Histoires Menu

The Mahonys of Kerry

S. T. McCarthy

Kerry Archæological Magazine, 1917-1918, p. 171 - 190; 223-255.

[Part III]


        Amongst the many notable members of the Mahony Clan there is none, at least in modern times, who has attained so much distinction as Daniel "Ie brave O'Mahony," the Hero of Cremona, who died a Count of Spain, General, and Commander of St. lago. In Burke's "Landed Gentry" and in Sir Ross O'Connell's notes to "The Last Colonel of the Irish Brigade" (Vol. I, p. 51) it is suggested, or assumed, but not expressly asserted, that he belonged to the Dunloe and Dromore line. But in a MS. book of Mahony Pedigrees, kept at Dromore Castle, which we had the advantage of perusing some years ago, we found a special pedigree of Count Daniel, wherein his descent is traced down from Fineen, brother of Dermod Spaineach, Lord of KinaImeaky (circa 1450). We attach further on a copy of that pedigree brought up to the present time. Daniel O'Mahony appears to have originally joined the French Irish Brigade, and was an officer in Dillon's regiment at the time of his great achievement at Cremona in 1702. We now proceed to give at some length an account of that obstinate combat, and the important part taken in it by our hero.

        At the time we speak of Cremona as the headquarters of the Marquis de Villeroi, then in command of the French and Spanish Forces. Situated on the left of the Po, it was strongly fortified by a wall pierced by five gates, one of which, leading to a bridge of boats over the river, was known as the "Po gate." Under the Marquis de Villeroi were, amongst others, Count de Revel, Marquis de Praslin, &c. The garrison consisted of 4000 men, all French, except the two battalions of Colonels Arthur Dillon and Walter Bourke, which made up in all no more than about 600 men, As the capture of such an important place, with its garrison, military stores, and so many of the principal officers of the Confederate forces, would enable Prince Eugene of Savoy, who commanded the Austrian forces, to drive the French and Spaniards out of Italy, he gave his particular attention, during the winter of 1701-2, to forming plans for the surprise of the town which, from what he had heard of the general laxity of things in the garrison, he had every hope of effecting. Marshal Villeroi, though personally brave, was not a good tactician, and no necessary precautions were taken, by those under him, to guard against a surprise.

        At that time there was, in Prince Eugene's army, a native of Cremona named Antonio Cozzoli, whose family were partisans of the House of Austria. His brother was a priest in Cremona, whose church and residence stood near a sewer for carrying off the foul water and other impurities or the town into the trenches surrounding the walls. At the entrance to this sewer was a grating, which, if removed, would allow of the entrance of the Austrian troops into the town. Gozzoli, tempted by the promise of a heavy reward, offered to facilitate this, and applied to the Governor of the town, Don Diego de la Concha, to have the grating removed, on the pretext of getting the sewer cleared of impurities. This was done, and Eugene then commenced slipping into the town by degrees a number of experienced officers, with a considerable number of picked men, to pave the way for the entrance of a large force. When everything was in train, Prince Eugene started, on the night of [Tuesday] the 31st January, 1702, from a place some 18 miles distant, with a force of between 5,000 and 6,000 men, all of whom, by daylight next morning, he had got into the town. Before any alarm could he raised, the Austrians were in possession of the leading positions of the place. In the first. skirmish, between the French and the Austrians, Marshal Villeroi was wounded and taken prisoner, and would have been killed but for the intervention of Captain Francis McDonnell, an Irishman in the Austrian Service, who saw that he was comfortably cared for.

