Origin of the sept name McCartan

Most of Ireland's septs received their names in the eleventh century.  Brian Boru[1], the then High King, proclaimed that all of Ireland's 150 septs, with territorial claims, be formally identified with a discernible name.  Most septs chose the names of noteworthy ancestors.  The McCartans picked Artán who died in 1004[2].  The McCartan surname is therefore derived from the Gaelic, Mac Artán, which translates 'descendant of Artán'.

Patrimony of the McCartans

Before the Middle Ages the McCartans controlled an area which encompasses the present baronies of Kinelarty, Dufferin and part of Castlereagh[3].  Neighbouring Iveagh also came under their control for short periods.  During the sixteenth century, colonists encroached on portions of these lands.  In 1600 the McCartans were still prominent, and in control of mid-Down.  Their strongholds were at Magheraknock, Ballynahinch, Magheratimpany, Loughinisland, Drumnacoyle, Drumaroad, Ringhaddy, Finnebrogue and Ardilea.  Their places of refuge were cranogs on Lough Lea, Lough Aghery, Loughinisland Lough, and Lough Crannagh.  Excavation of these sites should provide an interesting insight into the past.

The place-name Kinelarty

Kinelarty is derived from the Gaelic 'Cineal Fogartaigh'.  This translates 'followers of Fogartaigh'.  Fogartaigh was grandfather to Artán and was alive in 950[4].

Ancient monuments in Kinelarty[5]

In prehistoric times territorial boundaries were clearly defined by using dolmens, ring forts, ritual sites and standing stones as markers.  Such monuments can be found today at Slidderyford (Dundrum), Legananny (Slieve Croob), Annadorn (Loughinisland), Kilygoney (Ballynahinch) and Magheraknock.  On modern maps this area is an outline of the present barony of Kinelarty, with Loughinisland as a central hub.  Interesting placenames are to be found in the Loughinisland area:  Rosconnor (Woods of Connor’s Point), Rademon (Rath of Deman), Castlenavan (Eamhain’s Cashel), Tareesh (King’s House), Kilmoremorean (Morean's Big Church) and Cahirvor (Big Seat).  These and further evidence in early manuscripts, provide confirmation of an ancient Celtic kingship whose history is shrouded in the mists of time.









'Flaighbertach gained a battle at Loch Bricran (Loughbrickland) over the Ui Eatach and the Ulidians where Artán, royal heir to Ui Eatach, was slain'.

  O'Connellan and McDermott (eds). The Four Masters, Kingdom of Ireland. Dublin 1846



Muíreartach McArtán (McCartan), King presumptive of Iveagh, was slain at the Battle of the Mullachs (near Comber).  He was the first who was named Mc Artán, being the son (mac) of

Artán, who died in the year 1004.

  O'Donovan, John (ed).Annals of Ireland. Dublin 1860


A.D. 1130

An army was led by Connor Ó Loughlin into Ulidia.  The Ulidians were defeated and many of their chiefs slain.  Dubhráil Mc Artán (McCartan) was amongst those who perished and the country was laid waste as far as the Ardes (Arrids near Downpatrick).  One thousand prisoners and many thousands of cows and horses were carried off.  This was one of the many wars waged by the Cíneal Eóghain against the Ulidians to punish them for assisting their enemies.

  O'Connellan and McDermott (eds). The Four Masters, Kingdom of Ireland. Dublin 1846


A.D. 1152

Dermot Mc Artán (McCartan), Chief of Cíneal Fógartaígh (Kinelarty), was one of the subscribing witnesses to a charter granted to the monastery of Newry by Múirchertach Mac Loughlin, King of Ireland.

  O'Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of the History of the Diocese of Down and Connor.Vol 1,p82. London 1887


A.D. 1165

Dermot Mc Artán (McCartan), Chief of Kinelarty, died.

  O'Connellan and McDermott (eds). The Four Masters, Kingdom of Ireland. Dublin 1846


A.D. 1174

A hosting was held by Rúaidrí O'Connor to burn De Lacy's fortifications in Meath.  This hosting is said, not only to be attended by the Chiefs of Connaught, but also by O'Neill of Duínnsléibhe

and McCartan.

  Orphen, G.H. The Songs of Dermot and the Earl. Oxford 1892


A.D. 1177

Cíneat Mc Artán (McCartan) of Cíneal Fógartaígh (Kinelarty) was one of the Irish who perished in an unsuccessful attempt to drive DeCourcy from Downpatrick.

  O'Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of the History of the Diocese of Down and Connor.Vol 1 p82. London 1887




Synopsis of Ulster's History 1004-1200

Strangford Lough (Loch Cuan) and surrounds held many of Ulster's early monastic settlements.  Prominent scholastic saints such as Colman, Finnian, Mochai, Columbcille, Comgall and Fergus graduated from the monastic schools at Bangor, Nendrum, Movilla, Dunleathglaise (Downpatick) and Maghera.  The tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries became turbulent years for monasticism.  Annals record how monks were slaughtered and their valuables taken.  This was the work of the Scandinavian Vikings who used Strangford Lough as a base for foraging the Irish coast.  None of the monasteries fully recovered from these raids.  Many words and names in general use around Strangford Lough today have their origin from these early invaders: skrake (yell), tether (tie), kale (cabbage), Cuan (current) are but a few of many[6].  Throughout these times the McCartans made use of sheltered bays at Dundrum and Ringhaddy for provisions and communicating.

In 1014 Brian Boru defeated the Vikings at Clontarf.  Due to Brian's death in victory, there was neither peace nor unity in Ireland.  King Brian had put an end not only to the Viking raids on monasteries but also to the Cineal Owen domination in Ulster.  But his death created opportunities for others.  Septs clashed with neighbours for increased territorial control.  Donal and Cellach, abbots of Armagh, arranged armistices between warring septs in 1102, 1106, 1107, and 1109[7].

An unexpected visitor arrived near Downpatrick in 1103.  King Magnus of Norway landed nearby with a well-armed force.  His intentions were unclear, so the local Ulaidh left nothing to chance.  After a bloody encounter Magnus and many of his men lay dead.  His grave is marked by a clump of trees near Horse Island, due west of Downpatrick, and close to the border with Kinelarty[8].

In 1152 a dispute between Tiernan O'Rourke and Dermot MacMurrough led to the Norman Invasion[9] of Ireland.  MacMurrough promised his daughter's hand and all of Leinster to Strongbow (Richard Fitzgilbert DeClare).  The sudden death of Dermot in 1171 left Strongbow in control throughout Leinster.  King Henry feared a Norman state would be formed and decided to invade Ireland with a formidable army.  All Irish Kings except those in the province of Ulster made submissions.  In 1177 John DeCourcy, a knight from Somerset, was instructed to march northwards.  After four days he reached Lecale, in Ulster, which adjoins Kinelarty.  Lecale at that time was under the control of MacDonleavy[10].  DeCourcy, despite numerical disadvantage, gained a decisive victory.  Armour and superior weaponry was an important factor in his success.  Thus, the Normans gained control of strategic parts of the east-Down coast.  To further secure the area DeCourcy built castles and mottes at strategic locations.  Dundrum and Carrickfergus castles are the most notable.  DeCourcey's power worried the English monarchy.  Some of the King's advisors considered him a threat.  When King John replaced Henry as King of England (1199), Hugh DeLacey was sent to Ireland to remove DeCourcey and to represent the new monarch.  Before his departure, DeCourcey built a monastery at Inch Abbey, in atonement for his earlier destruction of the monastery at Erenagh near Downpatrick.  Other abbeysat Black Abbey, White Abbey, and Grey Abbey received his support[11].  English Benedictine monks replaced many of the native Augustinians during his reign.  DeCourcey's men left a legacy of surnames in CountyDown.  These include Savage, Russell, Fitzsimmons, Audley, Jordan, White, Chamberlain and Crolly.


Commentary on the McCartans 1004 - 1200

After the Battle of Clontarf, in 1014, the McCartans were involved in the power struggle and feuds between the Ulster septs[12].  Meanwhile the Cineal Owen sporadically plundered East Ulster.  Despite this the McCartans survived reasonably well and were able to offer resistance to DeCourcey when he appeared near Downpatrick, in 1177[13].

The Newry charter of 1152 provides evidence of the major influence of the abbeys[14].  The monastery of Newry had become an important power-base due to a directive by Múirchertach Mac Loughlin, King of Ireland.  Although the McCartans lost much of their coastal lands, they managed to repell the Normans in mid-Down. 

De Lacy's stronghold[15] in Meath was Trim castle, sited on the banks of the Boyne.  As Orphen records, the McCartans were one of many Gaelic septs which laid siege to this important stronghold, in 1174.  During the attack the constable, Hugh Tyrel, sent a messenger to Strongbow for help.  The garrison was too small to make a stand.  Strongbow arrived too late to find this mighty castle, and another downstream at Duleek, completely destroyed.


McCartan Chronology 1201-1300


A.D. 1242

Domhnáil Mac Airten (McCartan) died in this year.

  Hennessy, W.M. (ed). Annals of Loch Ce, A Chronicle of Irish Affairs 1014-1599. Dublin 1871


A.D. 1244

Mac Artán (McCartan) was one of the Irish chiefs who was summoned to attend Henry III in his expedition against the Scots:  'Being about to march against the King of Scots, the King prays Mc Artán to give him his aid by joining in person with a force, the judiciary of Ireland and other subjects of the King about shortly to depart for Scotland'. Similar letters were sent to O'Hanlon, O'Neill, McAengus, MacGilmore, and O'Flin.  Further letters to above recipients:  'Thanks for good services which are not presently required as Alexander, King of Scots has made peace.  But the King prays that they be ready for service during the ensuing summer'.

  Sweetman H.S. and Handcock G.F.(eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1171-1307.pp404-5 Dublin 1974


A.D. 1260

Heavy fines were imposed on: the Uí Tuírtre, Cabaire Magennis, Rúaidrhí Magennis, 'Milo' Echmhilidh McCartan, and Magillochan - in an inquisition for: 'withdrawal from the peace of Lord Edward'.

  Bowler, Hugh (ed). The Great Pipe Roll, 5th year of Henry III, p124. London 1986


A.D. 1269

Agholy Mc Artán (McCartan) was slain by O'Hanlon.

  O'Connellan and McDermott (eds). The Four Masters, Kingdom of Ireland. Dublin 1846


A.D. 1273

William Fitzwarin and Niall O'Neill, in a joint letter to the English government, refer to McCartan as 'King of Uíbh Eathach' (Iveagh).

  Sweetman H.S. and Handcock G.F.(eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1171-1307.pp404-5 Dublin 1974


A.D. 1273

O'Neill, King of Yuncheum (?), Mac Dunleve, King of the Irish of Ulster, O'Flinn, King of Cacuria(?), O'Hanlon, King of Ergalia, Mac Gilmore, King chief of Anderken, MacKartan (McCartan), King of O'Neilach to the King:

'After the Senechal and Hugh Bysett had defeated the rebels, as in the last abstract, the writers had at the instance of the Senechal endeavoured with all their might to pursue and route the King's Irish enemies, but some of the counsel of Ireland, at the instigation of the enemies, endeavoured to oppress the writers.  They therefore pray the King to confide in these matters to the testimony of the Senechal, whom so long as he should remain in that capacity they are ready to obey as the King himself.  Prey the King that these evil doers may not so easily escape punishment.  Otherwise they fear that war will be followed as an example'.

  Sweetman H.S. and Handcock G.F (eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1171-1307. Dublin 1974



A.D. 1275

Mac Kartan (King of Oneílich), assisted William Fitzwaring, (Senechal of Ulster), Hugh Byset, O' Neill and Mac Gilmore in defeating the Mandevilles, who with O'Neill (King of Kenelyon), and O' Kane had plundered and laid waste the Senechal's lands.

  Sweetman H.S. and Handcock G.F.(eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1171-1307.pp404-5 Dublin 1974


A.D. 1282

William Fitzwaring, on fear of death, and John De Say (Sheriff of Thuycord), made peace with McCartan. Later McCartan helped Fitzwaring escape from Ulster by way of the pass of Imberdodan (Moyry Pass, near Jonesboro).

'When William saw this he gave himself up through fear of death to John De Say, the sheriff of     Thuycord, on condition that the latter should receive from his surities that he should abide by law, this    the Sheriff granted but subsequently refused without a writ of chancery.  William then fearing for his life as he was in the hands of enemies withdrew from the Sheriff to the castle of Croscarnaway for which reason all the ports and roads of Ulster were closed by the Senechal so that William could not leave Ulster without being taken prisoner, through the peace which he privately made with McCartan William escaped from Ulster by the pass of Imberdodan to Dublin there to seek a remedy from the king's counsel'.

  Sweetman H.S. and Handcock G.F.(eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1171-1307,p432 London 1885


A.D. 1295

Edward 1 pardoned 'Donenild Macarthon' and 'Markod Macarthan'.

  Mills, James (ed). Calendar of Judiciary Roles, 1295-1305, p11. Dublin 1905

Synopsis of Ulster's History 1201-1300

Norman fought Norman and after much strife DeCourcey was driven out of Ulster.  Then in 1205 King John made Hugh DeLacy Earl of Ulster.  Eventually, King John also became unhappy with DeLacy[16] and landed in Dublin with a mighty army to establish his authority.  Marching north to Carlingford his army crossed Carlingford Lough at the Narrow Water via a bridge made with boats.  He captured the important fortresses at Dundrum and Carrickfergus.  During his stay King John gained allegiance from several Gaelic chieftains and returned to London happy with the outcome of his mission.  In 1216 King John died and was succeeded by his son Henry III. 

DeLacy saw this as an opportunity to return to Ulster and regain the earldom.  His appearance created much havoc.  On hearing the news, the new King dispatched his most able soldiers.  DeLacy was hunted out of Ireland.  Not to be outdone DeLacy returned once more, and being strengthened with support from several Gaelic chieftains, he regained the earldom.  When DeLacy died in 1243 the earldom reverted back to the English crown.

In 1250 Gaelic Ulster was the largest independent region in Ireland.  The Normans controlled the other three provinces but animosity was to alter the face of Ulster.  The Gaelic chieftains failed to agree on policy.  This led todamaging internal disputes.  In 1264 Walter DeBurgo was appointed Earl of Ulster by the new king, Edward, son of Henry III.  De Burgo exploited the rivalries amongst the native Gaelic leaders.  He made an alliance with Aed O'Neill[17], King of Cineal Owen, who was destined to marry DeBurgo's cousin.  When De Burgo died in 1271 his heir was his son Richard, a minor.  Two other Norman families, the Fitzwarings and Mandevilles, attempted to take advantage of this situation and competed for power.  The McCartans, along with the O'Neills of Inishowen and other chieftains became allies of the Fitzwarings[18] whereas the O'Cahans and Tyrone O'Neills supported the De Mandevilles.  The De Mandevilles were defeated but the quarrel between these families was long lived.  When William Fitzwaring eventually became senechal in 1272 he was opposed by many of his fellow English settlers.  In 1280 Richard DeBurgo inherited and gained control.  He became known as the Red Earl and in 1292 joined with Edward I in a campaign against the Scots.


