Clare County Library
Clare Genealogy

Donated Material: Family Histories, Biographies & Memoirs

The McMahons of Clonina
by James M. Molohan


The McMahons of Clonina were descended from the McMahons of Cnoc a' Locha (Knockalough) in the parish of Kilmihil who were one of the main branches of the McMahons, Lords of East Corcabascinn, who in turn were descended from Brian Ború, High King of Ireland.1 Mahone O'Brien d 1129, fourth in descent from Brian Ború, conquered the south west of the present county of Clare, displacing the O'Donnells as lords of the territory known as Corca Baiscinn. Mahone's descendants became known as MacMahons. In 1488 their territory was divided into two parts, East Corca Baiscinn and West Corca Baiscinn, the former being coterminous with the Barony of Clonderalaw. The history of this family is in many ways typical of the families of the old Gaelic aristocracy in Ireland who conquered a territory in medieval times and held it until they were overwhelmed by the power of the English Tudor monarchs and were forced to seek an accomodation with Henry VI11 and his successors. Thereafter families such as the McMahons who refused to conform to the new Protestant religion spent the next century and a half fighting a rearguard action to save what they could of their patrimonies until most of them lost everything following the capitulation of the Irish army of King James at Limerick in 1691.

Image 1: The McMahons of Clonina. Pedigree constructed by Martin Breen. Sources: RW Twigge, Mss from the British Library & elsewhere


The McMahons of Cnoc a' Locha

In 'The History & Topography of the County of Clare', James Frost gives a genealogy of the McMahons of Knockalocha in the barony of Clonderalaw based on the Annals of the Four Masters which lists four generations. It begins with Thomas who had a son Mahone, who in turn had a son Conor who married Bridget, daughter of Darius MacBrody of Knockanalban (Mountscot) who were the parents of Murtagh Cam (Mór) who died in 1599, and his brother John. Conor had a brother Thomas who was living with the Earl of Arundel in England. When John was aged 10, his uncle Thomas invited him to join him in England. John later went to Rome where he was ordained a Jesuit, and when he returned to England was hanged, drawn and quartered in 15942.
The noted antiquarian and scholar RW Twigge compiled a pedigree of the McMahons of Corca Baiscinn going back to Brian Ború in which he refers to Murtagh Cam as Muirchertach Cam Mór. Seán Ó hÓgáin has a detailed genealogy of these McMahons in his 1938 book 'Conntae an Chláir: a triocha agus a tuatha'.

An Inquisition taken at Ennis on 3rd April 1626 found that Murtagh Cam (Mór) was owner of Sheeaun, Knockbrack, and Lack; that he devised these lands in trust to Scanlon MacGorman and Mahone MacMahon by a Deed dated 10th August, 1585, for the use of his son, Thomas MacMahon, then of full age3.

An Inquisition taken at Ennis on 18th April 1630 found that Thomas, son of Murtagh (Cam Mór) MacMahon, being owner of Sheen and Knockbrack, demised same, in 1611, to Teige Roe MacMahon and Conor Roe MacMahon, of Mooghaun, in trust for his own use, with remainder to his son Murtagh; finds that the same Thomas, being owner of Knockalough and Knockmore, conveyed these, by Deed of 1621, to his son Murtagh, in trust for the use of himself, of his son, and of his son’s wife More, and of their descendants. Twigge refers to Murtagh, son of Thomas, as Muirchertagh Cam Óg.

Knockalough was held in 1641 by Murtagh MacMahon, John MacNamara and John O’Gillahinane, from whom it was confiscated in 1652, as were most of the McMahon's ancestral lands4. Most of these lands were allocated to English Cromwellian adventurers and to displaced innocent Papists. These lands were sold in 1676 and some were acquired by Daniel O'Brien of Carrigaholt, 3rd Viscount Clare.

It seems that Murtagh who held Knockalough in 1641 was the Murtagh of the 1621 Deed (Muirchertach Cam Óg), whose wife was More (Máire), and who was son of Thomas and grandson of Muirchertach Cam Mór. According to Twigge, Muirchertach Cam Óg had a son Thomas who was slain while participating in the siege of Bunratty Castle by the Confederate forces in 1642. This Thomas left a son Mortogh, then a young child. By 1659 this Mortogh McMahon together with Dermot Considine was in occupation of Ballynagun as tenants of Lord Clare5. At that time Ballynagun had thirty nine occupants, all of whom were Catholics.

In 1641 Kiltumper was held by Brian McMahon Esq, Murtagh McMahon and Thomas McMahon. In the same parish of Kilmihil, Brian and Murtagh McMahon the elder held the townlands of Ballyduneen & Corraige, while Murtagh McMahon held Sheeaun. Donough, son of Brian McMahon held Aghaga6. Murtagh McMahon the younger, John McNamara and Thomas O'Cloghessy were the three occupants of Lissanair alias Derrycrossane7. Brian McMahon Esq and Brian McMahon Gent, presumably father and son, held Lack.

According to Mrs Morgan John O'Connell, more than a century afterwards Mortogh McMahon of Clonina commissioned a local scholar named Considine to produce a genealogy of his family8. Considine went to Peter O'Connell, a local hedge school teacher who was a well known scholar and scribe. It seems that O'Connell got the necessary information from the papers of Hugh MacCurtin (who died in 1755) and whose family had been the hereditary historians of Thomond. O'Connell presented his findings to Mortogh saying casually that it contained 'all the fathers since Brian Ború but only the mothers since one Brian McMahon who was grandfather to Murtagh's ancestor of Cromwellian times'.

This implies that Muirchertach Cam Óg was succeeded by Brian. If so, this must be the Brian Esq who in 1641 held Kiltumper jointly with Thomas and Murtagh McMahon, presumably Brian's sons. However it seems likely that Twigge's version is more accurate than Considine's.

On 4th March 1689 Mortaugh McMahon of Ballynagon Gent was on a list of the members of a Special Jury summoned by Sir Donough O'Bryen Bart, High Sheriff, on a trial Nisi Prius of Colonel Garrett Moore9.

In 1689 Murtagh McMahon of Knockalocha was appointed an Ensign in Col Charles O'Brien's Regiment of Infantry in the Irish Jacobite Army. The description 'of Knockalocha' seems to refer to Murtagh's ancestry rather than his then place of residence as the McMahons had not held Knockalough since 1652. By the time of the capitulation of the Irish Jacobite army at Limerick in 1691 Murtagh had been promoted to Captain.

The Chicester House List of Claims in 1700 lists Mortagh McMahon as a Claimant by Deed dated 17th September 1686 re the Town and Lands of Ballynagon, Barony of Moyarta. In another Petition in 1700, Murtagh M‘Mahon of Ballinagun, Gent, said that in 1668, Lord Clare demised to him the lands of Knockmore, alias Kiltinnins, alias Kiltumper, for the lives of the petitioner ... and of More his wife10. The Petitioner described himself as within the Articles of Limerick, and in that character claimed the residue of the term of his lease11.

Article 1 of the Treaty of Limerick stated that the "The Roman Catholics of this kingdom shall enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion as are consistent with the laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the reign of king Charles the second: and their majesties, ... will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such farther security in that particular, as may preserve them from any disturbance upon the account of their said religion". Article 2 of the Treaty stated that "all the commissioned officers in their majesties' quarters that belong to the Irish regiments now in being ... and who shall return and submit to their majesties' obedience ... shall hold, possess, and enjoy all and every their estates of freehold and inheritance, and all the rights, titles and interests, privileges and immunities, which they ... held, enjoyed ... in the reign of king Charles II ... and shall be put in possession, by order of the government, of such of them as are in the king's hands, or the hands of his tenants ... provided also, that no person whatsoever shall have or enjoy the benefit of this article, that shall neglect or refuse to take the oath of allegiance ... when thereunto required."

It thus seems that Mortogh took the oath of allegiance to William and Mary to prevent the confiscation of the lands which he held prior to 1688. This also entitled him to carry a sword, a gun and a case of pistols12.

In 1704 Murtagh McMahon of Ballynagon was surety for Fr Gilbert Brody, Parish Priest of Kilmacduane and Kilmihil. Charles, Thomas and Dennis, the sons of Mortagh McMahon of Ballynagon were named as lives in the lease of the lands of Cloninagh in the Abstract of Lands disposed of to John Craven in 1704 by Henry, Earl of Thomond.

Image 2: Knocklough Castle Ruin. Photo courtesy of Martin Breen

The Move to Clonina13

Mortagh McMahon and his family moved from Ballynagun to Clonina in 1705 as shown by the following deed which is preserved in the Studdert Papers in the National Library of Ireland, Ms. 20,63:

'This Indenture made the fourth and twentieth day of Augt in the year of our Lord God one thousand seven hundred and eight ... between Cornelius Gillereagh of Decamade in the County of Clare gent of the one part and Capt Mortogh McMahon of Cluoninagh in the County of Clare aforesd of the other part14. Witnesseth that whereas the right honourable the Lady Henrietta O'Brien now Countess of Bindon by a deed indented bearing date the fourteenth day of August in the year of our Lord God seventeen hundred and seven ... did demise and sett unto the sd Cornelius Gillereagh his heirs exors admors & assigns the farm and lands of Cluoninagh aforesd containing by estimation 1254 acres of land be the same more or less ... for the term of ninety and nine years ... to commence from the twenty fifth day of March ... seventeen hundred and five subject to the rents ... now in this Indenture Witnesseth that the sd Cornelius Gillereagh for several causes and considerations ... doth demise grant and to farme lett unto ye sd Mortogh McMahon all that and those the farme and lands of Cluoninagh aforesaid ... to have and to hold all and singularly ye sd premises with their appurtenances to ye sd Mortogh McMahon his exors & admors from the twenty fifth day of March in ye year seventeen hundred and five aforesd for and during & unto the full end and term of thirty one years from thence next entering ... if Charles Dennis & Thomas McMahon, sons of the sd Mortogh McMahon shall for long live he the sd Mortogh McMahon his exors admors & assigns ... and paying these ... yearly during ye sd terme to Cornelius Gillereagh ... and by ye said deed are reserved and made payable unto the yearly Rent of sixty nine pounds together with six pence a pound for soe much of ... rent as shall be payable'.

Mortogh McMahon died at Clonina in 171115. If he was the infant son of Thomas who was slain at Bunratty in 1642, he must have been aged at least 70 years when he died, and if so was aged at least 48 when he joined the army of King James in 1689. Mortogh seems to have married relatively late in life, almost certainly for the second time as we know from the Petition of 1700 that he was already married in 1668. We also know from a later deed that his eldest son Thomas was a minor in 1711 but had attained his majority by 1713, so was born in 1691 or 1692. Mortogh had three other sons after Thomas, ie Dennis, Mortogh junior and Charles. We know little of the latter and the last mention of him in any deeds concerning the family is in 1728. Twigge refers to Charles as Cormac and says that in 1729 he was a Lieutenant in Tracy's (sic) Regiment in Spain. There was never a regiment known as Tracy's in the Spanish Army and it is certain that this was a mistranscription of de Lacy's. General Patrick de Lacy commanded the Ultonia Regiment of the Spanish Army during the War of the Spanish Succession and thus it appears that this was the regiment to which Charles belonged. The records of the Archivo General de Simancas of the Spanish Ministry of Defence in Valladolid show that Teniente Reformado (Leiutenant on the Reserve List) Carlos MacMahon has served since 30th June 1720, first in the Hibernia regiment for nearly three years, then the Ultonia regiment since 20th June 1723. Total service to date, 4 years, 6 Months and 21 Days. The notes on the back, all positive, evaluate his performance and state that he is Irish and a gentleman. The note at the bottom by his immediate superior states 'This Officer, given his birth, conduct and application, deserves to be re-employed'. Thus it seems that Charles had been in Spain since he was aged about 20 or so and had been among the many sons of the old Irish Catholic aristocracy who saw no future for themselves in the new Ireland and preferred to join the 'Wild Geese' in the service of the European states which were perceived to be sympathetic to the Irish cause. Unfortunately there is no further reference to Charles/Carlos in the Spanish Military Archives. On balance it seems likely that Charles died without issue.

Before Mortogh McMahon died he appointed Cornelius Gillereagh as guardian to his four sons who were all still minors. At that time Mortogh held Clonina from Gillereagh who had acquired it from the Thomond Estate and on Mortogh's death Gillereagh arranged for Michael Comyn to acquire Clonina in trust for Mortogh's son and heir, Thomas.

Image 3: Deed of Transfer of Clonina from Michael Comyn to Thomas McMahon.

Thomas McMahon of Clonina

When Thomas succeeded his father the fortunes of the old Catholic Gaelic aristocracy were at a low ebb following the capitulation of Limerick twenty years earlier. Many had left for France with Lord Clare and continued the fight in Europe in the regiments of the Irish Brigade. Some, like Mortagh, remained and relied on the articles of the Treaty of Limerick to save their estates, but the Treaty was soon broken and the Penal laws were introduced shortly after. In spite of discrimination against Catholics, Thomas was a very astute man and was obviously determined to restore his family's fortunes. He immediately embarked on a series of land acquisitions as soon as he attained his majority, and where necessary found ways of circumventing the anti Catholic property laws. Although their landholdings had by then been greatly reduced, the family seem to have had substantial cash reserves as witnessed by the large sums which Thomas expended on land acquisitions over almost three decades. The acquisitions made by Thomas were mainly of lands which had been held in whole or in part by the family prior to the Cromwellian confiscations. Some were acquired in fee and others on leases for lives, the latter including large holdings in the Carrigaholt area which was outside the patrimony of the McMahons of East Corca Baiscinn.

