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Full text of "The Midland septs and the Pale, an account of the early septs and later settlers of the King's County and of life in the English Pale"

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Rapta sinu subito niteas per saecula caeli, 

Pars animi major, rerum carissima, conjux. 

Mox Deus orbatos iterum conjunget amantes ; 

Et laeti mecum pueri duo limina mortis, 

Delicias nostras visum, transibimus una. 

Tempora te solam nostrae coluere juventae ; 

Fulgebit facies ridens mihi sancta relicto 

Vivus amor donee laxabit vincula leti. 

Interea votum accipias a me mea sponsa libellum. 

Gratia mollis enim vultus inspirat amantem, 

Mensque benigna trahit, labentem et dextera tollit. 

Aegros egregio solata venusta lepore es : 

Natis mater eras, mulier gratissima sponso. 

Coelicolum jam adscripta choris fungere labore, 

In gremio Christi, semper dilecta, quiescens. 

Christus enim servat, servum revocatque Redemptor. 

Usque novissima vox mea pectora personat ilia. 


THE favourable reception of " Celtic Types of Life 
and Art " has emboldened the writer to attempt 
another book on Irish life. This second venture deals 
principally with the history of the original Irish septs 
and the later English settlers of the King's County, 
giving contemporaneous glimpses of the unhappy 
progress of life in the district known as "The Pale." 
It will be seen that the story of the settlers makes 
even greater demands upon the sympathy of the 
historian than that of the Irish septs of O' Carroll 
and O'Connor ; and that, while almost every English 
official propounded his scheme for the settlement of 
the country, the poet Spenser, for a time private 
secretary of the Deputy, Lord Grey, fell most com- 
pletely under the spell of the land, not only writing 
his " View of the Present State of Ireland," but also 
wedding an Irish maid and composing the immortal 
*' Faerie Queen " on Irish soil. 

Subjects of controversy in religion and politics 
have again been avoided because of the conviction 
that there is a common platform on which all Irishmen, 
however opposed in these matters, may meet to con- 
sider the improvement of their country, the promotion 
of its industry, and the preservation of the annals of 
its past. 


Sources and authorities of importance are given in 
every instance. In the second chapter a suggestion 
of the late Mr. T. L. Cooke has been worked out. 

The writer expresses his obligations to the pub- 
lishers, who have spared no expense to make the 
book a success; to the Rev. J. E. H. Murphy, 
Professor of Irish in Trinity College, the Rev. M. E. 
O'Malley, and Mr. E. Fournier D'Albe, B.Sc., his 
brother-in-law, who have given valuable assistance in 
the spelling of Irish names; and to his friend, Mr. 
Thomas Ulick Sadleir, B.L., who has contributed the 
important Appendix on the King's County families 
in the eighteenth century. 

































APPENDIX ........ 293 

INDEX 306 




KEATING, in the preface of his History of Ireland, 
complains of the manner in which the ancient Irish 
have been misrepresented by foreign historians. 
Strabo, for instance, declared that the Irish were 
cannibals. Solinus asserted that there were no bees 
in Ireland a falsehood rebutted by another foreigner, 
Camden, who stated that the multitude of bees is so 
great that they are to be found not only in hives, but 
also in the hollow places of the trees and ground. 
Pomponius Mela represented the Irish as " ignorant 
of every virtue." " That ignorant and malicious 
writer," Giraldus Cambrensis, stated that the kingdom 
paid tribute to King Arthur in A.D. 519, and added 
insult to injury by describing the Irish as an inhos- 
pitable race (gens inhospita), whereas Stanihurst 
testifies to their hospitality in the sentence : " The 
Irish are truly the most hospitable men, and you 
cannot please them better than by visiting them 
frequently and without invitation." Stanihurst him- 
self receives the vials of Keating's wrath for his state- 
ment that " the meanest scullion that lives in the 
English province would not give his daughter in 
marriage to the most noble prince of the Irish " ; and 


for his uncomplimentary remarks to the Irish language, 
which he regretted was not expelled with the Irish 
natives from Fingall, Stanihurst was altogether 
ignorant of the mellifluous language, and, therefore, 
was unqualified, in Keating's opinion, to express his 
views on the subject. Stanihurst went still further, 
and although, as Keating remarks, he had no notion 
of music, harmony, or distinction of sound, had the 
audacity to pronounce the Irish "an unmusical 
nation." Keating wonders that this second Midas, 
on whose head Apollo, the God of song, would un- 
doubtedly have fixed the ears of an ass, had not 
consulted Giraldus Cambrensis, that "inexhaustible 
fund of falsehood," as he elsewhere describes him, who 
states in his History : " I find the diligence of that 
nation praiseworthy in the use of musical instruments, 
with which they are better provided than any other 
nation." This testimony to the musical talent of the 
Ireland of the twelfth century is corroborated by the 
resemblance that has been discovered between the 
Irish melodies and the Norse, which must have been 
familiar to Ireland for some centuries at the time of 
Giraldus, and by the fame of the ancient Irish harpers. 
The present writer has heard people say that the 
Irish peasantry of the present age have no ear for 
music, and that part singing, which comes naturally 
to their Welsh brethren, is only learnt with great 
difficulty by the Celt on this side of the Channel. Be 
that as it may, there are few nations as susceptible to 
the charm of sweet sounds, or as subject to the sway 
of melody; while the Welsh Giraldus praised the 
Irish melodies of his age for their sweetness, swift- 
ness, and " concordia discors." Then Spenser provokes 


Keating's wrath by his audacious attempt to trace the 
pedigrees of the Irish gentry, and to assert that the 
MacMahons, who were lineally descended from Colla 
da Chrioch, son of Eochaidh Doimlen, son of Cairbre 
Lifeachair, Monarch of Ireland, were of English 
extraction, and descended from the house of Fitz Urse. 
Many, too, are the deficiencies of Meredith Hanmer, 
Doctor of Divinity, and the defects of his Chronicle, 
which commences with laudable precision "three 
hundred yeeres after the flood." For had he not the 
hardihood to challenge S. Patrick's right to be called 
the Apostle of Ireland, and to mention his predecessors 
Colman, Declan, Ailbe, Ibar, and Ciaran, and to ascribe 
the discovery of S. Patrick's Purgatory to another 
Patrick, an abbot who lived in A.D. 850. But, worst 
of all, he ventured to deny the Irish origin of our 
island Hercules, Fionn MacCumhail, and to give 
him a Danish (Keating wrongly says " British "> 

In a word, all these writers and others, Barclay and 
Moryson among them, were, according to Keating, 
utterly devoid of the qualifications required by an 
historian, and whether " from malice or ignorance " 
were unfit to essay the task. They seemed to follow 
the example of the beetle which selects the nastiest 
thing, rather than that of the bee which chooses the 
sweetest places to alight upon. They wilfully pass 
over all that was commendable and noble in Irish life 
and customs, and " dwell upon the manners of the 
lower and baser sort of people." Those of us who 
have read the histories of which Keating complains 
can not but feel that he had just cause of complaint ; 
and that the worst types of Celtic life were described, 


while the best were overlooked, simply because the 
writers were " beetles " not " bees." 

But here it to be observed that if the history of 
Ireland has been drowned by the cold water of its 
foes, it has been no less buried under the dry dust of 
its friends, for there can be nothing less stimulating to 
the eager student than the Irish annals, say those of 
the Four Masters. Here a veritable mine of informa- 
tion lies buried beneath a pile of ancient dust, which, 
like the gravel dust of Europe, contain many treasures 
for those who can afford the time and means to dig 
and delve through layers of waste and worthless heaps 
before they strike the vein of ore. 

On the other hand, no one could describe Keating 
as dull. There are many entertaining pages in his 
work, and even if one takes exception to the length 
and doubtfulness of the pedigrees and legends he re- 
cords, one cannot but admire his ingenuity. Is it not 
refreshing to a tired imagination to be informed that 
hundreds of years before the Deluge, Ireland was 
visited by three daughters of Cain, with Seth, the 
son of Adam or MacAdam, the ancestor, doubtless, of 
the MacAdams, who gave their name to Cadamstown ? 
For, as the ancient poet sang : 

The three fair daughters of the cursed Cain, 
With Seth, the son of Adam, first beheld 
The Isle of Banba. 

These distinguished dames, one of whom, Banba, 
gave her name to the island, were followed in remote 
ages by three strangers, Caffo, Laighne, and Luasat, 
precisely "twelve months before the Flood." But 
these unhappy " men of strength and fit for war," 
who were driven here by a storm, were unfortunately 


drowned in the Deluge at a place called Tuath Inbhir. 
But, according to "some records of the kingdom," 
which Keating mentions "out of respect," the first 
really historic personage who visited the island was 
Ceasar, the daughter of Bith, a niece of Noah, but 
whom the patriarch refused to receive into the Ark. 
She and some of her companions, whose names have 
been preserved in the Psalter of Cashel, with due con- 
sideration for future historians, landed in Connacht. 
There Bith, Ceasar's husband, died on Sliabh Beatha, 
now Slieve Beagh, on the borders of Tyrone, where 
his cairn is shown at Carnm6r, near Clones, and 
Ceasar herself died of grief at Carn Ceasra in Connacht 
"six days before the rising of the Flood." Camden 
had, therefore, some ground for his assertion that 
" the island was not without reason called the ancient 
Ogygia by Plutarch, for they begin their histories 
from the most remote memory of antiquity, so that 
the antiquities of other nations are modern compared 
with theirs." 

Noah's descendants in the order Japhet, Ham, and 
Shem seem to have been represented by the ancient 
inhabitants of Eire. Parthalon, a Scythian, with his 
comrades were of the posterity of Japhet, according to 
Dr. Meredith Hanmer and Keating. Parthalon, how- 
ever, who happened to be a parricide, " a boy who 
killed his father," was followed by the furies from 
Greece, and he, with all his followers, died of a plague, 
within the space of a week, at Benn-Eadair, or the Hill 
of Howth, having possessed the plain of Sean-mhagh- 
Ealta Edair (Shan-va-alta-edar), or the old plain of 
the flocks of Edar, which was also called Maghnealta, 
or Moynalty, the plain of flocks, which lay between 


Howth and the Dublin Mountains, or may be the old 
name of Clontarf, as Professor Murphy suggests, the 
flocks being the sea-birds. On the Dublin hills 
near Tallaght there may be to-day sepulchral remains 
of Partholanus and his band ; for Tallaght was known 
to the Four Masters as Taimhleacht-mhuintire-Phartha- 
16in, or the plague-grave of Parthalon's people. In 
the time of Partholanus, according to Hanmer, " many 
of the cursed seed of Cham (Ham) arrived on this 
island with their captain Oceanus, the sonne of Cham, 
called of some Mena, of Moses Mitzraim." These 
were of great stature and strength, and after a time 
engaged in battle with the sons of Japhet, who anni- 
hilated them, but, neglecting the burial of the dead, 
died themselves of the plague which left its name 
to Tallaght. This was the end of Partholanus, 
and the country was desolate once more, " ex- 
cepting a few silly soules scattered in remote 

Then Nemedius, of Japhet's line, came with his 
three sons, and partitioned Ireland between them, and 
in his time, descendants of Shem appeared in the 
shape of "vagabond Africans." These were quite 
celebrated people in their way. They rejoiced in the 
name of Fomhoraigh, which Keating explains as sea- 
robbers, but which is anglicised into Fomorians. 
Piracy was their occupation, as it was of the Vikings 
of a later and more prosaic age. These sea-robbers 
seemed to have been great builders. Keating tells 
us that they built two royal seats, one called Cinneich 
at loubhniallain, and the other, Rath Ciombhaoith in 
Seimhne, for the Nemedians, who rewarded their 
architects by slaying them, and with Irish irony 


giving them a burial in terra firma at Doire Lighe, 
or the stone by the oak tree. 

It would be of great advantage to us if we could 
locate these places. There are, however, many 
localities of the name Cinneich, the head or the hill of 
the horse, which may appear in Kinnetty as well as in 
Kineagh, in the south as well as in the north of 
Ireland. loubhniallain may stand for Uibh-Niallain 
(uibh, abl. case of Ua, grandson, generally written O), 
and would correspond, therefore, with Hy Niallain, an 
ancient tribe, who occupied the baronies of O'Neil- 
land in Armagh. The other place, Raith Ciombhaoith, 
may well be called after Cimbaoth, one of the famous 
trio of kings, who agreed to reign for seven years in 
alternate succession, and who had the good or bad 
fortune to marry Macha of the golden hair, daughter 
of Aedh-ruadh, the first of the three Kings, and 
foundress of Ard-macha or Armagh, and to escape, as 
far as we can tell, from the servitude to which that 
determined dame consigned the sons of Dithorba, the 
third monarch, of whom Tigernach writes. But this 
may be too venturesome an anticipation. It is, how- 
ever, quite possible that Ptolemy, the geographer of 
the second century, refers to the place. For he 
mentions Isamnion Akron, or the Point of Seimhne 
(now Island Magee ?), in which district the Rath of 
Cimbaoth was built. Nor is it improbable that one of 
these " royal seats " was further south. For we are 
informed by Keating that the first battle which 
Nemedius fought with the Fomorians after their 
coming was at Sliabh Bladhma, or the Slieve Bloom 
Mountains, in which district was the ancient Kinnetty, 
mentioned in the Felire of Aengus, which resembles 


Kinneich, as well as O'Neill's town and O'Neill's well. 
Accordingly, it is highly probable that Nemedius, if 
he ever existed, established himself in two roya] seats, 
from one of which he could control the north, and from 
the other, the south, west, and east of the country. 
The necessity of this is apparent when we notice how 
ubiquitous the Fomorians were, the first battle they 
fought being in the midlands at Sliabh Bladhma, the 
next in Connacht, the third in Dalriada in Antrim, 
and the fourth in Leinster. But at last these terrible 
sea-rovers, who had originally established themselves 
in an island off the Donegal coast, known as Tory 
Isle, not, however, from its political aspect, but from 
its torach, or tower-like, appearance, overwhelmed 
Nemedius and his people, and gave their name to the 
Giant's Causeway, which is called in Irish Clochan-na- 
bhFomharach (Clohan a vowragh) or the stepping- 
stones of the Fomorians. 

After the Fomorians came other invaders, the 
Firbolgs and Tuatha-de-Danann. One division of the 
former people landed at Inver Domnainn, the river 
mouth of the Domnann or Firdomnainn, men of the 
deep pits, now called Muldowney, which means the 
whirlpool of the Domnann. and is probably the 
treacherous channel formed by the sea at Malahide. 
It is also interesting to note that one of these Firbolg 
princesses, Eadar, the wife of Gann, one of their five 
commanders, gave her name to the promontory now 
called Howth Head (Howth = Head in Danish, cf. 
German Haupt), but which was then styled Benn 
Eadair, the point of Edar. Ptolemy, the geographer of 
the second century, mentions a place, Edrou Heremqs, 
or desert of Eder, opposite Eblana, ancient Dublin, 


which preserves the name of this lady. It is 
also said to be taken from a Tuatha-De-Danann 
chief, Eadar, son of Edgaeth. The Firbolgs, accord- 
ing to Keating, were the exiled Nemedians, who 
had sailed to Greece to escape the tyranny of the 
Fomorians, and there grew and multiplied until the 
Grecians rose to oppress them. They then set sail, 
and safely landed on the Irish shore. 

The Firbolgs were divided into three tribes. Their 
first king was Slainge, and their last was Eochaidh, 
and for fifty-six years they reigned. Eochaidh, the 
sixth and last of these, was a good and wise monarch, 
who sought to restrain the violence of his subjects by 
making good laws. In his days " peace and plenty 
cheered the labouring swain." For we read that, 
" in his time the weather was temperate and healthy, 
the produce of the earth was not damaged by any 
immoderate rains, and plenty and prosperity prevailed 
throughout the whole island." How pleasant must have 
been the climate of Eire in those days, and how sadly 
it has altered for the worse ! This king is said to have 
wedded Taillte, daughter of Magm6r, the king of Spain, 
in whose honour the assembly of Tailltean was insti- 
tuted by Lewy of the long hand, one of the Tuatha-de- 
Danann kings. Taillte is said to be buried at Tailte (gen. 
Tailltenn), now Teltown, in Meath. As for Eochaidh 
himself, he perished in battle with the three sons of 
Neimhidh, son of Badhraoi, at Magh Tuiridh, the 
plain of the tower, to be identified doubtless with 
Moytura, not far from the interesting village of Cong, 
which, with the ruins of its noble abbey, stands on the 
cumhga or isthmus connecting Loughs Corrib and 
Mask in Galway. Badhraoi is a strange name, and 


may be connected with the old Irish Badh-ruadh> or 
God of Wind, who corresponded with the Gallic deity 
Vintios, and if so would be an instance of the manner 
in which pagan pantheons were filled with deified 
mortals. A short while previous to his death Eochaidh 
had been routed by the Tuatha-de-Danann under 
their king, Nuadha of the silver hand (Airgiod 
lamh). These people are said to have possessed 
wonderful skill in magical arts, by which they im- 
pressed the natives whom they subjugated, and by 
whom they were practically deified after they in their 
turn were vanquished by the fierce Milesians. A 
poem in the Book of Invasions describes by " what 
charms, what conjuration, what mighty magic " they 
won the land. One of their powers was to " raise a 
slaughter'd army from the earth, and make them 
breathe and fight again." Our chief interest in these 
cryptic people is centred in the four curious articles 
which they are said to have brought with them from 
Denmark, namely the Lia Fail, or stone of destiny, 
because a very ancient prophecy foretold that, at what- 
ever place the stone should be preserved a person of 
the Scythian or Scottic race would have the 
sovereignty ; the sword of Lug (Luighaidh) the 
Long-handed, the spear of the same warrior, and 
the cauldron or girdle (coi|\e) of their deity Daghda. 
These settlers occupied the land for "a hundred and 
ninety-seven years," as an ancient poem, preserved in 
the Psalter of Cashel, states with remarkable precision. 
Their divinities were many and various, male and 
female. Keating mentions Badhbha, Macha, and 
Moriogan, and states that the three Danann princes, 
Macuill, Maceacht, and Mac Greine, who divided the 


land between them, were so called from the objects 
of their worship, Macuill adoring a log of hazel wood 
(cuill), Maceacht a ploughshare (ceacht), and MacGreine 
the sun (grian). It is more than likely, however, that 
these patronymics were given for other reasons. In a 
manuscript of the Seabright Collection, used by 
General Vallancey, if we can depend upon him, a list 
of the inferior Tuatha-de-Danann deities is given. One 
of these is Eochaid il-dathach. i.e., Dagh-da. Il-dat- 
hach signifies " many-coloured." Daghda was one of 
the Danann kings. The point to which attention is here 
directed is the name Eochaid, which means horseman, 
and to which we shall return. Suffice it to say here that 
Eochaidh, or horseman, was the name borne by the 
last of the Firbolg kings, by princes of the Tuatha-de- 
Danann, and also by the kings of the Milesians. 

The Milesians came to Ireland, according to the 
"faithful Cormac MacCuillenan in his Psalter of 
Cashel" (so Keating), about 1,300 years before the 
birth of Christ ; but, according to that " idle writer " 
and "inexhaustible fund of falsehood," Giraldus 
Cambrensis, during the reign of Gorgundus, who 
lived not much more than 350 years before Christ. 
This is a difference of nearly 1,000 years, a com- 
paratively short term considering the obscure ages 
of which we are treating. 

The Milesians, or Goidels or Celts, came ostensibly 
to avenge the death of a distant relation, one Ith, 
commander of the Gadelians, " who was inhumanly 
slain in defiance of the established laws of nature and 
of nations " by the three reigning princes of the 
Tuatha-de-Danann. Ith is said to have discovered the 
island with an ancient telescope from the pharos of 


Brigantia, or more probably to have become acquainted 
with it in his piratical raids, or through the political 
relations between the ancient Spaniards and Irish, 
which had been cemented on more than one occasion by 
marriage. At all events, Ith, " the son of Breogan, son 
of Bratna," " son of Magog, son of Japhet, son of Noah, 
son of Lamech " (Psalter of Cashel), and uncle of Milesius, 
encountered the three sons of Cearmad, son of 
Daghdha, kings of the Tuatha-de-Danann, who were 
quarrelling over some family jewels at a place called 
Oileach Neid, on the borders of Ulster, and in a 
charitable, we had almost said Christian, but that 
would have been a slight anachronism, spirit preached 
to them an eloquent sermon of peace and goodwill, 
and induced them to shake hands and be friends. 
Well had it been for Ith if he had not undertaken the 
r61e of peacemaker, for the three brothers united 
their forces against him, and slew him, for all his 
courage and eloquence, as he was returning to his 
ship, with a conscience void of offence and a small 
escort, in Magh Itha. Then Lughaidh, the son of 
Ith, carried back the dead body of Ith to Spain. The 
Book of Conquests states that Tor Bre6gain, the tower 
of Brigantia, was the place. After having exposed 
the slain hero's body on the sea shore, in the sym- 
pathetic presence of the family of Milesius and the 
sons of Breogan, the son related the story of his 
father's " taking-off." The Milesian warriors, stand- 
ing round the speaker in a grim circle, moved by the 
sight of their sweet comrade's wounds, "poor, poor 
dumb mouths," and by the son's " power of speech," 
felt " the dint of pity." Tears trickled down their iron 
cheeks ; and they expressed their feelings after the 


manner of their forefather, and vowed to sacrifice the 
blood of the sons of Cearmad " to the manes of their 
great-uncle," just as the Gauls of Caesar's time 
" sacrificed human beings as victims." Their Celtic 
blood was up, the mischief was afoot. One sympathises, 
however, with the interesting Tuatha-de-Danann princes 
wrangling over heirlooms, and losing their kingdom 
and their beautiful and virtuous princesses, Fodhla 
and Banba, and Eire, who fell in battle with the Goidil. 
The Milesians were a wandering race, who even- 
tually found a resting place in our little island. They 
are said to have been of Scythian blood and Japhet's 
noble line. They had, it is said, some intercourse 
with Moses, but no Irish chronicler gives them a 
Semitic origin, which fact tells somewhat against the 
British- Israel theory. From Magog, the son of 
Japhet, was descended the Scythian ruler, Feinius or 
Fursa, whose son, Niul, is said to have married 
Pharoah's daughter, the beautiful Scota. Their son, 
Gadelus, is the reputed ancestor of the Goidels or 
Gaels. According to the royal records of Tara, he 
was attacked and bitten, when a babe, by a serpent, 
but was healed by the wand of Moses, who is said to 
have foretold that the countries where Gadelus, or any 
of his race should live, would not be invested with any 
reptile or venomous beast. This is said to be the 
reason why the serpent was a favourite device of 
the Milesians, appearing on their banners and in 
their scroll work. The learning of Feinius, or Fursa 
and Niul, his son, was marvellous for their age. 
Niul, we are told in all seriousness, " erected schools 
and seminaries, and taught the sciences and the uni- 
versal languages to the youth of Egypt." Unfortunately 


for his people, Niul sympathised so greatly with 
the down-trodden Hebrews, that he drew upon 
his own race the vengeance of another Pharoah. 
They, under the guidance of Sru, and not Gadelas, as 
Hector Boetius and " such pretenders to history " 
relate, sailed away in four ships to the Isle of Crete, 
to escape the might of Egypt. From Crete they 
removed to Scythia, thence to Gothland, thence to 
Spain, back again to Egypt, back again to Gothland, 
back again to Spain, and, finally, these unsettled, but 
unconquerable colonists, after wanderings to which 
those of " much-enduring " Ulysses and " pious " 
^Eneas were child's play, came to Ireland, where they 
pitched their tents for aye. This is the record in the 
chronicles of Ireland, and, as Keating says although all 
may not assent unless we depend upon their authority, 
it is impossible to arrive at any certainty regarding 
the antiquities and the religious and political state of 
the kingdom. It has been the custom to regard the 
Celts as a branch of the great Aryan race, which had 
its original home in the northern hills of India. But 
some philologists, Prof. Anwyl among them, arguing 
from the resemblance of Celtic forms of speech to the 
Latin, hold that there must have been some common 
centre of Aryan-Celtic speech in Europe, from which 
the Indo-European languages could have radiated 
eastwards and westwards, towards India, Persia, 
Armenia, on the one side, and Greece, Gaul, and 
Britain, Italy and Ireland on the other. This centre 
is supposed to have been the Danube valley of the 
modern Carinthia. But while the Aryan race im- 
pressed its language, social customs, and military ideas 
upon the peoples it conquered, right, left, and centre, 


it was not always successful in making the conquered 
races accept their religious views whatever they may 
have been or in preventing their retention of myths, 
legends, and national folk-lore. This is, probably, the 
reason why so many incongruous ideas are found in 
the Celtic religions. 

The Milesians derive their name from Milesius, or 
Gallamh grandson of Bre6gan (Bryan ?), from whom 
the Brigantes of Spain, according to Keating, were 
descended. Milesius was like Moses in this, that he 
never set foot upon the promised land, dying before 
the expedition set forth to avenge the death of his 
uncle, Ith. However, his widow, Scota, an Egyptian 
princess, and his eight sons, Donn, Ir, Aireach 
Feabhruadh, Arranan, Colpa, Heber, Heremon, and 
Amergin took part in the invasion which the uncles 
of Milesius organised. That expedition was disastrous 
to many of these ; for Scota perished, with five of her 
sons, before the country was eventually divided 
between Heber and Heremon. The grave of the 
heroic Scota, who fell at Slieve Mis, in Kerry, is said 
to be seen between Slieve Mis and the sea, and is by the 
Finglas stream in Glenscoheen, or Scota's grave. 
Bladh, a son of Breogan, was slain on the hills 
which are now called the Slieve Bloom (Sliabh 
Bladhma), an interesting connection with the modern 
King's County. Other Milesian warriors, Fuad and 
Cuailgne, gave their names respectively to the 
mountains of Slieve Fuad, the highest of the Fews 
Range in Armagh and the Cooley Mountains (Sliabh 
Cuailgne) near Dundalk. The brave Tuatha-de- 
Danann princes, whose magic proved ineffectual 
against the Gael, were slain, and their forces scattered 


at the decisive battle of Tailltenn. Then Heremon 
and Heber, sons of Milesius, the former in the north, 
and the latter in the south, reigned peacefully over 
their provinces, until the wife of Heber, coveting the 
three vales of Erin, sowed strife between the brothers, 
who, finally, settled their dispute on the plains of 
Geisiol the modern Geashill in Leinster, where 
valiant Heber fell. Heremon then succeeded to the 
throne, and he was followed by his three sons, after 
whom the sons of Heber Fionn seized the throne, 
which became a bone of contention between the 
descendants of Heremon and those of Heber Fionn, 
and passed now into the hands of one party, and anon 
into the hands of the other. 

Geisioll, or Geashill, in the King's County, is in 
the ancient territory of Offaly. We read in Keating 
(p. 154) that Eithrial, King of Ireland, grandson of 
Heremon, in 2766 A.M., cut down a great wood, called 
Magh Geisile, at lobh Failge, which is the same 
plain of Geashill in Offaly; and another at Magh 
Rath at lobh Eachach. Is it possible to identify this 
latter place with the locality now known as Thomas, 
town, but formerly as Rath, some three miles from 
Kinnetty ? lobh Eachach may stand for the 
O'Eachach, the descendants of the Eochaidh, who 
gave his name to the latter place. 



THE Introductory Chapter dealt lightly with the general 
history of the early peoples of Eire. In this we shall 
deal more particularly with the midlands of Ireland, the 
country around Kinnetty, and shall select the kings of 
the name Eochaidh, who were connected with the 
district. Prof. Connellan gives an interesting note on 
the name Eochaidh in his translation of the Four 
Masters (p. 41): "Eochaidh, pronounced Eochy or 
Eohy, anglicised Achy, and latinized Eachadius, 
Accadius, and Achaius, a name of many kings and 
chiefs, is derived from Each or Eoch, a steed, and 
therefore signifies a horseman or knight." O'Flaherty 
in his Ogygia gives the name as Echod or Etac. 
Donovan in the Book of Rights interprets Eochaidh 
as eques or horseman. O'Reilly in his Irish Dictionary 
gives GocxMt), Eochaidh, a man's name, with genitive 
G^t-AC. In Colgan's Life of S. Nennius the same 
genitive is given. This being aspirated would be 
pronounced Eathach, and is probably the latter portion 
of the name Kinnetty. We shall now see that quite 
a number of kings of the name Eochaid were 
connected in some way with the districts around 

The first of these was Eochaidh Eadgothach 
(2866 A.M.), or as O'Halloran explains it, Eochaidh 
" of many colours." If that be correct it would be 
this Eochaidh and not his predecessor Tighernmhas 



who established the law of colours by which the colour 
of one's coat or dress was regulated, a slave being 
allowed but one colour, a soldier two, an officer three, 
a gentleman who could entertain, four, a nobleman 
five, the bards, historians and royal family six. Another 
derivation of the name would connect it with singeing. 
This would recall the fact that it was an Eochaidh 
who is alleged to have introduced the custom of driving 
horses and cattle between the fires of Beal or the sun, 
on the day of Beltaine (LA t>e,Al-cine), which, accord- 
ing to Cormac's Glossary, means the two fires which 
used to be made by the lawgivers or Druids with long 
incantations, when they drove the cattle between them 
to guard against the diseases of each year. This day 
is said to have been the first day of summer, the first 
of May. O'Donovan's Almanac (Celtic Society) for 
May, 1848, gives " May- Day, i, Monday, La Beall- 
taine, SS. Philip and James, S. Mochoemius, Abbot of 
Terryglass. There is a Bell hill in Clareen, near 
Kinnetty, where S. Kiaran is said to have rung his 
bell, but which is more likely to be connected with the 
ancient fires of Beal-taine kindled originally in honour 
of the Sun-god, but kept burning to the glory of the true 
God by S. Kiaran, who, according to Colgan, " arranged 
that the paschal fire kindled in his monastery should 
not be extinguished." Mr. Cooke, a writer of 1850, 
stated that " this fire still continues to be ignited with 
sparks from flint on every Easter Saturday," The 
next Eochaidh was Eochaidh Faobharghlas, because of 
his green flashing brand. He is said to have been an 
early ancestor of the O'Carrolls, princes of Ely, in the 
present King's County, being descended from Heber 
Fionn. He was a great destroyer of woods, having 


cut down seven forests, one known as Magh Smear - 
thuin with which compare the Irish word Smearoit, 
a burning coal which Keating locates in I've Failge 
(Offaly) also in the King's County. The next Eochaidh, 
called Mumho, was grandson of the last named, and, 
according to Keating, began to reign A.M. 2954 
(B.C. 1050). He is said to have wrested the throne 
from Fiachadh Labhruine, whom he defeated at Beal- 
gadain, a place which may be identified with the 
present Bally gaddy, often known as the " Three 
Sisters," where three roads meet between Birr and 
Leap Castle. He is also said to have fought a battle 
at Claire, Clara or Moyclare, near Ferbane in the same 
county. The Four Masters tell us that this Eochaidh 
was " of Munster." It is probably after him that 
Munster or Mumhan-ster is called. In those days the 
district of Ormonde which embraces the southern por- 
tion of King's County belonged to Munster, being as 
its name implies East Mumha or Munster. There 
are two places near Kinnetty which may be connected 
with this king, Munnu or Money near Frankford, in 
the district of Fearcall, and Lismoney, a hill near 
Knock-na-man, which is derived from Lios or lis, a 
fortified residence, and may mean the fort of Mumha 
or Mumho. This is as probable as the other ex- 
planation, the fort of the brake (Muine), which, 
suggested the name of Moneyguyneen the rabbit's 
brake now the residence of Mr. Assheton Biddulph, 
the Master of the King's County Hunt. It is said 
that a prince of the name Eochaidh lived at a place 
called Raheenevil (or the fort of the burning coal, 
e-Ati-Atl) near Frankford, Birr. The next Eochaidh 
was celebrated as Ollamh Fodhla. or learned doctor. 


The Four Masters and the Book of Clonmacnoise give 
Eochaidh as the name of this Ollamh Fodhla, the 
Irish Confucius. This Eochaidh wore a girdle and is 
said to have loosed it when about to speak at the 
assemblies. He made good laws, such as (i) Let no 
man slay his fellow ; (2) Let not man take of the 
belongings of another man's property ; (3) Let not 
the lips utter what the mind knoweth to be false; 
(4) Man be merciful ; (5) Let man do ever as he 
would be done by. When his son Fionn was going 
to Munster our Irish lawgiver said to him : " When 
mirth and joy prevail, gravity and wisdom are out of 
time. In Muma all is sport and dance and song and 
music and the chase and drink. Whilst thou abidest 
be as Muma in all but the last." Even in these early 
days Munster was famous for the hard drinking and 
fearless riding of its sons. The son of this learned 
monarch was Eochaidh, king of Uladh (Ulidia = 
Ulster) and also Ard-ri or High King. He was 
specially skilful in the management and breeding of 
horses. The next Eochaidh was called Uairceas, from 
the small skiffs which he caused to be made, uairceas 
being the Irish for boat. This boat was doubtless 
similar to the corach or coracle used in the western 
portions of the country. This monarch was twentieth 
in descent from Eochaidh Faobharghlas, the ancestor 
of the O'Carrolls of Ely, and was slain by Eochaidh, 
called Fiadhmhuine the hunter, " because he took great 
pleasure in the chasing of deer and other wild beasts, 
which he frequently hunted in the woody and wild 
parts of the country ; " Fiad means deer and muine 
signifies brake. This hunter of the line of Heremon 
was slain by Luighaidh Lamhdhearg or Lewy of the 


Red Hand, of the line of Heber Fionn and son of 
Eochaidh Uaircheas, the boat-builder. He was suc- 
ceeded by other Eochaidhs, the most important of 
whom was Eochaidh Foltleahan or the Broad Locks, 
who began his reign 254 B.C., and seems to have met 
his end in the district of Ely O'Carroll, of which 
princely line he was also ancestor. For he was slain 
by Fergus Fortamhaill (vigorous), a valiant and 
strong-bodied prince, who may have left his name to 
the Fortal cross roads between Kilcolman and Kin- 
netty. The next Eochaidh was Feidhlioch, who 
commenced to reign about B.C., 64, and who was the 
father of the celebrated Queen Maev (Meidhbh) or Mab 
of Connacht. The king and his counsellors determined 
that a royal seat should be made in Connacht, and 
Tinne, one of the princes of Connacht, having offered 
a site for the palace was rewarded with the hand of 
the princess. The ditch and rath were made, and a 
poet describes how the Rath Eochaidh became known 
as the Rath Cruachan, after Cruachan Crodhearg, the 
mother of the illustrious Mab. Rath Crochan is 
doubly interesting to us because of S. Patrick's visit 
to its fountain, where he had the interview with the 
daughters of the Ard-ri of Ireland, Ethne the Fair 
and Fedelm the Red. In the sepulchre of the kings 
close by this fortress Dathi, the brave Irish prince, 
who is said on good authority to have assisted the 
Romans in the Gallic campaign of 428 A.D., is buried 
according to the Irish poem of Torna-Eices 

Under thee is the King of the men of Fail (Ireland), Dathi son of 

Fiachra, the Good. 

Croghan, you have hidden him from the Galls, from the Goidels. 
Under thee is Dungalach the swift, who led the king (Dathi) beyond 
the seas. 


This Eochaidh was a great prince, he restored the 
laws and encouraged the sciences. 

The next Eochaidh (A.M. 3952. Keating ; Ogygia 
A.M. 3934, B.C. 70) was called Aireamh (grave) from 
having introduced the custom of burying the dead in 
graves, considering it neither decent nor secure to 
raise cairns of stones over their bodies. He was slain 
by Siodhmall (a fairy of the hill). The next Eochaidh 
was called Ainchean, a depraved person who caused 
the unhappy death of two fair princesses, the daughters 
of King Tuathal, and in consequence brought the 
terrible tax called Boroimhe Laighean, or tribute of 
Leinster upon his kingdom. The story is fully given 
in Keating's history. Suffice it to say : 

Two princesses, the daughters of Tuathal, 
The fair Dairine and the lovely Fithir 
Fell by the deed of Eochaidh Ainchean. 

S. Moling in after years obtained a remission of the 
taxes from Fianachta, by a verbal quibble, requesting 
a respite until a certain Monday but employing an 
idiom which meant Doomsday. 

We now come to three celebrated kings, Cathaoir M 
Mor, Conaire and Oilioll Olum. From Cathaoir 
Mor, the father of twenty sons, are descended the 
O'Connors of Offaly, the O'Dempseys of Clanmalire, 
and O' Dunnes through his eldest son, Ros of the 
Rings (Failge), all of whom are leading King's County 
clans. Conary had three sons by Sarah, daughter of 
Conn of the Hundred Battles, called the three Cairbres, 
Cairbre Rioghfhada, Cairbre Baschaoin and Cairbre 
Muisg. From the eldest of these, Carbery Riada, 


called Reuda by Bede (Ecc. Hist, i, i.), sprang the 
Dalriada colony of Scotland : 

The noble tribe of the Dalriads 
Descended from the illustrious Conaire. 

There were two districts of his name, one in Argyle, 
the other in Antrim, to be distinguished from the 
Dalaradia or the Pictish colony in the same territory. 
From that ancient -Irish colony mAtrer- Gaedkil, Arrer 
gale or Argyle, the "land of the stranger" came 
the Stuart line of kings, from which our king is 
descended. Sadhbh, the other daughter of Conn, was 
wedded to Oilioll Olum, from whose second son, 
Cormac Cas the valiant Dalgcais (more generally 
known as the Dalcassian tribe), the O'Bryans, the 
MacMahons and MacNamaras claim descent; and 
from whose blind son Cian, the O'Carrolls of Ely 
sprang. Their brother Eochaidh with seven other 
brothers was slain in the battle of Magh Muchruime. 
Conn of the hundred battles had a famous brother 
Eochaidh Fionn who helped to reinstate Cuchorb, King 
of Leinster, in his kingdom, and routed the Munster- 
men in Leix and Ossory. The Mumonians or Munster- 
men seems to have held possession of Ossory and Leix 
at the time, but Eochaidh beat them at all points. 
One of the battles was fought at Athtrodain, now 
known as Athy, on the river Barrow. The Leinster- 
men followed up their advantage, and almost anni- 
hilated their foe. In gratitude for his services Cuchorb 
made Eochaidh lord of the seven Fothortuaths, while 
his general, Laoigseach (Leeshagh) was rewarded with 
the district of the Queen's County, known as Laeighis 
(Leesh) and anglicised into Leix, the ancient territory 
of the O'Moores. About A. D. 250 we find an Eochaidh 


Kinmarc King of Munster. 1TUt\c-An in Irish means a 
little horse ; m^jic-dC means horseman, while kin may 
represent cean, head, or kinel, tribe. The chief horse- 
man or the tribe of the horseman would be a suitable 
name for an equestrian hero. Another Eochaidh worthy 
of note was king of Ireland from A.D. 358 to 365. He 
was known as Eochaidh Muigmedon or Moyvane, or 
the midland plain, and was the father of the celebrated 
Niall of the Nine Hostages, and ancestor of the 
Southern Hy Nialls, the princes of Meath and the 
O'Molloys of Fearcall, an ancient portion of King's 
County, coterminous with the parish of Eglish, and also 
of the Sliocht Geoilen, or tribe of Cullen, which gave 
its name to Drumcullen, one of the most ancient 
ecclesiastical localities in Ireland, just outside the 
village of Kinnetty. Eochaidh, son of Eana Cinsalach, 
king of Leinster, slew the great Niall, who raided 
Scotland, and is also said to have harried the Loire 
district of France, There was an Eochaidh in the 
sixth century styled Muinreamhair, or fat neck, also 
called Andoid, or the swift. The annals of Tigernach 
for the year 553 A.D. give the note : " The death of 
Eochaidh, the son of king Conla, of Ulster, from whom 
the O'Eachi of Ulster sprang." Keating mentions an 
Eochaidh of Ulster, first king of the Dalnaruidhe. 
Under A.D. 550 Keating gives us Eochaidh, son of 
Daniel, as king of Ireland, whose cousin, Fiachadh, 
engaged in the bloody battle of Folia and Forthola 
against the inhabitants of the districts of Ely and 
Ossory, and obtained a complete victory, slaying num- 
bers of the enemy. Forthola may be identified with 
Fortal in the neighbourhood of Kinnetty and in the 
district of Ely O'Carroll. Another Eochaidh, son of 


the Aoagus, baptized by S. Patrick, reigned peaceably 
at Cashel. In O'Dugan's poem on " the kings of the 
race of Eibhear," there is this mention of him : 

Noble Aongus his son Eochaidh rightly called, 
He thirty years succeeded ; 
Who patient being and prudently stoute, 
His life near Cashel ended. 

In the translation of the Book of Rights (p. 226, 
Celtic Society's Edition), there is an account of S. 
Patrick raising a Danish chieftain of Dublin, one 
Eochaidh Balldhearg, or the Red. The record of this 
curious revival begins 

The day at which Athcliath arrived 

Patrick of Macha of great revenues, 

On the same day cruel death had taken off 

The only son of valorous Ailpin, 

They brought to the descendant of the deacon 

The only son of the king of the Galls, the fierce Eochaidh, 

To the Apostle it was a reproach 

" If thou shouldst bring a soul unto him, 

cleric pure and powerful, 

1 will submit to thee at Coill Cheanainn 

And the Galls of the green lands shall submit to thee. 

They went round him thrice right-hand-wise 

So that he rose up into life 

The comely hero, the noble Eochaidh. 

We have thus seen that Eochaidh was a favourite 
name of the pagan Irish princes, many of whom 
such as Eochaid Faobharghlas, the ancestor of the 
O'Carrolls ; Eochaidh Broadlocks, who was slain at 
Fortal ; Eochaid Munho, who may have given his 
name to Lismoney and defeated his predecessor at 
Ballygaddy near Kinnetty ; Eochaidh Muigmed6n or 
Moyvane, who was the ancestor of the O'Molloys; 
Eochaid Fat Neck, from whom the O'Eachi sprang, 
and Eochaidh, the son of Aongus, who resided at 
Cashel, had various connexions with the midland 


districts of Ireland, especially the vicinity of Kinnetty. 
This would point us to a solution of the name 

Dr. O'Donovan, in a note to a passage on the Four 
Masters, says : " Kinnitty (ce^n eiog) i.e., the head 
of Etech, so called according to a note in the Felire 
of Aengus at the 7th April, from Etech, an ancient 
Irish heroine, whose head was interred there." There 
appears to be some confusion here. Etech was asso- 
ciated with the neighbouring parish of Ettagh, and 
may have some connexion with Kinnetty. But the 
tradition may point to the burial of some ancient relic 
in the place. It has been said that Eathach is the geni- 
tive of Eochaidh t horseman, and taking into account 
the number of Eochaidhs connected with Kinnetty, we 
may infer that they have given the locality its name. 
This inference is strengthened by a find of a small 
equestrian statue which was unearthed from an ancient 
rath on the Castle Bernard estate known as " the 
Moate." This discovery was made in 1850, and is 
described by Mr. T. L. Cooke, of Birr. Some of the 
labourers informed him that they were engaged in 
some work on this rath when they came across several 
large stones weatherbeaten as if they had been exposed 
to the air before their interment. These were two or 
three feet below the surface, and when all the stones 
were laid bare, they presented the form of a cross, 
which was not unknown to the pagan world. Where the 
arms of the cross intersected the shaft this statue of a 
male horse, without legs, measuring seventeen inches 
from head to tail, was found. The bridle of the horse 
serves also as a bit, like those described by Gerald of 
Wales. The saddle has a high cantle and pommel, 


the saddle cloths are well padded, and have invected 
edges. There is a stirrup for the right foot to give the 
rider support when striking, but none on the mount- 
ing side. The Irish used both saddle and bridle in 
ancient times, although this custom w !f h other 
good customs dropped after the decline ana fall of 
Ireland in mediaeval times. For we read in the Book 
of Rights (A.D. 800, p. 208) 

A hundred cows to the brave Ui-Censealaigh, 

A hundred steeds by which power is added to the territory, 

Ten ships, ten bridles, ten saddles. 

The rider is an interesting figure, thick-set, bull- 
necked, clean-shaven, with large and truculent features, 
clad in a large overcoat, of which there is no opening 
in front, and the folds of which are gathered in by a 
large girdle. A long, heavy sword, unlike the short 
Irish weapon, is visible underneath. A light-fitting 
cap covers his head. It was the custom of the Irish 
kings to wear a mantle over their sword when riding. 
In O'Connor's description of the meeting of Oilioll of 
Uladh and Oilioll the Ard-ri (B.C. 594) we are told that 
the Ard-ri dismounted, opened the clasp of his mantle, 
and laid it on the ground. He also loosed the belt of 
the sword and placed it on the mantle, saying " These 
are of peace, let them be hung up in the tent of the 
king." The other king when he saw the Ard-ri stand- 
ing on the ground also came down from his horse, 
loosed the clasps of his mantle ; threw it from him, 
and the sheath of his sword he flung away. 

A remarkable thin^ about this horseman is the small 


cavity beneath his hands, which was clearly intended 
for some object now missing, which might possibly 
have been a model of the Lia Fail, to judge from the 


depth, clear cut and conical form of the cell. In 
Cormac's Glossary there are two lines ascribed 
to Guaire, king of Connaught, on the subject of 
Marcan, a horseman 

In precious stones are hidden great wonders as in 
The stone of Marcan, son of Hugh, son of Marcene. 

One of the Eochaidhs was also called Kenmarc, or 
Chief of the Horse. Another Eochaidh surnamed 
Gunnat, as an Irish manuscript cited by Dr. Petrie 
informs us, removed the Stone of the Hostages from 
Temur and carried it to Cruachan. He also describes 
the Lia Fail as an idol stone. Was this little horseman 
an idol or a statue? It is strange enough that this 
horseman has representations of the three magic 
things the Tuatha-de-Danann brought to Ireland, the 
sword of Lug, the girdle (coire = girdle as well as cauld- 
ron) of Daghda, "which would not fly away from him 
like a hidden stag," and the receptacle for the Lia Fail. 
It is no less strange that the whole vicinity of the 
Slieve Bloom is associated with the horse. Mr. Seward, 
in his Topographia Hibernica, described "a large 
pyramid on these mountains known as Copall-ban, or 
white horse. The present writer has not been able to 
verify this statement ; but he has been informed on 
good authority that there is the shape of a horse 
visible on the hills between Mountrath and Clonaslee, 
not, however, as prominent a land mark as the White 
Horse of Berkshire and its stumpy thorn bush around 
which the armies of Alfred and the Danes met with a 
shock. There is a well in Drumcullen known as the 
Horse Well (cotMj\-e.Ac). The Irish set great store 
on their horses. In the Leabhar-na-h-Uidhri we find 


one Midir of Brigleigh, which may be the same as Brig- 
Eile or Ely-O'Carroll challenging an Eochaidh to a 
game of chess, saying : " I shall have for thee fifty 
dark grey steeds if thou win the game." There were 
clans in the north and south called after Eochaidh, 
even the Hy-Eachach of the townland of Armagh in 
Down, the Hy-Eachaid of Kinelmeaky., Cork. There 
were also Kienachta in Londonderry, and Kienachta 
in Cork. The tribe of the Horseman would be a suit- 
able name for an Irish tuath or district. This in Irish 
would be Kin-Eathach (cine-e^t-Ac). The image of 
the horseman also suggests as a possible derivation 
c-Aon-e.At.Ae, image of horseman, pronounced Kin- 
etta. Either of these derivations would agree 
with the pronunciation of the natives, Kinnetty. 
Could this horseman have been an idol ? We find 
many idols and idolatrous customs connected with 
horses in the ancient world. Herodotus (iv. 71) relates 
a curious custom of the Scythians, who honoured a 
dead king's memory by impaling fifty of his servants 
on fifty slaughtered steeds on the mountain side. The 
Roman Castor and his brother were mounted on white 
steeds. The Northern Woden was represented as 
riding on a white horse. This is possibly the reason 
why the white horse was placed on the arms of 
Hanover. The horse was worshipped by the ancient 
Arabs. The god Irru of Ceylon, corresponding with 
the sun, is mounted on a white horse, which was also 
one of the sacred emblems of ancient Gaul. In the 
Museum at Mayence is a bas relief of Epona, the 
goddess of horses, on horseback ; and a bronze 
image of a horse was found at Neuvy-en-Sullias, and 
is now in the Orleans Museum. The Celts of Ireland 


may have had a god Eochaidh corresponding with 
Epona of the Galli, who had many animal totems such 
as the boar (moch), the bear (artos), the bull (tarvos) 
and the ass (mullo). It is quite possible that idolatry 
or the worship of images although none have actually 
been found was practised by the early inhabitants of 
Ireland. Crom Cruadh was one of the most celebrated 
of these images. He was set up in the plain of Magh 
Slecht in Breffhy, was worshipped by Tigernmhas, but 
was smitten by the crozier of S. Patrick, according to 
the Vita Tertia. Keating informs us of the three 
De Danann princes, Macuill, Maceacht, and Mac 
Greine, who worshipped respectively a log of wood 
(cuill), a ploughshare (ceacht), and the sun (grian), 
and also relates that Cormac Mac Art refused to 
worship " a log of wood fashioned by the workman's 
hand." Some peculiar things have been found and in 
strange places, which may be representations of the 
Celtic Goddess Ana or Earth Mother, who, "with her 
progeny of spirits, springs, rivers, mountains, forests, 
trees, and corn, appears to have supplied most of the 
grouped and individualised gods of the Celtic 
pantheon." (Prof. Anwyl, Celtic Religion, p. 28), 
Cormac's Glossary describes her as the mother of the 
Hibernian gods, because " she fed the gods well." 
There are two hills in Kerry which may be called after 
Ana, Da-chich-Danainne ; also a hill called Chich- 
awn in the Slieve Bloom. Grotesque representations 
of the female have been found in the walls of the old 
church of Seirkieran, and also in the castle of Bally- 
finboy near Finnoe. The late Mr. Cooke stated that 
he had in his possession an image called by the 
peasantry " the witch," which originally stood in 


Cloghan in the King's County, the old name of which 
was Cloghan-na-gcaora, the stone of the sheep, 
which represented an Hermaphrodite, one of the 
breasts being like the sun and the other a crescent like 
the moon. This image may have given its name to 
the neighbouring town of Ferbane, which may be 
composed of fear (man) and bean (woman). It is said 
that the Druids worshipped the Sun-god Apollo under 
the form of an Hermaphrodite. He was worshipped 
by the Celts under various forms, one of his names 
being Borvo, "the boiler," the god of hot springs, 
whence the name Bourbon. Another title was the 
Grannos, or Sun, as in Aquae Granni, the old name of 
Aix-la-Chapelle. Grian means sun in Irish. Now 
the customary offering to the sun was a horse among 
the ancient Persians. Xenophon gave a horse to the 
priest to be sacrificed to the sun, and Pausanias states 
that the Lacedsemonians sacrificed a horse on Mount 
Taygetus to the sun. It is said that the Irish, too, 
burnt a horse's head in the bonfires of the first of May, 
and that the peasantry about Croghan Hill in the 
King's County, distinctly visible from the Kinnetty 
mountains, were in the habit of sliding down the hill 
seated on a horse. We have also some indications that 
the sun was worshipped in the district around Kinnetty. 
Knock-na-man, the hill that was above the village, means 
the hill of the women. Mann also means God. Some 
kind of worship was doubtless offered within the remark- 
able circle on its summit. Clonbela, in the neighbouring 
parish of Drumcullen, means the meadow of Belus or 
the sun (clUAin-toe-Al). We have Bell-hill in Seirkieran, 
where the fires of Beltaine, on the first of May, were 
kindled. We have, in Glendissaun, a glen between 


Forelacka Hill and Glen Regan, which, probably 
means the Glen of the shrubs, but in which there 
may be a reminiscence of the fires of Samhain 
(Sowan) of the first of November. And Coola- 
crease, near Cadamstown, may mean the retired 
place of the sun (crios). While it has been 
plausibly suggested that Lacaroe, the red hill side 
near Cadamstown, was the ancient Tlachtga which 
the Abbe Macgeoghegan stated was in the neighbouring 
parish, Clonlisk, and which was the site of the in- 
auguration of the fires of Beal tinne. Lacaroe lies also 
on the ancient borders of Munster, which embraced 
Ormonde, and Meath which almost touches it. And 
we read (Keating, p. 233) that Tuathal erected the 
royal seat of Tlachtga " in the tract he divided from 
Munster and added to Meath." However, this is only 
conjecture ; for Tlachtga is believed by others to 
be the Hill of Ward near Athboy, but the fact 
remains that there is some connexion between the 
Celtic pantheon and these ancient hills. Lacaroe 
is in the parish of Letter luna, which may be con- 
nected with luan the moon, letter meaning hill-side. 
There are certain stone piles on the top of the dif- 
ferent hills, such as those on Ard-na-h-Eireann and 
Botheraphuca, the road of the Sprite. The latter of 
these is called in Irish " Fear-brogac " (Far breague), 
which means a coarse man and is known as the Hardy 
man. This may be identified with Mercury, who was 
worshipped in Gaul under the form of Jovantucaros 
or lover of youth. It is possible that this equestrian 
image may have been originally an idol, although 
such idols have rarely if ever been found, representing 
some local Celtic or pre- Celtic divinity (for we find 


that the Milesians often assimilated cults they cared 
not to or could not obliterate), attached to the gens of 
the Kin-Eatach or tribe of the Horseman, just as the 
Gallic Essus was the patronymic God of the Essui. 
The early Christian settlers may have buried this 
image and its temple, and ascribed the origin of the 
name to the interment of the head of Etech, a Chris- 
tian saint. Be this as it may, the visitor who makes 
his way through the Slieve Bloom must be awe-struck 
at times by the great sense of solitude and by the 
vastness and silence in which he moves, and which 
suggest the Presence of the Invisible at every step. 
For ought that can be proved to the contrary, this 
district is the cradle of the Irish people, the ancient 
home of the mysterious Tuatha-De-Danann, be they 
people or be they fairies. The latter indeed would 
have had many a suitable Sidhe or abode in the ancient 
mounds and knolls and magic circles of these rolling 
hills, in which the race of Eochaidh the Horseman 
once held dominion. 

NOTE. In the Four Master* Kinnetty is spelt in different ways. 
e.g. 850, Cind Eitig (gen.) ; 884, Cinn Ettic (gen. case) ; 903 ; 
Cindeittig (gen.) ; 1213, Cinneitig (gen.) ; 1397, Chinn Eitig (gen. not 
our Kinnetty). Cf. Cind Fine, or children of the family. The form 
given for year 884, Cinn Ettic, is most in harmony with the spelling 
and derivation suggested in these pages. 

Also as regards the hardening of the aspirated consonants in Leinster 
place-names, cf. " Stoneybatter " and " Booterstown " (formerly 
"Butterstown ") near Dublin. "Batter" or "butter" is the Irish 
bocAft, pronounced boher, as in Boheraphuca. A prosthetic n is some- 
times found, e.g., the old name of Lough Neagh is spelt in the Book 
of Leinster both Loch-nEthach and Loch-Eckach, the lake of Eochaidh 
or Eochy. The former supports the suggested explanation of Kinnetty. 


THE best way, perhaps, to realize what life in an Irish 
sept was like, would be to glance at the annals of some 
of the more prominent and pugnacious of the clans. 
Of these the O'Connors and the O'Carrolls may be 
selected as being the King's County clans. They are 
connected with some of the most stirring events in the 
history of the conquest of Ireland, and proved a con- 
stant source of annoyance to the English Government 
and of anxiety to the English settlers of the Pale. 

The King's County occupies the midland districts 
of Ireland. Sir W. Petty, in his Survey Map (1657) 
marked the site of the old church of Birr as " umbilicus 
Hiberniae," the central point of Ireland. Archbishop 
Ussher mentions that in his life-time a peculiar mass of 
limestone in Birr was considered the centre of Ireland. 1 
This rock stood near the present railway station at 
Seffin or Seefin, the seat of Fin (suidhe Finn) outside 
the town. Athlone is now regarded as the centre of 
Ireland. Giraldus Cambrensis in his " Topography 
of Ireland" (iii. 41), which he read with so much 
pleasure to himself if not to others, before admiring 
crowds in classic Oxford, also described the town of 
Birr as the middle point of Ireland, being situated in 
the very heart and centre of the country, and makes 
some interesting remarks on the colossal stones which 
are found in the country, which he described as chorea 

1 Elrington's Edition, v. 518. 


gigantum, or the dancing places of the giants. It is 
matter of regret that this great stone of Seffin, which 
was supposed to mark the centre of Ireland, was 
removed from its ancient site by Mr. Thomas Steele, 
who had it conveyed to Clare in 1833. 

The present King's County contained the larger 
portion of the ancient kingdom of Hy Failghe or 
Offaly, which also comprised certain districts in 
Kildare and the territory of the O'Dempseys and 
O'Dunnes in Queen's County. From olden times this 
district has been associated with the O'Connor sept. 
In 1170, soon after their landing in Ireland, the 
Normans penetrated into these parts. Hugh de Lacy, 
perhaps the greatest of the territorial barons, was 
slain in n86at Durrow in the northern barony of 
Ballycowan. At the time he was engaged in superin- 
tending the laying of the foundations of a frontier 
castle, for which he had seized portion of the lands of 
the ancient abbey, founded by S. Columba in 546. 
These lands belonged to an Irish chieftain called Fox, 
who sent his foster brother O'Meyey to watch for an 
opening against the ruthless invader and desecrator of 
Celtic sanctities. 

One morning the baron was engaged at the opera- 
tions, and to encourage the Irish men "who had 
prayed to be set on work for hyre," as Campion tells 
us, seized a pickaxe to show them how to work in the 
trench, but as he bent forward with the stroke O'Meyey, 
whose tool he had taken, seized his opportunity and 
struck down the unsuspecting baron with a blow of 
his light axe, and made good his escape to the wood 
of Kill clare or Coill-an-chlair, the Wood of the Plain, 
which is near Tullamore, and is interesting to 


philologists from the fact that kil here,like Kyle in Kyle- 
more, means wood not church. It is also probable 
that Fearcall means the man of the wood rather than 
the man of the churches, although the ecclesiastical 
name Eglish (ecclesia = church) suggests the latter. 
It was a strange coincidence that a Lord Norbury was 
attacked and decapitated by a woodman in the same 
place centuries after. 

The whole district of Offaly was charged in the early 
days of the Norman settlement with twelve knights' 
fees as being part of Kildare, but when the English 
power declined in the following century the Irish clans 
who possessed it not only asserted their independence 
of the Anglo- Irish Government but imposed a heavy 
tax upon the English settlers of Meath and Kildare. 
O'Connor of Offaly at one time received annual pay- 
ments of 60 from Meath and 20 from Kildare. 
The colonists were thus compelled to buy off the 
hostility of the Irish as their forebears in Britain had 
been reduced to purchase peace from the Danes. But 
it was not from cowardice but from want of means 
and men that the English in Ireland were reduced to 
such measures. The terrible invasion of Bruce in 
1314 and the wars of the Roses in which the Anglo- 
Irish took opposite sides, the Ormondes supporting 
the red rose of Lancaster and the Geraldines main- 
taining the white rose of York, had completely drained 
their resources and left them absolutely at the mercy 
of the " wild Irish our enemies " and the " Irish rebels," 
as Richard II. described them in his famous letter. 
In 1480 the whole force at the disposal of " the Castle " 
consisted of eighty mounted archers and forty lancers 
or mounted " spears/' while the revenues reached the 


large sum of 600. Owing to the weakness of the 
Government the English settlers were compelled to 
form a league for their own protection under the name 
of " The Brotherhood of Saint George." This brother- 
hood, consisting of thirteen gentlemen, maintained a 
body of some 200 mounted archers, who were under 
the command of a captain annually elected, and who 
patrolled the borders of the four counties of the 
English Pale. This fraternity of arms was formed in 
1473. The Irish enemies and rebels were not, however, 
to be denied, and often broke bounds in order to harry 
their hereditary foes. Accordingly, Sir Edward 
Poynings, who was sent over to Ireland by Henry VII. 
in 1494 with the twofold object of crushing the 
followers of Warbeck and of thrusting back " the wild 
Irish/' was compelled to adopt other means of defence. 
In the Parliament of Drogheda (1494) chiefly noted 
for its provision that no parliament should in future 
be summoned in Ireland without the king's licence for 
its being held and the consent of the king and Privy 
Council to any bills it sought to introduce, an Act 
was passed enacting that the English settlers in the 
marches should build and keep in repair " a double 
ditch of six feet high above the ground." This ditch, 
according to the wording of the Act, ran : " From the 
water of An liny to the mountain in Kildare, from 
the water of An Liffy to Trim and so forth to Meath 
and Uriel," as Louth was then called. Special care 
was taken to save the wall from trespass of man or 
beast. For any animal found injuring it in any way 
was to be confiscated and sold to repair the ditch, 
which was for " the great succour, comfort and defence 
of the county Dublin." This was at once a summary 


and satisfactory plan for keeping one's fences in order, 
unless indeed the sheriffs sales of those days realized 
as little as those of ours when boycott reduces business 
to a farce. 

