Skip to main content

Full text of "Elizabethan Ireland, native and English"

See other formats


thj: padh^ig ua gasaide 
memorial collection 





't^ i' 




f t|^ S 




Elizabethan Ireland 






Middle Abbey Street. 

D^ ?J 7 









Taaffe's, MacGeoghegan's, D'Arcy M'Gee's, O'Driscoirs, 

Cambden's, Ware's, Lawless', Daunt's. 
O'Sullivan's Story of Irelaiid. 
O'Sullivan Beare's Ireland under Elizabeth. 
O'Connell's Memoir. Joyce's Social History, 
Four Masters, translation of. 
Lanigan's Ecclesiastical History, 

Historical MSS. and Memoirs. 

Halliday MSS., Hatfield MSS., Calendar of Carew MSS., Stat« 

Papers, O'Curry's Lectures, Ancient History (Irish). 
Mitchell's Life of Hugh O'Neill. 
O'Clery's Life of Hugh Roe O'Donnell. 
M'Carthy Glas, Life of Florence MacCarthy More, 
Life and Times of Sir Peter Carew, Knt. 
Sir W. Raleigh in Ireland. — Pope Hennessy. 
Sir R. Cary, Memoirs of, Fragmenta Regalia, Sir R. Naunton. 
Cobbett's History of Refoymation. 
Spenser's View, etc., of Ireland. 
Ireland and the Holy See, Nevin. 
The Pacata Hihernia. 
Davies, Sir Jno., Discovery of the, etc 
Maritime Ports of Ireland, 
Lynch's Cambrensis Eversus 


Works of Spenser, Campion, Hanmer and Marlborough, Hogan, 

Goode, Stanihurst. 
Moryson's Itinerary. 
Wakeman's Archeologica Hihernica. 
Ginnel's Brehon Laws. 
Grose's Antiquities, Ireland. 
Sainthill's Old Countess of Desmond. 
O'Grady's Bog o' Stars, etc. 
The Journals of various Historical and Archaeological Societies. 



Introduction ....... vii 


Physical aspect — Communications — Climate — Products — Changes i 


Population — Racial — Physical characteristics — Mental character- 
istics — Food — Drink — Dress — Language — Customs — 
Marriage customs — Fosterage — Domestic — Castles — Dangers 
of roads, etc. — Learning — Medicine — Handicrafts — Printing 
— Agriculture — Maritime — Sport — Amusements — Keeners 
— General conditions . . . . .16 


Urban exclusiveness — Nationality — Effects of exclusiveness — 
Walled towns — Tra< le — The coinage — Self-government — 
Daily life — Dress — Change in religious feeling — Effects of the 
wars ........ 77 


Brehon laws — Land laws — Society — King — Nobles — Professional 
class — Artizans and mechanics — Farmers — Churls — Legal 
status ........ 96 


Incitements to disorder — The Scots — The Fitzgeralds and 
Butlers — Sept and family disputes — Effect of legal disqualifi- 
cations — Personal grievances — Unfit officials — Character of 
nobles and chiefs — Effect of internal dissensions . .118 




Foreign relations — English authority — Domestic administration — 
Financial — Mutual relations — Official machinery — Ofificials — 
Raleigh, Carew, Sidney, Essex, Perrott — Treatment of terri- 
torial magnates — Settlements — Composition of Connauijht — 
English activity — Decline of English power — Extermination 142 


Irish relations with Rome — Other factors — Ecclesiastical proper- 
ties — Condition of religion — Irish participation in the dispute 
— Foreign influence — Foreign clerics — Official methods — 
Religious persecution — Final attitude of Irish . .180 


Erroneous impressions concerning Irish soldiers — Employment of 
Irish soldiers — i6th century Irish soldiers — Galloglasses — 
Kernes — The Irish attack — Pipers — Cavalry — Mercenaries — 
Paucity of fire-arms — Equipment and organization — English 
soldiers — Locality and defeats — Descriptions of operations — 
Some Irish leaders — Battle of the Blackwater — Irish leaders, 
continued — Personal leading — Numbers — Essex's army — 
Truces — Mountjoy's campaign — Kinsale— O'Sullivan Beare's 
march — End of the wars ..... 208 


Attributed to the Irish — Authorities for — Official attitude — 
Specific instances of — Captain Cuellar — Don Luzon's division 
—Official participation in — Connection of Irish chiefs with — 
Spanish attitude — Figures ... 268 


UNTIL quite recently the reproach of want of 
knowledge of their country's history, levelled at 
Irishmen by Dean Swift, bore on the face of it 
such an impress of truth that it was held to be a national 
characteristic, and as such irremovable. Various 
reasons in explanation of this national ignorance have 
been given, not the least of them that the national 
history was for Englishmen to study, not Irishmen. 

This old-time sophism has recently been revived, 
and though in the past it has done yeoman's service 
to the decriers of Irish nationalism, the present 
generation will ignore its harmful tendency if English- 
men, when acting on its advice, take as their guides 
other histories than those in which grace of style and 
purity of language have been made vehicles for the 
dissemination of political and racial misconceptions 
and antipathies. 

The suggestion that to Irish people their country's 
history should continue a sealed book must have been 
made in the belief that nothing stimulative of true 
patriotism is to be found in its pages, or else, that 
what is recorded in them had better be forgotten. In 
either case a belief directly at variance with the best 
class of Irish thought. 


Irish writers of the last century frequently insisted 
that if their countrymen ever became a nation it would 
be through a consciousness of their past history. 
There are unmistakable signs that this awakening is 
taking place. What has been termed the Gaelic 
revival is firmly established all over the country, is 
influencing more and more the daily life of the people, 
and arousing a desire for a better knowledge of the 
past. As this knowledge is acquired, what has hitherto 
passed for statecraft in their Governors and ruling 
classes will be closely scrutinised, and with the result 
future Governments will have to reckon. 

The Empire has recently been engaged in a struggle 
of almost vital importance. In the course of it Irish- 
men repeatedly demonstrated they were quite as 
determined to preserve what their forefathers assisted 
to acquire as the other members of the British family 
were, thereby establishing both a claim to be con- 
sidered at one with the other members of the Empire 
in all that makes for that Empire's advancement and 
permanence, and to a happier understanding with the 
remainder of the family. 

With all sections of the nation in this unusually 
tolerant mood there can be no better time for reviewing 
the much disputed events of a vastly interesting 
period. Other recent occurrences also render the 
present particularly suitable for a revisal of some pre- 
viously accepted historical theories and beliefs. We 
have assisted at the making of history on a large scale, 
and have experienced the difficulty of arriving at an 
undisputed conclusion upon facts well within common 


knowledge. In an age of instantaneous publicity we 
have seen other nations deliberately misreading 
evidence, denying facts, and insisting upon the 
occurrence of incidents humanly impossible. 

In addition to making us more liberal this experience 
should give us pause upon any subject of historical 
controversy. Fortunately, there is a tendency in this 
direction. Nothing now is taken for granted. We 
have become sceptical and hypercritical, and must 
have conclusive proofs. The fierce light of scientific 
research beating upon the historic as well as the 
human problem, upon the mud cabin as well as the 
throne, has taught the value of information hitherto 
undreamt of. Workers and thinkers in the great 
army of scientists are bringing to light currents of 
thought and influences which, followed up, may account 
for many of the incomprehensible vagaries of national 
action. In the theory of heredity we find that the key 
to many obscure individual characteristics is to be 
found in remote influences and environments long since 
forgotten or neglected. Cause and effect are as 
constant and undeviating in the nation as in the 
individual. May we not here find, if not a solution, 
at least a clue, to generations of ineffectual attempts 
to understand or make allowances for national pecu- 
liarities and prejudices. 

In the belief that no correct or permanent solution of 
the Irish problem can be attained unless based upon 
a true knowledge of the people, their hereditary feelings 
and failings, their lines of thought, and the motives 
actuating them, the following pages are an endeavour 


to assist this enlightenment by impartially depicting 
(without claiming the dignity of history) the 
country and its inhabitants during the reign of Queen 

The historical importance of the Elizabethan period 
in Ireland is incalculable. It was the period when an 
alien Government, threatened by the growth of new. 
and the rejuvenescence of old, dangers, deliberately 
determined upon imparting to the physical aspect of 
the country, and the political and social institutions of 
its people, the impress of their modern form. The 
period during which all the differences that for 
upwards of three centuries have plagued the country, 
and strained every interest connected with it, had 
their inception. Truly a seed time, of which subse- 
quent generations have reaped the harvest. 

In England it was an era of adventure and land 
hunger. A phase in the literary and exploratory 
activity of the time. Men's minds were inflamed by 
visions of an unattainable material prosperity, and 
possessed by a passion for new discoveries and the 
planting of settlements. Unfortunately for those to 
whom this planting of settlements meant removal 
from their ancestral homes, undisguised ruthlessness 
reigned supreme everywhere. Inhumanity was common 
to all nations and every sect. 

Happily the present generation is scarcely able to 
comprehend the brutal savagery of the i6th century. 
That it is necessary to revive instances of it, if we are 
to understand the events they led up to or sprang 
from, must be accepted as justification for mentioning 


them. Instead of, on the one side, invoking the aid 
of casuistry to discover symptoms of religious zeal in 
the perpetrators of these horrors ; or, on the other, 
picturing them in the strongest possible light to the 
exclusion of all other events, we prefer to consider 
them as the ordinary recognised methods of the time. 
Only in this spirit of toleration is it possible to read 
dispassionately of the Elizabethan subjugation of 
Ireland. Wanting it, no matter how little of the 
Gael there may in our blood or sympathies, a feeling 
of hostility to the victors is engendered by their 

The period was, moreover, one when public faith 
and private truth were alike disregarded, when the 
honour of the soldier had ceased to imply an obliga- 
tion or command respect, and the profession of a 
common religion overrode the claims of nationality. 

In contradiction of the theory that national progress 
cannot take place in the absence of general private 
worth, the Elizabethan period was remarkable for an 
unprecedented advance in material prosperity and the 
arts. A growth not general throughout the country, 
but restricted to the Court, the capital, a few towns, 
and the country adjoining them. The outlying parts 
of the Kingdom were quite as benighted as many 
parts of Ireland. Therefore, when assessing the 
value of descriptions of Ireland by Spenser, and 
contemporary Englishmen, we must not forget they 
had been accustomed to Court, college, or town life in 
their own country. Forced to dwell near the bogs of 
Dartmoor, on the Yorkshire moors, or in the bleak 


Fell country, they would have been among a people 
equally strange in language, manners, and customs, 
with the wild Irish. 

For depicting the social intimate life of the 
Elizabethan Irish we have but few of the sources of 
information fortunately available in the sister countries. 
State documents and chronicles, when condescending 
to notice such trivial details, did so perfunctorily ; so 
that we are forced to rely upon the descriptions and 
inferences of a few writers to whom the possibility ot 
their writings becoming objects of national interest 
centuries afterwards never presented itself. 

In State papers and contemporary official narratives, 
the authorities usually drawn upon by English writers 
for their knowledge of Elizabethan Ireland, we find 
public events portrayed with all the minuteness ot 
recent and familiar occurrences, and invested with 
the local and periodic colouring necessary to their 
comprehension, by those who had exceptional oppor- 
tunities for knowing them. Invaluable and indispen- 
sable as this material is, there is all the more reason 
when using it to recollect that the writers were 
influenced by current prejudices and similar causes to 
those which produced, or rendered possible, what they 
record. That, in many cases, they emanated from, 
or were inspired by, individuals whose reputation and 
interest depended upon the people they criticise being 
represented in the worst possible light. That, in fact, 
they are simply ex parte statements. "At a distance 
from the supreme seat of power, and with the 
advantage of being able to make such repre- 


sentations of the state of Ireland as they pleased, the 
English vicegerents acted with the less reserve." ^ 
In addition, to utilise the material provided by one 
side only, when material equally authentic is available 
from the other, is the work of a partisan ; no matter 
upon which side engaged. To this practice, and the 
equally common one of presenting facts, divested of 
their surroundings and thus rendered misleading, 
many of the errors popularly received can be traced. 
Two of the worst offenders in this respect are Lord 
Macaulay and Mr. Froude. Though the most widely 
read, they were not the only travellers in a region of 
prejudice and malevolence. The early Victorian 
period was singularly prolific in matters inimical to 
an unbiassed consideration of Irish polemics, past or 
present. Catholic Emancipation and Repeal had 
induced feelings and created animosities particularly 
galling to the English public. Never before had the 
nation been bearded as they were then. Consequently 
the national resentment appears in every sphere of 
national activity, literature particularly. No serious 
writer of any notoriety escaped the infection ; and no 
writer whose opinions have been coloured by the litera- 
ture of that period has escaped its poisonous influence. 
Macaulay — the Napoleon of historians — brings into 
the field of dispute an immense army of authorities ; 
his sentences move forward to their objective with 
the stately and rythmical tread of victorious veterans ; 
his command of large and beautiful similes enables 
him to launch them at the most vulnerable part of an 

1 Leland. 


opponent. Reason itself becomes prisoner to the 
force of illustration culled from all quarters and all 
branches of learning, and neither surprise nor doubt is 
felt at the conclusions reached. Nothing leads us 
to discover that the victory has been gained as much 
by what was left unnoticed as by what was proved. 
That, in fact, the gifted author is a partisan of partisans. 
In his descriptions of Ireland there is nothing in itself 
improbable. Granting that .the poverty and condition 
of the country were as his authorities allege, they 
were not so for the reasons he gives alone. Had 
equal prominence been given to the fact that for 
nearly one hundred years previous to the Revolution, 
Ireland had been the theatre of a warfare compared 
with which the Thirty or Seventy Years' Wars 
resembled campaigns between mediaeval Italian 
States, the backwardness and poverty of country 
and people would have been attributed to the right 
causes, and not, as now, quoted in proof that Irishmen 
were incapable, not alone of self-government, but even 

Turning to the other offender, Mr. Froude, it is 
doubtful whether, despite his brilliancy of style, 
learning, and industry, his religious experiences did 
not unfit him to give an impartial description of the 
people now notorious for devotion to the tenets and 
professors of Roman Catholicism. To many readers 
his history appears to have been conceived and written 
solely in glorification of the English Reformation, a 
motive and treatment which at once puts him out of 
court as far as the Irish are concerned. 


Modern histories dealing with the Elizabethan 
period, by Irishmen, are numerous enough. In literary- 
power and ability they are generally inferior to those 
of the other side, and the majority of them labour under 
the disadvantage of inability to separate the religious 
from purely mundane matters. In the critical faculty 
necessary to an historian, scholarship and style, the 
late Mr. Lecky furnishes a notable exception to this 
generalisation, and is worthy of comparison with any- 
English writer. Unfortunately for the educative 
effect of his historical works, many of his countrymen 
entertain an idea that the former atmosphere of 
Trinity College, and too great reliance upon hostile 
authorities, have resulted in their perpetuating some 
of the erroneous conclusions writers of other nation- 
alities have been instrumental in circulating. 

One of the best, from the national point of view, 
summaries of Irish histories, but little known in 
England, is from the pen of O'Connell the Liberator. 
Dedicated to the late Queen, it contains nothing to 
which exception can be taken. The form certainly is 
unusual, and was, no doubt, selected with professional 
instinct as that in which the most telling advocacy 
could be brought to bear, in a very strong case, 
against the misgovernment of which O'Connell was 
so consistent a denouncer. 

Unfortunately for Ireland, she has never numbered 
amongst her sons a writer combining Sir Walter 
Scott's scholarly knowledge of former times with his 
delightful power of story-telling. Nor has she, until 
very lately, been distinguished by the appreciation 


of Royalty. Had such been her good fortune, 
Elizabethan Irishmen might now be the lay figures 
round which a mighty pen had woven romances 
illustrating the tragedy and pathos inseparable from 
the imposition of a different civilization, laws, and 
rehgion, on a people accustomed for centuries to a 
code of laws, a faith, and society, primitive though 
not barbaric, eminently suitable to their country, 
mode of thought, and environment. 

In the chapter on English policy the wholesale 
confiscations and spoliations of landed estates have 
been considered the keynote. Should any reader be 
inclined to doubt either cause or effect, a knowledge 
of the career of the great Earl of Cork (differing only 
in the magnitude of his acquisitions from scores of 
other English officials) will afford matter for hesita- 
tion, if no more. Morally indefensible but politically 
expedient as was the policy of Queen Elizabeth's 
officials, after an interval of 300 years the Ministers 
of another English Sovereign have practically reversed 
it The land is again being vested in the class from 
which it was originally taken, with the difference that 
the chiefs and nobles formerly personifying the State 
are now represented by the State itself. 



Physical Aspect. — Though from whatever direc- 
tion Ireland is approached it presents a mountainous 
aspect, ranges of hills intersecting it on all sides, in 
reality the greater part of the country is an immense 
shallow basin with the mountains for a rim. On the 
east coast — that nearest to Europe — this hilly margin 
approaches the coast line. A natural feature which 
has proved of considerable importance in the history 
of the country, for all authenticated or recent invasions 
of any permanency, having started from that direction 
and secured a footing, were able to descend into the 
plains of the midlands at will. 

Formerly these natural barriers, as well as the hill 
features away from the coast, were large and dreary 
highlands, boggy in character, of purple colour and 
wild appearance, assisting, with the heather-covered 
hills of the north and west coasts, to contribute to 
the diversified picturesqueness of the landscape, but 
furnishing little to the comfort of the dwellers on 

A large and low watershed forms the central portion 
of the Island. From this numerous rivers and streams 
derive their source, and gain volume from the boggy 



hills, through gaps in which they find their way to 
the coasts. Prior to the seventeenth century the 
winter rains converted many of these streams into 
raging torrents, overflowing their erstwhile banks, 
and forming extensive lakes, large bogs, and morasses 
with great patches of rushes and long grass. 

The frequent repetition of the Irish word for oak in 
place names, as in Derry, etc., and the reduced beds 
of most rivers, indicates in quite recent times much 
larger areas of forest than now exist. As late as the 
sixteenth century, several forests of enormous extent 
still remained intact. One large rectangular shaped 
wood covered the whole country between Limerick 
and Mallow in one direction, and Tipperary in the 
other. In the midlands the great forest of Devlin 
had not entirely disappeared, and Dublin was fringed 
with extensive woods. Others stretched from the 
east coasts across to Connemara. In Leix (Queen's 
County) a pass three miles long divided a forest of 
great timber mingled with hazel. Connaught and 
Ulster were covered with thick woods also. In all of 
them, mighty oaks with wide spreading boughs and 
gnarled trunks, reared their heads from amidst thick 
furze and bracken, and, with numbers of gigantic ash, 
alders, yews, and hollies, the latter, from their size, 
claiming to be forest trees, forbade access or rendered 
movement in any direction, except to those acquainted 
with the concealed paths, almost impossible. Wolves, 
wild hogs, red deer, and foxes roamed these forests, 
obtaining shelter and breeding grounds in the dense 
undergrowth and thickets, where the ground was 


always moist, and the noxious miasma exhaling from 
it effectually prevented the inroads of the natural 
enemy, man. 

Distin:tive and numerous as these wooded areas 
were, the presence of water in the large lakes, copious 
rivers, and streams meandering in many cases through 
extensive bogs, was an equally marked feature. Bogs 
also, whether in the low-lying ground or on the 
summits of the smaller hills, were equally noticeable. 
Ulster was said to contain six large specimens, while 
Connaught, between woods and bogs, was so impass- 
able, that before Elizabeth's time it had not, to any 
extent, come under English rule. Other districts 
were but little inferior in both bogs and morasses. 
So much so that in the first attempt at land legislation 
they were, until improved, specially exempted from 
any taxation. 

Many of these water-logged areas having been 
drained their place names now alone remain to prove 
their former existence. But in this, as in many other 
instances, it is still possible, from the preservation in 
MS. records as late as the seventeenth century of the 
old custom of deriving topographical nomenclature 
from physical and other features, to reconstruct the 
whole surface of the country. 

Three hundred years ago, as a basis for taxation, 
it was computed there were more than ten million 
English acres of presumably cultivable land. In a 
recent official return, from a total of twenty million 
acres, fifteen million are similarly described. Assum- 
ing the areas from which these calculations were made 


to be the same, it follows, that whereas half the total 
area formerly was wood, bog, barren mountain land, 
or water, now the proportion is but one-fourth. 

In its entirety a land truly, though paradoxically, 
described as one of wood and water : where the sough 
of wind through trees, and sound of many waters, was 
seldom absent. 

Beyond the well-wooded eastern and midland 
districts the country presented a more open appear- 
ance. On the islets of Carbery and the West, as on 
the rugged stony hillocks of the northern coast, there 
were fewer woods, deep yellow furze taking their 
place. But on all alike, mainland and islands, hills 
and plains, interspersed between marsh and bog, forest 
and furze, immense areas of rich pasture lands — waste 
deserts full of grass — silent evidences of nature's 
bounty, afforded ample sustenance to numerous herds 
of black cattle and swine, flocks of sheep and goats, 
and troops of the native horse. 

Though not enclosed to the present extent, the 
large fields were variously fenced with ditches and 
banks, stakes intertwined with twigs or withes, thorn 
hedges, or rudely built stone walls. Too often, neglect 
or intentional destruction by removing all pretence 
from these fences of their original functions, whether 
as shelter for the domesticated animals, or bounds to 
their wandering, gave the land an unkempt appear- 

Indications of agriculture, husbandry, and fruit 
cultivation were to be seen on all sides. Faint in some 
places, varied in others by large tracts of desolate 


moor and upland, on which nature assiduously strove 
to remove all traces of man's destructive handiwork. 
As the century passed, all appearance of cultivation 
in the Irish districts practically disappeared, except 
in the neighbourhood of the walled towns and places 
dominated by the castles of nobles or chiefs. In the 
debatable land, neglected fields and meadows denoted 
English attempts at occupation long before the newly- 
built fort or garrisoned castle was perceived. 

Wanting the red appearance of the newly-ploughed 
fields, or the yellow tinge of harvest time, the greater 
portion appeared dark and rugged, the prevailing 
sombreness relieved only by the radiance of lakes and 
streams. The exception was the Pale, or English 
territory, and that principally from contrast with the 
war-desolated lands fringing it. Later, this, too, 
lost the tilled and wealthy appearance Lord Deputy 
Sidney wrote in commendation of. 

On the borders of the Pale the tops of the highest 
accessible hills were crowned with beacon fires, while 
through the length and breadth of the Irish districts 
other hill-tops, in the heaps of stones marking the 
electing places of Tanists and the Brehons' judgment 
seats, proclaimed the existence of an antagonistic 
state of society, rendering the beacon fires a very 
necessary precaution. Suggestive also were the 
crannogs, or lake dwellings, still existing on most of 
the lakes, conferring freedom from surprise by remov- 
ing the wooden bridge connecting the crannog with 
the mainland, or, in other cases, by keeping all the 
boats on them. 


Beyond the English districts were still evident the 
ruins of numerous raths or native forts, clusters of 
small stone cells (the primitive monastic establish- 
ments), and beehive-shaped huts, once the habitations 
of the churls, but now abandoned to herdsmen and 
their flocks or utilised as lurking places by troops of 
depredators and outlaws. Some of these ruins betrayed 
the hand of time ; others, in charred wood, blackened 
stone, and human skeletons, that of man ; but all, in 
common with ruined churches, devastated homesteads, 
and neglected fields, bearing mute testimony to the 
unsettled state of the times. 

Ancient teampuls, shrines, and beautiful stone 
crosses, highly ornamented with the symbols of our 
faith and eternity, and as yet undefaced by the hands 
of mistaken zealots, were numerous in all parts, but 
especially north of the Pale. Equally suggestive of a 
long since forgotten faith were the round towers, then 
existing to the number of about 140. They appear 
to have been accepted without comment or curiosity, 
seldom exciting remark. 

Towns, other than the mere collection of houses or 
farm buildings and out-offices usually dignified by 
that name, were less in number than at present. The 
largest and most important appeared, walled and 
guarded, isolated and solitary, like oases of English 
security in an ever encroaching desert of native unrest. 
Between them there were no large communities. 
Villages, in the English sense, did not exist. Occa- 
sionally at cross-roads or places of resort, so-styled 
houses ot entertainment of the very poorest material 


and construction were to be seen, but isolated dwell- 
ings and homesteads, except of the humblest 
description, became during the last quarter of the 
century rather the exception than the rule. Occasion- 
ally, also, round a sacred well or famous shrine, groups 
of houses, or rather cabins, had sprung up. These 
cabins, generally circular in shape, were constructed 
either of wicker-work (the interstices filled in with 
earth and moss and protected on the weather-side by 
rude boardings) or else of undressed stones laid verti- 
cally and tapered to a conical-topped roof of bracken 
and sods, the latter possessing the great advantage of 
security against fire. 

Scattered over the country, approached by rude 
roads through bogs, or hidden in the recesses of woods, 
were the smaller castellated towers and houses of the 
inferior chiefs, and old and new Irish gentry. 

Notwithstanding Ireland is essentially a stone 
country, and quantities of lime and other stones 
abound, the use of this material for building was not, for 
various reasons, general throughout the country in 
former times. Structures adapted to religious pur- 
poses and the castles of chiefs and nobles were almost 
the only exceptions to the employment of wood. Of 
the former — comprising cathedrals, churches, monas- 
teries, and other conventual establishments— there 
was an immense number, many of them owing their 
erection to native chiefs, others to the Norman- Gaelic 
nobles. Judging from the ruins now or lately to be 
seen, and the descriptions by i6th century writers of 
those they knew, whether as ruins or in use, there can 


be no question that in beauty of design and workman- 
ship they were worthy of their sacred character. 

Exceeding the ecclesiastical buildings in number and 
size, and superior to them in actual importance, the 
castles and fortified houses of chiefs and nobles were 
the most prominent features of the country districts. 
Squatting grim and forbidding, on eminences com- 
manding roads, fords, and landing places, they were 
land marks of serious import to friend and foe alike. 
Islands in rivers or arms of the sea were frequently 
utilised to locate castles on, many of those playing 
a part in Elizabethan warfare being constructed in 
these situations. Others, again, were built athwart a 
river. In the County Cork alone there were said to 
be one hundred and sixty castles of various descrip- 
tions ; and irl other counties, especially the western 
ones, the relative numbers were not less. 

In close proximity to the castles of superior chiefs 
would be found the long wooden dwellings of the 
classes dependent upon, and deriving their importance 
from, the chief families ; clusters of cabins tenanted 
by the lower orders surrounding these again. 

Communications. — As was only to be expected 
in a country such as we have described, the roads 
were usually neither numerous nor good. With 
the exception of the ancient main roads converg- 
ing upon Tara, those existing appeared to have 
been constructed less with a view to facilitate in- 
tercourse than to confine traffic to certain defined 
routes which were easily and usually commanded 
and overlooked. The tortuous character of the native 


roads was probably due, in addition to this considera- 
tion, to the necessity for avoiding boggy ground ; 
whilst the disrepair and impassability so often said to 
be characteristic of them, originated in the conflict of 
laws and customs that restricted the enforcement of 
native methods of maintenance, without providing 
adequate means to perform the duties they had 
hitherto sufficed for. 

The almost impassable nature of the country through 
the absence or inferior quality of roads, and the num- 
ber and extent of woods and bogs, may be surmised 
from the constant repetition of orders to military 
and other officers to impress the common people for 
the purpose of constructing or maintaining toghers 
or causeways, roads, and passes, in districts lately 
acquired, or where military operations were contem- 
plated. As a rule the opening out of the country by 
these means, and the erection of forts, was the first 
care of the English when a district came under their 

Bridges were far from numerous, and, as a rule, of 
indifferent stability, constructed of timber, wattle, and 
gravel, needing daily repair ; or, merely planks re- 
movable at will ; the few stone structures there were 
being of comparatively recent introduction. The 
prevailing insecurity of the bridges led to the 
authorities granting lands to provide for the erection 
and maintenance of more stable and permanent 

Whether correctly or not, the Irish were believed 
to entertain an objection to bridges ; much preferring 


fords or ferries. An objection accounted for by the 
freedom from observation or pursuit the absence of 
defined routes ensured marauding parties. To com- 
bat these practices and the native objections, one 
Elizabethan official suggested the destruction of all 
fo\'ds, thereby confining every description of traffic 
to bridges and ferries; the latter being generally 
maintained where small towns or religious establish- 
ments bordered a river. 

Climate. — There is no question, that in physical 
aspect and climate Ireland has changed to a greater 
extent within the last three hundred years than the 
sister countries. The continuous and extensive dis- 
foresting, draining water areas, arterial drainage, and 
the change in agricultural methods, by contributing 
to lessen the general humidity and consequent evapo- 
ration, have all assisted to effect this change. The 
summers appear to have become warmer and drier, 
and the winters less subject to prolonged frosts. 

In the opinion of those foreigners who concerned 
themselves with the country between the Norman in- 
vasion and the Stuart period, the climate was so 
temperate that infectious fogs or pestilential winds 
were unknown. —A flattering estimate, incapable oi 
reconciliation with references to constantly recurring 
plagues and pestilences, unless these visitations were 
imported and confined to the towns and their 
vicinities. Nor does it agree with the recorded 
opinions of military men, necessarily more observant 
of weather than others. During the Earl of Essex's 
campaign, the climate was described as the enemy's 


friend, one th?.t never failed them 1 and it was custo- 
mary to attribute to the malignity of it the diseases 
from which the English suffered when campaigning. 
Certainly, if the wearisome succession of'wet and foul 
seasons, rains and bad weather, recorded by writers 
of the period was normal, they had some grounds for 
complaining of the climate. 

The mortality usual amongst the English soldiers 
in Ireland was certainly excessive, but that it was due 
to climatic causes alone is more than doubtful. More 
probably the unaccustomed mode of living necessi- 
tated by the occupation of deep woods was the cause 
of it. Whatever the cause, and despite the humidity 
complained of, the climate was admittedly favourable 
to the natives and acclimatised foreigners, and to 
animal growth and vegetation. 

Products. — Before the Elizabethan wars, in 
addition to quantities of game, fowl, and fish, the 
whole country abounded in cattle, horses, and swine. 
Sheep and goats were relatively less numerous, whilst 
the omission of references to the ass or donkey, now so 
common a feature in country life, is particularly 
noticeable. Wool, hides, tallow, honey, and fruit were 
in general use, and plentiful enough to leave a surplus 
for exportation. Corn and other cereals were cultivated 
and also exported, and in the south and west a consider- 
able quantity of fish was annually bartered for wines. 
Traffic in corn, particularly, was of considerable value. 

That about the period of Queen Elizabeth's 
accession Ireland was fairly prosperous there is not a 
shadow of doubt. Spenser — who certainly had no 


reason to love the country — described it as most rich 
and plentiful, full of corn and cattle. HoUinshed, 
likewise, about the same period, that is before the 
wars, considered the Island populous, well inhabited, 
and rich, with plenty of corn and cattle. By Camden, 
Leitrim was said to contain one hundred and twenty 
thousand head of cattle, a prodigious number. 

Departing from the usual stereotyped sources of 
information on this point, we are able to form a truer 
estimate of the economic condition of the country 
from similar incidents to the following. 

Sir Fineen O'Driscoll, an Elizabethan Knight, 
supplied from his castle at Cape Clear all the 
provisions a fleet of English warships required for 
some time. On the arrival of the first Earl of Essex 
in the north, Sir Brian MacPhelim presented him 
with a herd of ten thousand cattle. A right royal 
present truly, indicating no scarcity of beeves. 
Among other proofs of fertility and plenitude, in 
districts unaffected by the war, we find the five 
Midland counties, in addition to ordinary requirements, 
were able to provision the royalist forces throughout 
the country. And towards the end of the century, 
English soldiers in some districts were receiving half 
victuals and half money in lieu of rations, so as in a 
measure to compensate for their depreciated pay. 

The prosperous condition of the whole province of 
Munster was attributed to its numerous cities and 
walled towns, commodiousness of its harbours, and 
fruitfulness of the land ; and, in the case of part of 
Kerry, to its being furthest from English interference ! 


Making due allowance for the relative value of 
money, and its scarcity with the Irish, cheapness of 
food is undoubtedly a symptom, if not a proof, of 
abundant supplies. In the Irish camp at Connello a 
calf sold for sixpence, and a hog for a shilling. Prior 
to this the prices at which provisions for the troops 
and the Lord Deputy were taken under the cess 
throughout the country, were from two to three 
hundred per cent, less than the prices fixed by statute 
in England during the early part of Henry VIII.'s 
reign. And, although these prices were alleged to be 
greatly under the market ones, there does not appear 
to have been any difficulty in obtaining the necessary 

Not without reason did the author of the Pacata 
Hibernia complain that towards the close of the 
war the country was exhausted of men and victuals. 
The amount of "prey" claimed to have been captured 
by the royalists alone was in itself sufficient to have 
impoverished the best stocked country in Europe. 

Changes.— With the introduction of the " Under- 
takers " ^—virtually another, though slightly more 
peaceful, invasion — an approximation to English life 
and conditions set in. Embryo villages and towns 
were springing up. Homesteads and farm buildings 
were being planned, and individual efforts at farming 
cautiously attempted. At the same time, improved 
communications to facilitate the passage of troops 
were being utilised for trading purposes, and other 
indications of a progressive and less primitive civili- 

^ English Colonists. 


zation were common throughout the land. Tokens, 
unfortunately, again swept away or desolated in the 
great Qonvulsion of the last decade of the century. 

More potential than all these changes and trans- 
formations was the new factor in the national life then 
making its first appearance. In the summer, em- 
bellishing the fields with its strong green leaves 
and pretty flower ; in the autumn, the personification 
of decay, converting them into charnel houses oi 
vegetation ; the potato plant was spreading all over 
the country. 

In the nomenclature of districts, and formations 
of counties, changes had been effected also. The 
ancient names and bounds either disappearing or 
undergoing mutilation from time or new conditions. 
Offally and Leix Countries had become, in compliment 
to Queen Mary and her Consort King Philip, King's 
and Queen's Counties. The capital towns, Dingen, 
and Campaw or Porteloise, becoming Philipstown and 
Maryborough respectively. Curiously enough, long 
after both sovereigns had ceased to reign these 
towns were still known officially by their old names. 
Catherlogh or Carlagh became Carlow ; Annaly, Long- 
ford ; and Eastern Breffny, Cavan. The County of 
Uriel was beginning to be known as Louth and 
Monaghan, while the designation of Thomond was 
giving way to that of Clare. Meath had been sub- 
divided, the part that with Louth was in the Pale 
retaining the old name, the remainder forming West- 
meath. Waterford still occasionally appeared as 
Power's County, and Wicklow as O'Byrne's. 


The shiring, as it was termed, of Munster, begun 
by Sir John Perrott, had not been generally adopted. 
Parts of West Cork and South Kerry were still known 
as Desmond or South Munster. Connaught and 
Ulster, until this period considered single Counties, 
were, on paper, divided as at present, by Sir Henry 
Sidney. This shiring, with other official acts of nomen- 
clature equally illusory, had no foundation in reality. 
Much of it represented what the officials would have 
done had their power equalled their intentions. For 
all the effect it had upon the great Northern chiefs, 
and the countries concerned at the time, the Queen's 
servants might as well have shired the land in the 
mythical Atlantis. 


Population. — Contemporary writers, estimating 
the numbers of the population of Ireland during the 
1 6th century, vary from a half to a third of the totals 
given ; differences indicating their calculations were 
largely fictitious, or advanced with a purpose. 

Apart from actual figures, there has always been an 
impression that the population of the period was more 
numerous than can be demonstrated. An impression 
fostered or directed by political or racial sympathies, 
and supported by mistaken views of social and 
economic conditions. For instance, the cultivation of 
the sides or bases of mountains and hills, often quoted 
in proof of this impression, was more probably due to 
a scarcity of cultivable land owing to so much low 
lying ground being flooded. Similarly with the 
occupation of crannogs or lake dwellings. A desire 
for the security obtainable only by seclusion appears 
to have been the motive for continuing to use these 
ancient abodes, not objection to overcrowding. 

What may be confidently affirmed is, that a few 
years after the accession of Elizabeth the population 
of Ireland had reached a figure higher, it is probable, 
than ever before attained, or than it again equalled 
for more than a century. 

Beyond a series of comparisons and deductions 
there are no means of ascertaining the aggregate 
population of the country. Unreliable as these 


methods confessedly are, we are compelled to make 
use of them. 

Writing immediately before the troubles began, Sir 
Henry Sidney considered Munster, especially Kerry, 
equal in population to many counties in England. 
Though Munster was admittedly the most populous 
of the four provinces (populous being but a relative 
term), there, as elsewhere, the physical features of the 
country precluded a large population. Moreover, 
that the rural population could not have been numerous 
is clear from the evidence afforded by the Pale 
(exclusive of the towns) being required to furnish 
only fourteen hundred men, including Irish, for a rising 
out or general muster on an occasion when the whole 
available forces of the Crown were required. When 
using this means of obtaining an approximate idea of 
the numbers of the population, it must not be forgotten 
they are liable to be incorrect unless framed with some 
allowance for the different systems in force in the 
respective districts ; the Irish system giving a larger 
percentage. The usual force of the Earl of Tyrone, 
the most powerful chief of the time, standing in a 
class apart with the Geraldines and Butlers, was about 
five thousand men, Scots included. The other chiefs, 
of whom there were about fifty, may be divided into 
two classes, represented by O'Rourke, a magnate of 
importance, able to muster a thousand men, and 
O' Sullivan Beare, with a following of two hundred. 
During the Elizabethan struggle, when all the sixty- 
seven nobles and chiefs able to maintain an armed 
following were ranged upon one side or the other, and 



had brought into the field every able-bodied man, the 
aggregate of Irish under arms seldom exceeded forty 
thousand men. Assuming this number to represent 
the number of families ; for instances where several 
members of one family were serving would be balanced 
by others having none ; and having regard to the 
numerically large families common at the period, by 
assigning ten as the number in each family we obtain, 
from districts other than the Pale, a population 
of about four hundred thousand. Then, turning to 
the cities and towns, although confronted with the 
same conflict of opinion — one authority estimating that 
prior to the period under review the town of New 
Ross had a population of twenty thousand, a number 
greatly in excess of that claimed for other towns 
incomparably larger and more important — we get into 
a less doubtful atmosphere. The first known instance 
of a census having been taken was in Dublin. 
Unfortunately for our purpose, this enumeration, which 
gave a population of less than ten thousand, occurred 
at a time when the city had not recovered from the 
losses of the Elizabethan wars and the exodus which 
followed. Still, unless we are prepared to admit the 
capital suffered a diminution of more than a third of 
its population, this census supports the contention that 
no urban population exceeded fifteen thousand of all 
ranks and nationalities. Not having even this data in 
the case of other cities, we revert again to the military 
musters. From them we gather that some half a 
dozen other cities were approximately equal to Dublin 
while others, and the towns, suddenly drop to quite 


insignificant numbers. Numbers that justify us in 
placing the urban population throughout the country 
at not more than a quarter of a million. Adding this 
to the native population, and estimating for the rural 
districts of the Pale a density of population equal to 
the districts beyond it, including Anglo-Irish and 
English, we may assume the total population to have 
been about three quarters of a million. England, with 
a far larger area, more numerous and far larger cities, 
towns, and villages— its natural characteristics and 
social and economic relations all favouring a large 
population — had at the time about four million 

Racial. — The mixture of races in the island con- 
sequent on the Danish and Norman invasions had 
undergone still further dilutions. In the extreme 
south, the ports having become regular places of call 
for English vessels, numbers of that race had settled 
there. The Gaelic stock in other parts of the south; 
though strengthened by the long and friendly inter- 
course with people of similar origin from France and 
Spain, had racially barely managed to hold its own 
from the incessant raids and occupations of later 
Danish rovers. In the east and centre the natives had 
to an even greater extent been affected by these 
northerners. Sometimes they brought with them 
Saxon wives or bondwomen. At others they inter- 
married with the native women. And, although 
popularly said to have been completely expelled, 
their long continued occupation of some of the largest 
and most fertile districts 01 the midlands must have 


appreciably affected the racial homogeneity of the 
population. In the towns, particularly the maritime 
ones, families of purely Danish extraction were still to 
be found. In the e astern distric ts families of mixed 
English descent were common enough, the stringent 
law s against marrying Irishwomen being as powerless 
to prevent mixed marriages as the Irish objection to 
unions with the English, on the ground of their being 
an impure deposit cast by the sea upon Irish shores, 
had proved in similar circumstances. In the north the 
C.A\\c p o pulatio n remained comparatively unsophisti- 
cated, their greatest intercourse having been with the 
Scoto-Gaels. The visits of these Gaels were frequent 
and troublesome. Sometimes they came by invitation, 
more frequently they came as foes, with the declared 
object of obtaining a footing in Antrim or Donegal. 
In other inland parts the Celto-Danish population 
was less mixed, whatever fusion had occurred being 
traceable to the English garrisons and the retinues 
of the Norman nobles. 

All over the country the garrisons of fortified places 
and castles were reported to contain, or have depen- 
dent upon them, as many women as men. Of the 
women the presumption is, from the instances given 
of some strongholds in the Pale, and the complaint 
that English soldiers there were so allied with Irish- 
women that they betrayed secrets and could not be 
trusted on dangerous services, that most of them 
belonged to the country, a presumption rendered all 
the more likely by the difificulties attendant upon 
movements and transport. Corroboratory of this 


tendency of the English soldiers to intermarry with 
native women is the admission that though frequent 
references occur to reinforcements arriving in the 
country, few, if any, are met with of emerited or dis- 
charged soldiers leaving it. 

Resultins^ from this mixture of nationalities, what 
manner of people were these " mere " o r " wild " 
Irish^ as they were termed by the English of three 
hundred years ago ? 

If we accept the evidence of some i6th cpntury, as 
well as that of more modern, writers, they were savages 
of the worst type. Every failing usually attributed to 
low types of humanity was alleged to be inherent in 
them, Mr. Froude, for instance, crediting them with 
but one single virtue— piety. If, on the other hand, 
we accept as authorities Englishmen and others, who, 
from an actual knowledge of the country and people, 
have left us their impressions, we get a much less 
loathsome picture. 

Physical Characteristics. — These observers 
are practically unanimous in describing the Irish as 
handsome, tall, well-made, stout and healthy, with 
clear skins and colour— a people worthy to be praised 
for their strength and activity of body^ All classes 
and both sexes were said to be accustomed to an 
open-air life, hardy, inured to fatigue, an d capable_of 
prolonged exertio ns. The women generally were 
pretty and well-favoured, with fresh complexions and 
abundant hair. None were considered handsome 
unless they were tall and round, of good size, and 
well proportioned. 


References by foreign observers to individuals are 
frequent, and appear to have sprung more from 
genuine admiration than from occasionally remarking 
an ordinary well-favoured man amongst others less 
comely. A few instances will suffice. M'Sorley was 
said to be of handsome figure and dignified bearing. 
Another chief was known to his English associates as 
the handsome O'Reilly. Of another, the O'Rourke, 
it was said no one of his name excelled him in come- 
liness of person. 

From these general and particular allusions it is 
impossible to avoid the conclusion that the general 
physique and appearance, capable as it also was of 
compelling the admiration of friend and foe alike, and 
to which even later historians have been unable to 
take exception, must have been uncommonly good. 

Both sexes took great b ride in their ha ir, the men_ 
wearing it crisped_aiKJLking, hanging down shoulders 
and back^ The higher classes still paid much attention 
to washing and combing it, whilst the lower orders 
wore it cut short in front so as to cover the forehead — 
a fashion known as the " glibb," and on account of 
its distinctiveness often legislated against. Married 
women of all classes wore the hair bound in rolls upon 
the head ; the unmarried, hanging down loose. Bald- 
ness was considered a great defect, not at all free from 
opprobrium, and, by giving rise to a nickname, usually 
served to identify the individual. The popular esti- 
mation in which the natural head covering was held 
is well illustrated by the dislike to enforcing the 
tonsure on priests. From illuminated manuscripts 


and other authorities of the period we gather that the 
men conformed to the English fashion by wearing 
all their face hair, the enactment against wearing 
moustaches having fallen into abeyance. 

The practice of utilising physical peculiarities to 
identify individuals, with the frequent recurrence of 
nicknames conveying allusions to red hair, leads to 
the belief that though, as was only to be expected 
from the strong Danish strain, red hair was not 
uncommon it still formed a distinction, the majority 
of the people being dark or fair-haired, according to 

The l ongevity characterising the people had already 
attracted attention, one of the most quaint allusions 
of the period to it being : — 

And the people of this kingdom (Ireland) have a very 
long life. Some of them liye up to two hundred years, and 
those who are born and live there can never die whilst they 
stay there, so that when they are feeble from old age they 
put them out of the island, and immediately they die. 

In addition to illustrating contemporary belief in 
the salubrity of Ireland, this extract indicates the 
slight reliance to be placed upon contemporary 
narratives, unless first-hand, of the country and its 
people during the i6th century. 

These ^-ravpllpt-g' gi-nn'^^g (^^ f|^|:> prolonged immunity 
Qf4-hp Iris h from the common lot of mortals a ttracted 
considerable attention, and gave rise to numerous 
singular conjectures. Amongst others, Francis Bacon 
(Lord Verulam) had heard them, and without 
subscribing to their accuracy attempted to account for 


the phenomenon by jttributi ng^ to the Irishj he habit 
Q£4ilacing;JhemieIv^[nak^ - 

ing their bodies V jOth ol*^ *^^^^ bni-ff>^, 

The national physique and mode of living, though 
it contributed to the attainment of old age more 
noticeably than in other countries, did not prevent the 
visitations of plagues and pestilences. On the east 
coast, especially, they were practically endemic. 
Elsewhere the country districts suffered from them 
certainly, but not to the same extent as the towns- 
people. The contention that the pestilences were im- 
ported, and not wholly the result of poverty of living, 
bad as that occasionally was, derives some confirma- 
tion from one of the most virulent being known as the 
" English sweat," and the coast towns being the most 
frequent sufferers. Towards the close of the century, 
when whole districts and counties had been devastated, 
pestilences spread into the most remote corners of 

Leprosy, though seldom mentioned specifically, 
considering that in former times the country was never 
free from it, was not unknown otherwise the necessity 
for leper houses in some towns inland and coast would 
not be apparent. The cause usually assigned for this 
loathsome disease — eating fish out of season — decreas- 
ing with changed economic conditions would account 
for the diminution of the disease itself 

Mental Characteristics.— The attention 
vouchsafed to the physical characteristics of the Irish 
was far exceeded by that their mental powers and 
peculiarities received. A distinction originating, it 


would appear, in the irreconcilable contradictions of 
temperament and character they were supposed to 

One writer considered them religious and very 
charitable, of frank and easily aroused dispositions, 
amorous and vain-glorious, yet passing in hospitality.^ 
Another characterised them as greedy of praise and 
fearful of dishonour, sharp-witted, and lovers of learn- 
ing. Another, an ex-priest, thought them constant in 
their loves and hates, seldom forgiving, quick to resent 
insults and injuries, too credulous, but witty, warlike, 
and greedy of glory, profuse, and prone to loose 
pleasures. Spenser, writing from an experience gained 
in legal disputations and law suits, considered them 
cautious and wily headed, easily led where inclination 
prompted ; one very pertinent remark of this close 
observer being specially worthy of attention : — " Yet 
will some one or other subtle-headed fellow amongst 
them put some quirk or devise some evasion whereof 
the rest were likely to take hold." 

truthfulness, with all that is usually associated with 
that virtue, as a national attribute was a matter of 
dispute. The class known as the churls were notorious 
lor saying only what would be pleasing or acceptable 
to their hearers, and of swearing falsely for, or at the 
dictation of, their social superiors and chiefs. At the 
same time the insistence by English officials upon 
pledges to ensure performance of trivial stipulations, 
and the allegation that in the taking of oaths to the 
Crown neither the sanctity of the proceedings nor the 

^ Stanihurst. 


oaths themselves had any restraining influence, they 
never proving of any effect, does not point to much 
reliance upon the bare word of the better classes. 

j^oyalty to superior s, and the i nstinctive desire to 
please, w ould account for the deviations froi p stric t 
jLCCuracy attrib nt fH \u th- i-"rn | . .-^r^ ^ r^ whilst the un- 
reliability of their social superiors indicates a condition 
of political or public weakness, rather than contempt 
for facts or disregard of realities. As witnesses, the 
testi mony of all classes was acce pted, subject only to 
the usual safeguards, and in sociaPahd business rela- 
tions, if not deserving of the encomium of Chief Baron 
Coke, that no nation in the Christian world were 
greater lovers of truth than the Irish, they do not seem 
to have differed from other peoples in their attitude 
to truth in the abstract. 

Food. — Until the 17th century the Irish were great 
meat and meal eaters, every description of flesh and 
game, roasted, boiled, or broiled, being included in the 
national dietary. With the poorer classes but little 
refinement was displayed in their methods of prepar- 
ing the various meat diets, seething the flesh in the 
hide being a ready and common practice. The flesh 
of the badger appears to have been held in some esti- 
mation, and a favourite dish was beef broth flavoured 
with roots, shamrocks, and other herbs. To the 
general use of herbs and the tops of nettles, was pro- 
bably due the belief that the Irish rebels lived on a 
kind of grass only, l^lack l adings, made from blood, 
were in great request, and baked in butter, used by 
travellers and people tending cattle in out of the way 


places. Quantities of fish, fresh and salted, were con- 
sumed at all seasons ; while for winter consumption, in 
addition to the viands now usually salted, sheep, geese, 
and small game were salted down. The potato, 
introduced about the year 1565, had not come into 
general use, but several other vegetables, and the 
marine plants dulsk and stoke, were eaten largely. 
Wheat, although grown all over the country and 
exported, was not an ordinary article of diet, being 
considere d a lux ury. Instead of it, griddled oatmeal 
cakes, or hazel nuts, prepared in various ways, appear to 
have been used. Stirabout was the usual food of 
young children, and milk quite the most common 
article of diet. Butter, besides being used in the 
ordinary manner, was subjected to a curious process of 
preservation in being wrapped in linen cloths, placed in 
firkins, and buried in a bog, until it became rancid and 
of the consistency of cheese. Honey was much used for 
sweetening, and in the manufacture of mead. Speaking 
generally there can be no question that in normal times 
food was plentiful and easily procured ; short-sighted 
wastefulness in cookery and eating characterising the 
people, rather than habits of economy induced by re- 
curring seasons of scarcity, whether natural or artificial. 
Drink. — The fermented liquors manufactured and 
in most general use were usquebagh, i.e,^ whisky, ale, 
and mead. A partiality for these liquors, Spanish 
wines and French brandies, was said to mark the 
whole nation, particularly the better classes ; their 
drinking bouts usually lasting three or four days.^ 

2 Moryson. 


A national failing which more than once influenced 
political events, notably, Shane O'Neill's death in a 
drunken brawl, the seizure of young O'Donnell under 
pretence of a drinking bout on board ship, and the 
information said to have been given in return for a 
bottle of aqua vitae by the Mac Mahon, the night 
before the battle of Kinsale. On special occasions, 
such as the yearly entertainments of the chiefs, 
weddings, or funerals, the lower orders are said to have 
indulged in liquors to an extent limited only by the 
ability to obtain them. On others circumstances 
restricted them to whey or milk. 

Usquebagh had a great reputation, both for drinking 
and medicinal purposes, and was in much request, 
presents of it being greatly esteemed. In the towns, 
cider of excellent flavour was the common drink, its 
manufacture having been considerably improved by 
the English settlers. Beer, which formed the staple 
drink of the soldiers, had also become a recognised 
beverage with the townspeople. Lord Deputy Sidney, 
on account of his fondness for this liquor, was known 
by the Irish as " Big Henry of the Beer ; " and in 
one of his expeditions against them was said to have 
stimulated his force to a successful attack by a plentiful 
distribution of his favourite beverage. 

Dress. — Although the stringent sumptuary laws 
formerly in force among the Irish had in Elizabethan 
times ceased to be operative, custom, the effect of 
them, still exercised some influence upon the dress of 
the people by continuing one, at least, of the old 
regulations, that of the individual's rank deciding the 


colour of his costume. The chiefs and nobles still 
affected bright-coloured clothes, some garments being 
of more than one colour. 

The ordinary costume of the upper classes consisted 
of a linen shirt with plaited sleeves, over it a collarless 
coat or jacket, drawn in at the waist by a girdle, trews 
or trousers covering the extremities from waist to 
ankles, and displaying the shape of the limbs. A 
loose flowing, voluminous tunic, saffron in colour, and 
shoes of untanned hide, completed the costume. The 
materials ordinarily used were wool or flannel, though 
the nobles and chiefs imported and used silk and satin. 
For outdoor purposes, a cape or mantle with hood, or 
the long cloak, was general. Tall, conical-shaped 
hats with broad brims, riding shoes of costly leather, 
and gloves, were considered English additions to the 
native costume. 

The peasantry generally wore a loose-sleeved tunic, 
rea ching to the knees, and confined at the waist by a 
bdt^skin shoes, drawers, and leggings, and in the 
open a frie ze mantle. 

What is now termed the kilt, appears to have been 
restricted to soldiers, or worn when e ngaged hunting , 
or in the care oi cattle . On the very poor the belt 
confining the goat or sheep-skin tunic, and the lower 
leg coverings, were usually of straw or plaited grass. 
Nearly all the churl class w en t shoeless, and, in the 
opinion of an EngHsh settler, cared little whether they , 
wore clothes or noj ^^ 

Women of the poorer . and those in the 
wilder districts, wore but o ne smock or garmen t — as a 


rule containing much material — drawn in at the waist. 
In the more settled districts, and among the better 
classes, the usual costume consisted of deep-sleeved 
linen blouses, over voluminous sleeveless gowns, long 
enough to cover the feet, and fastened at the neck 
with a brooch, a linen fillet on the head, and a small 
mantle looped ^at the side. When suffering from fever 
or similar maladies they usually cut off their hair, and 
to keep the head warm until its covering grew again, 
wore great rolls of linen on it. 

Furs of all sorts appear to have been largely used to 
trim or fringe the garments of both sexes. Veils, 
gloves , and prepared leather shoes, were essen'tSTto 
t he costumes' of all ladies^~t Eeir belts or girdles also 
being of the most elaborate description. 

Leathern jackets and quilted c oats, adap ted Jrom 
the English, were in great favour for the protection 
they afforded against weather and sudden attack. 

Though the l avish display of costly personal orna- 
jnents h ad, to a great extent, ceased to be a national 
pec uliarity, ^ old and silver ornaments were still worn 
by both sexes. 