The first mention of Thomas in the Registry of Deeds is in 1713 which involved Nicholas Westby of Ennis in the County of Clare Esq of the one part & Thomas McMahon of Clonneynagh Gent & Doct Mathew McMahon of Toureenamona in the County of Clare of the other part, importing that the said Nicholas Westby hath demised set & to farm let unto the said Thomas & Matthew McMahon the lands ... of Rathcrony Ballynrine Cahermore & Sessivgare ... lying & being in the parish of Dromleafe (sic) Barony of Islands ... during the term & space of one and thirty years ... at the yearly rent and sum of thirty pounds16.

The will dated 17 May 1742 of Mathew McMahon of Toureen, Doctor in Physick, was proved on 2 Sept 1742. His wife is named as Mary orse O'Brien, her father and brother are named as Daniel & Murtough O'Brien. Matthew's children were Margaret, Daniel & Thomas (an infant). His kinsmen are named as Charles Creagh, Thomas McMahon, Mort McMahon & John McNemara (sic). Daniel O'Brien junior is named as his wife's brother and Richard Nagle is named as his brother in law (Betham's Abstracts). As Richard Nagle was the administrator of the will of Thomas McMahon of Cloninagh in 1741, it is certain that Thomas of Clonina was the Thomas who was named as a kinsman in the will of Matthew of Toureen. The will of Daniel McMahon of Toureene with the date 1748 is listed in the Ireland Diocesan and Prerogative Wills & Administrations Indexes 1595-1858, Diocese of Killaloe. The Charles Creagh named in Matthew's will was probably Charles Creagh of Ballykilty, Quin, whose will was dated 1743.

The lands of Cragiloneborny als Cragilonboyerna als Clonbonerna (presentday Crag) were, prior to 1652, part of the ancestral lands of Cornelius Gillereagh whose descendant, also Cornelius, was guardian to Thomas McMahon during the latter's minority17. These lands in the vicinity of Kilmihil were among large tracts which had been acquired by the Ievers family in Co Clare following the Cromwellian confiscations.

In September 1715 Thomas Ievers of Graygrove als Garranreigh Co Clare transferred to Mary Roe for the consideration of One thousand and Four hundred pounds part of the Plowland of Garrangreigh als Carranreagh and Knockalough containing one thousand one hundred and sixty five acres profitable land plantation measure and Craggiloneborney als Craigiloneboyerna als Clanboyerna containing by estimation one hundred and twenty six acres of like land and measure18.

In 1716 Thomas Ievers of Graygrove alias Garranereagh, Co Clare together with Mary Roe, Nathaniel Lucas, George Burdett and Robt Harrison of the one part conveyed to Thomas McMahon of Clonineagh, Co Clare in consideration of the sum of £825 the lands ... of Cragiloneborny als Cragilonboyerna als Clonbonerna containing 126 acres of profitable land Plantation Measure with the unprofitable acres thereunto belonging being in the Parish of Killfiddane Barony of Clonedirala, Ballyderraowen containing 112 acres profitable land ... being part of the East Cartron of Garranereagh sett unto the said Thos Ievers by a writt of Partition, Cloninieoivlane containing 173 acres profitable and unprofitable ... being part of the Cartron of Garranereagh aforesaid which said last two severall denominations are situate in the Parish of Killmihill Bar of Clonderralaw'19. It seems that, prior to this, George Ievers had held part of these lands under lease from his brother Thomas of Graygrove, and in November 1717 Thomas McMahon bought out George Ievers' interest for the consideration of £131.10s20.

Thus Thomas McMahon regained at least a part of his family's ancestral lands at Knockalough which had come into the posession of Henry Ievers following the Comwellian confiscations21.

In November 1719 Thomas McMahon of Cloninagh acquired a lease forever from Thomas Amory of Bunratty of the lands of Leitrim in the parish of Kilmihil containing 483 acres profitable and 176 acres unprofitable at a rent of £40 per annum22.

On 27th June 1718 Francis Burton of Buncraggy executed an Indorcement (sic) of a deed of lease for lives to Thomas McMahon of Clonenagh son and heir to Mortogh McMahon of Clounenagh deceased 'in consideration of the sum of One hundred and Thirty pounds sterl ... Hath Bargained Sold Released and Confirmed unto the sd Thomas McMahon the Lands of Ballinagon ... and then in the occupation of the sd Thomas McMahon'. This lease was for the life of Thomas himself and clearly replaced the previous lease under which the late Mortogh McMahon had held Ballynagon. Edmond Dwyre Yeoman was a witness to the Indorcement23.

In 1720 Thomas McMahon of Cluninagh acquired the lands of Reinmadirrigg, Rahona East, Rahona West, Killcredand, and Clouncunneen, collectively known as the farm of Carrigholt in the Barony of Moyarta for the sum of £300 by way of an assignment of a lease24. The lease of these lands had been acquired in 1708 by Edmond Vanhuggardin of Quirin from Francis Burton of Buncraggy. Vanhogarten died intestate in 1709 and his widow Catherine married Lieut Randall Jones. Edmond's son and heir John was then a minor. Catherine surrendered the original lease and in 1711 took out a new lease on her own life and that of her three sons John, Abraham & George Vanhoggardin. John Morony of Dunahagh was a witness.

In 1723 Thomas McMahon acquired from Francis Burton of Bonnecragay ... the Lands of Clonredane containing by estimation Four Hundred and Five acres plantation measure situate in the Parish of Kilmacaduane and Barony of Moyarta ... for and during the natural lives of the said Thomas McMahon Chas and Dennis McMahon his two brothers ... at the yearly rent of Fifty Pounds ... and two fat muttons or twelve shillings and six pence. Edmond Hogan of the City of Dublin was a witness25.

In 1726. Chas Smith of Rockmount, Co Clare did demise grant sett and to farm let to Thos McMahon of Clooninagh Co Clare Esq ... Kilbaghagh & part of Fordry ... now in the possession of the said Thomas McMahon ... for the lives of said Thos McMahon, Denis McMahon & Mortagh McMahon the two brothers of said Thos McMahon26. Two days later Thomas McMahon granted a lease for lives of these lands to his brother Dennis27.

In 1728 Michael Comyn transferred to Thomas McMahon the lands which he held in trust for him by way of the following deed28:

An Indented Deed Importing a Declaration of Trust made between Michl Comyn of Killcarkarane in the County of Clare Gent ... and Thoms McMahon of Cloninagh in the sd County Esq ... reciting that ye Rt Hon Henry Earle of Thomond did by Indenture bearing date the second day of May 1712 in consideration of the sum of £17 10s paid or secured to be pd by the sd Michl Comyn to ye sd Henry Earle of Thomond grant demise and let unto the sd Michl Comyn the farm and lands of Cloninagh als Clonwhite Krigh als Clontragh containing by estimation 1,254 acres together with the woods standing or growing on ye sd premises in trust for the sd Thomas McMahon then a minor situate and being in the Barony of Moyarta ... to hold to the sd Michl Comyn his heirs & assigns for and during the natural lives of him ye sd Thomas McMahon Chas & Dennis McMahon sons of Mortagh McMahon late of Cloninagh afsd Gent ... with a clause of renewable forever at ye rent of £60 ... and reciting that ye sd Henry Earle of Thomd did by another Indenture bearing date ye 26th December 1712 in consideration of the sum of £180 pd by the sd Michl Comyn to the sd Henry Earle of Thomd ... grant bargain & sell to the sd Michl Comyn and his heirs in trust for the sd Thomas McMahon then a minor all the afsd lands ... by the special nomination and appointed of the sd Thomas McMahon and his Guardian Mr Cornelius Gillereagh and that the sd several sums of £17.10s and £108 the consideration in money in both ye deeds specified was the patrimony of the sd Thos McMahon & therefore the sd Michl Comyn in pursuance of the sd Trust did grant Remise (sic) Release and confirme unto the sd Thos McMahon his heirs and assigns forever ... the hereinbefore recited lands and premises.

The lease of Clonina to Michael Comyn superseded the 1707 lease which Cornelius Gillereagh had held from Lady Henrietta O'Brien.

The connection between the Gillereaghs and the Comyns seems to have gone back as far as 1615 when Michael Comyn's greatgrandfather Nicholas married Sarah Gillirea of Clonderalaw.

Thomas McMahon married Elizabeth, daughter of Andrew Meade of Newcastle, Co Limerick in early 1726. A deed dated 1752 (Memorial No 111420), executed between Thomas's sons Mortogh and Andrew, says that, in relation to their parents marriage, certain articles were executed by their father Thomas McMahon dated 23rd January 172629. The 1752 deed also refers to a deed dated 5th April 1729 and to the fact that Mortogh, the eldest son of Thomas and Elizabeth, was born prior to the execution of the 1729 deed. There is a badly damaged document in the Studdert Papers at the National Library of Ireland concerning the marriage settlement of Thomas and Elizabeth. The first page of the document containing the date is missing but it was obviously drawn up at around the same time as the 1729 deed as it also refers to the fact that Mortogh had already been born. William Burke Valentine Quinn Denis McMahon and Cornelius Gillereagh are referred to as trustees. The document was signed by Thos McMahon, Will Burgh, Val Quin, Cors Gillereagh, and Dens McMahon and was witnessed by Thos Morony, John Morony and John McMahon.

The deed dated 4th April 1729 which was drawn up following the marriage of Thomas and Elizabeth is worth quoting as it shows the extent of Thomas's landholdings at this time30.

Indented deed of lease & release between Thomas McMahon of Clouninagh in the Co of Clare on the one part and Rev William Burke of Killinea in the Co of Limerick, Valentine Quinn of Adare in the aforesd county Esq, Dennis McMahon of Clouninagh aforesd Gent, and Cornelius Gillereagh of Aloncard in the county of Clare Gent of the other part. Whereby the said Thomas McMahon in consideration of a marriage portion in the said deed of release ... did grant bargain sell release and confirm unto the said William Burke, Valentine Quinn, Dennis McMahon and Cornelius Gillereagh and their heirs ... all that and those the Lands of Craggecloneborney als Cragclonboyerna als Clonboyerna, Baulydorraowen, Clonicowlane ... in the Barony of Cloundirralaw ... of which lands the said Thomas McMahon is siezed of in fee simple, The Lands of Cloninagh als Clonwhite, Krigh als Clonotragh lying ... in the Barony of Moyarta ... of which the said Thomas is likewise seized in fee subject to a payment of a rent reserved upon a fee farm, and the Lands of Leitrim the Barony of Cloundirralaw ... which lands is seized also in fee subject to a rent reserved upon a fee farm, The lands ... of Ballynagon, Clounredan, Killtrumper, Carrigahoulte, Kilcredane, Rahona East, Rahona West, Cluonacunneen, and Reinmaciderrig, of which last mentioned lands is seized by virtue of several leases forever ... and being in the Barony of Moyarta to hold all ... unto them the said William Burke Valentine Quinn Dennis McMahon and Cornelius Gillereagh & their heirs to the several uses intents and purposes in the said Deed of Release mentioned which said Deed of Lease and Release ... by the said Thos McMahon are witnessed by William Burke Valentine Quinn Dennis McMahon and Cornelius Gillereagh are witnessed by Thos Morony of Millford in the said county of Clare Esq John Morony of Donaha & John McMahon of Ennis ... Gent.

Valentine Quinn of Adare was the eldest son of Thady Quinn 1645-1725 and his third wife Catherine Morony, daughter of Piers/Pierce Morony and Margaret Creagh31. The Moronys had been transplanted from Limerick to south west Clare in the 1650s. Frost, quoting a 1668 petition, says that Pierce Moroney was then a Merchant of Limerick and, quoting a 1700 petition, says that in 1669 Lord Clare & Henry Ivers leased various townlands to Pierce Moroney the elder of Cloonenagh, Merchant. This Piers/Pierce died at Clounineagh in 1678. Catherine Morony's eldest brother Edmond married Joan (Jane), daughter of James McNamara of Ennis. Edmond Morony and Joan/Jane McNamara had three sons; Pierce Morony d s p, John Morony who married Margaret Meade and Thomas Morony who married Margaret's sister Mary Meade32. Margaret and Mary Meade's sister Elizabeth married Thomas McMahon of Clonina33.

When Andrew Meade made his will on 20th October 1727 he named his daughters as Mary, wife of Thomas Morony of Milltown, Co Clare, Margaret, wife of John Morony, and Elizabeth, wife of Thomas McMahon. Andrew Meade's will also names his niece as Anne Meade alias Meara. It is almost certain that this was the Ann Meara who was named as the second wife of Cornelius Gillereagh in the 1740 deed Gillereagh & Others to McMahon (Registry of Deeds, Memorial No 70219, Vol 100, p 210, img 119).

