Return to Article Index

The MacFinnin MacCarthys of Ardtully

By Randal MacFinnin

This is an excerpt from the complete article was originally published by the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archeaological Society, Vol. II, Second Series; 1896; pages 210-214.

The article is web published here by permission of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Founded 1891.

Pages 213 & 214:


"Without insisting, with Keating, that the the ancestry of the MacCarthy family could be traced through twenty-eight monarchs who governed the island before the Christian era, we may assert with the Abbe MacGeoghegan that if regard be had to primogeniture and seniority of descent, the MacCarthy family is the first in Ireland.

Long before the founders of the oldest royal families in Europe - before Rodolph acquired the empire of Germany or a Bourbon ascended the throne of France, Cormac MacCarthy ruled over Munster, and the title of king was at least continued in name to his posterity down to the reign of Elizabeth.  'Few pedigrees, if any,' says Sir B. Burke, 'in the British empire can be traced to a more remote or exalted source than that of the Celtic house of MacCarthy.'"

As regards the old castle, like the family, scarcely a vestige remains.  Close to its ruins, on the right bank of the Roughty, a fine mansion was erected som forty years ago by the late Sir Richard Orpen, of Dublin, whose family acquired from Trinity College - either, I think, by purchase or long lease - several thousand acres of the property.

About two miles from Ardtully is Callan, where in 1261 a battle was fought between the MacCarthys and Geraldines, who were defeated, suffering, it is alleged, the loss of eighteen barons, fifteen knights, with many adherents.  In this engagement Daniel MacCarthy fell, and was buried on the battlefield: -

"And this is thy grave, MacCarra,
   Here by the pathway lone,
Where the thorn blossoms are bending
   Over thy moulder stone.

Alas! for the sons of glory;
   Oh! thou of the darkened brow,
And the eagle plume and the belted clans,
   Is it here thou art sleeping now?"

Mrs. Downing, 1840.

I give annexed one of a dozen verses published some twenty-five years ago on the revival of the title "MacCarthy Mor," and an extract from an article which appeared in May, 1863, on the ancient lineage of the MacCarthys: -

"Let us make the MacCarthy Mor,
   Let us seek the wisest and best,
Let us choose of the clan the foremost man,
   And, trusting to God for the rest,
      Let us make the MacCarthy Mor.

Oh, it must not, shall not die,
   Too long in the dust it has lain -
The grand old name that with Heber came,
   And the gallant chiefs from Spain.

Then up from the echoing hills,
   And up from the sounding shore,
Let the scattered clan select their man,
   And make him the MacCarthy Mor."

The Nation, 25th March, 1873.

Return to Article Index