The national garment, was undoubtedly the hooded 
tnantle-^Qr Jb ng cloak made of woo l or jjannd, and of 
sufficient dimensions to cover_ the whole body from 
thg top of the liead to the feet. Sometimes called 
the Connaught cloak, this garment was indispensable 
to both sexes and all ranks, embellishing the remainder 
of the costume or hiding its deficiencies, supplying the 
want of bed clothing at night, and on the left arm of 
the soldier forming a convenient and sei:: 


In their capacity as heralds the Bards were notorious 
for pjrofuse and extravagar^t costume s. A description 
of a 1 6th century herald of the Geraldine family states, 
he was wearing a long yellow tunic drawn in at the 
waist by a broad belt set with precious stones and 
fastened by a massive gold buckle ; wide sleeves, 
parted above the elbow, falling in voluminous folds 
nearly to the ground. Over this garment was a 
short crimson jacket, richly wrought and embroidered. 
A mantle, laced and fringed, thrown back to display 
the other clothing, was fastened at the neck by a large 
silver brooch. Long untanned boots completed the 
costume, but no mention is made of any head cover- 

Though English fashions in dress had great attrac- 
tions for many of the Irish nobles and gentry — they, 
as a rule, sparing no pains or expense to obtain them — 
the more enlightened chiefs were neither enamoured 
of the foreign garb nor blind to t he^pol itical signi- 
ficance attached to its ado ption. 

The ^T^ctice of presenti ng what were termed 
"parliament robes," i.e., English, as distinct in the 
matter of trunk hose, and neck and head coverings, 
from the native r.ncitnrri^, was a matter of policy 
intended^ in accordance with Irish custom, to be con- 
sidered in the light of a pledge that the suzerain 
would, if necessary^ grotect the rec ipients. Similarly, 
the acceptance of apparel previously worn by the 
King, or presented personally by the Lord Deputy, 
had its origin in, and was analogous to, the custom of 
bestowing gifts upon minor chiefs and tenants — a 


practice known as the custom of "tuarasdal." To 
assume that to the gifts of clothing alluded to as parlia- 
mentary robes the chiefs depended for their supply of 
civilized wearing apparel was one of the disingenuous 
devices of foreign writers — a device exposed in Lord 
Deputy St. Leger's report of the O'Donnell clamouring 
for parliament robes at a time when he was said to be 
better furnished with .suitable apparel than any other 
Irishman, when he actually appeared before the Lord 
Deputy wearing " a coat of crimson velvet with twenty 
or thirty pairs of gold aiguelletes, a great double cloak 
of red crimson satin guarded with black velvet, and a 
bonnet set full of gold aiguUetes." 

Unwilling to incur the risk of rf^fnsing- the foreig'n 
garments^ the chiefs oc casionally took refuge in 
ridiculing them. One of the northern chieftains remark- 
ing at a presentation : " You will then give my 
chaplain permission to walk the streets with me in 
petticoats, and the rabble will laugh at him as well as 
at me." In other cases, like the M'Guinness, they 
used them solely to mark distinctive occasions, wearing 
the foreign apparel on high festival and saints' days ; 
the native apparel on others. 

Custom having decreed the wearing of head cover- 
ing the badge of social standing, the lower-class Irish 
usually went bare-headed. To them, therefore, the 
prohibition against wearing a fringe of hair over the 
eyes was something more than a vagary of fashion : it 
was a real hardship. 

The head covering as a mark of Englishry, was 
utilised by a chief near Limerick to augment his 


income, he having imposed a tax of 6s. 8d. upon 
every person wearing a hat or bonnet when passing 
through his territory. 

J geyond the Pale all classes went armed . The lower 
orders carried darts^ capable of use either as thrusting 
or missile weapons. The long axe w as in favour with 
the more substantial classes ; and the gentry carried 
a^a ^rds on foot, and spears when mounted. In the 
]^glish districts, strict laws ag^ainst carrying weapons 
ofany description wer e in fo rce. 

Language.— As late as the third^guart er of the 
1 6th century the language in general use throughout 
the lrish'~^istricts by all classes of the community, 
except officij js. was that of the native inhabitants, the 
Gaelic-j rish, or, as it is sometimes erroneously termed, 
the Erse. In the Pale and districts contiguous to the 
large towns, we must infer from the infrequent mention 
of any medium of communication, such as usually 
obtains where differences of speech prevail, that 
many of the Anglo-Irish and natives were bi-lingual,, 
or the speech in use was that objected to by Stanihurst, 
viz., a mingle mangle, a gallimaufreie of both the 
languages, neither good English, nor good Irish. 

Those chjefs^nd nobles who had been educated in 
the English fashion^ had both languages at command. 
The older men, and those who had not the advantage 
of foreign polish, were restricted to their native tongue, 
or Latin. Some of the Norman-Irish nobles, in 
addition to writing Gaelic and collecting its literature, 
displayed a decided preference for its use on all 



Hitherto it has been customary to pretend that the 
claim, thus outHned, to a predominance of the native 
speech until a late period has no foundation in fact, is 
merely a patriotic attempt to minimise the Anglican 
ascendancy. So far from this being the case, docu- 
mentary evidence of unquestioned value confirmatory 
of this claim still exists, and has been often quoted. 
Among other details throwing light on the question, 
as well as the social life of the period, we find a report 
to the Privy Council that the Bishop of Clonfert (uncle 
to the Earl of Clanricard), the brother of the Earl, 

and other InrHg and p-pr)tlRmpn of the hpgt honspg f)f 

Connaught, neither spoke nor und erstood the Rngjigh 
laiiguage. In the fiisL ^arliamen t jp which Triqh rhief.q^ 
sat?7jZn th eEarl of Ormond tran slated the E.Qglish 
sp£eches_mto_5aelJ£jrish^fo^ the benefit of those 
unacquainted with the foreign tongne. In answer to a 
complaint that many of the townspeople were acquiring 
Irish to the neglect of their own tongue, the Privy 
Council issued a proclamation condemning the practice. 
Most conclusive of all was the lact that when the 
services of the reformed religion came to be conducted 
in the language understood by the people an unforeseen 
difficulty arose ; the rural congregations in most places 
only knew Irish, the new pastors, with few^exceptions, 
jmew^I Lnot. The di fficulty was met by continuing 
the use_of _Latin . ' ^'^ 

From these and similar incidents it is difficult to 
understand how, if the contempt for and denial of the 
use of Irish by the English officials was what it affected 
to be, the government of those officials could have been 


more than the simulation of control. Either there 
must have been less intercourse between the two 
nationalities than is usually admitted, or the dislike to 
the native language professed by English officials was 
assumed. The uitercourse between governors an d 
governed could not jiavp t'/:>gt^^^ '^^-^ thn bare basis 
of Latin proclamations alone . The administration of 
justice and collection of revenue, to take two functions 
only, must have been conducted throu^rh the medium 
of the common tr>ncmp c^v pr^j^ pf all If other corrobo- 
ration was required that the practice of terming the 
use of the native language a sign of degeneracy, and 
of claiming any result from the prohibition of its 
continuance, was but part of the system of decrying 
everything Irish, it may be found in the frequent 
occurrence in official orders and proclamations of Irish 
words and expressions when English terms would have 
been more in keeping with the context of the subject, 
and the nationality of those to whom they were 

Customs. — Among the customs mentioned by 
contemporary writers as peculiar to the Irish, those 
(jgnn ected wi th fireo ccupy a foremost place. Jncan- 
tatJons^aniL prayer s"were said to be still used at the 
ligh ting or renewal of household fires, and great con- 
sternation displayed if one of them died out or had 
been extinguished. The custom of li ghting fires on 
^ the hill tops, about the time of the 7ummer~solstice^ 
(now known as St. John's fires) was rigorously observed. 

Oaths and observances calculated to render more 
obUgatorjTthe performance of stipulations, or to denote 


compliance or agreement, appeared to have entered 
largely into the daily life of all classes. The most 
repulsive of all, the drinking of a b owl of bl oo d to- 
g ether to b i nd a solem n vow, was alleged to be in 
common use. Though stoutly denied, the continuance 
of this custom in the mod ified form of drinking a drop 
of blood mixed with liquor^ appears indisputable. 
Swearing by the hand of the chief or lord (probably 
because it brought the owner of the hand on to the 
scene in case of perjury) was considered inferior only 
in binding efficacy to oaths taken on a sword or at a 
grave. Other efforts to invoke temporal or super- 
natural vengeance on delinquents were numerous. 
Placing the right hand in the hand of an opponent 
was the usual method of signifying surrender. 

The pledging of relatives, preferably sons, as 
guarantees for good behaviour was a very prevalent 
custom, used to great advantage, and on more than 
one occasion abused, by the English. 

The custom of coshering^ that is, of nobles and chiefs, 
usually acc ompanied bytheir families and followers, 
leaving their_pwn residences^ and wanderi ng abou t 
a mongst their sub -chiefs and tenants tor nearly Jialf 
thejyear, partook somewhat of the character of pay- 
ment of rent or tribute, which was usually paid in 
kind. As it would have been inconvenient, if not 
dangerous, to move flocks and herds about the country, 
those to whom rent was payable procee ded to the 
place o f its production, and Jiterally lived upon^ it. 
Informal musters and reunions took place upon these 
occasions, the chief thus obtaining an impression of 


the number of followers he could rely upon when 
taking the field. 

References to " coin and livery " frequently occur 
in Irish histories. Originally a native custom, under 
the term bonnaght or free billeting of soldiers, it had 
in time developed into a system by which the food 
and pay of the soldier and the keep of his horse were 
taken from the people at the pleasure of any com- 
mander. Divided into hostile camps as Ireland was 
during the last quarter of the century, this exaction was 
considered an especial grievance by the farming class. 
Its attempted abolition was just as strongly resented 
by the land owners and territorial magnates. 

Custom had invested parents with great authority 
over their children, especially in the selection of 
partners for them, and marriages were usual at an age 
which would now be considered too young for either 

Marriage Customs. — Elizabethan writers began, 
and subsequent writers have continued, a series of 
accusations calculated to lead to the belief that the 
^ixteenth^cent ury I rish, following in the steps of their 
farefathers, practised or tolerated a freedorn in the 
relations b etween the sexes incompatible with any 
s j-stem of morality founded upon the religion they 

Briefly expressed, these accusations amounted to : 
That the Irish would marry within prohibited degrees,^ 
or after long continuance in matrimony, the lawfulness 
of which was undisputed, would obtain a decree from 

» state Facers, Henry VIII. 


Rome annulling the marriage,^ that the least difference 
generally parted man and wife,* and that a plurality 
of wives was not uncommon. By some officials these 
infractions of the canon law, and the moral laxity said 
to be generally prevalent, was attributed less to innate 
depravity on the part of the Irish, than to the effect 
of customs through which familiarity of dependence 
led to loose living, and facility of separation resulted 
from absence of obligation, either religious or moral, 
the marriage tie becoming a mere slip knot holding 
the parties together no longer than interest or inclina- 
tion prompted. 

It is unnecessary to present in detail the stock 
examples usually quoted in proof of these charges. 
Most of them concerned native or Norman-Irish 
families of rank, the latter, it was said, having be- 
come more Irish than the natives themselves, particu- 
larly in taking advantage of customs agreeable to or 
harmonising with the dictates of passion rather than 
the obligations of justice or religion. 

To correctly estimate the moral tone of a people at 
any particular period, it is advisable to compare them 
with contemporary nations having similar conceptions 
of daily life ; at the same time keeping before us that 
departures from the moral code which have been 
considered heinous at one time have passed almost 
unheeded at another. Judged by any standard, the 
moral conditions of the Courts and societ}^ in which 
Henry VIII. of England, Henry III. of France, and 
Mary Queen of Scots, respectively moved and shone, 

* Goode. 


and Italian society as disclosed through the tragedy 
of the Cenci family, would be condemned. Yet this 
was the period when English officials considered the 
Irish to be, morally, beneath contempt. 

A descriptive reference to the customs and influences 
which still swayed the Irish in their conjugal relations, 
and to the moral law generally, will enable us to 
understand the state of affairs which induced the 
belief above alluded to, and contribute to a knowledge 
of the subject not otherwise obtainable. 

By the Ancient Brehon^JaFS the marriage tie was 
ipJL-Coiisidered^^i_ indies q^^^^^ and separation 

could be easily obtained especially by the wife, though 
various devices to discourage the practice, such as the 
return of the wife's property, were in force. At the 
same time a renewal of matrimonial relations was also 
provided for. Moreover, three forms of relationsh ip 
s imilar to that of man and w ife were recognised ; rela- 
tions to which we have now no parallel, except in the 
morganatic unions of royalty. All involved mutual 
obligations^. W^''*^ ^^ff^)i ^"^^ I'equired the consent of 
bqth^^par ties or lega l process befo re dissolution. The 
first or lawful wife connection only had a religious 
sanction, the others were merely civil contracts. Some 
doubt exists whether the abjuction a nd puixhase 
qf^wives was not still possible. If so, although there 
is ^o direct authority for the inference, it would 
follow that what a man might buy he might also 

Then, turning to the social relations, so far as they 



affect the question. All classes, except in the towns 
and to some extent in the Pale, owing to the peculiar 
construction of Irish society, were much more inti- 
mately associated than in communities whose structure 
was based upon different principles. The custom of 
coshering, for instance, brought chief and retinue into 
very familiar relations with their social inferiors, par- 
ticularly in Elizabethan times, when numbers of gentry 
were reduced altogether to living, as honoured mem- 
bers of the family, on and with their erstwhile de- 

There can be no question that had women in Ireland 
occupied a less honourable position than in other 
countries, nobly born English ladies would not have 
allied themselves with Irish chiefs and nobles, as in 
the following instances, all occurring in the period 
under review. The wife of Rory Oge O'More was 
first cousin to the Earl of Ormond, a cousin of the 
Queen's. A sister of Marshal Bagnal married the 
Earl of Tyrone, and the widow of Sir Philip Sidney, 
and Robert, Earl of Essex, took for her third husband, 
Ulick Earl of Clanricard. 

Also tending to negative any conspicuous difference 
in the relations between the sexes was the position, 
almost approaching equality, Irish women occupied 
with their husbands and families. Their maiden 
names were never wholly lost in those of their hus- 
bands ; in the management of property or influence 
they retained their full share of authority ; and in 
castle and cabin, homestead and dwelling, exercised 
undisputed control of domestic affairs. 


By going off the beaten track of historical research 
during this troublous period, occasional glimpses are 
obtained of wives and daughters of the most heroic 
type, proud to bear names the very mention of which 
was a danger, and incurring fatigues and privations 
the bare recital of which is appalling. Though but 
dimly seen through the mists of time and prejudice, 
in the characters of many of these Irish women we can 
discern enough to warrant the claim that beauty of 
form and capacity of intellect served but to set off in 
them most feminine and some masculine virtues. 
Notwithstanding all the blending of races among the 
Irish during the last three centuries characteristics 
which formerly distinguished them are equally evident 
now. Therefore, traits admittedly characteristic of 
them now must also have been inherited. And the 
morality of the Irish is proverbial. 

Fosterage. — The custom of fostering, or placing 
(jhol dren during their minority in charge of persons. 
rint_blond relations , and frequently o f, a different soc ial 
rank than the par ents, entered largely into the every- 
day life of the Irish. Like other observances based 
upon the ancient laws, elaborate rules governed it. 
The amount payable for the child's maintenance— five 
hundred kine was the price for a chief or nobleman's 
sons — the food and treatment, and the relations be- 
tween child and foster parents during fosterage and in 
after life, were all provided for. 

The advantages to the chiefs and gentry of the 
custom were admitted. As a bond of alliance between 
superior and inferior chiefs it strengthened both, while, 


by augmenting and extending the ties of kinship, it 
provided adhe r^^^'^ wj- inse devotion was beyond ques - 
tion, and had been frequently proved. 

Native writers have usually exaggerated the advan- 
tages and ignored the defects appertaining to fostering. 
The statement in the " Four Masters " history : " You 
cannot find one instance of perfidy, deceit, or treachery, 
amongst those who sucked the same mother's milk," is 
not strictly correct. The surrender of Maynooth 
Castle by the foster brother of Lord Thomas of 
Kildare, during the i6th century appears to have 
been overlooked. Undoubtedly the most glaring evil 
of the system was that every foster brother to a chief 
or gentleman considered himself a gentleman also, his 
gentility forbade any menial employment, and being, 
as too frequently happened, without means of support, 
a predatory life was the only resource left him. 

By the English governors fQSleriiig-Avas.-Considered 
r esponsible for much of the _lrpiib1(^ fivppripn^pH in 
dealing with the people. They neither trouhleiLto 


ti ons resulting „_from the cust om beyond., consi d pr in pt 
that it promoted conc ubina ge. In reality, family con- 
nections consequent on fostering were the most sacred 
of all, it being matter of comment that between the 
foster children themselves more affection was usual 
than between natural brothers and sisters. 

Condemned by official opinion, and repu^riailLas an 
essentially native usage, repeated but unsuccessful 
efforts weremade to suppress the system. Time, and 
the introduction of a social order which no longer 


found it useful, effected what laws and enactments had 
proved powerless to do, and fosterage as a political and 
every-day feature passed away. 

Domestic. — Like other primitive peoples the Irish 
considered hospitality a particularly sacred duty, and 
attached great importance to its due observation. 
Formerly regular establishments were maintained at 
which travellers and the poor were provided with food 
and lodging. In Elizabethan Ireland this ancient 
custom, with others equally characteristic of the people, 
had fallen into desuetude. The monasteries and re- 
ligious houses which had succeeded to their functions 
were nearly all suppressed, and beyond the towns 
there were but few inns, and these not the most 
reputable. The want thus created was readily and 
willingly met by all classes. The castles and houses 
of the chiefs and gentry were always open to travellers 
and strangers, while the poorer classes ungrudgingly 
honoured the custom that considered travellers who 
had taken off their brogues in the house members of 
the family, and entitled, for the time being, to a seat 
by the fire and whatever entertainment could be 

In addition to this hospitable reception of strangers 
and travellers, on the great feast days and yearly 
festivals relatives and acquaintances — seated strictly 
according to rank and precedence — clansmen and 
retainers, all alike were welcome to the prodigal pro- 
fusion inclination moved the nobles and chiefs to 
provide, and custom decreed due from their ranks. 
From the quantities of drink and food consumed on 


these occasions, more especially in the spacious halls 
of the Earls, the entertainments would be more accu- 
rately described as Gargantuan orgies, in which 
ostentatious profusion and careless extravagance 
predominated, rather than the orderly feastings of 
civilised beings. 

This tendency to excess, and the national sentiments 
regarding guests and hospitality, were on several 
occasions during the Queen's reign used by the 
authorities to forward political projects, or effect the 
removal of individuals or septs other means had failed 
to coerce. The slaughter of the principal inhabitants 
of Leix and Offally by Sir F. Cosby, and of the 
O'Neills of Clandeboye by the Earl of Essex, both 
accomplished under cover of banquets or feastings, are 
instances in point. 

At the entertainments of chiefs and nobles, and in 
the service of the Church, bees-wax candles were used. 
In the former, lighting up tables resplendent with 
white linen and richly ornamented vessels of gold, 
silver, or bronze, vessels of glass, and drinking horns 
studded with metal work and gems. In the houses of 
the gentry and trading classes, candles of partially 
peeled rushes, dipped in fat, served the same purpose 
to unbleached linen and pewter or wooden utensils ; 
among the latter the medars or four-handled drinking 
cups being conspicuous. While in the cabins or 
bothies of the poor, a greased withy, or the assiduously 
tended turf fire, with an irreducible minimum of utensils 
of the commonest description, sufficed for their wants. 

In connection with the dwellings of the gentry, and 


homesteads of the better class farmers, — huge wooden 
houses, oak generally, filled in with clay, and roofed 
with thatch — chattels and furniture, copper utensils, 
and metal vessels for drinking, are frequently 
mentioned. With the small farmers, and followers or 
dependents of the gentry, furniture and domestic 
utensils were of the very simplest, and usually of yew 
wood. To those engaged in the care of cattle, the 
custom of spending the summer months with their 
charges on the high grounds, prevented both the desire 
for, and acquisition of, movable property. And the 
very poor had neither need for nor space to accom- 
modate furniture of any description, even had the lawless 
state of the country not rendered display of any sort 
dangerous and foolish. 

One or more beds, and pillows, stuffed with some 
soft material, and a skin-covered seat at the foot, 
adorned the sleeping cubicles of the chiefs and nobles, 
and in the houses of gentry and traders were ranged 
round the large apartment forming the common room. 
With the poorer classes beds were of an even less 
elaborate description, usually one corner of the cabin 
being littered with rushes, bracken, or moss, forming, 
with a log for pillow and mantle for covering, an easily 
prepared, and readily removed couch. 

To the unsettled state of the country, rather than 
the poverty of the savage, the miserable and dirty 
condition of the humblest dwellings must be attributed. 
The cow, pig, or fowls, were too valuable to be left 
outside exposed to chance marauders. They were, 
therefore, too often inside. What was at first a pre- 


caution became a custom, until it was too truly 
remarked the cabins were rather swine sties than 
human habitations. 

Except in the coast towns, turf and wood were the 
only fuel. Fortunately there was no stint of either. 
Climatic reasons rendered fires particularly acceptable 
the greater part of the year, and the superstitious fears 
attached to their non-extinction also necessitated a 
constant supply of fuel. In the towns, and by the 
various handicrafts, charcoal was also freely used. 

Castles. — We have already mentioned the number 
and importance of the castles scattered throughout 
the land. Many of them were of great strength, 
impregnable to assault unless prepared by artillery. 
Newark Castle, built by the notorious Shane O'Neill, 
resembled a regular fortification more than the 
ordinary residence of a chief of even Shane's power 
and turbulence. 

Some of the castles, especially in the vicinity of the 
Pale, combined the baronial residence with the military 
fortress. A well-known instance of this was May- 
nooth Castle, a Geraldine stronghold. From a 
description of the stores of beds, goodly hangings, 
rich wardrobes, brave furniture, and books and MSS. 
in several languages, including the native, in a con- 
temporary account of the sack of this fortalice, it is 
evident that unless it was an exceptional case, taste 
directed and wealth rendered possible the costly 
magnificence of some noble residences. 

Though generally preserving the circular or square 
keep in the main buildings, the out-works and defences 


of the larger castles were laid out with a view to utilise 
the natural advantages of the situation. 

The Castle of Dunboy, for instance — which latei 
attained some notoriety — was a long rectangular stone 
edifice, having a tower at one end. It was built on 
the edge of a strip of land open to the water on one 
side, a stone wall enclosing both castle and open 
ground. On the landward side there was an outer 
wall. Castle Park, renowned for its pentagonal shaped 
out-works. Trim Castle, and the Castle of Donegal, 
were all considered exceptionally strong fortifications, 
the latter having been described as one of the greatest 
and strongest in the country. 

The more pretentious castles were about eighty feet 
square and forty feet high, the walls of immense thick- 
ness, flanked with towers and sometimes faced with sods 
of turf. The towers, as a rule, were square also, and 
lit with narrow loop-holes. One floor of the main 
building — some of them had four stories — was reserved 
for the females of the family, recesses in the walls 
forming sleeping places. The different floors were 
reached by a winding stone staircase. In some of 
the castles the stairs were built in the thickness of 
the walls. In others the staircase was outside them, 
and assisted, through the loop-holes, to command the 
sides of the main building. In the better class castles 
separate stairways were used by the family and 
domestics and soldiers. 

Bawns, or fortified enclosures, followed the shape 
of the out-works. In the space between them and 
the main building the cattle, horses, or other stock, 


were kept for safety. On the borders of these 
enclosures, and under the shelter of the battlemented 
wall and moat which encircled the whole area, were 
rough shanties of turf, littered with straw, intended 
for the sleeping accommodation of soldiers, servants, 
and followers. In the smaller castles and houses of 
the gentry the bawn was seldom protected by more 
than a ditch and bank, fringed with bushes on the 
near side, sufficient to shelter the stock at night, or 
from a sudden foray. 

A peculiarity in the structure of many castles was 
the entrance arrangement. The iron-plated door 
giving access to the interior opened into a small roofed 
space forming an inner porch. From a chamber 
above, the floor of which formed the roof of this porch, 
the defenders were able, through an aperture in the 
floor, known as the murdering hole, to shoot at or 
spear any unwelcome visitor. In the larger castles 
this space was shut off by a portcullis, that, or the iron 
door, being manipulated from within by persons 
unseen. Bartizans, or machicoulis galleries, permitting 
the defenders to pour molten metal or boiling water 
on foes battering or undermining the walls, were 
common to all the castles. 

Dangers of Roads, &c. — The absence of recog- 
nised houses of entertainment in the country districts, 
and the indiscriminate keeping of open house by all 
classes, combined with the paucity of, and distance 
between, towns, led to the roads and approaches being 
infested by marauders of every description. Some 
worked openly in bands, others in small parties or 


singly. Others again assumed the outward appear- 
ance and professed the occupations of newsboys, jesters, 
gamblers (called carrows), and horse boys. Numbers 
of these, relying upon the certainty of obtaining food 
and shelter, perambulated from place to place, ready 
at all times to minister to the insatiable desire of all 
classes for amusement, news, and gossip, or the no less 
deeply-rooted love of gambling. So prevalent was 
this latter vice that, individuals having lost all they 
possessed, frequently hazarded their personal freedom, 
and reduced themselves to the veritable condition of 
slaves. Legislation failed either to suppress this evil 
or its professors. Horse boys to accompany travellers 
for the purpose of tendmg their horses, or acting as 
guides, had become a necessity also. Frequently, 
through their knowledge of locality and temporary 
position, these pests enabled confederates to way-lay 
and plunder their employers. Consequent on the 
prevalence of these dangers in the English and adjoin- 
ing districts, it became customary for travellers to 
proceed in strong bodies, trusting to numbers to 
prevent molestation. The facility with which depre- 
dators and robbers could, and did, figure as members 
of these itinerant classes, led to the harsh and 
indiscriminate enforcement of enactments against all 
classes of masterless men. Yet, though numbers lost 
their lives in consequence, these measures failed to 
appreciably affect the number of vagrants, or render 
the roads safer. 

Learning. — It is now admitted that the Irish 
possess in the work of the Four Masters, the Annals 



of the Kingdom of Ireland, and other books in Gaelic 
and Latin, genuine history several centuries more 
ancient than any other European nation possesses in 
its present spoken language.^ As far as the Eliza- 
bethan period is concerned, the Annals, compiled from 
personal knowledge, holograph documents, and the 
testimony of eye-witnesses and actors, display a 
veracity, fairness, and generosity unrivalled by contem- 
porary works, and unsurpassed, if equalled, by modern 

From these ancient and mediaeval annals two facts 
stand out clearly — that alone amidst northern European 
nations the Irish escaped t he Cimmerian pall^w hich 
de scended on less iortun^^ ^ ^^nnfi-iVg during ^h<^_j^^ 
ages ; and that, ^s teachers and disseminators of 

learning and founders of monasteries and academies. 

they had worthily assisted in keeping alive the tradi- 
tions of a re mote and almost forgotten cu lture. Much 
of this old-time culture disappeared m !he four 
centuries following the Norman invasion. That 'midst 
the never-ceasing wars and tumults any description of 
culture or any remnant of previous learning flourished 
at all beyond the walls of monasteries is proof 
indubitable both were natural products, not exotics. 

Suggestive both of the literary decay and of the 
political unrest instrumental in producing it were the 
numberless treatises and epistles devoted to political 
subjects only appearing during the latter half of the 
1 6th century. D'Arcy's Fall of Ireland and the 

® Sir J. Mackintosh. 


Causes which Produced it, Douglas' treatise on the 
Miseries of Ireland, with the writings of Walsh, 
Water field, and Cusack, were some of the most notable. 
Other contemporary writers, native and Anglo-Irish, 
were numerous, not the least of them Creagh, the 
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, the prelate 
who, after his arrest, and in hourly expectation of a 
summons to the scaffold, was offered pardon and a 
reward to ordain the reformed bishops. The offer 
was refused. 

Though, despite twenty years' residence in Ireland, 
the poet Spenser can hardly be claimed as an Anglo- 
Irishman, it was to Ireland and the works of her 
native poets he was indebted for many allusions in 
some, and the matter of other, poems and prose 
writings. From his Irish home and its vicinity, the 
descriptive natural scenery in which he excelled 
received its inspiration or was derived, and it was 
there his best work was executed. During the opera- 
tions round Smerwick, Spenser became acquainted 
with Sir Walter Raleigh. A life-long friendship 
between the poetical official and the literary soldier 
ensued, to which English literature is indebted for the 
fine poem, " Colin Clout's come Home again." The 
most important, in an historical sense, of Spenser's 
works, A View of the State of Ireland, though not 
published till long after his death, had been circulated 
in MS. for some time prior to his departure from 

At a period when Latin , was .the_acknowledged 
medium of communicatipn hp.twpprij.he learned pf all 


guropean countries, there are innumerable proofs that 
the Irish not only excelled in their k nowledge^of. 
and were capable of conducting corresponden ce in, 
it, but that this badge_ of cultur e was almpsLa.sjaniiHar^ 
to the elder generation as their native tongue .*^ Among 
other proofs, a proclamation of the year 1557 affirmed 
that it was written in Latin to ensure its being under- 
stood by the Irish leaders. Lord Deputy Sidney 
found McWilliam Eighter, a Norman-Irish noble, 
wanting in the English tongue, but conversant with 
Latin; and O'Rourke, the proud Lord of Leitrim, 
parleyed with the English Privy Council in the same 
tongue. This ability to make use of Latin wasjaot 
confined to the educated males jof^ th^_jnore 
cultured classes alorie. In Captain Cuellar's narrative 
5f "^his'lojourn with the wild Irish of the West he 
mentions the instance of a common boy who could 
speak Latin, and the daughters of a chief, at whose 
castle Cuellar stayed, were able to understand Latin, 
and by means of it taught him fragments of Irish. 

As a medium of literary expression, the native 
language was not wholly neglected either, many 
ballads, elegies, and songs of the period being still 
extant. In addition to the three O'Clerys of " Four 
Masters" fame, there were two families, O'Coffeys 
and O'Dalys, well known for their literary attainments 
of a religious or laudatory nature. Several of the 
chiefs also maintained the national taste and re pute 
for learning^ F2orence_WacCjLrtl;y. More, thougE" 

» O'Grad 


educated in the wilds of Carbery, his only companions 
the sons of rebel chiefs, was in ^ctual accom- 
pli^ ments the equal, if not superior, of tnany of 
t he scholarly courtiers of the learned Elizabeth o r her 
pedantic successor, James. MacCarthy^s letters in 
English are in all the essentials of educati on superior 
to any emanating from the English officials of the 
time in Ireland. So pronounced was MacCarthy's 
scholarship that one enthusiastic biographer has 
insinuated that to the coincidence of Sir Walter Raleigh 
and MacCarthy being confined in the Tower of 
London together, the former owed much of the varied 
knowledge displayed in his History of the World, 

Even during the troublous period following the 
Reformation, when it was said Irishmen were more 
ignorant than at any previous period, through the 
seminaries being ruined and scarcely any competent 
teachers remained, a few schools, supported by the 
chiefs, still kept the sacred flame alight. The south 
in this respect was reputed better provided than the 
north. Amongst others a school of law and history 
flourished under the MacEgans in Tipperary, and in 
Clare the O'Davorens maintained another establish- 
ment. Later still, a college in Galway, protected by 
its remote situation on the brink of the Atlantic, had 
a large number of scholars in daily attendance, and 
continued flourishing until the following reign, when 
it was suppressed for nonconformity. 

The desir e for and estimation in which learning was 
hel^ is also evident from one writer's statement that, 
although as^ a rule the^^jbegan^to learn early, he had 


seen lusty fellows of twenty-five years and upwards at 
some primitive schools grovelling flat upon couches 
of straw, their books at their noses, learning, as was 
the custom, everything by rote. 

In the less primitive establishments !|^atin was I he 
principal sub ject taugh t; leechcraf t, law, and caligraphy 
were ne^ct m importance, though other subjects were 
not neglected. Caligraphy had from remote times 
received particular attention, and was still in a measure 
a national specialty, great proficiency having been 
attained in actual penmanship, and in the composition 
and durability of the various coloured inks used. 

To become proficient in English law Irish students 
vvere willing to undergo the privations and incur the 
risks of a journey to London, the names of twelve 
appearing in the books of two of the Inns of Court 
during the latter half of the century. Paris and Oxford 
also were familiar with them, though, characteristically, 
their names appear most frequently in connection with 
disturbances in those places. During the reign of 
Henry VIII. the allegation that the Irish students 
were the principals in the prevalent quarrels and 
disturbances which agitated Oxford, led to an order 
prohibiting their resorting to that seat of learning. 
Subsequently this order appears to have fallen into 
abeyance, for it was remarked later that a certain 
precursor of disturbances in Ireland was the withdrawal 
from Oxford (to prevent their being detained as 
hostages) of young chiefs and students of family. 

Trinity Colle^^e. Dublin, founded in<;fg9j^ did not 
attract scholars for some time. The country was too 


unsettled, and religious dissensions too acute, for an 
establishment of its description to at once take the 
place intended by its founder. 

Medicine. — Irish writers claim that prior to and 
during the i6th century the profession of medicine 
had attained some degree of scientific knowledge in 
their country. A claim that appears to be based on 
the honour in which the profession was held, and the 
assertion contained in a MS. of the year 1432 (now 
said to be in Dublin), that the circulation of the blood 
was then known to the native physicians. The first 
of these proofs, if they can be called such, is capable 
of another interpretation. For, as the system by which 
members of noble and learned families practically 
monopolised the medical profession was still in 
operation, the esteem in which its professors were 
held was more probably due to the national respect 
for birth and learning of any sort. Then as to the 
other proof That the anticipation, by nearly two 
centuries, of Harvey's discovery could have remained 
the exclusive property of Irish physicians is in itself 
strange. But that a fact of such importance should 
have escaped observation by other writers, or have 
left no trace in the practice of the period, is stranger 
still. Failing other proof — and the scanty details we 
possess of their medicine and remedies contain none — 
we are forced to the conclusion that the professional 
knowledge of Irish physicians was of the empirical 
nature common at the period. 

Another assertion is that physicians were not 
entitled to any reward or remuneration unless a cure 


was effected, or a special agreement had been entered 
into, a custom sought to be connected with the 
bodily vigour and freedom from sickness declared to 
be characteristic of the people. Probably the custom, 
if it existed at all, was a survival from the old social 
system of kinship and dependency, when the majority 
of physicians were men of independent means. 

Handicrafts. — Though the practice of confining 
the numbers engaged in the professions and handicrafts 
to those possessing a hereditary right or some social 
status had for some time ceased to command com- 
pliance, the numbers devoted to these pursuits had in 
Elizabethan Ireland diminished rather than increased. 
Since every species of unrest, detrimental to efficiency 
in the arts and sciences, had become domiciled in the 
Island, all manual occupations, except the profession 
of arms and the handicrafts connected with it, were 
either disappearing for want of employment, or drag- 
ging on a precarious existence in the shelter of the 
walled towns, and considered imported occupations, to 
which the natives were supposed to be strangers. 
Metal working and musical instrument making, two 
handicrafts most closely identified with the daily 
avocations and genius of all classes ; those in which 
most progress had hitherto taken place, were becoming 
lost crafts, scarcely a trace of the latter remaining in 
the 17th century. 

Notwithstanding this unusual want of appreciation, 
with its resultant poverty of execution, Elizabethan 
Ireland afforded numerous proofs that the Irish for- 
merly possessed both taste and the necessary skill to 


carry out their ideas. Examples of wood and metal 
carving derived from this period and still extant, dis- 
playing in design, execution, and knowledge of metals, 
a proficiency equal to any contemporaneous work. 

In architecture, and its contributory art, wood carv< 
ing, they had likewise attained great proficiency. 
Cormac's Chapel at Cashel, the Church at Killishin, 
and the remains of Castledermot Abbey ; not to men- 
tion numerous others, all purely Irish work, exhibiting 
a degree of culture unsurpassed at any period. That 
specimens of architectural skill have been restricted 
almost entirely to sacred and military edifices, was due 
in a measure to the political and social systems of the 
Irish differing from those of countries in which ex- 
amples of the art are now so numerous. In Ireland 
the tenure of lands and dignities was more evanescent 
than in other countries, and the incentive usually pre- 
sent in the erection of costly permanent buildings, 
other than those mentioned, was absent. That ancient 
examples of even these buildings are not more 
numerous may be fairly attributed to the incessant wars 
of the later Reformation period, and the iconoclastic 
spirit of the Cromwellian occupation. The former led 
to the total demolition or ruination of many military 
buildings, while the latter involved in a common 
destruction military and religious edifices alike that had 
escaped, or been erected, during the previous period. 
A similar explanation applies to ancient or mediaeval 
specimens of the sculptor's art. Excepting crosses and 
shrines few of these now exist. Those best known 
are the figures of horsemen and galloglasses sculptured 


on the mausoleum of an O'Connor, half {sic) King 
of Connaught in the 15th century. 

Proof of the capacity for artistic work of the native 
artizans was, until well in the 19th century, furnished 
by a large wooden framework house, erected in an old 
northern town during the late Elizabethan period. 
On the heavy ornamental front the name of the artist 
responsible for the carving was displayed in Irish 
lettering, a sure indication of the absence of work- 
men of other nationalities, otherwise the English 
townsmen would not have employed native workmen. 

References to the condition of science and handi- 
crafts during the period under review are singularly 
few, a circumstance due not to the paucity of material 
for more extended notice, but to the tone of men's 
minds. The times were too hazardous, and the 
struggle by all classes too strenuous, to admit of many 
refinements. Nevertheless, recent investigations have 
furnished grounds for the claim that in Ireland alone 
among western countries is it possible to trace the 
growth of native architecture from the rude concep- 
tions of primitive man to the artistic masterpieces we 
have mentioned. 

To those unacquainted with mediaeval Irish work- 
manship in metals, and thus unable to form an idea of 
what was common with the Elizabethan Irish, a rough 
description of the best known specimens now preserved 
will not be out of place. Among shrines or reliquaries — 
ancient boxes for containing sacred objects or papers 
of interest, usually rectangular in shape, and broader 
at the base than the top — the best known is that used 


as a receptacle for the iron bell of the patron saint 
The outer case of bronze with silver and gold orna- 
ments displays taste and execution of a high order. 
Another, a book shrine, the Domnach Airgid, 
originally contained a copy of the Psalms, dated the 
6th century, and a Latin copy of the Four Gospels ; 
probably one of the oldest existing copies of these 
sacred books. It consists of an inner box of yew, 
enclosed in a bronze cover, silver plated, both fitting 
into an outer silver case. The last — the most recent 
being as late, if not later, than the 14th century — has 
carved on the front a group of eleven male and female 
figures of saints, angels, and ecclesiastics, surveying 
the crucifixion. Other figures show with minute 
accuracy the costumes of Irish nobles of the period. 
All the figures are of more artistic finish than is usual 
in contemporaneous work. 

Though personal ornaments were much affected by 
the old Irish, relatively few specimens are now 
obtainable. Fortunately those that are comprise both 
ornaments and those intended to be used as currency 
as well as ornamentation. The best known are : the 
Tara brooch, a pattern of filagree work with settings 
of amber, glass, and enamel ; and the Ardagh brooch, 
a beautiful specimen of gilt silver work. 

Among crosses, that known as the Cross of Cong 
occupies, for beauty of design and workmanship, a 
place apart. It is of bronze and silver, with ornaments 
of gilt bronze and gold, studded with crystals and 
enamels. Croziers also were favourite objects of 
artistic adornment. To the belief that oaths taken 


on them were particularly solemn and binding we 
probably owe the preservation of those now known. 
Examination of the full-sized drawing of the Aghadoe 
crozier in the National Museum, Dublin, or of the 
more recent one in Lismore Castle, will convince the 
most sceptical that in the art of metal working the 
mere Irish owed nothing to foreign influence or 

Formerly, iron was wrought in some parts of the 
country, but for some reason, probably the native 
objection to disforesting, and their contempt for 
armour, the large quantities of timber available were 
not used to any large extent. 

Printing. — Although manuscript books were 
common and numerous, and the art of book-binding 
had been long practised, Ireland was much behind 
other countries in the adoption and utilisation of the 
art of printing. Why this should have been so will 
probably remain a matter of conjecture. As far as 
the Irish were concerned the difficulty arising from 
the different alphabetical characters required would 
account for some of the delay, but this did not affect 
the Anglo-Irish or English settlers. 

The exact year in which the first book was printed 
in the country is involved in some uncertainty, the 
honour having been claimed for the years 1551 and 
1557. In both cases the books. The Liturgy in English 
and The Boke of Common Praier, were printed in 
Dublin. Probably the similarity between the last 
figures in the dates has caused the confusion, and the 
first date is the correct one. For in the last-mentioned 


year Nicholas Walsh, Chancellor of St. Patrick's, 
introduced type in the native character, and pamphlets 
in English had been certainly printed before then. 
Before this decadal period all printed matter, when 
not imported as merchandise, had formed part of the 
personal belongings of scholarly officials or returning 
students. From Dublin the new fashion spread 
rapidly to the other coast towns in English possession, 
but made way very slowly inland. 

Agriculture. — The Irish of the sixteenth century 
were principally an agricultural and pastoral people , 
the farming class and their dependents constituting 
the bulk of the population. Originally, natural and 
social surroundings had given a national bias to this 
form of industry, which their insular position had 
served to confirm. Later, political considerations, by 
still more rigorously isolating the people, and throwing 
the upper classes entirely on their own resources, led 
them, in time, to consider sport and war the only occupa- 
tions becoming them. The partiality for sport thus 
acquired necessitated the employment of numbers of 
the population in providing food for the appurtenances 
of the chase, whilst the never-ceasing internecine feuds, 
and the difficulty of communications, obliged all to 
depend upon their own exertions for food for man and 

Then as now, parts of the country were very back- 
ward and agriculture was comparatively neglected. 
A circumstance not altogether due to reliance upon a 
bountiful climate instead of personal exertions, nor to 
the wasteful and improvident methods then in vogue. 


An improved system and appliances have done much 
for the advancement of agriculture within the last 
few generations, yet large tracts of country are still 
unprofitable. All the more reason, therefore, for 
admitting that, considering t he primi tive melhoila 
and implements in use, t he acknowledged plenitude 
of sto ck, and hi gh state of culti vation prove that 
j^eitherin clination nor apt itude for agriculture^aiid 
husbandry were wanting, when conditions were at all 
favourable. t5f this there are innumerable proofs. In 
1564 the whole of the north (hitherto considered the 
least advanced portion of the country) was said to be 
following all kinds of husbandry and the sowing of 
wheat. Spenser thought the most part of the base sort 
were fit for labour and industriously disposed. Fenton 
reported that owing to the security introduced by 
Florence Mac Carthy, all the Mac Carthy septs were 
habituated to the plough and all husbandry ; and 
Moryson was surprised at the beauty and fertility of 
O' Moore's country, and the neat manner in which it 
was laid out for tillage. It was further said that in 
Leinster, beyond the Pale, the natives had so cultivated 
the land as to establish an unusual regularity and 
plenty in their districts. 

Contemporary writings contain frequent references 
to the uncertainties of the times affecting agriculture, 
amongst others. The Kildare men having been 
concerned in some Geraldine revolt, were afraid to till 
their lands, and let them go out of cultivation. One 
of the O'Neills, as a precaution against the harvest 
falling into the hands of the Royalists, compelled his 


followers to take an oath agaiiibt sowing corn. Both 
sides admitted, that in the vicinity of the newly-built 
forts and garrisoned castles, between the Irish objecting 
to benefit the soldiers, and the soldiers being disin- 
clined to sow where they might not reap, the lands 
were becoming waste. 

The evil effects upon the cultivation of the land of 
some of the native customs, having for their object the 
compulsory support of soldiers, had been recognised, 
and the subject of legislation for some time. But it 
was not until the year 1 582 that the custom of bonnaght 
was renounced by the Crown. That the native system, 
whereby the ranks were filled and levies provisioned, 
was also detrimental to agriculture, although the locality 
affected may not have been the actual seat of war, is 
proved by the fact that whenever a cessation of warfare 
permitted many cultivators to return to their fields, and 
relieved them from the burden of maintaining men 
under arms, farming occupations immediately began to 
flourish again. Still, when estimating the effect upon 
agriculture or husbandry of the native system, we must 
not forget that the system contemplated the females, 
and old men and boys unable to bear arms, doing most 
of the field work and care of cattle, and that this 
generally happened during the absence of the able- 
bodied men of the family. A diversion of labour never 
contemplated by the Irish system, but which adversely 
affected agricultural operations also, was the constant 
employment afforded the labouring class on the works 
undertaken in pursuance of the official determination to 
finally settle the country. 


Yet these were but subsidiary factors. The main 
reason for the decay ^jl^ agriculture during the 
i fllzabethan period was the i ntroduction bv _th£R£yalist 

commanders of systematic mP t-hndc; nf Hpc;f-rnyino^pvpry 

vesti£e_ af _ cjaltivation in order to produce^ faming. 
Wanting in the quality of dogged perseverance, and 
inclined to fatalism, as the people undoubtedly were, 
the uncertainty of reaping what they had sown 
produceS a general repug-nance to agricultural pursuit s. 
As time progressed, and no improvement in the 
condition of the country took place, this repugnance 
became confirmed. And a n ew generatign grew up 
with more fait h in the sword than_the plough, as a 
means of extorting subsiste nce. 

Maritime. — The considerable trade with foreign 
parts was principally carried on by Irish vessels 
manned by native crews. Numbers of the natives also, 
especially on the south and west coasts, were employed 
in the constant deep sea fisheries, but the inferior 
description of boats and appliances at their command 
restricted their efforts in this direction. The coasting 
traffic was mainly carried on by small vessels called 
" barcas," or by the still more fragile " curragh," 
constructed of wicker-work and skins. By the French 
and sailors, who for fishing and trading purposes visited 
their coasts, the Irish were considered good and 
intrepid seamen. 

One sept, the O'Malleys, the last representatives of 
independent Irish naval strength, were reported to 
be powerful in galleys and seamen. Under the leader- 
ship of the notorious " Grana Uaile," or Grace O'Malley, 


this power was used to ravage and plunder the 
maritime towns and districts, both native and English. 
To obtain pardon for crimes committed in the course 
of these raids the "Queen of the West," as she was 
usually called, journeyed to London to interview her 
sister and gossip, the " Virgin Queen." Immediately on 
her return, while still under the influence of the loyal 
feeling resulting from her gracious reception, " Grana 
Uaile " offered Lord Deputy Sidney the services of two 
hundred men and three galleys. To the continuance 
of these services the rise of the family fortunes may be 
traced, for the son of this lady, Theobald Burke, 
having taken a prominent part with his galleys in some 
Royalist operations on the west and north coasts, 
figures in history as the first Viscount Mayo. 

On another occasion the O'Malleys threw in their 
lot with the Irish Confederates, and by their intimate 
knowledge of the numerous harbours and indentations 
on the southern and western coasts proved of some 
.assistance to the Munster insurgents. From their 
exploits on these and other occasions, familiarity with 
the storm-tossed mighty ocean of their native shores 
appears to have bred in them a fearlessness and 
contempt for natural dangers denied to mariners in less 
turbulent waters. Another naval sept were the 
O'Driscolls. Less piratically inclined than the 
O'Malleys, they in the long wars adhered to the 
Royalist cause. 

Piracy, as distinct from plundering the coasts, was 
not unknown to the Irish, though not carried on so 
extensively or systematically as by English and Scotch 



mariners. The Irish ships, or rather galleys, with 
their low freeboard and relatively high prow and stems, 
depended more upon the physical exertions of the 
proportionately large numbers of men they carried, 
than upon their ordinary rig of a single mast with one 
square sail. Black in colour, and low in the water, they 
were more adapted for stealthy depredations round the 
coasts than attacks upon sea-going-vessels armed with 
the cannon of the period, indifferent as that was. 

The decay of the maritime spirit and decrease in 
the number of vessels of the Elizabethan Irish was 
the incidental result of the determination of the 
Queen's Government to put an end to the incursions 
of the Scots of the Isles, prevent the adjacent islands 
continuing to be used as places of refuge by undesir- 
ables, and stop the intercourse with Spain — a measure 
eventually effected by destroying all galleys and ships 
not legitimately employed or belonging to disaffected 
or predatory owners, and expedited by commissioning 
special ships for searching all the harbours and inlets 
of mainland and isles. The superior armament and 
more scientific seamanship of the English vessels soon 
succeeded in driving the native galleys from the sea. 
In this suppression of the sea-fighting power of the 
chiefs, as with other instances where native ideas, 
system, or customs were antagonistic to the more 
modern ones represented by the English, changed 
conditions told against the Irish. The days of the 
galley as a sea-fighting machine were numbered, and 
the Irish possessed no means of building ships of 
equal size or power with those of their opponents. 


Sport. — The numerous wild animals lurking in the 
immense forests, and the abundance of small game, 
afforded ever-present opportunities for indulging the 
sporting instincts of the people, and provided a 
recreation in which both nationalities frequently met 
without dispute. 

Fishing, with single or three-pronged spears ; falconry, 
coursing hares, and tracking wolves, wild boars, red 
deer, badgers, and otters, appear to have been the 
favourite forms of sport. Occasionally the use of the 
bow is mentioned, but the spear was the weapon 
ordinarily used against the larger animals. For the 
pursuit of these immense drives were organised, all 
available men of the district assembling and driving 
the game in a specified direction. Though intended 
to fall, of course, to the spears of the gentry, it was 
not considered a breach of etiquette for any person 
engaged in the battue to kill, or assist in killing, the 
larger description of game — a concession trivial in 
itself, but read by the light of the sanguinary restric- 
tions upon the lower orders killing game intended for 
the amusement of their superiors in other countries, 
speaking volumes for the relations between the classes. 
The numbers employed on these occasions sometimes 
gave rise to complaints from the authorities that the 
sporting establishments of chiefs and nobles were out 
of all proportion to their position or the results 
attained, unless the sport was but the prelude to more 
serious occupations. 

Hounds, wolf and deer, " bigger of bone and limb 
than a colt," and hawks, were greatly appreciated and 


in much request, considerable attention being devoted 
to breeding and training them in regular establishments 
maintained for the purpose, it being a not unusual 
sight amidst the retinues of the chiefs to see gaily- 
dressed attendants leading hounds wearing silver 
collars. So much were trained hawks and hounds 
appreciated, and the practice of sending them to 
England for presents attained such proportions, that 
it became necessary to impose a duty to discourage 
their exportation. For a goshawk thirteen shillings 
and fourpence had to be paid ; for a tiercel half this 
amount. In return, the English sent horses adapted 
for chargers — * chief " horses, as they were termed. 
From the Duke of Albuquerque soliciting a grant of 
two goshawks and four greyhounds, and the King of 
Spain having been presented with hounds and hawks 
likewise, it would appear they were appreciated abroad 

The Irish were admitted to be excellent horsemen 
and fearless riders, a fact which impressed foreigners 
all the more from their custom of using only a small 
light saddle or pad, without stirrups. In the matter 
of horsemanship and knightly accomplishments in 
general there was great rivalry between them and the 
English gallants. Physical culture had at the time 
become a fashionable pursuit among the better classes 
in England, consequently the native gentry found 
most of the younger officials and adventurers who 
came to Ireland worthy antagonists, both in sport and 
war. Irish ladies appear to have been more indepen- 
dent horsewomen than those of other countries. They 


neither rode behind male relations nor servants, nor 
used horses specially selected or bred for them, as 
was the fashion elsewhere. Their position on horse- 
back, on the off or opposite side to that now 
customary, was peculiar to them also. 

The desire of the chiefs and gentry to obtain 
English horses for use as chargers, and the trouble 
taken to improve the breed of the native horse, 
indicates a strong appreciation of an animal since 
more directly associated with the country. Another 
frequently noticed partiality, that for decorated 
saddles and gilt bridles, was attributed to a barbaric 
taste for display. In reality it was more an atavistic 
reminiscence from the time when horse trappings were 
exacted as a tribute, and in some cases became a 

Amusements. — Music, in which the Irish were said 
to possess great skill, the recital of annals of war and 
the chase, with some form of the game of chess, were 
the amusements of the better classes of both sexes. 
For chess the poorer people substituted gossip, to 
which they were believed to be inordinately attached. 
Ladies, and females exempt from household duties 
also, occupied their abundant leisure in needlework 
and embroidery. At the latter they were reputed to 
be specially proficient. 

Bards, rhymers, and professional musicians invariably 
formed part of the establishments of the chiefs and 
Norman-Irish nobles. The former were generally men 
of considerable means and local importance, their 
ancient reputation and knowledge as genealogists, 


historians, and chroniclers of current events still casting 
an atmosphere of respectful consideration round them. 
Proof of the estimation in which they were held may 
be discerned in the suggestion of Florence MacCarthy, 
that their services should be enlisted to influence the 
people in favour of the English. In their licence of 
satire and custom of introducing in their songs dis- 
paraging remarks upon individuals, as well as from the 
efficacy believed to be inherent in their maledictions, 
the Bards possessed effective means of influencing all 
classes. On their suppression and disappearance the 
latter attribute was believed to have been appropriated 
by the clergy. 

According to O'Curry, the musical effusions of the 
Bards were both plaintive and mirth-provoking, dis- 
playing considerable talent. To produce the sweet 
and rapid music they were renowned for (differing 
from the modern in the note intervals) they were in 
the habit of wearing the nails long and turned in like 
quills ; an easily-detected peculiarity which often cost 
them dearly. During the i6th century the musical 
functions of the Bards were being abandoned to, or 
rather appropriated by, the harpers, by whom music 
alone was practised. Concurrently a new class o\ 
entertainers, known as rhymers, were making good 
their claim to the metrical branch of the bardic 
profession. By native accounts the ability oi these 
rhymers to improvise must have been considerable, or 
their audiences not too critical, for they were reputed 
able to give a rhyming and fairly accurate description 
of an event immediately after its occurrence. 


The Elizabethan legend connected with the music 
of " Eileen Aroon " before its appropriation and adap- 
tation to the song " Robin Adair," if not demons- 
tratively true, is strongly illustrative of the consideration 
shown to the musical profession, the abilities of the 
old bardic families, and their familiarity with the 
modern musical system. An O'Daly, desirous of con- 
tracting a marriage distasteful to his relatives, was 
compelled by them to leave the country. Returning 
secretly after some years absence he found the former 
object of his affections about to be married to a rival, 
and obtained admittance to the wedding banquet in 
the guise of a wandering harper. Unrecognised by 
the bride, he was requested by her, according to custom, 
to give an exhibition of his skill. O'Daly complied, 
and gave to the world the exquisite melody now so 
well known. 

