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Title: The Story of Ireland
Author: Lawless, Emily, 1845-1913
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Story of Ireland" ***

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[Illustration: HOLY ISLAND LOUGH DERG. (_From a painting by Watkins._)]

The Story of the Nations














       *       *       *       *       *




Irish history is a long, dark road, with many blind alleys, many sudden
turnings, many unaccountably crooked portions; a road which, if it has a
few sign-posts to guide us, bristles with threatening notices, now upon
the one side and now upon the other, the very ground underfoot being
often full of unsuspected perils threatening to hurt the unwary.

To the genuine explorer, flushed with justified self-confidence, well
equipped for the journey, and indifferent to scratches or bruises, one
may suppose this to be rather an allurement than otherwise, as he spurs
along, lance at rest, and sword on side. To the less well-equipped
traveller, who has no pretensions to the name of explorer at all, no
particular courage to boast of, and whose only ambition is to make the
way a little plainer for some one travelling along it for the first
time, it is decidedly a serious impediment, so much so as almost to
scare such a one from attempting the _rôle_ of guide even in the
slightest and least responsible capacity.

Another and perhaps even more formidable objection occurs. A history
beset with such distracting problems, bristling with such thorny
controversies, a history, above all, which has so much bearing upon that
portion of history which has still to be born, ought, it may be said, to
be approached in the gravest and most authoritative fashion possible, or
else not approached at all. This is too true, and that so slight a
summary as this can put forward no claim to authority of any sort is
evident enough. National "stories," however, no less than histories,
gain a gravity, it must be remembered, and even at times a solemnity
from their subject apart altogether from their treatment. A good reader
will read a great deal more into them than the mere bald words convey.
The lights and shadows of a great or a tragic past play over their easy
surface, giving it a depth and solidity to which it could otherwise lay
no claim. If the present attempt disposes any one to study at first hand
one of the strangest and most perplexing chapters of human history and
national destiny, its author for one will be more than content.




Early migrations--The great ice age--Northern character of the fauna and
flora of Ireland--First inhabitants--Formorian, Firbolgs,
Tuatha-da-Dannans--Battle of Moytura Cong--The Scoto-Celtic
invasion--Annals and annalists, how far credible?



The legends--Their archaic character--The pursuit of Gilla Backer and
his horse--The ollamhs--Positions of the bards or ollamhs in
Primitive Ireland.



Early Celtic law--The Senchus Mor and Book of Aicill--Laws of
inheritance--Narrow conception of patriotism.



St. Patrick's birth--Capture, slavery, and escape--His return to
Ireland--Arrives at Tara--Visits Connaught and Ulster--Early Irish
missionaries and their enthusiasm for the work.



"The Tribes of the Saints"--Small oratories in the West--Plan of
monastic life--Ready acceptance of Christianity.



Birth of Columba--His journey to Iona--His character and
humanity--Conversion of Saxon England--Schism between Western Church and
Papacy--Synod of Whitby--The Irish Church at home.



Ireland divided into five kingdoms--The Ard-Reagh--Arrival of
Vikings--Thorgist or Turgesius?--Later Viking invaders--The round
towers--Dublin founded--Hatred between the two races.



Two deliverers--Defeat of the Vikings at Sulcost--Brian becomes king of
Munster--Seizes Cashel--Overcomes Malachy--Becomes king of
Ireland--Celtic theory of loyalty--Fresh Viking invasion--Battle of
Clontarf--Death of Brian Boru.



Result of Brian Boru's death--Chaos returns--Struggle for the
succession--Roderick O'Connor, last native king of Ireland.



First group of knightly invaders--Their relationship--Giraldus

Cambrensis--Motives for invasion--Papal sanction--Dermot McMurrough--He
enlists recruits--Arrival of Robert FitzStephen--Wexford, Ossory, and
Kilkenny captured--Arrival of Strongbow--Struggle with Hasculph the Dane
and John the Mad--Danes defeated--Dublin besieged--Strongbow defeats
Roderick O'Connor, goes to Wexford, and embarks at Waterford--Meets the
king--Arrival of Henry II.



Large military forces of Henry--The chiefs submit and do homage--Irish
theory of Ard-Reagh or Over-Lord--Henry in Dublin--Synod at
Cashel--Henry recalled to England.



Effect of Henry's stay in Ireland--His large schemes--Their practical
failure--Rapacity of adventurers--Contrast between Irish and their
conquerors--Civil war from the outset.



John's first visit--His insolence and misconduct--Recalled in
disgrace--Second visit as king--His energy--Overruns Meath and
Ulster--Returns to England--Effect of his visit.



The Geraldines--Their possessions in Ireland--The five palatinates--The
heirs of Strongbow--The De Burghs--The Butlers--Importance of the great
territorial owners in Ireland.



Want of landmarks in Irish history--Edward the I.'s reign--Battle of
Bannockburn--Its effect on Ireland--Scotch invasion under Edward
Bruce--Ravages and famine caused by him--The colonists regain courage:
Battle of Dundalk--Edward Bruce killed--Result of the Scotch invasion.



Reign of Edward III.--A lost opportunity--Duke of Clarence sent to
Ireland--Parliament at Kilkenny--Statute of Kilkenny--Its objects--Two
Irelands--Weakness resorts to cruelty--Effects of the statute.



Richard the II.'s two visits to Ireland--Utter disorganization of the
country--The chieftains submit and come in--"Sir Art"
McMurrough--Richard leaves, and Art McMurrough breaks out again--Earl of
March killed--Richard returns--Attacks Art McMurrough--Failure of
attack--Recalled to England--His defeat and death--Confusion redoubles.



Monotony of Irish history--State of Ireland during the Wars of the
Roses--Pillage, carnage, and rapine--The seaport towns--Richard Duke of
York in Ireland--His conciliatory policy--Battle of Towton--The Kildares
grow in power--Geroit Mor--His character.



Effect of the battle of Bosworth--Kildare still in power--Lambert Simnel
in Ireland--Crowned in Dublin--Battle of Stoke--Henry VII. pardons the
rebels--Irish peers summoned to Court--Perkin Warbeck in
Ireland--Quarrels between the Kildares and Ormonds--Sir Edward
Poynings--Kildare's trial and acquital--Restored to power--Battle
of Knocktow.



Rise of Wolsey to power--Resolves to destroy the Geraldines--Geroit Mor
succeeded by his son--Earl of Surrey sent as viceroy--Kildare restored
to power--Summoned to London and imprisoned--Again restored and again
imprisoned--Situation changed--Revolt of Silken Thomas--Seizes
Dublin--Archbishop Allen murdered--Sir William Skeffington to
Ireland--Kildare dies in prison--"The Pardon of Maynooth"--Silken Thomas
surrenders, and is executed.



Lord Leonard Grey deputy--Accused of treason, recalled and executed--Act
of Supremacy proposed--Opposition of clergy--Suppression of the
abbeys--Great Parliament summoned in Dublin--- Meeting of hereditary
enemies--Conciliatory measures--Henry VIII. proclaimed king of Ireland
and head of the Church.



A halcyon period--O'Neill, O'Brien, and Macwilliam of Clanricarde at
Greenwich--Receive their peerages,--Attempt at establishing
Protestantism in Ireland--Vehemently resisted--The destruction of the
relics--Archbishop Dowdal--The effect of the new departure--The Irish
problem receives fresh complications.



Mary becomes queen--Religious struggle postponed--Fercal Leix and Offaly
colonized--Sense of insecurity awakened--No Irish Protestant
martyrs--Commission of Dean Cole--Its failure--Death of Mary.



Elizabeth becomes queen,--Effect of change on Ireland--Shane
O'Neill--His description, habits, qualities--His campaign against
Sussex--Defeats Sussex--His visit to Court--Returns to Ireland--Supreme
in the North--His attack on the Scots--Sir Henry Sidney marches into
Ulster--The disaster at Derry--Shane encounters the O'Donnells--Is
defeated--Applies to the Scots--Is slain.



Sir Henry Sidney Lord-deputy--A lull--Sidney's policy and
proceedings--Provincial presidents appointed--Arrest of Desmond--Sir
Peter Carew--His violence--Rebellion in the South--Sir James
Fitzmaurice--Relations between him and Sir John Perrot--He surrenders,
and sails for France.



An abortive tragedy--State of the Desmond Palatinate--Sir James
Fitzmaurice in France and Spain--Nicholas Saunders appointed
legate--Stukeley's expedition--Fitzmaurice lands in Kerry--Desmond
vacillates--Death of Sir James Fitzmaurice--Concerted attack of Ormond
and Pelham--Horrible destruction of life--Arrival of Spaniards at
Smerwick--Lord Grey de Wilton--Defeat of English troops at
Glenmalure--Attack of and slaughter of Spaniards at Smerwick--Wholesale
executions--Death of the Earl of Desmond and extinction of his house.



State of Munster--The new plantations--Perrot's administration--Tyrlough
Luinagh,--Sir William Fitzwilliam--Executions without trial--Alarm of
northern proprietors--Earl of Tyrone--Character of early loyalty--Causes
of dissatisfaction--Quarrel with Bagnall--Preparations for a rising.



The Northern Blackwater--Attack of Blackwater Fort by Tyrone--Death of
the deputy, Lord Borough--Bagnall advances from Dublin--Battle of the
Yellow Ford--Defeat and death of Bagnall--Retreat of the English
troops--The rising becomes general.



Essex appointed Lord-Lieutenant--Arrival in Ireland--Mistakes and
disasters--Death of Sir Conyers Clifford in the Curlews--Essex advances
north--Holds a conference with Tyrone--Agrees to an armistice--Anger of
the Queen--Essex suddenly leaves Ireland.



Mountjoy appointed deputy--Contrast between him and Essex--Reasons for
Mountjoy's greater success--Conquest by starvation--Success of
method--Arrival of Spanish forces at Kinsale: Mountjoy and Carew marched
south and invests Kinsale--Attack of Mountjoy by Tyrone--Failure of
attack--Surrender of Spaniards--Surrender of Tyrone.



The last chieftain rising against England--Condition of affairs at close
of war--Tyrone's position impossible--Reported plot--Tyrone and
Tyrconnel take flight--Confiscation of their territory--Sir John
Davis--The Ulster Settlement.



Parliament summoned--Anxiety of government to secure a Protestant
majority--Contested election--Narrow Protestant majority--Furious
quarrel over election of Speaker--Parliament dissolved--The king
appealed to--Attainder of Tyrone and Tyrconnel--Reversal of statute
of Kilkenny.



Further plantations--The Connaught landowners--Their positions--Charles
I.'s accession and how it affected Ireland--Lord Falkland appointed
viceroy--Succeeded by Wentworth.



Arrival of Wentworth in Ireland--His methods and theory--Dissolves
parliament--Goes to Connaught--Galway jury fined and imprisoned--His
ecclesiastical policy--His Irish army--Return to England--Attainder,
trial, and death.



Confusion and disorder--Strafford's army disbanded, but still in the
country--Plot to seize Dublin Castle--Plot transpires--Sir Phelim
O'Neill seizes Charlemont--Attack upon the Protestant
settlers--Barbarities and counter barbarities.



The rising at first local--Attitude of the Pale gentry--They resolve to
join the rising--Disorganization of the northern insurgents--Incapacity
of Sir Phelim O'Neill--Arrival of Owen Roe O'Neill and Preston--Meeting
of delegates at Kilkenny--Charles decides upon a _coup de main_.



Effect of the Ulster massacres on England--An agrarian rather than
religious rising--The Confederates' terms Glamorgan sent to Ireland, The
secret treaty transpires, Arrival of Rinucini, Battle of Benturb, Ormond
surrenders Dublin to the Parliament.



Total confusion of aims and parties, The "poor Panther" Inchiquin,
Alliance between Jones and Owen Roe O'Neill, Ormond advances upon
Dublin, Battle of Baggotrath and defeat of the Royalists, Arrival
of Cromwell.



Cromwell's mission, Assault of Drogheda, and slaughter of its garrison,
Wexford garrison slaughtered, Cromwell's discipline, The "country
sickness," Confusion in the Royalist camp, Signature of the Scotch
covenant by the king, Final surrender of O'Neill and the Irish army.



Loss of life during the eight years of war, Punishment of the
vanquished, Executions, Wholesale scheme of eviction, The New Owners,
"The Burren," Sale of women to the West Indian plantations,
Dissatisfaction amongst the soldiers and debenture holders, Irish



The Restoration, Henry Cromwell, Coote and Broghill, Court of claims
established in Dublin, Prolonged dispute, Final settlement, Condition of
Irish Roman Catholics at close of the struggle.



Effects of the Restoration upon the Ulster Presbyterians--A new Act of
Uniformity--Exodus of Presbyterians from Ireland--The Popish
plot--Insane panic--Execution of Archbishop Plunkett--Sudden reversal of
the tide--Tyrconnel sent as viceroy--Terror of Protestant
settlers--William of Orange in England--James II. arrives in Ireland.



Popular enthusiasm for James--Struggle between his English and Irish
adherents--James advances to Londonderry--Siege of Londonderry--Its
garrison relieved--Debasing the coinage--Reversal of the Act of
Settlement--Bill of Attainder--Arrival of William III.--Battle of the
Boyne--Flight of James--First siege of Limerick--Athlone captured by
Ginkel--Battle of Aughrim.



Sarsfield refuses to surrender--Second siege of Limerick--The Limerick
treaty--Its exact purport--The military treaty--Departure of the exiles.



A new century and new fortunes--Mr. Lecky's "Eighteenth
Century"--Reversal of all the recent Acts--The Penal Code--Burke's
description of it--How evaded--Its effects upon Protestants and



The "Protestant Ascendency"--England's jealousy of her Colonists, Act
passed prohibiting export of Irish woollen goods, Effects of the Act
upon Ireland, Smuggling on an immense scale, Collapse of industry,
Strained relations.



The "Ingenious Molyneux," Irish naturalists, Molyneux's "Case of
Ireland," Effect of its publication, Death of Molyneux, Dean Swift, His
position in Irish politics, The "Drapier Letters," Their line of attack,
Effect on popular opinion, Wood's halfpence suspended.



Forty dull years, Parliamentary abuses, Charles Lucas, Flood enters
Parliament, His struggle with the Government, Lord Townsend recalled,
Flood accepts office, Effect of that acceptance, Rejoins the Liberal
side, Tries to outbid Grattan, Failure and end.



Unanimity of opinion about Grattan, His character, Enters Parliament,
The "Declaration of Rights," Carried by the Irish Parliament,
Declaratory Act of George I. repealed, A spell of prosperity, Rocks
ahead, Disaster following disaster, Grattan and the Union,
Grattan's death.



Revolt of the American Colonies, Its effect on Ireland, Disastrous
condition of the country, Volunteer movement begun in Belfast, Rapid
popularity, Its effect upon politics, Free Trade, Declaratory Act
repealed, The Volunteers disband.



Reform the crying necessity of the hour--Corruption steadily
increasing--Attempt to obtain free importation of goods to England--Its
failure--Disturbed state of the country--Its causes--"White boys," "Oak
boys," and "Steel boys"--Faction war in the North--Orange
lodges--"Society of United Irishmen"--The one hope for the future.



General desire for Catholic Emancipation--Lord Sheffield's evidence--The
Catholic delegates received by the king--Lord Fitzwilliam sent as
Lord-Lieutenant--Popular enthusiasm--Recalled--Result of his recall.



Wolfe Tone, his character and autobiography--The other leaders of the
rebellion--England and France at war--Hoche's descent--Panic--Habeas
Corpus Act suspended--Misconduct of soldiers--Arrest of Lord Edward
Fitzgerald--Outbreak of the rebellion--The rising in Wexford--Bagenal
Harvey--Arklow, New Ross, and Vinegar Hill--Suppression of the
rebellion--Final incidents--Death of Wolfe Tone.



State of Ireland after the rebellion--Pitt resolved to pass the
Union--Inducements offered--Discrepancy of statements upon the
subject--Bribery or not bribery?--Lord Cornwallis and Lord
Castlereagh--The Union carried.



The Union not followed by union--The Emmett outbreak,--Young Daniel
O'Connell--The new Catholic Association--The Clare election--Catholic
Relief Bill carried--The "Incarnation of a people"--Repeal--The
O'Connell gatherings--The meeting proclaimed at Clontarf--Prosecution
and condemnation of O'Connell--Released on appeal--Never regained his
power--Despondency and death.



"The Nation"--Sir C. Gavan Duffy--Thomas Davis--Smith O'Brien--Effect of
O'Connell's death on the "Young Ireland" party--James Lalor--His
influence on Mitchell--The "United Irishmen" newspaper started--Arrest
and transportation of Mitchell--The end of the "Young Ireland" movement.



First symptoms of the potato disease--The fatal night--Beginning of
Famine--Rapid mortality--Mr. Forster's reports--Relief works--Soup
kitchens--Failure of preventive measures--Famine followed by
ruin--Clearances and Emigration--Emigrant ships--Permanent effects of
the Famine on Ireland.



Encumbered Estates Act--Tenant League of North and South--The "Brass
Band"--A lull--The Phoenix organization--The Fenian "scare"--Rescue of
Fenian prisoners at Manchester--The Clerkenwell explosion--The Irish
Church Act--The Irish Land Act of 1870--Failure of Irish Education Act,
and retirement of the Liberals--Mr. Butt and Mr. Parnell--The Land
League established--Return of the Liberals to power--The Irish Land Act
of 1881--Arrest and release of Land League Leaders--Murders in the
Phoenix Park--James Carey--- His death--The agrarian struggle--Home
Rule--Its eventual destiny--The untravelled Future.



Irish heroes--Causes of their want of popularity--Irish _versus_ Scotch
heroes--"Prince Posterity".


[Nearly all the archaeological illustrations in this volume are from
"The Early Christian Architecture of Ireland," by Miss M. Stokes, who
has kindly allowed them to be reproduced. The portraits are chiefly from
engravings, &c., kept in the Prints Room of the British Museum.]





"It seems to be certain," says the Abbé McGeoghehan, "that Ireland
continued uninhabited from the Creation to the Deluge." With this
assurance to help us on our onward way I may venture to supplement it by
saying that little is known about the first, or even about the second,
third, and fourth succession of settlers in Ireland. At what precise
period what is known as the Scoto-Celtic branch of the great Aryan stock
broke away from its parent tree, by what route its migrants travelled,
in what degree of consanguinity it stood to the equally Celtic race or
races of Britain, what sort of people inhabited Ireland previous to the
first Aryan invasion--all this is in the last degree uncertain, though
that it was inhabited by some race or races outside the limits of that
greatest of human groups seems from ethnological evidence to be
perfectly clear.

When first it dawns upon us through that thick darkness which hangs
about the birth of all countries--whatever their destiny--it was a
densely wooded and scantily peopled island "lying a-loose," as old
Campion, the Elizabethan historian, tells us, "upon the West Ocean,"
though his further assertion that "in shape it resembleth an egg, plain
on the sides, and not reaching forth to the sea in nooks and elbows of
Land as Brittaine doeth"--cannot be said to be quite geographically
accurate--the last part of the description referring evidently to the
east coast, the only one with which, like most of his countrymen, he was
at that time familiar.

Geographically, then, and topographically it was no doubt in much the
same state as the greater part of it remained up to the middle or end of
the sixteenth century, a wild, tangled, roadless land, that is to say,
shaggy with forests, abounding in streams, abounding, too, in lakes--far
more, doubtless, than at present, drainage and other causes having
greatly reduced their number--with rivers bearing the never-failing
tribute of the skies to the sea, yet not so thoroughly as to hinder
enormous districts from remaining in a swamped and saturated condition,
given up to the bogs, which even at the present time are said to cover
nearly one-sixth of its surface.

This superfluity of bogs seems always in earlier times to have been
expeditiously set down by all historians and agriculturists as part of
the general depravity of the Irish native, who had allowed his good
lands,--doubtless for his own mischievous pleasure--to run to waste;
bogs being then supposed to differ from other lands only so far as they
were made "waste and barren by superfluous moisture." About the middle
of last century it began to be perceived that this view of the matter
was somewhat inadequate; the theory then prevailing being that bogs owed
their origin not to water alone, but to the destruction of woods, whose
remains are found imbedded in them--a view which held good for another
fifty or sixty years, until it was in its turn effectually disposed of
by the report of the Bogs Commission in 1810, when it was proved once
for all that it was to the growth of sphagnums and other peat-producing
mosses they were in the main due--a view which has never since been
called in question.

