Donogh O'Brien, 4th Earl of Thomond

Donogh O'Brien,[a] 4th Earl of Thomond and Baron Ibrickan, (died 1624) was a Protestant Irish nobleman and soldier. He fought for Queen Elizabeth during Tyrone's Rebellion and participated at the Siege of Kinsale. His long-term objective, achieved after decades, was to obtain an official acknowledgment that County Clare, where his possessions were situated, was part of the Province of Munster, to free it from the jurisdiction of the Connaught government under which it had been placed.

Donogh O'Brien
Earl of Thomond
Donogh O'Brien, 4th Earl of Thomond.jpg
PredecessorConor, 3rd Earl
SuccessorHenry, 5th Earl
Died5 September 1624
  • 1. Helen Roche
  • 2. Elizabeth FitzGerald
Henry, Barnabas, & others
FatherConor, 3rd Earl of Thomond
MotherUna O'Brien

Birth and originsEdit

Donogh was born in the 1560s.[b] He was the eldest son of Conor O'Brien, and his second wife, Una. His father was the 3rd Earl of Thomond. His father's first wife, Ellen or Eveleen, daughter of Donald MacCormac MacCarthy Mor and widow of James FitzJohn FitzGerald, 13th Earl of Desmond, had died in 1560.[2]

Donogh's mother was a daughter of Turlough O'Brian of Arragh, County Tipperary.[4][5] His father's like his mother's family were branches of the O'Briens, an important Gaelic Irish dynasty, that descended from Brian Boru, medieval high king of Ireland.[6] His parents married in or after 1560 as his father's first wife died in that year.[2]

Family tree
Donogh O'Brien with his two wives, his parents, and other selected relatives.[c]
2nd Earl

d. 1553

d. 1597
6th Viscount

d. 1600
3rd Earl

c. 1535 – 1581[11]

d. 1589
11th Earl


d. 1583
4th Earl
d. 1624

d. 1617
1st Viscount

d. 1641
5th Earl

c. 1588 – 1639
6th Earl

c. 1590 – 1657
1st Earl


7th Earl

XXXSubject of
the article
XXXEarls of
XXXViscounts Muskerry
& Earls of Clancarty

Early lifeEdit

O'Brien was brought up at Elizabeth's court[13] and therefore became a Protestant. He was mentioned as Baron Ibrickan in the patent granted to his father on 7 October 1577.[1][3] On his father's death in 1581 he succeeded as 4th Earl of Thomond.[11] By 1582 Thomond, as he now was, had returned to Ireland.[14]

Marriages and childrenEdit

Thomond married twice.

First marriage and daughterEdit

He married, first, Ellen, or Any, or Eveleen, daughter of Maurice Roche, 6th Viscount Fermoy.[15]

Donogh and Ellen had one daughter:

His first wife died in 1583.[18]

Second marriage and childrenEdit

Thomond married secondly Elizabeth, fourth daughter of Gerald FitzGerald, 11th Earl of Kildare and his wife Mabel Brown.

Donogh and Elizabeth had two sons:

  1. Henry (1588–1639), succeeded his father as the 5th Earl of Thomond and married Mary Brereton in 1608 but died without male issue in 1639[19]
  2. Barnabas (died 1657), succeeded his brother as the 6th Earl of Thomond

His second wife died on 12 January 1617.

Thomond was assiduous in his attendance upon the lord-deputy in 1583 and 1584. In 1584 he was one of the commissioners who established the agreement that tanistry and the law of partible succession should be abolished in Connaught, and a tax of ten shillings a quarter be paid on land.

House of Lords 1585–1586Edit

He attended the Irish parliament 1585–1586 where he quarrelled with Ulick Burke, 3rd Earl of Clanricarde over precedence.[20]

In 1589 he was active in subduing rebellious Irish in the mountains.

Tyrone's RebellionEdit

in 1595 Tyrone's rebellion, also called the Nine Years' War, broke out. Thomond played a major part in its suppression. In command of a large force, he passed the River Erne in July and invaded Hugh Roe O'Donnell's country, but retreated in August when a truce was signed. In September he was detached by Sir William Russell, Lord Deputy of Ireland since 16 May 1594, with five companies of foot and 145 horse, for the defence of Newry. Russel was succeeded in March 1597 as lord deputy by Thomas Burgh, 5th Baron Borough and Thomond served in 1597 in his campaign, but early next year went to England, arriving in London on 19 January 1598; where he stayed most of the year at Queen Elizabeth's court.[21]

He therefore was absent at the Battle of Yellow Ford in August 1698,[22] where Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone defeated and mortally wounded Sir Henry Bagenal, marshal of the Royal Irish Army. The defeat was followed by the spread of disaffection into Thomond's country. Teige O'Brien, Thomond's next brother, entered into communication with Tyrone's son, and joined the rebels. This left the defence of the land in the hands of the youngest brother Daniel. In 1599 O'Donnell invaded Clare, ravaging the country, capturing most of the castles, and taking Daniel prisoner.[23] Thomond's second brother, Teige, was long imprisoned in Limerick on account of his rebellion, but was released on protesting his loyalty; after another imprisonment he joined in Hugh Roe O'Donnell's second invasion of Clare in 1599, and was killed during Thomond's pursuit of the rebels.