        The Irish were the first to offer effective resistance to the Austrian troops. When the Baron de Mercy, an Austrian officer, attempted to master the Po gate, so as to leave it open for the second corps of Austrian troops, under the command of the Prince de Vaudemont, he was foiled by a small body of some 35 Irishmen, led by a captain whose name is not recorded, who were too quick for De Mercy, and succeeded in shutting if in time. This handful of men (who indeed were the only Irish troops ready for action when the Austrians surprised the town) with incredible valour, and protected by their barrier before the Po gate, succeeded in holding out against the enemy, until the arrival of the two, Irish Battalions of Bourke and Dillon, the former led by Lieut.­Colonel, Wauchope, and the latter by Major Daniel O'Mahony12 in the absence of Colonel Lally. These two battalions received De Mercy's Infantry, who advanced against them supported by a detachment of Cuirassiers with such a galling fire, and charged them with such fury, that they had to fall back. About this time Prince Vaudemont's Corps of 5,000 Austrians were seen approaching, but their commandant seeing how matters stood, gave orders to them to halt preparatory to a regular attack.

         Meanwhile, Prince Eugene, hearing of this defeat, determined to try if the Irish were as proof against gold as against steel, and despatched to them one of their own countrymen, namely Capt. Francis McDonnell, who had treated Marshal de Villeroi with such consideration on his capture. McDonnell, on arriving at the Po gate, made an ardent appeal to his countrymen, whom he exhorted to change sides and join the Austrians, promising them higher pay, and offering various other inducements. These offers were sternly rejected by O'Mahony, who there and then caused McDonnell to be arrested as a "suborner."

         Our space does not allow of our recounting all the achievements of O'Mahony and his brave countrymen on that, eventful day. We shall, however, mention one dramatic episode.

        Wauchope having been wounded, the command of his battalion as well as of Dillon's devolved on Major O'Mahony. He was ordered by Count Revel to fight his way to the Mantua gate, and this order he promptly proceeded to carry out. In spite of the terrible fire of the Austrians from a guard house where they took up their position, he succeeded in dislodging them and putting them to flight. Baron Freiberg, a young Austrian officer, who had been sent by Prince Eugene to charge the Irish, disposed his cuirassiers so as to attack the brigade "in front, flank, and rear." But O'Mahony, arranging his men so as to face their assailants on every side, received the onset of the Imperialists with an intrepidity that astonished them. The cuirassiers were utterly routed, but another corps of them soon after came on, and, headed by Frieberg in person, broke through the ranks of the regiment of Dillon. O'Mahony rushing up to arrest Freiberg's career, seized the bridle of his horse, and desirous of preserving the gallant young man's life, cried out, "Good quarter for Mr. Freiberg." The Baron replied, "This, is no day for clemency! Do your duty and I'll do mine!" and, endeavouring to push forward, was fired at and killed. The cuirassiers, dismayed at this, and having already suffered so much, wavered and were easily routed by the Irish.

         After this O'Mahony took on himself the responsibility of returning to the Po gate, and, in doing so, acted well, as a fresh body of Austrians had arrived. Stationing himself by the battery, he played the artillery at the building occupied by the enemy, and swept their troops away whenever they showed themselves. It was not, however, until about 3 p.m., after the destruction of the Bridge of Boats over the Po, that Cremona was finally secured on that side. The achievements of the Irish on this memorable day were concluded by the remainder of the troops at the Po gate at last fulfilling the order to penetrate to the gate of Mantua. And though so much weakened by fatigue, fasting, and wounds, the few surviving effective Irish troops followed the retiring enemy beyond it.

         Eugene's contest with the French at St. Margaret's gate was maintained till a late hour, but ultimately, after a contest which had raged in various parts of the town for some eleven hours, the fate of Cremona was decided about 6 p.m. by his having to abandon that stronghold "taken," as it was said, "by a miracle, and lost by a still greater one!"

         The conflict during the whole day seems to have been of a most obstinate nature. According to the most probable accounts the losses on Prince Eugene's side came up to 1,500 or 1,600 men, of whom 1,200 were killed or wounded. Of the French and Irish infantry, there was a loss of 1,429 men and officers. Of these the Irish alone lost 350―a large proportion out of 600 men!"