A great deal, however, had happened to Ireland before the bogs began to
grow on it at all. It had--to speak only of some of its later
vicissitudes--been twice at least united to England, and through it with
what we now know as the continent of Europe, and twice severed from it
again. It had been exposed to a cold so intense as to bleach off all
life from its surface, utterly depriving it of vegetation, and grinding
the mountains down to that scraped bun-like outline which so many of
them still retain; had covered the whole country, highlands and lowlands
alike, with a dense overtoppling cap of snow, towering often thousands
of feet above the present height of the mountains, from which "central
silence" the glaciers crept sleepily down the ravines and valleys,
eating their way steadily seaward, and leaving behind them moraines to
mark their passage, leaving also longitudinal scratches, cut, as a
diamond cuts glass, upon the rocks, as may be seen by any one who takes
the trouble of looking for them; finally reaching the sea in a vast
sloping plateau which pushed its course steadily onward until its
further advance was overborne by the buoyancy of the salt water, the
ends breaking off, as the Greenland glaciers do to-day, into huge
floating icebergs, which butted against one another, jammed up all the
smaller bays and fiords; were carried in again and again on the rising
tide; rolled hither and thither like so many colossal ninepins; played,
in short, all the old rough-and-tumble Arctic games through many a cold
and dismal century, finally melting away as the milder weather began
slowly to return, leaving Ireland a very lamentable-looking island
indeed, not unlike one of those deplorable islands scattered along the
shores of Greenland and upon the edges of Baffin's Bay--treeless,
grassless, brown and scalded, wearing everywhere over its surface the
marks of that great ice-plough which had lacerated its sides so long.

There seems to be good geological evidence that the land connection
between Ireland and Scotland continued to a considerably later period
than between it and England, to which, and as far as can be seen to no
other possible cause is to be attributed two very striking
characteristics of its fauna, namely, its excessive meagreness and its
strikingly northern character. Not only does it come far short of the
already meagre English fauna, but all the distinctively southern species
are the ones missing, though there is nothing in the climate to account
for the fact. The Irish hare, for instance, is not the ordinary brown
hare of England, but the "blue" or Arctic hare of Scotch mountains, the
same which still further to the north becomes white in winter, a habit
which, owing to the milder Irish winters, it has apparently shaken off.

It would be pleasant to linger here a little over this point of
distribution--so fruitful of suggestion as to the early history of the
planet we occupy. To speculate as to the curious contradictions, or
apparent contradictions, to be found even within so narrow an area as
that of Ireland. What, for instance, has brought a group of South
European plants to the shores of Kerry and Connemara, which plants are
not to be found in England, even in Cornwall, which one would have
thought must surely have arrested them first? Why, when neither the
common toad or frog are indigenous in Ireland (for the latter, though
common enough now, was only introduced at the beginning of last century)
a comparatively rare little toad, the Natterjack, should be found in one
corner of Kerry to all appearances indigenously? All these questions,
however, belong to quite another sort of book, and to a much larger
survey of the field than there is time here to embark upon, so there is
nothing for it but to turn one's back resolutely upon the tempting sin
of discursiveness, or we shall find ourselves belated before our real
journey is even begun.

The first people, then, of whose existence in Ireland we can be said to
know anything are commonly asserted to have been of Turanian origin, and
are known as "Formorians." As far as we can gather, they were a dark,
low-browed, stunted race, although, oddly enough, the word Formorian in
early Irish legend is always used as synonymous with the word giant.
They were, at any rate, a race of utterly savage hunters and fishermen,
ignorant of metal, of pottery, possibly even of the use of fire; using
the stone hammers or hatchets of which vast numbers remain in Ireland to
this day, and specimens of which may be seen in every museum. How long
they held possession no one can tell, although Irish philologists
believe several local Irish names to date from this almost inconceivably
remote epoch. Perhaps if we think of the Lapps of the present day, and
picture them wandering about the country, catching the hares and rabbits
in nooses, burrowing in the earth or amongst rocks, and being, not
impossibly, looked down on with scorn by the great Irish elk which still
stalked majestically over the hills; rearing ugly little altars to dim,
formless gods; trembling at every sudden gust, and seeing demon faces in
every bush and brake, it will give us a fairly good notion of what these
very earliest inhabitants of Ireland were probably like.

Next followed a Belgic colony, known as the Firbolgs, who overran the
country, and appear to have been of a somewhat higher ethnological
grade, although, like the Formorians, short, dark, and swarthy.
Doubtless the latter were not entirely exterminated to make way for the
Firbolgs, any more than the Firbolgs to make way for the Danaans,
Milesians, and other successive races; such wholesale exterminations
being, in fact, very rare, especially in a country which like Ireland
seems specially laid out by kindly nature for the protection of a weaker
race struggling in the grip of a stronger one.

After the Firbolgs, though I should be sorry to be obliged to say how
long after, fresh and more important tribes of invaders began to appear.
The first of these were the Tuatha-da-Danaans, who arrived under the
leadership of their king Nuad, and took possession of the east of the
country. These Tuatha-da-Danaans are believed to have been large,
blue-eyed people of Scandinavian origin, kinsmen and possibly ancestors
of those Norsemen or "Danes" who in years to come were destined to work
such woe and havoc upon the island.

Many battles took place between these Danaans and the earlier Firbolgic
settlers--the native owners as no doubt they felt themselves of the
country. One of the best substantiated of these, not, indeed, by history
or even tradition, but by a more solid testimony, that of the stone
remains left on the spot, prove, at any rate, that _some_ long-sustained
battle was at some remote period fought on the spot.

This is the famous pre-historic battle of Moytura, rather the Southern
Moytura, for there were two; the other, situated not far from the
present town of Sligo, retaining "the largest collection of pre-historic
remains," says Dr. Petrie, "in any region in the world with the
exception of Carnac." This second battle of Moytura was fought upon the
plain of Cong, which is washed by the waters of Lough Mask and Lough
Corrib, close to where the long monotonous midland plain of Ireland
becomes broken, changes into that region of high mountains and low-lying
valleys, now called Connemara, but which in earlier days was always
known as Iar Connaught.

It is a wild scene even now, not very much less so than it must have
been when this old and half-mythical Battle of the West was fought and
won. A grey plain, "stone-roughened like the graveyard of dead hosts,"
broken into grassy ridges, and starred at intervals with pools,
repeating the larger glitter of the lake hard by. Over the whole surface
of this tumbled plain rise, at intervals, great masses of rock, some
natural, but others artificially up-tilted cromlechs and dolmens,
menhirs and cairns--whitened by lichen scrawls, giving them often in
uncertain light the effect of so many undecipherable inscriptions,
written in a long-forgotten tongue.

From the position of the battle-field it has been made out to their own
satisfaction by those who have studied it on the spot, that the Firbolgs
must have taken up a fortified position upon the hill called Ben-levi; a
good strategic position unquestionably, having behind it the whole of
the Mayo mountains into which to retreat in case of defeat. The Danaans,
on the other hand, advancing from the plains of Meath, took up their
station upon the hill known as Knockmaa[1], standing by itself about
five miles from the present town of Tuam, on the top of which stands a
great cairn, believed to have been in existence even then--a legacy of
some yet earlier and more primitive race which inhabited the country,
and, therefore, possibly the oldest record of humanity to-day extant
in Ireland.

[1] Now Castle Hacket Hill.

Three days the battle is said to have raged with varying fortunes, in
the course of which the Danaan king Nuad lost his arm, a loss which was
repaired, we are told, by the famous artificer Credue or Cerd, who made
him a silver one, and as "Nuad of the Silver Hand" he figures
conspicuously in early Irish history. In spite of this, and of the death
of a number of their fighting-men, the stars fought for the
Tuatha-da-Danaans, who were strong men and cunning, workers in metal,
and great fighters, so that at last they utterly made an end of their
antagonists, occupying the whole country, and holding it, say the
annalists for a hundred and ninety and six years--building earth and
stone forts, many of which exist to this day, but what their end was no
man can tell you, save that they, too, were, in their turn, conquered by
the Milesians or "Scoti," who next overran the country, giving to it
their own name of Scotia, by which name it was known down to the end of
the twelfth century, and driving the earlier settlers before them, who
thereupon fled to the hills, and took refuge in the forests, whence they
emerged, doubtless, with unpleasant effect upon their conquerors, as
another defeated race did upon _their_ conquerors in later days.

As regards the early doings of these Scoti, although nearer to us in
point of time, their history is, if anything, rather more vague than
that of their predecessors. The source for the greater part of it is in
a work known as the "Annals of the Four Masters," a compilation put
together in the sixteenth century, from documents now no longer
existing, and which must unfortunately, be regarded as largely
fictitious. Were names, indeed, all that were wanting to give
substantiality there are enough and to spare, the beginning of every
Irish history positively bristling with them. Leland, for instance, who
published his three sturdy tomes in the year 1773, and who is still one
of our chief authorities on the subject, speaks of Ireland as having
"engendered one hundred and seventy one monarchs, all of the same house
and lineage; with sixty-eight kings, and two queens of Great Brittain
and Ireland all sprung equally from her loins." We read in his pages of
the famous brethren Heber and Heremon, sons of Milesius, who divided the
island between them; of Allamh Fodla, celebrated as a healer of feuds
and protector of learning, who drew the priests and bards together into
a triennial assembly at Tara, in Meath; of Kimbaoth, who is praised by
the annalists for having advanced learning and kept the peace. The times
of peace had not absolutely arrived however, for he was not long after
murdered, and wild confusion and wholesale slaughter ensued. Another
Milesian prince, Thuathal, shortly afterwards returned from North
Britain, and, assisted by a body of Pictish soldiers, defeated the
rebels, restored order, and re-established the seat of his monarchy
in Meath.

As a specimen of the sort of stories current in history of this kind,
Leland relates at considerable length the account of the insult offered
to this Thuathal by the provincial king of Leinster. "The king," he
tells us, "had married the daughter of Thuathal, but conceiving a
violent passion for her sister, pretended that his wife had died, and
demanded and obtained her sister in marriage. The two ladies met in the
royal house of Leinster. Astonishment and sorrow put an end to their
lives!" The offender not long afterwards was invaded by his justly
indignant father-in-law, and his province only preserved from desolation
on condition of paying a heavy tribute, "as a perpetual memorial of the
resentment of Thuathal and of the offence committed by the king of

Another special favourite of the annalists is Cormac O'Conn, whose reign
they place about the year 250, and over whose doings they wax eloquent,
dwelling upon the splendour of his court, the heroism of his warlike
sons, the beauty of his ten fair daughters, the doings of his famous
militia, the Fenni or Fenians, and especially of his illustrious general
Finn, or Fingal, the hero of the legends, and father of the poet
Ossian--a warrior whom we shall meet with again in the next chapter.

And now, it will perhaps be asked, what is one in sober seriousness to
say to all this? All that one can say is that these tales are not to be
taken as history in any rigid sense of the word, but must for the most
part be regarded as mere hints, caught from chaos, and coming down
through a hundred broken mediums; scraps of adventures told around camp
fires; oral traditions; rude songs handed from father to son, and
altering more or less with each new teller. The early history of Ireland
is in this respect much like the early history of all other countries.
We have the same semi-mythical aggregations, grown up around some small
kernel of reality, but so changed, swollen, distorted, that it is
difficult to distinguish the true from the false; becoming vaguer and
vaguer too as the mists of time and sentiment gather more and more
thickly around them, until at last we seem to be swimming dimly in a
"moony vapour," which allows no dull peaks of reality to pierce through
it at all. "There were giants in those days," is a continually recurring
assertion, characteristic of all ancient annals, and of these with
the rest.

[Illustration: CROMLECH ON HOWTH.]



Better far than such historic shams--cardboard castles with little or no
substance behind them--are the real legends. These put forward no
obtrusive pretensions to accuracy, and for that very reason are far
truer in that larger sense in which all the genuine and spontaneous
outgrowth of a country form part and parcel of its history. Some of the
best of these have been excellently translated by Mr. Joyce, whose
"Celtic Romances" ought to be in the hands of every one, from the boy of
twelve upwards, who aspires to know anything of the inner history of
Ireland; to understand, that is to say, that curiously recurrent note of
poetry and pathos which breaks continually through all the dull hard
prose of the surface. A note often lost in unmitigated din and discord,
yet none the less re-emerging, age after age, and century after century,
and always when it does so lending its own charm to a record, which,
without some such alleviations, would be almost too grim and
disheartening in its unrelieved and unresulting misery to be voluntarily
approached at all.

Although as they now stand none appear to be of earlier date than the
ninth or tenth century, these stories all breathe the very breath of a
primitive world. An air of remote pagan antiquity hangs over them, and
as we read we seem gradually to realize an Ireland as unlike the one we
know now as if, like the magic island of Buz, it had sunk under the
waves and been lost. Take, for instance--for space will not allow of
more than a sample--the story of "The Pursuit of Gilla Backer and his
Horse," not by any means one of the best, yet characteristic enough. In
it we learn that from Beltane, the 1st of May--the great Celtic festival
of the sun--to Sanim, the 1st of November, the chiefs and Fenni hunted
each day with their hounds through the forests and over the plains,
while from Sanim to Beltane they lived in the "Betas," or houses of
hospitality, or feasted high with Finn McCumal, son of Cumal, grandson
of Trenmore O'Baskin, whose palace stood upon the summit of the hill of
Allen, a hill now crowned with a meaningless modern obelisk, covering
the site of the old historic rath, a familiar object to thousands who
have looked up at it from the Curragh of Kildare, certainly with no
thought in their minds of Finn McCumal or his vanished warriors.

The tale tells how one day, after hunting on the Plains of Cliach, the
Fenni sat down to rest upon the hill of Colkilla, their hunting tents
being pitched upon a level spot near the summit. How presently, afar off
over the plain at their feet, they saw one of the conquered race of
earlier inhabitants, a "Formorian" of huge size and repulsive ugliness
coming towards them, leading his horse by the halter, an animal larger,
it seems, than six ordinary horses, but broken down and knock-kneed,
with jaws that stuck out far in advance of its head. How the heroes,
idling pleasantly about in the sunshine, laughed aloud at the uncouth
"foreigner" and his ugly raw-boned beast, "covered with tangled scraggy
hair of a sooty black." How he came before the king and, having made
obeisance, told him that his name was the Gilla Backer, and then and
there took service with him for a year, desiring at the same time that
special care should be paid to his horse, and the best food given it,
and care taken that it did not stray, whereat the heroes laughed again,
the horse standing like a thing carved in wood and unable apparently to
move a leg.

No sooner, however, was it loosed, and the halter cast off, than it
rushed amongst the other horses, kicking and lashing, and seizing them
with its teeth till not one escaped. Seeing which, the Fenni rose up in
high wrath, and one of them seized the Gilla Backer's horse by the
halter and tried to draw it away, but again it became like a rock, and
refused to stir. Then he mounted its back and flogged it, but still it
remained like a stone. Then, one after the other, thirteen more of the
heroes mounted, but still it stirred not. The very instant, however,
that its master, the Gilla Backer rose up angrily to depart, the old
horse went too, with the fourteen heroes still upon his back, whereat
the Fenni raised fresh shouts of laughter. But the Gilla Backer, after
he had walked a little way, looked back, and seeing that his horse was
following, stood for a moment to tuck up his skirts. "Then, all at once
changing his pace, he set out with long strides; and if you know what
the speed of a swallow is, flying across a mountain-side, or the fairy
wind of a March day sweeping over the plains, then you can understand
Gilla Dacker, as he ran down the hillside towards the south-west.
Neither was the horse behindhand in the race, for, though he carried a
heavy load, he galloped like the wind after his master, plunging and
bounding forward with as much freedom as if he had nothing at all on
his back."

Finn and his warriors left behind on the hill stared awhile, and then
resolved to go to Ben Edar, now Howth, there to seek for a ship to
follow after Gilla Dacker and his horse, and the fourteen heroes. And on
their way they met two bright-faced youths wearing mantles of scarlet
silk, fastened by brooches of gold, who, saluting the king, told him
their names were Foltlebar and Feradach, and that they were the sons of
the king of Innia, and each possessed an art, and that as they walked
they had disputed whose art was the greater. "And my art," said
Feradach, "is this. If at any time a company of warriors need a ship,
give me only my joiner's axe and my crann-tavall[2], and I am able to
provide a ship without delay. The only thing I ask them to do is
this--to cover their heads close and keep them covered, while I give the
crann-tavall three blows of my axe. Then I tell them to uncover their
heads, and lo, there lies the ship in harbour, ready to sail!"

[2] A sling for projecting stones, strung rather like a cross-bow.

The Foltlebar spoke and said, "This, O king, is the art I profess: On
land I can track the wild duck over nine ridges and nine glens, and
follow her without being once thrown out, till I drop upon her in her
nest. And I can follow up a track on sea quite as well as on land, if I
have a good ship and crew."

And Finn replied, "You are the very men I want; and now I take you both
into my service. Though our own trackmen, the Clan Naim, are good, yet
we now need some one still more skilful to follow the Gilla Dacker
through unknown seas."

To these unknown seas they went, starting from Ben Edar, and sailed away
west for many days over the Atlantic, seeing many strange sights and
passing many unknown islands. But at last the ship stopped short in
front of an island with vast rocky cliffs towering high above their
heads as steep as a sheet of glass, at which the heroes gazed amazed and
baffled, not knowing what to do next. But Dermot O'Dynor--called also
Dermot of the Bright-face--undertook to climb it, for of all the Fermi
he was the most learned in Druidical enchantments, having been early
taught the secret of fairy lore by Mananan Mac Lir, who ruled over the
Inis Manan or Land of Promise.

Dermot accordingly took leave of his friends and climbed the great
cliff, and when he reached the top he found that it was flat and covered
with tall green grass, as is often the case in these desolate wind-blown
Atlantic islets. And in the very centre he found a well with a tall
pillar stone beside it, and beside the pillar stone a drinking-horn
chased with gold. And he took up the drinking-horn to drink, being
thirsty, but the instant he touched the brim with his lips, lo! a great
Wizard Champion armed to the teeth, sprang up out of the earth,
whereupon he and Dermot O'Dynor fought together beside the well the
livelong day until the dusk fell. But the moment the dusk fell, the
wizard champion sprang with a great bound into the middle of the well,
and so disappeared, leaving Dermot standing there much astonished at
what had befallen him.

And the next day the same thing happened, and the next, and the next.
But on the fourth day, Dermot watched his foe narrowly, and when the
dusk came on, and he saw that he was about to spring into the well, he
flung his arms tightly about him, and the wizard champion struggled to
get free, but Dermot held him, and at length they both fell together
into the well, deeper and deeper to the very bottom of the earth, and
there was nothing to be seen but dim shadows, and nothing to be heard
but vague confused sounds like the roaring of waves. At length there
came a glimmering of light, and all at once bright day broke suddenly
around them, and they came out at the other side of the earth, and found
themselves in Tir-fa-ton, the land under the sea, where the flowers
bloom all the year round, and no man has ever so much as heard the
word Death.

What happened there; how Dermot O'Dynor met the other heroes, and how
the fourteen Fenni who had been carried off were at last recaptured,
would be too long to tell. Unlike most of these legends all comes right
in the end; Gilla Dacker and his ugly horse disappear suddenly into
space, and neither Finn himself nor any of his warriors ever see
them again.

It is impossible, I think, to read this, and to an even greater degree
some of the other stories, which have been translated by Mr. Joyce and
others, without perceiving how thoroughly impregnated with old-world and
mythological sentiment they are. An air of all but fabulous antiquity
pervades them, greater perhaps than pervades the legends of any other
north European people. We seem transplanted to a world of the most
primitive type conceivable; a world of myth and of fable, of direct
Nature interpretations, of mythology, in short, pure and simple. Even
those stories which are known to be of later origin exhibit to a greater
or less degree the same character; one which has come down to them
doubtless from earlier half-forgotten tales, of which they are merely
the final and most modern outcome.

When, too, we turn from the legends themselves to the legend-makers,
everything that we know of the position of the bards _(Ollamhs_ or
_Sennachies)_ carries out the same idea. In the earliest times they were
not merely the singers and story-tellers of their race, but to a great
degree they bore a religious or semi-religious character. Like the
Brehons or judges they were the directors and guides of the others, but
they possessed in addition a peculiarly Druidical character of sanctity,
as the inheritors and interpreters of a revelation confided to them
alone. A power the more formidable because no one, probably, had ever
ventured to define its exact character.