Commentary on the McCartans 1201-1300

The Norman families gained control of the East Coast of County Down.  Having lost most of their coastal territory the McCartans offered stout resistance inland.  Peace terms were reached with the Fitzwarings of Twescard who became their greatest ally.  During these times the McCartans became increasingly influential.  They controlled as far as the Gap of the North, beyond Newry and supported William Fitzwaring (senechal) in his many disputes.

Chapter 4


McCartan Chronology 1301-1400


A.D. 1315

Edward Bruce, with a great army, landed in Larne and took Carrickfergus.  Ten Irish kings joined him.  Mac Duileachan of Slut Kellies (near Comber), and Mac Kartane (McCartan), shortly after, made a firm stand against the Scots army at the narrow pass between Newry and Dundalk:

'A pass onto his way

where him behoved need away

with two thousand men with spear

And as many of their archers

And all the cattle of the land

Were driven thither to warned (shelter)

men call the place Innermallane

In all Ireland Stralter is name'.  Bardic poem translation.

  O'Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor, p83. London 1887


A.D. 1315

Bruce and Thomas, Earl of Murray eventually forced a path at the spot now known as the Moyry Pass, 

Killnasaggart, near Jonesboro, on the Armagh/Louth border.

  Barbor, John. (ed). Calendar of State Papers. Edinburgh 1985


A.D. 1333

In an inquisition McCartan is referred to as 'King of the Irish of Ouwagh Uí Eanagh' (Iveagh). 'Ouwagh' being an ancient name for Ouley, - a townland near Rathfriland in Iveagh.

  Hanna. J.W. 'Clough', Down Recorder, 11August 1861


A.D. 1334

An inquisition mentions Johannes McCartan who had succeeded Echmhilidh Magennis as king of the Irish of Uibh Eatach (Iveagh), and with Enri O'Neill, played a leading part in the rebellion which followed Earl William's (Birmingham) death.

  Magraidin, Augustine. Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery in Ireland. Dublin 1861


A.D. 1335

Edward III ordered £10 to be paid to Henry DeMandeville for losses sustained in repelling Mac Artán from ‘plundering’ the manor of Roger Outlaw, Prior of Kilmainham. The manor referred to was possibly Ballyminstra in the Parish of Kilmood or perhaps the prior's lands at St John’s Point.

  O'Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor,p83. London 1887


A.D. 1340

Evack Mac Artán (McCartan) and other chiefs were summoned to attend John D’Arcy of the King’s Judiciary, with arms, on an expedition to Scotland.

  Otway/Rutheven, A.J. A History of Medieval Irealand,p254. London 1980


A.D. 1343

Sir Ralph Ufford, a newly appointed King's Judiciar, arrived in Ireland.  Described by Grose in his annals as: 'unjust, rapacious, cruel and overbearin', he was ambushed by Mac Artán, at the Pass of Emmerdullah (Moyry near Jonesboro).  He suffered great loss from Mac Artán, losing his clothes,

money, vessels of silver and some of his horses.  With the help of the men of Úrid (Louth), Ufford eventually was to enter Ulster.

  Otway/Rutheven, A.J. A History of Medieval Irealand,p344. London 1980


A.D. 1345

In the spring of 1345 D'Ufford entered Ulster with an army by way of the Moyry Pass, where he had initially suffered a setback at the hands of Thomas McCartan.  D'Ufford succeeded in clearing a way and banished the aforementioned Thomas, who was the King of Uíbh Eatách (Iveagh).  To ensure complete victory he publicly proclaimed a reward for whoever captured Thomas McCartan, 'an Irishman giving himself the name of King of Ovegh (Iveagh), alive or dead'.  In 1346/7 McCartan was defeated, taken prisoner and eventually hanged.  Thereafter no McCartan chief was powerful enough to be called 'king of Uibh Eathach, (Iveagh) and although they continued as sub-chieftains, under the Magennis kings, their deeds were largely ignored by the Irish annals.

  Simms, K. The Gaelic Lordship of Ulster, Ph.D. thesis. TCD, 1976


A.D. 1347

Thomas Mac Artán, Lord of Iveagh in Ulidia, was hanged by the English near Banbridge.

  O'Connellan and McDermott (eds). The Four Masters, Kingdom of Ireland. Dublin 1846


A.D. 1370

James Russel, Baron of Killough, married McCartan’s daughter.

  Hanna. J.W.  'Clough', Down Recorder. 11August 1861


A.D. 1375

Mac Artán (McCartan), Chief of Cíneal Faghartaígh (Kinelarty), was treacherously slain by his own kinsman, a son of Gilla Ternoin Mac Artán.

  O'Connellan and McDermott (eds). The Four Masters, Kingdom of Ireland. Dublin 1846


A.D. 1387

John McGylihallym Mac Cartan, hostage to the King, escaped from Carrickfergus jail.  John Sorby - Abbot of Down, John - Bishop of Soder, Walter Taaf, Richard Calf, and Henry Cheney received pardon from Richard II for assisting the escape.  William Stanley, of the city of Down, obtained the letters of pardon on behalf of all.

  O'Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor,Vol 1 p84. London 1887

Synopsis of Ulster's History 1301-1400

Robert Bruce defeated the English at Bannockburn in 1314.  Despite this victory, England refused to recognise him as King of Scotland.  In 1315 his brother, Edward Bruce, landed in Larne with 10,000 men.  His intention was to conquer Ireland and gain control of the sea, north of the Isle of Man.

Conveniently Bruce married Elizabeth, daughter to Richard de Burgo, third Earl of Ulster. 

The Bruce campaign received support from some Irish including Domnal O'Neill, King of Tyrone.  Edward Bruce commenced his campaign by plundering the countryside.  Then in 1315 he attacked and defeated his father-in-law, Richard De Burgo, at the Kellswater, near Connor in Antrim.  His next target was Carrickfergus castle, DeBurgo's main stronghold.  The Scots surrounded the castle with the intention of starving the garrison.  According to the Laud Annals: 'in desperation some of the Scots were captured and eaten by the garrison'.  Eventually the garrison were compelled to surrender.

In 1316 Edward Bruce crowned himself King of Ireland.  In the meantime his brother Robert continued to send over reinforcements.  Then Robert joined Edward and together they plundered as far south as Limerick.  During this time severe famine took hold over all of the country.  This had serious effect on their soldiers.  Starvation led to disastrous consequences.  Robert Bruce returned to Scotland in 1317 and Edward was killed in battle at Faughart, near Dundalk.  The Irish lordships suffered great hardship throughout the Bruce invasion.

Richard De Burgo recovered his land before his death in 1326.  His young grandson succeeded him. The DeLogins and DeMandevilles murdered this boy near Belfast.

From the middle of the century reports of friendships and marriages between Norman families and the Irish alarmed London.  To combat this the statute of Kilkenny (1366) was introduced.  This prohibited marriage and other liaisons between Norman families and the Irish.  After this English influence in Ireland went into further steep decline.

In 1348 the Black Death plague arrived.  It effected towns more than the countryside.  There were a total of seven serious outbreaks in Ireland that reduced the population by 40-50%.  During this plague, which also affected the rest of Europe, many colonists returned to England due the vast reduction in population there.  This presented a golden opportunity for the Gaelic Irish in the North to recover their lands.  With help from Scottish mercenaries, called Gallowglass, they harassed what remained of the colonists.  Then England's worried monarch Richard II landed in Waterford (1394) with a powerful army.  Before long he gained control of Leinster.  In the meantime Roger DeMortimer, a cousin of Richard II, inherited the title Earl of Ulster.  Niall O'Neill agreed to pay tribute to him.  DeMortimer was killed and Richard II, returned to England.  With reinforcements he re-entered Ireland.  Richard suffered defeat and returned to England to loose his throne in the civil war with the Lancastrians.  His execution followed.

Towards the end of the century, the power of the English throne was eroded and large parts of Ulster fell to the native Irish and the Scots.


Commentary on the McCartans 1301-1400

Some of the Gaelic chieftains welcomed Bruce.  The McCartans resented his presence and confronted him with resultant skirmishes.  Further encounters with Ralph de Ufford[19] and Roger Outlaw[20] reveal how active they were.  This was made possible by the after effects of the Bruce invasion when all the Norman families were subdued.

The plague appeared in Loughinisland.  R.W. Blackwood[21] records: 'Far out in the lake to the North-East of the church island there is a tiny islet, partly artificial, now visible only when the water is at an exceptionally low level, concerning which there is a rather pathetic tradition.  At some very remote time when an epidemic was making alarming ravages on the countryside one of the McCartans whose residence was close to Loughinisland, fearing for the safety of an only son, had a temporary dwelling erected on this little islet, to which the boy was removed for safety in the care of an attendant.  The precaution proved vain for the pestilence made its way to the water-girt refuge, and there the child of many hopes and of much anxiety became its victim.  Another version of the story has it that the child was drowned, not in the lake but in a tub of water which stood at the door of the dwelling'.

During the first half of the 14th century the McCartans were the dominant force in CountyDown whereas the McGuinness's went into decline and became subordinate to the McCartans.  The Bruce invasion had decimated the McGuinnesses.


McCartan Chronology 1401-1500

A.D. 1404

'The Galls were driven from the whole province (Úlaidh) and the north was burned, including lay and church property, and the monasteries ... Downpatrick, Inis Draigin and Coleraine ... were despoiled by Mac Aonghusa, Mac Giollamhuire, McCartans and by Scotsmen'.

  Augustine, Magraidhin. Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of the Chancery in Ireland. Dublin 1863


A.D. 1406

Letter of excommunication issued by Primate against Columba McKartan - chaplain of Kilkeel.  Patrick Owen, of Meath, had been presented by the Crown to this church, named after Saint Coleman. The appointment was strongly resisted by the chaplain and parishioners.

  Kearns, P, 'Vatican Archives', Dromore Historical Society Pub, 1990


A.D. 1453

The native Irish were defeated at Ardglass by the Savages and the English of Dublin.  McArtán, Magennis and O'Neill, leaders, along with five hundred and twenty of their men, perished.

  O'Connellan and McDermott (eds). The Four Masters, Kingdom of Ireland. Dublin 1846


A.D. 1462

Petitioners to Edward IV - Thomas Knight, Bishop of Down, Thomas Barkley, Prior of Down, and Henry Fox, Archdeacon of Down - demand for help of reinforcements as war was being waged against subjects of the King by McCartan, O' Neill, Maguinnes, O' Flynn and O' Kane.

  Gwynn, Aubey. The Medieval Province of Armgh 1470-15. Dundalk 1946


A.D. 1466

Indenture 30 April between Christopher Dowdall and Richard McKartan (McCartan) whereby  'Christopher demised in firm to Richard a shop with a peragrum, which shop lies in 'Le Northend' of Dundalk between Christophar land south and north.  The paragrum lies by the High Street of Le Castletown South as far as the town rivulet (ad rivulum ville) of the said town of Dundalk north, to hold for 39 years from the first of SS Philip and James next 1 May rendering 14/8, one half at the feast of All Saints and the other half at the feast of SS Philip and James yearly during the term.  Power reserved for disdain and re-enter for non-payment or rent.  Richard, his heirs and assigns are to surrender the premises shiff and Stanch (?) unless burned by the King's rebels - quod absit'.

  Document D15906, National Library, Dublin


A.D. 1467

Petition from Janico Savage - addressed to the King: 'by sea, with Bretons and with Scot, out of the outer Isles, which be with Irishmen, enemies of the land, confedered, that is to say with O'Neill, O'Kane, McGwylyn, Henry O'Neill, Con O' Neill, McGyunusse, McCartan and the O'fflynes'.

  Quinn, D.B. (ed).Analecta Hibernica  No 10. Page6. Dublin 1930

A.D. 1486

Daniel Oge, son of Mac Artán, died - a man distinguished for his hospitality.

  O'Connellan and McDermott (eds). The Four Masters, Kingdom of Ireland. Dublin 1846


A.D. 1493

Patrick Mc Artán, son of Hugh Roe, died.

  O'Connellan and McDermott (eds). The Four Masters, Kingdom of Ireland. Dublin 1846


Synopsis of Ulster's History 1401-1500

In the early 1400's Ulster with the exception of Carrickfergus was free from English influence[22].  This was not so further south.  England protected whatever interest they had left by securing an area with Dublin central and named it the 'Pale'.  This was an opportunity for Aed Buide O'Neill to create a new lordship for himself.  Norman families were attacked.  One prominent Norman family, the Savages, was driven from the Sixmilewater to the Ards Peninsula.

Many other Gaelic Chieftains became prominent.  McCartan and Magennis controlled central and southern Down.  Clannaboy O'Neill's controlled much of Eastern Ulster.  This left the garrison in Carrickfergus isolated and vulnerable.  Around this time James IV forced the surrender of the McDonnells in Scotland.  Due to this a branch of the McDonnell's decided to come to Ireland.  In 1399 John Mor MacDonnell married Magery Bissett, an heiress of a powerful Norman family.  The MacDonnells brought over many followers.  The MacNeills, MacAllisters, MacKays, Macrandalbanes from Kintyre and Gigha were amongst them.  Other Scots arrived in Ulster to serve as mercenaries to the Ulster Lords.  They became known as the 'Redshanks' for their barelegged and barefooted appearance in all sorts of weather.

The MacDonnells strengthened their hold on the Antrim Glens and became allies of several Ulster Chieftains.  This alarmed the English crown.  A combination of military resources between Scotland and Gaelic Ulster was seen as a threat.  The King's advisors concluded an attempt should be made to conquer all of Ireland.  With a victory at Bosworth Field (1485) over the Yorkists, Henry VII began his preparations to invade Ireland.  In 1498 his chief governor, Garret Mor Fitzgerald[23], 8th Earl of Kildare, led an army out of the Pale, joined forces with the O'Donnells and the Maguires and advanced into the heart of Ulster to keep an eye on the McDonnells and their allies.  At this time the O'Neills had disagreements with the O'Donnells.  Old animosities were to prove costly for both.  Meanwhile Henry VII was content to have control of the 'Pale'.  The Earl of Kildare was given a free hand to protect the crown's interests.  United the northern Irish septs were formidable opposition, but their petty quarrels made them vulnerable.


Commentary on the McCartan 1401-1500

From the start of the 15th century the Gaelic chieftains grew in strength.  Norman families were subdued and moved to castles in coastal areas for protection.  In County Down all of the bishops were of Norman stock throughout the late Middle Ages.  They were disposed to bring in English 'outsiders' for important appointments.  This policy sparked off numerous disputes such as the major grieviance in Kilkeel (1404)[24].   During these disputes the Normans used well-fortified churches and monasteries as sanctuaries.  Therefore the McCartans and other native Irish felt justified in attacking church establishments.  Janico Savage and the bishops appealed to Dublin for help during this period.  In response to this, the McCartans and others suffered a costly defeat at Ardglass (1453).  By the end of the century Norman families had increased their influence in County.Down.



