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Magner History, Part 2

A second wide and shallow ford crossed the river at the Holy Well where roads from the outlying farms at Knockardsharrive Subalter and Coolavalleen converged and crossed to a narrow built-up causeway on the right bank. From the causeway, the road wound up by the east and north walls of the castle to the home Manor Farm and village by the Churchyard. On the left bank the ford was open for about 80 yards where the riverbank was leveled by the large herds of cattle sheep and horses that were a feature of the farming of the time. Upstream on the right bank under the castle, a low retaining wall held the reservoir that served the water elevator and behind it a series of fishponds progressed the farming of carp and other table fish. The stepping stones, which served from early Gaelic times, were part of a path or way connecting the Gaelic community in Munemanarrach with the Baile Beathaighs in Ballyhass, Ballyhuig, Subalter and Ballyhest.

During the English Wars of Succession, the great Norman Irish houses of Fitzgeralds and Butlers battled and vied for the over lordship of a virtually independent Ireland. Their warring activities were undertaken more less in defiance of the weak English government in Ireland and brought down widespread destruction and disorder in their own territories particularly in Munster. In AD 1482 the Magners somehow survived the holocaust of Morragh nan Doiteain O’Brien’s rampage into County Cork when he left Buttevant, Kilmaclenin and Mourne Abbey pillaged and in flames. The rivalry and raiding of the Barrys and the McCarthys added further to the plight of the countryside and the evident and lawless times persisted until AD 1496 when the process of indentures between the Earl of Kildare and the feuding chiefs brought some order and stability to the Province and to the Magnerstown district.

Henry Tudor emerged as final victor in the English wars in AD 1485 and initiated the Tutor policy to reduce Ireland to the status of an English province under the writ of English law. For the Barrys and the Magners, English Law had already run in their districts for more than 300 years. Lord Barry Mor’s land titles had been confirmed by King John for William Fitz Philip Barry in AD 1207 and were beyond the reach of the dreaded Discoverers. Despite the dominance of the English system, most of the Gaelic social and cultural characteristics of Lord Barry Mor’s districts were still preserved and successive Lords Barry Mor had displayed a stubborn capacity for easing or conveniently ignoring those aspects of repressive government enactment’s likely to unsettle their districts and their mainly Catholic and native Irish populaces. They were adept at presenting to the English administrators a façade of compliance and were able to subvert within themselves the application of the repressive provisions. In this process of protecting a common interest a symbiotic relationship developed between the Barrys, the Magners and the native people. The district was spared the excesses of confiscation and repression which occurred in other territories as the brutal campaign for the destruction of the Brehon Law system and the old Gaelic Order got under way.

Lord Barry Mor was a central figure in the management of the Reformation which was extended into Ireland in AD 1536. He was a principal officer in the St. Leger (Irish) Parliament of AD 1544 and was a signatory to the Indenture of AD 1542 by which the Gaelic and Hibernico-Norman chiefs of Munster accepted Henry VIII as ecclesiastical supreme head in Ireland and which denied the supremacy of Rome. The assets and lands of the majority of ecclesiastical centres in the Leinster Pale and in Munster were confiscated to the Crown. In AD 1539, the lands held by the Bishop of Cloyne in Subalter, Clonmeen and Kilmaclenin were seized to the Crown. Otherwise the staunchly Catholic Lord Barry Mor and his Magner followers were left to pursue the Old Faith as before.

