The Junior Maguire Clan - 1655 to 1800
When Brian of Tempo died in 1655, his son Hugh had already fallen five years earlier at the Battle of Glenswilly fighting on the Irish side. The leadership of the junior Maguire family now passed to Cuchonnacht Mor, his five-year-old grandson. The boy inherited many of his father's attributes and like Hugh, he grew up to become a soldier. Cuchonnacht Mor proudly bore this Maguire family name in traditional Irish fashion. Later history shows how the transition to the English "Constantine" becomes total and in the succeeding centuries, the Tempo family yielded another three Maguires bearing this distinguished epithet.
Brian of Tempo's greatest achievement was to initiate a new dynasty of Fermanagh Maguires while keeping the family estate solidly in Irish Catholic hands even during the worst persecutions of Oliver Cromwell. When the Lord Protector of England died in 1658, his son Richard Cromwell became his successor. His term in office lasted only until 1660 when the monarchy was restored. The Catholic King Charles II returned from France to take the throne of England.
Across the Atlantic in North America, Charles II chartered Carolina to eight London proprietors whose intention was to form a new society based on the English baronial system. Soon these Englishmen recruited settlers from Barbados and other English-controlled colonies. In the 1670s, a group of Barbadians settled on the west bank of the Ashley River and named their new colony Charles Town. Ten years later the settlement moved to the peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Gradually the new community grew larger eventually to become the city of Charleston. Two centuries later, this cultural and cosmopolitan centre in South Carolina became the new home of the royal Maguire family of Fermanagh.
During the reign of Charles II the old Gaelic families of Ulster regained much of what they had lost in the 1641 Rebellion. Following his death in 1685, the King's younger brother was crowned James II. Lacking political understanding, he unwisely tried to improve the conditions of his fellow Catholics. In 1688, he fled England for France and his son-in-law, the Protestant Prince William of Orange, was invited from Holland to take the throne jointly with his wife Mary, James' daughter. They arrived in England in November 1688. When James II became king he was regarded as a saviour by the Irish Catholics and indeed, when he lost his throne, Ireland remained loyal to him.
Since Fermanagh's Plantation in 1610, a second generation of Planter families had emerged who were tough, resilient and well established. The Williamite War would prove to be their greatest challenge, a challenge that they responded to with bravery and tenacity. The tales of "King Billy" and the great battles fought still echo down the years to the present day.
The proud figure of King William on his white horse, leading his army into battle is the usual representation that lasts into modern times. The real William was rather stooped and suffered from chronic asthma, which made life difficult for him when he reached the damp climate of Ireland. The heroic James too had feet of clay, as his heart seems not to have been in winning the war and indeed, he made fundamental errors all during the campaign for which he and his Irish army paid a heavy price.
"The Maguire" resident in Tempo grew up with a strong sense of duty but Cuchonnacht Mor lacked wisdom where financial matters were concerned. He spent heavily and far beyond what the Tempo estate could sustain. He married Mary Magennis, daughter of Ever Magennis from County Down, in 1675. A marriage document was drawn up which would become crucial in securing the Maguire family's future. Cuchonnacht Mor became a devoted Jacobite loyally following the Stuart king James until his death. He represented Fermanagh in parliament and was appointed High Sheriff of the county in 1687.
When James II came to the throne he had in mind a complete Catholic restoration in Ireland. Richard Talbot, the Catholic Earl of Tyrconnell was given command of the army. A Catholic militia was formed and Protestant officers dismissed. In 1687, Tyrconnell became the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. When James lost his English throne the following year, Tyrconnell prepared Ireland for war. Soon Catholic forces secured the main garrisons around the country and the army was put on alert. Fermanagh's Planter families became increasingly nervous and some fled to England.