Following his marriage Thomas continued to add to his landholdings. In 1730 Henry O'Brien of Stonehall did grant bargain alien and sell forever to Thomas McMahon of Cloninagh the lands of Ballyashia in the parish of Kilnemonagh and Ballyntlea in the parish of Kilfentenan. The witnesses were Murtagh McMahon of Cloninagh Gent and Thomas Barrett Innkeeper of Assolas. John McMahon of Ennis Gent was a witness to the memorial34.

On 13th July 1730 Thomas McMahon of Cloninagh was party to a very unusual 'Deed of Bargain and Sale for a Year'35. The other party to this deed collectively comprised Gustavus Hamilton of the City of Dublin, Nathaniel Preston of the same, and Randall McDonnell eldest son and heir of James McDonnell of Killquee deceased. A quadripartite deed of release was executed the following day, the first party to which comprised Gustavus Hamilton, Nathaniel Preston and the Hon Henry Hamilton. The second party comprised Francis Burton of Buncraggy, son and heir of Francis Burton late of Dublin decd, and Wm Westby of Dublin, son and heir of Nicholas Westby late of Ennis decd. The third party to the release was Randall McDonnell and the fourth party was Thomas McMahon. This curious document goes on to recite that Preston and the two Hamiltons 'in consideration of the Sum of Two hundred Ninety five pounds Eighteen shillings & six pence to them in hand paid by the said Thos McMahon by the Direction of the said Randall McDonnell did Grant Alien Release and Confirm & the sd Fras Burton & Wm Westby did thereby also in consideration of Five shillings apiece to them severally paid by the said Thomas McMahon confirm unto the sd Thos McMahon and to his heirs all that and those the Lands and Tenemts of Cloncullin Ternelaghane Brisly and Corbally ... Bar of Moyferta ... forever, subject to a Condition of Redemption on payment of the Sum of Two hundred Ninety five pounds Eighteen shillings & six pence with interest for the same at the rate of six pounds per cent per annum on the fourteenth day of July then next ...'.

In April 1732 Thomas acquired from Rev George Hickman of Ballykett a thirty four year lease of the lands of Lisaloghra and Cloghane Sarvane ... in the Barony of Moyarta ... as hitherto held & enjoyed by the said Thomas McMahon ... 36. At the same time Hickman 'did demise grant sett and to farm lett unto the said Thomas McMahon of Cloninagh ... the lands of Kiltrellig ... Barony of Moyfarta ... for the term of thirty four years'. The rent for the first three years was £38 per annum decreasing to £36 per annum thereafter37. Hickman in turn held these lands under lease from WmWestby. The witnesses to both leases were Andrew Morony of Dunaha and Mortagh McMahon of Cloninagh.

On 1st May 1732 Francis Burton of Buncraggy in an indented deed of lease 'did give grant Demise Sett and to Farm Lett' to Thomas McMahon of Cloneenagh 'the farm and lands ... of Cloghanbeg and Cloghanmore with each of their subdenominations with all boggs ... in as large ample and beneficial a manner as John Vandelure of Kilrush ... formerly held and enjoyed the same containing by estimation One thousand Ninety and Seven acres plantation measure ... lying and being in the Parish of Kill Mckaduan Barony of Moyfarta ... for and during the natural lives of Mortogh McMahon eldest son of the said Thomas the lessee Patrick England of Lifford ... Gent and David Nighill eldest son of Laurence Nighill of ... Limerick Mercht and the longer liver and survivor of them'. There were clauses regarding the payment of rent and of distress and re-entry, and curiously Burton appointed Dennis McMahon of Cloneenagh Gent to act as his attorney in this regard38.

In 1736 John Baptist Creagh of Woodfield Co Clare and Pierce Creagh his son and heir apparent agreed to grant and sell forever to Thomas McMahon of Clonina the lands of Shyane containing 444 acres profitable in the Barony of Clonderrala in consideration of £1462 which was to be paid in instalments. The witnesses were Mort McMahon of City of Dublin Gent and James Comyn of the same Gent39.

Thomas McMahon of Cloninagh and Bryan McMahon of City of Limerick were witnesses to a deed sworn on 13 Aug 1740 at Ennis re lands at Moyglassmore and Moyglassbegg40.

We know from a 1749 deed that Thomas McMahon built a house which was attached to Carrigaholt Castle41. The deed refers to 'the edifice that Thos McMahon late of Clonena ... erected adjoyning the sd Castle'. There is a clear indication on one of the walls of Carrigaholt Castle that there was once a lower building with a steeply sloped roof attached to the Castle. It is almost certain that this was the edifice referred to in the deed. It seems likely that Thomas built this house around or soon after the time his marriage.

Thomas died in late 1740, aged a little over 50. Administration of his will was granted on 19th January 1741 to Richard Nagle Esq for Elizabeth the widow.42

Following her husband's death Elizabeth soon afterwards married secondly to Richard Henn. Her mother Mary, widow of Andrew Meade, was 'of Clonina, Co Clare', according to her will dated 18th July 1743. In her will Mary names her daughter as Elizabeth McMahon otherwise Henn, widow. Richard Henn is named as Mary Meade's son in law, husband of said daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth Henn otherwise McMahon died about nine years later and administration of her will was granted to Thomas Connors of Dublin on 10th March 1753.

Administration of the will of Thomas McMahon of Carrigaholt Esq was granted to Thos Connor of Dublin on 2nd June 1766. Thomas McMahon's children are correctly named as Murtagh and Andrew McMahon, and Margaret, wife of Joseph England (Betham's Abstracts). It is unclear why a second administration of the will of Thomas McMahon was granted twenty five years after his death to Thomas Connors who was also the administrator of the will of Thomas McMahon's widow Elizabth Henn McMahon née Meade. One can only assume that the original administrator, Richard Nagle, left the will unadministered.

According to this, it seems that Thomas of Clonina may have died at Carrigaholt, probably in the house which he had built adjoining Carrigaholt Castle.

During his lifetime Thomas achieved great success in rebuilding and adding to the landholdings which his ancestors had lost following the Cromwellian confiscations of the 1650s, and indeed he was one of the few members of the old Catholic Gaelic aristocracy to do so.

We have seen that Michael Comyn had held the lands of Clonina in trust for Thomas McMahon during the latter's minority. In 1675 Patrick Comyn acquired a lease of the townlands of Kilcorcoran and Cloghaunmore in Kilfarboy parish from the Earl of Thomond and his son Michael was born at Kilcorcoran in 1676. Michael Comyn (Micheál Coimín) was a Jacobite and a noted Gaelic poet. He was a Protestant but was sympathetic to his Catholic fellow Jacobites and was willing to help them to circumvent the Penal Laws43. Micheál Coimín and Thomas McMahon were related by marriage. Coimín married in 1702 Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Creagh and niece of Sir Michael Creagh, Lord Mayor of Dublin in 168844. It is likely that Francis and Michael were closely related to Margaret Creagh, wife of Piers Morony who died at Clonina in 1678. Piers Morony's grandsons John and Thomas Morony married respectively the sisters Margaret and Mary Meade whose third sister Elizabeth Meade married Thomas McMahon of Clonina45. James Creagh of Limerick, Merchant (d 1724), married in 1704 Elinor Morony, daughter of Pierce Morony and Catherine Brown and granddaughter of Pierce Morony and Margaret Creagh46. Michael Comyn's son Edmond married married Jane Morony, daughter of Thomas Morony and Mary Meade. Thomas Morony was 'of Millford' (originally and alternatively known as Carrowkeel) in 1729 (McMahon-Meade marriage settlement qv). His son Edmond Morony held the lease of Carrowkeel in 1745 and it seems that the Comyn family moved to Carrowkeel/Milford after Edmond Comyn's marriage to Edmond Morony's sister Jane47. Micheál Coimín died in 1760.

On hearing of the death of Thomas McMahon, Coimín composed a poem entitled 'Sliocht Tuire Thomáis Mhic Mhathúna, Cluain Eidhneach, Co. an Chláir', the first verse of which is as follows:48

Do chuala tásc do chráidh go croidhe mé
Is uall gártha ag táinte gan choimse
Mná fionna bán leasa ag caoine
Ó Léim na Con go portaibh Luimnigh

I heard the tidings which grieved my heart
And wailing cries of countless multitudes
of fair noble women's lamentations
From Hound's Leap to Limerick's shores49

The poem confirms that Thomas died in December as one line of the original refers to 'Lá Nodlag dubhach san úr-bhrogh aoibhinn' ('A black Christmas Day in the delightful new mansion'). This also appears to confirm that the house then standing at Clonina was either newly built or had been recently rebuilt or extended50.

Image 4: Clonina House. Photo courtesy of Martin Breen.

Cornelius (Mac) Gillereagh

The name Cornelius Gillereagh is closely associated with the McMahon family and occurs frequently in deeds etc relating to the family in the first half of the 18th century. The Mac Gillereaghs (Mac Gilla Riabhaigh, anglicé Gallery) were an ancient family in East Corca Baiscinn. In 1580 Conor Mac Gillereagh held the Castle of Cragbrien in Clondagad parish. By 1589 he had been forced to transfer his castle and lands to Donough O'Brien, 4th Earl of Thomond who was intent on expanding his landholdings by every available means, often at the expense of families who were traditionally been followers of the O'Brien51. In 1626 Donogh Mac Gillareagh was owner of Cloondrinagh and Clonboyerna. He died on the 1st March, 1615, leaving as his heir his son Richard, then aged eighteen years. In 1634 Rickard Mac Gillareagh, late of Cloondrinagh, was owner likewise of Cloonborna; he died on the 1st August, 1634, leaving Mahone his son and heir, then aged nine years, and leaving his widow, Johanna Considine, surviving him52. In 1641 Cloonboyerna was held by Dermot Mac Gillareagh of Cloonboyerna and Mahone Mac Gillareagh of Cloondrinagh. Cornelius Gillereagh was in all probability either a son or a grandson of Mahone. The MacGillereaghs lost these lands in 1652. In 1708 Cornelius was still in the parish of Clondagad, this time at Decamade (Dehomad), close to his family's ancestral lands.

In 1708 Nicholas Woulfe of Tyremaclaun in the county of Clare did give grant bargain sell release and confirm unto Cornelius Gillereagh of Enis (sic) the lands of Tyrevaclane and Ballyveskill two plowlands and a half and Ballymacregane one plowland situate in the county of Clare in as large and ample a manner as were granted to Nicholas by Henry Earl of Thomond in 1684 under a lease for lives renewable forever. Woulfe also transferred to Cornelius a large quantity of lands in Co Limerick totalling 2,006 acres. These lands had been acquired in trust for Woulfe by David Nihill late of Garruragh, Co Clare, deceased, from Thomas Hackett in 1688 on a 31 year lease. Woulfe had obtained a decree in 1708 against Hackett and full benefit thereof in the High Court of Chancery in respect of these lands. There was a Deed of Defeazance to the Deed of Release incorporated in the memorial in which Edmond Morony of Kilmacduane Esq was a party53.

In January 1709 Cornelius Gillereagh was 'of Enis' (sic) when he granted a 31 year lease to Capt Thady McNemara of Ranna of the lands of Clouintinee, 88 acres profitable land in the Parish and Barony of Tulla for the use of John McNemara also of Ranna54

By July 1711 Cornelius was 'of Moirieske' (Moyreisk) when he acquired in trust and for the use of James Creagh of the City of Limerick Merchant seven acres plantation measur of profitable land at Coonagh in the City of Limerick from Connor O'Brien of Cloughur, Co Clare Gent and his mother Catherine, widow of Mahon O'Brien of Coonagh. Thady MacNemara of Ranna was a witness55.

In November 1711 Cornelius was still at Moyreisk when he acquired a lease for thirty one years from Garret Gough of Bealdorogie ( Ballyduvroga?), Co Limerick, of the lands of Breffa North seventy nine acres and Clouindrinagh seventy six acres, in the Barony of Islands, the lease to commence in March 171656.

Before his death in 1711 Mortogh McMahon had appointed Cornelius Gillereagh as guardian to his elsest son Thomas. We have already seen that Cornelius acquired a 99 year lease of the lands of Clonina in 1707 from Lady Henrietta O'Brien and the following year he granted a 31 year lease of the same lands to Captain Mortogh McMahon. Following Mortogh's death, Cornelius arranged for Michael Comyn to acquire a new lease of these lands in 1712 from the Earl of Thomond in trust for Thomas McMahon. This lease seems to have superseded the 1707 lease of Clonina which Cornelius had held from Lady O'Brien and was probably necessitated by the Penal Laws which had then come into force regarding the ownership or holding long leases of land by Catholics.

In 1712 the Earl of Thomond granted leases to Thos Drew of Dublin Gent of the lands of Athlonghurte (Athlunkard) and Shanakeele (Shannakyle) situate in the Parish of Killquan (Cill Chuáin, now St Patrick's), Barony of Bunratty, and the lands of Drisane (Derryshaan) situate in the Parish of Killfidan, Barony of Clondalaw. The deed goes on to say that 'the said leases specifyed ... were taken in trust only for Cornelius Gillereagh then of Athlonghurte ... who is in the actual seizen and possession of all the premises ...'. In 1716 Cornelius borrowed £150 from Zachary Ormsby, Doctor of Law, and executed a Deed of Assignment in his favour of the three leases subject to a provision or condition of redemption57.

