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I have, today, been informed by my Solicitor, Mr John G. O'Donnell, that he is in receipt of a communication from Mr Brendan O'Donoghue, Chief Herald of the Irish Republic, in which the latter has declared the "courtesy" recognition of my title by his predecessor, Mr Donal F. Begley, in January 1992 is "null and void," that the confirmation of arms granted to my family in 1979 by another of his predecessors, Mr Gerard Slevin, is "invalid," and, furthermore, that the pedigree registered by the latter gentleman in 1980 lacks "genealogical integrity." None of these actions or statements will come as a surprise to anyone who has been privy to the relentless persecution which I have endured from that Office since I denounced its pretended authority over Gaelic titles in the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains (1991) and particularly following my attack on its integrity in my work Ulster's Office 1552-1800, A History of the Irish Office of Arms from the Tudor Plantations to the Act of Union, in Appendix VIII, pages 232-240 (1996).
I have been informed by my Senior Council, John Peart, that, as a matter of Law, the Chief Herald has no right to either "recognise" or "unrecognise" Gaelic titles whatever. Such titles were abolished both by statute of the Irish Parliament and Verdicts of the King's Bench during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. When the Irish Free State was created in 1921 it adopted the legal code which had appertained in the Kingdom of Ireland. No enabling legislation was enacted to permit it to "recognise" Gaelic titles. Indeed such an authority would contravene the well-known maxim of International Law that Successor States, in this case the Irish Free State, and the subsequent Irish Republic, have no right whatever to interfere in nobiliary titles conferred by previous jurisdictions. They may abolish them within their own boundaries, although such abolition has no moral force in International Law (hence, although Communist Russia abolished all Tsarist title of nobility the same were and are given social acceptance everywhere in the civilised world).
The Chief Herald has stated that he will only recognise a claim to a Gaelic title predicated on primogeniture succession. Such a concept has no value in Brehon Law, which is to say the laws under which Gaelic titles arose. In the case of the Eóghanacht Dynasty, and that branch commonly known as MacCarthy Mór, tanistry was, and remains, the mechanism by which the Chiefship thereof descends. This is a matter of FACT, not of opinion. It is also a matter of FACT that the Chief Herald, as the representative of the Irish Republic, has no lawful authority to alter in any way the laws of succession by which Gaelic titles, descend, no more than he could, for example, alter those appertaining to the Irish Peerage. If the Chief Herald pretends such a right then it is evident that he would in fact be asserting that he has the right to create new and distinct titles descending by a new and distinct mechanism of succession. Such a claim directly violates Article 40.2.1 of the Irish Republic's Constitution: "TITLES OF NOBILITY SHALL NOT BE CONFERRED BY THE STATE."
But it must be observed that despite this Constitutional inhibition the Chief Herald's Office has CREATED a Gaelic title in recognising Mr Patrick Joyce as "Joyce of Joyce's Country." The surname in question is Anglo-Norman, and made its first appearance in Ireland during the thirteenth century. Despite the insurmountable obstacle of his non-Milesian (i.e. non-Gaelic) ancestry Mr Joyce was recognised as a Gaelic Chief, introduced as such in October 1991 to the President of Ireland, sits by virtue of that recognition on the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains, and has his banner displayed with those of the other Chiefs in the Herald's Museum, Kildare Street, Dublin. His title was included in the lists of "recognised Chiefly titles" distributed by the Office of Arms, and was listed as such in several publications.
When I made complaint of the "recognition" of this title, in October 1991 to the Chief Herald of Ireland, in an interview attended by The Maguire of Fermanagh, I was threatened there and then with "unrecognition" if I made any public statement on the affair. This did not inhibit me from drawing the matter to the attention of the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains in 1992, 1993, and subsequently, in 1996, publishing an attack on the recognition of Mr Joyce in my aforementioned book, Ulster's Office 1552-1800 (see pages 238-239). It is interesting, since the Office invokes "integrity" that the Chief Herald has now informed the Standing Council that his Office never officially recognised Mr Joyce as an Irish Chief. What then, one might ask, was he recognised as? The only list of "recognised titles" maintained by the Office is Clar na Taoiseach (the List of Chiefs) and his name was included in those copies of the list distributed by the Chief Herald's Office! Mr Joyce has not been informed by the Office that he is not a Chief. He continues to sit as such on the Standing Council. But then he has never "rocked" the Office's "boat."
If the Office of Arms claims that it has only recognised Chiefs on the basis of primogeniture then it is telling a barefaced lie! The O'Long of Garranelongy and The Maguire of Fermanagh have never claimed to be "primogeniture Chiefs," nor, from an examination of Burke's Landed Gentry of Ireland, 1958 edition, and Burke's Irish Family Records, does it appear that The McDonnell of the Glens is! Are they to be "unrecognised?" Surely the sacred principle of primogeniture must now be enforced universally. It will be interesting to see how many Chiefs are displaced. There is, in France, a claimant to the title of O'Neill, whilst I understand that Burke's Landed Gentry of Ireland, 1958, included, in addition to The O'Donovan, who claims his title by primogeniture and is recognised by the Office of Arms, "The O'Donoven" who apparently claimed his title by tanistry.
