Lankford Books

O Driscolls: Past and Present

The O Driscolls have, for over 1,500 years, been anchored in the ancient district of Corcu Lóegde, now known as Carbery, in West Cork, Ireland. They can boast of their connection to the early Christian pilgrim, Saint Ciarán, born in Cape Clear island, who became patron saint, not alone of Ossory, but also of Cornwall.

From the twelfth century, O Driscolls were confined to an area consisting of poor land with a long and dangerous coastline, from Castlehaven to Baltimore and the islands of Sherkin, Heir and Cape Clear. Here, from their many castles, they established themselves as great mariners, engaging in piracy, feuds, warfare and controlling some of the richest fishing grounds in Europe. The seventeenth century Fínghin Ó Driscoll, Fineen the Rover, although famous in song and story, set in train a series of events and land deals which were to reduce the O Driscolls to poverty and cause their leaders and many of their descendants to emigrate to England, Canada, America and Australia, where they made a name for themselves in military, ecclesiastical and other affairs. Those who stayed in Ireland, over time, adapted to new ways and became merchants, journalists, authors, poets, educators, religious and legal figures. The O Driscoll Diaspora chapter in this work deals with their contribution to the armed forces, religious, economic, medical, cultural and political life in many countries. Another chapter deals with the interlude of the Algerine slave-raid on Baltimore in 1631, which inspired the well-known poem of Thomas Davis: The Sack of Baltimore. Also treated, is the tantalizing mystery of who today should be called ‘The O Driscoll’, the hereditary chieftain of the clan.

In this 2019 revised edition, a further chapter enhanced by photographs, has been added, providing much interesting detail on the events and significance of the O Driscoll annual Clan Gathering.

Dr. Éamon Lankford is founder/director of Cape Clear Island Museum and Archive. Under his direction, minor placenames of counties Cork and Kerry have been collected and mapped. The establishment of Cape Clear Museum and Island Archive brings to fruition a lifetime’s work of collecting material relating to the island. Éamon is author of Cape Clear Island: Its people and Landscape (1999); Naomh Ciarán: Pilgrim Islander (2000(; Bealach Oidhreachta Oileán Chléire/ Cape Clear Heritage Trail (2003); Fastnet: An Charraig Aonair (2004); An logainmniocht in Oileán Cléire (2012); Ó Charraig Aonair go Droicead Dóinneach; From Fastnet Sound to Blackwater Bridge – Poems by John K. Cotter, edited É. Lankford (2016).