Wednesday 22 April 2020

(414) Barry of Castle Cor (Co. Cork)

The origins of this family are exceptionally confusing, and have defeated my genealogical skills. Burke's Landed Gentry makes no claim for any connection with the lineage of the Earls of Barrymore, but begins its account with the marriage of Richard Barry and Mary Norton in 1754, which was reported in the Gentleman's Magazine.  They state that the Richard Barry with whom the genealogy below begins, was the son of this marriage. 'Richard Barry' is remarkably elusive, however. According to Burke and to the Visitation of Ireland, he was a colonel in the 11th Hussars, but although a man of the right name was gazetted a cornet in the 11th Hussars in 1781 he resigned his commission in 1785. He may conceivably be the same Richard Barry as became a captain in the 4th Irish Brigade in 1795, was later placed on half-pay until allowed to sell his captaincy in 1825, and who died in 1827. There is no record of a Colonel Richard Barry in the Army Lists as far as I can see, so if our man held this rank at all it must have been in the militia.

Any child of Richard Barry and Mary Norton would have been well into middle age by the start of the 19th century, but 'Col. Richard' is said to have been married in 1812 to Eliza, the daughter of Darby O'Grady and the sister of Standish O'Grady, the Irish attorney general (later enobled as 1st Viscount Guillamore). Although I can find no contemporary record of this marriage, one of Eliza's sisters, Honora O'Grady, did marry a 'Jos. H. Barry' on 8 May 1810. His father's name is given as Joseph, not Richard, so I wonder if there is perhaps an intervening unrecorded generation, and that 'Col. Richard' and 'Jos H' were both sons of a lost Joseph? Someone else who must have been a near relation was William Norton Barry (d. 1823), a Dublin barrister who was admitted to Trinity College Dublin in 1773. That would put his date of birth at about 1755 and makes it very likely that he was a son of Richard Barry and Mary Norton. But was he 'Col. Richard''s brother or uncle?

We at last seem to be on slightly firmer ground with the next generation. William Norton Barry (1814-71) was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Dublin, before joining the army in 1835. He resigned his commission just four years later, with the rank of lieutenant, but since he was later widely referred to as Major Barry, he probably subsequently held a militia appointment. His first wife died in 1851, leaving him with an only daughter, but his second marriage in 1856 produced a son, also called William Norton Barry (1859-1935). In 1852 he purchased the Castle Cor estate through the Incumbered Estates Court and he subsequently became a JP for County Cork. In 1870 he was chosen as High Sheriff for 1871-72, but he died suddenly in January 1871 before he could take up the appointment. His son and heir was just twelve, and was sent off to Eton and then to Oxford, returning in 1880, when he came of age. Unlike many of his peers, who turned to the army or the professions for an income that would supplement their rental, William seems to have regarded hunting as a full-time occupation. On coming down from Oxford he established his own pack of beagles, which he ran for five years before taking over as Master of the Duhallow Foxhounds, of which he remained Master or joint-Master until 1919. His second wife, who was also a cousin, shared this passion, and she continued to ride to hounds - side-saddle - into her late 80s, becoming a legendary figure in the hunting field. All the expenditure on horses and the hunt meant that repairs and maintenance at Castle Cor were neglected, and this was particularly true in the years after the Second World War. When Kenneth Hope-Murray inherited the estate in 1959 he found the house more or less derelict and in part unsafe. He sold it in about 1960 and the house was demolished by the new owners in 1961.

Castle Cor, Kanturk, Co. Cork

Castle Cor (Co. Cork): the entrance front c.1820, from Neale's Views of Seats, vol 3, 1820. He shows the north wing which was never, in fact, built.
There was an old castle here on a site in the present park, known as Castle Cor or Castle Corith, from which the later mansion derived its name. The castle belonged in the 17th century to the Chinnery family, and either in or after the 1690s, John Chinnery sold the estate to William Freeman (1667-1732), who replaced the castle with a fashionable modern house with a hipped roof with dormer windows. As first built, it consisted of a two storey seven bay block with little two-storey pyramid-roofed corner towers at each of the four angles. The central three bays of the east-facing entrance front were stepped slightly forward and pedimented, and had a doorcase with a scroll pedimentThe house was first described in 1750, when it was called 'a handsome house, fronted with hewn stone, and flanked at each angle with turrets, and near it is a pleasant park'.

Castle Cor (Co. Cork): the garden front with its late 18th century bow, and the new wing of the early 19th century.