These incidents have been mentioned in order that 
the reader may form an idea of the straits to which the 
English settlement was reduced by the Irish clans who 
were no longer scattered remnants compelled to live in 
bog, mountain and forest, but formidable battalions 
elated with victory, and invincible but for their own 
lack of combination and esprit de nation or patriotism 
in the higher sense. In the course of these pages 
other facts will be mentioned which throw light on the 
unenviable plight of the settlers of the Pale, who were 
being slowly but surely crushed out of existence 
between the upper millstone in the shape of the 
English Parliament and officialism, and the nether 
millstone in the form of the Irish septs. Here it is 
sufficient to remark that much misery would have 
been saved both to the English Pale and the Irish 
enemies had the former been either suitably supported 
by the home government, or permitted to conciliate 
the surrounding septs as they desired. 

King's County, on the septs of which we are to fix 
our attention, is an interesting district. In many 
places it is rendered decidedly picturesque in spite of 
its general flatness by the vast extent of bog and 
moorland, whose rich and brilliant colouring and ever 
varying tints of green and brown and gold, especially 
in the setting sun, form a picture not easily transferred 
to canvas. The writer will never forget the wonderful 
landscape and atmospheric effects as he rode along the 
bog road from Tullamore to Kinnetty one evening in 


October. The moon was young and high in the west 
while the western sky was crimson with the rays of 
the setting sun, which suffused the very atmosphere 
with a soft iridescent glow which was Turneresque in 
the extreme. Each small sand hillock, which the 
Irish call mullach, and of which there are a few, on 
both sides of the tochar or causeway, seemed a verit- 
able monaincha or islet in the bog, floating upon the 
white watery mist into which the bicycle kept plunging 
as into successive waves of the sea, but gradually these 
islets vanished into vapour and gloom as the sun sank 
beneath the horizon, leaving the darkness a thing to 
be realized and felt almost as a living presence, visible, 
palpable and most uncanny. As we leave the torach 
we notice that these mullachs are but detached portions 
of the great line of eskers or sand hills which is an 
outstanding feature of the midlands, and is known as 
the Esker Riada or "the Ridge." This Esker extends 
from Dublin to Galway and recalls the time when 
Ireland was either submerged or was in the grip of 
the abiding glacier. It also reminds us of two worthies 
of the olden times, Mogh Nuadhat or Owen More, King 
of Munster, and Conn of the Hundred Battles, King 
of Ireland, the former of whom defeated the latter 
and divided the island with him, taking as his share 
the south, or Leath Mogha, and leaving the north, or 
Leath Chuinn, to Conn. The most prominent of these 
mullachs is the long green ridge, verdant with trees 
and shrubs, that rises like the back of a great whale 
above the parish of Killeigh, or the church in the 
field, with its ancient Celtic shrine, stone roofed and 
nobly arched, from the summit of which a pleasant 
vision of the country can be obtained, its ancient raths 


and cemeteries of the dead. The scenery of the 
country is varied by the beautiful range of the Slieve 
Bloom hills, which forms a striking barrier for over 
twenty miles between the King's and the Queen's 
Counties. From Ard-na-h-Eireann, the Height of Erin, 
1,733 feet, the greatest elevation of these hills, which 
in many places rise to the dignity of mountains, one 
may see eleven counties stretching away to the distant 
horizon, and catch fleeting glimpses of the sea beyond 
the hills of Clare. As one looks to the west, tier after 
tier of mountains rise to the view. A remarkable 
feature of the nearest range is the so-called Devil's 
Bit, the ancient Bearnan Eile or the little gap of 
Eile Bearnan being Irish for a little gap the 
O'Carrolls boundary line. Then as an extension of 
this range rise the Silvermines, with the melancholy 
traces of an abortive enterprise on their barren slopes. 
Beyond these are hills of Newport, denoted by the 
noble Keeper, or Slieve Kimalta, and between Castle- 
town Arra and Killaloe, which is surrounded by great 
dark round hills, the Arra hills rise to a respectable 
elevation, Towntinna among them gazing threateningly 
over the Leinster plains with the graves of the 
Leinstermen on its summit, commemorating the place 
where they took their last look at their native woods 
and died. Behind all these, with the broad Shannon 
and the waters of Lough Derg, tower the mountains 
of Clare, Killaloe and Scariff, where Bryan Boroimhe 
and the scattered remnants of his followers lived in 
the high hills like the wild goats and in the rocks 
like the conies until they found themselves strong 
enough to strike a decisive blow at Sulchoit for their 
homeland against the pagan invader. " For it was 


better and more righteous," they said, " to do battle 
for their inheritance than for land usurped by conquest 
and the sword" (Wars of the G. G., p. 69). And 
behind and above them all the mountains of Kerry, 
great rocky blocks, throw their gaunt shadows over 
the scene. These mountain ranges rise one behind the 
other like dark masses of deepening shade drawn above 
the sky-line, while the great billowy plain that rolls 
away beneath our feet presents a varied landscape of 
bog and wood, plantation and pasture, glen and vale, 
through which streams gleam like silver ribands, as 
they glide along their winding course to pay their 
tribute to the river. Here are quiet hamlets ; there 
solitary homesteads set in brake and scrub, where 
foxes make their coverts. Gently rising hillocks 
capped with green thickets, Golden Grove being 
especially conspicuous for its striking cluster of fir, 
and Knockshegowna or the Fairies' Hill, a solitary 
eminence beyond Birr, with the silver Shannon, the 
noble boundary of the county, shimmering beyond all, 
form an enchanting view even when haze and mist 
blur the picture. Here the sportsman may beguile 
many a tedious hour, whipping the streams, or shooting 
the moors, or walking the hills, or riding to hounds. 
Here, too, the lover of nature may find many an 
object to interest his mind and many scenes to delight 
his soul and quicken his imagination. It is, indeed, 
strange that so few English artists visit the midlands 
of Eire, where the colouring is so rich and varied, the 
air so still and luminous, and the distance forms so 
effective a background. One might go far before one 
could find more charming scenery or breathe sweeter 
air than the Slieve Bloom has in store for the visitor 


to its winding glens, purple hills and tumbling streams. 
On their wind-swept but easily reached and rounded 
summits that rise above the woods and parks of the 
Castletown (Castle Bernard) demesne, one understands 
why the Roman poets Lucretius and Virgil described 
living as feeding on the breezes, for to breathe the 
balmy air is literally to live and emphatically to enjoy 
life. Here, too, we stand on ground prolific with Irish 
memories, for Bladh, who gave his name to these hills 
and whose flagstone is preserved in Lickbla, in West- 
meath, was one of the uncles of Milesius ; and this 
range of hills is immortalized by Spenser as the 
mother of the " Gentle Suir," the " Stubborn Nore," 
and the " Goodly Barrow " 

These three fair sons which being thenceforth pour'd. 
In three great rivers ran and many countries scour'd. 

Slieve Bloom or Sliabh Bladhma, the hill of Bladh 
reaches by no means the highest point in Eire, being 
at its greatest elevation but 1,740 feet above the sea 
level. O'Dugan, the poet, who sang 

Sliabh Bladhma the Fair is over the head 
Of Ossory, above the heights of Eire, 

was, therefore, a little out of his reckoning. But 
standing on the summit of Ard-na-h-Eireann with one 
foot in the King's and the other in the Queen's County, 
one looks down upon a hundred realms of ancient 
Eire, the rich pasture lands of Ely O'Carroll, Leix, 
Offaly, Fearcall, Ossory and other principalities. To 
the plains of Ossory at our feet there is an approach 
through a narrow gorge between two steep hills, 
known as the Gap of Glendine (glen of the race) or 
Gleann-doimhin,deep glen, which might easily be held 


by a handful of determined men against a host. As we 
gaze down upon these storied plains we cannot but recall 
the attack that was made by its chieftain Donough Mac 
Giolla Patrick or Gillpatrick upon the splendid regi- 
ment of the Dal-gCais tribe as they were returning to 
their headquarters at Kincora, Killaloe, from the 
battlefield of Clontarf, where they had displayed a 
courage and devotion equal to that of the Spartan 
band of Leonidas at the pass of Thermophylae when 
the Persian hosts were pouring into Greece, whose 
epitaph ran with Spartan brevity 

Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by, 
That here obedient to their laws we lie. 

The story is told by the Irish chroniclers and his- 
torians and is undoubtedly true. The King of Ossory 
had a grudge against Brian Boroimhe, who for all his 
splendid qualities, was regarded as a usurper by many 
of the Irish chieftains, and formed the design of 
attacking the bodyguard of that monarch as they were 
returning from the sands of Clontarf through his 
country, without their veteran king, and hampered by 
sick and wounded a pitiful but plucky remnant. 
Accordingly he sent a messenger to Donough, their 
captain, as they lay encamped for the night at Athy, 
demanding hostages for the good conduct of his troops 
while passing through his lands or else threatening to 
oppose the march. Amazed at this treachery, Donough 
replied with true Dalcassian spirit that he was prepared 
to meet Mac Giolla Patrick a man for whom he had 
a profound contempt any day in a pitched battle. 
And as the messenger kindly but injudiciously advised 
him to submit Donough ordered him out of his pre- 
sence, saying that he would meet his master and his 


master's men if he had but one man to stand by him. 
The Dal-gCais at once set themselves in battle array. 
The regiment was divided into three companies. To 
one Donough consigned the care of the sick and 
wounded, and with the other two he was marching 
forth, when the wounded soldiers started up and be- 
sought their general not to leave them, but to allow 
them to take their usual place in the ranks. As many 
of them were unable to stand, stakes were cut from the 
trees and driven into the ground, and the wounded 
soldiers were tied fast to these stakes, and each 
stationed between two unwounded men for mutual 
protection and encouragement, while their wounds 
were temporarily stopped with moss. O'Halloran 
writes : " Between seven and eight hundred wounded 
men, pale, emaciated, and supported in this manner, 
appeared mixed with the foremost of the troops ; 
never was such another sight exhibited." The men 
of Ossory, more noble or more prudent than their 
prince, refused to fall upon men who were determined 
to conquer or die, as Moore, the Irish poet, wrote 

Forget not our wounded companions who stood 

In the day of distress by our side ; 
While the moss of the valley grew red with their blood 

They stirred not but conquered and died. 

It is unpleasant to add that Gillpatrick, though 
unable to meet the warrior tribe [in a fair fight, 
succeeded in cutting off a number of stragglers in 
spite of Donough's unremitting and ubiquitous vigi- 
lance. Another Gillpatrick showed more patriotic 
zeal and courage even he who sent the bold message 
by a monk to King Henry VIII. " Stand, my Lord 
King. My Lord Gillpatrick sent me to you and 
ordered me to say that if you will not punish Red 


Peter he will make war against you." " Red Peter " 
was the Earl of Ormonde, the Deputy, who was 
molesting this Gillpatrick. Through these mountains, 
Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, marched in 1600 after 
passing through Fearcall, which submitted to him. 
The Four Masters state that he also despatched three 
plundering parties into the lands of Ely O'Carroll, 
which are commanded by the Slieve Bloom. The 
O'Neill repeated his ravages the following year, when 
he and his allies, as the same authorities relate, " were 
expeditiously conveyed across the Shannon at Shannon 
Harbour ; from thence they proceeded to Delvin Mac 
Coghlan to Fearcall, to the borders of Slieve Bloom 
and into Ikerrin." This time the O'Neill and his 
army were making their way to Kinsale to help the 
Spaniards under Don Juan del Aquila against the 
English forces, commanded by Mountjoy and Carew. 
That expedition ended in disaster. For the Irish 
under O'Donnell and Tyrone were routed, and the 
Spaniards, who had marched out to meet the English 
troops thinking them to be their allies, were compelled 
to surrender, and O'Neill marched northwards to 
surrender to Mountjoy in the beautiful church of 
Mellifont Abbey in 1603 two days after the death of 
the Queen. The O'Neill's Well on the road to Mount- 
rath has possibly older associations, as it did not lie 
on the line of O'Neill's march, and both it and 
O'Neill's town may be a souvenir of the Southern 
O'Neills who had settled centuries before in these parts. 
On these hills there are several cairns, one of which 
stands on Ard-na-h-Eireann, another on a hill near 
Clonaslee, and the third is the Hardy Man of Bohera- 
phuca. And there is said to be another pyramid called 


the Capall ban, or white horse, said to be associated 
with the celebrations of La Belltaine, the first of May, 
when fires were lighted in every territory of the king- 
dom in honour of the pagan god. It is possible that 
these pillar stones and piles had the same origin as 
the Maypole. But be that as it may these piles and 
circles are memorials of the religious ideas of a mind 
that was haunted by stone. There are also some 
specimens of the Irish mote, which is not a deep 
trench but a high rath, one at Castle Bernard and 
another at Drumcullen and others elsewhere, which 
were probably the sites of the dwelling-places of the 
Irish chiefs and nobles or members of the " flaith " 
class, while a chain of forts are found on the Ossory 
side of the Slieve Bloom, and another chain com- 
mands the many tochars or causeways through the bog. 
On the picturesque road to Mountrath hills roll 
away to the right and left, leaving between them 
beautiful glens and river valleys planted thick with fir 
crowned by grassy slopes and here and there by dark 
hills of peat. On the right of the road from Kinnetty 
Knocknaman rises with its fir trees standing like a 
frill on its nearer slope, gapped here and there by the 
storm of four years ago, and with its ancient ring on 
its rounded brow. The bare hill of Forelacka then 
looms past, followed by the long, gently rising mountain 
of Glendissaun, with its great druim or ridge of un- 
reclaimable bogland. As we glance back we catch 
exquisite glimpses of the Shannon and the hills beyond, 
and the plain shimmering in the light of sun and 
sunlit clouds. On the right are the Boro' hill, Glinsk, 
and Letter, all grass-covered slopes reclaimed within 
the past fifty years, and on which an occasional deer 


may be sighted. The road gradually winds up over the 
hills, which seem so close in places that a stone could 
almost be thrown from one summit to another. Deep 
below lies a valley, through which a winding stream 
purls its gentle way over a sandy bed. Here the 
heron may be seen poised not ungracefully on one leg 
fishing, and at the sound of approaching man the 
imperturbable bird calmly spreads its broad wings, 
and in a few seconds has soared out of range. As 
the writer passed through these wind-swept solitudes, 
the afternoon sun lit up the hills in front, while the 
hills behind looked veritable masses of shadow, save 
where the sun, dazzling one's view, lit up the lone 
summit of Forelacka with a circle of bewildering 
brightness. The man who thinks he knows Irish 
scenery has something still in store for him if he has 
not yet seen the Irish sun gleaming on these great 
mountains of green and brown, amid the tears of 
Eire weeping, as one who would never weary of 
lamenting the departed glories of her ancient woods 
and hills, and sorrowing, as one who would not be 
comforted, because the present age with its sordid 
prose has brushed aside as a myth the weird and 
interesting people who worshipped Belus and Ana, 
the host of heaven and the powers of nature, in the 
mists and sunshine of their sympathetic glens and 
hills. Standing on the summit of Knocknaman we 
are within a magic circle of mountains, which recall 
the Welsh hills of Penmahnmawr, whose varying 
shades of brown and green and black on their scarred 
summits, steep sides or gentle slopes form a bewilder- 
ing and dreamy vision as they rise above us or recede 
from us into the distance. 


In the vastness and solitude of these hills " airy 
nothings," mist-like forms " white presences " might 
easily assume a " local habitation " ; and in the midst 
of these deep-bosomed hills the soul of man can 
commune with its Maker in a prayerful silence broken 
ever and anon by the sighs of the wind or the soft 
cadences of the distant streams, or the call of the 
passing bird. And nothing reminds of man save the 
ring forts which are everywhere in points of vantage 
on the hills or in the vales. One of the largest of 
these is on the top of the Comber mountain ; it is 
surrounded by a double ditch and fosse, and is some 
162 yards in diameter. The average diameter of the 
forts which the writer has paced himself is about 53 
yards. Some interesting stones of conglomerate 
formation are to be found in these mountains behind 
Cadamstown. Beyond the marshy slopes of Seskin 
we cross the Kilnaparson river, the boundary between 
the counties, and there on the side of the hill, all one 
great moor save the haggard of the herd and the field 
where we stand, are five conglomerate stones, which 
are simply masses of small pebble cemented and 
solidified doubtless by the action of a glacier laid 
flat over deep holes where interments were evidently 
made centuries back, for the locality is known as the 
Giant's Grave. One of the stones resembles a coffin 
in shape. Another large stone is to be seen in a 
hollow in Ballykelly, Lacaroe, some 200 yards from 
the road, and has the quaint marks of the hoof of a 
great beast, and a huge hand, thumb and fingers, 
which may be a trace of an ancient moraine, and 
which created the impression among the people that 
it was cast there by a giant's hand, which grasped it 


so tightly as to leave its impression on its side. 
Similar stones known as the Bracket Stone are found 
on Borlacan, or the top (Baur) of the hill side (laca.) 
Standing on Borlacan we have an excellent view of 
the surrounding country, the steeples of the Churches 
of Tullamore, and the smoke of the steamers on the 
Shannon being distinctly visible. Thence we see an 
ancient fort on Magherabane or the white plain, facing 
another fort on Letter or the side of the hill. The 
finest of these forts, however, are in the vicinity of 
Leap Castle, one of the O' Carroll Castles, of which 
more will be said anon. There is a ruined castle at 
Cadamstown which belonged to the Malone family. 
Two of the most striking glens on the road to 
Mountrath and well known to sportsmen are the Black 
Stairs, where Glenregan joins Gorteen, and where the 
mountain stream tumbles down zig-zag as down a 
stairs from the dark and gloomy recesses of the hills ; 
and the Black Curragh, where Gorteen joins Letter. 
There is much slate and coal in the heart of these 
ancient hills, as there is excellent limestone on the 
road between Cadamstown and Clonaslee, which is 
bordered by a glen almost as beautiful as the Dargle ; 
but there is no capital, no railway, and no enterprise, 
and therefore it were idle to speculate on possibilities 
which may never be realized ; and yet a true patriot 
cannot but dream of Ireland becoming another Wales, 
and giving out of her deep-bosomed hills the mineral 
wealth which untold aeons have generated and 
innumerable centuries have stored within ; and attract- 
ing to her romantic mountains and fairy glens lovers 
of nature and disciples of sport from every clime. 
There are other eminences that rise here and there 



above the wide sweep of level moor bogland and 
pastures. The Hill of Cloghan, a little distance from 
Shannon Harbour, relieves the monotony of the flat 
plain between the Brosna river and the Slieve Bloom, 
while Croghan Hill, with its quaint top knot, a few 
miles to the north of Philipstown, forms a conspicuous 
landmark for miles. Near it is the famous Tochar 
Cruachan of Bri Eile, which is now known as Tyrrell's 
Pass, and was the scene of many a victory and defeat 
of the O'Connor of Offaly. 

The county abounds in ruins of ancient churches 
and monasteries. Those at Clonmacnoise, Durrow, 
Killeigh, and Seirkieran, are the most remarkable. 
But there are also ecclesiastical ruins of high antiquity 
at Killyon (Killiadhuin) a religious establishment on 
the road half-way between Kinnetty and Birr, founded 
by S. Kieran for his mother Liadana ; Drumcullen, 
Kilcolman and Lynally. The latter place is near 
Tullamore, and preserves the word lann, church or 
sacred land, which occurs so frequently in Welsh 
names. It means the Church of Elo, so called from 
Colman, a nephew of S. Columba, who settled here in 
the wood of Ela (Fidh-Elo) saying : " My resurrection 
shall be there, and I shall be called from that place," 
i.e. Colman-Elo. With regard to Dervorgilla's Church 
at Clonmacnoise, with its classic pillars and its deli- 
cately carved arches, completed in 1180, the late Miss 
Margaret Stokes writes that " no work of purely 
Celtic art, whether in the illumination of her sacred 
writings, or in gold, or in bronze, or in stone, was 
wrought by Irish hands after that century." There is 
a noble grace about this church which was built by an 
Irish queen whose story so closely resembles that of 


Arthur's Guinevere, both in its pathos and its peni- 
tence, and in the ruin it brought upon her native land. 
The chancel of Rahan Church near Clara, the most 
enterprising locality in the South of Ireland, is of 
rugged masonry, and it possesses in its rose window 
an architectural feature, of which Dr. Petrie said, <c it 
is not only the most curious of its kind in the British 
Isles, but also the most ancient." These churches 
all that is left of them are a testimony to the fact 
that Celtic art and architecture were developing 
gradually and gracefully on their own lines when they 
were suddenly and cruelly arrested in their course. 

The county is skirted on three sides for many miles 
by the Shannon, Barrow and Boyne ; but its own 
rivers, the Brosna, Silver River, and Camcor are small. 
The lakes are not extensive but picturesque. Of these 
Lough Pallas and Lough Anna are the largest. Lough 
Coura, which was once a considerable lake, has been 
drained within the last twenty years by Mr. Thomas 
Drought, of Whigsboro'. That lake is chiefly remark- 
able for its islets and island forts, on one of which are 
the ruins of an ancient castle and circular tower of 
great extent and strength called Le Porte Castle, near 
which an Irish canoe, old weapons, and several curious 
bronzes have been found. In the vicinity is Dowris, 
celebrated for the find of bronzes made there in 1825. 
And not far off is the plain of Moylena, where the 
sanguinary battle, Cath Muighelena, was fought in 
192 A.D. between Conn of the Hundred Battles and 
Owen More of Munster, and another in 907 between 
Cormac, King and Archbishop of Cashel, and Flann 
Sionna, the Ard-ri, when the latter was defeated. 

The county contains twelve baronies. Of these 


Ballyboy, Ballybrit, Clonlisk, Eglish and Garrycastle 
form the Birr Parliamentary division ; while the 
remaining seven, Geashill, Kilcoursey, Lower and 
Upper Philipstown, Warrenstown and Coolestown 
constitute the Tullamore division. Of these baronies 
the O'Connors of Offaly possessed Warrenstown and 
Coolestown with portion of Geashill and Philipstown. 
They were also lords of the baronies of East and 
West Offally in Kildare, and of Portnehinch and 
Tinnehinch in Queen's County. The district of Ely 
O'Carroll comprised Clonlisk and Ballybrit, with the 
baronies of Ikerrin and Elyogarty of County Tipperary. 
The O'Mulloys, princes of Fearcall, were rulers of 
Ballyboy, Eglish and part of Ballycommon, the other 
portion being held by the O'Dempseys, lords of Clan- 
malire. The MacCoglans, the chiefs of Delvin, 
divided with the O'Maddens of Siol Ammchada 
(Silancia) Garrycastle, the largest of the baronies and 
the most interesting, inasmuch as it can boast of the 
historic fair of Banagher and the famous abbey and 
churches of Clonmacnoise. 

The hills and plains and vales of the county are 
thinly populated. The soil is light and the pasture 
moderate. There is little more than fragrant breezes 
on bog and mountain for the people to enjoy. While, 
generally speaking, they lack the arts as well as the 
means of living. The industrious may exist upon 
their small farms happily if frugally, while the idler 
must pass forth to pastures new. The population, 
which was 144,225 in 1831, has since fallen to 60,187, 
but mules and asses, for which the county has always 
been famous, are on the increase, according to the 
returns of the Agricultural Department. 


ACCORDING to the early historians of Ireland a great 
battle was fought on the Slieve Bloom hills between 
the Fomorians and Nemedians a thousand years 
before Christ, and at Geashill, Heremon and Heber 
Fionn, sons of Melesius, fought for the supremacy, 
and Heber fell, to leave his son, Conmaol, an avenger 
of his father's cause. For the scene of Heber's defeat 
witnessed the discomfiture of Heremon's army and the 
death of Palpa, his son. 

The conflict between the brothers arose, as the 
ancient poets inform us, through a quarrel between 
their wives. For " they reigned in peace until the 
ambition of a woman's heart, the wife of Heber, urged 
them on to war." She desired to possess three vales 
which were said to be the most fruitful in the land, 
but one of these Heremon possessed and would not 
surrender. Whereupon Heber's wife, as the poet 
describes her, " raged passionately, and swore she 
would never sleep on Irish ground till she was mistress 
of the three vales." Then followed the battle of 
Geisioll, or Geashill, where Heber fell a sacrifice to 
the ambition of his wife, and Heremon reigned as 
king. As the poet says : 

Three of the fruitful valleys of the isle, 

Druim Finginn, Druim Clasach and Druim Beathach, 

Occasioned the fierce battle of Geisiol, 

Where vailant Heber fell. 


To descend from these lofty clouds of fancy to the 
lowly plains of fact, it is fairly certain that there was a 
personage called Cathaoir More (Cahirmore) monarch 
of Ireland, about A.D. 120. He was descended from 
the posterity of Heremon, and had thirty sons, accord- 
ing to the Irish poet, who were " most renowned in 
arms, most comely personages, and heroes all." But 
ten alone survived him. The eldest of these was 
Ros-Failge or Ros-of-the-Rings. From this Ros are 
descended the O'Connors of Offaly. History tells us 
little of Ros, save that his father addressed him as " my 
fierce Ros, my vehement Ros." These qualities of 
fierceness and vehemence have been duly transmitted 
and remarkably displayed by members of his sept. 
"They have exerted themselves as a posterity 
worthy of such ancestors/' wrote Keating. " For 
they have shown themselves a valiant and generous 
tribe, free and hospitable, and true patriots when the 
cause of their country required their arms. They 
were so free of their blood in its defence that the 
family in process of time, were reduced to a small 
number, for the bravery of this illustrious house 
exposed them to the greatest dangers and difficulties 
and they would never fly or retreat, though oppressed 
by superior strength, but rather chose to sell their 
lives dearly upon the spot." That ancient document, 
the " Will of Cahirmore," translated in the Book of 
Rights, r contains the information that Cahirmore 
bequeathed to his son, Ros-of-the-Rings, Leinster, 
ten swords, ten shields, ornamented with gold and 
silver and ten golden goblets. 

The family of this Ros Faly were called Hy Faily 
or descendants of -Faly to distinguish them from 


other families of O'Connor or O'Conchobar, and gave 
the name of Offaly to the districts occupied by 
their clan which contain extensive remains of previous 
civilizations in the shape of cairns, cromlechs, 
sepulchral mounds and fortified raths. In the four- 
teenth century we find the O'Connors ruling from the 
green hill of Cruachan, near Croghan and at Dangan, 
their chief fortress, now Philipstown, which they 
retained until the time of Mary and Philip. After the 
conversion of the Irish territory into shire land by 
Queen Mary a deed performed with great cruelty 
the O'Diomosaigh or O'Dempsey, Lord of Clan- 
malire, became the representative of the sept, holding 
strong castles at Geashill, Ballybrittas and Portnehinch 
until the Revolution of 1685. But almost from the 
time of the English Invasion in 1169, the Norman 
Welsh Fitzgeralds of Kildare, afterwards Dukes of 
Leinster, encroached upon the lands of the tribe and 
obtained the districts of the sept, that lay withfn 
the English Pale. These lands, known as " English 
Offaly " gave the title of Baron to the Fitzgeralds ; 
while the Irish chieftains, the O'Connors Faily, were 
kings of the " Irish Offaly " in King's and Queen's 
County. The O'Connor is celebrated by the bard 
O'Heerin in the verses : 

Let us westward proceed to Offaleyj 
To which brave heroes make submission, 
Of their laws I make mention, 
Of their convention I make remembrance. 

The Lord of Offaley, aland of mirth, 
Not unknown to the poets, 
Is O'Conor, the mainstay of the fair plain, 
Who rules at the green mound of Cruachan. 

There is the record of a battle fought about 1212 at 


Killeigh, the church in the field, near Tullamore, 
between the English of Munster and Murtagh 

Quantities of bones are still turned up when new 
foundations are laid in that neighbourhood. We read 
in Henry Marleburrough's Chronicle that " the Lord 
Theobald Verdon lost his men and horses going 
towards Ophali " in 1285; that in the year 1290 
"was the chase and discomfiture of Ophaly and 
divers Englishmen were slaine; " that " Mac Coghlan 
slew O'Molaghlin," and that " William Bourgh was 
discomfited at Delvin (in the King's County) by 
Mac Coghlan." The same authority also states that 
in the year 1294, "the Castle of Kildare was taken, 
and by the English and Irish the whole countrie was 
wasted " ; that Calvagh (Calvach O'Connor) " burnt 
all the rolles andtallyesof that countrie," and Richard 
Bourgh, Earl of Ulster, "was delivered out of the 
Castle of Leye (Leix) for his sons," i.e., as hostages. 
And in 1305 he writes : "Jordan Comin slew Conther 
(Connor) de Ophaly " ; and " Calvagh his brother was 
slaine in the court of Piers de Bermingham at 
Carricke and Balimor was burnt." Hanmeralso gives 
us an occasional glimpse of this fighting clan. Writing 
of Richard Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, afterwards 
betrayed and murdered by his own countrymen, he 
describes him " in the year 1213, and the moneth of 
April, in a battell nigh Kildare, upon the great heath 
called the Curragh, fighting against the O'Connors." 
This is taken from Friar Clynn's Annals. Hanmer 
also relates, on the same authority, that Maurice 
FitzMaurice was not long after 1272 "betrayed by his 
own followers in Ophali, taken and imprisoned in the 


court of Piers de Bermingham, at Carricke, and 
Balimor was burnt." 

Generally speaking, we do not hear much of the 
O'Connors of Offaly before the fourteenth century. 
Their great namesakes, the O'Connors of Connaught, 
were so great that their prestige eclipsed the smaller 
sept of Offaly. But we find them appearing on the 
scene when troubles began to gather round the Anglo- 
Norman settlers. The close of the thirteenth century 
marked the zenith of the Norman power in Ireland. 
From that time it began to wane. Many causes con- 
tributed to this decline. The dissensions among the 
Normans themselves, which had led to the shameful 
betrayal and murder of Richard Marshall, Earl of 
Pembroke in 1234; the weak and worthless character 
of Henry III. of England, of which the Celtic chief- 
tains and Norman nobles alike took advantage, Hugh 
de Lacy going so far as to invite the King of Norway 
in 1224 to come to his assistance, as we learn from 
a letter of Queen Joanna of Scotland ; and the want 
of some central authority in the land capable of 
managing its affairs and controlling its turbulent 
spirits. In consequence of this state of anarchy 
and disorder the Norman settlers did that which 
seemed good in their own eyes. Many of them made 
friends with the natives, adopted Irish customs and 
Irish dress ; employed the Irish as domestic servants 
and soldiers ; and sided with the native chieftains in 
their quarrel with the Norman Government. They 
became, as the saying is, " more Irish than the Irish 
themselves." They grew their hair long, cultivated 
moustachios, rode bareback, spoke the Irish language 
and lived according to the Brehon law. 


All this was most offensive to their English brethren, 
and feelings of bitterness estranged the Anglo-Irish 
from the English-born. The latter were nick-named 
" English hobbies " and the others " Irish dogs." As 
these conflicts and differences were a constant source 
of weakness to the English community several laws 
were passed making the use of the English language, 
English law, saddle and bow, compulsory in the 
English districts. The saddle was made compulsory 
in order to prevent the English knights and cavalry 
forgetting the orthodox use of the lance. For their 
adoption of the Irish custom of riding made them 
unfit to appear in a tournament where their play would 
be as ridiculous as that of Shakespeare's " puny 
tilter that spurs his horse but on one side " and 
" breaks his staff like a noble goose." For the Irish 
either grasped their lances in the middle or hurled 
them like javelins, which was regarded as an un- 
knightly proceeding by those who were accustomed to 
ride full tilt with lances at rest straight at their foes. 
In 1295 a statute was passed condemning the use of 
the native garb, the moustache, and the " culan " by 
the English residents, and by the Statute of Kilkenny 
(1367) Irish games were forbidden. The wording of 
the Act was to the effect that " the commons of the 
said land of Ireland, who are in the different marches 
at war, do not henceforth use the plays which men call 
hurlings, with great sticks upon the ground, from 
which evils and maims have arisen, to the weakening 
of the defence of the said land and other plays which 
men call quoiting; but that they do apply and 
accustom themselves to use and draw bows and throw 
lances and other gentlemanlike games." The real 


reason, however, was not consideration for the limbs 
of the athletes, but anxiety to prevent the deteriora- 
tion of the settler. These prohibitive enactments 
reveal the weakness of the Norman garrison in 
Ireland. They had failed to maintain their authority 
over their own people, who in isolated places had 
been compelled by motives of policy to throw in their 
lot with the majority, and had donned the " saffron," 
married Irish girls, given out their children to nurse 
and educate with the families of their retainers, dis- 
missed the expensive English guards and rilled their 
castles with cheap Irish kerne and gallowglasses or 
quartered them for pay, food and fodder (coyne and 
livery) according to the Irish custom upon their tenants, 
who were humbled by their insolence and ruined by 
their demands. 

Another weak spot in the armour of the Pale was 
the- practice of absenteeism, which has been for many 
centuries one of the drawbacks to our national pros- 
perity. Many of the Norman heiresses in Ireland 
had married English nobles, who preferred a life of 
peace at home to a life of broils and battles on the 
borders of the Pale, and accordingly left the estates 
their wives brought them to take care of themselves, 
and abandoned the tenants of these lands to the 
tender mercies of the surrounding septs who harried 
their homesteads and lifted their cattle with impunity. 
A statute was accordingly passed (1295) m the reign 
of that great law-maker, Edward I., and in the first 
English Parliament to which the three estates clergy, 
barons, and commons were only summoned to con- 
strain the lord marchers who had left their tenants on 
the frontiers exposed to the raids of the Irish septs 


to return to protect them, and to compel the 
absentee landlords in England to assign a portion 
of their Irish revenues to the upkeep of a permanent 
armed force for the protection of the colonists. 

In certain places the barons undoubtedly held their 
own, and protected by their castles and supported by 
their retainers kept the neighbouring tribes in fear 
and trembling ; but their numbers and resources were 
being constantly drained by the demands of the 
English kings who never forgot the English settle- 
ment in Ireland when meditating a campaign in 
France, or Wales, or Scotland. For instance, a writ 
was issued in 1254 with regard to the army of 
Christians and Saracens who were hastening to the 
invasion " of the king's dominions in Gascoine, and 
who would thereby obtain an entry into England and 
Ireland; for this reason he is desired to come 
with all his friends to the king in Gascoigne, so that 
they be at Waterford against Easter, ready to embark 
with horses, a/ms and soldiers." And in 1295, when 
Edward I. was simultaneously menaced by the King 
of France, by Balliol's revolt in the north, and the 
Welsh rebellion in the west, he demanded a number of 
horsemen and 10,000 foot to be fully accoutred and 
sent for service to England. So when Edward Bruce 
landed at Carrickfergus in 1315 with 6,000 men and 
the bravest knights of Scotland, including Randolph 
of Moray, Menteith, and Lord Allan Steward, he had 
little difficulty in defeating the remaining colonists of 
Ulster, under the Red Earl (De Burgho) on the banks 
of the Bann, the forces of the Deputy De Boutiller at 
Ardscull, in Kildare, and the army of De Mortimer 
at Kells. It is to be noted that Edward Bruce came 


on the invitation of certain native princes, the O'Neills 
among them, who had befriended his brother, King 
Robert, during his exile in the isles off the north of 
Ireland and Scotland, and that these princes sent a 
letter to Pope John XXII., in which they set forth 
the Irish grievances at large, traced them all to Pope 
Adrian's gift of Ireland to Henry II., and besought 
the Pope to approve of their choice of Edward Bruce 
as their champion. But the Pope preferred the 
friendship of England to the devotion of Ireland and 
replied with a sentence of excommunication against 
all who should help the Bruce. And had the Bruce 
restrained his soldiers from their merciless devastation 
of the country and their wholesale destruction of towns, 
castles, and even churches, from Carrickfergus to 
Castle Connell he would have retained the allegiance 
of his Irish friends and have won the crown of Ireland. 
The accounts of his raid are sad reading. Spenser in his 
View of the State of Ireland, informs us that Bruce 
destroyed Belfast, Greencastle, Kells, Belturbet, Castle- 
town, Newtown, and many other towns, and that " he 
rooted out the noble families of the Audiies, Talbots, 
Tuchets, Chamberlaines, Maundevils, and the Savages 
out of Ardes.'' Friar Clyn and Campion give 
equally pathetic descriptions of the havoc wrought in 
Ireland, and the mischief done to the English Pale by 
" Edward Bruise " who spoiled Cashel and " where- 
soever he lighted upon the Butler's lands, those hee 
burned and destroyed unmercifully.'' The latter 
historian describes the soldiers of Bruce as " surfeited 
with flesh and aquavitae all the Lent long." They 
" prolled and pilled insatiably without neede and 
without regard of poore people, whose only provision 


they devoured." " While," he says, " the people of 
Ulster, now living in slavery under Le Bruise, starved 
for hunger, when they had first experienced many 
lamentable shifts, as in snatching the dead bodyes 
out of their graves, in whose skulls they boyled the 
same flesh and fed thereof." And to add to the un- 
happiness of the people Sir Roger Mortimer, the 
Lord Justice, went away " indebted to the citizens of 
Divelin for his viands a thousand poundes, whereof he 
payde not one smulkin." But the end came to the 
hopes and life of the Bruce in 1318, when he was 
defeated and slain with all his officers at Faughard, 
near Dundalk, by Sir John Bermingham. Campion 
gives the names of Bermingham's officers : " Tute, 
Verdon, Tripton, Sutton, Cusacke, and Maupas," and 
notes some interesting incidents in the battle. The 
Primate of Armagh accompanied the soldiers in person 
and blessed their enterprise, " assoyling them all ere 
ever they began to encounter." Verily the English 
had learned a lesson from the conduct of the Scots the 
night before their great victory of Bannockburn, which 
the Scots themselves on this occasion seem to have 
forgotten. And Maupas, who had pressed into the 
throng to meet Bruce was " found in the search, 
dead, covering the dead body of Bruise." Bermingham 
thus dissolved the Scottish kingdom in Ireland, and 
sending the head of Bruce to the king received the 
earldom of Louth and the Barony of Ardee and 
Athenry as his reward for this important service to 
the State. In connection with this same invasion it 
is to be noted that Edward Bruce's success was 
largely due to the fact that the Anglo-Normans and 
the native Celts had just before met each other in two 


terrible battles at Athenry and Dysart O'Dea, and like 
the Kilkenny Cats left nothing of each other behind 
but the proverbial "tails," which were altogether 
powerless to withstand the onset of Scotland's chivalry. 
Richard de Bermingham had almost annihilated the 
O'Connors of Connaught at the Battle of Athenry 
(1315) of which Campion gives an interesting account. 
He tells us the already familiar story of the Hussy of 
Galtrim, whose family for centuries had disputed with 
the O'Carrolls the lordship of Birr. According to 
Campion, Sir Richard Bermingham had a young 
squire called John Hussy who was sent by his master 
to scan the dead, of whom eleven thousand lay around 
the walls of the city, in order to see if O'Kelly, his 
mortal enemy, was among the slain. While Hussy 
and his attendant were engaged in turning over the 
bodies he was observed by O'Kelly, who, " well 
acquainted with the valiantness and truth of Hussee, 
sore longed to traine him from his Captaine." Accor- 
dingly, the O'Kelly suddenly confronted Hussy, and 
said, " Hussee thou seest I am at all points armed 
and have my esquire, a manly man, beside me ; thou 
art thin and thy page, a youngling, so that if I loved 
thee not for thine owne sake, I might betray thee for 
my master's. But come and serve me at my request 
and I promise thee by S. Patricke's Staffe to make 
thee a lord in Connaught, of more ground than thy 
master hath in Ireland." This munificent offer had 
no effect upon Hussy, and then his own man, " a stout 
lubber," rebuked him for not listening to O'Kelly, and 
sided against him. " Then," writes the historian, 
" had Hussy three enemies ; and first he turned to 
his own knave, and him he slew. Next he raught to 


O'Kellye's squire a great rappe under the pit of his 
eare, which overthrew him. Thirdly, he bestirred 
himself so nimbly that ere any helpe could be hoped 
for, he had also slain O' Kelly, and perceiving breath 
in the Squire, he drawed him up againe and forced 
him upon a truncheon to beare his lord's head into 
the high towne, which he presented to Bermingham, 
and the circumstances declared, he dubbed Hussee 
knight and then advanced to many preferments, 
whose family became afterwards Barons of Galtrime." 

This was an incident in one of the two suicidal 
battles that laid Ireland at the feet of the new invader. 
The other rights that weakened the Irish and Anglo- 
Normans took place in the South of Leinster, where 
the O'Carroll of Ely defeated the Norman settlers, and 
in the North of Munster, where the O'Briens gave an 
overwhelming defeat to Richard de Clare at Dysart 

But that Scottish raid spelt ruin to the English 
tenants on the baronial estates j as well as to the Irish 
tribesmen. And if the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise 
break forth into song over the death of Edward Bruce 
who was slain, " to the great joy and comfort of the 
whole kingdom in general, for there was not a better 
deed that redounded more to the good of the kingdom 
since the creation of the world, and since the banish- 
ment of the Fine Fomores out of this land, done in 
Ireland than the killing of Edward Bruce," what 
must have been the feelings of the English yeoman 
over whose ploughed fields, haggards, and farms, that 
desolating stream of lava had poured for three and a- 
half years, leaving him a ruined man by the roadside, 
to return a pauper to the shores of England, or to 


sink to the condition of the tribal Irish, and to live as 
the kerne, plundering others as others had plundered 
him. The latter was, indeed, the fate of many a gallant 
yeoman and of many a noble knight After the Scottish 
invasion the English settlers abandoned and betrayed 
by their own countrymen on the other side of the 
water sank into a disorganised, hopeless community ; 
while the spirits of the Irish who had perhaps suffered 
considerably less from the invasion and the famine 
that ensued rose in a corresponding degree. The 
dispossessed tribes recovered the lands devastated by 
Bruce and deserted by the settlers. The septs of 
Desmond rose to a man. No check was offered to 
their advance by English Government, deputy, or 
settler. Out of the mountain fastnesses of the 
Slieve Bloom the O'Connors and O'Moores swooped 
like birds of prey upon the plains of Leix and 
Offaly. Friar Clyn gives an interesting account 
of one of these raiders, Leysert O' Moore. He 
writes : 

" In the year 1342 died Leysert O'Moore, a man 
influential, rich and wealthy, and respected in his 
tribe. By force he ejected almost all the English 
from his lands and inheritance, for in one night he 
burned eight English castles and destroyed the noble 
castle of Dunamase, the property of Lord Roger de 
Mortimer, and obtained for himself the lordship over 
his country." 

Had the English settlers but waited and presented 
a firm front they would easily have held their own. 
But while some were desirous of maintaining law and 
order, others proved week-kneed and lukewarm. In 
1323 the lords of the Parliament assembled in Dublin 


undertook to arrest or cause to be arrested all felons 
and robbers of their family or surname. In 1327 the 
Viceroy was directed to take possession of the castles of 
the absentees and maintain them out of the revenues of 
the estates, while the Irish enemies and English 
rebels were ravaging the royal lands. In 1329 his own 
English tenantry in the County of Louth murdered 
John de Bermingham, the conqueror of Edward Bruce, 
with two hundred men of his family and household. 
And when summoned to answer for the crime before 
the king's court they treated the writ with contempt 
and remained unpunished. The events of that year 
(1329) are summed up in Cox's Hibernia Anglicana 
who ascribes the disasters of the English colony to 
their own dissensions. " When the Earl of Louth," 
he writes, " and many other of the Berminghams, 
Talbot of Malahide and an hundred and sixty 
Englishmen were murdered by their own countrymen, 
the Savages, Gernons, etc., at Balibragan (Bal- 
briggan) in Urgile (Uriel = Louth) ; and when the 
Barrys and Roches in Munster did as much for James 
Fitz-Robert Keatinge, the Lord Philip Hodnet and 
Hugh Condon, with an hundred and forty of their 
followers, what wonder is it if Macoghegan defeated 
the Lord Thomas Butler and others near Molingar 
to their loss of an hundred and forty of their 
men ? Or if Sir Simon Genevil lost seventy-six 
of his soldiers in Carbery, in the County of Kil- 
dare ; or if Brian O'Bryan ravaged over all the 
country and burnt the towns of Athassel and Tip- 
perary ? " 

The comment the historian makes upon this state 
of affairs is both acute and prophetic. " And yet," 


he says, <{ this common calamity could not unite 
the English, although their own experience taught 
them (and frequent instances have convinced the 
succeeding ages since) that the English never 
suffered any great loss or calamity in Ireland, 
but by civil dissensions and disagreement among 

While the Irish septs of Connaught were seizing the 
royal castles of Athlone, Roscommon and Randoun, 
the O'Byrnes, OTooles, and MacMurroughs were 
raiding the lands of the settlers and driving off the 
cattle in Wicklow and Kildare ; the O'Connors and 
O'Moores were harrying Offaly and Leix; the 
MacGeoghegan's and O'Melaghlins were devastating 
Meath, and the great sept of the O'Neills, the Clan 
Aedha Buidhe (Clan-na-boy) or tribe of Hugh the 
Red were sweeping over the eastern counties of 
Ulster which had been just reduced to a desert by 
Edward Bruce, and were establishing a principality of 
their own in the north, an event occurred which 
seemed to be the death-blow of the English settle- 
ment. This was the assassination of William de 
Burgh, the " Brown Earl," the successor of the Red 
Earl, in 1333, by Richard de Manneville at Carrick- 
fergus. By English law the vast estates of the dead 
earl in Ulster and Connaught, which were the back- 
bone of the English settlement, passed to his infant 
daughter, who was brought by her mother to England, 
where she afterwards became the wife of Lionel, Duke 
of Clarence. But William and Edmund Burke, 
junior members of the great house of De Burgh, sons 
of Sir William, the Viceroy in 1308, felt the absurdity 
of doing homage for their possessions to a young girl, 


at a time when every feudal baron held his lands and 
governed his vassals as much by force of arms as by 
right in law ; and well aware of the inability of the 
heiress of the Brown Earl to support or defend them, 
as she on her part was duly bound to do, took the 
bold step of repudiating her authority. This step, 
however, was a breach of the feudal system, and the 
English sovereign was bound to take cognizance of 
it. Accordingly, the two Burkes found themselves 
compelled to renounce their allegiance to the English 
Crown. And feeling themselves more powerful when 
united with the Irish septs, stripped themselves of 
their Norman coats of mail and arrayed themselves in 
the saffron robes of the Irish chieftain on the banks of 
the Shannon, in full view of the garrison of Athlone. 
They, thereupon, assumed the names of McWilliam 
Uachtar (the " Nether ") and McWilliam lochtar 
(the " Further) ; and, dividing the country between 
them, one took Galway, and became the ancestor of 
the Clanrickarde house, and the other took Mayo, 
and from him the Mayo family is descended. 
They also adopted the Irish language, laws and 
customs. Their example was followed hy many 
other nobles. Bermingham, of Athenry, styled 
himself McYorris ; Nangle became McCostelo ; 
Fitzurse, McMahon ; D'Exester, Mcjordan ; the 
Baron of Dunboyne, McPheris; and the White 
Knight, McGibbon. 

But Edward III. cared for none of these things. 
He was engaged at the time in putting forward an 
absurd claim to the throne of France, and his only 
desire was to obtain the wherewithal to make good 
that claim. With this object in view he began a 


systematic oppression of the much tried English 
colony, which appears through all the chequered 
annals of the history of English rule in the character 
of the much-enduring Ulysses. In 1341 the king 
issued a writ to the justiciary of Ireland to resume all 
royal grants of lands until he was 4 ' made certain of 
the merits of the grantees, the causes and conditions 
of the grants." The purpose of the writ to force the 
grantees to compound by payment of fines was clear 
to all concerned. And this flagrant act of dishonesty 
roused the whole colony who were already provoked 
by the king's gratuitous exclusion of Irish-born sub- 
jects from " the sweets of office," so that, as Campion 
observes, "the realm was ever upon point to give 
over and rebel." Other acts of injustice committed by 
his own English-born officials, Sir Anthony Lucy and 
Sir Ralph Uffbrd who had seized Desmond's estates, 
and was justly unpopular for his general character and 
conduct, brought matters to a head. The great Earls 
of Desmond and Kildare refused to attend the Parlia- 
ment in Dublin (1341) and convened a meeting in 
Kildare, from which a memorial was despatched to 
the king, setting forth the grievances of the English 
settlement in Ireland, the state of destitution to 
which they had been reduced by the raids of the Irish 
enemy on the one side and on the other by the tl em- 
bezzlement and extortions practised by English-born 
officials, who defrauded the constables of the royal 
castles ; entrusted their custody to incompetent 
warders, or to those who employed deputies, merely 
to extort fees ; charged the Crown for goods and 
valuables taken for its use, but for which they never 
paid ; entered into their accounts salaries to governors 


of castles which were either demolished, in the 
hands of their enemy, or had never existed, and 
exacted money from the king's subjects on various 
pretences." 1 

The Earl of Desmond, who had been allowed to 
escape from his imprisonment in Dublin, where he 
had been arrested by order of the rapacious Ufford, 
whose lady is described as " a miserable sott who led 
him -to extortion and bribery ;" also put down on the 
paper the pertinent question " How an officer of the 
king that entred very poore might in one yeare grow 
to more excessive wealth than men of great patrimony 
in many yeares ? " 

Edward was forced to give way to such a memorial 
especially when supported by an appeal to Magna 
Chart a and a resolute nobility who had been pro- 
voked beyond endurance by Ufford's insolence and 
tyranny. For in 1346 we find him conferring knight- 
hood on the Earl ofKildare, another victim of Ufford's 
jealousy and greed, for his services at the siege of 
Calais, and making the Earl of Desmond, some of 
whose estates Ufford had seized, Lord Justice. It is 
surprising that Edward, with all his cruelty, was able 
to obtain a splendid Irish contingent for his foreign 
wars which eventually brought greater loss than lustre 
to England. It seemed, moreover, a sort of poetic 
justice to find the victims of Ufford's impositions thus 
honoured shortly after the death of their tormentor 
had been publicly solemnized with bonfires and other 
expressions of rejoicing in the land. 

But Edward's hold on Ireland was growing weaker 

1 Richey, Slwrt History, p. 225. 


yearly. The Irish had grown excessively turbulent 
since the invasion of Bruce had shown them the 
weakness of the Anglo-Norman power. During 1330 
there had been a great rising in Leinster, and " so 
outragious were the Leinster Irish that in one church 
they burned eighty innocent soules, asking no more 
but the life of their priest then at Masse, whom they, 
notwithstanding, sticked with their javelins, spurned 
the Blessed Sacrament, and wasted all with fire." l 
His justiciary was compelled to bribe some of the 
Irish septs, the O'Tooles and others to defend the 
frontiers of the Pale, and to offer reward for the cap- 
ture and assassination of the more refractory chieftains. 
The Irish insurgents, however, had not matters all 
their own way in every part of the country, for we 
read of men like Sir Robert Savage in Ulster fortifying 
his manor house, and his son, Sir Henry, who led his 
men against the Irish and defeated them. This Sir 
Henry seems to have had a touch of humour, for, 
having prepared a supper of wine, aqua vitae, and 
venison, beef and fowl for his men on their return, he 
was advised by his officers to poison the food, lest the 
enemy should defeat them and secure the supper. 
" Tush," he answered, " ye are too full of envy. If 
it please God to set other good fellows in our stead, 
what hurt shall it be for us to leave them some 
meate for their suppers ; let them hardly win it and 
wear it." The gallant knight returned with his men 
to enjoy his own supper. 

Nor is it to be inferred from the charges that were 
made against the English Lords Justices that they 

1 Campion, History of Ireland, p. 129. 


were all bad and dishonest. For Sir Thomas Rokeby, 
who held office in 1353 was the impersonation of 
rugged honesty and sterling worth. When rebuked 
for allowing himself to be served with wooden cups, he 
answered : li These homely cuppes and dishes pay 
truly for what they containe. I had rather drinke out 
of wood and pay gold and silver than drinke out of gold 
and make wooden payment." This was of course an 
allusion to the almost proverbial dishonesty of the 
Lord Deputies. 



IN the foregoing chapter an account was given of the 
condition of the English Colony called the Pale, 
which may help the readers of this little work to form 
a general idea of the state of Ireland in the fourteenth 
century, when the O'Connors Faly rose into pro- 
minence. Of the great possessions in the hands of 
the English settlers and territorial barons at the 
beginning of that century but little remained at the 
end. Some of the causes, internal and external, that 
brought about this condition of things have already 
been set forth. But one has not yet received the 
attention it deserves. The tribes are beginning 
to act more unitedly, and to trust one another, 
and though still far from that Home Reunion, 
which is as vital to the existence of states as 
of churches, were taught by the " degenerate" 
English, who had cast in their lot among them, that 
they should, at least for the time being, bury the 
hatchet between themselves until they had swept the 
Colony into the sea. 

A tremendous effort, or rather series of efforts, was 
accordingly made at various points of the Colony's 
possessions, and the English subjects and officials, 
unable to resist the overwhelming tide, were driven 
back upon their lines. Ulster was regained ; 
Connaught was in revolt; parts of Leinster and 


Meath alone remained faithful to England, and were 
compelled to purchase peace at a great price. It was 
at this time that Richard II. made his great expedi- 
tion to Ireland, which commenced auspiciously for the 
Colony, but ended most disastrously (1394). 

We shall now see what the Irish septs have been 
doing in the meanwhile. That they lacked neither 
wit nor courage, the following record shows. The 
Four Masters relate that one Donogh O'Gillpatrick 
was killed by the English in 1249. "This Donogh," 
they write, " was one of the three Irishmen who com- 
mitted the greatest number of depredations on the 
English ; and these three were Conor O'Melaghlin, 
Conor MacCoghlan of the Castles, and the before- 
mentioned Donogh, who was in the habit of re- 
connoitring the market towns (of the English) by 
visiting them in the different characters of a beggar, 
a carpenter, a turner, an artist, or a pedlar, as recorded 
in the following verse : 

He is now a carpenter, or a turner, 

Now a man of books or learned poet, 

In good wines and hides, a dealer sometimes ; 

Everything by turns as suits his purpose. 

These O'Melaghlins and MacCoghlans had wrested 
half the County of Meath from the settlers at the end 
of the century, but were just as often engaged in 
fighting each other as in raiding the English lands. 
For the same authority tells us that in 1290, forty-one 
years after the death of this celebrated Irish comedian, 
Donogh O'Gillpatrick, whose histrionic performances 
proved a little more expensive to the English than 
those of his countryman, the late John Lawrence 
Toole, prince of good fellows, '! Carbry O'Melaghlin, 


King of Meath, the most valiant young warrior in 
Ireland in his time, was slain by MacCoglan." 

The year 1305 was, according to all accounts, a 
disastrous one for the clan of the O'Connors. We 
have already mentioned the fact that their neighbours, 
the O'Dempseys, afterwards became their representa- 
tives. The sept of the O'Dempseys, or O'Diomsaigh, 
dominated the district known as Clanmalire, which 
embraced portions of the baronies of Geashill, Philips- 
town, and Ballycowan in the King's County, and 
portions of the neighbouring counties of Kildare and 
Queen's County. Of this tribe the poet O'Heerin 

Clanmaliere is above all tribes, 

Noble is the source of their pedigree, 

The smooth plains of the land they have defended, 

The country is the inheritance of the O'Dempsey. 

The present town of Tullamore is in the district of 
this ancient tribe, which fought with conspicuous 
success against the forces of Strongbow in 1173. 
Morice Regan, the faithful scribe and follower of 
Dermot McMurrough, relates in his Norman-French 
poem, in which he gave an interesting, if somewhat 
embellished, narrative of the English invasion, that 
the O'Dempseys made an attack upon the English, in 
which Robert de Quincy, the Standard Bearer of 
Leinster, and son-in-law of Strongbow, was slain. 
The principal fortress of this tribe was at Geashill, 
near where Lord Digby's handsome residence now 
stands. And as far back as 1305 we hear of the sept 
of O'Dempsey defeating the sept of the O'Connors, 
with great slaughter, near this castle. But the 
O'Connors returned to the charge the following year ? 


and destroyed the Castle of Geashill, and swept on to 
Lea, in which parish Portarlington is now, and 
where the remains of a massive round tower and other 
fortifications on the banks of the Barrow, and several 
Irish raths in the vicinity, testify to the military 
prestige of the place, and, perhaps, to the operations 
of the O'Connor sept in 1305. 

The ancient castle of Carbury in County Kildare is 
also connected with the fortunes and misfortunes of 
this fighting clan. Those bleak skeletons of wall and 
battlement, through which the winds murmur in 
weird cadences, standing in lonely grandeur on an 
isolated hill, form a conspicuous landmark, which 
reminds us of the new age of the prowess and perfidy 
of the Norman knights. To this massive keep Sir 
Pierce Bermingham invited the O'Connor Faly, with 
a number of his chiefs, to a banquet one ill-starred 
day in the year of grace 1305. Thirty chieftains 
attended the feast, and at night, when men had well 
drunken and suspicions were allayed, armed men 
arose and fell upon the Celts, and the night winds 
moaned in sympathy with their shrieks as they were 
done to death. Among those who fell that night 
were the O'Connor, his brother Maelmordha, and his 
heir, the Calvach O'Connor. 

Sixteen years have passed, and the O'Connors have 
somewhat recovered their strength ; but they have not 
forgotten the Berminghams, their Norman neighbours, 
and burning to wipe out that deed of shame and 
barbarity, muster their forces and hurry to attack 
the Berminghams who were in great force at Monas- 
teroris in 1321. This place, on the borders of the 
King's County, formerly Castropetre, was afterwards 


known as Monasteroris, from the monastery founded 
here for Conventual Franciscans in 1325 by Sir John 
de Berminghan, Earl of Louth, who rejoiced in the 
Irish name of Mac Feoris. But Monasteroris was a 
place of bad omen for the O'Connors on this occasion, 
as they were defeated by Andrew Bermingham and 
the English of Meath. A generation passes away and 
in 1348, as these unhappy memories were fading from 
theminds of the O'Connors, a representative of their foe- 
man's house was expelled from Connaught by Edmond 
Burke, and forced to throw himself upon the mercy of 
the O'Connor Faly. He found what seems never to 
have been refused to friend or foe refuge and hospi- 
tality. The politics of the Berminghams and of many 
of the Norman barons had, however, changed in the 
meantime. Several causes led to this. In 1329, Jean 
de Bermingham, who had defeated Edward Bruce, was 
murdered with all his kindred, some two hundred 
souls, by the English settlers in Louth. Then in 
1331, Sir William Bermingham and his son, summoned 
to a parliament at Kilkenny, did not consider it safe 
to appear ; but shortly afterwards was arrested by Sir 
Anthony Lacy, Lord Justice, while sick in bed at 
Clonmel, and accused of aiding the Irish rebels. The 
father was hanged in Dublin on the nth of July, to 
the grief of many who esteemed him a noble and valiant 
knight ; but his son Walter was released the following 
year by John Darcy, a Lord Justice. The Earl of 
Desmond was also arrested at Limerick, and sent over 
to the king ; Walter Burgh and two of his brothers 
were seized in Connaught and Henry Mandevil was 
sent as a prisoner to Dublin, so that many of the most 
loyal subjects of the Crown were turned into deadly 


foes by repeated acts of oppression and injustice on 
the part of the deputies and lords justices. 

It would seem that the fighting clan had now begun 
to give trouble to the English settlers in Meath by 
harrying and plundering their lands and cattle. One 
day, in the year 1385, Murrogh O'Connor, the Lord of 
Offaly, had led his kerne and gallowglasses across the 
borders of his territory and after spoiling the English, 
were returning with much booty. But the men of 
Meath were not long in assembling, and under the 
leadership of Nugent and others followed hard after 
their wild and stalwart foemen, who were able, as 
Froissart says, to overtake and pull a horseman off his 
horse, but who were now retiring leisurely with their 
plunder. In the level but boggy country around the hill 
of Croghan they were overtaken and compelled to give 
battle to their pursuers. Though superior in strength 
and agility, the badly armed kerne were no match at 
close quarters for the mailed and helmeted Normans, 
and many of them fell. Still retreating, and fighting 
as they retreated, they hoped to put the bog between 
them and their foes. But there was naught but disaster 
for the fighting clan that day. Behind them were 
the English cavalry, around them an impassable bog, 
and before them a narrow causeway or tochar, across 
which the road to safety lay. And in their efforts to 
cross, numbers of them were slain by the enemy or 
smothered in the bog. This was the battle of Tochar 
Cruachan Bri Eile, in which many of the English 
nobility, Nugent, Chambers and others, and their com- 
mon soldiers entered " the vasty hall of Death " in 
company with the slain warriors of the Kinel Fiacha 
and O'Connor Sept. 


