Letter from Conor McCarthy dated July 27, 2000

A commentary will be added by The Clan MacCarthy Society shortly.

We are publishing this letter without endorsement or support by us.

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A Public Statement Regarding the 'Heirlooms of MacCarthy Mór' July 27th 2000

Over recent months members of the Clan may have noticed a link between the Clan MacCarthy North America website and the website of a Mr Sean Murphy, A Wicklow based commercial genealogist.  On this gentleman's website are to be found numerous 'reports' and 'leaks' which Mr Murphy imagines are prejudicial to my claim as MacCarthy Mór.  Some of those who examine Mr Murphy's web site could well be surprised, by what might seem a near neurotic obsession with both myself and the former MacCarthy Mór, Dr Terence MacCarthy.  Indeed one might be forgiven for thinking that Mr Murphy sees the dastardly hand of Dr MacCarthy behind society's every ill, a genealogical Moriarty to Mr Murphy's Holmes.

As a matter of protocol 'reports' such as Mr Murphy's would tend to go unanswered, however, the sheer volume of Mr Murphy's outpourings and his single-minded persistence in repeating untruths now absolutely demands a reply.  In preparation is a report correcting the many errors repeated by Mr Murphy and contained in his 'report' on the pedigree of Dr Terence MacCarthy, formerly MacCarthy Mór.  Those of you with the stamina to wade through his 'reports' will find them under the grandly titled "Centre for Irish Genealogical and Historical studies", Clan MacCarthy 'links' section.  The grand name that Mr Murphy has selected for his private business venture is, I understand, in now way intended to mislead people into assuming that his is a body with any 'official standing'.  Quite the contrary in fact, Mr Murphy himself has candidly and repeatedly informed us that the professional genealogists associated with the Irish Genealogical Office bar him from work.

Mr Murphy's web site contains a section titled "Commentaries on Documents Released Under the Freedom of Information Act, and Leaked Documents".  If one examines this particular item one will find a subsection titled "Miscellaneous leaks to 21st February 2000".  Mr Murphy begins this piece with what some might consider a rather peevish attack on the credentials of the late Duc de Clancarthy.  Warming to his subject he proceeds to some rather childish remarks concerning the arms of the MacCarthy Mór before introducing just a little personal unpleasantness by attacking an old family friend, the Count of Clandermond.  In between all these asides Mr Murphy manages to reproduce the gist of purported 'leaks' concerning the "heirlooms of MacCarthy Mór".

Murphy's 'report' reads as follows:

"The most devastating part of the report deals with the 'Treasures' or 'Heirlooms of MacCarthy Mór', which were until recently on display in the Cashel Heritage Centre by virtue of the munificence of Terence MacCarthy.  The Genealogie Manuscript, alleged to have been passed to Terence MacCarthy's grandfather with other materials in 1905, is said to bear a strong resemblance to a manuscript which went missing from a French chateau about fifteen years ago.  We have not been able to verify this allegation, and indeed efforts to determine the present whereabouts of the Genealogie Manuscript have also been unsuccessful.  As to the famous alleged portrait of Donal IX MacCarthy Mór, the report notes that experts in the National Gallery of Ireland have declared it to be a very recent work.  Other 'heirlooms' receive similar short shrift: the Niadh Nask Ashantee dagger of Sir Charles MacCarthy is of Moroccan or other North African origin; St Patrick's Crown is 'a bad fake'; Count Robert MacCarthy Reagh's Légion d'Honneur decoration is of a type which can be purchased from a medal dealer for about £200".  Mr Murphy cannot but resist adding the sanctimonious quip; "It is a sad commentary on the state of the Irish heritage industry that nobody involved with the Cashel Heritage Centre was capable of spotting any of this fakery."
(Note: Webmaster has corrected the above quoted text by inserting the original text from Mr. Murphy's website.  The bold text, though, was bold in the letter.)

Since much of what Mr Murphy has written is completely untrue, and since I cannot believe that he is an habitual liar I must conclude that the person or persons leaking these documents to him are deliberately attempting to make Mr Murphy look foolish in public.

