A great change was brought about in the Irish scene in the 12th century, when Dermot MacMurrough King of Leinster, following a quarrel with some Irish chiefs crossed over to South Wales and solicited aid from the Anglo Normans then settled in England. In 1169-1170 bands of Norman knights led by Strongbow poured into Wexford and Waterford and soon gained a footing there. It was not until 1177 that their Norman descendants descended on a Cork clan. They captured Cork Harbour. One of these, Robert Fitzstephen received the conquered territory from Cork to Youghal. The new comers did not get much peace because Dermot McCarthy, the King of Desmond or South Munster continually harassed them and he was ably supported by the men of east Cork, led by their chieftain Mac Tire, chief of Imokilly. A major disaster came in 1182 – Milo de Cogan, along with Fitzstephen’s son, Raduff, and a number of Norman knights were on their way from Cork to Lismore, when they were set upon by Mac Tire and wiped out. Robert Fitzstephen sent to Wales for immediate help. In 1183 another band of Knights under Philip de Barra, Castlelyons was given to Dee Barra and here at Carrigtwohill on the passage to Great Island and on the main highway between Cork and Youghal, Philip built his chief Castle which we now call Barryscourt.
This Philip de Barra was accompanied to Ireland in 1183 by his brother Gearld the Welshman – Archdeacon of St. David’s in South Wales who was a famous writer and historian. He wrote a book at the time of the Norman attack in Ireland called “ The Assault of Ireland “. It was thought that he wrote the description of Ireland while staying at Barryscourt Castle. He describes in detail the people he saw around him and their ways. The people, he says “were handsome in form and face. The men were occupied in tending their artificial care or comfort administeded to them. Their clothes were generally of woollen cloth made in a coarse manner. They consisted of a small cloak or hood thrown over their shoulders and back and reaching their elbows. They often sewed material of different colour to them. Under this they wore a coarse woollen coat or frock and below, breeches and hose all in one. They rode on horse back without saddle, stirrups or spurs with a bridle of simple make. They carried a stick bent at one end”.
Philip de Barra, the founder of Barryscourt Castle died in 1199.
The early parishes were much smaller than the present divisions. The present parish includes three of the earlier parishes. A list of parish churches made out in 1291 mentions:
1. The Church of Carrigtwohill, the remains of which with its strong square tower can be seen north of the village (in the old graveyard)
2. There was also the Church of Kilcurfin, popularly known as Templecurraheen, north-west of Carrigtwohill.
3. While on the south east of Ballyannon was the Church of Mogesha an old parish which extended from Ballyannon westwards to Rossmore an included all the southern part of the present parish – no traces of these remain. It was on this site Lord Midleton built his Castle – now in runis.
4. Traces of an old Church also at Killacloyne (Lackabeha) at Ballyregan, Ballyvodock, there are traces of early Irish Church sites.
5. Ruins of a small Chapel in Barryscourt Castle.
These churches with their property an titles were taken out of the hands of the Catholic clergy by the King an the English government and granted to newly arrived English settlers who were to appoint Pretestant Clergymen to officiate. But as in the early days of the Reformation there were no Protestant congregations, the smaller churches, like those at Templecurraheen and Ballyannon fell into runi and disappeared. The main Carrigtwohill Church was however kept in repair and served as a place of Protestant Worship down to modern times.
When the Parish Churches were seized and Catholic clergy outlawed, those preists who managed to live in the country usually found refuge in the castles and houses of the lords and gentlemen both Irish and Anglo Irish. Hence the only clergy we can trace in the parish at this period lived under the protection of Lord Barry at Barryscourt. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth there was a great insurrection in Munster. The policy of the Queen and her government was to implant the new Protestant religion in Ireland, also to root out all the Catholic landholders both Irish and Anglo Irish and plant in their lands settlers from England like Sir Walter Raleigh, Edmund Spencer and Shane Beecher. When the Munster Catholic Lords family in south Munster, the Gearldines or Fitzgearlds, formed the Gearldine League. James Fitzmaurice, a leading Gearldine, along with his son-in-law, Lord Barry did not give full support to this league at the beginning, but in 1579 when Lord James Barry of Barryscourt was seized and imprisioned in Dublin Castle his son David Barry thre himself into the cause. His father, then an old man died in 1581.