The year 1 394 is the beginning of a new era in the 
story of Ireland under English rule. For in that year 
Richard II. landed at Water ford, with 30,000 foot and 
4,000 horse, and, proceeding by slow marches along 
the coast, eventually reached Dublin Castle, where he 
summoned the Irish chieftains to meet him. The 
chiefs, awed by the overwhelming display of force, 
and induced by the hope of favourable terms, attended 
to the number of seventy-five. Among these were 
the O'Neills of the North, the McMurroughs, and the 
O'Connors. It is clear that Richard had seen the 
necessity of reforming the English mode of governing 
Ireland, and especially of removing the grievances 
and injustices under which the Anglo-Irish groaned. 
Their lot had not been improved by the Statute of 
Kilkenny, although some of its sections were " more 
honoured in the breach than in the observance." 
Constant licences and exemptions were granted by 
the Crown to the Irish to the detriment of the settler. 
It may be observed in this connexion that the English 
Government has always been represented as treating 
the Celtic population with the direst cruelty. It is 
true that if the letter of the law were strictly observed 
the native Irish would be severely handicapped. 
But there were many modes of evasion of which the 
Irish were not slow to avail themselves. For example, 
the Irish where out of the King's peace were excluded 
from the protection of the King's Court. But an ex- 
ception was made in the case of the " Five Bloods," 
the royal races of O'Neill of Ulster, O'Melaghlin of 
Meath, O'Connor of Connaught, O'Brien of Munster, 
and McMurrough of Leinster, who were styled " men 
of the King." This exception practically covered the 


whole island, as under it almost any Irishmen could 
claim the protection of the court. For instance, in 1355 
one Simon Neal brought an action of trespass against 
William Newlagh for breaking his close at Clondalkin, 
The defence was that Neal was not one of the " Five 
Bloods." But the plaintiff argued that he was of the 
blood of the O'Neills of Ulster. One might well ask 
who could prove, or who could disprove, or who could 
decide that point. We also find cases where English- 
men charged with murder put forward in defence the 
plea that the murdered man was " a mere Irishman," 
i.e., not one of the "Five Bloods," and where such a 
plea was not allowed. And we may be sure that the 
English officials of these days would not be capable 
of resisting a douceur from an Irish " enemy," for pro- 
fessional swindlers are loyal to no person or party, 
and Mr. Gilbert, in his History of the Viceroys of 
Ireland, gives us this description of those officials : 
" Many of the judges and chief legal officers of the 
Colony were illiterate and ignorant of law, obtained 
their appointments by purchase, and leased them to 
deputies, who promoted and encouraged litigation, 
with the object of accumulating fees. Ecclesiastics; 
lords, and gentlemen were not unfrequently cast into 
gaol by officers of the Crown on unfounded charges, 
without indictment or process, and detained in 
durance till compelled by rigorous treatment to pur- 
chase their liberation.'' It was not, therefore, more 
difficult for the Irish to evade the law then than now. 
In fact, they enjoyed a happy immunity and indepen- 
dence of a sort. For, though legally without the pale 
of the law, they were not disregarded politically ; and, 
according to the humour or purpose of the King and 


his Council, were bribed and petted, or whipped and 
scolded, much in the same way as naughty children 
are treated by nervous parents. 

Richard II., however, came over with the very best 
intentions of training and restraining his turbulent 
sons. His policy was to conciliate the Anglo-Irish, 
and to compel the Irish enemies to acknowledge his 
authority. But the ready submission of the hostile 
chiefs both flattered and deceived him. He enter- 
tained them with a refined magnificence, for Richard II. 
loved art as much as grandeur, and left nothing un- 
done to attract and impress. The Irish chiefs had, 
indeed, been accustomed to the royal receptions of 
the English monarchs, which Henry II. had inaugu- 
rated on a grand scale, as Hanmer describes in his 
chronicle : " Christmas drew on, which the King kept 
in Dublin, where he feasted all the provincial princes, 
and gave them rich and beautiful gifts. They repaired 
thither out of all parts of the land, and wonderful 
it was to the simple people to behold the majesty of 
so puissant a prince ; the pastime, the sport, and the 
mirth and the continual music ; the masking, mumming 
and strange shows ; the gold, the silver and the plate ; 
the precious ornaments ; the dainty dishes furnished 
with all sorts of fish and flesh, the wines, the spices, 
the delicate and sumptuous banquets ; the orderly ser- 
vice, the comely march and seemly array of all the 
officers ; the gentlemen, the esquires, the knights, and 
lords in their rich attire ; the running at tilt in complete 
harness, with barbed horses, where the staves shivered 
and flew in splinters ; the plain, honest people admired 
and no marvel." The same round of entertainments 
again took place, which were again attended by the 



Irish princes and chieftains, and again they tendered 
their homage, which the king graciously accepted. 
But Sir John Davis shrewdly remarked that " the Irish 
lords knowing this to be a sure policy to dissolve the 
forces which they were not able to resist," followed 
the same " trick and imposture " which their ancestors 
had put upon Henry II. and John. He thus 
describes this well-acted homage : " The men of 
Leinster, namely, Mac Murrough, O'Byrne, O'Moore, 
O'Murrough, O'Nolan and the chief the Kinshelages, 
in an humble and solemn manner, did their homages 
and made their oaths of fidelity to the Earl Marshall, 
laying aside their girdles, their skeins, and their caps, 
and falling down at his feet upon their knees, which, 
when they performed, the Earl gave each of them 
osculum pads (the kiss of peace)." 

They then bound themselves and their swordsmen 
to be loyal dependents, and the Wicklow chiefs, in 
return for pensions Arthur MacMurrough, chief of 
the Kavanaghs, receiving eighty marks per annum 
agree to evacuate their lands, upon which the King 
intended to plant a new colony. When all the in- 
dentures had been signed, and all the submissions 
had been tendered, the king departed, " with much 
honour, but small profit," to his own country, appoint- 
ing Roger Mortimer, the heir apparent of England, as 
his lieutenant. The old chroniclers relate some inter- 
esting incidents connected with the expedition of 
Richard. When in Dublin he offered to confer knight- 
hood on the four principal chieftains, O'Neill, O'Connor, 
O'Brien, and MacMurrough ; but these princes 
declined the dignity, stating that every Irish prince was 
knighted at seven years of age, after having broken a 


number of slender lances against a fixed shield. But 
when the honour was explained to the noblemen they 
accepted it, and it was conferred upon them in the 
Cathedral, doubtless of S. Patrick. The king then 
put them in the charge of one Henry Castide, who, as 
Froissart relates, had no little trouble in schooling the 
four noblemen, and teaching them to live and dress, 
eat and drink and behave like Englishmen. They laid 
aside their great mantles, and donned silken robes ; 
they used stirrups and saddles on horseback, and at 
table they adopted English manners, but reluctantly. 
Castide's experiences were varied by an adventure in 
which he was taken prisoner by an Irish gentleman 
" Brian Costeret, a very handsome man," who leaped 
on the back of his runaway horse and took him as 
prisoner to his house " which was strong and in a town 
(civitas or lis) surrounded with wood, palisade and 
stagnant water." 

But " Caesar's thrasonical brag I came, saw, and 
overcame," did not apply to this magnificently con- 
ceived expedition. The Irish chieftains by well affected 
humility, by bending and bowing had weakened the 
storm and broken the army that had been gathered to 
break them. But no sooner had the king and his 
army withdrawn from the shores of the green isle and 
his Deputy had proceeded to carry out the plantation 
of Wicklow, than Art MacMurrough, who had been 
suspected and imprisoned and then released, and em- 
bittered, attacked the forces of the Pale. Carlow was 
captured and the royal troops were defeated atKells,and 
Roger Mortimer, the Earl of March, and heir-apparent 
of the English throne fell in the engagement 


Emboldened by this success, in which the O'Connors 
of Offaly, the O'Moores and O'Dempseys had taken 
part, the O'Connor Faly returned to his own country 
and made preparations to avenge the defeat he had 
suffered at the pass of the bog. Receiving information 
that a strong force of the English were marching to 
plunder his country and the seat of his ancestors, he 
took a wide detour, and by forced marches was able 
to attack them in the rear, and clinging closely to their 
flanks eventually made their forces converge towards 
the very causeway that had been so fatal to his own 
clan some years before. In the battle that ensued, 
the invaders were defeated with the loss of many men 
and horses, and the Tochar Cruachan (Croghan) 
again devoured more people than the sword destroyed. 

Three years afterwards (1398), the Calvach, or 
eldest son of the O'Connor, succeeded in inflicting a 
smart defeat on the Earl of Kildare, the hereditary 
foe of his people, but with the fall of whose house in 
the days of Silken Thomas (1535) the O'Connors 
were involved. The Earl, the ancestor of the famous 
Lord Deputy of Henry VIII., of whom we shall hear 
more anon, was taken prisoner, and handed up to 
Murrough O'Connor. In 1406 Murrough O'Connor, 
" Lord of Offaly," who seems to have been a skilful 
general, defeated the English at Geashill, both parties 
having marched " to the upper part of Geashill." " It 
was on this expedition," wrote the Four Masters, 
"that the chief holy relic of Connaught, called 
Buacach Phatraig, the mitre of S. Patrick, which was 
kept at Elphin, was taken from the English." In the 
same year Meiler Bermingham slew Cathal O'Connor. 
In 1411 the same historians inform us that "the 


Sheriff of Meath was taken prisoner by O'Conor Faily, 
and he exacted a great sum for his liberation." We 
read frequently in the annals of our country of doings 
in which sheriffs figure, sometimes gloriously, some- 
times ingloriously. It seems to be part of the un- 
written code of honour, part of the noblesse oblige of 
the Celt, to resist a sheriff. It is not suggested for 
one moment that the Irishman is not as anxious as 
the native of any other country to meet his creditors 
and to pay his debts, but the prospect of a brush 
with the law, to which they know they must yield in 
the end, has an exhilarating influence upon their 
nerves, which only an Irishman can understand. 
Much of the banter and bluster that accompany 
sheriff's sales is not to be taken au grand serieux. 
Presence of mind and ready wit, or the saving grace 
of humour, is often more effectual than artillery on 
such occasions. It does not appear, however, that 
this particular sheriff had instituted any legal pro- 
ceedings against, or had any process to serve upon, 
the said " O'Conor Faily," as Meath was hfe 
jurisdiction. But, like many another good fellow, 
Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest among them, 
O'Connor could not resist the temptation of 
bagging a sheriff a temptation which had the 
additional relish in his case from the fact that 
the said sheriff was an English official, and one 
who could, in all fairness, be made to disgorge 
some of the exorbitant fees and fines he had 
squeezed out of the downtrodden English of the Pale. 
The capture of the sheriff seems to have given a sort 
of fillip to the rising spirits of the O'Connor. For 
three years afterwards (1414), with the help of 


MacGeoghegan, he succeeded in inflicting a severe 
defeat on the English, as one may infer from the fact 
that one great baron, he of Skrein, was killed, 
and another, the Baron of Slane, was taken 
prisoner. This conflict took place at Killucan, near 

But in 1421 the end came to Murrough O'Connor, 
who had taken the sheriff, and who, as the Four 
Mastershave it, "had defeated the English and Irish 
who opposed them in many battles." The great 
chief died " after having gained the victory over the 
world and the devil," and was gathered to his fathers, 
and they buried him in the Monastery of Killachaid, or 
Killoughy, the "church of the field, which had been 
founded, by a predecessor of the O'Connor sept, for 
friars. Its full name was Kill-achaidh-dromfada, or 
church of the field of the long ridge. This is in the 
barony of Ballyboy, while another church, Killeigh, 
with the same derivation, is in the barony of Geashill, 
founded by S. Sincheall (548), who is said to have 
lived to the age of 1 30, and is invoked in the Litany 
of St. Aengus, along with " 1,500 monks, twelve 
pilgrims, and twelve bishops, and S. Sinchellus the 
younger, a presbyter, who rest in Killachaidh-dromfoda 
in the region of Offaly." There are the ruins of a 
fine Franciscan abbey at Killeigh, where it is probable 
that Murtagh O'Connor, after his victory over 
MacGilpatrickand the English of Leix, retired when he 
found himself attacked by an incurable disease, and 
"died in a month after he became a friar, and after a 
well-spent life," as the Four Masters say, having ap- 
pointed Dermot O'Connor as his successor. And as 
we stand among the ruins of that pile we cannot but 


feel that we are in the presence of valiant dead, who 
might have been great. 

Here of old fought Erin's warriors, 

Here they laid their sacred dead, 
Waiting till the trump shall wake them, 

From the ridge that crowns their bed. 

The spot is peaceful, though not neglected, and 
offered a quiet resting-place to one who was weary of 
" broils and battles." 

It may surprise many to learn that the badly-armed 
Irish kerne were able to make such headway against 
the mail-clad forces with which they contended. But 
the heavily-armed English cavalry and war-horses 
which fell like a thunderbolt upon the splendid chivalry 
of France at Crecy and Poitiers were useless in the bogs 
and woods and mountain fastnesses of Ireland, just as 
the heavy Norman brigades of William II. failed to 
operate with success in the mountain fastnesses and 
ravines of Wales. In such a country heavy armour 
was an impediment, and English horses, which were 
heavier and slower than the Irish, an encumbrance. 
Here no level plains gave the much-desired opportunity 
for the cavalry charge ; and the dense woods and scrub 
made the close formation of infantry impossible, and 
obstructed the aim and volley- firing of the archers, and 
thus put out of action the most effective arm of the 
service in those days. The lightly-clad and more lightly- 
armed Irish soldier, fighting in his own native bog, or 
heath, or wood, and knowing every pass and turn of the 
country, accustomed to act and scout independently, 
and possessing the sagacity and courage of a Red 
Indian, and generally mounted on a swift horse, was 
often more than a match for his heavily-armed 


opponent who had been trained to fight in serried 
masses, and had no previous experience in guerilla war- 
fare, which requires speed and cunning more than 
strength and courage. But the English were slow to 
profit by the lessons their frequent defeats might have 
taught them. The knights trusted in their armour and 
their lances, and would not alter their style of fighting 
for an enemy they could have mown down if they had 
met them in the plains of France or England, but who, 
unfortunately for them, happened to be located in the 
midst of a rough and rugged country, reeking with 
inaccessible swamps and bristling with impenetrable 

Hence the discomfiture and practical defeat of the 
magnificent army corps which Richard II. brought with 
him in 1 399 o avenge the death of the Earl of March. 
Having landed at Waterford and marched to Kilkenny, 
the foolish monarch led his forces into the almost un- 
approachable country of the MacMurroughs. There 
the archers were useless in the woods, the cavalry were 
impeded by the bogs, and the infantry were discouraged 
by having to cut their way through the dense thickets. 
In the meantime the MacMurrough, too wary to risk 
an engagement, was constantly retreating and drawing 
his foes deeper into the woods of Carlow. Then 
supplies began to fail. And when hunger, the greatest 
enemy the soldier has to face, began to enfeeble their 
spirits and bodies, roving kerne and gallowglasses 
appeared in unexpected quarters, and having wrought 
havoc among the stragglers, speedily decamped. And 
as the horsemen rode past, the kerne would dash out 
from their ambush, and cut the reins with their pikes, 
hamstring the horses, and stab the riders with their 


sharp skeans. There was nothing for it but retreat. 
Pursued and harassed by the now triumphant enemy, 
the disheartened chivalry of England at last won the 
shore, and were gladdened by the sight of their trans- 
port ships in the offing. So this gallantly-equipped 
army, which might have made history on the fields of 
Europe, had all but gone down before the wild wood- 
men and hillsmen of Wexford, Carlow, and Kilkenny. 
Richard, however, had the sense to alter his tactics, 
and was engaged in despatching flying columns 
through the country, the only practical mode of cam- 
paign, when the fatal news arrived of the landing of 
Bolingbroke at Ravenspur. And he hastened back to 
England and to death, leaving the Irish septs to work 
out their own salvation. 


DURING the reign of Henry IV. his gallant son, Lord 
Thomas of Lancaster, was Lieutenant of Ireland, but 
only stayed here some seven months, during which 
time he was wounded in an encounter with the 
O'Byrnes of the Dublin hills, a mile from Dublin. In 
the reign of Henry V., whose whole attention was 
given to France, Lord Furnival, the Lieutenant, went 
round the Pale receiving submission from the Byrnes 
Tooles and Kavanaghs in the South, and passing on 
to the Moores, O'Connors, and O'Farrels in the West, 
and concluding with the O'Reillys, MacMahons, 
O'Neills, and O'Hanlons in the North. A record of 
his services was sent as a memorial to Henry V., then 
in France, by the grateful lords and gentlemen of the 
Pale, which Sir John Davis says he saw recorded in 
the White Book of the Exchequer at Dublin. But he 
was able to effect little permanent work owing to the 
small pay and worse discipline of his troops. 

From this date the O'Connors became formidable 
foes of the English and such of their own countrymen 
who ventured to oppose their designs. Their forays 
became bolder and more extensive. Up to the very 
walls of Dublin they came, and Cahir O'Connor 
succeeded in improving upon the exploit of Murrough 
O'Connor, who took captive the Sheriff of Meath, by 
carrying off no less a personage than the Lord Deputy 
of Ireland in 1439. The account in the Four Masters 


is that " the King of England's Viceroy arrived in 
Ireland, and was taken prisoner by Cahir, the son of 
O'Conor Faily, and after he had remained some time 
in confinement, he was ransomed by the English in 
Dublin, who delivered the son of Plunket in his stead 
to Cahir." Sir Christopher Plunket was a former 
Deputy (1432). But it is not certain who the notable 
prisoner of Cahir O'Connor was. He can not have 
been the Lord Wells who was appointed Lord 
Lieutenant in 1438, for he never came over. But it 
was probably Richard Talbot who was then in 
Ireland. The distinguished prisoner was detained in 
the castle at Killucan on the borders of the county. 

The capture of the King's chief officer in Ireland 
shows to what a low ebb the fortunes of the English 
Colony which was now reduced to the county of 
Dublin with parts of Meath, Louth, and Kildare, had 
fallen. The towns of ths sea coast were completely 
isolated, and owing to the disturbed nature of the 
country it was impossible for the great lords to attend 
the Parliament while the remaining colonists were 
compelled to pay tribute and "black rent" to the 
surrounding Irish chieftains. The fact was that the 
English nobles who tried to govern England and 
Ireland in the reign of the pious but weak-minded 
Henry VI. were unable to cope with the difficulties of 
the French campaign and the Irish rebels owing to 
their own divisions which eventually culminated in 
the great schism between the houses of York and 
Lancaster. This civil war was hailed with delight by 
the native Irish as well as by the English colonists ; 
and the two houses had no keener adherents than 
their Irish allies. The Butlers of Ormonde fought for 


the Red ; the Geraldines of Desmond and Kildare 
contended for the White Rose. But the Irish chiefs 
who fought for Richard of York must not be forgotten. 
Their presence at Wakefield Green serves to illustrate 
the weakness of the Celtic system. At the time when 
the English colonists of the Pale were at their last 
gasp, and a sudden and well-combined movement of 
the Irish septs would have swept them into the sea, 
the opportunity of liberating their country was allowed 
to pass while the Irish chieftains carried on their petty 
feuds with one another, or allowed their sympathies 
to get the better of their reason. 

The Irish statutes of the reigns of Henry VI. and 
Edward IV. fully reveal the feebleness of the Execu- 
tive and the persecution to which the colonists of the 
Pale were subjected. For instance, in the 25th, 
Henry VI., Cap. 24 (1447) we read that as there was 
" no diversity in array between the English marchers 
and the Irish enemies," and that the latter under 
colour of being English marchers, or troops for the 
defence of the frontiers, entered into the Pale, robbing 
and murdering the common people by night, it was 
ordered that an Englishman shall have " no beard 
above his mouth, that is to say, that he shall have no 
hairs upon his upper lip." For the moustache was a 
favourite appendage of the Irishman. Although some 
such regulation was necessary in order that the Irish 
highwayman masquerading as a loyal trooper might 
be more easily detected, it was hard on the English 
settlers to be ordered to remove these hirsute embel- 
lishments, if they chose to wear them, under pain of 
being seized, as Irish rebels and held to ransom as 
Irish enemies. Were the Privy Council of 1908 to 


issue such an order it might create as much stir in the 
country as the Old Age Pensions Act. 

From the same statute we learn that the lieutenants 
and justices of the land received divers Irish as liege- 
men and retainers doubtless because they were more 
easily hired and kept than English soldiers, and that 
these people, instead of acting loyally, " do rob, burn, 
and destroy the King's liegemen." For this the poor 
colonists had little or no redress. They were afraid even 
of defending themselves and their property against 
the Irish who are not to be blamed "for fear, 
as the statute says, "to be impeached," that means, 
to be brought to trial before the judges. What greater 
proof of the unjust conduct of the English officials of 
those days could be desired ? 

A statute of 1450 tells us how the marchers of the 
different countries maintained their horsemen and 
footmen, Irish as well as English. " They do coyne 
them upon the poor husbands (husbandmen) and 
tenants of the land of Ireland and oppress and destroy 
them." The expression " coyne and livery " is 
frequently met in the Statute Book, and will be 
referred to in another place. Suffice it to say here 
that coyne and livery meant the food for themselves 
and their horses which the soldiers billeted upon the 
unfortunate farmer seized. It is certain that coyne has 
nothing to do with the English coin, but means man's 
meat, while livery means horse-meat and stabling, the 
accommodation that was delivered to a traveller. 
This, however, was a case of " stand and deliver." 
Spenser informs us that " a servant's livery is so 
called from his being required to deliver it up when 
dismissed from his master's service." An expression 


in vogue in his day " the livery is served up all right," 
meaning that the carousal was kept up all night may 
throw light on some of the customs connected with 
the exaction of " coyne and livery." For the gallant 
officers in charge of the English frontiers, and 
entrusted with the defence of the English Pale, were 
not content with merely billeting their Irish kerne 
and gallowglasses as well as their own troops upon the 
English " husbands " and tenants. The same statute, 
28 Henry VI., describes other doings which were even 
more intolerable. For " the captains of the said 
marchours " brought all their people, their wives and 
their pages, and "the King's Irish enemies, both 
men and women, and English rebels, with their horse- 
men and footmen," down upon their poor " husbands " 
in time of war and peace. And the " husband" was 
compelled often to entertain one hundred of these 
gentry, horse and foot, at night suppers called 
"cuddies." Hard times were those for the English 
farmer in Ireland, Hard, indeed, was it at harvest 
time when the hay and the corn were being carted 
home to be ricked and stacked in the haggard to find 
a troop of the king's horse or of an Irish sept in 
possession of the farmyard. But harder still was it to 
have the doors of his house the Englishman's castle 
burst open in the witching hours of night by order 
of the king's officer in charge of the district, to see 
his victuals dragged forth from the larder and his wife 
and children insulted and molested by a number of 
strange men, rebels against the King and native 
tribesmen, whose conduct, even if it did not exceed 
wild hilarity, would be sufficient to cause any self- 
respecting man to feel indignation. 


Spenser, who must often have witnessed such scenes 
in which the soldiers dealt roughly with the poor men 
who were compelled to supply them with lodging and 
food, describes them with indignation, saying of the 
soldiers, " for they will not onely not content them- 
selves with such victuals as their hostes, nor yet as 
the place perhaps affords, but they will have other 
meate provided for them, and aqua vitae sent for, yea 
and money besides laid at their trenchers, which if 
they want, then about the house they walk with the 
wretched poore man and his silly wife, who are glad 
to purchase their peace with anything." 

But hardest of all was it to know that the men to 
whose keeping their lands and lives had been 
entrusted by the king and his deputy were in league 
with their enemies against them, and that " what 
tenant or husband will not be at their truce they do 
rob, spoil and kill." 

The English Government in 1450, the year of 
Jack Cade's insurrection, actually went so far as to 
allow every loyal subject of the king to take or kill 
without impeachment any notorious thief caught in 
the act of " robbing and spoiling or breaking houses 
by night or by day." And in 1466, inconsequence of 
the many highway robberies and murders that had 
been committed in the county of Meath upon " the 
faithful liege-people of the king" permission was 
granted to any person finding any thieves robbing or 
going or coming to rob or steal, to take and kill them 
and cut off their heads, which were to be brought to 
the " portreffe of the town of Trim," and to be put 
upon a spear upon the castle, and a reward was to be 
given to the slayer of the thief. By this statute the 


English Government did not exhibit its cruelty but 
confessed its inability to protect the lives and property 
of the colonists, who were completely at the mercy of 
the roving bands of Irish kerne, and who had little 
chance of putting down the " Sheppards " and 
" Turpins " of those days unaided, much less of cop- 
ing with the native chieftains on their native heath. 
It was in the same grim humour that a Chief Secretary 
of Ireland stated in the House that the victims of the 
recent cattle- scattering raids ought to protect their 
own property. Five years before the statute con- 
cerning the highwaymen of Meath, the O'Connor had 
marched with a thousand horsemen " all helmeted, 
fearless and undismayed," into the said county of 
Meath, burning and laying waste until at last " he 
received great presents from the English for granting 
them peace, as was always customary with those who 
held his place." A very small harvest of heads would 
the Portreffe of Trim have to show after such a 
thorough reaping by the Irish harvesters. 

But such campaigns as these revealed at once the 
strength and the weakness of the Irish septs. The 
tribesmen of the various clans were devoted to their 
own tribe and chief. But they had not yet learned 
that the tribe was but a portion of a greater unit 
the nation. Their patriotism was limited to the tribe 
and their loyalty to its chief. They carried on war 
more implacably with their own neighbours, their 
hereditary foes, than with the stranger, Dane, Norman, 
Saxon, or whatever he might be. There was no central 
authority which could coerce or combine the Irish 
chieftains, who ruled their own district by the sword. 
The country was divided among a number of petty 


kings and princes, whose dimensions rarely extended 
beyond the size of a modern barony, and who would 
have been invincible if united, but because they were 
simply a congeries of disorganized units were easily 
taken and dealt with in detail, but on the whole were 
difficult to conquer. 

Nor were the English slow to take advantage of 
the quarrelsome and excitable nature of the Irish, of 
whom Sydney wrote " They fight for their dinner, 
and many of them lose their heads before they be 
served with their supper." They often fostered dis- 
cords and sowed dissension among the Irish tribes. 
The State Papers of Henry VIII. make this clear. 
The Archbishop of Dublin was sent to Waterford in 
1 5 20 to make peace between the Earl of Desmond 
and Sir Piers Butler, but while publicly exhorted to 
do this was privately directed to enfeeble and diminish 
the strength of the Irish enemy '* as well as by getting 
captains from them as by putting division among 
them, so that they join not together." The story is 
also told of a Cromwellian officer who desired to reduce 
the Irish population in his district. Accordingly he 
gave a banquet and dispensed wine freely, and when 
the men had well drunk they found daggers placed 
near them with which they concluded their arguments. 
The story, no doubt, is apocryphal, but it may illustrate 
the point. 

The English estimate of the Irish character and 
affection was not high. The Government in 1537 
advised the keeping of a supply of ready money in Dub- 
lin as a remedy against rebellion, " because the nature 
of Irishmen is such that for money one shall have the 
war against the father and the father against the 



child." * Some colour is given to this statement by the 
Irish annals, which read in some places like a series 
of Newgate Calendars rather than the history of a 
civilized nation, and in others like the high-flown and 
fulsome panegyrics of the orators of declining Greece. 
There is little doubt that the annalists gloried in the 
barbaric and bloody deeds of their heroes, rather than 
in their services to the social and religious well-being 
of their tribe. Professor A. C. Richey gives an 
analysis of the Annals of the Four Masters, who were 
principally concerned with the doings of the Ulster 
and Connaught clans, from the year 1500 to 1534, 
which illustrates this point. It runs : " Battles, 
plundering, etc., exclusive of those in which the 
English Government was engaged, 116; Irish gentle- 
men of family killed in battle, 102 ; murdered, 168 
many of them with circumstances of great atrocity ; 
and during this period, on the other hand, there is no 
allusion to the enactment of any law, the founding of 
any town, monastery or church, and all this is recorded 
by the annalist without the slightest expression of 
regret or astonishment and as if such were the 
ordinary course of life in a Christian nation." 

The Book of Leinster, a collection of similar records 
of the deeds of the Leinstermen, makes one wonder 
how Dermot Mac Murrough, who was taught by its 
compiler in his youth, could have been other than he 
was cruel, revengeful and evil. This " Book " 
eulogizes the violent deeds of the Leinster men against 
the Connaught men, and at the end of every violent 
tragedy, adds with exultation " 'Twas the Leinster- 
men killed them," while the Four Masters describe 

1 A short History of the Irish People (Kane's Edition, p. 247.) 


Mortogh O'Loghlin of the Northern O'Neills, who 
was King of Ireland and the ally of Dermot Mac 
Murrough in the latter's war with O'Rourke and 
Torlogh O'Connor of Connaught, as " the Monarch 
of all Ireland, the chief lamp of the valour, chivalry, 
hospitality, and prowess of the West of the world ; a 
man who had never been defeated in battle till that 
time, and who had gained many battles." And yet 
this " Chief Lamp of the West " had broken an oath 
of peace sworn upon the staff of S. Patrick, the 
Bachall Isa, to certain chieftains, and when he had 
got them into his power blinded one, who is said to 
have been " the pillar of the prowess and hospitality 
of the Irish." And they eulogise Torlogh O'Connor, 
who broke the most solemn oaths without the slightest 
compunction, and in whose hands no man's life or 
lands were safe, and who had put out the eyes of his 
own son, Hugh, in 1136 as "the flood of the glory 
and splendour of Ireland, the Augustus of the West 
of Europe, a man full of charity and mercy, hospitality 
and chivalry." 

There must have been, indeed, something rotten in 
the state of Ireland when such lives were regarded as 
standards of honour and rectitude, and such men were 
regarded as the " Chief Lamps of the West " and 
"the floods of the glory and splendour of Ireland." 
It is little wonder that under such conditions of life 
the native tribes were not improving, and although 
they had obtained many advantages in their border 
warfare with the downtrodden English colony, who 
were reduced to the condition of the scapegoats of 
the Home Government and the tributaries of the 
enemy, were unable to come to any permanent or 


satisfactory settlement with the invaders. When the 
chiefs of neighbouring clans could not arrange a 
modus vivendi with each other, they could hardly be 
expected to come to any amicable arrangement with 
the strangers, who only wished to live peaceably with all 
men and to be allowed to trade and prosper in the land. 

Here we touch the solution of the problem, the 
lack of thrift and commercial spirit among the Irish. 
They scorned the one and they despised the other. 
It was foreign merchants, Norsemen, who came to the 
country after the removal of Turgesius, who founded 
Waterford, Limerick, and Dublin. And it was the 
Bristol merchants who made Dublin the leading city 
it was in the thirteenth and the fourteenth century. 

A few words on the doings of our metropolis and 
the general state of Ireland in the period under consi- 
deration may not be an unsuitable conclusion to this 
chapter. The citizens of Dublin showed remarkable 
activity both by land and sea in the reign of Henry 
IV. In 1400 we read in Marleburrough's Chronicle 
that " the Constable of Dublin and divers others at 
Stranford (Strangford) in Ulster, fought at sea with 
the Scots, where many Englishmen were slaine and 
drowned." The year before, the trained bands of 
Dublin had invaded the O'Brien's country and " slue 
three-and-twenty of the Irish, and tooke fourscore 
men, women and children." And in 1402, on the 
fifth of the Ides of June, after the dedication of the 
Church of the Fryers Preachers in Dublin, and per- 
haps to signalise that occasion by a worthy feat, John 
Drake, the Mayor of Dublin, issued forth with the 
citizens and townsmen near to Bre, now known as 
Bray and meaning hill, and punished some of the wild 


Wicklow tribes who had on Black Monday, in the 
year of grace 1209, massacred the Dublin citizens, 
their wives and children, as they were picnicing in 
the wood of the Cualanni, now known as Cullenswood, 
near Rathmines. John Drake and his valiant men 
-" slue of the Irish four hundred, ninety-three, being 
all men of warre." 

In 1405 we read in Marleburrough's Chronicle of a 
naval exploit of the Dublin sailors. This year which 
witnessed the capture of Prince James of Scotland on 
the high seas as he was on his way to France to learn 
"that tongue and eke courtesy," and who was 
brought to England to learn to love an English 
maiden, Lady Joan Beaufort, and to sing her praise 
in " The King's Quair," also beheld the Dublin ships 
putting into St. Ninian 1 , where their crews " valiantly 
behaved themselves, and afterwards they entred 
Wales and there did much hurt to the Welch men 
and brought away the Shrine of St Cubius, and 
placed it in the Church of the Holy Trinitie in Dublin." 

In the same year 1405 there were serious risings in 
Leix, the country of the Moores and the O'Dempsey, 
who had been encouraged by the temporary successes 
of Art MacMurrough. But James, Earl of Ormonde, 
called the Chaste, quelled these disturbances. First 
of all, " in the red moore of Athye (the sun almost 
lodged in the west and miraculously standing still in 
his epicycle the space of three hours till the feat was 
accomplished, and no pit in that bogge annoying 
either horse or man on his part) he vanquished 
O'More and his terrible army." And soon afterwards 

1 Probably Whitorn in Wigtownshire, where S. Ninian preached the 
Gospel to the Picts in the fifth century. 


he dispersed the formidable forces of Art. But James 
of Ormonde seems to have been a mild governor as 
well as a heaven-blest warrior. The O'Dempsey took 
advantage of his gentle rule and intruded into the 
castle of Leix, the property of the Earl of Kildare, 
from which he was expelled by the Deputy, who also 
" tamed the O'Briens, Burkes, MacBanons, Ogaghn- 
raghte, MacMahons, all the captains of Thomond in 
three months." All this time the Lord Justice was 
materially assisted by the clergy of Dublin, who 
processed through the street twice every week with 
prayers for his success against "those disordered 
persons which now in every quarter, had degenerated 
to their old trade of life." Very solemn must those 
litanies have been. They remind us of the solemn 
Miserere of Bishop Mamertus of Vienne in Gaul 
(460) when the clergy walked in solemn procession 
through the streets chanting their litanies for deliver- 
ance from the plague. Verily the clergy of Dublin 
were as strong in prayer as they were stout in arms. 

But our best governor died the same year, and was 
succeeded by Gerald, Earl of Kildare, 1405. Greatly 
encouraged, however, by their recent successes, the 
citizens of Dublin on Corpus Christi day, 1406, with 
the help of the country people, " manfully vanquished 
the Irish enemies and slue divers of them, and took 
two Ensignes, bringing with them to Dublin the 
heades of those whom they had slaine." 

There seems to have been an unhappy mania for 
collecting dead men's skulls in those days. Instead 
of decently interring the remains of the ill-starred 
warriors they simply cut off their heads and carried 
them off triumphantly in almost the same way as a 


Red Indian would scalp a fallen enemy, dead or alive, 
or a wolfhunter of those days would gather the heads 
of the wolves of which he had rid the land, and for 
which he claimed reward. 

In the same year we read that the Prior of Conall 
with but 20 Englishmen vanquished two hundred Irish 
that were well armed, "slaying some of them and 
chasing others," in the Curragh of Kildare, 

But all this time the Irish were giving great trouble 
to the settlers. Most pathetic is the application for 
assistance that was sent from the inhabitants of Cork, 
Youghal, and Kinsale, who were harassed by the 
Irish outlaws, who had become stronger than the 
Norman nobles of Munster owing to the dissensions 
of the latter, and of whom Lord Roche, Lord Courcy 
and Lord Barry alone remained. Nor was the Pale 
free for a day from the incursions of the raiders, who 
harried their borders, especially during the sessions 
of Parliament, " when," we read, " the Irish burned 
all that stood in their way." A strange instance of 
poetic justice is mentioned in Marleburrough's 
Chronicle. In 1408 he tells us that Hugh MacGilmore 
was slain at Cragfergus (Carrickfergus) within the 
Church of the Friars Minors, " which Church he had 
before destroyed and broken down the glasse- windows 
to have the iron barres through which his enemies 
the savages entered upon him." For one would opine 
that although the poet says : 

Stone walls do not a prison make, 
Nor iron bars a cage, 

that they would form a stouter protection than brittle 
glass against an armed host unless half-naked and 


fearful of cutting their hands and feet. But the result 
was evidently regarded not as due to an error of judg- 
ment but as the consequence of a sacrilege, very much 
as the stout De Courcy of Ulster was thought to have 
brought a curse upon himself for having altered the 
Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity in Down into 
" an Abbey of Black Monks from Chester, and dedi- 
cated the same to the honour of S. Patrick." 

The same eternal feuds continued in spite of all 
the English could do, for the Celtic blood is irrepres- 
sible, so that the colonists once more turned their faces 
towards home, but were checked in 1438 by the 
statutes against absentees. 

In 1449, a firm hand was laid upon the neck of the 
unmanageable Celt, and by kindness and firmness his 
spirit was tamed. But the same ruler Richard Duke 
of York, in his letter to his brother the Earl of 
Shrewsbury complained of Magoghigan (MacGeog- 
hegan) and his turbulence. " With him," he wrote, 
" three or four Irish Captaines associate with a great 
fellowship of English rebells. . . They have burnt down 
a great towne of thine inheritance, Ramore, and other 
villages thereabouts, and murdered and brent both 
men, women, and children without mercy. The which 
enemies be yet assembled in woods and forts wayting 
to doe the hurt or grievance to the King's subjects 
that they can thinke or imagine." 

This is a fair picture of the difficulties with which 
a Lord Lieutenant of those days had to cope ; and 
when badly paid and worse supported by the King 
and his Council we cannot be surprised if few reached 
the high standard of our best English Viceroy 
Richard Duke of York. 



WE have followed the O'Connor clan from comparative 
obscurity to considerable importance. We shall see 
how they gradually fell from the pinnacle of their 
pride. Their fall is to be ascribed to their connexions, 
hostile and friendly, with the Geraldines, and to their 
own unhappy dissensions. Some time after the capture 
of the King's Deputy the Fitzgeralds of Kildare and 
Desmond began to cast longing glances upon the rich 
pastures of Offaly, and to make themselves strong, 
with a view not only to repel their " rash intruding " 
neighbour, but also to seize his lands. The Earl of 
Desmond followed hard on the heels of the O'Connor 
as he was returning from one of the forays in Leix 
(1440). Twelve years afterwards (1452) James, Earl 
of Ormond, Lord Justice of Ireland, was compelled 
to put down the Midland septs with a firm hand. He 
overran Leix, burnt Airem, the property of O'Demp- 
sey, and marched into Offaly, where the O'Connor 
submitted to him. Seven years pass and Con 
O'Connor was defeated by Thomas, Earl of Kildare, 
and taken prisoner. The next year (1460) the rest- 
less Con defeated the English, when Hussey or Hose 
Baron of 'Galtrim was killed. These Hussey s claimed 
Birr under the grant of the town and the neighbouring 
lands of Ely O' Carroll made by King John to 
Theobald Fitzwalter, and by him transferred in part, 
i.e., Villam de Birre, to Hugh de Hose or Hussey, for 
military tenure. The Husseys of Galtrim were great 


warriors. Their war cry, Cor-deragh-aboe, or the 
cause of the great cast, was won by the courage of the 
Hussey, who slew O'Kelly and his squire at the battle 
of Athenry, already described. 

And two years afterwards the O'Connor made his 
memorable incursion at the head of a thousand horse- 
men into Meath, when he laid the whole country waste 
and departed laden with spoils and gifts. 

The English, accordingly, began in self-defence to 
plan a complete removal of this thorn in their side. 
John Fitzgerald, who was said to be " the best 
and most; renowned general of the English," mar- 
shalled his forces in Kildare and the Deputy, Thomas, 
Earl of Desmond, arranged to meet him at a certain 
place with the Dublin contingent. But Con was on 
the alert and completely frustrated his enemy's plans 
by attacking the men of Kildare before they were 
joined by the Deputy, and defeating them with much 
loss. The next day he followed up his advantage by 
giving battle to the army that was on the march from 
Dublin and fighting on his own terms succeeded in 
putting it to a complete rout and taking prisoner the 
Deputy, Thomas, Earl of Desmond. The latter was 
taken to Carbury Castle, but was soon afterwards 
rescued by his own party. However, in 1468, the 
brave Con ventured too far into the mouth of the 
Norman lion and was taken prisoner himself, and 
Teige O'Connor, " the conqueror of both English and 
Irish," died of the plague. 

Furthermore, as we frequently find in Irish history, 
tribal feuds and family troubles were effectual where 
foreign combination was unavailing. In the first place, 
a quarrel between the MacGeoghegans of Moycashel, 


Westmeath, and the O'Connors of Offaly led to a series 
of disasters for the latter, and then MacGeoghegan, 
who had hitherto assisted the O'Connors against the 
English, and had themselves in 1329 defeated an 
English force under Lord Thomas le Botiller, now 
allied themselves to the English of the Pale ; and 
although the O'Connors were able to hold their own 
against the lords of Moycastle and Kilbeggan, they 
suffered a severe defeat in 1493, when Cahir O'Connor 
Faly and many of his kinsmen were taken prisoners 
by the MacGeoghegans. 

About this same time it appears that the O'Connor 
had two of his own relations, Torlogh O'Connor and 
Cathal O'Connor hanged. It is from this point that 
we may date the downfall of the clan, which was so 
powerful when united, but when divided by internal 
disputes lay completely at the mercy of its foes. For 
Cahir himself was murdered in 1511 by his own kins- 
men, doubtless in revenge for friends Cahir had caused 
to be murdered. From that murder, the feud which 
eventually split up the O'Connors in Queen Elizabeth's 
reign into the Queen's O'Connors and the Irish 
O'Connors, began in real earnest. This Cahir O'Con- 
nor, who is described as " a general entertainer of 
learned men and a distinguished military leader 
among the English and Irish," was attacked near the 
Monastery of Monasteroris, called after the Irish name 
MacFeoris, adopted, as we have already seen, by Sir 
John Bermingham, just as the names McWilliam 
lochtar and McWilliam Uachtar were taken by the 
Connaught Burkes, who became more Irish than the 
Irish themselves, and affected Irish dress, customs and 
language. Within sight of the consecrated walls and 


hallowed ground of the abbey, which the hereditary 
foe of the O'Connors had built nearly two centuries 
before, the head of the clan was slain by his own 
relations, the sons of Teige. This was in the year 

The seed of dissension thus sown bore a bitter fruit 
in the family of the reigning Prince of Offaly. Brian 
and Cahir were brothers. Of these Brian seems to 
have been the elder, but not necessarily the heir. 
They do not appear to have been very loyal or affec- 
tionate to one another. However, Brian, undisturbed 
by this family disagreement, which was nothing out 
of the beaten track of an O'Connor's life, arranged 
with the O'Moores and O'Carrolls to invade the Eng- 
lish Pale (1521). 

The Lord Lieutenant, at the time, was Surrey, a 
most capable and enterprising officer, who had already 
written a very strong letter to Henry VIII. in which 
he insisted that Ireland should be conquered by arms, 
and that to attempt to kill rebellion by pacific 
measures was impracticable. The King had advised 
his officer to win the Irish chieftains " by circumspect 
and politic ways," to obey the English laws, and 
" following justice, to forbear to detain rebelliously 
such lands and dominions as to us in right apper- 
taineth." And his deputy is urged to appeal to the 
reason of these chieftains and their sense of fair play, 
and "to show unto them that of necessity it is 
requisite that every reasonable creature be governed 
by a law." By this means the King thought an entry 
could be made into the inaccessible parts of the 
country, and that " our lands detained by usurpation 
might be reduced to our possession." But he directs 


his Deputy to proceed ''politically, patiently, and 
secretly , that the Irish lords conceive no jealousy or 
suspicion that they shall be constrained precisely to 
live under our laws or put from all the lands by them 
now detained." 

But Surrey wrote on the i6th December, 1520, 
beseeching the King that "if the King's pleasure be 
not to go through with the conquest of this land, 
which would be a marvellous charge, no longer to 
suffer me to waste his Grace's treasure here." In this 
clause Surrey had struck home. For Henry VIII., 
though prodigal in his pleasures, was a miser in 
matters of State. He grudged the spending of the 
17,000 a year that was required for the upkeep of a 
respectable army in Ireland for the defence of the four 
shores of the Pale. We shall see how his avarice led 
him afterwards (1532) to appoint the Earl of Kildare 
as Lord Deputy. And in an answer to another letter 
from Henry, in which the expenses of the standing 
army in Ireland were impressed upon the Deputy's 
mind, Surrey wrote back on the 3Oth June, 1521, 
saying " After my poor opinion, the land shall never 
be brought to good order and subjection but only by 
conquest, which is, at your Grace's pleasure, to be 
brought to pass in two ways. One way is, if your 
Grace will one year set on hand to win one country, 
and another year another country, and so continue, 
till at length all be won." In Surrey's opinion, a force 
of 6,000 men were required : whereas the king was 
only willing to give 800, and the country could not be 
subdued in less than ten years, for, as he said, " the 
countries here be as strong or stronger as Wales, and 
the inhabitants of the same can, and do live, more 


hardly than any other people, after mine opinion, in 
Christendom or Turkey, and " may have three or four 
thousand Irish Skottes whensoever and as often as 
they will call for them." It is not, therefore, to be 
imagined that such a commander, alert and alive to 
all the difficulties of his task, could be found napping 
even by the astute O'Connor. Indeed, he managed 
to surprise O'Connor, and with the assistance of the 
Mayors of Drogheda and Dublin and the loyal nobles 
defeated the confederates, who retreated in different 
directions. O'Connor retired to his castle at Monas- 
terois, a place of great natural strength, and leaving 
a strong garrison to defend it, made a dash for West- 
meath, in order to draw off his enemy's forces from 
his own lands and towns. But while he was engaged 
in devastating the farmsteads of the English settlers, 
the Deputy had followed up his advantage by besieg- 
ing the Irish garrison in Monasteroris with such 
vigour and skill that though it was " the strongest 
hold within the Irishry," they were fain to escape 
under cover of the night, and to leave the castle in the 
possession of the royal forces. 

Surrey then employed his forces in ravaging the 
lands of the absent chieftain. He " destroyed much 
goodly corn and burnt many towns and houses." This 
had the desired effect of drawing the O'Connor away 
from the English settlements, and making him return 
to defend his own, but finding that Monasteroris was 
in the hands of the English, he withdrew to the 
recesses of his own bogs and woods, whence he made 
sudden and unexpected sallies upon the English, in 
one of which Edward Plunket, Lord Dunsany, fell. 

After this initial exchange of courtesies, Surrey 


withdrew his forces to the capital to collect a larger 
army, while O'Connor and his allies were left at peace 
for a time to prepare for another campaign, one of the 
saddest, but yet -one of the most interesting, in the 
annals of Irish history. 

In the meantime we may take a glance at the 
affairs of the English Pale, where life was now more 
intolerable than ever. We have seen how the English 
colonists had been deprived of their moustachios by a 
statute of Henry VI., lest they should be mistaken 
for Celts. A similar order was made in Edward IV's. 
reign, 1467, with regard to the upper lips of the Irish- 
men who had made their home in the counties of 
Dublin, Meath, Uriel (Louth) and Kildare, and had 
not been allocated to the various Irish towns in the 
country. The fact that there were a " multitude " of 
such people to be sworn as the King's liegemen within 
the borders of the Pale shows that the statute of Kil- 
kenny was more honoured in the breach than in the 
observance. A feeble attempt was now made to 
assimilate these Irish people to their English neigh- 
bours in appearance and in name. They were ordered 
to remove " the beard above their mouth," to go 
" like an Englishman in apparel/' and to " take to 
him an English surname of a town as Sutton, Ches- 
ter, Trym, Skryne, Cork, Kinsale, or colour, as white, 
black, brown ; or art or science, as smith or carpenter ; 
or office, as cook, butler ; and he and his issue shall 
use this name under pain of forfeiting of his goods 
y early. " From this assortment of worthy if not 
musical English names the Kinsellaghs, MacNamaras, 
O'Molloys, O'Shaughnessys and O'Morchoes had to 
take their choice under pain of losing their goods. 


That was the humour of the statute. Upon this 
compulsory exchange of the Irishman's surname, and 
the threatened forfeiture of his property, a Celt of a 
later age might have moralised somewhat in the words 
of lago in Shakspeare's Othello- 
Who steals my purse steals trash ! 'tis something, nothing^ 

But he that filches from me my good name 
Robs me of that which not enriches him, 
And makes me poor, indeed. 

At a recent meeting in Dublin a certain worthy 
citizen with an English name objected to having it 
"turned upside down in Irish." But what must have 
been the feelings of a Diarmaid O'Halloran when 
addressed as Jeremiah Black, or a Timothy McCarthy 
when styled Tim Brown, or a Cathal O' Carroll when 
called Charles White, or a Torlogh O'Donoghoe to 
have to assume the brief appellation of Terence Gray ! 

It was bad enough to lose one's moustache, the 
growth of which had been so anxiously watched and 
tended ; it was worse to be compelled to lay aside the 
picturesque and highly coloured garment in which the 
Irish, who rejoiced in colours, arrayed their muscular 
forms, and don the sober livery of an Englishman ; 
but it " was the most unkindest cut of all " to be 
shorn of their musical and high sounding names which 
they had carried with more or less distinction since 
the Milesian conquest, and which reminded them, not 
merely of their own family, but also of the sept with 
whose varying fortunes their deepest sympathies and 
highest sentiments were associated. 

In the meantime, the Irish Parliament, which might 
have become a constitutional and representative 


assembly, had by reason of the lawlessness of the 
country, which made it dangerous for the country 
members of the Houses to attend at Dublin, Kilkenny, 
Drogheda or Trim (1416), at which places the parlia- 
ments were then summoned, and owing to the control 
exercised by the officials of the Crown, had been 
reduced to a condition of utter helplessness and use- 
lessness. Before the ruin of the English Pale it had 
met regularly and transacted its business in an inde- 
pendent spirit. But it was now but a pliable instrument 
in the hands of the king and his advisers, and seems 
to have been only summoned when subsidies were 
required by the English Government for its foreign 
wars. The lords of the Upper House, peers, prelates 
and priors, were conspicuous for their absence. Nobles, 
like Desmond and Ormonde claimed exemption; 
while the bishops and abbots sent proctors to represent 
them. Hence the custom arose of summoning two 
proctors from each diocese, who sat with the knights, 
citizens and burgesses in the lower house, and claimed 
to be representatives of the clergy and entitled to vote. 
The knights of the shires, who had been summoned 
in Ireland since 1264 were not a strong body, as there 
were only four shires in the Pale, while the burgesses, 
who had been summoned since 1295, could only attend 
from a few towns. Many of these had not even gone 
through the formality of an election, having received 
the writ directly from the king. It would, indeed, be 
hard to find an assembly less deserving of the name 
of Parliament. It was simply a Dublin Council in 
the hands of the king's officer. But its history proves 
the truth of the saying, that " even a worm will turn." 
For this generally supine and invertebrate assembly 



dared on one occasion at least to act with a spirit 
worthy of Stephen Langton, Simon de Montfort and 
other makers of England and founders of its freedom. 
It was when the Duke of York crossed the Irish Sea 
in 1459, having been deserted by his own forces, who 
were seized with a panic when Henry VI. marched 
against him at Ludlow, and threw himself upon the 
loyalty and devotion of the English Pale. He had 
been sent by Henry VI., who wanted to be rid of him, 
to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant in 1449, and had won 
golden opinions from Norman, Saxon and Celt by his 
noble character and high ideals. He had left Ireland 
in 1454 to assume the protectorate in England, but 
now returned to the land where " he had exceedingly 
tyed unto him the hearts of the noblemen and gentle- 
men," and was received in a different manner from 
that in which any other English protector was greeted. 
Although under the attainder of the English Govern- 
ment, in which the Lancastrian party had for the time 
gained the upper hand, the Irish house acknowledged 
Richard of York as its Viceroy, and supported by 
him asserted its independence and its right to be 
bound only by its own laws, and to coin money, and 
declared that no Irish subject was bound to answer 
any writs save those issued under the great seal of 

These were no mere words, as was proved by the 
terrible earnestness with which the Irish nobles, 
especially of the houses of Kildare and Desmond, some 
twenty years afterwards threw themselves into the 
cause of Lambert Simnel, who personated the Earl 
of Warwick, and was crowned in Christ Church 
Cathedral, Dublin, with great pomp by the Bishop of 


Meath in May, 1486, a coronation which was attended 
by the Earl of Kildare, the Lord Deputy with "the 
lords of the Council and other great men of quality." 
The crown won by the future scullion and falconer of 
Henry VII. consisted of a diadem taken from an 
image of the Virgin in the nunnery of St. Mary. 
And the sham monarch was carried, according to an 
old Irish usage, upon the shoulders of an Irish giant 
"called Great Darcy of Flatten" to Dublin Castle, 
and escorted by 2,000 German troops under Martin 
Schwartz, sent by the Duchess of Burgundy, who 
supported the claims of the pretender who was intro- 
duced to the Earl of Kildare by a priest, Sir Richard 
Symonds, as the son of the Duke of Clarence. In 
Smith's " History of Waterford," we read how John 
Butler, Mayor of Waterford, refused to receive the 
pretender, and how the Butlers collected their forces 
and prepared to resist the claims of Kildare's proteg6. 
But numbers of the Earl of Kildare's faction, including 
Thomas Fitzgerald, his own brother, followed Simnel 
to Lancashire, and shared in his defeat at Stoke and 
the leniency with which the king treated him. And 
when the fraud was discovered the Irish still believed 
in him. He was followed by Perkin Warbeck, who 
landed in Cork in 1490, and personated Richard 
Plantagenet and found many adherents in Ireland, 
who suffered for their hotheadedness in Cornwall and 
on the block. 

Even though the utterances of this parliament of 
1459 were dignified and noble, they brought sorrow 
to Ireland, for they alienated the feelings of the 
Lancastrian party from Ireland and its parliament. 
And in 1492 Henry VII., who could not forget that 


the house of York was the popular party with the 
English of the Pale, or forgive the Geraldines' adher- 
ence to the Duke of York's family, superseded the 
Earl of Kildare and appointed Walter Fitz-Simon, 
Archbishop of Dublin, as Deputy in his room, and 
Sir James Butler as High Treasurer in the stead of 
Fitz-Eustace, the earl's father-in-law. And shortly 
afterwards (1494) sent over Sir Edward Poynings, who 
drove back the native Irish and summoned the historic 
parliament of Drogheda which, after passing a number 
of useful laws for the benefit of the natives and the 
protection of the dwellers in the Pale from the extor- 
tions of the great lords, took away all initiative from 
the Irish Parliament and reduced it to the dependent 
condition it occupied for centuries, when it was 
alternately the mouthpiece of the Geraldines and the 
Butlers, but in which men had once acted with spirit. 
Among the new regulations was one declaring it to be 
unlawful to incite the natives to war, to engage in 
private hostilities, and to practise coyne and livery. 
Owners of march lands were required to reside on 
their lands and under heavy penalties were ordered to 
see that no Irish rebel or enemy crossed the border. 
Citizens were not to become the retainers of the lords, 
and judges were only to hold office during the king's 
pleasure. The Statutes of Kilkenny (1367) were also 
renewed, with the exception of those relating to the 
use of the Irish language and the non-use of saddles 
a custom which had become too general to be put 
down by edict. 

The Statutes of ^Kilkenny may sound very terrible 
in our ears ; but it was a voice in the wilderness during 
the century and more, that elapsed between the date 


of its enactment and this Act of Sir Edward Poynings 
(1494). Its object had been like the Mosaic legislation, 
to raise a barrier between the English of the Pale and 
the Irish inhabitants, and to check every kind of 
communication between the two races. Hardiman 
described it as " no more than a peevish and revenge- 
ful expression Duke Lionel felt from the opposition 
he had met with and the loss of the lands he had 
come over to claim." The purpose of the Act which 
condemned marriage alliances, gossiped and fosterage 
with the Irish, the use of the Irish language, and the 
Brehon law, styled by the Drogheda Parliament as 
" the wicked and damnable law called Brehon Law," 
and the adoption of Irish customs and dress was to 
prevent the English becoming more Irish than the 
Irish themselves, and like the lotus eaters forgetting 
their own country. But the statute was in many 
respects a dead letter ; for it was not founded on public 
opinion, was not granted in response to the demands 
of any portion of the English community, was resented 
by the English as well as by the Irish, and could not 
be enforced without a police or military force. Such 
a statute was a sign of weakness and savoured rather 
of hysterics than politics. 

Poynings' Act of 1494, which is rather extrava- 
gantly styled by Ritchie as "the most disgraceful Act 
ever passed by an independent legislature," meant 
nothing more than the removal of the rag of power 
and the simulacrum of rule, which had been absurdly 
paraded by the Irish Parliament for some centuries, 
and the exorcism of the ghost of the spirit of freedom 
which had haunted for many years their Council 
Chamber, a strange visitant which on the occasion that 


it appeared, bewildered the members themselves and 
alarmed their opponents. Henry VII. was determined 
to remove whatever sting the Irish Parliament might 
still possess. And he may have had the idea of still 
further crippling the broken power of the English 
soldiers in the presence of the Celtic population, and 
of provoking the latter to repeat their incursions, so 
as to prevent the colonists from ever becoming a 
menace to the Welsh house of Tudor. 

The clause of the Act which evoked so much 
criticism was to the effect that " no parliament be 
holden hereafter in the said land (of Ireland) but at 
such season as the King's Lieutenant and Council 
there first do certify the king, under the great seals 
of that land, the causes and considerations, and acts 
affirmed by the king and his council, to be good and 
expedient for that land, and his licence thereupon, as 
well in affirmation of the said causes and acts, as to 
summon the said parliament under his great seal of 
England had and obtained ; that done, a parliament 
to be had and holden after this form and effect before 
rehearsed : and if any parliament be holden in that 
land hereafter, contrary to the form and provision 
aforesaid, it be deemed void and of none effect in law." 

Consequently no parliament could be summoned in 
Ireland without the permission of the king and his 
council, and no bills could be introduced into any 
parliament so summoned without the king's consent. 
The Irish Houses of Parliament were in this manner 
reduced to an office for the registration of English law 
in Ireland. The result was not altogether so bad as 
represented; for by this means the Anglo-Norman 
factions, the Butlers and Geraldines, whose councHs 


and opinions were voiced from time to time in Dublin, 
as now one and now the other gained the predomin- 
ance, were held in check. A sketch of these rival 
factions is required to explain the political situation 
which ended with so much disaster to the O'Connors, 
and will be given in the following chapter. It will be 
sufficient to add here that this was not the first or the 
last attempt to muzzle the Irish Houses of Parliament. 
In 1376 Edward III., desiring to obtain a grant of 
subsidies for his wars, had ^ammoned the bishops, 
peers, and representatives of Ireland to a parliament 
in London. They attended, but under protest. The 
protest of the Archbishop of Armagh may be read in 
Leland's History of Ireland (l. 363-397): "We do 
not grant," it ran, " to the representatives we have 
elected any power of assenting to burthens or taxes 
to be imposed on us or our clergy." In 1460 another 
declaration of independence was made ; Cromwell 
held the next union parliament at Westminster ; and 
in 1 80 1 the parliaments were united. 


WE have said that one good result of Poynings' Act 
was the restraint upon the perpetual feuds of these 
rival houses of Kildare and Ormonde. This was a 
boon to the law-abiding gentry and citizens of Dublin, 
Kilkenny, Waterford, and other towns, whose peace 
was disturbed by the tumults caused by these nobles 
and the brawls of their retainers and followers in the 
streets, and who, utterly indifferent for the most part 
to the casus belli, might well exclaim with Mercutio 
" A plague o' both your houses ! " For just as 
Verona was kept in perpetual ferment by the 
Montagues and Capulets, the towns and villages of 
the Pale were disturbed by these rival factions, whose 
battle cries Cromabo and Butler abo resounded at every 
hour of the night, but were made penal offences by 
the new Act. 

