”Where the Rock of Tuathail
towers o’er each breast”
A Short History of Carrigtwohill
by Tom Barry.
With the parish of Carrigtwohill in the throes of profound transformation from a largely agricultural district to substantial urbanisation, the opportunity to present a brief history is timely.
Lying at the heart of the Barony of Barrymore in East Cork, the parish comprises 37 townlands and about 10,000 acres. Fringed by the parishes of Cobh, Glounthaune, Lisgoold and Midleton, its northern low-lying hills slope gently southwards to a limestone plain and the sea at Cork harbour.
The strategic importance of Carrigtwohill village has long been clear. Nine miles east of Cork city, near the edge of Cork Harbour it commands both the passage to the Great Island of Cobh and the route from Cork to Youghal. At present 1,400 of the parish’s 3,400 population live in the village.
Nowadays the placename is spelt Carrigtwohill or Carrigtohill. Previous versions include “Karrectochell” (1234), “Carigtothel” (1285), “Carrugtochil” (1291), “Carrectothell” (1338), “Carrigtoghill” (1500’s) and “Carrigtoughill” (Down Survey 1654-59).
We are indebted to local historian, the late Liam O’Buachalla, for much of our knowledge of the area’s past. O’Buachalla felt most of these forms suggest Carraig Tuathghaill, a personal name, probably of a local landowner or petty chieftain, as the original. Another explanation is that Tuathail means awkward or out of the ordinary. The explanation being that, untypically for the district, the rock strata faced north.
The name giving Rock (Carraig) was a conspicuous outcrop of limestone, now quarried, about half a mile north east of the village. The “Subterranean Fairyland” of the Carrigtwohill caves, with its “stalagmites of rare beauty and design” (Coleman), can be accessed from this point.
While Homo Sapiens’ arrival locally has not been definitively dated, there are indicators to support considerable antiquity for “Carrigtwohill Man”.
Today, the Rossmore oyster is much appreciated in culinary circles. Its less well-known provenance may give a clue to Carrigtwohill’s early inhabitants. Irish shell middens (mounds of discarded sea shells) have been dated from the later part of the Mesolithic Stone Age (7000-4000 BC) to medieval times.
Over a quarter of all identified middens in the Cork Harbour area are to be found at eight locations in Carrigtwohill parish. The most substantial is at Brick Island in Rossmore townland. Writing in l929, the Reverend Professor Power associated the Rossmore mound with the Mesolithic period. The Mesolithic people were hunters, fishers and gatherers. They were not equipped with the tools to fell trees, till land and fight off wild beasts. As a result, inland bog and forest conditions confined them to the coastline and waterways. While not all writers endorse Power’s dating, the discovery of a flint scatter containing “a leaf- shaped arrowhead, a hollow scraper … few industrial elements” in the townland of Clyduff provides other evidence of Late Mesolithic occupation.
By circa 2350 BC, Nemed and his followers had settled on the neighbouring Oilean arda Neimhidh (Cobh island). O’Buachalla felt it likely the Nemedians ventured to Carrigtwohill. “Starboard side of Carrigtwohill”, by Donal na Greine, O’Buachalla’s nephew, contains elements of the combined Power/O’Buachalla thesis:
“Starboard side of Carrigtwohill
Is wound around a rainbow’s rim.
The apex of Rossmore enchores
With Cobh Great Island’s Kerubim.
Take a stroll on the seaweed-night,
Or four thousand-year dinner-shells.
Pebble a thought to speed of light
For moment that a wave’s life spells.
There, Nemed’s tribesmen must have seen
The Blackthorn lamps shine on his rule,
Or pressed a pebble on the screen
To the metre-bending duel. “
In the Bronze Age (2000-800 BC) the locality was well inhabited. This is confirmed by the identification of thirteen Fulachta Fiadh (cooking places), including three sites in the townland of Lackabeha, one of which was described as “immense”. Other evidence of Bronze Age habitation included Standing Stones at Gurranes and possibly at two locations in Carhoo.
Carn Tassaig – Carrigtwohill by Another Name
O’Buachalla’s research led him to believe Carn Tassaig could be an ancient name for Carrigtwohill.
The ui Tassaig were a branch of the ui Liathain, the ruling sept in East Cork for most of the first Millennium. The ui Tassaig’s territory lay around Carrigtwohill and the Great Island of Cobh, northwards and eastwards to Templeboden and Mogeela.
They traced their lineage from Aillill Tassaig, son of Eochaidh (Eocho) Liathainach, who established his primacy in East Cork about 400 AD. The main branch of the Ui Tassaigh, the Cenel-n- Aedha, descended from Aedh, son of Aillill Tassaig, was concentrated in Carrigtwohill.
Eochaidh was said to descend from Mogh Nuadhat who, towards the end of the first century AD, defeated Angus at what is now Belvelly and Fota Island, in the first major set piece in Carrigtwohill of which we have a record. Angus had claimed the sovereignty of Munster and was reputedly aided by fifteen thousand men, commanded by Cumhal, father of Fionn, sent by Con of the Hundred Battles. Mogh Nuadhat’s victory triggered a sequence which was to see him gain the southern half of Ireland, lose it, go into exile, marry into the royal House of Castille, return, be killed in battle and have his son, Oilioll Ollum (born 92 AD), marry Sadhbh daughter of Con.
The ui Tassaig may have had Patrician and High King connections. St Patrick is said to have commenced the conversion of Ireland about 432 AD. “Forus Feasa ar Eirinn” tells us:
‘Angus daughter of Tassaig, King of Liathain, was wife of the High King, Laoghaire, at Tara, on St Patrick’s visit there, and, unlike Laoghaire, she and her son Lughaidh, received the faith from Patrick”.