In Subalter the 8 or so ploughlands (1200 acres) were bought from the Crown by Lord Barry and re-sold to the O"Callaghans of Clonmeen. The Magners had tenanted up to 750 acres of these lands since Templar times and their tenancy continued under the O’Callaghans until the Cromwellian Settlement of AD 1657. The former Templar Preceptory and demesne in Mourne Abbey was also seized and came into McCarthy Mona ownership. The Magners were long-standing tenants there in the townland of Ballyknockane which they lost to Captain John Brettridge in the Cromwellian Settlement. The Church land in Colnmeen were less than a ploughland and originated with a grant for St. Fursesy’s early Christian settlement. These lands were re-absorbed by the adjacent O’Callaghans demesne and the Magners lost their long-standing tenancy there as well. The Church lands in Kilmaclenin originated with a grant of 40 acres by Robert Barry in AD 1251 for the development of the monastic settlement of Kilmaclenin. Successive bequests and purchases extended the holding to about 600 acres with a castle or Tower House residence. The Magners were signatory witnesses to the original grant and were also tenants there from time to time. The entire estate was bought by Lord Barry for the Fitz Robert Barrys of Ballyclough whose estate it adjoined. To complete the fine estate, John McRobeson (Firzrobert) Barry built the castle or Tower House in Ballyclough in AD 1594. The estate of 1,500 acres was confiscated in the Cromwellian Settlement and Kilmaclenin with 694 acres was given to the English Cromwellian lawyer Sir John Broderick who was an associate of the influential Lord Broghill and later was family lawyer to the Earls of Kenmare.

With Lord Barry Mor secure in the new order, the Magners continued in their farming and trading interests in Magnerstown. The AD 1560 Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity provided a legal and political framework for the ascendancy of the Reformed Church in Ireland and allowed the banner and cloak of religious crusading for all causes. Over the next thirty years the Old English and the Gaelic chieftains alike were forced to desperately defend their possessions against corrupt officials such as Warham St. Leger, Walter Rayleigh and George Carew, who employed the legal trickery of Discovery and alleged Disaffection to dispossess the owners of desirable lands to the advantage of themselves and the Crown. The religious campaign of James Fitzmaurice and the pretensions of the incorrigible Desmonds added further to the troubles and for the first time the ordinary people of the countryside were targets for attack.

The action was never far from Magnerstown and Duhallow. The Earl of Desmond took Vicar O’Scullai from the monastery at Castlecor and killed him out of hand for not supporting the Desmond faction. The Earl also virtually wiped out the ruling families of the O’Keeffes for the same reason. The younger Barrys were quickly into the action and took many of their Magner followers to join Fitzmaurice’s eight-year campaign for Catholic restoration. In AD 1568, Sir Henry Sidney regained Buttevant Castle for Lord Barry and with the help of Donagh An Bhothair McDonagh McCarthy he made a road from Roskeen to Castleisland to subdue the north Kerry bases of the Desmonds. In the process he brought the McCarthy clans and their followers to the government side. Ten years later, Sir John Pelham and the Earl of Ormond made a road from Buttevant by Lisgriffin and Kilbrin to Kanturk on their way through Duhallow to finally crush the Fitzmaurice rebellion in AD 1579.

James Fitz Richard Barryroe succeeded his first cousin James Fitz John as Lord Barry Mor in AD 1568. His third son and heir was David Fitz James Barry whose loyalty to the Crown was recognized despite his rebellious father. David’s own son David Og was a well-known rebel leader but David had the confidence of Black Tom Butler the Earl of Ormonde and was able to secure some protection for the Barry interests. As Fitzmaurice’s campaign foundered, this Ormond connection secure pardons for the Barrys and Magners disillusioned with the subverted Catholic campaign. In AD 1577/79 David Gancagh (Wry-neck) Magner and his brother Ullig (Ulick) of Magnerstown, Edmund Magner of Temple Connelly, Edmund Magner of Aghada and a number of Magner mariners from Dungarvan and Waterford, all received the Queen’s pardon through Lord Barry. As the situation deteriorated further, by AD 1579/80 even the staunchly loyal James Lord Barry and the hard-headed Richard Magner of Castle Magner were in the rebellion. They were active in North and East Cork stoutly resisting the plantation of confiscated lands there and blocking the development of new Planter towns. The corrupt and incompetent Lord Grey de Wilton granted Barry’s castles in Shandor and in Barry’s Court to his favorite captain, the piratical Walter Rayleigh. Lord Barry burned both castles before Rayleigh could secure them and Ormond was able to block the spiteful charge of destroying government property brought against him. Following Ormonde’s appeal to the Queen, most of the leading Munster families submitted to the Crown and left the Rebellion. Richard Magner returned to his business in Magnerstown but the 87 year old Lord Barry was still contumacious and refused to submit to the corrupt English administration in Ireland. In AD 1580 he was imprisoned in Limerick and was later transferred to Dublin Castle where he died in May of the next year.