A brief review of these distinguished families may 
not be out of place. The Butlers of Ormonde, which 
eventually became all powerful in Ireland, and still 
retains much of its former prestige, are descended from 
Theobald Walter, a nephew of Thomas, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, who was made hereditary Chief Butler to 
King Henry II. Theobald obtained grants of land 
in Kilkenny and Tipperary. One of his descendants, 
Edmund le Botiller, was created Earl of Carrick in 
1315, and his son, James Butler, who married a kins- 
woman of Edward III., was created Earl of Ormonde 


(Oir jMumhan or East Munster) in 1328, and was 
made Lord Lieutenant the following year. In 1391 
the Earl of Ormonde purchased Kilkenny Castle from 
the descendants of Strongbow's granddaughter Isabel, 
and the influence of the family was gradually extended 
by successful marriages in England. In Ireland, this 
house by degrees became omnipotent in Kilkenny and 
North Tipperary, where the English colonists had 
established many castles, towns and monasteries. But 
in the city of Dublin the house of Kildare, living in 
greater proximity to the metropolis, was naturally the 

The greatest representative of this family was the 
gallant marquis who held Ireland for King Charles II. 
against Cromwell, but whose army was defeated by 
Colonel Jones in the battle of Rathmines, then some 
distance outside the city walls. The peaceful citizens 
of that prosperous and populous township little dream 
of that fateful night in March 1649 when a gallant 
little force of 1,500 of Ormonde's troops under Captain 
Purcell set out in darkness to assault the city, which 
was in the hands of Jones, the Parliamentary general, 
but their plans miscarried, and, like the Highland 
Brigade that marched upon death at Magersfontein, 
were cut to pieces, and then the main body in the 
camp being suddenly attacked by the Dublin garrison, 
who had followed up their success with lightning 
speed, were completely routed. 

The Butlers were always at variance with the 
Geraldines ; and doubtless from a spirit of rivalry 
which dictated the smallest details as well as the main 
lines of their policy, selected opposite sides in every 
civil war. Around the Lancastrian standard were to 


be found the Butlers, while the Geraldines were 
Yorkist to the backbone. And afterwards the Butlers 
became the staunchest supporters of the English 
Crown ; while the Geraldines frequently followed an 
opposite course, and produced some worthy rebels. 

The Geraldines, the rival house of Kildare, are said 
to have been of Florentine origin, and this connection 
is mentioned in the Earl of Surrey's sonnet on one of 
the earl's sisters, afterwards Lady Clinton, whom he 
greatly admired during his term of office 1520-1522. 

From Tuscane came my Ladye's worthy race, 
Fair Florence was sometime her ancient seate, 
The Western Isle whose pleasant shore doth face, 
Wild Cambre's cliffes did give her lively heate. 

One record that Campion saw mentioned a 
Geraldine, the first Earl of Kildare, in the year 1289, 
and another " saith there dyed a Geraldine, the fourth 
Earle of Kildare, in anno 1316." The eldest son of 
the earl was called Baron of Ophalye. The same 
authority states that he read of a Geraldine " Lord of 
Ophalye" in the year 1270. 

An interesting story is told of the manner in which 
the Leinster Fitzgeralds took for their crest an ape 
with a broken chain. Woodstock Castle, near Athy, 
went on fire, and all the inmates were saved but the 
infant heir, who was left behind in the flames. 
Suddenly to the delight of the terrified people a scream 
was heard on the battlements and a great ape was 
seen making its way along the parapet and down the 
sides of the wall into safety with the babe tenderly 
held in its mouth. 

This family became in the following century all 
powerful, reached the zenith of its glory in 


Henry VIIPs. reign, and delighted to measure its 
strength with the Ormondes. Neither family could 
like or -trust the other. A remarkable case in point 
was the conference between Sir James Ormonde and 
the great Earl of Kildare in S. Patrick's Cathedral. 

This Earl of Kildare had been appointed Lord 
Deputy by Henry VII. in 1496. He had been 
attainted by Poynings' Parliament and sent a prisoner 
to the Tower, which he left to take up the position of 
Governor of Ireland. It is said that he owed his 
promotion from his precarious position, which might 
have led to the block, to his own presence of mind 
and adroitness in the royal presence. For when 
accused before the king by the Archhishop of Cashel 
and the Bishop of Meath of having burnt down the 
Cathedral of Cashel, the earl admitted it. " Spare 
your proofs," quoth he, " I own I did burn the church, 
but I thought the Archbishop was in it." When 
advised by the king to provide himself with good 
counsel, he answered : " If I may choose I shall have 
the best counsel in England." And when the king 
enquired who that might be, he replied, " Marry, the 
king himself." The bishop then made many charges 
concluding with the words " All Ireland, sire, cannot 
govern this earl." "Then," said the king: "the 
earl shall rule all Ireland." 

This story may be apocryphal, but the fact remains 
that the king, a wise monarch with a shrewd know- 
ledge of human nature, had seen the failure of the 
policy of governing Ireland through exclusively Eng- 
lish officials, and had decided to entrust the Govern- 
ment to the most turbulent and powerful nobleman, 
who might possibly be converted by the complimen 


into a trusty supporter. So it fell out. For the Earl 
of Kildare never wavered in his allegiance to Henry VII. 
Another consideration which weighed with the king 
was that of expense. Of a saving disposition, he saw 
in the generous and open-handed Irishman one who 
would be likely to undertake the duties of Government 
without the emoluments of office. 

Returning to Ireland as governor for the king, the 
earl strove to carry out his compact loyally. He 
attacked the Irish insurgents, and defeated them in 
several places. He made himself strong in the land 
and his name feared. He became reconciled with the 
Archbishop of Armagh, but his conference with Sir 
James Ormonde was not equally successful. Invited 
to a personal interview to explain his conduct, Sir 
James marched with a large bodyguard to Dublin, 
where the citizens and followers of Kildare armed 
themselves in self-defence. S. Patrick's Cathedral, the 
place appointed for the interview, became rapidly 
filled with armed men. These soon grew impatient 
at the length of the conference, and the retainers of 
both noblemen discharged their arrows in every direc- 
tion, damaging the church and its ornaments, for 
which profanation the Mayor of Dublin was con- 
demned, it is said, to walk barefoot every year on 
Corpus Christi Day. Of this unpleasant duty the 
Reformation has relieved the Lord Mayors of that 
city. In alarm Sir James Ormonde took refuge in 
the Chapter House, bolting the heavy door after him. 
Having pacified his followers, and quelled the tumult 
with a few stern words, Kildare hastened after 
Ormonde, and entreated him to come forth. But he 
refused. Whereupon a piece was cut out of the door 


by order of Kildare, so that they might clasp hands 
through the door. But Ormonde hesitated, and then 
Kildare passed his hand through, and the other clasped 
it. The door was then opened, and the two noble- 
men embraced in view of their followers. This door, 
which witnessed this dramatically-conceived, but 
hollow, compact is among the well-preserved treasures 
of the cathedral. 

Although the interview ended with a show of 
friendship there was little love lost between the rivals. 
This was demonstrated by the fact that shortly after- 
wards Kildare gave his daughter, Margaret, in marriage 
to Pierce Butler, Earl of Ormond, a rival of Sir James, 
who is described by Stanihurst as "a plain, simple 
gentleman, saving in feats of arms." But Margaret, 
his countess, who espoused the quarrel of the Butlers 
against the Geraldines, then under Earl Gerald, who 
had succeeded his father in 1513 as Lord Deputy of 
Ireland, seems to have inherited the masterful and 
resourceful character of her father. Here is Stanihurst's 
vignette of her : " a lady of such port that all estates 
of the realm crouched unto her, and such a politician 
that nothing was thought substantially debated with- 
out her advice. She was tall of stature, and masculine ; 
very bountiful, a fast friend, a bitter enemy, seldom 
disliking whom once she liked, not easily liking whom 
once she disliked." It may have been through her 
influence that Pierce, Earl of Ormonde, was made 
Lord Deputy on the recommendation of the noble and 
gallant Earl of Surrey, who departed from these shores, 
amid universal regret, in 1521. This Pierce was 
called Pierce the Red, and it was with regard to his 
oppression that the very unceremonious message was 


sent to Henry VIII. from Gillpatrick of Ossory : 
" Stand my lord king, my lord Gillpatrick has sent me 
unto thee to say that if thou dost not chastise Peter 
the Red he will make war upon thee." 

The Earl of Kildare, the father of Margaret Butler 
Henry VI Fs nominee proved an excellent ally of 
England. During his term of office, 1496-1513, the 
Crown regained the authority it had lost, and the 
Pale was secured against the encroachments of the 
tribes. But Kildare was not content with merely re- 
building the fenced cities and border castles of the 
colony, he carried his arms into Connaught in order 
to check the turbulence of Ulick Bourke, Lord 
Clanrickarde, who also rejoiced in the name of 
McWilliam. Supported by his northern allies, O'Neill 
and O'Donnell, and the trained bands of Dublin and the 
Pale, Kildare met the forces of Connaught and the 
clans of Munster, including the O'Carrolls of Ely, at 
Knocktuadh (Knocktow), near Galway city, and dis- 
persed them with great slaughter, entering the city on 
the following day. In the battle of Knocktuadh, 
fought in the same picturesque district of Connemara, 
to which the descendants of Conmac, son of the famous 
Queen Maev, have given their name, and which had 
witnessed the half mythical battle of Moytura, between 
the Firbolgs and the Tuatha De Danann, Nugent, 
lord of Delvin, behaved with gallantry. Kildare's 
forces were inferior in numbers, and many of his 
officers advised a retreat. Upon this Nugent spurred 
his horse forward against the Irish, and hurled a spear 
with such dexterity that it struck one of the Burkes, 
and then rode back to his own troop, which immedia- 
tely charged the enemy. It is urged by Sir John 


Davis against Kildare that " his journey was not 
made by warrant of the king, or upon his charge, but 
only on a private quarrel of the Earl of Kildare/' 
Private animosity lay at the bottom of the whole 
matter. The Lord Deputy's sister, Lady Eleanora 
Fitzgerald, had married Henry O'Neill, and their son, 
Turlough, had a quarrel with another O'Neill. The 
Lord Deputy invaded Ulster to support his nephew^ 
while Ulick Burke, Lord Clanrickarde, who had a 
private grudge against the Deputy, took the opportu- 
nity of gathering the western clans against him. 

The result, however, was good for the English power^ 
for it showed the Irish " rebels" and "enemies" 
that the days of English decadence were ended, and 
that the King's Deputy was not only prepared to take 
the offensive, but likely to prove dangerous ; and it 
crushed for a time the power of the O'Briens of 
Thomond, who had been a veritable thorn in the side 
of the English, from the days (1369) when Murragh- 
en-Ranagh, or Morris of the Fern, collected his law- 
less bands in the wilds of Clare, so called from the 
clar or wooden bridge across the Fergus river, and 
sweeping over the hills, destroyed Killaloe, Buttevant, 
Inchiquin and other towns, and demonstrated the truth 
of the Welsh historian's words "When the Irish 
are bad, you can no where meet with worse ; but if 
they be good, you can scarcely find better." By 
Poynings' Act of 1494 an attempt was made to silence 
for ever the voice of Anglo- Irish independence ; by 
the battle of Knocktow in 1497 the Irish septs received 
a salutary lesson. 



WE are now drawing near to one of the most in- 
teresting, but, from the Irish standpoint, one of the 
most disastrous campaigns in the history of the Dukes 
of Leinster and of the O'Connor clan, which culminated 
in the foolish and fatal rebellion of Silken Thomas. 

In 1513 Henry A I Fs Deputy, the Earl of Kildare, 
during a campaign against the O'Carrolls of Ely, 
which will be noticed in the chapter on that clan, and 
was succeeded by his son, Gerald, one of the most 
brilliant and most unfortunate of the Geraldines. At 
the very beginning of his office he was attacked by 
Wolsey, who had been made Chancellor in 1515, and 
hated the Geraldines. In consequence of Wolsey's 
representations, the earl was summoned to London 
in 1 5 19 to answer the charge of assuming sovereign 
power in the land. But his wit, presence, and courage 
carried him out of his difficulties. He replied to 
Wolsey's accusations before Henry VIII. in the same 
manner as his father had defended himself in the 
presence of Henry VII. "Would, my lord," he said, 
" that you and I had changed kingdoms but for one 
month. I could gather more crumbs in that little 
space than twice the revenues of my poor earldom. 
Upbraid me not with such an odious storm. I slumber 
in a hard cabin ; you sleep softly on a bed of down. 
I serve under the cope of heaven, you are served 
under a gorgeous canopy. I drink water out of a 


skull; you drink wine out of a golden cup. My 
courser is trained to the field, your jennet is taught to 
amble. You are begraced, belorded, crouched and 
knelt to, but I find small grace with our Irish borderers 
except I cut them by the knee." 

The case looked black against the earl. He had, 
indeed, made common cause with the " Irish enemies " 
in many a conflict, and was more popular with the 
Irish chieftains than his rival, the Earl of Ormonde. 
But his personal popularity had won him many friends 
at the English Court, where he married the Lady 
Elizabeth Grey, a daughter of the house of Dorset 
and he was finally acquitted, and attended Henry at 
"the Field of the Cloth of Gold," (1520), where his 
splendour and extravagance were conspicuous. The 
Earl of Surrey, who had been Lord Deputy, resigned 
in 1522, and in 1523 Kildare returned to Ireland to 
find a strong party against him, and many of his 
castles destroyed by the Earl of Ormonde, who was 
now ordered to resign office in favour of his rival. 
But Kildare did not enjoy his ascendency long. He 
was ordered to arrest one of his friends, Desmond, 
who was carrying on an intrigue with Francis I. of 
France, the enemy of Henry VIII. ever since that un- 
fortunate wrestling bout at the Field of the Cloth of 
Gold ; but he did not do so. 

Summoned to London to explain, he was cast into 
the Tower from which the good offices of his friends 
at last set him free. He returned to Ireland with Sir 
William Skeffington (1530) and succeeded him as Lord 
Deputy in 1532. But his fortunes were materially 
affected by two alliances which he had previously 
made. He gave his daughters in marriage to two 



Irish chieftains, Fearganainm (the man without a name) 
O'Connor of Offaly and Bryan O'Carroll of Ely, in 
order to strengthen his position against the powerful 
house of Ormonde and to win popularity among the 
Irish "enemies." But the consequences of these 
alliances proved fatal to the earl. For owing to his 
enforced absence in England the O'Connor had risen 
in revolt and treacherously seized the person of Richard 
Nugent, Lord Devlin, who was Lord Deputy at the 
time (1526-1528), and thrown him into prison. Con- 
cerning this outrage Sir Piers Butler, who had by order 
of Henry VIII. resigned his title, Earl of Ormonde, 
in favour of Sir Thomas Boleyn, and taken that of 
Earl of Ossory, wrote a virtuous letter saying " After 
the taking of the Baron of Delvin treacherously by 
the Earl of Kildare's son-in-law O'Connor, all the Irish 
determined to have joined in aid with the said 
O'Connor for the destruction of your English Pale 
through the practice of the said Earl of Kildare." He 
also adds " Kildare's object at this time is to compel 
the Irish to combine and confederate with him, having 
no regard to the King's Deputy. He would make 
all the land believe that the Deputy is sent only to be 
his instrument " words which were calculated to rouse 
the ire of a monarch whose policy might be summed 
up in the words of another potentate, Uetat cest moi. 

In 1 525, Kildare had written an equally self-righteous 
letter concerning the misdemeanours of the Earl of 
Ormonde, which is preserved in the Carew manuscripts. 
In it he stated that " all the churches for the most 
part, within the counties of Kilkenny and Tipperary, 
are in such extreme decay by provision, that no divine 
service is kept there, and it shall be well proved that 


few or none laboureth to the apostle of any benefice 
there without the consent of the said earl or my lady 
his wife, by whom he is only ruled, which are the 
maintainers of all such provisions, in so much as they 
lately maintained certain provisos against the said 
earl's son, being the Archbishop of Cashel, contrary to 
the king's letters directed in the favour of the said 
archbishop. If the king do not provide a remedy 
there will be no more Christianitie than in the middle 
of Turkey." 

Sir Piers had thus his revenge upon his brother-in- 
law for the criticism passed upon himself and his 
countess, whom Campion described as " a rare woman, 
and able for wisdome to govern a whole realme had 
not her stomacke (pride) overruled herself." He also 
made capital for himself out of his rival's connexions 
with the O'Connors and O'Carrolls connexions which 
show the importance and prestige of those septs. His 
wife, to whom Kildare referred, was a singularly able 
person, and assisted her husband during his term of 
office as Lord Justice, to which he had been elected 
by the King's Council in S. Mary's Abbey in Diuelin 
(Dublin), who were overawed by his army of Irishmen, 
" having captaine over them O'Connor, O'More, and 
O'Carroll" (1528). Stanihurst, whose vignette of her 
has been elsewhere cited, states that she was " the 
only meane at those dayes whereby her husband's 
country was reclaimed from the sluttish and unclean 
Irish custom to the English habite, bedding and house- 

Another event which hastened the ruin of Kildare 
was, strange to say, the fall of Wolsey, his enemy 
whose proceedings as Lord Chancellor against Kildare 


for conniving at the evil deeds of his cousin of 
Desmond are recorded in Campion's History (pp. 164- 
171). The fall of his great foe in 1529 not only freed 
the chief of the Geraldines from uneasy apprehensions 
but also from a wholesome restraint. Kildare seems 
to have let himself "go," as the phrase is, after 
Wolsey's disgrace ; for, when sent over to quell the 
rising of the O'Connors, who had, in the meantime, 
seized the Deputy, the Baron of Delvin, he seized the 
opportunity of revenging himself on the Earl of 
Ossory and the Butlers for all the evil they had 
wrought him. Of a turbulent and ungovernable 
temper, which was the common characteristic of the 
men of his age, Kildare had many qualities which 
endeared him to the Irish. For he was, like his 
father, " not forgetful of benefits, and not unmindful 
of injuries." A story, which is given by Ware in his 
Annals, reveals the quality of his temper. The earl 
had been wounded by a shot from the castle of Birr, 
which he was besieging, and as he lay groaning in his 
pain, a common soldier standing near him said : " My 
lord, why do you sigh so ? I myself was thrice shot 
with bullets, and yet am whole," to which the earl re- 
plied : " I wish you had received the fourth in my 
stead." It was, probably, the same Earl of Kildare 
who drew a skean, or Irish dagger, upon the Bishop 
of Kildare, in the presence of more than 300 persons, 
in the hall of the house of Connall. (Carew MS. 
I. 151.) 

Having the reins of government in his hands, he 
simply exercised his power to advance his own family 
and friends, and to overthrow his enemies. He raided 
and harried the lands of Ormonde in a merciless 


manner. Followed by an armed rabble which cir- 
cumstance gave some foundation for the Earl of 
Sussex's statement to Queen Elizabeth in 1560 " On 
the faction of the Geraldines depend all the evil- 
disposed men in the realm" he wreaked his ven- 
geance here and there, and conducted himself in a 
manner which would seem outrageous to anyone pos- 
sessed of statecraft. But Kildare was no statesman. 
And his recklessness spelt ruin for himself and his 
house. For he gave his foes the very handle they 
wanted against him. The result was that charges of 
treason and misgovernment were made against the 
earl by the council which gave a sad picture of the 
Pale and its sufferings in a document it presented to 
the Master of the Rolls in 1 533 a very damning docu- 
ment against the Earl of Kildare, the Lord Deputy. 
Among the things complained of by the council were 
(i) that neither English "order, tongue, or habit" 
was used, nor the king's laws obeyed above twenty 
miles in compass ; (2) the taking of coyne and livery 
and other extortions; (3) that owing to default of 
English inhabitants Irish tenants were being ad- 
mitted ; (4) that the English lords and gentlemen, 
instead of keeping English yeomen, employ horse- 
men and knaves who live upon the king's subjects, 
and that they keep no hospitality, but live upon the 
poor ; (5) the liberties of the temporal lords ; (6) the 
black rents and tributes levied by the Irish upon the 
king's subjects ; (7) that " when the Deputies go upon 
the Irishmen by the aid of the king's subjects for re- 
dress of their nightly and daily robberies, they keep 
all they get to their own use, and restore nothing to 
the poor people " ; (8) the frequent- change of 


Deputies ; (9) the negligent keeping of king's records, 
and appointment of unlearned and incompetent clerks 
to the offices of the Four Courts; and (10) the loss of 
the king's revenues, customs, and manors. This 
State Paper, signed by two archbishops, the Bishop of 
Meath, the Prior of Kilmainham, the Abbots of St. 
Thomas's, St. Mary's, and Louth, and three judges, 
reveals an unfortunate state of affairs in the Pale, for 
which Kildare was at once taken to task. He was 
summoned for the fourth time to England to answer 
these charges, but was reluctant to go. But before he 
went he committed two more grievous faults, which 
hastened his own downfall. He removed out of 
Dublin Castle all the king's arms, artillery, and muni- 
tions of war for the fortification and furnishing of his 
own castles, in case his enemies should attack them in 
his absence ; and he appointed his son, Lord Thomas, 
a vain youth, called Silken Thomas, to act as his 
vice-deputy. On his arrival in London the earl was 
cast into prison, and, with the express design of 
forcing the hands of the Geraldines, the cruel report 
was spread by a letter, which reached the hands of 
Silken Thomas, that Kildare had been executed, and 
that a similar fate was in store for his uncles. 

Driven to desperation by this cunningly-devised 
document, Silken Thomas resolved to cast off his 
allegiance, and to join the O'Connors and O'Neills, 
who were in revolt. But instead of seizing the castle 
and the city, when his foes were unprepared, he de- 
vised a theatrical exodus from his office, which gave 
them the necessary time. Galloping into the city, at 
the head of a large troop, he rode to S. Mary's Abbey, 
where the Council was sitting, and, bursting into the 


chamber with his followers, he advanced to the foot of 
the dais, and proceeded to renounce his allegiance to 
the king. Archbishop Cromer, his father's friend 
made a strong but futile remonstrance and appeal in 
the English language, which the Geraldine's followers 
did not understand. But while Lord Thomas stood 
irresolute, his Irish bard broke into a song of praise of 
the silken lord in the Irish language, which completely 
turned his foolish head, and, in his excitement, the 
boy seized the sword of state and hurled it to the 
ground, and strode out of the Council Chamber amid 
the martial strains of his bard's song and shouts of 
'* Cromaboo." The rubicon was crossed in accord- 
ance with the Latin saying, " Quern Deus vult perdere 
dementat" (1534). 

Among the staunchest of the Geraldine's allies at 
this time were the O'Connors of Offaly with whom he 
was related. They also suffered in his subsequent 
disasters. As this is not a history of the House of 
Leinster, we may hurrry over these ill-advised and 
wanton deeds of the young lord, described by the Four 
Masters in glowing language, and his plunder of Fin- 
gal, on which the city of Dublin, then ravaged by a 
pestilence, depended for corn ; his seizure of the 
children who had been removed to the country for safety 
by their anxious parents ; his futile assaults on the 
city which were repulsed with loss by the trained 
bands and valiant citizens, who took courage when 
they perceived that the arrows of the enemy were 
headless, and seized his cannon and dispersed his Irish 
gallowglasses ; and his barbarous arrest and murder of 
Allen, the Archbishop of Dublin, who was escaping 
to England in a vessel which unfortunately was stranded 


near Howth, and the unhappy prelate kneeling before 
the young lord and pleading for mercy was " brained 
like an ox." For the execrable deed he and his 
accomplices, John Telynge and Nicholas Wafer, who 
took the archbishop prisoner and brought him to 
Artayne, and John Fitzgerald, Oliver Fitzgerald, James 
Delahide, Edward Rorke and " divers others evil- 
disposed persons who most shamefully, tyrannously 
and cruelly murdered and put to death the said arch- 
bishop, were duly excommunicated, accursed and 
anathematized." " The place," writes Campion, " is 
ever since hedged in, overgrown and unfrequented in 
detestation of the deed." 

Forces at last arrived from England under the com- 
mand of Sir William Skeffington, whom the Irish 
called "the Gunner," and Sir William Brereton. 
And Lord Thomas having in vain sought the assistance 
of Piers Butler, the Earl of Ossory, with whom he 
offered to divide the dominion of Ireland, but who 
stiffly replied " If my country were laid waste, my 
castles won and prostrated, and myself an exile, yet 
still would I persevere in my duty to my king " placed 
a strong garrison in his castle at Maynooth, which he 
deemed impregnable, and betook himself with the 
majority of his followers to the bogs and woods of 
Offaly. Then he moved from place to place, gather- 
ing followers and placing garrisons in his castles at 
Rathangan, Leix, Carlow and Athy, while Skeffington. 
the Deputy, lay ill in Dublin. But in March the 
following year, 1535, Sir William Brereton assumed 
the command, and marched with a well-equipped 
army and a siege train of artillery to attack the castle 
of Maynooth. After a siege of some twelve days a 


breach was made in the walls, and the governor, 
Christopher Paris, who is said to have earned the re- 
ward of Judas, ended the matter by betraying the 
castle into the hands of the English, who carried it by 
assault with but slight resistance. The news of the 
fall of the fortress and the noise of the English cannon 
caused Kildare's half-armed kerne and gallowglasses 
to disperse in all directions in a general sauve qui 
fieut. Silken Thomas, who found a refuge with the 
O'Connors of OfTaly, the O'Moores and O'Briens, 
having failed in his attempt to procure aid from France, 
Spain, or the Pope, was finally induced by Sir Leonard 
Grey to surrender himself under promise of the king's 
pardon, and was sent to the Tower, where his father 
had died a few years before of grief and shame for the 
madness of his son. 

Here he was soon afterwards joined by his five 
uncles who had been invited to a banquet by the Lord 
Deputy, and were arrested by his orders and conveyed 
to the Tower. For the king's wish was to destroy the 
obnoxious race root and branch, and his promise of 
forgiveness was but a pretence. For within twelve 
months the uncles and their ill-advised nephew paid 
the penalty for belonging to a house which had grown 
so dangerous in the eyes of the English monarchs, 
being executed at Tyburn. 

The king's hope of annihilation was, however, dis- 
appointed. For two sons of Gerald, Earl of Kildare, 
by his second wife, the Lady Elizabeth Grey, escaped 
his vengeance. The elder of these, Gerald, was 
brought by Thomas Leverous, afterwards Bishop of 
Kildare, to Lady Mary O'Connor, who protected him 
for a time in the wilds of Offaly from the dangers that 


threatened him. He was then sent to the French 
Court by his aunt, who discovered that her husband, 
O'Donnell of Tyrconnell, was about to betray him to 
the English Govermnment, and finally found a refuge 
with his relation, Cardinal Pole, at Rome. In his 
period of exile his life was on one occasion provi- 
dentially preserved for the restoration of his family. 
Hunting in Italy, his horse fell into a chasm and was 
killed. The boy's fall was broken by some branches 
on the side of the precipice, to which he had clung for 
some hours, until he was rescued from his perilous 
position by some travellers, who had been attracted to 
the place by the barking of the young earl's dog. 

After Henry VIII.'s death he returned to England, 
and was kindly received by Edward VI., who gave 
him some of his family honours. Eventually he re- 
turned to Ireland in Mary's reign, and was put into 
possession of his father's estates, but he was re- 
garded by Elizabeth as the most dangerous person 
in Ireland. 

During the period of his exile the Butlers had 
taken an ample revenge. The lands of Kildare were 
plundered and harried. The peasantry suffered 
greatly, and their loyalty to their ancient lords, the 
Geraldines, was intensified by the cruelty of the 
Butlers. Covvley, writing to Cromwell in 1538, said: 
" I assure your lordship that this English Pale, except 
the towns and some few of the possessioners, be so 
affectionate to the Geraldines, that for kindred, 
marriage, fostering, and adhering as followers, they 
covet more to see a Geraldine to reign and triumph 
than to see God come among them ; and if they might 
see this young Girol's banner displayed if they 


should lose half their substance, they would rejoice 
more at the same, than otherwise to gain great 

The siege of the great castle of Maynooth, which 
ended in so much disaster to the Geraldines, is fully 
described in the Deputy's report of the 26th March, 
1535, to be found in the Carew MSS., vol. I., p. 65. 
As Maynooth was the first feudal castle in Ireland 
which was besieged in regular form, and battered by 
cannon, the report of the siege and capture may prove 
interesting : 

" On 1 4th March I, your Deputy, with your army ? 
besieged the castle of Maynooth, which Thomas 
Fitzgerald so strongly fortified with men and ordnance, 
'as the like hath not been seen in Ireland since any 
of your most noble progenitors had first dominion in 
the land.' Within the same were about 100 able men, 
of whom more than sixty were gunners. On the 1 6th 
' your ordnance was sent to the north-west side of the 
dungeon 1 of the same castle, which did batter the top 
thereof on that wise, as their ordnance within that 
part was dampned.' Then your ordnance was bent 
upon the north side of the base court of the castle, 
' at the north-east end whereof there was now made a 
very strong and fast bulwark, well garnished with men 
and ordnance; which the i8th, iQth, 2Oth, 2ist, and 
22nd days of the said month did beat the same by 
night and day on that wise, that a great battery and 
a large entrance was made there.' On the 23rd 
being Tuesday next before Easter Day, a galiard 
assault was given, and the base court entered About 
sixty of the ward of the castle were slain, and of your 

Donjon or keep. 


army only John Griffin, yeoman of your guard, and 
six others. We next assaulted the great castle, which 
yielded, wherein was the Dean of Kildare, Christopher 
Paris, captain of the garrison ; Donagh O'Dogan, 
master of the ordnance ; Sir Simon Walshe, priest ; 
and Nicholas Wafer which took the Archbishop of 
Dublin, with divers other gunners and archers to the 
number of 37." 

Christopher Paris was the governor who betrayed 
the castle ; and it is remarkable that he with the other 
thirty-six prisoners whose lives were preserved by 
appointment until they should be presented to the 
Deputy and then to be dealt with according as the 
Deputy and council thought fit were, as the Deputy 
grimly writes, " put to execution as an example to 
others." The Deputy showed the spirit of English 
"fair play all round," by not excepting the traitor 
from the doom he had planned for the betrayed. 
Henceforth the English guns were masters of the situa- 
tion. The Gallowglasses (Galloglach), or foreign mer- 
cenaries, principally Scotch, steel-capped, mail-coated, 
and armed with heavy axe and two-handed sword, 
and the fighting clansmen or kerne, half-naked and 
equipped with javelins, light axes and skians, who 
often proved more than a match for the trained troops 
of the Pale, could now be mowed down with the same 
ease, if not rapidity, as the Arab hordes and Zulu 
impis of modern times by British fire. Under the old 
system of warfare the great feudal piles might bid 
defiance to any assaulting party ; but now the ammu- 
nition almost an English monopoly had changed 
the aspect of affairs, and supplied the English 
settlers with a substitute for the bow, with which 


they had, in spite of many statutes, ceased to 

Although the Irish were not able to obtain artillery, 
they altered their mode of fighting in order to cope 
with the English on more equal terms. An interest- 
ing picture-plan of the battle of Bel-an-Atha-buidhe, 
preserved in the library of Trinity College, represents 
the infantry of O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, as harque- 
busiers supported by masses of pikemen. Thegallow- 
glasses have disappeared, and the cavalry are armed 
precisely as the English. The latter, however, were 
supported by artillery of which the Irish had none. 

Occasionally the Irish were able to take the ord- 
nance of the English. There is a ford in the King's 
County, called Bel-atha-nabh-Fabcun, the ford mouth 
of the Fabcun, from a battle fought there between the 
sons of Moalroona O'Carroll, and the sons of John 
O'Carroll, who were supported by the Earl of Ormond 
(1532), in which the sons of Maolroona were victorious 
and took from their opponents a piece of ordnance 
called Fabcun. 


THE capture of Maynooth caused consternation among 
the O'Connors and other Irish adherents of the 
Geraldines. But with their ready wit they speedily 
found a way out of their difficulty. It was time that 
they needed ; time for them to recover themselves ; 
time for the English Deputy, Lord Leonard Grey, to 
lose the advantage gained by Skeffington. Accord- 
ingly, they made temporary submissions. On January 
20, 1536, O'Connor, the most important of the midland 
chiefs, tendered his submission, engaging on his part 
to allow the Deputy and his army to pass through his 
dominion without hindrance from him or his clansmen, 
and even to make proper roads for their passage. 1 
O' Byrne of Wicklow followed suit. And thus the 
Deputy was enabled to move at once against the 
Desmonds of Munster. But while he was engaged 
in taking the castle of Loughgyr, " a stronghold in no 
less reputation in those parts than Maynooth in the 
North parts," and taming the pride of the O'Briens 
by capturing the castle of Carrick-OGunnel and des- 
troying the splendid bridge 2 across the Shannon 
called O'Brien's bridge, with a castle of hewn marble 
at each end, the O'Connors were busily engaged in 
repairing their losses and collecting their forces. They 
were encouraged by the mutiny which arose among 
the Deputy's troops on account of bad pay. 

1 Carew MSS. Vol. I., p. 86. 

2 An interesting account of the capture of this bridge is given in the 
Carew MSS., I., 88. 


But Lord Leonard Grey, one of the most vigorous 
of the English Deputies, was undaunted by troubles 
without and fears within. And as Chancellor Alen 
wrote to Cromwell in his letter of the I2th July, 1537 
" My lord deputy proceeded on his journey into 
O'Chonour's country the Tuesday after Trinity Sunday j 
entering into the same on the west side, betwixt 
O'Mulmoy,McGoghegan's andO'Molaglyn's countries, 
neighbours and aiders of the said O'Connors, on which 
side of his country any host hath not passed with carts 
heretofore, by reason of the dangerous way, being all 
woods and marshes." 

His objective was the castles of the O'Connor, who 
was not only abandoned by his neighbours, the 
O'Mulloys, McGeoghegans, O'Melaghlins and 
O'Moores, but was also betrayed by his own brother, 
Cathal Roe. The Four Masters sum up the disastrous 
results of the campaign in the words " O'Conor Faily, 
that is Bryan the son of Cahir, was expelled from his 
territory, and after many of his people had been slain, 
all his castles were taken and demolished by the 
Saxon Lord Justice, that is Lord Leonard, and it 
was through the conspiracy and at the instigation of 
O'Connor s own brother, Cathal Roe, these acts were 

This Irish chieftain, like another Judas, led the 
English forces against the castle of Bragnot, "wherein 
there was left a good ward, well victualled, well ord- 
nanced, and well manned, environed strongly with 
wood and moor." But the ill-fated garrison could 
make but feeble resistance, as Cathal had a confederate 
behind the walls whose treachery placed the defenders 
at the mercy of the assailants. The fortress was seized 


and the garrison secured, all but Cathal's man being 
led out for immediate execution. Alen, who seems to 
know nothing of their betrayal, states " his lordship 
achieved the same, heading all the ward, all save three, 
which were preserved to show his lordship the ways 
of another castle of the said O'Connors, that in the 
Irish tongue he named the castle of Dengin, that is, in 
English, the castle of most assurance." The writer 
proceeds to give an account of the natural defences of 
this " castle of most assurance," which had become a 
"doubting castle" for its gallant defenders. The 
approach to it was by a broken-down causeway, laid 
down over an impassible moor. 

To this fortress of" Daingean " a name cognate with 
the English donjon the traitor led the forces of the 
Deputy. The erection of this old castle is recorded 
by the Four Masters as having taken place in 1 546. 
But they were evidently alluding to a later fortress, 
built by Sir William Brabazon some years after the 
events to which we are referring, when the head- 
quarters of the O'Connors consisted of a huge circular 
mound in the midst of a marsh and almost surrounded 
by the bog of Allen; and to make approach more 
difficult, artificial obstructions had been carefully placed 
in the only accessible places. But Cahir's knowledge 
again proved of untold advantage to the English, and 
the military were led over the quaking bog and sinking 
morass up to the very vallum of Dangan. 

Alen informed Cromwell that the Deputy had fag- 
gots made for the repair of the causeway, which had 
been broken down, and for the filling up of the great 
double ditches, " so strong and so large as have not 
been seen in this land heretofore." The English 


troops engaged in this work were protected by two 
companies, one under Martin Pellis and the other 
under Mr. Seintlowe's captain. But the garrison made 
a successful assault and killed several of their foes, 
wounding Seintlowe's captain ; but the other captains 
succeeded in entering their fortress on their very heels. 
Brian fled, but his brother was rewarded for his noble 
services by being made Lord of Offaly by the English 

The present town of Philipstown was built on the 
site of Dangan, which changed its name in the reign 
of Mary, and the trembling of the houses, when a 
heavy vehicle rumbles through the streets, reminds 
one that the town is built on a bog, which recalls the 
doings of Cathal Roe and Martin Pellis. 

In connection with the taking of Dangan, it is 
interesting to read that the English lost their only one 
piece of ordnance, and at once sent a message to the 
Governor beseeching him " to be a mean to the King's 
highness that there may be another sent thither with 
speed, or his Grace's Deputy can't prevail against Irish- 
men which have garrisons." This speaks rather well 
for the valour of the Irish. 

The brave Brian was not, however, discomfited by 
the loss of his title and possessions, and he had the 
apparent audacity to venture into the Pale and demand 
the restoration of his rights. But his cool request was 
not granted, while his brother Cahir was created 
Baron of Offaly and made tenant of the Crown. 
Exasperated by his bad luck, Brian once more had 
recourse to arms, and getting assistance from his friends 
in Connaught he marched into his own lands and de- 
feated his brother, who was taken unprepared and 



drove him out of the country. The English court were 
greatly vexed at this upset to their plans. A very 
strongly-worded letter was written by Lord Chancellor 
Cromwell, Wolsey's friend, to Lord Grey urging him 
" eftsoons to handle the matter of O'Connor's with such 
dexterity as he may be hanged as a terrible example 
to all Irish traitors." The writer went on to say 
" The expulsion of him was taken very well, but the 
permission of him to have such a scope to work mischief 
at his pleasure, no doubt he must needs be remaining 
in despair of restitution, was neither wisdom nor good 
precedent. Redub it, my lord, in the just punishment 
of his traitorous carcass. And let his treason be a 
warning to you and to all who have to do for the 
King's Majesty there never to trust a traitor after, but 
to use them without treaty after their demerits." 

This was sound advice, and it would have been well 
for the English governor had he acted upon it. But 
the O'Connors were as cunning as they were warlike. 
After successfully harassing the invaders' flanks, they 
returned without the guidance of Cahir through the 
wild tracks and dense forests of country which was 
utterly unknown to them, but every inch of which was 
known to him. The wily Bryan took advantage of 
the heavy rains, when the Deputy was practically 
powerless, to put in a plea for immunity, and was 
granted a safe conduct to Dublin. Of this permission 
Bryan took advantage in order to obtain an interview 
with his brother Cahir, and became duly reconciled to 
him, and together with him laid deep plots for the 
recovery of their dominions. But their funds were 
well-nigh exhausted, and they had little means of 
carrying on the war with any hope of success, and 


were at last reduced to make overtures to the much- 
exasperated but too confiding Deputy Lord Grey. 
The meeting took place at the ford of Kinnegad, the 
English forces drawn up on the north side of the 
stream, and the clansmen, full of fight and courage, 
lining the southern bank, the boundary of the dominion 
of Offaly, for which they were ready to die at a 
moment's notice. 

The result of the interview was eminently satisfac- 
tory, according to Lord Grey's version, the said Bryan 
greeting him " with humble reverence, submitting to 
the King's highness, confessing his offences, and did 
utterly refuse (resign) all his title in Offaly, and in all 
black rents and fees that can be had of the King's 
subjects." In a word, Bryan promised to be a good 
and quiet boy again, and with all due reverence to 
farm the land as a tenant of the Crown, promising to 
give pay out of every ploughed land " three shillings 
and four pence, Irish, by the year," and was pardoned 
and reinstated. Cahir, who had received the land from 
the king as his tenant, naturally, even though a traitor 
himself, resented this worse than " punic faith," and 
withdrawing his forces retired to a strongly-fortified 
house. But Bryan now proved the traitor. With 
evident satisfaction, he led the English on the trail of 
his brother, and at last ran him to earth in one of his 
strongholds. It is said that the place was so closely 
besieged that the refractory Cahir with difficulty 
escaped, and only in his shirt. But the fugitive, see- 
ing the folly of further fighting, gave in with 
a good grace, and was received with favour 
again by Lord Grey, who thus missed the oppor- 
tunity of making the O'Connors "terrible examples 


to all Irish traitors," as the king's highness 

The Deputy, however, had his hands full. The 
power of the O'Neill was threatening in the north, but 
was crushed by him at Belahoe (1539), and Ireland 
was quiet for a year. But no sooner had Lord Grey 
left the country than the O'Connors broke out afresh 
(1540), and captured and destroyed Castle Jordan, in 
Meath, on the borders of the Pale. A hosting is made 
against them, and there is a nominal peace for some 
years, during which the conciliatory St. Leger, the 
Deputy, sought to come to terms with the native Irish. 
A remarkable sight was witnessed when all the Anglo- 
Irish nobles and the Irish chiefs, including the 
O'Dempseys, O'Dunnes, O'Moores, O'Molloys, with 
the O'Byrnes, O'Carroll's and O'Connors made their 
submission to the Deputy (1540). This was the fourth 
general submission of the Irish. The others had been 
made to Henry II., John, and Richard II., respectively. 
In their indentures of submission, the Irish lords, 
O'Neill, O'Donnell, Rory O'Moore and others, agreed 
to recognise the king as the supreme head of the 
Church of England and Ireland, and as their liege 
lord and king, at the same time renouncing the 
authority of the Roman pontiff. And in St. Leger's 
parliament at Dublin the English lords and Irish 
chiefs sat side by side, accepted and confirmed the Act 
of Supremacy, and passed a bill conferring on Henry 
the title of King of Ireland (i 541). It was a gala day 
for Dublin. The city was en fete, bonfires were lit, 
and salutes fired. Wine flowed freely, and prisoners 
were set at liberty. In their temporary exhilaration, 
the Irish chieftains threw down their caps, skeins and 


girdles in acknowledgment of King Henry. O'Neill, 
O'Brien and McWiiliam went to England to the king 
who advanced them to the degree of earls and granted 
them several counties by Letters Patent. But the 
Brehon Laws prevailed over nearly all the land. 
Connaught, Ulster and Munster had not been yet re- 
duced to shireland, and though Munster was divided 
into counties, no justice of assize dare execute his 
commission in them. 

The Irish chieftains seem, however, to show a sur- 
prising docility and loyalty. In 1546 the Earls of 
Tyrone, Desmond and Thomond, with the O'Carroll, 
O'Connor, O'Mulloy and Fitzpatrick, sent a Latin 
letter to the king congratulating him on the peaceful 
state of the country ; stating that no man in Ireland, 
were he as old as Nestor, has seen the country in a 
more peaceable condition, and promising to strive to 
" answer to right and law as exactly as the others who 
from their cradles and earliest infancy have been well 
educated in the same." l 

But we find the O'Connors disturbing that peace, 
which seems to have been like that which precedes 
the storm, by raiding Kildare, Clane and Carbury with 
the O' Kelly s, whose lands, then called Caellen, are 
now included in the county of Kildare. In retaliation 
the English invaded Offaly. Thereupon Bryan, with 
the O'Moore's of Leix, burnt down the town and 
monastery of Athy (Ath-brodain the bloody ford), 
which was then one of the keys of the marches of 
Kildare. The Lord Justice then proclaimed the 
O'Connors traitors, and sent letters to their allies to 
leave them and be pardoned. This they did, and 

1 State Papers, Ireland. Vol II., 3, 562. 


O'Connor, left alone, fled to Connaught, where he was 
attacked and deprived of a great quantity of his sup- 
plies by some of the Irish who were friendly to the 
English. In the meantime, Sir William Brabazon had 
overrun all Offaly, and erected a castle at Dangan, 
the name of which was afterwards changed to Philips- 
town, in honour of Queen Mary's consort. While the 
English Lord Justice was securing his country, Bryan 
O'Connor was trying to levy forces to attack him. And 
feeling himself sufficiently strong to do this, the next 
year he crossed the Shannon with his clans, but on his 
march to Leinster they melted away, evidently alarmed 
by the fact that none of their ancient allies had rallied 
to the banner of the O'Connors. Bryan was, therefore 
forced to submit. And this time he had no mild Lord 
Grey to deal with, but a resolute and determined man 
who brought him to England " at the mercy of the 
king." Ijt was Sir Edward Bellingham who accom- 
plished this feat, with 600 horse and 400 foot, and who, 
according to Sir John Davis, was " the first Deputy 
who, from the time of Edward III. to Edward VI. 
extended the borders of the English Pale by beating 
and breaking the O'Moores and O'Connors and by 
building the forts of Offaly and Leix." The Book of 
Howth gives him the following good character : 
" After him Sir Edward Bellinghame, a good man, a 
very good payer of all men, and never took anything 
but that he paid for ; and in his time Afale (Offaly) 
afid Lexe was won and a strong fort was built in every 
of them ; and after being sent for into England there 
died. This man had cesses worse than Selingere; 
but for his own horses wholly was kept in his own 
stables, and paid for all he took and was a true-dealing 


man. He could not have bide the cry of the poor. 
He never in his time took anything of any man, but 
that he truly paid for ; he wore ever his harness, and 
so did all those who he liked for." Of his military 
capacity, his enemy, Alen, writes " My Lord Deputy 
is the best man of war that ever I saw n Ireland, 
having since his coming hither, done more service to 
the king than was done after the repressing of the 
Geraldines in all the king's father's lifetime, notwith- 
standing all his charges." It was no disgrace to the 
O'Connor to be subdued by this honest and brusque 
officer, who is reported to have said to the man he 
committed to prison " Content thyself, for I will do 
no worse to thee than I will do to the best of the 
Council, if he displease me." 

It would have been well for Ireland if his officers 
and the Irish Council had carried out the plan of 
winning the Irish " by sober ways, politic drifts, and 
amiable persuasions of law and reason," but feeling 
their impotence, while without a police force, to grasp 
with the situation, they were compelled to have 
recourse to sterner measures of plantation. Accordingly 
English settlers were planted in Leix and Offaly, from 
which the tribes were driven, and two forts, one called 
"The Governor" in Faly, ond the other "the 
Protector " in Leix, were built to defend the settlers, 
among whom were the Barringtons, Cosbies, Breretons, 
Pigotts, Browns, Hovendens. In the instructions 
given to Sir A. St. Leger, Lord Deputy 1550, and to 
Sir James Croft, Lord Justice 1557, the following 
passage occurs which throws light upon the situation : 
" As the Counties of Offalye and Leix, lately called 
O'Connor's Country and O'Moore's Country, are now 


in good towardness to be wholly in our hands and 
possession, and yet not in perfection, the Deputy and 
Council are to take order for the full and ample pos- 
session of the same countries and also for the surveying 
thereof, and to let this to farm or otherwise for terms 
of 21 years, allowing the farmers one or two years 
rent free." To this there is an allusion in the words 
of the historian regarding the Bellinghams, to wit, 
that they built " two large courts " at Maryboro' and 
Philipstown, and " began to let these lands for rent 
as if they were their rightful inheritance." But during 
the whole of Edward's reign the fighting continued, 
the Irish shooting down the settlers, and the settlers 
shooting down the Irish. But in Mary's reign the 
O'Connor and his ally the O' Moore, who had in the 
meantime failed to secure favourable terms from the 
English Court, were set free. The former firebrand 
was released at the entreaty of his daughter, 
Margaret. This young lady, whose natural charms 
were enhanced by all the accomplishments of the age 
in which she lived, courageously faced the perils of a 
voyage across the Channel and a journey through 
England to the Court of Queen Mary, who, in con- 
sideration of her connection with the great English 
family of Kildare and her religion, admitted her to an 
interview. The heroic daughter pleaded her father's 
cause with such eloquence that Mary, very unwisely 
from the English point of view allowed Bryan to 
return to his native land (1553). 

The inevitable consequence of O'Connor's return 
was that the country was in a blaze again, and on this 
occasion the O'Maddens, the O'Moores, the 
O'Molloys, and the O'Carrolls assisted the O'Connors 


in carrying fire and sword through Offaly and the 
neighbouring districts. All the hostile septs rose like 
one man, and directed their operations principally 
against the Irish who were loyal to England, and the 
English settlers in Offaly, which was now to be made 

Instead of granting the O'Connors better terms 
than her predecessors, Queen Mary pursued their 
policy. In fact while Lord L. Grey and St. Leger 
had felt that the O'Connors had been treated with 
great harshness, doubtless owing to their connection 
with the Geraldines, and had sought to give them 
better terms, the Government of Mary was responsible 
for the complete extermination and plantation of the 
King's and Queen's Counties, and the districts of 
Offaly, Fercall, Ely and Leix, which were created 
shireland by the Act of the third and fourth Philip 
and Mary. In the first Act the cruellest Act of 
Confiscation ever placed on the Statute Book the 
Lord Deputy was authorized to grant to all their 
Majesties' subjects, English or Irish, estates in fee- 
simple " in the countries of Leix, Slewmarge, 
Offallie, Irrie and Glenmalire, which belong of right 
to the King and Queen's most excellent Majesties, 
of late wholly possessed by the Moores, the Connors, 
the Dempseys and other rebels, and now by the in- 
dustrious travaile of the Earl of Sussex, brought again 
into the possession of their Majesties." By the 
second Act these countries were created shires being 
entitled Queen's County and King's County, with 
Philipstown and Maryborough as their chief towns. 
Sheriffs and other officers were appointed to complete 
the work. And in 1556 a system of colonization was 


introduced into the district of Leix, which was divided 
between the new English settlers, 160 in number, and 
the Irish natives. All the country beyond the bog 
was allocated to the Moores. The head of each sept 
was made responsible for the conduct of his followers, 
who were to obey the laws of the realm, while the 
English settlers were ordered to keep open the fords 
and destroy their fastnesses, and to cause their children 
to learn English, to abandon Irish customs and fos- 
terage, and to build a church in every town within 
three years. 

In the days of King John there had been an attempt 
to make twelve shires in Ireland. Henry VIII. had 
divided Meath into Meath and Westmeath, but this 
was practically the first creation of shireland outside 
the Pale. In the making thereof Thomas, Earl of 
Sussex earned his laurels for " having broken com- 
pletely the two most rebellious and powerful Irish 
septs in Leinster, the Moores and O'Connors," but 
the planting thereof with the new settlers sowed the 
seed of an internecine struggle between the settlers 
and the tribes, while the Government looked impas- 
sively on at the cruel deeds wrought and endured on 
either side. 

One of the most terrible of the atrocities that were 
perpetrated in connection with the settlement of the 
midland counties took place at Mullaghmast. This 
remarkable eminence, which rises to the south of 
Athy, had been long associated with the fortunes and 
traditions of South Leinster. Here Conn of the 
Hundred Battles, marching to enforce the Leinster 
tribute, was defeated by Eochy of Leinster. Here 
Lewy Leeshagh of Ulster defeated the Munstermen 


in two successive battles at the fords in the vici- 
nity and drove them out of Leinster. Upon its 
brow is found an ancient rath, circular, and made of 
earth and of considerable extent and height. This 
rath was an ancient fortress and residence of the 
kings. Here was held in olden times the Naasteighan 
or the assembly of the states, the beginning of this 
word Nds is still preserved in the name Naas. 
Upon the summit of the rath were sixteen 
conical mounds, in which the elders sat, while 
all around them lay the pillar-stones and other 
emblems of Sun-worship. One of these called 
Gobhlan is about seven feet high. With re- 
gard to this ancient Hill of Carmen, the tradition 
was that it should be one day the scene of 
a terrible conflict between the English and the Irish, 
and that the mill-race hard by would run red with the 
blood of the slain for twenty-four hours. To a con- 
ference on this historic hill the Irish chiefs and 
principal men of the inhabitants of the new counties 
were summoned. Suspecting nothing, the O'Connors, 
O'Carrolls, O'Moores, O'Molloys, O'Dempseys and 
O'Dunnes came in large numbers on New Year's Day, 
1577. It is said that but one returned. 

Foreseeing the troubles that might arise in con- 
nection with the plantation of Leix and Offaly an Act 
was passed by the Government of Philip and Mary 
authorising the Land Commissioners of those days to 
declare the land of any turbulent chief shireland, 
which meant that it would be governed according to 
English law, and that the chief had no longer any 
authority, but was himself intimidated by the erection 
of a gaol in his ancient " town " or district, and that 


his Irish dress and customs might lead him to a closer 
acquaintance with the inside thereof. 

The O'Connors found it hard to raise their heads 
after this cruel and cold-blooded massacre. But again 
the hostile chieftains owed the restoration of their 
lives and lands to the good offices of a woman, the 
ladies of the fighting clans showing as much superiority 
in the arts of peace and piety as their husbands did 
in the art of war. For Lady Mary O'Connor pro- 
tected the young earl, last scion of the Kildare family, 
in the forest wilds of Offaly, and Elizabeth was ulti- 
mately induced to restore the titles and lands of this 
ancient family to him. 

Some years afterwards (1583) occurred a strange 
event in the annals of the O'Connor sept, which is 
related by Cox in his Hibernia Auglicana^ and which 
recalls the scenes of single combat which was so fre- 
quent in the highland clans of Scotland. It was a 
dispute between two of the O'Connors. Conor 
MacCormack O'Connor stated that Teige MacGill- 
patrick O'Connor had treacherously and foully mur- 
dered some of his followers. Teige, it would appear, 
belonged to the O'Connors who were ranged on the 
side of England in the stormy times of the sixteenth 
century, and had been only too glad to wreak 
vengeance on the Irish O'Connors for their exter- 
mination of his relations. And when accused by 
Conor before the English Court he challenged his 
opponent to decide the dispute by mortal combat. 
The challenge was accepted, and the next day was 
appointed for the contest. When the hour for the 
fray was come, the two combatants were accom- 
modated with seats at the opposite ends of the inner 


court of Dublin Castle. Sir Henry Wallop and Adam 
Loftus, Archbishop of Dublin (Lords Justices) were 
the judges, and there was a large sprinkling of the 
military element present, attracted by the remarkable 
character of the proceedings. The pleadings were 
then made and the oath administered to the litigants, 
each of whom maintained the justice of his quarrel. 
Fenton, the Secretary, and some attendants then 
approached the combatants and searched them to see 
if they carried the skian or dagger. They were then 
armed with sword and target the weapons chosen by 
Teige. At the sound of the trumpet the combatants 
dashed into the lists and began the fray which was to 
prove fatal to one or both. Teige soon showed his 
superiority. He was a greater master of his weapon 
and was stronger and quicker, while his opponent 
recklessly exposed himself. Three times Teige's sword 
penetrated his body, and at last, exasperated by his 
wounds, Connor threw aside his weapons and rushed 
like a tiger at Teige, and closing with him sought to 
strangle him. But he was weakened by loss of blood 
and could not retain his grip, and then Teige struck 
him to the ground, and having cut off his head, laid 
the ghastly offering before Sir Henry Wallop and 
Archbishop Adam Loftus, the Lords Justices, who 
must have witnessed with horror this terrible combat, 
to which the Irish often resorted in settlement of 
disputed claims. 

In 1597 we fi n d the O'Connors again in the field. 
There is a pass in Westmeath, a dangerous defile 
through a wood, now called Tyrrellspass, from a vic- 
tory Tyrrell and the O'Connor won over the English 
there. This Tyrrell was a dashing captain of cavalry 


in O'Neill's army, then fighting Elizabeth in the North. 
He had been sent by his general with a small body of 
men to create a diversion and to prevent the Anglo- 
Irish of the midlands from joining the army that was 
marching north against him. In this Tyrrell was 
successful, for a strong force mustered in MulHngar 
under Baron Trimleston with a view to join Lord 
Burgh, the Deputy, turned their attention to Tyrrell's 
little force. The latter was now joined by O'Connor 
Faily, a warrior of great bravery and skill, and a plan 
of campaign was formed which was eventually crowned 
with complete success. Tyrrell posted half his forces 
under O'Connor in the hollow of the road to the rear, 
and with the rest prepared to receive the attack, which 
was not long delayed. He then retreated slowly, and 
the English forces following impetuously rushed into 
the ambuscade. The O'Connor and his men leaping 
out of their hiding places attacked the enemy, who 
were then surrounded and almost annihilated. One 
man, it is said, escaped to MulHngar. The O'Connor 
himself displayed prodigies of valour, and his hand, 
it is said, was so swollen from the use of his sword 
that the weapon had to be filed through before it could 
be released. 

Tyrrell then entered the English part of Offaly and 
made " great preys, slaughter, taking of towns and of 
people, of plunder and of booty." He then marched 
south to meet Mountjoy at Kinsale, and to be defeated 
with his master. 

In 1599 the ill-fated Essex entered Ireland with a 
great army. He marched through Leinster into 
Munster, the O'Connors hanging on his flanks. And 
on his return he was again assailed by this indomitable 


sept and others ; and completely out of patience 
despatched force after force against him. And with 
that unthinking obstinacy which persists in adopting 
the same hard and fast methods of warfare that have 
ever proved unavailing in a struggle of this nature he 
sent detachment after detachment of heavy cavalry 
into bogs and glens and mountain passes, where they 
were at the mercy of the foe. And thus the flower 
of the English host found a grave in the bogs aaid 
woods of Offaly. Sir Henry Harrington with 3,000 
men, were defeated so frequently by the O'Connors, 
O'Moores and OTooles that the earl decimated his 
brave but badly led soldiers for their cowardice, but 
really for his own folly, pour encourager les autres. 
Such an action, unsoldierlike and brutal, was in keeping 
with much of his strange conduct. 

The last we see of this famous sept is in a hot 
encounter with the English of Meath and the Con- 
naught men under Owen O'Connor. The latter were 
suddenly attacked, as they were plundering a small 
town, Giolla Bindhe, in Cluain-ni-Murrois, near Geas- 
hill, and not expecting opposition were taken unawares. 
It was. indeed, a case of a hundred flying at the rebuke 
of one, for it would appear that the Calvach, the heir 
of Offaly, had only a few men at his heels when he 
came upon the spoilers. An incident is said to have 
occurred at this juncture which shows that the Irish 
grasp of a humourous situation was then, as now racy 
of the soil. As the Calvach rode into the town where 
the kerne of Connaught were busy with their plunder, 
an hotel proprietor, who had borrowed a cauldron 
from him, ran up and pointing to one of the spoilers 
who was carrying off a bronze cauldron on his back, 


said, " There is your cauldron, you can have it now, 
kerne and all." " I accept it," said the Calvach, and 
taking aim with a large stone he hurled it at the man, 
and the stone struck the bronze with such a crash 
that the Connaughtmen thought they were surrounded 
and fled in confusion. But the Calvach was at their 
heels and smote them hip and thigh with a great 
slaughter between Giolla Bindhe and Cluain-Aine in 
Crioch-na-gedoch in Westmeath. The night came to 
the rescue of the vanquished, and the victors returned 
with the chief religious emblem of Connaught, the 
Buacach Phatraig or mitre of Patrick, which had 
always been kept at Elphin until that ill-fated expe- 
dition of Owen O'Connor. The last warlike action 
recorded of the clan is the invasion of the English 
Offaly and the burning down of many of the castles 
of the English, in revenge for which the Lord Justice 
went down to Offaly in August of 1600, as the Four 
Masters say, " with many harrows, great iron rakes 
and a great deal of scythes and sickles, and cut down 
and destroyed the crops of the country, ripe and 
unripe." After this cruel action the fighting clan 
disappears as a clan from history, although many 
distinguished men, including the late Judge O'Connor 
Morris of Gortnamona, in recent times, represent them 
worthily. And individuals now and then emerge 
from the obscurity that has lowered upon their house, 
evincing the military genius and ability of the warrior 
clan, which have not been diminished by untoward 
circumstances or unkind fortune. Not the least among 
them was Arthur O'Connor, the friend of Grattan 
and Lord Edward Fitzgerald. 

