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Erin chants a Song of Hope for the future of Irish Patriots. 





[The right of translation and reproduction is reserved.] 





^xintih IjB |. |IT. 0'S:ooIt tt Ban, 
C & 7, Great Brunswick-street. 


llfi fi0iinfriinini an& ConnlriilDoincn 







Kenmare, May Cth, 1SC9. 


HAVE been asked to write a short, concise 
History of Ireland for the benefit of those 
who have not time to read a larger work, 
and for the use of schools, as an Introduction to 
Irish History. I have complied with this request ; 
but the reader should remember that it requires 
some care and thought to understand a history 
written with care and thought, and that, while 
*' stories" about Ireland may amuse, and rudely- 
written rhymes may excite, it requires something 
higher, something of which Irishmen are specially 
capable, to enable them to like and to profit by 
what requires some study. This History is in- 
tended for thoughtful men and women, as well as 
for thoughtful boys and girls. It contains the 
result of many years' careful and anxious study, 
given to the reader in the form in which, as I hope, 
it will be most easily understood and remembered. 
It is not intended to take the place of a larger His- 
tory, nor is it intended for the senior classes in 
colleges; for such use a larger work, containing more 
general information, given in the form best suited 
for students, is now ready. Particulars of that work 


and of the National Illustrated History of Ireland, 
both of which may be read with advantage, after 
the careful perusal of the present volume, will be 

found at the end of this book. 

The present volume is the cheapest history ot 
Ireland ever offered to the public ; no one now can 
have any excuse for not knowing the history of 
Ireland thoroughly. The price places it within the 
reach even of the poorest ; I believe there are few 
indeed, who would make the sacrifice w^hich we 
have done in offering Irishmen so cheap a book. 
But I believe we shall not regret it, and that Irish- 
men will show their nationality and their appre- 
ciation by circulating the Patriot History far and 
wide in Ireland, in England, and in America. 
Bemember that we have no newspaper offices where 
we can print our books at a mere nominal cost ; 
and no shop where we can sell them at full profit, 
When we have paid printers, for printing and paper; 
engravers for designs and engravings ; postage, 
circulars, and the large jper centage that we allow 
our agerds, our profit is small indeed. But we 
are willing to make this sacrifice ; our printers 
are Irish, the money is spent either in Ireland or 
on Irishmen in England, for even in England 
nearly all our agents are Irishmen; and I must 
add one word of thanks for the generous kindness 
of the editors of all the Irish national papers, and 
of several of the English liberal Protestant papers, 
in helping us in every way with advertisements 


and reviews of our publications. There has been 
only one exception to this rule, and that exception 
is, I am sorry to say, the proprietor of a so-called 
''national " Irish newspaper. 

One word more. Let every Irishman and woman 
who reads this try to induce their friends to give 
orders to our agents for this work, or send orders di- 
rect to the address given below.* I hope such a gene- 
rous response may be given to my request, as shall 
induce me to continue my labours for my country- 
men j and to refuse the large profit which might 
be obtained for the poor for other literary en- 
gagements of a less national character. Every 
penny spent in the purchase of the Kenmare pub- 
lications goes to charity. It goes to benefit trade 
in Ireland, and any profit that may accrue is 
devoted entirely to the poor. 

* Orders may be sent and payments for copies enclosed 
to tlie Superioress, Convent of Poor Clares, Kenmare, 
County Kerry, Ireland. In America all orders should be 
sent to Mr. Kehoe, Catholic Publication House, 126 Nassau- 
street, New York. All our other publications may be 
ordered as above also. The " National Illustrated History 
of Ireland " is also one of the cheapest works ever pub- 
lished, some of the full page engravings are worth as much 
as would pay for a whole bookfull of inferior ones. We 
should be sorry to think that Irishmen of the middle and 
lower classes are incapable of appreciating a high style of 
art. The immense sale of this work has proved the con- 
trary. Had this History been published by a London 
house, they would have charged two pounds for it ; yet it 
can be had in parts at two shillings each, or bound hand- 
somely in one volume. 




Introductory Remarks — The first inhabitants of Ireland 
—The Valuable Old Manuscripts which record the 
Ancient History of Ireland— The Five Great Invasions 
of Ireland. 

^ISTORY is one of the most interesting sub- 
jects to which the human intellect can de- 
^2sm^a yg^Q itself. A man who does not care to 
know the history of his own country, and to know it 
well, to know its every detail, and, as far as he can, 
to study it carefully, does not deserve to have a his- 
tory. He might almost as well be a savage, with no 
further knowledge of the past than what his parents 
relate to him of their early lives. A man who does 
not care to know the history of other countries, 
and who cannot make a generous allowance for the 
failings even of his enemies, and take a generous 
interest in their triumphs, scarcely deserves the 
name of being a man. We should first learn the 
history of our own country, and then learn the 


history of those countries most immediately con- 
nected with ourselves. But a really well-written 
history of any country should give some general in- 
formation about the condition of other nations, for 
each nation has some influence, however remote, on 
the history and politics of every cotemporary state. 

The Bible is the oldest book of history in exist- 
ence. There could not, of course, be any history 
of man, before man was created. The Bible gives 
an account of the creation of man, and the princi- 
pal events in the history of man, from the creation 
to the flood. We know that this history is the 
most ancient in the world, because there is no history 
whatever which claims to tell what the Bible does ; 
and we know it is a history, every word of which 
must be true, because Almighty God inspired 
those who wrote it ; and the Church tells us that 
it is true. When we come to the period after the 
flood, we find that there were only a very few per- 
sons in the world. These few persons increased 
rapidly, and it is by them and their descendants 
that the earth was peopled by those who now in- 
habit it. 

When Noah came out of the ark, he found him- 
self on a mountain, called Ararat. This mountain 
is situated in Asia, but it is in that part of Asia 
nearest to Europe. According as the families of 
Noah's sons increased in numbers, they went fur- 
ther and further from this place, just as in America, 


the settlers go further and further into the distant 
forests, as new arrivals create a want for more space. 
The Irish, according to the best established 
traditions are descended from Magog, the son 
of Japhet, the son of Noah. Keating, w^ho wrote 
his history from some valuable old manu- 
scripts, not in existence now, informs us that thip 
was the opinion of the oldest Irish historians. 
Those people were called Scythians by the Greek 
historians. They settled on the borders of the Eed 
Sea, and from thence came further and further to- 
wards the west, until, according to the general 
opinion, they colonized Ireland by coming thither, 
direct from Spain. After some time these Scythians 
were called Phoenicians. Thus the Irish are more 
generally said to be descended from the Phoeni- 
cians. The Phoenicians were very skilful as 
navigators, and hence they made their way across 
seas, which would have been impossible for others 
to traverse. They were also a very learned people. 
According to the accounts of the great Grecian 
historians, they were called Phoenicians, from 
Phoenix, one of their kings ; he had a brother 
named Cadmus, who, it is said, invented the use of 

Now I must briefly record the authority for 
ancient Irish History. The love of literature, and 
as a necessary consequence, a great respect for all 
who devoted themselves to it, seems inherent in 
the Irish character. Hence, we find that centuries 


before the introduction of Christianity, there was 
in Ireland a certain class of persons called files or 
bards, whose sole occupation consisted in learning 
and teaching the history of the country. There 
were regular colleges where these bards received 
instruction, and where they afterwards instructed 
others. You will find a full account of these bards 
and these colleges in the Illustrated History of Ire- 
land, page 40. It cannot now be ascertained 
whether the Irish had learned the art of -vmting 
before the introduction of Christianity, but it is 
probable that they had some method of recording 
their history on wood or stone, by inscriptions like 
those on pillars called the Ogham writing. It is 
at least certain that the bards transmitted the his- 
tory of Ireland from one generation to another for 
centuries before the time of St. Patrick. 

Soon after his arrival in Ireland, accounts of the 
ancient history and laws of Ireland were written 
down ; and many of these histories are still in 

If the student reads this work carefully, he will 
find in it all the great facts of Irish history. 
Above all, he will learn the true character of the 
Irish Catholic patriot. He will find the Catholic 
patriot sacrificing his life again and again willingly 
and cheerfully for his holy faith. He will see 
what sacrifices and privations the priests endured 
to keep up the knowledge of religion in Ireland, and 
what sacrifices the people made to protect their 


devoted priests in the hour of danger. That this 
holy bond of union between Faith and Patriotism 
may never be broken, should be the most earnest 
prayer of every Irish Catholic patriot, of every 
Irish priest, and of all the faithful. 

I must now briefly describe the five great inva- 
sions or " takings " of Ireland, as they are called in 
our ancient annals. This is the first historical 
fact to be remembered, and the next chapter should 
be read carefully by those who wish for more than 
a mere superficial knowledge of Irish history. 



The Landing of Partholan— History of the Five Great In- 
vasions of Ireland— (1) The Nemedians— (2) The Fomo- 
rians— (3) The Firbolgs— (4) The Tuatha de Dananns— 
(5) The Milesians— The Famous Stone of Destiny — The 
Reign of Tighernmas. 

^^HE five great invasions of Ireland may be 
thus classified : — (1) the taking by the 
Nemedians, (2) the taking by the Fomo- 
rians, (3) the taking by the Firbolgs, (4) the 
taking by the Tuatha de Dananns, (5) the last 
and final taking by the Milesians. But our an- 
nals go back still further, so far back indeed 
that our claims to great national antiquity are met 
with the taunts and laughter of those, who if they 
were wise would first inquire our authority for 
these claims to antiquity before they ridicule what 
they do not understand. There is not a single 
nation in Europe or in America which has such 
ancient and authentic manuscripts as we have, and 
in these the traditions and history of our country 
for centuries before the Christian era are recorded. 
Some of those records may be incorrect versions of 
real occurrences ; many of them, without doubt, are 
impartial records of facts. Now the most ancient 
manuscripts mention that Ireland was visited 
before the Flood by a maiden named Cesar and 
her companions. It is, however, very improbable 



that any record could have been preserved of such 
an event, even if it ever occurred. The next tra- 
dition relates that Ireland was visited soon after 
the Flood, and during the life time of the great 
patriarch Abraham, by Partholan. He landed at 
Inver Scene, now called the Kenmare river, in the 
County Kerry, on the 14th of May, in the year of 
the world 2520. This man was a parricide, and 
fled from his country in disgrace and shame. One 
must suppose that the few traitors who have dis- 
graced the Irish name from time to time have 
descended from this outcast. But he brought the 
plague with him; and although he and his fol- 
lowers lived long enough to clear many forests, and 
plant many colonies, vengeance came at last. 
Eventually, nearly the whole colony perished by 
plague. The place is still shown where thousands 
were buried in a common tomb. It is called Tal- 
laght, and is near Dublin, the name Tallaght 
meaning Tarn Lacht, or the plague sepulchre. 

The first of the five takings which I have men- 
tioned, however, is that of the Nemedians. They 
came to Ireland, or lerne, as it was then more poeti- 
cally called, about the year 2859, and erected forts to 
protect themselves against invaders, clearing plains 
to support their flocks and herds. Those Neme- 
dians also came from the high table-lands in Asia, 
travelling westward, and settling in various places. 
But Nemedh and his followers were not destined 
to have sole and undisputed possession of Ireland. 


The Fomorians, a race of pirates, of whom little 
is known, attacked them by sea and land, but 
principally by sea. According to the Annals of 
Clonmacnois, "they were a sept descended from 
Cham, the sonne of Noeh, and lived by pyracie 
and spoile of other nations, and were, in those 
days, very troublesome to the whole world." 
The few Nemedians who escaped alive after their 
great battle with the Fomorians, fled into the 
interior of the island. Three bands are said to 
have emigrated with their respective captains. 
One party wandered into the north of Europe, and 
are believed to have been the progenitors of the 
Tuatha de Dananns ; others made their way to 
Greece, where they were enslaved, and obtained 
the name of Firbolgs, or bagmen, from the leathern 
bags which they were compelled to carry; and the 
third section sought refuge in the north of England, 
which is said to have obtained its name of Briton 
from their leader, Briotan Maol. 

The tliird immigration is that of the Firbolgs ; 
and it is remarkable how early the love of country 
is manifested in the Irish race, since we find those 
who once inhabited its green plains still anxious to 
return, whether their emigration proved prosperous 
as to the Tuatha de Dananns, or painful, as to the 

The Firbolgs divided the island into five pro- 
vinces, governed by five brothers, the sons of Dela 
Mac Loich : — " Slane, the eldest brother, had the 


province of Leynster for his part, which containeth 
from Inver Colpe, that is to say, where the river 
Boyne entereth into the sea, now called in Irish 
Drogheda, to the meeting of the three waters, by 
Waterford, where the three rivers, Suyre, Ffeoir, 
and Barrow, do meet and run together into the sea. 
Gann, the second brother's part, was South 
Munster, which is a province extending from that 
place to Bealagh-Conglaissey. Seangaun, the third 
brother's part, was fiom Bealagh-Conglaissey toBos- 
sedahaileagh, now called Limbriche, which is in the 
province of North Munster. Geanaun, the fourth 
brother, had the province of Connaught, containing 
from Limerick to Easroe. Eorye, the fifth brother 
and youngest, had from Easroe aforesaid to Inver 
Colpe, which is in the province of Ulster." 

The Firbolg chiefs had landed in different parts 
of the island, but they soon met at the once famous 
Tara, where they united their forces. To this 
place they gave the name of Druim CaiUj or the 
Beautiful Eminence. 

The fourth, or Tuatha de Danann "taking" of 
Ireland, occurred in the reign of Eochaidh, son of 
Ere, A.M. 3303. The Tuatha de Dananns were a 
brave, high-spirited race, and famous for their skill 
in what was then termed magic. But it is probable 
that all the magic of which they were guilty, Avas 
being able to exercise many mechanical arts of 
which those who had previously invaded Ireland 
were then ignorant. 


Their leader was called Nuad of the Silver 
Hand. This chieftain had lost a hand in battle, 
and his artificer or smith, as such workmen were 
then called, made a silver hand for him with joints 
which he used. This artisan was called Credne 
Cert ; but Nuad had also a very skilful physician, 
named Mioch, and he completed the convenience by 
infusing motion and feeling into every joint and 
finger of this wonderful hand. Of course this 
could not be literally true, as there could be no 
feeling without life, and God alone can give life. 
But it is probable that the smith and the doctor 
worked together, and turned out some clever sub 
stitute for a hand which the great Nuada found very 

The ancient laws of Ireland, called the Brehon 
Laws, were then in force, and these laws require 
that a king should be free from every personal 
defect. Nuada, therefore, was obliged to resign 
his sovereignty after the loss of his hand, until a 
substitute was made for the defective member. 
Nuada and Eochy, the Firbolg monarch, had a 
great battle, recorded in our annals as the battle of 
Moytur6. The Firbolgs were defeated, for they 
were no fair match for the famous Tuatha de 
Dananns. Their king was slain at Ballysadare, in 
Sligo. This battle is one of the most famous 
recorded in our ancient history. Full details are 
given of it by the bards or poet-historians of that 
age, and these details afford the most important 


illustrations of the habits, manners, and customs of 
the ancient Irish. Their dress and weapons are fully- 
described, and those who doubt the truth of our 
traditional history would do well to remember 
that the traditions, as recorded in our ancient 
annals, are, day by day, more and more verified 
by the researches of those who devote then* time 
to the study of antiquities, such as the ancient 
weapons, domestic utensils, &c., found in the great 
cairns, or tombs, of ancient Irish chieftains. 

One of these ancient bardic accounts describes 
an interview between the two brave warriors, 
Breas, the Tuatha de Danann, and Sreng, the 
Fomorian. They conversed with each other, pro- 
tected by their shields, fearing mutual treachery, 
as well they might in these wild times. Then 
gaining confidence, and finding that they both 
spoke the same language, the old Celtic tongue, 
they commenced an examination of each other's 
weapons. These were very different. Breas had 
*' two beautifully shaped, thin, slender, long, sharp 
pointed spears," and Sreng was armed with " two 
heavy, thick, pointless, but sharpley rounded 
spears. ' Now, it has always been the tradition of 
the Irish, that weapons of the former class were 
made by the Tuatha de Dananns, who were so highly 
skilled as artificers, and weapons of the latter class 
by the Firbolgs ; and it is remarkable that weapons 
of these very different kinds have been found in the 
cairns, or grave mounds belonging to eacH tribe — 


the inferior kind in Firbolg cairns, and the 
superior kind in these of the Tuatha de Da- 

These wonderful people have also left records 
after them in the traditions of fairies, and " good 
people," so common in Ireland. The light, gay, 
joyous element of the Irish character may be 
traced to them also; and the special respect always 
shown to the possessors of superior intellectual 
power, as honourable to those who pay this respect 
as to those who receive it. The Tuatha de 
Dananns also brought the famous Lia Fail, or 
Stone of Destiny, to Ireland. The history of this 
stone is not easily verified. All kinds of wild 
tales have been told about it. Some traditions 
claim for it the honour of being the stone 
pillar on which Jacob reposed. It will be re- 
membered that it was usual for the Jews to erect 
altars of stone or pillars of stone to commemorate 
any special event. As the Tuatha de Dananns 
undoubtedly came from the East, and as the Celtic 
tribes claim a descent from Japhet through the 
Phoenicians, it is quite possible that this stone was 
really one of those thus consecrated. It is at least 
certain that it is still in existence — a fact which 
shows the peculiar veneration with which it was 
regarded, which veneration secured its preserva- 
tion from age to age. 

According to one account, this stone is now 
under the coron^tio^ chair in Westminster Abbey, 


It; was brought thither from Scone in Scotland, 
where it was used in the same way. Those who 
beHeve this account say that it was brought from 
Tara, by Fergus king of Scotland, who wished to 
be crowned on the stone of destiny. According to 
another account, this pillar stone is still at Tara. 
A pillar stone was removed in 1798 to the centre of 
the mound of the Forradh; it formerly stood by the 
side of a small mound lying within the enclosure 
of Eath Eiogh. The late Dr. Petrie believed this 
stone to be the identical Lia Fail, or stone of des- 

The fifth invasion, or taking of Ireland, was 
that of the Milesians. This is, undoubtedly, one 
of the most important subjects of our ancient 
history. The four masters, the great authorities 
of Irish history, thus record the event. '< The age 
of the world 3500. The fleet of the sons of 
Mihdh came to Ireland at the end of this year, to 
take it from the Tuatha de Dananns, and they 
fought the battle of Sliabh Mis with them on the 
third day after landing. In this battle fell Scota, 
the daughter of Pharaoh, the wife of Milidh ; and 
the grave of Scota is [to be seen] between SHabh 
Mis and the sea. Therein also fell Fas, the wife 
of Un, son of Uige, from whom is [named] Gleann 
Falsi. After this the sons of Milidh fought a battle 
at Taillten against the three kings of the Tuatha 
de Dananns, MacCuill, MacCeacht, and Mac- 
Grri6Q6, The battle lasted for a long time, un^il 


MacCeacht fell by Eiremlion, MacCuill by Eim- 
heur, and MacGri6n6 by Amliergen." 

According to the ancient accounts, the IMilesians 
landed at the mouth of the river Slaing^, or 
Slaney, in the present county of Wexford, unper- 
ceived by the Tuatha de Dananns. From thence 
they marched to Tara, the seat of government, and 
summoned the three Idngs to surrender. A curious 
legend is told of this summons and its results, 
which is probably true in the more important 
details. The Tuatha de Danann princes com- 
plained that they had been taken by surprise, and 
proposed to the invaders to re-embark, and to go 
out upon the sea *'the distance of nine waves," 
stating that the country should be surrendered to 
them if they could then effect a landing by force. 
The Milesian chiefs assented; but when the original 
inhabitants found them fairly launched at sea, 
they raised a tempest by magical incantations, 
which entirely dispersed the fleet. One part of it 
was driven along the east coast of Erinn, to the 
north, under the command of Eremon, the youngest 
of the Milesian brothers; the remainder, under the 
command of Donn, the elder brother, was driven 
to the south-west of the island. 

But the Milesians had druids also. As soon as 
they suspected the agency which had caused the 
storm, they sent a man to the topmast of the ship 
to know " if the wind was blowing at that height 
over the surface of the sea." The man reported 


that it was not. The druids then commence 
pra,ctising counter arts of magic, in which they 
soon succeeded, but not until five of the eight 
brothers were lost. Four, including Donn, were 
drowned in the wild Atlantic, off the coast of 
Kerry. Colpa met his fate at the mouth of the 
river Boyne, called from him Inbhear Colpa. 
Eber Finn and Amergin, the survivors of the 
southern party, landed in Kerry, and here the 
battle of Sliabh Mis was fought, which has been 
already mentioned. 

The battle of Taillten followed ; and the Mile- 
sians having become masters of the country, the 
brothers Eber Finn and Eremon divided it between 
them; the former taking all the southern part, 
from the Boyne and the Shannon to Cape Clear, 
the latter taking all the part lying to the north of 
these rivers. 

This arrangement, however, was not of long 
continuance. Each was desirous of unlimited 
sovereignty ; and they met to decide their claims 
by an appeal to arms at G^isill, a place near the 
present Tullamore, in the King's County. Eber 
and his chief leaders fell in this engagement, and 
Eremon assumed the sole government. 

Our annals afford but brief details from the time 
of Eremon to that of Ugain6 M6r. One hundred 
and eighteen sovereigns are enumerated from the 
IMilesian conquest of Ireland (according to the 
Four Masters, B.C. 1700) to the time of St. 


Patrick, A.D. 432. Tlie principal events re- 
corded are deeds of arms, the clearing of woods, 
the enactment of laws, and the erection of 

Tiernmas was undoubtedly the most famous of 
these Milesian kings, and it is said that he 
introduced the custom of worshipping idols into 
ancient Erin; this statement requires some ex- 

After the fall of man, the knowledge of God, 
and consequently the knowledge of the way in 
which the Almighty should be worshipped by his 
creatures, was confined for many years to the 
Jewish race. They were God's chosen people, and 
to them He made known His will through special 
revelations to their prophets. The Jews wor- 
shipped the one true God, in the way in which He 
had Himself directed. But the heathen, and all 
who were not Jews were heathen, worshipped 
idols. Some of them actually offered worship to 
devils j some knelt before wooden or stone images, 
and prayed to them, imagining that they could 
hear them, or, perhaps, in some few cases looking 
on them as the image only of some great unknown 
deity. Some of the forms of worship used by 
the heathen were very terrible. They sometimes 
burned their children to death, thinking that this 
cruel act would please their false gods. They did 
not know that the true God was a God of love. 
They ofteu performed tlie most immoral rites, not 


knowing that God was a God of purity as well as 
a God of love. But there were some few amongst 
the heathen nations who got some idea of a purer 
religious worship from the Jews ; or who, perhaps, 
had preserved some traditions of true religion from 
the time of the dispersion of mankind after the 
building of the tower of Babel, and these men 
generally became Sun-worshippers. They saw that 
light and heat, and consequently vegetation, and 
countless other blessings, emanated from this great 
luminary, and they put it in the place of God; not 
knowing, or not reflecting, that, as a creature, it 
must have had a Creator, greater, incomparably 
greater, than itself. This worship, however, though 
idolatrous, was comparatively pure and simple. 
This was the worship of the Magi, or wise men of 
the East, of whom we are told in Scripture, and 
who were led by divine inspiration to Bethlehem, 
that they might there see and know the true Light 
of the World. 

The early colonists of Ireland brought some such 
form of worship with them from distant lands, 
and undoubtedly there was some marked change in 
the pagan religion of Ireland during the reign of 
the Milesian king, Tiernmas. Where and how he 
learned idol worship is another question, and one 
which probably will never be known. He set up 
the famous idol called Crom Cruach on the plain 
of Moy Slaght, in the present county Cork. This 
hideous figure was surrounded by twelve smaller 


idols, and was worshipped by the Irish until it 
was destroyed by St. Patrick. 

Tiernmas also has the credit of having intro- 
duced certain distinctions in rank amongst thelrish, 
which were indicated by the wearing of certain 
colours. This was probably the origin of the Scotch 

Keating says that a slave was permitted only 
one colour, a peasant two, a soldier three, a pubHc 
victualler five. The Ollamh or poet-historian ranked 
with royalty, and was permitted six — another of 
the many proofs of extraordinary veneration for 
learning in pre-Christian Erinn. The Four Mas- 
ters, however, ascribe the origin of this distinction 
to Eochaidh Eadghadhach. 

This monarch also employed a refiner of gold, 
and some of the very beautiful specimens of skil- 
ful workmanship in this metal, preserved in the 
Eoyal Irish Academy, may have been manufactured 
during this reign. Engravings of those works of 
art of which every Irishman is justly proud may 
be found in the Illustrated History of Ireland, the 
committee of that society having granted us the 
rare privilege of making them public. Our Illus- 
trated History of Ireland, indeed, is the only Irish 
history ever published, which has made even 
an attempt at giving representations of these 

Silver shields were now made (B.C. 1383) at 
Airget-Eos, by Enna Airgtheach, and four-horse 


chariots were first used in the time of Roitheach- 
taigh, who was killed by lightning near the Giant's 
Causeway. Ollamh Fodhla (the wise or learned 
man) distinguished himself still more byinstituting 
triennial assemblies at Tara. Even should the 
date given by the Four Masters (1317 B.C.) be 
called in question, there is no doubt of the fact, 
which must have occurred some centuries before 
the Christian era ; and this would appear to be the 
earliest instance of a national convocation or par- 
liament in any country. Ollamh Fodhla also ap- 
pointed chieftains over every cantred or hundred, 
he constructed a rath at Tara, and died there in 
the fortieth year of his reign. 

Who does not desire to know something of 
Tara and its ancient glories 1 For centuries it was 
supposed that Irishmen who spoke of the glories of 
*' Tara's Halls," indulged in sentimental romance 
about past imaginary greatness. But those who 
thought thus only displayed their ignorance ot 
everything Irish, or their prejudice against every- 
thing Irish. Tara Avas, and is a reality, and may 
be said to be a reality even now. The remains 
of its "halls" may still be traced out, and have 
been traced out by the late Dr. Petrie ; and, 
lilce every other research into Irish antiquity, all 
that was discovered tended to prove that our an- 
cient records were ever literally correct in their 

A national parliament was held here every three 


years ; and learned men were summoned to attend 
it, as well as men of rank. For six days the king 
entertained all his guests at his own expense, and 
did his utmost to promote social intercourse. 
Here the poet-historians brought each his record of 
the events which happened in his province or dis- 
trict during the time that had elapsed since the 
last assembly ; here also the national records were 
examined with the greatest care. All that is on 
record concerning this subject leads one to believe 
that some method of conveying information by 
writing must have been known to the Pagan Irish. 
No people could have been, and no people, in point 
of fact, ever have been so jealously careful of 
their records. Family pedigrees were also ex- 
amined and corrected in this assembly. This was 
a point of great importance. 

A man's right of inheritance to property depended 
on his genealogy, except in the rare cases where 
might took the place of right, as will happen even 
in civilized nations. Hence, the care of the ancient 
Irish in transmitting the names of their ancestors 
was very great. When a man died possessed of 
property, it was divided equally among his sons. 
This custom had great disadvantages in many ways, 
but it was a noble recognition of the equal right of 
all to a share in the common stock of national goods. 
But when the principle came to be applied to 
royalty it eventually proved the destruction of Ire- 
land. The successor to the throne of each little 


state was elected from amongst the members of the 
reigning family — thus it was both elective and 
hereditary. When a king was elected his successor 
was generally chosen at the same time. This suc- 
cessor might, or might not, be the eldest son of 
the monarch ; and this plan of electing a person to 
a position which he might never fill, caused the 
most sanguinary divisions even in families, and led 
to the many violent deaths which disgrace the early 
annals of Ireland. Men who dared not assassinate 
the reigning monarch made little scruple of assassin- 
ating the heir apparent or Tanist, as such persons 
were called ; and the plan of subdividing property 
weakened the kingly power more and more, and 
consequently lessened the national strength. 


Names of the Princes from whom the priucipal Irish families 
are descended — Ugany Mor — Story of the Tain bo 
Chuailgne— Keign of Tuathal — History and Origin of 
the Boromean Tribute— Conn of the Hundred Battles — 
Reign of Cormac — Laws of Ancient Erinn — Fin Mac 
Cuil — Division of Ancient Erinn — Niall of the nine 
Hostages— Death of King Dathi in France. 

^ JHE great Irish families all trace their descent 
from the Milesian chiefs, Ir, Eber, and 
5IQ Eremon, and their cousin Lugaid, the son 
of Ith. In the north the families of Magenis, 


O'Hara, O'Flynn, &c., claim their pedigree from Ir. 
The O'Driscolls, O'Carrolls, O'Kennas, &c., from 
Lugaid. The McCarthys and O'Briens from Eber. 
The O'Neils, O'Donnels, O'Connors, and MacMur- 
roughs from Eremon. 

Ugaine M6r, or the great, was one of the most 
famous of the Irish pagan kings. He was the 
foster son of Queen Macha, who founded the 
palace of Emania about 400 years before Christ. 
Three brothers, Hugh Eoe, or the Eed, Darthbre, 
and Kimbay claimed the throne. It was at last 
agreed that each should reign for seven years in 
turn, and the agreement was observed until 
each had reigned three times in turn. At last 
Hugh the Red was crowned at Assaroe, which 
still bears his name. His daughter, Macha, insisted 
on reigning when her father's turn came round; and 
when her two uncles refused to acknowledge her 
claim she had recourse to arms. She defeated her 
opponents, slew Darthbre, and banished his sons. 
In order to prevent further opposition from Kim- 
bay, the only survivor, she married him. The 
exiled princes returned, and revolted against her 
once more, but they were again defeated, and the 
relentless queen compelled them to work as slaves, 
and erect a palace for her use. 

It is said that she marked out the site of this 
palace with the pin of her golden brooch, and that 
it obtained thus the name of Eo-Muin, or Emania. 
It is now fully two thousand years since this fort 


was built, and its remains still exist near Armagh. 
This is one of the most interesting and important 
of our Irish antiquities. The fort covers upwards 
of eleven acres of land, and from the summit of 
one of the forts situated on the slope of a hill, there 
is a splendid view of the surrounding country. 
Here also the famous military college was erected, 
called the " House of the Ked Branch." A neigh- 
bouring townland still preserves the tradition in 
the name of Creeve Roe. 

Emania survived her husband seven years, and 
was at last slain herself, and succeeded, as I have 
said, by her foster son, Ugaine Mor. His reign 
was long and prosperous, and he was singularly 
devoted to learning. His sons also distinguished 
themselves in this way. Ugain6 also exacted an 
oath from his subjects, by the elements, which, as 
Sun-worshippers, they would consider specially 
sacred, that they would never deprive his family of 
the sovereignty of Erin. 

We must now reluctantly pass over the reigns 
of many Irish monarchs who succeeded Ugaine 
Mor, as the limits of this work will not permit 
further details; neither can I give here a des- 
cription of the social life of the ancient Irish, — 
of their houses, their dress, their weapons, their 
mode of life, their food, their language, their 
games, their studies ; — all this I must pass over ; 
but those who have carefully studied the outlines 
of Irish history contained in this volume, and 


every event of importance is fully recorded herein, 
will find a double interest afterwards in reading 
larger works which will contain full details. In 
my Illustrated History of Ireland many entire 
chapters are devoted to these subjects. 

We come now almost to Christian times, and to 
the reign of King Cormac Mac Nessa, and of the 
orave Queen M^av, or Mab. This lady's exploits 
are so wonderful that they have been recorded in 
a tale called the Tain bo Chuailgne, which is, per- 
haps, one of the most interesting bardic stories 
on record. Meav was married first to Conor, the 
celebrated provincial King of Ulster ; but the mar- 
riage was not a happy one, and was dissolved, in 
modern parlance, on the ground of incompatibility. 
In the meanwhile, Meav's three brothers had re- 
belled against their father ; and though his arms 
were victorious, the victory did not secure peace. 
The men of Conn aught revolted against him, and 
to retain their allegiance he made his daughter 
Queen of Connaught, and gave her in marriage to 
Ailill, a powerful chief of that province. This 
prince, however, died soon after ; and Mdav, de- 
termined for once, at least, to choose a husband 
for herself, made a royal progress to Leinster, 
where Hoss Ruadh held his court at Naas. She 
selected the younger son of this monarch, who 
bore the same name as her former husband, and 
they lived together happily as queen and king 
consort for many years. On one occasion, how- 


ever, a dispute arose about their respective trea- 
sures, and this dispute led to a comparison of their 
property. The account of this, and the subsequent 
comparison, is given at length in the story of the 
Tain. They counted their vessels, metal and 
wooden ; they counted their finger rings, their 
clasps, their thumb rings, their diadems, and their 
gorgets of gold. They examined their many- 
coloured garments of crimson and blue, of black 
and green, yellow and mottled, white and streaked. 
All were equal. They then inspected their flocks 
and herds, swine from the forests, sheep from the 
pasture lands, and cows — here the first difierence 
arose. It was one to excite M6av's haughty 
temper. There was a young bull found in Ailill's 
herd, which had been calved by one of Meav's 
cows ; but " not deeming it honourable to be under 
a woman's control," it had attached itself to Ailill's 
flocks. M6av was not a lady who could remain 
quiet under such provocation. She summoned her 
chief courier, and asked him could he find a match 
for Finnbheannach (the white-horned). The 
courier declared that he could find even a superior 
animal ; and at once set forth on his mission, 
suitably attended. Meav had offered the most 
liberal rewards for the prize she so much coveted ; 
and the courier soon arranged for the purchase of 
one from Dare, a noble of large estates, who pos- 
sessed one of the valuable breed. A drunken 
quarrel, however, disarranged his plans. One of 


the men boasted that if Dar6 had not given the 
bull for payment, he should have been compelled 
to give it by force. Dar6's steward heard the ill- 
timed and uncourteous boast. He flung down the 
meat and drink which he had brought for their 
entertainment, and went to tell his master the con- 
temptuous speech. The result may be anticipated. 
Dare refused the much-coveted animal, and M6av 
proceeded to make good her claim by force of 
arms ; at last the bulls ended the dispute by hav- 
ing a battle of their own , the " white-horn " was 
killed, and Donn Chuailgne the victor, dashed out 
his brains in a fit of mad fury. 

The insurrection of the Attacotti, is the next 
event of importance in Irish history. Their plans 
were deeply and wisely laid, and promised the 
success they obtained. It is one of the lessons of 
history which rulers in all ages would do well to 
study. There is a degree of oppression which, 
even the most degraded will refuse to endure; 
there is a time when the injured will seek revenge, 
even should they know that this revenge may bring 
on themselves yet deeper wrongs. The leaders of 
the revolt were surely men of some judgment; 
and both they and those who acted under them 
possessed the two great qualities needed for such 
an enterprise. They were silent, for their plans 
were not even suspected until they were accom- 
plished ; they were patient, for these plans were 
three years in preparation. During three years 


the men saved their scanty earnings to prepare a 
sumptuous deatli-feast for their unsuspecting vic- 
tims. This feast was held at a place since called 
Mach Cru, in Connaught. The monarch, Fiacha 
Finnolaidh, the provincial kings and chiefs, were all 
invited, and accepted the invitation. But while the 
enjoyment was at its height, when men had drank 
deeply, and were soothed by the sweet strains 
of the harp, the insurgents did their bloody work. 
Three ladies alone escaped. They fled to Britain, 
and there each gave birth to a son — heirs to their 
respective husbands, who had been slain. 

After the massacre, the Attacotti elected their 
leader, Cairbr^, the cat-headed, to the royal 
dignity. He died at the end of five years, and 
his son, the wise and prudent Morann, refused to 
succeed him, and advised the people to recall the 
rightful heirs. 

Morann was the inventor of the famous collar 
of gold, which was said to have closed of itself 
round the necks of the guilty, and expanded to 
the ground when the wearer was innocent. Tuathal 
is the next monarch whose history demands special 
notice- he was the son of a former legitimate 
monarch, and had been invited to Ireland by a 
powerful party. He was perpetually at war with 
the Attacotti, but at last estabHshed himself firmly 
on the throne, by exacting an oath from the 
people, "by the sun, moon, and elements," that 
his posterity should not be deprived of the 


sovereignty. This oath was taken at Tara, where 
he had convened a general assembly, as had been 
customary with his predecessors at the commence- 
ment of each reign ; but it was held by him with 
more than usual state. His next act was to take 
a small portion of land from each of the four 
provinces, forming what is now the present county 
of Meath, and retaining it as the mensal portion of 
the Ard-Righ, or supreme monarch. On each of 
these portions he erected a palace for the king of 
every province. Tuathal had at this time two 
beautiful and marriageable daughters, named Fithir 
and Dairin6. Eochaidh Aincheann, King of Lein- 
ster, sought and obtained the hand of the younger 
daughter, Dairine, and after her nuptials carried 
her to his palace at Naas, in Leinster. Some time 
after, his people persuaded him that he had made 
a bad selection, and that the elder was the better 
of the two sisters ; upon wliich Eochaidh deter- 
mined by stratagem to obtain the other daughter 
-also. For this purpose he shut the young queen 
up in a secret apartment of his palace, and gave 
out a report that she was dead. He then repaired, 
apparently in great grief, to Tara, informed the 
monarch that his daughter was dead, and demanded 
her sister in marriage. Tuathal gave his consent, and 
the false king returned home with his new bride. 
Soon after her arrival at Naas, her sister escaped 
from her prison, and suddenly and unexpectedly 
encountered the prince and Fithir In a moment 


she divined the truth, and had the additional 
anguish of seeing her sister, who was struck with 
horror and shame, fall dead before her face. The 
death of the unhappy princess, and the treachery 
of her husband, was too much for the young 
queen ; she returned to her solitary chamber, and 
in a very short time died of a broken heart. 

The insult offered to his daughters, and their 
untimely death, roused the indignation of the pagan 
monarch, and was soon bitterly avenged. At the 
head of a powerful force, he burned and ravaged 
Leinster to its utmost boundary, and then com- 
pelled its humbled and terror-stricken people to 
bind themselves and their descendants for ever to 
the payment of a triennial tribute to the monarcli 
of Erinn, which, from the great number of cows 
exacted by it, obtained the name of the " Boromean 
Tribute" — ho being the Irish for a cow. 

The tribute is thus described in the old annals : 

" The men of Leinster were obliged to pay- 
To Tuathal, and all tlie monarchs after him, 
Three-score hundred of the fairest cows, 
And three -score hundred ounces of [pure silver. 
And three-score hundred mantles richly woven. 
And three-score hundred of the fattest hogs, 
And three-score hundred of the largest sheep, 
And three-score hundred cauldrons strong and polished. " 

It is elsewhere described as consisting of five 
thousand ounces of silver, five thousand mantles, 
five thousand fat cows, five thousand fat hogs, five 


tliousand wethers, and five thousand vessels of 
brass or bronze for the king's laving, with men and 
maidens for his service. 

The levying of the tribute was the cause of peri- 
odical and sanguinary wars, from the time of Tua- 
thal until the reign of Finnachta the Festive. 
About the year 680 it was abolished by him, at the 
entreaty of St. Moling, of Tigh Moling (now St. 
Mullen's, in the county Carlo w). It is said by 
Keating, that he availed himself of a pious ruse for 
this purpose, asking the king to j)ledge himself 
not to exact the tribute until after Monday, and 
then, when his request was complied with, declar- 
ing that the Monday he intended was the Monday 
after Doomsday. The tribute was again revived 
and levied by Brian, the son of Cinneidigh, at the 
beginning of the eleventh century, as a punishment 
on the Leinster men for their adherence to the 
Danish cause. It was from this circumstance that 
Brian obtained the surname of Boroimh6. 

Conn of the Hundred Battles, commenced his 
reign about the year 123. He was constantly at 
war with Eoghan, or Owen More, a prince of the 
race of Eber, who had passed most of his early 
youth in Spain. The cause of quarrel was the 
shi^jping arrangements in Dublin, which was even 
then a seaport of some importance. The northern, 
Howth side, was considered the best, reversing 
the opinion of the present day, and when each 
claimed the best, only a battle could terminate the 


dispute. Conn won the day, tliougli liis forces 
were far inferior to those of his rival, whom he 

Conn was succeeded by Conaire II., the father of 
the three Cairbr^s, who were progenitors of im- 
portant tribes. Cairbre Muse gave his name to 
six districts in Munster ; the territory of Corca- 
baiscinn, in Clare, was named after Cau-bre Bas- 
cain ; and the Dalriada of Antrim were descended 
from Cairbre Eiada. He is also mentioned by 
Bede under the name of Eeuda, as the leader of 
the Scots who came from Hibernia to Alba. 
Three centuries later, a fresh colony of Dalriadans 
laid the foundation of the Scottish monarchy under 
Fergus, the son of Ere. Mac Con was the next 
Ard-Bigh, or chief monarch of Ireland. He obtained 
the royal power after a battle at Magh Mucruimh^, 
near Athenry, where Art the Melancholy, son of 
Conn of the Hundred Battles, and the seven sons 
of Oilioll Oluim, were slain. 

Cormac Mac Airt is unquestionably the most 
celebrated of all our pagan monarchs. During his 
early years he had been compelled to conceal him- 
self among his mother's friends in Connaught; but 
the severe rule of the usurper Mac Con excited a 
desire for his removal, and the friends of the young 
prince were not slow to avail themselves of the 
popular feeling. He, therefore, appeared un- 
expectedly at Tara, and happened to arrive when 
the monarch was giving judgment in an important 


case, which is thus related : — Some sheep, the 
property of a widow, residing at Tara, had strayed 
into the queen's private lawn, and eaten the grass. 
They were captured, and the case was brought 
before the king. He decided that the trespassers 
should be forfeited; but Cormac exclaimed that his 
sentence was unjust, and declared that as the sheep 
had only eaten the fleece of the land, they should 
only forfeit their own fleece. The people ap- 
plauded the decision. Mac Con started from his 
seat, and exclaimed : " That is the judgment of a 
king." At the same moment he recognized the 
prince, and commanded that he should be seized ; 
but he had already escaped. The people now 
recognized their rightful king, and revolted against 
the usurper, who was driven into Munster. Cor- 
mac assumed the reins of government at Tara, and 
thus entered upon liis brilliant and important 
career, A.D. 227. 

His name is famous in Irish annals for the kingly 
state that he kept at Tara, and also for the laws 
which he made. These laws of the ancient Irish, 
are a code of which any nation might be justly 
proud. They were collected into one volume 
about the time of St. Patrick. The Irish in which 
they are written is so diff'erent from what is 
now spoken, that it can only be understood by 
those who have made it a special study. Even 
nine hundred years ago the language would scarcely 
be understood. 


The great hall of Tara was also erected by 
Cormac. This was also the great 'house of the 
thousand soldiers, and the place where the Fes or 
triennial assemblies were held. It had fourteen 
doors — seven to the east and seven to the west. 
Its length, taken from the road, is 759 feet, and 
its breadth was probably about 90 feet. Kenneth 
O'Hartigan is the great, and indeed almost the 
only, authority for the magnificence and state with 
which the royal banquets were held therein. As 
his descriptions are written in a strain of eloquent 
and imaginative verse, his account has been too 
readily supposed to be purely fictitious. His ac- 
count of the extent, if not of the exterior magnifi- 
cence, of the building, has been fully verified ; and 
there remains no reason to doubt that a " thousand 
soldiers" may have attended their lord at his 
feasts, or that " three times fifty stout cooks " may 
have supplied the viands. There was also the 
"House of the Women," a term savouring strangely 
of eastern customs and ideas; and the "House 
of the Fians," or common soldiers. 

This reign was made more remarkable by the 
exploits of Cormac's son-in-law, the famous Finn 
Mac Cumhaill (pronounced "Coole"). Finn was 
famous both as a poet and warrior. Indeed, poeti- 
cal qualifications were considered essential to ob- 
tain a place in the select militia of which he was the 
last commander. The courtship of the poet-war- 
rior with the Princess Ailbhe, Cormac's daughter, 


is related in one of the ancient historic tales 
called TocJmarca, or Courtships. The lady is said 
to have been the wisest woman of her time, and 
the wooing is described in the form of conversations, 
which savour more of a trial of skill in ability and 
knowledge, than of the soft utterances which dis- 
tinguish such narratives in modern days. It is 
supposed that the Fenian corps which he com- 
manded was modelled after the fashion of the 
Eomau legions ; but its loyalty is more question- 
able, for it was eventually disbanded for insubordi- 
nation, although the exploits of its heroes are a 
favourite topic with the bards. The Fenian poems, 
on which Macpherson founded his celebrated for- 
gery, are ascribed to Finn's sons Oisin and Fergus 
the Eloquent, and to his kinsman Caeilte, as well 
as to himself. Five poems only are ascribed to him, 
but these are found in MSS. of considerable an- 
tiquity. The poems of Oisin were selected by the 
Scotch writer for his grand experiment. He gave 
a highly poetical translation of what purported to 
be some ancient and genuine composition, but, 
unfortunately for his veracity, he could not produce 
the original. Some of the real compositions of 
the Fenian hero are, however, still extant in the 
Book of Leinster, as well as other valuable Fenian 
poems. There are also some Fenian tales in prose, 
of which the most remarkable is that of the Pur- 
suit of Diarmaid and Grainne — a legend which has 
left its impress in every portion of the island to 


the present day. Finn, in his old age, asked the 
hand of Grainn6, the daughter of Cormac Mac 
Airt ; but the lady being young, preferred a younger 
lover. To effect her purpose, she drugged the 
guest-cup so effectually that Finn, and all the 
guests invited with him, were plunged into a pro- 
found slumber after they liad partaken of it. 
Oisin and Diarmaid alone escaped, and to them 
the lady Grainne confided her grief. As true 
knights the were bound to rescue her from the 
dilemma. Oisin could scarcely dare to brave his 
father's vengeance, but Diarmaid at once fled with 
the lady. A pursuit followed, which extended all 
over Ireland, during which the young couple al- 
ways escaped. So deeply is the tradition engraven 
in the popular mind, that the Cromlechs are still 
called the " Beds of Diarmaid and Grainn^," and 
shown as the resting-places of the fugitive lovers. 

There are many other tales of a purely imagina- 
tive character, which, for interest, might well rival 
the world-famous Arabian Nights' Entertainments ; 
and, for importance of details, illustrative of man- 
ners, customs, dress, weapons, and localities, are, 
perhaps, unequalled. 

Cormac died A.d. 266, at Cleiteach, near Stack- 
alien Bridge, on the south bank of the Boyne. It 
is said that he was choked by a salmon bone, and 
that this happened through the contrivances of the 
druids, who wished to avenge themselves on him 
for his rejection of their superstitions. 


