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THE EMERALD ISLE
The O’Driscolls were powerful chiefs in West Cork, being originally lords of the whole southwest of that county, the baronies of Carbery, Beare and Bantry. The surname comes from the Irish Ui hEidirsceoil, grandson of Eidirsceol (meaning “go-between” or “bearer of news”). The original Eidirsceol from whom descent is reputed to have lived in the mid tenth century.
The name is one of the very few to be clearly identified with the Érainn, or Fir Bolg, Celts who were settled in Ireland well before the arrival of the Gaels. Although the evidence is sparse, before the eighth century A.D. what is now Co. Cork appears to have been populated mainly by tribes of Érainn descent, including the Corca Laoighde tribal grouping of whom the Uí hEidirsceoil were the chief family.
Baltimore was the seat of O’Driscolls, and gets its name (“Baile an Tighe Mór”) from their castle or great house. From the twelfth century, the Annals describe the O’Driscolls as kings of the Corca Laoighde.
A further indication of their power comes in their inclusion in the Gaelic genealogies; although they were not ethnic Gaels, a lineage was produced for the family to connect them to Lughaidh Laidhe, a supposed descendant of Milesius, the progenitor of the Gaels. Such was respectability in medieval Ireland.
Some indication of the strength of awareness of the past can be found in the history of the surname itself: in 1890, over 90% of those bearing the name recorded themselves as “Driscoll” while today, in a remarkable reversal of the nineteenth-century trend, virtually all are called “O’Driscoll”. Their arms reflect the family’s traditional prowess as seafarers, developed during their long lordship of the sea-coast around Baltimore.
After flying to Dublin, Cork or Shannon airports, trains, buses or automobiles will take you to the seaport village of Baltimore.
There isn’t a prettier place to spend a sunny afternoon waiting to catch the ferry for Cape Clear Island.
About 20 minutes into the 45 minute boat ride, the ferry approaches the eastern cliffs of Cape Clear and the Driscoll homestead comes into view.
After you arrive in North Harbor, it’s a short walk down Main Street before arriving at the little white house at the far east end of the island.
You’ll receive a warm welcome followed by dinner with a view.
And a relaxing evening by the fire with friends.
The mornings sunrise over the Celtic Sea will announce the dawn of a new day, to explore the natural beauty of Cape Clear.
Discover the O’Driscoll Castle built in 1492 or the more modern Napoleonic Watch Tower built in 1795.