The Head bard or Ollamh, in the estimation of his tribesmen, stood next
in importance to the chieftain or king--higher, indeed, in some
respects; for whereas to slay a king might, or might not be criminal, to
slay an Ollamh entailed both outlawing in this life and a vaguer, but
not the less terrible, supernatural penalty in another. Occasionally, as
in the case of the Ollamh Fodla, by whom the halls of Tara are reputed
to have been built, the king was himself the bard, and so combined both
offices, but this appears to have been rare. Even as late as the
sixteenth century, refusal of praise from a bard was held to confer a
far deeper and more abiding stigma upon a man than blame from any other
lips. If they, "the bards," says an Elizabethan writer, "say ought in
dispraise, the gentleman, especially the meere Irish, stand in
great awe."

It is easy, I think, to see this is merely the survival of some far more
potent power wielded in earlier times. In pre-Christian days especially,
the penalty attaching to the curse of a Bard was understood to carry
with it a sort of natural anathema, not unlike the priestly anathema of
later times. Indeed there was one singular, and, as far as I am aware,
unique power possessed by the Irish Bards, which goes beyond any
priestly or papal anathema, and which was known as the _Clann Dichin_, a
truly awful malediction, by means of which the Ollamh, if offended or
injured, could pronounce a spell against the very land of his injurer;
which spell once pronounced that land would produce no crop of any kind,
neither could living creature graze upon it, neither was it possible
even to walk over it without peril, and so it continued until the wrong,
whatever it was, had been repented, and the curse of the Ollamh was
lifted off from the land again.

Is it to be wondered at that men, endowed with such powers of blessing
or banning, possessed of such mystic communion with the then utterly
unknown powers of nature, should have exercised an all but unlimited
influence over the minds of their countrymen, especially at a time when
the powers of evil were still supposed to stalk the earth in all their
native malignity, and no light of any revelation had broken through the
thick dim roof overhead?

Few races of which the world has ever heard are as imaginative as that
of the Celt, and at this time the imagination of every Celt must have
been largely exercised in the direction of the malevolent and the
terrible. Even now, after fourteen hundred years of Christianity, the
Connaught or Kerry peasant still hears the shriek of his early gods in
the sob of the waves or the howling of the autumn storms. Fish demons
gleam out of the sides of the mountains, and the black bog-holes are the
haunts of slimy monsters of inconceivable horror. Even the less directly
baneful spirits such as Finvarragh, king of the fairies, who haunts the
stony slopes of Knockmaa, and all the endless variety of _dii minores_,
the cluricans, banshees, fetches who peopled the primitive forests, and
still hop and mow about their ruined homes, were far more likely to
injure than to benefit unless approached in exactly the right manner,
and with the properly littered conjurations. The Unknown is always the
Terrible; and the more vivid an untaught imagination is, the more
certain it is to conjure up exactly the things which alarm it most, and
which it least likes to have to believe in.



Getting out of this earliest and foggiest period, whose only memorials
are the stones which still cumber the ground, or those subtler traces of
occupation of which philology keeps the key, and pushing aside a long
and uncounted crowd of kings, with names as uncertain as their deeds,
pushing aside, too, the legends and coming to hard fact, we must picture
Ireland still covered for the most part with pathless forests, but here
and there cleared and settled after a rude fashion by rough
cattle-owning tribes, who herded their own cattle and "lifted" their
neighbour's quite in the approved fashion of the Scotch Highlanders up
to a century and a half ago.

Upon the whole, we may fairly conclude that matters were ameliorating
more or less; that the wolves were being killed, the woods cleared--not
as yet in the ferocious wholesale fashion of later days--that a little
rudimentary agriculture showed perhaps here and there in sheltered
places. Sheep and goats grazed then as now over the hills, and herds of
cattle began to cover the Lowlands. The men, too, were possibly
beginning to grow a trifle less like two-legged beasts of prey, though
still rough as the very wolves they hunted; bare-legged, wild-eyed
hunter-herdsmen with--who can doubt it?--flocks of children trooping
vociferously at their heels.

Of the daily life, habits, dress, religion of these people--the direct
ancestors of four-fifths of the present inhabitants of Ireland--we know
unfortunately exceedingly little. It is not even certain, whether human
sacrifices did or did not form--as they certainly did in Celtic
Britain--part of that religion, though there is some evidence that it
did, in which case prisoners taken in battle, or slaves, were probably
the victims.

That a considerable amount of slavery existed in early Celtic Ireland is
certain, though as to the rules by which it was regulated, as of almost
every other detail of the life, we know little or nothing. At the time
of the Anglo-Norman conquest Ireland was said to be full of English
slaves carried off in raids along the coast, and these filibustering
expeditions undoubtedly began in very early times. St. Patrick himself
was thus carried off, and the annalists tell us that in the third
century Cormac Mac Art ravaged the whole western coast of Britain, and
brought away "great stores of slaves and treasures." To how late a
period, too, the earlier conquered races of Ireland, such as the
Formorians, continued as a distinct race from their Milesian conquerors,
and whether they existed as a slave class, or, as seems more probable,
as mere outcasts and vagabonds out of the pale of humanity, liable like
the "Tory" of many centuries later, to be killed whenever caught; all
these are matters on which we have unfortunately only the vaguest hints
to guide us.

The whole texture of society must have been loose and irregular to a
degree that it is difficult for us now to conceive, without central
organization or social cement of any kind. In one respect--that of the
treatment of his women--the Irish Celt seems to have always stood in
favourable contrast to most of the other rude races which then covered
the north of Europe, but as regards the rest there was probably little
difference. Fighting was the one aim of life. Not to have washed his
spear in an adversary's gore, was a reproach which would have been felt
by a full-grown tribesman to have carried with it the deepest and most
lasting ignominy. The very women were not in early times exempt from war
service, nay, probably would have scorned to be so. They fought beside
their husbands, and slew or got slain with as reckless a courage as the
men, and it was not until the time of St. Columba, late in the sixth
century, that a law was passed ordering them to remain in their homes--a
fact which alone speaks volumes both for the vigour and the undying
pugnacity of the race.

While, on the one hand, we can hardly thus exaggerate the rudeness of
this life, we must be careful, on the other, of concluding that these
people were simple barbarians, incapable of discriminating right from
wrong. Men, even the wildest, rarely indeed live entirely without some
law to guide them, and certainly it was so in Ireland. A rule was
growing up and becoming theoretically at any rate, established, many of
the provisions of which startle us by the curious modernness of their
tone, so oddly do they contrast with what we know of the condition of
civilization or non-civilization then existing.

Although this ancient Irish law was not drawn up until long after the
introduction of Christianity, it seems best to speak of it here, as,
though modified by the stricter Christian rule, it in the main depended
for such authority as it possessed upon traditions existing long before;
traditions regarded indeed by Celtic scholars as tracing their origin
beyond the arrival of the first Celt in Ireland, outcomes and survivals,
that is to say, of yet earlier Aryan rule, showing points of resemblance
with the equally Aryan laws of India, a matter of great interest,
carrying our thoughts back along the history of humanity to a time when
those differences which seem now the most inherent and vital were as yet
undreamt of, and not one of the great nations of the modern world were
as much as born.

The two chief books in which this law is contained, the "Book of Aicill"
and the "Senchus-Mor," have only comparatively recently been translated
and made available for English readers. The law as there laid down was
drawn up and administered by the Brehons, who were the judges and the
law-makers of the people, and whose decision was appealed to in all
matters of dispute. The most serious flaw of the system--a very serious
one it will be seen--was that, owing to the scattered and tribal
existence prevailing, there was no strong central rule _behind_ the
Brehon, as there is behind the modern judge, ready and able to enforce
his decrees. At bottom, force, it must not be forgotten, is the sanction
of all law, and there was no available force of any kind then, nor for
many a long day afterwards, in Ireland.

It was, no doubt, owing chiefly to this defective weakness that a system
of fines rather than punishments grew up, one which in later times
caused much scandal to English legal writers. In such a society crime in
fact was hardly recognizable except in the form of an injury inflicted
upon some person or persons. An offence against the State there could
not be, simply because there was no State to be offended. Everything,
from murder down to the smallest and most accidental injury, was
compensated for by "erics" or fines. The amount of these fines was
decided upon by the Brehon, who kept an extraordinary number of
imaginary rulings, descending into the most minute particulars, such as
what fine was to be paid in the case of one person's cat stealing milk
from another person's house, what fine in the case of one woman's bees
stinging another woman, a careful distinction being preserved in this
case between the case in which the sting did or did not draw blood! Even
in the matter of fines it does not seem clear how the penalty was to be
enforced where the person on whom it was inflicted refused to submit and
where there was no one at hand to coerce him successfully.

As regards ownership of land early Irish law is very peculiar, and
requires to be carefully studied. Primogeniture, regarded by all English
lawyers trained under the feudal system as the very basis of
inheritance, was simply unknown. Even in the case of the chieftain his
rights belonged only to himself, and before his death a re-election took
place, when some other of the same blood, not necessarily his eldest
son, or even his son at all, but a brother, first cousin, uncle, or
whoever stood highest in the estimation of the clan, was nominated as
"Tanist" or successor, and received promises of support from the rest.

Elizabethan writers mention a stone which was placed upon a hill or
mound having the shape of a foot cut on it, supposed to be that of the
first chief or ancestor of the race, "upon which stone the Tanist
placing his foot, took oath to maintain all ancient customs inviolably,
and to give up the succession peaceably to his Tanist in due time."

The object of securing a Tanist during the lifetime of the chief was to
hinder its falling to a minor, or some one unfit to take up the
chieftainship, and this continued to prevail for centuries after the
Anglo-Norman invasion, and was even adopted by many owners of English
descent who had become "meere Irish," as the phrase ran, or
"degenerate English."

"The childe being oftentimes left in nonage," says Campion, "could never
defend his patrimony, but by the time he grow to a competent age and
have buried an uncle or two, he also taketh his turn," a custom which,
as he adds, "breedeth among them continual warres."

The entire land belonged to the clan, and was held theoretically in
common, and a redistribution made on the death of each owner, though it
seems doubtful whether so very inconvenient an arrangement could
practically have been adhered to. All sons, illegitimate as well as
legitimate, shared and shared alike, holding the property between them
in undivided ownership. It was less the actual land than the amount of
grazing it afforded which constituted its value. Even to this day a man,
especially in the West of Ireland, will tell you that he has "the grass
of three cows," or "the grass of six cows," as the case may be.

It is curious that the most distinct ancient rules concerning the
excessive extortion of rent are, as has been shown by Sir Henry Maine,
to be found in the "Senchus Mor." Under its regulations three rents are
enumerated--namely, the _rack rent_ to be extorted from one of a strange
tribe; the _fair_ rent from one of the same tribe; and the _stipulated_
rent to be paid equally to either. The Irish clan or sept was a very
loose, and in many cases irregular, structure, embracing even those who
were practically undistinguishable from slaves, yet from none of these
could any but _fair_ or customary rent be demanded. It was only when
those who by no fiction could be supposed to belong to the clan sought
for land that the best price attainable might be extorted and
insisted upon.

In so primitive a state of society such persons were almost sure to be
outcasts, thrown upon the world either by the breaking up of other clans
or by their own misdoings. A man of this class was generally what was
known as a "Fuidhar" or "broken man," and answered in some respects to
the slave or the serf of the early English village community. Like him
he seems to have been his lord's or chief's chattel, and if killed or
injured the fine or "eric" was paid not to his own family, but to his
master. Such men were usually settled by the chief upon the
unappropriated tribal lands over which his own authority tended to
increase. This Fuidhar class from the first seem to have been very
numerous, and depending as they did absolutely upon the chief, there
grew up by degrees that class of armed retainers--kerns and
galloglasses, they were called in later times--who surrounded every
important chief, whether of English or Irish descent, and were by them
quartered forcibly in war time upon others, and so there grew up that
system of "coyne and livery," or forced entertainment for horse and men,
which is to be met with again and again throughout Irish history, and
which undoubtedly was one of the greatest curses of the country, tending
more perhaps than any other single cause to keep its people at the
lowest possible condition of starvation and misery.

No system of representation seems ever to have prevailed in Ireland.
That idea is, in fact, almost purely Teutonic, and seems never to have
sprung up spontaneously amongst any Celtic people. The family was the
real root. Every head of a family ruled his own household, and submitted
in his turn to the rule of his chief. Blood-relationship, including
fosterage, was the only real and binding union; that larger connection
known as the clan or sept, having the smaller one of the family for its
basis, as was the case also amongst the clans of the Scotch highlands.
Theoretically, all members of a clan, high and low alike, were held to
be the descendants of a common ancestor, and in this way to have a real
and direct claim upon one another. If a man was not in some degree akin
to another he was no better than a beast, and might be killed like one
without compunction whenever occasion arose.

Everything thus began and centred around the tribe or sept. The whole
theory of life was purely local. The bare right of existence extended
only a few miles from your own door, to the men who bore the same name
as yourself. Beyond that nothing was sacred; neither age nor sex,
neither life nor goods, not even in later times the churches themselves.
Like his cousin of the Scotch Highlands, the Irish tribesman's life was
one perpetual carnival of fighting, burning, raiding, plundering, and he
who plundered oftenest was the finest hero.

All this must be steadily borne in mind as it enables us to understand,
as nothing else will, that almost insane joy in and lust for fighting,
that marked inability to settle down to orderly life which runs through
all Irish history from the beginning almost to the very end.

Patriotism, too, it must be remembered, is in the first instance only an
idea, and the narrowest of local jealousies may be, and often are, forms
merely of the same impulse. To men living in one of these small isolated
communities, each under the rule of its own petty chieftain, it was
natural and perhaps inevitable that the sense of connection with those
outside their own community should have been remarkably slight, and of
nationality, as we understand the word, quite non-existent. Their own
little circle of hills and valleys, their own forests and pasturage was
their world, the only one practically of which they had any cognizance.
To its scattered inhabitants of that day little Ireland must have seemed
a region of incalculable extent, filled with enemies to kill or to be
killed by; a region in which a man might wander from sunrise to sunset
yet never reach the end, nay, for days together without coming to a
second sea. As Greece to a Greek of one of its smaller states it seemed
vast simply because he had never in his own person explored its limits.




But a new element was about to appear upon the troubled stage, and a new
figure, one whose doings, however liberally we may discount the more
purely supernatural part of them, strikes us even now as little short of
miraculous. There are plenty of heathen countries still; plenty of
missionaries too; but a missionary at whose word an entire island--a
heathen country given up, it must be remembered, to exceedingly heathen
practices--resigns its own creed, and that missionary, too, no king, no
warrior, but a mere unarmed stranger, without power to enforce one of
the decrees he proclaimed so authoritatively, is a phenomenon which we
should find some little difficulty now, or, indeed, at any time, in

In one respect St. Patrick was less fortunate than his equally
illustrious successor, Columba, since he found no contemporary, or
nearly contemporary chronicler, to write his story; the consequence
being that it has become so overgrown with pious myths, so tangled and
matted with portents and miracles, that it is often difficult for us to
see any real substance or outline below them at all.

What little direct knowledge we have is derived from a famous Irish
manuscript known as "The Book of Armagh," which contains, amongst other
things, a Confession and an Epistle, believed by some authorities to
have been actually written by St. Patrick himself, which was copied as
it now stands by a monkish scribe early in the eighth century. It also
contains a life of the saint from which the accounts of his later
historians have been chiefly drawn.

According to the account now generally accepted he was born about the
year 390, though as this would make him well over a hundred at the time
of his death, perhaps 400 would be the safest date; was a native, not as
formerly believed of Gaul, but of Dumbarton upon the Clyde, whence he
got carried off to Ireland in a filibustering raid, became the slave of
one Milcho, an inferior chieftain, and herded his master's sheep upon
the Slemish mountains in Antrim.

Seven or eight years later he escaped, got back to Britain, was
ordained, afterwards went to Gaul, and, according to one account, to
Italy. But the thought of the country of his captivity seems to have
remained upon his mind and to have haunted his sleeping and waking
thoughts. The unborn children of the pagan island seemed to stretch our
their hands for help to him. At last the inward impulse grew too strong
to be resisted, and accompanied by a few followers, he set foot first on
the coast of Wicklow where another missionary, Paladius, had before
attempted vainly to land, and being badly received there, took boat
again, and landed finally at the entrance of Strangford Lough.

From this point he made his way on foot to Meath, where the king
Laoghaire was holding a pagan festival, and stopped to keep Easter on
the hill of Slane where he lit a fire. This fire being seen from the
hill of Tara aroused great anger, as no lights were by law allowed to be
shown before the king's beacon was lit. Laoghaire accordingly sent to
know the meaning of this insolence and to have St. Patrick brought
before him. St. Patrick's chronicler, Maccumacthenius (one could wish
that he had been contented with a shorter name!), tells that as the
saint drew nigh to Tara, many prodigies took place. The earth shook,
darkness fell, and certain of the magicians who opposed him were seized
and tossed into the air. One prodigy certainly took place, for he seems
to have won converts from the first. A large number appear to have been
gained upon the spot, and before long the greater part of Meath had
accepted the new creed, although its king, Laoghaire himself remained a
sturdy pagan until his death.

From Tara St. Patrick went to Connaught, a province to which he seems to
have been drawn from the first, and there spent eight years, founding
many churches and monasteries. There also he ascended Croagh Patrick,
the tall sugar-loaf mountain which stands over the waters of Clew Bay,
and up to the summit of which hundreds of pilgrims still annually climb
in his honour.

From Connaught he next turned his steps to Ulster, visited Antrim and
Armagh, and laid the foundations of the future cathedral and bishopric
in the latter place. Wherever he went converts seem to have come in to
him in crowds. Even the Bards, who had most to lose by the innovation,
appear to have been in many cases drawn over. They and the chiefs
gained, the rest followed unhesitatingly; whole clans were baptized at a
time. Never was spiritual conquest so astonishingly complete!

The tale of St. Patrick's doings; of his many triumphs; his few
failures; of the boy Benignus his first Irish disciple; of his wrestling
upon Mount Cruachan; of King Eochaidh; of the Bard Ossian, and his
dialogues with the apostle, all this has been excellently rendered into
verse by Mr. Aubrey de Vere, whose "Legends of St. Patrick" seem to the
present writer by no means so well known as they ought to be. The second
poem in the series, "The Disbelief of Milcho," especially is one of
great beauty, full of wild poetic gleams, and touches which breathe the
very breath of an Irish landscape. Poetry is indeed the medium best
suited for the Patrician history. The whole tale of the saint's
achievements in Ireland is one of those in which history seems to lose
its own sober colouring, to become luminous and half magical, to take on
all the rosy hues of a myth.

The best proof of the effect of the new revelation is to be found in
that extraordinary burst of enthusiasm which marked the next few
centuries. The passion for conversion, for missionary labour of all
sorts, seems to have swept like a torrent over the island, arousing to
its best and highest point that Celtic enthusiasm and which has never,
unhappily, found such noble exercise since. Irish missionaries flung
themselves upon the dogged might of heathenism, and grappled with it in
a death struggle. Amongst the Picts of the Highlands, amongst the fierce
Friscians of the Northern seas, beside the Lake of Constance, where the
church of St. Gall still preserves the name of another Irish saint, in
the Black Forest, at Schaffhausen, at Würtzburg, throughout, in fact,
all Germany and North Italy, they were ubiquitous. Wherever they went
their own red-hot fervour seems to have melted every obstacle; wherever
they went victory seems to have crowned their zeal[3].

[3] For an account of Irish missionaries in Germany, see Mr.
Baring-Gould's "Germany," in this series, p. 46.

Discounting as much as you choose everything that seems to partake of
pious exaggeration, there can be no doubt that the period which followed
the Christianizing of Ireland was one of those shining epochs of
spiritual and also to a great degree intellectual enthusiasm rare indeed
in the history of the world. Men's hearts, lull of newly--won fervour,
burned to hand on the torch in their turn to others. They went out by
thousands, and they beckoned in their converts by tens of thousands.
Irish hospitality--a quality which has happily escaped the tooth of
criticism--broke out then with a vengeance, and extended its hands to
half a continent. From Gaul, from Britain, from Germany, from dozens of
scattered places throughout the wide dominions of Charlemagne, the
students came; were kept, as Bede expressly tells us, free of cost in
the Irish monasteries, and drew their first inspirations in the Irish
schools. Even now, after the lapse of all these centuries, many of the
places whence they came still reverberate faintly with the memory of
that time.