Harps and bagpipes were the musical instruments 
most commonly met with. The former varied in shape 
and size, had from thirty to forty or more strings, and 
were usually constructed of yew wood, decorated with 
crystals, after the native fashion. The harps most 
affected were small, generally triangular in shape, and 
of a size admitting of easy carriage, or of resting on 
the knee when in use. The bagpipes were of the 
pattern now known as Irish pipes, differing from the 
more modern Scotch pattern in the arrangement by 
which air was introduced into them. 

Musicians of all classes, rhymers, and travelling 
jesters were always certain of a pleasant reception, 
food, and accommodation, if not remuneration, as they 


journeyed from place to place exhibiting their musical 
skill and readiness in repartee, or the narration of 
interminable stories. Of these there appears to have 
been a varied assortment, the most popular, next to 
battles and hunting adventures, those in which the 
supernatural played a leading part. The activity of 
these itinerant vendors of amusement, as well as that 
of the beggar class, had been diverted into what may 
be termed a house to house visitation through the 
suppression of fairs and other assemblages of the 
people, where formerly they reaped their richest 
harvest. In the Pale districts but little difficulty was 
experienced in discountenancing all attempts at 
collecting the inhabitants. In others the chiefs stipu- 
lated not to continue holding fairs or " paries upon 
hills." Hurling and other national games appear to 
have fallen into abeyance also. 

Keeners. — Battle and murder, pestilence and 
famine, combined with the operations of natural laws, 
furnished constant employment to another class of 
public servants — the professional mourners or keeners. 
The functions of these, wo men g;enerally, consisted in 
a ccompanying funeral processions^ and punctuating 
^[it h loud cri es of mourning and ^rief, the lamentation s 
q^dj)rations describing the exploits or virtues of the 
deceased, and the blank left by his or her removal. 
Native accounts state that some of these lamentations 
displayed considerable metrical abilit y, and the orations, 
in which an i ntimate knowledge of the persons an j 
characters of the dead was a necessary feature, no 
small share of eloquence. On the other hand, l^oglishi 


men were not so f avourably impressed by the 
performances of these hired mourners, or the loud 
weeping, and violen t beating of their b reasts by the 
female relations, terming the one barbarous outcries 
and bowlings, the others extravagant manifestations 
of sorrow. 

General Conditions. — History acquaints us with 
the possibility of a nation experiencing the loss ot 
country and political independence, without to any 
extent reflecting in their occupations and environment 
what was passing in their midst. Such was not the 
case in Elizabethan Ireland. Though the new con- 
ditions had been imposed in some parts, and threatened 
in others, for years, their universal enforcement 
disastrously affected every part of the country, and 
both sections of the population. In the native and 
English districts alike, open rebellion, as one side 
termed it, resistance for liberty and conscience sake, 
as the other side considered it, raged intermittently. 
NSS. classes in town and country suffered ; the Irish 
and those who adhered to them the most. The decline 
in fortune of chiefs and nobility led to a more frequent 
recourse to rights and privileges that, borne cheerfully 
before, now served but to hasten the impoverishment 
of those from whom they were exacted. The illegal 
demands, murders, and robberies, by soldiers and 
predatory bands, increased the distress and poverty, 
while. official rapacity, under the guise of precautionary 
measures rendered necesssary by the disturbed state 
of the country, completed the ruin. Instances were 
frequent, of ladies of high rank, and chiefs, venerable 


ecclesiastics and children, having been compelled to 
take to the woods and fastnesses, with no other shelter 
than that natural to such places, living like savages or 
animals until an opportunity offered to flee to France 
or Spain. The lower orders also were quitting their 
native districts or the country in search of the con- 
genial means of existence the flight or shattered 
fortunes of their social superiors had deprived them of 

To replace this loss of population and provide 
labour, the new owners of the soil were importing 
scores of their countrymen; while numbers of Scots 
were hastening to the standards of those still able 
to entertain them. Both sections, lacking the heredi- 
tary incentives to tribal loyalty, and more bent upon 
personal enrichment than maintaining the public peace, 
threatened to become the most intolerable of all the 
plagues troubling the country. 

Before the unceasing warfare of the border districts 
culminated in a general revolt the Pale counties had 
participated in the universal improvement in social 
conditions marking the Tudor period, and attained 
a comparatively flourishing condition. In the towns, 
villages, and homesteads, numerous families lived in 
a state of comfort and refinement equal to that of 
corresponding classes in England. At the same time 
the circumstances of the principal people had so 
improved, that in all the essentials of comfort and 
well-being there was as great a contrast between their 
condition and that of their predecessors as between 
a yeoman and a good squire.^ 

8 Lord Deputy Sidney. 


Encompassed by difficulties of every description, 
with the flame of armed resistance spreading, the 
authorities and the means at their disposal proved 
unequal to the strain. Law and order practically 
ceased, and the prosperous condition of the Pale 
vanished, to be replaced by one in which idle men 
doing harms, spoils, and robberies, terrorised the 
country by day ; while the border Irish, under cover 
of darkness, assisted their countrymen from the native 
districts in nightly raids. Where before the excessive 
levying of cess, and the restrictions placed upon 
retaliatory incursions, were considered intolerable 
grievances, they now groaned under the impositions 
and exactions of the soldiers sent for their protection ; 
the people in many places quitting their habitations 
rather than be subject to them.^ 

Away towards the western and northern coasts, 
the economic conditions and daily life we have 
endeavoured to depict were still struggling for exist- 
ence, the vitality displayed bearing an almost 
regular proportion to the distance and accessibility 
of the district from the seat of government. 

It was a struggle which could have but one termin- 
ation. Persistence in the struggle only accentuated 
the fact, that though in all natural essentials equal to 
the neighbouring peoples, the Irish were not only 
falling behind in the race for material prosperity, they 
were actually retrogressing. For this, their reluctance 
to part with language, manners, and customs — originally 
framed for a more embryonic state ot society, and too 
» Orders in Council, HalUday MSS. 


inelastic for changed conditions — ^was partly respon- 
ible. For the remainder, English statecraft, and 
the political and social environment it produced, 
was accountable. 

The close of the Elizabethan period — the most 
fateful in her whole modern history — saw Ireland of 
the Irish launched on that career of ruinous decline 
she perforce trod for a whole century. Her population 
was decreasing. Those that remained were parting 
with the best of their native qualities, without acquiring 
or assimilating those of their conquerors. At the 
same time that religion and learning were becoming 
but memories, associated with all that is foreign to 
their spirit, the religious toleration common to both 
nationalities was giving place to a bigoted and clerically 
directed exclusiveness. Agriculture was fading into 
a tradition; and commerce into an incident of the 
past. The national tendency to combinings, clandestine 
associations, and secret practices, sure symptoms of 
mental or political inferiority, may be first noticed 
at this period. Perceptible likewise in story and song, 
legend and tradition, is that undercurrent of mournful 
sadness now considered typical of the national 
temperament. Dating from this period also is the 
growing belief, eloquent in its suggestiveness, that 
henceforth to the Irish their native country was no 
longer their home. 


Urban Exclusiveness.— In the i6th century the 
municipal constitution of the cities and walled towns 
of Ireland was nominally similar to that which prevailed 
in England, such differences as there were arising 
from the more recent origin of the corporations, 
(expressed in the official designations of their chief 
magistrates) or from the towns being practically 
garrisons in the midst of a population in many 
respects racially distinct from them. 

This isolated situation prevented any increase of 
population by the usual influx from the surrounding 
country ; so that in process of time, by intermarriages 
and prescription, the management of municipal affairs 
became the monopoly of a few families in each town. 
Very few, indeed, of these families were of Irish 
extraction, and even these had originally conformed 
to a certain standard, and adopted both English 
language and costume. 

In some towns the exclusiveness thus characterising 
them was maintained by the mode of election effectually 
precluding the mere Irish or their immediate descen- 
dants attaining civic honours. To such an extent 
was this racial differentiation carried that marrying 
an Irishwoman disfranchised the husband. Some of 
the towns, moreover, were forbidden to appoint con- 
stables, i.e., governors, other than of English birth. 


To this long-continued possession of civic positions, 
and the opportunities for aggrandisement thus afforded, 
the rise of what may be termed city aristocracies was 
due. The more important merchant families claimed 
to be, and were considered, gentry, marrying and 
associating with the nobles and landowners on equal 
terms; an admission of equality reflecting no slur 
upon the native nobles or gentry, many junior members 
of these classes being also engaged in trade. The 
false pride that affected to despise trade, while utilising 
to the full the wealth derived from its successful 
prosecution, being a product of later years, originating 
with the descendants of enriched traders. 

Nationality. — The original nationality of the 
citizens generally varied with their locality. In the 
east coast towns, with the exception of Drogheda 
and Wexford, the descendants of Danes (known as 
Ostmen) predominated. Dublin was a purely Danish 
town until the I2th century, when, having been given 
to the people of Bristol, they colonised it. The 
inhabitants of Drogheda were of English extraction ; 
Wexford also, as was to be expected from its situation, 
was particularly noticeable for retaining the old English 
dress and idiom. In the south, Cork had received 
and absorbed a number of Danish rovers ; while 
Limerick owed its importance to English settlers, 
though the names of some of the early chief magistrates 
are distinctly Anglo-Irish. Galway city, though 
originally founded by Danes, was peopled by citizens 
whose names denoted English extraction ; and was 
peculiar in having in addition to the usual laws against 


the mere Irish one decreeing that " neither O nor Mac 
strut nor swagger through the streets." ^ 

Stringent regulations were in force in many of the 
towns prohibiting the mere Irish from entering them, 
places outside the walls being appropriated, where they 
might remain or conduct business. In most cases 
these places, known as " Irishtown," are now within 
the bounds of the cities, a circumstance assisting to 
give some idea of the actual area formerly occupied 
by the towns. 

Effect of Exclusiveness.— Distrust or dislike 
so openly shown was not calculated to promote good 
feeling, consequently there are frequent references in 
the annals of the cities to the " wild Irish " swooping 
down on them. Dublin, owing to its proximity to 
the Wicklow hills, the homes of the OTooles and 
O'Byrnes, suffered severely from raids. On one 
occasion the Queen's Exchequer, situated without the 
east gate, having been plundered by a party of these 
septs. Similar feelings limited the movements of other 
townspeople ; for the Mayor of Cork at the end of the 
century gave as a reason for the absence of means 
of conveyance from that city, that " the citizens durst 
not travel abroad." 

The Irish were not always the foe most dreaded by 
the townsmen. During the continuous warfare of 
Elizabeth's reign the exactions of friends did almost 
as much damage as the attacks of foes. Between 
them both some of the cities experienced vicissitudes 
that now appear incredible. Armagh, for instance, 

^ Hardiman. 


was alternately occupied and ravaged by Royalists or 
Irish on five occasions within a space of forty years. 
Other walled towns escaped a like fate only through 
having been so devastated at first that there was 
neither object to be gained nor loss to be inflicted by 
re-occupying them again. 

Towns that through their position or strength were 
free from molestation by the Irishry were liable to 
attack from other enemies. The year the Armada 
was destroyed a Spanish force committed great 
depredations in Waterford and Wexford. 

Walled ToWNS.—Forty-three walled cities and 
towns were scattered throughout Elizabethan Ireland, 
all of them built with a view of resisting prolonged 
attacks, as well as sudden raids. The seaport towns, 
the most important, usually had the quay guarded by 
a mole and small castle for protection against foreign 
as well as local pirates, Moorish pirates not unfre- 
quently landing and carrying off some of the 
inhabitants. On the landward side of the maritime 
towns, and encircling the inland ones, were masonry 
walls of unwrought stone having at intervals splayed 
bottom towers, and embrasures for the defenders to 
fire from. One or more massive gates, generally 
decorated with the heads and quarters of Irish enemies, 
were common to all the towns, and in close proximity 
to the gates stout permanent gallows, seldom without 
occupants. Within the walls there was usually 
but one open space, from an idea the more circum- 
scribed the area, providing trade facilities sufficed, 
so much the less to defend. The streets were narrow 


and dark, the houses constructed with thick strong 
walls of wood, faced with rubble, or mud and lath, and 
pierced with narrow windows, not at all unlike the 
houses of the inferior Irish gentry. In some English 
towns, and others which owed their importance to 
early English settlers, wooden framework houses were 
coming into use. 

Waterford was said to be properly built and very 
compact, somewhat close by reason of its thick 
buildings and narrow streets. Limerick — embracing 
a circuit of three miles within the walls— sumptuous 
and substantial. According to Camden, Galway was 
handsomely built of hewn stone ; a city of most perfect 
beauty containing many elegant stone houses, display- 
ing over their carved doorways the armorial bearings 
of its proud merchant princes. And Athenry, before 
its destruction by the Burkes, was said by Sir Henry 
Sidney to be as large as Calais. 

The prefix " ath," a ford, indicates both the origin 
and importance formerly of the towns in whose name 
it appears. The permanent fords usually being of 
military value were commanded by a fort or castle, 
round which, as a nucleus, the town sprang up. The 
prospect of protection guaranteed by the landward 
castles and forts (Dun or Lis) also accounts for the 
foundation of several inland towns. But generally, the 
proximity of abbeys or other ecclesiastical buildings 
(Kil) furnished the motive for the erection of most 
towns and cities. Many of the inland towns like 
Kilkenny and Kilmallock were of relatively great 
importance and size, substantially built, and well 



populated ; forming in times of peace centres of 
commerce and in war places of refuge. Though towns 
were not so numerous as at present, the elimination 
from their number of those through their names pre- 
sumed to be of English origin would not give us the 
exact number, many towns at the period not having 
exchanged their ancient native appellations. 

The relative importance of the towns differed irom 
what we are accustomed to. Waterford, at the time, 
engrossed the bulk of the English trade ; Limerick 
and Galway that with Spain. Of the latter it was said 
that no town in the three nations (London excepted) 
was more considerable for commerce.^ Cork was 
smaller than either of these cities, and Dublin was 
reckoned inferior, in an official sense, to Armagh, until 
the reign of Elizabeth, when the seat of government 
was permanently fixed there; a proceeding which 
incidentally disposed of the claim of Drogheda to be 
considered the most important town in the Kingdom. 
Waterford and Dungannon also were important 
centres of traffic with England, through Bristol, and 
with France and Spain. 

Trade. — Burdensome as the necessary military 
precautions, and the administrative restrictions upon 
commerce with the Irish, must have proved, and not- 
withstanding they were forced to pay certain dues to 
the neighbouring chiefs upon goods from their districts, 
the trade of the towns must have been considerable 
in amount and constant in volume, otherwise they 
would not have contrived to grow wealthy and proud. 

2H. Cromwell. 


An incidental proof of their prosperity is manifest in 
the numerous inns within their walls. All of them 
well equipped and capable of ministering to the wants 
of groups of traders (travelling in company for safety) 
parties of soldiers, or the retinues of noblemen. 

The bulk of the trade was foreign, and was carried on 
by the towns in their own ships, the towns on the east 
coast, known as the Queen's cinque ports of Ireland, 
being credited with possessing a great numberof vessels/ 

Commerce was not the only purpose for which the 
maritime towns maintained ships. Limerick and 
Galway carried on for years an intermittent naval war. 
Waterford, likewise, in retaliation for the plundering 
of one of their ships at Baltimore, many years 
previously, indulged in naval hostilities with the 
reputed plunderer, a southern chief, and eventually^ 
defeated him. An incident of their warfare was a 
determined attack on Waterford itself by the chief 
and a degenerate Anglo-Irish family. 

Part of the trade upon which the maritime towns 
flourished would now be described as blockade running. 
On several occasions Galway and other towns were 
accused of fitting out ships for the purpose (in defiance 
of the Queen's vessels) of supplying the Munster rebels 
with powder and other munitions. 

At this time Dublin was noted for the quality and 
sale of its malt liquor ; said to be the most vendible 
of merchandise, the whole profit of the town depend- 
ing upon that, and the quantities of native usquebagh 
and foreign wines sold. From Moryson remarking 
that at that time the Irish used neither malt nor hops, 


we must suppose the inhabitants of Dublin were 
unaware of the native process and materials used in 
manufacturing whiskey. 

Occasionally the Privy Council, with a view to 
suppress or localise an insurrection, enforced the 
Statute ^ rendering penal the vending of merchandise 
to the Irish. Traffic in corn, specially, was frequently 
hampered by all sorts of restrictions. Later, to assist 
the process of devastation, the authorities pro- 
hibited the English of the Pale selling corn to the 
Irish at all. 

Against this tendency of the Government to interfere 
with trade in furtherance of political objects, the 
corporate towns had some protection in their charters* 
but the market towns were quite at their mercy: 
complaints, which were frequent, proving useless. In 
addition to the regulations affecting the traffic in corn, 
others forbade the sale or purchase of horses or cattle, 
except during stated hours and at appointed places. 
Others again, were devised to promote trade in rather 
an arbitrary manner, such as that forbidding the 
payment of foreign merchants in specie, unless they 
agreed to expend the amount in the purchase of 
other goods in the same town. One of the few 
instances in which government interference proved 
beneficial to trade was the establishing shipwrights 
at Belfast. The accessibility to England, and 
proximity to Carrickfergus — a military stronghold 
and magazine — probably influenced Sir John Perrott 
in the selection. 

' lOth Henry VI, 


That monetary transactions between the town 
capitaHsts and the Irish gentry of the period were not 
unknown, is evident from a Limerick merchant having 
been forcibly dispossessed of a castle he had seized 
in security for a loan to one Teig MacMahon, thus 
losing pledge and loan. 

The difficulty and danger attendant upon recovering 
a debt from an Irishman, beyond the town precincts 
led to the introduction of a law permitting a creditor 
if English, to personally seize the goods of any Irish- 
man found within, or passing through, the town. 
Naturally this led to retaliation. 

The Coinage. — Another much discussed measure 
amongst the Elizabethan townsmen was the condition 
of the coinage. 

In 1543, the Lord Deputy complained to his 
Sovereign of the almost total absence from the country 
of sterling money. To remedy the deficiency a Mint 
was established in Dublin, but in a few years had 
to be closed for want of available material. 

Year after year, though trade increased, the scarcity 
of circulating coin continued, and became an in- 
tolerable burden. Rents, the consideration for 
mortgages, and other payments usually made in 
ready money, were again being paid in kind, and 
nearly all trade was carried on by a process of 

In England also the currency had been taken in 
hand, and the brilliant, though unscrupulous idea, 
was conceived of removing the scarcity of money in 
Ireland by the wholesale importation of English base, 


i.e.^ debased coins. Accordingly proclamations were 
issued decreeing that English coins of a certain date 
were to be accepted in Ireland at, compared with Irish 
money, an enhanced value of half as much again. 
At the same time, other coins, presumably of still less 
value than those termed "base," were to be marked 
with a portcullis and circulated at two-thirds depreci- 
ation on nominal value.* Thus two descriptions of 
currency, in addition to the native coins, known by 
the harp (and worth only two-thirds of their face 
value) were in circulation together. Other current 
coins were said to have been manufactured without 
authority, one chief, if not more, having coined money 
on his own behalf. 

Naturally the merchants and traders in the towns 
proceeded to make their own arrangements with 
regard to the prevalent confusion. Certain coins were 
refused.* Others were only accepted at arbitrary 
values ; whilst to provide some medium of fair trade 
Spanish and other foreign coins were current in the 
towns having commerce with countries beyond the 
seas. Proclamations without number were issued 
against this differential treatment also, making it^ 
and the unauthorised importation of English debased 
coin, a felon y. 

Meanwhile, the enforced circulation proceeded, the 
troops, who were compelled to take the discarded 
coins at their proclamation value, and the Irish, who 
had probably never heard of the proclamations, being 
the great sufferers. 

* Hatfield and HalUday MSS. 


Complaints still continued, but were ignored by 
the Privy Council, on the ground that they were 
simply intended to conceal the fact that large profits 
were being made in the towns by the manipulation 
of the coins. 

Besides complaining of the scarcity of specie, and 
the debased condition of what little remained current, 
the Irish alleged that the authorities had denuded the 
country of all the available gold and silver, sending in 
return, in the year 1601, some brass money only. 
Whether this was so or not, and it certainly does not 
agree with the known scarcity of money among the 
Irish, the only class which profited by these curious 
attempts at restoring the currency were the town 
traders ; and with them the advantage was but 

Self Government. — The absence of direct, or 
almost any, control by the supreme or local govern- 
ments, of the corporate towns in Ireland was at times 
particularly noticeable. Occasionally there is a note 
made of steps taken to bridle the insolence of the 
towns ; usually for some default in matters affecting 
the Executive directly; but as a rule the Lord Deputy, 
and his subordinates the Lord Presidents of provinces, 
left them severely alone, seldom attempting or pro- 
fessing to protect them against nobles or chiefs on land 
nor from pirates by sea. 

Though the authorities, by way of making amends 
for this neglect, always inserted in the items of agree- 
ment which refractory nobles or chiefs were sworn to 
observe on making submission, a clause binding them 


to be true and faithful servants of the cities in their 
locality, the citizens preferred to undertake their own 
defence, not trusting the neighbouring notables nor 
desiring to be burdened with an English garrison. 
On one occasion Limerick proved an exception to 
this rule, for, being threatened with an Irish garrison 
the citizens forwarded a request for Englisli soldiers, on 
the ground that the Irish were addicted to quarrelling 
and other misdemeanours. As the city maintained a 
well-armed force a thousand strong, a number greater 
than either Cork or Waterford, this request was 
considered to be prompted by, hopes of increased 
trade, not dictated by fears for the safety of their city. 

When thus practically compelled to arm for their 
own defence, the towns frequently found the temptation 
of employing these arms too strong to resist, and waged 
private war on their own account. 

That the policy of non-interference had its limits 
was experienced by a Mayor of Dublin, for, having 
neglected the Lord Deputy's order to provide corn for 
the garrison, he was ordered to make good the default^ 
and fined ;^ioo (Irish). The punishment was remitted 
upon the Mayor, Aldermen, and the rest of the co- 
brethren, making submission — on their knees — to the 

Dublin was not the only city that showed signs of 
contumacy. The Corporation of Cork incurred the 
displeasure of the Lord Deputy for not providing the 
accommodation considered suitable to his position as 
representative of the sovereign when he visited their the 
river-girt city. Waterford also, forgetful of its former 


loyalty ; rewarded by Henry VIII. with a present of a 
gilt sword and hat for its chief magistrate ; obstinately 
declined to carry out orders of the Council. Galling 
as this must have been to the Council, not at all inclined 
to acquiesce meekly in such treatment, the relations 
between governors and governed, where the latter 
consisted of an Anglo-Irish community, is well 
illustrated by the inability of the former to do more 
than order the Mayor and four of the most substantial 
Aldermen to appear (on their knees, we presume), and 
answer for their conduct at Dublin. Whatever the 
result of the interview, there was certainly no increase 
of loyalty, for some time later the Waterford officials 
were accused of suppressing letters and other material 
facts of treason obtained from a captured ship brought 
into their harbour. ^ 

That in other towns, besides the important ones 
mentioned, there were residents not well disposed to 
the Queen's Government is the only construction to be 
placed on the order directing none of the inhabitants 
of the port towns to have armour and weapons unless 
they shall be considered faithful and loyal. ^ 

In strong contrast to the other maritime towns 
during the last quarter of the century, Limerick was 
greatly renowned for loyalty to the English interest, 
and received its reward in being selected for the head- 
quarters of the Royalist army, during the Desmond 

Daily Life. — Existence in the walled towns must 
have been dull and monotonous to a degree. There was 

^ Hjilliday MSS. « Hatfield MSS. 


danger, even had there been any object, in leaving the 
shelter of the walls, so that the townspeople were thrown 
upon the internal resources of their towns for whatever 
amusements they indulged in. One constant source 
of excitement in small municipalities was denied them 
through the control of local affairs continuing year 
after year in the same families. Amusements, in the 
modern sense, are very seldom mentioned. Religious 
observances, and a varying amount of political and 
polemical discussion, supplied their place. Though the 
art of printing, lately introduced, was far from common, 
some of the towns, notably Dublin, poured forth a 
ceaseless stream of religious and political tracts, and 
participated to some extent in the intellectual activity 
prevalent in England. Waterford, particularly, owing 
to its constant communication with the West country, 
and importation of printed matter, was quite famous 
for the literary acquirements of its citizens. 

In the border and inland towns the incursions of 
raiding parties, and robberies of Irish thieves, occasion- 
ally varied the monotony. Of the former there was 
usually some premonition, and a stout defence offered 
to their attempts. The daring and resource marking 
the robberies by individuals or small parties may be 
seen from the case of Cork, from whence all the horses 
of any value in the city had been stolen. When 
success crowned these attempts the townsman lost his 
goods. When unsuccessful, the thieves' heads presently 
figured on the gate, formalities of law where the "mere" 
Irish were concerned not being necessary. 

The frequency and virulence of the plagues which 


devastated the towns, attributable to their confined 
areas and primitive sanitary arrangements, was a 
noticeable feature in their annals also. In the year 
1575 Dublin was so depopulated by one of these 
visitations that, owing to the length of time commerce 
was suspended, grass grew in the streets and door- 

Characteristic of the Irish towns at the period was 
the extraordinary alacrity with which they voluntarily 
furnished armed contingents, under their mayors or 
soveriegns, to the numerous expeditions of the Lord 
Deputies. Whether this practice originated in national 
pugnacity, town rivalry, or as a means of obtaining 
honours for their leaders, we are without means to 
accurately determine. But there can be no question, 
trade must have languished during the period when 
these absences became almost continuous. For 
Drogheda to furnish seven hundred men to one 
expedition, unless in a case of national emergency, 
must have entailed a cessation of some trade activity, 
or indicates a disproportionate number of unemployed 
in the urban population. 

Dress. — Owing to the comparatively affluent 
circumstances of the citizens, their dress and style of 
living was said to be much superior to that of the 
rural settlers, and to most of the Irish. 

Townsmen of all ranks adhered to English fashions 
in costume. Their women, while handsomely dressing 
in the same fashion, did not disdain when beyond 
their own dwellings to wear rich and costly mantles 
of Irish rug, shaped after the Irish fashion, having a 


large, handsome fringe encircling the neck, and 
bordered by thick fringe reaching to the feet. 

The use of coal, though esteemed a great luxury, 
was becoming common in the seaport towns. Many 
articles now imported were then grown or made in 
Ireland, and as the balance of trade was in favour of 
the Irish merchants, coal formed a convenient return 

Noticeable in the local feeling of the towns was the 
little favour with which the townswomen looked upon 
the Irish or those of mixed descent. Even when 
born in Ireland, the pride of the women in their 
English extraction formed a distinct contrast to that 
entertained by those whose opportunities for inter- 
course were less restricted. 

Change in Religious Feeling. — What centuries 
of mutual intercourse had not effected, the profession 
in common of a prescribed religion accomplished. 
Towards the end of the century the hostile feeling of 
the townspeople against the Irish began to wane. 

During the pacification of Munster, complaint was 
made that the cities and walled towns were so besotted 
and bewitched with Popish priests, Jesuits, and 
seminaries, that for fear of their cursings and excom- 
munications they were ready upon every small occasion 
to rise in arms against the English, and minister aid 
and succour unto the Irish. One instance cited was 
that of the Corporation of Limerick, while professing 
loyalty to the English officials, sending out wines to 
the camp of the " Sugaun '* ^ Earl of Desmond. By 

' i.e.^ Pretender, with som« show of disputable right. 


some, this duplicity was attributed, not to any change of 
disposition, but to a desire to retain the advantages de- 
rived from secret sales of commodities at excessive rates. 

That there was a change, the extent of it, and that 
it arose from religious considerations, will be under- 
stood by contrasting the attitude of the towns during 
different periods. During the Marian persecution, 
numbers of well-to-do English Protestants flocked 
over for safety to the larger Irish towns. So cordial 
was their reception — Dublin alone, at the expense of 
the city, opened some seventy houses for them — that 
the majority, when the danger had passed, remained 
in Ireland. Less than forty years afterwards the 
Sheriff of Waterford reported that only himself and 
two others attended the Reformed services, and the 
Protestant Archbishop of Cork complained to the Lord 
Deputy that the boys in the Cork Grammar School 
had torn out of their books the leaf containing the 
Queen's titles, including " Defender of the Faith." 

The transient success of the Reformed doctrines in 
the towns has been ascribed to ignorance of the points 
in dispute, and absence of instruction in the old faith 
owing to the priests and friars having been banished; 
a precautionary measure more easily enforced in the 
towns than in the districts where Irish control had to 
be reckoned with. Though these factors were not 
without their share of influence, the constant spectacle 
in the confined spaces of towns of religious edifices 
diverted from their former daily use ; the absence of 
accustomed intercourse with members of religious 
orders ; and the influence of the wives and daughters of 


the citizens, also contributed to the undoubted change 
which came over the towns. Another likely factor 
was the openly irregular behaviour of the clergy under 
the new dispensation. Spenser describes them as 
guilty of gross simony, greedy covetousness, fleshly 
incontinency, and generally all disordered life, and 
contrasted them unfavourably with the rank and file 
of the deprived priests. A contrast all the more 
conspicuous in the confined town areas, when we 
remember the latter were undergoing the improving 
process inseparable from oppression, no matter how 
thinly veiled. 

Dublin remained to some extent an exception to this 
change of views, a circumstance due probably to the 
presence of the governing powers, and the strictness 
with which the repressive measures against the old form 
of worship were carried out within her walls. To Dublin 
belongs the distinction of being the first place in 
Ireland where the liturgy was read in English. 

Immediately after the death of the Queen the 
principal places in Munster defiantly returned to 
the open profession of Catholicism, and had to be 
proceeded against. This action of some, and that 
of other towns in adhering to the Catholicism of their 
fathers, raises a doubt of the accuracy of the contention 
that the maintenance of monasteries and other religious 
foundations was inconsistent with, or rather retarded, 
the natural development of commerce and social liberty, 
as they then began to be understood. Outside the 
towns there was but little commerce ; while in the 
towns the fierce manners and independence of their 


inhabitants would have immediately resented any 
restraint upon trade or social freedom. 

Effects of the Wars.— During the protracted 
wars and commotions many of the towns, cut off from 
regular external communication and assistance, had 
their populations seriously depleted through numbers 
of the citizens having fallen in battle or perished from 
the unaccustomed rigours of campaigning. Of others, 
many of the townsmen, with their families, had taken 
refuge in towns that, like Cork, were held strongly for 
the Crown, while those, unfortunately, condemned to 
remain through many an anxious month were reduced 
to great straits. In other towns, owing to the number 
of men with the Royalist forces, trade had practically 
ceased ; and the prospect of any improvement grew 
more remote through the ill success of the Royalist 
arms. Reduced in circumstances, hopeless of the 
future, numbers of townspeople, forfeiting property 
and prospects, attempted to obtain in England the 
peace and shelter denied in what, to many of them, 
was their native country. 

Thus impoverished in population and resources, 
several towns lost the spirit or means to maintain 
former privileges or recover recent positions. The 
spirit of rivalry and enterprise which had formerly dis- 
tinguished them disappeared; and they entered on a pre- 
mature old age of decay ; until, on the conclusion of the 
last rumblings of the storm which had wrecked their 
trade and transformed their social aspect, it was no mere 
figure of speech that described the majority of the Irish 
towns as but the memories of former security and wealth. 


To the student of Irish history of any period the 
advantage of some knowledge of the ancient Gaelic 
system of jurisprudence, generally known as the 
Brehon laws, and the social system of which they were 
the reflection, cannot be over-estimated. Without it, 
much that appears inconsistent in the national character 
is misunderstood, and hereditary traits and tendencies, 
owing their formation to the principles inculcated by 
them, are attributed to other causes. 

To the linguistic difficulty formerly, but erroneously, 
believed to be connected with their study, and the 
contemptuous treatment systematically accorded every- 
thing Irish, must be attributed the want of attention 
the subject has hitherto received. Now, that by the 
labours of a small body of enthusiasts, principally 
foreigners, the wealth of instructive material hidden 
in the archaic phrases of these ancient laws is being 
placed at the disposal of native and stranger alike, 
sociologists and historians are beginning to recognise 
their value and indispensability, and politicians to 
realise that obsolete though both laws and society 
have been for so long, they still influence the ideas 
and aspirations of the descendants of those they once 

Our interest in these Brehon laws arises from their 
representing and reflecting the Gaelic conception of 


the duties jmd_£esjion^ibil^^ of men to 

their fell ows, family, and state, thereby enabling us, by 
contrast with the more modern system they were 
suffering displacement from during the i6th century, 
t o appreciate the strength of Gaelic antagonism_to 
th at system . Moreover, as it is evident from the 
scope and complexity of these ancient laws that they 
were evolved fo r the use of a number of free and 
equal^ommunities composed of all the classes essential 
to civil polity, they form an indisputable refutation of 
the once common belief that previous to the Norman 
invasion the inhabitants of Ireland had neither political 
^2L.i2£i^i-i^^^SSi* Their whole tenour, furthermore, 
suggests the improbability of a people living under 
their protection and amenable to their restrictions 
being the nation of savages the exigencies of rhyme, 
or the animus of prose, in some contemporary writings 
would lead us to believe. 

F or 2 go years before the Brehon laws finally ceased 
to be a pqwerjn the land they ha,d[15een proscribed jy 
the Engli sh. Yet in defiance of prohibitions, nol: 
only were they openly ^complied with in the native 
districts and clandestinely in the Paje and districts 
under English control, but the royal Ministers did noT 
scruple to utilise them occasionally. As late as the 
year 1543 the Irish Privy Council enjoined their 
observance in a dispute concerning a district in Tip- 
perary.i A few years later, during some litigation 
known as the O'CarroU's case, the Brehons, or native 
judges, were directly ordered to arbitrate.^ Later 

» r. C. Order, 14th July. « P. C. Order, August, 1558. 



again, Spenser records that he frequently saw crowds 
assembled in the vicinity of a Brehon stone or tree to 
hear judgment s pron ounced in_accordan ce with the 
ancient laws, and how much impressed he was by the 
com HmaHon of justice and equity shown in the 
decisions, and the orderly manner in which the chiefs 
and their numerous retinues wended their way down 
the hill-sides on the conclusion of a case. 

If there was one word that in itself was sufficient to 
rouse English officials to anger that word was 
" tanistry." The word and all it meant was anathema. 
Still, we find the Irish Privy Council adjudicating 
upon and supporting the institution comprehended in 
the term " tanistry " in connection with the O'Farrells.^ 

Notwithstanding these and other instances of 
toleration, there can be no question that it was the 
constant desire of English_qffici^Jsjtoj;emove jJl^ 
^^^^^p]I%^f '^^^}:^:^^}^^^V^}'^' To them, native 
views of the relations between the Crown and its 
subjects, their lives, liberties, and properties, were not 
only foreign, they were pernicious in their effect and 
demoralising in their tendencies, deserving to be 
eradicated like a noxious weed. 

In other chapters the area of English domination, 
and its ability to give effect to official inclinations by 
enforcing whatever law they considered suitable to the 
natives, has been defined. Though differences of 
opinion may exist as to the exact limits of this 
ascendancy, it is undeniable that before the final 
^u p£ r£ssion of armed resistanc e on a large scale the 

3 Halliday MSS., page 70. 


ancient sy stem, modified or corrupted through contact 
with English customs ahd ideas, ^vas^in^ageration over 
a considerable part of the island. 

Brehon Law. — Though in the Irish cosmos there 
was no regular continuous system of judicial terms 
for the administration of justice, or class of function- 
aries other than the judges connected with this 
administration, justice, both civil and criminal, was 
free and within the reach of all, at all times and at 
certain well-known places, subject only to the necessity 
of women, minors, and certain of the lower classes 
suing by their relatives or chiefs. Further, though 
there was no machinery for putting the law in motion 
against criminals (that had to be done by the aggrieved 
person) the devolution of responsibility or suretyship 
in the various divisions of society was so complete that, 
except infrequently, there could be no difficulty in 
tracing or bringing to book a culprit. 

Capital offences , could be, but were not usually, 
punished wi th death ; a(ln^varying in amount with 
the position of the offender — in the case of murder 
known as an eric — being rn ore. f requently substituted. 
Other offences entailed fines similarly varied also. 

Whenever the perpetration of an offence carries 
with it an unusually harsh punishment, or one not in 
conformity with the usual spirit of the law, it is safe 
to infer the offence itself is considered particularly 
heinous or is unusually prevalent. The wUful disturb- 
ance of any nat ional or local assembly was punlsTied 
by the ancient Irish b y death. No appeal was 


In apportioning j ^nishment, the circumstances of^ 
th_e_ g'ime. the joss^^damage paused, and the status 
of hn^h the offender and £omplainant^ were^considereJ. 
For similar offences a j)ersoru:t£ rank^ waj_£unished 
more severely^ than one oMower position. Clerics. 
were pumshed more severely than any other class, 
\x\. that they were unable to recover their positioli? 
Similarly, offences against the property of the poor, 
and offences against the person, entailed heavier punish- 
ment than offences against the property of the rich, 
or than where property only was concerned. Offen ces^ 
against women, though far from common, appear to 
have been insfa ntly and savagely punishe d Jby„or_at_ 
the instance of the m ale relatives. Satire and calumny 
werelncIudeHTn the list of offences. 

The person against whom an offence had been 
committed summoned the offender before a judge, 
who, on proof being given, assessed the fine to be 
paid. If this was not paid through the offender not 
having sufficient to satisfy it, or absconding, the 
immediate relatives, then the family, then the sept, 
were held responsible for the amount. 

In the case of an hab itual c riminal the relatives^ 

and lodging security against further malpractices. If 
after expulsion the crim inal r eturned and committed. 
other^ crlrnesjiej^a^^ 

A characteristic of the criminal law was its minute- 
ness and forethought. Nothing that could possibly 
affect the damage or remedy appears to have escaped 


Civil law , as distinct from disputes concerning land, 
was much less important. The great use of, and 
respect for, sureties, with payment in kind, and a 
system of barter (very slightly modified by the use of 
coined money and precious metals) for the exchange 
of merchandise, reduced to a minimum the liability 
or necessity for litigation. 

La ws relating to contracts were numerous and 
importan t. One peculiarity of them was that a 
witness, as such, incurred the liability of a surety. 
Contracts were set aside with difficulty once the 
requisite safeguards were complied with. 

The importance of distraints may be imagined, in a 
system where every offence, civil or criminal, had its 
punishment in a fine recoverable by distress. Any 
attempt at evasion of distress, or over seizure by the 
person distraining, was in itself punishable, and every 
means had to be taken to ensure the process was not 
converted into persecution. 

G reat care was taken to protect the rights of wo men 
and minorjs, the assumption being that they were in a 
condition of subjection. M;^rrieji wpmpji possessed a 
certain freedom with regard to contracts, and in case 
of a separation the return of__ their property was, 
ensuj;ed thenL_ Daughters could not participate in the 
division of parental property, except in the case of a 
great inequality of sons and daughters, then the 
latters' husbands were admitted to a share as if they 
had shared as sons. With a view to perpetuate the 
family name and defend property, illegitimate sons 
were preferred to legitimate daughters. A peculiar 



feature, throwing a light upon the relation between the 
sexes, was that no provision existed inferring the 
possibility of unmarried women after a certain age, 
except as widows. Another, in connection with 
minors, was that on attaining a certain age they were 
credited with possessing half sense. 

In the weighing of evidence more importance was 
attached to the ran k oftK^wT!ness than to the matter 
of his testimony, that of aTchief having more weight 
tlian'that of~any other witness, unless they were of 
the religious or learned orders. 

Land Laws. — Possession of the land was the 
primary cause of all the troubles of the sixteenth 
century. Religion, foreign affairs, and other points 
of dispute were but screens, hiding on one side a land 
hunger, phenomenal at the time, but since recognised 
under a more euphonious name as inseparable 
from English expansion. On the other, an attach- 
ment to the soil which centuries of usage and 
customs founded upon its possession had rendered 

Originally the whole of the territory or district in 
whic h the clan was located belonged to th e clan, the 
different septs having each the ir own portion. There 
was no^private'^ownership ; the lanTbeing more a 
commodity than a possession, and public claims over- 
riding the claim of the individual. This was the 
theory. In practice, for a considerable period before 
the sixteenth century, long-continuedjossession or 
qccu£ationconstituted_^ In the Irish districts, 

and to some extent in those~recently recovered, titles 



to landed property other than prescriptive were practi- 
cally unknown. 

For convenience of definition, the dues or tribute 
rendered for land is usually termed rent ; but, in 
the English sense of the v/ord, r ent was unknown t o ^ 

Q aelic land tenure. ^ibut|^.for land was paid in • .)^^ 
various ways] TKe farmer paid in kind, the artisan ^ ^^ 
might exchange his goods, and the cottier and his ^ <' 
class pay by manual labour. Even though the tribute t ^ 
r emained unpaid, fixity of tenure was assured* to ajj , 
the rem ed y being distraint . Land could seldom be 
the subject of dispute, for a.11 contracts co ncerning it_ 
had to receive the sanction of the sept and be entered 
into before a speciall y appoi nted official. Neither 
could it be seized o r sold for, the dpbts of the owner 
o r occupie r^ 

In short, the whole system was illustrative of condi- 
tions where a number of pastoral, self-supporting, and 
exclusive communities, availing themselves of but 
little specie or metallic currency, naturally retained 
their principal means of existence under popular 

Imperfect as this brief summary of the Brehon laws 
necessarily is, it enables us to appraise the value of 
the claim that the strongest testimony to the justice 
of the principles and sympathy with right character- 
ising them may be found in the tendency of modern 
law-making to resuscitate and apply some of them to 
modern conditions. And, were any other proof of 
their excellence required, we find it furnished by their 
animating principle, the bond or surety, having been 


claimed as determining the first rude form of English 
justice, and their system of land tenure, as that in 
vogue with the Anglo-Saxons. 

To pretend that this ancient legal system was 
without defect or blemish would be to claim for it a 
more than human origin. To assert that a people 
whose daily lives were governed by it were savages 
betrays both ignorance and animosity. If a nation's 
laws are the reflex of the national character, then, 
indeed, the Irish have every reason to be proud of 
their ancestors. 

Society. — The complex system of society which 
existed in Ireland before the adoption or enforcement 
of English law and custom had its origin in relation- 
ship, that being the cement which bound the large 
and small stones forming the social edifice together. 
Each clajicon^stei_^f_g. nu^^^ and each 

sept of a collection of what, for want of a better 
definition, must be terrned faniili es, th e Jamil^Hfesing 
-tJlSX^ LsQcial and legal unit . 

The sept, therefore, might contain or be comprised 
of any number of families, all related, and all, in 
common with the other septs forming the clan, 
claiming descent froi^ one ancestor. The system 
admitted of modification so far that strangers settling 
in the clan territory were, after a probationary period, 
recognised as members of the clan, or became so by 
adoption. It was possible also for a clansman, with 
his own chiefs consent, to become the liege of another 
chief and be naturalised in the other sept. 

Thus constituted and within its own territory, 


delimited by natural boundaries or the fortune of war, 
the septs formed a clan possessing^ so me of the charac- 
teristics of a small State, claiming to be autonornous 
in^^^^ry r^qpf^rt^ appointing its own chie fs and officials, 
lay and ecclesiastical, and having its own assemblies 
for the transaction of ordinary business. 

Sometimes two or three clans that were nearly 
related acknowledged but one chief, but usually every 
clanjiad its ow n head. These chiefs were subordinate* 
to aL..E£2Xill£isiJ^i2^' *^ whom the c lan chiefs paid 
trib^te^nJ^owed^aJleglan^ both strictly regulated 
and the particulars set out in a book known as the 
'' Psalter of Tara." 

Next, but at a distance, in social importance to 
kinship came the possession of property ; for it was 
£i ossiblc by wealth to obt_ajn ahjgher status or degree 
of rank. But no amount of property would assist an 
individual to become 3 . nob le unless such property 
had be enjiijthc family's possession for three genera^ 
tiqns^ On the other hand, loss of wealth usually 
involved loss of status also. The commission of 
particularly heinous crimes, or cowardice in the field, 
had the same result. 

The importance of status or rank and social position, 
to the individual, and the necessity for carefully 
defining and guarding it, arose from it being the 
factor which determined his acts and defaults, rights 
and liabiHties, regulated his honour price, and was 
the criterion of his reliability as a witness. 

In opportunities for social advancement and the 
acquisition of rank, the old Irish differed considerably 


from their northern neighbours. With t he Jrish the 
sword was not thes de dispense r of rank and honour. 
TKTpFolessions : law, medicine, and music— owing to 
the esteem in which they were held and the many 
members of noble families entering them— conferred 
on their professors a higher status than birth or wealth 
alone could give. A status which could only be 
alternatively obtained through the performance of 
some great public service or act of conspicuous 

Inasmuch as all the ranks did not possess full rights^ 

the injustice or disability likely to ensue was remedied 

by a system peculiar and characteristic ; the c ombining 

to^rm a SQCtV^y nf fpfprnil-y to jointly agqiijreJJTR 

^qual^ng propgaily^^ 

Theoretically the community consisted of six ranks 
or classes ; from the king or chief to the menials or 
labourers known to the English as " churls." 

f^N^-The office of king or chief of any degree 
was within certain limits elective, but custom restricted 
the fl ection to one family. In some instances, in 
the case of superior longs' or chiefs, to two families 
taken alternately, but not to any particular member 
of the family. Whenever the Tanist system was 
strictly observed, t hough t he reigning chief might 
l;ta ye sons, his next eld estbrother, or, failing brothers, 
the next collateral eldest cousin of th e bloody succeeded. 
The Tanist, literally heir elect, though during the 
1 6th century it was used to denote the chief actually 
elected by ancient methods, was chosen at the same 
time as the chief On the death of the latter the 


Tanist at once assumed the office, and a new successor 
was elected. 

Formerly at these^ Je_ctions all t he males of the clan 
_were entitled to v ote. Later, in the case of superior 
chiefs, the elective power pa ssed wholly into the hands 
of the nobles, lay and ecclesiastical. 

Thelceremony of inauguration, partly religious and 
partly civil, took place in the vicinity of a particular 
stone situated on a hill top; and was concluded 
by placing the candidate on the stone and administer- 
ing various oaths to him, the most important— that 
he would not divert the succession from the Tanist. 
He was then given a white wand, and hailed as 
t/ie O'Neill, or whatever the tribal name might be. At 
the same time the Tanist took similar oaths, and was 
also inducted. Some of the details of these ceremonies 
with which Geraldus Cambrensis sullied his pages 
were without foundation ; the offspring of a too vivid 
and not over clean imagination. 

Although, previous to election, the^chief must have 
possessed some^grogerty, a jfur^r_£orUon_^_jand 
jjid_ various tributes_and dues were apprpjgria^^ 
^J2e_jTTaii2tenancQ of his position. In the land he 
nominally had a life interest only ; a mode of tenure 
which proved a perpetual stumbling block to the 
English rulers. Literally acted upon, there could 
be neither forfeiture for the life tenant's treason, 
sequestration in satisfaction of a mortgage, nor 
alienation for any purpose whatsoever. 

Contact with the rival system, and the working 
of the policy of fomenting dissension, brought to light, 


in addition to the land difficulty, other evils resulting 
from this principle of election. Once the strict letter 
of the law had been departed from, possible candidates 
were quick to discern the feasibility of influencing 
or compelling election by a display of force. For this 
purpose numbers of armed men — " idle men of war " 
as Lord Sussex termed them — were maintained, the 
practice becoming in time not the least of the evils 
from whic h the country suffered. 

fNoBLES^The chief nobles, the rank from which 
the chiefs of clans were elected, were the rule rs a nd 
representatives, of septs, and took rank amongst them- 
selves. Originally, in common with the other chiefs, 
they required similar qualifications, were elected on 
similar principles, and provided, as the kings were. 
Previous to the i6th century the rule of succession 
had been occasionally varied in favour of the hereditary 
principle. At the same time the land pertaining to 
their dignities, from having been so long vested in 
one family, had come to be considered private property. 
As English supr ema cy ifiL?.^^ and became per- 
manent, the relative importance — founded on the 
numbers of clansmen paying tribute — of the Irish 
nobles experienced considerable variations. With the 
exception of3Jbwj[amIlies like the O'Neills in the 
north, and"'MacCarthys in the south, such rank^and 
standing as they retained^ was based upon English 
titl es_ or Tecognit lon, a contemning of the old order 
readily promoted oTconnlved at by English officials, 
but jiot r eceived with favour by the majority of the 
native Irish. 


Trofessional CLASSjrThis included Breh ons or 
Judges.; Ollamhs or professors of law, history, and 
philosophy, language, music, poetry, and recitation in 
prose and verse ; physicians, pri ests, and musicians. 

In course of time the Judges had become the 
custodians as well as exponents of the law. They 
were usually retained by the chief, and acted for 
districts or clans, were paid by fees included in their 
awards, and liable for errors of judgment. 

Similarly the Ollamhs (pronounced Ollav) 01 
professors of law, and from whose ranks were chosen 
the Brehons, had become advocates and solicitors, as 
we would now term them. As historians, genealogists, 
and literary men, they were bound to make themselves 
perfect masters of history, and to teach it by public 
recitals. In the matter of kinship alone their knowledge 
and accuracy was of the greatest importance and 
consequence. Long before their final disappearance 
from the national life the majority of these Ollamhs 
had discarded many of their official duties and 
concentrated their attention on the musical portion 
of them. As Bards they incurred the persistent 
hostility of the English officials, an attitude rendering 
their continued existence impossible, even had they 
survived the fall of the system from which they derived 
their importance and functions. 

The absence of any direct mention of clerical ranks 
and duties was due probably to the drmdM^pnesthood 
having originally formed part of the official hierarchy. 
On their removal the C hristia njtea chers succeeded to 
a ny rights or privileges compatible with their creed. 


. without in an y way abating those due to their priestly 
offices, thus completely sweeping away the old order 
as far as the clergy were concerned. The quarrel 
between R ome and the English^Government put the 
clerg y in a position ^imknown to native law and foreign 
t o native custorr\^ __ ^_„ 

I^RTlZANS_AK^x_S^^^ljCiJ— Formerly these 
classes had been restricted to the districts they were 
connected with by ties of relationship, in other respects 
they were free and uncontrolled ; occupied a recognised 
position ; contributed their share of the clan burdens 
and military service ; could make their own terms of 
employment, and were generally well to do. An 
anomaly originally connected with these classes was 
that their rank among themselves was determined by 
the rank of their employers. Intended to mark the 
esteem in which rank was held, this custom had in 
practice the effect of making the least useful handicraft 
— that gratifying the taste of the rich only — the most 

In the 1 6th century the customary restrictions upon 
the movements of these workers was in process oi 
removal. The inducements offered to workmen of all 
descriptions in the towns and newly recovered districts, 
combined with the unsettled state of the country, 
proved stronger than custom or fear of disapprobation, 
and led to a partial disappearance from the country 
districts of the best class of workmen : an important 
movement, as it included the severance of their depend- 
ence upon local or particular connexions. 

Farmers. — As the welfare of every portion o\ 


the co mmunity was dependent upon agriculture and 
husban"dry/ the class directly conn ected with these 
pursuits was of considerable impor tance in the social 
scale. From it the greater part ot the tribute was 
received, and the bulk of the clan fighting forces 

Under the native system the privileges and exemp- 
tions of this class were numerous, and included the 
right to a share in the clan land, to graze cattle and 
swine upon the common land, and to hire cattle from 
their chief without security. Should their share of 
tribute be unpaid they could not bejevjcjed from the 
l and they held, nor deprived of their share in"tKe 
common land. They were, on the ^her hand, liable 
to various demands connected with the maintenance 
of chiefs and soldiers. The most burdensome were ; 
Supporting the chief for certain periods on his yearly 
visit, or providing a sum of money for his spending and 
refection ; maintaining his retinue (practically all the 
able-bodied men of the immediate district) ; attending 
the rising out or muster, armed and provisioned ; and 
defraying the wages and keep of the chief's workmen. 
Elastic in their nature and liable to abuse as these 
demands were, their mode of collection and disposal 
appeared so much in agreement with the national 
disposition that the class most affected were the last to 
object to them. Even in the Pale and districts where 
English officials and juries continually endeavoured to 
abolish or restrict these imposts, the farmers were willing 
to render, and the landed proprietors to receive, them. 

Another curious illustration of the distinction 


considered to be conferred by birth and property 
characterised the two sections into which the farming 
class were, according to the value of their possessions, 
divided. For, although a member of the inferior 
division might by misfortune or neglect have lost 
property, it did not follow that he sank into the next 
lower class. Whether he did so, or retained the rights 
acquired at his birth, in hopes of better days, was a 
matt er of c hoice for himself. 

J|Chur^2— The lowest class in Irish society consisted 
of me cottiers or labourers, followers and servantgjafjthe 
nobles and gentry, and a nondescrigt^ class belonging 
to no clan or distric t. They were without Jegal^rights 
or privileges, except that the cottiers could hire land 
and pay for it by manual labour, were compelled to 
reside on the clan chiefs land, and liable in person to 
seizure and enforced labour for the benefit of the public 
or nobles, or in satisfaction of penalties incurred. The 
lowest grade in this class was usually recruited from 
criminals, and those who had forfeited their status. 
They could neither obtain reparation for murder of 
relatives, inherit property, nor bear arms. In the 
confusion of law and custom existing in the border 
and recently annexed districts this class profited most 
of all, and in theory attained a position hitherto denied 

Such, briefly, was the legal system and social organ- 
ization the Elizabethan Irish, in the parts and to the 
^ extent already indicated, were accustomed to. The 
ia mossibility of assimilati ng.£ither system o r organiza- 

^ *tion to English methods is obvious. 
^ — -^^— ^"-".-* * . .- . .,,1 II .-^^ . . . . .^ —.■ ■ . .. ..11 -^^ — — -v^ 


That the Norman -Jrishjiobles^^fig^felxeH thfi Rf^hon 
law, and enforced its observance, is not surprising. 
Their deference began and ended with the privileges, 
and ignored the duties and habilities. By a judicious 
mixture of both syste ms_ajid_customs they managed 

to jpecome absolute owners of._iar ge estate F,~"and^ 

practically independent territorial magnates. So 
much so, that in Henry VIII.'s time about thirty of 
them observed the Brehon system, including the 
capacity to make war and peace at pleasure. 

