A Sketch of Molahiffe Castle and the Manor of Molahiffe

In the grounds of Castle Farm (in the townland of the same name) stand the ruins of Molahiffe Castle.[1]  It was built in 1214 by the son of Maurice Fitzgerald.[2]


Castle Farm House, formerly styled Molahiffe Castle (left), looks out on the remains of the 13th century Molahiffe Castle


Nearby is the ancient site of Old Court of which Lewis, in 1837, stated that ‘no particulars are recorded.’[3]  O’Donovan added little more in 1841:


About 200 paces to the W N W of [Molahiffe] church are the ruins of an old mansion house situated on rising ground, but now reduced to a shapeless mass of rubbish and ruins, from which it appears to have been very extensive.[4]


Site of Court at Castlefarm


There was a tradition that Molahiffe Castle was connected to the nearby castles of Cloonmealane and Fieries, in triangular fashion, by a network of caves.[5]


Ruins of Cloonmealane Castle (left), on the lands of Michael Daly, and Fieries Castle, fronted by a tree


Molahiffe Castle later came into the possession of O’Donoghue Mor, and later again, MacCarthy Mor.[6]  An interesting tale from the times of the MacCarthys survives which relates how O’Sullivan Uaine or Glas earned this appendage:[7]


Cormac McCarthy Baly of Molahiffe, a notorious oppressor and tyrant, issued a mandate to all his people to bring him a tax, Bo cunnun Bui (a bald-faced yellow cow).  An O’Sullivan connected to the chief of Dunkerron undertook to rid his friends of this oppressive superior.  Clad in a green (uoth) jacket, he effected his entrance into Molahiffe Castle by pretending that he had a commission for Macarthy Baly from Macarthy Mohr.  He met Cormac on the stone stair of the castle and slew him by stabbing.  He then cried ‘Fire! Fire!’ and escaped across the river Maine.  Persons hurrying hither and thither kept crying out, ‘Who is it?’ to which the answer was fear uaine (a man in green).[8]


Kerry historian Jeremiah King described events in the wake of the Geraldine confiscation:


Sir Valentine Browne of Crofts, Lincolnshire, was Auditor-General in Ireland in 1555.  His son, Sir Nicholas, was granted 6000 acres from the Geraldine confiscation.  In 1588 he obtained of MacCarthy More, Earl of Clancare, grants of lands and castles, confirmed by the Crown in 1612, as well as lands held by Rory O’Donaho More.[9]


Sir Nicholas Browne of Molahiffe tells a sad tale of how he lost the lovely Lady Ellen MacCartie, heiress and only daughter of the great MacCarthy Mor:


Despite the orders of Queen Elizabeth, the young lady eloped with Florence MacCartie, her cousin.  By this accident Browne’s grant of the Earl of Glencar’s estate became worthless parchment and he had to content himself with marrying Sir Owen O’Sullivan’s daughter who was before contracted to the same Florence MacCartie.  The ancestors of the Kerry aristocrats had a hard time to keep a grip of the land in old days; and Browne, the baffled suitor, the jilted lover, wrote letters to the English queen about the MacCarthys.[10]


In 1599, Molahiffe Castle was razed and the ‘landes spoyled.’[11]  O’Donovan gave an account of the ruined castle in 1841:


The south east corner of it only remains, 11ft of the south side connected with 13ft of the east end both to the height of at least 55ft.  The walls 8f 6in in thickness and built of large blocks of lime stone well grouted.  The quoin stones are chiselled.[12]


The Kerry Townland Index map of 1846 illustrates the site of the court, as well as the ruined castles of Fieries, Molahiffe and Cloonmealane


Valerie Bary (Houses of Kerry) summarised more than four centuries of history as follows:


Thomas Fitzmaurice, 1st Lord Kerry, had a grant of these lands from King John.  He built Molahiffe Castle and gave a deed of Dentation to the Moriartys of Coshlawna.  Maurice FitzThomas Fitzmaurice, 2nd Lord Kerry, died here in 1306.[13]  After the battle of Callan, castle and lands seem to have passed to O’Donoghue Mor, but later they fell to the MacCarthys who became paramount in this area.  The sept of Coshmang was the most important springing from the line of MacCarthy Mor.  The Coshmang sept held the frontier dividing the McCarthys from the Fitzgeralds.  It was a defence barrier which ran from Castlemaine to the borders of Cork.  The centre of Coshmang was the castle of Molahiffe, with two other castles, Fieries and Cloonmelane supporting it.  This sept split into three branches, each holding one of these castles.  During the Desmond wars, the Coshmang sept served with the Earl of Desmond against their overlord, MacCarthy Mor and the English forces and their chief, Teige MacDermod MacCormac, was slain in a skirmish at Aghadoe Castle.  His death in rebellion caused all his lands to revert to the Crown.  They were then passed to the Brownes, but MacCarthy Mor claimed them, as the paramount and loyal lord, as rightly belonging to him.  Queen Elizabeth upheld this claim.  Before long MacCarthy Mor mortgaged the same lands back to Browne.  Some members of the sept removed to France, but the last of the line of Coshmang Molahiffe, was a Colonel in the British Army, who was knighted for his services on the Cape Coast.  He was slain in battle by the Ashanti and his skull was said to have been used as a drinking bowl in a temple near Coomassie.  The castle had been severely attacked in 1601 during the O’Neill war and captured after a desperate fight by the garrison.  From that time the castle appears to have crumbled and no further inhabitants are recorded.  In 1750, Smith mentioned it as completely ruined.[14]


Ruins of Aghadoe Castle


In the seventeenth century, the Browne family’s acquisition of the lands was recorded in the Kenmare Manuscripts.[15]  The estate was designated the manors of ‘Mollahiffe and Rosse’:


Sir Valentine Browne, the second baronet, in virtue of his commission for remedy of defective titles, dated 7 September 1636, for the fine of 58l, 13s 2d1/2  English, received a further confirmation of all his estate by patent, 21 July 1637, and the rent of 60l English and all the premises were erected into the manors of Mollahiffe and Rosse alias Rosse-Idonnagho, with licence to impark 2000 acres … He married Mary, second daughter of Cormac, Lord Muskerry, sister to his father’s second wife; and died 25 April 1640, having issue two sons and two daughters.[16]


