Baron Athenry is one of the oldest titles in the Peerage of Ireland, but the date of its creation is thoroughly uncertain; each of the first four Berminghams listed below is claimed by some writers to have been Lord Athenry, but the evidence is disputed.[1] The title appears to have been given to the de Birmingham family of Birmingham, Warks, England as a reward for their help in the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1172. Both Sir William de Birmingham, and his son Robert de Birmingham, are variously claimed to have been involved in the invasion,[1] but it is probable that, after the invasion, William returned to his home in England and left Robert their new lands in Ireland.

Arms of Bermingham, Earls of Louth and Barons Athenry

Peter Bermingham was fined for not attending Parliament in 1284, and is enrolled as Lord Athenry in the Parliament of 1295. The title Earl of Louth was created in 1319 as a reward to John de Bermingham for his victory over Edward de Bruce in the Battle of Faughart in 1318.

The last Baron was created Earl of Louth in the Peerage of Ireland in 1749, but died in 1799. Since he had three daughters, the Earldom of Louth became extinct at his death; the Barony of Athenry became dormant. Part of the problem has been whether the Barony properly can descend through the female line, in which case it is in abeyance between the heirs of his daughters; or whether it passes through the male line. A descendant of the younger brother of the Richard, Lord Athenry, who died in 1645, claimed the Barony as heir male in 1827, and Thomas Denman, the Attorney General for England and Wales, agreed that he was heir male, but he was not recognized by the House of Lords. A claim by Thomas Sewell, son of the Earl of Louth's eldest daughter Elizabeth, failed on the ground that the title did not pass in the female line.

Barons Athenry (1172)


The numbering follows the second edition of the Complete Peerage, Volume 1, pages 290ff.

Earl of Louth; First creation (1319)


Earl of Louth; Second creation (1749)


See also



  1. ^ a b John Lodge (1789). The Peerage of Ireland: Or, A Genealogical History of the Present Nobility of that Kingdom. J. Moore. p. 31.
  • Complete Peerage, sub "Athenry".
  • Bermingham: Origins and History of the Family Name – 1060 to 1830, Douglas P. Bermingham, Kildare. 2012.