munster and Leinster as noted by O’Meagher were:

Ballina, in Templeree (Ikerrin)

Ballinamoe, owned by Thadeus O’Meagher (Ikerrin)

Ballyknockan, in Templetouhy, owned by William O’Meagher (Ikerrin)

Ballyviheen/Ballivehane (1641, Ikerrin) John Maher, part owner until 1666

Barnane (1641, Ikerrin) In 1622 Dermod McTeige O’Magher (deceased, of Barnan), an inquisition noted that Dermod had written in 1604 that he had been seized of Barnane Castle and 50 acres of land for his entire life; it was enfeoffed to Peter Stapleton (Drom) and Walter Fitzpatrick fitz Talbot Stapleton and their heirs in the castle and all connected to be used for the work and use of Darby O’Magher; after Darby’s death one half of all was to be for Dermod, and one half to Philip, Darby’s two sons; if there were no male sons of Philip, then it would all go to another son of Dermot and the heirs of his younger sons. Cornelius O’Magher, became heir to all after his father Dermot’s death. Cornelius, Philip, Peter Stapleton and Walter Stapleton enfeoffed in 1619 to Moelmurry McSwyny of Ballindowny “two parts of the castle and three parts of one acre of land” and that if Cornelius and Philip O’Magher paid 70 pounds they could re-enter the premises. Cornelius died in 1622 and his son and heir was 7 year old Gulleneave O’Magher. “All and singular premises, with the appurtenances, are held from our Lord the King in full by Knight Service.” (O’Meagher, pp. 71, 72)

Another inquisition in 1635 about the seized property of Dermot O’Magher noted that Dermot had died in 1618 and his son Philip was of full age and married. The property was enfoeffed during King James’ reign to Moelmurray McSwyny and his heirs and that in 1633 Philip redeemed the property from Charles McSwyny, son and heir of Moelmurray, and that “the premises were held in full by Knight Service.” (O’Meagher, pg. 76)

Boulybawn/Boulybane (Thomas O’Meagher, 1641, Ikerrin) In 1632 an inquisition noted that John O’Magher of Boulybane Castle had been seized of lands in Boulybane and Pollinstown, villages and lands of Bawnmaygrane, lands of Cappalie and Ballycreyne, of Derry Managhan and Carrowreaghe, worth 20 shillings. (O’Meagher, pp.74, 75)

Another inquisition in 1636 noted that Thomas O’Magher of Boulibane, Tipperary, was seized of one-half colpe of land and the land was left twenty years earlier to Walter Walsh of Castlehoile “under the condition of redemption” and that they were redeemed and “held from the King by Knight Service.” (O’Meagher, pg. 76)

Bawnmadrum (Thomas O’Meagher, 1641, Ikerrin), in which O’Carrolls lived in the 1840s

Carraganeen Fort, in Bourney

Carrick (1641, Ikerrin)

Castleleiny, originally Castle Owney, in Templeree near Templemore, built by Sir Hervé de Monte Marisco (later changed to de Montmorency) for his wife, Ownia/Owney (Winifrede), daughter of O’Meagher (Templemore). Through this marriage Marisco came to own Ikerrin in 1380. (I will write more about this later.) In 1663 Sir John Morris (Knockagh) still owned 899 acres of productive land and 217 acres of unproductive land at Castleleiny. (O’Meagher, pg. 100)

Clonakenny (1641, Ikerrin) near Limerick, by the Borrisnoe Mountain (1645). In 1624 an inquisition by Thadeus O’Magher of Clonmell told that he had been seized his entire life of his castle in Clonkeany, along with one colpe of land. Thadeus died in 1615 and his son John was his heir and was married. King James had given the castle and all related to it to a soldier, John Denis, to own, along with his other castle in Dublin. (O’Meagher, pg. 72) Thadeus, in another inquisition was noted as having been seized of twenty-five other parcels of land throughout Tipperary that were deeded to his heirs in 1601 but were held at that time in full Knight Service of the King. Still another inquisition noted the many tracts of land owned by Thadeus O’Magher and that his son John O’Magher was heir, aged 24 and married. (O’Meagher, pp. 73, 74) In January 1652 John O’Meagher of Clonkenny was transplanted with 12 people, ¾ acre corn, 2 cows, 5 garrons, 15 sheep, 4 goats and 2 swine. (O’Meagher, pg. 92)

Cloneen, built by O’Meagher, Chief of Ikerrin

Clonmore (Templeree), owned by Donogh and Tiege O’Meagher (1641, Ikerrin)

Cloyne (near Roscrea, 1641, Ikerrin) owned by Gilleneeve O’Meagher in 1551. An inquisition in 1629 noted that John O’Meagher (deceased about 30 years earlier) had been seized of six properties in Ikerrin, amounting to one colpe. His son John was heir, of full age, married and that the properties were held in full by Knight Service. Yearly rent was due to John O’Magher of Clonkeanye and his heirs by a deed made in 1551 by Gilleneuffe O’Magher, grandfather of John O’Magher, Sr. to  one Daniel O’Magher, father of John O’Magher. (O’Meagher, pg. 74)

An inquisition in 1633 noted that eight parcels of land in Grange (Ikerrin) of John O’Magher (deceased) had been seized and that he had enfoeffed them in 1631 to Donogh Carroll of Ballinloghie and Donald Carroll of Ballymonine, both of King’s County for his use. After his death the lands would go for the use of Roger O’Magher, his son and Roger’s son, John. If John had no children, the lands would default to Dermot O’Magher along with John O’Magher’s other son. Donogh and Donald Carroll were seized of the land, and John O’Magher (“the foefee”) died in 1632. Roger, his son and heir, was married and the premises were held in full. (O’Meagher, pp. 75, 76)

