Donough MacCarty, 1st Earl of Clancarty

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The Earl of Clancarty
Second Viscount Muskerry.jpg
Portrait by an unknown artist at the Hunt Museum in Limerick
Died5 August 1665
TitleEarl of Clancarty
Other names2nd Viscount Muskerry

Donough MacCarthy, 1st Earl of Clancarty, 2nd Viscount Muskerry (1594–1665), called Donnchadh Mac Cárthaigh in Irish, was a leader of the Irish Confederation. He led the Confederates' Munster army during most of the Irish Confederate Wars and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. He belonged to the moderate faction, which wanted to collaborate with the royalists against the Commonwealth and the Covenanters. He was one of the last to surrender. In 1658, in exile, Charles II created him Earl of Clancarty. He recovered his lands at the Restoration. (Ohlmeyer 2004) (Seccombe 1893) (Webb 1878)

Birth and origins[edit]

Donough was born in 1594,[1] probably at Blarney Castle, the habitual seat of his parents.[2] He was the second son of Charles MacCarty and his first wife Margaret O'Brien. His father was the 1st Viscount of Muskerry. His grandfather was Sir Cormac MacCarthy, who had received an English title to his lands during the Tudor conquest of Ireland. Donough's mother was a daughter of Donogh O'Brien, 4th Earl of Thomond. His parents married about 1590.[3] Both sides of the family were important Gaelic Irish dynasties.

He appears below as the younger of the two brothers:

  1. Cormac, who predeceased his father;[4] and
  2. Donough (1594–1665), the subject of this article.
Family tree
Donough MacCarty with his wife, his parents, and other selected relatives.

d. 1616

d. 1640

bef. 1596 –

1st Earl

1st Duke

d. 1722

d. 1665

d. 1698

d. 1694
d. 1703
3rd Earl

d. 1676

d. 1698
2nd Earl
d. 1666
4th Earl


XXXDuke of
XXXEarls of
Also see the lists of siblings and children in the text.

Early Life[edit]

Nothing seems to be known about his youth and education. Already in his forties, he sat in the Irish House of Commons in the Irish parliaments of 1634 and 1639 as member for County Cork.[5]

His elder brother having predeceased his father, he succeeded his father in 1640 at the age of forty-six as the 2nd Viscount Muskerry.[6] As he was promoted Earl of Clancarty only in 1657, he was known as Lord Muskerry during the events of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, the Confederate Wars and the Cromwellian conquest.

He married Eleanor Butler (1612–1682), eldest daughter of Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles sometime before 1641.[7] This marriage made him the brother-in-law of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond.

Their children were:

  1. Helen (died 1722), who married William Burke, 7th Earl of Clanricarde;
  2. Margaret (died 1703), who became Countess of Fingall;[8]
  3. Charles (died 1665), who was killed in the Battle of Lowestoft[9] and predeceased his father;
  4. Callaghan(died 1676), who succeeded his brother's son as the 3rd Earl of Clancarty;[10]
  5. Justin (died 1694), who fought for the Jacobites and became Viscount Mountcashel;[11]
  6. Dennis (died 1694); and
  7. Honora.

Irish Wars[edit]

The Irish Rebellion of 1641 was launched by Phelim O'Neill from the northern province of Ulster in October 1641. Initially, Muskerry raised an armed force of his tenants and dependants to try to maintain law and order.[12] However, he was prompted to join the rebellion by the atrocities committed by the English President of Munster, William St Leger, against the Irish Catholic population in general.

In addition, many of Muskerry's relatives, who had lost lands to Protestant settlers in the Plantations of Ireland had already joined the rebellion – a factor that doubtless influenced Muskerry's decision. In 1642, being already 49, he put his armed men at the service of the Confederate Catholic Association of Ireland, an alternative, Catholic government based in Kilkenny, which had been formed by the rebels.

Muskerry was appointed to the "Supreme Council" of the Confederation of Kilkenny, their effective government. He was part of the team that negotiated with Charles I and his representative in Ireland, James Butler, Earl of Ormond, to secure an alliance between the Irish Confederates and English Royalists in the context of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Ormond was his brother-in-law. Muskerry was sympathetic towards royalism and disliked the more intransigent Confederates led by Giovanni Battista Rinuccini and Owen Roe O'Neill. Muskerry, who was already 49 at the time, was given the command of the Confederate Munster army. However, large parts of Munster were held by the Inchiquin's Protestant army.

