problems at the time as evidenced above.
All was not bad however, as is exemplified in the case of Thaddeus McCarthy, who lived between 1455-1492 and who in recent years was declared Blessed (Feast Day October 25th). Thaddeus was opposed as a candidate for the bishopric of Ross, so Pope Innocent VIII appointed him instead to the Diocese of Cork and Cloyne. He set out as a humble pilgrim to Rome in order to be confirmed there as bishop. He took ill on his return journey and died in Italy in 1492.
The evidence for the church in Kilmeedy.
During the 1400's there was a Gaelic resurgence and many wealthy landlords built fortified homes, four or five stories high. These Tower Houses are the most common feature of the Irish landscape and represent a notable development in secular architecture between 1400-1600. These rectangular buildings were not castles in the strict sense. They were not constructed to resist heavy artillery or to be strategic defences in the area, rather they were fortified dwellings with some defensive elements.
Their total distribution around Ireland is about 3,500. Of these, 125 are in Cork county and the McCarthys of Musketry constructed 3 in the Parish of Drishane during the 1400's. Two survive. They are Kilmeedy, built about 1435 and Drishane, built slightly later, circa 1450. The third, at Dooneen, is shown in the Pacata Hibernia map of 1600, but nothing now remains
A glance at the earliest 6 inch Ordinance Survey maps shows the co-location of church and tower house as a common feature. Most likely, the wealthy landlords were patrons of the church and provided a site for its building. My conjecture is that the church at Kilmeedy preceded the building of the tower house there and when Drishane was built, slightly later, by Dermot, son of Tadhg, 3rd Earl of Muskerry, he endowed a new church nearer the castle.
Drishane tower is a rectangular structure with an entrance on the east face. A cylindrical tower was erected later on the south-east corner. About a quarter of a mile to the south-east is the old graveyard which marks the site of the ruined church. There are overgrown remains of the north-west corner, approximately two metres on the east west axis and 6 metres north south, to a maximum height of 16 metres. This ruined west gable can still be seen between the McCarthy and Pomeroy tombs. We can surmise that the church was built by the McCarthys with their patronage and the parish name was changed from Kilmeedy to Drishane.
Earlier Parish of Kilmeedy.
The earlier church at Kilmeedy was located close to Tobar Slanan which is about 400 metres to the north of the castle, two fields in from the Millstreet-Macroom road. It is featured in the 1842 Ordinance Survey map as a sub circular area, enclosed by a field fence. It includes a holy well surrounded by a wall of loose stones, a disused graveyard defined by numerous un-inscribed standing stones or grave markers, a tomb enclosed by a railing marking the burial plot of the Leader family (Henry Leader, who died aged 62, on November 9th 1809, and his two children were the last people buried there) and the foundational remains of a church wall of about 10 metres, aligned in an east west direction. In the 'Archaeological Inventory of Mid- Cork', (N9347), B. O'Donoghue is quoted as suggesting that this was the church dedicated to St.Ita (Cill mo Ide).
If this is correct, it marks the site of the earliest known church in the present parish of Millstreet, which is referred in Papal letters as Drishane alias Kylmide. Its existence preceded the building of the nearby castle, built by the McCarthys circa 1435. It is unlikely that this foundation dates back to the time of St Ita, who died in 570 and whose Feast Day is January 15th. Her convent was at Cluain Credail (know known as Killeedy), County Limerick, but there is no mention of her evangelising in the Millstreet area in the medieval account of her life. There are, however, a number of churches dedicated to her, particularly in the counties of Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Kerry.
17th Century Records relating to the Church of Ireland parish of Drishane and adjacent areas.
King James, before his accession to the throne in 1601, had made repeated declarations of his desire to afford liberty of conscience to suffering Catholics. However, as soon as he found himself secure on the throne, he retracted all his promises and his proclamation of July 4th 1605 blighted all hopes of religious liberty. He declared that no toleration would be granted to his subjects in Ireland, All his subjects were commanded to attend Protestant services and priests would have to withdraw from his kingdom within a specified time.
The rectory and tithes of Dromharrasse, Dressane, Dirrivalie in Lord Roche country and of Kilbinny and Collin in Dowallie, in the O'Keeffe McDonagh country were granted to Lawrence Esmond, knight, and his wife and son to keep up the parsonages and buildings and pay curates a grant for 21 years at a rent of £100 per annum. (Patent Rolls of James I, 1603, p. 60). (NB. The underlined places are variant spellings of Drishane and Cullen)