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HE work here brought to a close was undertaken 
with a view to supply an impartial History of 
Ireland, according to the present advanced state of 
knowledge on the subject. The labors of such 
eminent Irish scholars as Dr. O'Donovan and 
Professor Curry have opened to us new sources of 
information, and the researches of these and other 
learned and indefatigable investigators have, of late 
years, shed a tlood of light upon our history and 
antiquities ; but the knowledge thus developed was 
still unavailable for the general public ; and it 
remained to collect, in a popular form, materials 
scattered through the publications of learned societies, and the 
voluminous pages of our native annals; buried in collections of 
state papers, and in the correspondence of statesmen ; or 
concealed from the world in the government archives. We 
liave been enabled to avail ourselves of a mass of important original 
documents derived from the last-mentioned source ; but with 
what success the task of converting all these copious materials 
to the object of producing a popular History of Ireland has been 
performed in the present volume, the reader must judge : we 
can only say that no pains have been spared to accomplish it 

In the progress of the work our materials multiplied, and it 
became necessary to extend the volume beyond the limits originally 
contemplated. For the same reason it became indispensable to 
wind up with a somewhat earlier epoch than was lirst intended ; 
but the enlightened reader will perceive that this inconvenience 
Avas inevitable; and it is hoped that no lover of Irish history will 


regret the increased bulk of the book after having examined 
its contents. In concluding with the Legislative Union, we have 
been able to trace the entire history of this country as a kingdom, 
and of the English colony planted in it. From the epoch of the 
Union the kingdom and the colony disappear from our history — 
and Ireland is seen only as a province. 

To identify the ancient topography of the country with the 
events of its history is important and interesting ; and the 
invaluable information accumulated by Dr. O'Donovan in his 
annotations to the Annals of the Four Masters, and collected by 
him for the Ordnance Survey, has been freely employed for that 
purpose in these pages. The map of ancient Ireland, prefixed to 
the present volume, has been compiled with much care, and defines 
the boundaries of the territories with more minuteness than has 
hitherto been attempted ; but as these boundaries varied consider- 
ably at difierent periods, it was impossible to exhibit at one view 
the changes which they underwent. They are represented for 
the most part as they existed about the time of the Anglo- 
Norman invasion ; but the frontiers of Tirone and Tirconnel are 
drawn as they stood at an earlier date, before the warlike chiefs of 
the latter territory extended their bounds to the east and south. 

Finally, the narrative has been interrupted as little as possible 
with discussions of controverted points, and the space has not been 
unnecessarily encumbered with extraneous matter. The authori- 
ties relied on have been sufficiently indicated in the marginal 
references, but the Author here desires to express his deep obliga- 
tions to Dr. O'Donovan, Professor Eugene Curry, the Rev. C. P. 
Meehan, Dr. Wilde, Dr. E. E. Madden, and J. T. Gilbert, Esq., 
for the invaluable information they have kindly afforded him, in 
addition to that which he derived from their published works. 


May 1st, 1860. 













































•The first inhabitants of Ireland 

•The Milesian colony 

•Theories of ethnologists — the Celts . 

■From the Milesian conquest to tlie Christian era 

•From the Christian era to St. Patrick 

•Civilization, laws, and customs of the pagan Irish 

■Weapons, houses, sepulchres, music, &c., of the pagan Irish 

•St. Patrick's mission — Early Irish Christians 

Early Christian period continued 

Ireland in the sixth and seventh centuries . 

The mis-sionarj' saints of Ireland 

Christian antiquities of Ireland 

•The Danish wars .... 

Sequel of the Danish wars — Battle of Clontarf 

•Ireland in the eleventh and first part of the twelfth centuries 

•Ireland from a.d. 1130 to a.d. 1168 

•The Anglo-Norman invasion 

■Sequel of the Anglo-Norman invasion 

•A.D. 1172 to A.D. 1178. Reign of Henry II. 

A.D. 1178 to A.D. 1199. Henry II. (concluded) — Richard 1. 


Henry III. 

Edward I. 

Edward II. 

Edward III. 

Richard II. 

Henry IV. and Henry V 

Henry VI.— Edwards IV. and V — Richard III. 

Heniy VI [. 

Henry VIII. 

Edward VI. and Mary 

Elizabeth — "Wars of Shane O'Neill 

Elizabeth (continued) — Wars of Desmond 
A.D. 1587 to A.D. 1599. Elizabeth (continued)— Wars of Hugh O'Neill 
AD. 1599 to A.D. 1G03. Elizabeth (concluded) . 

James I. — Confiscation of Ukter, &c. 

Charles I.— The Civil War 

Charles I. (concluded). — Confederation of Kilkenny 


Charles II. . 

James II. — The Wiiliamite Wars 

The Penal Laws — The Volunteers 

The Insurrection of 1793 — The Union 

-A.D. 1199 to A.D. 1216. 
-A.D. 1210 to A.D. 1272. 
-A.D. 1272 to A.D. 1307. 
-A.D. 1307 to A.D. 1327. 
-A.D. 1327 to A.D. 1377. 
A.D. 1377 to A.D. 1399. 
-A.D. 1399 to A.D. 1422. 
-A.D. 1422 to A.D. 1485. 
-A.D. 1485 to A.D. 1509. 
-A.D. 1509 to AD. 1547. 
-A.D. 1547 to A.D. 1558. 
-A.D. 1558 to A.D. 1578. 
■A.D. 1579 to A.D. 1587. 

-A.D. 1603 to A.D. 1G25. 
-A.D. 1626 to A.D. 1642. 
-A.D. 1642 to A.D. 1649. 
-A.D. 1649 to A.D. IGGO. 
-A.D. 16C0 to A.D. 1GS5. 
-A.D. 1685 to A.D. 1691. 
.A.D. 1691 to A.D. 1782. 
-A.D. 1782 to A.D. 1800. 
Addenda et Corrigenda, 





























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The First Inhabitants of Ireland. — Tue Colonies of Parthalon and N'emedius.- 
The Fomorians. — The Firbolgs, or Belgians. — The Tuatha de Dananns. 
The Legend of Mananan Mac Lir, &c. 

CCORDING to the ancient chronicles of Ireland, the 
first inhabitants of this country were a colony who 
arrived here fi*om Migdonia, supposed to be Mace- 
donia, in Greece, under a leader whose name was Par- 
thalon, about 300 years after the deluge, or, according 
to the chronology adopted by the Four Masters, in 
the year of the world 2520. Some fables are related 
of persons having found their way to Ireland before the 
Flood, and also of a race of people, who lived by fishing 
and hunting, having been found here by Parthalon (or 
Parralaun, as the name is pronounced) ; but these are 
rejected by our ancient annalists as unworthy of credit, 
and merit no attention. It is said of Parthalon that 
he fled from his own country, where he had been guilty of parricide ; 
that he landed at Inver Scene, now the Kenmare river,* accompanied 
by his tlu'ee sons, their wives, and a thousand followers ; that he was the 

Or, as some tbiiik, the river Corrane in Kerry. 


first who cleared any part of Ireland of the primeval woods which 
covered it ; that certain lakes, namely, Lough Con and Loiigh Mask, 
in Mayo, Lough Gara, on the borders of Roscommon and Sligo, 
two others which cannot now be identified by their ancient names, 
and Lough Cuan, or Strangford Lough, in the county of Down, 
were first formed during the period of his colony; that he died 
in the plain in which Dublin now stands, thirty years after his 
landing; and that, in the same plain, in a.m. 2820, that is, 300 years 
after their arrival, his entire colony, then numbering 9,000 persons, 
perished by a pestilence, in one week, leaving the country once more 
without inhabitants.* 

It is said that Ireland remained waste for thirty years, until the next 
colony, which also came from the south-eastern part of Europe, or the 
vicinity of the Euxine Sea, led by a chief called Nemedius, orNeimhidh 
(pronounced N'evy), arrived here, and occupied the country for about 
200 years. The annals record the names of the raths or forts which 
were constructed, and of the plains which were cleared of Avood during 
this period; and they also mention the eruption, during the same time, 
of four lakes, namely. Lakes Derryvarragh and Ennell, in Westmeath, 
and two others not identified. Nemedius, with 2,000 of his followers, 
were carried oflF by a pestilence in the island of Ard-Neimhidh, now the 
Great Island, or Barrymore, near Cork; and the remnant of his people, 
who appear to have been engaged in constant conflicts with a race of 
pirates called Fomorians, who infested the coast, were at length nearly 
annihilated in a great battle with these formidable enemies, a.m. 3066. 
They attacked and demolished the principal Fomorian stronghold, called 
Tor-Conainn, or Conang's Tower, in Tory Island, on the north-west coast 
of Donegal ; but succour having arrived by sea to the pirates, the battle 
was renewed on the strand, and became so fierce that the combatants 
suffered themselves to be surrounded by the rising tide, so that most 

* The place in which this catastrophe happened was called Sean-Mhagh-Ealta-Edatr, or " The 
Old Plain of the Flocks of Edair," a name which it received in after times from an Irish chieftain 
from whom the Hill of Howth was called Ben-Edair; and it extended from that liill to the base 
of the Dublin mountains, and along the banks of the Liffey. The memory of the event is preserved 
in the name of the village of Tallaglit (Tamleacht), which signifies " the plague monument," 
from Tamh, a plague, and Leacht, a monument ; and in Irish books this place is sometimes called 
Tamleackt Muintir rarlhaloin, or "the plague monument of Partholan's people," to distinguish it 
from other plague monuments, also called Tamleachts, in other parts of Ireland. See O'Donovan's 
" Four Masters," and Dr. Wilde's "Report on Tables of Deaths," in the Census of 1851. The 
pestilence which swept away Parthalon's colony was the first that visited Ireland, and is said to havd 
boen caused by the corrupting bodies of tlie dead slain in a battle with the people called Fomorian*. 


of those who did not fall in the mutual slaughter wei'e engulphed in 
the waves.* Three captains of the Nemedians, -with a handful of their 
men, survived, and, in a few years after, made their escape from Ireland, 
with such of their countrymen as chose to follow their fortunes. One 
party, under Briotan Maol, a grandson of Nemedius, sought refuge in the 
neighbouring island of Albion, in the northern part of which their pos- 
terity remained until the invasion of the Picts many centuries after; 
and that island, as some will have it, took the name of Britain from 
their leader, and not from the fabulous Brutus. Another portion of 
the refugees passed, after many Avanderings, into the northern parts ot 
Europe, where they became the Tuatha de Danann of a subsequent age ; 
and, finally, the third party of the scattered Nemedians made their way, 
under their chief, Simon Breac, another grandson of Nemedius, to 
Greece, where they were kept in bondage, and compelled to carr^- 
burdens in leathern bags, whence they obtained the name of Firbolgs 
or Bagmen.f 

For a long interval — 200 years, say the Bards — after the great battle 
of Tory Island, w'e are told that Ireland remained almost a wildei'ness, 
the few Nemedians who were left behind having retired into the 
interior of the country, where they, nevertheless, were made to feel the 
galling yoke of the Fomorians, who were now the undisputed masters 
of the coast; but at the end of the interval just mentioned, the island 
was restored to the former race, although under a different name. The 
Firbolgs having multiplied considerably in Greece, resolved to escape 
from the bondage under which they groaned, and for that purpose seized 
the ships of their masters, and proceeding to sea„ succeeded in making 
their way to Ireland, where they landed without opposition (a.m. 3266), 
and divided the country between their five leaders, the five sons of 
Deala, each of whom ruled in turn over the entire island. The names 
of these brothers were, Slainghe, Rury, Gann, Geanann, and Seangann ; 
and from the first of them the River Slaney, in Wexford, is said to 
have derived its name. It would appear that there were several tribes 

* Who these Fomorians were, who arc so often mentioned in Irish history, is a matter of specu- 
lation. They are said by some of the old annalists to have been African pirates of the race of 
Ham ; but O'Flaherty thinks they were Northmen, or Scandinavians. Some modern writers will 
have it that they were Phoenicians ; but their name implies in Irish that they were sea-robbers, and 
it is remarkable that their memory is preserved in the Irish name of the Giant's Causeway, which 
is Cloghan-na-Fomharaigh, or the causeway or stepping-stones of the Fomorians. Soe O'Brien '« 
Diet. The Fomorians are by some called the Aborigines of Ireland. 

t From Fir, "men," and bolg, which iu Iti^h means a ' leathern bag." 


engaged in this expedition, although all belonged to the same race. 
Thus, one section of them, called Fir-Domhnan, or Damnonians, landed 
on the coast of Erris, in Mayo, where they became very powerful, 
giving their name to the district, which has been called, in Irish, 
larras-Domhnan, that is, the western promontory or peninsula of 
the Damnonians; while another tribe, distinguished by the name 
of Fir-Gaillian, or Spearmen, landed on the eastern coast, and 
from them some will have it that the province of Leinster has been so 

Such is the account of the origin of the Firbolgs and Damnonians, 
given by the bardic annalists ; and of this and similar relations, which 
we find in our primeval history, we may remark in general that, 
however they may be enveloped in fable, we have sufficient reason for 
believing them to be founded in historic truth ; and that they are not 
lightly to be set aside, where nothing better than conjecture can be 
substituted. The favorite modern theory is, that the Firbolg colony 
came into this country from the neighbouring coasts of Britain, and 
that they were identical in race with the people of Belgic Gaul, and 
with the Bellas and Dumnonii of Southern Britain. Then arises the 
question, were these Belgse Celts, or were they of Teutonic or Gothic 
origin? To this we can only answer that the Irish authorities are 
explicit in stating that the Firbolgs were of the same race with subse- 
quent colonies, who were confessedly Celtic, and this seems to be the 
generally received opinion.t 

The Belgag, or Firbolgs, had only enjoyed possession of the country 
for thirty-seven years, Recording to the chronology of the Four Masters, 
or for eighty years, according to that of O'Flaherty, when their 
dominion was disputed by a formidable enemy. The new invaders were 
the celebrated Tuatha de Dananns, a people of whom such strange 

* The Irish name of Leinster was sometimes written Coige Gaillian ; Coige being the word for a 
fifth part, or one of the five provinces ; but it is more generally called simply Laighin, a word 
which signifies a spear or javelin. 

j" In the Irish version of Neimius, published for the Irish Archaeological Society, the Firbolgs 
are termed Viri BuUorum, which, as the learned editor, Dr. Todd, remarks, might afford a deriva- 
tion for the name not previously noticed ; the word Bullum, in the Latinity of the middle ages, 
signifying, according to Du Cange, Baculum pastoi-is, a shepherd's staff. In the additional notes to 
that publication, by the Hon. Algernon Herbert, many curious suggestions are made about these 
and the other ancient inhabitants of Ireland, all which speculations show how exceedingly vague 
and meagre is the information that can be gleaned about these primitive races, and how uncertain 
are the theories which have been formed about them. Of the Firbolgs, however, as we shall here- 
after see, we find frequent mention in what all admit to be authentic periods of Irish history ; and 
their monuments, and even their race, still exist among us. 


things are recounted, that modern writers were long uncertain whether 
they should regard them as a purely mythical race, or concede to them 
a real existence, all Irish antiquaries, however, adopting at present the 
latter alternative. The arrival of the Tuatha de Denanns took place 
m the year of the world 3303, the tenth year of the reign of the ninth 
and last of the Firbolgic kings, Eocliy, son of Ere. The leader of the 
invaders was Nuadhat-Airgetlamh, or Nuad of the Silver Hand, and 
their first proceeding on landing was to burn their own fleet, in order to 
render all retreat impossible. According to the superstitious ideas of 
the bards, these Tuatha de Dananns were profoundly skilled in magic, 
and rendered themselves invisible to the inhabitants until they had 
penetrated into the heart of the cormtry. In other words, they landed 
under cover of a fog or mist; and the Firbolgs, at first taken by 
surprise, made no regular stand, until the new comers had marched 
almost across Ireland, when the two armies met face to face on the 
plain of Moytm-ey, near the shore of Lough Corrib, in part of the 
ancient territory of Partry. Here a battle was fought, in which the 
Firbolgs were overthrown, with " the greatest slaughter," says an old 
writer,* " that was ever heard of in Ireland at one meeting." Eochy, 
the Firbolg king, fled, and was overtaken at a place in the present 
county of Sligo, where he was slain, and where his cairn, or the 
stone heap raised over his grave, is still to be seen on the sea-shore; 
while the scattered fragments of his army took refuge in the northern 
isle of Aran, Rathlin island, the Hebrides, the Isle of Man, and 

The victorious Nuadhat lost his hand in this battle, and a silver hand 
was made for him by Credne Cerd, the artificer, and fitted on him by 
the physician, Diencecht, whose son, Miach, improved the work, 
according to the legend, by infusing feeling and motion into every 
joint of the artificial hand as if it had been a natural one. Hence the 
surname which the king received. The story may be taken as an 
illustration of the sur£rical and mechanical skill which the Tuatha de 

* Connell Mageoghegan's "Annals of Cloumacnoise." 

•j- Book of Leacan, fol. 277; quoted in the Ogygia, Part iii., c. 9. The site of this battle is 
siimetimes called Moyturey of Cong, from its proximity to that town, and "it is still pointed out," 
s.iys Dr. O'Donovan (Four Masters, vol. i. j). 16), " in the parish of Cong, barony of Kilmaine, 
and county of Mayo, to the right of the road as you go from Cong to the village of the Neal. 
from the monuments of this Iwttle still remaining, it is quite evident that great numbers were slain." 
The cairn of the Firbolg king, fiochy, is on the shore near Ballysadare, in the countj^ of Sligo. 
and, although not high above the strand, it is the poj)ular belief that the tide can never cover it. 


Dananns were believed to possess; and we are further told that for 
the seven years during which the operation was in progress, a temporary 
king was elected, Breas, whose father was a Fomorian, and whose 
mother was of the Tuatha de Dananns, having been chosen for the 
purpose. At the end of that period Nuadhat resumed the authority; 
and in the twentieth year of his reign, counting from this resumption, 
he fell in a battle fought with the Fomorians, who took the held at the 
instigation of their countryman, the deposed king, Breas, and were 
aided also, we may suppose, by the Firbolg refugees. This battle was 
fought at a place called Northern Moyturey, or Moyturey of the 
Fomorians ; and its name is still preserved in that of a townland in the 
barony of Tirerrill, in the county of Sligo, where several sepulchral 
monuments still mark the site of the ancient battle-field. Nuadhat 
was killed in this conflict by Balor "of the mighty blows," the leader of 
the Fomorians, who is described in old traditions as a monster both in 
barbarity and strength, and as having but one eye. Balor himself was 
killed in the same battle by a stone cast from a sling by his daughter's 
son, Lugh Lamhfhada, or Lewy of the long hand, in revenge for some 
of his crimes. 

We have here followed the generally received account of the fate 
of the Firbolgs in the Tuatha de Danann invasion ; but there is another 
version of it given in an ancient Irish manuscript* which is much more 
consistent with subsequent history. According to this latter account 
the battle of Southern Moyturey resulted in a compromise rather than 
in such a defeat as that mentioned above; and although the Firbolg 
king was slain, another leader of the same people, named Srang, was 
still at the head of a considerable 'force ; and, after some negociations, 
a partition of the country was agreed to, Srang and his people retaining 
Connaught, and the Tuatha de Dananns taking all the remainder. 
MacFirbis, in his tract on the Firbolgs, seems to say that an account of 
the affair to some such effect existed ; and unless it be admired, it is 
impossible to account for the firm footing which we find these people 
all along holding in Ireland, and for their position at the jNIilesian epoch, 
when they were at first received as allies by the invaders, and were 
afterwards, for centuries, able to resist them in war. Nor is this account 
inconsistent with the statement that many of the Firbolgs repaired, 

* Tlie ailtlior is imleljted to I'roffssor Eugene Curry for the purijuit u( this tra. t, uh^cli appe.irt 
to have escaped llie aUei.tiou ul' our other Irisli sJioliiiu 


on the arrival of the Tuatlui de Daiiamis, to the islands mentioned 

Lugh Lamhfhada, the slayer of Balor, succeeded Nuadhat as king of 
Ireland ; and the fact that he was of Fomorian origin, on his mother s 
side, and a Tuatha de Danann on that of his father, as well as a like 
mingling of races in the person of Breas, the first king of the Tuatha 
de Dananns, lead to the conclusion that an affinity existed between the 
two races, and afford an argument to O'Flaherty, who held that both 
races Avere Northmen, or Danes.* Lugh reigned forty years, and 
mstituted the public games, or fair, of the hill of Tailltean, now 
Teltown, near the Blackwater, in Meath, in commemoration of his 
foster-mother, Taillte, the daughter of Maghmor, a Spanish or Iberian 
king, and wife of Eochy, son of Ere, the last of the Firbolg kings, after 
whose death, in the battle of Southern Moyturey, she married a Tuatha 
de Danann chief, and undertook the fostering, or education, of the 
infant Lewy. This celebrated fair, at which various sports took place, 
continued to be held until the twelfth century, on the 1st of August, 
which day is still called, in Irish, Lugh-Nasadh, or Lugh's fair; and 
vivid traditions are yet preserved of the pagan form of marriage, and 
ancient sports, of which the old rath of Teltown was the scene-t 

Lewy, having been killed by Mac Cuill at Caendruim, now the hill of 
Uisneach, in Westmeath, w^as succeeded by Eochy Ollathair, who was 
surnamed the Dagda Mor (the Great-good-fire), the son of Ealathan. 
The Dagda reigned eighty years, and having died from the effects of 
a wound inflicted 120 years before at the battle of northern Moyturey, 
with a poisoned javelin, by Kathlen, the wife of the Fomorian Balor, he 
was interred at the Brugh, on the Boyne, the great cemetery of the east 
of Ireland in the pagan times. His monument is mentioned in ancient 
Irish manuscripts as one of those vast sepulchral mounds which are at 
this day objects of wonder and interest on the banks of the Boyne, 
between Drogheda and Slane. 

A.M. 3451. — Dealboeth, the son of Ogma, succeeded, and was followed 
by Fiacha; after whom three brothers, named MacCuill, MacCeacht, 
and MacGreine, the last of the Tuatha de Danann kings, reigned 
conjointly for thirty years, each exercising sovereign authority in 
succession for the space of one year. The real names of the three 

* Og\-f:ia, Part i. p. 13. 

I See Willie's lioyne and Blackwater, p. loU. Ogygia, Tan iii. c. la ami ot». 


brotners^ according to an old poem quoted by Keating, were, Eatliur, 
Teathur, and Ceatliur, and they were called, the first, Mac Cuill, because 
he worshipped the hazel tree; the second, MacCeacht, because he 
worshipped the plough, or rather, encouraged agriculture; and the 
third, MacGreine, because he made the sun the object of his devotions. 
The old bardic annalists, who, with a gallantry peculiar to their country, 
derive most of the names of places from celebrated women, tell us that 
the wives of these three kings were Eire, Banba, and Fodhla, three 
sisters who have given their names to Ireland ; and they add that the 
country was called after each queen during the year of her husband's 
administration ; and that if the name of Eire has been since more gene- 
rally applied it was because the husband of queen Eire was the reigning 
king when the Milesians arrived and conquered the island. The names 
of Banba and Fodhla are frequently given to Ireland in all the ancient 
Irish writings. 

Before we leave the Tuatha de Dananns, whose sway continued for 
197 years — from a.m. 3303 to a.m. 3500 — we may mention two or three 
remarkable circumstances connected with the accounts of that ancient 
people. By them the Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny, on which the Irish 
kings were crowned in subsequent ages, was brought into Ireland. 
This stone was said to emit mysterious sounds when touched by the 
rightful heir to the crown; and when an Irish colony invaded North 
Britain, and founded the Scottish monarchy there in the sixth century, 
the Lia Fail was carried thither to give more solemnity to the coronation 
of the king, and more security to his dynasty. It was afterwards pre- 
served for several ages in the monastery of Scone, but w^as carried into 
England by Edward I., in the year 1300, and deposited in Westminster 
Abbey, and is believed to be identical with the large block of stone 
now to be seen under the coronation chair.* 

Ogma, one of the Tuatha de Danann princes, is said to have invented 
the Ogam Craove, or occult mode of writing by notches on the edges 
of sticks or stones ; and Orbsen, another of them, is celebrated as the 
mythical protector of commerce and navigation. He was commonly 
called Mananan, from the Isle of Man, of which he was king, and 

* Dr. Petrie, in his History and Antiquities of Tara Hill, controverts this account of the Lia 
Fail, and employs some learned, though not conclusive, arguments to show that that celebrated 
relic of pagan antiquity is the present pillar stone over the " Croppies' Grave" in one of the great 
raths of Tara. OTlaherty (Ogygia, p. 45) thinks the Stone of Destiny was not carried to Scotland 
until A.D. 850, when it was sent by Hugh Finnliath, King of Ireland, to his father-in law, Kcneth 
JIacAlpine, who finally subjugated the Picts. 


Ufaclir, son of the sea, from his knowledge of nautical affairs. He was 
killed in a battle in the west of Ireland by Ullin, grandson of King 
Nuad of the Silver Hand, and was buried in an island in the large lake, 
which from him was called Lough Orbscn, since corrupted into Lough 
Corrib, the place where the battle was fought being still called Moj- 
cullen, or the plain of Ullin.* 

* Dr. O'Donovan, in a note on the Tiiatha de Dananns (Four IMasters, vol. i., p. 24), savs : — 
"In Mageoghe;;aivs translation of the Annals of Olonmacnoise it is stated that ' this people, Tuatliy 
DeUanan, ruled Ireland for 197 years ; that they were most notable magicians, and would work 
wonderful things by magick and other diabolicale arts, wherein they were exceedingly well skilled, 
and in these days accompted the chiefest in the world in that profession.' From the many monu- 
ments ascribed to this colony by tradition, and in ancient Irish historical tales, it is quite evident 
that they were a real people ; and from their having been considered gods and magicians by the 
Gaedhil, or Scoti, who subdued them, it may be inferred that they were skilled in arts which the 
latter did not understand Among them was Danann, the mother of the gods, from whom Ba chick 
Danaijine, a mountain in Kerry (the Pap Mountain) was called ; Buanann, the goddess that 
instructed the heroes in military exercises, the Minerva of the ancient Irish ; Badhbh, the Bellona 
of the ancient Irish ; Abhortach, god of music ; Ned, the god of war ; Nemon, his wife ; Ma- 
nannan, the god of the sea ; Diancecht, the god of physic ; Brioghit, the goddess of poets and 
smiths, &c. It appears from a very curious and ancient Irish tract, written in the shape of a 
dialogue between St. Patrick and Caoilte jMacRonain, that there were very many places in Ireland 
where the Tuatha de Dananns were then supposed to live as sprites or fairies, with corporeal and 
material forms, but endued with immortality. Tlie inference naturally to be drawn from these 
stories is, that the Tuatha de Dananns lingered in the country for many centuries after their sub- 
jugation by the Gaedhil, and that they lived in retired situations, where they practised abstruse 

arts, which induced the others to regard them as' magicians It looks very strange that our 

genealogists trace the pedigree of no family living for the last thousand years to any of the kings 
or chieftains of the Tuatha de Dananns, while several families of Firbolgic descent are mentioned, 
as in Hy-Many, and other parts of Connaught. See Tribes and Customs of Hy-Many, pp. 85-90 ; 
and O'Flalierty's Ogygia, part iii. c. 11." 

Manaiman Mac Lir is described in Cormac's Glossary as "a famous merchant of the Isle of Man, 
and the best navigator in the western world." Dr. O'DonQvan (Four Masters, vol. iii., p. 532, 
note) says : •' There exists a tradition in the County of Londonderry that the spirit of this cele- 
brated navigator lives in an enchanted castle in the tuns or waves of Magilligan, opposite Inishowen» 
and that his magical ship is seen there once everj' seventh year." 


The Milesian Colony. — Wanderings of the Gadelians. — "Voyage of Ith to 
Ireland. — Expedition of the Sons of Miledh, or Milesius. — Contests with the 
Tiiatha de Dananns. — Division of Ireland by Herenion. — The Cruithnians, or 


HE old annalists preface the account of the Milesian in- 
vasion of Ireland by a long story of the origin of that 
colony, and of its many wanderings, by land and sea, 
for several hundred years, until it arrived in Ireland 
from Spain. There is no part of our primitive history 
that has been so frequently questioned, or which modern 
writers so generally reject as fabulous, as these first 
accounts of the Milesian or Gadelian race ; yet they are 
so mixed up with our authentic history, and so frequently 
referred to, that they cannot be passed over in silence. 
We, therefore, give an outline of the narrative, chiefly 
as Ave find it related in the Duan Eireannach, or Poem 
of Ireland, written by Maelmura of Othain, one of the 
most ancient of our authorities for the Milesian tradition.* 
We are told in this poem that Fenius Farsaidh came out of Scythia 
to Nembroth (Nimrod), and that, some time after " the building of the 
tower (of Babel) by the men of the world," Nel, or Niul, the son of 
Fenius, who possessed a knowledge of all the languages then spoken by 
mankind, left his father and travelled into Egypt, where the fame of 
his learning came to the ears of Forann (Pharaoh), who gave him his 
daughter Scota in marriage. Niul had a son named Gaedhuil Glas, or 
Green Gael ; and we are told that it is from him the Irish have been 
called Gaedhil (Gael), or Gadelians, while from his mother is derived 

* Maelmura of Othain (now Fahan, in Donegal) died a,d. 884, and the historical poem referred 
to above was printed, for the first time, in the Irish version of Nennius, published in 1848 by the 
Irish ArchjBological Society, with copious notes by the Rer. Dr. Todd, S.F.T.C.D., and by the 
Hon Algernon Herbert. 


the name of Scoti, or Scots, and from Fenius that of Feni, or Fenians. 
The poem goes on to say that after Forann, pursuing the people of 
God, Avas drowned in the Sea Romhuir (Red Sea) the people of Eo-ypt 
were angry with the children of Niul for having declined to render any 
assistance in the pursuit; and that the latter, through fear of beino- 
enslaved as the Israelites liad been, seized the deserted ships of Pharaoh, 
and in the night time passed over the Red Sea, " the way they knew," 
by India and Asia, to Scythia, their own country, over the surface of 
the Casj)ian Sea, leaving Glas, dead, at Coronis (probably Gyrene, in the 
Lybian Sea), where they halted for a period. 

After some time, and with some variations in the different accounts, 
we find Sru, son of Esru, or Asruth, son of Gadheal Glas,* actino- as 
leader of the descendants of Niul, and proceeding to the island of 
Taprabana (Ceylon)t and Slieve Riffi,$ until he settled in "fiery 
Golgatha," or Gaethligh, a place which is variously supposed to be 
Gothia, or Galatia, or Gethulia; and again, in two hundred years after, 
that is, according to O'Flaherty, about the time of the destruction of 
Troy, Brath, the son of Deagath, or Deatha, and nineteenth in descent 
from Fenius, led a fresh expedition from this last-named place to "the 
north of the world, to the islands, ploughing the Tarrian Sea (Medi- 
terranean or T}aThenian) with his fleet." He passed by Creld (Crete), 
Sicil (Sicily), and the columns of Hercules, to "Espain, the peninsular;"' 
and here he conquered a certain territory, his son, Breogan, or Brecvond, 
succeeding him in the command. The city which our wanderers built 
in Spain was called Brigantia, believed to be Betanzos, in Gallicia; and, 
from a lofty tower erected on the coast, by Breogan, it is said that his 
son, Ith, discovered Eri, or Ireland, "as far as the land of Luimnech, 
(as the country at the mouth of the Shannon was called), on a winter's 
evening.'"§ Ith appears to have been of an adventurous spirit, and, no 

* This name is just before ■written Gaerihuil Glas; and, in general, there appears to be na fixed 
orthography for tlioje ancient Iri?ii names. 

t Sometimes written, in Irish MSS., Tipradfane, that is, the "Well of Fenius. 

% The Slieve Kiffi, so often mentioned in Irish MSS., were the liiplieau mountains, but it is by 
no means easy to determine what was the position of these. That thej' were situated in some part 
of the vast region anciently called Scythia is tolerably certain, and the piubable opinion is tLat 
they were the Ural mountains in Ku>sia ; but thej' are sometimes set down in old maps as occupy- 
ing the plate of the Carpathian mountains, and even o( the Alps, and the vague accounts we have 
of them would answer for any range of mountains in northern Europe. 

§ The Hon. Algernon Herbert, in one of the additional notes to tlie Neunius, shows how 
this legend of Ireland having been seen from the tower of Betanzos (tiie ancient Flavium Brigau- 
tiuni) may have arisen from passages of Orosius, the geographer, where mention is made of a 
lofty Pharos erecttd on the coast of Spain, " arf fpeculum Brilanniw," " for a watch-tOAver iu the 
dirictiou of Britain ;" and where again, de:;ciibing the coasts of Iielaud, the writer says ^'■proati 


doubt, discovered tlie coast of Ireland, not from the tower of Breogan, 
which was impossible, but after having sailed thither in search of the 
land, which, according to the traditions of his race, the children of 
Niul were destined to possess. He landed at a place since called Magh 
Ithe, or the Plain of Ith, near Laggan, in the county of Donegal ; and 
having been taken for a spy or pirate, by the Tuatha de Dananns, was 
attacked and mortally wounded, when he escaped to his ship and died 

at sea.t 

The remains of Ith were carried to Spain by his crew, now 
commanded by his son Lugaid, who stimulated his kinsmen to avenge 
his death, and such, according to the chroniclers, was the provocation 
for the expedition which followed. Accordingly, the sons of Gollam, 
(who is more generally knowai by his surname of Miledh, or Milesius) 
the son of Bile, son of Breogan, and hence the nephew of Ith, manned 
thirty ships, and prepared to set out for Inis Ealga, as Ireland was at 
that time called. Milesius himself, who was King of Spain, or at least 
of the Gadelian province of it, and who in his earlier life had travelled 
into Scythia, and performed sundry exploits there, had died before the 
news of the death of Ith arrived ; and his wife Scota, the second of the 

spectant Brigantiam, Calliciae civitatem," &c. — " they lie at a distance opposite Brigantiam, a city 
of Gallicia," &c ; the words " speculum" and " spectant" having apparently led to the absurd 
notion that the coast of Ireland was visible from the tower. See also Dr. Wilde's communication 
to the Royal Irish Academy on the remains of the Pharos of Corunna, which he believes to have 
been the tower of Breogan. 

f Whoever attempts to trace on the map of the world the route ascribed in the text to the 
ancestors of Milesus will find himself seriously puzzled. In all the accounts of these perigrinations 
two distinct expeditions are alluded to, one by the east and north, and the other westerly, that is, 
through the Mediterranean Sea and the Pillars of Hercules. The latter is intelligible enough, but 
the former would imply a pa.ssage by water, from south to north, through the central countries of 
Europe. The Nemedians and Tuatha de Dananns would also appear to have passed freely in 
their ships between Greece, or Scythia, and the Northern Seas, without going through the Straits 
of Gibraltar. Some got rid of this difliculty by treating the whole story as a fable founded on the 
Argonautic Expedition and its River-Ocean, but even that famous legend of classic antiquity 
stands itself in need of explanation : and with that view it has been suggested that the Baltic 
and Euxine Seas were at some remote period connected, and that the vast, swampy plains of 
Poland were covered with water. A connected series of lakes may thus have extended across the 
continent of Europe from north to south ; and the lagunes along the present northern coa-t of the 
Black Sea may indicate what their appearance had been. Traditions of manj- of tlie physical 
changes which have taken place from time to time in the surface of Ireland, since the universal 
Deluge, such as the eruption of rivers, and the formation of new lakes and inlets of the sea, are 
preserved in the Irish annals; and it is probable that the Greek traditions of Deucalion's Deluge, 
and the theories respecting the eruption of the Euxine into the Archipelago, and of a channe 
between the ocean and the Mediterranean through ancient Aquataine, may refer to a period whei 
the ship Argo, and the barques of the descendants of Niul, might have passed from the shores of 
Greece to the Hyperborean Seas through the heart of Sarmatia, as indicated above. — See " A Vin- 
dication of the Bardic Accounts of the Early Invasions (f Ireland, and a Verification of the River- 
■ Ocean of the Greeki.'" Dublin, 1852. Also the Dublin Univenity Magazine for March, 1852. 


name we have yet met in these annals, went whh her six sons at the 
head of the expedition. Some of the accounts mention eight sons of 
Milesius, but the names given in jNIaebnura's poem are Donn, or Heber 
Donn, Colpa, Amergin, Ir, Heber (that is, Heber Finn, or the fair), and 
Heremon. Lugaid, the son of Ith, was also a leader of the expedition, 
and the names of several other chiefs are given ; and it is probable that the 
principal portion of the Gadelian colony in Spain sailed on the occasion. 
A.M. 3500. — It was in the year of the world 3500, and 1700 years 
before Christ, according to the Four Masters, or a.m. 2934, and b.c. 
1015, according to O'Flaherty's chronology, that the Milesian colony 
arrived in Ireland. The bardic legends say the island was at first made 
invisible to them by the necromancy of the inhabitants ; and that when 
they at length effected a landing and marched into the country, the 
Tuatha de Dananns confessed that they were not prepared to resist 
them, having no standing army, but that if they again embarked, and 
could make good a landing according to the rules of war, the country 
should be theirs. Amergin, who was the oUav or learned man and 
judge of the expedition, having been appealed to, decided against his 
own people, and they accordingly re-embarked at the southern extremity 
of Ireland, and withdrew "the distance of nine waves" from the shore. 
No sooner had they done so than a terrific storm commenced, raised by 
the magic arts of the Tuatha de Dananns, and the Milesian fleet was 
completely scattered. Several of the ships, among them those of Donn 
and Ir, were lost off different parts of the coast. Heremon sailed 
round by the noi'th-east, and landed at the mouth of the Boyne, (called 
nver Colpa, from one of the brothers who was drowned there), and 
oth ers landed at Inver Scene, so called from Scene Dubsaine, the wife 
of A mergin, who perished in that river. In the first battle fought with 
the x'uatha de Dananns, at Slieve Mish, near Tralee, the latter were 
defeat ed ; but among the killed were Scota, the wife of Milesius, who 
was b' u-ied in the place since called from her, Glen-Scoheen, and Fas, the 
wife of Un, another of the Milesians, from whom Glenofaush in the 
same neighbourhood has its name. After this the sons of Milesius 
fougnt a battle at Tailtlnn, or Teltown in Meatli, where the three kings 
of the Tuatha de Dananns were killed and their people completely 
^ 'Uted. The three queens, Eire, Fodlila, and Banba, were also slain ; 
women having been accustomed during the pagan times in Ireland to 
take part personally in battles, and in many instances to lead the hostile 
armies to the fiffht. Amono; the Milesians killed in this battle, or rather 
in the pursuits of the Tuatha de Dananns, were Fuad, (from whom 

14 HEKEMON's division of IRELAND. 

Slieve Fuad in Armagh, a place much celebrated in Irish history, has 
derived its name), and Cuailgne, who was killed at Slieve Cuailgne, 
now the Cooley mountains, near Carlingford, in the county of Louth. 

After the battle of Tel town the Milesians enjoyed the undisturbed 
possession of the country, and formed alliances with the Firbolgs, the 
Tuatha de Dananns, and other primitive races, but more especially 
with the first, who aided them willingly in the subjugation of thtlr 
late miasters, and Avere allowed to retain possession of certain territories, 
where some of their posterity still remain. Heremon and Heber Finn 
divided Ireland between them; but a dispute arising, owing to the 
covetousness of the wife of Heber, who desired to have all the finest 
vales in Erin for herself, a battle w^as fought at Geashill, in the present 
King's county, in Avhich Hereman killed his brother Heber. In the 
division of Ireland which followed, Heremon, who retained the 
sovereignty himself, gave Ulster to Heber, the son of Ir ; Munster to the 
four sons of Heber Finn ; Connaught to Un and Eadan ; and Leinster 
to Crivann Sciavel, a Damnonian or Firbolg. The people of the south 
of Ireland in general are looked upon as the descendants of Heber; 
while the families of Leinster, many of those of Connaught, the Hi 
Nialls of Ulster, &c., trace their pedigree to Heremon. Families sprung 
from the sons of Ir are to be found in different parts of Ireland; but of 
Amergin, the poet and ollav, little is said in this distribution of the land. 
He is mentioned as having constructed the causeway or tochar of Inver 
Mor, or the mouth of the Ovoca in Wicklow. 

The wife of Heremon was Tea, the daughter of Lugaid, the son of 
Ith, for whom he repudiated his former wife Ovey, who, followed the 
expedition to Ireland, and died of grief on finding herself deserted ; and 
it was Tea who selected for the royal residence the hill of Druim Caein, 
called from her Tea-mur or Tara — that is, the mound of Tea.* In the 
second year of his reign Heremon slew his brother Amergin in battle, 
and in subsequent conflicts others of his kinsmen fell by his hands ; and 
having reigned fifteen years, he died at Rath-Beothaigh, now Rathveagh 
on the Nore, in Kilkenny. 

About the period of the Milesian invasion the Cruithnigh, Cruith- 
nians, or Picts, so called, according to the generally received opinion, 
from having their bodies tatooed, or painted, are said to have paid a visit 
to Ireland previous to their final settlement in Alba, or Scotland. 

• The above etymolofcy of Tara is evidently legendary ; and according to Cormac's Glossary, 
quoted by O'Donovan (Four Masters, vol. i. p. 31), the name, which in Irish is Teamhair, merely 
signifies a hill commanding a pleasant prospect. 

rnr: cruithnians or picts. 


Having no waves, they obtained Milesian women in marriage ; that is, 
according to some accounts, they married the widows of those who had 
been drowned with Heber Donn in the expedition from Spain, making 
a solemn compact that, should they succeed in conquering the country 
they were about to invade, the sovereignty should descend in the female 
line. The Cruithnians were of a kindred race with the Scots or Irish, 
and for many centuries dwelt as a distinct people in the eastern part of 
Ulster, where some of their descendants were to be found at the time 
of the confiscations under James I. ; but the confused traditions about 
ihe visit of a Pictish colony at the same time with the children of 
Milesius are properly treated as apocryphal.* 

* Bede (Hist. Eccl. lib. i. c. 1) gives the following account of the origin of the Picts: — " When 
the Britons, beginning at the South, had made themselves masters of the greater part of the island, 
it happened that the nation of the Picts, from Scythia, as is reported, putting to sea in a few long 
ships, were driven by the winds beyond the shores of Britain, and arrived on the northern coast of 
Ireland, where, finding the nation of the Scots, they begged to be allowed to settle among them, 

but could not succeed in obtaining their request The Picts, accordingly, sailing over into 

Britain, began to inhabit the northern parts thereof Now the Picts had no wives, and asked 

them of the Scots, who would not consent to grant them on any terms than that when any diffi- 
culty should arise they should choose a king from the female royal race, rather than from the male ; 
which custom, as is well known, has been observed among the Picts to this day." See for ample 
details about the Cruithniaus or Picts, and for all the traditions relative to their intercourse with 
Ireland, the annotations to the Irish Nennius. 


Questions as to tbe Credit of the Ancient Irish Annals. — Defective Chronology. — 
The Test of Science applied. — Theories on the Ancient Inhabitants of Ire- 
land. — Intellectual Qualities of Firbolgs and Tuatha de Dananns. — Monuments 
of the latter People.— Celts. 

AVING thus far followed the bardic chroniclers, or 
seanachies, it is right to pause awhile to consider what 
amount of credit we may place in them ; and in the next 
^i'?^i^^^^ place, what are the opinions of those who reject their 
authority. A judicious and accomplished Irish annalist, 
Tighernach, Abbot of Clonmacnoise, who died so early 
as A.D. 1088, has said that all the Scottish, that is, Irish, 
records previous to the reign of Cimbaeth, which he fixed 
at the year B.C. 305, are doubtful ; and we have, therefore, 
good authority, independent of internal evidence or of 
the opinions of modern writers, for placing on them but 
a modified reliance. We must be careful, however, not 
to carry our doubts too far. These ancient records 
claim our veneration for their great antiquity, and are 
themselves but the channels of still older traditions. Writings which 
date from the first ages of Christianity in Ireland refer to facts upon 
which all our pre-Christian history hinges, as the then fixed historical 
tradition of the country; and the closest study of the history of Ireland 
shows the impossibility of fixing a period previous to which the main 
facts related by the annalists should be rejected as utterly fabulous. 
There is no more reason to deny the existence of such men as Heber 
and Heremon, and therefore, of a Milesian or Scottish colon}', than 
there is to question the occurrence of the battle of Clontarf ; and the 
traditions of the Firbolgs and Tuatha de Dananns are so mixed up with 

our written history, so impressed on the monuments and topography of 


the country, and so illustrated in the characteristics of its population, 
tliat no man of learning who had thoroughly studied the subject would 
now think of doubting their existence. But, as w^e have said, it is for 
the main facts that we claim this credence. These facts are, of course, 
mixed up with the quaint romance characteristic of the remote ages in 
which they were recorded, and the chief difficulty, as in the ancient 
history of most countries, is to trace out the substratum of truth benea*n 
the superincumbent mass of fable. 

The chronology of the pre-Christian Irish annals is ob lously 
erroneous, but that does not affect their general authenticity. They 
were compiled for the most part from such materials as g nealogical 
lists of kings, to whose reigns disputed periods of duration were attri- 
buted; and those who, in subsequent ages, endeavo red to form 
regular series of annals out of such data, and to make them synchronize 
with the history of other countries, were unavoidably liable to error. 
The Four Masters, adopting the chronology of the Septuagint and tho 
Greeks, according to wliich the world was 5,200 year's old at the birth 
of our Saviour, refer the occurrences of Irish history, previous to the 
Christian era, to epochs so remote as to expose the whole history to 
ridicule; while OTlaherty, endeavouring to arrive at a more reasonable 
computation, and taking for his standard the sys'em of Scaliger, which 
makes the age of the world before Christ some 1250 years less, reduces 
the dates given by the Four Masters by many hundreds of years ; but 
the degree of antiquity wnich even he al ows to them surpasses 
credibility. Thus, according to the author of the Ogygia, the arrival 
of the Milesian colony took place 1015 years before the Christian era; 
that is, about 260 years before the building of Rome, making it synchro- 
nize with the reign of Saul in Israel ; w. ule, according to the Four 
Masters, that event occurred moi'e than sir hundred years earlier ; that 
is, many centuries before the foundation of Troy, or the Argonautic 
expedition; and yet, at that remote period — sixteen hundred years, 
according to one computation, and at least a thousand, according to 
another, before Julius Caesar found Britain still occupied by half-savage 
and half-naked inhabitants — we are asked to believe that a regular 
monarchy was established in Irelan 1, and was continued through a 
known succession of kings, to the twelfth century!* 

A chronology so improbable has natm'ally weakened the credibility 
of our older annals; but neither bardic legends nor erroneous com- 

*' Charles O'Connor, of Balenagar, says, in hi Diasertaiions on the History of Ireland, that the 
Slilesiau invasion cannot have been mucli •'.u'ii'».r or later tliau the vear n.c. 760. 



putations can destroy the groundwork of truth wliich we must recog- 
nize beneath them. 

The ancient Irish attributed the utmost importance to the truth of 
their historic compositions, for social reasons. Their wliole system of 
society — every question as to the rights of property — turned upon the 
descent of families and the principle of clanship ; so that it cannot be 
supposed that mere fables would be tolerated instead of facts, Avhere 
every social claim was to be decided on their authority. A man's name 
is scarcely mentioned in our annals without the addition of his fore- 
fathers for several generations, a thing which rarely occurs in those of 
other countries. 

Again, when we arrive at the era of Christianity in Ireland, w^e find 
that our ancient annals stand the test of verification by science wath a 
success which not only establishes their character for truthfulness at 
that period, but vindicates the records of preceding dates involved in it. 
Thus, in some of the annals, natural phenomena, such as eclipses, are 
recorded, and these are found to agree so exactly with the calculations 
of astronomy as to leave no room wdiatever to doubt the general accu- 
racy of documents found in these particulars to be so correct, at least 
for periods after the Christian era.* 

Now, coming to the theories of Irish origins entertained by those who 
reject the authority of the old annalists either wholly or on this par- 
ticular point; it is certain, according to them, that Ireland has invariably 
derived her population from the neighbouring shores of Britain, in the 
same Avay as Britain itself had been peopled from those of Gaul. It 
was thus, they tell us, that the Belgse, or Firbolgs, the Damnonians, and 
the Dananns came successively into Erin, as well as, in after times, that 
other race called Scots, whose origin seems to set speculation at defiance. 
Navigation was so imperfectly understood in those ages that such a 
voyage as that from Spain to Ireland, especially for a numerous squadron 
of small craft, is treated with ridicule. The knowledge of navigation, 

• For observations on the comparison of tlie entries of eclipses in the Irish annals with the 
calculations in the great French work, VAi-t de verifier les Dates, as a test and correction of the 
former, see 0'Donovan"s Introduction to the Annals of the Four Masters, and Dr. Wilde's Report 
on the Tables of Deaths in tlie Census of 18.51, where the idea of the comparison has been fi-.Uy 
carried out. Thus, in the Annals of Innisfallen we find, " a.d. 445, a solar eclipse at the ninth 
hour." This is the first eclipse mentioned in the Irish annals, and it agrees with the calculated 
date in rA7-t de verifier les Dafea, where the corresponding entry is, "A solar eclipse visible in 
North-Westem Europe, July 20th, at half-past five, a.m." And again, in the Annals of Tiger- 
nach, "a.d. C64. Davit n ess at the ninth hour on the Calends of May;" while in the French 
astronomical work already quoted, there is noticed for that year " A total eclipse of the sun, 
visible to Europe and Africa, at half-past three, p.m., 1st of May." 


which all admit the Greeks, and Trojans, and Phoenicians to have 
possessed, is not acceded to the early colonies of Ireland; but it is 
argued that as people spread naturally into adjoining countries visible 
from those Avhence they proceeded, so it is only reasonable to suppose 
that Ireland received inhabitants from the coasts of Wales or Scotland, 
from which her shores could be plainly seen, rather than from Thrace 
or MaCedon, or even from Spain. Similarity of names, also, comes to 
the aid of this theory ; for it seems probable enough that the Belgce and 
Dumnonii of Southern Britain were the same race with those bearing 
almost identically the same names in Ireland. As to the name of Scots, 
it was never heard of before the second or third century of the Chris- 
tian era, when it was given to the tribes who aided the Picts in harassing 
the people of South Britain, and their masters, the Eomans. There is 
no Irish or any other authority of an older date for the application of 
the name of Scots to the people of Erin. Irish writers themselves 
suggest that sciot^ a dart or arrow, may have been the origin of the 
word Scythia; and with more probability might it have been that of the 
name Scoti, or Scots, as applied to men armed with weapons so called; 
and once the name, from this or any other cause, came to be applied to 
the natives of Ireland, it is easy, we are told, to imagine how the Irish 
bards built upon it a fine romance, deriving it from an imaginary 
daughter of King Pharaoh, and perhaps borrowing from it also the idea 
of claiming for their nation descent from Scythia, the region, at that 
time, of fabulous heroism. These theories give wide scope to the imagi- 
nation, and would substitute for the traditions of the old annalists con- 
jectures quite as vague and inconclusive, however ingenious and learned 
they may be.* 

It is generally agreed that the Firbolgs, or Belgians, were a pastoral 
people, inferior in knowledge to the Tuatha de Dananns, by whom, 
although the latter were less numerous, they were kept in subjection. 

* Fiach's hymn, admitted to be the composition of a disciple of St. Patrick, refers to the Milesian 
traditions of the Irish ; and among the authorities most frequently quoted by Keating, O'Flaherty, 
and other old writers, on the period of the Tuatha de Dananns, Firboli^s, and the Jlilesian colony, 
on account of their works being still pre.>erved, are Maelmura of Fathan, who died A.n. 884; 
Eochy O'Flynn, who died a.d. 984 ; Flan Mainistreach, who died A.n. 1056 ; and Giolla Kevin, 
who died AD. 1072; all of whom related in verse the written and oral traditions received by 
themselves from preceding ages. Shortly after the, establishment of Christianity in Ireland, the 
chronicles of the basds were replaced by regular annals, kept in several of the monasteries, and from 
this period we may look upon the record of events in our history as, morally speaking, accurate. 
The statement of Mr. Moore, and of others of his school, that the primitive tnylitions of Irish 
history were fabricated to please a f;illen nation witli delusions of past glories, is monstrously 
absurd. They were in existence, and were cberislied by the people ages before the fallen circum- 
stances which Mr. Moore contemplates. 


It is also admitted that the Tuatha de Danann race were superior in 
their knowledge of the useful arts and in general information to the 
Gadelian, or Scottish colony, who, however, excelled them in energy, 
courage, and probably in most physical qualities. To their intellectual 
superiority the Danann colony owed their character of necromancers, as 
it was natural that a rude and ignorant people at that age should look 
upon skilled workmanship and abstruse studies as associated with the 

It is probable that by the Tuatha de Dananns mines were first worked 
in Ireland ; and it is generally believed that they were the artificers of 
those beautifully-shaped bronze swords and spear-heads that have been 
foimd in Ireland, and of which so many fine specimens may be seen in 
the museum of the Royal Irish Academy. The sepulchral monuments, 
also, of this people evince extraordinary powers of mind on the part of 
those by whom they were erected. There is evidence to show that 
the vast mounds, or artificial hills, of Drogheda, Knowth, Dowth, and 
New Grange, along the banks of the Boyne, with several minor tumuli 
in the same neighbourhood, were erected as the tombs of Tuatha de 
Danann kings and chieftains, and as such they only rank after the 
pyramids of Egypt for the stupendous efforts which were required to 
raise them.* 

As to the Firbolgs, it is doubtful whether there are any monuments 
remaining of their first sway in Ireland ; but the famous Dun Aengus 
and other great stone forts in the islands of Aran are well-authenticated 
remnants of their military structures of the period of the Christian era, 
or thereabouts. That the Tuatha de Dananns were not a warlike 
people appears from the tradition of their remonstrance against the first 
landing of the Milesians, when they admitted that they had no standing 
army to resist invasion.f 

Again the question is raised, were these Firbolgs, and Tuatha de 
Dananns, and Gadelians, all Celts ? And, in reply, it must be said that 
the term Celt, or Kelt, as it is more correctly pronounced, was unknown 

• See Dr. Petrie's " History of Tara Hill," and Dr. Wilde's " Beauties of the Boyne and Black- 

t In the Book of MacFirbis, written about the year 1C50, it is said that " every one who is 
black, loquacious, 1} ing, taletelling, or of low and grovelling mind, is of the Firbolg descent ;" and 
that " every one who is fair-haired, of large size, fond of music and horse-riding, and practises the 
art of magic, is of Tuatha de Danann descent." See these passages quoted by Dr. Wilde in au 
ethnological disquisition on these ancient races, founded on the peculiarities of human crania dis- 
covered under circumstances that identify them as belonging to tlie two races respectively. 
'Beauties of the Boyne and Blackwater," pp. 212, 239. 


to the Irish themselves; that the word is of classic origin, and was pro- 
bably as indefinite as most geographical names and distinctions at that 
period appear to have been. Finally, it is suggested that in all pro- 
babihty none of the immigrations into Ireland were unmixed, and that 
the first population of the island was composed of Celtic, Slavonic, and 
Teutonic races, mixed up in different proportions. A Scythian origin is 
claimed for all In the Irish traditions, in which all are traced to Japhet, 
the son w'ho received the blessing, and through him to the cradle of our 

* O'FIalierty, in the first part of the Ogygia, gives the following as the results of his researches 
about the original inhabitants of Ireland : — Tliat the first four colonies came into Ireland from Great 
Uritain: that Partholan and Nemedius, descendants of Gomar by Riphat, ^Tie from Northern, 
and the Firbolg colony from Southern Britain ; that these races spoke different languages; that 
tlie Tuatha de Dananns were the descendants of the Nemedians, who, after sojourning in Scan- 
dinavia, returned into North Britain, and thence, in the lapjie of time, into the north of Ireland; 
that the Dananns being subdued by the Scots, the Firbolgs, under the latter, again flourished in 
Ireland, and enjoyed the sovereignty of Connaught f>r several ages; that the Fomorians, whether 
tlie aborigines of Ireland or not, were not descendants of Cham, nor from the shores of Africa, but 
from that country whence the Danes, in after ages, invaded Ireland; and finally, that the Firbolgs 
and Tuatha de Dananns had frequent intercourse with each other before the conquest of Ireland by 
the latter." 


The Milesian Kings of Ireland. — Trial the Prophet. — Tiemmas. — Crom Cruach : 
the Paganism of the Ancient Irish. — Social Progress. — The Triennial Assembly 
or Parliament of Tara. — Cimbaeth. — Queen Macha. — Foundation of Emania. — 
TJgony the Grra t. — 'New Division of Ireland. — Pagan Oath. — A Murrain. — 
Maeve, Queen of Connaught. — Wars of Connaught and Ulster. — Bardic 

sucli as 

ROM the conquest of Ireland (b.c. 1700*) by the sons of 
Gollamli, or Milesius, to its conversion to Christianity by 
St. Patrick (a.d. 432), one hundred and eighteen sove- 
reigns are enumerated, whose sway extended over the 
whole island, independent of the petty kings and chief- 
tains of provinces and particular districts. Of this number, 
sixty Avere of the race of Heremon, twenty-nine of the 
posterity of Heber Finn, twenty-four of the line of Ir, 
three were descended from Lugaid, the son of Ith, one 
was a plebeian, or Firbolg, and one was a woman. The 
history of their reigns is, to a great -extent, made up of 
wars either among different branches of their own race 
or against the Firbolgs and others ; but numerous events 
are also recorded which mark the progress of civilization, 
the clearing of plains from woods, the enactment of laws, the 
of palaces, &c. The breaking forth of several rivers and other 
phenomena arc mentioned, and a great number of legends 
many of them curious specimens of ancient romance, 
surnamed Faidh, or the Prophet, son of Heremon, began the 

* We continue to employ the chronology of the Four Masters, simply turning the years of the 
world into the corresponding years before Christ, as being more intelligible; but the reader will 
observe that, as already stated, no reliance is to be placed on these dates until we arrive witldii a 
few centuries of the Christian era. All the computations at this early period are equally uncertain ; 
and we insert the dates merely for the sake of method, to mark the order of events, the nlalive 
duration of reigns, &c 


struggle against the Foinorians and Firbolgs, the latter of whom kept 
the Milesian armies occasionally occupied for centuries after. The 
tribes of Firbolgs most frequently mentioned are the Ernai and the 
Martinei, the former of whom are described in one place as holding the 
present county of Kerry, and the latter the southern portion of the 
county of Limerick ; and in the reign of Fiacha Lavrainne, who was 
killed in the year B.C. 1449, the Ernai are stated to hare been routed in 
battle on a plain where Lough Erne, so called from them, subsequently 
flowed over the slain. Lial Faidh died on Magh Mual, which is sup- 
posed to be the plain near Knock Moy, a few miles from Tuam, after 
clearing a great many extensive plains and erecting several forts during 
the ten years of his reign. 

B.C. 1620. — Among the early j^lilesian kings a prominent place is 
assio-ned to Tiernmas, who is said to have been the lirst to institute the 
public worship of idols in Ireland. The notion which we can form of 
the paganism of the ancient Irish is extremely obscure. Owing to the 
scanty information which the old manuscripts afford vis on the subject 
every one who has written about it has had ample scope for his own 
favorite theory, and some of these theories have been advanced with 
scarcely a shadow of foundation. We shall revert to this subject again, 
and for the present shall refer only to the worship of Crom-Cruach, the 
chief idol of the Irish, which stood in INIagh-Slecht, or the Plain of 
Adoration, in the ancient territory of Breifny.* This idol, wdiich was, 
covered with gold, was said to represent a hideous monster, and its 
name implies that it was stooped, or crooked, and also that it was black, 
for it is sometimes called Crom-Duv. It was surrounded by twelve 
smaller idols, and was destroyed by St. Patrick, who merely stretched 
forth towards it, from a distance, his crozier, which was called the Staff 
of Jesus. It is probable that Tiernmas only erected the rude statue, 
and that he found the worship prevailing in the country, and handed 
down, it may be, from the earliest Milesians ; but, at all events, he was 
punished for his idolatry by a terrible judgment, having been struck 
dead, with a great multitude of his people, while prostrate before Crom- 
Cruach, on the Night of Savain, or All Hallow Eve. Tiernmas reigned 
seventy-seven, or, according to others, eighty years ; and it was under 
him that gold was first smelted in Ireland, in the district of Foharta, 

- * The village of Ballymagauran and the island of Port, in the present county of Cav;ui, are 
situated in the plain anciently called Magh-Sleclit. The idol stood near a river called Gatbuvd, 
and St. Patrick erected a church called Dono^hmore in the immediate vicinity of the place. ''^-^ 
0' Donovan's notes at n-igu of Tighcrnnia.<!. Four Masters a.m. 3650. 


east of the river Liffey, and that goblets and brooches were first coveri d 
with gold. According to Keating, it was he who first ordered that the 
rank of persons should be distinguished b}' the number of colors in their 
garments: thus, the slave should have but one color, the peasant two, 
the soldier three, the keeper of a house of hospitality four, the chieftain 
of a territory five, the ollav, or man of learning, six, and in the clothes 
of kings and queens seven colors were allowed. This regulation is 
attributed by the Four IMasters to the successor of Tiernmas, and the 
rule is also somewhat differently stated.* 

In the reign of Enna Airgeach, e.g. 1?i83, silver shields were first 
made at Airget-Ross, or the Silver Wood, on the banks of the river 
Nore. They were given, together with horses and chariots, to the 
heroes and nobility. King Monemon, who died of plague, B.C. 1328, 
first caused the nobility to wear chains of gold on their necks and rings 
of the same metal on their fingers. Deep wells were first dug in the 
reign of Fiacha Finailches, by Avhom the town of Ceanannus, or Kells, 
was founded, B.C. 1200. Four-hcrsed chariots were first used in the 
time of Roiachty, who was killed by lightning at Dun Se^•erick, near 
the Giant's Causeway, B.C. 1024. Stipends, or wages, were first paid 
to soldiers, and probably to other persons in public employments, in the 
reign of Sedna Innarry, b.c. 910; and silver coin is stated to have beeu 
first struck in Ireland, at the silver works of Airo-et-Ross, in the reii^u 
of Enda Dearg, who, with many others, died of plague, at Slieve Misii, 
B.C. 881. 

But the greatest step in social progress at that remote period of Irish 
history was the institution of the Feis Teavrach, or triennial assembly of 
Tara, by Ollav Fola (Ollamh Fodhla), the beginning of Avhose reign is 
fixed by the Four IMasters at the year of the world 3883, corresponding 
with the year b.c. 1317. If we suppose the event ante-dated even by 
several centuries, this assembly would, nevertheless, appear to be one of 
the earliest instances of a national convocation or parliament in any 
country. All the chieftains or heads of septs, bards, historians, and 
military leaders throughout the country were regularly summoned, a]id 
were required to attend under the penalty of being treated as the king's 
enemies. The meeting was held in a large oblong hall, and the first 
three days were s]ient in enjoying the hospitality of the king, who 
entertained the entire assembly during its sittings. The bards give 
long and glowing accounts of the magnificence displayed on these 

* The Fcottis'i p!f id is traced to this early origin. 


occasions, of the formalities employed, and of the business transacted.. 
Tables were arranged along the centre of the hall, and on the walls at 
tither side were suspended the banners or arms of the chiefs, so that 
each chief on entering might take his seat under his own escutcheon. 
Orders were issued by sound of trumpet, and all the forms were charac- 
terized by great solemnity. What may have been the authority of this 
assembly, or whether it had any power to enact laws, is not clear ; but it 
would appear that one of its principal functions was the inspection of 
the national records, the writers of which were obliged to the strictest 
accuracy under the weightiest penalties. These accounts of the Feis of 
Tara must be taken Avith due allowance for the coloring which the 
more ancient traditions on the subject received from the later writers 
who have delivered them to us; but however cautiously we regard 
them — and no student of antiquity will now-a-days venture wholly to 
reject them — they should satisfy us that the pagan Irish were acquainted 
with the art of v/riting, notwithstanding the opinion to the conti'ary of 
so many moderns, who hold that letters were not introduced into Ireland 
before the time of St. Patrick, 

Besides the establishment of the triennial assembly, Ollav Fola appears 
to have instituted other wise regulations for the government of the 
country. Over every cantred, or hundred, he appointed a chieftain, 
and over each townland a kind of prefect or secondary chief, all being 
the servants of the king of Ireland. He constructed a rath on Tara, 
called from him Mur-Ollavan, and died there, after a useful reign of 
forty years.* 

A few of the Irish monarchs enjoyed very long reigns. Thus, Sirna 
Selach governed Ireland for 150 years; and in a battle which he fought 
against the race of Heber, the Fomorians having been brought in to aid 
the latter, a plague fell upon them during the fight, and many thousands 
of his enemies perished on the spot. And of king SlanoU (that is, all 
health) it is related that there was no sickness in Ireland during his 
reign; that he himself died without any apparent cause; and that his 
body remained uncorrupted and without changing color for several 
years after his death. 

B.C. 716. — The reign of Cimbaeth brings us to the commencement of 
what, according to Tigernach, may be considered as the authentic period 
of the Irish annals.f It is also a remarkable epoch for other reasons, 

* The real name of this king was Eochy ("pronounced Achy), but he is only known by his 
surname of Ollav Fola, that is, the chief poet or learned man (Ollav) of Ireland (Fola). 

t The Four Masters assign the beginning of his reign to a.m. 4484, conesponding with the year 


and especially for the foundation of Emania, the royal palace of Ulster. 
The story of this palace is curious. Ahout this period there lived three 
princes, Hugh Roe, or the Red; Dihorba, and Cimbaeth (pronounced 
Kimbahe), the sons of three brothers, and all three claimed equal right 
to the crown. A contest consequently arose, which was finally adjusted 
by a solemn engagement that they should reign in turn for seven years 
each ; and this agreement was strictly carried out, until, at the end of 
his third period of seven years, Hugh Roe was drowned at Easroe, or 
Red Hugh's Cataract,* and left a daughter, Macha, surnamed Mongroe, 
or the Red-haired, who, when her father's tiu^n to rule came round 
again, claimed it in his stead, and made war on the other two compe- 
titors to assert her right. A battle was fought, in which the red-haired 
lady was victorious; and Dihorba having been slain, Macha arranged 
the dispute with the survivor, Cimbaeth, by marrying him and making 
him king. She then, as the legend goes, followed the five sons c f 
Dihorba into Connaught, captured them by stratagem among the rocks 
of Burrin, and compelled them to build her a palace, the site of which 
she herself marked out with the bodkin or pin of her cloak, whence the 
name of the new palace, Eamhuin, which signifies a neck-pin. At all 
events, it was at the desire of Macha, and in the reign of her husband, 
Cimbaeth, that the palace of Emania, so celebrated in the history of 
Ireland for many centuries after, was constructed. This was the resort 
of the Red-branch Knights, and the palace of the kings of Ulster for 
855 years,! until finally destroyed, as we shall see, by the three Collas. 
After the death of Cimbaeth, Macha reigned as absolute queen of 
Ireland for seven years, when she was slain by her successor, Rachty 
Ridearg, who, in his turn, was slain by Ugaine Mor, or Ugony the 
Great, who had been fostered by Cimbaeth and Macha, and thus 
avenged the death of his royal foster-mother. 

B.C. 633. — Ugony, who reigned forty years, is said to have carried 
his victorious arms far out of Ireland, so that his power was acknowledged 
"all over the west of Europe, as far as Muir-Toirrian," or the Mediter- 
ranean Sea. He divided Ireland among his twenty-five children, and 

B.C. 716. O'FIaherty fixed it at the year B.C. 352; Keatini^ about n.c. 460; and Tigemach at 
B.C. 305. Tills diversity exeniplilies tlie uncertainty of early Irisli chronology. 

* Now Assaroe, or tiie Salmon Leap, on the river linie at Ballysshaiiiioii, wliere Hugh Roe wag 
buried in the mound now called Mullaghsliee. 

t Annals of Clonmacnoiso. The remains of the palace of Eamhuin, or Emania, is now a very 
large rath, corrupt y called the Navan fort, situated about two miles west of Armagh. Near tiie 
hill is a towiiland vvlui_li still bears in its name of Creeveroe (Cra- bli-niadh), or the Red-branch, a 
niemirial of the ancient glory of the plate. — See Stuart's " llisluncal Memoirs of Armayk." 


exacted from the people an oath, according to the ancient Irish pagan 
form, " by the sun and moon, the sea, the dew, and colors, and all the 
elements visible and invisible," that the sovereignty of Erin should not 
be taken from his descendants for ever. This mode of binding posterity 
appears to have been a favorite one, as we find it again adopted, in the 
same precise form, by Tuathal Techtmar, one of Ugony's descendants. 
The subdivision of Ireland into twenty-five parts was preserved for oOO 

Ugony the Great experienced the same fate as nearly all these ancient 
sovereigns, who, with very few exceptions, were slain each by his 
successor; and among the most remarkable of the succeeding princes we 
find one named Maen, better known as Lavry Longseach, or Lowry of the 
Ships, who, having been driven into exile by his uncle, Covagh, son of 
Ugony, lived some time in Gaul, and returning thence with 2,000 
foreigners, landed on the coast of Wexford, and marched rapidly to the 
royal residence at Dinrye, on the river Barrow, which he attacked at 
night, killing the king, his uncle, and thirty of the nobles, and setting fire 
to the palace, which was burned to the ground. He then seized the 
crown, and having reigned nineteen years was, according to the customary 
rule, killed by his successor (b.c. 523). Many legends are related of this 
Lowry of the Ships ; and it is said that the foreigners who came with 
him from Gaul were armed with broad-headed lances or javelins (called 
in Irish laigline), whence the province of Leinster has derived its 

For some centuries, about this period, few events of note are recorded. 
In the reign of Brcsail Bodivo (b.c. 200), there was a mortality of kine, 
so great that, according to the Annals of Clonmacnoise, " there were no 
more then left alive bvit one bull and one heifer in the whole kingdom, 
which bull and heifer lived in a place called Gleann Sawasge," that is, 
the Glen of 'the Heifer, the name of a remarkable valley in the county 
of Kerry, where the tradition is still preserved. 

B.C. 142. — Eochy, or Achy, surnamed Feyleach, (Feidhleach) from a 
habit of constantly sighing, rescinded Ugony More's division of Ireland 
into twenty-five parts, and divided the island into five provinces, over 
each of Auhich he appointed a minor king, tributary to himself. To one 
of these, Tinne, the king of Connaught, he gave in marriage his daughter 

* Of Ugony's children twenty-two were sons, and of these only two left issue, all who claim to 
be of the race of Heremon tracing their descent through these two sons of Ugony. 

t This origin of the name is more generally received than the similar one mentioned above 
when treating of the Firbolg immigration. 


Maeve (Meadhbli) or Mab, or Maude, celebrated in the old poetic 
chronicles for her beauty and masculine bravery, with which, it mast be 
confessed, she did not combine the quality of feminine modesty. She 
figures as the heroine in many of the strange romances of the period ; 
among the peasantry her memory has descended to the present day as 
that of the queen of the Fairies of Connaught, and in her elfin 
character, although greatly metamorphosed, she is immortalized as the 
Queen Mab of English fairy mythology. 

After the death of Tinne, Maeve reigned alone as queen of Connaught 
for ten years, and then married Oilioll, the commander of the martial 
tribe of the Gamanradians, or Damnonian knights of lorras, a Firbolgic 
sept also celebrated by the bards as the Clanna Morna.* She made him 
king of Connaught, and survived him, although he lived to an advanced 
age. The Connaught palace of Cruachan was erected by her ; and in 
her time a war which lasted for seven years broke out between Ulster 
and Connaught, when the Gamanradians of lorras Domnan, and the 
knights of the Craev Roe, or Red Branch of Emania,t were arrayed 
against each other, and performed wonderful exploits of valour, queen 

• The return of a number of the Firbolgs to Ireland, in the time of Queen Maeve, is an interest- 
ing fact in our history. It is stated in a MS. account of the Firbolgs, by MacFirbis (for the 
translation of a portion of which, as well as for the identification of the names that follow, we are 
indebted to Professor Eugene Curry), that the remnant of that people who continued in the Danish 
islands (the Hebrides) were about this period banished by the Picts, and that they passed over to 
Ireland, where they obtained, upon rent, the lauds of Kath Cealtchair, Rath-Conrach, Rath-Comar, 
&c., in Mealh. The rent, however, was too heavy, and they eloped with all their moveables over 
the Shannon, and received from Aible (as he is here called) and Meabh, the king and ([ueen of 
that country (Connaught) lands running along the coast tVom Cruach Patrick to Loop Head, and 
embracing the .southern parts of Galway and Roscommon, and all Clare. They were called the 
Clann Unioir on their coming into Ireland on this occasion, from Aengus, the Son of Umor, who 
was their king. The lands which they received in the west, chiefly on the &3a-bord, continued to 
hear their names. Here are a few of them : — " Aengus, son of Umor, at Dun Aengusa, in Arann ; 
Cutra, atLoch Cutra (nearGort); Cinie, at Loch Cime (now Lough Hacket) ; Adhar, son of 
Umor, at Magh Adhair (poetically for Thomond) ; Mil, at Muirbheach Mil (now Murvagh, near 
Oranmore) ; Doolach, at Daoil (?) ; and Endach, his brother, at Teach n-Eamlaigh (?) ; Bir, at 
Rinn Beara West (now Kinnbarrow, in Lough Dergart, in the Shannon) ; Mogh, at Innsibh Mogh 
(Clew Bay islands): lorgus, at Ceann Boirne (Black Head); Banne Badanbel, at Laighhnne (?); 
Conchm-n (not Conchubhar) on the Sea, in Inis Meadhain (one of the Arran iMands) ; Loth- 
rach, at Tulaigh Lothraigh (?) ; Taman, son of Umor, at Rinn Tamain, in Meadraidhe (near 
Galway) ; Conall Caol, son of Aengus, son of Umor, at Carnconaill, in Aidhne (now the barony 
nf Kiltartan in Galway) ; Measca, at Loeh Measca (Lough Mask) ; Asal, the son of Umor, at 
Magh Asail, in Munster (plain round Tory Hill, near Croom) ; Beus Beann, son of Umor, the 
poet, &c." • 

t That the ancient Irisli in very remote times had certain local orders of knighthood, cannot be 
denied: and the statement that Cuchullainn was admitted among the Red-branch Knights of 
Emania at the ago cf seven receives a curious illustration from an incident recorded by Froissart, 
who relates that when four Irish king.s were offered the honor of knighthood by Richard, kuig of 
England, they stated that it had been already conferred on them, according to the custom of their 
own country-, when thuy were bu; seven ^ears of age — Fi:oissai;t, vol. iv., cliap. Ixiv. 


Maeve herself, at the head of her heroes, ('ashing into Ulster with lu-r 
war-chariots, and sweeping the cattle of the rieii fields oF Louth before 
her across the Shannon. This deed has been celebrated in the ancient 
historic tale of the Tain bo Cuailgiie, or Cattle-spoil of Cooley. The 
bards have indeed inv^olved the whole of this period in the wildest 
romance, tainted, as might be exjiected, by pagan mimorality, and 
darkened by deeds of cruelty in warfare.* They relate as the caiise of 
this war a moving tale about the fair Deardrv and th.e three sons of 
Uisneach, and the cruelty of Connor Mac Nessa, king of Ulster ; but 
the more probable account of the matter is, that Feargiis Rogy, who 
was driven from Ulster by Connor in one of their intestine broils, fled 
into Connaught, and engaged the interest, together with the affections, 
of Queen Maeve, and by her assistance made incursions into the territory 
of Connor Mac Nessa. Among the chami)ions of Emania in this war 
were Cuchullainn, and Conall Cearnach ; and among the Connaught 
heroes were Ceat Mac Magach, the brother of King Oilioll, and Ferdia 
Mac Damain, all names of Ossianic celebrity. 

Wlien Maeve was considerably more than 100 years old she was 
treacherously killed by the son of Connor in revenge for the death of 
his father, who was slain by Maeve's people ; and among her numerous 
children were three, of whom Feargus Rogy was the father, named Kiar, 
Conmac, and Core, the progenitors of many of the families of the west 
and south of Ireland. Maeve lived about the commencement of the 
Christian era, her death, according to Tigernach, having taken place in 
A.D. 70, although, according to the Four Masters, she flourished more 
than a century before the birth of Christ. 

This epoch is known in Irish history as that of the provincial kings ; 
and strange though it may seem, we have to trace to that remote date 
the origin of the worst ills of Ireland — namely, the subdivision of ter- 
ritory, and the establishment of a system of petty independent toparchs, 
which involved the country in perpetual local wars, and gradually 
extinguished every trace of a controlling power or central government. 

* About tliis perioil popular resentment rose so high thronshont Ireland against the filcas or 
bards, for their abuse of the numerous privileges which they enjoyed, and their perversion of the 
laws, that a general outbreak against them took place, and they were expelled, indiscriminately,' 
from a great part of the country ; but the tide of excitement was staid by Connor Mac Nessa, who 
prevailed on both parties to agree to certain reforms, and set the princiijal fileas to work upon a 
codification of the laws, which was accepted by the country at large, together with the reinstate- 
ment of the expelled fileas. — (^C Conor's Llsserialioiis, p. 131, cd. of IS! J.) 


Pagan kings of Ireland, continued. — Creevan brir)g=; home ncn spoils from 
Britain. — Insurrections of the Attacotti. — Massacre of the Milesian Nobles. — 
King Carbry the Cat-headed. — Reign of Tuathal Teachtar. — Felimj^ the Law- 
giver. — Conn of the Hundred Battles. — Wars of Conn and Eugene the Great. — 
Xew Division of Ireland. — Battle of Moylena. — Conary the Second. — The 
three Carbrys. — The Dalriads ; first Irish Settlement in Alba or Scotland. — 
Oiliol Olum, king of Munster. — Lewy MacCon. — Glorious Eeign of Cormac 
MacArt. — His Abdication. — Carbry Liffechar. — The Battle of Gavra. — Finn 
MacCuail and the Fenian Militia. — The three CoUas, — Fall of Emania. — 
Niall of the Nine Hostages, &c. 

[^From the Birth of Christ to x.t>. 400.] 

HERE is a difference of opinion as to what Irish king 
reigned at the birth of Christ ; for while the Four Mas- 
ters, O'Flaherty, and others assign that date to the reign 
of Creevan Nianair, the hundred and eleventh monarch 
of Ireland in O'Flaherty's hst, other calculations push 
forward the reign of Conary the Great, the fourth pre- 
ceding king, to the Christian era, and make Creevan a 
cotemporary of Agricola, the Roman governor of Britain. 
The latter king has been famous for his predatory excur- 
sions against the Britons, from one of which he brought 
home several " jewels," or precious objects, among the 
rest, " a golden chariot ; a golden chess-board, inlaid with 
a hundred transparent gems; a cloak embroidered with 
gold ; a conquering sword with many serpents of refined, 
massy gold inlaid thereon ; a shield with bosses of bright silver ; a spear 
from the wound infhcted by which no one recovered; a sling from 
which no erring shot was discharged, &c. ;" and after depositing these 


spoils in Dun Creevan,* at Bin Edar, he died, as the Four Masters have 
it, m the ninth year of Christ. 

It is thought to have been about this time that a certain recreant Irish 
chief waited on Agricola, in Britain, and invited him to invade Ireland, 
stating that one Roman legion and a few auxiliaries would be sufficient 
to conquer and retain the island. Agricola saw the importance of 
occupj-ing a country so favorably situated, and prepared an expedition 
for the purpose ; but the project was abandoned for some cause not 
known, probably owing to the formidable military character of the people 
of Ireland ; and although Britain remained a province of the Roman 
empire for centiu'ies after, and the natural Avealth of Hibernia was Avell 
known, foreign merchants being even more familiar with her ports than 
with those of Britain, still a Roman soldier never set hostile foot on her 
much-coveted shores. The Scots of Ireland, and their neighbours, the 
Picts, gave the Roman legions quite enough to do to defend Britain 
against them from behind the ramparts of Adrian and Antoninus.t 

While the Milesians were exhausting their strength in internecine wars 
at home, or with incursions beyond the seas, a large portion of the 
population of Ireland, composed of various races, and with different 
sympathies, was engaged upon more peaceable pursuits. Those who 
boasted of a descent from the Scytho-Spanish hero would have considered 
themselves degraded were they to devote themselves to any less honor- 
able profession than those of soldiei's, ollavs, or physicians ; and hence 
the cultivation of the soil, and the exercise of the mechanic arts, were 
left almost exclusively to the Fhbolgs and the Tuatha-de-Dananns ; the 
former people in particular being still very numerous, and forming the 
great mass of the population in the west. These were ground down by 
high rents, and the exorbitant exactions of the dominant race, in order 
to support their unbounded hospitality, and defray the expenses of their 
costly assemblies ; but this oppression must have caused perpetual dis- 
content, and the hard-working plebeians, as they were called, must have 

* Dr. Petrie and Dr. O'Donovan think that the Dun Crimhthain, or Fort of Creevan, was 

situated on the jutting rock where the Bailey lighthouse now stand.s, at IIow;h. 

t The passage of Tacitus in which the meditated Roman invasion of Ireland is mentioned is 
extremely interesting. Describing the proceedings of Agricola in the fifth year of his campaigns 
in Britain, he say.s; — "Earn partem Britannise quae Hiberniam aspicit caepiis instruxit, in spem 
magis quam ob f irmidinem ; siquidem Hibernia medio inter Britanniam atque Hispaniam sita, et 
Gallico quaeque mari opportuna, valentijsiinam imperii partem magnis inviceni usibus miscuerit. 
Spatium ejus, si Britannia; coraparetur, augiistius, iiostri maris insulas siiperat. Sulum, caelumque 
et ingenia, cultusque hominum, hand multum k Britannia diiferunt. Melius aditus portusque pel 
commercia et negotiatores cogniti. Agricola expulsum seditione domestica unum ex regulis gentis 
exceperat, ac specie amicitia; in occasionem retinebat. S«pe e.^ eo audivi, legione una et msedici* 
auxiliis debeUari obtinerique Hiberniam posse." — Vita JuUi A^ric, c. 24. 


easily perceived that their Gadelian masters were running headlong to 
destruction, and that it only required a bold effort to shake off their yoke. 
It would be curious to know how this feeling developed itself until it 
was finally acted upon, or whether the popular discontent had any con- 
nexion with the invitation to the Roman general just referred to. Of 
the singular and successful revolution which was the result we have 
no accounts but such as reach us from a hostile source, and are 
colored by undisguised prejudice. According to these statements, the 
Aitheach-Tuatha, or Attacotti, as they are called in Latin, that is, the 
plebeians and helots of the conquered races, with many also of the im- 
poverished Milesians, conspired to seize the country for themselves.* 
For this purpose they invited all the kings and nobles, and other leading 
Milesians, to a grand feast at Magh Cro, the great plain near Knockma, 
in the county of Galway ; and to provide for a banquet on such a scale, 
the plebeians spent three years in preparations, during which time they 
saved one-third of their earnings, and of the produce of the land. A 
great meeting and a feast seem to have had an irresistible attraction for 
the Milesians, who accordingly repaired to Magh Cro from every part of 
Erin, and there, after being feasted for nine days, they were set upon 
by the Attacotti, and massacred to a man. Only three chieftains, say 
the seanachies, escaped, and th-^se were still unborn ; their mothers, who 
were the daughters of the kings of Alba, Britain, and Saxony, having 
been spared in the general butchery, and having found means to escape 
into Albion, where the three young princes were born and educated. It 
is plain, however, that many others also survived, as several Milesian 
families, not descended from these, are subsequently found in Ireland. 
The annals do not say how the conspiracy was hatched, and so effectively 
concealed during the many years required to bi'ing it to maturity ; but 
after the massacre the Attacotti elected as their king, Carbry, one of 
their three leaders, who through contempt is called Carbry Cinncait, or 
the cat-headed, from having ears like those of a cat. Carbry reigned 
five years, during which time there was no rule or order, and the country 
was a prey to every misfortune. " Evil was the state of Ireland during 
his reign ; fruitless her corn, for there used to be but one grain on the 
stalk ; fruitless her rivers ; her cattle without milk ; her fruit without 
plenty, for there used to be but one acorn on the oak."t In fact 

* Several races were mixed up in the population of Ireland at the time of the Aitheach-Tuatha. 
Some say that their lung, Carbry Cinnceat, was a Scandinavian. The Tuatha-Eoluirg who livtd 
at that time in Tyrone were a Scandinavian race 

♦ Annals of the Four ihisteis. 


the civil war was followed by one of its natural consequences, a 

A.D. 14. — After the death of Carbry, his son, the wise and prudent 
Morann, refused the crown, and advised those who pressed it on him to 
bring back the rightful heirs. The young princes were accordingly in- 
vited home from their exile ; Faradach Finnfeachtnach, or the Righteous, 
the son of Creevan, was elected king of Ireland ; and Morann, the Just, 
administered the law during his reign, so that peace and happiness were 
once more restored to Erin. "The seasons were tranquil, and the earth 
once more brought forth its fruit." It was Morann who made the famous 
collar or chain which judges after him were compelled to wear on their 
necks, and which, according to the legends, contracted and threatened 
to choke them when they were about pronouncing an unjust judgment. 
This collar is mentioned in several commentaries on the Brehon laws 
among the ordeals of the ancient Irish, and was used to test the guilt or 
innocence of acc.used persons. 

The Attacotti were now subjected to more grievous oppression than 
ever ; and on the death of Faradach a fresh rebellion broke forth. 
This time the provincial kings were induced to join in the outbreak, which 
resulted (a.d. 56) in a desperate battle at Maghbolg, on the bounds of 
the present counties of Cavan and Meath, where the monarch, Fiacha 
Finfolay, was killed. Elim, king of Ulster, who had joined the plebeians, 
was chosen monarch, and had a troubled reign of twenty years, the 
people leading lawless lives, and the very elements, as in the former case, 
being at war with the usui'per ; but at the end of this interval Tuathal 
Teachtar, or the Legitimate, the son of Fiacha Finfolay, and born in 
exile, returned on the in\^tation of a sufficiently powerful party, and 
slew Elim in battle at Aichill, or the hill of Skreen, in Meath, and once 
more brought back prosperity and order to the land. (a.d. 76.) 

A.D. 106. — Tuathal Teachtar reigned thirty years, during which time 
he carried on a war of extermination against the ill-fated plebeians, no 
fewer than 133 battles hav-ing been fought with them in the different 
provinces. He established himself more firmly on the throne by exacting 
from the people a similar oath to that of Ugony Mor, "by the sun, moon, 
and elements," that his posterity should not be deprived of the sovereignty. 

• Flann of Monasterboice synchronises the reigns of Carbiy Cinncait and his immediate successor 
with the Emperors Titus and Domitian. Fifty years before tlio insuirectiou of the Attacotti. 
Conaire Mor, monarch of Ireland, was Idlled by insurgents at Bruighcau-da-Dhearg, on the; 
Dothair, or Dodder, a name which Dr. O'Donovan believes to be preserved iu that of Boher-na- 
Breena, the road of the Bruighean or fort. -^ 


He cut off from each of the other four provinces a portion of territory, of 
which he formed the separate province of Meath, as the mensal lands of 
the cliief king ; he celebrated the Feis of Tara with great state, and held 
provincial conventions at Tlachta, Uisneach, and Tailltinn, in the Momo- 
nian, Connacian, and Ultonian portions of Meath, and he imposed on 
the province of Leinster the degrading Boruwa, or cow-tribute, which 
continued during the reigns of forty succeeding monarchs of Ireland, 
being inflicted as an eric, or fine, on the king of Leinster, for having 
taken Tuathal's two daughters as wives, on the pretence, when he 
asked the second one, that the former wife was dead, the death of both 
being the consequence.* Tuathal's great power, or the oath he exacted 
from his subjects, did not save him from the usual fate of the Irish 
kings, as he was killed in battle by his successor, Mai, who, in his 
turn, was slain by Tuathal's son, Felimy Rechtar, or the Law-maker. 
Felimy, who died a.d. 119, was the son of a Scandinavian princess, 
named Baine, the daughter of Seal, king of Finland, and this connec- 
tion shows the intercourse that existed between the Scots of Ireland 
and the Northmen at this early period. The great rath of Magh Leavna, 
in the present county of Tyrone, was erected by this princess. Fehmy, 
the Law-giver, substituted for the principle of retaliation the law of Eric, 
or fine. 

A.D. 123-157. — The reign of Conn of the Hundred Battles forms one 
of the most remarkable epochs in the ancient history of Ireland. His 
surname sufficiently indicates the military character of his career, and his 
heroism and exploits are a favorite theme of the bards ; but Conn found 
a formidable antagonist in the brave and adventurous IMoh Nuad (]\Iogh 
Nuadhat), otherwise called Owen or Eugene the Great (Eoghan Mor), 
son of Mogh Neit, king of Munster, and the most distinguished hero of 
the race of Heber Finn, It would appear that tribes of the race of Ii',t 

* The Boruwa, or Leinster cow-tribute, which was the cause of innumerable wars, was levied 
every second year. Its amount is differently stated, but according to Mageoghegan's Annals of 
Clonmacnoise, it consisted of the following items: " 150 cows, 150 hogs; 150 coverlets, or pieces 
of cloth to cover beds withal ; 150 caldrons, with two passing great caidrons, consisting in breadth 
and deepness five fists, for the king's own brewing; 150 couples of men and women in servitude, to 
iraw water on their backs for the said brewing; together with 150 m&ids, with the king of 
Leinster's own daughter, in like bondage and servitude." The tribute was enforced for 600 
years. According to Tigernach, Tuathal was killed in the last year of Antoninus Pius, that is, 
about A.D. 160, showing, as usual, an error of the Four Masters in antedating. 

\ Ir, Avho was brother of Ileber and Heremon, was ancestor of the old kings of Ulster, whose 
descendants settled in various parts of Ireland, as the Magennises of Iveagh, O'Connors of Cor- 
comroe and Kerry, O'Loughlins of Burren, O'Farrells of Longford, MacHannalls of Leitrim ; the 
O'Mores and their correlatives, the seven septs of Leix, now the Queen's County ; and all the 
Connaught septs called Conmaicne. — L>r. 0' Donovan. 


called Erneans, and of the line of Itli,* gradually encroached on 
the territory of Heber's posterity, the legitimate possessors of the south- 
ern province, until they were able to seize the regal power, which they 
continued for some time to hold alternately to the exclusion of the line 
of Heber, When Eugene was still in his youth he was compelled to fly 
from his own country, the sovereignty of which was claimed by three 
princes of the hostile races, all of whom he regarded as usurpers ; and 
having repaired to liis fosterer, Daire Barrach, son of Cathaire Mor, king 
of Leinster, from whom he obtained such aid as enabled him to take the 
field in the assertion of his rights ; and in a short time he drove those of 
the Erneans as would not acknowledge his authority out of Munster, and 
struck up a temporary alliance with the chiefs of the race of Ith. The 
Erneans appealed to Conn, who embraced their cause, and thus a des- 
perate war broke out between Eugene and the monarch of Ireland, in 
the course of which the latter was defeated in ten pitched battles, and 
was so hard pressed as to be compelled to divide Ireland equally with the 
victorious Eugene ; the line of division being, the chain of sand hills 
called the Esker Riada, one extremity of which is the eminence on the 
declivity of which Dublin Castle stands, while its western terminus is at 
the peninsula of Marey, at the head of Galway Bay. The country to 
the north of this line was called Leath Cuinn, or Conn's half ; and all 
to the south Leath Mogha, or Moh Nuad's half ; and although this di- 
vision held in reality only for a very short time, some say for one year, 
it has ever since been preserved by Irish writers, who frequently employ 
these names for the northern and southern halves of Ireland. 

Eugene's ambition increased with his success, and he hastened to pick 
another quarrel with Conn, complaining that the principal resort of ship- 
ping was on the northern side of Dublin bay, in Conn's half, and insisting 
on an equal division of the advantages of the port. This demand was 
indignantly rejected by Conn, and both parties again took the field. A 
vivid, but fabulous, account of the brief campaign which ensued is given 
in the Irish historical romance of the battle of Magh Leana.f Eugene 

* Ith, the nncle of Milesius, was the ancestor of the O'Driscolls, and all their correlatives in the 
territory of Corca-Luighe (originally co-extensive with the dioccsu of Ross in Cork), the 
MacClancys of Dartry, in Leitrim, and other families. — Ibid. 

t This curious tract, which affords much interesting information on the manners and customs of 
the ancient pagan Irish, although its own antiquity is not very great, has been translated by 
Eugene Curry, Esq., M.R.I.A., and with a valuable introduction from that learned Irish ollav, has 
been puhlished by the Celtic Society. Magh Leaua, where the battle was fought, is the present 
parish of Moylana, or Kilbride, containing the town of TuUamore in the King's County. Tiger- 
naoh places ^e division of Ireland between Conn and Eoghan Mor under the date a.d. 160. 



in his youth had been obliged to fly to Spain, where he obtained Bera, 
the king's daughter, in marriage, and he was now, as the story just men- 
tioned relates, aided by an army of Spalnards, commanded by his brother- 
in-law, the Spanish prince Frejus. The hostile armies were drawn up in 
view of each other on Magh Leana ; but while an overweening confidence 
had made Eugene careless, a sense of inferiority in point of numbers 
rendered his foe double wary. An attack was made by the army of the 
north at the dawn of day, while the southerns were yet buried in 
sleep, and an utter defeat and slaughter followed ; Eugene and his 
Spanish ally being killed while slumbering in their tents by GoU, the son 
of Morna, one of the Belgic champions of Connaught. Two small hil- 
locks are shown to the present day which are said to cover the ashes of 
the brave and ill-fated Moha Nuad, and his Iberian friend * 

After a reign of thirty-five years, and in the hundredth year of his 
age (a.d. 151), while engaged in making preparations for the triennial 
convention or Feis of Tara, Conn of the Hundred Battles was murdered 
by Tibraid Tirach, king of Ulster, whose grandfather had been slain by 
Conn's father.f His successor and son-in-law, Conary II., is remarkable 
as the father of the three Carbrys, the progenitors of several important 
tribes. Thus, from Carbry Muse, six districts in Munster received the 
name of Muskery, one of these being the present baronies of Upper and 
Lower Ormond, in Tipperary ; and another, the barony of Muskery in 
Cork ; Carbry Bascain the second, gave his name to the territory of 
Corcabaiscinn, in the south-west of Clare ; and thirdly, from Carbry 
Riada (Riogh-fhada, i.e., of the long wrist), were descended the Dalriads 
of Antrim, and the famous tribe of the same name in Scotland.:}: 

* One of the acts which have rendered the memory of Moha Nuad famous in our annals was 
the saving of his kingdom of Muneter from a famine by his foresight in providing com during 
years of abundance. 

I Conn of the Hundred Battles was the ancestor of the most powerful families of Ireland, as the 
O'Neills, O'Donnells, O'iMelaghlins, Mageoghegans, Maguire?, MacMahons, O'Kellys, O'Cunors of 
Connaught, O'Dowdas, O'Malleys, O'Flahertys, &c. 

Cathair Mor, king of Leinster, and Conn's immediate predecessor as monarch of Ireland, was 
the ancestor of the great Leinster families of MacMurrongh Kavanagh, O'Conor Faly, O'Dempsey, 
O'Dunn, MacGorman O'lMurroughou (Murphy), O'Toole, O'Byrne, &c. The Leinster family of 
MacGillapatrick, or Fitzpatrick, of Ossory, do not trace their descent to Cathair Mor, but they 
and all the families mentioned in this note are of the race of Heremon, through Ugoiiy Mor. 

J The territory called Dalriada comprised the northern portion of the present county of Antrim, 
and it is probable that the name Route, applied to a part of the district, is a corruption of the 
ancient word. The name of Dalriada is not to be confounded with that of Dalaradia, also called 
Ulidia, and comprising the southern portion of Antrim and the eastern part of the county of Down. 
Dalaradia, or Dalaraidh, takes its name from Fiacha Araid, a king of Ulster of the Irian race, and 
was peopled by tribes of the line of Ir, or Rudricians (Clanna Rory), as they are frequently called 
from Rury, a king of Ulster of that race; whereas Dalriada belonged to the race of Heremon. A 
Pictish colony from Scotland settled in Dalaradia about a century before the Christian era. 

OII.IOL OLU>.. ' 37 

This Carbry Riada is mentioned under the name of licudii, bv Ven- 
erable Bede, as the leader of the Scots, who, coining from Hibernia nito 
Alba or Scotland, obtained, either by alliance or by conquest, from the 
Picts, the territory which they continued in his time to hold ; and as we 
shall hereafter see, it was about three centuries from this migration that 
a fresh colony from the Dalriada of Ireland, under Fergus, the son of 
Ere, invaded Scotland, and laid the foundation of the Scottish monarchy.* 
In the reign of Oiliol Olum, who was at this time king of Munster, a war 
raged, in which this king's step-son, Lewy, surnamed Mac Con, Avas the 
aggressor. Mac Con was the head of the descendants of Ith,t and with 
him were leagued the powerful tribe of the Erneans of Munster, and 
Dadera, the Druid of the Ithian tribe of Dairinni ; while on the other 
side were the King Oiliol, his numerous sons, and the three Carbrys, sons 
of Conary, monarch of Ireland. A battle was fought at Ceannfavrat,t 
in which several of the leaders on both sides were slain, and Mac Con 
having been worsted fled to Britain, whence he returned in a few years, 
with an army of foreigners, and again gave battle to his foes on the plain 
then called Magh Mucrive near Athenry, where he gained a decided 
victory, the then monarch of Ireland, Art the Melancholy, son of Conn 
of the Hundred Battles, together with seven sons of Oiliol Olum, falling 
in the conflict.§ Thus Mac Con obtained for himself the crown of Ard- 
righ, or chief king of Ireland. 

* The earliest mention of the name of Scots is by Porphyry, in tlie third century ; and the first 
mention of the Picts is by Eumenius, about tlie close of the same century. The words of Porphyry 
are quoted by St. Jerome — (Epist ad Ctesiphontem contra Pekignm.) Both Scots and Picts are 
referred to as nations well known at that time ; but then, and for many centuries after, the name of 
Scots was only given to the inhabitants of Ireland. Some modern writers insist that even in the 
time of St. Patrick the Scots were only a tribe or section of the inhabitants of Ireland, and that 
the people who composed the bulk of the population were those called by the Apostle " Hiberio- 
naces." The territory first acquired by the Gaels, or Scots, from the Picts, is the present county of 
Argyle, the name of which is contracted, says O'Donovan, from Airer-Gaeidheal, that is, the region 
or district of the Gaeidhil. 

t From this Mac Con are descended the O'Driscolls, and others not reckoned among the 
Milesian families, as they belong to the collateral line of Ith. 

J It is probable that Ceann-abhrat, or Kenfebrat, was the mountain now called Seefin, one of 
the Slieve Riach or Castle Oliver group of mountains, on the borders of the counties of Cork and 
Limerick. It is frequently referred to in the most ancient Irish records, and its position is indi- 
cated in the Book of Lisraore, fol. 207; and the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, lib. iii., c. 48. 

§ Oiliol Olum, king of Munster, was son of Mogh Nuadhat, or Eoghan Mor, and son-in-law of 
Conn of the Hundred Battles. Of his numerous progeny of children, three are particularly remark- 
able in Irish family history ; first, Eoghan Mor, or Eugene the Great, who must not be confounded 
with his grandfather bearing the same title. He was the progenitor of the great old South Mun- 
ster families called by the genealogists Eoghanachts or Eugenians, as the M'Carthys, O'Donohocs, 
O'Keefs, &c. ; secondly, Cormac Cas, king of Munster, and progenitor of the Dal Cassians or 
Thomond families, as the O'Briens, M'Mahons, M'Namaras, &c. ; and thirdl}', Cian, the ancestor 
of the families comprised under the tribe name of Cianachta, as the O'Carrols of Ely O'Carrol, 
O'Meagher, O'Connor of Glengiven, &c 


At this period flourished Cual, or Cumhal, father of the hero, Fuin 
Mac Cuail, and captain of the renoAvned Irish legion, called the Fianna 
Eirion, or Irish Militia, about which majrvellous stories are related by the 
bards and seanachies. This famous corps is supposed to have been 
organised after the model of a Roman legion, and to have been intended 
as a bulwark against Roman or other invasion. There can be no doubt 
that it was admirably trained, and composed of the picked men of Erin, 
but for its discipline and loyalty much cannot be said ; for after frequent 
acts of treason and insubordination, the monarch was finally obliged, as 
we shall presently see, to disband it, and to call in the aid of other troops 
to effect that object. To the treachery of the Fianna Eirinn Keating 
attributes the defeat and death of Art in the battle of Magh Mucrive. 

A.D. 227. — Cormac Ulfadha, the son of Art and grandson of Conn of 
the Hundred Battles, having removed the usurper Mac Con, and also 
another usurper of lesser note, named Fergus, ascended the throne of 
Tara, and his reign is generally regarded as the brightest epoch in the 
entire history of pagan Ireland. He set in earnest about the task of 
reducing the several provinces to a due submission to the sovereign; 
beginning with the Ulidians, next proceeding to Connaught, and subse- 
quently to Munster, with occasional incursions into all the provinces, 
gaining many victories, (although he had some reverses in the early part 
of his career,) and establishing his authority and laws everywhere at the 
point of the sword. In that rude age means so desperate may have been 
necessary to sustain any authority at all ; but when Cormac established 
his sway he made it subserve the cause of civilization and order in a man- 
ner never attempted by any of his predecessors. 

It is generally admitted that Christianity had even then penetrated 
into Ireland, and that its benign influence had reached this monarch's 
mind. Cormac, it is said, at the close of his life adored the true God, 
and attempted to put down druidism and idol worship. It is at all 
events certain that he endeavoui'ed to promote education. He established 
three colleges, one for war, another for history, and the third for 
jurisprudence. He collected and remodelled the laws, and published 
the code which remained in force until the English invasion, and outside 
the English Pale for many centuries after. He assembled the bards 
and chroniclers at Tara, and directed them to collect the annals of 
Ireland, and to continue the records of the country from year to year, 
making them synchronize with the history of other countries — Cormac 
himself, it is said, having been the inventor of this kind of clu'onology. 
These annals formed what was called the PsaUer of Tara, which also 


contained a description of the boundaries of provinces, canthreds, and 
smaller divisions of land throughout Ireland; but unfortunately this 
great record has been lost, no vestige of it being now, it is believed, in 

The magnificence of Cormac's palace at Tara was commensurate with 
the greatness of his power and tlie brilliancy of his actions ; and he 
fitted out a fleet, which he sent to harass the shores of Aiba or Scotland, 
until that country also was compelled to acknowledge him as sovereign. 
In his old age he wrote a book or tract called Teagusc-na-Ei, or the 
Institutions of a Prince, which is still in existence, and which contains 
admirable maxims on manners, morals, and government. There are 
blemishes on his character in the early part of his life, such as the 
employment of assassins to free himself from his enemies, and some 
shameful breaches of his engagements ; but he nevertheless stands forth 
as the most accomplished of the pagan monarchs of Ireland. As an 
instance of the barbarous manners against which he had to struggle, wo 
read that (most probably during one of Cormac's expeditions to a distant 
locality) his own father-in-lav/, Dunlong, kmg of Leinster, made a 
descent upon Tara, and for some cause which is not mentioned, 
massacred all the inmates of a female college or boarding-school, 
consisting of thirty young ladies of noble rank, whom some -writers 
suppose to have been druidesses, with their three hundred maids and 
attendants. Cormac avenged this atrocity by causing twelve dynasts 
or nobles of Leinster w^ho had been engaged in the massacre to be 
executed, and by exacting Tuathal's Boarian tribute, with an additional 
mulct, from the province. 

Cormac, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, having had his eye 
thrust out with a spear by Aengus, son of Fiacha Suihe, brother of 
Conn of the Hundred Battles, abdicated, in compliance with a law which 
required that the king should have no personal blemish, and retired to 
a philosophical retreat, but not until he had inflicted chastisement on 
the tribe whose head had thus maimed him.* He died (a.d. 266) at 
Cleiteach (near Stackallan Bridge, on the south bank of the Boyne), the 
bone of a salmon having choked him, through the contrivances of the 

* It Tva3 on this occasion that Cormac expelled the tribe of the Deisi, the descendants of Fiacha 
Suihe, brother of Conn of the Hundred Battles, from the territory which they held near Tara, now 
the barony of Deece, in the county of Meath ; and it was only after a lapse of some years that 
these people, afterwards so frequently mentioned in Irish historj', settled down in that territory of 
Munster, part of which has since borne their name, viz., the present baronies of Decies in the 
county of Waterford. The principal families of this tribe are the O'Brlcs, O'Phelans, O'Mearas, 
and O'Keans of Hy-Folay, &c. 


Druids, as it was thought, for his having abandoned their superstitions 
for the adoration of the true God. 

A.D. 268. — Carbry, son of Cormac Mac Art, and surnamed Liffechar, 
from having been fostered on the banks of the Liffey, was engaged 
during his reign in a desperate war with Munster " in defence of the 
rights of Leinster," and it was this quarrel which led to the battle of 
Gavra Aichill, celebrated in Irish bardic story. 

Finn Mac Cuail, and his Clanna Baiscne, or legion of Finian Militia, 
were, as we have said, but unsteady supporters of the sovereign ; and 
that illustrious warrior having been assassinated by a fisherman on the 
banks of the Boyne, whither he had retu'ed in his old age, the king took 
the opportunity to disband the Finian Militia, while the latter, instead of 
submitting to the monarch's commands, repaired to his enemy, Mocorb, 
son of Cormac Cas, king of Munster, and made an offer of their services, 
which was readily accepted. Carbry, upon this, applied for succour to 
Aedh, the last of the Damnonian kings of Connaught, who sent a bat- 
talion of his heroic militia, the Clanna Morna, the deadly enemies both 
of the Clanna Baiscne and of the Munster princes. Such were the rival 
military tribes who fought to mutual extermination in the bloody battle 
of Gavra (a.d. 284). Oisin, the warrior-poet, son of Finn Mac Cuail, 
celebrated the deeds performed on the occasion in verses which tradition 
has preserved for more than fifteen hundred years. Oscar, the son of 
Oisin, met Carbry in the fight, and fell in the ten-ific single combat which 
ensued between them ; but Carbry did not fare better ; for, while ex- 
hausted with fatigue and covered with wounds, he was met by his own 
kinsman, Semeon, one of the tribe of Foharta which^ad been expelled 
into Leinster, and fell an easy prey to his vengeance.* Thus ended the 
wild heroism of Finn, the son of Cual, and of his companions in arms, 
whose exploits were long the favorite theme of the Irish bards, by whom 
they were embellished Avith such fables and exaggerations as have re- 
moved them almost wholly into the region of mythology and romance.f 

" The tribe of the Foharta were the descendants of Eochy Finnfothart, uncle of Art, son of Conn 
of the Hundred Battles, and who had been expelled by Art from Meath. They obtained lands in 
Leinster, and gave their name to the territories forming the baronies of Forth in Wexford and 

f The reader will at o;ice be reminded by the names in the text of Macpherson's famous literary 
forgeries, the object of which was to rob Ireland of her Ossianic heroes and transfer them to the 
soil of Scotland. The cheat, however, was exploded a great many years ago. It is well known 
that Macpherson merely collected some of the traditional poems, which had been preserved by the 
Gaelic peasantry of the Scottish Highlands as well as in Ireland; and that partly by translation 
and partly by imitation of these remains, and without any attention to chronological order or 
correctness, but with innumerable perversions of sense, he composed those pretended translations of 
the poems of Ossian, which, for some time, enjoyed such wonderful celebrity, and which might 


A.D. 322.-^Fiacha Sravtiime, son of Carbry Liffecher, after reigning 
thirty-seven years, was slain by the three Collas, the sons of his brother, 
Eochy Doivlen ; but when the eldest brother, Colla Uais, had occupied, 
the throne four years, he was deposed and expelled, together with his 
brothers and a few followers, into Scotland, by Muireach Tirach, king 
Fiacha's son, who subsequently reigned as Ardrigh thirty years. In a 
short time the three Collas returned, and were reconciled to their cousin, 
king Muireach Tirach, who supplied them with means to gratify their 
restless ambition ; whereupon they entered Ulster with an army composed 
partly of auxiliaries from Connaught, and defeating the Ulster king in 
battle, in the present barony of Farney, in Monaghan, sacked and burned 
his palace of Emania — the Emania of Queen Macha, and of the Red- 
branch knights — and seizing a large territory for themselves, circum- 
scribed the kingdom of Ulster within much narrower limits than before. 
This event took place in the year 331 ; and the territory thus seized by 
the three Collas, and from which they expelled the old possessors, that 
is, the Clanna Rory, or descendants of Ir, was called Orgialla, or Oriel, 
and comprised the present counties of Louth, Monaghan, and Armagh.* 

A.D. 378. — Under this date we read of one of those domestic tragedies 
which savour of a somewhat more advanced age of civilization and in- 
trigue. Eochy Muivone, the son of Muireach Tirach, had two queens, 
one of whom, Mongfinn, or the Fairhaired, of the race of Heber, had four 
sons, the eldest of whom, Brian, the ancestor of the O'Connors of Con- 
naught, was her favorite, and, in order to hasten his elevation to the 
throne, she poisoned her brother Creevan, who had succeeded Eochy ; 
but, as the annalists observe, her crime did not avail her, for Creevan 
was succeeded, not by her son Brian, but by Niall of the Nine Hostages, 
the son of her husband Eochy by his former wife ; and none of her 
descendants attained the sovereignty, except Turlough More O'Connor, 

always interest the world as curious and beautiful productions if they had not been utterly spoiled 
by the taint of forgery and falsehood. Finn Mac Cuail was married successively to two daughters 
of the monarch Carmac Mac Art ; Ailve, the second, having been given to him after Graine, the 
former, had eloped with his lieutenant, Diarmod O'Duivne. Gavra Aichill, where the battle was 
fought, is believed by Dr. O'Donovan (Ann. Four Mast. vol. i., p. 120, n. b.), to have been conti- 
guous to the hill of Skreen, near Tara, in Meath. The name is preserved in that of Gowra, a 
stream in the parish of Skreen, which receives a tribute from the well of Neamhnach, on Tara 
Hill, and flows into the Boyne at Ardsallagh. The publications of the Ossianic Society have lately 
made the world familiar with many of the poems and legends about Finn Mac Cuail and his 

* Colla Uais, the oldest of the buthers, was the ancestor of the MacDonnells, Mac AUisters, and 
MacDugalds of Scotland ; Colla IMean, of the ancient inhabitants of the present district of Cre- 
morne, in Monaghan ; and Colla Dachricli, the youngest, of the MacMahons of Monaghan, the 
Maguirea of Fermanagh, the O'Hanlons and MacCanns of Armagh, &c. 


and his son Roderick, the unhappy king who witnessed the Anglo-Norman 
invasion of Ireland. The wretched Mongfinn tasted of the poisoned cup 
herself, to remove her brother's suspicions, and thus sacrificed her own 
life as well as his.* 

A.D. 379 — Niall, surnamed Naoi Ghiallach, or of the Nine Hos- 
tages, the ancestor of the illustrious tribe of Hy-Niall, or O'Neill, was 
one of the most famous of the pagan monarchs of Ireland, but his 
energies appear to have been wholly devoted to his hostile expeditions 
against Albion or Britain, and Gaul. In the history of those countries 
we find evidence enough of the fearful ravages inflicted in these 
expeditions. The Scots (or Irish) were as formidable at that time as the 
Northmen were in a subsequent age. Their incursions were the scourge 
of all western Europe. According as Rome, in her decay, became 
unable to protect her outlpng provinces, these terrible Scots, with 
their Pictish allies, plundered and laid waste the rich countries thus 
abandoned by the Roman eagle. The Britons were unable to make any 
stand against them. The Roman walls, when the Roman garrisons 
were removed, ceased to be any barrier ; and while the Dalriadic and 
Pictish armies poui'ed into Britain through the wide breaches made in 
the walls of Antoninus and Severus, the seas from north to south 
swarmed with the fleets of the Irish invaders. For a while Britain was 
wholly subdued, and we know from the Britons' own account, in their 
sad petition to Rome for aid, to what a miserable plight they were 
reduced, flying for shelter to woods and morasses, and fearing even to 
seek for food, lest their hiding-places should be discovered by the 
ruthless foe. It was to resist these Irish invaders that Britain was 
obliged to become an Anglo-Saxon nation. Yet, of the transactions of 
that eventful period our Celtic annals contain only the most meagre 
record. We know from other sources that Christian missionaries had 
at that time already penetrated into Ireland, but our annals pass over 
their presence in silence ; and it is to the verses of the Latin poet Claudian 
that we must refer for the fact that troops were sent by Stilicho, the 
general of Theodosius the Great, to repel the Scottish hosts, led by the 
brave and adventurous Niall.f 

* Creevan died in the Sliev Oighidh-an-righ, or " mountain of the king's death," no-iv the 
Cratloe mountains in the county of Clare, near Limerick. 

t At the time of the Scottish incursions into tlie Roman provinces, an important part was played 
by the people called Attacotti, a word which is believed to be a corruption of their Irish name of 
Aitheach-Tuatha. Some tribes of this great Firbolg race, in the course of the frequent wars waged 
against them in Ireland, settled in Scotland, not far from the Roman wall, and became active par- 
ticipators in the depredations of the Scots and Picts. Numerous bodies of them, who are supposed 


During the three successive reigns of Creevan, Niall of the Nine 
Hostages, and Dathy, our annals record no remarkable domestic wars ; 
but of the first of these three kings we are told that in his short reign he 
brought over numerous prisoners and hostages from Scotland, Britain, 
and Gaul ; of the second, it is recorded that he was slain by Eocliy, the 
son of Enna Kinsellagh, " at Muir-n-Icht, the sea between France and 
England," supposed to be so called from the Portus Iccius of Caesar, 
near the modern Boulogne ; while Keating says that it was on the banks 
of the Loire he was treacherously killed by the above-named domestic 
enemy, who had found his way thither in the ranks of Mall's Dalriadic 
allies from Scotland.* Finally, of Dathy it is related that he was killed 
by lightning, at Sliev Ealpa, or the Alps, and that his body was carried 
home by his soldiers, and interred at Rathcroghan, in Connaught, under 
a red pillar stone. Hoav this Irish king, in the year of our Lord 428 
penetrated to the foot of the Alps with his armed bands, traversing 
Europe, as Rollo did long after him, history does not particularly tell us, 
but it records enough about the devastating inroads of the Scots to satisfy 
us of its possibility-t 

Dathy, although not the last pagan king, was the last king of pagan 
Ireland, and after him we read no more in the Irish annals of plundering 
expeditions into foreign countries. It was probably in the last descent 

to have deserted from their allies, were incorporated in the Roman legions, and figured in the 
Roman wars on the continent at that period. 

