The Story of Kilbarron Castle Part 6

In the Ulster Plantation the Abbey Assaroe lands north of the Erne were granted to Sir Francis Gofton who later sold these to Sir Henry Ffolliott. The O’Clery lands were divided between Trinity College and the Established Bishop of Raphoe. In compensation Lughaidh O’Clery was given a freehold for his life in Glenswilly shared with eleven other individuals dispossessed of their lands in the barony of Tirhugh.

Later in 1613, four hundred of the six hundred acres belonging to the Diocese of Raphoe in the parish of Kilbarron were leased by the Anglican Bishop Knox to Francis Bracey for thirty years, the remaining 200 acres comprising of the townland of Kildoney became the glebe land for the parish. It is not known for certain if Francis Bracey ever lived in Kilbarron Castle but he probably did as it would have been one of the few stone structures on the leasehold.

Bishop Andrew Knox Anglican  Bishop of Raphoe

As for the former owner, it is believed that Lughaidh Uí Cléirigh (now listed as Lewis O’Clery in documents of the period) died before 1623 but quite likely before then, as both Lewis and Sean were no longer listed as living in Glenswilly in the barony Kilmacrennan in 1619 according to Pynnar’s Survey of that year. As their portion of the 960 acres (shared between eleven other people) was a freehold for Lewis’s life only, it reverted to the Crown and was subsequently granted to Sir Ralph Gore.

Francis Bracey or Brassy leased the Kilbarron lands from the Bishop of Raphoe, Andrew Knox in 1613, holding a lease for thirty years. Francis Bracey came from England possibly from Worcestershire where incidentally Henry Ffolliott family seat, Pirton Hall was situated. It is not known if he lived in Kilbarron Castle or was it already abandoned by this time.

Those listed as sharing the 960 acres in Glenswilly

In 1641 rebellion broke out across Ulster, an abortive attempt was made to seize Ballyshannon in October of that year but it was relieved by Sir Frederick Hamilton of Manorhamilton who defeated the insurgents and took prisoners which were later hanged in the Manorhamilton Castle including one Donnell O’Clery.

Manorhamilton Castle

South Donegal remained largely in government control during the next ten years although in the shifting sands of loyalties it was Royalist first and later gave support the Parliamentary  forces under Oliver Cromwell. In the aftermath of the Parliamentary victor a survey was ordered and carried out between 1652 and 1655 where all land and property was assessed with the view to seizing from both former Royalist supporters of the executed King Charles I and the supporters of the Confederate Parliament in Kilkenny. The Kilbarron lands were assessed as being the property of The Bishop of Raphoe, a prominent royalist, Bishop Leslie and one of the leaders of the Laagan army. The survey shows that Kilbarron is a ruin described in the survey map as “the ruins of a stone house”

Map Courtesy of the Downs Survey Trinity College showing the Cromwellian confiscations of 1654.
Close up of above map showing “The ruins of a stone House”

The Bishop’s lands were forfeited over the period of Parliamentary rule but were returned to the diocese of Raphoe when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660.

The Story of Kilbarron Castle Part 5

In the aftermath of the defeat of the Ulster chieftains and their allies at the Battle of Kinsale in December 1601 , most returned northward and retreated into their home territories There they fought on for some time until they realised that there was no aid coming from Spain. Many lesser chiefs had already sued for peace by the time Hugh O’Neill met Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, at Mellifont Abbey, the home of Garret Moore, for surrender terms in the spring of 1603.

Melliifont Abbey, Co Louth

Unexpectedly the terms given seemed very generous but they had not realised that Queen Elizabeth I had died some days previous and Lord Mountjoy was anxious to make peace before King James the VI of Scotland succeeded to the English throne as James I and might have made even more generous terms with the Gaelic Chieftains, after all he had aided them overtly in their rebellion against the English.

The main leaders Hugh O’Neill and Rory O’Donnell  were restored in their English titles as the Earl of Tyrone and the Earl of Tyrconnell respectively. Other minor chieftains were also confirmed in their titles but not restored to all their lands.  Initially all Monasteries in Ulster were dissolved and  the monastic lands were forfeited to the crown. The lucrative Cistercian Abbey Assaroe lands in south Tyrconnell near Áth Seannaigh (Ballyshannon) were offered for sale and Rory O’Donnell tried to acquire these but neither he or the Earl of Tyrone were fully trusted by the English officials. This became more acute when Charles Blount returned to England in 1605 and was replaced by Arthur Chichester whose own brother, the governor of Carrickfergus had been murdered by the McDonnells of the Glens of Antrim during the Nine Years War.  He felt that many the officers of the army had not been compensated for their service during the war, whilst the former rebels had got off lightly.

In 1607 Lughaidh Uí Cléirigh, Ollamh to the Ui Domhnaills was summoned to the inquisition at “Liffer” (Lifford). Lewis O’Clery along with eleven other jurors were selected from the Gaelic nobility to act in judgement of the recent departure of Rory O’Donnell, his immediate family and followers who left Rathmullen along with the Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O’Neill and Cú Connacht Maguire Lord of Fermanagh and  others .

The findings of the court were somewhat of a foregone conclusion and the Earl was dispossessed of his lands and property. Similar inquisitions were held throughout Ulster resulting in the same conclusions and opening the way for the colonisation of Counties; Donegal, Coleraine, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh and Cavan in Ulster and Leitrim in Connacht which became known as the Plantation of Ulster.

In Co Donegal the lands belonging to Niall Garbh O’Donnell in the barony of Raphoe and those of Sir Cahir O’Doherty in the two baronies of Inishowen also became available after Cahir O’Doherty’s revolt and subsequent suppression in 1608.

A further inquisition was held in Lifford in August 1608 with Sir Arthur Chichester, Lord Deputy and Sir John Davies, Attorney General and chief architect of the project  in attendance. The freeholders of the county, including Lewis O’Clery. listed their properties and dues.

“Herenaghs- the sept of the Cleries or freeholds

Kilbarron Parish in the said Barony contains 5 qrs. One of which is herenagh land possessed by the sept of the Cleries as herenagh who pay yearly to the Bishop of Raphoe13s 4d rent. 6 meathers of butter and 34 of meal, one qr. named Kildonnel(Kildoney?) in possession of the said sept is wholly free from tithes to the bishop, the late abbot of Asheroe was parson and vicar of the said parish in right of his house and received 2/3 of the house in kind, the remainder being payed to the bishop, the church being maintained by both according to the same proportion.

beatha Aodh Ruaidh O’Donnell

The Barony of Tirhugh in south Donegal, the mensal lands of the O’Donnells, became an area reserved for Government use. The former Assaroe monastic lands were divided between Sir Henry Ffolliott, Governor of Ballyshanny Castle who was granted the monastic lands south of the River Erne on condition he kept fifty horsemen and maintained the Castles at Ballyshanny, Bundrowes and Belleeke (the latter castle was possibly on the hill where the later Battery fort was built in the 1790s). The monastic lands north of the Erne were granted to Sir Ffrancis Gofton royal auditor and colleague of Sir John Davies (he later sold his grant to Sir Henry Ffolliott) 

For a time Lewis O’Clery was left in possession of Kilbarron, and may have written the Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Ui Dhomhnaill, the Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell whilst still living there but all was to change…………….