By 1721 Cornelius had not repaid the £150 and had borrowed a further £50 from Zachary Ormsby of Ballygrenane in the North Liberties of the City of Limerick58. As security for the extra £50, Cornelius executed a Bond of Warranty in favour of Ormsby secured on the rental income from the lands of Castlequarter and Knockanroe, part of the plowland of Trough in the Parish of Killaloe. These lands were let to Patrick Bourke of Knockalisseen under a lease for 31 years from 1720 at the yearly rent of £16. 7s. 6d59.

In 1737 Cornelius was involved in a complex tripartite indenture and deed, Gillereagh & Others to Barclay60. Apart from Cornelius the parties involved were Arthur Drew of Mogherbegg in the county of Clare Gent, brother and heir of Thomas Drew late of the City of Dublin Gent Decd, the Rev Arthur Ormsby of Ballygrenan in the City of Limerick the eldest son and heir of Zachary Ormsby late of Ballygrenan Doctor of Laws Decd, and Mary Ormsby Widow of Zachary, Morgan O'Meara of Lissenisky Esq, Eltonhead Meara of Ballyanraghand (both county of Tipperary), Thomas Esq and Dennis McMahon Gent of Cloninagh. The memorial recites that Cornelius Gillereagh Arthur Drew Arthur Ormsby & Mary Ormsby with consent and approbation of Morgan O'Meara Eltonhed Meara Thomas and Denis McMahon granted bargained sold released & confirmed to David Barclay of Ballyerney, county of Clare, the Towns and Lands of Drishane containing about 208 acres as granted in fee farm to Thomas Drew. It appears that, in return, Barclay assumed responsibility for, and repaid the debt owed by Cornelius to the Ormsbys as they released to Cornelius all their right title and interest in the said Town and Lands of Athlonghart and Shanakiel and the plowland of Trough. Among the witnesses were Mortagh McMahon of Cloninagh Gent, one of the Attorneys of the Exchequer in Ireland, and Percival Harte of Lissofin61.

Cornelius was still at Aloncard (sic) in 1740 when he was party to a quadrapartite deed of lease and release in which he, his wife, Mortogh McMahon of Dublin (the attorney) and Thomas McMahon of Cloninagh were involved62. Mortogh McMahon was already in possession by way of lease from Cornelius of the lands of Aloncard containing two hundred acres, the lands of Shanakeile containing eighty acres, and the lands of Trough containing two hundred and fifty acres, and Cornelius sold released and confirmed these lands to Mortogh. Cornelius had drawn up a will in which he had appointed Thomas McMahon as his sole executor. The memorial records that Cornelius was entitled to several sums of money due to him in right of his first wife who was the widow of Nicholas Rice Esq which became due to her out of Plantations which Nicholas was possessed of in the Island of Barbadoes. In his will Cornelius conveyed his rights and claims to these sums of money to Thomas McMahon.

This deed tells us that Cornelius's first wife was the widow of Nicholas Rice who was 'of Lissofin' in 1704 when he was guarantor for the parish priest of Tulla. He was 'of Alonghard' when he died in 171063. According to a summary of his will, which was proved in July 1710, Nicholas was then of the Parish of Tulla but late of the Parish of St Philip in Barbadoes and the will was dated January 169964. The summary gives his wife's name as Mary alias Aylmer, and his brother was Lieut Col John Rice. Cornelius's second wife is named in the deed as Ann Meara who was presumably sister of Morgan O'Meara and Eltonhead Meara of the 1737 Deed65. It is certain that Cornelius had no children. Administration of the will of Cornelius Gillereagh of Aloncard Gent was granted to his brother James on 4th July 174166. The lands of Trough were still in the possession of the McMahons of Clonina in 1781 when the Hill of Trugh (sic), 172 acres, was advertised to let by Thomas McMahon's son Mortogh and grandson Thomas67.

Cornelius Gillereagh and Thomas McMahon were connected by marriage. Anne Meara née Meade, the second wife of Cornelius, was a niece of Andrew Meade whose daughter Elizabeth married Thomas McMahon. But it is certain that there was an earlier and closer relationship between Cornelius and Thomas, and it is possible that Cornelius may have been a brother of Captain Mortogh McMahon's second wife.

Dennis McMahon of Kilbaha and Carrigaholt

As we have seen above, Dennis, son of Captain Mortogh McMahon, was granted a lease for lives by his eldest brother Thomas in 1726 of the lands of Kilbaghagh and part of Fodry. In 1735 Charles Smith of Derry demised granted sett and to farm let to Dennis McMahon of Kilbaghagh Gent the lands of Fodry already in his posession for the natural lives of sd Dennis McMahon Mort McMahon brother of the sd Dennis McMahon & Mort McMahon Jun son and heir of Thomas McMahon of Clonina68 .

In 1738 the same Charles Smith granted demised set and to farm let unto the sd Dennis McMahon of Kilebaha his heirs etc the lands of Moneen in the Barony of Moyfarta to have and to hold during the natural lives of the said Dennis McMahon Mort McMahon brother of the sd Dennis and Mort McMahon eldest son to Thomas McMahon of Cloninagh brother to said Dennis69. Mort McMahon of the City of Dublin Gent, was a witness. This Mortogh was a brother of Dennis.

In 1734 Edward Burton of the City of London Esq gave granted demised set and to farm let to Mortagh McMahon of the City of Dublin Esq the Farm and lands of Rinemacinderagh als Carrigiholt Rahonys East & West Kilcredane & Clonconeen being 1170 acres in the Parish of Moyarta for the lives of sd Edward Burton Elizabeth the wife of Thomas McMahon of Cloneenagh Mortogh McMahon and Andrew McMahon first & second sons of the sd Thomas70.

These were the same lands which Thomas McMahon had acquired in 1720 (Memorial No 18218 Vanhuggardin to McMahon). The original 1708 lease from Burton to Vanhuggardin must have run out, necessitating the new lease.

Mortagh McMahon of Dublin was Mortagh, then an Attorney and a Protestant, brother of Dennis and Thomas (and not his nephew Mortogh of Clonina, son of Thomas).

Mortagh the Attorney must have transferred these lands to his nephew Mortough of Clonina as witnessed by a 1749 Indenture of Lease between Mortough McMahon of Clonena and Dennis McMahon of Killbehagh71. Mortough McMahon demised unto the sd Dennis McMahon ... the lands of Cluonconeen now in the possession of the sd Dennis ... and also such parcels of the towns and lands of Rinemacdirrig and Rahona each as they are now in the possession of the sd Dennis ... in the Barony of Moyarta. Excepting unto the sd Mortough McMahon all that part of the edifice that Thos McMahon late of Clonena ... erected adjoyning the sd Castle on sd premises ... for and during the natural lives of the sd Dennis McMahon and Andrew McMahon brother to the sd Mort McMahon yeilding and paying yearly ... unto the sd Mort McMahon ... the yearly rent of thirty six pounds. Witnesses Andw McMahon of the City of Limerick Gent and Gilbert O'Dea of Creigh in the County of Clare farmer. Witnesses to Memorial 1st Nov 1751 Gilbert O'Dea aged upwards of fifty years and John Burke of the City of Dublin Gent72.

Thus 'the said Mortough McMahon' the lessor was a brother of Andrew, both sons of Thomas, and both nephews of Dennis. This seems to be an example of a Protestant member of a family using his religious status to circumvent the Penal Laws on behalf of a Catholic relative.
There is a memorandum in the Studdert Papers in the National Library of Ireland which states that on 8th May 1731 Luke Hickman of Fenloe demised Rehey Park to Dennis McMahon of Clonina for the term of three lives to be named by Dennis, with a clause of renewal forever. On the death of Dennis these lands passed to his nephew, Mortogh McMahon of Clonina,.

Dennis McMahon died in April 1772. Administration of the will of Denis McMahon Gent of Carrigaholt, Co Clare was granted on 18 May 1772. In his will Dennis named Mortagh McMahon as his nephew (Betham Genealogical Abstracts)73. A note in the Studdert Papers in the National Library states that Dennis died unmarried, intestate and without issue. Certainly Dennis did make a will, but it will be noted that there is no mention of a wife or children in Betham's summary of the will. Dennis seems to have died at Carrigaholt although in earlier deeds he is referred to as 'of Kilbaha'. It is possible that he had by then moved to the house attached to Carrigaholt Castle which had been built by his father Thomas.

William Shaw Mason in his 'Statistical Survey of Ireland', written in 1816, says that Mortogh McMahon of Clonina requested the Burtons, who were the head landlords of the lands of Carrigaholt etc, to allow the names of his two sons and his daughter to be substituted on the lease in place of his own name and those of his brother Andrew and his sister Mrs England. The Burtons agreed to the substitution but Mortogh's three children all died before their father, their uncle and their aunt and thus the lease lapsed. The Burtons subsequently re-let the lands at the advanced rent of £800 per annum.

Mortogh McMahon of Clonina, Dublin, and Dromore

Mortogh, son of Captain Mortogh McMahon of Clonina, converted to Protestantism in Dublin in 1731. It is likely that this was to qualify for admission to Kings Inns where he studied Law. In 1734 he was admitted as an Attorney of the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, one of the senior courts of common law in Ireland74.

In 1739 Thomas Amory of the City of Dublin Esq and Mort McMahon of the same Gent executed the following Indented Deed: In consideration of £51 5s Amory covenanted and agreed that if in case the said Thos Amory shall survive Thomas McMahon of Clonina he the said Thos Amory shall make a lease for and during his natural life of the lands of Knockmore als Killtimicus als Kilthumper in the Barony of Clonderala as the same are now held by the said Thomas McMahon unto the sd Mort McMahon in trust and for the use of the heirs of said Thomas McMahon. Witnesses John Morony of Dunaha Co Clare Gent and Ignatius Terry of City of Dublin Merchant75. Lucy, sister of the above Thomas Amory, was the wife of Terence McMahon of Ballykilty who died in October 1737, and it seems that there was a connection between the McMahons of Clonina and the McMahons of Ballykilty.

Mortogh McMahon married a widow, Jane Burke/Bourke née Stacpoole. Her first husband was William Bourke who is said to have been 'of Galway'76. Jane was daughter of William Stacpoole of Annagh, Kilmurry Ibrickan, and his wife Elinor Foster of Co Galway. Jane's eldest brother William Stacpoole was apparently admitted as an attorney of the Court of Exchequer in 1734, the same year as Mortogh McMahon was admitted. Jane had a son John Burke by her first husband. It is certain that she had no children by her second husband.

Mortogh and Jane lived at Dromore in the Parish of Ruan, Barony of Inchiquin. The ruin of the house in which they lived is still visible, close to the Castle of Dromore77. It does not appear that this house had been previously held by Jane and William Burke prior to William's death. Dromore was part of the forfeited estates of Daniel O'Brien, Viscount Clare, and was subsequently acquired by the McDonnells of Kilkee and later of Newhall, from whom Mortagh McMahon held a leasehold interest in a substantial quantity of land. Mortogh made his will on 1st August 1752 and died at Dromore soon afterwards78.

In his will Mortogh left to his wife Jane his Farm and Lands of Dromore, twenty cows and a bull, three horses, his jewels and plate and household goods etc. To his stepson John Burke and to his nephew Joseph England Esq, he left all and every the rest and residue of all his Lands Tenements Hereditaments Leasehold and Freehold Interests Estate Goods Chattles and Effects real and personal ... . Burke and England were to pay yearly to Jane during her natural life the Rent Annuity or Sum of Sixty Pounds Stg. To his niece Margaret wife of said Joseph England he left the sum of One Hundred Pounds Stg. To his servant John Murphy he left all his cloaths shirts and apparel and also the lease and interest that he had taken in trust for him of part of the lands of Bealacorrigg ... . John Burke and Joseph England were to fully pay off and discharge all and every Mortogh's just debts legacies funeral expenses etc. A year after they had discharged all his instructions, debts etc, Mortogh stipulated that 'John Burke and Joseph England ... shall convey unto the said Mortogh McMahon his heirs and assigns for his and their own use and behoof the said rest and residue of my estate and effects that shall remain after the bequests aforesaid so devised to them but in case the said Mortogh McMahon my nephew or his representatives or agent shall do cause procure to be done made or commenced or shall prosecute any suite trouble molestation or expense to all or any of my exors or representatives or to the said Jane my wife for or on account of any debts dues claim or demand he may have or pretend to have to me then again in every such case my will is and I order and bequeath that the said John Burke and Joseph England ... shall not convey as aforesaid to Mortogh McMahon and that the said Mortogh McMahon shall not have any benefit or share of my fortune real or personal but and I will and bequeath that the said John Burke and Joseph England ... shall convey and make over unto the said Jane my wife her heirs etc ... the said rest and residue of all my Estates and assets and fortune intended otherwise to be given to my said nephew Mortogh McMahon ...' . As witness my hand and seal this First Day of August One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Two . Signed; Mortogh McMahon.