James Fitz Richard was succeeded as Lord Barry Mor by his son David who was about 55 years old in AD 1581. He was a staunch loyalist "who had long professed loyalty because it seemed on the winning side." His close personal friendship with the Earl of Ormond, a cousin and favorite of Queen Elizabeth, ensured that the Barry property lost in the Desmond rebellion was quietly restored. His sons David Og, John and James were in rebellion until the death of the Earl of Desmond in November AD 1583, at which time "there were as many Barrys as Desmonds in revolt." Although a principal officer of the Parliament in Dublin, on 9th September AD 1588 he and Richard Magner and 55 other Cork gentry were attained for "implication in the Desmond treason’s." Lord Barry was fined £500 (which he did not pay) and in turn he fined the various Magners and members of the Barry family nominal sums for their part in the rebellion. The real price was that all had to adopt the Protestant religion and in Lord Barry’s territories all the Churches were changed from Catholic to Protestant usage. Edmond Manger was vicar of the first Protestant parish of Castlemagner in AD 1591. Except for occasional visits from marauding warlords and their bands for cattle and corn, life for the Magners and their followers returned to some level of stability and went on largely as before.

Following the victory of Hugh O’Neill Earl of Tyrone at the battle of the Yellow Ford, Owen McRory O’More of Offaly was sent into Limerick with 700 men to bring the new (Sugan) Earl of Desmond into the Plantation Rebellion. Before noon on the 6th October AD 1598 "the country people rose to kill and plunder all around." In ten days most of the Protestant and English settlements in Munster were massacred and completely destroyed. The Earl of Ormonde, the Queen’s Lieutenant General was forced back to his castle in Kilkenny. Sir Thomas Norris with an army of 2,000 in Mallow, fled to Cork and abandoned most of County Cork to the rebels. Nobody with an English connection could remain in safety and for the first time in 400 years the Magners fled their homes. Robert Magner left his castle undefended with all its armaments, fittings, furniture and livestock. Lord Barry Mor held out at Castlelyons and Barry’s Court and got many of his tenants and neighbors to safety in Cork city. Most of the other Munster gentry had to come to terms with McRory who departed on the 16th of October leaving a subdued and devastated Munster in the control of the Sugan Earl of Desmond. For self protection, many of the more junior branches of the Magners and the Barrys joined the rebellion and as the Earl’s cause quickly failed through dissension, their predicament was recognized by Lord Barry Mor and their part in the rebellion was generally overlooked. There is a tradition that some of the Magners fled to Wales and stayed there and that others fled to Scotland from whence some returned to Limerick generations later. Others of this long-tailed family found refuge in France during this time. None were able to return to their homes in safety until the threat of pogrom implicit in the political doctrine of the dominant Northern Earls was removed.

Despite the failure and capture of the Sugan Earl of Desmond in October AD 1599, Munster generally was in the hands of the rebels until the disaster at Kinsale on 24 December AD 1601. During this time, the great Northern Earls O’Neill and O’Donnell campaigned in Munster. They treated many of the southern leaders very badly and ravaged much of their lands. Consequently, the McCarthys, O’Briens Thomond, Clanrickarde Burke, Lord Barry Mor and many others of the southern leaders were on the English side at Kinsale. In the aftermath, as the rebellion was broken and the English settlement re-established, Lord Barry’s territories were spared the terrible vengeance of the English armies. The fugitive families returned to their former homes and a reconstruction of the life of the countryside got under way.

