Lieutenant General Richard O’Donovan of the Enniskillen Dragoons (c1764-1829), Chieftain of the O’Donovans, Bawnlahan, West Cork.
Extract 1841 from letter to Dr. John O’Donovan from Timothy O’Donovan, Esq., J.P, O’Donovan’s Cove, Durrus re Chieftainship of family:
The late General Richard O’Donovan, Lieutenant Colonel of the Enniskillen Dragoons, was undoubtedly the Chieftain of the Clann or Sept of O’Donovan. He died at the family seat of Bawnlahan Barony of Carbery, County of Cork about 11 or 12 years ago. He was married to a Welch lady her name was Powell by whom he had no issue, he left his estate to his wife and upon her death which happened soon after she bequeathed it to her brother a Major Powell a Welch man in whom possession it is at the moment and this ancient seat and property is now in the possession of a Welsh man.
The title of “O’Donovan” was after the General’s death affected by a Protestant Clergyman, Morgan O’Donovan, but the claim was not recognised by the family.
General Richard O’Donovan II, The O’Donovan of Clancahill, born 1764 or 1768, was the son of Jane Becher, daughter of John Becher, and Daniel V O’Donovan, The O’Donovan of Clancahill.
Gaining the rank of General in the service of the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, O’Donovan fought in the Napoleonic Wars, in the Flanders Campaign and in Spain. He became an intimate acquaintance of the English Prince Regent, and saved the life of the Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany during the retreat of the English Army from Holland.
O’Donovan held the Chiefship of Clancahill in 1778. He married a Welsh lady, Emma Anne Powell, daughter of Robert Powell, but they were without issue. Richard O’Donovan then overturned his father’s will and left his entire estates, including the Manor of Bawnlahan, to her family, to the immense displeasure of his own, it being the very last of the O’Donovan family’s by that time 600-year-old estates in Carbery still in existence. He died in 1829, but to this day is remembered with anger. The Chiefship of Clancahill then passed to the cadet line, descendants of Teige, younger brother of Donal III O’Donovan.
Technically the Manor of Bawnlahan was erected in the later 17th century by Donal IV, but it was a descendant of the earlier Manor of Rahine erected by Donal II, on lands conquered by his father Donal of the Skins from a rival sept, the O’Donovans of Sliocht Íomhair. Thus they had been in the possession of the greater family since the 13th century.
Burke, Bernard and Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, Burke’s Irish Family Records. London: Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 5th edition, 1976.
Burke, Bernard and Ashworth Peter Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland. London: Harrison & Sons. 9th edition, 1899. pp. 341–2
Sir Richard Cox, 1st Baronet, Carberiae Notitia. 1686. extracts published in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Volume XII, Second Series. 1906. pp. 142–9
O’Donovan, John (ed. & tr.), Annala Rioghachta Eireann. Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters, from the Earliest Period to 1616. 7 vols. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. 1848-51. 2nd edition, 1856. Volume VI, pp. 2459–60
O’Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees. Dublin: James Duffy and Co. 5th edition, 1892. p. 201