FΓ‘ilte Romhat

  History of Bandon 1869 - Clonakilty






With Two Chromo-Litographic Illustrations


' The pleasant Bandon crowned with many a wood."









About twelve miles from Bandon lies the town of Clonakilty. It is situated in the parish of Kilgarriff, and in the eastern division of the barony of East Carbery. Up to nearly twenty-five years ago Clonakilty was spelt Cloughnakilty, and previous to that it was Cloughneekeelty (that is, according to some, the stone * of Kilty — a family of that name having occupied the site on which the town stands before any houses were erected there). Others derive it from Cluan Callow (the harbour of tho valley). Another derivation — and probably the correct one — is Cluan Keeltha (the harbour of the woods) †.

In all likelihood the town was founded by some of those who came over to the new colony on the banks of the Bandon towards the close of Elizabeth's reign, as the names of many of its first inhabitants are common to both settlements — one brother settling in one place, and another in the other.

That they were English, and that they professed the same religious and political opinions as their fellow-colonists at Bandon-Bridge, may be looked upon as equally certain. Amongst the first that settled here were : —


* It is stated that the stone from which the term Clough is derived may still be seen at the side of the street opposite the court-house, and adjoining the entrance to the butter-market.

† We take this opportunity of acknowledging our obligations to our friend, Zachariah Hawkes, Esq., for much interesting information to be found scattered throughout these pages.



















































The town was of some importance as early as 1605 ; in which year — according to Smith — it was incorporated. That a representative body of some sort did really exist at that time appears from a petition dated July the 5th, 1605, and addressed to the authorities at Cork, " from the portreeve and corporation of Cloughnakilty."

In 1613, however, a charter was granted to the town by James the First, by which the inhabitants were incorporated as the "sovereign, free-burgesses, and commonalty of the borough of Cloughnakilty."

The charter, which was a lengthy document, appointed Sir Richard Boyle — and, after him, his heirs and successors — as " lord of the town ;" and authorized him to elect, nominate, and choose one of three names to be presented to him by the burgesses, who were to assemble for that purpose on St. James's day, July 25th ; and the person nominated by him† was to be sworn as sovereign on the following St. Luke's day, October 18th.

The lord of the town also appointed the recorder, who, as well as the


* The Rev. James Morgan — probably a descendant of Morgan, one of the first settlers — was born in Clonakilty in 1741. He wrote the life of the Rev. Thomas Walshe (a distinguished preacher among the Wesleyans), and other works. He died in Dublin at the early age of twenty-seven. He is described in a MS. lately in our possession as " a scholar, clear head, neat and clean man."

† On one occasion " the lord of the town" neglected to select a name from those presented to him in the usual way, whereupon the corporation laid their case before an eminent lawyer — Mr. Francis Bernard, solicitor-general. I have perused (said counsel) a copy of the charter of Cloughnakilty, which was laid before me by Captain Snowe ; and as the charter is worded, I am of opinion as followeth, viz. : — That if the corporation has done its duty by nominating three persons on St. James's day, and presenting their names to the lord of the soyle in due time, and his lordship has neglected to signitie to the corporation the person he designs should be sworn suffrain before the day of swearing, then, and in such case, there being a neglect in the lord of the soyle, the right of election is, as I can conceive, devolved on the corporation, and they may elect and swear in a magistrate on St. Luke's day. This opinion was endorsed by a very competent authority. "I am of the same opinion," says Sir Richard Cox, ex-Lord-Chancellor.


sovereign, was a justice of the peace for the borough and liberties — the latter embracing a district of three miles long by three in breadth, with the old chapel in the middle of the town for its centre. In addition, the sovereign and recorder were also empowered to hold a court of record for the recovery of debts and the determining of pleas, not exceeding twenty pounds late Irish currency.

A manor court was held on the third Wednesday in every month by a seneschal, where debts could be recovered to the amount of forty shillings.

The corporation consisted of a sovereign and burgesses. The burgesses were never to exceed twenty-four in number, or to be less than thirteen. As vacancies would occur amongst them they were to be filled up from the freemen, and the freemen themselves were to be nominated by the burgesses. The corporation was to be assisted in the performance of its duties by a sergeant-at-mace, three constables, a toll-collector, and a weigh-master.