Before plunging into that weltering tangle of confusion which makes up
what we call Irish history, one may be forgiven for lingering a little
at this point, even at the risk of some slight over-balance of
proportion. With so dark a road before us, it seems good to remember
that the energies of Irishmen were not, as seems sometimes to be
concluded, always and of necessity directed to injuring themselves or
tormenting their rulers! Neither was this period by any means a short
one. It was no mere "flash in the pan;" no "small pot soon hot"
enthusiasm, but a steady flame which burned undimmed for centuries.
"During the seventh and eighth centuries, and part of the ninth," says
Mr. Goldwin Smith, not certainly a prejudiced writer, "Ireland played a
really great part in European history." "The new religious houses," says
Mr. Green in his Short History, "looked for their ecclesiastical
traditions, not to Rome, but to Ireland, and quoted for their guidance
the instructions not of Gregory, but of Columba." "For a time," he adds,
"it seemed as if the course of the world's history was to be changed, as
if that older Celtic race which the Roman and German had swept before
them, had turned to the moral conquest of their conquerors, as if Celtic
and not Latin Christianity was to mould the destinies of the Church of
the West."



At home during the same period the chief events were the founding of
monasteries, and the settling down of monastic communities, every such
monastery becoming the protector and teacher of the little Christian
community in its vicinity, educating its own sons, and sending them out
as a bee sends its swarms, to settle upon new ground, and to fertilize
the flowers of distant harvest fields.

At one time, "The Tribes of the Saints" seem to have increased to such
an extent that they threatened to absorb all others. In West Ireland
especially, little hermitages sprung up in companies of dozens and
hundreds, all over the rock-strewn wastes, and along the sad shores of
the Atlantic, dotting themselves like sea gulls upon barren points of
rock, or upon sandy wastes which would barely have sufficed, one might
think, to feed a goat. We see their remains still--so tiny, yet so
enduring--in the Isles of Arran; upon a dozen rocky points all round the
bleak edges of Connemara; in the wild mountain glens of the Burren--set
often with an admirable selection of site, in some sloping dell with,
perhaps, a stream slipping lightly by and hurrying to lose itself in the
ground, always with a well or spring brimming freshly over--an object
still of reverence to the neighbouring peasants. Thanks to the innate
stability of their material, thanks, too, to the super-abundance of
stone in these regions, which makes them no temptation to the despoiler,
they remain, roofless but otherwise pretty much as they were. We can
look back across a dozen centuries with hardly the change of a detail.

drawing by M. Stokes (after Sir F.W. Burton_).]

In these little western monasteries each cell stood as a rule by itself,
containing--one would say very tightly containing--a single inmate. In
other places, large buildings, however, were erected, and great numbers
of monks lived together. Some of these larger communities are stated to
have actually contained several thousand brethren, and though this
sounds like an exaggeration, there can be no doubt that they were
enormously populous. The native mode of existence lent itself, in fact,
very readily to the arrangement. It was merely the clan or sept
re-organized upon a religious footing. "Les premières grands monastères
de l'Irelande," says M. de Montalembert in his "Moines d'Occident," "ne
furent done autre chose à vrai dire qui des _clans_, reorganisés sous
une forme religieuse." New clans, that is to say, cut out of the old
ones, their fealty simply transferred from a chief to an abbot, who was
almost invariably in the first instance of chieftain blood. "Le prince,
en se faisant moine, devenait naturellement abbé, et restait ainsi dans
la vie monastique, ce qu'il avait èté dans la vie sèculière le chef de
sa race et de son clan."

There was thus nothing to jar with that sense of continuity, that inborn
love of the past, of old ways, old habits, old modes of thought which
made and still makes an Irishman--be he never so pronounced a
republican--the deepest at heart of Conservatives. Whereas every later
change of faith which has been endeavoured to be forced upon the country
has met with a steady and undeviating resistance, Christianity, the
greatest change of all, seems to have brought with it from the first no
sense of dislocation. It assimilated itself quietly, and as it were
naturally, with what it found. Under the prudent guidance of its first
propagators, it simply gathered to itself all the earlier objects of
belief, and with merely the change of a name, sanctified and turned them
to its own uses.




About fifty years after the death of St. Patrick a new missionary arose,
one who was destined to carry the work which he had begun yet further,
to become indeed the founder of what for centuries was the real
metropolis and centre of Western Christendom.

In 521 A.D., St. Columba was born in Donegal, of the royal race, say the
annalists, of Hy-Nial--of the royal race, at any rate, of the great
workers, doers, and thinkers all the world over. In 565, forty-four
years later, he left Ireland with twelve companions (the apostolic
number), and started on his memorable journey to Scotland, a date of
immeasurable importance in the history of Western Christianity.

In that dense fog which hangs over these early times--thick enough to
try even the most penetrating eyesight--there is a curious and
indescribable pleasure in coming upon so definite, so living, so
breathing a figure as that of St. Columba, In writing the early history
of Ireland, one of the greatest difficulties which the historian--great
or small--has to encounter is to be found in that curious unreality,
that tantalizing sense of illusiveness and indefiniteness which seems to
envelope every figure whose name crops up on his pages. Even four
hundred years later the name of a really great prince and warrior like
Brian Boru, or Boruma, awakens no particular sense of reality, nay as
often as not is met by a smile of incredulity. The existence of St.
Columba no one, however, has been found rash enough to dispute! His, in
fact, is one of those essentially self-lit figures which seem to shed
some of their own light upon every other they come in contact with, even
accidentally. Across the waste of centuries we see him almost as he
appeared to his contemporaries. There is something friendly--as it were,
next-door-neighbourly--about the man. If we land to-day on Iona, or
stand in any of the little chapels in Donegal which bear his name, his
presence seems as real and tangible to us as that of Tasso at Ferrara or
Petrarch at Avignon. In spite of that thick--one is inclined to say
rank--growth of miracles which at times confuse Adamnan's fine portrait
of his hero--cover it thick as lichens some monumental slab of
marble--we can still recognize his real lineaments underneath. His great
natural gifts; his abounding energy; his characteristically Irish love
for his native soil; for the beloved "oaks of Derry." We see him in his
goings out and his comings in; we know his faults; his fiery Celtic
temper, swift to wrath, swift to forgive when the moment of anger is
over. Above all, we feel the charm of his abounding humanity. Like
Sterne's Uncle Toby there seems to have been something about St. Columba
which "eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter
under him," and no one apparently ever refused to respond to
that appeal.

One thing it is important hereto have clearly before the mind, as it is
very apt to be overlooked. At the time of St. Columba's ministry,
England, which during the lifetime of St. Patrick had been Roman and
Christian, had now under the iron flail of its Saxon conquerors lapsed
back into Paganism. Ireland, therefore, which for a while had made a
part of Christendom, had been broken short off by the heathen conquest
of Britain. It was now a small, isolated fragment of Christendom, with a
great mass of heathenism between. We can easily imagine what a stimulus
to all the eager enthusiasts of the Faith the consciousness of this
neighbourhood must have been; how keen the desire to rush to the assault
and to replace the Cross where it had been before.

That assault was not, however, begun by Ireland; it was begun, as every
one knows, by St. Augustine, a Roman priest, sent by Pope Gregory, who
landed at Ebbsfleet, in the Isle of Thanet, in the year 597--thirty-two
years after St. Columba left Ireland. If the South of England owes its
conversion to Rome, Northern England owes its conversion to Ireland,
through the Irish colony at Iona. Oswald, the king of Northumbria, had
himself taken refuge in Iona in his youth, and when summoned to reign he
at once called in the Irish missionaries, acting himself, we are told,
as their interpreter. His whole reign was one continuous struggle with
heathenism, and although at his death it triumphed for a time, in the
end the faith and energies of the missionaries carried all before them.
After the final defeat of the Mercians, under their king Penda, at
Winwoed, in 655, the struggle was practically over. Northern and
Southern England were alike once more Christian.

One of the chief agents in this result was the Irish monk Aidan, who had
fixed his seat in the little peninsula of Lindisfarne, and from whose
monastery, as from another Iona, missionaries poured over the North of
England. At Lichfield, Whitby, and many other places religious houses
sprang up, all owing their allegiance to Lindisfarne, and through it to
Iona and Ireland.

In this very fervour there lay the seeds of a new trouble. A serious
schism arose between Western Christendom and the Papacy. Rome, whether
spiritually or temporally, was a name which reverberated with less
awe-inspiring sound in the ears of Irishmen (even Irish Churchmen) than,
probably, in those of any other people at that time on the globe. They
had never come under the tremendous sway of its material power, and
until centuries after this period--when political and, so to speak,
accidental causes drove them into its arms--its spiritual power remained
to them a thing apart, a foreign element to which they gave at most a
reluctant half adhesion.

From this it came about that early in the history of the Western Church
serious divisions sprang up between it and the other churches, already
being fast welded together into a coherent body under the yoke and
discipline of Rome. The points in dispute do not strike us now of any
very vital importance. They were not matters of creed at all, merely of
external rule and discipline. A vehement controversy as to the proper
form of the tonsure, another as to the correct day for Easter, raged for
more than a century with much heat on either side; those churches which
owed their allegiance to Iona clinging to the Irish methods, those who
adhered to Rome vindicating its supreme and paramount authority.

At the Synod of Whitby, held in 664, these points of dispute came to a
crisis, and were adjudicated upon by Oswin, king of Northumbria; Bishop
Colman, Aidan's successor at Holy Island, maintaining the authority of
Columba; Wilfrid, a Saxon priest who had been to Rome, that of St.
Peter. Oswin's own leaning seems at first to have been towards the
former, but when he heard of the great pretensions of the Roman saint he
was staggered. "St. Peter, you say, holds the keys of heaven and hell?"
he inquired thoughtfully, "have they also been given then to St.
Columba?" It was owned with some reluctance that the Irish saint had
been less favoured. "Then I give my verdict for St. Peter," said Oswin,
"lest when I reach the gate of heaven I find it shut, and the porter
refuse to open to me." This sounds prudent, but scarcely serious; it
seems, however, to have been regarded as serious enough by the Irish
monks. The Synod broke up. Colman, with his Irish brethren, and a few
English ones who threw in their lot with them, forsook Lindisfarne, and
sailed away for Ireland. From that moment the rift between them and
their English brethren grew steadily wider, and was never afterwards
thoroughly healed.

It does not, however, seem to have affected the position of the Irish
Church at home, nor yet to have diminished the number of its foreign
converts. Safe in its isolation, it continued to go on in its own way
with little regard to the rest of Christendom, although in respect to
the points chiefly in dispute it after a while submitted to the Roman
decision. Armagh was the principal spiritual centre, but there were
other places, now tiny villages, barely known by name to the tourist,
which were then centres of learning, and recognized as such, not alone
in Ireland itself, but throughout Europe. Clonard, Tallaght Clonmacnois;
Slane in Meath, where Dagobert II. one of the kings of France, was
educated; Kildare, where the sacred fire--not lamp--of St. Bridget was
kept burning for centuries, all are places whose names fill a
considerable space in the fierce dialectical controversy of that fiery
theological age[4].

[4] For an excellent account of early Irish monastic life see "Ireland,
and the Celtic Church," by Professor G. Stokes.

This period of growth slipped all too quickly away, but it has never
been forgotten. It was the golden time to which men looked wistfully
back when growing trouble and discord, attack from without, and
dissension from within, had torn in pieces the unhappy island which had
shone like a beacon through Europe only to become its byword. The
Norsemen had not yet struck prow on Irish strand, and the period between
the Synod of Whitby and their appearance seems to have been really one
of steady moral and intellectual growth. Heathenism no doubt still
lurked in obscure places; indeed traces of it may with no great
difficulty still be discovered in Ireland, but it did not hinder the
light from spreading fast under the stimulus which it had received from
its first founders. The love of letters, too, sprang up with the
religion of a book, and the copying of manuscripts became a passion.


As in Italy and elsewhere, so too in Ireland, the monks were the
painters, the illuminators, the architects, carvers, gilders, and
book-binders of their time. While outside the monastery walls the
fighters were making their neighbours' lives a burden to them, and
beyond the Irish Sea the whole world as then known was being shaken to
pieces and reconstructed, the monk sat placidly inside at his work,
producing chalices, crosiers, gold and silver vessels for the churches,
carving crosses, inditing manuscripts filled with the most marvellously
dexterous ornament; works, which, in spite of the havoc wrought by an
almost unbroken series of devastations which have poured over the doomed
island, still survive to form the treasure of its people. We can have
very little human sympathy, very little love for what is noble and
admirable, if--whatever our creeds or our politics--we fail, as we look
back across that weary waste which separates us from them, to extend our
sympathy and admiration to these early workers--pioneers in a truly
national undertaking which has found only too few imitators since.




While from the fifth to the eighth century the work of the Irish Church
was thus yearly increasing, spreading its net wider and wider, and
numbering its converts by thousands, not much good can be reported of
the secular history of Ireland during the same period. It is for the
most part a confused chronicle of small feuds, jealousies, raids,
skirmishes, retaliations, hardly amounting to the dignity of war, but
certainly as distinctly the antipodes of peace.

The tribal system, which in its earlier stages has been already
explained, had to some degree begun to change its character. The
struggles between the different septs or clans had grown into a struggle
between a number of great chieftains, under whose rule the lesser ones
had come to range themselves upon all important occasions.

As early as the introduction of Christianity Ireland was already divided
into four such aggregations of tribes--kingdoms they are commonly
called--answering pretty nearly to the present four provinces, with the
addition of Meath, which was the appanage of the house of Ulster, and
included West Meath, Longford, and a fragment of the King's County. Of
the other four provinces, Connaught acknowledged the rule of the
O'Connors, Munster that of the O'Briens, Leinster of the McMurroughs,
and Ulster of the O'Neills, who were also in theory over-kings, or, as
the native word was, Ard-Reaghs of the entire island.


Considering what a stout fighting race they proved in later
ages--fighting often when submission would have been the wiser
policy--it is curious that in early days these O'Neills or Hy-Nials seem
to have been but a supine race. For centuries they were titular kings of
Ireland, yet during all that time they seem never to have tried to
transform their faint, shadowy sceptre into a real and active one.
Malachy or Melachlin, the rival of Brian Boru, seems to have been the
most energetic of the race, yet he allowed the sceptre to be plucked
from his hands with an ease which, judging by the imperfect light shed
by the chroniclers over the transaction, seems to be almost

It is difficult to say how far that light, for which the Irish
monasteries were then celebrated, extended to the people of the island
at large. With one exception, little that can be called cultivation is,
it must be owned, discoverable, indeed long centuries after this Irish
chieftains we know were innocent of the power of signing their own
names. That exception was in the case of music, which seems to have been
loved and studied from the first. As far back as we can see him the
Irish Celt was celebrated for his love of music. In one of the earliest
extant annals a _Cruit_, or stringed harp, is described as belonging to
the Dashda, or Druid chieftain. It was square in form, and possessed
powers wholly or partly miraculous. One of its strings, we are told,
moved people to tears, another to laughter. A harp in Trinity College,
known as the harp of Brian Boru, is said to be the oldest in Europe, and
has thirty strings. This instrument has been the subject of many
controversies. O'Curry doubts it having belonged to Brian Boru, and
gives his reasons for believing that it was among the treasures of
Westminster when Henry VIII. came to the throne in 1509, and that it
suggested the placing of the harp in the arms of Ireland, and on the
"harp grotes," a coinage of the period. However this may be we cannot
doubt that music had early wrought itself into the very texture and
fabric of Irish life; airs and words, wedded closely together,
travelling down from mouth to mouth for countless generations. Every
little valley and district may be said to have had its own traditional
melodies, and the tunes with which Moore sixty years ago was delighting
critical audiences had been floating unheeded and disregarded about the
country for centuries.

The last ten years of the eighth century were very bad ones for Ireland.
Then for the first time the black Viking ships were to be seen sweeping
shore-wards over the low grey waves of the Irish Channel, laden with
Picts, Danes, and Norsemen, "people," says an old historian, "from their
very cradles dissentious, Land Leapers, merciless, soure, and hardie."
They descended upon Ireland like locusts, and where-ever they came ruin,
misery, and disaster followed.

[Illustration: KILBANNON TOWER. _(From a drawing by George. Petrie,

Their first descent appears to have been upon an island, probably that
of Lambay, near the mouth of what is now Dublin harbour. Returning a few
years later, sixty of their ships, according to the Irish annalists,
entered the Boyne, and sixty more the Liffy. These last were under the
command of a leader who figures in the annals as Turgesius, whose
identity has never been made very clear, but who appears to be the same
person known to Norwegian historians as Thorkels or Thorgist.

Whatever his name he was undoubtedly a bad scourge to Ireland. Landing
in Ulster, he burned the cathedral of Armagh, drove out St. Patrick's
successors, slaughtered the monks, took possession of the whole east
coast, and marching into the centre of the island, established himself
in a strong position near Athlone.

Beyond all other Land Leapers, this Thorgist, or Turgesius, seems to
have hated the churches. Not content with burning them, and killing all
priests and monks he could find, his wife, we are told, took possession
of the High Altar at Clonmacnois, and used it as a throne from which to
give audience, or to utter prophecies and incantations. He also exacted
a tribute of "nose money," which if not paid entailed the forfeit of the
feature it was called after. At last three or four of the tribes united
by despair rose against him, and he was seized and slain; an event about
which several versions are given, but the most authentic seems to be
that he was taken by stratagem and drowned in Lough Owel, near
Mullingar, in or about the year 845.

He was not, unfortunately, the last of the Land Leapers! More and more
they came, sweeping in from the north, and all seem to have made direct
for the plunder of the monasteries, into which the piety of centuries
had gathered most of the valuables of the country. The famous round
towers, or "Clocthech" of Ireland, have been credited with a hundred
fantastic origins, but are now known not to date from earlier than about
the eighth or ninth century, are always found in connection with
churches or monasteries, and were unquestionably used as defences
against these northern invaders. At the first sight of their unholy
prows, rising like water snakes above the waves, all the defenceless
inmates and refugees, all the church plate and valuables, and all sickly
or aged brothers were hurried into these monastic keeps; the doors--set
at a height of from ten to twenty feet above the ground--securely
closed, the ladders drawn up, food supplies having been no doubt already
laid in, and a state of siege began.

It is a pity that the annalists, who tell us so many things we neither
care to hear nor much believe in, should have left us no record of any
assault of the Northmen against one of these redoubtable towers. Even at
the present day they would, without ammunition, be remarkably difficult
nuts to crack; indeed, it is hard to see how their assault could have
been successfully attempted, save by the slow process of starvation, or
possibly by fires kindled immediately below the entrance, and so by
degrees smoking out their inmates.

[Illustration: KELLS ROUND TOWER. _(From a drawing by George Petrie,

If any one ever succeeded in getting into them, we may be sure the Land
Leapers did! Before long they appear to have gathered nearly the whole
spoil of the country into the towns, which they built and fortified for
themselves at intervals along the coast. Cork, Waterford, Limerick,
Wexford, and Dublin, all owe their origin in the first instance to the
Northmen; indeed it is a curious fact that Dublin can never be said,
save for very short periods to have belonged to the Irish at all. It was
first the capital of their northern invaders, and afterwards that, of
course, of the English Government.

Three whole centuries the Danish power lasted, and internecine war
raged, a war during which almost every trace of earlier civilizing
influences, all those milder habits and ways of thought, which
Christianity had brought in and fostered, perished well-nigh utterly.
The ferocity of the invaders communicated itself to the invaded, and the
whole history is one confused and continual chronicle of horrors and

An important distinction must be made at this point between the effects
of the Northern invasion in England and in Ireland. In the former the
invaders and natives became after a while more or less assimilated, and,
under Canute, an orderly government, composed of both nationalities,
was, we know, established. In Ireland this was never the case. The
reason, doubtless, is to be found in the far closer similarity of race
in the former case than the latter. In Ireland the "Danes," as they are
popularly called, were always strangers, heathen tyrants, hated and
despised oppressors, who retorted this scorn and hatred in the fullest
possible measure upon their antagonists. From the moment of their
appearance down to the last we hear of them--as long, in fact, as the
Danes of the seaport towns retained any traces of their northern
origin--so long they continued to be the deadly foes of the rest of
the island.