This Tassaig may have been the one- time Carrigtwohill ruler.
While we cannot say if the timing of Tassaig’s daughter’s conversion is indicative, there is evidence implying a relatively early coming of Christianity. Both Ballyvodock and Springhill were said to have early church sites. The siting of an ancient church in Killacloyne, near a folacht fiadh, is consistent with the early Christian evangelisers’ practice of subsuming as much of the native pagan tradition as they could. A number of holy wells are to be found including those at Ballinbrittig (two), Ballynoe (St David’s), Carrigane and Woodstock (Tobarrin na Casca – the Little Easter Well). During the seventh century disciples of St Mochuda are said to have built a church at Rossmore.
Early Christian ring forts were generally enclosed farmsteads rather than “forts” in a strict military sense. They usually consisted of circular ramparts of earth built around timber houses with a trench on the outside for protection.
Indicating a not insignificant population, over 30 sites or possible sites have been identified in Carrigtwohill parish, mostly on the northern side, as well as several “Enclosures”. Perhaps the most impressive remaining structures are at Curragh and Lios Aimhreidh in Woodstock “crowning a commanding height which affords a glorious and extensive prospect over sea and land … covering with its double rampart an area of about three acres” (Power).
Sophistication of development is underlined by the most notable example in Munster of linear (“travelling”) earthworks, an Cliadh Dubh (Black Ditch), forming the western boundary of the townland of Clyduff. Such earthworks defined and/ or defended boundaries. The most significant, the Black Pig’s Dyke, formed the 130 miles long southern boundary of the ancient kingdom of Uladh (Ulster).
While the ‘Archaeological Inventory of County Cork” (1994) says no definitive statement about an Cliadh Dubh’s date or function is possible, and makes a similar comment about the nearby Cliadh Buidhe (Yellow Ditch), O’Buachalla felt the UiLiathain or the UiTassaig left us these testaments to their engineering skills. Windele, in the 1800s, described an Cliadh Buidhe as about 5 feet high and 9 or 10 feet thick with a deep trench on the northern side. The eastern part of this double ditch seems to have been destroyed when making a new road through Ballyvodock about the middle of the nineteenth century.
From the stone flung on Brown Island by Fionn MacCumhal to Gortagousta (tillage field of the ghost) where an enchanted sheep lead wayfarers astray, Carrigtwohill has its folklore quotient, including the story of an Bó Finne.
The eponymous cow is said to have come ashore at Trabolgan or Ballycroneen and travelled to Woodstock by Bothar Bó Finne – reputed to be one of the roads radiating from Cashel, the ancient Munster capital, to Cluain-uamha (Cloyne) In Carrigtwohill, Bothar Bó Finne ran from the south west corner of Curragh to Ballyleary boreen and could be “traced south through Heamount and Carrigane by the east side of the glebe to Ballyvodock Castle” Across the water the road ran through Rathcoursey, Castlemary and on to Cloyne.
An Bó Finne slept at Leaba (Luighe) na Bó Bainne in Ballinakilla. Returning to Woodstock each morning she drank at Tobar Bó Finne, yielding a plentiful supply to all who milked her; until she was insulted. One woman, having bet with another she would bring a vessel the cow could not fill, produced a sieve. On seeing her milk on the ground, the cow uttered an infuriated bellow before heading due south for the harbour never to be seen again. The offending gambler was transfixed to her stool as the milk continued to rise and drown her.
The modern era begins with the Normans who arrived in Wexford and Waterford in 1169/70 under Strongbow and first came to East Cork about 1177. Clad in their coats of mail they captured Cork city and the districts around Cork Harbour. In May 1177, at the Council of Oxford, the country from Cork to Youghal was given to Robert Fitz Stephen.
The Barrys and Barryscourt
There was much resistance. Having been defeated by the Irish in 1182 Fitz Stephen sent for help. The following year his nephew, Philip de Barry, arrived from Wales. Fitz Stephen granted the cantred of Ui Liathain to Philip who built Barryscourt Castle.
Barryscourt Castle is claimed to have been one of the first structures of the kind erected by the Anglo Normans and is said to have been where Philip’s brother, Geraldis Cambrensis, wrote his account of the Norman Invasion. There he described the natives as “handsome in face and form (whose) children are left to nature’s moulding”. Through the centuries there were a number of modifications, including substantial rebuilding towards the end of the 16th century.
It is assumed the village, as we now know it, sprang up around the building of the castle to house the usual settlement of retainers, labourers, tradesmen and soldiers. As the Normans settled in, the timber homes of earlier times gave way to mud walled houses.
When the Barrys built a church at Carrigtwohill it was dedicated to their patron St David, who remains the patron saint of the parish. Today’s parish includes three earlier parishes, Carrigtwohill, Templecuraheen (Kilcurfin) and Mogesha, the old parish which extended from Ballyannon west to Rossmore. In 1319 Carrigtwohill church was in the hands of the Franciscans of Buttevant Abbey, which had been founded by Sir David de Barry, Lord Justice of Ireland in 1267.
A charter was granted to Philip de Barry’s grandson, David, in 1234 allowing him to hold a market every Friday. Fairs and markets for horses, cattle, pigs and peddlery were held in the village for 600 years. The traditional fair days were March 12th, May 12th, August 26th, September 19th and November 9th.
The Barrys kept the townlands immediately adjoining the castle, Carrigtwohill, Clyduff, Rossmore and Fota, as their private estate – the Manor of Carrigtwohill. Once they had a grip on the land the old tribal system was swept away. Different ploughlands were granted to sub-landlords with names such as Terry, Newton, Galway, De Claville, Hodnett and minor Barry families.