The Browne family residence at Molahiffe, after the destruction of the castle, was also known by the name Molahiffe, or Boucheens.[17]   Boucheens may be a corruption of Bohereens, the townland adjoining Castlefarm, where it was constructed.  It was believed to have been built with stones from the old castle, probably in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century.[18]


In 1837, Molahiffe, or Boucheens – which is still extant – was the seat of Montague Griffin Esq.[19]  In the 1990s, Valerie Bary recorded a second family of Browne in residence for 120 years.[20]


Historic House: Molahiffe, or Boucheens


Castle Farm


Molahiffe Castle (House) was built in the vicinity of the ruined castle in the late eighteenth century.  It was built in the townland of Castlefarm (or Castle Farm), by which name the property later became known.  It was erected by Michael Mahony under lease from Lord Kenmare.[21]


Historic House: Molahiffe Castle (House), better known as Castle Farm


At about this time, it appears as the residence of Arthur Bastall, or Bastable, Esq, whose daughter married John Twiss of Ballahantouragh.


In the first part of the nineteenth century, from at least 1823, this property was being let by the Fagan family.[22] Maurice De Courcy Esq was in residence.  In 1816, he married, at Killury church, Maria Sandes, eldest daughter of John Sandes Esq of Moyvane, Co Kerry.


In January 1822, his home was attacked by Whiteboys.[23]  Maurice De Courcy Esq died at Molahiffe Castle (House) on 26 February 1864 aged 76.


In 1885, the property came to public notice when John O’Connell Curtin was murdered there.  He had married Agnes, daughter of Maurice De Courcy.[24]


Manorial Court of Molahiffe


By a grant of James the First June 28th 1620, Sir Valentine Browne was duly authorised to establish a Manor of Ross with a Court Leet and Barony Court with the appropriate Justice or Seneschal.  This held sway all over the old principality until Town Commissioners and Petty Sessions were established about 1854.[25]


Due Process: Figures from 1837


The seneschal court was held every six weeks for the recovery of debts.  In 1828, Baron Pennefather described them as ‘an absolute nuisance which ought to be put down by act of parliament’:


These patents are of very long standing, and were originally written in the ancient language of the French Law or old Latin in either of which languages it is impossible to describe the Irish names of lands which have been within the last 100 years nearly changed and named different from that in their patents.  This decision has virtually repealed the jurisdiction of these, to say the least of them, useless and very unnecessary extra Courts of Justice.[26]


A report from the Select Committee on Manor Courts in Ireland, 1837, described the jurisdiction of Ross and Molahiffe:


The Earl of Kenmare is lord of two manors in the county of Kerry, namely, the manor of Ross and the manor of Molahiffe.  The manor of Ross extends over a jurisdiction of about six square miles, including the populous town of Killarney.  The manor court is held in the court-house of Killarney, and is nearly in the centre of the manor.  The manor of Molahiffe extends over a jurisdiction of about 18 miles in length, and 16 in breadth.  The manor includes the parishes of Firies, Ballyhar, part of Aglish, Kilcummin, Knockacoppul, Grieveguilla (Gneeveguilla) and Barraduve (Barraduff); for the accommodation of the persons living in this extensive manor, the seneschal has divided it into two districts, and regularly holds a court at the eastern and western ends.  The court-houses are about 10 miles distant from each other; and the greatest distance any person has to travel to either court is five miles.[27]


Stephen Gallwey was seneschal of his Lordship’s Manors of Molahiffe and Ross.  He was born in 1791, the fifth son of Thomas Gallwey (1746-1817).   He died in November 1829 and was buried in Muckross Abbey.[28]


In 1830, the Earl of Kenmare appointed John Morphy Esq, JP, of Mount Prospect, Killarney, seneschal of Killarney, Ross and Molahiffe.


Several of the most respectable inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Killarney assembled in the Court House in that town on Wednesday last in order to witness the induction of John Murphy (sic) Esq into the office of Seneschal of the Manors of Ross and Molahiffe, pursuant to the appointment of the Right Hon the Earl of Kenmare.  The oath of office was administered to Mr Morphy by his brother-in-law, Christopher Gallwey Esq as the representative of the Lord of the Manor.[29]


John Morphy, a justice of the peace since 1808, died in October 1841.  In the same month, the Earl of Kenmare appointed Richard Morphy to the position. Richard Morphy, born c1791, was the eldest son of Captain David Morphy of Callinafercy.  He was married by Rev Bastible Herbert in Kilgarvan church on 14 July 1827 to Margaret Agnes, second daughter of Major Nathaniel Bland of Lakeville.  His address at that time was Ballinamona.  They had four children.[30]  Richard Morphy Esq JP died at Killarney on the 10 March 1869 aged 78.[31]


Richard Morphy appears as the last in the line of seneschals for this district.[32]  The manorial courts were abolished in 1859.  In 1860, Thomas Gallwey remarked on their disappearance:


In former times and up to a recent period, the government of the town was provided for by the machinery, once very effective, of a Court Leet or frank pledge and a seneschal … The old system, the feudal machinery of Courts Leet, Market Jurors and Seneschals, have vanished and Petty Sessions Courts, the constabulary force and the Town Commission have succeeded.[33]


[1] ‘Maghlaithimh or Lahiff’s plain, so named after a sept of the MacCarthys.  The Papal visitation of 1291 describes the old church as Ecclesia de Magofflahith’ (Jeremiah King, History of Kerry, Vol I, pp80-81).   O’Donovan in 1841 stated: ‘According to tradition this castle was built by the MacCarthys.  In the pedigree of the MacCarthy family preserved in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, Magh Laithimh or, as it is there incorrectly written, Mas Fhlaithibh, is mentioned as the seat of Teige, the son of Dermot MacCarthy, the sixth in descent from Eoghan Buird Mainge.  This Teige MacCarthy is called of Magh Laithimh in the Annals of the Four Masters at the year 1587 (?), where it is recorded that he was slain at Aghadoe in the Earl of Desmond’s camp by Capt Sinitsi.  But it appears from the Annals of Inishfallen ad, annum 1215 that the castle of Magh Laithibh was originally erected by the son of Maurice Fitzgerald: AD 1215.  The son of Maurice Fitzgerald built a castle of Magh Laithibh’ (O’Donovan Letters, pp202-203).

