Carrigadrohid and its Vicinity


Charles Smith in his History of Cork states that the castle of Carrigadrohid was built by a McCarthy and its romantic situation on a rock in the middle of the Lee was chosen by his wife who was a lady of the O'Carrolls. It may be that he penned a local tradition. A papal mandate of May 1469 granted certain spiritual privileges to one Cormac McCaurig of the diocese of Cork and Sabina Ní Cearill, his wife. The castle is on the boundary between the dioceses of Cork and Cloyne, and if the mandate refers to the McCarthy who built it, we can approximate its erection to the latter half of the fifteenth century. Some of the fabric as it now stands is, however, later than this. When Smith wrote in 1750 it was in good repair and inhabited by John Bowen.

The castle and manor of Carrigadrohid are included in a surrender and re-grant between the crown and Cormac McTeige McCarthy, lord of Muskerry, made in 1578. A few years later it figured in a sorrowful episode of Irish history. When Sir James FitzMaurice landed at Dingle in 1579, bringing aid from the continent to the Catholics of Munster, his cousin Gerald, earl of Desmond, got orders from the queen's officials in Cork to surround his forces and capture him if possible. It was felt the earl would not relish the task and two officials (Carter and Davells) were despatched from Cork to see that he did what was required. The earl's two brothers, Sir James and John of Desmond, entered the town of Tralee and slew the crown officials there. The brothers were immediately outlawed and the earl ordered to arrest them. His position was soon rendered impossible and he unfurled the Catholic standard on the Ballyhoura hills in November 1579.

Many of the Catholic chiefs of Munster rallied to his call, but the McCarthys of Muskerry remained aloof. Weary of their hesitation, in August 1580 Sir James of Desmond at the. head of a large force invaded Muskerry. The McCarthys met his army at a ford on the Glashgariff stream near the village of Aghavrin, to the east of Carrigadrohid. The Desmond army was defeated and Sir James, desperately wounded, was taken prisoner. He was conveyed to Carrigadrohid Castle (The ford where he was captured has been bridged over but still bears the name, Aharuddera -- the knight's ford). The queen's officials in Cork heard of this notable capture and demanded that the prisoner be handed over to them. Cormac McTeige temporised for some time, but it is said that he was overborne by the solicitations of his wife, Joan.Butler. He conveyed the prisoner from Carrigadrohid to Blarney Castle where he handed him over to the queen's commander, the earl of Ormonde. He was summarily tried at Shandon Castle and executed near the North-gate bridge of Cork.

Joan Butler, widow to Cormac McTeige, was in possession of Carrigadrohid Castle in 1600. She had to leave to make way for a garrison of the queen's soldiers after the battle of Kinsale in 1602. She resumed occupation in 1603, when the soldiers were withdrawn, but entered into a bond to give the castle up for the queen's service on getting ten days' notice. On her death the castle reverted to the Lord of Muskerry and it was in the possession of the ruling lord, Donogh McCarthy, when the great Confederate war commenced in 1641.

In the parish of Aghinagh where the castle is situated this lord owned the townlands of Aghedeagh (name now obsolete), Carrigadrohid, Curraghanearla, Shanachoyll, Inshyleigh, Culkissy, Knockyeottin and Ballymongane.

Boolagh MacEagane held the townlands of Coolekosane, Caum and Currydaly (obsolete). He resided in a slated house, two storeys high, in the lands of Coolekosane. Owen MacEagan resided at Rossnascalp and held Culykearine and Lackabunaknoick close by. To the west were the lands of Mashanaglass and its castle, owned by Owen MeSwyny.

These MacEgans of Aghinagh were probably kinsmen to the MacEgans of Duhallow. They appear to have been brehons or judges to the various branches of the McCarthys and flourished under their patronage. Constantius MeEgane, Carbery McEgane, and John MeEgane of Aghinaghe appear in a pardon granted in May 1601 to Cormac MacDermod McCarthy of Blarney (the then Lord of Muskerry), his kinsmen and dependants.

In 1641 in the parish of Canovee (across the Lee) the lord of Muskerry owned Mahallagh, Rathonoane and Knockavollig, while Pierce Gould held Coolenashamroge.

John Long of Mount Long Castle, near Kinsale, held Lehenah, while another John Long, who was the O'Long and chief of his race, held Monollig, Innishynore, Killinarddorish, Cooledron, Coolenacarrigy, Clashyfady and Coolnasoon. He resided in a large ancient house to the north side of the parochial church, which stood on the island of Canovee near the Lee.

John Long of Mountlong with his sons John and James Long, John Long of Canovee, Owen MeSwyny of Mashanaglass, Owen and John MeEgan.of Aghinagh were amongst the many who were outlawed and who had their lands confiscated for the part they took in the great rebellion of 1641. As far as they were concerned it did not finish until 1652, when their chief, Donogh Lord Muskerry, surrendered at Ross Castle near Killarney. Whatever shortcomings he had, it should be remembered he was the last commander in Munster to give in to the Cromwellian forces.

His lands of Muskerry were surveyed in 1656 with a view to their being distributed to new owners. In the survey it is noted that the castle of Carrigadrohid was valued at 100. It is described as situated on a rock in the river Lee. The castle seems to have been in good repair in 1656, but the bridge was out of repair though still passable on foot. It was a timber bridge and was formerly maintained at the expense of the county as a necessary and convenient passage over the Lee, which could not otherwise be crossed except in small cots.

The parochial. church of Aghinagh stood near the Lee. In 1656 it had been unroofed and nothing remained standing but the walls. There were about twenty acres of glebe land around it, surrounded by a fence which was also in bad repair. This church was the former Catholic church of the parish and it is likely that the representation of a mitred bishop, which is affixed to the tower of the now ruined Protestant church, is a relic from the pre-Reformation church of Aghinagh. It is likely that the MacEgans of Aghinagh had burial rights within their parish cemetery and that bishop MacEgan was interred in a grave belonging to his kinsmen. There seems to be no reason to doubt that the place of his burial is that which is still pointed out near the centre of the churchyard.

When Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, he created Donogh, Lord of Muskerry, earl of Clancarty and returned to him the greater part of the confiscated lands. Courts were held in Macroorn to hear the claims on these lands put forward by the Egans, Longs and others who had followed his banner from 1641 onwards. Leases were granted by the earl's representatives to those who made good their claims. But his grandson (another Donogh, earl of Clancarty) took the side of James II in 1690 and the lands were again confiscated. A new race of landowners came to rule over Muskerry and the descendants of the former landholding: families either left the country or struggled on as best they could. under the shadow of the penal laws.