Fineen "the Rover" O'Driscoll, Mor, was famous British seadog who guarded the Irish coast for the British. A seadog is a legal pirate. He was previously the Cheiftain of O'Driscoll Mor of Collymore, centered in Baltimore along the southwest shore of County Cork, where he and his men rules the waves and collected fees from foreign fishermen, and licensed local fishermen.
Fineen O'Driscoll was born in County Cork, Ireland. Sometimes his name is written "Finghan" which is a variant spelling. Owen MacCarthy Reagh, 12th Prince of Carbery, and Sir Fineen's father-in-law, was born in 1520. Owen's daughter, Fineen's wife, may have been born as early as say 1545, which may make Fineen's estimated birth about the same time.
The O'Driscoll Clan did well in the 1400s, and built several casltes, many in Collymore, which is the east side of the Ilen River, and another one, Rincolisky, in Collybeg, which is the west side of the Ilen. There territory was concentrated in the area now known as Aghadown or Aughatown Civil Parish. Fineen was probably born in one of these castles, sometime in the mid 1500s.
The Irish Clan O’Driscoll were at the beginning of 16th century the “premier maritime lords” of southwestern Ireland. Their territory was vast. Their wealth came from the rich fishing grounds off the coast of Baltimore. During this time the herring migrated to the area, attracting foreign fisherman. Herring needs to be salted immediately to retain it’s flavor, so the O’Driscolls benefited from charging fishermen for the use of their harbors and bays. These charges were known as black rents.
In 1537/8, the O’Driscolls (an earlier Fineen O’Driscoll, his son Conor and his illegitimate son Gilly Duff) charged a merchant vessel carrying wine to Waterford, three pipes of wine to pilot their ship to safe anchor off Sherkin Island during a storm. Not content with their three pipes, the O’Driscolls seized the ship and the remainder of the wine. Such blatant acts, seldom go unrevenged. The citizens of Waterford, led by the mayor, launced a counter attack. They bombarded Dunalong castle on Sherkin Island, continuing through the night. By dawn the garrison had fled and the Waterford men spent the next five days, destroying villages, boats, the abbey and a mill.
During the following years, it became evident that the English government intended to take over more and more of Ireland. Some Englishmen applied for fishing grants on the southwest coast of Ireland. They also asked to incorporate the town of Baltimore, presumably to create a settlement. The Privy Council approved this in April 1569. Did the O'Driscolls know about this imminent danger to their livelihoods? It was reported on 2 Nov 1568, that Fineen O'Driscoll (chief of the O'Driscolls) and others, "are come in, of their own accord" to meet a representative of the government. This too may have been an earlier Fineen, since estimates of Sir Fineen's birth in 1560 would make him only eight at this time.
In 1573, Fineen O'Driscoll and other O'Driscolls were pardoned for their role in the Desmond rebellion, but it is unknown precisely what part they played.
Fineen O'Drisoll applied for surrender of his lands and regrant to the Queen and the government in 1573. It was favorably received and he was regranted his land. Baltimore became an important port for the English government, during the years leading up to the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. It was reported that Spanish ships were frequently seen around the harbors in the area, perhaps spying out places to launch an invasion.
15 Aug 1583, from "Sir Warham Sentleger to Walsyngham. The bearer, Mr. Fynyn O'Driscoll, has loyally behaved in this dangerous time and animated the Chieftain of Carbery to the finding 100 soldiers. His good actions against pirates."
28 Sept 1583 "Fynyn O'Dryscoyll to Lord [probably Burghley]. Under stands Her Majesty's favourable disposition. Prays for despatch, as he hears of 100 sail of fishermen gone to Baltimore, and fears his tenants may fall out with them.
Fineen (Florence) O'Driscoll More and a handfull of others were knighted in Ireland by the lord deputy, 16 May 1585.
Sir Fineen remained loyal to the crown of England, until 1601. This was the final years of the Nine Years' War or Tyrone's War, a war by the Irish against English rule. "In 1601, Donogh O'Driscoll delivered to the Spaniards his castle of Castlehaven; Sir Fineen O'Driscoll (who never had been tainted with the least spot of disloyaltie) rendered to them his castle of Donneshed at Baltimore and his castle at Donnelong."
15 February 1602, "Sir George Carew wrote to the government: "..Few of the 'provincials' here were in rebellion. The best of them, namely Sir Fynin O'Driscoll, O'Donovan and Sir Owen McCartie's sons, have not joined Tyrrell and the northern rebels, and ask to be received to mercy. They say they only conversed with Tyrone, O'Donnell and the Spaniards, and did no harm to any of her Majesty's subjects. I believe this is true." Even though Sir Fineen O'Driscoll was pardoned, after the defeat of the Spanish and the end of the war, the clan wealth and holdings were lost during the following years.
Fineen O'Driscoll is mentioned on corkgen.org timeline when in "1608 Sir Fynnin O'Driscoll surrendered the territory of Collymore, including Baltimore, and the islands of Inisherkin, whereupon Sir Thomas Crooke planted settlers."
Fineen was able to do at least one more service for England. An English fleet was becalmed outside Baltimore. Sir Fineen "wined and dined" the officers and men. Silver was tossed into a well to entertain the crew. Elizabeth, summoned Sir Fineen to court to thank him, unfortunately she died before his arrival. and Sir Fineen himself soon after died in England.
Some sources say Fineen died in London, while on a trip to see Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth died in 1603, and we know that he was alive after that. Some say he died in his 13th century castle An Clochan (Cloghan Castle in English) on the island in Loughine (Lough Hyne) in 1629. Loughine is an inlet located on the southwest coast of County Cork, Ireland, near Castlehaven. The name Castlehaven is still associated with that area as the Civil Parish of Castlehaven South. More research is necessary to determine actual place of death, but he apparently still owned Cloghan Castle upon his death.
Fineen married Eileen MacCarthy Reagh, daughter of Sir Owen MacCarthy Reagh, 12th Prince of Carbery, whose father was a descendant of Fitzgerald, 8th Earl of Kildare. Eileen was part of the powerful MacCarthy Reagh family who had extensive land holdings in County Cork, Ireland in the 1500s and 1600s. They had at least three children:
Pedigree of Fineen O’Driscoll
Lyrics to a song were written about Fineen's exploits. It was probably a sea shanty.
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