[2] References: ‘A castle [built] by the son of Maurice at Magh Uí Fhlaithimh [Moylahiff’ (http://www.clanmaccarthysociety.org/Articles/BattleOfCallannFootnotes.html#19). 

‘The Castles of Moylahiff, Cala na Feirse, Cluain Maolain and Curreens were built by the son of Maurice Fitzgerald’ reference, Jeremiah King, History of Kerry, Vol I, p123.

‘Munster genealogies in the eighteenth-century Leabhar Muimhneach specify three separate septs within this Coshmang branch, i.e. Molahiffe (Maigh Laithimh), Fieries (Na Foidhrí) and Cloonmealane (Cluain Maoláin), and the same source traces the Molahiffe branch in descending order from Eoghan son of Cormac, King of Desmond (d. 1359), down to the aforementioned ‘Lord Tadeus son of Diarmaid son of Cormac’.’ (‘The battle of Clontarf in later Irish tradition’ by Meidhbhín Ní Úrdail published in Seán Duffy (ed.), Medieval Dublin XV. Proceedings of ‘Clontarf 1014– 2014: national conference to mark the millennium of the Battle of Clontarf, 11–12 April 2014’ (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2017), 280–306 https://researchrepository.ucd.ie/bitstream/10197/9749/1/Clontarf_Conf.pdf).

[3] Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. 

[4] O’Donovan Letters, p202.

[5] It appears the cave connection was from Fieries to Cloonmealane to Molahiffe.  ‘Firies, Molahiffe and Cloonmealane Castles: A Seaforth (Lancashire) correspondent says there is a tradition that Firies and Molahiffe castles are connected by a subterranean passage which some daring individuals have attempted to explore but have failed to get through the maze of archways and turnings.  The three castles are placed apart like the angles of a triangle, each being a mile and a half from the other’ (Kerry People, 11 January 1908).

The following from The Schools’ Collection:

‘Molahiffe Castle is in the townland of Castlefarm, in the parish of Firies, in the barony of Magunihy, and in the County of Kerry.  It is in the farm of Tim McMahon.  It was Maurice Fitzgerald, son of Ramond Le Gros that built it.  It is built about seven hundred and twenty years.  A man by the name of Fitzmaurice that owned this castle after Maurice. During his reign the castle was besieged by a family of the Spring.  Spring then took possession of the castle.  A man by the name of Browne that took possession of the castle after Spring.  Browne was the last to live in it.  A very small portion of this castle remains still.  There is an underground cave leading from it to Firies Castle and another one to Clounmellane Castle.  Firies Castle and Clounmellane Castle were built about the same time (The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0460, Page 114).

‘Clounmellane Castle was built by the same man that built Molahiffe Castle.  It is in the townland of Clounmellane, in the parish of Firies, in the barony of Magunihy, and in the county of Kerry.  It is in the farm of James Counihan.  It was built about the year 1220 and it was knocked again about four hundred and twenty nine years after.  It was the Cromwellian soldiers that blew it up in the year sixteen fifty one.  The castle is knocked to the ground.  Near the castle there was a little school and church in olden times.  There isn't a sign of it to be seen now.  It was owned by St Aidan.  When the castle was blown up the people in it were blown up too’ (The Schools Collection, The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0460, Page 115).

‘Firies Castle was built by the O’Connors.  It is in the townland of Firies, in the parish of Firies, in the barony of Magunihy and in the county of Kerry.  It is in the farm of Timothy O’Sullivan.
It was built in the thirteenth century and it was knocked in the sixteenth century.  It was a very small castle.  It is in a ruin with over two hundred years.  Numerous woods flourished for miles around it.  It is from these woods that Firies got its name.  When the McCarthy Mores had possession of the castle a great number of battles were fought.  These battles were fought mostly between the Fitzmaurices and the McCarthy Mores.  The Fitzmaurices were descendants of Reamon Le Gros.  They changed their name to Fitzmaurice.  A very small portion of the castle remains still’ (The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0460, Page 133).

[6] After the death of Cormac MacCarthy Mor at the Battle of Mangerton in 1262, the O’Donoghue Mor sept, under Thomas of the Ships, stormed into Geraldine lands and appropriated Molahiffe Castle which they held unto 1280 when it was redistributed to a MacCarthy Mor sept. Reference, https://www.odonoghue.co.uk/page/odonoghues-mor.html

[7] Variations Owney, Uonhi, Uoney, etc – the Gaelic word for green (also glas). 

[8]Unde deducitur hoc quorundam Sullivanorum agnomen.Reference ‘O’Sullivan’ by Henri Quatre, Tralee Chronicle, 2 October 1866 which also contains O’Sullivan ancestry. 

[9] History of Kerry (1907) Vol I, p93. ‘Sir Valentine, colonel in James’ army, was grandson of the daughter of the Earl of Desmond, and died in 1694.  His son, Colonel Nicholas, in 1664 married Helen Browne, of Hospital, thus uniting the estates of both branches of the family.  He died at Ghent in 1720.  Valentine, the grandson of Sir (Col) Nicholas, was in 1798 created Baron of Castlerosse and Viscount of Kenmare.  In 1800 he was advanced to the earldom, and died in 1812.  His second son, Thomas, was father of Valentine, the late Earl.  The present Earl married the daughter of Lord Revelstoke. The Lord Kenmare of 1772 was an enthusiast for keeping the people on the farms, and also promoting industries in the towns.’

[10] Jeremiah King, History of Kerry, Vol I, p123.

[11] The Life and Letters of Florence MacCarthy Reagh, Tanist of Carbery, MacCarthy Mor by Daniel MacCarthy (Glas) of Glen-a-Chroim (1867).  See pp189-196, ‘Assault of the Castle of Molahiff’.