The enduring fealty of such vassals to the Barrys is illustrated by the story of Castle Garr, of which there is now no trace. According to “The Castles of County Cork” by James N Healy (1988) it was occupied by the Newtons, was probably quite small (Garr = short) and guarded the ford to Fota Island at Slatty. When David Barry vacated Barryscourt in the seventeenth century, the Newtons, replicating the example of their patron, sold Castle Garr and their lands at Carrigtwohill to the Earl of Cork and followed David to Castlelyons.
The ongoing power and influence of the Barrys as well as the intertwining of the spiritual and secular is evidenced by the fact Gerald de Barry was Bishop of Cork in 1359 and by 1490 the Barrys were of sufficient standing to have Lord Barry of Barryscourt summoned to Parliament as Lord Baron Barry.
Ballyvodock and Ballyannon Castles
In the 13th century the Hodnett’s were granted land in the Great Island of Cobh. They built Belvelly castle to guard the entrance to the island. They acquired land at Ballyannon and Ballyvodock and built two further castles. Their growing power alarmed the Barrys leading to the capture of Belvelly Castle by Lord Barry aided by de Roche of Fermoy in 1329. The Barrys thus became masters of Great Island and named it Barrymore.
The ruins of Ballyvodock Castle stand on a little headland at Ahanesk, partly surrounded by water. The site was probably chosen for its commanding view of the East Ferry portion of Cork Harbour. There may have been a previous fortification at Ahanesk which folklore attributes to the legendary builder An Goban Saor.
Following the Reformation a new faith had gained ascendency in England where the time of Elizabeth I was a golden age. In Ireland, a number of campaigns were fought, ultimately resulting in the demise of the old Gaelic and Anglo Norman order.
The first major resistance was the Desmond Rebellion, led by the most powerful family in South Munster the Fitzgeralds (Geraldines). The Barrys tried to play both sides. On the 14th January 1568 the Commissioners sent to govern Ireland, on the imprisonment of the Earl of Desmond, wrote acknowledging Lord Barry’s role in saving them from ambush by “ten thousand Kerne under Gerald Brache, one of the Earl’s kinsmen”.
In 1579 Lord James Barry blotted his copybook in the authorities’ eyes by allowing the Earl of Desmond to pass Barryscourt on his way to Youghal at the beginning of the second Desmond Rebellion. He was imprisoned in Dublin Castle. His son David Barry’s first stratagem to free his father was to attack many of his fellow Irishmen and send their heads to Cork. When this did not produce the desired result, two months before James’s death in captivity in 1581, David joined the Geraldines.
At this Sir Walter Raleigh (famous for introducing tobacco and potatoes from the New World and ever the opportunist) hastened to Dublin to his patron, the Lord Deputy, Lord Grey de Wilton. Grey granted him Barryscourt, which Raleigh described as “a great strength to the Country, and the safety for all passengers between Cork and Youghal”.
Returning to Cork, he prepared to take possession, sending one of his men in disguise to Barryscourt to assassinate David. Barry discovered the plan, hanged the would-be assassin and burned the castle, before joining John Fitzedmund Fitzgerald of Castlemartyr Castle, the leader of the Catholic forces in Desmond. Fitzedmund Fitzgerald and Barry ambushed Raleigh as he advanced to take Barryscourt forcing him “to fly to Cork with sword in hand”.
In 1583 the Earl of Desmond was killed and the insurrection collapsed. Barry, astutely described by Burleigh, the Queen’s Secretary, as “the subtlest fox that ever Munster bred”, switched sides again, probably after a quarrel with Fitzedmund Fitzgerald. His property was restored.
On repossessing the Castle, David effected substantial rebuilding. He seems to have taken one lesson above all others to heart – never again to defy the superior forces of the Crown. After his victory at the Battle of the Yellow Ford, Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, came south to persuade the southern lords and chieftains to join him. Most of the Irish chiefs of west Munster did so.
When Barry refused an invitation to meet O’Neill at Glanmire, O’Neill marched to Woodstock where he camped, reputedly at the already mentioned Lios Aimhréidh, in February 1599. A final appeal from O’Neill and his Jesuit Chaplin, Father Archer, “to shake off the yoke of heresy and tyranny with which our souls and bodies are oppressed” was spurned with the words “by the law of God and His true religion I am bound to hold with her Majesty”. As a result of this refusal over two hundred towns and villages in Barry’s territory were “spoiled and burnt, four thousand cattle driven off and many horses as well” by O’Neill’s men. According to David Barry, practically all houses in Carrigtwohill from Ballinbrittig to Ballyvodock were destroyed.
David Barry’s grandson, also David, born in 1605, succeeded to his estate in 1617. Being a minor, like many other Irish
Catholic heirs, the government brought him up as a Protestant.
By this time the adventurer, Richard Boyle, the “Great” Earl of Cork, recently adjudged by the Sunday Times as the richest man ever to live in Ireland, was at the height of his powers. According to “The Castles of County Cork”, Boyle was hovering over the Barrymore territory “like the vulture he was, and, recognising young Barrymore as a likely prospect, had him married at the age of sixteen to his eldest daughter Alice”.
Barry seems not to have cared for Barryscourt. He raised the money to repair and enlarge his new seat at Castlelyons by mortgaging Barryscourt to Lord Cork. In 1627, through the agency of his father-in- law, he was created First Earl of Barrymore. He served against the Scots in 1639 and took part in the Confederate (Cromwellian) Wars which commenced with the insurrection of 1641 in the North and continued until 1652. David disdainfully rejected overtures to join the Irish insurgents preferring to “take an offer from my brother; Dungarvan, to be hang-man general at Youghal” as he was “resolved to live and die a faithful subject of the English Crown”. This he proved in several engagements until his death from wounds received at the Battle of Liscarroll, in 1642. After the Confederation of Kilkenny in 1642, Lord Castlehaven led the combined Irish and Loyalist forces. Cromwell’s men were led by Murrough O’Brien, Lord Inchiquin (Murrough the Burner). The Egmont Manuscripts describe the only recorded siege to which Barryscourt Castle was subjected during its existence: “my Lord Inchiquin sallied out of Cork with about one thousand six hundred foot and horse, and slew six or seven opposers garrisoned in Barryscourt; the rest – two or three hundred – forsook the works and fled to the castle adjoining” (Ballyvodock).