Mortogh of Dromore clearly did not trust his nephew Mortogh of Clonina. The latter Mortogh must have satisfied the conditions of his uncle's will as he was in possession of Dromore when he obtained a new lease in 1765 of the property from Charles McDonnell of Newhall. Charles and Mortogh were brothers in law, Mortagh being married to Charles's sister Mary Ellen. Charles McDonnell 'for the consideration therein and of the yearly rent of £110 and a yearly quit rent of £6.13s.4d ... had granted demised and sold unto the said Mortough McMahon in his actual possession ... the Mansion house and Lands of Dromore called and known by the name of the Town and Lands of Tuermore Boulacloneen Dromnagorrnan and Ona Knock Carrowmanagh Carrowdrehid and Island being a parcell in Common and Killmakin containing as by a survey annexed ... (blank) acres ... in as large and ample a manner as they been heretofore held and enjoyed by the said Mortough McMahon situate lying and being in the barony of Inchiquin'79.

In 1764 John Damer of Shronehill, Co Tipperary, executed an Indented Deed in which he assigned to the Right Honourable Joseph Lord Milton a long list of lands which included the Town Lands Tenements & Hereditaments of Dromore and its named constituent denominations80. However the assignment was 'subject to a provision or condition mentioned in two deeds of mortgage in said Indenture mentioned ...'. Neither the details or the dates of the two deeds of mortgage are given, or the name of the mortgagor. It is obvious however that the mortgagor was Charles McDonnell (or his father, Charles, who died in 1743, or possibly even his uncle Randal who died in 1726). It seems certain that the McDonnells defaulted on the loan against which the lands were mortgaged to Damer, and the McDonnells lost posession of the Dromore estate soon after 176681.

The Dublin Evening Post of 8 July 1783 carried an advertisement for the sale of part of the estates of the Right Hon Lord Milton including the Mansion House and lands of Dromore which Mortogh McMahon held under a lease. Also included were adjacent lands held under lease by Mortogh McMahon's brother in law Joseph England. The Dublin Evening Post of 18 July 1789 carried a similar advertisement.

The Dromore estate was purchased by Thomas Crowe of Ennis from Lord Milton in 1791 for the sum of £5,554.15s. Mortogh McMahon had apparently acquired a new lease of Dromore from Milton as the memorial of the deed of sale refers to a 'Certain Indenture of Lease made of the said Premises by the said Joseph Lord Milton to Murtogh McMahon Esq. that is to say the Castle Park New Orchard Kussagathera Boulacloneena the Orchard the Stable Park the Millers Park The Connaught Avenue Munster Avenue Holly Island two other Islands Rabbit Island Castle Island Kilmacky and the wood now in the Tenure and Occupation of Terence McMahon Esq Containing three hundred and eight acres one rood and six perches'82. It seems certain that Jane Stacpoole Burke McMahon had continued to live at Dromore until her death which probably occurred shortly before her nephew in law Mortogh McMahon acquired the new lease from Charles McDonnell in 1765.

It appears that after Jane's death her nephew in law Mortogh leased the house and lands of Dromore to Terence McMahon. This seems to be the Terence McMahon who was at Ballykinnacorra in the parish of Rath in 176683. In 1780 Terence McMahon of Dromore purchased the lands of Carhucore otherwise Carhuportlicky otherwise Port, the lands of Ross, and the lands of Monygatan & Clonygilleon being one fifth of Tarmon Killinaboy, Inchiquin Barony, already in his possession84. Terence still held Dromore as a tenant of Mortogh McMahon in 1791, and it seems that he continued to hold the lands of Dromore under the Crowes85. However he may have had to give up the mansion house as he was at Cappahard when he died aged 60 on 1st December 1796 and was buried at Coad86.

Terence McMahon of Dromore is believed to have been a younger son of Terence McMahon who in 1708 married Joane, daughter of John Cusack of Kilkishen and his wife Elizabeth Jones, daughter of the Protestant Bishop of Meath87. Cusack, who had no sons, granted a lease of Cloondanagh in the parish of Tulla to Terence on his marriage. Cusack was High Sheriff of Clare in 170088. His eldest daughter Catherine married in 1701 Michael, brother of Sir Arthur Cole, later Lord Ranelagh. His other daughter Mabel married Arthus Gore of Derrymore. Terence McMahon's eldest son Bryan married in 1748 Susanna, youngest daughter of Percival Harte of Lisofin89. Bryan's brothers are named as Terence and Thomas in a deed of 174590. Percival Harte of Lisofin was a witness in 1737 to a Deed of Lease made between Cors Gillereagh of Athlonghart in the county of Clare Gent and others, subscribing witnesses thereto Thomas McMahon (of Clonina) and his brother Denis McMahon (of Carrigaholt) in presence of their other brother Mortogh McMahon (the Attorney, later of Dromore)91. This suggests that there may have been a family connection between the McMahons of Cloondanagh and the McMahons of Clonina.

Terence McMahon married Elizabeth Hogan and had six sons and two daughters92. One of the daughters married John McNamara Esq, Attorney at Law, in 179293. Nothing is known of the other daughter. The eldest son was Andrew to whom his father bequeathed an annuity of 25 guineas in his will. Andrew survived his father by less than a year, dying on 3rd November 1797 aged 36, and was buried in the churchyard at Coad. The second son Terence married Anne Ryan in 1796 but had no children. Terence died in Dublin on 2nd March 1813. His widow died at Brompton, Kent, on 20th March 184894. The third son, Hugh, married but had no children when he died on 16th December 1804 aged 31. He too was buried at Coad. The fourth son was Timothy (Teigue) was 'of Corofin' when he married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Hickman of Newpark, in the Church of Ireland, Ennis on 20th August 180095. (The Hickman estates included Cappahard in the parish of Templemaley, adjoining Ennis). The marriage produced two daughters. Timothy died on 5th May 1804 aged 27 and was buried at Coad. The fifth son was Murtagh (Mortimer) who joined the 8th (The King's) Regiment of Foot of the British Army as an Ensign in 1804. His regiment was sent to Canada in 1808 and from there to the West Indies before returning to Canada. Mortimer fought in the War of 1812 against the Americans, was wounded in action and was captured and held prisoner until the war ended in late 1814. He was a Captain when his battalion was disbanded after the end of the war. He returned to Ireland in 1815 and assumed ownership of the lands which his father had acquired in 1780. Captain Mort M'Mahon had gravestones installed in the churchyard in Coad in memory of his father and his brothers who were buried there. On 9th June 1820 Mortimer married Catherine, eldest daughter of Ralph Morony Esq at Miltown Malbay96. In her claim for an officer's widow's pension Catherine MacMahon of Miltown Malbay said that her husband Mortimer MacMahon, late a Captain on half pay of the 8th Regiment of Foot died at Limerick on 2nd March 1842 aged 60. The sixth son was Donagh (Donatus, Donat) who entered Kings Inns as an apprentice Attorney in 1803. He was then 'of Cappahard'. Donat died unmarried at Corofin on 24th December 1816 aged 34 and was buried at Coad97.

Mortogh McMahon of Clonina.

Thomas McMahon and Elizabeth Meade had two sons, Mortogh and Andrew, and a daughter Margaret. We know from the deeds and documents relating to the marriage of Thomas McMahon and Elizabeth Meade that their eldest son Mortogh was born in late 1726 or early 1727. When his father Thomas died in 1740 Mortogh was still a minor and only inherited his father's estates when he reached the age of 21.

Mortogh McMahon of Clonina married on 10th Aug 1750, Mary Ellen, daughter of the late Charles (Sorley) James McDonnell of Kilkee and his wife Isobel (Elizabeth), daughter of Christopher O'Brien of Ennistymon. Brian O'Looney, writing a century later, said that they married privately but Mortogh 'carried her off from Kilkee against her mother's consent on the 6th September 1750'. Mary Ellen was known as Máire Bán or Fair Mary. The McDonnells were noted patrons of the Gaelic poets and Fair Mary's father Charles McDonnell had brought a poet named Seán de Hóra from Co Cork to work for him as a blacksmith at Kilkee. Charles died in 1743 and after Mortogh McMahon's marriage to Mary McDonnell, de Hóra moved to Clonina to work for Mortogh and remained there until after Mary's death in 1778. As well as other poems about the McDonnells and the McMahons, de Hóra wrote two poems in Irish in honour of Mary and Mortogh, 'Ar Phósadh Mháire Nic Dhomhnaill Chill Chaoi Muircheartach Mac Mathghamhna na Cluainíneach', and 'Ar Mhuircheartach Mac Mathghamhna na Cluainíneach agus ar Mháire, a Bhean'. These are contained in an anthology entitled 'Seán de hÓra' written by Brian Mac Cumhghaill, who says that although Mortagh was 'a hard man' (fear cruaidh), he had a great regard for de hÓra. Mac Cumhghaill says that Mary kept an open house at Clonina for the Irish poets of Corca Baiscinn and quotes Eoghan Ó Comhraidhe (Eugene O'Curry) in relation to 'Fair Mary' that "she was a very liberal patroness of the Munster bards"98.

In the mid 19th century Major W E McDonnell of Newhall, a descendant of the McDonnells of Kilkee, commissioned the eminent Irish scholar Brian Ó Luanaigh (O'Looney) to compile a collection of poems in Irish by the poets of Clare relating to the McDonnells. This, with English translations by O'Looney, was published in 1863 under the title "Dánta Chlainne Domhnaill, A collection of poems written on different occasions by the Clare bards in honour of the MacDonnells of Kilkee and Killone in the county of Clare"99. Several of these poems relate to 'Fair Mary' McDonnell and Mortogh McMahon and their family.

In her book ''The Last Colonel of the Irish Brigade, Count O'Connell and Old Irish Life at Home and Abroad 1745 – 1833'' (published in 1892), Mrs Morgan John O'Connell writing about Mary Ellen McMahon née McDonnell says that "No stone of either the ancient castle or more modern house of Clonina where she dwelt, is now to be seen but the most vivid tradition of 'Fair Mary' still exists in West Clare. ... She was the daughter of important people — Charles McDonnell of Kilkee, and Isabel O'Brien of the great house of Ennistymon. Tiege (recte Mortogh) McMahon, of Clonina, who loved her, had only a long pedigree, a dismantled castle, and an impoverished estate. She was a famous rider, and he once saved her life out hunting when her horse bungled at a great leap; and soon after discovered his love to her. Her parents refused his suit; the lovers eloped, and not only lived happily evermore, like lovers in a story, but Fair Mary was renowned for her piety, charity, and noble life".

Mary died at relatively young age at Cahircalla in August 1778. Her death was reported in the Dublin Evening Post of 29th August 1778: 'In Cahircalla, near Ennis, the wife of Morti M'Mahon Esq, of Clonina'. The Hibernian Journal of 31st August 1778 also reported her death: 'At Cahircalla, near Ennis, Mrs M'Mahon, wife of Morris (sic) M'Mahon Esq of Clonina, and only sister of the late Charles McDonnell of Newhall Esq'.

When Mary died no fewer than three poets composed laments in Irish on her passing. They were Seán Lúid (Lloyd) who wrote 'Ar bhás Mháire Bhán Ní Mhic Domhnaill; bean-phósda Mhuircheartaigh Uí Mhathghamhna, Chluain-an-fhíona' , Tomás Ó Miodhcháin and Séamus Mac Consaidín. Ó Miodhcháin's poem was written in reply to Lúid's lament, and O'Looney translates the introduction to Ó Miodhcháin's poem as "on receiving the foregoing elegy from his beloved friend ... John Lloyd". There is no record of any poem written by Seán de hÓra on the occasion of Mary's death. Possibly this was because he himself may have been ill at the time as he died about two years later.

The 1778 will of Mary's brother Charles McDonnell named Thomas, Charles and Murtogh McMahon as the first, second and third sons of his sister Mary Ellen, wife of Murtogh McMahon. We also know that Mortogh and Mary had one daughter named Margaret.

Burkes Landed Gentry of Ireland says that Daniel O'Donoghue, The O'Donoghue of the Glens in Co Kerry, married in 1773 Margaret (died November 1788), only surviving child of Murtogh McMahon of Clonina, Co Clare by Mary McDonnell his wife. The Ennis Chronicle of 8th December 1788 reported the death on the 28th ult (November) at Killarney of the lady of O'Donoghue, only daughter of Mortaugh M'Mahon of Clonena in this county and niece of the late Charles McDonnell.

Seán de hÓra composed a poem 'Do Ó Donnchadha na Fleisce' on the occasion of Margaret's marriage, which tells us that the marriage took place in Carrigaholt. He also composed a poem 'A Shéarlais Óig, a Ghrádh Uí Donnchadha' on the occasion of the birth of the couple's first son.

After Mortogh and Mary married, Mortogh and his brother Andrew executed a deed in 1752 which recited that their father Thomas, in his deed dated the 5th of April 1729, had made a charge of £2000 on the lands which his eldest son was to inherit100. The charge was to provide for the payment of £1000 each to his younger children. Mortagh and Andrew agreed that sufficient of the lands could be sold or mortgaged to provide for the payment of the several debts owed by Thomas or which Mortagh still owed, plus £1000 due to Joseph England who had lately married their only sister Margaret, plus £1000 to which Andrew was entitled. The deed went on to recite that Mortagh was entitled to settle any reasonable jointure on his wife and also to charge the lands with a sum not exceeding £3000 in respect of any younger children. In the event that Mortogh had no (living) male issue the lands were to devolve to Andrew for his lifetime and thereafter to the use of the first and every other son of Andrew.