[12] O’Donovan Letters, p202.  The ruin is today covered with foliage.

[13] Maurice, 2nd Lord Kerry, married Mary, daughter and heiress of John McElligott of Galey in Clanmaurice by which alliance, the family obtained from Richard I an inheritance of five knights’ fees in Coshmany and Molahiffe in Desmond. This Maurice sat in the Irish Parliament in 1295 and attended a writ of Ed I in 1297 after which he proceeded on an expedition against Scotland; Wallace the deathless being about that time at the head of his faithful men of Lanark against English domination.  He died in Lixnaw in 1303 (or 1305) and was buried with his father in Ardfert (http://www.odonohoearchive.com/the-battle-of-lixnaw/).

[14] With regard to ‘the last of the line of Coshmang Molahiffe’ see, At Sea: The Last Will of Sir Charles MacCarthy Governor of Sierra Leone (2015).

[15] http://www.irishmanuscripts.ie/digital/The%20Kenmare%20Manuscripts/data/search.xml.  Spelling variations include Kilmolheffe, Killmolaheffe, Molahifi, Mollahive, Molahive, Molaheffe, Molahaffe.

[16] ‘Viz, Sir Valentine, created Lord Kenmare; Captain John Browne of Ardagh (who, pursuant to articles, dated 20 April 1672, married Joan, sister of Pierce the sixth Lord Cahier, and died 15 August 1706 without issue); Elizabeth, married to John Tobin of Cumpshinagh county of Tipperary Esq; and Elinor, to __ Power of Kilmayden county of Waterford Esq’ (The Peerage of Ireland (1789) by Mervyn Archdall. 

‘Sir Valentine Browne, Baronet, of Molahiffe and Rosse Castle, was Vice Admiral of Kerry in 1627.  His grandfather was the first English holder of the Kerry properties; both Sir Valentine’s father and he himself married into old Irish families’ (footnote in Commons Debates, 1628, Vol 4 (1978) edited by Mary Frear Keeler, Maija Jansson Cole and William B Bidwell, Yale University Press, p202).

Genealogy in Archdall, as above.  Sir Valentine Browne (d1588/1589) married firstly Elizabeth Alexander and had issue Sir Valentine Browne; he married secondly Thomasine, sister to Sir Nicholas Bacon, Keeper of the Great Seal of England and had two sons, Sir Thomas Browne of Hospital, county Limerick and Sir Nicholas Browne of ‘Molaheffe and Rosse’. 

Sir Thomas Browne of Hospital married Mary Apsley and died on 13 April 1640, having had three sons and five daughters (his successor, Sir John of Hospital, who married Barbara Boyle and had one son, Sir Thomas, who died unmarried and four daughters, of whom Elizabeth only survived and married in 1664 Captain Thomas Browne, son of Sir Valentine of Mollaheffe by his second wife Juliana MacCarthy), was killed by Sir Barnewall in a duel.  His widow, Lady Browne, remarried to Sir William King of Kilpeacon, Co Limerick. 

Second son Sir Nicholas Browne of ‘Molaheffe and Rosse’ married Julia (Sheela), daughter of O’Sullivan Beare and had issue five sons and four daughters, viz, Valentine, who succeeded, Thomas, Nicholas, John, James, Thomasine, Margaret, Anne and Mabell.  He died in 1606 or 1616.  His successor, Sir Valentine Browne, who was created 1st Baronet Browne of Molahiffe, Co Kerry in 1621, died in 1633.  His son, Valentine, 2nd Baronet (from his marriage to Lady Ellice Fitzgerald) is as given in the extract in the main text.  His son, Sir Valentine, 3rd Baronet, was created Baron of Castlerosse and Viscount Kenmare in 1689.  See ‘Valentine Browne, Earl of Kenmare’ in A Biographical Peerage of Ireland (1817) by Sir Egerton Brydges.

[17] In 1860, Rev Charles Graves, DD, remarked on the word boucheens during a talk about an ‘hitherto undescribed class of ancient Irish monuments’ delivered to the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin: ‘In 1851 I made a tour in company with Lord Dunraven through Kerry, my object being to examine carefully all the oghams of the existence of which I had been informed and also to discover others … Lord Dunraven and myself were taken by Mr Germain of West Cove to examine a portion of a rock about a mile below the [Staigue] fort near the bridge.  This large piece of old slate-rock was denuded of its bog about 50 years ago and its surface was then found covered with circles and dots … This was the first monument of this kind that we saw.  We afterwards saw others at a place called Ballynasare not far from Dingle … We found others at a place called the Goulanes in the same barony of Corkaguiny.  There was a marked resemblance amongst all these monuments and the country people informed us of the existence of some of these.  When we asked them if they had seen any stones with figures upon them they said, ‘Oh yes sir, there is a stone in such a place with bousheens (which they call circles) upon it.’

[18] Valerie Bary, Houses of Kerry, p183, ‘standing and inhabited’.  It is not named on the nineteenth century OS maps. ‘In the days of Queen Elizabeth, after the Geraldine confiscations, an English land surveyor named Browne secured a settlement at Molahiffe where he built a stone house and was given a guard of soldiers.  Donal MacCarthy, the Robin Hood of Munster, preyed upon Browne … Browne wrote a fearsome epistle to the English secretary Cecil, to the effect that Donal had made Munster unpassable for all faithful subjects who wore hose or breeches after the English fashion.  MacCarthy delivered a fierce attack on Browne’s stronghold at Molahiffe, and captured all his defences except the inner court’ (Jeremiah King, History of Kerry, Vol I, pp80-81).

