In 1168-1169, William Barrett of Carew, Pembrokeshire and his four sons joined Richard “Strongbow” Fitzgilbert dc Claire. After initially landing in Ireland in 1169-1170, the Barretts fought under more prominent men (De Cogan, Strongbow) and were successful in battle. Strongbow was given Lordship of Leinster by King Henry in 1171, after the king of Leinster died and strongbow married his daughter Aofe. Much of what is now County Cork was given to Milo de Cogan, who was Strongbow’s right hand man in the invasion of Leinster.
In the beginning of the 13th century, the local Irish King of Connaught was named Taithleach Mauidhe. He became very upset with the invading Normans from Wales and England, specifically with William ‘Na Mor’ Barrett (very likely the son of the invading William Barrett of Carew, Wales). In 1236, Richard Mòr de Burgo asked for the help of Maurice Fitzgerald to help conquer the local clans in Connaught. Fitzgerald brought an expeditionary force to Connaught, which included Hugh De Lacy, Walter de Ridelesfort, John Cogan, The Birminghams, the Pendergasts, the Fitzgriffins and the Botillers. Also mentioned in the force are the names Staunton, Roche, de Barry, Cusack, Fleming, de Exeter and Barrett. The group first plundered Roscommon and Sligo, then turned southward to meet the Irish forces. These clans were easily defeated. The local clans of O’Connors, O’Flaghertys, O’Brians and the O’Heynes made a last minute alliance to fight the Normans, but after the battle at Silgo, the O’Flahertys and the O’Heynes changed to the Norman side. The group the turned northward again and took Westport via Tuam and Ballinrobe, where they broke up a local tribal clan rally. Felim O’Connor , the leader of the local Irish clans, was captured and brought to Boyle. When this happened, the local clans were crushed and conceded to the Norman invading families. Throughout the invasion, the Normans left the countryside wasted. It was written that “Connaught was without food and clothing in church or territory, without peace, or quiet, or prosperity.” Parishes suffered from war and famine and all of this was accompanied by a season of great rain and bad weather. Richard Mor de Burgo (De Burge) built a castle in Loughrie and then left for England. This allowed for the distribution of Connaught among the Norman invaders. Richard de Burge became overlord of Connaught . The divisions of he lands were:
Richard de Burge: acquired the lands of Loughrea, Leitrim, and Longford
Hugh de lacy: acquired 5 cantred in Mayo
Maurice Fitzgerald: the western half of Conmhaicne Cuile and the baronies of Ross and Silgo. He later purchased two baronies from de Lacy and the eastern half of Conmhaicne Cuile from Roche.
Walter de Ridelesfort: Admekin and Corofin
John de Cogan: South Claregalway
Pendergast: Claremorris and the eastern half of Conmhaicne Cuile, which he sold to Roche, who then sold to Fitzgerald.
O’Kellys: 4 cantreds
The rest of Connaught was divided between Joedan, Nangle, Dillon, Roche, Petit, Carew and BARRETT.
This is the beginning of the Barrett clan in northwestern ireland.
It was recorded that a Barrett was given Bredagh by Robert de Cardew down in Southern Ireland around this time. It was discovered that the Barretts were the principal colonist family in Mayo, followed by the Cusacks. William de Berg also granted the lands of Tirawley to the Cusack Family, which lead to a dispute over Tirawley by the Barretts and Cusacks in 1282. This was known as the Battle of Kilroe. This incident can be read about at http://www.mayo-ireland.ie/Mayo/Towns/Killala/battle-kilroe.htm. This can also be read about in “The Early History of the County of Mayo” by Hubert Thomas Knox. The invading Welshmen were led by William More Barrett, who had conquered another batch of invading families including the Cusacks, Browns and Moores who had built a fortified castle on their occupied territory at Meelick, near Killala. William More Barrett, who gave it to his kinsman Mac Wattin, speedily took this stronghold. The frustrated Cusack sought the aid of local clans and made an alliance with Tahilly O’Dowd ( a.k.a. Taithleach Mauidhe, the local clan king)out for revenge upon Barrett for the loss of Tirawley. The opposing forces were drawn up at Moyne, where local lore still identifies the pillar stones which marked their respective positions. According to folklore, the two parties were lined up and the leaders met in the middle for a parlay. During the parlay, an arrow was fired by one of the servants, which in turn began the battle. During the battle, Tahilly O’Dowd and his friend Tahilly O’Boyle were foremost in bravery and daring, and Cusack and his Irish auxiliaries carried the day. William More Barrett and one of his henchmen, Adam Fleming, were among the fallen and their supporters fled in despair. Many of them sought sanctuary in the nearby Church of Kilroe, but they were pursued by the vengeful victors, surrounded and butchered unmercifully. William Barrett and Adam Fleming were arrested and thrown into Cusack’s dungeon, where they later died. The following year, O’Dowd was murdered by Cusack, who himself died 5 years later leaving Tirawley back in the possession of the remaining Barretts in 1287. The Barretts were also heard from in the famous dispute in the “Welshmen of Tirawley”. In this dispute,the Barrett family had a steward that went to collect Taxes from the Lynott family. The steward was rumored to have “taken a maid” and the Lynott family killed him and dumped his body in a well near Carncastle. The Barrett family was enraged and gave the Lynott men the choice of loosing their eyes or their manhood. The Lynotts chose their eyes and the Barretts removed them. The Barretts then tested their blindness by making them cross over stepstones at Cloghan an Dallas” The Lynotts then planned revenge for 15 years and trained up a young man (Teoboid Mael Bourke) as their foster son to kill the Barretts. The young man made his stand at the stream of Carnasack, but was killed by the Barretts in the process. The Barretts gave the the true parents (The Bourkes) eighteen quarters of land as recompense. The Barretts, Lynotts and the Bourkes were the main families that settled in the Doolough area of County Mayo in that time. In 1380, the Barrett family had gained control over the area of Erris, which is located in Mayo .
