Patrick Kissane contributes information about the Books of Distribution and Survey and transcriptions of the Survey for several parishes.
The Books of Survey and Distribution were compiled around 1680. Their main function was to serve as a basis for the taxing of ownership of land. To this end, a list of landowners and their holdings was compiled. It was the Land Registry of its day. The records were compiled on a barony and parish basis. The book was written in copperplate handwriting .
A copy of the Books of Distribution and Survey is kept at the National Archives in Dublin and a copy at the National Library in Dublin. Extracts can be obtained by mail on payment of a small fee.
Under the Brehon law, the clan was regarded as the owner of the land. But under the English common law, the chieftain was regarded as the owner of the land.
During the 100 years to 1680, there had been two confiscations of land and a partial reversal. There was a third and final confiscation in 1690. The first confiscation occurred after the Earl of Desmond's rebellion in 1584. At that time, the land in the areas including Aghadoe, Killcummin, and Killarney were owned by the O' Donoghues. The land of the O'Donoghues was confiscated. A large part of the confiscated land was given to the McCarthys who had taken no part in the rebellion. The remainder of the O' Donoghues land was given to Sir Valentine Browne. Later the McCarthys sold to Sir Valentine Brown some of the confiscated O'Donoghue land that they had received (including Ross Castle).
Although all of the McCarthy lands was confiscated in the Cromwellian Plantation, some of the lands were restored to the McCarthys on the restoration of Charles II in 1660. The restored lands included Pallas, Muckross, Cahernane and Castlelough. Some of these lands, including the castle at Castlelough, remained in the ownership of the McCarthy family until the late 18th century when they were sold by them. The last McCarthy, Florence or Finneen McCarthy,who had a credible claim to be regarded as McCarthy Mor died in London in 1640. The suffix Mor (big) indicates that the person was chieftain of the clan. McCarthy Mor was forced to spend 40 years in exile in London. He wrote a history of Ireland while there, usually called The McCarthy Book. Donal McCarthy of Castlelough (called "Dan the Feathers") also claimed to be McCarthy Mor. His lands were confiscated and then restored. The present-day State-owned Killarney National Park comprises much of the land owned by the O' Donoghues.
Sir Valentine Browne was appointed Auditor-General of Ireland in the mid-sixteenth century and later Surveyor-General. He seems to have carried out his duties so well that he was given a large portion of the land confiscated from the O' Donoghues in 1586. In all, there were 11 Browne's between 1584 and 1952. They later became Earls of Kenmare. Throughout all of this time, they adhered to the Catholic religion. The line and title became extinct in 1952 with the death of the last Lord Kenmare.
This page created January 24, 2013 for County Kerry, Ireland, at roosweb.ancestry.com and Ireland Genealogy Project.