The right of sending two members to Parliament was also conferred on the town by this charter; and this privilege it continued to exercise until the passing of the Act of Union in 1800, when it was disfranchised.

The first two members returned for Clonakilty were : — Sir Edward Harris, Knt., Cahirmoney, and Sir Henry Gosnell, Knt. Their return is dated May 3rd, 1613*


* The following is a complete list of those who represented the town from 1613, when it sent its first two members to Parliament, down to, and including its last : —

1613 (May 3rd).— Sir Edward Hanis, Knt. ; Sir Henry Gosnell, Knt.

1634. — Sir Robert Travers, Knt. ; Phillip Manwaring, Esq.

1639 (February 24th). — Sir Robert Travers, Knt. ; Peregrine Banastre, Esq.

1661 (April 8th). — Joshua Boyle, Esq., Castle-Lyons; Arthur Freke, Esq.

1692 (September 1st). — Sir Percy Freke, Bart., Castle-Freke ; Francis Bernard, Esq., Castle-Mahon.

1695 (August 12th).— Sir Percy Frcke, Bart.; Bryan Townsend, Esq., Castle- Townsend.

1703 (September 1st). — Sir Ralph Freke, Bart., Castle-Freke; Lieutenant- Colonel George Freke.

1713 (October 28th). — Sir Ralph Freke ; Brigadier-General George Freke.

1715 (October 17th). — Sir Ralph Freke, Bart. ; Brigadier-General George Freke.

1717 (September 1st). — Richard Cox, Esq„ Duiummwuy {vice Sir Ralph Freke, deceased).

1725 (September 26th). — Francis Bernard, junr., Esq., Castle-Mahon {vice Cox, deceased).

1727 (October 16th). — Francis Bernard, junr., Esq.; Sir Richard Cox, Bart., Dunmanway.

1761 (May 1st) .—Richard Lord Boyle, Castle-Martyr; Sir Richard Cox, Bart.

1761 (November 27th). — Henry Shears, Esq., Golden Bush (vice Lord Boyle,

returned for the county of Cork).

1766 (February 15th).— Matthew Parker, Esq., Youghal (vice Cox, deceased.)


When the great rebellion broke out in 1641, Clonakilty suffered severely. It had no walls to protect it, and it was therefore almost at the mercy of any persons who choose to walk in and help themselves to the property of its inhabitants.

On one occasion, Joan Barry* marched into the town at the head of three hundred women, and ransacked every house that was in it. There was no opposing these Amazons. With one weapon in their fist, and another between their teeth, they could bewilder as well as pommel their antagonists. Quickly they overspread devoted Clonakilty. Like a swarm of locusts they pitched upon everything. The curiosity and the pillaging proclivities of Joan's "red shanks," left nothing escape them. These unwomanly women stuffed everything into their bottomless wallets. Candles and taffety were in all likelikeod wedged in with silks and pickled pork, whilst salt fish and ribbons were in juxta position with pots of pomatum and new-laid eggs.

After bringing her regiment of rebels together, they set out for home; but whether they fell in or fell out on the line of march — whether they helped one another with their knapsacks, or scrawled one another's eyes out — we are unable to say. At all events they walked off, leaving many a full heart behind them, and an empty shelf.

On another occasion she commanded upwards of a hundred men and women, and again attacked the town.

But Joan was not the only one who visited Clonakilty with bad intentions. Teige O'Hea, of Kilgarriff, made off with the cattle of one townsman, and, in conjunction with Garrett Arundell, of Ring, he robbed another.

Cornelius O'Crowly† disarmed another settler, and he stripped him


1768 (July 7th). — Richard Longfield, Esq., Castle-Mary ; Riggs Falkiner, Esq., Cork.

1776.— Thomas Adderly, Esq. ; A. Wood, Esq.

1784.— Charles O'Neil.

1792..— Sir J. C. Colthurst.

1793. — Viscount Boyle.

1794. — J. Hobson, junr.

1797. — Thomas Prendergast.

At the Union, Lord Shannon — a descendant of the first lord of the town — was awarded £15,000 as compensation for the disfranchisement of his town.