Even where the Northmen accepted Christianity, it does not appear to
have had any strikingly ameliorating effect Thus we read that Godfrid,
son of Sitric, embraced Christianity in 948, and in the very next year
we discover that he plundered and burnt all the churches in East Meath,
killing over a hundred people who had taken refuge in them, and carrying
off a quantity of captives. Land-leaping, too, continued in full force.
"The godless hosts of pagans swarming o'er the Northern Sea," continued
to arrive in fresh and fresh numbers from their inexhaustible
Scandinavian breeding grounds--from Norway, from Sweden, from Denmark,
even, it is said, from Iceland. The eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries
are, in fact, the great period all over Europe for the incursions of the
Northmen--high noon, so to speak, for those fierce and roving sons of
plunder,--"People," says an old historian quaintly, "desperate in
attempting the conquest of other Realmes, being very sure to finde
warmer dwellings anywhere than in their own homes."



At last a time came for their oppression to be cut short in Ireland. Two
valiant defenders sprang almost simultaneously into note. One of these
was Malachy, or Melachlin, the Ard-Reagh and head of the O'Neills, the
same Malachy celebrated by Moore as having "worn the collar of gold
which he won from the proud invader." The other, Brian Boroimhe,
commonly known to English writers as Brian Boru, a chieftain of the
royal Dalcassian race of O'Brien, and the most important figure by far
in Irish native history, but one which, like all others, has got so
fogged and dimmed by prejudice and misstatement, that to many people his
name seems hardly to convey any sense of reality at all.

Poor Brian Boru! If he could have guessed that he would have come to be
regarded, even by some who ought to know better, as a sort of giant
Cormoran or Eat-'em-alive-oh! a being out of a fairy tale, whom nobody
is expected to take seriously; nay, as a symbol, as often as not, for
ridiculous and inflated pretension. No one in his own day doubted his
existence; no one thought of laughing at his name. Had they done so,
their laughter would have come to a remarkably summary conclusion!

Brian Boroimhe, Boruma, or Boru--his name is written in all three
ways--was not only a real man, but he was, what was more important, a
real king, and not a mere simulacrum or walking shadow of one, like most
of those who bore the name in Ireland. For once, for the only time as
far as its native history is concerned, there was some one at the helm
who knew how to rule, and who, moreover, did rule. His proceedings were
not, it must be owned, invariably regulated upon any very strict rule of
equity. He meant to be supreme, and to do so it was necessary to wrest
the power from the O'Neills upon the one hand, and from the Danes on the
other, and this he proceeded with the shortest possible delay to do.

He had a hard struggle at first. Munster had been overrun by the Danes
of Limerick, who had defeated his brother, Mahon, king of Munster, and
forced him to pay tribute. Brian himself, scorning to submit to the
tyrants, had taken to the mountains with a small band of followers.
Issuing from this retreat, he with some difficulty induced his brother
once more to confront the aggressors. An important battle was fought at
Sulcost, near Limerick, in the year 968, in which the Danes were
defeated, and fled back in confusion to their walls, the Munster men,
under Brian, following fast at their heels, and entering at the same
time. The Danish town was seized, the fighting men were put to the
sword, the remainder fled or were enslaved.

[Illustration: BASE OF TCAM CROSS.]

Mahon being some years afterwards slain, not by the Danes, but by
certain treacherous Molloys and O'Donovans, who had joined themselves
with him, Brian succeeded to the sovereignty of Munster, and shortly
afterwards seized upon the throne of Cashel, which, upon the alternate
system then prevailing, was at that time reigned over by one of the
Euganian house of Desmond. Having avenged his brother's murder upon the
O'Donovans, he next proceeded to overrun Leinster, rapidly subdued
Ossory, and began to stretch out his hands towards the sovereignty of
the island.

In the meantime the over-king, Malachy, had defeated the Danes at the
battle of Tara, and was consequently in high honour, stronger apparently
then any of his predecessors had been. In spite of this Brian by degrees
prevailed. With doubtful patriotism he left the Danes for a while
unpursued, attacked Meath, overran and wasted Connaught, and returning
suddenly burnt the royal stronghold of Tara. After a long and wearisome
struggle, Malachy yielded, and allowed Brian to become Ard-Reagh in his
place, retaining only his own ancestral dominions of Meath. He seems to
have been a placable, easy-going many "loving," say the annalists, "to
ride a horse that had never been handled or ridden," and caring more for
this than for the cares of the State.

After this, Brian made what may be called a royal progress through the
country, receiving the submission of the chiefs and inferior kings, and
forcing them to acknowledge his authority. In speaking of him as king of
Ireland, which in a sense he undoubtedly was, we must be careful of
letting our imaginations carry us into any exaggerated idea of what is
meant by that word. His name, "Brian of the Tribute," is our safest
guide, and enables us to understand what was the position of even the
greatest and most successful king under the Celtic system. It was the
exact opposite of the feudal one, and this difference proved the source
in years to come of an enormous amount of misconception, and of fierce
accusations of falsehood and treachery flung profusely from both sides.
The position of the over-king or Ard-Reagh was more nearly allied to
that of the early French suzerain or the German emperor. He could call
upon his vassal or tributary kings to aid him in war times or in any
sudden emergency, but, as regards their internal arrangements--the
government, misgovernment, or non-government of their several
sub-kingdoms--they were free to act as they pleased, and he was not
understood to have any formal jurisdiction.

For all that Brian was an unmistakable king, and proved himself to be
one. He defeated the Danes again and again, reducing even those
inveterate disturbers of the peace to a forced quiescence; entered
Dublin, and remained there some time, taking, say the annalists,
"hostages and treasure." By the year 1002 Ireland had a master, one
whose influence made itself felt over its whole surface. For twelve
years at least out of its distracted history the country knew the
blessings of peace. Broken by defeat the Danish dwellers of the seaport
towns began to turn their energies to the milder and more pacific
activities of trade. The ruined monasteries were getting rebuilt;
prosperity was beginning to glimmer faintly upon the island; the chiefs,
cowed into submission, abstained from raiding, or confined their raids
to discreeter limits. Fortresses were being built, roads made, and
bridges repaired in three at least of the provinces. Another twenty
years of Brian's rule and the whole future history of Ireland might have
been a different one.

[Illustration: Doorway of Killeshin Church, Co. Carlow. (_From a

It was not to be however. The king was now old, and the work that he had
begun, and which, had he been followed by a successor like himself,
might have been accomplished, was destined to crumble like a half-built
house. The Danes began to stir again. A rebellion had sprung up in
Leinster, the coast-line of which was strong-holded at several points
with Danish towns. This rebellion they not only aided with their own
strength, but further appealed for assistance to their kinsmen in
Northumbria, Man, the Orkneys, and elsewhere, who responded by sending a
large force under Brodar, a Viking, and Sigurd Earl of Orkney to
their aid.

This force Brian gathered all his energies to oppose. With his own
Munster clansmen, aided by all the fighting men of Meath and Connaught,
with his five sons and with his old rival, King Malachy of Meath,
fighting under his banner, he marched down to the strand of Clontarf,
which stretches from the north of Dublin to the out-jutting promontory
of Howth, and there, upon Good Friday, 1014, he encountered his Leinster
rebels and the Viking host of invaders, ten thousand strong it is said,
and a great battle was fought, a battle which, beginning before the
dawn, lasted till the sun was beginning to sink.

To understand the real importance of this battle, we must first fully
realize to ourselves what a very old quarrel this was. For three long
weary centuries Ireland had been lying bound and broken under the heel
of her pagan oppressors, and only with great difficulty and partially
had escaped within the last fifteen or sixteen years. Every wrong,
outrage, and ignominy that could be inflicted by one people upon another
had been inflicted and would most assuredly be inflicted again were this
battle, now about to be fought, lost.

Nor upon the other side were the motives much less strong. The Danes of
Dublin under Sitric stood fiercely at bay. Although their town was still
their own, all the rest of the island had escaped from the grasp of
their race. Whatever Christianity they may occasionally have assumed was
all thrown to the winds upon this great occasion. The far-famed pagan
battle flag, the Raven Standard, was unfurled, and floated freely over
the host. The War-arrow had been industriously sent round to all the
neighbouring shores, peopled largely at that time with men of Norse
blood. As the fleet swept south it had gathered in contingents from
every island along the Scotch coast, upon which Viking settlements had
been established. Manx men, too, and men from the Scandinavian
settlements of Angelsea, Danes under Carle Canuteson, representatives,
in fact, of all the old fighting pagan blood were there, and all
gathered together to a battle at once of races and of creeds.

On the Irish side the command had been given by Brian to Morrogh, his
eldest son, who fifteen years before had aided his father in gaining a
great victory over these same Dublin Danes at a place called Glenmama,
not far from Dunlaven. The old king himself abstained from taking any
part in the battle. Perhaps because he wished his son--who already had
been appointed his successor--to have all the glory and so to fix
himself yet more deeply in the hearts of his future subjects; perhaps
because he felt that his strength might not have carried him through the
day; perhaps--the annalists say this is the reason--because the day
being Good Friday he preferred praying for his cause rather than
fighting for it. Whatever the reason it is certain that he remained in
his tent, which was pitched on this occasion not far from the edge of
the great woods which then covered all the rising ground to the
north-west of Dublin, beginning at the bank of the river Liffy.

The onset was not long delayed. The Vikings under Sigurd and Brodar
fought as only Vikings could fight. Like all battles of that period it
resolved itself chiefly into a succession of single combats, which raged
all over the field, extending, it is said, for over two miles along the
strand. The Danish women, and the men left to guard the town, crowded
the roofs, remaining all day to watch the fight. Sigurd of Orkney was
killed in single combat by Thorlogh, the son of Morrogh, and grandson of
Brian; Armud and several of the other Vikings fell by the hand of
Morrogh, but in the end the father and son were both slain, although the
latter survived long enough to witness the triumph of his own side.

Late in the afternoon the Northmen broke and fled; some to their ships,
some into the town, some into the open country beyond. Amongst the
latter Brodar, the Viking, made for the great woods, and in so doing
passed close to where the tent of the king had been fixed. The
attendants left to guard Brian had by this time one by one slipped away
to join the fight, and the old man was almost alone, and kneeling, it is
said, at the moment on a rug in the front of his tent. The sun was low,
but the slanting beams fell upon his bent head and long white beard. One
of Brodar's followers perceived him and pointed him out to his leader,
saying that it was the king. "King, that is no king, that is a monk, a
shaveling!" retorted the Viking. "It is not, it is Brian himself," was
the answer.

Then Brodar caught his axe and rushed upon Brian. Taken unawares the
king nevertheless rallied his strength which in his day had been greater
than that of any man of his time, and still only half risen from his
knees he smote the Viking a blow across the legs with his sword. The
other thereupon lifted his battle-axe, and smote the king upon his head,
cleaving it down to the chin, then fled to the woods, but was caught the
next day and hacked into pieces by some of the infuriated Irish.

So fell Brian in the very moment of victory, and when the combined
league of all his foes had fallen before him. When the news reached
Armagh, the bishop and his clergy came south as far as Swords, in Meath,
where they met the corpse of the king and carried it back to Armagh,
where he was buried, say the annalists, "in a new tomb" with much
weeping and lamentation.




Whatever lamentations were uttered on this occasion were certainly not
uncalled for, for a greater disaster has rarely befallen any country or
people. Were proof wanted--which it hardly is--of that notorious
ill-luck which has dogged the history of Ireland from the very
beginning, it would be difficult to find a better one than the result of
this same famous battle of Clontarf. Here was a really great victory, a
victory the reverberation of which rang through the whole Scandinavian
world, rejoicing Malcolm of Scotland, who without himself striking a
blow, saw his enemies lying scotched at his feet, so scotched in fact,
that after the defeat of Clontarf they never again became a serious
peril. Yet as regards Ireland itself what was the result? The result was
that all those ligaments of order which were beginning slowly to wind
themselves round it, were violently snapped and scattered to the four
winds. As long as Brian's grasp was over it Ireland was a real kingdom,
with limitations it is true, but still with a recognized centre, and
steadily growing power of combined and concerted action. At his death
the whole body politic was once more broken up, and resolved itself into
its old anarchic elements again.

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF CORMAC'S CHAPEL, CASHEL. (_From a Drawing by
Miss M. Stokes_.)]

It would have been better far for the country had Brian been defeated,
so that he, his son Morrogh, or any capable heir had survived, better
for it indeed had he never ruled at all if this was to be end. By his
successful usurpation the hereditary principle--always a weak one in
Ireland--was broken down. The one chance of a settled central government
was thus at an end. Every petty chief and princeling all over the island
felt himself capable of emulating the achievements of Brian. It was one
of those cases which success and only success justifies. Ireland was
pining, as it had always pined, as it continued ever afterwards to pine,
for a settled government; for a strong central rule of some sort. The
race of Hy-Nial had been titular kings for centuries, but they had never
held the sovereignty in anything but name. Pushing their claims aside,
and gathering all power into his own hands Brian had acted upon a small
stage the part of Charlemagne centuries earlier upon a large one. He had
succeeded, and in his success lay his justification. With his death,
however, the whole edifice which he had raised crumbled away, and
anarchy poured in after it like a torrent. A struggle set in at once for
the sovereignty, which ended by not one of Brian's sons but the deposed
King Malachy being set upon the throne. Like his greater rival he was
however by this time a very old man. His spirit had been broken, and
though the Danes had been too thoroughly beaten to stir, other elements
of disorder abounded. Risings broke out in two of the provinces at once,
and at his death the confusion became confounded. As a native
rhyme runs:

     "After Malachy, son of Donald,
     Each man ruled his own tribe,
     But no man ruled Erin."

Henceforward throughout the rather more than a century and a half which
intervened between the battle of Clontarf and the Norman invasion,
Ireland remained a helpless waterlogged vessel, with an unruly crew,
without rudder or compass, above all, without a captain. The house of
O'Brien again pushed its way to the front, but none of Brian's
descendants who survived the day of Clontarf seem to have shown a trace
even of his capacity. A fierce feud broke out shortly after between
Donchad, his son, and Turlough, one of his grandsons, and each
successively caught at the helm, but neither succeeding in obtaining the
sovereignty of the entire island. After the last-named followed
Murhertach also of the Dalcassian house, at whose death the rule once
more swung round to the house of Hy-Nial and Donald O'Lochlin reigned
nominally until his death in 1121. Next the O'Connors, of Connaught,
took a turn at the sovereignty, and seized possession of Cashel which
since its capture by Brian Boroimhe had been the exclusive appanage of
the Dalcassians. Another O'Lochlin, of the house of O'Neill, then
appears prominently in the fray, and by 1156, seems to have succeeded in
seizing the over-lordship of the island, and so the tale goes on--a
wearisome one, unrelieved by even a transitory gleam of order or
prosperity. At last it becomes almost a relief when we reach the name of
Roderick O'Connor, and know that before his death fresh actors will have
entered upon the scene, and that the confused and baffling history of
Ireland will, at all events, have entered upon a perfectly new stage.




The invasion of Ireland by the Anglo-Normans differs in several respects
from other invasions and conquests, not the least singular feature about
it being that nearly the whole of that famous band of knightly
adventurers who took part in it, and to whose audacity it was in the
first instance due, were more or less closely related to one another,
either as brothers, nephews, uncles, or cousins. The connecting link
between these variously-named relations was one Nesta, princess of South
Wales, daughter of a Welsh king, Rice ap Tudor, a heroine whose
adventures are of a sufficiently striking, not to say startling,
character. By dint of a succession of alliances, some regular, others
highly irregular, she became the ancestress of nearly all the great
Anglo-Norman families in Ireland. Of these the Fitzgeralds, Carews,
Barrys, and Cogans, are descended from her first husband, Gerald of
Windsor. Robert FitzStephen, who plays, as will presently be seen, a
prominent part in the conquest, was the son of her second husband,
Stephen, the Castlelan of Abertivy, while Robert and Meiler FitzHenry,
of whom we shall also hear, are said to have been the sons of no less a
person than King Henry I. of England.


Conspicuous amongst this band of knights and adventurers was one who was
himself no knight, but a priest and the self-appointed chronicler of the
rest, Gerald de Barri--better known as Gerald of Wales, or Giraldus
Cambrensis, who was the grandson of Nesta, through her daughter

Giraldus is one of those writers whom, to tell the truth, we like a
great deal better than they deserve. He is prejudiced to the point of
perversity, and gullible almost to sublimity, uncritical even for an
eminently uncritical age, accepting and retailing any and every
monstrous invention, the more readily apparently in proportion to its
monstrosity. For all that--despite his prejudices, despite even his
often deliberate perversion of the truth, it is difficult to avoid a
certain kindliness for him. To the literary student he is indeed a
captivating figure. With his half-Welsh, half-Norman blood; with the
nimble, excitable, distinctly Celtic vein constantly discernible in him;
with a love of fighting which could hardly have been exceeded by the
doughtiest of the knights, his cousins and brothers; with a pen that
seems to fly like an arrow across the page; with a conceit which knows
neither stint nor limit, he is the most entertaining, the most vividly
alive of chroniclers; no historian certainly in any rigid sense of the
word, but the first, as he was also unquestionably the chief and prince
of war correspondents.

Whether we like him or not, we at any rate cannot dispense with him,
seeing that nearly everything we know of the Ireland of the Conquest, we
know from those marvellous pages of his, which, if often exasperating,
are at any rate never dull. In them, as in a mirror, we see how, when,
and where the whole plan of the campaign was laid; who took part in it;
what they said, did, projected; their very motives and thoughts--the
whole thing stands out fresh and alive as if it had happened yesterday.

There were no lack of motives, any of which would have been temptation
enough for invasion. To the pious it took on the alluring guise of a
Crusade. The Irish Church, which had obtained such glowing fame in its
early days, had long since, as we have seen, grown into very bad repute
with Rome. Despite that halo of early sanctity, she was held to be
seriously tainted with heresy. She allowed bishops to be irregularly
multiplied, and consecrated contrary to the Roman rule by one bishop
only; tithes and firstfruits were not collected with any regularity;
above all, the collection of Peter's pence, being the sum of one penny
due from every household, was always scandalously in arrears, nay, often
no attempt was made to collect it at all. She did many wrong things, but
it may shrewdly be suspected that this was one of the very worst
of them.


It is not a little edifying at this juncture to find the Danes of Dublin
amongst those who were enlisted upon the orthodox side. Cut off by
mutual hatred rather than theological differences from the Church of
Ireland, they had for some time back been regularly applying to
Canterbury for their supply of priests. These priests upon being sent
over painted the condition of Irish heterodoxy in tints of the deepest
black for their own countrymen. Even before this there had been grave
complaints. Lanfranc, Anselm, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, all had had
their theological ire aroused against the Irish recusants. Many of the
Irish ecclesiastics themselves seem to have desired that closer union
with Rome, which could only be brought about by bringing Ireland under
the power of a sworn son of the Church. Henry I--little as that most
secular-minded of monarchs cared probably for the more purely
theological question--was fully alive to its value as supporting his own
claims. He obtained from Pope Hadrian IV. (the Englishman Brakespeare),
a Bull sanctioning and approving of the conquest of Ireland as prompted
by "the ardour of faith and love of religion," in which Bull he is
desired to enter the island and therein execute "whatever shall pertain
to the honour of God, and the welfare of the land."

Fourteen years elapsed before the enterprise thus warmly commended was
carried into effect. The story of Dermot McMurrough, king of Leinster,
and his part in the invasion, has often been told, and does not, I
think, need dwelling upon at any great length. He was a brutal,
violent-tempered savage, detested in his own country, and especially by
his unfortunate subjects in Leinster. How he foully wronged the honour
of O'Rorke, a chieftain of Connaught; how, for this and other offences,
he was upon the accession of Roderick O'Connor driven away from Ireland;
how he fled to England to do homage to Henry, and seek his protection;
how, finding him gone to Aquitaine, he followed him there, and in return
for his vows of allegiance received letters authorizing the king's
subjects to enlist if they choose for the Irish service; how armed with
these he went to Wales, and there succeeded in recruiting a band of
mixed Norman and Norman-Welsh adventurers--all this is recorded at large
in the histories.

Of the recruits thus enlisted, the most important was Robert de Clair,
Earl of Pembroke and Chepstow, nicknamed by his contemporaries,
Strongbow, whom Dermot met at Bristol, and won over by a double
bribe--the hand, namely, of his daughter Eva, and the succession to the
sovereignty of Leinster--a succession which, upon the Irish mode of
election, he had, it may be observed, no shadow of right to dispose of.

Giraldus, who seems to have been himself in Wales at the time, speaks
sentimentally of the unfortunate exile, and describes him inhaling the
scent of his beloved country from the Welsh coast, and feasting his eyes
tenderly upon his own land: "Although the distance," he more prosaically
adds, "being very great, it was difficult to distinguish mountains from
clouds." As a matter of fact, Dermot McMurrough, we may be sure, was not
the person to do anything of the sort. He was simply hungry--as a wild
beast or a savage is hungry--for revenge, and would have plunged into
any number of perjuries, or have bound himself to give away any amount
of property he had no right to dispose of in order to get it. He could
safely trust, too, he knew, to the ignorance of his new allies as to
what was or was not a legal transfer in Ireland.