Ballyvodock was also besieged. The capture of Barryscourt Castle occurred on or about the 13th May 1645.
In the same period a battle took place at Milebush where, after three days, the Loyalist force led by Kirwan was defeated by troops sent by Inchiquin. According to an 1840 historian, Kirwan “was buried honourably in the old church in Carrigtwohill clad in his armour which church Murrough had about the same time burned”.
When Cromwell had finally defeated the Irish, none of the objectives of the Old Irish and Anglo-Irish had been achieved. The king had not triumphed over Parliament, the Catholic faith was suppressed and lost estates had not been regained – many more were lost. To ascertain how much land was available for confiscation, the Civil (Down) Survey was undertaken in 1654. The 1659 Census gives the first accurate population count. In the parishes of Carrigtwohill and Mogesha were 748 people of which 625 were described as Irish and 123 English. 158 people lived in the village.
After Cromwell’s death in 1658 and the Restoration of Charles II, many of the catholic landowners argued that, as they had taken no part in the wars, their lands should be restored. A Court of Claim was set up in 1661 to hear such petitions. The Book of Survey and Distribution 1677 decided the issue with some of the former owners restored and many not.
Among the winners in Carrigtwohill was the Cromwellian, Sir St. John Broderick, who received several hundred acres in Ballyannon and Ballyvodock. The Brodericks built a Tower House at Ballyannon. With relative peacefulness, it was possible to adopt a new architectural style and build more comfortable, less security conscious, residences. The thickness of walls was considerably reduced and wooden floors were used. Larger windows became possible through the introduction of glass and roofs were slated instead of thatched.
Only two Brodericks lived in Ballyannon. The second was made the first Lord Midleton when the town got its charter and entitlement to send two members to Parliament. After Lord Midleton died, about 1720, the Castle ceased to be the family residence.
Cotters of Ballinsperrig (Annegrove)
As the Barrymores forsook Carrigtwohill for Castlelyons, another notable family arrived.
In 1627 Edmund Cotter of Ballyvaloon, near Cobh, leased from the Earl of Barrymore, “the Castle, town and lands of Ballinsperrig”. This passed to his son James. The Cotters, originally Vikings and related to the Barrys by marriage, were supporters of the Stuart Kings. Parliament, led by Cromwell, had overthrown the monarchy in England and in 1649 executed Charles I. James Cotter became a close friend of Charles II, accompanying him during his exile on the Continent.
In 1658, Charles II came to the throne. He gave Swiss based fugitives who played a leading part in the execution of his father forty days to surrender. When they refused, Cotter was commissioned to hunt them down. At Lausanne Cotter’s group killed Colonel John Lisle, who had drawn up the warrant for Charles I’s execution. Cotter was rewarded with a large annual pension and the Governorship of the Leeward Islands in the West Indies. He later fought with James II in several English battles and was knighted.
He returned to Ireland and settled at Ballinsperrig about 1685. During the Williamite Wars Cotter was commander of the Royal Forces in the southern counties of Munster. In March 1689 James II stayed at Ballinsperrig for some nights on his way to Lismore and Dublin. It is also suggested that James made Tyrconnel, his Irish commander, a Duke at Barryscourt Castle.
As James II’s Governor of Cork in 1689, Cotter was reputed to have been scrupulously fair. In consequence, after the defeat at Limerick, on the intervention of Protestant friends, he was allowed remain peacefully at his home at Ballinsperrig. There he welcomed artists, musicians and poets. He afforded protection to the catholic clergy including Dr Sleyne, bishop of Cork and Cloyne. According to an Irish Life of Sir James, churchmen from Munster and other provinces visited Dr Sleyne and general assemblies were held at Ballinsperrig.
Sir James Cotter ﬁrst married a Miss Stapleton and in 1688 married Ellen Plunkett, daughter of Lord Louth and kinswoman of St Oliver Plunkett. A son, James Cotter the Younger, was born in 1689. Sir James Cotter died in 1705.
As the ﬁfteen year old successor to his father’s estate, under the Penal Code, the Younger James Cotter should have been put under Protestant guardianship. By various stratagerns and aided by well-disposed Protestants, leading to the case being raised in the Irish House of Commons in 1707, he evaded the Court of Wards arrangements. In 1708 or 1709, while still a minor, he married Margaret Mathew of Thurles, aunt of Nano Nagle. Another member of this family, Fr Theobold Mathew, was to rise to fame a century later.
Cotter became a leading ﬁgure among the Irish Catholics, taking an active part in opposing the Penal Laws and in striving to bring the Catholic Prince, James Francis Stuart- the Pretender – to the English Throne. In the early part of the 18th Century the franchise was in the hands of a small number of wealthy Protestants, perhaps less than 5% of the population in the South. Frequently on election day in the larger centres, the catholic populace tried to mob and intimidate the Protestant voters.
During the 1713 elections Cotter was a leader of the Catholic mob in Dublin. These were regarded as of vital importance. The Jacobites hoped to bring the Pretender to the throne on the imminently expected death of Queen Anne. The Orange faction emerged victorious from the elections and the Irish House of Commons re-appointed as Speaker Alan Broderick (later First Viscount Midleton), Cotter’s fellow parishioner and nemesis.