[19] Lawrence (or Laurence) Montague Griffin Esq, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, was in residence from at least the 1820s.  In 1829, he applied to register the freeholds of ‘Borheens’ Molahiffe and Faughkilla (Faghcullia), Faghbane (Faughbane) and the townland of Dromickbane, Muckross, Killarney.  In 1834, he contributed to the O’Connell tribute.  He married in 1824 Elizabeth Agnes Sandes (1801-1861), daughter of Henry Sandes of Glenfield (Glannalappa), Co Kerry (third son of John Sandes of Moyvane, and Alice or Alicia, second daughter of Arthur Browne of Ventry and Ballinvarrig). Their children included Dr Lawrence Thomas Griffin (1827-1906) physician to Lord Kenmare and Resident Medical Superintendent of the Killarney District Lunatic Asylum (who married in Killarney in 1858 to Clara, daughter of Francis Newton and Clarissa Mahony and had issue Dr Lawrence Montague John Griffin (1860-1924) of Flesk Priory, Killarney and of Plymouth). 

On 4 October 1826, Mrs Sandes, relict of Henry Sandes Esq of Listowel, died at Feeries (sic), County Kerry, residence of her son-in-law, Montague Griffin Esq.. 

Lawrence Montague Griffin Esq died at his residence in Killarney on 2 September 1837 and was buried in the family vault at Ardcrone.  He was described as a ‘sterling patriot.’ 

The Molahiffe property was rented out, ‘To be let from the first of May next for a term to be agreed on, the house, offices and land of Boreheens (sic) as occupied by C McMahon, M Riordan, M Counihan, D Barton and Patrick Sullivan, situate in the parish of Molahiffe.  Also the lands of Faughbane, Faughkilla, Droumackbane and the Friary, situate in the parish of Killarney near Coltsman’s Castle.  A solvent tenant will meet good encouragement.  Proposals in writing (only) will be received by Mrs Griffin, Killarney or Mr Valentine G McSweeny, of Churchview. April 7 1848.’

Note on the Friary

The ‘Friary’ near Coltsman’s (Flesk) Castle, as noticed above, was described by Friar O’Sullivan in his manuscript history (‘Ancient History of the Kingdom of Kerry’) as ‘a temporary home in a wild, isolated place at the foot of Mangerton’ (Muckross Abbey A History (2018), pp127-8). 

In the late nineteenth century, Fr Prendergast, author of Muckross Abbey, noted that ‘the ruins of this friary are pointed out yet in Dr Griffin’s farm, near the Loretto Convent’ (Muckross Abbey A History (2018), p396). 

Today (2020), a small ruin remains, situate in the townland of Faghbane (border of Faghcullia), beside the Flesk river. 

The (now closed) Loretto Convent, formerly Torc View Hotel, is located in the townland of Scartlea which adjoins Faghcullia.  A memorial on the site is inscribed ‘This plaque commemorates the educational and spiritual work of the Loreto Sisters, here at Loreto Convent Secondary School (1860 to 1989), nearby at St Gertrudes Primary School (1869 to 1978) Scoil Bhride Primary School (1978-1996) and in the surrounding area.  I.B.V.M. Maria Regina Angelorum-Cruci Dum Spiro Fido Erected by the People of Killarney and Muckross in grateful appreciation.

Note on Flesk Priory

The Griffin family was also associated with Flesk Priory, situate in the townland of Scrahane, Killarney. 

John Stewart (or Stuart) Wallis Coxon Esq (1790-1850) was the occupant of Flesk Priory in the first part of the nineteenth century.  A number of his children were born there by his wife, Georgina Hennessy.  He left the county in 1838 (see ‘Farewell entertainment’ at Finn’s Victoria Hotel, Kerry Evening Post, 16 May 1838). 

It was subsequently occupied by Rev Robert Hedges Maunsell who in 1840 inherited the Galway estates of Robert Hedges Eyre Esq. 

In 1842, John Newman Esq of Ashville, Kanturk was in residence.  He died suddenly in January 1844 aged about 30: ‘At Flesk Priory, Killarney, a few days since, his lady, now alas his widow (daughter of the late N P Leader Esq) and children (three in number) were attacked by measles.  Never having had them himself, he left Killarney and proceeded to Kilrush.  He carried the infection with him however and on Friday a letter arrived to his father, Adam Newman Esq of Dromore, to apprise him of his illness … before the letter had reached his father he was dead.’ Mrs Newman remained at Flesk Priory until c1861, when Lieutenant Alfred Manders, of Manders and Powell, Porter Brewers, Dublin (later Robert Manders and Company), appears in residence.  In 1871, Mr Manders was an inmate of the Farnham House Private Lunatic Asylum of Dr James Foulis Duncan, Finglas, Dublin where he had been detained, evidently against his will, for more than two years.  It appears he had received a letter from his brother Robert Manders in April 1869 requiring him to attend the brewery in Dublin immediately.  On his arrival he was arrested and incarcerated (see ‘In re Alfred Manders habeas corpus,’ Freeman’s Journal, 9 September 1871).  In 1872, Richard Manders and Company was dissolved on the retirement of Alfred Manders, and was subsequently carried on under the same name by Richard, Frederick and Robert Manders.

Two brothers, Richard Manders (1815-1884) of Brackenstown, Dublin and Robert Manders (died 1854) of Landscape, Dublin had business interests in Island-bridge Mills and a brewery.  Alfred, born in 1832, was the third son of Robert Manders.  He married Elizabeth Townsend Harrison, youngest daughter of Samuel Harrison of Greybrook, Cork on 24 February 1854 at St Peter’s Church, Dublin.  Genealogy of the Manders family at https://www.youwho.ie/mandersr.html / https://www.youwho.ie/manders.html.

The death of Alfred Manders, son of the late Robert Manders of Dublin, at 21 Windsor Road, Ealing, on 17 November 1883 aged 51, was recorded in the London Evening Standard, 26 November 1883.  The UK census of 1881 recorded Alfred Manders, captain militia retired, at Windsor Road, with Galway-born wife Clara Manders aged 27.  The death of Elizabeth T Manders of Dublin was recorded in December 1909.  With thanks to Marie Huxtable Wilson for genealogical research.

In 1870, John Mulcahy was in residence.  In that year he won a contract to supply the Postmaster-General with larch poles for the telegraph in the south of Ireland. 

In 1872, the leasehold, under Lord Kenmare, was auctioned.  In 1875 John Doran was in residence.