His purpose achieved, "inflamed," says Giraldus, "with the desire to see
his native land," but really the better to concoct his plans, he
returned home, landing a little south of Arklow Head, and arriving at
Ferns, where he was hospitably entertained during the winter by its
bishop. The following spring, in the month of May, the first instalment
of the invaders arrived under Robert FitzStephen, a small fleet of Welsh
boats landing them in a creek of the bay of Bannow, where a chasm
between the rocks was long known as "FitzStephen's stride."

Here they were met by Donald McMurrough, son of Dermot, and ten days
later drew up under the walls of Wexford, having so far encountered no

In this old Danish town a stout fight was made. The townsfolk, no longer
Vikings but simple traders, did what they could in their own defence.
They burnt their suburbs, consisting doubtless of rude wooden huts; shut
the gates, and upon the first two assaults drove back the assailants. So
violently were they repelled, "that they withdrew," Giraldus tells us,
"in all great haste from the walls." His own younger brother, Robert de
Barri, was amongst the wounded, a great stone falling upon his helmet
and tumbling him headlong into one of the ditches, from the effects of
which blow, that careful historian informs us incidentally, "Sixteen
years later all his jaw teeth fell out!"

Next morning, after mass, they renewed the assault; this time with more
circumspection. Now there were at that time, as it happened, two bishops
in the town, who devoted their energies to endeavouring to induce the
citizens to make peace. In this attempt they were successful, more
successful than might have been expected with men descended from the old
Land Leapers. Wexford opened its gates, its townsmen submitting to
Dermot, who thereupon presented the town to his allies, FitzStephen,
true to his Norman instincts, proceeding forthwith to build a castle
upon the rock of Carneg, at the narrowest point of the river Slaney, the
first of that large crop of castles which subsequently sprang up upon
Irish soil.

The next sharers of the struggle were the wild Ossory clans, who
gathered to the defence of their territory under Donough McPatrick, an
old and especially hated enemy of Dermot's. The latter had now three
thousand men at his back, in addition to his Welsh and Norman allies.
The Ossory men fought, as Giraldus admits, with furious valour, but upon
rashly venturing out of their own forests into the open, were charged by
FitzStephen, whose horsemen defeated them, killing a great number, over
two hundred heads being collected and laid at the feet of Dermot, who,
"turning them over, one by one, to recognize them, lifted his hands to
heaven in excess of joy, and with a loud voice returned thanks to God
most High." So pious was Dermot!

After this, finding that the country at large was beginning to take some
note of their proceedings, the invaders fell back upon Ferns, which they
fortified according to the science of the age under the superintendence
of Robert FitzStephen. Roderick O'Connor, the Ard-Reagh, was by this
time not unnaturally beginning to get alarmed, and had gathered his men
together against the invaders. The winter, however, was now at hand, and
a temporary peace was accordingly patched up; Leinster being restored to
Dermot on condition of his acknowledging the over-lordship of Roderick.
Giraldus recounts at much length the speeches made upon both sides on
this occasion; the martial addresses to the troops, the many classical
and flowery quotations, which last he is good enough to bestow upon the
unlucky Roderick no less than upon his own allies. Seeing, probably,
that all were alike imaginary, it is hardly necessary to delay to
record them.

The next to arrive upon the scene was Maurice Fitzgerald, half brother
of Robert FitzStephen and uncle of Giraldus. Strongbow meanwhile was
still upon the eastern side of the channel awaiting the return of his
uncle, Hervey de Montmorency, whom he had sent over to report upon the
condition of affairs. Even after Hervey's return bringing with him a
favourable report, he had still the king's permission to gain. Early in
1170 he again sought Henry and this time received an ambiguous reply,
which, however, he chose to interpret in his own favour. He sent back
Hervey to Ireland, accompanied by Raymond Fitzgerald, surnamed Le Gros,
and a score of knights with some seventy archers. These, landing in
Kilkenny, entrenched themselves, and being shortly afterwards attacked
by the Danes of Waterford, defeated them with great slaughter, seizing a
number of prisoners. Over these prisoners a dispute arose; Raymond was
for sparing their lives, Hervey de Montmorency for slaying. The
eloquence of the latter prevailed. "The citizens," says Giraldus, "as
men condemned, had their limbs broken and were cast headlong into the
sea and so drowned."

Shortly after this satisfactory beginning, Strongbow himself appeared
with reinforcements. He attacked Waterford, which was taken after a
short but furious resistance, and the united forces of Dermot and the
Earl marched into the town, where the marriage of the latter with Eva,
Dermot's daughter, was celebrated, as Maclise has represented it in his
picture, amid lowering smoke and heaps of the dead and dying.

Dermot was now on the top of the wave. With his English allies and his
own followers he had a considerable force around him. Guiding the latter
through the Wicklow mountains, which they would probably have hardly got
through unaided, he descended with them upon Dublin, and despite the
efforts of St. Lawrence O'Toole, its archbishop, to effect a pacific
arrangement, the town was taken by assault. The principal Danes, with
Hasculph, their Danish governor, escaped to their ships and sailed
hastily away for the Orkneys.

Meath was the next point to be attacked. O'Rorke, the old foe of Dermot,
who held it for King Roderick, was defeated; whereupon, in defiance of
his previous promises, Dermot threw off all disguise and proclaimed
himself king of Ireland, upon which Roderick, as the only retaliation
left in his power, slew Dermot's son who had been deposited in his hands
as hostage.

It was now Strongbow's aim to hasten back and place his new lordship at
the feet of his sovereign, already angry and jealous at such unlocked
for and uncountenanced successes. He was not able however to do so at
once. Hasculph the Dane returned suddenly with sixty ships, and a large
force under a noted Berserker of the day, known as John the Mad,
"warriors," says Giraldus, "armed in Danish fashion, having long
breast-plates and shirts of mail, their shields round and bound about
with iron. They were iron-hearted," he says, "as well as
iron-armed men."

In spite of their arms and their hearts, he is able triumphantly to
proclaim their defeat. Milo de Cogan, the Norman governor of Dublin,
fell upon his assailants suddenly. John the Mad was slain, as were also
nearly all the Berserkers. Hasculph was brought back in triumph, and
promptly beheaded by the conquerors.

He was hardly dead before a new assailant, Godred, king of Man, appeared
with thirty ships at the mouth of the Liffy. Roderick, in the meanwhile,
had collected men from every part of Ireland, with the exception of the
north which stood aloof from him, and now laid siege to Dublin by land,
helped by St. Lawrence its patriotic archbishop. Strongbow was thus shut
in with foes behind and before, and the like disaster had befallen
Robert FitzStephen, who was at this time closely besieged in his own new
castle at Wexford. Dermot their chief native ally had recently died.
There seemed for a while a reasonable chance that the invaders would be
driven back and pushed bodily into the sea.

Discipline and science however again prevailed. The besieged, excited
both by their own danger and that of their friends in the south, made a
desperate sally. The Irish army kept no watch, and was absolutely
undrilled. A panic set in. The besiegers fled, leaving behind them their
stores of provisions, and the conquerors thereupon marched away in
triumph to the relief of FitzStephen. Here they were less successful. By
force, or according to Giraldus, by a pretended tale of the destruction
of all the other invaders, the Wexford men seized possession of him and
the other English, and had them flung into a dungeon. Finding that
Strongbow and the rest were not destroyed, but that on the contrary they
were marching down on them, the Wexford men set fire to their own town
and departed to an island in the harbour, carrying their prisoner with
them and threatening if pursued to cut off his head.

Foiled in this attempt, Strongbow hastened to Waterford, took boat
there, and flew to meet the king, whom he encountered near Gloucester
with a large army. Henry's greeting was a wrathful one. His anger and
jealousy had been thoroughly aroused. Not unwarrantably. But for his
promptness his head-strong subjects--several of them it must be
remembered of his own dominant blood--would have been perfectly capable
of attempting to carve out a kingdom for themselves at his very gates.
Happily Strongbow had found the task too large for his unaided energies,
and, as we have seen, had barely escaped annihilation. He was ready,
therefore, to accept any terms which his sovereign chose to impose. His
submission appears to have disarmed the king. He allowed himself to be
pacified, and after a while they returned to Ireland together. Henry II.
landed at Waterford in the month of October, 1171.




This was practically the end of the struggle. The king had four thousand
men-at-arms at his back, of whom no less than four hundred were knights.
In addition his ships contained vast stores of provisions, a variety of
war devices never before seen in Ireland, artizans for building bridges
and making roads--a whole war train, in short. Such a display of force
was felt to be irresistible. The chieftains one after the other came in
and made their submission. Dermot McCarthy, lord of Desmond and Cork,
was the first to do homage, followed by Donald O'Brien, Prince of
Thomond; while another Donald, chieftain of Ossory, rapidly followed
suit. The men of Wexford appeared, leading their prisoner with them by a
chain, and presenting him as an offering to his master, who, first
rating him soundly for his unauthorized proceedings, ordered him to be
chained to another prisoner and shut up in Reginald's tower. Later,
soothed by his own triumph, or touched, as Giraldus tells us, with
compassion for a brave man, he, at the intercession of some of his
courtiers, forgave and restored him to his possessions, reserving,
however, the town of Wexford for himself.

From Wexford Henry marched to Dublin, having first visited Tipperary and
Waterford. The Danes at once submitted and swore allegiance; so also did
O'Carrol of Argial, O'Rorke of Brefny, and all the minor chieftains of
Leinster; Roderick O'Connor still stood at bay behind the Shannon, and
the north also remained aloof and hostile, but air the other chieftains,
great and small, professed themselves willing to become tributaries of
the king of England.

The idea of an Ard-Reagh, or Over-lord, was no new one, as we have seen,
to any of them. Theoretically they had always acknowledged one,
although, practically, he had rarely exercised any authority save over
his own immediate subjects. Their feeling about Henry was doubtless the
same. They were as willing to swear fealty to him as to Roderick
O'Connor, more so in fact, seeing that he was stronger than Roderick,
but that was all. To Henry and to his successors this recognition
carried with it all the complicated dependence of feudalism, which in
England meant that his land and everything else which a man possessed
was his only so long as he did service for it to the king. To these new
Irish subjects, who had never heard of feudalism, it entailed nothing of
the sort. They regarded it as a mere vague promise of adhesion, binding
them at most to a general muster or "hosting" under his arms in case of
war or some common peril. This was an initial misconception, which
continued, as will be seen, to be a deeper and deeper source of
confusion as the years went on.

In the meanwhile Henry was established in Dublin, where he kept
Christmas in high state, occupying a palace built in the native fashion
of painted wicker-work, set up just outside the walls. Here he
entertained the chiefs, who were naturally astonished at the splendour
of his entertainments. "They learnt," Giraldus observes with
satisfaction, "to eat cranes"--does this mean herons?--"a species of
food which they had previously loathed;" and, in general, were suitably
impressed with the greatness and glory of the conqueror. The bishops
were most of them already warmly in his favour, and at a synod shortly
afterwards held at Cashel, at which all the Irish clergy were
represented, the Church of Ireland was solemnly declared to be finally
united to that of England, and it was laid down that, "as by Divine
Providence Ireland has received her lord and king from England, so she
should also submit to a reformation from the same source."

The weather that winter was so rough that hardly a ship could cross the
channel, and Henry in his new kingdom found himself practically cut off
from his old one. About the middle of Lent, the wind veering at last to
the east, ships arrived from England and Aquitaine, bearers of very ill
news to the king. Two legates were on their way, sent by the Pope, to
inquire into the murder of Becket, and armed in case of an
unsatisfactory reply with all the terrors of an interdict. Henry hastily
made over the government of Ireland to Hugo de Lacy, whom he placed in
Dublin as his representative, and sailed from Wexford upon Easter
Monday. He never again revisited his new dominions, where many of the
lessons inculcated by him--including possibly the delights of eating
cranes--were destined before long to be forgotten.



Henry had been only six months in Ireland, but he had accomplished
much--more certainly than any other English ruler ever accomplished
afterwards within the same time. He had divided the ceded districts into
counties; had appointed sheriffs for them; had set up three Law
Courts--Bench, Pleas, and Exchequer; had arranged for the going on
circuit by judges; and had established his own character for orthodoxy,
and acquitted himself of his obligations to the papacy by freeing all
church property from the exactions of the chiefs, and rigidly enforcing
the payment of tithes.

In a still more important point--that about which he was evidently
himself most tenacious--his success was even more complete. He once for
all put a stop to all danger of an independent lordship by forcing those
who had already received grants of land from the native chiefs to
surrender them into his hands, and to receive them back direct from
himself, according to the ordinary terms of feudal tenure.

That he had larger and more statesmanlike views for the new dependency
than he was ever able to carry out there can be no question. As early as
1177 he appointed his youngest son John king of Ireland, and seems to
have fully formed the intention of sending him over as a permanent
governor or viceroy, a purpose which the misconduct of that youthful
Rehoboam, as Giraldus calls him, was chiefly instrumental in foiling.

It is curious to hear this question of a royal viceroy and a permanent
royal residence in Ireland coming to the front so very early in the
history of English rule there. That the experiment, if fairly tried, and
tried with a man of the calibre of Henry himself, might have made the
whole difference in the future of Ireland, we cannot, I think,
reasonably doubt. Any government, indeed, so that it was central, so
that it gathered itself into a single hand and took its impress from a
single mind, would have been better a thousand times than the miserable
condition of half-conquest, half-rule, whole anarchy and confusion which
set in and continued with hardly a break.

This is one reason more why it is so much to be regretted that Ireland,
save for a few years, had never any real king or central government of
her own. Had this been the case, even if she had been eventually
conquered by England--as would likely enough have been the case--the
result of that conquest would have been different. There would have been
some one recognized point of government and organization, and the
struggle would have been more violent and probably more successful at
first, but less chronic and less eternally renewed in the long run. As
it was, all the conditions were at their very worst. No native ruler of
the calibre of a Brian Boru could ever again hope to unite all Ireland
under him, since long before he arrived at that point his enemies would
have called in the aid of the new colonists, who would have fallen upon
and annihilated him, though after doing so they would have been as
little able to govern the country for themselves as before.

This also explains what is often set down as the inexplicable want of
patriotism shown by the native Irish in not combining more resolutely
together against their assailants. It is true that they did not do so,
but the fact is not referred to the right cause. An Englishman of the
time of the Heptarchy had, if at all, little more patriotism, and hardly
more sense of common country. He was a Wessex man, or a Northumbrian, or
a man of the North or the East Angles, rather than an Englishman. So too
in Ireland. As a people the Irish of that day can hardly be said to have
had any corporate existence. They were O'Briens, or O'Neils, or
O'Connors, or O'Flaherties, and that no doubt in their own eyes appeared
to be quite nationality enough.

Unfortunately both for the country and for his own successors, Henry had
no time to carry out his plans, and all that he had begun to organize
fell away into disorder again after his departure. "That inconstant
sea-nymph," says Sir John Davis, "whom the Pope had wedded to him with a
ring," remained obedient only as long as her new lord was present, and
once his back was turned she reverted to her own ways again. The crowd
of Norman and Welsh adventurers who now filled the country were each and
all intent upon ascertaining how much of that country they could seize
upon and appropriate for themselves. There were many gallant men amongst
them, but there was not one apparently who had the faintest trace of
what is meant by public spirit. Occupied only by their own interests,
and struggling solely for their own share of the spoil, they could never
really hold the country, and even those parts which they did get into
their hands lapsed back after a while into the old condition again.

The result was that the fighting never ended. The new colonists built
castles and lived shut up in them, ruling their own immediate retainers
with an odd mixture of Brehon and Norman law. When they issued forth
they appeared clad from head to foot in steel, ravaging the country more
like foreign mercenaries than peaceful settlers. The natives, driven to
bay and dispossessed of their lands, fought too, not in armour, but,
like the Berserkers of old, in their shirts, with the addition at most
of a rude leather helmet, more often only with their hair matted into a
sort of cap on their foreheads in the fashion known as the "gibbe," that
"rascally gibbe" to which Spenser and other Elizabethan writers object
so strongly. By way of defence they now and then threw up a rude
stockade of earth or stone, modifications of the primitive rath, more
often they made no defence, or merely twisted a jungle of boughs along
the pathways to break the advance of their more heavily armed foes. The
ideas of the two races were as dissimilar as their weapons. The instinct
of the one was to conquer a country and subdue it to their own uses; the
instinct of the other was to trust to the country itself, and depend
upon its natural features, its forests, morasses, and so forth for
security. The one was irresistible in attack, the other, as his
conqueror soon learnt to his cost, practically invincible in defence,
returning doggedly again and again, and a hundred times over to the
ground from which he seemed at first to have been so easily and so
effectually driven off.

All these peculiarities, which for ages continued to mark the struggle
between the two races now brought face to face in a death struggle, are
just as marked and just as strikingly conspicuous in the first twenty
years which followed the invasion as they are during the succeeding
half-dozen centuries.




Henry had gone, and the best hopes of the new dependency departed with
him never to return again. Fourteen years later he despatched his son
John, then a youth of nineteen, with a train of courtiers, and amongst
them our friend Giraldus, who appeared to have been sent over in some
sort of tutorial or secretarial capacity.

The expedition was a disastrous failure. The chiefs flocked to Waterford
to do honour to their king's son. The courtiers, encouraged by their
insolent young master, scoffed at the dress, and mockingly plucked the
long beards of the tributaries. Furious and smarting under the insult
they withdrew, hostile every man of them now to the death. The news
spread; the more distant and important of the chieftains declined to
appear. John and his courtiers gave themselves up to rioting and
misconduct of various kinds. All hopes of conciliation were at an end. A
successful confederation was formed amongst the Irish, and the English
were for a while driven bodily out of Munster. John returned to England
at the end of eight months, recalled in hot haste and high displeasure
by his father.

Twenty-five years later he came back again, this time as king, with a
motley army of mercenaries gathered to crush the two brothers De Lacy,
who for the moment dominated all Ireland--the one, Hugo, being Earl of
Ulster, and Viceroy; the other, Walter, Lord of the Palatinate of Meath.

Among his many vices John had not at least that of indolence to be laid
to his charge! He marched direct from Waterford to Trim, the
head-quarters of the De Lacys, seized the castle, moved on next day to
Kells, thence proceeded by rapid stages to Dundalk, Carlingford,
Downpatrick, and Carrickfergus. Hugo de Lacy fled in dismay to Scotland.
The chieftains of Connaught and Thomond joined their forces with those
of the king; even the hitherto indomitable O'Neil made a proffer of
submission. Leaving a garrison at Carrickfergus, John marched back by
Downpatrick and Drogheda, re entered Meath, visited Duleck, slept a
night at Kells, and so back to Dublin, where he was met by nearly every
Anglo-Norman baron, each and all eager to exhibit their own loyalty. His
next care was to divide their territory into counties; to bind them over
to supply soldiers when called upon to do so by the viceroy, and to
arrange for the muster of troops in Dublin. Then away he went again to
England. He had been in the country exactly sixty-six days.

Unpleasant man and detestable king as he was, John had no slight share
of the governing powers of his race, and even his short stay in Ireland
did some good, enough to show what might have been done had a better
man, and one in a little less desperate hurry, remained to hold the
reins. He had proved that, however they might ape the part, the barons
were not as a matter of fact the absolute lords of Ireland; that they
had a master beyond the sea; one who, if aroused, could make the boldest
of them shake in his coat of mail. The lesson was not as well learnt as
it ought to have been, but it was better at least than if it had not
been learnt at all.

At that age and in its then condition a strong ruler--native if
possible, if not, foreign--was by far the best hope for Ireland. Such a
ruler, if only for his own sake, would have had the genuine interests of
the country at heart. He might have tyrannized himself, but the little
tyrants would have been kept at bay. Few countries--and certainly
Ireland was not one of the exceptions--were at that time ripe for what
we now mean by free institutions. Freedom meant the freedom of a strong
government, one that was not at the beck of accident, and was not
perpetually changing from one hand to another. The English people found
this out for themselves centuries later during the terrible anarchy
which resulted from the Wars of the Roses, and of their own accord put
themselves under the brutal, but on the whole patriotic, yoke of the
Tudors. In Ireland the petty masters unfortunately were always near; the
great one was beyond the sea and not so easily to be got at! There was
no unity; no pretence of even-handed justice, no one to step between the
oppressed and the oppressor. And the result of all this is still to be
seen written as in letters of brass upon the face of the country and
woven into the very texture of the character of its people.