McCartan Chronology 1501-1600


A.D. 1512

Mc Artán’s (McCartan's) chapel in Loughinisland became appropriate to the Abbey of Down.

  Pilson, James. Notices of Important Events in County Down, Bigger Catalogue. Belfast 1910


A.D. 1530

Mac Artán (McCartan), Lord of Cenél Fogartaígh (Kinelarty), died.

  Hennessy, W.M.(ed). Annals of Loch Ce, A Chronicle of Irish Affairs 1014-1599. Dublin 1871


A.D. 1533

'Levy McCartan for his bonnaugts 110L' - Government directive.

  Brewer, JS and Bullen, W. (eds) Calendar of Carew Manuscripts 1515/74. P333 Dublin


A.D. 1551-1

James, Earl of Desmond, letter to Captain Ovington:

Directing him to call Gerald the son, and Maurice the brother, of the said Desmond before him to answer for the preys they had taken from Owen McCartan and others.

  Hamilton H.C. and Atkinson, E.G. (eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1509-1603.p120.Dublin 1861-63


A.D. 1551-2

Andrew Brereton, Crown Commissioner, beheaded a McCartan and jailed Prior Magennis in the castle of Dundrum.  Brereton was dismissed from his post and was replaced by St Leger, a son of the Lord Deputy.

  Hamilton H.C. and Atkinson E.G.(eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1509-1603, p113.Dublin 1861-63


A.D. 1553

'The next to that country is McCartan's Country, a man of small power, wherein are no horsemen, but kern whose country is full of bogs and woods and moors and bareth'.

  Brewer, JS and Bullen, W. (eds) Calendar of Carew Manuscripts 1515/74. p242 Dublin


A.D. 1560

'The Queen has some bonnaught for Gallowglass amonst Irishmen that border upon the English Pale ...and put sufficient bonnaught on other Irishmen that now pay none ...McCartan.'

  Brewer, JS and Bullen, W. (eds) Calendar of Carew Manuscripts 1515/74.p303. Dublin


A.D. 1567-1

The McCartans, in league with Shane O'Neill, removed the family of Whyte from their newly built castle in Killyleagh.  This castle was later retaken and granted to Sir James Hamilton.

  Hamilton, H.C. and Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1509-1603, Dublin1861-1863


A.D. 1567-2

Terence Daniel, dean of Armagh, letter to Cecil...thanks sent by Lord Deputy Sidney ...his resolution in accepting the Archbishopric of Armagh:

'Quietness of the whole realm.  All Connaught tamed by the building of the bridge of Athlone.  He accompanied the Lord Deputy in his progress through O'Hanlon, McGuinness, McCartan, Lecale, the Dufferin, Ards, Clanaboy, Kiltulta and the Route.  At Coleraine Turlough Lynagh, a savage and timorous man submitted'.

  Hamilton, H.C. (ed). Calendar of State Papers 1509-1573. p346. London 1860


A.D. 1571-1

Memoranda for Ireland by Burley Burghley:  'To consider what shall be done with the Earl and Sir

John Dernock.  Suits of Captain Malbay for 'McCartan's country'.  Thomas Smith for the Ards, and Charterton for O'Hanlon's country'.

  Hamilton, H.C. and E.G. Atkinson (eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1509-1603. p463 Dublin 1861-1863


A.D. 1571-2

Letter - Sir Brian Mc Phelim to Lord Deputy and council: Desires redress of the stealths done in his country by Mc Turlough Brasselagh, Donnell Óg Magennis and McCartan since the truce of Newry, March 19th, Knockfergus.

  Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1509-1573. p443 Dublin 1861-63


A.D. 1571-3

'Commission to Nicholas Malbay, and the Sheriff of county Down, for the time being to execute martial laws in the countries of Lecayle, McCartan's Country, The Dufferyn, Arde in the north parts, 10 April'.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 2094. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1575

Communique by Sir Henry Sydney:- notes Acholie McCartan as suspect.

  Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1574-1585. Dublin 1861-63


A.D. 1576-1

Petition of Sir Nicholas Malbay to the Queen:- to have £100 in fee farm in Ireland in recompence for 'McCartan's Country', which he was required to surrender.

  Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1574-1585. p90. Dublin 1861-63


A.D. 1576-2

Churchlands throughout Lecale and 'McCartan Country' (Kinelarty) were granted to

the Earl of Kildare.

  Hamilton, H.C. and Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1509-1603. 1861-63)


A.D. 1576-3

'Mac Artán (McCartan) and other chiefs of Ulster waited on the Lord Deputy, Sir John Perrot, swore fealty, gave hostages and compounded for the finding of soldiers'.

  Hamilton, H.C. and Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1509-1603. Dublin 1861-63


A.D. 1576-4

Commission to Captain Humfrey Mackwathe:  'to execute martial law in the country of Lecayle and McCartan's Country in Ulster'.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 2920. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1578

'Commission to Patrick, Baron of Lowthe to execute martial law in the county of Downe and the countries of the Ardes, Clandeboye, McCartan's Country and Duffreyn'.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 3488. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1582

Pardon to John McCartan of Kilcock and others.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 3863. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1584-1

Lord Deputy Perrot appointed Sir Nicholas Bagenal governor of McCartan Country, Iveagh and Lecale.

  Hamilton, H.C. and Atkinson, E.G.Calendar of State Papes of Irland 1574-1585.  Dublin 1861-63


A.D. 1584-2

Indenture made between Lord Deputy and council, and Acholie McCartan, chief of his name, wherein the latter is bound to find ten footmen - 7th October.

  Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1574-1585. p534 Dublin 1861-63


A.D. 1584-3

Pardon to Owen McCartan.  'The pardon not to include any offences in the reign of the present Deputy'.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 4614. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1585

McCartan joined with Sorley Boy McDonnell on an attack on Lower Claneboy.

  Drew, Rev Thomas. The Annals of Loughinisland. Downpatrick 1863


A.D. 1588

Pardons granted:

'Patrick Mac Phelim, Mac Manus, MacKartan.

Phelim Duff, Mac Edmund, Mac Shane, MacKartan.

Patrick, Mac Edmund, Mac Shane, MacKartan.'

The pardon not to include murder, nor intrusion into the Crown lands or debts to the crown.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 5164. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1589

Note from the Lord Deputy:- 'Doubtful persons in the Province of Ulster - Captain of Kilwarlin, Captain of Kiltultagh and McCartan'. - 14th December.

  Atkinson,E.G .Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1588-1592. p279 Dublin 1861-3

A.D. 1590

Pardon to:

'Patrick, Mac Felim Duff, MacCartan

Hugh Oge, Mac Felim Duff, MacCartan

Intrusions into Crown lands and debts to the crown excepted'.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 5523. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1592

'Lease under the Queen's letter ....9th September to Henry , Earl of Kildare of rectories of Down....Rathekehatt in McCartan's Country, Leirge called Kynnaleorty in McCartan's Country.  50 year lease, rent £45.1.6, part in corn to be delivered at Dondrom in Lecale'.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 5767. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1593

Complaint lodged against McCartan:- communique from solicitor Wilbrahan to Burghley - 'They possess their lands in tanistry and seek no letters patent'.

  Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1592-1596. p145 Dublin 1861-3


A.D. 1594-1

Letter - Hugh O' Neill to the Earl of Kildare - McCartan has not yet come to him.  The outrages committed in Lecale and against the town of Down - attributed to the procurement of the Marshall.  Offers to aid Kildare with 2,000 men well appointed if he shall attempt to suppress his enemy. - 5th

April, Dungannon.

  Atkinson, E.G..Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1592-1596. p241 Dublin 1861-3


A.D. 1594-2

'In Kilwarlin Ever McRory McGwynuise, a man brought under law and of good obedience to her majesty is now utterly expulsed out of his country and havoc made of all he had, by Bryan McArtan and others of the Earls followers and remaineth here at the state of her majesty's charge of 40's by the weak'.

  Brewer, JS and Bullen, W. (eds) Calendar of Carew Manuscripts 1515/74, p93. Dublin


A.D. 1595

Acholie Mac Artán (McCartan) joined with O'Neill to resist the forces of the Crown. Mac Artán’s lands in Dufferin were forfeited by decree - the recipient was Captain Nicholas Malbie. Acholie MacArtán had 260 footmen, but few or no horsemen.

  Dubourdieu, John. Statistical Survey of County Down. Dublin 1802


A.D 1596-1

Petition of the Earl of Kildare to Queen Elizabeth:

'Nine years since he made complaints of the wrongs to her majesty ...for five year she made suit to the council in Ireland about the prayings and burnings in Lecale and at length got three commissions to the Marshal Sir Henry Bagenall for enforcing the rebel McCartan to do him right, but none of these commissions has been executed The Earl of Tyrone offered with 2,000 men to remedy his wrongs but, suspecting His practices, he presently discovered his letter to the state.  Tyrone's consequent malice

he hath left nothing unburnt that could be burnt in all the country and in that wasted manner

My country remaineth at present'.

  Atkinson. E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1596-1597, p34 Dublin 1861-3


AD 1596-2

Fitzgarret and the High Sheriff of Lecale went from Newry towards Dungannon to seek the release of two men, one the constable of Down, Simon Jordan, and the other Patrick Bedlow, both of Lecale, who were taken prisoner by the McCartans.

  Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1596-1597, p74. Dublin 1861-3


AD 1596-3

Christopher Russell, Sheriff, and Walter Fitzgerald to Lord Deputy:'Lecale often overun of late; first by Bryan Mac Art Mac Baron about August 12, then within five days after, by Nyle Oultagh, son of Sorley Boy McDonnell, who took the Savages with their goods and also made Simon Jordan, constable of Ardglass, and Rowland Bethel prisoners, within threedays after the prey of Down taken by McCartan and Glensy McAgholy.  Two days after another town was spoiled and that day Owen McHugh McNeill Oge, and others entered into the country especially the castle of Dundrum, which ought to be presently looked to'.

  Atkinson, E.G.Calendar of State Papers of Ireland, 1596-1597. p103. Dublin 1861-3


A.D 1596-4

Note of the matters, concerning which the Earl of Kildare desires that letters patent in his favour

may be sent to the Lord Deputy.  Restitution of preys taken by McCartan.  Restoration of certain

lands for which the Earl's father and himself have been for twenty years suitors.  Licence for the

transportation of 4,000 quarters of corn. 

  Atkinson., E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1596-1597. p133. Dublin 1861-3


A.D 1596-5

Sir Arthur Chichester to the Earl of Salisbury:

'Formerly wrote on behalf of Lady Cromwell and her son requesting him to bestow the wardship of

her son upon her and to procure his father's entertainments upon him so much of his father's lands as his father had held in capite yield them very small benefit as yet, the country being desolate of inhabitants and McCartan being a fellow that will be proximus sibi neighbour to himself'.

Atkinson, E.G.Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1596-1597. p395 Dublin 1861-3


A.D. 1597

Earl of Essex - Instruction to J. C. - 'You shall parly with such rebels as you shall think ... meet as with Niall Mc Brien Ferto, and McCartan, who as we are informed hates O'Neill, of whom you shall demand what service they will do to Her Majesty if he should be taken into protection'. 

'Tyrone suspecting this hath placed Magennis over Mc Cartan - whom Magennis carrieth with him in his own company with all his creaghts so that he may not be spoken with either by myself or any man I had there to send'.

'Nevertheless I sent a woman to Neil McBrian Ferto (because a man should have been suspected), by 

whom he sent me word that if Tyrone shot were gone out of his town into the country he would come

to speak with me where I would appoint at the seaside, but I was advertised that he was so waited on

that he could neither send to me, nor I from him'.

Reply to above:

Here follows the instructions of Essex to Captain J.C. and the answer of the latter:

'First you shall make your course northwards from Skerries to the river of Strangford, Whereunto

being entered, you shall pass unto the Loch Cuan, where you shall seize upon such boats as are

suspected to carry relief unto the rebels of those parts, and any such coming to your hands, you shall carry then to the Road of Kilcleafe, there to be kept under guard of the Sheriff of

Down for her majesty's use and service'.

Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1599-1600. p71 Dublin 1861-3


A.D. 1599

Communication to the Earl of Essex:- 'Tyrone hath been at the date thereof in Lecale and the Claneboy and the Route, three camps - one under Magennis in Lecale, McCartan the captain of Kilwarlin, the Slaught O' Neills and the captain of Dufferin of 1,000 men and 140 horses'.

Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1599-1600, p73 Dublin 1861-3


Synopsis of Ulster's History 1501-1600

Norman families had become a ruling force in Ireland by 1500.  Garret Mor Fitzgerald, chief governor in Ireland, died in 1513.  His son, Garret Oge, succeeded him.  Henry VIII was on the throne in England at this time and had become increasingly concerned over events in Ireland.  In 1534 Garret Og's son, Silken Thomas, rose in outright rebellion against the English government.  This attempt to gain independent control in Ireland was crushed.  Henceforth Henry distrusted the established Norman families and appointed a Lord Deputy in Ireland to protect his interests.

With a new Lord Deputy, Lord Grey, appointed, plans were laid to secure all of Ireland.  Grey's first task was to control the Gaelic chieftains of Ulster.  He believed in force and made war throughout the province.  In Downpatrick[25] he burned the cathedral (1538).  This was to punish the abbots of the district for resisting the assumption of spiritual supremacy of Henry VIII.  In 1539 he took Dundrum castle.  These harsh policies compelled the Gaelic chieftains to amalgamate and offer joint resistance.  O'Neill and O'Donnell discarded old animosities and joined forces against Grey.  This worried the English government and Grey was recalled to London.  Anthony St Leger[26] replaced Grey in the following year, 1540.  St Leger believed negotiation was better than force.  He was convinced that, if the Gaelic Lords were treated with respect, they would become loyal to the crown.  The government persuaded Henry VIII to give St Leger the title of King of Ulster.  St Leger's persuasive powers mixed with a show of strength got results.  Ulster's main chieftains, Conn Bacach O'Neill and Manus O'Donnell, made submissions.  With Ulster seemingly secure, Henry VIII laid claim to the whole of Ireland.  Laws were introduced to legalise Henry's assertions.  To own title to land the native Irish were compelled to surrender ownership and hope the government would re-grant title to them.  This policy was initially successful and O'Neill went to London to receive his title and patent.

During this time the Reformation was being imposed on the native Irish.  Gaelic lords and the Friaries took a lead in resisting the obligations of Protestantism.  When Henry VIII died in 1558, his successor Elizabeth forced a Protestant settlement by law.  Catholics responded with a counter-reformation.  Newly ordained Irish priests, educated in Louvain, Salamanca and Rome, were called upon to preserve the Catholic faith in Ireland.  Gaelic Ulster offered greater resistance than the other provinces.  Elizabeth was advised that until all of Ireland was subdued there would be no security within her realm.  Bloody conflicts in Ulster became inevitable.