The estate passed to William Freeman's son, also William Freeman, who was succeeded in turn by his son Michael (who died childless) and daughter Jane, the wife of Joseph Deane (d. 1775). Jane's son, Edward Deane (1760-1826) took the additional name Freeman on inheriting the property, and was responsible for two phases of alterations to the house. In about 1788 he engaged an unknown architect to modernise the old house and to add a three-storey semicircular bow to the centre of the west-facing garden front. A little later (the house was called 'lately much enlarged' in about 1810), Freeman added a taller two-storey wing to the south side of the house, containing new reception rooms, and creating a new, if severely plain, south front. It is said that the intention was to build a matching wing on the north side of the building, restoring the symmetry of the elevations, but this was never built, although Neale's engraving of the house, published in 1820, shows it. In the space enclosed by the new wing, the main block and the south-east and south-west corner towers, an impressive top-lit staircase hall was formed, with a graceful wooden staircase. This shared with the new dining and drawing rooms on the ground floor of the wing a more generous scale than the old house, where the rooms were smaller and lower. 

Castle Cor (Co. Cork): an engraving of the house accompanying the sale particulars of 1852.
Edward Deane Freeman had a stroke while sitting as a magistrate in about 1812 (curiously the same thing happened to one of his grandsons in the 1850s), and spent his last years living quietly at Castle Cor. He was succeeded by his son, Joseph Deane Freeman (1783-1840) and grandson, Maj. Edward Deane Freeman (1818-61). The latter became impoverished during the famine years of the 1840s, when rents became impossible to collect, and he was eventually forced to sell the estate to William Norton Barry (1814-71) through the Incumbered Estates Court in 1852, for £14,185. Even selling up did not end his problems, however, for he was briefly imprisoned for debt in 1856, and he left a paltry estate of £220 at his death in 1861. 

The house seems to have been little altered after the early 19th century, although some modern conveniences were no doubt installed. On the death of the younger William Norton Barry in 1935, the property passed to his widow, Adelaide, who lived for hunting (she was still riding to hounds in her late 80s) and who allowed the house to deteriorate, to the point where the structure was described as unsafe by the time of her death. The estate was sold in about 1960 to new owners who only wanted the land and demolished the house the following year.

Descent: John Chinnery sold c.1700 to William Freeman (1667-1732); to son, William Freeman; to son, Matthew Freeman; to sister Jane, wife of Joseph Deane (d. 1775) of Terenure (Co. Dublin) and Dungar (Co. Kilkenny); to son, Edward Deane (later Edward Deane Freeman) (1760-1826); to son, Joseph Deane Freeman (1783-1840); to son, Maj. Edward Deane Freeman (1818-61); sold 1852 to William Norton Barry (c.1814-71); to son, William Norton Barry (1859-1935); to widow, Adelaide Maud Barry (1870-1959); to nephew, Kenneth Hope Murray (d. 1972), who sold c.1960; demolished 1961.

Barry family of Castle Cor

Barry, Richard (c.1785?-1870?). Said to have been the son, but more probably the grandson, of Richard Barry (fl. 1754), possibly of Kilcock (Co. Meath), and his wife Mary Norton of Jervis St., Dublin, born about 1785. An officer in the 11th Regt. of Light Dragoons (Lt. 1810*). He married, 1812, Eliza** (1787-1860), daughter of Darby O'Grady of Rockbarton alias Mount Prospect (Co. Limerick) and sister of Standish O'Grady, 1st Viscount Guillamore, and had issue:
(1) William Norton Barry (1814-71) (q.v.);
(2) Frances Barry (c.1816-96), born about 1816; married, 1 July 1833, as his second wife, Dudley Persse (1802-78) of Roxborough (Co. Galway), son of Robert Persse of Roxborough, and had issue eight sons and five daughters; died 22 March 1896; administration of her goods was granted in Dublin, 11 June 1896 (effects in Ireland, £28,454 and in England £345).
He is said to have died 17 April 1870, but there is no certainty that the Richard Barry who died on that day was this man. His wife died in 1860 and was buried in Dublin.
* Burke's Landed Gentry and other sources following it refer to him as a Colonel, but I have been unable to find any Col. Richard Barry in the Army Lists.
** Her sister Honora married a 'Jos. H. Barry' on 8 May 1810; his father was Joseph Barry and so perhaps Richard Barry's father was also Joseph. William Norton Barry (c.1755-1823), of Dublin, barrister-at-law, who must have been a near relation, was however of the right generation to be a son of Richard (fl. 1754).