In 1714, Queen Anne died. George, the Elector of Hanover, succeeded as George I. Ormond, the Lord Lieutenant, who with other prominent Jacobites fled to the Continent, was attainted for High Treason. Cotter, one of the leading Jacobites in the South, and a relative of Ormond, became a marked man.
He had not endeared himself to the predominantly Quaker Orange faction in Cork City. Debarred by the Penal Laws from the possession of carriage horses, Cotter was wont to drive a team of bullocks into Cork with orange colours tied to their legs. He also boasted of favours from his enemies’ ladyfolk. One of these, Elizabeth Squibb, possibly a former mistress, played the key role in his downfall on a trumped up rape charge.
After a legal process, distinguished by guile and chicanery, a special jury under Alan Broderick’s son, St John, found Cotter guilty. He was sentenced to death. Notwithstanding a widespread clamour for reprieve, supported by a number of inﬂuential Protestants, including at least three members of the Broderick family, the Earl of Barrymore and a Mrs Squibb (evidently Elizabeth’s mother), and an escape attempt the night before, Cotter was executed on May 7th 1720, aged 31. Like his father, he was buried in the family tomb in what is now the old graveyard.
Cotter’s son, also called James, was placed by Sir Alan Broderick under the care of a Protestant guardian, a Mr Ryves of Tipperary, a relative of the Mathew family. Eventually Ballinsperrig reverted to the Barrymores who resided there for a while after the great ﬁre at Castlelyons in 1771. Lord Barrymore renamed the house Annegrove after his wife Anne Coughlan of Waterford.
The Coppingers, another Danish family, which amassed great wealth from trading and manufacturing in Cork City, overlapped with the Cotters.
In 1677 Stephen Coppinger of Ballyvolane owned 247 acres of profitable land at Killacloyne and 74 at Garrancloyne. His lands had been taken in the Cromwellian conﬁscation. The story of their return, variations notwithstanding, underlines the value of friends in high places. One account has the Louvain educated Stephen bailing Cromwell out at a card game in Holland. Whatever about the card game the incurrence of a debt seems to be true. Cromwell is said to have lost the address of his creditor and it was not until some years subsequently the debt was repaid by the restoration of Coppinger’s lands on Cromwell’s direct orders.
Stephen’s son, Thomas, was outlawed for his loyalty to King James II, and ﬂed to France. One of Thomas’s sons, Edward, died from wounds received fighting with Sir James Cotter at the Battle of Bottle Hill in 1696. Two other sons, another Stephen and John, later returned to Ireland.
Stephen obtained the lease of Barryscourt from the Earl of Barrymore and in 1716 a house was built next to Barryscourt Castle. While the exact occupancy is unclear, for at least part of the period following the Barrymore departure Barryscourt was “leased to Edward Morley, Oliver Parsons, Henry Parr etc., at a rent of £200 yearly”. At some point Barryscourt reverted from the Earl of Cork to the Barrymores. John settled in Garrancloyne and there built “The Three Chimney House”, the remains of which can still be seen. A third Coppinger house was built at Rossmore.
The following generations of Coppingers were well connected and added to the family wealth and prestige. William (1753 to 1831) was Bishop of Cloyne and Ross for forty years. His sister, Elizabeth, in 1760, helped Nano Nagle found a convent of the Ursuline Order in Cork. Thomas of Rossmore, is said to have been involved in the establishment of Maynooth College in 1795. The last Barryscourt Coppinger, William, was a highly progressive farmer, politically conservative, and a brother in law of the Liberator Daniel O’Connell’s brother. He played a prominent part in the Catholic movement in the nineteenth century. He died in 1863 and was buried in Templecurraheen cemetery.
The degree to which the anti-Catholic Penal Laws were enforced during the eighteenth century varied from time to time and region to region. The Catholic church was supported and protected by the Catholic families who had retained their holdings – often by obtaining leases from liberal and friendly Protestants such as the Earls of Barrymore. Aside from the Cotters and Coppingers, among the catholic families who remained entrenched in Carrigtwohill were: the Sarsfields of Johnstown in Glounthaune Parish, the O’Heas of Heamount and Carrigane (longtime Barry retainers), the Forrests (probably descendants of Robert de Fereres who held lands in the neighbourhood in 1301), and the Stacks.
Curtailment of trade with countries other than England led to considerable smuggling to and from the Continent. Local tradition says Ahanesk was a ﬂourishing centre. Wool and whiskey were the main exports while wines, tea and tobacco were imported. As the Penal Laws allowed only the older clergy remain in the country, and prohibited seminaries, the smugglers also carried priests and clerical students. In 1750 Father Liam English, an Augustinian father and Gaelic poet, eulogised David Gleeson of Ballyvodock, “the fearless sailor and friend of the clergy”, presumably for services rendered.
In the 1700s and in the following century, we come across mention of a number of educational establishments, in folk memory referred to as hedge schools. Exactly what form these took or for whom they catered is not clear. There was nothing like mass education as we know it today. At various times schools are said to have operated in Carrigane (teachers Ryan and Parker), Ballyvodock (O’Doherty), Ballintubber (Crowley), and in the village. There is also said to have been a school at Hegarty’s Cross in Gurranes (last teacher Daniel O’Leary) and, the best remembered master, Daithi de Barra, taught at Woodstock.
At this time all was not sweetness and light for the ordinary people. The majority of them probably lived in cramped and crowded conditions, grossly unhygienic by today’s standards, eking out an existence as tenant farmers or labourers. A number seem to have been aggrieved enough in the second half of the 1700s to become involved in a Whiteboy incident at Carrigane. The Whiteboys were loosely organised groups of disaffected country people who sought to improve their lot and/ or vent their frustration by attacks on landlords’ property, cattle etc.