One of the passages of Claudian, referred to above, is that in which the poet says: — 

" Totani cum Scotus leruem 
Movit, et infesto spuraavit remige Tethys." 
That is, as translated in Gibson's Camden : 

" When Scots came thundering from the Irish shores, 
And the ocean trembled, struck with hostile oars." 

* This great monarch (Niall) bad fourteen sons, of whom eight left issue, who are set down in 
the feHo^^ iug order by O'Flaherty (Ogygia, iii. 85) :— 1. Leaghaire, from whom are descended the 
O'Coindhcalbhains, or Kendellans, of Ui Laeghaire ; 2. Conall Crimhthainne, ancestor of the O'Me- 
laghlins; 3. Fiacha, a quo, the Mageoghegans and O'MoUoys; 4. Elaine, a quo, O'Cahamy, now 
Fox, O'Breen, and Magawly, and their correlatives in Teffia. All these remained in Meath. The 
other four settled in Ulster, wheie they acquired extensive territories, viz., 1. Eoghan, the ancestor 
of O'Neill, and various correlative families ; 2. Conell Gulban, the ancestor of O'Donncll, &c. ; 
3. Cairbre, whose posterity settled in the barony of Carbery, in the now county of Sligo, and in the 
barony of Granard, in the county of Longford ; 4. Enda Finn, whose race settled in Tir Enda, in 
Tirconnell, and in Kenel-Enda, near the hill of Uisneach, in Westmeath.— & Donovan. 

* The Abb6 M'Geoghegau mentions a curious corroboration of this event. He says (page 94, 
Duffy's ed.) :— " The relation of this expedition of Dathy agrees with the Piedmontese tradition, 
and a very ancient registry in the archives of the house of Sales, in which it is said that the king 
of Ireland remained some time in the Castle of Sales. I received this account from Daniel 
O'Mulryan, a captain in the regiment of Mountcashel, who assured me that he was told it by 
the Marquis de Sale?, at the table of Lord Mountcashel, who had taken him pi-isoner at the 
battle of Marseilles." 



of his predecessor, Niall of the Nine Hostages, upon Armoric Gaul, that 
the youth, Patrick, son of Calphurn, was, together with his sisters 
Darerca and Lupita, first carried, among other captives, to Ire- 
land. Holy prize ! thrice happy expedition ! Irishmen may well ex- 
claim; for although the conversion of their country to Christianity, 
in common with the rest of Europe, was an event that could not have 
been delayed much beyond the time at which it took place, whoever had 
been its apostle, it is impossible for any one who has considered, with 
Catholic feelings, the history of religion in Ireland, not to be impressed 
with the conviction that this country has been indebted in a special 
manner, under God, to blessed Patrick, not only for the mode in which 
she was converted, but for the glorious harvest of sanctity which her 
soil was made to produce, and for the influence of his intercession in 
heaven from that day to the present 


Civilization of the Pagan Irish. — Their Knowledge of Letters. — The Ogham 
Craev. — Their Eeligion. — The Brehon Laws. — Tanistry. — Gavel-kind. — 
Tenure of Land. — Rights of Clanship. — Reciprocal Privileges of the Irish 
Kings. — The Law of Eric. — Hereditary Offices. — Fosterage. 

E have thus succinctly, but carefully, analysed the entire 
pagan history of Ireland ; and before we proceed farther 
it is right to consider some interesting questions which 
must have suggested themselves to the reader, as we 
went along. As, for instance, what kind of civilization 
did the pagan Irish enjoy? what knowledge of arts and 
literature did they possess? what was the nature of their 
religion ? what is known of their laws and customs ? what 
monuments have they left to us? 

That the first migrations brought with them into this 
island at least the germs of social knowledge appears to 
be indisputable ; and although these were not developed 
into a civilization of arts and literature, like that of Rome 
or Greece, still, the social state which they did produce 
was far removed from barbarism, in the sense in which that term is 
usually understood. We have ample reason to believe, not merely 
that Ireland in her days of paganism had reached a point relatively 
advanced in the social scale, but that Christianity found her in a 
state of intellectual and moral preparation superior to that of most 
other countries. How otherwise indeed should we account for the 
sudden lustre of learning and sanctity, by which ic is confessed she 
became distinguished, almost as soon as she received the Gospel, and 
which surely could not have been so rapidly produced among a people 
60 barbarous as some writers would have us believe the Irish to have 
l>een before their conversion to Christianity? 


AVliile Ireland, isolated and independent, had lier own indigenous 
institutions, and her own patriarchal system of society, Britain and Gaul 
lay in subjection at the feet of Rome, of whose arts and matured 
organization they thus imbibed a knowledge. It is true, that what 
Celtic Britain thus learned she subsequently lost in the invasions of 
Saxons and Scandinavians, and that it w^as Roman missionaries and a 
Norman conquest that again restored to her the arts of civilization ; but 
this civilization it was, derived from Rome in the days of her decline, 
and modified by the barbaric elements on which it was engrafted, that 
created the centralised power, and sent out the mailed warriors, of the 
feudal ages, and that gave to Anglo-Norman England the advantages 
which she enjoyed, in point of arms and discipline, in her contest with a 
country which had dciived none of her military art, or of her political 
organization from Rome. This connexion with Imperial Rome, on the 
one side, and its absence on the other, were quite sufficient to detenriine 
the destinies of the two countries. But the state of a people secluded 
from the rest of the world, whose curious and interesting history we have 
been tracing for a thousand:.years or more before the liistory of Britain 
commences, and whose copious and expressive language, and domestic 
and military arts, and costume, and laws, were not borrowed from any 
exotic source, is not to be held in contempt, although unlike what 
had been built up elsewhere on the substructure of Roman civilization. 
Hence, if it be idle to speculate on what Ireland, w4th her physical and 
moral advantages, might have risen to ere this in the career of mankind, 
had her fate never been linked with that of England, it is, on the other 
hand, unjust to argue as English writers do, as to her fortunes and her 
progress, from the defects of her primitive and unmatured institutions, 
or from the prostrate state of desolation to which centuries of warfare 
in her struggle with England and her own intestine broils had reduced 
her. But here we are anticipating. 

St. Patrick, according to the old biographers, gave " alphabets " to 
some of those whom he converted, and this statement, coupled with the 
facts that we have no existing Irish manuscript older than liis time — nor 
indeed any so old — and that our ordinary Irish characters, although 
unlike Roman printed letters, are only those of Latin MSS. of the fifth 
and sixth centuries, have led some Irish scholars to concede too easily the 
disputed point, that the pagan Irish were unacquainted with alphabetic 
writing.* The Ogham Craov, or secret virgular writing, formed by 

* See the remarks on this subject in Dr. O'Donovau's elaborate Introduction to hia Irish 
Grummar ; in which, by quoting the opinions of Father Innea and Dr. O'Crieu, without expresding 


notches or marks along the arras edges of stones, or pieces of timber, or 
on cither side of any stem line on a plane surface, was only applicable 
to brief inscriptions, such as a name on the head-stone of a grave ; and 
the pagan antiquity of even this rude style of alphabet has been dis- 
puted by some ;* but innumerable passages in our most ancient aniicds 
and historic poems show that not only the Ogham, which was considered 
to be an occult mode of writing, but a style of alphabetic characters 
suited for the preservation of public records, and for general literary 
purposes, was known in Ireland many centuries before the introduction 
of Christianity. This fact is so blended with the old historic traditions 
of the country, that it is hard to see how the one can be given up with- 
out abandoning the other also. There are indisputable authorities to 
prove that the Latin mode of writing was known in Ireland some time 
before St. Patrick's arrival, as there were unquestionably Christians in 
the country before .that time, and as Celestius, the Irish disciple of the 
Aeresiarch Pelagius, is stated to have written epistles to his family in 
Ireland, at least thirty years before the preaching of St. Patrick ; but 
we go farther, for we hold, on the authority of Cuan O'Lochain, who 
held a distinguished position in this country in the beginning of the 
eleventh century, that the Psalter of Tara did exist, and was compiled 
by Cormac Mac Art in the third century, and consequently that the pagan 
Irish possessed a knowledge of alphabetic writing at least in that age.f 

One of the questions with reference to the pagan inhabitants of Ire- 
land, on which it is most difficult to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, 
is the nature of their religion The Tuatha de Dananns are said to have 
had divinities who presided over different arts and professions We 
have seen that Tiernmas a Milesian king (a.m 3580), was the first who 
publicly practised the worship of Crom Cruach It is quite probabfe 
that he was the first who set up rude idols for adoration in Ireland, but 
Crom Cruach is referred to as a divinity which the Milesians had always 
worshipped.^ That a superstitious veneration was paid to the sun, wind, 

dissent, he seems to grant that the Irish had no writing before St. Patricli's time. He also quotes, 
without comment, Charles O'Conor of Belanagar, who, in his introductory disquisition to the 
Ogygia Vindicated, abandons the whole story of the Milesian colony, &c., but holds that the pagan 
Irish had the Ogham, or virgular writing. 

* The Ogham inscriptions found in the cave of Dunloe, in Kerry, decidedly of a date anterior to 
Christianity, ought to be conclusive on this point. 

t The passage from Cuan O'Lochain's poem referring to the Psalter of Tara will be found in 
Petrie's History of Tara IJill. 

X The cloch-oir, or golden stone, from which Clogher in Tyrone is said to take its name, would 
appear to have been another of the ancient Irish idols. Cathal Maguire, compiler of the "Annals 
of Ulster" (^A.v. 1490), is quoted in the " Ogugia" part iii c. 22, as staling that a stone covered 


and elements, is obvious from the solemn forms of oath which some of 
the Irish kings took and administered ; and that fires were lighted, on 
certain occasions, for religious purposes, is also certain ; but beyond these 
and a few other facts, we have nothing on Irish authority to define the 
religious system of our pagan ancestors. They had topical divinities who 
presided over hills, rivers, and particular localities, but there is no 
mention of any general deity recognized by the whole people, unless 
the obscure, and not very old references to a god Beall, or Bel, be 
understood in that sense; nor is there any trace of a propitiatory 
sacrifice used by them. Their druids combined the offices of philoso- 
phers, judges, and magicians, but do not appear to have been saci'ificing 
priests, so far as the mention of them to be found in purely Irish autho- 
rities would lead us to conjectm'e.* The writings transmitted to us by 
the ancient Irish were not composed for the use of strangers, and hence 
the scantiness of their information on subjects which must have been 
well known to those for whom they were written. The religion and 
customs of the Celts of Gaul were minutely described by Csesar ; but 
whether his description of the druidical religion of that country 
was applicable to the Irish druids and their form of worship, we have 
no certain authority to enable us to judge. On this subject a great deal 
is left to conjecture, and the result is that we have had the wildest 
theories propounded, with the most positive assertions about fire wor- 
ship, pillar temples, budhism, druids' altars, human sacrifices, and sundry 
strange mysteries, as if these things had been accurately set forth in 
some authentic description of ancient Ireland ; whereas the fact is that 
not one word about them can be discovered in any of the numerous 
Irish manuscripts that have been so fully elucidated up to the present 

The laws of the ancient Irish formed a vast body of jurisprudence, of 
Avhich only recent researches have enabled the world to appreciate the 
merits. Several collections and revisions of these laws were made by 
successive kings, from the decisions of eminent judges, and these are 
what are now known as the Brelion laws.f 

■with gold was preserved at Clogher, at the right side of the church entrance, and that in that stone 
Kermand Kelstach, the principal idol of the northern parts, was worshipped. 

* From drai, or draoidk, a druid, comes the word draoidheacht (pronounced dreeacht), the ordi- 
nary Irish term for magic or sorcery. O'Eeilly says (Irish Writers, p. Ixxix.) that druidism 
cannot be proved to have been the religion of the pagan Irish, from the use of the word drai, 
which means only a sage, a magician, or a sorcerer ; and he shows that Morogh O'Cairthe, a 
Connaught writer, who died a.d. 1067, is called by Tigernach " Ard draei agus ard OUamh," 
*' chief druid aud ollav." The word may come from the Greek Apvs, or the Irish dair, an oak. 

t The labours of the Brehon Law Commission are still in progress as this History is going to 


One of the most peculiar of the ancient nativ-e laws of Ireland was 
that of succession, called tanaisteacht, or tanistry. This law wtis a 
compound of the hereditary and the elective principles, and is thus 
briefly explained by Professor Curry* : — " There was no invariable rule 
of succession in the Milesian times, but according to the general tenor 
of our ancient accounts the eldest son succeeded the father to the 
exclusion of all collateral claimants, unless it happened that he was 
disqualified by some personal deformity, or blemish, or by natural 
imbecilit}^ or crime; or unless (as happened in after ages), by parental 
testament, or mutual compact, the succession was made alternate in two 
or more families The eldest son, beiiig thus recognised as the presump- 
tive heir and successor to the dignity, was denominated tanaiste, that 
is, minor or second, while all the other sons, or persons that were eligible 
in case of his failure, were simply called righdhamhna, that is, king- 
material, or king-makings. This was the origin of tanaiste, a successor, 
and tanaisteacht, successorship. The tanaiste had a separate mainte- 
nance and establishment, as well as distinct privileges and liabilities. 
He was inferior to the king or chief, but above all the other dignitaries 
of the state. From all this it will be seen that tanistry, in the Anglo- 
Norman sense, was not an original, essential element of the law of 
succession, but a condition that might be adopted or abandoned at any 
time by the parties concerned ; and it does not appear that it was at any 
time universal in Erinn, although it prevailed in many parts of it. It is 
to be noticed also, that alternate tanaisteacht did not involve any dis- 
turbance of property, or of the people, but only affected the position 
of the person himself, whether king, chief, or professor of any of the 
liberal arts, as the case might be ; and that it was often set aside by 

The primitive intention was thai the inheritance should descend "to 
the oldest and most worthy man of the same name and blood," but 
practically this was giving it to the strongest, and family feuds and 
intestine wars were the inevitable consequence. 

As tanistry regulated the transmission of titles, offices, and authority, 
so the custom of gavel-kind (or gavail-kinne), another of the ancient 
institutions of Ireland, but which was also common to the Britons, 

press, and their result will throw, no doubt, a great deal of light upon the ancient customs and 
manners of Ireland. To the enlightened views and persevering exertions of the Kev. Dr. Graves. 
F.T.C.D., so ably sustained by the Kev. Dr. Todd, the country is indebted for obtaining this 
commission from the government; and to tlie great Irish learning of Dr. O'Donovan and Professor 
Eugene Curry, for carrying out its object successfully. 

* Introduction to the battle of Magh Leana, printed for the Celtic Society, Dublin, 1855. 


Anglo-Saxons, Franks, and otlier primitive people, adjusted tlie partition 
and inheritance of landed property. By gavel-kind the property was 
divided equally between all the sons, whether legitimate or otherwise, to 
the exclusion of the daughters ; but in addition to his own equal share, 
which the eldest son oh^fiined in common with his brothers, he received 
the dwelling-house and other buildings, which would have been retained 
by the father or kenfine, if the division were made, as it frequently was, 
in his own life-time. This extra share was given to the eldest brother 
as head of the family, and in consideration of certain liabilities 
which he incurred for the security of the family in general. If there 
were no sons, the property was divided equally among the next male 
heirs of the deceased, whether uncles, brothers, nephews, or cousins; 
but the female line, as in the Salic law, was excluded from the 
inheritance. Sometimes a repartition of the lands of a whole tribe, 
or family of several branches, became necessary, owing to the extinc- 
tion of some of the branches; but it does not appear that any such 
confusion or injustice resulted from the law, as is represented by Sir 
John Davies and by other English lawyers who have adopted his account 
of it.* 

The tenure of land in Ireland was essentially a tribe or family right. 
In contradistinction to the Teutonic, or feudal system, which vested the 
land in a single person, who was lord of the soil, all the members of a 
tribe or family in Ireland had an equal right to their proportionate share 
of the land occupied by the whole. The equality of title and blood thus 
enjoyed by all must have created a sense of individual self-respect and 
mutual dependence, that could not have existed under the Germanic and 
Anglo-Norman system of vassalage. The tenures of whole tribes were of 
course frequently distui'bed by war ; and whenever a tribe was driven or 
emigrated into a district where it had no hereditary claim, if it obtained 
land it was on the payment of a rent to the king of the district ; these 
rents being in some instances s,o heavy as to compel the strangers to 
seek for a home elsewhere.f It is within the memory of the present 
generation how the population of a large territory in the Highlands of 
Scotland continued to hold by the ancient Irish clannish tenm'e, and 

* See Dissertation on the Laws of the Ancient Iris written by Dr. O'Brien, author of the 
Dictionary, but published anonymously by Valiencey the third number of the Collectanea de 
litb. Ilib. In correction of what is stated above, we may mention, on the authority of Mr. Curr^v, 
that in default of any male issue daughters were allowed a life-interest in property. The term 
Kenfinfe, or Cean-fine, used above, was only applied to the heads of minor families, and never to 
any kind of chieftains — See Four Mast, vol. iv., p. 1117, note f. 

t Vide supra, page 28, note. 


were dispossessed and swept from the land, on the ground that the Eng- 
lish system gave the owner the right to remove them. 

The dignity of Ardrigh, or monarch of Irehmd, was one rather of 
title and position than of actual power ; and was always supported by 
alliances with some of the provincial kings to secure the respect of the 
others. It was thus that the chief king was enabled to assert his will out- 
side his own mensal province or kingdom of Meath ; but, in process of 
time, the kings of other provinces as well as INIeath became the monarchs. 
There was a reciprocity of obligations between the several kings and 
their subordinate chieftains ; the superiors granting certain subsidies or 
stipends to the inferiors, wdiile the latter paid tributes to support the 
magnificence or the military power of the former.* It sometimes 
happened that the succession to the sovereignt}' Avas alternate between 
two families, as that of Munster w^as between the Dalcassians and 
the Eugenians, both the posterity of Oiliol Olum; but this kind of 
succession almost always led to war. 

None of the ancient Irish laws has been so much decried by English 
writers as that of eric, or mulct, by which crimes, including that of 
murder, were punished by fines ; these writers forgetting that a similar 
law existed amonsj their own British and Anolo-Saxon ancestors. 
Punishment of murder by fine also prevailed under the Salic law; so 
that if the principle be abhorrent to our ideas at the present day, we 
know, at least, that it existed in other countries at the same remote 
period in which it was acted upon in Ireland.f It is not generally 
Icnown that in cases of murder the eric might be refused by the friends 
of the deceased, and punishment by death insisted on; yet such was the 
case. The law of eric was, therefore, conditional. 

All offices and professions, such as those of druid, brehon, bard, 
physician, &c., were hereditary; yet not absolutely so, as others might 
also be introduced into these professions. Among the remarkable 
customs of the ancient Irish those concerning fosterage prevailed, up to 
a comparatively recent period, and the English government frequently 

* These mutual privileges and restrictions, tributes and stipends, whether consisting of bondmen 
or bondmaids, cattle, silver shields, weapons, embroidered cloaks, refections on visitations, drinking 
horns, corn, or contributions in any other shape, will be found set down in the Leabhar na g-Ceart, 
or Book of Rights, edited for the Celtic Society by Dr. O'Donovan. Although a compilation of 
Christian times, being attributed to St. Benignus, the disciple and successor of St. Patrick, it 
describes the customs of the kings of Ireland as they existed in the ages of paganism. 

t See the laws of Athlestan; Howell Dda's Leges WaUicce; the Salic law, and other authorities 
Quoted in Dr. O'Brien's Dissertation, already referred to, pp. 394, &c. The law of Eric was 
abrogated before the English invasion, in the senate held by tlie Irish clergy, and Mortough More 
O'Brien, king of Munster and monarch of Ireland, a u. HI I. 


made stringent laws against them, to prevent the intimate friendships 
which sprung up between the Anglo-Irish families and their " mere" 
Irish fosterers.* It was usual for families of high rank among the 
ancient Irish to undertake the nursing and education of the children of 
their chiefs, one royal family sometimes fostering the children of another ; 
and the bonds which united the fosterers and the fostered were held to 
be as sacred as those of blood.f 

* Fosterage and gossipred. as well as intermarriages, with the native Irish, was declared to ba 
treason by the Statute of Kilkenny, 40th Ed. III., ad. 1367. 

f Giraldus Canibrensis, who rarely says a kind word of the Irish, observes, with an ill-natured 
reservation, "That if any love or faith is to be found among them, you must look for it among the 
fosterers and their foster-children." (To/;. Hib. Dist. 3, ch. 23). Stanihurst .says, the Irish loved 
and confided in their foster-brothers more than their brothers by blood : " Singula illis credunt ; iu 
eorum spe requiescunt ; omnium conciliorum suntmaximfe conscii. ColJactanei etiam eos fidelissimb 
ot amantissimfe observant." Ve Reb. Hib., p. 49. See also Harris'.s Ware, vol. ii.. p. 72. 


Social and Intellectual State of the Pagan Irish, continued. — "Weapons and 
Implements of Flint and Stone. — Celts. — Working in Metal. — Bronze Swords, 
&c. — Pursuits of the Primitive Eaces. — Agriculture. — Houses. — Raths. — 
Cahirs. — Cranogues. — Canoes andCurachs. — Sepulchres. — Cromlechs — Games 
and Amusements. — Music. — Ornaments, &c. — Celebrated Pagan Legislators 
and Poets. — The Bearla Peine, &c. 

N some compartments of the Museum of the Royal Irish 
Academy the visitor will see beautifully-shaped swords, 
spear-heads, and javelins of bronze ; and in others he will 
find a great variety of weapons and tools composed of flint 
and stone, from the rudely-formed stone celt and hammer, 
and the small chip of flint that served for an arrow-head, to 
the finally- fashioned barbed spear-head of the latter material, 
and the highly polished and well-shaped celt of hard stone. 
Both classes of objects belong to the pre-Christian ages of 
Irish history; and the questions arise — what time elapsed 
between the use of the one and of the other? or what races 
employed each? or were both kinds of materials in use 
among the inhabitants of Ireland simultaneously, and from 
their first arrival in the island? The ancient annahsts 
assure us that at least the Tuatha de Danann colony were acquainted 
with the use of metal when they first came to Ireland ; and this account 
is now so generally received, that wherever bronze weapons are found 
in sepulchral mounds with human remains, the latter are looked 
upon as those of the Tuatha de Danann race. Making every allowance, 
however, for the amplifications of the bards, and for the gradual progress 
which the arts must have made among all primitive races, we may take 
it for granted that the early inhabitants of Ireland employed such 
materials as flint flakes and stone in the construction of their weapons 
and instruments for cutting ; and stone, timber, and sun-baked earthen- 


54 WEAPONS a:n-d pursuits, etc. 

ware, for domestic uses ; first, perhaps, exclusively, and to a greater or 
less extent for a long time after the use of metals became familiar; as 
the latter material must have been scarce for many ages, while the 
former were always at hand, and required comparatively little skill in 
their adaptation. 

That the Irish became expert workers in metal at a very early period 
there can be no doubt, several specimens of their skill, besides bronze 
weapons, being preserved in the great national collection of antiquities 
just referred to. The occupation of smith, which included that of 
armom'er, ranked next to the learned professions among them; and 
at Airgatros or the Silverwood* forges and smelting works for the 
precious metals were established, where silver shields, which an Irish 
Idng presented to his chieftains or nobles, long before the Christian era, 
were made; and where, no doubt, some of those costly gold torques, and 
other ornaments of the same metal that enrich our museum, and that 
were worn by the pagan Irish princes and judges, were so skilfully 

The early inhabitants of Ireland were, like most primitive races, more 
devoted at first to nomadic than to agricultural pursuits ; bvit Avliile they 
contented themselves in the latter, for a long time, with the cultivation 
of only so much grain as served for their immediate wants, in the 
former they were restrained within certain bounds, as each tribe and 
family had only an allotted portion of land over which they could allow 
their flocks and herds to range. In process of time the population be- 
came so multiplied, and the resources of agriculture so important, that 
almost every available spot would appear to have been cultivated ; and 
we now see traces of the husbandman's labour on the tops of hills, and 
in other places in Ireland that have ceased to be under cultivation 
beyond the range of the oldest tradition. Between the periods when 

* Now Rathveagh, on the Eiver Nore, in Kilkenn)-. 

t The quantity of gold ornaments that have been discovered in Ireland is ahnost incredible. In 
digging for a railway cutting in Clare, in the year 1855, a hoard of these ancient treasures was 
found, worth, it is said, about £2,000 as bullion. They are frequently found in almost every part 
of Ireland, and besides the number accumulated in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, many 
are also to be seen in the windows of goldsmiths' shops, and unknown quantities of them have 
found their way into the crucible. " We know enough," observed the Rev. Dr. Todd, in his 
inaugural address as President of the Roj-al Irish Academy, in 1856, "to be assured that the use of 
gold rings, and torques, and circlets, must have been a characteristic of some of the aboriginal 
settlers in Ireland. Where did this gold come from ? There is no evidence of any trade at so early 
a period between the natives of Ireland and any gold-producing clime. Geology assures us that 
I liere are no auriferous streams or veins in Ireland capable of supplying so very large a mass of 
gold. It follows, then, that some tribe or colony who migrated into this country must hava 
carried these oruaments on their persons.' 


tlios3 mountain tracts, now covered with heath or moss, were made to 
produce the annual grain crop, and those far remoter ages when the 
first colony began to clear some of the impenetrable forests covering the 
surface of the then nameless Island of Erin, there must have been a vast 
interval and many phases of society — pastoral Firbolg, mechanical 
Tuatha de Danann, and warlike Scot or Gael, occupied the stage — yet 
to all of these our old annals, with the ancient historical poems which 
serve to illustrate them, seem to be tolerably faithful guides, showing 
us the hosts of rude warriors going to battle with slings, and with stone 
disks for casting, as well as the serried array of glittering spears, mid 
the gold and silver breast-plates, and embroidered and many-colored 
cloaks of the later, yet still pagan, times.* 

The houses of the ancient Irish were constructed for the most part of 
wood, or of hurdles and wickerwork plastered with tempered clay, and 
thatched with rushes. This use of timber for building was so general 
that even the churches for a long time after the introduction of 
Christianity were usually constructed of planed boards, which was 
described by Venerable Bede, in the eighth century, as a peculiar 
Scottish (that is, Irish) fashion ;t building with stone and cement being 

* See a minute description of the weapons and domestic implements used by the ancient Irish, 
so far as they were composed of stone, earthen, or vegetable materials, in the first part of the 
Catalogue of Antiquities in the Jluseuin of the Royal Irish Academy, by W. E. Wilde, Esq. Those 
peculiar objects called Celts — not from the name of the people, but from the Latin word celtis, a 
chisel— still puzzle the antiquaries to define their use. Professor Curry has communicated, from the 
Book of Ballymote and other ancient Irish manuscripts, an account (published at pp. 73, 74, of the 
Catalogue) of the manner in which the Lia Miledh or " warrior's stone" — whether that be the celt, 
or the round, flat, sharp-edged disk, of which there are some specimens in the Museum — was used 
ill battle. The following legendaiy account is one of the three or four examples given : — " In the 
record of the battle of the Ford of Coraar, near Fore, in the county of Westmeatb, and which is 
f-iippused to have occurred in the century before tbs Christian era, it is said that, ' there came not 
a man of Lohar's people without a broad, green sp ;ar, nor without a dazzling shield, nor without a 
JJagh-lamha-laich (a champion's hand stone), stowed away in the hollow cavity of his shield. . . . 
And Lobar carried his stone like each of his men ; and seeing the monarch, his father, standing in 
the ford with Ceat, son of Magach, at one side, and Connall Cearnach at the other, to guard him, 
iie grasped his battle-stone quickly and dexterouslj*, ar.J threw it with all his strength, and with 
ui;erring aim, at the king, his fathir; and the massive stone passed with a swift rotatory motion 
t.. wards the king, and despite the efforts of his two brave guardians, it str;;ck him on the breast, 
:. :d laid liim prostrate in the f«ird. The kin^, however, recovered from the shock,, and 
jilating his foot upon the formidable storic, ijrcssed it into the earth, where it remains to this day, 
with a third part of it over ground, and the print of the king's foot visible on it.' " 

1' Thus, when St. Finian of lona became bishop of Lindisfarne, he " built a church fit for his 
episcopal see, not of stone, but altogether of sawn wood, covered with reeds, after the Scotic fashiuii 
{More Scoitorum)" Bede, Hist. Eccl. iii., c. 25. The extensive use of timber for building can be no 
matter of surprise when we recollect that Ireland was, at the time, abundantly supplied with prim- 
eval forests; and aiuong the trees which .'5'jem to have been n)ost numerous, and of course indigenous, 
were the oak, pine, fir, liiich, and yew. It is not long since a large portii.n of some old 1- iiplish and 
tuutineiititl towns tuiisi-teJ of v>ooden houses; and it will be iujig ere the mctiit,j U cuusiiucu-^^ 

56 HOUSES, hatiis, and cahirs. 

regarded as a Roman custom, and too expensive to he undertaken by tlie 
first Christian monks in Ireland. 

These wooden or hurdle houses were surrounded by strong fences of 
earth or stone, of which great numbers are yet to be found in every 
part of the island; although all traces of the actual dwellings have 
disappeared, owing to the perishable natiu'e of the materials of which 
they consisted ; unless in some few places, where small stone houses, now 
called cloghauns, with beehive roofs, are still preserved. The enclosures 
were generally circular, but sometimes oval or polygonal ; and when 
they surrounded the habitations of chiefs or other important persons, 
flr were situated in places exposed to hostile incursions, they were double 
or triple, the concentric lines of defence being separated by dikes. An 
earthen enclosure of this kind is usually called a rath, or lios; and one 
of stone a cathair (pr. caher), or caishal; both being vulgarly called 
Danish forts, or simply forts. The stone forts are attributed by some 
antiquaries to the Firbolgs, at least in those parts of Ireland where that 
people were longest to be found as a distinct race, as m the western 
province ; and the earthen forts are supposed to have been the work of 
the Milesians. Most probably both races employed indifferently such 
materials as were most convenient to their hand. Of the earthen 
entrenchments, the walls have, in the lapse of centuries, been so washed 
into the dikes as partly to efface both ; while in innumerable cases the 
hand of the agriculturist has been more ruthless tlian that of time, in 
obliterating these vestiges of our ancestors.* 

Another kind of fortified retreat or dwelling used by the ancient 
Irish was that called a cranogue, or stockaded island, generally situated 
in some small lake, where a little islet or bank of gravel was taken 
advantage of, and by being surrounded with stakes or other defences, 
was made a safe retreat for either the lawless or the timid. In the 
vicinity of these cranogues are often found the remains of canoes, or 
shallow, fiat-bottomed boats, cut out of a single tree. The boats used 
by the Irish on the sea coast were chiefly those called curraghs or 

houses of wood be abandoned in America. Tliere is mention of a '" pillared house'' (tuireadoig) in a 
poem quoted by Tighoinach, under tlie j'ear 601, and attributed by him to Caillach Laiglmeach, 
who wrote in the tune of Hugh Allan, in the early part of the 8tli century. (See Four Masters, 
vol. i., p. 230) 

* Among the most remarkable of the caishels or stone forts, are Dun Aengus, Dun Conchurn, 
and other duns of tlie Isles of Aran, Staigue Fort in Kerry and the Grianan of Aileach, in 
Donegal; and of the earthen forts, some of tile most celebrated are the royal raths of Tara Hill, 
Euiaiiia, Cr(>gh;tn, and Tailiin, and the great rati) of MuUaghmast ; but iheie are few districts of 
Ireland in wliicli several remains of this cliaracter are not to be found. 


coracles, wliicli were composed of a frame of wickerwork, covered with 
skins. Boats of this type, save that pitched canvass has been substituted 
for the hides, are still used on the coast of Clare, in the islands of Aran, 
and in some few other places in Li'eland. 

From the dwellings of the ancient inhabitants we naturally turn to 
their sepulchral remains, of which there are different kinds. The 
most frequent are the mounds or tumuli, called barrows in England, 
which were common to all ancient nations who interred then* dead. 
They varied in size according to the imjiortance of the individual over 
whose remains they were raised, and in some instances they assumed the 
dimensions of considerable hills ; as those of New Grange and Dowth 
on the banks of the Bopie. Of these vast tiunuH, which there are good 
grounds for regarding as the tombs of tlie Tuatha de Danann kings, the 
most famous is that of New Grange, with iti; long gallery, and lofty, 
dome-shaped chamber; and it may be observed that in any of those 
mounds that have been examined, sepulclural chambers, or kists, have 
been invai'iably found, and frequently human remains. Monuments 
composed of stone-heaps are called leachts or earns, but many of these 
latter are modern, and are mere cenotaphs or memorials of an accidental 
or violent death. 

The monuments called cromlechs, which are met in Wales and 
Britanny as well as in Ireland, and which belong unquestionably to pagan 
times, have been popularly regarded as Druid's altars; but the correct 
opinion, founded on ancient Irish authorities, that they were intended 
for sepulchral purposes, is now generally received ; and it is probable 
that they may have been in some cases the chambers of sepulchral 
mounds, from which the covering of earth has been removed. The 
examination of a tumulus, opened in May, IboS, in the Phoenix Park, 
near Dublin, would seem to confirm this opinion; as the internal 
chamber, in which two human skeletons were found, was covered with 
a large, flat stone, in every respect like a cromlech.* 

Chess was a favorite game of the Irish from very early times, but it 
is uncertain whether the rules of the play were the same as those known 

' These monuments are invariably referred to in old Irish writings as sepiiklires; and in later 
ages they were called leabacha na/einne, or the beds, i.e. (graves^ of tbe Fenians — the term cromleclx 
being a recent importation into the Irish language, and still quite unknown to the Irish-speaking 
population. It is not unusual at present to combine the two hypotheses bj' calting tliese mysterious 
remains altar-graves. For a great deal of valuable research about the cemeteries and sepulchres of 
the pagan Irish, and in particular about the hill-monuments near the Iioyne; and also for impor- 
tant and authentic information touching the manners of the priniitivo races of Ireland, the luaddr 
is referreU to Dr. Petrie's learned Essay on Tara Hill. 


to moderns. In all ages the Irish were passionately fond of their own 
sweet, heart-touching, and expressive music, and possessed both stringed 
and wind instruments ; and a number of bards or musicians, who sometimes 
played in harmony, but generally accompanied their songs with instru- 
mental music singly, were always in attendance at the feasts of the 
chiefs and public entertainments.* The gold ornaments which are still 
preserved, the crowns of gold, worn, at least in some instances, 
by the Irish kings, and the accounts given by the bards of their " high 
drinking-cups of gold," and other objects of luxury, would show that a 
certain amount of splendour had been attained in the rude society of 
even the pagan ages of Ireland. 

The names of several persons who had distinguished themselves as 
poets or legislators in Ireland, in the time of paganism, are still pre- 
served, as well as some of the compositions attributed to them. Among 
those most remarkable in the latter class were Ollav Fola, by 
whom the Feis of Tara was instituted; Cimbaeth and other kings 
of his period ; Moran, the chief judge of Ferach, the Fair and Just, 
at the close of the first century; and, above all, Cormac, son of Art, 
who has left us a tract or book of " Royal Precepts," and avIio, about 
the middle of the third century, caused the Psaltar of Tara to be 

Of the pre-Christian bards or poets we have a tolerably large list, in 
which, selecting the most remarkable names, we find Amergin, brother 
of Heber and Heremon, to whom three poems still existing are attri- 
buted ; Congal, the son and poet of King Eochy Feilach, who flourished 
A.M. 5058; and just before the Christian era a whole group of pets, 
among whom were Adhna, chief poet of Ireland, Forchern, and Fer- 
cirtne, the author of the Uraicackt na n-Eigeas, or primer of the 
learned ; while towards the close of the third century flourished Oisin, and 

* Giraldus Cambreii^is {Tup. IJib. disl iii. c. 11.), describing the performance of the Irish liarpors, 
paj'S them the following tribute : — " In musicis instrumentis commendabilem invenio istiiis gentis 
diligentiam ; in quibus prae omni natione quam vidimus, incomparabiliter est iustructa." " The 
attention of tliis people to musical instruments I find worthy of commendation ; their skill in these 
matters being incomparably superior to tliat of any other nation I have seen." He then goes on 
to compare the Irish music with that of the Welsh, to which he was accustomed, describing the 
former as rapid and precipitate, yet sweet and pleasing, while the latter is slow and solemn. He 
was amazed at " the rapidity of execution," " the intricate arrangement of the notes," and "the 
melody so harmonious and perfect" which Irish music displayed ; and was struck with the per- 
formance of the Irish musicians, who knew how "to delight with so mucli delicacy, and sootlie so 
s<iftly, that the excellence of their art seemed to lie in concealing it." Such was the impression 
which the music of Ireland could produce on the soul even of an enemy seven hundred years ago. 
W'arton (History of English I'oetrv) says : — "Even so late as the eleventh century the practice 
^^^..^ continued among tlie Welsli bards of receiving instructions in the bardie profession Irom Ireland.' 


at the beginning of the fifth century Torna Eigeas, or Torna the Learned.* 
Men like these would not liave been produced in an entirely uncivil- 
ized state of society. The noble language of ancient Ireland had already 
in their time attained a high degree of perfection, being most copious in 
primitive roots and expressive compounds ; and the productions that are 
attributed to the writers enumerated above, are written in a dialect 
which would be almost wholly unintelligible to the best Irish scholars 
for centuries past, were it not for the very ancient glosses that accom- 
pany them, which glosses can themselves be understood by those few 
only who are profoundly skilled in the Irish manuscripts.t 

* Vide O'Reilly's Irish Writers. 

t Of the social and political system which prevailed among the ancient Irish, a distinguished 
authority on Irish historical matters, thus writes : — " Of our society, the type was not an array 
(as in the feudal system) but a famil\-. Such a system, doubtless, was subject to many incon- 
veniences. The breal^ing up of all general authority, and the multiplication of petty independent 
principalities, was an abuse incident to the feudal system ; it was inherent in the verj^ essence of 
the patriarchal or family system. That system began as the feudal system ended, with small in- 
dependent societies, each with its own separate centre of attraction ; each clustering round the 
lord or the chief; and each rather repelling than attracting all similar societies. Yet the patri- 
archal system was not without its advantages. If the feudal system gave more strength to attack 
a foreign enemy, the patriarchal system secured more happiness at home. The one system implied 
inequality among the few, and slavery among the many ; the other system gave a feeling of 
equality to all." — The Very liev. Dean Butler's lutroduclion to ClJjn's Annals, p. 17 


Irish Christians before St. Patrick. — Pelagius and Celestius. — The Mission of 
St. Palladius. — St. Patrick's birth-place — his parentage — his captivity — his 
escape — his vision — his studies — his consecration. — How Christianity was 
received in Ireland. — St. Patrick's arrival. — The first conversions. — Inter- 
views with King Laeghaire. — Visits Tailtin. — The Apostle's journeys in Meath, 
Connaught, Ulster, Leinster, and Munster. — Destruction of Crom Cruach — St. 
Secundiuus. — St. Piach. — Caroticus. — Poundation of Armagh. — Death of St. 


[Popes: St. Celestine and St. Sixtus III. — Theodosius the Great, Emperor of the East. — 
Valeiitinian III, Emperor of the West. — Attila, King of the Huns. — Genseric, King of the 
Vandals. — Clovis, son of Pharamond, King of the Franks. — Britain abandoned by the Romans. 

(a.d. 428), and the aid of the Saxons invited General Council of Ephesus (a.d. 431). St 

Augustin died (a.d. 431). 

(a.d. 400 to A.D. 500.) 

HAT Christianity had found its way into Ireland shortly 
before the preaching of St. Patrick appears to be beyond 
doubt, although the manner in which it was introduced, 
and the extent to wdiich it had spread are matters of mere 
conjecture. The neighbouring island of Britain had, 
long before this period, received the light of faith 
through its Roman masters ; and it is probable that there 
was sufficient intercourse between the tw^o countries to 
enable some few of the natives of Ireland to become 
acquainted w ith the Christian religion. It is, moreover, 
probable that these few isolated Christians were confined 
to the south of Ireland, and that there was no bishop in 
the country until St. Palladius was sent there by St. Celes- 
tine. Frequent mention is made in Irish records and lives 
of saints of four bishops having been in Ireland before St. Patrick's ar- 
rival, namely, St. Ailbe of Emly, St. Declan of Ardmore, St. Ibar of 
Begery, and St. Kieran of Saigir ; but it nevertheless appears extremely 


probable that these holy prelates were not the predecessors of St. Patrick 
in the Irish mission, although they may not have been his disciples, or 
have derived their authority from him.* 

It is not denied that some Irishmen eminent for holiness, and who 
flourished on the continent about this time, had received the hght of 
Clnristianity either at home or abroad, before St. Patrick's preaching. 
St. Mansuetus, the first bishop of Toul, in Lorraine, and St. Sedulius, or 
Shiel, the author of some beautiful church hymns still extant, were of 
this number. The fact that Celestius, the chief disciple of the heresiarch 
Pelagius, was a Scot or Irishman, shows that Christianity was known in 
this island previous to St. Patrick. Before falling into heresy Celestius 
resided in a monastery either in Britain or on the continent, and thence, 
as has been already stated, addressed to his friends in Ireland some re- 
ligious essays or epistles that were highly lauded at the time.f As to 
Pelagius, it is generally admitted that he was a Briton, and that the Latin 
form of his name was but the translation of his British name of Morgan. 
He was a lay monk, taught school at Rome, and imbibed from Rufinus, 
a Syrian priest, and disciple of Theodorus of Mopsuesta, the errors of 
that heresiarch on grace and original sin. 

While the great apostle of Ireland was j^ preparing himself for the 
mission to which tended all the aspirations of his heart, his friend St. 
Germain of Auxerre, under whose guidance and instruction he had placed 
himself for some years before his consecration, was sent, together with 
Lupus, another missionary, by Pope Celestine into Britain, to expel the 
Pelagian heresy from the church m that country, and it is conjectured 
that St. Patrick accompanied them on that mission. It is also supposed, 
that it was in consequence of information obtained dmnng that British 
mission on the destitute state of Ireland for want of Chi'istian preachers, 
that St. Palladius, archdeacon of Rome, was immediately after (a.d. 431,) 
sent by St. Celestine to Ireland as a bishop "to those believing in Christ:" 
xiamely, to the few scattered Christians we have alluded to ; and to propa- 
gate the faith in that country. This mission, however, was unsuccessful. 
Palladius was repulsed by the people of Leinster and their king Nathi, 
and after erecting three small wooden churches, he embarked to return 
to Rome, and was driven by a storm on the coast of Scotland, where he 
died after having made his way as far as Fordun. 

* Dr. Lanigan (Eccl. Hist, of Ireland, chap, i.) has controverted with his usual learning the re- 
ceived notion of the above-named four bishops having preceded St. Patrick's mission. 

t Gennadius de Script. Eccl. c. 44. The native country of Celestius is alluded to by St. Jcfouie 
in the Trolegomena to the first and the third books of his Commentaries on Jercmias. 

62 ST. Patrick's birth pi a ok 

In entering upon an account of St. Patrick's lifb and iiiis^ion w e 9re 
met at the threshold by a controversy about his birth-place. St. Fiech, 
a disciple of St. Patrick, and bishop of Sletty, wrote a metrical account of 
the apostle's life, known as Fiech's hymn, in which he states that the 
saint was born at Nemthur, which name a scholiast, who is believed to 
have been nearly cotemporary with Fiech himself, explains by the name 
Alcluith, a place well known to the ancient Irish, and which became the 
Dunbritton or Dunbarton of modern times. The old traditions of Ireland 
point to this locality, or to some spot in its vicinity, as the birth-place of 
St. Patrick, and such was the idea received by Ussher, Colgan, Ware, and 
other eminent antiquaries of their times. Alcluith, at the time of St. 
Patrick's birth, was within the territory of Britain, the Picts being then 
on the north side of the Clyde, and by all the old authorities we find the 
saint called a Briton. Some statements assio-nino; Wales or Cornwall as 
the birth-place of the Irish apostle, and others calling him a Scot, that is, 
an Irishman, are easily shown to have been erroneous ; but another old 
tradition, which makes him a native of Armorica, or Brittany, has been 
of late generally received, and Dr. Lanigan has employed a great deal of 
learning and ingenuity to establish its accuracy. In his " Confession," 
St. Patrick says he was born at " Bonaven of Tabernia," which names it 
is impossible to identify as connected with any places in Britain or Scot- 
land ; while Dr. Lanigan argues with great probability that Bonaven is 
the present town of Boulogne (Bononia,) in that part of ancient Belgic 
Gaul which had at one time the sub-denomination of Britain, and which 
was also a part of the territory called Armorica, a word signifying in 
Celtic " the Sea Coast." The name Tabernia he shows to have been 
changed into the modern one of Terouanne, a city whence the district in 
which Boulogne is situated took its name.* 

One thing quite certain is, that St. Patrick was in various ways inti- 
mately connected with Gaul. His mother, Conchessa, is distinctly stated 
to have been a native of Gaul, being, according to some traditions, a sister 
or niece of St. Martin of Tours ; and from Gaul Patrick, when a youth 
of sixteen years of age, was carried captive into Ireland, in a plundering 
expedition of Niall of the Nine Hostages. His father was Calphurnius, 
a deacon, the son of Potitus, a priest, and their rank was that of Decurio, 
or member of the municij)al council, under the Roman law. These men 

* There is another theorj'- not, worth mentioning, according to which St. Patrick was bom at Tours ; 
the word Nemthur being explained as " Heavenly Tours." See Mr. Patrick Lynch's Life of St. 
Patrick. Dr. Lanigan is the only writer who explams alt the names mentioned as applicable to hia 
theorv of Boulogne. 

ST. Patrick's bondage and escape. \ fi3 

had entered into holy orders after the death of their wives, as it was not 
unusual at that time to do ; or, as is stated to have occurred in the case 
of Calphurnius, the husband and wife separated voluntarily, and entered 
into religion. The apostle received in baptism the name of Succath, 
•which is said to signify " brave in battle," and the name of Patrick or 
Patricius was conferred on him by vSt. Celestine as indicative of his 

There are various opinions as to the year of St. Patrick's birth, the 

most probable being that he was born in 387, and that in 403 he 

was made captive and carried into Ireland. Those who hold that he was 

born at Alcluith, or Dunbarton, account for his being made captive in 

Armorica by supposing that his father and family had gone into Gaul 

to visit the friends of Conchessa. Be that as it may, the holy youth 

when carried into Ireland was sold as a slave in that part of Dalaradia 

comprised in the county of Antrim, to four men, one of whom, named 

Milcho, bought up their right from the other three, and employed the 

saint in attending his sheep, or, as some say, his swine. His sufferings 

were very great, as he was exposed to all the inclemency of the weather 

in the mountains ; but he himself tells us that it was in this suffering he 

began to know and love God. He performed all his duties to his harsh 

master with punctuality, yet he found a great deal of time for prayer, 

and was in the habit of praying to God a hundred times in the day, and 

as many times at night, and that in the midst of frost and snow. After 

six years spent in this bondage he was warned in a vision that the time 

had come for him to depart, and that a ship was ready in a certain port 

to take him to his own country. He rose up accordingly, and leaving 

Milcho, he travelled two hundred miles to a part of Ireland of which he 

had previously known nothing, and here he found the ship that had been 

indicated to him ready to sail. He was first rudely repulsed by the master 

of the vessel, but was at length taken on board, and after a voyage of 

three days reached shore, but only to find himself in a desert country, 

where the whole party were on the point of dying of hunger until, through 

the prayers of Patrick, food was obtained ; and ultimately, after a journey 

of twenty-eight days, he reached his native place. 

It is stated that St. Patrick suffered a second captivity, but of this 
little is known, except that it lasted for only sixty days ; and we are led 
to conclude that about this time he resolved to enter the ecclesiastical 
state, and for that purpose went to study in the famous college or 
monastery of St. Martin, near Tours, subsequently, when thirty years 
of age, placing himself under the direction of St. Germain of Auxerre. 


In or about this period the saint had a remarkable dream or vision, in 
wliich a man named Victoricius appeared to present him with a large 
parcel of letters, one of which was inscribed, " The voice of the Irish ;" 
and while reading it, St. Patrick thought he heard the cries of a multi- 
tude of people near the wood of Foclut, in the district now called 
Tirawley, in Mayo, saying : " We entreat thee to come, holy youth, and 
walk still amongst us." The saint's mind had been previously filled 
with a love of the Irish, and a desire for their conversion, and this 
vision fixed his attention more earnestly on that object. 

There is some obscui'ity in this part of the Lives of the apostle, as he 
is represented as spending a great many years in study and religious 
retreat in Italy, and in some islands of the Mediterranean, especially 
Lerins; while, according to other accounts, he was constantly with St. 
Germain ; but the probability is that he was all the time acting under 
the guidance of that illustrious master. At length, after much prepa- 
ration, about the year 431, and within some very brief space after the 
departure of St. Palladius on his mission to Ireland, St. Patrick visited 
Rome, accompanied by a priest named Segetius, who was sent with him 
by St. Germain to vouch for the sanctity of his character and for his 
litness for the Irish mission ; and having remained a short time, and re- 
ceived the approbation and benediction of the holy pontiff, St. Celestine, 
then within a few weeks of his death, our apostle returned to his friend 
and master, St. Germain, at Auxerre, and thence to the north of Gaul, 
where, news of the death of St. Palladius being received about the 
same time, Patrick immediately was consecrated bishop by a certain 
holy prelate named Amato, in a town called Ebovia ; Auxilius, Iserninus, 
and other disciples of St. Patrick receiving clerical orders on the same 
occasion. The apostle and his companions sailed forthwith for Britain, 
on their way to Ireland, where they arrived safely (a.d. 432), in the first 
year of the pontificate of St. Sixtus III., the successor of St. Celestine, 
and in the fourth year of the reign of Laeghaire,* son of Niall of the 
Nine Hostages, king of Ireland. 

Ireland, in its reception of the Cljristian religion, presents an example 
unique in the history of nations. "While in all other countries," observes 
an eloquent writer, " the introduction of Christianity has been the slow 
work of time, has been resisted by either government or people, and 
seldom effected without lavish effusion of blood, in Ireland, on the con- 
trary, by the influence of one zealous missionary, and with but Httle 

* This name; called in Latin Loegarius, is pronounced as if written Lerey. 


previous preparation of the soil by other hands, Christianity burst forth 
at the first ray of apostolic light, and, with the sudden ripeness of a 
northern summer at once covered the whole land. Kings and princes, 
when not themselves among the ranks of the converted, saw their sons 
and daughters joining in the train without a murmur. Chiefs, at 
variance in all else, agreed in meeting beneath the Christian banner;- 
and the proud druid and bard laid their superstitions meekly at the foot 
of the cross ; nor, by a singular blessing of providence — unexampled, 
indeed, in the whole history of the Chui'ch — was there a single drop of 
blood shed, on account of religion, through the entire course of this 
mild Christian revolution, by wliich, in the space of a few years, all 
Ireland was brought tranquilly under the dominion of the Gospel."* 

It is strange that even the glorious distinction thus referred to was 
made a charge against Ireland by a Christian writer ; Giraldus Cambren- 
sis asserting that " there was not one among them found ready to shed 
his blood for the church of Christ."! Whether the soil of Ireland was 
capable of producing martyrs after ages showed ; but it must be observed 
that Christianity was not established in Ireland altogether without resis- 
tance, some of the pagan Irish having shown an inveterate hostility to its 
progress, and several attempts having been made on the life of St. Patrick 
himself -t 

St. Patrick first landed at a place called Inver De, which is supposed 
to be the mouth of the Bray river, in Wicklow ; but having been repul- 
sed by the inhabitants, he returned to liis ship, and sailing towards the 
north, landed on the little island of Holm-Patrick, near Skerries, off the 
north coast of Dublin, where he made a short stay for the purpose of 
refreshing the crew and the companions of his voyage. He then resumed 
his voyage, and proceeded as far as the coast of the present county of 
Down, where, entering Strangford Lough, he landed in a district called 
Magh-inis, in the present barony of Lecale. On the appearance of the 
strangers an alarm was raised that pirates had arrived, and Dicho, the 
lord of that place, came at the head of his people ; but the moment he 
saw the apostle he perceived that he was no pirate, and he invited the 
saint and his companions to his house, where, on hearing the true religion 
announced, he and all his family believed and were baptized. This was 
the first fruit of St. Patrick's mission in Ireland. 

* Moore's History of Ireland, vol. l, p. 203. 

t Topographia Ilibeniiee, (list., ili., c. 28. Cambrensis holds the unenviable positioa of being at 
the head of the long list of the British calumniators of Ireland. 
J O'Donovan's Four Masters, an. 432 (note). 



The apostle celebrated the Divine Mysteries in a bam belonging to 
Dicho, which was henceforth used as a church, and was called Sabhall 
Padruic, or Patrick's Barn, a name that has been still preserved in that 
of Saul. A church and monastery were afterwards founded there, and 
the place always continued to be a favorite retreat of St. Patrick's. 

After a stay of a few days with Dicho, the apostle set out by land for 
the habitation of his old master, Milcho, who resided somewhere near 
Slieve Mis, in the present county of Antrim, then part of the territory 
called Dalaraida, in a portion of which dwelt a tribe of the Cruithnians, 
or Picts. Milcho's heart was hardened, and rather than allow St. Patrick 
to approach his house, he set fire to it in a fit of passion, and was himself 
consumed in its ruins, together with his family, except, as some say, a 
son and two daughters, who subsequently became converts and embraced 
a religious life. 

St. Patrick returned to Saul, and the next important event we meet is 
his journey by water, in the early part of the next year (a.d. 433), south- 
ward, to the mouth of the Boyne, where he landed at a small port called 
Colp, and thence set out, through the plain of Bregia, in the direction of 
the royal palace of Tara. On his way thither, he staid a night in the 
house of a respectable man named Seschnan, who was converted and bap- 
tized, with his whole family, one of his sons receiving from the apostle 
the name of Benfgnus, as indicating the gentleness of his manners. This 
holy youth attached himself from that moment to St. Patrick, and became 
famous in the history of the Irish Church as St. Benan, or Benignus, the 
successor of the apostle in the primatial see of Armagh. 

The next day was Holy Saturday, and St. Patrick, on reaching the place 
now called Slane, caused a tent to be erected, and lighted the paschal fire 
about night-fall, preparatory to the celebration of the Easter solemnity. 
It so happened that the princes and chieftains of Meath were at this time 
assembled at Tara, with King Laeghaire, for the purpose of holding a 
pagan festival, which some writers suppose to have been that of Beltinne, 
or the fire of Bal or Baal, as the kindling of a great fire formed a portion 
of the rites ;* and as it was contrary to the law to light any fire, on that 
occasion, in the surrounding country until the fire from the top of Tara hill 
was first visible, the king became indignant on seeing the flame which the 

* Dr. O'Conor (Eer. Hib. Scrip, vol. 1), labors to show that this festival was that of Beltinne or 
Bcaltahie, and Dr. Pctrie, in his Essay on Tara Hill, appears to adopt that view ; but Dr. O'Donovau, 
in his remarks on the division of the j-ear among the ancient Irish, in the introduction to ihe Book of 
Uights, proves that there is no authority for this opinion, and that in fact the fire of Beltinne was 
always lighted at the hill of Uisueach, in VVestmeath. The festivity which Laeghaire was celebrating 
was probably that of his own birtli-day, as is stated in the Life of St. Patrick in the Book of Lismore. 


saint had IdncUed, and which his druids, who had, no doubt, ascertained 
who it was that had come into their neighbourhood, told him would cause 
the destruction of his and their power if not immediately extinguished. 
Accordingly, Laeghaire, with his druids, chieftains, and attendants, went 
to ascertain the cause, and, on approaching the place, ordered the apostle 
to be brought before him, having first given directions that no one should 
rise, or show the stranger any mark of respect. Wlien St. Patrick with 
his attendant priests appeared, notwithstanding the king's mandate. Ere, 
the son of Dego, rose to salute him, and was converted ; and this Ere 
was subsequently bishop of Slane, where his hermitage is an object of 
interest to the present day. The result of the interview was an invi- 
tation to the saint to come next day to Tara, for the purpose of holding 
a discussion with the magi or druids ; the king secretly resohang to place 
men in ambush who would murder the Christain missionaries on the way. 
The scene which passed next morning — Easter Sunday — in the royal 
rath of Tara, was one on which it is impossible to reflect without a lively 
interest. The king, conscious of the treacherous preparations which he 
had ordered to be made along the road, could hardly have expected to 
see the strangers come, but was nevertheless seated in barbaric state in the 
midst of his satraps and nobles to receive them. St. Patrick, on his side, 
was not unaware of the pagan perfidy practised against him, but placing his 
confidence in the protecting power of God, and chanting a solemn Irish 
hymn of invocation,* which he composed for the occasion, he advanced 
at the head of his priests in processional order, along one of the five 
ancient roads that led to the top of the royal hill, where he arrived un- 
harmed. The old authorities describe the appearance of the saint as 
characterized by singular meekness and dignity. He was always clothed 
in white robes, and on this occasion he wore his mitre, and carried in his 
hand the crozier called the staff of Jesus.t Eight priests who attended 
him were also robed in white, and along with them came the youthful 
Benignus, the son of Sechnan. Thus, confronted with the monarch and his 

* This hymn is presL-rvt'd in the celebrated Liber Ilymnorum, a MS. in the Library of Trinity 
Collejfe, Dublin, and which Ussher pronounced to have been a thousand years old in his time. It 
is published with a translation and notes by Dr. Petrie, in his Essay on the History and 
Antiquities of Tara Hill, pp. 57, (fee, of the Academy's Edition, This hymn, which is written in 
tlie Bearla-Feine, or language of the Brehon Laws, is a singular relic of ecclesiastical antiquity, and 
Dr. Petrie describes it as "the oldest undoubted monument of the Irish language remaining." 

t This crozier is said to have been given to St. Patrick while secluded in an island of the 
Mediterranean, by some mysterious person who received it, for that purpose, from our Lord himself. 
The staff" of Jesus was burned, along with several other sacred relic-s of the greatest antiquity, 
among the rest, a statue of the Blessed Virgin, in High-street, Dublin, in the year 1538, by order 
of George Brown, tlie first Protestant Archbishop of Dublin. — See Ware's Annals; Dalton's Arch-. 
bishops, &c 


druids, and objects of wonder to the pagan assembly, stood the illustrious 
apostle and his train of missionaries, come from afar to plant Christ's re- 
ligion in Ireland. Here, as on the evening before, it had been arranged 
that no mark of honor should be shown to him ; but, as on the previous 
occasion, there was one found to disobey the tyrant's instructions, Dub- 
tach, the arch poet, or head of the bards of Erin, rising, and paying his 
respects to the venerable stranger. Dubtach was the first convert that 
day. St. Patrick became greatly attached to him, and his name is after^ 
wards mentioned with honor. 

Having soon sdenced the druids in argument, the saint expounded the 
doctrines of Chi'istianity to the monarch and his assembly, and made 
many converts ; but notwithstanding some statements to the contrary, it 
appears certain that Laeghaire himself was not among these, but remained 
an obstinate pagan to the last. It is stated with more probability that 
the queen was converted on this occasion ; and it also appears that St. 
Patrick made so favorable an impression even on Laeghaire, as to obtain 
from him permission to preach wherever he chose, on condition that he 
did not disturb the peace or deprive him of his kingdom. 

From Tara St. Patrick repaired next day to Tailtin, where the public 
games were commencing, and where he had an opportunity of preaching 
to a great assemblage of the people, including, most probably, those whom 
he had met the day before at Tara ; and he remained for a week, making 
many converts. On this occasion he was repulsed and his life threatened 
by Carbry, a brother of King Laeghaire ; but another of the royal brothers, 
named Conall Creevan, was shortly after converted, and at his desire the 
apostle founded the church of Donough Patrick in Meath.* 

Such was the commencement of St. Patrick's mission, in which he con- 
tinued to labor with unremitting zeal for more than tliirty years. We 
shall not attempt to follow him through the intricacies of liis many 
journeys into every part of Ireland, or to enumerate the number of 
churches which rose up everywhere in his track, and the multitude of 
holy pastors whom he prepared by his instructions and placed over them. 
The diversity of accounts given by his biographers and by other old 

* According to the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick every church in Ireland of which the name begins 
with Donmifjh was founded by that apostle, and they were so called because the saint marked out 
their foundations on a Sunday, in Irish Domhnach. Ti-ias Thaum.^ p. 146. The Conall mentioned 
above became a great friend of the apostle's ; but when he wished to enter the church as an ecclesi- 
astic St. Patrick told him that his vocation was to be a military man, adding that although he was 
not to be a churchman he would be a defender of the church ; and the holy prelate thereupon marked 
on Conall's shield the figure of a cross with his crozier, and the shield was ever after called Sciath- 

Bachlach or the shield of the crozier Trias Thaum., p. 142 ; also Jocelyn, c. 138. Dr. O'Donovan 

eays this is the earliest authentic notice he has found of armorial bearings in Ireland. 


authorities has mvolved the subject in much obscurity, which is increased 
by erroneous dates and doubtful topography ; and to enter minutely into 
it would be impossible in a work of this nature. 

The apostle preached for some time in the western part of the terri- 
tory of Meath, and on this occasion proceeded as far as Magh Sleaghta, 
in the present county of Cavan, where the idol, Crom Cruach, was 
worshipped, and by his prayers caused the destruction of that abomina- 
tion and of the smaller idols by which it was surrounded. He then 
set out for Connaught, and when near Rath Cruaghan, he met at a well, 
whither they had come in patriarchal fashion to perform their ablutions, 
the princesses Ethnea and Fethlimia, daughters of King Laeghaire, who 
were there under the tuition of certain druids or magi, and who acquired 
from the saint at that meeting a thorough knowledge of the truths of 
religion, and subsequently took the veil in a nunnery which he estab- 
lished.* He then traversed almost every part of Connaught, preaching, 
as he did on all occasions, with the sanction of miraculous power, con- 
verting the people, and founding churches. He fasted during a Lent 
on the mountain in Mayo then called Cruachan Aichle, or Mou.nt 
Eagle, and since known as Cruach Patrick. In the land of Tirawley,t 
he converted and baptized the seven sons of King Amalgaidh, together 
with twelve thousand people ; this occui*rence taking place not far from 
the wood of Foclut, whence the voices inviting him to Ireland appeared 
to come in the vision which he had in Gaul. After seven years thus 
spent in Connaught, he passed by a northern route into Ulster, and there 
made many converts, especially in the present county of Monaghan ; 
meeting, however, as was also the case in Connaught, several repulses 
accompanied sometimes with danger to his life. 

Returning into Meath, St. Patrick appears to have appointed, about 
this time, his nephew, St. Secundinus, or Sechnal, who was bishop of 
the place which has been called after him Domnach-Sechnail, or Dun- 
shaghlen, to preside, during his own absence in the southern half of 
Ireland, over the northern churches, the see of Armagh not having 
been yet founded.| The apostle then directed his steps southward, and 

* St. Patrick tells us in his " Confession" that a great number of women embraced a religious 
life in Ireland, notwithstanding the harsh opposition which they often encountered from their un- 
converted parents. 

■j- Tirawley (Tir-Amhalghaidh) was so called from the Amhalghaidh or Awley, son of Fiachra, 
son of Eochy-Muivone, and liing of northern Ccnnanght, whose sons were converted by St. Patrick 
on this occasion. 

X See the interesting account of St. Sechnal, and the hymn which he composed in honor of St. 
Patrick, in the first fasoiculus of the Liber Ihjrmorwn, edited by the Kev. Dr. Todd for the Archaso- 
logical and Celtic Society. 


visited several parts of Leinster, making numerous converts, and layiiu^ 
the foundations of churclies wherever he went. He placed his compa- 
nions, bishops Auxilius and Isserninus, the former at Killossy, near 
Naas, and the latter at Kilcullen, both in the present county of Kildare. 
In the territory of Hy-Kinsellagh, comprising parts of the counties of 
Wexford, Kilkenny, and Carlow, he visited his friend, the poet Dub- 
tach, who introduced to the saint his disciple, Fiech, who was already 
acquainted with Christianity, and was admitted into the ecclesiastical 
6tate by the ajDOstle. This Fiech was subsequently the holy bishop of 
Sletty, in the Queen's Comity, with jurisdiction over all Leinster, and 
to him the famous metrical life of St. Patrick, known as FiecJis Hymn, 
is attributed. He was the first Leinsterman who was raised to the 

A.D. 445. — After passing through Ossory, where he converted great 
numbers of people, and founded many churches, St. Patrick entered 
Munster, and bent his steps towards the royal city of Cashel, whence 
King Aengus, the son of Natfraich, who had already obtained a know- 
ledge of Christianity, came forth to meet him, receiving him with the 
utmost veneration. At this king's baptism an incident occurred which 
is often mentioned as an interesting example of fortitude. The pastoral 
staff wliich the saint carried terminated at the bottom in a spike, by 
which he could fasten it erect in the ground, and it appears that on this 
occasion he planted it inadvertently on the king's foot, which it pene- 
trated. Aengus bore the wound without the slightest movement, 
supposing that it was a part of the ceremony, and being, no doubt, ani- 
mated at the moment with an ardent feeling of devotion. This good 
king, in the course of a long reign, afforded material aid to the cause of 
religion in this part of Ii'eland.* 

The apostle spent seven years in Munster, visiting various parts of 
Ormond and the territories corresponding with the present counties of 
Limerick, Kerry, Cork, Waterford, and Tipperary, receiving every- 
ivhere vast multitudes into the fold of Christ. A great number of 
people from Corca Baiscin, the south-western part of Clare, crossed tlie 
Shannon in their curaghs, or hide-covered boats, when the saint was oji 
the southern side, in Hy-Figeinte, and were baptized by him in too 
waters of that mighty river; and at their entreaty the apostle then 

* L»r. Lanigan calculates with much probability that Aengus had not yet siiccctck-cl h'n Tuther at 
the time of his baptism, and that he was, therefore, only taniste, or heir apparent, of iMuuster; he 
was, at all events, still very young at the time of St. Patricks visit. 



ascended a lull Avlilcli commanded a view of their country, and gave his 
benediction to the wliole territory of the Dalcassians.* 

It was probably during St. Patrick's stay in Munster, that a British 
prince, Caroticus, who, although nominally a Christian, was a pirate and 
a very wicked man, made a descent on the south-eastern coast of Ireland, 
and carried off a number of Christian captives who had just received 
baptism, for the purpose of selling them as slaves to pagans in North 
Britain. This outrage elicited from the saint a pastoral, or circular 
epistle, still extant, in which he pronounced excommunication against 
Caroticus, and stigmatized him with the odium which he deserved. 
We may also presume that it was about the time of his return from 
INIunster, and while visiting a territory now comprised in the King's 
County, that a certain pagan chieftain named Failge formed a plan to 
murder the apostle, which, coming to the knowledge of Odran, the 
saint's chai'ioteer, this good man managed to change seats with St. 
Patrick, and thus received the fatal blow that was intended for his 
master. Odran was the only martyr who suffered death for the faith 
at the hands of an Irishman, during the conversion of this country from 

About the year 455, St. Patrick founded the see of Armagh, and the 
remaining years of his life he passed between that city and his favorite 
retreat of Saul, in the county of Down, at which latter place he died, 
according to the Annals of Ulster, the Four Masters, Ussher, Ware, and 
Colgan, on the 17th of March, a.d. 493, but according to the very ably 
argued inference of Dr. Lanigan, in a.d. 465. The duration of his 
mission in Ireland was, according to this latter opinion, thirty-three 
years, while, according to the former, it would have been about sixty 
years, and his age, which the old authorities represent as 120 years, is 
reduced to 78 years by Dr. Lanigan's process of reasoning. His obse- 
quies continued for twelve days, during which the light of innumerable 
tapers seemed to turn night into day, and the bishops and priests of all 
Ireland conCTefjated together on the occasion. A fierce contest ensued 
between the people of Down and Armagh for the possession of his sacred 
remains, but it was finally settled by his body being deposited in Down, 

* There can be no doubt tbat tlie bill from %vhich the apostle gave his blessing to the territf^ry of 
Thomond, or Clare, is that now called Cnoc Patrick, near Foynes Island. The local traditions are 
quite positive on the sut)ject; and it answers, besides, the coTiditions of situation and, and 
is the only hill in view of Clare with which the name of St. Patrick is associated. In tlw pro-.e 
life of St. Senanus, translated by Colgan from the Irish, its sjfe is parti uliirly deacrlU^l bin l>otb 
there and in the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, it ia called the Hill ,J Viviinii, aua^u* now 


while a portion of the holy reKcs were conveyed to his metropolitan 
church of Armagh.* 

Thus was the faith planted in Erin by St. Patrick, and from that dry 
to the present it has never failed. In this respect Ireland has been ex- 
empt from the changes which so many other countries have undergone ; 
and a large and interesting portion of our history will relate to the 
struggles which that steadfastness entailed upon her. 

* Each of the events in the life of our Apostle, briefly narrated in the text, has been made a 
subject of discussion among antiquaries and hagiologists; but we have given wliat we deemed the 
most reasonable results without the arguments. Nor have we entered into the controversy respect- 
ing the existence of other saints of the same name, as Sen-Patrick, or Patrick Senior, who was 
venerated on the 24th of August ; or the Abbot Patrick, who was buried and subsequently venerated 
at Glastonbury ; or St. Patrick of Auvergne. Whether some of the acts of one of these saints may- 
have been attributed to another of them would involve an inquiry unsuited to our pages. It is 
enough that the identity of our Apostle and of the leading events of his life have been established 
beyond the reach of all doubt. Those who would enter more deeply into the subject are referred to 
Colgan's 2'rias Thaumaturya-; Messinghani's /"/(.rtVe^itim; O'Sullivan's Z)ecas Pa^ncirtwa ; Harris's 
Ware's Irish Bishops; Lanigan's Ecclesiastical History of Ireland; Keating's History of Ireland; 
Mageoghegau's History of Irelaud; Lynch's Life of St. Patrick; Petrie's History of Tara Hill,&c.,&c. 


Civil History of Ireland during St. Patrick's Life. — The Seanchus Mor. — Kin^ 
Laeghaire's Oath and Death. — Reign of Oilioll Molt. — Branches and Greatness 
of the Hy-Niall Race. — Eeign of Lughaidh. — Foundation of the Scottisl 
Kingdom in North Britain. — Falsification of the Scottish Annals. — Progre?. 
of Christianity and absence of Persecution. — The First Order of Irisl 
Saints. — Great Ecclesiastical Schools. — Aran of the Saints. — St. Brigid.— 
Her great Labors. — Her Death. — Monastic tendency of the Primitive Church. 
— Muircheartach Mac Earca and Tuathal Maelgarbh. 

(a.d. 432 to A.D. 538). 

EW events are recorded in the civil history of this coun- 
try during the period of St- Patrick's mission ; the most 
remarkable being the revision of the laws of Ireland, and 
the compilation of the Seanchus Mor, or great book of 
laws, in the year 438. The annalists say that three kings, 
three Christian bishops, of whom St. Patrick was one, and 
three bards or antiquaries, conducted this revision ; but 
this account is obviously a poetic figment. It is probable 
that as soon as the Christian religion began to prevail ex- 
tensively in Ireland, a modification of the ancient pagan 
laws became necessary ; and also, that St. Patrick 
himself, assisted by a converted bard, may have laid the 
foundation of such revision, his name being subsequently 
employed to give it a sanction ; but it is plain that the apostle did 
not sit on a committee for the purpose with pagan kings, even if his 
authority had been so recognised at the time assigned for the event.* 
Fragments of the Seanchus Mor are still preserved in the manuscript 
library of Trinity College, and in the British Museum, and the entire 
work is known to have existed at least as late as the 12th or 13th century 

raiio'3 "Taia Iim,"p. 79 


It has been erroneously stated by some old writers that St. Patric 
purified the annals as well as the laws of Ireland ; and this probably le 
to the assertion that he destroyed a large number of the druidical books 
which had been delivered to him. OTlaherty gives this stetemenfon 
the authority of the eminent antiquary, Duald Mac Firbis, and mentions 
it to account for the ignorance in which we are left of the rehgion of 
the pao-an Irish ;* but nothing has been discovered m the writings of Mac 
Firbis to justify O'Flaherty s reference to his authority. 

Kino- Laeghaire waged war against the Leinster men to enforce pay- 
ment of the Borumean tribute, and in the year 453 he is said to have 
gained a battle over them ; but this success was followed, in a.d. 457, by 
a defeat at Ath-dara, on the river Barrow, where he was made prisoner, 
being afterwards liberated on swearing by "the sun and moon, water and 
air, nin-htaivl dav, sea and land," that during his life he would not again 
demand the tribute. This was the old pagan oath ; and from its use, as 
well as from other cu'cumstances, it is concluded that Laeghaire had not, 
up to that time, embraced Christianity. In the next year, regardless of 
his engagement, he made an incursion into Leinster, and carried off a 
prey of cattle for the tribute ; and as he was struck dead by lightning, 
or died in some sudden manner while returning home, the bards say that 
he was killed by the sun and the elements for breaking the oath which 
he had taken on them. 

A.D. 459. — OilioU Molt, son of Datlii, and who had been king of Con- 
naught,! succeeded as monarch, and, according to the Foiir Masters, 
celebrated the Feis, or great feast and convocation of Tara, in 463, and 
again in 465, which is probably a double entry of the same event, as these 
meetings were not held so frequently. Nothing certain is known of the 
religion of this prince, but it is presumed that he lived and died a pagan, 
as his successor certainly did. 

Two men, remarkable as the ancestors of some of the most celebrated 
clans mentioned in subsequent Irish history, died in this reign, namel}^ 
Conall Gulban, and Eoghan, sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages ; the for- 
mer of whom was the ancestor of the Kinel-Connell, or race of Conall, 
that is, of the O'Donnells and their correlative famiHes in Tirconnell ; 
whilst from the latter are descended the Kinel-Owen, or O'Neills, and 
some other families of Tyrone. All of the race of Niall come under the 
great tribe name of Hy-Niall ; but the illustrious families we have 
mentioned, that is, the O'Neills and O'Donnells, descendants of Eoghan 

• Ogj-gia, part iii., c 30, [> 219. t Ogygia, part iii., c. 93, p. 129. 


and Conall Gulban, are styled the northern Hy-Niall, to distinguish them 
from the southern Hy-Niall, who were descended from Conall Creevainn, 
another son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, as the O'Melaghlins, &c., 
who were located in Meath. Of Conall Gulban, who received his sur- 
name from Benbulben, formerly called Ben Gulban, in Sligo, where he 
was fostered, and whose exploits rank with those of the Ossianic heroes, 
the annalists tell us that he was slain by the " old tribes of Magh Slecht," 
that is, by descendants of the Firbolgs who occupied the district in the 
present county of Cavan where the idol Crom Cruach was worshipped, 
while he was returning from a predatory excursion with a great prey of 
horses ; and they say that Eoghan died of grief for his brother and was 
buried at Eskaheen in Innishowen. 

A.D. 478. — Oilioll Molt, after a reign of twenty years, was slain in the 
battle of Ocha, by Lughaidh or Lewy, the son of Laeghaire, who was 
too young at his father's demise to compete for the succession, and who 
now obtained the crown by the aid of a strong confederacy of provincial 
kings and toparchs. The battle of Ocha forms an epoch in this period 
of Irish history, and took place, according to the Annals of Ulster, a.d 
482 or 483. Lughaidh died an inveterate pagan, having, after a reign of 
twenty-five years, been killed by a thunderbolt while uttering some blas- 
phemy at the sight of a clnu'ch erected by St. Patrick, at a place called 
Achadhfarcha, or the field of lightning, near Slane. In his reign, Aen 
gus, the good kmg of IMunster, and his queen Eithne were killed in battle, 
at a place now called Kelliston, in the county of Carlow ;* and St. Ibar, 
of Beg-Erin, one of the four bishops who are said to have been in Ireland 
before St. Patrick, died, a.d. 500. 

A.D. 503. — The fomidation of the kingdom of Scotland by a colony 
from Ireland, is set down by most cln:onologists under this date.f It has 
been already mentioned in the reign of Conaire II., towards the close of 
the socond century of the Christain era, that a colony of Scots was led 
into Alba or Alliany by Carbry-Riada, from whom the Dalriads both of 
Antrim and Scotland took their name. Notwithstanding the opposition 
of the Picts, they still retained their footing in their new territory, 

* "This Aenghus, who was the first Cliristiau king of Mnnster, is the comninn ancestor of the 
fan>ilies of Mac Carthy, O'Keeffe, O'Callaghan, and O'Sullivau." — O'Donovan; Four Musters, 
anno, 489, {note). 

The Four Masters record tlio death of St. Patrick under the date of 493, addincj that he was then 
122 years old ; ihat he had erected 700 churches, consecrated 700 bishops, aud ordained 3,000 priestd. 
Dr. l^^nigan however shows very clearly tnat no reliance is to be placed on these dates and numbers. 

t The event is entered by the Four Masters at the year 498 ; but Dr. O'Donovan shows from the 
authority of Tighernach and of Flan of Monasterboice, that the true date of the Dalriadic iuvasiou 
was most probably a.d. o(jG. 


but did not receive mucli aid from Ireland until the period at which we 
have now arrived. At this time, however, after a defeat by the Picts, 
who drove them from the country, a strong force of the Irish Dalriads, 
under the leadership of Loarn, Aengus, and Fergus, the three sons of 
Ere, son of Eochadh Muinramhair, invaded Alba, and gradually sub- 
jugating the Picts, established the Scottish monarchy. Muircheartach 
or Murtough, who succeeded Lughaidh as king of Ireland, Avas a relative 
of the sons of Ere, his mother being Erca, the daughter of Loarn ; and 
he stimulated the adventurers in their enterprise ; as some say, sending 
the Lia Fail, or stone of destiny, to Scotland, in order that his kinsman, 
Feargus, might be crowned upon it with all the traditional solemnity.* 
It is remarkable that the present reigning family of England owes its 
right to the throne to its descent, tlirough the Stuart family, from these 
Irish Dalriads. From that people also North Britain derives its name of 
Scotia or Scotland ; a name which, from the first mention we find of it 
in the third century, was, for several hundred years, exclusively applied 
to Ireland ; while, on its being at length given to the country acquired 
by the Scots in Alba, Ireland was still for a long time called Scotia 
Magna, to distinguish it from the lesser Scotland, and its people termed 
Hibernian Scots, those of the latter country bemg called Albanian or 
British Scots.f The Scottish colony in Britain was at first confined to 
the Western Highlands, now called Argyle, and to the islands ; and it 
was only in the year 850 that the Picts were finally subdued by Keneth 
MacAlpin, who was the first king of all Scotland, and who removed the 
seat of power to Scone, in the southern part of that country. 

On the subject of this settlement of the Scottish race in North Britain, 
one of the most remarkable impostm'es ever attempted in the history of 
any country was successfully practised, and passed current for several 
centuries. The original records of Scotland were wholly destroyed by 
Edward I. of England, Avhen he overran that country in the year 1300, 
for the purpose, if possible, of obliterating by their destruction the nation- 
ality of the people ; but before the close of the same centiu'y a new 
account of the history of Scotland was given to the world ; a long series 
of Scottish kings, who nevsr had any existence, being coined to fill up 

* Ogj'gia, part i., p. 45. 

t Ireland was known by many names from very early ages. Thus, in the Celtic it was called 
Inis-Fail, the isle of destiny; Inis-Ealga, the noble island ; Fiodh-Inis, the woody island; and Eire, 
Fodlila, and Banba. By the Greeks it was called Icrne, probably from the vernacular name of Eire, 
by inflection Erin ; whence also, no doubt, its Latin name of Juvoriia ; Plutarch calls it Oj^'Vgia, or 
tiie ancient land; the early Roman writers generally called it Hibernia, probably from its Iberian 
inhabitants, and the later Romans and medixval writers, Scotia and sometimes Hibernia; and finally 
iis name of Jrelaud was formed by the An^lo-Normaus from its native name of Eire. 


an interval of some hundred years before tlie time of Fergus, the son of 
Ere, mentioned above. The first name on the spurious list was also Fer- 
gus, and the real person of that name was, therefore, called Fergus II. ; 
and in support of the fictitious catalogue a great many statements were 
invented, and were adopted by subsequent Scottish historians. Finally, 
Macpherson, the foi'ger of Ossian, carried the fraud so far, although it 
had been rejected by the Scottish antiquary, Father Innes, as to assert 
that North Britain was the original Scotland, and Ireland only the colony, 
with no title to the name of Scotia, and consequently that all the ancient 
saints and celebrated persons who are called Scots by foreign writers, were 
really natives of the modern Scotland. It may be easily imagined tliat 
such an assumption, put forward in the face of the most positive evidence, 
and repeated by scores of able writers, century after century, almost up 
to the last generation, was very provoking to Irish historians, and that an 
angry and protracted controversy was the result. All that has been 
written on the subject is now, however, so much waste paper, as the 
ancient fraud has been long since abandoned, and the true history of the 
relations between the two countries is received in Scotland as well as in 

From the meagre records of the civil history of the period, we turn 
with pleasure to the accounts of the great religious change which was 
then passing in Ireland, and which was entirely independent of the course 
of civil events. While pagan kings still ruled at Tara, surrounded by 
their druids, and still upheld at least the semblance of theu' ancient su- 
perstition, Christian bishops were preaching in every corner of the land ; 
Christian churches, although of humble dimensions, everywhere ap- 
peared ; monasteries and nunneries sprung up in many places ; Christian 
schools, which were destined in a little while to shed a lustre on all 
Europe, began to fill with students ; and above all, a host of saints, who 
became the wonder of after ages, diffused throughout Ireland an odour 
of holiness. To this age belonged the first and most perfect of the three 
orders of Irish saints, mentioned in the old catalogue published by Ussher 
and Father Fleming, and whose characteristics are described in the pro- 
phetic vision which St. Patrick is said by some of his biographers to have 
had, when Ireland first appeared to the apostle as if enveloped in a flame, 
then the mountains only seemed to be on fire, and finally there was only a 
glimmering, as it were, of lamps in the valleys. All the disciples and 
attendants of St. Patrick have obtained places in the calendar of the 
ancient Irish Church ; and it is probable that almost all those who re- 
ceived ordination at his hands, or who first ministered in the Church of 


Ireland, have merited the same honor ; so intense was the devotion with 
which the Irish people opened their whole hearts to the faith of Christ, 
and so abundant was the grace which flowed everywhere from the preach- 
ing of their great apostle. Nor should it be forgotten as a proof of the 
existence of a humanized state of society in Ireland, notwithstanding its 
feuds and wars, that this great movement was allowed to advance with- 
out any attempt on the part of the pagan princes to impede it by perse- 
cution. It is argued, indeed, that if there had been anything very gross 
or sensuous in the paganism of the Irish, as in that of other nations, the 
triumph of Christianity among them would not have been so easily 

Among the great ecclesiastical schools or monasteries founded in Ire- 
land about this time, were those of St. Ailbe of Emly, of St. Benignus 
of Armagh, of St. Fiech of Sletty, of St. Mel of Ardagh, of St. Mochay 
of Antrim, of St. Moctheus of Louth, of St. Ibar of Beg-Erin, of St. 
Asicus of Elphin, and of St. Olcan of Derkan. To this same fifth cen- 
tury, which Colgan calls the golden age of the Irish Church, belongs 
the foundation of the celebrated monastic institutions of Aran of the 
Saints, by St. Enda, or Endeus. This holy Archimandrite, who was of 
a noble family of Oriel, obtained the island of Aranmore, at the entrance 
to Galway Bay, from Aengus, the king of Munster, through the inter- 
position of St. Ailbe, and founded there those primitive conuuunities 
who lived in groups of monastic cells or cloghans, of which the traces 
are still to be seen in many parts of the island. Aran, the lona of Ire- 
land, became for the next couple of centuries the resort of several of 
the Irish saints, and of holy men from other countries, who repaired to 
it for the purpose of practising extreme penitential austerities ; and an 
ancient biographer of St. Kieran, founder of Clonmacnoise, described it 
as a place in which there lay the remains of •' innumerable saints, 
unknown to all save Almighty God alone.'' 

Of St. Ailbe, the great bishop of Emly, it is related that after many 
years of arduous labor in converting the people from paganism, and 
establishing the Church in his diocese, he was about to retire into soli- 
tude, and to fly for that purpose to Thule, or Iceland, when he was 
respectfully coerced by King Aengus to remain in Ireland, where he 
died in 0'2d. 

But of all the Irish saints of the first century of Christianity in this 
country, the highest position, next to that of St. Patrick himself, is 
unanimously yielded to St. Brigid. This extraordinary woman belonged 
to an illustrious race, being lineoUv descended from Eochad, a brother 


of Conn of the Hundred Battles, monarch of Ireland in the second cen- 
tury, and was born about the year 453, at Fochard, to the north of 
Dundalk, where her parents, although a Leinster family, and therefore 
belonging to Leath Mogha, or the southern part of Ireland, were then 
sojourning. As she was remarkable for sanctity from her childhood, it 
is possible that she had become known to St. Patrick, by whom her 
biographers say she was baptized. She received the veil from St. jVIac- 
caille, in one of the earliest convents for religious women founded in Ire- 
land, and her zeal for establishing nunneries was exercised throughout her 
life with wonderful results. She travelled into various parts of Ireland 
for this purpose, being invited by many bishops to found relio-ious 
houses in their dioceses ; and at length the people of Leinster became 
jealous of her attention to the other provinces, and sent a deputation to 
her in Connaught entreating her to return, and offering land for the 
purpose of founding a large nunnery. This was about the year of 480, 
or shortly after ; and it was then that she commenced her great house 
of Kildare, or the Chufch of the Oak, which soon became the most 
famous and extensive nunnery that has ever existed in Ireland. A 
bishop was appointed to perform the pontifical duties connected with it, 
an humble anchorite named Conlaeth being chosen for that office ; and 
the concourse of religious and pilgrims who flocked to it from all 
quarters soon created in the solitude a city which became the chief 
town of all Leinster. The vast numbers of young w^omen and pious 
widows who thronged round St. Brigid for admission into her convent 
present a singular feature in a country just emerging from paganism ; 
and the identity of that monastic and ascetic form which Christianity, 
in all the purity and fervour of its infancy, thus assumed in Ireland, as 
in all other countries, with the form which it has continued to retain, in 
ail ages, in the Catholic Church, must strike every student of history. St 
Brigid has been often called " The Mary of Ireland ;" a circumstance 
Avhich shows, not that the primitive Irish Christians confounded her 
mth the Mother of Our Lord — a silly mistake which some modern 
writers have thoughtlessly attributed to them — but that they felt that 
the "most exaggerated praise which they could bestow upon their own 
great saint was to compare ner with the Blessed Virgin.* One of the 
most distinguishing virtues of St. Brigid was her humility. It is 
related that she sometimes attended the cattle on her own fields ; and 
whatever may have been the extent of the land bestowed upon her, it is 

• See first part of the Liber Hymnorum, edited by Dr. Todd for the Archsological and Celtic Society. 


also certain that a principal source of subsistence for her nuns was the 
alms which she received. The habit of her order was white, and for 
centuries after her time her rule was followed in all the nunneries of 
Ireland. The Four Masters record the death of St. Brigid at the year 
525 ; and according to Cogitosus, one of her biographers, her remains 
were buried at the side of the altar, in the Cathedral Church ot Kildare, 
and not, as some late traditions have it, in the same tomb with the 
apostle of Ireland in Downpatrick. 

During the first years of the sixth century the galaxy of holy persons 
whose sanctity shed such effulgence on the dawn of Christianity in Ire- 
land was gradually disappearing, to be succeeded by the no less brilliant 
constellations of the second and third centuries of the Irish Church. 
Many of the venerable bishops who had received consecration from the 
hands of St. Patrick were still alive, and had the happiness to see the 
religion of Christ on the throne of Tara, and firmly established in all the 
provinces. Muircheartach Mac Earca, who succeeded Lughaidh, the son 
of Laeghaire, a.d. 504, was the first Christian itionarch of Ireland. He 
was, however, engaged in perpetual warfare, fought several bloody bat- 
tles with the Leinster men to enforce that most oppressive and unjust of 
imposts, the Borumean tribute, and ultimately was drowned in a butt 
of wine, into which he had thrown himself to escape from the flames of 
his house at Cletty, near the Boyne. Descended from Niall of the Nine 
Hostages, by his son Eoghan, he belonged to the race of Northern Hy- 
Niall, but on his death (a.d. 528), the crown reverted to the Southern Hy- 
Niall, in the person of Tuathal Maelgarbh, grandson of Cairbre, by 
whom St. Patrick had been persecuted. Tuathal reigned eleven years, 
and was killed treacherously by the tutor of his successor. 


First Visitation of the Buidhe Chonnaill — Eeign of Diarmairl, son of Kcrval. — 
Tara cursed and deserted. — Account of St. Columbkille. — Persecution of the 
Saint by Diarmaid. — Battle of Cuil Dremni. — Foundation of lona. — Eeign of 
Hugh, son of Ainmire. — Convention of Drumceat. — Battle of Dunbolg. — 
Deaths of Saints. — Feuds of the Northern and Southern Hy-jSTialls. — Battle of 
Magh Eath. — The second Buidhe Chonnaill. — Ecmission of the Borumean 


The Jxistinian Code Promulgated, a.v>. 529 — The Flight of Mahomet, a.d. (i22.— The Saxon 

Heptarchy established The Saxons Converted to Christianity. — Conquest of Gaul by the 

Franks. — Kingdom of the Vandals destroyed, a.d. 532. — The Visigoths in Spain — The 
Lombards in Italy. 

{The Sixth and Seventh Centuries). 

TERRIBLE and mysterious pestilence marks tlio year 
543 as an cpocli in our history, "an extraordinary 
.nSaBt^'«uij'7\ 'wi^iversal plague," astlieold annalists express it, "having 
Cx-^^:^^}fS* pi'evailed throughout the world, and swept away the 
noblest third part of the human race." This plague is 
called in the Irish annals Blefcd, or Crom Chonnaill, or 
Buidhe Chonnaill, names implying a sickness which pro- 
duced yellowness of the skin, resemhling in color stuLble 
or withered stalks of corn, which in Irish were called 
Connall* It -appears to have been general throughout 
Europe, originating in the East; and in Ireland, where it 
prevailed for about ten years, it was preceded by dearth, 
and followed by leprosy. Several saints and other 
eminent persons were swej)t off by this plague in Ireland ; 
St. Berchan of Glasnevin, also called Mobhi Crarineach, or Movi of the 
Flatface, and St. Finnen of Clonard, who, from the multitude of holy 

• See the accounts of this pestilence collected from ancient records by Dr. Wilde in his 'rreport on 
the Tables of Deaths in the Irish Census for 18.01, where he gives, on the authority of Mr. Eugene 
Curry, as above, the lirst explanation that has been all'orded of the name of the sickness. 


persons among lils disciples, was called the preceptor of the Saints of 
Ireland, being among its first victims. 

Diarmaid, son of Feargus Kerval, of the Southern Hy-Niall race, 
was Ardrigh of Ireland during this period, having succeeded Tuathal 
Maelgarhh, in 538, and reigned at least twenty years. He is highly 
praised by some Irish writers for his spirit of justice, but this quality 
was not unaccompanied by faults, and his reign is marked by several 
misfortunes. Notwithstanding the pestilence which was desolating the 
country, domestic wars and dissensions were not suspended. Diarmaid 
waged war against Guaire, king of Connaught, probably to enforce 
payment of a tribute ; although it is stated that the monarch's object was 
to chastise Guaire for an alleged act of injustice, Avhich is quite incon- 
sistent with the character for piety and fabulous generosity which this 
latter king bears in Irish history. Diainnaid was the last king who 
resided at Tara. He held the last feast or convention of the states 
there in the year 554 ; and shortly after that date, owing to a solemn 
malediction pronounced on the place by St. Rodanus of Lothra, in 
Tipperary, in punishment for the violation of the saint's sanctuary by 
the king, the royal hill was deserted. No subsequent king dared reside 
there, but each selected his abode according to the dynasty to which he 
belonged. Thus, the princes of the Northern Hy-Niall family resided 
in the ancient fortress of Aileach, near Derry; and the Southern 
Hy-Niall kings lived at one time at the Rath, near Castlepollard, now 
called Dun-Turgeis, from having become the residence of the Danish 
king Turgesius, and subsequently at Dun-na-Sciath, on the margin of 
Lough Ainninn, now Lough Ennell, near Mullingar. Thus, thirteen 
hundred years ago, the royal raths of Tara were condemned to desola- 
tion, although, even yet, their venerable traces have not been effaced 
from the grassy surface of the hill.* 

The crowning misfortune of Diarmaid's reign appears, however, to 

• Keneth O'llartigan, who died in 975, described the Hill of Tara as even then a desert, over- 
grown with grass and weeds. Among the ancient remains which have been identified by Dr. Petrie 
on the royal hill of Tara, by the aid of such venerable Irish authorities as the Dinnseanchus, the 
poems of Cuan O'Lochain and others are— the Eath na Riogh, or rath of the kings, which embraces 
within its great external circumvallation the ruins of the house of Cormac, the rath called Foradh, 
and the Mound of the Hostages ; tlie Rath of the Synods, near which were the Cross of Adamnan, 
and the Mound of Adamnan, the latter being now cfTaced; the Teach Michuarta, or great banquet- 
ing hall; the Mounds of the Heroines, or women-soldiers; the Rath of Graine, the faithless wife of 
Finn Mac Coul ; the Triple Mound of Nesi, the mother of Conor Mac Nesa : the Rath of King 
Laeghairo, in which St. Patrick preached ; and the Well of Neavnach, the stream of which turned 
the first water-mill, erected by Cormac Mac Art, in the third ceutury. — See Pelrla's Essay on the 
Hislory and Antiquities oj Tara Uill. 


have been his hostility to St. ColumLkille, and the unhappy consequences 
resulting from it ; and this subject leads us to an account of one of the 
most illustrious persons of whom we read in the history of Ireland. 

St. Columba, or, as he is generally called, Columbkille, that is Columba- 
of-the-church, was born in Gartan, a wild district of the county of 
Donegal, about the year 518 or 521, and was connected with the royal 
families of Ireland and British Dalriada.* On leaving his fosterage. 
Columba commenced his studies at Moville, at the head of Strangford 
Lough, where he became a pupil of the famous bishop St. Finnian ; and 
from this seminary, Avhen in deacon's orders, he proceeded to Leinster, 
where, after remaining some short time with an old bard named Gemman, 
he entered the monastery or college founded by another St. Finnian at 
Clonard. Thence he proceeded to the monastery of Moblii Clarainach at 
Glas Naoidhen, the present Glasnevin, near Dublin ; but this community 
being broken up by the pestilence, which carried off its principal, in 544, 
he returned to the North, having previously been ordained priest by the 
bishop of Clonfad. Already Columba was distinguished, not only for 
talent and learning, but for extraordinary sanctity ; and some miracles 
are said to have been performed by him before this time. In 545 or 546 
he founded the monastery of Doire-Chalgaigh, the Derryof modern times, 
and about the year 553 laid the foundation of his great monastery of 
Darmhagh, now Durrow, in the King's County, the chief house of his 
order in Ireland.! The battle of Cooldrevny, which is popularly said to 
have taken place on his account, as we shall presently see, was fought, 
according to the Annals of Ulster, in 561, and two years after, being then 
forty-two yeai-s of age, he left Ireland, accompanied by twelve chosen 
disciples, for the island of Hy, or lona, which was given to him by his 
relative, Conall, the king of the Albanian Scots,^ aud which became 
the seat of one of the most celebrated monastic institutions of Northern 
Europe, and the head of his order. From this St. Columba proceeded on 
missionary joui'neys with his monks into the country of the Ficts, whom 
he converted to Christianity.§ Innumerable miracles are related of him, 

* St. Columba's father, Fedlime, was the grandson of Conall Gulban, son of Niall of the Nine 
Hostages, and (by his mother Erca) grandson of Loam, one of the sons of Ere, who planted the 
Dalriadic colony in Scotland ; and the saint's mother, Ethnea, was descended from Catliair Mor, 
king of Ireland, a.d. 120, and was thus of the royal race of Leinster. Such being the saint's parent- 
age and connections, it is no wonder that his name should be mixed up in the state affairs of his time. 

t The name Loire signifies an " Oak-wood" (Roboreium) and that of Darmhayh signifies the 
" Plain of tlie Oak," Cavipus Rohorum, as Bede (Hist. Eccl. Lib. iii. c. 4.) translates it. 

X Bede and the Saxon chronicle say that lona belonged to the Picts wheii St. Columba came there. 

§ When he first went to announce the faith to thePictish king, Brude, he was refused admission 
to the interior of the royal fort ; but at the saint's command the gates miraculously llew open, and 


and even without these marks of divme favor, the account which is left 
to us by his biographer, St. Adamnan, of his singular holiness and many 
exalted qualities, is sufficient to enrol his name on the calendar as that of 
a great saint. St. Columba is regarded as the apostle of both the Picts 
and Scots of North Britain, although the latter had brought with them 
some knowledge of Christianity from Ireland, and he has shared with St. 
Patrick and St. Brigid the honor of being the joint patron of his native 
country. lona for a long time furnished missionaries and bishops for 
many parts of Britain, and its monks took a leading part in the conver- 
sion of the Saxons, supplying the Saxon church with many prelates and 
priests for at least a couple of centuries. This relation between pastors 
and their spiritual children produced the friendly feeling of the Irish 
towards the Saxons of which Venerable Bede makes mention ; and when 
the Christian Britons, in their hatred of their Saxon conquerors, refused 
to preach Christianity to them, or hold any communion with them after 
their conversion, their Scottish or Irish neighbours willingly performed 
that Christian duty for them. Aidan, king of the Scots of Britain, came 
to St. Columba in lona to be inaugurated ; and the saint having received 
instructions from heaven in a vision to perform the ceremony, anointed 
and blessed him ; this being the first recorded instance, not only in these 
countries, but in Europe, of the Christian ceremony of anointing kings 
at their inaugui'ation. In Ireland forms handed down from pagan times 
remained still in use, while the kingdom of the Scots in Albion, commenc- 
ing under Christian auspices, was more suited for a new order of things.* 

As to the quarrel with the king of Ireland and the battle of Cooldrevny, 
various circumstances are related by the old annalists, which show a 
degree of animosity against the saint on the part of the king. It is stated 
that StS Columbkille copied a portion of the sacred Scripture from a book 
which had been lent to him by St. Finnen, without having the permission 
of the latter to do so. At that time a book was a most important object, 
and a discussion arising on the subject, King Diarmaid was chosen arbi- 
trator, and decided against St. Columbkille, giving the copy as well as 
the book to St. Finnen, and assigning, as a ground for his unjust judg- 
ment, the maxim that " the calf should follow the cow." Another oppor- 

the king, filled with wonder at the event, came forth to receive him and was converted by his preach- 
ing. It is a remarkable circumstance, noticed more than once in the lives of the saint, that when 
he preached to the i'icts he employed an interpreter to explain his words, thus showing that the Picts 
and Scots were not identical in race and did not speak the same language. 

* See Adamnan's Life of St. Columba edited for the Archaeological and Celtic Society, by Dr. 
Reeves of liallymena. Also Colgan's Tria§ TLaumaturga. 


tunitj of slio^'ing Diarmaid's ill-feeling towards Columba presented itself 
about the same time. At the last assembly of Tara, ak'eady mentioned, 
a dispute took place between Curnan, a son of the king of Connaught, 
and another person, in which the latter was killed. Curnan fled for re- 
fuge to Columbkille, but Diarmaid dragged him from his sanctuary, and, 
notwithstanding the intercession of the saint, got him instantly put to 
death. It is said that St. Columba upon this threatened the king with 
the vengeance of his relatives, the Hy-Nialls of the North ; but this is 
scarcely probable, as the saint endeavoured to effect his escape, which 
Diarmaid tried to prevent, ordering the frontiers of Meath to be watched, 
oolumba fii'st retired to IVIonasterboice, and then made his way across the 
hills into Oriel ; and with the provocation which had been offered it must 
have been easy to stir up the hot blood of the warlike clans of Tirconnell, 
Tyrone, and Connaught. St. Columba may only have related what oc- 
curred and then prayed for the success of his friends when they went to 
battle. IMoreover, as Cooldrevny, or Cuil-Dremni, the site of the battle, 
was in Carbury, to the north of Sligo, the very position of the armies 
would show that Diarmaid was all through the aggressor. This king's 
ideas of religion may be conjectured from the fact that he had druids in 
his camp, and trusted to their magic for success ; but he was vanquished, 
with a slaughter of 3,000 of his men, while the army which was protected 
by the prayers of St. Columba came off with scarcely any loss.* A large 
number of the clergy of I\Ieatli were induced by the representations of 
Diarmaid to hold a synod at Teltown for the purpose of excommunicating 
St. Columba ; but St. Brendan of Birr, St. Finnian of Moville, and other 
eminent ecclesiastics who were present protested against their proceed- 
ings, and the object of the synod was not carried out. It is said that 
battles were fought about the year 580 or 587, in which St. Columba 
also felt an interest ; but the allusions to them are very obscure. His 
departure from Ireland was voluntary, and he returned there some years 
after to attend the convention of Drumceat, and to visit his house of 
Durrow, and St. Kiaran's famous monastery of Clonmacnoise. He died 
in lona, about the year 597 (the Four Masters erroneously have it 592), 
in the 77th year of his age and the 35th year of his pilgrhnage to that 

On the death of Diarmaid, who was killed (a.d. 565) by Black Hugh, 

• After this battle the copy of St. Finnen'a book was restored to St. Columba. " This maunscript," 
says Dr. O' Donovan, " which is a copy of the Psalter, was ever after known by the name of Caihach 
(PriBliator). It was preserved for ages in the family of O'Donnell, and has been deposited in the 
INIuseum of the Royal Irish Academy, by Sir Itichaid O'Donnell, its present owner." Four Ma -tera, 
%n. obb, note, and an. 1497., note. 


a prince of the Pictish race of Dalaradia, against whom both the north- 
ern and southern Hy-Niall waged war, Ii-cland was ruled by two 
kings, reigning jointly, as frequently happened in subsequent times. 

After some short and unimportant reigns. Aedh, or Hugh, son of Ain- 
mire, came to the throne, and reigned twenty-seven years. By him was 
summoned, in 573, the great convention of Drumceat, the fost meeting 
of the States of Ireland held after the abandonment of Tara.* The lead- 
in<T members of the clergy attended, and among them was St. Columbkille, ' 
who came from lona for the pm-pose, accompanied by a great number 
of bishops and monks ; the saint, although a simple priest, taking prece- 
dence of all the prelates of North Britain, in his capacity of Apostle or 
founder of the church in that country. The king was friendly to St. 
Columba, being of the same family, but some of his court had little wel- 
come for the saint, and a mob was employed to insult his clergy. Partly, 
however, through the veneration in which he was held, and partly by the 
terror of the wonders which it pleased God to work by his hands among 
the rude people whom he taught, the saint induced King Hugh and his 
convention to decide as he recommended. One of the points to be set- 
tled concerned the relations between the Scottish colony of Alba (of which 
the king, Aidan, St. Columba's friend, was present,) and the mother 
country; and the saint, foreseeing the wars to which this matter would 
give rise, prevailed on the king of Ireland to abandon his claims against 
Alba, thus establishing the independence of the Scottish colony, and 
severing it for ever from the mother country. Another question related 
to the immense number of bards, or, according to others, of idle, worth- 
less persons under the name of students, with which the country was 
encumbered. The king wished to get rid of them altogether by a sweep- 
ing measure ; but St. Columba induced him to adopt the wiser and more 
moderate course of merely diminishing their number, and limiting it for 
the future by certain rules. 

A.D. 594. — Hugh Ainmire, while endeavouring to enforce that perpe- 
tual plague of ancient Ireland, the Leinster tribute, was killed in battle 
at Dunbolg,t or the fort of the bags, a place so called from a memorable 
circumstance connected with it. Bran Dubh, then king of Leinster, 
finding his army on this occasion unequal to that of the monarch in 
point of numbers, had recourse to stratagem, and entering Hugh's camp 

* The name of Drumceat is translated dorsum cete — " The Whale's Back." The place where the 
synod, or convention, was held was a long mound in Roe Park, near Newtown Liniavaddy, now 
callr.'d the MuUagh, and sometimes Daisy-hill. (Ordnance Sur\'ey of Londonderry.) 

\ Now Duaboyke, near Hollywood, in tbu tgunty of Wicklow.-— O'Donovau. 


disguised as a leper, lie sj^cad a report that the Leinstermcn were 
prepared to submit, and were in fact coming with provisions and 
presents for the king's army. In the dusk of the evening a vast number 
of bullocks laden with leathern bags were seen approaching, and the 
drivers being challenged by the sentinels, announced that they were 
coming with provisions for the army of the king of Ireland ; and this 
statement bearing out the story of the pretended leper, they were 
allow^ed to enter the camp, and to deposit their burthens without 
further inquiry until morning. Each bag, however, contained an 
armed man, and in the course of the night the chosen band thus intro- 
duced into the camp fell upon their enemies, and the slaughter lasted 
until morning, when the monarch was killed by Bran Dubh himself, 
and the remnant of his army put to flight. Thus was the Borumean 
tribute forfeited for that occasion. In the year 597 the annalists 
mention " the sword-blows of Bran Dubh in Bregia," showing that he 
had carried hostilities into the territory of Meath ; but in four years 
after we find him crushed by the combined power of the Hy-Niall races 
at the battle of Slaibhre, where he was defeated; and after the battle he 
was treacherously killed by one of his own tribe, the herenach, or 
hereditary warden of Senboth-Sine.* 

The Irish annals, about this time, record the deaths of several holy 
persons. Thus, St. Brendan of Birr died in 571 ; St. Brendan of Clon- 
fert, vdio in his seven years' voyage in the Western Ocean is believed 
to have been the first European discoverer of America, died at Enach 
Duin, or Annadown, near Lough Corrib, in the county of Gal way, in 
577 ; St. Canice, or Cainnech, to whom Kilkenny owes its origin and 
its name, died in 598 ; and St. Kevin of Glendalough, Avho is said to have 
reached the age of 120 years, died in 617. 

The Hy-Niall dynasty had now for a long time enjoyed the sovereignty 
of Ireland, but as the northern and southern branches of the race were 
almost constantly engaged in wars against each other, their broils 
lowered the position and weakened the power of the monai'ch. In pro- 
cess of time the southern Hy-Nialls, or Meath family, fell greatly in the 
estimation of the country, while of the northern Hy-Nialls it must be 
said, that whatever were the faults of some of their princes, they always 
maintained a character for the most chivalrous bravery. About this 
time, two kings who ruled the island jointly were murdered by Conall 
Guthvin, a prkice of the southern Hy-Niall ; and the indignation of the 

t Now Templeshaulo, at the foot of Mount Leinster, iu Wexford. 


counrry was so excited by the crime that his family was excluded from 
the throne of monarch for several generations. Congal Caech, king of 
Ulldia, of the Rudrician line, also drew upon himself pubhc abhorrence 
by the crime of murder. He killed the reigning sovereign, Suivne 
Meann (a.d. 623), and was vanquished in the battle of Dunkehern, the 
following year, by Suivne's successor, son of Hugh Ainmu-e, and obliged 
to fly into Britain, where he remained nine years, and where he ingra- 
tiated himself so well with Saxons, Britons, Picts, and Albanian Scots, 
as to secure their aid against his countrymen. 