It has been observed that the Irish annalists devoted 


themselves almost completely to " feats of broil and 
battle," and bestowed but little attention upon the 
social and literary progress of their nation. This was 
due to the unhappy divisions of Ireland. The annalist 
confined himself to the glories and triumphs of his 
own tribe, reserving his spleen and wrath for their 
enemies, Irish and English. The Book of Leinster, 
for instance, depreciates the men of Connaught and 
Munster, while it magnifies the deeds of the Leinster- 
men. One grows wearied of these blood-stained 
annals which give as distorted a view of Irish humanity 
as the Records of Newgate would give of English 

It is, therefore, a pleasant change to read of the 
gentler pursuit of learning and law, which were en- 
couraged by those very chieftains who are paraded as 
very monsters by the admiring historians of their 
tribe. In the Annals of Duald MacFirbis, cited by 
Dr. O'Donovan, there is an account of two entertain- 
ments given by Margaret, the wife of O'Conor Faily 
in 1451 to the learned men of Ireland. At Killeigh 
" there gathered the number of 2,700 persons, as it 
was recorded in a roll for that purpose, and that 
account was made thus : The chief kindred of each 
family of the learned Irish was written in the roll by 
O'Connor's chief judge, and his adherents and kins- 
men, so that the aforesaid number of 2,700 was listed 
in that Roll with the arts of poetry, music and anti- 
quity. Every one as he was paid was written in that 
Roll for fear of mistake, and was set down to eat 
afterwards. The hostess, Margaret, was in the gallery 
of the great church of Da Sinchall (the two Sinchalls, 
Sean-Sinchell and Sinchell-og), clad in cloth of gold, 



her dearest friends about her, her clergy and judges 
too. Her husband, Calvach O'Connor, himself on 
horseback, by the church's outward side, to the end 
that all things might be done orderly and each one 
served successively. And first of all she gave two 
chalices of gold as offerings that day on the altar to 
God Almighty, and she also caused to nurse or foster 
two young orphans. A second feast given on the 
festival of the Assumption is described as being 
" nothing inferior to the first day." 

Nor is the fighting clan without its religious 
associations. Killeigh Abbey, the church of the field, 
founded in the sixth century by S. Sincheall, was and 
is the favourite resting-place of all who boast the 
O'Connor name. The ruins of the original building 
are still to be seen. The roof is of rough hewn stones. 
Here the most warlike of the O'Connors, O'Connor 
Faily, established a monastery for Franciscan Friars. 
Here Murrough O'Connor, the bravest of the race, 
who had taken the Sheriff of Meath prisoner, was 
interred after gaining " the victory over the world and 
the devil." Here Margaret, " the best woman of her 
time in Ireland, for it was she who gave two general 
entertainments of hospitality in the one year to the 
poor " (Four Masters) was buried. Here Fionngula, 
daughter of Calvach O'Connor, the most beautiful of 
the O'Connors, took the veil and lived for forty-nine 
years "in a chaste, honourable, pious and devout 
manner." Here in the cemetery of the church of the 
field that nestles under the long ridge, repose all that 
is mortal of the princes and princesses of the fighting 
clan of the O'Connors of Offaly. 


THE O'Carrolls of Ely are another of the fighting 
clans who made the subjugation of Ireland an extremely 
difficult task to the English Lord Deputies and 
settlers. Though they never succeeded in bagging a 
Viceroy and keeping him prisoner until a ransom and 
hostage were given for him, they displayed a certain 
amount of natural taste for warfare that was extremely 
disagreeable to their more peaceably disposed neigh- 
bours. It is true that we do not find them carrying 
on long and organised campaigns like their friends 
in Offaly, but sallying from their strong castles their 
" small piles of little importance, the chiefest whereof 
is Limwaddon," as Dimmock describes them in his 
Treatise on Ireland (1600), they were able to inflict 
many a crushing blow on their adversaries. 

Ely O' Carroll, to call the clan by its proper name, 
derived its descent and domain from Eile or Ely, 
seventh in line from Cian or Kian, a son of the famous 
Oliol Ollum, King of Mumha 5 now known as Munster, 
for Moonster (Mumhan-stadr), the place of Mumha. 
According to O'h-Uidhrin Ely O'Carroll was divided 
into eight tuatha or districts, over which O'Cearbhaill 
or O'Carroll was the ruling chief. The territory of 
Ely is almost coterminous with that part of the King's 
County which belongs to the diocese of Killaloe, and 
includes the baronies of Clonlisk and Ballybritt. 
Ikerrin and Elyogarty, in Tipperary, were detatched 


from it at an early date and given to " Ormond." 
Birr, the ancient Biorra, or plain of water, the 
Umbilicus Hiberniae, or centre of Ireland, according 
to Giraldus Cambrensis, seems to have been the head- 
quarters of the tribe when they first emerge into history. 
According to the poets, they were a hospitable, fierce, 
and yellow-haired race, to whom the neighbouring 
tribes were compelled to pay tribute. 

Speaking of Ossory, the poet O'Dugan writes : 

There are three tribes who possess it, 

The Clan Carroll who are free from opposition, 

They are as fierce as leopards under their leaders. 

The war-cry of the clan was Showeth-aboe, which 
must have been at one time heard far and wide. For 
we find in the Book of Rights that the king of Caiseal 
(Cashel) paid tribute to the king of Eile : 

Eight steeds to the King of Eile of the gold, 
Eight shields, eight swords are due, 
Eight drinking horns, to be used at the feast, 
Eight coats of mail in the day of bravery. 

And again : 

The stipend of the King of Eile, of the gold, 
From the King of Caiseal, of the banquets, 
Six shields and six bright swords, 
Six bondsmen, six bondswomen. 

Up to the slopes of Sliabh Bladhma (Slieve Bloom) 
the O'Carrolls of Ely held sway, and were found to 
furnish fewer forces than the other kings to the Ard-ri. 
There was gold in the country in these days, the gold 
from which crosses and chalices, torques and chains, 
bracelets and bodkins, were fashioned, and with which 
the warrior's sword was inlaid and the lady's mantle 
inwoven. And in gold Ely was rich, for the 


O'Carroll was " King of Eileof the Gold." The chief 
was also rich in cattle and herds, that found pasture 
on the green slopes of the hills and in the well-watered 
plains of Ely. 

A bard, O'Heerin, who died in 1420, thus alludes to 
this princely race : 

Lords to whom great men submit 

Are the O'Carrolls, of the plains of Birr, 

Princes of Eile, as far as tall Slieve Bloom, 

The most hospitable land in Erin. 

Eight districts and eight chiefs are ruled 

By the Prince of Ely, of the land of herds ; 

Valiant in enforcing the tributes 

Are the troops of the yellow-ringletted hair. 

It appears that Ely came into notice at a very early 
period. The story is given in Keating'sand Comerford's 
histories of Ireland. In 212, Fergus of the black 
teeth reigned in Ireland, when the king of Ulster gave 
a great feast at Magh Breagh the Plain of the Wolf 
to which Cormac MacArt was invited. But the 
guest falling under the displeasure of the king, the 
cruel but curious order was given that Cormac's fair 
beard of which the possessor was proud should be 
burnt. Cormac immediately applied to Thady, who 
was then Chief of Ely, for assistance, and overthrew 
the king of Ulster in a great battle, and wiped out 
the disgrace of his burnt beard in the blood of his foes. 
To Birr, the seat of the pagan worship of Fen, which 
is preserved in the name Seffin, and the chief strong- 
hold of Ely O'Carroll, came the good S. Brendan, 
S. Columkill's friend (See Adamnan's Life of 
Columkill), whose prophetic gift, long life, and pro- 
found piety formed the theme of many a legend, to 
spread the light of Christianity and to found a monas- 
tery, about 550 A.D. S. Brendan, according to the 


Four Masters, died in 571 (Nov. 29), in the same 
year that a battle was fought at Tola, a plain between 
Saigher and Clonfert Molua, where the men of Ossory 
and Ely were defeated by Fiachna. To his founda- 
tion Colgan refers in the words " Birra monasterium 
in Elia in Mumonia." Some of these abbots of Birr 
were men of renown. S. Killian, a successor of S 4 
Brendan, died in 690, Seanchan, Abbot of Birr 
and Killoughy, died in 791, and MacRiagail, who 
died in 820, wrote a copy of the Gospels known as the 
Codex Rusworthianus, and was kept at Stowe. The 
work concludes with the words " Quicunque legerit et 
intelligent istam narrationem, oret pro MacReguil 
scriptore." The Rerum Hibernicarum Serif tores 
Veteres gives an account of this document. Ely 
O'Carroll had also its native saint, Albaeus, the second 
patron of Munster after Patrick, who was born here 
and said to have been exposed in his youth, as the 
legend reporteth, in a place afterwards called Rath. 
The same authority states that in 1284 "Geoffrey St. 
Leger, the second founder of the cathedral church of 
St. Canice, recovered by combat the combatants I do 
not find recorded the manor of Seirkeiran in Ely, 
now in O'Carroll's country," while Kiaran, or Pyran, 
born in Ossory, was the first bishop of Ossory and 
lived at Seir Kieran. Hanmer writes of Albanus, 
another of these primitive saints " He founded Cluain 
Findglaise and Cluan Conbruno, and went into Ely 
where he baptised and converted unto the faith, 
thousands." Birr was not only the meeting place of 
the waters, as some explain the name, from the meet- 
ing of the Brosna and the Camcor, " the river called 
the Abhan Chara," which flows from the Slieve Bloom 


and forms the boundary of Meath it was also the 
meeting place of the kings of Ireland and Munster 
and Cashel. The Four Masters mention that a meet- 
ing took place here in 825 between Conchobhar, son 
of Donchadh, king of Ireland, and Feidhlimidh, son 
of Crimhthann, king of Munster, and the Annals of 
Ulster give 826 as date for " a kingly parlee at Byre 
between Felim and Connor." 

Hither the " foreigners of the Boyne," as the Four 
Masters describe the Danes, penetrated in 841, plun- 
dering both Birr and Saighar. Of this inroad of des- 
truction, Ely O' Carroll has a perpetual record in the 
name Oxmantown, or the town of the Ostmen. 
Through here, in 852, Felim of Cashel, the archbishop 
king of the south, passed in his terrible expedition to 
Tara, plundering and slaying all the Irish that came 
in his way, instead of forming a coalition against the 
invaders. Here the tribe of the O'Connors, the Ui 
Failge, were defeated and many of them slain, with 
Cinaeth Cruach, in 949. From here a strong detach- 
ment of the O'Carrolls marched to join the standard 
of Bryan Boroihme, and helped to hurl the ruthless 
invaders the Vikings of the North into the sea on 
the strands of Clontarf. In 1121 the town lay under 
the fear and distress of a terrible siege. For Torlogh, 
the son of Roderick O'Connor, king of Ireland, had 
collected a great army and " encamped near Birr for 
some months," and then, to the infinite relief of the 
O'Carrolls, he was forced by the heavy snows and 
bitter cold of winter to withdraw to Connaught again. 
The history of the O'Carrolls begins with a sacrilege 
the murder of a king, O'Hendersgeol of Cathluighe 
in South Munster, who was stabbed as he was leaving 


the church, and fell dead on the threshold (1154). 
And twenty years afterwards, Rughry O'Carroll, king 
of Ely, was slain by his own brother on an island 
(Inis Clothrann) in the Shannon, and in 1170, the 
Annals of Boyle says the Synod of Birr was held here. 
It is the story of a red-haired and red-handed race 
that we are now reading. But when we remem- 
ber the fierce times in which they lived, and the wild 
and ungovernable passions of a people who had never 
experienced the blessing of peace, who had but half 
learnt the lessons of Christianity, and who had imbibed 
from their parents that inborn love of fighting which 
has now been happily turned by English influence 
into more useful but not less vigorous channels, we may 
not judge them harshly, though we may congratulate 
ourselves on the fact that their day is over, and their 
dread is past. 

The English invasion should have had at any rate 
one good effect in making the isolated tribes and prin- 
cipalities of Ireland forget their private feuds for a 
moment and combine to some extent against their 
common foe. But the clansmen of the different tribes 
would not amalgamate ; they had been so long accus- 
tomed to hate and fear, to distrust and dislike their 
neighbours. And so they presented an easier task to 
the Anglo-Normans than they had doubtless antici- 
pated. It was in consequence of their dissension that 
the English king was able to portion out their 
dominions to his favourite and trusted knights, and 
the latter were not afraid to occupy that part of the 
land that fell to their share. 

It seems that Henry II., without consulting the 
wishes of the O'Carrolls, had made over the estates of 


Ely O' Carroll to Theobald Fitzwalter, the ancestor of 
the powerful Butlers of Ormond, and that the 
treacherous John, with an equal disregard for his 
father's promises, sold the same lots to Walter 
de Braosa for a large sum of money, so that Fitzwalter 
had to purchase Braosa's claim before he could take 
possession. This he at once proceeded to do, having 
granted part of Birr to Hugh de Hose or Hussy. 
The O'Carroll opposed his entrance into his dominions, 
but suffered defeat, losing his own life in the battle. 
The English invaders were now greatly aided in their 
conquest of Ely by the unpatriotic action of Moriertagh 
MacBryen of the Mountain (an Slieve, i.e. Tuatharra), 
a Tipperary neighbour, who seized the opportunity 
while the O'Carrolls had their hands full, to overrun 
their country (1207). According to the Annals of 
Clonmacnoise, this highland chief besieged the castle 
of Byrre, and at last burnt the whole town. He then 
attacked the Castle of Kinnetty and the castle of 
Lothra, and broke them down and destroyed them, 
thus leaving the country of his neighbours completely 
exposed to the incursions of Fitzwalter and his 

Kinnetty, as we have already seen, was one of the 
frontier fortresses of the O'Carroll sept. The tower, 
built on a spur of the mountain range of Slieve Bloom, 
served to protect the O'Carroll's country from the in- 
vasions of the foreign Danes and the native Irish. That 
castle, with others belonging to the sept, now fell into 
the hands of the English, who profited by O'Bryen's 
campaign by occupying and restoring the castles of 
Burrow, Birr and Kinnetty (1213). The English 
having already erected a castle at Athlone, the central 


plain of Ireland was now dominated by their spearsmen, 
archers and cavalry. 

But the O'Carrolls were not conquered. Far from 
it, for when defeated in the field they had strongholds 
to flee into, even those at Clonlisk, Dunkerrin, Emil, 
and Lemivanane, or Leap. Behind the stout walls 
and deep trenches of these fortresses they were safe 
until gunpowder was brought to bear upon them. 
Then only did they yield. 

At Clonlisk, the meadow of the fort, two miles from 
Shinrone, the O'Carrolls "of the redddened spears" 
were able to inflict a defeat upon a force of English 
who were marching to surprise them from the south, 
but who found in Shinrone (the seat of the Seal) a 
veritable ambush of fierce and nimble warriors. Intes- 
tine feuds from this time forth helped to decimate the 
ranks of the O'Carrolls. The men of Ossory, on the 
one side, and the fierce kerne from Arran on the other, 
proved relentless and persistent foes. The Lord of 
Ely was slain in battle on his own lands as he was 
leading his men against the Ossorians, and James, 
Earl of Arran, took Teige O'Carroll, his own brother- 
in-law, prisoner, and kept him confined for eight years. 
But Teige escaped from his dungeon, to be afterwards 
slain by Lord Deputy Scrope (1407). 

But amongst the fiery chieftains of this race some 
few were found who had more pious aspirations than 
to live the life of Ishmael, with their hand against 
every man and every man's hand against them. For, 
as we found an O'Connor withdrawn from the scenes 
of blood to the studies of the cloister, so we find Thady 
O'Carroll desirous of retiring into a more obscure but 
pious existence. But his clansmen and the lords of 


Eastern Munster prevailed upon him to remain as he 
was, so he compromised matters by paying a visit to 
the Pope (1396), and afterwards was received at the 
Court of King Richard II., who was preparing an 
expedition to Ireland. But he seems to have been 
the solitary member of the reigning family that evinced 
such a desire, for those who went before him and those 
who came after him were conspicuous for the Berserker 
rage which has ever distinguished the Celtic race. 


The O' Carroll had warlike neighbours who never 
refused to give him the pleasure of a fray. Right up 
to the town of Birr in Ely ran the ancient territory of 
the O'Maolmuaidhor O'Mulloy, called Fearcall, which 
may mean either the man of the wood or the man of 
the churches. The district is very bare and bleak and 
contains the ancient battlefield of Moylena, according 
to O' Flaherty's Ogygia, but there are traces of plan- 
tations known as the " Great Wood of Fearcall," near 
Broughall Castle at Frankford, one of the principal 
seats of the O'Mulloys, and at Dowris, near Whigs- 
borough, or Cloneen, as it used to be called. Eglish, 
the name of the barony, which corresponds with 
ecclesia or church, supports the other derivation, 
which also receives some colour from the number of 
ancient churches in the district. Among these are 
Drumcullin, Kilcormack, Killyon, Ralyon, and Eglish. 
The O'Mulloy, who was variously styled king, prince, 
and chief, ruled this district, which comprised the 
baronies of Eglish and Ballyboy, lay in the ancient 
Kingdom of Meath, and between the O'Connors on 
one side and the O'Carrolls on the other. He was of 


the race of the Southern Hy Niall. O'Dugan thus 
describes him : 

The Prince of Fearcall of the ancient swords 

Is O'Molloy of the free-born name ; 

Full power was granted to him, 

And he held his own country uncontrolled. 

The O'Mulloys appear early and frequently in the 
Annals of the Four Masters. In 1175, O'Maolmuaidh 
(O'Mulloy), lord of " Ferkale," was treacherously 
slain by Roderick, son of Conor MacCoghlan. In 
1382 Fergal Roe, son of MacGeoghegan, chief of 
Kinel Fiacha was treacherously slain by the people of 
Fearcall, when Fergal O'Mulloy, and the son of 
Theobald " were the persons who attacked him, and 
Myler Maintin was he who struck him." This may 
have been in revenge for the murder of Cian O' Carroll, 
the " illustrious heir," by Hugh O'Mulloy, who struck 
him with a javelin in 1380. In 1410 Torlogh and 
Teige, the sons of O'Mulloy, were slain by the people 
of Glenmalire, showing that they had quarrels with 
their neighbours on every side. In 1454 there was a 
dispute for the chieftaincy, which caused a schism in 
the sept for some time, for Theobald O'Mulloy and 
the grandson of Cosnavach O'Mulloy were appointed 
chiefs " in opposition to each other." And seven 
years afterwards Theobald, "lord of the half of 
Fearcall, was killed by O'Mulloy of the wood." In 
1533 the lord of Fearcall was treacherously slain by 
his brother Peregrine and his nephew Art in the plain 
of Lynally, and his brother Cahir " was nominated 
the O'Mulloy." In 1582 Donald, the son of Theobald 
O'Mulloy, was slain, and "his death was the less 
lamented on account of his having endeavoured to 


supplant and expel his father, in order that he might 
assume his place." In 1585 Conall O'Mulloy, the 
lord of Fearcall, attended Queen Elizabeth's Parliament 
in Dublin, and in this reign the princes of this house 
were appointed royal standard bearers of Leinster. 
Cox, in his account of Lord Deputy Russell's progress 
in Ulster in 1595, states that O'Mulloy carried the 
English standard on one day and O'Hanlon of Armagh 
on the next. In virtue of the office they carried as 
arms a mounted knight with the British standard in 
his hand and the family arms on his shield. And on 
his death in 1599 his son Calvach took his place " by 
the power of the Queen," although there were 
gentlemen of his lineage who objected to and opposed 
him " according to the law of the Irish concerning that 
title." It would seem that certain of his family were 
wise in their generation, but their politics seemed 
rather uncertain. However, their lands and people 
suffered during the Elizabeth wars, although they 
seem to have but once fought with the O'Connors and 
other septs against the queen's forces. For the 
district was invaded by Lord Leonard Grey in 1537, 
who, according to Mageoghan, took the castles of 
Eglish, Birr and Modereny and, according to the 
Annals of Boyle, the castles of Modrymore and 
Broghill also. In 1580 Lord Grey, with 150 cavalry 
and six companies of infantry, reinforcements from 
England, overran the territories of Offaly, Fearcall, 
Kinelyagh and Ely. Camden and Mageoghan inform 
us that he pacified the O' Carroll of Ely but caused 
O'Mulloy, lord of Fearcall, to be put to death " as a 
seditious person." In 1600 the Four Masters relate 
that Hugh O'Neill, lord of Tyrone, marched into 


Fearcall, where he remained nine days and the people 
submitted to him ; and that he then " proceeded over 
the Sliebh Bloom mountains." On this occasion 
O'Neill sent three bands to plunder and harry the 
territory of Ely O'Carroll, and he then marched south 
to Roscrea. The next year, 1601, he returned, and 
with several other chiefs who " were expeditiously 
conveyed across the Shannon at Shannon Harbour ; 
from thence they proceeded to Delvin MacCoghlan, 
to Fearcall, to the borders of Slieve Bloom, and into 
Ikerrin." By these raids Fearcall was greatly cut up, 
but the O'Mulloys continued to hold their own and to 
retain their property for a considerable time, one estate, 
Clonbella, being still in the hands of an O'Mulloy. 

The chief burial place of the sept was Kilcormack 
Monastery, which was found for White Friars by 
Odo O'Mulloy. Mr. Archdall informs us that as well 
as being the place for the interment of the chief, this 
monastery was the scene of an inhuman murder, for 
in 1525 Charles O'Mulloy and his followers drew Hugh 
and Constantine O'Mulloy out of the church and put 
them to death " before the gate of the convent." In 
1 548 it and Saighir Chiarain, Seir Keiran, were burned 
down by the English and O'Carroll. The principal 
fortresses of this sept were Broghill Castle near 
Frankford, Caislean-na-Hegailse or Eglish Castle, 
Kiltubrid Castle> Rathmackilduffe, the Castle of 
Dowris, Le Porte Castle and Ballindown. Broghill 
Castle, still a splendidly preserved keep, with high 
walls in places, ten feet thick, was the chief residence 
of the O'Mulloy. In 1537 it was, however, surprised 
by the Lord Deputy. In the great hall lavish 
hospitality was given to all, the O'Mulloys being said to 


have entertained 900 men at the close of the sixteenth 
century. The property passed into the hands of the 
Marquis of Lansdowne through Sir William Petty. 
It is now owned by Mr. Christopher Banon, D.L., 
whose ancestor, Frank MacAuley, of the tribe men- 
tioned by O'Dugan 

The Fair MacAuley rules over 
The entire of the ports of Calrie. 

gave its name to Frankford. Kiltubrid Castle stood 
once on an island and was known as Island Castle, 
but the land has now been completely drained. It is 
not far from Kinnetty and Drumcullen. Shane 
O'Mnlloy lived at the Castle of Dowris in 1607, and 
Le Porte Castle stood on Lough Coura, since drained, 
near the present Whigsborough. These castles were 
on the frontiers of Fearcall facing Delvin (Dealbna 
Eathra), the county of the MacCoghlans, while 
Ballindown, "the town of the Dun or Earthen Fort," 
is nearer to Birr. 

This glimpse of the O'Carrolls neighbours may 
prove of interest. To return to this class, we find 
that the good and pious Thady O' Carroll, who wished 
to retire to the seclusion of a monastery from the 
world and lawless life of his time, was succeeded by 
a warlike O' Carroll, who was speedily involved in a 
war with the Butlers of Ormonde, who eventually 
entered Ely and burnt down two of his fortresses 
(1432). Fifteen years, enlivened by the usual border 
feuds between the Irish and their English neighbours 
passed, and another enemy of an even more pernicious 
nature appeared, sparing neither high nor low, priest 
nor peasant, Norman nor Celt. Hussey, Baron of 
Galtrim, and 700 priests are said to have died of the 


plague (1447). The O'Carrolls, however, seem to 
have come well out of it, for in 1460 we find them in 
power, and, according to Macgeoghegan, compelling 
the counties of Kilkenny and Tipperary to pay forty 
livres yearly. Great pressure, however, was brought to 
bear upon the Lord Deputy, the Earl of Kildare, by the 
English of the Pale to release them from the tyranny 
of the O'Carrolls, and he besieged them in the castle 
of Lemivanane, or Banan's leap, which he failed to 
take, and on his return for reinforcements fell sick at 
Athy and died 1514. So the Four Masters say. But 
his son, Gerald, assumed the reigns of government 
and marched against this castle, now known as Leap 
Castle, and took it, although "it was doubtful," say 
the Four Masters, " if there was in that time a castle 
better fortified and defended than that, until it was 
demolished on its guards." This happened in 1516. 
This fortress is as formidable as it is forbidding, being 
of great strength and of equal antiquity. It is still 
in splendid preservation and full of interesting points for 
the antiquarian, oubliettes, crenelles, machicolations, 
etc. A capital view of the surrounding country may 
be had from its grim parapets. Right opposite 
is a splendid specimen of a rath, with a raised 
platform of earth for the chieftain's residence, with 
which the castle, which is said to have been built by 
the Danes, was connected by a subterranean passage. 
Mr. and Mrs. Darby the latter of whom is widely 
known under her nom de plume of Andrew Merry 
take much pride in their fine old baronial residence, 
which has been for the last three centuries in the 
possession of the Darby family, which was connected 
by marriage with the O'Carrolls. 


WE now come to an unpleasant episode in the history 
of the sept, a family dispute, which did more to weaken 
its power than any foreign oppression could have 
done. To cut a long story short, when John, son of 
Maolroona O'Carroll, died in 1485, the chieftainship 
of the sept was claimed by another O'Carroll, who 
was elected on account of his splendid qualities. This 
was the famous Maolroona O'Carroll, who, according 
to the Four M asters , was " the most distinguished 
man of his tribe for valour, prosperity, and excellence, 
to whom poets, travellers, ecclesiastics, and literary 
men were most thankful, and who gave, and enter- 
tained, and bestowed more presents than any other 
who lived of his lineage." But though devoted to 
literature, the patronage of all that was excellent, and 
the dispenser of princely hospitality, this, the best of 
the O'Carrolls, was, like the British Prince Alfred, 
equally proficient in the arts of war. For, while he 
was " the anvil of knowledge, and the golden pillar of 
the Elyans," he was also " the supporting mainstay of 
all persons, the rightful victorious rudder of his race ; 
the powerful young warrior in the march of tribes ; 
the active triumphant champion of Munster." This 
Maolroona O'Carroll was as popular among the 
English as he was among his own people. For he wooed 
and won no less a bride than the Lady Fitzgerald, 
daughter of the Earl of Kildare. Her sister had been 



previously wedded to Bryan O'Connor of Offaly. But 
Maolroona died, unlike most of the O'Connors, how- 
ever, in his own castle on S. Matthew's Day (1532), 
after he had heard of the defeat of the Earl of Ormond 
by his sons, who took many horses, and some ordnance 
at a ford which was called Bel-atha-na-bh Fabcun, in 
memory of the achievement. His eldest son, Fer- 
ganainm, or the " man without a name," was chosen 
to succeed him. But the sons of John O' Carroll, the 
former chief, who had distressed the closing years of 
Maolroona by conspiring with his foes against him, at 
once took the field against Ferganainm, and, seizing 
the Castle of Birr, continued to harass the supporters 
of Ferganainm, who entreated the Lord Deputy, the 
Earl of Kildare, his uncle, to come to his aid. This 
the latter did without delay. And taking on his way 
the Castle of Killurin, in Geashill, the Castle of Eglish, 
and the Castle of Ballindooney, or Ballindown, where 
the sons of John had fortified themselves, he proceeded 
to storm the Castle of Birr. During the attempt on 
this fortress, which he assailed from the Monastery of 
Birr, the Earl was wounded in his side by a bullet, 
but still persisted in the attack until the place was 
stormed. The earl was recalled shortly afterwards to 
England to give an account of his stewardship, and to 
answer among other things why he, a person of 
English descent, had, in spite of the statute of Kil- 
kenny, allowed his daughters to marry the Milesian 
Irish, and was committed to the Tower by Henry VIII. 
There he died shortly afterwards (1535). 

In the meantime he was succeeded by Lord Grey, 
whose presence was almost immediately required in 
the country of the O'Connors and O'Carrolls. For 


" Silken Thomas" had commenced his absurd rebellion, 
and induced the only too willing clans to rally round 
the standard of revolt. Down to Offaly and Ely came 
the new Deputy, and took the castles of Eglish, Birr, 
Modereny, Modrymore, and Broghill, but not before 
much destruction had been wrought by Ferganainm. 
However, this proved an instance of the soft answer 
turning away wrath, for while O'Connor was driven 
from his land, and was followed by the unrelenting 
hatred and unremitting severity of Lord Grey, the 
O'Carroll succeeded in conciliating him and throwing 
dust in his eyes when he tendered his submission to 
him in Dublin Castle. It was one of the charges made 
against this unfortunate nobleman that he had over- 
looked the outrages that Ferganainm had committed, 
and was too partial to the Geraldines (1541). It would 
have been better for these Viceroys had they and 
their daughters seen less of the fascinating O'Carrolls. 
However, the King himself, Henry VIII., in 1539 
concluded a treaty l with Ferganainm on the conditions 
that the latter was to pay tribute for Ely O'Carroll, to 
furnish forces to the king, and to give the deputy 
passage through his dominions whenever it was neces- 
sary. Poor Ferganainm, however, did not long survive 
this new settlement of the question, for the unhappy 
man, now infirm and blind, was treacherously killed in 
his own castle of Clonlisk (Clonlis) by Teige, his 
kinsman, the son of Donagh, and the grandson of 
John O'Carroll, and by one of the O'Mulloys. The 
Four Masters give a full record of it. It was a 

1 A copy of this treaty concordia facta inter Regem et O'Karroll 
Capitaneum Patriae Ely O'Karroll is preserved in Sir W. Betham's 
7mA Antiquarian Researches. 


terrible scene, the assassins seemed to have got a 
secret entrance into the castle and attacked the blind 
prince unawares, but he defended himself with such 
vigour while some of his attendants, most of 
them unarmed, hurried to his assistance, and pre- 
sented their defenceless bodies between the 
miscreants and their king, and thus obtained 
the glory of dying with their master (1541). 

Now ensued a decade of fighting with varying 
fortune, but out of which the O'Carrolls seem to have 
emerged the best. Trusting more to their natural 
wit than to the force of their arms, they secured 
favourable terms from their invaders, who saw that it 
would be wiser to treat the sept at all events with more 
apparent consideration than they had done. But it is 
questionable if there was any sincerity on either side. 
In 1548 it is said that Thady O'Carroll (Thady being 
the same as Teige or Tadg), made an arrangement 
with Brabazon by which he engaged himself to supply 
the king with forces, and that shortly afterwards he 
surrendered his dominion of Ely O'Carroll to King 
Edward VI., who restored it to him with the title of 
Lord Baron of Ely. But this statement is not well 
authenticated. It is queried by Ware. It is certain, 
however, that this Thadeus was able to secure posses- 
sion of Birr and to inflict a defeat on the English 
settlers. But Thadeus did not live long to reap the 
fruits of the victory, which were not, however, fated 
to be lasting. For he was slain by Cahir 
O'Carroll, who became Baron of Ely, and who 
perished as he deserved by the sword of 
another rival, William O'Carroll. The seed of 
dissension, sown by John O'Carroll and fostered 


by the English, did indeed produce a harvest of 
blood in 1554. 

This William wisely tendered his submission to the 
English, and was acknowledged by them as the 
successor to the title of Lord of Ely, and having 
promised to fight for the King and Queen of England, 
and to send Queen Mary a number of horse and foot, 
was made Governor of Ely by Royal Patent (1557). 
This was all the wily William desired. The moment 
the Deputy's back was turned he began the old game 
of plundering the English settlements, in spite of the 
fact that the Deputy, before he had withdrawn, had 
taken hostages from William and his confederates for 
their good behaviour, which did not last long. For 
we find that after his return, the Earl of Essex was 
obliged to send an expedition through Fearcall to 
punish the O'Mulloys, and advancing with great 
rapidity to Lemyvanane Castle, now called Leap, he 
took William by surprise, and the latter only escaped 
by the swiftness of his horse. Teige O'Carroll was 
then put in the Governorship in his place by the 
English Deputy, who saw the advantage of promoting 
division in the ranks of the O'Carrolls, which was not 
hard to do among so quarrelsome a sept. But William 
was not done with, for he returned in an unexpected 
manner to his favourite stronghold, Caislean-an- 
Leime, the Castle of the Leap, and after slaying 
the English garrison, was once more master of Lemy- 
vanane. His triumph, however, was but short-lived, for 
he was afterwards severely defeated by the soldiers of 
Essex, and had to draw in his horns. It was at this 
time that the districts of Leix and Offaly were made 
into the shires of King's County and Queen's County ; 


Ely, which was omitted at the time, being included 
in King's County afterwards. Dangan then became 
known as Philipstown, Maryborough being created 
the capital of Queen's County. 

Under the 8th of March, 1576, we have an interest- 
ing document drawn up by " Betwyxte Sir Henry 
Sidney, Knight, Lord Deputy of Ireland, for and on 
behalf of the Queenes's Most Excellent Majestic, of 
those parts, and Sir William O'Kerroll, of Lemyvanan, 
in the countrie called Elye O'Kerroll, and now to be 
parcell of the King's County." This was a deed of 
surrender, a full copy of which is given in O' Donovan's 
translation of the Four Masters. Its chief interest 
nowadays arises from the list of thirty-six landed 
proprietors who held the land of Ballybritt and Clon- 
lisk, under the O'Carrolls. The evident object of 
O'Carroll in delivering his possessions to the 
" Queene's most honourable Court of Chauncerie of 
Ireland " was to secure them by letters patent, one of 
the conditions of the surrender, for his illegitimate 
sons, of whom he had four John O'Kerroll, Teige 
O'Kerroll, Calloghe O'Kerroll, and Donoghe O'Ker- 
roll. And this he managed to do, and so excluded 
the legitimate heir, his own brother, Donoghe Keoghe 
O'Kerroll, from the succession. 

But the Irish septs of Ely, Leix, Offaly, and 
Fearcall still continued in a restless and unpacified 
condition. While giving fair words to the English 
Deputy they ceased not to prey upon each other, and 
to plunder the property of the settlers, like the moss- 
trooping Scots of border fame. One of these ex- 
peditions (1579) against Birr terminated fatally. For 
we read that Conal Buighe, the son of Gillpatrick, 


the son of Pierce O' Moore, was slain at Birr in the 
territory of Ely, and the historian's comment is that 
" it was better that he was killed, for it was to plunder 
the town that he had come." But while the Irish 
wolves were quarrelling in their dens, the English 
bloodhounds were on their trail, tracking them to their 
lairs. Lord Grey, reinforced by cavalry and infantry 
from England, was upon them, and " pacified " the 
O'Carrolls and the O'Mulloys. On his return the 
Deputy released a hostage, William, the son of 
Ferganainm, whose tragical death has been described. 
But the unfortunate man was not fated to enjoy the 
liberty of his native air, for as he was returning he 
was attacked by some of his enemies of the O'Connor 
clan who were displeased at his release, and who 
" slew him at once and left his body exposed to the 
claws of wolves and ravens." But the murdered man's, 
son, John, was chosen to be the Lord of Ely. He, 
too, did not enjoy his honours long. For Teige's 
perfidious example was doomed to be perpetuated. 
John O'Carroll was stabbed the very next year, 1582, 
" with abominable and unprofitable treachery " by 
Mulroona, the son of Teige Caoch, the son of Fer- 
ganainm. The assassin then became a victim of 
assassination, falling three months afterwards by the 
hand of a brother of the man he murdered Calvagh 

This Calvagh O'Carroll was then nominated chief of 
the clan, which position he managed to hold for fifteen 
years. He is described by the Four Masters as " a 
warlike, defending man, and a strong arm against his 
English and Irish neighbours ; he was a knight by 
title and honour, by authority of his sovereign." In 


the Parliament convened by Sir John Perrott at Dublin 
(1585), this Calvagh O' Carroll, with his neighbours, 
the O'Mulloy, O' Madden, and MacCoghlan of Delvin, 
was a distinguished figure. But there is an indelible 
blot of shame on his escutcheon. For it appears that 
Calvagh had hired some of the MacMahons from 
Monaghan to help him in the plundering expeditions, 
but when their time for payment came he had no 
funds to settle with them. With unspeakable trucu- 
lence he conceived the idea of " removing " them. 
Accordingly in his castle of Lemyvanane, where 
O'Banan made his immortal leap, he made a great 
feast in honour of his mercenaries. But at the end of 
the banquet, when the revellers were overcome with 
the pleasures of the table, the orders were given to 
close the doors, and the perfidious host, violating all 
the traditions of hospitality, which were often of more 
weight in the eyes of the Celt than the laws of God, 
caused his armed retainers to fall upon the defenceless 
men who had fought his battles, and slew them to a 

For this act of unparalleled atrocity, Calvagh paid 
the penalty. The O'Neills from the north invaded his 
land, harrying and carrying all before them, and in 
June of the following year his life was taken <( by some 
inferior gentlemen of the O'Carrolls and O'Meaghers." 
Such was the melancholy end of a great warrior, whose 
crimes prevent us from regarding him as a hero. When 
we compare the callousness and perfidy of such men 
the prevalent type of the Celt at the close of the six- 
teenth century with the gallantry and chivalry of 
their English contemporaries, of whom Sir Philip 
Sydney is an example, we cannot but lament the fact 


that his life of constant rapine and murder tended to 
foster all that was low and cunning, and banished all 
that was generous and noble from the heart of the 
Celtic chief. There was nothing to encourage but 
much to impede the spirit of chivalry in the associations 
of the Irish chieftain, who knew himself to be safe in 
his stronghold from the representatives of the law he 
had so basely broken. It was well for Ireland that a 
new race was coming to infuse higher ideas and better 
customs into the wild but warm blood of the Irish 
clans, who when trained and disciplined have proved 
on many a field and in many a clime that they are in- 
ferior to no race in the game of war and the arts of 

In the last year of the century that had witnessed 
so many distressing scenes and doughty deeds, we 
find that the O'Carrolls, who were then posing as 
dutiful and loyal, though, we need hardly add, little 
trusted servants of the Crown, were ordered to invade 
the O'Mulloys of Fearcall, who were at this time living 
in the heated atmosphere of family feuds and open 
sedition. This order the O'Carrolls must have been 
only too willing to obey. Sir Charles O'Carroll 
appears in command of 100 men in the muster roll of 
the Lord Deputy Mountjoy, dated 26th March, 1600, 
and Captain Mulrooney O'Carroll as commanding 100 
foot in O'Carroll's Country in the same and the two 
following years. 

The seventeenth century saw many changes in this 
powerful sept. When the so-called " undertakers " 
were planted in Ely, O'Carroll, to the disgust of the 
dispossessed, but to the advantage of our poor distress- 
ful country, those of the O'Carrolls who fell in with 


the existing order of things fared well, while those 
who did not for a time defied the English from behind 
their stout fortresses of Emill, Dunkerrin, or Frankfort, 
Lemvanane, and Clonlisk. 

On an inquisition held in the year 1612 Teige 
O J Carroll was found to possess some ninety acres, but 
Lord Thurles, on behalf of his father, the Earl of 
Ormond, declared that the said Teige had surrendered 
his claim to the earl, and held the property as the 
latter's tenant. The O'Carroll afterwards disputed 
this statement when he found that Sir Laurence 
Parsons had been given possession of Birr, but after 
petitioning the king three times the decision was given 
against him. Thus ends the connection of the 
O'Carrolls with their old town, which now, thanks to 
the genius, enterprise, and wealth of Sir Laurence and 
his worthy successors, was transformed from being the 
headquarters of a lawless predatory chieftain, and the 
scene of murders and rapine, into the centre of culture, 
civilization, and religion as it once was in the mid- 
land counties of Ireland. Birr rapidly improved. Its 
streets were lighted, its poor were employed and pro- 
tected, glass was manufactured in the Bigo factory, 
chimneys were erected on the houses, and single 
women were forbidden, under pain of being exposed 
for three days in the stocks, to sell liquor. The 
" Black Castle " of Birr a forbidding ruin that stood 
prominently above the river's bank, presents a signi- 
ficant contrast with the handsome baronial residence 
which has taken its place, and which has stood as 
many sieges and seen as much fighting under its valiant 
defenders whose history in places reads like a 
romance as any other castle in the land. In 1639 


we read of a search made by Sir William Parsons, of 
Birr, and Captain William Paisley, Provost-Marshal 
of Munster, in the castle of Clonlisk, where O' Carroll 
was suspected of plotting a conspiracy. The bird was 
flown, but the searchers found a quantity of muskets 
and pikes and a secret chamber, which had been used 
in former times for coming money. Another strong- 
hold of the once powerful sept was Dunkerrin, the 
fortress of the ash tree, which afterwards passed into 
the hands of Thomas Francks, who obtained by grant 
the lands of Coologe and Castleroan, and became 
known as Frankfort Castle. 

But the last memoirs of the O'Carrolls are associated 
with Emmell, a castle that had long been in their 
possession, and one that, like the others, except Leap 
castle, which, strange to say, is now held partly in the 
O'Carroll name and right, was taken from them. The 
Irish Rebellion of 1641 hastened the climax. Then 
the O'Carrolls, Mulloys, Kennedys, and the neigh- 
bouring septs rose and burnt down the castles of the 
settlers, and in many cases murdered the inmates. 
This cruelty was not, however, universal. Many in- 
stances of gallantry and courtesy extended by the 
rebels to the English, notably the polite treatment 
which Lady Anne Parsons received from Colonel 
Moore, who besieged Parsonstown, relieve that story 
of some of its repellent and melancholy features. The 
tide of fortune turned, and Emmell was granted by 
Cromwell to Captain Rose, and its owner had to take 
up his abode in Cullenwaine, where he died in 1681. 

He was succeeded by his son, Long Anthony Carroll, 
who made a supreme but ineffectual effort to retrieve 
the fortunes of his ancient house. However, he was 


able to recover Emmell. For Captain Rose, not feel- 
ing at all safe among such determined and dangerous 
neighbours, who had been the loyal supporters of the 
House of Stuart, to which he and his late general 
officer, the Lord Protector, had proved traitors, was 
glad to dispose of it by deed of sale to Long Anthony 
in 1676. Anthony now became regarded as the lord 
of Ely, and endeavoured, with some success, to unite 
the scattered fragments of his sept. However, the 
revolution of 1688 burst upon the land, fanning into 
flame the now dormant elements of party strife and 
hatred, and Anthony, like all the Irish chieftains, re- 
mained loyal to the king. Their loyalty cost them 
dear. Anthony armed his men, and took part in a 
great many encounters under the brilliant leadership 
of Sarsfield. In one of his expeditions he seized 
Nenagh, which was then in the hands of a party who 
had ever been opposed to the Stuarts. And although 
the castle was dismantled and its walls had not been 
rebuilt since Ireton demolished them in 1651, he 
thought of making it his headquarters for his operations 
in Ormond. However, he was forced to abandon it 
on the approach of General Leveson against him, so 
he evacuated the town after burning it down to pre- 
vent it being of use to the Orange party. There is no 
doubt that his movement was accelerated by the re- 
port that a strong body of William's men were march- 
ing against Emmell. Those men never reached their 
destination. The gallant Anthony was before them. 
And as the Dutchmen were endeavouring to pick their 
way through an Irish bog at Barna, the Place of the 
Gap, the Celts flew upon them like wolves upon their 
prey, and the scene of the slaughter that ensued bears 


the name of " the Bloody Togher," or pass through 
the bog. 

But when King James fled, Anthony showed his 
wisdom by returning to his estates and submitting to 
the new condition of things, which he could not alter, 
with a good grace. Finally, the lavish hospitality of 
Anthony's great grandson, Richard O' Carroll, who 
was compelled to mortgage his castle and estates, 
extinguished the flickering glories of this illustrious 


SIR JOHN DAVIS alleges as reasons why the country 
was not subdued until his time (1603). (i) "The 
faint prosecution of the war " and (2) " the looseness 
of the civil government." When discussing the 
superficial nature of Henry IPs. conquest he points 
out that Henry very unwisely gave the Irish lords the 
style of " kings." The word " Rex " is preserved in 
Hoveden's record of his agreement with Roderick 
O'Connor. And from the twelfth year of King John 
to the thirty-sixth year of Edward III. no royal 
army came from England to make an end of the war, 
but during that period " the chief governors of the 
realm, at first called Custodes Hiberniae and afterwards 
Lords Justices," maintained an ill-paid and ill- 
governed army in the country. The English subjects 
in Ireland were continually cessed and taxed to main- 
tain this army because little treasure came out of 
England to pay the soldiers' wages. Consequently 
in all the Pipe-Rolls of Henry III., Edward I., 
Edward II., and Edward III., there is the entry " In 
Thesauro nihil '* (nothing in the treasury) because the 
officers of the state and army had exhausted the little 
there was." 

We do not imply that the officers or their men were 
well paid according to modern standards, in those 
days. Sir John Davis informs us that 6s. 8d. a day 
was the pay drawn by Lord Lionel as general, but 


this was doubled when he was created Duke of 
Clarence. Then he was allowed for eight knights 2s. 
each, per diem; for sixty-four esquires is. each; for 
368 mounted archers from Lancashire, 6d. each ; and 
for twenty-three archers from Wales, 2d. each, per 
diem. When Lord Lientenant 1361-1369, James, Earl 
of Ormonde, Lord Justice in 1364 was allowed for 
twenty armed "hobblers," as Irish horsemen who 
served on " hobbies " were called, 6d. each, and for 
twenty unarmed " hobblers " 4d. each, per diem. In 
the time of Sir William Windsor (Lord Lieutenant 
1 369) the charge of the kingdom amounted only to 
11,200, while the revenue, according to Sir John 
Davis, did not rise to 10,000 any year during the 
reign of Edward III. In the year 1442 the revenue 
only amounted to 4,877 2s. 4d. And in the same 
year one of perfect peace the Executive and 
military establishment in Ireland cost only 
7,982 6s. 8d. The force itself consisted of 9 officers 
and 532 men, who were maintained at an annual cost 
of 7,175 133. 4d. a small force and outlay com- 
pared with the Dublin police and the cost of their 
maintenance, and utterly inadequate for the purpose 
of protecting life and property in the Pale, had they 
not been supported by the levies of the Pale and the 
Earl of Ossory. The force was divided in this way : Sir 
Anthony St. Leger's retinue, 2 officers and 100 horse- 
men (1,360 i6s. per an.) ; Mr. R. St. Leger's retinue, 
2 officers and 100 horsemen at the same cost ; Mr. 
Brereton's retinue, 2 officers and 150 archers; the 
Master of Ordnance, 3 officers and 100 hackbutteers. 
The Treasurer of this empty treasury had an escort 
of 40 horsemen ; the Knight Marshal had i officer 


and 32 horsemen ; and the Clerk of the Check, 10 
horsemen. Lord Leonard Grey had introduced in 
1535 the plan at first effectual, of sending flying 
columns supported by artillery, through the country, 
which checked the lawless here and there for a moment, 
but, of course, led to no permanent settlement of the 
country. But when we consider the slenderness of 
the means at his disposal, the paucity of his troops 
and the smallness of his treasury we wonder at the 
success of his enterprises and the extent of his opera- 
tions. In 1536 when he invaded Munster, which was 
in revolt, he had an army of 1,023 men, 323 of whom 
were Irish levies ! In 1560 the Irish revenues of 
Elizabeth were 8,351, 500 of this came from the 
lands of Leix and Offaly, while the outlay was 9,400, 
a deficit of 1,049. The expenditure was as follows : 
1,500 for the Lord Lieutenant; an escoit of 50 
horsemen, 700; 100 horsemen to attend him, 
1,400; 200 footmen to do the same, 2,600; 100 
kerne, 600 ; 100 footmen for the fort of Offaly, 
1,300 ; 100 footmen for the fort of Leix, 1,300, a 
horseman being paid 14 per an. ; and footmen 13. 
Ireland was, financially in those times a dead loss to 
England. During the first 16 years of Elizabeth's 
reign the loss in hard cash in those days was 
370,779 a sum which would have established a 
magnificent exhibition in London or Dublin, or 
founded a noble university. 

The principal source of the King's income in 
Ireland was the customs, which were chiefly raised 
on hides, rents of land and various subsidies. Queen 
Elizabeth, for instance, had certain "bonaught for 
gallowglass upon Irishmen living on the border of the 


Pale 3 ' to the value of 4,000 (Carew MS. I., p. 300). 
These sums were rather uncertain, and the difficulty 
of collecting them was so great that in Henry VI's. 
reign the Duke of York on his appointment as Lord 
Lieutenant was to have all the King's revenues there 
and 4,000 marks yearly for England. When the 
Brotherhood of St. George was instituted by 14. 
Edward IV. a subsidy of poundage on all exports 
and imports the hides and goods of freemen of 
Dublin and Drogheda excepted was granted to pay 
the standing army of 200 men, of whom 120 were 
mounted archers, at 6d. per diem ; 40 were horsemen 
at 5d., and the rest at a lower rate. Sir Edvcard 
Bellingham, Lord Justice in Edward VTs. reign, the 
first Deputy to extend the borders of the Pale by 
breaking the power of the Moores and O'Connors 
and building the forts of Leix and OfFaly, had but 
600 horse and 400 foot, whose pay amounted to 
1,2 1 6 per month. In those years, at any rate, the 
Irish taxes and revenues were spent on Irish concerns 
if the upkeep of the army may be considered so 
and were miserably deficient for the purpose. The 
slenderness of the means placed at their disposal is an 
excuse for the almost proverbial rapacity of the lieu- 
tenant and their deputies at which the English 
Government winked. We are strongly reminded of 
the publicani under the Roman Empire, whose extor- 
tions were connived at, provided they did not commit 
the Empire in any way, by the story of the doings of 
the English officials almost from their first appearance 
in the land. 

Of this rapacity, a few instances will now be given 
Henry Marleburrough informs us in his Chronicle 



that Lord Thomas of Lancaster, the Lord Lieutenant, 
landed at Carlingford in 1406, and was received in 
Dublin by the Earl of Kildare, one of the Lord 
Justices, whom he had arrested and detained in the 
Castle of Dublin till "he had paid three hundred 
markes fine." The unhappy Earl, whose colleague, 
strange to say, was James, Earl of Ormonde, in the 
meantime " lost all his goods, being spoiled and 
rifled by the Lord Lieutenant and his servants." 
Shortly after this action, which reminds one of the 
exploits of the modern bushranger, this royal gover- 
nor was wounded in a skirmish at Kilmainham, and 
returned to England, leaving as deputy in his place 
the warlike William de Botiller, Prior of Kilmainham. 
The same chronicler also states that in 1419, on the 
festival of Mary Magdalene, the Lord Lieutenant, 
John Talbot, went over to England, leaving as his 
deputy Richard Talbot, the Archbishop of Dublin, 
and carrying with him the curses of many " because 
hee being runne much in debt for victuall and divers 
other things would pay for little or nothing." In the 
Parliament that met in November, 1420, " were 
reckoned up the debts of the Lord John Talbot, which 
amounted to a great summe." Spenser comments on 
the rapacity of the governor and his official. He 
requests " that no offices should be sold by the Lord 
Deputy for money, nor no protections brought for 
reward, nor no beeves taken for captaincies of coun- 
ties, nor no shares of bishoprics, nor no selling of 
licences for exportation of prohibited goods and 
specially corn and flesh." Afcontemporary of Spenser, 
Richard Boyle, a young gentleman who first landed 
at Dublin in 1588 with but twenty-seven pounds and 


three shillings in his pocket and two changes of 
raiment, a rapier, dagger and taffety doublet was 
made Earl of Cork in 1620, and left vast estates 
behind him. However, he may have been a fortunate 
speculator, as many of the English immigrants were 
more lucky and more provident than the old inhabi- 
tants of the county. It was to him that Sir Walter 
Raleigh sold his house and estates in Youghal in 
order to provide himself with ships to attack the 
Spaniards, and it was he who quarrelled with 
Laud and Strafford over the removal of a family 
monument from the east wall of the choir, where the 
altar used to be, of S. Patrick's Cathedral. 

To go back some centuries, we find Sir Ralph 
Ufford, Lord Deputy in 1344, acting in the most 
unknightly manner towards the Earl of Desmond, of 
whose castles at Castleisland and Iniskisty in Kerry 
he got possession by treachery, and hanged the 
Knights, Sir Eustace De La Poer, Sir William Grant, 
and Sir John Cottrel. Camden gives a vivid picture 
of this ruffian, " at whose death the common sort truly 
and heartily praised the only Son of God." " Being 
dead, he was folded fast in a sheet in a coffin of lead 
to be interred in England and with his treasure not 
worthy to be bestowed with such holy relics " the 
historian sarcastically remarks " his countess (the 
widow of the Earl of Ulster) in horrible grief of heart 
went over to England ; and she, who at her coming 
had entered the city of Dublin so gloriously with the 
King's arms and ensigns, attended by a numerous 
guard of soldiers, and a long train in her procession 
through the streets ; for a short period living in royal 
state as Queen of Ireland, was now, at her going forth 


from the same city obliged to pass stealthily through 
a postern gate of the castle to avoid the clamour of 
the common people calling upon her to discharge her 
debts." How that noble but rather dishonest dame 
must have sadly meditated upon the unstability of 
human greatness as she departed in disguise 
from Dublin on the 2nd of May, 1346, taking 
her money for greater security in her husband's 
coffin ! 

Another Lord Deputy, Sir Stephen Scrope, who 
held office in 1401 and again in 1406, was converted 
by his wife who was not " a miserable sott " like 
Lady Ufford, from being a character like Ufford into 
a gentleman and a popular governor to boot. 
Campion tells us that his wife, hearing of his miscon- 
duct and extortion in Ireland, declared she would in 
no wise assent to live in his company there unless he 
swore a solemn oath on the Bible that willingly he 
should wrong no Christian creature in the land, but 
that duly and truly he should see payment made for 
all expenses. This oath was faithfully kept by the 
Deputy who " recovered a good opinion, schooled his 
caters, enriched the country, continued a plentifull 
house, remissions of great fines, pardons of lands and 
lives he granted so charitably and discreetly that his 
name was never uttered among them, without many 
blessings and prayers." Lady Scrope's example 
illustrates both the influence of a good wife and also 
the misconduct of which a Lord Deputy could be 
guilty with impunity in those days of misrule in the 
English Pale. 

When speaking of these distinguished Governors of 
Ireland we may not omit the name of Prince John, 


Lord of Ireland (1185). Campion gives an interesting 
account of the loyal and handsome manner in which 
the boy-governor, who was accompanied on this 
occasion by the celebrated Giraldus Cambrensis, was 
received by the Kings of Thomond, Desmond and 
Connaught who " put themselves in the bravest 
manner they could to meete him," while they sent on 
before them to Waterford Irish gentlemen with rich 
presents. " And these men as they are very kind 
hearted where they list to show obedience made unto 
the Childe their Lord the most joy and gladnesse that 
might be, and though rudely yet lovingly and after 
the custom of their country, offered to kisse him, with 
such familiarity, as they used towards their Princes at 
home." But the result was contrary to their expecta- 
tions. For, instead of receiving a gracious acknow- 
ledgment of their homage, they were thrust rudely 
back by two of the Norman Guard," " pick thankes," 
who " shooke and tore the clownes by the glibs and 
beards unmannerly and churlishly thrust them out of 
the presence." This was a grievous insult which is 
even more graphically described in Hanmer's account, 
which is taken from Giraldus Cambrensis, who was 
present. He says, " one made courtesie, another 
kneeled, some tooke him by the hand, other some 
offer to kisse him. The new gallants and Normans 
set them at nought, laughed at their mantles and 
trooses (trousers), derided their glibbes and long 
beards, one takes a sticke and pats the Irishman on 
the pate, another halls the mantle and pricks him 
behinde with a pinne, some have their glibbes and 
long beards pulled and departing have flappes on the 
Hppes, thumps on their neckes, and the doores clapt 


on their heeles with divers other abuses and undis- 
ereet entertainment." 

Camden's description of the dress affected by the 
better class of Irishmen at the time may help to 
explain the indignation of the Irish chieftains at such 
treatment : " The hair of their head they wear long, 
and nothing set they greater store by than the glibbes 
or tresse of their haires ; and to have the same plucked 
or twitched they take it for a contumelious indignitee. 
They use linen shirts, and these, verilie, exceeding 
large, with wide sleeves, and hanging side down to the 
very knees, which (shirts) they wont to stain with 
saffron, Little jackets they have of woollen, and those 
very short ; breeches most plain and tight ; over these 
they cast their mantles, with a drape fringed purple, 
and the same daintly set out with sundrie colours, 
within which they lappe themselves in the night and 
sweetly sleep on the very ground. Such also do the 
women cast over the side garment that they wear 
down to the foot." 

Greatly incensed by the indignities they had 
suffered at the hands of this Norman Rehoboam and 
his satellites whom Giraldus describes as "great 
talkers, boasters and swearers, very proud, and 
despisers of others, very forward to claim position, 
profit and honour, but very backward to undertake 
any dangerous service," the Irish envoys went back 
to the kings " turned them home with great oathes 
and leagues" from "a Boy peevish and insolent, 
governed by a sort of flatterers, younglings and 
prowlers." " The entertainment," however, was not 
altogether one-sided. For John and the " beardlesse 
boys " were promptly ordered back into England and 


censured by Henry II., who appointed John de Courcy 
"the strong man" of the kingdom to quell the storm 
their silly behaviour had raised. John did not forget 
the lesson. For when he returned in 1210 the year 
after the notable massacre of the Dublin holiday party 
in Cullenswood by the O'Birnes and OTooles of 
Wicklow on Black Monday he treated the Irish 
chiefs with greater respect, reformed the coinage and 
appointed twelve English shires with sheriffs to rule 
over them, and when he went to war with France in 
1213 was supported by an Irish regiment of 300 men. 
In the 1 2th year of his reign both the Benches and 
the Exchequer Court were erected (Sir John Davis), 
and there are great keeps at Nenagh, Limerick, and 
Roscrea. said to have been erected in his reign. 

As a general rule the lieutenants and their deputies 
did nothing, according to the English Chronicler, but 
extort money from the English and Irish aristocracy, 
" make great preyes upon the neighbouring Irish," 
receive grants from Parliament, run heavily into debt, 
and carry home with them the curses of the plundered 
merchants of Dublin. In consequence of these extor- 
tions the colonists had begun to leave the country in 
great numbers, but in 1353 they were checked for a 
time by a royal proclamation forbidding the departure 
of any ecclesiastic, noble or able-bodied man from the 
shores of Ireland. In 1356 a royal order was issued 
that no one born in Ireland should thenceforth hold a 
command in any of the King's castles or towns. A 
brilliant scheme was this for the encouragement of the 
English colonists ! They were compelled by law to 
remain in Ireland in order to defend the territory of 
the English King from the inroads of the Irish and 


to provide the English-born deputy with a suitable 
field for his embezzlements; and at the same time 
because of their having been born in Ireland they 
were treated as " Irish rebels," unfit to hold the 
smallest office or post in connexion with the Saxon 
Government. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at 
that many Anglo-Norman houses withdrew from their 
allegiance to England, adopted Irish ideas, and pro- 
moted the policy of " Ireland for the Irish." Among 
those who had been converted to the new policy by 
the injustice and tyranny of the English officials were 
the Le Peers, one of whom had been infamously 
hanged by Sir Ralph Ufford, the Lord Justice (1344), 
the St. Aubyns, De Roches, and the De Cantillons. 

In 1361 Lionel Duke of Clarence came over as Lord 
Lieutenant to save the situation, but only made 
matters worse than before. Opening his campaign 
with a well-equipped English army he made no efforts 
to conciliate those who were still wavering between 
their allegiance to the King of England and their love 
for their native land, but estranged them still more by 
his proclamation forbidding any English colonist to 
join his army or approach his camp. But his cam- 
paign was not crowned with many laurels. And he 
withdrew to England when he found the subjugation 
of Ireland a hopeless task. On his return in 1367 he 
held the parliament in Kilkenny which passed the 
celebrated statute by which an undisguised effort was 
made to drive a permanent wedge between the still 
loyal English of the Pale, the " degenerate " English 
throughout the country who had been obliged by 
circumstances to adopt the native customs and the 
native Irish themselves. By the provisions of the 


historic enactment every connexion between the 
English of the Pale and the Celts, such as gossipred, 
fosterage, and intermarriage, was made illegal, and 
sale and barter between the two races in time of war 
was denounced as felony. The wearing of Irish 
garments, the use of the Irish language, the submission 
to Brehon laws, by which every penalty was com- 
muted to a fine, the giving of coyne and livery, or food 
and fodder to soldiers billeted upon them, the riding 
without a saddle, the keeping of " kerns, hoblers or 
idle men" by the English subjects, were strictly 
prohibited. Irishmen were also debarred from enter- 
ing English monasteries and Irish bards from English 

The framers of this statute not only desired to 
separate the English subjects from the " rebel " and 
native Irish by a barrier that no man might cross ; 
they also wished to remove all occasions of hostility 
between the two nations. To this end they enacted 
that on the one hand the cattle of Irish people 
pastured on English lands without consent of the 
owner should be impounded until compensation should 
be made, but on the other hand, that cattle so 
impounded should be kept safely for their owners 
under heavy penalties; and that the Irish should 
receive due notice of the new regulation. They also 
declared that in the case of a debt the creditor, 
whether English or Irish could not make the family 
or tribe of the debtor responsible for the debt. For 
it was a feature of the Brehon law that the whole sept 
could be made liable for the eric or debt incurred by 
a single member. They also ordered that " no differ- 
ence of allegiance shall henceforth be made between 


the English born in Ireland and the English born in 
England, by calling them English hobbe or Irish dog, 
but that all be called by one name, the English lieges 
of our lord the King." Those who persisted in calling 
these names were to be imprisoned for a year and 
afterwards fined. 