The sad fact of the matter is that The Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains did not have the courage, despite my advice, and that of several other members, to publicly repudiate the authority of the Chief Herald over their titles in 1991! The plain truth of the matter is that many of the members believed that they were Chiefs because the Chief Herald said they were! I need not discuss here the politics of that body, largely composed as it is of primogeniturists many of whom are foreigners divorced from Gaelic culture by centuries of exile, or the descendants of those who, in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries, repudiated their Gaelic titles, converted to Protestantism, and became "more British than the British." Clipped English and foreign accents, rather than the brogue, reflects the composition of the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs, many of whom, if not the majority, are not even Irish citizens.
From the moment I denounced the recognition of Mr Joyce in 1991, onwards, I was persona non grata with the Office of Arms. I viewed with alarm the complete irresponsibility with which it "recorded" arms and titles conceded by the entirely fraudulent "Princess Maria of Saxe Coburg and Braganza," the soi-dissant "Pretender to the Portuguese Throne." In a letter to the current Chief Herald, dated October 20th 1998, my Solicitor yet again drew attention to the fact that the records of the Office now included dubious foreign arms and titles. No steps appear to have been made to declare any such registrations as "null and void!" Whether this reflects on the "integrity" of the Office I leave to others to judge.
In October 1997 I was obliged to complain to the Office of Arms of derogatory remarks made by a member thereof concerning my title and rights. These remarks were the basis of two subsequent suits in the Italian Courts. That same month I wrote, in confidence, to Mr Brendan O'Donoghue, drawing to his attention allegation of financial irregularities during the recent past being made by third parties, and advised him to institute an enquiry so that a public scandal might be avoided. I included a photocopy of a letter, written by a third party, in which such allegations were made. I received no reply to that communication. Two months later however I was the subject of remarks, which I considered highly defamatory, by Mr Fergus Gillespie, the Deputy Chief Herald. On threatening to sue Mr Gillespie for aggravated defamation I received a written apology. Copies of all these letters are held by my Solicitor. I leave it for others to decide if such behaviour is consistent with the vaunted integrity of the Office of Arms.
In February 1998, some two weeks after I received Mr Gillespie's apology, I was informed by Mr Brendan O'Donoghue that a Mr Barry Trant MacCarthy had entered a claim into his Office for recognition as MacCarthy Mór on the basis of his seniority of descent (i.e. primogeniture). This letter was addressed to me as "Mr Terence MacCarthy," an impertinence, given that I was still recognised by that Office, reflecting the fact, in my opinion, that the decision to "unrecognise" me had in effect already been made! In my reply I pointed out that my family had never observed primogeniture, that the late Samuel Trant MacCarthy had not been recognised as MacCarthy Mór even within his own family, and that his own book The MacCarthys of Munster, Dundalk, 1921, proved that he was NOT the heir by primogeniture. I also pointed out that my recognition had been "probationary" for three years and this expired on January 1995, some 2 years before Mr Barry Trant MacCarthy lodged his claim. I might add that I was kept in deliberate ignorance of that claim for at least eight months, despite which the Office made it known to third parties, on a "confidential basis" including Mr Gerard Crotty, Heraldic Advisor to the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains! No doubt some may think that this too reflects on the integrity of the Office concerned.
From February 1998, until the present I, and my family, have been subjected to a campaign of vilification. Poison pen letters have been sent (some postmarked Glasgow) to friends, acquaintances, and bodies with which I am connected, in an attempt to destroy my good name by libels of the most disgusting nature. Who was responsible for this campaign I cannot say. But what is beyond doubt is that persons connected with the Office of Arms have deliberately leaked details of my case to third parties with the intention of preparing public opinion for my unrecognition. My Solicitor holds sworn affidavits from two Italian citizens, one a Consul, that in June 1998 they were present when a third party received a telephone call message stating that my pedigree was "constructed" and that I was to be immediately unrecognised as MacCarthy Mór. This statement cited the Office of Arms as its source. Some FOUR WEEKS later my Solicitor was asked to provide additional proofs of a pedigree registered in 1980 by Mr Gerard Slevin, the most notoriously cautious Chief Herald to ever occupy that Office. In other words, the Office had reached its decision BEFORE it sought any additional proofs. No doubt some people may think that this reflects on the integrity of the Office in question. And indeed, others might ponder on the propriety of the Chief Herald informing a Sunday Times correspondent (before June 20th, 1999) that he was to make a decision in my case within some two weeks, but not so to inform my Solicitor.
