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The Clan Barrett

Okay good friends, here is the coat of arms you are entitled to if you are a Barrett of the Irish route, which apparently my particular branch is. According to family lore my ancestors were Irish but at present we have yet to actually confirm that. We have traced back to an Edward Wells Barrett born in Gloucester around 1811 and are currently trying to work back from that, so standby for more.

"Frangas non Flectes: Virtus Probitas"

 Meaning "Unbowed, Unbroken: Honour and Courage"

My wife would probably say that translates as “Pig-headed, having a memory like an elephant and never knowing when to give up!”

Funny thing is, I never even knew that Barrett was an Irish name until I started Technical College. Whereupon a new found friend (Shamus Keogh) immediately said “Barrett – that’s an Irish name!” well blow me down, there’s me thinking I’m simply the result of mixing between a Cockney dad and a Geordie mum. There were obviously many more breeds mixed up in this particular mongrel. Alas, I haven’t had the time for any further research, perhaps I will when I retire. In the meantime, if any readers know anything about a Charles Barrett appearing in the UK from Ireland around the 1850’s please drop me a line.

Incidentally, although most people call me Ted or Teddy I am really an Edward. So please don’t give me that crap “Call me Francis, not Frank” If that’s the case, you’d better kiss my tush and call me Edward. In fact, I am Edward Barrett the III.

I must say, we do seem to like Edward or Eddie in this particular branch. My son is actually Thomas Edward Barrett, so he could claim to be Edward Barrett the IV.

Now I’ve broached the subject, lets have a look at what Wikipedia has to say about clan Barrett:

The latest genealogical research indicates that clan Barrett originated in medieval Italy, where they were known as Barretti in the northern city of Alessandria, from there they moved on to France where a John Baret, a Norman Knight, mentioned in the Domesday book,went with William the Conqueror to England in 1066 and settled in Pendyne in Wales after the Norman Conquest.

“The Barrett clan descended from the Normans, and trace their ancestry to a John Baret, a Norman Knight, mentioned in the Domesday book, who went with William the Conqueror to England in 1066 and settled in Pendyne in Wales after the Norman Conquest.

The Barretts then migrated to Ireland with the Norman warlord Strongbow (Richard Le Clare, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke) as hired mercenaries at the end of the twelfth century in the Norman Invasion of Ireland.

There are two Barrett clans in Ireland, the first branch of the clan are the Munster Barretts of County Cork, and the other branch is the Barrett clan of Connacht, most numerous in the Mayo-Galway mountainous areas. The two clans were believed to be unrelated before recent research proved otherwise. The English pipe rolls of the 13th century clearly indicate that the overlords of both the Cork and the Mayo Barretts were the same people, and the records further indicate that both families came from Wales. To this day, the Barretts and the Barrys of Connacht are known as "the Welshmen of Tirawley".

The Barretts, along with the Lynotts, are the subject of the old Irish ballad, "The Welshmen of Tirawley".

Castle Barrett (Castel More) is situated on open grassy position south of the town of Mallow. The castle is in ruins, with just a few parts of the walls standing like stone sentinels. The remaining fragments are from the north and east walls. Castle Barrett was built around the 13th century. It was originally known as Castle More or Castlemore. In 1439 it was taken over by the Earl of Desmond. The Barrett family acquired the castle in the 17th century. The castle was damaged in 1645 by Oliver Cromwell's army. After the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, John Barrett who fought on the side of the Jacobites lost to the Williamites. Castle Barrett was destroyed and 12,000 acres of Barrett land was forfeited.

The following passage has been passed down through history: “In this (particular) dispute, the Barrett family had a steward that went to collect Taxes from the Lynott family. The steward was rumoured to have “taken a maid” and the Lynott family killed him and dumped his body in a well near Carncastle.


The Barrett family was enraged and gave the Lynott men the choice of losing their eyes or their manhood. The Lynotts chose their eyes and the Barretts removed them. The Barretts then tested their blindness by making them cross over stepstones at Cloghan an Dallas” The Lynotts then planned revenge for 15 years and trained up a young man (Teoboid Mael Bourke) as their foster son to kill the Barretts. The young man made his stand at the stream of Carnasack, but was killed by the Barrett.”

I reckon all the parts fit. If you have known a Barrett, you will recognise the habit of backing the wrong horse, a fondness for a “drop of the hard stuff”, a love of adventure, and a habit of dropping trousers at weddings and other family occasions (I would like to add “A handsome demeanour and great sense of humour” but that might be pushing it a bit) but the proof is all there.

So then, if that doesn’t take the biscuit, we seem to be of French, Welsh and Irish origin.

In the spirit of this report then, I would like to include an old Irish saying that makes very good sense “There’s very little that can’t be cured by a good laugh and a long sleep” – I’ll drink to that.

As a postscript, the first person to be hanged in Australia was a Thomas Barrett in 1788, at the time of writing I reckon that was about 230 years ago. He was supposed to have stolen some silverware. But when you read about the case it seems more like a set-up. Bloody bastards, when I get over there I’m going to track down the swine’s and their families that set him up.

See what I mean about a long memory! Don’t ever cross a Barrett, would you like to choose between losing your eyes or your manhood?

Prepare to kiss steel, we barely hold a grudge…

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