In 1880, Dr Montague Griffin Esq appears in residence.  In 1885, Flesk Priory was under police guard when Hon Cecil Browne, second son of the Earl of Kenmare, was in permanent residence there for medical treatment under Dr Griffin. 

Major Lionel Hewson JP appears in 1888.  In 1894, Thomas Scott was in residence and in 1904, T Leonard.  Maurice Leonard Esq JP instructed the auction of the household furniture of the Priory in 1908.  In 1910, Lord Kenmare’s land agent, Richard Bateman Reynolds, was in occupation. 

On 17 July 1950, Hannah, widow of D F O’Sullivan of High Street, Killarney, died at the Priory.  The Priory was offered for sale in 2000, described as a period property dating to the 17th century.

[20] Further reference, Valerie Bary (Houses of Kerry), p183. 

[21] See Bary’s Houses of Kerry.  The year of construction is given as c1769.  It is worth noting that one Maurice Mahon was (non-resident) rector of Molahiffe 1778-1814.

[22] In June 1823, Court of Exchequer, Fagan a. De Courcy and others, ‘from 29th September next, the House and Demesne of Castle Farm in the County of Kerry now in the possession of the Defendant, Maurice De Courcy.’  In 1826: Fagan, a. De Courcy and others, ‘Set up and let for three years pending this cause from 29th September next the House and Demesne of Castlefarm in the County of Kerry.’  In 1829: Ellen Fagan, Plaintiff, Maurice De Courcey and others, Defendants, Court of Exchequer, 10 July 1829, ‘Set up and Let for three years from 29th September next, the House and Demesne of Castlefarm in the County of Kerry.’ 

In 1825, in the Court of Exchequer, Ellen Fagan, Plaintiff, Maurice De Courcey and others, Defendants, ‘Set up to be Let for three years, from 25th March next, the Lands of Molahiffe as heretofore in the possession of Maurice, John, Andrew and Daniel Brien.’   In 1828, the lands were in the tenancy of Daniel Supple Esq.  In 1831, the lands of Molahiffe, in the tenancy of Daniel Supple Esq, were let in the matter of Fagan, Decourcy and others.

[23] Dublin Weekly Register, 2 February 1822. ‘They then proceeded to a farm in the neighbourhood, some time since purchased by Mr Coltsman of Killarney and since stocked by Daniel Cronin Esq of The Park.  Here they cruelly cut and severely beat the man in charge of the farm’ (Dublin Evening Post, 29 January 1822).

[24] See The Church of Ireland in Co Kerry (2011), p182.  Agnes Curtin died at the residence of her daughter, Mrs Nora Dodd, Killorglin, on Holy Thursday, 4 April 1901 aged 78.  In 1839, Michael Hudson Esq of Kanturk married Eliza, second daughter of Maurice DeCourcy Esq of Molahiffe Castle.  

Sales of church lands in Molahiffe are recorded as follows: The vicarages of Molahiffe and Kilbonane, Kilcredane and the glebes were sold in 1830 under a Decretal Order dated 6 March 1827, in the matter of the Most Noble Charles, Duke of Dorset, plaintiff and Jane Crosbie, widow and executrix of Rev John Crosbie, deceased, defendant. 

A generation earlier, a vast amount of property was advertised for sale which included Molahiffe:

In the High Court of Chancery, in the matter of Thomas Cherburgh Bligh Esq, plaintiff, and the Right Hon John, Earl of Glandore, the Hon Edward Ward, and Lady Arabella Ward, otherwise Crosbie, his wife, Robert Day Esq surviving executor of Robert Fitzgerald, deceased, and Hon Lady Anne Talbot, widow, and executrix of William John Talbot Esq, deceased, defendants …the mansion house of Ardfert, with the demesne, and all the houses, tenements, gardens, fields and parks thereunto belonging, Laccamore, Lacabeg, the manor of Knockanamore, otherwise Oderney, containing four plow lands – the impropriations of Molahiff, Kilbonane, Killcolanan, Killcredane and the glebe lands thereunto belonging, the short Castle of Knocknelaght, the four plow lands of Awlane, Lilcreen, and Mofragh, the impropriations of Duagh, all those the lands given in exchange by the Dean and Chapter of Ardfert to Sir Maurice Crosbie and his heirs – pursuant to the late act, for the lands of Graige, the two mills, to wit, the grist mill and tuck mill belonging to the manor of Oderney, the plow lands of Boheroe, the plow lands of Dromconig, the plow lands of Ballycbromane, the plow lands of Ballysheen, the grist mill of Ardfert, the impropriations of Oderney, the plow lands of Bincorny, or Cloganwork, the two plow lands of Ballinprior, and Ardglass, the lands of Kill, Reene, and Rathwith, the commons thereunto belonging, the impropriations of Knockenogh, and the abbey of Ardfert, the lands of Kilmore, Stacks Mountain, the advowsons of the entire rectories of Bally McElligot, Nohervall, Ventry, and Killury, and vicarages of Molahiff, Kilbonane and Kilcredane, and also all and singular the houses, lands and tenements situate, lying and being in the town and borough of Ardfert, then in the tenure, possession or occupation of the said Sir Maurice Crsobie, all situate, lying and being in the county of Kerry, the town and lands of Park, Athenkeagh, with the island and fishing thereunto belonging, containing by estimation 400 acres, profitable land, plantation measure, be they more or less, the town and lands of Killiamen, containing by estimation 135 acres, profitable land, Irish plantation measure, be they more or less, the 100a of land adjoining Ballyvirri and the town and lands of Glan, containing by estimation 90 acres of glebe in Killina, together with the tythes of the aforesaid lands, and the tythes of the lands of Clourabegg and Stonestown and a fourth part of the tythes of the parish of Killagally, the town and lands of Stronestown, containing by estimation 200 acres, profitable land, Irish plantation measure, be they more or less, and the town and lands of Clourabegg, containing by estimation 100 acres, profitable land, plantation measure, be they more or less situate, lying and being in the barony of Garrycastle and King’s County, with all the buildings, orchards, gardens, commons, fisheries, mines, liberties, privileges, profits, appendances, and appurtenances to said lands and premises belonging or appertaining or therewith or with any part thereof commonly used or enjoyed and likewise all that and those the town sand lands of Ardnagrath, Cordall, Meenietri, Kilbanavan, Bally McAdam and East Menas, with every of their subden minations, rights, members and appurtenances, in as large and ample manner as the same were set out and allotted to Maurice, late Lord Brandon, by the deed of partition therein mentioned, and also all his, said Maurice, late Lord Brandon’s undivided share and proportion of the town and lands of Castle-Island, and of all other parts and parcels of said manor and seignory if any there be, which still remained undivided with the appurtenances which said lands and premises are situate, lying, and being in the seignory of Castle-Island, and manor of Mount Egleloy, all in said county of Kerry, and held in fee farm under Henry Arthur Herbert, then Lord Herbert, with the appurtenances or a competent part thereof for the residue of the terms of 200 years and 300 years therein mentioned, and remaining unexpired respectively, for the purposes therein directed. Dated this 21st day of October 1793, Thomas Burroughs.