In 1559 Shane O'Neill[27] rose to prominence.  Shane was a determined and tough character by nature.  He murdered his half-brother and took over from his aged father to become the unchallenged 'O'Neill'.  With aggression, he gained control of other Ulster septs to become a prevailing force.  The English Crown declared Shane a traitor and then, on second thoughts, invited him to London for reconciliation.  A fragile agreement was reached.  On return Shane asserted his power more than before and in 1563 Sussex was sent over to launch a campaign against him.

During these times the McDonnells[28], in county Antrim, also were a severe threat to the crown.  The English government was greatly alarmed at the possibility of the McDonnells and the Ulster chieftians joining forces.  Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was dispatched to negotiate with Shane.  Shane was versed that he could win the Queen's favour by driving the MacDonnell's out of Antrim.  Shane imprudently took the bait and in 1565 overpowered the MacDonnells in battle.  Elizabeth seized this opportunity and sent her top commander, Sidney, over to suppress Shane (1566).  Sidney's mission was fruitless.  At this time old animosities surfaced between the the Gaelic septs.  The O'Donnells and MacSweeney's joined forces to attack Shane's army at Farsetmore[29] near Lough Swilly.  Shane suffered an crushing defeat.  After the battle he went to the McDonnell's, on tenterhooks, for shelter and reconciliation.  During negotiations he was slain by the McDonnells near Cushendun.  His head was retrieved from a grave, by and English soldier, and spiked on the gates of Dublin Castle for at least four years.  Sidney's policy was still a determination to drive the MacDonnells from the glens and settle Englishmen on the coast of Antrim and Down.

After Shane's death Turlough Luimneach became the 'O'Neill'.  He was on good terms with the O'Donnells.  Widespread rebellion in Munster in 1568 kept the English forces engaged.  This enabled the Gaelic septs to gain in strength throughout Ulster.  This didn't worry Thomas Smyth provost of Eton.  He obtained a grant for the lands of Clandeboye.  In August 1572 he arrived at Strangford with100 colonists.  Sir Brian MacPhelim O'Neill soon showed him he was on an unattainable mission.  Smith and his entourage were dispersed at Ringhaddy, near Killinchy.  Then Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, attempted to colonise Antrim.  He was more successful when in 1573 Sir Brian MacPhelim submitted to him at Carrickfergus.  In 1574 Brian invited Essex and followers to a feast in Belfast Castle.  There Essex and his men arrested Brian and his company and all were put to the sword.  Shortly after thin in 1575 Essex's assault fleet commanded by Drake landed on Rathlin and slaughtered the entire population.  Despite these 'successes', Elizabeth was displeased with the performance of Essex and recalled him to Dublin where he died in 1576.  In 1584 Sir John Perrot was appointed Lord Deputy.  His personal challenge was to drive the MacDonnells out of Ulster.  Initially, he captured Dunluce Castle, an important stronghold, and then lost it to strengthened Scottish forces.  Sir John Perrot eventually made peace with the MacDonnells and Sorley Boy received recognition of his families right to the Glens.  Elizabeth was still discontented with this state of affairs.

On 9th May 1588 Spanish Armada ships set sail for the coast of England.  Phillip II of Spain had decided to cut off Elizabeth's supply lines to the Protestant Dutch of Holland.  Storms scattered the fleet and many were shipwrecked on the Ulster coast.  At one point there were 3,000 shipwrecked Spaniards[30] in Ulster.  Elizabeth insisted that all survivors were to be killed. 

Between 1585 and 1595 the Ulster chieftains were disjointed and therefore unable to offer effective resistance to the crown.  Elizabeth gave Hugh O'Neill the title, Earl of Tyrone.  He joined forces with Bagenal, whose sister he married, to attack his fellow countrymen.  When Hugh Maguire rose in rebellion, a joint force led by O'Neill and Bagenal overcame him.  Then Maguire joined forces with Red Hugh O'Donnell to recover his land.  The unpredictable O'Neill switched sides and the combined Gaelic forces rallied to defeat Elizabeth's army at the battle of the Biscuits (1594).  This important victory enabled Maguire to return to his castle at Enniskillen.   Hugh O'Donnell was captured and held in Dublin Castle and escaped to become the O'Donnell.  In 1595 Hugh O'Neill was crowned the O'Neill at Tullyhogue.  A coalition was made between the two leaders.  This was too little too late to be of cosequence.

In 1595 Hugh O'Neill destroyed the Blackwater Fort and then ambushed Bagenal's men near Clontribet[31].  During this time Scottish mercenaries were reinforcing O'Neill's army.  Elizabeth sent a fleet to the North Channel to cut off this source.  O'Neill was in a strong position.  He had a well-trained force of about 6000 with a guarantee of men and arms from Philip of Spain.

In 1597 Lord Thomas Burgh became Lord Deputy.  He led his men to the Blackwater where he built a new fort.  In Belfast the Clannaboy O'Neills took Belfast Castle and put the English garrison to death.  Eventually, Chichester, with a strong army, regained this castle.  The McDonnells also felt threatened and warred with Chichester[32].  The Crown got worried with this strong resistance and sent Bagenal to Armagh to relieve the Blackwater fort, which was under attack.  On route Bagenal's army marched into a well-planned ambush and he was killed at the Battle of the Yellow Ford (1598)[33].  This was Englands first major defeat on Irish soil.  In 1599 Elizabeth sent Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, over with a new army.  Essex negotiated with Tyrone instead of combating him.  On hearing this Elizabeth replaced Essex with Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, in 1600.  Mountjoy's arrival signalled aggressive policies.


Commentary on the McCartans 1501-1600

In 1512 an Italian bishop was appointed to the diocese of Down and Connor.  Rome sent Bishop Ugolino[34] with a threefold task.  Firstly his plan was to gather funds for the renovation to the depleted cathedral in Downpatrick.  Secondly to amalgamate the small monasteries and churches.  Thirdly to promote greater spirituality in the diocese.  Through Bishop Ugolino, McCartan's chapel in Loughinisland became appropriate to the Abbey of Downpatrick.  This decision greatly weakened any influence the McCartans had in matters of the church.  Downpatrick cathedral was an important place of pilgrimage.  Pilgrims venerated the relics of Saint Patrick, Saint Columba and Saint Brigid there.  Ugolino's reign in the diocese of Down and Connor, marked a period of major change.  This transformation transpired just a few decades before the turmoil of the reformation. 

The full impact of the Reformation was not felt in county Down till after 1550.  In 1551 Andrew Brereton, Governor of Lecale, commenced implementation by beheading a McCartan and jailing Prior Magennis in Dundrum Castle.  Fearing reprisals for these atrocities, Brereton was dismissed from his post and replaced by St Leger, son of the Lord Deputy.  Shortly afterwards, the Earl of Desmond's men attacked Owen McCartan and his family.  Owen called upon Shane O'Neill for aid.  Together they formed a formidable body.  Not only could Owen now protect his land, but also he was able to undo previous incursions from his antagonistic neighbours.  He removed the Whyte family from Killyleagh castle.  After a prolonged siege the castle was re-taken and granted to Sir James Hamilton. 

In a determined attempt to secure Kinelarty for the crown, Lord High Treasurer Burghley assigned 'McCartans Country' to Captain Nicholas Malbay, for services rendered.  The McCartans stoutly resisted Malby, to such an extent, that he later wrote to the Queen for compensation, as he was compelled to surrender 'McCartan's Country'. 

In a further attempt to undermine the McCartans all the churchlands in 'McCartan's Country' and Lecale were granted to the Earl of Kildare.  This was followed in 1584 with another grant.  Sir Nicholas Bagenal was appointed the new governor of 'McCartan's Country'.  Bagenal's policy was to pressurise the McCartans into submission.  O'Neill had already submitted to the Queen and offered to help Bagenal subdue the McCartan's.  This 'agreement' between O'Neill and the Queen was short-lived.  By 1595 O'Neill and McCartan were again allies and defended their territories well.  In 1596 the McCartans captured Nicholas Jordon, Constable of Down, and held him hostage.  During this time the Earl of Kildare was also came under attack.  In the same year he wrote to the Queen requesting compensation for his unmanageable grant of 'McCartan's Country'. 

A neighbour, Lady Cromwell, whose husband was killed on active service, also complained about being harassed by the McCartans.  Essex tried to rectify his disadvantage in the area by making several attempts to split the Native Irish by offering secret 'deals' to selected groups.  The McCartans were well able to defend their patrimony of Kinelarty during the latter part of the sixteenth century.



Chronology of the McCartans 1601-1700

A.D. 1601-1

Mc Cartans fought alongside O'Neill at Kinsale.  Unable to return home after defeat, many of their followers were compelled to settle in remote areas of Cork and Kerry.  Cornelius McCartan of Glanmire and William McCartan of Coshe Mange, both poets and scholars of note, were descendants.  Several of their manuscripts have been preserved in the Royal Irish Academy and in the British Museum.

  Royal Irish Academy mss, M23-46-430, M23-L37-303


A.D. 1601-2

Pardons granted to:

John McCartane of Maynooth, farmer.

William McCartane of same.

Patrick McCartane of same.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 6557. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1601-3

Pardons granted to:

Hugh and William McCartan of Knocker.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 6577. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1602-4

'Sir Arthur Chichester is now undertaking a fort at Kiltultagh, held by Bryan McCartan's men, being a place not only of great strength but of exceedingly importance, for it is the only den that is left for the rebels in all those parts, and but that, neither he nor any other have any footing'.

  Brewer, J. and Bullen, W. (eds). Calendar of the Carew Mss 1601-1603.p299. London 1870


A.D. 1602-5

Pardon: 'Gillernew McCartan. ..provided that the pardon shall extend only to the kinsmen, servants and followers of the said Arthur dwelling in MacGuinness Country.  Murder committed before the rebellion, intrusions on the crown lands and debts to the crown excepted from pardon'.

  De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 6616. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1605-1

General pardon granted to Phelim Mac Artán (McCartan) chief of his name, Pat Mc Artán -

his son, Owen Mac Artán and Donal Oge Mac Artán. Other Mac Artáns named on his list were; Kathleen Oge, Evelin, Margaret and many more. Other natives of Kinelarty were also listed.

  Hamilton, H.C.and  Atkinson, E.G. (eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland. Dublin 1861-63


A.D 1605-2

Sir Arthur Chichester (Lord Deputy) to Sir John Davys, (Solicitor General).

"Warrant to any of His Majesty’s counsel learned in the law, to make out a fiant or form of letters patent to Phelim McCartan, upon his surrender to the King of all the country of Killemartin, otherwise called McCartan Country, of regrant of one moiety thereof to the said Phelim McCartan.  Reciting that it appears of record in chancery that Phelim McCartan chief of his name, and Donell Oge McCartan, by writing dated 19th September last, for a certain consideration of money, did sell to the very good Lord Sir Edward Cromwell, Knight, Lord Cromwell the third part of all that country and territory of Killemartine called McCartan Country in the county of Down in Ulster (the principal or mansion-house of the said Sir Phelim,and the demesne lands thereto belonging excepted); to have and to hold to the said Lord Cromwell, his heirs and assigns forever. And reciting further that the said Lord Cromwell and Phelim McCartan of their own free will, had surrendered unto His Majesty all the said country that the said Lord Cromwell did hold, either jointly or severally, to the intent His Majesty should regrant the one moeity of the premises unto the said Lord Cromwell, his heirs and assigns forever; and the other moiety to the said Phelim McCartan his heirs and assigns forever.  And reciting the King’s commission, dated the 19th of July last, to Sir Arthur Chichester and other commissioners, empowering them to accept surrenders made unto His Majesty by any subjects of his realm holding by the custom of tanistry, or who claim to possess any lands without lawful title derived from His Majesty or the Kings of England and to regrant the same back again to any persons so surrendering, to the surrenderer, his heirs and assigns forever.  The said Lord Deputy authorises any of His Majesty’s learned counsels to prepare a fiant, granting to the said Phelim McCartan his heirs and assigns for ever, one moiety of all the premises before mentioned, to be surrendered as aforesaid ... Howth, 1st October 1605. Reserving unto all and every person and persons their rights and titles in the premises or any part of them".

  Hamilton, H.C. and Atkinson, E.G. (eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland.p324. Dublin 1861-63


A.D. 1605-3

Phelim Mac Artán (McCartan) and his kin, Donal Oge, relinquished one third of their lands

in Kinelarty to Edward Lord Cromwell along with the castle of Dundrum.

  Hamilton, H.C. and Atkinson, E.G.(eds).Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1509-1605. Dublin 1861-63


A.D. 1605-4

Deed in chancery dated 12 Sept.  'Lord Cromwell has undertaken to bring up Patrick McCartan (son of Phelim) in a manner fitting for a gentleman'.

  Trinity College Archives. Dublin Document J.I.63.


A.D. 1608-1

'Mc Cartayne (McCartan) keeps near Lecale.  Has sixty men or more at his command, is not

out himself in arms, nor comes to the officers whereabouts and his men are sometimes with them that are worst'.

  Atkinson, E.G.Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1607-1609, p569 Dublin 1861-3


A.D. 1608-2

'Sir Gregory Cromwell has the superintendeling of Lecale, and of McCartan's Country, being on either part of county Down'.

  Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1608-1610, p402 Dublin 1861-3 


A.D. 1608-3

'In Kinelarty or McCartans Country, some interest was given to Sir Nicholas Malbay but was never

Quietly enjoyed by him.  It's captain was Acholie McCartan'.

  Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1608-1610. Dublin 1861-3


A.D. 1609-1

'Edward Lord Cromwell died 24 Sept 1607, seised of half the territory or region or country of

McCartan's Courte, called Kenaleirke, in Co Down, held under letters patent, reciting a deed

enrolled in chancery dated 12 Sept 1605, by which Phelim McCartan & Donogh Oge McCartan

his brother, in consideration of a sum of money & and of the fact that Lord Cromwell has taken to

bring up Patrick McCartan, Phelim's son, in a manner fitting for a gentleman, & for divers other

considerations, grants to Lord Cromwell, a third part of Killmarten, alias McCartan's Country, with

a third of all castles, tenements etc. in same, excepting Phelim's principal seat & demesne lands.