* Joan Barry was a widow lady. She lived at Mucins, and was the mother of David McPhillip Barry, a captain in the rebel army.

†Teige O'Hea, Garrett Arundell, and Cornelius Crowly were indicted for treason at the great sessions held at Youghal, August 2nd, 1642, and outlawed subsequently in the King's Bench.


and his wife and three children, in the beginning of the month of February, and left them, " with divers others, to the number of five- and-forty,"* to shiver in the cold. †

Donogh O'Shea, of Ring, robbed another townsman, and then took away his clothes.

Dermod Duffe took a man's coat and hat away, and "then took some necessaries from his pocket." And " one Tom Barry," who pretended to be a friend of another Clonakilty man, kept two trunks full of clothes, two brass kettles, a sword, a brass skillet, and divers other small things which he was entrusted to take care of by a poor fellow whose wife the rebels murdered the year before.

Several of the townspeople made their escape to Bandon ; and one of them (Walter Bird), contrived to take the charter and other corporation documents with him ; but many of them remained — amongst others, Mr. Linscombe, the sovereign. He, poor fellow, was a very quiet, in offensive man, and the Irish — with whom he appeared to be a favourite — assured him that there was no fear whatever of him; and we have no doubt but that several of the leaders of the great movement in this quarter‡ intended to dispossess the colonists of their lands, and redress some of their alleged grievances — but no more. But when once their followers had tasted blood, their thirst became insatiable. Laying hold of Mr. Linscombe, they forced him to drink until his nauseated stomach rejected the fluid, and then they hanged him at his own door.

During the siege of Rathbarry Castle, an effort was made to relieve it by a detachment of the Bandon militia, and the Scotch regiment commanded by Lord Forbes. Upon their arrival in Clonakilty, one company of the Bandonians and two of the Scots remained behind in the town. Being suddenly attacked by the Irish, the Scotch companies were cut to pieces, but the Bandonians forced their way to the old Danish fort on the road to Ross, where they defended themselves until the return of the troops who marched to Rathbarry ; then uniting with


* See MSS. Trinity College, Dublin.

† Amongst those stripped were: — John Justice, of Clonakilty, and his son, Edward; Mills and his son, and his son's wife and three children; Chapman Sheapheard, his wife and children; Ellen Duttill, Mabel Hollowell, Mary Ware, Cotter. They were stripped in John Baker's house in Clonakilty, on the 10th of February, 1612.

‡ Lord Muskerry, for instance, who took a very prominent part in the rebellion, hanged several of his own followers for thieving.


them, they all fell on the rebels, upwards of six hundred of whom were destroyed.*

The town never recovered from the effects of the ill-usage it received in the great rebellion.

Before 1641 the town flourished greatly, says Smith ; but being then burned down, it has since but slowly recovered.

In 1679 tradesmen's tokens were issued at Clonakilty. One of these, at present in the collection of an eminent numismatist, has, on the obverse, the coat of arms of the issuer, and on the reverse, " Cloghnikilty, PE. IB. farthing."

A quo warranto was issued against the corporation by Tyrconnell, and the old charter set aside. A new one was then conferred on the town, dated July 12th, 1688, in which one Daniel McCarthy was appointed sovereign, and twenty-four burgesses were nominated with him. This did not remain long in force, and the town resumed its original charter again.

On the 11th of April, 1691, five hundred of the Irish soldiers in James's service attacked the town, but they were valiantly repulsed by the garrison, which consisted of fifty dragoons and twenty-four men belonging to Captain Fenwick's company of foot.

The two oldest documents to be found at present among the records of the Clonakilty corporation have reference to the election of John Townsend as sovereign of the town : —

Borough of Clonakilty.  At a court of record held in the borough the 25th of July, 1675, Thomas Gookin, the present sovereign, John Townsend, and William Warner, Esquires, being free-burgesses of the said borough, were chosen and elected to be presented to the Rt. Honble Richard, Earl of Cork, to the end that one of them may be nominated and appointed by his lordship to be the sovereign the next ensuing year, according to his Majesty's most gracious grant in that behalf.

John Sweet, junr.

Thomas Gookin, sovereign,

David Jerman.

Richard Cox, recorder.

Abel Guilliams.

John Townsend.

Walter Harris.

John Birde.