At first Mr Murphy's 'report' appears to be both thorough and convincing, on close examination however it becomes apparent that much of the supposed evidence of 'fakery' is not evidence at all but merely 'spin'.  Let us take a closer look.  Charles MacCarthy's Niadh Nask dagger, Mr Murphy informs us is of "North African origin".  It may surprise readers to learn that the dagger was in fact manufactured on the Gold Coast, which, last time I checked an atlas, was in Northern Africa.

Referring to Count Robert MacCarthy Reagh's Legion d'Honneur Mr Murphy volunteers that it is "of a type which can be purchased from a medal dealer for about two hundred pounds".  How thoughtless of Robert to have won such a relatively common decoration!  Regardless of any embarrassment we might feel at Robert's failure to win a rarer medal however, we can only furnish the Cashel Heritage centre with the "type" of medal that Robert actually won.  That such an item could be purchased from a "medal dealer" is neither here nor there, Dr Terence MacCarthy deposited with the Cashel Heritage Centre a medal of the Légion d'Honneur, it is unquestionably such and Mr Murphy's negative inference is therefore completely unwarrented.

These little failings of logic on Mr Murphy's part however are as nothing compared to some of the other nonsense he repeats.  In the first place Mr Murphy would seem to imply that a French chateau had made inquiries regarding the "Genealogie".  If so I would like to know exactly to whom the inquiries were made.  Certainly staff at the Cashel Heritage Centre were never approached.  In fact, according to the Cashel Heritage Centre, the assessments to which Mr Murphy alludes simply never took place.  In response to an inquiry from myself asking whether a) a 'French Chateau' had approached the Centre or b) whether 'experts' government or otherwise had attempted to assess the items on loan I received the following reply.

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Mr Murphy claims "efforts to determine the present whereabouts of the Genealogie Manuscript have also been unsuccessful".  The efforts that Mr Murphy refers to cannot have amounted to very much for until March 13th of this year the 'Genealogie' continued to be located in the Cashel Heritage Centre (see inventory collection date).

Furthermore, even had government experts examined the 'heirlooms' in the way Mr Murphy imagines they could not have made the specific determinations that Mr Murphy reports.  Below is an inventory of items collected from the Cashel Heritage Centre during March of this year.

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Readers will note that St Patrick's Crown, which, Mr Murphy blithely assures us has been pronounced 'a bad fake' is listed on the inventory as a Replica.  The original St Patrick's Crown was not even in the Cashel Heritage Centre, but rather it was in the keeping of my brother, the former MacCarthy Mór.  Readers will also notice that the 'famous portrait of Donal IX MacCarthy Mór' which Mr Murphy informs us "experts in the National Gallery have declared to be a very recent work" was likewise not present at the Cashel Heritage Centre.

Alas the Heritage Centre's denial that anything was examined by 'experts' coupled with the fact that some of the items supposedly examined were not even present begins to make Mr Murphy's report seem a little threadbare.  Readers may find it surprising, not to say disillusioning to discover that the hapless Mr Murphy, so fond of ferreting out hoaxers has apparently fallen victim to one himself.

Out of fairness to Mr Murphy however I decided to contact the National Gallery to see if perhaps they had made a 'secret' assessment of the Donal IX portrait known only to Mr Murphy's source.  Sadly for Mr Murphy the director of the Gallery has informed me that contrary to Mr Murphy's imaginings none of his staff have made any pronouncements whatsoever on the Donal IX portrait.

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It would seem then that the 'reports' leaked to and avidly seized upon by Mr Murphy are nothing but fictions in the mind of some spiteful petty official with an ax to grind.  Be that as it may the obvious unreliability of Mr Murphy's source, coupled with his apparent willingness to not only believe but repeat malicious gossip as though it were the gospel truth, must place Mr Murphy's value as a commentator in some doubt.

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The MacCarthy Mór, Prince of Desmond

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