Thomond returned from England, and after spending three months with his kinsman, the Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond, in collecting forces, he invaded Clare to revenge his brother's imprisonment and recover his possessions. He procured ordnance from Limerick, and laid siege to the castles that resisted, capturing them after a few days' fighting; at Dunbeg, which surrendered immediately, he hanged the garrison in couples on trees. The invaders were completely driven out of Clare and the neighbouring country, and the loyalists had their strongholds restored to them. During the rest of 1599 Thomond accompanied Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex on his progress through Munster, but left him at Dungarvan and returned to Limerick, being appointed governor of Clare on 15 August, and made a member of the privy council on 22 September.[24]

During 1600 Thomond was constantly occupied in the war. In April he, Sir George Carew, and Ormond attended a parly with Owen McRory O'More, the son of Rory O'More. A quarrel broke out. He and Carew narrowly escaped capture while Ormond was taken captive.[25] Thomond saved Carew's life and cut a way for both of them through their enemies, though he was wounded.[26]

He was present at an encounter with Florence MacCarthy Reagh, and assisted at his submission in May. In June he was commanding in Clare and opposing O'Donnell's raids. He entertained the lord-deputy at Bunratty and marched out to oppose Tyrone's progress southwards, but no battle was fought, and Tyrone returned without having even seen an enemy. Next year, after holding an assize at Limerick in February, at which sixteen men were hanged, Thomond again went to England, probably with the object of obtaining the governorship of Connaught and of securing the union of Clare with Munster. He delayed there, then set out by Bristol, and, landing at Castlehaven on 11 November 1601, proceeded to Kinsale, where he took a prominent part in the siege. After the surrender of Kinsale he proceeded through Munster, established himself in Bere Island. He was in command at the siege of Dunboy, and hanged fifty-eight of the survivors.[27]

Until June 1602 Thomond was constantly with the army. He then again visited England, and, as a recompense for his services, his request for the transfer of Clare was granted, though the lord-deputy and privy council of Ireland were opposed to the measure. He returned in October. On 30 July 1604 he was appointed constable of Carlow, and on 6 May 1605 he became President of Munster.

Parliament of 1613–1615Edit

In 1613 Thomond attended the House of Lords of the Irish Parliament of 1613–1615. He strongly upheld the Protestant party in its opposition to the recusants in the disputes about the election of the speaker of the House of Commons.

Late lifeEdit

On 17 May 1619 he was reappointed governor of Clare. He became one of the sureties for Florence MacCarthy Reagh, who had been imprisoned since his surrender in 1600, and who dedicated to Thomond his work on the antiquity and history of Ireland.

Death and timelineEdit

He died on 5 September 1624, at Clonmel, and was buried in Limerick Cathedral, where a monument with inscription was erected to his memory.[28]

Pollard concludes that he was one of the most influential and vigorous of the Irish loyalists; and, though his devotion and motives were sometimes suspected, Carew wrote that "his services hath proceeded out of a true nobleness of mind and from no great encouragement received" from the court.[29]