Rev Arthur Chute, Rector of Molahaff, died in May 1763.

[25] ‘The principality of the O’Donoghue Mor alias the Manor of Ross’ by Rev John Quinlan, Kerry Champion, 10 February 1951.

[26] Chutes Western Herald, 26 March 1828.

[27] Report from the Select Committee on Manor Courts, Ireland; Together with the Minutes of Evidence, Appendix and Index, House of Commons, 10 July 1837, pp427-8.  Report signed by John Morphy, Seneschal, ‘a justice of the peace for the county of Kerry since 1808.’ The report also stated, ‘The manor courts of Ross and Molahiffe have no jurisdiction to imprison, therefore there are no prisons.  When distress is made, it is by virtue of a decree issued out of the manor court, after process has been duly serviced, and the case tried before the jury.’

[28] Stephen Gallwey was also High Constable of the barony of Magonihy, secretary to the Trustees of the Turnpike Board and agent of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company of London.  He died from ‘water on the chest’ in November at his house in Killarney and was buried in the family vault at Muckross Abbey.

Fr Prendergast of the Friary, Killarney, published the following notice of Stephen Gallwey and the Gallwey family: ‘Stephen Gallwey was uncle of the late popular agent of the Kenmare estates, Mr Thomas Gallwey.  This Stephen Gallwey was the most kind-hearted and generous benefactor of the poor who lived in Killarney in the first quarter of this century.  He was unmarried and having a fair competency as seneschal, as well as private means, his charities were unbounded.  He established a large emporium in New Street where the poor could buy everything they wanted as cheaply as in Cork.  Every countryman who dealt in the shop could be provided with a cheap dinner of the best and well-prepared food.  This, indeed, was a lesson he learned from the good Lord Kenmare of the day; as a table was always spread in the old mansion of any one for the town or any of the tenants who wished to participate of the noble lord’s generosity.  I have heard from our late Syndic that he himself remembered these good old days and often saw the people of the town enjoy the hospitality of the mansion.  The Gallwey family are of Danish extraction.  They were the principal families of Cork in the 15th and 16th centuries; in fact, Cork seemed to be completely in their power during these two hundred years.  In 1430, Geoffrey Gallwey was Mayor of Cork, as was Godfrey in 1436.  Patrick Gallwey was mayor in 1448 and John Gallwey in 1149 (sic). Then from 1453 to 1462 they were at the head of the city and again from 1471 to 1508 every year we find a member of the family mayor.  In the book of Distributions ‘Michael Gallwey had a lease on several plots of ground and a slate house in Killarney, December 1667.’  So that the family must have had a good position here, then, as assuredly there were very few slate houses in Killarney or Kerry at the time.  The family were agents and trusted friends of the House of Kenmare for nearly a century, as I have seen old leases and deeds signed by them for the estate as far back as the last quarter of the eighteenth century, in Mr Morough Bernard’s family papers.  The late Mr Thomas Gallwey was a man of rare literary powers, and if he had remained at the bar, would assuredly have attained to an eminent position on the Bench.  It must be said to his honour that he generously sacrificed this brilliant future to fulfil an onerous and disagreeable duty for well nigh twenty years.  He published Lays of Killarney, The Geraldine Bride and a translation of Lanciscius (vol I).  He was a constant and generous friend of our monastery and left us a great number of … [illeg]. His brother, the Very Rev Father Gallwey, is well known as one of the most distinguished members of the Jesuits Order in England.  The beautiful work, Watches of the Passion will hand down his name to posterity as one of the most learned and eloquent, ascetic writers of our day.  His sermons are masterpieces of chaste and classic English, and have justly caused him to be esteemed the best preacher in London during the last thirty years.  Some genealogists have derived the origin of the Gallwey family from the Bourkes of Gallwey.  But this is a pure myth for which there is not the shadow of foundation.   The Gallweys have shown through their whole history that they are the descendants of the practical business-like Gallwey Scandinavians and the Coppingers of Cork, of whose origin no one ever doubted.  Sir Geoffrey Galway, the head of the family in the time of James I, was created Baronet of Ireland.  This baronetcy is now extinct.  The Payne Galwey baronetecy is only through the maternal line.  The family vault of the Kerry Galweys is in Muckross Abbey of which we intend to speak in our History of Muckross.  The style is of the renaissance and of course is not in keeping with the severe Gothic of the church.  It was erected by the people of Killarney to the memory of Father Gallwey’s mother, who was a holy and most charitable lady in her day’ (‘Antiquities of Killarney’ by Father Jarlath OSF, Kerry Sentinel, 27 November 1897). 

Further reference, Muckross Abbey: A History by Father Jarlath Prendergast.  Reproduced in 2018.  Fr Prendergast died before completion of his history of the abbey and the Gallwey tomb was not included. 

Genealogy in ‘Gallwey of Killarney’, The Galweys & Gallweys of Munster, Updated & Computerised by Andrew Galwey & Tim Gallwey, Revised issue 2015.

[29] Tralee Mercury, 22 May 1830.  ‘The framing of the Manorial Bye-laws by which the late much lamented seneschal and his Market Jury were governed were read over and after some trifling alteration agreed to’.