That the Irish chiefs and people were usually willing 
to risk_ everything for the_ old_order, was due to the 
fact that in the majority of cases the only^right^and 
title they c ould show to whatever they possessed was 
derived from its laws and sanctione d by its custom s. 
The O'Connors and O'Morras were not alone in their 
experiences. There were bitter enemies of the new 
order within the Pale as well as without it. 

Legal Status. — In the parts of the Island where 
English arms were able to enforce En glish law, an 
Irishman (u nless belonging to the five bloods) ^who 
had made_ leg al submission, and been received into 
allegiance, coulJno longeFbe murdered with impunity ; 
for the murder was punishable by a small pecuniary 
fine.* But he still laboured under restrictions which 
^Tactic ally made hinTaT pariah ^lnjiis native country. 
Even though he were lord or capt ajn^ the^TnshTit 
was lugh^treason tofoster any of tjie_ chj]djjen^ those ^ 
whq^ha^g^Jn the majority of cases come into the 
countrj^as^^venturers, now posed as j ords of jt . 

* O'Connell. ^ nth Elizabeth, 1569. 



Though his women were allowed to marry with the 
English, he was forbidden to do so under the severest 
penalties.^ His most cherished prejudices and senti- 
ments, woven into the pattern of daily life by years 
of use, were offended and outraged ; the manner of 
wearing his hair, colour of his garments, furniture of 
horse and horseman, nothing was too small to escape 
restriction or prohibition. The death penalty, so 
seldom claimed by the laws his forefathers lived under, 
had, by the operation of martial law, become the one 
and only punishment ; and the time-honoured custom 
of distraint, so fenced about with limitations that its 
legitimate exercise became an act of felony entailing 
a shameful death.^ 

The dislike to English law this treatment naturally 
produced was aggravated and confirmed by entrusting 
its administration to totally unfit and incompetent 
persons. Of several of these officials the misdeeds 
are on record, and form a complete justification of the 
nobles and chiefs who declined to admit them into 

They go far also to account, m a 
people^accustorhed to and taking pleasure in legal 
disputations, for the tendency then noted for the first 
time of complaints of want of fairness, of excessive 
challenging of jurymen, and — the unfailing accompani- 
ment of venal or capricious justice — attempts to 
bribe or intimidate the magistracy. 

In the Insh^dislricts^thejnha^^ 
of En gljsh_i)irtkjo,r descent, and had not made su b- 

«28th Henry VIII. (1537). 

' McMahon's case, Morrison's History. 


mission, were j considered to b elong; to fr nation of 
p erpetual jnefflig^ By English law they cguld not 
possess__property or rights, or^claim_s£cimty for life or 
limb.^ It was felony, punishable with death, for 
merchants or others to sell, or send for the purpose 
of selling, merchandise to them.^ In peace or war 
they were without legal_ position^ or sM exposed 
to a penalty beyond recall at the hands of any English 
subject willing and desirous to obtain a reward for 
executing the sentence his verdict as jury had prompted 
himself as judge to command.^^ Fortunately for these 
Irish, beyond the occasional visits of strongly guarded 
Commissions of Assize, they were seldom troubled by 
the inhumanities of the foreign law. When they were, 
the halting places of the Commission were distinguish- 
able by rows of gibbeted bodies. 

The state of practical outlawry which thus hung like 
a funeral pall over the natives of all ranks and classes 
(with the exceptions stated) was occasionally lifted. 
Strange, indeed, if among the throng of officials and 
authorities there had not been some with a natural 
perception of justice, or sufficient practical insight to 
discern the treatment meted -out to the Irish wa s 
t nore calculated to intensify than r.iire the evilg it wag 
directed_against ; more li kely to produce a nation, o f 
bandits than peace ful law-aht'Hing rit'''^^n^ The 
Elizabethan Irish experienced both classes of rulers ; 
the just in intention and the unjust by design. Which 

^ Sir John Davis. 
9 loth Henry VI. 
^° Orders in Council.— ElizabeLii. 


predominated may be inferred from the memorial ad- 
dressed to the Queen in 1594, by Captain Thomas Lee, 
wherein the majority of the official and governin g_classes 
were said to be morejiotojous for av^n 
tKan^renowned for impartiality and statesmanship. 
'~To^3[ge, therefore, the nationanemperF~oT the 
Elizabethan Irishry from the English criminal records 
of the time would be unfair. One legal systejn_was_ 
being replaced by another Jhaying little on aothing:jn 
common wTnTlt. TEe moribund system practically 
lefrt!ie~peate Uf ^r^lan or district dependant upon the 
personal idiosyncracies of the chief or a superior ; conse- 
quently many disturbances and actions, apparently 
due to a wide and inbred spirit of lawlessness, were 
really the work of individuals. Its rival brooked no 
interference. To it all attempts at redressing private 
wrongs by public crimes, whether the simple blood feud 
or the lordly raid, were not only offences against the 
queen's peace, they were offences against the law itself. 
Only by giving due weight to this difference in the 
national points of view can we reconcile foreign state- 
ments of the lawless condition of the Irish districts 
with the native assertion that crimes, other than those 
inseparable from a state of society where every man 
went armed and had the inclination to right himself, 
were infrequent. The distinction was aptly expressed 
when commenting upon the observation of Sir John 
Davies, Attorney- General to James I. : " For the truth 
is that in times of peace the Irish are more fearful to 
offend the law than the English or any other nation what- 
soever." English law recognised no state of warfare, 


except with the king*s enemies : the Irish considered 
an unfriendly action constituted the doer an enemy. 

The successful prosecution of the policy of extending 
English authority to the uttermost limits of the 
island led to the final overthrow of the old and the 
introduction of a new order. But the new conditions 
meant simply a continuance of the denial of justice 
and protection the Irish, as such, were liable to — a 
denial admitted some years later in the statute ^^ 
which removed that and all distinctions of race and 

Under any circumstances, the disappearance of the 
old system was inevitable. English supremacy and 
Irish laws and customs could not exist together. 
That the process was distasteful to those affected is 
conceivable, but sympathy with this feeling or admira- 
tion for the native law and system, while permitting 
regret or resentment at the means employed, must 
not blind us to the unavoidable necessity of the course 
pursued by the victors. 

Civilization, after all, is largely a matter of environ- 
ment, and the civilization of the Irish was too 
unadaptable to modern conditions. That the plasticity 
of the national temperament did not lend itself readily 
to complete identification with the new conditions 
was due principally to the national distrust of the 
manner in which they would be applied, and hatred of 
the instruments likely to be employed in the application. 
Before these feelings were removed, the introduction 
of other differences served but to deepen them. 

" nth James I., cap. 5. 


The impossibility of describing the condition of 
Ireland from the later mediaeval period until the 
general rebellion in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, 
without noticing the chronic internecine warfare which 
usually convulsed the island, has been generally 

By some writers undue prominence has been given 
thesubject; by others, cause has been mistaken for effect. 
One set of historians consider the national temperament 
responsible, and the consequent condition of the country 
and people the ordinary and only one. Another 
maintain official policy and governmental maladminis- 
tration to be the sole cause. Both contentions present 
an element of truth sufficient to be misleading if 
accepted alone. 

The disturbed state of Ireland had continued 
almost uninterruptedly from the Norman invasion, and 
would, in all human probability, have followed that 
event had the elements of disorder inherent in the 
native political system been altogether absent from it. 
But when the most permanent effect of the invasion 
was to establish throughout the island a number of 
military posts and conquered districts, having neither 
natural nor artificial boundaries, and uncontrolled by, 
though deriving their power of offence from, beyond 
sea, so numerous were the actual and potential forces 
of disorder that even a semblance of peace and order 


was, under the circumstances, impossible. The prose- 
cution to a successful issue of two courses only would 
have ensured harmony, viz., the total expulsion of the 
invaders or the complete subjugation of the native 

Neither alternative had taken place. The area of 
English domination advanced at one time, receded at 
another, but was never stationary ; at the same time, 
whatever assimilation of conflicting interests had 
taken place was in favour of the less stable. 

During the four hundred years subsequent to the 
invasion, the inhabitants of the Irish districts, and to 
a less extent those of the Pale also, had lived in an 
atmosphere of anarchy and military violence. The 
ruling classes had become habituated to consider the 
sword the final and only arbiter in all disputes. Their 
followers, daily accustomed to turmoils aud com- 
motion, had, in the development of the hereditary 
fighting instinct, displayed such readiness to under- 
take, and pleasure in prosecuting, quarrels that their 
bellicosity was considered a national characteristic. 

English statecraft was not slow to perceive the 
advantage to English rule of a continuation of this 
anarchic atmosphere : " Let us rather connive at their 
disorders, for a weak and divided people can never 
detach themselves from the crown of England," had 
become a maxim of government, its practical application 
facilitated by conditions wherein those most concerned 
possessed the power, and seldom wanted the excuse 
furnished by mutual injuries and reciprocal devasta- 
tions, to make war upon each other. 


That during the i6th century local and general 
disturbances attained greater dimensions than before, 
was due primarily to the circumstance that over and 
above the policy of fomenting disorder, strenuous 
endeavours were made to recover the ground lost to 
English control during the previous century, and 
secondarily to administrative measures, professedly 
intended to remedy the internal chaos, aggravating 
and bringing into prominence its most objectionable 
features. As when in the case of a disastrous 
conflagration ordinary measures of extinguishment 
prove futile, explosion and demolition are resorted to. 
The religious dispute was but a late phase in the 
struggle, furnishing an excuse for its prolongation, no 

The inability of Elizabethan ministers and officials 
to comprehend that any particle of blame attached to 
them or their predecessors for the discreditable state of 
the island affords a glaring instance of official obliquity. 
That their modern apologists have persisted in the 
same course results from a combination of the 
exaggerated nationalism which refuses to admit a defect 
in the treatment of other nations, with the glamour 
cast by this period over modern thought and sentiment. 

Incitements to Disorder. — Disputes involving 
the right of succession, and the possession of land, 
were frequent, and under the circumstances inevitable. 
In the course of them every motive influencing human 
actions was brought into play, and every aspiration 
possible to the impetuous temperament of the 
disputants encouraged by the English officials. 


Where no disputes existed they could ahvays be 
manufactured by the simple expedient of enforcing 
English law, or supporting claims founded on the 
native system of Tanistry . Both courses were practised 
when necessary. 

According to Sir Robert Cecil, the Irish were an 
inconstant and quarrelsome people. In the same letter 
in which this impeachment of the national character 
occurs, there are directions for promoting strife between 
two sets of chiefs by promising the Queen's support to 
the weakest of each set.^ 

Equally productive of dissension were other con- 
temporaneous instances of official interference. The 
support given the Baron of Dungannon in his claim to 
the chieftaincy of the O'Neills led to years of disturbance 
in the north, and ultimately to the death of the rightful 
chief, Shane O'Neill. To digress for a moment : referring 
to Shane's assassination, Mr. Froude indulges in the 
sarcasm that exposing the murdered man's head in the 
manner usual with the heads of traitors, was a symbol 
to the Irish world of the fate of Celtic heroes. O'Neill 
was not considered a hero by his countrymen. His 
death, moreover, occurred indirectly through the 
northern chiefs assisting the Lord Deputy, and directly 
by the sword of a Scoto-Gael, at the instigation of an 
English captain, Piers : the whole incident savouring 
more of official aptitude in promoting strife and pro- 
curing assassination, than being minatory to the 
Celts. Later, the Earl of Tyrone, and Turlough 
O'Neill, were candidates for the same uneasy position. 

1 Life of F. MacCarthy More. 


To forward a settlement the Crown furnished both 
aspirants with English troops. ^ Ulick and John 
Burke, sons of the Earl of Clanricard, disputed the 
succession to the Earldom. The Royal ministers by 
secret warrant authorised either to slay the other, and 
John was murdered. ^ Hoping to estrange the Munster 
Irish from the Sugaun Earl of Desmond, James, the 
son of the previous Earl Gerald, at the request of the 
Irish Government, was taken from the Tower and sent 
to Ireland. The scheme might have succeeded had 
it been conducted- in a less parsimonious manner, and 
the young noble restrained from ostentatiously attend- 
ing a Protestant service. 

Alliances, matrimonial and political, between the 
nobles, chiefs, and English were frequent. In the in- 
terests thus created will be found reasons and motives 
for many otherwise unaccountable feuds, and lapses 
from loyalty to the crown, of both nationalities. The 
Desmonds were allied by marriage to the O'Neills, 
and were believed to have abetted Shane in his de- 
fiance of the Lord Deputy. The warfare between 
the O'Neills and O'Donnells, if not actually caused, 
was greatly embittered, by the repudiation of a lady 
of the latter family, when Shane proposed to marry 
the half-sister of the Earl of Argyle. Consequent on 
the alliance with the Earl of Kildare, when that 
nobleman was a prisoner in England, the O'Connors 
Faly and the O'Carrolls, joined the foolish young 
Lord Thomas (Silken Thomas) in his ill-judged 
attempt to clear his father's character. The defection 

"^ MacGeoghegan. ' O'Sullivan Bearc. 


from the English interest of the great Earl of Tyrone has 
been uniformly attributed by Irish writers to patriotic 
considerations. Notwithstanding, there are grounds for 
doubting whether, had his marriage with the Bagenal 
lady proved more agreeable to her brother, Marshal 
Bagenal, the course of events at a most momentous 
period might not have run in a different channel. 

The Scots, — The important part played by the 
Scots in the quarrels and dissensions of chiefs and 
nobles, as well as in producing and fomenting dis- 
satisfaction with the Queen's government, has hardly 
received the attention it merits. In Lord Sussex's 
instructions on assuming the government, the Queen 
complained that the northern part of her realm of 
Ireland had been long since out of good and quiet 
order by reason partly of the multiplication of the 
Scots; whilst the necessity for, and difficulty attending, 
their expulsion had engaged the attention of successive 
lieutenants, apparently without success. For, not- 
withstanding the frequent and severe defeats inflicted 
on them by Bingham and other commanders, whenever 
fighting was imminent, like vultures, the Scots were 
seen gathering to it. 

Most of the chiefs and nobles had Scots mercenaries 
in pay and lent them to, or employed them against, 
one another or the English, impartially. For some 
time Shane O'Neill maintained a thousand of them. 
Their pay being in arrear they mutinied and, according 
to custom, proceeded to pillage the country they were 
called in to assist in defending. O'Neill eventually 
defeated and scattered them. 


The Fitzgeralds and Butlers. — Though 

usually wanting the extenuating circumstances the 
chiefs were able to plead, the Norman- Irish nobles as 
disturbers of the peace had attracted attention long 
previous to the i6th century. 

The Geraldines and Desmonds, as the midland and 
southern branches of the great Fitzgerald family 
were generally termed, were repeatedly, and rightly, 
held responsible for the unsettled state of the south 

Writing to the Queen in the year 1 567, Sir Henry 
Sidney gives a moving description of the desolation 
of the country between Youghal and Limerick in one 
direction, and Cork and Kinsale in another— burnt 
houses, ruined churches, nameless cruelties upon 
women, bones and skulls of those who died from 
violence, or succumbed to famine — all attributed to 
the Earl of Desmond, or his subordinates. 

The feud between the Desmonds and the Butlers 
(the Ormond family) originating in their having 
supported opposite sides during the wars of the 
Roses, and perpetuated and intensified by the blood 
relationship of the Ormonds to Queen Elizabeth, 
caused their respective territories and the con- 
tiguous country to be plagued with a warfare com- 
pared with which the devastations committed by 
the chiefs appear insignificant. In the prosecution 
of this family dispute, the Geraldines did not 
scruple to imperil the English interest ; the Earl 
of Kildare, when Lord Deputy, allying himself with 
two of the most inveterate enemies to English rule, 


solely to obtain assistance against the Earl of Ossory 
(a Butler).^ 

During the latter half of the i6th century, nobles 
and chiefs were continually complaining of high- 
handed proceedings, and the assumption of superiority 
by the Desmonds. On one occasion, the Earls of 
Desmond and Clancare were about to decide by the 
arbitrament of battle whether certain lands were 
within the Palatinate of Kerry or not. Fortunately 
for their respective followers and the locality in 
dispute, the Lord President of Munster was in a 
position to interfere and pacify the disputants. 

It was not only in their dealings with political and 
territorial rivals the Geraldines behaved dominantly. 
One Geraldine is credited with being the first to 
extensively employ the custom of coin and livery. 
Another, having obtained permission to levy that 
impost on the countries in his charge, by unwarranted 
exactions so harassed the Anglo-Irish residents as to 
compel them to vacate their holdings. 

When, at last, the Desmonds broke into open-armed 
resistance to the Crown, they and their confederates 
acted on the principle that those not with them were 
against them. Neutrality they declared impossible. 
The only way to avoid harassing by both parties was 
to join one of them. 

O'Neill assisted Desmond to raid Barry's country, 
in the province of Munster, and obtained therefrom 
the prodigious prey of four thousand kine and three 

* MacGeoghegan. 


thousand horses. Lacy, an Anglo-Irish potentate, 
levelled his castles to the ground, lest they should fall 
into the hands of the Royalists, and took over a force 
of cavalry and infantry to the assistance of Desmond, 

The rival house, the Butlers, were less turbulent, 
solely because the Fitzgeralds generally having 
ranged themselves on the Irish side restricted them 
to the other. When the Butlers did break away 
from their loyalist traditions, their proceedings were 
distinguished by a ruthless thoroughness in keeping 
with the methods of their rivals. A Butler, having 
spoiled Enniscorthy, traversed the borders of the 
Pale, and in sheer wantonness proceeded to burn the 
castles of those refusing to join him against the 
government.^ Clerical influence, working on the 
fear of danger to their mutual religion, temporarily 
reconciled some of the junior members of these families, 
for, on James Fitzmaurice taking up arms, he was 
joined by three brothers of the Earl of Ormond.^ 

Though at the time the most powerful of the 
Norman-Irish families, the Geraldines and Butlers 
were not singular in their turbulence. Other families 
of similar origin, but less importance, working on 
similar lines, fought against, or took sides with, their 
neighbours or the paramount power impartially, with 
equally disastrous results to the welfare of the country. 

Sept and Family Disputes.— Like the Desmonds, 
their kinsmen in the south, the O'Neills claimed to 
be over-lords in the northern districts, a claim Shane 
O'Neill at all times and seasons insisted upon. In a 

e Hatfield MSS. « O'Sullivan Beare. 


reply to Sir Henry Sidney, concerning the death of 
his reputed half-brother and official rival, the Baron 
of Dungannon, O'Neill stated that he desired no 
superiority over the northern chiefs beyond what had 
been exercised by his ancestors. That this was not 
a wholly imaginary claim to precedence, in keeping 
with the character which earned for the claimant the 
nickname of *' The Proud," is clear from one of the 
results of his historic visit to the Queen being his 
recognition as The O'Neill, and as having the 
like authority, jurisdiction, and pre-eminence of his 

In appearance, confirmatory of Shane's ambitious 
claims, this explicit declaration, in the adroit hands o^ 
the English officials, served as an excuse for increased 
intrigues with the chiefs affected by its import. 

O'Donnell and his wife received signal marks of 
royal favour, O'Reilly was created Earl of Breffiiy, 
and O'Dogherty, Maguire, and the lesser chiefs were 
promised assistance to repel the enforcement of claims 
sanctioned and confirmed by the royal authority. 
Needless to observe, years of warfare ensued, during 
which the O'Neills, amongst other barbarities, raided 
the peninsula of Inisowen and put all in it to the 

The MacCarthys and the O'Briens in Munster, and 
the MacCoghlans and the O'Farrells, furnish other, 
but not the only, instances of long-continued and 
bloody family feuds. 

The fact of a sept or family having confederated 

' Queen's Letter, 15. 1.63. ^ MacGeoghegan. 


with the English against other families would, with 
ordinary people having the slightest regard for con- 
sistency, have had the effect of restraining them from 
objecting to others acting similarly. But consistency 
was the one quality absent from every transaction of 
the period, as far as the natives were concerned. 

Maguire and MacMahon took offence at O'Reilly's 
English sympathies, raided his country, and carried 
off everything they found. A similar reason prompted 
O'Rourke and Maguire to waste O'Ferrall's country 
in Meath,^ and O'Donnell, with some subordinate 
chiefs, to burn the countries of Clanricard and Galway ; 
including the town of Athenry, at the time slowly 
recovering from its spoliation by the sons of the Earl 
of Clanricard in revenge for their father's imprison- 

In the effort to discover motives for this incon- 
sistency, we become aware of a curious feature in the 
politics of the period, viz., the frequent occasions on 
which chiefs or nobles devoted to the English interest 
were succeeded by others actively or covertly disloyal. 
Only exceptional circumstances or treatment would 
account for such an unusual sequence of events at one 
particular time. 

In the incessant armed disputes with the Crown, 
relations were often found on opposing sides. As a 
rule this only embittered the struggle ; the following 
is exceptional. 

When Sir Conyers Clifford was defeated by 
O'Donnell and O'Rourke, he was assisted by the 

' O'Sullivan Beare. 


latter's brother-in-law, the O'Conor Don. On the 
ground of this connexion O'Rourke decHned to pursue 
the retreating Royalists, but O'Donnell, refusing to be 
bound by a tie which affected his ally only, followed 
and besieged O'Conor in Colooney Castle. This 
siege is noticeable for being one of the few instances 
where clansmen acted openly against their chief 
O'Conor's men were so incensed at his taking part 
with the English that they assisted the besiegers. 

Quarrels between members of the same family were, 
if possible, the most frequent of all. 

The two branches of the O'Brien family, Thomond 
and Inchiquin, were constantly in arms against one 
another. During some hostilities between the Earl 
of Thomond and his uncle, the Earl obtained the 
assistance of English troops, an obligation amply 
repaid later, when Thomond earned the reputation 
of the most active and violent of all the Royalist 

The Earl of Tyrone endeavoured, in the usual 
manner, to suppress his relative of Clandeboye, and in 
the battle which ensued lost three hundred men. 
Another noble house, the O'Donnells, Princes of 
Tyrconneli, had continuous family disputes and also 
indulged in pitched battles. In one of these, between 
father and son, we have an instance of fighting from 
sheer liking for it only, several nobles with no interest 
in the quarrel having been killed on the young chief's 
side. In his turn, Hugh Roe O'Donnell, the confederate 

1° Life of Hugh Roe O'Donnell. 



leader, suffered from the pretensions of his cousin, 
Nial Garve. The latter's career may be quoted as 
typical of the period. Tempted by the prospect of 
obtaining the chieftaincy under official auspices, Nial 
Garve left the national party, and was for years a 
thorn in the side of the more able Hugh Roe. On 
the latter's death in Spain, where he had gone to 
acquaint Philip with the state of Irish affairs, Nial 
Garve dispensed with the usual formal submission to 
the English authorities, and was inaugurated as chief. 
The authorities, not approving of such independence, 
set up an official candidate and arrested Nial. On 
his escaping and taking up arms, a punitive force, 
accompanied by the official claimant, proceeded to 
•' dissipate " his country and reduced his followers to a 
state of famine. Nial Garve fled into England, and 
eventually was offered the title of Baron and a grant 
of the possessions he had before quitting the national 
party. Execrating English ingratitude, and his own 
short-sightedness, he dropped from public notice. 

In any enumeration of family quarrels, the Butlers, of 
course, figure. Thomas Butler's right to the succession 
was challenged by the natural son of a brother of the 
last Earl. The dispute was terminated only by the 
death of the challenger. 

The worst instance of fratricidal warfare, instigated 
by official artifices and supported by Government 
arms, was that of the O'Carrolls. In their case, as in 
numerous other feuds, it is impossible to avoid the 
conclusion that as soon as any family or individual 
became powerful enough to constitute a danger to the 


English, a coalition was formed against them, either 
from a feeling of self-preservation, objection to 
acknowledge any superior, least of all in their own 
ranks, or through the machinations of Government 

Effect of Legal Disqualifications. — 
Undeniable as this tendency and the evil effects 
resulting from it most certainly were, proof is not 
wanting that many of the chiefs and nobles, who were 
blamed for converting the Island into a huge cock- 
pit, had no other resource, except submission to 
injustice. To resort to arms against relatives, neigh- 
bours, or suzerain, was frequently the only means to 
assert a right or obtain redress for a wrong. 

With the exception of five fully recognised families, 
and a few others partially admitted to an equality 
through having obtained letters of denization, the 
Irish, even though they had formally submitted, were 
unable to appeal to English law on equal terms with 
an official protege or an English opponent. Conse- 
quently they had little confidence in it, and whenever 
possible, settled their disputes in the ancient manner. 
The Cavenaghs, who were not one of the five families, 
furnish an instance in point. Rather than refer a 
family dispute to the Lord Deputy they fought it out, 
and though two hundred men paid with their lives 
for the course taken, all concerned probably suffered 
less than if official interference had been solicited. 

The O'Connors and the O'Morras, living in close 
proximity to the Pale, appear to have been continually 
in trouble. Until their country was annexed and 


occupied they were harassed impartially by levies of 
Irish, a mixed force of both nationalities under the 
Earl of Ormond, and again by Irish under Sir C. 
Nugent.^^ Exasperated into resistance, they were 
beaten into submission, and their leaders advised to 
repair to England and lay their complaints before the 
throne. They did so, were refused a hearing, imprisoned 
for years, and their lands partitioned among the very 
officials on whose advice they had acted in submitting. 
The crimes of these septs lay in the position and 
quality of their lands. They were the Naboths of 
the period.^^ 

An incident in the suppression of these O'Connors 
Faly, besides furnishing one of the last instances of 
ordeal by combat, illustrates the defenceless condition 
of the common people when the native system was 
decaying, and they were considered too contemptible 
for English law to be put in motion to protect them. 
Conor O'Connor accused a cousin, Teig, of killing 
some of his men while they were under protection. 
The killing was admitted, and justified on the ground 
that the men slain had consorted with another of the 
name, a rebel. Ordeal by combat was claimed, and 
with all due formalities took place before the English 
justices and officials. The accused was defeated and 

Personal Grievances. — One of the most active 

and persistent of the rebel chiefs was Hugh Roe 

O'Donnell, Prince of Tyrconnell. Abducted when a 

youth at the instigation of Sir John Perrott, he was 

11 Hatfield MSS. ^^ O'DiiscoU. 


confined in Dublin Castle, from whence, at the cost of 
a permanently injured foot, he contrived to escape. 
From that day until his death in Spain from, as was 
alleged, poison administered by an agent of Carew. 
the maimed foot acted as a perpetual reminder of the 
sufferings and indignities he had been subjected to. 
Early in the war, when the Queen's Commissioners 
offered admittedly honourable terms of accommoda- 
tion, all overtures were rejected at O'Donnell's request. 
His uncompromising hostility to the English Govern- 
ment eventually betrayed him into persuading the 
Confederates to attack the Royalist force at Kinsale ; 
advice which ruined both himself and the cause he 
had so much at heart. For fourteen years the desire 
to avenge the execution of his father as a common 
malefactor at Tyburn was never absent from O'Rourke, 
Prince of Breffny. Not until he surveyed the shattered 
remnants of the Royalist force on the Curlew mountains 
was his desire gratified. Gratified, too, by granting 
the bodies of Clifford and Radcliffe, the English 
leaders, the honourable interment, the wounded vanity 
of their royal mistress had denied his dishonoured 
dead lying in foreign soil. Maguire, the gallant chief 
of Fermanagh, though he protested that his having 
joined O'Donnell was not from any conspiracy or 
malice towards the Queen's authority, but solely to 
obtain protection from the Binghams who were 
ravaging his territory, was ordered by the Privy 
Council to be made an example of. The opportunity 
to do so never occurred, for, after inflicting several 
reverses on the Royalists, he met a soldier's death 


outside the walls of Cork. The grievances of Gerald, 
Earl of Desmond, and James, the Sugaun Earl, were 
rightly attributed to the machinations of the English 
officials. The death of one and imprisonment of the 
other, though costing much treasure, many lives, and 
incalculable misery, placed ■ immense estates at the 
disposal of the Crown. 

In all these cases personal grievances were resented 
by undeniable acts of hostility. Not so the following. 
Florence MacCarthy More spent the greater part of 
a long life a prisoner in England, his only proved 
acts of disloyalty, marrying the heiress of Clancare 
without obtaining the royal permission, and resisting 
the slaughter of his people during an unprovoked 
raid by English officers. Considering that every 
form of injury and insult had been showered on 
MacCarthy, his 'endurance of, and acquiescence in, 
the tyrannical methods of administration which drove 
his compeers into rebellion presents one of the most 
curious problems of the time. In all probability, the 
superior knowledge and experience gained in a long 
residence in England had impressed his philosophical 
mind with the hopelessness, without foreign assistance, 
of resisting the English power. Unless MacCarthy's 
character has been misunderstood, it is possible that 
had he been permitted to throw the weight of his 
abilities into the scale against England, or suffered to 
remain at large when the Spaniards landed, the 
struggle would have proved a more arduous one 
to the victors than it did. 

In the effort to keep afloat on the tumultous sea of 


troubles Elizabethan Ireland presented, one course 
was open to all : that of assisting the English. To 
youth this course presented many attractions, but with 
the truer insight of maturity the glamour disappeared. 
Many tried it, few consistently with real good will 
and to the end. To the majority of those who did 
venture on it, it was the one course holding out pro- 
spects of attaining objects, or gratifying feelings, their 
inferiority or weakness otherwise rendered impossible. 
Even that "primate of all traitors," the Earl of Tyrone, 
was wounded in the English service ; and Florence 
MacCarthy never ceased to remind English officials 
of his youthful services against his countrymen. Some 
of the old Irish, as well as the Anglo-Irish, were 
always to be found in the Royalist ranks, and — as in 
the two battles marking the zenith and nadir of Irish 
military success, the Blackwater and Kinsale — Irish 
troops under their own chiefs, materially contributed 
to minimise the effects of many a defeat, or complete 
what otherwise would have been a bootless success. 

With one exception, no possible means of swelling 
the volume of disorder and dissension was allowed to 
remain unemployed. Feminine influence, common 
enough in other countries at the period, was con- 
spicuously absent from Irish affairs. Beyond the two 
cases mentioned, and the murder of the two Stacks 
(military commanders in English pay), at the instigation 
of the Lady of Lixnaw, women in Ireland do not 
appear to have taken the active part they are credited 
with in the internal disputes of other countries. 

Another course particularly productive of unrest 


was to permit or encourage an Anglo-Irish or English 
family, claiming to be the representative of one of the 
ten Normans to whom Henry II. granted the whole 
territory of Ireland, to revive this grant, or a modifica- 
tion of it, and thus attempt to wrest from the actual 
proprietors, lands and estates held uninterruptedly by 
their family or sept from time immemorial.^^ A West 
of England family, the Carews, were particularly active 
in this direction. 

Unfit Officials. — Another method, responsible 
for much sanguinary warfare, was the employment of 
grossly unfit officials in positions which brought them 
in touch with the Irish. 

Lord Power, a well-known and turbulent noble, Vas 
for some time employed reducing native malcontents 
to obedience. His method of procedure may be 
inferred from his employers being compelled to 
suppress him, " for according to the custom of mere 
Irishmen, burning and wasting towns which yet cleave 
fast to her Majesty." Another official, Willis, sent as 
sheriff to O'Donnell's country, was the cause of more 
disorder than all the traitors in Tyrconnell. Compelled 
at last to decamp, Willis, and the three hundred men 
and women forming his band, took refuge in a church, 
and owed their escape from death to Tyrone rescuing 
them before the irate Prince of Tyrconnell could starve 
them out. The misgovernment of part of Connaught 
by Fitton drove even " the Queen's " Earl of Thomond 
into rebellion, and led to a system of reprisals, 

''^ Taaffe. 


terminated only by the final subjugation of that 
province. Cosby, the military commander of Leix 
and Offaly, was a monster of inhumanity. If one 
tithe of the indescribable cruelties popularly attributed 
to him be true, the Irish had good grounds for their 
belief that the deaths of himself, his son, and grandson, 
in conflict with the Irish was a direct manifestation of 
Divine disapproval.^^ The ferocious administration 
of another military commander. Sir Peter Carew, was 
considered answerable for the revolt of Tirlogh Lenogh 
O'Neill, and the general revolt of 1 569. Carew's attack 
upon the house of one of the Butlers at Kilkenny, 
when defended by eight men only, and the subsequent 
butchery of the garrison and every woman and child 
(including those at the breast) in it,^^ branded him 
with the reproach of cruelty, even in that barbarous 

Character of Nobles and Chiefs.— To follow 
further the endless dissensions and feuds of the chiefs 
and nobles would require a volume. To attempt 
to indicate individual motives and reasons would 
necessitate a library. Let it suffice that, instigated 
and supported by English policy and arms, noble 
fought against noble, chief opposed chief. Englishmen 
massacred Irish, and Irishmen murdered English. 
But above all the sickening details one fact stands out 
boldly. The policy of fomenting disorder, with its 
attendant internal feuds, unrest, and misery, would 
not have been succesful had not nobles and chiefs lent 
themselves to it. 

1* O'Sullivan. i^ Onnond's Letter to Cecil, 24.7.69. 


With a few honourable exceptions, both alike were 
without patriotism or political insight. They lived 
but in their present, and careless of consequences to 
their order, their people, and country, too readily 
resorted to the arbitrament of arms to further petty 
ends or resent imaginary injuries. Unwilling to 
surrender their ancient privileges, they converted 
them into oppressions in the effort to enforce them, 
and in so doing weakened the very class upon which 
they mainly relied. 

Notwithstanding this inability to rise above their 
own immediate aims, to depict them as savage leaders 
of barbarian hordes is a perversion of historical accuracy. 
Equally great would be the error to claim all of them 
as champions of the Roman Catholic faith or Irish 

Many of them were noblemen of education and 
parts. Oxford numbered some of them amongst her 
students. Others lived on terms of equality and 
friendship with Englishmen of rank. Some of them 
had in times of peace been the honoured guests 
of corporations, proud of their Englishry, and the 
exclusiveness of their banquets. Others, like Shane 
O'Neill, maintained a state and establishment of such 
costly magnificence as to astonish Englishmen, not 
unacquainted with the ostentatious luxury of the 
period. Last, but most important indication of their 
admitted status, all were received abroad by the 
proudest nobility in Europe as equals. 

Other countries could point with pride to individual 
nobles equal to Tyrone or Florence MacCarthy, and 


probably superior to Ormond, O'Donnell, Desmond, 
O'Rourke, and others. Yet when we consider the 
political and religious position and environment of 
the Irish leaders they compare favourably with 
English and Scotch nobles. As a class, their crimes 
and mistakes were common to their era and order ; 
many of their virtues peculiar to themselves. Scotch 
nobles, under pretence of loyalty, indulged private 
hates and feuds, and plunged their country into civil 
war. English nobles, influenced by doctrinal distinc- 
tions and foreign emissaries, were responsible for 
several insurrections, a deliberate attempt to ruin the 
national commerce, and unceasing attempts on the 
life of their sovereign. Both, without impugning their 
respective sovereign's rights, proffered their allegiance 
to foreign monarchs. The Irish chiefs could do no more. 
Among the massacres characterising the period, 
that of the Irish women and children at Rathlin stands 
out pre-eminent for savagery and uselessness. The 
responsibility for its hideous conception rests partly 
upon the first Earl of Essex ; and Essex was described 
as one of the noblest of living Englishmen. Contrast 
Norfolk's treachery with the reply of Ormond, when 
Burleigh proposed to capture Desmond by treachery: 
" My Lord, I never will use treachery to any one." 
And again, when pressed to use his intimacy with 
Hugh O'Neill (Tyrone) to entrap him : " I have been 
employed by her Majesty in many services .... 
all of which (I thank God) I have performed without 
any unhonest or filthy practices." And this is the 
nobleman called an "Irish braggart" because, forsooth. 


he employed the graces of person and mind nature 
had endowed him with, to obtain favour in the 
estimation of his cousin, the Queen, for the purpose of 
forwarding schemes against a pohtical rival. Language 
such as this may be soothing to the phrase-monger's 
feelings, but is certainly not fair criticism. Contrast 
further the pusillanimity of Northumberland with the 
manly spirit displayed by O'Rourke, when he refused 
to kneel before the Privy Council, and reproved the 
apostate priest attending him on the scaffold. It is 
more than doubtful if any of the ragged Irish chiefs, 
v/hose full dress an Englishman valued at less than a 
lawyer's fee, would have imitated the Scottish King 
and descended to the infamy of driving a bargain for 
acquiescing in the execution of his mother. The 
White Knight, Fitzgibbon, captured and surrendered 
the " Sugaun " Earl to Carew, under circumstances 
which ought rather to have excited his commiseration, 
but, though the previous relations between them may 
have justified the act, the universal abhorrence caused 
by receiving payment for it restricted to the individual 
its infamy. Though the Irish chiefs and nobles 
frequently broke solemn pledges, they were generally 
guiltless of obtaining a price for their want of rectitude. 
Nial Garve O'Donnell, Donal MacCarthy, and others, 
turned traitors, no doubt, but before falling victims to 
official artifices they were claimants to the lands and 
titles stipulated to be the reward of their perfidy. 

Effect of Internal Dissensions. — The degree 
to which the rivalries and jealousies of chiefs and 
nobles played into the hands of the English is fur- 


nished by the failure to expel them from the Island 
in the last quarter of the i6th century. Under 
Tyrone's leadership, Ireland presented more the 
actuality of a nation than she had for centuries 
previously. Complete union had not been attained, 
but for the first time within four centuries the bulk of 
the national forces was arrayed on the national side. 
When the war was at its height, eighteen Irish and 
six Norman- Irish nobles only, supported the foreign 
domination. Opposed to it were fifty-three Irish and 
seventeen Norman- Irish of the same class. 

The Irish Confederates had attained a position 
rendering their ultimate and complete success within 
the bounds of possibility. The English power cowered 
disheartened behind the bricked up gates of Dublin, 
the ramparts of Cork, and a few isolated strongholds. 
Then Tyrone temporised ! The cause of this fatal 
hesitation did not proceed, as alleged, from a desire 
on his part to obtain possession of the Blackwater 
fort, the key to Ulster. It sprang from the incongruous 
elements of the confederacy itself ; the unstable nature 
of the national character. Not even the certainty of 
the promised help from Spain could divert the national 
devotion from individual to national aims ; could 
substitute patient and sustained effort for spasmodic 
heroism ; could suppress feelings engendered by years 
of mutual distrust and antagonism. Time was lost 
in the Sisyphean task of fruitless negotiation. The 
delay permitted the English to discover new points 
of dissension, and intensify the old. The confederacy 
broke up. Tyrone's schemes were ruined. 


Foreign Relations. — The general political up- 
heaval on the Continent which followed the Reformation 
affected the connection between. England and Ireland 
apart from the purely religious question. 

Years before, when the exasperation with England 
was not so deep as it became later, the value of exploiting 
Irish disaffection as a menace to England had been 
thoroughly appreciated by the Continental nations. 
The French King, Francis I., despatched an envoy to 
O'Donnell and other chiefs to settle a treaty of alliance 
and declaration of war against England. His successor, 
Henry II., also opened negotiations with O'Neill and 
O'Donnell. In consequence, these chiefs on their own 
behalf, and for other lords of the country, placed their 
lives, properties, and forces under French protection.^ 
The ties of a common ancestry, friendly feeling due 
to centuries of trading, and the intercourse resulting 
from Irish pilgrimages to the relics of St. James at 
Compostella, in conjunction with the geographical 
position of the two countries, contributed to a feeling 
amongst the disaffected Irish that the Spaniards were 
their natural allies against their powerful enemy. 
Charles V. sent Gonzaga Fernandez to Ireland to 
stir up rebellion against Henry VIII. ; and later, 
maintained a correspondence with James, Earl of 

Therefore, when England as the champion of 

^ MacGeoghegan. ^ O'Sullivan. 


Protestantism, deliberately entered upon a policy 
of intervention in the domestic affairs of France and 
Spain, it was but natural to expect a renewal of 
attempts to stimulate Irish ability to injure the 
common enemy. That, in the preliminary stages, 
such attempts did not attain the proportions expected 
was attributed mainly to the internal troubles of both 
Continental powers conceding Her Majesty a repose 
she otherwise would not have enjoyed,^ and indirectly 
to the unblushing mendacity and shameless intrigues 
which caused the French marriage negotiations to 
drag on for so long, and the fear of Philip of Spain 
that all hope of succeeding to the throne of England 
would be shattered by an avowed and complete rupture 
with that country. 

The aggressive proceedings of the English, amount- 
ing to actual, if unofficial, warfare against the Spanish 
ships and colonies, at length humiliated the pride and 
exhausted the patience of a people not at that time 
credited with meekness or forbearance in their dealings 
with foreigners. Consequently, when the Irish repre- 
sented their efforts to throw off the English yoke, as 
mainly directed to the maintenance of that form of 
religion Spanish bigotry alone tolerated, a certain 
and speedy prospect of intervention seemed assured. 
Spanish statesmen and officials required no incitements 
to this course of action ; they had long known the 
depleting effect of the Irish ulcer. The persistent 
representations of the Irish prelates that a Spanish 
army in Ireland would compel the heretics to concen- 

^ Walsingham, Ambassador to France. 


trate their attentions upon th'^'^ country, cease their 
attacks upon the Spanish ' sts, and reduce their 
assistance to the rebels in Flanders ; presented no new 
sphere of activity to them. O'Neill had been advised 
by the Spanish ambassador to revolt, direct encourage- 
ment to invade Ireland had been given to Stukeley, 
and the presence of Spanish soldiers at Kilmallock 
and Smerwick was neither questioned nor repudiated. 
Yet, withal, these were but feeble efforts, and had 
succeeded neither in embarrassing England nor 
materially assisting the Irish. The day dreams of 
Philip II., impossible of realisation though they were, 
had always influenced his actions, paralysing and 
rendering distasteful any attempt at striking England 
through Ireland. Philip was but mortal, and his 
probable successor was believed to entertain stronger 
and more acceptable views ; a forecast justified by 
the third Philip's eager readiness to redeem the 
promise of assistance made to the Irish. 

The significance of all this was not lost upon English 
statesmen or people. Lord Burleigh thought that if 
the contemplated invasion proved successful the loss 
of Ireland would prove in the end the loss of all else, 
for Spain would then acquire the command of the sea. 
Raleigh, as well, bluntly cautioned Sir Robert Cecil 
that the King of Spain sought not Ireland for Ireland's 
sake. One of the common sayings at the time crystal- 
lised the popular conviction in this view also — 

He that England will win,* 
Must with Ireland first begin. 

* Fuller's Notable Sayings. 


Scottish ability to disturb the peace in Ireland was 
likewise well understood. The proximity of the two 
countries, and facility with which reinforcements for 
the attenuated followings of the Irish chiefs could be 
landed, constituted a standing danger — a danger 
attempted to be met by the usual futile proclamation 
against employing Scots troops without permission. 
Argyle, through his alliance with Shane O'Neill, was 
believed to exercise considerable influence in the 
north, and Scotch intrigues and negotiations with the 
northern Irish were known to be carried on. Later, 
when the English hold upon Ireland was at its feeblest, 
a circumstantial account was circulated that the King 
of Scots was in communication with, and supplying 
powder to, the Earl of Tyrone. A well-informed 
correspondent of Lord Burleigh warned him that 
if the English and Scotch should strive together, 
when the one had weakened the other, the wild Irish, 
like the put hawk, might drive out or carry away 
both.^ The warning thus quaintly conveyed was no 
alarmist's fancy. After events conclusively proved 
that so long as Scotland remained a separate, and 
frequently hostile, state, the subjugation of Ireland, 
or at least the northern portion of it, could not be 
permanently accomplished. 

Torn by conflicting motives as the Popes were, 
their plans to prevent Ireland embracing heretical 
doctrines would be more pleasantly accomplished if in 
the execution of them the arch-enemy England was 
weakened. Constant correspondence was, therefore, 

6 Sir T. Smith. 



maintained with the disaffected Irish, and Papal 
agents innumerable flitted through the length and 
breadth of their country. Manoeuvres well known to the 
Queen's ministers, and affording strong foundation 
for the belief that nearly if not all the insurrections 
they had to contend with were promoted or engineered 
by Rome. Writing from twenty-five years experience 
of Ireland, one informant of Cecil's considered the fire- 
brands of all disaffection were the Papal emissaries : 
they in one day turning more of the Queen's subjects 
to rebellion than all the bishops, preachers, and army 
would win back in many years.^ To assist the mundane 
methods of their emissaries two of the Popes utilised 
the dread powers of the Church by issuing Bulls pro- 
fuse with promises of indulgence to those aiding to 
expel the heretical English/ 

The suitability of Ireland as a base from which to 
guide domestic strife had been early discovered by 
English malcontents — an appositeness not likely to 
decrease now the religious question bade fair to range 
the nations in hostile camps. The alleged plot by 
St. Leger for the destruction of the Queen and her 
ministers was said to have originated in Ireland. 8 
Whether true or not, those threatened knew that 
support would not be wanting to that or any other 
scheme having a similar object. 

From this brief sketch of the foreign political 
outlook it is clear that in Elizabeth's reign Ireland 

«John Bii-d. 

' MacGeoghegan ; Taaffe. 

^ Earle to Burleigh, March, 1573. 


was the disturbing and determining factor in the 
extraneous poHcy of England and her relations with 
foreign nations — a factor that became more necessary 
than ever to allay or remove when the political isolation 
of England, consequent upon the religious cleavage, 
showed signs of increasing. Whatever direction the 
effort to accomplish this might take must depend 
largely upon the position of the English Government 
in Ireland, the extent and degree of its hold upon the 
country, and the value of whatever resources it could 
command there. 

English Authority in Ireland.— In the early 
part of the i6th century five counties only (including 
Dublin) of the English Pale partially acknowledged 
the King's authority. Eight counties did not 
acknowledge him. From the document ^ from which 
the authority for this statement is derived, it appears 
further, that in the limited area which then constituted 
the Pale, the sum of seven hundred and forty pounds 
was paid yearly as tribute to seven Irish chiefs. More 
than half a century later the payment of tribute was 
so customary that an express edict from the Lord 
Deputy was necessary to prevent the English garrison 
of Carrickfergus continuing to pay it ; Carrickfergus, 
on Belfast Lough, being next to Dublin the greatest 
magazine and store in the kingdom. 

About the time the Pale was paying tribute the 
Master of the Rolls was requested to advertise the 
King that his land of Ireland was so much decayed 
that his laws were not obeyed twenty miles in 

^ State Papers, Hemy VIIL, Vol. II. 


compass. Notwithstanding this explicit statement, 
of the EngHsh hold upon Ireland at this 
period, much capital has been made of an Irish 
Parliament, in 1541, conferring the crown and title of 
King of Ireland upon the English monarch. The 
importance of any Parliamentary ordinance depends 
upon the representative constitution of the body by 
which it was enacted. Six chiefs only sat in the 
Parliament of 1541. They were neither the most 
important nor representative, nor had they a mandate 
from any districts or communities to act as they did. 

Previous to the Parliament of 1584 (5) in which 
fifty Irish chiefs — representatives of all the chief 
families — sat, the expression, " Irish Parliaments " 
must be taken to mean Parliaments of the Pale. 
And even in these, it was said, numbers of English- 
men sat as burgesses for towns of which, so far from 
being residents as the law directed, they were total 
strangers to, having neither seen nor known them 
previous to becoming their representatives. Actually^ 
until the close of the reign of Henry VIII., none but 
those of English birth were eligible for the Irish 
Commons. The mere Irish were never admitted.^^ 

In the year 1546, when the wise policy introduced 
by Henry VIII. was exercising its conciliatory effect, 
several earls and chiefs informed the King that the 
country was never more peaceful, nor in a better state 
of conformity ; statements corroborated by the Irish 
Council, with the addition, that the Irish were more 
obedient than ever before known in their time, and 

1'^ Sii- J. Davies. 


the significant reservation that, " as for the Irishry 
albeit your Majesty's laws be not current among 
them."^^ There can be but one construction placed on 
these sentences and the accompanying context, and 
that is, that the obedience of the Irishry to the King 
and his Deputy was of recent growth, and did not 
extend to his laws and customs. 

After the death of Henry, the gradual contraction 
of the sphere of English influence, which had been in 
progress for nearly a century, was forcibly stopped, 
and replaced by a policy of expansion. 

On Queen Mary's accession, the Chancellor Cusack 
reported to the effect that the whole country was in 
such good quiet that the judges held their assizes not 
only at Cork, Limerick, and Kerry, but in the most 
distant shires of the West ; the most troublesome of 
the chiefs and nobles, as holders of the Queen's 
Commission, having compelled their countrymen to 
remain quiet. This very explicit statement has been 
the subject of constant misconstruction. If read 
correctly it amounts to no more than. That a 
numerously escorted Commission of Assize having 
held gaol deliveries in the cities of Cork and Limerick; 
both strongly held in the English interest by the 
townsmen and garrisons, had between these cities 
traversed a part of Kerry, the chief and only town in 
which it was probable or practicable assizes would be 
held, Tralee, being also held for the same interest. 
The Commission had then returned by the borders 
of Connaught, touching at Athlone, also strongly 

11 State Papers, Vol. III. 


garrisoned, and the seat of a provincial governor. 
Further, that the nobles and chiefs said to have 
assisted the judges were those whose estates and 
territories were on or contiguous to the route 

Putting aside the physical difficulties in the way of 
the Commission having taken any other route or 
visited other places than those mentioned, there are 
ample grounds for assuming that their journey was 
more in the nature of a military punitive expedition 
than the ordinary judicial circuit, from the circum- 
stances, that more than twenty years afterwards Lord 
Deputy Sidney, accompanied by the usual display of 
force, made a progress through the same districts, and 
immediately afterwards the chiefs resumed the rule of 
their territories as if the English or their Queen had 
never existed.^^ The following year the Earl of 
Desmond — no mere Irish chief, but the head of the 
Norman-Irish Geraldines of the South - drew attention 
to the invasion of his privileges by the Queen's 
judges venturing to enter the Palatinate of Kerry. 
A generation later again. Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam, 
wishing to hold sessions and assizes in Connaught, was 
compelled to take for escort all the garrisons and part 
of the general muster of the Pale territory. 

In reality, except for a small circle round Dublin, 
comprising half of each of the five home counties, 
English rule had practically ceased, or, as in the case of 
the north, had never been enforced beyond a limited 
degree only. The remainder of the Island, cities and 

^2 Life of Florence MacCartky More. 


garrison-towns excepted, was held and governed by 
sixty Irish chiefs and thirty Norman- Irish nobles.^^. 
Each supreme in his own region, as it was termed. 

Regardless of the actual facts, or as a consequence 
of them, the royal claim by right of conquest was 
never more strictly insisted on. Whether able to 
maintain this claim or not, it was too convenient and 
far-reaching a weapon to be lightly discarded. No 
right could be acquired not founded on it ; and no 
length of possession set up against its unanswerable 
force of argument. Later, when the tide had some- 
what turned, documentary submissions by penitent 
chiefs were usually made to contain confessions of 
usurpation, and renunciations of all claims to territorial 
rights and properties. While claims, similar to those 
of the Carews, involving large areas in native posses- 
sion, were sympathetically received and energetically 

In addition to the claim by right of conquest, a still 
more extraordinary one was disclosed in the Act of 
Attainder of Shane O'Neill. In this the whole territory 
of Ireland was said to have been vested in the 
English King, Henry II., in right of his succession 
from King Gurmond, son of Belin, King of Great 
Britain : " afore the coming of Irishmen into Ireland 
from Spain." 

Domestic Administration.— The first symptom 
of any coherent or continuous policy by the English 
governors, beyond the determination to acquire all 
they could and retain it if possible, resulted from a 

13 2nd vol. State Papers, Henry VIII, O'Connell. 


recognition of the impossibility of maintaining their 
position were the Irish to unite in opposition to them. 
" Divide to govern " became the password, and the 
promotion of particular dissensions to ensure general 
weakness the keynote of their policy. 

Though the successful prosecution of this policy 
had succeeded in reducing the danger to English 
domination, it had not rendered the Island less diffi- 
cult to govern. That, the royal ministers professed 
to consider, would only be attained when the native 
system had been entirely replaced by English methods; 
when the ability of the nobility and chiefs to identify 
their followers with their public and private differences 
had disappeared ; and the power to muster mercenary- 
troops had vanished with the native customs for 
maintaining them. They considered, further, that 
subordinate chiefs and clansmen would no longer 
range themselves under the banners of the bearers of 
tribal patronymics, once they had exchanged them 
for others, signifying adhesion to the new order. 

Accordingly, several of the native leaders were 
persuaded to surrender their estates to the Crown. 
When receiving them back on the English system oi 
tenure, titles of honour were conferred on those willing 
to accept them in place of the distinctive " The," and 
to those whose religious scruples permitted the accept- 
ance, Church lands and the patronage of livings were 
given.^* The first results of this new departure did 
not promise well for its continuance. Of the six chiefs 
who accepted the new titles, O'Donnell found his son 
^* MacGeoghegan. 


with most of his clan in arms against him, the Earl of 
Thomond met with similar disapprobation, the Earl 
of Clanricard was replaced by an Irish MacWilliam, 
and The O'Neill was deposed. The surprise and 
disgust caused by this renunciation of native titles 
was particularly marked when an O'Brien exchanged 
the dignity of "Dalcais " for the Earldom of Thomond. 1* 
While the repudiation of any equality or superiority 
arising from the foreign titles was coarsely expressed 
by Shane O'Neill when informed a MacCarthy had 
become Earl of Clancarty : " I keep a lacquey as 
noble as he." 

Other chiefs, in order to obtain an exclusive title to 
the properties they held, also formally surrendered 
them to the Crown, and received grants by patent in 
return. In some instances this proceeding was 
repudiated by the Irish heir, and led to many years 
of family feuds and litigation. Another variation of 
the same principle occurred when Lord Deputy Sidney 
persuaded others to surrender their estates in return 
for annuities. As the next future recipient of the 
annuity was a matter of dispute, this scheme likewise 
failed to give satisfaction. In several cases cessions 
of estates and acceptances of hereditary titles that 
had passed unchallenged in the lifetime of the first 
holders were, on their deaths, immediately disputed, 
the heirs, according to Irish custom, assuming 
possession and discarding or repudiating the titles. 
In other cases, where the official nominee became the 

^5 Taaffe. 


chief, and the government indemnified the native 
claimant, the arrangement, though it prevented the 
usual disputes, did not reconcile public opinion to the 

Still another plan was to so educate and train junior 
members of chief families, entrusted to English custody, 
that, relying upon the new ideas and sympathies thus 
fostered, they could be safely substituted for any 
disaffected chief of the family. Frequently tried and 
seldom successful — the worst instance of failure being 
the Earl of Tyrone, the Confederate leader — this 
artifice possessed a compensatory advantage in causing 
divisions and disturbances, thereby affording a pretext 
for modifying the ownership of, or annexing, the 
properties involved. 