In those non-mechanical days, in common with much of the country, the local labour force was not sufficient and was supplemented by seasonal workers known as Spailpins. The old name for Carrigane Cross is Carrigean Ciarraoich (The Kerryman’s Rock). Spailpins from other parts of Cork and Kerry came to this point to hire their services for the season to the local landowners.
By 1744 the same landowners seem to have been sufficiently well entrenched to hold what would now be described as a four day racing festival. They advertised “good ordinarys each day at 3s.6d. (17.5p) a head, a Bottle of Claret included.”
This is the ﬁrst known equestrian event in the parish. The tradition continued. “Matthew”, owned by Courtney Barry of Ballyedmound, the ﬁrst Irish horse to win the Aintree Grand National (in 1847 at 10/1), is buried in Ballyrichard. Horses bred by the Keegan family have competed in the Epsom Derby and Aintree National. Eddie Macken’s show jumping champion, Kerrygold, was bred by the Maher family while Terry O’Brien’s Ballyvodock won many King’s Premia at London show in the early part of the 20th Century. Pigeon Hill races, on Easter Monday, were once known as the “Fairyhouse of the South”. Nowadays the very successful annual Point-to-Point attracts crowds of 3-4,000 people and serious Cheltenham contenders.
Proving that over-indulgence and exuberance are not new phenomena, is the story concerning the sequel to one Pigeon Hill meeting. A Carrigtwohill man was brought before the Reverend Fake, Midleton Magistrate, charged with being drunk and disorderly at the races. When asked if he had anything to say the accused replied:
“The other day at Pigeon Hill I turned out a rake
And that is why I am here today to stand before old Fake
Old Fake he is a clergyman his Church he ought to mind
And leave the Petty Sessions Court and other Laws behind”
Fake dismissed the case.
In 1750 the historian, Smith, described Carrigtwohill as “a small village seated on an arm of the sea which at high water ﬂows under a bridge and overspreads a large tract of land making an excellent marsh for fattening horses.” This “arm of the sea” extended from Slatty, near Fota, to Barryscourt Castle and to near the western side of the village, which is situated on a slight rise of ground. It is thought the bridge mentioned was at Fontarabia.
Smith’s map shows three roads running through Carrigtwohill Parish. One was the main road from Cork to Midleton. Another, the old route to Cobh, ran from the village to the Castle and thence to the sea at Barryscourt. Until the beginning of the 19th Century a ferry operated between Barryscourt and the opposite shore of Great Island. The third road ran from near Midleton towards Mallow through Heamount and Woodstock. By 1795 Carrigtwohill had grown to a Fair Town containing over one hundred houses.
As the eighteenth Century drew to a close murmurings of unrest could again be detected. While in 1798 there was no United Irishmen rising in Munster to compare with events in Wexford or Ulster, there had been considerable organising and activity.
Tuckeys 1837 “Remembrancer” tells us:
“March 9th, 1794, Sir Henry Mannix, attended by a party of cavalry, made an extensive circuit of the parishes of Carrigtwohill and the Great Island for the purpose of preventing illegal oaths from being administered.”
Tradition says that a company of United Irishmen was formed under the leadership of the local butcher, Forrest. Drilling was carried out under a Little Island man called Martin. Martin was overheard promising the authorities a list of sworn United men. Forrest, on being informed of the treachery, killed Martin on the Carrigane road, near the gates to the Rock, from which the parish partially gets its name. Forrest was arrested for murder but managed to escape to America. Not so lucky was John Walsh, blacksmith of Ballyannon, who was taken to Cobh and ﬂogged to death. A monument in his memory was recently unveiled in Midleton by his descendent and namesake Jack, of Ballintubber.
In the opposite camp, Lord Barrymore, residing at Annegrove, is said to have commanded a force of Yeomen. O’Buachalla tells the story of one of these, Barry, accompanied by Coppinger, riding on horseback to the altar to remonstrate with the priest during Sunday Mass. Although the cause of the incident is shrouded in history, given their names and boldness, it is likely the two offenders were members of locally prominent catholic families.
At the beginning of the new century the village suffered a major setback when fire destroyed fourteen houses in 1803. In 1807 a most significant topographical change added much to the potential for growth around the village. The “excellent marsh for fattening horses” described in 1750 was reclaimed when the embankment and sluice at Slatty were built. The bridge to Belvelly was also built making access to the Great Island and the town of Cobh much easier. Lord Barrymore owned about half the land in the parish. However, the abundance built up over centuries had been dissipated by the later absentee earls. In 1807 the heavily mortgaged estate was sold. Among the purchasers were Cromwellian and Williamite families who had settled in Cork over a century previously, including the Gubbinses, Wises, Martins, Lowes and Travers.
A branch of the main family, the Smith Barrys, remained in Fota. Sir Richard Morrison, one of Ireland’s greatest architects, transformed the modest hunting lodge into What is now an outstanding example of Regency architecture. The famous Arboretum was commenced about 1840.
In the first part of the 19th Century many landlords decided to clear their estates of tenants and switch to cattle farming. About 1825 the Gubbins and Martin Estates, comprising the townlands of Annegrove, Tullagreine, Forrestown, Longstown, and part of Cloneen and Tibbotstown were cleared. While some of the dispossessed tenants got farms elsewhere many were forced to take the emigrant ship or face the workhouse. Ten years later, over a dozen families on the Jackson Estate in Ballyvodock East and Ahanesk were evicted and their homes demolished in the one day.
The population of the parish in 1831 was given as 6,372. In 1837 Lewis described the village “it consists principally of one long irregular street containing ninety eight small houses, indifferently built”.