Unlike his father, Mortogh did not embark on any further land acquisitions but in 1754 he surrendered the lease which he held on most of the lands of Kiltumper and agreed a new lease for lives, renewable forever, with John Westropp of Lismeehan (sic)101.

There is no evidence that Mortogh was extravagant in his lifestyle but he seems to have had severe financial difficulties in the 1780s, probably in part due to having inherited large debts. By this time his wife was dead. His third son Mortogh junior seems to have died at a very young age but his other sons Thomas and Charles were now grown men and perhaps they were not as prudent in their financial affairs as their father. A document in the Studdert Papers dated 1784 tells us that Mortogh and his eldest son Thomas were in debt to John and James Woulfe of Cahirush in Kilmurry Ibrickan102. They both executed joint bonds and warranties each in the sum of £400 in favour of the Woulfes. Mortogh's nephew D Arthur England was a witness to the document.

By 1787 Mortogh was in further difficulties according to a Legal Notice in Saunder's News-Letter of 10th October 1787:

'Stephen Roche John, Assignee of William Ford & John Connor, Administrators of Patrick Flynn, deceased, Custodee, Plaintiff. Murtagh McMahon Esq Defendant.
Whereas by order made in this Cause, dated the 10th day of July instant, the Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer is required to set by public Cant to the highest & fairest Bidder the House and Demesne Lands of Clonina in the County of Clare, the Estate of the Defendant, and granted in Custodium to the Plaintiff for three Years from the first day of May last, if Plaintiff's Interest shall so long continue. ... Dated this tenth day of July 1787'. Mortogh seems to have been able to discharge the debt in time to prevent the sale.

At this time Mortogh was in debt to William Rice of Ennis and his son Stephen in the amount of £400 plus a large sum in intersts and costs. Mortogh's kinsman Christopher O'Brien of Ennistymon was guarantor for the loan and in this capacity was sued for the debt. On 1st December 1782 Mortogh, in order to indemnify O'Brien, executed an indenture in which he transferred ownership to O'Brien of all 'the timber, woods and underwoods standing and growing in and upon the Town and Lands of Clonina and Clonwhite'. The agreement was effective until 1st May 1790 and allowed O'Brien's workmen and servants to enter the lands with horses and carts and carriages and to erect sheds or conveniences necessary to cut and carry away the timber. O'Brien was to utilise the money realised from the sale of the timber, less the costs involved, to discharge the debt, and any surplus was to revert to Mortogh103.

All three sons of Mortogh McMahon and his wife Mary Ellen died young and unmarried. The only mention of Mortogh Junior, the youngest, is in the 1767 will of his maternal uncle Charles McDonnell. In his will written in 1795 Mortogh Snr mentioned his late sons Thomas and Charles but not Mortogh Jnr, which might suggest that the latter had died in childhood many years earlier.

The will of Charles McMahon of Cloning (sic) with the date 1790 is listed in the Silles Kelly Abstracts/490, Index to Irish Wills 1484/1858104.

Ennis Chronicle Monday 2 April 1792: 'Died on Friday last (30 March) after a lingering illness, Thomas M'Mahon Esq, only son of Mort M'Mahon of Clonina Esq.' Obviously Thomas was the last surviving son of Mortogh and Mary.

Following the death of the last of his three sons, Mortogh McMahon transferred his lands to his brother Andrew's eldest son Thomas as per the following deed which is preserved in the Studdert Papers in the NLI:

This Indenture made the 5th day of April 1792 between Mortagh McMahon of Clonina in the County of Clare Esq of the one part Andrew McMahon of the City of Limerick Esq of the second part and Thomas McMahon late of the City of Bath in the United Kingdom of Great Britain but now of the City of Limerick and eldest son and heir at law of the said Andrew of the third part.

Whereas the said Mortogh McMahon now stands seized and possessed of and entitled unto, for and during the term of his natural life with remainder to the said Andrew McMahon and his heirs of and in all that and those te towns and lands of Clonina, Clonwhite, Clonwhiterue, Creagh, Leytrim, Shayn, Killtumper, Cragg, Cloinegoulane, Deer island, Ballintlea, Fodry, Ballyasshie, and Cloughanemore, together with their several subdenomitations and appurtenances, situate lying and being in the county of Clare aforesaid, which lands and premises are lyable to and chargeable with several debts and incumbrances due of the said Mortagh McMahon. And whereas the said Mortagh McMahon and Andrew McMahon have mutually agreed to grant assign transfer and convey the several towns lands premises and tenements and all the estates as they or either of them have or are entitled to therein unto the said Thomas McMahon for the consideration hereinafter mentioned.

Now this Indenture witnesseth that the said Mortagh McMahon and Andrew McMahon for and in consideration of Five Shillings apiece to them respectively in hand paid by the said Thomas McMahon, the receipt thereof they hereby respectively acknowledge and thereof and of every part thereof do hereby and respectively acquit release and discharge the said Thomas McMahon his heirs and assigns respectively forever by these presents and for divers other causes and considerations them the said Mortagh McMahon and Andrew McMahon thereunto moving have and each of them respectively hath granted bargained sold released and confirmed And by these presents do and each of them doth respectively grant bargain sell release and confirm unto the said Thomas McMahon all that and those the aforesaid towns and lands of Clonina, Clonwhite, Clonwhiterue, Creagh, Leytrim, Shayn, Killtumper, Cragg, Cloinegoulane, Deer island, Ballintlea, Fodry, Ballyasshie, and Cloughanemore, with their several subdenominations and appurtenances situate lying and being in the county of Clare aforesaid all which said lands tenements and premises are now in the possession of the said Thomas McMahon by virtue of a bargain and sale to him thereof made by the said Mortagh McMahon and Andrew McMahon for the term of a whole year by Indenture bearing date the day next before the day of the date of these presents and by force and virtue of the Statute for transferring use into possession and to his heirs and assigns and the reversion and reversions remainder and remainders yearly and other rents issues and profits thereof and all the Estate, right title interest use property claim and demand whatsoever both at law and in Equity of them the said Mortagh McMahon and Andrew McMahon in to or out of the said lands and tenements and premises to have and to hold the said towns lands tenements and premises hereinbefore mentioned ... and the said Thomas McMahon doth hereby for himself his heirs and assigns for the consideration aforesaid, covenant promise and agree and with the said Mortagh McMahon that he the said Thomas McMahon shall and will yearly and every year during the therm of the natural life of the said Mortagh McMahon pay one annuity yearly rent or sum of One Hundred and Seventy Pounds Stg in two half yearly payments.

The quantities of land involved in the transfer were very substantial. Most were located in the parishes of Kilmacduane and Kilmihil and other lands were located in the parishes of Kilchreest, Kilfintinan, Kilballyowen and Kilnamona.

Mortogh McMahon executed four wills dated 1795, 1797, 1803 and 1808, copies of which are in the National Library of Ireland, although these are quite badly damaged105. We know from them that Mortogh was in poor health for many years and that he had been faithfully served for the fifteen years prior to 1795 by a woman called Honora Learhinan (or Lernihan) who, he said, had often saved his life, and who continued to look after him up to the time of his death thirteen years later. On 18th July 1793 at Mortogh's instigation, his nephew Thomas had demised and set to Honora Learanan part of Rinebane being part of Clonina for the term of 99 years from the date of Mortogh's death at a yearly rent of 5 shillings during her lifetime106. In further recognition of her services, in each of the first two wills he bequeathed to her a farm at Rehy from the letting of which she was to derive the profits. He also bequeathed her all the furniture and fixtures in his house. Mortogh was good to his word, as a note in the Studdert Papers in the National Library of Ireland tells us that on 25th June 1803 Mortogh McMahon of Clonina made an indenture whereby he demised Rehy Park to Honora Learhinane for three lives and after the longest liver of them for ninety nine years at a rent of £10 per annum107.

In the 1795 will Mortogh stipulated that he wished his body to be deposited in his family vault at Kilmichael and that the remains of his dearly beloved wife Mary McDonnell, his sons Thomas and Charles McMahon, Joseph England, and his sister and mother should be exhumed and put into the vault on its being opened for his interment. Although the page is badly damaged, the 1795 will appears to be signed and sealed. In his second will in 1797 he did not mention his sister and his mother but added that the remains of his late brother Andrew should also be reinterred in the vault. It is difficult to be certain if this will was signed and sealed as the bottom of the page is much damaged and illegible.

Strangely no trace is now to be found of a McMahon vault in the old graveyard in Kilmihil. It seems certain that Mortogh's wife and sons would have been interred in the vault had it been built at the time of their deaths, likewise his brother in law Joseph England and Mortogh's brother Andrew who died in 1796. This raises the possibility that Mortogh had intended having a vault constructed for his family but that it was never built.

In his will of 1803 Mortogh stated that he desired 'to make reparation to my well beloved Grandson Charles O'Donoghue of (blank) Esq for having from the Imbarrassed (sic) situation of my affairs & misrepresentation at the time made to me some acts to the prejudice of my sd Grandson ...'. Mortogh went on to say that 'Being Seized & Possessed of all that & those the Town and Lands of Clonina, Creigh, Clonwhite with all and singular the several subdenominations thereunto belonging, Shyans, Leitrim, Cloongoulane, The Craggs, Ballyashea & Ballintlea with all and singular the several and respective subdenominations to them belonging, the Farm and Lands of Killtumper ... and not conveyed or introduced (in) my marriage settlement all which lands & premises & every (page torn, word missing) thereof I leave (illegible) & bequeath unto my sd well (beloved Grands) on Charles O'Donoghue & to his heirs & assigns (page torn, several words missing) subject nevertheless to one Annuity or yearly sum (of) Fifty Pounds to be issuing and payable out of all & (illegible) the sd several Lands & premises and payable unto Honora Learnan for and during the Term of her natural life ...'. There are no witnesses signature to this document and there is a note underneath saying: 'A part a copy of my will in the hands of Charles O'Donoghue Esq of Summerhill, County Kerry'.

The bequest to Charles O'Donoghue is quite puzzling as Mortogh had transferred ownership of all these lands to his nephew Col Thomas McMahon in 1792.

Mortagh's last will was dated 12th May 1808. It is very brief, and in it Mortagh bequeathed three guineas to Bridget Hoare and he stipulated that John Ryan was to get a reasonable allowance for his service108. As in his previous wills, he again stated his gratitude to Honora Learnan/Lernihan for her attendance and care and bequeathed to her the entire of his furniture and any part that remains or appears due of his annuity. This document was signed by Mortogh and was witnessed by Patk Kelly Mathw Madigan Michl Learhan.

Mortogh died at Clonina on 30th May 1808. He was aged 81. The Ennis Chronicle of 4th June reported his death.

Margaret, daughter of Thomas McMahon and Elizabeth Meade, was 'lately married' to Joseph England in 1752 when her brothers Mortogh and Andrew executed a deed in connection with their inheritance. Joseph was entitled to £1000 which his wife was to receive under the terms of the deed which was executed by her father in 1729 following his marriage.

The Englands were originally Catholic but had converted to Protestantism. Joseph England of Cahircalla, Ennis, was High Sheriff of Clare in 1752. In the same year his wife's uncle Mortogh McMahon of Dromore appointed him as one of the executors of his will. Joseph later held lands adjoining Mortogh's at Dromore. We know of three children of Joseph and Margaret. Their son David Arthur England was High Sheriff of Clare in 1817. Their daughter Elizabeth married William Johnson of Fort William, Co Limerick, at Cahircalla in 1771109. Joseph England died in January 1779110. Margaret died at Cahircalla on 15th November 1807111.

Andrew McMahon of Clonina and Limerick

We know that Andrew was the younger and only brother of Mortogh who married Mary Ellen McDonnell in 1750. We also know that he was 'of Limerick' in 1749 (Memorial No 100689 McMahon to McMahon).

In 1755 Stanislaus McMahon of Clenagh Esq did demise set and to farm let to Andrew McMahon of the City of Limerick Gent the Lands of Crossderry in the Parish of Killdisart Barony of Clonderla for a term of ninety nine years112.

Andrew had at least one daughter named Mary who died on 23rd March 1773 at Cahircalla, Ennis, the home of Andrew's sister Margaret, wife of Joseph England113. We also know that Andrew had a son named Thomas.

Lucas's Directory of 1788 lists Andrew McMahon Esq as Surveyor in the Pool, Limerick. This was a Revenue position and it was probably necessary for the holder to be a Protestant. The name Andrew McMahon appears in the Catholic Qualification & Convert Rolls with the date 1788. His place of residence is not recorded and therefore it is not certain if this was Andrew of Limerick. The Catholic Relief Acts from 1778 onwards removed many obstacles facing Catholics provided they took an oath of allegiance to the Crown but, on balance, it seems more likely that Andrew was a convert to Protestantism.