On 4 June 1643 he commanded the Confederate Ulster army at the Cloghleagh where the Irish horse under Castlehaven, seconded from the Leinster Army, routed a detachment of Inchiquin's troops.[13]

In 1646 Muskerry commanded the Confederate army that laid siege to the army of Parliament at Bunratty Castle and captured it mid-July 1646.[14]

Early in August 1647 Muskerry resigned as general of the Confederate Munster Army.[15] The Confederate Supreme Council gave this command to Viscount Taaffe, who lost the Battle of Knocknanauss on 13 November 1647 against English and Munster Protestant troops under Inchiquin.

In 1649, shortly after the execution of Charles and the declaration of the Commonwealth of England, the Confederates did eventually approve a treaty with Charles II and the English Royalists. However, Ireland was soon invaded by the Parliamentarian New Model Army in 1649 under Oliver Cromwell, who had the aims of avenging the uprising of 1641, confiscating enough Irish Catholic owned land to pay off some of the Parliament's creditors, and eliminating a dangerous outpost of royalism.

Muskerry fought the last three years of this campaign in his own lands in western Cork and Kerry, from where he raised troops from his tenants and guerrilla bands known as "tories". He tried to relieve the siege of Limerick in 1651 but was intercepted and defeated on 26 July 1651 by General Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill, later Earl of Orerry, in the Battle of Knocknaclashy (also called Knockbrack), near Banteer, east of Killarney, and never came near Limerick, which surrendered on 27 October. This was the last pitched battle of the war.[16]

Muskerry fell back into the mountains of Kerry. On 27 June 1652 he surrendered to Edmund Ludlow, handing over his last stronghold Ross Castle near Killarney and disbanding his 5000-men army.[17][18] He was allowed to embark to Spain. He lost his estates in the Act of Settlement of 1652. His name is the eighth on the list of over 100 men who were excluded from pardon.[19] He found that he was not welcome in Spain because he had opposed Giovanni Battista Rinuccini, the papal nuncio. He therefore returned to Ireland in 1653, where he was put on trial in Dublin, being accused of having been responsible for the murder of English settlers in 1641 during their evacuation from his house at Macroom to Cork. However, it was established that he had tried to protect them and he was acquitted.[20]


After his acquittal he was again allowed to embark to Spain, but he seems to have gone to France where his family had already moved some time before the capture of Ross Castle. His wife lived with her sister Mary Butler, Lady Hamilton, in the convent of the Feuillantines in Paris,[21] and his daughter Helen was sent to boarding school at the abbey of Cistercian nuns of Port-Royal-des-Champs, near Versailles, together with her cousin Elizabeth Hamilton.

In 1656 or 1567 Charles II sent Muskerry, together with Sir George Hamilton to Madrid on a fruitless diplomatic mission.[22] Charles II, in exile at Brussels in 1658 rewarded him with the title of Earl of Clancarty.[23]

Later life[edit]

At the restoration Clancarty, as he was now, and his family returned to the British Isles. He eventually recovered his estates under the Act of Settlement of 1662.

In 1665 his son Charles, Lord Muskerry, was killed in the Battle of Lowestoft, a naval engagement with the Dutch[24] during the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–1667). Charles left an infant son, also called Charles who became heir apparent.

Clancarty died in London on 4 August 1665.[25] Charles's infant son died on 22 September 1666.[26] The succession then reverted to Donough's second son Callaghan, who became the 3rd Earl of Clancarty.

See also[edit]

