The Earls of Clancarty

To return again to the family which made Ballinasloe - at the time of the Battle of AughrimFrederick Trench had become a substantial landowner, but without political importance. His brother John was a Protestant divine. Their great opportunity came during the Williamite War. John had been acting as a spy, even crossing to England in May 1690 with others in an open boat to give full particulars to King William of the conditions in Ireland. Fate willed it that the line of retreat from Athlone lay through Ballinasloe and the battle of Aughrim was fought in sight of the hills of Garbally. Frederick Trench according to the family tradition threw open his house as a hospital to the Williamites and he and John gave active assistance on the day of the battle, pointing out the pass where the Williamites were enabled to attack the left flank of the Irish army. For his services John was made Dean of Raphoe and is the ancestor of the Barons Ashtown.

Frederick Trench's son, Frederick who succeeded to Garbally on his father's death in 1704 became politically one of the strongest men in County Galway. In 1803 he was High Sheriff of the County; in 1715 Colonel Commandant of one of the regiments fo military dragoons there and in the same year one of the Knights of the Shire for County Galway, which post he held till his death in 1752. His son, Richard, who succeeded him, already since 1734 sat in Parliament for the borough of Banagher and from 1761 to 1768 as a Knight of the Shire for County Galway. He married in 1732 Francis, only daughter of David Powerof Cooreen and by her the Trench family acquired all the Power estates in the baronies of Leitrim, Dunkellin and Loughrea as well as the Keating estates in Kilkenny, Carlow and Dublin, which she inherited from her mother.

The Power alliance was of great consequence to the Trench family, for in addition to the vast increase in wealth, it brought them ancient titles to Norman and Irish nobility. Her father, David Power of Coorheen was a descendant of the Norman Sir Geoffrey Le Poer of Dunisle in the County Cork and their Cromwellian grant in County Galway included some of the territory of the original grant in Kenmoy in the barony of Leitrim to Eustace Le Poer the Munster baron in1301. The great-great-grandmother of Francis Power was the daughter of Cormac McCarthy, Viscount Muskerry, a descendant of Dermot McCarthy Mor, king of Munster and a sister of Donough, second Earl of Clancarty who was outlawed in the time of Charles II. On that slender connection the Earldom of Clancarty was regranted to the Trench family after the Union.

Richard Trench was succeeded by his son William Le Poer Trench in 1770. He sat in Parliament till 1797, being one fo those rewarded for government services after the dissolution of Parliament in that year. He was created Baron Kilconnell of Garbally, was Commandant of the Galway regiment of militia and opposed the French landing at Bantry in 1797. Voting first with the whigs in Parliament he had come over to Pitt about 1791. He had married in 1762 Anne Gardiner, sister of Viscount Mountjoy.

His son, Richard, born in 1767 was educated in Cambridge, called to the bar in 1793 and became MP for County Galway in 1797. He married Henrietta Staples, daughter of John Staples of Lissane in County Tyrone and a relation of the Earl of Castlereagh. He supported the Pitt administration and in 1799 voted against the Union, but in 1800 he voted for it, influenced it was said by Castlereagh and the promise of an earldom. He gained his reward. His father who was also active in the house of Lords was made a Viscount in 1801 and Earl of Clancarty in 1803 and his brother became the last Protestant Archbishop of Tuam.

Thus within two hundred years did the family which began with the humble parson of Clongell reach the highest ranks of the peerage. This they achieved through their easy acquisition of confiscated lands, through judicious marriage alliances and indeed to some extent by chance. The Cromwellian confiscation gave them their first opportunity. Their adherance to the Williamite cause gained them preferment. Francis Power of Coorheen brought them wealth and a semblance of ancient nobility while their alliance with Castlereagh and their betrayal at the union gained them an earldom.

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