On 17th March 1796 the Ennis Chronicle reported the death near Kilrush of Andrew M'Mahon Esq, formerly Surveyor of Limerick114. There is no record in any of the Limerick City Church of Ireland parishes of the baptisms of any children of Andrew. This may suggest that his children were born at Crossderry and it is possible that Andrew lived there for some years before returning to Limerick. It is not known for how long prior to 1788 that Andrew held the position of Surveyor in Limerick. It is also possible that the location where he died 'near Kilrush' was actually Crossderry near Kildysart, although it is more likely to have been at his brother's house at Clonina.

Colonel Thomas McMahon and his Family

Thomas is the only son of Andrew McMahon of Limerick of whom we know. It seems certain that he was reared as a Protestant115. Thomas joined the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot. This regiment was formed in 1689 and a century later the rank and file were mainly Catholic Irish but the officers were exclusively Protestant. The London Gazette noted the announcement by the War Office of the promotion on 10th July 1800 by Brevet of Captain Thomas MacMahon of the 27th Foot to be Major in the Army. Promotions by Brevet were unusual and were normally only made as a reward for gallantry or meritorious conduct. Shortly afterwards he was promoted again as The Royal & Imperial Calendar of 1801 lists Thomas M'Mahon as a Lt Colonel of the 27th Foot. We know little about Thomas's military career but the 27th were involved in many theatres during the Napoleonic Wars including the West Indies, Egypt, Portugal and Spain, and it must be assumed that Thomas saw much action at this time.

As would be expected of a serving officer in the British Army, Thomas was constantly on the move. He was 'late of the City of Bath ... but now of the City of Limerick' in April 1792 when his uncle Mortogh McMahon transferred ownership of most of his estates to him.

Captain Thomas McMahon of Limerick married Miss Mary Scott of Clifton, Gloucestershire, at Hotwells, Bristol, on 9th Nov 1792. Clifton is a suburb of Bristol and is only 13 miles from Bath. In later life Mary referred to herself as Maria.

Thomas McMahon held a house for a number of years at Moatfield, Co Kildare, possibly because of its relative proximity to the Curragh military base116. He was 'of Moatfield' in 1795 when he executed a deed of lease for lives to James McNamara of Lispuccane of the lands of Ballintlea in the Barony of Bunratty already in his possession117. A few weeks later Thomas executed a deed of mortgage in favour of Thomas Brew of Teigrouge, Co Clare, in respect of the sum of £400 charged on the farm and lands of Ballintlea. A month later he executed a deed of annuity or rent charge in the sum of £74 per annum in favour of Thomas Brew against the lands of Ballintlea for as long as the mortgage of £400 plus interest remained unpaid118.

Moatfield was attacked by the rebels during the Rising of 1798. Captain Thomas McMahon was 'of Southampton' when he claimed the sum of £500 in respect of damage and loss to the house, furniture and corn.

Thomas was resident at Newcourt, Bray, Co Wicklow by 1802 when the Ennis Chronicle of 4th November reported the birth of his son. Edward, son of Col Thomas McMahon of Old Connough (sic) was baptised on 27th Oct 1802 in the Church of Ireland (St Paul's), Bray. The entry in the parish records states that Edward was the fourth son of Lt Col McMahon of the 27th Regt.

The Clare Journal of 7th September 1809 reported the 'Birth: Last Wednesday in Cork street at the house of MN Keating Esq, the lady of Lt Colonel McMahon of a daughter'.

It appears that by around 1815 Col Thomas McMahon was under considerable financial pressure and the Clonina estate was heavily encumbered by debt. This was an era when many of the Irish landed gentry lived well beyond their means and it seems that the Colonel needed to raise substantial sums of money to fund his lifestyle and to discharge the debts charged against the estate. On 1st May 1816 a Bill was filed in the Court of Exchequer in Dublin by Jane Ormsby O'Beirne against the Colonel, his wife Maria and their eldest son Thomas. The knowledge that this Bill was about to be filed against him seems to have caused the Colonel to embark on a series of legal manouevres to stabilise his financial position and also to lease out a substantial portion of the Clonina estate to one lessee.

On 15th August 1815 an Indented Deed was executed between Thomas McMahon the elder of New Court, his eldest son Thomas McMahon the younger of the first part, John Scott of Newry, Co Down and Charles Benson Barrister at Law of Dublin City of the second part, and David Arthur England of Cahircalla Co Clare and Wm Richards of Co Wexford of the third part119. The deed referred to the marriage settlement dated 8th November 1792 of Thomas McMahon the elder and Mary McMahon his present wife120. The settlement involved all of Thomas's lands in Co Clare other than the lands of Ballintlea, Clonina, Clonegolin, Cragg, Kiltumper, Leytrim, Shyan, Creugh and Ballyashea. The settlement provided for a jointure of £300 per year in favour of Mary. The children of Thomas and Mary were named as Thomas the younger who was the firstborn, Robert Andrew the second, William Warburton the third, Edward the fourth and John the fifth son. Their only daughter was named as Maria. Thomas McMahon the elder and Thomas McMahon the younger conveyed the lands of Clonina, Clonegalin, Cragg, Kiltumper, Leitrim, Creigh and none other to John Scott and Charles Benson in trust to Thomas McMahon the elder for life with remainder to Thomas the younger for life and to his male issue and in default of such to the younger brothers and their male issue and in default of such issue to their sister Maria and her heirs. By which deed the lands were vested in David Arthur England and Wm Richards their heirs etc for a term of 500 years. Thomas the elder and Thomas the younger were given the power to raise up to £5000 to be secured against the lands to provide for the younger children. By the same deed it was agreed that the lands of Shyan and Ballyashea were to be conveyed for natural considerations to Cornelius O'Callaghan of Dublin, his heirs and assigns. This agreement was put into effect in February 1816.

On 19th February 1816 Revd Thos Smyth of the City of Dublin, Thos McMahon the elder heretofore of Clonina but now of New Court and Maria McMahon orse Scott his wife, Thos McMahon the younger, John McDonnell of New Hall, Cornelius O'Brien of the City of Dublin and Cornelius O'Callaghan of Ballinahinch, Co Clare were among nine parties to an indented deed in which was recited a Decree of the Court of Exchequer wherein Thos Smyth was the Petitioner and Thos McMahon, his wife, his eldest son and others were the Defendants, and by which decree Thos McMahon the elder and Thos McMahon the younger for the consideration therein mentioned did grant and convey to Cornelius O'Callaghan his heirs and assigns forever the lands of Shyan, Ballyashea, and further the said Thos Smyth did by this deed and with the desire and request of Thos McMahon the elder and the younger and of Cornelius O'Callaghan assign and convey to Cornelius O'Brien the said Decree and money thereby decreed to be paid to Thos Smyth as trustee of Thos McMahon the elder, the better to protect the said Cornelius O'Callaghan his heirs and assigns in the quiet enjoyment of the said purchased lands of Shyan and Ballyashea121.

On 3rd May 1753 Mortough McMahon of Clonina executed a deed of mortgage to Mrs Mary Burton secured against the lands of Shyan, Creigh, Clonina, Clonwhite, Leitrim, Cragclonborney, Ballyashea, Trough and other lands, with a condition of redemption. The deed was registered on 26th Jan 1758. On 6th September 1766 Mary Burton assigned the mortgage to Charles McDonnell; this deed was registered on 17th November. The mortgage subsequently became vested in John McDonnell, grandson of Charles. In an Indented Deed dated 12th March 1816, John, by and with the consent and connivance of Thomas McMahon of Clonina but now of New Court and Cornelius O'Callaghan of Ballinahinch Co Clare did for the consideration therein mentioned assign and convey the said mortgage ... to the said Cornelius O'Brien of Dublin City'122. It will be noted that Thomas had conveyed the lands of Shyan and Ballyashea to O'Callaghan the previous August.

On 6th October 1815 Thomas McMahon the Elder of Newcourt, Co Wicklow and Thomas McMahon the Younger his son, Lieutenant in His Majesties Wicklow Regiment of Militia, executed two indented deeds of lease in favour of the Revd Patrick O'Kelly of Clonreddan, Co Clare123. In the first the McMahons for the consideration mentioned in the deed, demised granted and confirmed to Fr O'Kelly his heirs and assigns forever, the farm and lands of West Creigh part of the lands of Clonina in the Parish of Kilmacduane containing by estimation 300 acres as are now in the occupation and possession of said Patrick O'Kelly. In the second deed the McMahons demised released and confirmed to Fr O'Kelly his heirs and assigns forever, the Deerpark and Orchard of Leitrim containing by estimation 40 acres then in the occupation and possession of said Patrick O'Kelly and also three other denominations of land totalling 110 acres, also part of the lands of Leitrim, which had been occupied by three tenants. The leases were subject to the payments of the agreed rents124. From these deeds it appears that Fr O'Kelly had occupied the demesne lands of Clonina for some time as a tenant of Thomas McMahon, probably from soon after the death of Thomas the Elder's uncle Mortogh McMahon in 1808.

In a third lease dated 6th July 1816 Thomas McMahon the elder of New Court, Co Wicklow Esq and his son Thomas McMahon the younger Esq, late Lieutenant in His Majesty's Wicklow Regiment of Militia executed an Indenture of Lease to the Revd Patrick O'Kelly of Clonreddan, whereby the McMahons for the consideration therein mentioned 'did demise grant set and to farm let unto the said Patrick O'Kelly his heirs and assigns in his actual possession then being by virtue of a Lease therein recited ... all that and those the farm and lands of Glanmore and Tourene Thomas, part of the lands of Kiltumper in the parish of Kilmichael ... containing by estimation twelve hundred acres ... forever ... the said Patrick O'Kelly paying therefore and thereout yearly ... the sum of One Hundred Pounds'. The excution of the memorial of the deed was witnessed by Thomas McMahon Snr's uncle in law David Arthur England of Ennis125. The 'consideration therein mentioned' is not specified. In a booklet written between 1941 and 1949, 'Kilmihil Parish, Its Origin and Scraps of its History' by Rev Patrick Gaynor PP, the author quotes an old man in the area as saying that the Priest Kelly bought Cloneenagh from McMahon, who gambled and drank, for £400126. Certainly the sum of £400 was a gross understatement and it is likely that Fr O'Kelly paid several multiples of this to acquire the lands. There is no evidence that the Colonel ever lived permanently at Clonina and, while he probably visited from time to time, it seems that he did not have any real affinity with his patrimony.

Death: In Clonmel, Colonel M'Mahon of Clonina, County Clare, and Newcourt, Co Wicklow, late of the 27th, and Barrack Master of that Town. (Saunder's Newsletter 18th August 1818, and Ennis Chronicle 19 Aug 1818). The Globe (London) reported on 20 Aug 1818: 'Death: On Sunday se'nnight, at Clonmel, Lieutenant Colonel McMahon, of Clonina, county Clare, and Newcourt, county Wicklow, late of the 27th Regiment. His remains were attended to the grave by his three younger sons, chief mourners, and all the respectable gentlemen of Clonmel'.

We know that Thomas had five sons and it seems likely that Thomas, the eldest, who died two months after his father, was too ill to attend his father's funeral. William Warburton, the third son, seems to have predeceased his father.

Notice to Creditors: All persons having Charges or Encumbrances affecting the Estates and Property of Colonel M'Mahon of Clonina in the County of Clare, and New Court, Bray; and Thomas M'Mahon Esq his eldest son, are required to furnish a Statement of the nature and amount of such claims to Richard Scott Esq, Attorney for said Thomas M'Mahon. Dublin, Sept 23, 1818. (Dublin Evening Post 10th October 1818).

Ennis Chronicle Wednesday 28th October 1818: 'Died last Monday morning at Cahircalla, the seat of David Arthur England Esq, Thomas M'Mahon Esq of the 82nd Regt, eldest son of the late Colonel McMahon of Clonena, in the 23rd year of his age. He had been in a rapid decline for some time and but lately returned from Mallow'.

The 82th Regiment sailed from Ramsgate for Ireland on board the Boadicea in January 1816 and she and two other transports were all wrecked off the Waterford and Cork coasts. The 82nd lost 280 men plus women and children drowned. The 82nd spent the next two years in Ireland. It seems that Thomas only joined the 82nd after the regiment arrived in Ireland.

Clare Journal 26th April 1819: 'Death, at the seat of his brother, Newcourt, Bray, in his 22nd year Robert Andrew M'Mahon Esq of the 80th Regt, son of the late Col M'Mahon of Clonina'. The will of Robt Andrew McMahon, Clonina, with the date 1827 is listed in the Prerogative Wills 1811-1858. The 80th Regiment had only returned to England in 1817 after a long period in India so it appears that Robert Andrew only joined the army then or soon after.

Southern Reporter & Cork Commercial Courier 9th January 1827: 'Death, at Kilrush on Tuesday last (2nd Jan), in the bloom of life, Edmond McMahon Esq of Clonina, whose open and generous heart possessed all the hereditary virtues of his ancient family'. This was Edward, the fourth son, who was baptised in Bray in October 1802. The will of Edmond McMahon of Newcourt, Co Dublin, is listed in the Diocesan And Prerogative Wills & Administrations Indexes 1595-1858.