Throughout this "process" Mr Brendan O'Donoghue has claimed to act in a "semi-judicial" manner. The Irish Constitution recognises no Judges but that which the Law provides for. There is no reference to any "court of a Chief Herald." Whether a "semi-judicial" process would allow for a "judge" to sit in a matter in which he had so keen an interest I leave for the legal fraternity to decide. But I know of no instance where a Judge discloses what he believes to be damaging information concerning the "defence" to the "prosecution," and yet Mr O'Donoghue had no hesitation in so doing providing Mr Barry Trant MacCarthy with a copy of a letter of last July to my Solicitor. Needless to say neither I nor my Solicitor were ever copied letters from Mr O'Donoghue to Mr Barry Trant MacCarthy. I leave it for others to judge how this affects the "integrity" of the Office.
My pedigree has not been disproven as such by the Office. The present Chief Herald states that he finds the proofs "unconvincing." There is nothing I can do about that, but if he questions the "integrity" of the pedigree he must question the "integrity" of the Chief Herald who registered it (Gerard Slevin), and confirmed it (Donal F. Begley). I must also note that at no time was my pedigree questioned until AFTER THE DEATH of Gerard Slevin (1997) who could, naturally, have been subpoenaed to testify as to what additional evidences he had considered.
The Chief Herald finds unconvincing the sworn affidavits of numerous individuals who knew my father or grandfather, and that they styled themselves MacCarthy Mór. He finds unconvincing supplementary evidences provided in proof of my pedigree, including photocopies of eighteenth-century documents. But his attitude does not come as a surprise to me, given the fact that according to sworn affidavits he had reached his decision prior to having sight of such evidence.
I succeeded my father in August 1980. For more than twelve years I was "unrecognised" by the Office of Arms, which is to say that I was not included on its "List of Chiefs." In January 1992 I was recognised. In July 1999 I am unrecognised. This charade leaves me totally unmoved. But it poses several questions concerning the integrity of the Office. Interested parties might ask why my "unrecognition" has been so hurried, given that the claims for recognition by several Chiefs, The O'Gara, The O'Dowd, The O'Neill Mór, and possibly others, have laid unprocessed for up to TEN YEARS!
It is my intention to publish the entire correspondence on this matter between the Chief Herald, my Solicitor, and me so that the general public may have the complete facts at their disposal.
One Mr Sean Murphy, an Irish Genealogist, and no friend of my cause, has demanded an Official Investigation into the administration of the Office of Arms between 1979-1995. I wish him well in this quest, but I doubt the powers that be will allow such an enquiry. If they do, then hopefully it will include the ENTIRE period of the Office's existence, 1943-1999, and consider the propriety of a Republic possessing an institution which denies the equality of citizens (by granting Supporters, for example, to feudal barons, but not to ordinary armigers) and even discriminates on grounds of sex (i.e. it will not recognise the female heir of a Gaelic Chief) contrary to Irish Law. Such an enquiry might also consider whether any member of Staff of that Office should be appointed as an Act of Patronage as apparently in the case of "Heraldic Consultants" (I can find no public advertisement of these posts). These "freelance" members of the Office apparently display their arms on Crossed Wands of Office thus indicating they are full members of the Office. It would be interesting to know who appointed them, and on what basis. Perhaps Mr Murphy can discover these facts. One, I am told, was deeply involved with the bogus "Princess Maria of Saxe Coburg and Braganza," some of whose concession of bogus titles and arms were recorded in the Office, and acted or acts as Chancellor for the "Red Branch Knights" now renamed the "Companionage of the Royal House of Connacht." Possibly these reports are untrue. If not they are certainly cause for worry that an Office of the Republic employs or retains the services of individuals of pronounced monarchist sympathies, one of whom serves a person claiming to be the de jure High King of Ireland! A very curious state of affairs!!
During the nineteen years of my Chiefship I have attempted to discharge the duties of that Office with dignity and propriety. I have lectured and published extensively, organised or presided at Clan Gatherings, published an International Clan Journal for some 7 years, endowed museums, acted as Patron of countless Societies, and supported research into all aspects of Gaelic culture. I see no reason now, to abdicate, and indeed believe that would be an act of cowardice. No doubt I shall continue to be ridiculed and attacked by Hibernophobes, Anglophiles, Republicans, Loyalists, self-proclaimed genealogical experts (some with their own axe to grind vis-à-vis the Office of Arms) and those motivated by spite for whatever reason. Who knows, some of them may now prefer the public arena, rather than, as previously, the medium of poison pen letters, or "internet exchanges." For the present I will retire from public life, not from embarrassment, but because two years of constant attack have undermined my health to such an extent that my doctor advises complete rest.
Finally I thank all those many people, from all over the world, who have written to tell me that I am in their thoughts and prayers, and enjoy their full support. These messages have made the past months of vicious attacks upon me, and even my murdered brother, endurable.
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