In 1584, much of what is now the county Mayo was split into baronies that were run by Barons. Sir Edmond Barrett was awarded the Baroney of Erris (or Irrus) . Sir Edmond Barrett was knighted by Queen Victoria 1 for his services to the British crown. Later in 1585, Sir Edmund Barrett was recorded as the Barron of Irrus, and was residing in a castle in Doolough. This castle, known as Glencastle, was of own as “The Gates of Erris”. In 1593, Edmond Barrett requested a commission to look into the ownership of Erris. In 1594, he was awarded all of Erris, including Ballycroy and Balleymunnelly. Edmond Barrett was trying to take control of the land in Erris that was recently lost by the macWilliam Bourkes, while still retaining his lands that he obtained in the 1584 Baron Patent. To obtain these new lands, he had to surrender Erris and Tirawley, only to have the given back in a grant. Ov March 9, 1594, the lands were given to Edmond Barrett in C’loonagashel. These granted lands included Inver, Tiraun, Leam, Corraghrie, Toescart, Inishkea, Ballencarn, Ballenglancoe, Dookeeghaun, Balleycroy, Balleymunnelly, Dowkreghan, Doohooma, the half quarter of Carowleccan, Kilbride, and Rathlacan, which was part of the barony of Tirawley.
To the English, Erris was known as “Arrus Dundohmnaill”. The castle stood as a fort between the area of Erris and the rest of Ireland.
Edmond Barrett at one time fought for England in Europe and was wounded during his service. Upon his return to health and to Ireland, the King awarded all of his current lands along with a few new pieces of land in an official Patient. On March 10, 1605, the Irish Patient Rolls of King James I,record: “To EDMOND BARRETT, esq., commonly called baron of Irrus, was granted, on 10th March, in third year, pursuant to privy seal, no. 69, pa. 208; The entire country, territory, or barony of Irrus; the castle, manor or town of Imver; the towns and castles of Lean and Curraghrie; the town of Toeskart; the island of Iniskea; the towns of Ballincarne, Ballinglanchoe, Dukighan and Balliconnell; the castle and town of Doukrighan; the town of Doughoma, within the barony of Irrus—the half quarter of Corrowlaccan; the town and castle of Kilbride; and the town of Rathlaccan, in the barony of Tireawley, in co. Mayo; with all manors, lordships, castles, messuages, lands, tenements, as in no. 14, pa. 125; which premises were the lawful aud ancient inheritance of the said Edmond Barrett, and his ancestors, as appeareth by inquisition taken at Clanecashell, in co. Mayo, 19th March 1593—to hold to him and his assigns, for life; with remainder, in tail male, to his three sons, William, Richard and Edmund, and their respective heirs male; remainder to the heirs male of his own body ; remainder to Peter, son of Eremon Barrett, of Dowlagh, and his heirs male; remainder to Mathew Barrett, of Dowlagh, and his heirs male; remainder to the crown; to be held, by the 40th part of a knight’s fee, at a rent of 40*. irish; with liberty to hold a weekly Saturday market, at the village of Dowlagh, in co. Maio; with courts of pie-powder, and all tolls, profits and emoluments, at an annual rent of 5*. ster.—and this grant to be valid in law, notwithstanding, inter alia, the statute of 18th Hen. yi., as referred to in no. 91, pa. 66.” Excerpt From: Ireland. Chancery, John Caillard Erck. “ Excerpt From: Ireland. Chancery, John Caillard Erck. “A repertory of the inrolments on the patent rolls of Chancery in Ireland …” d: Edmund Barrett receiving the town and castle of Kilbride and the town of Rathlaccan in the Barrony of Trelawney. At this time, Edmund Barrett was known at the “Barron of Irrus (or Erris). In the 19th and early 20th century, the castle was destroyed and the stones were used for building roads throughout the area. Only three large mounds stand where the once great castle stood.
