Press Release


Return to News index

March 27, 2000


Dear Members,

We intend this letter to bring each of you up to date on the status of the MacCarthy Mór affair as we know it now.

The Irish Genealogical Office (IGO), has released part of their records from April 1998 to July 1999 to some applicants under the Irish Freedom of Information Act, but they have not released any documents to The Clan MacCarthy Society for any time period.  In addition, the IGO has denied all requests for the release of any documents before April 1998.  Some applicants have appealed the decision on the documents for the period before April 1998, but the IGO has not decided the appeal, as far as we know.

We have been given a copy of the documents released for the period April 1998 to July 1999 by someone who did receive those documents from the IGO. An investigation of the pedigree of Terence McCarthy is included in these papers that concludes that the pedigree is unsupported by the evidence in the IGO.

At the time of the "abdication" of Terence McCarthy of the title of MacCarthy Mór, he pointed out that no one of his family was interested in claiming the title.  Since then, his brother, Conor McCarthy, has made a claim.  Initially Conor showed a willingness to discuss the several questions relating to the pedigree of his family, but lately, it appears that the family intends to rest on the published pedigree.

The position of The Clan MacCarthy Society is that our approval of the rightful holder of the title of the MacCarthy Mór will depend upon the successful result of a lengthy investigation of all claims.  There have been many questions raised about the claims concerning the pedigree of Terence McCarthy and his family.  However, at this time, we are unable to either approve or disapprove the claims without the evidence both from the critics and from the Terence McCarthy family.

The Clan MacCarthy Society has been placed in a difficult position since the Irish Genealogical Office provided "courtesy recognition" of Terence McCarthy as the MacCarthy Mór in 1992, but now claims that evidence in their files since 1977 proves that his claim is invalid.

As we understand the situation now, we recognize that the following could make claims to the title of MacCarthy Mór:

  1. Conor McCarthy, the brother of Terence McCarthy.
  2. Heirs of the Muskerry branch of the MacCarthys.
  3. Heirs of the Carbery branch of the MacCarthys.
  4. Heirs of Samuel Trant McCarthy.
  5. Heirs of Donal MacCarthy, the "Base Son," who was an illegitimate, but a recognized son, of the last ruling king, King Donal IX MacCarthy Mór (d. 1596).
We do not propose easy or prompt approval to any claims to the title without sufficient investigation.  This is partly to prevent the possibility of another such public scandal to taint the MacCarthy family.

Conor McCarthy has made a claim for the title of MacCarthy Mór and has asked The Clan MacCarthy Society to both approve his claim and to publish his letter of claim in our website. We intend to publish his letter, but only to present our membership with the information provided therein.  We will continue to do the same with other claims that come forward, and to inform our membership of the result of the investigations of any claims.

In relation to the claim of Conor McCarthy (the brother of Terence McCarthy), to be the rightful holder of the title of MacCarthy Mór, the following unanswered questions need to be satisfactorily addressed before The Clan MacCarthy Society can or would approve his claim:

  1. Terence McCarthy applied to the IGO for courtesy recognition as the MacCarthy Mór in 1985 based solely on his claimed relationship to Samuel Trant McCarthy, and his acceptance of Samuel's assuming the title of MacCarthy Mór.  How can he criticize the IGO for reviewing his claim on the basis of his new assertion that his claim resulted from a family meeting in France in 1905, and his subsequent criticism and denial of Samuel Trant McCarthy's right to the title?

  2. What is the evidence for the family meeting in 1905, which resulted in the claim that Terence's grandfather was presented with the title of MacCarthy Mór?

  3. Can Terence, or his brother Conor, demonstrate that Pol, 7th Duke de Clancarthy-Blarney, who was supposed to be a participant in the 1905 family meeting, is not himself a fake, as asserted by several sources?

  4. Terence's family claims that the only evidence of the relationship of their family to the County Kerry Srugrena MacCarthy family, is that of a wedding register in Terence's own handwriting which official registers do not support.  Can Terence or Conor provide any other documents to support their claimed relationship?

  5. Terence has claimed that his great-grandfather was Daniel McCarthy, who left County Kerry and moved to Belfast.  Records show that Terence's great-grandfather was Bernard, and not Daniel.  How is this explained?

  6. The evidence produced to prove that Terence & Conor's great-grandfather Daniel McCarthy was living in Belfast, is a copy of a letter from Andrew of Srugrena to his brother Daniel in Belfast.  Despite that, Samuel Trant McCarthy's second book, titled "A MacCarthy Miscellany" (published after his death in 1928), mentions that Andrew's brother Daniel never left Co. Kerry and lived next door to his brother.  How is that explained?

  7. The book referred to above by Samuel Trant McCarthy does not include any mention of Terence & Conor's family being related to Samuel Trant McCarthy.  How do they explain that, especially since Terence claimed that Samuel Trant McCarthy recognized his family relationship, and promised to cover it in any subsequent publication?

  8. Terence McCarthy claimed that a Belfast cousin named Thomas Donal McCarthy was to inherit the title of MacCarthy Mór as tanist upon the death of Samuel Trant McCarthy.  How does Terence or Conor explain the fact that the will of Samuel Trant McCarthy mentions his nephews as beneficiaries, but does not mention Thomas Donal McCarthy?

As the record will show, The Clan MacCarthy Society was a prominent supporter of Terence McCarthy when we were assured that his difficulty with the IGO was a political attack.  We are now no longer approving his or his brother's claims unless we are satisfied with the evidence that deal with the so-far unanswered questions listed above.

However, in the spirit of fairness and providing complete information to our members, we are publishing the letter of claim of Conor McCarthy as the MacCarthy Mór (below), without endorsement or support, as we will also do with the claims of others.

Best Regards.

                     Lawrence J. McCarthy
                     The Clan MacCarthy Society, Inc.


Thursday, February 24, 2000

Dear Kinsmen

As you are doubtless aware, my brother, Dr. Terence MacCarthy abdicated as MacCarthy Mór in October 1999.  In accordance with the successional laws of our Dynasty, I, Conor MacCarthy, was ratified by the Derbhfine as the new MacCarthy Mór during that same month.

I thank you all for the support and loyalty rendered to my brother through turbulent times brought about by what can only be described as a vindictive and political campaign of innuendo, misinformation and untruth.  It is my intention to discharge the duties of this office with the same dignity and integrity shown by my brother, and I trust that I will enjoy this same level of commitment from the Clan.

For over 600 years, the MacCarthy Mór has led the Clan in a relationship of mutual obligation.  This reciprocal relationship will not be allowed to lapse for want of effort on my part.  Let us work together to promote the interests of Gaelic Ireland and our own ancient and noble Clan.


The MacCarthy Mór, Prince of Desmond.

(Conor McCarthy)


At the moment, as far as we know, the "Derbhfine" that Conor McCarthy refers to in his letter consists of himself, his brother Terence, and their father.
Look here for a definition of Derbhfine.

Return to News index