When the Magners finally returned to their homes in Castle Magner, they found the castle stripped and burnt and no longer usable as a family residence. Robert Magner and his son William built a new two-story house in the protected NE corner of the castle yard. The remains of this house show more style and better workmanship than the earlier castle. The large cut stone windows in the north and east walls overlooking the idyllic river and woodland scene below, give a flavor of its Elizabethan elegance. A formal cut stone portico in the new Palladian style was a mark of the Magners cultural appreciation and their continental connections. Its similarity to the work on McDonagh’s new castle at Kanturk may also suggest a common contemporaneous design or builder. An inner Court formed by 10ft walls from the basement of the Stockade to the east and north enclosure walls gave a private protected area to the front of the house. A postern gate with a bridle path leading to the church was set towards the NW corner of the north wall. The Castle was also repaired for a Watch Tower and outhouse accommodation.

The Mill on the Motte, which was damaged or destroyed in the recent disorders, was replaced by a more modern and more efficient engine. Some 40 yards west, the river was diverted into the side of the stub of the Motte and a new leat and tailrace was cut into the bank of the Bailey. This new mill had an 8ft vertical external streamwheel with metal bearings and driving gear with sprockets of beechwood on the pit and wallower to reduce the risk of fire. This mill did not survive the Great Irish Rebellion AD 1641-52, although one of its buhrstone querns was on the site until recently. The Protestant Church was also restored and the parish was reestablished with Kilbrin and Subalter. The rectorship was inappropriate to major General Sir John Jepson in AD 1610 and the Rev. Emmanuel Phayre was curate there in AD 1615. In the Great Irish Rebellion his son Robert was a Troop Captain with Lord Inchequin and as Colonel Robert Phayre he later commanded the Pike Guard at the execution of Charles I. Robert was the founder of the Parliament’s Regiment of Kent and was a particularly brutal Cromwellian governor of Cork city. After the Restoration of the English Monarchy he married as his second wife the daughter of the executed king’s personal attendant. He was knighted by Charles II and died in AD 1705 aged over 90. A descendant named William Phaire had land in Pallas near Roskeen in AD 1830.

In May AD 1618, through Thomas Fitzmaurice 18th Lord Kerry, William Magner was granted Royal title for an extensive estate. The grant included the 772 acres of the Castlemagner demesne and a further 900 acres in Kilbrin and Liscarrol. Magner paid Lord Barry Mor £9.50 per hundred acres for the demesne lands. This gave the Magners ownership of lands they had occupied as chief tenants of the Barrys and others, since Norman times. Sir Philip Perseval, newly arrived in the district as a leading mortgagor claimed to have some of the land in East Drinagh under mortgage and disputed the legality of the grant. However, following the death of William Magner a Royal Inquisition in September AD 1626 confirmed the title for William’s son Robert Magner Junior. In the event, the disputed land was already sold to Edmond Rochs from who it was eventually confiscated in Cromwellian Settlement. With the advice and support of the Earl of Cork, the Magners introduced flaxgrowing on their lands and put up a Tuck Mill near the present Bannagh bridge to process the flax to linen weave. All traces of this Mill were removed when the stone was taken for the foundations of Bannagh Creamery.

Davis Fitz James Barry died in AD 1617 and was succeeded by his 12-year old grandson David Fitz David Og Barry. The new Lord Barry Mor was the posthumous son of the rebellious David Og and Grainne McCarthy Reagh daughter of Owen of the Parliaments. He was reared a strict Protestant by his grandparents the Lombards of Buttevant and was married when aged 16 to Alice Boyle, eldest daughter of the Earl of Cork. He was created Earl Barrymore in AD 1627 for services in Scotland for the Anglo-Scottish James I. Much of his estate in Buttevant and Liscarrol was already mortgaged to Sir Philip Perseval by his Grand Uncle John Fitz James Barry. In the Great British Rebellion Earl Barrymore was Parliament’s co-president of Munster with Lord Inchequin and was on the Confederation with great ferocity and incurred the odium of the people of his own districts for his brutal treatment of those he considered his opponents.