Congal began (a.d. 634) the fatal game of introducing foreign aux- 
iliaries into Ireland, and of showing them the weakness to which factions 
were capable of reducing his native country. It so happened, however, 
that in this instance there was no weakness displayed. Donnell, the 
reigning monarch of the northern Hy-Niall race, was able to muster an 
army capable of meeting the invading force together with Congal's own 
Ulidians, and in the battle which ensued, and which was renewed for 
six successive days, Congal's combined forces were almost annihilated 
and he himself slain, so that the remnant of his foreign auxiliaries found 
it difficult to escape back to their respective countries. This was the 
great battle of Magh Rath, or Moyra, in the county of Do-s\ni, one of 
the most famous and important conflicts mentioned in the ancieni annals 
of Ireland.* St. Adamnan laments the part which Donnell Breac, then 
the king of the Albanian Scots, took in that Avar, combining as he did 
with foreigners to invade the country of his ancestors, and, by breaking 
the bond between them, paving the way to futm'e calamities for both 

A.D. 656. — This year commenced the second visitation of the Buidhe 
Chonnaill, which had ravaged the country a little more than a hundred 
years before, and which on the present occasion is said to have swept 
away two-thirds of the whole population. It w^as ushered in by a total 
eclipse of the sun the preceding year ; and as at its former visit, it conti- 
nued for about ten years, making its appearance about the Jjeginning of 
August each year. After the year 667, this sickness is not again men- 
tioned in the Irish annals. An improbable fable is related by some 
annalists to account for this visitation. It is said that the population 
had become so dense that food enough could not be produced by the 
entire soil of the country ; and that, apprehending a famine, the rulers 
invited the clergy to meet together and pray that the lower class, or 

* See the ancient hUtoric tale of the Battle of Magh Kath t-unslated aud edited by Dr. 
O'DonovuD, for the Irish Aichao^oyical Society, 1812. 


" inferior multitude" might be thinned, lest all of them should starve. 
The displeasure of heaven was intimated through an angel, and the 
pestilence was sent to sweep away the higher as well as the lower classes. 
The two joint monarchs of Ireland, the kings of Ulster and Mun- 
ster, and many other persons of rank were among its victims ; and we read 
also that it carried off several abbots and holy personages, as St. Fechin 
of Fobhar, St. Ronan, St Aileran the Wise, St. Cronan, St. Manclmn, 
St. Ultan of Clonard, and others. Another St. Ultan, bishop of Ardbrac- 
can, collected the infants who had been deprived of their mothers by tho 
plague, and caused them to be fed with milk through the teats of cows, 
cut off for the purpose. This is the first instance we have of an hospital 
for orphan children foimded'in Ireland. Venerable Bede describes the 
ravages of the pestilence at the same time in Britain, and in doing so bears 
most interesting testimony to the learning, enlightened generosity, and 
hospitality, of Ireland. He says: — "This pestilence did no less harm in 
the island of Ireland. Many of the nobility and of the lower ranks of 
the English nation were there at that time, who, in the days of bishops 
Finan and Colman, forsaking their native land, retired thither, either for 
the sake of divine studies, or of a more continent life. The Scots (that 
is the Scoti of Ireland) willingly received them all, and took care to 
supply them with food, as also to fiu'nish them with books to read, and 
their teaching, gratis."* 

Finnachta Fleadhach, or the Hospitable, who began his reign in the 
year 673, rendered his name memorable by yielding to the prayers 
and representations of St. Moling, and remitting the Uorumean tribute, 
which he had just succeeded in forcing from the Leinstermen in a 
bloody battle. After this act of piety and generosity we are not sur- 
prised to find, by the Annals of Ulster, that Finnachta in the same year 
(687) abdicated, and embraced a religious life. In the year 684 an 
army sent by Egfrid, the Saxon king of Northumbria, made an unex- 
pected and unprovoked descent on the Irish coast, and laid waste the 
rich lands of Bregia, that is, the teri^jitory extending between the Liffey 
and the Boyne, sparing neither churches nor monasteries in their sacri- 
legious plunder, and carrying off a great number of the inhabitants as 
slaves to Britain. Venerable Bede denounces and laments this act of 
rapine, and attributes the defeat and death of King Egfrid, the following 
year, in an expedition against the Picts, to the just vengeance of heaven 

* All the authorities on this pestilence are collected by Dr. Wilclc, in his Report on the Tables of 
Deaths, pp. 49, &c., Census of ISol. 


for this aggression.* St. Adamnan, the celebrated abbot of lona, went 
on a mission into Northumbria, on the death of Egfrid, to rechiim the 
captives Avho had been taken from Ireland the preceding year. He was 
received with great honor, performed many miracles, and his application 
was granted without difficulty .f 

* Bede thus describes the event: — "In the year of our Lord's Incarnation 684, Egfrid, king of 
the Northumbrians, sending Berctus, his general, with an army into Ireland (Hibemiam) miser 
ablj' wasted that inoffensive nation, which had always been most friendly to the English (nation! 
anglnrum semper amicissimam) ; insomuch that in their hostile rage they spared not even the 
churches or monasteries. The islanders, to the utmost of their power, repelled force with force, and 
imploring the assistance of the Divine mercy, prayed long and fervently for vengeance ; and 
though such as curse cannot possess the kingdom of God, it is believed that those who were 
justly cursed on account of their impiety did soon after suffer the penalty of their guilt from the 
avenging hand of God ; for the very next year that same king, rashly leading his army against 
the Picts, .... was drawn into the straits of inaccessible mountains, and slain with the greater 
part of his forces, in the fortieth year of his age, and the fifteenth of his reign." — Eccl. Hist. lib. 
Iv. c. ^G. 

t The dates of several of the events mentioned in this chapter are thus fixed in the Leabhar 
Breac, or Speckled Book, an Irish MS. preserved in the Royal Irish Academy: — " 33 years from 
the death of Patrick (493) to the death of Bridget, in her 70th year (523); 36 j-ears from the 
death of Bridget to the battle of Cuil Dremni (569) ; 35 years from the battle of Cuil Dremni to 
the death of Columbkille, in the 7Gth year of his age (594) ; 40 years from the death of Columb- 
kille to the battle of Moira (637); 25 years from the battle of Moira to the (second) Buidhe 
Chonaill (062, i-ecte 663) ; 25 years from the Buidhe Chonaill till Fiuachta, sou of Maelduin, son 
of Aedh Siaiue, remitted the Boru to Moling (687)." 



The Primitive Church in Ireland. — Its Monasticism. — Its Missionary Character. 
— St. Cohimbanus, his Life and Labors. — Foundation of Bobbio. — His Letter 
to the Pope. — Unity with Rome.— St. Gallus. — St. Aidan and the Church of 
Lindisfarne. — St. Colman. — The Paschal Controversy. — ISTational Prejudices 
of the Irish. — Sectarian Misrepresentation. — Synod of Old Leighlin. — Saint 
Cummian. — Conference of Whitby. — Innisbofin. — Saint Adamuan. — " The 
Law of the Innocents." — Saint Frigidian. — Saint Degan. — Saint Livinus. — 
Saint Fiacre. — Saint Fursey. — Saint Dicuil. — Saint Killian. — Saint Sedulius 
the Younger.— Saint Virgilius. — SS. Foilan and Ultan. — Saint Fridolin "the 
Traveller." — Clemens and Albinus. — Dungal. — Donatus. — Irish Missions to 

CARCELY was Ireland thorouglily converted to Christi- 
anity when, as already observed, great monastic schools 
began to spring up in various parts of the country. The 
most celebrated of them, after that of Armagh, were 
Clonard, in Meath, founded early in the sixth century by 
St. Finan, or Finian ; Clonmacnoise, on the banks of the 
Shannon, in the King's County, founded in the same cen- 
tury by St. Kiaran, called- the Carpenter's Son ; Bennchor, 
or Bangor,* in the Ards of Ulster, founded by St. Comgall 
in the year 558, and Lismore, in Waterford, founded by 
St. Carthach, or Mochuda, about the year 633. These, 
and many other Irish schools, attracted a vast concourse 
of students, the pupils of a single school often number- 
ing from one to three thousand, several of whom came from Bri- 
tain, Gaul, and other countries, drawn hither by the reputation for 
sanctity and learning which Ireland enjoyed throughout Europe. The 
course of instruction embraced all branches of knowledge as it then 
existed, and more especially the study of the Holy Scriptures; and as the 

* This celebrated monastery and school, of which all that now remains is the churchyard, was 
situated on the south side of Lough Laigh (Stagnum Vituli) now Belfast Lough, in the county of 
Down, and must not be confounded with the place of the same name in \\'alc8. 


students were not only taught, but supported gratuitously, their numbers 
became so burdensome to the country — whose hospitality indolent lay- 
men often abused mider the pretext of seeking after knowledge — that 
legislation on the subject became necessary so early as the synod or con- 
vention of Drumceat (a.d. 575). 

The number of monasteries, the extent to which religious education 
v/as carried, but, above all, the fervour which characterized the early ages 
of the Irish Church, had the effect of filling Ireland with holy ascetics, 
living either in communities or in total solitude ; so that scarcely an island 
round the coast, or in the lakes of the interior, or a valley, or any solitary 
spot, could be found which, like the deserts of Egypt and Palestine, was 
not inhabited by fervent caenobites and anchorites. In the lives of some 
of these holy persons who thus peopled the wild, tempest-beaten rocks 
round the Irish coast, it is not unusual to read of others again who were 
found occasionally tossed on the waves in the fi'ail boats of that period, 
"seeking," as the phrase was, "for a desert in the ocean;" and when they 
came to a resting place on earth, they only looked upon it as their " locus 
resurrectionis" — the place where their ashes should await the day of the 
resurrection. It was an age of simplicity and fervour, and may well be 
called the golden age of Ireland ; for while barbarian swarms were 
inundating Europe, each wave of desolation plunging the nations over 
which it passed in social chaos and demoralization, Erin was engaged in 
prayer and study, and the general gloom of Europe only made her light 
shine the more brilliantly by the contrast, and enhanced her glorious 
distinction as the " Island of Saints." 

As soon as religion had been thus matured by sacred study in the 
schools, and by divine contemplation and penitential discipline in the 
cloisters and in the cells and caves of anchorites, it quickly assumed a 
more active development, for which the Irish mind exhibited an equally 
happy adaptation. We refer to the missionary career of the Irish church, 
which dates from the time of St. Columbkille. A few Irishmen prior to 
that epoch were engaged in the diffusion of Christianity in other coun- 
tries, but it was only then that the missionary duty may be said to have 
been taken up by them with a steady and organized zeal. We have seen 
how St. Columba himself preached Christianity to the Picts. For that 
purpose he often crossed from lona into Albion ; and passing the Dorsum 
BritannicB, or Grampian Hills, accompanied by his monks, travelled into 
the northern regions of that country. After his death (a.d. 597), his 
institution of lona, and his other monasteries in those parts, continued to 
be supplied with Scottish monks from Ireland, who were the ordinary 


missionaries of the Picts and British Scots;* their mission heing extended 
still farther south, when they Avere invited into Nortlmmberland iu 
635 by King Oswald, and founded there the diocese and Columbian 
monastery of Lindisfarne. 

The great father, however, of Irish foreign missions into countries 
beyond Britain, was St. Columbanus.f This illustrious saint was a native 
of Leinster, and was of noble extraction. He was born about the year 
539, studied under St. Comgall in Bangor, and, according to the most 
probable account, left Ireland in the year 589, accompanied by twelve 
other monks, for Gaul, passing through Britain, where he made only a 
brief stay. The former country being then in the possession of the 
Franks, we may call it by its modern name of France. Here our Scottic 
missionaries having penetrated into the territory which formed the king- 
dom of Burgundy, then ruled by King Thierry, or Theodoric, they (a.d. 
590), founded the monastery of Luxovium, or Luxeuil, in the midst of 
a forest at the foot of the Vosges, where St. Columbanus established the 
rigid discipline of his native comitry, as he had received it from his mas" 
ter, St. Comgall. The fame of our countryman's sanctity soon spread to 
a distance, and the concourse of those who came to join his order, or to 
seek instruction, was so great that he was obliged, in a short time, to 
establish another monastery, to wdiich he gave the name of Fontaines. 
Religi n having been totally neglected under the barbarian sway of the 
Franks, the active zeal and rigorous life of the Irish monks strangely 
contrasted with the lax and torpid Christianity of all classes of the 
population by whom they were surrounded ; and in denouncing the pre- 
valent vices our saint did not spare those of King Theodoric himself or 
of his demoralized court. This zeal drew upon him the wrath both of 
the king and of the evil-minded queen dowager, Brmiehault, and St. 
Columbanus became an object of relentless persecution. The privileges 
originally conceded to his monasteries were withdrawn, and his rule for 
excluding the laity from the interior of the cloisters having given offence, 
the king went himself, accompanied by a retinue of nobles, to intrude 
forcibly into the sacred enclosures. Having penetrated some distance, 
however, Theodoric became terrified at the prophetic denunciation of the 

• The Scottish colony in North Britain, owing to various causes, does not appear to have devoted 
much attention either to religion or learning for a long time after this period ; and hence are the 
unfounded assumptions of Dempster, and mcdevn Scotch writer?, in claiming all the celebrated Scots 
of those early ages as their own countrymen, the more absurd. 

t The name of this saint is sometimes Avritten Columba ; and he has been often confounded, 
especially by foreign writers, with the great Apostle of the Picts and founder of lona. 


saint, and desisted, contenting himself with ordering St. Columbanus to 
leave the country, and permitting only the Irish and British monks to 
accompany him. 

A.D. 610. — The heroic Scot refused to leave his beloved monks unless 
torn from them by force ; whereupon a company of soldiers were sent to 
carry out the tyrant's orders, and St. Columbanus was dragged from his 
cloister at Luxeuil, where he had spent twenty years, and conveyed with 
those monks Avho were allowed to share his fortunes as far as Nantes, 
where an attempt to ship them ofF to Ireland having been, as it would 
seem, miraculously frustrated, they were permitted to go at large. 

St. Columbanus then repaired to the court of Clothaire, king of 
Soissons, by whom he Avas entertained in the most friendly manner. 
Thence he passed through the territory of Theodobert, king of 
Austrasia, who, although the brother of Theodoric, treated our saint 
with the utmost kindness and distinction ; and ascending by the Rhine 
into the country now called Switzerland, he there found that the 
population, who were Alemanni, had relapsed into idolatry, and that 
the Christian churches were converted into temples for idols. St. 
Columbanus preached here in different places, and sojourned for a year 
at Bregentz, at the south-eastern extremity of the lake of Constance, 
where he left one of his Irish disciples, St. Gallus, or Gall, Avho was 
then sick, setting out himself with the remainder of his companions for 

A.D. 613. — In the third year after his expulsion from the Vosges, 
St. Columbahus arrived at Milan, where he was received in the kindest 
manner by Agilulph, king of the Lombards, and his accomplished queen, 
Theodolinda. He was permitted to choose a site for a monastery, and 
selected for that purpose a place in the Appenines called Bovium or 
Bobbio, where he founded a great monastery, and built near his church 
an oratory dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. By this time his friend 
Clothaire had become king of all France, having seized the dominions 
of Theodoric after the death of the latter, who had only just before slain 
his brother Theodobert and taken his kingdom. St. Columbanus was 
thereupon pressingly invited by Clothaire to return to Luxeuil ; but he 
declined, and contented himself with transmitting his advice for the 
government of his old monasteries, where his rule continued to be 
strictly adhered to. 

St. Columbanus found northern Italy in a state of schism, owing to 
a theological controversy, known as that of the " Three Chapters ;" and 
he was prevailed on by King Agilulph to write to Pope Boniface on the 


subject. The free tone of this epistle, so consistent with the unflinchino- 
character of the nian,'>as well as with the spirit of those rude times ; and 
also our saint's unaltered adhesion to the mode of computing Easter, 
and to the form of liturgy which he had learned in his own country, 
and which had been introduced there by St. Patrick, are particularly 
dwelt on by those who wish to draw a distinction between the religion 
of the ancient Irish and that of Rome ; but the attempts to show any 
such distinction are utterly fruitless. The discrepancies on points of 
discipline were only such as might have existed without detriment to 
the unity of the church ; and St. Columbanus, as well as every other 
Irish ecclesiastic who visited the continent of Europe in those early 
ages, found himself in the most perfect unison in matters of faith with 
the church of Rome, that is, with the Universal Christian church of 
that age. St. Columbanus told the Pope, " that although dwelling at 
the extremity of the world all the Irish were disciples of SS. Peter and 
Paul, receiving no other than the evangelical and apostolical doctrine; 
that no heretic, or Jew, or schismatic, was to be found among them, but 
that they still clung to the Catholic faith, as it was first delivered to 
them by his (the Pope's) predecessors, that is, the successors of the holy 
apostles ; that the L'ish were attached to the chair of St. Peter, and that 
although Rome was great and renowned, it was only on account of that 
chair it was so with them. Through the two apostles of Christ," he 
added, " you are almost celestial, and Rome is the head of all churches, 
as well as of the world."* 

St. Columbanus died at Bobbio, on the 21st of November, 615, at the 
age of 72 years ; and his memory is still highly venerated both in France 
and Italy. In the latter country his name is preserved in that of a 
small town in the district of Lodi, called from him S. Colombano. From 
his writings it is obvious that he was acquainted with Greek and Hebrew, 
besides being an accomplished scholar in other respects ; and as he did 
not leave his own country until he was about fifty years of age, and 
was afterwards occupied constantly in active duties, we may infer tha 
he acquired all his knowledge in the schools of Ireland.f 

* The letters and other writings of St. Columbanus that have been preserved may bo seen in 
Fleming's Collectanea, and in the Bibliotheca Patrum, torn. 12, Ed., 1G77. Some of them are 
publislied in U.«sher's Sylloge. 

t The Benedictines, in tlie Eist. Litteraire de la France, say: — " The light which St Colum- 
banus disseminated, by his knowledge and doctrine, wlicrever he presented hiin.self, caused a cotem- 
porary writer to compare him to the sun in his course from east to west ; and he continued after 
hi.s death to shine fortli in numerous disciples whom he had trained in learning and piety." Seo 
also Muratori, Annali di Ital. ad. an. G12, where lie describes the monastery of Dobbio, as one of the 


We have seen that Gnlkis or Gall, one of the disciples of St. Colum- 
banus, was left in Helvetia, being prevented by Sickness from accom- 
panying his master. He was an eloquent preacher, and being acquainted 
with their language, a dialect of that of the Franks which he had acquired 
in Burgundy, he evangelized the Alemanni, and is called their apostle. 
He died on the 16th of October, about the year 645, in the 95th year 
of his age; and over his ashes rose a monastery which became the 
nucleus, first of an important town and then of a small state, with the 
rank of a principality, called after the holy Irish monk. It was not 
until the year 1798 that the abbey lands of St. Gall, as the territory 
was called, were aggregated to the Swiss Confederation as one of the 
cantons. The old abbey church is one of the chief attractions in the 
city of St. Gall, and for the Irish traveller there are many objects of 
interest there in the relics of his ancient national literature and piety, 
and in the various associations with his country. The life of St. Gall 
was written by Walafridus Strabus, a writer of the ninth century. 

A.D. 635. — Meanwhile St. Aidan, a monk of lona, chosen by his 
brethren as a missionary for Northumbria, on the invitation of King 
Oswald, who had been for some time a refugee in Ireland, converted 
the Saxons of that country to Christianity, and established the see of 
Lindisfarne, of which he was the first bishop. He was accompanied by 
many of his countrymen on this mission ; a monastery of the Columbian 
order Avas founded at Lindisfarne, and Irish masters were also obtained 
to instruct the children of the Northumbrian nobles in the rudiments of 
learning. St. Aidan, a.d. 651, was succeeded by St. Fintan or Finan, 
another Irishman and monk of Hy, who sent missionaries to preach the 
Gospel to the Middle and East Angles, and consecrated as first bishop 
of the former and also of Mercia, Diuma, an Irishman, who was suc- 
ceeded by another Irishman, named Kellach. St. Fintan, who died 
about the year 660, was succeeded as bishop of Lindisfarne, by his 
countryman St. Colman; so that the church of the northern Saxon 
kingdoms was for a long time at that period almost wholly in the charge 
of Irish ecclesiastics. Colman was deeply involved in the controversy 
about the celebration of Easter, which had for some time been a subject 
of anxious discussion in Ii'eland and Britain ; and as the question holds 
a prominent place in the history of the Irish church of that age, it is 
necessary to enter into a brief explanation of it here. 

most celebrated ia Italy; Fleurj', Hist. Eccl., Liv. xxxvii., and all writers who have treated of the 
religioii.s and literary lli^tory of Europe during the period in question. The life of St. Coltimbniius 
A?as written by lonas, an Irish or British monk, the cotemporary of some of the saint's disciples. 


It must be premised that a wide ditference existed between the prac- 
tice "with regard to Easter as upheld so long in Britain and Ireland, and 
that which formed a matter of dispute some centuries before Avith the 
churches of the East. A question arose in the very infancy of Chris- 
tianity, whether the Christian Pasch should be solemnized, like that of 
the Old Law, on the fourteenth day of the moon which falls next after 
the vernal equinox, whatever day of the week that might be ; or whether 
it should not always be observed on a Sunday, the day which our Lord 
had consecrated by His resurrection. The former practice was invariably 
disapproved of in the western church, and Avas condemned in the 
Council of Nice (a.d. 325), and a few churches of Mesopotamia, which 
persisted in it, and which were besides infected with Nestorianism, were 
consequently pronounced heretical. This constituted the Quartodeciman 
heresy; but in the Catholic church there still remained some obstacles 
to uniformity in the computation of Easter. Thus, while at Alexandria, 
which had the best astronomers, the cycle of nineteen years was 
employed for ascertaining the moon's age, the old Jewish cycle of 
eighty-four years continued to be received for a long time at Rome ; 
and a difference of opinion also prevailed as to whether Easter-day 
should be held on the fourteenth of the moon when it fell on Sunday, 
or on the next succeeding Sunday ; but these and some other details 
were finally adjusted between Rome and the principal churches of the 
East ; the main point thus settled being that the fourteenth day should 
under no circumstances be taken for Easter. General harmony now 
prevailed on the subject throughout Europe and the East, when it Avas 
found that the insulated Scottish (that is, Irish) church still adhered to 
the old practice that had been introduced by St. Patrick, and that, 
apparently quite unaware of the discussion on the subject which had 
formerly agitated the rest of the world, and had been long since disposed 
of, the Irish clergy still celebrated Easter on the fourteenth day, if that 
day happened to be Sunday, and were only acquainted with the anti- 
quated cycle of eighty-four years which St. Patrick had been taught to 
use in his time, both in Gaul and Rome, but Avhich had been since laid 
aside for a computation of greater scientific accuracy. 

Veneration for the customs of their fathers has always been a 
characteristic of the Scottic race. In this case they held on to the 
tradition of the great saints who planted Christianity in their country, 
and enriched it Avith their virtues, and no arguments could for a long 
time convince them that a usage sanctified by Patrick, Brigid, and 
Columbkille, Avas erroneous. They were certainly guilty of obstinacy, 


and for that they deserve no praise. It is amusing to observe how little 
weight either science or authority had with them against the tradition 
which they held from those wlunn they loved and venerated ; but there 
cannot be a greater perversion of the truth than to pretend that this 
usage of the Irish chiuxh indicated an Eastern origin, or an essential 
negation of conformity with Rome, seeing that that very usage had 
been brought from Rome itself. This point is important, as gross 
misrepresentation has been practised on the subject. Perfect uniformity 
even in matters of discipline was desirable; and a diversity of practice, 
from which it often followed that while some were still observing the 
fast of Lent, others in the same community or household were chanting 
the alleluias of Easter, was most objectionable; but the Irish and their 
brethren of Britain could not be brought for some time to yield up an 
old custom for the sake of uniformity in such matters ; while on the 
other hand their adhesion to that custom did not exclude them from the 
unity of the Catholic church, or prevent some of its warmest advocates, 
such as St. Columbanus, who wrote a strong letter on the subject to 
St. Gregory, from ranking as saints in the Roman martyrology.* 

A.D. 630. — This year, in consequence of an admonitory letter from Pope 
Honorius I., a synod was held by the Irish clergy at Lena or Old 
Leighlin, to consider the paschal question. St. Laserian advocated the 
Roman practice, and St. Fintan Munnu, the Irish one ; and both, it will 
be observed, are saints of the Catholic church. It was decided that 
messengers should be sent to Rome to consult " the head of cities," and 
the ecclesiastics so deputed brought back word, after three years' absence, 
that the Roman discipline was that of the whole world. From the date 
of this announcement (633), the new Roman cycle and rules for Easter 
were received in the southern half of Ireland, embracing with Munster 
the greater part of Leinster, and part of Connaught. The attachment 
of the Columbian monks to the old practice still retarded the adoption 
of the correct one in the northern half of Ireland ; and it was nearly a 
century after when the wrong method of finding Easter was finally 
abandoned by the community of Hy. St. Cummian, who belonged to 

* It is a remarkable fact that thus, some two hundred years nfter the preaching of St. Patrick, 
no poiut of diflerence could be found between the faith and discipline of the church of Ireland and 
the faith and discipline of the church of Home, except tliis slight one ot the computation of 
Easter, and C.iat of the tonsure, or mode of shaving the heads of the monks; a pretty conclusive 
evidence that whatever tlie religion of Rome was in the sixtii and seventh centuries, auch was also 
the religion of Ireland found to be at the same period ; and it is humiliating to find some writers 
at the present day so blinded by sectarianism as to assert the contrary, and to pretend tliat the 
religion which St. Patrick brougbt into Ireland was not the religion of the western church! 


the Columbian order, embraced the Roman custom at the synod of 630, 
and addressed a learned epistle to the abbot and monks of Hy, in vindi- 
cation of himself, and of the practice of the universal church ;* and 
a few years after the clergy of Ulster addressed a letter to the Holy- 
See, which was received there a little before the death of Pope Seve- 
rinus, and was replied to by the Roman clergy wdiile the see was vacant; 
but the admonition of these latter on the Easter question appears to 
have had no effect upon their Scottish correspondents. 

Such was the state of the controversy when it was renewed with 
increased vehemence in Northumbria, at the time (a.d. 664) that Colman 
succeeded Finan in the see of Lindisfarne. A conference was held that 
year at Whitby, at which kings Oswin and Alcfrid presided ; St. Wil- 
frid, a learned Saxon bishop, advocating the Roman observance, and St. 
Colman with the Irish clergy supporting their own national practice, 
while St, Ceadda, bishop of Mercia, and an adherent of the Scots, acted 
as interpreter between the parties. The proceedings of this conference 
were most interesting, and resulted in a decision againt Colman's usage ; 
the kings and the bulk of the assembly declaring in favor of Wilfrid. St. 
Colman consequently resigned the see of Lindisfarne, and taking with 
him all the Irish and about tliirty of the English monks of his establish- 
ment, he withdrew to the remote island of Innisbofin, or the " island of 
the white cow," off the western coast of Ireland, where he founded a 
monastery for his Irish monks, building another shortly after for his 
English followers on the plain of Mayo, called on that account Mayo- 
of-the-Saxons. He himself resided in Innisbofin, until his death, in the 
year 676.t 

* This celebrated letter is published in Ussher's SyUoge ; and its style and the learning it dis- 
plays are hi^'hly creditable to the venerable Irish ecclesiastic by whom it was written. 

t Venerable Bede (Ec. Hist. B. iii., cliap. 25) gives a detailed account of the important con- 
ference of Whitby. Describing, in the following chapter, the departure of St. Colman and the 
Irish monks from Lindisfarne, he pays them the following tribute, which may be received as applic- 
able to the Irish monks in general of that period :— " The place which he (Colman ) governed, 
shows how frugal he and his predecessors were, for there were very few houses besides the church 
found at tlieir departure, indeed no more than were barely sufficient for their daily residence ; they 
had also no monej^ but only some cattle; for if they received any money from rich persons they 
immediately gave it to the poor ; there being no need to gather money or provide houses for the 
entertainment of the great men of the world ; for such never resorted t» the church except to pray 

and hear the word of God For the whole care of those teachers was to serve God, 

not the world— to feed the soul, and not the stomach." And again (B. iii., chap. 27)— "Durmg 
the time of Finan and Colman, many nobles and others of the English nation were living in 
Ireland, whither they hud repaired either to cultivate the sacred studies, or to lead a life of 
greater strictness. Some of them soon became monks ; others were better pleased to apply to 
reading and study, going about from school to school through tiie cells of the maslers; and all of 
them were most cheerfully received by the lri>h, who supplied them yralis with good books and 


A.D. 684. — It was related at the close of the preceding chapter how 
Egfrid, king of Northunihria, sent an army on a piratic excursion 
into Ireland, to gratify, as it is believed, his private resentment ; his 
brother Alfred having sought refuge in Ireland from his treachery, and 
been hospitably received there* The next year, or the following one, 
Alfred succeeded him on the throne; and if was then (a.d 685 or 
686) that St. Adamnan, the ninth abbot of Hy, who is celebrated not 
only for his sanctity, but as the accomplished biographer of the great 
St. Columba, was sent into England to recover the captives and property 
of which Ireland had been plundered. Adamnan's mission to the 
fi'iendly court of Alfred was most successful ; and he appears to have 
repeated his visits there more than once in after years. This holy and 
learned abbot was one of the most strenuous promoters of the new 
paschal computation, which he succeeded in introducing into the 
northern parts of Ireland, although his own monastery of Hy persisted 
in declining it for some years longer. In the year 697, he proceeded to 
Ireland from Hy, and took part in a synod or legislative council, held at 
Tara, which place, although it had ceased to be a royal residence, was 
still occasionally used as the seat of legislation. On this occasion he 
procured the enactment of a law, which was called the Canon of 
Adamnan, or the " Law of the Innocents," and sometimes " the law 
not to kill women." 

It was usual amongst the pagan Irish, as we have seen, for women to 
go with the men to battle, but as we generally read of one woman being- 
killed by another, it is probable that the female combatants of opposite 
armies encountered each other. This barbarous custom may have fallen 
partially into disuse after the conversion of the country to Christianity, 
although we are not told that such was the case ; but there was certainly 
no law against it, or any to exempt women from attending hostings in 
warfare until the time of St. Adamnan ; and a characteristic incident is 
related in the Leabhar Breac, and the Book of Lecan, to account for 
that saint's interference in this matter. It happened, according to the 
story, that Adamnan was travelling one day through the plain of Bi'egia, 
while yet a young man, with his mother, Ronait, on his back, when 
they saw two armies engaged in conflict. The mother of Adam- 
nan observed a Avoman with a sickle plunged into the breast of 

* Alfred and Oswald were not tlie only foreign princes who had been sheltered in Ireland ; Ddg-o- 
bert II., king of Austrasia, having, in his youth, lived for tifteen years ((J55 to 670) in the 
monastery of Slane on the lioyue. whitiier he had bei-u sent on the death of his father by Griiuuaio, 
mayor of the palace. 


another woman, and thus di'agging her about the field ; and horrified 
at the spectacle, she exacted a solemn promise fi'om her son that he 
would obtain a law to exempt Avomen from warfare. Adamnan did iiot 
lose sight of the injunction of his parent, and it is likely that he 
employed his influence, as soon as it was powerful enough, to introduce 
the law in question* He celebrated Easter, according to the canonical 
computation, in the northern half of Ireland, in year 703, and died the 
following year; and it was reserved for a Northumbrian monk, named 
Egbert, to bring the community of Hy to uniformity on this point, in 
the year 716, a hundred and fifty years, according to Bede, after the 
controversy on the subject had commenced in these countries. 

Returning to those Irish saints who, by their virtues and learning, 
spread the fame of their native land into foreign countries, we shall 
only enumerate the more celebrated of them. St. Frigidian was bishop 
of Lucca for twenty-eight years in the sixth century, and his memory is 
still held in great veneration in that part of Italy. Of St. Molua, or 
Lugid, it was said by the great Pope St. Gregory, that his monastic 
rule was like a hedfje which reached to heaven. St. De£!;an travelled to 
Rome early in the seventh century, at the commencement of the paschal 
controversy, and embraced the canonical mode of computation. St. 
Livinus, an Irish bishop, erroneously called archbishop of Dublin, 
suffered martyrdom in Flanders, in the year 683, and his memory has 
always been venerated in that country, whither he had gone to preach 
the Gospel. Some beautiful verses, written by him in good classic 
Latin, have been preserved. St. Fiacre, who flourished in the year 622, 
erected a monastery in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in a 
forest near Meaux, m France, and the fame of his sanctity rendered 
the pilgrimage to his tomb or hermitage so popular, that his name was 
given to the hackney coaches of Paris, of which go many were employed 
in conveying the citizens thither. St. Fursey, who died in the year 
648, founded a monastery in England, and another at Lagny, in 
France ; and his disciples, St. Foilan, St. Gobban, and St. Dicuil, were 
the companions of his labors in those countries. St. Arbogast, an 
Irishman, was consecrated bishop of Strasburg in 646. St. Kilian, the 
illlustrious apostle of Fronconia was martyred with his two companions, 
in the year 689. This great saint, faithful to the spirit of the Irish 

* This law prntflcted women and children against the barbarities of war, and hence it was 
called the iex innucentium, or law of the innocfnt or weak. 'The assembly in which it was enacted 
was held in the " Kath of the Synods." on 'lara Hill, near which raih, according to the DinnseHii- 
rhus was the Lathrach Pxipaill Adumiiaiii, or "bile of tlie leut of Aiianinan." 


church, would not commence his mission among the pagans of Wurtz- 
burg, although he saw its necessity, until he had gone to Rome to obtain 
the sanction and blessing of the Pope. Two other saints of the same 
name flourished on the continent, one a disciple of St. Columbanus, and 
the other abbot of St. Martin's monastery at Cologne. 

To this period belongs the illustrious patron of the metropolitan city 
of Tarentvim, St. Cathaldus, whom some old continental writers erron- 
eously supposed to have flourished in the second century. He was a 
nntive of Munster ; was first a student, and then a professor at Lismore, 
where he is said to have erected a church in honor of the Blessed 
Virgin ; and as that renowned seminary was not founded until the year 
633, it must have been some years later, perhaps about 650, when he left 
Ireland. Returning fi'om a pilgrimage to Jerusalem he passed through 
Tarentum, and having performed some miracles as he approached the 
town, he was received by the inhabitants with veneration, unanimously 
chosen as their bishop, and continued to govern the diocese with great 
zeal for many years. His brother, St. Donatus, probably travelled with 
him., as v/e find that he was bishop of Lecce, another city of the kingdom 
of Naples, and both are said to have lived for many years as hermits 
near a small town now called San Cataldo.* 

St. Cnthbert, the celebrated bishop of Lindisfarne, who died in the 
year 687, was, according to many distinguished authorities, an Irishman, 
but it is at least certain that he Avas educated by Irishmen.! St. 
IMaccutbenus, avIio died about this time (a.d. Q9S), composed a hymn in 
praise of the Blessed Virgin. St. Sedulius, the younger, assisted at a 
council held in Rome, in the year 721, during the pontificate of 
Gregory II., and was sent on an ecclesiastical mission from Rome into 
Spain, being previously consecrated bishop of Ore to in that country. 
On his arrival in Spain, in order to show his claim to the regard and 

* The life of St. Cathaldus was written in prose by Bartliolomeo Moroni, of Tarentum, and in 
verse by his brother, Bonaventura. His acts, written by others, are also extant. See them 
collected by Coli,'an, AA. SS. Hib. at the 8th of March; and a great deal concerning him in 
Ussher's Primordia, pp. 392, &c., folio edition. The poetic life of St. Cathaldus describes in 
beautiful language the conflux of students from different parts of Europe to the school at Lismore. 

t Colgan, Ussher, Ware, and Harris, make St. Cnthbert an Irishmau. but there does not appear 
to be any Irish authority for the story of his birth related in the life quoted by Colgan from 
Capgrave. Professor Eugene Curry, in a note addressed to the author, says, " St. Cuthbert's name 
is not to be found in the lists of Irish saints preserved in the Books of Leinster, Ballymote, Lecan, 
M'Firbis, or the Calendar of the Four Masters; hut it does appear in wliat is called the Martyr- 
ology of Tamlacht, copied by Father Michael O'Cleary. In this he is set down, at March 20th, as 
(,'ubrichta Saxonis, of Inis Menoc ; and in the Festology of Aengus Cele De, Inis Jlenoc, or rather 
Inis Medcoit, is explained ns an island on the north coast of Little Britain (recte Great Britain^ 
in which St Aedan lived." 


attention of the people, he wrote a book to prove that being of Irish 
birth, he was consequently of Spanish descent, thus satisfactorily show- 
ing how fixed the tradititions of the Milesian colony were at that eai'ly 
age on the minds of Irishmen.* It is generally admitted that there were 
two Irish saints of this name : the elder Sedulius, called the Venerable, 
who flourished in the fifth century, and is celebrated for his sacred 
poetry, still used in the church offices; and the younger Sedulius, just 
mentioned, who wrote commentaries on some portions of the Scriptures. 
Few. of these ancient Irish missionaries have excited more interest 
than St. Virgilius, who is called " Ferghil the Geometer," in the Irish 
annals, and Solivagus, or, the "Solitary Wanderer," by Latin writers. 
He startled Europe by his scientific opinions in the eighth century, 
teaching that the earth was a sphere, and consequently that there were 
antipodes ; but it is utterly false that, as some say, he was persecuted by 
the church for this opinion. This remarkable Irishman set out from 
his own country, where he had been abbot of Aghaboe, in Ossory ; and 
on his arrival in France he was graciously received by Pepin, then 
mayor of the palace, and afterwards king of France. Our saint next 
travelled into Bavaria, about the year 745, and while on the mission at 
Saltzburg, a theological question arose between him and St. Boniface, 
a bishop whose jurisdiction extended to that place. The latter required 
that baptism, which had been administered in an ungrammatical form of 
words, should be repeated, and St. Virgilius held the contrary opinion, 
which is the correct one. The question was referred to Pope Zachary, 
who decided with St. Virgilius. But soon after a complaint was 
forwarded to the Sovereign Pontiff against the distinguished Irishman, 
accusing him of teaching that there was another world under this one, 
inhabited by men who were not of the race of Adam, and who conse- 
quently were not redeemed by Christ. That St. Virgilius gave a satis- 
factory explanation in answer to the charge is obvious, as in 756 he was 
appointed bishop of Saltzburg by Pope Stephen II. and king Pepin, a suffi- 
cient proof that his character was not stained by any blemish in the eyes 
of these high authorities. This Irish saint died at Saltzburg in the year 
785, after a visitation of his vast diocese, which included Carinthia. He 
obtained his philosophical knowledge in the schools of his native land, 
as did also St. Dicuil, another Irishman, who about tlie close of the 
eighth century wrote a treatise, " De mensura orbis terras," describing 
the then known world, upon the authority of the earlier geographers 

* Harris's Wme's Irioli VV'iiUT.-, p. 47. 


and of tlie commissioners appointed by the emperor Theodosius to 
measure the provinces of the Roman empire* 

Even then Ireland was famed in foreign countries for its sweet and 
expressive music ; and we find that saints Foilan and Ultan, the brothers 
of St. Fursey, were invited along with other Irishmen, by St. Gertrude, 
daughter of Pepin and abbess of Nivelle, in Brabant, to instruct her 
community in sacred psalmody. These holy men erected a monastery 
at Fosse, near Nivelle, and the religious houses at both places were con- 
sidered to be Irish. St. Ultan also became the first superior of the 
monastery of St. Quintin, near Peronne, and lived until about the 
year 67G. 

St. Fridolin, " the Traveller," the son of an Irish king, founded 
monasteries in various parts of France, in Helvetia, and on the Rhine. 
He flourished about the close of the seventh and the commencement of 
the eighth century, and his memory has been preserved with veneration 
in many parts of the continent. A little later flourished Albuin, called 
also by the Saxon name of Wittan, or White, who preached the Gospel in 
Thuringia, or Upper Saxony, and was appointed by the Pope bishop of 
Buraburgh, near Fritzlar, in the year 741. 

About a year after Charlemagne had become sole monarch of Fi'ance 
— that is, A.D. 772 — two remarkable Irishmen made their appearance in 
his territories. Their names were Clemens and Albinus; and the 
method which they adopted to attract attention is related as a curious 
sample of the manners of the times. Observing that commerce of one 
kind or other occupied the people, they went about announcing, that 
they had wisdom to sell, and thus collected crowds to hear their 
instructions. Their fame soon reached the ears of the great monarch, 
who was just then intent on the intellectual improvement of his people. 
He sent for them ; entertained them for some time in his palace, and 
then placed them over two public schools which he founded, committing 
that of Paris to Clemens, and one founded at Pavia, in Italy, to his 
companion, Albinus. The names of these two eminent Irishmen were 
subsequently thrown partly into the shade by that of Alcuin, a Saxon, 
who, according to the custom of the age of taking Roman names, 
assumed the name of Albinus Flaccus. Alcuin arrived in France 
several years after our countrymen, Clemens and Albinus ; he afforded 
great assistance to Charlemagne in his efforts to revive learning, accom- 
panied him for the purpose of teaching a school of nobles in his palace, 

• Tliis ancient geographical treatise was publishei, with a critical dLisertation and copious notes, 
by M. Letionue, in Paris, a n. 1811. 


and has been rendered famous by liis correspondence with the emperor 
and with other illustrious persons of his time. Charlemagne, however, 
patronised all the learned foreigners whom he could attract to his court, 
and while he lived repaid with his friendship and support the two 
Irishmen we have mentioned* 

A few years after Albinus, Dongal, another Irishman, and one of the 
most learned men of his time, was appointed professor of the school of 
Pavia by king Lothaire. He is celebrated, among other things, for an 
epistle which he wrote to Charlemagne on the two solar eclipses of 810; 
for a valuable gift of books, some of them relating to secular literature, 
which he made to the monastery of Bobbio; and for a work in 
defence of the use of sacred images in churches against Clodius of 
Tui'in. St. Donatus, an Irishman, who flourished in the middle of the 
same (ninth) centui'v, was made bishop of Fiesole, in Italy, and his 
disciple, Andrew, who had accompanied him on a pilgrimage to Rome, 
was deacon of the same chui'ch.f 

Turning, finally, towards the north, we find that Irish monks were 
not only the first Christians, but most probably the first inhabitants, of 
the inhospitable region of Iceland, which they called Thule, or Tyle. 
Dicuil, who, as we have seen, flourished in the latter part of the eighth, 
and beginning of the ninth century, states that thirty years before he 
wrote his geographical work, he had got an account of Thule from 
some ecclesiastics who had been sojourning there; and when, in the 
latter part of the ninth century, the pagan Norwegians planted a colony 
in Iceland, the Irish monks, who fled on their arrival, left behind them 
sundry memorials of their religion, such as Irish books, small bells, and 
pastoral staffs. This circumstance is related by various Icelandic writers, 

* The Monk of St. Gall, who wrote the life of Charlemagne in the ninth century, and who is 
believed to have been the celebrated Notkerus Bulbultis, makes particular mention of Clemens and 
Albinus as "Scots of IrelancL" Jluratori, Anncdl di Italia, anno 781, refers to the loaniiiig and 
teaching of Albinus in Italy. See Lanigan, Ware, &c. Guizot omits all mention of them in his 
History of Civilization ; he and some other modern writers, who have only glanced at the subject, 
having confined their attention to Akuin and his disciples. 

t To Donatus, the holy bishop of Fiesole, M-e are indebted for the graceful tribute to Ireland 
contained in the well-known lines: — 

Fiiiibus occiduis describitur optima tellus, 
Koniine et antiquis Scotia scripta libris. 
Insula dives opum, gemmarum, vestis, et anni 

Commoda corporibus aere, sole, solo. 
Jlclle fluit pulchris, et lacteis Scotia ca npis, 
Veslibus, atque armis, frugibu.i, arte, viris. 
« « * # ♦ 

In qua Scotorum gentes habitare merentuj-, 
Vidyta gens hominum, militc, pace, lile. 


who add that these Irish monks were called papas by the Norwegian 
settlers. When the first effort was made to introduce Christianity 
among the pagan colonists, two Irishmen, who are called Ernulph and 
Buo by their Icelandic biographer, Arngrim Jonas, were the mission- 
aries; and another old Icelandic writer, Ara Multiscius, mentions an 
Irishman named John, in his enumeration of e^.rly Icelandic bishops* 

In the preceding account of the Irish saints and scholars of those 
early ages, we have omitted the name of one most remarkable Irisliman, 
who could scarcely be placed in the same category with any of those 
whom we have mentioned. This was John Scotns Erigena, or " the 
Irishman," who flourished in the middle of the ninth century, and whose 
extraordinaiy learning and eccentric genius filled Europe with amaze- 
ment. John was not an ecclesiastic, nor was he a sound theologian. 
He mingled divinity with Platonic philosophy, and fell into the wildest 
errors about the nature and attributes of the Deity, grace and predesti- 
nation, the future state of reward and punishment, and other subjects; 
and some of his books were condemned by the church. He resided 
chiefly in Paris, where he taught philosophy, and was on terms of 
friendship with the emperor Charles the Bald, at whose desire he trans- 
lated the supposed works of Dionysius the Areopagite from Greek into 
Latin. He was the first who combined scholastic and mystic theology ; 
and notwithstanding his pantheistic and other errors, he is said to have 
led an exemplary life. He died in France some short time before the 
year 875 ; and no other schoolman of his age attracted so much notice, 
or was the object of such diversity of opinions, both during his life and 
in after ages.f 

* Some account of Ernulph and Buo is given in Colgan's AA: SS. Hib. Feb. 2 and 5. Ara 
Multiscius (Schedce de hlandia, cap. 2) relates how, in the first j'ears of Harold Harfagre, who 
became king of Norway, a.d. 885, Ingulph, the first Norwegian, fled into Iceland, and was soon 
followed by so many of his countrymen that it was feared Norway would be left desert, and he 
says: — "At that time Iceland was covered with woods, and there were then in it Cliristian men, 
whom the Norwegians call papas; and the.^e, being unwilling to remain with heathens, went away 
forthwith, leaving behind them Irish books, and small bells, and Cpa-.toralj staffs whence it was 
easy to perceive that they were of the Irish nation." This is told in somewhat similar terms in the 
Landnamaboc, quoted by Johnston, Antiq. Celto-Scand., p. 14. 

t Of this singular man Tennemann says: — "John Scotus, an Irishman, belonged to a mnch 
higher order (tlian Alcuin) ; a man of great learning, and of a philosophical and original mind; 
whose means of attaining to such superiority we are ignorant of. His acquaintance with Latin and 
(Ireek, to which some assert he added the Arabic; his love for the philosophy of Aristotle and 
riato ; his translation, exceedingly esteemed throughout the West, of Dionysius the Aieopagite; 
his liberal and enlightened (heretical) views respecting predestination and the Eucharist; all these 
I iititle him to be considered a phenomenon for the times in which he lived." Hist, of Philosjphy, 
p. 215 (Bohn's edition). 


Christian Antiquities of Ireland. — Testimonies on the subject of Ireland's Pre- 
eminence for Sanctity and Learning. — The Culdees. — Hereditary Transmission 
of Cliurch Offices. — Lay Bishops and Abbots. — Comhorbas and Ilerenachs. — 
Termon Lands. — Characteristics of the Primitive Church in Ireland. — Infer- 
ence therefrom. — Peculiarities in Discipline. — Materials used in Building 
Churches. — Damliags and Duireachs. — Cyclopean Masonry. — The Eound 
Towers. — Saints' Beds, Holy Wells, and Penitential Stations. 

T tlie risk of trenching on the duties of the ecclesiastical 
historian, the preceding chapter has been extended 
beyond its due proportion; yet the object in view — 
namely, that of exhibiting the aspect of Christian 
Ireland, as it was presented to Europe in the centuries 
preceding the Danish invasion — ^lias been but imper- 
fectly accomplished. Our list of the illustrious Irishmen 
who spread the fame of their country for learning and 
holiness into foreign lands is far from being complete, 
and the subject is on the whole little more than glanced 
at. But even this slight sketch will show that there is 
sufficient ground for what has been so often said about 
the eminent position which Ireland once held in relation 
to the other countries of Christendom. Tliat pre-eminence 
is no idle dream — no creation of the national Imagination. It is as mach 
a reality as any other fact in the range of history, and may be assuredly 
a legitimate source of national pride. During the period which 
extended from the inroads of the barbarians in Europe in the sixth 
century, to the partial revival of education and mental energy under 
Charlemagne, in the ninth, this island was unquestionably the retreat 
and nursery of learning and piety, and the centre of intellectual activity. 



An old v.riter speaks of Ireland having been at this time reputed to be 
full of saints.* Venerable Bede informs us that numbers were daily 
coming into Britain from the country of the Scots (Ireland), preaching 
the Word of God with great devotion.f "What shall I say of Ireland," 
says Eric of Auxerre, a French writer of the ninth century, "which, 
despising the dangers of the deep, is migrating, with almost her whole 
train of philosophers, to our coasts?":}: Thierry, after describing the 
poetry and literature of ancient Ireland as perhaps the most cultivated 
of all Western Europe, adds that Ireland "counted a host of saints and 
learned men, venerated in England and Gaul, for no country had 
furnished more Christian missionaries, uninfluenced by other motives 
than pure zeal to communicate to foreign nations the opinions and faith 
of their own land."§ Testimonies of ancient and modern writers to the 
same effect might be multiplied indefinitely, all representing (in the 
words of Dr. Lanigan) the migration which took place at that period 
from Ireland, as a swarm of holy and learned men, by whom foreign 
nations were instructed and edified. || 

Then, as to the resort of foreigners to Ireland for the purposes of 
education, and of leading a life of greater perfection, we have also 
copious and conclusive evidence. St. Aengus the Culdee, in his litany 
\vritten at the end of the eighth century, invokes the intercession of 
many hundreds of saints, Remans, Italians, Egyptians, Gauls, Germans, 
Britons, Picts, Saxons, and natives of other countries, who were buried 
and venerated in Ireland, and whom he divided into groups, chiefly 
according to the localities of Ireland in which they had sojourned and 
died. The lives of St. Patrick, St. Kieran, St. Declan, St. Albeus, 

* Jlariaiius Scotus; Clironicon. art an. G74. Usslier remarks that the saints of this jjeriotl 
might be grouped into a f.'urth order of the IrLh saints. 

t nccl. Hist., Lib. iii., chap 3. 

J Letter to Charles the Bald. 

{^ Hist, de la Conqin-te de rAngletorre, Liv. x 

II Stephen Vv'hite, (Apologia, p. 24J, thus sums up the labors of the Irish saints on the tonti- 
reiit: — "Among the names of saints whom Inland formerly sent forth were, as I have 
learned from the trustwcjrthj- writings of the ancients, 150 now honored as patrons of places in 
Germany, of whom 36 were martyrs; 45 Irish patrons in the Gauls, of whom 6 were martyrs, 
iit least 30 in BeUium; 44 in England; 13 in Italy; and in Iceland and Norway 8 martyrs; 
besides many others." " One singular and extraordinary fact may be noted here," observes the 
late llev. Dr. Kelly (Camb. Ever., vol. ii., p. 653), "namely, that to foreign sources almost exclu- 
^Ively are we indebted for a knowledge of those Irish saints. Erom our native annals we couid 
not know even their names, with very few exceptions, such as St. Virgilius," &c., &c. 

It has beei calculated that the ancient, monks had 13 monastic foundations in Scotland, 
12 in England. 7 in France, 12 in Armoric Gaul, 7 in Lotharingia, 11 in Burgundy. 9 in BelL::iiim, 
10 in Alsatia, 16 in Bavaria, G in Italy, and 15 in Rhctia, Helvetia, and Suevi.;, besides many hi 
Ihuringia, and on the left margin of the Rhine, between Cueldre,; and Al>a;ia. 

THE CyLDEES5. 109 

St. Enda, St. Maidoc, St. Senan, St. Brendan, and other Irish saints, 
furnish testimonies to the same effect.* 

Camden, in his description of Ireland, says: — " At that age our Ano-lo- 
Saxons repaired on all sides to Ireland as to a general mart of learnino-. 
Whence we read, in our writers, of holy men, that ' they went to 
study in Ireland;' Amandatus est ad dlsciplinam in Hiberniam." We are 
told that three thousand students at a time attended the great schools of 
Armagh alone, and that many of these had come from other countries ; 
but after making due allowance for exaggeration in such statements as 
this, we have still an overwhelming mass of evidence to shew that Ire- 
land Avas, in those remote ages, a nm'sery of saints and scholars ; and 
such being her acknowledged character so soon after receiving Clu"is- 
tianity, it would be, to say the least, rash to deny that she had made 
any progress previously in the march of civilization.f 

We have now a few words of explanation to offer on some points of 
interest relating to oiu* ecclesiastical antiquities, before we resume oiu: 
civil history. 

The question, who were the Culdees ? is one that has been often 
asked, and upon which many serious errors have been current. These 
errors seem to have originated in Scotland, the ancient history of which 
country is a tissue of anachronisms and fabrications. It has been 
asserted that the Culdees were an order of priests or monks who taught 
Christianity and ruled the church without bishops, in North Britain and 
Ireland, before the time of St. Palladius and St. Patrick — a fallacy 
which was embraced with aAadity by the Scottish Presbyterians. But 
this notion was subsequently modified, especially after Dr. Ledwich had 
promulgated his false and silly statements on the subject ; and it was 
then pretended that Culdees was only another name for the order of 
monks founded by St. Columbkille ; that they were married men ; that 
their religion was pure compared with that of Rome; that they rejected 
the authority of the Pope, together with much more to the same effect.J 
This is simply a mass of groundless and shameful falsehood, without 
one word of truth, or the slightest authority of antiquity to support it. 

* Dr. Fctrie (^Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland, p. 139), gives an engraving of the stone 
which marks the grave of the " Seven Romans," near the church of St. Brecan, in the great 
island of Aran. 

t Dr. Johnson, in a letter addressed to Charles O'Conor, of Belanagar, dated 1777, alluding to 
the period of Irish histoiy which he wished to see developed, writes : — •' Dr. Leland begins his history 
too late; the ages which deserve an exact encjuiry are those times, for such there were, when Ireland 
vas the ^chool of the West, the quiet liabitatiun of sanctity and learning." — Boswell's Life of Johnson. 

X Ledwich's Antiquiiie-, p. 113, .S.C., second edit! n. 


As to the fanciful theory of the Culdees having been founded by St. 
Columbkille, Dr. Lanigan* correctly observes that " in none of the lives 
of that saint, nor in Bede, who very often treats of the Columbian order 
and monks, nor in the whole history of the monastery of Hy (lona) and 
its dependencies, does the name of Culdees or any name tantamount to 
it ever once occur," a circumstance which, as he justly concludes, 
" would have been impossible, had the Culdees been Columbians or 
members of the order or congregation of Hy." 

The true character of the Culdees may be gathered from the following 
note upon them, with which the author has been favored by that pro- 
found Irish scholar. Professor Eugene Curry, of the Catholic University. 
" The Culdees," says JVIr. Curry, " as far as I have been able to trace 
them, were to be found in Ireland since St. Patrick's time, as the 
Tripartite Life of the apostle mentions that one of them attended him 
in his visit to Munster; that his name was Malach Brit, and that his 
church was subsequently built in the north-eastern angle of the southern 
Decies — namely Cill Malach. They appear to have been originally 
mendicant monks, but had no communities until the middle of the 
eighth century, when St. Maelruan, of Tamlacht (Tallaght, near Dublin), 
drew up a rule for them in Irish. Of this rule I have an ancient copy, 
which I am now preparing for publication. Aengus Cele De was for 
some time in Maelruan's establishment, and was a priest, but he does 
not appear to have before that belonged to any community of Culdees. 
They had a separate house at Clonmacnoise, a.d. 1031, of which Conn- 
na-mbocht (Con-of-the-poor) was head; but these were lay monks of 
the order, as was their prior or economist, Conn, who, it appears, was 
the first that collected a herd of cows for them there. Iseal Ciarain 
(their house at Clonmacnoise), was not founded at this time, but very 
long before, and the Cele De were attached to the church as lay monks. 
They are often mentioned in the Brehon laws as the recipients of certain 
unappropriated church dues or income ; and they were at Armagh down 
to the year IGOO, but appear to have been masons, carpenters, and men 
of other trades ; all laymen but unmarried." 

From these facts it is clear that the Cele De (servants of God), called 
in Latin Keledei, and afterwards corruptly Colidei, were religious per- 
sons resembling very much members of the tertiary orders of St. Domi- 
nic and St. Francis, in the Catholic church at the present day, or one ot 
the great religious confraternities of modern times. Theu' society 

* Hist. Eccl. chap, xx.xi., ?ec. 1 


was widely spread in Scotland, and was known in "Wales about the 
same time; and it is scarcely necessary to add that their religious 
principles were identical with those of the universal church at that 
period. * 

The hereditary, or clannish principle, prevailed from a very early age 
in the transmission of ecclesiastical offices and property in Ireland, and 
became in course of time a fruitful source of abuses. Bishoprics, abba- 
cies, and other benefices Avere thus, as it were, entailed on particular 
families, whether those of the founders or of local chiefs, so that on the 
failure of clergymen in these families or clans, laymen of the same 
families were invested with the titles and emoluments of the offices, 
while ecclesiastics of the proper order were delegated to perform the 
clerical functions belonging to them. Hence, we hear of laymen as 
nominally archbishops and bishops, and also as abbots and priors of 
monasteries ; that is, who enjoyed the emoluments, temporalities, and 
privileges of these offices, and who, not being in holy orders, may have 
been married men. This custom often led to intolerable confusion; and 
it has been seized by some modern writers, either ignorant of its 
nature, or too anxious to make it answer their own prejudices, for the 
purpose of showing that the clergy were not bound to celibacy in the 
Irish church. A more intimate knowledge of Irish authorities has, how- 
ever, shown these writers that this was a grievous mistake, as every one 
who had studied the history of the Irish church with a judgment un- 
warped by sectarian bias must have known. In no single instance does 
it appear that the marriage of any one in priest's orders was ever tol- 
erated in the church of Ireland. 

The holders of the higher ecclesiastical offices, whether clerics or lay- 
men, were, in the original foundations, called comhorbas, or successors. 
Thus, the archbishop of Armagh was comliorba of Patrick; the arch- 
bishop of Tuam, or of Connaught, as he was often called, was comhorba 

* Dr. Lanigan has collected a great ileal o.' matter about tlie Culdees in tha first six sections of 
chap. xxxi. of bis Ecclesiastical History ; but he was wrong in supposing them to be secular clergy 
or canons. Dr. Reeves, a Protestant clergyman, in his copious and learned annotations to Adain- 
nan's Life of St. Columba (p. 368), says, the Celedei "had no particular connexion willi this (the 
Columbian) order, any more than had the Deoradhs, or the other developments of conventual ob- 
servance;" and in afoot note he adds, that " C«Wee is the most abu<ed term In Si;otic church 
history." Dr. ODonovan {Four Masters, an. 1479, note I) says, " CeU De is often used as if it 
were a generic term applied to Ccelibites, or religious persons in general, and this is the sense in 
which Giraldus Cambrensis used Colidei. From all that he says about them no one could infer that 
they were anything but Caiibites or lay-monks. The term was, however, used in a restricted sense 
in Archbishop Ussher's memorj', and applied to the priests, ' qui choro inservientes divina celebra- 
baut officia.' The Scotch historians have written a vast deal of intolerable nonsense about iLe 
Culdees of the Columbian order, but they are entirely beneath criticism." 


of Jarlatli; the abbot of Hy was coinhorba of Columbkille ; the abbot of 
Aran was comhorba of Enda, &c. The lands belonging to a churcli 
oi' monastery were rented or administered by an official, called a 
herenach, or airchinneach ; that is, a warden who originally dispensed the 
profits of the lands for the support of the church and the relief of the 
poor. After a time the herenachs were all laymen. The office was 
generally hereditary in the family or sept of the founder: but if the sept 
could not agree in the election of a herenach, or if the sept or family 
became extinct, then the bishop and clergy elected one under certain 
conditions, the herenach being in such a case the tenant of the church 
lands for a stipulated rent or contribution. Herenachs were numerous, 
and were to be found in every part of Ireland.* 

The office of comhorba (or, as the name is often corruptly written, 
corba, corbes, or corbanus), was essentially different from that of 
herenarch, and was originally one of dignity and jurisdiction; and, 
although Colgan says that in his time (the 17th century) very few of 
the comhorbas were in holy orders, the contrary was certainly the case 
in the middle ages. Wlien ecclesiastical dignities and benefices were 
held by men not in the proper orders, the tonsure or one of the minor 
orders was usually conferred, so that the holders were entitled to be 
called clerics. 

The lands belonging to churches or monasteries were called Tarmon, 
or Termon lands, that is, lands of sanctuary or refuge; and their 
termini, or bounds, were defined by terminal crosses or other distin- 
guishing objects. Hence, such names as Termon fechan. Termonfinean, 
Termonderry, &c., to be met with in some parts of Ireland.f 

* Dr. Reeves, in a note on "Hereditary Abbacies" (Vita S. Colnmb., p. .^3.1), says: "The Book 
of Armagh gives us a most valuable insight into the ancient economy of the Irish monasteries, in 
its acccinit of the endowment of Trim. In that church there wna an ecclesiaxtica pror/enim, and 
a plebilis profjenies, a religious and secular succession; the former of office in spirituals, the latter of 

blood in temporals, and both descended from the original grantor The lineal transmission 

of the abbatical office, which appears in tlie Irish annals, towards the close of the eighth century, 
probably had its origin in the usurpation of the plebiUs progenies connected with the various 
monasteries of the functions of the eccfesi'a.^iica processes, which would be the necessary result of 
the former omitting to keep up the succession of the latter. In each case the tenant in possession 
might maintain a semblance of the clerical cliaracter by taking tonsure and a low degree of orders. 
Thi.-s is very much what Giraidus Cambren-is states concerning the Abbates laid of Ireland and 
Wales (Itinorar. ii., 4.)" Dr. Reeves proceeds to explain on this ground the recogniti'in, in the 
Canons of St. Patrick, of the relation of the " Clcricus et uxor ejus" (Canon C) ; and it is to be 
hoped that after this candid expression by so eminent a Protestant divine of the result of his 
researches on this subject, we shall hear no more of the monstrous falsehood about marriod abbots, 
&c., in the Irish church. 

t For explanations of the offices and terms mentioned above, see Colgan's Trias Thnnm., pp. 
8, 293, G30 ; Harris's Ware, vol ii., p. 234 ; Lanigan, vol. iv., p. 80. Throughout the Four 
Jla«ters the term comhorba is rendered "successor." It is derived from the words c.omh and forba, 


In such literary monuments as remain to us of the primitive Irish 
church formal expositions of doctrine are not to be expected. WTiere 
no diversity of creed was thought of, such expositions were not required : 
formularies of belief having been generally drawn up by the church to 
oppose the erroneous teaching of sectaries. Of the religion of the early 
Irish Christians, however, we have written, as well as other monuments 
in abundance, which show that it was strongly marked by all the most 
characteristic features of Catholic Christianity. From the conversion 
of the country by St. Patrick, the Irish Christians were devoted to 
monastic discipline. They practiced celibacy, made long fasts, rose at 
night for prayer, lay on penitential beds of stone, and, in fact, habitually 
exercised all those austerities which Catholic ascetic writers have in all 
ages commended. They adored the Holy Eucharist, which they called 
the Body of Christ ; they believed in the gift of miracles remaining in 
the church, and, indeed in the very frequent recurrence of miraculous 
intervention ; they invoked the intercession of the saints, and venerated 
their relics ; they prayed for the dead ; instituted festivals in honor of 
the saints, and offered up the Mass on those festivals , they made very 
frequent use of the sign of the cross, and erected numerous public 
crosses ; finally, they acknowledged Rome, as St. Columbanus wrote, to 
be " the head of all churches ;" and as St. Cummian wrote, they looked 
to Rome " as children to their mother." In a word, they showed them- 
selves to be identical in faith with all the other members of the western 
church, during the same ages.* 

The difference about the computation of Easter, which caused so much 
controversy in Ireland and Britain for a century and a-half, has been 
fully explained in the preceding chapter. Besides this, there was a 
pecuharity in the form of the Irish tonsure. Thus, while the Greek 
monks shaved the whole head, and the Roman monks only the crown, 

signifying the possessor of the same land or patrimony. Dr. O'Donovan explains the term Airch- 
inneach (Erenach) as signifying the hereditary Warden of a church (Four Masters, an. 601, note). 
The tenants of church lands were called Termoners. 

* For evidence on all these points, we need only refer to Adamnan's Life of St Columba, which 
high Protestant authority has pronounced to be " perhaps the most valuable monument of that 
institution (the Irish chuicb) that has escaped the ravages of time" (Reeves), and " the most com- 
plete piece of such biography that all Europe can boast of, not only at so early a period, but even 
through the whole middle ages" (Pinkerton). Also to various other lives of Irish saints, which 
the learned Ussher and others have shown to belong to the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries ; to 
the portions of the Liber Hymnorum edited by the Rev. Dr. Todd ; to the Antiphonarium Ben- 
chorense, a monument of tlie seventh century; to ancient monumental inscriptions; to various 
passages of the Brehon Laws, and other authorities yet unpublished ; and indeed, to all that is most 
venerable in the written and monumental antiquities of Ireland, to which the scope and limits of 
this work will only allow us to make this general reference. 


leaving a circle of hair all round, the Irish monks and clerics shaved or 
clipped the front part of the head from ear to ear. One mode of shaving 
the head appears quite as harmless as the others, but the subject was, 
nevertheless, made one of warm debate at the synod of ^Vliitby, by St 
Wilfrid, and other Saxon converts, who strenously advocated the Roman 
custom, and the Irish monks ultimately abandoned their own method. 
From such disputes as these, and from any peculiarities of the Irish lit- 
urgy, which were only such as have been tolerated in various ancient 
Catholic liturgies, nothing can be more absurd than to argue that the 
primitive chui'ch of Ireland was not united in faith with the other 
churches in the communion of the see of Rome. 

Hewn timber, wattles, and earth were, as we have seen, the ordinary 
building materials used for the dwellings of the ancient Irish ; and we 
have the authority of Venerable Bede, and of some of the oldest lives 
of Irish saints for the fact that these materials were also employed in the 
construction of their churches and oratories in the seventh, eighth, and 
ninth centuries. We are told by St. Bernard that such continued to be 
the case, even in the time of St. Malachy, in the twelfth century^ ; but 
there is also evidence enough to show that churches were frequently built 
in Ireland of stone and cement, even from the time of St. Patrick. As 
characteristic examples of the oldest style of our ecclesiastical architecture 
still in good preservation, Dr. Petrie, in his learned work on that subject, 
instances the monastic establishment of St. Molaise, on Inishmurray (Inis 
Muireadhaigh), in the bay of Sligo, erected in the sixth century; that 
of St. Brendan, on Inishglory, off the coast of Erris, in Mayo, of the 
beginning of the same century; and that of St. Fechin, on High Island, 
off the coast of Connemara, erected in the seventh century ; and to these 
he elsewhere adds, as remains of the sixth century, some of the oratories 
and cells of the Isles of Aran, in Gal way Bay. In all these examples 
we find that mortar was only used in the churches ; the houses or cells of 
the abbots and monks being invariably built of dry stone, without any 
kind of cement, and in that style of masonry which antiquaries call cy- 
clopean, or Pelasgic, like the primitive stone houses and military struc- 
tures of the Firbolgs, which we have already noticed. The cells were 
generally circular or oval, with dome-shaped roofs, constructed, not on 
the principle of the arch, but by the gradual overlapping of the stones; 
and the cluster of cells, Avith their oratory, were surrounded by a thick 
wall of the same rude cyclopean masonry.* 

* Tlie stone churches were called damliags, from dotn or domnacli, a church, and lic.g a stone. 
Thu«, from the damliag of St. Kianan, Avho Avas consecrated bishop by St. Patrick, and who died 


At various periods between the sixth and twelfth centuries (some of 
them still later, but the greater number, perhaps, in the ninth and tenth 
centuries), were erected those singular buildings, the round towers, 
which have been so enveloped in mystery by the arguments and conjec- 
tures of modern antiquaries. It is only in recent times that people 
have thought of ascribing to these towers any other than a Christian 
and ecclesiastical origin; but of late years a variety of theories have 
been started about them, and they have been alternately made fire- 
temples and shrines of other kinds of pagan worship ; anchorite's cells, 
or places for penitential seclusion, and beacons. The real uses of 
the Irish round towers, both as belfries and as ecclesiastical keeps or 
castles, have been satisfactorily established by Dr. Petrie, in his important 
and erudite work on the ecclesiastical architecture of Ireland. For this 
twofold pui'pose they were admirably adapted. In a woody country 
such as Ireland was in remote times, they may also have been useful as 
beacons, and may, moreover, have served as watch-towers. In fine, the 
wants and tastes of the country led to the adoption of a peculiar style 
in their structure, as we find to have been the case in most old Christian 
countries, where some local singularity in the design and structure of 
church towers is sure to attract the traveller's attention, although it 
might be now difficult to determine what circumstances led to the 
local adoption of each peculiarity. The style of our ancient round 
towers seems to have been peculiar to the Irish or Scottish race. These 
buildings were well contrived to supply the clergy with a place of 
safety for themselves, the sacred vessels, and other objects of value, 
duiing the incursions of the Danes, and other foes; and the upper 
stories, in which there were four windows, were perfectly well adapted 
for the ringing of the largest bells then used in Ireland. We must refer 
to Dr. Petrie's work for an exposition of the principal theories that have 
been started about these round towers ; and for the arguments in sup- 
port of the true explanation of then' use ; but this much may be added 
here, namely that the closest study of Irish antiquities leaves no doubt 
whatever that the principle of the arch, and the use of lime cement — 
both of which are to be found in the round towers — cannot be traced 
in any Irish remains which either historical evidence or popular tradition 
ascribes to a period anterior tc the introduction of Christianity.* 

in the year 490, Duleek, in Meath, has derived its name. The oratories, or snialler churches, were 
called duirar/is (duirthcochs), a name which, as some think, implies that they were constructed of 
oak, although many of them also were built of stone and mortar. 

* Goban Saer, to whom traditition points as tlie architect of some ot the Round Towers, 
flourished early in the seventh century, and was the son of Turvi, from whom lYaigh Tuirbi, on the 


Those sacred remains called by the Irish peasantry " saints' beds," 
may have been, in some instances, the penitential stone beds used by the 
ancient ascetics ; while others of them were, no doubt, the graves of the 
holy persons after w^hom they have been called. Some of these places, 
now frequented by the peasantry for the purposes of prayer, were un- 
questionably the penitential stations of the ancient monasteries, or Avere 
at some time resorted to by the Irish saints for prayer, fasting, and 
mortification. Such places were the Skellig Mihil, on the coast of 
Kerry; Cruach Patrick, in Mayo ; and the island of St. Patrick's Pur- 
gatory, in Lough Dearg ; and many spots for which veneration has thus 
been preserved by the popular traditions, such as these saints' beds and 
holy wells, were consecrated in distant ages by some relations with the 
blessed servants of God. It is not necessary here to consider the ques- 
tion whether or not they merit our respect as memorials of the primitive 
saints of Ireland, and whether it be better to regulate the popular devo- 
tion which they inspire, rather than condemn them as objects of super- 

north coast of Dublin, takes its name. Of what race Turvi was is not known, but he is sup- 
posed 'o have been descended from the Tuatha de Dananns, who are said to have left Tara with 
Lewy of the Long Hand, a.m. 2764, according to the chronology of the Ogj'gia. He was, at all 
events, not of Milesian descent. The round towers built by Goban, were, according to tradition, 
those of Kilmacduach, Killala, and Antrim. See Petrie's Kound Towers, p. 385, &c., second 
edition, in which the Dinnsenchus is quoted on the subject. Adamnan's Life of St. Columba 
mentions, according to the general acceptation of the word, the erection of a round tower (monas- 
erii /otundi) in the sixth century ; and passages are quoted by Dr. Petrie (pp. 390, &c.) from the 
Iriili annals, shewing the erection of round towers in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries* 


Character of Irish History in the Seventh and Eighth Centuries — Piety of some 
Irish Kings. — Eenewed "Wars for the Leinster Tribute. — The Poet Eumann. — 
Foundation of Tallaght. — St. Aengus the Culdee. — St. Colgu and Alcuin. — 
An Early Irish Prayer-book. — Signs and Prodigies. — The Lavchomart. — First 
Appearance of the Danish Pirates. — Their Character. — Their Barbarism and 
Inhumanity. — Heroic Resistance of the Irish. — Turgesius. — Domestic Wars. — 
Felim, King of Cashel. — Malachy I. — Danish Settlements in "Waterford and 
Limerick. — Irish Allies of the Danes. — Cormac MacCuilenan. — NiaU Glun- 
dubh. — Muirkertach and Callaghan Caishil. 


A.D. 800, Charlemagne crowned emperor of the West. — 827, Dissolution of the Saxon heptarchy; 
Egbert sole king of England. — 872-900, Alfred the Great ; Danish invasions of England. — 
850, Final subjugation of the Plots by Kenneth, king of the Scots of Albany — 921, The Moors 
victorious in Spain. — 932, KoUo, the Norman, founds the Duchy of Normandy. — 987, Hugh 
Capet, king of France. — 995, the Danegelt, or lanJ-tax, paid in England to the Danes. 

The Eighth, Ninth, and first half of the Tenth Centuries. 


ESUjVIING tlie thread of oui' ci\dl history, we may glide 
rapidly over the events which intervene between the 
commencement of the seventh century and the epoch of 
the Danish invasions — the next era of great importance 
in our annals. Dm'ing that interval, comprising a couple 
of centui'ies, the facts recorded are sufficiently numerous, 
but the details are meagre, and rarely afford a clue to 
the motives of the actors, or to the causes or conse- 
quences of events. The obituaries of ecclesiastics, emi- 
nent for learning or holiness, and for their exalted position 
in the church, occupy a leadmg place in the chronicles 
of the times. .The demise of kings, chieftains, and 
tanists, is also set down with fidelity ; dearths, epidemics, 
and portentous phenomena, are duly recorded ; and these, 
with the brief mention of battles, which would indicate an almost per- 


petual warfare between the several provinces, and between different 
districts of the same province, make up the staple of the venerable 
annals of the period* With all their hereditary feuds there was still 
mixed up a spirit of primitive chivalry. As a general rule human life 
was safe except in the field of battle ; and their pitched battles were 
usually pre-arranged, sometimes for a year or more, both as to time and 
place ; so that both parties had an opportunity to collect their forces, 
and the conflict which ensued was a fail* trial of strength. Several 
L'ish kings, at this period, were remarkable for piety, and not a few of 
them ended their days in religious houses ; and the same pages which 
record the carnage of battle, often shew that distinguished saints were 
then dwelling in our monasteries and anchorites' cells. With such 
living examples in the midst of them, the people cannot have been des- 
titute of piety and morality ; and in the picture which that rude age 
presents we find a beautiful illustration of the way in which religion 
stood between society and barbarism, as it did at that time throughout 
Europe in general. 

The pious generosity of Finachta, in relinquishing his claim to the 
Leinster tribute, at the prayer of St. Moling (about 687) was of little 
avail, as most of his successors waged war to renew it. The monarch 
Congal, of the race of Conal Gulban, scourged Leinster Mith his armies, 
either for this purpose, or, as some say, to avenge the death of his 
grandfather, Hugh, son of Ainmire, who was slain in the battle of 
Dunbolg. Congal died suddenly, in the year 708 ; and by his successor, 
Fergal, of the Cinel-Eoghain branch of the Hy-Nialls, Leinster was " five 
times wasted and preyed in one year." Li one of these inroads (a.d. 
772) a great battle was fought at the celebrated hill of Allen, in the 
county of Kildare, when Fergal and the chiefs of Leath Cuinn 
brought 21,000 men into the field, and the Leinstermen could only 
muster 9,000. The latter however, made up by their bravery for the 
disproportion of their numbers, and the slaughter which followed was 
terrific, the total amount of slain on both sides being seven thousand 

* As to this frequent recurrence of petty wars we must recollect that other countries pi'eser.t 
siujlar blood-stained annals in the same ages. The wars of the Saxon lieptarchy were as numer- 
ous as the cotemporary ones of the Irish pentarchy. Writing of Northumbria in the eighth centurj-, 
Lingard saj's that " it exhibited successive instances of treachery and murder, to which no 
other country, perhaps, can furnish a parallel." Its kings were engaged in perpetual strife ; and 
Charlemagne pronounced them to be "a perfidious and perverse race, worse than pagans." The 
I'^nglish Saxons seem to have fallen at this epoch into a state of utter demoralization ; so much so 
that their own historians affirm that the crimes of both princes and people had drawn down upon 
them the merited scourge of the Danish wars. See the testimonies of lienry of Huntingdon, and 
others, to this effect collected by Mr. MacCabe, in his Catholic History of England, vol. ii., chap, 1. 


men, among whom was Fergal, king of Ireland. The annalists attribute 
the defeat of the northerns to the denunciations of a hermit who up- 
braided the king with violatmg the soleum engagements of his prede- 
cessor, Finachta, by endeavouring to re-impose the Borumean tribute. 

In a battle fought in 730, between the men of Leinster and Mun- 
ster, 3,000 of the latter were slain; and immediately after another 
invasion of Leinster by Hugh Allen, king of Ireland, and the Hy-Nialls 
of the north, took place, when, in a battle fought at a place now called 
Ballp'onan, in the county of Kildare, the monarch and Hugh, son of 
Colgan, king of Leinster, met in single combat. The latter was slain, 
and the Leinster army almost wholly exterminated. It is added that 
the people of the north rejoiced in thus wreaking theu* vengeance on 
the Leinstermen, nine thousand of whom fell in the carnage of that day.* 

While recording these battles, the annals tell us that Beg Boirche, 
king of Ulidia (a.d. 704), " took a pilgrim's staff, and died on his pil- 
grimage;" that Flahertach, king of Ireland, having retired from the 
sovereignty in 729, embraced a monastic life, and died at Armagh in 
760 ; that Donal, son of Mm-chad, after a reign of twenty years as king 
of Ireland, died on a pilgrimage in lona, in 758t (763) ; and that his 
successor, Niall Frassagh, retired from the throne in 765 (770), and 
became a monk at lona, where he died in 778, and was buried in the 
tomb of the Irish kings in that island. Two or three of the next suc- 
ceeding monarchs are also mentioned as remarkable for their repentance 
and religious preparation for death.t 

In the year 742 (747) died Rumann, son of Colman, whom the 
annalists describe as an " adept in wisdom, chronology, and poetiy," and 
who, in the Book of Ballymote, is called the " Virgil of Ireland." We 
mention him on account of a remarkable fact, namely, that he composed 
a poem for the galls, or foreigners, of Dublin, (Ath Cliach), and, by a 
ruse, contrived to get w^ell paid for it in pinginns, or pennies ; whence 
we may conclude that, as the Danes had not yet visited Ireland, the 
foreigners in question were Saxons, of whom great numbers were 
then in this country.§ It is added, in the account of Rumann, that a 

* Four JIasteis, a.d. 733. The date of this battle, in the Annals of Ulster, is 737. 

t The events about this period are all ante-dated four or five years by the Four Jlasters . tho 
dales given by Tighernach being proved to be correct. 

+ Cambrensis Eversus, cap. is. 

§ Sec some account of Rumann, quoted in Petrie's Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland, rp- 
353 &c. The Galls having first refused any remuneration for the poem, Eunianu said he would 
C7i.^(ict ivio pinginm from every good man, and would be content with one from each bad one. 
The result was, that all of them sought to be placed in the former category. 


British king named Constantine, who had become a monk, was at that 
time abbot of Rahen, in the King's county; and that at Cell-Belaigh, 
which appears to have been in the same neighbourhood, there were 
" seven streets" of these foreigners. We know that, at the same period, 
Gidlen, in the King's county, was called "Galin of the Britons," as 
Mayo was " Mayo of the Saxons," on account of the monasteries of 
those nations founded there. 

The monastery of Tamlacht, or Tallaght, near Dublin, was founded 
in the year 769, by St. Maehniaia; and in the lifetime of the founder, 
St. Aengus the Culdee, the famous Irish hagiologist, flourished there. 
St. Colgu, sumamed the wise, lector of Clonmacnoise, and who appears 
to have been the tutor of many eminent Ii'ish and foreign scholai's, died 
about the year 791. By him was written the first prayer-book which we 
find mentioned in the Irish annals. It was called the " Besom of Devo- 
tion" (Scuaip-chrabhaidh), and Colgan said he had a copy of it, which 
he describes as a collection of very ardent prayers in the shape of litanies, 
and as a work breathing fervent piety and elevation of the soul to God.* 
Up to the close of this century we find the great abbey of Peronne, ui 
France, founded about two centuries before by St. Fursey, stdl suppUed 
with abbots from Ireland, and the city itself called, in the Ii'ish Annals, 
Cahir-Forsa, or Fursey's city. 

Portentous signs and prodigies are frequently mentioned in the Irish 
annals at this period, such as showers of blood, and the darkening of 
the sun or moon, or the moon appearing as blood. In the reign of Niall 
Frassach there happened a di'eadful famine ; the monarch humbled him- 
self, and in answer to his prayers there fell showers of silver, honey, and 
wheat. Hence his surname of Frassach, signifying " of the showers." 
M'Curtin, who wrote about a centiu-y ago, says that in his time some of 
the coin made of the celestial silver was still preserved. As we approach 
the coming of the Danes the portents become more frequent and alai'm- 
ing. EcHpses of the sun and moon, pillars of fire in the sky, di'agons 
seen in the air, and fleets of ships sailing through the clouds, filled the 
people with gloomy forebodings. In the year 767, and again in 799, 
occurred certain terrible fits of panic fear, which are called in the an- 
nals Lavchomart, or the " clapping of hands," " so called," say the Four 
Masters, " because terrific and horrible signs appeared at the time, which 
were like unto the signs of the Day of Judgment, namely, great thunder 

* Acta SS. Hib. p. 379, n. 9, Alcuin calls St Coign "master," and addresses liim vfith. great 
offsction and veneration in a letter wliich is printed in Ussher's Sjlloge. 


and lightning, so that it was insufferable to all to hear the one and see 
the other. Fear and horror seized the men of Ireland, so that their re- 
ligious seniors ordered them to make tAvo fasts, together with fervent 
prayer, and one meal between them, to protect and save them from a 
pestilence precisely at Michaelmas. Hence came the Lamhchomari, 
which was called the fire from heaven."* 

The first descent of the Danish pkates on the coast of Ireland is men- 
tioned thus by the Four Masters mider the year 790: " The burning 
of Reachrannf by the Gentiles, and its shrines broken and plundered." 
England had been visited by them a few years earlier, and they did not 
again appear on the Irish coast until 793, when another party of them 
plundered and bm'iied the church of St. Patrick's Island, near Skenies, 
on the Dublin coast, and carried off the shrine of St. Dochanna, commit- 
ing other depredations on the sea-board of Ii'eland and Scotland. Hence- 
forward their visits were repeated at shorter intervals, but for many 
years they came in small detached parties, apparently not acting in con- 
cert, but for the sole purpose of plunder, and without any view to a 
permanent settlement. 

The people, popularly known in our history as Danes, comprised 
swarms from various countries in the north of Em'ope, from Norway, 
Sweden, Zealand, Jutland, and, in general, from all the shores and islands 
of the Baltic, who, compelled by their inhospitable soil to depend chiefly 
on the sea for a livelihood, devoted themselves, from an early period, to 
the adventurous and half-savage life of pirates or sea-rovers. In the 
Irish annals they are variously called Galls, or foreigners ; Geinti, or 
Gentiles ; and Lochlanni, or inhabitants of Lochlann, or Lake-land, that 
is, Norway ; and they are distinguished as the Finn Galls, or White 
Foreigners, who are supposed to have been the inhabitants of Norway; 
and the Dubh Galls, or Black Foreigners, who were probably the people 
of Jutland, and of the southern shores of the Baltic Sea. A large tract 
of country, north of Dublin, still retains the name of the fonner. By 
English writers they have been called Ostmen and Vikings, and are 
known by the generic terms of Northmen or Scandinavians. They are 
scarcely heard of in history until about the time their cruel depredations 

• The annals mention a terrific storm with thunder and lightning, which occurred on the eve of 
St. Patrick'* ay, a.d. 799 ; and by which a thousand and ten persons were killed on the coast of 
Corcabaisciu, in Clare; and the island of Fitha (believed to be Inis-caerach, or Mutton island, oppo- 
site Kilmurry-Ibrickan, on that coast) was partly submerged and divided into three islanda. 

t The island of Rathlin, on the coast of Antrim, and that of Lambay, in the bay of Dublin, were 
both anciently called Eechreinn, or Reachrann. The latter is the one here referred to. The date 
of the event, according to the Annals of Ulster, is 793 : according to Tighemacb. 794 ; and 
accurding to OTlaherty's calculation, 795. 


were first inflicted on southern nations, and long after that period they 
continued utterly illiterate, and seemed quite impervious to the light of 
Christianity. Their bold, adventurous, and ruthless spirit in the pursuit 
of pillage ; the command of the ocean which their habits and numbers 
gave them ; the combination in which they soon learned to act in their 
plundering excursions ; the fierce barbarity with which they treated their 
victims; and, above all, the disunited and feeble state in which they 
found those countries upon which they preyed, gave them formidable 
advantages. Thus, for upwards of two centuries were they a scourge 
of the most fearful kind to Britain and Ireland, and to some of the 
maritime countries of southern Europe. They were characterised by 
unparalleled daring, perseverance, and inhumanity. They seemed to 
have no tie of common humanity with those who fell into their power. 
With them there was no mercy for captives. At least such is the character 
which they receive from cotemporary Saxon and French historians, for 
the L'ish writers do not depict the atrocities of the Danes in the same 
colours, although the vivid traditions preserved even to the present day 
in Ireland shew that their cruelties must have been appalling.* 

But the plunder and desecration of churches and monasteries, and the 
slaughter of ecclesiastics, were the favorite exploits of these fierce 
pagans. Their descent upon any point was sure to be signalized by this 
sacrilegious rapine. lona, or I-Columbkill, was laid waste by them in 797, 
and again in 801, when sixty-eight of its clergy and laity w^ere mas- 
sacred ; the monastery of Inishmurray, off the coast of Sligo, was sacked 
and burned by them in 802, when they also penetrated into Roscom- 
mon ; and in succeeding years, as these incursions became more frequent, 
all the religious houses of Ireland were subjected in their turn to the 
same process of devastation, and sometimes repeatedly within the same 
year. Armagh, with its cathedral and monasteries, w^as plundered by 
the Danes four times in one month ; ;ind in Bangor, 900 monks, with 
their abbot, w^ere massacred by them in one day. " As few things of 
any value," observes a late writer, " could have survived such conflagra- 

* According to English writers, the butchery of children was a common practice with the 
Northmen in their first descents; their soldiers made a sport of flinging infants from the point of 
one spear to another, so as to show their dexterity in catching the writhing bodies in mid air; 
and one of the Viiiing chiefs, described as a " brave pirate," received a nickname for his humanity 
in opposing this revolting pastime. See the authorities on these and many other atrocities of the 
Danes quoted in Sharon Turner's History of the Anglo-Saxons, vol. i. ; and in MacCabe's Catholic 
History of England, vol. ii., in which latter work the reader will find some just animadversions on 
Laing's " Ciironicle of the Kings of Norway," in which Mr. Laing seems to like the nortliern 
pirates all the better for their paganism and fierceness, and atti-ibutes the easy conquest by them 
of the English Saxons to the effect upon the latter of " Komish superstition and church influence." 


tions ; the mere -wantonness of barbarity alone could have tempted them 
so often to repeat the outrage. The devoted courage, however, of those 
crowds of martyrs who still returned undismayed to the same spot, 
choosing rather to encounter sufferings and death than leave the holy 
place untenanted, presents one of those affecting pictures of quiet 
heroism with which the history of the Christian church abounds."* 

Dismayed, at fu'st, and confounded by the assaults of the fierce and 
merciless invaders, who appeared at the same moment at several points, 
and the time and place of whose return could never be calculated, it was 
some time before the Irish made any regular stand against them. They 
soon, however, rallied from their panic, and discovered that their myste- 
rious foes were as vulnerable as other men. When parties of the Danes 
landed unexpectedly, and were engaged in their work of pillage, a force 
was generally mustered in the neighbourhood to resist them, and in in- 
numerable instances the marauders were successfully attacked and driven 
back with slaughter to their ships. But these partial defeats had no effect 
on the desperate energies of the Northmen, who always returned in 
greater numbers the following year ; and who, from their command of 
the sea, had then' choice on all occasions of a landing-place, running up 
by the rivers into the heart of the country, and constructing fleets of 
small craft on the lakes in the interior, whence they were able, at any 
moment, to devastate the surrounding country. 

The annals tell us that the foreigners were slaughtered by the men 
of Umhall in Mayo, in 812 ; by Covach, lord of Loch-Lein (Killarney), 
in the same year ; by the king of Ulidia, and by Carbry, lord of Hy- 
Kinsella (south Leinster), in 827; by the men of Hy-Figeinte, in the 
west of Limerick, in 834, &c., but these and many similar defeats were 
of no avail, other parties of the adventurers being at the very same 
moment victorious at several points.f After some twenty or thirty years 
had been consumed in these desultory attacks, the Danes determined on 
a more extensive scheme of invasion, and, combining their forces under 
one commander, fitted out large fleets for the purpose ; but unfortunately, 

* Moore's History of Ireland, vol. ii., p. 30. The appearance of some mysterious preacher is 
thus referred to in the Irish Annals under the year 806 (811):— "In this year the Ceilo-Dei 
(culdee) came over the sea with dry feet, without a vessel; and a written roll was given him from 
heaven, out of which he preached to the Irish, and it was carried up again when the sermon was 
finished. This ecclesiastic used to go every day southwards across the sea, after finishing his 

t Eginhart, the historian of Charlemagne, clearly refers to the defeat of the X'.rsemen in JIayo, 
in 812, in the following passage :—" Classis Nordmannorum Hibcrniam, Scotorum insulaiu, ag- 
gressa, commisso pra^lio cum Scotis, parte non modica Nordmannorum iuterfecta, turpiter fugieudo 
Uomum reversa est." 


while the enemy were thus carrying out their plans for the subjugation 
of Ireland, the Irish princes and chieftains were wastnig the energies of 
the country in wars among themselves, so that no combined efibrt 
against the common foe was ever even thought of. 

Hugh (Aedh) surnamed Oirdnigh, or the legislator, son of Niall Fras- 
eagh, of the n-^rthern Hy-Niall race, became monarch of Ireland in 793, 
and commenced his reign by desolating the province of Meath, then 
turnincj his arms against Leinster, which he devastated twice in one 
month. "^Vlien summoned to one of these sanguinary forays, the arch- 
bishop of Armagh and his clergy protested against the monstrous impro- 
priety of the ministers of peace being obliged to attend their war-hostings. 
Such had hitherto been the custom ; but Hugh now consented to leave 
the quesLiun to the decision of a holy and wise man, called, from his know- 
ledge of canon law, Fohy (Fothah) of the Canons ; and the latter imme- 
diately prej)ared a statement, or essay, on the subject, the result being that 
ecclesiastics were henceforth exempted from the duties of war in Ireland. 

A.D. 817. — Hugh Ou'dnigh, after a reign of twenty-five years, was 
succeeded by Conor, who reigned fom'teen years, during which period 
the Danish power was placed on a firm footing in many parts of Ireland, 
under a chief known in these countries as Tuirges, or Turgesius, but 
who cannot be traced by that name in any Scandinavian chronicles. He 
came to Ireland in 815, and fortified himself at Rinnduin, on the west 
side of Lough Ree, an expansion of the Shannon in Roscommon. All 
this time Ireland was laid waste as much by domestic wars as by the 
exactions, pillage, and burnings of the Northmen. While the latter were 
engaged in plundering Louth and some other districts, the men of Mun- 
ster were at the work of plunder in Bregia, and Conor, the king of 
Ireland, instead of defending any of these territories, was himself busy 
plundering Leinster to the banks of the river LifFey. 

A.D. 831. — Niall Caille, son of Hugh Oirchiigh, on assuming the now 
almost nominal sovereignty of Ireland, led an army against the Danes, 
whom he defeated at Derry, but his efforts were soon paralysed. While 
the country was a scene of devastation from north to south — her people 
prostrate and hemmed in by foreign foes who extracted the marrow of 
the land — Felim (Feidhlimidh), kmg of Cashel, of the race of the Eogh- 
anachts of south Munstcr, thought it a favorable opportunity to assert 
his own right to a shave in the spoils. This selfish prince accordingly 
mustered an army and marched into Leinster to levy tribute, reviving 
the ancient claim of ii^oghan Mor, The country must have been 
already little better than a wilderness, yet he found some work left for 


fire and sword ; and went on in bis career of plunder through the length 
of Ireland, till he reposed for a year in the primatial city of Armagh, 
ha-vang previously taken hostages from the unhappy monarch, Niall, and 
from the king of Connaught. The annals of Innisfallen boast, on this 
account, that he was king of all Ireland. He also stopped at Tara ; and 
on his return to the south, plundered and laid waste the termon lands of 
Clonmacnoise, " up to the church door ;" but he only survived this sacri- 
lege one year, and died in 845, on his return to Munster. It does not 
appear from any ancient authority that this man's parricidal arms were 
ever once turned against the Danes. 

A.D. 843. — At this gloomy period appeared Meloughlin (Maelseach- 
lainn) or Malachy, king of Meath and monarch of Ireland, whose bravery 
and ability materially helped to save his country. His first exploit while 
yet only king of Meath was to get the tyrant Turgesius into his power, 
and make him pay the penalty of his atrocities by drowning him in 
Lough Owel, in Westmeath.* This success was the signal for a general 
onslaught upon the foreigners in every part of Ireland. The people rose 
simultaneously, and either massacred them in their towns, or defeated 
them in the field ; so that with the excej)tion of some fcAv stronoholds, 
like that of Dulilin, (which they had seized in 836), the land of Ireland 
was freed from the Northmen. Wherever they could escape they son ght 
refuge in their ships, but only to return in more numerous swarms than 

A.D. 846. — Meloughlin being now monarch of Ireland, defeated the 
Danes at I arragh, near Skreen, in Meath, slaying 700 of them ; while, in 
the same year, Olchovar, the successor of Felim in Munster, aided by 
the Leinstermen, inflicted another defeat, and a loss of 1,200 men on the 
Danes in Kildare. The foreigners suffered some further losses in that 
year, although they had at this time got some traitorous Irishmen into 
their ranks; and the following year, MeloughHn, assisted by Tigher- 
nach, lord of Lough Gower (near Dunshaughlin), plundered the Danes 
in their stronghold of Dublin. 

A.D. 849. — Two contending parties now appeared among the Danes 
themselves. The Dubh Galls, or " Black Gentiles," made a descent 
upon Ii'eland Avith a fleet of seven score ships, and assailed the Finngalls 
at different points, making an immense slaughter of them, and sacking 

* Tliere is a romantic story told of the manner in which Mdoughlin got Turgesius into his power. 
It is said that he pretended to give hLs daughter to the pirate chief, but sent with her ijfteen younjj 
men disguised in female attire, who seized the tjTant and slew his attendants. This tale, however, 
only rests on the authority of Giraldiis Cambrensis, and is rejected by Fri^li historians. 


their fortresses, so tliat the power of the white foreigners was quite 
crushed, until a reinforcement arrived to them in a fleet of one hundred 
and sixty sail (a.d. 850), when the conflict was renewed. The battle 
which ensued between them lasted three days and as many nights ; and 
victory at length deciding in favor of the Black Galls, their opponents 
abandoned their shipping and fled inland. Next year, however (851), 
we find that all the foreigners in Ireland submitted to one chieftain, 
AmlafF, son of the king of Lochlann, or Norway, and that the 
Danish power was thus once more consolidated. Amlaff'lived in DubHn, 
and his brothers Sitric and Ivar fixed themselves, the former in Water- 
ford, and the latter in Limerick; wliich towns, previously places of 
some note, were soon raised to considerable importance as Danish 
stations and commercial depots. An oppressive tax was now levied on 
the country by the Danes, in lieu of their previous system of predatory 
exactions, which, nevertheless, was not yet wholly abandoned. 

Notwithstanding this tyranny and rapine on the one side, and in- 
domitable resistance on the other, some symptoms of amalgamation 
between the Norsefiien and natives are now visible, so that we begin to 
hear of the Dano-Irish, who partly adopted the Irish customs, and even 
the Irish language. During the remaining hundred and sixty years 
that the Northmen continued in Ireland on a hostile footing, we find 
them constantly in alliance with some recreant Irish chieftains, who 
aided them in their wars both in Ireland and England, and availed 
themselves in their turn of their help to avenge private quarrels.* The 
strangers, however, still continued inveterate heathens, and several 
persons who were put to death by them about this time are styled 
martyrs by the Irish annalists, intimating that they were slain for the 
sake of the Christian religion. 

A.D. 857. — A great meeting of the chieftains of Ireland, with the 
archbishop of Armagh and other distinguished ecclesiastics, was col- 
lected this year by Meloughlin, at Rathugh, in Westmeath, "to establish 
peace and concord among the men of Ireland." Two chiefs who had 
been in temporary league with the Danes tendered their allegiance to 
the king on the occasion; namely, Kervall, or Carroll, lord of Ossory, 
and Maelgualai, king of Munster, the latter of whom Avas soon after 

" In one of the earliest of the alliances allutlcd to above, Kinna (Cineadh), lord of Cianachta 
Breagh, in the east of Meath, rebelled, with a Gentile force at his back, against Melouglilin, and 
in the course of his depredations burned the oratory of Trevet (Treoit), with two hundred and 
sixty persons who had sought refuge in it ; but, in the following year he was captured by tho 
monarch, and drowned in the river Nanny (Aiiige), whicb flows through his own district. 

THE DANISH WAliy. 127 

stoned to death by the Danes. The first result of this meeting -was a 
movement agamst the Hy-Nialls of the north, in which the monarch 
was aided by the other four provinces ; and Hugh Finnhath, chief of 
the northern Hy-Nialls entered, in consequence, into an alliance Avith 
AmlafF, the Danish king of Dublin, and with his aid overran the 
territory of i\Ieath. Three years later (860) the brave and magnani- 
mous Meloughlin died, after a reign of sixteen years. 

In the reign of this king the Irish historians mention an embassy 
from the king of Ireland to the emperor Charles the Bald, to inform 
him of the victories gained over the northern pirates, and to ask per- 
mission for the Irish monarch to pass through France on an intended 
pilgrimage to Rome. The name of Ireland was long before this time 
familiar in France ; and it would even appear, from the statement of 
Eginhart, the secretary and historian of Charlemagne, that the Irish 
kings had acknowledged that great monarch as their feudal lord.* 

Hugh Finnliath succeeded Meloughlin, and although we saw him 
just now an ally of the Danes, it was only a temjDorary necessity that 
made him such, for no sooner had he established his authority by 
exacting submission and hostages from the chiefs of the several 
territories, than he directed his arms vigorously against the invaders, on 
whom he inflicted several discomfitures. The fh'st of these was in 864, 
at Lough Foyle, where, after a sanguinary battle, the heads of twelve 
score Danes were piled in a heap before him ; and again, two years after, 
he gained a decisive victory, with a band of one thousand men, over five 
thousand Danes and rebel Irish, at Cill-ua-nDaighre.t This battle 
and other exploits of Hugh Finnliath, were favorite themes of the bards ; 
and some beautiful Irish verses, quoted by the Four Masters in recording 
his death in the year 876, show with what feelings of enthusiasm this 
chivalrous Irish prince was regarded by his cotemporaries. He was 
married to the daughter of the celebrated Kenneth Mac Alpine, who con- 
quered the Picts, and who became fu'st sole king of Scotland, about the 
year 850 ; and after Hugh's death that lady married his successor, 
Flann, surnamed Sinna, or of the Shannon, the son of Meloughlin, and 
chief of the southern Hy-Nialls.t 

* Abbe MacGeoghegan, History of Ireland, p. 212.— The alliance between France and Ireland Is 
said to Lave continued up to tlu English invasion, but Scottish writers, as in so many other 
instances, erroneously appropriate to their own country this incident of Irish history. 

t Probably Kilailerry, in the county of Dublin. — O'Donovan. 

X In the reign of Hugh (8G1), the Danes bethought themselves of opening the vast sepulchral 
mounds of the Tuatha de Dananns, along the Boyne, in search of plunder. The cares under the 
great tumuli of New Grange, Knowth, Dowtb, and Droghcda, were thus examined by them, wo 


The monotonous tale of wars in which the several provinces are 
wasted and plundered by the Irish themselves, or by the Danes, or by 
Danes and Irish acting in concert, is varied during the long reign of 
Flann Sinna by two or three episodes, one of which, relating to the brief 
and eventful career of Cormac Mac Cuilennan, king and archbishop of 
Cashel, is worthy of particular mention* 

A.D. 896. — From a life of peace, devoted to the advancement of 
religion and the cultivation of literature, this holy prelate was taken, in 
one of the sudden political changes of the times, and compelled to 
ascend the throne of Munster, as chief of the Desmond sept of the 
Eoghanachts. To his horror the good prelate found himself all at once 
involved inextricably in war. The territory of his friend, Lorcan, king 
of Thomond, was threatened with invasion by the king of Connaught, 
and repeated inroads were made about the same time into his ovm 
territories, as far as Limerick, by Flann, the monarch, who was in league 
with the men of Leinster. To make matters worse, his chief adviser or 
minister, Flahertach, abbot of Inniscathy, who was also of the royal 
family of south Munster, was a man, according to all accounts, of a 
violent and obstinate temper, and of a disposition better suited to the 
field of battle than to the cloister. Impelled by the advice of this hot- 
headed counsellor, and by the circumstances in which he was placed, 
Cormac made two campaigns against the combined forces of Connaught, 
Leinster, and Meath, in both of which he was victorious. In the first the 
engagement took place on the old battle-ground of Moy Lena, in the 
King's county, and in the second, Cormac's army marched as far as Ros- 
common, and was supported by a fleet of small vessels on the Shannon. 
These wars seemed so far just and inevitable ; but they were followed 
by one of a more questionable kind. According to some, this latter war 
was undertaken at the instigation of Flahertach, and the chiefs of Mun- 
ster, to enforce the tribute imposed on Leinster, as part of Leath Mogha 
in the days of Conary the Great ; the same for which Felim laid waste 
the lands of Leinster some time before ; but others assert that it was 
only intended to protect the abbey of Monasterevin, founded by Evinus, 
a Munster saint, on the confines of Leinster, and which the king of 
Leinster had now seized for his own people. Be this, however, as it may, 

are not told with what success ; but the record of the event is of interest in Irish antiquities, as fixing 
the sepulchral character of these remarkable monuments. — See note of Dr. O'Donovan in the Four 
Masters, ad. an., and the arguments founded by Dr. Petrie on the fact in his " Essay on Tara Eill." 
* Keating (Hist, of Ireland, part 2) has preserved from an ancient tract, now lost, a curious 
iccount of the reign of Cormac, and details of the battle in whicli he losi his life. — See Dr. 
Lynch's Latin translation of this account. Four Masters, vol. ii. p. 501, note b. 


Cormac was utterly opposed to this war. He referred the subject to a 
council of the chiefs, but their voice being unanimously for wai-, he 
made the necessary arrangements to carry out their wishes, at the same 
time that he tried sundry expedients to prevent hostiUties. The men of 
Leinster were equally reluctant to go to battle, and sent ambassadors 
with very fair propositions, which the obstinacy of Flahertach and of 
those who agreed with him caused to be rejected. Cormac was grieved 
at this perversity, but was obliged to let things proceed. He foretold 
his o-v\Ti death, and made his will, bequeathing a number of valuable 
objects to Armagh, Inniscathy, and other churches and abbeys. He en- 
deavoured to conceal his forebodings from the soldiers, that they might 
not be dispirited : but the men had no confidence in their cause or their 
numbers; several fled before the battle, and many more at the beginning 
of the conflict; and when the combined forces of Leinster, INIeath, and 
Connaught, with Flann at their head, met the small army of IMunster, 
the victory was not long uncertain. Cormac was killed, his horse rolling 
over him down the side of a declivity, rendered slippery by the blood of 
the slain ; and a common soldier, discovering his body, cut off the head, 
and presented it to Flann, who only bewailed the death of so good and 
learned a man, and blamed the indignity with which his remains had 
been treated. Six thousand of the men of Munster, with a great num- 
ber of their princes and chieftains, fell in this battle, which was fought 
(a.d. 903) at a place called Bealagh Mughna, now Ballaghmoon, in the 
county of Kildare, two or three miles north of the town of Carlow. Fla- 
hertagh, who led one of the three divisions in which the Munster army 
was marshalled, survived the battle, and after some years spent in penance, 
became once more minister, and ultimately king of Munster, but enter- 
tained calmer views as he advnced in life.* 

a.d. 913. — Flann in his old age had the affliction to see his two sons, 
Donough and Conor, rebel against him; but Niall, surnamed Glundubh, 
or of the Black-Knee, son of Hugh Finnlaith, the northern Hy-Niall 
chief, led an army against them, and compelled them to give hostages 

* The Annals of the Four Masters, whose chronolofo' is generally followed in this history, unless 
when the contrary is stated, are here ante-dated five years, and the date of the death of Cormac was 
consequently 908. Cormac Mac Cuilennan lias left a valuable Irish glossary, and is said to have 
been the compiler of the Psalter of Cashel. The number of scholars and eminent churchmen who»« 
deaths are recorded in the Irish annals at this period, show that all tlie wasting warfare and barbar- 
ities of the Danes had not been able to extirpate piety or learning from the land of Erin. Among 
tlie distinguished names which we thus find, may be mentioned those of Maelmnraof Fahau, who 
died in 885, and who lias been already referred to in tlit-sc pa-^ps a« ■•nc- of the oldest of the ancient 
poetic chroniclers of Ireland whose productions still >urvi\e; and Snivuf, aiichoiite scribe ot 
Cloumacnoise, whose death occurred in 887. r- 


for their submission to their father. Flann died the following year 
(914), after a reign of thirty-eight years, and was succeeded by the 
chivalrous Niall Glundubh. About this time fresh forces of Northmen 
poured into Ireland, and they established an entrenched camp at Ceann 
Fuait (now Confey, near Leixlip), whence they sent out parties to 
pillage the country to a considerable distance. The spirit of unanimit}^ 
which the men of Ireland exhibited on the occasion was cheering. A 
Munster army gained a victory over the Danes near the frontier of the 
southern province; and the gallant Niall Glundubh, notwithstanding 
the strong position which the foreigners then held in and around 
Dublin, was resolved to assail them in their principal fastnesses; but 
this attempt, although bravely made, Avas unsuccessful. In an assault 
on the Danish camp at Ceann Fuait, in 915, the Irish army was repulsed 
with great slaughter : and two years after the Irish received a disastrous 
defeat at Cill-Mosamhog or Kilmashoge, near Rathfarnham, where they 
pressed upon the Northmen close to their stronghold of Ath-Cliath.* 
Here Niall, with several Irish chieftains, fell, and his loss was bewailed 
long after by the bards in verses full of pathos and beauty. His reign 
was unfortunately too short for him to render his country the services 
for which his noble and heroic spirit so well fitted him. 

Donough, son of Flann Sinna, succeeded, and began his reign under 
favorable auspices, by slaughtering a great number of the Danes in 
Bregia ; but he passed the remainder of it in comparative obscurity, one 
of the acts recorded of him being the slaying of his brother Donal 
treacherously. Godfred, the Danish chief of Dublin, plundered Armagh 
(a.d. 919), sparing the oratories with their Culdees ; and from this 
clemency some infer that he had embraced Clii'istianity, but we have no 
positive authority on the subject. 

Two remarkable men, strongly contrasted in many points, now ap- 
peared on the scene in Ireland. These were Muirkertach, son of Niall 
Glundubh, next heir to the throne, and Callaghan of Cashel (Ceallachan 
Caisil), the king of Munster. The northern chieftain was a man of 
heroic and generous spirit, willing to sacrifice every personal feeling 
for his country. T^vice did he find himself arrayed in arms against the 
Avorthless monarch Donough, but, as the annalists express it, " God 
pacified them ;" or in other words Muirkertach was induced to yield 
for the sake of peace. Hitherto the Danish invaders had met no enemy 
so formidable as him in Ireland. Callaghan of Cashel was also renowned 

*The true (late of this battls i"! 019, the Annals of the F-mr Masters, which have it under 917, 
being at this I'eriod two years aiile-dated. 

MUIRKERTACh's circuit of IRELAND. 131 

for heroism in war, but the love of country was no element in his cha- 
racter. The hereditary feud of the south and north was in his mind 
as strong an incentive to war as all the ravages of the heathen Danes ; 
and we find him sometimes acting in concert with these plunderers and 
sometimes against them. In the year 934, Callaghan, with his jNIunster 
army pillaged Clonmacnoise a few months after it had suffered the same 
treatment from Amlaff and the Danes of Dublin ; and again, in 937, ho 
invaded Lleath and Ossory in concert with the foreign enemy, laying 
waste the country without mercy. Two years after Lluirkertach 
took hostages from the men of Ossory and the Deisi, and forthwith 
Callaghan entered their territory and punished them for this act of 
compulsory submission to the Hy-Niall chieftain. 

A.D. 939. — Muirkertach, having returned from an expedition against 
the Norsemen of the Hebrides, resolved to strike a desperate blow against 
the Danish power in Ireland, and to bring those who had acted with 
the enemy into submission to the monarch ; and accordingly he set out, 
with an army of one thousand chosen heroes, on his famous circuit of 
Ireland. He commenced by carrying off from AthCliath Sitric, brother 
of Godfred, then king of the Danes, as a hostage, and proceeded on 
his march to the south. The men of Lenister mustered to oppose his 
progress, and assembled over night in Glen-Mama near Dunlaven, 
through which his route lay; but as soon as they saw the northern 
warriors by the light of morning they prudently retired, and Muirker- 
tach marched on to Dun-Aillinn near Old Kilcullen, where he took 
Lorcan, king of Leinster, and fettered him as a hostage. The army of 
I\Iunster was next in readiness to give battle to the warrior band ; but 
tliey either thought better of it, and determined to surrender their 
king, Callaghan ; or, according to other authorities, Callaghan himself 
requested them rather to give him up than to fight the Hy-Nialls. The 
king of Cashel was accordingly taken and put in fetters as Lorcan had 
been. Muirkertach then marched towards Connaught, when young 
Conor, son of Teigc of the Three Towers, king of that province, 
presented himself as a hostage, and was carried off but not fettered. 
The son of Niall finally returned to Aileach with all his royal hostages, 
and having spent five months there in feasting, he handed them over to 
Donough the monarch, as his liege lord.* , 

The heroic jMuirkertach, called by our annalists "the Hector of the 

* Cormacan Eigeas, poet of Ulster, and the fripml ami counsellor of jriiirl;er{ach, celebrated this 
"circuit of Ireland" in a puem which lias been published by the ArclucolDgical Society of irelund 
f; the first volume of their Miscellany, 1841. 