The jealousy shown by Henry and his sons towards the earliest invaders
of Ireland is doubtless the reason why Giraldus--for a courtier and an
ecclesiastic upon his promotion--is so remarkably explicit upon their
royal failings. The Geraldines especially seem to have been the objects
of this not very unnatural jealousy, and the Geraldines are, on the
other hand, to Giraldus himself, objects of an almost superstitious
worship. His pen never wearies of expatiating upon their valour, fame,
beauty, and innumerable graces, laying stress especially--and in this he
is certainly borne out by the facts--upon the great advantage which men
trained in the Welsh wars, and used all their lives to skirmishing in
the lightest order, had over those who had had no previous experience of
the very peculiar warfare necessary in Ireland. "Who," he cries with a
burst of enthusiasm, "first penetrated into the heart of the enemy's
country? The Geraldines! Who have kept it in submission? The Geraldines!
Who struck most terror into the enemy? The Geraldines! Against whom are
the shafts of malice chiefly directed? The Geraldines! Oh that they had
found a prince who could have appreciated their distinguished worth! How
tranquil, how peaceful would then have been the state of Ireland under
their administration!"

Even their indignant chronicler admits however that the Geraldines did
not do so very badly for themselves! Maurice Fitzgerald, the eldest of
the brothers, became the ancestor both of the Earls of Kildare and
Desmond; William, the younger, obtained an immense grant of land in
Kerry from the McCarthys, indeed as time went on the lordship of the
Desmond Fitzgeralds grew larger and larger, until it covered nearly as
much ground as many a small European kingdom. Nor was this all. The
White Knight, the Knight of Glyn, and the Knight of Kerry were all three
Fitzgeralds, all descended from the same root, and all owned large
tracts of country. The position of the Geraldines of Kildare was even
more important, on account of their close proximity to Dublin. In later
times their great keep at Maynooth dominated the whole Pale, while their
followers swarmed everywhere, each man with a G. embroidered upon his
breast in token of his allegiance. By the beginning of the sixteenth
century their power had reached to, perhaps, the highest point ever
attained in these islands by any subject. Whoever might be called the
Viceroy in Ireland it was the Earl of Kildare who practically governed
the country.

Originally there were three Palatinates--Leinster granted to Strongbow,
Meath to De Lacy, and Ulster to De Courcy. To these two more were
afterwards added, namely, Ormond and Desmond. The power of the Lord
Palatine was all but absolute. He had his own Palatinate court, with its
judges, sheriffs, and coroners. He could build fortified towns, and
endow them with charters. He could create as many knights as he thought
fit, a privilege of which they seem fully to have availed themselves,
since we learn that Richard, Earl of Ulster, created no less than
thirty-three upon a single occasion. For all practical purposes the
Palatinates were thus simply petty kingdoms or principalities,
independent in everything but the name.

Strongbow, the greatest of all the territorial barons, left no son to
inherit his estates, only a daughter, who married William Marshall, Earl
of Pembroke. Through her his estates passed to five heiresses, who
married five great nobles, namely, Warrenne, Mountchesny, De Vesci, De
Braosa, and Gloucester. Strongbow's Palatinate of Leinster was thus
split up into five smaller Palatinates. As none of the new owners
moreover chose to live in Ireland, and their revenues were merely drawn
away to England, the estates were after awhile very properly declared
forfeited, and went to the Crown. Thus the one who of all the
adventurers had cherished the largest and most ambitious hopes in the
end left no enduring mark at all in Ireland.

Connaught--despite a treaty drawn up between Henry I. and Cathal
O'Connor, its native king--was granted by John to William FitzAldelm de
Burgh and his son Richard, on much the same terms as Ulster had been
already granted to De Courcy, on the understanding, that is to say, that
if he could he might win it by the sword. De Courcy failed, but the De
Burghs were wilier and more successful. Carefully fostering a strife
which shortly after broke out between the two rival princes of the house
of O'Connor, and watching from the fortress they had built for
themselves at Athlone, upon the Shannon, they seized an opportunity when
both combatants were exhausted to pounce upon the country, and wrest the
greater part of it away from their grasp. They also drove away the clan
of O'Flaherty--owners from time immemorial of the region known as Moy
Seola, to the east of the bay of Galway--and forced them back across
Lough Corrib, where they took refuge amongst the mountains of far
Connaught, descending continually in later times in fierce hordes, and
wreaking their vengeance upon the town of Galway, which had been founded
by the De Burghs at the mouth of the river which carries the waters of
Lough Corrib to the sea. To this day the whole of this region of Moy
Seola and the eastern shores of Lough Corrib may be seen to be thickly
peppered over with ruined De Burgh castles, monuments of some four or
five centuries of uninterrupted fighting.

At one time the De Burghs were by far the largest landowners in Ireland.
Not only did they possess an immense tract of Connaught, but by the
marriage of Richard de Burgh's son to Maud, daughter of Hugh de Lacy,
Earl of Ulster, they became the nominal owners of nearly all Ulster to
boot. It never was more, however, than a nominal ownership, the clutch
of the O'Neills and O'Donnells being found practically impossible to
unloose, so that all the De Burghs could be said to hold were the
southern borders of what are now the counties of Down, Monaghan, and
Antrim. When, too, William, the third Earl of Ulster, was murdered in
1333, his possessions passed to his daughter and heiress, a child of two
years old. A baby girl's inheritance was not likely, as may be imagined,
to be regarded at that date as particularly sacred. Ulster was at once
retaken by the O'Neills and O'Connels. Two of the Burkes, or De Burghs,
Ulick and Edmund, seized Connaught and divided it between them, becoming
in due time the ancestors, the one of the Mayos, the other of the

Another of the great houses was that of the Ormonds, descended from
Theobald Walter, a nephew of Thomas à Becket, who was created hereditary
cup-bearer or butler to Henry II. Theobald Walter received grants of
land in Tipperary and Kilkenny, as well as at Arklow, and in 1391
Kilkenny Castle was sold to his descendant the Earl of Ormond by the
heirs of Strongbow. The Ormonds' most marked characteristic is that from
the beginning to the end of their career they remained, with hardly an
exception, loyal adherents of the English Crown. Their most important
representative was the "great duke" as he was called, James, Duke of
Ormond, who bore an important part in the civil wars of Charles I., and
is perhaps the most distinguished representative of all these great
Norman Irish houses, unless indeed one of the greatest names in the
whole range of English political history--that of Edmund Burke--is to be
added to the list, as perhaps in fairness it ought.

Troublesome as it is to keep these different houses in the memory, it is
hopeless to attempt without doing so to understand anything of the
history of Ireland. In England where the ruling power was vested first
in the sovereign and later in the Parliament, the landowners, however
large their possessions, rarely attained to more than a local
importance, save of course when one of them chanced to rise to eminence
as a soldier or a statesman. In Ireland the parliament, throughout
nearly the whole of its separate existence, was little more than a name,
irregularly summoned, and until the middle of the sixteenth century,
representing only one small corner of the country. The kings never came;
the viceroys came and went in a continually changing succession;
practically, therefore, the great territorial barons constituted the
backbone of the country--so far as it could be said to have had any
backbone at all. They made war with the native chiefs, or else made
alliances with them and married their daughters. They raided one
another's properties, slew one another's kerns, and carried one another
away prisoner. Sometimes their independent action went even further than
this. The battle of Knocktow, of which we shall hear in due time, arose
because the Earl of Kildare's daughter had quarrelled with her husband,
the Earl of Clanricarde, and her father chose to espouse her quarrel.
Two large armies were collected, nearly all the lords of the Pale and
their followers being upon one side, under the banner of Kildare, a vast
and undisciplined horde of natives under Clanricarde upon the other, and
the slaughter is said to have exceeded 8,000. Parental affection is a
very attractive quality, but when it swells to such dimensions as these
it becomes formidable for the peace of a country!



One of the greatest difficulties to be faced in the study of Irish
history, no matter upon what scale, is to discover any reasonable method
of dividing our space. The habit of distributing all historical affairs
into reigns is often misleading enough even in England; in Ireland it
becomes simply ridiculous. What difference can any one suppose it made
to the great bulk of the people of that country whether a Henry, whom
they had never seen, had been succeeded by an Edward they had never
seen, or an Edward by a Henry? No two sovereigns could have been less
alike in character or aims than Henry III. and Edward I., yet when we
fix our eyes upon Ireland the difference is to all intents and purposes

That, though he never visited the country, Edward I., like his
great-grandfather, had large schemes for the benefit of Ireland is
certain. Practically, however? his schemes never came to anything, and
the chief effect of his reign was that the country was so largely drawn
upon for men and money for the support of his wars elsewhere as greatly
to weaken the already feeble power of the Government, the result being
that at the first touch of serious trouble it all but fell to pieces.

Very serious trouble indeed came in the reign of the second Edward. The
battle of Bannockburn--the greatest disaster which ever befel the
English during their Scotch wars--had almost as marked an effect on
Ireland as on Scotland. All the elements of disaffection at once began
to boil and bubble. The O'Neills--ever ready for a fray, and the nearest
in point of distance to Scotland--promptly made overtures to the Bruces,
and Edward Bruce, the victorious king's brother, was despatched at the
head of a large army, and landing in 1315 near Carrickfergus was at once
joined by the O'Neills, and war proclaimed.

The first to confront these new allies was Richard de Burgh, the "Red
Earl" of Ulster, who was twice defeated by them and driven back on
Dublin. The viceroy, Sir Edmund Butler, was the next encountered, and he
also was defeated at a battle near Ardscul, whereupon the whole country
rose like one man. Fedlim O'Connor, the young king of Connaught, the
hereditary chieftain of Thomond, and a host of smaller chieftains of
Connaught, Munster, and Meath, flew to arms. Even the De Lacys and
several of the other Norman colonists threw in their lot with the
invaders. Edward Bruce gained another victory at Kells, and having
wasted the country round about, destroying the property of the colonists
and slaughtering all whom he could find, he returned to Carrickfergus,
where he was met by his brother, King Robert, and together they crossed
Ireland, descending as far south as Cashel, and burning, pillaging, and
destroying wherever they went. In 1316 the younger Bruce was crowned
king at Dundalk.

Such was the panic they created, and so utterly disunited were the
colonists, that for a time they carried all before them. It is plain
that Edward Bruce--who on one side was descended both from Strongbow and
Dermot McMurrough--fully hoped to have cut out a kingdom for himself
with his sword, as others of his blood had hoped and intended before
him. His own excesses, however, went far to prevent that. So frightfully
did he devastate the country, and so horrible was the famine which he
created, that many even of his own army perished from it or from the
pestilence which followed. His Irish allies fell away in dismay. English
and Irish annalists, unanimous for once, alike exclaim in horror over
his deeds. Clyn, the Franciscan historian, tells us how he burned and
plundered the churches. The annals of Lough Cè say that "no such period
for famine or destruction of men" ever occurred, and that people "used
then to eat one another throughout Erin." "They, the Scots," says the
poet Spenser, writing centuries later, "utterly consumed and wasted
whatsoever was before left unspoyled so that of all towns, castles,
forts, bridges, and habitations they left not a stick standing, nor yet
any people remayning, for those few which yet survived fledde from their
fury further into the English Pale that now is. Thus was all that goodly
country utterly laid waste."

Such insane destruction brought its own punishment. The colonists began
to recover from their dismay. Ormonds, Kildares, and Desmonds bestirred
themselves to collect troops. The O'Connors, who with all their tribe
had risen in arms, had been utterly defeated at Athenry, where the young
king Fedlim and no less than 10,000 of his followers are said to have
been left dead. Roger Mortimer, the new viceroy, was re-organizing the
government in Dublin. The clergy, stimulated by a Papal mandate, had all
now turned against the invader. Robert Bruce had some time previously
been recalled to Scotland, and Sir John de Bermingham, the victor of
Athenry, pushing northward at the head of 15,000 chosen troops, met the
younger Bruce at Dundalk. The combat was hot, short, and decisive. The
Scots were defeated, Edward Bruce himself killed, and his head struck
off and sent to London. The rest hastened back to Scotland with as
little delay as possible. The Scotch invasion was over.

It was over, but its effects remained. From one end of Ireland to the
other there was disaffection, anger, revolt. England had proved too weak
or too negligent to interfere at the right time and in the right way,
and although successful in the end she could not turn back the tide.
There was a general feeling of disbelief in the reality of her
government. A semi-national feeling had sprung up which temporarily
united colonists and natives in a bond of self-defence. Norman nobles
and native Irish chieftains threw in their lot together. The English
yeoman class, which had begun to get established in Leinster and
Munster, had been all but utterly destroyed by Edward Bruce, and the
remnant now left the country in despair. The great English lords, with
the exception of Ormond and Kildare, from this out took Irish names and
adopted Irish dress and fashions. The two De Burghs, as already stated,
seized upon the Connaught possessions of their cousin, and divided them,
taking the one Galway and the other Mayo, and calling themselves
McWilliam Eighter and McWilliam Oughter, or the Nether and the Further
Burkes. So too with nearly all the rest. Bermingham of Athenry, in spite
of his late famous victory over the Irish, did the same, calling himself
McYorris; Fitzmaurice of Lixnaw became McMaurice; FitzUrse of Louth,
McMahon; and so on through a whole list.

Nor is it difficult to understand the motives which led to these
changes. The position of an Irish chieftain--with his practically
limitless powers of life and death, his wild retinue of retainers whose
only law was the will of their chief--offered an irresistible temptation
to men of their type, and had many more charms than the narrow and
uninteresting _rôle_ of liegeman to a king whom they never saw, and the
obeying of whose behests brought them harm rather than good. England had
shown only too plainly that she had no power to protect her Irish
colonists, of what use therefore, it was asked, for them to call
themselves any longer English? The great majority from that moment
ceased to do so. Save within the "five obedient shires" which came to be
known as the English Pale, "the king's writ no longer ran." The native
Irish swarmed back from the mountains and forests, and repossessed
themselves of the lands from which they had been driven. No serious
attempts were made to re-establish the authority of the law over
three-fourths of the island. Within a century and a half of the
so-called conquest, save within one small and continually narrowing
area, Ireland had ceased even nominally to belong to England.




It was not to be expected, however, that the larger country would for
very shame let her possessions thus slip from her grasp without an
effort to retain them, certainly not when a ruler of the calibre of an
Edward III. came to the helm. Had his energies been able to concentrate
themselves upon Ireland the stream which was setting dead against
loyalty might even then have been turned back. The royal interest would
have risen to the top of faction, as it did in England, and would have
curbed the growing and dangerous power of the barons. That magic which
surrounds the word king might--who can say that it would not?--have
awakened a sentiment at once of patriotism and loyalty.

Chimerical as it may sound even to suppose such a thing, there seems no
valid reason why it might not have been. No people admittedly are more
intensely loyal by nature than the native Irish. By their failings no
less than their virtues they are extraordinarily susceptible to a
personal influence, and that devotion which they so often showed towards
their own chiefs might with very little trouble have been awakened in
favour of a king. It is one of the most deplorable of the many
deplorable facts which stud the history of Ireland that no opening for
the growth of such sentiment was ever once presented--certainly not in
such a form that it would have been humanly possible for it to
be embraced.

Edward III. had now his chance. Unfortunately he was too busy to avail
himself of it. He had too many irons in the fire to trouble himself much
about Ireland. If it furnished him with a supply of fighting
men--clean-limbed, sinewy fellows who could run all day without a sign
of fatigue, live on a handful of meal, and for a lodging feel luxurious
with an armful of hay and the sheltered side of a stone--it was pretty
much all he wanted. The light-armed Irish troop did great things at
Crecy, but they were never used at home. That Half-hold, which was the
ruin of Ireland, and which was to go on being its ruin for many and many
a century, was never more conspicuous than during the nominal rule of
the strongest and ablest of all the Angevin kings.

Something, however, for very shame he did do. In 1361 all absentee
landowners, already amounting to no less than sixty-three, including the
heads of several of the great abbeys, were summoned to Westminster and
ordered to provide an army to accompany Lionel, Duke of Clarence, whom
he had decided upon sending over to Ireland as viceroy.

Clarence was the king's third son, and had married the only daughter and
heiress of William de Burgh (mentioned a little way back as a baby
heiress), and through his wife had become Earl of Ulster and the nominal
lord of an enormous tract of the country stretching from the Bay of
Galway nearly up to the coast of Donegal. Most of this had, however,
already, as we have seen, been lost. The two rebel Burkes had got
possession of the Galway portion, the O'Neills, O'Connors, and other
chiefs had repossessed themselves of the North. So completely indeed was
the latter lost that Ulster--nominally the patrimony of the Duchess of
Clarence--is not even alluded to by her husband as part of the country
over which his government could attempt to lay claim.

The chief event of this visit was the summoning of a Parliament at
Kilkenny, a Parliament made memorable ever after by the passing of what
is still known as the Statute of Kilkenny[5]. This Statute, although it
produced little effect at the time, is an extremely important one to
understand, as it enables us to realize the state to which the country
had then got, and explains, moreover, a good deal that would otherwise
be obscure or confusing in the after history of Ireland.

[5] 40 Edward III., Irish Statutes.

Two distinct and separate set of rules are here drawn up for two
distinct and separate Irelands. One is for the English Ireland, which
then included about the area of ten counties, though it afterwards
shrank to four and a few towns; the other is for the Ireland of the
Irish and rebellious English, which included the rest of the island; the
object being, not as might be supposed at first sight, to unite these
two closer together, but to keep them as far apart as possible; to
prevent them, in fact, if possible, from ever uniting.

A great many provisions are laid down by this Act, all bearing the same
aim. Marriage and fosterage between the English and Irish are forbidden,
and declared to be high treason. So, too, is the supply of all horses,
weapons, or goods of any sort to the Irish; monks of Irish birth are not
to be admitted into any English monastery, nor yet Irish priests into
any English preferment. The Irish dress and the Irish mode of riding are
both punishable. War with the natives is inculcated as a duty binding
upon all good colonists. None of the Irish, except a certain number of
families known as the "Five Bloods" (_Quinque sanquines_), are to be
allowed to plead at any English court, and the killing of an Irishman is
not to be reckoned as a crime. In addition to this, speaking the
language of the country is made penal. Any one mixing with the English,
and known to be guilty of this offence, is to lose his lands (if he has
any), and his body to be lodged in one of the strong places of the king
until he learns to repent and amend.

The original words of this part of the Act are worth quoting. They run
as follows: "Si nul Engleys ou Irroies entre eux memes encontre c'est
ordinance et de cei soit atteint soint sez terrez e tenez s'il eit
seizez en les maines son Seignours immediate, tanque q'il vèigne a un
des places nostre Seignour le Roy, et trove sufficient seurtee de
prendre et user le lang Englais."

One would like--merely as a matter of curiosity--to know what appliances
for the study of that not easiest of languages were provided, and before
what tribunal the student had to prove his proficiency in it. When, too,
we remember that English was still, to a great degree, tabooed in
England itself; that the official and familiar language of the Normans
was French, that French of which the Statutes of Kilkenny are themselves
a specimen, the difficulty of keeping within the law at this point must,
it will be owned, have been considerable.

"In all this it is manifest," says Sir John Davis, "that such as had the
government of Ireland did indeed intend to make a perpetual enmity
between the English and the Irish, pretending that the English should in
the end root out the Irish; which, the English not being able to do,
caused a perpetual war between the two nations, which continued four
hundred and odd years, and would have lasted unto the world's end, if in
Queen Elizabeth's reign the Irish had not been broken and conquered by
the sword."