Notes, citations, and sourcesEdit


  1. ^ His first name is also spelled "Donough".[1]
  2. ^ Donogh's birth date is bracketed by the death of his father's first wife in 1560[2] and his first mention in 1577.[3]
  3. ^ This family tree is based on genealogies of the earls of Thomond.[7][8] and the earls of Clancarty.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b Cunningham 2009, 2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence. "Donough was created baron of Ibrackan, a move perhaps designed to signal his right of succession to the earldom."
  2. ^ a b c Dunlop 1895, p. 310, left column. "Conor O'Brien married first Ellen or Eveleen, daughter of Donald MacCormac MacCarthy Mór and widow of James fitzjohn FitzGerald, fourteenth earl of Desmond. She died in 1560 and was buried in Muckross Abbey;"
  3. ^ a b Pollard 1895, p. 313, left column, line 2. "There (London) he was residing in 1577, when he was mentioned as Baron of Ibrickan in the new patent granted on 7 October to his father."
  4. ^ Cokayne 1896, p. 391, line 42. "He [Conor] m. secondly Una, or Ownye, da. of Turlogh O'Brien, of Arragh, co. Tipperary."
  5. ^ Cokayne 1896, p. 392, line 11. "1st s. and h. by second wife ..."
  6. ^ Cokayne 1896, p. 391, Note b. "They [the O'Briens] were descended from the celebrated Brien Boroihme, principal king of Ireland (1002–1004) through his grandson Turlogh ..."
  7. ^ Burke 1866, pp. 405–406Genealogy of the earls of Thomond
  8. ^ Cokayne 1896, pp. 391–395Genealogy of the earls of Thomond
  9. ^ Burke 1866, p. 344Genealogy of the earls of Clancarty
  10. ^ Cokayne 1913, pp. 214–217Genealogy of the earls of Clancarty
  11. ^ a b c McGurk 2004, p. 360, right column. "O'Brien succeeded his father as fourth earl of Thomond in 1581 ..."
  12. ^ Burke 1866, p. 406, left column. "Teige, of Dromore, who m. [married] 1st Siana, dau. [daughter] of Teige McMorough; and 2ndly Joan dau. of Sir Dermot Shaughnessy and relict of Sir William Bourke, Knt."
  13. ^ McGurk 2004, p. 360, right column, line 32. "He was educated at Elizabeth's court and described as 'as truly English as if he had been born in Middlesex.'. "
  14. ^ Pollard 1895, p. 313, left column, line 6. "... by 1582 he [Donough O'Brien] had returned to Ireland."
  15. ^ Cokayne 1896, p. 392, line 5. "He [Donogh] m. [married] firstly Helen or Any, da. [daughter] of Maurice (Roche) Viscount Roche of Fermoy [I. [Ireland] ] (who d. [died] 1600) but by which of his two wives is uncertain. She d. s.p.m. [without male issue]."
  16. ^ Pollard 1895, p. 314, left column, line . "... by her he had one daughter, married to Cormac, son and heir of Lord Muskerry."
  17. ^ Burke 1866, p. 406, left column, line 61. "[Donough] m. 1st Ellen dau. [daughter] of Maurice, Lord Viscount Roche, of Fermoy, and had a dau., Margaret, m. to Charles MacCarthy, 1st Lord Viscount Muskerry."
  18. ^ Cunningham 2009, 6th paragraph, 1st sentence. "Donough O'Brien first married Ellen (Eveleen) Roche (d. 1583), daughter of Maurice Roche, Viscount Fermoy;"
  19. ^ O'Donoghue 1860, p. 258. "Henry, earl of Thomond, the fifth of that title, dying without male issue, was succeeded by Sir Barnabas, his brother."
  20. ^ Cunningham 2009, 2nd paragraph, 6th sentence. "He was a member of parliament convened in 1585 in Dublin, where he became involved in a dispute over precedence with Ulick Burke, third earl of Clanrickarde."
  21. ^ Pollard 1895, p. 313, left column, line 38. "... arriving in London on 19 January 1598; there he remained most of the year as a courtier."
  22. ^ a b Hayes-McCoy 1976, p. 124. "The earl, O'Donnell, and Maguire attacked Bagenal on the march at the Yellow Ford, between Armagh and the Blackwater, on 14 August [1598], and defeated him ... "
  23. ^ Pollard 1895, p. 313, left column, line 46. "In 1599 O'Donnell invaded Clare, ravaging the country, capturing most of the castles, and making a prisoner of Thomond's youngest brother, Daniel O'Brien, afterwards first Viscount Clare, who had been left to defend it."
  24. ^ Pollard 1895, p. 313, right column, line 8. "... made a member of the privy council on 22 September."
  25. ^ Edwards 2009, last paragraph, 2nd sentence. "... in April 1600, seeking to parley with O'More rebels on the Kilkenny/Laois frontier, he [Ormond] was tricked and taken hostage."
  26. ^ McGurk 2004, p. 361, left column. "In April while in a parley with Owen McRory O'More, which ended in a mêlée, he and Carew narrowly escaped capture&nbsp..."
  27. ^ Pollard 1895, p. 313, right column, line 41. "... was in command at the siege of Dunboy, and hanged fifty-eight of the survivors."
  28. ^ Pollard, xli, pp. 313, 314
  29. ^ Pollard, xli, p. 314
  30. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, p. 168, line 32. "1594, 16 May / 11 Aug / William Russell, L.D. [Lord Deputy]"
  31. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, p. 168, line33 . "1597, 5 Mar /22 May / Thomas, lord Burgh, L.D. [Lord Deputy]"
  32. ^ Joyce 1903, p. 172. "On the 23d of September, 1601, a Spanish fleet entered the harbour of Kinsale with 3,400 troops ... "
  33. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, p. 44, line 1. "James I ... acc. 24 Mar. 1603 ..."


Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by Earl of Thomond
Succeeded by
Baron Ibrickane
(descended by acceleration)