         There can he little doubt that Prince Eugene would have carried the town but for Mahony's vigilance. The Count de Revel was convinced that it was to the obstinate courage of the Irish, in defence of the Po gate, that the preservation of Cremona was maintained, and appointed as their own most distinguished representative, Major O'Mahony, to carry the despatches to Paris. St. Simon, who knew the Major, describes in his " Memoirs" the excitement caused by the news at Marly on [Thursday] the 9th February, 1702. He was in the antechamber, which was crowded with courtiers, whilst Mahony was closeted with the King for over an hour. On coming out, the King declared he had never heard so good an account of a military event, told as it was with great dearness, and an agreeable manner. lt is said that, during Mahony's interview with the King, the latter said to him: "You tell me about the French, but say nothing about my brave Irish!" "Sire," rejoined the Major, "nous avons suivis leur rapidité guerrière." Louis rewarded him with a brevet as Colonel, and a pension of 1,000 livres, besides a present of 1,000 Louis d'or by way of defraying the expenses of his journey.

         The rest of Mahony's career was spent in Spain, he having, by desire of Louis XIV, entered the service of the King's grandson, Philip V, with the Tank of Brigadier­General. Philip, for his signal services, appointed him, in 1705 Major-General, and in 1706 Military Governor of Carthagena, and soon afterwards Lieut.-General. At the battle of Almanza Mahony led the Irish regiment of dragoons, and contributed greatly to the victory. In the campaign of 1710 he was made a Count or Castile. At the close of that year, at the battle of Villaviciosa, where Philip V was present, a portion of the cavalry reserve was under Count O'Mahony, and the King was so pleased with the part which he took in bringing about that great victory, that he appointed him a Commander of the Military Order of St. Iago, with an annual revenue of 15,000 Louis. His contemporary, the French Military historian, Bellerive, summed up his career as follows:―"His whole life has been a continual chain of dangerous combats, bold attacks, and honourable retreats." Count O'Mahony died at Ocana, in Spain, in January, 1714.

         He married, firstly, Cecilia, daughter of George Weld of Lulworth Castle, Dorsetshire, by whom he had two sons:―James and Demetrius (Dermod), neither of whom left male descendants. He married, secondly, Charlotte Bulkeley, widow of the fifth Lord Clare, by whom, apparently, he left no issue. His elder son, James Joseph, was born in 1699, his sponsor at baptism being James Francis Edward Stuart, known as the "Old Pretender." He inherited his father's title of Count of Castile, rose to the rank of Colonel in the Spanish Army, and of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Neapolitan Army, then under Spain. He died in 1757. He married Lady Anne Clifford, and his only child, Cecilia, married Prince Giustiniani, fourth in descent from whom, in the female line, comes Charles Giustiniani-Bandini, the present Earl of Newburgh, born 1862, as will be seen from the pedigree which follows.

         Demetrius O’Mahony, second son of Count Daniel, succeeded to his brother's title of Count. He had risen to the rank of Brigadier-General in the Spanish Army. About 1760 he was appointed Ambassador of Spain to the Court of Vienna. The following extracts, from the Annual Register for 1766, testifies to his attachment to the land of his fathers and aIl belonging to it:―"On the 17th of this month, His Excellency, Count O'Mahony, Ambassador from Spain to the Court of Vienna, gave a grand entertainment in honour of St. Patrick, to which were invited all persons of condition, that were of Irish descent, being himself a descendant of an illustrious family of that Kingdom. Among many others were present Count Lacy, President of the Council of War; the Generals O'Donnell, McGuire, O'Kelly, Brown, Plunkett, and McElligott; four Chiefs of the Grand Cross, two Governors, several Knights Military, and six Staff Officers, four Privy Councillors with the principal Officers of State, who, to show their respect for the Irish Nation, wore Crosses in honour of the day, as did the entire Court."


(The above pedigree has been copied from a book at Dromore Castle.)

         Bartholomew Mahony, Knight of Malta, was born 3rd January, 1749; Captain in Berwick's Regiment, 23rd January, 1771; Second Colonel in Walsh's, 1778; Mestre de Camp and Second in Berwicks, 1st Jan., 1784; Second Colonel from 21st October, 1781 to 1791; Knight of St. Louis, 19th Aug., 1781; Lieut.-General Commander of the Order of St. Louis, 23rd Aug., 1814. He died in 1819. Count Bartholomew had to give up his benefice as Knight of Malta on his marriage, but it seems to have been regranted to his son, who died in 1795.