Those regulations were strict but not harsh. Fair 
play was intended for all. But the English and Irish 
in Ireland were henceforth to be treated not as one 
nation but as two distinct peoples. And while the 
English subjects of the Pale were prohibited from all 
friendly intercourse with the Irish, they were also de- 
barred from every hostile encroachment, by section 26, 
which ordained that if any peace or truce made by the 
justices or sheriff " between English and Irish shall 
be broken by any English and thereof be attainted, 
he shall be taken and put in prison until satisfaction 
be made by him to those who shall be disturbed or 
injured by that occasion, and he shall moreover make 
fine at the King's will." 

The English Government had apparently abandoned 
the hope of anglicising the Irish and recovering the 
degenerate English, and now directed its efforts to 
check the steadily advancing de-anglicisation of the 
English settlers, and to shepherd, after the hireling 
fashion, the few loyal sheep in the wilderness. This 
measure, a wise one for the time, had there been a 
sufficient executive to support it, was followed by an 
order (1368) for the return of absentee landlords under 
pain of forfeiture of their lands. Had the Govern- 
ment nursed its own subjects more kindly, or main- 
tained them more loyally, there would have been no 
need for any such edict. But owing to the indifference 


of the people in England, and the injustice of the 
English governors in Ireland, life in the English Pale 
had become intolerable. Reduced to pauperism by 
legal taxation and illegal embezzlement, depleted by 
constant conscriptions, worn out by perpetual cam- 
paigns, insulted and harassed by the officials who em- 
ployed their temporary banishment from the English 
court like the publicani of evil fame, so that "an 
officer of the king who enters very poor could in one 
year heap up more wealth than men of great estates 
in many," the English of the Pale were sorely tempted 
either to return to England, or to join the ranks of their 
countrymen who were stigmatised as " Irish rebels." 
Richard II., who is not conspicuous for aught save 
magnificent conceptions, struck the nail on the head 
when he wrote regarding the English who had become 
de-anglicised by English misrule " To us and to our 
council it appears that the Irish rebels have rebelled 
in consequence of the injustice and grievances prac- 
tised towards them, for which they have been afforded 
no redress ; and that if not wisely treated and given 
hope of grace, they will most likely ally themselves 
with our enemies." 

In the meantime the Irish tribes were regaining 
lost ground and assuming the aggressive. Acting in- 
dependently of each other, the tribes made the work 
of their subjugation a matter beyond the range of 
practical politics. The various English colonists had 
to cope with the tribes in their vicinity, but the Eng- 
lish Government had to settle with the tribes in rota- 
tion. In the course of time they were compelled to 
buy off their hostility ; but before they were reduced 
to such straits they made some attempt to keep them 


in their place. This was by no means easy when 
there was no military executive or police to patrol the 
country ; and when the forts and castles of the previous 
settlers had been destroyed and the settlers themselves 
dispersed. Out .of their hiding places in the bogs and 
hills the O'Connors and O'Carrolls and the O'Byrnes 
and O'Tooles came with great numbers and courage. 
And in 1368, the very year after the Statute of Kil- 
kenny had been passed, the Irish Parliament made a 
strong but ineffectual appeal to King Edward III. to 
help them, stating that the Irish with his other enemies 
and rebels, continued to ride over the country in hos- 
tile array, slaying those who opposed them, despoiling 
the monasteries, churches, castles, towns, and fortresses 
of the English without reverence for God or Holy 
Church " to the great shame and disherison of 
His Majesty." At this juncture (1371), De Cotton, 
the warlike Dean of S. Patrick's, raised a strong body 
of men and marched against the O'Byrnes, who had 
made a descent upon Carrick-imayne, and when 
Newcastle-MacKinegan, on the Wicklow frontier, was 
threatened, and none of the English officers would 
undertake its defence, marched to its assistance, and 
held the castle for five days with thirty-six men, for 
whose keep he had pawned his own goods. 

But the Government would do nothing. They not 
only left the defence of the king's dominions to indi- 
viduals like Dean de Cotton, and other warlike 
ecclesiastics like Thomas Canley, Archbishop of Dub- 
lin and Lord Justice (1414), who defeated the O'Moores 
and O'Dempseys near Kilka. " Praying in procession 
with clergy and his men ... he slew one hundred 
of the Irish enemies," and Richard Talbot, Archbishop 


of Dublin, who, in 1419, "being Lord Deputy made 
an assault upon Scotties, and slue thirty of the Irish 
neere unto Rodiston " (Marleburrough's Chonicle) t 
but they attempted to violate the constitutional 
liberties of the colony. In the Parliament assembled 
at Kilkenny, 1374, the Lord Lieutenant, Sir William 
de Windsor, announced that the king, in consequence 
of the expenditure required for foreign affairs, was no 
longer able to defray the expenses of maintaining 
soldiers for the defence of his territory in Ireland ; and 
Sir Nicholas Dagworth, on behalf of the Crown, de- 
manded a contribution from the prelates, lords and 
commons, there assembled, for that purpose. As they 
declined, the viceroy issued writs requiring them to 
elect representatives to be sent at their own expense 
to England to confer upon the matter with the king. 
A strong protest against the violation of their rights 
and privileges was made by the clergy, nobles and 
commons of the Pale, the ecclesiastics stating bluntly 
" we do not grant by any means to the represen- 
tatives we have elected any power of assenting to 
burthens or taxes to be imposed on us or our clergy, 
to which we cannot yield by reason of our poverty and 
daily expense in defending the land against the Irish" 
But while they were engaged in wordy warfare in 
Kilkenny, the Irish " enemies " and " rebels " poured 
like the " Harpies " of Virgilian fame upon their lands. 
The Wicklow tribes, the O'Byrnes and OTooles, 
attacked Newcastle and dismantled it, and cut off Wick- 
low from the English lines. Limerick was assailed by 
the O'Briens ; Youghal by the De Roches ; Art 
MacMurrough Kavanagh after raiding and slaying 
all over the counties of Kilkenny, Carlow, and Kildare 


was bought off by the sum of eighty marks, while 
Murrough O'Brien received a hundred to withdraw 
from Leinster. At this time there was the magnificent 
sum of nine marks in the Irish treasury. The balance 
was made up by the following subscriptions and levies 
"From the Prior of the Hospitallers, sixteen marks; 
from William FitzWilliam, a horse price twenty marks ; 
from Robert Lughteburgh, a horse price twenty marks ; 
from John More, a bed, price thirty shillings ; from 
Sir Patrick and Robert de la Freyne, seven marks 
and ten shillings." This list will give a fair idea of 
the state to which the English colony in Ireland had 
been reduced. This was the price they had to pay 
for the honour of being portion of the British 
dominions; while her wealth and strength, and the 
wealth and strength of England, had been squandered 
by the English monarch, Edward III., in a foreign 
campaign, which after thirty-five years of wonderful 
success and brilliant victories ended in shame and 
grief to his country and the breaking of the noblest 
heart of the age a sad frustration of the hopes which 
men had of the king, of whom the quaint Chronicle 
of Henry of Marleburrough says " In the beginning 
of whose reign there was great likelihood of good suc- 
cesse to follow. For then also the Earth received 
fruitfulnesse, the Ayr temperature and Sea calmnesse." 
But the picture of the Pale is not altogether one of 
unredeemed misery. It had its moments of relief and 
also of brilliance. On many occasions the intestine 
feuds of the Irish spelt safety for the English colonists. 
Under the year 1260, Hanmer states that " the Carties 
placed the Divells in Desmond," where they became 
so strong that for twelve years the Desmonds durst not 


put plough in their own country. " But at length," 
he says, " through the operation of Satan, a bane of 
discord was throwen between the Carties and 
O'Driscolls, O'Donovaies, MacDonoch, MacMahonna, 
MacSwines and the inhabitants of Muscrie (Mus- 
kerry), in so much that by their cruell dissention, they 
weakened themselves on all sides, that the Desmond 
in the end overcame and overtopped them all." An 
historic instance of the policy of allowing the Irish to 
destroy one another occurred during the civil wars of 
1278 between MacDermot de Moylargs and O'Connor 
of Connaught, when the latter king was slain. The 
Lord Justice (Sir Robert de Ufford) when called 
to account for permitting " such shamefull enormities 
under his government,'' replied that "in policie he 
thought it expedient to winke at one knave cutting off 
another, and that he would save the king's coffers and 
purchase peace to the land ; whereat the king smiled." 
(Hanmer, p. 107.) 

It is also but bare justice to Ireland to point out 
that on many an occasion forces from Ireland, Norman 
and native, released English troops from a difficult 
position. When Henry III. took the reins of 
authority into his own hand, and began to give the 
world a specimen of misgovernment, he made an ex- 
pedition in 1245 against David ap Llewelin, Prince of 
Wales ; but was completely foiled by him, and his 
army was surrounded and reduced to great straits, as 
Powell, a writer cited by Hanmer, informs us. In the 
meantime some ships from Ireland and Chester brought 
victuals to the camp. But it was to Ireland that 
Henry looked for aid. As the authority quoted wrote 
"the king all this while expected the arrival of 


Maurice Fitz Gerald (the Lord Justice) with his Irish 
forces, mused with himselfe, fretted with himselfe, 
the wind serving and yet said nothing ; at length the 
Irish sayles are descryd, a shore they come, and 
Maurice Fitz Gerald together with Phelim O' Conor 
in battle array present themselves before the king." 
The result was that the Welshmen were overthrown, 
and the English troops, with the assistance of the Irish, 
were victorious. Another time also in his Welsh wars, 
being hard pressed, Henry III. sent to Ireland for 
succour and did not ask in vain. Hanmer's Chronicle 
(p. 378) relates this incident also. 

But such moments of brightness were few and far 
between. The horizon was black with gathering 
clouds ; and storms continued to break forth upon the 
unhappy Pale, bound hand and foot on the altar of 
self-renunciation by the two lines of policy, government 
by corrupt officials and " no Irish need apply." x 

J In the Compositio realis (1514) between the Archbishop of Dublin 
and the Dean and Chapter of S. Patrick's we find the same principle 
laid down "the ancient custom of this Church is confirmed and 
ratified that all Irishmen by blood and nation, and all who conform to 
them in mode of life, are shut out from being members of this cathe- 
dral." The same policy continued in the Church of Ireland until 
Archbishop Whateley's time, all the best appointments being reserved 
for Englishmen. 


BEFORE the Reformation both Church and people 
were in an evil case. The reports of the visitations, 
preserved in Theiner's monumental work, of the various 
Sees in Ireland, as they became vacant from time to 
time, are not pleasant reading. The famous church 
of Clonmacnoise, where S. Columkille was received 
with great honour by the pupils of S. Kiaran more 
than 900 years before, is described in 1515 as " almost 
ruined, unroofed, with one altar and only covered with 
straw. . . . Here Mass is seldom celebrated." 
The town itself is described as consisting of " scarcely 
twelve cabins built of wicker work and mud, close to 
which flows a river styled in the language of the in- 
habitants, Sinin." In the church itself was " the body 
of an Irish saint, of whose name the writer is ignorant.' 
So perished the glory of the Divinity School of the 
Church of Ireland in the west, and the name of its 
illustrious founder, S. Kiaran Macantsoir,or MacEntire, 
the son of the carpenter, generally known as S. Kiaran 
the younger. The see is said to be worth " thirty 
ducats, at which sum it is assessed in the Books of 
the Camera. The proceeds are derived from barley 
and oats." This would be about 15, if the ducats 
were gold. In the Inquisitio, 38, Henry VIII. (1547), 
the prebend of Wicklow is described as worth " com- 
munibus annis xlvil, xiiis, ivd." This was quite a 
large income, as the archdeaconry of Glendalough 
had been valued at 10 marks (7) in the Pope's 



valuation of 1306, but at 100 marks (70) in the king's 
visitation of 1615. But the ordinary income was " nil" 
the usual entries being " nil propt. guerr.," " nil quia 
vasta." The report of the town (civitas) of Ardagh, 
to which see Henry VIII., appointed Roger O'Moleyn 
in 1517 presents a similar picture of decay. The 
civitas is described as " in spiritualities subject to the 
Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of all Ireland, in 
temporalities subject to the king of England." It is 
in the island of Hibernia, "called by the barbarians 
Irlandia. The part of it nearer to England is more 
civilised, but the rest is wild. A large number of the 
inhabitants even live with the cattle in the fields and in 
caves. Few wear shoes and almost all subsist on 
plunder. The land itself produces nothing but oats 
and horses, both excellent and victorious, being more 
swift than the English ones, the lighter in colour, 
having the easier motion." 

The report of this visitation of Ardagh, which is 
found in Theiner's Vetera Monnmenta, p. 5 21, states 
that the cathedral church had but one altar and that 
exposed to the air, and that it was served by only one 
priest who seldom officiated at Mass ; that it was 
without sacristy, bell-tower and bell, and sustained 
scarcely the necessary equipment for one Mass. The 
town contained but four cabins and very few in- 
habitants on account of their constant feuds with their 
neighbours, who would not allow a certain Bishop 
William to exercise any temporal authority over them 
and destroyed the town. Even St. Patrick's cathedral 
was no exception. We read that in 1474 that " the 
divine service of God is daily withdrawn," and that no 
espers were said on St. Patrick's eve. 


Indeed, all the documents, public and private, that 
have come down to us from those days, reveal a con- 
dition of society deplorable in the extreme. Lawless- 
ness, rapine, murder and perpetual warfare made our 
unhappy island a den of furies. The Scotch mer- 
cenaries who passed over into the north, to settle and 
to offer their services to the various chiefs who hap- 
pened to be at war, added fresh fuel to the flames that 
were extinguishing whatever hopes of peace and pros- 
perity were fostered in Irish hearts. Of these a 
detachment was cut to pieces by Shane O'Neill to 
please Queen Elizabeth the rashest act he ever per- 
petrated. For at Clandeboy the Scots under Alexander 
Oge (or Young) and MacGilly Asspuke took a terrible 
revenge (1567). Few of the English justices cared 
for these things. One of them, Lord Justice Arnold, 
grimly informed Lord Cecil, who was much shocked, 
that he acted " with the Irish as with bears and ban- 
dogs, so that he saw them fight earnestly, and hug 
each other well, he cared not who had the worst." 
At times even the Government seemed to encourage 
these feuds, not that any great encouragement was 
required. For we find the Archbishop of Dublin in- 
structed in 1520 to establish concord between the Earl 
of Desmond and Sir Piers Butler, also to enfeeble and 
weaken the strength of the native Irish " as well by 
getting their captains from them as by putting division 
among them, so they join not together." 

But the unhappiest of all the inhabitants of Erin, 
if we except the English subjects of the Pale whose 
condition beggars description, were the tenants on the 
estates of the great Norman barons, who had become 
more or less Irish in the course of time. These 
noblemen, for all their Irish pretensions, treated their 


tenants with the hauteur of the Norman and the 
cruelty of the Celt. Subject to all the impositions the 
feudal lords exacted from their tenants, and to the sup- 
port the Celtic chieftain demanded of his tribesmen, 
these unhappy people, who were principally Celts, 
were ground down to the earth, and their wrongs had 
no redress in a court presided over by their tyrant, 
who cared neither for British nor Brehon law. And 
in the King's Courts which sat in Dublin there was 
even less chance of fair play for these unfortunates. 
For these courts, presided over by English officials, 
were notoriously corrupt and practised extortion on 
all who placed themselves in their power, surpassing 
in corruption even the infamous Chancery Court of 
last century, and compelling the tenants to sell their 
land and freeholds rather than " be under the said ex- 
tortion." 1 And before they could enter these "cities 
of refuge," the tenants had to run the gauntlet of their 
own masters, who had, as Archbishop Allen wrote to 
Cromwell, made laws among themselves, " that who- 
soever under any of their rules pursue any action at 
the king's law shall forfeit five marks." The Royal 
Commission held in 1537, like other Commissions, 
did nothing save bringing to light many of these un- 
just impositions. But the condition of the Pale was 
the worst of all. The forms of exaction and extortion 
to which its inhabitants were subjected were legion. 
These are detailed at length in the document sent 
from the council in 1533 to the Master of the Rolls, 
which led to the arrest of the Earl of Kildare in the 
following year. The document mentions, in addition 

1 State Papers, Henry VIII. Vol. II., pt. 3, p. 9. 


to coyne and livery, " cuddies, gartie, taking of caanes 
for felonies, murders and all other offences, alterages, 
biengis, saulties and slaughteaghes." 

Another document, twenty years earlier, mentions 
" carting, carriages, journies, and other impositions for 
hosting and journies and woful war." Moreover black 
rents and tributes were wrung from the unhappy people 
for the payment of the Irish enemies. And yet when 
their property, taken by these enemies, was recovered 
by the king's forces, maintained on cesses levied on 
the Pale, the Deputies kept it for their own use, in 
vulgar parlance, purloined it. Campion tells us that 
it was James, Earl of Desmond, and his son, Thomas, 
Deputy in 1463, who put upon the " king's subjects 
within the counties of Waterford, Corke, Kerry, and 
Limericke the Irish impositions of coyne and liverie, 
carting, carriages, loadings, cosherings, bonnaght and 
such like." He describes these customs as " the very 
nurse and teat of all Irish enormities/' and denounces 
the everlasting cess wrung from the poor tenants by 
the Deputy and his gallowglasses, who " eat out the 
farmers, beggar the country, and foster a sort of idle 
vagabonds ready to rebell if their lord command them, 
ever nusseled in stealth and robbery es." 

This was a precedent, evil but rapidly learnt, and in 
consequence the king's subjects in the south and in 
the Pale lived in extreme poverty and debt. Patrick 
Finglas, Baron of the Exchequer, 1515, says " There 
is not eight of the lords, knights, esquires, and gentle- 
men of the four shires but be in debt and their land be 
made waste, and without brief remedy be had, they 
must sell their lands and go to some other land," while 
a letter from a Mr. Deythyke, of Dublin, dated 3rd 


Sept. 1533, reveals an equally hopeless state of affairs 
in the city. In it he speaks of the prolonged fasting 
from flesh in the city, where he hopes many saints 
may be found. But this fasting, he slyly remarks, is 
not a work of supererogation but a case of the fox, " say 
of hens when he could not reach them," for " all the 
butchers of Dublin hath no so much meat to sell as 
would make one mess of brawes ; so as they use white 
meat in Dublin, except it be in my Lord of Dublin's 
house, or such as have of their own provision." The 
next famine in Dublin was owing not to the scarcity 
of stock in the county, but to the constant robberies 
of cattle at night, and the restless state of the country 
which made it dangerous to go even a mile out of the 
city to buy meat. But the Deputy would not listen 
to any complaints for " the wind hath blown him so 
in the eyes that he cannot hear them ! " This is an 
instance, we presume, of " the Irish bull." The rob- 
beries this poor gentleman describes must have been 
of an alarming nature. " There hath been," he states, 
" five or six preys taken out of St. Thomas within 
this ten days, so that one butcher for his part hath 
lost 220 kine." The result was that "the poor 
butchers lie remediless and have closed their shops, and 
have taken to making of prekes (prayers), thinking there 
is a new Lent." The great ordnance for the Govern- 
ment of Ireland in 1534 prohibits a great number of 
these impositions. We learn from this document that 
different lords and gentlemen within the four shires 
were wont to compel their tenants and adherents to 
give them night suppers, which went by the euphonious 
name of cuddies, and that these self-invited guests 
brought with them as many others as they could, to 


the great oppression of their own tenants and the dis- 
turbance of the King's subjects for a great number of 
miles round in whose stables they put up their horses 
and grooms, 

They were also in the habit of taking " a peck of oats 
of every plough in seed time, called the great horse's 
peck " ; and when the King's Deputy or any other 
lord came to visit them, they added the expenses of 
entertainment to the rent of their tenants. These 
great lords and captains also compelled the King's 
subjects to send their own carts and men to draw stuff 
to their own buildings, and labour there at their own 
charges, and by personal threats wrung gifts of money, 
cattle and horse, called bienges, from the King's sub- 
jects in the march or frontier. 

The Lord Deputy's Book of 1537 declares that 
" there is no march borderer, lord, knight, esquire or 
gentleman but hath more thieves belonging to him 
than true men." Such ruffians were allowed to rob 
and spoil the King's subjects, and were protected from 
punishment by their masters. The lords marchers, 
who were paid for the defence of the King's subjects, 
also permitted the neighbouring Irish septs to plun- 
der the lands of the smaller gentry and farmers, on the 
understanding that theirs should not be touched. And 
if they desired to possess any man's freehold, they 
suffered, which means encouraged, the Irish to raid 
that freeholder's property and drive his cattle, until 
the unhappy man was forced to sell his freehold to 
them on their own terms. Moreover, these poor free- 
holders had not only to pay for the lord's protection, 
which was generally of the nature described ; they had 
also to defray the expenses of any guests he chose to 


entertain, and to keep his gallowglasses, servants and 
horses, for as his report says : " the greatest captain 
of the English borders will keep no horse or boy in his 
own house for the most part." They were also sub- 
ject to the insolence of the lord's sons and the out- 
rages of his servant without hope of redress. For, 
should any of these be accused of stealing, and arrested, 
they were at once released on payment of a fine, 
which went, not to the plaintiff, but to their master, 
so that the latter was interested in encouraging the 
misconduct of his own people. 

The tenants of the Pale could not even call their 
own houses, much less their own souls their own. 
They could not sell a pig or a cow without paying a 
fine to the tyrant, who took from them everything he 
required at his own price, frequently a " song." A 
favourite practice was the regrating of provisions. The 
lord, with his followers, would come to the market and 
buy up everything, wood and coal and provision, and 
sell them again at his own price. They erected weirs 
on the rivers, committed riots, made penal laws, 
neglected their own children, wore the Irish dress, 
spoke the Irish language, and frequently took the 
holdings from an English occupier and gave them to 
native peasants. In consequence of their lawlessness 
the greater portion of the land was uncultivated and the 
pastures were not stocked. For the gentry were 
crushed as well as the tenantry by the lords, who acted 
as absolute monarchs of all they surveyed, worried the 
Deputies, and gave many an anxious hour to the king 
and his council who, in addition to perpetual unrest, 
had to endure heavy financial loss yearly in the up- 
keep of the little army in Ireland. The only policy 


that paid then, as now, was that of the Irishman who, 
when asked his politics in the United States, said : " I 
am always agin the Government." So we find Sir 
Gerard Shaneson, writing to Sir Thomas Fitzgerald : 
" What, thou fool ! thou shalt be more esteemed in 
Ireland to take part against the king ; for what hadst 
thou been if thy father had not done so ? What was 
he set by until he crowned a king (Lambert Simnel) 
here ; took Garthe, the king's captain, prisoner ; 
hanged his son ; resisted Poyning and all Deputies ; 
killed them of Dublin upon Oxmantown Green ; 
would suffer no man to rule here for the king but him- 
self ? Then the king regarded him, made him De- 
puty, and married thy mother to him. Or else thou 
never should have had a foot of land, where now thou 
mayst despend 400 marks by the year." 

What offended the English most of all was the 
adoption of the Brehon law and its system of eric, or 
compensation for injury fatal and otherwise to property 
and person. It was with the greatest difficulty that 
the sheriffs put down the Brehon law in the shire land. 
The story is told that when Sir William Fitzwilliams 
informed the Maguire that he was sending a sheriff 
into Fermanagh, which had been made a county, 
Maguire replied, " Your sheriff shall be welcome to 
me ; but let me know his ericke or the price of his 
head, aforehand^ that if my people cut it off, I may 
put the ericke upon the country." 1 

Under the Geraldines the condition of the king's 
subjects of the Pale naturally became worse than ever. 
Coin and livery were exacted for their ever increasing 

State Papers. Henry VIII. Vol II., 3, 174. 


band of hired assassins gallowglasses and and kerne 
from the unfortunate English, who were eaten up 
"as it were bread." The captain of the marches and 
his kinsmen, called the Welshmen, in addition to " coin 
and foys," or horse meat and man's meat, took cer- 
tain quarterly payments called Byerahe, as Justice 
Suttrell states, often amounted to 133. 4d. from the 

We find the wives of these great lords as tyrannical 
as themselves. We read in the letter of Patrick 
Finglas that " the deputies' wives go to cuddies and 
put coyne and livery in all places at their pleasure and 
do stir up great war." These grand dames levied 
all manner of impositions upon their unfortunate 
tenants. Of these, Lady Poer of Waterford bore an 
unenviable reputation. When the Deputy or any 
visitor of importance stayed at her castle, she made 
her tenants give mertyeght or a contribution towards 
the expense of meat and drink and candles for her 
guests. In cases of litigation she demanded two 
shillings in the pound, as her fee from both plaintiff and 
defendant, after the manner of the Irish Brehon, and 
perhaps in emulation of the Milesian princess, who is 
described by Caesar Otway as taking on herself the 
office of Brehon, and from the Moate Granoge, or 
Moat of Little Grace, now known simply as Moate in 
Westmeath, "adjudicating causes and delivering her 
oral laws to the people." If a tenant had his cow or 
horse stolen, he was required to pay a fine of five 
marks for his negligence. If he refused to obey her 
sergeant, he was promptly fined, and if one declined 
to give coin and livery he had to pay an additional 
fine called kyntroisk. And she not only required 


coin and livery for her own boys and horses, but also 
for her guests, both English and Irish, chiefly at 
Easter and Christmas, which became the most miser- 
able instead of the most blessed periods of the year 
for the tenant. When her daughters were married a 
dowry of sheep and of cattle was "lifted" by her 
ladyship from her farmers and villagers, and she made 
her journeys to Dublin and England at the expense 
of her tenants. 

But it is hardly fair to the Irish gentry to regard 
the degraded Earl of Desmond as a representative 
either of Irish gentry or nobility. Hooker describes 
him much in the same way as General Cronje might 
have been described by a British officer. " This earl," 
he writes, " was very rude both in gesture and apparel, 
having for want of nurture, as much good manners as 
his kerne and followers could teach him." The Deputy, 
Sir William Bellingham, brought this uncivilized 
nobleman to his house and then undertook a task 
worthy of Hercules to " instruct, advise and inform " 
his unwilling guest. He is said to have made a new 
man of him by literally bringing the earl to his knees, 
for he ordered him " to kneel upon his knees sometimes 
an hour together before he knew his duty." This 
degenerate peer had, however, lost English civilization 
without acquiring Irish. For there was an Irish culture 
still extant which was not indifferent to art and litera- 
ture, and often indulged in the sweet luxury of thought 
and poesy and music. We can hardly believe that 
the O'Connors, who built their stately castle at Dain- 
gean in 1537, or the O'Donnells, who lived also in their 
Elizabethan mansion in Donegal, lived like savages 
and drank like Bohemians, while the country gentlemen 


of England were studying the lessons of chivalry in 
the writings of Malory and Spenser. With regard 
to the condition of the masses the opinion of the 
Irish Council of 1533 may be cited, which was to 
the effect that " if there were justice used among them, 
they would be found as civil, wise and polite, and as 
active as any other nation." While with regard to 
the other classes James Stanihurst, the Speaker, as 
Campion writes, said in the Irish House of Parliament 
in 1570, before Trinity College was founded, "In 
mine experience who have not yet seen much more 
than forty years, I am able to say that our realm is 
at this day an half deal more civil than it was since 
noble men and worshipful with others of ability have 
used to send their sons into England to the law, to 
universities, or to schools." The Speaker referred also 
in his speech to the project of a university which had 
been shelved for the time, and moved " the erecting 
of grammar schools within every diocese." 

An interesting letter from Sir John Harrington, 
one of the attendants of the Earl of Essex in his 
unhappy expedition to Ireland (1599), describes the 
northern Earl O'Neill and his sons, and whom he met 
at Carlingford. The O'Neill behaved himself remark- 
ably well, excusing his own hard manner of life and 
comparing himself to the wolves. The writer says it 
were needless to describe " The O'Neill's fern table 
and fern forms spread under the stately canopy of 
heaven," and remarks, " that his guards were chiefly 
beardless boys without shirts ; who, in the frost, wade 
as familiarly through rivers as water-spaniels. With 
what charm such a master makes them love him I 
know not ; but if he bid them come, they come ; if 


he bid them go, they go ; if he says do this, they 
do it." 

The sons of this earl seem to have been nice 
intelligent boys. Sir John Harrington found " the 
two children of good towardly spirit, their age between 
thirteen and fifteen, dressed in English clothes, like 
the sons of a nobleman, with velvet jerkins and gold 
lace, of a good, cheerful aspect and freckled faces ; 
not tall of stature but strong and well-set, both of them 
speaking English." He presented them with a copy 
of an English translation of Ariosto, with which their 
father was greatly pleased and " solemnly swore his 
boys should read all the book over to him." Hugh 
O'Neill himself is said to have been very accomplished, 
and as Plowden writes : " spoke four modern languages 
with the fluency of a native." The humour of the 
earl was shown in his suggestion that when he went 
in English dress to the Viceroy's Court he should 
be attended by a chaplain in saffron robes, so that he 
might divert the attention of the English crowd from 
his master. He did not disguise his contempt for the 
de-anglicised Englishman, as in the case of Barret, 
whose convictions he regarded as a matter of con- 
venience, saying of him : " No matter, I hate the 
English churl as if he came yesterday.'' But he 
showed an open disregard for religious plundering and 
destroying churches and monasteries on his way to 
Kinsale, so that a Spanish officer exclaimed that 
" Christ did not die for the Irish," and Lord Essex 
said, " Hang thee ! thou talk of a free exercise of 
religion ! Thou carest as much for religion as my 
horse." In Camden's Elizabeth we have a sad picture 
of the fallen chief, who in 1598 defeated the English 


at the Yellow Ford (Beal-an-atha buidhe, Ballyboy), 
where, as Fynes Moryson says : " The English, from 
their first arrival in the kingdom, never had received 
so great an overthrow as this/' and who surrendered 
to Lord Mountjoy in Mellifont Abbey on the 3oth 
March, 1603, six days after Elizabeth had passed 
away. The brave nobleman, who had never rallied 
his forces since their crushing defeat at Kinsale, now 
reduced to despair, entered the presence of the 
Deputy, who failed to show the generosity and 
courtesy that gallant gentlemen always extend to the 
vanquished. It was indeed " vae victis " here, and 
yet these were the days of the Sidneys ! The defeated 
earl, in mean and shabby attire, cast himself down at 
the threshold of the door and made an abject con- 
fession of his crimes against her gracious majesty and 
most solemn promise of atonement. Moryson (ii. 179) 
gives the terms of submission, which included absolute 
surrender of all his lands and titles and renunciation 
of the King of Spain, and a promise to abstain from 
" intermeddling with the urriaghs or fostering with 
them or other neighbour lords and gentlemen outside 
my country, or exacting black rents of any urriaghs 
or bordering lords.'' The unhappy man rode into 
Dublin two days afterwards a prisoner of state to 
learn that he had surrendered all too soon. But his 
mistake was a fortunate matter for Ulster, which had 
been reduced to a desert by his rebellion. An eye- 
witness, Moryson, says, " No spectacle was 
more frequent in the ditches of the towns, 
and especially in wasted countries, than to see 
multitudes of these poor people dead with their 
mouths all coloured green by eating nettles, docks, 


and all things they could rend up above 

The one redeeming feature of the country was 
the prosperity and growth of the seaport towns. The 
quaint old town of Galway, with its interesting 
Claddagh or fishing quarter, and the Moorish gate- 
ways, and the celebrated house of Lynch, the Irish 
Brutus, was at the zenith of its fame in the reign of 
Henry VII., during which time its enterprising 
burghers, as Hardiman relates in his " History of 
Galway," "planned the cutting of a passage from 
Lough Corrib to the sea, as well as repairing their city 
after a fire, paving their streets, building an hospital, 
extending their wall and erecting quays." It is hoped 
that the same strenuous spirits of improvement may 
again become embodied in the city of the tribes. This 
and other cities on the seaboard thrived and prospered 
while the rest of the island was sunk in torpor and 
decay, simply because they were allowed to work out 
their own salvation in their own fashion without let or 
hindrance from feudal lord, Irish chieftain, or those 
harpies of the Pale the officials sent from England 
Limerick is described by William Body in 1536 as 
a " wondrous proper city and a strong and standeth 
environed with the river Shenon, 1 and it may be called 
little London for the situation and the plenty." The 
writer goes on to say that its ancient castle, still a 
formidable structure, was in " need of reparation." It 
is indeed as much a sign of its own commercial enter- 
prise and republican independence as a proof of the 
deputy's laxity and the Council's feebleness to find 

1 SionAinn (Shin-an) not Shannon, was the proper pronunciation 
Mr. Body's spelling was more accurate than ours. 


this city of the barren land, Luimneach, carrying on 
war by sea and land and concluding treaties with the 
rival city of the great marsh of Munster, Corcach-mor- 
Mumhan, now abridged to Cork, in 1520. This 
reminds one of the long and internecine struggles 
between the rival republics of the sea, Venice and 
Genoa, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 

The troubles of the inhabitants of the Pale were, 
however, mitigated in the course of time. But they 
had, like many a patient, to be worse before they could 
be better. It was in Elizabeth's reign that matters 
began to amend. To the skill and courage of the 
Dublin bands and soldiers references are made in the 
histories of the period. They assisted in punitive 
expeditions organised by Sussex and Sidney against 
Shane O'Neill ; and it was only with their assistance 
that Sir Henry Sidney " to the inestimable benefit of 
the realm brought under obedience the disordered 
countries of Leix, Slewmargy Ofalie, Irrye and Glen- 
malire then late possessed by the O'Connors, O'Mores > 
O'Dempseys and other Irish rebels." And " with a 
fair company " under John Usher, Sheriff, and Patrick 
Buckley, they helped Sussex to attack and defeat a 
roving Scotch pirate, James MacConell, who was after- 
wards connected with the notorious Shane O'Neill, to 
the misfortune of both. Their young men were well 
taught in the foreign universities of Paris and Louvain 
and also at Oxford and Cambridge, Their houses 
were furnished " with plate, furniture, and apparel." 
Their towns were walled and populous, and their home 
produce and foreign trade was increasing when Sidney 
(nth Elizabeth) held a parliament in Dublin for the 
purpose of imposing a tax on wines, which called forth 


so angry a remonstrance from the gentlemen of the 
Pale that a parliament was not summoned for many 
years after. Sidney, in his parting oration (given in 
Campion) to the parliament after the defeat and death 
of Shane O'Neill (1570), defended his policy of main- 
taining an armed garrison in Ireland, and contrasted 
the condition of life in the Pale at the time with that 
which prevailed in a previous age. " Consider," he 
said, "the effect of an army wrought in these tew 
years, for doubt whereof you are nothing so oft nor so 
lamentably pelled as your ancestors were, which of 
you durst be stored with coyne, knowing the rebels' 
mouth watered thereat ? Which of them had leisure 
to build, to lie soft and warm, to take his ease in his 
own home ? Which of them were plated or jewelled, 
or attired themselves, their wives and children sump- 
tuously, after their calling, as ye do now ? If your 
bags be full where they dwelled homely ; if you sleep 
on feather beds, where they slept on couches, if you 
be sumptuous, where they were scant, you have the 
more cause to honour that sceptre, that so directeth 
you and to love her warrant that procureth you 
this quietness, the mother of all your wealth and 


THERE are many interesting notices of Ireland and 
its inhabitants in the writings of Spenser, Fynes 
Moryson, Sir John Davis, Campion, and others. 
Spenser well describes the pasturing capacity of the 
country : " For though the whole tract of the country 
be mountainous and woody, yet there are many goodly 
valleys amongst them, fit for fair habitations, to which 
those mountains adjoined will be a great increase of 
pasturage, for that country is a great soil for cattle, 
and very fit for breed ; as for corn it is nothing 
material, save only for barley and oats, and some 
places, for rye." Fynes Moryson, Secretary of Lord 
Mountjoy (1600-1603) also remarks upon "the plenty 
of grass which makes the Irish have infinite multi- 
tudes of cattle, and in the heat of the last rebellion 
the very vagabond rebels had great multitudes of 
cows, which they still, like the nomads, drove with 
them whithersoever themselves were driven, and 
fought for them as for their altars and families. He 
says they carried on " a frequent, though somewhat 
poor, traffic for their hedes the cattle being in 
general very little, and only the men and the grey- 
hounds of great stature." For fear of thieves and 
wolves, which became so numerous and daring as to 
enter the villages and suburbs, the cattle were driven 
into the bawns of the castles, where they were allowed 
to stand all night without so much as a lock of hay. 


Very little hay was made, doubtless owing to the 
dampness of the climate as much as to " the sluggish- 
ness " of the people, and that little was kept for the 
horses. " Their horses," he writes, " called hobbies 
are much commended for their ambling, grace, and 
beauty ; but Ireland yields few good horses for service 
in war, and the said hobbies are much inferior to our 
geldings in strength to endure long journies, and 
being bred in the fenny, soft ground of Ireland, soon 
lamed when they were brought into England." With 
regard to sheep, Fynes Moryson remarks, "they 
abound in flocks of sheep, which they shear twice in 
the year, but their wool is coarse, and merchants may 
not export it." The reason why they were forbidden 
was that the poor might be employed in turning it 
into cloth, " namely rugs, whereof the best are made 
at Waterford, and mantles, generally worn by men 
and women, and exported in great quantity." They 
had such plenty of linen cloth that " the wild Irish 
used to wear thirty or forty ells in a shirt, all gathered 
and wrinkled, and washed in saffron because they 
never put them off till they were worn out." 

The same writer also notices the great recuperative 
power of the country, which " in a short time after 
the rebellion appeared like the new spring, to put on 
the wonted beauty ; " the " excellent marble near 
Dublin, Kilkenny, and Cork ; " the " excellent fishes, 
as salmons, oysters (which are preferred before the 
English), and shell-fish, with all other kinds of sea- 
fish ; " the " frequent lakes of great circuit yielding 
plenty of fish; "such plenty of pheasants, as I 
have known sixty served at one feast ; " and " very 
many eagles, and great plenty of hares, conies, hawks, 


called goshawks, much esteemed with us, and bees." 
He is of opinion that the mountains would yield 
abundance of metals if the public good were not 
hindered by the seditious and slothful character of the 
inhabitants, that if the Irish were industrious in 
fishing " they might export salted and dried fish with 
great gain." He comments severely on the indolence 
of the people. Although the country had " great 
plenty of birds and fowls, by reason of their natural 
sloth they had little delight or skill in birding or 
fowling." Again, he says : " the best sorts of flowers and 
fruits are much rarer in Ireland than in England, 
which, notwithstanding, is more to be attributed to the 
inhabitants than to the air," and remarks that the Irish 
might have abundance of excellent fish, " if the fisher- 
men were not so possessed with the natural fault of 
slothfulness, as no hope of gain, scarcely the fear of 
authority, can in many places make them come out of 
their houses, and put to sea." And the consequence 
was that Scots and Englishmen employed as fisher- 
men " make profit of the inhabitants' sluggishness." 
Lord Mountjoy, a devoted angler, must have felt in- 
dignant at this neglect of his favourite sport. There 
were, however, other explanations for this remissness. 
In the first place, there was no encouragement given 
to the people to make an effort to improve themselves. 
For instance, the Irish were not permitted to build 
great ships for war, but had " little ships in some sort 
armed to resist pirates, for transporting of com- 
modities into France and Spain, yet no great number 
of them." It is no wonder that the Irish had then 
small skill in navigation, but Fynes Moryson is con- 
fident that " the nation being bold and warlike, 


would, no doubt, prove brave seamen if they shall 
practise navigation, and could possibly prove indus- 
trious therein." Again he points out that " in time of 
peace the Irish transport good quantity of corn, yet 
they may not transport it without licence, lest in any 
sudden rebellion the king's forces and his good subjects 
should want corn." These were acts of repressive 
legislation at the time. 

Again, he comments upon the dampness of the soil 
and air, which caused lateness of harvest and indolence 
of spirit, besides feebleness of body. When describing 
Lord Mountjoy, he says, "he took tobacco abund- 
antly, and of the best, which, I think, preserved him 
frooi sickness, especially in Ireland, where the foggy 
air of the bogs, and waterish fowl, plenty of fish, and 
generally all meats, with the common sort always un- 
salted and green roasted, do most prejudice the 
health." He also states that the country people had 
an excellent remedy for the rawness of their air and 
the looseness of the body, the country disease, in their 
aqua vitae, vulgarly called usquebaugh. And when 
treating the ague, the women gave the sick man no 
meat, but milk and some ordinary remedies. He 
also notes that Ulster and the western parts of 
Munster yield " vast woods, in which the rebels, 
cutting up trees and casting them in heaps, used to 
stop the passages therein, as also in fenny and boggy 
places to fight with the English," but he was deceived 
in his expectation of finding Ireland woody, " having 
found in my long journey from Armagh to Kinsale 
few or no woods by the way, except the great woods 
of Offaly, and some low, shrubby places, which they 
call glins." However, he states that the Irish " export 


great quantities of wood to make barrels called pipe- 
staves." In these woods he also noticed some fallow 
deer, but in the time of the war he never saw any 
venison served at the table, but only in the houses of 
the Earls of Ormond and Kildare and of the English 

Another writer of that period, Sir John Davis, in 
his Discovery, pays a remarkable tribute to the people 
and country of Ireland. He has observed, he writes, 
" in sundry journeys and circuits the good tempera- 
ture of the air ; the fruitfulness of the soil ; the pleasant 
and commodious seats for habitation ; the safe and 
large ports and havens lying open for traffic into all 
the west parts of the world ; the long inlets of many 
navigable, and so many great lakes and fresh ponds 
within the land, as the like are not to be seen in any 
part of Europe ; the rich fishings and wild-fowl of all 
kinds, and, lastly, the bodies and minds of the people 
endowed with extraordinary abilities of nature." He 
also gives the people credit for a desire to keep the 
law. " I dare affirm," he writes, " that for the space 
of five years past there have not been found so many 
malefactors worthy of death in all the six circuits of 
the realm, which is now divided into thirty-two shires 
at large, as in one circuit of six shires, namely the 
western circuit in England, and he adds that " in time 
of peace the Irish are more fearful to offend the law 
than the English, or any other nation whatsoever." 

A great reformation had taken place in the character 
of the people between the beginning of the sixteenth 
and the first quarter of the seventeenth century. In 
the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII. it was 
reported that the king's laws were obeyed and 


executed in four shires only, and Allen, Master of the 
Rolls, said that the "land of Ireland was so much 
decayed that the king's laws were not obeyed 20 
miles in compass," hence the byword they dwelt 
" by west of the law, which dwell beyond the river 
Barrow." Many causes had helped to bring about this 
unhappy state of affairs. There were two customs, 
fosterage and gossipred, which encouraged the spirit of 
factiousness. "Fosterage or alterage," as Sir John Davis 
remarks, 'hath been a stronger alliance than blood. '" 
Of gossipred, or spiritual affinity, "no nation ever 
made so religious account thereof as the Irish " ; and 
a juror "who was gossip to either of the parties 
might be challenged as not indifferent." It was with 
gossips as with Scotch shrimps "look how they stick 
together." Among other things which lowered the 
people, Sir John Davis mentions "common repudia- 
tion of wives, promiscuous generation of children, 
neglect of lawful matrimony, uncleanness in apparel, 
diet and lodging." These Irish customs gradually 
contaminated the English colonists, who became 
worse than the natives themselves, as the verse in 
White Book of Exchequer hath it : 

By graunting charters of peas 
To false English withouten leas 
This land shall be much undoo. 
But gossipred and alterage 
And leesing 1 of our language 
Have muckly holp thereto. 

Something of the misrule and oppression of the 
Kildares has already been seen. But Maurice 
FitzThomas, the first Earl of Desmond, enjoys the 

1 Leesing means losing, cf. " Take heed you leese it not, Signior." 
B. Jonson, " Every Man out of his Humour," v. i. 


distinction, according to Davis, of being the first 
English lord that imposed coyne and livery upon the 
king's subjects, the first to reject English laws and 
government, the first to make a distinction between 
the English of blood and the English by birth. And 
as this Maurice, the first earl, raised the greatness of 
his house by Irish exactions, Gerald, the last earl, did 
at last ruin and reduce it to nothing by the like ex- 
tortions. The first occasion of the rebellion was when 
he attempted to levy black rents and cosheries, after 
the Irish fashion, upon the Decies in the county of 
Waterford. In this he was opposed by Ormond. 
But the misconduct of the English nobility the great 
territorial barons in Ireland is sufficient to explain 
much of the lawnessness of the people. Sir Arthur 
Chichester, who was Lord Deputy, 1604-1616, at- 
tempted to carry out a great scheme of reform with 
some success. He established two other circuits 
for justices of assize in Connaught and Munster. 
The mountains and " glynnes " on the south side of 
Dublin were made shireland, and their people, who 
had been veritable thorns in the side of the Pale* 
were subjected to English law and reduced to quiet. 
The judges were increased " like good planets in their 
several spheres " to carry the light and influence of 
justice throughout the land. By these visitations of 
justice the people were taught that they were the sub- 
jects of the kings of England, and not the vassals of 
their lords, whose cosherings 1 and cesses were declared 

1 Cosher (It. coifi-p, a feast), to live at free quarters upon dependants 
or relations. See The Irish Hudibras, 1689 : 

" A very fit and proper house, Sir, 
For such an idle guest to cosher." 

" Cosheringi were visitations and progresses made by the lord and his 


to be illegal. These assizes had considerable influence 
upon the manners of the people, and caused them to 
remove their glibbs, to convert their mantles into 
cloaks, and to send their children to schools to be 
taught the English language. Sir John Davis, who 
commends the judicious plantation of Ulster, where 
the settler received more than 3,000 acres and was re- 
quired to build and improve the country, had observed 
of Poynings' laws that " they were like lessons set for 
a lute that is broken and out of tune, of which lessons 
little use can be made till the lute be made fit to be 
played on." The lute would seem to be made fit 
now, for he observes of these reforms that " the clock 
of the civil government is now well set and all the 
wheels thereof do move in order. The strings of this 
Irish harp, which the civil magistrate doth finger, are 
all in tune." The revenues, at all events, were doubled, 
by the giving of justice to all, and the people were 
settled because they felt that their earthly possessions 
were more secure, now that a tribunal of some kind 
had been appointed. 

followers among his tenants ; wherein he did eat them out of house and 
home," writes Sir J. Davis in State of Ireland. " Sometimes he con- 
trived in defiance of the law to live by coshering, that is, by quartering 
himself on the old tenants of his faimly " (Macaulay, His, Eng.} The 
same writer says, " Commissioners were scattered profusely among idle 
cosherers, who claimed to be descended from good Irish families." In 
the reign of Chas. I. (1672) an Act was passed for the suppression of 
Cosherers and idle wanderers, threatening severe penalties " if any per- 
son or persons . . . shall cosher, lodge, or cesse themselves upon 
the inhabitants '" Petty (Pol. Anat., 1697) complains that "there are 
yet to spare who are Cosherers and Fait-neauts, 220,000." The Times 
of March n, 1865, defined a cosherer "as one who pretends to be an 
Irish gentleman and will not work. In Ireland the meanings of the 
word are based upon the feudal custom of the lord of the soil to demand 
lodging and entertainment for himself and his followers from his tenants. 
But in England cosher meant to chat, e.g., "we coshered over the 
events of the evening." (Macaulay Life and Lett., 1,5, 339), and 
caress, e.g., Trollope (Barchester Towers) speaks of coshering up people. 


Sir John Davis comments on the neglect of Ireland 
and the Irish by the English sovereigns. Here, in- 
deed, he lays his finger on one of the causes of the 
distress and unhappiness which our present gracious 
sovereign is removing by his almost annual visits, 
and points out that on every occasion when Ireland 
was visited by a sovereign a general submission was 
made. He also indicates the neglect of providing 
the Irish and English of the Pale with equal laws. 
But this atonement was made by Chichester's reform 
in the reign of James I. 

The state of Ireland on the whole cannot there- 
fore be said to have been much improved by the first 
362 years of English rule. The document in the 
State Papers of Henry VIII's reign, known as " the 
State of Ireland and the Plan of its Reformation/' 
gives an eloquent but lurid description of the con- 
dion of the country. This document asserts that 
there were more than sixty counties called regions 
in Ireland, some as large as a shire and others less, 
occupied by the king's Irish enemies and governed by 
sixty " chief captains," who rejoice in such high flown 
titles as kings, princes, dukes, archdukes, who lived 
by the sword, made war as they chose, held all their 
property by the sword, and only obeyed those who 
could subdue them with the sword. They had ob- 
tained their position by force of arms and were not 
succeeded by their sons unless they were the strongest 
of their nation "for there shall be none chief captain 
in any of the said regions by lawful succession, but 
by fort mayne and election." The smaller chiefs, 
called "petty captains," were described as making 
war with the " chief captain " and one another. 


The title " captain " may seem somewhat odd, but it 
was the usual English style of these gentry. For instance, 
Archbishop Alan when speaking of a certain part of 
Wicklow says " ubi O'Byrne capitaneus." Spenser 
suggested an army of 10,000 foot and 1,000 horse, of 
whom 80,000 are " to lie in garrison upon the Earl of 
Tyrone, 1,000 upon MacHugh, the rest upon some 
parts of Connaught," and that the English colonists 
should be planted in strong numbers among the Irish 
septs, so that " they would not be able to stir or to 
murmur," and would establish the Lord Deputy at 
11 Athie (Athy) or thereabouts, upon the skirt of that 
unquiet country, so that he might sit, as it were, at 
the very maine maste of the ship, whence he might 
easily overlooke and sometimes over-reach the Moores, 
the Dempsies, the Connors, O'Carroll, O'Molloy and 
all the heape of Irish nations which there lye hudled 
together without any to overawe them or containe 
them in duty." One of the most lawless of these 
captains was the above-mentioned Pheagh MacHugh 
of the O'Byrne sept, whose residence, or " fastness," 
was at Ballinacor, in Glenmalure, which appears to 
have been a camp of refuge for all the outlaws in the 
land, while their chief was " a base varlet, that being 
but of late grown out of the dunghill, beginneth now 
to over-crow those high mountaines." The time these 
people chose for their incursions into the Pale their 
' Castle season ' was winter, " for then the nights were 
longest and darkest, and the countries around about 
are most full of corn." 

Besides these sixty captains of the Irish enemies 
there were thirty great captains of the degenerate 
English who had become absorbed by the native 


tribes and had adopted the Irish customs, and had 
neither English law nor sheriff. These had possession 
of Waterford, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick, Kerry, 
Carlow, half the county of Meath, half the county of 
Kildare, half the county of Dublin and Wexford, the 
"county of Connaught," the "county of Ulster," and 
half the county of Uriel. All the English of these 
districts, except those dwelling in the walled towns 
and cities, had perforce to speak Irish, and to dress 
and live like the Irish, and as this Document pathe- 
tically remarks, all these English folk would " right 
glad to obey the king's laws if they might be de- 
fended by the king of the Irish enemies ; and because 
they defend them not, and the King's Deputy may not 
defend them, therefore they are all turned from the 
obedience of the king's laws and liveth by the sword 
after the manner of the Irish enemies." 

Furthermore, the loyal subjects of the king living in 
half the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Uriel 
(Louth) were grievously oppressed by the king's courts 
and justices, which were never reduced in number since 
the time when all the country was subject to the king's 
laws, and were so vexed by this unnecessary expense 
that they would gladly sell their freeholds rather than 
suffer their exactions. The freeholders of the marches 
where the king's law was not obeyed were in a worse 
plight, exposed as they were, both to the incursions 
of the king's enemies and the exactions of the king's 
officers. For " what with the extortion of coygne and 
livery daily, and with the wrongful exaction of posting 
money, of carriage and cartage daily," the king's 
yearly subsidy and tribute and black rent to the Irish 
enemies, the English folk of Dublin, Meath, Kildare 


and Uriel were more oppressed than any other folk of 
the land, English or Irish. 

The document quotes a legend of S. Brigit in 
Pandar's book, Salus Populi, where the holy woman 
is represented as enquiring of an angel "of what 
Christian land was the most souls damned," and the 
angel showed her a land in the west part of the world. 
Enquiring the reason why, she was informed 
that " there the Christian folk dieth most out ot 
charity," owing to continual war, and that " without 
charity no soul can be saved." The angel then 
showed how "the Christian folk of that land "fell 
down into hell as thick as any hail shower." For 
" there is no land in the world of so long-continued 
war within himself, ne of so great shedding of Christian 
blood, ne of so great robbing, spoiling, praying 
(preying) and burning, ne of so great wrongful ex- 
tortion continually as Ireland." Campion, however, 
told a different story. He writes that the Irish " are 
in no ways outrageous against holy men." And he 
mentions the argument between Giraldus Cambrensis 
and the Archbishop of Cashel on the subject. The 
former had declared that the Irish had not produced 
a single martyr, to which the other replied that the 
Irish people had ever spared the blood of the saints, 
but that they have now been delivered to a nation that 
is well used to making martyrs. 

In answer to the question " Why the Irish folk 
be grown so strong and the king's subjects so feeble 
and fallen in so great rebellion for the most part," 
the document proceeds to say : " Some sayeth 
that the prelates of the church and clergy is much 
cause of all the misorder of the land ; for there is ne 


archbishop, ne bishop, abbot, ne prior, parson, ne 
vicar, ne any other person of the church, high or 
low, great or small, English or Irish, that wish to preach 
the word of God, saving the friars beggars : and 
where the word of God do cease, there can be no 
grace, and without the special grace of God the land 
may never be reformed." 


A BOOK on the Midland Septs of Ireland would be 
incomplete without some notice of the most famous of 
the midland monasteries Clonmacnoise, generally 
known as the " Seven Churches," the chequered his- 
tory of which is a mirror of Celtic life in the midlands. 
Seirkeiran, was founded by one Kiaran and Clon- 
macnoise by another. The latter was called Macant- 
saoir, or the son of a carpenter. Clonmacnoise, also 
known as Druim Tipraid (hill of the well), Clonensis 
Dunkeranensis, or the Dun of Kiaran, and Killoon, or 
the church of the graves, was for centuries an indepen- 
dent See. In 1568, however, it was united to Meath. 
When Meath was divided it was included in Westmeath. 
And in 1688 it was united to the King's County. For 
then " Clonmacnoise and 3,000 acres of land by the 
management and procurement of Mr. Thomas Coghlan, 
through the favour of Dr. Anthony Martin, Bishop of 
Meath, were taken from the barony of Clonlonan in 
Westmeath, and annexed to the barony of Garrycastle 
in the King's County." 

Standing amid these splendid memorials of the 
ancient Celtic Church, the stone crosses, the groups of 
churches with their carved doorways, the graveyard 
with its monuments of departed kings, bishops and 
abbots, dominated by two noble round towers, 
the casual visitor cannot but be impressed, the initiated 
cannot fail to be inspired. Here is the Teampull 


Cailleach, or " Church of the Nuns," finished by Dear- 
vorgail, the beautiful but fickle wife of O'Rourke, 
whose elopement with King Dermot of Leinster, in 
1152, led to such irreparable disaster. In 1167 she 
found penitence and peace within these historic walls. 
There is the Reiliach Cailleach, or cemetery of the 
nuns. Here is the beautiful doorway made, as the 
Irish Chroniclers tell us, by the order of Odo, dean of 
Clonmacnoise in 1280. Here are interred the bones 
of Roderick O'Conor, King of Connaught and of all 
Ireland, in 1198, and with him an innumerable host of 
Irish kings and princes, O'Melaghlins, O'Kellys, 
MacDermotts, and others, who had been the public 
benefactors of the monastery in their lives and in their 
death were not divided from it. As Archdall in his 
Monasticon Hibernicum writes : " And what was a 
strong inducement and contributed much towards en- 
riching this house, it was believed that all persons 
who were interred in the holy ground belonging to it 
had insured themselves a sure and immediate ascent 
to heaven." 

It is little to be wondered at, then, that Clonmac- 
noise was chosen with pious forethought, as their last 
resting place, by many who had evinced little piety 
and no religion in their lives. And we are not sur- 
prised to learn that " its landed property was so great, 
and the number of cells subjected to it so numerous, 
that almost half of Ireland was said to be within the 
bounds of Clonmacnoise." But the wealth and fame 
of the abbey proved to be the cause of its downfall. 
Its history is one long record of endowment and 
pillage, restoration and renewed burnings. The Four 
Masters and the Annals of Clonmacnoise, compiled 


by one Tighernach, abbot of the monastery, who died 
in 1088, and was reputed to be "a wise, learned, and 
eloquent teacher and doctor," give us a full account of 
its chequered career. The Ostmen generally have the 
credit of the ruin of Clonmacnoise. But they only 
followed the example of the Irish. We read that 
Felim, king of Cashel, destroyed all Clonmacnoise by 
fire, even to the door of the church, and slew many of 
the clergy in 830. In 834 and 839 the Danes sailed 
up the Shannon and plundered the abbey. Some 
years later Turgesius, who had restored paganism in 
Armagh, and who desired to establish a pagan sanc- 
tuary in the West, appointed his wife Ota as priestess 
in Clonmacnoise to offer unspeakable sacrifices upon 
its altars. But it is questionable if Turgesius was a 
worse enemy of Clonmacnoise than Felim of Cashel, 
who again, in 846, plundered the " tearmon lands and 
houses of St. Kiaran," and brought upon himself the 
malediction of the abbot from which he never re- 
covered. During the years 930-960 the abbey was 
plundered on several occasions by the Danes of Dub- 
lin and Limerick, as well as by the king of Cashel, 
the Munstermen and the people of Ossory. In 1199 
Cahall O'Connor plundered the " hospitals " of the 
abbey, which probably refers to the " house of the 
guests " erected 1 106, and he was followed by the 
English of Meelick, who plundered " the church, sanc- 
tuary and town of Clonmacnoise, and carried away the 
vestments, chalices and the books of the community, 
and laid waste all the gardens and houses in the town." 
In 1227, the town was set on fire three times by the 
Irish, and in 1552 the garrison of Athlone plundered 
both town and abbey and left " neither large nor small, 


bell, image, altarbook, gem, nor even glass in a window 
in the walls of the church." It is not surprising, then, 
that the once great school of Clonmacnoise, which re- 
ceived a letter from Alcuin, the learned secretary of 
Charlemagne, and a gift of two hundred sicli from his 
royal master, when Colchu, " master of all the Scots 
of Ireland," was its chief scribe (790 circ.), was, accord- 
ing to the report made to the Roman Pontiff in 1515, a 
neglected and ruined habitation, the see itself being 
valued at only thirty ducats a year. 

On one occasion we read of a plunderer of this 
abbey being overtaken by a tardy justice. In 1 108 
the church was robbed of vestments presented by one 
king, the silver cup and gilt cross, the gift of another, 
and the silver cup which the Primate of Armagh had 
given. The perpetrator of the deed remained un- 
discovered until 1130 when Connor O'Brien found the 
jewels in the possession of a Dane of Limerick, one 
Gille Comhdhan, and delivered him up to the com- 
munity for punishment. Before his execution the 
man is said to have confessed that he had tried to 
escape several times by sea from Ireland, but that on 
each occasion St. Kiaran with his staff turned the 
vessel back to land. 

The cloictheach (round tower) of Clonmacnoise was 
finished by O'Malone in 1124, but we read that on 
Easter Day in 1135 lightning struck off the head of 
the cloictheach of Clonmacnoise, and pierced that of 
Roscrea. This is an important note regarding these 
mysterious buildings. 

