The village of Inchigeelagh (Inse Geimhleach or Island of the Hostages), which lies in the beautiful Lee Valley, County Cork, has a long historical link with the O'Learys. The parish in which the village lies is also called Inchigeelagh, but its older name is Iveleary (Uibh Laoghaire or Home of the O'Learys),
The O'Learys are believed to have arrived here in about 1192 AD, having been driven out of their home place in Ross Carbery. The ford over the River Lee in Inchigeelagh (near the present bridge) was defended by a Rath, (an earthen enclosure surrounded by a defensive ditch), called Mannen. This became the main home of the O'Leary Chieftain until round about 1515 A.D. when Carrignacurra Castle, a Tower House, was built a mile outside the village. In about 1565 the O'Leary's built a new Tower House in Carrignaneela, and Donoch O'Leary built a third one in Dromcarra in 1615. However, the O'Leary's were dispossessed of all their property, including all three Tower Houses, during the Williamite War of 1689-90.
For the next hundred years, the people of Inchigeelagh, as throughout Ireland, suffered grievously from Penal Laws, Church Tithes, and the Landlord system. These successfully deprived them of the ownership of land, and the means of self-improvement
During the 19th. Century, this situation began to unwind, partly due to the efforts of such national leaders as O'Connell and Parnell, and to pressure from the growing Revolutionary movements. From the late 19th.century onwards, legislation was passed through the British Parliament allowing farmers to purchase their Freeholds, and so loosening the power of the Landlords. Finally, in 1921, Ireland became a Sovereign Nation.
The Inchigeelagh you see today has been shaped and influenced by all these events.