In December 1652 An O’Machar of Cloyne was ordered to transplant along with seventy-five people, 2 acres of corn, 4 cows and 4 garrons. (pg. 92) In 1653 the Earl of Roscommon was owner of one half colpe of land “by descent from his ancestor” owned by Roger O’Meagher (deceased), then Joan O’Meagher, “by virtue of  a lease not product as valuable in 1641.” (O’Meagher, pg. 94)

Coolquill (in Crohane near Killenaule), owned by James Meagher in 1664

Cranagh (1641, Ikerrin – see Lisdallan)

Derrylahan, owned by John O’Meagher

Glenbaha, built by O’Meagher but owned in 1641 by Edward Butler (Clare) and Richard Butler (Ballinakill)

Grange, owned by Gilleneeve O’Meagher in 1551; in 1689 John O’Meagher was tax assessor.

Keilewardy/Killawardy (1641, Ikerrin), owned by Teige O’Meagher, Tipperary (1649) Teige O’Meagher was a commissioner in Ikerrin and Eliogarty in 1649. (pg. 89) In January 1653 Juan Meagher of Killawardy was transplanted with 9 people, 1 ½ acre corn, 2 cows, 2 garrons and 2 swine.

Killavenoge (1641, Ikerrin), owned by John Teig and O’Conor O’Meagher (Coolcormuck)

Killea (1641, Ikerrin)

Kiltillane (1641, Ikerrin), in Templemore, built by O’Meagher, Chief of Ikerrin

Knockballymeagher/Knockballymagher, owned by the English landlord, Hutchinson. An inquisition in 1636 noted that Thomas O’Magher had property seized: 1 acre in Gortycleynoe, 2 acres in Sraghbraike, 1 acre in Ballybegge, two houses and one garden in Ballykeely, two houses in CnocBallyMeagher in 1629. He enfeoffed the premises to Edmond Wall of CnocmallyMagher and his heirs, and the premises were “held of the King by Knight Services.” (pg. 76)

Lidnahalosky/Lisnaholosky (1641, Ikerrin), near Templemore, owned by Thaddeus O’Meagher in 1624

Lisdallan (1641, Ikerrin), Drummin, and Cranagh near Templetouhy, all owned by Lord Ikerrin and John Purcell in trust for William O’Meagher (Ballyknockan)

Longford, (Ikerrin) owned by John O’Meagher in 1641

Rathnaveoge (1641, Ikerrin) and Ballymoneen, owned by John O’Meagher (Clonakenny)

Roscrea, built by Edmund Butler in 1213 but owned by Gillernowe O’Magher in 1539, owned by Dermod McTeig O’Meagher (1622)

Tullaghmain (near Fethard) owned by Donogh and Thomas Meagher in 1667. (In 1850 John Maher died in this castle. He had a brother named Valentine, who lived in Turtulla.)

Tullow MacJames, an early important holding of the O’Meaghers, owned by Richard Butler (Carrickcarrig)

Slanestown (near Fethard) and Knockelly, owned by Big John Meagher in 1650. A tomb in an Augustinian Abbey in Fethard notes some members of the Meaghers: Thadeus O’Meagher of Ballydine and Anastasia Purtil (perhaps Purcell), 1600; John O’Meagher was noted as having generously restored the abbey and his son, Daniel Costello O’Meagher was buried there; John’s daughter and his son, Reverend John O’Meagher, curate of Templemore, are also buried there. (O’Meagher, pg. 53) Big John Meagher was “a local hero” and, like his family was “distinguished for their great stature, loved of blooded horses, and loyalty to faith, fatherland, family and friends.” He fought to defend Knockelly Castle in 1650, near Fethard, and, with Colonel Butler, to defend Fethard, which had to surrender, but “on honorable terms.” (O’Meagher, pg. 89) Big John Meagher emigrated and served in the Spanish Netherlands in 1666 as Don Juan Meagher. All his extensive property in Coolmore, Knockelly, and Peppardstown, including Slanestown Castle, were given to a general (Shankey) in Cromwell’s army and his family were made tenants of their ancestral land. Two years later Irish officers that had been on the side of the Confederacy, including Colonels John O’Meagher and Edmond O’Dwyer came to an agreement with General Sankey. (O’Meagher, pg. 90)

When the civil war began Richard Butler, John Morris, Lord Ikerrin, Edward Butler, Theobold Purcell and Richard Butler owned the mansion of Ballinakill and the castles of Castleleiny, Clonburgh, Glenbaha, Killoskehan, Tullowmacjames and Roscrea. (O’Meagher, pp. 38,39)

In 1652 the conquest of Oliver Cromwell was complete and up to 40,000 Irish soldiers were forced to leave Ireland and “feed themselves by the blades of their swords in the service of foreign countries.” (O’Meagher, pg. 21) Many served in Spanish, French and Polish-Saxon armies, with distinguished careers. The O’Meaghers supported the exiled Catholic King James and many served in the Jacobite army.

Recommended Reading:

Elliott, Bruce S., Irish Migrants in the Canadas, A New Approach, Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1988.

Hayes, William, and  Kavanagh, Art, The Tipperary Gentry, Volume I, Dublin, Ireland: Irish Family Names, 2003.

O’Meagher, Joseph Casimir O’Meagher, Some Historical Notices of the O’Meaghers of Ikerrin, American Edition, New York, 1890

Tanner, Marcus, Ireland’s Holy Wars, The Struggle for a Nation’s Soul, 1500-2000, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001

©2011 Janet Ní Mheachair (Janet Maher)

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