McCartan's Country was surrendered to the crown by Cromwell and Phelim on 28 Sept 1605, to the

intent that it should be re-granted, half to lord Cromwell and half to Phelim; this is now done by

patent, at 40s. rent reserved from Lord Cromwell's portion, abbeys, priories, & advowsons also


He was also seised of Dundrum & 7 towns belonging thereto, viz.  Morrowlowgh, Watereske,

Balleganaghe, Balleloughe, Ballenfyn, Mawgheer Fawle & Morrogh Aclogon, worth 13s. 4d each,

The abbey of Inch with a castle & other buildings, a cemetery & 1 caricature in the Island of the Inch

with a castle and other buildings, a cemetery and 1 caricature in the island of the Inch & the

demesne lands of the same abbey, the narrowater river, the towns of Ballyreynole, Fawghine Brogie

& Ballevicknegall, half the town of Tremyn alias Tyrmyn, one quarter of the towne of Collinduff,

one quarter of the towne of Erry, the towns of Ballycane & St Johnslands, 2a. in the town and field of

Bally...... & Ballygilbert, the 2 towns called Granges, the reversion of the site of the monastery of

Down, 1a. in same, the town of townland of Tulloghnere, a townland called Ballysherin alias

Lesheboy, 1 townland in the Grange of Ballyntogher, the townlands of Milton alias Ballinmullen

& Ballynegallensheagh the reversion of the site St John's Priory & 1a. in same, the townlands of

Ballengarik, Wodanston alias Ballywodan & Carricgunalle, the reversion of the site of the

Monastery of SS John and Thomas of Down, & 8a, & a close in the precincts of same the townlands

Of Crookedegrange etc'.

  Ireland, Chancery. Calendar of Inquisitions JI63. Dublin 1826


A.D. 1609-2

Newry pardons list. Fiant issued with 45 names including - 'Donnell Mac Agholey Boy McCartan, Brian Dun McCartan, Edmond Mc Shane McCartan, Fergus Mac Shane McCartan, Manus Mc Felomy Duffe McCartan, Owen McCartan, Brian Roe McCartan'. All are stated resident in Outer Tyrie. Blackwood gives Outer Tyrie as being an ancient name for Watertiry - an area north of Dundrum which contains the townlands of - Castlewellan, Clarkhill, Ballymaginaghy,Ballymagreehan,

Leitrim, Maghermayo, Backaderry, Ballydrummond, Benraw, Slievenaboley, Legananny - all in the Barony of Lower Iveagh Lower Half.

  McCavitt, John, Newry Pardons 1609, (Published Pamphlet), 1995


A.D. 1612

Lands belonging to the McCartans at Clough, Craigduff, Knocksticken, Cloughran and Ardilea were granted to Thomas Fitzmaurice 18th Lord of Lixnaw, County Kerry.

  Hanna, J.W.  'Clough', Down Recorder, 11August 1860, ref 2322

  Drew, Rev Thomas. The Annals of Loughinisland, Downpatrick 1863


A.D. 1615

McCartan is reputed to have attacked the Burgesses of Ardglass near Ardtole church and slain many.

  O' Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor,Vol 1 p. London 1887

A.D. 1617

McCartan lands, including those of Magheraknock, and Corgaghcreevy, were assigned to Sir Francis Annesley - afterwards Baron Mountnorris and Viscount Valentia.

  Drew, Rev Thomas, The Annals of Loughinisland. Downpatrick 1863


A.D. 1621

Eleanor McCartan married Matthew Forde. They resided in Fishamble Street, Dublin. Matthew Forde was the purchaser of  Lord Cromwell’s interest in Kinelarty for £8,000.  Eleanor had four children to Matthew.   Matthew outlived Eleanor and all of the children.

  Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Irish Family Records, pp 66/67. London 1976


A.D. 1623

Patrick McCartan of Ballykine sat on jury in determining title to lands at Rathmullan, County Down.

 Ireland, Chancery. Calendar of Inquisitions. Dublin 1826


A.D. 1626

Christened Katherine, daughter to Matthew Forde and Elinor McCartan, in St John's, Dublin.

  Mills, James. (ed), The Registry of St John the Evangelist.Dublin 1906


A.D. 1627

H. Kinaston to Lord Falkland:

Gives account of armed raiders, woodkerne, who came into a house in Dundrum, belonging to Thomas Jordan, in the night and took away money.  They further attacked and beat those who waded across the river to help Jordan in response to his cries.  Had it been low tide and the towns-people being able to come together, the kerne could not have escaped it 'being a fair moonshine night.  They live in Kymelarty (Kinelarty) in McCartan's country, where soldiers should be quartered till they are brought in.  They are all well armed and fearless'.

Atkinson, E.G. Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1627. Dublin 1861-3



Owen McCartan acknowledges the receipt from Mr Dowdall of Killaly of twenty two shillings sterling and fifty eight shillings from John Dowdall Fitzjames left as a legacy by Brian O'Birne, priest, May 6 1628, signed, Owen McCartan.

  National Library Dublin. Document D16098



Interred, Katherine, daughter of Mattew Forde and Elinor McCartan. 7th February, in St John's Dublin.

  Mills, James. (ed), The Registry of St John the Evangelist p19. Dublin 1906


A.D. 1634

Phelim McCartan of Ballynahinch mentioned in inquisition.  This legal document lists residents and abodes in Kinelarty.

 Ireland, Chancery. Calendar of Inquisitions No50. Dublin 1820


A.D. 1635

Patrick McCartan of Kynalartie mentioned in inquisition.  This document lists jurors that were appointed to arbitrate on land ownership.

 Ireland, Chancery. Calendar of Inquisitions No66. Dublin 1826

A.D. 1639

The initials PMC along with the above date were inscribed above the doorway of Mc Cartan’s chapel in Loughinisland. This inscription has a striking similarity to one in the doorway of the ancient church at Tullynakill, near Comber. (See commentary on the McCartans 1601-1700.)

O' Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor,Vol 1 p87. Dublin 1887


A.D. 1641-1

Dublin Castle issued £300 reward for the head of Patrick McCartan. Amongst the signatories of this warrant was Adam Loftus, who was related to the same Patrick Mc Cartan through marriage.  (See commentary on the McCartans 1601-1700)

  Hamilton, H.C. and Atkinson E.G.(eds). Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland 1641. Dublin 1861-1863


A.D. 1641-2

Henry McCartan, a native of Kinelarty and resident in France was appointed quarter-master to the army of Owen Roe O' Neill. (See commentary on the McCartans 1601-1700)

  Gilbert, JT. History of Affairs in Ireland 1641/42. Dublin 1976


A.D. 1641-3

McCartans and Magennises attacked and captured the town of Newry. They held this town for six months, when it was relieved by a large army led by Conway and Munroe.

  Gilbert, J.T., History of Affairs in Ireland 1641/1642. Dublin 1976


A.D. 1642-1

Haec ille, qui ibidem tradit se Conni votum velum motu proprio comitiis prop usuisse, et Mox Mac Cartanum, suae nobilis familae coraphaeum tantandem et Conni impensas obtulisse, sed aliorum neminem ejus votum secundasse, imo nonnallos Mac Cartano obstrepuisse, et palam respondisse ne denarium quidem a se contribuendum.

O'Ferrall, B. and O'Connell, D. Commentarius Rinuccinianus vol 1, p 332 Dublin


A.D. 1642-2

Quare bellum velut unicum status depositi remedium inchoarunt ad 23 Octobris 1641, Rege ex Anglia in Scotcam jam profecto, quidam Ultoniae proceres, nobilisque, praesetim Cornelius Maguirius, Iniskilliniae Baro, Philemius vel (O'Nellus, Eques auratus, O Relii, Mac Donalde, O'Cahani. Connus Magnesius, Census Equestris, Mac Cartanus, superioris et inferiosis, Clanniboriae O'Neill, Mac Rorie et aboriginum Ultoniensium alii Plurimi

O'Ferrall, B. and O'Connell, D. Commentarius Rinuccinianus vol 1, p 251. Dublin


A.D. 1642-3

Lord Evack McCartan with Con and Rory McMagennis attacked the Scots at Kilwarlin Wood.  Two McCartan leaders and 150 of their men were killed.

Fitzpatrick, Thomas. Bloody Bridge and the 1642 Insurrection.  New York 1972


A.D. 1642-4

Monroe, Robert, letter to General Leslie.  'Patrick McCartan at a meeting in Tynan, County Armagh employed Con O' Neill, a nephew of Owen Roe to journey to France and hasten immediate help'.

  Marshal, John, J. History of the Parish of Tynan, Dungannon  1932




A.D. 1642-5

McCartan, McTuall and others confronted the Scots leaving 300 of their enemy


  Bigger, Francis, Joseph. Ulster Journal of Archaeology. UJA Vol 12. Belfast 1906


A.D. 1642-6

Copy of examination of Henry McCartan major domo of Owen Roe O'Neill in Flanders, recorded. (See commentary on the McCartans 1601-1700)

  Historic Manuscripts Commission, Feb12 Rep5. App, p7 Dublin 1876.


A.D. 1642-7

McCartan’s dwelling at Anadorn was burned and destroyed by a division commanded by Colonel Chichester.

  Fitzpatrick, Thomas. The  Bloody Bridge and the 1642 Insurrection. New York 1972


A.D. 1642-8

Culmore castle, June 21, Sir Robert Stuart to the Lord Justices: 'They were within eight miles of this place.  The chefe men that were with Sir Phelim O'Neill upon this expedition were, Rory McGuire, some of the McMahons, the McGennises, McCartan and O'Cahan ....consisting of 6,000 foot and 500 horse'.

  Hogan, James. (ed), Letters and papers relating to the Irish rebellion, Dublin 1936


A.D. 1643

Prisoner's description of Charlemont Fort, whilst occupied by Owen Roe O'Neill

'Also there came thither to advise with the said Owen several times these men vizt the baron of Slane, the Lord Iveagh, McCartan of the county Down, the Lord of Lowth, McKena, McMahon of the county Monaghan, the chief Quins, the O'Hagans, the O'Neills and Cullakitta's sons and their followers together with Michael Dunn the Elder.  Their provisions lie over the gatehouse and not in the castle'.

  Gilbert, JT. A Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland 1641/42.Dublin 1893


A.D. 1647

Hugh Mc Cartan was appointed a member of the General Assembly of Kilkenny.

  O' Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor,Vol 1 p87. London 1887


A.D. 1650

'James Mc Cartan, chieftain of his name, was killed at the Battle of Tyrone'.

  Parliamentary Papers 1650, letter of Henry Sobell-Parliamentary Clerk


A.D. 1653

Patrick and Owen McCartan, were called before commissioners Blundell and Rawdon, at Carrickfergus, for examination of their activities during the 1641 insurrection.  They were asked to prove their innocence during the 1641 insurrection.  For them to be found innocent they had to provide evidence that their participation had been for the government.  The commission ruled that all McCartan land was to be confiscated.  Grantees were Sir George Rawdon, Sir William Petty and Mrs Traille.  Servitors, undertakers and army officers benefited when the land was further divided.  The Annesley and Cosslett families held estates for many generations. (see appendix 1 for Cosslett)


  Sir William Petty commenced compilation of his parish maps of Kinelarty.  Patrick and Owen McCartan’s ‘forfeited lands’ are detailed on these maps and the associated documents (see appendix 2 for Petty Maps). 

  Public Record Office Northern Ireland. Document D597/4 

  Trinity College Dublin. 1642 Deposition Folios, 169/171


A.D. 1654

Several McCartan families were compelled to move to Connaught. The trek was made during winter and many perished in severe weather.  Surviving families settled in the baronies of Carra, Claremorris, and Kilmaine, near the Galway/Mayo border. Their descendants can be found in this area today.

  O'Tuama and Kinsella (eds). An Dunaíre. O'Meallan Dorca.'An Dibirt go Connachta'.

  Simington, Robert.The Transplantion to Connaught 1654-1658, p Dublin 1970


A.D. 1656-1

List of transplanted Irish:  Daniel McCartan of Crintinill (Creevytenant) county Down,. 655 acres.  Date of decree 21 May 1656, Date of final settlement 2 Jan 1656.

  Gilbert, J. Report of the manuscripts of the Marquis of Ormond. p126. London 1899


A.D. 1656-2

List of transplanted Irish:  Mary McCartan, widow of the county Down.  Date of decree 19 June. Date of final settlement 25 June.

  Gilbert, J. Report of the manuscripts of the Marquis of Ormond p129 London 1899


A.D. 1659-1

Philomy McCartan was a titulado for the baronies of Upper Iveagh and also parts of Kinelarty.

  Pender, S. - Parliamentary Census pp 76-77. Dublin 1939


A.D. 1659-2

Lease under commission dated 26th September to Gerald, Earl of Kildare, Kinelarty and surrounds.

De Burca, E. (ed). The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, No 1659. Dublin 1994


A.D. 1661

Patrick McCartan of Lough Nillan (Loughinisland) was under the wardship of Sir John Boys, gentleman of the privy Chamber in Ordinary.

  E.G. Atkinson.Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1660-62, p393 Dublin 1861-3


A.D. 1662

Henry McCartan, former quarter-master to Owen Roe O' Neill, made an application for permit to live in Germany.  He represented that he was a soldier in the services of the Emporer and went to Ireland to seek restitution of his property;  as he had not been successful, he wishes to return to Germany.

  Jennings, Brendan. Wild Geese in Spanish Flanders 1582-1800, p451 ref 2620


A.D. 1666-1

Lord lieutenant offered a £20 reward for the capture of Bryan McCartan, Art Roe Magennis, Magee, Morgan and O' Hanlon. They were suspected of committing 'murders' in County Louth.

  Hamilton and Atkins, Calender of Documents relating to Ireland - National Library of Ireland, Dublin


A.D. 1666-2

Rebels in county Louth include Bryan McCartan:

'A reward of £20 shall be paid by the Sheriff for any person who brings in any of the aforesaid proclaimed persons or his head after 20 Dec aforesaid'.

  E.G. Atkinson.Calendar of State Papers of Ireland. 1666-69, p236 Dublin 1861-3


A.D. 1676

Mrs Aston, daughter-in-law to Patrick McCartan, by her first marriage, sued Sir William Petty and Sir George Rawdon. She claimed that Patrick McCartan (her father-in-law) had settled upon her an annuity of £120 chargeable upon lands in the barony of Kinelarty. Judgement was made in her favour.

  Beckett Mathew, Sir George Rawdon.  A Sketch of his Life and Times. p92-3, Belfast. 1935


A.D. 1680-1

John McCartan married Bridget Forde, daughter of Luke Forde, of Coolgreaney, county Wexford. This relationship claims President DeGaulle of France as a direct descendant. The Forde family also own the Seaforde estate in county Down.

  Public Record Office Northern Ireland. D1471/1, Sir William Betham - A.D. 1687


A.D. 1680-2

John McCartan was appointed commissioner for county Down. The intended purpose of this appointment was to collect revenue for James II.

 O' Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor,Vol 1 p51. London 1887


A.D. 1691-1

Attainted at Banbridge court were John and Patrick McCartan of Ballydromroe, Patrick McCartan of Moylisk, Arthur and Owen McCartan of Magheraknock and James McCartan of Tullyrusk.