West of Europe," was slain by Blacaire, son of Godfred, king of the 
Dj,nes, at Ardee, in Louth (941), in less than two years after this trium- 
phant progress ; and about ten years later (952), we find recorded the 
death of his old foe, Callaghan of Cashel, Avho had been permitted to 
return to his kingdom. This latter prince, who is celebrated in the 
romantic chronicles of the time, was the ancestor of the O'Callaghans, 
Mac Carthys, and O'Keeffes. 

Donough, the feeble monarch of Tara, was succeeded in 942, after a 
reign of twenty-five years, by another nominal chief-king, Congallach, 
who, having fallen into a Danish ambuscade, in 954, was in his turn 
succeeded by Donnel O'Neill,* son of Muirkertach. 

The power of the Danes had greatly increased at this period, and was 
exercised with as much barbarity as ever, and the victories gained over 
them by the Irish were comparatively few. But we have now arrived 
at an important epoch in the history of these Danish wars, which shall 
be developed in the next chapter. 

* This is one of the first instances we meet of a hereditary surname in Ireland. It was assuioed 
from Donal's grandfather, Niall Glundubh. 


Sequel of the Danish "Wars. — Limits of the Danish power in Ireland. — Hibemo- 
Danish Alliances. — Danish Expeditions from Ireland into England, Sec. — 
Conversion of the Danes to Christianity. — Consecration of Dano-lrish Bishops. 
— Subdivision of territoiy in Ireland. — Alternate Succession. — Progress and 
Pretensions of Munster. — Brian Borumha. — Episode of his Brother's Murder. 
— Malachy TI., Monarch of Ireland. — His victories over the Danes. — Wars of 
Brian and Malachy. — Deposition of Malachy. — Character of Brian's Reign. — 
His Piety and Wise Laws. — The Battle of Clontakf. — Death of Brian. — ■ 
Consequences of the Battle. 

\^From the middle of the Tenth to the legitming of the Eleventh Century. '\ 

HE Danes never obtained the dominion of Ireland as 

they did that of England ; nor was there consequently 

any Danish king of Ireland such as England had in her 

Canute or Harold. The first really formidable impression 

made by the Norsemen on Ireland was at tlie opening of 

the ninth century, when Cambrensis and Joeelin mention 

the viking Turgeis, or Turgesius, as king of Ireland. 

These writers also make some obscure allusion to Gur- 

mundus, the son of an African prince, as a conqueror of 

Ireland ;* but this latter personage would appear to be 

purely fabulous, and the Irish annals clearly show that 

\\S- O^'' Turgesius never could have been justly styled king of 

<Jv c' ''' Ireland.! Indeed, the authority of the Northmen in 

Ireland coidd not at any time be said to have extended 

beyond the ground occupied by their marauding armies. The Irish did 

not, like the Saxons, attempt to purchase peace from the Danes by 

* The Danes were called .\fiicans, or Saracens, in the medieval romances. 

t Col'ian (Trias. Thaum . note on cap. 17o, of Jocelin's />//e o/5/. Patrick), says:— "Neither 
Gildas Modiida, nor John O'Dugan, in the catalogue of the king.^ of Ireland, nor the Four Makers 
in the same catalogue or in the annals, nor any other writer of Irish hi.-tory, native, or foreign 
cither, as far as I know, before Giraldus Canihrnn^^is, enumerates Gurmundus or Turgesius amonj; 
the kings of Ireland, although they make mention of Turgesius and other Noimans as havim.', in 
><3(i and the following' years, disturbed the p. acf of that couulry by cm.liuual battle.-, -and 
tiiii-. and inrnr.-ious." 


money, but fought with desperate resolution in defence of themselves 
and their property, and generally made the northern freebooters pay 
dearl}- for the spoils they took. The latter were, how^ever, permitted 
to establish themselves along the coast in Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, 
Youghal, Cork, and Limerick ; and when some of these strongholds 
were occasionally taken by the Irish, the Danish inhabitants nevertheless 
purchased safety on easy terms. In these important seaports they became 
transformed from pirates to merchants, occupying small districts in their 
neighbourhood for purposes of agricvdtiu'e, and keeping up well-trained 
armies to levy black mail in the interior. Sometimes they received such 
overthrows that the Irish annalists describe them as wholly driven from 
the country ; but they invariably reappeared in greater force and with 
greater ferocity than before; and it is obvious that the expulsion was not 
on those occasions complete. 

Thus, by degrees, did the Northmen become, as it w^ere, a part of the 
recognized population of the country. They formed alliances, and made 
themselves indispensable as allies to one or other of the Irish toparchs 
in every local quarrel. By their assistance the kings of Leinster Avere 
frequently able to resist the demands made for tribute both by the 
monarch and by the kings of Cashel. Sometimes the Danish chiefs of 
Dublin or Waterford left Ireland with their entire forces, apparently 
abandoning the country, for the purpose of making descents on England 
or Scotland, and in these excursions they were occasionally aided by 
Irish allies. In 916 there was an expedition by the Danes of Waterford 
against Alba, or Scotland, of which Constantino was then king, and the 
invaders were beaten. Again, in 925, the Danes are said to have left 
Dublin for six months ; and in 937 they once more abandoned Dublin, 
led by Amlaff, or Olave, king of the Danes of Dublin and of the 
Islands, and with numerous Irish auxiliaries invaded England. Con- 
stantine of Scotland, whose daughter was married to Amlaff, was this 
time an ally of the Northmen, who were also supported by the Welsh or 
Britons; but they were defeated by Athlestan, king of England, in the 
memorable battle of Brunanbur^h in Northumbria.* 

* This battle is celebrated in verse in the.S.ixon clironicle; but on the death of Atlsleslan in 9 41 
Amlafl' returned to England and became king of Northumbria. Edgar, one of Athlestans succes- 
sors, in a charter dated at Gloucester, 9G4, boasts of having subdued "a great part of Ireland with 
its most noble city of Dublin," as well as "the Kinjidnms of the Islands of the Ocean, with their 
fierce kings;" but as far as Ireland is concerned there is no ground wliatever for tlie assertion, un- 
less some defeat inflicted by Edgar on the Danes, not alluded to in our annals, be referred to. The 
charter is published in Usshei's Sylloge, p. 121. See also Ware's Antiquities, p. 14, (l.ondun, 


The period of the conversion of the Danes to Christianity cannot be 
fixed with precision; but the general opinion is that those of Dublin 
became Christians about the year 948, a date which is assigned to the 
foundation of St. Mary's Abbey, on the north side of the LifFey.* 
Whatever time the change took place, the annals do not indicate any 
mitigation of cruelty on the part of the Danes to mark the period. In 
the very year in which the Danes of Dublin are said to have been 
converted, they burned the belfry of Slane, while filled wuth ecclesiastics 
and others, who had sought refuge thei*e with some precious relics, 
among which was the staff of the holy founder, St. Ercf At a later 
period it was usual for the Danish bishops of Dublin and Limerick to be 
consecrated by the archbishops of Canterbury, whose jurisdiction they 
acknowledged, so little was there of the community of Christian charity 
between them and their fellow-Christians in Ireland. 

While matters were proceeding thus with the Danes in Ireland, the 
native political system of the Irish themselves was producing its worst 
fruito. An unlimited subdivision of territory was taking place, and the 
number of independent dynasts multiplying accordingly. The time had 
passed away when the division of the island into five provinces could be 
said to hold good. There were kings of north and south Munster, be- 
sides independent lords of various territories in the southern province. 
Connaught was divided among two or three independent princes. Lein- 
ster, the battle-field of all the provinces, was at this time almost con- 
stantly in alliance with the Danes. Bregia was able to rebel against 
Meath, of which it was only a portion. The Hy-Nialls of the north 
were subdivided into Kinel-Connell and Kinel-Owen. The former of 
these were excluded from the sovereignty since the death of Flahertach, 
in 760; and the dignity of monarch alternated from that time with toler- 
able regularity between the Kinel-Owen branch and the southern or 
Meath branch of the race of Niall of the Nine Hostages. The Ulidians, 
or people of eastern Ulster, had their own king, and were rarely on ami- 
cable terms with their Ily-Niall neighbours. 

If the principle of alternate succession worked smoothl}^ enough be- 
tAveen the northern and southern houses of Hy-Niall, there was still no 

* The death of an abbot of Clonmacnoise named Connvach, said to be one of the Finnjralls, is 
mentioned in our annals so early as 866 ; and the Danish ciiicf, Godfred, who ".spared the oratories 
and Culdees of Armagh" in 919, is conjectured by some to have been a Cliri.stian; but not upon 
suflRcient grounds. 

t Ann. ill: the persons burned in the tower was Coeneaoliair, prefect of the school of Slane, 
C.lgan (Trias Thaum. p. 219), believes to have been Trohus, one of the hioiiraphers of St. Patrii k. 
The event affords an illustration of one of the u.-es to which tli*- Fri.^h belfries or round tower> w.-re 
applied; namely, a.> places ..f reirt-al in lime of war. No trace of the ."?iane t-.wer is now visible. 


cordiality between tliera. One branch when in authority frequently de- 
vastated the territory of the other to obtain hostages or enforce payment 
of tribute. But when the southern Hy-Niall, or Meath branch, was in 
possession of the crown there was generally a palpable inferiority of 
power displayed. Meath did not possess the resources of men, nor her 
princes often the vigorous activity and heroism which characterized the 

For some time the kingdom of Munster had been gradually attaining 
the importance to which its extent and resources entitled it. It suffered, 
to this time, less from war than any of the other provinces, and was 
thus rising not only within itself, but relatively by reason of the greater 
injury which the others underwent. The time had, therefore, arrived 
for its kings to re-assert the old claim to the sovereignty of Leath Mogha, 
a claim which was the real cause of all the recent wT^rs between Mun- 
ster and Leath Cuinn ; which served as a pretext for the aggressions of 
Felim, Cormac jMac Cuilennan, and Callaghan Cashel; and which Avas 
now about to rouse the energies of a more eminent man whose career 
we are approaching — namely, Brian Borumha or Boru.* 

The sovereignty of Munster was to have alternated between the two 
great tribes of the Dalcassians, or north Munster race, and the Eogan- 
achts, or race of south IMunster ; the former, as we have seen, descended 
from Cormac Cas, and the latter from Eoghan Mor, both sons of Oiu )1 
Olum. But this rule was not observed; and for a long interval the 
provincial crown was monopolized by the chiefs of Desmond, or south 
Munster. Cormac Mac Cuilennan wished to correct this injustice, 
although himself of the Eoganacht, or Eugenian line; aixl his friend 
Lorcan, king of Thomond, did succeed to the crown of Munster, or 
rather of all Leath jMogha, after two intervening Eugenian reigns. On 
the death of Lorcan, his son Kennedy (Cineidi) contested, in 942, the 
succession with the Eugenian prince, Callaghan Cashel, but yielded in 
a chivalrous spirit, and co-operated with him in some of his wai's against 
the Danes and others. This Kennedy was the father of the illustrious 
Brian Borumha. 

Mahon, the eldest son of Kennedy, successfully asserted his right to 
the crown of all jMunstcr in 960, and performed many heroic exploits 
against the Danes of Limerick, and against the Connaughtmen, Avho 

* The surname of Bornmhn or Bnrnt'mhe, is usually supposed to have been cjiven from the tributes 
which Brian exacted ; but its most pvobalile derivation is from I->oromha, now Beal-Borumba, an 
ancient fort on the Shannon, about a mile ro-'h of Brian's palace of Kiiiconi, or the prcsciit 
Kiilaloe. — Four Ma-^'ei-f, vol, ii. p. 1002, n « 


h:ul invaded Thomond. In his wars he "svas gaHantly aided by his 
brother Brian, wlio distinguished himself for deeds of valour from his 
youth. ]\Iahon's brilliant career filled his hereditarv rivals of south 
Munster with envy and alarm, and a plot against his life was formed, 
A.D. 978, by Maelmliuaidh, or Molloy (ancestor of the O'Malionys), 
king of Desmond, Donovan (ancestor of the O'Donovans), lord of Hy 
Figeinte,* and Ivor, king of tlie Danes of Limerick; this last-named 
person having, it is said, suggested the treacherous scheme. ]\Iahon was 
invited to a banquet at the house of Donovan, at Bruree on the j\Iaio-ue, 
and the bishop of Cork, with several others of the clergy, were induced 
to give him a solemn guarantee for his safety. He accordingly went, 
but was immediately seized by a band of Donovan's armed men, who 
handed him over to Molloy, who with a strong party lay in wait in the 
neighbourhood; and next morning, in violation of the sacred pledo-e 
that had been given to him, he was basely put to death, a sword being 
plunged into his bosom.f Brian took ample vengeance on the mur- 
derers of his brother. He slaughtered the Danes of Limerick in several 
battles,! slew the treacherous lord of Hy-Figeinte, and finally overthrew 
Molloy, who was killed in a battle at Ballagh Leachta, tlie scene of tlie 
murder, by Brian's son, ilorough, then only fifteen years of age. Brian, 
on this, became king of both Munsters, and a few years later was 
acknowledged king of all Leath Moo-ha. 

A.D. 979. — A battle was fought this year near Tara, in which the 
Danes of Dublin and the Islands were defeated with terrible slaughter 
by Malachy, or i\Iaeiseachlainn, the king of Meath. Ragnal or Randal, 
son of Aralave, the Danish king of Dublin, was slain, with a vast number 
of his troops, and Amlave himself, soon after the defeat, went on a 
pilgrimage to lona, where he died broken-hearted. Donnell O'Neill, 
son of Muirkertach, the monarch of Ireland, also died this year, after a 
reign of twenty-four years, and was succeeded by the king of ]\Ieath, 
jNIalachy II., sometimes styled the Great. 

A.D. 980. — Flushed ^vith success after the battle of Tara, Malachy, 

*TIii.s important territory comprised the western part of the county of Limerick, and extended 
somewhat into the counties of Cork to the s<iuth, and Kerry to tlie west. The rivers ^Iaif,oie and 
Morning Star appear to liave formed its boundary to the east as the Siiannon did to the north. 

t This crime was perpetrated at a hiil called ]5alla^'h Leachta, which, accordiu!.' to some accc 'mis, 
was at Redchair, on the confines of Limerick and Cork, but according to anotlur authority, «-is 
in the vicinity of Macroom, in Cork. See note by Dr. O'Donovan, Four Masters, an. DTI 
(reste i)7G). 

X Ctne of these battles was f.ujiht (a.d. 977) on InisCalhy, where Brian made a fearful slm-ji.t.T 
of the Danes; and he followed up this succes.s by driving tbcni from all tiie other islands ol il.« 


immediately on his accession to the sovereio;nty, marched against the 
Danes of Dubhn, laid siege to the city, which he captured after being 
three days before its walls, and liberated two thousand Irish prisoners 
whom he found there, including the king of Leinster, besides taking a 
large amount of rich spoils. It was stipulated that all the race of 
Niall should be henceforth free from tribute to the foreigners; and 
Malachv issued a proclamation declaring every Irishman then in bondage 
to the Danes released from captivity. 

Unfortunately this auspicious commencement of Malachy's reign was 
soon marred by the bane of ancient Ireland — intestine war. The 
successes and pretensions of the enterprising king o^ Munster excited 
the monarch's jealousy. Brian's claim to the sovereignty of Leath 
Mogha was, in fact, an imperative call to arms. Malachy accordingly 
entered the territory of the Dalcassians (a.d. 981), and, while laying 
waste the country, caused the great oak free of Magh Adhair,* under 
which the kings of Thomond were inaugurated, to be taken up by the 
roots and destroyed. This w^as an unnecessary outrage, not easily to be 
forgiven, and showed the bitterness by which Malachy was animated. 

The annals of the period present a chequered enumeration of plun- 
dering excursions, in which no party seems to have been free fi'om 
blame. On various occasions Malachy showed his resentment against 
Brian. He sent a hostile army into Leinster in defiance of him, but 
this act was followed by a treaty, in which Brian's claim, as king of 
Leath Mogha was admitted. Recalled from one of his forays by the 
reviving power of the Danes, Malachy again (a.d. 989) led an army 
against Dublin, defeated the Danes in battle, and laid siege " for twenty 
nights" to the Danish citadel, reducing the garrison to such straits that 
they were obliged to drink the salt water which they could procure 
when the tide rose in the river. At length he accepted terms, the 
Danes, in addition to former tributes, undertaking to pay him, annually 
on Christmas night during his reign, an ounce of gold for every garden 
attached to a dwelling in Dublin. A f'ev/ years later, Malachy and 
Brian were again at war, the latter being now, as far as we can judge, 
the aggressor ; for while the monarch was engaged in Connaught, Brian 
sent an army up the Shannon in boats, and made an inroad into Meath, 
burning the royal rath of Dun Sciath. Upon this, Malachy, recrossing 
the Shannon, marched towards the south, burned Nenagh (Aenach- 
Tete), plundered all Ormond, and defeated Brian himself in battle 

' This is a |)lnce nnw call'^il Moyre, near Tiillagh, in the conniy uf (.'lare. It derives its iii-i.T- 
li.iiii a I'irlKjl^ cliitf, Adiiar, (Hi supra, p. 28, note. 


(a.d. 994). He then marched once more against the Danes of Dubhn, 
carrying away, among other spoils, the ring or cliain of Tomar, a 
Scandinavian chief, who was killed, a.d. 840, in the battle of Sciath 
Neachtain, near Castledermot.* 

Three years after these events (a.d. 997 according to the Irish annals, 
but A.D. 998 according to our modern computation), we find Malachv 
and Brian, with the men of Meath and jNIunster, acting in conjunction, 
"to the great joy of the Irish," as the annalists tell us, and attacking the 
Danes of Dublin, Avhom they plundered of a great portion of their wealth. 
The following year the two kings gained an important victory over 
the Danes, who were led by Harold, son of Amlave, at Glen ]\Iama, 
a valley near Dunlaven, in Wicklow, where Prince Harold was slain. 
The Irish army then marched to Dublin, where they remained for a 
week, burned the citadel, expelled Sitric, son of Amlave, the Danish 
king, and took a number of prisoners and a large quantity of gold and 
silver. After so many defeats the Danish power must have been in a very 
feeble state ; indeed, it only required unanimity, vigour, and foresight 
on the part of the Irish princes to expel all the Northmen from Ireland; 
but short-sighted policy still prevailed, and the tribute obtained from 
the Danes, together with the wealth brought by their merchants into 
the countr}^, now made them objects of avarice rather than fear to the 
native kings. 

A.D. 999 (1000). — This year is remarkable for the revolution wl-ich 
deposed jMalachy, and raised Brian Borumha to the dignity of monarch 
of Ireland in his stead ; but the accounts of the disputes between these 
two kings are so distorted by provincial partizanship that we can do no 
more than guess at the truth. The southern annalists represent Malacliy 
as quite incapable of ruling Ireland, and Brian as only yielding to the 
solicitations of the other Irish princes in assuming the reins of govern- 
ment. They speak of general councils of the nation, and of a year's 
grace given in vain to Malachy to retrieve his credit. But the authentic 
annals of the Four JNIasters have not one word about all this, whic-]i 
besides is inconsistent with the active career of Avar and victory which 
we have seen M;?lachy thus far pursue. The character of Brian is 
popularly described as faultless; and if the unprejudiced mind finds it 
difficult to acquit him altogether of ambition and usurpation, still the us.' 
to which he converted the power he acquired, and the benefits, though 
transitory, Avhich redounded from it to his country, to religion, and fo 

* Tills (ixjiloit is ikt '.liei:i»of Moi;i"e'.spupular luelodv, •• l^el luiii rtiiieiiibiT ilit ilujt of oid,' ..c 


civilization, may palliate faults not very heinous in themselves, con- 
sidering the spirit and circumstances of the age in which he lived. 

In the year last referred to the Four Masters say that Brian collected 
an army, composed, in addition to his own Dalcassians and the men of 
Munster in general, of the forces of south Connaught, Ossory, and Lein- 
ster, and of the Danes of Dublin, and marched against Malachy, with 
whom he is not stated to have had any cause of quarrel on this occasion. 
The Danish contingent, consisting of cavalry, dashed ahead into Bregia, 
to enjoy the first fruits of the plunder, but they were encountered by the 
monarch himself, and cut off almost to a man. This sturdy reception, 
which indicated no want of vitality on the part of Malachy, had its due 
effect, and Brian's invading army returned home without fighting or 
pillaging ; but some assert that Malachy made concessions, and that 
Brian, though sure of victory, did not urge a battle. " This," say the 
northern annalists, " was the first turning of Brian and the Connaught- 
men against Malachy."* 

Next year a Munster army committed some depredations in Meath, 
and was compelled to relinquish its plunder. But the star of Malachy 
had Avaned, and seeing that the feeling of the country was favorable to 
his rival, he submitted to his fate. Hence, when Brian, with an army 
composed partly of the men of Munster and Leinster, and partly of 
Danes, marched the following year, a.d. 1001 (1003 of the common era), 
to Athlone, Malachy gave him hostages, or in other words, surrendered 
to him the crown of Ireland.f At the same time Brian received the 
hostages of Connaught; and then with a combined force, a section of 
which was led by Malachy himself, who followed Brian's standard as one 

* Dr. O'DotiDvan, in the Annals of the Four ^rasters, vol. ii. p. 742, note d, obscrvea on this 
passage, tliat Tighernach, who lived very the period, calls Brian's opposition to Malachy 
'"turning through guile or treachevy ;" and in a preceding note he remarks: — '• Dr. O'Brien, in his 
Law ofTanialry, and others, assert that Maelseachl.iinn resi:;ned the monarchy of Ireland to Brian 
because he was not able to master the Danes; but this is all provincial fabrication, fn- .Maelseach- 
lainn iiad the Danes of Dublin, Meatii, and Leinster completely mastered, until Brian, whose 
daughter was married to Sitrie, Daid^h king uf Dublin, joined the Danes him. Never was 
there a character so historically maligned as that of Maelseachlainn II. by IMun^ter fabricators .f 

\ Mr. Moore (Hist, of Ireland, vol. ii. p. lOl), saj^s: "The ready acquiescence with which, in 
general, so violent a cliange in the polity of the country was submitted to, may be in a great degn-e 
attriljuted to the example of patience and disinterestedness exhibited by the immediate victim of 
this revolution, the de[)o.sed Malachy him.solf. Nor, in forming our estimate of this prince's 
character, from a general view of his whole career, can we well hesitate in coming to the conclusion, 
that not to any backwardness in the tield, or want of vigour in council, is his tranquil submission 
to the violent encroachments of his rival to be attributed; but to a regard, rare at such an unripe 
period of civiliz.ition, for the real interests of the public weal, and an unwillingness to risk, for hi-s 
iiv.ri personal views, the explosive burst of discord which, in so infiammaljle a -itate of the ptiitical 
iiiinosphcre, a struggle for the monarchy would, he knew, infallibly piovoke" 


of his lieges, he proceeded northward to bring Ulster into subjection. 
The northern Hy-Nialls were not, however, yet prepared to acquiesce in 
the revokition; and Hugh, son of Donnell O'Neill, heir apparent to the 
sovereignty, with other northern chieftains, marched out to oppose him, 
but the armies having met at Dundalk (Dun Dealgan) separated without 
fighting, chiefly, as we are led to suppose, from Brian's unwillingness to 
shed the blood of his countrymen. It was some years, indeed, before he 
succeeded in reducing the Hy-Nialls of the north to submission ; but in 
1010 he compelled the Kinel-Eoghain and the Ulidians to give him host- 
ages, and in the following year he took the lord of Kinel-Connell prisoner, 
and carried him to his palace at Kincora.* Hither he also conducted 
other refractory princes, and he at length succeeded in reducing the 
numerous petty kings and dynasts, whose mutual quarrels and aggressions 
were the curse of Ireland, into complete subordination. This led to that 
happy state of tranquillity and obedience to the laws wdiich the bards 
have illustrated by the well-known fable of a beautiful lady carrying a 
gold ring on a white wand, and passing unmolested through the land. 

What Brian had effected for his' own province of Munster, before he 
became monarch of Ireland, he now, as far as possible, did for the whole 
country. He restored monasteries and schools destroyed by the Danes; 
caused the desecrated churches to be rebuilt and consecrated, and founded 
new ones ; but among the latter, the only ones mentioned by name are 
those of Killaloe and Iniscealtra. He built the round toAver of Tuam- 
grelne (Tomgrany) in the present county of Clare; erected new forts 
and strengthened old ones ; encouraged commerce and promoted learning 
and piety. On visiting Armagh, at the commencement of his reign, he 
laid an offering on the principal altar there of twenty ounces of gold — 
a large amount at that period — and made generous presents for the sup- 
port of religion in other churches.! 

Among the useful laws which Brian instituted was one for fixing sur- 
names. Before this time (a.d. 1002) a few surnames, as that of O'Neill, 
were coming into use ; but from Brian's reign they became imperative, 
and each family selected the name of some distinguished ancestor, 
which, with the prefix Mac or 0, "son," or "grandson," was to be thence- 

• The name Ceann Coradh signifies the Head of the Weir, and the site of this celebrated fortress 
and palace of Brian Borumha is comprised in the present town of Killaloe, that is, Cill Dalvia, or 
the Church of St. Lua or Molua, a saint of the seventh century. 

t On this visit to Armagh in 1004, Brian got his secretary, Maelsuthain {Cahus-verennis) to 
write in his presence, in the Book of Armagh, a confirmation of certain dues to that church, 
which had been paid since the time of St. Patrick ; and in the entry, which still exists, Brian is 
styled Imperatoris Scotorum. On this occasion he encamped for a week in the great fort of Emani&, 
the ancient palace of the kings of Ulster. 


forth the family name. With few exceptions, the ancestors thus cliosyfi 
were men who flourished in the tenth, or the beginning of the eleventh, 

A.D. 1013. — Such is the glowing picture drawn by Irish historians of 
the victories, wise government, and many virtues of Brian Borumha ; 
but the interval of tranquillity which he had created was brief, and the 
odium of violating it is cast upon Maelmordha Mac Murrough,t who, 
through the assistance of the Danes had, some years previously, usurped 
the throne of Leinster. It is said that this prince received some offence 
from Brian's son, Murrough, at the court of Kincora, and that in order to 
be revenged he stirred up his allies, the Danes of Dublin, to acts of 

* The most ancient account, says Dr. O'Donovan, of the fact of Brian's first establishing 
surnames, is found iti a fragment of a MS. in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, (II. 2, 16), 
supposed to be part of Mac Liag's Life of Brian Borumha, in which the fallowing passage occurs: — 
" It was Brian that gave out seven monasteries botii furniture, and cattle, and land ; and thirty- 
two Cloictheachs (or Round Tower belfries) ; and it was by him the marriage ceremony was 
confirmed (made binding): and it was during his time that surnames were first given, and 
territories were allotted to the surnames, and the boundaries of every territory and cantred were 
fixed." The following is the origin of some of these'surnames : — The Mac Cartliys of Desmond, from 
Carthach, who was slain in 1045 ; the Fitzpatricks, or Mac Gillapatricks of Ossory, from Gilla- 
phadaiig, lord of Ossory, who was slain in 995 ; O'Phelan, from Faelan, lord of the Deisi, whose 
son Diinnell was one of those by whom the aforesaid Gillaphadraig was killed ; Mac Murroufh of 
Leinster, from Murchadh (son of Diarmaid, son of Maelna-nibo, king of Leinster), who died in 
1070; Mac Natnara of I'homond, from Cumara (dog ol tlje sea), who flourished in 1074 ; O'Brien 
of Thomond, from Brian Borumha ; O'Callaghan of Desmond, from Ceallachan, who flourished in 
1092, and was the fourth in descent from Ceallachan Caisil, king of Munster, and common 
ancestor of the Mac Carthys; O'Conor of Connaught, from Conchobliar, or Conor, king of Con- 
naught, who died in 974 ; O'Conor of Corcomroe, from Conor wiio was slain in 1002 ; O'Conor 
Keriy, from Conor, whose grandson, Mac Beatha, was slain at Clontarf ; O'Donnell of I'irconnell, 
from an ancestor who flourished in 950 ; O'Donoghue of Kerry, from an ancestor who flourished in 
1050; O'Donovan, from Donovan, king of Hy-Fidhgeinte, slain by Brian Borumha in 976 ; 
O'Dowda of Mayo, from an ancestor in 876 ; O'Diigan, or Duggan of Fermoy, from Dubhagan, 
killed at Clontarf; O'lleyne, or Hynes of Galway, from Eidhin, whose grandson was killed at 
Clontarf; O'Kelly of Hy-Many, from an ancestor who flourished in 874 ; O'Madden of Hy-Many, 
from Madudhan, slain in 1008 ; O'Mahony of Desmond, descended from Kian (son of MoUoy), who 
was present at Clontarf; O'Melaghlin of Meath, from Maelseachlain, or Malachy I[, king of 
Ireland ; O'Molloy of the King's county, from an ancestor in 1019 ; O'Neill of Tyrone, from Niall 
Glundubh, king of Ireland, in 919; 0"Quin of Thomond, from Niall O'Cuinn, slain at Clontarf; 
O'Rourke of Breffny, from Ruarc, son of Tighearnan, who died in 893 ; O'Sullivan of Desmond, 
from Suillevan, about 950 ; and O'Toole of Leinster, from Tuathal, son of Ugaire, who flourished in 
935. — {Chiejly from Essays, by Dr. C Donovan, on Irish names.) Surnames were generally intro- 
duced throughout Europe in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries. The custom of the Irish 
was not to take names or titles from places, as i» other countries; but, on the contrary, to give the 
fimily names to the lands or seigniories they held. See Ogygia Vindicated, p. 170; Four 
Masters, vol. iii. p. 90, n. p. 

f Tins king was the ancestor, not of the Mac Murroughs or Kavanaghs, as some suppose, but 
of the O'Beirnes of Leinster. His sister, Gormliath, was first the wife of Amlave the Dane, by 
whom she had Sitric, king of Dublin ; and she then became the second wife of Brian Borumlia, 
who soon after repudiated her; and, according to the Niala Saga, in which she is called tiie beau- 
tiful Kormloda, it was she who, in revenge, stirred up the northern sea-kings against Brian, and 
brought aboui Hit; battle ol Llouiail. 


ag^rression. Re the cause what it may, a storm was raised which, though 
sliort, was the most serious in its results that Ireland had yet witnessed. 
The Danes and Leinstermen commenced it (a.d. 1013) by an inroad into 
Meath, where they were routed by Malachy, who is then said to have 
solicited the assistance of Brian, but unsuccessfully; and it was only 
;ifter another conflict near Ben Edar, or Ilowth, in which Malachy lost 
his son, Flann, and two hundred men, that the venerable hei'o of Kincora 
became sensible of the menacing nature of the new outbreak. Brian 
now sent an army under his son, Morough, into Leinster to make re- 
prisals, and they plundered the country " from Glendalough to Kilmain- 
ham (Cill-Maighneann);" and later in the year he himself marched at 
the head of a considerable force to the vicinity of Dublin, where he 
remained encamped for three months ; but the enemy not venturing out, 
he returned to the south about Christmas, contenting himself with plun- 
dering the territory of the traitor Maelmordha. 

A.D. 1014. — Meanwhile the Danes had been making extraordinary 
preparations for war. Envoys were despatched for aid into Norway, the 
Orkneys, and the Baltic Islands; and the foreigners gathered, as the 
annals tell us, " from all the west of Europe." It was represented that 
an opportunity offered for obtaining complete possession of Ireland, and 
great numbers of the vikings accordingly came with their families for 
the purpose of taking up their residence permanently.* At this moment 
the same people were effectually making themselves masters of England. 
Sweyn was proclaimed king of England in 1013, and Canute the Great 
became undisputed monarch of Englandin 1017 ; so that it is little wonder 
if, flushed with a career of such triumph elsewhere, the Danes should 
have reckoned with certainty on finally obtaining the coveted soil of 
Ireland, on which they had now had a partial footing for two hundred 
years. A thousand Northmen, encased in ringed armour from head to 
foot, came under the command of Anrud and Carlus, sons of the king of 
Norway; Sigurd, son of Lodar, earl of the Orkneys, arrived at the head 
of a powerful band ; and a numerous fleet of the northern vikings was 
imder the command of their admiral, Brodar, who, according to Scan- 

* In the chronicle of Aiieinar, monk of St. Eparchius of Angouleme, quoted by Lauigan from 
Labbe (Nova Bibl. MSS torn. 2, p. 177), it is stated that the Northmen came at that time to 
Ireland with an iinmen.-ie fleet, conveying their wives and children, with a view of extirpating the 
Irish and occupjnng in their .stead "that very wealthy country in which there were twelve cities, 
with extensive bi>hoprics and a king, and which had its own language and Latin letters, and was 
converted by St. Patrick," &c. Labbe thinks the Chronicle was written before 1031, in which case 
tlie writer was cofemporary with lirian Borumha, and the document the oldest, as Dr. Lanig>in 
thinks, in which the name of Irhmda is applied to this countn . 


dinavian accounts, was an apostate from Christianity, a great blasphemer, 
and an adept in magic. Neither was the king of Leinster idle, for he 
mustered all his fighting men, to the number, it is said, of 9,000; and the 
Danes of all Ireland Avere prepared to strike a desperate blow for the re- 
covery of their former power. 

Brian could not have been aware of the full extent of these prepa- 
rations ; yet he, too, was resolved to make a gallant effort, and collected 
a considerable army, chiefly from the south and west. The year was 
ushered in with depredations by the Danes and Leinstermen in j\Ieath 
and Bregia, and a challenge from Maelmordha to Brian to meet him 
with his army on the spacious plain of Moynealta, or rather on that part 
of it called Clontarf.* 

The Irish army arrived about the middle of April, a.d. 1014, at theu- 
usual camping ground of Kilmainham, which extended on both sides of 
the LifFey, and comprised the land now called the Phoenix Park ; and 
Brian detached a body of his Dalcassians under his son Donough, to de- 
vastate Leinster, which was unprotected in the absence of Maelmordha 
and his army. The Danish admiral, Brodar, with his auxiliaries, entered 
Dublin-bay on Palm Sunday, the 18th of April, and Donough s move- 
ment having been communicated to Maelmordha by some traitor in 
Brian's camp, it was resolved that the battle should be hastened while 
the Irish army Avas weakened by his absence. According to a Danish 
legend, Brodar had been informed by some pagan oracle that if the 
battle took place on Friday Brian would fall, although victorious, while 
if it were fought on any other day of the week all his assailants would 
be slain ; and it is said that the Danes therefore resolved to make the 
attack on Goods Friday. 

The exact site of the battle seems to be tolerably well defined. In 
Dr. O'Conor s edition of the Four Masters it is called " the battle of the 
fibiiing weir of Clontarf ;"t and the weir in question was at the mouth of 
the Tolka or Tulcainn, where Ballybough bridge now stands. It also 
appears that the principal destruction of the Danes took place when in 
tlieir flight they endeavoured to cross the Tolka, no doubt at the moment 
of high water, when numbers of them were drowned; and it is expressly 
stated that they were pursued with great slaughter " from the Tolka to 
Dublin." We may, therefore, presume that their lines extended along 
the coast, with their left wing resting on the little river just mentioned, 

Cluain Tarbh, the lawn or meadow of the bulls, 
t Calh Corudk Cluana larbh, which Dr. O'Conor erroDeOiialy transbites, " PywUnm herolcum 


and protected by the marshes which then covered the low ijround 
between that and the mouth of the Liffey; while their rio-ht wine 
extended in the direction of Dollymount ; the newly-arrived Danish 
fleet being anchored either at Howth or in the rear of the army 

The Danish and Leinster forces, numbering together about 21,000 
men, were disposed in three divisions, of which the first, or that nearest 
to Dublin, was composed of the Danes of Dublin, under their king, 
Sitric, and the princes Dolat and Conmael, with the thousand mailed 
Norwegians under the youthful warriors Carlus and Anrud. The second 
or central division was composed chiefly of the Lagenians, commanded 
by Maelmordha himself, and the princes of Offaly and of the territory 
of the Liffey ;* and the third division, or right wing, was made up of the 
auxiliaries from the Baltic and the Islands, under Brodar, admiral of the 
fleet, and Sigurd, son of Lodar, earl of the Orkneys, together with some 
auxiliaries from Wales and Cornwall. 

To oppose these the Irish monarch also marshalled his forces in three 
corps or divisions. The first, composed chiefly of the diminished legion 
of the brave Dalcassians, was under the command of his son Morough, 
who had also with him his four brothers, Teige, Donnell, Conor, and 
Flann, sons of Brian, and his own son, Turlough, who was but fifteen 
years of age. In this division was placed Malachy, with his contingent 
of a thousand Meath men ; and here we may refer to the dishonorable 
charges made against this deposed king by all the southern chroniclers, 
who assert that he was the traitor who had apprised Maelmordha of 
Donough's departure from the camp with a large detachment of the 
Dalgais into Leinster, and that on the morning of the battle he withdrew 
his troops from the Irish lines, and remained inactive throughout the 
day. This unworthy conduct is so inconsistent with the whole career of 
Malachy that the charge has been rejected by Mr. Moore in his History 
of Ireland, and by Dr. O'Donovan in his notes to the Four JVIasters ; ye* 
we believe it has not been imputed to him without sufficient grounds, 
and that more recent researches will be found to establish the fact that 
Malachy made overtures to Teige O'Kelly, the commander of the Con- 
naught army, to abandon Brian on the eve of the battle. Malachy's 
sympathies were Meathian rather than national, and, considering the 
provocation which he had received from the man who usurped his 
crown, we may find some excuse for him in the circumstances ; even 
admitting, what appears to be the fact, that he held aloof with the army 

* The Annals ot Clonmacnoiae say the O'AIoies and O'Kolans did not join tlie other Leinster 
septs at Clontarf. 



of Meath during the early part of the fight. We shall presently see that 
before the close of the day he made amends for the morning's derehc- 
tion of duty. 

Brian's central division comprised the troops of Desmond, under the 
command of Cian, son of Molloy (ancestor of O'Mahony), and Donnell, 
son of Duvdavoran (ancestor of O'Donoghoe), both of the Eugenian line ; 
together with the other septs of the south, under their respective chiefs, 
dz. : Mothla, son of Faelan, king of the Desies ; Muirkertach, son of 
Anmcha, chief of Hy-Liathain, (a territory in Cork) ; Scannlan, son of 
Cathal, chief of Loch Lein, or Killarney ; Loingseach, son of Dunlaing, 
chief of the territory of Hy-Conall Gavra, comprised in the present 
baronies of Upper and Lower Connello, in the county of Limerick; 
Cathal, son of Donovan, chief of Carbry-Eva (Kenry, in the same 
county) ; Mac Beatha, chief of Kerry Luaclira ; Geivennach, son of 
Dugan, chief of Fermoy ; O'Carroll, king of Eile ; and, according to some 
accounts, O'Carroll, king of Oriel, in Ulster. 

The remaining Irish division, which formed the left wing opposed to 
the great body of the newly-arrived foreigners in the Danish right wing, 
was composed mainly of the forces of Connaught, under Teige O'Kelly, 
king of Hy-Many ; O'Heyne, or Hynes, king of Hy-Fiachra Aidhna ; 
Dunlaing O'Hartagan ; Echtigern, king of Dal Aradia, and some others. 
Under the standard of Brian Borumha also fought that day the Maer- 
mors, or great stewards of Lennox and Mar, with a contingent of the 
brave Gaels of Alba. It would even appear, from a Danish account, that 
some of the Northmen who had always been friendly to Brian fought on 
his side at Clontarf. Some other Irish chieftains besides those enumerated 
above are mentioned in the Innisfallen Annals, as those of Teffia, &c. 
A large body of hardy men came from the distant maritime district of 
Connemai'a; many warriors flocked from other territories, and, on the 
whole, the rallying of the men of Ireland in the cause of their country 
on that memorable occasion, as much as the victory which their gallantry 
achieved, renders the event a proud and cheering one in Irish history. 
It is supposed that Brian's army numbered about twenty thousand men.* 

* The Danes were better equipped in the battle than their antagonists, and the fame of their ringed 
and scaled armour was spread far through Ireland. In an Irish legend of the time, the Banshee, 
Eenn of Craglea, is represented as endeavouring to keep O'Hartagan from the fight by reminding 
him that vhile tiie Gaels were only dressed in " satin shirts," tlie Danes were enveloped in " coats 
of iron." But the Irish battle-axes were better than any defensive armour. Cambrensis tells us that 
those terrible weapons were wielded bj' the Irish with one hand, and tlius descended from a greater 
height and with greater velocit.v, " so that neither the crested helmet could defend the head, nor 
the iron folds of tlie armour the body. Whence it has happened, even in our time.s," he continues, 
" that the wliole tbigh of a soldier, though cased in well- tempi red armour, has been lopped off by a 


The Danes having resolved to fight on Good Friday, contrary to the 
wishes of Brian, who was unwilhng to desecrate that day with a scene 
of carnage, and who also desired to await the return of his son Donough ; 
and the respective armies being marshalled as we have described, the 
venerable Irish monarch appeared on horseback at break of day, and 
rode along the lines, animating the spirits of his men. While he grasped 
his sword in the right hand, he held a crucifix in the left, and addressing 
the troops, reminded them of all the tyranny and oppression of the 
hateful enemy who stood against them ; of all their sacrilegious outrages ; 
their church burnings, and desecration of sacred relics ; their murders 
and plunder, and innumerable perfidies. "The great God," he con- 
tinued, " hath at length looked down upon our sufferings, and endued 
you with the power and the courage this day to destroy for ever the 
tyranny of the Danes, and thus to punish them for their innumerable 
crimes and sacrileges, by the avenging power of the sword ;" and raising 
aloft the crucifix, he exclaimed, " was it not on this day that Clu'ist 
Himself suffered death for you ?" 

He then gave the signal for action, and the venerable king was about 
to lead his Dalcassian phalanx to the charge, but the general voice of 
the chieftains compelled him to retire into the rear, and to leave the 
chief command to his son INIorough.* 

The battle then commenced, " a spirited, fierce, violent, vengeful, and 
furious battle, the likeness of which was not to be found in that time," 
as the old annalists quaintly describe it. It was a conflict of heroes. 
The chieftains engaged at every point in single combat, and the greater 
part of them on both sides fell. The impetuosity of the Irish was 
irresistible, and their battle-axes did fearful execution, every man of the 
ten hundred mailed warriors of Norway having been cut down by the 
Dalcassians. The heroic Morough performed prodigies of valour 
throughout the day. Ranks of men fell before him ; and hewing his 
way to the Danish standard, he cut down two successive bearers of it 
with his battle-axe.f Two Danish leaders, Carlus and Conmael, 

single blow of the axe, the limb falling on one side of the horse, and the expiring body on the 
other." Besides these broad axes, which were exceedingly well steeled, t!ie Irish, according to 
Carabrensis, used short lances and darts, and they were "very dexterous, beyond other nations, in 
slinging stones in battle, when other weapons failed them." Top. llib. dist. 3, cap. 10. Their 
swords were ponderous, of great length, and edged only on one side. Harris's Ware, vol. ii., p. 162. 

* The age of Brian, according to the usually received accounts, was eighty-eight, and that of 
Morough sixty-three ; but the date (941), given for the birth of Brian, in the Annals of Ulster, 
would make his age at tlie batile of Clontarf only seveuty-tliree ; and Dr. O'Donovan, who thinks 
that to be the true account, conjectures that his son iMorougli was no more tlian forty-three years 
of age. Morough's son, Turlough, was a youth of only fifteen years. 

t This achievement is inentipued in the Danish account, iu which ^lorough is called KerthiaUadr. 


enraged at this success, ruslied on liim together, but both fell in rapid 
succession by his sword. Twice, Morough and some of his chiefs retired 
to slake their thirst and cool their hands, swollen from the violent use 
of the sword and battle-axe, and the Danes observing the vigour with 
which they returned to the conflict, succeeded bj a desperate effort in 
filling up the brook which had refreshed them. Thus the battle raged 
from an early hour in the morning, innumerable deeds of valour being 
performed on both sides, and victory appearing still doubtful, until the 
third or fourth hour in the afternoon, when a fresh and desperate effort 
was made by the Irish ; and the Danes, now almost destitute of leaders, 
began to waver and give way at every point. Just at this moment the 
Norwegian prince, Anrud, encountered Morough, who was unable to 
raise his arms from fatigue, but who with the left hand seized Anrud, 
and shaking him out of his armour, hurled him to the earth, while with 
the other he placed the point of his sword on the breast of the prostrate 
Northman, and leaning on it, plunged it through his body. While 
Morough, however, was stooping for this purpose, Anrud contrived to 
inflict on him a mortal wound with a dac^ffer, and the Irish Avarrior fell 
in the arms of victory. This disaster had not the effect of turning the 
fortune of the day, for the Danes and their allies were in a state of 
Titter disorder, and along their whole line had commenced flying towards 
the city or to their ships. They plunged into the Tolka at a time when 
the river must have been swollen with the tide, as great numbers were 
drowned. The body of young Turlough was found after the battle 
" at the weir of Clontarf," with his hands entangled in the hair of a 
Dane with whom he had grappled in the pursuit. 

But the chief tragedy of the day remains to be related. Brodar, the 
pirate admiral, seeing the route general, was making his way through 
some thickets with only a few attendants, when he came upon the tent 
of Brian Borumha, left at that moment Ayithout his guards. The fierce 
viking rushed in and found the aged monarch at prayer before the 
crucifix, which he had that morning held up to the view of his troops, 
and attended only by a boy, Conaing, the son of his brother Duncuan. 
Brian, however, had time to seize his arms, and died sAvord in hand. 
The Irish accounts say, that he killed Brodar, and was only overcome 
by numbers ; but the Danish version in the Niala Saga is more probable, 
and in this Brodar is represented as holding up his reeking sAvord and 
crying: — "Let it be proclaimed from man to man that Brian has been 
slain by Brodar." It is added on the same authority that the ferocious 
pirate was then hemmed in by Brian's returning guards, and captured 


alive, and that he was hanged upon a tree, and continued to rage like a 
beast of prey until lie was eviscerated ; the Irisli soldiers thus taking 
savage vengeance for the death of their king, who, but for their own 
neglect, would liave been safe. 

To this period of the battle may be applied the statement of the Four 
INIasters, to which we have already alluded, namely, that the foreigners 
and Leinstermen " were afterwards routed by dint of battling, bravery, 
and striking, by Maelseachlainn (Malachy) from Tulcainn (the Tolca) to 
Ath-Cliath (Dublin)." According to the account inserted in the Dublin 
copy of the Annals of Innisfallen, thirteen thousand Danes and three 
thousand Leinstermen fell in the battle and the flight, but this is a mo- 
dern exaggeration. The authentic Annals of theFou.r Masters say, that 
" the ten hundred in armour were cut to pieces, and at least three thousand 
of the foreigners slain ;" the Annals of Ulster state that seven thousand 
of the Danes perished by field and flood ; the Annals of Boyle, which are 
very ancient, count the number of Danes slain in the same way as the 
Fom' Masters do ; so that, in all probability, the Ulster Annals include 
the Leinstermen in their sum total of the slain on the Danish side. The 
loss of the Irish is also variously stated, but it cannot have been much 
less than that of the enemy. Ware seems to doubt whether the Irisli 
had a decided victory, and mentions a report that the Danes rallied at the 
close of the battle ; but the doubt which he raises merits no attention, 
seeing that even the Danish accounts admit the total rout, and the great 
slaughter of their own troops. The Scalds of Norway sang dismal strains 
about the conflict, which they always call " Brian's Battle ;" and a Scan- 
dinavian chieftain, who remained at home, is represented as inquiring 
from one of the few who had returned, what had become of his men? 
and receiving, for answer, " that all of them had fallen by the sword !" 
A cotemporary French chronicler describes the defeat of the Northmen 
as even more sanguinary than it really was, stating that all of them were 
slain, and that a number of their women threw themselves in despair int( 
the sea.* 

According to the Annals of Ulster, and other Irish authorities, there 
were among the slain on the side of the enemy, Maelmordha, son of 
Murchadh, king of Leinster; Brogovan, tanist of Hy-Falgia; Dunlaing, 
son of Tuathal, tanist of Leinster; DonnellO'Farrell,king of the Fortuaths 

• Ademar's Chronicle, as quoted above. Tliis writer adds what we know to be an error, that the 
battle lasted three days. Tlie preceding details of the battle of Cloiitarf are collected from 
Annals of Innisfallen, and other southern authorities, quoted by O'llalloran, Keating, &c., tba 
Annals of the Four Masters with O'Donovan's annotations : the Niula Saga, as given with a Latiu 
vei^ion in Johnstone's Anliqtiitafes L'elki-Saindicce •' and oilier sources. 


of Leinster; Duvgail, son of Amlave, and Gillakieran, son of Gluniam, 
two tanists of the Danes; Sigurd, son of Lodar; Brodar, who had killed 
Brian ; Ottir Duv ; Suartgar ; Duncha O'Herailv ; Grisane ; Luimni and 
Amlave, sons of Lagmainn, &c. 

Among the slain, on the Irish side, besides Brian, his son Morough, and 
his grandson Tui'lough, are mentioned Conaing, son of Doncuan, Brian's 
nephew; Cuduiligh, son of Kennedy; Mothla, lord of the Desies; 
Eocha, chief of the Clann Scannlain ; Niall O'Cuinn* — the three latter 
being the king's aides-de-camp or companions — Teige O'Kelly ; Mulro- 
ney O'Heyne ; Gevnach, son of Dugan ; Mac Beatha of Kerry Luachra, 
ancestor of the O'Conors-Kerry ; Donnell, lord of Corcabaiscin ; Dun- 
laing O'Hartagan; the great stewards Mar and Levin (Lennox), and 
many others. The annals add that Brian and Morough both lived to 
receive the last rites of the church,t and that their remains, together 
with the heads of Conaing and Mothla, were conveyed by the monks to 
Sord Columb Cille (Swords), and from thence, through Duleek and 
Louth, to Armagh, by Maelmuire (servant of Mary) the Coarb of St. 
Patrick ; and that their obsequies was celebrated for twelve days and 
nights with great splendour by the clergy of Armagh ; after which the 
body of Brian was deposited in a stone coffin on the north side of the 
high altar in the cathedral ; the body of his son being interred on the 
south side of the same church. The remains of Turlough, and of several 
of the other chieftains, were buried in the old church-yard of Kilmain- 
ham, commonly known as " Bully's Acre," where the shaft of an ancient 
Irish cross still marks the spot. 

The day after the battle, Donough, son of Brian, arrived with the 
spoils of Leinster, and met his brother Teige with the surviving Irish 
chieftains and the remains of their victorious army. He made rich 
presents to the clergy of Armagh, and to those of other churches ; and 
about Easter Monday the camp broke up, and the chiefs with their re- 
spective forces took each the road towards his own territory. It is related 
that while the Dalcassians were on their march home through the ter- 
ritory of Ossory, Mac Gillapatrick, the prince of that country, attempted 
to oppose their progress and demanded hostages ; but the sons of Brian, 
with their shattered battalion, prepared to give him battle; and the 
Dalcassians are said to have afforded on the occasion a memorable 

* Ancestor of the O'Quinns of Thomond, of whom the earl of Dunraven is the present head. — 

t Marianus Scotus thus records the death of Brian in his chronicles : — " Brian, king of Hibernia, 
slain on Good Friday, the Oih of the Calends of May (April 23rd), with his mind and his hands 
turned towards God." 


example of heroism. The wounded warriors were tied to stakes in the 
front ranks, each wounded man between two of his sound companions ; 
but the men of Ossory, appalled by so desperate a preparation for resist- 
ance, or moved by some more honorable feeling, refused to fi^'-ht ao-ainst 
such an enemy, and the heroes of Thomond were allowed to proceed in 

Soon after we read of fresh instances of discord in the southern 
province. The two Desmonian chiefs, Cian and Donnell, son of Duv- 
davoran, fought after their return from Clontarf, and the former, Avho 
was celebrated by the bards for his beauty and stature, was slain, toge- 
ther with some chiefs who were on his side ; while the folloAving year 
(1015), Donnell, who asserted his claim to the throne of all Munster 
even on the day after the battle of Clontarf, led an army to Limerick, 
where he was encountered and slain by the two sons of Brian, Donough 
and Teige. 

Meanwhile Malachy resumed the authority of monarch with the tacit 
consent of the Irish chiefs, and by his frequent and successful attacks 
on the Danes of Dublin, and his onslaughts on the people of Leinster and 
of other territories, in the assertion of his sovereignty, he proved that 
he still possessed energy enough to rule the country. A month before 
his death he gained an important victory over the Danes of Dublin, at 
Athbo}^, or the Yellow Ford of Tlachta, in Meath, and died a.d. 1022, 
in Cro Inis, an island of Lough Ennel in Westmeath, opposite the fort 
of Dun Sciath, which had been his residence ; having reigned eight years 
after the battle of Clontarf, and reached the seventy-third year of his age. 

The Annals of Clonmacnoise state that Malachy " vras the last king 
of L-eland of Irish blood that had the crown ; but that there were seven 
kings after without crown, before the coming of the English." Two of 
these kings, however, were acknowledged by the whole of Ireland. An 
interregnum of twenty years followed the death of Malachy, during part 
of which interval the country is stated, in some of the old annals, to have 
been governed by two learned men, " the one," say the Annals of 
Clonmacnoise, " called Cuan O'Lochan, a well learned temporal (lay) 
man, and chief poet of Ireland ; the other, Corcran Cleireach (the Cleric), 
a devout and holy man, that was anchorite of all Ireland, and whose 
most abiding was at Lismore. The land was governed like a free state, 
;ind not like a monarchy by them."* 

* Cuan O'Lochan was killed by the people of Teffia, in the year 102-1, and it is added in the 
.Vnnala of Kilronan •' tiiat his miirdeiers met tragical deaths, and that their bodies were not interred 
until the wolves and birds had preyed upon them ;" moreover, it was said L'wt their posterity w!^-^ 


As to the Danes, tlicir power, though not annihilated in tlie battle 
of Clontarf, was so crushed by that memorable victory that they 
never after attempted hostilities on a large scale in Ireland, and were 
content to hold their position chiefly as merchants in Dublin, and the 
other ports already occupied by them. Their inability to avail them- 
selves of the shattered and distracted condition in -which Ireland remained 
for a long time after that bloody conflict is the best proof of the fear- 
ful amount of loss which they there sustained. 

knoTvn by an offensive odour; this being what the Irish called a " poet's miracle," that is, a punish- 
ment drawn down by the malediction of a poet, or for an injury inflicted on a poet. Several of 
these " poetic miracles" are mentioned in the Irish annals of the middle ages. Three of the compo- 
sitions of Cuan O'Lochan are mentioned in O'Reilly's Irish Writers (p. 73) as still existing. His 
colleague, Corcran, survived him many years- 


state of Learning in Ireland during and after the Danish Wars. — Eminent 
Churchmen, Poets and Antiquaries. — Tighearnach and Marianus Scotus. — 
Irishmen Abroad in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries. The Monks of tho 
Middle Ages. — Causes of Ignorance and Disorganization. — Donough O'Brien 
in Rome. — Turlough O'Brien. — Progress of Connaught. — Wars of the North 
and South of Ireland. — Destruction of the Grianan of Aileach. — The Danes 
after Clontarf. — Invasion and Fate of King Magnus. — Eelations with England. 
— Letter of Pope Gregory VII. — Murtough O'Brien and the Church. — Re- 
markable Synods. — Abuses in the Irish Church. — Number of Bishops. — St. 
Bernard's Denunciations. — Palliations. — St. Malachy. — Misrepresentations. — 
Progress of Turlough O'Conor. — Death of St. Celsus. 


[Pope Gregory VII., from 1073 to 1085.— Henry IV., Emperor of the West, died HOG.— Saxon 
line restored in England under Edward the Cofnessor, 1042. — England conquered by the Nor- 
mans, 106G. — Philip the Fair, King of France, 1059.] 

{The Eleventh Century and First Thirty Years of the Twelfth.) 

URING the long reign of war and rapine which prevailed 
from the first coming of the Danes into Ireland till their 
great overthrow at Clontarf, and the gloomy pe^'iod of 
domestic disorganization which followed, it would be little 
wonder if learninghad quite disappeared from this country. 
That such, liOAvever, was not the case we have ample 
proofs in the frequent obituaries of men described in our 
authentic annals as eminent for learning as well as piety 
during that dreary lapse of ages ; in the constant revival of 
plundered monasteries and schools, which those chronicles 
4^V(|^3'^ record;, and in the number of distinguished Irishmen 
"^3/?"* who still continued to flourish in France, Germany, and 
other parts of the continent. It would be easy to make 
out a tolerably long list of the men who thus vindicate their age and 


country from the charge of barbarism, but a few names will suffice for 
our purpose. 

Beginning with the tenth century, which modem writers generally 
style the "darkest of the middle ages," we might commence our list with 
Cormac Mac Cuilennan, whose career has been already described in the 
proper place. We might also enumerate, among other names already 
mentioned, those of Cormacan Eigeas, the chief poet of Ulster in the 
time of Muirkertach O'Neill, whose memorable circuit he celebrated ; and 
of the lector Probus or Coenachair, the biographer of St. Patrick, who 
was burned by the Danes in a round tower at Slane. A little before 
this time, when the monastic institutions had been destroyed, and with 
them learning and religion almost wholly extinguished in England, a few 
Irish monks settled at Glastonbury, and for their support began to teach 
the rudiments of sacred and secular knowledge.* One of the earliest 
and tlie most illustrious of their pupils was the great St. Dunstan, who, 
under the tuition of these Irishm.en, became skilled in philosophy, 
painting, music, and other accomplishments, a proof that education had 
made considerable progress among the Irish monks. St. Cadroe, the son 
of a king of the Albanian Scots, was at the same time in Ireland, study- 
ing in the schools of Armagh, where he acquired a knowledge of arith- 
metic, astronomy, natural history, &c. And the name of Trian Saxon, 
then applied to one of the quarters of that city, shows that thus, long 
before the English invasion, it must have been frequented by a large 
number of Saxon students.f St. Maccallin, an Irishman, flourished in 
France at the same period, as did also another St. Columbanus, an Irish 
saint, whose memory has been preserved w^ith great venei'ation in 
Belgium. In the same centuiy Duncan, an Irish bishop, taught in the 
monastery of St. Remigius, at Rheims, and wrote, for the use of his 
students, some works, of which two, on the liberal arts, and on geography, 
are still extant. 

At home, poetrj^, especially as applied to history, was a favorite pm'- 
suit. Kenneth O'Hartagan, who died in 975, is described as a famous 
poet of Leath Cuinn, and many of his compositions are to be found in 
Irish MS. collections. Eochy OTlynn, who died in 984, has left us 

♦These were the "viri sanctissiini, prrecipue Iliberaici," of whom Camden writes, who, in 
process of time, received a salary from the king and educated youth in piety and tiie liberal arts. 
'■They embraced a solitary life that they mii;ht devote themselves more tranquilly to sacred 
literature, and by their austerities they accustomed themselves to can-y the cross." — Brit. p. 193, 
London, 1600. Glastoiibur}-, according to Camden, was anciently called "the first land of the 
^aints in England." 

t Annals of the Four Masters, ad. an. 1092 ; Colgaii, Trias Thaum. 


several historical poems of merit He is frequently quoted as an 
authority for accounts of the early colonists of Ireland ; having on these 
subjects embodied in his verses traditions of an age much older than his 
own. The names of ]\Iac Liag, the secretary of Brian Borumha ; and of 
Cuan O'Lochan, one of the co-regents of Ireland, have been already 
introduced in these pages ; and following up the list of those who belong 
to this class, we have Flann IVIainistreach, the abbot of Monasterboice, 
who died in 1056, and Giolla Keevin, who died in 1072 ; both famous as 
bardic chroniclers, many of wdiose productions still siu'vive. 

The most accurate and judicious of our ancient annalists was Tigher- 
nach (Tiernach), abbot of Clonmacnoise, who wrote the Annals of 
Ireland from the reign of Cimbaeth, that is, from about the year before 
Christ, 305, to the period of his death, in 1088. His compilation, which 
is partly in Latin and partly in Irish, evinces a familiarity with Greek 
and Roman writers that is highly creditable to the Irish monk of that 
age. It is remarkable that cotemporary with this eminent domestic 
chronicler another Irishman, celebrated in the same department of litera- 
ture, flomrished abroad; the famous Marianus Scotus — whose great 
chronicles are the most perfect composition of the kind which the middle 
ages produced — having died in 1086, two years before his countryman 
Tighernach. National vanity induced some Scottish writers to claim 
Marianus as their countryman, but without a shadow of foundation.* 
The name is the usual Latin form of Maelmuire, " the servant of 
j\Iary," a name then common in Ireland; and there is reason to 
believe that the famous chronographer was first a monk of Clonard, 
in Meath. Having gone, as many learned Irishmen did in his time, to 
Germany, he first entered the Irish convent near Cologne, but subse- 
quently became a recluse at Fulda, and Avas finally sent by his superiors 
to Metz, where he died. The existence of such men as Marianus Scotus 
and Tighernach, in the eleventh century, are facts of great importance 
for their age and country. 

When St. Fingen, an Irishman, who succeeded the Albanian Scot, St. 
Cadroe, as abbot of the monastery of St. Felix, at Metz, was also invested, 
in 991, with the government of the monastery of St. Symphorian in that 
city, it was ordered by the bishop that none but Irish monks should be 

* See the authorities on this point collected by Lanigan, vol. iii., pp. 417, 448, and iv. pp. 5, 7, 8. 
When Henry IV. of England urged the authority of Marianus in upport of his claim to the crowu 
of Scotland, as Edward I. had done before, the Scottisli States replied that the writer was a 
Hibernian not an Albanian Scot. Marianus is the first who is known to have applied the name of 
Scotia to the modern Scotland, which was previously only called Alba, an appellation which, in 
this form, or in that of Alijuiun, or Albainn, has evor been the only Celtic name for North Britain. 


admitted into this latter house, while they could be found ; but when 
these failed the monks of other nations might be received.* The mon- 
astery of St. Martin, on the Rhine, near Cologne, was made over to tlie 
Irish for ever, in 975 ; and several other monasteries, either wholly or 
partially occupied by Irish monks, such as those of Erfurt, Fulda, &c., 
are known to have existed at that period in Germany and the Nether- 
lands. Some Irishmen were associated with a community of Greek 
monks established at Toul, in France, by the bishop, St. Gerard, and are 
stated to have joined them in the performance of the Church service in 
the Greek language.! 

St. Dunchadh, abbot of Clonraacnoise, who died at Armagh, in 988, 
and was held there in great veneration, is said by Tighernach to have 
been the last of the Irish saints who resuscitated the dead.| St. Aedh, 
or Hugh, lector of Trevet, in Meath, died at Armagh, in 1004, after 
affording for many years a bright example of holiness of life ; and, under 
the date 1018, is recorded the death of St. Gormghal of Ardoilean, the 
remains of whose humble oratory and cloghan cell are still to be seen on 
that rocky islet, amid the surges of the Atlantic, off the wild coast of Con- 
nemara.§ Did we not bear in mind the fact, that such men as these — and 
many others like them might be enumerated — lived, and taught, and, 
prayed at that period, we would be apt, in wading tlirough the chaos of 
war and anarchy which the chronicles of the tenth and eleventh centuries 
present, to think that it was indeed the age of utter darkness and 
barbarism, which some writers unjustly represent it to have been.]] 

Whether ignorance and vice prevailed on the continent to a greater 
extent before Charlemagne, or after that great monarch's reforms 
became obliterated in the tenth century, is a matter of discussion. In 
the former case they were produced by the deluge of barbarism from 

* See a coi»y of the original diploma to that effect, published by Colgan, with the Acts of St. 
Fiiigen in the AA. SS. Ilib. p. 258. 

t This curious fact is mentioned by the Benedictines in their Histoire Literaire. 

X In the Acts of St. Dauchadh it is stat"d that the miracle of restoring a dead child to life waj 
performed through his pi avers. AA. SS. IJib. Jan. 10. 

§ St. Gormghal is called " chief aumchara of Ireland." The word anmchara means "spiritual 
director," and is not to be confounded with angcore "an anchorite or recluse." 

II It maj' be well to remind some readers, that war, rapine, and social confii.«ion make up the 
great bulk of the history of other countries as v.ell that of Ireland, during the ages of which 
we are here treating. In those turbulent times, the sole conservators of human knowledge as well 
as of religion in Christendom (for we except the Arabs), were the much abused monks; and 
tliose who ungratefully blame these for having kept all knowledge to themselves, forget that 
this was not the monks' fault. The laity were too intent upon war and other pursuits, and des|)ised 
learning too much to devote attention to it; and the alternative was, the preservation of literature 
by ecclesiastics, or its final exiincuon. 


the north and east, and they resulted in the latter from the rank 
growth of the feudal system with its abuses. 

In Ireland disorganising agencies, analogous though not identical 
nor cotemporary, were in operation. Thus, although Ireland was not 
conquered by barbarians, the Danish wars which raged without inter- 
mission for two centuries were well calculated to produce the same ruin- 
ous results ; and if the feudal system did not exist, one equally pregnant 
with political mischief prevailed. The numerous small and independent 
principalities into which the island was parcelled out were perpetually 
engaged in mutual strife. They formed daily new complications ; and 
as they increased in strength a central controlling power became more 
and more impracticable, and if raised up occasionally by force of arms, 
required incessant recourse to the same violent means to enforce even 
a formal recognition of its authority. Such, unhappily, was the state 
of things which prevailed without amelioration from the death of 
Malachy II. to the coming of the English in the latter part of the 
twelfth century. 

Donough, son of Brian Borumha, having, by the defeat of the Des- 
monians, and subsequently by the death of his brother, Teige (who was 
in 1023, treacherously slain, at his instigation, by the people of Ely 
O'Carroll), obtained the undisputed sovereignty of Munster, marched an 
army northward, and took the hostages of Meath, Bregia, Ossory, and 
Leinster. This was a step towards asserting his claim to the sovereignty 
of all Ireland ; but his cotemporary, Dermot Mac Mael-na-mbo, king of 
Leinster, had a superior title to that honor.* Donough assembled a 
meeting of the clergy and chieftains of Munster at Killaloe, in the year 
1050, to pass laws for the protection of life and property, against which 
outrages had been rendered more frequent in consequence of a dearth 
which then prevailed; and in 1063, being defeated in battle by his 
nephew Turlough, son of Teige, who was aided by the forces of Con- 
naught and Leinster, he went on a pilgrimage to Rome, where he died 
the following year, after doing penance for the crime of implication 
ill his brother's murder. It is stated that he took with him to Rome 

* Connell jNIageoghegan, in his translation of the Annals of Clonmacnoise, a.i>. 1041, says: — 
"The kings, or chief nionarchs of Ireland, wen} re|)Uted to be absolute (suiirfcniu)monarchs in this 
manner : if he were of Leigli-Con, or Con's halfe in deale, and one province in Leath-Moj'e, or 
Moy's lialfc in deale, at his command, he was couuiptid to be of sufficient power to be king of 
Taragh, or Ireland; but if the party were of Leath-Moye, if he could not command all Leath- 
Moye and Taragh, -with the lordbhipp thcriunto belonging, and the province of Ulster or Connought 
(if not both) he would not be thought sullicient to be king of all. Derniott Mac Moylenemo 
coii'd command Leath-Moye, Meath, Connought, and Ulster, and therefore, ny the jucigmcni; of an. 
he was reputed sullkieut monarch of the whole" (of Ireland^. 


the crown of Ireland, probably the same which hao: been worn by his 
father, and that he presented it to the pope ; and it is added, but not 
on good authority, that this crown was given by Pope Adrian to 
Henry II., on the occasion of that king's invasion of Ireland. 

Turlough O'Brien now became the most potent among the Ii'ish 
princes, and on the death of Dermot MacMael-na-mbo, who was killed 
in battle, together with a number of his allies or vassals, the Danes of 
Dublin, by the king of Meath, in 1072, the Dalcassian king was regarded 
as his successor in the rank of monarch of Ireland. Turlough proceeded 
to assert his authority by exacting hostages from the other kings ; but 
in 1075 he received a check from the men of the north, at Ardee. At 
this time the Mac Loughlins, a bi'anch of the Hy-Nialls of TjTone, 
reigned at Aileach, and the O'Melaghlins in Meath. The former 
retained their traditional character for indomitable braver}^, and could 
rarely be compelled to admit the supremacy of any southern prince. 

The power of Connaught had of late made considerable advances 
under the O'Conors ; and Rory, or Roderic O'Conor, its present king, 
having evinced an aspiring disposition, Turlough O'Brien was resolved 
to humble him, and for that purpose led a powerful army into Con- 
naught, in 1079, plundered the country as far as Croagh Patrick, and 
expelled Rory from his kingdom. Next year he led an army to Dublin, 
where the people of Meath, who were accompanied by the successor of 
St. Patrick, bearing the staff of Jesus, made their submission to him ; 
and he appointed his son, Murtough, lord of the Danes of Dublin, a 
position which had some time before been held by a prince of Leinster. 
As to Rory O'Conor, after carrying on several petty wars successfully, 
he at length (1012) fell into the hands of the O'Flaherties of West 
Connaught, who always resisted the authority of the O'Conor family, 
and was by them treacherously blinded, the barbarous practice of that 
age being to put out the eyes of captive princes, in order to unfit them 
to command. 

Turlough O'Brien* was succeeded by his son Murtough, who subse- 
quently became king of all Ireland ; but in the mean time that honor 
devolved upon another prince ; for in 1090 a great meeting took place 
between Donnell, son of Mac Loughlin, king of Aileach; Murtough 

* A ludicrous 8tory is told by the Four Masters of the remote cause of Turlough O'Brien's death, 
■t is said that after an old enemy, Conor O'Melaghlin, king of Meath, had been killed, and his 
remains deposited at Clonmacnoise, Turlough ordered the head of the dead man to be taken away 
forcibly from the church and brought to him. While feasting his eyes on that grim object, a 
mouse issued from it, and leaped into his bosom, and this gave him such a shock that be became 
ill, his hair fell off, and he remained in bad health from that time (1073) until death in 108(j. 


O'Brien, king of Cashel ; Donnell O'Melaghlin, king of Meath ; and 
Rorv O'Conor, king of Connaught, besides other princes ; and it was 
agreed that the king of Aileach should be acknowledged lord para- 
mount, and hostages were accordingly delivered to him as such by the 
other kings and chieftains. 

The peace thus brought about was, however, of short duration, if 
indeed there were any tranquil interval at all ; for the provinces not 
only continued at war with each other, but were split up by internal 
divisions ; and more than once, about this time, the church threw itself 
into the breach between opposing armies, and caused a truce to be made. 
A pestilence raged in 1095, and a great part of the following year was 
spent in fasting and works of charity, in order to avert a mysterious 
scourge from heaven which the nation believed to be impending. Don- 
nell O'Loughlin and the Clann O'Neill invaded the Ulidians in 1099, and 
there is an account of a decisive cavalry battle between them, in which 
the latter were defeated ; while Murtough O'Brien had some trouble in 
contendino- ^vith the Connau^htmen on one side, and with an insur- 
rection of his own relatives, the sons of Teige O'Brien, on the other. 

But the great struggle was between the south and the north, and 
Murtough directed all his resources and his great military ability to the 
one object of establishing his own power as monarch of Ireland. Twice 
— in 1097 and 1099 — did the archbishop of Armagh and the clergy of 
Ireland interpose between the two armies, when face to face, to avert the 
threatened blow ; but Murtough was not to be diverted from his pur- 
pose. In 1100 he brought a fleet, chiefly composed of Danish ships, to 
Derry, but O'Loughlin succeeded in destroying them ; and the following 
year (1101), a twelve months' truce which the clergy had negotiated 
having expired, Murtough led a powerful army, composed of hostings 
from all the other provinces, to the north, and devastated the whole of 
Inis Eoghain, without meeting any opposition. He demolished the 
palace or stronghold of the northern Hy-Nialls, called the Grianan of 
Aileach,* in revenge for a similar act of hostility inflicted on O'Brien's 
palace of Kincora, by O'Loughlin, several years before ; and to raze it 
the more effectually, he commanded that in every sack which had been 
used to carry provisions for the army, a stone of the demolished building 
should be placed, that the materials of it might be conveyed to Limerick. 
Murtough next took the hostages of Ulidia and returned to the south, 

* The remains of tliis celebrated stronghold are still visible on the summit of a small hill in the 
county of Donegal, about four and a-half miles X.W. of the city of Londouderry, and are called 
Greenaii Ely. — Urdiiunce Survey cf Londondeii-y. 


having made the entire circuit of Ireland, as the annals tell us, in six 
weeks, without encountering any army to dispute his progress. 

The reader has observed that the overthrow of the Danes at Clontarf 
by no means implied their expulsion from Ireland. They still continued 
to hold Dublin and the other maritime cities previously occupied by them ; 
but chiefly in the capacity of merchants. Their subsequent predatory 
inroads were few; one of the last being in 1031, when they burned the 
great church of Ardbraccan, in Meath, together with 200 persons who 
had sought refuge in it, and carried off 200 more as captives. Afterwards 
these acts of aggression on their part were rare. The Danes of Dublin 
sent, at different times, expeditions against their countrymen in Waterford 
and Cork, which shewed that they had ceased to co-oj^erate as a nation ; 
and at length their lords or kings were occasionally expelled by the 
Irish, and Irish princes substituted for them.* 

The Northmen, nevertheless, had not yet abandoned their old idea of 
conquering Irelaiid. Godfrey Crovan took possession of Dublin and 
part of Leinster, for a time, and a new expedition was set on foot by 
Magnus, king of Norway, after he had subdued the Danes of the Ork- 
neys and of the Isle of Man, about the jeav of 1101. It is related in 
the Chronicle of Man, that Magnus sent his shoes to Mm*tough O'Brien, 
king of Ireland, commanding him, in token of subjection, to carry them 
on his shoulders, in his house, on Christmas day. The news of so inso- 
lent a messatre roused the indignation of the Irish; but Murtouo-h, 
according to this very improbable story, entertained the Norwegian 
ambassadors sumptuously; told them he would not only carry their 
master's shoes, but eat them rather than that one province of Ireland 
should be laid waste by an invasion; and having complied with the 
haughty demand of the barbarian, dismissed his messengers with rich 
presents. The report made by the ambassadors only strengthened the 
desire of Magrnus to obtain a footino; in Ireland. He made a truce of 
one year with king Murtough, the hand of whose daughter he obtained 
in marriage for his son Sigurd; but all his ambitious projects were 
frustrated the following year (1103); for, on landing to explore the 
country, he and his party were cut off by the Ulidians, after some hard 
fighting, and his remains were respectfully interred near St. Patrick's 
church, in Down.j 

* It would appear that in the beginning of the eleventh century Ireland gave a king to Norway, 
in tlie person of Harold Gille, who was an Irishman. See Dr. Latham's Kelts and North men. 

t Mr. Moore (Hist, of Ireland, vol. ii. p 127) contrasting the resistance which the Danes 
encountered in Ireland, with the ineffective efforts made against them in England, says : — " T he 
very same year (that of the battle of Clontarf), which saw Ireland [ouring forth her assembled 


We meet many instances of intercourse witli England during the 
period of -which we have been lately treating. Driella, daughter of 
earl Godwin and sister of Editha, the queen of Edward the Confessor, 
was married to Doiiough O'Brien, tho Irish king; and during the 
rebellion of Godwin and his sons against king Edward, Harold, one of 
the sons, afterwards king of England, took refuge in Ireland. He 
remained during a winter with his brother-in-law, Donough, who gave 
him, on his return to England, nine ships to aid him in his enterprise. 
The Irish lent assistance in several other feuds of the Anglo-Saxons at 
this period. Lanfranc, the great archbishop of Canterbury, appears to 
have directed a watchful eye towards the Church of Ireland. He 
heard of iiTegularities of discipline, which gave him much uneasiness, 
and as he was in constant intercourse with the Danish bishops of 
Ireland, who had gone to him for consecration and promised obedience 
to him, the accounts which he received were sure not to diminish the 
evil. Lanfranc WTote an earnest epistle on the subject to king 
Turlough O'Brien, addressing him as the king of Ireland, and lauding 
his virtues as a Christian prince in flattering and encouraging terms. 
The greaii Pope Gregory VII. also honored king Turlough with a letter, 
published, as well as the last-mentioned one, in Ussher's Sylloge, and 
addre^ed him as " the illustrious king of Ireland." It is stated in 
Hanmer's Chronicle that William Bufus obtained from Turlough 
O'Brien a quantity of oak timber for the roof of Westminster Hall, and 
that the trees cut down for the purpose grew on Oxmantown Green, 
then in the nortliern suburbs of Dublin, but now forming part of the 
city. A deputation of the nobles of Man and other islands waited on 
Murtough O'Brien, and solicited him to send them a king, and he 
accordingly sent his nephew, Donnell, wdio, however, was soon expelled 

princes and clans to confront the invader on the sea-shove, and there make of his mj'riads a warning 
example to all future intruders, beheld England unworthily cowering under a similar visitation, 
her king a fugitive from the scourge in foreign lands, and her nobles purchasing, by inglorious 
tribute, a short respite from aggression ; and while, in the English annals for this year, we find 
little else than piteous lamentations over the fallen and broken spirit both of rulers and people, in 
the records of Ireland the only sorrows wliich appear to have mingled with the general triumpli 
are those breathed at the tombs of the veteran monarch and the numerous chieftains who fell in 
that struggle by his side." 

And William of Newbury, an old English historian, >vho was born in the year 113G, candidly 
says: — " It is a matter of wonder that Britain, which is of larger extent, and equally an island of 
the ocean, should have been so often, by the chances of war, made the prey of foreign nations, and 
suljected to foreign rule, having been first subdued and possessed by the Humans, then by the 
Germans, afterwards by the Danes, and lastly by the Xormans ; while her neighbour, Iliberiii.i. 
inaccessible to the Romans themselves, even when the Orkneys were in their power, has been but 
rarely, and then imperfectly, subdued; nor ever, in reality, has been brought to submit to foreign 
domination, till the year of our Lord 1171." — Rerun AngJ. I. 2. c. xxxi. 


on account of liis tyranny ; while another Donnell O'Brien, his cousin, 
vras, at the same time, lord of the Danes of Dublin. 

Among the high qualities which marked the character of Miu'tough 
O'Brien were his attachment to religion and his generosity to the 
church. In the year 1101 he summoned a meeting of the clergy and 
chiefs of Leath Mogha, to give due solemnity to an act of extraordinary 
munificence — namely,, that of granting the city of Cashel-of-the-kings 
for ever to the religious of Ireland, free from all dues and from all lay 
authority — a grant, say the annalists, " such as no king had ever made 
before." The words in which the gift is recorded would seem to imply 
that the royal city was given to the monastic orders exclusively. 

In 1111 a synod was convened at Fidh-Aengussa, or Aengus's Grove, 
described by Colgan as near the hill of Uisneach, in Westmeath. It was 
attended by 50 bishops, 300 priests, and 3,000 other ecclesiastics; and 
also by Murtough O'Brien, king of Leath Mogha, and by the nobles of 
his provinces. Among the heads of the clergy were St. Celsus, or 
Ceallach, archbishop of Armagh, and Maelmuire, or iMarianus O'Dunain, 
archbishop of Cashel, who is styled " most noble senior of the clergy of 
Ireland;" the object of the synod being "to institute rules of life and 
manners for clergy and people." There is also mention of a synod of 
Rathbreasail held about this time, the particular year not being specified, 
nor the place identified by its ancient name.* The abuses in matters of 
discipline which had grown out of old customs, and which the secluded 
position of Ireland had gradually allowed to extend themselves, had 
begun to give much uneasiness at this time in the Irish church. One 
of these abuses was the excessive multiplication of the episcopal dignity, 
owing to the custom of creating chorepiscopi or rural bishops; and a 
principal object of the synod or synods in question was to limit the 
number of prelates and define the bounds of dioceses. It was decided that 
there should be but twenty- four bishops and archbishops : that is, twelve 
in the northern and twelve in the southern half of Ireland ; but this 
regulation was not carried out for some time. The diocese of Cashel, 
as well as that of Armagh, was, at that time, fully recognised as archie- 
piscopal, and the successor of St. Jarlath was sometimes called archbishop 
of Connaught, although the formal recognition of the see of Tuam as 
an archbishopric did not take place until several years after. 

* It is said that Gilbert, bishop of Limerick, and first legate apostolic in Irelan.l, presided on this 
latter occasion ; but although Dr. Lanigan holds the contrary opinion, it has been conjectured witli 
great probability that the synods of Fidh-Acngussa, or rather Fidh-niic-Aengussa, and Rathbreasil 
are one and the same. — Eccl. Eist, of Ireland, thap, xxv., sec. xiii. ; also Dr. Kellj 's edition of 
Cambrin»i$ Eversui, toL iii., pp. 53 and 783. 


Besides the practice of imiiecessarily multiplying bishops, -which was 
one that had been abolished in otlier churches centuries before this time, 
the more serious abuse prevailed in Ireland of allowing laymen to intrude 
themselves into church dignities, and to assume the title and revenues 
of bishops. These men, as we have already explained when treating of 
coarbs or cpmorbans, were obliged to transfer to ecclesiastics regularly 
ordained and consecrated, the functions of the sacred offices which 
they usurped. We have no reason to believe that the practice was a 
general one ; but we are told that in the church of Armagh there was a 
succession of eight lay and manied intruders usurping the title of 
St. Patrick's successors. The father was succeeded by his son, and the 
highest dignity in the Irish church was treated as a mere temporal 
inheritance. Some other corruptions of discipline had also crept in; 
such as the practice of consecrating bishops without the assistance of 
more than one prelate ; and some irregularities in contracting marriage 
within prohibited degrees of kindred and affinity, and also in the form 
of marriage. But on these subjects our principal source of information 
is St. Bernard's Life of St. Malachy ; and it is now universally admitted 
that as the illustrious abbot of Clairvaux knew nothing about Ireland or 
its usages, except what he learned from a few Irishmen wdio described to 
him partial or isolated abuses, and was besides an unsparing and zealous 
denouncer of all corruptions, he allowed his horror of everything that 
infringed upon the sanctity of religion to carry him too far in his 
description of the state of religion and morals in Ireland as they were 
found there by his friend St. Malachy. 

The history of the Irish church during the twelfth century, into which 
we have now entered, is replete with the deepest interest. The abuses 
which cast over it a temporary shade are to be deplored ; but in the lives 
of such illustrious men as St. Celsus, St. jMalachy, St. Gelasius, and St. 
Laurence O'Toole, we find an abundant source of consolation, These 
holy men were raised up at a favorable moment to crush the evil, and 
imder Providence they restored to the cliurch of Ireland much of its 
pristine lustre. 

When St. Malachy undertook the care of the diocese of Connor, he 
found, it is true, a most deplorable relaxation of discipline prevailing; 
but it would be no wonder if the perpetual warfare, in which that and 
some other portions of Ireland were more especially involved dui'ing that 
tiu'bulent period, had quite disorganized society. The monstrous abuse, 
too, of tolerating laymen in the sec of St. Patrick, and that on the mere 
right of inheritance, may well have filled such a mind as that of St. 


Bernard with inexpressible grief and horror; yet, such was the effect of 
usage upon men's opinions, that we find these very lay intruders men- 
tioned by our annalists — themselves ecclesiastics — without any marked 
condemnation, and generally as having performed exemplary penance be- 
fore their death. We may, therefore, seek for some charitable palliation 
of the usage in the insolence of the few powerful families who, in that 
rude age, were guilty of the usurpation.* St. Anselm, the great arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, in his correspondence with the prelates of the 
south of Ireland, and with king Murtough O'Brien, in the years 1095 
and 1100, although he evinces extreme anxiety for the interests of 
religion, indicating that there were some irregularities to be reformed, 
still compliments the king on his excellent administration, and passes a 
high eulogium upon those bishops of whom he seems to have had any 
knowledge, namely, those of the southern dioceses.t We may, indeed, 
from this and many other circumstances, conclude, that the evils of 
which St. Bernard so eloquently complained, were at least not so general 
as his denunciations would imply, and did not continue for any 
lengthened period. It should be also observed that they have reference 
solely to matters of discipline and morality, and by no means to faith 
or doctrine. So that we must be on our guard against two very grievous 
misrepresentations of which the Irish church of the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries has been the object; fhst, that there was some deviation from 
the faith of the Catholic or Roman church in Ireland at that time ; and, 
secondly, that the moral disorders which it must be admitted did exist, 
were general, or continued down to the time of the English invasion X 

Resuming our civil history, and passing in silence over a number of 
petty wars, in which many districts, especially in the centre of Ireland, 
were desolated, Ave find that Murtough O'Brien was seized with illness, 
which in 1114 compelled him to retire from active life. His brother, 
Dermot, an ambitious man, took the opportunity to declare himself king 

* This abuse was not confined to Ireland. A canon of the Council of London was fiamed 
against a precisely similar abuse in 1125; and in tlie time of Cambrensis there were lay abbots in 
Wales who took all the real property of the monasteries into their own hands, leaving the clergy 
only the altars and their dues, and placing children or relatives of their own in the church for the 
purpose of enjoying even these. — liln. Cambr., b. c. 4. 

I See this correspondence printed in Ussher's Syllogz. 

% The former of these charges is the mere suggestion of s -ctarian \i\.\s, v.iiliout any foundation. 
Thus it is falsely pretended that it was St. Malachy who actually brought the Irish church into commu- 
nion with Rome, and that this arrangement was only made effective by Cardinal Paparo at the 
Synod of Kells in 1152. The other charge has been made by various writers who look it up at second- 
hand, and were actuated by unfriendly feelings towards Ireland. Dr. Milner, in particular, in his 
work on Ireland, fell into the injurious error of supposing that the English on their airival here 
foimd the abuses of which St. Bernard complained half a century before still prevalent. 


of Munster ; but this act recalled from liis retreat Murtough. wlio altlioiioli 
reduced hy age and sickness to the appearance of a skeleton, put 
himself at the head of his army, caused his unnatural brother to be made 
prisoner, and marched once more into Leinster and Bregia. This, how- 
ever, was a last and feeble effort. He was obliged to relinquish the 
kingdom to his brother ; and retiring into the monastery of Lismore, 
where he embraced the ecclesiastical state, he died in 1119. His old 
competitor, Donnell O'Loughlin, survived him two years, and in 1120 
led an army in defence of the king of Meath against the forces of Con- 
naught; when, feeling his end approach, he retired into the Columbian 
monastery of Deny, and after penitential exercises, died there the fol- 
lowing year, in the 73rd year of his age. It is remarkable that, although 
the power of his southern rival was, at least for many years, more 
extensively recognized than his, still O'Loughlin receives the title of 
king of Ireland more generally from the annalists; so much did the 
legitimate principle weigh with the Irish in favor of the ancient 
royal house of Hy-Niall. The contest betvreen these two princes was 
never regularly fought out; for even in 1113, the last time they con- 
fronted each other at the head of their respective armies, St. Celsus, 
archbishop of Armagh, with the crozier of St. Patrick, interposed, and 
brought about a truce. 

Two other princes who had played, important parts in Irish affairs 
also closed their career in an exemplary manner about this time. These 
were Rory O'Conor, who had been king of Connaught, but who having 
been blinded by the O'Flaherties many years before, entered into reli- 
gion in the monastery of Clonmacnoise, and died therein 1118; and 
Teige Mac Carthy, king of Desmond, who died at Cashel, in 1124, after 
affording many proofs of earnest piety. 

A nev/ set of characters now appear on the stage of Irisli history. Of 
these, the leading part was taken by Turlough or Turdelvach O'Conor, 
son of the above-mentioned Rory, who found a clear stage for his ambi- 
tion, and made rapid strides in raising himself to the sovereignty of 
Ireland. He plundered Thomond as far as Limerick in 1116, when Der- 
mot O'Brien was able to mal^e but a feeble resistance, trying to avenge 
himself by an inroad into Connaught during Turlough's absence. In 
1118, Turlough O'Conor, aided by Murrough O'Melaghliu, kingof Meath, 
and Hugh O'Rourke, lord of Breffiiy, led an army as far as Gleann- 
Maghair (Glanmire), near Cork, and divided Munster, giving Desmond 
to Mac Carthy, and Thomond to the sons of Dermot O'Brien, and car- 
Tjing off hostages from both. He endeavoured to crush the power of 


O'Brien by exalting tliat of the Eoglianaclits or Desmonian family, who 
had been excluded since the time of Brian Borumha. He then marched 
Avithout delay to Dublin, and took hostages from the Danes, from 
Ossory, and from Leinster, liberating Donnell, son of the king of Meath, 
whom the Danes held in captivity. The following year he scoured the 
Shannon with a fleet, hurled the royal palace of Kincora into the river, 
" both stones and timber," and remained there some time with his numer- 
ous allies, of Ossory, Leinster, and Dublin, consuming the provisions of 
Munster. These extreme acts of sovereign authority, or rather of unre- 
sisted aggression, were followed by others, such as the expulsion of his 
late ally and father-in-law, Murrough O'Melaghlin, from Meath, in 1120; 
the wholesale plundering of Desmond, from Traigh Li (Tralee) to the 
termon, or sanctuary land of Lismore, in 1121 ; and the giving of the 
kingdom of Dublin, as it was called, to his OAvn son, Conor, in 1126 ; all 
the intermediate time being devoted to various acts of hostility which it 
is needless to enumerate. " There was," say the annalists, " a great 
storm of war throughout Ireland in general, so that Ceallach (St. Celsus) 
successor of Patrick, was obliged to be for one month and a year absent 
from Ard Macha, establishing," or rather endeavouring to establish, 
" peace among the men of Ireland, and promulgating rules and good 
customs everywhere among the laity and clergy." 

In 1127, Turlough O'Connor led his forces, both by sea and land, to 
Cork, and driving Cormac Mac Carthy from his kingdom, divided Mun- 
ster into three parts. Cormac retired to Lismore, -where it is supposed 
by some that he assumed holy orders, being a prince of a religious dispo- 
sition :* but beins indeed to leave his retreat he resumed the reins of 
government on Turlough's withdrawal, and his brother, Donough, who 
had been placed on the throne by that king, fled to his patron in Con- 
naught, with 2,000 followers. 

At length (1128) a years truce between Connaught and Munster was 
made by St. Celsus ; and the following year that holy archbishop, worn 
out by his austerities and indefatigable labors in the cause of religion 
and peace, although only fifty years of age, died at Ardpatrick, in the 
southern part of the present county of Limerick, where he was on his 
visitation ; and his remains, having been conveyed to Lismore, were 
interred there in the cemetery of the bishops.f 

*He is called St. Cormac by Lynch. — Camhrensis Eversus, cliap. xxi. 

t Bishop Maelcolum O'Brolcban of Armagh, who died in 1122, in the reputation of sanctity, 
and who is usually described as the suffragan or coadjutor of St. Celsus, had been, no doubt, one of 
the acting bishops who officiated for the lay intruders during their incumbency 


In the year 1129 the great church of Clonmacnoise Avas robbed of 
several objects of yalue, among which was a model of Solomons Tem- 
ple, presented by a prince of Mcath, and a silver chalice plated with 
gold, and beautifully engraved with her own hand, by a sister of king 
Turlouo;h O'Conor. The enumeration of the articles stolen affords an 
illustration of the taste and luxury displayed by Irish princes in objects 
of domestic use or ornament, and of the accomplishments of an Irish 
princess. The robber was a Dane of Limerick, who having been 
arrested while attempting to escape from the country, was hanged for 
the crime the following year. 

Having now approached the eve of the most eventful epoch of Irish 
history, that of the Anglo-Norman invasion, we shall reserve for the 
next chapter a summary of the events which may explain the circum- 
stances, moral and political, in which the country was found on that 


St. Malacliy. — His Early Career. — His Eeforms in the Diocese of Connor, — His 
"Withdrawal to Kerry. — His Government of the Church of Armagh. — His 
Retirement to Down. — Struggle of Conor O'Brien and Turlough O'Conor. — 
Synod at Cashel. — Cormae's Chapel. — Death of Cormac Mac Carthy. — Tur- 
lough O'Conor's Rigour to his Sons. — Crimes and Tyranny of Dermot Mac 
Murrough. — St. Malachy's Journey to Rome. — Building of Mellifont. — Synod 
of Inis Padraig. — The Palliums. — St. Malachy's Second Journey and Death. 
— Political State of Ireland. — Arrival of Cardinal Paparo. — Synod of Kclls. — 
Misrepresentations Corrected. — The Battle of Moin-Mor. — Famine arising 
from Civil "War in Munster, — Dismemberment of Meath. — Elopement of Der- 
vorgil. — Battle of Rahin. — A IS'aval Engagement. — Death of Turlough 
O'Conor, and Accession of Roderic. — Synod of Mellifont. — Synod of Bri-Mic- 
Taidhg. — Wars and Ambition of Roderic. — St. Laurence O'Toole. — Synod of 
Clane. — Zeal of the Irish Hierarchy. — Death of O'Loughiin. — Roderic O'Conor 
Monarch. — Expulsion of Dermot Mac Murrough. — Great Assembly at Athboy. 


f Popes: Innocent IT., Celestine II., Lucius II., Eugenius III., Anastasius IV., Adrian TV. 
—Kings of England : Stephen, 1135. Henry II., 1154.— King of France: Louis VIT., 1137]. 

(a.d. 1130 ioA.V. 1168.) 

T. CELSUS, or Cealiacli, tlie arcliLisliop of Armagh, 
altlioiigh a member of the usurping family, was deeply 
impressed ■\vitli the enormous irregularity of making the 
see a family inheritance; and desired by his will that 
St. Malachy should be chosen his successor. This latter 
holy personage (whose name in Irish was Maelmaedhog 
O'Morgair) was known to St. Celsus from his youth. 
He belonged to a noble family, although it is believed 
that his father filled the office of lector, or professor, in 
the school of Armagh. The account of his early training 
under the abbot Imar O'Hagan, of Armagh, shows that 
sufficient resources for the pious and enlightened educa- 
tion of youth had still survived the past centuries of foreign 
invasion and domestic tumult in Ireland. While yet a 
young man he undertook the restoration of the famous monastery of 


Bangor, of which only a few crumbling ruins then remained, the abbey 
lands being possessed by a layman who enjoyed the title of abbot. St. 
Malachy associated with himself a few religious men, and having con- 
structed a small oratory of timber, they entered into the true spirit of 
monastic life. Soon, however, this tranquil existence was interrupted 
by his election as bishop of Connor; and the episcopal duties which he 
was compelled to assume were of the most arduous natiu'e, as he found 
his diocese in a deplorable state of disorder. In fact, little more than 
the traces of religion were left among the people ; but St. Malachy went 
zealously to work, and by God's blessing, and the assistance of his little 
community of monies, who accompanied him from Bangor, he soon suc- 
ceeded in restoring discipline and reviving religion among his flock. 
Scarcely had he effected this happy result when war destroyed the fruits 
of his labor. Some hostile prince invaded the territory, and St. Mala- 
chy, driven from his diocese, repaired, with 120 monks, to the territory 
of Cormac Mac Carthy, king of Desmond, whose friendship ho had 
acquired in the monastery of Lismore, Avliere he was at the time that 
Cormac made it his retreat on being driven from his kingdom by 
Turlough O'Conor. The withdrawal of St. I\Ialachy to JMunster took 
place some short time after the death of St. Celsus at Ai'dpatrick in 
1129; and as soon as the death of that holy prelate was known in 
Armagh, a la^onan, named Muirkertach, or Maiu'ice, claimed the see as 
his inheritance, and by> the aid of ,his powerful clan, got himself pro- 
claimed successor of St. Patrick, and maintained himself in the sacrile- 
gious usurpation. This Maurice was son of Donald, the predecessor of 
St. Celsus, and grandson of Amalgid, another of the nominal archbishops, 
or comorbans.* 

In the year 1132, bishop Gilbert, of Limerick, apostolic delegate, and 
bishop Malchus, of Lismore, assembled several bishops and chieftains, 
who went in a body to St. Malachy, in the monastery which he had 
erected at Ibrach,t in jNIunster ; and partly by entreaties in the name of 
the clergy and people, partly even by threats of excommunication, 
compelled him to leave his retreat and assume the government of the 
church of Armagh, on the condition, however, that he might retire 
when he had restored order in the diocese. For the next two years a 
melancholy schism prevailed; the intruder still persevering in his 
occupation of the see with its revenues, and St. Malachy performing 
the functions of archbishop without venturing into the city, lest a 

* This family belonged to the royal house of Oiiel. 

t Supposed by Dr. Lanigan to be Ivragh, in Kerry, part of Cormac Llac Carthy'i' kin;j<lom. 


tumult should take place, and human life bo sacrificed. Conspiracies 
against his life were formed, but he was providentially defended against 
them; and, at length, in 1134, the usurper died, after, as it is stated, 
giving tokens of sincere repentance. Another intruder, however, arose 
in the person of one Niell, or Nigellus. Against this man popular feeling 
became so strong, that he was obliged to fly; but he contrived to take 
%vith him St. Patrick's crozier and that apostle's book of the Gospels, and, 
by the aid of these venerable relics, he continued for a while to impose 
on some persons, with the pretence that he was the rightful successor of 
St. Patrick.* 

Ecclesiastical discipline having been restored, and the independence 
of the church vindicated in Armagh, through the indefatigable zeal of 
Malachy, that holy pontifF made a visitation of Munster in lloG; and 
the following year he resigned the primatial dignity, which, after 
another attempt of Nigellus, as some annalists say, to intrude himself, 
was confejTed on Gelasius, or Gilla Mac Liag, " the son of the poet," 
then abbot of the great Columbian monastery of Derry ;t St. Malachy, 
himself, being installed as bishop of Down, which had previously been 
united to his old diocese of Connor, over which another prelate now 

Returning to Turlough O'Conor, whom we left extending his sway 
with little impediment to his ambition, since the death of his northern 
rival, Donnell O'Loughlin, we find him, at length, receiving a serious 
check from Conor O'Brien, who had succeeded his father, Dermot, on 
the throne of North Munster. Conor O'Brien, in 1131, carried off 
hostages from Leinster and Meath, and defeated the cavalry of Con- 
naught; and the following year he sent a fleet to the coast of 
Connaught, destroyed the castle of Bun Gaillvo, or Galway, and 
25lundered West Connaught. In the former of these years the men of 
the north also invaded Connaught; and in 1133, Conor O'Brien and 
Cormac Mac Carthy made an incursion there, on both which occasions 
Turlough O'Conor was glad to make a years truce vv^ith his opponents. 

A synod of the bishops and clergy of Munster was held in Cashel in 
1134, to celebrate, with special pomp, the consecration of a church just 
erected there by Cormac Mac Carthy. This was the building now so 

* The Four Masters, an. 1135, say: '• Maelmaedhog Ua Morgair (St. Malachy), successor of 
Patrick, purchased the Bachall-Isa (staff of Jesus), and took it from its cave on the 7lh day of 
the month of July." Whence it appears, that Nigellus extorted a sum of money for its restoration. 
The death of that wretched man is recorded in the year 113D. 

t The name of this prelate appears as St. Gelasius in the Martyrology of Marlanus Gorman, 
and his life is published by Colgan in the Ada. SS, Sib. at the 27th of March. 


well known as Cormac's Chapel, on the rock oi Cashel, one of the most 
beautiful specimens of Romanesque architecture in these countries, and 
the erection of which has been erroneously ascribed to Cormac Mac 
Cuilennan in the tenth century.* Cormac Mac Carthy was, in 1138, 
treacherously killed in his house by Turlough, son of Dermot O'Brien, 
and by the two sons of the O'Conor Kerry. 

Turlough O'Conor is described by om' annalists as a stern ^^ndicator 
of justice; but the justice of that age was not very refined in its judg- 
ments. For some offence, the nature of which we are not told, he 
caused the eyes of his son, Aedh, or Hugh, to be put out, in 1136; and 
the same year he cast Roderic, or Rory (Ruaidhri), another of his sons, 
into prison. It would appear that Rodcric was liberated chiefly through 
the interference of the clergy; but seven years later he was again 
imprisoned by his inexorable father, " in violation of the most solemn 
pledges and guarantees." On this latter occasion the prelates and 
clergy, Avith the chieftains of Connaught, finding all their entreaties to 
obtain his liberation in vain, held a public fast at Rathbrendan, praying 
heaven to mollify the father's heart, but it was not until the following 
year that Roderic was released from his fetters. Murrough O'Melaghlin, 
king of Meath, was seized at the same time with Roderic in spite of 
solemn guarantees, but was set at liberty through the interference of his 
sureties, who conveyed him into IMunster, and his territory was given by 
Turlough to his own son, Conor, who was killed the following year by 
the men of IMeath as a usurper. No tie or obligation was now allowed 
by Turlough O'Conor to stand in the way of his caprice or ambition. 

Dermot Mac Murrough, or Diarmaid-na-Gall, that is, Dermot of the 
foreigners, as he is often called, the infamous king of Leinster who 
betrayed his country to the English, now appears on the scene, and 
from the commencement his ill-omened career is marked by crime. In 
the year 1135, according to Mageoghegans Annals of Clonmacnoise, 
he took the abbess of KikUu-e from her cloister, and compelled her to 
many one of his men, at the same time killing 170 of the people of 
Kildare who attempted to prevent the sacrilegious outrage. After 
being involved in various feuds in the interval, he endeavoured, in 
1141, to crush all resistance to his tyranny by a barbarous onslaught 
upon the nobles of his province. He lulled Donnell, lord of Hy- 
Faelain, and jMurrough O'Tuathail ; put out the eyes of Muirkertach 

• See Dr. Pelrie's Ecclesiastical Architecture, &c. pp. ?90, &c., where tbe question whether 
Cormac JIac Carthy were a bkhop as well as kuig is discussed. 


Mac Gillnmochalraog, lord of Feara Cualann, or Wicklow, and killed or 
Llinded seventeen otlier cliieftains, besides many of inferior rank. 

Conor O'Brien died in 1142, at Killaloe, after rigid penance, and was 
succeeded by liis brother Turlough, who commenced his reign by a Avar 
with Turlough O'Conor,* and an invasion of Leinster. In 1144, 0'Conor 
and O'Brien held a peace conference, but their truce did not extend 
beyond a year; and in 1145 the Four Masters introduce a long catalogue 
of predatory incursions in ever}^ part of the country, by the expressive 
words, that this year Ireland was made " a trembling sod." The 
O'Loup-hlins of Tyrone Avere at war with their neighbours, the Ulidians; 
a deadly feud w\as carried on between Meath and Breffny ; O'Conor and 
O'Brien were engaged in hostilities ; and Teffia and other territories were 
also scenes of bloodshed and devastation. 

In the midst of these tumults, the church endeavoured to carry on its 
action — internally, by the promotion of discipline and morality, and 
externally, by efforts, often fruitless, for the restoration of peace. It 
had long been a favorite project with St. Malachy to obtain from the 
Holy See a formal recognition of archiepiscopal sees in Ireland, by the 
granting of palliums. For that purpose he proceeded to Rome shortly 
after he had become bishop of Dov/n ; and as tlic fame of his sanctity 
and zeal had gone before him — a character Avhich his mortified appear- 
ance was well calculated to sustain — he was received with every mark of 
love and veneration by the reigning pontiff. Innocent IL The Pope, 
descending from his throne, placed his own mitre on the head of tlie 
Irish saint, presented him with his own vestments and other religious 
gifts, and appointed him apostolic legate, instead of Gilbert, bishop of 
Limerick, who was then a very old man. Wlien St. Malachy, hoAvever, 
asked for the palliums, the Holy Father prudently observed that that was 
a matter of great moment, and that the demand should have come from 
a synod of the Irish church, which should, he suggested, be held for that 
purpose. After a stay of one month, visiting the holy places in Rome, 
St. Malachy set out on his return to Ireland ; having, both going and 
returning, paid visits to the great St. Bernard, at Clairvaux, and laid the 
foundation of that friendship Avhicli forms so remarkable an incident in 
the lives of both these eminent saints, and in the history of the Irish 

* When Turlough O'Brien invaded Connauglit ia 1143, he cut do;vu the Tuaidh Bheitliigb, or 
red birch tree of Hj'-Fiachra Aidhne, which was probably one of those trees under which the Irish 
kings were inaugurated ; like the Bile Maighe Adhair, of Thomond, wliicli was destroyed by 
Malachy II. in 981 ; and the tree of Craev Tulcha (now Creeve, near Gleuavy, in Antrim), under 
■which the kings of Ulidiawere inaugurated, and which was destroi-ed by Donnell 0'Loiighlin,in 1099. 


On his arrival in Ireland, St. Malacliy sftt earnestly about his favorite 
mission for the more regular organization of church affairs. By virtue 
of his legatine powers he held local synods in several places, and travelled 
on foot all through Ireland. He rebuilt and restored many churches 
that had, in various parts of the country, been destroyed by the Danes, 
or fallen into decay during the constant wars of those times. In 1142, 
he founded, near Drogheda, the famous Cistercian abbey of MelHfont, 
■which was liberally endowed by O'Carroll, king of Orghial (Oriel), and 
was supplied ^itli monks from Clairvaux, whither St. !RIalachy had sent 
some Irishmen to be trained for the purpose.* 

The gynod from which the formal application for the palliums 
emanated was convened by St. Malachy as legate, and Gelasius as primate, 
in 1148. It was held in Inis Padraig, or St. Patrick's Island, near 
Skerries,t and was attended by fifteen bishops, two hundred priests, and 
several other ecclesiastics. After three days spent in the consideration 
of other matters, the synod treated of the palliums on the fourth ; and, 
although unwilHng that St. Malachy should again leave Ireland, the 
assembled clergy consented to his departure on this occasion, as it Avas 
known that Eugene III., who had been a Cistercian monk, was visiting 
Clairvaux, and that, therefore, St. Malachy would not have to travel 
farther than France to see the sovereign pontiff. The saint set out 
immediately on his journey; but having been detained some time in 
England, owing to a prohibition issued by king Stephen against bishops 
leaving the country, he found, on arriving at Clairvaux, that the Pope 
had returned to Rome. St. Malachy was not permitted to carry out his 
cherished project ; he was seized with his death-sickness foui" or five days 
after his anival at Clairvaux, and expired there, on the 2nd of Novem- 
ber that year (1148), attended by St. Bernard, and surrounded by a 
number of the abbots and religious of the order.f 

** Si. E^rr.avcVs letters to St. M;ilacliy on thi:^ subject ara prinlcd in Xhi^iefs Sj/Uo(;e. On the 
o:o;isio!i of buiKiing the church of this monastery, some wrong-Leadi/d person opposed St. 3In!achy'd 
plan, urging that the undertaking greatly exceeded the means at his disposal; that none of tlieni 
v/ould ever see the work completed ; that a wooden oratory in the old Irish fashion would suffice, 
and that it was wrong to introduce the customs of other countrie;*, even in the shape of fine archi- 
tecture for God's house, adding: — " we are Scots, not Freuchmejv" The saint persevered success- 
fulK', and the objector's prophecy was only verified in himself, as he died before u year and did not 
see tlie work finished. 

t The Synod was held in the island above mentioned, and not at Holm Patrick, on the mainland, 
as Dr. Lanigan supposes ; the monastic establishment not having been transferred to the latter place 
until some time between 1213 and 1228. Archdall, Monast. Ilib. p. 218. 

% Tiic festival of St. Malachy was transferred from the 2nd of November, the day of his death, to 
the following day, owing to the commemoration of All Souls, wliich would interfere with its duo 
eolemnization. This illustrious man is admitted to have been one of the greatest saints, not only of 


All this time a fierce Vv-arfare v.-as carried on among the chieftains 
of the north, but the primate brought about a meeting between thera 
at Armagh, in the latter part of 1148, and arranged terms of peace, to 
which they bound themselves on the crozier of St. Patrick ; the chief- 
tains of Oriel, Ulidia, and the other northern territories, giving hostages 
to Muirkertach, Murtough, or IMaurice O'Loughlin, king of Tyrone, in 
token of submission. O'Loughlin proceeded to Dublin the following 
year, accompanied by O'Carroll, when Dermot Mac Murrough also paid 
homage to him, and peace was established in that part of L'eland. In 
1150, the hostages of Connaught were brought to O'Loughlin, without 
a necessity for any hostile demonstration, and his sovereignty was thus 
acknowledged by all Ireland, with the exception of the southern pro- 

Murrough O'Melaghlin, king of Meath, having by his crimes incurred 
general odium, was anathematized by the primate, and expelled from 
his kingdom by the monarch, O'Loughlin, who divided Meath into 
three parts, giving one to Turlough O'Conor, king of Connaught, 
another to O'Rourke of Breffhy, and the third to O'Carroll of Oriel. 
Immediately after this, Turlough O'Brien, king of Munster, led an array 
to Dublin, where he received the submission of the Dano-Irish ; and he 
was proceeding to avenge a defeat which some of his subjects had 
received shortly before from the men of Breffhy and Oriel, when 
O'Loughlin marched from the north to the aid of the latter, and the 
forces of Leath Cuinn and Leath Mogha met at Dun Lochad near 
Tara, but the Dano-Irish interfered, and arranged a year's truce between 

A.D. 1152 — Cardinal John Paparo arrived in Ireland about the close 
of 1151, bringing the palliums which had been solicited by St. Malachy; 
and the following year was rendered memorable by the national council 
of Ceananus, or Kells, at which these insignia of the archiepiscopal 
dignity were conferred. The palliums were for the archbishops of 
Armagh, Cashel, Tuam, and Dublin, the two latter sees being then for 
the first time regularly created archbishoprics ; although, as already 
stated, we find the bishops of Tuam often styled archbishops long 
before that period. Dissatisfaction was felt in other parts of Ireland 
that this honor should ho conferred on Dublin and Tuam, and it is 

the Iiish, but uf the universal church. His lito, by St. Bernard, uhich is an important authority 
ia our ecclesiastical history, was written not later than the year 1151; and he was solemnly 
(..-.•.ionized ia 1190 by Pope Clement HI. We may here remark that the pretended prophecy about 
the Popes, formerly attributed to St. I^laladiy, has been long rejected as apocryphal. 


stated that some of the Irish prelates remained away from the council 
on that account. The bishops who attended were those of Armagh 
(St. Gelasius) ; Lismore (Christian, the Pope's legate for Ireland); Cashel 
(Donald O'Lolicrgan) ; Dublin (Gregory) ; Glendalough ; Leighlin ; 
Portlargy, or Waterford; the vicar-general of the bishop of Ossory; 
the bishop of Kildare; the vicar-general of the bishop of Emly; the 
bishops of Cork, Clonfert, Kerry, Limerick, Clonmacnoise, East Con- 
naught, or Roscommon; Lugnia, or Achonry; Conmacne Hy Briuin, or 
Ardagh ; Kinel Eoghain ; Dalaradia, or Connor ; and Ulidia, or Down. 
Cardinal Paprtro presided, and about 300 clergy of the second order, 
and monks, Avere also present. The suffragan sees for each metro- 
politan were named; several laws against simony, usury, and other 
abuses, were framed: and the payment of tithes for the support of the 
church was ordained. This Avas the first introduction of tithes into 
Ireland ; but they were not enforced until after the English invasion. 
This synod of Kells is one of the incidents of Ii'isli history Avhicli have 
been most frequently misrepresented by English historians, and by Irish 
Protestant writers, who pretend to trace to it the connexion of Ireland 
with Rome, or the establishment of " Popery," as they call it, in this 
country ; but how utterly unfounded such an inference is we need not 
impress upon the unprejudiced reader, who has followed with us the 
thread of our history thus far.* 

While the heads of the church were thus occupied, a civil war raged 
in Munster. Tiu'lough O'Brien was, in 1151, deposed by Teige, another 
son of Dermot O'Brien, and the aid of Turlough O'Conor being solicited 
by Teige, the king of Connaught speedily availed himself of the oppor- 
tunity to carry desolation into the southern province. O'Conor's forces 
were joined by those of Dermot Mac JNIurrough ; and they plundered 
Munster before them, as the annalists say, until they reached Moin 
Mor,t where they encountered the Dalcassian army, under Turlough 

* We could not express ourselves more to the pui-pose on this suhject than in the words of Moore :— 
" It is true," observes this writer, " from the secluded position of Ireland, and still more from the ruin 
brought upon all her religious establishments during the long period of tlie Danish wars, the inter- 
course with Rome must have been not unfrcquenlly interrupted, and the powers delegated to the 
prelate of Armagh, as legaUts naiits, or, by virtue of his office, legate of the Holy See, may, in 
such interval?, have served as a substitute for the direct exercise of the Papal authority. But 
that the Irish churcli has ever, at any period, been independent of the spiritual power of Rome, is a 
supposition which the wliole course of our ecclesiastical history contradicts. On the contrary, it 
has frequently been a theme of liigh eulogium upon this country, as well among foreign as domestic 
writers, that hers is the only national church m the world which has kept itself pure from the 
taint of heresy and schism" — IlUtory of IrelatiJ, vol. ii., p. 190. 

t Dr. 0' Donovan (Four Master.^, an. 1151, note,) suggcst-s with great probability, that this 
may have been the place now called Moanmore, in the parish of Emly, county of Tipperaiy. 