‘Died, Charlotte, wife of John Morphy Esq, Seneschal of Killarney and sister of Christopher Galwey Esq.  Her naturally strong constitution resisted for some time the malady by whichshe was assailed, but she yielded at length to its violence.  Her children have to lament the loss of a parent who watched over them with earnest anxiety and her husband one who, in his hours of illness, exhibited the deepest attention and solicitude’ (Limerick Chronicle, 16 January 1839).

Charlotte Gallwey (1786-1839) married John Morphy of Mount Prospect, Co Kerry in 1807 and left issue: John Stephen Morphy (1811-1861), Thomas Morphy (1812-1871), Richard Morphy (b1812), Alexander Morphy (c1827-1889), Charlotte (b1809), Jane (1810-1840), Maria (1814).  Reference, ‘Gallwey of Killarney’, The Galweys & Gallweys of Munster, Updated & Computerised by Andrew Galwey & Tim Gallwey, Revised issue 2015.

Muckross Abbey: A History by Father Jarlath Prendergast (reproduced in 2018) contains remarks on Morphy / Windele genealogy (pp254 and 408).

See also note on Mount Prospect in The Church of Ireland in Co Kerry (2011), pp352-8.

By 1840, John Morphy’s residence had changed to Ballyvorrane.

[30] Issue of Richard and Margaret Agnes Morphy:
  1. Rev David Richard Morphy (1830-1893) Rector of Hessett, Suffolk, who married Mary Elizabeth Tomson in 1870 and had issue.
  2. Major Martin Morphy (1839-1880). Major Martin Murphy and his wife, Isabel, daughter of William Tomson Esq of Clifton Lawn, Ramsgate, Kent (also Manstone Court) who were married at Stephen’s, Bayswater, on 9 July 1872, were both killed in a landslip at Naini Tal, Uttarakhand, India on 18 September 1880. Isabel’s sister, Sarah Kate, wife of Capt H F Turnbull, also lost her life.
  3. Nathaniel J Morphy, Royal Navy (c1830-1854). ‘Mr Nathaniel J Morphy, mate of Her Majesty’s steamship Vulture – missing with twenty-seven of his party, in the disastrous attach of the flotilla on the Russian station off Gamis Carleby, in the Gulf of Bothnia, is son of Richard Morphy Esq of Killarney. Lieutenant Charles A Wise, RN, of the Vulture, reporting the result of the attack to Rear-Admiral James Hanway Plumridge, admits that the paddle-box boat of that ship, commanded by Mr Morphy, was destroyed by the enemy’s fire, immediately before which he ‘observed Mr Morphy in charge of the boat, encouraging his crew with gallantry’ (Cork Examiner, 10 July 1854).
‘An English Memorial in Finland: On the 8th of June 1854, during the Crimean war, a small English detachment attacked the town of Gamla Karleby in Finland but was obliged to withdraw after an encounter near Halkokari.  The detachment had several officers and privates killed and lost one boat.  The Finnish population have erected a monument on the spot where they buried the dead.  The monument has the following inscription: ‘Here lie nine of the English who were killed in the fight by Halkokari on the 8th of June 1854 – namely, Nathaniel Morphy, officer; Robert Thuell, William Collins, George Wilson, William Wedge, James Westake, Walter Crubb, Robert Rundell and James Higgins.  Pray for them.  They were men, no matter whether friends or foes. They fell in battle, and a foreign country has given them a record.’  Every year on the 8th of June the tomb is covered with flowers. (St James’s Gazette, 24 June 1887).  ‘Pray for the fallen, brothers they were,/Friend or foe, we here do not care,/Away from the battle and struggle they went,/A foreign land renders them thus a lament’ (Pall Mall Gazette, 22 June 1887).
  1. Harriette Maria Morphy (1834-1892) who married Charles Cheyne and had issue.
[31] His wife, Margaret Agnes Morphy, born 1798, died on 28 September 1863.

[32] ‘The last of this line was Seneschal Morphy, who figures largely in the Famine period in Killarney.  A quaint circumstance is that many of the old leases granted in Killarney Town are based on a duty of service at the Manorial Mill at Deanagh thus rendering the holders serfs in law – not Freemen.  It is to be placed on record to the credit of the Brownes – later Earls of Kenmare that between 1765 and 1895 they gave a total of close on £40,000 to Catholic charities of various kinds.  There is one other delicious item which deserves historical preservation.  At some stage or other, the Earl of Kenmare became entitled to nominate the Killarney parson but was debarred by law from exercising the right being a Catholic. But if you consult the weird and necessary Act which established the protestant Church of Ireland in 1870, you will learn that the Earl received £5,813 18s 9d for being legally deprived of the illegal right to a legal right!’ (‘The principality of the O’Donoghue Mor alias the Manor of Ross’ by Rev John Quinlan, Kerry Champion, 10 February 1951).

Further reference, ‘A Manor Court in Seventeenth Century Ireland’ by Raymond Gillespie, Irish Economic and Social History Vol. 25 (1998), pp. 81-87.

[33] Meeting of Killarney Town Commissioners, 26 June 1860.  Report in Kerry Evening Post, 4 July 1860.  ‘The town of Killarney, as at present laid out, is not much more than a century old. The date 1752 is engraved in the limestone block over the archway at the old market place.  In former times and up to a recent period, the government of the town was provided for by the machinery, once very effective, of a Court Leet or frank pledge and a seneschal.  By the kindness of Mr Morphy, I have been enabled to examine the records of those old Courts Leet which extend from 1794 to 1841.  I shall now only say that they contain bye-laws relating to important as well as to the most minute matters and evince the great care and wisdom of our ancestors … With the old system, the feudal machinery of Courts Leet, Market Jurors and Seneschals, have vanished and Petty Sessions Courts, the constabulary force and the Town Commission have succeeded.’

An obituary to Timothy Moriarty of Ballintarman House, Annascaul, who died on 15 August 1909, described him as ‘the only surviving Seneschal in Ireland’ (Kerry Evening Post, 4 September 1909).