Nial of the Nine Hostages and Dathi are the last 
pagan monarchs who demand special notice. In 
the year 322, Fiacha Sraibhtine was slain by the 
three CoUas, and a few short-lived monarchs suc- 
ceeded. In 378, Crimhthann was poisoned by his 
sister, who hoped that her eldest son, Brian, might 
obtain the royal power. Her attempt failed, al- 
though she sacrificed herself for its accomplishment, 
by taking the poisoned cup to remove her brothers' 
suspicions; and Nial of the Nine Hostages, the 
son of her husband by a former wife, succeeded to 
the coveted dignity. This monarch distinguished 
liimself by predatory warfare against Albion and 
Gaul. The ''groans" of the Britons testify to 
his success in that quarter, which eventually 
obliged them to become an Anglo-Saxon nation ; 
and the Latin poet, Claudian, gives evidence that 
troops were sent by Stilicho, the general of Theo- 
dosius the Great, to repel his successful forays. 
His successor, Dathi, was killed by lightning at 
the foot of the Alps, and the possibility of this 
occurrence is also strangely verified from extrinsic 



Christianity first preached in Ireland— St. Patrick's Birth 
Place — His Captivity in Ireland— His Generosity in 
coming to preach to the Irish— The great success of his 
Mission— He meets the King at Tara — The Conversion 
of the whole Nation — St. Patrick's Death and Burial. 

^^HE first Christian mission to Ireland was 
^@ that of St. Palladius. St. Prosper, who held 
^^^ a high 230sition in the Eoman Church pub- 
lished a chronicle in the year 433, in which we find 
the following register : " Palladius was consecrated 
by Pope Celestine, and sent as the first Bishop to 
the Irish believing in Christ." This mission was 
unsuccessful. Palladius was repulsed by the inha- 
bitants of Wicklow, where he landed. He then 
sailed northward, and was at last driven by stress 
of weather towards the Orkneys, finding harbour, 
eventually, on the shores of Kincardineshire. 
Several ancient tracts give the details of his mis- 
sion, his failure, and his subsequent career. The 
first of those authorities is the Life of St. Patrick, 
in the Book of Armagh ; and in this it is stated 
that he died in the "land of the Britons." The 
Second Life of St. Patrick, in Colgan's collection, 
has changed Britons into "Picts." In the "An- 
notations of Tierchan," also preserved in the Book 
of Armagh, it is said that Palladius was also called 


Patricius, and that he suffered martyrdom among 
the Scots, " as ancient saints relate." 

The honour of converting the whole nation to the 
Holy Roman Catholic faith, was reserved for our 
great Saint Patrick. 

He was born about the year 373 at Nemthur, 
in France. It is probable that this place was near 
the present town of Boulogne. St. Patrick has 
left a work written by himself, which he calls his 
*' Confession," and in this he gives us full informa- 
tion as to his bu'th-place and parentage. As, how- 
ever, the names of places change with the lapse of 
time, although we have the name which the saint 
himself gave to this locality, it is by no means so 
easy to identify it ; and in a popular life like the 
present, it is unnecessary, and would indeed be 
impossible, to give all the arguments of learned 
men who have contended that the honour belonged 
to many different places. St. Patrick says that his 
father had a farm at Bonavem Taburnise, and it is 
generally believed now that this was in the north 
of G-aul, as France was then called. 

The saint received the name of Succat in holy 
baptism. This name signifies " brave in ■ the 
battle." The name of Patrick, by which he has 
been known and venerated for so many centuries, 
was given to him by Pope Celestine. His father, 
Calphurnius, was a deacon, and son of Potitus, a 
priest ; his mother was called Conchessa, and she 
was a niece of the famous St. Martin of Tours. It 


must be remembered that some priests and deacons 
of the holy Catholic Church were married men at 
that time, for many of them were converts from 
heathenism who had taken wives before they be- 
came Christians. Many of their wives became 
nuns and lived separate from their husbands, who 
were then free to consecrate themselves to God in 
the service of religion. 

St. Patrick lived with his parents until his six- 
teenth year. In his " Confession" he accuses him- 
self of having been very heedless about his religious 
duties ; but this statement, no doubt, is caused by 
his humihty, for he himself admits after, that, 
when in captivity, he was wholly devoted to God 
and to prayer. We must always remember, in 
reading the lives of the saints, that they often con- 
sidered what we would call a trifling fault as a 
very grievous sin. In his sixteenth year St. Patrick 
was taken captive and sold as a slave in Ireland. 
How wonderful are God's ways ! Doubtless, even 
his most pious friends considered this a most 
terrible misfortune, and yet it proved an inestim- 
able blessing — a blessing for which God will be 
praised to all eternity. 

The Irish pagan kings were a brave and adven- 
turous race : they had made more than one suc- 
cessful raid even on the continent of Europe, and 
the name of Nial of the Nine Hostages was famous 
by land and sea. 

Our saint was in his sixteenth year when he was 


50 THE PATHIOT history 01' ItlELANB. 

taken captive. He was sold as a slave in that part 
of Ireland now called Antrim, to four men, one of 
whom, Milcho, bought up their right from the 
other three, and employed him in feeding sheep or 
swine. Exposed to the severity of the weather, day 
and night, a lonely slave in a strange land, and 
probably as ignorant of the language as of the 
customs of his master, his captivity would, indeed, 
have been a bitter one, had he not brought with 
him, from a holy home, the elements of most fer- 
vent piety. A hundred times in the day, and a 
hundred times in the night, he lifted up the voice 
of prayer and supplication to the Lord of the 
bondman and free, and faithfully served the harsh, 
and at times cruel, master to whom Providence 
had assigned him. Perhaps he may have offered 
his sufferings for those who were serving a master 
even more harsh and cruel. 

After six years he was miraculously delivered. 
A voice, that was not of earth, addressed him in 
the stillness of the night, and commanded him to 
hasten to a certain port, where he would find a 
ship ready to take him to his own country. "And 
I came," says the saint, " in the power of the Lord, 
who directed my course towards a good end ; and 
I was under no apprehension until I arrived where 
the ship was. It was then clearing out, and I 
called for a passage. But the master of the vessel 
got angry, and said to me, ' Do not attempt to 
come with us.' On hearing this I retired, for the 

ST. Patrick's escape from captivity. 51 

purpose of going to the cabin where I had been 
received as a guest. And, on my way thither, I 
began to pray but before I had finished my prayer, 
I heard one ot the men crying out with a loud voice 
after me, ' Come, quickly ; for they are calling you,' 
and immediately I returned. And they said to 
me, ' Come, we receive thee on trust. Be our 
friend, just as it may be agreeable to you.' "VVe 
then set sail, and after three days reached land." 
They landed in a place called Treguir, in Brittany, 
some distance from his native town. 

But the coast was wild and desolate, and after 
they had escaped the perils of the sea, they seemed 
in no small danger of perishing by hunger on the 
shore. Happily for them, they had a saint in their 
company. Our Divine Lord had promised that His 
disciples should do even greater things than He 
did ; and He who had Himself taken pity on a 
starving multitude and satisfied their hunger, en- 
abled His servant, St. Patrick, to perform a some- 
what similar miracle, and by his prayers he 
obtained a supply of food for the good sailors. No 
doubt they rejoiced now for their act of charity to 
the saint ; and the master of the ship, who had at 
first forbidden Patrick to come with them, must 
have learned that most blessed lesson, that to be* 
friend the good and holy is the best poHcy for our- 
selves even in this world, and it assuredly will 
promote our highest interests in the next. 

St, Patrick's captivity had lasted for about six' 


teen years, so that lie had time to become thoroughly 
acquainted with the language of the Irish, and 
with their religion and customs. All this was 
overruled by God to the one great end. The 
Catholic missionaries who had previously visited 
Ireland, must have found their ignorance of the 
Celtic tongue a great hindrance to their success, for 
then, as now, that beautiful and expressive language 
was the only one to which the Celt could listen 
with pleasure. 

It is said that St. Patrick was taken captive a 
second time, but this captivity only lasted sixty 
days. Some historians have supposed that this 
captivity occurred after his visit to St. Martin of 
Tours. It is at least certain that the saint wished 
now to dedicate his life to the God who had mira- 
culously delivered him from slavery, by devoting 
himself to His service, and preaching to poor sin- 
ners the means of deliverance from a far worse 
bondage than that which he had so patiently 

As none were allowed to become priests without 
many years of study and careful preparation, it 
was necessary for Patrick, or Succat, as he was 
then called, to spend some time at one or other of 
the great monasteries established on the continent 
of Europe, where the monks devoted themselves 
to the education of youth. This example of the 
saint must surely encourage those whose secular 
education has been neglected, and who desire to 


advance in knowledge to fit themselves for God's 
holy service. Nothing but a most fervent love of 
God and most ardent zeal for souls, could have 
carried the saint through such an arduous course. 
For j^ears he had not heard a word spoken except 
in the Celtic tongue, and probably he had almost 
forgotten the language of his own people. If he 
had learned even the rudiments of Latin, this was 
also most likely forgotten, and years of toil in 
domestic service were in any case a bad preparation 
for his new life. But Patrick was indeed "brave 
in battle " — in battle with himself, and in battle 
for God. 

It is important however to remember these cir- 
cumstances, as they account for what he says in 
his " Confession" of his want of human learning. 
Human learning is indeed greatly to be admired 
and prized, and it is an inestimable blessing if it 
is sanctified by Divine wisdom ; but learning was 
not necessary for an apostle, and God seems to 
have often chosen the unlearned for the evangeli- 
zation of heathen nations, to show that the success 
of their work was not to be attributed to them. 

The great monastery where St. Patrick studied 
was at Marmoutier, near Tours, under the direction 
of his maternal uncle, St. Martin. Here he re- 
ceived the tonsure, and was instructed by his 
saintly relative in science and religion. Many 
most interesting facts are recorded of St. Patrick 
during his residence at Marmoutier, but these 


must be reserved for a larger work where there 
will be space for fuller details. 

It was here also that St. Patrick was favoured 
with the vision wliich made kno^vn to him the 
will of God concerning his mission to Ireland. 
He thus records this favour in his Confession: 
" I saw, in a vision of the night, a man named 
Victoricus coming, as if from Ireland, with a large 
parcel of letters, one of which he handed to me. 
On reading the beginning of it, I found it con- 
tained these words : ' The voice of the Irish,' and 
while reading it, I thought I heard at the same 
moment the voice of a multitude of persons near 
the west of Ireland, which is near the western 
sea j and they cried out as if with one voice. We 
entreat thee, holy youth, to come and henceforth dwell 
among us. And I was greatly affected in my 
heart, and could read no longer, and then I 
awoke." Like St. Joseph awakened from sleep by 
the angels commanding him to go into Egypt, and 
obeying promptly, so also is the blessed Patrick. 
He hears to obey, and he knows that to pre- 
pare himself for the work to which he is ap- 
pointed is the truest form which his obedience can 

After the death of St. Martin, St. Patrick left 
the monastery of Marmoutier, and proceeded to 
Lerins, which was even then called the insula heata, 
or holy island, from the number of holy men who 
either dwelt there or came thither for instruction. 


St. Honoratus, the founder of this famous school 
and monastery, was then living, and at the time 
of St. Patrick's visit, many saintly persons were 
assembled there. Amongst others we find the 
names of St. Hilary of Aries, St. Lupas of Troyes, 
and the famous St. Vincent of Lerins. 

St. Patrick is supposed to have remained about 
nine years at Lerins. It was here he received the 
Staff of Jesus, which was wantonly burned at 
the time of the so-called Keformation. 

St. Bernard mentions this Bachall Isu, in his 
life of St. Malachy, as one of those insignia of the 
see of Armagh, which were popularly believed to 
confer upon the possessor a title to be regarded 
and obeyed as the successor of St. Patrick. In- 
deed, the great antiquity of this long-treasured relic 
has never been questioned; nor is there any reason 
to suppose that it was not some way made a mira- 
culous gift. 

St. Patrick now returned to his old master and 
spiritual guide, St. Germanus, of whom we shall 
here give some account. AVell might the guardian 
angel of our great saint direct him to one so holy 
and so full of zeal for souls, and so fervently de- 
voted to the advancement of the holy Catholic 
Church throughout the world. 

St. Fiacc, one of St. Patrick's first converts, 
vn'ote a life of the great saint in verse, and he 
thus describes his intercourse with Germanus : 


" The angel Victor sent Patrick over the Alps ; 
Admirable was his journey — 
Until he took his abode with Germamis, 
Far away in the south of Letha. 
In the isles of the Tyrrhene sea he remained : 
In them he meditated ; 
He read the canon with Germanus— 
This, histories made known." 

In the year 432 St. Patrick landed in Ireland. 
It was the first year of the pontificate of St. 
Sixtus III., the successor to Celestine ; the fourth 
year of the reign of Laeghair6, son of Nial of the 
Nine Hostages, King of Ireland. It is generally 
supposed that the saint landed first at a place 
called Inbher De, believed to be the mouth of the 
Bray river, in Wicklow. Here he was repulsed 
by the inhabitants, — a circumstance which can be 
easily accounted for from its proximity to the terri- 
tory of King Nathi, who had so lately driven away 
his predecessor, Palladius. 

St. Patrick returned to his ship, and sailing 
towards the north, landed at the little island of 
Holm Patrick, near Skerries, off the north coast of 
DubUn. After a brief stay he proceeded still 
farther northward, and finally entering Strangford 
Lough, landed with his companions in the district 
of Magh-inis, in the present barony of Lecale. 
Having penetrated some distance into the interior, 
they were encountered by Dicho, the lord of the 
soil, who, hearing of their embarkation, and sup- 
posing them to be pirates, had assembled a for- 

ST. patrck's first convert. 57 

midable body of retainers to expel them from his 
shores. But it is said, that the moment he per- 
ceived Patrick, his apprehensions vanished. After 
some brief converse, Dicho imdted the saint and 
his companions to his house, and soon after received 
himself the grace of holy baptism. Dicho was St. 
Patrick's first convert, and the first who erected a 
Christian church under his direction. The memory 
of this event is still preserved in the name Saull, 
the modern contraction of Sahhall Padruic, or 
Patrick's Barn. The saint was especially attached 
to the scene of his first missionary success, and 
frequently retired to the monastery which was 
established there later. 

After a brief residence with the new converts, 
Patrick set out for the habitation of his old master, 
Milcho, who lived near Slieve Mis, in the present 
county of Antrim, then part of the territory called 
Dalriada. It is said, that when Milcho heard of 
the approach of his former slave, he became so 
indignant, that, in a violent fit of passion, he set 
fire to his house, and perished himself in the flames. 
The saint returned to Saull, and from thence 
journeyed by water to the mouth of the Boyne, 
where he landed at a small port called Colp. Tara 
was Ms destination ; but on his way thither he 
stayed a night at the house of a man of property, 
named Seschnan. This man and liis whole family 
were baptized, and one of his sons received the 
name of Benignus from St. Patrick, on account of 


the gentleness of his manner. The holy youth 
attached himself from this moment to his master, 
and was his successor in the primatial see of 

St. Patrick arrived at Slane on Holy Saturday, 
where he caused a tent to be erected, and Hghted 
the paschal fire at nightfall, preparatory to the 
celebration of the Easter festival. The princes and 
chieftains of Meath were, at the same time, as- 
sembled at Tara, where King Laeghaire was holding 
a great pagan festival. The object of this meeting 
has been disputed, some authorities saying that it 
was convoked to celebrate the Beltinne, or fire of 
Bal, or Baal; others, that the king was commemorat- 
ing his own birthday. On the festival of Beltinne it 
was forbidden to light any fire until a flame was 
visible from the top of Tara Hill. Laeghair6 was 
indignant that this regulation should have been 
infringed ; and, probably, the representation of his 
druids regarding the mission of the great apostle 
did not tend to allay his wrath. Determined to 
examine himself into the intention of these bold 
strangers, he set forth, accompanied by his bards 
and attendants, to the place where the sacred fire 
had been kindled, and ordered the apostle to be 
brought before him, strictly commanding, at the 
same time, that no respect should be shown to 

Notwithstanding the king's command, Ere, the 
son of Dego, rose up to salute him, obtained the 


grace of conversion, and was subsequently pro- 
moted to tlie episcopate. The result of this inter- 
view was the appointment of a public discussion, 
to take place the next day at Tara, between St. 
Patrick and the pagan bards. 

It was Easter Sunday, — a day ever memorable 
for this event in the annals of Erin. Laeghair6 
and his court sat in state to receive the ambassador 
of the Eternal King. Treacherous preparations 
had been made, and it was anticipated that Patrick 
and his companions would scarcely reach Tara 
alive. The saint was aware of the machinations 
of his enemies, but that was of no value to 
him save as it was in performing the great work 
assigned him, and the success of that work was 
in the safe keeping of Another. The old writers 
love to dwell on the meek dignity of the apostle 
during this day of trial and triumph. He set 
forth with his companions, from where he had 
encamped, in solemn procession, singing a hymn 
of invocation which he had composed, in the Irish 
tongue, for the occasion, and which is still pre- 
served and well authenticated. He was clothed, 
as usual, in white robes ; but he wore his mitre, 
and carried in his hand the Staff of Jesus. Eight 
priests attended him, robed also in white, and his 
youthful convert Benignus, the son of Seschnan. 

Thus, great in the arms of meekness and prayer, 
did the Christian hosts calmly face the array of 
pagan pomp and pride. Again the monarch had 


commanded that no honour should be paid to the 
saint, and again he was disobeyed. His own chief 
poet and druid, Dubtach, rose up instantly on the 
entrance of the strangers, and saluted the venerable 
apostle with affection and respect. The Christian 
doctrine was then explained by St. Patrick to his 
wondering audience, and such impression made, 
that, although Laeghair6 lived and died an obsti- 
nate pagan, he, nevertheless, permitted the saint to 
preach where and when he would, and to receive 
all who might come to him for instruction or holy 

On the following day St. Patrick repaired to 
Taillten, where the public games were commencing; 
and there he remained for a week, preaching to an 
immense concourse of people. Here his life was 
threatened by Oairbr6, a brother of King Laeg- 
hair^ ; but the saint was defended by another of 
the royal brothers, named Conall Creevan, who 
was shortly after converted. The church of 
Donough Patrick, in Meath, was founded by his 
desire. It is said that all the Irish churches which 
begin with the name Donough were founded by 
the saint, the foundation being always marked out 
by him on a Sunday, for which Domhnach is the 
Irish word. 

Ha^dng preached for some time in the western 
part of the territory of Meath, the saint proceeded 
as far as Magh Slecht, where the great idol of the 


nation, Ceann [or Crom] Cruach was solemnly 

Nor is the story of Aengus, another royal con- 
vert, less interesting. About the year 445, the 
saint, after passing through Ossory, and converting 
a great number of people, entered the kingdom of 
Munster. His destination was Cashel, from whence 
King Aengus, the son of Natfraech, came forth to 
meet him with the utmost reverence. 

This prince had already obtained some know- 
ledge of Christianity, and demanded the grace of 
holy baptism. 

The saint wilHngly complied with his request. 
His courtiers assembled with royal state to assist at 
the ceremony. St. Patrick carried in his hand, as 
usual, the Bachall Isu ; at the end of this crozier 
there was a sharp iron spike, by which he could 
plant it firmly in the ground beside him while 
preaching, or exercising his episcopal functions. 
On this occasion, however, he stuck it down into 
the king's foot, and did not perceive his mistake 
until — 

*' The royal foot transfixed, the gushing blood 
Enrich'd the pavement with a noble flood." 

The ceremony had concluded, and the prince had 
neither moved nor complained of the severe suffer- 
ing he had endured. When the saint expressed 
his deep regret for such an occurrence, Aengus 
merely replied that he believed it to be a part of 


the ceremony, and did not appear to consider any- 
suffering of consequence at such a moment. 

When such was the spirit of the old kings of 
Erinn who received the faith of Christ from Patrick, 
we can scarcely marvel that theii' descendants have 
adhered to it with such unexam.pled fidelity. 

After the conversion of the princesses Ethnea 
and Fethlimia, the daughters of King Laeghair6, 
St. Patrick traversed almost every part of Con- 
naught, and, as our divine Lord promised to those 
whom He commissioned to teach all nations, 
proved his mission by the exercise of miraculous 

The saint's greatest success was in the land of 
Tirawley, near the town of Foclut, from whence he 
had heard the voice of the Irish even in his native 
land. As he approached this district, he learned 
that the seven sons of King Amalgaidh were cele- 
brating a great festival. Their father had but lately 
died, and it was said these youths exceeded all the 
princes of the land in martial courage and skill in 
combat. St. Patrick advanced in solemn proces- 
sion even into the very midst of the assembly, and 
for his reward obtained the conversion of the seven 
princes and twelve thousand of their followers. It 
is said that his life was at this period in some 
danger, but that Endeus, one of the converted 
princes, and his son Conall, protected him. After 
seven years spent in Connaught, he passed into 
Ulster; there many received the grace of holy 


baptism, especially in that district now comprised 
in the county Monaghan. 

It was probably about this time that the saint 
returned to Meath, and appointed his nephew, St. 
Secundinus or Sechnal, who was bishop of the 
place, already mentioned as Domnach Sechnail, to 
preside over the northern churches during his own 
absence in the southern part of Ireland. 

The saint then visited those parts of Leinster 
which had been already evangelized by Palladius, 
and laid the foundation of many new churches. 
He placed one of his companions, Bishop Auxilius, 
at Killossy, near Naas, and another, Isserinnus, at 
I^ilcuUen, both in the present county of Kildare. 
At Leix, in the Queen's County, he obtained a 
great many disciples, and from thence he proceeded 
to visit his friend, the poet Dubtach, who, it will bo 
remembered, paid liim special honour at Tara, 
despite the royal prohibition to the contrary. 
Dubtach lived in that part of the country caUed 
Hy-Kinsallagh, now the county Carlow. It was 
here the poet Fiacc was first introduced to the saint, 
whom he afterwards so faithfully followed. Fiacc 
had been a disciple of Dubtach, and was by pro- 
fession a bard, and a member of an illustrious 
house. It was probably at this period that St. 
Patrick visited Munster, and the touching inci- 
dent already related occurred at the baptism of 
Aengus. This prince was singularly devoted to 
religion, as indeed his conduct during the ad- 


ministration of the sacrament of regeneration could 
not fail to indicate. 

The saint's mission in Munster was eminently 
successful. Lonan, the chief of the district of 
Ormond, entertained him -with great hospitality, 
and thousands embraced the faith. Many of the 
inhabitants of Corca Baiscin crossed the Shannon 
in their hide-covered boats (curaghs) when the 
saint was on the southern side, in Hy-Figeinte, and 
were baptized by him in the waters of their mag- 
nificent river. At their earnest entreaty, St. 
Patrick ascended a hill which commanded a view 
of the country of the Dalcassians, and gave his 
benediction to the whole territory. The hill is 
called Findine in the ancient lives of the saint ; 
but this name is now obsolete. Local tradition and 
antiquarian investigation make it probable that the 
favoured spot is that now called Cnoc Patrick, 
near Foynes Island. 

The saint's next journey was in the direction of 
Kerry, where he prophesied that " St. Brendan, 
of the race of Hua Alta, the great patriarch of 
monks, and star of the western world, would be 
born, and that his birth would take place some 
years after his own death." 

We have now to record the obituary of the only 
Irish martyr who suffered for the faith while Ire- 
land was being evangelized. While the saint was 
visiting Ui-Failghe, a territory now comprised in 
the King's County, a pagan chieftain, named Ber- 


raidhe, formed a plan for murdering the apostle. 
His wicked design came in some way to the know- 
ledge of Odran, the saint's charioteer, who so 
arranged matters as to take his master's place, and 
thus received the fatal 'blow intended for him. 

The see of Armagh was founded about the year 
455, towards the close of the great Apostle's life. 
The royal palace of Emania, in the immediate 
neighbourhood, was then the residence of the kings 
of Ulster. A wealthy chief, by name Daire, gave 
the saint a portion of land for the erection of his 
cathedral on an eminence called Druim-Sailecli, the 
Hill of Sallows. This high ground is now occupied 
by the city of Armagh (Ard Macha). Religious 
houses for both sexes were established near the 
church, and soon were filled with ardent and 
devoted subjects. 

The saint's labours were now drawn to a close, 
and the time of eternal rest was at hand. He re- 
tired to his favourite retreat at Saull, and there 
probably wrote his Confessions. It is said that he 
wished to die in the ecclesiastical metropolis of 
Ireland, and for this purpose, when he felt his end 
approaching, desired to be conveyed thither ; but 
even as he was on his journey an angel appeared to 
him, and desired him to return to Saull. Here he 
breathed his last, on Wednesday, the 17th of 
March, in the year of our Lord, 493. The holy 
viaticum and last anointing were administered to 
him by St. Tassach. 


The inteliigence of the death of St. Patrick 
spread rapidly through the country ; prelates and 
priests flocked from all parts to honour the mortal 
remains of their glorious father. As each arrived 
at Saull he proceeded to offer the adorable sacrifice 
according to his rank. At night the plain re- 
sounded with the chanting of psalms; and the 
darkness was banished by the light of such in- 
numerable torches, that it seemed as if day had 
hastened to dawn brightly on the beloved remains. 
St. Fiacc, in his often quoted Hymn, compares it 
to the long day caused by the standing of the sun 
at the command of Joshua, when he fought against 
the Gabaonites. 

The hymn which St. Patrick composed when on 
his journey to Tara has been preserved, but it is 
too long for insertion here. We shall, however, 
give one brief extract from it. 
*' I bind to myself to-day, 

The power of God to guide me ; 

The might of God to uphold me ; 

The wisdom of God to teach me ; 

The eye of God to watch over me ; 

The ear of God to hear me ; 

The word of God to give me speech ; 

The hand of God to protect me ; 

The way of God to prevent me ; 

The shield of God to shelter me ; 

The host of God to defend me — 
Against the snares of demons ; 
Against the temptations of vices." 


There were four great honours paid to St. 
Patrick in all the monasteries and churches in 
Ireland from the time of his death. The first of 
them was, that the Festival of St. Patrick in spring 
was honoured for three days with special feasting 
and rejoicing, except that flesh meat was not al- 
lowed to be used, as the 17th of March always fell 
in Lent. There were also other days kept in his 
honour ; but then, as now, this was his Feast-Day 
— the day on which he fell asleep in Christ, to use 
the beautiful language of those ancient times. 

The second honour was that there was a proper 
preface said at his mass. 

The thii'd and fourth honours were that his 
hymn should be sung for the whole time, and his 
Scotic Hymn always. Thus from the very death 
of Patrick he was honoured in the land of Erinn, 
still faithful to his memory. 

One of the lessons which he specially inculcated 
was, obedience to the See of Eome. All history 
informs us how nobly and at what sacrifice this 
obedience has been adhered to in Ireland. 

The secular history of Ireland, during the mis- 
sion of St. Patrick, affords but few events of 
interest or importance. King Laeghaire died, 
according to the Four Masters, A.D. 458. The 
popular opinion attributed his demise to the viola- 
tion of his oath to the Leinster men. It is doubt- 
ful whether he died a Christian ; but the account 
of his burial has been taken to prove the contrary. 


It is mucli to be regretted that persons entirely- 
ignorant of the Catholic faith, whether that igno- 
rance be wilful or invincible, should attempt to 
write lives of Catholic saints, or histories of Catho- 
hc countries. Such persons, no doubt uninten- 
tionally, make the most serious mistakes, which a 
well-educated Catholic child could easily rectify. 

It is probable that Oiliol Molt, who succeeded 
King Laeghaird, A.D. 459, Hved and died a pagan. 
Before conciudins: this chapter I must say a few 
words about St. Bridget. 

Brigid belonged to an illustrious family, who 
were lineally descended from Eochad, a brother of 
Conn of the Hundred Battles. She was born at 
Fochard, near Dundalk, about the year 453, where 
her parents happened to be staying at the time ; 
but Kildare was their usual place of residence, and 
there the holy virgin began her saintly career. In 
her sixteenth year she received the white cloak and 
religious veil, which was then the distinctive gar- 
ment of those who were specially dedicated to 
Christ, from the hands of St. Macaille, the Bishop 
of Usneach, in Westmeath. Eight young maidens 
of noble birth took the veil with her. Their first 
residence was at a place in the King's County, still 
called Brigidstown. The fame of her sanctity now 
extended far and wide, and she was earnestly 
solicited from various parts of the country to found 
similar establishments. Her first mission was to 
Munster, at the request of Ere, the holy Bishop of 


Slane, who had a singular respect for her virtue. 
Soon after, she founded a house of her order in the 
plain of CHach, near Limerick ; but the people of 
Leinster at last became fearful of losing their trea- 
sure, and sent a deputation requesting her return, 
and offering land for the foundation of a large nun- 
nery. Thus was established, in 483, the famous 
Monastery of Kildare, or the Church of the Oak. 

At the request of the saint, a bishop was ap- 
pointed to take charge of this important work ; 
and under the guidance of Conlaeth, who heretofore 
had been an humble anchorite, it soon became dis- 
tinguished for its sanctity and usefulness. The 
concourse of strangers and pilgrims was immense ; 
and in the once solitary plain one of the largest cities 
of the time soon made its appearance. It is sin 
gular and interesting to remark, how the call to a 
life of virginity was felt and corresponded with in 
the newly Christianized country, even as it had 
been in the Eoman Empire, when it also received 
the faith. Nor is it less noticeable how the same 
safeguards and episcopal rule preserved the foun- 
dations of each land in purity and peace, and have 
transmitted even to our own days in the same 
Church, and in it only, that privileged life. 



Some Account of the famous Palace of Tara— The Cursing 
of Tara — The First Saxon Invasion— The First Danish 
Invasion — Cruelty of the Danes — The Black and White 
Gentiles — The Danes Plunder Ireland. 

^^[^TrN the reign of Tuathal a portion of land was 
fev^l ^ separated from each of the four provinces, 
v/^1^ which met together at a certain place : this 
portion was considered a distinct part of the country 
from the provinces. It was situated in the present 
county Meath. 

In the tract separated from Munster, Tuathal 
built the royal seat of Tlachtga, where the fire of 
Tlachtga was ordained to be kindled. On the 
night of All Saints, the Druids assembled here to 
offer sacrifices, and it was established, under heavy 
penalties, that no fire should be kindled on that 
night throughout the kingdom, so that the fire 
which was used afterwards might be procured from 
this. To obtain the privilege, the people were 
obliged to pay over a scraball, or about three-pence, 
yearly, to the King of Munster. 

On the 1st of May a convocation was held in the 
royal palace of the King of Connaught. He ob- 
tained subsidies in horses and arms from those who 
came to this assembly. On this occasion two fires 


were lit, between which cattle were driven as a 
preventative or charm against the murrain and 
other pestilential distempers. From this custom 
the feast of St. Philip and St. James was anciently 
called Beltinne, or the Day of Bel's Fire. 

The third palace, erected by Tuathal, was on the 
portion of land taken from the province of Ulster. 
Here the celebrated fair of Tailtean was held, and 
contracts of marriage were frequently made. The 
royal tribute was raised by exacting an ounce of 
silver from every couple who were contracted and 
married at that time. The fair of Tailtean had 
been instituted some years before, in honour of 
Tailte, who was buried here. This fair, says Keat- 
ing, was then kept upon the day known in the Irish 
language as La Lughnasa, or the day ordained by 
Lughaidh, and is called in English Lammas- day. 

The fourth and the most important of the royal 
seats was the palace of Temair, or Tara ; here, with 
the greatest state and ceremony, the affairs of the 
nation were discussed and decided. On these 
occasions, in order to preserve the deliberations 
from the public, the most strict secrecy was 
observed, and women were carefully excluded. 
Tara was cursed by St. Rodanus of Lothra, in Tip- 
perary, in the reign of Diarmiad, in punishment 
for violation of sanctuary ; and so complete was 
its subsequent desertion, that in 975 it was de- 
scribed as a desert overgrown with grass and 


But enough still remains to give ample evidence 
of its former magnificence. An inspection of the 
site must convince the beholder of tlie vast extent 
of its ancient palaces ; no*r can we, for a moment, 
coincide with those who are pleased to consider 
that these palaces consisted merely of a few planks 
of wood, rudely plastered over, or of hollow mounds 
of earth. It is true that, from an association of 
ideas, the cause of so many fallacies, we naturally 
connect " halls " with marble pavements, magnifi- 
cently carved pillars, and tesselated floors ; but the 
harp that once resounded through Tara's halls, 
may have had as appreciating, if not as critical an 
audience as any which now exists, and the "halls" 
may have been none the less stately, because 
their floor was strewn with sand, or the tro- 
phies which adorned them fastened to walls of 

According to Celtic tradition, as embodied in 
our annals, Tara became the chief residence of the 
Irish kings on the first establishment of a monar- 
chical government under Slainge : — 

" Slainge of the Firbolgs was he by whom Te- 
mair was first raised." 

One hundred and fifty monarchs reigned there 
from this period until its destruction in 563. The 
Fees, or triennial assembly, was instituted by Ollamh 
Fodhla. The nature of these meetings is explained 
in a poem, which Keating ascribes to O'Flynn, who 
died, A.D. 984. It is clear that what was then con- 


sidered crime was punished in a very peremptory 
manner ; for — 

"Gold was not received as retribution from him, 
But his soul in one hour." 

The first Saxon invasion of Ireland took place 
about the year 623. A treacherous, false-hearted 
Irishman, after killing the reigning sovereign, fled 
to England for protection, and sought the assistance 
of strangers to enable him to obtain the honours 
he so unlawfully coveted. He met with a Avell 
deserved fate, and was slain at the famous battle of 
Magh Eath. But unfortunately the evil which he 
did, lived after him, and many unprincipled men 
were found who followed his perfidious example, 
and were ready to sacrifice their country for some 
miserable gain. With but some few exceptions, 
however, they reaped the just reward of their 

The Danish invasion, one of the most important 
and memorable events in Irish history, occurred at 
the commencement of the seventh century. The 
Danes were brave and cruel, but neither their 
bravery nor their cruelty could have had much 
effect on old Ireland, had they not found Irishmen 
who were equally brave and equally cruel, who 
helped them to attain their ends. I say those 
Irishmen were equally brave ; no one has ever 
questioned the valour of the Celt. I say they were 


equally cruel — nay, they were even more so. The 
Dane only fought against strangers; the Irish 
■were more cruel because they fought against each 
other. Had the Irish united as one man against 
the Danes, they could never have plundered Ire- 
land ; had the Irish united as one man against the 
Saxons, they could never have conquered Ireland. 

But why should we blame the men of those days 
when even in our own time Irishmen will keep up 
paltry quarrels and differences, instead of uniting 
in one common band for the good of their ill-fated 
country. Every Irishman should treat every other 
Irishman as a friend and a brother. A united 
people will always be a powerful people. A small 
body united can effect what a multitude disunited 
must fail to accomplish. 

In the year 795, down came the wild, brave, 
cruel Danes, upon the Irish coast. They had 
already attacked the English coasts, " whilst the 
pious King Bertric was reigning over its western 
division." Their arrival was sudden and so un- 
expected, that the king's officer took them for 
merchants, paying with his life for the mistake. 
A Welsh chronicle, known by the name of Brut-y 
Tywysogion, or the Chronicle of the Chieftains, has 
a corresponding record under the year 790 : " Ten 
years with fourscore and seven hundred was the 
age of Christ when the pagans went to Ireland." 
Three MSS. add, " and destroyed Rechren." 
Another chronicle mentions, that the black pagans, 


who were the first of their nation to land in 
Ireland, had previously been defeated in Gla- 
morganshire, and after their defeat they had 
invaded Ireland, and devastated Rechru. 

If by bravery we understand utter recklessness 
of life, and utter recklessness in inflicting cruelties 
on others, then the Vikings may be termed brave. 
The heroism of patient endurance was a bravery 
but little understood at that period; If the heathen 
Viking was brave when he plundered and burned 
monastic shrines — when he massacred the defence- 
less with wanton cruelty — when he flung little 
children on the point of spears, and gloated over 
their dying agonies ; perhaps we may also admit 
those who endured such torments, either in their 
own persons, or in the persons of those who were 
dear to them, and yet returned again and again to 
restore the shrine so rudely destroyed, have also 
their claims to be termed brave, and may demand 
some commendation for that virtue from posterity. 

As plunder was the sole object of these barba- 
rians, they naturally sought it first where it could 
be obtained most easily and surely. The islands 
on the Irish coast were studded wdth monasteries. 
Their position was chosen as one which seemed 
peculiarly suitable for a life of retreat from worldly 
turmoil, and contemplation of heavenly things. 
They were richly endowed, for ancient piety 
deemed it could never give enough to G-od. The 
shrines were adorned with jewels, purchased with 


the wealth which the monks had renounced for 
their own use : the sacred vessels were costly, the 
gifts of generous hearts. The Danes commenced 
their work of plunder and devastation in the year 
795. Three years after, A.D. 798, they ravaged 
Inis-patrick of Man and the Hebrides. In 803 
they burned " Hi-Coluim-Cille." In 806 they 
attacked the island again, and killed sixty-eight of 
the laity and clergy. In 807 they became em- 
boldened by success, and for the first time marched 
inland; and after burning Inishmurray, they 
attacked Eoscommon. During the year 812 and 
813 they made raids in Connaught and Munster, 
but not without encountering stout resistance from 
the native forces. After this predatory and inter- 
necine warfare had continued for about thirty 
years, Turgesius, a Norwegian prince, established 
himself as sovereign of the Vikings, and made 
Armagh his head-quarters, A.D. 830. If the Irish 
chieftains had united their forces, and acted in 
concert, the result would have been the expulsion 
of the intruders ; but, unhappily, this unity of 
purpose in matters political has never existed. The 
Danes made and broke alliances with the provincial 
kings at their own convenience, while these princes 
gladly availed themselves of even temporary assis- 
tance from their cruel foes, while engaged in 
domestic wars which should never have been un- 
dertaken. Still the Northmen were more than 
once driven from the country by the braverjr of 


the native commanders, and they often paid dearly 
for the cruel wrongs they inflicted on their hapless 
victims. Sometimes the Danish chiefs mustered 
all their forces, and left the island for a brief 
period, to ravage the shores of England or Scot- 
land ; but they soon returned, to inflict new bar- 
barities on the unfortunate Irish. 

Burning churches or destroying monasteries, 
was a favourite pastime of these pirates, wherever 
they could obtain a landing on Christian shores ; 
and the number of religious houses in Ireland, 
aff*orded them abundant means of gratifying their 
barbarous inclinations. But when they became so 
far masters as to have obtained some permanent 
settlement, this mode of j^roceeding was considered 
either more troublesome or less profitable than 
that of appropriating to themselves the abbeys and 
churches. Turgesius, it is said, placed an abbot 
of his own in every monastery ; and as he had 
already conferred ecclesiastical offices on himself 
and on his lady, we may presume he was not very 
particular in his selections. The villages, too, 
were placed under the rule of a Danish captain ; 
and each family was obliged to maintain a soldier 
of that nation, who made himself master of the 
house, using and wasting the food, for lack of 
which the starving children of the lawful owner 
were often dying of hunger. 

All education was strictly forbidden ; books and 
manuscripts were burned and droivned ; and the 


poets, historians, and musicians, imprisoned and 
driven to the woods and mountains. Martial 
sports were interdicted, from the lowest to the 
highest rank. Even nobles and princes were for- 
bidden to wear their usual habiliments, the cast-off 
clothes of the Danes being considered sufficiently- 
good for slaves. 

The clergy, who had been driven from their 
monasteries, concealed themselves as best they 
could, continuing still their prayers and fasts, and 
the fervent recital of the Divine Office. The Irish, 
true to their faith in every trial, were not slow to 
attribute their deliverance to the prayers of these 
holy men. 

In 831, Nial Caille led an army against them, 
and defeated them at Derry; but, in the mean- 
while Felim, King of Cashel, with contemptible 
selfishness, marched into Leinster to claim tribute, 
and plundered every one except the Danes, who 
should have been alone considered as enemies at 
such a time. Even the churches were not spared 
by him, for he laid waste the termon-lands of 
Clonmacnois, " up to the church-door." After his 
death, A.D. 843, a brave and good king came to 
the rescue of his unfortunate country. ^V^lile still 
King of Meath, Meloughlin had freed the nation 
from Turgesius, one of its worst tyrants, by 
drowning him in Lough Owel. His death was a 
signal for general onslaught on the Danes. The 
people rose simultaneously, and either massacre^ 


their enemies, or drove them to their ships. In 
846 Meloughlin met their forces at Skreen, where 
they were defeated ; they also suffered a reverse at 

The Danes themselves were now divided into 
two parties — the Dubh Galls, or Black Gentiles ; 
and the Finn Galls, or White Gentiles. A fierce 
conflict took place between them in the year 850, 
in which the Dubh Galls conquered. In the fol- 
owing year, however, both parties submitted to 
Amlaff, son of the Norwegian king; and thus 
their power was once more consolidated. Amlaff 
remained in Dublin ; his brothers, Sitric and Ivar, 
stationed themselves in Waterford and limerick. 
A great meeting was now convened by the eccle- 
siastics of Ireland at Rathugh, for the purpose of 
estabhshing peace and concord amongst the native 
princes. The northern Hy-Nials alone remained 
belligerent ; and to defend themselves, pursued the 
usual suicidal course of entering into an alliance 
with the Danes. Upon the death of the Irish 
monarch, the northern chief, Hugh Finnlaith, suc- 
ceeded to the royal power ; broke his treaty with 
Amlaff, which had been only one of convenience, and 
turned his arms vigorously against the foreigners. 
This prince was married to a daughter of Kenneth 
M 'Alpine, the first sole Monarch of Scotland. 
After the death of the Irish prince, his wife married 
his successor, Flann, who, according to the alter- 
nate plan of succession, came of the southern Hy- 


Nial family, and was a son of Melouglilin, once the 
formidable opponent of his lady's former husband. 
During the reign of Flann, Cormac Mac CuUinan, a 
prelate, distinguished for his learning and sanctity, 
was obliged to unite the office of priest and king. 
This unusual combination, however, was not alto- 
gether without precedent. The archbishopric of 
Cashel owes its origin remotely to this great man ; 
as from the circumstance of the city of Cashel 
having been the seat of royalty in the south, and 
the residence of the kings of Munster, it was ex- 
alted, in the twelfth century, to the dignity of an 
archiepiscopal see. 

Of Cormac, however interesting his history, we 
can only give a passing word. His reign com- 
menced peaceably; and so wise — perhaps we should 
rather say, so holy — was his rule, that his kingdom 
once more enjoyed comparative tranquillity; and 
religion and learning flourished again as it had 
done in happier times. 

But the kingdom which he had been compelled 
to rule, was threatened by the very person who 
should have protected it most carefully ; and 
Cormac, after every effort to procure peace, was 
obliged to defend his people against the attacks of 
Flann. Even then a treaty might have been made 
with the belligerent monarch ; but Cormac, unfor- 
tunately for his people and himself, was guided by 
an abbot, named Flahertach, who was by no means 
so peaceably disposed as his good master. This 


unruly ecclesiastic urged war on those who were 
already too \\dlling to undertake it ; and then 
made such representations to the bishop-king, as to 
induce him to yield a reluctant consent. It is said 
that Cormac had an intimation of his approaching 
end. It is at least certain, that he made prepara- 
tion for death, as if he believed it to be imminent. 

On the eve of the fatal engagement he made his 
confession, and added some articles to his will, in 
which he left large bounties to many of the reli- 
gious houses throughout the kingdom. To Lismore 
he bequeathed a golden chalice and some rich 
vestments ; to Armagh, twenty-four ounces of gold 
and silver ; to his own church of Cashel, a golden 
and silver chalice, with the famous Saltair. Then 
he retired to a private place for prayer, desiring 
the few persons whom he had informed of his ap- 
proaching fate to keep their information secret, as 
he knew well the effect such intelligence would 
have on his army, were it generally known. 

Though the king had no doubt that he would 
perish on the field, he still showed the utmost 
bravery, and made every effort to cheer and 
encourage his troops ; but the men lost spirit in 
the very onset of the battle, and probably were 
terrified at the numerical strength of their oppo- 
nents. Six thousand Munster men were slain, with 
many of their princes and cliieftains. Cormac was 
killed by falling under his horse, which missed its 
footing on a bank, slippery with the blood of the 


slain. A common soldier, who recognized his 
remains, cut off his head, and brought it as a 
trophy to Flann ; but the monarch bewailed the 
death of the good and great prince, and reproved 
the indignity with which his remains had been 
treated. This battle was fought at a place called 
Bealagh Mughna, now Ballaghmoon, in the county 
of Kildare, a few miles from the town of Carlow. 

Flahertach survived the battle, and, after some 
years spent in penance, became once more minister, 
and ultimately King of Munster. As he advanced 
in years, he learned to love peace, and his once 
irascible temper became calm and equable. 

The Eock of Cashel, and the ruins of a small but 
once beautiful chapel, still preserve the memory of 
the bishop-king. His literary fame also has its 
memorials. His Eule is contained in a poem of 
fourteen stanzas, written in the most pure and 
ancient style of Gaedhilic, of which, as well as of 
many other languages, the illustrious Cormac was 
so profound a master. The Eule is general in 
several of its inculcations ; but it appears to have 
been written particularly as an instruction to a 
priest, for the moral and spiritual direction of him- 
self and his flock. He was also skilled in the 
Ogham writings, as may be gathered from a poem 
written by a contemporary, who, in paying com- 
pliments to many of the Irish kings and chiefs, 
addresses the following stanzas to Cormac : — 


"Cormac of Cashel, with his champions, 
Munster is his, — may he long enjoy it ! 
Around the Eling of RaUh-Bicli are cultivated 
The letters and the trees. " 

The death of Cormac is thus pathetically deplored 
by Dalian, son of M6r : — 

"The bishop, the soul's director, the renowned illustrious 
King of Caiseal, King of Farnumha : God ! alas for 
Cormac !" 

Flann's last years were disturbed by domestic 
dissensions. His sons, Donough and Conor, both 
rebelled against him ; but Nial Glundubh (of the 
black knee), a northern Hy-Nial chief, led an army 
against them, and compelled them to give hostages 
to their father. Flann died the following year, 
A.D. 914, and was succeeded by the prince who 
had so ably defended him. Meanwhile, the Danes 
were not idle. Amlaff has signalized his advent 
by drowning Conchobhar, " heir apparent of Tara ;" 
by slajdng all the chieftains of the Deisi at Gluain- 
Doimh ', by killing the son of Clennfaeladh, King 
of Muscraighe Breoghain ; by smothering Mach- 
daighren in a cave, and by the destruction of Caitill 
Find (Ketill the White) and his whole garrison. 
Oisill is the next chief of importance ; and he 
" succeeded in plundering the greatest part of Ire- 
land." It is not recorded how long he was occupied 
in performing this exploit, but he was eventually 
slain, and his army cut of, by the men of Erinn. 