O'Brien, retnrniag from the plunder of Desmond; and a dre.idful battle 
was fought, in which the men of north Munster suffered a fearful 
slaughter, leaving 7,000 dead upon the field, and among them several 
of their chieftains. This terrible sacrifice of life is attributed to the 
obstinate braver}^ of the Dalcassians, v>"ho would never either demand 
quarter or fly from the field of battle. On this occasion Turlough 
O'Brien was banished, and Turlough O'Conor assumed the sovereignty 
of Munster; his son, Roderic, making another raid into Thomond, 
and carrying fire and sword as far as Cromadh, or Groom, in Limerick. 

A.D. 1152. — O'Conor led a second army into Munster this year, and 
divided the country, giving Desmond to the son of Cormac Mac Carthy, 
and Thomond to Teigo and Turlough O'Brien ; and the annalists say 
that both Thomond and Desmond had now suffered so fearfully from 
theu* mutual wars, that a dearth followed, and that the peasantry were 
dispersed into Leath Cuinn, after many of them had perished by the 

This year, also, Meatli was dismembered by the monarch, O'Loughlin, 
aided by Turlough O'Conor, Dermot Mac Murrough, and other princes. 
From Clonard westward was given to Murrough O'Melaghlin, who had 
been formerly deposed, and from the same point eastward to Murrough's 
son, Melaghlin. Tiernan O'Rom^ke, lord of Breffiiy, was also dispos- 
sessed of his territory by this host of confederated princes ; and at the 
same time another mortal injury was inflicted on him, his wife, Dervor- 
gil (Dearbhforgaill), being carried off by Mac Murrough, the king of 

The time and other circumstances of this abduction have been strangely 
distorted by historians to give a coloring of romance to the account of 
the English invasion, with which it cannot have had the least connec- 
tion. It occurred, according to our authentic annals, in 1152, and Der- 
mot's flight to England, and invitation to the invaders, did not take 
place till 1166. Dervorgil was at the former of ihese dates forty- four 
years of age, and her paramour sixty-two. She was shamefully encou- 
raged by her brother, Melaghlin O'jNlelaghlin, just then made lord of 
east Meatli, to abandon her husband, who appears to have treated her 
harshly before that, and to have deserved little sympathy as a hero of 
romance.* On leaving O'llourke, she took with her the cattle and 

* The Four TiT.-LStivr, relate, under the year 1128, that a sacrilegious attack was made on St. Celsiis 
by this Tighoarnan O'lluarke and his people, who rob'oed the primate and killed cue of Lis clergy ; 
and that Conor Mac Loughlin, then lord of Ciud Eoghain, sent his cavalry, who attacked and de- 
ftatod the cavalry of O'Kiiarke, and killed many of his partizans. 


articles wliich formed lier dowry ; and the following year, when slie was 
rescued from Mac Murrougli by Turlough O'Conor, and restored to her 
family, the same cattle and other property were also restored. It is 
probable that she did not reside again wdth her husband, but retired 
immediately to Mellifont, where she endeavoured, by charity and ri2;id 
penance during the remainder of a long life, to expiate her misconduct.* 

A.D. 1153. — The monarch, Murtough O'Loughlin, espoused the cause 
of Turlough O'Brien, and led an army towards the south, to reinstate 
him in his territories. Teige O'Brien, the usurper, and his ally, Tur- 
lough O'Conor, marched to oppose the northern army ; but before their 
forces could form a junction, near Kahin, in tlu; King's county, 
O'Loughlin, by a rapid movement with two battalions of picked men, 
encountered Teige O'Brien's small force, wdiich he cut to pieces. Tmv 
lough O'Conor was then glad to retreat into Connaught by Athlone ; 
and wdiile his son, Roderic O'Conor, with a portion of his army, was 
prcparmg to encamp, O'Loughlin, with his northern heroes, poured in 
upon them unexpectedly, and slaughtering great numbers, put the rest 
to flight. 

A.D. 1154. — Turlough O'Conor now collected all the ships of Dun 
Gaillve, Conmacna-mara, Umhall, or the O'Malley's country, Tir-Awley 
and Tir-Fiachrach, in northern Connaught, and with this fleet, which 
was under the command of O'Dowda, he plundered the coasts of Tir- 
Conaill, and Inis Eoghain. To meet this aggression, Murtough O'Lough. 
lin hired ships from the Gall-Gael, or Scoto-Danes, of the Hebrides, from 
Ai'a, Ceanntire, Manainn, or Man, and " the borders of Alba in general ;" 
and the fleet thus mustered was commanded by Mac Scelling, a Dano- 
Gael. The two fleets engaged near Inis Eoghain, and fought with des- 
perate fierceness. A great number of Connaughtmen, with their admiral, 
O'Dowda, were slain, but the victory was nevertheless on their side ; the 
foreign ships being completely shattered, so that their crews Avere, for 
the most part, obliged to abandon them, and, as many as could, to escape 
on shore. Mac Scelling came oft' \vith the loss of his teeth. 

Hostilities between O'Loughlin and O'Conor were still carried on by 
land, and the corn crops of a great part of Connaught were destroyed 
by the former in the harvest of this year; but two years after (1156), 
Turlough O'Conor closed his turbulent career in death, and Murtough 
O'Loughlin then became the unopposed monarch of Ireland ; his claims 

* Dervorgil performed many acts of generosity to tlic church ; and in 1167 erected a chapel for 
the convent of nuns at Clonmacnoise. She died in 1193, at tho venerable ago of 85, and her 
brother died of poison, nt Diirrow, in 1155. 



to that honor, previously, having been sturdily contested by the king of 
Connauglit. Turlougli died in the sixty-eighth year of his age, and 
reigned over Connauglit fifty years. He distributed, by his will, a large 
amount of gold and silver, with many cows and horses, among the 
churches of Ireland, and was buried beside the altar of St. Kieran at 
Clonmacnoise. His son, Roderic, succeeded as king of Connauglit, and 
began his ill-fated reign by imprisoning three of his brothers, one of 
whom he blinded. During this time Ulidia, Meath, Breffiiy, and 
Leinster were all disturbed by war. 

A.D. 1157. — A synod, which was attended by the primate, the bishop 
of Lismore, who was legate, and seventeen other bishops, and at which 
there were also present the monarch, with the kings of Ulidia, Oriel, 
Breffhy (Tiernan O'Rourke), and a great number of the inferior clergy 
and nobility, together with a multitude of the people who assembled to 
witness the proceedings, was held this year in the abbey of Mellifont.* 
The primate having solemnly consecrated the abbey church, the lay 
princes consulted with the bishops on the conduct of Donogh O'Me- 
laghlin, prince of Meath, who had become the common pest of the 
country. He was the friend and ally of Dermot Mac Mm-rough, by whose 
aid he had usurped the kingdom of Meath; just before the assembling' 
of the synod he murdered Cu-ulla O'Kynelvan, a neighbouring chief, in 
violation of solemn guarantees ; and in an old translation of the Annals 
of Ulster he is called a " cursed atheist." This bad man was accord- 
ingly excommunicated by the clergy, and sentence of deposition being 
then pronounced against him by the king of Ireland and the other princes, 
his brother, Dermot, was made king of Meath in his place. At this 
synod the monarch, O'Loughlin, granted " to God and to the monastery 
of Mellifont" the lands of Finnavar-na-ninghean, a townland on the 
south side of the Boyne, opposite the river Mattock, together with one 
hundred and forty cows and sixty ounces of gold. O'Carroll, prince of 
Oriel, also presented the monastery, on the same occasion, with sixty 
ounces of gold ; and Dervorgil, the wife of O'Rourke, presented as many 
ounces, together with a golden chalice for the altar of INlary, and cloth, 
or sacred vestments, for each of the other nine altars of the chm'ch. 

A synod of the clergy was convened the following year (1158) at 
Bri-mic-Taidhg, near Trim, and was attended by the legate and twent}^- 
five other bishops. Deny was on this occasion erected into an episcopal 

* Synods, or rather mixed conventions, had become very frequent about this time, being often, 
as in this case, attended by lay princes for the purpose of consulting on measures for the general 
management of the slate. 


see; Flaliertach O'Brolchain, the abbot of St. Columbkillc's monastery, 
there, being consecrated the first bishop. The bishops of Connaught, 
while proceeding to this synod, were intercepted and plundered by the 
soldiers of Dermot, king of Meath, on crossing the Shannon, near Clon- 
niacnoise, and two of their attendants wer killed. They, therefore, 
returned to Connaught, and held a synod of their own province in Ros- 

Roderic, king of Connaught, exhibited great activity, and spared no 
pains to attain the position which his father, Turlongh, had held, and to 
divide the sovereignty of Ireland with O'Loughlin. Wliile the latter 
was engaged in Munster, in 1157, expelling Turlough O'Brien (whom 
he had formerly supported) from Thomond, and dividing Mmister 
between Dermot, son of Cormac Mac Carthy, as king of Desmond, and 
Conor, son of Donnell O'Brien, whom he made king of Thomond, Ro- 
deric O'Conor led an army to plunder and lay waste Tyrone, and, as 
soon as O'Loughlin had left the south, proceeded thither to reinstate 
Turlough O'Brien. Mac Carthy promised Roderic a conditional sub- 
mission ; that is, in case O'Loughlin should not be able to support him 
against Roderic. An offensive and defensive league was entered into 
between O'Conor and Tiernan O'Rourke ; and their combined forces, 
with a battalion of the men of Thomond, marched, in 1159, into Oriel, 
as far as Ardee, when they were met by Murtough O'Loughlin with the 
army of Kinel Connell and Kinel Eoghain, and of the north in general. 
A battle ensued, in which the Connaughtmen and their allies were 
defeated with great slaughter ; and the northern army, after returning 
home in triumph, subsequently entered Connaught and devastated a 
great portion of that country. 

During the next two years commotion and disorder reigned in various 
parts of Ireland. An insmTcction of the Kinel Eoghain was put down 
by O'Loughlin, with the aid of the men of Oriel and Ulidia ; and a fresh 
partition was made of Meath. In the latter part of llGl a general 
meeting of the clergy and chieftains of Ireland took place at Dervor, in 
Meath, when all the other princes gave hostages to IMiu-tough O'Lough- 

A.D. 1162. — The Irish church, fertile in saints, now presents to us 
another of the most illustrious of her sons, in the person of St. Laurence 
O'Toole (or, as his name is called in Irish, Lorcan O'Tuathal), Avho was 
chosen this year to succeed Greine, or Gregory, the Danish archbishop 
of Dublin. This great saint, whom patriotism as well as religion endears 
to the hearts of Irishmen, belonged to one of the noblest families of 


Leiiister, whose patrimonial territory, of wliicli his father was chieftain, 
was called Hy-Muirahy, a district nearly conterminous with the southern 
half of the present county of Kildare.* In his youth he entered the 
monastery of St. Kevin, at Glendalough, of which he was chosen abbot 
when only twenty-five years old ; and even after his elevation to the 
episcopacy — a dignity which he most reluctantly accepted — he continued 
to practice all the austerities of monastic discipline. His predecessors in 
the see of Dublin had been consecrated by the archbishops of Canterbury, 
to whose jurisdiction they subjected themselves; but this external autho- 
rity was not resorted to in his case, as he was consecrated by St. Gelasius, 
successor of St. Patrick. St. Laurence O'Toole was one of twenty-six 
prelates, who, with a large number of abbots and inferior clergy, attended 
a synod held at Clane, in Kildare, the year of his consecration. At this 
synod the college of Armagh was virtually raised to the rank of a uni- 
versity, as it was decreed that no one who had not been an alumnus of 
Armagh should be appointed lectox' or theological professor in any of 
the other diocesan schools of Ireland. 

The extraordinary energy displayed at this period by the hierarchy 
and clergy of Ireland, in restoring discipline and promoting reforms, 
must soon have produced the most salutary effect on society, and raised 
the country to its just position among nations; but, unhappily, their 
efforts were about to be interrupted and frustrated. Even then the 
scheme was hatched which was so soon to crush all these generous 
tendencies, and extinguish for centuries every native germ of social 

Sundry wars and hostile inroads occurred about this time, presenting 
no pecu^.iar feature; but in the year 1166 a fatal outrage was committed 

* The true position of Hy-Muireadhaigh (Hy-Muirahy, or Hy-Murray), the ancient territory of 
the O'Toole's, is shown by O'Donovan, in a valuable note to the Four Masters, a.d. 1180. The 
mountain district of Imaile, in Wicklow, was not occupied by them until after the English inva.sion, 
when thej- were driven from their original patrimony. 

t The rebuilding of the great church of Derry, destroyed by fire many years before, was com- 
pleted, in 11C4, by Flahertacli O'Brolchain, bisliop, and formerly abbot of Derrj', with funds which 
he had collected in the course of a mission that he Ind undertaken through a part of Ireland for 
that purpose. The primate had also, about this time, made a visitation of Ireland to collect funds 
for rebuilding the religious establishments of Armagh destroyed by iire in 1150. The contribu- 
tions which the primate received in his visitation of Tyrone on this occasion, were a cow from every 
biatach or farmer, a horse from every chieftain, and twenty cows from the king; and when Flaher- 
tach O'Brolchain made a visitation of the same territory to repair his monasterj', he obtained a 
horse from every chieftain, a cow from every two biatachs, a cow from everj- three freeholders, the 
same from every four villains, and twenty cows from the king. He also got a gold ring of five ounces, 
his horse and his battleaxe, as a personal gift from the king (Murtcugh O'Loughlin). A "won- 
derful castle" was built this year C1164)by Piodcric O'Conor, at Tuam, but as the castle of Galway, 
and other similar strongholds, had been erected in Connaught long before, the term " wonderful" 
must have been applied rather on account of the strength of the building than of its singularity. 


bv tlip. monarch, O'Loughlin, on Eocliy MacDunlevy, prince of Dalaradia. 
One of the petty wars, so usual at the period, having been arranged 
between these two princes the preceding year, a peace was ratified by 
the successor of St. Patrick and some of the neighbouring chieftains. 
Urged, however, by some new feeling of exasperation, from what cause 
we are not told, O'Loughlin came suddenly upon the Dalaradian chief, 
put out his eyes, and killed three of his principal men. This savage 
aggression so provoked the princes who had been guarantees for the 
treaty, that they mustered an army, composed of choice battalions of the 
men of Oriel, Breffny, and Conmacne, under the command of Donough 
O'Carroll, and marched to the north. At Leiter Luin, a place in the 
present barony of Upper Fews, county of Armagh, and then part of Tir 
Eoghain, they encountered O'Loughlin, who, although he had but a few 
troops, gave battle. In the fierce contest which ensued the Kinel Eoghain 
were defeated, and the monarch himself slain ; and thus fell Murtougli 
O'Loughlin, who, of all the Irish kings since the days of Malachy II.,had 
the most unquestionable right to the title of monarch of Ireland. 

A.D. 1166. — Roderic O'Conor lost no time in getting himself recog- 
nised as sovereign, on the death of O'Loughlin ; and this appears to have 
been a mere matter of parade in his case, as there was no serious opposi- 
tion to his claim. He first led an army to Easrua, in Donegal, and took 
the hostages of Kinel Connell. Thence he marched across Ireland to 
Dublin, being joined on the way by the men of Meatli and Tcffia, and 
he was there inaugurated with more pomp than any Irish king had ever 
been before. Tliis was, indeed, the first solemn act in which we see 
Dublin treated as a metropolis, and on this occasion Roderic paid the 
Dano-Irish of that city a stipend in cattle, and levied for them a tax of 
4,000 cows on Ireland at large. 

From Dublin he proceeded to Drogheda (Droicheat-atha), where 
O'Carroll and the men of Oriel paid homage, and gave him hostages. 
Attended by a great hosting of the men of Connaught, BrefFny, and 
Meath, he marched back to Leinster, advancing into Hy-Kinsella, where 
Dermot Mac Murrough gave him hostages ; and submission was made in 
a similar form by the various chiefs of Leinster and Ossory, and of 
north and south Munster. 

By the death of the late monarch, Dermot Mac Murrougii was deprived 
of his only supporter; and on the accession of Roderic — the fu-m ally of 
his old enemy, O'Rourke — he saw what his fate must inevitably be 
According to the friendly authority of Giraldus Cambrensis, this prince 
was detested by all. Equally hateful to strangers and to his own people 


" his hand was against every man, and every man's hand against him." 
He accordingly prepared for the worst by burning his castle of Ferns, 
and soon saw his fears realised by the approach of an army conducted 
by Tiernan O'Rourke, and composed of the men of BrefFny and Meath, 
of the Dano-Irish of Dublin, and of the chiefs of his own kingdom of 
Leinster. A precipitate flight was his only resource, and while he sought 
refuge in England his kingdom was given to another member of his 

A.D. 1167. — A great assembly of the clergy and chieftains of Leatli 
Cuinn, or the northern half of Ireland, was convened by Roderic, at 
Athboy, in jNIeath. Among those who attended were the primate ; St. 
Laurence O'Toole, archbishop of Dublin ; Catholicus O'DufFy, archbishop 
of Tuam; and the chieftains of Breffny, Oriel, Ulidia, Meath, and 
Dublin. Thirteen thousand horsemen are said to have assembled on this 
occasion ; and the meeting, from its magnitude, has been supposed by 
some, although incorrectly, to have been a revival of the ancient Feis of 
Tara. It has been also remarked how sadly this display of the resources, 
and awakening of the olden glories of the country, contrasted with the 
fatal circumstances of the moment ; and how little the men then congre- 
gated at Athboy could anticipate the ruin which was just about to come 
upon themselves and upon their nation! Several useful regulations, 
affecting the social and religious interests of the people, were adopted on 
this occasion, and the convention tended materially to promote respect 
for the laws, and to give eclat to the commencement of the new sove- 
reign's reign. 

Roderic, with a large army, composed of contingents from every other' 
part of Ireland, entered the territory of Tyrone (Tir-Eoghain) and 
divided it between Niall O'Loughlin and Hugh O'Neill, giving to the 
former the country lying to the north of Slieve Gallion, in the present 
county of Londonderry, and to the latter the territory south of that 
mountain. This might be considered as the last act of undisputed 
sovereignty exercised by a native king of Ireland. Roderic was a man 
of parade, not of action, and totally unfit for the emergency in wliicli 
the unhappy destiny of Ireland had placed him. No monarch of Ireland, 
up to his time, was ever more implicitly obeyed, or could command more 
numerous hostings of brave men ; yet in his hands all this power was 
miserably worthless and inoperative. 



Dcrmot's Appeal to Henrj' II. — His Negotiations with Earl Strongbow and 
others.— Landing of the first English Adventurers in Ireland. — Siege of 
■Wexford. — First Eewards of the Adventurers. — Apathy of the Irish. — Incur- 
sion into Ossory. — Savage Conduct of Dermot. — HisVindictivencss. — Shameful 
Feebleness of Roderic. — The Treaty of Ferns. — Dermot aspires to the So- 
vereignty. — Strongbow's Preparations for his Expedition. — Landing of his 
Precursor, Raymond le Gros. — Massacre of Prisoners by the English. — Arrival 
of Strongbow, and Siege of "Waterford. — Marriage of Strongbow and Eva. — 
March on Dublin.— Surprise of the City.— Brutal Massacre.— The English 
Garrison of Waterford cut off. — Sacrilegious Spoliations by Dermot and the 
English. — Imbecility of Eoderic. — Execution of Dermot's Hostages. — Synod 
of Armagh.— English Slaves, Nefarious Custom.— Horrible Death of Dermot 
Mac Murrough. 

(a.d. 1168—1171.) 

EDITATING vengeance against the country from which 
he was compelled to fly in disgrace, the fugitive king 
of Leinster arrived at Bristol, where he learned that 
Henry II., to whom he had determined to apply for aid, 
' was absent in Aquitaine. Thither he immediately pro- 
I ceeded ; and ha\-ing at length found the English king, 
he laid before him such a statement of his grievances as 
he thought fit. He offered to become Henry's vassal, 
should he, through his assistance, he reinstated in hi? 
kingdom, and made the most abject protestations of re- 
verence and submission. Henry lent a willing ear to his 
statement, and must have been forcibly struck by this 
invitation to carry out a project which he himself liad 
Ing entertained, and for which he had been making grave pre- 
pations many years before. That project Avas the invasion of Ire- 
lad. As his hands were, however, just then full of business— for 
h was engaged in bringing into submission the proud nobles of the 


province in which he then was, while at home the resistance of St. 
Thomas a Becket, who would not suffer him to trample on the rights 
of the chui'ch with impunity, was become daily more irksome — he 
could not occupy himself personally in Dermot's affairs, but gave him 
letters patent, addressed to all his subjects — English, French, and Welsh 
— recommending Dermot to them, and granting them a general license 
to aid that prince in the recovery of his territory by force of arms. 

A.D. 1168. — With this authorization Dermot hastened back to Wales, 
where he gave it due publicity, but for some time his efforts to induce 
any one to espouse his cause were unavailable. At length, he Avas for- 
tunate enough to find some needy military adventurers suited to his pur- 
pose. The chief of these was Richard de Clare, commonly called Strong- 
bow, (as his father, Gilbert, also had been), from his skill with the cross- 
bow. This man, who was earl of Pembroke and Strigul, or Chepstow, 
being of a brave and enterprising spirit, and of ruined fortune, entered 
warmly into Dermot's design. He undertook to raise a sufficient force 
to aid the king of Leinster in the recovery of his kingdom, for which 
Dermot promised him his daughter, Eva, in marriage, and the succes 
sion to the throne of Leinster. Two Anglo-Norman knights, MauricJ 
FitzGerald and Robert Fitz Stephen, also enlisted themselves in tb 
cause of Dermot. These men w^ere half-brothers, being the sons <f 
Nesta, who had been first the mistress of Henry I., then the wife ^f 
Gerald of Windsor, governor of Pembroke and lord of Carew, to whai 
she bore the former of these adventurers, and finally the mistress 3 f 
constable Stephen de Marisco,who was the father of Robert FitzStephn. 
These knights were also men of needy circumstances, and Dermot jro- 
mised to reward them liberally for their services, by granting them he 
city of Wexford mth certain lands adjoining. Such were the obsare 
individuals by whom the first introduction of English power into ire- 
land was planned and carried out. 

The year was now drawing to a close, and Dermot Mac Murroigh, 
relying on the promises which he had obtained, ventured back to Irelaid 
and remained, dui'ing the winter, concealed in a monastery of AuguS' 
tinian canons which he had founded at Ferns. There is some uncer- 
tainty as to the date of the first landing of the Anglo-Normans ir 
Ireland ; and it may also be doubted, whether some of the proc&eding 
of Dermot and his foreign auxiliaries, mentioned obscurely in the nativ 
annals, occurred previous to the arrival of Fitz Stephen, and the suiTendc 
of Wexford, in May, 1169, or were identical with those recorded aftf 
that time Thus it is stated, that early in the year a few of Dermot 


Welsh auxiliaries arrived, and that with their aid he recovered puo&eb- 
sion of Hy-Kinsellagh ; but that this movement on his part was pre- 
mature, and that at the approach of a force, hastily collected by Roderic 
O'Conor and Tieman O'Rourke, a battle in which some of the Welsh 
were killed, having been fought at Cill Osnadh, now Kellistown, in 
the county of Carlow, Dermot, wlio only wanted to gain time, made a 
lu'pocritical peace with the monarch, giving him seven hostages for ten 
cantreds of his former territory. It is added, that he gave a hundred 
ounces of gold to O'Rourke, as an atonement for the injury he had 
formerly inflicted on him ; but all this seems to be only a confused 
version of some of the events which we are now about to relate in order, 
on the aiithority of Giraldus Cambrensis and Maurice Regan.* 

A.D. 1169. — According to the most probable account of the first Anglo- 
Norman descent, Robert FitzStephen, with 30 knights, all his own 
kinsmen, 60 men-at-arms, and 300 skilful archers, disembarked in May, 
this year, at Bannow,t near Wexford. One of the knights was Hervey 
de Montemarisco, or Mountmaurice, a paternal uncle of earl Strongbow ; 
and the next day, at the same place, landed Maurice de Prendergast, a 
Welsh gentleman, with 10 knights and 60 archers. Dermot, on receiv- 
ing notice of their arrival, marched with the utmost speed to join them 
with 500 men, being all that he could then muster; and with the joint 
force, he proceeded immediately to lay siege to the town of Wexford, 
the inhabitants of which were Dano-Irish. The first assault was repelled 
with great bravery, the inhabitants having previously set fire to the 
suburbs, that they might not afford a cover to the enemy ; but when the 
Anglo-Normans were preparing to renew the attack next morning, the 
townspeople demanded a parley, and terms of capitulation Avere 
negotiated by the clergy ; Dermot, though with great reluctance, con- 
senting to pardon the inhabitants on their returning to their allegiance. 
In the fu'st day's assault eighteen of the English had been slain, and only 
three of the brave garrison. FitzStephen burned the shipping Avhich lay 
before the town ; and it is said that he destroyed also the vessels which 
had conveyed his own troops from England, to show that they were 
resolved never to retreat. The lordship of the town was then, according 
to the contract, made over to him and to FitzGerald, who had not yet 

* The authority referred to as that of Maurice Regan, is a metrical narrative ivritten by an 
anonymous Norman rhymer from the oral account which he received from Regan, the secretary 
and " Lattiner,"or interpreter, of Dermot Mac Murrough. An old translation into English, by Sir 
Oeorge Carew, was published in Harris's Ilihernica. 

t Cuan-an-bhainbh, " the cnek of the sucking pigs." The place of FitzStephcn'a debarkation is 
called Has-inbun by Ihc Auglo-lriah hidtorians. 


arrived, and two cantreds of land, lying between tlie towns of Wexford 
and Waterford, were granted by Dermot to Ifcrvey of IMountmaurice.* 

Dermot now conducted his allies to Ferns, where they remained 
inactive for three weeks, without molestation, and indeed without 
appearing to excite any attention on the part of king Roderic and the 
other Irish princes. This apathy of the Irish, which appears to us so 
unaccountable, and which was so lamentable in its consequences, partly 
arose, no doubt, from the insignificance of the invaders, in point of 
numbers. Never did a national calamity, so mighty and so deplorable, 
proceed from a commencement more contemptible than did the English 
occupation of Ireland. The Irish were accustomed to employ parties of 
Danish mercenaries in their feuds. They had also mixed themselves up 
more than once in the quarrels of the Welsh ; and they looked upon 
Mac Murrough's handful of Welsh and Normans as casual auxiliaries 
who came on a special duty and would depart when it was performed. 
The Irish annalists expressly state that the monarch, with a number of 
subordinate princes and a large army, entered Leinster at this very time, 
and " went to meet the men of Munster, Leinster, and Ossory," but " set 
notliing by the Flemings," as the first party of the invaders are called in 
these records.! As to Roderic, he showed no foresight or prudence, no 
energy of character or real bravery, and no regard for the interests of 
Ireland as an integral nation, throughout the whole of this most fatal 
crisis in his country's fortunes. About this time he celebrated the fair 
of Tailtin, when the concourse assembled was so great that the horsemen 
are said to have been spread over the tract of country from Mullach 
Aiti, now the hill of Lloyd, Avest of Kells, to Mullach Tailtin, a distance 
of about six and a-half miles ; yet, while this display of numbers was 
made within a couple of days' march, Dermot, with his handful of foreign 
auxiliaries, was permitted to overrun the province of Leinster, and to 
brave the anger of the imbecile monarch.!}: 

Emboldened by the inactivity of his enemies, Dermot resolved to act 

* This land is comprised in the present baronies of Forth and Bargie, in the county of Wexford, 
And was the first place in Ireland colonized by the English. The isolation of its inhabitants for 
centuries after that time, and the peculiarities of manner and language, of which the remnant is 
still preserved among them, are well known facts. 

t Four Masters, a.d. 11G9. No English or Anglo-Irish authority makes any mention of these 
Flemings ; yet, observes Dr. O'Donovan, certain analogies, as well as the existence of an ancient 
Flemish colony in Pembrokeshire, whence the first adventurers came, would show that the Irish 
annalists had some grounds for the application of the name. 

X The annalists say that this year (1169^, "Kory O'Conor granted an (increase of) pension of ten 
cows yearly, from himself and his successors, to the lector (chief master) of Armagh (seminary), in 
Jionor of Patrick, to instruct the youth of Ireland and Alba in literature." 


on the offensive; and as he had a cause of quarrel with Mac Gilla Pat- 
rick, prince of Ossory, who, actuated by a feeling of jealousy, had put 
out the eyes of Enna, a son of Mac Murrougli's who was in his power as 
a hostage, he determined to make him the first object of his vengeance* 
Between the forces of his province and the garrison of Wexford, Dcrmot 
was enabled to muster 3,000 men, but his principal reliance was on his 
foreign friends, in whose ranks he chiefly remained ; and the Wexford 
men were so hated and distrusted by him, that they were not allowed to 
encamp at night with the rest of the army. Thus Dermot marched into 
Ossory, where the inhabitants made a brave stand ; but after a good 
deal of fighting, having been decoyed from a strong position into one 
where they were exposed to the Norman cavalry, they were ultimately 
defeated, and three hundred of their heads were piled up before Dermot 
as a trophy of victory. This ferocious monster is said to have leaped 
and clapped his hands with joy at the sight ; and Cambrensis adds that 
he tui'ned over the heads in the ghastly heap, and that recognizing one 
of them as the head of a man to whom he had particular aversion, he 
seized it by both ears, and with brutal frenzy bit off the nose and lips of 
his dead enemy. Such is the character which we receive of this detest- 
able tyrant, even from cotemporary English authorities. 

Roderic, awakening at length to a sense of the duty which devolved 
on him, convened a meeting of the Irish princes at Tara, and, in 
obedience to the summons, a large army was mustered ; Avhile Dermot, 
who had already carried desolation through a great portion of Ossory, 
became dismayed at the first symptoms of preparations against him, and 
halting with his English fi'iends in their career of havoc, returned to 
Ferns, and hastily entrenched himself there. Scarcely, however, had the 
Irish army assembled, when dissensions broke out in its ranks, and on 
marching as far as Dublin, Roderic thought fit to dispense with the 
services of MacDunlevy of Ulidia, and of O'Carroll of Oriel, who 
accordingly drew off their respective contingents, and returned home. 
Still the monarch arrived before Ferns with an army sufficient to annihi- 
late the small force which he found collected there round Dermot ; for 

* The barbarous custom of blinding was a mode of punishment common to other nations at that 
period. It waa indeed only three or four years before the time at which wc have arrivad when 
Henry II., king of England, took vengeance on the people of Wales by causing the children of the 
noblest families of that countiy, whom he held as hostages, to be treated in the same manner ; or- 
dering the eyes of the males to be rooted out, and the ears and lips of the females to be amputated. 
Hence when we read of such tortures in Irish history, we are not to conclude that they were 
indicative of any peculiar barbarity. More than two hundred years after, in the rcigu of Henry IV., 
this barbarous practice prevailed in England, and it was necessary to make a law against it.— 
Hume, c, 18. 


it must be observed, that on the news of an Irish army being in the field, 
the king of Leinster was abandoned by a great number of his Irish 

The conduct of Roderic on this occasion lamentably illustrates the 
weakness of his character. Instead of proceeding at once to crush the 
dangerous foe, or insisting on the unconditional submission of Dermot, 
he entered into private negociations, first with FitzStephen, and then 
with Dermot ; endeavouring to induce the former to abandon the king 
of Leinster, and to return to his o\vn country, or to detach the latter 
from his foreign allies, and bring him to an humble admission of his 
allegiance. Such attempts showed the feebleness of his councils, and 
only excited the contempt of both FitzStephen and Dermot. Roderic's 
overtures were therefore rejected with disdain, and preparations were 
made on both sides for battle. We cannot now judge how far the 
strength of the position occupied by the enemy justified the reluctance 
of the Irish monarch to attack ; but we find him again endeavouring to 
avert the necessity of fighting by further treating with the perfidious 
Dermot, so that it was Roderic, and not the besieged, who appeared to 
supplicate for peace. At length terms were agreed on, Roderic con- 
senting to give the full sovereignty of Leinster to Dermot and to his 
heirs, on his own supremacy being acknowledged ; and Dermot, on the 
other part, giving his favorite son, Conor, as a hostage to the monarch, 
and binding himself solemnly by a secret treaty to bring over no more 
foreign auxiliaries, and to dismiss those now in liis service, so soon as 
circumstances would permit him to do so. About this time Maurice de 
Prendergast withdrew from Dermot, with his followers, to the number 
of 200 ; and finding that his departure from Ireland was prevented, he 
offered his services to the king of Ossory. This defection alarmed 
Dermot, and enabled his enemy, Mac Gilla Patrick, to make some 
reprisals ; but Maurice soon abandoned the latter also, and returned for 
a short time to Wales. 

Dermot, who only desired to gain time, soon betrayed the insincerity of 
his concessions to Roderic ; for Maurice FitzGerald having in a few days 
after arrived wuth a small party of knights and archers at Wexford, he 
hastened to meet his ncAV ally regardless of his treaty, and, with this addition 
to his force, marched to attack Dublin, which had thrown off its allegiance 
to him, and was then governed by Hasculf Mac Turkill, a prince of Danish 
descent. The territory around the city was soon laid waste in so merciless 
a way, that the inhabitants were obliged to sue for peace ; and the king 
of Leinster having glutted his rev©aij;e, accepted their submission, for the 


purpose of being free to lend assistance to Donnell O'Brien, prince of Tho- 
mond, who had married a daughter of Dermot's, and half sister of Eva, 
and had just then rebelled against the monarch, Roderic. This oppor- 
tunity of weakening the power of the latter was, to the vindictive king 
of Leinster, too gratifying to be neglected ; and Dermot felt so elated by 
repeated successes, that he was no longer content with his position as a 
provincial prince, but set up a claim to the sovereignty of Ireland, which 
he grounded on the right of an ancestor. In this ambitious aim he was 
encouraged by his English auxiliaries ; and in a consultation with Fitz- 
Stephen and FitzGerald, it was resolved that a message should be sent 
immediately to Strongbow, pressing him to fulfil his engagements, and 
to come to their aid with as little delay as possible. 

A.D. 1170. — Strongbow on his part felt himself in a difficult position 
He could no longer act upon Henry's letters patent, Dermot being now 
reinstated in his kingdom; and a new sanction being necessary to 
authorize a hostile expedition to Ireland, he repaired to Normandy, 
where the English king then was, to solicit his permission. liemy, who 
was naturally jealous and suspicious, and entertained a particular 
aversion to the ambitious earl of Pembroke, in order to rid himself of his 
importunity, gave him an equivocal answer, which Strongbow pretended 
to understand as the required permission. He thereupon returned to 
Wales, set about collecting men with all possible diHgence, and sent 
Raymond le Gros with ten knights and seventy archers as his advanced 
guard. This party landed at a small rocky promontory then called 
Dundolf , or Downdonnell, near Waterford, and being joined by Hervey 
of Mountmamice, they constructed a temporary fort, to enable them 
to retain their position until Strongbow shovild arrive. The citizens of 
Waterford, aided by O'Faelain, or O'Phelan, prince of the Deisi, and 
O'Ryan, of Idrone, sent a hastily collected force to dislodge the invaders ; 
but through the bravery of Raymond, aided by accident, the besieged 
were not only able to defend themselves, but effectually to rout the un- 
disciplined multitude who came against them, killing, it is said, 500 men, 
and taking seventy of the principal citizens prisoners.* Large sums of 
money were offered to ransom the latter, but the English, as some sa}-, 
swayed by the sanguinary counsel of Hervey of Mountmauricc, rejected 
these offers ; and for the purpose of striking terror into the Irish, bru- 

* The English, on their landing, had, it appears, swept off a large number of cattle from the sur- 
rounding countrj', and placed them in the outer enclosure of their camp ; and these, terrified by the 
noise of the battle, and rushing furiously out through the Irish assailants, .spread confusion in their 
ranks, of which their enemy took deadly advantage. 


tally massacred the prisoners by breaking their limbs, and hurling them 
from the summit of the precipice into the sea. This atrocity was a fit- 
tino- prelude to the English wars in Ireland ; but most historians vin- 
dicate Raymond le Gros from the stigma which it cast upon the 
English arms. 

In the meantime Strongbow had assembled his army of adventurers 
and mercenaries at Milford, and was about to embark when he received 
a peremptory order from Henry forbidding the expedition. Wliat was 
to be done ? His hesitation, if any, was very brief, and he adopted the 
desperate alternative of disobeying his king. He accordingly sailed, 
and with an army of about 1,200 men, of whom 200 were knights, 
landed near Waterford on the 23rd of August, the eve of St. Bartho- 
lomew's day. Here he was immediately joined by his friend Raymond 
le Gros, who had been then three months in Ireland ; and the very next 
day he proceeded to lay siege to Waterford. The citizens displayed 
great heroism in their defence, and twice repulsed the attempts of the 
assailants. At length a large breach was made in the wall by the fall of 
a house which projected over it, and which came toppling down when the 
props by which it had been supported Avere cut by Raymond's knights ; 
and the besiegers pouring into the city made a dreadful slaughter of the 
inhabitants. A tower in which Reginald, or Gillemaire, as the Irish 
annalists call him, a lord of Danish extraction, and O'Phelan, prince of 
the Deisi, continued to defend themselves, was taken ; and these two 
brave men were on the point of being massacred by their pitiless captors 
when Dermot Mac Murrough arrived, and for the first and only time we 
see mercy exercised at his request. The carnage of the now unresisting 
inhabitants was suspended. Dermot expressed great exultation at the 
arrival of earl Strongbow, and insisted upon paying him at once his 
promised guerdon. He had taken his daughter, Eva, with him for that 
purpose ; the marriage cersmony was hastily performed, and the wedding 
cortege passed through streets reeking with the still warm blood of the 
brave and unhappy citizens. 

Immediately after the nuptials of Strongbow and Eva, Dermot and 
his allies set out on a rapid march to Dubhn, leaving a small party to 
garrison Waterford. Roderic had collected a lai*ge army and encamped 
at Clondalkin, near Dublin ; and Hasculf, the governor of that city, en- 
couraged by their presence, revolted against Dermot. Hence the haste 
of the confederate army to reach Dublin; and as they proceeded along 
the high ridges of the Wicklow mountains in order to escape the fortified 
passes by which their march would liaA'c been impeded in the valleys, 


tliey arrived under the walls of Dublin long before their presence there 
could be calculated on. This rapid movement, and the now formidable 
array of the Anglo-Norman armv, filled the citizens with consternation, 
and recourse was had to negociation ; the illustrious archbishop of Dublin, 
St. Laurence O'Toolc, being commissioned to arrange terms of peace 
with Dermot. While the parley, however, was still proceeding in 
Strongbow's camp, two of the English leaders, Raymond le Gros and 
Milo de Cogan, regardless of the usages of civilized warfare — though 
some say the time for the conference had expired — led their troops re- 
spectively against the weakest or most neglected parts of the fortifi- 
cations, and obtained an entrance. The inhabitants, relying on the 
negociations which were going forward, were quite unprepared for this 
assault, and flying panic-stricken, were butchered in the most merciless 
manner. We may conceive the horror with which St. Laurence, hasten- 
ing back to the city, found its streets filled with carnage. He exposed 
his life in the midst of the massacre, endeavouring to appease the fury 
of the soldiers ; and subsequently he had the bodies of the slain collected 
for decent burial, interceded for the clergy of the city, and procured 
the restoration of the books and ornaments of which the churches had 
been plundered. 

Roderic would appear to have had some skirmishes with the enemy 
for two or three successive days previous to this, and then to have with- 
drawn with liis large but ill-organized army ; but the Irish annalists, in 
mentioning the transaction, accuse the citizens of Dublin of bad faith, 
probably for refusing to act in concert with the Irish, or for endeavour- 
ing to make a peace for themselves , and they also allude to a conflagra- 
tion produced in the city by lightning, which, no doubt, added to the 
panic, " As a judgment upon them," say the Four Masters, " Mac 
Mun-ough and the Saxons acted treacherously towards them, and made 
a slaughter of them in the midst of their own fortress, in consequence 
of the violation of their word to the men of Ireland." Hasculf and a 
number of the principal citizens made their escape in ships, and repaired 
to the Hebrides and Orkneys ; and Roderic, without striking a blow, 
drew off his army into IMcath to sustain Ollourke, to whom he had 
given the eastern portion of that territory. About the same time the 
English garrison, which had been left in Waterford, was attacked and 
defeated by Cormac Mac Carthy, king of Desmond, but we are not told 
of any consequence which resulted. 

The government of Dublin was now entrusted to I\Iilo de Cogan ; 
and Dermot, with his allies, marched into Mcath, which they ravaged 

102 THE A^^GLO-^*OIlM.v^• invasion. 

and laid waste with an animosity perfectly diabolical. The churches 
of Clonard, Kells, Teltown, Dowth, Slane, Kilskeery, and Desert- 
Kieran, were plundered and burned, and, as a matter of course, the 
towns or villages which suiTOunded them were not treated with greater 
mercy. This predatory incursion was extended into Tir Briuin, or the 
country of the O'Rourkes and O'Reillys in Leitrim and Cavan; and 
although the monarch himself appears to have avoided all collision with 
the enemy, we are told that at last a portion of the latter were twice 
defeated in Breffny by O'Rourke. Donnell, prince of Bregia, who had 
been deposed by Roderic, sided with Mac JNIurrough, as did also 
Donnell's adherents among the people of east Meath, and some of the 
men of Oriel.* 

Alarmed at these events, Roderic foolishly imagined that he could 
arrest the progress of Dermot by threatening him with the death of liis 
hostages. He accordingly sent ambassadors to remonstrate with him 
for his perfidy in breaking his engagements, and for his unprovoked 
aggressions, and to announce that if he did not withdraw his army 
within his own frontier, and dismiss his foreign auxiliaries, the heads 
of his hostacres should be forfeited. Dermot treated this menace with 
derision. As far as we can judge of his character, he would have 
preferred the gratification of his revenge to the lives of all his children, 
had they been at stake. And he sent back word to Roderic that he 
would not desist until he had fully asserted his claim to the sovereignty 
of all Ireland, and had dispossessed Roderic of his kingdom of Connaught 
into the bargain. 

There is a difference of opinion as to whether Roderic fulfilled his 
threat. Cambrensis, a cotemporary writer, informs us that he did. 
Keating says that he would not expose himself to so much odium as the 
execution of the hostages would entail ; but the Four Masters, who are 
a much better authority, and would not have made the statement with- 
out sufficient grounds, say that " the three royal hostages" were put to 
death at Athlone. These were Conor, the son of Dermot ; his grandson 
(the son of Donnell Kavanagh) ; and the son of his foster-brother, 
O'Caellaighe. The act was cruel, but in it Roderic did not exceed his 
strict right ; and the same year Tiernan O'Rourke put to death the 
hostages of east IMeatli, which had rebelled against him. 

Giraldus Cambrensisj furnishes some interesting particulars of a 
synod held at Armagh about the close of this year (1170). It appears 

• Four Masters. f Hib. Expug. i. 18. 


from it that there prevailed in England a barbarous cnstom of selling 
children as slaves, and that the Irish were the principal purchasers in 
that abominable market. There are other authorities also to show that 
this nefarious practice was prevalent in England; the twenty-eighth 
canon of the council of London, held in 1102, haA^ng been enacted for 
its prohibition * The custom of buying English slaves was held by the 
Irish clergy to be so wicked, that, after deliberating on the subject, the 
synod of Armagh pronounced the invasion of Ireland by Englishmen 
to be a just judgment upon the country on account of it ; and decreed 
that any of the English who were held as slaves in Ireland should 
immediately be set free. It was a curious and characteristic coin- 
cidence that an Irish deliberative assembly should thus, by an act of 
humanity to Englishmen, have met the merciless aggi-essions which the 
latter had just then commenced against this country. 

A.D. 1171. — In the midst of his ambitious and vindictive projects, 
Dennot Mac Murrough died at Ferns on the 4th of May, 1171. His 
death, which took place in less than a year after his sacrilegious church- 
burnings in Meath, is described as being accompanied by fearful 
evidence of divine displeasure. He died intestate, and without the 
sacraments of the church. His disease was of some unknown and 
loathsome kind, and was attended with insufferable pain, which, acting 
on the naturally savage violence of his temper, rendered him so 
furious that his ordinary attendants were compelled to abandon him; 
and his body became at once a putrid mass, so that its presence above 
ground could not be endured. Some historians suggest that this 
account of his death may have been the invention of enemies ; yet it is 
so consistent with what we know of MacMurrough's character and career, 
from other sotirces, as to be nowise incredible. He reached the age of 
eighty-one years, and is known in Irish history as Diarmaid-na-Gall, or 
Dermot of the Foreigners. 

On the death of Dermot, earl Strongbow, regardless of his duty as 
an English subject, got himself proclaimed king of Leinster; and as his 
marriage with Eva could not under the Irish law confer any right of suc- 
cession, he grounded his claim on the engagement made by the late king, 
when he first agreed to undertake his cause. As this was the first step 
in the establishment of English power in Ireland, it is well the reader 
should bear in mind the way it was effected. There was here no con- 
quest. The only fighting Avhich the invaders yet had was with the Dano- 

* ^\■ilkius■Con^^ilia, i. o<S3 ; also Howel, p. 8G. 


Irish of Wexford, Waterford, and Dublin; and against these, as well 
as in their predatory excursions, the Anglo-Normans acted in con- 
junction with their Irish allies in Leinster. They can hardly be said, 
so far, to have come in collision with an Irish army at all, and most 
certainly, as Leland observes, " the power of the nation they did not 
contend with." " The settlement of a Welsh colony in Leinster," as 
the same historian, notwithstanding his strong anti-Irish prejudice, 
continues, " was an incident neither interesting nor alarming to any, 
except, perhaps, a few of most reflection and discernment. Even the 
Irish annalists speak with a careless indifference of the event;" but 
" had these first adventurers conceived that they had nothing more 
to do but to march through the land, and terrify a whole nation of 
timid savages by the glitter of their armour, they must have speedily 
experienced the effects of such romantic madness."* 

* Lelaud's Hittorj' of Ireland, b. i. chap. L 



DifSculties of Strongbo-w. — Order of Henry against the Adventurers. — Danish 
Attack ou Dublin. — Patriotism of St. Laurence. — Siege of Dublin by Iloderic. 
— Desperate state of the Garrison. — -Their Bravery and Success. — FitzStephen 
Captured by the TVexford People. — Attack on Dublin by Tiernan O'llourke. — 
Henry's Expedition to Ireland. — His Policy. — The Irish Unprepared. — Sub- 
mission of several Irish Princes. — Henry fixes his Court in Dublin. — Bold 
Attitude of Roderic. — Independence of the Northern Princes. — Synod of 
Cashel. — History of the Pope's Grant to Henry. — This Grant not the Cause 
either of the Invasion or its Success. — Disorganized State of Ireland. — 
Report of Prelates of Cashel,. and Letters of Alexander III. — English Law 
extended to Ireland. — The "five bloods." — Parallel of the Normans in 
England and the Anglo-Normans in Ireland. — Fate of the Irish Church. — 
Filial Arrangements and Departure of Henry. 

>i.3. 1171 and 1172. 

ORTUNE thus seemed in many respects to favor Strong- 
bow and his band of Anglo-Norman and Welsh ad- 
venturers, yet their position was one of considerable 
embarrassment. The king of England was jealous of their 
success, and indignant at the slight which they had put 
upon his authority. He was also annoyed at finding his 
own designs against Ireland anticipated by men who 
were likely to become insolent and troublesome ; and he 
accordingly (a.d. 1171) issued a peremptory mandate, 
ordering every English subject then in Ireland to retm'n 
Avithin a certain time, and prohibiting the sending thither 
of any further aid or supplies. Alarmed at this edict, 
Strongbow despatched Raymond le Gros to Henry with 
a letter couched in the most submissive terms ; placing at the king's dis- 
posal all the lands which he had acquired in Ireland. Henry was at 
the moment absorbed in the difficulties in which the murder of St. 


Thomns k Beclcet — if not at his command, at least at his implied desive, 
and by his myi'midons — had involved him, and he neither deigned to 
notice the earl's letter, nor paid any further attention to the Irish affair 
for some time ; so that Stronghow, still tempting fate, continued his 
course without regarding the royal edict. To add to his difficulties, his 
standard was deserted by nearly all his Irish adherents on the death of 
Dermot, which took place soon after the date of the royal mandate ; and 
during his absence from Dublin, that city was besieged by a Scandina- 
vian force, which was collected by Hnsculf, in the Orkneys, and conveyed 
in sixty ships, under the command of a Dane called John the Fui'ious. 
Milo de Cogan, whom Strongbow had left as governor, bravely repulsed 
the besiegers, but was near being cut off outside the eastern gate, until 
his brother Richard came to his relief with a troop of cavalry, where- 
upon the Norwegians were defeated with great slaughter, John the 
Furious being slain, and Hasculf made captive. The latter was at first 
reserved for ransom, but on threatening his captors with a more desperate 
and successful attack on a future occasion, they basely put him to 

The great archbishop of Dublin, St. Lorcan, or Laurence O'Toole, 
whose illustrious example has consecrated Irish patriotism, perceiving the 
straits to which the Anglo-Normans were reduced, and judging rightly 
that it only required an energetic effort, for which a favorable moment 
had arrived, to rid the country of the dangerous intruders, went among 
the Irish princes to rouse them into action. For this purpose he proceeded 
from province to province, addi'essing the nobles and people in spirit- 
stirruig words, and urging the necessity for an immediate and combined 
struggle for independence. Emissaries were also sent to Godfred, king 
of the Isle of Man, and to some of the northern islands, inviting co- 
operation against the common enemy. 

Earl Strongbow, becoming aware of the impending danger, repaired 
in haste to Dublin, and prepared to defend himself; nor was he long 
there when he saw the city invested on all sides by a numerous army. 
A fleet of thirty ships from the isles blocked up the harbour, and the 
besieged were so effectually hemmed in that it was impossible for them 
to obtain fi'esh supplies of men or provisions. Roderic O'Conor, who 
commanded in person, and had his own camp at Castleknock, was sup- 
ported by Tiernan O Rourke and iMurroughO'Carroll with their respective 
forces, and St. Laurence was present in the camp animating the men, 
or as some pretend, though very improbably, even bearing arms liimself. 
The Irish chiefs, relying on their numbers, contented themselves with 


an inactive blockade, and for a time their tactics promised to be success- 
ful ; the beseiged being soon reduced to extremities from want of food, 
Strongbow solicited a f»arley, and requested that St. Laurence should be 
the medium of communication. He offered to hold the kincrdom of 
Leinster as the vassal of Roderic ; but the Irish monarch rejected such 
terms indignantly, and required that the invaders shordd immediately 
surrender the towns of Dublin, Wexford, and Waterford, and undertake 
to depart from Ireland by a certain day. It is generally admitted that 
under the circumstances, the propositions of Roderic were even merci- 
ful, and for a while it was probable that they would, however unpalata- 
ble, be accepted 

At this crisis, Donnell Kavanagh, son of the late kino* of Leinster, 
contrived to penetrate in disguise into the city, and brought Stronfibow 
the intelligence that his friend FitzStephen was, together wjth his family 
and a few followers, shut up in the Castle of Carrig, near Wexford, 
where he was closely besieged, and must, unless iTnTr y^diately relieved, 
fall into the hands of his exasperated enemies. This sad news drove the 
garrison of Dublin to desperation ; and at the suggestion of ilaurice 
FitzGerald it was determined that they should make a sortie with their 
whole force, and attempt the daring exploit of cutting their way through 
the besiegers. To carry out this enterprise, Strongbow disposed his men 
in the following order: Ra}'mond le Gros, with twenty knights on 
horseback, led the van ; to these succeeded thirty knights under ^lilo de 
Cogan; and this body was followed by a third, consisting of about fortv 
knights, commanded by Strongbow himself and FitzGerald ; the re- 
mainder of their force, said to consist only of 600 men, bringing up the 
rear. It was about three in the afternoon when this well-organized body 
of desperate men sallied forth; and the Irish army, lulled in false 
security, and expecting a surrender rather than a sortie, was taken 
wholly by surprise. A great ntmiber were slaughtered at the first onset ; 
and the panic which was produced spreading to the entire besieging army, 
a general retreat from before the city commenced ; so that Roderic, who 
with many of his men was enjo^'ing a bath in the Liffey, had some difii- 
culty in effecting his escape. The English, on their side, astonished at 
their own unexpected success, returned to the city laden with spoils, and 
with an unlimited supply of provisions.* 

* Leland supposes that the Irish annalists passed over the TfhAe of this transaction in aJenee; 
but the Four blasters mention the siege, and their version is as follows : — " Xhere WCTe coodicts and 
•kinr.ishes WtTveen them'' (ie. the besiegers and besieged) ''for a fjrtn'ght. O'Conor then went 
&^ainst the Leinster men to cut down and born the cur.< ^-f the Saxorjk The earl and ^lilo after- 


StrongboAV once more committed the government of Dublin to i\[iIo 
de Cogan, and set out with a strong detachment for Wexford to relieve 
FitzStephen ; but after overcoming some difficulty in the territorv of 
Idrone, wh^re his march was opposed by the local chieftain, O'Regan, 
he learned on approaching Wexford that he came too late to assist his 
friend. Carrig Castle had already fallen, and it is said that the Wex- 
ford men were not very scrupulous on the occasion in their treatment 
of foes wh ) had proved themselves sufficiently capable of treachery 
and cruelty. The story is, that FitzStephen and his little garrison were 
deceived by the false intelligence that Dublin had been captured by the 
Irish army, that the English, including Strongbow, FitzGerald, and 
Raymond le Gros, had been cut to pieces, and that the only chance of 
safety was in immediate surrender ; the Dano-Irish besiegers undertaking 
to send FitzStephen with his family and followers unharmed to England 
It is added, that the bishops of Wexford and Kildare presented them- 
selves before the castle to confirm this false report by a solemn assurance ; 
but this circumstance, if not a groundless addition, would only shew that 
a rumour, by which the bishops themselves had been deceived, prevailed 
about the capture of Dublin, a thing not at all improbable. False news 
of a similar kind is sometimes circulated even in our own times. At all 
events, the stratagem, if it was one, succeeded; and FitzStephen on 
yielding himself to his enemies was cast into prison, and some of his 
followers were put to death. Scarcely was this accomplished, when 
intelligence arrived that Strongbow was approaching, and the Wexford 
men, finding themselves unable to cope with him single-handed, and 
fearing his vengeance, set fire to their town, and sought refuge with 
their prisoners in the little island of Beg-Erin, whence they sent word 
to the earl that if he made any attempt to reach them in their retreat 
they would instantly cut off the heads of FitzStephen and the other 
English prisoners. Thus foiled in his purpose, Strongbow with a heavy 
heart directed his course to Waterford, and immediately after invaded 
the territory of Ossory, in conjunction with Donnell O'Brien.* 

wards entered the camp of Li-iih Cuiim, and slew iiuniy of the coinmonahy, and carried off their 
provinions, armnnr, and horses." 

* Kegan, or the Norman rhymer, rehites an honorable t^ait of Jlaurice de Prenderuast on this 
occahion. The Welsh knight undertook to bring the king of Ossory to a conference, on obtaining 
ihe word of Strongbow and O'lirien that he should be allowed to return in safety. Understanding, 
however, during the conference, that treachery was about to be used towards Mac Gilla Patrick, he 
rushed into the earl's presence, "and sware !jy the cross of his sword that no man there that 
day should dare lay haudes on the kyng of Ossery." Having redeemed his word to tlie Iri-li 
prince by conducting him back in safety, and defeated some of O'Brien's men whom they met on 
the way with the spoils of Ossory, he .--ptut that night with Mac Gilla Patrick in the woods, and 
returned next day lo the earL 

HKNRY's expedition to IRKLA^n. 199 

During the earl's absence, Tiernan O'Roui'ke hastily collected an army 
of the men of BrefFny and Oriel, and made an attack on Dublin, but he 
■vvas I'epulsed by Milo, and lost his son under the Avails. With this ex- 
ception, no attempt was made to molest the invaders at a period when 
they could have been so easily annihilated ; and intestine wars were 
carried on among the northern tribes, and also between Connauoht 
and Thomond, as if there had been no foreign enemy in the 

Strongbow, on tj^ other side, learnt at Waterford, from emissaries 
whom he had sent to plead his cause with Henry, that his OAvn presence 
for that purpose was indispensable, and he accordingly set out in haste 
for England. He found the English monarch at Newnham in Glou- 
cestershire, making active preparations for an expedition to Ireland. 
Henry at first refused to admit him to his presence ; but at length suf- 
fered himself to be influenced by the earl's unconditional submission, 
and by the mediation of Hervey of Mountmaurice ; and consented to 
accept his homage and oath of fealty, and to confirm him in the posses- 
sion of his Irish acquisitions, with the exception of Dublin and the 
other seaport towns and forts, which were to be surrendered to himself. 
He also restored the earl's English estates, which had been forfeited on 
his disobedience to the king's mandate ; but, as it were to mark his dis- 
pleasure at the whole proceeding of the invasion of Ireland by his sub- 
jects, he seized the castles of the Welsh lords to punish them for allow- 
ing the expedition to sail fi'om their coasts contrary to his commands. 
It is probable that in all this hypocrisy and tyranny were the king's 
ruling motives. He hated the Welsh, and took the opportunity to crush 
them still more, and to garrison their castles with his own men. These 
events took place not many months after the murder of St. Thomas a 
Becket, and it is generally admitted that the king's expedition to Ireland, 
if not projected, was at least hastened, in order to withdraw public 
attention from that atrocity, and to make a demonstration of his power 
before the country at a moment when his name was covered with the 
odium which the crime involved. 

Henry II., attended by Strongbow, William FitzAdelm de Burgo, 
Humphr}' de Bohen, Hugh de Lacy, Robert FitzBernard, and other 
knights and noblemen, embarked at JNIilford, in Pembrokeshire, with a 
powerful armament, and landed at a place, called by the Anglo-Norman 
chroniclers, Croch — ^probably the present Crook — near Waterford, on 
St. Luke's day, October 18th, a.d. 1171. His army consisted, it is said, 
of 500 knights, and about 4,000 men-at-arms ; but it was probably much 


more numerous, as it was transported, according to the English accounts, 
in 400 ships. 

Henry assumed in Ireland the plausible policy which seemed so 
natural to him- He pretended to have come rather to protect the people 
from the aggressions of his own subjects than to acquire any advantage 
for himself; but at the same time, as a powerful yet friendly sovereign, 
to receive the homage of vassal princes, and to claim feudal jurisdiction 
in their country. It is impossible, of course, to reconcile pretences so in- 
consistent in themselves ; but they served the purj^e for which they 
were invented. He put on an air of extreme affability, accompanied 
by a great show of dignity, and paraded a brilliant and well-disciplined 
army with all possible pomp and display of power. 

The Irish, on the other hand, seemed at a loss what to think or how 
to act. An event had occurred for which they were not prepared by any 
parallel case in their history. They neither understood the character 
nor the system of their new foes. Perpetually immersed in local feuds, 
they had not gained ground either in military or national spirit since 
their old wars with the Danes. The men of one province cared little 
what misfortune befel those of another, provided their own territorv 
was safe. Singly, each of them had been hitherto able to cope with 
such foes as they were accustomed to ; but where combined action couh^ 
aJone suffice there was nothing to unite them ; they had no sentiment in 
common — no centre, no rallying principle. 

Mac Carthy, king of Desmond, was the first Irish prince who paid 
homage to Henry. Marching from Waterford to Lismore, and thence 
to Cashel, Henry was met near the latter town by Donnell O'Brien, 
king of Thomond, who swore fealty to him, and surrendered to him his 
city of Limerick. Afterwards there came in succession to do homage 
Mac Gilla Patrick, prince of Ossory, O'Phelan, prince of the Deisies, 
and various other chieftains of Leath Mogha. All w^ere most cour- 
teously received ; many of them were of course not a little dazzled 
by the splendour of Henry's court and his array of steel-clad knights ; 
some were perhaps glad to acknowledge a sovereign powerful enough 
to deliver them from the petty warfare with which they were harassed 
and exhausted ; but none of them understood Anglo-Norman rapacity, 
or could have imagined that in paying homage to Henry as a liege lord 
they were conveying to him the absolute dominion and ownership of 
their ancestral territories. 

So well was it known in Ireland that Henry disapproved of the inva- 
sion ot that country by Strongbow and the other adventui'erg, that the 


people of Wexford, who had got Fitz-Stephen into their hands, pretended 
to make a merit of their own exploit, and sent a deputation to Henry 
on his arrival to deliver to him the captive knight as one who had made 
war without his sovereign's permission. Henry kept up the farce by retain- 
ing FitzStephen for some time in chains and then restored him to liberty. 
From Cashel Henry returned to Waterford, and thence proceeded to 
Dublin, where he was received in great state, and where a temporary 
pavillion, constructed in the Irish fashion of twigs or wickerwork, was 
erected for him outside the walls,* no building in the city being spacious 
enough to accommodate his court. Here he remained to pass the festi- 
val of Christmas, and such of the Irish as were attracted thither by 
curiosity were entertained by him with a degree of magnificence and 
urbanity well calculated to win their admiration. Among the Irish 
princes who paid their homage to the English king in Dublin, were 
O'Can'oll of Oriel, and the veteran O'Rourke ; but the monarch Roderic, 
though thus abandoned by his oldest and most powerful ally, the chief 
of Breffiiv. as he had been already by so many others of his vassals, still 
continued to maintain an independent attitude. He collected an army 
on the banks of the Shannon, and seemed resolved to defend the fron- 
tiers of his kingdom of Connaught to the last ; thus regaining by this 
bold and dignified demeanour some at least of the esteem and sympathy 
which by his former weakness of character he had forfeited. Henry, 
whose object appeared to be not fighting but parade, did not march 
against the Irish monarch, but sent De Lacy and FitzAdelmf to treat 
with him ; and Roderic, on his own sovereignty being recognised, was, 
it is said, induced to pay homage to Henry through his ambassadors, aa 
it was customary in that age for one king to pay to another and more 
potent sovereign. We have no Irish authority, however, for this act of 
submission ; and as to the northern princes, they still withheld all recog- 
nition of the invader's sway. 

A.D. 1172. — At Henry's desire, a synod was held at Cashel in the 
beginning of this year. It was presided over by Christian, bishop of 
Lismore, who was then apostolic legate, and was attended by St. Lau- 
rence O'Toole of Dubhn, Cathohcus O'DufFy of Tuam, and Donald 
O'Hullucan of Cashel, with their suiFragan bishops, together with 
abbots, archdeacons, &c. ; Ralph, archdeacon of Landaff, and Nicholas, 
a royal chaplam, being present on the part of the king. It was decreed 

* "Near the church of St. Andrew, on the southera side of the ground now known as Uanie- 
slreet." — Gilberts HUt. of Dublin, vol. ii. p. 258. 

t This name is variously written Aldclm, Anddiu, and Adi.liu. 


at this synod that the prohibition of marriage within the canonical de- 
grees of consanguinity and affinity should be more strictly enforced; 
that children should be catechised before the church door, and baptized 
in the fonts in those churches appointed for the purpose ; that tithes of 
all the produce of the land should be paid to the clergy ; that church 
lands and other ecclesiastical property should be exempt from the exac- 
tions of laymen in the shape of periodical entertainment and livery, &c. ; 
and that the clergy should not be liable to any share of the eric or 
blood fine levied on the kindred of a man guilty of homicide There 
was also a decree regulating wills, by which one-third of a man's move- 
able property, after payment of his debts, was to be left to liis legiti- 
mate children, if he had any; another third to his wife, if she survived; 
and the remaining third for his funeral obsequies.* 

These decrees constitute the boasted reform of the Irish church 
introduced by Henry II. It will be observed that they indicate no trace 
of doctrinal error to be corrected, or even of gross abuse in discipline, 
unless it be the too general use of private baptism, and the celebration of 
marriage within the prohibited degrees, which at that time extended to 
very remote relationships. Eut the subject of this synod leads us to an 
incident of the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, which has been a 
fertile source of controversy — namely, the so-called subjection of Ireland 
to the dominion of the king of England, by the bulls of Adrian IV. and 
Alexander III. 

The temporal power exercised by the popes in the middle ages opens 
up a question too general for discussion here. It is enough for us to 
know that modern investigation has removed much of the misrepresenta- 
tion by which it was assailed. Irrespective of religious considerations, 
we see in the Roman pontiffs of that period the steadfast friends of order 
and enlightenment ; in their power the bulwark of the oppressed people 
against feudal tyranny, of civilization against barbarism ; and we should 
consider well the circumstances under which they acted and the received 
opinions of the age, before we condemn these vicegerents of Christ for 
proceedings in which their authority was invoked in the temporal affairs 
of nations. If this authority was sometimes perverted to their own pur- 
poses by ambitious kings, or its exercise surreptitiously obtained, that 

* The decrees of this synod refer solely to matters of ecclesiastical law, or church temporalities ; 
and the immunity which they grant in one case to the clergy, as well as the setting apart of a por- 
tion of each testator's property for the church, or for the " good of his soul," as it was generally ex- 
jiressed, were usuages which existed in Ireland before the coming of the Anglo-Normans. As to 
tithes, they had also been introduced by the Irish synod of Kells. See the observations on this sub- 
ject iu Dr. Kelly's Cambrensis Eversus, vol. ii., p. 546, &c., note. 


was not the fault of the popes nor of the principle ; as we shall find 
illustrated in the case we are now about to consider. 

Nicholas Breakspere, an Englishman, was elected pope under the title 
of Adrian IV., December 3rd, 1154, and Heniy II., who had come to the 
throne of England about a month earlier, sent soon after to congratulate 
his countryman on his elevation 1 iiis embassy was followed by another 
insidious one, the object of which was to represent to the pope that 
religion and morality were reduced to the loAvest ebb in the neighbour- 
ing island of Ireland ; that society there was torn to pieces by factions, 
and plunged in the most barbarous excesses ; that there was no respect 
for spiritual authority ; and that the king of England solicited the sane 
tion of his Holiness to visit that unhappy country in order to restore 
discipline and morals, and to compel the Irish to make a respectable 
provision for the church, such as already existed in England. This 
negociation, which indicates how long the idea of invading Ireland was 
entertained by the English king,* was entrusted by Henry to John of 
Salisbury, chaplain to Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, who urged, 
according to an opinion then received, that Constantine the Great had 
made a donation of all Christian islands to the successor of St. Peter; 
that, therefore, the pope, as owner of the island of Ireland, had the 
power to place it under the dominion of Henry ; and that he was bound 
to exercise that power in the interests of religion and morality 

A hostile authority confesses that " the popes were in general superior 
to the age in Avhich they lived ;"t but we have no right to expect that, 
on a subject of this temporal and political nature, they should have been 
so far in advance of the ideas of their times as to anticipate the political 
knowledge and discoveries of subsequent ages. We must also recollect 
that, however exaggerated the statements made to Adrian about Ireland 
may have been, they were not v/holly without foundation. It is not con- 
sistent with human nature that society should not have been disorganised 
more or less by the state of turbulence in which we know, from our authen- 
tic history, that this country was so long plunged at that period. It was 
precisely the period when the moral character of Ireland had suffered 
most in the estimation of foreign nations. St. Bernard's vivid pictm*e of 
the vices and abuses against which St. Malachy had to struggle, in one 
part of Ireland, had only just then been presented to the world St. 

* From an obscure expression used by a cotcmporary writer in the Saxon Chioiiiil ■, under tlio 
date of 1087, it may be mferred that even William the Conqueror liad some idea of invading Ireland ; 
as it is said that that king, "if he had lived two years longer would have siibdueil Ireland by hia 
prowess, and that without a bailie;" tbat is. tiiat tlie terror of iiis name would have been suUieieat. 

+ Koscoe, " Lee X." 


IMalachy was not long dead, and his reforms were less known than the 
abuses which had so loudly called for them. The recent efforts of the 
Irish prelates and clergy to restore discipline in the church, and piety 
and morals among the people, had only begun to produce their effects. 
Vices may have been as prevalent in other countries, but this did not 
render Ireland stainless. In fact, although Pope Adrian IV. had been 
himself the pupil of a learned Irish monk, named Marianus, at Paris, and 
had other sources of information on the subject, we are not to wonder 
that he should have formed a low estimate of the state of relio'ion and 
morals in Ireland, and lent a credulous ear to the exaggerated represen- 
tations of Henry's emissary. Little knowing the mind of the ambitious 
king, he, therefore, addressed to him his memorable letter, or bull, which 
was accompanied by a gold ring enriched with a precious emerald, as a 
sign of investiture.* 

The importance of this bull in our history has been monstrously 
exaggerated. It can have had little, if any, influence on the destinies 

* The following is the bull of Pope Adrian, as translated by Dr. Kelly from the Vatican version, 
published by Lynch in the Camhrensis Eversus, (vol. ii. p. 410, ed. of 1850) :— 

" Adrian, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his most dear son in Christ, the illustrious 
king of the English, greeting and apostolical benediction. 

" The design of 3'our Greatness is praiseworthy and most useful, to extend the glory of your 
name on earth and to increase the reward of your eternal happiness in heaven ; for, as becomes a 
Catholic prince, you intend to extend the limits of the Church, to announce the truth of the Chris- 
lian religion to an ignorant and barbarous people, and to pluck up the seeds of vice from the field 
of the Lord, ■while, to accomplish your design more effectually, you implore the counsel and aid of 
the Apostolic See. The more exalted your views and the greater your discretion in this matter, the 
more confident are our hopes, that with the help of God, the result will be more favorable to you ; 
because whatever has its origin in ardent faith and in love of religion, always has a prosperous end 
and issue. Certainly it is beyond a doubt (and thy nobility itself has recognised the truth of it), 
that Ireland, and all the islands upon which Christ, the sun of justice, has shone, and wiiich have 
tnibraced the doctrines of the Christian faith, belong of right to St. Peter and tlie holy Roman 
Churcli. We, therefore, the more willingly plant them with a faithful plantation, and a seed 
pleasing to the Lord, as we know by internal examination, that a very rigorous account must be 
rendered of them. Thou hast communicated to us, our very dear son in Christ, that thou wouldst 
enter the Lsland of Ireland, to subject its people to obedience of laws, to eradicate the seeds of vice, 
and also to make every house pay the annual tribute of one penny to the Blessed Peter, and preserve 
the rights of the church of that laud whole and entire. Receiving your laudable and pious desire 
with tlie favour it merits, and granting our kind consent to your petition.m is our wish and desire 
that, for the extension of the limits of the Church, the checking of the torrent of vice, the correction 
cf morals, the sowing of the seeds of virtue, and the propagation of the religion of Christ, thou 
bbouldat enter ihat island, and there execute whatever thou shalt tliink conducive to the honor of 
God and the salvation of that landj^and let the people of that land receive thee with honor, and 
venerate thee as their lord, saving the right of the Church, whicli must remain untouclied and entire, 
and the annual pavment of one penny from each house to Saint Peter and the holy Church of Rome. 
If then thou wisliest to carry into execution what thou hast conceived in thy mind, endeavour to 
form that people to good morals ; and both by thyself and those men whom thou hast proved 
qualified in faitii, in words, and in life, let the Churcii of that country be adorned, let the religion 
<>( the faith of Christ be planted and increased, and all that concerns the glory of God and the 
•■^jilvation of souls be so ordained by thee, that thou mayest deserve to obtain from God an increase 
ol thy everlasting reward, and a glorious name on earth in all ages. Given at Rome, &c., itc." 


of Ireland. After the bull had been obtained on a false pretence, and 
to give a color to an ambitious design, a council of state was held in 
England to consider the projected invasion; but partly through defer- 
ence to his mother, the empress, who was opposed to it, and partly 
from the pressure of other affairs, the project was for the present 
abandoned by Henry, and the papal document deposited in the archives 
of Winchester. Thirteen years after we have seen Dermot Mac- 
Murrough at the feet of Henry, imploring English aid. A few years 
more pass away, and we behold the English monarch making a 
triumphant progress through Leinster, and receiving the submission of 
the kings of Desmond and Thomond, and Ossory, and Breffiiy, and 
Oriel, if not that of Roderic himself; yet, not one word is breathed, 
all this time, about the grant from Adrian IV. We have no ground 
for supposing that the existence of that grant was even known to the 
Irish prelates, who, following the example of their respective princes, 
also paid their homage, and assembled at the call of Henry in the synod 
of Casliel ; nor does one word about it appear to have transpired among 
the clergy or people of Ireland until it was promulgated, together with 
a confirmatory bull of Alexander III., at a synod held in Waterford in 
1175, some twenty years after the grant had been originally made, and 
when the success of the invasion had been an accomplished fact. Some 
Irish historians have questioned the authenticity of Pope Adrian's bull ; 
but there appears to be no solid reason for doubt upon the subject.* 
Others, like Dr. Keating, assign, as a ground for the right assumed by 
the pope, a tradition that Donough, son of Brian Borumha, had made 
a present of the crown of Ireland to the reigning pontiff, when he went 
on a pilgrimage to Rome about the year 1064; but this story merits no 
attention. The equally fabulous donation of Constantine the Great, 
even if it had been made, could not have included Ireland, to which 
the power of the Roman empire never had extended.- Irish Catholic 
historians have always been sufficiently fi*ee in their animadversions 
on the " English pope," as Adrian IV. is styled, for his grant ; but 
a consideration of the real circumstances, as we have endeavoured 
to explain them, would shew how unwarrantable such severity has been. 
The character of that pontiff was altogether too exalted to afford any 

* See this point ably handled by Dr. Lanigan, F.ccl. Hist., vol. iv. p. 16-1, &c., also the notes 
and illustrations of the Macarioe Excidium, p. 242, <icc. Adrian's bull appears in the BuUarluin 
Romanum, though Alexander's bull does not. It was inserted by Hadulfus of Diceto, a cotempo- 
rary writer, in his Ymagines Ilistoriarum, and was published by Cardinal Baronius from a Cvdez 
V'aticanui. It was recited by the Irish princes in their remonstrance to John XXII., in tiie re'^a 
of Edward II , and appears in the Scoti-Chronicon of Joha of Fordun, and in other old writera. 


ground for supposing that he acted from an unworthy motive. We 
have no reason to think that his intentions were other than the 
religious ones he expresses, or that they were not wholly opposed to 
the ambitious views of the English monarch; and we know how 
utterly the conditions specified in the bull were disregarded in the 
Anglo-Norman invasion and subsequent government of Ireland. Some 
show of fulfilling these conditions was necessary, and hence the pre- 
tended reform of the Irish church, which the synod of Cashel was sum- 
moned to effect. We have enumerated the decrees of that synod to 
shew in what the reform consisted. The prelates assembled at Cashel, 
and who acted only firom a sense of duty, joined in a report or wrote 
letters for transmission to the then pope, Alexander III., and it would 
appear that whatever faults were laid to the charge of the Irish were, in 
this document or documents, neither diminished nor excused. The 
Archdeacon of LlandafF accompanied this report by a more ample one, 
in which the representations as to the vices of the people, the power and 
magnanimity of the king, and the salutary eftect which his authority 
had already produced, were no doubt highly colored. Just as Adrian's 
letter had been granted to Henry before that prince's vicious character 
was developed, and before he had begun to wage war on the church in 
England; so had the same unprincipled and hypocritical monarch con- 
trived to expiate his crimes in the eyes of the pope and to exhibit him- 
self as an humble son of tlie church before Alexander was called upon 
to interpose in his favor. Hence, appeased by the king's submission, 
\ which was the humblest and seemingly the most contrite possible, and 
1 with the bull of his predecessor, Adrian, and the reports he had just re- 
1 ceived from Ireland before him, the sovereign pontiff was induced to 
confirm the former grant. At the same time he issued tlu*ee other 
letters, dated September 20th, one addressed to Henry himself, approv- 
ing of his proceedings; another to " the kings and pi'inces of Hibernia," 
commending them for their "voluntary" and "prudent" submission to 
Henry, admonishing them to preserve unshaken the fealty which they 
had sworn to him, and expressing joy at the prospect of peace and 
tranquillity for their country, " with God's help, through the power of 
the same king." The third letter was addressed to the four archbishops 
of Ireland and their suffragans ; and in it the pope refers to the infor- 
mation which he had received from " other rehable sources," as well as 
from their communications relative to " the enormous vices with which 
the Irish people were infected ;" he designates that people as " barbar- 
ous, rude, and ignorant of the divine law;'' rejoices at the improvement 


^vllich had alreadv begun to manifest itself in tlieir manners ; and exliorts 
and commands the prelates to use all diligence in promoting and maintain- 
ing a reform so happily commenced, and in taking care that the fidelity 
plighted to the king should not be violated* Such is the history of 
those famous papal grants, of Avhich sectarian industry as well as 
wounded national feelings, has greatly magnified the importance and 
misrepresented the origin. 

Besides the synod of Cashel; which was convoked for ecclesiastical 
purposes, a council was held about this time at Lismore, in which it was 
decreed that the laws and customs of England should be introduced 
into Ireland, for the use of the British subjects settling there. The na- 
tive Irish, however, still lived under their own laws and traditional 
usages; but the protection and benefits of English law were extended 
in process of time to five Irish septs or families, who in the law documents 
of the period are called the " five bloods." These were the O'Neills of 
Ulster, the O'Melaghlins of Meath, the O'Conors of Connauglit, the 
O'Briens of Thomond, and the MacMurroughs of Leinster. It was 
several hundred years later, namely, in the reign of James I., when 
English law was extended to Ireland in general, and even then it was 
found necessary to modify it for the purpose of adaptation. 

Henry made a new grant of the principality of Leinster to Strongbow, 
subject to the feudal conditions of homage and military service. He 
appointed Hugh de Lacy justiciary of Ireland, and granted him the 
territory of Meath, to be held by similar feudal service. A large 
territory in the south of Ireland was conferred about this time on 
FitzGerald. the ancestor of the earls of Desmond ; and thus was com- 
menced, on a large scale, that wholesale confiscation by which the land 
of Ireland was taken indiscriminately from its ancient possessors, and 
grantet , without any show of title, to the Anglo-ISlorman adventurers. 
This was only a repetition of what had taken place in England itself on 
the conquest of that country by William tlie Morman. The Saxons 
incurred the contempt of their invaders from the facility with which 
they suffered themselves to be subdued, and tlieir property was every- 
where confiscated ; so that the Saxon element in the English charactei 
affords, historically speaking, no ground for national boasting. The 
descendants of the plunderers, equally rapacious, found a new field for 
spoliation in Ireland, and carried out their old system there with a total 

* Tliese three letters, which escaped the attention of preceding Irish historians, are published Id 
Mr. O'Callaghan's Macaria Exddimn, p. 225, et sej., and again from another source in the Appea< 
dix to tliat learned and laborious work. 

208 ^ -lEIGN OF HENRY TT. 

disregard of both mercy and justice. Subduing a territory generally signi- 
fied among the ancient Irish only a transitory act of plunder or the exact- 
ing of hostages. With the Anglo-Normans of the days of Henry II. and 
of after times, to obtain superiority of power in a country, whether by 
conquest or otherwise, signified, on the contrary, the complete transfer 
to themselves of every foot of land in the country, and the plunder, and, 
if possible, extermination of its ancient population. 

Nor did the church of Ireland fare better than the laity, notwith- 
standing the provision of Pope Adrian's bull, that it should be preserved 
intact and inviolate. Giraldus Cambrensis, describing what he witnessed 
himself, and certainly without any friendly leaning towards the Irish, 
says : — " The miserable clergy are reduced to beggary in the island. The 
cathedral churches mourn, having been robbed by the aforesaid persons 
(the leading adventurers) and others along with them, or who came over 
after them, of the lands and ample estates, which had been formerly 
granted to them faithfully and devoutly. And thus the exalting of 
the church has been changed into the despoiling or plundering of the 
church." And again he confesses that "while we (the Anglo-Normans) 
conferred nothing on the church of Christ in our new principality, we 
not only did not think it worthy of any important bounty, or of due 
honor ; but even, having immediately taken away the lands and pos- 
sessions, have exerted ourselves either to mutilate or abrogate its former 
dfgnities and ancient privileges."* 

Besides the princely rewards bestowed on Hugh de Lacy, as already 
mentioned, he was also appointed lord constable ; Strongbow is supposed 
to have borne the dignity of lord marshal ; the office of high steward 
or seneschal was conferred on Sir Bertram de Vernon ; and Sir Theobald 
Walter, ancestor of the earls of Ormonde, was appointed to the then 
high office of king's butler, whence his descendants derived their family 
name. By the creation of these and other offices the king organised a 
system of colonial government in Ireland. 

Intercourse with England having been for a long while interrupted 
by tempestuous weather, Henry, while at Wexford, whither he had re- 
moved from Dublin, at length received alarming intelligence, to the 
effect that an investigation relative to the murder of St. Thomas 
a Becket was proceeding by the pope's orders in Normandy, and 
that if he did not speedily appear there to defend himself, his dominions 
were threatened with an interdict. He accordingly prepared to depart 
from Ireland without waiting to complete his arrangements there, and 

* Uib. Ea-pug. as quoted by Dr. Lanigan. £rcl [fist., vol. iv. p. 25ii, 


sailed on Easter Monday, April 17th. On landing the same day in 
Wales, he went as a pilgrim to St. David's church, and thence hastened 
to Normardy, where he humbled himself in the presence of the papal 
legates and of the bishops and barons ; sparing no humiliation to puro-e 
himself of his crimes in the eyes of the sovereign pontiff, who thus, as 
we have already seen, became reconciled to him. 

The city of Dublin was granted by Henry to the inhabitants of 
Bristol, and Hugh de Lacy left as governor, Avith Maurice FitzGerald 
and Robert FitzStephen to assist him, each of the three having a guard 
of twenty knights. The city of Waterford was given in charoe to 
Humphry de Bohen, who had under him Robert FitzBernard and Hugh 
de Gundeville, with a company of twenty knights ; while Wexford was 
committed to William FitzAdelm, whose lieutenants were Philip de 
Hastings and Philip de Breuse, with a similar guard. ! Henry also 
ordered strong castles to be built without delay in these towns ; and thus, 
after a six months' stay in Ireland, did he abandon that imhappy country 
as a prey to a host of greedy, upstart adventurers, whom he enriched 
with its spoils, that they might have an interest in defending their 
common plunder. ■ 



Death of Ticrnan O'Rourkc and treachery of the Invaders. — Strongbow's Expedi- 
tion to OfFaly, and Defeat. — The Earl called to Normandy. — His speedy lieturn. 
— Dissensions among the Anglo-iS[ormans. — Eaymond's Popularity with the 

- Anny. — His Spoliations in Offaly and Lismore. — His Ambition and With- 
drawal from Ireland. — rAn English Army cut to pieces at Thurles. — Ray- 
mond's Return and Marriage. — Roderic's Expedition to Meath. — The Bulls 

Promulgated Limerick Captured by Raymond. — Serious Charges against him. 

— His Success at Cashel, and Submission of O'Erien. — Treaty between Roderio 
and Henry II. — Attempt to Murder St. Laurence O'Toole. — Death of St. 
Gelasius. — Episode of the Blessed Cornelius. — Raymond le Gros in Desmond. — 
Hostile Proceedings of Donnell O'Brien. — Death of Strongbow. — His Character. 
Massacre of the Invaders at Slane. — De Courcy's Expedition to Ulster. — 
Conduct of Cardinal Vivian. — Battles with the TJlidians — Supposed Fulfil- 
ment of Prophecies. — The Legatc'ti Proceedings in Dublin. — Do Cogan's 
Expedition to Connaught, and Retreat. — John made King of Ireland. — 
Grants by Henry to the Adventurers. 

(A.M. 1172 lo A.O. 1178.; 

\ 'ROURKE, to whom the territory of east Meath had been 
given by the monarch, Roderic, on the expulsion of the 
usurper O'JMelaghlin, called Donnell of Bregia, in 1169, 
did not submit without remonstrance to the encroach- 
ments of Hugh De Lacy ; who, by no other title than 
that which he obtained from the king of England, 
claimed the whole of the ancient kingdom of Meath as 
his property ; and a conference was arranged between 
them shortly after the departure of Henry. The inter- 
view took place at Tlachtgha, now tlie Hill of Ward, 
near Athboy, and it was settled that the two chief- 
tains should meet alone and unarmed on the summit 
of the hill. The Ii-ish prince had left the party of foot 


soldiers by wlioin lie was escorted at some distance from the foot oF 
the hill; but De Lacy came attended by a small band of well-mounted 
knights in armour, who tilted around the hill and on its side; but while 
displaying, as it were, their skill with lance and buckler, were intent 
upon a more serious game. Mam-ice Fitzgerald, whose nephew, GrifFith, 
was in command of this guard, also accompanied De Lacy. We are 
told by Giraldus that this Griffith dreamt the preceding night that 
0'E,ourke would attack his master ; that the movements of the mounted 
troop were consequently directed to guard against such a contingency ; 
and that the dream was, in fact, on the point of being fulfilled, as they 
saw O'Rourke beckon to his men to approach, and then raise a battle- 
axe to strike De Lacy. The chiefs having met without arms, we 
should have been told where O'Rourke found the battle-axe. It is 
said that De Lacy fell twice in his endeavours to escape — a circumstance 
not much to his credit, considering that his antagonist was a very old 
man. The arm of the interpreter Avas cut off by a blow from O'Rourke's 
battle-axe aimed at De Lacy, and it was only then, forsooth, that the 
knights rushed to the rescue, cut down O'Rourke, and slaughtered the 
party of Irish infantry, who were coming to their prince's aid. As 
related thus by their own historian, the story indicates a premeditated 
act of treachery on the part of the Anglo-Normans ; and the Four 
Masters are, we may be sure, justified in saying that O'Rourke was 
treacherously slain by Hugh De Lacy and Donnell O'Rourke, his own 
kinsman, who was probably the interpreter alluded to. He was be- 
headed, and his remains conveyed ignominiously to Dublin, where his 
head was placed over the gate of the fortress, and his body gibbeted 
with the feet upwards on the northern side of the city. The English 
account adds, that the head, after tliis insulting treatment, was sent into 
England to Henry. Thus perished the brave and unfortunate Tiernan 
O'Rourke, after a long and eventful career.* 

About this time Strongbow led an army of 1,000 horse and foot into 
Offaly, to lay waste the territory of O'Dempsey, who had refused to 
attend his court; and meeting with no opposition, he spread desolation 
wherever he came. Returning, however, through a defile, laden with 
spoils, he was set upon in the rear by O'Dempsey, who had been collect- 
ino- his adlierents, and avIio i>ave the Eniilish a serious overthrow, 

* Tilt Four Masters, under the j-ear 1175, say that " Planus O'Melaghlin, lord of east Meath, 
■"IS I'.anged by English after they iiad acted treacherously townrdx Iiini at 'I'lim;" audit 

appears that some writers have confounded this act of treachery with that uicntiDned above. 
Moore charges Mac (ieoghegan with an intentional error on this subject ; but unjustly, for Wata 
»nd Co.x had fallen iuto ihu sainu niistako bofore hiui 

212 TlTAOy OF HEXFvY 11. 

slaving several of their knights, and among them young Robert De 
Quincy, who had only jvist been married to Strongbow's daughter by a 
former marriage, Avith whom he had obtained a large territory in Wex- 
ford as a dowry. Before he could take any step to repair this defeat, 
the earl received an order from Henry to attend him with a reinforce- 
ment of men in Normandy, where the king was endeavouring to make 
head against a formidable league entered into against him by his own 
sons. The prompt obedience of Strongbow on this occasion was com- 
mended and rewarded by Henry ; but as the Irish chieftains had begun 
to repent of their hasty and humiliating submission, and disunion had 
appeared in the Anglo-Norman ranks in Ireland, the king thought it 
better to send the earl back, and in doing so invested him with the rank 
of viceroy, and granted to him, in addition to his other possessions, the 
city of Waterford, and a castle at Wicklow. 

A.D. 1173 — A jealousy had arisen between Strongbow's uncle, Hervey 
of Mountmaurice, who held chief command in the army of Ireland, and 
his lieutenant, Raymond le Gros. The latter Avas the favorite of the 
soldiers, who presented themselves in a body before the earl on his re- 
turn, and threatened that if Raymond did not get the command, they 
would either abandon the country or go over to the Irish. Strongbow 
was compelled to yield to their mutinous demand, and Raymond, who 
understood their wishes and was Avilling to indulge them, led them forth 
to plunder the Irish They first marched into the centre of Offaly, and 
having ravaged th^t territory, they next entered Munster, and proceeded 
as far as the anciout town of Lismore, which, as well as the surrounding 
districts, was also abandoned to their merciless spoliation. Of the im- 
mense quantity of plunder collected, a large portion was placed on 
board some bocts which had just arrived at Lismore from Waterford, 
for conveyan(.e to the latter city. The convoy was attacked at the 
mouth of the river by a squadron of small vessels sent for the pui'pose 
by the Ostm^n of Cork, but after a sharp conflict, the latter were 
defeated, and the booty was carried off in triumph. MacCarthy, prince 
of Desmond, was coming to the aid of his subjects of Cork, when 
Raymond, with a strong body of cavalry, encountered him on the way, 
and fortune again favored the Anglo-Normans, who drove before them 
4,000 cows and sheep along the coast to Waterford. Upon this, Ray- 
moad, Avhose ambition rose with his success, demanded of Strongbew 
his sister, Basilia, in marriage, and the appointment of constable and 
standard-bearer of Leinster, that is, the civil and military command of 
that province, which had been held by the earl's son-in-law, De Quincy; 


but the haughty req^uest was rejected, and Raymond reth'ed in (lis<;List 
to Wales, where his father had died about this time. 

A.D. 1174. — On the departure of Raymond, the command of the army 
once more devolved on Hervey, by whose advice an expedition, with 
Strongbow himself at its head, was undertaken against Donnell O'Brien. 
This campaign was disastrous to the English. The earl, finding that he 
had a more powerful army than he expected to contend with, sent to 
Dublin for reinforcements, which were to meet him at Cashel ; but, 
according to the Anglo-Norman accounts, these fresh troops, which, say 
they, consisted of the Ostmen of Dublin in the English service, were set 
upon by O'Brien in their march, and while overcome by sleep at their 
quarters, were cut off almost to a man, 400 of them having been 
slaughtered nearly without resistance. This account is framed to con- 
ceal the disgrace of the defeat ; but the Irish annalists give a different 
version. They say that king Roderic marched to the aid of the king 
of Thomond, and that the English, on hearing of his arrival in Munster, 
solicited the assistance of the Ostmen of Dublin, who obeyed the sum- 
mons, and made no delay till they came to Durlas of Eliogarty, the 
modern Thurles. Here they were attacked by Donnell O'Brien, with 
his Dalcassians, who were supported by the battalions of West Con- 
naught and of the Sil-Murray, or O'Conor's country, and after hiird 
fighting, the English, (or rather, Ostmen) were defeated, seventeen hun- 
dred of them, according to the Four Masters, or seven hundred, 
according to the annals of Innisfallen — which is probably the correct 
number — having been slain in the battle. Strongbow fled, with the few 
men who remained, to Waterford, where — or as some say, in the Little 
Island near that city — he shut himself up in a state of deep afiliction. 

Tliis success over the invaders was a signal to the Irish chieftains in 
general to throw off the foreign yoke. Even Donnell Kavanagh set up 
a claim to his father's territory*, and Gillamochalmog, and other Leinster 
chiefs who had been in alliance with the English, revolted. The loss 
of their properties and the system of military rapine to which theii* 
country was subjected drove them to this course. At the same time, 
Roderic O'Conor, with a numerous army, invaded Aieath, causing the 
xVnglo-Xorman garrisons to fly in trepidation from the castles which 
they had erected at Trim and Duleek. In this emergency Strongbow 
had no resource but to send to Raj-mond le Gros in Wales, inviting him 
to return speedily with all the troops he could raise, and promising hir.i 

• The Four Masters say that Donnell Kavanagh, who was so callpd fiom Kilravan, near D.ufv, 
in Wextbrtl, v, ?re lie mn Ibstereu, was iroaclu rously slain, in 117."), iiv ( t'l'"ointtn;iii anil CNuiio. 


the hand of Basilia and the offices Avhieh he had demanded. Rapnond 
joyfully obeyed this summons, and arrived in Waterford with the least 
possible delay, accompanied by a force of thirty knights, all of his ovm 
kindred, 100 men at- arms, and 300 archers. This succour was most 
timeh% as the Ostmen of Waterford were meditating a massacre of the 
Anglo-Normans, which was actually carried into execution after Strong- 
bow and his immediate followers had left the city to accompany the 
newly-arrived force to Wexford. From the Annals of Innisfallen it 
would appear that this massacre, in which 200 of the Anglo-Norman 
garrison fell, took place immediately after the battle of Thurles, but 
the more consistent account is that just given ; and it happened that a 
number of the garrison escaped into Reginald's tower, from which they 
were subsequently able to recover possession of the city, compelling the 
Ostmen to submit to severe terms. 

The nuptials of Basilia and Raymond were celebrated with great pomp 
and rejoicings at Wexford, but in the midst of the festivities news of 
Roderic's advance almost to the gates of Dublin was received, and the 
next mornincp the bridePTOom w^as obliged to march with all the available 
troops towards the north. Accustomed only to desultory warfare, the 
Irish were always content with the success of the moment, and rarely 
thought of following up a blow ; so that Roderic's army, satisfied witli 
the destruction of a few of the enemy's strongholds, and with the devas- 
tation of the territory, had already broken up, and each detachment had 
withdrawn to its own district before Raymond could arrive ; although it 
is said the latter fell on the rear of some of the retiring parties and cut 
oiF 150 men. Hugh Tyrrel, who had been leffc by De Lacy in command 
of the castle of Trim, was now ordered to restore the forts which the 
Irish army had demolished ; and thus Roderic's expedition ended like 
any ordinary foray. 

A. D. 1175. In this posture of afuiirs Henry II. thought it high time to 
try the effect of the Papal bulls, which, although mentioned already in 
connection with the events of a preceding year, now came, for the first 
time, to the knowledge of either the clergy or the people of Ireland. 
For this purpose he commissioned William FitzAdehn and Nicholas, 
Prior of Wallingford, to carry these documents to Ireland, where they 
were publicly read at a synod of the bishops convened for the occasion 
at Waterford; but how the bulls were received, or what effect they 
produced at the moment, we are not told. 

For the twofold purpose of gratifying the insatiable rapacity of the sol- 
diery and of taking revenge on Donnell O'Brien for the defeat at Thurlesy 


Raymond led an army against Limerick, which was ci\ptm-ed throuoli 
the gallant conduct of his nephews and himself in fording the Shannon, 
and was then abandoned to carnage and plunder. But on the return of 
FitzAdelm and Nicholas of Wallingf ord, they represented to Henry that 
these sanguinary exploits of Rajmiond's led to the disorganization of the 
iU'my, and to outbreaks and resistance on the part of the Irish. The 
soldiers, they said, were converted into mere rapacious marauders, and 
the hostility of the Irish rendered doubly inveterate ; Avhile, to make the 
complaint more serious, it was stated that the popular general had formed 
a plan to usurp, by the aid of the army, the dominion of tlie island. 
This report emanated from Hervey, who detested Raymond ; but there 
can be no doubt that a great portion of it was strictly true, although the 
last-mentioned charge was probably malicious and unfounded. Com- 
missioners were immediately despatched by the king to bring Raymond 
before him in Normandy; but at this juncture, and when Raymond 
seemed most desirous to obey the summons in order to vindicate his 
character, news arrived that the ever-active king of Thomond had laid 
siege to Limerick, where the Anglo-Norman garrison could not long 
hold out. Strongbow ordered an army to march from Dublin to then- 
relief, but the men refused to move unless their favorite general was 
put at their head. The royal commissioners were consulted, and, by 
their advice, Raymond was once more placed in command, and marched 
towards Limerick with a force consisting of nearly 300 cavalry, of whom 
fourscore were heavy armed, and 300 archers, a large body of Irish 
infantry under the princes of Ossory and Hy Kinsellagh joining them 
on the route. At the approach of this army, O'Brien raised the siege, 
and took up a position in a pass near Cashel, where he hoped to inter- 
cept their march. The prince of Ossory, seeing his Anglo-Norman 
allies, as he thought, hesitate in the face of the enemy, addressed them 
menacingly, and told them that if they allowed themselves to be van- 
quished they would have to fight against the men of Ossory as well as 
against those of Thomond. Meyler FitzHenry led the vanguard and 
forced the pass, and the Thomond army was routed with considerable 

The result of this defeat was the submission of O'Brien, and some 
negociations on the part of Roderic with Raymond. But the Irish 
monarch, instead of treating definitively with a subordinate, sent ambas- 
sadors to Henry II. himself, and in September, 1175, Cadhla or Cathohcus 
O'Duffy, archbishop of Tuam, Concors, abbot of St. Brendan's of Clon- 
fert, and the illustrious archbishop of Dublin, who is here called "Master 


Lam'ence, his chancellor,"* proceeded to England as liis plenipotentiaries. 
A council was held at Windsor, Avithin the octave of Michaelmas, and a 
treaty was agreed on, the articles of which were to the effect that 
Roderic was to be king under Henry, rendering him service as liis 
vassal ; that he was to hold his hereditary territory of Connaught in the 
same way as before the coming of Henry into Ireland; that he was to 
have jurisdiction and dominion over the rest of the island, including its 
kings and princes, whom he should oblige to pay tribute, through his 
hands, to the king of England ; that these kings and princes were also 
to hold their respective territories as long as they remained faithful to 
the king of England and paid their tribute to him ; that if they departed 
from their fealty to the king of England, Roderic was to judge and 
depose them, either by his own power, or, if that were not sufficient, by 
the aid of the Anglo-Norman authorities ; but that his jurisdiction should 
not extend to the territories occupied by the English settlers, which at 
a later period was called the English Pale, and then comprised Meath 
and Leinster, Dublin, with its dependent district, Waterford, and the 
country thence to Dungarvan. The annual tribute required from the 
Irish was a merchantable hide for every tenth head of cattle killed in 
Ireland; and the princes who gave hostages were, besides, for feudal 
service, to give presents of Irish wolf-dogs and hawks ; any of the Irish 
who had fled from the territories occupied by the English barons were 
to be at liberty to return and to reside there in peace ; and the king of 
Connaught might compel any of his own subjects to come back from the 
other territories, and to remain quietly in his landi. 

The terms of this remarkable treaty fix the nature and extent of the 
power which Henry II. claimed in Ireland. Nothing was added by it 
to the extent of territory within which the dominiorf of the king of 
England was acknowledged. He was recognized as a superior feudal 
sovereign; but, as we have already remarked, the Irish princes did not 

* Although the signature of St. Laurence was one of those attached to the treaty of Windsor, 
Dr. Lanigan does not seem to think he was identical with " Master Laurence,'' Roderic's chan- 
cellor. — (Eccl. Hist., chap, xxix., sec. ix.) It is probable that the good archbishop had gone 
to England, on business connected with his diocese; and it was on this occasion, while proceeding 
one day to celebrate mass in tlie cathedral of Canterbury, where he was received with great 
veneration by the monlts, that a madman who had heard a great deal of his sanctity, and thought 
it would be a good action to confer on him the crown of martyrdom, attempted to kill him at the 
foot of the altar, by striking him on the head with a huge club. Tlie monks, in great alarm, 
believed that the holy archbishop was mortally wounded, but he desired them to wash the wound 
on his head with some water, over which he had previously said the Lord's Prayer and made the 
sign of the cross, and he was inmiediately healed and enabled to go through the sacred ceremonies. 
The king, who was then at Canterbury, condemned the intended assassin to be liai;ged, and St 
Laurence had great <liliicuity in obtainng liis p^irdon. 


conceive that by these new relations the fee-simple of the soil was 
transferred to Henry. So far, the territory over which his actual 
dominion extended, seems to have been almost unresistingly yielded up 
to him; but, as if to compensate for the fatal apathy with which this 
intrusion was allowed to take place, every further encroachment was 
resisted by the Irish of that and of subsequent times with manful and 
desperate energy. Thus, not only was the English colony long circum- 
scribed within its first limits, which comprised less than a third of the 
island, but it became after a few reigns much more restricted; while 
throughout the rest of the country the Irish language, laws, and usages 
prevailed as they had hitherto done. Yet, we constantly hear of the 
" conquest'' of Ireland by Henry II. 

As the first exercise of his authority under the treaty, Henry appointed 
an Irishman named Augustin to the then vacant see of Waterford, and 
sent him, under the care of St. Laurence, to receive consecration from 
the archbishop of Cashel, as his metropolitan. This act Avas intended 
as a concession to the Irish clergy. 

The venerable primate, Giolla Macliag, or St. Gelasius, as he is called by 
Colgan, died in the year 1173, at the patriarchal age of eighty-seven years. 
He did not attend the synod of Cashel in 1172, although he went on a 
visitation of Connaught, and presided at a synod of that province the 
same year, on which occasion three churches were consecrated. He 
however, paid his respects to Henry II. in Dublin, and the circumstance 
of his having in his train a white cow, on the milk of which he chiefly 
subsisted, is mentioned by Cambrensis. He was succeeded in the see of 
Armagh by Conor Mac Concoille, previously abbot of the chiu'ch of 
SS. Peter and Paul in that city, and Avho has recently become familiar 
to Irish readers as the Blessed Cornelius, under circumstances of an 
interesting character.* Among other remarkable Irish ecclesiastics who 

* Very soon after his consecration as archbishop, Conor or Conchobliar M;ic Concoiile proceeded, 
on the affairs of his diocese, to Kome, and was supposed to have died tliere, liis death being recorded 
in the Irish clironicles as having occurred in Home in 1 175 or 1176. It appears, however, that the 
holy prelate had left Rome, where he ^vas treated witli great distinction by Pope .\le.^ander III , 
and that, liastening towards liis own afflicted country, he had got on his return as far as Savoy, 
where he fell sick, and died in 1176, in tlie monastery of St. Peter of Le:nenc, near the city of 
Chamberry. The sanctity of his manners and of his death inspired both tlie monks and the people 
with singular veneration for his memory. Several miracles are recorded as having been performed at 
his shrine, from the time immediately following his death down to a very recent date, and his 
festival is annually celebrated there, with great solemnity, on the Ith of June, tlie anniversary of 
his death. By providential circumstance-^, the fact of this veneration for an ancient archbishop of 
Armagh, in a diitant countrj', was brought to the knowledge of the present distinguished successor 
of St. Patrick, the Mo't l!ev. Dr. Dixon, while visiting liome in 1854, to be present at the dec- 
laration of the dogiiiu of tl'n Immaculate Conception. His Grate directed his iion.iiv.aid r.'Ute 

|Pt8 REIG^J -OF HENRY 11- 

c osed their career about this time, was Flahertach O'Brollachan, com- 
h? ,rb of St. Columbkille, and first bishop of Derrj, a man eminent for 
h>s learning and liberality. He died in 1175, having resigned his see 
seme years before and retired to his monastery ; and from his time the 
ancient Columbian order would seem to have almost wholly given way 
to the continental religious orders.* 

On the overthrow of O'Brien, near Cashel, in 1175, Rajonond was 
invited into Desmond by Dermot Mac Carthy, to aid him in putting 
down the rebellion of his son Cormac. The invitation was eagerly 
accepted. Dermot was reinstated, and he rewarded Raymond with the 
district in Kerry of which Lixnaw is the centre, Avhere his youngest son 
Mj-urice became the founder of the family of Fitzmaurice ;t while the 
troops returned to Limerick, glutted with plunder. Mac Carthy was 
again assailed by his unnatural son, and cast into prison ; but, vdiile there, 
he found means to procure the death of the rebel Cormac, whose head 
was cut off. The Anglo-Normans, as we shall see in the sequel, sided 
with equal readiness with a son against his father, or with a father against 
his son. They only sought pay and plunder, and increase of territorv 
for themselves. 

The Irish Annals, under the date of 1175, accuse Donnell O'Brien of 
sundry acts of aggression. Donnell Mac Gillapatrick, son of the prince 
of Ossory, was slain by him, and he also slew the son of O'Conor of 
Corcomroe, a Thomond prince ; and put out the eyes of his own relatives, 
Dermct, son of Tiege O'Brien, and Mahon, son of Turlough O'Brien, in 
their hecise at Castleconnell, the death of Dermot following from the 
outrage. Upon this Roderic O'Connor marched into Munster, and 

thrcfugh C&amberry, obtained some of the relics of his sainted predecessor for his own ancient 
church of Armagh, and, on his return, wrote a very interesting book, in which all the facts relating 
to this s'-iycct, so full both of historical and religious interest, are detailed. [See " The Blessed 
Comeliw ; or, some tidings of an archbishop of Armagh who went to Rome in the 12th century, 
and did not return," &c. By the Most Rev. Joseph Dixon, archbishop of Armagh. Dublin : 
James I/uffy.] The Irish name of Coiichobhar, now pronounced Conor, sounded to foreign ears 
like the French word Concord, which is the name by which this holy Irish prelate has been known 
in Savoy. It has been traditionally latinized Cornelius. The circumstances connected with the 
Blessed Cornelius aflbrd a striking ilhisLration of the veneration paid in foreign countries to Irish 
saints, whose names have almost dropped from the mcmoiy of their own. 

* A holy person, whose name appears in the Irish Calendars as St. Gilda-Mochaibeo, and who is 
praised for superior learning and wisdom as ■well as pjcty, died the proceeding year. He was a 
cotempdrary of St. Malachy, and was abbot of the Augustinian Canons Regular of SS. Peter and 
Paul, Armagh; and in the same year, 1174, is recorded the death of Flann O'Gorman, chief 
lecturer of Armagh, " a learned sage, versed in sacred and profane philosophj' ;" and who is said 
to have spc-ii': 21 years studying in France and England, and 20 years in the direction of the ^.)oo1s 
of Irehmd. 

t The ilarciuis of I^nsdown is the present representative of this family. 


expelled Donnell O'Brien from Thomond, which he laid waste. It has 
been suggested that this expedition Vas undertaken by Roderic in com- 
pliance with the terms of his treaty with. Henry; but it was only the 
course which his duties as monarch, even without that treaty, required 
him to adopt. As to the expulsion, it was of short duration. 

A.D. 1176. — ^While Raymond was still at Limerick, earl Strongbow died 
in Dublin; and as it was important, in the precarious state of the colony, 
to keep his death a secret until some one adequate to fill his place should 
be at hand, his sister Basilia sent an enigmatical message to Raymond, 
,stating that " her great tooth, which had ached so long, had fallen out" 
and begging him to return to Dublin with all possible speed. Raymond 
understood the message, and perceived that not a moment was to be 
lost; but he could not afford to leave a garrison behind in Limerick, and 
how was he to abandon a place which had cost so dearly? In this 
emergency he applied to Donnell O'Brien, whom he solicited to take 
charge of the city as one of the king's barons ! The mockery of a 
formal surrender of trust was gone through ; but as the last man of the 
Anglo-Norman garrison had recrossed the Shannon, they saw the bridge 
broken down behind them, and the city in flames in four different points. 
English historians Vave accused O'Brien of perfidy for this act; but 
the mock trust could have deceiA-ed no man. It Avas an insult wliich the 
warlike prince of Thomond was not likely to brook ; and, in destroying 
Limerick, he said it should never again be made a nest of foreigners.* 

On Raymond's arrival in Dublin the obsequies of earl Strongbow were 
performed with great solemnity. St. Laurence, as archbishop of Dublin, 
presided at the ceremony ; and the remains were deposited in the Cathe- 
dral Church of the Holy Trinity, now Christ's Church. Strongbow's 
celebrity has been entirely due to his fortuitous position. He possessed 
none of the qualities of mind that constitute a great man. Even his 
eulogist, Cambrensis, states that he formed no plans of his own, but 
executed those of others. To the Irish he was a rapacious and a merci- 
less foe. The native annalists call him " the greatest destroyer of the 
clergy and laity that came to Ireland since the time of Turgesius ;" and 
they attribute his death, which was caused by an ulcer in his foot, to a 
judgment of heaven.t He died about the 1st of May, according to 
some authorities, and about the last of that month, according to others; 
and left, by his wife Eva, daughter ofMacMurrough, an infant daughter 
Isabel, who was heiress to his vast possessions, and was afterwards married 

* The Four Masters state that he recovered Limerick by siege, but this is evidently a mistake. 
I Aunals of Inaisfallcn, and Annals of the Four Masters 


io Wiiliam Marshal, earl of Pembroke. Strongbow founded and riclilj 
endowed a priory for the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, at Kilmain- 
ham, near Dublin. 

