Friday 21 December 2018

New history of the Earls of Castlehaven published

A new history of the Earls of Castlehaven, written by retired University College Cork lecturer Dr Michael Keane, tells the story of the Lord Audleys who played a leading role in Irish history for close to three centuries.

In 1601, the 1st Earl of Castlehaven was a leading English commander in the decisive Battle of Kinsale in which he was wounded. He later became one of Ireland’s largest plantation landowners, with estates extending from West Cork through six Midlands counties to Armagh and Tyrone in the north.

The Castlehavens led highly colourful lives, none more so than the 2nd Earl. He married into the Royal Family – his wife Anne, eldest daughter of Lord Derby and Alice Spencer of Althorp of more recent Lady Diana fame, was briefly heir presumptive to the throne of Queen Elizabeth I. However, the 2nd Earl was accused by Anne of extreme sexual depravity and, following a sensational trial, was executed in London.

Remarkably his successor, the 3rd Earl of Castlehaven became a leading commander in the Catholic Confederacy uprising and led the Catholic resistance in Ireland to Protestant advancement and to Cromwell.

In the 19th century three successive Lord Audleys were involved in copper mining on their estate in the Mizen peninsula near Ballydehob in West Cork, a venture which was riddled with fraud and corruption. Their estate later became a focal point in the tragedy of the Great Famine in the region. In overall history terms, the story of the lives of the Castlehavens/Audleys helps to illuminate the shifting sands of control and dominance of Irish affairs during many of the key centuries of Irish history.

The book is available in selected bookshops as well as online –,, Amazon – or direct from the author via

(Dr Keane’s first history book, From Laois to Kerry, was winner of the Nilsson Heritage Prize at Listowel Writers Week 2017. Originally from Kerry, he now lives in Farran, Co Cork.)