Notes and References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cokayne 1913, p. 214, line 19: "DONOUGH MACCARTY ... was b. 1594;"
  2. ^ Ohlmeyer 2004, p. 107, left column, line 26: "Blarney Castle, just north of Cork City and 'a place of great strength' was the family's principal residence."
  3. ^ Cokayne 1893, p. 425: "He [Charles MacCarty] m. firstly, about 1590, Margaret, da. of Donough (O'BRIEN), 4th EARL OF THOMOND ..."
  4. ^ Ohlmeyer 2004, p. 107, left column, line 24: "With the death of his elder brother Cormac, Donough became heir ..."
  5. ^ a b Ohlmeyer 2004, p. 107, left column, line 45: "In the parliaments of 1634 and 1640 MacCarthy sat as MP for co. Cork and served as member of the committee which presented grievances to Charles I in 1640."
  6. ^ a b Ohlmeyer 2004, p. 107, left column, line 47: "In the same year [1640] he succeeded his father as second Viscount Muskerry."
  7. ^ a b Ohlmeyer 2004, p. 107, left column, line 35: "... Donough MacCarthy had married by 1641 Eleanor (or Ellen; 1612–1682), the eldest daughter of Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles, and sister of James, later Duke of Ormond."
  8. ^ Cokayne 1926, p. 386: "He [Luke Plunket] m., before 1666, Margaret, da. of Donough (MACCARTY) EARL OF CLANCARTY [I.], by Eleanor, sister of James (BUTLER) 1ST DUKE OF ORMONDE, and da. of Thomas BUTLER, styled VISCOUNT THURLES."
  9. ^ Cokayne 1913, p. 215, line 13: "He d. v.p. slain on board 'the Royal Charles' in a sea-fight against the Dutch, 3, and was bur. 22 June 1665 in Westm. abbey."
  10. ^ Cokayne 1913, p. 216: "CALLAGHAN (MACCARTY) EARL OF CLANCARTY etc [I.], uncle and h., being 2nd s. of the 1st Earl."
  11. ^ Cokayne 1893, p. 390: "THE HON. JUSTIN MACCARTY, 3d and yst s. of Donough, 1st EARL of CLANCARTY [I.] by Eleanor, sister of James DUKE of ORMONDE, ..."
  12. ^ Carte 1851, p. 148, line 17: "It was the middle of December before any one gentleman in the province of Munster appeared to favour the rebellion; many of them had shewn themselves zealous to oppose it and had tendered their service for that end. Lord Muskerry, who had married a sister of the Lord Ormond's, offered to raise a 1000 men at his own charge ..."
  13. ^ Castlehaven 1815, p. 40: "I lost no time in the charge, and quickly defeated his horse, who, to save themselves, broke in on the foot, and put them into disorder ..."
  14. ^ a b Coffey 1914, p. 179: "Bunratty fell in the middle of July 1646."
  15. ^ Coffey 1914, p. 194: "Early in August 1647 Muskerry laid down his command."
  16. ^ Coffey 1914, p. 222: "The last real battle fought in Ireland until the battle of the Boyne, nearly forty years later was at Knockbrack, on July 26th when Broghill fought Muskerry."
  17. ^ a b Ohlmeyer 2004, p. 107, right column: "he fought on before finally surrendering at Ross Castle (27 June 1652) and fleeing to the continent."
  18. ^ Firth 1894, p. 320, line 10: "Ross in Kerry; where the Lord Muskerry made his principal rendezvous, and which was the only place of strength the Irish had left, except the woods, bogs and mountains, ..."
  19. ^ Firth & Rait 1911, p. 599: "That James Butler, Earl of Ormond, ... Donogh Mac Carthy Viscount Muskerry ... be excepted from pardon for Life and Estate."
  20. ^ Firth 1894, p. 341: "... the court acquitted him ..."
  21. ^ Clark 1921, p. 8, line 27: "... his [Antoine Hamilton's] mother and his aunt, Lady Muskerry, had apartments at the Couvent des Feuillantines in Paris, ..."
  22. ^ Clark 1921, p. 9: "A little later [in 1657], Charles .. despatched Sir George Hamilton and his brother-in-law, Lord Muskerry, to Madrid to find out whether it would be agreeable to the King of Spain that the Irish now in Spain and those who would come over from the French should be sent immediately into Ireland."
  23. ^ a b Cokayne 1913, p. 215, line 2: "As reward for his services he was by patent dat. at Brussels 27 Nov., 1658, cr. EARL OF CLANCARTY, co. Cork [I.]"
  24. ^ a b Cokayne 1913, p. 215, line 13: "He d. v.p. being slain on board 'the Royal Charles' in a sea-fight against the Dutch, 3, and was bur. 22 June 1665 in Westm. Abbey."
  25. ^ Cokayne 1913, p. 215, line 6: "He [the 1st Earl] d. in London, 4 Aug. 1665."
  26. ^ Cokayne 1913, p. 216, line 4: "... d. an infant, 22 Sep. 1666."
  27. ^ Seccombe 1893, p. 437, left column, line 16: "He [Donough MacCarty] died in London on 5 Aug. 1665."

External links[edit]

Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Clancarty
1st creation
Succeeded by
Charles MacCarty
Preceded by
Charles MacCarty
Viscount Muskerry