Ballyoughtra, Burke Name Study

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Date: About 1700
Location: Ballyoughtra, Creagh, Castlehaven South, Skibbereen, County Cork, Irelandmap
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This page is part of the Burke Name Study The goals of the BALLYOUGHTRA, BURKE NAME STUDY project are:

  1. To find every non-living person with the Burke surname who lived in Ballyoughtra, on Lough Hyne in Castlehaven South or Creagh Parish, Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland. and make a wikitree profile for them.
  2. To make a family tree including all Burkes who ever lived in Ballyoughtra, and connect that tree to the Global family tree on Wikitree.
  3. To find the origins of the Burkes of Ballyoughtra, likely in County Galway, and connect our Ballyoughtra family to any earlier Burkes in Galway or where ever they may have lived in Ireland
  4. To determine exactly when and why the Burkes came to Ballyoughtra on Lough Hyne.

If you have information on this family, please join our project!



Michael Burke, who lived in Ballyoughtra, Lough Hyne, Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland, told the family in 1980 or 1990 that the Burkes had been in West Cork for ten generations. Two more generations have farmed at Ballyoughtra by 2019, which could mean 12 generations of Burkes have lived in West Cork since the first Burkes came south from Galway Bay as fishermen in the 1600s.

Working backwards from Michael Burke, if he is the tenth generation, then his father Randal Burke, born April 1860 would be the ninth generation. Four Burke families have farms in Ballyoughtra on the 1901 and 1911 Censuses of Ireland, and perhaps all these families are cousins. The British insisted all members of the family inherit land and not just the oldest son, so it is likely cousins ended up farming the divided farms of their ancestors.

Randal Burke of 1860 had a father we know about whose name was Timothy Randal Burke, born December 1825. Timothy also had a brother that was named Timothy, born 1820, who may have died in childbirth. These brothers would be the eighth generation of Burkes in West Cork.

Timothy Randal Burke's father Randal Burke, born between 1790 and 1800, would be the seventh generation. Another brother or cousin, named Timothy is also around the same age and living in Ballyoughtra should also be in the seventh generation.

Randal Burke's father is likely Timothy? Burke, and likely born about 1768. He would be the sixth generation of the family to live in West Cork.

The fifth generation would be Randal Burke of 1800s grandfather, born in the 1740s, who may or may not be named Randal.

The pattern of alternating the names of Timothy and Randal each generation continues in the family even to this day, in the family of Timothy John Burke, born December 1896, brother of Michael Burke born 1890. This Timothy John Burke and his family migrated to the USA in 1921 , eventually ending up in California, while his older brother Michael Burke returned to Ireland by 1922, and inherited the Burke farm at Lough Hyne between 1922 and 1939.

The fourth generation of Burkes would be born in the early 1700s, and the third generation would be born in the late 1600s. These second generation would be born in the mid-1600s and the first generation, said to be fishermen from Galway Bay, would have been born in the early 1600s.

We are not sure exactly why the Burke's left Galway Bay, but the Reformation is a strong possibility. In the 1640s, Cromwell was executing Catholics and sending them to "Hell or Connaught", and Catholic members of the family may have been evicted, lost fishing rights or just decided to get out of harm's way. Perhaps they escaped to go find food during the Seige of Galway, and never came back. An important Mr. Burke, Ulick Burke, the Earl of Clanricharde, was a commander for the Royalist forces fighting Cromwell, but we do not know if our Burkes are his blood relatives or just share the same surname.

The City of Galway surrendered to Cromwell's generals in 1652. The Catholic Burkes ended up in West Cork where fishing is excellent in Lough Hyne and along the waters off the southwest coast of County Cork. The Burkes have flourished in West Cork for about 12 generations, surviving even the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s.

The mid-1600s in County Cork also saw the death of Fineen O'Driscoll the Rover, a seadog for Queen Elizabeth, with a stronghold castle on Castle Island in Lough Hyne. Fineen O'Driscoll passed away on the island in his Clogheen Castle in 1629, and perhaps Lough Hyne was less guarded than it had been when the British took over the area in the early 1600s after the Battle of Kinsale (October 1601), the Battle of Castlehaven (December 1601) and the Sack of Baltimore ( June 1631).

Or perhaps the Burkes just got along well with the O'Driscolls. The families were intermarrying in the 1800s and perhaps earlier. Both families remained powerful locally, as their names are found among the Workhouse Managers of Skibbereen, Dunmanway and other town workhouses.