As soon as Henry II. received notice of the earl's death, he appointed 
William FitzAdelm seneschal, or justiciary, with John de Courcy, Robert 
FitzStephen, and Milo de Cogan as coadjutors, and a suitable number of 
knights to serve as a guard for each. Raymond, who was still an object 
of jealousy and suspicion to the king, hastened to Wexford to meet the 
new viceroy, and surrendered to him, with good grace, the authority 
Mdiich he had temporarily held. It is said, that on seeing Raymond 
approach at the head of a numerous and brilliant staff of knights, all of 
his own kindred, and with the same arms blazoned on their shields, 
FitzAdelm vowed that he would check that pride and disperse those 
shields; and even to that early period is traced the origin of the jealousy 
so often exhibited by the British government, in after times, towards the 
illustrious family of the Geraldines, of which Raymond was a member. 

Meanwhile a disaster befel the invaders in INIeath. The Hy-Niall 
prince, MacLoughlin, with the men of Kinel-Owen and Oriel, attacked 
the castle of Slane, which was held for De Lacy by Richard le Fleming, 
and from which it was usual to send parties to plunder the neighbouring 
territories. The garrison and inmates, to the number of five hundred, 
were all put to the sword; and this act of vengeance so terrified the 
adventurers, that next day they abandoned three other castles which 
they had erected in Meath, namely, those of Kells, Galtrim, and Derr}- 

A.D. 1177. — FitzAdelm's administration soon became unpopular with 
the colony. Whether his policy was dictated by king Henry himself or 
not, it is certain that he was now decidedly opposed to the system of mili- 
tary plunder and aggression which had hitherto been the only principle 
recognized by the Anglo-Normans in Ireland. He discountenanced 
spoliation, and was openly accused of partiality to the Irish. De Courc}^ 
one of his aids in the government, became so disgusted with his inactivity, 
that he set out, in open defiance of the viceroy's prohibition, on an 
expedition to the north, having selected a small army of 22 knig\ts and 
300 soldiers, all picked men, to accompany him. It is said that he 
obtained a conditional grant of Ulster from Henry II., though by what 
right the grant was made it would be difficult to determine, as the northern 
princes had never given the English king even a colorable pretence 
for dominion over them. John De Courcy was a man of great stature 
and enormous physical strength; to which qualities he added great 

DE COURCy's invasion OF ULSTER. 221 

courage and daring, with military ardour and impetuosity fitted for the 
most desperate enterprise. By rapid marches he arrived the fourth day 
at Downpatrick, the chief city of Uladh or Ulidia, and the clanijor of 
his bugles ringing through the streets, at the break of day, was the 
.first intimation wliich the inhabitants received of this wholly unexpected 
incursion. In the alarm and confusion which ensued the people became 
easy victims ; and the English, after indulging their rage and rapacity, 
entrenched themselves in a corner of the city. Cardinal Vivian, who 
had come as legate from Pope Alexander III. to the nations of Scotland 
and Ireland, and who had only recently arrived from the Isle of Man, 
happened to be then in Down, and was horrified at this act of aggression. 
He attempted to negotiate terms of peace, and proposed that De Courcy 
should withdraw his army on condition that the Ulidians paid tribute to 
the English king ; but any such terms being sternly rejected by De 
Courcy, the cardinal encouraged and exhorted Mac Dunlevy,* the king 
of Ulidia or Dalaradia, to defend his territories manfully against the 
invaders. Coming, as this advice did, from the Pope's legate, we may 
judge in what light the grant of Ireland to Henry II. was regarded by 
the Pope himself. 

Dunlevy returned at the end of a week with a large undisciplined 
force, which he had collected in the meantime ; and the English took 
their stand in a favorable position outside the town, to give him battle. 
The Irish fought with great bravery, but owing to the tumultuary 
natm-e of their army, to the effect of their former panic, which liad not 
yet wholly subsided, and, in a great measure also, to the singular 
personal strength and prowess of De Courcy himself, who was bravely 
seconded by a young man named Roger le Poer, they were vanquished 
in the conflict. This battle was fought about the beginning of February, 
and on the 24th of the following June, De Courcy again defeated the 
Ulidians ; one of his knights, who was wounded in this second conflict, 
being Armoric de St. LaAvrence, ancestor of the noble family of Howth. 

A notion prevailed, among both Irish and English, that certain 
prophecies of Merlin and of Saint Columbkille were fulfilled in this 
invasion of Down, and while the idea encouraged the latter it had a 
contrary effect on the former. De Courcy assumed that he was " the 
White Knight, mounted on a white steed, with birds upon his shield," 
as described by the British prophet, and he took care that the resem- 

♦ The original name of the Dlidian kings was O'Haughy, (Uab Eocbadha) which from Dun- 
sievy O'Haughy became Mac Dunslevy, or Dunlevy. 


blance should be as perfect as possible. It was also understood that he 
answered the description of the " certain poor and needy fugitive from 
abroad," who, according to the words ascribed to the Irish saint, was to 
be the conqueror of Down. De Courcy carried about with him a book 
of St Columbkille's prophecies, and turned the popular interpretation of 
them to his account. 

Cardinal Vivian, having proceeded to Dublin, held a synod of bishops 
And abbots, at which he set forth the obligation of yielding obedience 
to the authority of Henry, in virtue of the papal bulls. He was probably 
induced by the English functionaries to take this step, as it does not 
appear that he had any commission from the pope to do so. On his 
passage through England, when coming from Rome, he had even been 
treated with much discourtesy, and was not permitted to proceed on his 
mission until he had bound hinself by oath to do nothing against the 
king's interests. He was further induced, at the sjmod, to grant a 
general leave to the English soldiers to take whatever provisions they 
might want on their expeditions out of the churches, in which the Irish 
were accustomed to deposit them as in an inviolable sanctuary; but he 
required that a reasonable price should be paid to the rectors of these 
churches for what might be thus taken away. 

The celebrated abbey of St. Thomas the Martyr (a Becket), was 
founded in Dublin by FitzAdelm, by order of Hemy II. The site was 
the place now called Thomas'-court ; and in the presence of cardinal 
Vivian and St. Laurence O'Toole, the deputy endowed it with a car- 
ucate of land called Donore, in the Liberties of the city. After the 
synod the cardinal passed over to Chester on his way to Scotland. 

Murrough, one of the sons of Roderic O'Conor, rebelled against his 
father, and, at his solicitation, Milo de Cogan was sent by the deputy 
with a hostile force into Connaught, in direct violation of the treaty of 
Windsor. Roderic was then in lar Connaught, and De Cogan, in his 
progress, found the country abandoned ; the inhabitants having bumed 
the houses and fled to their woods or mountains, taking wdth them, or 
concealing in subterranean granaries, all their provisions, so that the 
English could find neither food nor plunder. Having penetrated as far 
as Tuam, which they found also deserted, the invaders were obliged to 
retrace their steps ; but Roderic hastened from the west, pressed on then' 
rear, and at length came up with them, or, as others say, lay in wait for 
them, in a wood near the banks of the Shannon, where he defeated them 
with considerable slaughter. The unnatural Murrough, who had acted 
as a guide to the EngHsli, was made prisoner, and being condemned by 


the Connacians with the consent of his fatlier, liis eyes were put out — 
a punishment which, in the case ol this traitor, was too merciful. To 
the credit of the men of Connaught, not one of them joined the rebel- 
lious son on this occasion. 

In the course of May, this year (1177), Henry II., having pre- 
/iously obtained the sanction of Pope Alexander III., assembled a 
council of prelates and barons at Oxford, and in their presence solemnly 
constituted his youngest son, John, still only a child, " king in Ireland." 
This step, which was another violation of the treaty of Windsor, by 
conferring on John a title recoonized as belonffing to Roderic O'Conor, 
did not lead to the settlement of Irish affairs, which Henry may have 
anticipated fi'om it ; nor did John ever assume any other title in this 
country but that of lord of Ireland and earl of Moreton. 

A new grant of Meath to Hugh de Lacy was made out in the joint 
names of Henry II. and John; and Desmond, or, as it was then called, 
the kingdom of Cork, was granted by charter to Robert Fitz Stephen 
* and Milo de Cogan, with the exception of the city of Cork and the 
adjoining cantreds, which the king reserved to himself. For some 
years after, however, they were able to obtain possession of only seven 
cantreds in the neighboiu'hood of the city. In the same way the kin<>-- 
dom of Limerick, or Thomond, was granted to two English noblemen, 
brothers of the earl of Cornwall, who declined the dangerous £fift. It 
was then given by Henry to another baron, Philip de Braosa ; and this 
new claimant, on coming in sight of the city, accompanied by De Cogan 
and Fitz Stephen, with an army to put him in possession, was seized 
with such fear, that, notwithstanding the entreaties of his confederates, 
he fled to Cork and left the country. 

De Braosa was not a coward, as his actions in subsequent years clearly 
proved ; but the determination exhibited by the inhabitants of Limerick, 
who fired their city on his approach, that it might not fall into the hands 
of the invaders, inspired him with awe ; and he had no confidence in his 
own folloAvers, who are said to have been the scum of society from the 
Welsh marches. The territory of Waterford was granted to Roger le 
Poer, the ancestor of the le Poers, or Powers ; but, as in other cases, the 
city, with the district immediately adjoining, was reserved by Henry 
for himself. 

Grants were also made to other hungry adventurers, with total 
indifference, as in the case of those already mentioned, to the rights of 
the Irish themselves, or to any treaty existing with them, and even 
without any right established by force of arms ; so that Sir John 

224 macN of henkv r». 

Davies, the English attorney-general of James I., remarked, that " all 
Ireland was, by Henry II., cantonized among ten of the English nation; 
and though they had not gained possession of one-third of the kingdom, 
yet in title they were owners and lords of all, so as nothing was left to 
be granted to the natives."* 

* A family connection existed between several of the first English invaders, as appears from 
the following account: — Xesta, daughter of Rees apT\v\-der, prince of south Wales, had, while 
mistress of king Henry I., a son, Henry, who was the father of Mej'ler and Robert Fitz Henry. 
While wife (or, as some say, mistress) of Stephen, constable of Cardigan, she bore Robert Fitz 
Stephen ; and, finally, when married to Gerald of Windsor, she had three sons : first, William, the 
father of Raymond le Gros, or the Corpulent (who married Basilia, Strongbow's sister, and was 
the ancestor of the Graces of Wexford, and of the Fitz llaurices of Kerry), and of Griffith ; 
second, jMaurice Fitz Gerald (ancestor of the Geraldines of Kildare and Desmond), who had four 
sons, William, who married Ellen, another sister of Strongbow, or, as some say. Alma, a daughter 
of Strongbow, Gerald, Alexander, and Milo ; and, third, David, bishop of St. David's. There was 
another Nesta, the daughter, according to some, and the grand-daughter, according to others of 
the former one, and she was married to Hervey of Mountniaurice, the uncle of Strongbow. A 
daughter of the first Nesta was married to William de Barri, a Pembrokeshire kni ght, by whom 
she had four sons, Robert, Philip, Walter, and Gerald, the last-named being the well-known 
chronicler of the invasion, Giraldus Cambrensis. The other leading men of the early adven- 
turers, not mentioned among the preceding, were: Robert de Berroingham, Walter Bluet, Hum- 
phrey de Bohun, William and Philip de Braosa, Adam Chamberlain, Milo and Richard de Cogan, 
Raymond Canteton, or Kantune, Hugh Cantwell (according to Hanmer), or Gundeville (accord- 
ing to Camden) or Hugh Cantilon (according to Cambrensis), John de Courcy, Reginald de 
Courtenay, Adam Dullard, William Fitz Adelm de Burgo (ancestor of the Burkes), William 
Ferrand, Robert Fitz Bernard, Richard and Robert Fitz Godobert, Raymond Fitz Hugh, Theobald 
Fitz Walter (ancestor of the Butlers), Richard and Thomas le Fleming, Adam de Gernemie, 
Reginald de Glanvil, Geoffry de Hay, Philip de Hastings, Adam de Hereford, Hugh de Lacy, 
William Makrell, Gilbert Nangle, or de Angulo, William Nott, Gilbert de Nugent, Richard and 
William Petit, Robert, Roger, and William le Poer, Maurice and Philip de Prendergast, Purcell, 
Robert de Quiney, or Quincy, John and Walter de Ridelsford, or Rideusford, Adam de Rupe, or 
Roche, Robert de Salisbury, Robert Smith, Al merle de St. Laurence (ancestor of the Howth 
family), Hugh Tyrrell, Richard Tuite, Bertram de Verdon, Philip Welsh, Philip de Worcester, 
&c. &c. — Vide Giraldus Cambrensis, Camden's Eibernia, Hanmer's Chronicle, Harris's Eibernica, 
•nd the Rev. C. P. Meehan's translation of The Geraldines, p. 22. 



"Reverses of De Courcy in the North. — Feuds of Desmond and Thomond. — 
Unpopularity of Fitz Adelm -with tLe Colonists. — Irish Bishops at the Council 
of Lateran. — Death of St. Laurence O'Toole. — His Charity and Povertj-. — 
De Lacy Suspected by Henry II. — Death of Milo de Cogan. — Arrival of 
Cambrensis. — Death of Hervey of Mountmaurice. — Roderic Abdicates and 
Retires to Cong. — Archbishop Comyn. — Exactions of Philip of "Worcester. — 
Prince John's Expedition to Ireland. — His Failure and Recall. — English 
Mercenaries in the Irish Service. — Singular Death of Hugh de Lacy. — Synod 
in Christ Church. — Translation of the Relics of SS. Patrick, Columba, and 
Brigid to Down. — Expedition of De Courcy to Connaught. — His Retreat. — 
Death of Henry II. — Death of Conor Moinmoy, and Fresh Tumults in Con- 
naught. — Last Exploits and Death of Donnell More O'Brien. — Dissensions in 
the English Colony. — Successes of Donnell Mac Carthy. — Death of Roderic 
O'Cunor. — His Character. — Foundation of Churches, &c. — The Anglo-Irish 
and the " mere" Irish. 


Popes Lucius III., Urban III., Gregory VIII., Clement III., and Celestine III. — King of France, 
Pliilip Augustus Third Crusade (1188-111)1). 

(a.o. 1178 TO 1199.) 

^OHN DE COURCY, notwithstanding the prestige of his 
successes in the north, was not invincible. After 
sweeping off, in 1178, a large spoil of cattle from Machaire 
Conaille, or the plain of Louth, he encamped, on his return 
to Down, in Glenrce, the vale of Newry river, and was 
there attacked by O'CarroIl of Oriel, and MacDunlevy 
of Ulidia, and defeated with great slaughter. On this 
occasion he lost 450 men, many of whom Avere drowned 
in attempting to cross the river, while the Irish had only 
100 killed. Some time after he went on a plundering 
excursion into Dalaradia, and was defeated by Cumee 
OTlynn, lord of Hy-Tuirtre and Firlee, in Antrim, when, 
according to Giraldus, he escaped fi'om the field on foot, 
eleven followers, and reached his camp after a flight of twc 
nights without food. The English historians attribute this 


disaster to the number of cattle which he was carrying away, and which, 
being driven back upon his ranks by the Irish, caused such confusion 
that his men fell an easy prey to the enemy. 

The Annals of Innisfallen mention a desolating war which raged this 
year between the Irish of Thomond and Desmond, in which the latter 
territory was ' so wasted that some of its ancient families, as the 
ODonovans, princes of Hy-Figeinte, and the O'Collinses, subordinate 
chiefs of Hy-Conail Gavra, an ancient sub-division of the former 
territory, were driven from their patrimonies to seek refuge in the 
southern parts of the presei^t county of Cork. The native chroniclers 
also record internecine quarrels, at the same period, between the Irish of 
Ulster and those of Westmeath and Offaly, the English acting as allies 
in the ranks of the latter. 

Fitz Adelm, as already observed, had -become so unpopular with the 
English colonists, from his opposition to rapine and suspected partiality 
to the Irish, that Henry found it necessary to remove him, and appointed 
De Lacy in his stead, with the title of procurator. Fitz Adelm was, 
however, made constable of Leinster; Wexford was entrusted to his 
care, and Waterford to that of Robert le Poer. 

A. D. 1179. — Several Irish bishops proceeded this year to Rome, on 
the summons of Alexander III., to attend the third general council of 
Lateran. These prelates were — St. Lorcan or Laurence, of Dublin ; 
O'Duff)'-, of Tuam ; O'Brien, of Killaloe ; Felix, of Lismore ; Augustine, of 
Waterford; and Brictius, of Limerick. In passing through England 
they were obliged to take an oath not to act in any manner prejudicial 
to that country or its king. The pope treated St. Laurence with special 
kindness, appointed him his legate for Ireland, and conferred particular 
favors on the diocese of Dublin, confirming its jurisdiction over the 
suflfragan sees of its province. There can be no doubt that the Holy 
Father learned, on this occasion, the unhappy results which had followed 
from the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland. 

A. D. 1180. — Having returned from Rome, St. Laurence devoted 
himself, with his accustomed zeal, to liis archiepiscopal and legatine 
duties ; and he was particularly strict in punishing the lax manners of 
some of the Anglo-Norman and Welsh clergy who had come over with 
the adventurers. In the course of this year he went to England on a 
mission from Roderic O'Conor, one of whose sons accompanied him as a 
iiostage ; but the English king refused either to listen to his represent- 
ations or to permit him to return to Ireland, and left for Normandy, 
whitiier the saint, after a few weeks' stay at the monastery of Abingdon, 


in Berkshire, set out to follow him. The holy archbishop, however, was 
able to proceed no fui'ther than Auguni, or Eu, on the borders of Nor- 
mandy, in a monastery at which place he fell sick, ;ind died on the 14th 
of November, 1180. When asked by the monks to make his will, he 
called God to witness that " he had not as much as one penny under the 
sun ;" and a little before he expired he said in Irish, speaking of his 
unhappy countrymen, " Alas, foolish and senseless people ! What will 
you now do? Who will heal 3^ovir differences? Who will have pity on 
you?" His charity Avas unbounded. During a famine which prevailed 
for three years in Dublin he made extraordinary sacrifices to relieve the 
poor. His spirit of mortification was worthy of the primitive saints. 
His love for his ill-fated country was that of an ardent patriot, yet his 
country's enemies were compelled to confess and revere his virtues. 
Several miracles are recorded of him, and he was canonized by 
Honorius HI., in the year 1226.* 

At this time the power of Hugh de Lacy greatly exceeded that of 
any other English baron in Ireland. Giraldus observes that " he amply 
enriched himself and his followers by oppressing others with a strong 
hand;" yet he was less hateful to the Irish than most of the other 
foreigners. He married, as his second wife, a daughter of Roderic 
O'Conor, without previously asking the permission of Henry II. ; and 
this alliance, together with the popularity which he enjoyed, excited the 
jealousy of the English monarch, who abruptly removed him from the 
government. De Lacy's ready obedience in yielding up his ofiice re- 
stored him, however, to the king's confidence, and he was reinstated in 
power with Robert, bishop of Shrewsbmy, as his councillor, or rather as 
a spy on his proceedings. 

A.D. 1182 — Milo de Cogan, one of the most chivalrous of the first 
adventurers, fell a victim this year to tlie hostility which the aggressions 
of the Enghsh stirred up in every quarter. He was proceeding from 
Cork to Lismore, accompanied by a son of Robert FitzStephen and a 
few other knights, to hold a conference with some of the people of 
Waterford, when he was set upon by MacTire, prince of Imokilly, and 
cut oflF with all his party. Giraldus says he was invited by MacTire 
to pass the night in his house, and that he was treacherously murdered 

• See his life, by the Rev. John O'Hanlon, ot Dublin; also Surius, quoted by Ussher, ia 
the Si/lloffe, note to Epist. xlviii. "The beautiful church of Eu, in which the remains of St. 
Laurence are preserved, has been recently restored, and on the walla of the little oratory which 
marks on the hill over the town tlie spot where the saint exclaimed, "Arec est requies mea," &c., the 
names of several Irishmen are inawibed." (Dr. Kelly's Camb. Ever., vol. ii., [>. C48, d.) 


when seated with his knights in a field; but this statement appearhig, as 
it does, in the midst of a tissue of slanders, merits little credit. The 
event was a signul for a general rising of the chieftains of jVIunster, and 
FitzStephen was so closely besieged by them in the city of Cork, that 
he was on the point of succumbing, when his nephew, Raymond le 
Gros, brought succour by sea from Wexford, and raised the siege. 
Richard de'Cogan, brother of Milo, was sent over by Henry to aid 
FitzStephen in the goverment of Cork, and was accompanied by two of 
FitzStephen's nephews, Philip and Gerald Barry.* 

As new adventurers appear, the earlier ones vanish from the scene. 
Among the latter was Hervey of Mountmaurice, whose opposition to 
the more warlike Rnymond has been so often noticed. He founded the 
beautiful abbey of Dunbrody, in Wexford; and disgusted, as it would 
seem, with the scenes of rapine which he had witnessed in Ireland, he 
retired from the strife of the world, and became a monk at Canterbury, 
giving to the abbey there a portion of the property which he had 
acquired in Ireland. We find De Lacy, in Meath, and De Courcy, in 
Ulster, also founding religious houses with a portion of the plunder 
which they had unscrupulously taken from the native clergy and people 
of Ireland. 

De Courcy obtained, this year, at Dunbo, in Dalaradia, a decisive 
victory over Donnell O'Loughlin and the Kinel Owen, which, for some 
time, checked the heroism of the northern chieftains, and enabled 
him to strengthen his position and overrun the province without oppo- 

A.D. 1183. — The Irish annals are filled, at this, as at other periods, 
with accounts of feuds among the native princes, but such of them as 
h.ft ;io visible traces on our history we pass in silence. The strife which 
had long existed in the family of the unhappy monarch, Roderic, broke 
out now with increased violence ; and after vain efforts, on the part of 
neighbouring princes, to settle the differences, even at the point of the 
sword, the wretched king, according to the annals of Kilronan, retired 
this year to the abbey of Cong, leaving the kingdom of Connaught to 
his son, Conor Moinmoy. 

A.D. 1184. — On the death of St. Laurence O'Toole, Henry sent a 
commissioner to collect the revenues of the diocese of Dublin into the 

* The latter was the oft-quoted GiraUlus Cambrensis, a vain, conceited writer, and compiler 
of siily fabks and malicious calumnies about Ireland and her people, although his Ilibernia Ex- 
pugnata is by far the mo^t ip>r'trt,ant record we possess of tlie Anglo-Norman invasion. 


royal coffers. He then caused a number of the Dublin cleri^v to 
assemble at Evesham, in Worcestershire, and at his recommendation 
they elected John Comyn, or Gumming, an Englishman, to the vacant 
see. Comyn proceeded to Rome, and was ordained priest, and subse- 
quently consecrated archbisho]^, by Pope Lucius III., at Veletri. The 
pope also granted him a bull, exempting the diocese of Dublin from 
the exercise of any other episcopal authority within its limits and without 
the permission of its archbishop. This privilege was intended as a pro- 
tection against the power of the primate, who could not, at that time, be 
considered as a subject of the English king; and it was the first of a 
series of acts, upon which the controversy which subsequently arose as 
to the relative prerogatives of the sees of Armagh and Dublin was 
founded. The new archbishop did not come to Dublin until 1184, and 
his presence then was intended as a preparation for the approachinof 
visit of jjrince John. 

A.D. 1185. — Henry's suspicions of De Lacy were not, it appears, un- 
founded, as that ambitious baron is understood to have really aspired to 
the sovereignty of Ireland. He was, therefore, once more deprived of 
the government, in 1184, and in his stead was sent over Philip of Wor- 
cester, who eclipsed all his predecessors by his exactions and injustice. 
This man's fost act was to resume, for the king's use, lands which liad 
been sold to O'Casey by his predecessor. He levied contributions with- 
out regard to justice or mercy; and proceeding with an army to Ulster, 
a territory which had been hitherto left exclusively to De Courcy's en- 
terprise, he exacted money from all parties, but chiefly from the clergy. 
He Avas accompanied by a worthy coadjutor, Hugh Tyrrel, who stripped 
the clergy of Armagh by his extortions, carrying off, among other 
things, their large brewing pan, which he was obliged to abandon on the 
way, as the horses which drew it were burned in a stable where they 
halted for the night, and he himself was seized with violent griping 
pains, which, in the opinion of his cotemporaries, were a just punish- 
ment for his rapine.* 

This year is memorable for the wretched experiment which Henry 
made to govern Ireland through his son John, a step which proved 
utterly inconsistent Avith the king's boasted wisdom. The young prince, 
then in his nineteenth year, amved at Waterford from Mil ford haven 

* TbL< plunder of the clergy of Armagh took place in the course of the Lent, and it is probable 
that it was then the celebrated crozier of St. Patrick, called the Stall' of Jesus, was reiiioved from 
the priniafial city to Dublin, although it is u.-ually stated that tiiis transfer was made by 
FitzAileliu, who doe? not anpnqr to have exercised any au'tiority in the north. 


the week after Easter, with 400 knights and a well-equipped force of 
horse and foot, conveyed in sixty transports. He assuir'^d simply the 
title of earl of Moreton and lord of Ireland, although he had been in- 
vested some years before with the nominal rank of king.* He was at- 
tended by Gerald Barry, or Carabrensis, as his tutor, and by Ranulph 
de Glanville, justiciary of England ; but he was surrounded by a retinue 
of insolent young Norman courtiers of as profligate manners as he 
notoriously was himself. The proceedings of the new visitors were 
most inauspiciously commenced. Some Leinster chieftains Avaited upon 
John, at. his arrival, to pay their respects, but their costume and appear- 
ance excited the mirth of him and his brainless attendants, who treated 
them with derision, and went so far as to pluck their beards. Justlv in- 
censed at the insults offered them, the Irish princes hastily quitted the 
camp, and removing their families and followers from the teri'itory occu- 
pied by the English, repaired to Connaught and those parts of Munster yet 
free from the foreign yoke, proclaiming everywhere the insolent treat- 
ment which they had received, and stirring up their countrymen to re- 

John and his courtiers pursued their mad career, regardless of the 
storm which was gathering. Some Irish septs, who had hitherto re- 
mained peaceably in the English territory, were expelled, and driven to 
swell the ranks of their disaffected countrymen, their lands being given 
to the new comers ; the old Welsh settlers were forced to leave the 
towns and reside in the marches, and the early Anglo-Norman colonists 
were harassed with exactions. Castles were erected by John's orders at 
Tipraid-Fachtna, noAV Tibraghny, in the county of Kilkenny, at Ard- 
finan, overlooking the Suir, in Tipperary, and at Lismore; and from 
these strongholds parties were sent to plunder the lands of Munster. 
But the indomitable Donnell O'Brien took the field, and the English 
were defeated by him in several encounters. He took the castle of 
Ardfinan, by stratagem, and put the garrison to the sword. Several of 
the bravest English knights were cut off in battle : Roger le Poer was 
slain in Ossory, Robert Barry at Lismore, Raymond FitzHugh at 
Olechan, and Raymond Canton in Idrone. After being decimated in 
detail, the remnant of John's discomfited army retired to the cities, 

* When John was about to proceed to Ireland, in 1185, his father applied to Pope Lucius III. 
for permission to crown the young prince, b it the Pope declined giviny his sanction. On the ac- 
cession of Urban III., at the close of the same year, the application was renewed, and this time tli« 
required leave was granted, and a crown, made of peacock's feathers intenvoven with gold, was 
sent from Rome by the Pontiff, on the occasion ; but John's expedition having in the raeantinM 
failed, hi« intended coronation was abandoned. 


where the men, folIo^ving the example of their captains, indulged in 
every vice, and left the surrounding country exposed to the incursions 
of the Irish, who destroyed the crops of the colonists. The money col- 
lected by oppressive exactions was squandered in dissipation by John, 
while the troops were left unpaid, and the whole colony was reduced by 
famine and losses to the very brink of ruin. 

Things had been going on thus for several months before king Heiny 
became aware of the real state of affairs. He then hastily recalled iiis 
hopeful son, who, on his return to England, threw the whole blame of 
his disasters upon De Lacy, whom he represented as leagued with the 
Irish, and as setting himself up for king. It is, indeed, asserted that De 
Lacy had at this period assumed the title of king of Meath, and that he 
received tribute as such from Connaught, and had got a diadem made 
for himself; but so far from his being on friendly terms with the nati\e 
Irish, the territory of jMeath was, at this very period, invaded b\- an 
Irish army, which was defeated by William Petit, a feudatory, or liege- 
man of De Lacvs. x\bout this time Dermot M'Carthv, kinff of Des- 
mond, was killed at a conference in Cork by Theobald Fitz Walter, the 
chief butler.* 

Parties of the older English adventurers were now in the habit of 
hiring themselves as auxiliaries to different Irish princes. Thus some 
Enghsh aided Donnell O'Brien in an inroad which he made this year into 
West Connaught, while another party of them served in the army of 
Conor Moinmoy, when he retaliated by plundering Killaloe and pillaging 
Thomond. " The English,'" say our annalists, on this latter occasion, 
" came as far as Roscommon with the son of Roderic, who gave them 
3,000 cows as Avages." 

A.D. 1186. — Hugh de Lacy did not live to vindicate himself from th« 
charges laid against him by prince John. This remarkable man, whoir 
the Irish annals describe as the " profaner and destroyer of many 
churches," and the " lord (or king) of the English of Meath, Breffiiy, and 
Oriel ; of whose English castles all Meath, from the Shannon to the sea, 
was full," was killed this year while inspecting the works of a castle 
which he had just comjjleted on the site of St. Columbkille's great mon- 
astery of Durrow, in the pi'esent King's county. He was accompanied 
by three Englishmen, and was stooping to direct the operations of the 
workmen, when a young man, named O'Meyey, or Meey, belonging to 
an ancient family of that country, finding the enemy of his race in liis 

• .MacCiii-tl)y was nut, :is Mooic- says, defr:itvii in l.jiltlc. — Soe ^^■al•t'(i Aii^iuiA. 


power, smote him with a battle-axe which he had carried concealed, and 
with one blow severed his head from his body, both head and trunk 
rolling into the castle ditch. Fleet as a greyhound, the young man 
bounded away, and was soon safe from pursuit in the wood of Kilclare ; 
nor did he stop until he announced his success to the Sinnagh (the Fox) 
O'Caharny, whose territory of Teffia at one time included Durrow ; and at 
whose instigation, the annalists say, this perilous exploit was undertaken. 

Thus perished the most powerful of the English invaders ; and 
Henry II., who feared or suspected him, did not conceal his satisfaction 
at his death. The king's first step, on hearing the news, was to order his 
son, John, to return to Ireland and take possession of De Lacy's lands 
and castles during the minority of the late baron's eldest son, but the 
death of the king's third son, Geoffry, duke of Bretagne, caused this 
arrangement to be abandoned.* 

Archbishop Comynlield a provincial synod this 3-ear in the church of 
the Holy Trinity in Dublin.f This year, also, on the 9th of June, the 
solemn translation of the relics of SS. Patrick, Columba, and Brigid, took 
place in the cathedral of Down. The remains of these great saints of 
the primitive church of Ireland v/ere, it is alleged, discovered in a 
miraculous manner in an obscure part of that church the preceding 
year; and the permission of the pope having been obtained for the 
purpose, they were solemnly transferred to one suitable monument, 
cardinal Vivian, who was sent over on the occasion, being present at the 
ceremony. ^ 

A.D. 1188. — Divided and weakened by mutual and implacable dissen- 
sions, the northei'n chieftains were yet able to check the foreigners by 
some serious defeats. On one of these occasions a strong force of the 
invaders issued from their castle of Moy Cova in Down, and were plun- 
dering the territory of Tyrone, Avhen they were met at a place called 
Cavan na Crann-ard, or the hollow of the lofty trees, by Donnell 

* Sir Hugh de Lacy left two sons by his first wife, Rosa dc Munemene, Walter, lord of Meath. 
and Hugh, earl of Ulster; by his second wife, the daughter of lloderic O'Conor, he had a son 
called William Gorm, from whom (according to Duald Mac Firbis) the celebrated rebel. Pierce Oge 
Lacy of Bruree and BrufF, in the reign of Elizabeth, was the eighteenth in descent, and from whom 
also the Lynches of Galway are descended. Walter and Hugh left no male issue, but Walter Iiad 
two daughters, who were married, one to Lord Theobald Verdoii, and the other to Geoffry Geneville ; 
and Hugh had one daughter, Maude, who married Walter de Burgo, (grandson of Fitz Adelm de 
Rurgo,) who became, in her right, earl of Ulster. See Four Masters, vol. iii , p. 75, note; also, 
0'Flahert}''s lar Conncmght, p. 30. 

t The synod was opened on the fourth Sundny in Lent, and the canons which were adopted at it, 
and were soon after confirmed by Pope Urban ilL, are. says Harris, extant among tlie archives of 
Christ Church. See abstracts of these canons by Harri'-, in Ware'.-* Bishops, p. 316; and liy Lunigaii. 
Led. Hist., ch. XXX., sect. 7. 


O'Loughlin, lord of Aileach, and defeated with great slaughter, althouoh 
the brave Irish chieftain himself fell in the conflict. The death of this 
gallant chief left De Courcy at liberty to turn his arms against Con- 
naught; Conor Moinmoy, with Melaghlin Beg, of Meath, ha vincp burnt 
the English castle of Killare in Westmeath, and cut off its garrison the 
preceding year. The Connauglit chieftains rallied at the call of their 
prince, who also obtained the aid of Donnell O'Brien, and Conor Moin- 
moy was thus able to present such an array that De Courcy avoided a 
collision with him. The English army then marched northward with 
the intention of penetrating into Tirconnell, and had advanced as far as 
Easdara, or Ballysadere, in Sligo, when they found the Tirconnellian 
chief, Flaherty O'Muldory, prepared with a sufficient force to receive 
them. De Courcy once more made a disgraceful retreat, having first 
burnt the town, but in crossing the Curlieu mountains he was attacked 
by the Connaughtmen and the Dalcassians, and after sufFerincr consider- 
able loss, escaped to Leinster with difficulty. 

A.D. 1189. — The troubled and eventful career of Henry II. was at 
length brought to a close. That profligate and ambitious monarch 
died in France, broken-hearted and defeated, cursing his rebellious 
sons with his dying words. Some think that it w^as unfortunate for 
Ireland that the pressui-e of other cares had prevented Henry from 
devoting more attention to the government of that country ; and reo-ret 
that he Avas unable to follow up his invasion by a complete conouest. 
" The world would in that case," observes Mr. Moore, *' have been 
spared the anomalous spectacle that has been ever since presented by the 
two nations: the one subjected, without being subdued; the other 
rulers but not masters ; the one doomed to all that is tumultuous in 
independence, without its freedom; the other endued with every attri- 
bute of despotism •except its power."* 

But we cannot sympathize in any such vain regret. Divided as the 
Irish were, Henry might have done much to exterminate or crush them 
in detail. But that he, or any English king of his period, would have 
governed them with justice and moderation, or that the Irish chieftains 
would have patientl}^ submitted to the wholesale spoliation of tlieii* 
country, are hypotheses which we cannot make. Had the native Irish 
race been extinct, Ireland would not the less have been ruled as a 
colony and for the supposed interests of England exclusively ; and the 
subsequent history of the Anglo-J rish will show U'^, that the happiness 

* UiiUTy of Ireland, vol. ii., p. ii'f'. 


or tranquillity ot this country would not have heen a whit more 

The chivah'ous Richard I., occupied, during his short reign, with the 
Crusades, left Ireland wholly to the management of his unprincipled 
brother, John, who does not seem to have given himself much trouble 
about its aifairs. John appointed as lord justice Hugh de Lacy, son of 
the former lord of Meath, to the great disgust of John de Courcy, who 
felt himself slighted, and retired to Ulster; but the English barons 
were allowed to prey on the Irish as best they could, and this they 
contrived to do effectually by enlisting in the service of the Irish princes 
indiscriminately, scarcely any battle being fought in which English and 
Irish were not in the armies on both sides. 

Conor Moinmoy, as a just punishment foi' his rebellion against his 
father, fell a victim, in 1189, to a conspii-acy of his own chieftains. He 
was, however, distinguished for courage and generosity, and was acknow- 
ledged as sovereign by the majority of the Irish princes, who accepted 
stipends from him, even the unhappy Roderic .submitting patiently to 
his usurpation. On his death Connaught was once more plunged in 
domestic strife. Roderic was recalled, and received homage fi'om 
several chiefs ; but his brother, Cathal Crovderg (Croibhdhearg), or the 
Redlumded, and his grandson, Cathal Carragh, the son of Conor Moin- 
moy, were rival claimants for the sovereignty. The attempt to settle 
the matter by negotiation proving fruitless, Cathal Crovderg next yeai 
established his rights either by battle or by the show of superior force, 
there being some obscurity in our annals as to the manner in which the 
event was brought about.* As to Roderic, he went from province to 
province among the Irisli chieftains and the English barons, soliciting 
help to restore him to the throne of Connaught, but his applications were 
rejected by all, and he was at length recalled by his- sept and received 
the lands of Tir Fiachruch Aidhne and Kinelca of Aughty, or the 

* Moore and some other Irish historians wr.uld make it appear, that it was to commemorate a 
victory on this occasion that Cathal Crovderg founded the celebrated abbey of Knoc Moy, or De 
CoUeVictoriw, in the county of Galway ; and Hanmer. Leland, and others, after the Book of Howtli, 
wliich Leland only knew as " Lambeth MSS.," repeat a romantic story about Sir Armoric St. 
Lawrence, to account for the origin of the same abbey; but Dr. ODonovan (Four Masters, an. 
1218, note q), explodes the popular errors on this subject, and shows that the name was Ciioc 
Muaidhe, or the hill of Muaidhe (a woman's name), and that ^^ Co I lis Victoria" by which the 
Stories in question were suggested, is but a fanciful tiau.slation of the name, as if it had been Cnoc 
mbuaidh. It may be well to correct another pojiular error with reference to this abbe}', viz., the idea 
that thealmost obliterated frescoes still traceable on the walls of the sanctuary represent the execution 
of Mac Murrough's son and other points of Irish history ; the subjects being unquestionably those 
lkv)rite ones of the medieval artists, tlie •■ martyrdom of St. Sebastian," the •Three Kings." Jtc 


O'Shauirlinessys country, in the south-western part of the present 
county of Gahvay. 

A.D. 1192. — The mdomitable king of Thomond again appears in arms 
against the English, who, with a powerful army collected from all 
Leinster, marched as far as Killaloe. Here they were repulsed by 
O'Brien and his Dalcassians ; and at Thurles, in Eliogarty, they were 
completely overthrown by the same brave men of Thomond. In the 
course of this expedition the English erected tlie castles of Kilfeakle 
and Knockgrafon, in Tipperary. 

Two years after the English were delivered by the death of Donnell 
More O'Brien from the most formidable antagonist whom they had j'-et 
met in Ireland. Brave and liberal, but capricious, this prince, as soon 
as the real intentions of the invaders became obvious, was the first to 
break through the formal submission which had been made to the 
English king ; and with few and brief intervals he continued ever after 
in arms against the enemies of his country. About the same time fell 
two other famous Irish chieftains: Cumee O'Flynn, who had defeated 
De Courcy at Firlee, was slain by the English in 1194; and O'Carroll, 
prince of Oriel, having been taking by them the year before, was first 
deprived of his eyes and then hanged. 

The affairs of the English colony were at this time anything but 
prosperous. New lords justices followed each other in quick succession. 
Hugh de Lacy was succeeded by William Petit, in 1191, and he again, 
the same year, by William earl of Pembroke and earl marshall of England, 
•who had married Isabel, the daughter of Strongbow, and obtained all 
the Irish possessions of that nobleman. The insolence of this latter 
governor did more to rouse the Irish princes to resistance tiian the 
spoliation to which they had been subjected by others, and it was during 
his administration that Donnell O'Brien, as we have seen, so severly 
chastised the invaders in Thomond. Peter Pipard succeeded him as lord 
deputy, and was followed by Hamon de Valois, who, finding the treasury 
empty, seized without scruple the church property. Archbishop Coniyn 
strenuously remonstrated, but seeing that the pillage of the church 
went on, and that he could obtain no redress from the Irish government, 
he laid the diocese under an interdict, and proceeded to England to 
make complaints, which were equally unheeded there. 

Meanwhile the fatal dissensions of the Irish jjrinces continued to do 
the work of the common enemy most effectually; Murtough O'Loughlin, 
lord of Kinel-Owen, was slain, in 1196, by Blosky O'Kane, a subordinate 
chief; and Rory Mac Dunlevy having thereupon raised an army. 


composed partly of English and Connauglit auxiliaries, marched against 
the Kinel-Owen, but was defeated with dreadful slaughter, on the plain of 
Armagh. The men of the south, however, at this moment, exhibited a 
brilliant exception to this state of parricidai warfare. Donnell M'Carthy, 
son of Dermot, the late king of Desmond, aided by the forces of Cathal 
Crovderg, and of Donogh Cairbrach O'Brien, defeated the English in 
several battles in the course of the year 1196. He destroyed their castles 
of Kilfeacle and Imokilly, for some time held possession of the city of 
Limerick, and it is asserted that he reduced the English of Cork to sub- 

The English had also some reverses in tne north. One Rotsel, or 
Russel, whom De Courcy had left in command of a castle at Eas Creeva, 
or the Salmon Leap, near Coleraine, was defeated on the strand of Lough 
Foyle by Flaherty O'Muldory, who was now recognized as chief of both 
Kinel-Conell and Kinel-Owen. O'Muldory, however, died very soon 
after (in 1197), and Eachmarcach O Doherty, Avho then assumed the 
chieftainship of Kinel-Conell, was killed in a fortnight after this event, 
together with 200 of his people, in a sanguinary engagement with De 
Courcy, at the hill of Knoc Nascain, near Lough Swilly, in Inishowen. 

A.D. 1198. — This year died the deposed and unfortunate monarch, 
Roderic O'Conor. If individual misfortune could have expiated the 
fatal imbecility of his earlier life, he suffered enough to merit our for- 
giveness. The unnatural rebellion of his children, and the irretrievable 
downfall of his country which he witnessed, and which a few years 
before he could so easily have prevented, might well have broken a 
more manly heart than his. " The only feeling his name awakens," 
observes Moore, " is that of pity for the doomed country which at sucli 
a crisis in its fortunes, when honor, safety, independence, national exist- 
ence, were all at stake, was cursed, for the crowning of its evil destiny, 
with a ruler and leader so utterly unworthy of his high calling."* He 
died at the advanced age of 82, after several years spent in penitential 
exercises in the beautiful abbey which he had founded himself at Cong, 
on the shores of Lough Corrib, and his remains were conveyed to Clon- 

* Hist, of Ireland, vol. ii., p. 340. It is only fair to state that a different estimate of Roderic's 
cliaracter is formed by some ; and an accomplished writer has not hesitated to describe his efforts 
against the Norman power as hemic and self-devoied, and himself as "a gi-eat warrior and a fervent 
patriot." " Brave, learned, just, and enliglitened beyond his age," writes his amiable apologist, "he 
alone, of all the Irish princes, saw the direful tendcincy of the Norman inroad. All the records of 
his reign prove that he- was a wise and powerful monarch." — Dublin University May. for March, 
1856. The descendants of Roderic, in the male line, liave been long extinct; but it is said that 
the Lynches of Galway descend from him in the female line, as also the I<aties of Limerick. — 
Vide supra, page 232. note. 


macnoise, where they were interred at the north side of the altar of the 
gi'eat church. 

To the events connected with our ecclesiastical history, which have 
been mentioned in the course of this chapter, may be added the buildincr 
of St. Patrick's cathedral, in Dublin, by archbishop Comyn, in 1190; 
the translation of a large portion of the relics of St. Malachy from Clair- 
vaux to Ireland in 1194 ;* the building of the cathedrals of Limerick and 
Cashel, and the foundation of several religious houses by Donnell More 
O'Brien. Several of the noblest religious foundations of Ireland date 
from this period; and, if some of them Avere the offerings made by 
rapine to religion, or were erected by such men as Dermot Mac IMur- 
rough, the fact only illustrates one point of distinction between the bad 
men of that age who may have founded monasteries, and those of tJie 
present who do not; namely, that the former were not able, like the 
latter, wholly to throAv off the traminels of faith, to which they, sooner or 
later, repentantly returned, or, at least, offered a tribute of recog- 

• For the disposal of the relics of St. Malachy, see the Rev. Mr. O'Hanlon's admirable life of that 
great saint ; chap, xviii. 

t From the list of the Cistercian Abbeys of Ireland preserved in Trinity College library, and 
published in an appendix to Grace's annals, (p. 16'J), it appears that many of them were founded 
before the English invasion. They appear in the following order in this list, but the founders' 
names, and some of the dates, are added from other authorities: — St. Mary's, Dublin, (founded by 
the Danes for Benedictine? in 948, and reformed to Cistercian in 1139); Mellifont, in Louth, bv 
O'Carroll of Oiiel, in 1142 ; Bective, Meath, by Q'Melaghlin, in 1148 ; Baltinglass. Wicklow, by 
Deimot Mac Murrough, in 1148 or 11.^1; Boyle, Moscomnion, in 1148; Monasternenagh, or, de 
Miiggio, Limerick, by O'lJrien, in 1148; Athlone, Roscommon, in 1152; Newry, Down, by Mac 
Loughlin, king of Ireland, in 1153 ; Odoriiey, Kerry, in 1154 ; Inislounagh, Tipperarv, bv Donnell 
OTirien, in 1159 ; Fermoy, in 1 170 ; Maur, in Cork, by Dermot Mac Cartiiy, in 1172 : luis Sanier, 
Donegal, by Rory O'Canannan, in 1179; Jerpoint, Kilkenny, by Mac Gillapatrick of Ossory, in 
1180; Middlelon, Cork, by tiie Harrys, in 1180; Holy Cross, Tipperary, by Donnell <!'Brien, in 
1181; Dunbrody, Wexford, by Hervey of Mountmaurice, in 1182; Abbeyleix, Queen's Co., by 
Cuchry O'More, in 11S3; Inis Courcy. Down, by John de Conrcy, in 1188. as restitutinn for the 
Irish abbey of Carraig, destroyed by him ; Moiiasterevaii, Kildare, by O'Dempsev of OfT'aiv, in 
1189 ; Kuockmoy, Gahvay, by Catiial Crovderg O'Conor, in ll'.iO ; Grey Abbey, Down, by .■V.flVica, 
wife of John de Courcy, in 1193 ; Cumber, Down, in 1198 ; Tintern, Wexford, by V\'iliiam Mar- 
shall, in 1200; Corcomroe, Clare, by Don at O'Brien, in 1194; Kilcooly, Tipperar>-, by Donat 
O'Brien, in 1200; Kilbeggan, VVestmeath, by the Daltons, about 1200; Dounke, Kilkenn\,by 
William Marshall, about 1200; Abingdon, or Wothenay, Linicnck, by 'I'lieobald Fitz Walter, in 
1205; Abbeylorha, Longford, about 1205; Tracton, Cork, by the Mac Carthys, about 1205, or 
1224; Moycosquin, Deny, about 1205; Loughseudy, Westmeath, about 1205; and Cashel, Tip- 
perary, by Archbishop Mac Carwell, in 1272. All these Cistej-cian abbeys were dedicated to tlie 
Blessed Virgin, except that of Holy Cross, and the abbey of Athlone, dedicated to St. IVter and 
St. Bf-neilict. There were, also, minor houses, cells to some of the preceding. Archdeacon Lynch 
enumerates about 40 monastiries erected by Irishmen about the peiiod of the invasion, several o( 
them being included in the preceding list. One was the Dominicin house of Derry, founded by 
Donnell Og« O'Donnell, prince of Tirconneli, at the request of St. Dominic himself, wiio sent him 
two brother.s of the order. Vide Vambrensis Eversus, ii., 535, &c. ; O'SuUivan's Decas Palriciniw, 
lib, 9, c. 2. ; ar.d Lanigan, vol. iv. Tlie last-named writer enumerates the following primitive 


REIGN 6f mciIAKD I. 

Henceforth we shall have to treat of two races as constituting the popu- 
lation of Ireland, namely, the Anglo-Irish and the " mere Irish." The 
latter were, with certain exceptions, excluded from the privileges and 
protection of the English law, and were legally known, even dui'ing 
peace, as the " Irish enemy." Dissensions were constantly fomented 
among them by the powerful English barons, who thus made them an 
easy prey, and stripped them gradually of their territories ; while the 
Anglo-Irish, especially when residing beyond the English Pale, often 
shared the fate of the original Irish, with whom they became, in course 
of time, identified in language, manners, and interests. 

monastic institutions as existing at the close of the twelfth century: — viz., Armagh, Deny, 
Bangor, Alagiibile, or Muville, Devenish, Clogher, Clones, Louth, Clonfert, Inchmacnerin, Aian 
Isles, Cong. Mayo, Clonard, KA\s, Lusk, Kildare, Trim, Clunmacnoise, Killeigh, Glendalough, 
Siiger, Isle of All Saints on Lough Ree, Roscommon, Ballysadare, DrumclifF, Aghaboe, Lor/a, 
Lismore, Molana, Cork, Iniscathy, Inisfallen &c., &c. 



EeneweJ Wars of Cathal Carragh and Cathal Crovderg. — Tergiversation of 
Wilixaui de Burgo, and Death of Cathal Carragh at Boyle Abbey. — ^Massacre 
of the English Archers in Conuaught. — Wars in Ulster. — Fate of John de 
Courcy. — Legends of ihe Book of Howth. — Death and Character of William 
de Burgo. — Tumults and Rebellions of the English Barons. — Second Visit of 
Eiug John to Ireland. — Alarm of the Barons. — Submission of Irish Princes. — 
Independence of Hugh O'Neill. — Division of the English Pale into Counties. — 
Money Coined. — Departure of John. — The Bishop of Norwich Lord Justice. — 
Exploits of Cormac O'Melaghlin and Hugh O'Neill. — War in the South. — 
Catastrophe at A thlone.— Adventures of Murray O'Daly, the Poet of Lissadill. 
—^Ecclesiastical OccuiTences. 


fPope Innocent III. — King of France, Philip Augustus. — Emperor of Germany, Frederick II. 

King John resigned his dominions to the Pope, and did homage for them, 1213. — Ma"-na 
Ciiarta signed at Ruunymead, 1215.] 

(a.d. 1199 io A..Ti. 1216.) 

NE of the first acts of John, on ascending the throne of 
England, m 1199, was to appoint Meyler Fitz Henry- 
chief governor of Ireland. At that time a fierce war was 
raging in Connaught between tlie rival factions of the 
O'Conor family. Cathal Carragh, son of Conor Moin- 
moy, engaged tlie services of WilHam Burke, or De 
Burgo, better known to the reader as William Fitz 
Adelm, and of tlie English of Limerick, and by their 
aid he expelled Cathal Crovderg, and re-established him- 
self on the throne of Connaught. The exp'jlled prince 
enlisted the sympathy of Hugh O'Neill, who had recently 
appeared as chief of Tjione, and bad distinguished him- 
self both in 1196 and 1199, by successes ngainst De 


Courcj and the Englisli of Ulster* Cathal Crovderg and Hugh 
entered Connaught with an army, but finding their force inadequate, 
commenced a retreat, when they were overtaken at Ballysadare in 
Shgo by Cathal Carragli and his English auxiliaries, and routed with 
great loss; O'Hegny, then chief of Oriel, being among the slain in the 
northern army 

Cathal Crovderg next succeeded in securing the aid of John de 
Courcy and of young De Lacy, and marched with a strong English force 
as far as Kilmacduagh, where Cathal Carragh and the Connacians gave 
them battle. Cathal of the Red Hand was once more unfortunate, 
and his army was defeated with such slaughter that only two out of 
five battalions, of which it consisted, escaped, and these were pursued 
as far as the peninsula of Rinn-duin, or Rindown* on the shore of 
Lough Ree, where they were hemmed in and many of them killed, 
others being drowned in endeavouring to cross the lake in boats. 

Meyler, the lord justice, now marched against Cathal Carragh, and 
plundered Clonmacnoise ; and Cathal Crovderg, undaunted by his former 
losses, resolved to try the expedient of detaching De Burgo from 'the 
side of his enemy, and of purchasing his services for himself. The 
result proved that he calculated rightly on the mercenary character of 
the Anglo-Norman. The English barons recognized no principle in 
these wars but their own interest, and Avere only too glad to help the 
Irish in exterminating each other, while at the same time they could 
aggrandize and enrich themselves. Crovderg proceeded to Munster, 
where, by large promises, he purchased the aid of De Burgo, and 
obtained also that of MacCarthy of Desmond. Some of our annals 
state that a war raged about this very time between the O'Briens and 
the Desmond families, and that William de Burgo with all the English of 
Munster joined the former; but the contest to which this account refers 
did not interfere with that between the O'Conors, and most probably 
followed it. 

A.D. 1201. — Cathal Crovderg, with William de Burgo, the sons of 
Donnell O'Brien and Fineen or Florence Mac Carthy, and their respec- 
tive forces, marched from Limerick to Roscommon, where the army 

* The collateral Hy-Niall branch of Mac Loughlin (sometimes also called O'Loughlin), which 
had taken its name frum Lochlaiiin, the fourth in descent from Niall Glundubh, and had given two 
distinguished inonarclis to Ireland, disappears in the books of genealog_v with Muircheartach, or 
Murloiigh Mac Loughlin, monarch of Ireland, who was slain 1166. With the Hugh mentioned 
above, called Aedh Toinleasc, the O'Neills resume their sway as chiefs of Tyrone. 

* This point is now called St. John's, and contains the magnificent ruins of a castle, built in 
1227, by (leolTi'y Mares, or De Marisco. — See Dr. Petrie's account of it in Uie Iri-h Penny .Journal, 
pp. 7.3, &c. 


took up its quarters in the abbey of Boyle. Every part of the sacred 
precincts was desecrated by the soldiery, and nothing was left of the 
abbey but the walls and roof, even these being partially destroyed. De 
Burgo had begun to surround the monastery with an entrenchment, 
when Cathal Carragh arrived, and several skirmishes took place between 
the two armies, in one of which Cathal Carragh himself, having got 
mixed up with some retreating soldiers, was slain in the melee. This 
event decided the struggle; Crovderg's Munster auxiliaries were dis- 
missed to their homes, and Cathal and De Burgo repaired to the abbey of 
Cong, where they passed the Easter, having first billeted the English 
archers through Connaught for the purpose, as some accounts express it, 
of " distraining for their wages." The Four Masters say that De Burgo 
and O'Flaherty of West Connaught entered into a conspiracy against 
Cathal the Red Handed, which the latter timely discovered ; and that 
De Burgo having then demanded the wages of his men, the Connacians 
rose upon them and killed 700 of them. The Annals of Kilronan, how- 
ever, explain the event differently, for they say that a rumour got abroad 
in some mysterious manner to the effect that De Burgo was killed, and 
that by a simultaneous impulse the whole population rose and slew all 
the English soldiers who were dispersed among them. De Burgo then 
demanded an interview with Cathal, but the latter avoided seeing him ; 
and the Anglo-Norman, whose rapacity was foiled for once in so fearful a 
manner, set off for Munster with such of his men as had escaped the 
massacre. Three years after he took ample vengeance by the plunder 
of the whole of Connaught, " both lay and ecclesiastical." 

Ulster during this time was a scene of constant warfare betAveen the 
Kinel-Connell and the Kinel-Owen, and of domestic strife among the 
latter. Hugh O'Neill Avas deposed and Conor O'Loughlin, substituted; 
but the former appears to have been restored in a few years, after some 
sanguinary conflicts. 

A.D. 1204. — This year exhibited, in the downfall of John De Courcy, 
one of the many instances of retribution with which the history of the 
first English settlers in Ireland is filled. It is said that De Courcy in- 
curred the anger of John, by openly speaking of him as a usurper, and 
as the mm-derer of the young prince Arthm', the rightful heir to the 
crown of England ; but at all events the " Conqueror of Ulidia " was 
proclaimed a rebel, and his old enemies, the De Lacys, were ordered to 
deprive him of his lands, and seize his person. The English army of 
Meath, therefore, marched against him, and he was dri\ en to seek pro- 
tection from the Irish of Tyrone. It would appear that he was 



ultimately captured at Downpatrick, after a long siege, and sent to 
London, where he was confined in the tower for the remainder of his 
life. The Book of Howth relates how he was treacherously taken on 
Good Friday, when unarmed and engaged in his devotions in the 
churchyard of Downpatrick ; how he seized a wooden cross and sIcav 
thirteen of his assailants on that occasion ; how De Lacy punished, instead 
of rcAvarding, these persons who had betrayed their master by indicating 
when he mi<>;ht be found without arms ; how De Courcy Avas afterwards 
liberated from the tower to fight a French champion, who fled from the 
lists on beholding him ; how he then showed his strength by cleaving a 
helmet and coat of mail with his sword; how John thereupon pardoned 
him, and granted him the privilege which he asked for himself and his 
successors, to remain with his head covered in the royal presence ; and 
how, by some mysterious agency, he was prevented from returning to 
Ireland ; but it is needless to say that all this is mere fiction, although it 
has been mixed up with real history by Hanmer, and subsequent Irish 
historians, on no better authority than that repertory of Anglo-Irish 
legends the Book of Howth. As to Hugh De Lacy, who was then lord 
justice, he was rewarded by John with the possessions of De Courcy 
and the title of earl of Ulster.* 

The same year our annals record the death of the famous William 
FitzAdelm de Burgo, the ancestor of the Burke family in Ireland. 
Giraldus Cambrensis describes him as a man addicted to many vices ; 
bland and crafty ; sweet-tongued to an enemy, and oppressive to those 
under him; as a man full of wiles, and concealing enmity under a 
smooth exterior. The Four Masters state that he died unshriven, and 
of some disgusting disease, in punishment of his sacrilegious plundering 
of churches ; but other old writers, as Duald MacFirbis, and the transla- 
tor of the Annals of Clonmacnoise, endeavour to vindicate his character.f 

* Nothing authentic is known of the fate of Sir John De Courcy, save that he fell into the hands 
of De Lacy, who took him bj- the king's orders, and that he waAontined in the tower of London. 
His wife, Affrica, daughter of Clodfred, king of the Isle of Man, died a.d. 1193, and he left no 
male issue ; the MaoFatricks or De Courcys of Cork, who claim descent from him, being possibly 
the descendants of his brother who was killed during Sir John's lifetime. The privilege claimed by 
the barons of Kinsale, as De Courcys, to wear their hats in the pr^^sence of royalty is only supported 
by modern practice suggested by the above-mentioned legend. — See the subject amply discussed by 
I>r. O'Douovan, Four Masters, vol. iii. pp. 139-144. note n. 

t GiraluKS, who was prejudiced against FitzAdelm, says he was: — " Vir corpulontus, tarn 

staturae quam facturse — vir dapsilis et curialis Imhellium debellatur, reuellium 

blanditor; indomitis domitus, domitis indomitus; hosti suavissimus, subdito gi-avissimus : nee illi 
f'irmidabilis, nee isti fidelis. Vir dolnsus, blaudus, meticulosus, vir vino Venerique datus, &c." — 
llib. lixp., ii., cap. xvi. The Annals of Kilronan mention, under the date of 1203, the erection of 
a castle at Me«lick, on the Shannon, in the eastern exlrcmiiy of the present cc* ■- of Galway, bji 


About th:s period th-; utmost disorganization prevailed among the 
English barons in Ireland, their mutual feuds being as capricious and 
sanguinary as any Avhich we have had to lament among the native Irish. 
In 1201, Philip of Wigornia, or Worcester, and William de Braose, laid 
waste a great part of Munster in their broils. King John sold to the 
latter for four thousand marks the latids of the former and of Theobald 
Walter; but Walter redeemed his own for five hundred marks, and 
Philip re-entered upon his by force of arms. A few years later, tlie 
tables are turned, and De Braose appears as a defeated rebel, fiying 
from the country, and his family falling into the hands of the tyrant 
John, who barbarously caused his wife and his • son to be starved to 
death in Corfe castle.* Geofii'ey Mares, or De Marisco, also rebelled, 
and Munster was once more laid waste by contending English armies. 
Confusion was worse confounded by the rebellion of the De Lacys, 
between whom and Meyler a bloody civil war was waged, until 
" Leinster and Munster," as our annals say, " were brought to utter 
destruction." Cathal Crovderg and O'Brien of Thomond aided the 
lord justice, Meyler, in besieging Limerick and reducing De Burgo to 
subjection. Some of the English fortified themselves in their castles, 
and plundered the country indiscriminately like highwaymen, as Ave 
find one Gilbert Nangle to have done until he was obliged to fly from 

A.D. 1209. — Dublin having been desolated by pestilence, was partly 
repeopled from Bristol, to which city the Irish metropolis had been capri- 
ciously granted by Hemy II. The new colonists not understanding, as 
it would seem, the actual state of society in Ireland, were in the habit 
of resorting on holidays for amusement to Cullen's Wood, in the southern 
suburbs. A great number were thus assembled on Easter Monday, this 
year, when a party of the Irish septs of O'Byrne and O'Toole, who had 

William Btiike, who had been previouslj' seated at Limerick, .and the English of JIunstcr, and that 
in constructiiig the castle they filled up a cliuich with stones and earth. This would appear to 
liave heen De Burgo's oidy occupation of territory in Connaught, although he is called the con- 
■jm-ror of that province. 

* On retuniiug from Ireland, in August, 1210, John took with him the captives, Maude, wife 
of William de Breusa, or Branse, and her son, the father having some time before escaped to 
France. They were committed to Corfe Castle, in the Isle of Purbeck, where, by the king's oidera, 
they were confined in a room, with a sheaf of wheat and a piece of raw bacon for their only pro- 
visions. On the eleventh day their prison was opened and both were found dead, in a sitting 
posture, the mother between her son's legs, with her head leaning on his breast. In the last pangs 
of hunger she had gnawed her son's cheeks, probably after hia death. When William de Braose 
lie'ard the tragical end of his wife and son he died in a few days. Such is the account given by a 
c temporary Flemish writor, who cippears to have been in the service of John. — '■^o. ^^'l•i^,bt. Ilisioiy 
ot Ireland, vol. i., p. 129. 


been deprived of their patrimonies, nud forced into the mountains of 
Wicklow by tlie English, poured doAvn upon them, and cut to pieces 
some three hundred men. The citizens of Bristol repaired the loss by 
a fresh supply of colonists, but for hundreds of years after, Black Mon- 
day, as it was called, was commemorated as a festival by the citizens, 
who paraded in arms on the field of slaughter, and made a show of 
challenging the Irish enemy to the fight. 

A.D. 1210. — While matters were going on thus in Ireland — England, 
all this while, lying under the spii'itual horrors of an inderdict, or 
deprivation of the sacraments, and the king himself under a sentence 
of excommunication in punishment of his sacrileges and his contumacy 
against the church — John resolved to visit his Irish dominions for the 
purpose of restoring order there. Some of the oppressive exactions, 
tmder which the unhappy Jews groaned in this tyrant's reign, were 
levied for the expenses of this expedition. He landed at Crook, near 
Waterford, on the 20th June, this year, with a numerous and well- 
equipped army, which was conveyed in 700 ships. The presence of the 
king, with so powerful a force, struck awe into his rebellious subjects, 
and produced an immediate calm throughout the land. The De Lacys 
fled to France at his approach.* Others, like De Braose, followed their 
example. As to the Irish, they were, in fact, not at war with tlie 
English government at that moment, and as many as twenty Irish 
chieftains are said to have done homage to him during his stay in this 
country. He proceeded to Dublin, and thence to Meath, where Cathal 
Crovderg made his submission to him.t In compliance with the king's 
summons, Hugh O'Neill also repaired to the royal presence ; but de- 
parted without agreeing to any terms of submission. He appears to 
have encamped with a numerous force near the English camp, and on 
leaving carried off considerable spoils from the neighbouring country. 
John took Carrickfergus Castle, after a short siege, from De Lacy's 
people, and placed a garrison of his own there ; and the king of Con- 
naught, who had accompanied him with a great retinue, then returned 

* One of the crimes with which the De Lacys were charged was the murder of Sir John 
De Courcy, lord of Raheny and Kiloarrack, near Duhhn, a relative of the famous earl of Ulster, 
says Ware (Annals, an. 1213). See O'Donovan's note on the De Co'urcy's, quoted above. 

t Catlial Crovderg appears to have entered into terms with Meyler Fitz Henry a few years 
before this, and to have consented to yield two parts of Connaught to the English king, retaining 
the third part as his feudatory, and paying for it an annual sum of 100 marks. The Close rolls 
contain an entry of the letter, in which John expresses Ws satisfaction to Meyler at this arrange- 
tnent. On John's arrival at Waterford, in 12 10, Donough Cairbreagh O'Brien, son of Donnell Jlore, 
made his submission, and received a charter for Carr' v'gonnell and the lordship thereto belonging, 
for which he was to pay sixty mark.s. 


home. Shortly after, John was at Rathguaire, now Rathwire, near 
Kinnegad, in Westmeath, and Cathal Crovderg again came, bringing 
four hostages, but not his son, whom it appears he liad promised to 
bring, and whom Jolui Avas to have taken under his special charge. 

There being no military operations to occupy the king, he set about 
introducing English laws and customs into Ireland. He divided Leinster 
and Munster into twelve shires or counties, namely, Dublin, Kildare, 
Meath, Uriel (Louth), Catherlough (Carlow), Kilkenny, Wexford. 
Waterf ord, Cork, Limerick, Kerry, and Tipperary ; but, as Sir John 
Davies observes, " these counties stretched no further than the lands of 
the Englisli colonists extended. In them only were the English laws 
published and put in execution ; and in them only did the itinerant 
judges make their circuits, and not in the countries possessed by the Irish, 
which contained two-thirds of the kingdom at least."* John also caused 
sterling money to be coined in Ireland of the same standard as that of 
England, and took his departure from this country in the last week of 
August, leaving, as lord justice, John de Gray, bishop of Norwich, the 
man whom he wanted to make archbishop of Canterbury in spite of the 
pope, and wdio was thus the cause of his quarrel with the Holy See. 

The remaining events of our history during John's reign are not of 
much importance, and have no relation to the memorable transactions 
of which England was at that period the scene — the final submission 
of John to the pope, his war with the barons, the granting of the mapiia 
charta, &c. Cormac, head of the ancient Meath family of O'Melaghlin, 
\vrested Delvin in Westmeath, from the English, and carried on a long 
Avar with them and their auxiliaries; and Hugh O'Neill of Tyrone, and 
Donnell O'Donnell of Tyrconnell, havmg settled their old differences, 
co-operated in beating the English on two or three occasions. The castle 
erected by the English at Caol Uisge, on the Erne, Avas captured by 
them, and its commandant, Mac Costello, slain ; and Hugh O'Neill 
burned the castle of Carlingford and slaughtered its garrison. 

A.D. 1215. — In the south, we are told by the Annals of Innisfallen, 
that a AA'ar, in Avhich the English took part, as usual, on both sideS; 
and which Avas probably fomented by them, raged betAveen the two 
brothers, Dermot and Cormac Finn MacCarthy, princes of Desmond; 
and that the result AA-as the acquisition by the English of an enormous 
increase of territory in that quarter, Avhere they fortified themselves by 
the erection of about tAventy strong castles in Cork and Kerry. 

* DAvis' Hist. Tracts, p. 93. 


The " English bishop," as De Gray is called, built a bridge of stone 
over the Shannon at Athlone in 1210 (1211), and erected a castle there, 
on the site of one which had been built by Turlough More O'Conor in 
1129; but one of the towers, when just finished, fell, and crushed 
beneath its ruins Richard Tuite, the most powerful of the English 
barons since the departure of the De Lacys, together with his chaplain 
and seven other Englishmen. The outworks of the castle extended 
into the sanctuaries of St. Peter and St. Kieran, and the Irish attributed 
the catastrophe to this desecration. 

The Four Masters, under the date 1213, relate a story which curiously 
Illustrates tlie manners of the period. Dounell More O'DonnSll, lord, o** 
Tirconnell, sent a steward named Finn O'Brollaghan into Connaught ♦. 
collect a tribute which he claimed in the northern portion of that pro- 
vince. One of the first places which the steward visited was the house 
of the poet, Murray O'Daly, at Llssadili, in Sligo; and being a coarse, 
ignorant fellow, he began to wrangle with the poet, who, enraged at his 
conduct, seized a battle-axe and killed him on the spot. To escape the 
anger of O'Donnell, the poet fled to Clanrickard, in the present county 
of Galway, Avhither he was pursued by the angry prince of Kinel- 
Connell, so that MacWilliam (that is, Richard Burke, son of the late 
"William de Burgo) was obliged to send him to seek refuge elsewhere. 
Thus was the unfortunate O'Daly compelled to fly to Limerick, and 
thence to Dublin, and finally to Scotland ; O'Donnell pursuing him with 
an army, besieging towns, and plundering the country to compel the 
inhabitants to surrender the fugitive. In his last asylum ODaly found 
time to compose three poems in praise of O'Donnell, which soothed the 
anger of the latter, and procured the poet's pardon. In one of these 
poems he complains that the cause of the hostility against him was very 
small indeed, namely, the killing of a clown who had insulted him ! 

Cadhla, or Catholicus O'Duffy, the venerable archbishop of Tuam, a 
cotemporary of St. Malachy and St. Laurence O'Toole, died at an 
advanced age in the abbey of Cong, in 1201 ; and the same year John 
De Monte Celio, the pope's legate, came to Ireland, and held sjmods at 
Dublin and Athlone. John Comyn, the first English archbishop of 
Dublin, died in 1213, and was interred in Christ Church; and his 
successor was Henry De Londres, a great friend and adherent of king 
John's, through all his troubles, and who, with William Marshall, earl of 
Pembroke, was among the few on the king's side at Runneymead, and 
signd the magna charta as such. Some Irish bishops attended the 
fourtli general council of Lateran in 1215; as we find that Dion vsius 



O'Lonergan, archbishop of Cashel, died at Rome that year ; that Cor- 
nelius O'Heney, bishop of Killaloe, died on his return from Rome ; and 
that the death of Eugene MacGillavider, archbishop of Armagh, took 
place in the Eternal City the following year.* 

* Besides several of the religious houses enumerated in the note at the end of the last chapter, 
the following were also founded in Ireland, about the period treated of in the present chapter; viz: — 

The Pnory of Kills, in Kilkenny, founded in 1193, by Geoffry FitzRobert, for canons regular of 
St. Augustin, under the Invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the Priory of Kilrush, in Kildare, 
for canons regular, and the commandery of St. John and St. Brigid, in Wexford, for knights 
hospitallers, by William Marshall, earl of Pembroke;: the Priorj' of Tristernagh, in Westmeath, 
for canons regular, by Geoffiy De Constantine, in 1200 ; the Priory of Great Conall, on the bank.* 
of the Liffey, in Kildare, for the same, by Meyler FitzHenry, in 1202 ; the Priory of Canons 
Regular, at Inistiogue in Kilkenny, by Thomas, seneschal of Leinster, in 1206; and the Priory 
of the same order at Newtown, on the north bank of the Boyne, by Simon Rochford, bishop of 
Meath, in the same year. Earl Marshall founded the Convent of St. Saviour on the site occupied 
by the present Law Courts in Dublin, in 1216 — it was first held by the Cistercians, but was traut/- 
ferred eight years after to the Douunican friars. 

^^-v \}!i^.,^^ 



(reign of HEXRY III.) 

Extension of Magna Charta to Ireland. — Eeturn of Hugh do Lacy. — "Wars 
between De Lacy and Earl Marshall. — Surrender of Territory to the Crown by 
Irish Princes. — Connaught Granted by Henry to Do Burgo. — Domestic "Wars in 
Connaught. — Interference of the English. — Eamine and Pestilence. — Hugh 
O'Conor Seized in Dublin and Rescued by Earl Marshall. — His Retaliation at 
Athlone. — Death of Hugh, and Fresh "Wars for the Succession in Connaught. — 
Felim O'Conoi". — English Castles in Connaught Demolished. — The Islands of 
Clew Bay Plundered. — Melancholy Eate of Earl Marshall. — Connaught Occu- 
pied by the Anglo-Irish. — Divisions and War in Ulster. — Felim O'Conor 
Proceeds to England. — Deaths of Remarkable Men. — Expeditions to France 
and "Wales. — The Geraldines mahe "War at their own Discretion. — Rising of the 
Young Men in Connaught. — Submission of Brian O'^Neill. — Battle of Creadran- 
kille and Defeat of the English. — Death of Fitzgerald and O'Donnell. — 
Domestic "\\"ar in the North. — Battle of Downpatrick. — Wars of De Burgo and 
FitzGcrald. — Defeat of the English near Carrick-on-Shannon. — General Yiew 
of this Reign. 


Popes: Gregory IX. to Clcmpnt lY. — St. Louis IX., king of France, died 1270 ; St. Dominic died 
1221 ; St. Francis died 1226.— Guelphs and GuiDelines iu Italy, 1230.— Seventh Crusade, 1248 ; 
Eiglit Crusade, 1268. 

[from 1216 TO 1272.] 

ENRY III., on the death of his father, Jolm, in 1216, 
ascended the throne, while yet in his tenth year, and 
William Marshall, earl of Pembroke and lord of Leinster, 
was appointed protector both of the king and kingdom ; 
Geoffi'ey de Marisco being continued in the office of 
cnstos, or chief governor of Ireland. The great power 
enjoyed by earl Marshall, his intimate ties, both of family 
and property, with Ireland, and his wasdom in the 
management of the state, secured special attention at 
coiu't to the affairs of this country ; and accordingly, we 
find that a statement of grievances, made by the English 
settlers, was immediately followed by the transmission to 
Ireland of a duplicate of the magna charta, altered in 
some points to suit the difference of circumstances. Legal 


privileges were, however, only conceded to persons of English descent, 
any general extension of them to the Irish being opposed by the barons ; 
although, in individual cases, charters of " English law and liberty" 
were granted to some Irish who applied for them. 

One of the first acts of the reign was the pardon of Hugh de Lacy, 
and an invitation to him to return to his Irish estates; but William 
Marshall, who performed this service for him, having died soon after, 
(a.d. 1221,) and being succeeded by his son, William, a feud arose 
between De Lacy and the latter, Avhose father had obtained some of 
De Lacy's lands while this nobleman was in exile, and all Meath was 
ravao-ed in the fierce war Avhich raged between them. The fact of 
Hugh de Lacy being supported by Hugh O'Neill in this contest, led the 
Irish annalists to suppose that the former had returned to Ireland 
without the king's permission, and that he had joined O'Neill in a war 
against the English. " The English of Ireland," they tell us, " mus- 
tered twenty- four battalions at Dundalk, whither Hugh O'Neill and 
De Lacy came against them with four battalions ; and on this occasion the 
English conceded his own demands to O'Neill." In this war Trim was 
gallantly defended by De Lacy against William Marshall; and imme- 
diately after the war, a strong castle was erected there. 

About this time died Henry de Londres, archbishop of Dublin, and 
lord justice of Ireland, by whom the chief part of Dublin Castle was 
erected.* There is great confusion as to the order in which the lords 
justices then succeeded ; the names of William Marshall, GeofFrej' de 
Marisco, and ilaurice FitzGerald appearing in a difFei'ent order, according 
to different authorities. 

The Anglo-Irish historians tell us that several of the Irish chieftains 
surrendered their territories to the English king, receiving back a 
portion of their lands, for which they paid rent as tenants of the croAvn. 
Thus O'Brien, of Thomond, made a formal surrender, and received 
from Henry this year (1221) a great part of his own territory, for which 
he was to pay an annual rent of one hundred and thirty marks ; this 
desperate course being resorted to by the Irish chiefs for the purpose of 
obtaining the protection of government against the aggressions of the 
imprincipled and rapacious barons. How futile, however, their hopes 

* This English prelate was nicknamed " Duin-bill," from a very improbable circumstance 
related of him. It is said that having got all the instruments bj' which the tenants of the 
archiepiscopal estates lield their lands into his hands, on the pretence of examining them, he cast 
them into the fire ; but that a tumult ensued which compelled him to fly, and that he was subse- 
quently obliged to confirm the tenants" tenures. The story rests on an old tradition. 


of security against wrong were, even pnrcliasecl by such sacrifices, was 
soon evinced In the treatment of the Connaclans by Henry III., Avho, 
notwithstanding such an arrangement with Cathal Crovderg, made a 
grant of the whole province of Connaught to Richard de Burgo, to take 
effect on the death of Cathah* 

A.D. 1224. — This year, in which an awful shower is said to have fallen 
in Connaught, and to have been followed by muiTain, Cathal Crovderg, 
who was distinguished not less for the purity of his morals than for 
his valour, died in the habit of a grey friar at Knockmoy, or, as the 
Annals of Clonmacnoise have it, at Briola, near the Suck, In Roscommon, 
and his son, Hugh, assvimed the government of Connaught; but the 
succession became the source of a most lamentable and desolating war. 
Henry issued a mandate, dated June, 1225, to earl iNlarshall, ordering 
him to seize the whole country of Connaught, as forfeited by O'Conor, 
and to deliver it to Richard de Burgo; but the Irish appear not to 
have been aware of any such order, or, if they were, to have treated 
it with contempt. Alas ! there needed not the mandate of the Eno-llsh 
king to kindle the flame of war on the occasion, or to instigate the 
destruction which the infatuated people were too ready to execute 
upon themselves ! 

A.D. 1225. — The clahns of Hugh, son of Cathal Crovderg, to the 
crown of Connaught Avere immediately disputed by his cousins, Tur- 
lough and Hugh, sons of Roderic ; and O'Neill, urged by Mageraghty, 
chief of Sil-Murray, from motives of private vengeance, mustered 
a large force and marched Into Connaught to assist the two latter princes. 
Upon this all the Connaught chieftains, with the exception of Mac 
Dermot, of Moylurg, and a few minor chiefs, rose against Hugh, son of 
Cathal; and O'Neill, having inaugurated Turlough at Carnfree,t and 
paid himself by the plunder of Hugh's house at Lough Nen, returned 
with his army to Tyrone. The English barons had a large army 
assembled at this time at Athlone, either for the purpose of executing 
king Henry's orders, or of watching the progress of affairs In Connaught. 
To them Hugh, the son of Cathal repaired, and he was received with 
open arms. Most of them had aheady been bountifully rewarded by 

* Cox, Leland, &c. The Irish annalists make no mention of this surrender of their territo- 
ries by the Irish princjs. The particulars of the Connaught war, which follow in the text, are 
taken exclusively from our native annals, the accounts of it published on Anglo-Irish authority 
being full of error. 

t This was the usual inauguration place of the O^onors, and has been identified by Dr. O'Do- 
novan as a small cairn of stones and earth near the village of Tulsk, about three miles S.E. of 
Katlicri>glian, in ihe county of \wosconimoii. — Four Masters. \>A. iii.. u. 221, D/ite''a). 


Ilia father or himself for military services, and they rejoiced at the 
present prospect of an inroad into Connanght under his standard. 
A strong- English army, with the lord justice himself at its head, and 
Donough Cairbrach O'Brien, and O'Melaghlin, with their forces, as 
auxiliaries, besides the forces of Mac Donough and other friends of 
Hugh, now entered Connaught, where, after the departure of O'Neill, 
there was no adequate force to oppose them, and the enemies of Hugh 
fled In various directions at their approach, carrying off their families, 
cattle, and other moveables. After some skirmishing with detached 
parties, Hugh led the English army in pursuit of the sons of Roderic, 
by a route which they could not have discovered themselves, as far as 
Attymas, in the north-east of j\Iayo, and they plundered and depopulated 
several districts. Numbers of fugitives, endeavouring to effect their 
escape across Ballymore Lough, in the present parish of Attymas, 
were drowned, and the baskets of the fishing weirs were found filled 
with the bodies of children. " Such of them," say the Annals, " as 
escaped, on this occasion, from the English and from drowning, passed 
into Tirawley, where they were attacked by O'Dowda, who left them 
not a single cow." The sons of Roderic now resolved to defer any 
f m'ther effort until Hugh's English allies should have left him ; and some 
of their staunchest adherents accordingly made a feigned submission to 
Hugh, who soon after .dismissed the English battalions, to Avhom he 
delivered, as hostages for their wages, several of the Connaught chiefs, 
who were subsequently obliged to ransom themselves, while he himself 
remained with his Irish friends to Avatch the O'Flahertys and others, 
whose fidelity he with good reason suspected. 

Durino; these hostilities, the Eno;lIsh of Desmond and Murtouo-li 
O'Brien, one of the Thomond princes, without any invitation from 
Hugh O'Conor, made an irruption into the south of Connaught, 
burning villages and slaying the inhabitants where they could be found ; 
<ind all this only to share in the spoils which the lord justice and 
his followers were enjoying in the northern parts of the province. 
" VVoful, indeed, was the misfortune," as the annalists exclaim, "which 
God permitted to fall upon the best province in Ireland at that time ! 
for the young warriors did not spare each other, but preyed on and 
plundered each other to the utmost of their power. Women and 
children, the feeble and the lowly poor, perished of cold and famine in 
that war I" 

The respite which ensued was very brief. As soon as the main 
body of the English army had left, the Connaught chieftains again 

252 p^EiGN OF iiknuy irr. 

revolted, and again Hugh, son of Catlial, was obliged to call on the 
foreigners for help. The call was responded to cheerfullj^ and without 
delay ; and well was the pi'omptitude of the English rewarded, " for 
their spoil was great, and their struggle trifling." The country was 
once more overrun with armies ; but the sons of Roderic were ultimately 
deserted by their adherents, who judged their cause to be hopeless, and 
they sought refuge, together with Donn Oge Mageraghty, at the court 
of HugirO'Neill. 

Year after year the crops had been left on the ground all the 
winter : " the corn remained unreaped until after the festival of St. 
Bridget" (the 1st of February), " when the ploughing had commenced ;" 
fearful dearth and sickness were the consequence ; and, as the words of 
the old chronicles affectingly describe it, " the tranquillity which now 
followed was wanting, for there was not a church or territory in 
Connaught which had not been destroyed by that day. After the 
plundering and killing of the cattle, people were broken down by cold 
and hunger, and a violent distemper raged throughout the whole 
country — a kind of burning disease by wliich the towns were desolated, 
and left without a single living being."* 

A.D. 1227. — Very soon after the events just described — some say in 
1226 — Hugh O'Conor was inveigled into the power of his late Eng- 
lish allies in Dublin ; and under the form of some pretended criminal 
proceedings they were about to take away his life, when earl Marshall 
came to his rescue, and taking him by force out of the court, escorted 
him safely to Connaught — his son and daughter remaining in the 
hands of the English. The king of Connaught found an opportunity 
in a week after to retaliate, and he availed himself of it without scruple. 
A conference between him and William de Marisco, son of GeoflPry, the 
lord justice, was appointed to take place at the Lathach, or slough, 
to the Avest of Athlone. Hugh was accompanied by a few chosen 
men, and William came to the rendezvous attended by eight mounted 
knights. As soon as they met, Hugh seized de ivlarisco, and the 
other Irish chiefs rushing upon his companions, overpowered them, one 
English knight, the constable of Athlone, being killed in the fray. 
Huo"hthen proceeded to plunder and burn the market place of Athlone, 
which had become an English ijarrison; and in exchange for his 

* Anivils of Kilronan and of the Four Masters. Dr. WiMe thinks " the hot, heavy deatli- 
sicknesa which siirceeded to the war and famine, that desolated large portions of Ireland at this 
period, was our Irish typhus." — Census oj freland fui- 18»"2; Repoi-t on Tables of Denlhs. 


prisoners he obtained his own son and daughter, and some Connaught 
chiefs whom the English had got in their power. 

A.D. 1228. — The career of Hugh O'Conor was as brief as it was 
troubled. Before the close of 1227, the sons of Roderic, to whose 
side the English had turned, once more made their ap])earance in 
Connaught ; . Hugh, the younger brother, with Richard de Bm-go and a 
great army in the northern districts, and Turlough, with the lord 
deputy, in the central plain of Connaught, where they erected a 
strong castle on the peninsula of Rindown in Lough Ree. The son 
of Crovderg fled to Tirconnell, but his reception there was not encourag- 
ing; and returning with his family, almost unattended, he had a 
narrow escape from his enemies near the Curlieu mountains, his wife 
falling into their hands, and being delivered by them to the English. 
Next year (1228) he and the lord deputy, Geoffry de Marisco, were 
apparently reconciled, and he was in the house of the latter when an 
Englishman, inflamed with jealousy at an act of levity on Hugh's part, 
rushed upon him and slew him on the spot.* 

The removal of one competitor for the crown of Connaught left the 
affairs of that unhappy province as complicated as ev'er. The brothers 
Hugh and Turlough now struggled against each other for the prize — so 
completely had the principle of succession, according to the Irish law, 
ceased to be respected. Hugh, the younger brother, was supported by 
Richard de Burgo, now justiciary of Ireland, and he was also recognized 
by the majority of the Connaught chieftains as their king, although Tur- 
lough had been already inaugurated by O'Neill. There was also a new 
competitor in the person of Felim, brother of the late king, Hugh, son of 
Cathal Crovderg. " An intolerable dearth," say the Four Masters, " pre- 
vailed in Connaught in consequence of the war of the sons of Roderic. 
They plundered churches and territories (that is, the property of the 
chiu'ch and of the laity) ; they bani-shed the clergy and ollaves into 
foreign and remote countries, and others of them perished of cold and 

A.D. 1229 (or 1230). — The scene in Connaught now presents some 
redeeming features, although it is still one of bloodshed and anarchy. 

* "The cause of killing the king of Connaught," say Mageoghegan's annab of Clonmacnoise, 
'• vvas that after the wife of an Englishman," (who was an attendant in tJie deput3''s house,) "had 
BO washed his head and body with sweet balls and other things, be, to gratilie her for lier service, 
kissed lier, which tlie Englishman seeing, for meer jealousie, killed O'Conor presently at unawares." 
The murderer was hanged next day by the deputy's orders. The Four Masters say Hugh "was 
treacherously killed by the Englisli, in the mansion of Geoffrey JMares, (de Marisco,) after he bad 
been expelled by the Connaciaiis." 

254 nEiGx or ih-nuy ht. 

Several of tr.o chieftains declared that tliey would not serve a prince who 
would keep them in subjection to the English; and Hugh, who had just 
received his crown at the hands of Englishmen, complied, not unwillingly 
perhaps, with their wishes. But this step comes too late, after exhaust- 
ing themselves by so much mutual slaughter Hostilities ensue. Richard 
de Burgo enters Connaught with an overwhelming force ; desolates a 
large portion of the country ; slays, among many others, Donn Oge 
Mageraghty, the most indomitable of the chieftains ; hurls Hugh, son 
of Roderic, from his precarious throne, and proclaims Felim, son of 
Cathal Crovderg, king in his stead. Hugh finally seeks refuge with 
Hugh O'Neill, king of Tyrone — a prince who had never yielded hostages 
or tribute to the foreigners, nor indeed acknowledged any superior, Irish 
or English, and whose death, in 1230, removed another bulwark of Irish 

Thus does this sad and dreary Connaught history proceed. Insane 
counsels, hopeless strife, pitiless devastation, make up the sickening tale; 
while the foreign enemy, who has been goading on the infatuated com- 
batants, and aiding them in their work of mutual destruction, strides in 
grim triumph over the wreck which he and they conspired to make, uses 
the rival princes as puppets, and seizes their teri'itories with impunity. 
In 1231 Felim was taken prisoner at Meelick, in violation of solemn 
guarantees, by Richard de Burgo, who had two years before made him 
king ; and next year Hugh, son of Roderic, went through the mockery 
of recognition as king of Connaught, although before the end of the 
year Felim was set at liberty by the English, and thus placed in a posi- 
tion to re-assert his rights. 

A.D. 1233. — Felim O'Conor once more raised his standard, round 
which his friends soon rallied in sufficient numbers to enable him to take 
the field. He went in pursuit of Hugh, and in his encounter with him 
slew that prince, together with one of his brothers, his son, and many of 
his leading men, both English and Irish. He next demolished the castle 
Bungalvy, or Galway, whicli had been erected the preceding year by 
Richard de Burgo, and also Castle Kirk, on Lough Corrib, the Hag's 
Castle on Lough Mask, and the Castle of Dunamon on the river Suck, 
in Roscommon, all of whicli had been built or fortified by the sons of 
Roderic and the English. 

A.D. 1235. — Felim's hardihood, however, was speedily punished; for 
Richard de Burgo entered Connaught with an enormous force, and 
plundered the country without mercy. Not meeting any resistance, he 
proceeded to Thomond, at the instigation of O'Heyne, who desired to be 


revenged on Donongli Cairbrach O'Brien, and was committing great 
depredations there, when Felim, although he could not save his own terri- 
tory, flew to the aid of his southern ally. A pitched battle was fought. 
Their cavalry, archers, and coats of mails gave the English an advantage; 
and O'Brien, to whose rashness the defeat was partly due, having made 
peace with the invaders, the Connacians returned home, the English 
army following close in their rear. Felini now fled with his cattle, and 
all those who chose to follow his fortunes, to the north, and sought 
refuge with O'Donnell of Tirconnell, while the English scoured the 
entire province for spoils. O'Flaherty, who had been all along hostile 
to Felim, joined the English, (who would otherwise have plundered his 
own territory), and conveyed his flotilla of war boats from Lough Corrib, 
by land, to the sea at Leenaun, the head of Killery bay. With these 
boats the English, who had already marched as far as Achil, which they 
plundered, were enabled to lay waste the Insi Modh, or islands of Clew 
bay, in which Manus O'Conor, son of IMurtough Muimhneach had, with 
many others from the main land, sought refuge. Numbers Avere thus 
slaughtered on the islands, but Manus fled in his vessels ; the O'Malleys, 
who always possessed a numerous fleet, remaining inactive spectators of 
the scene, as they were not on friendly terms with him. There was not 
a cow left on the islands, and those to whom the cows belonged would 
have been compelled by hunger and thirst, say the annalists, to abandon 
them, had they not been themselves killed by the English, or carried off 
as prisoners. After devastating all Umallia, and taking a prey from 
O'Donnell at Easdara, the English army laid siege to the castle held 
for O'Conor by INIacDerinot on the Rock of Lough Key, in Roscommon, 
and captured it by the aid of " wonderful machines ;" but a few rights 
after MacDermot recovered the castle by the help of an L'it;hman, who 
closed the gate against the English garrison when they had left on a 
marauding party ; and the fortress was then demolished, that it might 
not again fall into the hands of the English. By this expedition the 
English left the Connacians " without food, raiment, or cattle, and the 
country without peace, the Irish themselves plundering and tlestroy- 
ing one another ;" but they did not obtain hostages or submission. Felim 
made peace the same year with the lord justice, and was left in possession 
of " the king's five cantreds (or baronies)," which were probably the 
mensal lands of the kings of Connaught. 

We now turn to an episode in the history of the Pale. 

William Marshall, the powerful earl of Pembroke, and protector of 
the realm during the king's minority, left at his death five sons, all uf 


whom inherited in succession his title and estates; but as all died child- 
less, the family became extinct in the male line. It is said that the 
father died under the bann of excommunication, inflicted on him by an 
Irish bishop for his plunder of the church, and that the sons refused to 
yield up any of the wealth which their sire had taken by the sword, 
whether sacrilegiously or otherwise. Be this as it may, misfortunes fell 
heavily upon them in the sequel. Earl Richard, one of the brothers, 
having taken a leading part in the rebellious preceedings of the English 
barons, was deprived of his vast possessions, and, taking up arms, he 
joined the standard of Llewellyn, the heroic prince of Wales. He de- 
fended himself successfully against the royal troops in one of his own 
castles ; but a most vile and treacherous conspiracy, to which he fell a 
a victim, was now formed against him. Maurice Fitzgerald (the lord 
justice), Hugh and Walter de Lacy, Richard de Burgo, Geoffry de 
Marisco, and in fact all the leading Anglo-Irish barons, are said to have 
been led by the English minister into this nefarious plot, the object of 
which was, to inveigle earl Richard to Ireland, and to get him by some 
means into the hands of his enemies, the bribe offered being no less than 
the distribution among them of all the earl's Irish possessions. The plan suc- 
ceeded so well that in 1234, the earl came to Ireland with a few followers, 
and took the field in the assertion of his rights. He recovered some of 
his own castles, and captured Limerick after a siege of four days ; but 
this was all brought about to hasten his ruin. A truce was now proposed, 
and a mock conference took place on the CuiTagh of Kildare. At a 
signal given the great body of his followers suddenly deserted, drav^n off 
by De jNlarisco, who is called a deceitful old man, and who had trea- 
cherously urged him on from the beginning. Seeing that he was betrayed, 
he took an afrectionate leave of his young brother, Walter, who is des- 
cribed as a youth of beautiful mien, and whom he directed a servant to con- 
duct from the field ; and then, with scarcely any one by him but fifteen 
knights Avho had accompanied him from England, and assailed by over- 
whelming numbers, he continued bravely to defend himself • until at 
length, after being unhorsed, a traitor from behind plunged a knife into 
his back. He was then conveyed, all but lifeless, to one of his own 
castles, of which Maurice FitzGerald was in possession, and there he 
expired in the midst of his enemies. Thus perished " the flower of the 
chivalry of his time." His sad' end, and the base means emploj-ed against 
him, excited a strong feeling both in England and Ii*eland ; tumults 
took place in London ; the king became alarmed, as it was discovered 
that the royal seal had been employed to give sanction to the first sug- 


gestion of the plan ; and Maurice FitzGerald repaired to England to 
clear himself by oath from the guilt of the foul tnuisaction. But the 
affair merits our attention chiefly as illustrating the character of the men 
who then held in their hands the destinies of Ireland. 

A. D. 1236. — A conference was the usual mode with the unprincipled 
men of that time to get an enemy into their power, and Felim O'Conor 
was invited, for that purpose, to attend a meeting of the English at 
Athlone. He came, but having received timely intimation of their ob- 
ject, he made his escape, although pursued as far as Sligo, and repaired 
to Tirconnell, his usual asylum on such occasions. The government of 
Connaught was then committed by the English to Brian O'Conor, son of 
Turlough, son of Roderic ; but all the power of his foreign patrons was 
insufficient to keep him in the office. Feiim returned the following year, 
and took the field against his competitors. His firsh encounter was 
with the soldiers of the lord justice, who were overvrhelmed at the 
onset by the impetus of Felim's attack ; and Brian's people, seeing the 
English soldiers routed, took to flight themselves, and were so dispersed 
that, after that day, none of the descendants of P.cderic had a home in 
their ancestral territory of the Sil-Murray. Felim plundered their lands, 
and, among other deeds of vengeance, expelled Cormac MacDermot, 
chief of Moylurg, from his territory. 

A.D. 123B. — About this time we find in our annals the sio-nificant 
entry that " the barons of Ireland went to Connaught, and commenced 
erecting castles there." The country had been made a wilderness, and 
they had little more to do than to enter and take possession. The ex- 
pulsion of the O'Flahertys from their hereditary territory of Muintir- 
Morroughoe, on the east shores of Lough Corrib, to the bogs and moun- 
tains west of that lake, where they became very powerful in after times, 
dates from this year, but they are styled lords of west Connaught long 
before this period. 

A.D. 1239. — The scene now shifts from Connaught to Ulster, where 
FitzGerald, the lord justice, with Hugh de Lacy, and others, entered 
with a large army, deposed Donnell MacLouglin, who had succeeded 
Hugh O'Neill, as lord of Tyi'one, and placed Brian O'Neill in his stead ; 
Jbut the former recovered his position after a battle fought the same 
year at Carnteel. This was the game which the English had played so 
successfully in Connaught. In that period of disorganization there were 
always half a dozen claimants for the chieftaincy in each territory, 
and it was only necessary to pit them against each other to secure the 
ruin of all. 



A.D. 1240. — Wearied with the aggressions of Richard de Burgo, and 
with the elements of strife, English and Irish, which that nobleman 
kept constantly in motion, the unhappy king of Connaught proceeded 
to England, and complained bitterly to Henry III. of the injustice with 
which he had to contend. The English king soothed him with empty 
honours, confirmed to him the five cantreds already mentioned, and 
soon after wrote to Maurice Fitz Gerald, the lord justice, ordering him 
" to pluck out by the root that fruitless sycamore, De Burgo, which 
the earl of Kent, in the insolence of his power, had planted in those 

A.D. 1241. — Donnell More O'Donnell, the warlike lord of Tyrconnell, 
who also asserted the right of chieftainship over lower, or northern 
Connaught, as far as the Curlieu mountains, died in the monastic 
habit, among the monks of Assaroe, and was succeeded by Melaghlin 
O'Donnell, who aided Brian O'Neill in recovering Tyrone from Mac 
Loughlin, the latter chieftain being killed in battle, with ten of his family, 
and several chiefs of the Kinel-Owen. Some other celebrities of Irish 
history made their exit about the same time. Walter ae Lacy died 
this year; Donough Cairbrach O'Brien, son of Donnell More, lord of 
Thomond, the following year; and the great earl, Richard de Burgo, the 
year after (1243), vv^hile proceeding with some troops to join Henry HI. 
in an expedition against the king of France. 

A.D. 1245. — The king of England being hard pressed in a war with 
the Welsh, summoned, or rather invited, the Irish chiefs, and the 
Anglo-Irish barons, to muster round his standard in the principality. 
At this time these barons claimed exemption from attending the king 
outside the realm of Ireland, and Henry would appear to have con- 
ceded the privilege, as in his writ of summons, he expressly stated 
that their attendance on that occasion should not be made a precedent 
against them. Felim O'Conor accompanied the lord justice, Fitzgerald, 
on this expedition, and was treated with great honour by Henry ; but 
Fitz Gerald incurred the king's weighty displeasure by the tardiness of 
his attendance, and was consequently deprived of office ; Sir John, son 
of Geoflfry de Marisco, being appointed justiciary in his stead. The 
•English army in Wales had suffered a great deal, waiting for the Irish* 

* The earl of Kent here mentioned was Hubert de Burgo, who had been cliiefjustice of England. 
There is extant a letter from Felim O'Conor to Henry III., thanking him for the many favors 
which he had conferred upon him, and espt-cially for having written in his behalf against Walter de 
Burgo, to his justiciary, William Dene; but this letter, although published in Rynier (vol. i., 
p. 240) under the date of 1240, must refer to a period not earlier than 1260, when William 
Dene was justici.-.ry. 


reinforcement, and the king's feelings were embittered by the subsequeni 
failure of the expedition. After this tim?* we find the Geraldines 
in Ireland acting independently of the royal authority, and making war 
and peace at their own discretion. 

A.D. 1247. — Maurice Fitz Gerald led an army this year into Tir- 
connell, and by a stratagem, cleverly carried out by one of his Irish 
auxiliaries, Cormac, a grandson of Roderic O'Conor, he gained a victory 
at the ford of Ballyshannon over O'Donnell, who was slain. A great 
number of FitzGerald's men were, however, killed in the fight or 
drowned. A rivalry for the chieftainship of Tirconnell was then pro- 
moted between Godfrey O'Donnell and Rory O'Canannan, and in the 
domestic strife which ensued the English were able for a while to crush 
the patriotic ardour of the Tirconnellians. MeanAvhile another army 
penetrated into Tyrone under Theobald Butler, nov/ lord justice ; and the 
Kinel-Owen held a council, at which they came to the prudent con- 
clusion, " that the English having now the ascendancy over the Irish, 
it was advisable to give them hostages, and to make peace with them 
for the sake of their country." 

A.D. 1248. — Urged by the frightful state of oppression under which 
their country groaned, the young m-en of the ancient families of Con- 
naughnas rose in arms against the English, devastated their possessions, 
and left them no security outside the walls of their castles. Tm-lough, 
son of Hugh O'Conor, and Fitzpatrick, of Ossory, entered Connaught, 
and burned the town and castle of Gahvay, and the O'Flaherties, 
defeated an English plunderiiig party, wdio had penetrated into Con- 
nemara. The leader of the youthful v/arriors, who thus harassed the 
invaders in Connaught, was Hugh, son of Felim; and when Maurice 
FitzGerald arrived, in 1249, with two armies, to avenge the English 
settlers, Felim, dreading the storm which his son's rash heroism had 
brought about his ears, retu'ed, as usual, to the north with his moveable 
property ; and his nephev/ Turlough accepted, at the hands of the 
English, the office of ruler in his stead. Next year Felim came back 
with a numerous force, expelled Turlough, and was again returning 
northward, across the Curlieu mountains, sweeping oft' all the cattle 
of the land, when the English, thinking it better to make peace 
on any terms, sent after him to offer propositions, and restored him 
to his kingdom. 

Florence or Fineen MacCarthy, who had given the English very 
little rest in Desmond, was slain by them this year, and after long 
and sanguinary hostilities, peace was restored for a while in that 


quarter. In tlie north, Brian O'Neill, lord of Tyrone, made his sub- 
mission to the lord justice in 1252 ; yet, the very next year his territory 
was invaded by Maurice FitzGerald, with a great hosting of the English, 
who, however, were defeated with considerable slaughter. 

Felim O'Conor held a friendly conference in 1255, with MacWilliam 
Burke, as Walter, the son of Richard More, and chief of the De Burgo 
family, was styled ; and the following year Hugh, son of Felim, who 
appears to have participated in his father's authority at this time, met 
Alan de la Zouch, the justiciary, at Rinn Duin, and ratified a peace 
with him. The next year, Felim got a charter for his five cantreds. 
Thus, the English always contrived to keep some of the Irish princes on 
their hands, while they carried on an exterminating war against others, 
and at this moment their main object was to crush the independence of 
Tirconnell. A furious battle was fought in 1257, between Godfrey 
O'Donnell, lord of that territory, and a numerous English army, under 
the command of Maurice FitzGerald, who was once more lord justice. 
The armies engaged at Creadran-Kille, in a district to the north of 
Sligo, now called the Rosses. O'Donnell and FitzGerald met in single 
combat, and severely wounded each other; and after a fierce and pro- 
tracted struggle the English were defeated, the result being their ex- 
pulsion from Lower Connaught. Godfrey vras unable, from his wound, 
to follow up his success ; but he demolished the castle which the English, 
to overawe the Kinel-Connell, had erected at Gaol Uisge, now Belleek, 
on the Erne river. 

The deaths of the two chiefs who fought so bravely against each 
other, at this battle, followed soon after. Maurice FitzGerald retired 
into a Franciscan monastery which he had founded at Youghal, and, 
after putting on the habit of a monk, departed tranquilly in the bosom 
of religion ; the only stain which historians have observed in his cha- 
racter being the part, whatever that may have been, which he took in 
the ruin and death of Richard, earl Marshall. The death of Godfrey 
O'Donnell was not so peaceable. Hearing that O'Donnell was on his 
death bed, from the wound he received at Creadran-Kille, Brian O'Neill 
sent to require hostages from the Kinel-Connell, but the messengers 
who carried the insolent demand, fled the moment they delivered their 
errand, and the dying chieftain only answered it by ordering a general 
muster of his people. He then directed his men to place him on the 
bier which should take him to the grave, and to carry him on it at the 
head of his forces. Thus did the Tirconnellian army march to meet that 
of Tyrone. A sanguinary battle was fought on the banks of the rivo. 


Swilly, in Donegal, and victory declared for O'Donnell, whose Lier was 
then laid down in the open street of a village which, at that time, existed 
at the place now called Conwal, near Letterkenny, and there he expired. 
"What a pity that such heroism should have been perverted hy Irishmen 
to their mutual destruction, while the common enemy was driving them 
from the green fields of their forefathers ! On hearing of O'Donnell's 
death, O'Neill sent again to demand hostages, but while the men of 
Tirconnell were delibei'ating on an answer, a youth only eighteen years 
of age, the son of Donnell ]\Iore O'Donnell, having just arrived from 
Scotland, presented himself in the council and was elected chieftain. 
He is called Donnell Oge in the Irish annals. 

That O'Neill's pretensions were not without some foundation may be 
concluded from the fact, that the same year (1259) these transactions 
took place, Hugh, son of Felim, and Teige O'Brien, of Thomond, 
probably with other chieftains, met him at Gaol Uisge, and conferred on 
him the sovereignty of Ireland — an empty title, it is true, at that 

A.D. 1260. — 'The result of the conference of Irish chiefs at Caol 
Uisge, Avas that O'Neill and O'Conor turned whatever forces they could 
muster against the English, and that a battle, in which the Irish were 
defeated, was fought at Druim-dearg, near Downpatrick. Brian him- 
self was killed, together Avith fifteen of the O'Kanes, and many other 
chiefs, both of Ulster and Connaught. Cox says, the battle took place 
in the streets of Down, and that three hundred and fifty-two of the 
Irish were killed. The English were commanded in this encounter by 
the lord justice, Stephen Longespe. 

A.D. 12G1. — In the south the English were not so fortimate. The 
Geraldines were defeated in Thomond by Conor O'Brien, and suflTered 
fearful loss in another battle at Kilgarvan, near Kenmare, in which 
they were defeated by Mac Carthy ; their loss, according to English 
accounts, including Thomas FitzThomas Fitz Gerald and his son, eight 
barons, fifteen knights, and a countless number besides. William Denn, 
the justiciary, Walter de Burgo, earl of Ulster, and Donnell Roe, son 
of Cormac Finn Mac Carthy, with several other leading men, aided 
the Geraldines in this battle. Nearly all the English castles of Hy 
Conaill Gavra, and other parts of Desmond, were demolished by the 
Irish after this victory ; and Hanmer says, " the Geraldines durst not 
put a plough into the ground in Desmond." The next year (1262) 

* Some Munster historians deny that Tei^e O'Brien joined in conferring this distinction on 


another sanguinary struggle took place between tlie English under 
Mac William Burke and Mac Car thy at Manger ton, in Kerry, and both 
sides suffered severely. 

A.D. 1264. — Walter de Burgo (who Avas earl of Ulster by right of his 
wife, the daughter of Hugh de Lacy) and Fitz Gerald now waged war 
against each other, and a great part of Ireland was desolated in their 
hostilities. The lord justice took part against De Bm'go, and this 
circumstance drew from Felim O'Conor the expression of gratitude to 
Henry III. already alluded to.* De Burgo, however, succeeded in 
taking all Fitz Gerald's Connaught castles. To such a pitch did the 
feuds among the Anglo-Irish barons proceed at this time, that, in one 
of them, Maurice FitzMaurice Fitz Gerald, aided by others of his 
family, seized, at a conference, the persons of the lord justice and other 
noblemen, and confined them in castles until they were released by a 
parliament or council, held in Kilkenny for the purpose.! 

War and peace continued to alternate in rapid succession in Con- 
naught until 1265, when Felim O'Conor died, and was succeeded by 
his son, Hugh, who, in the following year, having recovered from an 
illness, diu'ing which Connaught was trodden underfoot by the English, 
mustered a large force, and with renewed energy carried on the war 
against Walter de Burgo. The lord justice, Sir James Audley, alarmed 
at the formidable rising of the Irish, at length came to the aid of 
De Burgo with an army, and some Irish auxiliaries also fought under 
his standard. De Burgo thought to patch up a peace in the usual way, 
until a better opportunity to strike would offer ; but Hugh was a match 
for him in the treacherous diplomacy of the time. When the two 
armies were in the vicinity of a ford near the modern Carrick-on-Shan- 
non, De Burgo proposed negociations ; but Hugh contrived to get the 
earl's brother, William Oge, into his hands before the parley commenced, 
and then treated him as a prisoner, and slew some of the English. The 

* See note, page 258. 

f For a most interesting illustration of the state of society at this turbulent period, we may refer 
the reader to the Anglo-Norman ballad of the " Entrenchment of New Ross," pubiished in Crofton 
Croker's "Popular Songs of Ireland," from Harleian MSS., 913, in the British Museum, with a trans- 
lation by the gifted Mrs. Miclean (L.E L.), and ieitroductory observations by Sir Frederick Madden 
and Mr. Croker himself. The ballad describes how the burgesses of New Ross resolved, in the 
year 1265, to fortify their town with a wall and foss, to protect it against the hostile inroads of the 
contending barons ; how a widow, named Rose, first suggested the plan, and offered large contri- 
butiiins to carry it out ; how the burgesses subscribed liberally for the purpose, and, finding that 
the work proceeded too slowly, labored at it witli their own hands; the different professions and 
ffuilds working in companies with banners flying and music playing ; and how the ladies worked 
on Sundays, carrying stones while the men reposed. New Ross, which was called by the Irish, 
Ros-inic-Triuin, apjiears to have been at that time a co isiderable town. 


earl flew into a rage, and an obstinate battle ensued. Turloue;h O'Brien 
who was coming to the aid of the Connacians, was met before he could 
form a junction with them, and slain in single combat by De Burgo ; 
but Hugh's people avenged his death by a fearful onslaught, in which 
great numbers of the English were slain, and immense spoils taken from 
them. AVilliam Oge, the earl's brother, was put to death after tlie 
battle, which was, on the whole, a disastrous one to the English.* 
Walter Burke died the following year in the castle of Galway, and 
Hugh O'Connor survived him three years. 

