Chief of the Name

In November, 2009, Liam Trant McCarthy, an Irish citizen currently resident in suburban London (U.K.), was proclaimed as MacCarthy Mór by his family derbhfine(1).

MacCarthy Mór's election as Chief of the Name by his derbhfine represents the traditional Gaelic-Irish method for selecting the chief of a clan: tanistry(2). This aspect of the ancient Brehon law of Gaelic Ireland, unlike the English/European system of succession by primogeniture (i.e., eldest male offspring), ensures that the clan selects the "most able" eligible kinsman for the chiefship - not necessarily the firstborn male.

However, it so happens that Liam Trant McCarthy's succession to the MacCarthy Mór chiefship is also supported on the basis of primogeniture. Liam Trant McCarthy is the eldest male descendant in the most senior extant line of the MacCarthy Mór sept (clan) - that of Sliocht Cormaic of Dunguile, or, The MacCarthys of Srugrena (Lordship of Kerslawny).

The primogeniture-based claim to the MacCarthy chiefship is supported by the June, 2009, verification of Liam Trant McCarthy's pedigree by Norroy and Ulster King of Arms (in Ref. R.P. 09/192). This document also references the pedigree certification by the former Ulster Office of Arms (Ref. Volume 28, 77-78) of the last legitimately-proclaimed MacCarthy Mór, Samuel Trant McCarthy of Srugrena.

MacCarthy Mór's succession to the clan chiefship in 2009 represented the culmination of a process that began in 1997, when Liam's cousin, Barry Trant McCarthy, presented evidence to the then-Chief Herald of Ireland that the person claiming the MacCarthy chiefship at that time was, in fact, not a member of the family eligible for the title. It was subsequently shown that one Terence Francis McCarthy, of Belfast, had no legitimate claim to the MacCarthy Mór Chief of the Name title. (For more detail, see article "The False Chief")

(1) derbhfine - family kin group comprising males descending from a common great-grandfather.

(2) tanistry - Gaelic-Irish successional system based on election by the derbhfine, rather than by primogeniture. (See "Of Interest" article on "Tanistry") by The O'Cahan.)

Liam Trant McCarthy, The MacCarthy Mór

Liam Trant McCarthy, The MacCarthy Mór, Chief of the Name, Head of the Ancient Royal Houses of Munster and Desmond, styled as Prince of Desmond, was born December 27, 1957, in what was then Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe).

He began his education at St. Andrew's, a Catholic boarding school in Malawi, and then, in 1964, moved with other members of his family to England, where he completed his academic training in London. In order to pursue a career in the automotive industry, he engaged in further coursework in motor vehicle and design engineering. As an adult, in the 1980s and 90s, he again returned to Africa, this time as a resident of South Africa.

Even some of his hobbies are technically-oriented - for example, he enjoys building and riding motorcycles, and often exhibits at motor vehicle shows. Fishing is another favored pastime for MacCarthy Mór.

To assure the proper succession of his hereditary titles as Chief of the Name and Prince of Desmond, MacCarthy Mór has designated as his Tanist his only son, Alexander William (b. 1997). In keeping with the tradition of the Royal House, MacCarthy Mór has bestowed his own secondary title, the Lordship of Kerslawny, to his son and Tanist, Alexander William McCarthy.