The deaths of several Danish chieftains are re- 
corded about tliis period, and referred to the 
vengeance of certain saints, whose shrines they had 
desecrated. In A.d. 864 according to the Four 
Masters, 867 according to O'Flaherty, the Danes 
were defeated at Lough Foyle, by Hugh Finnliath, 
King of Ireland. Soon after, Leinster and Mun- 
ster were plundered by a Scandinavian chief, named 
Baraid, who advanced as far as Ciarraighe (Kerry) : 
" And they left not a cave under ground that they 
did not explore ; and they left nothing, from 
Limerick to Cork, that they did not ravish." What 
treasures the antiquarian of the nineteenth cen- 
tury must have lost by this marauder ! How great 
must have been the wealth of the kings and 
princes of ancient Erinn, where so much remains 
after so much was taken! In 877 the Black 
Gentiles took refuge in Scotland, after suffering 
a defeat in an engagement with the White Gen- 
tiles. They were, however consoled by a victory 
over the men of Alba, in which Constantino, son 
of Kenneth, was slain, and many others with him. 
Their success proved beneficial to Ireland, for we 
are told that a period of "rest to the men of 
Erinn " ensued. The Danes still held their own 
in Dublin and at Limerick, occasionally plundered 
the churches, and now and then had a skirmish 
with the " men of Erinn ;" but for forty years the 
country was free from the foreign fleets, and 
therefore, enjoyed a time of comparative quiet. 


In the year 913 new fleets arrived. They landed 
in the harbour of Waterford, where they had a 
settlement formerly ; but though they obtained 
assistance here, they were defeated by the native 
Irish, both in Kerry and Tipperary. Sitric came 
with another fleet in 915, and settled at Cenn- 
Fuait. Here he was attacked by the Irish army, 
but they were repulsed with great slaughter. Two 
years after they received another disastrous defeat 
at Cill-Mosanhog, near Eathfarnham. A large 
cromlech, still in that neighbourhood, probably 
marks the graves of the heroes slain in that engage- 
ment. Twelve kings were slain in this battle. 
Their names are given in the Wars of the Gaedhil, 
and by other authorities, though in some places the 
number is increased. Nial Glundubh was amongst 
the slain. He is celebrated in pathetic verse by 
the bards, Of the battle was said : — 

" Fierce and hard was tlie Wednesday 
On which hosts were strewn under the fall of shields; 
It shall be called, till judgment's day. 
The destructive burning of Ath-cliath." 

The lamentation of Nial was, moreover, said ; — 

*' Sorrowful this day is sacred Ireland, 
Without a valiant chief of hostage reign ; 
It is to see the heavens without a sun, 
To view Magh-Neill without Nial." 

*' There is no cheerfulness in the happiness of men ; . 
There is no peace or joy among the hosts ; 
No fair can be celebrated 
Since the sorrow of sorrow died/* 


Donough, son of Flann Sinna, succeeded, and 
passed his reign in obscurity, with the exception of 
a victory over the Danes at Bregia. Two great 
chieftains, however, compensated by their prowess 
for his indifference; these were Muiixheartach, son 
of the brave Nial Glundubh, the next heir to the 
throne, and Callaghan of Cashel, King of Munster. 
The northern prince was a true patriot, wiUing to 
sacrifice every personal feeling for the good of his 
country : consequently, he proved a most formid- 
able foe to the Danish invader. Callaghan of 
Cashel was, perhaps, as brave, but his name cannot 
be held up to the admiration of posterity. The 
personal advancement of the southern Hy-Mals 
was more to him than the political advancement of 
his country; and he disgraced his name and his 
nation by leaguing with the invaders. In the year 
934 he pillaged Clonmacnois. Three years later 
he invaded Meath and Ossory, in conjunction with 
the Danes. Muircheartach was several times on 
the eve of engagements with the feeble monarch 
who nominally ruled the country, but he yielded 
for the sake of peace, or, as the chroniclers quaintly 
say, " God pacified them." After one of these 
pacifications, they joined forces, and laid " siege to 
the foreigners of Ath-cliath, so that they spoiled 
and plundered all that was under the dominion of 
the foreigners, from Ath-cliath to Ath-Truisten." 

In the twenty-second year of Donough, Muir- 
cheartach determined on a grand expedition for the 

muircheartach's exploits. 89 

subjugation of the Danes. He had abeady con- 
ducted a fleet to the Hebrides, from whence he 
returned flushed with victory. His first care was 
to assemble a body of troops of special valour; and 
he soon found himself at the head of a thousand 
heroes, and in a position to commence " his circuit 
of Ireland." The Danish chief, Sitric, was first 
seized as a hostage. He then carried ofl* Lorcan? 
King of Leinster. He next went to the Munster 
men, who were also prepared for battle ; but they 
too yielded, and gave up their monarch also, " and 
a fetter was put on him by Muircheartach." He 
afterwards proceeded into Connaught, where Con- 
chobhar, son of Tadhg, came to meet him, " but no 
gyve or lock was put upon him." He then returned 
to Oileach, carrying these kings with him as 
hostages. Here he feasted them for five months 
with knightly courtesy, and then sent them to the 
Monarch Donough. 

After these exploits, we cannot be surprised that 
Muircheartach should be styled the Hector of the 
west of Europe. But he soon finds his place in 
the never-ceasing obituary. In two years after his 
justly famous exploit, he was slain by " Blacaire, 
son of Godfrey, lord of the foreigners." This 
event occurred on the 26th of March, A.D. 941, 
according to the chronology of the Four Masters. 
The true year, however, is 943. The chroniclers 
briefly observe, that " Ard-Macha was plundered 
by the same foreigners, on the day after the killing 
of Muircheartach." 


Donough died in 942, after a reign of twenty- 
five years. He was succeeded by Congallacli, who 
was killed by the Danes, A.D. 954. Donnell 
O'Neill, a son of the brave Muircheartach, now ob- 
tained the royal power, such as it was ; and at his 
death the throne reverted to Maelseachlainn, or 
Malachy II., the last of his race who ever held the 
undisputed sovereignty of Ireland. 


Conversion of the Danes— Bricn Boroim^ and his brother 
Mahoim— Defeat of the Danes at Sulcoit— Death of 
Mahoun— Brian's Revenge— Brian and Malachy unite 
against the Danes. 

)ANY of the sea-coast towns were now in 
possession of the Danes. They had 
founded Limerick, and, indeed, Wex- 
ford and Waterford almost owe them the debt of 
parentage. Obviously, the ports were their grand 
securities — a ready refuge if driven by native 
valour to embark in their fleets ; convenient head- 
quarters when marauding expeditions to England 
or Scotland were in preparation. But the Danes 
never obtained the same power in Ireland as in the 
sister country. The domestic dissensions of the 
men of Erinn, ruinous as they were to the nation, 
gave it at least the advantage of having a brave 
and resolute body of men always in armsj and 


ready to face the foe at a moment's notice, when 
no selfish policy interfered. 

The year 948 has generally been assigned as that 
of the conversion of the Danes to Christianity; 
but, whatever the precise period may have been, 
the conversion was rather of a doubtful character, 
as we hear of their burning churches, plundering 
shrines, and slaughtering ecclesiastics with appar- 
ently as little remorse as ever. In the very year in 
which the Danes of Dublin are said to have been 
converted, they burned the belfry of Slane, while 
filled with religious who had sought refuge there- 
Meanwhile the Irish monarchies were daily weak- 
ened by divisions and domestic wars. Connaught 
was divided between two or three independent 
princes, and Munster into two kingdoms. 

The ancient division of the country into five 
provinces no longer held good ; and the Ard-Eigh, 
or chief monarch, was such only in name. Even 
the great northern Hy-Nials, long the bravest and 
most united of the Irish clans, were now divided 
into two portions, the Cinel-Connaill and Cinei- 
Owen ; the former of whom had been for some 
time excluded from the alternate accession of sov- 
reignty, which was still maintained betwen the two 
great families of the race of Nial. But, though 
this arrangement was persevered in with tolerable 
regularity, it tended little to the promotion of 
peace, as the northern princes were ever ready to 
take advantage of the weakness of the Meath men. 


The sovereignty of Munster had also been 
settled on the alternate principle, between the 
great tribe of Dalcassians, or north Munster race, 
and the Eoghanists, or southerners. This plan of 
succession, as may be supposed, failed to work 
peaceably; and, in 942, Cinneidigh, the father of 
the famous Brian Boroimh6 contested the sove- 
reignty with the Eoghanist prince, Callaghan 
Cashel ; but yielded in a chivalrous spirit, not very 
common under such circumstances, and jo.ined his 
former opponent in his contest with the Danes. 
The author of the Wars of the Gaedhill with the 
Gall gives a glowing account of the genealogy of 
Brian and his eldest brother, Mathgamhain. They 
are described as " two fierce, magnificent heroes, 
the two stout, able, valiant pillars." 

Mahoun was now firmly established on the 
throne, but his success procured him many enemies. 
A conspiracy was formed against him under the 
auspices of Ivar of Limerick, and his son, Dubh- 
cenn. The Eoghanist clans basely withdrew their 
allegiance from their lawful sovereign, allied them- 
selves with the Danes, and became principals in the 
plot of assassination. Their motive was as simple 
as their conduct was vile. The two Eoghanist 
families were represented by Donovan and Molloy. 
They were descendants of Oilioll Oluim, from 
whom Mahoun was also descended, but his family 
were Dalcassians. Hitherto the Eoghanists had 
succeeded in depriving the tribes of Dal-Cais of 


their fair share of alternate succession to the 
throne of Munster ; they became alarmed at and 
jealous of the advancement of the younger tribe, 
and determined to do by treachery what they could 
not do by force. With the usual headlong eager- 
ness of traitors, they seem to have forgotten Brian, 
and quite overlooked the retribution they might 
expect at his hands for their crime. There are 
two different accounts of the murder, which do 
not coincide in detail. The main facts, however, 
are reliable : Mahoun was entrapped in some way 
to the house of Donovan, and there he was basely 
murdered, in violation of the rights of hospitality 
and in defiance of the safe conduct of the bishop, 
which he secured before his visit. 

The traitors gained nothing by their treachery 
except the contempt of posterity. Brian was not 
slow in avenging his brother. "He was not a 
stone in place of an egg, nor a wisp of hay in place 
of a club ; but he was a hero in place of a hero, and 
valour after valour." 

Public opinion was not mistaken in its estimate 
of his character. Two years after the death of 
Mahoun, Brian invaded Donovan's territory, drove 
off his cattle, took the fortress of Cathair Cuan, 
and slew Donovan and his Danish ally, Harolt. 
He next proceeded to settle accounts with Molloy, 
Cogar^n is sent to the whole tribe of Ui Eachach, 
to know " the reason why " they killed Mahoun, 
and to declare that no cumhal or fine would be 


received, either in the shape of hostages, gold or 
cattle, but that MoUoy must himself be given up. 
Messages were also sent to Molloy, both general 
and particular— the general message challenged 
him to battle at Belach-Lechta ; the particular 
message, which in truth he hardly deserved, was a 
challenge to meet Murrough, Brian's son, in single 
combat. The result was the battle of Belach- 
Lechta, where Molloy was slain, with twelve hun- 
dred of his troops, both native and foreign. Brian 
remained master of the field and of the kingdom, 
A.D. 978. 

Brian was now undisputed King of Munster 
In 984 he was acknowledged Monarch of Leth 
Mogha, the southern half of Ireland. Meanwhile 
Malachy, who governed Leth Cuinn, or the northern 
half of Ireland, had not been idle. He fought a 
battle with the Danes in 979, near Tara, in which 
he defeated their forces, and slew Raguall, son of 
Amlaibh, King of Dublin. Amlaibh felt the defeat 
so severely, that he retired to lona, where he died 
of a broken heart. Donough O'Neill, son of Muir- 
cheartach, died this year, and Malachy obtained the 
regal dignity. Emboldened by his success at Tara, 
he resolved to attack the foreigners in Dublin ; he 
therefore laid siege to that city, and compelled it to 
surrender after three days, liberated two thousand 
prisoners, including the King of Leinster, and took 
abundant spoils. At the same time he issued a 
proclamation, freeing every Irishman then in 


bondage to the Dcanes, and stipulating that the 
race of Nial should henceforth be free from tribute 
to the foreigners. 

It is probable that Brian had already formed 
designs for obtaining the royal power. The country 
resounded with the fame of his exploits, and 
Malachy became aware at last that he should 
either have him for an ally or an enemy. He 
prudently chose the former alternative, and in the 
nineteenth year of his reign (997 according to the 
Four Masters) he made arrangements with Brian 
for a great campaign against the common enemy. 
Malachy surrendered all hostages to Brian, and 
Brian agreed to recognize Malachy as sole monarch 
of northern Erinn, "without war or trespass.'' 
This treaty was absolutely necessary, in order to 
oiler effective resistance to the Danes. The con- 
duct of the two kings towards each other, had not 
been of a conciliatory nature previously. In 981 
Malachy had invaded the territory of the Dalcas- 
sians, and uprooted the great oak-tree of Magh 
Adhair, under which its kings were crowned — an 
insult which could not fail to excite bitter feelings 
both in prince and people. In 939 the monarch 
occupied himself fighting the Danes in Dublin, to 
whom he laid siege for twenty nights, reducing the 
garrison to such straits that they were obhged to 
drink the salt water when the tide rose in the river. 
Brian then made reprisals on Malachy, by sending 
boats up the Shannon, burning the royal rath of 


Dun Sciath. Malachy, in his turn, recrossed the 
Shannon, burned Nenagh, plundered Ormond, and 
defeated Brian himself in battle. He then marched 
again to Dublin, and once more attacked " the proud 
invader." It was on this occasion that he obtained 
the " collar of gold," which Moore has immortalized 
in his world-famous " Melodies." 

When the kings had united their forces, they 
obtained another important victory at Glen-Mama. 
Harolt, son of Olaf Cuaran, the then Danish king,, 
was slain, and four thousand of his followers 
perished with him. The victorious army marched 
at once to Dublin. Here they obtained spoils of 
great value, and made many slaves and captives. 
According to some accounts, Brian remained in 
Dublin until the feast of St. Brigid (February 1st) ; 
other annalists say he only remained from Great 
Christmas to Little Christmas. Meanwhile there 
can be but little doubt that Brian had in view the 
acquisition of the right to be called sole monarch 
of Ireland. It is a blot on an othermse noble 
character — an ugly spot in a picture of more than 
ordinary interest. Sitric, another son of Olaf's, 
fled for protection to Aedh and Eochaidh, two 
northern chieftains ; but they gave him up, from 
motives of fear or policy, to Brian's soldiers, and 
after due submission he was restored to his former 
position. Brian then gave his daughter in marriage 
to Sitric, and completed the family alliance by 
espousing Sitric's mother, Gormflaith, a lady of 


rather remarkable character, who had been divorced 
from her second husband, Malachy. Brian now 
proceeded to depose Malachy. The account of 
this important transaction is given in so varied a 
manner by different writers, that it seems almost 
impossible to ascertain the truth. The south- 
ern annalists are loud in their assertions of the in- 
capacity of the reigning monarch, and would have 
it believed that Brian only yielded to the urgent 
entreaties of his countrymen in accepting the prof- 
fered crown. But the warlike exploits of Malachy 
have been too faithfully recorded to leave any 
doubt as to his prowess in the field ; and we may 
probably class the regret of his opponent in ac- 
cepting his position with similar protestations made 
under circumstances in wliich such regret was as 
little likely to be real. 

The poet Moore, with evident partiality for the 
subject of his song, declares the magnanimous 
character of Malachy was the real ground of peace, 
under such provocation, and that he submitted to 
the encroachments of his rival rather from motives 
of disinterested desire for his country's welfare, 
than from any reluctance or inability to fight his 
own battle. 

But Brian had other chieftains to deal with, of 
less amiable or more warlike propensities : the 
proud Hy-Nials of the north were long in yielding 
to his claims ; but even these he at length subdued, 
compelling the Cinel-Eoghain to give him hostages 


and carrying off the Lord of Cinel-Connaill bodily 
to his fortress at Kincora. Here he had assembled 
a sort of " happy family," consisting of refractory 
princes and knights, who, refusing hostages to 
keep the peace with each other, were obliged to 
submit to the royal will and pleasure, and at least 
appear outwardly in harmony. 

These precautionary measures, however sum- 
mary, and the energetic determination of Brian to 
have peace kept either by sword or law, have given 
rise to the romantic ballad of the lady perambu- 
lating Erinn with a gold ring and white wand, and 
passing unmolested through its once belUgerent 

Brian now turned his attention to the state of 
religion and literature, restoring the churches and 
monasteries which had been plundered and burnt 
by the Danes. He is said also to have founded 
the churches of Killaloe and Inniscealtra, and to 
have built the round tower of Tomgrany, in the 
present county Clare. A gift of twenty ounces of 
gold to the church of Armagh,— a large donation 
for that period, — is also recorded amongst his good 

There is some question as to the precise year in 
which Brian obtained or usurped the authority and 
position of Ard-Righ : A.D. 1002, however is the 
date most usually accepted. He was probably 
about sixty-one years of age, and Malachy was 
then about fifty-three. 


It will be remembered that Brian had married 
the Lady Gormflaith. Her brother, Maelmordha, 
was King of Leinster, and he had obtained his 
throne through the assistance of the Danes. 
Brian was Gormflaith's third husband. In the 
words of the Annals, she had made three leaps — 
"jumps which a woman should never jump" — a 
hint that her matrimonial arrangements had not 
the sanction of canon law. She was remarkable 
for her beauty, but her temper was proud and vin- 
dictive. This was probably the reason why she 
was repudiated both by Malachy and Brian. There 
can be no doubt that she and her brother, Mael- 
mordha, were the remote causes of the famous 
battle of Clontarf. The story is told thus: 
Maelmordha came to Brian with an offering of 
three large pine-trees to make masts for shipping. 
These were probably a tribute which he was bound 
to pay to his liege lord. The trees had been cut in 
the great forest of Leinster, called Fidh-Gaibhli. 
Some other tribes were bringing their tree-tributes 
at the same time ; and as they all journeyed over 
the mountains together, there was a dispute for 
precedency. Maelmordha decided the question by 
assisting to carry the tree of the Ui-Faelain. He 
had on a tunic of silk which Brian had given him, 
with a border of gold round it, and silver buttons." 
One of the buttons came off as he lifted the tree. 
On his arrival at Kincora, he asked his sister, 
Gormflaith, to replace it for him ; but she at once 


filing the garment into the fire, and then bitterly 
reproached her brother with having accepted this 
token of vassalage. The Sagas say she was 
"grim" against Brian, which was undoubtedly true. 
This excited Maelmordha's temper. An opportu- 
nity soon offered for a quarrel. Brian's eldest son, 
Murrough, was playing a game of Chess with his 
cousin, Conoing ; Maelmordha was looking on, and 
suggested a move by which Murrough lost the 
game. The young prince exclaimed : " That was 
like the advice you gave the Danes, which lost them 
Glen-Mama." " I "will give them ad^dce now, and 
they shall not be defeated," replied the other. 
" Then you had better remind them to prepare 
a yew-tree for your reception," answered Mur- 

Early the next morning Maelmordha left the 
place "without permission and wdthout taking 
leave. Brian sent a messenger after him to pacify 
him, but the angry chief, for all reply, "broke all 
the bones in his head." He now proceeded to 
organize a revolt against Brian, and succeeded. 
Several of the Irish princes flocked to his standard. 
An encounter took place in Meath, where they slew 
Malachy's grandson, Domhnall, who should have 
been heir if the usual rule of succession had been 
observed. Malachy marched to the rescue, and 
defeated the assailants with great slaughter, A.D. 
1013. Fierce reprisals now took place on each 
side. Sanctuary was disregarded, and Malachy 


called on Brian to assist liim. Brian at once complied. 
After successfully ravaging Ossory he marched 
to Dublin, where he was joined by Murrough, 
who had devastated Wicklow, burning, destrojdng, 
and carrying off captives, until he reached Cill 
Maighnenn (Kilmainham). They now blockaded 
Dublin, where they remained from St. Ciaran's in 
harvest (Sept. 9fch) until Christmas Day. Brian 
was then obliged to raise the siege, and return 
home for want of provisions. 


Battle of Clontarf— Brian's Death, and Defeat of the 
Danes — Eivalry and Reconciliation between Malachy 
and Brian— Death of Turlough— Bravery of the Dalcas- 
sians at Mullaghmast — Death of Malachy. 

ii^gHE storm was now gathering in earnest; 
. the most active preparations were made on 
both sides for a mighty and decisive conflict. 
The Danes had already obtained possession of Eng- 
land, a country which had always been united in its 
resistance to their power, a country numerically 
superior to Ireland : why should they not hope to 
conquer, with at least equal facility, a people who 
had so many opposing interests, and who rarely 
sacrificed these interests to the common good? 
Still they must have had some fear of the result, if 
we may judge by the magnitude of their prepara- 
tions. They despatched ambassadors in all direc- 


tions to obtain reinforcements. Brodir, the earl, 
and Amlaibh, son of the King of Lochlann, " the 
two Earls of Cair, and of all the north of Saxon 
land," came at the head of 2,000 men ; " and there 
was not one villain of that 2,000 who had not 
polished, strong, triple-plated armour of refined 
iron or of cooling, uncorroding brass, encasing 
their sides and bodies from head to foot." More- 
over, the said villains "had no reverence, venera- 
tion, or respect, or mercy for God or man, for 
church or for sanctuary ; they were cruel, ferocious, 
plundering, hard-hearted, wonderful Dannarbrians, 
selling and hiring themselves for gold and silver, 
and other treasure as well." Gormflaith was evi- 
dently " head centre" on the occasion ; for we find 
wonderful accounts of her zeal and efforts in col- 
lecting forces. "Other treasures" may possibly 
be referred to that lady's heart and hand, of which 
she appears to have been very liberal on this occa- 
sion. She despatched her son, Sitric, to Siguard, 
Earl of the Orkneys, who promised his assistance, 
but he required the hand of Gormflaith as payment 
for his services, and that he should be made King 
of Ireland. Sitric gave the required promise, and 
found, on his return to Dublin, that it met with 
his mother's entire approbation. She then de- 
spatched him to the Isle of Man, where there were 
two Vikings, who had thirty ships, and she desired 
him to obtain their co-operation " at any price." 
They were the brothers Ospak and Brodir. The 


latter demanded the same conditions as the Earl 
Siguard, which were promised quite as readily by 
Sitric, only he charged the Viking to keep the 
agreement secret, and above all not to mention it 
to Siguard. 

Brodir, according to the Saga, was an apostate 
Christian, who had "thrown off his faith, and be- 
come God's dastard." He was both tall and strong, 
and had such long black hair that he tucked it 
under his belt ; he had also the reputation of being 
a magician. The Viking Ospak refused to fight 
against " the good King Brian," and, touched by 
some prodigies, became a convert to Christianity, 
joined the Irish monarch at Kincora, on the Shan- 
non, and received holy baptism. The author of 
the Wars of the Gaedhil gives a formidable list of 
the other auxiliaries who were invited by the Dub- 
lin Danes. The Annals of Loch C^ also give an 
account of the fleet he assembled, and its " chosen 
braves." Maelmordha had mustered a large army ; 
indeed, he was too near the restless and revenge- 
ful Lady Gormflaith to have taken matters quietly, 
even had he been so inclined. 

Meanwhile Brian had been scarcely less success- 
ful, and probably not less active. He now marched 
towards Dublin " with all that obeyed him of the 
men of Ireland." These were the provincial troops 
of Munster and Connaught and the men of Meath. 
His march is thus described in the Wars of the 
Gaedhil : — " Brian looked out behind him, and 


beheld the battle phalanx — compact, huge, disci- 
plined, moving in silence, mutely, bravely, 
haughtily, unitedly, with one mind, traversing the 
plain towards them ; threescore and ten banners 
over them — of red, and of yellow, and of green, 
and of all kinds of colours ; together with the ever- 
lasting, variegated, lucky, fortunate banner, that 
had gained the victory in every battle, and in every 
conflict, and in every combat." The portion of the 
narrative containing this account is believed to be 
an interpolation, but the description may not be 
the less accurate. Brian plundered and destroyed 
^s usual on his way to Dublin. When he had en- 
camped near that city, the Danes came out to give 
him battle on the plain of Magh-n-Ealta. The 
king then held a council of war, and the result, 
apparently, was a determination to give battle in 
the morning. It is said that the Northmen pre- 
tended flight in order to delay the engagement. 
The Njal Saga says the Yiking Brodir had found 
out by his sorcery, ''that if the fight were on Good 
Friday, King Brian would fall, but win the day ; 
but, if they fought before, they would all fall who 
were against liim." Some authorities also men- 
tion a traitor in Brian's camp, who had informed 
the Danes that his forces had been weakened by 
the absence of liis son Donough, whom he had sent 
to devastate Leinster. Malachy has the credit of 
this piece of treachery, with other imputations 
scarcely less disreputable. 


The site of the battle has been accurately defined. 
It took place on the plain of Clontarf, and is called 
the Battle of the Fishing Weir of Clontarf. The 
weir was at the mouth of the river Tolka, where 
the bridge of Ballybough now stands. The Danish 
Kne was extended along the coast, and protected 
at sea by their fleets. It was disposed in three 
divisions, and comprised about 21,000 men, the 
Leinster forces being included in the number. The 
first division or left wing was the nearest to Dub- 
lin. It was composed of the Danes of Dublin, and 
headed by Sitric, who was supported by the thou- 
sand mail-clad Norwegians commanded by Carlus 
and Anrud. In the centre were the Legennians 
under the command of Maelmordha. The right 
wing comprised the foreign auxiliaries, under the 
command of Brodir and Siguard. 

Brian's army was also disposed in three divisions. 
The first was composed of his brave Dalcassians, 
and commanded by his son Murrough, assisted by 
his four brothers, Teigue, Donough, Connor, and 
Flann, and his youthful heir, Turlough, who per- 
ished on the field. The second division or centre 
was composed of troops from Munster, and was 
commanded by Mothla, grandson of the King of 
the Deisi, of Waterford, assisted by many native 
princes. The third battalion was commanded by 
Maelruanaidh (Mulrooney of the Pater Nosters) 
and Teigue O'Kelly, with all the nobles of Con- 
naught. Brian's army numbered about twenty 


thousand men. The accounts which relate the 
position of Malachy, and his conduct on this occa- 
sion, are hopelessly conflicting. It appears quite 
impossible to decide whether he was a victim to 
prejudice, or whether Brian was a victim to his not 
unnatural hostility. 

On the eve of the battle, one of the Danish 
chiefs. Plait, son of King Lochlainn, sent a chal- 
lenge to Domhnall, son of Emhin, High Steward 
of Mar. The battle commenced at daybreak. Plait 
came forth and exclaimed three times, " Faras 
Domhnall f (Where is Domhnall T) Domhnall re- 
plied : " Here, thou reptile." A terrible hand-to- 
hand combat ensued. They fell dead at the same 
moment, the sword of each through the heart of 
the other, and the hair of each in the clenched 
hand of the other. And the combat of those two 
was the first combat of the battle. 

Before the engagement, Brian harangued his 
troops, with the crucifix in one hand and a sword 
in the other. He reminded them of all they had 
suffered from their enemies, of their tyranny, their 
sacrilege, their innumerable perfidies; and then, 
holding the crucifix aloft, he exclaimed : " The 
great God has at length looked down upon our 
sufferings, and endued you with the power and 
the courage this day to destroy for ever the tyranny 
of the Danes, and thus to punish them for their 
innumerable crimes and sacrileges by the avenging 
power of the sword. Was it not on this day that 
Christ himself suftered death for you T 


He Wcas then compelled to retire to the rear, 
and await the result of the conflict, but Murrough 
performed prodigies of valour. Even the Danish 
historians admit that he fought his way to their 
standard, and cut down two successive bearers of 

The mailed armour of the Danes seems to have 
been a source of no little dread to their opponents. 
But the Irish battle-axe might Avell have set even 
more secure protection at defiance. It was wielded 
with such skill and force, that frequently a limb 
was lopped off with a single blow, despite the mail 
in which it was encased ; while the short lances, 
darts, and slinging-stones proved a speedy means 
of decapitating or stunning a fallen enemy. 

The Dalcassians surpassed themselves in feats of 
arms. They hastened from time to time to refresh 
their thirst and cool their hands in a neighbouring 
brook j but the Danes soon filled it up, and de- 
prived them of this resource. It was a conflict of 
heroes — a hand-to-hand fight. Bravery was not 
wanting on either side, and for a time the result 
seemed doubtful. Towards the afternoon, as many 
of the Danish leaders were cut down, their followers 
began to give way, and the Irish forces prepared 
for a final efibrt. At this moment the Norwegian 
prince, Anrud, encountered Murrough, whose arms 
were paralysed from fatigue ; he had still physical 
strength enough to seize his enemy, fling him on 
the ground, and plunge his sword into the body 


of his prostrate foe. But even as he inflicted the 
death-wound, he received "a mortal blow from the 
dagger of the Dane, and the two chiefs fell to- 

The Northmen and their allies were flying hard 
and fast, the one towards their ships, the others 
towards the city. But as they fled across the 
Tolka, they forgot that it was now swollen with 
the incoming tide, and thousands perished by water 
who had escaped the sword. The body of Brian's 
grandson, the boy Turlough, was found in the river 
after the battle, with his hands entangled in the 
hair of two Danish warriors, whom he had held 
down until they were drowned. Sitric and his 
wife had watched the combat from the battlements 
of Dublin. It will be remembered that this lady 
was a daughter of King Brian, and her interests 
were naturally with the Irish troops. Some rough 
words passed between her and her lord, which 
ended in his giving her so rude a blow, that he 
knocked out one of her teeth. But we have yet 
to record the crowning tragedy of the day. Brian 
had retired to his tent to pray, at the commence- 
ment of the conflict. When the forces met, he 
began his devotions, and said to his attendant : — 
*' Watch thou the battle and the combats, whilst 
I say the psalms." After he had recited fifty 
psalms, fifty collects, and fifty paternosters, he 
desired the man to look out and inform him how 
the battle went, and the position of Murrough's 


standard. He replied the strife was close and 
vigorous, and the noise was as if seven batta- 
lions were cutting down Tomar's wood; but 
the standard was safe. Brian then said fifty 
more psalms, and made the same inquiry. The 
attendant replied that all was in confusion, but 
that Murrough's standard still stood erect, and 
moved westwards towards Dublin. " As long as 
that standard remains erect," replied Brian, "it 
shall go well with the men of Erinn." The aged 
king betook himself to his prayers once more, saying 
again fifty psalms and collects ; then for the last 
time, he asked intelligence of the field. Latean 
replied : " They appear as if Tomar's wood was on 
fire, audits brushwood all burned down;" meaning 
that the private soldiers of both armies were 
nearly all slain, and only a few of the chiefs had 
escaped ; adding the most grievous intelligence of 
all, that Murrogh's standard had fallen. " Alas !" 
replied Brian, " Erinn has fallen with it : why 
should I survive such losses, even should I attain 
the sovereignty of the world 1" His attendant 
then urged him to fly, but Brian replied that flight 
was useless, for he had been warned of his fate by 
Aibinn (the banshee of his family), and that he 
knew that his death was at hand. He then gave 
directions about his will and his funeral, leaving 
240 cows to the " successor of Patrick." Even at 
this moment his death was impending. A party 
of Danes approached, headed by Brodir. The 


king sprang up from the cushion where he had 
been kneeling, and unsheathed his sword. At 
first Brodir did not know him, and thought he was 
a priest from finding liim at prayer ; but one of 
his followers informed him that it was the Monarch 
of Ireland. In a moment the fierce Dane had 
opened his head with his battle-axe. It is said 
that Brian had time to inflict a wound on the 
Viking, but the details of this event are so varied 
that it is impossible to decide which account is 
most reliable. The Saga states that Brodir knew 
Brian, and, proud of his exploit, held up the 
monarch's reeking head, exclaiming, " Let it 
be told from man to man that Brodir felled Brian.'* 
All accounts agree that the Viking was slain im> 
mediately, if not cruelly, by Brian's guards, who 
thus revenged their own neglect of their master. 
Had Brian survived this conflict, and had he been 
but a few years younger, how difi'erent might have 
been the political and social state of Ireland even 
at the present day ! The Danish power was over- 
thrown, and never again obtained an ascendancy 
in the country. It needed but one strong will, 
one wise head, one brave arm, to consolidate the 
nation, and to establish a regular monarchy; for 
there was mettle enough in the Celt, if only 
united, to resist foreign invasion for all time to 

On Easter Monday the survivors were employed 
in burying the dead and attending to the wounded 


The remains of more than thirty chieftains were 
borne off to their respective territorial churches 
for interment. But even on that very night dis- 
sension arose in the camp. The chieftains of 
Desmond, seeing the broken condition of the 
Dalcassian force, renewed their claim to the alter- 
nate succession. AVhen they had reached Eath 
Maisten (Mullaghmast, near Athy) they claimed 
the sovereignty of Munster, by demanding hostages. 
A battle ensued, in which even the wounded Dal- 
cassians joined. Their leader desired them to be 
placed in the fort of Maisten, but they insisted on 
being fastened to stakes, firmly planted in the 
ground to support them, and stuffing their wounds 
with moss, they awaited the charge of the enemy. 
The men of Ossory, intimidated by their bravery, 
feared to give battle. But many of the wounded 
men perished from exhaustion — a hundred and 
fifty swooned away, and never recovered conscious- 
ness again. The majority were buried where they 
stood j a few of the more noble were carried to 
their ancestral resting-places. " And thus far the 
wars of the Gall with the Gaedhil, and the battle 
of Clontarf." 

The Annals state that both Brian and his son, 
Murrough, lived to receive the rites of the Church, 
and that their remains were conveyed by the 
monks to Swords, and from thence, through Duleek 
and Louth, to Armagh, by Archbishop Maelmuire, 
the "successor of St. Patrick." Their obsequies 


were celebrated with great splendour for twelve 
days and nights by the clergy, after which the 
body of Brian was deposited in a stone coffin, on 
the north side of the high altar, in the cathedral. 
Murrough was buried on the south side. Turlough 
was interred in the old churchyard of Kilmainham, 
where the shaft of an ancient cross still marks the 

Malachy once more assumed the reigns of go- 
vernment by common consent, and proved himself 
fully equal to the task. A month before his death 
he gained an important victory over the Danes at 
Athboy, A.D. 1022. An interregnum of twenty 
years followed his death, during which the country 
was governed by two wise men, Ouan O'Lochlann, 
a poet, and Corcaan Cleireach, an anchoret. The 
circumstances attending Malachy's death are thus 
related by the Four Masters : — " The age of Christ 
1022. Maelseachlainn Mor, pillar of the dignity 
and nobility of the west of the world, died in 
Croinis Locho-Aininn, in the seventy-third year of 
his age, on the 4th of the nones of September, on 
Sunday precisely, after intense penance for his sins 
and transgressions, after receiving the body 6f 
Christ and His blood, after being anointed by 
the hands of Amhalgaidh, successor of Patrick, 
for he and the successor of Colum-Cille, and the 
successor of Ciaran, and most of the seniors of 
Ireland were present [at his death], and they 
sung masses, hymns, psalms, and canticles for the 
welfare of his soul." 



Distinguished Irish Scholars— St, Brendan and St, Ita— 
St. Brendan visits America — St, Malachy and St. 
Bernard — St. Columbanus and St, Laurence O'Toole. 

OMESTIC wars were, as usual, productive 
of the worst consequences, as regards the 
social state of the country. The schools 
and colleges, which had been founded and richly 
endowed by the converted Irish, were now, with- 
out exception, plundered of their wealth, and, in 
many cases, deprived of those who had dispensed 
that wealth for the common good. It has been 
already shown that men lived holy lives, and died 
peaceful deaths, during the two hundred years of 
Danish oppression ; we shall now find that schools 
were revived, monasteries repeopled, and mission- 
aries sent to convert and instruct in foreign lands. 
A few monks from Ireland settled in Glastonbury 
early in the tenth century, where they devoted 
themselves to the instruction of youth. St. Dun- 
stan, who was famous for his skill in music, was 
one of their most illustrious pupils j he was 
a scholar, an artist, and a musician. But English 
writers, who give him the credit of having brought 
"Englishmen to care once more for learning, 
after they had quite lost the taste for it, and had 


sunk back into ignorance and barbarism," forgot 
to mention who were his instructors. 

Before the death of St. Patrick, Christianity 
had been firmly established in Ireland, and it is 
our greatest national honour that from the hour 
in which the Catholic faith was first taught in 
Ireland to the present day Irishmen have remained 
true to their religion. No matter what persecu- 
tions they suffered, they braved the storm ; and 
we may believe this singular fact is due to the 
prayers of our great apostle, St. Patrick, who, we 
may be assured, watches over the land and the 
people of his adoption as tenderly and carefully, 
now as he did in the centuries after his entrance 
into the eternal reward of his labours. 

Ireland was distinguished for her scholars and 
learned men after the Christian era as well as 
before it. So famous were those Irish schools and 
colleges, that the great nobles and lords of France 
and England sent their sons to be educated here. 
When shall such a glorious time come again for 
our native land ? It could come, and it would 
come in a few short years, if Irishmen themselves 
willed it. In these matters no one can be our 
masters ; our minds are free, and if we attain 
again the proud and enviable distinction of being 
a learned nation, it will be all the more to our 
credit, if we have many difficulties to encounter 
in attaining our end. Let Irishmen cultivate their 
own minds by reading good solid literature, and 


let them seek to have their children well educated ; 
not by making them learn sho'wy and useless 
accomplishments, but by placing them only at 
such schools and under such masters as shall give 
them instruction of real and permanent value for 
their after life. 

I must again refer you to the Illustrated Eistm-y 
of Ireland, if you wish for fuU information as to 
the learning of ancient Erinn ; its customs ] and the 
valuable old books which we still possess, which 
were written hundreds of years ago. But I must 
here find space for a few words about our Christian 
missionaries and the learned men who made 
Ireland famous after the time of St. Patrick. 

St. Brendan was one of the most remarkable ol 
our early saints. His early youth was passed 
under the care of St. Ita, a lady of the princely 
family of the Desii. By divine command she 
established the convent of Cluain Credhuil, in the 
present county of Limerick, and there, it would 
appear, she devoted herself specially to the care of 
youth. When Brendan had attained liis fifth year, 
he was placed under the protection of Bishop 
Ercus, from whom he received such instruction as 
befitted his advancing years. But Brendan's 
tenderest afi'ection clung to the gentle nurse of his 
infancy ; and to her, in after years, he frequently 
returned, to give or receive counsel and sympathy. 

The legend of his western voyage, if not the 
most important, is at least the most interesting 


part of his history. Kerry was the native home 
of the enterprising saint ; and as he stood on its 
bold and beautiful shores, his naturally contem- 
plative mind was led to inquire what boundaries 
chained that vast ocean, whose grand waters rolled 
in mighty waves beneath his feet. His thoughtful 
piety suggested that where there might be a 
country there might be life — human life and human 
souls dying day by day, and hour by hour, and 
knowing of no other existence than that which at 
best is full of sadness and decay. 

Traditions of a far-away land had long existed 
on the western coast of ancient Erinn. The brave 
Tuatha D6 Dananns were singularly expert in 
iiaval aifairs, and their descendants were by no 
means unwilling to impart information to the 

The venerable St. Enda, the first Abbot of 
Arran, was then living, and thither St. Brendan 
journeyed for counsel. Probably he was encouraged 
in his design by the holy abbot ; for he proceeded 
along the coast of Mayo, inquiring as he went for 
traditions of the western continent. On his return 
to Kerry, he decided to set out on the important 
expedition. St. Brendan's Hill still bears his 
name ; and from the bay at the foot of this lofty 
eminence he sailed for the ^' far west." Directing 
his course towards the south-west, with a few faith- 
ful companions, in a well-provisioned bark, he came, 
after some rough and dangerous navigation, to calm 


seas, where, without aid of oar or sail, he was borne 
along for many weeks. It is probable that he had 
entered the great Gulf Stream, which brought his 
vessel ashore somewhere on the Virginian coasts. 
He landed with his companions, and penetrated 
into the interior, until he came to a large river 
flowing from east to west, supposed to be that now 
known as the Ohio. Thus, you will see that Ire- 
land looked even in early ages towards America, 
and that it was probably visited by Irishmen long 
before its discovery by Columbus. 

After many adventures, St, Brendan returned 
safely to his native land, where he died. 

St. Columbanus was born about the year 539. 
The care of his education was confided to the 
(venerable Senile, who was eminent for his sanctity 
and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, It was pro- 
bably through his influence that the young man 
resolved to devote himself to the monastic life. 
For this purpose he placed himself under the direc- 
tion of St. Comgall, who then governed the great 
Monastery of Bangor (Banchorr). 

It was not until he entered his fiftieth year that 
he decided on quitting his native land, so that there 
can be no reason to doubt that his hisrh intellectual 
attainments were acquired and perfected in Ireland. 

With the blessing of his superior, and the com- 
panionship jf twelve faithful monks, he set forth 
on his arduous mission ; and arduous truly it proved 
to be. 


In the year 1111a synod was convened at Fidh 
Aengussa, or Aengus Grove, near the Hill of Uis- 
neach, in Westmeath. It was attended by fifty 
bishops, 300 priests, and 3,000 religious. Murtough 
O'Brien was also permitted to be present, and some 
of the nobles of his province. The object of the 
synod was to institute rules of life and manners for 
the clergy and people. St. Celsus, the Archbishop 
of Armagh, and Maelmuire or Marianus O'Dunain 
Archbishop of Cashel, were present. Attention 
had already been directed to certain abuses in ec- 
clesiastical discipline. Such abuses must always 
arise from time to time in the Church, through the 
frailty of her members. 

St. Celsus appointed St. Malachy his successor in 
the Archiepiscopal See of Armagh. Malachy had 
been educated by the Abbot Imar O'Hagan, who 
presided over the great schools of that city ; and 
the account given of his early training, sufficiently 
manifests the ability of his gifted instructor, and 
the high state of intellectual culture which existed 
in Ireland. While still young, St. Malachy under- 
took the restoration of the famous Abbey of 
Bangor. Here he erected a small oratory of wood, 
and joined himself to a few devoted men ardent 
for the perfection of a religious life. He was soon 
after elected Bishop of Connor. With the assist- 
ance of some of his faithful monks he restored 
what war and rapine had destroyed ; and was pro- 
ceeding peacefully and successfully in his noble 


work, when he was driven from his diocese by a 
hostile prince. He now fled to Cormac Mac Carthy, 
King of Desmond, but he was not permitted to 
remain here long. The See of Armagh was vacated 
by the death of St. Celsus, and Malachy was 
obliged to commence another arduous mission. It 
is said that it almost required threats of excom- 
munication to induce him to undertake the charge. 
Bishop Gilbert of Limerick, the Apostolic-Delegate, 
and Bishop Malchus of Lismore, with other bishops, 
and several chieftains, visited him in the monastery 
which he had erected at Ibrach, and at last obtained 
compliance by promising him permission to retire 
when he had restored order in his new diocese. 

St. Malachy was now appointed Bishop of Down, 
to which his old see of Connor was united. He 
had a long desire to visit Eome — a devotional 
pilgrimage to the men of Erinn from the earliest 
period. He was specially anxious to obtain a 
formal recognition of the archiepiscopal sees in 
Ireland, by the granting of palliums. On his way 
to the Holy City he visited St. Bernard at Clair- 
vaux, and thus commenced and cemented the 
friendship which forms so interesting a feature in 
the lives of the French and Irish saints. It is 
probable that his account of the state of the Irish 
Church took a tinge of gloom from the heavy 
trials he had endured in his efforts to remove its 
temporary abuses. St. Bernard's ardent and im- 
petuous character, even his very affectionateness, 


would lead him also to look darkly on the picture : 
hence the somewhat over-coloured accounts he has 
given of its state at that eventful period. St. 
Malachy returned to Ireland after an interview 
with the reigning Pontiff, Pope Innocent II. His 
Holiness had received him with open arms, and ap- 
pointed him Apostolical Legate ; but he declined to 
give the palliums, until they were formally de- 
manded by the Irish prelates. 

In virtue of his legatine power, the saint as- 
sembled local synods in several places. He rebuilt 
and restored many churches ; and in 1142 he built 
the famous Cistercian Abbey of Mellifont, near 
Drogheda. This monastery was liberally endowed 
by 0' Carroll, King of Oriel, and was peopled by 
Irish monks, whom St. Malachy had sent to Clair- 
vaux, to be trained in the Benedictine rule and 
observances. But his great act was the convoca- 
tion of the Synod of Inis Padraig. It was held in 
the year 1148. St. Malachy presided as Legate of 
the Holy See ; fifteen bishops, two hundred priests, 
and some religious were present at the delibera- 
tions, which lasted for four days. The members of 
the Synod were unwilling that Malachy should 
leave Ireland again ; but Eugene III., who had been 
a Cistercian monk, was visiting Clairvaux, and it 
was hoped he might grant the favour there. The 
Pope had left the abbey when the saint arrived, 
who, in a few days after, was seized with mortal 
sickness, and died on the 2nd November, 1148. 


His remains were interred at Clairvaux. His feast 
was changed from the 2nd of November, All Souls, 
to the 3rd, by " the seniors," that he might be the 
more easily revered and honoured. 

In 1162 St. Laurence O'Toole was chosen to 
succeed Greine, or Gregory, the Danish Archbishop 
of Dublin. He belonged to one of the most noble 
ancient families of Leinster. His father was chief- 
tain of the district of Hy-Muirahy, a portion of the 
present county Kildare. St. f Laurence had chosen 
the ecclesiastical state early in life ; at the age of 
twenty-five he was chosen Abbot of St. Kevin's 
Monastery, at Glendalough, The Danish Bishop 
of Dublin had been consecrated by the Archbishop 
of Canterbury, but the saint received the episcopal 
office from the successor of St. Patrick. A synod 
was held at Clane the year of his consecration ; it 
was attended by twenty-six prelates and many 
other ecclesiastics. The college of Armagh was 
then virtually raised to the rank of a University, as 
it was decreed that no one, who had not been an 
alumnus of Armagh, should be appointed lector or 
professor of theology in any of the diocesan schools 
in Ireland. Indeed, the clergy at this period were 
most active in promoting the interests of religion, 
and most successful in their efforts, little antici- 
pating the storm which was then impending over 
their country. 



The Englisli Invasion under Henry II. — Treachery of 
Dermod— The Lauding of Strongbow— Marriage of Eva 
and Strongbow — Siege of Dublin — Arrival of Henry II. — 
Treaty between Brien and Henry — Henry's rapacity — 
Insolence of his Courtiers. 