Most of the other members of the Barry families were on the Confederate and Catholic side. Garret Og Barry was an 80-year old veteran of the Spanish Wars and returned to take command of a Confederate army group of about 1,000 all ranks in Kinsdale. In August AD 1642 he was persuaded to challenge the marsuading army of Lord Inchequin and attacked the castle of Liscarrol. Lewis Boyle Lord Kinelmeaky, brother-in-law of Earl Barrymore was killed there in a bold defensive action as the fortress fell to Garret Og. However the aged and dilatory Garret Og delayed in consolidating his position and a few weeks later in September AD 1642 Inchequin re-captured the castle and routed Garret Og’s army in a counter-attack as the Confederates fell to looting Inchequin’s baggage. Earl Barrymore was fatally wounded in the corner-charge and he died a dew days later. His widow married his Uncle John Barry of Liscarrol and her Boyle connection secured the Barrys and their followers in Orrery for the time being.

However, the long line of Lords Barry Mor was irrevocably broken and for the first time in around 460-years the Magners found themselves without Lord Barry Mor protection and political influence. They managed to keep clear of the subsequent conflict but their lands were preyed upon for cattle, fodder and grain. The treacherous John Boyle, cousin of Lord Broghill and Town Governor of Mallow, made frequent raids into the Magner lands to feed the Confederate, Royalist, and Parliament camps as they variously held his allegiance. Disputes over ownership of mortgaged lands brought the Magners into conflict with Sir Philip Perseval.

In Liskelly near Liscarrol the Magners disarmed Perseval’s guard and took the corn off the land. They told Perseval that he would never again get Liskelly. At a hearing in Mallow in AD 1644, Lord Inchequin decided the issue in favor of Perseval. However, his claim was later repudiated by the Cromwelliam Commissioners and the land was given to their own supporters Richard Nagle and Thomas Coppinger.

In August AD 1649 Oliver Cromwell the Lord Lieutenant General of the Parliament’s Army landed in Dublin for the final conquest and English settlement of Ireland. Eoghan Rua O’Neill with Inchequin frustrated his progression through the southeast of the country but where out-numbered and finally unable to halt the conquest. In December Cromwell was wintering in Cork City and his cavalry regiment was quartered in the Blackwater valley between Fermoy and Banteer. In January AD 1650 he moved out towards the Limerick border and crossed the unbridged Blackwater at Mallow. There he broke his march to visit his friend Major General Sir William Jephson. Richard Magner of Castle Magner complained to Cromwell that Jephson and his henchman Boyle had contravened Cromwell’s own edict on the treatment of the local people and Cromwell visited Magner in "Castletown Magner" to examine the claims.

When the business was concluded, apparently in favor of Magner, Cromwell and his party were shown over the pretty and well-kept estate. In the churchyard Cromwell inquired as to who was buried there. Magner explained that they were the graves of his own father, his grandfather and his grand uncles. As was his habit, Cromwell fell to moralizing and remarked that although they were able men in their day, he was now walking over them. Magner took the remark as an insult to his family and retorted "it is easy for living dogs to walk over dead lions.!" The testy Lord Lieutenant General was affronted and Magner was to pay dear for his lack of tact. Cromwell went on to take Kilkenny and Clonmel and it was clear that his campaign would soon end in total conquest. Richard Magner visited him in Clonmel to petition for appointment as agent for Orrery & Kilmore. Cromwell gave Magner a sealed letter purporting to confirm to Colonel Phayre in Cork City that Magner was his appointed agent. His previous dealings with Cromwell made Magner suspicious of the friendly reception he got and he opened the letter as soon as he could. The letter bore the singular legend "Hang the Bearer" over Cromwell’s signature. Magner knew that his case and his lands were lost and for spite gave the letter to the despised John Boyle in Mallow to deliver it on to Cork. Colonel Phayre knew Boyle and delayed hanging him until a furious Cromwell could clarify the order. Early in AD 1651 Magner eluded Cromwell’s agents and with the Magner mariners he crossed to Burgundy in France where his family were already in business. With the fall of Ross castle in June AD 1652 the war effectively ended and the Cromwelliam Settlement began. The landowners were the main target, but in areas of good land the tenants and laborers were also displaced to make room for an inflow of English settlers.

