Donough MacCarty, 1st Earl of Clancarty

Donagh [Donough] MacCarthy, 1st Earl of Clancarty, 2nd Viscount Muskerry (Irish: Donnchadh Mac Cárthaigh; 1594 – August, 1665) was an Irish noble. He sat in the Irish House of Commons in the Irish Parliaments of 1634 and 1639 as member for County Cork. He married Ellen (Eleanor) Butler (died April 1682), who was the younger sister of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde. The Earl served as a Munster general during the Irish Confederate Wars. He was one of the ten named in Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652 as leaders of the Royalist forces in Ireland.

On the death of his father Charles MacCarty, 1st Viscount Muskerry in 1640, Donagh inherited the title. In 1658 Charles II granted him the title of Earl of Clancarty. During most of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, he was referred to as Viscount Muskerry.


The son of Charles and grandson of Sir Cormac MacCarthy who received English title to his lands towards the end of the 16th century Tudor conquest of Ireland, Donough MacCarthy came from the line of the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty based on the barony of Muskerry in what is now mid-western County Cork.

Unlike many Catholic Gaelic Irish families, these MacCarthys prospered in the Protestant English state of Ireland in the early 17th century. However, Donagh MacCarthy was forced into rebellion against this state by the events of the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The rebellion had been launched by Catholic Gaelic Irish gentry from the northern province of Ulster in October 1641. Initially, Muskerry raised an armed force of his tenants and dependants to try to maintain law and order. However, he was prompted to join the rebellion by the atrocities committed by English President of Munster, William St Leger, against the Irish Catholic population in general.

In addition, many of Muskerry's relatives, who had lost lands to Protestant settlers in the Plantations of Ireland had already joined the rebellion – a factor which doubtless influenced Muskerry's decision. In 1642, he put his armed men at the service of the Confederate Catholic Association of Ireland, an alternative, Catholic government based in Kilkenny which had been formed by the rebels.

Confederate War

Viscount Muskerry was appointed to the "Supreme Council" of the Confederation of Kilkenny, their effective government. He was part of the team that negotiated with Charles I and his representative in Ireland, James Butler, Earl of Ormonde to secure an alliance between the Irish Confederates and English Royalists in the context of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Ormonde was Donough's brother-in-law. Muskerry was sympathetic towards Royalism and disliked the more intranisgent Confederates as represented by Giovanni Battista Rinuccini and Owen Roe O'Neill. He was present at the Confederate Catholic victory at Cloghlea in 1643. As general of the Munster Confederate Army, he has even been accused by one historian (Tadhg O Hanrachain in The Catholic Reformation in Ireland) of sabotaging the campaign of the Munster army before the battle of Knocknanauss in 1647 to pressure the Confederates into accepting the deal he and his allies had negotiated with Ormonde.

The Confederates did approve a treaty with Charles II and the English Royalists in 1649, shortly after the execution of Charles I by the English Parliament and the declaration of the Commonwealth of England. However, Ireland was soon invaded by the Parliamentarian New Model Army in 1649 under Oliver Cromwell, who had the twin aims of avenging the uprising of 1641, confiscating enough Irish Catholic owned land to pay off some of the Parliament's creditors and eliminating a dangerous outpost of Royalism. See Cromwellian conquest of Ireland 1649–53.

Muskerry fought the last three years of this campaign in his own lands in west Cork and Kerry, from where he raised troops from his tenants and guerrilla bands known as "tories". He was one of the last Irish commanders to surrender to the English. Following his defeat by General Roger Boyle, later Earl of Orerry at the Battle of Knocknaclashy 1651 he fell back into the mountains of Kerry. In June 1652 he surrendered, relinquishing his remaining fortress Ross Castle near Killarney on 27 June. Following the disbandment of his 5,000-man army, he fled Ireland and later travelled to Spain. He would later be awarded the title of Earl of Clancarty by Charles II, eventually restoring his estates with the Act of Settlement 1662 before his death in London in August 1665. His sons Charles and Justin MacCarthy, Viscount Mountcashel served in the English forces, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War and Williamite war in Ireland respectively.


Children of Donough MacCarthy, 1st Earl of Clancarty and Eleanor Butler:

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Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Clancarty
1st creation
Succeeded by
Charles MacCarty
Preceded by
Charles MacCarty
Viscount Muskerry
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