Barry, Maj. William Norton (1814-71). Only son of Richard Barry (c.1785?-1870?) and his wife Eliza, daughter of Darby O'Grady of Rockbarton (Co. Limerick), born July 1814. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1832). An officer in the army (Cornet, 1835; Lt., 1837; retired 1839)  and later probably in the militia, since by 1860 he was usually referred to as Major Barry. JP for Co. Cork (by 1861). He was chosen High Sheriff for Co. Cork for 1871-72, but died before he could take up the office. He married 1st, 2 June 1840, Arabella (d. 1851), younger daughter of Col. William Persse CB, and 2nd, 19 January 1856 at Kilbrin (Co. Cork), Elizabeth (1823-1906), younger daughter of Sir William Wrixon-Becher, 1st bt., and had issue:
(1.1) Elizabeth Barry (c.1842-1930) of Hudscott, Chittlehampton (Devon), born about 1842; married 1st, October 1868 at Kilbrin, John Baring Short (1836-80), elder son of Francis Baring Short of Bickham House, Kenn (Devon), and 2nd, 7 June 1883 at St Stephen, Kensington (Middx), George Aubrey William Thorold (1847-1932) of Warkleigh (Devon), solicitor, but had no issue by either marriage; died 9 January 1930; will proved 12 March 1930 (estate £9,039);
(2.1) William Norton Barry (1859-1935) (q.v.);
(2.2) Frances Norton Barry (1861-62), born 21 December 1861 and baptised at Castlemagner (Co. Cork), 20 January 1862; died in infancy and was buried at Castlemagner, 24 January 1862.
He lived in Fitzwilliam Sq., Dublin until he purchased the Castle Cor estate from the Incumbered Estates Court in 1852.
He died intestate, 23 January 1871; administration of his goods was granted to his widow, 8 May 1871 (effects under £30,000). His first wife died after a long illness, 28 August 1851. His widow died 22 May 1906; her will was proved in London, 25 July 1906, and sealed in Dublin (effects in England, £3,196, and in Ireland, £2,135).

Barry, William Norton (1859-1935). Only son of William Norton Barry (1814-71) and his second wife, Elizabeth younger daughter of Sir William Wrixon-Becher, 1st bt., born 20 June 1859. Educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford (matriculated 1878). Master of the Castlecor Beagles, 1880-85 and Master or joint Master of Duhallow Foxhounds, 1886-1919. JP for County Cork and a Member of Kanturk Rural District Council. He married 1st, 3 February 1881 at Bathwick (Som.), Constance Marianne (1855-98), third daughter of Frederick John Walker of The Priory, Bathwick, and 2nd, 1 June 1899 at Castlemagner (Co. Cork), Adelaide Maude (1870-1959), fifth daughter of Sir John Wrixon-Becher, 3rd bt. and Irish women's singles lawn tennis champion, 1911 and 1913, but had no issue.
He inherited the Castle Cor estate (1,023 acres) from his father in 1871. At his death it passed to his widow absolutely. After her death the estate was sold and the house was demolished in 1961.
He died 5 December 1935; administration of his goods was granted to his widow, 14 December 1937 (estate £1,554). His first wife died 22 March 1898; administration of her goods was granted 23 May 1898 (effects £133). His widow died 3 July 1959; her will was proved 21 April 1960 (estate £10,268).

Principal sources

Burke's Landed Gentry of Ireland, 1958, p. 57; J.P. Neale, Views of Seats vol. 3, 1820, no. 65; M. Bence-Jones, A guide to Irish country houses, 2nd edn., 1990, p. 65; M.C. Lyons, Illustrated incumbered estates Ireland 1850-1905, 1993, pp. 45-46.

Location of archives

No significant accumulation is known to survive.

Coat of arms

None recorded.

Can you help?

  • Can anyone provide authoritative information about the identity and antecedents of Richard Barrow?
  • Can anyone provide further information about the ownership of the site of the house since 1960?
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.
  • As always, any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 22 April 2020.


  1. Thanks so much for this fascinating history. My great grandfather William Sheppard and his wife Eliza Barrett we’re servants at Castlecor when they were married in 1856. His wife appears to have come from the Kilbrin area but died young. He later joined the 11th Hussars and is famed as being a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean war.

  2. Ed Flynn, Louisville, KY12 July 2022 at 13:27

    My ancestors lived on this estate (Castle or Demesne) as tenant farmers and smithies before emigrating to the U.S. in 1855. I assume that their families resided on this land for centuries leading up to the Famine. They (Patrick Flynn and Annie Cronin) have countless descendants in the States. I am interested in any and all information I can gather about Castle Cor.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.