^^I^E have now arrived at one of the most im- 
wWm^ portant periods of Irish History; to under- 
^*S^ stand it fully we must devote a few pages 
to the History of England. Although England and 
Ireland are divided by a narrow channel, which can 
now be crossed in a few hours, it must be remem- 
bered that there were no steam-packets, or swiftly 
sailing vessels at the time of which we write. It 
sometimes took several weeks for a vessel to sail 
from England to Ireland, and at all times the voyage 
was tedious and more or less dangerous. After the 
establishment of Christianity in Ireland, many 
English nobles sent their sons to be educated in 
that country; but as the English were fully oc- 
cupied with their own domestic wars, they had 
neither the ability nor inclination to attempt any 
conquest of Ireland. The Eomans conquered and 
civilized the English, but when their power declined, 
the English were at war amongst themselves, and 
had neither time nor ability to make war on others. 
Until the year 1066 the Saxons had been the 


masters of England, but in that year they were 
conquered by the famous William of Normandy, 
a Norman prince, as his second title implies. He 
conquered the Saxon Harold at the battle of Has- 
tings, and is known in history as William the Con- 
queror. The Norman kings continued to govern 
England for many centuries. The Normans were 
a brave and restless people, always eager for new 
conquests, and dividing their time between fighting 
and feasting. They were a more cultivated race 
than the Saxons, although they had certainly less 
solidity of character, and were more skilled in 
accomplishments than in solid learning. Irishmen 
often accuse the Saxons as being the cause of all 
their miseries, but this is a mistake. It was the 
Normans, not the Saxons, who oppressed and mis- 
governed Ireland for so many centuries. The term 
Saxon however was applied to all strangers in 
Ireland at the period of which we write, and hence 
the term Saxon became associated with the English 
race. The Norman kings had quite enough to do 
to hold their power in England, and to keep their 
Norman vassals in subjection, for over a hundred 
j^ears after their conquest of England. 

WilUam Rufus, the third son of William the 
Conquerer, who commenced his reign in 1187, is 
reported to have said, as he stood on the rocks 
near St. David's, that he would make a bridge with 
his ships from that spot to Ireland — a haughty 
boast, not quite so easily accomplished. His speech 


was repeated to the King of Leinster who inquired 
" if the Idng, in his great threatening, had added, 
* if it so please God ' ? " The reporter replied in the 
negative. " Then," said he, " seeing this king put 
teth his trust only in man, and not in God, I fear 
not his coming." And so the matter ended. But 
this incident shows that the Enghsh kings were 
only biding their time, and waiting a favourable 
opportunity to attempt the conquest of Ireland. 

After the death of William Eufus, the English 
were occupied mth domestic wars. In the yeai 
1154 Henry II. was crowned King of England, and 
as that nation was then at peace he naturally turned 
his thoughts to the long wished for invasion of 
Ireland. It must be remembered, however, that 
he might never have attempted this invasion but 
for the base treachery of an Irishman. The traitor's 
name was Dermod. He was King of Leinster, but 
the other kings of Ireland drove him out of the 
country for his infamous conduct in carrying off the 
wife of O'Eourke, lord of Breffny. The traitor at 
once set out for Aquitaine, where Henry then was, 
and declared himself a vassal of that prince. Der- 
mod's sole object was to secure his dominions in 
Ireland; the English king was not slow to perceive 
the advantage he might gain by the traitor's con- 
duct, and who can blame him 1 He at once wrote 
a letter declaring that he had taken Dermod under 
his protection, and authorising all his subjects 
English, Norman, Welsh, and Scotch, to assist in 


reinstating him in the kingdom from which he had 
been so deservedly expelled. 

For some time Dermod failed in his efforts to 
obtain assistance. After some fruitless negociations 
with the needy and lawless adventurers who 
thronged the port of Bristol, he applied to the Earl 
of Pembroke, Richard de Clare. This nobleman 
had obtained the name of Strongbow, by which he 
is more generally known, from his skill in archery. 
Two other young men of rank joined the party; 
they were sons of the beautiful and infamous Nesta, 
once the mistress of Henry I., but now the wife of 
Gerald, Governor of Pembroke and Lord of Carew. 
The knights were Maurice FitzGerald and Robert 
FitzStephen. Dermod had promised them the city 
of Wexford and two cantreds of land as their 
reward. Strongbow was to succeed him on the 
throne of Leinster, and to receive the hand of his 
j^oung and beautiful daughter, Eva, in marriage. 

There is considerable uncertainty as to the rea* 
date and the precise circumstances of Dermod's 
arrival in Ireland. According to one account, he 
returned at the close of the year 1168, and con- 
cealed himself during the winter in a monastery of 
Augustinian Canons at Perns, which he had founded. 
The two principal authorities are Giraldus Cam- 
brensis and Maurice Regan ; the latter was Dermod 
Mac Murrough's secretary. According to his 
account, Robert FitzStephen landed at Bannow, 
n^ar Waterford, in May, 1169, with an army of 


three hundred archers, thirty knights, and sixty 
men-at-arms. A second detachment arrived the 
next day, headed by Maurice de Prendergast, a 
Welsh gentleman, with ten knights and sixty 
archers. Dermod at once assembled his men, and 
joined his allies. He could only muster five hun- 
dred followers ; but with their united forces, such 
as they were, the outlawed king and the needy 
adventurers laid siege to the city of Wexford. The 
brave inhabitants of this mercantile town at once 
set forth to meet them ; but fearing the result if 
attacked in open field by well-discplined troops, 
they fired the suburbs, and entrenched themselves 
in the town. Next morning the assaulting party 
prepared for a renewal of hostilities, but the clergy 
of Wexford advised an eff^ort for peace : terms of 
capitulation were negotiated, and Dermod was 
obliged to pardon, when he would probably have 
preferred to massacre. It is said that FitzStephen 
burned his little fleet, to show his followers that 
they must conquer or die. Two cantreds of land, 
comprising the present baronies of Forth and 
Bargy, were bestowed on him : and thus was esta- 
blished the first English colony in Ireland. The 
Irish princes and chieftains appear to have regarded 
the whole afi'air Avith silent contempt. The Annals 
say they "setnothing by the Flemings;" practically, 
they set nothing by any of the invaders. Could 
they have foreseen, even for one moment, the conse- 
quences of their indifierence, we cannot doubt but 


that they would have acted in a very different 
manner. Eoderic, the reigning monarch, was not 
the man either to foresee danger, or to meet it when 
foreseen ; though we might pardon even a more 
sharp-sighted and vigilant warrior, for overlooking 
the possible consequence of the invasion of a few 
mercenary troops, whose only object appeared to 
be the reinstatement of a petty king. Probably, 
the troops and their captains were equally free from 
suspecting what would be the real result of their 

The fair of Telltown was celebrated about this 
time ; and from the accounts given by the Annals 
of the concourse of people, and the number of 
horsemen who attended it, there can be little doubt 
that Ireland was seldom in a better position to 
resist foreign invasion. But unity of purpose and a 
competent leader were wanted then, as they have 
been wanted but too often since. Finding so little 
opposition to his plans, Mac Murrough determined 
to act on the offensive. He was now at the head 
of 3,000 men. With this force he marched into 
the adjoining territory of Ossory, and made war on 
its chief, Donough FitzPatrick ; and after a brave 
but unsuccessful resistence, it submitted to his rule. 
The Irish monarch was at length aroused to some 
degree of apprehension. He summoned a hosting 
of the men of Ireland at Tara ; aiid with the army 
thus collected, assisted by the Lords of Meath, 
Oriel, Ulidia, Breffni, and some northern chieftains, 


he at once proceeded to Dublin. Dermod was 
alarmed, and retired to Ferns. Eoderic pursued 
him thither. But dissension had already broken 
out in the Irish camp : the Ulster chiefs returned 
home ; the contingent was weakened ; and, either 
through fear, or from the natural indolence of his 
pacific disposition, he agreed to acknowledge Mac 
Murrough's authority. Mac Murrough gave his 
son Cormac as hostage for the fulfilment of the 
treaty. A private agreement was entered into 
between the two kings, in which Dermod pledged 
himself to dismiss his foreign allies as soon as 
possible, and to bring no more strangers into the 
country. It is more than probable that he had 
not the remotest idea of fulfilling his promise ; it 
is at least certain that he broke it the first moment 
it was his interest to do so. Dermod's object 
was simply to gain time, and in this he suc- 

Maurice FitzGerald arrived at Wexford a few 
days after, and the recreant king at once proceeded 
to meet him ; and with this addition to his army, 
marched to attack Dublin. The Dano-Celts, who 
inhabited this city, had been so cruelly treated by 
him, that they dreaded a repetition of his former 
tyrannies. They had elected a governor lor them- 
selves ; but resistance was useless. After a brief 
struggle, they were obliged to sue for peace — a 
favour which probably would not have been granted 
without further massacres and burnings, had not 


Dermod wished to bring his arms to bear in another 

Donnell O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, who had 
married a daughter of Dermod' s, had just rebelled 
against Eoderic, and the former was but too 
willing to assist him in his attempt. Thus en- 
couraged where he should have been treated with 
contempt, and hunted down with ignominy, his 
ambition became boundless. He played out the 
favourite game of traitors ; and no doubt hoped, 
when he had consolidated his own power, that he 
could easily expel his foreign allies. Strongbow 
had not yet arrived, though the winds had been 
long enough " at east and easterly." His appear- 
ance was still delayed. The fact was, that the Earl 
was in a critical position. Henry and his barons 
were never on the most amiable terms ; and there 
were some very special reasons why Strongbow 
should prove no exception to the rule. 

The first member of the Earl's family who had 
settled in England was Richard, son of the Norman 
Earl Erien, a direct descendant of Eobert " the 
Devil," Duke of Normand}^, father of William the 
Conqueror. In return for ser^dces at the battle 
of Hastings, and general assistance in conquering 
the Saxon, this family obtained a large grant of 
land in England, and took the title of Earl of 
Clare from one of their ninety-five lordships in 
Suff'olk. The Strongbow family appears to have 
inherited a passion for making raids on neigh- 


bouring lands, from their Viking ancestors. 
Strongbow's father had obtained his title of Earl 
Pembroke, and his property in the present county 
of that name, from his successful marauding ex- 
pedition in Wales, in 1138. But as he revolted 
against Stephen, his lands were seized by that 
king ; and after his death in 1148, his son succeeded 
to his very numerous titles, without any property 
commensurate thereto. Richard was not in favour 
with his royal master, who probably was jealous 
of the Earl, despite his poverty ; but as Strongbow 
did not wish to lose the little he had in England, 
or the chance of obtaining more in Ireland, he 
proceeded at once to the court, then held in 
Normandy, and asked permission for his new 
enterprise. Henry's reply was so carefully worded, 
he could declare afterwards that he either had or 
had not given the .permission, whichever version 
of the interview might eventually prove most 
convenient to the royal interests. Strongbow 
took the interpretation which suited his own 
views, and proceeded to the scene of action with 
as little delay as possible. He arrived in Ireland, 
according to the most generally received account, 
on the vigil of St. Bartholomew, A.D. 1170, and 
landed at Dundonnell, near Waterford. His uncle, 
Hervey de Montmarisco, had already arrived, and 
established himself in a temporary fort, where he 
had been attacked by the brave citizens of Wexford. 
But the besieged maintained their position, killed 


five hundred men, and made prisoners of seventy 
of the principal citizens of Waterford. Large sums 
of money were offered for their ransom, but in 
vain. They were brutally murdered by the English 
soldiers, who first broke their limbs, and then 
hurled them from a precipice into the sea. It 
was the first instalment of the utterly futile theory, 
so often put in practice since that day, of " striking 
terror into the Irish;" and the experiment was 
quite as unsuccessful as all such experiments have 
ever been. 

While these cruelties were enacting, Strongbow 
had been collecting forces in South Wales ; but, as 
he was on the very eve of departure, he received 
a peremptory order from Henry, forbidding him to 
leave the kingdom. After a brief hesitation he 
determined to bid defiance to the royal mandate, 
and set sail for Ireland. The day after his arrival 
he laid siege to AVaterford. The citizens behaved 
like heroes, and twice repulsed their assailants ; 
but their bravery could not save them in the face 
of overpowering numbers. A breach was made in 
the wall ; the besiegers poured in ; and a merciless 
massacre followed. Dermod arrived while the 
conflict was at its height, and for once he has the 
credit of interfering on the side of mercy. Eegi- 
nald, a Danish lord, and O'Phelan, Prince of 
Deisi, were about to be slain by their captors, but 
at his request they were spared, and the general 
carnage was suspended. For the sake of common 


humanity one could wish to think that this was 
an act of mercy. But Mac Murrough had his 
daughter Eva with him ; he wished to have her 
nuptials with Strongbow celebrated at once ; and 
he could scarcely accomplish his purpose while 
men were slaying their fellows in a cold-blooded 
massacre. The following day tlie nuptials were 
performed. The English Earl, a widower, and long 
past the prime of manhood, was wedded to the fair 
young Celtic maiden ; and the marriage procession 
passed lightly over the bleeding bodies of the dying 
and the dead. Thus commenced the union between 
Great Britain and Ireland : must those nuptials 
be for ever celebrated in tears and blood ! 

Immediately after the ceremony, the army set 
out for Dublin. Roderic had collected a large force 
near Clondalldn,and Hosculf, the Danish governor of 
the city, encouragedby their presence, had once more 
revolted against Dermod. The English army having 
learned that the woods and defiles between AVex- 
ford and Dublin were well guarded, had made 
forced marches along the mountains, and succeeded 
in reaching the capital long before they were ex- 
pected. Their decision and mihtary skill alarmed 
the inhabitants — they might also have heard of 
the massacres at Wexford ; be this as it may, they 
determined to negotiate for peace, and commis- 
sioned their illustrious Archbishop, St. Laurence 
O'Toole, to make terms with Dermod. While the 
discussion was pending, two of the English leaders, 


Eaymund U Gros and Miles de Cogan, obtained 
an entrance into the city, and commenced a mer- 
ciless butchery of the inhabitants. When the 
saint returned he heard cries of misery and groans 
of agony in all quarters, and it was not without 
difficulty that he succeeded in appeasing the fury 
of the soldiers, and the rage of the people who 
had been so basely treated. 

The Four Masters accuse the people of Dublin 
of having attempted to purchase their own safety 
at the expense of the national interests, and say 
that " a miracle was wrought against them," as a 
judgment for their selfishness. Hosculf, the 
Danish governor, fled to the Orkneys, with some 
of the principal citizens, and Roderic withdrew 
his forces to Meath, to support O'Rourke, on whom 
he had bestowed a portion of that territory. Miles 
de Cogan was invested with the government of 
Dublin, and Dermod marched to Meath, to attack 
Eoderic and O'Rourke, against whom he had an 
old grudge of the worst and bitterest kind. He 
had injured him by carrying off his wife, Der- 
vorgil, and men generally hate most bitterly those 
whom they have injured most cruelly. 

Meanwhile MacCarthy of Desmond had attacked 
and defeated the English garrison at Waterford, 
but without any advantageous results. Roderic's 
weakness now led him to perpetrate an act of 
cruelty, although it could scarcely be called unjust 
according to the ideas of the times. It will be 


remembered that lie had received hostages from 
Dermod for the treaty of Ferns. That treaty had 
been openly violated, and the King sent ambas- 
sadors to him to demand its fulfilment, by the 
withdrawal of the English troops, threatening, in 
case of refusal, to put the hostages to death. Der- 
mod laughed at the threat. Under any circum- 
stances he was not a man who would hesitate to 
sacrifice his own flesh and blood to his ambi- 
tion. Eoderic was as good as his word; and 
the three royal hostages were put to death at 

In 1171 Dermod MacMurrough, the author of 
so many miseries, and the object of so much just 
reprobation, died at Ferns, on the 4th of May. 
His miserable end was naturally considered a 
judgment for his evil life. His obituary is thus 
recorded : " Diarmaid Mac Murchadha, King of 
Leinster, by whom a trembling soil was made ol 
all Ireland, after having brought over the Saxons, 
after having done extensive injuries to the Irish, 
after plundering and burning many churches, as 
Ceanannus, Cluain-Iraired, &c., died before the 
end of a year [after this plundering], of an insuf- 
ferable and unknown disease ; for he became putrid 
while living, through the miracle of God, Colum- 
cille, and Finnen, and the other saints of Ireland, 
whose churches he had profaned and burned some 
time before ; and he died at Fearnamore, without 
[making] a will, without penance, without the 


body of Christ, without miction, as his evil deeds 

But the death of the traitor could not undo the 
traitor's work. Men's evil deeds live after them, 
however they may repent them on their deathbeds. 
Strongbow had himself at once proclaimed King of 
Leinster — his marriage with Eva was the ground 
of his claim ; but though such a mode of succession 
might hold good in Normandy, it was perfectly 
illegal in Ireland. The question, however, was not 
one of right but of might, and it was settled as all 
such questions invariably are. But Strongbow 
had a master on the other side of the Channel who 
had his own views of these complications. His 
tenure, however, was somewhat precarious. His 
barons, always turbulent, had now a new ground 
for aggression, in the weakness to which he had 
exposed himself by his virtual sanction of the 
murder of St. Thomas of Canterbury, and he was 
fain to content himself with a strong injunction 
commanding all his English subjects then in Ire- 
land to return immediately, and forbidding any 
further reinforcements to be sent to that country. 
Strongbow was alarmed, and at once despatched 
Raymond U Gros with apologies and explanations, 
oflPering the King all the lands he had acquired in 
Ireland. Henry does not appear to have taken the 
slightest notice of these communications, and the 
Earl determined to risk his displeasure, and remain 
in Ireland. 


His prospects, however, were by no means pro- 
mising. His Irish adherents forsook him on the 
death of Dermod ; Dubhn was besieged by a Scan- 
dinavian force, whioh Hosculf had collected in the 
Orkneys, and which was conveyed in sixty vessels, 
under the command of Johan le D4ve (the Furious). 
Miles de Cogan repulsed this formidable attack 
successfully, and captured the leaders. Hosculf 
was put to death ; but he appears to have brought 
his fate on himself by a proud and incautious boast. 

At this period the thoughtful and disinterested 
Archbishop of Dublin saw a crisis in the history of 
his country on which much depended. He endea- 
voured to unite the national chieftains, and rally 
the national army. His words appeared to have 
had some effect. Messengers were sent to ask as- 
sistance from Godfred, King of the Isle of Man, 
and other island warriors. Strongbow became 
aware of his danger, and threw himself into Dublin ; 
but he soon found himself landlocked by an arm}^, 
and enclosed at sea by a fleet. Roderic O'Connor 
commanded the national forces, supported by 
Tiernan O'Rourke and Murrough 0' Carroll. St. 
Laurence O'Toole remained in the camp, and strove 
to animate the men by his exhortations and ex- 
ample. The Irish army contented themselves mth 
a blockade, and the besieged were soon reduced to 
extremities from want of food. Strongbow offered 
terms of capitulation through the Archbishop, pro- 
posing to hold the kingdom of Leinster as Hoderic's 


vassal ; but the Irish monarch demanded the sur- 
render of the towns of Dublin, Wexford, and 
Waterford, and required the English invaders to 
leave the country by a certain day. 

While these negotiations were pending, Donnell 
Cavanagh, son of the late King of Leinster, got into 
the city in disguise, and informed Strongbow that 
FitzStephen was closely besieged in Wexford. It 
was then at once determined to force a j^assage 
through the Irish army. Eaymond h Gros led the 
van, Miles de Cogan followed; Strongbow, and 
Maurice FitzGerald, who had proposed the sortie, 
with the remainder of their force, brought up the 
rear. The Irish army were totally unprepared for 
this sudden move ; they fled in panic, and Eoderic, 
who was bathing in the Liffey, escaped with diffi- 

Strongbow again committed the government of 
Dublin to Miles de Cogan, and set out for Wex- 
ford. On his "Vfay thither he was opposed by 
O'Regan, Prince of Idrone; an action ensued, 
which might have terminated fatally for the army, 
had not [the Irish prince received his death- wound 
from an English archer. His troops took to flight, 
and Strongbow proceeded on his journey. But he 
arrived too late. Messengers met him on the way, 
to inform him that the fort of Carrig had fallen 
into the hands of the Irish, who are said to have 
practised an unjustifiable stratagem to obtain pos- 
session of the place. As usual there are two ver- 


sions of the story. One of these versions, which 
appears not improbable, is that the besieged had 
heard a false report of the affair in Dublin ; and 
believing Strongbow and the English army to havQ 
been overthrown, they surrendered on the promise 
of being sent in safety to Dubhn. On their sur- 
render, the conditions were violated, FitzStephen 
was imprisoned, and some of his followers killed. 
The charge against the besiegers is that they in- 
vented the report as a stratagem to obtain their 
ends, and that the falsehood was confirmed in a 
solemn manner by the bishops of Wexford and 

As soon as the Wexford men had heard of 
Strongbow's approach, they set fire to the town, 
and fled to Beg-Erin, a stockaded island, at the 
same time sending him a message, that, if he 
attempted to approach, they would kill all their 
prisoners. The Earl withdrew to Waterford in con- 
sequence of this threat, and here he learned that 
his presence was indispensable in England ; he 
therefore set off at once to plead his own cause 
with his royal master. A third attack had been 
made on Dubhn in the meantime by the Lord of 
Breffni, but it was repulsed by Miles. With this 
exception, the Irish made no attempt against the 
common enemy, and domestic wars were as fre- 
quent as usual. 

Henry had returned to England, and was now 
in Newenham, in Gloucestershire, making active 


preparations for his visit to Ireland. The odium 
into which he had fallen, after his complicity in the 
murder of St. Thomas of Canterbury, had rendered 
his position perilous in the extreme ; and probably 
his Irish expedition would never have been under- 
taken, had he not required some such object to 
turn his thoughts and the thoughts of his subjects 
from the consequences of his crime. He received 
Strongbow coldly, and at first refused him an inter- 
view. After a proper delay, he graciously accepted 
the Earl's offer of " all the lands he had won in 
Ireland" — a very questionable gift, considering 
that there was not an inch of ground there which 
he could securely call his own. Henry, however, 
was pleased to restore his English estates ; but, 
with consummate hypocrisy and villany, he seized 
the castles of the Welsh lords, whom he hated for 
their vigorous and patriotic opposition, and pun- 
ished them for allowing the expedition, which he 
had just sanctioned, to sail from their coasts un- 

Henry landed in Ireland on the 18th of October, 
1171, at Crook, in the county of Waterford. He 
was accompanied by Strongbow, William Fitz- 
Aldelm, Humphrey de Bohun, Hugh de Lacy, 
Eobert Fitz-Barnard, and many other lords. His 
whole force, which, according to the most authentic 
English accounts, was distributed in four hundred 
ships, consisted of 500 knights, and 4,000 men-at- 
arms. It would appear the Irish had not the least 


idea that he intended to claim the kingdom as his 
own, and rather looked upon him as a powerful 
potentate, who had come to assist the native admin- 
istration of justice. Even had they suspected his 
real object, no opposition might have been made to 
it. The nation had suffered much from domestic 
dissension ; it had yet to learn that foreign oppres- 
sion was an incomparably greater evil. 

MacCarthy of Desmond was the first Irish prince 
who paid homage to the EngHsh king. At Cashel, 
Donnell O'Brien, King of Thomond, swore fealty, 
and surrendered the city of Limerick. Other 
princes followed their example. The " pomp and 
circumstance" of the royal court, attracted the ad- 
miration of a people naturally defferential to 
authority ; the condescension and apparent disinte- 
restedness of the monarch, won the hearts of an 
impulsive and affectionate race. They had been 
accustomed to an Ard-Eigh, a chief monarch, who, 
in name at least, ruled all the lesser potentates : 
why should not Henry be such to them 1 and why 
should they suppose that he would exercise a 
tyranny as yet unknown in the island 1 

The northern princes still held aloof ; but Eoderic 
had received Henry's ambassadors personally, and 
paid the usual deference which one king owed to 
another who was considered more powerful. Henry 
determined to spend his Christmas in Dublin, and 
resolved on a special display of royal state. His 
grey bloodshot eyes and tremulous voice, were 


neither knightly nor kingly qualifications; his savage 
and ungovernable temper made him appear at 
times rather like a demon than a man. He was 
charged with having violated the most solemn oaths 
when it suited his convenience. A cardinal had 
pronounced him an audacious liar. Count Thiebault 
of Champagne had warned an archbishop not to 
rely on any of his promises, however sacredly 
made. He and his sons spent their time quarrel- 
ling with their subjects. His eldest son, Richard, 
thus graphically sketched the family characteristics : 
— " The custom in our family is that the son shall 
hate the father ; our destiny is to detest each other ; 
from the devil we came, to the devil we shall go." 
And the head of this family had now come to re- 
form the Irish, and to improve their condition — 
social, secular, and ecclesiastical ! 

When the Christmas festivities had passed, 
Henry turned his attention to business, if, indeed, 
the same festivities had not also been a part of his 
diplomatic plans, for he was not deficient in king- 
craft. In a synod at Cashel he attempted to settle 
ecclesiastical afi'airs. In a Curia Begis, held at Lis- 
more, he imagined he had arranged temporal affairs. 
These are subjects which demand our best conside- 
ration. It is an historical fact, that the Popes 
claimed and exercised great temporal power in the 
Middle Ages ; it is admitted also that they used 
this power in the main for the general good ; and 
that, as monks and friars were the preservers of 


literature, so Popes and bishops were the protectors 
of the rights of nations, as far as was possible in 
such turbulent times. It does not belong to our 
present subject to theorize on the origin or the 
grounds of this power ; it is sufficient to say that 
it had been exercised repeatedly both before and 
after Adrian granted the famous Bull, by which he 
conferred the kingdom of Ireland on Henry II. 
The Merovingian dynasty was changed on the de- 
cision of Pope Zachary. Pope Adrian threatened 
Frederick I., that if he did not renounce all pre- 
tensions to ecclesiastical property in Lombardy, he 
should forfeit the crown " received from himself, 
and through his unction." When Pope Innocent 
III, pronounced sentence of deposition against 
Lackland in 1211, and conferred the kingdom of 
England on Philip Augustus, the latter instantly 
prepared to assert his claim, though he had no 
manner of title, except the Papal grant. In fact, 
at the very moment when Henry was claiming the 
Irish crown in right of Adrian's Bull, given some 
j^ears previously, he was in no small trepidation at 
the possible prospect of losing his Enghsh domi- 
nions, as an excommunication and an interdict were 
even then hanging over his head. 

It has been already shown that the possession of 
Ireland was coveted at an early period by the 
Norman rulers of Great Britain. When Henry II. 
ascended the throne in 1154, he probably intended 
to take the matter in hands at once. An English- 


man, Adrian lY., filled the Papal chair. The 
Enghsh monarch would naturally find him favour- 
able to his own country. John of Salisbury, then 
chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, was 
commissioned to request the favour. No doubt he 
represented his master as very zealous for the in- 
terests of religion, and made it appear that his sole 
motive was the good, temporal and spiritual, of the 
barbarous Irish ; at least this is plainly implied in 
Adrian's bull. The Pope could have no motive 
except that which he expressed in the document 
itself. He had been led to believe that the state 
of Ireland was deplorable ; he naturally hoped that 
a wise and good government would restore what 
was amiss. There is no doubt that there was much 
which required amendment, and no one was more 
conscious of this, or strove more earnestly to effect 
it, than the saintly prelate who governed the archi- 
episcopal see of Dublin. The Irish clergy had 
already made the most zealous efforts to remedy 
whatever needed correction ; but it was an age of 
lawless "vdolence. Eeform was quite as much 
wanted both in England and in the Italian States ; 
but Ireland had the additional disadvantage of 
having undergone three centuries of ruthless plun- 
der and desecration of her churches and shrines, 
and the result told fearfully on that land which 
had once been the home of saints. 

Dublin was now made over to the inhabitants of 
Bristol. Hugh de Lacy, its governor, has been 


generally considered in point of fact the first Vice- 
roy for Ireland. He was installed in the Norman 
fashion, and the sword and cap of maintenance 
were made the insignia of the dignity. Waterford 
and Wexford were also bestowed on royal favour- 
ites, or on such knights as were supposed most 
likely to hold them for the crown. Castles were 
erected throughout the country, which was por- 
tioned out among Henry's needy followers ; and, 
for the first time in Ireland, a man was called a 
rebel if he presumed to consider his house or lands 
as his own property. 

In 1179 several Irish bishops were summoned 
by Alexander III. to attend the third General 
Council of Lateran. These prelates were St. Lau- 
rence of Dublin, O'Duffy of Tuam, O'Brien of 
Killaloe, Felix of Lismore, Augustine of Waterford, 
and Brictius of Limerick. Usher says several other 
bishops were summoned ; it is probable they Avere 
unable to leave the country, and hence that their 
names have not been given. The real state of the 
Irish Church was then made known to the Holy 
See j no living man could have described it more 
accurately and truthfully than the sainted prelate 
who had sacrificed himself for so many years for its 
good. Even as the bishops passed through Eng- 
land, the royal jealousy sought to fetter them with 
new restrictions; and they were obliged to take 
an oath that they would not sanction any infringe- 
ments on Henry's prerogatives. St. Malachy was 


now appointed Legate by the Pope, with jurisdic- 
tion over the five suffragans, and the possessions 
attached to his see were confirmed to him. As the 
bull was directed to Ireland, it would appear that 
he returned there ; but his stay was brief, and the 
interval was occupied in endeavouring to repress 
the vices of the Anglo-Norman and Welsh clergy, 
many of whom were doing serious injury to the 
Irish Church by their immoral and dissolute lives. 
Henry now became jealous of the Archbishop, 
and perhaps was not overpleased- at his efiorts to 
reform these ecclesiastics. Eoderic O'Connor had 
asked St. Laurence to undertake a mission on his 
behalf to the EngHsh court ; but the King refused 
to listen to him, and forbid him to return to Ire- 
land. After a few weeks' residence at the Monas- 
tery of Abingdon, in Berkshire, the saint set out for 
France. He fell ill on his journey, in a religious 
house at Eu, where his remains are still preserved. 
When on his deathbed, the monks asked him to 
make his will; but he exclaimed, "God knows 
that out of all my revenues I have not a single coin 
to bequeath." With the humility of true sanctity, 
he was heard frequently calling on God for mercy, 
and using the words of the Psalmist, so familiar to 
ecclesiastics, from their constant perusal of the Holy 
Scriptures. ' As he was near his end, he was heard 
exclaiming, in his own beautiful mother-tongue : 
<' Foolish people, what will become of you 1 "Wlio 
will relieve you ] Who will heal you f And well 


might his paternal heart ache for those who were 
soon to be left doubly orphans, and for the beloved 
nation whose sorrows he had so often striven to 

St. Laurence went to his eternal reward on the 
14th of November, 1180. His obsequies were 
celebrated with great pomp and solemnity, and 
attended by the Scotch Legate, Alexis, an immense 
concourse of clergy, and many knights and nobles. 
His remains were exposed for some days in the 
church of Notre Dame, at Eu. 

Prince John, now preparing for his visit to Ire- 
land, and his singular and unfelicitous attempt at 
royalty; it would appear that he wished to decHne 
both the honour and the expedition; for, as he 
was on the eve of his departure, Eraclius, Patriarch 
of Jerusalem, arrived in England, to enjoin the ful- 
filment of the king's vow to undertake a crusade to 
Palestine. As Henry had got out of his difficulties, 
he declined to fulfil his solemn engagement, and 
refused permission to his son John, who threw him- 
self at his father's feet, and implored leave to be 
his substitute. Eraclius then poured forth his 
indignation upon Henry, with all the energetic 
freedom of the age. He informed him that God 
would punish his impieties — that he was worse 
than any Saracen ; and hinted that he might have 
inherited his wickedness from his grandmother, the 
Countess of Anjou, who was reported to be a witch, 
and of whom it was said that she had flown 


through the window during the most solemn part 
of Mass, though four squires attempted to hold her. 

John sailed from Milford Haven on the evening 
of Easter Wednesday, 1185. He landed with his 
troops at Waterford, at noon, on the following day. 
His retinue is described as of unusual splendour, 
and, no doubt, was specially appointed to impress 
the "barbarous" Irish. Gerald Barry, the famous 
Cambrensis, who had arrived in Ireland some little 
time before, was appointed his tutor, in conjunction 
with Eanulf de Glanville. The bitter prejudices 
of the former against Ireland and the Irish is a 
matter of history, as well as the indefatigable zeal 
of the latter in pursuit of his own interests at the 
expense of justice. 

A retinue of profligate Normans completed the 
court, whom an English authority describes as 
" great quaffers, lourdens, proud, belly swaines, fed 
with extortion and bribery." The Irish were looked 
upon by these worthies as a savage race, only 
created to be plundered and scoffed at. The Nor- 
mans prided themselves on their style of dress, and, 
no doubt, the Irish costume surprised them. 
Common prudence, however, might have taught 
them, when the Leinster chieftains came to pay 
their respects to the young Prince, that they should 
not add insult to injury ; for, not content with open 
ridicule, they proceeded to pull the beards of the 
chieftains, and to gibe their method of wearing 
their hair. 


De Lacy has the credit of having done his utmost 
to render the Prince's visit a failure. But his 
efforts were not necessary. The insolence of the 
courtiers, and the folly of the youth himself, were 
quite sufficient to ruin more promising j)rospects. 
In addition to other outrages, the Irish had seen 
their few remaining estates bestowed on the new 
comers ; and even the older Anglo-Norman and 
Welsh settlers were expelled to make room for the 
Prince's favourites — an instalment of the fatal 
policy which made them eventually " more Irish 
than the Irish." When the colony was on the verge 
of ruin, the young Prince returned to England. He 
threw the blame of his failure on Hugh de Lacy ; 
but the Norman knight did not live long enough 
after to suffer from the accusation. De Lacy was 
killed while inspecting a castle which he had just 
built on the site of St. Columkille's Monastery at 
Burrow, in the Queen's County. He was accom- 
panied by three Englishmen ; as he was in the act 
of stooping, a youth of an ancient and noble family, 
named O'Meyey, gave him his deathblow, severed 
his head from his body, and then fled with such 
swiftness as to elude pursuit. It is said that he was 
instigated to perform this deed bySumagh O'Cahar- 
nay (the Fox), with whom he now took refuge. 



The English Settlers quarrel with each other — Scandal- 
ous Conduct of the Viceroys sent to govern Ireland by 
the English Kings— The Burkes and Geraldines — The 
Statute of Kilkenny, and its effects. 

N 1189 Henry 11. died at Chinon, in Nor- 
mandy. He expired launching anathemas 
against his sons, and especially against 
John, as he had just discovered that he had joined 
those who conspired against him. In liis last 
moments he was stripped of his garments and jewels, 
and left naked and neglected. 

Richard I., who succeeded to the throne, was too 
much occupied about foreign affairs to attend to his 
own kingdom. He was a brave soldier, and as such 
merits our respect ; but he can scarcely be credited 
as a wise king. Irish affairs were committed to the 
care of John, who does not appear to have profited 
by his former experience. He appointed Hugh 
de Lacy Lord Justice, to the no small disgust of 
John de Courcy ; but it was little matter to whom 
the government of that unfortunate country was 
confided. There were nice distinctions made about 
titles ; for John, even when King of England, did 
not attempt to write himself king of Ireland. But 
there were no nice distinctions about property ; for 
the rule seemed to be, that whoever could get it 


should have it, and whoever could keep it should 
possess it. 

The great difference between the conduct of 
ecclesiastics who have no family hut the Church, 
and no interests but the interests of religion, is very 
observable in all history. While English and Nor- 
man soldiers were recklessly destroying church pro- 
perty and domestic habitations in the country they 
had invaded, we find, with few exceptions, that the 
ecclesiastic, of whatever nation, is the friend and 
father of the people, wherever his lot may be cast. 
The English Archbishop resented the wrongs of the 
Irish Church as personal injuries, and devoted him- 
self to its advancement as a personal interest. We 
are indebted to Archbishop Comyn for building St. 
Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, as well as for his 
steady efforts to promote the welfare of the nation. 
After an appeal in person to King Richard and 
Prince John, he was placed in confinement in Nor- 
mandy, and was only released by the interference 
of the Holy See ; but Innocent III. had probably 
by this time discovered tliat the English monarchs 
were not exactly the persons to reform the Irish 

King John was soon obliged to interfere between 
his English barons in Ireland, who appear to have 
been quite as much occupied with feuds among 
themselves as the native princes. In 1201 Philip 
of Worcester and William de Braose laid waste the 
greater part of Munster in their quarrels. John 
Walter to the latter, for four thousand marks— 


had sold the lands of the former and of Theobald 
Walter redeemed his property for five hundred 
marks; Philip obtained his at the point of the 
sword. De Braose had large property both in 
Normandy and in England. He had his chancellor, 
chancery, and seal, recognizances of all pleas, not 
even excepting those of the crown, with judgment 
of life and limb. His sons and daughters had mar- 
ried into powerful famihes. His wife, Matilda* 
was notable in domestic affairs, and a vigorous 
oppressor of the Welsh. A bloody war was waged 
about the same time between De Lacy, De Marisco, 
and the Lord Justice. Cathal Crovderg and 
O'Brien aided the latter in besieging Limerick, 
while some of the English fortified themselves in 
their castles, and plundered indiscriminately. 

In 1205 the Earldom of Ulster was granted to 
Hugh de Lacy. The grant is inscribed on the 
charter roll of the seventh year of King John, and 
is the earliest record, now extant, of the creation 
of an Anglo-Norman dignity in Ireland. England 
was placed under an interdict in 1207, in conse- 
quence of the violence and wickedness of its sove- 
reign. He procured the election of John de Grey 
to the see of Canterbury, a royal favourite, and, if 
only for this reason, unworthy of the office. Ano- 
ther party who had a share in the election chose 
Reginald, the sub-prior of the monks at Canterbury. 
But when the choice was submitted to Pope Inno- 
cent III., he rejected both candidates, and fixed 


on an English Cardinal, Stephen Langton, who was 
at once elected, and received consecration from the 
Pope himself. John was highly indignant, as 
might be expected. He swore his favourite oath, 
^' by God's teeth," that he would cut off the noses 
and pluck out the eyes of any priest who attempted 
to carry the Pope's decrees against him into Eng- 
land. But some of the bishops, true to their God 
and the Church, promulgated the interdict, and 
then fled to France to escape the royal vengeance. 
It was well for them they did so ; for Geoffrey, 
Archdeacon of Norwich, was seized, and enveloped, 
by the royal order, in a sacerdotal vestment of 
massive lead, and thus thrown into prison, where 
he was starved to death beneath the crushing 
weight. We sometimes hear of the cruelties of the 
Inquisition, of the barbarity of the Irish, of the 
tyranny of priestcraft; but such cruelties, bar- 
barities, and tyrannies, however highly painted, 
pale before the savage vengeance which English 
kings have exercised, on the slightest provocation, 
towards their unfortunate subjects. But we have 
not yet heard all the refinements of cruelty which 
this same monarch exercised. Soon after, John 
was excommunicated personally. When he found 
that Philip of Prance was prepared to seize his 
kingdom, and that his crimes had so alienated him 
from his own people that he could hope for little 
help from them, he cringed with the craven fear so 
usually found in cruel men, and made the most 


abject submission. In the interval between tlie 
proclamation of the interdict and the fulmination of 
the sentence of excommunication (a.d. 1210), John 
visited Ireland. It may be supposed his arrival 
could not excite much pleasure in the hearts of his 
Irish subjects, though, no doubt, he thought it a 
mark of disloyalty that he should not be welcomed 
with acclamations. A quarter of a century had 
elapsed since he first set his foot on Irish ground. 
He had grown grey in profligacy, but he had not 
grown wiser or better with advancing years. 

The year before his arrival, Dublin had been 
desolated by a pestilence, and a number of people 
from Bristol had taken advantage of the decrease 
in the population to establish themselves there. 
On the Easter Monday after their arrival, when 
they had assembled to amuse themselves in CuUen's 
Wood, the O'Byrnes and O'Tooles rushed dow^n 
upon them from the Wicldow Mountains, and took 
a terrible vengeance for the many wrongs they had 
suffered, by a massacre of some three hundred men. 
The citizens of Bristol sent over new colonists; 
but the anniversary of the day was long known as 
Black Monday. 

Henry III, succeeded his father, John, while 
only in his tenth year, Wilham Marshal, Earl of 
. Pembroke, was appointed protector of the kingdom 
and the king. The young monarch was hastily 
crowned at Bristol, with one of his mother's golden 


In 1217 he, or rather his advisers, sent the 
Archbishop of Dublin to that city to Iqyj a 
" tallage " or tax for the royal benefit. The Arch- 
bishop and the Justiciary were directed to repre- 
sent to the ''Kings of Ireland," and the barons 
holding directly from the crown, that their libera- 
lity would not be forgotten; but neither the 
politeness of the address nor the benevolence of 
the promise was practically appreciated, probably 
because neither was believed to be sincere, and 
the King's coffers were not much replenished. 

Arrangements were now made defining the 
powers of the Viceroy or Justiciary. The earliest 
details on this subject are embodied in an agree- 
ment between Henry III, and Geoffrey de Marisco, 
sealed at Oxford, in March, 1220, in presence of 
the Papal Legate, the Archbishop of Dublin, and 
many of the nobility. 

By these regulations the Justiciary was bound 
to account in the Exchequer of Dublin for all taxes 
and aids received in Ireland for the royal purse. 
He was to defray all expenses for the maintenance 
of the King's castles and lands out of the revenues. 
In fact, the people of the country were taxed, 
either directly or indirectly, for the support of the 
invaders. The King's castles were to be kept by 
loyal and proper constables, who were obliged 
to give hostages. Indeed, so little faith had the 
English Kings in the loyalty of their own subjects 


tliat the Justiciary himself was obliged to give a 
hostage as security for his own behaviour. 
Neither does the same viceroy appear to have 
benefited trade, for he is accused of exacting wine, 
clothing, and victuals, without payment, from 
the merchants of Dublin. In 1221, the Arch- 
bishop of Dublin, Henry de Londres, was made 
Governor. He obtained the name of ''Scotch 
Villain,'" from having cast into the fire the leases 
of the tenants of his see, whom he had cited to 
produce these documents in his court. The enraged 
land-holders attacked the attendants, and laid 
hands on the Archbishop, who was compelled to 
do them justice from fear of personal violence. 
When such was the mode of government adopted 
by the English ofiicials, we can scarcely wonder 
that the people of Ireland have not inherited very 
ardent feelings of loyalty and devotion to the 
crown and constitution of that countiy. 

Such serious complaints were made of the unjust 
Governor, that Henry was at last obliged to check 
his rapacity. Probably, he was all the more willing 
to do so, in consequence of some encroachments on 
the royal prerogative. 

After the death of the Earl of Pembroke, who 
had obtained the pardon of Hugh de Lacy, a feud 
arose between the latter and the son of his former 
friend. In consequence of this quarrel, all Meath 
was ravaged, Hugh O'Neill having joined De Lacy 
in the conflict. 

Some of the Irish chieftains now tried to obtain 



protection from the rapacity of the Anglo-Norman 
barons, by paying an annual stipend to the crown : 
but the crown, though graciously pleased to accept 
anything which might be offered, still held to its 
royal prerogative of disposing of Irish property as 
appeared most convenient to royal interests. 
Though Cathal Crovderg had made arrangements 
with Henry III, at an immense sacrifice, to secure 
his property, that monarch accepted his money, 
but, nevertheless, bestoAved the whole province of 
Connaught shortly after on Pdchard de Burgo. 

For the next ten years the history of the country 
is the history of deadly feuds between the native 
princes, carefully fomented by the English settlers, 
whose interest it was to make them exterminate 
each other. 

The quarrel for the possession of Connaught 
began in the year 1225. The Anglo-Normans had 
a large army at Athlone, and Hugh Cathal went to 
claim their assistance. The Lord Justice put him- 
self at the head of the army ; they marched into 
Connaught, and soon became masters of the situa- 
tion. Eoderic's sons at once submitted, but only 
to bide their time. During these hostilities the 
English of Desmond and O'Brien, a Thomond 
prince, assisted by the Sheriff of Cork, invaded the 
southern part of Connaught for the sake of plunder. 
In the previous year, 1224, "the corn remained 
unreaped until the festival of St. Brigid [1st Feb.], 
when the ploughing was going on." A famine 


also occurred, and was followed by severe sick- 

O'Neill had inaugurated Turlougli at Carnfree. 
He appears to have been the most popular claimant. 
The northern chieftains then returned home. As 
soon as the English left Connaught, Turlough 
again revolted. Hugh Cathal recalled his allies; 
and the opposite party, finding their cause hope- 
less, joined him in such numbers that Roderic's 
sons fled for refuge to Hugh O'Neill. 

Soon after these events, Hugh O'Connor was 
captured by liis English allies, and would have 
been sacrificed to their vengeance on some pre- 
tence, had not Earl Marshall rescued him by force 
of arms. 

At the close of the year 1227, Turlough again 
took arms. The English had found it their con- 
venience to change sides, and assisted him with all 
their forces. Probably they feared the brave 
Hugh, and were jealous of the very power they 
had helped him to obtain. Hugh Roderic attacked 
the northern districts, with Richard de Burgo. 
Turlough Eoderic marched to the peninsula of 
Pdndown, with the Viceroy. Hugh Crovderg had 
a narrow escape near the Curlieu Mountains, where 
his wife was captured by the Enghsh. The fol- 
lowing year he appears to have been reconciled to 
the Lord Deputy, for he was killed in his house by 
an EngHshman, in revenge for a liberty he had 
taken with a woman. 


As usual, on the death of Hugh O'Connor, the 
brothers who had fought against him now fought 
against each other. The Saxon certainly does not 
deserve the credit of all our national miseries. If 
there had been a little less home dissension, there 
would have been a great deal less foreign oppres- 
sion. The English, however, helped to foment the 
discord. The Lord Justice took part with Hugh, 
the younger brother, who was supported by the 
majority of the Connaught men, although Turlough 
had already been inaugurated by O'Neill. A third 
competitor now started up ; this was Felim, 
brother to Hugh O'Connor. Some of the chief- 
tains declared that they would not serve a prince 
who acknowledged English rule, and obliged Hugh 
to renounce his allegiance. But this question was 
settled with great promptitude. Eichard de Burgo 
took the field, desolated the country — if, indeed, 
there was anything left to desolate — killed Donn 
Oge Mageraghty, their bravest champion, expelled 
Hugh, and proclaimed Felim. 

Eelim fled to the north, and sought refuge with 
O'Donnell of Tir-Connell. O'Flaherty, who had 
always been hostile to Fehm, joined the English, 
and, by the help of his boats, they were able to 
lay waste the islands of Clew Bay. Nearly all the 
inhabitants were killed or carried off. The vic- 
torious forces now laid siege to a castle on the 
Rock of Lough Key, in Roscommon, which was 
held for O'Connor by MacDermod. They sue- 


ceeded in taking it, but soon lost their possession 
by tlie quick-witted cleverness of an Irish soldier, 
who closed the gates on them when they set out 
on a plundering expedition. The fortress was at 
once demolished, that it might not fall into English 
hands again. 

It could not) fail to be remarked by the Irish 
annalists, that the first Anglo-Norman settlers had 
been singularly unfortunate. They can scarcely be 
blamed for supposing that these misfortunes were 
a judgment for their crimes. Before the middle of 
this century (the thirteenth) three of the most im- 
portant families had become extinct. De Lacy, 
Lord of Meath, died in 1241, infirm and blind; 
his property was inherited by his grand-daughters, 
in default of a male heir. Hugh de Lacy died 
in 1240, and left only a daughter. The Earl oi 
Pembroke died from wounds received at a tourna- 
ment. Walter, who succeeded him, also died 
without issue. The property came eventually to 
Anselm, a younger brother, who also died child- 
less ; and it was eventually portioned out among 
the females of the family. 

