Thomas Browne, 4th Viscount Kenmare

The title Earl of Kenmare (Lord Kenmare) was created in 1801. Long before this, around 1555, Sir Valentine Browne was granted over 6000 acres in county Kerry after the Desmond Rebellion. The Brownes were a Catholic family and like all Irish Catholic families, their fortunes and the size of their estates fluctuated over the centuries depending on marriage alliances,  political and religious allegiances.  Following the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Catholic Brownes supported King James, portions of their estates were confiscated. A report from the Commissioners in Dublin on the 1688 Forfeitures railed against the great waste committed by those who were granted some of the forfeited woods ‘especially those of Sir Valentine Browne in Kerry, whose woods to the value of £20,000 have been cut down and destroyed’. [1

A large portion of Sir Valentine’s estate was let without his permission for a period ‘not exceeding twenty-one years’ for ‘at least £1,000 per annum less than it was worth’ to ‘John Blennerhassett and George Rogers then members of the Parliament of this Kingdom’.  Both of these gentlemen were presumably Protestant supporters of the victorious King William of Orange.

However ‘ The Earl of Kenmare’s Estate … was happily preserved to his descendants. Queen Mary , granting his wife and children an annuity, which was confirmed by the Privy Seal of William, 29th September 1692. While a reading of the tale of his hardships … and of the trafficking in his hereditary estates by honourable members and English Commissioners, it must however be remembered that just one hundred years before the Boyne, his ancestor, Nicholas Browne had endeavoured to inflict hardships just as great on the widow and heiress of the Mac Carthy Mór, Earl of Clancare, until [Queen] Elizabeth and the Council interfered and required him to restore a large portion of their inheritance’.[2]

By the early 1700s their estates amounted to over 91,000 acres in county Kerry as well as over 22,000 in county Cork and in excess of 400 acres in county Limerick.

Lord Kenmare was one of the principal lessors in the parishes of Aghadoe, Aglish, Currans, Kilcredane, Kilcummin, Killarney, Killeentierna, Kilnanare, Molahiff & Nohavaldaly at the time of Griffith’s Valuation.[3] 

The Kenmare papers deposited in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland [PRONI], which include most of the former contents of the Estate Office at Killarney, amount to well over a ton of records.  Summary of the most significent and interesting content here.

Portions of the Kenmare Estate rent Ledgers (for late 1800s) are digitised and available online on the Muckross House Library website.

Just as I am about to publish this blog, I have seen a great description of the present Killarney House and the last members of the Browne family who lived there on my friend Mary Cogan’s blog.  Well worth having a look here if you are interested in the Brownes.

The original Killarney House in the centre, current Killarney House to the right.
Original Killarney House
Rent book



[1] Hickson, Mary Agnes, Selection from Old Kerry Records. (        ) p. 204.

[2] Ibid p. 216


[4] Ibid.