        The above pedigree has been drawn up from one quoted in one of a series of papers on the "Conway" family by Miss Hickson, published some years ago in the "Kerry Evening Post." The lady whose ancestry it shows is said to have been a noted belle in her day, and to have been married three times. Her first husband was Cornelius McGillicuddy of Gortnascarry, by whom she had a son, and a daughter Ellen, who was great-grandmother of Howard S. Harrington, LL.B., of New York. On the death of her husband, she married secondly Kean Mahony of Valencia. There was no issue of this marriage. Thirdly she married Edward Conway, son of Thomas Conway of Cloghane, by Anne Fitzgerald, and had two sons:―Thomas, Secretary to Lord Cornwallis, who died in 1824, and James, Colonel of the 53rd Regiment―and grand-father of the late Sir Peter Halkett-Bart.



        Amongst other Mahony families, now extinct, was that of Cappanagrown in the parish of Dromod and barony of Iveragh. Our information about this family, unfortunately, does not go very far back. Kean Mahony, in his will dated 31st December, 1787, leaves his lands of Cappanagrown, Cloonaghlin Sronelacane and Coomavannihy (held by him under Denis Mahony, of Dromore), to his brother Daniel, of Emilamore. Daniel, in his will dated 29th January, 1802, speaks of his son Richard, and his daughters Joan and Honora (each of whom was to have £1,000 as a portion), and of his sister, Catherine Segerson.

        These two brothers, Kean and Daniel, were probably sons of James Mahony of Aghagada (will 1761), who therein mentions his nine sons, two of whom bore those names.

        Richard Mahony must have died about 1850. He had married, in 1810, a Miss Sullivan, by whom he had a son, Daniel ("Dan Dick"), who succeeded him, but died unmarried in 1854, aged about 34 years. Of Richard's two sisters, one married Stephen O’Reardon of Killarney and had three sons, namely John (a well-known Solicitor and Coroner), Richard (these two died unmarried), Thomas, a priest, and at least one daughter a nun, well-known as Mother Elizabeth of the Mercy Convent, Tralee, who died there in 1910, aged 93 years. The other sister married ___ Mayberry, and had a son George Mahony Mayberry, father of Dr. F. J. Mayberry, now of Kenmare, and a daughter who married David Jermyn, of Castlecove, by whom she had a son, Thomas M. Jermyn, and a daughter Norah, who married the late Thomas Hoare of Cahirciveen. Richard Mahony, and his son after him, resided at Cappanagrown in a house overlooking Derryana Lake. On the latter's death of course the family became extinct.

         We may mention that amongst the claims on confiscated estates made in 1700, was one by "Kyen Mahony, late of Cappanagrown" and then of Ballyvilla in the Barony of Maganihy, claiming a leasehold interest in the latter place. He put in a deed witnessed in 1698 by Myles Mahony.



         Another family now extinct was the above, which is referred to in the following documents:―

        Exchequer Bill:―Samuel Prosser of Callinafercy, near Castlemaigne, merchant, versus Dermod MacDaniel Mahony and his uncle, Teig Mahony, both of Valencia, tenants of the Earl of Anglesea, dated 1708, having reference to casks of Tallow bought from owner of a wrecked vessel. Also a Bill, Darby Mahony versus Sam Prosser, 1709, and another Lord Shelburne and Mahony versus Mahony.

        Bill of Discovery, A.D. 1753. Edward Shank of the City of Dublin, merchant, declares that a Bill preparing to be filed in his name as a Protestant Diacoverer, against Kean Mahony of Doory, Barony of Iveragh, in the Court of Exchequer, for recovering, under the statutes to prevent the growth of Papacy, all assignment from the said Kean Mahony of a lease of the lands of Dirreen and Kilemlagh, dated 27th May, 1647, by Teige Mahony of Ballyherna in Valencia, to Donogh MacTeig Mahony, Owen Mahony, and Dermod Mac Conogher Mahony, is for the sole use and benefit of the Right Hon. John Petty Viscount Fitzmaurice.