These new style proprietors : Earls, annuitants, or 
suppositious chiefs, were considered renegades by 
the old Irish Party, and with others who embraced 
the royal cause may be identified in contemporary 
native narratives by the prefix "the Queen's." 

After the accession of Elizabeth the determination 
to minimise, if not remove, the foreign and domestic 
dangers by converting the shadowy claims of a 
mythical sovereignty into the stern reality demanded 
by the situation grew rapidly. Whenever possible, 
regardless of acknowledged right or moral obligation, 
the boundaries of the Pale were extended. Disputed 
districts were taken possession of by Royalist troops, 
opened up by the construction of communications, 
and held by the erection of forts. On the southern 
borders of the Pale the territories of three septs had 


been summarily confiscated and annexed. A parlia- 
mentary statute authorised the Lord Deputy to 
divide the extensive districts thus acquired into fiefs, 
and make prudent grants of them to any English 
subject whom he might deem likely to advance the 
English interest. This arbitrary proceeding begot 
its own punishment, for between the violent opposition 
of the dispossessed proprietors, and the dissatisfaction 
at the partial manner in which the grants were made, 
the annexed country was for many years the most 
disturbed and troublesome of any. 

Financial. — Amidst the alarm and disquietude 
of the Irish caused by these proceedings, complaints 
that the government of Ireland was a drain upon 
English resources began to be heard. Many of the 
towns in England objected to the burden of furnishing 
men for the interminable Irish wars, while on all sides 
the Irish business was described as a malady and 
consumption of the times. 

All through the correspondence between the Queen 
and her Ministers these complaints continually appear 
in some form or another, and were unquestionably 
used to influence the adoption of measures unfavourable 
to the Irish. Her Majesty was reminded that a 
million had been spent in the country but a short 
time before, and a better kingdom might have been 
purchased at less expense. ^^ Successive Lord Deputies 
were therefore instructed, that the Queen found 
Ireland a great charge to her and burdensome to her 

i« Sir W. Raleigh. 


subjects, and required to decrease the charges and 
increase the revenue. 

In deference to these instructions, an effort to make 
the administration self-supporting was attempted : 
the principle and mode of application indicating the 
area and extent of control exercised by the Royal 
Ministers. For the maintenance of the royal garrisons 
and government, certain assessments had been hitherto 
levied, with the consent of the principal residents, on 
the English districts. Lord Deputy Sidney changed 
this into a permanent revenue by substituting a 
composition for the assessment. At the same time, 
to increase the charges and make them more equitable, 
he disallowed all exemptions, and by Orders in 
Council made a general imposition on all the subjects. 

This proceeding excited great discontent, and the 
new Irish of the Pale, headed by Lords Baltinglass, 
Trimbleston, and others, despatched agents to London 
to complain of it. The agents were committed to 
prison, and the imposition approved by the Queen. 
Such a storm of resentment and opposition resulted 
that even the Queen was appalled. The agents were 
released, and the Lord Deputy ordered to bring the 
matter in dispute to some speedy accommodation. 

Mutual Relations. — While it is clear from the 
readiness to compromise this dispute, there existed a 
disinclination to force the Irish to extremities, it is 
equally evident the Queen's Ministers in England 
were in ignorance of the actual condition of affairs in 
Ireland, otherwise the futility of attempting to reduce 
expenditure when the irresistible logic of events was 


daily demonstrating its impossibility must have 
presented itself to them. At the time the relations 
between governors and governed were entering on a 
new phase. The disaffected were growing stronger 
and more united than at any previous period. The 
offensive operations of the O'Neills in the north, the 
Baltinglass confederates in the midlands, the Burkes 
in the west, and Desmonds in the south — all of them 
undertaken with an object, not the aimless kicking 
against the pricks characterising former revolts — were 
but several indications of their growing power. The 
Irish officials were confronted with the seriously 
considered possibility of the governed throwing them- 
selves into the arms of a hostile power or making 
themselves independent. They had begun to realise 
that former administrative methods no longer sufficed 
to remove the difficulties they had to contend with, 
and they were only too well aware that to permit a 
continuance of the prevailing hostile spirit would be 
to encourage it. To attempt, by conciliation, to 
lessen the number and importance of the disaffected 
was declared impossible by the best informed, while 
to use repressive measures would require the employ- 
ment of a large force, cost immense sums, and occupy 
considerable time. Moreover, were it possible to 
remove the Queen's parsimonious objections, the 
foreign outlook precluded embarkation on a course of 
force until all others had been tried. 

That before matters had reached this stage her 
Majesty's Ministers saw nothing inconsistent with 
her claims or derogatory to her dignity in the 


demands of the Irish may be presumed from the chief 
Minister, Lord Burleigh, contemplating the grant of 
self-government to them, and preferrini^ the retention 
of the native proprietors to forming settlements and 
colonies.^^ The same Minister's advice, when the 
Alen^on marriage project (one of the inducements to 
which was that Ireland would no longer be in daily 
peril of revolt) finally fell through, leaves no doubt as 
to his sentiments : " You must conciliate Ireland, 
allow the chiefs to continue their ancient greatness, 
take away the fear of conquest lately grafted on the 
wild Irish, and wink at disorders which do not affect 
the crown." Statesman-like advice, unfortunately 
not acted on. 

Among the dissentient nobles there was no question 
of severing the English connection till, through the 
adroit management of the religious question, there 
appeared no other exit from an otherwise impossible 
position. Their demands originally amounted to no 
more than a larger and more continuous share in the 
government of the whole country — a return, in fact, to 
the system which, until recently, had been in operation 
almost since the invasion ; under which the business of 
local government had been carried on by them without 
interference from the authorities in Dublin. Then 
with regard to the chiefs. Though the majority were 
also originally willing to admit the claims of the 
English crown, there can be no question that, provided 
they were permitted to rule after their own fashion in 

^■^ Raleigh in Ireland. 


their own territories, the power to which the sovereignty 
pertained had become a matter of indifference. Later 
through the same clerical contrivances by which the 
nobles had been moved, a desire to exclude England 
altogether was manifested. 

Judging from their correspondence and plans the 
Irish leaders were thoroughly conversant with the 
foreign and domestic questions of the day, as well as 
the projects and intentions of their English rulers. 
They were known to be in communication with 
foreign powers and the Papacy, and to look to Spain 
as the power through whose assistance they hoped to 
attain their ends. What those ends were is difficult 
to define. The only pronouncement which would 
enable them to be authoritatively defined are the 
demands of the Baltinglass confederates and the terms 
of peace formulated by the Earl of Tyrone— both 
practically amounting to possession of the country 
and government, and retention of the Catholic form 
of worship, under the sovereignty of England. But 
the Irish leaders were not devoid of intelligence. 
They did not anticipate, if Spain assisted them to 
throw off the English yoke, no return would be 
expected. There was no native dynasty to restore to 
the throne ; no universally accepted candidate among 
the chiefs to place upon it. The only practicable 
alternative was some form of national government 
under the suzerainty of Spain. 

Official Machinery. — At this juncture the 
administrative machinery consisted of a Lord Deputy, 
or Lord Lieutenant, sent from England as the Queen's 


representative, and a Council of State, comprising 
official members and administrative officers. Local 
administration was in the hands of Governors of 
Provinces, or Lord Presidents, and a Council formed 
from the local nobles and prelates, assisted by minor 
officials. Merely nominal as these administrations 
were in the southern and western provinces, in the 
north they were replaced by purely military control. 
Though occasionally a Parliament was summoned, 
all Governmental measures were transacted by the 
Council, the administrative orders being promul- 
gated in the form of Orders in Council. These orders 
were supposed to reflect instructions received from 
London, as well as the views of the Lord Deputy and 
his advisers. Owing to the distance and slowness of 
communications, the liability of affairs to enter on a 
new phase before directions concerning them could 
reach the Irish executive occasionally led to a conflict 
of action, but, as a rule, the Queen's Ministers were 
guided and advised by the officials in Ireland. 

Officials. — As the success or failure of any under- 
taking must depend largely upon the instruments 
entrusted with its execution, it will not be out of place 
to glance at the characteristics of the Elizabethan 

With few exceptions, English and Anglo-Irish 
officials generally contemplated the affairs of the 
country they were deputed to rule from a purely 
English point of view. In their communications with 
the Home Government, and official pronouncements, 
they rang the changes upon the foreign danger, 


domestic difficulties, and expense of Government, 
at the same time exaggerating into armed revolt 
every petty disturbance or escape from deliberately- 
planned massacre. To them the Irish owed the 
designation of " rebels ; " the former official description 
of " enemies " not being sufficiently comprehensive 
of penal liabilities. 

Official positions in Ireland had arrived at the 
stage of being considered hereditary or confined 
to families. Some of the officials and families 
had claims upon Irish properties, others had lost 
relatives in the constant wars, others again based 
claims for consideration upon services rendered. 
Though their claims were diverse, the claimants were 
unanimous in considering the bestowal of estates the 
only satisfactory settlement of them ; and official 
position provided both opportunity and means for 
profiting by any settlement. That Governmental 
measures could be prosecuted, and national esteem 
preserved from the ignominy of defeat at the hands of 
a despised enemy, by means tending to the attain- 
ment of personal ends, was a fortuitous circumstance, 
confirming, in the opinion of those entrusted with their 
execution, the justice and expediency of such measures. 

In abilities and methods Sir Walter Raleigh and 
Sir George Carew, though differing essentially in 
many qu Jities, may be quoted as types of the soldier- 
administrators, many of these officials were compelled 
by the nature of their employment to become. 

Raleigh. — From the day at Smerwick, when, as 
a young captain, he took a prominent part in the 



execution of six hundred foreigners and Irish (including 
pregnant women) until the Queen's death, Raleigh 
either in person or through having the Queen's ear, 
pervaded Irish affairs. To Raleigh was due much of 
the unreasonable parsimony that, acceptable though 
it was to his royal mistress, fettered to the extent of 
paralyzing the Irish administration. As was also 
due the sinister advice not to shew mercy to a 
defeated chief because the offender's country 
worth the royal keeping. His great talents were 
devoted to intrigues and efforts to thwart the 
purposes of those inclined to deal justly with the 
natives. He threw aside the claims of personal 
friendship rather than agree to measures calculated 
to have gone far towards removing the Irish 
difficulty, and was responsible for countenancing 
assassination when other means failed to remove 
opponents. Despite this reputation, and the fact that 
he was both a land grabber and monopolist, the charm 
of person and manner which fascinated his susceptible 
royal mistress and her maids of honour, had its 
influence on a people always sensitive to personal 
attractions enabling Raleigh to gain the confidence 
of the Southern Irish to a greater degree than the 
generality of his countrymen, and to live unmolested 
amongst them at a period when race antagonism ran 
high. In one particular only did Raleigh differ for 
the better from other officials and captains — he was 
not surrounded by a swarm of relations. 

Carew. — George Carew — successively Sir George, 
Baron Carew, and Earl of Totnes — first appears in 


Irish annals in connection with a raid upon the Knight 
of Glinn's territory. Later, we read that through the 
unintended good offices of his Uncle Wingfield, 
Master of the Ordnance, he escaped the fate of his 
brother, killed in the rout at Glenmalure. Next, that 
an English jury in Dublin had returned a verdict of 
wilful murder against him for slaying, in broad day- 
light, an unsuspecting Irishman, believed to have been 
present at Glenmalure. An exploit which drew from 
Secretary Walsingham the remark, that George Carew 
had committed a very foul act. 

Judging from official records, Carew was harsh, 
cruel, and bloodthirsty, hesitating at nothing to effect 
his purpose. Despite these blemishes and his 
addiction to the tortuous methods of the period, he 
was accounted an open and courageous foe. As a 
military commander, cautious and capable, and as 
an administrator, unsurpassed. Carew originated the 
practise of making the submission of one rebel con- 
ditional upon his assassinating some rebel friend or 
kinsman, and the plan of bestowing rewards and 
maintenance upon those Irish who did service upon 
their countrymen. The most discreditable affairs 
attributed to him were the intrigues to entrap the 
*' Sugaun," Earl of Desmond, Nugent's plot to assas- 
sinate that noble's brother, the robbery of the Spanish 
commander's dispatches after his surrender,^^ the 
plots to poison the Earl of Tyrone,!'*' and Florence 
MacCarthy,!^ and complicity in the alleged poisoning 

^® Pacata Hibernia. 

^' Life of Florence MacCarthy More, 


of Hugh Roe O'Donnell.^*) All strongly suggestive of 
the methods of the period, and explaining the mingled 
hatred and dread Carew inspired in the Irish. Carew's 
exceptionally rapid rise ; he having held in succession 
almost every position of responsibility in Ireland; owed 
something to family influence, and the exertions of his 
wife, no doubt. Yet, if success be the one test of 
merit, he thoroughly deserved all his honours, and 
the trust and confidence his royal mistress reposed 
in her " dear George." 

In contrast to the rewards showered upon Carew 
and officials of his class are the final scenes marking 
the close of the official careers of other workers in the 
Irish " prosecution," as it was termed. One, symbolic 
of the esteem always conceded to success achieved by 
means agreeable to the public conscience. The other, 
the danger of employing methods not generally 
approved of. 

Sidney.— Sir Henry Sidney (Big Henry of the 
Beer), after long and varied services in Ireland; 
during which, by calling into existence a system of 
provincial administration he brought about the first 
actual establishment of English rule beyond the Pale, 
and by abolishing several burdensome exactions took 
from the native and semi-native territorial magnates 
some measure of their ability to oppress the lower 
orders of the community ; returned to his native 
country poorer in everything but reputation. The 
courage and honesty of word and deed which 
distinguished his administration, and made him 

"^ Carew's ktter to Mountjoy, 1602. 


acceptable to all ranks of the Irish, failed to silence 
the voice of detraction. His last years were embittered 
by the Queen's scornful neglect of his Irish services. 

Essex. — Animated by the generous instincts of a 
great noble, and the knowledge derived from his 
favourite political study — Irish affairs — the Earl of 
Essex began his administration in Dublin by holding 
out promises of restitution to the plundered natives. 
After a short and disastrous career ; a victim to the 
palace intrigues he had not scrupled to employ 
against others ; Essex deserted his office, returned to 
England, engaged in treasonable practices, and 
perished on the scaffold. 

Perrott. — Sir John Perrott, the least known Lord 
Deputy of the three, was said to be a natural son 
of Henry VIII. Promoted from the Government of 
Munster to the position of Lord Deputy in the 
expectation that his haughty and quarrelsome 
disposition would be suitably employed bridling the 
insolency of the Irish, he held the reins of power for 
three years only, and was then recalled to England. 
Shortly afterwards, on accusations from Dublin, he was 
arrested, tried, and condemned to death. Relegated 
to the Tower, he there, under the shadow of the axe, 
lingered for some time, and died a State prisoner. 
From the Irish point of view, Perrott's term of office 
was blemished by the abduction of the young 
O'Donnell and his companions. The tears and 
lamentations accompanying his departure from Dublin 
testify to the appreciation of his rule by the non- 
official and lower classes of the capital. 


Notwithstanding they were, in one case, the object 
of fond recollections, in another of cousinly partiality, 
to the Sovereign herself, and had the support of 
influential friends and relatives, these Englishmen 
were treated with contempt and contumely. They 
had been accused of the crime of seeking some rational 
basis upon which to amicably settle the interests of 
the two nationalities. The alternative and generally 
accepted policy they were expected to conform to, 
with its independence of control and crafty methods, 
is writ large in official transactions with the great 
landed proprietors. 

Treatment of Territorial Magnates. — The 
Earl of Desmond having been confined for some time 
in the Tower, was permitted to escape from London, 
on conditions framed by the Queen's Privy Council. 
He at once proceeded to Ireland, and on landing in 
Dublin was re-arrested by the Irish authorities, and 
confronted with other and more onerous conditions. 
To these he refused to agree. The details of the 
second arrest, and the conditions sought to be imposed, 
give the impression of an attempt to drive the Earl 
into rebellion. That was the result. That it was 
likewise the light in which many of Desmond's contem- 
poraries viewed it is evident from a numerously-signed 
paper advising the Earl not to agree to fresh conditions, 
and pledging the signatories' lives and goods to 
defend him against the Lord Deputy, or any other 
person, coveting the Desmond inheritance.'^ Pledges 

21 State Papers, 1574. 


that proved ineffectual to save Desmond's life or 

In a similar manner official machinations drove that 
astute politician, Florence MacCarthy, into committing 
the only overt act of rebellion his numerous and 
indefatigable enemies could produce in evidence 
against him. Fortunately for MacCarthy, this out- 
break occurred when he was too high in favour and 
reputation at the English Court to be dealt with 
summarily by the Irish authorities. 

After the capture of the *'Sugaun," Earl of Desmond, 
the Irish Council, though directed to send him to 
England for disposal, tried and condemned him in 
Ireland, so that if, as was feared, he should die in 
the meantime the Crown would have his lands. 
Another Desmond pithily expressed the Irish 
grievances to the Earl of Ormond in the complaint 
that Englishmen were not content to have the lands 
and liberty of the Irish, but, under cover of law, by 
false and sinister motives, unmercifully sought their 

From the accession of Elizabeth until the end of 
the century, three Parliaments only were summoned. 
One, for the raising of revenue ; two, for the attainder 
of Shane O'Neill and the Earl of Desmond, followed 
in due course by the partition of their large estates. 

Were other proofs required that the fears of the 
Irish were not groundless, they will be found in the 
writings of Captain Thomas Lee, and the proclama- 
tion, before referred to, of the Earl of Essex. In this 
it was said, any of the men of Ireland whose estates 


had been taken through oppression, or by any form 
of violence or illegality, would have them restored. '^^ 
There could be no restitution without purloining ; nor 
would an explicit promise of that nature be made 
without ample grounds. Turning to Captain Lee, 
this accredited English agent — writing from an 
experience acquired by long residence -in Ireland — 
advised the restoration (subject only to certain charges 
for supporting garrisons) of their countries to the 
chiefs, and to make the governors and sheriffs more 
acceptable to the Irish. To support the probability 
of these recommendations pacifying the Island, he 
gave the names of six principal chiefs willing to 
receive the Queen's forces and let her laws pass 

Settlements. — The attainder of the Earl of 
Desmond placed immense estates at the disposal of 
the Crown. The original occupiers had been reduced 
to insignificant numbers. Those remaining were to 
be transported to the woods and mountains of Kerry. 
Thus providing space for English colonies, to become 
in time, it was confidently predicted, the salvation 
of Ireland and a bulwark to England. Elaborate 
schemes were duly formulated. Undertakers, as 
these prospective proprietors were termed, were to 
be given estates of from four to twelve thousand 
acres, at a low rent for the first three years, free 
from taxes, and liable only to subsidies levied by 
Parliament, Free trade with England was guaranteed, 
and the Crown engaged to protect the infant settle- 

22 The Four Masters. 


ments for three years. The undertakers on their part 
were required to import English families to cultivate 
the soil, to erect all that was necessary in the way of 
buildings, to maintain a proportion of soldiers, and to 
promote the breeding of horses. Not a word about 
the natives ! They figure among the prohibitions. 
The undertakers were prohibited from conveying any 
part of their grants to the mere Irish, maintaining 
any of them on the estates, or allowing their female 
heirs to marry any man unless of English birth. 

This, though the largest in magnitude of area 
involved, was not the only attempt at giving effect to 
the dictum to root out the natiyes, confiscate their 
property, and people the country with English. 

Immediately the sword of a Scot had removed, in 
the person of Shane O'Neill, the most powerful of the 
Northern chiefs, the authorities in Dublin began to 
entertain a project of peopling Ulster with English 
residents and Flemish Protestant refugees. This 
project, the first of the attempted plantations in the 
Northern province, was to h^ve included parts of the 
territories of the O'Hanlons and their sub-chiefs. 
The grants were on somewhat similar lines to those 
made previously on the southern borders of the Pale, 
and the grantees likewise were termed undertakers. 
Except to intensify the lopal chaos, and ruin some of 
the undertakers, no permanent result was effected. 
A failure which might have been foreseen, the country 
being left " waste altogether, without a house, peel, 
or castle left standing in it, but a sorry little fort, 
pitched of sods and turfs." 


Loss of property and prospects were not the worst 
mischances which befell some intending settlers. Sir 
T. Smith, having obtained a grant of an estate near 
Ardes, sent his natural son to take possession. The 
rightful owner slew the son as an intruder, routed his 
followers, and continued in undisturbed possession. 

About three years afterwards, the Earl of Essex 
endeavoured, " at his own charges," to conquer the 
Barony of Clandeboye. At his own charges was 
merely the euphemism for at the cost of the native 
proprietors they were to dispossess, for Essex's 
soldiers were to receive no pay, but after two years' 
service, four or two hundred acres of land each, 
according to the arm, mounted or foot, they belonged 
to. Official and personal jealousies, combined with 
the usual Irish objections, wrecked this attempt also. 
Commenting upon it. Sir T. Welsford wrote to Lord 
Burleigh that he found the Irish labouring under the 
suspicion that the war had been undertaken as a private 
enterprise and not by the Queen's directions. They 
were, therefore, more enraged with the fury of 
desperation than he had ever before noticed, and 
affirmed they were not rebels, only engaged defending 
their own lands and goods. 

Contemporaneously with these ineffectual efforts to 
found settlements, an attempt was made, without 
unduly disturbing vested interests or native suscepti- 
bilities, to pacify the country west of the Shannon. 

Composition of Connaught. — By judicious 
management, Sir Nicholas Malby had persuaded the 
lords of Connaught and the O'Rourke to consent to a 


scheme that, while avoiding the most derogatory 
features of former submissions and agreements, peace- 
ably brought about a similar condition of affairs, 
social and political, to that existing in the English 
districts ; and, without loss of dignity or property by 
those concerned, substituted for the irregular control 
of individuals no longer tramelled by public opinion 
or ancient laws and customs, a system of public and 
private obligations recognised by the only power in 
the land sufficiently interested and strong enough to 
enforce it. Unfortunately for the success of this 
experiment, the cruel and tyrannous government of 
Sir Richard Bingham caused many of the chiefs to 
revert to their former unsatisfactory relations and 
armed resistance. 

Bingham. — This Richard Bingham, the most 
notorious member of a very prominent family in 
Elizabethan times, claimed a considerable share of 
public attention, his character, as depicted by contem- 
poraries, displaying a curious medley of the good and 
bad qualities of both nationalities. Bingham's early 
administration in Connaught was principally noticeable 
for his disarming an English reinforcement to bestow 
their arms upon some Irish levies and for the mildness 
of his rule, offering, as it did, such a contrast to the 
fierce and imperious disposition he afterwards displayed. 
Whether this change was the result of long residence 
in the wilds of the West among a population whose 
natural ferocity had never been tamed, or was, as the 
chiefs asserted, his true character, there is not sufficient 
material to decide. Irish writers describe Bingham's 


career as one long nightmare of cruelty, beginning 
with the massacre at Smerwick and ending only when, 
discredited and disowned, he was relieved of the 
provincial governorship. 

That this harsh estimate was not without reason, the 
savage ferocity of his orders during the Armada 
executions bears witness. Bingham proved himself a 
skilful commander, self-reliant and fertile in resource, 
achieving several successes, principally against the 
Scots. His barbarity in obtaining possession of the 
fort at Enniskillen by treachery and putting the 
garrison and their families to the sword brought him 
into deserved discredit, while the rebellion in 
Connaught was attributed to the personal dislike the 
chiefs had conceived for him. In retaliation for the 
cruelties Bingham had perpetrated in that province 
Tyrconnel marched into it and slew every English 
Protestant between the ages of fifteen and sixty, and 
unable to speak Irish, that fell into his hands. After 
the disaster at the Blackwater, the Privy Council 
sent Bingham back to Ireland to command the military 
operations. His death, immediately after landing, 
closed a career, unique even in that day, and certainly 
deprived Irish history of a most stirring chapter. 

English Activity. — Not the least of the pheno- 
menal movements of the Elizabethan period was the 
assiduity of the English in the pursuit of any enter- 
prise promising gain or advantage. Visions of El 
Dorados were common to all ranks. Land hunger, a 
disease till then little known, appeared to have taken 
possession of all classes, and with these visions and 


cravings a reckless determination to let nothing stand 
in the way of their realisation was fast becoming a 
national characteristic. 

This spirit of acquisition had been directed to 
Ireland, where it was commonly believed estates were 
to be had for the mere trouble of killing a few natives — 
aliens in language, manners, and customs. Noblemen 
and gentlemen having needy relatives and dependants 
(and their number was legion) turned to Ireland and 
its English governors as to a naturally provided relief 
from their perplexities. To provide for a moiety of 
the applicants was impossible ; to refuse them would 
have been impolitic. Actuated by these desires and 
beliefs, and countenanced by persons in authority 
acquainted with the country, several English adven- 
turers solicited permission to raise troops, and by a 
process of spoliation and rapine, without parallel even 
in Ireland, carve out estates for themselves. 

In the meantime the Irish officials were not idle. 
Always before them was the desire of the Queen that 
the province of Munster might be re-peopled and 
inhabited with civil, loyal, and dutiful subjects. This 
had been partly accomplished at the Desmonds' 
expense. For the remainder they had conceived 
various devices calculated to give effect to the royal 
views. Circulars were scattered broadcast throughout 
England inviting younger sons of families to repair to 
Ireland and take up grants of land on somewhat 
similar terms to the undertakers, stress being laid on 
the prohibitions. 

One proposition, credited to Spenser, included the 


wholesale deportation of the natives of some of the 
best and most fertile districts to others rendered 
desolate by disorders and punitive expeditions, their 
places to be filled by Protestant immigrants. Beyond 
the unity of the family, this proposition recognised 
no more right or sentiment in the scheme of expatria- 
tion than is considered in the re-stocking of a grouse 

For manifest reasons, neither the proposed settle- 
ment by force of arms, had such been possible, nor 
the official projects, were received with favour by the 
non-official section of the Anglo-Irish community, 
some of them doubting if the island would be tran- 
quillised by the extermination of the aborigines, 
because the English who would replace them were 
men, for the most part, doing no good at home and 
likely to do worse in Ireland.^^ Later, after a depor- 
tation system had been partially carried out, its 
wisdom was doubted by capable judges. Their 
experience of the English — who had not, so far, settled 
well any part of the country lately acquired — 24 inclining 
them to question whether new districts would be well 

Before any of these schemes had got into working 
order, the Irish, exasperated beyond control and 
emboldened by the foreign difficulties of their enemies, 
had, in many cases, taken up arms. The same year 
that witnessed the defeat of the Spanish Armada saw 
the beginning of hostilities that, sporadic at first, 

'^'^ Treraayne's Letter. 
^ Pacata Hibernia^ 


gradually involved the whole country, led to an 
appalling waste of life and treasure, and lasted, with 
slight intermissions, well into the following century. 

The first to be affected by the hostilities — known to 
native writers as the fifteen years' war — were the 
undertakers. Forsaking their recently acquired estates 
and newly-built residences, many of them fled to 
England. However, they were not the greatest 
sufferers. They, in general, had lost that which, in 
justice, was never theirs and had cost but little to 
acquire. The worst sufferers were those settlers and 
workers, who, attracted by grants of land at merely 
nominal rents, had invested their all in stock and 
materials for agriculture and husbandry. So great 
were the losses of many of these unfortunates that 
from one port alone — Waterford — eighteen hundred of 
them returned to their original homes 25 to spread, no 
doubt, hatred and animosity against their late country 
and its native inhabitants. 

Decline of English Power.— As time progressed, 
matters grew from bad to worse with the English. So 
far from rooting out the natives there seemed every 
probability they themselves would be expelled from 
the island. Dark, indeed, must the prospect have 
been when, at a conference held at Faughart in 1596, 
the Queen's Government seriously proposed to make 
Dundalk — less than threescore miles from Dublin — 
the northern frontier of her dominions. Unfortu- 
nately, all overtures for a pacification were rejected 

25 Life of F. MacLarthy More. 


by the Irish ; and the opportunity of ages was lost for 
ever. The foreign outlook was not much more 
promising to the English either. Though weakened 
by the loss of the Armada, Spain had not relinquished 
the intention to humble her enemy. Another attempt 
to invade England was reported to be on foot, and, 
years before expectations were realised, rumours of an 
invasion of Ireland were in the air. 

A strenuous effort to end the Irish business was 
consequently made, and the great expedition of the 
Earl of Essex determined on. Within eight months 
Essex was a prisoner in England, and the Irish leader 
was dictating terms to the Royal Commissioners ! A 
still greater effort was seen to be necessary. With 
the advent of Lord Mount joy, military operations and 
negotiations were set on foot. Under cover of the 
latter the dropped threads of many an intrigue and 
feud were resumed. The most prominent opponents 
of the Crown eat and drank at the risk of sudden 
death. Forgery became one of the fine arts, seduction 
was elevated into a virtue,^^ and every artifice which 
wealth could further, or the diabolical cunning of 
Carew invent, was employed to remove or detach the 
Irish leaders, and sow dissension amongst their 
followers. Despite the profligacy of the means em- 
ployed the desired end was attained. All organised 
resistance collapsed, and the foreign danger was 
dispelled or postponed by the capture of the Spanish 
force at Kinsale. 

26 O'Sullivan. 


English officials, again in a position to enforce the 
traditional policy, manifested by their actions that 
half-measures would no longer be tolerated. 

Extermination. — The Irish were accustomed to 
spoil and wanton destruction ; they were now to 
experience its indiscriminate application. Lord Grey, 
when Deputy, had so devastated the vicinity of Armagh 
that the Queen was informed but little more was left 
for her to reign over than ashes and carcasses. 27 The 
Earl of Ormond in his expedition to the south had 
also wasted the land, until whole districts having to 
choose between starvation and the national cause, 
abandoned the latter. Tyrone, Desmond, and others, 
had likewise ravaged the lands of declared foes and 
doubtful friends alike; the two former in one expedition 
alone pillaging and destroying one hundred and 
eighty-five collections of farms and houses (termed 
towns) in the Barrymore country. Still, despite the 
simplicity and frequency of this mode of pacification 
it had not altogether proved permanently efficacious. 
The survivors had taken refuge with others less unfor- 
tunate, and the natural recuperative power of people 
and soil soon removed all traces of the process. 

To the poet Spenser — the sweet singer of pastoral 
joys and sylvan scenery — must be given the credit of 
advocating, in black and white, a method that 
thoroughly and extensively carried out would certainly 
have the effect of pacifying those subjected to it. The 
simple plan of creating famine and ensuring pestilence ; 
so that the people would greatly consume themselves 
27 Leland. 



and devour one another ! Spenser (whose memory as 
a landgrabber and oppressor is still execrated in the 
south) had frequent cause for strong feelings of resent- 
ment against the Irishry, and wrote without respon- 
sibility : but that English officials should seriously 
contemplate acting on the lines indicated by him 
would be inconceivable were it not that there is no 
incident in history of which clearer proof is forth- 

The execution was worthy of the plan, and English 
armies— or rather armies in English pay ; for even in 
this the Queen's Irish appear — as they went drove the 
whole country before them, and by that means they 
preyed and took all the cattle, horses, sheep, and goats, 
and destroyed the growing and garnered crops, so that, 
having no means of subsistence left, the people were 
driven to die by the sword, or perish from famine.^* 

Neither man, woman, nor child was spared. Cupidity 
was forgotten : corpses were preferred to great ran- 
soms. Obese wolves roamed unmolested where none 
but skeletons represented the nobler animal. The 
animal instinct to preserve life, and the maternal 
instinct to shield one's young, were both lost. Old and 
young voluntarily sought death. Mothers eat their 
offspring to avoid it. 

The authors and perpetrators of these atrocities 
were not required to excuse or justify them. To them, 
and their superiors, the Irish were rebels, and the 
doom which had overtaken them was the punishment for 
rebellion : rebellion which had been nearly successful. 
28 Lehnd. 


It must not be inferred that the attempts to 
Anglicise Ireland described in this chapter followed 
one another in chronological sequence, or were the 
results of a policy bequeathed by one Lord Deputy to 
another. Frequently these officials were powerless 
either to alter the old or originate a new policy. The 
treatment meted out to the Irish depended on the 
state of the foreign political barometer, and the vigour 
of their resistance at home. Intervals of toleration, 
even direct encouragement, alternated with periods of 
devastating war, and negotiations to gain time. But 
underlying both toleration and repression lay the 
main, and never forgotten, purpose of the Elizabethan 
governors of Ireland — to root out the Irish, appro- 
priate their lands, and people them with English or 
foreign Protestants. 


Amidst the countless events which constitute the 
life of a nation those in which the question of religion 
plays a part are the most inexplicable and difficult to 
assign reasons for. In the case of the Irish people, 
and the attempt to introduce the reformed doctrines, 
explanation becomes more than ordinarily difficult. 
Had the Irish persisted in the path entered upon in 
the early stages of the dispute, they would, like the 
neighbouring nations, have arrived at the goal of 
separation from Rome. For reasons which we purpose 
indicating, they resolutely retraced their steps, pro- 
ceeded in the opposite direction, and attained a height 
of doctrinal solidarity round which the waves of dissent 
have since beaten in vain. 

Although this national change of attitude took 
place above 300 years ago it still presents a more 
than academic interest. Some of the reasons for it 
still exist, and, as they have already influenced the 
history of the country, will, in all probability, continue 
to do so. 

It is customary to deny any retrograde movement 
on the part of the Irish ; or else to account for it by 
attributing to them a national and racial bias towards 
one form only of religious belief. Explanations, which 
betray ignorance of former Irish relations with Rome ; 
ignore the fact that as far as the majority of the nation 


were concerned it was the outward form only that was 
in dispute ; and are quite oblivious of the circumstance 
that other nations likewise experienced a counter 
reformation, though possibly not to the same degree. 
Explanations also that, designedly or ignorantly, tend 
to embitter a controversy that has raged for generations, 
and, like the maelstrom, attracted everything within its 
vortex with a power unknown to other disputes. 

In the 1 6th century continuous intercourse had kept 
alive common customs, speech, and ideas between the 
Gaels of Ireland and Scotland, They were practically 
the one people, changes due to a different environment 
not being then very marked. Yet the clans were easily 
moved to a change of ritual greater, in the case of their 
gloomy Calvinism, than the tolerant Episcopalianism 
which found its way into Ireland. The superstitious 
m3-sticism, held to be particularly an attribute of the 
Celtic character inclining them to Catholicism, has no 
where remained so free from outside influences as in 
Wales and Cornwall. Now, the measure of opposition 
to sacerdotalism in those parts is found in the purity 
of their descent from Celtic forefathers. 

Former Irish Relations with Rome.~How- 
ever willing we may be to admit to the fullest extent 
the authority claimed by ancient documents, or the 
factious appeals of mediaeval Irish prelates in conflict 
with the secular power, for the dependance upon Rome 
of the Irish Church, it is impossible to deny that 
Church had for centuries claimed independence in 
matters affecting ritual, and objected to one at least 
of the Five Articles, viz., " That Peter and Peter's 


successors . . . are supreme rulers in the Church." 
This claim had not been relinquished until just previous 
to the invasion, when the arrival of some monks of the 
Cistercian Order, as agents of the Papacy, led to the 
epochal Synod at Kells, and to the incorporation of 
the Irish with the Roman Church. At this period the 
Irish paid neither tithes nor first fruits, and religion 
was said to be nearly extinct.^ 

Next in point of time comes the Synod of Cashel, 
the proceedings at which certainly do not lend colour 
to the claim that the Irish Church was always the 
faithful daughter of Rome, otherwise the necessity for 
such articles as payment of tithes, freedom of Church 
possessions from exactions, clerical exemptions, and 
the partitioning estates of deceased persons, is not 
apparent. The decrees of this Synod (the summoning 
of which forms the first instance of the exercise in 
Ireland of supreme authority by an English monarch) 
partly proved a dead letter, for it was not until after 
the visit of Papal legates, in the opening year of the 
following century, that tithes were collected, and the 
relations between clergy and laity finally settled. 

From the Norman invasion to the Reformation 
period the Irish Church was in no sense national. It 
was a political Church, associated, as far as the higher 
ranks of the clergy were concerned, with Norman and 
English prelates, frequently non-resident. When they 
were resident in Ireland, these foreigners were usually 
men of experience in affairs, capable of taking part in, 
or wholly, administering the Kingdom; the strengthen- 

^ Nevin's Ireland, &c. 


ing of the government, rather than the spiritual welfare 
and ecclesiastical administration of the dioceses, being 
the purpose of their appointments. Politically expedient 
as this system was, it became, owing to each new comer 
being accompanied by numerous clerical proteges, all 
requiring to be provided for, a scandalous injustice to 
the native clergy, enabling the authorities to give effect 
to the Statute decreeing that Englishmen of good 
conversation and sufficiency were to be preferred to 
vacant benefices before Irishmen. Though this Statute 
remained unrepealed until the i6th century, Irishmen 
occasionally attained prelacies and the charge of con- 
ventual establishments, and not infrequently proceeded 
to exercise a similar discrimination in the bestowal of 
livings and benefices, as custom and law sanctioned, 
in the case of foreigners. The racial jealousy which 
naturally ensued may be inferred from the case of 
Mellifont, the most important abbey in Ireland, which 
at one time admitted no person unless he made oath 
he was not of English birth or descent.^ The Refor- 
mation produced but little, if any, alleviation in this 
system of differential treatment, for in the year 1537 
the new Defender of the Faith and dispenser of 
patronage, prohibited those using the Irish tongue 
from receiving preferment in the Church of which he 
was the head. As a result the Sees, when they were 
filled at all, were held by non-resident prelates, or 
were the subject of an arrangement between the Crown 
and the local chiefs or nobles.^ 

2 Cox. ^carew MSS. 


Though the degree of dependance of the Irish 
Church upon the Papacy may be matter of dispute, 
there can be no question that prior to the Reformation 
period the Irish in all matters of racial interest found 
the Popes on the side of England. Time after time 
Papal Bulls and exhortations counselled submission to 
the domination of an alien Government. To maintain 
that this counsel meant simply the acceptance of the 
suzerainty of the larger country, and not the abandon- 
ment of their nationality, is to ignore patent facts. 
Whilst to contend that it was in this light the Irish 
received the Papal monitions is to presume on the 
intelligence of the person addressed. To be historically 
accurate, the occasions when the Popes supported the 
Irish against the invaders or their descendants, began 
in the i6th century, and then only as a means towards 
recatholicising England. 

Other Factors. — Though under these circum- 
stances the Irish would have been justified in treating 
coldly Romish pretensions, in other matters they 
had less reason to be dissatisfied with the existing 
religious atmosphere than either of the sister countries. 
They had so far experienced nothing approximating 
to the Lollard movement, nor had the largely un- 
authenticated, though universally credited, stories of 
the long continued corruption, ignorance, and evil 
living of the clergy excited their hatred and contempt 
as in those countries. 

Nothing approaching the appalling immorality 
charged against the Scottish Cistercian Order in 
Cardinal Sermoneta's letter to Paul IV. (1536) has 


been, as far as can be ascertained, attributed to the Irish 
establishments of that Order, of which there were 
several. Instances where the domestic history of Irish 
religious houses have come down to us disclose that 
when they escaped becoming simply secular they 
became, though still retaining outward forms and 
ceremonies, practically irreligious. The same causes 
that prevented Ireland experiencing the differences 
of opinion and conflicts of authority, prevalent during 
the Catholic revival in the centuries immediately 
preceding the Reformation, also prevented her ex- 
periencing the unnatural strictness of life and conduct 
which found their expression in the rules of some 
religious orders. From their proximity and greater 
intercourse with the countries in which dissatisfaction 
with the doctrines and pretensions of Rome were most 
rampant, England and Scotland, again, were more 
likely to be affected than a country whose intercourse 
with the Continent was mainly through clerics and 
scholars, and principally with France and Spain. 
London, in particular, as its foreign intercourse was 
the greatest, was said to be more deeply infected with 
the principles of foreign reformers than the other cities. 
Independently of motives of personal aggrandisement, 
the facility with which the representative classes in 
England repeatedly transferred their allegiance from 
one head of the Church to another, could have no 
counterpart in Ireland. Circumstances were so entirely 
different. In England the personal influence of the 
Crown was at its highest, whereas in Ireland it was 
practically unknown. Had other circumstances been 


similar, that this factor would not have been without 
weight is presumable from the result of the visit of the 
first Earl of Tyrone, the Lords Desmond, O'Brien of 
Thomond, Clanricard, and Mc William to Henry VIII. 
in London. They returned to their country, highly 
gratified with the King, and well disposed towards his 
religion.* Later, as the dispute progressed, the political 
and dynastic considerations which produced the 
enthusiasm for Queen Elizabeth personally, had no 
effect upon the chiefs and friars by whom the Irish 
were led. Other considerations over-shadowed them. 
The royal influence, such as it was, vanished, and 
beyond the Pale probably was never mentioned, or 
regarded as an inducement to accept the State form 
of religion. As a matter of fact, the sovereignty of 
Ireland was offered to both French and Spanish 
monarchs during her reign. 

If the absence of royal influence militated against 
the introduction of the reformed principles, the want of 
a commanding personality was also felt. Ireland has 
never produced a religious reformer of any mark. 
Looking to the character of her people it would be 
safe to predict that an Irish Luther, Calvin, or Knox, 
would have exercised an influence greater than that 
exercised in their respective countries by these leaders. 

Partly owing to its dependance upon England, and 
partly to its comparatively unknown language, Ireland, 
previous to the promulgation of the Act of Supremacy, 
received but little assistance in the religious dispute 
from a source whence other countries derived con- 

* O'DriscoU. 


siderable. Nearly all the current polemical literature 
was in English or Latin, had been imported by 
Catholics, and advocated the pretensions of the 
Papacy. Various devices were necessarily resorted 
to, to obtain admittance for such as was current. One 
consignment arrived in barrels purporting to contain 
salted fish. Another, the translation of a Spanish 
catechism, waited for five years before an opportunity 
for landing it occurred. 

The vicissitudes marking the circulation of the 
Bible and Testament in England naturally affected 
their dissemination in Ireland. After a period of 
toleration their circulation was forbidden. Again 
tolerated, they were again still more strictly suppressed. 
Finally, in Elizabeth's reign, all restrictions were 
removed. In the year 1550, an effort was made to 
provide the Irish with copies of the Scriptures and the 
English service book in Gaelic, but the instructions 
were not carried out. Twenty-years later, type in the 
Gaelic character was supplied by order of the Queen 
for the same purpose, but was used to print a 
catechism and religious poem only. Ten years later 
still, the Catholics issued a version of the New 
Testament in the native vernacular, but no trace can 
be found of its circulation in Ireland, whereas a small 
catechism printed at Louvain had a fair circulation. 
The statement of the Irish Prelates in the petition to 
the Pope, that heretical books to poison the minds of 
the multitude had been circulated, refers probably to 
the dissemination among the townsmen of the works 
of the Protestant Bishop of Ossory, or a Lutheran 


translation of the New Testament current in England 
for years before any attempt to make it known in the 
sister country was made ; for it was only in the year 
1592 that William Kearney, by order of the Privy 
Council, printed and issued an Irish Testament. 

Ecclesiastical Properties. — Though thus 
differing in many respects from countries in which 
the new ideas had taken firm root, in so far as they 
appealed to the cupidity of her ruling classes, Ireland 
offered an easier, if not as lucrative, a field ot 

In addition to the usual Sees and prebends scattered 
throughout the country, there were between six and 
seven hundred monastic and collegiate establishments 
having endowments or properties of some sort. Many 
of them dated from pre-invasion times, others were 
due to the liberality of the Norman-Gaelic nobles- 
About one-third belonged to the Austin Friars, with 
the Cistercians next in ownership. All the Sees had 
lands appropriated for their support, and some of the 
cathedrals and monasteries had large accumulations 
of portable property. The bells, chalices, and plate 
of one, was said to have been worth seven thousand 
pounds ; an immense sum for the country and period. 

That the opportunities for plunder afforded by the 
clouding of the ecclesiastical horizon were not neglected 
is admitted, for before even the Act of Supremacy gave 
a quasi-legal pretext, instances had occurred where 
temporalities had been seized with the connivance of 
the civil authorities, and retained in defiance of 
ex -communications from Rome. The majority of the 


territorial magnates, landed proprietors, and officials, 
Irish and Anglo-Irish, taking advantage of the 
prevalent confusion, had seized ecclesiastical lands or 
merged them In secular properties, and appropriated 
the revenues. Others, according to the recognised 
methods, had openly obtained, grants of church 
properties. In some districts churches and ministers 
had disappeared, and the provision made for their 
maintenance appropriated or wasted. In others again, 
the tithe or glebe lands had been farmed out, and the 
stipends remaining to the clergy were too small for 
bare subsistence. 

When not actually participators in the plunder, 
the clergy frequently used the opportunity for their 
personal benefit. One abbot, foreseeing the coming 
storm, made a great parade of surrendering the 
property of his abbey to the King, and was rewarded 
with a bishopric. The first Protestant Archbishop 
was strenuous In persuading an Irish Parliament to 
grant the King the twentieths of the revenues and 
annual rents of secular livings, abbeys, and religious 

Resulting from these spoliations, not from the 
change in religious supremacy alone, the ownership 
of church lands was often concealed, and it became a 
common speculation to obtain patents for the grant of 
such lands upon discovering them. Yet, instances 
were not infrequent, of religious houses enjoying their 
revenues and privileges for some time after the 
Reformation ; more particularly In the north where, 
owing to the slender hold of the English on the 


districts of Tyrone, Tyrconnell, and Fermanagh, some 
houses escaped confiscation until the end of the 
century.^ Later still, it was alleged, there were six- 
teen monasteries and their occupants still existing in 
Ulster, and in the year 1617 a perpetual chantry in 
the County Meath was found in the possession of land. 

Condition of Religion.— The Elizabethan Irish 
professed the Christian faith of a spirit and form much 
anterior to that of their period. Among the lower 
orders some ancient paganistic practices and customs 
had not been entirely eradicated. Others, had been 
grafted on to the purer faith which succeeded 
paganism. Consequently, their religion may be said 
to have differed from that of the Latin nations to the 
extent their former heathenism varied from that in 
vogue amongst those nations. The educated classes 
professed a Catholicism reminiscent of the previous 
century ; free from the cruel and blood-thirsty intoler- 
ance of counter reformation bigotry, but untouched by 
the freedom of thought the renaissance of art and 
learning let loose in Europe. 

Where all the Irish more particularly differed from 
contemporary peoples was, in their unbounded belief 
in, and reliance upon, prophecies. Learning did not 
hesitate to devise, nor ecclesiastical authority to 
expedite, the propagation of prophecies irreconcilable 
with the teachings of Christianity, but eminently 
calculated to mislead a people nationally inclined to 
belief in the supernatural. 

The state of spiritual destitution in which the greater 

5 Sir J. Davis. 


portion of the people existed, now appears incredible. 
The secular clergy were few and far between, and 
more often than not a reproach and a byeword for 
neglect. The great nnonastic establishments had 
absorbed nearly the whole of the church property and 
endowments left untouched by the laity, as well as 
the functions of the secular clergy. Becoming 
unwilling, in time, to attend to the religious care and 
instruction of the people themselves, they had rendered 
the existence of any parish clergy a matter of 
difficulty, and the duration of the edifices in which 
they should have ministered a matter of time, not 
remote. Consequently no parochial organisation was 
in force. In the majority of districts, parish priests 
did not exist, and where they did, had nothing to live 
upon but the offerings or altarages of their flocks. 

Religious education and the conduct of divine 
worship, except amongst the retinues and families of 
chiefs and nobles, was in the hands of the Mendicant 
friars. In fastnesses and inaccessible bogs these begging 
friars, similar in habits and origin to the bulk of those 
they ministered to, were the only religious pastors and 
masters of the i6th century Irishry. Little better than 
outcasts themselves they still maintained in their own 
rude way the feeble spirit of religion, ^ and to them, 
and them only, were the mass of the people indebted 
for religious consolation and offices at the great 
epochs of life. Need we wonder, that Englishmen 
accustomed to the regular parochial system of their own 
country stood aghast at the religious destitution they 

« Carew MSS. 


encountered in Ireland, and doubted if even the 
ceremony of baptism was known to the lower orders of 
its inhabitants. 

It is difficult when considering the facts of every 
day life in Elizabethan Ireland not to entertain a doubt 
whether the national faith had then succeeded in 
influencing the national temperament. The absence of 
the religious element, afterwards so apparent in the 
national life and history, is particularly noticeable. 
Invocations to the Virgin Mary and Saints are met 
with, and references to persecutions and the religious 
dispute, common enough, become more so towards the 
end of the century, but the introduction of religion as 
a fundamental constituent in the national character 
was the result of circumstances yet undreamt of 

Irish Participation in the Dispute.— Thus 
situated with regard to religion and its accessories, 
there is nothing surprising in the statement that before 
the political pressure in Elizabeth's reign became acute, 
not only was there no appearance, among the Irish, of 
the religious fervour, afterwards so prevalent, but 
most Irishmen of eminence, and the majority of the 
classes whose opinions and doings were of sufficient 
importance to be recorded, appeared inclined to follow 
the English lead by subscribing to the submissions 
and engagements renouncing the Papal and recog- 
nising the royal supremacy. Moreover, for several 
years after the dates of these documents, a tendency 
to agree with their object and intentions, as well as 
a toleration of the reformed principles, could be 
detected amongst the superior classes. There were 


exceptions of course. The most notable, the Arch- 
bishop of Armagh, and the clergy amenable to 
his jurisdiction. But of such slight importance 
was their action considered, that no notice was 
taken of it, and the Archbishop died in the possession 
of his See. 

From 1535, when the earliest "Engagements" to 
resist papal pretensions occur, until the last decade 
of the century, there is an unending record of nobles, 
chiefs, and towns, renouncing the spiritual and 
recognising the temporal supremacy; promising to 
refrain from countenancing Romish bishops or priests;'' 
maintain the official church, and further the contents 
of the official book of common prayer. In one 
*' Engagement " of this year, the names of two of the 
great Butler family, the Earl of Ossory, and Sir. 
James Butler, are found. Still more conclusive is an 
Indenture of the year 1542, given at length in the 
Carew MSS., wherein the leading nobles and chiefs 
of the Province of Munster repeat the admission of 
supremacy, and agree to annihilate the usurped primacy 
of the Bishop of Rome. Parliamentary acquiesence 
was not wanting also. Though the proceedings of 
the Parliament of 1536 are not quoted, on the 
ground of its non-representative composition, beyond 
mentioning that they support the general tendency, 
the same reason does not apply to that of 1556. 
This, though willing to reappropriate the ecclesiastical 
revenues rejected by Queen Mary, declined to restore 
lands granted to, or annexed by, individuals. 

7 Carew MSS., MacGeohegan. 



One instance of individual agreement is well worth 
noticing. Gerald, Earl of Desmond, in the course ot 
one of his frequent arrangements with the Lord Deputy 
and Council, when admitting " that as to the furtherance 
of religion in Munster, though he had no knowledge 
in learning and was ignorant of what was to be done 
in that behalf," agreed, " to aid and maintain whatever 
was appointed by commissioners named for the 
purpose." ^ Though this display of ignorance was 
probably an evasion, the Earls' readiness to conform 
to the government standard betrays an openness of 
mind in s.trong contrast to the fanaticism displayed by a 
successor in the title. 

Catholic writers admit that after the death of Shane 
O'Neill, the reformed docrines began to take root in 
Ireland. Though O'Neill's own orthodoxy was not 
considered beyond question until he had burnt down 
the Protestant church in Armagh,* he was the militant 
champion of Romanisn, and this admission really 
means that the new doctrines on his removal asserted 
themselves in the districts he had before controlled, 
either personally or through sub-chiefs. Of another 
chief of the O'Neills and Catholic leader, Hugh, the 
great Earl of Tyrone, a personal friend wrote, " True 
it is he is affected that way (to Romanism), but less 
hurtful and dangerous than some of the greatest in 
the English Pale, for when he is with the State he 
will accompany the Lord Deputy to the Church and 
home again, and will stay and hear service and 
sermon." ^^ 

8 Taaffe. » O'Driscoll. ^° Captain Lee. 


Indications of the spirit which at first actuated the 
Towns may be found in the fact that many of the 
most important, including Limerick and Galway 
(afterwards so well known for their steadfast adherence 
to the prescribed faith), took the oath of supremacy 
and renounced the Papal authority. Of all instances 
of toleration the most fraught with meaning is, that 
after the renewal of the Heresy Acts by Queen Mary, 
many English Protestant families took refuge in Irish 
towns, and there practised a ritual and professed 
opinions that in their native places would probably 
have consigned them to the stake. Creditable to the 
towns concerned as this spirit of toleration was, it is 
more indicative of sympathy with the views of the 
fugitives than of endurance by one sect of the heresies 
of another. 

The position taken up by those Catholic clergy of 
the new Irish party who adhered to the English 
interest was, that they considered it lawful to assist 
the Queen, even though in so doing they acted in 
opposition to their co-religionists. This attitude 
appeared so irreconcilable with the actualities of the 
situation, that the matter was referred to the Pope. 
In reply, the Royalist clergy were commanded not 
only to abstain from opposing the Irish chiefs but to 
assist them. A decision said to have been obtained 
by false representations, and on this ground referred 
to the Spanish Universities. By them the Pope's 
decision was supported and republished. 

Foreign Influences. — Interested in preventing 
the secession of the Irish were the Powers still in 


communion with Rome, the Vatican itself, and the 
native Romanist hierarchy. 

Spain may be regarded as representing the Powers. 
She promised much, but the performance (excluding 
sundry munificent gifts of money) was not propor- 
tionate to her immense resources, and amounted to 
the despatch at intervals of ships with ammunition 
and ecclesiastics, and several expeditions. These 
varied in numbers from the small ill-fated one at 
Smerwick, to the comparatively large force which 
landed at Kinsale. All were badly conceived, ill- 
found, and worse managed. 