Captain Walter Raleigh wqs in command of the Queens forces in Cork. He got reinforcements from Dublin and was promised possession of Barryscourt Castle and estates when he would capture them. But David Barry found out his intentions and in April 1582, he sat the Castle on fire and fled with his men to the woods where he was joined by John Fitzedmund of Castlemartyr. When Raleigh advanced to take the castle “he was forced to fly to Cork with sword in hand”.
However, in the following year, the Earl of Desmond and other leading members of the Fitzgearld family were slain, one after another and the Gearldine Rebellion eventually collapsed. Lord David Barry, in the meantime had turned over to the Queens Side and on the collapse of the insurrection had his castle and lands restored to him. He repaired Barryscourt in 1588.
Some time later Hugh O’ Neill rebelled in the north; he swept the English out of Ulster having defeated them at The Yellow Ford. Following his success he marched south in February 1599 determined to persuade the southern lords and chieftains to support him. Most of the Irish chiefs of west Munster rallied to his support but although O’ Neill sent a letter to Barryscourt asking Lord Barry to meet him at the camp of Glanmire, Barry refused to come. Although he remained Catholic until his death in 1617, he was determined to adhere to the government side. When Lord Barry did not come to O’ Neill’s camp, O’ Neill marched his army to Woodstock where he camped for some days from February 26th 1599.
He and his chaplain, Rev. Fr. Archer, sent in a final appeal from Woodstock. But when Barry refused to come out and meet them they burned and spoiled his territory from Carrigtwohill to Castlelyons. Practically all the farmhouses in Carrigtwohill from Ballinbrittig to Ballyvodock were destroyed in this raid, according to a list made out by Lord Barry. As Already stated Lord Barry still continued to shelter the Catholic clergy. In 1582, at the collapse of the Gealrdine Rebellion we find amongst Lord Barry’s following at Barryscourt, James Prendergast, priest, and Maurice Draddy, priest. In a list of clergy in Co. Cork, made out in 1600, we find, Edmund Loughlin, priest, placed at Barryscourt. In 1613, John McDavid Coraorke, Dominican friar was chaplain to Lord Barry at Barryscourt.
David Barry died at Barryscourt in 1617. his grandson, who was his successor was then a youth and was taken to England by the Court of Wards and brought up in the Protestand religion. He mortgaged Barryscourt to his father-in-law Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, and with the money, built Castlelyons Castle as his residence.
Just as the Barrymores left Carrigtwohill it acquired another family, some members of which were to rise to fame. In 1638, Edmund Cotter of Ballyvaloom, near Cobh (head of the old Danish family) acquired Ballinsperry Home – now called Anngrove. He had a son, then a young man, named James Cotter. The Cotters, like the other like the Irish and Anglo Irish Catholic families were supporters of the Stuart Kings, who were favourable towards the Catholics. The Parliament, led by Cromwell had overthrown the Monarchy in England and in 1549 had executed King Charles I at Whitehall. However, after some years, the Cromwellian cause waned and when Cromwell died in 1658 (8 years after he had crushed Ireland) the Monarchy was restored and the dead King’s son – Charles II came to the throne.
Those who took a leading part in the execution of Charles I were outlawed, 13 of them were executed but quite a few of them had fled to Switzerland. There was Col. John Lisle, who had drawn up the warrant for the King’s execution and General Ludlow who signed it. They set up, what would now be called a Government in exile in Berne, in Switzerland, hoping for an opportunity to again overthrow the government in England. It is at this point that the young J. Cotter of Annegrove first comes to prominence and with other Catholic gentlemen (including Patrick Sarsfield) – he was a trooper in the King’s guards inn London, King Charles II outlawed the exiles in Switzerland and giving them 40 days to come to trial, or they would be taken dead or alive. When they did not return, he commissioned James Crowley of Enniskeane and John Riorden of Muskerry, men whose land had been confiscated by Cromwell. They proceeded to Switzerland and discovered that Col. John Lisle had gone to Lousanne, near the French border. They surrounded Lisle and James Cotter, the leader of that expedition rose to fame. Recent research shows that it was Crowley that actually killed him. The other Cromwellian leader, General Ludlow was never captured. On his return to England, Captain James Cotter got a large annual pension and was appointed Governor of the Loeward Islands in the West Indies. The widow of the executed King also gave him the King’s bed along with his bridle and saddle. This bed was brought to Annegrove but was later destroyed in an accidental fire. Captain James Cotter later fought with James II in the leading English battles of the time and was knighted, thus becoming Sir James Cotter.