The original Magner estate of almost 1800 acres was greatly reduced by AD 1641. The main holdings by then were 772 acres of demesne with the castle and 208 acres at Rossanarna. Robert Magner Jr. had inherited the estate in AD 1626 and he was still the registered owner in AD 1641. He died in winter of AD 1642 and Richard, apparently a younger brother, had the estate in AD 1647. Because legal matters transacted during the Rebellion were deemed invalid. Robert was cited as the Forfeited Proprietor in AD 1654 although he was then dead for more than 12-years. The Magners resisted the unjust confiscation as best they could. Their only good defense was to prove that Robert Jr. was not actually in the Rebellion. Robert was unmarried and in poor health up to the time of his death at the age of about 35. He was a most unlikely rebel particularly in view of the family’s long association with the Lords Barry Mor. Unfortunately, for the Magners Earl Barrymore, effectively the last Lord Barry Mor, was also long dead when the estate was seized and his influence for good or ill no longer pertained. Lord Broghill, who lost a brother at Kiscarrol and who knew himself Lucky to have escaped with his life from the battle of Dromagh, was particularly thorough in ensuring that even the relatives of disaffected persons from the general district were harshly and summarily dealt with. His ruling that failure to fully support the Parliament cause amounted to disaffection was a net from which the heirs of Robert Magner Jr. could not hope to escape. Following an Inquisition at Cork in October AD 1657, the forfeiture was upheld and the Magners were finally forced out of Castlemagner.

Some of the Magners followed Richard to France, but the Court of Qualifications at Mallow in August AD 1656, allowed others to take tenancies in Barrymore and Muskerry. John Magner transplanted to 40 acres in Bunratty in County Clare and a Edmund Magner of Lisduggan and Aghada transplanted to 280 acres inn Kiltartan near Gor4t in County Galway. Another Robert Magner, possibly a nephew of Robert of the Castle lost a holding of 80 acres in what is now Raheen.

Initially the Castle and 63 acres was granted to Captain Roger Bretridge a West Country man whose family had been planters on the Brooke estate in Donegal. Hl had an attachment with Knocknanuss and seems to have been in the battle there in some regiment of Horse. In the Cromwellian war he was the Lord Fenton’s Troop of Broghill’s own regiment and most of the Magner lands went to men who served in that Troop. He sold Knockardsharrive, Coolavalleen and Clooneens near Roskeen to a merchant in Cork named Stepney, apparently to finance further purchases. From other members of his Troop he bought lands to give him ownership of the castle and demesne estate and a further almost 2,000 acres scattered by the lottery allocation system as far as Liscarrol and Mourne Abbey. When he arrived in Castle Magner in AD 1658 his sole accompanying family was an unmarried daughter. Magner’s house there was in ruins and Brettridge commenced building a fine mansion on his new lands at Ballyheen, where Sherlock’s house now is, overlooking the main battlefield of Knocknanuss. From the old military road through Corbally he laid out an impressive drive which can still be traced to the Ballyheen Piers. Only those entrance piers were built when his daughter eloped with an English soldier and, apparently because he now lacked a direct heir, he abandoned the grand design. His great grandson Edward Badham Thronhill was to build Rockfield House on the site around AD 1770, but neither Edward nor his descendants ever lived there.

The now solitary Bretridge next turned to the castle and built a new two-story house there. This building ran N-S from the N-E corner of the enclosure walls and took in the east wing of Manger’s house which gave a cellar or dungeon with a small barred window at the base of the west wall of the new house. On the north and east sides, large windows typical of the Cromwellian period gave a precipitous view over the picturesque river and glen below. The walls on the west and south sides facing into the castle yard were blank to provide security and privacy. The entrance door was in the west wall towards the southwest corner and was fitted with the cut stone portico of Magner’s house.

CONTINUES to Part 3:

Home History Family Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Poems

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