  Drew, Rev Thomas. The Annals of Loughinisland. Downpatrick 1863


A.D. 1691-2

After the defeat of James II at the Boyne, John McCartan and his son, Anthony, fled to France. Both joined Irish regiments in the French army. General Charles deGaulle, former president of France, is a direct descendant. (see appendix 2)

  Public Record Office Northern Ireland. D1471/1


A.D. 1698

Pat Mac Phelim Boy and Phelim McCartan were attainted at Downpatrick court.

   Morrin, J.(ed).Calendar of Patent Rolls. Dublin 1861-63


Synopsis of Ulster's History 1601-1700

In 1600 Mountjoy[35] was appointed lord deputy.  On 16th May in the same year Sir Henry Docwra landed at Culmore on Lough Foyle with 4000 soldiers and 200 cavalry.  Once a fort was built, Docwra marched on Derry.  Before long Sir Cahir O'Doherty, Art O'Neill and Niall Garbh O'Donnell joined this English force.

Meanwhile in southern Ulster Hugh O'Neill was successfully guarding the Moyry Pass from Mountjoy.  When he mysteriously withdrew from his vantage point Mountjoy marched into Ulster unopposed.  This in hindsight was a major strategic blunder.  Ulster chieftains were isolated and compelled to defend on several fronts against three armies, Docwra, Mounjoy and Chichester.

During these confrontations Hugh O'Neill received word that a Spanish fleet had landed in Kinsale and requested his presence.  O'Neill's decision to go there is also considered by many historians as another strategic blunder.  Mountjoy, after destroying the O'Neill coronation stone at Tullyhogue also marched south.  O'Donnell joined O'Neill to take a mountainous route to Kinsale whereas Mountjoy journeyed through easier terrain and arrived first, with 11,000 foot and 850 horse.  Further blunders and ill luck on the Irish side cost them dearly.  An English spy poisoned O'Donnell and food was on short supply due to Chichester having laid waste the countryside.  Kinsale,[36] 1602 has gone down in history as a costly day for the native Irish.

After defeat O'Neill returned north and was offered 'generous' terms and a pardon at the Treaty of Mellifont[37] (1603).  Unknown to O'Neill, Elizabeth had died six days before he signed this treaty.  Mountjoy felt his concealment favoured him in the negotiations.  Sir Arthur Chichester was appointed Lord Deputy in 1605.  Shortly after his appointment a commission was set up for rectifying defective titles.  This was seen as a ploy to diminish native ownership.  Following this, Sir John Davies, the Attorney General, set out to undo the Treaty of Mellifont and to undermine the remaining power of the Northern Gaels.  There was also evidence of imminent arrests.  In 1607 O'Neill, O'Donnell, Maguire and many others set sail from Rathmullan in county Donegal, never to return.  This 'Flight of the Earls' was intended to seek help on the continent and return with a strong Spanish force.  O'Neill tried hard but his pleas for support were unsuccessful

In 1608 the Commission to remedy defective titles declared all the 'Wild Geese' outlaws and their lands were confiscated.  Chichester then proposed plantation of all these confiscated lands to the new King, James I.  Sir Cahir O'Doherty, from Inishowen, who had joined Docwra's army, realised he was about to loose his patrimony.  Therefore he decided to lead a revolt against the English.  After a row with Sir George Paulet, the new governor of Derry, O'Doherty captured Culmore Fort and burned Derry and Strabane.  The O'Cahans and O'Hanlons joined O'Doherty but Chichester retalliated.  O'Doherty was killed at the Rock of Doon.  Shortly after, Chichester took full advantage of the situation and claimed Inishowen for himself.  Further south, after negotiations, Clandeboy was divided between Montgomery, Hamilton and Conn O'Neill.  In the meantime the Crown demanded surrender of all land, not already confiscated, for regrant.  These regrants stipulated that all Irish estate owners must sell one third to an Englishman.  These and other plantation policies were rapidly implemented.  Undertakers had to be English or Scottish Protestants and also prepared to pay rent to the King.  Any Irish granted portions had to have planters as neighbours and pay double the normal rents.  Furthermore their leases only lasted one lifetime.  Settlers from southern Scotland and the border counties arrived in great numbers and settled in counties: Down, Armagh and Fermanagh.  Few of them took up residence in county Coleraine.  The abrasive O'Cahans had discouraged them.  To overcome this Sir Thomas Philips persuaded a group of London companies to come over on attractive terms.  James granted these companies all of county Coleraine, the barony of Loughinsholin, and parts of Donegal and Antrim.  The society was name The Honourable Irish Society and became responsible for the newly named county of Londonderry.  There were fifty-five London companies which were arranged into twelve associations.  Lots were drawn between them to determine who got what land.

By 1614 James I was unhappy with the outcome of the plantation.  He reckoned its purpose was to clear out and pauperise the native Irish.  This policy resulted in great hardships for the native Irish. In 1633 Thomas Wentworth came over to raise money for the new king Charles I.  Fines were imposed on many and in some cases the undertaker's rents were doubled.  This and measures against the Catholic Church caused great resentment amongst the native Irish.  The outcome of all this was the Insurrection of 1641.

The King became unhappy with Wentworth leading to his execution.  His treatment of the London companies and the harassing of Presbyterians led to his downfall.  The King's position was gradually weakened, at this time,due to resistance in Scotland and a strong opposition in parliament.  Civil was in England seemed inevitable.  The Gaelic lords saw this as an opportunity to recover their lands.  Although financially ruined they were compelled to pay fines for non-attendance to the established church.  Plans were hatched to capture Dublin Castle and simultaneously start a revolt in the North.  Dublin Castle were forewarned by an  informer and the siege there was unsuccessful.  In the North Phelim O'Neill led the insurrection and had several successes, including Newry and Charlemont fort.

In April 1642 Major General Robert Munro[38] landed at Carrickfergus with a Scottish army and marched south.  He took no prisoners and journeyed through Kilwarlin and Loughbrickland to recover Newry. 

In July 1642 Owen Roe O'Neill landed at Doe Castle, in Donegal, with a formidable force.  In the meantime, the Confederate Catholics of Ireland formed their own parliament in Kilkenny while Owen Roe got his army organised for battle.  In 1646, with 6,000, men he marched southwards.  At Benburb,[39] in county Tyrone, he defeated Munro's army.

Owen Roe relaxed and did not capitalise on this victory.  At this time, the civil was raging in England.  The Royalists had been defeated at Marston Moor (1645) and Naseby (1649).  This was followed by the execution of Charles I and the rise of the Parliamentarians.  Oliver Cromwell arrived in Ireland with a well-trained army.  He had realised the dangers of the Royalists joining with the Irish.  He waged war on Drogheda then Wexford.  Both Royalists and the Irish were victims in ruthless massacres.  Following this, he sent Colonel Robert Venables to subdue the North.  About this time Owen Roe O'Neill died mysteriously.  Rumours suggest that he was poisoned by an English spy.  The now disorganised native Irish offered little resistance.  Many were executed and over 15,000 of their fighting men were exiled to places such as the West Indies.  More land was confiscated leading to a decimation of the Gaelic society.  This was another milestone in Irish History, the commencement of a Protestant ascendancy. 

Eventually, Cromwell was called back to England, reprimanded on domestic issues, and executed in 1658.  In 1660 Charles II was proclaimed King and the parliament in Dublin was restored.  This was followed in 1662 with the Act of Settlement.  This act gave rights to 'loyal papists'.  Such concessions to Catholics were strongly opposed by Protestants and had little effect.

By 1688, less than 4% of land in Ulster, other than Antrim, was owned by the native Irish.  With no land or income many became 'outlaws' and took to the hills and woods.  They were called 'tories' and the most famous of them was the fearless Redmond O'Hanlon.  Eventually, he was betrayed and killed near Mayobridge in 1681.  In the same year Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh was hanged, drawn and quartered for allegedly plotting against the King.   During these times Catholic worship was confined to 'Mass rocks'.

In 1685 James II, a Catholic, became King of England.  This alarmed the Irish Protestants .  They feared the land that they occupied would be returned to the native Irish.  Richard Talbot[40], a Catholic survivor of Cromwell's siege at Drogheda, became a representative of James II in Ireland.  In 1685 he was created Earl of Tyrconnail and then became Lord Deputy in 1687.  He immediately began to appoint Catholics to important government positions.  Protestant felt increasingly threatened.  In the meantime, on the continent, William of Orange also felt threatened by Louis XIV of France.  The nobility of England turned to William for help and to protect their interests.  William saw this as a strategic opportunity and landed at Brixham in November 1688.  William and his wife Mary declared themselves joint rulers of England, Scotland, and Ireland.  James gathered an army in France and landed in Ireland the following March.

In 1689 a counsel of Protestant gentlemen met in Loughbrickland under the leaderhip of Lord Mount - Alexander to plan resistance to Lord Deputy, Tyrconnell.  Plans were laid to undermine the authority of James II.  Further north, James's ally, Lord Antrim, attacked Derry with 1300 Catholic redshanks.  James travelled to Derry to oversee matters.  His men had great difficulty in penetrating the defended walls.  They then decided to cut off supplies and starve the defenders.  James's men blocked off Lough Foyle at Culmore with guns and erected a large boom across the river to prevent supply ships getting upstream.  Major Percy Kirke sailed into Lough Foyle with 30 vessels with the intention of relieving Derry.  He waited for six weeks, then received orders from London to relieve Derry.  One of his ships, 'The Mountjoy', broke the boom and Derry was relieved after 105 days.

Jacobites suffered further setbacks at Enniskillen and Newtownbutler.  On 13th August 1689 William's general, the Duke of Schomberg, landed an army at Ballyholme Bay.  Carrickfergus was taken from the Jacobites.  Then Schomberg marched south.  He lost around half his men due to fever and found himself in a weak precarious position.  On hearing this King William decided to go to Ireland with major reinforcements.

On 14 June 1690 King William accompanied 300 vessels into Belfast Lough.  This well-equipped army marched south through Lisburn, Newry and camped to the north of the river Boyne.  Williamites numbered 36,000, around 10,000 more than the Jacobites.  James's army was also inferior in firepower.  Schomberg and Rev George Walker, who was prominent in the defence of Derry, died at the Boyne.  This battle was not a complete victory as many of the Irish and French survived and fought on throughout Ireland for another year in places such as Limerick and Aughrim.  Despite this, the Battle of the Boyne[41] (1690) did ensure the survival of the plantation.

The Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691.  Through this agreement, 15,000 Jacobian soldiers emigrated to serve Louis XIV of France.  Those who stayed and gave allegiance were to keep their lands.  Catholics were to have freedom of worship, and only Protestants were to live inside the walls of Limerick and Galway.  When William summoned his first parliament in 1692 Protestants objected strongly to the terms of the Treaty of Limerick.  It was not ratified and further confiscation of land was imposed.  This reduced land owned by Catholics from 22% in 1688 to 14% in the 1690's.  Penal laws were introduced in 1695.  Catholics were prevented from educating their children, owning a decent horse, bearing arms and purchasing land.  Thus, the Irish Parliament was controlled entirely by the landed gentry of the Established Church.  Their policies kept the majority Catholic population in subjection.

Commentary of the McCartans 1601-1700

Tradition reckons the McCartans were well represented at the battle of Kinsale (1601).  The defeat scattered many of them.  Confiscation and threats of imprisonment deterred many from returning home.  Some reluctantly took up residence in remote areas of County Cork.  Amongst descendants from these were two poet-scholars of note, Cornelius McCartan of Glanmire and William McCartan of Coshe Mange.  Their manuscripts[42] and books, all in Gaelic, are preserved in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin and in the British Museum.

What was life like in Kinelarty and Dufferin after Kinsale?  The Calendar of State Papers 1602[43] give an interesting insight.  These documents record petitions made by English army officers requesting bounties for their services to the Crown.  Most of these requests were channelled to Secretary Cecil via Sir Arthur Chichester.  Sir Ralf Lane wished to be rewarded for cutting off supply routes to the Irish.  He stated that Bryan McArt had built a castle at Ringhaddy, on the shores of Strangford Lough.  He described how as many as twenty barques arrived there from Scotland each week to supply the rebels with provisions and arms.  He goes on to describe how the rebels stored their supplies on crannogs on Lough Henney, Logh Lea and Lough Grannagh.  Also how the rebels broke out in rebellion when they heard the Spaniards had arrived.  Included are details of how many he hanged in the area and how he kept a spiked head on display as a deterrent.  William Debdall, constable of Ringahaddy, had similar stories to tell.  They competed for recognition from the Queen.  Kinelarty and surrounds became a human hunting ground.

Bryan McCartan returned north to become an 'outlaw'.  He harassed government officials and troops for many years.  Eventually he fled to county Louth where he became allied with the O'Hanlons.  Others left Ireland and joined armies throughout Europe.  Some were to return to Ireland in 1642 with Owen Roe O'Neill to play their role at the battle of Benburb.  Owen Roe's quartermaster was Henry McCartan.

In 1605 Chichester granted a pardon to all the McCartans.  At the same time he introduced legislation, which was designed to both Anglicise and pauperise them.  Firstly, Phelim and Donal Og were compelled to sell one third of their land to Sir Edward Cromwell.  Secondly, they were obliged to 'surrender and regrant' the remainder.  This process made land amenable to English law.  Thirdly Phelim McCartan's eldest son was to be reared in the ways of the English.  Fourthly Leases on land were of short duration.  In his book, 'History of Down and Connor', Father James O'Laverty strongly criticised Phelim McCartan for signing the agreement which implemented the procedure.  O'Laverty, whose mother was a McCartan, stated that Phelim betrayed the clan.  According to the Brehon laws the land belonged to the clan and not any individual.  Chieftains could only hold land in trust for the clan.

The government then made a grant of land adjacent to Kinelarty to Sir Nicholas Malbay, for services rendered.  He was instructed to keep watch on his neighbours, Phelim, and Acholie McCartan.  The McCartans resented this intrusion and made life uncomfortable for Malbay.  Eventually Malbay became despondent with this area and claimed some compensation from government before leaving.  In 1612 the McCartans received yet another general pardon after Thomas Fitzmaurice, Earl of Lixnaw, Co Kerry, was granted lands at Clough, Craigduff, Knocksticken, Cloughran, and Ardilea.  Fitzmaurice also encountered resistence.  In one incident the McCartans are reputed to have burnt the church at Ardtole and slain many of the congregation.  Shortly after in 1617, to enhance further the government's interests, Sir Francis Annesley, afterwards Baron Mountnorris and Viscount Valentia, received grants of the lands in the northern part of Kinelarty.  The area was that of Magheraknock, Creevytennant and Corgacreevy, just north of Ballynahinch.