The action of the Vatican in some respects was 
equally ineffective. In fulfilment of promises of 
money, ships, and men, made to the Confederates, a 
force of about one thousand men (brigands who had 
previously pestered Italy^^ and been pardoned on condi- 
tion of serving in the expedition) was despatched under 
the leadership of the notorious Thomas Stukeley. 
Instead of proceeding straight to Ireland, Stukeley 
joined the Portugese in an African expedition, in which 
he and the majority of his men were killed ; the 
remainder reached Ireland and perished at Smerwick 
or during Fitzmaurice's operations. In addition to 
material assistance of this nature, the Irish themselves 
were incited to take up arms by promises of absolution 
to those who actually did so, and their posterity to 
the third generation. ^^ At the same time the newly- 

1^ O'SuUivan Bearc. 

i^Taaffc, Letter fro77i Rome ^ 1580. 


founded colleges in the Peninsula were, in conjunction 
with the College of Valladolid, moved to issue a 
decree, " that any Irish Catholic joining the standard 
of an heretical and excommunicated Queen incurred 
the everlasting penalties of mortal sin." That 
despite promises and threats, there must have 
remained some trimmers and lukewarm partisans 
is evident from a communication by the Roman 
Catholic Bishop of Cork and Vicar Apostolic to Lord 
Barrymore, when the Spaniards were at Kinsale, that 
he had received an excommunication from the Pope 
against all those who abstained from joining the 
Catholic action. 

No doubt, the political schemes in which the 
Popes were engaged would, had the expected results 
been attained, have effected advantageous diversions 
in favour of the Irish. Nevertheless the fact 
remains that in these schemes the Irish were 
but pawns in a game in which their interests were 
subordinated to other and more congenial ones. 

Characteristically prone as the Irish were to look 
with suspicion upon anything emanating from English 
sources, references by native clerics to the divisions 
in the Church usually took the form of appeals to this 
feeling. Early in the dispute rumours were circulated 
that a new heresy, the effect of pride, vain glory, 
avarice, desire, &c., had broken out in England ; that 
in the course of it the heretics had ruined the Orders 
holding worldly possessions, and their property had 
been seized by the King.^^ Later, it was asserted the 

^^ O'Leary, from The Four Masters. 


schism was really an attempt to impugn the chastity 
of the Virgin Mary. Appeals to the prejudices of the 
people, in the form of information concerning the 
Queen's birth and legitimacy ; comments upon the 
law making any natural issue of her's lawful heir to 
the throne ; and, most effective weapon of all, copies 
of the Bull of Pius V. excommunicating the Queen, 
were extensively circulated. A proof of Irish ignorance 
concerning, and unfamiliarity with, Papal Bulls may 
be gathered from this being considered sacrosanct, 
and used to administer oaths upon.^* 

Whatever the effect upon the lower orders of these 
unusual polemical arguments may have been, the 
Romanist clerics did not rely upon them alone v/ith 
the classes. To influence these, they stimulated 
or created an attitude of hostility towards any Govern- 
mental measures that by a process of distortion or 
perversion could be considered to menace their 
privileges or properties. Not omitting at the same 
time to picture in strong relief the favourable situation, 
shown in the popular distrust, for harassing a Govern- 
ment now branded with the epithet of heretical. 

Foreign Clerics. — Though the truth of the remark 
that nationalism, in the modern conception of the 
term, was unknown to the Elizabethan Irish cannot be 
denied, that they possessed a large measure of local 
and racial feeling is indisputable. They were, as a 
matter of fact, intensely clannish. The expansion of 
this local into national feeling was possible; and 
religion, if anything, was capable of effecting it. Yet, 

" Life of F. MacCarihy More. 


in the matter of spiritual direction, both Rome and 
London appear to have missed realising the possibilities 
latent in a recognition of this exclusiveness. A want 
of perception which eventually cost both dearly. 

At periods when the necessity for the best of the 
native clergy to be in spiritual charge of their country- 
men was not so evident, the Vatican had not hesitated 
to compel the return to Ireland, from the Continent, 
of Irish clerics holding prelacies or filling University 
chairs. Nevertheless, at the height of the struggle, 
when the Continent sheltered a sufficient number of 
eminent Irishmen to fill all their native Sees, a Spaniard 
was appointed Archbishop of Dublin, and the conduct 
of affairs, and management of intrigues, entrusted to 
English and Spanish clerics. As a result, incalculable 
harm was done the Catholic cause. To take one 
instance only, Desmond's rebellion was said to have 
failed principally because the management of it was 
entrusted to foreigners. 

The efforts, such as they were, of the other side were 
in no whit more happily directed. Able and eloquent 
preachers, English and Scotch, were selected, and — 
lacking the gift of tongues — sent on their mission. 
Ignorant of the language ; strangers to the manners 
and habits of the people ; and unprovided with the 
necessary literature ; their mission naturally proved a 

So evident was the futility of despatching only 
English-speaking clerics into the Irish-speaking dis- 
tricts, that Lord Deputy Sidney protested against it, 
but without effect. The practice was continued until, 


as in the case of Bishop Daly (appointed to the See ol 
Kildare), it became a subject of special reference when 
any of the Queen's clerical nominees were able to use 
the native tongue. 

Had the absence of linguistic capacity been the 
only objection to the official clergy the matter would 
probably have attracted less attention. But the 
glaring unsuitability in character and previous pur- 
suits of many selected ministers is beyond belief. 
Horse boys, and menials ; any man of bad repute pro- 
vided only that he was an Englishman, were, it is said, 
preferred before natives eligible in every respect. In 
several instances the only discernible qualification for 
appointment to bishoprics and other dignities was that 
the new incumbents were Protestants. A trio of 
bishops, Lyon, Sheehan, and Dixon, appointed at this 
period, are still considered to have been the worst 
men ever raised to the episcopal dignity in Ireland. 
Against the scandal of these and similar unsuitable 
appointments Lord Deputy Perrott also protested. 
As usual in vain. 

Official Methods.— Had the Ministers of the 
Crown been sincerely desirous of compelling or per- 
suading the Irish to conform to the new ecclesiastical 
system, they had at their disposal in the influence and 
example of the popular leaders a power fraught with 
immense possibilities of obtaining their object. They 
knew that every sentiment dominating the people 
would incline them to follow the lead or bow to the 
influence of these leaders, and that in any event their 
conformity would do far more than scores of official 


orders and enactments. At first this course appears 
to have commended itself to the ruling powers. Later 
it fell into disfavour, and opportunities were neglected 
or subordinated to the exigencies of official adminis- 

The Earl of Desmond, whose harsh treatment has 
been already described, owed his release to a promised 
compliance with, among others, the usual condition of 
substituting the royal for the papal supremacy. The 
breach of faith in rearresting him was therefore calcu- 
lated to, at least, afford a pretext for evading this 
condition. Among other instances where political 
ends were preferred to religious conformity we find 
Shane O'Neill after his visit to the Queen, returned 
to Ireland in great favour. So far from inducing him 
to promote- the Protestant movement, it was intimated 
he would be allowed to nominate the Primate. A 
proceeding equivalent to the suppression of that cause 
in the north. Probably to some secret arrangement 
of this nature was due the appointment of Miler 
Magrath (foster ? brother to Shane) as Protestant 
Archbishop of Cashel. An appointment that dis- 
credited the Protestant hierarchy more than any other 
selection during the Queen's reign. Lord Fitzwilliam, 
when Deputy, was instructed to inform the Earls of 
Clanricard and Desmond that if they would acknow- 
ledge their obedience as in former times, they might 
have their own way in other matters, i.e., religion. 
The most convincing instance of the subordination of 
the religious to the political question occurred when 
the Queen was willing to dispense with the oath of 


supremacy from the inhabitants of the Pale. Culpably 
neglectful though ministers had been in these instances, 
in their scornful rejection of the claims of chiefs and 
nobles to be considered in the final distribution of 
ecclesiastical properties they threw away another 
means of compelling or obtaining uniformity. Some of 
them had already received or appropriated Church pro- 
perties no doubt, but this did not lessen their resentment 
when the bulk of the spoil passed into the hands of 
English officials and settlers. 

The same lack of political insight was observable in 
the ordinary administrative measures. Provincial 
authorities, when taking up their appointments, were 
instructed — in the diction of pre-reformation days — 
to maintain the rights of holy Church, defend its 
ministers, and keep in order its places of worship. 
Though there could be no doubt as to which Church 
was meant, the disgraceful condition of many 
nominally Protestant churches testified to some free- 
dom of construction. They were also instructed to 
procure the recognition of the Sovereign as head of the 
Church ; to continue the suppression of Romanist 
establishments and the creation of Protestant free 
schools ; and were empowered to compel attendance at 
the reformed services and the new schools, by the 
enforcement of penalties for non-compliance. 

Whatever effect these measures may have produced 
in the towns, to the native Irish they were simply 
provocative. They knew neither English language 
nor law. Nor could they possibly attend services and 
schools, existent only in official documents. In brief, 


whether intended to counteract Romish intrigues or 
faciUtate conversion, the means employed were equally- 
useless, justifying the assertion, they were contrived 
merely to satisfy the Queen and her English advisers. 
Religious Persecution.— When forming an 
opinion upon the much vexed question of religious 
persecutions said to have occurred during the Eliza- 
bethan period, it is advisable to keep before us, that 
much now termed a matter of conscience, was then 
considered pohtical ; and a great deal now dealt with 
by criminal law, was then within the cognisance of 
ecclesiastical courts only. Moreover, toleration in 
religious affairs, as we now understand the term, was a 
thing then unknown. To in any way countenance a 
difference in religious opinions, whether they were of 
Rome or Geneva, was alike with compounding a felony. 
It was a crime in itself. In the case of the Elizabethan 
Irishry, though we may be morally certain that had 
not the Royal Ministers been confronted with a series 
of rebellions Romanism would have been stamped out 
by cruel and arbitrary measures proof that such 
measures were employed, to the extent alleged, is far 
from convincing. Several cases, where it was said the 
victims suffered for performing priestly functions 
refusing to take the oath of supremacy, or belonging 
to conventual establishments; cases which imply 
undue severity, or by their nature stand apart from 
political offences ; have in the recording become so 
interlarded with fabulous details as to seriously 
diminish their value as evidence. There is furthermore 
the improbability, if any widely spread or severe per- 


secution had taken place that when, by the fortune of 
war, Protestants fell into Catholic hands the latter 
would not have retaliated. That they did not is 
certain, otherwise the statement that during the i6th 
century the Irish Roman Catholics were the only sect 
that resumed power without exercising vengeance 
would not have passed unchallenged. Finally, the 
conduct of the Irish troops, even when intoxicated 
with success, shows no trace of the savage bitterness 
imported into the struggle some forty years later. 

An admission by the Catholics of the Queen's 
party, made subsequent to the outbreak of general 
hostilities, that there was no persecution of priests at 
that time, while supporting the fact of persecutions 
reduces considerably the period during which the 
occurred. That several Bishops and priests were put 
to death, some during, and others in retaliation for, 
the incessant insurrections attributed to the intrigues 
of Rome is undeniable. On the other hand the per- 
secution of laymen, mentioned in the Catholic history 
usually amounted to enforced attendance at reformed 
services, and the payment of fees. A form of com- 
pulsion ; taken in conjunction with the unusually light 
punishments inflicted on Catholics for beating new 
ministers and perpetrating minor sacrileges ; going far 
to prove that until the struggle between the two 
supremacies was aggravated by political differences 
the Island enjoyed a fair measure of religious freedom. 
Beyond the towns the professed faith of the mass of 
the people being but little interfered with. 

The Baltinglass rebellion, with its tragic sequel, was 


said to have been caused by the harsh enforcement of 
the laws against Catholics. An assertion deriving 
support from the leaders taking refuge in Spain. 
But these leaders — with one exception (O' Byrne) 
Norman-Gaelic, or Anglo- Irish, from the Pale and its 
borders — had been engaged some years previously 
in seditious opposition to Sidney's taxation scheme- 
A circumstance calculated to cast suspicion upon the 
probability of dissatisfaction with developments of a 
religious nature being the sole cause of the revolt. 

Final Attitude of the Irish.— The contention 
so often advanced that a position of hostility towards 
any ecclesiastical change characterised the Irish 
throughout the dispute is not tenable. Too many 
interests and questions were involved in the acceptance 
or rejection of a change in the ecclesiastical supremacy 
to permit a decided and permanent attitude being 
observed from the commencement. Naturally, there 
was considerable wavering and many changes, some 
lasting, others transient. The compass and effect of 
these defections and vacillations amongst the leaders 
particularly (their action and that of the towns being 
capable of direct proof) will be perceived from a series 
of comparisons. 

Contrast the terms of the numerously - signed 
Engagements of 1535 and 1542, and the submissions 
subscribed later by divers chiefs, with the principal 
article in the conditions of peace repeatedly tendered 
to the English Commissioners by the great Earl of 
Tyrone — he who was so little of a bigot as to stay 
and hear service and sermon — viz., that there should 


be no other religion throughout the kingdom of 
Ireland but the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman. In 
1 599 another condition was added to the effect, that the 
Church properties, since the commencement of heresy 
and schism, annexed to the King's demesnes should 
be restored to the Church, as well by the Queen 
herself as by the individuals who possessed them. 
Compare the number and names of the signatories to 
the different Engagements and Submissions with the 
fact that after the Queen's death six only of the 
twenty-five Irish temporal peers were Protestants. 
Compare further the latitudinarianism of that Earl 
of Desmond, who prided himself on his theological 
ignorance, with the spirit and matter of his successor's 
communication to the King of Spain, " I have reclaimed 
all the nobility of this part of Ireland (south and 
south-west) under the dutiful obedience of Christ's 
Church." There could be no reclamation without 
a previous loss, and the extent of that loss is 
furnished by the documents already quoted. 

Beyond indicating the revulsion of feeling that did 
take place, these comparisons are too general and 
pronounced not to be attributable to some clearly 
discernible cause. That cause was the inaptitude, 
politically and socially, of the greater part of the 
country when the contemplated change was attempted. 
The elementary condition that internal peace, resulting 
from a settled and universally accepted form of 
Government, should precede or accompany drastic 
changes in the ecclesiastical system had been 
disregarded from the first. Later, maladministration 


of domestic affairs resulted in the exploitation of 
religious differences. The Queen's Ministers en- 
deavoured to prosecute, simultaneously, a policy of 
conversion, and a system of extermination ; the 
former perfunctorily, the latter determinedly. To 
ensure the Irish becoming orthodox in this world, 
they hurried them into the next. To instil sen- 
timents of charity and fraternity, they practised 
confiscation and oppression. 

Before Protestantism reached the Irish, as a religious 
force it was spent ; had degenerated into a political 
movement, and as such became synonymous with 
English statecraft. This, by alarming the Irish, 
produced in its turn a general atmosphere of racial 
distrust. Between ordinary communities this feeling 
would have retarded the spread from one to another 
of vital changes in the form of religious observances. 
But in the case of a long-memoried and unchangeable 
people like the Irish, its acceptance was rendered 


The closing years of the i6th century saw Ireland 
in the throes of a struggle, the immense importance 
of which few now realise. The Irish confederates 
embarked on the conflict with a fair prospect of 
success. They emerged from it defeated and subju- 

Not the least of the advantages formerly resulting 
from the victorious prosecution of a war was, that the 
victors version of the occurrences was that usually 
accepted by the world at large : the defeated being 
seldom in a position to make themselves heard. In 
the case of the Elizabethan Irish, this was particularly 
the case. One of the results of their defeat being the 
interdiction of their language and literature. So that 
their records ; of years of heroic efforts and incredible 
sufferings ; of victories gallantly gained and defeats 
stubbornly borne; have either remained practically 
unknown, or are deemed unworthy of credit when 
alluded to. 

The principal histories, in a literary sense, of the 
Elizabethan wars — in the language now common to 
the descendants of both combatants— have, naturall)^ 
emanated from the victorious side. Some of them are 
merely pegs upon which to hang a literary reputation. 
Of others. Irishmen may complain that animated b}' 
racial and religious antipathies the writers have 


not only defamed the dead, but provided means 
to insult the living. The Irish versions of the events 
so partially portrayed were either in Latin, or the still 
less accessible Gaelic. The few persons familiar with 
them, or their translations, had neither encouragement 
nor desire to make them public. Consequently, they 
have been considered, to say the least, apocryphal. 
That phase has passed and gone. Now, these histories 
are being read with ever increasing interest by a people 
proud to find, in the language appealing most strongly 
to their religious susceptibilities, or that enshrining 
their nascent feelings of nationality, they possess 
undoubted proofs that the great military qualities they 
have been vaguely conscious of are part and parcel 
of the national heritage. 

Voltaire's remark, that the Irish, who showed them- 
selves the bravest soldiers in France and Spain, have 
always behaved shamefully at home, epigrammatically 
expresses an opinion generally entertained. For the 
first half of his assertion, Voltaire was indebted to the 
letters of his friend D' Argenson. For the latter, to the 
misrepresentations which had obtained currency 
through the means we have indicated. In this matter 
also Lord Macaulay stands out a great, if not the 
greatest, offender. Not content with alleging the Irish 
troops displayed cowardice in the campaigns against 
his hero, King William, he insults the whole nation by 
insinuating this was a national defect. Now Macaulay 
professed to be well acquainted with the events of the 
period immediately preceding the Revolution, and 
therefore knew, that badly armed, worse organised, 



and under indifferent leaders, the fathers of the men 
whom he brands with cowardice had offered a relatively 
better resistance to Cromwell's veterans than the 
Cavaliers or Lowland Scots. And that the brothers 
and cousins of these cowardly Irish papists were at 
that very time gaining renown in the armies of Spain 
and Austria. 

Assisting, and in a manner giving colour to, the 
formation and perpetuation of the inaccuracies 
regarding Irish military capacity and exploits are the 
circumstances that previous to the Elizabethan wars 
the Irish were considered mere foreign auxiliaries, and 
as such received scant if any mention, and since then, 
as fractions of English or British forces their nationality 
has been sunk in those appellations. A similar fate 
has pursued Irish mercenaries in foreign armies. For 
with one or two notable exceptions their exploits have 
usually been merged in the achievements of the nations 
whose flags they fought under, and not attributed to 
them distinctively. 

Employment of Irish Soldiers. — Since Crecy, 
where six thousand Irish footmen were present, ^ the 
Irish have uninterruptedly fought under the banners 
of England. Allusions to them in mediaeval narratives 
are not frequent, but from the general compliance by 
the Norman — Gaelic nobles with the King's orders to 
attend with their levies, there is no doubt that most, if 
not all, English armies contained contingents from the 
Irish estates of those nobles. During the wars of the 
Roses, the Irish and Norman- Irish nobles, when they 

* Graces Annal" 


took sides at all, were most frequently Yorkists, and 
suffered severely in consequence. Later, they were 
involved in the attempts of the pretenders Simnel and 
Warbeck. The momentary gleam of success which 
dazzled the first named impostor on the fatal day at 
Newark being mainly due to the valour of two thousand 
Irish among his supporters. 

At the siege of Boulogne, Henry VIII. in recogni- 
tion of the gallantry of Lord Kingsale's regiment of 
Irish, conferred knighthood on their leader.^ During 
this Henry's reign, a number of Kerne were also 
sent to England, and eleven hundred of them dis- 
patched to the north, where they subsequently formed 
part of the brigade of Irish troops in the force 
which, in the following reign, defeated the Scotch at 

In the orders of the Privy Council for cessing of 
Irish Kerne for service in the Low Countries, we have 
indirect testimony to their worth. Whilst in the 
evidence of military men, who, as antagonists or 
comrades were qualified to speak from experience, we 
have the most direct proofs obtainable. Other 
testimony is that of writers recording their own 
observations or retailing information derived from 
military men. In either case a class of witness not 
likely to err in the direction of excessive appreciation ; 
" I have heard some great warriors say that in all the 
services which they had seen abroad in foreign 
countries they never saw a more comely man than the 
Irishman, nor that comes on more bravely to his 

2 De Courcy. 


charge. One both vigilant and circumspect in enter- 
prises, very present in perils, and great scorners of 
death." ^ Delighted with wars, good soldiers, well 
armed, and in blood ; ^ a rather cryptic opinion. The 
next is plain enough. In these parts (Carlow) live 
great numbers of Cavenaghs, good soldiers and 
famous horsemen.^ Sir W. Stanley, writing to the 
Earl of Leicester of the affair at Zutphen, mentions 
the good behaviour of his Kernes. Sir W. Raleigh, 
in a " Discourse touching on war with Spain," admits 
that the Irish in the last war were victorious with an 
equal or even an inferior force. The Earl of Essex 
(no mean authority) writing to the Queen acknow- 
ledged the Irish were stronger and handled their 
weapons wth more skill than the English. One of 
his officers, Captain Osborne, warns a correspondent 
in 1599 that though they said in England the Irish 
were but naked rogues, they found them as good and 
better men than those sent from England. Lord 
Mountjoy — the greatest opponent the Elizabethan 
Irish had to contend against — confessed there were 
many examples, that when the enemy (the Irish) sally 
out with two or three thousand men they have defeated 
armies that have been treble their numbers. Some 
years later. Sir W. St. Leger, Sergeant Major-General 
of the army in Ireland, referring to his inspection of 
nine thousand Irish raised to serve against the 
Scotch, reports, that they displayed much willingness 
and aptness in learning their exercises "and that 
mettle and gallant appearance that, considering how 

' Spenser. * Stanihurst. • Camden. 


newly they have been raised, no Prince had for their 
number a better or more orderly body of men in his 

About 1587 the Irish, forming one of the four 
nations of which the Spanish armies on the Continent 
consisted, were particularly distinguished. Amongst 
other instances, in the attack on Enghel, they were 
said, though young soldiers, to have displayed the 
steadiness of veterans combined with a spirit of 
gallantry not surpassed, if equalled, by the other troops 

As was only to be expected from the national 
character, it is of Irish soldiers in attack commen- 
datory remarks most often occur. That they were no 
mean foes when on the defensive likewise, was proved 
on numerous occasions during the i6th century. 
When appraising their value as defenders it is necessary 
to recollect, the reduction or capitulation of a fortified 
place or work in their own country invariably meant 
the execution of the Irish garrison, so that desperation 
may possibly have lent courage to the defence. Abroad, 
this inducement to a resistance to the bitter end was 
seldom present. During the defence of Louvain 
against the French and Dutch, a great compliment 
was paid Preston's Irish when the German commander 
concluded an address by beseeching his men to prove 
to the enemy, as well as to the citizens, that Germans 
were as brave as Irish.^ In the defence of Amiens, 
also, Irish gallantry was particularly mentioned by 
Davila. Though an insignificant fortress compared 

• Relation du Siege. 


with the force brought against it, Castlemayne took 
Perrott two months to reduce. The stout defence of Glyn 
Castle attracted some notice also \f while the defence of 
Dunboy, where a garrison of one hundred and forty- 
three men held a single square keep and some 
inconsiderable outworks against Sir G. Carew and 
four thousand men for fifteen days,^ compared favour- 
ably with any defence of the period, and elicited from 
the very prejudiced English commander the remark, 
that so obstinate and resolved a defence had not been 
seen in the kingdom.^ Having thus provided some 
material for doubting the accuracy of the impression 
complained of, we proceed to describe in detail the 
troops and their leaders. 

Sixteenth Century Irish Soldiers were 
usually classified as Galloglasses, Kernes, and Cavalry. 
The former were men-at-arms selected for their size 
and strength. They formed the main battle, as it was 
termed, of the native forces, were used as body-guards, 
and employed to garrison fortified places. They 
appear to have developed and grown into favour 
through being the only foot soldiers able to withstand 
the attack of horse, or the heavily armed English foot. 

Their equipment consisted of spears, swords, and 
the distinctive long broad axe called a sparthe ; said 
to have been adopted from the old Danish invaders. 
Towards the end of the century a proportionate 
number of men in each company carried matchlocks 
in addition to their usual arms. For defensive 
armour they wore, over a buff jacket, a long chain 

' Pacata Hibernia. ® Pacata Eibernia. " Moryson. 


shirt reaching to thecalf of the leg. Although in most 
descriptions they are represented bare-headed, a 
head-piece or helmet certainly formed part of their 
dress. They were mustered and paid in sparsy a spar 
including the soldier, his arms bearer, and a boy to 
carry provisions. Ten marks per annum to each spar 
was not extravagant remuneration, yet it purchased 
for the paymasters services and a loyalty generally 

During the latter quarter of the century the Privy 
Council were pestered by rival claimants to the 
captaincy of the permanent force of three hundred 
spars of galloglasses in the pay of the Crown, Not- 
withstanding the position was poorly paid, and involved 
services which must at times have been distasteful, it 
was much sought after. All the claimants were 

Some of the agreements for providing these men-at- 
arms give the impression that, unless they were 
maligned, the Irish chiefs derived a part of their 
income from the practice ; for it was said that as long 
as money could get men they would never want. 
Two small septs, the O'Shyies and MacSwynies, were 
exclusively mercenary soldiers, willing to engage and 
fight under any banner. 

Kernes. — The bulk of all Irish forces were the 
kernes. They were variously armed. Some had bows 
and arrows ; others swords ; others, again, pikes, or 
more strictly, darts ; all carried the deadly skene or 
long knife. Wh^iever there was a scarcity of bows 
and arrows the skene was used like the dart, as a 


projectile.!'' The bows and arrows were short, the 
latter having broad, slender, and sharp heads capable 
of great penetration. Though relying more upon 
activity and knowledge of the locality to avoid the 
onset of cavalry or heavy infantry they each carried 
targets. From their mobility and preference for 
fighting in woods, and the occasional references to them 
as naked pikes— that is, having neither fire-arms nor 
defensive armour — it is probable bows and arrows 
were the only projectile weapons with the royal kernes^ 
as they certainly were with the native levies, until 
towards the close of the century, when a partial change 
was made. 

Moryson, who appears to have entertained some 
respect for these footmen, knew them before and after 
the change in their armament. He mentions that at 
first they were such rude soldiers and so unaccustomed 
to fire-arms that two or three were employed to fire 
one piece, but later they became proficient in the 
management of them, and bold skirmishers in bog 
and woody passages. This opinion of Moryson's 
should be read in connection with Sir W. Raleigh's 
explanation, quoted later, of then recent Irish 

The marching powers of the Kernes were great, 
and activity phenomenal. They were capable also 
of great endurance and exertions. Their aptness 
in utilising woods and bogs, or other natural features 
of the country, was likewise much praised. Trusting 
to this activity and knowledge of ground, they were 

^^ Pacata Hibernia. 


addicted to, and very daring in, usingj devices and 
ruses, not omitting verbal taunts and insulting gesturesi 
to entice the enemy on to unsuitable ground. From 
contemporary descriptions they seem to have been 
almost ideal scouts and skirmishers, possessing 
besides an unusual readiness, not always expected 
from light troops, to attack any description of foe. 

A number of Kernes were in English pay, but the 
officering of them was not so popular with Anglo- 
Irish or English gentlemen as was that of the men-at- 
arms in the same employment. 

Accompanying all Irish forces were a species of 
irregulars, neither soldiers nor camp followers, known 
as horse-boys. They were armed with darts only, 
and employed nominally to lead spare horses, carry 
weapons, and look after the baggage. In some 
accounts of operations the baggage is said to have 
been left to the care of unarmed men, probably these 
irregulars. Indications of their following the attack, 
at a respectful distance, being particularly active 
in despatching the wounded or disarmed, and cutting 
off the heads of the slain, may be detected in these 
accounts. From other references to beheading the 
severely wounded as well as the slain and exposing 
the heads on heights gained during the fight there 
can be no question of these barbarous practices 
being common to both belligerents. 

Speaking generally, the armament of the Irish was 
bad ; but the Scots in their employ, reckoned usually 
among the Kernes, were still worse off. As late as 
the year 1 590 their sole weapons consisted of bows 


and arrows and double-handed swords. Among the 
Irish there was no attempt at uniformity of clothing. 
The immediate attendants of chiefs and leaders were 
distinctively apparelled ; the remainder brought to 
their military duties such clothing as sufficed for 
every-day use. 

The clothing of the Queen's Irish soldiers was a 
fruitful source of dispute with the Home Government. 
At last, Cecil intimated that he would pay for no 
apparel for the Queen's mere Irish soldiers ; for they 
wore none ! 

The Irish Attack.— From the accounts of the 
period, the attack of the Irish foot must have been 
particularly trying to young or badly trained foot 
soldiers. Both galloglasses and kernes trusted for 
victory to getting to close quarters. The former, 
steadily and deliberately, as befitted their gigantic 
stature and heavy armament, moved towards the 
enemy with flaunting banners, pipes skirling, and 
trumpets blowing. When near enough, their match- 
locks were discharged, the pipes struck up the clan 
march or some favourite air, their pace quickened, 
and "mouthing their aboos like bulls bellowing," 
they dashed upon the opposing ranks. The deadly 
long axes made short work of any defence other than 
shot, and their wielders, choosing rather to die than 
retire, were quickly slain or won the fight. There 
was less of the pomp and circumstance of war about 
the kernes. They, dropped as it were from the 
clouds, a flight of arrows and darts, a shout and the 
screech of a pipe, then, woe betide the foe if his shot 


did not stop their rush or his pikes wavered. Flight 
would not save them. The kernes could outstrip a 
horse and pull the rider backwards over the croup. 
In any case, once the dreaded skene was at work 
among them the fight was lost. 

Pipers ; who were of such importance that it was 
customary to mention them specifically when among 
the slain ; and their instruments, entered largely into 
the exploits of the Irish foot. Besides inflaming their 
martial ardour, and urging them on to the attack, 
the pipers were quick to notice any laggard amongst 
their own men, afterwards introducing the name of 
the individual in a metrical account of the affair — a 
prospect fearful enough to the national character to 
induce the most reckless bravery. 

Cavalry. — Contrary to what we would expect 
from the present reputation of the country for horses, 
the cavalry were the least numerous arm of the Irish, 
a deficiency due to horses being considered as more 
properly appertaining to chiefs and captains, and, 
therefore, not usually kept by the lower orders. 
Moreover, in most parts the bogs and woods with 
which the land was so plentifully studded rendered 
them of but little use, so that, except for sport, they 
were seldom in request. Generally, the unsuitability 
of horsemen to their country was the excuse given by 
the chiefs for the small number they were able to 
furnish. It is not surprising, therefore, that the' 
districts containing the least number of bogs or woods 
furnished th-e best cavalry. Tyrone's finest horsemen 
were from Coleraine. The O'Reillys of Cavan — 


another comparatively thinly wooded country -were 
for many years distinguished for their cavalry. 

Though few, the Irish cavalry were reputed of good 
quality. A feature all the more noticeable because, 
riding in their country fashion, they disdained the use 
of stirrups and the cumbersome saddle of the period. 
Their offensive weapons were a sword, some darts, and a 
broad headed blade on a thick strong ash handle, form- 
ing a short lance or half pike. The Queen's Irish horse- 
men wore head pieces and shirts of mail ; those of the 
chiefs usually went bareheaded, and instead of armour 
wore leathern jackets, each man also carried a target 
or round shield. Their mode of attack though in prin- 
ciple similar to that of other cavalries differed in 
details. On approaching the enemy, having hurled 
their darts, they attacked with the lance, holding it 
poised by the centre over the right shoulder. Their 
being without stirrups, and the shortness of the 
weapon, prevented its being used to unseat the 
opponent by main force. Notwithstanding this disad- 
vantage, and their want of defensive armour, they 
did not hesitate to charge the mail-clad English 

Some of the distances traversed and exploits of the 
Irish horsemen, would be deemed incredible were they 
not accounted for by the custom of employing spare 
horses. Until required, the charger or service horse 
was usually led by a mounted horse boy, carrying also 
the baggage and heavy arms of the horseman ; the 
latter bestriding a smaller description of horse. 

The absence from military descriptions of native 


names for the horse proper seems to infer either^ 
that Englishmen considered the animals known as 
" garrans " — really cobs or galloways — unfit for mili- 
tary purposes or else they termed all native horses 
garrans. The former inference derives support from 
their importing or breeding mounts for their heavily 
accoutred men. Whatever the cause of the omission, 
these garrans were hardy, strong, little animals, and, 
though the name came to imply some measure of 
inferiority, greatly in request as baggage carriers. 
From their being also known as " hobby horses " 
the lightly armed Irish cavalry were known abroad 
as " hobellers." 

Mercenaries. — The " bonnaghts " or mercenaries 
in the service of chiefs and nobles were the pick of the 
Irish troops ; under good commanders justifying their 
reputation as the best furnished and best appointed 
men for war. To all intents and purposes they were 
regulars, possessing a better organisation and more 
uniform and appropriate equipment, than the militia- 
like clan levies, and ordinary retinues of chiefs and 

The billeting arrangements for Irish mercenaries in 
the service of the Crown were an unceasing cause of 
friction with the Anglo-Irish and English residents. 
Taking advantage of the systems known as bonnaght- 
bonny, bonnaght-beg, and sorren ; by which the Royal 
troops were maintained by the inhabitants of certain 
districts, and money payments towards their provision 
exacted from each ploughland ; officials, and others, 
whose positions enabled them to do so, were accused 


of evading their share of these imposts by saddling 
other towns or districts with it. 

Desertions and treachery on the part of the Irish 
troops were occasionally given as the cause of Royalist 
disasters. In all probability the cases complained of 
occurred amongst the levies comprised in the hostings 
or musters, and not among the mercenaries- 
Otherwise it is doubtful if, considering the stringent 
orders of the Queen prohibiting the employment of 
Irish soldiers, they would have been enlisted in such 
numbers as they were until the end of the war. 
Instances of devotion, and loyalty to the death, among 
the mercenaries, notably the two Irish galloglasses 
who assisted Sir Conyers Clifford from his last and 
fatal field, help to support this view. 

Paucity of Fire Arms, &c.— During the Eliza- 
bethan wars the difficulty of obtaining, and objection 
to wearing, armour by the Irish, appears to have been 
surmounted, for, though the irregular troops, light 
horsemen, and kernes, were still lightly accoutred, the 
leaders, captains, and regular soldiers, were but slightly 
inferior in defensive equipment to the English. At 
the same time, the descriptions by native writers of 
armour worn by the chiefs must be accepted with a 
certain amount of reservation, compliance with the 
fashion of employing a more than Persian redundancy 
of adjectives, rather than literal description appearing 
to be the writer's object. 

Both muskets and cannon were comparatively new 
to the Irish. Until 1522 they had not used either, and 
as late as the siege of Carrigfoyle the use of five 


cannon was mentioned as something extraordinary. 
Previous to the battle at the Blackwater, the English 
commander termed the Irish " naked rebels," thereby 
implying they were poorly armed. Sir W. Raleigh, 
writing to Sir R. Cecil, styled them a beggarly nation 
that have neither arms nor fortifications. 

Nearly all the guns and cannon the Irish possessed 
were captured from the Royalists or presents from 
abroad. During respites from hostilities, frequent 
requests for a supply of both were made to the English 
commanders, but with a shrewd suspicion of their 
intended employment the requests were seldom com- 
plied with. 

To obtain the lead he had at the commencement of 
hostilities, the Earl of Tyrone resorted to the fiction 
that he was importing it for the roof of his new castle. 
At one time he had but a single cannon, and most of 
his ammunition came from the clergy in Spain ; a 
source which does not point to a very large supply.^^ 
Various proofs of unaccustomedness to fire arms, 
especially cannon, by native troops are given, amongst 
them that during Tyrone's operations in the north 
many of the clansmen were new to^ and entertained a 
dread of, the great ordnance of the English. 

This want of guns and ammunition, with the absence 
of gunners (whenever these are mentioned they are 
said to be Spaniards or Italians), from which the 
Irish suffered, retarded their operations considerably, 
and was responsible for their occasionally declining to 
defend castles or towns. Newark Castle, and others 

" Statt Papers ; Hatfield MSS. 


built by the chiefs, fell into the hands of the Royalists 
and formed objective points for both combatants all 
through the wars, but the deficiencies mentioned 
which brought about their loss, effectually precluded 
the Irish again acquiring them. Tyrone on several 
occasions evacuated towns through not having sufficient 
cannon or ammunition to defend them with. The 
Earl of Desmond likewise, about the end of the century, 
informed the King of Spain that his inability to 
reduce castles and fortified places was from want of 
cannon and powder, "which his country did not 
yield.'' After the disaster at Kinsale the castle of 
Dunboy, held under the terms of capitulation by the 
Spaniards for the Royalists, was surprised by its 
rightful owner. The O'SuUivan. The absence of 
skilled gunners amongst the Irish is evident from 
O'SuUivan having retained the "cannoneers," and 
released the remainder of the garrison. 

The necessity for retaining, while preventing the 
Irish acquiring, the advantages derived from the 
possession of firearms was always an object with the 
Privy Council. Under any circumstances it was 
difficult for the chiefs to obtain these essentials to 
resistance, but when, by the operation of administrative 
orders, the risk and expense of importing them out- 
weighed the probable profit, the source of supply 
became restricted to that from foreigners. One of 
the mistakes (said to have proved the most fatal) 
attributed to Sir John Perrott was giving the Ulster 
Irish the possession, and teaching them the use, 
of English weapons. Spenser, and Camden also. 


remarked on the impolicy of habituating the natives to 
the use of firearms, thereby abandoning the advantage 
formerly had over them. Sir W. Raleigh's explana- 
tion of the change which came over the military 
relations of the two peoples when this advantage had 
been lost, expresses the matter clearly. Referring to 
the period when he was serving as a captain he 
writes, " I remember also when one hundred foot and 
one hundred horse would have beaten all the forces 

of the strongest provinces Then the Irish 

had darts, and now they are furnished with as good 
pikes and muskets as England hath." ^^ The last 
half of this assertion v/as hardly warranted by facts. 
At the height of his success the arms furnished by the 
Earl of Tyrone to the Munster forces included 422 
calivers only, and without them the Southern Irish 
had practically no firearms. 

Another want which seriously reduced the fighting 
value of the native forces was the absence of regular 
or uniform organization and equipment. Each chief 
and captain armed his following as best he could 
consistently with circumstances. Consequently there 
was neither eflficiency nor uniformity. The poverty of 
equipment of the native levies may be inferred from 
the Privy Council being compelled in 1560, by the 
same defect in the presumably better equipped Irish 
of the Pale, to order a general muster of all liable to 
service, with a view to discover and make good the 
deficiencies in their furniture. 

Without even the rude cannon of the period the 

^2 Discourse touching a War with Spain. 



ability of the Irish to reduce fortified places was 
necessarily small. Unable to effect any damage at a 
distance, they relied principally upon an engine called 
a sow ; a wooden structure mounted on wheels, with 
a very sloping roof covered with several thickness of 
skins, and moved into position by means of levers. 
Hidden beneath this cumbrous machine, they 
approached the wall and attempted to undermine or 
batter it. To render this practice useless most towns 
and castles had their walls defended by splayed 
bottomed towers, from whence, protected by wetted 
skins against the arrows of the besiegers' covering 
parties, the defenders fired along the walls. 

Wetted skins played an important part in the war- 
fare of the period. In addition to using them for all 
sorts of covering purposes, the Irish were great adepts 
at making light boats by covering osier twigs with 
skins of horses or cattle. They were thus enabled to 
cross rivers and streams that from floods or season 
were otherwise impassable. The only tents they 
seem to have had were leathern ones, used for fording 
purposes also on an emergency. 

The use of bagpipes and bronze trumpets was 
common to all the Irish troops ; the former being 
considered so distinctively national that in many 
places they were forbidden, and kettledrums used 

When required, at any season of the year, the Irish 
were able to continue in the field very lightly accoutred ; 
dispensing with their cloaks, long trews, and shoes. 
Their mobility was further increased by the little 


baggage and supplies they usually carried being left 
to the care of servants, and followers without arms, or 
the local peasantry. On these occasions they were 
independent of supplies. Water was always obtain- 
able, and each man carried the beef or black puddings 
required for his own consumption. That, even on 
ordinary occasions, they marched faster than the 
Royalists was partly due to their lighter equipment. 
O'Donnell, in his march from the North to Kinsale 
was said to have covered thirty-two Irish miles (about 
forty English) on one winter's day. Under the 
adverse conditions, a fine performance negativing the 
accompaniment of much transport. 

English Soldiers.— At the beginning of the 
Elizabethan wars the English troops or, " soldiers of 
London," — as they were termed by the Irish writers — 
were not mere feudal levies, but engaged men who had 
served, or were intended to serve, some time in the 

They appear to have been comparatively well 
treated. Their equipment was extremely good, and 
their personal clothing and rations would even now be 
considered sufficient and ample. When quartered in 
the towns, 2s. per week was paid for each soldier, horse 
or foot, 7d. each for the horse boys, and a similar sum 
for each horse. For this the men were provided with 
accommodation, and on flesh days bread, drink, and 
meat. On fish days, fish or white meat.,2>., fowl, was 
substituted for the ordinary meat. The horses were 
given their oats in the ear, no attempt being made to 
thresh them. From the regulations, it appears each 


horse soldier had two horses, and a horse boy to look 
after them. Special regulations were framed to guard 
the soldier, English or Irish, and his horses, against 
fraud on the part of their hosts. 

Notwithstanding the care taken of the men and the 
superiority of their armament, there are frequent indi- 
cations that except when protected by their cavalry, 
natural obstacles, or longer range of their fire arms^ 
they did not always stand their ground ; the test of 
the infantry soldier's stoutness, the push of pike, being 
seldom resorted to. Knowing this. Lord Mountjoy 
insisted upon his men always wearing their helmets, 
to reduce if possible the loss resulting from the Irish — 
encouraged by the advantage of arms coming to close 
quarters ; " where commonly he prevaileth." Raleigh 
complained that they were such poor and miserable 
creatures that their captains dare not lead them to 
serve. During the first Earl of Essex's attempt upon 
the North, Welsford wrote to Burleigh — " I find such 
imperfections in our countrymen that, through long 
peace had in England, they have lost the minds of 
soldiers, and are become weak in body to endure the 
travail, and miserable in mind to sustain the force of 
the enemy." The second Earl, when smarting under 
the harassing he received in the West and Midlands, 
or in extenuation of his want of success, alleged that 
the men of Devon were cowardly in the field. 

Subsequently to Welsford's complaint there was an 
improvement. Commanders and men were veterans 
who had seen service in the Low Countries, then 
considered seminaries and nurseries for training the 


Queen's officers and men. Sir John Norris' army 
(1594) was principally composed of these veterans, 
and their commander owed to the reputation he had 
brought back from the Continent, the command of 
the troops in Ireland. Like many others he lost both 
life and fame in the country that has proved the 
grave of so many reputations. Under the stress of 
maintaining Lord Mountjoy's army before Kinsale 
at some strength the reinforcements again fell off in 
quality, the six thousand men sent from England 
being described as wretched material to begin with, 
pressed men, beggars, and gaol birds, who either fell 
sick and died, or ran away. 

Very few English officers of reputation escaped 
service in Ireland, most of those who had distinguished 
themselves abroad bringing the experience and know- 
ledge they had acquired to bear on the Irish. That, 
in more than one instance, service abroad together led 
to friction and want of zeal in co-operation in Ireland, 
does not lessen the compliment paid the Irish in con- 
sidering the best military talent at the Queen's dis- 
posal not derogatorily employed in reducing them. 

After making every allowance for the poor quality 
of their opponents, it is surprising that the Irish, con- 
sidering their inferiority in armament and leading 
and the discordant elements always present in their 
ranks, were able or ventured to engage any English 
force. That they did, and in very many cases success- 
fully, was due to some extent to the different condi- 
tions of country and climate, but more to the better 
material in their ranks. 


Locality and Defeats.— The importance of 
ground as a contributory factor in various lost or 
doubtful engagements was not unnoticed, though its 
effect was generally exaggerated rather than admit 
any credit to the opponents. Few of the English 
commanders being so plain spoken as Essex in his 
report on the defeat near Wicklow ; " and our troops, 
having advantage of numbers, and no disadvantage of 
ground, were put in rout and many cut to pieces 
without striking a blow."^^ 

The term " Pass " frequently occurring in military 
narratives of the period was used to denote not only 
a path through or over hills, but a cut road or path 
through woods. When their opponents were likely 
to traverse one of the latter, the Irish endeavoured 
secretly to prepare a natural entanglement of trees 
and bushes a short distance from, and parallel to, the 
track on both sides, so that, once committed to the 
pass, the enemy when attacked were unable to move 
to either flank without considerable delay and ex- 
posure, the Irish meanwhile doing great execution 
with their arrows and darts. Thick woods of hazel 
and sallies (alders) the Irish were very partial to, and 
always endeavoured to utilize. The national pre- 
ference for fords, and objection to bridges, on the 
other hand, was more than once the cause of disaster, 
through the Royalists lying in ambush at them. > 

Through their superior mobility the Irish usually 
had the choice of ground upon which to engage, and thus 
compelled their opponents to attack them on unfavour- 

^^ To Privy Council. July, '59. 


able ground, or made their own attack at places where 
the superior musketry and gun-fire of their foes was of 
no avail. The defeat on the banks of the Farna 
river, known as the battle of the Ford of Biscuits, 
from the quantities of that comestible thrown away 
in their flight by the Royalists ; that of the Pass of 
Plumes, so called from the number of plumes collected 
by the Irish after the engagement ; and that at 
Tyrrell's Pass, are cases in point. Lord Grey's 
disastrous defeat at the wood of Glenmalure is an 
example of a commander despising the Irish and 
their system of warfare, and paying for his foolishness. 
The gallant Clifford's defeat on the Curlew mountains 
merits this reproach also. 

The question of transport, which affected so 
materially the mobility of the English forces, was an 
ever-present and troublesome one all through the 
wars. The physical difficulties of the country, with 
thecomparative scarcity of roads and bridges, rendered 
the use of wheeled transport almost impossible. They, 
therefore, fell back upon pack animals, general orders 
for musters always directing the substitution of 
garrans, or baggage animals, for the quota of carts 
due from the various baronies. In these orders the 
occasional references to cartages appear to be 
intended for the cumbrous cannon of the period. From 
the Irish always transporting their wounded officers, 
or sick and wounded men, on horse-back or in horse 
litters, it is evident they also were without wheeled 

Descriptions of Operations. — ^The majority 


of the writers to whom we are indebted for narratives 
of the Irish wars had neither local nor professional 
knowledge of the subject, and relied exclusively upon 
official despatches. Much confusion has, therefore, 
resulted from the, to English ears, uncouth names 
of places, and bewildering similarity in names of 
individuals. Amongst other instances, Harrington's 
defeat in Leix is frequently confounded with the 
reverse on the Wicklow hills ; and the severe punish- 
ment inflicted, the subordinate leaders being executed 
and the rank and file decimated, is alleged to have 
followed both events. 

In some narratives, operations involving great loss 
of men and prestige, and materially affecting the 
course of events, are either wholly omitted or merely 
glanced at. The Irish account of James Fitzmaurice's 
campaign (1574), for instance, contains a long list of 
successful engagements, of which no mention, or a 
mere deprecatory one, appears in the accounts of 
their opponents. Sir J. Desmond's victories at the 
Blackwood forest, Monastir Nenay, Gort na pisi, and 
the affair at Kilmallock, are likewise denied the 
prominence due to their importance by English 

Some inaccuracies are so obvious that they serve 
no purpose except to draw attention to the partisan 
spirit in which they were conceived. One writer, 
describing Randolph's sally with four hundred men 
from Derry, asks us to believe that four hundred Irish 
were killed, with the loss of the commander only. In 
point of fact, the town and fort, with some hundreds 


of the garrison, including Randolph, were destroyed 
by an explosion. Another, narrating the capture of 
Dursey Island by the English, doubles the numbers 
of the defenders, and then conveys the impression 
their defence was a poor affair. Another account has 
that the garrison were but one-fourth the numbers of 
the besiegers, and that the island was not captured 
until the only ordnance possessed by the besieged 
had been lost. Describing the English defeat on the 
Curlew mountains, an Irish writer estimates the native 
forces at two hundred men only. They were in 
reality but slightly inferior in number to their foes. 

The unreliability of official reports is notorious. 
Compare, for instance, the account furnished to the 
Council in England by Sir George Carew and the 
Earl of Thomond, of the capture of the Earl of 
Ormond during a parley with O'Morra with the Irish 
account. Careful examination of the plan and 
details supports the latter, except that the Irish 
casualties are understated. 

Official writers and historians were not the only 
offenders against accuracy. Lord Burleigh, writing 
to Lord Sussex of a defeat inflicted by Shane O'Neill, 
makes no secret of his perversion of fact : — "I had 
scattered the matter abroad to be a plain overthrow 
of Shayne's power, with the hurt of two or three 
captains. The next day my Lord of Kildare had 
letters from my lady his wife, but my former occupying 
of men's minds retarded the credit of the reports of 
those letters." In the action thus referred to several 
officers and four hundred men, all lately arrived from 


England, were defeated. From the battle being 
termed by the Irish that of the red sagums, or 
uniforms, we may consider it one of the earliest 
allusions to the historic red coats of the British army. 

As a rule, to obtain an approximately correct 
impression of the achievements of either side in the 
Irish wars it is necessary to compare the different 
accounts, selecting and giving preference to descrip- 
tions by eye-witnesses and those written at the time, 
and then submit the conclusions arrived at to the 
analysis of probabilities and results. 

Some Irish Leaders. — The greatest military 
commander, if not the greatest Irishman, on the 
native side during the Elizabethan period was Hugh 
O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone. The son of Mathew, Baron 
of Dungannon, his resemblance, physically and 
mentally, to his uncle the unfortunate Shane O'Neill, 
sets at rest the doubt as to his father's parentage 
Shane found it convenient to originate. He was 
reputed brave, and was known to be active and 
energetic. Events proved him a clever and humane 
leader, and an honourable and sagacious statesman, 
versed in all the complexities of European politics. 
Affable in his dealings with inferiors, he was equally 
at home in the best English society, and at the head 
of an Irish army. 

Tyrone had studied the art of war under English 
auspices, had commanded some cavalry at the opera- 
tions round Smerwick, and, later, was wounded in a 
Royalist engagement with Maguire on the banks of 
the Earne. His early predilections having been 


alienated by official mismanagement, he became the 
leader of the Irish Confederates, and successfully 
employed against his erstwhile tutors the knowledge 
and experience acquired under their banners. Of his 
versalitity in professional matters, and readiness to 
discern and utilise the capabilities of his army, there 
are numerous instances. His system of training 
his clansmen and followers in successive contingents, 
until they had all received some military schooling^ 
stamped him as far in advance of contemporary Irish 
nobles. His dispositions to resist the English landing 
at Lough Foyle, and the means employed to capture 
Armagh in the campaign of 1597, with the severe 
defeat inflicted on the Royalists at Droum-flinch 
would alone have proved him a good commander ; and 
what was less common at the time, a merciful one, 
But Tyrone's prominence as a leader rests upon a 
much greater achievement than these — the victory at 
the (northern) Blackwater, or as known to the Irish, 
" Beal an atha buidh," the mouth of the Yellow Ford. 
Battle of Blackwater.— The Royalists, about 
five thousand strong, were moving to the north, under 
the command of Marshal Bagnall, a skilful leader 
greatly esteemed by the Irish, and, much against his 
will, brother-in-law to his opponent Tyrone. Quite 
half of the Royalist forces were English, the remainder 
natives. All the former were veterans from the Low 
Countries or had seen service before in Ireland, and 
their allies had done good service previously. All 
were well equipped, wore armour, had brass cannons 
on wheels, and were confident of success. 


The Irish were also about five thousand strong 
(English accounts say eight thousand) and, through 
Tyrone's exertions, equipped rather better than usual. 
A prophecy by St. Columkille that they would beat 
the English in battle at this particular place having 
been communicated to them, they also anticipated a 

The Irish position was at the far end of an open 
plain, thickly studded with trees and approached by 
a difficult track, bounded with low, thin bushes. At 
the end, where the track gave access to more open 
ground, Tyrone had caused numerous pits and small 
trenches to be dug and overlaid with brambles and 
sods of turf. Beyond these again, the plain extended 
for some distance until narrowed by bogs on both 
sides into a space of about 400 yards wide, rendered 
soft by overflowing water from the bogs. Beyond 
this saturated ground Tyrone's men had dug a ditch 
and dike, and, with the excavated earth, formed a bank 
four feet high right across the firm ground. A short 
distance behind it, on open firm ground, the main 
body of the Irish were drawn up. 

On a hot Sunday morning in August, the Royalists, 
having been addressed by Bagnall, who concluded 
his remarks with a not unusual offer — that of one 
thousand pounds in gold for the heads of either of 
his opponents, O'Neill or O'Donnell,^* marched out 
of Armagh in three divisions of foot and one of 
cavalry. With banners displayed, trumpets sounding 
and drums beating, they directed their march towards 

" O' Sullivan Beare. 


the Irish, watching them in the distance. Directly 
the leading division entered the track it was assailed 
with flights of arrows from the kernes, and the shot 
of some gun-men posted behind the trees. Dispersing 
these, the vanguard cavalry fought their way to the 
end of the track and emerged on to the plain, when 
they immediately fell into disorder among the pits 
and trenches. Extricated with loss, by their heavily- 
armed musketeers, they were repeatedly attacked 
by the Irish horse under Maguire and O'Hanlon. 
Despite this favourable opening, the Irish skirmishers 
though they made several charges on the men-at-arms, 
were driven back, Slowly advancing, exultant cries 
of victory already rising from their ranks, the Royalists 
were again thrown into confusion at the saturated 
ground, but after a fierce struggle managed to gain 
the proximity of the earthen bank. Here, again, the 
fighting, which lasted for some time fiercely and 
hotly, resulted in favour of the Royal troops, who, 
having brought up their cannon, pounded the Irish 
through gaps in the bank. Levelling this in some 
places, surmounting it in others, the Royalists gained 
the firm ground beyond. Without reforming their 
ranks they then resumed the advance, one division 
directed against Tyrone, the other against O'Donnell ; 
a movement which masked the fire of the cannon. 
At this critical moment, when the Irish, emboldened 
by the guns having ceased firing and the confusion 
in their enemy's ranks, were about to attack, an 
English musketeer, taking out some powder to charge 
his piece, thrust a lighted match in his hand into the 


powder barrel. The explosion ignited two other 
barrels, the whole causing considerable loss and 
increased confusion. Almost simultaneously a cannon 
burst, killing everyone near it. Before the leading 
division, which had already borne the brunt of nearly 
all the fighting and the loss from the explosion, could 
regain a semblance of order, it was shattered by a 
well-directed volley from Tyrone's musketeers. The 
cavalry and galloglasses completed its discomfiture, 
and as a potential force the division ceased to exist. 
The next division, seeing their comrades in flight, on 
being fiercely assailed by O'Donnell, also broke up. 
Montague's cavalry, making no effort to prevent the 
Irish cavalry falling on their scattered footmen, the 
defeat became a rout for these divisions. 