In the same barony of Garrycastle are some interest- 
ing ruins. These are at Clonoony, Moystown, 


Liscloony, Fadden, and Tisaran, and are the remains 
of what were once known as the " Fair Castles " of 
MacCoghlan, lord of Delvin. The Four Masters 
make mention of " a Coghlan of the Castles " so far 
back as 1 249, and when recording the death of John 
MacCoghlan in 1590 say, " there was not a man of 
his estate, of the race of Cormac Cas, whose mansions, 
castles, and good dwelling-houses were better arranged, 
or more comfortable than his. The castle of Clonoony, 
some eight miles north of Birr, was probably built in 
the reign of Henry VIII. The Four Masters describe 
a conflict which took place in 1519 "between the tribe 
of Fergal MacCoghlan and the tribe of Donal, in 
which James MacCoghlan, Prior of Gallen, and heir- 
presumptive of Delvin Eathra was killed by the shot 
of a ball from the castle of Cluain Damhna. Cluain 
Damhna, which means Damhan's or Bavin's meadow, 
was the original name of Clonoony, which is called 
" Cluain-Nona " by the Four Masters at the year 
1553. The expression shot of a ball is interesting 
from the fact that the first muskets are said to have 
been brought into Ireland from Germany in 1489. In 
1553 we read of a bold enterprise on the part of a 
" churl," who " acted treacherously towards the warders 
of the castle, and slew three distinguished men of them 
with a chopping-axe, tied a woman who was within, 
and then took possession of the castle." Coins of the 
Elizabethan period have been found at Clonoony, but 
a far more remarkable find was the discovery made 
by some workmen in 1 803 in the vicinity of the castle. 
In a cave they came across a heap of stones. Removing 
these they found a large slab of limestone, eight feet 
long by four wide and one foot thick. On the slab, 


which covered the bones of two persons, was the 
inscription : 

Here under leys Elizabeth and 
Mary Bullyn daughters of Thomas 
Bullyn son of George Bullyn the 
Son of George Bullyn Viscount 
Rochford son of Thomas Bullyn 
Erie of Ormond and Willsheere. 

These persons must have been second cousins of Queen 
Elizabeth, their ancestor having most probably fled to 
Ireland to escape the wrath of Henry VIII., who 
seems to have attainted the whole Bullyn family, after 
the execution of the unfortunate Anne. 

Another stronghold of the MacCoghlans was the 
Caislean-an-Fheadain or the Castle of Fadden, not 
far from Bellmount, the residence of Mr. Perry. This 
was built before 1520, when, as the Four Masters 
relate, " Torlogh, the son of Felim MacCoghlan, lord 
of Delvin Eathra, a man distinguished for wisdom and 
learning, a man of prosperity and great riches, who 
built the castles of Fadan and Cincoradh, died after 
a well-spent life." This castle of Fadden is also men- 
tioned in the Four Masters under the year 1540, 
when " James Oge, the son of the prior MacCoghlan, 
was treacherously beheaded by Ceadach O'Melaghlin 
in his own castle, and great destruction befel the 
country on that account." In 1548 Edmond Fahy 
invaded the district of Delvin. For eight days he 
besieged this castle, and Cormac MacCoghlan, who 
was residing in it, was compelled to give him hostages, 
" after which he and Edmond made a gossipship with 
one another." 

The castle had been attacked six years before by 
the sons of O' Madden, who plundered and burnt the 


town, but were beaten off and pursued to Tisaran. 
On a subsequent occasion the castle fell into the hands 
of the enemy, but was recovered in a remarkable 
manner by a prisoner who was confined in it, and 
handed it over again to the MacCoghlans, 1557. The 
MacCoghlans had other castles at Magh-Istean or 
Moystown, Lis-Cluaine or Liscloony, which was com- 
pleted, according to the Four Masters, in 1556, and 
at Tisaran, which was plundered, and its churches 
plundered by the sons of O'Madden, for which act of 
sacrilege they were punished by Felim O'Melaghlin, 
who marched to Clonfert and plundered its church 
and monastery. Tisaran means Saran's house (Teach- 
Sarain). Saran was of the race of Dealbhna. His 
well, Tobar-Sarain, is near the church. Other castles 
were at Kincor and Gallen near Ferbane, and at 
Garrycastle, the garden of the castle, close to Banagher. 
The last gave its name to the barony. 

In 1551 the MacCoghlan made his submission to 
the English Crown at Athlone, and obtained a pardon 
and a patent of his estate, and " Delvin Eathra was 
put under rent for the king." The MacCoghlans seem 
to have had some difficulty in keeping the peace. For 
we read that Art, the son of Cormac MacCoghlan, 
killed Robert Nugent, a foster-brother of the Earl of 
Kildare, in 1554. In retaliation the earl levied a 
boroihme or cattle tribute of three hundred and forty 
cows on the district as eric or fine. In 1585 John, 
the son of Art, son of Cormac MacCoghlan, attended 
Elizabeth's parliament in Dublin ; but shortly after- 
wards with 200 men he joined the O'Connors and 
O'Molloys in their rebellion. The most remarkable 
member of the clan was Thomas MacCoghlan, called 


the " Maw," who died in 1790. He is described by 
the Chevalier Montmorency as " a remarkably hand- 
some man, gallant, eccentric, proud, satirical, hos- 
pitable in the extreme, and of expensive habits." The 
" Maw " maintained the old customs of the country, 
and the ancestral mode of living and law. His house 
was open to strangers. His tenants, who were his 
vassals, paid their rents, partly in kind, partly in 
money. When a tenant died he levied the fine of 
Mortmain and became heir to the deceased. No law 
save the Brehon code, occasionally enforced by the 
" Maw's " riding-whip, was allowed to be administered 
within his domain. He permitted no other member 
of the sept to use the " Mac." As he died without 
any lawful heir, his estates passed to the son of his 
sister, Denis Daly of Dalystown, and at his death 
were sold to different people. This MacCoghlan sat 
for the borough of Banagher in the Irish Parliament. 

Delvin, which abounded in warlike castles, was not 
without its sanctuaries of religion. Banagher, Beann- 
char or pointed hill, is in the parish of Reynagh, 
called after St. Reynagh or Regnacia, sister of the 
St. Finian of Clonard, who died in 863, and founded 
a church called Kill-Rignaighe, the ruins of which are 
in the centre of the town. Near Ferbane are the 
ruins of the abbey described by Archdall as the 
"Monastery of Galinne in Delbhna, McCochlain" 
founded by Saint Canoe or Mocanoc about 492 and 
burnt by Felym McCroimhain in 820. The abbey 
seems to have been rebuilt by a colony of Welsh 
monks, who founded a school there and gave it the 
name it bears. In the vicinity of this abbey many 
fierce battles were waged between the MacCoghlans 


and the Fahys, O'Maddens and O'Melaghlins. The 
site of this abbey and its lands were granted to Sir 
Gerald Moore in 1612. The ruins thereof are in the 
demesne of Gallen Priory, the residence of Sir Andrew 
Armstrong, Bart. Not far from these ruins are the 
remains of another ancient house, the Abbey of Glin, 
founded by St. Diarmid, whose successor, St. Comgan, 
died in 563. It too went the way of all the Celtic 
foundations, being plundered in 1041 and destroyed 
by fire in 1077. At Killegally near Glin, where St. 
Trena was abbot in the sixth century, are also ruins. 
At Lemanaghan, or St. Manchan's grey land, are 
the ruins of another old establishment. In Archdall's 
time (1786) they were surrounded by a bog " at present 
impassable." Among the modern residences in the 
barony may be mentioned Ballylin, Boon, Mount 
Carteret, and Cloghan Castle. The last, in the parish 
of Lusmagh, was a stronghold of the O'Maddens, who 
ruled over Siol Anmchada, or Silancia. It was called 
"Cloghan O'Madden," and in 1595 it was besieged 
and taken by the Lord Deputy, Sir William Russell, 
who gave an interesting account of the incident in his 
journal. The roof of the castle being covered with 
thatch was set on fire. Then a fire was kindled at the 
door by the besiegers, who " burnd and kild in the 
castle fortie six persons, besides two women and a 
boye which were saved by my Lord's appointment." 
Cloghan Castle and its lands were granted to Garrett 
Moore in the reign of Charles II. It was the residence 
of the late Colonel Graves, who was High Sheriff in 
1880, and whose son, Lieutenant Graves, R.N., lost 
his life doing his duty in the recent " Gladiator " 


Of the warlike O' Maddens, space will only permit 
the notice of Eoghan (Owen) O'Madden, who defeated 
the clan Rickard Burke in 1336, and who died in 1346. 
A poet of his own day described him as " a man with 
the courage of a true lion, the Lion of Birra, with the 
venom of the serpent, the Hawk of the Shannon, a 
tower which defends the frontiers, a Griffin of the race 
of Conn of the Hundred Battles, a large man of 
slender body, with a skin like the blossom of the apple 
trees, with brown eyebrows, black curling hair, long 
ringers, and a cheek like the cherries." He appears 
to have married the daughter of Mac William, who is 
described as " of the fair hand and curling tresses." 
The O' Maddens had their own monastery at Meelick 
in the diocese of Clonfert and on the banks of the 
Shannon, founded by an O'Madden in 1479. The 
O'Madden, who died in 1566, is described as " learned 
in Latin and Irish, and the most inoffensive of the 
chiefs of Ireland in his time, the defender of his land, 
the pillar of protection of women, of the poor, of the 
weak and destitute." This panegyric proves that the 
warlike virtues were not the only qualities esteemed 
by the Irish of the Elizabethan period, and that while 
learning added the leaven of humanity it did not 
necessarily diminish their courage. Shannon Harbour, 
two miles north of Banagher, in the Delvin territory, 
was the scene of many a conflict between the septs 
who lived on the banks of the Shannon, principally 
the O'Maddens, Burkes and MacCoghlans Ath- 
Crochda, as the Four Masters call it, proved a veritable 
ford of grief to many a brave warrior in those days, 
as well as to many a lad and lass in more recent times. 
A terrible battle is said to have been fought here in 


735 between the forces of Aodh Ollam, King of 
Ireland, and those of the King of Leinster. The Four 
Masters relate the complete defeat of the Lagenians, 
and an ancient poem sang with real pathos, " The 
great Shannon mourned that fight near the church of 
Kieran of Clonmacnoise." 

The obituary notice of Tighernach, concerning whom the late 
Professor Eugene O 'Curry in his Manuscript Materials of Ancient 
Irish History, said that "not one of the countries of northern Europe 
can exhibit an historian of equal antiquity, learning and judgment with 
Tighernach," is thus given in the Chronicum Scotorum, A.D. 1 088. 
" Tigernach Ua Braoin of the Siol Muireadhaigh Comarbavof Ciaran of 
Cluain-mic-nois and of Coman died." There are seven copies of these 
annals, two in the Bodleian, two in the Royal Irish Academy, one in 
Trinity College, and two inferior ones in the British Museum. Dr. 
O'Conor, who collected the MSS,, held that "no good edition of 
Tighernach can be founded on any copy in the British isles ; for that 
of Dublin, and all those hitherto discovered, are founded on the Oxford 
MS. which is imperfect and corrupted by the ignorance of its tran- 
scriber." Tighernach dates Irish history from the time of Cimbaoth 
and the founding of Emania " Omnia monumenta Scotorum usque 
Cimbaoth incerta erant." This was about 300 B.C. The annals were 
continued doubtless by other members of the fraternity down to the 
year 1407, more than three hundred years after his own death. 
Augustin MacGrady, " a canon of the canons of the Island of the 
Saints, a Saoi (Doctor) during his life, in divine and worldly wisdom, 
in literature, in history, and in various other sciences in like manner, 
and the Ollamh (professor) of good oratory, of western Europe, helped 
to compile this book until 1405, according to the entry for that year in 
the Annals. Some other member of the community carried it on to 
1407. And our first great Irish historian Tigernach is not to be for- 
gotten. Many critics, Stillingfleet, Innes and others, commend his 
historical judgment and wide scholarship. He cites Euscbius, Orosius, 
Africanus, Bede, Jerome, Josephus, and had a good knowledge of the 
Hebrew text, vjhich he compared with the Septuagent version. 


A short sketch of the more notable events that took 
place in the King's County after the subjugation of 
the Irish septs may prove interesting. On the 22nd 
of June, 1620, an order was made out by the Lord 
Chancellor giving Sir Laurence Parsons possession of 
" the castle and fort- village " and land of Birr, and 
converting the said land into the Manor of Parsons- 
town. On the ^th of July Sir Laurence was put into 
possession by the High Sheriff, Captain Francis 
Acland. In November of the same year he obtained 
a grant of a Tuesday market and two fairs to be held 
in Birr on the festivals of S. Mark and S. Andrew. 
This was doubtless done in emulation of Sir John 
MacCoghlan who had obtained a grant in 1612 to hold 
a market on Thursdays in Banagher. In those days 
a sheep cost three shillings and fourpence, and a 
quarter of beef, four shillings and sixpence. The 
O'Carrolls having tried in vain to be reinstated, Sir 
Laurence proceeded to give leases to about sixty 
persons, Irish and English. Some years afterwards 
the famous Bigo factory of glass was established in 
the Castle of Clonoghill, the ruins of which are at 
Syngefield, the residence of Sir Francis Synge, 
Bart. Molyneux, in his Natural History of Ireland, 
states that " from this place Dublin was furnished 
with all sorts of window and drinking glasses. One 
part of the materials, viz., the sand, they had out of 


England ; the other, to wit, the ashes, they made in 
the place of ash tree, and used no other. The 
chiefest difficulty was to get the clay pots to melt the 
materials in. This they had out of the north." This 
factory did good work for some years. Remains of 
an ancient glass-house with broken crucibles and glass 
were found at Clonbrone, near Clonoghill, where St. 
Canice is said to have retired for meditation, and 
where in 1 848 the skull of a bear was found at a depth 
of six feet among fallen trees of bog-oak by men 
making a new channel for the Camcor River. This 
discovery helps us to recreate the surroundings of 
those early saints, Kiaran and Canice, of Saigher, who 
lived in the centre of woods where deer and bear and 
wolf, as the townland of Breagmore or "great wolf" 
shows, abounded. 

Sir Laurence Parsons made several ordinances for 
the improvement of the town of Birr. In 1626 he 
made a rule for the paving and cleaning of Birr in 
which he stated : " Since I am at great charges in 
digginge and bringinge of stones, which I intend to 
have layed in the middest of the streete onely, to serve 
for common passage, therefore it is the least that the 
inhabitants can doe to pave xii foote broade as well 
before theire houses as alsoe so longe and as farr as 
theire houses yards gardens or plotts doe reach and 
touch upon the streete, still carryinge the pavement 
twelve foote broade. This to bee done at the tenants 
charge both for stones gravell and workmanship." 

The same ordinance forbade the casting of any 
" rubbidge filth or sweepings into the forestreete." 
For every such offence the constable was to levy four 
pence sterling. Another ordinance for the regulation 


of drinking houses made in the same year shows the 
very modern ideas of the new owner of Birr. It 
commenced with a recital of the evils caused by allow- 
ing young women to "draw ale and beare," and 
continued in these terms : " Therefore I do ordayne 
that henceforwards noe single woman other than 
hired servants for meate drinke and wages or clothes, 
shall draw any ale or beare, or keepe vittling in this 
towne, uppon payne to be sett in the stocks by the con- 
stable for 3 whole markett dayes, one after another, 
and those which retaine suche in their houses to paie 
xx d. sterling for each default ; to be levied by the 
constable and serjant Lewis Jones for repayring the 
church and bridg of this towne." The repairs here 
referred to consisted probably of the erecting of the 
square tower or belfry of the old church. It would 
be well, indeed, for the whole country if this ordin- 
ance concerning the sale of alcohol were the law of the 

This enlightened landlord also insisted on his 
tenants having stone chimneys in their houses owing 
to the fearefull experience that many townes and 
villages have binn consumed by fire in divers parts of 
this realme and occasioned thorowe fires made without 
chimneys." Nor did he neglect the education of his 
tenants. For in 1626 he presented a petition to the 
Lord Deputy Falkland requesting that 200 acres of 
unallotted land in Fearcall might be granted for the 
use of the schoolmaster of the town of Birr, " who 
teacheth the youth of that countrey to the great 
good thereof." 

In 1641 the town was attacked by the insurgents 
under Colonel Moore. Mr. William Parsons, who 


had been appointed Governor of Ely O'Carroll and of 
Birr Castle, defended it with the help of his own tenants 
and Captain Coote's infantry. The besieged were 
reduced to great distress, being compelled to eat cats 
and dogs and horseflesh. They were, however, 
relieved by Sir Thomas Lucas, Sir Charles Coote, and 
Sir Richard Grenville, with six troops of dragoons who 
had to make their way through the woods of Moun- 
trath. The next year (1643) General Preston of the 
Roman Confederate Forces, who were sworn to bear 
allegiance to Charles I. and his successors, and to 
undo the work of the Reformation, attacked the town 
with a strong force. After a siege of two days the 
garrison, who were greatly outnumbered, surrendered, 
and were allowed to march out with their arms, half 
their plate, and money, all their books, papers, and 
manuscripts, and as much provisions as they could 
carry. This was on the 2Oth of January, 1642. The 
articles of agreement make mention of Captain Coote, 
Captain Oliver Darcy, and Lieutenant James Malone. 
One item is of interest : " It is agreed that the Lady 
Philips and the Lady Parsons shall have each of 
them two pair of sheets, and the Governor's lady and 
Captain Coote's lady shall have each of them two 
pair of sheets, a pair of pillow beers, and all their 
clothes of linen and woollen, with their trunk and 
chest to carry them in, and two feather beds for his 
children, and the red bed that is laced with willow- 
coloured lace, with its furniture." 

In return for these honourable terms Mr. Parsons 
promised to use his interest with the Lord Justice and 
Council for the release of " Nicholas Egan and 
Catherine Preston, his wife, with her sister, a religious 


woman." The latter were evidently relations of the 
General. Lord Castlehaven in his Memoirs states that 
he went into Birr to see the garrison march out, and 
entered a large room full of men and women of 
quality who besought him as an Englishman to bring 
them safely to their friends, as they would have a 
march of two days through the woods of Hy Regan 
the territory of the O'Dunnes still in the possession 
of the Dunnes of Brittas before they could reach 
Athy, the nearest friendly garrison. " I went," he 
says, " therefore to the general immediately, and got 
to be commander of their convoy, and to make sure, 
I called out three hundred foot and two hundred 
horse, in whom I had much confidence, and carried 
off the people, who were at least eight hundred, men, 
women, and children, and though sometimes attacked, 
I delivered therewith their luggage,safe to their friends." 

After the surrender of Birr Preston marched 
against Banagher, then called Fortfalkland " a place 
of strength enough to have held out against him, 
longer than he could have staid in that season of the 
year," as Dr. Warner wrote in his History of the 
Rebellion and Civil War iu Ireland. 

But in consequence of the favourable terms granted 
to the garrison of Birr, and to avoid falling into worse 
hands, Lord Castlesteward, the Governor, capitulated 
on the understanding that he and all his people 
should be conveyed to the Fort of Galway. General 
Preston, accordingly, sent two companies with them 
as guard, but Colonel Burke, Lieutenant-General of 
the Roman Catholic Confederates, made them return 
to the Castle of Athlone, permitting the Governor 
and a few attendants to pass. 


Birr remained in the hands of the Confederates 
until 1650. General Preston, brother of Lord Gor- 
manstown, one of the Lords of the Pale, and one of 
the moderate party of the Confederates, had occupied 
the town for some years as Commander of their 
forces in Leinster. Owing to a division created in 
these forces by the action of the Papal Nuncio, 
Rinuncini, who opposed the treaty between Ormonde, 
the head of the Protestant party in Ireland, and the 
Confederates signed on the 28th of March at Kilkenny, 
he had held aloof for some time. Rinuncini suc- 
ceeded admirably in his purpose of sowing discord 
among the two political parties of Irishmen, who, if 
united, could have saved the country from the Crom- 
wellian invasion. He was supported by Owen 
O'Neill, the rival of Preston, who attacked Birr in 
1648, during Preston's absence, but was beaten off 
by one of the latter's officers. In 1650 Ireton, who 
had been appointed to command the Republican 
forces in Ireland by Cromwell, marched against 
Athlon e, and leaving Sir Charles Coote to take it, 
advanced on Birr which the enemy had burned and 
abandoned on his approach. Ireton continued his 
marched on Limerick, leaving a garrison in Birr. 
But shortly afterwards the Marquis of Clanricarde 
attempted to relieve the town, and took the two 
castles, but was forced to raise the siege on the 
arrival of Colonel Axtell, the Governor of Kilkenny, 
who pursued him to Meelick, and defeated him with 
great loss. 

The town of Birr had rest now from war's alarms 
for some years and prospered in trade and com- 
merce. But in 1688 the country was infested by 


robber bands called Rapparees, under one Fannin. 
The Birr tenants sought safety within the walls of 
the Castle. Colonel Oxburgh reported the matter 
to Lord Tyrconnell, the Lord Lieutenant, making it 
appear that Sir Laurence Parsons was garrisoning 
the town against James II. Tyrconnell ordered the 
officious officer to occupy the place in the name of 
the king. Oxburgh set out forthwith against 
Birr and demanded possession of the castle. This 
was refused until a communication should be received 
from Tyrconnell, and the siege began, to end in a 
surrender after some days. On this occasion the 
people in the castle were allowed to depart, with the 
exception of Sir Laurence Parsons and five of his 
tenants, who were thrown into prison and charged 
with high treason in keeping the garrison against 
the king. Mr. Jonathan Darby and his brother, 
John, were also arrested and charged with the same 
offence for their gallant rescue of Captain Coote. 
The prisoners were tried at the Philipstown Assizes 
on the 30th of March, 1689, before Sir Henry Lynch, 
who sentenced Sir Laurence, Jonathan Darby, and 
James Rasco to be " hanged, drawn, and quartered." 
With great difficulty the convicted men obtained a 
reprieve for a month. Sir Laurence was sent back 
under military escort to Birr, and kept in prison 
until the 2nd April, 1690, and was duly attainted by 
the Dublin Parliament of James II. In the mean- 
time Colonel Oxburgh, who was a member for King's 
County, with two of his companies were quartered 
in the castle, and the remaining twenty in the town of 
Birr. The Roman priest, Rev. Thomas Kennedy, 
was put in possession of the Glebe and tithes of the 


parish by Garrett Trant, his Majesty's Receiver, in 
the absence of the Rector, the Rev. Richard Crump. 
In November 28th of the same year (1689) Colonel 
Oxburgh's officers took the key of the Church from 
the Clerk of the Parish and handed it over to the 
Roman Catholic clergyman, who held a service of 
reconsecration in the Church and celebrated Mass 
there until the Battle of the Boyne. Colonel Sarsfield, 
a gallant and kindly officer, having been sent to 
disband some of the soldiers of Oxburgh, who had 
become " Rapparees," held a review in the fields 
near Birr, and disbanded nine companies. He then 
proceeded to Portumna, where he disbanded forty- 
three companies of Lord Galway's army, who at once 
swelled the ranks of the Rapparees. 

Oxburgh was then appointed Provost Marshall of 
the King's County, and signalized his appointment 
by the erection of a gallows, with three ropes in the 
market place of Birr, which was supposed to be 
intended for the three prisoners, Sir Laurence, Jonathan 
Darby, and James Roscoe. Having been erected on 
May-Day, 1689, it was called "Colonel Oxburgh's 
Maypole." On the 2nd of April an order came from 
James to Terence Coghlan, the High Sheriff, to 
bring these men to Dublin. This they reached 
after four day's travel, and were at once thrown 
into prison. But their release was at hand. For the 
news of the victory of William, brought to the Castle 
by no less a person than James himself, caused the 
doors to be thrown open for all the political prisoners 
in that city. Sir Laurence was appointed High 
Sheriff of the King's County by King William's 
Government, and also a Commissioner of Array ; the 



other Commisioners, many of whom have representa- 
tives still in the county, being John Baldwin, Daniel 
Gahan, William Purefoy, Samuel Rolls, Hector 
Vaughan, John Weaver, Jonathan, Darby, Humphrey 
Minchin, Archibald Adaire, Jeffrey Lyons, John 
Reading, and Richard Warburton. 

After some months an attack was made upon Birr 
by Sarsfield, who was repulsed by General Douglas 
and fell back beyond the Shannon. After the battle 
of Aughrim the victorious army passed through Birr 
on its way to Limerick, leaving the sick and wounded 
in the Castle. The Birr garrison then sallied forth 
and took possession of the fort of Banagher and 
Cloghan Castle, Lieutenant Archibald Armstrong 
being left in charge of the latter place. 

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the 
Volunteer Movement spread through Ireland which 
had been drained of its military forces by the 
American War. A volunteer corps was accordingly 
formed in the King's County. The Parsonstown 
Loyal Independents were raised in Birr and associated 
on the 1 5th of February, 1776. Their uniform was 
scarlet, faced with black, and their Colonel was Sir 
William Parsons, Bart., with Major L. Parsons, 
Captain B. B. Warburton, Lieutenants Treacy and 
Kearney. Edenderry Union was associated on May 
ist, 1777. Their uniform was the same, and their 
officers, Captains Shaw Cartland and Digby Berkeley. 
The Barony Rangers were associated on March I7th, 
1 778 ; their uniform was the same ; and their officers 
were Colonel Andrew Armstrong and Captain Robert 

The Tullamore True Blues were raised in October 


of the same year. Their uniform was scarlet faced 
with blue, and their colonel, Charles William Bury, 
afterwards Earl of Charleville. The Mountain Rangers 
were associated in August of 1779. They were raised 
in Kinnetty by Colonel Thomas Bernard, George 
Clarke being major, and John Drought captain, ances- 
tor of Captain Drought, D.L., of Lettybrook. Their 
uniform was scarlet with black facings. The Dunkerrin 
Volunteers were associated in June of 1779. Their 
colonel was James Frank Rolleston, who is represented 
by Major Rolleston, D.L., of FrcJickfort Castle, Dun- 
kerrin. The Eglish Rangers were associated in August, 
1779. Their Major was Thomas Berry, their captain, 
John Drought, and their lieutenant, J. C. Clarke. The 
Leap Independents were raised in 1 780 by their colonel, 
Jonathan Darby, ancestor of the present Mr. Jonathan 
Darby, D.L., of Leap Castle. The majority of these 
officers of the Volunteers have representatives among 
the gentry of the county, though some names have 
completely passed away. Meetings were held in Birr 
in 1781 and 1782, which were attended by the delegates 
of these corps, and on the 2Oth September, 1784, a 
general review was held by Sir William Parsons at 
Woodfield near Birr. The right wing consisted of 
the OfTerlane Blues under Colonel Flood, the Lorrha 
Rangers under Captain Firman, and the Clanrickarde 
Chasseurs under Colonel O'Moore. The centre, com- 
manded by Colonel Richard Croasdaile, was composed 
of the Mountmellick Infantry under Lord Carlo w, the 
Eglish Rangers under Major Berry, the Maryborough 
Fusiliers under Sir John Parnell, and the Eyrecourt 
Buffs under Colonel Giles Eyre. While the left wing, 
commanded by Colonel Thomas Bernard, great- 


grandfather of Mrs. Caufield French of Castle Bernard, 
consisted of the Mountain Rangers, the Parsonstown 
Grenadiers, and artillery, and the Clanrickarde Brigade. 
This must have been a very gallant display, as the 
appointments and uniforms of the Volunteers left 
nothing to be desired. 

The Volunteers were at this time some fifty thousand 
strong, and began to exert an irresistible influence 
upon the Government for the good of the country. 
In Dublin they held an imposing muster in College 
Green in support of Grattan's demand for free trade 
for Ireland, when two field-pieces were drawn up in 
front of King William's statue, labelled " Free trade 
or this." Lord North's Government, powerless to 
cope with such armed arguments, made the required 
concessions, and Ireland was permitted the free export 
of her wool and glass, the free importation of foreign 
hops, and trade with the " Levant Seas " and the 
English colonies upon the same terms as Great Britain. 
These concessions were wrested from the British 
Government by the Protestant nobility, gentry and 
yeomen of Ireland. 

But the Volunteers had yet another work to do for 
Ireland. The Dublin Volunteer Corps opposed the 
perpetual Mutiny Act, which they declared was " an 
undermining of the constitution and an infringement 
of liberty." Other Volunteer Corps passed a similar 
resolution. On February I5th, 1782, 242 delegates 
representing 143 corps in Ulster, met in the church of 
Dungannon, under the presidency of Lord Charlemont, 
and passed thirteen resolutions in favour of legislative 
reform. On the 3rd of September, 1781, the delegates 
of the King's County Corps, under the presidency of 


Colonel Rolleston, had passed several resolutions 
against the perpetual Mutiny Act, Poynings' Law, and 
other unconstitutional measures. In consequence of 
the determined attitude of the Volunteers Lord North 
resigned, and the new Ministry allowed the repeal of 
6 George I., and Poynings' Law, limited the Mutiny 
Act to two years, granted a Habeas Corpus Act to 
Ireland, and other measures of reform. The Marriages 
of Protestant Dissenters a measure only granted to 
England in 1836 were declared valid; various disa- 
bilities were removed from the Roman Catholics, and 
the penal laws were repealed. 

As Grattan remarked in his great speech in the 
Irish Parliament on the i6th April, 1782 : " It was not 
the sword of the volunteer, nor his muster, nor his 
spirit, nor his promptitude to put down accidental 
disturbance or public disorder, nor his unblamed and 
distinguished deportment. This was much, but there 
was more than this. The upper orders, the property 
and the abilities of the country formed with the 
volunteer, and the volunteer had sense enough to obey 
them." The volunteer movement lost its prestige and 
influence in 1784. But it had asserted the claims of 
Ireland and prepared the way for Roman Catholic 
Emancipation in perhaps the most agitated times the 
country has known. And in this movement it is 
gratifying to learn that the Protestant gentry and 
yeomen of King's County played no mean part. And 
they maintained the same traditions in the militia l of 

1 The officers of the King's County Militia (iQth) in 1809 were : 
Col. H. P. L'Estrange (1798) ; Lt.-Cols. II. R. Stepney, J. W. Atkin- 
son ; Majors C. F. L'Estrange, C. Baldwin ; Capts. G. Marsh, R. 
O'Connor, H. O'Connor, T. Hobbs, J. Fitzsimmons, James Drought, 
H. Croasdaile, D. Cuolahan ; Lieute. R. Warburton, J Lancaster, 


the county which was presently formed. During the 
disturbances of 1798 the district around Birr was 
comparatively quiet. 

One terrible murder was committed at Boveen near 
Sharavogue, the residence of the Earl of Huntingdon, 
when Mr. Thomas Doolan was done to death in a 
very callous manner. On Ash Wednesday, 1797, a 
number of men with blackened faces entered the room 
where the family were at dinner, and murdered the 
unfortunate man before the eyes of his wife and child- 
ren, and decamped with the plate. Mr. Waller of 
Finnoe was murdered in the same way in more recent 
times. A pantry boy, however, witnessed the deed 
through a chink in the wall, and sixteen men were 
tried at Philipstown Assizes, with the result that two 
of them were executed at Newtown, near Birr, before 
their own doors 

In 1800 a meeting of magistrates was convened in 
Birr to protest against the Union. They met in the 
old market house, but were compelled to return to 

Bigoe Cuolahan, F. King, G. Sharpe, W. Dowling, J. Howard, J. 
L'Estrange, S. G. Pilkington, John Acres, W. Hodson, R. M'Clain, 
J. W. Watson, H. M. Ryves, John Falkner, John Abbot, Walter 
Strong, John Wetherall ; Ensigns T. B. Watson, H. Howard, D. 
Smith, Joseph Maxwell, Paymaster R. T. Fraser, Adjutant A. 
L'Estrange, Surgeon T. Waters, and T. McDonough, Quartermaster 
T. Howard. Of these officers there are still many representatives in 
the King's County. The regiment was called the iQth, but is now 
known as the 3rd Batt. Royal Canadians, Prince of Wales's Leinster 
Regiment. The ist and 2nd battalions are the looth and the ioo,th, 
and the 4th and 5th are the Queen's County and Meath Militia. In 
1889 they were commanded by Lieut, -Col. R. G. Cosby ; in 1905 by 
Lieut. Col. Luttman-Johnson, and in 1908 by Col. Barry, D.S.O., with 
Lieut-Col. Gamble, of Derrinboy, second in command. The present 
Earl of Huntingdon and his grandfather, Col. Westenra, were con- 
nected with the battalion for several years. The late Col. Thomas 
Bernard, of Castle Bernard, H.M.L. for King's County, was colonel 
for many years, and was succeeded in command by his brother, 
Richard Wellesley, Col, Thomas remaining full colonel. 


their homes by Major Rogers, who was in command 
of the artillery, and Jonathan Darby, High Sheriff. 

To shift the scene to Tullamore in 1808 we read of 
an exciting encounter that took place between the 
cavalry and infantry of the German legion quartered 
in that town and light brigade of Irish militia. The 
Irish charged the Germans with fixed bayonets and 
put them to a complete rout. A monument to 
Frederick Baron Oldenhausen, a German dragoon 
officer, in the graveyard of Kilcrutten, commemorates 
the conflict. In 1829 a duel was fought between John 
Doolan of Shinrone, and William Sadleir of Scalaheen, 
Tipperary, Doolan's second being William McDonough 
of Wilmount, County Galway. He was challenged 
on the ground by David Davis, who insisted that they 
should fight across a handkerchief. It appears that 
McDonough fired and killed Davis, for which he was 
duly tried at Philipstown Assizes, and was acquitted. 

In 1 846 the famous telescope was completed at Birr 
under the direction of the Earl of Rosse, and was 
improved by the late earl, a man of scientific and 
mechanical tastes. The King's County has since lived 
up to- the traditions thus created, the scientific work 
of the brothers Stoney, Johnstone and Bindon, both 
F.R.S., who were born in Oakley Park in Sierkieran 
Parish, and of the Hon. Clere Parsons, of turbine 
fame, being well known to all the world. In 1853, 
May 5th, the first public telegram from Birr was 
published in Saunders Newsletter in Dublin. It was 
to the effect that the fair of that date was one of the 
best ever held in Birr. Banagher horse fair is too 
widely known to require mention. That such may 
ever be the character of our fairs and markets, and 


that our sons may worthily maintain the traditions of 
the past, in promoting the agricultural welfare of our 
country and the scientific interests of the world, is a 
prayer to which Irishmen of every religious creed and 
political faith will fervently say " Amen." 

But that consummation can only be achieved by a 
complete reform of our system of economy. Even the 
casual observer must see that the weakness of Ireland 
is its contempt for industry on the one hand, and its 
distrust of industry on the other, whereby the labourer 
and the employer fail to effect such a combination as 
would render the land productive and enterprise suc- 
cessful. Our country is being steadily depleted of its 
most vigorous toilers, and nought is done to fill up 
the gap made by the exodus or to check that exodus. 
On the contrary, the young and ambitious, the indus- 
trious and intelligent, have every worldly inducement 
to abandon the homeland that will not support, 
employ, or educate them in such a way that they can 
earn a living therein, and to seek new fields of industry 
in the far west. Sectarian differences and mutual 
distrust impede education and economy at every point. 
The natural result is that the nation is slowly dying ; 
its energies are decaying, its children are departing, 
its trade is depressed, its labour is degraded and 
its tillage is declining, while the disabilities of the 
employer, the farmer, and the labourer, are increasing 
every year owing to the mismanagement of our material 
resources, the inefficient control of the work, and the 
unreliable character of the workman. Labour requires 
to be reorganised on an ethical basis ; education must 
be made more practical in its aims ; capital must 
become more disinterested in its investments. The 


national decay is a proof of the unwisdom of spending 
one's life in the pursuit of political ideals and of the 
necessity of facing the facts of actual life. An Act 
of Parliament is not the panacea for a state of things 
created by too much eloquence and too little diligence, 
but a regeneration of the national spirit is. An 
exchange of landlords will not raise the national credit 
unless it is followed by a change of character. The 
work of reform is no longer hampered by the inter- 
tribal warfare or oppressive statutes described in the 
preceding pages. The Irish people have their national 
destiny in their own hands ; they must work out their 
own salvation themselves without the assistance of 
Parliament. There are no longer grievances to be 
redressed, but there is character to be reformed. And 
if the national life is to be renewed, the principles of 
economy must be studied and a new spirit of enter- 
prise infused. 

Is it sound economy to have a premium on idleness 
and endeavour at a discount, to banish the employer 
and to abolish sport ; to allow foreign produce and 
manufactures to compete on equal terms with our own 
in every market ; to fill our baronies with unemployed 
labourers struggling with starvation on half an acre 
of ground ; and to imagine that all the ills our country 
has inherited can be removed by the creation of so- 
called " economic " holdings for men, who have no 
capital to buy stock or intention to till the soil ? The 
result is as evident, as it is inevitable, namely, that the 
thrifty, the temperate and well-to-do will gradually 
acquire the farms of the dilatory, the impecunious 
and the intemperate. 

It does not pay in the long run to allow the land to 


become impoverished, to take hay crop after hay crop 
from the same field, to purchase second-rate farming 
implements and machines made in America because 
cheaper, to buy the stuff dumped down by foreign 
countries in our markets, to use inferior seed and 
manures, to live on credit, and to trust that Provi- 
dence will correct our mistakes and pay our debts. 
Change of ownership can not of itself improve 
the land the only security of our national life 
unless the new landlords prove industrious themselves, 
and capable of employing and controlling labour. 
Our economic efficiency depending on the co-operation 
of land, labour and capital, the three agents of pro- 
duction, peasant ownership can lead to no lasting bene- 
fit so long as agricultural produce is unprotected, the 
capitalist discouraged and the labourer dismissed. 

On the one hand, we have stately asylums for the 
insane, all too small for the increasing demand, and 
spacious unions for the inane, maintained by a ruinous 
tax on the land for the accommodation of casuals, too 
lazy to dig but not ashamed to beg, and children who 
become demoralised by their surroundings for the 
really deserving poor prefer " out-door relief," and the 
aged poor are to receive pensions nominally from the 
State, in reality from another iniquitous tax on the 
land while, on the other hand, we see universal signs 
of decay and decline. Over every village a ruined 
mill, gaunt spectre of a crushed enterprise, throws its 
dark shadow, and makes its mute appeal to Ireland 
to protect its industry and to defend its trade against 
the ruthless invader not the Saxon this time and 
every unjust attempt to undersell and monopolise. 
One may well ask Is it sanity to allow foreign 


potatoes and bacon to compete on equal terms with our 
own even in pig-producing and potato-growing dis- 
tricts ? Is it sanity to allow the parasites, the drones 
and the weak-minded to multiply, and to permit the 
able-bodied and industrious to be diminished if they 
will not migrate ? It seems, indeed, to be the fate of 
Irish industry to be starved out by its " Cosherers and 
Fait-neants" of whom Petty complained in 1691 
men who demand support, but despise work ? Is it 
sanity to imagine that we can live by the land alone, 
and that the State must manage everything railways, 
factories, and co-operative stores ? The improvement 
effected in the early part of the seventeenth century 
by Sir Lawrence Parsons, described in this chapter, is 
a proof that reform of industry is possible if the men 
be found capable of initiating, capitalizing and con- 
trolling it. A social regeneration would follow the 
resuscitation of some of those industries mentioned in 
these pages, In which we were once the dreaded rival 
of England. When those ruined mills, which once 
gave employment to the country-side, hum once more 
with the sound of machinery ; when those expensive 
workhouses are converted into homes for workers ; 
when one quarter of the area of the country is tilled ; 
when the raised character of the labourer encourages 
capitalists to invest in home securities and to combine 
to develop national industries, and when the national 
produce receives State protection, then industrial ineffi- 
ciency and agricultural depression will no longer act as 
a double brake upon the wheels of progress, and our 
economic salvation shall be accomplished. 


IRELAND was ever in an unsettled state. This was 
due in a large measure to the number of warlike 
septs who regarded each other with feelings of mutual 
hatred and distrust, and had seldom an entente 
cordiale with one another for any length of time. 
This is not to be ascribed altogether to the inbred 
love of fighting in the Irish, but also to the unsettled 
state of life and property within the borders of the 
various septs. There were two customs connected 
with the inheritance of land which were answerable 
for this unrest. In the first place, when the chieftain 
died it did not follow as a matter of course that his 
eldest son or the next-of-kin succeeded ; but the tanist 
was often selected who could secure his election by 
force of arms. And by the law of gavelkind the 
other tenantries were divided among all his sons, 
legitimate and illegitimate. Then came in the other 
custom, often acting contrary to this and causing 
grievous complications, of the chief claiming to inherit 
the land of his tenant who died during his office. It 
is little more than a hundred years since one of the 
old chieftains of King's County died who used to 
insist on this right. He was Thomas Coghlan, M.P. 
Banagher, and the last of the MacCoghlans " of the 
Fair Castles " of Delvin Ahra, commonly known as 
" the Maw " who has already been described. He 
levied the fines of Mortmain when a vassal died, 


become heir of the defunct farmer, settled points of 
law the Brehon Code with his whip, and received 
his rents partly in kind and partly in money. He 
died so recently as 1790. These two customs 
made life and property uncertain and are probably 
answerable for the fact that " though the Irishry," as 
Sir John Davis writes (Ireland before 1603, p. 291), 
" be a nation of great antiquity and wanted neither 
wit nor valour, and though they had received the 
Christian faith above 1,200 years since and were lovers 
of music, poetry and all kinds of learning, and pos- 
sessed a law abounding with all things necessary for 
the civil life. . . . They did never build houses 
of brick or stone, some poor religious houses excepted, 
before the reign of Henry II." He continues : 
" Neither did they plant gardens or orchards or 
inclose or improve their lands or live together in 
settled villages or towns or make any provision for 

The same writer also condemns severely the custom 
of coyne and livery or the practice of enforcing food 
and fodder for one's soldiers. " This most wicked and 
most mischievous extortion was originally Irish ; for 
the chiefs used to lay bonaght upon their people and 
never gave their soldiers any other pay. But when 
the English lords had learned it they used it with 
more insolency and made it more intolerable ; for the 
oppression was not temporary or limited either to 
place or time, but because there was everywhere a 
continual war either offensive or defensive, and every 
lord of a country and every marcher made war and 
peace at pleasure ; it became universal and perpetual, 
and indeed was the most heavy oppression that was 


ever used in any Christian country." The Irish 
custom to which Sir John Davis, who advocates a 
strong English Government, refers was called Bonaght, 
and was of two kinds the greater and the less, the 
greater being free quarters at discretion or in specie, 
while the less was commutation for it in money or 
food. The Irish gentry were rather inclined to live 
upon their tenants and to enjoy the dolce far niente of 
country life and produce. By the law of gavelkind 
every son of a landed proprietor was to inherit a 
portion of the estate ; and their portion was to be 
divided between their sons in their turn, so that 
many of the large estates would be reduced in time to 
the proverbial "three acres and a cow." These 
people considered trade or occupation of any kind 
degrading to any gentleman. Accordingly, they did 
no work, but lived by their evils and on their people. 
Sir John Davis refers to this practise of coshering in 
the passage " They chose rather to live by theft, 
extortion, or coshering than seek any better fortune 
abroad, which increased their septs and surnames 
into such numbers that there are not found in any 
kingdom of Europe so many gentlemen of one blood, 
family, and surname, as the O'Neills in Ulster, the 
Burkes, in Connaught and the Geraldines in Munster 
and Leinster." 

By this incessant coshering upon the tenants the 
lords did literally eat them out of hearth and home, 
so that the saying, " Devour me but defend me " 
passed into a proverb, and owing to the oppressions 
of the Desmonds, the Irish proverb, "quod me alit 
extinguit" was used. 

While his other cessings of the kern called 


Kernety, and his privileges, "cuttings, tallages, or 
spendings, high or low at pleasure," made him a 
veritable tyrant and his tenant a very slave. This 
incessant billeting of half-savage kerne and gallow- 
glasses on farmers, which was practised by English 
and Irish alike in Ireland, caused many freeholders 
to sell their property and betake themselves to a better 
ordered realm. While those who remained had lost 
all heart for work and interest in labour, for the fruit 
of a year's toil might be consumed by these unwel- 
come visitors in one night, and consequently " became 
idle and lookers-on, expecting the event of those 
miseries and evil times," that is, waiting like Micawber 
for something to turn up. Such a state of affairs 
made them a distinctly crafty people. 

It was probably from this oppressed class, as well 
as from the wild sons of decayed gentry that the 
three kinds of neer-do-weel, " the Horseboys, Carrows 
and Jesters," of whom Spenser writes were recruited. 
The horseboys were the predecessors of the hostlers, 
the carrows were " a kind of people who wander up 
and down to gentlemen's houses, living upon cards 
and dice, the which, though they have little or 
nothing of their own, yet they will play for much 
money, which if they win, they waste most lightly, 
and if they lose, they pay as slenderly, but make 
recompense with one stealth or another ; " while the 
jesters were " notable rogues, not only partakers of 
many stealths, but privy to many traitorous practices, 
and common news-carriers, with desire whereof you 
would wonder how much the Irish are fed, for they 
used commonly to send up and down for news, and 
if any meet with another, his second word is what 


news ? " Sir John Davis also comments upon this 
trait which he ascribes to indolence. " This idleness," 
he writes, "make the Irish the most inquisitive 
people after news of any nation in the world." Like 
the Athenians of old the Irish spent " their time in 
nothing else but either to tell or hear some new 
thing." The news-carriers, " Skelaghs " (which con- 
nected with Scelaidhe, historian) who then performed 
the office of the Morning Post and the Evening 
Telegraph, were condemned by the Statute of Kilkenny 
because they were thought to raise trouble among the 
people, but they still continued to exist. 

The poets of Spenser's time were also degraded 
by the prevailing spirit of licence and cunning so that 
they ceased to sing of themes that inspired feelings of 
virtue and honour, but rather praised the deeds 
of the lawless and the desperate and incited the 
young and foolish like Silken Thomas to similar acts 
of outrage and folly. Spenser ( View of the State of 
Ireland, p. 123) describes the hero of one of these 
political outbursts. He was no milksop, but spent 
his days in arms and valiant enterprises. He never 
ate his meat until his sword had won it. He did 
not spend his nights under his mantle in a cabin, 
but kept others awake to defend their lives, while 
the flames of their burning dwellings were his light 
by night. His music was not the harp or the soft 
lays of love, but the clash of arms and the cries 
of the terrified. At last he died, not bewailed of 
many, but causing many to wail, who had at great 
cost procured his death. In such terms which were 
thought commendatory by the Irish, this swash- 
buckler is described. 


The mantle 1 was the favourite garment among the 
Irish, as the toga was among the Romans. It served 
as a covering both by day and by night. When 
Grace O'Malley went to Elizabeth's Court she wore 
a loose mantle which completely enveloped her hand- 
some person, covered her head and concealed her 
yellow petticoat. Such a garment when gracefully 
folded make a picturesque figure. But the English 
Government regarded it askance. For, as Spenser 
writes "Any man disposed to mischief or villainy 
may under his mantle which is close-hooded over 
his head, go privily armed, without suspicion of any 
cover (his head concealed, he is unknown), neither is 
his pistol or skein (knife) seen, which he holds in 
readiness." The mantle was also a protection against 
the gnats which " doe more annoy the naked rebels, 
whilst they keep the woodes and doe more sharply 
wound them than all their enemies' swords or spears," 
and also formed an effective defence when wrapped 
several times around the left arm against a sword 
cut. Spenser, however, thought the law against the 
wearing of the Irish apparel a hardship. " And were 
there better to be had," he writes ; " yet these were 
fittest to be used as namely the mantle in travelling, 
because there be no inns where meet bedding may be 

1 On one historic occasion the mantle served as the protecting aegis of 
Ireland. It was when Turgesius the brutal Norse conqueror, demanded 
the daughter of O'Melaghlin, the King of Meath, and she was sent to 
the palace of the tyrant, accompanied by sixteen beautiful youths, dis- 
guised as women, and armed with the Irish skean. As the foreigner 
hastened to embrace the princess, her companions threw aside their loose 
gowns, and having put the attendants of Turgesius to the sword, made 
him prisoner and bound him, and a few days after the villain was thrown 
by command of the king, bound as he was into the waters of Loch 
Annin, where he embraced death. The whole story is well told in 
Keating's History of Ireland; under the date 879. 



had, so that his mantle then serves him for his bed. 
Then the leather jacket, in journeying and camping, 
for that is fittest to be under his shirt of mail and to 
cover his trouse (trousers) on horseback." 

Although he seems to have admired the saffron- 
coloured skirts and mantles which the Irishmen wore, 
and which has been duly proscribed by Act of Parlia- 
ment, Spenser had no weakness whatever for the 
glibbs or hideous bush of hair often dragged down 
over the brow and serving effectually to conceal his 
features ; and which was so " monstrously disguising " 
that a man's thievish face would hardly be discovered. 
The glibbs was not only cultivated for the purpose of 
disguise, but also for the sake of defence. Spenser 
remarks that the Irish went " to battle encased with 
armour, trusting to their thick glibbs which they say 
will sometimes bear off a good stroke." 

The same writer in his View of the State of Ireland 
describes the Irish horseman comparing his armour 
and array with that of Sir Topas, knight and slayer 
of giants, whose complexion was like scarlet and 
whose hair was like saffron. 

The passage in the Canterbury Tales is worthy of 
citation : 

He worthe x upon his steede gray, 
And in his hand a launcegay 
A long sword by his side. 

He didde 3 next his white lere 
Of cloth of lake 4 fine and clear, 

A breech and eke a shirt ; 
And next his shirt an haketon, 6 
And over that an habergeon, 8 

1 Was mounted. 2 lance. 8 donned. * lawn. 5 a quilted 
jacket. 6 breastplate (hauberk), 


For ! piercing of his heart : ' 
And over that a fine hauberk, 2 
Was all y- wrought of Jewes' werk, 

Full strong it was of plate. 
And over that his coat-armour. 3 

With reference to this description, Spenser writes : 
" You may see the very fashion and manner of the 
Irish horseman most truly set forth in his long hose, 
his riding shoes of costly cord waine, his hacqueton 
(or doublet), and his habergeon (coat of mail), with 
all the rest thereunto belonging." And " the furniture 
of his horse, his strong brass bit, his sliding reins, his 
shank-pillion (or saddle-pad) without stirrups, his 
manner of mounting, his fashion of riding, his charging 
of his spear aloft above his head, and the form of his 
spear" all these Spenser declares were introduced 
by Englishmen into Ireland. There is, however, one 
point of resemblance between the Irish horseman and 
the gallant Sir Topas of Chaucer which escapes the 
keen eye of Spenser : 

The colour of the knight's hair- 
His hair, his beard were like saffron. 

Saffron was the colour of the Irish horseman's 
shirt. This deep yellow colour seems to have been the 
national colour of the Emerald Isle. 

Spenser also seems rather partial to the Irish 
woman's dress ; and among other portions of femi- 
nine millinery speaks of " their long-slieved smocks, 
their half-slieved coats and their silken fillets," 
for which "they will devise some colour either of 
necessity or of antiquity or of comeliness.'' He also 
alludes to a peculiar kind of head-dress " the great 

1 to prevent. 2 coat of mail. 3 knight's tunic, bearing his coat of arms. 


linen roll which they wore round their head," which may 
have been the predecessor of the white lace-frilled caps 
much affected by our great-grandmothers, and worn 
even in our times. It is not so long ago that two 
ancient dames in the King's County had a small 
argument which was concluded by one seizing the 
white cap of the other, dragging it from off her grey 
hairs and tearing the ruffles, of which there were 
many yards, in pieces ! 

Campion (1571) gives an interesting description of 
the dress and appearance of the people. " Clean 
men they are or skin, a red hue," he writes, c; but of 
themselves careless. The women are well-favoured, 
clean-coloured, fair-handed, big and large, suffered 
from their infancy to grow at will." He goes on to 
say that " Linen shirts the rich do wear for wanton- 
ness and bravery, with wide-hanging sleeves, plaited, 
thirty yards are little enough for one of them. They 
have now left their saffron and learned to wash their 
shirts." "Proud are they," he remarks, "of long- 
crisped glibbes and do nourish the same, with all their 
cunning, to crop the front thereof they take it for a 
notable piece of villainy." In another passage he 
says " Some of them be richly plated, their ladies 
are trimmed rather with massive jewels than with 
garish apparel and it is considered a beauty in them 
to be tall, round and fat." 

In the tale of Etain, preserved in an eleventh century 
MS. we have a fair representation of the Irish ideal 
of beauty in the early times. The maiden's arms 
were " as white as the snow of a single night, and 
each of her cheeks were as rosy as the foxglove. 
Even and small were the teeth in her head, and they 


shone like pearls. Her eyes were as blue as a hyacinth, 
her lips delicate and crimson; very high, soft, 
and white were her shoulders. Tender, polished, 
and white were her wrists, her fingers long and of 
great whiteness ; her nails were beautiful and pink. 
White as snow, or as the foam of the wave was her 
side ; long was it, slender, and soft as silk. Smooth 
and white were her thighs; her knees were round 
and firm and white ; her ankles were as straight as 
the rule of a carpenter. Her feet were slim and as 
white as the ocean's foam ; evenly set were her eyes ; 
her eyebrows were of a bluish black, such as ye 
see upon the shell of a beetle. Never a maid fairer 
than she or more worthy of love till then seen by 
the eyes of men." It would be difficult to find a 
more beautiful description of a beautiful woman than 
this description of Etain in Dr. Leahy's Romance of 
Ireland. There is a delicate and subtle refinement, 
an aloofness from the sensual which makes one 
think of a classic statue in pure and polished alabaster. 
The ladies and gentlemen of the olden time gave 
much attention to their nails. Crimson-coloured 
nails were affected. " I shall not crimson ray nails," 
wails the unhappy Deirdre. While they dyed their 
eyebrows black, and carefully combed out their long 
tresses which were often elaborately curled. Their 
garments were of many bright colours and their 
girdles richly ornamented. The people seemed thus 
to be most careful of their persons and appearance. 
The gentle courtesy of Cuchullin and Ferdia at the 
Ford of Ferdia (Ardee) when these mortal foes kissed 
each other before fighting, spoke words of kindness 
and gentleness to each other during the intervals of the 


fight, and exchanged healing ointments for their 
wounds, is also a proof that the sentiment of chivalry 
was as purely expressed in the noblest Irish life as it 
was at the court of King Arthur. It is a great shock 
to one's feelings to pass from these high, refined 
standards of life to the pages of Fynes Moryson (1600) 
and to read his charges of barbarity, indecency, 
drunkenness and uncleanness against the Irish. 

He tells us the Irish " eat no flesh but that which 
dies of disease or otherwise of itself." He says "even 
the lords and their wives drink at home till they be 
drunk as beggars," and speaks of the " nasty filthiness 
of the nation in general." The only word of praise 
for ought Irish to be found in his pages is for Irish 
whiskey "The Irish aqua vitae, vulgarly called 
usquebaugh, is held the best in the world of that 
kind, which is made also in England, but nothing so 
good as that which is brought out of Ireland." He 
seems to have been a connoisseur in this subject, for 
he says the usquebaugh is preferred before our aque 
vitae, " because the mingling of raisins, fennel-seed, 
and other things mitigating the heat and making the 
teeth pleasant makes it less aflame." And the only 
touch of humour in his description of filth and foul- 
ness, in which he revels ad nauseam, is his picture of 
some Irish, who had obtained possession of some 
sumpter horses, and found in the baggage " soap and 
starch carried for our laundresses, but they thinking 
them some dainty meats did eat them greedily, and 
when they stuck in their teeth bitterly cursed the 
gluttony of us English churls, for so they term us." 
We do not go to Whitechapel to see how 
the English live; we cannot believe that these 


pictures are a fair representation of Irish life in those 

But to pass on to more agreeable topics, Spenser 
had much to say in praise of the skill and courage of 
these wild Irish troops the martial predecessors of 
the Dublin Fusiliers. " I have heard," he says, " some 
great warriors say that in all the services which they 
had "seen abroad in foreign countries, they never saw 
a more comely man than the Irishman, nor that 
cometh on more bravely in his charge ; neither is his 
manner of mounting unseemly though he lacks 
stirrups, but more ready than with stirrups, for in his 
getting up his horse is still going whereby he gaineth 

With regard to their vigour and endurance he says 
" Yet sure they are very valiant and hardy, for the 
most part great endurers of cold, labour, hunger 
and all hardness ; very active and strong of hand ; 
very swift of foot ; very vigilant and circumspect in 
their enterprises ; very present in perils ; very great 
scorners of death." It is remarkable that the greatest 
compliment an Irishman can be paid in our day is to 
be assured that he is "a very hardy fellow," hardy 
implying vigour, build, as well as courage, and that 
the characteristic of the northern nations of Europe, 
especially noticed by Lucan in the first century of 
our era, was this scorn of death, which helped the 
Irishman to bear himself with courage and to make 
" as worthy a soldier as any nation he meeteth with." 
Gainsford's Glory of England, published in 1618, in- 
forms us that " the name of galliglas is in a manner 
extinct, but that of kern is in great reputation, as 
serving them in their revolts and proving sufficient 


souldiers but excellent for skirmish," and that they 
the Irish are desperate in revenge, " and their kerne 
thinke no man dead untill his head be off." 

Those who are interested in the revival of the Irish 
language which Campion says he finds it solemnly 
avouched in some of their pamphlets that Gathelus, 
and after him Simon Brecke, devised it out of all 
other tongues then extant in the world ! will find 
much to commend in Spenser's remarks on the sub- 
ject. It is well known that his royal mistress, Elizabeth, 
was keen on the study of the language, and the trans- 
lation of the Scriptures into Celtic for which she 
actually provided the type, much to the disgust of 
Lord Cecil, her adviser, who asked if she considered 
a language worthy of preservation in which such an 
expression as " Di dav duv uv ooh " 1 could be found. 
As a set-off against this story, there is that recorded 
by Camdem of the Irish chieftain who refused to 
learn English because it made them make wry mouths 
when trying to speak it. " It is unnatural," wrote 
Spenser, "that any people should love another's 
language than their own," and quotes the Scripture 
" for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth 
speaketh," which he applies to the case of the Irish 
tongue speaking the things in the Irish heart, for 
words are the " image of the mind." 

Should any carp at Spenser's short and easy method 
with the rebels and his occupation of the then charm- 
ingly situated demesne of Kilcolman in the county 
of Cork, let them not forget this plea for the Irish 
language which was unpopular in his time with his 

1 T)it tMb, otib, ub, oni (sounds dih dav duv uv ovh) a black ox 
ate a raw egg. 


set, and let them remember that one of the most 
glorious and high-souled poems the literary world 
has ever read " The Faerie Queen " " the wild 
fruit which salvage soil hath bred," was written on 
Irish soil, " far from Parnassus Mount," in full view 
of the grand old mountains of Kerry and in the 
breezes of the Galty More " the Mountains of Mole " 
and in the inspiring vicinity of the modern town 
of Buttevant, then known as Kilnamullagh, or the 
church of the hills. This Spenser, however, explained 
as the church of the Mulla, his name for the little 
river Arobeg that flowed murmuringly past his castle 
walls and by whose waters the poet was wont to 
court the Muse. To it he alludes in the lines 

It giveth name unto that ancient cittie, 
Which Kilnemulla clepped is of old. 

From his house at Kilcolman the poem containing 
these lines, " Colin Clout's Come Home Again," 
was sent to Sir Walter Raleigh on December 27th, 
1591. From his affectionate allusions we see that 
the poet loved the Irish hills " Old Father Mole " 
among them, and woods and rivers of which he 
gives a list in Faerie Queen, Book IV., Canto XL, 
and in Colin Clout. And from his pathetic descrip- 
tion of the natives, we learn how he pitied them. 
He tells us that after a short campaign, the inhabitants 
of Munster were brought to such wretchedness that 
any stony heart would rue the same ; " out of every 
corner of the woods and glens they came, creeping 
forth upon their hands, for their legs could not bear 
them. They looked like anatomies of death ; they 
spoke like ghosts crying out of the graves. They did 


eat the dead carrions where they did find them, yea 
and one another soon after, in as much as the very 
carcases they spared not to scrape out of their graves ; 
and if they found a plot of watercresses or shamrocks, 
there they thronged to a feast for a time, yet not able 
to continue there withall ; that in a short space there 
were none almost left." 

Such a picture, pitiful and revolting, reminds us 
of what we have read ourselves, and our fathers have 
told us, of the terrible potato famine of last century, 
when the "ruthless Saxon" sought to alleviate the 
miseries of those who could not help themselves. 
This picture must not, however, be regarded as repre- 
sentative, but as local. We are not surprised to learn 
that Spenser never recovered from the shock of that 
fatal day in October, 1598, when the Munster hills- 
men plundered and burned his castle to the ground, 
and with it a beloved child and many a precious manus- 
cript. It was his death-blow dealt by the people he 
pitied, and in the land he loved, and from which he 
drew the imagery of his poetical landscapes. 