Lord Edward Cromwell died in 1607.  His estates were badly managed thereafter.  Eventually Mathew Forde, who owned an estate near Coolgreaney in Co Wexford, purchased all of Cromwell's land (formerly McCartan territory) for £8,000.  During these times marriages were often used to avoid disputes.  This was probably the case when in 1621 Mathew Forde married Eleanor McCartan.  Besides the estates in Seaforde and Coolgreaney they had a townhouse, near the parliament in Dublin, at 21, Fishamble Street.  Matthew was an M.P. for Wexford, clerk of the Crown Peace and Assize and clerk of Nisi Prius before Comms.  His titles to Seaforde and Coolgreaney were confirmed in 1637.

 Matthew and Eleanor had four children.  Their son Nicholas[44] lived in Killyleagh and was admitted as Barrister of Law at Lincoln's Inn in 1634.  He was also a captain in Lord Kildare's regiment.  Nicholas married Elizabeth Loftus, third daughter of Sir Adam Loftus of Rathfarnham, Knight.  Sir Adam was a grandson of Adam Loftus, Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.  Nicholas and Elizabeth had three children, Matthew, Andrew and Margaret.  In 1650 Nicholas died and was interred in St John's Dublin.  Shortly after his widow re-married.  Her new husband was Edward Muschamp of Drumnakelly, Seaforde, County Down.

Matthew Forde outlived his four children and was succeeded by his grandnephew, also called Matthew.  Matthew II was a son of Luke Forde of Coolgreaney, CountyWexford.  He became a Justice of the Peace for CountyDown, an M.P., and High Sheriff for CountyWexford.  Doctor Patrick Delaney, dean of Down Cathedral once, when speaking of the friends of the renowned Dean of St Patricks, said:

'Another of Swift's associates was Mr Matthew Forde, a man of family and fortune, a fine gentleman and the best lay scholar of his time and nation'. 

Matthew II had a sister called Bridget.  Bridget became the second Forde to marry a McCartan.  Bridget married John McCartan, who was to become a leader of the Jacobites during the upheaval of 1690.  After the Treaty of Limerick John, Bridget and son Anthony fled to France.  As already mentioned General Charles De Gaulle was a direct descendant.

It is interesting to note that Adam Loftus, whose third daughter married Nicholas, son of Matthew Forde I and Eleanor McCartan signed a warrant in 1642 for the arrest dead or alive of Patrick McCartan, reward, £300.  It is probable that was the same Patrick who was to be 'educated in a gentleman-like fashion' by Lord Cromwell.

During the 1642 insurrection McCartan and McGuinness attacked and captured Newry.  Initially most of the McCartan resistance was in CountyDown, with gorilla attacks.  In one encounter McCartan attacked the Scots leaving over 300 dead.  In another, at Kilwarlin Wood[45] (Hillsboro), McCartans lost two of their leaders and 150 men.  Around this time an English spy reported Patrick McCartan for employing Con O'Neill, a nephew of Owen Roe, to journey to France and hasten help.  When Owen Roe eventually arrived in Ireland another spy reported that he witnessed Owen McCartan visit Owen Roe several times at Charlemont Fort.  On June 21 1642 Sir Robert Stuart reported from Culmore Fort in Derry to the Lord Justices that the McCartans were among an army of 6,000 foot and 500 horse that were within eight miles of that place.

A large army led by Generals Munroe, Conway and Chichester eventually pursued the Irish in county Down.  Chichester laid waste to all the land and houses from Newry through to McCartans castle at Loughinisland.  One of his troops, called Pike,  recorded this event:

'On Tuesday the l0th of May the army met together and camped in the middle of McCartan's woods ... there were at least 800 baggage horses laden with the spoil of the country, and I think I speak within compass if I say 3,000 cows, but as they came this day through the thickies of McCartan's woods... the rogues shot at them from behind trees and killed the lieutenant of Lord Conway's troop...On Wednesday the army marched through the rest of McCartan's woods with the aforesaid laden horses and cows, marching all together, but spreading the foot abroad in the woods to burn the cabins which were built there and to clear the woods before them'.

The 1642 depositions[46] in Trinity College Dublin have many references to the McCartans from 'witnesses'.  Historians have proved conclusively that this archive was created as propaganda and is prone to exaggeration and inaccuracies.  Many of the statements are not first hand accounts but stories related by third parties.  They were designed to facilitate the arrest, trial, conviction and land confiscation of those involved in the 1642 insurrection.  For example a statement supposedly from Nicholas Ward of Clough gave incriminating evidence against Owen and Patrick McCartan.  The deponent did not sign this statement.  Despite this, the Commonwealth Commissioners, 'George Blundell and George Rawdon' countersigned it.  This was used as evidence in their trial at Carrickfergus in 1652 for their part in the 1642 insurrection.  Both Blundell and Rawdon were conveniently granted what remained of the McCartan land, in the Cromwellian settlements.

Having gained control the English government instructed William Petty[47] to map the entire area.  The cartographers were instructed to record the allocation of land amongst servitors and army officers.  These Maps give the names of the original owner, their religion, attainted lands, the quality of the ground, 'discovery lands', and the name and rank of the new owner.  For most of Kinelarty, Patrick and Owen McCartan are recorded as the original owners with Sir George Rawdon Sir William Petty and Mrs Traille as the new owners.  Simington, in his book, 'Transportations to Connaught[48]', records in 1656 two McCartan families being removed from their lands at Magheraknock and Corgacreevy to Kilmaine on the Galway/Mayo border.  The McCartan surname is extent in that part of Connaught to this day.

In 1659 Philomy McCartan was named as titulado for most of the lands between Hilltown and Castlewellan..  Hugh McCartan was a prominent member of the Catholic Confederation Parliament in Kilkenny.  This body set up to protect Catholics and restore their confiscated property.  When James II came to power, restoration became a distinct possibility.  The state papers refer to Patrick McCartan being in the 'wardship' of Sir John Boys, gentleman of the Privy Chamber in Ordinary.  This would suggest he was either confined to a certain area or still in prison.  A bounty was still on the head of Bryan McCartan who had roamed south Ulster with Redmond O'Hanlon. 

In 1677 Lettice Aston, a daughter of Sir William Brownlow of Lurgan and his wife Elinor O' Doherty, succeeded in a law suite[49] against Sir William Petty and Sir George Rawdon. She claimed that Phelim McCartan, the father of her first husband Patrick McCartan, had settled upon her an annuity of £120 chargeable on the lands of Kinelarty.  Her case was such that she was entitled to payment event when the land had been confiscated.  The outcome was determined in her favour with £500 compensation being granted. 

Luke Forde,[50]of Coolgreaney was closely related to Matthew Forde although his political allegiance differed greatly.  After the Treaty of Limerick, all the remaining McCartans in county Down were attainted at courts in Banbridge and Downpatrick.  This was when John and Bridget McCartan fled to France with their young son Anthony. Anthony became a captain in a French regiment and fought at Fontenoy (1745).  John returned to Ireland for in 1726.  This is confirmed by a deposition recently discovered in the Forde archive. Interestingly many of the defeated English officers at Fontenoy were direct descendants of the colonists who acquired land in Kinelarty from plantation times.  Price, Forde, Annesley, Maxwell, Rawdon, Meade families were all well represented.  After the last decade of the seventeenth century the McCartans power declined permanently in county Down.


Chronology of the McCartans 1701-1810

A.D. 1700

Theophilus McCartan, future bishop of Down and Connor, was born at Aughnagun, near Mayobridge.

  O'Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of the History of the Diocese of Down and Connor,Vol 1 p98. London 1887


A.D. 1702

McCartan families from Magheramayo near Castlewellan fled their homesteads.  They trekked overland to the Longford/Leitrim area. Descendants of these families can be found in the Ballinamore, County Leitrim.

  Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. - Document T825


A.D. 1708

Last will and testament of Patrick Bellew, native of County Louth.  He was uncle to Mary Fleming, wife to Phelim McCartan.  'To my niece and nephew Phelim McCartan and Mary Mc Cartan I leave the lands at Mountbellew, County Galway, and Thomastown, County Louth, ... sixty nine pounds and four shillings to be provided for my funeral expenses and burial at Loughinisland, County Down'.

  Public Record Office of Northern Ireland - Prerogative Wills T664/P13


A.D. 1711

Daniel McCartan of Downpatrick, son of John McCartan, received B.A. from Trinity College, Dublin. His sponsor was a Mr Sedgewick.

  Dublin University (T.C.D.), Alumnii 1591-1891, p383. Dublin 1892


A.D. 1717

In this year Charles Campbell issued a deed which recited a 'common recovery' against Edward Trevor.  Parties names include: Hugh and Owen McCartan of Crossan, alias Carricrasson, alias Ballycarrycrossan. 

  Public Record Office Northern Ireland. T845 (35)


A.D. 1728

Patrick Bellew, recently deceased, in his will, bequeathed estates at Knock Abbey, Co Louth and MountBellew, Co Galway to his niece and her husband, Mary and Philemon McCartan.

  Public Record Office Northern Ireland. Prerogative wills, T664/P13


A.D. 1735

Dominick and Philomy McCartan 'lease' townland of Clanvaraghan from Richard Johnstone.

  Registry of Deeds, Kings Inn.  Lib 80 page 457.


A.D. 1736

John Mc Cartan, father of Philomy and Dominick, died aged 96 years.  He was buried in McCartan’s chapel, Loughinisland.

 O' Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor,Vol 1, p89 Dublin 1887


A.D. 1744

Ursula McCartan, daughter of Philomy McCartan, married James Savage of Barrhall, near Portaferry, County Down. They inherited the estates in Mountbellew, County Galway, and Thomastown, County Louth.  The penal laws made rights to title and succession to these properties difficult.  The resulting legal dispute lasted over forty years.

  Harvey, Karen. The Bellews of Mountbellew,p 51. Dublin 1998


A.D. 1761

Philomy McCartan, son of John McCartan, died and was buried in McCartan’s chapel Loughinisland. Philomy had residences in Faranfad and Drumnacoyle. His wife, Mary Fleming, was grandaughter and heiress to Roger Bellew of Thomastown, County Louth and Mountbellew, County Galway.

  Harvey, Karen. The Bellews of Mountbellew,p51. .Dublin 1998


A.D. 1762

Dominick Mc Cartan of Clanvaraghan House - son of John McCartan, and Bishop Theophilus Mc Cartan each subscribed £5 to the cost of translating from Latin to Irish and publishing 'The Imitations of Christ', by Thomas A Kempis.

  Brioscu, Anna. A Branch of the McCartans, p7. Dublin 1999


A.D. 1765

Felix McCartan, Dunlavin County Armagh.  Conformity certificate 10 June 1765.  Enrolled 11 June1765.

  O'Byrne Eileen (ed) Convert Rolls  p171 Dublin 1981


A.D. 1766

Census by local minister to the House of Lords: 'Clanvaraghan - Dominick McCartan married to Ann O' Neill of Ballymoney (Kilcoo) - have two sons and three daughters, two grandchildren and seven servants'.

  Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Parliamentary Census 1766


A.D. 1769

A lease of lands to several McCartans on the shores of Lough Garadice, County Leitrim was issued in this year.  They are direct descendants of the Down McCartans and their descendants can be found in the Ballinamore area today.

  Registry of Deeds, Kings Inn, L225, P294, No 146157


A.D. 1772

Dominick McCartan, son of John and brother of Philomy, died, aged 78 years and was buried in Loughinisland.

 O' Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor,Vol 1 p89 London 1887


A.D. 1773

Bishop Theophilus McCartan in this year donated an inscribed chalice to be kept in perpetuity by clergy of the McCartan surname.

 O' Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor,Vol 1. London 1887


A.D. 1778

Theophilus McCartan, bishop of Down and Connor, died at Loughinisland, aged 78 years.

  O'Laverty, Rev James. An Historical Account of theHistory of the Diocese of Down and Connor,Vol 1,p91. London 1887

A.D. 1802

Letter from Rev James McCormick to Rev James Cowan:

'It was not my fault that Doct McCartan (Rev Patrick McCartan) was not mitred.  His own conduct in the affair of Down and Connor prejudiced him in the eyes of the holy congregation'.

  Jennings, B. Letters from Louvain 1607-1827, L729. Dublin 1968


A.D. 1804-1

Fergus McCartan was held as prisoner in Downpatrick jail for his activities during the rebellion.  He received mention in the will of Bishop Theophilus McCartan.

  Carrigan, Cannon. History of the Diocese of Ossory, Epsicopal Wills. Dublin, 1905

  National Archives Dublin, Pleas for Commutation, Rebellion Papers 174/22- NAI


A.D. 1804-2

Ursula Stafford died in her nineties.  A daughter of Philomy McCartan of Drumnacoyle, she married firstly James Savage of Barrhall and secondly Francis Stafford of Wexford. Ursula resided mainly on her inherited estate in Mountbellew, County Galway and outlived  her husbands,  her sons and her daughter.  Her remains were interred in Ballycullane graveyard, County Wexford.

  Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Document 552


Synopsis of Ulster's History 1701-1810

From 1692 to 1714 there was no Catholic Archbishop[51] in Armagh.  Bishops were banished and priests had to be registered.  Catholic churches were prohibited and their congregations attended to their religious obligations at 'Mass rocks' and bohogs.  Religious persecution replaced the religious freedom promised in the Treaty of Limerick.  Also the English Parliament reversed most of the remaining articles.

During the eighteenth century the Ulster economy began to prosper[52].  From being the poorest of the four provinces the northern province became the most prosperous.  Roads and canals were built and the population doubled.  Many immigrants came from Scotland due to famine and civil unrest there.  Presbyterian churches in Ulster recorded a doubling of their population between 1660 and 1715.  Their descendants developed into a tightly knit community.  When they reached saturation point many of them emigrated to America.  They too were the victims of religious discrimination in Ulster.  Presbyterians were prevented from holding public office and compelled to subscribe financially to the Established Church

Severe famine hit Ulster in 1728-29 and again in 1739.  Then in 1741 came the severest famine of all.  This one was in proportion as severe as the Great Famine and was accompanied by a plague.

Despite this hardship, by 1750 the linen industry had expanded enormously.  From 1710 the Linen Board[53] had fostered the industry by awarding generous grants to inventors.  This and other subsidies had a positive effect on output.  Ulster's linen exports more than trebled between 1720 and 1740.  Then between 1740 and 1780 exports were further doubled.  Linen production became a domestic industry[54] with weavers working from their homes.  Power for processing the flax in factories was provided by water driven wheels.  Further improvements in technology speeded up the bleaching process.  These factors enabled Belfast to take over from Dublin as the biggest linen market.  Huge linen halls were built in Belfast and Newry in 1783.  As with most large industries linen had numerous spin-offs in surrounding areas.  A factor in the success of this industry was diversification.  When the government introduced a prohibition of cattle exports, linen was grasped as an income replacement.