Understanding this historical framework may help us determine the details of the Burke families who lived in West Cork and especially in Lough Hyne in the 1600s and 1700s.


  • Family stories from Michael Burke, as told to his nephews visiting from the USA in 1980 and 1990.
  • Historical research on the Battles of Kinsale, and Castlehaven along the southern coast of County Cork:
  • Historical research on the life and death of Fineen O'Driscoll the Rover, seadog for Queen Elizabeth I of England.


I have been researching the possible origins of the Burke family because Randal BURKE's son Mike told my father's brother that the Burkes came down from Galway about nine or ten generations before Mike was born. It is looking more and more like the Burkes came south from Galway due to pressures of the Reformation and the coming of Cromwell. Maps of old clan territories place the Burkes in East Galway, where they had extensive holdings. Our ancestors probably lived along the eastern coast of Galway bay, because they were fishermen, and that was the coast controlled by the Burkes.

When the English took over in the 1600s, the Burkes would have had to become Protestant to keep anything they had, so they likely left to keep their Catholic religion. If they were fishermen, they probably came by boat. Whether they brought women and children with them we don't know yet. They might have just intermarried with the women of West Cork.

Lough Hyne was an important O'Driscoll stronghold, so the O'Driscolls, later known as Driscoll's in some cases, were at Lough Hyne long before the Burkes arrived. Fineen O'Driscoll the Rover, the English seadog who died at his castle on Clogheen Stony Place island in the middle of Lough Hyne in 1629, was one of the most important O'Driscolls.

We do not know if we are descended from him through Mary Driscoll, wife of Randall, because Fineen is at least eight generations before our Mary Driscoll. But we do know that Mary was born in Ardagh, on the northwest side of Lough Hyne and Randall was born in Ballyoughtra on the northeast side of Lough Hyne.

I found some old maps from the 1600s that show Lough Hyne as it was in 1656-1658 when the Down's Survey of Ireland was taken. There are lists of local landowners and some of them are named O'Driscoll, and they may be relatives of Fineen, but we don't know if they are relatives of Mary born 200 years later. Ballyoughtra was not even on the map in 1656-1658, and its lands are included as part of Ballyisland with the east coast of Lough Hyne.

However, Ardagh and Tullagh were on the map. Perhaps Ballyoughtra was founded by the Burkes settling there in the late 1600s, or later when the Catholics were sent to high ground during the Penal Laws of the 1700s that would not let Catholics own any decent land. Or perhaps it was founded by the Beechers when they took over the area?

I am going to order some books from the Skibbereen Heritage Centre soon that might give us a little more information. In the meantime, you might enjoy some of the following links that I have been reading about Burkes who lived in Galway prior to 1600, including some that had a Castle named Pallas Castle at Tynagh, and some who were Earls of Clanricarde. We have no idea if we are related to those Burkes or just people who worked for them, as they would be about fifteen or more generations back. One source even has Burkes coming out of England back in the 700s. But right now, that is just ancient history!

1. Clan Ricarde, Upper Mac William, the Burkes of Clanricarde in Galway - -…/pallas-castle-tynagh-co-gal… 2. 3. 4. 5.…/ 6. 7. Down's Survey of Ireland for Creagh Parish, 1656-1658 (almost 30 Years after the death of Fineen O'Driscoll) -… EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG Clanricarde - Wikipedia Clanricarde, also known as Mac William Uachtar (Upper Mac William) or the Galway Burkes, were a partly Gaelicised branch of the Norman originated House of Burke in Ireland. The term was important in Ireland from the 13th to the 20th centuries.


  • Personal knowledge of the family. Many interviews with children of Randal and grandchildren of Randal. Our family never lost contact with our cousins in Ireland, and several of his grandchildren in the United States visited the family in Ireland over the years.
  • Roman Catholic Parish Church Baptismal Records for Roman Catholic Church Baptismal Records for Creagh and Sullon RC Parish in the Diocese of Skibbereen and Ross, County Cork, Ireland for Randal Burke, son of Tim Burke and Honora Donohue, and thier ancestors -
  • "Ireland Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958," database, FamilySearch ( : 4 December 2014), MARRIAGES entry for Randal Burke; citing Skull, Jan - Mar 1888, vol. 5, p. 427, General Registry, Custom House, Dublin; FHL microfilm 101,255.
  • 1911 Census of Ireland for Ballyoughtera, Castlehaven South, County Cork, Ireland.

Sources for Additional Research

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