On March 12th 1689, James II landed in Ireland at Kinsale and the country prepared for the combat that was to follow. Cuchonnacht Mor had already raised a regiment of infantry, which he commanded. Soon these Fermanaghmen would prove their bravery alongside their leader. The army list for James' forces dated June 2nd 1690 shows that Cuchonnacht Mor was the commanding officer and the three senior officers under his leadership were Maguires. It is likely that not only did he form the regiment himself but also paid the soldiers and provided the weapons and transportation.
Once James had secured his position in Ireland, he set up an Irish Parliament in Dublin to undo the Plantation and confiscate Planter estates. Cuchonnacht Mor represented Fermanagh in this new assembly. Ironically, Fermanagh itself was to become a thorn in James' side during the campaign. The Protestant residents of Enniskillen together with Fermanagh's landowners resisted James II and were staunch followers of William of Orange.
A plan was assembled to overcome the Planter resistance in the county in a three-pronged attack. An army under the command of Patrick Sarsfield would attack from the southwest, the Duke of Berwick would move south from County Tyrone and Lord Mountcashel's army would enter Fermanagh from County Cavan. This strike ended in defeat when the army of Justin McCarthy, Lord Mountcashel was beaten at Lisnaskea and Newtownbutler in July 1689. He had besieged Crom Castle and failed to take it, then lost his cannon to the Inniskilling Dragoons at the Battle of Newtownbutler and finally, wounded and captured himself, taken to Enniskillen as a prisoner. This defeat effectively ended the Ulster campaign.
Williams's commander, Marshal Schomberg landed in Ireland in August 1689 with a force of twenty thousand men. William landed at Carrickfergus in June the following year with a fleet of three hundred ships. On the morning of July 1st 1690 James' army of twenty five thousand Irish and French soldiers gathered on the south bank of the River Boyne to the west of Dundalk. William fielded an army of thirty-six thousand men recruited from all over Europe and his elite regiment, the Dutch Blue Guards were Catholic. He deployed his troops on the north bank of the Boyne. Patrick Sarsfield was in command of James' forces while Marshal Schomberg commanded Williamís army.
Following a barrage by the cannon from both sides, the Battle of the Boyne began in earnest. William ordered Schomberg to make a full frontal assault across the river while his right wing marched up river to outflank Sarsfield's army. The Irish saw the flanking movement too late. The Dutch Blue Guards crossed the river followed by Williams's French and English infantry. Once the onslaught began, the Williamite army penetrated other crossing points and at one of these, Schomberg was killed. William then took command himself. The Battle of the Boyne raged all day with the army of William achieving something of a narrow victory. About five hundred men from each side died at the Boyne with the Irish army defeated but still intact. More importantly, James' hopes of overall victory were seriously damaged. The Irish army regrouped under the command of Sarsfield and continued the fight for another year.
The last great battle of the war was yet to be fought. Following his defeat at the Boyne, James went south, first to Waterford and then to Kinsale where he sailed for France. He remained there for the rest of his life. His Irish army abandoned Dublin and retreated west to the River Shannon. On July 12th 1691, James' forces met William's at Aughrim near Ballinasloe. The commander of the Irish army was the French Marquis de St. Ruhe, a competent professional soldier and senior to Sarsfield. Many Fermanaghmen fought on both sides. Within the ranks of William's army were Cunyngham's Inniskilling Dragoons, Wynn's Inniskilling Dragoons, Wolseley's Inniskilling Horse, Tiffin's Inniskilling Regiment of Foot and Gustavus Hamilton's Regiment of Foot.
Colonel Cuchonnacht Mor Maguire and his Fermanagh infantry along with their comrades struggled to overcome superior odds. In the close fought Battle of Aughrim, the Williamite army won the day. By nightfall seven hundred Irish infantrymen lay dead on the battlefield. A cannonball in the midst of the slaughter decapitated the Marquis de St. Ruhe. After capturing the Dutch guns of the Williamite army, Cuchonnacht Mor and his men were overwhelmed and he died in the vicious hand-to-hand fighting.