One of the most notable personages of the ﬁrst part of the 19th century was the poet and schoolmaster Daithi de Barra (Dath a‘Ghleanna or Daithi na Stua) of Woodstock (Bun na Stua). De Barra wrote the account of the Tithe Affray at Rossmore in June 1833 which left one soldier dead and the military in retreat from the local populace, having failed to collect tithes. While we do not know when Irish ceased to be the vernacular language of the area, de Barra’s account was written in Irish.
Carrigtwohill involvement in the Tithe War extended beyond parish boundaries. In December 1834 nine young men were shot by soldiers assisting the Rev Ryder collect tithes from the widow Ryan’s at Gortroe, off the Midleton to Rathcormac road. Among those slain were the two Collins brothers, who were buried in Templecurraheen:
“On that same day, the guilty guns,
Smoked black o’er Widow Collins’ sons
Young Mike and John who jointly rest
Where the Rock of Tuathail towers o’er each breast.”
The Tithe War was not the only national event to impinge on Carrigtwohill in the 1830’s. In 1839 the biggest temperance procession ever staged in Ireland was held in Cork addressed by Father Theobald Matthew and Daniel O’Connell. Among the bands attending was one from Carrigtwohill.
The Great Famine of the mid to late 1840s was one of the blackest periods in Irish history. While Carrigtwohill may not have suffered as acutely as some parts (whether through the fertility of the soil, the less oppressive approach of the local gentry or other reasons) considerable hardship was experienced. A large house on one of the hills overlooking the village, on the farm now owned by the Jagoe family, was used as a hospital for the victims of the famine.
In May 1846 “soup establishments, provision stores, and bread shops were attacked by raging mobs at Carrigtohill” as well as Castlemartyr, Killeagh and Clonakilty. In the period 1841 to 1851 the population of Carrigtwohill fell from 5,776 to 4,636.
About 1854 the Cork to Youghal railway was built through the parish. Before that the Bianconi coaches used Rockville House as one of their staging posts.
In the mid 1860s the Fenian movement was widespread in Ireland and well supported in Carrigtwohill. The main military action in East Cork was the attack on Castlemartyr police barracks on March 5th 1867. O’Buachalla tells us that, as a result of the attack, among those who had to ﬂee the country were Con Leahy of Ballintubber and David Barry, Blacksmith of Killacloyne.
While the rising was effectively over within a short time, there were some sporadic lingering attacks including one on the 26th December 1867 on the Martello Tower at Fota led by Captain Mackey and John O’Connell.
In 1869 the foundation stone for the present St Mary’s Catholic Church was laid, a signiﬁcant event demonstrating the increasing conﬁdence of the bulk of the local population. On 15th May 1872 the church was consecrated by Bishop Dr Keane – one of a number of enduring achievements from the forty year tenure of Fr Seymour as parish priest. Over the doorway, leading to the nave is a tablet bearing the inscription “Dhia O Thearmuin Muire Naornhtha”. This is said to come from the earlier church which had been designed by the well known Father Matt Horgan while he was a curate, on or near the same site.
The 19th century saw the introduction of mass education. The national debate as to who should have charge of the schools was intense with the Catholic Church fighting tenaciously and successfully to hold its corner. The old National School for boys and girls on the Barryscourt road was built in 1856.
A National School had existed for some time when the Sisters of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God arrived in 1875. The Order was invited to establish a foundation in Carrigtwohill by Miss Fitzgerald of Rockville with the support of Father Seymour. He promised a site for the Convent, a subscription towards the building costs and “the grass for a cow” – in what was to become the GAA ﬁeld. Within a short time the Sisters had taken over the teaching duties for girls at the National School. By the 1890s they had opened a secondary boarding school.
The 1870s was a period notable for Parnellism and Land League agitation which gave rise to profound socio economic changes throughout Ireland. In what is possibly an example of the calm before the storm, the Constitution of the 3rd January 1870 recorded a harvest celebration at Ballyedmond. Dinner was supplied for 200 labourers, their wives and children in a granary, suitably decorated, with “two fiddlers, a substantial meal, plum pudding and plenty of porter”. The newspaper opined such festive gatherings maintained good relationships between proprietor and tenant and that the welfare of the labouring class was also catered for by the grant of a portion of land connected with dwellings to cultivate potatoes and cabbage.
An early branch of the Land League in County Cork was formed in Carrigtwohill in 1879. Chief among the founders was the curate Father RM. Lynch who played a central role in the establishment of the GAA club. The chief demands of the Land League were fair rent, free sale and of tenure. The main centres of agitation in Carrigtwohill were Carrigane and Ballintubber East. On their refusal to pay rent many families in these townlands were evicted. Landlords were boycotted and a force of police was stationed in Ballintubber in a ﬁeld still known as “the Barrack Field”.
As the trouble became more serious countrywide, a Coercion Act was passed in 1881. Under the Act, Edmund Higgins of Heamount, Edmund Cotter of Carrigane and Michael Harte of Ballintubber, members of the Land League, were imprisoned in Clonmel Gaol for three months without charge. Land League agitation led to the passing of a number of Land Acts eventually enabling tenants purchase their holdings. Under the ﬁrst Act (1885) Ballinbrittig and Ballinabointra were purchased.
Carrigtwohill is not always readily associated with the arts. However, at least two prominent Cork artists of the last one hundred and fifty years had strong associations with the parish. The mysterious William Gerard Barry who died in France in 1940 was born in Ballyadam. Barry’s most famous work is “Time Flies”. His colourful life took him to London, Paris, Canada, the United States and the South Seas. At different times he was jailed, was a Montmartre habitue, rescued a drowning man, worked as a ranch-hand and shared a studio with Augustus John. At one stage a portrait of President Wilson by Barry hung in the White House.