Spenser often throws an interesting light upon some 
old-standing custom of the natives. For instance, 
when writing of their manner of moving about with 
their cattle from one mountain pasture to another, 
he says " There is one use among them to keepe 
their cattle, and to live themselves the most part of 
the yeare in boolies, pasturing upon the mountains 
and waste, wilde places, and removing still to fresh 
land as they have depastured the former." The 
word booley is evidently the Irish buaile, a place 
where a cow (bo) is kept or milked. He sees in this 
custom a trace of Scythian origin, for the Scythians 


used to live with their herds, and, like the Irish, on the 
milk of their flocks ; but he disapproves of it for the 
reason that they who lived among cattle could never 
rise above a state of barbarism, and their boolies often 
became the refugees of outlaws and the receptacles of 
stolen kine. 

Spenser also compares the Irish style of weapons 
and mode of warfare, marriage, dancing, singing and 
burying with the Scythian, With regard to their 
mode of burying, Campion in his History of Ireland 
says "They follow the dead corpses to the grave 
with bowlings and outcryes, pitifull in apparence, 
whereof grew (as I suppose) the proverbe ' to weepe 
Irish." 5 It is not improbable that the Irish caoinan, 
or lamentation for the dead, was derived from the 
East. The Jews, we know, practised this custom to 
increase the sadness of their funeral solemnities. The 
funeral corteges of the Greeks were preceded or 
followed by women called Threnodoi, playing mourn- 
ful strains on the flute ; while the praeficae, or mourn- 
ing women, who sang the Naenia, were a prominent 
feature of the Roman obsequies. David's lament 
over Saul, the Persian chorus in the Persae, the 
Carthaginian wail for Dido, and the Scotch Coronach, 
" He is gone on the mountain," remind one of the 
Irish caoinan ; while the Ulooloo, the burden of the 
chorus, is identical with the Latin ululo, and the Greek 
ololuzo. In an account of a caoine in Ireland written 
many years ago, the dirge was described as beginning 
with the words " Ulooloo, why did you die ? It was 
not for want of good living. You had plenty of potatoes 
and meal . . ." The refrain of all these caoines 
seem to have been " Ulooloo, why did you die ? " 


Camden tells us that even before death " certain 
women, hired to lament, stand at the joining of the 
cross-roads, and spreading out their hands, call on the 
dying man with certain outcries fitted for the nonce ; 
and as if they would stay the soul as it laboured to 
free itself from the body, recount all his wordly wealth 
and enjoyment. They tell him of his wife, of his 
personal beauty, of his fame, of his kinsfolks, his 
friends and his horses. They then demand of him 
why he will depart ; and whither ; and to where he 
is going ? They expostulate with the soul, accusing 
it of unthankfulness ; and tell it with piteous wailing, 
that it is now about to leave the body to go to hag- 
gish women, who appear by night and in darkness." 

Spenser refers to these wailings for the dead in an 
interesting passage in which he attempts to establish 
the Scythian origin of the custom. " There are other 
sorts of cryes," he writes, " also used among the 
Irish, which savour greatly of the Scythian barbarisme. 
as their lamentations at their buryals, with dispairfull 
out-cryes, and immoderate waylings, the which M. 
Stanihurst might also have used for an argument to 
prove them Egyptians. For so in Scripture it is 
mentioned that the Egyptians lamented for the death 
of Joseph. Others think this custome to come from 
the Spaniards, for that they do immeasurably likewise 
bewayle their dead. But the same is not proper 
Spanish, but altogether heathenism, brought in 
thither first either by the Scythians or the Moores 
that were Africans, and long possessed that country. 
For it is the manner of all pagans and infidels to be 
intemperate in their waylings of their dead, for that 
they had no faith nor hope of salvation. And this 


ill custome also is especially noted by Diodorus 
Siculus, to have been in the Scythians and is yet 
among the Northerne Scots at this day, as you may 
reade in their chronicles." 

This " ill custome " and " the wake " must be 
regarded as present survivals of Paganism, for Chris- 
tianity has taught us " not to sorrow as those who 
have no hope for those who sleep in Christ." The 
Celtic heart clings to old customs for fear of giving 
offence to something invisible, and of meeting with 
bad luck in consequence. 

The caoinan can, however, not be said to be alto- 
gether rhyme without reason, if we may judge from 
the elaborate account given of it by Miss Beaufort in 
" The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy," in 
which she describes the relations and the caoiniers 
ranging themselves in two divisions, one semi-chorus 
at the head and the other at the feet of the corpse, 
and the two choruses chanting to the accompaniment 
of the harp their doleful verses in answer to each 
other, and at the conclusion of each stanza uniting in 
a general chorus. The verses were of four lines, con- 
sisting of four feet each, and the subject of the song 
was the greatness and many virtues of the deceased 
who was often addressed. Some of these rhyming 
women were skilful and much sought after, and made 
quite a good thing out of their gloomy profession. 
And as the funeral procession moved forth to the 
distant cemetery it was joined by every passer by, 
who also lifted up his voice and wept, even though he 
had no acquaintance with the deceased, in order to 
show his sympathy with those who were weeping. 
This custom has not altogether died out, but though 


it is considered correct form in the country to turn 
back and follow any funeral one meets for some dis- 
tance, the habit of howling has fortunately been 
abandoned. It was indeed rather strange, as octo- 
genarians relate, to see people howling to their hearts' 
content, and then indifferently inquiring who was 
being buried. 

Arrived at the cemetery the procession of relatives 
and criers, whose spirits all through these doleful 
proceedings have been sustained with spirituous 
liquors, walked three times round it chanting the 
Creed. But during the interment the caoine with its 
mournful cadences and clapping of hands was resumed. 
After this fashion the Irish for many centuries used to 
bury their dead. The last occasion on which the 
writer knows of such a caoine was that raised in 
Valentia by the Irish women in honour of the beloved 
rector of that island. Very solemn and weird indeed 
must the voices of lamentation have sounded as the pro- 
cession of boats moved slowly over the waters. The 
same custom prevails to this day in Palestine where, as 
Thompson says, " they weep, howl, beat their breasts, 
and tear their hair according to contract. But flute- 
players varied the monotous dirge in several house- 
holds," i 

Spenser, Jn his desire to establish a connection 
between the Irish and the Scythians, falls back on such 
authorities as Olaus Magnus, Solinus, and lo Bohemus I 
He rejects the Spanish origin of the Irish as an absurd 
theory, partly, we think, from conviction and partly 
because of the Elizabethan Englishman's hatred of 
Spain; and declares that the Irish act foolishly in 

1 Cantabat moestis tibia funeribus, Ov., Fast VI. 


trying "to ennoble themselves by wresting their 
auncientry (ancestry) from the Spaniard, as of all 
nations under heaven, the Spaniard is most mingled 
and most uncertain." 

He also waxes indignant with M. Stanihurst for 
endeavouring to derive the Irish from the Egyptians 
who came into our island under the leadership of 
Scota, and who in all their battles used to call upon 
the name of Pharaoh, crying " Ferragh, Ferragh." 
What an interesting discussion M. Stanihurst would 
have carried on with the holders, if there were any in 
his day, of the British-Israel theory ! He and they 
might possibly have lost themselves in an " Egyptian 
darkness." With regard to this battle cry " Ferragh 
Ferragh," Spenser declares that many Irishmen were 
called by the name of Ferragh, which he derived from 
the Scotch Fergus. And in his Faerie Queen, iv. 2, 
he immortalized the name which may be preserved in 
the Irish Forrach or Farrach or meeting-place as in 
Forrach-mach n Amhalgaidh (the assembly place of 
Awley's tribe) by introducing a knight, " Sir Ferraugh " 
who had carried off the false Florimell from Bragga- 
docio and who lost her to Sir Blandamour, who 
unhorsed him in a sudden onset. 

Among the Scythian customs adopted by the Irish 
he mentions the " loose jiggs ; " so that to please 
Spenser we should have in future to speak of Scythian 
jigs instead of Irish reels. He also derived from 
Scythia the Irish custom of calling on their captain's 
name in battle, for example, the O'Neills shouting 
" Laundarg-abo," that is the bloody hand, the O'Briens 
" Laund-laider," or the strong hand, as they came to 
close quarters with their foes. 


And describing the Irish mode of fighting, he 
writes : " Their confused kinde of march in heapes, 
without any order or array, their clashing of swords 
together, their fierce running upon their enemies, and 
their manner of fight, resembleth altogether that which 
is read in histories to have been used by the 

He then passes on to another sphere the super- 
stitious practices of both nations to establish their 
connexion. He says that the common oath of the 
Scythians was by the sword and by fire, 1 and that the 
Irish were accustomed when going to battle to " say 
certain prayers or chants to their swords, making a 
cross there with upon the earth and thrusting the points 
of the blades into the ground ; thinking thereby to 
have the better successe in fight." He also says that 
the Irish use commonly to swear by their swords and 
at the kindling of fire and lighting of lamps to say 
certain prayers and use superstitious rites which prove 
that they venerate the fire and the light like the 
northern nations. The Scythians concluded solemn 
compacts by drinking a bowl of blood together, and 
the Northern Irish did the same. 

But while insisting on the Scythian origin of the 
great mass of the people, he acknowledges that some 
of Spanish descent were found on the Southern and 
Western coasts of Ireland, which were frequently 
visited by strangers "repayring thither for trafficke 
and for fishing, which is very plentifull upon these 
coasts." And among the Spanish customs he mentions 
the wearing of the moustache. " This," he says, " was 
the auncient manner of the Spaniard, as yet it is of 

1 Lucian hath ' by the sword and by the wind.' 


all the Mahometans to cut off all their beards close 
save onelie their moustachios which they wear long." 
This custom, he says, was due to the fact that hair on 
the face was found unpleasant in warm countries ; 
while on the contrary the northern nations wore all 
their hair on head and face, and therefore " the 
Scythians and Scottes wore glibbes to keep their 
heads warm and long beards to defend their faces 
from cold. And as amongst the old Spaniards the 
Irish women have the management of all household 
affairs both at home and abroad, ride on the wrong 
side of the horse, and wear a deep smock sleeve. 

While from the Gauls he would derive the custom 
of drinking blood and smearing the face therewith. 
But while the Gauls drank the blood of their enemies, 
the Irish drank the blood of their friends. At the 
execution of one Morrogh O'Brien he saw, he tells 
us, an old woman who was his foster mother taking 
up his head and sucking the blood that flowed there- 
from, saying that the earth was not worthy of it ; and 
also steeping her face and breast in the blood, and 
tore her hair crying out and shrieking most terribly. 
Campion remarks that Solinus said that the Irish were 
wont to embrue their faces in the blood of their slain 
enemies in order to seem terrible and martial. 

Spenser also alludes to the Irish custom of holding 
assemblies upon a rath or hill, which he says they 
held in order to discuss wrongs between township and 
township and one private person and another. He 
alleges that " these round hills and square bawnes 
which you see so strongly trenched and thrown up " 
which we know as raths and forts were folkmotes 
or meeting places for the people, and that many 



villainous deeds have been wrought, and many Eng- 
lishmen and good Irish subjects murdered at the 
same meeting-places. " For the Irish never come to 
those raths but armed, whether on horse or foot, which 
the English nothing suspecting are there commonly 
taken at advantage like sheep in the pen-fold." We 
presume the long mantle was a complete concealment 
for their weapons and the long glibbs hanging over 
the eyes afforded a perfect cover for their evil 

Spenser suggests that the round hills were cast up 
by the Danes as forts for their protection in each 
quarter of the cantred so that in case of any sudden 
alarm they might betake themselves thereto, and that 
the other bawns which were "foure square, well- 
entrenched," were built by the Saxons for parley and 
discussion. Other mounds, cairns and stone monu- 
ments, according to him, mark the scene of some 
battle or burial ; and with regard to the gigantic 
dolmens and cromlechs which in his time were called 
" Giants' Trevetts," because it was thought that no 
one but giants could have raised them into their 
present position, it is interesting to note that even 
in his day there was much discussion over these then 
remains of prehistoric man, and that some went so 
far as to deny that they had been placed there by 
man's hand or art, " but only remained there so since 
the beginning and were afterwards discovered by the 
deluge and laide open as then by the washing of the 
waters or other like casuality." The latter suggestion 
quoted by Spenser is not very remote from the theories 
of inland sea and glacier, which are said to explain 
certain strange marks of men's hands and animals' 


feet which have been found imprinted on many of the 
stones in Ireland. 

But these and kindred subjects have been discussed 
in Celtic Tvpes of Life and Art, and I shall not, 
therefore, weary my readers further than to invite 
them to make personal researches in the history of 
Irish life and customs which will indubitably prove 
as instructive as interesting. 


THE following is a short glossary of difficult legal terms in these and 
other chapters, most of which are Irish : 

Bieng (Irish), a bribe given to the Brehon for his favour in settling 
disputes, in the State Papers of the period means money, cattle or 
horses given to the lords marchers or their followers to secure favour ; 
Black-rent, a bribe paid by English to Irish neighbours to abstain from 
plunder (Black-mail in Scotland) ; Bonacht also bonogh, Irish buana, 
billeted soldier, and bunadh, a soldier ; O'Reilly gives buanacht, free 
quarters for soldiers ; Bonneh or Boyne, the same as coin in coyne 
and livery, bonn is Irish for groat, exaction for maintenance of the 
lords, gallowglasses or kerne, also bonagium ; Byerahe, a quarterly 
exaction by the lord on persons living under his jurisdiction ; caanes (Ir. 
cain, tribute), ransom for murder, theft or felony, also a fine for not giving 
he lord the pre-emption ; Coyne (Ir. coinnimh entertainment) generally 
coyne and livery, free quarters for man and horse, livery is the English 
word for deliver ; also coyne and foy ; also coine ban ; Cuddee (Ir. 
cudoich, night's portion) ; also cody, night's supper taken by the lord 
for himself and retinue ; kyntroisk, a forfeiture of a beef or animal for 
refusing coin and livery, probably from Irish cain, fine and truscad, 
fasting, a fine for having made the soldiers fast ; mertyeght, ex- 
action of meat, drink and candles upon a visit of a great man. The 
following words refer to crime : Alterages, one of the amends for 
offences less than murder ; also meant nourishing (alo Latin, 
nourish) of a child ; garty, ransom for felony ; sault, ransom for mur- 
der or manslaughter ; slauntiagh, surety or bail ; srahe, means a 
tax ; urragh from Ir. oireacht, a clan or family ; oireachtas, meeting of 
the clans ; Regrating means buying and selling in the same fair or 
market, i 



THE plan followed in compiling these notes has 
been to deal only with those families who were 
actually resident in the county, and whose names 
appear, either as members of Parliament, High Sheriffs, 
or Grand Jurors. Owing to lack of space, it is inevit- 
able that many names must be passed over ; and since 
Mr. Hitchcock has written fully on families of native 
origin, we have dealt principally with those who, from 
time to time, have settled in the county. Most of the 
landowners, at the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, held their estates under patents of Elizabeth 
or James I., while some represented families which had 
been established from a period anterior to the formation 
of the county in 1558. The presence of French names 
may be ascribed to the fact that the Huguenot settle- 
ment of Portarlington is situated on the borders of the 
county. With few exceptions, the families of Dutch 
descent, such as Westenra, Bor, Grave, etc., derived 
from merchants who had settled in Dublin after the 
persecutions of Alva, and not, as might have been 
expected, from the adherents of King William. 

In cases where families are still represented in the 
county, we have endeavoured to outline the descent ; 


and we may be pardoned for giving rather fuller infor- 
mation about those, of whom particulars could only 
be obtained from wills and other unpublished docu- 
ments. Though no order has been adopted in 
enumerating the different families, we have chosen the 
style of a narrative, in the hope that it may lend some 
interest to a subject, which must necessarily be little 
more than a mere recitation of names and dates. 

IN the eighteenth century, as at present, the largest estate in 
the King's County, was in the possession of the Digby family. 
This great property, comprising the entire barony of Geas- 
hill, belonged to the FitzGeralds, from whom it came to 
Sir Robert Digby, of Coleshill, Warwick, on his marriage 
in 1600 with Lettice, only child of Gerald FitzGerald, Lord 
Offaly, and granddaughter of Gerald, eleventh Earl of 
Kildare. This lady, who had been created by James I. 
Baroness Offaly for life, gallantly held Geashill Castle against 
the insurgents in 1641. Her son, Robert Digby, was ele- 
vated to the peerage of Ireland in 1620 as Baron Digby, 
of Geashill, with remainder to his brothers. He was the 
ancestor of the present peer. In 1765 an earldom was 
conferred on the seventh baron, but this title has since 
become extinct. The Lords Digby, having much finer 
seats in England, have seldom resided at Geashill Castle, 
which during the greater part of the eighteenth century, 
was occupied by the agent of the estate. The Right Rev. 
Essex Digby, Bishop of Dromore, a younger brother o : f 
the first lord, was father of the Right Rev. Simon Digby, 1 
Bishop of Elphin, from whom the Digbys of Landenstown, 
Ballincurra, and other Irish branches are derived. 

Unlike the owners of Geashill, who have usually resided 
on their English estates, the Parsons family have always 
made Parsonstown their home. It was Sir Laurence 
Parsons, younger brother of Sir William Parsons, Bart., 
Lord Justice of Ireland, who first settled at Birr. The 

1 He was better known as an artist than a divine (Lecky : Ireland in 
the Eighteenth Century, Vol. I., p. 205). Some of his work in water- 
colour is in the possession of his descendant, Col. Digby, of Ballinacurra, 
Co. Westmeath. 


two brothers came to Ireland about 1590, but the male 
descendants of Sir William, who was of Bellamount, 
Co. Dublin, came to an end on the death of Richard, 
second Earl of Rosse, in 1764. 

In 1677 Sir Laurence Parsons, of Birr Castle, grandson 
of the first settler, was created a baronet. His son, Sir 
William Parsons, many years M.P. for King's County, died 
in 1740, and was succeeded by his grandson, Sir Laurence 
Parsons, third baronet, who augmented the family fortunes 
by his marriage with Mary, elder daughter and co-heiress 
of William Sprigge, of Cloonivoe, King's Co. (by Catherine, 
daughter of Edward Denny, of Tralee, Co. Kerry, M.P.). 
Sir William Parsons, fourth baronet, M.P. for the King's 
County, who succeeded his father, Sir Laurence, in 1749, 
was High Sheriff, 1779, and long fcvreman of the Grand Jury. 
He took a prominent part in the Volunteer movement, 
and held a great review at Woodfield, near Birr, besides 
raising a corps called the Parsonstown Loyal Independents. 
In 1792 Laurence Parsons-Harman, M.P. for Longford, 
Sir William's half-brother, who had inherited Newcastle, 
Co. Longford, from his mother's family, the Harmans, 
was raised to the peerage of Ireland as Baron Oxmantown, 
being advanced in 1806 to the Earldom of Rosse, with 
remainder, in default of male issue, to his nephew, Sir 
Laurence Parsons, fifth baronet, of Birr Castle. Lord Rosse 
died in 1807, when the earldom devolved on his nephew 
according to the limitation, while the Newcastle estates 
were inherited by his only child Frances, wife of Robert 
King, first Viscount Lorton, grandfather of Colonel 
Wentworth King-Harman, now of Newcastle. Laurence, 
second Earl of Rosse, who represented King's County and 
the University in Parliament, was father of William, third 
earl, the celebrated astronomer, and great-grandfather of 
the present peer. 

Charleville Forest, now the seat of the Lady Emily Bury, 
was at the beginning of the eighteenth century the residence 
of the Forth family. It was then called Redwood, and 
James Forth, who had succeeded to the estate at the 
decease of his father, John Forth, in 1680, was High Sheriff 
in 1711, and represented the county in Parliament, 1713-14. 
James Forth left no male issue, and soon after his death, 
Charles Moore, second Lord Moore, and proprietor of the 


town of Tullamore, removed from Croghan in this county 
to Redwood, which he named after himself, Charleville. 
He was Muster Master-General in Ireland, and was elevated 
to the Earldom of Charleville in 1758, but dying with- 
out issue in February, 1764, his titles became extinct. 
His estates devolved on his widow for life, and at her death 
in 1779 came to his grand-nephew, Charles William Bury, 
then a minor, the only child of John Bury, of Shannon 
Grove, Co. Limerick, whose mother had been the earl's 
only sister. Charles William Bury, of Charleville, sometime 
M.P. for Kilmallock, was created in 1797 Baron Tullamore, 
in the peerage of Ireland, and subsequently advanced to 
the dignities of Viscount and Earl of Charleville. These 
titles became extinct on the death of the fifth earl in 1875, 
when the estates devolved on the present owner, the Lady 
Emily Howard-Bury, a daughter of the third earl. 

After the death of Charles Moore, Earl of Charleville, 
in 1764, his widow removed to Dublin, while Charleville 
was occupied by Capt. Thomas Johnston, whose name is 
found on the Grand Jury for several years subsequently. 
It was while on a visit to the Johnstons at Charleville that 
Dr. Pocock, Bishop of Meath, who attained some eminence 
as an author and traveller, died of apoplexy in September, 
J 765- Johnston's sister, Eliza, married in 1745 George 
Stoney, of Greyfort, Co. Tipperary, and through this 
marriage Emell Castle, which had been purchased by the 
Johnstons from Richard Carroll in 1782, has at length 
devolved on its present possessor, Johnston Thomas Stoney, 
now of Emell Castle. 

Though the name is now unknown the family of Lyons 
held for over 150 years a prominent position in the county. 
Captain William Lyons was one of the settlers of James Ts. 
time, and his possessions comprised Killeen and part of 
the great wood of Fercall. The estate of Clonarrow, after- 
wards called River Lyons, had been the seat of Geoffrey 
Philips, who died in 1601, leaving, with other issue, two 
sons, Henry and Colley. As the names Colley, Geoffrey, 
Philips and Henry are found in the pedigree of the Lyons 
family, we may presume that they acquired that estate by 
marriage with a Philips. 

Charles Lyons, of Killeen, High Sheriff, 1663, married 
Margaret, daughter of Thomas Moore, of Croghan, M.P 


and died, 1694. John Lyons, who purchased Ledeston, 
Co. Westmeath, in 1715, and was ancestor of the family 
seated there, was, apparently, his younger son ; Geoffrey, 
the elder, born 1654, succeeded to Killeen, was High 
Sheriff, 1693 and 1702, and married his cousin, Jane 
Moore, of Croghan. This Geoffrey had issue, three sons 
and four daughters, viz., Colley, Thomas, Philips, Anne, 
Mary, Elizabeth, and Susan, who married Thomas Nesbitt 
in 1701. 

Colley Lyons, of River Lyons, the eldest son, was some- 
time M.P. for King's County and High Sheriff, 1715. He 
married, 1706, Susanna, daughter of Elnathan Lumm, and 
died 1741, leaving a daughter, Anne, wife of Richard Cane, 
of Larabrian, Co. Kildare (by whom she had a son, Lyons 
Cane), and an only son, Henry, who succeeded his father. 

Henry Lyons, of River Lyons, many years M.P. for 
King's County and foreman of the Grand Jury, was High 
Sheriff in 1744. In the previous year he had married 
Anne, daughter of the Right Hon. George Rochfort, M.P., 
and sister of Robert, first Earl of Belvedere, by whom he 
had issue three daughters and co-heiresses : Elizabeth, 
married in 1762 Robert Barry, M.P. for Charleville; Anne, 
married John Nixon; and Henrietta, who married in 1780 
Robert Garden. Henry Lyons died at Bath in 1782, his 
wife surviving till the following year. After his death the 
house at River Lyons, which is near Philipstown, remained 
unoccupied, and has since become a ruin. Through his 
youngest daughter the property came to the Gardens, from 
whom it passed by marriage to Arthur Champagne, Esq. 

The family of Wakely, who still retain their ancestral 
home, was seated at Ballyburley as far back as 1550. Its 
representative at the beginning of the eighteenth century 
was John Wakely, M.P. for Kilbeggan, who built Bally- 
burley Church in 1686, and was High Sheriff of the King's 
County, 1695. He married Elizabeth Lambert, niece of 
the Earl of Cavan, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 
Thomas, who was High Sheriff, 1726. This Thomas 
Wakely, of Ballyburley, who died 1751, had three sons : 
John, of Ballyburley, High Sheriff, 1763, whose male 
descendants expired in 1842 ; James, who d. unm. ; and 
Francis, great-grandfather of His Honour Judge Wakely, 
the present owner of Ballyburley. 


With ramifications endless and residences innumerable, 
the Armstrong family, though still represented in the 
county, cannot be followed in detail. Their original 
ancestor came from the Scottish border, and settled in 
Fermanagh. Several of his sons established themselves in 
the King's County, Edmund at Stonestown ; Thomas, the 
third son, at Ballycumber, and Archibald, the eighth, at 
Ballylin. Edmund's heir male and representative, 
Andrew Armstrong, of Gallen Priory, many years M.P. for 
the county, and twice High Sheriff, was created a baronet 
in 1841, and the title is now enjoyed by his grandson, Sir 
Andrew Armstrong, third baronet ; while Archibald was 
ancestor of Sir George Armstrong, Bart., the well-known 
proprietor of the " Globe " newspaper, who obtained a 
similar honour in 1892. General Armstrong, who founded 
Woolwich Arsenal, was also a member of this family. 

At the Summer Assizes, 1779, no less than four 
Armstrongs were on the Grand Jury, three of them being 
named Andrew. 

Besides these branches of the one family, there were 
also the Armstrongs of Mount Heaton, who came of a 
different stock. 

Mount Heaton, near Roscrea, now Mount St. Joseph's 
Monastery, received its name from the Heatons, who were 
of Yorkshire ancestry. The Rev. Richard Heaton, of 
Mount Heaton, otherwise Balliskannagh, died in 1666, 
leaving three sons and three daughters. Edward, the 
eldest son, succeeded, but on his death in 1703, the estate 
came to his next surviving brother, Francis, who was High 
Sheriff of the King's County in 1705. Francis Heaton, of 
Mount Heaton, married, 1704, Elizabeth, daughter of 
Robert Curtis, of Inane, Co.- Tipperary, M.P., and had four 
daughters, of whom Mary,married, 1731, William Armstrong, 
of Farney Castle, Co. Tipperary. Through this marriage 
Mount Heaton came to the Armstrongs, who were not, 
however, related to the other families of that name in 
King's County, being derived from a Captain William 
Armstrong, who had settled in Co. Tipperary about 1660. 
The Rt. Hon. John Armstrong, of Mount Heaton, M.P. 
died 1791, leaving a son, William Henry Armstrong, of 
Mount Heaton, M.P., who sold that estate to the 
Hutchinsons in 1817. 


Corolanty, now the seat of Edward Francis Saunders, 
Esq., who represents the male line of that ancient family, 
formerly of Saunder's Court, Co. Wexford, and Newtown 
Saunders, Co. Wicklow, was built about 1698 by John 
Baldwin. His father, Captain John Baldwin, who belonged 
to a Warwickshire family, got a grant of lands at Shinrone, 
and was High Sheriff of King's County in 1672. John 
Baldwin, junr., High Sheriff, 1697, survived his father less 
than a year, and died in 1699, leaving, with other children, 
Thomas, his heir; Mary married, 1700, Edward Crow, of 
Spruce Hall, Co. Galway ; and Catherine married, 1 704, 
Thomas Meredyth, of Newtown, Co. Meath, M.P. 

Thomas Baldwin, who succeeded to Corolanty, was born, 
1679. and died, 1732, leaving by his wife, Mary Eyre, of 
Eyrecourt, two sons and two daughters, viz., John ; 
Thomas, who became Attorney-General of Jamaica; 
Margery, married, 1718, Charles Sadleir, of Castletown 
Co. Tipperary; and Lucy, who died, unm., in 1768. 
John Baldwin, the elder son, was of Corolanty, but, being 
extravagant, dissipated the estates, and died without issue 
in 1754. His widow soon afterwards married Hervey, 
Lord Mountmorres. 

Part of the Corolanty property came into the possession 
of Dr. Richard Baldwin, Provost of Trinity College, who 
died in 1758, leaving the whole of his large fortune to the 
University. Though his parentage has been the subject of 
some dispute, he was not in any way related either to the 
Corolanty family, the Queen's County Baldwins, or to the 
Baldwins of Dublin, who subsequently settled at Boveen, 
near Shinrone. Sir Brydges Baldwin, of Dublin, Knight, 
who died in 1765, was nephew of Richard Baldwin, of Dublin 
(died 1768), from whom the Baldwin-Hamiltons derive. 
This Richard Baldwin had an only son, Richard, of The 
Four Crosses, Co. Wicklow, High Sheriff, 1756, who was 
father of Colonel Charles Baldwin, of Boveen, High Sheriff 
of King's County, 1802. By his wife, Miss Barry (whose 
taste for acting Sir Jonah Barrington has so severely 
criticised), the only daughter of Sir Nathaniel Barry, 
Bart., the celebrated Dublin doctor, Colonel Charles 
Baldwin left an only son, Charles Barry Baldwin, of 
Boveen, M.P. grandfather of the present representative. 

The Warburtons of Garryhinch have held that estate 


since the reign of Charles II., when their ancestor, the 
original grantee, was Clerk-Assistant to the Irish House of 
Commons. His eldest son, Richard Warburton, of 
Garryhinch, was M.P. for Portarlington, 1692-1713. 
George Warburton, third son of Richard, eventually 
succeeded to the estates, and was ancestor of the present 
possessor ; while the fifth son, William, married Barbara, 
daughter of Lytton Lytton, of Knebworth, Herts, by whom 
he had a son, Richard Warburton-Lytton, of Knebworth, 
grandfather of Edward George, first Lord Lytton, the dis- 
tinguished novelist and statesman. 

Moystown, near Banagher, now the seat of Bokon 
Waller, Esq., was for nearly two hundred years the home 
of the L' Estrange family. Thomas L' Estrange, first of 
Moystown, who was included in the Act of Attainder, 
1689, represented Banagher 1692-93, 1695-99 and 1703-13. 
He married Miss Peisley, and had a son Henry, of Moys- 
town, M.P., ancestor of Colonel Henry Peisley L'Estrange, 
of Moystown, D.L., fourth of his name in lineal succession, 
who sold the estate about the middle of the last century. 
Through the marriage of Henry L'Estrange, eldest son of 
Thomas, of Moystown, with Frances Malone, of Litter, 
King's County, the Malone property came to the 
L'Estranges, and eventually descended to the late Revd. 
Savile L'Estrange-Malone. Henry Malone, of Litter, High 
Sheriff, 1720, belonged to the same family as Richard 
Malone, Lord Sunderlin, whose brother Edmond was the 
celebrated commentator on Shakespeare. Another branch 
resided at Pallas Park, in this county, once the seat of 
James Tilson, who married, in 1750, Gertrude, Dowager 
Countess of Kerry. 

The Vaughans of Golden Grove descend from Hector 
Vaughan, who hailed from Pembrokeshire. By patent, 
3oth December, 1668, he obtained a grant of part of the 
estate in King's County of Terence Coghlan, Attainted ; 
and acquired, by marriage with Mary, only daughter and 
heiress of Captain William Peisley, the estate of Golden 
Grove, otherwise Knocknamese, which has ever since re- 
mained in the possession of his descendants. William 
Peisley Vaughan. 1 who lived to a very advanced age, was 

1 His two sons, Hector and Billy Vaughan, were at Athy School in 
1718. See the " Autobiography of Pole Cosby," (recently published in 
the Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society, vol. II., p. 9)- 


High Sheriff, 1738; he was succeeded by his grandson, 
William Peisley Vaughan, who served the same office in 
1766. The male line of Vaughan became extinct in 1842, 
when the property devolved on Mary, wife of Samuel 
Dawson Hutchinson, of Mount Heaton, she being the only 
child and heiress of John Lloyd (a younger son of the 
Gloster family), by his wife, Martha Vaughan, of Golden 
Grove, and the property is now enjoyed by her son, 
William Peisley Hutchinson-Lloyd-Vaughan. Through his 
mother, Mr. Vaughan also represents the family of Lloyd, 
of Gloster, settled there for over two hundred years. For 
three generations, ending with the late Colonel Hardress 
Lloyd, members of the family represented the county in 
parliament. John Lloyd, of Gloster, Barrister-at-Law, was 
also returned in two parliaments as member for Innistiogue. 
He was Colonel of the Shinrone Volunteers, and through 
his mother, Henrietta Waller, of Castletown, county 
Limerick, descended from the Parliamentarian General, 
Sir Hardress Waller. 

The family of Nesbitt is of long standing in the county, 
descending from Albert Nesbitt, of Tubberdaly, High 
Sheriff, 1710, who was a scion of the family of Woodhiil, 
county Donegal. Gifford Nesbitt, of Tubberdaly, died in 
1773, having devised the estates to his nephew, John Down- 
ing, who assumed the name of Nesbitt, and died in 1847. 
On the death of the latter's daughter in 1886, they passed to 
her cousin, Edward John Beaumont, now Beaumont Nesbitt, 
the present possessor. 

Humphrey Minchin, of Ballynakill, county Tipperary, 
M.P. for that county, succeeded in 1686, on the death of 
his elder brother Thomas, 1 to the estate of Busherstown, 
formerly Butcherstown, where his descendants have since 
resided. On Friday, 23rd March, 1764, as recorded in the 
"London Magazine" for that year: "The house of 
Humphrey Minchin, of Bushestown, King's County, Esq., 
was broke open and robbed of cash, with several Bank 
Notes, and was afterwards set on fire, by which his Library 
and Books of account were consumed, with several papers 
of Value, and with them some Examinations of Felony, which 
were next day to have been forwarded to Clonmel Assizes ; 

1 One of his daughters married Dr. Thomas Parnell, the poet. 


and suspecting this mischief was purposely contrived to de- 
stroy the said Examinations, has offered a reward of ^50 
for the discovery of the first Person, and 10 for each of 
the others." George John Minchin, D.L., with whom the 
male line terminated, died in 1897, when the estates came 
to his nephew Captain Richard Welch, now of Bushers- 
town, who has assumed the surname and arms of Minchin. 

Cangort, originally Camgart, i.e., the marshy field, 
has been the seat of the Atkinsons since the time of 
James I. Anthony Atkinson, of Cangort, married, 1709, 
Mary, daughter of Admiral John Guy, who is said to have 
been instrumental in breaking the boom at the siege of 
Derry ; he was M.P. for St. Johnstown, 1711-13, and for 
Belfast, 1713-14, and died in 1743, leaving numerous 
issue. His eldest son having died in his lifetime, he was 
succeeded by Guy, the second, but he, being a beneficed 
clergyman in the north of Ireland, Cangort was long 
occupied by Charles, a younger son, who acted as agent for 
his brother. This Charles was ancestor of the branch now 
settled at Ashley Park, Co. Tipperary, while the present 
owner of Cangort is descended from the Rev. Guy. 
One of their sisters married Francis Sanderson, ancestor 
of the late Colonel Edward James Saunderson, of Castle 
Saunderson, M.P. 

The Bernards were a Carlow family, and the Castle 
Bernard branch descended from a Thomas Bernard, who 
settled in Birr about the middle of the eighteenth 
century. His name first appears on the Grand Jury in 
1766, and his son, Thomas Bernard, of Castletown, now 
Castle Bernard, High Sheriff, 1785, took a prominent part 
in the Volunteer movement, raising and maintaining a 
corps known as the " Mountain Rangers." Thomas 
Bernard, junr., Colonel of the King's County Militia, who 
succeeded his father in 1815, was High Sheriff in the year 
of the Irish rebellion, and long M.P. for the county. Mrs. 
Caulfield French, his granddaughter, at present owns the 
property, and the male line of Bernard is extinct. 

Like the Bernards, the Drought family came from 
Carlow, settling in the King's County towards the close of 
the seventeenth century. They resided first at Cappa- 
gowlan, otherwise Songstown, near Ballyboy. John 
Drought, of Cappagowlan, married Mary, daughter of 


Eusebius Beasley, of Ricketstown, Co. Carlow (who was 
nearly allied to the Earls of Aldborough), and had, with 
other issue, two sons, Thomas, of the Heath, otherwise 
Droughtville, ancestor of the Lettybrook family ; and 
John, who settled at Whigsborough, which had previously 
belonged to Captain James Sterling, now represented by 
the Sterling Berry family. John Drought, junr., of 
Whigsborough, was High Sheriff in 1780, and Thomas 
Drought, of Droughtville, Colonel of Volunteers, in 1789. 

The history of Leap Castle has been dealt with in another 
part of this book. Jonathan Darby, of Leap, great-grandson 
of Jonathan Darby, High Sheriff, 1674, married in 1745 
Susanna Lovett, and had issue seven sons, and a daughter 
Sarah, wife of Sir Jonathan Lovett, Bart. Several of the 
sons distinguished themselves. Admiral Sir Henry D'Esterre 
Darby, K.C.B., who succeeded to Leap on the death of his 
elder brother in 1802, commanded the " Bellerphon " at 
the Nile ; Verney Lovett Darby, Barrister-at-Law, was 
sometime M. P. for Gowran, while Christopher, the youngest 
son, attained the rank of General in the army. The present 
proprietor of Leap descends from John Darby, who suc- 
ceeded to the estate on the death of his brother, Admiral 
Darby, in 1823. 

Rathrobin, the seat of Col. M. W Biddulph, was origin- 
ally a castle of the Molloys, and doubtless owes its name 
to one Robin Molloy, The present mansion was built by 
the Biddulphs, about 1694, but greatly altered and enlarged 
by its present owner. In a Deed of ist March, 1722, be- 
tween " Francis Bidolph " and others, and Charles Sadleir, 
of Castletown, Co. Tipperary, the name is spelt " Rath 
Robin." This Francis Biddulph changed his residence to 
Fortal, near Birr, and his son, Nicholas Biddulph, of Fortal 
and Rath-robin, was High Sheriff of King's County in 
1741^. On the latter's death in 1762, the estates devolved 
on his two daughters and co-heiresses, but in 1811, by will 
of the survivor, Mrs. Bernard, of Castle Bernard, who died 
without issue, Rathrobin and Fortal came to her cousin 
Margaret, Lady Waller. Francis Harrison Biddulph, of 
Vicarstown, Queen's Co., as heir of entail immediately 
took proceedings against Sir Robert and Lady Waller, as a 
result of which he eventually succeeded to Rathrobin, while 
Fortal passed to his cousin, Nicholas Biddulph, of Congor, 


Co. Tipperary. Francis Harrison Biddulph, who married 
1797, Mary Marsh, a descendant of the saintly Jeremy 
Taylor, Bishop of Down and Connor, was grandfather of 
the present representative. 

The family of Wetherelt, now unknown in this country, 
long resided at Castletown Clonkeen, otherwise Castle 
Wetherelt. William Wetherelt, of Castletown, married 
Miss Hurd, of Lisdowney, Co. Kilkenny, and dying in 
1703, was succeeded by his eldest son, Hurd Wetherelt, 
High Sheriff, 1736. Hurd Wetherelt, of Castle Wetherelt, 
married, 1717, Frances Heighington, of Donard, Co. 
Wicklow, and had issue an only son, Vans Wetherelt, of 
Castle Wetherelt, High Sheriff, 1757, who died unmarried, 
1764, and seven daughters. Of these, Emilia, married in 
1767 John Dames, of Rathmoyle, King's County, who is 
now represented by the family of Longworth-Dames ; while 
Frances, the youngest, became the wife of the Revd. John 
Mulock, of Bellair, King's County, from whom descend the 
Homan-Mulocks, and the Hon. Sir William Mulock, 
K.C.M.G., Chief Justice of Ontario. With the close of the 
century the Wetherelts (or Wetheralls, as the name came 
to be written) sank in importance, and appear to have lost 
much of their property. Sewell Wetherelt, of Castletown, 
who married Miss Bird, of Bally-cumber, in 1779, was the 
last of the family to reside there. 

The Tarletons have resided at Killeigh for seven genera- 
tions, and are descended from Gilbert Tarleton, a native of 
Lancashire, who died at Killeigh in 1656. Sir Banastre 
Tarleton, Bart., who won such reputation during the 
American War, also came from Lancashire, and was 
doubtless one of the same stock. Digby Tarleton, of 
Killeigh, grandson of the original settler, married in 1705, 
Arabella, daughter of William Weldon, of Rahinderry, 
Queen's County, and had, with other issue, John Tarleton, 
of Killeigh, whose son, John Weldon Tarleton, was on the 
Grand Jury in 1778, and from him the present representative 
is lineally descended. 

In 1768 the name of B or is first found on the Grand 
Jury. Cornelius Bor, of Utrecht, who settled in Dublin in 
1600, was the ancestor of the Ballindoolan family, other 
branches being settled at Bor Court, Co. Dublin, and Bor- 
mount Manor, in Wexford. Christopher Bor came from 


Meath and settled at Ballindoolan, still the property of the 
descendants, about the middle of the eighteenth century ; 
he was High Sheriff of King's County in 1777, and married 
same year, Anne, daughter of Edward Loftus, of Grange, 
Co. Westmeath, by whom he had a son, Humphrey, of 
Ballindoolan, D.L., grandfather of the present proprietor. 
Christopher's brother Edward, who married Jane, daughter 
and heiress of William Peacock, of Tinny Park, otherwise 
Tinnemuck, King's County, was the Grand Juror of 1768. 
Like the Bors the family of Grave was of Dutch origin, 
and possibly derived its name from the town of Grave 
in Holland. It was the Revd. Joseph Grave who founded 
the fortunes of the family in the King's County by 
acquiring the Ballycommon property. A man of ability, 
he had been a Scholar of Trinity College ; and, in conse- 
quence of his marriage with Abigail, daughter of Right 
Revd. Simon Digby, Bishop of Elphin, obtained the 
important living of Geashill, which was in Lord Digby's 
gift. He died, Vicar-General of the Diocese, in 1743, 
leaving, with four daughters, three sons, of whom, Joseph, 
the youngest, was sometime Chaplain, 93rd Foot, and 
many years Rector of Ballycommon. 

Simon Grave, of Ballycommon, the eldest son, suc- 
ceeded his father, and was on roll for High Sheriff in 
1747 and 1748. He died suddenly in 1750, a young man 
and unmarried, when the property came to his next 
brother, William, of Ballynagar. This William Grave, who 
was fond of hunting and thriftless, married twice, and 
died, leaving several children, of whom the survivor, 
Letitia, married in 1801, Revd. Franc Sadleir, D.D., 
Provost of Trinity College ; he had previously sold Bally- 
common to Daniel Chenevix, Lt.-Colonel of the Royal 
Regiment of Artillery, in 1760. Like his wife, Miss 
Arabin, Colonel Chenevix, was of Huguenot descent ; he 
is at present represented by Henry Chenevix, J.P., King's 
County. Daniel Chenevix, of Ballycommon, was High 
Sheriff, 1764, and died in Dublin, 1776. 

The Kings of Ballylin are a branch of the Roscommon 
family of King, now represented by Sir Gilbert King, Bart., 
and appear to have settled in the King's County about 
I 7 6 5- John King, who purchased Ballylin from the 
Armstrongs, was father of John King, M.P., High Sheriff of 


King's County in 1782, who devised Ballylin to his nephew, 
Revd. Henry King. John Gilbert King, of Ballylin, only 
son of the Revd. Henry, was some time M.P., King's 
County, and died unmarried in 1901, when he was suc- 
ceeded by his nephew, Henry Louis Mahon, now of 
Ballylin, who has assumed the surname and arms of 

The family of Holmes, once resident in this county at 
Belmont, Liscloony, and Derryholmes, frequently repre- 
presented the borough of Banagher in Parliament. Peter 
Holmes, of Johnstown, Co. Tipperary, M.P. for Athlone, 
1727-31, was High Sheriff of King's County 1707, and 
grandfather of Peter Holmes, of Peterfield (Johnstown) 
some time M.P. for Banagher. George Holmes, of Lis- 
cloony, King's Co., High Sheriff, 1713, brother of the first- 
named Peter, was also M.P. for Banagher. He died in 
1731, and was succeeded in the representation of Banagher 
by his eldest son, Galbraith Holmes, High Sheriff, Co. 
Longford, 1731, and Cavan, 1737, who does not appear 
to have had a residence in King's County. 

Gilbert Holmes, of Belmont, High Sheriff, 1771, married 
in 1752, Mary Sanderson, of Castle Sanderson, and died, 
1810, leaving issue. His eldest son, Peter Holmes, was 
of Peterfield, Co. Tipperary, having inherited that estate 
by will of his kinsman, Peter Holmes, of Peterfield, 
M.P., who died in 1802; the third son, Revd. Gilbert 
Holmes, afterwards Dean of Killaloe, was grandfather of 
Major Hardress Holmes, now of St. David's, Co. Tip- 

Readingstown, now Rahan, long perpetuated the family 
of Reading, who seem to have settled there about the 
middle of the seventeenth century. John Reading, of 
Readingstown, High Sheriff, 1671, married Phoebe, 
daughter of Colonel John Otway, of Cloghonan (Castle 
Otway), Co. Tipperary, and died, 1690. Two of his sons, 
Otway and Nicholas, settled near their mother's relatives 
at Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary, while John, the eldest son, 
succeeded to the King's County estates. This John 
Reading, of Readingstown, was High Sheriff in 1 703, but 
subsequently removed his residence to Clonegown, in this 
county, having sold his Readingstown property to the 
Judge family. Exshaw's Magazine for 1757, thus notices 



the death of his widow, who survived him some ten years : 
" Died the widow of John Reading, late of Readingstown, 
King's County, sister of the Brigadier Borr." 

Arthur Judge, of Readingstown, High Sheriff, 1750, was 
the eldest son of Peter Judge, of Ballysheil, King's County, 
by his wife Mary, daughter of Nicholas Toler, of Graige 
(now Beechwood), Co. Tipperary. Peter's youngest son, 
Samuel, who succeeded his father at Ballyshiel, died in 
1813, leaving three daughters and co-heiresses, viz. : Mary, 
married, 1782, John Percy, of Ballintemple, King's County ; 
Martha married, 1783, Very Rev. Edmund Burton, Dean 
of Killaloe; and Frances, married, 1790, Thomas Mulock, 
of Kilnagarna, King's County. 

Another branch of this family resided at Gageborough 
(originally Gaichborough), and derived from John Judge, 
an elder brother of Peter, of Ballyshiel, who married, 1703, 
Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel Robert Poyntz, by Rebecca, 
daughter and heiress of John Gaich, of Gaichborough, M.D. 


Armstrong, of Gallen. 
Atkinson, of Cangort 
Baldwin, of Corolanty. 
Baldwin, of Boveen. 
Bernard, of Castle Bernard. 
Biddulph, of Rathrobin. 
Bor, of Ballindoolan. 
Bury, of Charleville. 
Champagne, of River Lyons. 
Chenevix, of Ballycommon. 
Dames, of Rathmoyle. 
Darby, of Leap. 
Digby, of Geashill. 
Drought, of Droughtville. 
Drought, of Whigsborough. 
Forth, of Redwood. 
Gaich, of Gaichborough. 
Grave, of Ballycommon. 
Heaton, of Mount Heaton. 
Holmes, of Belmont. 
Holmes, of Liscloony. 
Hutchinson, of Mount Heaton. 
Johnston, of Emell Castle. 
Judge, of Ballysheil. 

King, of Ballylin. 
L'Estrange, ofMoystown. 
Lloyd, of Gloster. 
Lyons, of River Lyons. 
Malone, of Litter. 
Minchin, of Busherstown. 
Moore, of Croghan. 
Mulock, of Bellair. 
Nesbitt, of Tubberdaly. 
Parsons, of Parsonstown. 
Peacock, of Tinnemuck. 
Peisley, of Golden Grove. 
Percy, of Ballintemple. 
Philips, of Clonarrow. 
Poyntz, of Gaichborough. 
Reading, of Readingstown. 
Sprigge, of Cloonivoe. 
Sterling, of Whigsborough. 
Tarleton, of Killeigh. 
Tilson, of Pallas. 
Vaughan, of Golden Grove, 
Wakely, of Ballyburley. 
Warburton, of Garryhinch. 
Wetherelt, of Castletown. 


Anglo-Irish, the, 58. 

Anwyl, Prof., 14. 

Archdall, Monastieon Hibernicum, 


Ard-na-h-Eirean, 32, 40. 
Argyle, 23. 
Armstrong, 247, App. 
Aryan, 14. 

Athenry, Battle of, 63. 
Athlone, 34. 
Atkinson, App. 
Athy, 23, 148. 

Badh-ruadh, 10. 

Baldwin, App. 

Banagher, 246. 

Banon, 175. 

Beltaine, 18. 

Bellingham, Sir E., 150. 

Benn Eadair, 5. 

Birmingham, 62, etc. 

Bernard, 259, App. 

Biddulph, App. 

Birr, 105, 164 sq., 186, C. XVII. 

Bit, the Devil's, 40. 

Black Monday, 101. 

Book of Rights, the, 27, etc. 

Bor, App. 

Brehon Law, 217, 269. 

Brendan, St., 165. 

Brereton, Sir William, 136. 

Brigantia, 12. 

Broghill, Castle, 173. 

Bruce, Edward, 61, 62. 

Burke, 67, 127. 

Bury, 259, App. 

Butler, Sir Piers, 97, 130. 

Butlers, The, C. VIII. 

Cambrensis, Giraldus, i, 2, n, 34, 


Camden, 5, 221. 
Campion. History of Ireland, 61, 

131, 136, 225, 276, 283. 

Captain, title of, 235. 

Carbury 76. 

Cashel, Psalter of, 5, n. 

Castle Bernard, 26. 

Castletown, 42. 

Chenevix, App. 

Clanmalire, 75. 

Clan-na-Boy, 67. 

Cloghan, 31, 247. 

Clonmacnoise, Annals, 169, 239, 241. 

Clonoony, Castle, 243. 

Clynn, Friar, 56, 61. 

Cooke, Thomas L., 26. 

Coote, Captain, 253. 

Cork, 224. 

Cosherings, p. 232. 

Cowley, 138. 

Cox, 156. 

Coyne and Livery, 59, 94, note p. 291. 

Cuddies, g4. 

Dagdha, 10. 

Dangan, 55, 144 sq., 182. 

Darby, 176, 256, 263, App. 

Dathi, 21. 

Davis, Sir John, 150, 190, 230, 272 

De Burgh, 67. 

Delvln, 243. 

Dervorgilla, 50. 

Desmond, Earl of, 69, 106, 219. 

Digby (Lord), 75, App. 

Drought, 51, 259, App. 

Drumcullen, 28. 

Dublin, 100 sq. 

Dunkerrin, 187. 

Dunkerrin Volunteers, 259. 

Dunnes, 254. 

Durrow, 35. 

Eglish, 24, 36. 
Eglish (Rangers), 259. 
Ely, O'Carroll, 42, 163. 
Emmell, 187. 

Eochaidh, 9, 17, 18, 20, 29, sq. 
Essex, Earl of, 158. 
Essus, 33. 


Fearcall, 19, 36, 171 sq. 

Felire, the, of Aengus, 7. 

Ferbane, 31. 

Five Bloods, the, 79. 

Fomorians, 6. 

Fortal, 24. 

Forth, App. 

Four Masters, The, 74,1 35, 143, 

172, 183. 
Fox, 35. 
Frankford, 174. 
Froissart, 83. 

Gaich, App. 

Gal way, town and Claddagh, 223. 

George, St., Brotherhood of, 37. 

Geashill, 16, 53. 

Geraldines, The, C. VIII. 

Gillpatrick, 44. 

Glendine, 42. 

Glossary (Cormac's), 18. 

Goidel, n, 13. 

Governors, Irish, 194 sq. 

Graves, 247, App. 

Grey, Lord Leonard, 143 sq. 

Grey, Lord, 173. 

Hanmer, Meredith, 3, 81, 206, 

Heaton, App. 

Heber, 16, 53. 

Henry VIII., State Papers of, 97. 

Heremon, 16, 53. 

Holmes, App. 

Howth, 5. 

Husbands, 94. 

Hussy (of Galtrim), 63, 106. 

Hutchinson, App. 

Ith, 12. 

John, King, 197 sq. 
Johnston, App. 
Jovantucaros, 32. 
Judge, App. 

Keating, i, etc. 
Kiaran (of Seirkieran), 18. 
Kiaran (of Clonmacnoise), 239. 
Kilcormac, 174. 

Kildare, Earls of, 69, 105, 109, 
^123 sq., C. IX., 178. 
Kilkenny, Statutes of, 58, 116. 
Killclare, 35. 

Killeigh, 39, 56, 161. 

Killoughy, 86. 

Killyon, 50. 

King, App. 

King's County, 38 sq. 

King's County Militia, 261. 

Kinneich, 8. 

Kinnetty, 7, 26, etc. 

Kinsale, 45. 

Knocktow, Battle of, 126. 

Lacy (Hugh de) 35, 57. 
Leap Castle, 176, 184. 
Leap Independents, 259. 
L'Estrange, App. 
Leinster, Book of, 98. 
Leix, 23, C. X. 
Lettybrook, 259. 
Limerick, 223. 
Lloyd, App. 

Loftus, Archbishop, 157. 
Lynally, 50. 
Lyons, App. 

Mab, Queen, 21. 

Mac Adam, 4. 

MacAuley, 175. 

MacCoghlan, 243 sq. 

Macha, 7. 

Malone, 253, App. 

Marleburrough, Chronicle of, 101, 


Maryborough, 152. 
Maynooth, Castle of, 136 sq. 
Milesians, 10 sq. 
Minchin, App. 
Moate, 218. 
Moling, St., 22. 
Monasteroris, 77, 107. 
Moneyguyrneen, 19. 
Moryson, Fynes, C. XV. 
Moore, App. 
Mountjoy, Lord, 228. 
Moustache, Laws Regarding, 92, 


Mullaghmast, 154. 
Mulock, App. 

Names, Law Regarding, in. 
Nesbitt, App. 
Norman (Settlers), 57. 


O'Carrolls, The, CC. XI.-XII. 
O'Connors, The, CC. IV.-VII. 
O'Curry, Eugene, 249. 
O'Dempsey, 22, 55, 75. 
O'Dugan, 25, 42, 164. 
Offaly, 16, 35, C. X. 
Ogygia, 5. 
Ogygia, The, 17. 
O'Heerin, 55, 75. 
O'Madden, 52, 245 sq. 
O'Moore, 23, 65. 
O'Mulloy, C. XI. 
O'Neill, 45, 127, 220. 
O'Reilly (Irish Diet), 17. 
Ormonde, Earls of, 101, 105. 
Ossory, Gillpatrick of, 43. 
O'Tooles, 71. 
Oxburgh, 257. 

Pale, Defence of, C. XIII. 
Parliament, Irish, 112 sq. 
Parsons, 251 sq., App. 
Parthalon, 5. 
Peacock, App. 
Peisley, App. 
Petrie, 28. 
Petty, 267. 
Philips, App. 
Philipstown, 55, 152. 
Pipe Rolls, 190. 
Poynings, Sir E., 37, 116. 
Poyntz, App. 
Preston, General, 253 sq. 

Rath Crochan, 21. 
Reading, App. 
Richard II., C. V. 
Richey, Prof. A. C, 98. 
Rokeby (Sir Thomas) 72. 
Rolleston, 259. 
Ros Failge, 54. 
Rosse, Earl of, 263. 

Saffron, 59, 274. 
Savage, Sir Henry, 71. 
Seffin, 34, 165. 
Silancia, 247. 

Simnel, Lambert, 114. 

Sinchellus, 86. 

Skeffington, Sir William, 136. 

Sliabh Beatha, 5. 

Sliabh Bladma (Slieve Bloom), 7 sq. 

15, 164. 
Slieve Mis, 15. 
Solinus, I. 

Spenser, 2, 42, 61, C. XVIII. 
Sprigge, App. 
Stanihurst, I, 2, 131, 287. 
St. Leger, 148. 
Sterling, App. 
Stoney, 263. 
Surrey, Earl of, 109. 
Synge, 250. 

Taillte Tailltenn (Telltown), 9. 

Tallaght, 6. 

Tarleton, App. 

Theiner, vetera monumenta, p. 209. 

Thomas, Silken, C. IX. 

Thomastown, 16. 

Tighernach, 241, 249. 

Tilson, App. 

Treasury, The Irish, 190. 

Tlachtga, 32. 

Tuatha-de-Danann, 8 sq. 

Tullamore, 75. 

Turgesius, 241. 

Ufford, Sir R., 69, 70. 

Vaughan, App. 

Vintios, 10. 

Volunteer, Movement, 258 sq. 

Wakefield Green, 92. 
Wakely, App. 
Waller, 262. 
Warbeck, Perkin, 115. 
Warburton, App. 
Ware, Annals of, 132. 
Wetherelt, App. 
Woolsey, Cardinal, 131. 

York, Richard Duke of, 104. 


By the same Author. 

Lord's Last Passion. SKEFFINGTON & SON. 

The Guardian. 

A carefully written narrative of the events of Holy. Week. . . 
which will serve for religious reading at any time, . . of con- 
siderable expository service. 

Irish Times. 

Scholarly and devotional, practical and critical. . . stimulat- 
ing and suggestive. . . a valuable help to the clergy in their work 
of preparation. 

National Church. 

Much freshness of treatment, with evidence of careful study, . . 
a volume which all can read and benefit by. 

East and West. 

A scholarly and devout examination of all the events of the 
Great Week. . . We feel the writer is an honour to the Church 
of Ireland. The book is full of information and of sound teaching 
conveyed in a beautiful spirit. 

Church Family Newspaper. 

Deeply reverent, both orthodox and critical. . . alike for 
personal study and help in teaching, this volume will be found a very 
valuable aid. 

Church of England Pulpit. 

Written in a graphic style and is well worth reading. 

Church of Ireland Gazette. 

A solid contribution to the cause of sacred literature. 


The Guardian. 

An excellent account of the surroundings, the writings, the 
teaching and the life of a truly lovable man. . . Among many well 
arranged topics are the account of Alexandria, Clement's relation 
towards the teaching of Philo and the Jews, the Gnostics, early 
Christian customs, Ascetism, Clement's teaching on the Incarnation, 
the Bible, and the Sacraments, with a carefully executed reconstruc- 
tion of Clement's creed. 


A succinct account of Alexandria and the spiritual antecedents 
of Clement. . . followed by an interesting account of Clement's 
own work. 

The writer is evidently a clever man and a good scholar. . . 
The spirit in which his work is conceived deserve praises. 

London Quarterly Review. 

A model handbook for Englis-h students of the Fathers. . . 
brightly written, well set out, and full of matter. 

The Churchwoman. 

The writer deserves the best tribute of thanks that we can give 

The Church and Time*. 

As a compendious account of the man and his works and the 
times which produced him, the book is worthy of all praise. . . 
Mr. Hitchcock has an interesting style. 

National Church. 

A picturesque account of Clement's life. . . a sufficiently full 
examination of his literary compositions. 

Church of Ireland Gazette. 

An original and very searching study. 


Belfast Newt Letter. 

Contains much accurate information given in a popular form. 



A summary of interesting facts scattered in many fields of 

Sinn Fein. 

A careful and conscientious book. . . The author has written 
in an attractive and forcible style with a pleasant savour of urbanity. 
. . As a collection of popular essays it sustains a high level. 

Cork Examiner. 

This book admirably fulfils its intention of giving without 
elaboration a picture of the life and environment of the ancient 
people of Ireland. 

Irish Times. 

A charming book. . . an ample introduction affords a com- 
prehensive view of the history of the country in the remotest past. . 
Chapters marked not only by learning but by independent research. 
. . So fresh in its delineations of type and character as to hold 
attention fixed throughout all its pages. 

Weekly Irish Times. 

Within its scope this book covers large ground. It is 
essentially painstaking and accurate. 

Freeman's Journal. 

A popular and readable account of what is in many aspects a 
scientific subject. . . The reconstruction of the life of the people 
in those ancient days has been carefully brought out. 

Pull Mall Gazette. 

There are delightful veins of Irish rhetoric and Irish humour in 
" Types of Celtic Life and Art." . . The volume tells of how the 
Irish lived before the red marauding Saxon to her holy valleys came. 

Daily Express. 

We can heartily recommend this book which is written through- 
out in an excellent spirit, which appeals in the widest sense to Irish 
readers, all matters of controversy politics and religion being 
wisely eliminated. 


tion, with Notes. (S. P. C. K.) 

London Quarterly Review. 

Most efficiently edited. . . introduction excellent. . . of 
great interest and value to students. 

The Guardian. 

The writer has selected the most important passage of St. 
Augustine's great work for translation. . . His preface gives a 
concise account of the occasion, the purpose, and the editions of the 
hooks and he adds brief notes. 

School Guardian. 

Especially valuable at the present moment. 

Gentleman's Journal. 

Is skilfully analysed, abridged and annotated. 

Methodist S. S. Record. 

A capital edition of an early Church Classic, with a valuable 

DA Hitchcock, Francis Ryan 

990 Montgomery 

03H57 The Midland septs and 

the Pale