Posted by Seoirse on 9/16/2009 in Family Legends | Genaology

Why was Dominick Ferriter so important in the history of the Ferriter Family?

In simplest terms, he was the first “modern” Ferriter. The evidentiary artifacts that are coming to light regarding the events of Dominick’s life bring to mind several ideas: one, that Dominick strived to conform in all matters save faith – which was not a problem during his lifetime in that Charles II and James II were at least “closet” Catholics themselves. Two, he strived to maintain his “Gentleman” status, probably to the detriment of the “cadet” line of his supposed half brother Maurice. These attitudes passed along to succeeding generations, led his line into conformity, sale of remaining holdings in Ballyferriter, movement away from the Dingle, away from Kerry, and ultimately the fading away of that line. Ironically, the line seems to have become extinguished in England, perhaps fittingly.

In search of Englishry.

Dominick’s Father, Piaras may have recognized his historical ancestry, and hence felt some loyalty to the crown. That said, Piaras most certainly was raised with the knowledge that his family had been centuries – long allies of the Desmond FitzGeralds, and that these friends had been exterminated by the English Tudors, along with many of his kinsmen. He spoke and wrote in Classical Irish, and most likely often dressed in the traditional manner, as his father and grandfather almost certainly had. In balance Piaras lived and behaved as a Gaelic Irishman – as had many of the “Old English” before him. He is remembered as an Irishman.

Dominick must be regarded as a man in transition. More so than Piaras, his life seems to have been lived under arms, and not simply serving an Irish cause. Both he and his brother Richard were no doubt under the flag of Munster at Knocknanuss when Lord Inchquin and his English defeated Lord Taaffe and the Army of Munster in 1647, and where Richard was taken prisoner. Following Muskerry’s surrender at Ross castle in 1651, where in both Dominick and his brother Richard seemed to have been part of the garrison, Muskerry took Irish troops into service on the continent. These men were a part of the generation-spanning migration of Irish soldiers, loosely term “The Wild Geese”. Dominick and Richard were both among them.

After the Cromwellian victory, depleting Ireland of trained and able soldiers, both officers and rank and file, served the interest of England. Any Irish fighter off the island was one less potential soldier to be met in the field. So, permits were granted for Lord Muskerry and others to enlist and transport thousands of recently defeated Irish soldiers to the continent, and offer their services to foreign sovereigns. Many simply joined the army of the Prince of Wales, (soon to be Charles II), while others were offered essentially to the highest bidder. Of Muskerry’s men, some went initially to Poland, to fight the Swedes and the Ukrainians. Others went to Bordeaux, where regiments were mustered to fight in several conflicts that existed, principally between Spain, France, and Austria. Dominick served under foreign flags for eight years.

Upon his return, Dominick, who had not been a part of the blanket restorations offered those who has served directly in Charles’ army in France, petitioned vigorously for restoration. That high politics must have been at play is underscored by the individual nature of his restoration, and the rank of his sponsors.

That Dominick tried to live like an English gentleman following his return seems clear. That he laid the course for his line, in terms of their struggle to maintain social position, business dealings, and eventual conformance to Church of Ireland Protestantism also seems clear. Yet, he must also have been instrumental in cementing the notion that the “King’s Cause” should be adhered to in 1688, which certainly proved key in the final dénouement of the Catholic Irish.

Finally, events that transpired a generation after his death, with his great niece and nephew selling the remainder of the landholdings and moving away, and his own great grand daughters marrying into prominent local families divorced from “Irishry” - all betoken the breadth of the chasm that had emerged between the “a mhaola” Feiritears and his own lineal descendants.

Feiritears remaining in Dunurlin were forced into the peasantry. Ultimately this may have been the salvation of the Irish nature of our family. Penal Laws, Evictions, famine, immigration – all of the defining traumas of the “real” Irish during successive generations were experienced by the Ferriters. Marking us and making us.

Would our family have fared better as people on this world had we been embraced by Dominick, taken an early conversion, and ascended as did so many FitzGeralds, Trants, Rices, and Husseys? Might a Ferriter have been the acquisitor of local lands on the cheap, and styled themselves “Lord Ferriter” in lieu of Mullen, alias de Molyens, Lord Ventry. Who knows what alternative outcomes may have played out had Dominick not been who he was?

Despite the generations of pain and anguish – despite the suffering – we are all who we are in some way due to Dominick.

Dominick Ferriter, a warrior chief of the clan, in his own way and in his own time.


Archived comments:

michele said...
How are we all in someway what we are dut to Dominick?


5 December 2009 10:17


Seoirse said...
There are two aspects of the couse of action Dominick followed that have reverberated through the generations: (1) He appears to have "divorced" his line - the line of primogeniture from other Ferriter lines that may have been extant while he lived. For better or worse, his successors followed this path. I believe that this supports the notion that Piaras had a second family - one that was never accepted by Dominick, and excluded from patrimony, however scant it was. So thanks to Dominick, we had "gentry" Ferriters, and the "a mhaola" or dispossessed Ferriters. The second thing that he did, was despite his exclusion of the other Ferriter lines of the time, he did adhere to Catholicism - it was only at the time of his grandson, the second Dominick that any Ferriters conformed. By that time,(the 1730s), it was too late for the "gentry" Ferriters to gain much by becoming Protestants - if he had done it himself, then history probably would have played out much, much differently for the Ferriters. So choices that Dominick made had a profound impact all the way down to us...and these were choices - whereas, it is difficult to imagine that Piaras, given his acculturation and "irishness" ever would have had concious decisions regarding these things. Dominick did.



9 December 2009 13:59

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Know Your Ancestors

Catherine Ferriter

photo b. 1840
d. 11 Jan 1913

Catherine Ferriter was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in about 1840. She was the daughter of John and Honora (Fitzgerald) Ferriter. The family moved to Tioga County, Pennsylvania, soon after her birth, and she lived the rest of her life in that area. She married Edward Mitchell, originally from Dublin, Ireland, around 1856, and they lived in the Morris Run and Fallbrook, Pennsylvania, area.  My mother's notes have her described as a redhead, with a great sense of humor. Edward and Catherine were the parents of at least eleven children, many of whom passed away fairly young. One of those children was my grandfather, Michael Mitchell.... Read More