In Michaelmas Term 1825 Michael Studdert obtained a judgement in the Court of Common Pleas against Edward McMahon of Clonina for the sum of £200. The debt was not discharged before Edward's death and subsequently Michael Studdert of Rehy Park became entitled to payment of the principal plus interest following the sale of the freehold of the McMahon lands in 1843127.

The third of the four sons of Col Thomas McMahon who was alive at the time of his father's death was John. On the 27th October 1827 John McMahon Esq of Newcourt, Co Wicklow, executed a deed in which he is described as the 'eldest son and heir at law of Thomas McMahon Esq deceased, and also eldest brother now surviving and heir at law of Thomas McMahon and Edward McMahon Esquires also deceased both late of Newcourt'128. Whoever drafted the memorial of the deed seems to have been rather careless as John should have been described as the only surviving son of Thomas McMahon Snr.

The memorial refers to the deed dated 6th October 1815 whereby Thomas McMahon Snr and his son Thomas McMahon Jnr executed a deed of lease to Revd Patrick O'Kelly, Parish Priest of Kilmacduane, his heirs and assigns forever, of the lands of Creigh under the yearly rent of One Hundred and Eighty Pounds Stg. The memorial goes on to say that John McMahon agreed to reduce and abate the rent to One Hundred and Ten Pounds Fifteen Shillings and Four Pence Halfpenny with effect from 1st May 1827. The reason for the reduction is noted as 'the great decrease in the value of land' since the date of the original lease, and that 'the said yearly rent ... was too high ... and more than the value thereof'. This dramatic fall in land values reflected the collapse of the price of agricultural products following the ending of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. The witnesses to the deed were John McMahon's granduncle in law David Arthur England of Ennis and Fr O'Kelly's brother in law, Thomas Gibson of Ballyvoe129. Richard Scott of Ennis was a witness to the memorial. Scott was an attorney who had offices in Dublin and who was to be found 'in Ennis during vacation'130. John Scott of Newry was a party to a deed executed by Thomas McMahon in August 1815. It will be noted that Thomas McMahon Snr's wife Mary/Maria was née Scott.

John McMahon must have died sometime between October 1827 and June 1832 as he was not mentioned in a court action in which his mother was named in the latter year. He may be the John McMahon of Sackville street, Dublin,whose will dated 1830 is listed in the Ireland Diocesan and Prerogative Wills & Administrations Indexes 1595-1858131.

The Bill which Jane Ormsby O'Beirne had filed in the Court of Exchequer in 1816 eventually resulted in a Decree to Account being pronounced on 7th June 1832 in which the Chief Remembrancer was charged with investigating the totality of the encumbrances against the lands. By this time Maria was the only defendant still alive. The Remembrancer found that Maria was entitled to two charges against the lands, one for £2000 and a second for £1000 with interest from the death of her late husband. On 18th June 1835 this totalled £5566.3s.1 3/4d present currency and a final decree for this sum was granted to Maria out of the sale of the lands directed to be sold. A further report by the Court Remembrancer found that Maria was also due in respect of her jointure and arrears the sum of £1251. 16s 11d, and on the 24th June 1835 the Court gave an order for the payment of this amount to Maria. On 3rd April 1837 Maria executed a deed of assignment of this amount to William Cullen, solicitor for Jane Ormsby O'Beirne, in settlement of all the latter's claims132.

Maria proceeded to borrow the sum of £200 at 6% interest from Robert Studdert late of Mount Rivers Co Clare and then of Strokestown Co Roscommon, Lieutenant in the Revenue Police. On 4th October 1838 Maria executed a deed of assignment in favour of Robert Studdert in which the loan was secured against part of the moneys due to Maria out of the sale of the Clonina estate133.

An order was made by the Court on 14th June 1837 for the sale of the lands of Clonina alias Clonwhite alias Clonwhiterue, Clonigallen, Cragg alias Cragclounborna, Leitrim, Creagh alias Clonetragh, and Kiltumper. The sale was arranged for 18th November 1837 and advertisements were placed in the newspapers134. However the sale was postponed on a number of occasions and the auction eventually took place on 29th May 1843135. The purchase of the freehold of the lands was completed by John Vandeleur Stewart on 10th June 1843 and he then became entitled to the head rents payable under the terms of the leases. Stewart's maternal aunt was the wife of John Ormsby Vandeleur of Kilrush. Stewart paid the sum of £17,500 for the freehold of the lands. This was more than sufficient to cover all the encumbrances and charges on the property.

By a conveyance of lease and release dated 29th November 1843 Maria McMahon of New Court for the consideration of six hundred pounds transferred to John O'Kelly the ownership of that part of the lands of Clonina known as Rinebane then in the possession of Michael Studdert and Honoria his wife plus an adjoining area of bog already in the possession of John O'Kelly, subject to a yearly rent of 5 shillings136. The deed states that Maria held these lands from the Earl of Thomond and thus they obviously were not included in the 1843 sale of the freehold title to the other lands of the Clonina estate. Michael Studdert lived at Rehy Park near Carrigaholt which he seems to have acquired from the family of Honora Learnanan to whom Mortogh McMahon had demised the property in 1803. Studdert seems to also have acquired the lands of Rinebane which Mortogh's nephew Thomas demised to Honora Learnanan in 1793. The lands of Rehy Park had been acquired by Dennis McMahon from Luke Hickman of Fenloe in 1731 on foot of a lease of three lives renewable forever.

Died: At New Court, Wicklow, Maria, relict of Colonel Thomas M'Mahon, of Clonina, Clare, aged 78. (The Globe, London, 20th August 1847). Thus Maria was born c 1769 which suggests that she may have been rather younger than her husband. The deed of 15th August 1815 refers to Mary (Maria) as Thomas's present wife which may suggest that Thomas had been married previously. The Dublin Evening Mail of 3rd December 1847 advertised the sale by auction at Newcourt, Bray, of the furniture and household effects of the late Mrs Colonel McMahon.

The O'Kellys

Fr Patrick O'Kelly, eldest son of Michael Kelly and Margaret McMahon, was born c1757 at Cloghaunbeg West, near Cree. His paternal grandparents were Timothy 'Tadgh an Óir' O'Kelly and Honora Mahon. 'Tadgh an Óir' was said to be a very wealthy man. Honora's sister married Timothy Kelly of Craggaknock whose father Captain Patrick O'Kelly was slain at the Battle of Aughrim in 1691137. Both O'Kelly families originated in Co Galway and were possibly already related. It is said that Capt Patrick O'Kelly's first wife was a sister in law of Daniel O'Brien, Lord Clare, who introduced this branch of the Kelly family into Clare. Timothy Kelly of Craggaknock was a son of Capt O'Kelly by his second wife, Elizabeth Reid.

Patrick O'Kelly was educated at the Irish College in Paris and left France at the beginning of the French Revolution and returned to his native Clare. For forty years he was the parish priest of the combined parishes of Kilmacduane (Cooraclare) and Kilmihil. He was known as 'The Priest' Kelly, An Sagart Uí Cheallaigh. He inherited much of his grandfather's wealth and lands and had the financial wherewithal to acquire the McMahon lands when they became available. When he died on 31st January 1830 he was buried in the new church at Cree which he had recently built at his own expense. After his death his estate was valued at £6,750, a truly remarkable sum for a priest in pre-emancipation Ireland.

Thomas Gibson, brother in law of Fr Patrick O'Kelly, and John O'Kelly, nephew of Fr O'Kelly, were the executors of Fr O'Kelly's will138. On 1st July 1850 a notice appeared in the Clare Journal under the heading 'Sale of Incumbered Estates in Ireland. In the matter of the Estate of John O'Kelly. Ex parte Thomas Gibson'. The notice stated that "by an absolute Order, bearing date the 22nd Day of June 1850, it was ordered that the Lands of Glanmore and Tooreen Thomas, Leitrim otherwise Laytram, situate in the Barony of Clonderalaw, County of Clare, and the House & Demesne Lands of Clonina, the Farm & Lands of Clonina Wood, including Moneenavadra, and that part of the Lands of Clonina commonly called Rhinebawn, situate in the Barony of Moyarta & County of Clare, held respectively, under leases in perpituity, shall be sold for the purpose of discharging the incumbrances thereon".
The sale by auction of the 2169 acre estate of John O'Kelly, deceased, Owner, continued in the name of James Patrick O'Kelly Esq, was advertised to take place in Limerick on 3rd March 1855139. John O'Kelly had died a few weeks earlier on 10th Feb. It is unclear why Thomas Gibson had instituted the proceedings but taken at face value it implies that John was indebted to Thomas and that John's debts were so great that it was necessary to sell his lands to discharge the debts.

The catalogue containing the rental and particulars of the lands, which were to be sold in five lots, gives details of each lot and its constituent lands with details of the leases under which they were held.

Lot 1. The lands of Glanmore and Tuoreen Thomas, being part of the lands of Kiltumper, Barony of Clonderlaw, held under a fee farm grant made by Thomas McMahon the Elder and Thomas McMahon the Younger to Rev Patrick O'Kelly, dated 6th July 1816, subject to a head rent of £100 late currency equivilant to £92.6s.2d present currency. By his will dated 5th December 1856 and a codicil dated 18th June 1829, Fr O'Kelly devised the said lands to John O'Kelly, except a portion thereof called the West Division which Fr O'Kelly had devised to his brother Thady Kelly; and except another portion called the Middle Division of Glanmore which he had devised to his nephew Partick Kelly, son of Thady.

Lot 2. By a fee farm grant dated 29th November 1843 Maria McMahon of Newcourt granted to John O'Kelly that part of the lands of Clonina called Rhinebane then in the possession of Michael Studdert and Honoria his wife containing 66 acres 3 roods 38 perches and the piece of bog on the opposite side of the road then in the occupation of John O'Kelly subject to a yearly rent of 5 Shillings.

Lot 3. The lands of Clonina Wood including Moneenavaddra, Barony of Moyarta, held under a fee farm grant dated 15th August 1840 from Maria McMahon to John O'Kelly and Michael Cullinan of Ennis (in trust for John O'Kelly) at a yearly rent of £9.4s.7 1/2d140.

Lot 4. The lands of Leitrim in the parish of Kilmichael, Barony of Clonderlaw, held under a fee farm grant made by Thomas McMahon the Elder and Thomas McMahon the Younger to Rev Patrick O'Kelly, dated 6th October 1815 at a yearly rent of £42. Fr Partick O'Kelly by his will devised the lands of Leitrim to John O'Kelly except a division of said lands containing about 30 acres which he devised to his brother Thady Kelly, who resided there.

Lot 5. The lands of Clonina called the House and Demesne Lands held under a fee farm grant dated 15th August 1840 made by Maria McMahon of New Court, widow of Colonel Thomas McMahon, to John O'Kelly and Michael Cullinan (in trust for John O'Kelly).

The lands of Clonina were bought by Thomas Gibson's son in law Pat Mór O'Kelly of Fortview, nephew of Fr Patrick O'Kelly and first cousin of John O'Kelly141.

Image 5: Swords from the Williamite Wars.
These swords belonged to Thomas Gibson's ancestor Captain Thomas Gibson who fought at the Battle of the Boyne on the side of King William.


The story of the McMahons of Clonina is not untypical of that of similar families of the old Gaelic aristocracy. For a century or more after Henry VIII made his big push to bring Gaelic Ireland under English control, they fought a rearguard action to save their ancestral lands, culture and religion. Many lost much or all of their lands in the Cromwellian confiscations of the 1650s. The final throw of the dice for them was when they staked everything in the cause of the Catholic King James II. A few lines of the song "After Aughrim" sums up their situation: "After Aughrim's great disaster, when our foe in sooth was master, ... and Seán ÓDuibhír a' Ghleanna we were worsted in the game". Most of the estates of the Gaelic nobility were forfieted to the English Crown and came into the possession of the supporters of the Protestant King William. The ink in which the Treaty of Limerick was written in 1691 was scarcely dry when the treaty was broken and the harsh Penal Laws against Catholics were introduced. Only a few Jacobite families managed to retain their lands in spite of the measures introduced in the Penal Laws specifically aimed at making it virtually impossible for Catholics to own or hold land on long leases. A small number of families like the McMahons managed to circumvent these laws and some of these continued to maintain some semblance of the old culture and way of life. We see this in the patronage afforded by Máire Bán McMahon (née McDonnell) to the Gaelic poets of West Clare up to the end of the third quarter of the 18th century. From the middle of that century and following the defeat of the Scottish Jacobites at Culloden, families like the McMahons reluctantly accepted the de facto authority of the Hanoverian monarchy. Many of the Penal Laws were rescinded towards the end of the 18th century and Catholics were allowed to hold commissioned rank in the British Army in 1793. Thereafter many members of the old Irish Catholic gentry felt able to join the Army although some such as Colonel Thomas McMahon had already converted to Protestantism. The Colonel must have felt that the descent of his family's estate was secure when he fathered five sons, but their early deaths together with financial pressures meant that this was not to be. This branch of the McMahons thus became extinct in the male line and the connection of the family with Clonina came to an end.

Image 6: The Island in Knockalough Lake. Photo courtesy of Martin Breen.


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