After the battle, the head of the slain Maguire was returned to his native Fermanagh and buried at the ancient monastery on Devenish Island in Lough Erne. The defeat was total and the Jacobite cause lost forever. The Maguires of Tempo now faced the greatest threat to their existence. Since Cuchonnacht Mor died in arms against King William, he was officially a traitor and the family estate was confiscated. As the 17th century drew to a close, the family waited anxiously for the forthcoming eviction. But all was not lost. In true Maguire style, another Brian of Tempo would again fight for survival.
Survival of the Clan
Brian Maguire, the son of Cuchonnacht Mor, faced a difficult challenge on the death of his father at Aughrim. His mother, a daughter of Ever Magennis of County Down, was anxious to preserve the Maguire dynasty and retain the lands of Tempo in spite of her late husband's condemnation as a traitor to the Crown. To add to the family's problems, the estate was in debt due to the extravagance of Cuchonnacht Mor.
Brian had two younger brothers, Hugh and Stephen. Shortly after becoming head of the family, he married Bridget Nugent, a daughter of James Nugent from County Longford who had served as a colonel in the Jacobite army of James II. The dowry brought by Bridget helped clear the debts of the Tempo estate.
During the Williamite campaign, William of Orange tried to bring the war to a speedy conclusion. The cities of Limerick and Galway held out against his army and to encourage the Jacobites to surrender, he promised that the estates of Irish citizens in these towns and elsewhere would not be confiscated provided they submitted to him. From this agreement, the Articles of Galway and Limerick were drawn up and as a result, when the fighting ended, a good deal of land was kept by the original Gaelic landowners who had survived the war. Because of his death at Aughrim, Cuchonnacht Mor could not claim the advantage of the Articles of Limerick and Galway and was thus condemned as a traitor out of hand.
The future of the estates that remained confiscated because the owners were held to be traitors to the Crown was for some years ambiguous because of a dispute between King William and the English Parliament. To offset the cost of the war, Parliament wanted to sell the confiscated lands while William regarded their disposal as his sole prerogative. He proceeded to grant some of the estates to his supporters. The former Prince William of Orange, now King William III of England, victor at the Boyne and Aughrim, granted the Maguire lands at Tempo to Andrew Hamilton, the rector of Kilskerry near Enniskillen who had been a prominent defender of Williams's interests in Fermanagh during the Williamite campaign. When he died the estate was granted to the Corry family, later to become the Earls of Belmore. Due to the extravagance of Cuchonnacht Mor, the Tempo lands had already been considerably reduced in size.
Brian Maguire set about the task of proving to the authorities that the former head of the family had only a life interest in the estate, therefore the lands should not be forfeit to the Crown. Soon Brian began court proceedings in Dublin against the Corry family.
The Maguires found allies in the most unlikely place - Parliament. The English Parliament strongly disapproved of the way that King William had distributed the forfeited Irish lands. In 1700 the Act of Resumption was passed and the King was forced to cancel all the grants. A board of trustees was set up to hear petitions. The marriage settlement document drawn up between Cuchonnacht Mor and his wife in 1675 was used by Brian to prove his case. His claim was upheld and in March 1702 Brian became the Master of Tempo.
During their tenure at Tempo, Brian and his wife Bridget celebrated in true Maguire style. Their home was a place where poets and bards were always welcome. Among the best known of these was Eamonn Cassidy, who wrote this poem for Brian in celebration of his return to Tempo.
Gay is Fermanagh tonight
The joy of the Erne is clear
Glad are the land and the woods
And the people who with you dwell here
Brian continued as head of the family until his death on October 31st 1712. His wife then managed the estates on behalf of her sons until her death in the 1750s.
Conversion and Fragmentation
Following the Treaty of Limerick in 1691, which signalled the end of the Williamite war, the Penal Laws were implemented throughout Ireland. The objective was to complete the English conquest by converting the Catholic masses to the Protestant faith. Part of the Penal Laws included a proviso that a Catholic landowner was forbidden to bequeath his land in his will. When he died, his estate had to be divided equally amongst all of his sons. However, if the eldest son conformed to the Established Church of Ireland, he inherited the whole estate.