This long reign was at length brought to a close by the death of 
Henry III., in 1272. During its troubled course, the feuds of the 
native Ii'ish among themselves had done more to establish the Epglish 
power in this country than all that could be effected merely by English 
arms. Above all, the insane and deadly contention of the O'Conors was 
most fatal to Ireland. Connaught was for the first time overrun 
by the new settlers ; the first submission was obtamed from the princes 
of Tyrone ; and in the south the Geraldines had begun to assume the 
title — as yet an unsubstantial one — of lords of Desmond. Henry 
changed his viceroys frequently, but ^nth little advantage to his Irish 
colony. With some difficulty he established a free commerce between 
the colony and England ; but his efforts to introduce the English laws 
into Ireland were sternly resisted by his own refractory barons. In 
1254 he made a grant of Ireland to his son Edward, with the express 

• The following account of this transaction is given in Connel Masjeoghegan's translation of the 
Annals of Clonmacnoise: — After relating how the Earl of Ulster (Walter Burke), with the lord 
deputy, and all the English forces of Ireland, marched against O'Conor, and describing the position 
ot the armies near Ath-Cora-Connell, a ford on the Shannon, near Carrick-on-Shannon Cthe name 
being now obsolete), the annalist proceeds: — "The Englishmen advised the flarle to make peace 
with Hugh O'Connor, and to yeald his brother, William Oge mac William More mac William the 
Conqueror, in hostage to O'Connor, dureing the time he shou'd remain in the Earles's house con- 
cluding the saifl peace, which was accordingly condescended and done. As soone as William came 
to O'Connor's house he was taken, and also John Dolphin and his son were killed. When tyding 
came to the ears of the Earle how his brother was thus taken, be took his journey to Athenkip (riie 
name, now obsolete, of a ford on the Shannon, near CaiTick-on-Shannon), where O'Connor beheaved 
himst'lf as a fierce and froward lyon aliout his prey, v;ithout sleeping or taking any rest; and the 
next day, soon in the morning, gott upp and betook him to his arms: the Englishmen, the same 
morning, came to the same foorde, called Athenkip, where they were overtaken by Ttrlogh O'Bryen. 
The Earle returned upon him and killed the said Terlogh, without the help of any other in that 
pressence. The Connoughtmen pursued the Englishmen, and made th '.r hindermost part runn and 
break upon their outguard and foremost in such manner and foul discomfiture, that in that instant 
nine of their chiefest men were killed upon the bogge about Richard ne Koylle (Hichard of the 
Wood) and John Butler, who were killed over and above the said knights. It is unknown liow 
many were slain in that conflict, save only that a hundred horses with their saddles and furniture, 
and a hundred shirts of mail were left. After these things were thus done, O Connor killed William 
Oge, the Earle's brother, that was given him before in ho.stage, because the Earle killed Terlogh 
O'Bryen." — See Four Mattart, voL iii., pp. 408, &c., note. 


condition, that it was not to be separated from tlie crown of England ; 
and, lest the grant might lead to any such result, he took care to assert 
his own paramount authority by superseding some of the acts done 
by his son in \'irtue of his title of lord of Ireland. It is generally 
understood that Prince Edward visited Ireland in 1255.* 

* A great many religious houses were founded in Ireland during the reign of Henry III. Among 
them were, a priory of canons regular at Tuam, by the De Burgos, about 1220 ; one at ISIullingar, 
in 1227, by Ralph le Petit, bishop of Meath; one at Aughrim, in the county of Gahvay, by 
Theobald Butler ; also the priories of Ballybeg, in Cork ; Athassal and Nenagh, in Tipperary ; 
Enniscorthy, St. Wolstan's, Carrick-on-Suir, and St. John's, in the city of Kilkenny ; the Cistercian 
Abbey of Tracton, in Cork, by Maurice MacCarthy, in 1224; the Dominican convent of Drogheda, 
by Luke Netterville, archbishop of Armagh, in 1224; the Black Abbey (Dominican) in Kilkenny, 
by Wm. Marshall, jun., in 1225 : the Dominican convent of St. Saviour, Waterford, by the 
citizens, in 1226 ; the Dominican convent of St. Mary, in Cork, by Philip Barry, in 1229 ; the 
convents of the same order in MuUingar (a. d. 1237), by the family of Nugent: Athenry, (1241) 
by Meyler de Birmingham : Cashel (1243), by MacKelly, archbishop of Cashel; Tralee (1243), 
by Lord John FitzThomas; Coleraine (1244), by the MacEvelins; Sligo (1252), b}' Maurice 
FitzGerald; St. Mary, Roscommon (1253), by Felim O'Conor; Athy (1257), by the families of 
Boi9eles and Hogans; St. Mary, Trim (1263), by Geoffrey de Geneville ; Arklow (1264), by 
Theobald FitzWalter ; Eosbercan, in Kilkenny (12G8); Youghal (1268), by the baron of Offaly 
and Lorrah, in Tipperaiy, (1269), by Walter Burke, earl of Ulster; the Franciscan convents of 
Youghal (1231), by Maurice FitzGerald; Carrickfergus (1232), by Hugh de Lacy; Kilkennj'- 
(1234), by Richard Marshall; St. Francis, in Dublin (1236); Multifarnham, in Westmeath 
(1236), by William Delamer; Cork (1240), by Philip Prendergast; Drogheda (1240), by the 
Flunkets; Waterford (1240), by Sir Hugh Parcel; Ennis (1240), by Donough Carbreach O'Brien; 
Athlone (1241), by Cathal O'Conor; Wexford about the middle of the thirteenth century ; Lime- 
rick, by Walter de Burgh ; Cashel, by William Hackett ; Dundalk, by De Vei don ; Ardfert 
(1253), by Thomas, lord of Kerry ; Kildare (1260), 'oy De Vescy; Clane (1260), by Gerald 
FitzMaurice; Armagh (1263), by Scanlan, archbishop of Armagh; Clonmel (12G9), by Otho 
de Granison; Nenagh, by the Butlers; Wicklow, by the O'Byrnes and O'Tooles, and Trim, by the 
fr.mily of Plunket. The Augustinian convent of the Holy Trinity, in Crov,--street, Dublin, was 
fouuded by the Talbot family la 1259, and that of Tipperary, also in the course of this reiga. 



State of Ireland on the Accession of Edward I. — Peuds of the Barons. — Exploits 
of Hugh 0' Conor. — Fearful Confusion in Connaught. — Incursion from Scot- 
land, and Retaliation. — Irish Victory of Glendelory. — Horrible Treacher}^ of 
Thomas De Clare in Thomond. — Contentions of the Clann Murtough in Con- 
naught. — English Policy in the Irish Eeuds. — Petition for English Laws. — 
Characteristic Incidents. — Yictories of Carbry O'Melughlin over the English. — 
Feuds of the De Burghs and Geraldines. — The Red Earl. — His great Power. — 
English Laws for Ireland. — Death of O'Melaghlin, — Disputes of De Vescy 
and FitzGerald of OiFaly. — Singular Pleadings before the King. — A Truce 
between the Geraldines and De Burghs. — The Kilkenny Parliament of 1295. 
— Continued Tumults in Connaught. — Expeditions against Scotland. — Calvagh 
0' Conor. — Horrible Massacre of Irish Chieftains at an English Dinner- 
table. — More Murders. — Rising of the O'Kellys. — Foundation of Rcligioxis 


Popes : Gregory X. died 1276 ; Innocent V. and Adrian V. the same year; John XXI., 1277; 
Nicholas III., 1281; Martin IV.. 1285; Honorius IV., 1287; Nicholas IV., 1-292; Celes- 
line v., 129^ ; Boniface VIII., 1303 ; and Benedict XL, 1304.— King of France, Philip IV. ; 

Emperor of Germany, Rodolph of Hapshui^ (first of the Austrian Family), died 1291 Kings 

of Scotland, John Baliol and Robert Bruce — Llewellj'n killed, and Wales .subjected to the 
Power of England, 1282. — St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure died, 1274. — Albertua 
Magnus died, 1282. — Roger Bacon died, 1284. — Uninterrupted Series of Parliaments Com- 
menced in England, 1203. — 'William Wallace, the Scottish hero, executed, 1304. 


''a.d. 1272 TO A.D. 1307.) 

DWARD I., surnamed Longshanks, was proclaimed king 
on the death of his father, Henrj III., in 1272, while 
on a crusade in the Holy Land, and until his return to 
England, in July, 1274, the government was administered 
by lords justices. The new king's absence gave free 
scope to strife in Ireland; but in general the movements 
in this country depended but little on the course of events 
in England. Just a century had elapsed from the coming 
of the Anglo-Normans into Ireland, and their poAver was 
scarcely acknowledged beyond the limits which it Jiad 
reached in the days of Strongbow. The resistance to it 
was, on the contrary, becoming more formidable; and 
the English suffered numerous defeats on a small scale, 


which showed how easily a combined action of the Irish might have 
overthrown their settlement, had these seriously contemplated any- 
thing more than the temporary liberation of their respective territories 
from the foreign yoke, or the gratification of enmity by some local 
act of spoliation. The domestic feuds of the Irish were as rife as 
ever, but the English barons were equally prone to strife; and the 
oppression and rapacity of the latter did more than the turbulence of 
the former, to produce the miserable disorders by which the whole 
country was laid waste. No attempt was made to reconcile the native 
race to the new order of things, or to consolidate the two races into 
one nation. To supplant or exterminate the old Celtic population had 
been all along the policy of the invaders; and to effect this object, 
means, more diabolical than human, were resorted to: feuds were 
fomented; under the pretence of crushing rebellion, incessant hostilities 
were kept up; and by every kind of provocation and injustice, national 
rancour was perpetuated. Three or four times the English monarch 
urged the expediency of extending the laws and constitution of Eng- 
land to the Irish; but this attempt was always sternly resisted by the 
Anglo-Irish oligarchy who ruled the country. The barons found their 
account in their own lawless and inhuman system of war and rapine. 

Hugh OConor was at this time the most formidable champion of the 
Irish cause; and in 1272, he renewed hostilities by demolishing the 
Eno;lish castle of Roscommon. He then crossed the Shannon into 
Meath, where he carried desolation as far as Granard, and on his return 
burned Athlone, and broke down its bridge. Two years after, this 
prince, who was son of Felim, son of Cathal Crovderg, died, and another 
Hugh O'Conor, grandson of Hugh, the brother of Felim, Avas elected 
king. His reign was short, for in three months he was slain by a kins- 
man in the Dominican church of Roscommon, and another Hugh, son 
of Cathal Dall, or the blind, son of Hugh, son of Cathal Crovderg, was 
chosen his successor. A fortnight after this prince was slain by Tomal- 
tagh Mageraghty and O'Beirne ; and Teige, son of Turlough, son of 
Hugh, son of Cathal Crovderg, was elected king. Such was the state 
of anarchy in which the royal succession was at that time involved in 
Connaught; and it became still more complicated in 1276, when Hugh 
Muineagh, or the Munsterman, an illegitimate and posthumous son of 
Felim, son of Cathal Crovderg, arrived from Munster, and, by the aid 
of O'Donnell, assumed the government of Connaught. In the midst of 
incessant contentions he retained his power until 1280, when he was 
slain by another branch of the O'Conor family. 


Sir James Audley, tne lord justice, was, accordin<;- to Irish accounts, 
slain by the Connacians, in 1272, although the English say he was 
killed by a fall f^-om his horse in Thomond. The same year his successor, 
Maurice FitzMaurice FitzGerald, was betrayed by his followers, and 
seized in Offaly by the Irish, in whose hands he remained for some time. 
Lord Walter Geneville, recently returned from the Holy Land, succeeded 
to the office, and during his administration there was an incursion of 
the " Scots and Redshanks" from the highlands of Scotland ; Richard 
De Burgo, with Sir Eustace le Poer, retaliating with an Anglo-Irish 
army, when he carried fire and sword into the Scottish islands and 
highlands, and smoked out or suffocated those wdio had souglit refuge 
in rocks and caverns. 

A.D. 1275. — Our annals mention a victory gained this year over 
the English in Ulidia, " when 200 horses and 200 heads were counted 
(on the field), besides all who fell of their plebeians ;" but this is 
believed to be identical with a slaughter of the Enghsh at Glandelory, 
now Glanmalure, in Wicklow, which is recorded by Anglo-Irish chroni- 
clers about this time. The same year the Kinel-Connell and the Kinel- 
Owen wasted each other's territories by mutual depredations. 

A.D. 1277. — One of the blackest episodes of even that dark age of Irish 
history was enacted about this time in Thomond. Thomas, son of 
Gilbert de Clare,* and son-in-law of Maurice FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 
obtained from Edward I. a grant of Thomond, or of some considerable 
portion of it ; the deed by which it was secured, by a former English 
king, to its rightful owners the O'Briens being wholly overlooked on 
the occasion. De Clare had little chance of asserting his unjust claim 
against the heroic princes of the Dalgais in the open field, and he had 
recourse to the favorite English policy of that time. He entered into 
an intimate alliance with Brian Roe O'Brien against Tui'lough, son of 
Teige Caoluisge O'Brien, another competitor for the crown of Tho- 
mond ; and the latter having been defeated in battle, ho turned 
suddenly to the side of Turlough, aud getting Brian Roe treacherously 
into his hands, put him to death in a most inhuman manner, causing 
him, it is said, to be dragged between horses until he died. This 
atrocity, it is added, was perpetrated at the instance of De Clare's wife 
and father-in-law.f He then dispossessed the old inhabitants of that 

* Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, was one of the lords justices to whom the government of 
England was intrusted, on the accession of Edward 1., then absent on the Crusades. 

t The Irish annalisU say that De Qlare bound himself to Brien Roe O'Brien, liy ties of gossipred 
and vows of friendship, ratified by the ceremony of mingling their blood together in a vessel. In 


part of Thomond east of the Fergus called Tradry, giving the land to 
Jiis own followers, and erected the strong castles of Bunrattj and 
Clare. His power was, however, short-lived. The sons of Brien Roe 
gained a victory over him the following year at Quinn, wliere seA^eral of 
his people were burned to death in an old Irish church, which was set 
on fire over their heads. At another time De Clare and FitzGerald 
were so hard pressed in a pass of Slieve Bloom, as to be compelled to 
surrender at discretion, after being obliged to subsist for some days on 
horse-flesh The captives were subsequently liberated on undertaking to 
Tiake satisfaction for O'Brien's death and to surrender the castle of Ros- 
common. The unprincipled earl next (1281) set up Donough, son of 
the murdered Brian Roe. against Turlough ; but two years after his 
protege was slain by Turlough, who continued in possession of Thomond 
until his death in 1306.* De Clare himself was slain by the O'Briens 
in 1286. 

A.D. 1280. — We are again recalled to the dissensions in Connaught, 
where Hugh Muineach, son of Felim, was slain in the wood of Dangan, 
by the sept of Murtough Muineach O'Conor, one of whom, Cathal, son 
of Conor Roe, son of Murtough Muineach,t was inaugurated king. 
This sept, henceforth called in the annals the Clann Murtough or 
Muircheartaigh, was excessively contentious, and kept the province in 
turmoil for many years after.:): 

About this time a petition was presented to the English king, from 
what he calls " the community of Ireland " — most probably from the 
native Irish dwelling in the vicinity of the English settlements — praying 
that the privileges of the laws of England might be extended to them. 
Edward, who wished to see that object effected, issued a w^rit to the lord 
justice, UfFord, directing him to summon the lords spiritual and temporal 
of the " Land of Ireland" — as the English territory in this country was 
then called — to deliberate on the prayer of the petition. He insultingly 

the remonstrance sent by tlio Irish chieftains to Fope John XXII., this munler was referred to as 
a striking instance of English treachery. 

* These transactions are related in full in the Annals of Innisf alien itom the work called Caiihreim 
Thoirdhealbhaigh, or the Wars of Turlough O'Brien. 

t Murtough ]\Iuineach, (Muircheartach Muirahneach) was son of Turlough More O'Conor, and 
brother of lioderic. 

I Apropos of the feuds which existed this year in Connaught, between the O'Conors and Mac 
Dermots, an incident is related by Hannier and Ware, highly characteristic of the spirit of 
English rule in those days. Edward sunimoiied the lord justice, IJflbrd, to account for his permit- 
ting such " shameful enormities," and the latter pleaded, through ludburn, bishop of Waterford^ 
whom he had deputed in his stead, "that, in policie, he thought it expedient to winke at one 
knave cutting oft' another, and that would save the king's coffers and purchase peace to the land ; 
whereat ike /dng smiled and bid him return to Ireland!" 


describes the Irish or Brehon laws as " hateful to God, and repuo-nant 
to all justice ;" and, informing the lord justice that the petitioners had 
offered 8,000 marks for the concession which they demanded, uro-es him 
to obtain the best terms he can from them ; stipulating in particular that 
they should hold a certain number of soldiers in readiness to attend him 
in his wars. The writ does not appear to have been attended to, and no 
fm-ther step seems to have been taken in the matter. The Irish continued 
to feel the English law^ only as an instrument of oppression, and were 
excluded wdioUy from its privileges — a mode of treatment, as it has 
been justly remarked, wholly different from that adopted by the Romans 
in their conquered provinces. 

Among the detached occurrences which indicate the character of 
the times, we find that in 1281 a bloody battle was fought between the 
Barretts and the Cusacks, at Moyne, near the old church of Kilroe, in 
the barony of Tirawly in Mayo. William Barrett and Adam Fleming 
were slain, and O'Boyle and O'Dowda, two Ii*ish chieftains, who helped 
Adam Cusack to gain the victory, are described as having " excelled all 
the rest that day in deeds of prowess ;" yet the very next year O'Dowda 
was killed by Adam Cusack. This year is also remarkable for a battle 
fought at Desertcreaght, in Tyrone, between the Kinel-Connell and the 
Kinel-Owen, in wdiich the former were defeated, and their chieftain, 
Donnell Oge O'Donnell, slain ; Hugh, his son, being afterwards inaug- 
urated in his stead. The English of Ulster took part with the men of 
TjTone. Murrough MacMurrough, whom the annalists style " king of 
Leinster," and his brother Art, were taken by the English, and put to 
death at Arklow, in 1282 ; Hugh Boy O'jSTeill, lord of Kinel-Owen, was 
slain by Brian MacMahon and the men of Oriel, in 1283; ArtO'Melagh- 
lin, the native prince of Meath, who had demolished twenty-seven 
castles in his wars, died penitently that year ; and in the same year a 
gi'eat part of Dublin, and the tower and other parts of Christ Church, 
were burned, the citizens shewing their piety by restoring the sacred 
edifice before they set about rebuilding their own houses after the fire. 

A.D. 1285. — Theobald Butler, with some Irish auxiliaries, invaded 
Delvin MacCoghlan, and was defeated nt Lumcloon by Carbry 
O'Melaghlin; Sir William de la Rochelle and other English knights 
bpincf among the slain. Butler died soon after at Beerehaven. A largo 
army was then mustered by lord Geoffi-y Geneville, Theobald Verdon, 
and others, and they marched into Offaly, where the Irish had just 
seized the castle of Ley. The people of Offaly solicited the aid of 
Cjybry O'jMelaghlin, and he, with his gallant followers, responded to 

270 EEIGlSr OF KDW/.r.D I. 

their call. The Irish army poured down impetuously upon the English, 
who were overthrown with great slaughter, and according to the English 
accounts, " Theobald de Verdon lost both his men and horses;" Gerald 
FitzMaurice also falling into the hands of the Irish the day after the 
battle, owing it is said, to the treachery of his followers* The Anglo- 
Irish accounts also mention another defeat of the English about the 
same year, but they add that these losses w-ere followed by some com- 
pensating successes the next year. 

A.D. 1286. — The country had been for a long period convulsed by the 
feuds of the two great Anglo-Norman families, the Geraldines and De 
Burgos ; but the death of Maurice FitzMaurice FitzGerald and of his 
son-in-law, lord Thomas de Clare, which took place this year, turned the 
scale decidedly in favor of the De Burgos. Richard de Burgo, earl 
of Ulster, commonly known as the red earl, whose power was so 
generally recognized, that even in official documents his name took pre- 
cedence of that of the lord deputy himself, now led his armies through 
the country almost without meeting any resistance.! In Connaught he 
plundered several churches and monasteries, and compelled the Conna- 
cians to accom.pany him to the north, where he took hostages from the 
Kinel-Connell and Kinel-Owen, deposing Donnell O'Neill, lord of the 
latter, and substituting Niall Culanagh O'Neill in his stead. He laid 
claim to the portion of Meath which Theobald de Verdon held in right 
of his mother, the daughter of Walter de Lacy, and besieged that 
nobleman (ad. 1288) in the castle of Athlone, but with w^hat result we 
are not informed. In Connaught Cathal O'Conor was deposed by his 
brother Manus, and the red earl marched against the latter, who had 
the Geraldines on his side, but the contest was not brought to the issue 
of a battle. 

A. D. 1289. — Carbry O'Melaghlin, who Is styled, in the Anglo-Irish 
chronicles, "king of the Irishry of Meath," gave great trouble to the 
English authorities at this period ; and overrun, as his territory w^as, by 
the foreign race, retained, nevertheless, a considerable amount of power. 

* This incident, it will be observed, is mentioned almost in the same terms as a similar one in 

t The red earl, who fills so (irominent a place in our history at this period, was son of Walter de 
Birgo, first earl of Ulster of that faniih*, son of Richard, who was called the great lord of Con- 
naught, and was the son of William FitzAdelm de Burgo by Lsabelle, natural daughter of Richard 
Coeur-de-lion, and widow of Llewellyn, prince of Wales. Walter had become earl of Ulster in 
riglit of his wife, Maud, daughter of the younger Hugh de Lacy. The red earl's gramison, 
William, who was murdered in 133.3, was the third and last of tJie De Burgo earls of Ulster. 
The Burkes of Connaught descend from William) the younger brother of Walter, the first earl of 
Ulster. # 


An army, composed of the Eii£!;lish of Meath, under Richard Tuite, 
called the great baron, with Manus O'Conor, king of Connaught, as an 
auxiliary, marched this year against him, and Avas defeated in battle ; 
Tuite, with several of his adherents, being slain. The following year, how- 
ever O'Melaghlin — "the most noble-deeded youth in Ireland in his time" — 
was slain, by his gossip, David MacCoghlan, prince of Delvin ; David 
himself dealing the first blow, which was followed up by wounds from 
seventeen other members of the iSIacCoghlan family. The lord of Del- 
vin now in his turn became troublesome, and defeated William Burke, 
who had marched against him; but in 1292 he was taken prisoner bj 
MacFeorais,* or Bermingham, and put to death by order of the red earl. 
A.D. 1290-1293. — Sir William de Vescy, a Yorkshire man, and a 
great favorite of king Edward, having been sent over as lord justice, 
a quarrel appears to have immediately sprung up between him and John 
FitzThomas FitzGerald, baron of Offaly. To such a height did their 
mutual animosity rise, that de Vescy charged the baron with being "a 
supporter of thieves, a bolsterer of the king's enemies, an upholder of 
traitors, a murderer of subjects, a firebrand of dissension, a rank thief, 
an arrant traytor," adding "before I eat these words, I will make thee 
eat a piece of my blade." FitzThomas retorted in an equally courteous 
strain; and both parties having appeared before the king with their 
complaints, maintained their respective causes in the royal presence with 
tirades worthy of Billingsgate ; if we may credit the annalist Holinshed, 
who pretends to record the proceedings with accuracy. FitzThomas 
concluded his speech with a defiance, saying — "wherefore, to justify 
that I am a true subject, and that thou, Vescy, art an arch traytor to God 
and my king, I here, in the presence of his highness, and in the hearing 
of this honorable assembly, challenge the combat." The council shouted 
applause ; the appeal to single combat was admitted ; but when the day, 
named by the king, had arrived, it was found that De Vescy had fled to 
France. Edward then bestowed on the baron of Offaly the lordships of 
Kildare and Rathangan, which had been held by his antagonist, observing, 
that "although De Vescy had conveyed his person to Franco, he had 
left his lands behind him in Ireland."! 

• This name, now pronounced MacKeorisli, was the Irish surname assumed by the Rermingharas 
from Pierce, or I'iarus. son of Meyler Bermingham, their ancestor. 

t The above mentioned Joiin FitzThomas FitzGerald, baron of Offaly, was the common ancestor 
of the two great branches of the Geraldines ; one of his two sons, John, the eighth lord of Offaly 
being created earl of Kildare, and the other, Maurice, earl of Desmond.— See Archdall's Lodye-a 
Mfh I'itrnge, vol. i., C3 ; also O'Daly's Geraldmes, by the Rev. Mr. Median. The land.s delivered 
to FitzThomas on this occasion appear to have been the principal subject of dispute between Uira 
and De Vescy, who claimed tbem in right of hia wife, an heiress of the Marshall family. 


A.D. 1294. — For some years Riclmrd, the red earl, had been riding 
rougli-shod over the necks of the people, both within the English tem- 
tory and outside. He created and deposed the princes of Ulster, plun- 
dered Connaught more than once, and was mixed up in various feuds 
through the country ; but the great accession of power which the chief 
of the Geraldines had acquired, by his triumph over De Vescy, placeci 
an old rival, once more, in a position to cope with him. FitzThomas 
seized the earl and his brother, William de Burgo, in Meath, and con- 
fined them in the castle of Ley, an event which threw the whole country 
into commotion ; and immediately after, along with MacFeorais, he made 
an inroad into Connaught, and devastated the country. The following 
year De Burgo was liberated by the king's order, or, as Grace says, by 
that of the king's parliament, at Kilkenny; the lord of OfFaly, as the 
same annalist tells us, forfeiting his castles of Sligo and Kildai'e, and his 
possessions in Connaught, as a penalty for his aggression. 

A.D. 1295. — Sir John Wogan was appointed lord justice, and having, 
by his wise and conciliatory policy, brought about a truce for two years 
between the Geraldines and De Burgos, he summoned a parliament which 
met this year at Kilkenny. The roll of this parliament contains only 
twenty-seven names, Richard, earl of Ulster, being first on the list ; and 
among the acts passed was one revising king John's division of the 
country into counties ; another provided for a more strict guarding of 
the marches or boundaries against the Irish ; by a third a tax was levied 
on absentees, to support a military force to defend the colony ; and a 
fourth enacted that private or separate truces should not be made with 
the Irish, or war waged by the barons without the licence of the lord 
justice, or the mandate of the king. Other laws restricted the number 
of retainers whom the barons should keep, and enacted other regulations.* 

All this time Connaught and Ulster continued to be desolated by 
fearful discord among the Irish themselves ; but the narrative would be 
too monotonous were we to mention each melancholy feud as it is re- 
corded in the faithful pages of our annalists. The whole country was 
laid waste ; neither the property of church nor layman was spared ; and 
dearth and pestilence stalked through the land. The feuds of the 
De Burgos and the Geraldines were once more arranged, in 1298, and 
among the Anglo-Irish peace for a while prevailed. 

* A statute framed in Eiij,'land, and entitled, "an Ordinance for the State of Ireland," was sent 
over, in 1289, to be acted up^n as law in tliis country; and shortly after (in 1293) it was enacted 
that the treasurer of Ireland should account annually to the exchequer of England— proceedini(S 
which show that on one side, at least, the opinion was then held that Ireland nii-ht be bound by 
laws niiide in England. 


A.D. 1303. — King Edward's expeditions against Scotland were attended 
by many of the native Irish, as well as by the principal barons of the 
Pale, with their troops. The earl of Ulster and John FitzTliomas 
FitzGerald accompanied the lord justice "Wogan on the expedition of 
1296. It is said that king Edwards army, in 1299, was composed 
chiefly of Irish and Welsh. They all came in their best array, and 
were royally feasted at Roxburgh castle. The Irish also mustered very 
strong on the expedition of 1303, when the subjugation of Scotland 
was temporarily effected. Before leaving Ireland on this occasion, the 
red earl created thirty-three knights in Dublin castle. On his departure 
for the Scottish wars, lord justice Wogan left as his deputy William de Ross, 
prior of Kilmainham; but the absence of so many of the leading men in- 
variably gave occasion to insurrectionary movements ; and Leland remarks 
that at this time " the utmost efforts of the chief governor and of the well- 
affected lords were scarcely sufficient to defend the pro-\-ince of Leinster." 

A.D. 1305. — The warlike sept of O'Conor Faly, princes of Offaly, had 
for some time shown themselves to be amone the most dangerous of the 
" Irish enemies," and the heroic, but hopeless struggle, which they con- 
tinued to sustain for more than two hundred years after, in their 
ancestral woods and fastnesses, against the foreign enemy, had begun to 
occupy a prominent place in the records of the time. iMaurice O'Conor 
Faly, and his brother Calvagh, were now the chiefs of the sept, and the 
latter in particular was called " the Great Rebel." At one time he de- 
feated the English in a battle in which Meyler de Exeter and several 
others were slain ; at another he took the castle of Kildare, and burned 
all the records and accounts relating to the county. In order to get rid 
of so dangerous a foe, a deed of the blackest treachery was resorted 
to. The chiefs of Offaly were invited to dinner on Trinity Sunday this 
year, in the castle of Peter, or Pierce Bermingham, at Carrick-Carbury, 
in Kildare; the feast proceeded, but at its conclusion, as the guests were 
rising from the table, every man of them was basely murdered. In this 
way fell Maurice O'Conor, his brother Calvagh, and in all about thirty 
chiefs of his clan. Grace says the massacre was perpetrated by Jordan 
Cumin and his comrades at the court of Peter Bermingham. This 
Peter was ever after nicknamed the " treacherous baron." He was 
arraigned before king Edward; but no justice was ever obtamed for 
this most nefarious and treacherous murder.* 

* In the Harleian MS. which contains the cotemporary Anglo-Irish song, on the walling; of New 
Ross, already referred to, there is pre^-erved an old ballad celebrating ihe praises <if the above 
named Pierce Bermingham, as a famous " hunt«r of the Irish ;^" he wai killed in 1308, in batila 
with the Irish. 


2 74 


The Anglo-Irish chronicles record several other deeds of blood about 
the conclusion of this reign, such as the murder of Sir Gilbert Sutton, 
in the house of Hamon le Gras, or Grace, at Wexford ; the murder of 
O'Brien, of Thomond; the slaying of Donnell, king of Desmond, by his 
son ; the slaughter of the O'Conors, of OfFaly, by the O'Dempseys, near 
Geashill ; the defeat of Pierce Bermingham in Meath, and the burning 
of the town of Ballymore by the Irish ; the narrow escape of the English 
from defeat in a well-contested battle at Glenfell ; and the execution of 
dn English knight, Sir David Canton, or Condon, for the murder of an 
Irishman, named Murtough Balloch. The O'Kellys, of Hy-Many, rose 
and took vengeance on Edmund Butler, for the burning of theii* town of 
Ahascragh, in the east of the present county of Galway, the English 
being defeated on this occasion with considerable slauofhter. 

The coin struck in England in the seventh year of the reign of 
Edward I. was made current in Ireland ; and in a few years after, the 
base money called crockards and pollards was condemned by proclama- 

The events in our church history during this reign are not very im- 
portant. The Four Masters and the Annals of Ulster mention the 
discovery of the relics of SS. Patrick, Bridget, and Columbkille, at 
Sabhall, or Saul, in Down, by Nicholas MacMaelisa, archbishop of 
Armagh, in 1293 ; whence it is clear that our native annalists either had 
not heard of, or did not believe, the statement which has already been 
noticed on the authority of Cambrensis, of the discovery of these relics 
in the cathedral of Down, in the year 1185.* 

* Amongst the religious houses founded in Ireland, in the course of the first Edward's reign, 
■were the Dominican convent of Kilmallock, founded by Gilbert, son of John FitzThomas, lord of 
OfFaly, in 1291; that of Derry, by Donnell Oge O'Donnell, in 1274; and that of Kathbran, in 
Mayo, the same year, by Sir William de Burgo ; the Franciscan convent of Clare-Galway, by 
John de Cogan, in 1290; that of Buttevant, the same j-ear, by David Oge Barrj' ; that of 
Galway, by Sir William de Burgo, in 1296 ; and those of Galbally, in Limerick, by the O'Briens; 
Killeigh, in the King's county, by the O'Conors Faly ; and Ross, in Wexford, by Sir John 
Devereux; the Augustinian convents of the Eed Abbey in Cork; Limerick (by the O'Briens); 
Drogheda; Cionmines, in Wexford (by the Kavanaghs); and Dungarvan, by FitzThomas, of 
Offaly; and finally the Carmelite convents of Dublin (Whitefriar-strcet), by Sir Richard Bagot; 
Ardee, by Ralph Peppard ; Drogheda, by the inhabitants of the town ; Galway, by the De Burgos ; 
Rathmullin, in Donegal; Castle Lyons, in Cork, by the Barrys ; Kildare, by DeVescy, in 1290; 
%ad Thurles, by the Butler family, about the close of the thirteenth century. 



Piers Gaveston in Ireland. — Fresh "Wars in Conuaught — the Clann Miirtongh. — 
Civil Broils in Thomond. — Feud of De Clare and De Burgo. — Growth of !N'a- 
tional Feelings. — Invitation to King Robert Bruce.— Memorial of the Iristi 
Princes to Pope John XXII. — The Pope's Letter to the English King. — The 
Scottish Expedition to Ireland. — Landing of Edward Bruce. — First Exploits 
of the Scottish Army. — Proceedings of Felim and Eory O'Connor. — Disastrous 
War in Connaught. — The Battle of Athenry. — Siege of Carrickfergus. — Gene- 
ral Eising of the Irish. — Campaign of 1317. — Arrival of Eobert Bruce. — 
An-est of the Earl of Ulster. — Consternation in Dublin. — The Scots at Castle- 
knock. — Their March to the South. — Their Eetreat from Limerick. — Efi'ects 
of the Famine. —Eetreat of the Scots to Ulster. — Eobert Bruce Eeturns to 
Scotland. — Liberation of the Earl of Ulster.— Battle of Faughard, and Death 
of Edward Bruce. — I'I'ational Prejudices. 


Pope John XXII.— Kings of France: Loui3 X., Philip V., and Charles lY.— King of Scotland, 
Eobert Bruce.— Suppression of the Knights Templars, 1312.— William Tell flourished, and 
Switzerland became Independent, 1315.— Dante Died, 1321. 

A.D. 1S07— 1327. 

'NDIGNANT at the honors conferred by Edward II. on his 
favorite, Piers Gaveston, who was recalled from banish- 
ment by that weak-minded prince on his accession to the 
throne, the barons loudly expressed their anger and 
disgust; and parliament demanded, in a peremptory tone, 
the expulsion of the royal minion. Edward made a show 
of compliance, but it was soon discovered that the place 
he had selected for his favorite's exile was Ireland, where, 
in 1308, he invested him with the dignity of lord lieutenant, 
accompanying him on his jom-ney as far as Bristol. Not- 
M^ithstanding his vices, Gaveston possessed some of the 
qualities of a good soldier. In the lists he had shown 
himself a match for any knight in England, and in his 
Irish office he displayed no small amount of energy. He led an army 


against the O'Dempseys of Clanmalier, in Leinster, and killed their 
chief, Dermot, at Tullow. He next defeated the O'Byrnes of Wicklow, 
and opened a road between Castle Kevin and Glendalough, in that ter- 
ritory. He also rebuilt some castles which the Irish had demolished ; 
but his career in this country was brief. Twelve months after his 
arrival he was recalled to England by his royal master, and three years 
later was taken prisoner by the barons, at Scarborough Castle, and with 
their sanction beheaded by the earl of Warwick.* 

A.D. 1309. — Connaught still continued to be torn by discord. Hugh, 
son of Owen, of the race of Cathal Crovderg, was slain this year by 
Huo-h O'Conor, surnamed Breifneach, one of the restless and ambitious 
Clann Murtough, and a fresh war arose for the succession. MacWilliam, 
as the head of the Burkes of Connaught, espoused the cause of the 
Cathal Crovderg branch. A conference was held near Elphin between 
him and Rory, Hugh Breifneach's brother, who had assumed the title 
of king of Connaught ; but, as often happened on these occasions, the 
conference was convei-ted into a battle, and Rory being defeated, was 
driven beyond the Curlieu mountains. Next year Hugh Breifneach 
was treacherously killed by one Johnock MacQuillan, who was on 
bonaght with him, and was hired by MacWilliam Burke to commit the 
murder ; but MacQuillan himself was slain the following year at Ballin- 
tubber with the same axe which he had used in killing the Clann 
Murtough prince. Felim, son of Hugh, son of Owen O'Conor, of the 
race of Cathal Crovderg, was now, by the influence of his fosterfather, 
Mulrony MacDermot, chief of Moylurg, inaugurated king of Connaught 
while still almost in his boyhood ; and was, for several years, maintained 
in his authority by that clan. 

Sir John Wogan being re-appointed lord justice for the third time, 
summoned a parliament, which met this year (1309) at Kilkenny. 
Some stringent laws were here made to repress robbery, particularly 
that committed by persons of noble birth, and their retainers; fore- 
stalling was prohibited ; and it is supposed that the law by Avhich Irish 
monks were excluded from religious houses within the English pale, 
was repealed on this occasion.f A scarcity prevailed the following 

* Piers Gavcston, though of humble birth, was married to a nieca of the king's, that is, to a 
sister of De Clare, earl of Gloucester. De Clare's second wife was a daugliter of the earl of Ulster; 
and De Clare's daughter, by a former marriage, was married to the earl of Ulster's son. Notwith- 
standing these alliances, Gaveston was despised and hated by the haughty Anglo-Irish barons, 
and the earl of Ulster, in order to despite him, kept up a kind of royal state at Trim. — See Graces 

t Grace's Annals p. 56, not« /t. The principle of excluding those o»' '.he hostiJorao' •n-as acted 


year, when a craniioc, or bushel, of Avheat sold for 20s., and the bakers 
were dragged on hurdles through the streets for using false weights. 

A.D. 1311. — Civil broils raged in Thomond between the MacNamaras 
and O'Briens, the former being defeated ; and subsequently the chief- 
tain Donough O'Brien was treacherously slain by Murrough, son of 
Mahon O'Brien ; but these feuds were thrown into the shade by those 
which prevailed in the same province between De Clare and William de 
Bui-go, the latter and John Fitz Walter Lacy being made prisoners at 
Bunratty by De Clare.* The lord justice was defeated in attempting 
to put down a revolt of. Sir Robert Verdon; and the O'Byrnes and 
O'Tooles of Wicklow menaced the walls of Dublin. 

A.D. 1315. — We have arrived at an epoch in our history, memorable 
not only for the importance of its events, but for the dawn of an 
intelligible national feeling among the Irish princes, and for the lirst 
movement which merits the name of a patriotic effort to shake oh" the 
English yoke. The Scots had just set a noble example by their suc- 
cessful struggle for national independence. By their glorious victory 
at Bannockburn on June 2oth, 1314, they had effectually rid their 
country of English bondage. A strong sympathy had been excited in 
the north of Ireland for their cause. In the early days of his struggle 
(1306), Robert Bruce, the now triimiphant king of Scotland, had found 

upon in the religious establislinients of both Irish and English ; but in the former it eviixttl no 
little courage on the part of the defenceless monks. "In the abbey of Mellifont," says Cox, 
quoting from a record in the Tower of London, " a regulation was made in ]3"22 that no person 
should 1)6 admitted into hou.^e until he had made oaih that he was not of English descent." 
l>r. Kelly (Camb. Ever, ii , p. 543, nnte), says, '• In 1250, Innocent IV. addressed a letter to the 
archbishop of Dublin and the bishop of Ossory, complaining that Irish bishops excluded all Anglo- 
Iiiish from canonries in their churches : he ordered them to rescind that rule one month after the 
receipt of his letter, on the Christian principle that the sanctuary of God should not be held by- 
hereditary right. This principle, however, became the exception in Ireland, in all churclies and 
religious houses under the English power, down to the Reformation; the contrary principle was 
enacted as the rule by the statute of Kilkenny (of a.d. 13(i7), which excluded all Irish from Eng- 
lish churches and religious houses, unless they had been qualified by a royal letter of denizenship. 
The effect of this law was to exclude the Irish not only from almost all the houses founded by 
the Anglo-Irish, but from a very great number founded by themselves, which had fallen under 
the English power. A few years (1515) before Luther began to preach his opinions, Leo X. 
issued a bull confirming the exclusion of the native Irish, even though qualified by a royal letter, 
from St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin ; and on the same principle, a few years before, Dean Allen 
bequeathed charities to the poor, provided they were Anglo- Irish." 

♦ Connell Mageoghegan, who translated the Annals of Clonmacnoise in 1627, appends to the 
record of the last event mentioned above, the following note: — '-This nnuh I gathir out of tliia 
historian, whom I take to be an authentic and worthy prelate of the church, that would tell 
nothing but truth, that there reigned more dissensions, strife, warrs, and debates, between tha 
Englishmen themselves in the beginning of the conquest of this kingdomc, than between the Irish- 
men, as by perusing the warrs between the I.aciesof Meath, John Coursey, Earle of Ulster, \\ illiani 
Marshall, and the English of Meath and Munster, MacGerald, the Burke*, Butkr, and Cot^.n, may 


shelter and succour in the island of Rathlin, on the Irish coast. Some 
of the Ulster chieftains subsequently joined in an expedition in his aid; 
but their attempt was abortive, for on landing in Scotland, they were 
encountered by the English army, and almost all cut to pieces. Tl)e 
summons of the English king, when mustering an army against Scot- 
land, in this war, was not responded to by the native Irish ; and when 
the Scots were triumphant, the Irish of the northern province lost no 
time in appealing to them, as a kindred people, to help them in ridding 
themselves of the same foreign thraldom , and proposed to Robert Bruce 
to make his brother, Edward, king of Ireland. 

About this time Donnell O'Neill, king of Ulster, wdth other Irish 
princes of that province, acting in the name of the Irish in general, 
addressed a memorial, or remonstrance, to the sovereign pontiff, John 
XXII., setting forth the grievances which their country suffered under 
the English yoke.* This interesting document glances at the early 
history of Ireland, to show the right of the Irish to national indepen- 
dence; it then refers to the false statements by which his Holiness's 
predecessor, Adrian IV., had been induced to transfer the sovereignty 
of their country to Henry II. ; it points out how utterly unworthy 
that impious king was of the confidence which pope Adrian had reposed 
in him — how he had perverted the papal grant to his own unjust pur- 
poses; how he and his successors had violated the conditions under 
which his entrance into the kingdom of Ireland had been sanctioned ; 
how the church of Ireland had been plundered by the English, the 
church lands confiscated, and the persons of the clergy as little respected 
as their property; how vices had been imported, and the Irish, instead 
of being reformed, deprived of their primitive candour and simplicity; 
how the protection of the English laws was denied to them, so that 
when an Englishman murdered an Irishman, as frequently happened, 
his crime was not punishable before an English tribunal ; and how 
the English clergy treated them with shameful injustice by re- 
fusing to Irish reli<2;ious admission even into the monastic institutions 
which had been founded and endowed by their Irish ancestors. The 
memorial enumerates some of the atrocities of the English in Ireland, 
such as the treacherous massacre of the chiefs of Ofl^iily at the dinner- 
table of Pierce Bermingham, and the murder of Brian Roe O'Brien by 

* This memorial would ai)pear to have been written during Hie period of Bruce's invasion, 
and after the pope had been induced by the English government lo condemn the proceedings of tl e 
Scots. It makes no allusion to this condemnation, but adopts a dignified tone of justifi- 


Thomas de Clare : audit proceeds: — "Let no person, then, wonder if 
we endeavour to preserve our lives and defend our liberties, as best we 
can, against those cruel tyrants, usurpers of our just properties, and 
murderers of our persons. So far from thinking it unlawful, we hold 
it to be a meritorious act ; nor can we be accused of perjury or rebellion, 
since neither our fathers nor we did at any time bind ourselves, "Tjv 
any oath of allegiance, to their fathers or to them ; wherefore, with- 
out the least remorse of conscience, wdiile breath remains, Ave shall 
attack them in defence of our just rights, and never lay down our arms 
until we force them to desist." In conclusion, the Irish princes inform 
his Holiness, that " in order to attain their object the more speediiv 
and surely, they had invited the gallant Edward Bruce, to whom, 
being descended from their most noble ancestors, they had transferred, 
as they justly might, their own right of royal dominion."* 

Moved by the representations contained in this memorial, Pope John 
addressed, a few years later, a strong letter to Edward III., in wdiich, 
referring to the bull granted by Pope Adrian to Henry II., his 
Holiness says, that " to the object of that bull neither Henry nor his 
successors paid any regard, but that, passing the bounds that had been 
prescribed to them, they had heaped upon the Irish the most unheard of 
miseries and persecution, and had, during a long period, imposed on 
them a yoke of slavery which could not be borne." His Holiness 
earnestly urges the English king to adopt a different policy ; to reform 
as speedily as possible, and in a suitable manner, the evils under which 
the Irish labored, and to remove their just causes of complaint, "lest 
it might be too late hereafter to apply a remedy, when the spirit of revolt 
had grown stronger."! 

Robert Bruce received with avidity the invitation of the Irish, as it 
promised a favorable field for the military energy and ambition of his 
brother, Edward, who had already begun to demand a share in the 
sov^ereignty of Scotland. An expedition to Ireland was, therefore, pre- 
pared as soon as circumstances would permit, and on the 2Gth of May, 
1315, Edward Bruce, wdio was styled earl of Carrick, arrived off the 
coast of Antrim with a fleet of 300 sail, from whicli an army of 6,000 
men was disembarked at Larne — or, as some say, at the mouth of the 
Glendun river, in the county of Antrim. He was accompanied by the 

* The original Latin of the memorial is preserved by Furcliin, and translations of it will be found 
in Plowdeii's UUtorkal Revieio, Charles O'Conor's Suppressed Memoirs, Taaft^s Ilislonj, and tho 
Abbe Mageoghegun, p. 323. Duff3''s Edition. 

t See this letter of Pope John's in O'SuUivan's Ili^t. Cath. Ilib., p. 70., Dublin, 1850. 


earl of Moray, John Monteith, John Stewart, John Campbell, Thomas 
Randolph, son of the earl of Moray, Fergus of Ardrossan, John de 
Bosco, &c. This event filled the country with excitement and conster- 
nation. The Irish flocked in great numbers to Bruce's standard, and 
the Anglo-Irish of Ulster were quickly defeated in several encounters. 
There is great confusion in the accounts given of the first exploits of 
Edward Bruce in Ireland ; apparently not arising from intentional mis- 
statement, but from a transposition in the order of events by some of 
the old chroniclers. It would appear that Dundalk, Ardee, and some 
other places in Oriel were taken and destroyed in rapid succession by 
the invaders, and that the church of the Carmelite friary of Ardee was 
burned, with a number of the Anglo-Irish who had sought refuge in it. 
The red earl raised a powerful army, chiefly in Connaught, and marched 
against Bruce ; and on meeting the lord justice, Sir Edmond Butler, with 
a Leinster army, also proceeding against the Scots, he told ]\im rather 
haughtily that he would take the work upon himself, which, as earl of 
Ulster, he conceived it to be his duty to do, and would deliver Edward 
Bruce, dead or alive, into the hands of the justiciary. The two Anglo- 
Irish armies, nevertheless, formed a junction somewhere near Dundalk. 
Previous to this, as it would appear from some accounts, Bruce was 
induced by O'Neill to march northward, and to cross the Bann at 
Coleraine, breaking down the bridge after him ; but this move, whether 
made at this time or subsequently, was found to have been a wrong one, 
and the Scottish army was afterwards ferried across the river at a more 
southerly point, by one Thomas of Down, who employed four small 
vessels for the purpose. According to an Irish authority,* the earl of 
Ulster's army marched on one side of the Bann, and the Scottish army 
on the other, so that the archers on both sides could exchange shots ; 
a.nd soon after the Scots had been ferried over the river, as just men- 
tioned, the English army, weakened by the defection of Felira, the king 
of Connaught, who had hitherto acted as an auxiliary to the red earl, 
was routed near Connor, and William de Burgo, the earl's brother, with 
several of the English knights, taken prisoners. This battle, according 
to Grace, was fought on the 10th September, and Dundalk had been 
captured on SS. Peter and Paul's day, the 29th of June. After the 
battle of Connor, the red earl fled to Connaught, where he remained 
for that year without a vestige of an army ; and a portion of the de- 
feated English made their way to Carrickfergus, where some of them 

* Annals of 


entered the castle, and bravely defended it against the Scots. Edward 
Bruce, who had already caused himself to be proclaimed king of Ireland, 
left some men tO carry on the siege of Carrickfergus, and marched with 
the main body of his small army towards tlie south* 

A.D. 1316. — We are now compelled to follow our annalists into Con- 
naught, where events most disastrous to the Irish cause Avere taking 
place. Felim O Conor having, as we have seen, accompanied the red 
earl to Ulster, had entered into correspondence with Edward Bruce, 
and consented to hold from him his kingdom of Connaught ; but in the 
meantime, Rory, son of Cathal Roe O'Conor, head of the Clann Mur- 
tough, had taken up arms and kindled the flames of war throughout 
Connaught. He destroyed some English castles in Roscommon, and 
sent off emissaries to Bruce, who had already come to an understanding 
with Felim, and w^ho now authorized Rory to carry on war against the 
English, but not to meddle with Felim's lands. Rory little heeded this 
injunction; and Felim found a sufficient excuse to return home to 
defend his territory against the depredations of the Clann Murtough 
chief. A series of sanguinary conflicts took place between them. 
Several chiefs fell on both sides ; and great cattle spoils were lost and 
won. Even Felim's foster-father, Mulrony MacDermot, turned for a 
while to Rory's side, ashamed at seeing himself one of a crowd of 
crest-fallen chief tains at the house of the red earl, who had just returned 
from his defeat at Connor. The result was still doubtful, when Felim, 
early in the present year (1316), mustered a numerous army, composed 
partly of Englishmen under Bermingham, und penetrated, in pursuit of 
Rory, through the bogs in the north-east of the present county of 
Galway, by the causeway then called Togher-mona-Connee. Rory, who 
had been watching his movements from the summit of a hill, here gave 
him battle, but was slain, and his army routed with terrible slaughter. 

Felim ha\ang thus disposed of his rival, lost no time in fulfilling his 
engagement to Bruce, and turned his arms against the English. He 
burned the town of Ballylahan, in the east of Mayo, and slew De Exeter 
and De Cogan. Co-operating with the chiefs of all the west of Ireland, 
including the O'Briens of Thomond, he mustered a numerous army, 
with which he marched to Athenry, where a large and well-armed Anglo 
Irish force under William de Burgo and Richard Bermingham, lord of 
the town, was entrenched. A fierce and desperate battle ensued. The 

* See the accounts of these transactions from Mageoghegan's translation of tlic Annals of 
Cloumacnoise, in Four Masters, vol. ill., pp. 504, &.c., note ; also Graces Annnh, pp. C", &c. 

282 k::ign of edward ii. 

coatsof mail and the skill of tlie crossbow-men gave theEnglish a great su- 
periority ; but tlie Irish, whose best soldiers were the galloglasses,* fought 
with unflinching bravery, and by their own accounts lost that day 11,000 
men, among whom was their gallant and youthful king, Felim, then only 
in his twenty-third year. Cox says that 8,000 of the Irish were slain. 
Some of the ancient families of Connaught were almost exterminated, 
so great was the slaughter of the native Irish gentry, and it was said that 
no man of the O'Conors was left in all Connaught capable of bearing 
arms except Felim's brother. This battle was fought on St. Laurence's 
day, the lOtli of August, and was the most sanguinary that had taken 
place since the Anglo-Norman invasion. In it the chivalry of Connaught 
was crushed, and irretrievable injury inflicted on the Irish cause.f 

The Scots seem to have wasted the remainder of the year 1315 in a 
fruitless siegeofCarrickfergus Castle ; but on receiving a reinforcement of 
500 men, on St. Nicholas day (December 6th) Bruce set out on his march to 
tho south. His route was apparently by the north of Meath, through Nob- 
ber andKells toFinnagh inWestmeath, thence toGranard in Longford, 
and Lough Seudy, where he spent Christmas. Thence he passed through 
Westmeath and part of the King's county into Kildare, to Rathangan, 
Castledermot, Athy, Rheban, and Arscoll, where he was opposed by Ed- 
mond Butler, the justiciary, whom he defeated He then returned to- 
Avards Ulster, burning in his way the castle of Ley, and passing through 
Geashiil and Fovv^re to Kells, his army spreading desolation along its 
route.t At the last-named town, Sir Roger Mortimer met him with an 
army of 15,000 men, which was put shamefully to flight; the defeat 
being attributed by the English to the defection of some of their men, 
especially the De Lacys. Mortimer fled to Dubhn, and others made 
their escape to Trim ; and in the meantime, the Irish everywhere rose in 

*The Galloglasses (Gall oglach) who were the heavy-armed foot soldiers of the Irish, wore an 
iron head piece, and a coat of defence stuck with iron nails, and the weapons they carried were a 
long sword and a broad keen-edged axe. The Kerns, or Keherns, were the light-jirmed infantry, 
wlio fought with darts or javelins, and also carried swords and knives. — Harris' Ware, vol. ii., p. 
161. Dr. O'Conor, in his suppressed work. Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Charles O'Conor 
of Belanagare^ observes Uiat tha English ^ere, at the battle of Athenry, well armed and drawn up 
in regular systematic array, and that the Irish fouglit without armour. 

t A story is told of a young man of the Anglo-Irish of Athenry, named Ilussey, who is called by 
.irace a butcher, going out after the battle to search for the body of O'Kelly, the chief of Hy-Many, 
and of his meeting that chieftain still alive, and killing him under very improbable circumstances. 
It i.i added that he brought O'Kelly's head to Bermingham, who knighted Hussey on the spot, and 
tlatthe latter subsequently obtained the lands of Galtrim, of which his family became barons. — 
Jiichard Bermingham was created baron of Athenry for his services that day, and the walls of the 
town were rebuilt out (,f part of the spoils of the Irish. 

J Grace's Annals, p. 07, note u. 


arms. In the heart of the English territory the O'Tooles and O'Byrnes 
burnt Arklow, Newcastle, and Bray ; and the OI\Iores rose in Leix, 
where, however, they were soon after defeated with great slaughter by 
Edmond Butler. The Anglo-Irish barons were at length thoroughly 
aroused to the danger of their position, and gathering round Lord 
John Ilotham, who was deputed specially to them on tlie occasion by the 
king of England, they agreed to forego their private quarrels and to act 
together for the defence of the realm. Famuie had at this time begun 
to ravage the country, and the Scots felt it severely. Edward Bruce 
retired into Ulster, wdiere he exercised all the authority of a king, hold- 
ing parliaments, deciding causes, and levying supplies, without any at- 
tempt on the part of the English to disturb him. 

As summer advanced, Edward Bruce made his appearance once 
more before Carrickfergus, where Thomas Mandeville had succeeded in 
throwing in reinforcements, and the garrison had been thus enabled con- 
stantly to annoy the Scots in the neighbourhood. The siege was pro- 
longed until September, when king Robert Bruce, finding that his 
brother was not making the progress which he had expected in Ireland, 
came over himself; and the operations of the besiegers being conducted 
with fresh energy, the garrison at length surrendered on honorable 
terms, having been, in the course of the siege, so hard pressed by 
hunger, that they ate hides and fed on the bodies of eight Scots whom 
they had made prisoners. The remainder of 1?>16 was consumed in 
desultory efforts, in which the English gained some advantages against 
the Irish in the centre and the west, and in one instance against the 
Scots, of whom John Logan and Hugh Bisset slew 300 in Ulster, on the 
1st of November. 

A.D. 1317. — All parties prepared to put forth their utmost strength at 
the commeiicement of the year. The Scottish army in Ireland at this 
time was computed at 20,000 men, besides an irregular force of Irish ; 
and wuth this army king Robert Bruce and his brother crossed the Boyne, 
at Slane, after Shrovetide. They marched to Castlekuock, near Dublin, 
on the 24th of February, and took Hugh Tyi-rel, the lord of that 
fortress, prisoner, making the castle their own quartei's. All was con- 
sternation in Dublin. The Anglo-Irish distrusted each other. About 
two months before this, the De l^acys, having been charged with 
treasonably aiding the Scots, called for an investigation, in which thty 
were acquitted, and they then gave the most solemn pledges of their 
fidelity; yet now they were actually under Bruce's standard. Richard, 
earl of Ulster, who was far advanced in years, and had lost all Ixi--^ 


former energy, was also suspected by the English. His daughter, 
Elizabeth — or, as some say, his sister — was married to Robert Bruce in 
1302, and this connexion naturally gave ground for suspicion against 
him. When the Scots Avere approaching Dublin, the earl, who Avas 
living retired in St. IMary's Abbey, was suddenly arrested by the mayor, 
Robert de Nottingliam, and confined in Dublin castle; seven of his 
servants being killed in the fray at his arrest, and the abbey pillaged by 
the soldiery, and partly bunded doAvn. The citizens, led on by the 
mayor, acted with a frantic spirit, Avliich may be called intrepidity or 
desperation. To prepare for the expected siege, they burned the sub- 
urbs, and among the rest Thomas-street, with the priory of St. John the 
Baptist, Avhich stood there; and the populace plundered the monastery 
of St. Mary and St. Patrick's Church, which Avere outside the city. 
They went so far as to demolish the church of St. Sra^iour, on the north 
side of the riA^er, and to use the materials in constructing an outer Avail 
close by the riA^er side, along the present line of Merchant's-quay and 
the Wood-quay, Avhich were then in the suburbs.* 

Robert Bruce, learning that Dublin was stro-*! gly fortified, and 
iudaincr of the determination of the citizens from the flames of the 
burning suburbs, Avhich he A^■itnessed from a distance, thought it better 
not to risk the delay of a siege, to carry on wdiich effectually, a con- 
siderable army, and shipping to cut ofi" supplies by AA'ater, would have 
been required. He therefore marched towards the Salmon Leap, on the 
Liffey, a locality Avhicli had been famous in the Danish AA'ars, and haA'ing 
encamped there four days, he led his forces to ISTaas, and in succession 
to Tristle Dermot (Castle Dermot), GoAvran, and Callan, reaching the 
last-named place about the 12th of March. He burnt the towns and 
plundered the churches along the line of march, and the English 
chroniclers say that CA'cn the tombs Avere opened by the Scots, in search 
of treasure. An Ulster army of 2,000 men offered their serAdces to the 
English authorities ; but Avhen the king's banner was given to them, 
they did more harm, says Grace, than all the Scots together, burning 
and destroying Avherever they came. Bruce proceeded as far as 
Limerick Avithout meeting any opposition; but learning that actiA^e pre- 

* Before this time, the town-walls were canied by St. Owen's, or Amloen's, Church, along 
the brow of the high ground, some 400 feet from the river. The mayor and citizens were 
afterwards compelled to restore the ciiureh of St. Saviour ; but they received aid from public 
sources to repair the losses by the burning of the suiiiirhs, and were forgiven half their fee-farm 
rent They were also pardoned for the depredations which they committed in so urgent a neces- 
sity. It has been said that the existence of the English governmeut iu Ireland depended upon the 
fate of iJiililin on this occasion. 


parations were making in his I'ear — Murtough O'Brien, say the Annals 
of Innisfahen, having joined the English* — he retreated by night from 
Castle Connell, and on Palm Sunday (March 27th) was at Kells, in 
Ossory. Thence he marched to Casliel and Nenagh, laying waste, with 
fire and sword, the English settlements as he passed. All this time his 
army was sorely pressed by famine ; and to this cause, and his efforts to 
procure food, may be attributed some of his marches, which it would be 
otherwise hard to account for.f On the 30th of March (Holy Thursday), 
a Avell-equipped Anglo-Irish army, mustering 30,000 men, marched 
against Bruce. Thomas Fitzgerald, earl of Kildare, Richard de Clare, 
Arnold Power (Le Poer), baron of Donnoil (Dunhill, in AVaterford), 
^Maurice Rochfort, Thomas FitzMaurice, and the Cantetons, took the 
field with their numerous followers on the occasion: yet this powerful 
force hunty round the camp of the half-starvod and diminished Scottish 
army without daring to attack them, such was the dread with which 
Bruce's name inspired them.. Sir Roger Mortimer retunied from Eng- 
land, as justiciary, and a council was held at Kilkenn v", to deliberate on 
their position, but no determination was arrived at. Messengers were 
despatched to explain to the king the desperate state of affairs in 
Ireland ; and in the meantime, the English having moved towards Naas, 
Bruce marched to Kildare, and from thence, in the month after Easter, 
to a wood four miles from Trim, where he halted for se\'en days to 
refresh his men, exhausted by hunger and fatigue. On the 1st of May 
the Scots retired to Ulster;' and Robert Bruce, who saw that nature 
itself was against him, and that the Irish were not organised to give 
the support which he expected, returned to Scotland with earl Moray, 
leavincr behind his brother Edward, who Avas resolved to maintain his 
position as king of Ireland. 

Famine and pestilence at this time devastated both England and Ireland. 
Many of the rich were reduced to penury, and great numbers of 
persons perished of hunger. Mothers, it was said, were known to 
devom- their own children. People stole the children of others to eat 
them. Prisoners in jails killed and ate new comers sent in among them ; 
and dead bodies were taken from the grave to be used for food.J 

* Donoujih O'Brien, chief of Tho-nond, who died in 1317, was on the side of I'.ruce. 

t To this period may W referred an incident related in illustration of the huni;inity of Robert 
Bruce. It is said that " while retreating, in circumstances of great difficnlty, lie hailed th(' an.iy 
on hearing the cries of a poor lavandiere, who had been seized with labour, commanding a tent tn 
be pitched for her, and taking measures for her to i)ursue her journey when she was able to travel. 
— Tytler, Ilist. of Scotland, vol. ii. 

X "The pestihntial period of the founeunlh cenlury," says Dr. WiMe, " was, both in durali a 


An ordei was received from the king of England for the hberation of 
the earl of Ulster, but several months elapsed and the question had to be 
debated in a parliament held at Kilmainham, before the order was com- 
plied with, the eai'l giving pledges that he would not revenge himself on 
the citizens of Dublin. The retirement of the Scots to Ulster, and 
Robert Bruce's retxu'n to Scotland, having relieved the English from 
theu' chief source of alarm, the justiciary directed his efforts against the 
Irish septs, who had risen in arms in different parts of the country, 
and against whom he was, in general, successful. The O'Farrells, 
O'Tooles, O'Byrnes, and the Irish of Hy-Kinsellagh were subdued for 
the time ; and in the course of this year some sanguinary battles were 
fought in Connaught between the rival parties -of the O'Conor family. 
The De Lacys were summoned to appear before the lord justice : and on 
their refusal, lord Hugh de Custes, or Crofts, was sent to them, but they . 
put the envoy to death. Mortimer then plundered their lands, and they 
fled, some to Connaught, and othei's to Bruce, in Ulster. One of them, 
John De Lacy, who had fallen into the hands of the justiciary, was 
sentenced to be pressed to death. Two cardinals arrived from Rome in 
England to bring about a peace between the Scots and English, but 
their efforts were ineffectual. 

A.D. 1318. — Roger Mortimer again returned to England, leaving liis debts 
unpaid, and Alexander Bicknor, archbishop of Dublin, was appointed 
justiciary in his stead. A good harvest relieved the country from famine, 
and the hostile armies were once more able to take the field. Edward 
Bruce had at this time, according to some accounts, an effective force of 
three thousand men. Scottish historians say he had only two thousand 
besides an irregular force of Irish ; and those who make his army 
considerably more numerous include, no doubt, his Irish auxiliaries. 
He marched southwards as far as Dundalk, and encamped at the 
hill of Faughard, within two miles of that town. Under his banner 
were Philip lord Mowbray, Walter lord de Soulis, Alan lord Stewart, 
the three De Lac3^s, &c. The English army which marched from 

and intensity, the most remarkablj' calamitous in these annals. It dates from 1315, and lasted 
almost without inteiTuption for 85 years. It commenced with the foreign invasion of the Scots, 
under Edward Bruce, at a time when the country was labouring under the double scourge of 
famine and partial civil war, and its effects were to increase the one aud to render the other general. 
Epizootics succeeded, followed by small-pox; then dearth again, with unusual severity of the 
seasons, and intense frosts, accompanied by the first appearance of influenza, and an outbreak of 
the Barking Mania. Subsequently appeared the Black Death, the King's Game, and the Third 
Pestilence, portions of the live general and fatal epidemics which commenced in the reign of 
Edward III., and the Fourth and Fifth Pestilences in the beginning of the reign of Richard II." — 
Census of TreloMa for 1851. Table of deaths. See also Butler's note to Grace's Anna's. An. 1?"^, 


Dublin to encounter this force was commanded by lord John Berming- 
ham. Its numbers are variously stated, but they were probably much 
larger than that of Bruce s effective men. The memorable battle which 
ensued, and which resulted in the death of the gallant Bruce and the 
overthrow of his army, was fought at Faughard, on the 14th of October. 
John Maupas, an Anglo-Irish knight, convinced that the fate of the 
day depended on the life of Bruce, rushed into the thick of the enemy, 
and engaging with Edward Bruce, slew him ; his own body, covered with 
wounds, being afterwards found lying on that of the Scottish chief.* 
This feat determined the victory at the very outset; and Bermingham, 
causing the bodv of Bruce to be cut in pieces, sent the head, or, as some 
say, carried it himself, to Edward II., and other portions to be exhibited 
in different parts of the country. How unlike the chivalrous courtesy 
exhibited by king Robert Bruce to his conquered enemies at Bannock- 
burn ! Scottish historians say the body of Gib Harper was mistaken for 
that of Edward Bruce, and that the remains of the latter are interred in 
Faughard churchyard, where the peasantry point out his grave ; but 
the other story is more probable ; and Bermingham, as a reward for 
Bruce's head, obtained the earldom of Louth and the manor of Ardee. 
From the terms in which the death of Bruce is recorded by the Irish 
annalists, it is evident that their sympathies were not with him. They 
erroneously attribute to the Scottish invasion the famine and its conse- 
quences, although these calamities were at the time universal ; and the 
old Scottish chroniclers throw, on their part, so much blame on the Irish 
as to show that national prejudices and selfish views existed on both 

Bruce's invasion failed in its object, and the gleam of hope which 
had shone forth for a while rendered the darkness that followed more 
disheartening ; but the Irish were far from being subdued. They 

* The circumstance is differently related by Lodge, who says, " Sir John Bermingham encamp- 
ing about half a mile from the enemy, Roger de Maupas, a burgess of Dundalk, disguised himself 
in a fool's dress, and in that character entering their camp, killed Bruce by striking out his brains 
with a plummet of lead ; he was instantly cut to pieces and his body found stretched over that of 
Bruce, but for this service his heir was rewarded with 40 marcs a year." — ArcMall's Lodge, vol. iii. 
p. 33. 

t The Four Masters record the death of Bruce in the following terms: — " Edward Bruce, the 
destroyer of the people of Ireland In general, both English and Irish, was slain by the English 
through dint of battle and bravery, at Dundalk, where also MacRory, lord of the Inse-Gall 
(Hebrides), MacDonnell, lord of Argyle, and many others of the chiefs of Scotland were slain ; and 
no achievement had been performed in Ireland for a long time before from which greater benefit 
had accrued to the country than from this ; for during the three years and a-half that this Edward 
.''pent in it a universal famine prevailed to such a degree that men were wont to devour one 


seeired, on the contrary, to have acquired a confidence in their own 
strength, which they had not before. Feuds prevailed among con- 
flicting sections of the EngHsh, as well as of the Irish. The former 
suffered some serious defeats in Breffny, Ely O'Carroll, OflPaly, and 
Thomond. In Connaught, after many vicissitudes and great waste of 
human life, Turlough O'Conor, of the race of Cathal Crovderg, suc- 
ceeded, in 1324, in establishing his right as king. Richard de Burgo, the 
famous red earl, died in 1326. In England, the wretched Edward II., 
after a lonjx war with his rebellious barons— who in the end were 
leagued with his profligate queen and her paramour, Roger Mortimei* — 
was finally most cruelly murdered, in 1327. 

It was a period when men's minds were unsettled,, and their manners 
demoralized ; and for the first time heresy appears to have made some 
inroads in Ireland. One Adam DiifF, a Leinster-man, was, in 1327, 
convicted of professing certain blasphemous and anti-christian doctrines, 
and being handed over to the civil tribunal, was sentenced to be burned 
on Hogges'-green, now College-green, in Dublin. About the same time, 
some persons taught heretical opinions in the diocese of Ossory, where 
they gained over the seneschal of Kilkenny, and other official persons ; 
but their doctrines did not spread among the people, and soon dis- 

^ Great commotion was excited among tub AT'i^^n-Irr^h in 1325, by the prosecation of a res- 
pect;ible woman, named Alice Kyteler, for witchcraft, in Kilkenny. She had married four luusbaiids, 
and the last of these, with some of her children by former husbands, were her chief accusers. She 
had accumulated enormous wealth, all of which was conferred on her favorite son, Robert Outlawe; 
and by the aid of powerful friends, among whom were some of the civil authorities, she managed 
to escape to England. One of her accomplices, named Petronilla, of Meath, who confessed her 
participation in several acts of foul and impious superstiti(m, was, in compliance with the ideas of 
the age, burnt as a sorceress. See Grace's Annals ; also a Coteraporary Narrative, edited for the 
Camden Society, by Thomas Wright, 1843. 

A university was founded in Dublin, in 1320, by archbishop Bicknor, by the autliority of a bull 
of pope Clement V., dated 1310 ; but the circumstances of the times and the want uf funds pre- 
vented its success. Some vestiges of it still remained at the beginning of the sixteenth century ; 
and the university which Elizabeth subsequently founded, and which was so amply endowed with 
the confiscated church lands, has been regarded by some people as a revival of that histitution. 
The number of religions foundations diminishes rapidly as we advance. Among those traced to 
the reign of Edward II. are the Franciscan convents of Castle Lyons, in Cork, founded by John 
de Barry, in 1307; and of Bantry, founde 1 by O'SuUivan, in 1320; tlje Augustinian convent of 
Adare, in Limerick, founded by John, earl of Kildare, 1315 ; that of Tullow, in Carlow, by Simon 
Lombard and Hugh Tallon, in 1312; and the Carmelite convent of Athboy, in Meath, by William 
de Londres, in 1317. The famous John Duns Scctus, a native of Down, in Ulster, died at Cologne 
in the year 1308, in the thirty-fourth year of bis age. He was a Franciscan friar of extraordinary 
learnmg, and from the acuteness of his mind, was called in the schools the " Subtle Doctor." John 
Clyn, the author of a chronicle of great value in Irish history, also flourished about this time. He, 
too, was :v Franciscan friar, and was the first guardian of t!ie convent of Carrick-on-Suir, founded in 



Position of the difterent uuces. — Great Feuds of the Anglo- Irish. — Murdtr 
of Bermingham, Earl of Louth. — Creation of the Earls of Ormond and 
Desmond. — Counties Palatine. — Rigour of Sir Anthony Lucy. — Murder 
of the Earl of Ulster. — The Burkes of Connaught Abandon the English Lan- 
guage and Customs. — Sacrilegious Outrages. — Traces of Piety. — Wars in 
Connaught.— Crime and Punishment of Turlough 0' Conor. — Proceedings in 
the Pale. — English by Birth and by Descent. — Ordinances against the Anglo- 
Irish Aristocracy. — Piesistance of the latter. — Sir Ealph TJfford's Harshness and 
Death. — Change of Policy audits results. — The Bhick Death. — Administration 
of the Duke of Clarence. — His Animosity against the Irish. — The Statute of 
Kilkenny. — Effectsof that Atrocious Law. — Exploits of Hugh O'Conor.— Crime 
Punished by the Irish Chieftains. — Victories of Niall O'Neill — Difficulties of 
the Government of the Pale. — Manly Conduct of the Bishops. — General Cha- 
racter of this Beign. 


Popes: Benedict XII., Clement VI., Innocent VI., Urban VI., Gregory XI.— Kings of France: 
Philip VI. of Valois, John II., Charles the Wise. — Kings of Scotland: David II., Edward 

Baliol, Roiiert Stuart Gunpowder invented, 1330.— Statute of Prfflmuuire, 1344 — Gold first 

coined in England, 1344. — Order of the Garter, 1349. — WicklitFe'a tenets propagated, 1369. — 
Petrarch died, 1374. 

[n;oM A.D. 1327 TO 1377.] 

HE decay of the English power in Ireland, the narrowing 
of the English Pale, and the fusion of ihe older English 
settlers, or as they had begun to be called, the " degene- 
rate English," with the native population, are marked 
characteristics of the period of our history wliicb we 
have now reached. The authority of the crown had 
been declining throughout the two preceding reigns; 
durino; Bruce's invasion it was shaken to its foundation, 
but tlie alienation of the Anglo-Irish, arising from the 
impolitic distinction made by government between the 
English by birth and the English by descent; the iden- 
tification, in some instances, of the latter with the native 
Irish, and the recovery of large portions of their original 
several of the Irish chieftains, are all distinguishing 



290 KEiaiN o:- edward iit. 

features of tlie era wliicli commences with the! reign of Edward III. Tho 
great Anglo-Irish families liad become septs. Tliey confederated with, 
the Irish against their own countrymen, or the contrary, almost indif- 
ferently; but whether the administration of affairs was intrusted to 
them, or to the English by birth, it^was invariably employed for 
purposes of personal aggrandizement or revenge; and the native popu- 
lation were still only recognised by the government as the " Irish 
enemy," — a legitimate prey for all plunderers. 

A.D. 1328. — A violent feud broke out at the commencement of this 
reign between Maurice FitzThomas, afterwards earl of Desmond, assisted 
by the Butlers and Berminghams, and Lord Arnold Poer, who was aided 
by the great family of the De Burgos. Poer called FitzGerald a 
" rhymer," and thus the quarrel arose ; the former was forced to fly to 
England ; his lands, and those of his adherents, were laid waste, and 
torrents of blood flowed on both sides. Government became alarmed at 
the rebellious spirit manifested on the occasion, and issued orders for the 
defence of the principal towns ; but the confederates allayed this dis- 
quiet by protesting that they only required vengeance on their enemies ; 
and having submitted and sued for pardon, a council was held at Kil- 
kenny by the justiciary, Roger OutlaAve, prior of Kilmainham, to consider 
the case. The following year (1329) the justiciary efl'ected a reconcili- 
ation between the parties, and although it Avas the season of Lent, 
the event was celebrated by grand banquets in Dublin, the Geraldines 
giving their feast in the church of St. Patrick. 

A.D. 1329. — Another sanguinary fray among the Anglo-Irish took 
place this year; Bermingham, earl of Louth, wath several of his relatives 
and followers, to the number in all of one hundred and sixty, or, as 
others say, two hundred Englishmen being slaughtered by their own 
countrymen, the Gernons, Savages, and others, at Balebragan, now 
Bragganstown, in the county of Louth.* About the same timeMunster 
witnessed another scene of mutual carnage among the Anglo-Irish; 
the Barrys, Roches, and others slaying Lord Philip Bodnet, Hugh 
Condon, and about one hundred and forty of their followers. Mean- 
while several Irish septs were up in arms. Lord Thomas Butler was, m 
1328, defeated with considerable loss by Mageoghegan in Westmeath; 
and the young earl of Ulster, with his Irish auxiliaries, sustained a great 
defeat the same year from Brian Bane O'Brien in Thomond. Donnell 
MacMvuTOUgh, of the ancient royal stock of Leinster, led an army close 

* Among the victims in tliis massacre, wci-e Carroll, a famous harper, and, aa Clya adds, 
twenty other harpers, hia pupiL*. 


to Dublin, but was defeated and made prisoner by Sir Henry Treherne. 
This officer spared the Irish chieftain's life for a sum of £200, an 1 
Adam Nangle, another Englishman, afterwards assisted him with a rope 
to escape over the walls of Dublin Castle; but for this kindness Nangle 
lost his head. 

James Butler, second earl of Carrick, was, in 1328, created earl of 
Ormond, and in 1330 Maurice FitzThomas FitzGerald was created earl 
of Desmond; Tipperary, in the former case, and Kerry in the latter, 
being erected into counties palatine. The lords palatine, of whom there 
were now ei^nt or nine in Ireland, were endowed with a kind of royal 
power. They created barons and knights, erected courts for civil and 
criminal causes, appointed their own judges, sheriffs, and coroners, and 
like so many petty kings, were able to exercise a most oppressive tyranny 
over the population of their respective territories. 

A.D. 1330. — The new earl of Desmond at first rendered good service 
to the government by his successes against some of the Irish septs in 
Leinster; but the old feuds between him and the earl of Ulster were 
soon revived, and were carried to such lengths, at a time when they 
were in the field agamst the O'Briens, that the lord justice found it 
necessary to make both earls prisoners, and to commit them to the cus- 
tody of the marshal of Limerick. 

A.D. 1331. — Sir Anthony Lucy, a Northumbrian baron, famous for 
his sternness of character, w^as now sent over as justiciary, to curb the 
arrogance and violence of the great Anglo-Irish lords. He summoned 
a parliament in Dublin, and adjourned it to Kilkenny, owing to the 
non-attendance of the barons. Again his summons was disregarded ; 
and, in order to make an example of the most powerful, he seized the 
earl of Desmond in Limerick, and carried him a prisoner to Dublin. 
Several other lords were arrested in a similar manner, and among them 
Sir William Bermingham, who was confined with his son in the keep of 
Dublin Castle, called fi-om him the Bermingham Tower, and was hanged 
in the course of the following year. Tliis nobleman was popular on 
account of his bravery and gallant demeanour; and the feeling excited 
by the severity of his sentence was probably the cause of Lucy's recall, 
which followed soon after, when Sir John Darcy, a more moderate man, 
was appointed to succeed liim.* 

* At tljis time the country was suffering severely from famine, and a shoal of larg.e fiah, of the 
whale species, which entered Dublin bay on the evening of the 27th of June, 1331, and of which 
two hundred were killed by the lord justice and his servants, afforded the poor of the city a provi- 
dential supply of food. The next year thedeiirth continued, and the people were attacked by an 
epidemic called the manses, supposed to Iwive been influenza. 


A.D. 1333. — A crime, which produced immense sensation among tlie 
Anglo-Irish, and led to some important results, was committed tliis year 
in the north. William, earl of Ulster, called the dun earl, grandson of 
the famous red earl, seized Walter, one of the leading members of the 
De Burgo family, and confined him in the stronghold called the Green 
Castle, in Inishowen, where he was starved to death. Walter's sister, 
Gyle, was married to Sir Richard Mandeville, and at her instigation, it is 
believed, her brother's death was soon after avenged by the murder of 
the dun earl. This latter nobleman, who was then only in his twenty- 
fii'st year, was proceeding on a Sunday morning towards Carrickfergus, 
in company with Robert FitzRichard Mandeville and others, who basely 
rose against him and killed him while he was fording a stream, or, as 
Grace says, while he was repeating his morning prayers on his way to 
the church, Mandeville giving him the first wound. A feeling of violent 
indignation was aroused by this outrage, and the people of the neigh- 
bourhood rose spontaneously and slew all whom they suspected of being 
abettors of the crime, to the number of over 300 ; so that when the 
justiciary arrived with an army to punish the murderers, he found that 
justice had already been vindicated in a fearful and summary manner.* 
The earl's wife, Maud, on hearing of the murder, fled in terror to England, 
taking with her her only child, a daughter, named Elizabeth, then only 
one year old; and the Burkes of Connaught being the junior branch of 
the De Burgo family, and fearing that the earl's vast possessions would 
be transferred to other hands by the marriage of the heiress, immediately 
seized on his Connaught estates, and declared themselves independent of 
English law, renouncing at the same time the English language and 
costume. Sir William, or Ulick,t the ancestor of the earls of Clanrick" 
ard, assumed the Irish title of MacWilliam Oughter, or the Upper, and 
Sir Edmond Albanagh Burke, the progenitor of the Viscounts of Mayo, 
took that of MacWilliam Eighter, or the Lower MacAVilliam.+ 

A.D. 1334. — Of the crimes we read of in the history of that lawless 
period, none indicate more vividly the anarchy Avhich prevailed than the 

* For many years after it was usual in public pardons to make a formal exception of all who 
.-night have been implicated in the murder of the. earl of Ulster. 

f The name UlirJc, or Uliog, is a contraction of Willium-oge, that is, William Junior, or youug 
William. It would appear to have been hmg peculiar to the Burkes of Connaught. 

X la 1352, the heiress Elizabeth, then twenty years of age, was married to Lionel, duke of 
Clarence, third son of king Edward lil., and that prince was created, in her right, earl of Ulster 
and lord of Connaught, titles which thus became attached to the royal family of England , but he 
was unable to recover the possessions which the MacWilliams had usui-ped in Connaught, and the 
government not being strong enough to assert the authority of the English law on the occasion, the 
territories of the Burkes in that province were allowed to descend according to the Irish custom. 


sacrilegious outrages vrliich are related of the Irish, as well as of their 
opponents. Incessant \Yar had so degraded some that they rivalled the 
ferocity of wild beasts ; and in many instances, the natural gentleness, 
generosity, and piety of the Irish character seem to have been wholly 
laid aside. Thus our annals relate how a great army of the English and 
Irish of Connaught having marched this year against the MacNa- 
maras of Thomond, a party of them set fire to a church, in which were 
two priests and 180 other persons, and did not suffer one to escape from 
the conflagration. It is not said whether the party who committed this 
barbarity belonged to the English or the Irish portion of the army; but 
a similar outrage, three years before, is attributed by the Anglo-Irish 
chroniclers to an Irish sept in Leinster, who, they say, burned the church 
of Freynstown, now Friendstown, in Wicklow, with a congregation of 
eighty persons and their priest, Avho was clothed in his vestments, and 
carried the Sacred Host in his hands. The unhappy people in the 
church asked no mercy for themselves but only that the priest might be 
allowed to depart; yet the infuriated assailants drove him back from the 
door with their javelins, and he was consumed with his flock in the 
burning pile. This appalling atrocity drew down an interdict from the 
Pope on its perpetratoi's ; and an army of them was soon after cut to 
pieces or driven into the Slaney by the citizens of Wexford. Supposing, 
however, these statements not to have been the fabrications of enemies, of 
which we cannot be quite sure, we have, nevertheless, ample evidence that 
religion was not, even in those evil days, extinct among the bulk of the 
population. Thus, we read that the veteran warrior Mulrony MacDer- 
mot, lord of Moylurg, took the habit of a monk in the abbey of Boyle, 
in 1331; and that in 1333, Hugh O'Donnell, son of the famous Don- 
nell Oge, and lord of Tirconuell, died in the habit of a Franciscau 
monk in Inis Saimer, in the river Erne. Most of the Irish chieftains 
who were not killed in battle, are described as dying " after the victory 
of penance;" and numerous pilgrimages, in which the clergy and 
people were united, were made to avert calamities which they appre- 

A.D. 1338. — Edmond Burke, surnamed "na-Feisoge," or "the bearded," 
a younger son of the red earl, was this year drowned by his kinsman, 
Edmond Burke, surnamed Mac William Eighter, who fastened a stone 
to his neck, and inmersed him in Lough Mask; and a war followed, in 
which the partizans of Mac William Eighter and the English of Con- 
naught in general suffered enormous losses ; TurloughO'Conor succeeding, 
after a sanguinary struggle, in driving Edmond Burke altogether out of 


the province. The English were, on tliis occasion, expelled from the 
territories of Leyney and Corran in Sligo, and the hereditary Irish chief* 
tains resumed their own lands there and in other parts of Connaught 
As for Edmond Burke, he collected a fleet of ships or boats, with which 
he remained for some time among the islands on the coast of JNIavo, but 
from these Turlough drove him the following year, and obliged him to 
withdraAv to Ulster. 

A.D. 1339. — Turlough O'Connor, thus far crowned with success, 
brought ruin upon himself by his domestic misdeeds. Despising the laws 
of the church and of society, he put away his Avife Dervail, daughter 
of Hugh O'Donnell, the lord of Tirconnell, and married the daughter 
of Turlough O'Brien, the Avidow of Edmond Burke who had been 
drowned in Lough Mask. This act alienated from him the Connaught 
chieftains, and after an interval of three years spent in constant warfare, 
he was in 1342 deposed by the Sil-Murray and other septs, and Hugh, 
the son of Hugh Breifneach O'Conor, one of the Clann Murtough, 
chosen king in his stead. Notwithstanding this election, however, it is 
stated that Avhen the unhappy Turlough was killed with an arrow in 
1345, his son, Hugh, was inaugurated king of Connaught after him. 

Reverting to the affairs of the Pale, we find that Desmond, who had 
been released from prison on bail in 1333, after eighteen months' 
captivity, repaired to Scotland with some troops, in obedience to a 
summons from the king, and was probably present at the decisive battle 
gained; by Edward over the Scots at Hallidon Hill; the famous ex- 
pedition of Edward IH. into Scotland on this occasion, having been 
cloaked up to the last moment by a pretence that the preparations he 
was making were for a visit to Ireland. Subsequently, the earl of 
Desmond was actively engaged against the Irish in Kerry, as the earl of 
Kildare was against the O'Dempseys and other septs, in Leinster, 
Twelve hundred of the men of Kerry were slain in one battle, in 1339. 
and Maurice FitzNicholas, lord of Kerry, who had been fighting in 
tiieir ranks, was taken and confined in prison, where he died.* 

AJ). 1341. — Plans which Edward had long since formed for breakmg 
down the ascendancy of the great Anglo-Irish lords were now matured, 
and he sent over Sir John Morris, as lord deputy, to carry them into 
execution. His first sweeping measure was the resumption of all the 
lands, liberties, seigniories, and jurisdictions which either he or his 

• This Englisli knight had, many years befoiv, rnsiied into ilie a»Mze court at Trake, and 
killed Dermot. h?ir of the MacCarlhy More, while sitting with the judge on the bench; yet, tht 
law siiriTv'iwi tins crime to g-,, unexpiateiL 


father had granted in Ireland. Another ordinance recalled any 
remission which had been made by himself or his predecessors, of debts 
due to the crown, and decreed that all such debts should be levied 
without delay. Other rigorous and arbitrary measures were also 
adopted, but that which indicated most clearly the design of the king 
was an ordinance declaring that, whereas it had appeared to him and his 
council that they would be better and more usefully served in Ireland 
by Englishmen, whose revenues were derived from England, than by 
Irish or English who possessed estates only in Ireland, or were married 
there, his justiciary should, after diligent inquiries, remove all such 
officers as were married or held estates in Ireland, and replace them by 
tit Englishmen having no personal interest whatever in Ireland* 

A.D. 1342. — This declaration of the royal views and intentions 
aroused the indignation of the proud Anglo-Irish nobles, who had been 
allowed to become much too powerful before this attempt was made to 
humble them. It was the first public avowal of a jealous distinction 
between the English by birth and the English by descent, and was sub- 
sequently condemned as a fatal mistake. To allay the excitement 
produced by it, the lord deputy summoned a parliament to meet in 
Dublin, in October; but the earl of Desmond and many other lords 
peremptorily refused to attend, and held a general assembly, or conven- 
tion, of their own, at Kilkenny, in November, where they adopted a 
long and spirited remonstrance to the king, setting forth the rights which 
they had inherited from their ancestors, their claims to the favor and 
protection of the king, and the injustice and unreasonableness of the 
ordinances now issued against them. They complained bitterly of the 
neglect, peculation, fraud, and mismanagement of the English officials 
sent over to this country; enumerated a long catalogue of chargv.:;, 
attributing, among other things, to the maladministration of thusti 
Englishmen, the unguarded state of the country, the loss of one-third 
],art of the territories which, they said, had been conquered by the king's 
j)rogenitors, and were now retaken by his Irish enemies, and the 
abandonment to the I^'ish of the strong castles of Roscommon, Randown, 
Athlone, and- Bunratty ; and, in conclusion, they prayed that they might 
not be deprived of their free holdings without being called in judgment, 
pursuant to the provision of magna charta. The king's answer to the 
remonstrants was favorable on most points; in particular he contirmed tae 
grants of his predecessors, and in the case of lands granted by himself, 

* Close Kull. I'; l-.a. 111. ri\nrc"s ( oHtaioils. Co.x, vul. i. i<. 11«. 

296 REIGN OF EDWAl!)) Ul. 

he restored tliose which had been resumed, on security being given 
that they shouhi be surrendered if found to have been granted Avithout 
cause. He was just then entering upon a Avar with France, and this 
circumstance suggested the propriety of a more conciliatory policy 
towards the Anglo-Irish barons. 

A.D. 1344. — Sir Ralph Ufford, who had married the widow of the 
ijQurdered earl of Ulster, was now appointed to the office of lord justice, 
and exercised his authority with a harshness and rigour that drew upon 
him general odium. His first efforts were directed against the power of 
Desmond. That haughty earl refused to attend a parliament, called by 
Ufford, in Dublin, and attempted to assemble one of his own at Callan, 
but the new deputy soon showed that this game could not be played 
with him. He proceeded to Munster with an armed force, seized the 
earl's lands, and farmed them at rents to be paid to the king. He next 
got possession, by stratagem, of the strongholds of Castle-island and 
Iniskisty, in Kerry, and hanged Sir Eustace Poer, Sir William Grant, 
and Sir John Cottrel, who held command in them, charging them Avith 
the illegal exaction of coyn and livery.* The bail which had becy 
given for the earl, when he was liberated in 1333, was declared to be 
forfeited, and thus eighteen knights lost their estates.t Ufford con- 
trived, and again by the employment of stratagem, to get the earl of 
Kildare into his custody; Imt the Avar AAdiich he thus AA-aged so success- 
fully against the proud and powerful aristocracy was cut short by his 
own death, in the month of April, 1346. Some of his harshness was 
attributed to the persuasion of his wife ; and it is said, that this lady, 
Avho Avas recei\-ed like an empress on her arrival, Avas obliged to retire 
clandestinely, amidst the execrations of the people and the clamour of 
creditors, carrying Avith her the body of her husband, in a leaden coffin, 
to England. 

The policy of the king towards the Anglo-Irish AA^as noAv modified ; 
the severity of Ufford was condemned ; the earl of Desmond Avas 
suffered to repair to England to plead his cause before the king, and Avas 

• " Coyn and livery," was an exaction of money, food, and entertainment for the soldier;;, and 
of forage for their horses. A tax of a similar kind, under the name of bonaf/ht, existed among the 
Irish, but it was regulated by fixed rules, and was part of the ordinary tribute paid to tlie chief. 
Among the Anglo- Irish it became a source of the most grievous oppression, without any just 
measure, or any compensating consideration ; and as it pressed heavily upon the English as well as 
Iii h population, it became necessary t<> prohibit it by stringent laws. The earl of Desmond re- 
ferred to above is said to have been the first who introduced this exaction in its Anglo-Irish form. 
S*;e Harris's Ware, vol. i., chap. xii. 

t .vtjording to some accounts, the earl surrendcrrn nimself to Ufford, and the recognisancea 
sfstreated aa mentioned above were those entered into t.ji- his llberatiun, on this occasion. 


allowed 203. per diem for liis expenses while detained tliere ; the estreated 
recognizances were restored ; the Anglo-Irish nobles were invited to 
aid the king in his expedition against France, and the earl of Kildare 
earned the honor of knighthood from Edward by his gallant conduct at 
the siege of Calais in 1317. Thus, after a few years, the struggle 
between the crown and the great lords of the Pale ceased for a time, 
all the lands and jurisdictions of which the latter had been for awhile 
deprived being restored. Desmond rose to such favor with the king 
that, in 1355, he was entrusted with the office of lord justice for 
life; but he died five months after this honor had been conferred 
upon him, and his body Avas removed from Dublin castle to Tralee, 
Avhere it was interred in the church of the Dominican friars. Thus 
ended the career of Maurice FitzThomas FitzGerakl, the first earl of 

About this time Brien MacMahon gained an nnportant victory over 
the English in Oriel, more than 300 of them having been slain, accord- 
ing to their own historians. In Leinster, the colonists Avere not allowed 
much rest by the O'Tooles and O'Byrnes, on one side, or by the septs of 
]..eix and Offiily on the other. Lysaght O'More, chief of Leix, took and 
burned in one night ten English castles, destroyed Danamace, and 
expelled nearly all the English from his ancestral territor3^ The 
MaclMurrough was also in the field with a large following, as were also 
O'Melaghiin and the Irish of IVIeath. These latter Avere defeated by 
the lord justice, in 1349, Avith the slaughter of several of their chiefs. 
Need we Avonder at finding that about this time a royal commission AA-as 
issued to inquire Avhy the king derived no revenues from his Irish 

A.D. 1348. — This year is memorable for the outbreak of the terrible 
pestilence called the Black Death. That age AA^as, indeed, one of fearful 
visitations. Our annals record about that period several years of famine 
from ungenial seasons. In 1341, an epidemic, called the barking dis- 
ease, preA^ailed, Avhen persons of both sexes and all ages went about the 
country bai'king like dogs. But the most aAvful of all these visitations 
Avas the Black Death.* For some years, diu'ing Avhich the pestilence 

' Friar Clyn, who was an eye-witness of its ravages, and is believed to have fallen a victim to 
it liimselfthe following year, describes the Black Death in his annals under the year 1348, in the 
following expre^sive terms: — " It first," he says, " broke out near Dublin, at Howtli and Dalkey; 
it almost destroyed and laid wa---te the cities of Dublin and Drogheda, insomuch that in Dublin 
alone," from the beginning of August to Christmas, 14,000 souls perished That pestilence de- 
prived of human inhabitants villages and cities, castles and towns, so Uiat there was scarcely found 
u man to dwell therein ; the pestilence was so contagious, that whosoever touched the sick or th« 


continued, our annals record few events save the deaths of remarkable 
persons who fell victims to it. Then followed, in loGl, another 
visitation called the " King's Game," or second pestilence, the exact 
nature of which is not known, although it was possibly only a return 
of the Black Death; and in 1370 appeared the third great plao-ue, 
which lasted for a period of three or four years, and produced a fearful 
mortality. There can be little doubt that this series of calamities 
paralyzed the country, and left its marks upon the history of the 

A.D. 1361. — Lionel, third son of Edward III., and eari of Ulster by 
right of his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of the murdered earl, was now 
appointed to the government of Ireland, with extraordinary authority, 
as lord lieutenant. He landed in Dublin on the 15th of September, 
1360, with an army of 1,500 men, and evinced from the first a bitter 
animosity towards the Irish, reviving, moreover, the distinction between 
the English by birth and by descent. A royal mandate had been 
issued a short time before, ordering that no " mere Irishman " should 
be appointed mayor, bailiff, or other officer of any town within the 
English dominion ; or be received through any motives of consanguinity, 
affiriitv, or other causes, into holy orders, or be advanced to any ecclesi- 
astical benefice or promotion.! But the principle of interdiction was 
carried much further by duke Lionel. In a war which he had to carry 
on against the O'Byrnes, just after his arrival, he issued a proclamation 
" forbidding any of Irish birth to come near his army;" thus excluding 
from his ranks all the old colonists, to their infinite disgust. After this 

dead was iivi mediately afl'ected and died, and tiie penitent and ttie cunfesior were earned together 
t(i the grave." And afier desciibiiig the terror it produced and the symptoms of the disease, which 
show it to have been the real eastern plague, he adds : — " That year was beyond measure wondeiful, 
unusual, and in iwany things prodigious, yet was sufficiently abundant and fruitful, however sickly 
and deadly. That pestilence was rife in Kilkenny in Lent. Scarcely one ever died alone in a house; 
commonly husband, wife, children, and servants, went the one way — the way of death." See the 
authorities on this subject collected by Dr. Wilde, in liis important report on the Table of Deaths; 
Census of 1851. This plague, which originated in the cast, ravaged the whole of Europe. Dr. 
Hecker says it must have swept away at least twenty-five millions of the human race. StOA-, in 
his Chronicles says, that in Ireland it destroyed a great number of English people that dwelt there ; 
but such that were Irish born, that dwelt in the hill country, it scarcely touched. Tiiis, observes 
Dr. Wilde, was here called " the first great pestilence," being the (irstof the live remarkable plagues 
of the fourteenth century, three of which occurred in the reign of Edward HI. 

* During this dreary period the following entry occurs in tlie Annals of Cloumacnoise, urider 
the year 13nl, " William MacDonough Moyneach O'Kelly (chief of Hy-.Many), iuvited all tiie 
Irish poet.s, brehons, bards, harpers, gamesters, or common kearroghs, jesters, and others of their 
kind in Ireland, to bis house upon a C!iri»tmas this year, where every one of them was well used 
during Christmas holidays, and gave contentm(.ni to o;uh utlier at tlie time of their departure, so 
«s every one of them was well phased, and extolled Wijliaui lor lijs bounly." 

t Kyiner, u vi., 326. 


flToss insult a hundred of Ins best soldiers appear to have been slain at 
night in some unaccountable manner, whereupon, he abandoned the dis- 
tinction of English by birth and English by descent, and summoned all 
the king's subjects to his standard.* Subsequently he endea^•oured to 
establish discipline in the army; expended £500 in walling the town 
of Carlow, whither he removed tlie exchequer, and ingratiated himself by- 
other acts with the colonists, who granted him two years' revenue of all 
their lands towards the prosecution of the war against the Irish. 

A.D. 1367. — Having returned to England in 136-1, Lionel was created 
duke of Clarence, and twice in the tlu'ee following years he Avas again 
entrusted with the office of lord lieutenant. In the year 1367, during 
the last period of his administration, was held the memoi'able parliament 
at Kilkenny, in which was passed the execrable act known as the 
" Statute of Kilkenny." It is said that Lionel's chief object in his later 
visits to Ireland was to regain the possessions usurped by the Burkes of 
Connaught, and that his failure to attain that end was the real cause of 
the bitterness of the act in question. The following are the principal 
provisions of this statute: — That Intermarriage with the natives, or any 
connection Avith them in the shape of fostering, or gossipred, should be 
dealt with and punished as high treason ; that any man of English race 
assuming an Irish nanie, or using the Ixish language, apparel or customs, 
should forfeit all his lan;ls and tenements ; that to adopt the Brehon 
law, or submit to it, was ti'eason; that v.-Ithoufc the permission of the 
government the English should not make war or peace with the Irish; 
that the English should not permit the Irish to pasture cattle on their 
lands, nor admit them to any ecclesiastical benefices or to religious 
houses; nor entertain their minstrels, rhymers, or news-tellers. There 
were also enactments against the oppressive tare of coyn and livery, against 
the abuse of royal franchises and liberties, and upon some other matters : 
but the principal and manifest object of this most tyrannical and 
in-ulting statute was to keep the English and Irish for ever separate, and 
to Avage a perpetual war against those of the English race, who, holding 
lands and residing among the Irish, were necessitated, more or less, tc 
adopt the Irish customs and laws.f It was impossible to enforce such a 

• Grace's Annals. 

t "The result," says the late eminent antiquary and historiau^ Mr. Hardiman. describing the 
eflfect of this statute, " was sucli as might be expected. En^^lish power and inflaeiice coiuiimcd to 
decrrase, insomich that at the close of the sucteL-ding' century tUoy were nearly annihlljLeil in 
Ireland. At the beginning, the native Irish, apprehending that the real object of a law enacted 
and |iroclainied with so much pomp and appearance of authority was to root them altntrwher out 
of the l.ind. nat;iriilly CKinbined together for s.if' '.y. and some of tlie m>rf powof;! rh'efi.-iiiii 

600 V.TAG'S OF EDWARD 111. 

law, and pi'actically it becaiiie a dead letter; but the distrust and 
national enmity wliicli it created were kept alive, and in the reign of 
Henry VII. (a.d. 1494) it was to a great extent revived and confirmed. 
As to duke Lionel, he left Ireland in lo(37, and died next year in Italy, 
where he had just taken as his second wife the daughter of the duke of 

While the Anglo-Irish were struggling with enemies in the very 
bosom of their colony, and praying by a petition to the king for relief 
from the payment of scutage upon the lanrls of which the Irish had 
deprived them in their daily encroachments upon the bounds of the 
Pale,* we see the native chieftains acting in their respective territories 
without any reference whatever to English authority, and without 
appearing to recognise its presence in the country. Hugh O'Conor, 
king of Connaught, and Cathal O'Conor (Sligo), led an army into Meath, 
in 1362, and laid waste the English lands, burning no less than fifteen 
churches which had been used by their enemies for garrisons ; but Cathal 
died of the plague the same year. In 1365, Brian MacMahon, lord of 
Oriel, induced Sorly MacDonnell, a prince of the Hebrides, to put 
away his wife, the daughter of O'Reilly, and to marry Brian's own 
daughter. Soon after he added another crime to this, by drowning his 
son-in-law, whom he had invited to drink wine in his house. The 
O'Neills, O'Donnells, and other Ulster chieftains confedemted to punish 
the offending chief; MacMahon was driven from Oriel, and having re- 
turned, was again attacked, and ultimately slain by a gallowglass of his 
own followers when marching with them against the English. His fate 
and that of Turlough O'Conor, already related, show that the Irish 
chieftains, even in that age of anarchy, and among men of their own 
order, would not suffer glaring crimes to go unpunished. 

Garrett, earl of Desmond, at the head of an Anglo-Irish army suffered 

resolved upon immediate hostilities. O'Conor of Connaught and 0"Biieii of Thomond for the 
moment laid aside their private feuds, and united against the common foe. The earl of Desmond, 
lord justice, marched against them with a considerable ariny, but was defeated and slain (captured) 
in a sanguinary engagement, fought ad. 1.369, in the county of Limerick. O'Farrel, the chieftain 
of Annal}', committed great slaughter in Meath. The O'Mores, Cavanaghs, O'Byrnes, and 
O'Tooles, pressed upon Leinster, and the O'Neills raised the red arm in tlie north. The English of 
the Pale were seized with consternation and dismay, and terror and confusion reigned in their 
councils, while the natives continued to gain ground upon them in every direction. At this crisis 
an opportunity offered, such as had never before occurred, of terminating the dominion of the 
English in Ireland ; but if the natives had ever conceived such a project, they were never sufficiently 
united to achieve it. The opportunity passed away, and the disunion of the Irish saved the 
colony." — Statute of Kilkenny, published by the Irish Archisological Society, with introduction and 
notes by the late .James ITardiman, Esq., M.K I.A. Dublin, 1843. 

Close Koli. 1(5 Ed. III. Prynne, 302. 


a great overthrow from Brian O'Brien, cliief of Thomond, in 1369. 
Garrett himself was made prisoner; his army was slaughtered, and 
Limerick was burned by the men of Thomond. Niall O'Neill defeated 
the English, in 1374, and again gained an important victory over them 
the following year in Down, slaying several of their knights; but the 
native septs of Leinster were not so successful at this time in the harass- 
ing war which they had to sustain against the forces of the English 
government. Melaohlin OTarrell was slain in 1374. Donouoh Kav- 
anagh INIac^Iurrough, king of the Irish of Leinster, was cut off' by 
stratagem in 1375. The MacTiernans were defeated the same year, 
and Hugh O'Toole, lord of Imaile, was killed in 1376. There was the 
usual amount of discord among the Irish themselves; but the broils 
among the English at the same time, and especially the sanguinary feuds 
A\hich raged between the different sections of the Burkes in ConnauMit, 
show that the curse of dissension was not coiiuiied to the native race. 

So difficult and odious had the task of governing Ireland become, 
that we find Sir Richard Pembridge, the warden of the cinque ports, 
positively refusing the office of lord justice, which he was ordered to 
undertake, in 1369 ; find his refusal was not adjudged an offence, on the 
ground that the law required no man, not condemned for a crime, to 
go into exile, which a residence in Ireland, even in so honorable a 
position, Avas admitted to be. When Sir William de Windsor was then 
appointed to the office, he undertook to carry on the government for 
£11,1213 6s. 8d. per annum, but Sir John Davies assures us that the 
whole revenue of Ireland at that time did not amount to £10,000 
annually in the best years. Previously the salary of the lord justice 
used to be £500 a year, out of which sum he should support a certain 
immber of armed men. The subsidies which Edward III. was obliged 
to levy in Ireland, not only for the wars in this countr}^, but for those 
in France and Scotland, were intolerably oppressive, and were exacted 
from ecclesiastical as well as lay property. Ralph Kelly, archbishop of 
Cashel, opposed the collection of one of these imposts, as far as it 
affected the church lands in his province, and, accompanied by the 
suffragan bishops of Limerick, Emly, and Lismore, dressed in their 
pontifical robes, appeared in the streets of Clonmel, and solemnly 
excommunicated the king's commissioner of revenue, and all persons 
concerned in advising, contributing to, or levying the tax. When cited to 
answer for this conduct, the prelates pleaded the magna charta, which 
decreed the exemption of church property ; and although the cause was 
given against them, no judgment appears to have been executed in the 



case. On the whole, it may be said of the reign of Edward III., that 
]io"vvever brilliant it Avas in English histor}', it was most disastrous to the 
English interests in this country ; and as far as Irish interests were con- 
cerned, Mr. Moore has well observed that durmg it were laid "the 
foundations of that monstrous system of misgovernment in Ireland to 
which no parallel exists in the history of the whole civilized world; its 
dark and towering iniquity having projected its shadow so far forward 
as even to the times immediately bordering upon our own."* 

* Hist, of Irelai^.d, vol. iii., p. 118. — A curi uis entry on the Exchequer Issue Eoll for the year 
1376 refers to the close of this reign, and often been quoted as singularly expressive ; it is to 
the t-fl'ect that Kichanl Dere and AVilliam Stapolyn came over to England to inform the king how- 
very badly Ireland was governed ; and that the king ordered them to be paid ten pounds for their 




Law against Absentee? — Events in Ireland at the Opening of the Keign. Par- 
tition of Connaught between O'Conor Don and O'Conor Roe. — The Earl of 
Oxford made Duke of Ireland — His Fate. — Battles between the English and 
Irish. — Richard II. visits Ireland with a Powerful Army. — Submission of 
Irish Princes — Hard Conditions. — Henry Castidc's Account of the Irish. — 
Knighting of Four Irish Kings. — Departure oi Richard II. and Rising of the 
Irish. — Second Visit of King Richard — His Attack on Art MacMurrough'a 

Stronghold. — Disasters of the English Army. — MacMurrough's Heroism. 

Meeting of Art MacMurrough and the Earl of Gloucester. — Richard Arrives 

in Dublin. — Bad News from England. — The King's Departure from Ireland 

His unhappy Fate. — Death of jS^iall More O'JSi eill, and Succession of Niall O^e. 
— Pilgrimages to Rome. — Events Illustrating the Social State of Ireland. 


Pope.-* : Urban VI., Boniface IX. — King of France, Charles VI. — King of Scotland, KoLurt ITI. 
— Emperor of the Turks, Bajazet I. 

[a.d. 1377 TO A.D. 1399.] 

^ ICHARD II., only surviving child of Edward the Black 
Prince, succeeded his grandfather, Edward III., as kino- of 
England, when only in his eleventh year, and the govern- 
ment of the state was carried on by the youno- kino-'s 
uncles. One of the first measures of his reign relating 
to Ireland was a stringent law against absenteeism, 
obliging all persons who possessed lands, rents, or other 
income in Ireland, to reside there, or to send proper per- 
sons to defend their possessions, or else to pay a tax to 
the amount of two-thirds of their Irish revenues ; those 
who attended the English universities, or were absent by 
special licence being excepted. 

A.D. 1380. — Edmond, grandson of Roger Mortimer^ earl 

of March, came to Ireland with extraordinary powers as lord lieutenant. 

Having married Philippa, the daughter of Lionel, duke of Clarence, and 


of Elizabeth, daughter of the dun earl, he became in her right earl of 
Ulster; and several of the native Irish princes paid court to him on 
his arrival; among others, Niall O'Neill, O'Hanlon, O'Farrell, O'Reilly, 
O'Molloy, Mageoghegan, and the Sinnagh or Fox. One of the Irish 
nobles who thus visited the earl was Art INIagennis, lord of Iveagh, in 
Ulster, who, for some charge trumped up against him, while thus within 
the grasp of his enemies, was seized and cast into prison. This act 
destroyed the confidence not only of the Irish, but, as we are told, of 
many of the English, who consequently kept aloof from the deputy. 
Mortimer invaded Ulster shortly after, destroying much property, lay 
and ecclesiastical, and the following year he died in Cork.* 

A.D. 1383. — Roger Mortimer, the youthful son of the late earl, was 
nominated in his father's place, his imcle Sir Thomas Mortimer, chief 
justice of the common pleas in England, administering affairs for him as 
deputy. In so absurd a way was the office of lord justice of Ireland 
disposed of at that time, that a grant of it was next made for ten years 
to Philip de Courtney, a cousin of the king's, who abused his power by 
such oToss peculation and injustice, that the council of regency had him 
taken into custody and punished for his crimes. An army was this year 
led by Niall O'Neill against the English of Antrim ; and the following 
year that prince took and burned Carrickfer'gus, and, as the annals say, 
" gained great power over the English." 

At this period the country was desolated by plague as well as by war, 
the fourth great pestilence of the fourteenth century having broken out 
m 1382 ; and the ravages of the disease may be traced for some years in 
the numerous obituaries which our annalists record.j 

A.D. 1384. — A fresh source of disorder now arose in Connaught. 
Rory, son of Turlough O'Conor, and last king of that province, died, 
after a stormy reign of over sixteen years, and two rival chieftains were 
set up in his place. One of these, Turlough Oge, a nephew of the late 
chief, was inaugurated king by O'Kelly of Hy-Many, Clanrickard, and 
some of the O'Conors ; and Turlough Roe, son of Hugh, son of Felira 
O'Conor, the other competitor, was, about the same time, installed by 
MacDermot, of jMoylurg, the Clann Murtough, and all the chiefs of the 

* In 1380, before the arrival of Ediiiond Mortimer, a number of French and Spanish galleys 
retired from the English fleet into the harbour of Kinsale, where they were attacked by the 
inhabitants, English and Irish, 400 of tiieir men being killed, and their principal officers captured. 
Holinshed gives this statement on the authority of Thomas Walsingham, but it is not alluded to 
in the Irish or Anglo-Irish chronicles. 

t This pestilence Dr. Wilde suspucis to have been a visilati'.a of typhu,-; fever. — 5te Report on 
Table of Deaths. 


Sil-Murray. The former was tlie ancestor of the sept of O'Conor Don 
(the brown), and the latter of that of 0"Conor Roe (the red); and 
between these two branches of the O'Conor family and theu* respective 
adherents implacable hostility prevailed for many years after. The 
territory of Connaught was divided between them, by which partition 
the ancient power of that province was crushed for ever, while the country 
was laid waste by feuds, which seldom allowed any interval of repose. 

A.D. 1385. — In a moment of puerile caprice, Richard, who had been 
heaping honors upon Robert de Vere, eaid of Oxford, bestowed Ireland 
upon that young favorite. He created him marquis of Dublin ana 
duke of Ireland, transferring to him for life the sovereignty of that 
kingdom, such as he possessed it himself; and the parliament, which 
confii'med this grant, also voted a sum of money for the favorite's in- 
tended expedition to Ireland. Having accompanied de Vere as far as 
Wales, the youthful monarch changed his mind, and sending Sir John 
Stanley to Ireland as his deputy, he kept his favorite near himself. 
Like that of all royal minions, the fate of the young duke of Ireland 
was unfortunate. The irritated nobles took up arms; the duke of 
Gloucester, one of the king's uncles, joined them, and de Vere, defeated 
in battle, was driven into exile, and died in Belgium, in 1396. 

A.D. 1392. — Our annals mention a victory gained by O'Conor, of 
Offaly, in 1385, over the English, at the tochar, or pass, near the hill of 
Croghan, in the King's county ; and the Anglo-Irish chronicles record 
a battle, in which 600 of the Irish were slain, in the county of Kilkenny, 
in the year 1392. In this latter year Niall O'Neill led an army to 
Dundalk, where he defeated the English; he himself, although then 
far advanced in years, killing Seffin White in single combat. This year 
died O'Neill's eldest son, Henry, who Avas distinguished for his justice 
and munificence, but was surnamed, by antiphrasis, Avrey (Aimhreidh) 
or the Contentious. Henry's sons were warlike, and their names long 
occupy a conspicuous place in the annals of the northern province. 