The Way That I Went by Robert Lloyd Praeger (1937), Erris is described as “the wildest, loneliest stretch of land to be found in Ireland” where “your feet never leave the heather, save that twice you cross a road, fenceless, like a narrow white ribbon in a vast brown bog.”
but after the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Cromwellian redistribution and the Restoration, much of the barony passed to Sir Robert Viner. Viner was a wealthy London goldsmith who was owed money by King Charles II. The Barretts of northwest Ireland had their concentration in County Mayo, however the Barretts in the south concentrated in County Cork. The Barretts of Cork had their main holdings originally around Glandore, with a secondary estate at Grenagh north of Blarney. After the invasion of Ireland, Milo De Cogan was given a large portion of Co Cork, Ireland. De Cogan in turn gave the Barrett’s that served under him a large portion of land. From the late 12th century to the mid 15th century, the Barretts served under the De Cogans. CastleMore, was built around 1235 by the Knights Templar to protect Mourne Abbey. The De Cogan family later purchased the property after being given permission from the King to hold a weekly market at the property. After losing wealth and power, the De Cogan family sold CastleMore and it was eventually purchased by the Barrett family in the early 1600’s. The castle was damaged by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in 1645 and was later taken over in 1690. John Barrett lost 12,000 acres to the invading forces and “Castle Barrett (previously CastleMore)” was destroyed. Here are the remains of what was once the center of a 12,000 acre empire run commanded by the Barrett Family.
Before Castle Barrett however, the Barretts worked hard to spread their Influence throughout Cork. The Gaelic Resurgence drove them from their west Cork lands in the early 1300s, and they appear to have settled mostly at Grenagh. Here they began to concentrate their numbers and influence to spread throughout Cork again. In 1317, William Barrett, in consequence with his father Robert working with the king’s armies against “the king’s enemies” was granted two parts of the local land “Grenagh”, and the castle on that land. Around 1360, the Barrett’s overlords (The Cogans) were at war with a local Irish clan called the McCarthy’s and their followers. The Barretts for some reason unknown chose to support the local families instead of their fellow Norman Invading families. The Cogans had support from the English Crown and in 1363 they re-conquered much of the remaining area of Cork. After these lands were vacated by the Macarthy’s and other local families, the Barretts took this opportunity and prevented the Cogans and occupied the lands themselves or rented them out to some of the lesser known Macarthy supporters. The Barrett chief (Richard Oge) then married Peter de Cogan’s daughter. This allowed the Barretts to seize Carrigrohane castle as their headquarters. This castle remained the Barrett headquarters from approximately 1370 to 1436, when the castle was sold to the Fitzgerald Earl of Desmond. Carrigrohane Castle has fallen into ruin, but this sketch shows how it appeared around 1800.
The Barretts were also the builders of Ballincollig Castle during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) and was the chief castle in the Barrony of Barretts. From what records show, this SEEMS to be the most notable Barrett stronghold in Cork during the early 1400’s until the purchase of Castle Barrett in the early 1600’s. Ballincollig was also damaged in 1641 by invading forces. You can still see the ruins today, as are pictured below.
After Coloniel John Barrett raised an army of Infantry for King James’ army in Ireland, his clan suffered genocide by the hands of the Williamite army in the late 1600’s. Many Barretts went into hiding in Ireland for a short time, some went back to England, and many chose to immigrate to America in the early 1700’s during the Great Irish Migration. The Cork Barrett’s heraldic Arms were recorded as “a Barry of ten per pale argent and gules counterchanged” which means a shield split in half with ten rows of alternate red and white. The crest that is recorded for Irish Barretts in general is “a Demi-lion rampant sable ducally crowned per pale argent and gules”. The crest is positioned on the top of a helmet, however for heraldry, it is positioned at the top of the shield. It looks like what is pictured below (However the lion should have a red and white crown. This was the closest that I could find.)
A Castle Barrett, the same arms were used, however a different crest was applied. It was know as “A human heart or. Between two wings conjoined Sa. Semee of Etoiles or.” This means a golden human heart between two black joined wings with golden stars”. This black and white drawing comes from Fairburns book of crests.
After the the castle was destroyed in 1690 and the families went their separate ways, the crest was still found in other areas. This shows the survival of the original Castle Barrett family. John Barrett was the mayor of Bolton England in the late 1800’s. His link in the Mayor’s Chain of Office shows the crest of Castle Barrett with his initials and his personal motto. It is pictured below.
I have been unable to establish a solid link from Irish Barretts to American families as of yet, but with time and technology I believe it will happen.