In 1248 the young men of Connaught inaugu- 
rated the periodical rebellions, which a statesman 
of modern times has compared to the dancing 
manias of the Middle Ages. Unfortunately for his 
comparison, there was a cause for the one, and 
there was no cause for the other. They acted 
unwisely, because there was not the remotest possi- 


bility of success ; and to rebel against an oppression 
wHcli cannot be remedied, only forges closer 
chains for the oppressed. But it can scarcely be 
denied that their motive was a patriotic one. 
Felim's son, Hugh, was the leader of the youthful 
band. In 1249, Maurice FitzGerald arrived to 
crush the movement, or, in modern parlance, " to 
stamp it out " — not always a successful process ; 
for sparks are generally left after the most careful 
stamping, which another method might effectually 
have quenched. 

Under the year 1249 the Annals mention a de- 
feat which the Irish suffered at Athenry, which 
they attribute to their refusal to desist from war- 
fare on Lady Day, the English having asked a truce 
in honour of the Blessed Virgin. They also record 
the death of Donough O'Gillapatrick, and say that 
this was a retaliation due to the English ; for he 
had killed, burned, and destroyed many of them. 
He is characterized, evidently with a httle honest 
pride, as the third greatest plunderer of the Eng- 
lish. The names of the other two plunderers 
are also carefully chronicled; they were Connor 
O'Melaghlin and Connor MacCoghlan. The 
*' greatest plunderer" was in the habit of going 
about to reconnoitre the English towns in the dis- 
guise of pauper or poet, as best suited him for the 

Henry III. died in 1272, after a reign of fifty-six 
years. He was succeeded by his son, Edward I, 


who was ill tlie Holy Land at the time of his 
father's death. In 1254 his father had made him 
a grant of Ireland, with the express condition that 
it should not be separated from England. It would 
appear as if there had been some apprehension of 
such an event since the time of Prince John. The 
English monarchs apparently wished the benefit of 
Ent^lish laws to be extended to the native popula- 
tion, but their desire was invariably frustrated by 
such of their nobles as had obtained grants of land 
in Ireland, and whose object appears to have been 
the extermination and, if this was not possible, the 
depression of the Irish race. 

Ireland was at this time convulsed by domestic 
dissensions. Sir Eobert D'UfFord, the Justiciary, 
was accused of fomenting the discord; but he appears 
to have considered that he only did liis duty to 
his royal master. When sent for into England, to 
account for his conduct, he " satisfied the King that 
all was not true that he was charged withal ; and 
for further contentment yielded this reason, that 
in policy he thought it expedient to wink at one 
knave cutting off another, and that would save the 
King's coffers, and purchase peace to the land. 
Whereat the King smiled, and bid him return to 
Ireland." The saving was questionable ; for to 
prevent an insurrection by timely concessions, is 
incomparably less expensive than to suppress it 
when it has arisen. The '' purchase of peace" was 
equally visionary ; for the Irish never appear to 


have been able to sit down quietly under unjust 
oppression, however hopeless resistance might be. 
In 1280 the Irish who lived near the Anglo- 
Norman settlers presented a petition to the English 
King, praying that they might be admitted to the 
privileges of the English law. Edward issued a 
writ to the then Lord Justice, D'UfFord, desiring 
him to assemble the lords spiritual and temporal 
of the "land of Ireland," to deliberate on the sub- 
ject. But the writ was not attended to ; and even 
if it had been, the lords " spiritual and temporal" 
appear to have decided long before, that the Irish 
should not participate in the benefit of English 
laws, however much they might suffer from English 
oppression. A pagan nation pursued a more liberal 
IDolicy, and found it eminently successful. The 
Eoman Empire was held together for many cen- 
turies, quite as much by the fact of her having 
made all her dependencies to share in the benefits 
of her laws, as by the strong hand of her cohorts. 
She used her arms to conquer, and her laws to 
retain her conquests.^ 

^ Conquests. — We recally must enter a protest against the 
way in which Irish history is written by some English 
hi^orian£3. In Wright's History of Ireland we find the 
following gratuitous assertion offered to excuse a crime : — 
"Such a refinement of cruelty must have arisen from a 
suspicion of treachery, or from some other grievous ofleuce 
with which we are not acquainted." If all the dark deeds 
in history are to be accounted for in this way, we may bid 
farewell to historical justice. And yet this work, which is 


We now come to an important period of Irish 
history, in whicli we find special mention of the 
two great families of the Burkes and Geraldines. 
The Burkes were now represented by the Red 
Earl, Eichard de Burgo, and had become very 
powerful. The Eed Earl's grandson, AVilliam, who 
was murdered, in 1333, by the English of Ulster, 
and whose death was most cruelly revenged, was 
the third and last of the De Burgo Earls of Ulster. 
The Burkes of Connaught are descended from Wil- 
liam, the younger brother of Walter, the first Earl. 

John EitzThomas FitzGerald, Baron of Ofi'aly, 
was the common ancester of the two great branches 
of the Geraldines. One of his sons, John, was 
created Earl of Kildare ; the other, Maurice, Earl 

Wogan was Viceroy during the close of this cen- 
tury, and had ample occupation pacifying the 
Geraldines and Burkes — an occupation in which 
he was not always successful. Tliom^as FitzMaurice, 
" of the ape," father of the first Earl of Desmond, 
had preceded him in the office of Justiciary. 
This nobleman obtained his cognomen from the 
circumstance of having been carried, when a cliild, 
by a tame ape round the walls of a castle, and then 
restored to his cradle without the slightest injury. 

written in the most prejudiced manner, has had large cir- 
culation in Ireland, and amougst Irishmen in England. 
When Irishmen support such works, they must not blame 
the English for acceptingthem as truthful liistories. 


The English possessions in Ireland at the close 
of this century consisted of the " Liberties" and 
ten counties — Dublin, Louth, Kildare, Waterford, 
Tipperary, Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Eoscommon, 
and part of Connaught. The "Liberties" were 
those of Connaught and Ulster, under De Burgo ; 
Meath, divided between De Mortimer and De 
Verdun ; Wexford, Carlow, and Kilkenny, under 
the jurisdiction of the respective representatives of 
the Marshal heiresses ; Thomond, claimed by De 
Clare ; and Desmond, partly controlled by the 

Such portions of the country as lay outside the 
land of which the Anglo-Normans had possessed 
themselves, were called " marches." These were 
occupied by troops of natives, who continually 
resisted the aggressions of the invader, always 
anxious to add to his territory. These troops 
constantly made good reprisals for what they had 
taken, by successful raids on the castle or the 
garrison. Fleet-footed, and well aware of every 
spot which would afford concealment, these hardy 
Celts generally escaped scot-free. Thus occupied 
for several centuries, they acquired a taste for this 
roving life ; and they can scarcely be reproached 
for not having advanced in civilization with the 
age, by those who placed such invincible obstacles 
to their progress. 

The famous invasion of Ireland by Bruce took 
place on the 16th of May, A.D. 1315. On that day 


Edward landed on the coast of Ulster, near Carrick- 
fergus, with six thousand men. He was attended 
by the heroes of Bannockburn ; and as a consider- 
able number of native forces soon joined him, the 
contingent was formidable. Although a few of the 
Irish had assisted Edward 11. in his war against 
Scotch independence, the sympathies of the nation 
were with the cause of freedom ; and they gladly 
hailed the arrival of those who had delivered their 
own country, hoping they would also deliver Ire- 
land. It was proposed that Edward Bruce should 
be made King of Ireland. The Irish chieftain, 
Donnell O'Neill, King of Ulster, in union with the 
other princes of the province, wrote a spirited but 
respectful remonstrance to the Holy See, on the 
part of the nation, explaining why they were 
anxious to transfer the kingdom to Bruce. 

Eichard de Burgo, the Red Earl, died in 1326. 
He took leave of the nobles after a magnificent 
banquet at Kilkenny. When he had resigned his 
possessions to his grandson, William, he retired 
into the Monastery of Athassel, where he expired 
soon after. In the same year Edward II. attempted 
to take refuge in Ireland from the vengeance of his 
people and his false Queen, the " she- wolf of 
France." He failed in his attempt, and was mur- 
dered soon after — a.d. 1327. 

The Butler family now appear prominently in 
Irish history for the first time. It would appear 
from Carte that the name was originally Walter, 


Butler being an addition distinctive of office. The 
family was established in Ireland by Theobald 
Walter (Gaultier), an Anglo-Norman of high rank, 
who received extensive grants of land from Henry 
II., together with the hereditary office of " Pin- 
cerna," Boteler, or Butler, in Ireland, to the Kings 
of England. In this capacity he and his successors 
were to attend these monarchs at their coronation, 
and present them with the first cup of wine. In 
return they obtained many privileges. On account 
of the quarrels between this family and the De 
Burgos, De Berminghams, Le Poers, and the 
southern Geraldines, royal letters were issued, com- 
manding them, under pain of forfeiture, to desist 
from warring on each other. The result was a 
meeting of the factious peers in Dublin, at which 
they engaged to keep the -' King's peace." On the 
following day they were entertained by the Earl of 
Ulster ; the next day, at St. Patrick's, by Maurice 
FitzThomas ; and the third day, by the Viceroy and 
his fellow Knights Hospitallers, who had succeeded 
the Templars at Kilmainham. The Earldoms of 
Ormonde and Desmond were now created. The 
heads of these families long occupied an important 
place in Irish affairs. Butler died on his return 
from a pilgrimage to Compostella, and was suc- 
ceeded by his eldest son, Jacques — " a liberal, 
friendly, pleasant, and stately youth" — who was 
married tliis year to King Edward's cousin, Eleanor, 
daughter of the Earl of Essex. The Desmond 


peerage was created in 1329, when the County 
Palatine of Kerry was given to that family. 

The years 1333 and 1334 were disgraced by 
fearful crimes, in which the English and Irish 
equally participated. In the former year the Earl 
of Ulster seized "Walter de Burgo, and starved him 
to death in the Green Castle of Innishowen. The 
sister of the man thus cruelly murdered was married 
to Sir Eichard Mande^dlle, and she urged her hus- 
band to avenge her brother's death. Mandeville 
took the opportunity of accompanying the Earl 
with some others to hear Mass at Carrickfergus, 
and killed him as he was fording a stream. The 
young Earl's death was avenged by his followers, 
who slew 300 men. His wife, Maud, fled to Eng- 
land with her only child a daughter, named Eliza- 
beth, who was a year old. The Burkes of Con- 
naught, who were the junior branch of the family, 
fearing that she would soon marry again, and 
transfer the property to other hands, immediately 
seized the Connaught estates, declared themselves 
independent of English law, and renounced the 
English language and customs. They were too 
powerful to be resisted with impunity ; and while 
the ancestor of the Clanrickardes assumed the Irish 
title of Mac William Oughter, or the Upper, 
Edmund Burke, the progenitor of the Viscounts of 
Mayo, took the appellation of Mac William JEighterj 
or the Lower. This was not the last time v/hen 
English settlers identified themselves, not merely 


from policy, but even from inclination, with the 
race whom they had once hated and oppressed. 

On the 2nd October, A.D. 1394, Richard II. 
landed on the Irish shores. The country was in 
its usual state of partial insurrection and general 
discontent ; but no attempt was made to remove 
the cause of all this unnecessary misery. There 
was some show of submission from the Irish chief- 
tains, who were overawed by the immense force 
which attended the King. Art MacMurrough, the 
heir of the ancient Leinster Kings, was the most 
formidable of the native nobles ; and from his 
prowess and success in several engagements, was 
somewhat feared by the invaders. He refused to 
defer to any one but Eichard, and was only pre- 
vailed on to make terms when he found himself 
suddenly shut up in Dublin Castle, during a 
friendly visit to the court. 

The King's account of his reception shows that 
he had formed a tolerably just opinion of the 
political state of the country. He mentions, in a 
letter from Dublm, that the people might be divided 
into three classes — the "wild Irish, or enemies," the 
Irish rebels, and the English subjects; and he had 
just discernment enough to see that the "rebels 
had been made such by wrongs, and by want of 
close attention to their grievances," though he had 
not the judgment or the justice to apply the neces- 
sary remedy. His next exploit was to persuade the 
principal Irish kings to receive knighthood in the 

THE o'byrnes of wicklow. 175 

Englisli fashion. They submitted with the worst 
possible grace, having again and again repeated that 
they had already received the honour according 
to the custom of their own country; The dealings 
of the Anglo-Norman knights, with whom they 
already had intercourse, were not likely to have 
inspired them with very sublime ideas of the 

The customs of the Irish nobles were again made 
a subject of ridicule, as they had been during the 
visit of Prince John ; though one should have sup- 
posed that an increased knowledge of the world 
should have led to a wiser policy, if not to an 
avoidance of that ignorant criticism, which at once 
denounces everything foreign as inferior. Richard 
returned to England in 1395, after nine months of 
vain display. He appointed Eoger Mortimer his 
Viceroy. Scarcely had the King and his fleet 
sailed from the Irish shores, when the real nature 
of the proffered allegiance of seventy-two kings 
and chieftains became apparent. The O'Byrnes 
rose up in Wicklow, and were defeated by the 
Viceroy and the Earl of Ormonde ; the MacCarthys 
rose up in Munster, and balanced affairs by gaining 
a victory of the English. The Earl of Kildare was 
captured by Oalvagh O'Connor of Off'aly, in 1398 ; 
and, in the same year, the O'Briens and O'Tooles 
avenged their late defeat, by a great victory, at 
Kenlis, in Ossory. 

In 1399 King Richard paid another visit to Ire- 


land. His exactions and oppressions had made him 
very unpopular in England, and it is probable that 
this expedition was planned to divert the minds of 
his subjects. If this was his object, it failed sig- 
nally ; for the unfortunate monarch was deposed by 
Parliament the same year, and was obliged to per- 
form the act of abdication with the best grace he 

On the accession of Henry lY,-, his second son, 
Thomas, Duke of Lancaster, was made Viceroy, 
and landed at Bullock, near Dalkey, on Sunday, 
November 13, 1402. As the youth was but twelve 
years of age, a council was appointed to assist him. 
Soon after his arrival, the said Council despatched 
a piteous document from " Le Naas," in which they 
represent themselves and their youthful ruler as on 
the very verge of starvation, in consequence of not 
having received remittances from England. In 
conclusion, they gently allude to the possibility — 
of course carefully deprecated — of " peril and dis- 
aster" befalling their lord, if further delay should 
be permitted. The King, however, was not in a 
position to tax his English subjects ; and we find 
the prince himself writing to his royal father on tlie 
same matter, at the close of the year 1 402. He 
mentions also that he had entertained the knights 
and squires with such cheer as could be procured 
under the circumstances, and adds : " I, by the 
advice of my Council, rode against the Irish, your 
enemies, and did my utmost to harass them." 


Probably, had he shared the cheer with " the Irish 
his enemies," or even showed them some little kind- 
ness, he would not have been long placed in so mi- 
pleasant a position for want of supplies. 

John Duke, the then Mayor of Dubhn, obtained 
the privilege of having the sword borne before the 
chief magistrate of that city, as a reward for his 
services in routing the O'Byrnes of Wicklow. 
About the same time John Dowdall, Sheriff of 
Louth, was murdered in Dublin, by Sir Bartholomew 
Vernon and three other English gentlemen, who 
were outlawed for this and other crimes, but soon 
after received the royal pardon. In 1404 the 
the English were defeated in Leix. In 1405 Art 
MacMurrough committed depredations at Wexford 
and elsewhere, and 1406 the settlers suffered a 
severe reverse in Meath. 

The Irish of English descent were made to feel 
their position painfully at the close of this reign, 
and this might have led the new settlers to reflect, 
if capable of reflection, that their descendants 
would soon find themselves in a similar condition. 
The commons presented a petition complaining of 
the extortions and injustices practised by the 
Deputies, some of whom had left enormous debts 
unpaid. They also represented the injustice of ex- 
cluding Irish law students from the Inns of Court 
in London. A few years previous (A.D. 1417), the 
settlers had presented a petition to Parliament, 
praying that no Irishman should be admitted to 



any office or benefice in the Church, and that no 
bishop should be permitted to bring an Irish 
servant with him when he came to attend Parlia- 
ment or Council. This petition was granted ; and 
soon after an attempt was made to prosecute the 
Archbishop of Cashel, who had presumed to dis- 
regard some of its enactments. 


Quarrels between the Houses of York and Lancaster — 
Their effect upon Ireland — Why the Yorkists were popu- 
lar—Accession of the Enghsh King Henry VII, — 
Poyning's Parliament, and its effect— The Earl of Kildare 
accused of Treason — Irish War Cries forbidden. 

^ENRY YL succeeded to the English throne 
^\ while still a mere infant, and, as usual, the 
"Irish question" was found to be one of 
the greatest difficulties of the new administration. 
The O'Neills had been carrying on a domestic feud 
in Ulster ; but they had just united to attack the 
English, when Edward Mortimer, Earl of March, 
assumed the government of Ireland (a.d. 1425). 
He died of the plague the following year ; but his 
successor in office, Lord Furnival, contrived to 
capture a number of the northern chieftains, who 
were negotiating peace with Mortimer at the very 
time of his death. Owen O'Neill was ransomed, 


but the indignation excited by tbis act served only 
to arouse angry feelings ; and the northerns united 
against their enemies, and soon recovered any 
territory they had lost. 

Donough MacMorough was released from the 
Tower in 1428, after nine years' captivity. It is 
said the Leinster men paid a heavy ransom for 
him. The young prince's compulsory residence in 
England did not lessen his disaffection, for he made 
war on the settlers as soon as he returned to his 
paternal dominions. The great family feud between 
the houses of York and Lancaster, had but little 
effect on the state of Ireland. Different members 
of the two great factions had held the office of 
Lord Justice in that country, but, with one excep- 
tion, they did not obtain any personal influence 
there. Indeed, the Viceroy of those: days, whether 
an honest man or a knave, was sure to be unpopular 
with some party. 

The Yorkists and Lancastrians, were descended 
directly from Edward III. The first Duke of York 
was Edward's fifth son, Edmund Plantagenet ; the 
first Duke of Lancaster was John of Gaunt, the 
fourth son of the same monarch. Eichard II. suc- 
ceeded his grandfather, Edward III., as the son of 
Edward the Black Prince, so famed in English 
chivalry. His arrogance and extravagance soon 
made him unpopular ; and, during his absence in 
Ireland, the Duke of Lancaster, whom he had 
banished, and treated most unjustly, returned to 


England, and inaugurated the fatal quarrel. The 
king was obliged to return immediately, and com- 
mitted the government of the country to his cousin, 
Roger de Mortimer, who was next in succession to 
the English crown, in right of his mother, Philippa, 
the only child of the Duke of Clarence, third son 
of Edward III. The death of this nobleman opened 
the way for the intrusion of the Lancastrians, the 
Buke of Lancaster having obtained the crown 
during the lifetime of E-ichard, to the exclusion of 
the rightful heir-apparent, Edmund, Earl of March, 
son of the late Viceroy. 

The feuds of the Earl of Ormonde and the Tal- 
bots in Ireland, proved nearly as great a calamity 
to that nation as the disputes about the English 
succession. A Parliament was held in Dublin in 
1441, in which Eichard Talbot, the English Arch- 
bishop of Dublin, proceeded to lay various requests 
before the king, the great object of which was the 
overthrow of the Earl, who, by the intermarrying 
of his kinsmen with the Irish, possessed great in- 
fluence among the native septs contiguous to his 
own territory. 

In the 3^ear 1447 Ireland was desolated by a 
fearful plague, in which seven hundred priests are 
said to have fallen victims, probably from their 
devoted attendance on the sufferers. In the same 
year Felim O'Reilly was taken prisoner treacherously 
by the Lord Deputy ; and Finola, the daughter of 
Calvagh O'Connor Faly, and wife of Hugh Boy 


O'Neill, " the most beautiful and stately, the most 
renowned and ilhistrious woman of all her time in 
Ireland, her own mother only excepted, retired 
from this transitory world, to prepare for eternal 
life, and assumed the yoke of piety and devotion 
in the Monastery of Cill-Achaidh." 

During the reigns of Edward IV., Edward V., 
and the usurper, Kichard, there was probably more 
dissensions in England than there ever had been 
at any time among the native Irish chieftains. 
Princes and nobles were sacrificed by each party as 
they obtained power, and regicide might almost be 
called common. The number of English slain in 
the Wars of the Eoses was estimated at 100,000. 
Parliament made acts of attainder one day, and re- 
versed them almost on the next. Neither life nor 
property was safe. 

The English power in Ireland was reduced at 
this time to the lowest degree of weakness. This 
power had never been other than nominal beyond 
the Pale ; within its precincts it Avas on the whole 
all-powerful. But now a few archers and spearmen 
were its only defence ; and had the Irish combined 
under a competent leader, there can be little doubt 
that the result would have been fatal to the colony. 
It w^ould appear as if Henry VII. hoped to pro- 
pitiate the Yorkists in Ireland, as he allowed the 
Earl of Kildare to hold the office of Lord Deputy ; 
his brother, Thomas FitzGerald that of Chancellor ; 
and his father-in-law, FitzEustace, that of Lord 


Treasurer. After a short time, however, he restored 
the Earl of Ormonde to the family honours and 
estates, and thus a Lancastrian influence was 
secured. The most important events of this reign, 
as far as Ireland is concerned, are the plots of 
Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, and the enactments 
of Poyning's Parliament. 

In May, 1492, the Warbeck plot was promul- 
gated in Ireland, and an adventurer landed on the 
Irish shores, who declared himself to be Eichard, 
Duke of York, the second son of Edward IV., who 
Was supposed to have perished in the tower. His 
stay in Ireland, hoAvever, was brief, although he 
was favourably received. The French monarch 
entertamed him with the honours due to a crowned 
head ; but tliis, probably, was purely for political 
purposes, as he was discarded as soon as peace had 
been made with England. He next visited Mar- 
garet, the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, who 
treated him as if he were really her nephew. 

Henry now became seriously alarmed at the state 
of affairs in Ireland, and sent over Sir Edward 
Poyning, a privy councillor and a Knight of the 
Garter, to the troublesome colony. He was 
attended by some eminent Enghsh lawyers, and 
what was of considerably greater importance, by a 
force of 1,000 men. But neither the lawyers nor 
the men succeeded in their attempt, for nothing was 
done to conciliate, and the old policy of force was 
the rule of action, and failed as usual. The first 


step was to hunt out the abettors of Warbeck's in- 
surrection, who had taken refuge in the north ; but 
the moment the Deputy marched against them, the 
Earl of Kildare's brother rose in open rebelUon, 
and seized Carlow GAstle. The Viceroy was, 
therefore, obhged to make peace with O'Hanlon 
and Magennis, and to return south. After recover- 
ing the fortress, he held a parhament at Drogheda, 
in the month of November, 1494. In this parlia- 
ment the celebrated statute was enacted, which 
provided that henceforth no parhament should be 
held in Ireland until the Chief Governor and 
Council had first certified to the king, under the 
Great Seal, as well the causes and considerations as 
the Acts they designed to pass, and till the same 
should be approved by the king and Council. This 
Act obtained the name of " Poyning's Law." It 
became a serious grievance when the whole of Ire- 
land was brought under Enghsh government ; but 
at the time of its enactment it could only 
afifect the inhabitants of the Pale, who formed a 
very small portion of the population of that coun- 
try ; and the colonists regarded it rather favourably, 
as a means of protecting them against the legis 
lative oppressions of the Viceroys. 

The general object of the Act was nominally to 
reduce the people to ''whole and perfect obedience." 
The attempt to accomplish this desirable end had 
been continued for rather more than two hundred 
years, and had not yet been attained. The Parlia- 


ment of Drogheda did not succeed, although the 
Viceroy returned to England afterwards under the 
happy conviction that he had perfectly accomphshed 
his mission. Acts were also passed that ordnance 
should not be kept in fortresses without the Vice- 
regal licence ; that the lords spiritual and temporal 
were to appear in their robes in parliament, for the 
English lords of Ireland had, " through penurious- 
ness, done away the said robes to their own great 
dishonour, and the rebuke of all the whole land /' 
that the "many damnable customs and uses," 
practised by the Anglo-Norman lords and gentle- 
men, under the names of " coigne, livery, and pay," 
should be reformed ; that the inhabitants on the 
frontiers of the four shires should forthwith build 
and maintain a double ditch, raised six feet above 
the ground on the side which " meared next unto 
the Irishmen," so that the said Irishmen should be 
kept out ; that all subjects were to provide them- 
selves with cuirasses and helmets, with English 
bows and sheaves of arrows ; that every parish 
should be provided with a pair of butts, and the 
constables were ordered to call the parishioners 
before them on holidays, to shoot at least two or 
three games. 

The Irish war-cries which had been adopted by 
the English lords were forbidden, and they wxre 
commanded to call upon St. George or the King of 
England. The Statutes of Kilkenny were confirmed, 
with the exception of the one which forbid the use 


of the Irish Language. As nearly all the English 
settlers had adopted it, such an enactment could 
not possibly have been carried out. Three of the 
principal nobles of the country were absent from 
this assembly : Maurice, Earl of Desmond, was in 
arms onbehalf of Warbeck; Gerald, Earl of Kildare, 
was charged with treason; and Thomas, Earl of 
Ormonde, was residing in England. The Earl of 
Kildare was sent to England to answer the charges 
of treason which were brought against him. Henry 
had discovered that Poynmg's mission had not been 
as successful as he expected, and, what probably 
influenced him still more, that it had proved very 
expensive. He has the credit of being a wise king 
in many respects, notwithstanding his avaricious- 
ness ; and he at once saw that Kildare would be 
more useful as a friend, and less expensive, if he 
ceased to be an enemy. The result was the pardon 
of the " rebel," his marriage with the king's first 
cousin, Ehzabeth St. John, and his restoration to 
the office of Deputy. His quick-witted speeches, 
when examined before the king, took the royal 
fancy. He was accused of having burned the 
Cathedral of Cashel, to revenge himself on the 
Archbishop, who had sided with his enemy, Sir 
James Ormonde. There was a great array of wit- 
nesses prepared to prove the fact; but the Earl 
excited shouts of laughter by exclaiming, " I would 
never have done it had it not been told me the 
Archbishop was within.'* 


The Archbishop was present, and one of his 
most active accusers. The king then gave him 
leave to choose his counsel, and time to prepare his 
defence. Kildare exclaimed that he doubted if he 
should be allowed to choose the good fellow whom 
he would select. Henry gave liim his hand as an 
assurance of his good faith. "Marry," said the 
Earl, "■ I can see no better man in England than 
your Highness, and will choose no other." The 
affair ended by his accusers declaring that "all Ire- 
land could not rule this Earl," to which Henry 
replied : " Then, in good faith, shall this Earl rule 
all Ireland." 

In August, 1489, Kildare was appointed Deputy 
to Prince Henry, who was made Viceroy. In 1498 
he was authorized to convene a Parliament, which 
should not sit longer than half a year. This was 
the first parliament held under Poyning's Act. 

Gerald, the ninth and last Catholic Earl of Kil- 
dare, succeeded his father as Lord Deputy in 1513. 
But the hereditary foes of his family were soon 
actively employed in working his ruin ; and even 
his sister, who had married into that family, proved 
not the least formidable of his enemies. He was 
summoned to London ; but either the charges 
against him could not be proved, or it was deemed 
expedient to defer them, for we find him attending 
Henry for four years, and forming one of his retinue 
at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Kildare was 
permitted to return to Dublin again in 1523, but 
he was tracked by Wolsey's implacable hatred to 


his doom. In 1533 he was confined in the Tower 
for the third time. The charges against him were 
warmly urged by his enemies. Two of his sisters 
were married to native chieftains ; and he was 
accused with playing fast and loose with the Eng- 
lish as a baron of the Pale— with the Irish as a 
warm ally. Two English nobles had been appointed 
to assist him, or rather to act the spy upon his 
movements, at different times. One of these, Sir 
Thomas Skefiington, became his most dangerous 

In 1515 an elaborate report on the state of Ire- 
land was prepared by the royal command. It gives 
a tolerably clear idea of the military and political 
condition of the country. According to this account, 
the only counties subject to English rule, were Louth, 
Meath, Dublin, Kildare, and Wexford. Even the 
residents near the boundaries, of these districts, 
were obliged to pay "blackmail" to the neighbour- 
ing Irish chieftains. The king's writs were not 
executed beyond the bounds described ; and 
within thirty miles of Dublin, the Brehon law was 
in full force. This document, which is printed in 
the first volume of the " State Papers " relating to 
Ireland, contains a list of the petty rulers of sixty 
diff'erent states or " regions," some of which " are 
as big as a shire ; some more, some less." The 
writer then gives various opinions as to the plans 
which might be adopted for improving the state oi 


It cannot now be ascertained whether Kildare 
had incited the Irish chieftains to rebelHon or not. 
In 1520, during one of his periods of detention in 
London, tlie Earl of Surrey was sent over as 
Deputy, with a large force. The new Viceroy was 
entirely ignorant of the state of Ireland, and 
imagined he had nothing to do but conquer. 
As a last resource he suggested the policy of con- 
ciliation, which Henry appears to have adopted, 
as he empowered him to confer the honour of 
knighthood on any of the Irish chieftains to whom 
he considered it desirable to offer the compliment, 
and he sent a collar of gold to O'Neill, About 
the same time Surrey wrote to inform Wolsey, 
that Cormac Oge MacCarthy and MaCarthy Reagh 
were "two wise men, and more conformable to 
order than some English were ;" but he was still 
careful to keep up the old policy of fomenting 
discord among the native princes, for he wrote to 
the king that "it would be dangerful to have 
them both agreed and joined together, as the 
longer they continue in war, the better it should 
be for your Grace's poor subjects here." 

Surrey became weary at last of the hopeless 
conflict, and at his own request he was permitted to 
return to England and resign his office, which was 
conferred on his friend, Pierse Butler, of Carrick, 
subsequently Earl of Ormonde. The Scotch had 
begun to immigrate to Ulster in considerable 
numbers, and acquired large territories there j the 


Pale was almost unprotected ; and the Irisli Privy- 
Council applied to Wolsey for six ships of -war, to 
defend the northern coasts, A.D. 1522. The dis- 
sensions between the O'Neills and O'Donnells had 
broken out into sanguinary warfare. 

The Earl of Kildare left Ireland, for the third 
and last time, in February, 1534:. Before his de- 
parture he summoned a council at Drogheda, and 
appointed his son, Thomas, to act as deputy in his 
absence. On the Earl's arrival in London, he was 
at once seized and imprisoned in the Tower. A 
false report was carefully circulated in Ireland 
that he had been beheaded, and that the destruc- 
tion of the whole family was even then impending. 
Nor was there anything very improbable in this 
statement. The English king had already inau- 
gurated his sanguinary career. One of the most 
eminent English laymen, Sir Thomas More, and 
one of her best ecclesiastics, Bishop Fisher, had 
been accused and beheaded, to satisfy the royal 
caprice. When the king's tutor and his chan- 
cellor had been sacrificed, who could hope to 
escape 1 

The unfortunate Earl had advised his son to 
pursue a cautious and gentle policy j but Lord 
Thomas' fiery temper could ill brook such precau- 
tion, and he was but too easily roused by the artful 
enemies who incited him to rebellion. The reports 
of his father's execution were confirmed. His 
proud blood was up, and he rushed madly on the 


career of self-destruction. On the 11th of June, 
1534, he flung down the sword of state on the 
table of the council-hall at St. Mary's Abbey, and 
openly renounced his allegiance to the English 
monarch. Archbishop Cromer implored him with 
tears to reconsider his purpose, but all entreaties 
were vain. Even had he been touched by this 
disinterested counsel, it would probably have failed 
of its effect ; for an Irish bard commenced chanting 
his praises and his father's wrongs, and thus his 
doom was sealed. An attempt was made to arrest 
him, but it failed. Archbishop Allen, his father's 
bitterest enemy, fled to the Castle, with several 
other nobles, and here they were besieged by Fitz- 
Gerald and his followers. The Archbishop soon 
contrived to effect his escape. He embarked at 
night in a vessel which was then lying at Dame's 
Gate ; but the ship was stranded near Clontarf, 
either through accident or design, and the unfor- 
tunate prelate was seized by Lord Thomas' people, 
who instantly put him to death. The young 
nobleman is said by some authorities to have been 
present at the murder, as well as his two uncles : 
there is at least no doubt of his complicity in the 
crime. The sentence of excommunication was pro- 
nounced against him, and those who assisted him, 
in its most terrible form. 

Ecclesiastical intervention was not necessary to 
complete his ruin. He had commenced his wild 
career of lawless violence with but few followers, 


and without any influential companions. The 
Castle of Maynooth, the great stronghold of the 
Geraldines, was besieged and captured by his 
father's old enemy, Sir 'Winiam Skeffington . In the 
meanwhile the intelHgence of his son's insurrection 
had been communicated to the Earl, and the news 
of his excommunication followed quickly. The 
unfortunate nobleman succumbed beneath the two- 
fold blow, and died in a few weeks. Lord Thomas 
surrendered himself in August, 1535, on the guar- 
antee of Lord Leonard and Lord Butler, under a 
solemn promise that his life should be spared. But 
his fate was in the hands of one who had no pity, 
even where the tenderest ties were concerned. 
Soon after the surrender of " Silken Thomas," his 
five uncles were seized treacherously at a banquet ; 
and although three of them had no part in the 
rebellion, the nephew and the uncles were all exe- 
cuted together at Tj^burn, on the 3rd of February, 
1537. If the King had hoped by this cruel injus- 
tice to rid himself of the powerful family, he was 
mistaken. Two children of the late Earl's still 
existed. They were sons by his second wife. Lady 
Elizabeth Grey. The younger, still an infant, was, 
conveyed to his mother in England. The elder, a 
youth of twelve years of age, was concealed by his 
aunts, who were married to the chieftains of Offaly 
and Donegal, and was soon conveyed to France 
out of the reach of the enemies who eagerly sought 
his destruction. It is not a little curious to find 


the ative princes, who had been so cruelly 
oppressed by his forefathers, protecting and help- 
ing the hapless youth, even at the risk of their 
lives. It is one of many evidences that the anti- 
pathy of Celt to Saxon is not so much an antipathy 
of race or person, as the natural enmity which 
the. oppressed entertains towards the oppressor. 


(l full and clear explanation of the causes that led to 
the so-called Reformation in England— Accession of 
Henry VIII. — His marriage with Catherine of Arra- 
gon — He becomes weary of her, and wishes to marry 
Anne Boleyn— His scandalous conduct with Anne Boleyn 
— He revolts against the Holy See, because the Pope 
■will not allow him to have two wives— Conduct of the 
Protestant Archbishop Cranmer— Henry makes himself 
head of the Church— The Irish will not become Protes- 
tants for either fear or favour. 

)N order to understand the period of Irish 
history at which we have now arrived, 
it will be necessary to enter into a full 
explanation of the state of the country at this 
time, and also to give some account of English his- 
tory. We all very justly consider a great victory as 
one of the most important events in the history of 
any people ; and if an entire change occurs in tho 
government of the country, in consequence of this 


victory, it is carefully recorded with all the events 
which led to it, and the probable causes which 
obtained so great a triumph. I am now going 
to write of one of the greatest, if not the very 
greatest of "factories ever obtained by any nation ; 
and I shall request your careful attention. The 
victory was obtained by Irishmen. We much 
fear that many of the conquerors in the bravest 
conflicts ever recorded, had their share of praise 
in this world only, and will have but little praise 
hereafter. But in this victorj^, to which I must 
now call your attention, the victors had Httle 
praise in this world, but their reward and triumph 
will be eternal. The victory of which I write 
was a moral victory — a victory, in which the weak 
triumphed over the strong : and Irishmen sacri- 
ficed their lives and those who were dearer to 
them even than their lives, sooner than jdeld to 
the cruel oppressor who sought to compel them 
to accept a false religion. The history of the 
brave and effectual resistance which Irishmen 
made to the new religion, or rather to the new 
heresy, is of interest to every Catholic and every 
thoughtful Protestant. It was introduced by Mar- 
tin Luther, a wicked monk, who apostatised from 
his creed in order to marry, and brought into 
England by Henry VIII., who wished not only to 
marry as many wives as he pleased, but to kill 
them as soon as he was tired of them. 
Henry VIII. was the second son of Henry VII., 


and was born at GreenTvicli, June 28, 1491. His 
father, Henry VII., had married Elizabeth of York, 
and had two sons and two daughters, besides 
three children who died young. His eldest son was 
called Arthur, his second son, Henry, afterwards 
Henry YIII. All this you must remember and 
understand thoroughly, that you may know exactly 
what led to the introduction of Martin Luther's 
heresy into England, and how it then came to 
be forced on the Irish by the sword, Arthur, 
Henry YII's eldest son, died in 1502. He had 
married a Spanish princess, Catherine of Arragon, 
in 1501. You will observe that the marriage 
took place in November, and the young prince 
died in April. The young widow, Catherine of 
Arragon, had brought a very large fortune with 
her to England ; and the old king, Henry YII., 
did not wish to let the money go out of the coun- 
trv, so he made a marriasje contract between her 
and his second son, Henry, in June, 1502, just 
three months after her husband's death. Henry 
was only fourteen when this contract was made ; 
and by his father's advice, he made a secret pro- 
test against it, so that if he wished he might 
refuse to marry Catherine when he came of age. 
Thus you will see the poor young widow was 
treated very treacherously. Henry did not be- 
come king for seven years after, and then he was 
free to choose whether he would abide by the con- 
tract or not. He chose, however, to marry Cathe- 


rine, and they were crowned afterwards with great 
splendour, June 24, 1509. 

For several years Henry was very popular with 
his subjects. The English arms were victorious in 
many engagements in France and Scotland ; and 
all promised a long, prosperous, and compara- 
tively peaceful reign. Henry had one daughter 
by Catherine, named Mary, who was afterwards 
Queen of England. He lived, to all appearance, 
very happily and contentedly with his wife, until 
the year 1526. About this time a lady named 
Anne Boleyn came to court as maid of honour to 
the queen. This lady was very beautiful, very 
vain, and very ambitious. She began to have 
great influence with the king, and when he found 
that she had been engaged to Lord Percy, he in- 
sisted that the engagement should be broken off. 
She was willing enough to be the king's mistress, 
but she determined if possible to be his queen 
also, and used every effort to attain her end. 
There are always plenty of flatterers round a 
prince ready to urge him on to evil, and to help 
him in every way to attain his ends, whatever 
they may be; such persons hoping to advance 
their interests by making themselves useful to 
their master. It cannot be known for certain 
now whether it was Henry himself or one of his 
bad advisers who suggested that he should get a 
divorce. It matters but little from whom the susr- 
gestion came, for Henry was only too ready to act 
upon it. 


Henry was at this time a Catholic, at least in 
name ; but it should be remembered, and remem- 
bered carefully, that when a man sets the com- 
mands of God and the Church at defiance by living 
in constant sin and absenting himself from the 
sacraments, he becomes in great danger of losing 
his faith. God may withdraw that great grace 
from him if he proves himself unworthy of it. 
Henry probably knew this very well; he was 
clever and, it would appear, highly educated. He 
had even defended the Holy See against the attacks 
of Martin Luther, and wrote a work on the Seven 
Sacraments, which he published in 1521, and for 
which he obtained the title of Defender of the 
Faith. But while he was himself despising and 
contemning the sacraments, it was little use for 
him to write in their defence. How Httle he 
really cared for the sacraments is shown by the 
way in which he violated the solemn engagements 
of the Sacrament of Matrimony. 

His object now was to get rid of his wife quietly, 
and to marry Anne Boleyn. But in order to do 
this he wanted a dispensation from the Holy See. 
He had already got a dispensation to marry 
Catherine, although it was believed that her 
marriage with his brother Arthur had never been 
consummated, this dispensation was necessary, as 
she was legally his sister-in-law. Now, however, 
he pretended that his conscience would not allow 
him to live with her any longer ; and this was the 


excuse he made to the Pope for wanting the dis- 
pensation. His conscience, however, did not 
prevent him from living with Anne Boleyn for 
three years before he married her ; and her child, 
afterwards Queen Elizabeth, was in consequence 

It is probable the Pope was very well aware of 
the whole state of affairs. But Henry knew that he 
was a very powerful monarch, and he thought to 
frighten the Pope into complying with his desires. 
He had yet to learn that Popes can neither be 
frightened nor cajoled, and that they would give 
up their lives and their liberties, were it possible, 
fifty times over, sooner than yield to the wicked 
will of any king or prince. 

The Pope, however, very ^visely sent a legate to 
England to inquire into the matter, as this mark 
of respect was due to Henry. But the Pope's ad- 
visers saw plainly the great injustice of the whole 
proceeding, and that Henry only wished to gratify 
his passions. Cardinal Wolsey died soon after, 
and the Pope's legate found that he had only been 
summoned to England to give judgment in the 
king's favour, and that if he refused to do it, the 
king was determined to take his own course. 
Still, be it remembered, Henry was a professing 
Catholic. If the Pope had given him a dispensa- 
tion to commit sin, as so many Protestants 
ignorantly think that popes and priests can do, 
he would certainly have remained a Catholic. The 


Pope knew very well what would be likely to hap- 
pen. Already many German princes had become 
Protestants, and followed Martin Luther's example 
of profligacy ; but even to save the whole kingdom 
of England from becoming Protestant the Pope 
would not sanction sin. All this, you must re- 
member, is not my opinion, or my view of the 
Reformation ; it is a matter of History ; and it is 
a subject with which every Irishman should be 
very fully acquainted. 

After Wolsey's death, Henry got a new adviser, 
a man named Cromwell, whom you must not con- 
found with the cruel and infamous Oliver Crom- 
well, who devastated Ireland many years after. 
This Cromwell was a follower of Anne Boleyn's 
family, and of course anxious that she should be- 
come queen. He had spent a long time on the 
continent, where he served as a common soldier, and 
he had learned the new doctrines taught by Martin 
Luther and his followers. He now came to the 
assistance of Henry, and suggested that he should 
set the Pope at defiance, that he should declare 
himself head of the Church, and then as head of 
the Church, he could legalize the sin which the 
Pope's authority would not allow. Henry at once 
acted on the advice ; it flattered his vanity to place 
himself, as far as he could, in the position of the 
Pope in England, and he was 'very anxious to get 
rid of his wife. Cromwell was ordered to make 
the necessary arrangements, which may be simply 


explained thus. The English kings, though some 
of them had been really good CathoHcs, were always 
anxious for an increase of power, and particularly 
wished to get some kind of power over the bishops 
and clergy. They had made laws at different times 
to try and effect this object. One of these laws 
was called the statute of prmmunire. This statute 
made it necessary, under certain circumstances, for 
ecclesiastics to obtain a patent from the crown 
before exercising the office of Papal legate. 

When Cardinal Wolsey was appointed Papal 
legate he was granted this patent to enable him to 
exercise his office, but when Henry turned against 
him he had him accused of having accepted the 
office without obtaining the necessary permission. 
Of course, this permission had nothing whatever to 
do with the spiritual power of ecclesiastics ; for no 
English king, however wicked, thought of assuming 
to himself any spiritual power until Henry VHI. 
made himself head of the Church. Wolsey pleaded 
guilty of the crime against the State, although he 
knew very well that he was not guilty, but he 
thought that by pleading guilty the king would 
have mercy on him. Henry, however, was too 
cruel and too selfish to show him any considera- 
tion. The Cardinal was now dead, and Henry, or 
his minister Cromwell, thought of this very clever 
plan to attain his wicked ends. He now proceeded 
to charge the clergy with having recognised Wol- 
sey's authority, and thus infringed the statute. 


But you will remember that as Wolsey had not 
been guilty of this oifence against the law of the 
land, they were not guilty. This, however, was 
nothing to the king, and the unfortunate clergy 
knew but too well with whom they had to deal. 

The clergy at once consulted together, and offered 
the king the enormous sum of one hundred thou- 
sand pounds, if he would forgive their pretended 
offence. It would have been far better had they 
firmly resisted the king, and had they united in 
doing so, they would probably have carried the day. 
The king graciously accepted the offer, but refused 
to forgive the clergy unless they introduced a clause 
into the preamble of their grant, acknowledging 
him as " the protector and only supreme head of 
the Church and clergy of England." The clergy 
were not a little astonished at this demand ; they 
did not know, then, that it was the real object 
which Henry had in prosecuting them, and they 
probably never foresaw, or even suspected, the 
fearful consequences which the admission of his claim 
would involve. The clergy debated the matter for 
three days in convocation, and at last agreed to do 
what the king wished, provided he would allow 
them to insert the clause " in so far as the law of 
Christ will allow." This, of course, quite did 
away with the meaning intended by the king in 
his clause ; for both the clergy and the king knew 
very well that Christ's law had made St. Peter 
and the Popes, his successors, the_ heads of his 


Church, and that this place and authority could 
never be given to any king or prince, or layman. 

The king, however, accepted the money and the 
clause. He feared to press the clergy too far, and 
hoped that the clause, even as it stood, would be- 
come generally known amongst the people of Eng- 
land, and that they would get used to the idea of 
his being called the head of the Church. This, 
then, was the commencement of what has been so 
foolishly called the "Glorious Eeformation" in 
England. The king, Henry YIH., wished to get 
rid of his lawful wife, and to make Anne Boleyn 
his queen, a bad woman, by whom he had a child 
before he made even the pretence of marrying her. 
The Pope would not give his consent to the 
king's committing this sin, and when Henry could 
not get the Pope's consent, either by bribes or 
threats, he was determined to commit the sin, and 
made himself Pope, as far as he could do so, that 
he might be at liberty to commit sin. Surely Pro- 
testants have no cause for being proud of a religion 
which commenced in such a disgraceful manner. 
But it must be remembered that although Henry 
made himself head of the Church to legalize his sin, 
he did not as yet wish to renounce all the articles 
of the Holy Catholic Faith. He went on in sin and 
in heresy step by step. Mass was still said, and 
the sacraments administered in England, and the 
English people had not yet formally renounced the 
Faith of the one True Church. 


In the year 1532 AVareliam the last Catholic 
Archbishop of Canterbury died, worn out by 
the troubles of the times, and grief at the national 
apostasy even then impending. Henry knew that 
a great deal depended on whom he put into his place, 
and he found a man exactly suited to his purpose. 
This man, Thomas Cranmer, of whom English 
Protestants are so proud, and whom they consider 
justly the great promoter of the Protestant Re- 
formation in England. But if they knew more 
about this wretched man, and his real character, 
they would be ashamed of him and of his re- 
ligion. This man, like Cromwell, had been a de- 
pendant on the Boleyn family, and got himself 
into power by encouraging her adultery with the 
king. How then could he be fit, even if guilty 
of no other crime, for the awful and solemn 
charge of guiding and teaching the church of God. 
But there was worse still. His friend and com- 
panion, Cromwell, made no pretence of religion; 
his religion was to get himself on in the world. 
But Cranmer was always canting about his con- 
science, and boasting of his piety. He gave a 
fine specimen of both when he was made Arch- 
bishop ; for he swore inviolable fidelity to the Holy 
See, although he knew perfectly well that Henry 
got him consecrated Archbishop that he might 
overturn the power of the Pope in England. 