Bagnall, at the head of the third division, remained 
in observation of the others. At the moment of their 
discomfiture, either oppressed by the heat or to give 
an order, he raised the visor of his helmet. A ball 
penetrated his brain and he fell dead from the saddle. 
Alarmed by the fall of their leader, and unable to 
stem the frantic rush of the fugitives, this division 
broke and fled. The battle was over ; the heroic 
efforts of the O'Reilly clan cavalry doing but little 
more than mitigate the slaughter, which continued up 
to the walls of Dundalk. In these efforts O'Reilly, 
with several young gentlemen of his name, was 

The Royalist loss amounted to twenty-three ofiicers, 
including the Marshal, seventeen hundred men, and 
»6 O'Sullivan. 


all the artillery, arms, ammunition, and provisions. 
That the loss was not greater was attributed to the 
Irish ammunition being exhausted, and the exertions 
of O'Reilly's cavalry. The victors admitted a loss of 
two hundred killed and wounded. Other accooints 
put their loss at four times this number. 

This, the most complete victory gained by the Irish 
Confederates over a Royalist force, was, as usual, 
attributed to the advantageous position occupied by 
the victors. The faulty dispositions which split up 
the Royalists into detachments, and then allowed the 
detachments to be overwhelmed in sight of one 
another, sufficiently explains the disaster. To the 
Irish Confederates the glory of their victory was sadly 
tarnished through some three hundred of the Royalist 
Irish foot deserting to them before the day was irre- 
trievably lost. 

On the receipt of the news in Dublin the Lords 
Justices armed every available man, and bricked up 
the city gates. In England, and on the Continent, 
such an impression did the news make that it was 
said the English in Ireland dreaded Tyrone as 
the Romans, after their defeat at Cannae, feared 
Hannibal. The battle furnished the Irish with a 
congenial theme for numerous ballads, chants, and 
annals, the bravery displayed by the vanquished 
receiving due acknowledgment in them all. 

Never was there a more striking illustration of 
the one-sided manner in which history is usually 
written than this affair at the Blackwater ford. 
Despite the sensation which it caused at the time, 


neither the battle itself nor the effusions to which it 
gave birth are now known to even a tithe of the repre- 
sentatives of the nationalities engaged. Whilst page 
after page has been devoted to descriptions of combats 
possessing neither meaning nor interest, beyond the 
fact that they support or illustrate the writers' con- 
tentions, we are content to let this splendid achieve- 
ment sink into oblivion, because partisan writers have 
been unable to distort or explain away the facts con- 
nected with it. 

Not the least of its claims to distinction is that this 
battle marked the beginning of a new era in Irish 
warfare. Both sides discerned that the glamour sur- 
rounding the man clad in a panoply of steel was 
dispelled. His invulnerability ; the impetuosity of 
the horseman ; strength of the galloglass ; activity of 
the kerne ; all were dominated by the deadly shot. 
Future efforts were therefore devoted to obtaining 
and utilising fire arms. All armour, except head 
pieces, practically disappeared from footmen, and 
partially from horsemen. 

To return to the Irish leaders. Among the most 
prominent were Captain Tyrrel, Hugh Roe O'Don- 
nell, O'Rourke, Prince of Breffny, Owen O'More, 
and Maguire, Prince of Fermanagh. 

Tyrrel, who, by the way, was an Anglo-Irishman, 
figured largely throughout the wars, and was reputed 
a veteran soldier — " unlike most of the Irish com- 
manders."^^ He was successful in a number of minor 
engagements, the most important, the defeat of a 

^^ MacGeoghegan. 


superior force under Lord Trimbleston's son, and the 
cutting up of the Royalists at a place now known as 
Tyrrel's Pass in Westmeath. 

Red Hugh O'Donnell's greatest exploit, in con- 
junction with O'Rourke, was the defeat on the Curlew 
Mountains of Sir C. Clifford, President of Connaught, 
and a force outnumbering the Confederates. Actuated 
by the hope of surprising the enemy, whose position 
had been communicated by two deserters, Clifford 
launched his weary, wet, and hungry force against 
the Irish entrenchments. Here also the cavalry appear 
to have held aloof while their foot, unable to withstand 
the onslaught of the Confederate galloglasses, were 
put to the rout. Attempting to stem the retreat 
Clifford was struck down, and, though gallantly 
rescued by two of his galloglasses, was shortly after- 
wards overtaken and slain. 

This expedition is noticeable for an Irish naval 
force under Theobald Burke (usually known as 
Tibbott na long, i.e., Theobald of the ships) moving 
along the coast to co-operate with Clifford. On his 
death the expedition was abandoned. 

O'More successfully engaged the Royalists on 
several occasions, his principal performance being the 
destruction of Essex's rear-guard at the Pass of 
Plumes. On this occasion he was supported by 
Donal MacCarthy. In an expedition to Offally, 
O'More was out-generalled by the more scientific 
English leaders, and was killed while attempting to 
prevent the relief of Maryborough. 

The circumstances connected with Maguire's death 



well illustrate the reckless bravery of the leaders, and 
the personal and national rivalry which too frequently 
caused them to forget their positions and become mere 
men at arms. Sir Warham St. Leger was considered 
by his countrymen the bravest officer and best horse- 
man in Ireland : Maguire, Prince of Fermanagh, had 
the same reputation with his countrymen. Therefore, 
when Maguire, with three attendants only, was way- 
laid some distance from his camp by St. Leger and a 
strong party of horse, an encounter was assured. 
Disdaining to escape, Maguire charged through the 
English ranks to engage his rival, and while poising 
his spear to transfix St. Leger, was shot through the 
body, but the spear found its mark in St. Leger's 
neck, and the rivals fell dead together. Maguire's 
death was a serious blow to the Confederates. By 
all parties he was esteemed a bold and daring com- 
mander, displaying in himself and nurturing in his 
men several national military excellencies. i\gainst 
his defeat at the Ford of Belacooloon by Sir H. 
Bagnall, he could place his victory over Sir Henry 
Duke at the Ford of Biscuits, and the defeat and death 
of Commander Gilbert. The defeat at Belacooloon is 
principally noticeable through the Earl of Tyrone 
having been in command of the Royalist cavalry ; the 
quarrel between him and Marshal Bagnall concerning 
the latter's behaviour on the occasion being given as 
the cause of Tyrone's defection from the English 

Difficult as it is to dissociate the military comman- 
ders of the period from the prevailing Machiavelian 


methods of domestic and political administration, 
in contemplating their warfare we discern less 
sophisticated surroundings ; some of them reminiscent 
of a state of society when strength of arm rather than 
sublety of intellect guarded the owner's sense of 

When President of Munster, Sir John Perrott, with 
a view to conclude the long " brabbling " with James 
of Desmond, challenged him to mortal combat. The 
two principals, and a party of horse and foot on each 
side, were to fight in the presence of troops of both 
nationalities, a truce to be maintained during the day 
by the spectators. From the point of view of history 
and literature in general, the prevention by Perrott's 
oflficial superiors of the Homeric contest which we can 
imagine would have resulted, is to be regretted. 

Personal Leading. — Throughout the Elizabethan 
wars the value of personal leading as a factor in the 
ultimate result to the English troops is very notice- 
able. A constant sequence of events being the death 
of the leader : then the defeat of his men. Thomas 
Norris, President of Munster, when engaged with 
Burke of Castle Connell, was mortally wounded, and 
his force dispersed. Dudley Bagnall and Sir J. 
Chichester, killed and defeated at Leighlin and 
Alfraca, and Lords Burgh and Kildare, both mortally 
wounded at Droum-flinch, are other instances in 
point. From the frequency of these mishaps it 
would appear either the troops required examples of 
willingness to engage the enemy, or the leaders were 
sacrificed in vain attempts to avert disaster. This 


was not the case with their opponents. Relatively, 
few Irish leaders were slain, except in foolhardy 
enterprises like that of Maguire. There remains a 
possibility that this unusual loss of leaders was the 
consequence of adhering to the English custom oi 
commanders and knights fighting on foot in a set field. 

Noticeable, also, was the disproportionate result 
occasionally achieved by ridiculously small numbers 
on both sides, and the absence of any permanent 
advantage or loss to either victor or vanquished. 

Among the confederacies which seriously shook 
Elizabeth's hold upon Ireland was that known by the 
name of Lord Baltinglass. Yet Lord Deputy Grey 
had but nine hundred horse and foot when he 
set out to curb the Confederates. Fitzmaurice, Baron 
of Lixnaw, devastated the districts of Ormond, 
Tipperary, and Waterford, with a force so small that 
Captain Zouch, having received an addition of two 
hundred to his command of four hundred and fifty, 
was strong enough to harass and defeat him on 
several occasions. Shortly afterwards Zouch also 
experienced the vicissitudes of fortune at the hands 
of Donal O'Sullivan. At the height of a very 
troublesome period the garrisons of Munster were said 
to amount to but four hundred and fifty horse and 
foot. The most typical instance of all was when 
Lord Deputy Sidney, with six hundred men only, 
pacified the attainable parts of the North, South, and 
Midlands; and had barely returned to Dublin when 
O'Morra recovered his own country, situated near 
the Pale, and burnt five English towns. 


The explanation of part of this will be found in the 
disposition of the military forces of the Crown. In 
the parts subject to these variations of fortune the 
permanent garrisons were few and small in number, 
their functions being simply to hold the important 
tactical points; the safety of the intervening country 
being committed to " the Queen's " chiefs or nobles, 
who were always available and ready to oppose the 
disaffected natives or any other malcontent party. 
When these local measures proved insufficient, the 
Lord President or other officials, or, as a last resource, 
the Lord Deputy, with a small army appeared on the 
scene. Hence the custom of summoning a general 
hosting or muster about midsummer annually, so as 
to ensure having a force sufficient for emergencies 
at the season when the Irish were usually best fitted 
to commence hostilities. 

From the rise of Shane O'Neill to the subjugation 
of his nephew, the great Earl of Tyrone, the Queen's 
lieutenants were continually engaged in expeditions 
to some parts of the kingdom. Varying success 
attended these excursions. Victorious in the south, 
disaster dogged them in the north. Defeated on the 
borders of the Pale, they reduced remote districts to 
complete subjection. Resistance suppressed in one 
district started up in another stronger than ever. 
The one thing constant was the continual loss of 
men and the expense. The suppression of Shane 
O'Neill alone was said to have cost the lives of three 
thousand English soldiers, besides the Irish and Scots 


Numbers. — The frequency and size of the various 
punitive expeditions during the last quarter of the 
1 6th century forms a fairly correct index to the 
general trend of military events. Lord Grey and 
Sir H. Sidney were temporarily successful in the 
north, south, and west, with comparatively small 
forces. Norris and Bagnall, a few years afterwards, 
took the field with armies of five thousand men each. 
Their want of success led to the Earl of Essex's 
operations with an army quadruple their numbers. 

To appreciate the task set the Royalist generals, 
and the relative merits of the combatants, some 
knowledge of their respective numbers is necessary. 
Moryson calculated that in the year 1599 there were 
nearly twenty thousand insurgents (horse and foot) 
under arms, a number greater than had been drawn 
together previously. About the same time, equally 
reliable authorities estimated the numbers of Essex's 
army (officially returned at sixteen thousand foot and 
thirteen hundred horse, all English) and the various 
garrisons scattered throughout the country at the 
same figure. The Irish, allied and mercenaries, 
though they constituted a considerable force, are not 
included in this total. 

The Crown officials always manifested a tendency 
to exaggerate the numbers of the " rebels " and to 
complain of Ministers in England under-estimating 
them. They further complained that the soldiers at 
their disposal were always said to be more in numbers 
than actually was the case. Apparently, official 
documents ought to decide this question, but they do 


not, their figures being totally unreliable, the " poll " 
numbers in the English ranks never agreeing with 
them. The discrepancies, as a rule, were due to the 
custom of " dead " pays, i.e., retaining men on the 
muster-rolls when they had ceased to be effective by 
reason of death or wounds, and the practice of assigning 
allowances to officers in the form of pay for fictitious 

Though some difficulty likewise attends ascertaining 
the proportions of the two nationalities under English 
commanders on any particular occasion, we may 
safely infer that, with the exception of reinforcements 
marching from the coast, English forces were always 
accompanied by some Irish, either mercenaries 
or levies. In the great hosting or assembling against 
Shane O'Neill the contingents furnished by the Irish 
(excluding the regulars in the Queen's pay), equalled 
in numbers the Anglo-Irish quotas, O'Donnell's pro- 
portion being sixty horsemen, one hundred and twenty 
galloglasses, and three hundred Scots, that is kernes. 
Sir Conyers Clifford's detachment at the fight on the 
Curlew mountains was composed mainly of Connaught 
and Meath Irish, with English and Irish regulars, the 
latter officered by younger sons of English families. 
Bingham, during his operations in Connaught, made 
considerable use of Irish mercenaries; while John 
Bingham claimed to have done great execution in 
Mayo with some companies of foot and six hundred 
kernes. Forces raised by instructions from Dublin 
were still more heterogeneous. Lord Ormond's army, 
in his raid on the south and west, contained 


Anglo-Irish, Irish of the Pale, and English regulars. 
At Kinsale the Royalist army, notwithstanding three 
reinforcements of two thousand men each had been 
sent from England, consisted principally of the 
provincial forces and levies of Irish from the three 
southern counties. Conspicuous among the provincial 
forces in all Royalist armies were the contingents 
from the cities and towns. Generally men born in 
the country and accustomed to the climate, language, 
and warfare, these contingents on more than one 
occasion proved themselves the best troops at the 
disposal of the authorities. In material and equip- 
ment also they were reputed better than the ordinary 

The most complete and largest army in organization, 
equipment, and numbers that until the penultimate 
year of the century had ever served in Ireland was 
the one confided to the Earl of Essex. Two thousand of 
the men were trained veterans recalled from the Dutch 
service — though it was said they had sent back 
neither complete regiments nor the best men — the 
remainder were acclimatised and seasoned troops for 
some time in the country, and drafts from the County 
Train Bands, varying in numbers from four hundred 
furnished by Yorkshire to thirty-four from Essex. 

Essex's Army. — Authorities differed in their 
opinions of the quality of this army. Some considered 
the county quotas indifferent men, badly provided 
and furnished. Others that the men were good enough 
but badly clothed. A distinguishing feature of it, 
one not tending to lesson its efficiency, was the number 


of former officers serving as volunteers in the ranks, 
or in subordinate capacities. So numerous were they, 
that it was suggested to form a regiment of them. 

After the defects of arms and clothing were rectified 
the cavalry wore buff jackets, horsemen's long cloaks 
of strong orange-coloured cloth, stout breeches, and 
long boots ; they had breast and head-pieces, and 
carried swords and long pistols. The infantry were 
in blue cloth coats well lined, their defensive armour 
varied with their weapons, but all wore head-pieces. 
Companies of one hundred men were composed, half 
of pikes and halberds, half of carbines and muskets ; 
the former to form an inpenetrable front rank and 
the shot the rear rank. 

As the campaign progressed, this army, contrary 
to what usually happens, deteriorated, a defect attri- 
buted to the numbers prostrated by sickness, the 
bad material of the reinforcements, and to the gallants 
returning home, disgusted, it is presumed, with the 
climate and the harassing nature of the warfare 
rather than with the distribution of honours, for 
Essex was lavishly extravagant in that respect. 

Essex's army, as far as any force of the period 
could be, was a mobile field force, superior in numbers 
to any enemy that could be brought against it, except 
in the north, and there Tyrone could rely upon his 
own and O'Donnell's contingents only for service 
beyond their own districts. The other leaders could 
seldom rely upon one another, and neither singly nor 
in combination could command a force equal to 
Essex's. Nevertheless, the fact of this army marching 


from one side of the Island to the other, must not be 
accepted as a proof of success. No English army in 
Ireland did worse than it. Its rearguard was cut up 
at the Pass of Plumes, after leaving Askeaton it 
met with a reverse at Balie-en-finitere, and on the 
march through Munster was pursued and harassed 
up to the gates of Waterford. The official version 
of the campaign does not agree with private letters 
or the facts of the truce ; several Irish successes are 
not mentioned, others were given to the public as 
defeats. The unusual reticence of English writers 
upon the march through Munster is, in itself, suspicious. 
The only details admitted were, that the Royalists 
were wearied and distressed, and their companies 
incredibly wasted when they reached Dublin. 

Before concluding with Essex's army one detail 
connected with its formation raises a doubt whether 
the generally accepted belief in the martial spirit of 
the Elizabethan English does not need revision. In 
nearly all the county train bands or militia, a strong 
disinclination to go to Ireland was manifested, sums 
of from twenty to forty pounds (a fortune in those 
days) being paid for substitutes.^^ Most of the counties 
protested they were too heavily assessed on their 
quotas ; and Hereford petitioned to be exempted from 
further levies during the continuance of the Irish wars. 

Despite this aversion, indicating in itself failure in 
the object sought for, or unusual difficulty in its attain- 
ment, and the heterogeneous character and poor 
material frequently apparent in the Royalist forces, 

17 Hatfield MSS. 


victory was not always absent from their banners. 
Even during the dark period of the last few years of 
the century English commanders achieved several 
successes, and the nobles and chiefs, still adhering to 
the Queen's party, did good service in all directions. 
In addition to the successes already mentioned, 
Bingham defeated several parties of the Irish, and 
was also successful in operations in the vicinity of 
Enniskillen fort. Tyrone was surprised and lost his 
camp at Mullaghbane. and the O'Driscolls defeated a 
naval force of Munster rebels. Some of the minor 
Royalists successes stand out quite as distinctly as 
those of their opponents, notably the defence of the 
Blackwater fort (the key of Ulster) by Captain 
Williams, the incredibly stout defence of MolahifF 
Castle by Nicholas Browne, and the defeat by Captain 
Graeme of a force exceeding his own ten-fold. 

Truces. — When estimating the credibility of either 
side, or to obtain an approximately correct idea of 
the actual course of events, the constant attempts to 
conclude truces and treaties by successive Lord 
Deputies or their agents with the Irish leaders, should 
not be overlooked. The occasional refusal by the 
latter to negotiate — usually considered an indication 
of ability to command success — was influenced by the 
arrival or promise of Spanish assistance. But in 
general the negotiations conformed to the rule that it 
is not the custom of the victor to treat except upon 
his own terms, nor the vanquished to reject terms if 
incapable of further resistance. 

After, to the confederated Irish, the auspicious 


opening of hostilities in 1595, the English authorities, 
to gain time, professed a desire to negotiate. Tyrone 
consented to give audience to the Commissioners at 
the head of his army, but, remembering the fate of a 
Desmond in the same locality, would not enter a 
walled town. Eventually, a meeting took place, and 
Tyrone demanded complete cessation of attempts to 
disturb the Catholic Church, neither garrisons nor 
sheriffs to be placed in the Irish territories, which 
were to be under the control of their lawfully elected 
native chiefs, and an indemnity to him and his allies 
in all the provinces. The Commissioners having 
gained their object, suggested that the Confederates 
should lay down their arms, sue for pardon, and 
disclose their dealings with foreigners. On this 
negotiations were broken off, but the truce was 
renewed till the following April. 

Next year. General Norris and Sir Geoffrey Fenton 
were commanded to re-open negotiations with the 
Irish leader, but their efforts proved barren. Later 
Norris tried for a whole month to induce O'Donnell 
to come to some arrangement, and, after Russell's 
defeat, the new Deputy, Lord Burgh, made overtures 
to Tyrone, O'Donnell, and others. Subsequently the 
Earl of Ormond was commissioned to approach 
Tyrone, and terms similar to those mentioned before, 
with the exception of liberty of conscience, were 
acceded to by the English Council. Naturally this 
omission terminated the arrangement. In September, 
i599j when the two armies were facing each other, 
Tyrone, it is said, solicited an interview with Essex. 


The meeting took place in the mid-stream of the 
River Lagan. After some conversation between the 
leaders, a few notabilities on either side were called 
in, and Tyrone stated the terms upon which the Irish 
would lay down their arms, viz. : — Complete liberty of 
conscience ; indemnity to all the Confederates ; the 
judges, officials, and half the army in the country, to 
be Irish. Pending the ratification of these terms by 
the Queen's advisers in London, a truce for six weeks 
was concluded.'^ Before its expiration Essex had 
left Ireland. 

Though Tyrone solicited this interview, there is 
not the least doubt it was to Essex's advantage to 
obtain a suspension of hostilities. The pivot of a 
plan upon which the pacification of Ulster depended 
was the establishment of a garrison on Lough Foyle ; 
Essex was unable to spare the necessary men for this 
garrison, a confession of weakness admitted by the 
Irish to the English Privy Council, and concurred in 
by the colonels of the army,^^ for reasons no victorious 
force, or one able to hold its own, would have con- 
sidered for a moment. 

One of Tyrone's personal friends in the English 
camp was Sir W. Warren, Warren having assisted 
to abduct Tyrone's wife from the relatives in whose 
care she had been placed by her brother, Marshal 
Bagnall, and Tyrone's marriage having taken place in 
Warren's house. To this friend of the enemy, fresh 
peace negotiations were entrusted. On their com- 
pletion, Warren, in due course, reported to the acting 

13 Lombard and others. i^ Hatfield MSS. 


Governors, the Chancellor, and Sir George Carew. 
They, fearing that Tyrone, who proposed to come to 
the border of the Pale with greater forces than ever,^** 
would resume hostilities at the expiration of the 
truce, then imminent, so intimidated Warren that he 
undertook to immediately return to Tyrone, and 
dissuade him from that course. 

Within a month, as we gather from a letter to the 
Queen, Tyrone had refused any further peace, ^^ and 
had also refused, as he had previously in the interview 
with Essex, to extend the cessation of operations 
until the following May. In December of the same 
year Lord Ormond was the Acting Deputy, and a 
truce for a month was agreed to. A few days later, 
Warren delivered from Tyrone an ambiguous answer 
to the effect that he would on conditions make peace 
without O'Donnell, but would not give pledges for 
loyalty. Before resuming active operations the fol- 
lowing April, Tyrone refused terms offered by the 
new Deputy, Lord Mountjoy.22 

Even if we admit that the desire for some arrange- 
ment, shown in the prolonged peace negotiations, did 
not arise from the weakness of the English position, 
there are unmistakable indications — in their belief in 
Tyrone's ability to cut off all the English Garrisons, 
overrun the Pale, and encamp outside Dublin ; 23 in 
the contemplated abandonment to the rebels of the 
country north of Dundalk ; ^^ in the admission of 
inferiority contained in the forbearance from any 

'^ Carew's Letter to Essex, October 5. 21 Hatfield MSS. 
22 Hatfield MSS. ^ Captain Lee. ^4 Conference at Faughart, 1596. 


attempt to dispute Tyrone's almost regal progress 
from north to south of the Island in the year 1600; 
and in the despatch of Essex's grand army — that the 
Royalist arms were not so uniformly successful as is 
frequently asserted and commonly believed. That, on 
the contrary, the Irish had attained an almost general 
and complete success. 

Mountjoy's Campaign. — Until Lord Mountjoy — 
the greatest military commander at the Queen's 
disposal — as the Queen's Lieutenant, and Sir George 
Carew the Lord president of Munster, assumed the 
direction of operations, the flood of Irish success did 
not abate. Then, emboldened by the arrival of 
immense supplies and strong reinforcements under 
experienced officers, and goaded by the sarcastic 
comments of the Queen, the Royalists vigorously 
entered upon fresh military operations and negotiations. 

Openly and insidiously assailed, the weakness and 
exhaustion of the Irish did not permit a continuance 
of their aggressive tactics. They fell back on the 
defensive, and the tide of victory turned. During the 
summer the loss of Owen O'More, killed in a skirmish 
with Mountjoy's troops, caused practically the whole of 
Leinster and the Midlands to submit. In the northern 
districts comparatively little was gained by the 
Royalists. Dowcra, certainly, had landed at Derry 
and posted a few garrisons, but as a set off against 
this Sir J. Chamberlain had been killed and his 
command defeated by O'Dogherty. Tyrone was 
holding the rest of Ulster, the only sign that he was 
feeling pressure being that he had recalled the 


bonnaghts lent to the southern chiefs. O'Rourke was 
also holding his own. Farther south the strong castle 
of Carrigfoyle had been re-captured. 

Whether the very efficient secret service established 
by Secretary Walsingham had obtained accurate 
information of the Spanish plans, or their prescience 
was solely the result of a skilful forecast, in Munster 
the Queen's officers were leaving no stone unturned 
in their efforts to remove all opposition. Weakened 
by continuous defections and the withdrawal of Tyrone's 
bonnaghts, the Desmonds, Burkes, MacCarthys and 
others, though still in arms, were unable effectively 
to cope with the Royalists. Consequently when, in 
the autumn, the long-expected Spanish force landed 
at Kinsale on the south coast, in place of finding an 
Irish army ready to co-operate with them they were 
informed the nearest assistance of any value was in the 
northern province. 

Kinsale. — The last occasion upon which the forces 
of the Catholic King and the Protestant Queen had 
encountered on land, was in furtherance of schemes as 
dissimilar as the little town of Kinsale, clinging to the 
hill side at the top of a small harbour, was to the size 
and splendour of Cadiz. With the English in Cadiz 
it was simply a question of inflicting as much damage 
as possible and then retiring. By the Spaniards in 
Kinsale it was hoped, in combination with the natives, 
to eject once and for all the heretical intruders. 
Though the resolution to disembark in the land- 
locked harbour of Kinsale was a mistake, afiairs 
seemed to progress in favour of the Spaniards. They 


were received with respect, if not enthusiasm, by the 
local authorities ; the small English garrison, accom- 
panied by all the better-class inhabitants, promptly 
retiring to Cork. The two insignificant castles on 
the small peninsulas protecting the inner har- 
bour were soon captured. The town walls were 
capable of defence, and though guns and ammunition 
were wanting, two cannon had been found in the town, 
and food was abundant. 

Disappointed at not being met by the promised 
Irish army, the Spanish commander immediately 
began directly, and through his countryman the 
Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, to forward urgent 
requests to the northern leaders for an immediate 
junction. To pacify the Spaniards, O'SuUivan Beare, 
the most important local Confederate chief, offered a 
sufficient number of men to ensure them against 
surprise until the arrival of the northern Irish. But 
owing to these men being unarmed, and that part of 
the Spanish fleet which had on board the equipment 
for the Irish expected to join having been separated 
from him, the Spanish Commander was unable to 
entertain the offer. 

In the meantime the Royalists were not idle. 
Mountjoy had united his forces at Athlone and 
immediately set them in motion for the south. 
Carew also had been energetically providing stores of 
food and forage, and arresting or taking hostages 
from the Irish likely to become actively disloyal. 

These precautions proved satisfactory, and enabled 
the Royalists to march unmolested to within five 



miles of the east of Kinsale, from whence, on receiving 
reinforcements, Mountjoy moved against the Spanish 
force, and captured the eastern post of Rincorran. 
Hearing that Tyrone and O'Donnell were marching 
towards Kinsale, Mountjoy endeavoured to intercept 
the latter before a junction between the two was 
effected, but the superior marching of the Irish frus- 
trated the attempt. Before the end of the year other 
reinforcements, and the Earl of Clanricard with a 
regiment of Irish, arrived in the Royalist camp, 
making Mountjoy strong enough to completely shut 
up the invaders within the walls of the town. 

While these operations were in progress the missing 
Spanish naval division, after a fight in which both 
sides claimed the victory, had landed their men and 
stores at Castlehaven. The Munster Irish, hitherto 
restrained by Carew's measures, began to flock to 
Tyrone and O'Donnell, who had in the meantime 
joined forces, and been joined by O'Sullivan Beare's 
contingent and five hundred Spaniards. Thus favour- 
ably circumstanced with regard to numbers, they took 
up a position with the Royalists between them and 
the beleagured Spaniards. The latter had begun to 
suffer from a scarcity of provisions, and to reduce the 
numbers to be fed had obliged all non-combatants to 
leave the town. 

Prevented by the activity of the enemy from 
foraging except at night, the Royalists likewise were 
experiencing the want of provisions. Pestilence also 
had appeared in their midst, and, combined with the 
daily desertions of their native auxiliaries and 


mercenaries, reduced their numbers to such an extent 
that those available for duty had no rest from the 
sallies of the besieged and the attacks of the Irish. 
So far from entertaining any hope of expelling or 
capturing the invaders, Irish writers maintain Mount- 
joy contemplated abandoning his heavy equipment 
and retiring on Cork. 

At this juncture, with everything in their favour 
provided they could maintain the blockade, and of 
that there seemed no question, the Irish leaders were 
persuaded to submit the demand by the Spanish 
commander for instant relief, to a council of war. It 
has been said a council of war never fights ; well 
would it have been for the Confederates if they had 
not contributed an exception to this dictum. At 
O'Donnell's suggestion, but against Tyrone's advice, 
an immediate attack was determined on. Irrational 
as this determination was, the arrangements to carry 
it into effect simply invited disaster. The Con- 
federates were to concentrate and take up position 
during the night. At break of day D'Aquila was to 
sally out, join Tyrone, and, in conjunction with the 
others, fall on the Royalists. 

What followed may be briefly described. Tyrone's 
divisions marching to take up position were startled by 
hearing heavy firing in the direction they were going 
but on arriving at the appointed place found neither 
friends nor foes. When the day broke, Tyrone 
approached and surveyed the English lines. Too 
weak to hazard an attack alone, he gave the order to 
retire, and when doing so met O'Donnell's division, 


till then wandering aimlessly about through the 
ignorance of their guide. While Tyrone's infantry 
were crossing a small stream running into the Bandon 
river they were attacked by Royalist cavalry. O'Don- 
nell's cavalry came to their relief and drove the 
opposing horsemen over the ford. Thinking to destroy 
at one blow all the Royalist cavalry if they were on 
his side of the stream, O'Donnell ordered his horse- 
men to clear the ford and allow the enemy to cross. 
When executing this movement the Irish cavalry broke 
the ranks of their own infantry, and causing them to fall 
back on Tyrone's men, threw them also into confusion. 
Before the disorder could be allayed Clanricard and 
his Irish, charging them in flank, converted it into a 
panic-stricken rout. O'Sullivan's, Tyrrel's, and the 
Spanish regiment, having preserved their formation, 
fought their way clear- and retreated. The Royalists 
then retired to their entrenchments, and fired ^Lfeii de 
joie in honour of their victory. Upon hearing it the 
Spaniards, mistaking it for the signal of attack, sallied 
out from Kinsale, but were speedily driven back. 

Irish accounts explain the firing which alarmed 
Tyrone's men by the assertion that Mountjoy, being 
aware of the plan of attack, despatched a force to the 
intended rendezvous with instructions to fire as i. 
engaged, and then return. English versions do not 
mention this, but admit they received a hint of the 
meditated attack through the bibulous propensities of 
the MacMahon. That they were prepared is certain, 
but that the scheme with all the necessary details 
was disclosed through the means alleged is doubtful. 


In the native versions of the occurrences during the 
night two distinctly national characteristics appear pro- 
minently. Mountjoy's artifice, if productive of no other 
effect, had certainly shaken the spirit of Tyrone's men. 
They had heard the firing, seen the ground whereon it 
had taken place, still there was no indication of an en- 
gagement or combatants. Therefore, to them, some 
supernatural agency must have been at work. The 
Irish mercenaries and auxiliaries had been deserting as 
fast as opportunity offered, and had signified their 
intention of continuing to do so. Yet they fought 
against the very men they were to have deserted to 
with all the national vigour and want of consistency. 

These are but side lights ; there is no necessity to 
go beyond the actual occurrences to account for this 
adventitious defeat and the ensuing panic. What 
really is inexplicable, except on the supposition of 
treachery, is, that the Confederates having halted 
within eight miles of the scene of their defeat, and 
indulged in a long and acrimonious consultation, 
should have abandoned all further efforts to carry out 
the purpose which had hitherto kept them united. 

One pregnant reflection to Irishmen will be found 
in the fact, that on this, the last occasion when a large 
native force under native leaders took the field for 
purely national and not dynastic or sectarian purposes, 
their defeat was due mainly to their own countrymen ; 
Clanricard and his Connaught men practically won 
the battle. On its conclusion, " the Lord Deputy, in 
the midst of the dead bodies, conferred knighthood 
upon the Earl of Clanrickard." ^^ 

2* Pacata Hibemia. 


The Spanish force in Kinsale, unable to shake off 
the iron grip of Mountjoy, and seeing no hope of 
relief from the Irish, capitulated and were sent home 
Those who had landed from the second division of 
ships at Castlehaven and survived the fight outside 
Kinsale, carried on hostilities in the west, in con- 
junction with the Munster men. 

The struggle continued for some months longer. 
Tyrone returned to his own district and kept a regular 
force of Royalists and numerous volunteers at bay 
until, having burnt his own castle, seen his country a 
prey to famine and pestilence, and the remnants of 
his army reduced to the last extremity of want, he 
made terms. Roderick O'Donnell (who had succeeded 
Hugh Roe) successfully maintained himself in 
Tyrconnel against Lambert and other captains for 
some time, but eventually made terms also. 

On the death of the Queen the only important 
chiefs still in arms in the north were O'Rourke, 
Maguire, and MacGeoghegan. In the south the 
monotony of Royalist success was varied by 
O'Sullivan Beare's attack upon the force gathering 
for the siege of Dunboy, the heroic defence of that 
ill-fated castle, and the check to the pursuing 
Royalists near Glengariffe. Slight successes only, 
but leading up to an exploit which, considered solely 
by the light of hostile accounts, remains without 
parallel in contemporary military annals. 

O'Sullivan Beare's March.— No longer able to 
subsist in the remote corner where he had made a 
last stand, O'Sullivan Beare had the alternative of 


surrendering — tantamount to consigning all his 
followers and people to the hangman — or endea- 
vouring to reach the north, and there obtain the 
shelter his native district had ceased to afford. He 
selected the most generous course, and in the depth 
of winter, with four hundred fighting men, and six 
hundred aged and infirm men, women, and children, 
set out from Glengariffe. 

Scantily provided with the bare necessaries of life, 
but possesing ample funds obtained from the 
Spaniards), the fugitives endeavoured to purchase food, 
but so complete was the scarcity and great the terror 
created by the Royalists, the inhabitants were unable 
or afraid to traffic with them. Disappointed in their 
efforts to obtain food by legitimate means, O'SuUivan's 
men resorted to plundering. This led to resistance 
from those having insufficient for themselves, resist- 
ance provoked attack, and attacks led to reprisals. 
The hostility of their countrymen, who otherwise 
would have covertly assisted them, was not the only 
disadvantage from this unfortunate beginning : the 
delay caused by it affi)rded time to set all the local 
Royalist forces in motion. From every side they 
converged upon the fugitives, garrisons left their 
posts for the purpose of cutting them off, and their 
erstwhile besiegers followed in pursuit 

Thus menaced from all directions ; the front fighting 
for every mile of the road gained, those behind con- 
tinually beating off pursuit, the fighting men reduced 
to subsisting on herbs and water, the sentries dying 
at their posts from incessant fatigues, these brave 


men — whether rebels or patriots that honorable 
expression cannot be denied them — pressed steadily 
on, invincible in daily conflicts. 

Hunted like their native wolves, they traversed Cork 
and Tipperary, and on the seventh day, defeating 
another body of the enemy, arrived on the banks of the 
Shannon. From the slaughtered horses, whose skins 
were required to construct boats, they had one 
plenteous meal, and began crossing the deep and 
wide river. Misfortune dogged them even in this, for 
the smallest of the two boats sank and ten fighting 
men perished. The remainder crossed, to find eight 
hundred foes gathered to dispute their further 
progress. With the courage of despair, and a force 
irresistible as the mighty breakers on the Atlantic- 
washed shores of their distant homes, they over- 
whelmed these also. 

Reduced in numbers, but undismayed, they pressed 
on to Aughrim. Again attacked in force by the 
Royalists, they drove them off with the loss of their 
English leader. 

By day repelling attacks and searching for food 
in a country where the very birds and beasts found 
no sustenance ; at night, when under cover of dark- 
ness the peasantry dared guide them, the Irish left 
the shelter of bog or woody fastness, and stole by 
unfrequented ways through Roscommon and over the 
Curlew hills. At daybreak on the fourteenth day of 
their flight their guide, a man of saintly mien who 
scorned to take gold for his services, pointed out in 
the distance O'Rourke's castle of Lisbrin. They 


were safe : the survivors. Of all those that left the 
south there arrived, thirty-five men and — one woman, 
only. The remainder had fallen in the fights, strayed 
from the march, succumbed to cold and privation, or, 
in the words of Carew, had been found, " hurt and 
sick men, and their pains and lives both determined 
by the soldiers." 

End of the Wars.— With the death or sub- 
mission of the northern chiefs, and the dispersal of 
the southern forces, organized resistance ceased. The 
subjugation of Ireland was complete, as it had never 
been before, and the Elizabethan wars were at an end. 

The last act of the drama fittingly illustrates the 
characters of two of the principal performers. When 
resistance was no longer possible, thirty thousand 
pieces of gold, and two ships' load of powder arrived 
from Spain ; Tyrone and Roderick O'Donnell sent 
both back. 

Various reasons have been assigned for the collapse 
of the Irish. The want of soldierly qualities on the 
part of the men, capacity for leading on the part of 
the leaders, and the indulgence in factions and political 
animosities, have been the principal. Some are 
partially, others wholly, untrue of the vanquished. 
None of them do justice to either side ; all leave 
unnoticed the tenacity of purpose of the victors. 

Owing to their insular position, and inchoate 
nationalism, the Irish suffered from a double process 
of attrition : the effect of the Crown policy in detaching 
nobles and chiefs from the confederation, and the 
inability to replace loss in men or munitions. The 


population was small, and since the supply of Scots 
had been cut off, there were no means of replenishing 
at once the depleted ranks. Though several of the 
Irish leaders were equal to any on the other side> 
the Irish, unlike their foes, had not an apparently 
inexhaustible supply of capable officers trained to 
arms and diplomacy. Difficult as it was to obtain 
leaders and men, it was still more difficult to adequately 
arm them, so long as the English remained masters of 
the sea. 

Though nothing resembling a naval blockade was 
attempted (except at Kinsale), the task of subjugation 
was simplified, if not rendered possible, by the 
English navy retaining, not alone the power to pour in 
men and supplies to any extent necessary, and to 
restrict or prevent the Irish receiving assistance, but 
to do so at any point they chose in a country practically 
all coast line. 

In conjunction with a fleet, the operations of Sir 
Henry Dowcra round Lough Foyle seriously hampered 
Tyrone, led to the recall of the troops lent by him to 
the Munster Confederates, and contributed to the 
establishment of the ascendancy attained by Sir G. 
Carew over that province. At a critical period later 
on, the assistance rendered by Captain Harvey's 
vessels at Castlehaven, proved, from a tactical point 
of view, invaluable to the land forces. 

If we consider the stimulating effect of such help 
from Spain as did reach the Irish, we cannot doubt 
that, had the naval strength of England proved less 
than it was, the task of forcibly reducing Ireland 


would have taxed the resources of England to the 
utmost, and taken much longer to accomplish. 

These are, and must remain, matters of conjecture. 
But with regard to the Irish as soldiers, there is 
ample warranty for claiming that during the Eliza- 
bethan wars in Ireland, Irish soldiers, Royalists and 
rebels alike, asserted undeniable demands to a share 
in that military reputation since gained under every 
flag, and in every quarter of the globe, by their 


Throughout the series of sanguinary attacks and 
reprisals constituting the Irish wars of the i6th 
century, there are singularly few authenticated in- 
stances of the Irish being guilty of unusual cruelty 
or inhumanity. Time after time massacres were 
perpetrated upon them, and defeat frequently meant 
extermination. Yet, though countless opportunities 
offered, the occasions when they murdered their 
opponents, or imitated their methods of dealing with 
prisoners, were so notoriously few that, by some, their 
mildness was attributed to a pusillanimous fear of 
consequences ; from others it compelled the acknow- 
ledgment that as a people they were neither cruel 
nor vindictive. 

Instances illustrative of this national freedom from 
one of the most salient characteristics of the period 
are so frequent as to pass unheeded. It is, therefore, 
a matter of interest as well as justice, to discover 
upon what grounds an accusation has obtained general 
credence, that, if true, would not alone invalidate the 
claim made on behalf of the Irish, but would lead to 
the inference they were wanting in the ordinary 
feelings of humanity. 

Attributed to the Irish.— This accusation 
appears in a narrative professing to be the Spanish 
story of the Armada, and is to the effect: — " The wild 
Irish were tempted by the plunder, the gold chains 


and ducats were too much for their humanity, and 
hundreds of half-drowned wretches were dragged out 
of the waves, only to be stripped and knocked on the 
head, while those who escaped the Celtic skenes and 
axes too weak and exhausted to defend themselves." ^ 
. . . In another, and more ambitious work, the 
writer of this formulates a statement that, when in 
want of food and water, sick and storm-tossed, three 
thousand Spaniards from the defeated Armada were 
done to death by the people of the west coast.^ 

Before examining the evidence upon which these 
allegations rest, it is necessary to point out they are 
not supported by any of the well-known Spanish 
narratives ; neither by Captain Fernandez Duro's 
account, though this was admittedly based upon what 
he had gathered from English sources, nor by the 
particulars communicated to their Ambassador in 
France by two Spanish soldiers of the Armada who 
managed to escape and reach that country, and 
certainly not by Captain Cuellar's narrative. 

Authorities for.— As far as can be ascertained 
from the accusations themselves, they profess to 
embody the reports of Sir G. Carew, Sir R. Bingham 
Sir G. Fenton, the Hovendens, Edward White, and 
Lord Fitzwilliam. To estimate their value we require 
to know something of the personal or official standing 
of the writers, how their information was obtained, 
and whether there were any general or particular 
reasons for presenting it in the form we are familiar 
with. Carew and Bingham have been already dealt 

* Froude. ^ Froude's History. 


with. Their connection with the Armada episode 
was briefly : — 

About the time the massacres on the west coast 
were said to have occurred, Carew, as acting Master 
of the Ordnance in Ireland, was engaged surveying 
munitions of war in the various forts and castles held 
by, or for, the English. Later, we read of him 
superintending the recovery of guns from the wrecked 
Spanish vessels.^ It is obvious, therefore, the infor- 
mation he communicated to Lord Burleigh and 
Walsingham, must have been obtained from others. 

Sir R. Bingham at the same period was Governor 
ofConnaught. From his impregnable stronghold at 
Athlone went out the order to arrest, shoot, or hang, 
all and every Spanish fugitive met with. From there 
also he despatched his brother into Mayo to carry 
out similar barbarities. Though admittedly respon- 
sible, through his orders, for the execution of at least 
eleven hundred refugees, Bingham did not come into 
actual contact with any, except prisoners. 

Sir Geoffrey Fenton had been Secretary to the 
Irish Privy Council, and a confidential and secret 
correspondent of Burleigh and Walsingham. In 
1583 we find him corresponding with Walsingham 
anent the proposed assassination of Desmond, and 
there is still extant a letter of Fenton's suggesting 
the assassination of any troublesome Irish chief, not 
in easy reach.* Being in the west, and hearing that 
a number of Spaniards had landed in MacSweeney's 
country, Fenton seized Sligo Castle, and reported a 

» Calendar Carew MSS. * Life of F. MacCarthy More. 


force of two thousand Spanish moving from Lough 
Erne to attack him. 

This report of Fenton's illustrates very strongly 
the value and reliability of official communications ; 
although, at one period during the autumn, there 
really was an armed Spanish force of about the 
numbers mentioned in the locality, nothing appears 
to have been further from their intentions than an 
attack upon the fortified castle of Sligo. In the first 
place, it was a physical impossibility ; in the second, 
the Spaniards were disheartened and cowed, mad 
with the expectation of unknown and therefore doubly 
terrifying dangers. Not one of the six score vessels 
that started from Corunna but carried some noble 
and gallant gentlemen accustomed to warfare with 
the elemental forces of nature as well as with the 
enemies of their country. Yet, regardless of this 
dual experience, and the counsels and monitions of 
the numerous clerics with them, the result of the 
expedition was only too apparent. What the enemy 
had contemptuously spared was being pursued to 
destruction by the elements with a malevolent perti- 
nacity, unknown to the most experienced mariner, 
gentle or simple. To get back to Spain as speedily 
as possible was the sole desire of the leaders. Back 
to the sun and warmth was all the rank and file asked. 

The Hovendens (Anglo-Irishmen) were in com- 
mand of Royalist forces near Lough Foyle. Their 
communications to the Lord Deputy, beyond the 
information that a Spanish force had been driven 
ashore in the O'Dogherty country, are now considered 


fabrications. It will not, therefore, be necessary to 
quote them except where their action brings the 
natives on the scene. 

Edward White was, or had been, Mayor of Galway. 
An official certainly, and probably a relative of the 
then Master of the Rolls, Sir Nicholas White. 

The Queen's representative at the time was Lord 
Fitzwilliam. On hearing Spanish vessels had been 
driven ashore he issued orders to arrest or kill the 
crews. He then left Dublin " to go against them." 
Hearing further that several Irish lords of the coast 
counties had obtained treasure from the wrecked 
ships, Fitzwilliam caused two of them, MacToole 
and O'Dogherty, to be arrested and detained in 
prison. Both were well known for zeal and loyalty. 
MacToole, being in receipt of a pension for his services, 
soon obtained his release. O'Dogherty stayed in 
prison until a bribe to the Lord Deputy procured his 
release also. 

Fenton's direct information, and for the matter of 
that Fitzwilliam's also, consisted of what they could 
gather from inspecting the dead bodies and wreckage 
cast up in Sligo Bay. Beyond this they were indebted 
to their subordinates, English and Irish. To test the 
value of their information, even had there been any 
desire to do so, was practically impossible. It is now 
known that in the number of vessels, and their human 
freight, cast ashore, these informants carelessly or 
intentionally exaggerated, a proceeding justifying us 
in treating them as unreliable in other particulars. 

Official Attitude. — The well-known tendency 


of English officials to represent the Irish in the 
attitude most suitable to their own purposes has been 
already mentioned. On this occasion there was a 
more than usually important reason for a portraiture 
adapted to certain ends. On the appearance of the 
Spanish ships off the Irish coast a great commotion 
ensued among the officials. They were aware the 
direct invasion of England had failed so completely 
as to render any further attempt on similar lines 
improbable for some time. And though they were 
not aware of the terrible losses sustained by the 
Spanish fleet in doubling the north of Scotland, they 
knew that a plan existed for using Ireland as a base 
from which to invade England. To them, therefore, 
the appearance of the Spaniards presaged the execu- 
tion of this plan rather than the result of accident. 
Above all, these officials were aware that in the then 
state of the country — disaffection of the natives and 
paucity of English troops — the presence of any 
number of Spaniards would be the signal for a general 
upheaval of disaffected elements in the north, south, 
and west. Should this occur, the probable result to 
them t^as a foregone conclusion. Thus menaced, the 
first and most natural course was to prevent a junction 
between the actual and potential enemy. If this 
proved impossible, and the position of affairs seemed to 
indicate that it would, then every effort must be made 
to produce a rupture in the friendly relations existing 
between them. In every official narrative of the events 
on the Irish coast that is the key note. Carew and 
Fenton openly boasted of their reports having that 



effect, and as both were literary, and capable of 
turning phrases, they must be supposed to know. 

Events favoured the English. Dire necessity com- 
pelled the Spaniards to land in places distant from 
the protective control of those chiefs known to be 
friendly to them, but within the area of English arms 
or influence, thus enabling the latter to complete the 
work of destruction, and publish to the world at large 
whatever version of the occurrences a desire to 
embroil two of the actors in the tragedy could suggest. 

Specific Instances of Massacres.— The specific 
instances of massacres given in Froude's history 
are those at Clare Island and Burrishoole, the 
bodies seen by Fitzwilliam in Sligo Bay, and the 
murders by MacCabbe. The Clare Island incident 
bristles with improbabilities or concealment of facts. 
From Mendoza's ship all the treasure, and one 
hundred men only, were taken on shore. Though 
the ship was in a sinking condition the remainder 
of the crew and soldiers were left on board. A 
storm arose, and all on the vessel perished. Pre- 
sumably, the reason for landing the treasure was 
that in the unseaworthy condition of the vessel it was 
safest on shore. If this was the case why leave all 
but one hundred men on board ? According to 
Bingham, these men, Mendoza the commander, and 
all on the ship, were murdered to obtain the treasure. 
Consider the improbabilities involved by these state- 
ments ! Did the Irish overpower the vessel before the 
storm broke her up ? What was their object in doing 
so if the treasure was on shore ? To obtain this they 


must then have overcome the men landed. Without 
doubt if the men were landed as stated they were 
intended as a guard, and were, therefore, armed. Now 
the one thing the Spaniards were admittedly superior 
in was the number and efficiency of their small arms, 
a superiority that certainly guaranteed them against 
any successful attack from the local Irish. Clare 
Island occupies the centre, and Burrishoole may be 
described as the north shore of Clew Bay. All this 
district was in the possession of the O'Malleys — 
notorious pirates. Their chieftainess, Grana Uaile, the 
renowned Queen of the West, had a castle in the 
vicinity, and it was behind Clare Island her ships were 
accustomed to shelter from the Atlantic storms. That 
these freebooters were concerned in whatever occurred 
in the locality may well be believed. The direction 
of their participation may be imagined. One of 
them, said to have been a subordinate of Bingham's, 
was accused of killing one hundred ship-wrecked men 
with his own hand. Probably some rumour of this 
incident, and the well-known reputation of the 
O'Malleys, suggested to Bingham or his informants 
the substance of their reports. 

" The sea was not answerable for all, The cruelty 
of nature was imitated by the cruelty of man, and 
those lines of bodies showed gashes on them not 
made by rock or splintered spar."^ A gruesome 
picture, intended to convey the bodies were those 
who had fallen victims to the insensate brutality of 
their fellow-men — suggestively the Irish. They were 

' Froude's History. 


in reality the bodies of the drowned from three large 
galleons driven ashore in the Bay. Others, to the 
number of three hundred escaped, and though stripped, 
and in some cases maltreated, by the Irish, were, as 
far as possible, saved by them from "execution" by 
the English or Royalists prowling about the vicinity. 
Of this, the worst disaster of all attending the attempt 
by the Armada to weather the coast of Ireland, we 
have in the narrative of Captain Francisco Cuellar a 
curiously vivid and impartial description. 

Captain Cuellar. — Cuellar was on board one oi 
the vessels cast ashore. After the vessel broke up he 
reached the shore on a spar, and was discovered by 
two Irishmen, who concealed him under some rushes 
and grass. The next day, when wandering about in 
search of food and shelter, he was warned by the 
natives whenever any Royalists were in the neighbour- 
hood. By these sympathisers he and some compatriots 
picked up in his wanderings were passed on to a village 
of O'Rourke's. From there he was conveyed by a 
disguised priest to the castle of a subordinate chief. 
Early in the following year he was given shelter in 
the country of O'Kane, Prince of Derry, eventually 
reaching Scotland, and from thence home. From 
Cuellar we also learn that some Royalists were present 
when the galleon's people were cast ashore, and that 
by them several, who had escaped the more merciful 
waves, were plundered and hanged. He further 
records his opinion that had it not been for the 
friendliness shown by the native Irish not a single 
Spaniard would have survived the wrecks. 


Don Luzon's Division.— From the experiences 
of the Spanish division under Don Luzon, driven 
ashore near Lough Foyle, we can likewise learn 
somewhat of the treatment received from both 
Royalists and Irish. On landing, the Spaniards 
forwarded a message to the Roman Catholic Bishop 
of Down, and were invited by him to repair to his 
castle. On the way they encountered a Royalist 
force, and some fighting took place. Hemmed in and 
starving, the Spaniards, on promise of quarter and 
conveyance to Dublin, were persuaded to surrender. 
Their captors were the Hovendens, who, having 
stripped them all, put the officers aside for ransom, 
and proceeded to shoot down the common men. In 
the confusion, about one hundred and fifty escaped, 
reached the Bishop's residence, and were there 
sheltered. When the coast was clear they were passed 
on from chief to chief until sent to Scotland for greater 

Official Participation.— That other refugees, 
exclusive of those admitted to have been put to death 
by the Binghams, were massacred by or at the insti- 
gation of English and local officials there is ample 
proof The execution of the crew of a small provision 
vessel by order of Sir E. Denny, the Military 
Governor of Tralee, though indefensible even on the 
ground of a private grudge against Spaniards in 
general entertained by Denny, would pass unnoticed 
only for the significant admission in Norris's attempt 
to extenuate Denny's action ; " that there was no 
other safe-keeping for them." 


A letter published by the Historical Manuscripts 
Commission opens up a further vista of what took 
place in out-of-the-way parts, of which no official 
record was kept. Sir V. Browne, writing to the 
authorities for permission to retain the twelve horse- 
men allowed for his protection as an " Undertaker " 
mentions ; " their services upon the Spaniards.'* 
Browne had taken up land in the west of Kerry not 
far from the scene of the alleged massacres, and 
wrote a short time after the Spanish alarm, and, we 
may assume, was careful to mention the services most 
likely to be appreciated by those he was soliciting an 
indulgence from. We can imagine what the services 
of the horsemen were ! There is, further, O'Sullivan 
Beare's statement founded on information from eye- 
witnesses and residents in the localities implicated ; 
"the English killed such of the strangers as they 
caught." ^ 

When the Spaniards were able to land with any 
degree of order they were not at once overpowered 
and slain like vermin by either Royalists or Irish. 
It was only when spurned by the waves ; human 
flotsam, unarmed and defenceless ; that the nebulous 
rights then accorded the defeated or the shipwrecked 
were denied them. 

Connection of Irish Chiefs with. — Had 
the shipwrecked men been murdered to the number 
or in the manner described, some corroborative 
circumstances in the actions or events contem- 
poraneous with the massacres would be producible. 

« O'S. Beare's Ireland, &c. 