The second major locally connected artist is sculptor Ken Thompson who for many years resided at Ballintubber. His Works include the statue of St Patrick in Westport and the Air India Memorial at Ahakista. Thompson, a scion of the Thompson baking family of Cork City, originally trained as a confectioner before turning his hands to things artistic.
The noted 19th century antiquarian and historian of the Barrys, Rev Edmund Barry, was also a native of the parish.
In 1905 the Church of Ireland community completed a new Saint David’s Church, endowed by Lord Barrymore (a Smith Barry who had revived the title which lapsed again in 1926). This adjoined the old structure, on the site of the Norman church, which had been in use since 1676. In 1995 the building was re-ordered as the Saint David’s Centre. Carrigtwohill took an early part in the Gaelic revival. Aside from having one of the oldest GAA clubs in the country, by 1905 a branch of Gaelic League had been formed. The Redmondite/O’Brienite differences of the early part of the century were well reﬂected. When the Great War of 1914-1918 came Lord Barrymore had no hesitation in volunteering the workforce of his Belvelly brickworks.
The Troubles affected Carrigtwohill as severely as any other part of the country. The taking of the local RIC barracks is covered later in this book. There were a number of other engagements including the Milebush and Killacloyne ambushes. Several locals, on both sides, lost their lives, often in callous circumstances. Some are remembered with memorial crosses in the village and others are largely forgotten. On one occasion much of the population was forced to take refuge in the convent from ransacking Black and Tans.
The 1930s were marked in Carrigtwohill by most of the same events as elsewhere in Ireland (political differences, recession, emigration etc.). Emigration was not something new and did not end with the 1930s. For much of the nineteenth century, if not before, Carrigtwohill people had left for England, America and beyond. As with most Irish parishes, to this day many families have offshoots well beyond native shores.
Signiﬁcant progress was made on a number of fronts: the Tibbotstown Reservoir, supplying Cobh with drinking water, was constructed; in 1936 a new Girls School was built; in 1939 part of Kent Terrace was completed; the creamery at Ballyrichard was also opened; a Pipe Band temporarily prospered and tobacco growing was tried in 1933. The latter may seem outlandish in hindsight but not necessarily so in the dire economic circumstances of the time.
The 1940s were defined by the World War 2 “Emergency” with rationing, internment, LDF enrolment, more emigration (especially to England) and turf cutting in Barryscourt bog. Rural electrification came in the 1950s, Fr O’Keeffe Terrace was built in Barryscourt, local voluntary effort erected the Muintir na Tire hall (substantially extended by the very active Community Council in the 1990s) and in 1957 the new Boys School opened.
Furore was caused when actress Dawn Adams, staying at Ahanesk during an early Cork Film Festival, was reported to bathe in milk. The 1940s and 50s were also notable for the sporting achievements of several parishioners, apart from hurlers. In 1948 George O’Brien won the All-Ireland junior ploughing championship. In the 1950s Willie O’Brien won an All Ireland Cycling Championship while Johnny Harte won an All Ireland Cross Country Championship.
With the swinging sixties came near full employment for the ﬁrst time in Youghal Carpets, Ellis, Broughs, Healys etc. The youth of Carrigtwohill ﬂocked to pleasure palaces like Red Barn and the Arcadia in Cork City. There were also local festivals and the village expanded with over twenty new houses in Pearse Place. The Cork to Youghal railway line closed to passengers and some years later to goods traffic.
In 1973 Ireland joined the European Economic Community. The establishment of the IDA estate in Tullagreine, giving new impetus to an industrial tradition dating at least to the Rohan brick factory in the same townland in the nineteenth century, was one of the most signiﬁcant events of the 1970s. In the same period two housing developments, Castleview and Ryan & Ahern, added signiﬁcantly to the village population. Similar developments in the extreme east of the parish, which runs to the outskirts of Midleton town, and clusters of new single dwellings added to the overall parish figure. The 1970s also saw the Jehovah’s Witnesses establish themselves in the area and the natural gas pipeline from Inch to Cork was laid through the parish in the mid to late 1970s.
Further population increase came with the completion of Maryville estate in the 1980s which also brought the unwelcome return of emigration and economic downturn. The same decade saw the commencement of substantial renovation to Barryscourt Castle. In 1983 Fota Wildlife Park was opened.
The late 1980s and the 1990s saw renewed industrialisation, especially west of the village and much expansion of the local Poor Servants of the Mother of God girls’ secondary school. In 1991 the Family Resource Centre was established by the local chapter of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. In the same year President Robinson ofﬁcially opened the Greenville House Autistic Centre. In 1992 Barryscourt based TD Michael Ahern became a Minister of State.
Approximately 140,000 people attended the National Ploughing Championships at Ballyadam in 1992. Another highly prestigious event, the Irish Open, will be staged at Fota, one of the parish’s two golf courses, in 2001 and 2002. Other sports such as badminton, gymnastics and basketball have made considerable headway, with locals achieving local and national success together with international recognition. More traditional pastimes like road bowling, greyhound racing, coursing and drag hunting, some of which have also produced national champions and international representatives, continue to have their adherents.
In a decade of much change the opening of the Cork to Youghal by-pass roadway (N25) in 1994 was one of the most notable occurrences. The construction of the Carrig Downs estate on the western side of the village in the mid-1990s now looks to be a minor precursor of development to come. As the precise form of further development continued to be debated, the second millennium AD was appropriately brought to a close with the premiere of Mary Ronayne Keane’s musical narrative “The Ghosts of Barryscourt” at the refurbished castle in September 1999.
What the future holds no one can tell. As we enter another millennium of Carrigtwohill’s human habitation, guimid gach rath agus beannacht ar shliocht ár sleachta.