This is no mere statement of mine ; if it were, it 
would not be history, and I am now writing a 


history, and not opinions. On the morning of the 
day on which Cranmer was consecrated he called 
four witnesses, unprincipled men like himself, into 
St. Stephen's chapel, and there declared that he 
did not intend to keep the oath he was about to 
make. He then went and celebrated the Holy 
Sacrifice of the Mass, although he did not believe 
in it, for he was at heart a follower of Martin 
Luther, and all this time he was privately married, 
although the king knew nothing of it. Had the 
king known it, probably he would not have had 
Cranmer made an Archbishop ; for though he liked 
to be free to commit sin himself, he did not wish 
the clergy to do it, unless in some special mattei 
where his own personal convenience was concerned. 

Cranmer was now fairly afloat on the ocean of 
duplicity, and he continued his career until his 
death. Afortnio-ht after his consecration he wrote 
a letter to the king, calling on him " for the good 
of his soul" to grant him his royal license to 
examine the question of his marriage. 

This, then, is a true, though somewhat severe, 
account of the origin of the Church by law estab- 
lished. These proceedings hastened the decision of 
the Holy See; and on the 20th of March, 1534, 
the sentence was pronounced, which declared the 
marriage with Catherine to be valid and indis- 
soluble, and charged the king to restore her to 
her rights, under pain of excommunication. But 
when that sentence reached the court, England 


had been already severed from the communion of 
tlie Church. Acts of Parliament had been passed 
by which all jurisdiction in spiritual things was 
transferred from the Holy See to the Crown ; the 
king was formally declared the only supreme head 
of the Church of England ; and his subjects were 
called on to acknowledge his supremacy and the 
lawfulness of his late marriage, under the penalties 
attached to treason. " In the course of one short 
session," says Lingard, " the whole papal power 
was swept away." If the reader ask how such 
measures could have been made into laws, we can 
only reply that Cromwell prepared the bill, and 
that the houses of Parliament passed them. Re- 
sistance to the royal will was a thing they never 
dared to dream of j and one man alone, of all the 
lords spiritual, refused to take the oaths. This 
was John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester — a name 
which no Catholic can pronounce but with senti- 
ments of the profoundest veneration. 

Those who would not submit to the king's 
assumed spiritual authority paid for their loyalty 
to the Catholic faith by the sacrifice of their lives. 
Amongst the most illustrious victims were Sir 
Thomas More, and Bishop Fisher. They were ex- 
ecuted in 1535, simply and solely for denying the 
king's supremacy in religious matters. 

As the king had put himself in the place of the 
Pope, he was obliged to appoint a Vicar-General, 
and he gave this office to Cromwell. The next 


move of these worthies was to suppress the monas- 
teries, and to get possession of all the money which 
the good monks and nuns had distributed so freely 
to the poor. Of course the king was determined 
to establish the new religion firmly in England 
before he attempted to do anything in Ireland. He 
probably cared very little what the Irish said or 
thought about it, but there were monasteries and 
convents in Ireland also, and he could not rob 
them of their property without some excuse. 

The Irish parliament which was composed solely 
of persons whom the English government had 
permitted to be elected, were sure to do exactly 
what the English government wished. Hence 
they were quite ready to imitate the English par- 
liament by declaring the king's marriage with 
Catherine of Arragon null and void, and by sanc- 
tioning his marriage 'vvith Anne Boleyn. All this 
was done in the year 1536. 

But Henry soon found that there was something 
more than mere Acts of Parliament necessary in 
order to establish the new religion in faithful 
Catholic Ireland. He therefore looked out for 
some apostate priest who might do for Ireland 
what the wicked Cranmer had done for England. 
He found the kind of man he wanted, but he 
found also that no amount of persecution or 
bribery would induce the Irish to become Pro- 
testants. A few persons here and there might be 
tempted to renounce the old faith, sooner than 

suffer death, or lose their temporal possessions, 


The person selected by Henry VIII. for the very 
useless attempt of trying to make Protestants of 
the Irish was an apostate priest named Browne. 
He had been Archbishop Cranmer's secretary, and 
was also a great friend of Cromwell's. Early in 
March 1535, he was appointed by Henry YIIL, 
Archbishop of Dublin, and he was consecrated by 
Cranmer. Thus a wicked king, who had made 
himself head of the Church, took upon himself to 
appoint bishops, and a still more wicked arch- 
bishop, who pretended to be a Catholic, while in 
private he declared himself a Protestant, took 
upon himself to* ordain the new prelate, of course 
having no other authority to do so except what he 
could get from Henry VIII. Dr. Browne knew 
all this very well, and never made any pretence of 
having any divine authority for his office. So 
far at least he was honest. He knew well enough 
that he was no successor of St. Patrick, and no 
true son of the one holy Catholic Church, yet from 
him, and from this sole and single will of the pro- 
fligate monarch, Henry VIII., all the Protestant 
clergy of Ireland derive their sole authority. 

Indeed Henry took very good care there should 
be no mistake about the matter. A letter of his 
to this same Dr. Browne is still in existence, and 


in this letter he thus issues his royal commands and 
declares his royal opinion : 

" Do then your duty towards us in the advance- 
ment of our affairs there, and in the signifaction 
hither, from time to time, of the state of the same, 
and we shall put your former negligence in oblivion. 
If this will not serve to induce you to it, but that 
you will still persevere in your fond folly and un- 
grateful ungentleness, that you cannot remember 
what we have done, and how much above many 
others you be bound in all the points before touched, 
to do your duty ; let it sink into your remembrance 
that we be as able for the not doing thereof, to 
remove you again, and to put another man of more 
virtue and honesty in your place, both for our dis- 
charge against God, and for the comfort of our good 
subjects there ; as we were at the beginning to pre- 
fer you, upon hope that you would in the same do 
your office, as to your profession and our opinion 
conceived of you appertaineth." 

Soon after his arrival in Ireland, Dr. Browne 
received a formal letter from Lord Cromwell, 
acquainting him with " the royal will and pleasure 
of his Majesty ; that his subjects in Ireland, even 
as those of England, should obey his commands in 
spiritual matters as in temporal, and renounce their 
allegiance to the See of Rome." 

The Irish people, however, were not so very 

obliging, and had no idea whatever of renouncing 

their allegiance to the See of Rome, and so the 



unfortunate prelate who wished very much both to 
please Henry VIII. and to keep his archbishopric, 
found himself in a very unpleasant position, and 
he writes thus to his great patron, Cromwell. 

*' My most honoured Lord, — Your humble ser- 
vant, receiving your mandate as one of his high- 
ness's commissioners, hath endeavoured, almost to 
the danger and hazard of his temporal life to 
procure the nobility and gentry of this nation to 
due obedience, in owning of this highness their 
supreme head as well spiritual as temporal, and do 
find much oppugning therein, especially by my 
brother, Armagh, who hath been the main op 
pugner, and so hath withdrawn most of his suffra- 
gans and clergy within his see and jurisdiction. 
He made a speech to them, laying a curse on the 
people whosoever should own his highness's supre- 
macy, saying that isle — as it is in their Irish 
chronicles — ^insula sacra, belongs to none but the 
Eishop of Eome, and that it was the Bishop of 
Rome that gave it to the Idng's ancestors. There 
be two messengers, by the priests of Armagh and 
by that archbishop, now lately sent to the Bishop 
of Eome. Your lordship may inform his highness 
that it is convenient to call a parliament in his 
nation, to pass the supremacy by act ; for they do not 
much matter his highness's commission, which your 
lordship sent us over. This island hath been for 
a long time held in ignorance by the Eomish orders. 
The common people of this isle are more zealous in 


their blindness than the saints and martyrs were in 
truth, at the beginning of the gospel. I send to 
you, my very good lord, these things, that your 
lordship and his highness may consult what is to 
be done. It is feared O'Neill will be ordered by 
the Bishop of Rome to oppose your lordship's order 
from the king's highness, for the natives are very 
much in numbers within his powers. I do pray 
the Lord Christ to defend your lordship from your 
enemies. — Dublin, 4th Kal. Dec, 1535." 

As it was now found the Irish people would not 
apostatize, the most cruel persecutions commenced, 
and every religious order in Ireland, Franciscans, 
Dominicans, and Augustinians, sent numbers of 
holy souls to join the royal army of martyrs in 
heaven. It will be impossible here to give details 
of all their martyrdoms, and of the fidelity and 
generosity of the Irish, where all, with but few 
exceptions, from the highest in the land to the 
very poorest, were willing to lay down their lives 
cheerfully for the faith which had been taught them 
by their glorious apostle, St. Patrick. I refer 
those who wish for further information to the 
Illustrated History of Ireland. 

The reformers now began to upbraid each other 
with the very crimes of which thej^ had accused 
the clergy in England, When mention is made of 
the immense sums of money which were obtained 
by the confiscation of religious houses at tliis 
period, it has been commonly and naturally sup 


posed, that the religious were possessors of im- 
mense wealth, which they hoarded up for their 
own benefit; and although each person made a 
vow of poverty, it is thought that what was pos- 
sessed collectively, was enjoyed individually. But 
this false impression arises from a mistaken idea of 
a monastic life, and from a misapprehension as to 
the kind of property possessed by the religious. 

A brief account of some of the property for- 
feited in Ireland, will explain this important 
matter. We do not find in any instance that reli- 
gious communities had large funds of money. If 
they had extensive tracts of land, they were rather 
the property of the poor, who farmed them, than of 
the friars, who held them in trust. Any profit they 
produced made no addition to the fare or the 
clothing of the religious, for both fare and clothing 
were regulated by certain rules framed by the 
original founders, and which could not be altered. 
These rules invariably required the use of the 
plainest diet and of the coarsest habits. A consi- 
derable portion — indeed, by far the most consi- 
derable portion — of conventual wealth, consisted 
in the sacred A^essels and ornaments. These had 
been bestowed on the monastic churches by bene- 
factors, who considered that what was used in the 
service of God should be the best which man could 
offer. The monk was none the richer if he offered 
the sacrifice to the Eternal Majesty, each morning 
in a chalice of gold, encrusted with the most pre- 


cious jewels ; but if it were right and fitting to 
present that chalice to God for the service of his 
Divine Majesty, who shall estimate the guilt of 
those who presumed to take the gift from Him to 
whom it had been given 1 We know how terrible 
was the judgment which came upon a heathen 
monarch who dared to use the vessels which had 
belonged to the Jewish Temple, and we may well 
believe that a still more terrible judgment is pre- 
pared for those who desecrate Christian churches, 
and that it will be none the less sure because, 
under the new dispensation of mercy, it comes less 

All the gold and silver plate, jewels, ornaments, 
lead, bells, &c., were reserved by special command 
for the king's use. The church-lands were sold to 
the highest bidder, or bestowed as a reward on 
those who had helped to enrich the royal coffers 
by sacrilege. Amongst the records of the sums 
thus obtained, we find £326 2s. lid., the price of 
divers pieces of gold and silver, of precious stones, 
silver ornaments, &c. ; also £20, the price of 
1,000 lbs. of wax. The sum of £1,710 2s. was 
realized from the sale of sacred vessels belonging 
to thirty-nine monastries. The profits on the spo- 
liation of St. Mary's Dublin, realized £385. The 
destruction of the Collegiate Church of St. Patrick 
must have procured an enormous profit, as we find 
that Cromwell received £60 for his pains in eff'ect- 
ing the same. It should also be remembered that 


the value of a penny then was equal to the value 
of a shilling now, so that we should multiply 
these sums at least by ten to obtain an approxi- 
mate idea of the extent of this wholesale robbery. 
The spoilers now began to quarrel over the 
spoils. The most active or the most favoured re- 
ceived the largest share ; and Dr. Browne grumbled 
loudly at not obtaining all he asked for. But we 
have not space to pursue the disedifying history of 
their quarrels. The next step was to accuse each 
other. In the report of the Commissioners ap- 
pointed in 1538 to examine into the state of the 
country, we find complaints made of the exaction 
of undue fees, extortions for baptisms and mar- 
riages, &c. They also (though this was not made 
an accusation by the Commissioners) received the 
fruits of benefices in which they did not officiate, 
and they Avere accused of taking wives and dis- 
pensing with the sacrament of matrimony. The 
king, whatever personal views he might have on 
this subject, expected his clergy to live virtuously; 
and in 1542 he wrote to the Lord Deputy, requir- 
ing an Act to be passed " for the continency of the 
clergy," and some " reasonable plan to be devised 
for the avoiding of sin." However, neither the 
Act nor the reasonable plan appears to have suc- 
ceeded. In 1545 Dr. Browne writes: "Here 
reigneth insatiable ambition; here reigneth con- 
tinually coigne and livery, and callid extortion." 
Five years later, Sir Anthony St. Leger, after 


piteous complaints of the deccay of piety and the 
increase of immorality, epitomizes the state of the 
country thus : " I never saw the land so far out o^ 
good order," Pages might he filled with such 
details ; but the subject shall be dismissed -with a 
brief notice of the three props of the Reformation 
and the king's supremacy in Ireland. These were 
Dr. Browne of Dublin, Dr. Staples of Meath, and 
Dr. Bale of Ossory. The latter, writing of the 
former in 1553, excuses the corruption of his own 
reformed clergy, by stating that " they would at 
no hand obey; alleging for their vain and idle 
excuse, the lewd example of the Archbishop of 
Dublin, who was always slack in things pertaining 
to God's glory." He calls him *' an epicurious arch- 
bishop, a brocldsh srnne, and a dissembling prose- 
lyte," and accuses him in plain terms of " drunken- 
ness and gluttony." Dr. Browne accuses Dr. Staples 
of having preached in such a manner, "as I think 
the three-mouthed Cerberus of hell could not have 
uttered it more viperously." And Dr. Mant, the 
Protestant panegyrist of the Beformation and the 
Eeformers, admits that Dr. Bale was guilty of " un- 
common warmth of temperament" — a polite appel-. 
lation for a most violent temper ; and of " unbe- 
coming coarseness" — a delicate definement of a 
profligate life. His antecedents were not very 
creditable. After flying from his convent in England, 
lie was imprisoned for preaching sedition in York 
and London. He obtained his release by professing 


conformity to the new creed. He eventually 
retired to Canterbury, after his expulsion from 
Kilkenny by the Catholics, and there he died, in 


The Insurrection of Silken Thomas— Joy of the Irisli attli^ 
Accession of Queen Mary — Accession of Queen Eliza- 
beth—Martyrs during her Reign— Shane O'Neill— Help 
obtained from Si>ain— Failure of this attempt for Free- 
dom—O'Neill's Insurrection— The Siege of Dunboy. 

We must now return to secular history. In 1537. 
the English tried to bribe the Irish chieftains into 
submission to their rule by making O'Conor Faly 
a baron, thinking that Irishmen would so hate him 
afterwards, that he would be forsaken by them and 
obliged to persevere in allegiance to the Saxon. 
But the plan failed, for O'Brien, Caber's brother, 
expelled the new-made lord and took possession of 
his territory. In 1538 there was a great Geraldine 
league formed by the O'Neill's, O'Donnell's, O'Briens, 
O'Eourkes, and the Earl of Desmond, but they 
failed to effect any good for their oppressed 
country, simply and solely from their want of 
unanimity of purpose. It does, indeed, seem as if 
Irishmen never would, and never could learn the 
most important of all lessons for the oppressed, to 
meet in vigorous unity against the oppressor. 
On the 1st of July, 1643, Murrough O'Brien was 


cfeated Earl of Thomond and Baron of Incliiquin ; 
and De Burgo, known by the soubriquet of Ulich- 
na-gceann (" of the heads"), from the number of 
persons whom he decapitated in his wars, was 
created Earl of Clanrickarde and Baron of Dun- 
kellin. These titles were conferred by the king, 
with great pomp, at Greenwich ; but the Irish chief- 
tains paid for the honour, if honour it could be 
called whrere honour was forfeited, by acknowledg- 
ing the royal supremacy. 

The Four Masters record the followins^ events 
under the year 1545 : — A dispute between the Earl 
of Ormonde and the Lord Justice. Both repaired 
to the King of England to decide the quarrel, and 
both swore that only one of them should return to 
Ireland. " And so it fell out ; for the Earl died in 
England, and the Lord Justice returned to Ireland." 
Sir Eichard Cox asserts that the Earl and thirty- 
five of his servants were poisoned, at a feast at Ely 
House, Holborn, and that he and sixteen of them 
died ; but he does not mention any cause for this 
tragedy. It was probably accidental, as the Earl 
was a favourer of the reformed religion, and not 
likely to meet with treachery in England. The 
Irish annalists do not even allude to the catas- 
trophe; the Four Masters merely observe, that "he 
would have been lamented, were it not that he 
had greatly injured the Church by advice of the 

Great dearth prevailed this year, so that sixpence 


of the old money was given for a cake of bread in 
Connauglit, or six white pence in Meath. 

In 1546 they mention a rising of the Geraldines, 
" which did indescribable damages ; and two inva- 
sions of the Lord Justice in Offaly, who plundered 
and spoiled^ burning churches and monasteries, 
crops and corn. They also mention the introduc- 
tion of a new copper coin into Ireland, which the 
men of Ireland were obliged to use as silver. 

The immense sums which Henry had accumulated 
by the plunder of religious houses, appear to' have 
melted away, like snow-wreaths in sunshine, long 
before the conclusion of his reign. His French 
and Scotch wars undoubtedly exhausted large sup- 
plies ; liis mistresses made large demands for their 
pleasures and their needy friends ; yet there should 
have been enough, and to spare, for all these claims. 

Yet in 1545 a benevolence was demanded, though 
benevolences had been declared illegal by Act of 
Parliament. This method of raising money had 
been attempted at an early period of this reign ; 
but the proposal met with such sphited opposition 
fi-om the people, that even royalty was compelled 
to yield. A few years later, when the fatal result 
of opposition to the monarch's will and pleasure had 
become apparent, he had only to ask and obtain. 
Yet neither per-centage, nor tenths, nor sacrilegious 
spoils, sufficed to meet his expenses : and, as a last 
expedient, the coin was debased, and irreparable 
injury inflicted on the country. 


On the 28th of January, 1547, Edward VI. was 
crowned King of England. The Council of Eegency 
appointed by Henry was set aside, and Seymour, 
Duke of Somerset, appointed himself Protector. St. 
Leger was continued in the office of Lord Deputy 
in Ireland ; but Sir Edward Bellingham was sent 
over as Captain-General, with a considerable force, 
to quell the ever-recurring disturbances. His ener- 
getic character bore down all opposition, as much 
by the sheer strength of a strong will as by force 
of arms. In 1549 the Earl of Desmond refused to 
attend a Council in Dublin, on the plea that he 
wished to keep Christmas in his own castle. Bel- 
lingham, who had now replaced St. Leger as Lord 
Deputy, set out at once, with a small party of 
horse, for the residence of the refractory noble, 
seized him as he sat by his own fire-side, and 
carried him off in triumph to Dublin. 

In 1551 the Lord Deputy, Crofts, who suc- 
ceeded Sir Thomas Cusack, led an army into Ulster 
against the Scotch settlers, who had long been 
regarded with a jealous eye by the English Go- 
vernment j but he was defeated both at this time 
and on a subsequent occasion. No Parliament 
was convened during this short reign, and the 
affairs of the country were administered by the 
Privy Council. 

The most important native chieftain of the age 
was Shane O'Neil. His father, surnamed Con 
Baccagh (" the lame") had procured the title of 


Baron of Dungannoii, and the entail of the earldom 
of Tyrone, from Henry YIL, for his illegitimate 
son, Ferdoragh. He now wished to alter this 
arrangement ; but the ungrateful youth made such 
charges against the old man, that he was seized 
and imprisoned by the Deputy. After his death, 
Shane contended bravely for his rights. The 
French appear to have made some attempt about 
this period to obtain allies in Ireland, but the 
peace which ensued between that country and 
England soon terminated such intrigues. 

AH efforts to establish the new religion during 
this reign were equally unsuccessful. On Easter 
Sunday, A.D. 1551, the liturgy was read for the 
first time in the English tongue, in Christ Church 
Cathedral. As a reward for his energy in intro- 
ducing the reform in general, and the liturgy in 
particular, Edward VI. annexed the primacy of 
all Ireland to the See of Dubhn by Act of Par- 
liament. There was one insuperable obstacle, 
however, in the way of using the English tongue, 
which was simply that the people did not under- 
stand it. Even the descendants of the Anglo- 
Normans were more familiar with the Celtic dialect, 
and some attempt was made at this time to procure 
a Latin translation of the Protestant communion 

Dr. Dowdall had been appointed, in 1543, to 
the primatial See of Armagh, by Henry YIIL, 
who naturally hoped he would prove a ready in- 


strument in his service ; but, to the surprise of 
the court, he put liimself at the head of the 
CathoKc party, and was one of the most faithful 
opposers of the introduction of the Protestant form 
of prayer. 

Mary succeeded to the crown in 1553. A Pro- 
testant writer explains the difference between the 
religious persecutions of her reign, and those which 
occurred during the reign of Henry VIII., with 
admirable discrimination and impartiality. " The 
religious persecutions %hich prevailed in this reign 
proceeded altogether from a different cause from 
that which stands as an everlasting blot on the 
memory of Henry VIII. In Henry's instance, 
people were tortured and murdered in the name 
of religion, but the real cause was their opposition 
to the will of an arbitrary tyrant ; whereas those 
who suffered under Mary, were martyred because 
the Queen conscientiously believed in those princi- 
ples to which she clung with such pertinacity." 
One of the principal of these victims was Arch- 
bishop Cranmer, who had already caused several 
persons to suffer in the flames for differing from 
his opinions, and thus almost merited his fate. 
It is a curious fact that several Protestants came 
to Ireland during this reign, and settled in Dublin ; 
they were subsequently the founders of respectable 
mercantile families. 

Although the English people had adopted the 
reformed religion nationally, there were still a few 


persons whom neither favour nor indifference could 
induce to renounce the ancient faith; and this brief 
respite from persecution tended to confirm and 
strengthen those who wavered. In Ireland, always 
Catholic, the joy was unbounded. Archbishop 
Dowdall immediately prepared to hold a provincial 
synod at Drogheda, where enactments were made 
for depriving the conforming prelates and priests. 
Happily their number were so few that there was 
but little difficulty in making the necessary arrange- 
ments. The only prelates that were removed were 
Browne, of Dublin ; Staples of Meath ; Lancaster, 
of Kildare ; and Travers of Leighlin. Goodacre 
died a few months after his intrusion into the See 
of Armagh ; Bale of Ossory, fled beyond the seas ; 
Casey, of Limerick, followed his example. All 
were English except the latter, and all, except 
Staples, were professing Protestants at the time of 
their appointment to their respective sees. Bale, 
who owed the Kilkenny people a grudge, for the 
indignant reception with which they greeted him 
on his intrusion into the see, gives a graphic account 
of the joy with which the news of Edward's death 
was received. The people " flung up their caps to 
the battlements of the great temple ;" set the 
bells ringing ; brought out incense and holy water, 
and formed once more a Catholic procession, chant- 
ing the Sanda 3faria, ora loro nobis, as of old. In 
fact, " on the accession of Mary to the throne, so 
little had been done in the interest of the Refor- 


mation, that there was httle or nothing to undo. 
She issued a license for the celebration of Mass in 
Ireland, where no other service was, or had been 
celebrated worth mentioning, and where no other 
supreme head had been ever in earnest acknow- 
ledged but the Pope." 

In the year 1553 Gerald and Edward, the sons 
of the late Earl of Kildare, returned from exile, 
and were restored to the family honours and 
possessions. The Four Masters say that " there 
was great rejoicing because of their arrival, for 
it was thought that not one of the decendants of 
the Earls of Kildare or of the O'Connors Faly 
would ever again come to Ireland." They also 
mention that Margaret, daughter of O'Connor Faly, 
went to England, " rel}dng on the number of her 
friends and relatives there, and her knowledge of 
the English language, to request Queen Mary to 
restore her father to her." Her petition was 
granted, but he was soon after seized again by the 
English officials, and cast into prison. 

Shane O'Neil made an unsuccessful attempt to 
recover his paternal dominions, in 1557. The 
following year his father died in captivity, in 
Dublin, and he procured the murder of Ferdoragh, 
so that he was able to obtain his wishes without 
opposition. Elizabeth had now ascended the Eng- 
lish throne (a.d. 1558), and, as usual, those in 
power, who wished to retain office, made their 
religion suit the views of the new ruler. The Earl 


of Sussex still continued Viceroy, and merely 
reversed his previous acts. Sir Henry Sydney 
also made his worldly intei'ests and his religious 
views coincide. A Parliament was held in Dublin, 
in 1560, on the 12th of January. It was com- 
posed of seventy-six members, the representatives 
of ten counties, the remainder being citizens and 
burgesses of those towns in which the royal autho- 
rity was predominant. " It is little wonder," ob- 
serves Leland, " that, in despite of clamour and 
opposition, in a session of a few weeks, the whole 
ecclesiastical system of Queen Mary was entirely 
reversed." Every subject connected with this 
assembly and its enactments demands the most 
careful consideration, as it has been asserted by 
some writers — who, however, have failed to giva 
the proofs of their assertion — that the Irish Church 
and nation conformed at this time to the Protestant 
religion. This, certainly, was not the opinion of 
the Government officials who were appointed by 
royal authority to enforce the Act, and who would 
have been only too happy could they have reported 
success to their mistress. 

A recent writer, whose love of justice has led 
him to take a position in regard to Irish ecclesias- 
tical history which has evoked unpleasant remarks 
from those who are less honest, writes thus : — 
" There was not even the show of free action in 
the ordering of that parliament, nor the least pre- 
tence that liberty of choice was to be given to it. 


Notwithstanding the solemn promise of the Lord 
Deputy, the penal statutes against Catholics were 
carried out. In 1563 the Earl of Essex issued a 
proclamation, by which all priests, secular and 
regular, were forbidden to officiate, or even to 
reside in Dublin. Fines and penalties were 
strictly enforced for absence from the Protestant 
service; before long, torture and death were 
inflicted. Priests and rehgious were, as might be 
expected, the first victims. They were hunted into 
mountams and caves ; and the parish churches and 
few monastic chapels which had escaped the 
rapacity of Henry YIII., were sacrificed to the sa' 
crilegious emissaries of Elizabeth. Curry gives some 
account of those who sufi'ered for the faith in this 
reign. He says : " Among many other Roman 
Catholic bishops and priests, who were put to 
death, for the exercise of their function in Ireland, 
Globy O'Boyle, Abbot of Boyle, and Owen O'Mul- 
keran, Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, 
were hanged and quartered by Lord Grey, in 1580. 

Dr. Adam Loftus, the Protestant Archbishop of 
Armagh, was one of the most violent persecutors 
of the Catholics. In his first report to the Queen, 
dated May 17, 1565, he describes the nobility of 
the Pale as all devoted to the ancient creed j and 
he recommends that they should be fined " in a 
good round sum," which should be paid to her 
Majesty's use, and " sharply dealt withal." An 
original method of conversion, certainly ! But it 


did not succeed. On the 22nd September, 1590, 
after twenty-five years had been spent in the fruit- 
less attempt to convert the Irish, he writes to Lord 
Burleigh, detailing the causes of the general decay 
of the Protestant religion in Ireland, and suggest- 
ing " how the same may be remedied." He advises 
that the ecclesiastical commission should be put in 
force, " for the people are poor, and fear to be 
fined." He requests that he and such commissioners 
as are '' well affected in religion, may be permitted 
to imprison and fine all such as are obstinate and 
disobedient f and he has no doubt, that " within 
a short time they will be reduced to good confor- 
mity." He concludes : "And this course of reforma- 
tion, the sooner it is begun the better it will prosper; 
and the longer it is deferred, the more dangerous 
it will be. " AVhen Catholics remember that such 
words were written, and such deeds were enacted, 
by the head of the Protestant Church in Ireland, 
and sanctioned by the head of the Protestant 
Church in England, they may surely be content to 
allow modern controversialists the benefit of their 
pleasant dream that Catholic bishops conformed. If 
they had conformed to such doctrines and such 
practices, it can scarcely be seen what advantage 
the Anglican Establishment could gain from their 

Seven years later, when the same prelate found 
that the more the Church was persecuted the more 
she increased, he wrote to advise pacification : "The 


rebels are increased, and grown insolent. I see no 
cure for this cursed country but pacification [he 
could not help continuing], until, hereafter, when 
the fury is passed, her Majesty may, with more 
convenience, correct the heads of those traitors.'* 
The prelate was ably seconded by the J^ord Deputy. 
Even Sir John Perrot, who has the name of being 
one of the most humane of these governors, could 
not refrain from acts of cruelty where Catholics 
were concerned. 

Father Dominic a Eosario, the author of '' The 
Geraldines," scarcely exceeded truth when he wrote 
these memorable words : '' This far-famed Enghsh 
Queen has grown drunk on the blood of Christ's 
martyrs ; and, like a tigress, she has hunted down 
our Irish Catholics, exceeding in ferocity and wan- 
ton cruelty the emperors of pagan Rome." We shall 
conclude this painful subject for the present -wdth 
an extract from O'Sullivan Beare : " All alarm from 
the Irish chieftains being ceased, the persecution 
was renewed with all its horrors. A royal order 
was promulgated, that all should renounce the 
CathoUc faith, yield up the priests, receive from 
the heretical minister the morality and tenets of 
the Gospel. Threats, penalties, and force were to 
be employed to enforce compliance. Every effort 
of the Queen and her emissaries was directed to 
despoil the Irish Catholics of their property, and 
exterminate them. More than once did they 
attempt this, for they knew that not otherwise 


could the Catholic religion be suppressed in our 
island, unless hy the extermination of those in whose 
hearts it was implanted; nor could their heretical 
teachings be propagated, while the natives were 
alive to detest and execrate them." 

In 1561 Sussex returned from England with re- 
inforcements for his array, and marched to Armagh, 
where he established himself in the cathedral. 
From thence he sent out a large body of troops to 
plunder in Tyrone, but they were intercepted by the 
redoubtable Shane O'Neill, and suffered so serious a 
defeat as to alarm the inhabitants of the Pale, and 
even the English nation. Fresh supplies of men 
and arms were hastily despatched from England, 
and the Earls of Desmond, Ormonde, Kildare, 
Thomond, and Clanrickarde assembled round the 
Viceregal standard to assist in suppressing the 
formidable foe. And well might they fear the 
lion-hearted chieftain ! A few years later, Sidney 
describes him as the only strong man in Ireland. 
The Queen was warned, that unless he were speedily 
put down, she would lose Ireland, as her sister had 
lost Calais. He had gained all Ulster by his sword, 
and ruled therein ^Yith. a far stronger hand, 
and on a far firmer foundation, than ever any 
English monarch had obtained in any part of 

As this man was too clever to be captured, and 
too brave to be conquered, a plan was arranged, 
with the full concurrence of the Queen, by which 


he miglit be got rid of by poison or assassination. 
Had sucb an assertion been made by the Irish an- 
nalists, it would have been scouted as a calumny 
on the character of '^ good Queen Bess 3" but the 
evidence of her complicity is preserved in the re- 
cords of the State Paper Office. I shall show 
presently that attempts at assassination were a 
common arrangement for the disposal of refractory 
Irish chieftains during this reign. 

The proposal for this diabolical treachery, and 
the arrangements made for carrying it out, were 
related by Sussex to the Queen. He writes thus : 
**In fine, I brake with him to kill Shane, and bound 
myself by my oath to see him have a hundred 
marks of land to him and to his heirs for reward. 
He seemed desirous to serve your Highness, and to 
have the land, but fearful to do it, doubting his 
own escape after. I told him the ways he might 
do it, and how to escape after with safety ; which 
he offered and promised to do." The Earl adds a 
piece of information, which, no doubt, he com- 
municated to the intended murderer, and which 
probably decided him on making the attempt : " I 
assure your Highness he may do it without danger 
if he will j and if he will not do what he may in 
your service, there will be done to him what others 

Her Majesty, however, had a character to sup- 
port j and whatever she may have privately wished 
and commanded, she was obliged to disavow com- 


l^licity publicly. In two despatches from court 
she expresses her "displeasure at John Smith's 
horrible attempt to poison Shane O'Neill in his 
wine." In the following spring John Smith was 
committed to prison, and " closely examined by 
Lord Chancellor Cusake." What became of John 
is not recorded, but it is recorded that " Lord 
Chancellor Cusake persuaded O'Neill to forget the 

In October, 1562, Shane was invited to England, 
and was received by Elizabeth with marked 
courtesy. His appearance at court is thus de- 
scribed : " From Ireland came Shane O'Neill, who 
had promised to come the year before, with a guard 
of axe-bearing galloglasses, their heads bare, their 
long curling hair flowing on their shoulders, their 
linen garments dyed with saffron, with long open 
sleeves, with short tunics, and furry cloaks, whom 
the English wondered at as much as they do now 
at the Chinese or American aborigines." Shane's 
visit to London was considered of such importance, 
that we find a memorandum in the State Paper 
Office, by "Secretary Sir W. Cecil, March, 1562," 
of the means to be used with Shane O'Neill, in 
which the first item is, that " he be procured to 
change his garments, and go like an Englishman." 
But this was precisely what O'Neill had no idea of 
doing. Sussex appears to have been O'Neill's de- 
clared and open enemy. There is more than one 
letter extant from the northern chief to the 


Deputy. In one of these he says : ''I wonder 
very much for what purpose your Lordship strives 
to destroy me." In another, he declares that his 
delay in visiting the Queen had been caused " by 
the amount of obstruction which Sussex had tlirown 
in his way, by sending a force of occupation into 
his territory without cause ; for as long as there 
shall be one son of a Saxon in my territory against 
my will, from that time forth I will not send you 
either settlement or message, but will send my 
complaint through some other medium to the 
Queen." In writing to the Baron of Slane, he says 
that " nothing will please him [the Deputy] but to 
plant himself in my lands and my native territorj^, 
as I am told every day that he desires to be styled 
Earl of Ulster." 

The Lord Chancellor Cusake appears, on the 
contrary, to have constantly befriended him. On 
12th January, 1568, he writes of O'Neill's "duti- 
fulness and most commendable dealing with the 
Scots ;" and soon after three English members of 
the Dublin Government complain that Cusake 
had entrapped them into signing a letter to the 
unruly chieftain. There is one dark blot upon the 
escutcheon of this remarkable man. He had mar- 
ried the daughter of O'Donnell, Lord of one of the 
Hebrides. After a time he and his father-in-law 
quarrelled, and Shane contrived to capture OJDon- 
nell and his second wife. He kept this lady for 
several years as his mistress 3 and his own wife is 


said to have died of shame and horror at his con- 
duct, and at his cruel treatment of her father. 
English writers have naturally tried to blacken his 
character as deeply as possible, and have represented 
him as a drunkard and a profligate ; but there 
appears no foundation for the former accusation. 
The foundation for the latter is simply what we 
have mentioned, which, however evil in itself, would 
scarcely appear so very startling to a court over 
which Henry VIII. had so long presided. 

After many attempts at assassination, Shane-an- 
Diomais [John the Ambitious] fell a victim to 
English treachery. Sir William Piers, the Governor 
of Carrickfergus, invited some Scotch soldiers over 
to Ireland, and then persuaded them to quarrel 
with him and kill him. They accomplished their 
purpose by raising a disturbance at a feast, when 
they rushed on the northern chieftain, and de- 
spatched him with their swords. His head was 
sent to Dublin, and his old enemies took the poor 
revenge of impaling it on the Castle walls. 

The Earl of Sussex was recalled from Ireland in 
1564, and Sir Henry Sidney was appointed Vicero3^ 
The Earls of Ormonde and Desmond had again 
quarrelled, and, in 1562, both Earls were summoned 
to court by the Queen. Elizabeth was related to 
the Butlers through her mother's family, and used 
to boast of the loyalty of the house of Ormonde. 
The Geraldines adhered to the ancient faith, and 
Buffered for it. A battle was fought at Affane, near 


Cappoqnin, between the two parties, in which Des- 
mond was wounded and made prisoner. The man 
who bore him from the field asked, tauntingly : 
" Where is now the proud Earl of Desmond f He 
replied, with equal pride and mt : " Where he 
should be; upon the necks of the Butlers." 


Spenser's Castle— Sidney's Oflolcial Account of Ireland- 
Miserable State of the Protestant Churcli— The Catholic 
Church and its Persecuted Eulers— The Viceroy's Ad- 
ministration—A Packed Parliament and its Enact- 
ments — Claim of Sir P. Carew— An Attempt to plant 
in Ulster — Smith's Settlement in the Ards — His De-. 
Bcription of the Native Irish— He tries to induce Eng- 
lishmen to join him — Smith is killed, and the attempt to 
plant fails —Essex next tries to colonize Ulster — He dies in 
Dublin — Sidney returns to Ireland— His Interview with 
Granuaile- Massacre at Mullamast— Spenser's Account 
of the State of Ireland. 

jj^T the close of the month of January, 1567, 
the Lord Deputy, Sir Henry Sidney, set 
out on a visitation of Munster and Con- 
naught. In his ofiicial account he writes thus of 
Munster : " Like as I never was in a more pleasant 
country in all my life, so never saw I a more waste 
and desolate land. Such horrible and lamentable 
spectacles are there to behold — as the burning 
of villages, the ruin of churches, the wasting of 
such as have been good towns and castles ; yea, 


the view of the loones and skulls of the dead sub- 
jects, who, partly by murder, partly by famine, 
have died in the fields— as, in truth, hardly any 
Christian with dry eyes could behold." 

In 15 76 Sidney complains of the state of the 
Protestant Church, and addresses himself, with 
almost blasphemous flattery, to the head of that 
body, " as to the only sovereign salvegiver to this 
your sore and sick realm, the lamentable state of 
the most noble and principal limb thereof — the 
Church I mean — as foul, deformed, and as cruelly 
crushed as any other part thereof, only by your 
generous order to be cured, or at least amended. I 
would not have believed, had I not, for a greater 
part, viewed the same throughout the whole 
realm." He then gives a detailed account of the 
state of the diocese of Meath, which he declares to 
be the best governed and best peopled diocese in 
the realm ; and from his official report of the state 
of religion there, he thinks her Majesty may easily 
judge of the spiritual condition of less favoured 
districts. He says there are no resident i^arsons 
or vicars, and only a very simple or sorry curate 
appointed to serve them ; of these only eighteen 
could speak English, the rest being " Irish minis- 
ters, or rather Irish rogues, having very little 
Latin, and less learning or civility." In many 
places he found the walls of the churches thrown 
down, the chancels uncovered, and the windows 
and doors ruined or spoiled — fruits of the icono- 


clastic zeal of the original reformers, and of the 
rapacity of the nobles, who made religion an 
excuse for plunder. He complains that the sacra- 
ment of baptism was not used amongst them, and 
he accuses the " prelates themselves" of despoiling 
their sees, declaring that, if he told all, he should 
make " too long a libel of his letter, But your 
Majesty may believe it, that, upon the face of the 
earth where Christ is professed, there is not a 
Church in so miserable a case." 

It should be observed, however, that Sir Henry 
Sidney's remarks apply exclusively to the Protes- 
tant clergy. Of the state of the Catholic Church 
and clergy he had no knowledge, neither had he 
any interest in obtaining information. His account 
of the Protestant clergy who had been intruded 
into the Catholic parishes, and of the Protestant 
bishops who had been placed in the Catholic 
dioceses, we may presume to be correct, as he had 
no interest or object in misrepresentation. 

It is also a matter of fact, that although the 
Protestant services were not attended, and the 
lives of the Protestant ministers were not edifying, 
that the sacraments were administered constantly 
by the Catholic clergy. It is true they date their 
letters " from the place of refuge," which might be 
the wood nearest to their old and ruined parish- 
church, or the barn or stable of some friend, who 
dared not shelter them in his house ; yet this was 
no hindrance to their ministrations j for we find 


Dr. Loftus complaining to Sir William Cecil that 
the persecuted Bishop of Meath, Dr. Walsh, was 
." one of great credit amongst his countrymen, and 
upon whom (as touching cause of religion) they 
wholly depend." Sir Henry Sidney's efforts to 
effect reformation of conduct in the clergy and 
laity, do not seem to have been so acceptable at 
court as he might have supposed. His strong 
measures were followed by tumults ; and the way in 
which he obtained possession of the persons of some 
of the nobles was not calculated to enhance his po- 
pularity. He was particularly severe towards the 
Earl of Desmond, whom he seized in Kilmallock, 
after requiring his attendance on pretence of wish- 
ing him to assist in his visitation of Munster. In 
October, 1567, the Deputy proceeded to England 
to explain his conduct, taking with him the Earl 
of Desmond and his brother, John, whom he also 
arrested on false pretences. Sidney was, however, 
permitted to return in September, 1568. He 
landed at Carrickfergus, where he received the sub- 
mission of Turlough O'Neill, who had been elected 
to the chieftaincy on the death of Shane the Proud. 
The first public act of the Lord Deputy was to 
assemble a parliament, in which all constitutional 
rules were simply set at defiance (January 17th, 
1569). In this parliament — if, indeed, it could be 
called such — Acts were passed for attainting Shane 
O'Neill, for suppressing the name, and for annexing 
Tyrone to the royal possessions. 


Sidney now began to put Ms plan of local govern- 
ments into execution ; but this arrangement simply- 
multiplied the number of licenced oppressors. Sir 
Edward Fitton was appointed President of Con- 
naught, and Sir John Perrot, of Munster. Both 
of these gentlemen distinguished themselves by 
"strong measures," of which cruelty to the un- 
fortunate natives was the predominant feature. 
Perrot boasted that he would " hunt the fox out 
of his hole," and devoted himself to the destruc- 
tion of the Geraldines. Pitton arrested the Earl 
of Clanrickarde, and excited a general disturbance. 
In 1570 the Queen determined to lay claim to the 
possessions in Ulster, graciously conceded to her 
by the gentlemen who had been permitted to vote 
according to her royal pleasure in the so-called 
parliament of 1569. She bestowed the district of 
Ards, in Down, upon her secretary, Sir Thomas 
Smith. It was described as "divers parts and 
parcels of her Highness' Earldom of Ulster that 
lay waste, or else was inhabited with a wicked, 
barbarous, and unci^dl people." There were, how- 
ever, two grievous misstatements in this document. 
Ulster did not belong to her Highness, unless, 
indeed, the Act of a packed parliament could be 
considered legal ; and the people who inhabited it 
were neither " wicked, barbarous, nor uncivil." 
The tract of country thus unceremoniously be- 
stowed on an English adventurer, was in the pos- 
session of Sir Rowland Savage. His first ancestor 


was one of the most distinguished of the Anglo- 
Norman settlers who had accompanied De Courcy 
to Ireland. Thus, although he could not claim 
the prescriptive right of several thousand years 
for his possession, he certainly had the right of 
possession for several centuries. The next attempt 
was made by Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, 
who received part of the seignories of Clannaboy 
and Ferney, provided he could expel the "rebels" 
who dwelt thQre. Essex mortgaged his estates to 
the Queen to obtain funds for the enterprise. He 
was accompanied by Sir Henry Kenlis, Lord Dacres, 
and Lord Norris's three sons. 

Sir AVilliam EitzGerald, the then Lord Deputy, 
complained loudly of the extraordinary powers 
granted to Essex ; and some show of deference to 
his authority was made by requiring the Earl to 
receive his commission from him. Essex landed 
in Ireland in 1573, and the usual career of tyranny 
and treachery was enacted. The native chieftains 
resisted the invasion of their territories, and endea- 
voured to drive out the men whom they could 
only consider as robbers. The invaders, when 
they could not conquer, stooped to acts of trea- 
chery. Essex soon found that the conquest of 
Ulster was not quite so easy a task as he had 
anticipated. Many of the adventurers who had 
assumed his liver}^ and joined his followers, de- 
serted him; and Brian O'Neill, Hugh O'Neill, 
and Turlough O'Neill, rose up against him. Essex 


then invited Conn O'Donnell to his camp ; but, as 
soon as he secured him, he seized his Castle of 
Lifford, and sent the unfortunate chieftain a pri- 
soner to Dublin. 

In 1574 the Earl and Brian O'Neill made peace. 
A feast was prepared by the latter, to which Essex 
and his principal followers were invited; but 
after this entertainment had lasted for three days 
and nights, " as they were agreeably drinking and 
making merry, Brian, his brother, and his wife 
were seized upon by the Earl, and all his people 
put unsparingly to the sword — men, women, youths, 
and maidens — in Brian's own presence. Brian was 
afterwards sent to Dublin, together with his wife 
and brother, where they were cut in quarters. 
Such was the end of their feast. This wicked and 
treacherous murder of the lord of the race of Hugh 
Boy O'Neil, the head and the senior of the race of 
Eoghan, son of Nial of the Nine Hostages, and of 
all the Gaels, a few only excepted, was a sufficient 
cause of hatred and dispute to the English by the 

In 1586 a thousand soldiers were withdrawn from 
Ireland to serve in the Netherlands; and as the 
country was always governed by force, it could 
scarcely be expected not to rebel when the restraint 
was ^withdrawn. O'Neill manifested alarming 
symptoms of independence. He had married a 
daughter of Sir Hugh O'Donnell, and Sir Hugh 
refused to admit an English sheriff into his territory. 


The Government had, therefore, no resource but war 
or treachery. War was impossible, when so large 
a contingent had been withdrawn ; treachery was 
always possible; and even Sir John Perrot stooped 
to this base means of attaining his end. The object 
was to get possession of Hue Roe O'Donnell, a noble 
youth, and to keep him as hostage. The treachery 
was accomplished thus : a vessel laden with Spanish 
wine was sent to Donegal on pretence of traffic. 
It anchored at RathmuUen, where it had been 
ascertained that Hugh Roe O'Donnell was staying 
with his foster-father, MacSweeney. The wine was 
distributed plentifully to the country people ; and 
when MacSweeny sent to make purchases, the men 
declared there was none leffc for sale, but if the 
gentlemen came on board they should have what 
was left. Hugh and his companions easily fell into 
the snare. They were hospitably entertained, but 
their arms were carefully removed, the hatches were 
shut down, the cable cut, and the ship stood off to 
sea. The guests who were not wanted were put 
ashore, but the unfortunate youth was taken to 
Dublin, and confined in the Castle. 

In 1588 Sir John Perrot was succeeded by Sir 
William FitzWilliam, a nobleman of the most 
opposite character and disposition. Perrot was 
generally regretted by the native Irish, as he was 
considered one of the most humane of the Lord 
Deputies. The wreck of the Spanish Armada occur- 
red during this year, and was made at once an 


excuse for increased severity towards tlie Catholics, 
and for acts of grievous injustice. 