We read of one only. That O'Neill (Tyrone) wrung 
his hands over the disgrace of his country. This is 
meant to convey that the stories of massacres were 
accepted as true by such well-informed persons as the 
great northern chieftain; an implication not 
warranted by Fenton's mention of the incident in his 
report to the Privy Council ; where O'Neill is said to 
have bitterly reproached O'Donnell for doing service 
against the Spaniards. The value of the whole inci- 
dent is discounted by the fact that at the time the 
O'Donnell, an old and infirm man, was capable only 
of mourning the captivity of his son — the afterwards 
famous Hugh Roe. His wife, younger and of pas- 
sionate disposition, was moving heaven and earth for 
vengeance on the English for the same reason. Were 
other proofs required of the attitude of the O'Donnell 
sept, we find among the chiefs concerned in succouring 
the castaways was the MacSweeny, a subordinate to 
O'Donnell. So well known were MacSweeny's 
proceedings that O'Rourke sent him five hundred 
beeves to assist in feeding the Spaniards. 

That O'Neill was inclined to extend hospitality 
and protection to the Spaniards, was suspected. That 
he had actually given shelter to them was after- 
wards discovered by the interception of a letter 
thanking him for so doing, from the Spanish com- 
mander. That some of the befriended men were 
desirous of taking service with him, was also discovered. 
Another chief accused of sheltering the fugitives was 
O'Rourke, Prince of Breffny. When summoned by 
Bingham to surrender them, O'Rourke replied that it 


would be inconsistent with his honour and dignity as a 
gentleman and prince to give up men who had 
claimed the rights of hospitality. Deaf to reasoning 
of this nature, Bingham proceeded against O'Rourke, 
and reduced him to such straits that he took shelter 
in Scotland, from whence he was sent to England, and, 
without the formality of a trial, executed at Tyburn. 

Irish writers have admitted that, in addition to those 
mentioned, several chiefs when giving assistance and 
shelter to the refugees, made overtures to their 
commanders to combine against the English. Though 
declined, the fact of an alliance having been 
contemplated is opposed to the probability of any 
general or large massacre, or that the Spaniards came 
ashore in the defenceless condition that would have 
permitted it. These accounts further state that the 
English killed such of the Spaniards as were captured, 
that many remained in other districts besides 
O'Neill's, and some were sent on to Earl Bothwell 
in Scotland. 

The Irish, who entertained exaggerated ideas of 
the claims of consanguinity, considered themselves 
blood relations of the Spanish nation. A few years 
after the dispersal of the Armada, a southern chief, 
writing to the King of Spain, uses the words : " His 
people bear a hearty love and natural affection to our 
ancient, most loving kinsfolk, and the most noble race 
whereof we descend."^ Months after the remnants of 
the shattered fleet had returned to Spain, so well 
known was it that many soldiers and mariners were 
' O'SuUivan Beare. 


even then unable to get way from Ireland, that articles 
of peace with Galway chiefs usually contained the 
stipulation, " they shall forthwith deliver to the Lord 
Deputy such Spaniards, Portingalls, and other 
foreigners of the Spanish fleet, as are now amongst 

Spanish Attitude,— The following year, after 
numbers of Spaniards had returned from Ireland, and 
their government was in possession of all available 
information, their intercourse with the Irish did not 
diminish, nor was the friendly feeling interrupted. A 
Spanish invasion of Ireland was projected, and 
anxiously expected by the Irish, while no less an 
authority than Carew predicted that should it take 
place all the Irish would join them. A few years 
later, Killybegs, a port in the vicinity of which two 
Armada vessels were lost, was visited by a succession 
of Spanish vessels, landing supplies and accredited 
agents ; and within thirteen years the largest Spanish 
force that ever landed in Ireland was at Kinsale and 
Berehaven, acting in concert with the natives of the 
districts where their countrymen were supposed to 
have been so foully done to death. In the P acuta 
Hibernia a long conversation with a Spanish officer 
after the surrender at Kinsale, is given at length. 
Though abusive of Ireland and the Irish, no mention 
is made of the massacres. Finally, at the conclusion 
of the war a general exodus to Spain of nobles and 
chiefs with their families took place. To say they 
were received with open arms by all ranks and classes 
would inadequately express the warmth of their 


reception. Spanish character has never been suspected 
of forgetfulness of injuries, nor minute discrimination 
between enemies. The alleged murderers of their 
countrymen were Irish. The people they welcomed 
to their shores were of the same nationality. Admitting 
that political exigencies might have prompted the two 
Philips to ignore the massacre episodes, is it credible 
the Spanish nobles and people would have forgotten 
them so soon ? 

Tradition, which has carefully preserved many 
otherwise unrecorded incidents, is unusually silent on 
the subject of the Armada massacres. The most 
circumstantial legend was that current in Clare as late 
as the 1 8th century, in which a renegade Brehon, 
Clancy by name, Sheriff of Clare, is said to have, in 
pursuance of instructions from the Lord Deputy, put 
to death a number of Spaniards in his district. 

Figures. — The capacity of figures to prove 
anything fails in this instance, for by no process of 
manipulation can they be made to support the 
accusation. Whether supplied by Mr. Froude, based 
upon the numbers composing the force engaged, the 
number of ships, the fate of the divisions under 
Sidonia, Da Leyva, and Recalde, figures can be no 
more than approximate. Such as they are, the one 
possibility they tell most against is, that three 
thousand men were massacred on the Irish coast. 

In conclusion, unless we reject the accepted rules of 
evidence, and subscribe to a theory that the deepest 
and most abiding of human impulses are liable to be 
forgotten for no discernible reason, we must admit the 


allegation that three thousand, or any large number of 
Spaniards were massacred by the natives of the west 
coast of Ireland, not only fails for want of proof, but, 
humanly speaking, is inherently improbable. This 
improbability has not been made manifest through 
any recent discovery of new authorities or proofs. 
As a factor in the controversy, it was always present, 
and should at least have commanded hesitation or 
qualification in making the accusation, even if it had 
not caused the charge to be relegated to that oblivion 
where so much savouring of racial dislike, and religious 
rancour, has found a resting-place. 



Adventurers, English, 173. 
African expedition, 196. 
Aghadoe crozier, 60. 
Agriculture, 4, 61, 63, y6. 
Albuquerque, Duke of, 68. 
Ale, 27. 

Alfraca, engagement at, 243. 
Alliances, 122. 
Amiens, defence of, 213. 
Amusements, 69, 90. 
Anglican ascendancy, 34. 
Anglo- Irish, 60, 125, 135, 136, 

174, 189, 221, 247. 
Animals, wild, 2, 67. 

domestic, 4, n, 45, 48, 

Annaly, 14. 
Antrim, 20. 
Architecture, 57. 
Ardagh brooch, 59. 
Ardes, 170. 
Armada, Spanish, 80, 172, 174, 


massacres, 268, et seq. 

Armagh, 79, 82, 177, 235, 236. 

Archbishop of, 193. 

Armour, 240. 

Arms, 33, 218, 222. 
Army, Royalist, 89, 17S. 
Artillery, 222. 
Artizans, no. 
Askeaton, 250. 
Assizes, 115, 149. 
Aspect of country, i. 
Ath— aford, 81. 
Athenry, 81, 128. 
Athlone, 149, 270. 

Aughrim, 264. 
Austin Friars, 188. 
Austria, 210. 


Bacon, Francis, 6-^. 
Badger as food, 26. 
Bagnall, Dudley, 243. 

Marshal, 40, 123, 235, 

236, 238, 242, 246, 253. 
Bagpipes, 71, 236. 
Baldness, 22. 

Balie en finitere, fight at, 250. 
Baltinglass confederates, 157, 

204, 244. 
Baltinglass, Lord, 156. 
Barcas, 64. 

Bards, 31, 69, 70, 109. 
Barrymore country, 125, 177. 

Lord, 197. 

Beacon fires, 5. 

Beds, 45, 46. 

Belacooloon, engagement at, 

Belfast, 84. 

Lough, 147. 

Belin, King, 151. 

Bible, 187. 

Billeting arrangements, 221, 

Bingham, John, 247, 270. 

Sir R., 123, 133, 171, 

172, 247, 251, 269, 270, 274, 

275, 279, 280. 
Biscuits, Ford of, engagement 

at, 242. 
Black puddings, 26, 227. 



Blackwater battle, 135, 172, 

223, 235, 239. 
Blackwater Fort, 141, 251. 
Blackwood forest, 232. 
Blood, circulation of, 55. 
Boats, 226, 264. 
Bogs, 2. 

Bonnaghts, 221, 256. 
Bonnaght bonny, 221. 

beg, 221. 

Bookbinding, 60. 
Books, MS., 60. 
Bothwell, Earl, 280. 
Boulogne, siege of, 211. 
Brehons, 5, 97, 109. 
Bridges, 9. 
Brigands, 196. 
Bristol, 'j'^, 82. 
Browne, N., 251. 

Sir v., 278. 

Bulls, Papal, 198. 
Burgh, Lord, 243, 252. 
Burleigh, Lord, 139, 144. I45. 

158, 170, 228, 233, 270. 
Burkes, the, 63, 81, 122, 157, 

241, 243, 256. 
Burrishoole, 274, 275, 
Butlers, the, 17, 124, 125, 126, 

130. "^17, 193. 
Butter, 27. 


Cadiz, 256. 

Cahgraphy, 54. 

Calvin, 180. 

Calvinism, 181. 

Camden, 81, 224. 

Cannae, 239. 

Carbery, islets of, 4. 

Carew, Sir G., 133, 140, 161, 
162, 163, 164, 176, 214, 233, 
254, 255, 257, 258, 265, 266, 
269, 270, 273, 281. 

Carew, Sir P., 157. 

Carews, the, 136, 157. 

Carlow, 14, 212. 

Carrickfergus, 84, 148. 

Cashel, 182. 
Archbishop of, 201. 

Castles, 7, 8, 46, 226. 

Castledermot Abbey, 57, 

Castlehaven, 258, 262, 266. 

Castlemayne, 214. 

Castlepark, 47, 

Cathedrals, 7. 

Catholicism, 94, 190, 

Cattle, II, 12, 84. 

Causeways, 9. 

Cavalry, 214, 219, 241, 260. 

Cavan, 14, 219. 

Cavenaghs, 131, 212. 

Cecil, Sir R., 144, 218, 223. 

Cenci family, 39. 

Chamberlain, Sir J., 255. 

Chess, 269. 

Chichester, Sir J. 243. 

Churls, the, 25, 29, 32, 112. 

Cider, 28. 

Cistercian order, 182, 184, 188. 

Cities, 18, 248. 

Clan, constitution of, 104. 

Clandeboye, 129, 170. 

Clancare, Earl of, 125. 

heiress of, 134. 

Clanricard, Earl of, 34,40, 128, 

186, 201, 258, 261. 
Clanricard, country, 128, 
Clare, 14, 252. 

Island, 275. 

Clear, Cape, 12. 

Clergy, 94, 191, 195- 

Clerical ranks, 109. 

Clerics, foreign, 198. 

Clew Bay, 275. 

Clifford, Sir C, 128, 133 222, 

231, 241, 247. 
Climate, 10, 23, 
Clonfert, Bishop of, 34. 
Coal, 92. 

Coin and livery, 37, 125. 
Coinage, the, 85, 86. 
Coke, Chief Baron, 25. 
Coleraine, 219, 
Columkille, St., 236. 
Common Prayer, book of, 60. 
Compostella, pilgrimages to, 

Composition of Connaught, 1 70. 



Communications, 8, 154. 

Cong, cross of, 59. 

Connaught, 2, 3, 15, 34, 136, 

150, 170, 171, 172. 
Connaught, men of, 261, 270. 
Connello, camp at, 13. 
Connemara, 2. 
Contracts, loi. 
Cork city, 78, 79, 82, 88, 90, 91;, 

134, 141, 149, 257, 264. 
Cork county, 8, 1 24. 
protest ant Archbishop of, 

Cormac's Chapel, 57. 
Corn, traffic in, 11, 84. 
Corunna, 271. 
Cornwall, 181. 
Cosby, Sir F., 44, 137. 
Coshering, ^6, 40. 
Council of war, 259. 
Crannogs, 5, 16. 
Creagh, Archbishop, 51. 
Crecy, battle of, 210. 
CromwelHan occupation, 57. 
Cromwell, 210. 
Croziers, 59, 60. 
Cuellar, Capt., 92, 269, 276. 
Curlew, mountains, 231, 233, 

241, 247, 264. 
Cusack, n, 149. 
Customs, 35, 17, 63, 1 11, 153. 

Dalcais, 153. 
Da Leyva, 282. 
Daly, Bishop, 200. 
Danes, 78. 

Danish extraction, 19, 78. 
D'Arcy's Fall of Ireland, 51. 
D'Argenson, 209. 
Davies, Sir John, 116. 
Davila, 213. 
Deer, red, 2. 
Denny, Sir E., 277. 
Derry, 2, 232, 255. 
Desmond, 89, 122, 124, 175, 199, j 
206, 256. 



Desmond, Earls of, 92, 1 22, 1 25, 

134, 168, 177, 201, 224. 
Desmond, Gerald, 134, 139, 140, 

150, 157, 166, 167, 194, 201. 

Desmond, James, Earl of, 142. 

Sugaun Earl of, 163, 

Desmond, Sir James, 23: 
Devlin, 2. 

Devon, men of, 228. 
Dingen, 14. 
Distraints, ic.i, 114. 
Dissensions, 119. 
Dixon, Bishop, 200. 
Domestic administration, 

_ 43. 

Domnach Airgid, 59. 
Donegal, 20. 

Castle, 47. 

Don Luzon, 277. 
Douglas' treatise, 51. 
Dowcra. Sir H., 255, 266. 
Down, R. C. Archbishop of, 277. 
Dress, 28, 91. 
Drink, 27, 43. 
Drogheda, 78, 82, 91. 
Dublin, 2, 18, 70, 79, 82, 83, 85. 

Mayor of, 88, 90, 91, 

93, 141, 147, 150, 175, 

250, 254, 272, 277. 
Dublin Castle, 133. 

Archbishop of, 199. 

Duke, Sir H., 242. 

Dulsk, 27. 

Dun, 81. 

Dunboy Castle, 47, 214, 224, 

Dundalk, 175, 238, 254, 

Dungannon, 82. 

Baron of, 121, 127, 

Dursey Island, 233. 
D'lros, Capt., 269. 
Dutch, 213, 248. 
Droum-flinch, 235, 243. 

Earne, engagement on banks 
of, 234. 





Ecclesiastical buildings, 202. 
Eileen Aroon, legend of, 71. 
Embroidery, 69. 
Engel, attack on, 213. 
England, invasion of, 273. 
English authority, 3, 147. 
activity, 172. 

birth, 7Ty 78, 92, 148. 

clerics, 199. 

domination, 5, 98, 113, 

. 117, 119, 148, 149, 152, 171, 

English families, 136. 

officials, 9, ID, 15, 25, 

33, 38, 39, 109, III, 114, 115, 
116, 120, 136, 158, 177, 178, 
179, 200, 205, 207, 221, 246, 
252,253, 273. 

English officers, 229. 
protestants, 93, 172, 

English sea power, 266, 

settlers, 174. 

soldiers, cavalry, 220, 

227, 229, 249. 

English gallants, 68. 
Enniscorthy, 126. 
Enniskillen, 172, 251. 
Entertainment, 4, 6, 43, 44, 48. 
Episcopahanism, 181. 
Essex, Earl of, I., 12, 44, I39, 

170, 228. 
Essex, Earl of, II., 10, 40, 165, 

167, 176, 212, 228, 230, 241, 

246, 248, 253. 
Evidence in Brehon law, 102. 
Extermination, 177. 


Fairs, 72. 
Falconry, ^T . 
Family disputes, 126. 
Farmers, no. 
Farna, battle of, 231. 
Faughart, conference at, 175. 
Fenton, Sir G., 62, 252, 269. 

270, 271, 272, 273, 279. 
Fermanagh, 189, 190. 

Feuds, 118, 137. 

Financial, 155. 

Fire-customs, 35, 44, 46. 

Fish as food, 27. 

Fishing, 67. 

Fitton, Governor, 136. 

Fitzgerald. See Geraldines. 

Fitzgibbon, 140. 

Fitzmaurice, James, 126, 19&, 

Fitzwilliam, Lord Deputy, 1 50, 

201, 269, 272, 274. 

Five bloods, the, 131. 

Flanders, 144. 

Fogs, 10. 

Food, 26, 43. 

Fords, 13, 81, 230. 

Forests, 2. 

Forts, 9, 154. 

Fosterage, 41, 113. 

Four Masters, 49. 

Foxes, 2. 

Foyle, Lough, 235, 266. 271, 

France, 19, 82, 142, 209. 

Kings of, 142, 186. 

French soldiers, 213. 

Friars, 93. 186, 191. 

Fronde's history, 269, 274, 282. 

Fruit, 4. 

Fuel, 46. 

Furniture, 44. 

Furs, 30. 

Gaels, 181. 
Gaelic, Irish language, 33, 187, 

Galloglasses, sculpture of, 57, 

214, 222, 238, 241. 
Galway, 53, 78, 81, 82, 83, 128, 

Gamblers or carrows, 49. 
Gambling, 49. 
Garrans, 221. 
Geraldines, the, 17, 46, 62, 124, 

125, 126. 
German troops, 213. 
Gilbert, Commander, 242. 



Glengariffe, 262, 263. 

Glenmalure, defeat at, 163, 231. 

Glibb, the, 22. 

Glyn Castle, 214. 

Goats, II. 

Gon/aga, Fernandez, 142. 

Gort na Pisi, engagement at, 

Grana Uaile, 64, 65, 275. 
Grey, Lord, 177, 231, 244. 
Grievances, 132. 
Gurmond, King, 151, 


Hair, 22, 30, 32. 

Hannibal, 239. 

Handicrafts, 55. 

Harpers, 70. 

Harps, 71. 

Harrington, defeat of, 232. 

Harvey, Capt., 266. 

Hawks, 68. 

Head dress, 32. 

Henry 8th, 38, 89, 142, 148, 149, 

186, 197, 211. 
Henry 2nd, 136, 151. 

3rd of France, 38, 

Heralds, Bards as, 3 1, 

Hereford, 250. 

Heresy Acts, 195. 

History, 109. 

Hcbellers, 221. 

Hogs, wild, 2. 

Hollinshed, 12. 

Honey, 27. 

Horse boys, 49, 217. 

Horsemen, figures of, 57. 

Horses, 4, 11, 62>, 69, 84, 90, 221. 

Hospitality, 43, 49. 

Hounds, 67. 

Houses of chiefs and gentry, 7, 

Hovendens. the, 269, 271, 277. 
Hurling, ']2. 
Husbandry, 4. 
Huts, 6, 7. 

Inchiquin, 129. 

Inisowen, 127, 

Inns, 43, 82, 

of Court, 54. 

Internal dissensions, 140. 

Ireland, i, 3, 11, 12, 18, 19, 21, 
24, 54, 57, ^^, 76,97, 176. 

Irish, the Confederates, 65, 141, 
196, 197, 19S, 202, 225, 234, 
235, 236, 238, 239, 241, 251, 
253, 255, 256, 257, 259, 260, 
261, 265. 

Irish, the border, 75. 

and the coinage, %6. 

as horsemen, 68, 220. 

7Z. 7S' 76, 77, 80, 84, 

85. 90, 112, 119, 131, 132, 146, 
158, 174, 268, 274. 

Irish clerics, 181, 199. 

chiefs, 113, 145, 148, 150, 

151, 158, 278r 
Irish, old, 135. 
Irish prelates, 143, 187, 201. 

sailors, 64, 66, 241. 

soldiers, 135, 171, 204, 208, 

2 1 8, 226, 230, 246, 267. 

vessels, 64. 

i Iron, 60. 
Italian gunners, 223. 
Italy, 196. 

Jesters, 49, 71. 
Jesuits, 92. 
Justices, Lords, 239. 


Kearney, W., Printer, 188. 

Keeners. 72. 

Kells, 182. 

Kernes, 211, 214, 2161 

Kerry, 12, 15, 17, 125, 149, 150, 

168, 278. 
Kettledrums, 226. 




Kildare, Earl of, 124, 233. 

men, 62. 

Thomas, Lord of, 42, 

Kildare, See of, 200. 
Kil, meaning of, 81. 
Killeshin, Chapel at, 57. 
Killybegs, 281. 
Kilkenny, 81, 151. 
Kilmallock, 81, 144, 232. 
Kilt, 29. 
Kings, 105, 106. 

Kingsale's, Lord, regiment, 211. 
Kinsale, 28, 124, 133, 135, 176, 

196, 197, 224, 227, 248, 256, 

258, 260, 266, 281. 
Kinship, 42, 1 04. 
Knox, 186. 

Lacy, Noble, 1 26. 
Lagan, river, 253. 
Land, 3, 4, 102, 104, 172, 
Lands, church, 1 52, 
Language, 33, 60, 109, 199. 
Latin, 33, 34, 35, 51 > 54» 187, 

Law, 34, 109, IIS, 121. 
Laws, ancient, 39, 96, 97, 99. 

civil, 1 01. 

land, 102, 113, 117. 

Leaders, Irish, 234, 240, 266. 

Learning, 49, 53- 

Lee, Capt. T., 116, 167, 168. 

Leechcraft, 54. 

Leicester, Earl of, 212, 

Leighlin, 243. 

Leinster, 32, 255. 

Leix, 2, 137, 232. 

Leprosy, 24. 

Limerick, 2, 78, 81, 82, 83, 88^ 

89,92, 124, 149, 195. 
Lis, 81. 

Lisbrin castle, 264. 
Liturgy in English, 60, 94. 
Lixnaw, 244. 

lady of, 135. 

Locality and defeats, 230. 

Lollard movement, 1 84, 
London, 156, 185, 199, 

soldiers of, 227. 

Longford, 14. 

Lord Deputy, 13, 31, 88,91,121, 
156, 159, 160, 194, 261, 271, 
281, 2S2. 

Louth, 14. 

Low countries, 211, 228, 235. 

Luther, 186. 

Lutheran testament, 187. 

Lyon, Bishop, 184. 


Macaulay, Lord, 209. 
MacCabbe, 274. 
MacCarthy, Donal, 1 40, 241 . 
Florence, 52, 62, 70, 

134, 135, 138, 163, 167. 
MacCarthy, septs, 62, 108, 127, 

MacCoghlan, 127. 
MacEgan, 53. 
MacGeoghegan, 262. 
MacPhelim, Sir B., 12. 
MacSweeney, 279. 
MacSwynies, 215. 
MacToole, 272. 
Magrath, Miier, 201. 
Maguire, Prince of Fermanagh, 

127, 128, 133, 234, 237, 240, 

241, 242, 262. 
Malby, Sir W., 270. 
Mallow, 2. 
Malt Liquor, 83. 
Mantle, the, 30. 
Marauders, 48, 73, 75. 
Maritime 64, 65, 66. 
Marriages, 20, 37, 11 4 
Massacres, 43, 268. 
Maynooth Castle, 42, 46. 
Mayo, 247, 270. 

Viscount, 65. 

McGuinness, 32. 
McMahon, 28, 128, 260. 
McSorley, 22, 
McWilliam, Fighter, 52. 




]Me3d, 27. 

Meath, 14, 128, 190, 247, 

Mechanics, 1 10. 

Medicine, 55. 

Mellifont, 183. 

Mendoza, 274. 

Metal carving, 51. 

working, 50. 

Mint, the, 85. 
Minors, 161. 
Monaghan, 14. 
Monasteries, 7, 43, 191. 
Monastir-Nenay, 232. 
Money, 13, 87. 
Moryson, 62, 83, 216, 246. 
Mountjoy, Lord, 176, 212, 228, 

229, 254, 255, 257, 258, 259, 

260, 261. 
MuUaghbane, 251. 
Munster, 12, 15, 16, 92, 94, 173, 

193, 244, 250. 
Munsterinsurgents, 65, 251, 258, 

Musical instruments, 56. 
Music, 109. 
Musicians, 69, 109. 


Nationality in towns, 78. 
Naval war, 83. 
Newark, battle of, 211. 

Castle, 46, 223. 

New Ross, 18. 
Newsboys, 49. 
Nobles, Irish, 108, 137, 141. 

Scotch and English, r 39. 

Norfolk, Duke of, 139. 
Norman invasion, 19, 182. 

nobles, 20, 97. 

Irish nobles, 33, 38, 

113, 126, 141, 150, 151, 188, 

Norris, Sir John, 229, 246, 252, 

Norris, Thomas, 243. 
Northumberland, Duke of, 140. 

Nugent's plot, 163. 
Nugent, Sir C, 132. 

Oaths, 35, 59. 

O'Briens, 127, 129, 153. 

O'Bymes, 79, 205. 

O'Carrolls. 97, 122, 130. 

O'Coffeys, 52. 

O'Cler^'s, 52. 

O'Connors, 58, 113, 131, 132. 

Don, 129. 

Faly, 122. 

O'Curry. 70. 

O'Daly, 52, 71. 

O'Davorens, 53. 

O'Dogherty, 255, 271, 272. 

O'Donnell, 32, 127, 128, 129, 
135. 142, 152, 279. 

O'Donnell, Hugh Roe, 28, 130, 
132. 139, 164, 165, 236, 237, 
238, 240, 241, 247, 248, 252, 
254, 258, 259, 262, 277, 279. 

O'Donnell, Nial Garve, 130, 140. 
Roderick, 262, 265. 

O'Driscoll, Sir Fineen, 12. 

Sept. 65., 

Offally, 14, 43, 137, 241. 
O'Farrells, 98, 127. 

Country, 128 

Offences, 99, loo. 

Officials, 34, 35, iZ, 39, 157, 159, 

160, 161, 173. 
O'Hanlon, 169, 237. 
O'Kane, 276. 
Ollamhs, 109 
O'Malley, 64, 65, 275. 

Grace, 64, 275. 

O'Morras, 113, 131, 233, 244. 
O'Moore, Country, 62. 
O'More, Rory Oge, 40, 240, 241. 

O'Neill, 44, 62, 108, 121, 122, 

125, 126, 127, 142, 152, 157. 
O'Neill, Shane, 28, 46, 121, 123, 

138, 144, 145, 151, 153, 167, 

1^9, 194, 201, 233, 234, 245, 




O'Neill, Turlough, 121, 137. 
Ordeal by combat, 132. 
O'Reilly, 22, 127, 2 38. 
Ormond, Earl of, 34, 40, 132, 

139, 167, 177, 233, 247, 254. 
Ormond, district, 244. 
Ornaments, 30, 59. 
O'Rourke, 17, 22, 52, 128, 129, 

133, 139, 140, 240, 241, 262 

264, 270, 279, 280. 
Osborne, Capt., 212, 
O'Shyies, 215. 
Ossory, Bishop of, 187. 

Earl of 193. 

O'Sullivan Beare, 17. 

march of, 262, 205, 

O'Sullivan, The, 224. 

Donal, 244,257, 258. 

O'Toole, 79. 
Oxford, 54, 138. 

Pale Territory, 5, 17, 72, 73, 74, 
75, III, 113, 126. 147, 150, 
154, 156, 202, 225, 245, 254. 

Papacy, see Rome. 

Parochial system, 191. 

Paris, 54. 

Parliament, 34, 148, 160, 167, 

Parliament robes, 31. 
Pass, 230. 

of Plumes, 231, 241, 250. 

Peace negotiations, 252, 254. 
Perrott, Sir John, 84, 132, 165, 

200, 214, 224, 243. 
Philosophy, 109. 
Philip II. of Spain, 130, 143, 

144, 282. 
Philip III. of Spain, 144, 282. 
Physicians, 55, 109. 
Piers, Captain, 121. 
Pipers, 219. 
Piracy, 65, 80. 
Plagues and pestilences, 24, 90, 


Poetry, 109. 

Political administration, 142. 

Popes, 145, 140, 184, 19s. 197, 

Population, 16. 
Portingalls, 281. 
Portugese, 196. 
Potato, the, 27. 
Power, Lord, 136, 
Priests, 22, 92, 98, 109. 
Printing, 60. 90, 188. 
Privy Council, reference to, 34, 

52, 84, ^7, 89, 97, 98, 133, 

140, 160, 166, 172, 188, 211, 

215, 224, 225, 270, 279. 
Products of country, 11, 13. 
Professional class, 109. 
Property, 105. 

ecclesiastical, 188, 

Protestant Archbishop, ist, 188. 
refugees, 169, 174, 



Queen Elizabeth, 3, 11, 16, 93, 
94, 118, 124, 127, 140, 146, 
150, 152, 154, 157, 162, 166, 
167, 173, 177, 186, 187, 192, 
195, I97j 198, 200, 201, 206, 
222, 229, 254, 255, 262. 

Queen Mary, 144, 193, 195. 

"Queens," "the, 154,245 

Radclifife, 133. 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 51, 55, 144, 

161, 212, 216, 223, 225, 228. 
Randolph, Commr., 232. 
Rank or social position, 105. 
Rathlin, massacre at, 139. 
Raths, 6. 

Recalde, Spanish Admiral, 282. 
Recitations, 109. 
Reformation, the, 53, 142, 182, 




Reformed services, 93. 

Religion, 92, 120, 180, 190, 192, 
202, 203. 

Rent, 103. 

Rhymers, 69, 70. 

Roads, 48. 

Rome as Catholic Church, 38, 
no, 146, 159, 180, 181, 184, 
185, 187, 188, 193, 196, 199, 
204, 205, 252. 

Roscommon, 264. 

Roses, Wars of the, 210. 

Royalists, Commanders, &c., 64, 
222, 224, 227, 230, 236, zz'i, 
241, 246, 250, 251, 255, 257, 
258, 259, 260, 262, 263, 271, 
276, 277, 278. 

Russell, Cap^., defeat of, 264. 


Saxon women, 19. 
Schools, 53, 202. 
Scotland, 276, 277, 280. 
Scotch, 145. 

clerics, 199. 

Scoto-Gaels, 17, 66, 121, 169, 

172,217, 247,266. 
Scots, Kings of, 145. 

Mary Queen of, 38,74,123, 

Sculptors, art, 57. 
Septs, 104, 126. 
Settlements, 168. 
Sermonetas, Cardinal, 184. 
Shannon, 264. 
Sheehan, Bishop, 200. 
Sheep, II. 
Shipwrights, 84. 
Shrines, 6, 7. 

as reliquaries, 58, 59. 

Sidney, Sir H., 5, 17, 28, 52, 6;, 

81, 124, 127, 150, 153, 156, 

164, 199, 205, 244. 
Sidney, Sir P., widow of, 40, 
Sidonia, Spanish Admiral, 282. 
Silken, Thomas. See Kildare. 
Simnel, 211. 
Skins, use of, 226, 264. 

Sligo Bay, 272, 274, 

Castle, 271. 

Smerwick, 51, 144, 161, 172, 

196, 234. 
Smith, Sir T., 170. 
Society, Irish, 96, 104. 
Soldiers, English, 11, 86, 169, 

171, 212, 235, 247. 
Sorren, 221. 
Spain, 19, 66, 86, 133, 141, 143, 

144, 151, 159, 196, 209, 210, 

266, 271, 281, 2S2. 
Spain, King of, 6%, 82, 206, 224. 

Charles V, of, 142. 

monarch of, 1 86. 

Spanish Armada. See Armada. 

ambassador, 144. 

arm^^, 143, 176, 213, 224. 

clerics, 199. 

commanders. 163, 257, 


Spanish soldiers, 144, 197, 223, 
251, 256, 258, 260, 262, 274. 

Spenser, 25, 51. 94, 98, 173, 177, 
178' 224. 

Sport, 67. 

Stacks, murder of, 135. 

Stanhurst, 33. 

Stanley, Sir W., 221. 

St. Leger, Lord Deputy, 32, 146. 
SirWarham,2i2, 242. 

Stoke, marine plant, 27. 

Stukeley, T., 196. 

Supremacy, Act of, 186, 188. 

Sussex, Lord, 108, 123, 233. 

Swine, 11. 

Synods, 182. 

Tanistry, 98. 106, 121. 
Tanists, 5, 107. 
Tara, 8. 

brooch, 59 

Psalter of, 105. 

Teampuls, 6. 

Tenure, fixity of, 103. 

Tents, 226. 

Territorial magnates, 166. 



Thomond, Earl of, 129, i ^6^ 262. 

O'Brien of, 186 
Tithes, 153, 156. 
Tipperary, 2, 97, 264. 
Tonsure, 22. 
Towns, 6, 20, 77, 79, 80, Z6, 88, 

89, 91, 94, 226, 248. 
Tracts, religious, go. 
Trade, 82, 92. 
Tralee, 149, 277. 
Transport, 231. 
Treasure, Spanish, 272, 274. 
Trees, 2. 
Tribute, 147. 
Trim, Castle of, 47. 
Trimblestown, Lord, 156. 

son of, 241. 

Trinity College, 54. 
Truces, 251. 
Trumpets, bronze, 226. 
Truthfulness, 25. 
Tyburn, 280. 

Tyrconnell, Prince of, 136, 172, 
country. 136, 190, 

Tyrone, 190. 

ist Earl of, 186. 

Earl of, 17, 121, 123, 

129,135, 136, 138, 139, 141, 
145, 154, 159, 163, 194, 205, 

223, 224, 225, 234, 23s, 236, 
237. 239. 245, 249, 251, 252, 
253, 258, 259, 260, 262, 265. 

Tyrrell, Capt , 240, 260. 
Tyrrellspass 23 i, 241. 


Ulster, 2, 3, 15, 141, 169, 190, 

224, 251,253. 
Undertakers, settlers known as, 

13,168,169, 175,278. 
University chairs, I99- 
Universities, Spanish, 195. 
Uriel, 14. 
Usquebagh, 28. 


Vagrants, 49- 

Valladolid, College of, 197. 

Vatican, 196, 199. 
Vessels, Irish, 64. 
Villages, 6. 
Virgin Mary, 192, 198. 

Queen, 65. 

Voltaire, 209. 


Wales, 181, 264. 

Walsh, Nicholas, 61. 

Walsingham, 163, 256, 270. 

Warbeck, 211. 

Warren, Sir W., 253, 254. 

Wars, effect on towns, 95. 

Elizabethan, 210. 

Waterford, 14, 93, 125, 250. 

City, 81, 82, 88, 90. 

Welsford, Sir T., 170, 228. 
West Cork, 15. 

West, islets of, 4. 
Wexford, 78. 
Wheat, 27, 62. 
Whiskey, 27. 
White, E., 269, 272. 
White, Sir Nicholas, 272. 
Wicklow, 14, 230. 

hills, 79, 232. 

WilUams, Capt, 250. 

Willis, Sheriff, 1 36. 

Wingfield, Master of Ordnance, 

Wolves, 2. 
Women, references to, 19. 21, 

29, 40, 41, 68, 69, 77, lOi, 135. 
Women in garrisons, 20. 

in towns, 92, 93. 

Wood carving, 57, 58. 
Woods, 2, 4, 9, 230. 

Yorkists, 212. 
Yorkshire, 248. 
Youghal, 124. 

Zouch, Capt., 244. 

Zutphen, engagement at, 212. 

Cppes or Celtic Eire 
and Hrt 



lassical Scholar, University Student, Large 

lallist. Fellowship Prizeman, &c., of Trinity 

Author of " Clement of Alexandria,'^ and 

ery of the Cross." Translator of S. 

J, City of God, and Rector of Kinnitty 

vn 8vo., 3s. 6cli 

5cussed in this entertaining volume are : — 
A oes, Ulidians, Goidels, and Erna; The 
it Inhabitants; The Druids; The Ogam 
icient Forts and Dwelling Places; The 
ure of the Early Ages; The Ancient 
Art ; Ancient Irish Society, its Classes, 
of its Peculiar Customs; The Ancient 
The Ancient Irish Judge ; The Irish 
r; Celtic Monuments; Irish Tombs, 
ira's Halls ; An Ancient Celtic Settle- 
—t and the Norman ; The Fusion of the 



Thomond, Earl of, 129, 1 36, 262. 

O'Brien of, 186 
Tithes, 153, 156. 
Tipperary, 2, 97, 264. 
Tonsure, 22. 
Towns, 6, 20, Tj, 79, 80, 86, 88, 

89, 91, 94, 226, 248. 
Tracts, religious, 90. 
Trade, 82, 92. 
Tralee, 149, 277. 
Transport, 231. 
Treasure, Spanish, 272, 274. 
Trees, 2. 
Tribute, 147. 
Trim, Castle of, 47. 
Trimblestown, Lord, 156. 

son of, 241. 

Trinity College, 54. 
Truces, 251. 
Trumpets, bronze, 226. 
Truthfulness, 25. 
Tyburn, 280. 

Tyrconnell, Prince of, 136, 172, 
country. 136, 190, 

Tyrone, 190. 

ist Earl of, 186. 

Earl of, 17, 121, 123, 

129, 135, 136, 138, 139, 141, 
145, 154, 159, 163, 194, 205, 
223, 224, 225, 234, 235, 236, 
237. 239, 245, 249, 251, 252, 
253, 258, 259, 260, 262, 265. 

Tyrrell, Capt , 240, 260. 
Tyrrellspass 23 i, 241. 


Ulster, 2, 3, 15, 141, 169, 190, 

Undertakers, settlers known as, 

13,168,169, 175,278. 
University chairs, I99- 
Universities, Spanish, 195. 
Uriel, 14. 
Usquebagh, 28. 


Vagrants, 49- 

ValladoUd, College of, 197. 

Vatican, 196, 199. 
Vessels, Irish, 64. 
Villages, 6. 
Virgin Mary, 192, 198. 

Queen, 65. 

Voltaire, 209. 


Wales, 181, 264. 

Walsh, Nicholas, 6r. 

Walsingham, 163, 256, 270. 

Warbeck, 211. 

Warren, Sir W., 253, 254. 

Wars, effect on towns, 95. 

Elizabethan, 210. 

Waterford, 14, 93, 125, 25*' 

City, 81, 82, 8 

Welsford, Sir T., 170, 228. 
West Cork, 15. 
West, islets of, 4. 
Wexford, 78. 
Wheat, 27, 62. 
Whiskey, 27. 
White, E., 269, 272. 
White, Sir Nicholas, 272. 
Wicklow, 14, 230. 

hills, 79, 232. 

WiUiams, Capt., 250. 
Willis, Sheriff, 1 36. 
Wingfield, Master of Ord 

Wolves, 2. 
Women, references to, 

29, 40, 41, 68, 69, 77, i< 
Women in garrisons, 20. 

in towns, 92, 93 

Wood carving, 57, 58. 
Woods, 2, 4, 9, 230. 


Yorkists, 212. 
Yorkshire, 248. 
Youghal, 124. 

Zouch, Capt, 244. 
Zutphen, engagement 

cppes or Celtic £ire 

and Hrt. 



Formerly Classical Scholar, University Student, Large 
Gold Medallist^ Fellowship Prizeman, &c., of Trinity 
College. Author of " Clement of Alexandria,'' and 
** The Mystery of the Cross." Translator of S. 
Augustine's City of God, and Rector of Kinnitty 

Crown 8vo., 3s. Gdi 

Among the topics discussed in this entertaining volume are : — 
The Three Free Tribes, Ulidians, Goidels, and Erna; The 
Religion of the Ancient Inhabitants; The Druids; The Ogam 
Mode of Writing; Ancient Forts and Dwelling Places; The 
Ecclesiastical Architecture of the Early Ages; The Ancient 
Celtic Schools and their Art ; Ancient Irish Society, its Classes, 
Regulations, and some of its Peculiar Customs; The Ancient 
Irish Chief and Lady ; The Ancient Irish Judge ; The Irish 
Bard and Bardic Order; Celtic Monuments; Irish Tombs, 
Towers and Crosses ; Tara's Halls ; An Ancient Celtic Settle- 
ment (Killaloe) ; The Celt and the Norman; The Fusion of the 

The Foundation of the Hospital and 
Free School of King Charles 11.. 


Known as the Blue Coat School, with notices of some of its 
Governors, and contemporary events in Dublin. 


The Rig:ht Hon. SIR F. R. FALKINER. K.C.i 

Some time Recorder of Dublin. 


The King's Hospital, which is the first and only School of Royal 
Foundation in Dublin, was from its origin and till the passing of the 
Municipal Coi'porations Act, 1840, under the direct government of the 
Municipal Authority. It owed its birth to the sad condition of the country 
after the twenty years of war and rebellion in the time of Charles I. and 
the Commonwealth, and obtained its Charter from Charles II., through 
the influence of the Duke of Ormonde and his son Lord Ossory, after the 
Restoration. The object of the boob, whilst tracing the annals of the 
School during its connection with the city, is to show its connection all 
through with the government of the city and incidentally with the great 
events and personages of the country during the above period. 


DROM AN A : "^"^ ^Timity! '" '"''^ 



(Theresa Villiers Stuart). 
Crown 8vo, Illustrated, 5S< net. 

" This unpretentious volume possesses the prime quality, often absent from 
books of this kind, of being thoroughly enjoyable. It is a bright, racy, 
readable account of the Irish Fitzgeralds and their descendants. The volume 
is well illustrated with views and portraits .... is well printed on good 
paper and is appropriately bound in Emerald Green." — Glasgow Herald. 

" The authoress has given us in this book a very readable record of family 
history. The part which the Geraldines played throughout the different 
centuries of warfare in Ireland is, indeed, a considerable part of the history of 
Ireland itself. We think we have said enough to induce all those who are 
interested in Irish family history to buy a copy of 'Dromana,' which indeed 
is a most valuable work strikingly illustrated." — Kerry Evening Star. 

"Dromana on the Blackwater is an ancient and finely placed seat of the 
Fitzgeralds, where their descendants have held possession for five centuries. 
One cannot wonder that Mrs. Muir MacKenzie, herself a dnuq^hter of the old 
house, has been inspired by the venerable portraits and the ancient within its 
walls to tell its story. Thomas Carlyle brought away from the Castle of 
Dromana the happiest of his Irish memories. Mrs. Muir MacKenzie has thrown 
round it the air of romance and of genuine history. " — Scotsman. 

" The gifted authoress of the work informs the reader in her foreword that 
these memoirs were gathered together in a great measure for the sake of 
making a link between the past generation to whom Dromana descended in 
unbroken succession for five hundred years and generations yet to be bom. 
That she has fulfilled that aim the pages of the handsome volume before us 
ainply prove, and we believe her trust is not misplaced, that a large circle of 
readers will be found for these mtxciO\x%.''''—WaterfordNe^vs. 

"The subject teems with interest, being the ramified history of the 
Geraldine family." — Ccn'k Cottstitution. 

"The writing of this book has evidently been a labour of love to the 
Author. Posterity will thank her for her labour."— /r/V/ Times. 

"Mrs, Muir MacKenzie's charming story of the illustrious owners of 
Dromana is preferable to a ponderous family \i\%\.QX^:'—lndependeni, 

The bloody BRIDGE, 

and Other Papers relating to the Insur- 
rection of 1641. (Sir Phelim O'Neiirs 



Author of *'The King of Claddagh." 

This work embodies a course of studies on the chief aspects of 
a movement which has been strenuously distorted and misrepre- 
sented by so-called historians from the days of Jones and Temple 
to those of Carlyle and Froude, or even later. 

The special feature will, perhaps, be found in the very great 
amount of matter extracted by the Author from T.C D. MSS. — 
Depositions, Letters, Diaries, Despatches, etc. — and more 
especially in the uses to which, in the present undertaking, these 
are applied. 

Whereas, heretofore, the prevalent notion has been that the 
Depositions relating to the Insurrection of 1641 constitute ''the 
eternal witness " of an " Irish St. Bartholomew," the present 
Author's contention, is, that, on the contrary — and in spite of 
the original purpose— the refutation of such a charge may be 
found in the very papers which the Temple-Froude school of 
writers claim as their own. 

That the worst things connected with the Insurrection were due 
more to State policy than to any design on the part of the 
Insurgents is shown in the Tenth Paper. 

" The book is, indeed, a very effective piece of special pleading, and will 
have to be carefully considered by all future historians of Ireland, who aim at 
being accurate and above partisanship."— ^^r^a^or. 

" To the students of the painful confused chapters of Irish History, it will be 
of considerable value." — Antiquary. 

" It will be of the greatest importance that all possible light should be thrown 
upon these depositions, and the manner in which they were obtained."— 
Literary World. 


From the Earliest Times to the Accession and First 
Presidential Message of His Excellency Theodore 

In Forty-six Chapters, with Copious Notes and References. 
By the Very Rev. John CAnon O'Hanlon. With Sixty Por- 
traits of Illustrious Americans, Twenty-live War Maps, and 
Complete Coloured Map of the United States. Preface and 
Table of Contents, pp. i. to xxiv. Text of Chapters and Notes, 
pp. I to 667. Appendix and Index, pp. i. to Ixxxviii. Imperial 
4to. 25s. 

*' The research involved hi «he preparation of this work must have been very 
great, and the volume is a notable achievement of industry and knowledge. 
In addition to the tremendous range covered by this beautifully printed 
volume, it is furnislied with 60 portraits of men whose names take a prominent 
place in the History of the United States, with 25 War Maps, a general Map 
of the States, an appendix that would represent a moderately sized volume in 
itself, and an index, a single page of which suggests a comprehensive encyclo- 
paedia rather than a history of a country, the authentic story of which only 
runs a few centuries in duration. — NoHhern Whig, Belfast. 

" We heartily congratulate Canon O'Hanlon on this latest product of his 
industrious pen. The amount ot reading and research that this work gives 
evidence of is stupendous, and we thank the author for the diligence which 
has provided us with a work long desired — a full and accurate history of the 
origin and development of the great American Republic. As the title of the 
book may mislead our readers, we inform them that Canon O'Hanlon's work 
is a comprehensive histc^ry of the great North American territory and peoples 
long before the United States had left the regions of possibiUty, to the first 
years of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency. Thus the opening chapter deals 
with the early Irish traditions of Hy-Breasail, the great Western Land, the 
Scandinavian traditions on the same, and the voyages of our early Irish saint 
and hero mariners in search of the Land of Promise. The probability of St. 
Brendan's acquaintance with America, and of an early Irish Christian settle- 
ment there, is discussed with much learning and research, and the sketch of 
the growth of the Brendan literature and of the influence of the Brendanite 
traditions m European voyagers — on Christopher Columbus and Vespucius— 
is as interesting as it is profound." — Irish Ecclesiastical Record. 

" That every useful work bearing upon the work has been consulted, is 
demonstrated not only in the text, but in some three or four thousand 
notes and references." — T/ie NationalisU 


Chapters towards a History of Ireland in the reign of 
Elizabeth, being a portion of the History of Catholic 
Ireland. By DON Philip O'Sullivan Bear. 
Translated from the Original Latin by MATTHEW 
J. Byrne. Demy 8vo. CI. Boards. 7s. Gd. 

"Will no doubt be justified by becoming of importance to the Irish 
Historian of the future." — Spectator. 

" A work of no small value, which is interesting not only from the wider 
historical point of view, but for the many side lights it throws on the minor 
details of the life of the period." — Antiquary. 

"There is no more fascinating epoch in Irish History than this." — 

Dundalk Democrat. 

' ' A very valuable production. Of Mr. Byrne's style of translation we 
caimot speak too highly." — Cork Sun. 

'* One of the most important pieces of contemporary history relating to 
the troubled and exciting period of the Elizabethan Wars in Ireland." — 
Literary World. 

*' The book is valuable to the historian as giving impressions of the exiled 
Irish Chief, and the sort of information given in Catholic Europe about the 
state of Ireland." — The Athenceum, 

*' Mr. Matthew J. Byrne is to be congratulated on the distinguishing 
excellence of his translation of this section of the historical writings of Don 
Philip O'Sullivan Bear."— TVz^ Cork Constitution. 

•'The Story of the Rebellion, as O'Sullivan sets it forth, is full of interest 
for the historian and the philosopher. National character changes but little 
with time." — New Ireland. 

" An exhaustive index increases the usefulness of the book, as well as the 
appendix on Irish Arms. The text also is illustrated by a reproduction of an 
old Map by John Norders, between 1609 and 161 1, now preserved in the 
State Paper Office, London." — Westmeath Independent. 

" The book is a most interesting one. The opening pages provide an 
index to the complete work of O'Sullivan Bear, from which we see that the 
earliest chapters were introductory, and dealt with such subjects as the 
situation and characteristics of Ireland, St. Patrick's Purgatory, the Irish 
Language, the customs and religion of the Irish, and an outline of the English 
invasion, with the beginning of the heretical tyranny, of which our author 
always speaks so bitterly. I am very pleased with the translator's preface, and 
with the general map in which he has set out O'Sullivan Bear's original title 
page, and dedication to the King of Spain, together with his eloquent and 
poetical address to the Catholic Reader. This is a book not to be perused, 
but to be read, that one may muse on the lesions it contains, lessons applicable 
to every moment of the present hour." — United Irishman. 


Or, Ireland's Ancient Schools and Scholars. 

From the time of St. Patrick down to the Anglo- 
Norman Invasion, with Maps, etc. By the Most Rev. 
John Healy. D.D., LL.D., Archbishop of Tuam ; 
Commissioner for the Publication of the Brehon Laws ; 
ex-Prefect of the Dunboyne Establishment, Maynooth 
College. New Edition, Revised and Enlarged. 

Royal 8vo„ 7s. 6cl. 

" The work is arranged v/ith the comprehensive and lucid ^rasp of 
history that can come only out of a deep and intimate knowledge of 
the subject."— Tafe/e/. 

*' It contains a mine of historical wealth, richer than the student of 
the ancient and ecclesiastical history of Ireland will find elsewhere." — 
Freeman's Journal. 

" How much charm there must be about such records, told as the 
story is, in a style of great clearness, and narrative perfection, we 
need not suggest."— Z)az7y Express. 

" Dr. Healy's book deserves all the praise that we can give it." — 
Saturday Review. 

"This book will be gratefully accepted as the best handbook 
on an important subject which has yet appeared." — Irish Times. 




Fourth Edition, Revised and Enlarged, ^ 

with Maps - - - 

" As a contribution to the early history of Ireland it stands unparalelled." — 
Irish Times. 

" We welcome most cordially Lady Ferguson's delightful treatise." — 
Freeman^ s /ournal. 

'* The work is probably the best accessible to the general reader, which 
gives the traditional story of Ireland's greatness in the 'heroic ages.'" — 

" Worth many dozens of new books. Admirable in its conception and 
execution." — IrisA Monthly. 

" It not only repeats the facts of the ancient story, it endeavours to express 
the spirit of the ancient life." — Nation. 

" This clear and well-told history is drawn from varied sources. One of 
the most charming books of the season." — Daily Express. 

" The subject matter made as interesting as was possible, by the agency of 
a pure, clear style of narrative." — The Nation. 

" We need only refer the reader to the book itself in the certainty that it 
will testify its own merits far more eloquently than words of ours." — Dublin 
Evening Mail. 

" Altogether this little volume is by far the most to be depended on, and 
popularly written manual we know of the period of Irish history of which it so 
charmingly treats." — Weekly Obsei-vtr. 

" A work which we do not hesitate to describe as of a most fascinating 
character." — Cork Exaininer. 

"The able work of a well-cultured and even elegant writer." — Manchester 

'• The work is brief and compendious, but the mass of reading and researcli 
it contains must have been very great." — New York Tablet. 

Now Ready. Demy 8vo., Cloth Boards. 
Price 12/6. 

English-Irish Dictionary 

(poctCin tD6xxntA-5Aet)it5e), 

Compiled from the most Authentic Sources, 


Author of "Highways and Byways in Ireland," &c., &c. 

'* The Dictionary has come as a boon to the Gaelic student, of whom there are 
many thousands all over Ireland. With such a Volume before him during his 
studies of the language, the student of Irish must find his task rendered easy and 
pleasant." — Limerick Leader. 

•' The Volume should be in the hands of every student of the Gaelic tongue." — 
Sligo Independent. 

'* Those who are technically qualified to express an opinion believe that this- 
Dictionary will be an epoch-marking work in its own field, and it would certainly be 
hard to understand how so much painstaking and scholarly effort should fail to 
produce the best results. The Dictionary runs to nearly 600 double column pages, 
and certainly covers a very wide vocabulary. Many words which we are accustomed 
to regard as technical are included, and the student of the Irish language will be 
wise to give it a convenient place on his shelves ; he will find in it a complete guide 
to the use of the right word, with examples where necessary, as well as grammatical 
information, not obtainable in older works." — Northern Whig^ Belfast. 

" Mr. Lane's book will be warmly welcomed by those who are anxious to 
master Irish." — The Cork Examiner. 

" We predict a big success for ' Lane's Irish Dictionary,' as it meets an 
immediately popular Irish requirement, and as the embodied result of long and keen 
research, supported by the most reliable authorities extant, collated and treated with 
scholarly aptitude and care, may be accepted as the up-to-date authority upon the 
subject dealt with." — Newry Reporter. 

"The work is one which will be welcomed by students of the language every- 
where, but especially by those in the Anglicised areas of the Country." — Irish News, 

** An infinite service is done thereby, to the Gaelic Revival. The Book fills 
a gaping blank that had its discouragement for not a few, and so we anticipate for 
Mr. Lane's efforts a widespread appreciation and patronage." — Derry Journal 

Now Ready at ail Boo kseliers. 

Crown 8vo, Illustrated, together with / y 

facsimile Letter from the Poet, Cloth >^ \r\ 

' boards .^ \\J 

€arlp Raunts of Olloer 6ol(l$tiiit^« 



Opinions of the Press, 

— 6^ — 
** It would be impossible in a brief notice to do justice to this 
charming and charmingly-written sketch, which, to be appreciated, 
must be read and re-read. The book is most beautifully brought 
out, and is enlivened with many vivid illustrations of scenes and 
people connected with the life and family of the poet. What is 
perhaps of even greater interest there is added an exact facsimile of 
one of the most delightful letters of the poet. It is indeed a long 
time since the public was offered so interesting and so valuable an 
addition to Goldsmith libraries, and the work will doubtless be 
appreciated as it deserves." — Freeman' s Journal. 

** A pleasant and readable book." — Spectator. 

*' An attractive book for lovers of Goldsmith, with many interesting 
illustrations and chapters on Goldsmith's family, and a facsimile of a 
long letter from Goldsmith." — TAe Times. 

*' Well studied in sources inaccessible to merely general inquirers, 
and illustrated at every step by well-chosen pictures, the book is a 
noteworthy monument of literary piet}', and deserves the attention 
of all readers who are specially interested in the great man who 
was once little ' Noll ' QcA&sxmXh'' —Scotsman. 


JUL 2 6 is; 


JrtN 1 

3 2001 


1 y ^o» 

nUu l 

^^ 2006 

.IAN ' 

9 2007 



3 9031 01638806 8 

Bapst Library 

Boston College 
Chestnut Hill. Mass. 02167