         The only clear information we possess about this family is to be found in the will of Daniel Mahony of Valencia, dated 12th May, 1791, in which he left money to his son, Darby, his daughter Elizabeth, and any posthumous child to be borne by his wife. From other sources we know that his wife was Anne, dau. of Timothy McCarthy of Liss, by Elizabeth, dau. of Daniel O'Connell of Darrynane. Her son, Darby or Jeremiah, died s.p. in 1834, and her daughter, Elizabeth, died in 1865. After her husband's death she married secondly her cousin Charles McCarthy ("na Baillagh") by whom she had two sons, John and Eugene, and two daughters, Anne and Evelina, who both died unmarried. The latter, who by reason of her long residence on the Continent was known as "Madame" MacCarthy, died in 1902, aged 93 years, in the Presentation Convent) Cahirciveen.

         [NOTE:―We should have mentioned, while on the subject of Count Daniel O'Mahony's descent, that, according to the late Canon O'Mahony, he was descended from DonaI, a brother of Teig Mergeach, the head of the branch in the 16th century. The Canon gives as his authority, a pedigree in the Herald's Office, made out in 1712 for John (son of Colonel Dermod), a captain in the army of the Low Countries.

         We may mention that the pedigrees of Counts Daniel and Bartholomew O'Mahony above given, were copied from a book of pedigrees belonging to Dromore Castle. As regards the historical matter we must acknowledge having drawn largely from Canon O’Mahony’s History of the O’Mahony Septs, O’Callaghan’s History of the Irish Brigade, and Mrs. M.J. O’Connell’s Last Colonel of the Irish Brigade.

         We shall be only too glad if others, more fully informed on the subject, will point out any errors or omissions in this sketch, and supply further information.]



Kerry Archaeological Magazine, #21, 1919, pp. 67-68.

        In our sketch of the Mahonys of Dromore and Dunloe, published in No. 20 or this Magazine, we mentioned (following the statements, to that effect, made positively by Canon O'Mahony, and impliedly Sir Ross O'Connell), that Daniel of Dunloe was the eldest son, and Denis of Dromore the second son of John Mahony of Dunloe, who died in 1706. Recently, however, on perusing the record of a Bill of Discovery, filed on the 23rd September, 1738, by John Phepoe of Dublin, versus Daniel McCarthy and Daniel Mahony, we find that the plaintiff states distinctly that Donogh (or Denis) was the eldest son. It would be scarcely possible to doubt the accuracy or this assertion, made in the lifetime of the parties, even if one or the defendants (Daniel Mahony himself) did not confirm it in his answer, as he has done.

         Moreover, on reading the two separate notices of the Dromore and Dunloe familiels in the edition or Burke's Landed Gentry for 1875, we find that, while there is nothing said on this point in the former, it is impliedly stated in the latter (by his name being mentioned first) that Denis was the eldest son of John Mahony.


Vol. IV., page 231.

        The three younger sisters of Ellen Mahony of Upper CuIlinagh, who married James MacCarthy-Garaloch (namely, Elizabeth, a nun; Johanna, who married Maurice Brennan, and Honoria, who died unmd.), who are entered as such in their proper place, are also entered as daughters of hers. This is a typographical error which should be noted. Mrs. James McCarthy nee Mahony, so far as we know. had only two daughters (at least who survived), namely, Mary and Ellen.

Vol. IV., pages 234 and 240.

        The Thomas Moriarty who married Miss Fitzpatrick, and his sister Maria, who married John Dennehy, were children of Patrick Moriarty, M.D., Killarney, not, as erroneously stated, by Elizabeth M. Mahony, his second wife, but by his first wife.



12. It happened on that morning that Mahony had not been called in time, and was awakened by the trampling of horses, on hearing which he sprang up, gave the alarm, and got his men up in a hurry. They ran out with only their shirts and small clothes, muskets and cartouche boxes, and in this costume they fought, fasting for several hours.