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Survey of the McInerney Sept of Thomond by Luke McInerney, M.A.
McInerneys of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

McInerneys can be found in few other references for the sixteenth century. The 1574 list of “gentlemen and their castles in Thomond” record a “MacEneryheny of Ballenecraige[89] possessing a tower-house that in later times was held by the Earl of Thomond and the McNamaras.[90] The 1570 list of castles conspicuously leaves the entry for Ballynacragga blank, but does record a “Conogher Oge MacClancy, a Brehon” as being the occupier of Ballysallagh Castle.[91] It is obvious from the castle list and the references in the Fiants that the leading McInerneys were regarded as “gent”, indicating their social status equivalent to a leading family at the parish level who held their lands under freehold, including a tower-house that would have served as the principal residence of the leading household of the sept. The social standing of the deirbhfhine freemen of the family would have been, in English eyes, ‘captains’, whose real wealth was measured by the numbers of farmers and ‘churls’ they commanded to work their estates.[92] This was especially the case when measuring the wealth of the chief of the sept whose office included access to demesne land that were free from extractions and worked by unfree tenants, the produce of which directly supported the chief’s household.

Despite the upheavals in land ownership at the end of the sixteenth century, the McInerneys still retained their position and were sometimes cited as jurors at Inquisitions Post Mortem and witnesses at mortgages. The Inchiquin Papers allow us to gather what their relationship was like with other members of the Thomond gentry. One prominent McInerney of the early 1600s was James McInerney. It is unknown where he fits into the family pedigree but it appears that his son, James Óg, held property in and around Ballysallagh in 1641.[93] James must have been part of the winning faction of the deirbhfhine and his residence seems to have been at “Killathnasullagh” in 1611 and at “Ballycraggyne” in 1612.[94] Interestingly, in the 1603 will of Connor mac Donogh O’Brien of Leanmaneh (grandson of Murrough the Tánaiste) there is a reference to “£13 of which £3 was of ‘the newe standard’ to John McEnerhyny ‘prist’ and James his son, for which they have a quarter of Dromolin [Dromoland] in mortgage”.[95] According to the 1612 Inquisitions Post Mortem into the property of Connor mac Donogh O’Brien, the McInerneys were still based at Dromoland and “James McEnerhine” was granted 4 acres in “Rathmaolane” sometime before 1603.[96] Whatever James’ position within the family it must have been important as he was recorded in other land transactions for the years 1601[97], 1611[98], 1626[99] and also in 1635 when he acted as an arbitrator on behalf of the Earl of Thomond in the case of unlawful mortgage of lands by Loughlin McCloon of Ballymacloon.[100]

By the 1630s leading members of the sept had business dealings with the English and Dutch settlers of the Earl of Thomond’s estates. In 1637 James McInerney had dealings with Peter Ware, an English settler at Ing in Kilmaleery parish. The Court of Chancery Bill Books record James’ involvement with Peter Ware and also his dealing with Teige McNamara and Owen O’Cahan in the same year. James is recorded in a dealing with Simon and John Fanning in 1635 and Loughlin McInerney, who was to play a part in the 1641 rebellion, was first recorded in the Bill Books in 1637 in a dealing with Richard Tan.[101] These dealings show the growing usage of legal redress among landed McInerney freeholders during this period.

It would appear that even the clann land of Ballysallagh East was mortgaged for £600 to one of these ‘new English’ – Giles Bowdens – in April 1635. Giles Bowdens conveyed his interest in the lands to Dutchman James Martin in May 1637.[102] It appears that James Martin lent Mahone and John McInerney (probably both sons of Mathgamain mac Sean) £330 and that their mensal land of Ballykilty and its two mills were put up as collateral.[103] As Mahon and John are referred to as of ‘Ballykilty’ this would suggest that their principal abode was there and that they had interests in East and West Ballysallagh and also held ploughlands further afield in the Islands barony. In these transactions the McInerneys are referred to as ‘gents’ and as having ‘feoffees’.[104] Previous land dealings are in evidence between Edmond McInerney and James Martin, between Dermot O’Brien and Mahone McInerney, and between John McInerney and the ‘yeoman’ Mahone MacShane ne Corkie in 1624.[105] Due to the 1641 rebellion the McInerneys, O’Briens, McNamaras and Clancys held onto the mortgaged lands on behalf of James Martin and presumably their financial deals were put on hold. Financial troubles and the threat of displacement may have been the reason why Dermot O’Brien, Murtagh Clancy, Donogh McNamara and Mahon McInerney were in rebellion in 1641-1642.[106] Also in rebellion was “Loughlen MacInerenye”[107] of Templemaley parish who sent a letter to the besieged Maurice Cuffe of Ballyally Castle demanding him to deliver the castle to the rebels.[108] Loughlen claimed to be acting on behalf of the Earl of Thomond.

The Book of Survey and Distribution 1641-1703 lists the McInerneys’ land as comprising 1,425 profitable and 44 unprofitable Irish acres.[109] This included an interest in Kilnasoolagh amounting to 514 acres, most of which was in Ballysallagh and Carrigoran. Ballysallagh was home to a leading faction of the sept, with the townland divided between Mahone, James Óg, Edmond, Cow[v]erra and Connor mac Mahone.[110] McInerney freeholders occupied lesser lands, including Daniel mac Mahone and Teige Down at Lisconor[111], and Edmond and James Óg holding other lands in the vicinity.[112] Aside from the Ballysallagh McInerneys, Caherteige in Clonloghan parish came to be the refuge of the losing faction of the 1560s and 1570s land dispute. Caherteige was occupied by Donough and Murtagh, the son’s of Donough who appeared before the 1606 Inquisition Post Mortem. Ballykilty and its 358 acres was occupied by John McInerney who took possession on the death of his father in 1617 and he held it as an exclusive McInerney possession.

Another McInerney whose exploits have come down to us is Loughlin McInerney who had his abode at Derry and occupied lands in Templemaley parish at the time of the siege of Ballyally castle.[113] Loughlin must have been a freeholder of importance as he is mentioned in the 1642 Protestant Depositions of Latoon (near Ballykilty) as taking part in attacks on English settlers. In this reference he is described as being of Ballykilty, suggesting that he was a relation of John McInerney of Ballykilty and connected to the senior branch of the clann. Loughlin features in several official documents and rental agreements during the 1640s-1670s and it would appear that he had some connection to Murrough O’Brien, Earl of Inchiquin as he appeared as a witness to a bond agreement between Murrough O’Brien and Terlagh Og Mac Mahon of Clenagh in 1644.[114] Loughlen was also recorded as the Seneschal of Inchiquin’s Manor Court at Corofin in 1670.[115] Interestingly, Loughlin, along with Edmond Dexter, petitioned the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Duke Ormond, for confirmation of their posts as “ some time clerks to the Crown and Peace for the County of Clare” in February 1650.[116] This last reference may have been why Loughlin was allocated a large estate of 324 acres in Dysert parish in the transplantation of 1654-58.[117] Loughlen managed to hold onto lands in Templemaley and Ruan parishes as a Loughlen McInerheny is recorded as a tenant of the Earl of Inchiquin there in 1699, though this was probably his son. Richard Cronnelly regarded Loughlin as a principal leader of the family in the 1640s and cites a Loughlin McInerney, “chief of his name”, holding lands at Rathcathain and Cluonanahy under the Earl of Inchquin in 1724. These references may be an accurate reflection of historical fact and seem to verify Loughlin (and possibly his son’s) position as sept leader.[118]

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