Donal Cam O'Sullivan Beara, Chieftain and Prince of Berehaven  1561 - 1618

donal cam o sullivanDonal Cam O'Sullivan Beara met his untimely death on July 16 1618. As he came from Mass he encountered a duel taking place between His Nephew Philip O' Sullivan and another exiled Irishman from Dublin named John Bath on Plaza de Santo Domingo in Madrid. He was fifty seven years old .

Both men were known to Donal Cam and as he tried to intervene John Bath already wounded in the face, lashed out and struck him first in the arm and then slashed his throat killing him instantly. The King of Spain King Philip 111 had Bath arrested and imprisoned.


Donal Cam O'Sullivan Beara was forty one years old when he left his beloved Berehaven in retreat to O'Rourke's Castle in Leitrim on 31st January 1602. He, along with Allied Forces, including The Spanish in a bid to keep the English out of Ireland were defeated by the English at the Battle of 1601kinsaleKinsale 1601.

The English followed his retreat back to Beara in West Cork and proceeded to take his lands and Castles. His family had been Chieftain's here for over four hundred years. He hid his six thousand  livestock in Derrinafulla Woods to the South of Glengarriff. He hid the elderly, the women and the children on Dursey Island off the south west Coast. The English found and seized the animals, and massacred all of the people on the Island. Tying them back to back, throwing them over the cliff and finally fired their muskets at the survivors.

one hundred and forty six of the best men were left to protect Dunboy Castle. The English Queen, Elizabeth 1, ordered four  - five thousand  soldiers to attack the Castle from Land and Sea. The men tried to blow themselves up with Gun Powder, when an envoy who was sent out with a peace offering was hung in full view of them. The Gun Powder failed to explode as it wasn't dry enough. A Bloody Battle ensued until all one hundred and forty six were dead.

O'Sullivan had already departed for Leitrim by this time. He was left with no choice, as their source of food was taken. He set out from Derrinafulla Woods with four hundred soldiers and six hundred  men, women and children. The weak and the wounded stayed behind to stoke fires which gave him four days before the English discovered that he had left. All who remained were slaughtered.

They endured untold hardship along the way. They were already starving before leaving Cork. Some other Clans joined him along the way as they were to suffer the same fate at the hands of the English. Other Clans turned against him in the hope of gaining favor from the English.  He fought a fierce Battle at Ballyvourney with a local Clan.

O'Sullivan was a wealthy man as we was the Prince of Berehaven, and he also had plenty of Spanish Gold since joining forces with The Spanish at Kinsale. They robbed food where they could, as fear was instilled in the Irish people of their outcome if they gave or sold food to O'Sullivan. The fast flowing waters at the Ford on the Blackwater River stole the lives of many,

A Battle at the River Allow outside Liscarroll took the lives of four family members and wounded a great number of the followers. They marched on leaving some of the wounded behind who were cared for and nursed back to health by the locals, where they settled and their descendants are still known as The Beres today.

imagesThey marched both day and night in fear of being ambushed while they slept. Somewhere North of the Monastic Village of Lorrha they slew some of their remaining horses, ate the meat, and made two boats using Hazel Rods and Horse Hides to cover them. The first boat, the smaller of the two, sank and all on board drowned. They Ferried the remaining followers thirty at a time in the bigger boat during the night while fighting a Battle from the rear as they were ambushed by The McEgan Clan and the English.

At Aughrim they were out numbered by as much as six - one by English troops. O'Sullivan's Army attacked from the centre and succeeded in beating the English. They fled to Sliabh Mhuire [mt. Mary]  twenty  miles away to rest, and tend to the many wounded. Heavy Snow fell over night. The Weak and the Wounded perished from their wounds, exposure and hunger. It is said that numerous bodies were discovered here in shallow graves by the Forestry in 1963.

They marched on to Glinsk Castle where they expected a welcome, but McDavid Burke the local landlord had rounded up the locals and they were told not to revieve them. They tried again, this time bringing Flags and Drums from their victory at the Battle at Aughrim but McDavid Burke was not swayed and had them run from here. Their numbers were greatly depleted by now, some were too frail to go on, some of the soldiers who had been recruited from Connaught left for home.

The remaining group dragged and carried each other through deep snow towards O'Flynn Castle near Ballinlough where they were warmly received. They lit camp fires in the woodland on Sliabh O'Flynn to ward off the night cold and to rest. During the night they were informed that some local factions were planning to attack at first light with intentions to kill all.

They built up the fires, stole out of camp and headed for the Curlew Mt's. It is believed that they took their last rest just above Knockvicar, and from here they crossed The Shannon once again, at Battlebridge Ford 1km From O'Rourke's Castle in Leitrim. On arrival they were welcomed by O'Rourke,

All 35 of them !   16 Soldiers, 18 non combatents and 1 woman, the wife, of O'Sullivan's Uncle Dermot of Carriganass Castle.

qlizzie1Some time later O'Sullivan gathered an Army of three hundred soldiers and headed North to help the O'Neill's fight against the English. On his arrival he discovered that O'Neill was in London and had signed the Treaty not knowing that the Queen was already dead. After the Nine Years War of Irish Alliance against English Rule, The Treaty of Mellifont was signed. The Treaty granted a pardon to all,          .... with....

One Exception.... Donal Cam O'Sullivan Beara. Once again he had no option but to leave, his Country this time. He went to Spain where he was held in high regard by King Philip 111.philipspain

He became a Crusader for Spain. His full length  portrait was commissioned. He was granted the honour of the prestigious Knight's of Santiago, and his title of 1st Count and Prince of Berehaven [Condede Birhaven] was once more bestowed on him. He was given a large house in Santiago and he founded the first Irish College there.

He had a substantial Pension from the Spanish Crown and had on occassion lent money to other Irish Exiles including John Bath. John Bath wanted to maintain peace between Spain and the English in Ireland and hoped for a so-called Spanish match between Prince Charles [heir to King James] and a marriage to a Spanish Infanta.(Princess.)

O'Sullivan up until his death was hoping for a renewal of the War against England and an Invasion of Ireland by the Spanish to facilitate a comeback there of Gaelic Irishmen like himself. The Gaelic Irish exiled in Madrid believed that Bath had turned informer on a recent visit to Dublin and requested that the Spanish send him off to the Navy, rather than have an English agent in their midst. The English, and Bath too, viewed O'Sullivan's, Noble titles as an insult, as they considered the O'Sullivan's to be Barbarians. 

site of college


Resentments had built up with Philip O'Sullivan and other family members regarding the money loaned to Bath, as they felt that he was abusing family favours. After O'Sullivan's death the English sought to have John Bath released from prison as he claimed that he was ambushed by the O'Sullivan's. John Bath signed himself out of Jail with the Title....  Don Juan Bathe y Finglas.

It was a time of political tension across Europe when Catholics and Protestants faced each other in Germany, in what was to become The thirty years War.



the old palace draught over the existing church1

 plaqueto sullivan