In 1590 Hugh of the Fetters, an illegitimate son 
of the famous Shane O'Neill, was hanged by the 
Earl of Tyrone, for having made false charges 
against him to the Lord Deputy. This exercise of 
authority excited considerable fear, and the Earl 
was obliged to clear'himself of blame before Elizabeth. 
After a brief detention in London, he was permit- 
ted to return to Ireland, but not until he had signed 
certain articles in the Enghsh interest, which he 
observed precisely as long as it suited his own 
convenience. About this time his nephew, Hugh 
O'Donnell, made an ineffectual attempt to escape 
from Dubhu Castle, but he was recaptured, and 
more closely guarded. This again attracted the 
attention of Government to the family; but a more 
important event was about to follow. O'Neill's 
wife was dead, and the cliieftain was captivated by 
the beauty of Sir Henry Bagnal's sister. How they 
contrived to meet and to plight their vows is not 
known, though State Papers have sometimes reveal- 
ed as romantic particulars. It has been discovered, 
however, from that invaluable source of information, 
that Sir Henry was furious, and cursed himself and 
his fate that his " bloude, which had so often been 
spilled in repressinge this rebellious race, should 
nowe be mingled with so treacherous a stocke and 
kindred." He removed the lady from Newry to 
her sister's house, near Dublin, who was the wife 


of Sir Patrick BarnWell. The Earl followed Miss 
Bagnal thither. Her brother-in-law received him 
courteously; and while the O'Neill engaged the 
family in conversation, a confidential friend rode off 
with the lady, who was married to O'Neill imme- 
diately after. 

Hugh O'Donnell made another attempt to escape 
from confinement at Christmas, a.d. 1592. He 
succeeded on this ocassion, though his life was 
nearly lost in the attempt. Turlough Roe O'Hagan, 
his father's faithful friend, was the principal agent 
in efi'ecting his release. Henry and Art O'Neill, 
sons of Shane the Proud, were companions in his 
flight. They both fell exhausted on their home- 
ward journey. Art died soon after, from the effects 
of fatigue and exposure, and Hugh recovered but 
slowly. He continued ill during the remainder of 
the winter, and was obliged to have his toes 
amputated. As soon as he was sufficiently recover- 
ed, a general meeting of his sept was convened? 
when he was elected to the chieftaincy, and inau- 
gurated in the usual manner. He then commenced 
incursions on the territories occupied by the English; 
but as the Earl of Tyrone was anxious to prevent 
a premature rebellion, he induced the Lord Deputy 
to meet him at Dundalk, where he obtained a full 
pardon for his escape from Dublin Castle, and a 
temporary pacification was arranged. 

In 1593 he collected another army; Turlough 
Luineach resigned his chieftaincy to the Earl of 


Tyrone ; and Ulster became wholly the possession 
of its old chieftains — the O'Neill and O'Donnell. 
An open rebellion broke out soon after, in con- 
sequence of the exactions of two English officers on 
the territories of Oge O'Eourke and Maguire. 
Several trifling engagements took place. The Earl 
of Tyrone was placed in a difficult position. He 
was obliged to join the English side while his heart 
and inclinations were with his own people ; but he 
contrived to send a messenger to Hugh Eoe, who 
had joined Maguire's party, requesting him not to 
fight against him. He was placed in a still greater 
difficulty at the siege of Enniskillen, which took 
place the following year. He compromised matters 
by sending his brother, Cormac O'Neill, with a 
contingent, to fight on the national side. Cormac 
met the English soldiers, who had been sent to 
throw provisions into the town, almost five miles 
from their destination, and routed them with great 
slaughter. The site of the engagement was called 
the "Ford of the Biscuits," from the quantity 
of those provisions which he obtained there. An 
Irish garrison was left at Enniskillen, and th^ 
victorious party, after retaliating the cruelties 
which had been inflicted on the natives, marched 
into northern Connaught to attack Sir Richard 

Many Catholics sufl'ered most cruelly foi' their 
faith about this time. One of the principal of 
these suflfererSj and one of those who was mois;^ 


barbarously tortured, was Archbishop 0' Hurley. 
He was martyred in Stephen's-green on the 6th 
of May, 1584. The details of his heroic endurance 
form one of the most glorious epochs in the history 
of our country. Many brave and true men have 
shed their blood in her defence — all honour to their 
memories ; but amongst the bravest and the truest 
have been the priests of Ireland, who suffered, as 
far as cruel torture goes, far — far more agonising 
pain than could be inflicted even by the crudest 
soldiers on the field of battle. 

In 1598 another conference was held, the inter- 
vening years having been spent in mutual hostilities, 
in which, on the whole, the Irish had the advan- 
tage. O'Neill's tone was proud and independent; 
he expected assistance from Spain, and he scorned 
to accept a pardon for what he did not consider a 
crime. The Government was placed in a difficult 
position. The prestige of O'Neill and O'Donnell 
was becommg every day greater. On the 7th of 
June, 1598, the Earl laid siege to the fort of the 
Blackwater, then commanded by Captain Williams, 
and strongly fortified. Reinforcements were sent 
to the besieged from England, but they were at- 
tacked en route by the Irish, and lost 400 men at 
Dungannon. At last the Earl of Ormonde and 
Bagnal determined to take up arms — the former 
marching against the Leinster insurgents; the 
latter, probably but too willing, set out to encounter 
Ms old enemy and brother-in-law. He commanded 


a fine body of men, and had but little doubt on 
wliich side victory should declare itself. 

The contingent set out for Armagh on the 14th 
of August, and soon reached the Yellow Ford, 
about two miles from that city, where the main 
body of the Irish had encamped. They were at 
once attacked on either flank by skirmishers from 
the hostile camp ; but the A^'anguard of the Eng- 
lish army advanced gallantly to the charge, and 
were soon in possession of the first entrenchments 
of the enemy. Although Bagnal's personal valour 
is unquestionable, he was a bad tactician. His 
leading regiment was cut to pieces before a support 
could come up ; his divisions were too far apart to 
assist each other. Bagnal raised the visor of his 
helmet for one moment, to judge more efi'ectually 
of the scene of combat, and that moment proved 
his last. A musket-ball pierced his forehead, and 
he fell lifeless to the ground. Almost at the same 
moment an ammunition waggon exploded in his 
ranks — confusion ensued. O'Neill took advantage 
of the panic ; he charged boldly ; and, before one 
o'clock, the rout had become general. 

The English officers and their men fled to 
Armagh, and shut themselves up in the cathedral ; 
but they had left twenty-three officers and 1,700 
rank and file dead or dying on the field. O'Neill 
retired for a time to recruit his forces, and to rest 
his men; and a revolt was organized under his 
auspices iuMunster, mth immense success. O'Don- 


nell was making rapid strides ; but a new Yiceroy 
was on his way to Ireland, and it was hoped by 
the royalist party that he would change the aspect 
of affairs. 

Essex arrived on the 15th of April, 1599. He 
had an army of 20,000 foot and 2,000 horse— the 
most powerful, if not the best equipped force ever 
sent into the country. He at once issued a pro- 
clamation, offering pardon to all the insurgents 
who should submit; and he despatched reinforce- 
ments to the northern garrison towns, and to 
Wicklow and Naas. He then marched southward, 
not without encountering a sharp defeat from 
Kory O'More. He attacked the Geraldines, with- 
out much success, in Fermoy and Lismore, having, 
on the whole, lost more than he had accomplished 
by the expedition. An engagement took place 
between O'Donnell and Sir Conyers Clifford, in 
the pass of Balloghboy, on the 16th of August, in 
which Conyers was killed, and his army defeated. 
His body was recognized by the Irish, towards 
whom he had always acted honourably, and they 
interred the remains of their brave and noble 
enemy with the respect which was justly due to 

Essex wrote to England for more troops, and his 
enemies were not slow to represent his incapacity, 
and to demand his recall ; but he had not yet lost 
grace mth his royal mistress, and his request was 
granted. The Viceroy now marched into the 


northern provinces. When he arrived at the Lagan, 
where it bounds Louth and Monaghan, O'Neill 
appeared on the opposite hill with his army, and 
sent the O'Hagan, his faithful friend and atten- 
dant, to demand a conference. The interview 
took place on the following day j and O'Neill, with 
chivalrous courtesy, dashed into the river on his 
charger, and there conversed with the English 
Earl, while he remained on the opposite hank. 
It was supposed that the Irish chieftain had made 
a favourable impression on Essex, and that he was 
disposed to concihate the Catholics. He was obliged 
to go to England to clear himself of these charges ; 
and his subsequent arrest and execution would 
excite more sympathy, had he been as amiable in 
his domestic relations as he is said to have been in 
his public life. 

O'Neill had now obtained a position of consider- 
able importance, and one which he appears to 
have used invariably for the general good. The 
fame of his victories had spread throughout the 
Continent. It was well known now that the Irish 
had not accepted the Protestant Reformation, and it 
appeared as if there was at last some hope of per- 
manent peace in Ireland. 

James, son of Gerald, Earl of Desmond, who 
had long been imprisoned in London, was now 
sent to Ireland, and a patent, restoring his title and 
estates, was forwarded to Carew, with private in- 
structions that it should be used or not, as might 


be found expedient. The people flocked with joy- 
to meet the heir of the ancient house, but their 
enthusiasm was soon turned into contempt. He 
arrived on a Saturday, and on Sundaj'- went to the 
Protestant service, for he had been educated in the 
new religion in London. His people were amazed ; 
they fell on their knees, and implored him not to 
desert the faith of his fathers ; but he was igno • 
rant of their language as well as of their creed. 
Once this was understood, they showed how much 
dearer that was to them than even the old ties of 
kindred, so revered in their island ; and his return 
from prayers was hailed by groans and revilings. 
The hapless youth was found to be useless to his 
employers ; he was therefore taken back to Lon- 
don, where he died soon after of a broken heart. 
Attempts were made to assassinate O'lSTeill in 
IGOl. £2,000 was offered to anyone who would 
capture him alive ; j£ 1,0 00 was offered for his head ; 
but none of his own people could be found to play 
the traitor even for so high a stake. The '' Sugane 
Earl " was treacherously captured about the end of 
August, and was sent to London in chains, with 
Florence MacCarthy. But the long-expected aid 
from Spain had at last arrived. The fleet conveyed 
a force of 3,000 infantry, and entered the harbour 
of Kinsale 'on the 23rd of September, under the 
command of Don Juan dAquila. The northern 
chieftains set out at once to meet their alHes when 
informed of their arrival; and O'Donnell, with 


characteristic impetuosity, was the first on the 
road. Carew attempted to intercept him, but des- 
paired of coming up with '• so swift-footed a gene- 
ral," and left him to pursue his way unmolested. 

The Lord Deputy was besieging Kinsale, and 
Carew joined him there. The seige was continued 
through the month of November, during which 
time fresh reinforcements came from Spain ; and 
on the 21st of December O'Neill arrived with all 
his force. Unfortunately, the Spanish general had 
become thoroughly disgusted with the enterprise ; 
and, although the position of the English was such 
that the Lord Deputy had serious thoughts of 
raising the siege, he insisted on decisive measures j 
and O'Neill was obliged to surrender his opinion, 
which was entirely against this line of action. A 
sortie was agreed upon for a certain night ; but a 
youth in the Irish camp, who had been in the 
President's service formerly, warned him of the 
intended attack. This was sufficient in itself to 
cause the disaster wliich ensued. But there were 
other misfortunes. O'Neill and O'Donnell lost 
their way ; and, when they reached the English 
camp at dawn, found the soldiers under arms, and 
prepared for an attack. Their cavalry at once 
charged, and the new comers in vain struggled to 
maintain their ground, and a retreat which they 
attempted was turned into a total rout. 

A thousand Irish were slain, and the prisoners 
were hanged without mercy. The loss on the 


English side was but trifling. It was a fatal blo\v 
to the Irish cause. Heavy were the hearts and 
bitter the thoughts of the brave chieftains on that 
sad night. O'Neill no longer hoped for the de- 
liverance of his country ; but the more sanguine 
O'Donnell proposed to proceed at once to Spain, to 
explain their position to King Philip. He left 
Ireland in a Spanish vessel three days after the 
battle — if battle it can be called ; and O'Neill 
inarched rapidly back to Ulster with Eory O'Don- 
nell, to whom Hugh Roe had delegated the chief- 
taincy of Tir-Connell. 

D'Aquila, whose haughty manners had rendered 
him very unpopular, now surrendered to Mountjoy, 
who received his submission with respect, and 
treated his army honourably. According to one 
account, the Spaniard had touched some English 
gold, and had thus been induced to desert the 
Irish cause ; according to other authorities, he 
challenged the Lord Deputy to single combat, and 
wished them ^to decide the question at issue. In 
the meantime, O'Sullivan Beare contrived to get 
possession of his own Castle of Dunboy, by 
breaking into the wall at the dead of night, while 
the Spanish garrison were asleep, and then de- 
claring that he held the fortress for the King of 
Spain, to whom he transferred his allegiance. 
Don Juan offered to recover it for the EngHsh by 
force of arms ; but the Deputy, whose only anxiety 
was to get him quietly out of the country, urged 


his immediate departure. He left Ireland on the 
20th of February; and the suspicions of his 
treachery must have had some foundation, for he 
was placed under arrest as soon as he arrived in 

The siege of Dunhoy is one of the most famous 
and interesting episodes in Irish history. The 
castle was deemed almost impregnable from its 
situation ; and every argument was used with Sir 
George Carew to induce him to desist from at- 
tacldng it. But the Lord Deputy had resolved 
that it should be captured. The Lord President 
considered the enterprise would be by no means 
difficult, for " he declared that he would plant the 
ordnance without the losse of a man ; and within 
seven dayes after the battery was begun, bee 
master of all that place." There was cosiderable 
delay in the arrival of the shipping which conveyed 
the ordnance, and operations did not commence 
until the 6th of June. The defence of the castle 
was entrusted by O'SuUivan to Eichard MacGeo- 
ghegan. The chief himself was encamped with 
Tyrrell in the interior of the countrj^. The soldiers 
were tempted, and the governor was tempted, but 
neither flinched for an instant from their duty. 
The garrison only consisted of 143 fighting men, 
with a few pieces of cannon. The besieging army 
was about 3,000 strong, and they were amply 
supplied with ammunition. On the 17th of June, 
when the castle was nearly shattered to pieces, its 


brave defenders offered to surrender if they were 
allowed to depart with their arms ; but the only 
reply vouchsafed was to hang their messenger, and 
to commence an assault. 

The storming party were resisted for an entire 
day with undaunted bravery. Their leader was 
mortally wounded, and Taylor took the command. 
The gal-rison at last retreated into a cellar, into 
which the only access was a narrow flight of stone 
steps, and where nine barrels of gunpowder were 
stored. Taylor declared he would blow up the 
place if life were not promised to those who sur- 
rendered. Carew refused, and retired for the 
night, after placing a strong guard over the un- 
fortunate men. The following morning he sent 
cannon-ball in amongst them, and Taylor was 
forced by his comnanions to yield without condi- 
tions. As the English soldiers descended the 
steps, the wounded MacGeoghegan staggered 
towards the gunpowder with a lighted candle, and 
was in the act of throwing it in when he was 
seized by Captain Power, and in another moment 
he was massacred. Fifty- eight of those who had 
surrendered were hanged immediately ; a few were 
reserved to see if they could be induced to betray 
their old companions, or to renounce their faith ; 
but, as they " would not endeavour to merit life," 
they were executed without mercy. One of these 
prisoners was a Father Dominic Collins. He was 
executed in Youghal, his native town — a most 


unwise proceeding ; for his fate was sure to excite 
double sympathy in the place where he was known, 
and, consequently, to promote double disaffection, 
O'Sullivan Beare assigns the 31st of October as 
the day of his martyrdom. 

The fall of Dunboy was a fatal blow to the na- 
tional cause. The news soon reached Spain. Hugh 
O'Donnell had been warmly received there ; but 
the burst of grief which his people uttered, when 
they saw him departing from his native land, was 
his death-keen, for he did not long survive his 
voluntary expatriation. 

Donneil O'Sullivan now found his position hope- 
less, and commenced his famous retreat to Leitrim. 
He set out with about 1,000 followers, of whom 
only 400 were fighting men ; the rest were ser- 
vants, women, and children. He fought all the 
way, and arrived at his destination with only 
thirty-five followers. 

O'Neill now stood merely on the defensive. The 
land was devastated by famine ; Docwra, Governor 
of Derry, had planted garrisons at every available 
point ; and Mountjoy plundered Ulster. In August 
he prepared to attack O'Neill with a large army ; 
and, as he informs Cecil, '' by the grace of God, as 
near as he could, utterly to waste the country of 
Tyrone." O'Neill had now retired to a fastness at 
the extremity of Lough Erne, attended by his 
brother, Cormac Art O'Neill, and MacMahon. 
Mountjoy followed him, but could not approach 


nearer than twelve miles; he therefore returned to 
Newry. In describing this march to Cecil, he says, 
" O'Hagan protested to us, that between TuUaghoge 
and Toome there lay, unburied, 1,000 dead." 

The news of O'Donnell's death had reached Ire- 
land ; and his brother submitted to the Deputy. 
In 1603 Sir Garret More entered into negotiations 
with O'Neill, which ended in his submitting also. 
The ceremony took place at Mellifont, on the 31st 
of March. Queen Elizabeth had expired, more 
miserably than many of the victims who had been 
executed in her reign, on the 24th of March ; but 
the news was carefully concealed until O'Neill had 
made terms with the Viceroy. 


The Eeign of James T. — His Treachery towards the Irish — 
Persecutiou of the Catholics — The Plantation of Ulster — 
Accession of Charles I. — His Treachery — The Plantation 
of Connanght— Irish Parliament at Kilkenny — The Pope 
sends over the Legate Einuccinni — His Plans are de- 
feated by intrigues — He returns to Italy. 

j^ EEAT was the joy of the Irish nation when 

James the First of England and the Sixth 

of Scotland ascended the throne. 

The Irish Catholics, only too ready to rejoice in 

the faintest gleam of hope, took possession of their 

own churches, and hoped they might practise their 


religion openly, but they weresoon undeceived. 
The penal statutes were renewed, and enforced with 
increased severity. Several members of the Cor- 
poration and some of the principal citizens of Dublin 
were sent to prison ; similar outrages on religious 
liberty were perpetrated at Waterford, Ross, and 
Limerick. In some cases these gentlemen were 
only asked to attend the Protestant church once ; 
but they nobly refused to act against their con- 
science even once, though it should procure them 
freedom from imprisonment, or even from death. 

In 1611 the Bishop of Down and Connor was 
executed in Dublin. He had been seized, in 1587, 
by Perrot, and thrown into prison. He was re- 
leased in 1593, and, according to Dr. Loftus, he 
took the oath of supremacy. This statement, how- 
ever, is utterly incredible ; for he devoted himself 
to his flock immediately after his release, and con- 
tinued to administer the sacraments to them, at the 
risk of his life, until June, 1611, when he was 
again arrested in the act of administering the 
sacrament of confirmation to a Catholic family. 
Father O'Luorchain was imprisoned with him, and 
they were both sentenced and executed together. 

Communications with Rome were still as fre- 
quent and as intimate as they had ever been since 
Ireland received the faith at the hands of the great 
Apostle. The Irish were always children of Patrick 
and children of Rome ; and the Holy See watched 
still more tenderly over this portion of the Church 


while it was suffering and persecuted. Paul V. 
wrote a special letter to the Irish Catholics, dated 
from "St. Mark's, 22nd of September, 1606," in 
which he mourns over their afflictions, commends 
their marvellous constancy, which he says can only 
be compared to that of the early Christians, and 
exhorts them specially to avoid the sin of attend- 
ing Protestant places of worship — a compliance to 
which they were strongly tempted, when even one 
such act might procure exemption, for a time at 
least, from severe persecution or death. 

O'Neill and O'Donnell may be justly considered 
the last of the independent native chieftains. 
When the latter died in exile, and the former ac- 
cepted the coronet of an English earl, the glories 
of the olden days of princes, who held almost 
regal power, had passed away for ever. 

In May, 1603, O'Neill had visited London in 
company with Lord Mountjoy and Eory O'Don- 
nell. The northern chieftains were graciously re- 
ceived ; and it was on this occasion that O'Neill 
renounced his ancient name for his new titles. 
O'Donnell was made Earl of Tyrconnell at the same 
time. The first sheriffs appointed for Ulster were 
Sir Edward Pelham and Sir John Davies. The 
latter has left it on record, as his deliberate opinion, 
after many years experience, " that there is no 
nation of people under the sun that doth love 
equal and indifferent justice better than the Irish, 
or will rest better satisfied with the execution 


thereof, although it he against themselves, so that they 
may have the protection and benefits of the laio, luhen, 
upon just cause, they do desire it" 

A plot was now got up to entrap O'Neill and 
O'Donnell. Their complicity in it has long been 
questioned, though Dr. O'Donovan appears to 
think that Moore has almost decided the question 
against them. 

The Four Masters give a touching account of 
the flight of the Earl, and exclaim : " Woe to the 
heart that meditated, woe to the mind that con- 
ceived, woe to the council that decided on the pro- 
ject of their setting out on the voyage !" The 
exiles left EathmuUen on the 1 4th of September, 
1607. O'Neill had been with the Lord Deputy 
shortly before; and one cannot but suppose that 
he had then obtained some surmise of premeditated 
treachery, for he arranged his flight Gecretly and 
swiftly, pretending that he was about to visit Lon- 
don. O'Neill was accompanied by his countess, 
his three sons, O'Donnell, and other relatives. They 
first sailed to Normandy, where an attempt was 
made by the English Government to arrest them, 
but Henry IV. would not give them up. In Rome 
they were received as confessors exiled for the faith, 
and were liberally supported by the Pope and the 
King of Spain. They all died in a few years after 
their arrival, and their ashes rest in the Franciscan 
Church of St. Peter-in-Montorio. 

The Red Hand of the O'Neills had hitherto been 


a powerful protection to Ulster. The attempts ' ' to 
plant " there had turned out failures ; but now 
that the chiefs were removed, the people became 
an easy prey. O'Dogherty, Chief of Innishoweu, 
was insulted by Sir George Paulett, in a manner 
which no gentleman could be expected to bear 
without calling his insulter to account ; and the 
young chieftan took fearful vengeance for the rude 
blow which he had received from the English 

There can be little doubt, from Sir Henry 
Docwra's own account, that O'Dogherty was pur- 
posely insulted, and goaded into rebellion. He 
was the last obstacle to the grand scheme, and he 
was disposed of. Ulster was now at the mercy of 
those who chose to accept grants of land ; and the 
grants were made to the highest bidders, or to 
those who had paid for the favour by previous 
services. Sir Arthur Chichester evidently consi- 
dered that he belonged to the latter class ; for we 
find him writing at considerable length to the Earl 
of Northampton, then a ruling member of King 
James' cabinet, to request that he may be appointed 
President of Ulster. 

The plan of the plantation was agreed upon in 
1609. It was the old plan which had been at- 
tempted before, though with less show of legal 
arrangement, but with quite the same proportion 
of legal iniquity. The simple object was to expel 
the natives, and to extirpate the Catholic religion. 


Tlie six counties to be planted were Tyrone, Derry, 
Donegal, Armagh, Fermanagh, and Cavan. These 
were parcelled out into portions varying from 2,000 
to 4,000 acres, and the planters were obliged to 
build bawns and castles, such as that of Castle 
Monea, co. Fermanagh. 

Chichester now proposed to call a parliament. 
The plantation of Ulster had removed some diffi- 
culties in the way of its accomplishment. The 
Protestant University of Dublin had obtained 
3,000 acres there, and 400,000 acres of tillage land 
had been partitioned out between English and 
Scotch proprietors. It was expressly stipulated 
that their tenants should be English or Scotch, and 
Protestants ; the Catholic owners of the land were, 
in some cases, as a special favour, permitted to re- 
main, if they took the oath of supremacy, if they 
worked well for their masters, and if they paid 
double the rent fixed for the others. Sixty thousand 
acres in Dublin and Waterford, and 385,000 acres 
in Westmeath, Longford, King's County, Queen's 
County, and Leitrim, had been portioned out in 
a similar manner. 

Chichester retired from the government of 
Ireland in 161 G. In 1617 a proclamation was 
issued for the expulsion of the Catholic clergy, 
and the city of Waterford was deprived of its 
charter in consequence of the spirited opposition 
which its Corporation offered to the oath of spiritual 
supremacy. In 1622 Viscount Falkland came over 


as Lord Deputj^ ; and Usher, who was at heart a 
Puritan, preached a violent sermon on the occasion, 
in which he suggested a very literal application of 
the text, " He beareth not the sword in vain." If 
a similar application of the text had been made by 
a Catholic divine, it would have been called intole- 
rance, persecution, and a hint that the Inquisition 
was at hand ; as used by him, it was supposed to 
mean putting down Popery by the sword. 

James I. died on the 27th March, 1625, and left 
his successor no very pleasant prospects in any 
part of his kingdom. 

On the accession of Charles I., in 1625, it was so 
generally supposed he would favour the Catholic 
cause, that the earliest act of the new parliament 
in London was to vote a petition, begging the King 
to enforce the laws against recusants and Popish 
priests. The Viceroy, Lord Falkland, advised the 
Irish Catholics to propitiate him with a voluntary 
subsidy. They offered the enormous sum of 
£120,000, to be paid in three annual instalments, 
and in return he promised them certain " graces." 
The contract was ratified by royal proclamation, in 
which the concessions were accompanied by a 
promise that a Parliament should be held to confirm 
them. The first instalment of the money was paid, 
and the Irish agents returned home to find them- 
selves cruelly deceived and basely cheated. 

The Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Bulkely, 
was foremost in commencing the persecution. He 

Charles's "faith." 263 

marched, with the Mayor and a file of soldiers, 
to the Franciscan Church in Cook-street, on St. 
Stephen's Day, 1629, dispersed the congregation, 
seized the fiiars, profaned the church, and broke 
the statue of St. Francis. The friars were rescued 
by the people, and the Archbishop had "to take 
to his heels and cry out for help," to save himself. 
Eventually the Franciscans established their novi- 
tiates on the Continent, but still continued their 
devoted ministrations to the people, at the risk of 
life and liberty. 

"Charles' faith" might now safely rank with 
Grey's ; and the poor impoverished Irishman, who 
would willingly have given his last penny, as well 
as the last drop of his blood, to save his faith, was 
again cruelly betrayed where he most certainly 
might have expected that he could have confided 
and trusted. One of the "graces" was to make 
sixty years of undisputed possession of property a 
bar to the claims of the crown ; and certainly if 
there ever was a country where such a demand was 
necessary and reasonable, it was surely Ireland. 
There had been so many plantations, it was hard 
for anything to grow ; and so many settlements, it 
was hard for anything to be settled. Each new 
monarch, since the first invasion of the country by 
Henry II., had his favourites to provide for and his 
friends to oblige. The island across the sea was 
considered "no man's land," as the original in- 
habitants were never taken into account, and were 


simply ignored, unless, indeed, when they made 
their presence very evident by open resistance to 
this wholesale robbery. It was no wonder, then, 
that this " grace" should be specially solicited. It 
was one in which the last English settler in Ulster 
had quite as great an interest as the oldest Celt in 
Connemara. The Burkes and the Geraldines had 
suffered almost as much from the rapacity of their 
own countrymen as the natives, on whom their 
ancestors had inflicted such cruel wrongs. No 
man's property was safe in Ireland, for the tenure 
was depending on the royal will ; and the caprices 
of the Tudors were supplemented by the necessities 
of the Stuarts. 

But the "grace" was refused, although, pro- 
bably, there was many a recent colonist who would 
have willingly given one-half of his plantation to 
have secured the other to his descendants. The 
reason of the refusal was soon apparent. As soon 
as parliament was dissolved, a Commission of 
"Defective Titles" was issued for Connaught. 
Ulster had been settled, Leinster had been settled, 
Munster had been settled; there remained only 
Connaught, hitherto inaccessible, now, with ad- 
vancing knowledge of the art of war, and new 
means of carrying out that art, doomed to the 
scourge of desolation. 

It was now discovered that the lands and lord- 
ships of De Burgo, adjacent to the Castle of Ath- 
lone, and, in fact, the whole remaining province, 


belonged to the crown. It would be impossible 
here to give details of the special pleading on 
which this statement was founded; and I must 
again refer you to the Illustrated History of Ireland 
for full particulars ; it is an illustration of what I 
have observed before, that the tenure of the English 
settler was quite as uncertain as the tenure of the 
Celt. The jury found for the King ; and, as a re- 
ward, the foreman, Sir Lucas Dillon, was graciously 
permitted to retain a portion of his own lands. 
The juries of Mayo and Sligo were equally com- 
placent ; but there was stern resistance made in 
Galway, and stern reprisals were made for the re- 
sistance. The jurors were fined £4,000 each, and 
were imprisoned, and their estates seized until that 
sum was paid. The sheriff was fined £1,000, and 
being unable to pay that sum, he died in prison. 
And all this was done with the full knowledge and 
the entire sanction of the " royal martyr." 

The country was discontented, and the Lord 
Deputy demanded more troops, " until the in- 
tended plantation should be settled." He could 
not see why the people .should object to what was 
so very much for their own good, and never 
allowed himself to think that the disturbance had 
anything to do with the land question. The new 
proprietors were of the same opinion. Those who 
were or who feared to be dispossessed, and those 
who felt that their homes, whether humble or 
noble, could not be called their own, felt diffe- 


rently ; but their opinion was as little regarded as 
their sufferings. 

The kingdom of England was never in a more 
critical state than at this period. The King was 
such only in name, and the ruling powers were the 
Puritan party, who already looked to Cromwell as 
their head. The resistance which had begun in 
opposition to tyrannical enactments, and to the 
arbitrary exercise of authority by the King and his 
High Church prelates, was fast merging into, what 
it soon became, an open revolt against the Crown, 
and all religion which did not square with the very 
peculiar and ill-defined tenets of the rebellious 
party. In 1641 the Queen s confessor was sent to 
the Tower, and a resolution was passed by both 
houses never to consent to the toleration of the 
Catholic worship in Ireland, or in any other part of 
his Majesty's dominions. The country party had 
determined to possess themselves of the command 
of the army, and whatever struggles the King 
might make to secure the only support of his 
throne, it was clear that the question was likely 
to be decided in their favour. The conduct of 
Holies, Pym, Hampden, and Stroud, was well 
known even in Ireland ; and in Ireland fearful ap- 
prehensions were entertained that still more cruel 
sufferings were preparing for that unfortunate 

An insurrection was organized, and its main 
supports were some of the best and bravest of 


the old race, who had been driven by political 
and religious persecutions to other lands, where 
their bravery had made them respected, and their 
honourable dealings had made them esteemed. 

The movement in Ireland was commenced by 
Roger O'More, a member of the ancient family of 
that name, who had been so unjustly expelled from 
their ancestral home in Leix ; by Lord Maguire, 
who had been deprived of nearly all his ancient 
patrimony at Fermanagh, and his brother Eoger ; 
by Sir Phelim O'Neill, of Kinnare, the elder branch 
of whose family had been expatriated; by Tur- 
lough O'Neill, his brother, and by several other 
gentlemen similarly situated. O'More was the 
chief promoter of the projected insurrection. He 
was eminently suited to become a popular leader, 
for he was a man of great courage, fascinating 
address, and imbued with all the high honour of 
the old Celtic race. In May, 1641, Nial O'Neill 
arrived in Ireland with a promise of assistance from 
Cardinal Richelieu ; and the confederates arranged 
that the rising should take place a few days before 
or after All Hallows, according to circumstances. 
In the meanwhile the exiled Earl of Tyrone was 
killed ; but his successor. Colonel Owen Roe 
O'Neill, then serving in Flanders, entered warmly 
into all their plans. 

The King was now obliged to disband his Irish 
forces, and their commanders were sent orders for 
that purnose. They had instructions, however, to 


keep the men at home and together, so that they 
might easily be collected again if they could be 
made available, as, strange to say, the so-called 
"Irish rebels" v/ere the only real hope which 
Charles had to rely on in his conflict with his dis- 
loyal English subjects. An understanding was 
soon entered into between these officers and the 
Irish party. They agreed to act in concert ; and 
one of the former, Colonel Plunket, suggested the 
seizure of Dublin Castle. The 23rd of October 
was fixed on for the enterprise ; but, though 
attempted, the attempt was frustrated by a be- 
trayal of the plot, in consequence of an indiscretion 
of one of the leaders. 

The rage of the Protestant party knew no limits. 
The Castle was put in a state of defence, troops 
were ordered in all directions, and proclamations 
were issued. In the meantime the conspirators at 
a distance had succeeded better, but, unfortunately, 
they were not aware of the failure in Dublin until 
it was too late. Sir Phelim O'Neill was at the 
head of 30,000 men. He issued a proclamation 
stating that he intended " no hurt to the King, or 
hurt of any of his subjects, English or Scotch ;" 
but that his only object was the defence of Irish 
liberty. He added, that whatever hurt was done 
to anyone should be personally repaired. This 
proclamation was dated from "Dungannon, the 
23rd of October, 1641," and signed "Phelim 
O'Neill. ' 


The massacre of Island Magee took place altoiit 
this period ; and though the exact date is disputed, 
and the exact number of victims has been ques- 
tioned, it cannot be disproved that the English 
and Scotch settlers at Carrickfergus sallied forth 
at night, and murdered a number of defenceless 
men, women, and children. That there was no 
regular or indiscriminate massacre of Protestants 
by the Catholics at this period, appears to be 
proved beyond question by the fact, that no 
mention of such an outrage was made in any of 
the letters of the Lords Justices to the Privy 
Council. It is probable, however, that the Catholics 
did rise up in diflferent places to attack those by 
whom they had been so severely and cruelly 
oppressed; and although there was no concerted 
plan of massacre, many victims, who may have 
been personally innocent, paid the penalty of the 
guilty. In such evidence as is still on record 
ghost stories predominate ; and even the Puritans 
seem to have believed the wildest tales of the 
apparition of Protestants, who demanded the im- 
molation of the Catholics who had murdered them. 



English Adventurers speculate on Irish Disaffection — 
Coote's Cruelties— Meeting of Irish Xoblemen and Gen- 
tlemen—Discontent of the People — The Catholic Priests 
try to save Protestants from tlieir Fury— A National 
Synod to deliberate on the State of Irish Affairs — The 
General Assembly is convened at Kilkenny— A Mint is 
established— A Printing Press set up — Relations are en- 
tered into with Foreign States, and a method of Govern- 
ment is organized — Differences of opinion between the 
Old Irish and Anglo-Irish — A Year's Treaty is made — 
Arrival of Rinuccinni — He lands at Kenmare — His ac- 
count of the Irish People— His Reception at Kilkenny— 
His Opinion of the State of Affairs — Divisions of the Con- 
federates — Ormonde's Intrigues— The Battle of Benburb 
— Divisions and Discord in Camp and Senate — A Treaty 
signed and published by the Representatives of the Eng- 
lish Eling — Rinuccinni returns to Italy. 

NEILL now took the title of "Lord- 
Mi General of the Catholic army in Ulster." 
•^^^ A proclamation was issued by the Irish 
Government, declaring he had received no autho- 
rity from the King ; and the ruling powers were 
often heard to say, " that the more were in rebel- 
lion, the more lands should be forfeited to them." 
A company of adventurers were already formed in 
London on speculation, and a rich harvest was 
anticipated. Several engagements took place, in 
which the insurgents were on the whole successful. 
It was now confidently stated that a general mas- 


sacre of the Catholics was intended ; and, indeed 
the conduct, of those engaged in putting down the 
rising was very suggestive of such a purpose. In 
Wicklow Sir Charles Coote put many innocent 
persons to the sword, without distinction of age or 
sex j and on one occasion, when he met a soldier 
carrying an infant on the point of his pike, he was 
charged with saying that " he liked such frolics." 

Before taking an open step, even in self-defence, 
the Irish noblemen and gentlemen sent another 
address to the King ; but their unfortunate mes- 
senger, Sir John Read, was captured, and cruelly 
racked by the party in power — their main object 
being to obtain something from his confessions 
which should imphcate the King and Queen. 
Patrick Barnwell, an aged man, was also racked for 
a similar purpose. The Lord's Justices now endea- 
voured to get several gentlemen into their posses- 
sion, on pretence of holding a conference. Their 
design was suspected, and the intended victims 
escaped ; but they wrote a courteous letter, stating 
the ground of their refusal. A meeting of the 
principal Irish noblemen and gentlemen was now 
held on the Hill of Crofty, in Meath. 

After they had been a few hours on the ground, 
the leaders of the insurgent party came up, and 
were accosted by Lord Gormanstown, who inquired 
why they came armed into the Pale. O'More 
replied that they had *' taken up arms for the 
freedom ^nd liberty of their consciences, the 


maintenance of his Majesty's prerogative, in which 
they understood he was abridged, and the making 
the subjects of this kingdom as free as those of 
England." Lord Gormanstown answered: " Seeing 
these be your true ends, we will likewise join wdth 
you therein." 

On the 1st of January, 1642, Charles issued a 
proclamation against the Irish rebels, and wished 
to take the command against them in person ; but 
his parliament was his master, and they were glad 
enough of the excuses afforded by the troubles in 
Ireland to increase the army, and to obtain a more 
direct personal control over its movements. They 
voted away Irish estates, and uttered loud threats 
of exterminating Popery ; but they had a more 
important and interesting game in hand at home, 
which occupied their attention, and made them 
comparatively indifferent to Irish affairs. 

Sir Phelim O'Neill was not succeeding in the 
north. He had been obliged to raise the siege of 
Drogheda, and the English had obtained possession 
of Dundalk. £1,000 was offered for his head, and 
£600 for the heads of some of his associates. 

A synod met at Kilkenny, on the 10th of May, 
1642. It was attended by the Archbishops of 
Armagh, Cashel, and Tuam, and the Bishops of 
Ossory, Elphin, Waterford, and Lismore, Kildare, 
Clonfert, and Down and Connor. Proctors at- 
tended for the Archbishop of Dublin, and for the 
Bishops of Limerick, Emly, and Killaloe. There 


were present, also, sixteen other dignitaries and 
heads of religious orders. They issued a mani- 
festo explaining their conduct ; and, forming a 
Provisional Government, concluded their labours, 
after three days spent in careful deliberation. 

Owen Eoe O'Neill and Colonel Preston arrived 
in Ireland in July, 1642, accompanied by a 
hundred officers, and well supplied with arms and 
ammunition. Sir Phelim O'Neill went at once to 
meet O'Neill, and resigned the command of the 
army; and all promised fairly for the national 
cause. The Scots, who had kept up a war of their 
own for some time against both the King and the 
Catholics, were wasting Down and Antrim ; and 
O'Neill was likely to need all his military skill and 
all his political -wdsdom in the position in which he 
was placed. 

Preston had landed in Wexford, and brought a 
8till larger force ; while all the brave expatriated 
Irishmen in foreign service, hastened home the 
moment there appeared a hope that they could 
strike a blow with some effect for the freedom of 
their native land. 

The General Assembly projected by the national 
synod in Kilkenny, held its first meeting on 
October 14, 1642 — eleven spiritual and fourteen 
temporal peers, with 226 commoners, representing 
the Catholic population of Ireland. It was, in 
truth, a proud and glorious day for the nation. 
For once, at least, she could speak through 


channels chosen by her own free will; and for 
once there dawned a hope of legislative freedom of 
action for the long-enslaved people. The old 
house is still shown where that assembly deli- 
berated — a parliament all but in name. The 
table then used, and the chair occupied by the 
Speaker, are still preserved as sad mementos of 
freedom's blighted cause. The house used was in 
the market-place. The peers and commoners sat 
together ; but a private room was allotted for the 
lords to consult in. Dr. Patrick Darcy, an eminent 
lawyer, represented the Chancellor and the judges. 
Mr. Nicholas Plunket was chosen as speaker ; the 
Rev. Thomas O'Quirke, a learned Dominican friar, 
was appointed Chaplain to both houses. 

The Assembly at once declared that they met as 
a provisional government, and not as a parliament. 
The preliminary arrangements occupied them until 
the 1st of November. From the 1st until the 
4th the committee were engaged in drawing up a 
form for the Confederate Government ; on the 4th 
it was sanctioned by the two houses. Magna 
Charta, and the common and statute law of 
England, in all points not contrary to the Catholic 
religion, or inconsistent with the liberty of Ireland, 
were the basis of the new government. The ad- 
ministrative authority was vested in a Supreme 
Council, which was then chosen, and of which Lord 
Mountgarret was elected President. 

The Assembly broke up on the 9 th of January, 


1643, after sending a remonstrance to the King, 
declaring their loyalty and explaining their griev- 
ances. The complicated state of English politics 
proved the ruin of this noble undertaking, so auspi- 
ciously commenced. Charles was anxious to make- 
terms with men whom he knew would probably 
be the only subjects on whose loyalty he could 
thoroughly depend. His enemies — and the most 
cursory glance at English history during this 
period proves how many and how powerful they 
were — desired to keep open the rupture, and, if 
possible, to bring it down from the high stand of 
dignified remonstrance to the more perilous and 
lower position of a general and ill-organized insur- 
rection. The Lords Justices Borlase and Parsons 
were on the look-out for plunder ; but Charles had 
as yet sufficient power to form a commission of his 
own, and he sent the Marquis of Ormonde and some 
other noblemen to treat with the Confederates. 
Ormonde was a cold, calculating, and, if we must 
judge him by his acts, a cruel man ; for, to give 
only one specimen of his dealings, immediately 
after his appointment he butchered the brave gar- 
rison of Timolin, who had surrendered on promise 
of quarter. 

The Confederates were even then divided into 
two parties. That section of their body princi- 
pally belonging to the old English settlers, wore 
willing to have peace on almost any terms ; the 
ancient Irish had their memories burthened with 


SO many centuries of wrong, that they demanded 
something like certainty of redress before they 
would yield. Ormonde was well aware of the men 
with whom, and the opinions with which, he 
had to deal, and he acted accordingly. In the 
various engagements which occurred, the Irish 
were, on the whole, successful. They had gained 
an important victory near Fermoy, principally 
through the headlong valour of a troop of mere 
boys, who dashed down with wild impetuosity on the 
Endish, and showed what metal there was still left 
in the country. Envoys were arriving from foreign 
courts, and Urban VIII. had sent Father Scarampi 
with indulgences and a purse of 30,000 dollars, 
collected by Father Wadding. It was, therefore, 
most important that the movement should be 
checked in some way ; and, as it could not be sup- 
pressed by force, it was suppressed by diplomac}^ 

On the 15th of September, 1643, a cessation of 
arms for one year was agreed upon ; and the tide 
which had set in so gloriously for Irish indepen- 
dence, rolled back its sobbing waves slowly and 
sadly towards the EngUsh coast, and never returned 
again with the same hopeful freedom and over- 
powering strength. 

In August, 1644, the cession was again pro- 
foged by the General Assembly until December, 
and subsequently for a longer period. Thus, pre- 
cious time, and the fresh energies and interests 
of the Confederates were hopelessly lost. 


In the meantime Belling, the Secretary of the 
Supreme Council, was sent to Eome, and presented 
to Innocent X., by father Wadding, as the envoy 
of the Confederate Catholics, in February, 1G45. 
On hearing his report, the Pope sent John Bab- 
tist Einucinni, Archbishop of Fermo, to Ireland as 
Nuncio-Extraordinary, This prelate set out im- 
mediately ; and, after some detention at St. Ger- 
mains, for the purpose of conferring with the Eng- 
lish Queen, who had taken refuge there, he 
purchased the frigate of San Fietro at Kochelle, 
stored it with arms and ammunition ; and, after 
some escapes from the parliamentary cruisers, 
landed safely in Kenmare Bay, on the 21st of 
October, 1645. 

The General Assembly met in Kilkenny, in 
January, 1646, and demanded the release of Gla- 
morgan. He was bailed out ; but the King disowned 
the commission, as Einuccinni had expected, and 
proved himself therby equally a traitor to his Ca- 
tholic and Protestant subjects. Ormonde took care 
to foment the division between the Confederate 
party, and succeeded so well that a middle party 
was formed, who signed a treaty consisting of 
thirty articles. This document only provided for 
the religious part of the question, that Eoman 
Catholics should not be bound to take the oath of 
supremacy. An act of oblivion was passed, and 
the Catholics were to continue to hold their pos- 
sessions until a settlement could be made by Act 


of Parliament. Even in a political point of view, 
this treaty was a failure; and one should have 
thought that Irish chieftains and Anglo-Irish 
nobles had known enough of Acts of Parliament 
to have prevented them from confiding their hopes 
to such an uncertain future. 

The division of the command in the Confederate 
army had been productive of most disastrous con- 
sequences. The rivalry between O'Neill, Preston, 
and Owen Hoe, increased the complication ; but 
the Nuncio managed to reconcile the two O'Neill's, 
and active preparations were made by Owen Eoe 
for his famous nothern campaign. The Irish troops 
intended for Charles had remained in their own 
country ; the unfortunate monarch had committed 
his last fatal error by confiding himself to his 
Scotch subjects, who sold him to his own people 
for £400,000. Ormonde now refused to publish 
the treaty which had been just concluded, or even 
to enforce its observance by Monroe, although the 
Confederates had given him £3,000 to get up an 
expedition for that purpose. 

In the beginning of June, A.D. 1646, Owen Eoe 
O'Neill marched against Monroe, with 5,000 foot 
and 500 horse. Monroe received notice of his ap- 
proach ; and although his force was far superior to 
O'Neill's, he sent for reinforcements of cavalry from 
his brother. Colonel George Monroe, who w^as 
stationed at Coleraine. But the Irish forces ad- 
advanced more quickly than he expected j and on 


the 4tli of June they had crossed the Blackwater, 
and encamped at Benburb. The approach was 
anticipated; and, on the 5th of June, 1646, the 
most magnificent victory ever recorded in the 
annals of Irish history was won. The Irish army 
prepared for the great day with solemn rehgious 
observances. The whole army approached the 
sacraments of penance and holy communion, and 
thus were prepared alike for death or victory. 
O'Neill's skill as a military tactician is beyond all 
praise. For four long hours he engaged the atten- 
tion of the enemy, until the glare of the burning 
summer sun had passed away, and until he had 
intercepted the reinforcements which Monroe ex- 
pected. At last the decisive moment had arrived. 
Monroe thought he saw his brother's contingent 
in the distance; O'Neill knew that they were 
some of his own men who had beaten that very 
contingent. "When the Scotch General was un- 
deceived, he resolved to retire. O'Neill saw his 
advantage, and gave the command to charge. 
With one wild cry of vengeance for desecrated 
altars and desolated homes, the Irish soldiers 
dashed to the charge, and Monroe's ranks were 
broken, and his men driven to flight. Even 
the General himself fled so precipitately, that he 
left his hat, sword, and cloak after him, and never 
halted until he reached Lisbui-n. Lord Montgomery 
was taken prisoner, and 3,000 of the Scotch were 
left on the field. Of the Irish, only seventy men 


were killed, and 200 wounded. It was a great 
victory; and it was something more — it was a 
glorious victory ; although Ireland remained, both 
as to political and religious freedom, much as it 
had been before. 