Brian Maguire had five sons.
To overcome the Penal Code regarding inheritance, some members of this generation of junior Maguires became members of the Church of Ireland. This transition to Protestantism lasted into the twentieth century until James Hamilton Maguire converted to Catholicism before his death in 1936.
Constantine never married and remained a Catholic until his death in 1739. He was renowned for his hospitality but his extravagance led to the disposal of part of the Tempo estate. His brother Robert who succeeded him became a member of the Church of Ireland and married Elizabeth MacDermott Roe, a rich heiress from County Roscommon. In 1743, the third son Hugh converted and married Elizabeth Malyns, the dowager Lady Cathcart of Hertfordshire. She was a member of a distinguished English family and had been married four times previously. She brought with her a considerable income from her estates in England. Her union with Hugh Maguire, however, was not a marriage made in heaven. Bullied and imprisoned by her husband, Lady Cathcart was eventually released after Hugh's death. She overcame her ill-treatment and lived to the age of ninety-seven.
After the death of Hugh Maguire in the 1760s, his brother Robert reappeared as head of the family. Philip, his brother and Brian's youngest son married Frances Morres who was the daughter of Nicholas Morres from Lateragh, County Tipperary. They had an only son, Hugh who became head of the family after Robert's death in the 1770s. Like his Uncle Hugh, he spent a period in the Austrian army but eventually returned to his native Fermanagh to become a gentleman of leisure in the old homeland at Tempo. Already the estate was in debt and Hugh's colourful and extravagant lifestyle only added to the problems. He married Phoebe MacNamara from Cong, County Mayo and was Sheriff of Fermanagh in 1780. As a prominent member of Fermanagh society, he was instrumental in the building of the new Protestant Church in Tempo village in 1780. He died on October 1st 1800.
Because of mounting debts, part of the Maguire estates (3,277 statute acres and the house) was sold in 1799 to Samuel Lyle, a linen merchant from Derry. The linen industry was thriving in Ulster during this period and Lyle was one who prospered from the boom. He never lived at Tempo and the house soon fell into decay. He eventually sold the property to Sir William Tennent and in a letter to him he describes Tempo as "one of the most beautiful spots you ever saw".
During the later part of the 18th century, the Penal Laws were relaxed and in 1791, a new organisation was formed in Ireland. The Society of United Irishmen, under the leadership of a Protestant barrister named Theobald Wolfe Tone, attempted to form an alliance between Catholics and Protestants. The aims of the organisation were to substitute the common name of Irishman for Protestant and Catholic, to put an end to the unjust interference of Britain in the affairs of Ireland and to secure fair representation for all Irishmen in the National Parliament.
Both Catholics and Protestants joined the United Irishmen, among them Sir William Tennent. The society prepared for rebellion and in 1798 the unthinkable happened, Catholics and Protestants rose together against the British crown. Tennent, a Presbyterian, was arrested as a suspected leader of the United Irishmen and imprisoned in Scotland for almost four years.
The rebellion failed and cost the lives of thousands of people. It had little impact on Fermanagh and the fighting was mostly restricted to the eastern half of Ulster and County Wexford in the southeast. The Ulster campaign was led by Henry Munroe and Henry Joy McCracken, both Protestants, and lasted less than a week.
Sir William died in 1832, and his wife inherited the Tempo estate. A dispute about the will led to a lawsuit, which ended in 1839, when Sir James Emerson Tennent, husband of Sir William's daughter Letitia, was obliged to purchase her life interest in order to gain control of the estate. It was Sir James who had the house rebuilt in 1863. The estate eventually passed to the Langham family who are the present owners.
As the 19th century began, the Maguire family of Tempo had lost a large part of its inheritance, the seeds of which Brian of Tempo had so carefully planted almost two hundred years before. Another Constantine Maguire would now become the clan leader, eventually to leave Fermanagh for County Tipperary and a brutal, untimely death.