Sir James returned to Ireland and settled down at Annegrove about 1685. when the Catholic King James II landed in Kinsale in March 1689, he came to Annegrove and stayed there for some nights with Sir James Cotter, being on his way to Lismore and Dublin. Sir James was a t that time Commander of the Royal Forces in the southern counties on Munster. It is recorded that he dealt most fairly with friend or foe alike and when the defeat at Limerick came he was allowed to settle in peace at his home in Ballinsperry. In 1688 he had married Ellen Plunkett who had been martyred at Tyburn some years earlier. A son, James Cotter, the younger, was born in the following year 1689. when Sir James Cotter settled down at Annegrove after his adventurous career he characteristically showed his independence of spirit by affording protection to the Catholic clergy. Ascending to an Irish life of Sir James written at that time churchmen from Munster and from other provinces, daily visited Dr. Slayne and general assemblies were frequently held in Annegrove House. It is also recorded that Dr. Slayne ordained priests at Carrigtwohill, Cork and Blarney but he was later captured and sxiled to Lisburn. Sir James Cotter died in 1705 – his tomb is to be seen in the local old cemetery.
He was succeeded by his son the younger James Cotter who, like his father, was a great favourite with the people at large, and showed the same independence of spirit. He had many powerful enemies in the south and east of the parish at Ballyannon Castle. The Brodericks who had received extensive lands at the Cromwellian confiscations, had grown to great power.
Sir Alan Broderick, 1st Lord of Midleton was an able lawyer, was for some time speaker in the Irish House of Commons and in 1720 his son Judge in Cork. The enemies of young Cotter contrived to frame some charges against him. He was hanged in Cork in May 1720 and buried in Carrigtwohill.
Yet another old Danish family settled about this time in Carrigtwohill – the family of Coppinger. From early times their chief residence had been at Ballyvolane. They held land at Killacloyne from an early period.
Thomas Coppinger supported the cause of the Catholic King James II, was attained after a battle of the Boyne and the defeat at Limerick and fled to France with his sons. However, his sons, Stephen and John returned to Ireland about 1700 and built the old Coppinger mansion (three chimney house) while Stephen succeeded in getting a lease of Barryscourt and Rossmore from Lord Barrymore.
He built a mansion in Barryscourt in 1716, immediately on the south side of the castle, the remains of which have only recently been demolished. Here, during the Penal days they harboured the hunted priests and friars. Down to recent times while the Coppingers and their representatives held these lands, they had in their possession a chalice, a crucifix, missal and vestments which were used in the Penal times at Barryscourt. The chalice was of silver and bore the date 1702.
The most notable member of the Coppinger family was Elizabeth Coppinger of Barryscourt who in 1760 in defiance of the Penal Laws joined with Nano Nagle and five other Cork ladies in founding a Convent of the Ursuline order in Cork.
Before we leave the period of the Penal Law, we must mention another very interesting figure, David Gleeson of Ballyvodock. During the Penal times every effort was made to depress Irish Industry and trade with countries outside England was forbidden. This led to the rise of professional smuggling along the southern seaboard. Such items as wool and whiskey were smuggled across to France, and wines, tea and tobacco were smuggled in all along the little coves and harbours of the southern coast. Local tradition tells that Ahanesk was one of the centres of this flourishing trade. But these little sailing vessels which braved the sea often performed a more important service. Under the Penal Laws only the older clergy were allowed to remain in the country, no seminaries for training young clerical students were allowed, with the result that students for the priesthood had to be smuggled across the sea to France, Spain and Rome to study and to be ordained, later to return in the same secret way to their homeland. In 1749 one of these priests, Fr. Liam English, an Augustinian Father, who had been ordained at Rome, returned to Ireland. He was a Gaelic poet and in the following year he wrote an elegy dedicated to David Gleeson who, in that year, 1750 had been buried at Carrigtwohill Churchyard. David Gleeson had been one of the boatmen who had partaken in the work of smuggling students and clergy to and fro, between Ireland and the Continent. He is described in the poem as “the fearless sailor and friend of the clergy”.
The Gleesons belonged to Ballyvodock as we know from their tombstone in Carrigtwohill (old churchyard). Of the many brave seamen who thus served the church so well in those dangerous times, the name of David Gleeson of Carrigtwohill alone remains, and it is fitting that we should remember him and cherish his memory now. There is no memorial to this man but there is an inscription to a later David Gleeson who may have been a descendant or relative. “Erected in memory of David Gleeson of Ballyvodock by his afflicted children, who died Oct.23rd 1837, aged 50years….”