Rinuccinni now took a high hand. He entered 
Kilkenny in state, on the 18th of September, and 
committed the members of the Supreme Council 
as prisoners to the Castle, except Darcy and 
Plunket. A new Council was appointed, or self- 
appointed, on the 20th, of which the Nuncio was 
chosen President. The imprisonment of the old 
Council was undoubtedly a harsh and unwise 
proceeding, which can scarcely be justified; but 
the times were such that prompt action was de- 
manded, and the result alone, which could not be 
foreseen, could justify or denounce its conse- 

The Generals were again at variance ; and, 
although the new Council had decided on attack- 
ing Dublin, their plans could not be carried out. 
Preston was unquestionably playing fast and loose; 
and when the Confederate troops did march towards 
Dublin, his duplicity ruined the cause which might 
even then have been gained. A disgraceful retreat 
was the result. An Assembly was again convened 
at Kilkenny ; the old Council was released ; the 
Generals promised to forget their animosities ; but 
three weeks had been lost in angry discussion ; and 
although the Confederates bound themselves by 

inchiquin's cruelties. 283 

oath not to lay down their arms until their de- 
mands were granted, their position was weakened 
to a degree which the selfishness of the contending 
parties made them quite incapable of estimating. 

The fact was, the Puritan faction in England 
was every day gaining an increase of power ; while 
every hour that the Confederate Catholics wasted 
in discussion or division was weakening their 
moral strength. 

In the meantime, Inchiquin was distinguishing 
himself by his cruel victories in the south of Ireland. 
The massacre of Cashel followed. When the w^alls 
were battered down, the hapless garrison sur- 
rendered without resistance, and were butchered 
without mercy. The people fled to the cathedral, 
hoping there, at least, to escape ; but the savage 
general poured volleys of musket-balls through the 
doors and windows, and his soldiers, rushing in 
afterwards, piked those who were not yet dead. 
Twenty priests were dragged out as objects of 
special vengeance ; and the total number of those 
who were thus massacred amounted to 3,000. 

Inchiquin had been treating with the Supreme 
Council for a truce ; but Einuccinni, who detested 
his duplicity, could never be induced to listen to 
his proposals. On the 27th of May, the Nuncio 
promulgated a sentence of excommunication against 
all cities and villages where it should be received, 
and, at the same time, he withdrew to the camp oi 
Owen Roe O'Neill, against whom Inchiquin and 


Preston were prepared to march. It was a last 
and desperate resource, and, as might be expected, 
it failed signally of its intended effects. Various 
attempts to obtain a settlement of the question at 
issue, by force of arms, were made by the con- 
tending parties ; but O'Neill baffled his enemies, 
and the Nuncio withdrew to Galway. 

Ormonde arrived in Ireland soon after, and was 
received at Cork, on the 27th of September, 1G48, 
by Inchiquin. He then proceeded to Kilkenny, 
■where he was received in great state by the Con- 
federates. On the 1 7th of January, 1 649, he signed 
a treaty of peace, which concluded the seven years' 
war. This treaty afiorded the most ample indul- 
gences to the Catholics, and guaranteed fairly that 
civil and rehgious liberty for which alone they had 
contended; but the ink upon the deed was scarcely 
dry, ere the execution of Charles I., on the 30th 
of January, washed out its enactments in royal 
blood; and civil war, with more than ordinary 
complications, was added to the many miseries of 
our unfortunate country. 

Einuccinni embarked in the San Pietro once more, 
and returned to Italy, February 23, 1649. Had 
his counsels been followed, the result might have 
justified him, even in his severest measui-es ; as it 
is, we read only failure in his career ; but it should 
be remembered, that there are circumstances under 
which failure is more noble than success. 



Cromwell arrives in Ireland— His cruel Massacres — His 
Treachery at Drogheda— The Siege of Limerick— The 
Ii-ish to Connaught— The Irish sold as Slaves— The 
Wolf, the Priest, and the Tory— Origin and Causes of 
Agrarian Outrages — Accession of Charles II. — His 
Injustice— Execution of the Most Rev, D. Plunket— The 
Battle of the Boyne. 

y|,jROMWELL'S command in Ireland extends 
i?M from the middle of August, 1649, to the 
end of May, 1650, about nine months in 
all, and is remarkable for the number of sieges of 
■vvalled towns crowded into that brief period. 

Of the spirit in which these several sieges were 
conducted, it is impossible to speak without a 
shudder. It was, in truth, a spirit of hatred and 
fanaticism, altogether beyond the control of the 
revolutionary leader. At Drogheda, the work of 
slaughter occupied five entire days. Of the brave 
garrison of 3,000 men, not thirty were spared, and 
these '' were in hands for the Barbadoes;" old men, 
women, children, and priests, were unsparingly put 
to the sword. AVexford was basely betrayed by 
Captain James Stafford, commander of the castle, 
whose midnight interview with Cromwell, at a 
private house without the walls, tradition still re- 
counts with horror and detestation. This port was 
particularly obnoxious to the parliament, as, from 


its advantageous position on the Bristol Channel, 
its cruisers greatly annoyed and embarrassed their 

The unexpected death of O'lSTeill favoured still 
farther Cromwell's southern movements. The gal- 
lant, but impetuous Bishop of Clogher, Heber 
M'Mahon, was the only northern leader who could 
command confidence enough to keep CNeill's 
force together, and on him, therefore, the command 
devolved. OTerrall, one of Owen's favourite 
ofl&cers, was despatched to Waterford, and mainly 
contributed to Cromwell's repulse before that city ; 
Hugh O'Neill covered himself with glory at Clon- 
mel and Limerick ; Daniel O'Neill, another nephew 
of Owen, remained attached to Ormond, and ac- 
companied him to France ; but within six months 
from the loss of their Fabian chief, who knew as 
well when to strike as to delay, the brave Bishop 
of Clogher sacrificed the remnant of "the Catholic 
Army" at the pass of Scariffhollis, in Donegal, 
and, two days after, his own liie by a martyr's 
death, at Oraagh. At the date of Cromwell's de- 
parture — when Ireton took command of the 
southern ariny — there remained to the Confe- 
derates only some remote glens and highlands of 
the North and West, the cities of Limerick and 
Galway, with the county of Clare, and some de- 
tached districts of the province of Connaught. 

The last act of Cromwell's proper campaign was 
the seige of Clonmel, where he met the stoutest 


resistance he had anywhere encountered. The 
Puritans, after effecting a breach, made an attempt 
to enter, chanting one of their scriptural battle- 
songs. They were, by their own account, " obliged 
to give back a while," and finally night settled 
down upon the scene. The following day, finding 
the place no longer tenable, the garrison silently 
withdrew to Waterford, and subsequently to Lime- 
rick. The inhabitants demanded a parley, which 
was granted ; and Cromwell takes credit, and de- 
serves it, when we consider the men he had to 
humour, for having kept conditions with them. 

From before Clonmel he returned at once to Eng- 
land, where he was received with royal honours. 

Henry Ireton, son-in-law of Cromwell, by a 
marriage contracted about two years before, was 
now in command, and in August following Crom- 
well's departure, Waterford and Duncannon were 
taken by him ; and there only remained to the 
Confederates the fortresses of Sligo, Athlone, Lime- 
rick, and Galway, with the country included 
within the irregular quadrangle they describe. 

Political events of great interest happened 
during the two short years of Ire ton's command. 
The Assembly, which met at Jamestown in August, 
and again at Loughrea in November, 1650, made 
the retirement of Ormond from the Government 
a condition of all future efforts in the royal 
cause, and that nobleman, deeply wounded by this 
condition, had finally sailed from Galway. 


The decisive battle of Worcester, fought on the 
3rd of September, 1651, drove Charles II. into that 
nine years' exile, from which he only returned on 
the death of Cromwell. It may be considered the 
last military event of importance in the English 
civil war. In Ireland the contest was destined to 
drag out another campaign, before the walls of 
the two gallant cities, Galway and Limerick. 

Ireton now prepared to lay siege to the latter. 
To effect this, Coote made a feint of attacking 
Sligo ; and when he had drawn off Clanrickarde's 
forces to oppose him, marched back hastily, and 
took Athlone. By securing this fortress he opened 
a road into Connaught ; and Ireton, at the same 
time, forced the passage of the river at O'Briens- 
bridge, and thus was enabled to invest Limerick. 
Muskerry marched to its relief ; but he was inter- 
cepted by Lord Broghill, and his men were routed 
with great slaughter. The castle at the salmon 
weir was first attacked ; and the men who defended 
it were butchered in cold blood, although they had 
surrendered on a promise of quarter. At length 
treachery accomplished what valour might have 
prevented. The plague was raging in the city, and 
many tried to escape ; but were either beaten back 
into the town, or killed on the spot by Ireton's 
troopers. The corporation and magistrates were 
in favour of a capitulation ; but the gallant 
Governor, Hugh O'Neill, opposed it earnestly. 
Colonel Fennell, who had already betrayed the 


pass at Killaloe, completed his perfidy by seizing 
St. John's Gate and Tower, and admitting Ireton's 
men by night. On the following day the invader 
was able to dictate his own terms. 2,500 soldiers 
laid down their arms in St. Mary's Church, and 
marched out of the city, many dropping dead on 
their road of the fearful pestilence. Twenty-four 
persons were exempted from quarter. Amongst 
the number were a Dominican prelate, Dr. Terence 
O'Brien, Bishop of Emly, and a Franciscan, Father 
Wolfe. Ireton had special vengeance for the 
former, who had long encouraged the people to 
fight for their country and their faith, and had 
refused a large bribe which the Cromwellian 
General had offered him if he would leave the city. 
The ecclesiastics were soon condemned; but ere the 
bishop was dragged to the gibbet, he turned to the 
dark and cruel man who had sacrificed so many 
lives, and poured such torrents of blood over the 
land, summoning him, in stern and prophetic tones, 
to answer at God's judgment-seat for the evils he 
had done. The bishop and his companion were 
martyred on the Eve of All Saints, October 31st, 
1651. On the 26th of November Ireton was a 
corpse. He caught the plague eight days after he 
had been summoned to the tribunal of eternal 
justice; and he died ra'sdng wildly of the men 
whom he had murdered, and accusing every one 
but himself of the crime he had committed. 

Several of the leading gentry of Limerick were 



also executed; and the traitor Fennell met the 
reward of his treachery, and was hanged. Hugh 
O'Neill was saved through the remonstrances of 
Bome of the parliamentary officers, who had the spirit 
to appreciate his valour and llis honourable dealing. 
The Long Parhament declared, in its session of 
1652, that the rebellion in Ireland "was subdued 
and ended," and proceeded to legislate for that 
kingdom as a conquered country. On the 12th of 
August they passed their Act of Settlement, the 
authorship of which was attributed to Lord Orrery, 
in this respect the worthy son of the first Earl of 
Cork. Under this Act, there were four chief 
descriptions of persons whose status was thus 
settled: 1st. All ecclesiastics and royalist pro- 
prietors were exempted from pardon of life or 
estate. 2nd. All royalist commissioned officers were 
condemned to banishment, and the forfeit of two- 
thirds of their property, one-third being retained 
for the support of their wives and children. 
3rd. Those who had not been in arms, but who 
could be shown, by a parliamentary commission, 
to have manifested " a constant, good affection," to 
the war, were to forfeit one-third of their estates, 
and receive " an equivalent" for the remaining two- 
thirds west of the Shannon. 4th. All husband- 
men and others of the inferior sort, " not possessed 
of lands or goods exceeding the value of ^10," 
were to have a free pardon, on condition also of 
transporting themselves across the Shannon. 


This is the official proclamation which was issued 
on the subject : " The Parliament of the Common- 
wealth of England, having, by an Act lately passed 
(entitled an Act for the Settling of Ireland), de- 
clared that it is not their intention to extirpate this 
whole nation .... it is ordered that the Go- 
vernor and Commissioners of Ee venue .... do 
cause the said Act of Parliament, with this present 
declaration, to be published and proclaimed in their 
respective precincts, by beat of drum and sound of 
trumpet, on some market-day, within ten days 
after the same shall come unto them within their 
respective precincts." 

Connaught was selected as the place of banish- 
ment for two reasons : first, because it was the 
most wasted province of Ireland ; and, secondly, 
because it could be, and in fact was, most easily 
converted into a national prison, by erecting a 
cordon militaire across the country, from sea to sea. 
To make the imprisonment more complete, a belt 
four miles wide, commencing one mile to the west 
of Sligo, and thence running along the coast and 
the Shannon, was to be given to the soldiery to 
plant. Thus, any Irishman who attempted to 
escape, would be sure of instant capture and exe- 

Children under age, of both sexes, were captured 
by thousands, and sold as slaves to the tobacco- 
planters of Virginia and the West Indies. Secre- 
tary Thurloe informs Henry CromweU that the 


'^ Committee of the Council have authorized 1,000 
girls and as many youths to be taken up for that 
purpose." Sir William Petty mentions 6,000 Irish 
boys and girls shipped to the West Indies. Some 
contemporary accounts make the total number of 
children and adults so transported 100,000 souls. 
To this decimation, we may add 34,000 men of 
fighting age, who had permission to enter the 
armies of foreign powers, at peace with the Com- 

Charles II. commenced his reign in 1660, under 
the most favourable auspices. In England public 
affairs were easily settled. Those who had been 
expelled from their estates by the Cromwellian 
faction, were driven out by the old proprietors ; 
but in Ireland the case was very different. Even 
the faithful loyalists, who had sacrificed everything 
for the King, and had so freely assisted his ne- 
cessities out of their poverty, were now treated 
with contempt, and their claims silenced by pro- 
clamation; while the men who had been most 
opposed to the royal interests, and most cruel in 
their oppression of the natives, were rewarded and 
admitted into favour. Coote and Broghill were of 
this class. Each tried to lessen the other in the 
opinion of their royal master as they ran the race 
for favour, and each boasted of services never 
accomplished, and of loyalty which never existed. 
The two enemies of each other and of the nation 
were now appointed Lords Justices of Ireland. 


In 1679, the example of successful villany in 
England, of Gates, pensioned and all-powerful, 
brought an illustrious victim to the scaffold. Thia 
was Oliver Plunkett, a scion of the noble family 
of Fingal, who had been Archbishop of Armagh 
since the death of Dr. O'Reilly, in exile, in 1699. 

Such had been the prudence and circumspection 
of Dr. Plunkett, during his perilous adminis- 
tration, that the agents of Lord Shaftesbury, 
sent over to concoct evidence for the occasion, 
were afraid to bring him to trial in the vicinage 
of his arrest, or in his own country. Accord- 
ingly, they caused him to be removed from Dublin 
to London, contrary to the laws and customs of both 

Dr. Plunkett, after ten months' confinement 
without trial in Ireland, was removed, 1680, and 
arraigned at London, on the 8th of June, 1G81, 
without having had permission to communicate with 
his friends or to send for witnesses. The prosecution 
was conducted by Maynard and Jeffries, in viola- 
tion of every form of law, and every consideration 
of justice. A " crown agent," whose name is given 
as Gorman, was introduced by " a stranger," in 
court, and volunteered testimony in his favour. 
The earl of Essex interceded with the King on hia 
behalf, but Charles answered, almost in the words 
of Pilate — " I cannot pardon him, because I dare 
not. His blood be upon your conscience ; you 
could have saved him if you pleased." The Jury, 


after a quarter of an hour's deliberation, brought 
in their verdict of guilty, and the brutal chief- 
justice condemned him to be hung, emboweled, 
and quartered, on the 1st day of July, 1681. The 
venerable martyr bowed his head to the bench, 
and exclaimed : Deo Ch'aiias 1 Eight years from 
the very day of his execution, on the banks of 
that river beside which he had been seized and 
dragged from his retreat, the last of the Stuart 
Kings was stricken from his throne, and his dynasty 
stricken from history ! Does not the blood of the 
innocent cry to Heaven for vengeance 1 

The charges against Dr. Plunkett were, that he 
maintained treasonable correspondence with France 
and Rome, and the Irish on the continent ; that he 
had organized an insurrection in Louth, Monaghan, 
Cavan, and Armagh ; that he made preparations 
for the landing of a French force at Carlingford ; 
and that he had held several meetings to raise 
men and money for these purposes. 

From the accession of King James till his final 
flight from Ireland, in July, 1690, there elapsed an 
interval of five years and five months ; a period 
fraught with consequences of the highest interest 
to this history. The new king was, on his acces- 
sion, in his fifty-second year ; he had served as 
Duke of York with credit, both by land and sea, was 
an avowed Catholic, and married to a Catholic prin- 
cess, the beautiful and unfortunate Mary of Modena. 

Within a month from the proclamation of the 


King, Ormond quitted the government for the 
last time, leaving Primate Boyle and Lord Granard 
as Justices. In January, 1686, Lord Clarendon, 
son of the historian, assumed the government, in 
which he continued till the 16th of March, 1687. 
The day following the national anniversary. 
Colonel Eichard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnell, a 
Catholic, and the former agent for the Catholics, 
was ins tailed as Lord Deputy. 

On the 5th of November, the anniversary of the 
gunpowder plot, William of Orange landed at 
Torbay ; on the 25th of December, James, deserted 
by his nobles, his army, and even his own unnatural 
children, arrived, a fugitive and a suppliant at the 
Court of France. 

James at last determined to make an effort to 
regain his throne ; and by this act rendered the 
attempt of his son-in-law simply a rebellion. Had 
the King declined the contest, had he violated the 
rules of government so grossly as no longer to 
merit the confidence of his people, or had there 
been no lawful heir to the throne, William's 
attempt might have been legitimate ; under the 
circumstances, it was simply a successful rebellion. 
The King landed at Kinsale, on the 12th of March, 
1689, attended by some Irish troops and French 
officers. He met Tyrconnell in Cork, created him 
a duke, and then proceeded to Bandon, where he 
received the submission of the people. 

The great event of James' visit to Ireland was 


the battle of tlie Boyne, •which took place June 
30, 1689. The Jacobite army was posted on the 
declivity of the Hill of Dunore. The centre 
was at the small hamlet of Oldbridge. Entrench- 
ments were hastily thrown up to deiend the fords, 
and James took up his position at a ruined church 
on the top of the Hill of Dunore. The Williamite 
army approached from the north, their brave leader 
directing every movement, and inspiring his men 
with courage and confidence. He obtained a 
favourable position, and was completely screened 
from view until he appeared on the brow of the 
hill, where his forces debouched slowly and steadily 
into the ravines below. After planting his batteries 
on the heights, he kept up an incessant fire on 
the Irish lines during the afternoon of the 30th. 
But James' ofl^cers were on the alert, even if 
their King was indiff"erent. William was recog- 
nized as he approached near their lines to recon- 
noitre. Guns were brought up to bear on him 
quietly and stealthily ; "six shots were fired at him, 
one whereof fell and struck off the top of the Duke 
of Wurtemberg's pistol and the whiskers of his 
horse ; another tore the King's coat on his shoulder." 
William, like a wise general as he was, took care 
that the news of his accident should not dispirit 
his men. He showed himself everywhere, rode 
through the camp, was as agreeable as it was in 
his nature to be ; and thus made capital of what 
might have been a cause of disaster. In the mean- 


time James did all that was possible to secure a 
defeat. At one moment he decided to retreat, at 
the next he would risk a battle ; then he sent off 
his baggage and six of his field-pieces to Dublin, 
for his own special proctection ; and while thus so 
remarkably careful of himself, he could not be per- 
suaded to allow the most necessary precaution to 
be taken for the safety of his army. Hence the 
real marvel to posterity is, not that the battle of 
the Boyne should have been lost by the Irish, but 
that they should ever have attempted to fight at 
all. Perhaps nothing but that inherent loyalty of 
the Irish, which neither treachery nor pusillanimity 
could destroy, and that vivid remembrance of the 
cruel wrongs always inflicted by Protestants when 
in power, prevented them from rushing over en 
masse to William's side of the Boyne. Perhaps, 
in the history of nations, there never was so brave 
a resistance made for love of royal right and re- 
ligious freedom, as that of the Irish officers and 
men who fought on the Jacobite side that fatal 

The first attack of William's men was made at 
Slane. This was precisely what the Jacobite officers 
had anticipated, and what James had obstinately 
refused to see. When it was too late, he allowed 
Lauzan to defend the ford, but even Sir Mai O'NeiU's 
galantry was unavailing. The enemy had the ad- 
vance, and Portland's artillery and infantry crossed 
at Slane. William now felt certain of victory, if, 
indeed, he had ever doubted it. It was low water 


at ten o'clock ; the fords at Oldbridge were pass- 
able; a tremendous battery was opened on the 
Irish lines ; thej^ had not a single gun to reply, and 
yet they waited steadily for the attack. The Dutch 
Blue Guards dashed into the stream ten a-breast, 
commanded by the Count de Solmes ; the London- 
derry and Enniskillen Dragoons followed, supported 
by the French Huguenots. The English infantry 
came next, under the command of Sir John Hanmer 
and the Count Nassau. WilHam crossed at the 
fifth ford, where the water was deepest, with the 
cavalry of his left wing. It was a grand and ter- 
rible sight. The men in the water fought for 
William and Protestantism ; the men on land 
fought for their King and their faith. The men 
were equally gallant. Of the leaders I shall say 
nothing, least I should be tempted to say too much. 
James had followed Lauzan's forces towards Slane. 
Tryconnell's valour could not save the day for Ire- 
land against fearful odds. Sarsfield's horse had 
accompanied the King. The Huguenots were so 
warmly received by the Irish at the fords that they 
recoiled, and their commander, Caillemont, was 
mortally wounded. Schomberg forgot his age, 
and the afront he had received from William in 
the morning ; and the man of eighty-two dashed 
into the river with the impetuosity of eighteen. 
He was killed immediately, and so was Dr. Walker, 
who had headed the Ulster Protestants. AVilliam 
may have regretted the brave old General, but he 
certainly did not regret the Protestant divine. 


He had no fancy for churchmen meddling in secular 
affairs, and a rough " What brought him there V 
was all the reply vouchsafed to the news of his de- 
mise. The tide now began to flow, and the battle 
raged with increased fury. The valour displayed 
by the Irish was a marvel even to their enemies. 
Hamilton was wounded and taken prisoner — 
William headed the Enniskilleners, who were put 
to flight soon after- by the Irish Horse, at Flatten, 
and were only rallied again by himself. When the 
enemy had crossed the ford at Oldbridge, James 
ordered Lauzan to march in a parallel with Douglas 
and young Schomberg to Duleek. Tryconnell fol- 
lowed. The French infantry covered the retreat 
in admirable order, with the Irish cavalry. AVhen 
the defile of Duleek had been passed, the royalist 
forces again presented a front to the enemy 
William's horse halted. The retreat was again 
resumed ; and at the deep defile of Naul the last 
stand was made. The shades of a summer evening 
closed over the belligerent camps. The Williamites 
returned to Duleek ; and eternal shadows clouded 
over the destinies of the unfortunate Stuarts — a 
race admired more from sympathy with their 
miseries, than from admiration of their virtues. 

Thus ended the famous battle of the Boyne. 
England gained thereby a new governor and a 
national debt ; Ireland, fresh oppression, and an 
intensification of religious and political animosity, 
unparalleled in the history of nations. 



Plight of King James — William of Orange at the Siege of 
Limerick — Violation of the Treaty of Limerick— The 
Penal Laws— The Whiteboys — Grattau demands Irish 

I^S soon as the battle was over James took to 
flight. He reached Dublin late in the 
evening, and had the bad taste and cow- 
ardice to insult Lady Tj^rconnell by telling her how 
fleetly her countrymen had run from the field of 
battle. With truth and spirit she very properly 
retorted that his Majesty had set them the exam- 
ple. James embarked for France at Kinsale, and 
left the command in Ireland to Tyrconnell. Wil- 
liam marched to Dublin and was received there by 
the Protestants in great triumph. The siege of 
Limerick is the next national event of great im- 
portance. The French officers determined to leave 
the country, and Lauzan, their commander, ordered 
all his troops off to Galway. But the brave de- 
fenders of Limerick were not discouraged, and 
refused to yield. 

William laid siege to the gallant city on the 1 7th 
of August, 169L William sent for more artiUery 


to Waterford ; and it was found that two of the 
guns which Sarsfield had attempted to destroy 
were still available. 

The trenches were opened on the 1 7th of August. 
On the 20th the garrison made a vigorous sortie, 
and retarded the enemy's progress; but on the 
24th the batteries were completed, and a murder- 
ous fire of red-hot shot and shells was poured into 
the devoted city. The trenches were carried 
within a few feet of the palisades, on the 27th ; 
and a breach having been made in the wall near 
St. John's Gate, William ordered the assault to 
commence. The storming party were supported 
by ten thousand men. For three hours a deadly 
struggle was maintained. The result seemed 
doubtful, so determined was the bravery evinced 
on each side. Boisseleau, the Governor, had not 
been unprepared, although he was taken by sur- 
prise, and had opened a murderous cross-fire on the 
assailants when first they attempted the storm. 
The conflict lasted fornearly three hours. The 
Brandenburg regiment had gained the Black Bat- 
tery, when the Irish sprung a mine, and men, fag- 
gots, and stones were blown up in a moment. A 
council of war was held ; William, whose temper was 
not the most amiable at any time, was unusually 
morose. He had lost 2,000 men between the killed 
and the wounded, and he had not taken the city, 
which a French General had pronounced attainable 
with " roasted aj)ples." On Sunday, the 31st of 


August, the seige was raised. William returned to 
England, where his presence was imperatively 
demanded. The military command was confided 
to the Count de Solmes, who was afterwards suc- 
ceeded by de Ginkell ; the civil government was 
entrusted to Lord Sidney, Sir Charles Porter, and 
Mr. Coningsby. 

The famous battle of Aughrim occurred imme- 
diately after the gallant defence and fall of Athlone. 
St. Ruth removed his troops to Ballinasloe, and 
subsequently to Aughrim. He chose his ground 
well, and was fully prepared to meet the William- 
ites, who came up on Sunday, July 11th, while the 
Irish army was hearing Mass. The most probable 
estimate of the Irish force appears to be 15,000 
horse and foot ; and of the English, 20,000. Gin- 
kell opened fire on the enemy as soon as his guns 
were planted. Some trifling skirmishes followed. 
A council of war was held, and the deliberation 
lasted until half-past four in the evening, at which 
time a general engagement was decided on. A 
cannonade had been kept up on both sides, in 
which the English had immensely the advantage, 
St. Ruth's excellently-chosen position being almost 
useless for want of sufficient artillery. At half-past 
six Ginkell ordered an advance on the Irish right 
centre, having previously ascertained that the bog 
was passable. The defenders, after discharging 
their fire, gradually drew the Williamites after them 
by an almost imperceptible retreat, until they had 


them face to face with their main line. Then the 
Irish cavalry charged with irresistible valour, and 
the English were thrown into total disorder. St. 
Ruth, proud of the success of his strategies and the 
valour of his men, exclaimed, " Le jour est a nous, 
mes enfans." But St. Ruth's weak point was his 
left wing, and this was at once perceived and taken 
advantage of by the Dutch General. Some of his 
infantry made good their passage across the morass, 
which St. Ruth had supposed impassable ; and the 
men, who commanded this position from a ruined 
castle, found that the balls with which they had 
been served did not suit theii' fire-arms, so that 
they were unable to defend the passage. St. Ruth 
at once perceived his error. He hastened to sup- 
port them with a brigade of horse ; but even as he 
exclaimed, " They are beaten ; let us beat them to 
the purpose," a cannon-ball carried off his head, 
and all was lost. Another death, which occurred 
almost immediately after, completed the misfortunes 
of the Irish. The infantry had been attended and 
encouraged by Dr. Aloysius Stafford, chaplain to 
the forces ; but when " death interrupted his glo- 
rious career," they were panic-struck ; and three 
hours after the death of the General and the priest, 
there was not a man of the Irish army left upon 
the field. But the real cause of the failure was 
the fatal misunderstanding which existed be- 
tween the leaders. Sarsfield, who was thorough^ 
able to have taken St. Ruth's position, and to 


have retrieved the fortunes of the day, had 
been placed in the rear by the jealousy of the 
latter, and kept in entire ignorance of the plan of 
battle. He was now obliged to withdraw without 
striking a single blow. The cavalry retreated 
along the highroad to Loughrea ; the infantry fled 
to a bog, where numbers were massacred, unarmed 
and in cold blood. 

The loss on both sides was immense, and can 
never be exactly estimated. Harris says that " had 
not St. Ruth been taken off, it would have been 
hard to say what the consequences of this day would 
have been." Many of the dead remained unburied, 
and their bones were left to bleach in the storms of 
winter and the sun of summer. There was one 
exception to the general neglect. An Irish officer, 
who had been slain, was followed by his faithful 
dog. The poor animal lay beside his master's body 
day and night; and though he fed upon other 
corpses with the rest of the dogs, he would not 
permit them to touch the treasured remains. He 
continued his watch until January, when he flew at 
a soldier, who, he feared, was about to remove the 
bones, which were all that remained to him of the 
being by whom he had been caressed and fed. 
The soldier, in his fright, unslung his piece and 
fired, and the faithful wolf-dog laid down and 
died by his charge. 

Ginkell laid siege to Galway a week after the 
battle of Aughrim. The inhabitants relied princi- 


pally upon the arrival of Balldearg O'Donnell for 
their defence ; but, as he did not appear in time, 
they capitulated on favourable terms, and the Dutch 
General marched to Limerick. 

Tyrconnell had died there on the Uth of August, 
and on the 25th de Ginkell invested the devoted 
city on three sides. An English fleet assailed it 
from the river. Eut the valour of the brave 
Limerick men was more than a match for all, and 
on the 3rd of October the famous Treaty of Limerick 
was signed by the English. Whether they ever 
intended to keep it or not is another question. 

The civil articles of Limerick were thirteen in 
number. Art. I. guaranteed to Cathohcs remain- 
ing in the kingdom, " such privileges in the exer- 
cise of their religion as are consistent with the law 
of Ireland, or as they enjoyed in the reign of King 
Charles IL ;" this article further provided, that 
*' their Majesties, as soon as their affairs will permit 
them to summon a parliament in this kingdom, will 
endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics 
such further security in that particular as may 
preserve them from any disturbance on account of 
their said religion." Art. II. guaranteed pardon 
and protection to all who had served King James, 
on taking the oath of allegiance prescribed in Art. 
IX,, as follows : — 

" I, A. B., do solemnly promise and swear that I 
will be faithful, and bear true allegiance, to their 
Majesties, King William and Queen Mary ; so help 
jne, God." 


Arts. III., IV., v., and VI. extended the provi- 
sions of Arts. I. and II. to merchants and other 
classes of men. Art. VII. permits " every noble- 
man and gentleman compromised in the said 
articles" to carry side-arms, and keep a gun in their 
houses." Art. VIII. gives the right of removing 
goods and chattels without search. Art. IX. is as 
follows : 

" The oath to be administered to such Eoman 
Catholics as submit t.o their Majesties' government 
shall be the oath aforesaid, and no other." 

Art. X. guarantees that " no person or persons 
who shall at any time hereafter break these articles, 
or any of them, shall thereby make or cause any 
other person or persons to forfeit or lose the benefit 
of them." Arts. XL and XII. relate to the ratifi- 
cation of the articles " within eight months or 
sooner." Art. XIII. refers to the debts of '' Colonel 
John Brown, commissary to the Irish army, to 
several Protestants," and arranges for their satis- 

These articles were signed, before Limerick, at 
the well-known '' Treaty Stone," on the Clare side 
of the Shannon, by Lord Scravenmore, Generals 
Mackay, Talmash, and De Ginkell, and the Lords- 
Justices Porter and Coningsby, for King William, 
and by Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, Viscount Galmoy, 
Sir Toby Butler, and Colonels Purcell, Cusack, 
Dillon, and Brown, for the Irish. On the 24th 
of February following, royal letters patent confir- 


matory of the treaty were issued from Westminster, 
in the name of the king and queen, whereby they 
declared, that " we do for us, our heirs and succes- 
sors, as far as in us lies, ratify and confirm the same 
and every clause, matter, and thing therein con- 

In a few short months every article in this treaty 
was violated. A " No Popery" cry was raised, and 
the Catholics were persecuted with unceasing 
cruelty. This persecution was formally legalized 
in the year 1695. Additions were made to the old 
penal laws enhancing their severity tenfold. It 
would be impossible here to give full details of 
these atrocious enactments. I must, therefore, 
again refer the reader to my larger history, or to 
the " Student's History of Ireland/' where an exact 
account of these nefarious laws will be found. 

In the reign of Queen Anne additional laws 
were made, and there was an attempt to " plant" 
some German Protestants in different parts of Ire- 

In 1723, when the quarrels between the Whigs 
and Tories were at their height, Dr. Swift's talent 
and influence did much for Ireland ; and his letters 
accomplished what the Irish Parliament was power- 
less to effect. But the sufferings of the Catholics 
still continued, and were not a little increased by 
the cruel repacity of the landlords. The imme- 
diate cause of the landlord grievance, and of what 
are called agrarian outrages, was the enclosing of 


certain commons from which the tenants were 
enabled to draw some slight profit, and thus to 
meet the exhorbitant rents demanded of them. 
But the landlords unhappily, like the Egyptian 
oppressors of the Jews, still demanded the rent, 
but refused the people the only chance they had of 
paying it. Immediately after the accession of 
George III., the Levellers and the Whiteboys com- 
menced their rude method of obtaining revenge, if 
they could not obtain justice. A good deal has 
been said in condemnation of their outrages, but 
it seems to be forgotten in some quarters that there 
were "agrarian outrages" on the landlord side as 
well, or rather that the agrarian outrages com- 
menced with the landlords. 

On the 17th April, 1780, Grattan made hisfamous 
demand for Irish independence. The Volunteer 
Corps was formed in 1779, and in 1782 the delegates 
met in Dublin, and demanded civil rights and the 
removal of commercial restraints. They also passed 
a resolution most creditable to their good feeling, 
expressing their pleasure at the relaxation of the 
penal laws. Their unanimity of action had its 
effect, and on the 27th May, 1782, the Duke of 
Portland announced the unconditional concessions 
which had been made to Ireland by the English 



Causes which led to the great Eehellion of '98 — Cruelties 
of the Orangemen — Spies and Informers— Lord E. Fitz- 
gerald—The Rising commences — Massacres at Wexford 
—Treatment of the Eebellion — Efforts made to procure 
the Unioa — The Last I^ight of the Irish Parliament. 

CATHOLIC meeting, held in DubHn, 
May 11, 1791, was really the origin of 
the United Irishmen. Catholics and Protes- 
tants began to work together harmoniously, for the 
first time, for the common good of their common 
country. Had they continued to do so, or should they 
ever thus unite again, no foreign power could resist 
their demands. The leading Catholics were — Keogh, 
M'Cormic, Sweetman, Byrne, &c. The leading 
Protestants were — Wolfe Tone, Butler, Napper 
Tandy, Neilson, &c. In May, 1794, the govern- 
ment attempted to put down this movement by 
arresting some of the leaders. It would have been 
incomparably more prudent to have removed 
some of the causes of discontent, for the move- 
ment at once resolved itself into the far more 
dangerous form of a secret society. 

In May, 1799, the new organization lost the 
services of Wolfe Tone, who was compromised, by 
a strange incident, to a very serious extent. The 
incident was the arrest and trial of the Eev. 
William Jackson, an Anglican clergyman, who had 


imbibed the opinions of Price and Priestly, and bad 
been sent to Ireland by the French Republic on a 
secret embassy. Betrayed by a friend and country- 
man named Cockayne, the unhappy Jackson took 
poison in prison, and expired in the dock. Tone 
had been seen with Jackson, and through the in- 
fluence of his friends, was alone protected from 
arrest. He was compelled, however, to quit the 
country, in order to preserve his personal liberty. 
He proceeded with his family to Belfast, where, 
before taking shipping for America, he renewed 
with his first associates their vows and projects, on 
the summit of "the Cave Hill," which looks down 
upon the rich valley of the Laggan, and the noble 
town and port at its outlet. Before quitting Dub- 
lin, he had solemnly promised Emmett and Russell, 
in the first instance, as he did his Belfast friends in 
the second, that he would make the United States 
his rout& to France, where he would negociate a 
formidable national alliance, for " the United 

In the year in which Tone left the country. Lord 
Edward Fitzgerald, brother of the Duke of Lienster, 
and formerly a major in the British Army, joined 
the society ; in the next year — near its close — 
Thomas Addis Emmett, who had long been in the 
confidence of the promoters, joined ; as did, about 
the same time, Arthur O'Connor, nephew of Lord 
Longueville, and ex-member for Philipstown, and 
Dr. AVilliam James McNevin, a Connaught Catholic, 


educated in Austria, then practising his profession 
with eminent success in Dubhn. These were 
felt to be important accessions, and all four were 
called upon to act on " the Executive Directory," 
from time to time, during 1796 and 1797. 

The coercive legislation carried through Parlia- 
ment, session after session — the Orange persecutions 
in Armagh and elsewhere— the domiciliary visits 
— the military outrages in town and country — the 
free quarters, whipping, and tortures — the total 
suppression of the public press — the bitter disap- 
pointment of Lord Fitz William's recall — the annual 
failure of Ponsonby's motion for reform — finally, 
the despairing secession of Grattan and his friends 
from Parliament — had all tended to expand the 
system, which six years before was confined to a 
few dozen enthusiasts of Belfast and Dublin, into 
the dimensions of a national confederacy. By the 
close of this year 500,000 men had taken the test, in 
every part of the country, and nearly 300,000 were 
reported as armed, either with firelocks or pikes. 
Of this total 1 1 0,000 alone were returned for Ulster, 
about 60,000 for Leinster, and the remainder from 
Connaught and Munster. Of this movement Lord 
Edward Fitzgerald was chosen Commander-in- 
Chief, but the funds at his disposal were miserably 
small, and he placed his chief reliance on assistance 
from France. Every effort was made to obtain 
this assistance; but the 20th of May, 1798 — within 
three days of the outbreak in Dublin, Wexford and 


Kildare — Buonaparte sailed with the 4lite of all 
that expedition for Alexandria, and " the Army of 
England " became in reality, " the Army of Egypt." 

It is said that Buonaparte bitterly regretted his 
choice in his exile, and saw, when it was too late, 
how different his future might have been. 

The rising was fixed to take place on the 23rd 
day of May — and the signal was to be the simul- 
taneous stoppage of the mail coaches, which started 
nightly from the Dublin post-office to every quarter 
of the kingdom. But the counter-plot anticipated 
the plot. Lord Edward, betrayed by a person 
called Higgins, proprietor of the Freeman^ s Journal, 
was taken on the 19th of May, after a desperate 
struggle with Majors Swan and Sirr, and Captain 
Eyan, in his hiding-place in Thomas-street ; the 
brothers Sheares were arrested in their own house 
on the morning of the 21st, while Surgeon Lawless 
escaped from the city, and finally from the country, 
to France. Thus for the second time was the in- 
surrection left without a head; but the organization 
had proceeded too far to be any longer restrained, 
and the Castk, moreover, to use the expression of 
Lord Castlereagh, " took means to make it explode." 

The first intelligence of the rebellion was re- 
ceived in Dublin, on the morning of the 24th of 
May. At Rathfarnham, within three miles of the 
city, oOO insurgents attacked Lord Ely's yeomanry 
corps with some success, till Lord Roden's dra- 
groons, hastily despatched from the city, compelled 


them to retreat, with the loss of some prisoners 
and two men killed, whom Mr. Beresford saw the 
next day, literally " cut to ^pieces — a horrid sight!" 
AtDunboyne, the insurgents piked an escort of the 
Royal Fencibles (Scotch) passing through their 
village, and carried off their baggage. At Naas, 
a large popular force attacked the garrison, con- 
sisting of regulars. Ancient Britons (Welsh) part 
of a regiment of dragoons, and the Armagh Militia ; 
the attack was renewed three times with great 
bravery, but, finally, discipline, as it always will, 
prevailed over mere numbers, and the assailants 
were repulsed with the loss of 140 of their com- 
rades. At Prosperous, where they cut off to a 
man a strong garrison, composed of North Cork 
Militia, under Captain Swayne, the rising was more 

But the principal, and, indeed, the only really 
important rising took place in Wexford, then one 
of the most populous and prosperous parts of 
Ireland ; and there can be but little doubt, that 
the people were mainly incited to it by the diabo- 
lical cruelties which were practised on them. 

On Whit-Sunday, the 27th of May, the yeomen 
burned the Catholic Chapel of Boulavogue. Father 
John Murphy, the parish priest, who had hitherto 
tried to suppress the insurrection, placed himself 
at the head of the insurgents. The men now rose 
in numbers, and marched to Enniscorthy, which 
they took after some fighting. Vinegar Hill, a 


lofty eminence overlooking the town, was chosen 
for their camp. Some of the leading Protestant gen- 
tlemen of the county had either favoured or joined 
the movement ; and several of them had been 
arrested on suspicion, and were imprisoned at 
Wexford. The garrison of this place, however, 
fled in a panic, caused by some successes of the 
Irish troops, and probably from a very clear idea 
of the kind of retaliation they might expect for 
their cruelties. Mr. Harvey, one of the prisoners 
mentioned above, was now released, and headed 
the insurgents ; but a powerful body of troops, 
under General Loftus, was sent into the district, 
and eventually obtained possession of New Ross, 
wdiich the Irish had taken with great bravery, 
but which they had not been able to hold for want 
of proper military discipline and command. They 
owed their defeat to insubordination and drunken- 
ness. A number of prisoners had been left at 
Scullabogue House, near Carrickburne Hill. Some 
fugitives from the Irish camp came up in the 
afternoon, and pretended that Mr. Harvey had 
given orders for their execution, alleging as a reason, 
what, indeed, was true, that the royalists massacred 
indiscriminately. The guard resisted, but were 
overpowered by the mob, who were impatient to 
revenge, without justice, the cruelties which had 
been inflicted on them without justice. A hun- 
dred were burned in a barn, and thirty-seven were 
shot or piked. This massacre has been held up as 


a horrible example of Irish treachery and cruelty. 
It was horrible, no doubt, and cannot be de- 
fended or palliated ; but, amid these contending 
horrors of civil war, the question still recurs — 
upon whom is the original guilt of causing them 
to be charged ? 

Father Murphy was killed in an attack on 
Carlow, and his death threw the balance strongly 
in favour of the Government troops, who eventually 
proved victorious. After the battle of Eoss, the 
Wexford men chose the Rev. PhiUp Eoche as their 
leader, in place of Mr. Bagenal Harvey, who had 
resigned the command. The insurgents were now 
guilty of following the example of their persecutors, 
if not with equal cruelty, at least with a barbarity 
which their leaders in vain reprobated. The 
prisoners whom they had taken were confined in the 
jail, and every effort was made to save them from 
the infuriated people. But one savage, named 
Dixon, would not be content Avithout their blood ; 
and while the army and their leaders were en- 
camped on Vinegar Hill, he and some other Adllains 
as wicked as himself found their way into the jail, 
and marching the prisoners to the bridge, held a 
mock trial, and then piked thirty-five of their 
victims, and flung them into the water. At this 
moment a priest, who had heard of the bloody 
deed, hastened to the spot; and after in vain 
commanding them to desist, succeeded at last ir 
making them kneel down, when he dictated t» 


prayer, that God might show them the same 
mercy which they would show to the surviving 
prisoners. This had its effect; and the men who 
waited in terror to receive the doom they had so 
often and mercilessly inflicted on others, were 
marched back to prison. 

The camp on Vinegar Hill was now beset on 
all sides by the royal troops. An attack was 
planned by General Lake, with 20,000 men and a 
large train of artillery. General Needham did 
not ariive in time to occupy the position appointed 
for him; and after an hour and a-half of hard 
fighting, the Irish gave way, principally from want 
of gunpowder. The soldiers now indulged in the 
most wanton deeds of cruelty. The hospital at 
Enniscorthy was set on fire, and the Avounded 
men shot in their beds. At Wexford General 
Moore prevented his troops from committing such 
outrages ; but when the rest of the army arrived, 
they acted as they had done at Enniscorthy. 
Courts-martial were held, in which the officei-s 
were not even sworn, and victims were consigned 
to execution with reckless atrocity. The bridge 
of Wexford, where a Catholic priest had saved so 
many Protestant lives, was now chosen for the 
scene of slaughter; and all this in spite of a 
promise of amnesty. The " rebellion " was at last 
subdued, and the unfortunate Irish were reduced 
to the greatest depth of misery ; and this was the 
moment chosen by the English Government with 

HOW THE "union" WAS MANAGED. 319 

more tact than justice, to effect a nominal union 
of the two countries. A cordial union there could 
scarcely be till men had forgotten the scenes of 
misery and cruelty so recently enacted. But Mr. 
Pitt had set his heart upon the Union, and Mr. 
Pitt had determined it should be carried ; and he 
availed himself for this end of two all-powerful 
engines : force and fraud. 

He secured the Orangemen by large promises to 
their leaders ; he secured the Catholics by giving 
them to understand that Catholic Emancipation 
should be the first act of the united Parliament ; and 
as people are generally willing to believe what they 
wish, the Orangemen and the Catholics, and the 
people generally, all believed, and all were duped. 
The great overture for a union was made by the 
then Viceroy, on the 22nd of January, 1799 ; and 
it was rejected by a majority of only one. But 
even this defeat was a triumph, for it showed the 
English Government what bribery and corruption 
could effect, and how nearly those means had accom- 
plished the desired end. There were brave, true- 
hearted Irishmen in the house ; there were men of 
wonderful powers of eloquence ; Grattan was there, 
although in almost a dying state ; Plunkett, Parnell, 
Ponsonby, Foster, and Egan were there also ; but 
they were powerless where so many base and 
selfish motives were in action. The measure 
passed, as its promoters expected, and on the 1st 
of January, 1801, a new imperial standard was 


exhibited on London Tower, and on the Castles 
of Dublin and Edinburgh. It was formed of the 
three crosses of St. George, St. Patrick, and St- 
Andrew, and is popularly known as the Union 
Jack. The fleur-de-lis and the word "France" were 
omitted from royal prerogatives and titles ; and a 
proclamation was issued appointing the words — 
Dei Gratia^ Britaniaruni Rex, Fidei Defensor. The 
DuUin Gazette of July, 1800, contained the signi- 
ficant announcement of the creation of sixteen new 
peerages. The same publication for the last week 
of the year contained a fresh list of twenty-six 
others. Forty-two creations in six months were 
rather an extensive stretch of prerogative ; and we 
cannot be surprised if the majority of the nation 
had more respect for the great untitled, whose 
ancestry were known, and were quite above ac- 
cepting the miserable bribe of a modern peerage. 


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