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Mac Carthaigh Riabhach

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Carbery in Tudor times

The Mac Cárthaigh Riabhach (anglicised MacCarthy Reagh) dynasty are a branch of the MacCarthy dynasty, Kings of Desmond, deriving from the Eóganacht Chaisil sept.



The Mhic Carthaigh Riabhach seated themselves as kings of Carbery in what is now southwestern County Cork in the 13th century.[1][2] Their primary allies in the initially small territory itself were O'Donovans,[1] and members of the Ui Chairpre; both were recent arrivals, gaining their lands from the O'Mahonys of Eóganacht Raithlind and the O'Driscolls of Corcu Loígde. The historical record for this period is very confused and a precise sequence of events cannot be reconstructed. A portion of Carbery was conquered around 1232 by Donal Gott MacCarthy, King of Desmond, from whom the dynasty descend. His son Donal Maol Mac Carthaigh, was the first ruler of the new principality. Their descendants would expand their territories considerably and forge a small, wealthy kingdom distinct and independent from the larger Kingdom of Desmond, as well as largely independent from the Earldom of Desmond and from England, which would last into the early-mid 17th century.

Fínghin Mac Carthaigh, the victor for Gaelic Desmond in the Battle of Callann and other campaigns, is considered to belong to the Mhic Carthaigh Riabhach, being a son of Donal Gott.[3] They were in frequent conflict with the line of the MacCarthy Mor, and the MacCarthys of Duhallow and Coshmaine, all of which were generally in conflict with the Fitzgeralds and FitzMaurices which comprised the lines of the Earl of Desmond and the Earl of Kildare, respectively.

The dynasty became very successful during the 14th to 16th centuries, accumulating great wealth and possessing what was at times the most formidable, although not the largest army in the Desmond region. MacCarthy Reagh princes such as Florence MacCarthy were highly active in the politics and wars of Munster. A later branch from Bansha, County Tipperary, descendants of Donal of the Pipes, would relocate to Toulouse in France and be created the Counts MacCarthy Reagh of Toulouse (Comtes de Mac-Carthy Reagh).[4][5] The renowned Jesuit preacher Nicholas Tuite MacCarthy was from this line. From another branch of the dynasty descended several more lines of counts and viscounts in France.

Florence MacCarthy was the compiler of Mac Carthaigh's Book,[6] and the Book of Lismore was commissioned by an earlier member of the dynasty.[7]

The controversial Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy is believed to have belonged to the MacCarthys Reagh.[8]

The line of the Mac Carthaigh Riabhach was not represented among the Gaelic nobility of Ireland granted courtesy recognition. In the wake of the MacCarthy Mór scandal there remains much controversy surrounding the reestablishment of titles used more than 400 years ago. However, it is possible that a legitimate successor as Chief of the Name of MacCarthy Reagh of Carbery may arise, and one that would be distinguished from their kin, the also prominent MacCarthys Mór and MacCarthys of Muskerry.

Princes of Carbery[9]Edit

MacCarthy Glas/DunaEdit

As patrilineal descendants of the 4th Prince, but not the 5th Prince, the MacCarthys of Dunmanway, belonging to the MacCarthy Glas[10][11][12] and MacCarthy Duna[13][14] septs, are not technically MacCarthys Reagh. However, most historians and genealogists refer to all descendants of Donal Gott as MacCarthys Reagh, and it is the case that, should the "senior line", descendants of the 5th Prince, fail, then the MacCarthys of Dunmanway would become the "new" Princes of Carbery.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Butler, "The Barony of Carbery"
  2. ^ MacCarthy Reagh of Carbery (O'Hart 1892)
  3. ^ a b Ó Murchadha 1961; 1996, p. 52
  4. ^ MacCarthy Reagh of Spring House (O'Hart 1892)
  5. ^ Famille MacCarthy Reagh at GeneaWiki (French)
  6. ^ Ó hInnse 1947
  7. ^ Duffy (ed.) 2005, pp. 279–80
  8. ^ Ó Murchadha 1996, pp. 53–4
  9. ^ Moody, Terry (2011). A New History of Ireland. A Companion to Irish History. Oxford University Press. p. 157.
  10. ^ Irish Pedigrees: MacCarthy Glas (O'Hart 1892)
  11. ^ Irish Pedigrees: MacCarthy Glas of England (O'Hart 1892)
  12. ^ Irish Pedigrees: MacCarthy Glas of Dunmanway (O'Hart 1892)
  13. ^ Irish Pedigrees: MacCarthy Duna, or MacCarthy Dooney (O'Hart 1892)
  14. ^ Irish Pedigrees: MacCarthy Duna of Ballyneadig and Lyradane (O'Hart 1892)
  15. ^ National Library of Ireland Genealogical Office Ms. 111f, fol. 125 'Copy of confirmation of arms to the descendants of John Leader MacCarthy and to his son, Francis Leader MacCarthy of Chessington, Salop., with mention of recorded descent from Donal Reagh MacCarthy "The MacCarthy Reagh" of Kilbrittain Castle, who died 1414; Sept. 17, 1937'
  16. ^ National Library of Ireland Genealogical Office Ms. 176, pp. 459-63 'Pedigree of MacCarthy, Kings of Desmond, MacCarthy Reagh, the Bernard MacCarthys and Leader MacCarthys 1045-1937'