Agricultural improvements helped the landlords and some small farmers to prosper.  Most of the lavish big houses in Ulster were built during this era.  By 1791 the population of Belfast had increased to 18,000.  Urbanisation in Ulster had commenced.  Improved roads and canals were important factors in this growth.  Between 1753 and 1791 the number of houses paying hearth tax doubled.  This indicates improved living standards.  Ulster began to benefit through further diversification.  Coal seams were discovered in Coalisland and the Newry canal was completed in 1742 to ship supplies by barge to Dublin.  The building of the Lagan canal[55] was commenced in 1756.  By 1783 it reached to Lough Neagh.  This was another major boost to industry.  Roads became the responsibility of local Grand Juries.  Membership of these bodies was confined to local gentry and aristocrats of the Established Church.  From 1733 these committees were empowered to levy a cess on the local rate to build new roads and introduce turnpikes.  In 1761 farmers and weavers formed a society, called the Hearts of Oak to challenge the power of Grand Juries.  Turnpike gates were torn down and by 1770 there were violent disturbances throughout mid-Ulster.  Another group called the Hearts of Steel was formed in county Antrim.  They merged with the Hearts of Oak to become a formidable group.  Harvest failures and a general slump in the linen trade coupled with high rents and the expensive cess led to major disturbances.  This caused a sharp increase in emigration.

The American War of Independence in 1777 suspended emigration from Ireland to North America.  This war greatly depleted England's government coffers.  Furthermore most regular troops had gone to fight in America.  There the Ulster Protestants supported the colonists.  Then France decided to join in the war against England.  Due to this the Ulster Protestants regarded France as their enemy.  Aware of weaknesses in the event of an invasion, they formed volunteer companies.  With a lack of regular troops, the Government became increasingly dependent on these Volunteers.  They were given an arsenal of 16,000 muskets and their numbers increased rapidly from 12,000 to 40,000.  With Lord Charlemont as the commander the Volunteers had considerable political clout.  They openly objected to Poyning's Law and the Declaration Act.  Both of these acts were regarded as repressive legislation.  Such laws gave Westminster power to over-rule laws made in the Irish Parliament.  Agitation and demonstrations by the Volunteers paid off.  The Tory government fell and the new Whig government granted their demands.  Pressure from the Volunteers also played an important role in the removal of the Penal Laws between 1778 and 1782.  The Volunteers also helped build St Mary's Catholic Church in Belfast.  At the opening, the congregation was invited to join their ranks.  This invitation was seen as a challenge to the authority of the ascendancy.

Out of the ranks of the Volunteers emerged the United Irishmen whose intention was to 'provide a cordial union between the people of Ireland'.  In 1785 the leaders, Russell, Simms, McCracken and Tone climbed the Cavehill and took a solemn obligation to further their aims. In 1792 the United Irishmen launched their own newspaper, 'The Northern Star'.  The Dublin Government became alarmed and decided to abolish the Volunteers and regarded the United Irishmen as traitors.  A special militia was then formed to suppress them.  In 1795 Lord Fitzwilliam[56] was appointed Lord Lieutenant.  When he voted for Catholic emancipation he was swiftly recalled.  The United Irishmen then looked for help from France.

Due to this many Protestants felt threatened which led to increasing sectarian strife, especially in county Armagh.  The Protestant groups became known as the Peep O' Day boys and the Catholic group was named the Defenders.  After the Battle of the Diamond[57] (1795) in CountyArmagh the Orange Order was formed.  Pogroms were to become commonplace.  Looms were smashed and homes were destroyed.  Around 7,000 Catholics were driven from their homes in Armagh in just two months.  When word came that the French were about to invade Ireland many of the Defenders joined the United Irishmen's ranks.  On 16 December 1796 a French fleet arrived off Cork with 14,450 soldiers and 41,644 muskets.  Weather and mismanagement prevented them from landing.  The news of the French expeditions caused great concern in Dublin Castle. 

In March 1797 martial law was declared in Belfast.  General Lake then implemented a reign of terror.  The Northern Star (United Irishmen's journal) offices were demolished in Belfast.  Men were flogged and often executed on the spot.  Despite these setbacks the United Irishmen managed to commence a rebellion with the first shots being fired in Larne in June 1798.  After some success in outlying areas of county Antrim they marched to and captured Antrim town.  When Government reinforcements arrived from Blaris the insurgents scattered.  Henry Joy McCracken tried to rally his badly armed men without success.  United Irishmen in County Down also rose and had initial success at Saintfield and Ballynahinch.  Again lack of guns and ammunition proved costly.  As in Antrim no quarter was given.  The Wexford United Irishmen also had several notable victories but lost the most important engagement in Arklow.  A French fleet landed at Killala in Co Mayo and marched to Ballinamuck in county Longford.  There they were surrounded in a bog.  After the surrender the French were spared and the native Irish slaughtered.

In 1800 the Act of Union was passed through the Irish Commons.  The power enjoyed by the Ascendancy was diminished although the people saw little change for some time to come.


Commentary on the McCartans 1701-1810

Several milestones, in the history of the McCartans, occurred during the eighteenth century.  Each one in some way confirmed their demise.  The early decades saw the exodus of any remaining McCartans families from their patrimony of Kinelarty.  Those that returned home after the Boyne suffered greatly through harassment and the implications of the Penal Laws.  By 1702 many of them had packed up and dispersed.  Destinations were near and afar.  Some went nearby to the foothills of the Mournes, others to remote parts of Ireland.  Many also found their way to mainland Europe and America.  Several trekked overland to the West, bringing their belongings and livestock with them.  One of these groups found shelter near Ballinamuck, County Longford.  This area has some of the worst land in Ireland.  Despite this a family of McCartans survived there for many years.  Some of their descendants perished at the Battle of Ballinamuck (1798) when Humbert's army and the United Irishmen joined forces against General Lake.  Descendants of survivors can be found today near the town of Drumlish.  Others moved north after the battle and settled near Balinamore, CountyLeitrim.  The local MEP there, Joseph McCartan and his brother councillor, Tommy, are direct descendants.

In 1708 Patrick Bellew[58] was living in Faranfad, County Down with Phelim McCartan's family.  He was an uncle to Phelim's wife, Mary (nee Fleming) and a direct descendant of Sir Roger Bellew.  Before his death, Patrick bequeathed his two estates at Knock Abbey, County Louth and Bovinion, near Mountbellew to Phelim and Mary.  With all concerned being Catholic, the implications of the Penal Laws threatened this inheritance from the start.  In 1742 Phelim transferred title of both estates to his newly married daughter, Ursula and her husband, James Savage[59].  After four years James died leaving Ursula with one son, Philip.  Shortly afterwards, Ursula remarried.  Her new husband was William Stafford[60] of New Ross, CountyWexford.  They had a son, Nicholas.  Philip spent much of his youth in Portaferry in the care of his father's brother Patrick Savage.  Philip found reason to believe his inheritance was at risk to the benefit of his half-brother, Nicholas.  Patrick Savage advised Philip to conform to Protestantism[61] and claim his mother's estates through the penal legislation.  Under the penal laws such claims could easily be endorsed.  Philip conformed and applied to the courts for possession but he died before a decree was issued.  As a precaution Ursula (Philip's mother) responded by arranging for a Protestant friend, Mr Hore[62], to lodge a bill of discovery and to hold the property in trust.  Philip left a wife, a son and a daughter.  None of his children survived to adulthood, but Ursula lived into her nineties.  A prolonged legal battle between the Staffords, Savages, and Bellews prevailed before the Galway court for over fifty years.  After Ursula's death a settlement was finally reached when Michael Bellew bought out the interest of Ursula's grandchild, Francis Ann.

Up until 1720 both Catholics and Protestants worshipped in the middle of the three insular churches[63] in Loughinisland.  The Catholics heard mass in the morning and the Protestants had their service at noon.  One Sunday in 1720 there was heavy storms and rain and the Catholics remained inside the church after mass and the Protestants were unable to enter.  The resultant row led to the erection, in 1728, of the Protestant church at Seaforde.  The roof of the old church at Loughinisland was removed and carted to Seaforde and erected on the new church.  Father McCartan[64], parish priest, and later Bishop of Down and Connor, erected a new Catholic church at Tievenadarragh, in 1740, near to the present church.

The Trinity College alumnii record the following:  Daniel McCartan, Downpatrick, son of John McCartan, entered May 23 1707, aged 19years, born CountyDown, generosus, scholar 1710, B.A. vern 1711, pension from Mr Sedgewick.  Sedgewick seems to have been a surname exclusive to the Quaker fraternity in the North whereas in Dublin they were mostly associated with the Church of Ireland.  In 1718 a Mr Sedgewick married a couple by licence in St Audons parish.  Around the same time Sedgewicks appear in the parishes of St Peter, St Kevin and St John in Dublin.  All of these parishes were adjacent to the Dublin parliament.

A deed[65] was registered on the 8th July 1735 whereby Dominick McCartan of Drumnacoyle leased  land from Richard Johnstone of Clanvaraghan for a period of 25 years.  The rent was thirty pounds payable at May and All Saints.  Philemon McCartan was a witness to this deed. 

In 1756 a lease was granted for land in countyLeitrim by William Gore to Patrick and Hugh McCartan.  The townlands mentioned on this document are: 'Aughlinavallen', 'Carrickaheegan' and 'Clinaghuboth'.  These townlands skirt the shore of Lough Garadice, just north of Balinamore.  Both Patrick and Hugh had county Down origins.  As mentioned previously their ancestors left Down after the Boyne, went to Ballinamuck, and from there to Garadice.

In 1778 Theophilus McCartan, Bishop of Down and Connor, died.  Born in Aughngun, near Mayobridge in 1700, he studied for the priesthood at the University of Sorbonne in Paris.  On his return he was appointed Parish Priest of Loughinisland.  In 1760 he became bishop but retained his parish till his death.  In 1773 he donated an inscribed chalice to his diocese.  The inscription reads:

'Theophilus MacCartan Dunensis et Connorensis Eps.  Hanc calicem donavit in usum perpetuum    majioris natu sacerdotis, qui cognominis Dunensis aut Dromorensis. A.D.1773'


Theophilus MacCartan, Bishop of Down and Connor, gave this chalice for the perpetual use of the McCartan priest who is chronologically the eldest in the Diocese of Down and Dromore A.D.1773'.

The following priests inherited this chalice[66]:

Paul McCartan, P.P. of Duneane 1775, Dean of Down, Died 1821

Patrick McCartan, P.P. Kilclief 1775, P.P. Loughinisland, Died 17th June 1805

John McCartan, P.P. Saintfield 1777, P.P. Ballykinlar, Died 21st February 1814

Hugh McCartan, P.P. Ballykinler 1814, Died 26 July 1832

Hugh McCartan, P.P. Deriaghy 1827, P.P. Kilclief 1830, Died 20th October 1842

William McCartan, P.P. Ballymoney 1837, P.P. Rasharkin, Died 23rd May 1864

Michael McCartan, ordained 1843, P.P. Portglenone 1877, Died 1877

Bernard McCartan, ordained 1874, P.P. Deriaghy 1889, Died 21st November 1901

Eugene McCartan, P.P. Cushendun 1871, P.P. Antrim 1883, P.P. Larne 1895. Died 1902

John McCartan, P.P. Aghagallon 1900, P.P. Cushendall 1909, Died 20th May 1924

Denis McCartan, P.P. Randalstown 1932, Died 12th November 1965

Vincent McCartan, C.C. ordained 1978, Died 1987

Bishop Theophilus also erected the inscribed stone in McCartan's chapel to commemorate the last McCartan chieftain:

'Here lies the body of John McCartan then McCartan of Kinelarty who dep. this life 26 day of Sept 1736 aged 96 years. Phelomey who departed this life the 27 day of June 1761 aged 82 years. Dominick who departed 1772 aged 78 years'

On the other end of the stone and reversed:

'This stone records the death of The Reverend Theophilus McCartan. The R.C. Bishop of Down and Connor and late P.P. of Loughinisland who departed this life on the... Dec 1778 aged 78 years'.

In his will[67]Bishop Theophilus chose to be interred in McCartan's chapel.  A codicil in his will stated his intention to remove his family stone from Clonallon churchyard, near Warrenpoint, to Loughinisland.  His will also mentions many of his close relatives including a nephew Fergus McCartan.  Fergus was jailed in Downpatrick after the 1798 rebellion.  He applied for commutation from transportation in 1804.  The rest of his story is unknown.

On the death of the Bishop, Rev Patrick McCartan was appointed to the parish of Loughinisland.  A native of the parish he had an eventful life.  Many surviving letters suggest he held considerable influence with the gentry.  He negotiated purchase of a site and built the present church.  Once he was lucky to escape with his life when he was badly beaten by local Orangemen.  Later he was compelled to give evidence at the trial of Thomas Russell in Downpatrick.  The following is his evidence reported in the Belfast Newsletter of October 25th 1803:

'The Rev Patrick McCartan sworn...Q. Are you not the parish priest of Loughinisland, in this county? A. I am.  Q. Had you a particular parish duty to perform on the 22nd and 23rd July?  A. Yes, on Friday the 22nd I was there and my curate officiated on 23rd.  Q. The chapel is near James Fitzpatrick's house?  A. Yes.  Q. Look at the prisoner at the bar, and see if you can recollect seeing him on the 22nd of July?  A. If he be the person, I saw him on the 22nd of July, between three and four in the afternoon.  I cannot say I have physical knowledge of him, but coupled with the circumstances, I think he is the man I saw at Loughinisland.  I was playing quoits, and I believe the prisoner at the bar walked to the place where I and my curate were playing.  Q. By virtue of your oath, was the prisoner at the bar the person you saw on the 22nd of July or not. ?  A. I cannot say positively, but, coupled with the circumstances, I have no reason to doubt that he is the same person.  He came up to me as I was playing quoits, and said that was a long throw ... he was twenty yards distant from the time I heard there were some Frenchmen on the coasts.  I did hear rumours of a landing.  On the next day I was put in complete possession of the plan that there was to be an insurrection in Ireland, and that the prisoner was at Fitzpatricks and had a green coat with him.  I went to Fitzpatrick's house, and was informed that he had left that morning before daylight, and went the road to Belfast.  I saw the prisoner at the bar, if he be the same person, coming out of Fitzpatrick's house on Friday.  I was told he went by the name of Captain Shields'.

In later years Rev Patrick McCartan was nominated by the clergy of Down and Conor as the new bishop[68].  The cardinals in Rome rejected his nomination because of a dispute in which he had refused to recognise Bishop McMullan, who had succeeded Bishop Theophilus McCartan.  On 17th July 1805 he fell from his horse and died on the road between Castlewellan and Clough.  Father James O'Laverty and Loughinisland parish historians reckoned he was buried in Loughinisland in an unmarked grave. 

1804 was another milestone in the history of the McCartans.  Ursula, daughter of Philomy McCartan and Mary Flemming, died at her inherited estate near Mountbellew, CountyGalway.  She had outlived all of her family.  In her will she left her estate to her nearest relative, a grand child and minor, Francis Ann Stafford.  Her death marked the last of a direct line to the McCartan chieftains.







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