A.D. 1394. — Richard, having suddenly formed a project of visiting 
Ireland in person, countermanded the preparations which the duke ot 
Gloucester was making by his orders to come to this country. Ireland 
had become a perpetual drain on the royal exchequer. Notwithstanding 
the absentee laws, a great number of the Anglo-Irish proprietors resided 
in England, and the power and daring of the neighbouring Irish septs 
were daily increasing. The king was resolved to take into his own 
hands the subjugation of the country; but this was not the sole motive 
for his expedition. He had just Buffered a mortifying repulse in Ger- 


many, where he hoped to be elected emperor, and had also lost his 
queen ; and he sought by excitement and change of scene to heal h'a 
wounded feelings. Richard landed at Waterford, on the 2nd of October, 
with an army of 4,000 men-at-arms and 30,000 archers, which had been 
conveyed in a fleet of 200 ships. This was the largest force ever 
landed on the coast of Ireland ; and the Irish, after retiring for awhile 
to their fastnesses, prudently judged that resistance to such an army 
was worse than useless, whereupon their chiefs came in considerable 
numbers to yield him homage. Beyond this show of submission, 
however, and a parade of his power which gratified his vanity, 
Richard, with his splendid and costly armament, effected nothing. No 
measure of justice or conciliation was thought of; nothing was done to 
gain the confidence and esteem of the Irish ; the laws of England were 
not extended to them ; in fact every law was framed against them ; and 
there was no idea of treating them as subjects of the crown, on equal 
terms with the English, or of securing to them the possession of such 
portions of their ancient patrimonies as had not yet been wrested from 

O'Neill and other lords of Ulster met the king at Drogheda, and 
there did homage in the usual form. Mowbray, earl of Nottingham 
and lord marshal of England, was commissioned to receive the fealty 
and homage of the Irish of Leinster ; and on an open plain at Balligorey 
near Carlow, he held an interview with the famous Art MacMurrough, 
heir of the ancient Leinster kings, who was at this time the most 
dreaded enemy of the English, and was accompanied at this meeting by 
several of the southern chiefs.* The terms exacted from these chieftains 
were that they should not only continue loyal subjects, but engage, for 
themselves and their swordsmen, that on a certain fixed day they would 
surrender to the king of England all their lands and possessions in 
Leinster, taking with them only their moveable goods, and that they 
would serve him in his wars against any others of their countrymen. 
In return for their hereditary rights and territories they were to receive 
pensions during their lives, and the inheritance of such lands as they 
could seize from the " rebels " in other parts of the realm, and for the 
fulfilment of these hard terms they were severally bound by indentures 

* It must have been immediately before this that Art MacMurrough, according to the Irish 
annals, burned the town of New Ross (Ros-mic-Triuin) in Wexford, carried o(Ta large quantity of 
valuable property, and slew a great number of the English. It was with difficulty this cliief was 
pursuaded to offer his submission, and when the English had him in their hands there was some 
attempt male to detain Lira, O'Byrne, O'More, and O'Nolan being finally kept as hostngcs for him. 


and in heavy penalties. No less than seventy-five chieftains from differ- 
ent parts of Ireland appear to have proffered their homage to Richard 
or his commissioner on this occasion; and it is curious that the kino- in 
a letter, written at the time, to his council in England, after classifyino- 
the population of the English Pale under the three heads of " wild Irish, 
or enemies," " Irish rebels," and " English subjects," admits that the 
" rebels " had been made such by wrongs and English misrule, and that 
if not wisely treated they might enter the ranks of the " enemies," 
whence he thought it right to grant them a general pardon, and to take 
them under his special protection.* The council thought the kino-'s 
treatment of the L'ish too lenient, and suggested that he should exact 
large fines and ransoms for the pardons which he granted'; but his ex- 
perience taught him otherwise. 

When Sir John Froissart, the French chronicler, was, in 1395, at the 
court of Richard II. in England, he met there an English gentleman, 
named Henry Castide, or Castile, who told him that he had lived for 
many years in Ireland ; that he had been captured by the Irish in a 
skirmish, but had been well treated by the Irish gentleman who took 
him prisoner, and who afterwards gave him his daughter in mai'riage ; 
that he had thus acquired a knowledge of the Irish language, and was 
on that account employed by king Richard to instruct four Irish kings, 
on whom he desired to confer the honor of knighthood, in such things 
as might be necessary for the ceremony. A courtier like Froissart was 
not apt to favor a people such as the Irish were then represented to be, 
nor was his informant prejudiced in their favor; but the details trans- 
mitted to us through such hands are extremely cm'ious. " To tell you 
the truth," said Castide, " Ireland is one of the worst countries to make 
war in or to conquer, for there are such impenetrable and extensive 
forests, lakes, and bogs, there is no knowing how to pass them. It is so 
thinly inhabited that whenever the Irish please they desert the towns 
and take refuge in these forests, and live in huts made of boughs, like 
wild beasts j and whenever they perceive any parties advancing with 
hostile disposition, and about to enter their country, they fly to such 
narrow passes it is impossible to follow them .... And no man-at- 
arms, be he ever so well mounted, can overtake them, so light are they 
of foot. Sometimes they leap from the ground behind a horseman, and 
embrace the rider (for they are very strong in their arms) so tightly 
that he can no way get rid of them." Sir Henry then proceeds to relate, 

* Proceedings of the Privy Council, edited by Sir Harris Nicholas. 


among other things, how " four of the most potent kings of Ireland had 
submitted to the king of England, but more through love and good 
humour than by battle or force ;"* how they were placed for about a 
month under his " care and governance at Dublin, to teach them the 
usages of England;" how they refused to sit to dinner unless their min- 
strels and attendants were allowed seats with them at the same table, 
according to the custom of their own country; how they at first objected 
to receive knighthood, observing that they had been created knights 
already when they were only seven years of age, such being the custom 
of their country, especially with the sons of kings ; how they ultimately 
acceded to the wishes of king Richard in everything, and were knighted 
by him in the cathedral of Dublin, on the feast of Our Lady, in March; 
and dined that day, in robes of state, at the table of king Richard, 
" where they were much stared at by the lords and those present, not, 
indeed, without reason, for they were strange figures, and differently 
countenanced to the English and other nations." So the courtly Sir John 
reports the words of Master Castide, and he adds that the success of 
Richard II. in Ireland on this occasion was partly owing to the vene- 
ration in which the natives held the cross of St. Edward, which the king 
emblazoned on all his banners, instead of his own leopards and fievrg de lis. 
A.D. 1395. — After nine months passed in Ireland, chiefly in those dis- 
plays of pomp and pastimes which he so much loved, Richard was 
recalled to England by affairs of state early in the summer of this year, 
and left young Roger Mortimer, who had been declared heii'-presump- 
tive to the crown, as his viceroy in Ireland. Scarcely, however, had 
the king departed when several of the Irish chiefs cast off the allegiance 
to which they had submitted for the moment. It would appear that 
even before he left the English suffered partial defeats in Offaly and 
Ely O'Carroll. We are told, on English authority, that Sir Thomas 
Burke and Walter Bermingham slew 600 of the Irish this year, and 
that the O'Byrnes of Wicklow were defeated by the viceroy and the 
earl of Ormond. But, on the other hand, MacCarthy gained a victory 
over the English in Munster ; O'Toole slaughtered them fearfully in a 
battle in 1396, six score heads of the foreign foe being counted before 
the chief after the conflict ; the earl of Kildare was taken prisoner by 
Calvagh O'Conor of Offaly, in 1398; and the same year the O'Byrnes 
and O'Tooles avenged many of their former losses by a victory at Kenlis 

* The names of the Irish kings are strangely metamorphosed in the orthography of Froissart, but 
they appear to have been O'Neill, O'Conor, O'Brien and MacMurrough. — Chxou. Book IV. c. 64. 
Johns' Translation. 


in Ossory, in which young Mortimer was slain and a great nnmher of 
the English cut to pieces. 

4.l> 1099. — King llicliard, who had of late incurred great popular 
odium in England by his exactions and oppression, undertook the mad 
project of another expedition to Ireland; and set out at a moment 
when his government was surrounded by perils at home, lea^^ng his 
uncle, the Duke of York, regent in his absence. He once more landed 
at Waterford with another magnificent army, which, like the former 
one, was transported in a fleet of 200 ships ; and it is curious that on 
this occasion we are again indebted to a French chronicler for an account 
of the royal transactions in Ireland. A French gentleman named 
Creton, who was induced to accompany a friend on Richard's second 
expedition, has left us, in a metrical account of the last days of that 
unfortunate monarch's reign, some highly interesting details of what 
he witnessed in this country.* 

After six days' delay in Waterford the king marched to Kilkenny, 
where he remained fourteen days waiting for the arrival of the duke 
of Albemarle, who still disappointed him ; but, in the meantime, Janico 
d'Artois, a foreign officer of great tact and bravery, and anIio per- 
formed many important services for the English, defeated the Irish at 
Kells, in Ossory. On the eve of St. John the Baptist, Richard departed 
from the city of St. Canice, victualling his army as best he could, and 
marched against Mac Murrongh, the indomitable king of Leiiister. 
The main object of the expedition was, indeed, to conquer, if possible, 
this celebrated chieftain, the most heroic of the Irish princes of his 
time, vsh^ in a territory surrounded by the settlements of his English 
foa», ^nd spite of all the lords justices sent against him with armies of 
*Ttail-clad warriors and archers, and all the chivalry of the earls of the 
/ale, was able to hold his position as an independent king, to keep the 
Anglo-Irish government in perpetual terror, and to afford a rallying 
point to his oppressed countrymen, and an example of patriotic heroism 
to the native chieftains of all Irelind.f MacMurrough's stronghold 
was in a wood, " guarded by 3,000 stout men, such, as it seemed to me," 
says the narrator, " were very little astonished at the sight of the 
Enghsh." The king marshalled his army in battle array before the 

• See the TTisfnve (hi Roy d'Anglcterre, Richard; translated by the Rev. J. Webb, in the twen- 
tienth vol. of the Archaeologia : London, 1824. The portion of it relaiin^' to Ireland was trans- 
lated long before by Sir George Carew, and published in H;irris's Hibt.-nica. 

t See, f .r an interesting accouH* of this Irish hero nnd bis exploits, Mr. T. Darcj ^I 'Gee's ^' Life 
and i'onqueiis of A-i ilucAiurrou'jh" in D'Jj'ys Llbrarj of Ireland. 


wood, the standard being, this time, not St. Edward's gold cross on a 
red field and four white doves, but his own three leopards ; and the 
Irish not choosing to leave their defences and meet him in the plain, he 
ordered the villages in the wood to be set on fire, and compelled 2,500 
of the peasantry to cut a passage for his army tlu-ough the wood. 
Meanwhile he amused himself with one of his favorite pageants, going 
through the ceremony of knighting his cousin, the duke of Lancaster's 
son, " a fair and puny youth," who was afterwards king Hemy V. of 
England, together with eight or ten other knights. While marching 
through the passage opened for them his army was constantly assailed 
both in the van and rear by MacMurrough's soldiers, who attacked them 
with loud shouts, casting their javelins with such might " as no haber- 
geon or coat of mail was of sufiicient proof to resist their force;" and 
who were " so nimble and swift of foot that like unto stags they ran 
over mountains and valleys." MacMurrough's uncle and some others 
came forward in an abject manner to make their submission to Richard, 
who thereupon sent a message to the king of Leinster himself, inviting 
him to follow his uncle's example, and promising not only to pardon 
him but " to bestow upon him castles, towns, and ample territories." 
The answer of the heroic Art was that " for all the gold in the world 
he would not submit himself, but would continue to war, and endamage 
the king in all that he could." This defiant message was delivered at 
a time when king Richard's army was in the utmost straits for want of 
food. The surromiding country had been ravaged over and over, and 
no provisions were to be found. Several men had perished of famine, 
and even the horses were without fodder. " A biscuit in one day 
between five men was thought good allowance, and some in five days 
together had not a bit of bread !" At length three ships arrived with 
provisions from Dublin, the army being encamped somewhere near the 
coast in Wexford ; but the starving soldiers plunged into the sea and 
rifled the vessels without waiting for a regular distribution of food, so 
that much of it was destroyed and many lives lost in the confusion ; and 
the men indulged to intoxication in the wine which they found in 
the ships. 

Covered with humiliation, king Richard decamped, and marched 
towards Dublin, the Irish hovering on his rear and skirmishing with the 
same provoking effect as hitherto ; but soon after his departure MacMur- 
rough sent after him to make overtures of peace and to propose a confe- 
rence. This filled the English camp with delight, and Richard gladly 
commissioned the earl of Gloucester, who commanded in the rear, to meet 


MacMurrough. For this purpose the earl took with him a guard of 200 
lances and 1,000 good archers ; and among the gentlemen who accom- 
panied him to see the Irish king was our French friend who relates the 
circumstance : — " From a mountain, between two woods, not far from 
the sea, we saw MacMurrough descending, accompanied by multitudes 
of the Irish, and mounted upon a horse, without a saddle, which cost 
him, it was reported, 400 cows. His horse was fair, and in his descent 
from the hill to us, ran as swiftly as any stag, hare, or the swiftest beast 
I have ever seen. In his right hand he bore a long spear, which, when 
near the spot where he was to meet the earl, he cast from him with 
much dexterity. The crowd that followed him then remained behind, 
while he advanced to meet the earl near a small brook. He was tall of 
stature, well composed, strong, and active ; his countenance fierce and 
cruel." The parley was a protracted one, but led to no reconciliation. 
Such terms as the earl was empowered to offer were haughtily spurned 
by MacMurrough, who declared that he would not submit to them 
while he had life. Richard, on hearing the result, " flew into a violent 
rage, and swore by St. Edward he would not depart out of Ireland 
until he had MacMurrough in his hands, living or dead." 

Dublin was at that time so prosperous that the arrival of the English 
king, with an army of 30,000 hungry men, produced no change in the 
price of provisions. The duke of Albemarle next arrived with his rein- 
forcements, and Richard, forming his army into three divisions, resolved 
to renew the war against MacMurrough, and at the same time offered a 
reward of a 100 marks to any one who would deliver that chieftani to 
him dead or alive. His own fate, however, was nearer at hand than 
that of Art MacMurrough. After an ominous interruption of news from 
England for six weeks, owing to stormy weather, disastrous accounts 
reached him from that country. His cousin, the son of John of Gaunt, 
duke of Lancaster, was up in rebellion, and had been joined by the 
barons and a large portion of the population. All his Irish schemes 
were in a moment crushed. The duke of Albemarle, in whom he 
trusted, put him on a wrong course. His departure from Ireland was 
delayed until his Welsh friends were scattered, and he only arrived in 
England to become a prisoner. Ultimately he was murdered in Pontc- 
fract Castle; and thus to this second ill-omened expedition of king 
Richard to Ireland may be traced the fate of that unfortunate monarch, 
and the origin of the war between the houses of York and Lancaster, 
which so long continued to deluge England with blood. 

Niall More O'Neill died at an advanced age, in 1397, and was sue- 


ceeded by his son, Niall Oge, who chastised the O'Donnells for some of 
their late aggressions, and made war upon the English so effectually, in 
1399, as to plundea* or expel nearly all of them whom he found in 
Ulster. Garrett, fourth earl of Desmond, who died in 1398, and was called 
the poet, is described as excelling " all the English and many of the 
Irish in the knowledge of the Irish language."* He was a great patron 
of learned men, who, even in that age of anarchy, found many friends 
among the Irish chieftains. Thus Niall O'Neill, whose death we havo 
Just mentioned, built a house for the ollavs and poets on the site of the 
famous palace of Emania, near Armagh. We begin at this time to 
meet frequent mention of pilgrimages to Rome. In 1396, Thadeus 
O'Carroll, lord of Ely, repaired, says an Irish chronicler, to the threshold 
of the apostles on a religious pilgrimage ; and, on his return through 
England, he presented himself, with three other Irish gentlemen, 
O'Brien, Gerald, and Thomas Calvagh MacMurrough, of the royal race 
of Leinster, to king Richard, who received them in the most courteous 
manner, and took them with him on a visit to the king of France. 

* Two plaintive quatrains in Korman French, written by this earl while a prisoner, are printed 
in Croker's popular songs of Ireland, p. 287. Earl Garrett is the theme of many legends still 
preserved in the south of Ireland ; according to one of which, his spirit appears once in seven 
years on Lough Gur, ia the county of Limerick, where he had a castle. See Four Masters, vol. v. 
p. 761, note. 

' '^^ ^=%^^-<^S^' ^^^"-<^^ ^^^^^^V^ "^"^'Bclt^ 



State of the English Pale. — The Duke of Lancaster in Ireland. — Defeats of the 
English. — Retaliation. — Lancaster again Lord Lieutenant. — His Stipulations. 
— Affairs of Tyrone. — Privateering. — Complaints from the Pale. — Accession of 
Henry V. — Sir John Stanley's government. — Ehyming to death. — Exploits of 
Lord Furnival. — Reaction of the Irish. — Death of Art MaeMurrough Kava- 
nagh. — Death of Murrough O'Couor, of OfFaly. — Defeat of the O'Mores. — 
Petition against the Irish. — Persecution of an Irish Archbishop. — Complaint of 
the Anglo-Irish Commons. — State of Religion and Learning. 


Popes: Innocent VIT., Gregory XII., Alexander V., John XXIII., Martin V. — King of France, 
Chai'.es VI. — King of Scotland, Robert III. — Revolt of Owen Glendower in Wales, 1401.— 
Death of Tamarlaue, the Tartar Conqueror, 1405. — Cannon first used in Englaud, 1405. — Bat- 
tle of Azincourt, 1415 Paper Urst made of linen rags, 1417. 

[from 1399 TO 1422.] 

E have already remarked that the reigns of the English 
kings form no epochs in Irish history. In England the 
struggles between the crown and tlie parliament, the con- 
sequent growth of popular liberty, the alternate wars and 
alliances with other countries, and events of like importance, 
sufficiently distinguish one reign from another. In Ireland 
the scene varied but little. It was one of continuous strife 
and warfare ; the only redeeming feature being the indomi- 
table heroism with which the native Irish not only main- 
tained their ground against their powerful and rapacious 
enemies, but gradually regained territories that haxl been 
wrested fi'om their ancestors, and even succeeded, as was 
now the case, in levying tribute within the English Pale.* 
A.D. 1402. — Thomas, the young duke of Lancaster, second son of 
Henry IV., was sent over as lord lieutenant, though not yet of age, and 
landed at Bullock, near Dalkey. Soon after his arrival, John Drake, 

* To tliat territ?'y within which the English retreated and fortiliod thrtnselves when a reaction 
began to set in after their first success in Ireland ue have all along applied tlx; name of I'ule, 


then mayor of Dublin, marclied against the O'Byrnes of Wicklow, whom 
he routed at Bray, slaying 500 ; and as a recognition of this and other 
similar services, the privilege of having the sword borne before the mayor 
was granted to the city of Dublin. John Dowdal, sheriff of Louth, was 
publicly murdered in Dublin, by Sir Bartholomew Vernon and three 
other Eno'lish gentlemen, for which and other crimes they were outlawed 
and their estates forfeited ; but soon after they received the king's pardon 
and had their lands restored. The duke of Lancaster remained two 
years, and left as deputy Sir Stephen Scroop, who soon after resigned 
the office to the earl of Ormond, but on the death of the latter in 1405, 
the earl of Kildare was elected, and he was followed in quick succession 
by Scroop, and the new earl of Ormond, as deputies to the duke. 

Gillapatrick O'More, lord of Leix, defeated the English in battle at 
Ath-duv, in 1404, killing great numbers and taking a large amount of 
spoils. The following year Art MacMurrough renewed hostilities by 
plundering Wexford, Carlow, and Castledermot ; and in 1406 tlie 
English of Meath were defeated by Murrough O'Conor, lord ot Offaly, 
and his son Calvagh. Three hundred of the English were killed on 
this occasion. 

A.D. 1407. — This year the English avenged some of their recent 
losses. The lord deputy Scroop, with the earls of Desmond and Ormond, 
and the prior of Kilmainham, led an army against MacMurrough, who 
made so gallant a stand that victory for some time seemed to be on his 

although that term did not really come into use until about the beginning of the 16th century^ In 
earlier times this territory was called the English Land. It is generally called Galldacht, or the 
"foreigner's territory," in the Irish annals, where the term Galls conies to be applied to the descendants 
of the early adventurers, and that of Saxons to Englishmen newly arrived. The formation of the Pale 
is generally considered to date from the reign of Edward I. About the period of which we are now 
treating it began to be limited to the four counties of Louth, Meath, Kildare, and Dublin, which formed 
its utmost extent in the reign of Henry VIII. Beyond this the authority of the king of England 
was a nullity. The border lands were called the Marches. Campion describes the Pale as the place 
" whereout they (the English) durst not peepe." The Wicklow septs of O'Toole and O'Byrne fre- 
quently scoured the country as far as Clondalkin, Saggard and other places in the immediate 
vicinity of Dublin. An autliority of the reign of Henry VIII. complains that even the four counties 
of Dublin, Kildare, Meath, and Uriel, or Louth, were not "free from Irish invasions, and were so 
weakened, withal, and corrupted, that scant four persons in any parish wore English habits ; and 
coine and liverie were as current as in the Irish counties." — The same authority (a Report on the 
condition of Ireland in 1515, preserved in the English State Paper Office, and printed in the 
first volume of the "State Papers" relating to Ireland) states that but half of each of the four 
counties just mentioned was subject to the king's laws, and that "all the comyn Peoplle of thesaid 
HalfF Countyes that obeyeth the Kinges Laws, for the more part ben of Iryshe Byrthe, of Iryslie 
Habyte, and of Irishe Language;" and in enumerating the English territories which paid tribute, or 
"Black Rent," to the "wylde Irish," it is stated that the county of Uriel (Louth) paid yearly to 
the " great Oneyll" £40 ; the county of Meath, to O'Conor of Offaly, £300 ; the county of Kildare, 
to the same O'Conor, £20; the King's Exchequer to MacMurrough, 80 marks; besides the tributes 
paid by nglish settlements outside the Pale to their respective Irish chieftains. Such was lh» 
btate of things mora than 300 years after the so-called conquest. 


side, although it ultimately declared for the English. The latter then 
made a rapid march to Callan, in the county of Kilkenny, where they 
came by surprise upon Teige O'Carroll, lord of Ely, and his adherents, 
and slew 800 of them in the panic which ensued.* 

Teige O'CaiToll, who was killed in the fray, was a generous patron of 
learning ; and it will be remembered that a few years before this time, 
when returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, he was honorably received 
at the court of Richard II., in Westminster. A parliament was held this 
year at Dublin in wliich the statute of Kilkenny was confirmed, but the 
insolence which prompted this proceeding was soon after humbled. 

A.D. 1408. — The duke of Lancaster again assumed the reins of govern- 
ment in person ; but stipulated that he should be allowed to transport 
into Ireland, at the king's expense, one or two families from every 
parish in England, that the demesnes of the crown should be resumed, 
and the laws against absenteeism enforced. Soon after his arrival he 
seized the earl of Kildare in an arbitrary manner, and demanded 300 
marks for his ransom. Meanwhile MacMurrough, who had again taken 
the field, was victorious in battle, and O'Conor Faly carried off enormous 
spoils from the English in the lands bordering on his own territory. 
The royal duke finally left Ireland in 1409, after appointing Thomas 
Butler prior of Kilmainham, as his deputy. The latter held a parlia- 
liament in Dublin the following year, when the law against coyn and 
livery was further confirmed ; he also made an incursion into O'Byrne's 
country, with a force of 1,500 kernes or light-armed infantry, but with- 
out success.f "^ 

A.D. 1412. — Tyrone was for many years, about this period, a scene 
of contention between diflferent sections of the O'Neill family, and tha 
neigbouring chieftains were generally involved in the strife. When 
Niall Oge O'Neill died in 1402 his son Owen was miable to enforce his 

* Both English and Irish accounts agree as to the number of slain, but the former add " thai 
the sun stood still that day for a space, until the Euglishmen had ridden six miles !" a prodig>' on 
which the Irish annals are silent. 

About this time the first notice of usquebagh or whiskey occurs in the Irish annals, which 
mention that Richard MacKannal, chief of Muintir-Eolais in Leitrim, died from drinking some at 
Chiistmas, in the year 1405. Connell Mageoghegan (Ann. of Clon.) playing upon the name, says 
" mine author sayeth that it was not aqua vitas to him, but aqua mortis." Fynes Jlorryaon, a 
writer of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, lauds the usquthagh or aqua vita: of Ireland, as better than 
that of England. — Hist, of Ir. vol. ii. p. 366. 

t An Act passed in the parliament held in the year 1411, affords a striking example of the 
malevolence with which the legislature of the Pale was animated towards the Irish. It was enacted 
that none of the " Irish enemy"' should be allowed to depart from the realm, without special leave 
ander the great seal of Ireland ; and that any one who seized the person or goods of a native thus 
attempting to depart should be rewarded with one-half of the aforesaid goods, tne remainder to be 
forfeited to the State. 


right of succession, and Donnell, of the Henry O'Neill Lranch, was 
recognised as chieftain. In 1410 Donnell was made prisoner by Brian 
MacMahon of Oriel, who delivered him up to his enemy, Owen O'Neill, 
and through the agency of the latter he was transferred to the English, 
who already had in their hands Hugh, another of the Henry O'Neill 
faction. Hugh made his escape from Dublin in 1412, after ten years' 
imprisonment, and contrived to take with him several other captives; 
among others, his kinsman Donnell. This escape created great alarm 
in the Pale, and threw Ulster once more into confusion. Seven years 
later Donnell O'Neill was expelled by Owen and the other northern 
chiefs; and the following year we find the earl of Ormond, then justi- 
ciary, acting with an English army against the Ultonians on his behalf. 
Donnell and his Anglo-Irish auxiliaries were, however, unsuccessful, 
and the former was then obliged to fly for shelter to the O'Conors of Sligo. 

A piratical Avarfare was carried on at this period between the Scots 
and the English merchants of Dublin and Drogheda. The latter were 
obliged to arm in their own defence, as government was unable to pro- 
tect them, and they fitted out privateers and plundered the Scottish and 
the Welsh coasts indiscriminately. MacMurrough gained a victory over 
the English of Wexford in 1413, and the O'Byrnes another over those 
of Dublin the same year. A little before this, the sheriff" of Meath was 
taken prisoner by O'Conor Faly, and a large ransom exacted for him. 
In fact, the state of the English Pale was at this time such that it was 
necessary to remove the prohibition of trading with s the Irish of the 
Marches. Permission was granted to take Irish tenants on the border 
lands, and licenses were given to place English children with Irish nurses, 
and even to Intermarry with the Irish. The English of j\Ieath were 
obliged to purchase peace from the Irish by annual tributes or black 
rent. The English of Louth complained that the king's commissioners 
had billeted or assessed Eochy MacMahon and other " Irish enemies " 
upon them, and that these men were prying into all the woods and strong 
places about the country. A petition was presented by the commons to 
the kmg, complaiiuiig even the kuig's ministers frequently committed 
open acts of spoliation on the English subjects. * In a word, the speaker 
of the Entdish House of Commons, Sir John Tibetot, broadly asserted 
*' 1 jiit the greater part of tneLor^lship of Ireland, (that is, the English 
territory there^, had been conquered by the natives."! 

A.D. 1413. — Henry V. succeeded to the crown of England on the death 

* Procee'fiiu/f, 4c., oftht Privy Couadi, -ulhcd by iSir H. Nicholas, vl. iL 
t Rot. Pari. i;ia. 


of his father this year ; but altliough he made his first essay in arms in 
freland, having been knighted when a boy by Richard II., in a camp in 
Wexford, he does not appear to have ever taken rmxch interest in Irish 
affairs. The English overthrew the Irish in a battle at Kilkea in Kildare ; 
but in the following year they were defeated in Meath by Murrough 
O'Conor, lord of Ofi^'aly, when the baron of Skreen and many of the 
English gentry were killed, and the sum of 1,400 marks exacted as a 
ransom for the son of the baron of Slane, who was made prisoner. Sir 
John Stanley, who was now sent over as lord deputy, rendered himself 
odious by his cruelties and exactions ; and the Irish annals say that he 
Avas "rhymed to death " by the poet Niall O'Higgin of Usnagh, whom 
he plundered in a foray, and who then lampooned him so severely that he 
only survived five weeks !* He is accused of having enriched himself by 
extortion and oppression, and of having incurred enormous debts, which 
his executors refused to liquidate; and it was said that he "gave neither 
money nor protection to clergy, laity, or men of science, but subjected 
them to cold, hardship, and famine." 

A.D. 1415. — Sir John Talbot of Hallamshire, who was called lord 
Furnival, in right of his wife, and was subsequently rewarded for his 
services with the title of earl of Shrewsbirry, was sent to Ireland as lord 
justice at the close of 1414, and entered on the duties of his office with 
determined energy. Setting out on a martial circuit of the borders of 
the Pale, he first invaded the territory of Leix, took two of O'More's 
castles, and laid waste the whole of his lands in so merciless a way, that 
that chief was obliged to sue for peace, and to deliver up his son as a 
hostage. The hardest of his terms was, that O'More should fight under 
the English standard against his brother chieftains, as he was compelled 
to do immediately after against MacMahon of Oriel, who was likewise 
subdued and compelled to yield to similar terms ; so that it was said 
lord Furnival " obliged one Irish enemy to serve upon the other." 
These successes, achieved in the space of a few months, gained for him 
the approbation of the inhabitants of the Pale; but as it was necessary 
to revive the exaction of coyn and livery to support the soldiery, 
the advantages were more than counterbalanced by the losses.f 

* This was the second " poetic miracle " performed by this Niall O'Higgin by means of his 
satire and imprccationi, the former being " the discomfiture of the Clann-Conway the night they 
plundered Niall at Chidann." In the case mentioned above, one of the Anglo-Irish, Henry Dalton, 
took up the bard's cause, and plundered " James Tuite and the king's people," giving the OTIiiigins 
out of the prey a oow for every one that had been taken from them, and then escorting them to 

t The oppressive nature of coyn and livcrj' is thus explained in the prramble to the statute (not 
printed) of 10 Hen. VII., c. 4 :— " TLut uf long there hath been used and exacted by the loidi and 

318 RElfiN OF HENRT \. 

A.D. 1416. — No sooner had this formidable deputy departed to attend 
his royal master in France, where he became the most distinguished of the 
English commanders, than the Irish again rose and made ample re- 
prisals. O'Conor Faly took large spoils from the Pale's men ; and the 
invincible king of Leinster overran the English settlements in Wex- 
ford, killing or taking prisoners in one day 340 men. The next day 
the English sued for peace and delivered hostages to him. This was 
the last exploit of Art MacMurrough Kavanagh. That Irish prince, 
the most illustrious of the ancient royal line to which he belonged, died 
in 1417. Our native annals say " he nobly defended his own province 
against the invaders from his sixteenth to his sixtieth year." He was 
distinguished for his hospitality, and his patronage of learning as well 
as for his chivalry, and was a munificent benefactor of churches and 
religious houses. He is supposed to have been poisoned along with his 
chief brehon, O'Doran, by a drink adminis^tered to him by a woman at 
New Ross the week after Christmas, and was succeeded by his son 
Donough, who was worthy of his father's military fame. Two years 
after this Donough was made prisoner by Richard Talbot, then lord 
deputy, and sent to London, where he was confined in the Tower. 

A.D. 1421. — Murrough O'Conor, lord of Offaly, whom we have seen 
so often victorious over the English, died this year, having assiuned 
the habit of a grey friar a month before his death in the monastery of 
Killeigh, near Geashill. The same year the earl of Ormond, then 
lord deputy, defeated O'More in " the red bog of Athy," the historian, 
Campion, relating on this occasion the prodigy which Ware refers to 
a former one, namely, that the sun stood still to accommodate the 
victorious English ! Thus war was carried on with inveterate animosity 
on both sides ; but unfortunately it was not confined to the hostile races 
of Celt and Saxon, for during the whole of this time our annals teem 
with accounts of internecine quarrels among the Irish cliiefs themselves 
in almost eveiy part of the country.* 

genllemen of this land, many and divers damnable customs and usages, which being called coyn and 
livery and pay — that is, horse meat and man's meat for the finding of their horsemen and footmen, 
and over that, 4d. or 6d. daily to every of them, to be had and paid of the poor earth-tillers and 
tenants, without anything doing or paying therefor. Besides, many murders, robberies, rapes, and 
other manifold oppressions by the said horsemen and footmen daily and nightly committed and done, 
which have been the princinal causes of the desolation and destruction of the said land, so as the 
most part of the English freeholders and tenants be departed out of the land." — Grace's Annals, 
p. 147, note; Buvis' Discovery, pp. 143, 144; also. Printed Statutes, 10 Hen. VII., cc. xviii. and 
xix. The exactions of the Irish chiefs were remodelled after the English invasion, and soon became 
totally different from those set down in the Book of Rights. — -S'ee 0' Donovan's Introduction to the 
Book of Rlffhts, p. xviii. 

* A small body of Iri^h troops, under the command of Thomas Butler, prior of Kihnainham, 


A petition was presented to parliament in 1417, praying that as 
Ireland was divided into two nations, the English subjects and the Irish 
enemies, no Irishmaii should be presented to any office or benefice in 
the church; and that no bishop, who was of the Irish nation, should, 
under pain of forfeiting his temporalities, collate any Irish cleric to a 
benefice ; moreover, that he should not be allowed to bring any Irish 
servant with him when he came to attend parliament or council. The 
prayer of this atrocious petition was granted ; and soon after we find an 
attempt made to carry out the principle in a prosecution against Richard 
O'Hedian, archbishop of Cashel, who was distinguished for his zeal and 
bounty in promoting religion and fostering its establishments, but who 
was now impeached for showing favor to Irishmen ; for giving no benefice 
to English ecclesiastics ; for advising other bishops to follow his example, 
and for some other trumpery charges ; but the matter does not appear to 
have been followed up. It is plain, that the only real cause of accusa- 
tion against this prelate was the display of some kindness and generosity 
towards his persecuted countrymen. 

About the close of this reign, the Irish commons presented a petition 
to the king, complaining of several monstrous grievances and abuses 
on the part of his officers in Ireland. Among them were the cruelty, 
oppression, and extortion practised by several of the lord deputies, some 
of whom, like Sir John Stanley, and lord Furnival, incurred enormous 
debts which they left unpaid. They complained also of the hostility 
shown to the Anglo-Irish in England, however loyal they might be as 
subjects, hostility which was carried so far as to exclude Irish law 
students from the Inns of Court in London, and to cause a variety of 
obstructions and annoyances to Irish students attending the English 
schools, although the statutes concerning absentees contained an express 
exception in favor of studious persons. Thus were even those of English 
descent made to feel daily more and more painfully the alien and unkind 
sentiments with which eveiything pertaining to Ireland was regarded 
in England. 

Many entries meet us in our searches through the Irish annals, 
which show that even in the dreary period that we have been just 
exploring, men were not always occupied with war and rapine. The 
magnificent Franciscan monastery of Quin, in Clare, was founded by 
Sheeda Cam MacNamara in 1402 ; and in 1420, James, earl of Desmond, 

attended king Henry V. in one of his Freuch wars, and gained great eclat by their T\ilJ Impetu- 
osity and heroism in battle. 


erected the abbey of the same order at Eas Gephtine or Askeaton, 
where the noble ruins, washed by the tide of the Deel, still remind us 
of days when religion exulted in its pomp as well as in Its fervor. Several 
of the Irish chiefs gave edifying evidence of repentance in their deaths; 
and some of them assumed the religious habit, as Turlough, son of Niall 
Garv O'Donnell, lord of Tirconnell, who died in the monastery oi 
Assaroe in 1422, causing his son, another Niall Garv, to be inaugurated 
in the chieftainship. Gilla-na-neev O'Heerin, the author of a valuable 
Irish topographical poem, often quoted by our antiquaries, died in 1420, 
and the obituaries of some other persons, distinguished for historical 
knowledge, are mentioned under that and the following year, as David 
O'Duigennan, Farrell O'Daly, oUav of Corcomroe, and Gillareagh 
O'Clery of Tirconnell. 



State of Ireland on the Accession of Henry VI. — Liberation of Donough Mac 
Murrough. — Incursions of Owen O'Neill. — His inauguration. — Famine. — The 
" Summer of slight acquaintauce." — Distressing State of Discord. — Domestic 
War in England at this Period. — Dissensions in the Pale. — Complaints against 
the Earl of Ormond. — Pi-ocecdings of Lord Furnival. — Pestilence. — Devoted- 
n«6S of the Clergy. — The Duke of York in Ireland. — His Popularity. — Confesses 
his Inability to Subdue the Irish — His subsequent Fortunes and Death in Eng- 
land. — Irish Pilgrimages to Rome and St. James uf Compostella. — Munificence 
of Margaret of Olfaly — Her Banquets to the Learned. — The Butlers and Ger- 
aldines take opposite sides in the English Wars. — Popular Government of the 
Earl of Desmond. — He is unjustly Executed. — Wretched Condition of the Eng- 
lish Pale. — Fatal Feuds and Indifference of the Irish, and Cotemporary Dis- 
orders in England. — Atrocious Laws against the Irish. 


Popes: Eugenius IV., Calixtus III., Pius II., Paul III., Sistus IV., Innocent VIII.— Kings of 

P"rance: Charles VII., Louis XL, Charles VIIL— Kings of Scotland: the First, Second, and 

Third James. 
Joan of Arc Burned by the English as a Sorceress, 1434.— Constantinople taken by the Turks, 

1453._Pnnting Invented by Guttenberg, 1440, and introduced into England by Caxton, 

1471. — St. Thomas a Kempis died, 1471. 


(a.u. 1422 TO 1485.) 

ENRY VI. was proclaimed king of England while y^* 
an infant, not quite nine months old; and those who go- 
verned diu'ing his minority found the English colonv 
in Ireland in a very precarious state at the time thev 
entered on their duties. In 1423, Donnell O'Neill, cliief 
of Tyrone; his old competitor for the chieftaincy, Owen, 
son of Niall Oge O'Neill; Niall O'Donnell, chief of Tir- 
connell, and several other princes of Ulster, laid aside 
their feuds for the moment in order to make a combined 
inroad on the English of that province. They mai'ched 
first to Duiidalk, thence to the town of Louth, and sub- 
sequently into Meath, where Richard Talbot, archbishop 
of I)ul)1in, who then filled the office of lord deputy, 


attempted to arrest their progress, but in vain, his army having been 
routed with considerable loss. Finally, peace was mad^ with the Irish 
after they had obtained enormous spoils, and levied a tribute or bla-ck 
rent on the wealthy burgesses of Dundalk. The following year James, 
earl of Ormond, came to Ireland as lord lieutenant with an English 
army, and mustering a strong force he hastened to avenge the colonists 
on the northern chieftains. He ravaged the plains of Armagh and part 
of Moi:aghan. The O'Neills of Clannaboy, O'Hanlon, and MacMahon 
were driven, cither by necessity or private jealousy, to fight on the 
English side, and the men of Tyrone and Tirconnell retired to their own 

A.D. 1425. — Edward Mortimer, earl of March, having assumed the 
government of Ireland, landed here with a large army, according to the 
Irish annals, in September, 1424, but according to English authorities, in 
the preceding year. The year after his arrival he died of the plague 
at his residence in Trim; and Talbot, lord Furnival, who succeeded him 
in office, came suddenly on a number of Ulster chieftains, who were nego- 
tiating peace with earl IMortimer at the time of his unexpected death. 
These chiefs were carried prisoners to Dublin, and their seizure pro- 
duced the utmost excitement in the north. Owen O'Neill was ransomed, 
but how the other prisoners eventually got off we are not told. The 
annals add that the Clann Neill tl^en arranged their mutual differences, 
and recovered by their united force all the lands which they had lost in 
their contentions. 

A.D. 1428. — Donough MacMurrough, son of the celebrated Art Mac 
Murrough Kavanagh, was this year liberated from the Tower, after an 
imprisonment of nine years. The Irish annals say he was ransomed by 
his people, the Irish of Leinster. On his return to Ireland he resumed 
the honors of his hereditary chieftaincy, and Avith its honors its chival- 
rous resistance to the English ; as we find that in 1431 he made an in- 
cursion into the county of Dublin, and that in a battle fought on that 
occasion he was victorious in the early part of the day, although in the 
evening the English rallied, regained the captured spoils, and killed 
many of his men. One of the O'Briens and two sons of O'Conor Kerry 
were in MacMurrough's army at the battle, and the O'Toole fell into 
the hands of the English. MacMurrouiih took reveno;e the followinir 
year by another incursion, and a battle in which he routed the English 
and made several prisoners. 

A.D. 1430. — Owen O'Neill led an army this year into Louth and 
devastated the English settlements there. He burned the castles which 


defended Dundalk, and made the inhabitants of that town pay tribute. 
He then marched into Annaly and Westmeath, spreading desolation 
wherever he went ; the English were obliged to purchase mercv at a 
dear rate, and several Irish chiefs, as O'Conor Faly, O'Molloy, O'Madden, 
Mageoghegan, and O'jMelaghlin, acknowledged him as their lord para- 
mount by the old form of accepting stipends from him. The history of 
the time is made up of such driftless hostilities, which served only the 
purposes of personal revenge or plunder, and left the fate of the country 
imtouched. On the death of Donnell O'Neill, of the Henry Avry 
branch, who w^as killed by the O'Kanes, in 1432, Owen O'Neill was 
regulary inaugurated at Tullaghoge as chief of the Kinel-Owen. This 
year Manns MacMahon committed frequent depredations on the 
English, and was in the habit of placing their heads on the stakes 
which enclosed his garden at Baile-na-Lurgan, where the town of 
Carrickraacross now stands. 

In 1433 the O'Neills and O'Donnells waged a terrific war against each 
other; and to add to the misfortunes of the country, a famine prevailed; 
so that the season was afterwards known as " tlie summer of slight 
acquaintance," from the selfish distance and reserve which the dearth 
created among friends. In 1434 the chiefs of Tyrone and Tirconnell 
once more combined to invade the English districts and to enforce the 
tribute which they had imposed on Dundalk ; but, on this occasion a rash 
movement on the part of some of the young O'Neills led to the loss of a 
battle and the capture of Niall Garv O'Donnell, who was taken off to 
England and confined in the tower. In 1439 this heroic chieftain was 
removed to the Isle of Man to negotiate for his ransom, but he died 
there, and, to the exclusion of his sons, his brother Naghtan O'Donnell 
was installed chief of Tirconnell. 

The feuds and alliances which alternated in such rapid succession 
among the Irish chieftains appear to us, at this distance, to have been 
in the utmost degree capricious and uncertain; but the most melancholy 
feature in the social picture was the unprincipled competition for the 
chieftaincy by which the ruling families in almost all the independent 
territories were torn into factions. The old law of tanistry was per- 
verted or trampled under foot by the ambitious. Brothers were arrayed 
against each other, and uncles and nephews wei'e engaged in perpetual 
warfare. At the time we are treating of, Owen O'Neill, prince of 
Tyrone, had to defend himself against his kinsman Brian Oge O Ncill, 
and was ultimately banished by his own son Henry. A few years later 


(1452) Naghtan O'Donnell was murdered at night by the two cuns of 
his brother Niall Garv, whom he had disinherited. In 1437 the indomi- 
table O'Conor Faly had the mortification to see his brother, Cahir, 
leagued against him for a time with tlie English. Brian and Manus 
MaeMahon contended for the chieftaincy of Oriel, and in the south, 
Tiege O'Brien, chief of Thomond, was in 1438 deposed by his brother 
Malion. In Connaught the insignificance to which the leading septs 
had been reduced by their family divisions has rendered it unnecessary 
for us for some time past to notice their still uninterrupted broils. 
That such a state of things should have prevailed in Ireland, where 
anarchy was rendered in a manner inevitable by the conflicts of the 
hostile races and the absence of a controlling power, is perhaps not to 
be wondered at. But at this period England herself presented in the 
struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster an example of the 
same kind of family warfare, on a gigantic scale, and at an enormous 
sacrifice of human life. 

Nor was the English Pale all this time free from dissension. About 
the beginning of this reign a violent feud broke out between the earl of 
Ormond and the Talbots, and continued to disturb the country for many 
years. A parliament, held in Dublin, in 1441, acting under the influence 
of Richard Talbot, archbishop of Dublin, and brother of lord Furnival, 
adopted certain statements or articles, the object of which was to prevent 
the re-appointment of the earl as lord-lieutenant. They prayed the 
king to appoint a " mighty lord of England " to the office, on the 
ground that the people would more readily favor and obey him than 
any man of Irish birth ; as Englishmen " keep better justice, execute the 
law^s, and favor more the common people than any Irishman ever did, 
or is ever likely to do." They urged that the earl of Ormond had lost 
all his castles, towns, and lordships in Ireland ; that he was too old and 
feeble to take the field against the king's enemies, and made sundry other 
charges to show his unfitness for the office.* These accusations did not 
appear to weigh with king Henry, for the earl, who was a staunch sup- 
porter of the house of Lancaster, was re-appointed lord4ieutenant the 
next year. Sir Giles Thorndon was, however, sent over to observe how 
things were going on, and he made a report, although only in general 
terms, on the factions which distracted the king's subjects in Ireland. 
Two years later (1444) he made a second report, in which the earl of 

* Proceedings of the Piivy Council, vol. vL 


Ormond was directly charged ,vitli misappropriating part of tlie puLlic 
revenue, with compromising crown debts for his own benefit, and with 
sundry acts of corruption, peculation, &c. The earl was, upon this, 
arrested and confined in the tower on a charge of high treason, and Sir 
John Talbot, then earl of Shrewsbury, but better known to the reader ag 
lord Furnival, was made lord lieutenant (144G), and soon after created 
earl of Waterford and baron of Dungarvan.* 

A.D. 1446. — The earl of Shrewsbury succeeded in establishing peace 
on the borders of the Pale. I^his remarkable man always achieved some 
important exploits on his appointment to the government of Ireland. 
His fame was world-wide. The English boasted that he won for them the 
kingdom of France : and all the English power in that country was unques- 
tionably centered in him. Yet this great captain and extraordinary man 
was able to do no more on this occasion in Ireland, with the aid of an army 
which he had brought Avith him from England, than to compel O'Conor 
Faiy, an Irish chieftain in the very heart of Leinster, to make peace 
M'ith the English government, to pay for the ransom of his son, and to 
send some beeves for the use of the king's kitohen ! A fact worth 
volumes in illustrating the precise extent of the English power in Ire- 
land more than 270 years after the invasion by Henry Il.f 

A.D. 1447. — Ireland Avas at this period seldom free from pestilence, but 
this year a destructive plague raged in the summer and autumn, and 
carried off, it was said, 700 priests who had fearlessly exposed them- 
selves to its fury in the discharge of their sacred duties.^ The plaguo 
was also rife the following year in Meath. 

A.D. 1449. — Thedukeof York, who was nephewof the last earlof March, 
and inherited his right to the earldom of Ulster and other Irish titles, 

* In tlie letters conferring these honors the countrj- from Youghal to AVatcrfurd is describcfl as 
■waste, and redounding more to tlie king's loss tlian to his [)rotit ; but the barony of Dungarvan was 
soon after restored to tiie earl of Desmond, from whom it had been taken on that occasion on some 
unexplained grounds. As an instance of t!ie pretexts for which the petty wars of the jiiriod were 
sometimes carried on, we are told that the son of liermingham, lord of Loutli, was, in 1443, offended 
at Trim bj' the son of Barnwell, treasurer of Meath, who gave him a caimin or tilip on tlie nose. 
Enraged at the insult, young Berminghani left the ti>wn privately and repaired to (('Conor Faly, 
who was only too happy to have one English party to aid him against another. A plundering furay 
ensued, and Bemiinghain I'ljtained ample bUtisfaction, at the same time that Calvagh O'Conur 
secured his own dues from the English of Utialy. "Never was such abuse belter revenged," 8a\s 
Dudley Firbi*', " tlian the said caimin." 

+ The Irit^li annals add that the earl of Shrew >bury took the lands of several Englishmen for tie 
king's use, and that he made tlie Dalton prisoner, and turned him into Lough Dulf. — Lmuky Firhisi 
Afihrtk, quoted in note to Four Masters, vol. iv,, p. O.'il. 

J In this year an absunl law was passed by a parliament held in Dublin, which enacted that any 
man who did not .-.liave his upper li(> might be treated as au "Iribh enemy," and this law rcmaiui J 
unrepealed until the sec lul \car of ('iK-irU's JL 


■was appoiuted lord lieutenant for a period of ten years witli extraordi- 
nary powers and privileges, and with a grant of money from England 
to carry on the gOA^ernment, in addition to the crown revenues of 
Ireland.* The appointment of a prince of the royal blood to the 
government of Ireland was always sure to be popular ; and in the case 
of the duke of York, the connection of his family with this country, 
and his own honest principles and amiable disposition, procured for him 
the sympathy and confidence of all parties in Ireland. Some of the 
native chiefs showed him the most marked respect, and gave him, say 
our annals, as many beeves for the use of his kitchen as he chose to 

A.D. 1450. — The son of the chief Mageoghegan was at this time 
committing great depredations on the English of J\Ieath. He burnt 
Rathguaire, or Rathmore, Killucan, and several other places in that 
territory, and at length the duke of York led an army against him, 
under the royal standard, to Mullingar, where Mageoghegan came at 
the head of a strong body of cavalry to oppose him. The duke chose 
not to risk a conflict, and agreed to terms of peace, forgiving Ma- 
geoo-hen-an for all his ao-rrressions. He then wrote to his brother, the earl 
of Salisbury, to state that unless he received an immediate supply of money 
from England, and was enabled to increase his army, he could not 
defend the land against the Irish, or keep it in subjection to the king; 
and that rather than Ireland should be lost through any fault or in- 
ability on his part, he would return to England and live on his own 
slender means. 

The main object of the English government in sending the duke to 
Ireland, was to remove him to a distance from a scene where his presence 
was dangerous to the reigning house of Lancaster; but the adherents 
of his party did not forget him in what was intended to be his exile. 
In the insurrection of Jack Cade, who was an Irishman, one of the 
objects professed by the insurgents was to place Richard, duke of York, 
on the t^irone. The duke now (1451) thought it right to return to 
England and put himself at the head of his friends, having previously 
appointed as his deputy the earl of Ormond, who, although of the Lan- 
castrian party, was personally attached to him. It is not our business 
to follow him in his proceedings in England ; but when his party was 
defeated, and for a time broken up in 1459, he fled to Ireland with his 
two sons, and was received with entlmsiasm in the Pale, resuming the 

* In 1412 llie Iri^h jnailianient. ioprpseiitin<; to t!:c kinjr tlie miserable state of the country, 
alleged that tho jniWic revenues fell short ol llie iiei-ebsaiy expenditure by i'l,l.J6. 


fanctions of viceroy at the very time tliat an act of altaincler Avas passed 
against liim and his family by the Eiiglish parliament. How he could 
remain at the head of the gov-ernment of Ireland under such circum- 
stances, is one of the anomalies of which our history affords so many 
instances. Subsequently, through the energy of the earl of Warwick, who 
visited Ireland in the course of this war, the Avhite rose of York was again 
in the ascendant. At the battle of Northampton, in 1460, king Henry 
w^as made prisoner, and a compromise w^as entesed into which secured 
the succession, on the king's death, to the duke of York and his 
heirs; the duke, in the meantime, being appointed protector; but the 
queen contrived to rally her party once more, and in the battle of Wake- 
Held, which was fought on the last day of the year 1400, York was 
killed, togetlier with 3,000 of his followers, among whom were several 
Irish chiefs from Meath and Ulster. 

The events recorded in the Irish annals during the years over which 
we have just gla^iced, are, in m:iny cases, full of interest, and serve to 
throw light upon the state of society. Several pilgrimages to Rome 
are mentioned almost every year. In 1444 we are told, that the bishop 
of Elphin and many of the clergy of Connaught and of other parts of 
Ireland repaired to the eternal city, and that several of them died there. 
Pilgrimages to St. James of Compostella were also frequent among the 
Irish chieftains at that period, and even some of the Irish ladies accom- 
panied their lords on tliat long journey. Calvagh O'Conor, the veteran 
chief of Offaly, went on the great Spanish pilgrimage in 1451, and in 
the same year is recorded the death of his wife, IMargaret, daughter of 
O'CaiToll, king of Ely, a woman in whose praises tlie Irish annalists 
are enthusiastic* Calvagh himself died in 14.58, and was succeeded 
by his son. Con, who inherited his father's chivairy. 

* The literati of Ireland and Scotlaiul were entertained by tins ^.largarct at two memorable 
feasts. At the lirst, which was held at Killeigh, in the present King's county, 2,700 ffuests, all 
skilled in poetry, or music, or historic lore, were present. The nave of tlie great churcli of Ha Sinchell 
(St. Seanchan) was convened, fer the occasion, into a hiinquetting hall, where Mari,';aret lierself inaug- 
uidted the proceedings by placing two ma.ssive chalices of gold, as olTerings, on llie high ahar, and 
committing two orplian children to the charge of nurses to be fostered at her expense. Kobtd in 
cloth of gold, this illustrions lady, who was as distinguislied for her beauty as for hsr generosity, 
sat in queenlj' state in one of the tralleries of the church, surrounded by the clergy, the brelums, 
and her private friends, shedding a lustre on (he scene which was pas.siiig below ; while her husband, 
who had often encounttred Lngland's greatest generals in battle, remained mounted on a charger 
outside the church to bid the guests welcome and see that order was preserved The invitations 
were issued and the guests arranged according to a li,-t prepared by O'Conor'.s chief brehon ; and 
the second entertainment, which took place at Kathangan. was a .sui>pieineiital one, t<. embrace such 
men of learning as liad not been brouglit together at the former feait. Dudlcj Firbis's Anncih, 
(luoted in note to Four iNIasters, vol. iv., p. 972. This queen of offaly is also celebrated for con- 
fctrucling roads and bridges, building churehes, and causing ilkiniii..ited niis.-)als to be wntlcii. ILr 


The (jreraldines adhered to the house of York and the Butlers to that 
of Lancaster, " whereby," says Sir John Davies, " it came to pass that 
not only the principal gentlemen of both those surnames, but all their 
friends and dependants did pass into England, leaving their lands and 
possessions to be overrun by the Irish."* In this manner the Pale 
became more and more restricted, until half of Dublin, half of Meath, 
and a third part of Kildare were reckoned in the border territories, 
where the English law was not fully in force. 

A.D. 1462. — On the accession of Edward IV., son of Richard, duke of 
York, to the thi'one, in 1461, the earl of Kildare was lord justice of 
Ireland. The king's brother, the duke of Clarence, was then appointed 
lord lieutenant, and FitzEustace, afterwards lord Portlester, was sent 
over as his deputy. He found Ireland p>unged in a war between the 
young earl of Ormond and the earl of Desmond. A pitched battle was 
fought between them at Baile-an-phoill, now Pill town, in the county of 
Kilkenny, Avhen the earl of Ormond's army was defeated with a loss of 
four or five hundred men. His kinsman, MacRichard Butler, was taken 
prisoner, and part of the ransom given for him was the copy of the 
Psalter of Cashel now preserved in the Bodleian library .f After the 
battle the Geraldines took Kilkenny and other towns of the Butler's 
country; but the earl of Ormond shut himself up in a strong position, 
and soon after received some aid from England, under one of his 
brothers, who captured four ships belonging to the earl of Desmond, and 
thus the power and courage of the Butlers once more revived. 

Thomas, who had succeeded as eighth earl of Desmond, on the death 
of his father, James,t in 1462, and was appointed lord deputy the 

daughter, Finola, took the veil in the convent of Cill-Achaidh (Killeigh, in the King's counlv), 
in 1447, after having been the wife, first of O'Donnell, and then of Hugh Boy O'Neill. She was, 
say the annalists, "the most beautiful and stately, and the niest renowned and illustrious woman 
(.f her time in all Ireland, her own mother only excepted." 

* Discovery, <fc., p. 6.5. 

f The following memorandum, made in Irish by MacRichard himself, appears at f d. 11.5 of the 
al>>ve mentioned interesting MS., "A bles.-iingon the soul of the archbishop of Cashel, i. e. Kichard 
O'Hedigan, for it was by him the owner of this book was educated, namely, Edmond, son of 
Richard, son of James, son of James, (the first earl of Ormond). This is (lie Sunday before 
Ciiristmas, and let all those who shall read this give a blessing on tiie souls of both." The arch- 
bishop here alluded to is the same mentioned above, p. 319. MacRichard Butler died in 1064. 

t This James, who increased enormously the wealth and power of his family, obtained the earl- 
dom by the expulsion of his nephew, Thomas, the sixth earl, who incurred the displeasure of liis 
friends and retainers by a romantic marriage. It appears that earl Thomas being benij^hted while 
l-amting in the neighbourhood of Abbeyfeale, obtained a lodging in the house of William Mac- 
Cormic, the owner of that place and a member of the ancient family of MacCarthy. MacOorinic 
had a daughter, Catherine, with whose beauty the j-oung earl was so captivated that he married 
her in spite of the remonstrance of his friends ; but this union was treated as derogatorv to the 
honor of the Geraldines; he was abandoned even by his retairiers, and iiaving been thrice expelled 


following year, was a great favorite of king Edward's. Several of the 
Irish chieftains, and such Anglo-Irish lords as the Burkes, who seldom 
had any intercourse with the English authorities, came to DubHn to 
meet him, and entered into friendly relations with him. In 1406 he 
commanded an army of the English of Meath and Leinster against Con 
O'Conor Faly; but his army w^as routed, and he himself, with several 
of his leading men, Avere taken prisoners. Among these were Christopher 
Plunket, William Oge Nugent, Barnwell, and the prior of the monas- 
tery of our Lady of Trim. Teige O'Conor, who was the earl's brother- 
in-law, conveyed the captives to Carberry Castle, in Kildare, Avhere th^iy 
were subsequently rescued by the English of Dublin. Plundering 
parties from Offiily were now in the habit of scouring the country as ^ar 
as Tara to the north and Naas to the south ; and the men of Breffhy and 
Oriel devastated all Meath, without any attempt on the part of the 
English to oppose or pursue them. In the south, Teige O'Brien, lord 
of Thomond, crossed the Shannon and plundered the territory of 
Desmond. He made himself master of the county of Limerick, 
obtained a tribute of sixty marlcs from the citizens of Limerick for 
sparing their city, and compellod the Burkes of Clauwilliam* to acknow- 
ledge his authority. 

A college, which was afterAvards munificently endowed by his suc- 
cessors, w^as founded at Youghal, in 1464, by the earl of Desmond, who 
next set on foot a project for establishing an university at Drogheda. 
But, while thus intent on the social improvement of the country, and 
acquiring deserved popularity for himself; the career of this nobleman 
Avas cut short by a foul act of legalised murder. It is stated that he 
incurred the enmity of the queen, Elizabeth Woodville, for having 
advised Edward IV. to divorce her, on account of the lowness of her 
birth, and that it was by secret instructions from her that he was put to 
death.! The story is very probable ; but it is at all events certain that 

by his uncle, he formally surrendered the earldom to him, in 1418, and retired to France, where he 
died at Rouen, in 1420. Such is the story given by Lodge and traditionally preserved; but O'Daly 
(p. 36 of the Rev. Mr. Meehan's translation,) assigns rebellion as the cause of earl Thomas's 
e.xpulsioa. James then procured the conlirmation of the earldom to himself and his heirs by act 
of parliament. He purchased from Robert FitzGeoffry Cogau a grant of all his laiiils, comprising 
about half the kingdom of Cork, as that part of ancient Desmond was then called; and in 1444 
he obtained a patent for the government or custody of the counties of Limerick, Waterford, Cork, 
and Kerry, with a license exempting him for life from attending parliament ia person and fron 
Ultering walled towns. — Four Masters; Cox; ArchdalVs J.ndge. cfc. 

• The baronies of Clanwilliam in the counties of Limerick and Tipperary are contiguous, and 
,"^<e their name from a branch of the Burke family. 

t See the Rev. C. P. Meehan's Translation of O'Daly's Gtraldints, in Duffy's AiJrarj/ of Ireland, 
where the story is circumstautially related, pp. '^'J, 40. Also Cox and Uolinshed. Mr. Moore, 


in 1467 ho was superseded in office by Jolm Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, 
and that in the February of the following year he was seized and 
beheaded at Drogheda, on the flimsy charge of alliance, fostering, etc., 
with the Irish.* This monstrous crime, committed in the name of 
authority, astounded the country, and the earl's sons took up arms against 
the government. Tiptoft returned to England soon after, as if he had 

ulfilled a specific mission; and the earl of Kildai'e, who had been 
included with the earl of Desmond in the act of attainder, made his 

scape to England, and pleaded his cause before the king, who pardoned 

im, and appointed him lord deputy. Tiptoft soon after suffered by 
the same kind of death which he had inflicted on Desmond. 

During the remainder of the reign of Edward IV. and those of his 
nominal successor, Edward V., and of the usurper, Richard III., our 
annals still abound in materials, although the numerous events recorded 

n them at this time form no connecting links of importance in the chain 
of our history. The English power in the Pale was reduced to its 
lowest point of weakness. Sundry plans for defence were suggested in 
the Avretched condition into which the colonists had f;dlen. A military 
society or confraternity, luider the name of the Brothers of St. George, 
was got up ; but the whole of the standing army of the English in 
Ireland, even with their assistance, amounted only to about I'OO men. 
At another time they Avere reduced to so low an ebb that a force of 
eighty archers on horseback and forty mounted spearsmen constituted 
the Avhole of their military establishment ; and as it was doubtful whether 
the revenue of the Pale could furnish the sum of £600, necessary for 
the mahitenance of this little band, it was provided that England should 
contribute the balance. Yet the native Irish never thought of using 
such an opportunity for a national purpose. They made several inroads 
en the English settlements, which were completely at their mercy; but 
ihe animosity with which the Irish. septs fought against each other was 
fully equal to what they exhibited against the Clann Saxon, who Avere, 
in fact, treated as a portion of the original population of the countiy 
The Irish had no leader, no rallying point, no national principle. They 
were still in a state of political chaos ; but things Avere at this time not 
much better in England, Avhere, tAvo kings alternately exchanged places 

however, holds, "that by no other crimes than tliose of being too Irish and too popuhir did 
Dtsinond draw upon hiin^elf persecution." — HiM. of Irtland, vol. iii., p. 189. 

* Wiire and several others give Fob. loth, ll'i". as the date of the earl's execution; but it was 
enly in October that year that Tiptoft tame to Ireland. (See Harris's TaMe). The Four Masters, 
and the .\v!den4a to Grace's Annals, have the date 1478. 


on the tlirone and in the dungeon, pirliaments were makincr contra- 
dictory enactments Avith servile pliability, the heads of princes and 
nobles w^ere daily falling under the executioner's axe, and where in the 
space of thirty years, ^ in the family-quarrel of the houses of York and 
Lancaster, more than 100,000 Englishmen were slain. 

By a law passed in the tenth year of Plenry VI., it was made a felony 
for any subject of the king to sell merchandize in a fair or market 
among the " Irish enemies," in time either of peace or war; it was also 
enacted that any of the " Irish enemies," that is, Irish livino; bevond 
the bounds of the Pale, who, in time of peace or truce, came and con- 
versed among the " English lieges" might be treated as the king's 
enemies. By a law of the fifth of Edward IV. (a.d. 1465), any Irish- 
man found without a " faithfull man of good name in his company, in 
Enghsh apparel," and whom an Englishman should choose to suspect of 
being a thief, or an " intended " thief, might be lawfully killed and his 
head cut off. And a parliament held in 1475 enacted a law by which 
any Englishman Avho suffered injury from a native Irishman belonging 
to an independent sept, might reprize himself on the whole sept or nation. 
These infamous laAvs were directed against the native Irish ; but there 
were others of which the Anglo-Irish might bitterly complain. Thus, 
in 1438 a law was made in England obliging all persons born in Ireland 
to quit the former country within a certain time, except graduates of 
universities,* &c. ; while "another statute was made in Ireland to prevent 
persons from emigrating into England. Thus did the legislature 
ingeniously labor to perpetuate hostility between the two races, while 
even the old English settlei's were made to feel that they were under an 
alien sway. 

* "From various lioer.ces for absence, to avoid the penalties against absentees, granted to 
beneficed clergymen in ihe reigns of Kichard II., and the subsequent kings, it appears that the 
EuLlish universities, and more particularly Oxford, were much resorted to by Irish scholars. (Tu 
1375 two Franciscans of Ennis were sent by the chapter to study at Strasbourg. — Rot. Pat. 49, 
Ed. In., 273)." Grace's annals, p. 97 note. Some magnificent monasteries founded about this 
period by Irish princes, attest the wealth as well as the piety of the native population. Tlius, the 
Franciscan monastery of Monaghan was founded by the MacMahons of Oriel, in 1402 ; that of 
Lis-laichtain, or Ballylongford, on the lower Shannon, by O'Conor, Kerry, in 1470; that of 
Donegal, by Hugh Roe O'Donnell, in 1474; that of Meelick, by O'Madden, in 1479; that of 
Killcrea in east Muskerry, by Cormac MacCarthy, m 1495 ; and that of Croevlea in Leitrim, by 
Owen O'Rourke and his wife, in 15U8. 



Foroearance of Henry VII- towards the Yorkists in Ireland. — The Earl of 
Kildare continues Lord Deputy. — Arrival of Lnmbert Siranel. — His Cause 
Espoused by the Lords of the Pa e. — Coronation of Simnel in Christ's Church. 
— His Expedition to England, — Defeat of Simnel's Army at Stoke. — Pardon of 
his Adherents. — Loyalty of Waterford. — Eirst use of Fire-arms in Ireland — 
Murder of the Earl of Desmond. — Arrival of Sir Fachard Edgecomb. — Another 
Mock Prince. — Disgrace of the Earl of Kildare. — His Quarrel with Sir James 
Ormond. — Perkin Warbeck at Cork. — Sir Edward Poynings Arrives in Ireland 
as Governor. — The Parliament of Drogheda ; Poynings' Act. — The Earl of 
Kildare Attainted and sent Prisoner to England. — His Vindication before 
Henry VII. — Returns as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. — Further Adventures of 
Warbeck. — His last Visit to Ireland. — His Execution. — Transactions of the 
Native Princes during this period. — The battle of Knocktow. — Death of Hugh 
Roe O'JN'eill. 


Popes : Innocent VIII., Alexander VI.. Pius III., Julius II. — Kings of France : Charles VIII., 
Louis XII — Sovereigns of Spain: Ferdinand and Isabella. — Kings of Scotland: James III., 
James IV. — Discovery of Ameriea by Columbus, 1492. 

(from 1485 TO 1508.) 

N the accession of Henry VII., Gerald, earl of Kildare, 
was continued in the office of lord deput}^, as his brother, 
Thomas Fitzgerald was in that of chancellor, and his 
father-in-laAv, Roland FitzEustace, baron of Portlester, in 
that of hird treasurer, although these noblemen, like the 
great majority of the popidation of the Pale, were 
avowed partizans of the House of York.* Throughout 
his reign we find Henry pursuing this temporizing policy 
towards the enemies of his house in Ireland — a policy 
so different from that Avhich he adopted in England, and 
which his cold, calculating, and politic character forbids 
us to attribute to motives of a generous nature. The 
result proved that his usual sagacity failed him in this 

The kiiiji's uncle, the duke of P.cdford, was appointed lord lieutenant of Ir.iand in the room 


instance, as liis Anglo-Irish subjects were not the less disaifected, and 
were the willing dupes of every plot contrived against him. At first he 
introduced none of the Lancastrian party into his Irish councils ; but, 
in November, 1485, the head of this party in Ireland, Thomas Butler, 
seventh earl of Ormond, avIio had been attainted under Edward IV. 
was restored to his honors and lands, and subsequently rendered im- 
portant services to Henry as a diplomatist and general.* 

A.D. 1486. — A contemporary Irish chronicler,! recording the accession 
of this first of the Tudors, says: " The son of a Welshman, by Avhom 
the battle (of Bosworth field) was fought, was made king ; and there 
lived not of the royal blood at that time but one youth, who came the 
next year (1486) in exile to Ireland." So thought the native Irish 
writers, who were but imperfectly informed on the affairs of the Pale, 
and who believed the youth here referred to, namely, Lambert Simnel, 
the mock earl of Warwick, to have been a genuine prince. Young 
Simnel, the son of a tradesman of Oxford, arrived in Dublin tliis year, 
in charge of a priest, named Richard Symons, who acted as his tutor. 
He is described as a boy of prepossessing appearance and princely 
manners ; and according to some accounts he was only eleven years of 
age, although the prince he was chosen to personate, and wdio was then 
a prisoner in the Tower, was in his fifteenth year. 

Henry had before this some suspicion that the lord deputy was 
plotting against him; and early this year he invited him to England, 
on the pretence of consulting him on Irish affairs ; but Kildare mis- 
tiusted the kings object, and as an apology for not complying with the 
royal summons, called a parliament and obtained fi'om the chief lords 
letters which he transmitted to the king, importing that his presence 
was indispensable at that juncture in Ireland. The next moment we 
find the earl receiving young Simnel as a true prince, and embarking 

of the earl of Lincoln ; but in such a case the lord deputy, who resided in the countiy, was the 
actual governor of Ireland. 

* Butler, the seventh earl, was the youngest brother of James, the fifth carl, who was a 
distinguished commander of the Lancastrians, and was beheaded b}' tlie lorkists after the battle 
of Towton field, in 1461. The second brother, John, was sixth earl, and altliough true to the 
principles of his party, was in favor with the Yorkist king, Edward IV., who used to say that 
*' he was the goodliest knight he ever beheld, and the finest gentleman in Christendom." He spoke 
all the languages of Europe; was sent as ambassador to several courts, and died unmarried, on a 
pilgrimage in the Holy Land in 1478. The third, or youngest brother Thomas, mentioned above, 
was ambassador to the courts of France and Burgundy, and died in 1.515, the most wealthy subject 
of the crown of England. He left no sons, and his second daughter, Margaret, was the mother 
of Sir Thomas Boleyu, father of the famous Anna Boleyn. 

t Cathal MacManus Maguire, canon of Armagh and dean of Clo^jLer, the orighul couipll'.r of 
the AnnaU of Ulster, who died in 1498. 

33 i r.EiGN OF iii::;nY vn. 

in his cp.uso. His example was almost universally followed by tlis 
inliabitants of the Pale, who still cherished the memory of the popular 
favorite, Richard duke of York. In vain did Henry exhibit the real 
2arl of Warwick to the gaze of the citizens of London. These v/ere 
convinced ; but the Anglo-Irish were not yet undeceived, and insisted 
that the person wliom Henry had put forward was the counterfeit, and 
their's the genuine prince. Octavianus de Palatio,* archbishop of 
Armagh, saw through the Simnel imposture, and endeavoured, but in 
vain, to expose it. The bishop of Clogher, the families of Butler and St. 
Laurence, and the citizens of Waterford,also remained faithful to the king. 
Margaret, duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward IV., was supposed to 
be the chief contriver of the scheme ; and lords Lovell and Lincoln, the 
latter a nephew of the late king, arrived from her court in Ireland, in 
1487, with an army of 2,000 Germans, enlisted in Simnel's cause, under 
the command of a veteran soldier, named Martin Schwartz. Simnel 
was then solemnly crowned iji Christ's Church on Whitsunday, Avith the 
title of Edward VI., in the presence of the lord deputy, the chancellor, 
the treasurer, the earl of Lincoln, lord Lovell, and many of the chief 
men of the kingdom, as well ecclesiastical as secular. The diadem used 
in the ceremony is said to have been taken from a statue of the Blessed 
Virgin, in the church of Sainte Marie del Dam;t and the mock king 
was then carried in triumph from Christ's Church to Dublin Castle on 
the shoidders of a gigantic Anglo-Irishman, popularly called Great 
Darcy of Flatten. 

Simnel was next conveyed to ETigland. where he landed on the coast 
of Lancasliire with an army composed of some Anglo-Irish and of the 
Germans already mentioned. Here they were joined by Sir Thomas 
Broughton with a small force, but in their march through Yorkshire 
the aid which they expected did not appear ; and in a desperate battle 
at Stoke, in Nottinghamshire, they were utterly routed by the vanguard 
of king Henry's army. Simnel's army consisted of only 8,000 men, 
of whom 4,000 were slain with all the leaders, Including the earl of Lin- 
coln, lords Thomas and Maurice FitzGerald, Sir Thomas Broughton, and 
Schwartz. Simnel himself and Richard Symons were made prisoners 
and dealt with rather mercifully ; for while the latter was consigned to 
perpetual imprisonment, the youthful tool of the conspirators was only 
condemnetl to act as turnspit in the king's kitchen, and was subsequently 

* He is also called Octavianiu Italicus, and was a native of Florence. 

t For the identification of the name of this clii«ich, situated near DameVgate, see Gilbert's 
History of Dublin, vol. ii., pp. 1 and 256, 

SIR niciiARD l:.v3eco-mb s mission. 335 

promoted to tlie rank of falconer. The earl of Kildare and otlier 
Anglo-Irish lords involved in the mad scheme, but who did not accom- 
pany Simnel to England, sent messengers to crave the king's pardon, 
and Henry seems to have contented himself for that time with sendin*^ 
them a sharp reprimand. He was unwilling to dispense with the earl's 
services, or drive him into determined hostility, so he retained him 
in his ofRce of lord deputy. To the citizens of Waterford Henry wrote 
commending their loyalty, and giving them liberty to seize for the use 
of their city the ships and merchandize of the rebel citizens of Dublin;* 
and when the latter applied in abject terms for forgiveness, and endea- 
voured to exculpate themselves by throwing the blame of their ridiculous 
revolt on tlie earl of Kildare, Henry does not appear to have noticed 
their communication. 

The Srst mention of fire-arms in the Irish annals occurs in the year 1487, 
when one Brian ORourke was slain by Hugh O'Donnell, surnamed 
Gallda or the Anglicised, "with a ball from a gun;" and the followino- 
year cannon make their appearance, the earl of Kildare having, in an 
incursion into Mageoghegan's territory, demolished the castle of Balrath 
(Bile-ratha), in the present barony of Moycashel, in Westmeath, with 
ordnance. James, the ninth earl of Desmond, was murdered in his 
castle, at Rathkeale, in 1487, by his own attendants, at the instigation, 
as the Irish annals say, of his brother John, who, as well as the others 
implicated in the murder, was banished by his brother Maurice, who 
succeeded to the earldom. The new earl was nicknamed " baccagh," 
or the lame, but his martial career soon caused this epithet to be changed 
mto that of " warlike," as he was engaged in constant wars with his 
Irish neighbours, although it was necessary to carry him to the battle- 
field in a litter. 

A.D. 1488. — Sir Richard Edgecomb now came on a special commission 
from kmg Henry, to exact new oaths of allegiance from the lords and 
others, and to fix the conditions on which the king's pardon was to be 
granted to them. He was attended by a guard of 500 men, conveyed 
in four ships, and landed at Kinsale on the 27th of June, Avhere he 
received the homage of lords Barry and Courcey, and administered the 
oath of fidelity to the inhabitants. At Waterford, where he next 

* It was on this occasion that the title of Urhs intacta was conferred by Henry on Waterford. 
A cotemporary metrical version, or rather am[ililicalion of the letter addressed by the mayor of 
Watcrrord, in the name of the citizens, in reply to the summons received from the earl of Kildare. 
to recognise the mock king, Simnel, is published from a MS. in the State-paper Oihce, in CJroker* 
" Popular Songs of Ireland." 


arrived, Sir RIcliard V7as received with great honor by the citizens, who 
urgently entreated that if tlie earl of Kildare were again to be invested 
with authority, their city, to which for its loyalty he was always hostile, 
might be exempted from his jurisdiction, and from that " of all other 
Irish lords who should ever bear any rule in that land ; and might hold 
Immediately of the king, or of such English lords as shall fortune 
hereafter to have rule in Ireland." The commissioner next proceeded 
to Dublin, and took up his lodgings in the convent of the Friars 
Preachers. He was informed that the earl of Kildare was absent on a 
pilgrimage, and his first interview with that nobleman did not take 
place until seven days after, in St. Thomas's Abbey,' Thomas-court, 
when the commissioner read the king's letters to him and introduced the 
object of his mission. This parley did not end satisfactorily, and the 
earl retired to his house at Maynooth, where Sir Richard was subse- 
quently induced to visit him, and was splendidly entertained. But the 
politeness and hospitality shown to him did not prevent the commis- 
sioner from remonstrating against the delays which took place, and the 
obstacles thrown in the way of an arrangement. He used strong and 
threatening w^ords, but the lords of the Pale, on their side, told him, 
at one of their interviews, that sooner than submit to the terms he 
proposed they would join the Irish. At length there was an amicable 
settlement. The earl did homage before the comimissioner in the great 
chamber of St. Thomas's Abbey. He was then absolved from the excom- 
munication which he had incurred by his rebellion ; and during the 
celebration of mass in a private chapel of the abbey, he took the oath of 
allegiance on the Most Holy Sacrament. The bishops and nobles who 
were implicated with him in the late revolt took the same oath. Sir 
Richard then suspended round the earl's neck a gold chain which the 
king had sent him ; and all proceeded from the private chapel to the 
church of the abbey, where a Te Deum was chanted by the choir.* 
With great difficulty the commissioner was subsequently induced to 
grant the royal pardon to Thomas Plunket, chief justice of the Common 
Pleas, who had been one of the most active of Simnel's partizans ; but 
no solicitation could induce him to extend the amnesty to Keating, the 
refractory prior of the knights of St. John of Kilmainham, who had 
committed innumerable frauds and outrages, had expelled and imprisoned 
Marmaduke Lomley, the lawful prior, and continued to usm'p that 

* See the Diary of Sir Richard EdgecornVs Voyage inlo Ireland, published in Harris's fli6er«tco. 
Sir Kitliaid sailed from Dalkev on tlie 30th of Julv. 


dignity, as -uell as the ofRce of constable, or governor of Dublin Castle. 
The following year Kildare and several other Anglo-Irish lords waited 
on the king at Greenwich, in obedience to a royal summons ; and at a 
banquet to which Henry invited them they were attended at table by 
their late idol, Lambert Simnel, who was taken for that occasion from 
his duties in the kitchen. 

A.D. 1492. — After what had so recently passed, it is hard to imagine 
how sane men could have allowed themselves to be duped by another 
plot of a mock prince ; yet the intriguing duchess of Burgundy tried 
the experiment once more, and with some success. On this occasion 
she selected a boy named Peter Osbeck, but commonly called Perkin 
Warbeck, a native of Toiirnay, in Flanders, and had him trained to repre- 
sent Richard, duke of York, one of the two young princes, sons of 
Edward IV., who were murdered by Richard III. in the tower. He was 
sent into Portugal in 1490 to await a favorable opportunity for inti'o- 
duction to the public, and this occasion seemed to present itself in 1492. 
The king, urged by some suspicions which appear to have been ground- 
less, had deprived Kildare of the office of deputy, and serious disturb- 
ances had follow^ed in the Pale. Sir James Butler, or Orrnond, as he 
is called in the annals, natural son of John, earl of Ormond, who died 
in Jerusalem on a pilgrimage in 1478, came to Ii'eland about this time, 
after a long absence, and by the aid of the O'Briens, the MacWilliams 
of Clanricard, and others, endeavoured to get himself acknowledged 
head of the Butlers, while his uncle, Thomas, earl of Ormond, Avas on 
diplomatic service for the king in Fi'ance. This illegal conduct did not 
prevent king Henry from appointing Sir James lord treasurer of 
Ireland, in the room of FitzEustace, while Walter Fitzsimons, arch- 
bishop of Dublin, was appointed lord deputy. The earl of Kildare did 
not submit peaceabl}' to the indignity to which, through the medium 
of Sir James Ormond, he was subjected ; and, in some tumults which 
ensued, he burned Sheep-street, now called Ship-street, which adjoined 
the Castle of Dublin, but was then outside the city walls. He also with- 
drew his protection from the English of Meath, who had refused to take 
part in his quarrel, and the spoliation of their territory in every direction, 
by the Irish, was the consequence. 

At this juncture, when England was besides involved in a war with 
France, young Warbeck made his apjiearance at Cork, where he arrived 
in a merchant vessel from Lisbon, and announced himself as Richard, 
duke of York. He w\as well received by the citizens, and John Water, 
or Walters, a respectable merchant who had been mayor of the city, 


338 nEIGN OF HENRY Til. 

Avarmly" esponsed his cause, wHcli soon after excited great enthusiasm 
on an invitation being received by Warbeck from the king of France to 
visit liis court. At tlie French court Warbeck was received with royal 
honors, but this demonstration was speedily followed by the result which 
it was intended to produce, namely, a peace with Henry ; and the im- 
postor retired to Flanders, where the duchess of Burgundy welcomed 
him as her nephew, and called him " the White Rose of England." 

A.D 1493. — Towards the close of this year Sir Robert Preston, first 
viscount Gormanstown, was made lord deputy in the absence of tlie 
archbishop of Dublin, who was sent for by the king to give him an 
account of the state of Ireland. Sir James Ormond also repaired to 
Eno-iand, and the earl of Kildare, fearing the machinations of such 
enemies, hastened thither, but did not on that occasion succeed in vindi- 
cating himself from the charges made against him. 

A.D. 1494. — ^Alarmed at the state of things in Ireland, Henry now 
sent over Sir Edward Poynings, a knight of the garter and privy coun- 
cillor, to undertake the government. Sir Edward was accompanied by 
some eminent English lawyers to act as his council, and brought with 
him a force of 1.000 men. Determined in the first instance to extirpate 
the abettors of Warbeck, the leaders of whom it was understood had 
fled to Ulster, he marched with a large army to the north ; the earl of 
Kildare, notv.-ithstanding his equivocal position towards government, 
being ia\-ited to accompany him. Not long before this, in an inroad by 
Hugh Oge Mac^ilahon and John O'Reilly, sixty English gentlemen had 
been killed and many taken prisoners ; biit on the deputy's approach the 
Irish chiefs retired to their fostnesses, and finding no enemy to fight with 
he laid waste their lands. A report was then spread that the earl of 
KUdare was conspiring with OHanlon to cut off the English lord deputy, 
and news arrived that the earl's brother had risen in rebellion and 
captured the castle of Carlow. Under these circumstances Sir Edward 
made peace on any terms with O'Hanlon and Magennis, into whose 
territory he had entered, and returning to the south, recovered the 
possession of Carlow castle after a siege of ten days. 

In the month of November this year was held at Drogheda the 
memorable parliament, at which the statute, called after the lord deputy, 
Povnincr's Law, was passed. By this parliament it was enacted that all 
the statutes lately made in England affecting the public weal should be 
good and effectual in Ireland; the odious statutes of Kilkenny were 
confirmed, with the exception of that which prohibited the use of the 
Irish lanffuage, which had at that tiine become the prevailing language 


even of the Pale; laws were framed for the defence of the marches; it 
was made a felony to permit " enemies or rebels" to pnss through those 
border lands ; the general u?e of bows and arrows was enjoined, and 
the war cries which some of the great E/.^lish families had ado])tod in 
imitation of the Irish were strictly forbidden.* The old law called the 
statute of Henry FitzEmpress (Henry II.), which enabled the council to 
elect a lord deputy on the office becoming suddenly vacant l)y death, 
was repealed, and it was enacted that the government should in such a 
case be entrusted to the lord treasurer, until a successor could be 
appointed by the king. But the particular statute known as Poyning's 
act was one which provided that henceforth no parliament should be 
held in Ireland until the chief governor and council had first certified 
to the king, under the great seal, " as well the causes and considerations, 
as the acts they designed to pass, and till the same should be approved 
by the king and council." This act virtually made the Irish parliament 
a nullity; and when, in after times, it came to affect, not merely the 
English Pale, for which it was originally framed, but the Avhole of 
Ireland when brought under English law, it was felt to be one of the 
most intolerable grievances under which this country suffered. 

A.D. 1496. — Sir Edward Poyning's parliament passed an act of 
attainder against the earl of Kildare, his brother James, and other 
members of his family. The charges against the earl appear to have 
been grounded on mere suspicion, but he Avas sent to England, and 
detained there a prisoner; and his countess, it is said, was so deeply 
affected by the event that she died of griof. At length an opportunity 
was afforded him to plead his cause before the king, and the frankness 
and simplicity of his manner at once convinced that astute observer of 
character that he could not have been the political intriguer which his 
accusers pretended. One of the charges agamst him was, that he had 
sacrilegiously burned the church of Cashel ; but to this the earl bluntly 
replied, that he never would have done so " had he not been told that 
the archbishop was in it." This novel defence amused the king; and 
by-and-by, when the counsel against Kildare wound up his charge by 

• See the Irish and Anglo-Irish War cries, e.xplaimd in Harris's Ware, ii. 1C3; and O'Dono- 
van's Irish Grammar, p. 327. They were chiefly composed of the e.tclamation of deliance, abu! of 
alo! and the name, or crest of the family, or place of residence, as, Lumh-diary-abu ! the O'Xeill'n 
war cry, from their creat of the Ked-hand; Lamk-laider-abu! tiiat of the O'Briens, MacCarlliys, 
and FitzMaurices, from the crest of the Right-arm, (Lamh-laider, the " strong hand)," issuing 
from a cloud; the war cry of the Geraldines of Kildare, Cromwlh-abul from Cronni castle in 
Limerick, and that of the Dteniond Cer4dines, Stuaaid-uiu! from their btr'.n^ castle uf Shauiiid, 
Ui ihe same couxity, ^ii. 


vehemently protesting tliat "not all Ireland could govern this man," 
Henry observed, " then he is the fittest man to govern all Ireland." 
Thus the earl triumphed; and the chieftain, O'Hanlon, having come' 
forward to clear him upon oath of the charge of conspiring with him 
against the Eng'.ish lord deputy, Kildare was not only fully pardoned 
and restored to his honors and estates, but by letters patent was made 
lord lieutenant of Ireland, and returned home with greater powers than 
he had ever before possessed ; his eldest son, Gerald, being, however, 
retained as a hostage. 

A.D. 1497. — To return to the impostor Warbeck, he Avas obliged in 
1495 to leave Flanders on the conclusion of a treat}^ between thaS; 
country and England. He then returned to his former friends in Cork, 
but not seeing an encouraging prospect there,* he went to Scotland, 
where he was introduced at the court of James IV. on the recommend- 
ation of the duchess of Burgundy, with all the honors due to his 
ussumed rank. He even obtained in marriage the hand of Catherine 
Gordon, a lady remarkable for her beauty, and related to the royal 
family, being the daughter of the earl of Huntley, and grandaughter of 
James I. Again, however, he was driven from his asylum, James and 
Henry having agreed to a treaty; but the Scottish king generously 
furnished him with a ship to take himself and his wife away, and also a 
small party of armed men ; and once more the adventurer was landed 
at Cork. Here he found no further support, and aA'ailing himself of an 
invitation from Cornwall, he proceeded thither with his wife, four 
Waterford ships sailing in pursuit of the fugitives- Further than this 
it is unnecessary for us to trace the impostor's fortunes, except to state 
that he closed his career at Tyburn, in 1499, the infatuated John Water, 
mayor of Cork, sharing his fate on the scafibld.t 

We have pursued the course of events in the Pale without turning 
aside to those in v>'luch the native Irish were exclusively engaged. 
These latter carried on their mutual vi^ars as usual witliout seeming to 
regard the English as a common enemy, A great war broke out in 1491 
between Con O'Neill and Hugh Roe O'Donnell. In 1493 Tyrone was 

* The accounts of these movements are obscure, but it wouhl appear thai Warbeck in 1495 
visited Ireland with eleven ships supplied by the Archduke ; that by the aid of the earl of Desmond 
an undisciplined army was raised for him in Ireland; that he then laid siege to Waterford, ami 
that the o".tizens, on the approach of the lord deputj- to their assistance, sallied forth and compellal 
Warbeck to raise the siege, three of his ships being captured by the townspeople, and he himself 
forced to return to Cork. "Former historians," saj's Mr. Wright, "have erroneously placed this 
ttiege under vtie year 1497." Hist, of Ireland, vol. i. p. 2CG. 

■f It is Won by of remark that the Four Masters make uo mention whatever of either Siumcl o? 
Warbeck, ::? of any proceediugs relating to them. 


/aid waste by a contest for the succession among the O'Neills themselves; 
and in a sanguinary battle at Glasdrummond Con O'Neill triumohed 
over his opponent, Donnell O'Neill. Hugh Roe O'Donnell then mustered 
a large army in Tirconuell and Connaught, marched into Tyrone, and 
after a furious battle with Henry Oge O'Neill, at Beanna Boirche, in 
the Mourne mountains, returned home victorious. In 1495, ODonnell 
went on a visit to the king of Scotland, and was received with great 
honors. In the Scottish accounts he is called the Great O'Donnell;* 
but nothing certain is knoAvn of the object of his visit. On his return 
he defeated the O'Conors at Sligo, but raised the siege of that town on 
the approach of MacWilliam (Burke) of Clanrickard. In 1497, provoked 
by the dissensions between his sons, Hugh Roe resigned the lordship of 
Tirconnell, which was then assumed by his son Con ; but his second son, 
Hugh Oge, would not consent to this arrangement, and got some of the 
Burkes to assist him with a fleet. Con was defeated in battle, but two 
days after he succeeded in capturing his brother, Hugh, and sent him to 
be confined in the castle of Conmaicne Cuile, in Connaught. Con now 
invaded Moylurg, but was defeated with terrible slaughter by Mac- 
Dermot, in the Pass of Ballaghboy, in the Curlieu mountains; the 
famous Cathach, which the O'Donnells always carried before them into 
battle, being among the spoils which he lost on the occasion.! Con's 
misfortunes did not terminate here. Henry Oge O'Neill judged the 
opportunity a favorable one to avenge the defeat he recently received 
from Hugh Roe, and led an army into Tirconnell. lie first laid waste 
the land of Fanad, and in a battle which ^ he then fought with Con 
O'Donnell, the latter turbulent and ambitious young chieftain was slain 
and his forces routed. Upon this Hugh Roe resumed the lordship; 
and Hugh Oge, who was now liberated, having declined the chieftaincy 
which his father offered him, father and son appear to have ruled their 
principality with joint sway. 

Ever since the pardon accorded to him by Henry in 1494, Garrett, 
earl of Kildare, was constantly engaged in war with some of the Irish 
septs ; but on most of these occasions he acted rather as an Irish chief- 
tain thnn as the deputy of the English king. His sister, Eleonora, was 
married to Con O'Neill, and this alliiince involved him in the numerous 

* Tytler, Hist. Scot,, vol. iv. c. 3. 

t The Cathach (^Preliator;, tlie metallic reliquary or box, in which a portion of the Psalms of 
David, transcribed by St. Coliimbkillp, was presej-ved. It has recently been deposited by its owner, 
.Sir Richard O'DoiineU, in the museum '.f tlie Koyal Irish Academy. The Cathach w.« recovered 
from the .AlacDermotts in 1499, by Hugh Koe O'Donuell, who entered Rloylurg "f ■' a army .'- 
the puriiose. 


feuds of -whicli Tyrone was the theatre. At the instance of Ills nephew, 
Turlough O'Neill, and of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, an ally of Turlough's, 
he marched to the north in 1498, and took the castle of Dungannon by 
the aid of ordnance. The following year Hugh Roe came to the Pale 
to visit the earl, who gave him his son, Henry, in fosterage, notwith- 
standing the stringent laws against this kind of alliance with the Irish. 
This year (1499) the earl marched into Connaught, but only to take 
part in the quarrels of some of the Irish chieftains, for the castles which 
he took from one rival chief he delivered to another, and Mac William 
Burke soon after restored them to their former possessors. In 1500 
Hugh Roe O'Donnell and the lord justice marched in concert into 
Tyrone to co-operate against John Boy O'Neill, from whom they took 
the castle of Kinard, or Caledon, which was then delivered up to the 
earl's nephew, Turlough O'Neill. 

A.D. 1504. — For some time an inveterate warfare had been earned on 
between MacWilliam (Burke) of Clanrickard, styled Ulick III., and 
Melaghlin O'Kelly, the Irish chief of Hy-!Man3^ Burke was the 
aggressor, and the more powerful. This year he captured and demol- 
ished O'Kelly's castles of Garbh-dhoire, now Garbally; j\Iuine-an- 
mheadha, or Monivea, and Gallach, now called Castleblakeny, in the 
county of Galway; and the Irish chief, then on the brink of ruin, had 
recourse to the earl of Kildare for protection. The latter, more desirous 
of curbing the grov/ing power of Clanrickard, with whom he had a 
personal feud, than of restoring peace in Connaught, mustered a power- 
ful army, and crossed the Shannon. He was joined by Hugh Roe 
O'Donnell and his son, and the other chiefs of Kinel-Connell ; by 
O'Conor Roe of Northern Connaught; MacDorniot of Moylurg; the 
warlike chiefs Magennis, MacMahon, and O'Hanlon; O'Reilly; the 
bishop of Ardagh, who v/as then the chief of the O'Farrells of Annaly; 
O'Conor Faly; the O'Kellys; the lower MacWilliams, or Burkes of 
Mayo; and, in fact, by the forces of nearly all Leath-Chuinn, or the 
norther:! ii.jf of Ireland, with the exception of O'Neill. Besides these 
he was attended by viscount Gormanstown, the barons of Slane, Delvin, 
Howth, Kileen, Trimleston, and Dunsaney, and by John Blake, 
mayor of Dublin, at the head of an armed force. Clanrickard, on his 
side, also assembled a very numerous army, his allies being Teige O'Brien, 
lord of Thomond, the MacNamaras and other north Munster chiefs; 
Mac-I-Brien of Ara ; O'Kennedy of Ormond ; and O'Carroll of Ely. One 
of Clanrickard's chief strongholds at this time was the castle of Clare- 
galway, or Baile-an-chlair, and al)out two miles to the north-east of this 


place, on some elevated rocky land called Knoc-tuagli CKnockto^v), or 
the Hill of Axes, his army was drawn up to await the enemy. The 
battle which ensued was one of the most sanguinary and decisive that 
had taken place in Ireland since the invasion; but there cannot he a 
greater perversion of the truth than to represent it, as English historians 
haA'e done, as a battle between the English and Irish, or between the 
forces of the English government and the " Irish rebels." For some 
hours the issue seemed doubtful, but ultimately Clanrickard and his 
allies suffered a total overthrow. Their loss in the battle and flight, 
according to Ware, was 2,000 men. Cox makes it amount to 4,000; 
and that fabulous Anglo-Irish compilation, the book of Howth, raises 
the loss to 9,0'JO ! The white book of the Exchequer asserted, according 
to Ware, as a kind of miracle, that not one Englishman was even hurt 
in the battle, a thing which is quite possible, as there were probably no 
Englishmen actually engaged on either side ; but although nothing can be 
more silly than to boast of the victory as if won by Englishmen, it was in iis 
results a most important one for English interests, by establishing the power 
of the Pale, and inflicting a blow on the Irish chieftains, from which they 
never recovered.* The book of Howth attributes an atrocious expression 
to viscount Gormanstown after the battle. " We have slaughtered our 
enemies," said he to the earl of Kildare, according to this veracious 
authority; " but to complete the good deed we must do the like with all 
the Irish of our own party." As a contrast to wdiich insolence of 
success, Leland candidly observes, that " in the remains of the old Irish 
annalists we do not find any considerable rancour expressed against the 
English; but they even speak of the actions and fortunes of great 
English lords with affection and sympathy."! Kildare, with his usual 
impetuosity, wished to push on to Galway, eight miles distant, the 
evening of the battle, but the veteran O'Donnell recommended him to 
encamp that night on the field, until the troops, scattered in pursuit of 
the enemy, should be collected. The battle was fought on the 19th of 
August, 1504, and the next day Galway and Athenry surrendered to 

•Sir John Davis admits that this battle aros'- out of a private quarrel of theeavl of KiMare. Ware 
does not discredit the report that it owed its oritfin to "a private grudfje bttweeii Kildare and 
Ulick;" Cox alludes to such an opinion in similar terms; and the Four Masters, wiio were not 
accessible to these writers, record the circumstances as we have related them, and in a way which 
leaves no doubt upon the matter. Dr. O'Dcnovan. wh> had every existing record of this trans- 
action before him, says the conflict at Kuocktow was, in fact, a battle between l.e.ith-Chuinn ard 
Leath-Mhogha. the norihern and snuth'-rn halves of Ireland, like the b;ittl'-s of Moy Lena, M >y 
Mucruinihe and Itloy Aivy, where tlu> southerns were as Usual defeated- 'llie iiaii:e U the jjlate !<» 
at present written cither Kiio<:ktow or KnocKuoe 

t Hist. <'f liiriand, booit .li., c. a. 


tlie earl without resistance. Kildare distributed tliirty tuns of wine 
among his army, but whether he paid the merchants of Gahvay for it 
we are not told. He himself, as a reward for the victory, was made a 
knight of the garter. As to Ulick Burke, he escaped, but his two sonS; 
and some say his two daughters also, were made prisoners. 

The only event of interest recorded in the remainder of this reign is 
the death of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, which took place in 1505, in the 
78th year of his age and the 44th of his reign over Tirconnell. He 
was the son of the celebrated Niall Garv O'Doiniell, and was one of a 
long line of heroes. " In his time," say the annalists, " there was no 
need of defence for the houses in Tirconnell, except to close the doora 
against the wind " He was succeeded by his son, Hugh Oge. During 
the reign of Henry VII. the country was frequently visited by pesti- 
lence, and the fearful visitation called the sweating sickness raged for 
several years. 




Accession- of Henry VIII — GcraUl, Earl of Kildare, still Lord Deputy. — His last Transactions 
and Death — lliiirh O'Donnell visits Scotland and prevents an Invasion of Ireland. — Wars of 
the Kinel-Connell and Kinel-Owen. — Proceedini^s of tlie new Earl of Kildarc. — Tiie Earl of 
Surrey Lord Lieutenant. — His Opinion of Irish Warfare. — His Advice to the King about Ire- 
land. — His Return. — The Earl of Ormond succeeds and is made Earl of Ossory. — Wars in 
Ulster. — Battle of Knockavoe. — Triumph of Kildare. — Vain attempts to reconcile O'Neill and 
O'Donnell. — Treasonable Correspondence of Desmond. — Kildare attain in Difficulties. — Etfect of 
his Irish Popularity Sir William Skeifincjton Lord Deputj'. — Discord between him and Kil- 
dare. — New Irish Alliances of Kildare. — His Fall. — Reports of the Council to the King. — The 
Schism in England. — Rebellion of Silicen Thomas. — Murder of Archbishop Allen. — Siege of 
Maynooth. — Surrender of Silken Thomas and Arrest of his Uncles. — Their Cr'ae! Fate. — Lord 
Leonard Gray in Ireland. — Destruction of O Brien's Bridge. — Interesting Events in Oflaly. — 
Desolating War against the Irish. — Confederation of Irish Chiefs. — Fidelity of the Irish to tiieir 
Faith — Rescue of young Gerald Fitzgerald. — Extension of the Gcraldine League. — Desecration 
of Sacred Things — Battle of Belaboe. — Submission of Southern Chiefs. — Escape of Young 
Gerald to France. — Effects of the " Reformation" on Ireland. — Servility of Parliament. — Henry's 
Insidious Policy in Ireland. — George Brown, first Protestant Archbishop of Dublin. — His 
Character. — Failure uf tlie New Creed in Ireland. — Terrible spoliation of the Irish by the Lord 
Justice — Submission of Irish Princes. — Their Acceptance of English Titles and Surrender of 
Irish ones — Henry VIII. made King of Ireland. — Submission of Desmond. — First Native Irish 
Lords in Parliament. — Execution of Lord Leonard Gray. — O'Neill Surrenders bis Territory and 
is made Earl of Tyrone. — Murrough O'Brien made Ear! of Thoniond. — Confiscation of Convent 
Lands.— Effect of the Policy of Concession and Corruption. 


Popes: Julius II., Leo X., Adrian VL, Clement VII., Paul IIL— Kings of France: Louis XI I., 
Francis I. — Emperors of Germany: Maximilian I., Charles V. — Sovereigns of Scotland: 
James IV., James V.. Queen Marj-. — The "Reformation" preached in Germany, 1517. — Found- 
ation of the Society of Jesus, 1534. — Opening of the Council of Trent, 15i5. — Death of Luther, 

(a.d. 1509 TO A.D. 1547J. 

»0 change was made in the Irish government on the accession 
of Henry VIII. Gerald, the veteran earl of Kildare, was 
confirmed in his office as lord deputy, and still carried on 
his forays against various Irish septs. In 1510 he proceeded 
with a numerous army into south Munster against the Mac- 
Carthys, and was joined by James, son of the earl of Des* 
mond. In Ealla, now Duhallow, he took the castle of 
Kantm-k, and in Kerry the castle of Paiiis, near Laune 
Bridge, and Castlemaine. Returning to the county of Li- 
merick he was joined by Hugh, lord of Tirconnell, the son of 
his old ally, Hugh Roe O'Donnell, with a small but efficient 
body of troops. He crossed the Shannon and destroyed a 
wooden bridge which stood over that river at Portcrusha, 
probably somewhere near Castleconnell, but here his progress 
was checked. Turlough O'Brien had collected a lar-^e army composed of 




tl-ie septs of nortli Munster and Clanrickard, and at this point approached 
so close that the men's voices could be heard from the opposite camps 
during the nio-ht: but tlie mornin£T after this bold advance of O'Brien 
found Kildai'e preparing to retreat. The Leinster and Meath troops, 
with O'Donnell's small contingent, were placed in the rear, and James of 
Desmond, with the Munster forces, led the van.* While retiring in this 
order he was attacked by O'Brien, who took large spoils and slew several 
of the English, among others Barnwell, of CrickstoAvn, in Meath, and a 
baron Kent; but the earl succeeded, Avith the main body of his army, in 
reaching Limerick through Monabraher, on the north side of the 
Shannon, and soon after he left Munster. 

A.D. 1512. — The earl once more crossed the Shannon into Connaught, 
and took the castle of Roscommon and that of Cavetown, in Moylurg. 
O'Donnell, who had spent the year 1511 on a pilgrimage to Roma, and 
was engaged since his return in making reprisals on O'Neill for depre- 
dations committed by the latter in Tirconnell during his absence, came 
to the Curlieu mountains to meet Kildare, and renewed the friendly 
relations which must have been disturbed by O'Donnell's hostilities in 
Ulster. Apparently as one of the consequences of this conference the 
earl soon after marched to the north, entered Clannaboy, and took the 
castle of Belfast, and other strongholds. In the course of the following 
year O'Donnell appears to have rendered an important service to the 
English interest. He visited Scotland on the invitation of James IV., 
who treated him Avith great honor, during three months which he stayed 
there, and as we are told that " he changed the king's resolution of 
coming to Ireland as he intended," we may conclude that James medi- 
tated an invasion, from which he was deterred by O'Donnell's advice, 
and by the recollection, probably, of the fate of Edward Bruce. 

The earl of Kildare made his last campaign in Ely O'CarroU, where 
he laid siege to the castle of O'Banan's-leap ; but failing to take this 
stronghold, he retired to Athy, where he died; his death, as some say, 
being caused by a Avound which he had received long before in O'M ore's 
country. The Irish annalists style him the Great Earl, and describe him 
as " valorous, princely, and religious." He was interred in Christ Church, 
and his son, Garrett Oge, or Gerald the younger, Avas chosen by the 
privy council to succeed him as lord justice, and soon after AA-as created 
lord deputy by letters patent. The ncAv earl riAalled his father's zeal 
against the border Irish, and inaugurated his administration by defeat- 

* Ware says that James of Desmond was with O'Brien on this occasion, but the context shew* 
the Four Masters, whom we liave followed, to be correct. 


ing the O'Mores, and slaying in battle fourteen of the chief men of the 
O'Reillys, including the head of the sept. 

A.D. 1514. — When Art, son of Con, who had succeeded Art, son of 
Hugh O'Neill, and Hugh O'Donnell, met this year at Ardsratha, or Ard- 
straw-bridge, in Tyrone, at the head of hostile armies, and separated in 
peace, the annalists attribute the fortunate issue to the interposition of 
heaven. Few, indeed, and brief Avore the intervals in the mutual war- 
fare of the Kmel-Connell and the Kinel-Owen; but if Ave judge from 
the changes Avhich had by this time taken place in their respective 
territorial boundaries, we may conclude that the former of these great 
septs Avere generally the aggressors. The chiefs of Tirconnell had 
succeeded in wresting very large territories from the O'Neills; and by 
the treaty made on this occasion the charters by which O'Donnell 
claimed sovereignty over Inishowen, Fermanagh, and other tracts of 
country formerly belonging to the Kinel-OAven, were confirmed. The 
place where the armies met Avas also considerably within the frontier of 
Tyrone. As to the peace, it was of short duration, for tAvo years after 
we find the same parties again at Avar.* 

A.D. 1516. — A feud broke out between James, son of Maurice, earl of 
Desmond, and his uncle, John. The former Avas supported by Mac- 
Carthy More (Cormac Ladhrach or the " hasty"), Donnell MacCarthy of 
Carberry, and other chieftains of that sept, and also by the Avhite knight, 
the knight of GHnn, the knight of Kerry, FitzMaurice, and O'Conor- 
Kerry; while John was aided by the Dalcassians, with Avhose chiefs he 
was allied by his marriage with More, daughter of Donough, son of 
Brian Duv O'ljrien, lord of Carrigogonnell and Pobblebrien. James 
laid siege to the castle of Lough Gur, but on the approach of John Avith 
the army of Thomond, reinforced by that of the Butler's, he retreated 
without lighting. This feud Avas foUoAved by one between Pierce 
Butler, claiming to be earl of Ormond, and other members of his 

In the meantime the young earl of Kildare succeeded in tah-ing the 
castle of OBanan's-leap, AAdiich his father had besieged in A'ain; and 
the folloAving year (1517) he led an army to Tyrone at the instance of 
his kinsmeji, the O'Neills, Avho Avere as usual in arms against other 
branches of their sept. HaA-ing retaken Dundrum castle, in Lecule, 

* On tlii.- latter occasion O'Donnell also carritd his arms into Connaufrlit, and took the castle of 
Sligobytlhe aid of some cannon -which had been sent to him iiy a Frencli knij^ht who 'riatle a 
pilgrimage to St. Patrick's purgatory in Lough Derg, and had been hospitably entertained by lli" 
chief of Tirconnell. Several other castltfs iii northern Cunnaught were surrejjdered to O'Donntil 
immediately after his capture of Sligo. 


from which the English had been expelled, and vanquished the 
Magenises, he proceeded to desolate Tyrone, and captured and burned 
the fort of Dungannon. On the invitation of O'Melaghlin he led his 
army to Delvin, where Mulrony O'Carroll had committed great depre- 
dations, and had taken the castle of Ceann-Cora. But while he was 
thus occupied, enemies were busily engaged in undermining his position 
with the king; the prime movers of the mischief against hnn being his 
hereditary foes, the Butlers. At first he was able to vindicate himself 
without much difficulty. He repaired to England for that purpose in 
1515, and was successful; but cardinal VVolsey, who had now risen to 
great power, was inspired with an implacable enmity towards him, and 
caused him to be again summoned to England, in 1519; the earl 
appointing his kinsman, Sir Thomas FitzGerald of Laccagh, as his 
deputy during his absence. 

A.D. 1520. — Thomas Howard, earl of Surrey, a man equally eminent 
as a warrior and a statesman, was now sent as lord lieutenant to Ireland, 
where he landed with a force of 1,000 men and 100 of the king's 
guard Kildare was still kept in England, where he remained in igno- 
rance of the machinations going forward in Ireland to collect evidence 
against him One of the principal charges was, that he had VvTitten to 
O'Carroll of Ely, advising him to keep peace with the Pale until an English 
deputy should be sent over, but " when any English deputy shall come 
thither," he added, "then do your best to make war on the English." 
There was little doubt that the earl had written to this effect, O'Carroll's 
brothers having confessed that such a letter had been received, but the 
evidence was not conclusive ; and Kildare, whose former Avife had died, 
having married Elizabeth Gray, daughter of the marquis of Dorset, 
acqun-ed influence at court, through the powerful English friends whom 
this alliance procured him, and escaped for the present. Though 
treated with honor he was not, however, restored to favor, and spies 
w^ere employed to collect evidence against him in Ireland at the very 
time that he formed one of king Henry's retinue in France, at the 
famous meeting of the " field of the cloth of gold." 

A.D. 1521. — Whether Kildare urged the Irish chieftains to rebel, as 
he was accused of doing, or not,* it was evident that a general iL.. \ 

* O'Donnell waited on the earl of Surrey at this time in Dublin, and told him that he had been 
invited to take up arms against tiie English government by Con O'Neill, who said he did so at the 
sug,"-estion of the earl of Kildare ; Surrey, who mentions the circumstance in a letter to the king, 
(state papers, p. 37), says; — "I fynde him (O'Donnell) aright wise man, and as well determyned 
to doo to your grace all things that may be to your cuulcntuciou and pleasure as I can wysh him 
10 Ijee." 


formidable rising was contemplated, although the energy and rapid move- 
ments of Surrey crushed the attempt. The Viceroy first marched against 
0"More, demolished liis castles, laid waste his country, burned the ripening 
crops, and finally compelled him to submit ; but in this expedition he 
narrowly escaped falling into the hands of the Irish. O'CarroU also 
submitted, and Con O'Neill having threatened Meatli with invasion, 
Surrey, by a timely march to the north, averted the blow. However, he 
soon became wearied with the Irish warfare. It seemed hopeless and 
interminable. He had a well appointed army furnished with artillery, 
but amidst bogs and forests, and against an enemy who, while they 
yielded in fi-ont, perpetually harassed him in the flank and rear, he 
could effect nothinnr. He assured the kinfj as the result of his ex- 
perience in Ireland, that by conquest alone could that country be 
reduced to peace and order, while he admitted that there were serious 
obstacles in the way of such a conquest. It would require much time 
and money, and if an attempt were made to reduce the Irish by force, 
they would combine for defence; which union his knowledge of their 
warlike habits, and of the military resources of the country, made him 
apprehend as a formidable danger.* His representations had, perhaps, 

* State Paper-s, xx. — The names and position of the principal independent Irish septs at this 
period, with many other particulars of interest on the condition of the country, are set forth in an 
official document of tlie year 1515, preserved in the English State Paper Office, and printed in the 
first vol. of tlie state papers relating to Ireland. In this document it is stated that the English 
rule only extended over one half of the live counties of Uriel (Louth) Meath, Dublin, Kildare and 
Wexford, and that even within these narrow limits, the great mass of the population consisted of 
native Irish; the English having deserted the country on account of the oppressive exactions to 
which they were exposed. The greater part of Ireland was still in the hands of the " Iri^h 
enemies," *nd was divided into more than sixty separate states or "regions," "sonipas big as a 
shire, some more, some less ;" and these regions were ruled by as many " chief captains, whereof 
« ime called themselves kings, some king's peers in their language, some princes, some dukes, some 
arch dukes, that live only by the sword, and obey no other teujporal person but only him that is 
strong." These independent "captains" or heads of septs were as follows; — in Ulster: O'Neill 
■if Tyrone, O'Donnell of Tircounell, O'Neill of Clannaboy, O'Cahan of Kenrjrht, in Derry, 
O'Dogherty of Inishowen, Maguire of Fermanagh, Magennis of Upper Iveagh, in Down, O'Hanlon 
cf Armagh, and Mac.Mahon of Irish Uriel (iMonaghan). In