William Warner.

Richard Travers.

Cornelius Townsend.

Samuel Jervois.

John Freke.

Edward Jenkins.

 The following oath was administered to the sovereign on St. Luke's day, October 18th:—


* For additional particulars of this affair see chapter 22.


You, A. B., shall well and truly serve the King's most excellent Majesty, his heirs and successors, in the place or office of the sovereign of the borough of Clonakilty for this year to come, or for so long time as you shall continue sovereign of the same within the said year. You shall truly and indifferently administer justice, right, as well to the poor as to the rich, without any respect, dread, gain, reward, favour, or affection. You shall delay no man's case to be depending before you, other than the laws of the land shall admit ; and finally, as in these, so in whatsoever else that may or shall concern your said place or office, you shall well and truly do, or cause the same to be done to the utter most of your understanding and knowledge — so help your God.

The return of the sovereign was duly certified as follows : — .

Borough of Clonakilty. At a court held for the borough, the 18th day of October, John Townsend, Esq., one of the free-burgesses of the borough, pursuant to the nomination and appointment of the Rt. Honble Richard, Earl of Cork and Burlington, Lord High- Treasurer of Ireland and lord of the said borough, was sworn sovereign of the said borough for the next ensuing year, and had the ensigns of authority delivered to him before the late sovereign and the under named burgesses : —

John Sweet.

Richard Cox, recorder.

Cornelius Townsend.

Emanuel Moore.

Thomas Gookin.

Jonas Stawell.

1678    Jonas Stawell, sovereign. The tolls of the fairs,* markets, and customs were let for five years, at the rate of nine pounds yearly, to James Barry and John Spiller ; " and if they find their bargain hard, they may surrender at the year's end. The freemen are not to pay custom for anything they buy, except on market and fair days." It does not appear that Barry and Spiller found their bargain hard, as — upon the expiration of the five years — they entered into a new contract with the corporation, and agreed to pay the increased rent of twenty pounds annually.

1687    The records contain no account of the transactions of the corporation from this year until February 4th, 1692; when Mr. Charles Gookin was elected burgess. It is highly probable that the interval was occupied by the proceedings of James the Second's corporation ; and that, upon the restoration of law and order under William, nearly everything connected with their civic connection with the town was destroyed. The only thing about them that has survived, is that John Hull, who was sworn in as sovereign for the year beginning


* Three fairs are held under the old charter — April 5th, Octoher 10th, and Novera- her 12th ; and two more were established by patent dated July 11th, 1788 — namely, on June the 1st and July the 3rd.


in October, 1687, was set aside by Tyrconnell's new sovereign — Dan McCarthy.

1692    On the 7th of September, Francis Bernard, Esq., was sworn and admitted recorder, before Thomas Gookin, Esq., sovereign, and Piercy Freke, Bryan Townsend, and Edward Jenkins, burgesses ; pursuant to the Earl of Cork's order, dated July 7th, 1692. Mr. Bernard was appointed in place of Richard Cox, who was made a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. A week after Mr. Bernard was appointed recorder, he and his cousin-german — Colonel Piercy Freke — were elected to represent the town in the new Parliament that was to assemble at Chichester House, Dublin, on the ensuing 5th of October.

Borough of Clonakilty. Pursuant to a precept directed to the sovereign, burgesses, and commonalty of this borough, returnable on Monday, the nineteenth day of this instant, grounded upon their Majesty's writ of summons, to choose two burgesses, of the most discreet and the most sufficient men of the said town, to be and appear at the next Parliament, to be held at Dublin on the fifth day of October next, we, the said sovereign, burgesses, and commonalty, have freely and unanimously elected and chosen Colonel Piercy Freke and Francis Bernard, Esq., recorder of the said borough, to serve in the said Parliament, this fourteenth of September, 1692.


Thomas Gookin, sovnn

Samuel Jervois.


Francis Bernard, recdr

Abel Guilliams,

John Jermyn (treasurer),

Richard Travers.

Bryan Townsend.

Alexander Arundell.

William Warner

Piercy Freke


Edward Jenkins

Samuel Jervois, jun.

1699    A stringent rule was passed against forestallers buying before ten in the morning.

"Whereas several foreigners, on market days, in the morning, engrosses the several provisions and commodities brought thereto, to the great detriment of the inhabitants of the said borough. We therefore find and present, that any person not living within the said borough, that henceforth shall buy or earnest anything brought to the said market before the hour of ten o'clock in the forenoon, shall pay to the poor of the parish the sum of one shilling out of each crown laid out or earnested for the same, and such proportion to be paid to the church wardens, to the use of the said poor, for the time being ; and that no townsman buy for any foreigner, under any pretence whatever, under the penalty aforesaid."

The same year that they imposed this penalty of twenty per cent, upon all sums expended by foreigners in Clonakilty market, the corporation were determined to show that they looked after the morals of their people as well as after cheap food. "We find and present," said those chaste burgesses, " that Honora Keliher is reputed to be a common w__e, by having two bastards by two several persons, and humbly desire as such she may be prosecuted." But they did not confine their solicitude merely to cheap provisions and morals — they looked after the health of their people also. They gave directions "that the dunghills which are now in the streets, to the great nuisance of all the neighbourhood, be removed within three weeks; and that, for the future, no dunghill lie in the street from the making of the same, upon pain and penalty of one shilling.

1704    A resolution of the burgesses this year shows us how they managed to keep up the roads in their vicinity in those days. "We find and present," said they, "that the road leading from Clonakilty to Timoleague — between the lands of Cahirgale, Gullames, and Dorrery — ought to be repaired ; and that three men out of each ploughland, living within the corporation, repair the same." Should they, or any of them, refuse to come, "they must pay a shilling each, to be levied by the corporation constable. Mr. Herbert Baldwin and Capt. Richard Hungerford to oversee the work, that it is properly done. The said men to appear at the work with spades and shovels." When the road, however, lay within the jurisdiction of the corporation, it was repaired out of a rate levied off the townlands within the liberties. Thus, when the road from Clonakilty to the strand, through the lands of Laconagubbodane, was out of order, twopence per ploughland throughout the corporation was passed to restore it; the money to be levied by the petty constable.

1706    Robert Travers, sovereign. Before Travers was elected, he promised "to finish that part of the market house that now is lathed within-side, glaze the said house, and hang up the bells, upon his own cost and charge within his year."

1715    Michael Beecher, who had been nominated sovereign by the lord of the town, could not attend to be sworn on St. Luke's day, "he having the gout." Originally Clonakilty was built in the form of a cross; but, as trade increased, streets sprang out in every direction, and crossing the Farlah, formed another town on its southern banks. After the manufacture of woollens had ceased, Clonakilty became celebrated for its linen yarn; and on market-days large sums were expended in the purchase of this — for over two centuries its staple product ; but the yarn trade, too, has died out, and the town now relies for support on its dealings with the farmers in its neighbourhood.

The parish church, which was situated on an eminence overhanging the present Main Street, was built by the first Earl of Cork,* who also planted the town with English Protestants. In 1679, although there was no other church for the Protestant inhabitants of Inchidonny, Templebrian, Desert, Killkerran, Rathbarry, and Ardfield, to worship in, yet so much was it suffered to fall out of repair, that the Grand Jury of the county were obliged to come to its relief, and pass a pre sentment, levying the sum of eight shillings off every ploughland in the parishes just mentioned, to render it suitable for divine service.

The present church, which is a plain, unpretending structure, was built on the site of the original church, which was taken down in 1818. It is capable of accommodating five hundred persons, and was erected at a cost of £1,460.

Clonakilty contains also a Presbyterian church — a very handsome edifice, erected within the last few years ; a "Wesleyan chapel, which has been recently enlarged and beautified ; and a Roman Catholic chapel.

The bay, to which the town has given its name, is spacious but illprotected. In Smith's time, its eastern boundary was formed by one of the Dunworly headlands; †  on the west it was bounded by Dunny Cove. The water was eight fathoms in depth on the Dunworly side, five on the western side, and no less than twelve fathoms deep across the mouth of the bay.


* " * * Clonakilty, wherein he hath built a fair, new church, and made a plantation — all of English Protestants. See Particulars of the first Earl of Cork's Commonwealth Works.

† At present this headland forms the eastern boundary of what is now known as Dunworly Bay.