It is easy to see that the very ferocity--as it seems to us the utter
and inconceivable ferocity--of these enactments is in the main a proof
of the pitiable and deplorable weakness of those who passed them, and to
this weakness we must look for their excuse, so far as they admitted of
excuse at all. Weakness, especially weakness in high places, is apt to
fall back upon cruelty to supply false strength, and a government that
found itself face to face with an entire country in arms, absolutely
antagonistic to and defiant of its authority, may easily have felt
itself driven by sheer despair into some such false and futile
exhibitions of power. The chief sufferers by these statutes were not the
inhabitants of the wilder districts, who, for the most part, escaped out
of reach of its provisions, beyond that narrow area where the Dublin
judges travelled their little rounds, and who were governed still--when
governed at all--by the Brehon laws and Brehon judges, much as in the
days of Brian Boru. The real victims were the unhappy settlers of the
Pale and such natives as had thrown in their lot with them, and who were
robbed and harassed alike by those without and those within. The feudal
system was one that always bore hardly upon the poor, and in Ireland the
feudal system was at its very worst. There was no central authority; no
one to interpose between the baronage and the tillers of the soil; and
that state of things which in England only existed during comparatively
short periods, and under exceptionally weak rulers, in Ireland was
continuous and chronic. The consequence was that men escaped more and
more out of this intolerable tyranny into the comparative freedom which
lay beyond; forgot that they had ever been English; allowed their
beards, in defiance of regulations, to grow; pulled their hair down into
a "gibbes" upon their foreheads; adopted fosterage, gossipage, and all
the other pleasant contraband Irish customs; married Irish wives, and
became, to all intents and purposes, Irishmen. The English power had no
more dangerous enemies in the days that were to come than these men of
English descent, whose fathers had come over to found a new kingdom for
her upon the western side of St. George's Channel.



Richard the Second's reign is a more definite epoch for the Irish
historian than many more striking ones, for the simple reason of two
visits having been paid by him to Ireland. The first of these was in
1394, when he landed at Waterford with 30,000 archers and 40,000 men at
arms, an immense army for that age, and for Ireland it was held an
irresistible one.

It was certainly high time for some steps to be taken. In all directions
the interests of the colonists were going to the wall. Not only in
Ulster, Minister, and Connaught, but even in the East of Ireland, the
natives were fast repossessing themselves of all the lands from which
they had been driven. A great chieftain, Art McMurrough, had made
himself master of the greater part of Leinster, and only by a
humiliating use of "Black Rent," could he be kept at bay. The towns were
in a miserable state; Limerick, Cork, Waterford had all again and again
been attacked, and could with difficulty defend themselves. The Wicklow
tribes swarmed down to the very walls of Dublin, and carried the cattle
off from under the noses of the citizens. The judges' rounds were
getting yearly shorter and shorter. The very deputy could hardly ride
half-a-dozen miles from the castle gates without danger of being set
upon, captured, and carried off for ransom.

Richard flattered himself that he had only to appear to conquer. He was
keen to achieve some military glory, and Ireland seemed an easy field to
win it upon. Like many another before and after him, he found the task
harder than it seemed. The great chiefs came in readily enough;
O'Connors, O'Briens, O'Neills, even the turbulent McMurrough himself,
some seventy-five of them in all. The king entertained them sumptuously,
as Henry II. had entertained their ancestors two centuries before. They
engaged to be loyal, and to answer for the loyalty of their
dependants--with some mental reservations we must conclude. In return
for this submission the king knighted the four chiefs just named, a
somewhat incongruous piece of courtesy it must be owned. Shortly after
his knighthood, Art McMurrough, "Sir Art," was thrown into prison on
suspicion. He was released before long, but the release failed to wipe
out the affront, and the angry chief retired, nursing fierce vengeance,
to his forests.

Richard remained in Ireland nine months, during which he achieved
nothing, and departed leaving the government in the hands of his
heir-presumptive, Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, the grandson of Lionel,
Duke of Clarence, and, therefore, in right of his mother, Earl of
Ulster, and the nominal owner of an immense territory, covering nearly a
third of the island, barely one acre of which, however, remained in
his hands.

The king had not been gone long before Art McMurrough rose again. The
young deputy was in Wicklow, endeavouring to carry out a projected
colony. Hearing of this outbreak, he hastened into Meath. An encounter
took place near Kells. Art McMurrough, at the head of his own men, aided
by some wild levies of O'Tooles and O'Nolans, completely defeated the
royal army, and after the battle the heir of the English Crown was found
amongst the slain.

This Art McMurrough, or Art Kavangh, as he is sometimes called, was a
man of very much more formidable stamp than most of the nameless
freebooters, native or Norman, who filled the country. His fashion of
making his onset seems to have been tremendous. Under him the wild
horsemen and "naked knaves," armed only with skeans and darts, sent
terror into the breast of their armour-clad antagonists. One of the few
early illustrations of Irish history extant represents him as charging
at breakneck pace down a hill. We are told that "he rode a horse without
a saddle or housing, which was so fine and good that it cost him four
hundred cows. In coming down the hill it galloped so hard that in my
opinion," says a contemporary writer, "I never in all my life saw hare,
deer, sheep, or other animal, I declare to you for a certainty, run with
such speed. In his right hand he bore a great dart, which he cast with
much skill[6]." No wonder that such a rider, upon such a horse, should
have struck terror into the very souls of the colonists, and induced
them to comply with any demands, however rapacious and humiliating,
rather than have to meet him face to face in the field.

[6] "Metrical History of the Deposition of Richard II."

The news of McMurrough's victory and of the death of his heir brought
Richard back again to Ireland. He returned in hot wrath resolved this
time to crush the delinquents. At home everything seemed safe. John of
Gaunt was recently dead; Henry of Lancaster still in exile; the Percys
had been driven over the border into Scotland. All his enemies seemed to
be crushed or extinguished. With an army nearly as large as before, and
with vast supplies of stores and arms, he landed at Waterford in 1399.

This time Art McMurrough quietly awaited his coming in a wood not far
from the landing-place. He had only 3,000 men about him, so prudently
declined to be drawn from that safe retreat of the assailed. The king
and his army sat down on the outskirts of the wood. It was July, but the
weather was desperately wet. The ground was in a swamp, the rain
incessant; there was nothing but green oats for the horses. The whole
army suffered from damp and exposure. Some labourers were hastily
collected, and an attempt made to cut down the wood. This, too, as might
be expected, proved a failure, and Richard, in disgust and vexation,
broke up his camp, and with great difficulty, dragging his unwieldy army
after him, fell back upon Dublin.

The Leinster chief was not slow to avail himself of the situation. He
now took a high hand, and demanded to be put in possession of certain
lands he claimed through his wife, as well as to retain his chieftaincy.
A treaty was set on foot, varied by the despatch of a flying column to
scour his country. In the middle of the negotiation startling news
arrived. Henry of Lancaster had landed at Ravenspur, and all England was
in arms. The king set off to return, but bad weather and misleading
counsel kept him another sixteen days on Irish soil. It was a fatal
sixteen days. When he reached Milford Haven it was to find the roads
blocked, and to be met by the news that all was lost. The army of
Welshmen, gathered by Salisbury, had dispersed, finding that the king
did not arrive. His own army of 30,000 men caught the panic, and melted
equally rapidly. He tried to negotiate with his cousin, but too late. At
Chester he fell into the hands of the victor, and, within a few weeks
after leaving Ireland, had passed to a prison, and from there to a
grave. He was the last English king to set foot upon its soil until
nearly exactly three centuries later, when two rivals met to try
conclusions upon the same blood-stained arena.

From this out matters grew from bad to worse. Little or no attempt was
made to enforce the law save within the ever-narrowing boundary of what
about this time came to be known as the Pale. Outside, Ireland grew to
be more and more the Ireland of the natives. Art McMurrough ruled over
his own country triumphantly till his death, and levied tribute right
and left with even-handed impartiality upon his neighbours. "Black
Rent," indeed, began to take the form of a regularly recognized tribute;
O'Neill receiving £40 a year from the county of Louth, O'Connor of
Offaly, _£60_ from the county of Meath, and others in like proportion.
In despair of any assistance from England some of the colonists formed
themselves into a fraternity which they called the "Brotherhood of St.
George," consisting of some thirteen gentlemen of the Pale with a
hundred archers and a handful of horsemen under them.

The Irish Government continued to pass Act after Act, each more and more
ferocious as it became more and more ineffective. Colonists were now
empowered to take and behead any natives whom they found marauding, or
whom they even suspected of any such intention. All friendly dealing
with natives was to be punished as felony. All who failed to shave their
upper lip at least once a fortnight were to be imprisoned and their
goods seized. Englishmen who married Irish women were to be accounted
guilty of high treason, and hung, drawn, and quartered at the
convenience of the viceroy. Such feeble ferocity tells its own tale.
Like some angry shrew the unhappy executive was getting louder and
shriller the less its denunciations were attended to.



The most salient fact in Irish history is perhaps its monotony. If that
statement is a bull it is one that must be forgiven for the sake of the
truth it conveys. Year after year, decade after decade, century after
century, we seem to go swimming slowly and wearily on through a vague
sea of confusion and disorder; of brutal deeds and yet more brutal
retaliations; of misgovernment and anarchy; of a confusion so
penetrating and all-persuasive that the mind fairly refuses to grapple
with it. Even killing--exciting as an incident--becomes monotonous when
it is continued _ad infinitum_, and no other occurrence ever comes to
vary its tediousness. Campion the Elizabethan historian, whose few pages
are a perfect magazine of verbal quaintness, apologizes in the preface
to his "lovyng reader, for that from the time of Cambrensis to that of
Henry VIII." he is obliged to make short work of his intermediate
periods; "because that nothing is therein orderly written, and that the
same is time beyond any man's memory, wherefore I scramble forward with
such records as could be sought up, and am enforced to be the briefer."

"Scrambling forward" is, indeed, exactly what describes the process. We,
too, must be content "to be the briefer," and to "scramble forward"
across these intermediate and comparatively eventless periods in order
to reach what lies beyond. The age of the Wars of the Roses is one of
great gloom and confusion in England; in Ireland it is an all but
complete blank. What intermittent interest in its affairs had been
awakened on the other side of the channel had all but wholly died away
in that protracted struggle. That its condition was miserable, almost
beyond conception, is all that we know for certain. In England, although
civil war was raging, and the baronage were energetically slaughtering
one another, the mass of the people seem for the most part to have gone
unscathed. The townsfolk were undisturbed; the law was protected; the
law officers went their rounds; there seems even to have been little
general rapine and pillage. The Church, still at its full strength,
watched jealously over its own rights and over the rights of those whom
it protected. In Ireland, although there was nothing that approached to
the dignity of civil war, the condition of the country seems to have
been one of uninterrupted and almost universal carnage, pillage, and
rapine. The baronage of the Pale raided upon the rest of the country,
and the rest of the country raided upon the Pale. Even amongst churchmen
it was much the same. Although there was no religious dissension, and
heresy was unknown, the jealousy between the churchmen of the two rival
races, seems to have been as deep as between the laymen, and their
hatred of one another probably even greater. As has been seen in a
former chapter, no priest or monk of Irish blood was ever admitted into
an English living or monastery, and the rule appears to have been quite
equally applicable the other way.

The means, too, for keeping these discordant elements in check were
ludicrously inefficient. The whole military establishment during the
greater part of this century consisted of some 80 archers, and about 40
"spears;" the whole revenue amounted to a few hundred pounds per annum.
The Parliament was a small and irregular body of barons and knights of
the shires, with a few burgesses, unwillingly summoned from the towns,
and a certain number of bishops and abbots, the latter, owing to the
disturbed state of the country, being generally represented by their
proctors. It was summoned at long intervals, and met sometimes in
Dublin, sometimes in Drogheda, at other times in Kilkenny, as occasion
suggested. Even when it did meet legislation was rarely attempted, and
its office was confined mainly to the voting of subsidies. The country
simply drifted at its own pleasure down the road to ruin, and by the
time the battle of Bosworth was fought, the deepest depths of anarchy
had probably been sounded.

The seaport towns alone kept up some little semblance of order and
self-government, and seem to have shown some slight capacity for
self-defence. In 1412, Waterford distinguished itself by the spirited
defence of its walls against the O'Driscolls, a piratical clan of West
Cork, and the following year sent a ship into the enemy's stronghold of
Baltimore, whose crew seized upon the chief himself, his three brothers,
his son, his uncle, and his wife, and carried them off in triumph to
Waterford, a feat which the annals of the town commemorate with laudable
pride. Dublin, too, showed a similar spirit, and fitted out some small
vessels which it sent on a marauding expedition to Scotland, in reward
for which its chief magistrate, who had up to that time been a Provost,
was invested with the title of Mayor. "The king granted them license,"
says Camden, "to choose every year a Mayor and two baliffs." Also that
its Mayor "should have a gilt sword carried before him for ever."

Several eminent figures appear amongst the "ruck of empty names" which
fill up the list of fifteenth-century Irish viceroys. Most of
these were mere birds of passage, who made a few experiments at
government--conciliatory or the reverse, as the case might be--and so
departed again. Sir John Talbot, the scourge of France, and antagonist
of the Maid of Orleans, was one of these. From all accounts he seems to
have quite kept up his character in Ireland. The native writers speak of
him as a second Herod. The colonist detested him for his exactions,
while his soldiery were a scourge to every district they were quartered
upon. He rebuilt the bridge of Athy, however, and fortified it so as to
defend that portion of the Pale, and succeeded in keeping the O'Moores,
O'Byrnes, and the rest of the native marauders to some degree at bay.

In 1449, Richard, Duke of York, was sent to Ireland upon a sort of
honorary exile. He took the opposite tack of conciliation. Although
Ormond was a prominent member of the Lancastrian party, he at once made
gracious overtures to him. Desmond, too, he won over by his courtesy,
and upon the birth of his son George--afterwards the luckless Duke of
Clarence--the rival earls acted as joint sponsors, and when, in 1451, he
left Ireland, he appointed Ormond his deputy and representative.

Nine years later he came back, this time as a fugitive. The popularity
which he had already won stood him then in good stead. Seizing upon the
government, he held it in the teeth of the king and Parliament for more
than a year. The news of the battle of Northampton tempted him to
England. His son, the Earl of March, had been victorious, and Henry VI,
was a prisoner. He was not destined, however, to profit by the success
of his own side. In a temporary Lancastrian triumph he was outnumbered,
and killed by the troops of Queen Margaret at Wakefield.

His Irish popularity descended to his son. A considerable number of
Irish Yorkist partisans, led by the Earl of Kildare, fought beside the
latter at the decisive and sanguinary battle of Towton, at which battle
the rival Earl of Ormond, leader of the Irish Lancastrians, was taken
prisoner, beheaded by the victors, and all his property attained, a blow
from which the Butlers were long in recovering.

No other great Irish house suffered seriously. In England the older
baronage were all but utterly swept away by the Wars of the Roses, only
a few here and there surviving its carnage. In Ireland it was not so. A
certain number of Anglo-Norman names disappear at this point from its
annals, but the greater number of those with which the reader has become
familiar continue to be found in their now long established homes. The
Desmonds and De Burghs still reigned undisputed and unchallenged over
their several remote lordships. Ulster, indeed, had long since become
wholly Irish, but within the Pale the minor barons of Norman
descent--Fingals, Gormanstons, Dunsanys, Trimbelstons and
others--remained where their Norman fathers had established themselves,
and where their descendants for the most part may be found still. The
house of Kildare had grown in strength during the temporary collapse of
its rival, and from this out for nearly a century towers high over every
other Irish house. The Duke of York was the last royal viceroy who
actually held the sword. Others, though nominated, never came over, and
in their absence the Kildares remained omnipotent, generally as
deputies, and even when that office was for a while confided to other
hands, their power was hardly diminished. Only the barren title of
Lord-Lieutenant was withheld, and was as a rule bestowed upon some royal
personage, several times upon children, once in the case of Edward IV.'s
son upon an actual infant in arms.

In 1480, Gerald, eighth Earl of Kildare, called by his own following,
Geroit Mor, or Gerald the Great, became deputy, and, from that time
forward under five successive kings, and during a period of 33 years, he
"reigned" with hardly an interval until his death in 1513.

Geroit Mor is perhaps the most important chief governor who ruled
Ireland upon thorough-going Irish principles. "A mighty man of stature,
full of honour and courage." Stanihurst describes him as being "A knight
in valour;" and "princely and religious in his words and judgments" is
the flattering report of the "Annals of the Four Masters." "His name
awed his enemies more than his army," says Camden. "The olde earle being
soone hotte and soone cold was of the Englishe well beloved," is another
report. "In hys warres hee used a retchlesse (reckless) kynde of
diligence, or headye carelessnesse," is a less strong commendation, but
probably not less true.

He was a gallant man unquestionably, and as far as can be seen an honest
and a well-intentioned one, but his policy was a purely personal, or at
most a provincial, one. As for the interests of the country at large
they seem hardly to have come within his ken. That fashion of looking at
the matter had now so long been the established rule that it had
probably ceased indeed to be regarded as a failing.




When the Battle of Bosworth brought the adherents of the Red Rose back
to triumph, Gerald Mor was still Lord-deputy. He was not deposed,
however, on that account, although the Butlers were at once reinstated
in their own property, and Sir Thomas Butler was created Earl of Ormond.
According to a precedent now prevailing for several reigns, the
Lord-Lieutenancy was conferred upon the Duke of Bedford, the king's
uncle, Kildare continuing, however, practically to exercise all the
functions of government as his deputy.

A dangerous plot, started by the discomfited Yorkist faction, broke out
in Ireland in 1487. An impostor, named Lambert Simnel, was sent by the
Duchess of Burgundy, and trained to simulate the son of Clarence who, it
will be remembered, had been born in Ireland, and whose son was
therefore supposed to have a special claim on that country. Two thousand
German mercenaries were sent with him to support his pretensions.

[Illustration: Ireland In the Reign of Henry VII.]

This Lambert Simnel seems to have been a youth of some talent, and to
have filled his ugly imposter's _rôle_ with as much grace as it admitted
of Bacon, in his history of the reign, tells us that "he was a comely
youth, not without some extraordinary dignity of grace and aspect." The
fashion in which he retailed his sufferings, pleaded his youth, and
appealed to the proverbial generosity of the Irish people, to protect a
hapless prince, robbed of his throne and his birthright, seems to have
produced an immense effect. Kildare, there is reason to suspect, was
privy to the plot, but of others there is no reason to think this, and
with a single exception--that of the Earl of Howth--all the lords of the
Pale and many of the bishops, including the Archbishop of Dublin, seem
to have welcomed the lad--he was only fifteen--with the utmost
enthusiasm, an enthusiasm which Henry's production of the real son of
Clarence had no effect at all in diminishing.

Lambert Simnel was conducted in high state to Dublin, and there crowned
in the presence of the Earl of Kildare, the chancellor, and other State
officers. The crown used for the purpose was taken off the head of a
statue of The Virgin in St. Mary's Abbey, and--a quainter piece of
ceremonial still--the youthful monarch was, after the ceremony, hoisted
upon the shoulders of the tallest man in Ireland, "Great Darcy of
Flatten," and, in this position, promenaded through the streets of
Dublin so as to be seen by the people, after which he was taken back in
triumph to the castle.

His triumph was not, however, long-lived. Emboldened by this preliminary
success, his partizans took him across the sea and landed with a
considerable force at Fondray, in Lancashire, the principal leaders on
this occasion being the Earl of Lincoln, Thomas Fitzgerald, brother to
the Earl of Kildare, Lord Lovell, and Martin Schwartz, the commander of
the German forces.

The enthusiasm that was expected to break out on their arrival failed
however to come off. "Their snowballs," as Bacon puts it, "did not
gather as they went." A battle was fought at Stoke, at which 4,000 of
the rebels fell, including Thomas Fitzgerald, the Earl of Lincoln, and
the German general Martin Schwartz, while Lambert Simnel with his tutor,
Simon the priest, fell into the king's hands, who spared their lives,
and appointed the former to the office of turnspit, an office which he
held for a number of years, being eventually promoted to that of
falconer, and as guardian of the king's hawks he lived and died.

He was not the only culprit whom Henry was willing to pardon. Clemency
indeed was his strong point, and he extended it without stint again and
again to his Irish rebels. He despatched Sir Richard Edgecombe, a member
of the royal household, shortly afterwards upon a mission of
conciliation to Ireland. The royal pardon was to be extended to Kildare
and the rest of the insurgents on condition of their submission.
Kildare's pride stood out for a while against submission on any
conditions, but the Royal Commissioner was firm, and the terms, easy
ones it must be owned, were at last accepted, and an oath of allegiance
sworn to. Kildare, thereupon, was confirmed in his deputyship, and Sir
Richard Edgecombe having first partaken of "much excellent good cheere"
at the earl's castle at Maynooth, returned peaceably to England.

The Irish primate, one of the few ecclesiastics who had refused to
support the impostor, was then, as it happened, in London, and placed
strongly before the king the impolicy of continuing Kildare in office.
Apparently his remonstrance had its effect, for Henry issued a summons
to the deputy and all the Irish nobility to attend at Court, one which
was obeyed with hardly an exception. A dramatic turn is given to this
visit by the fact that Lambert Simnel, the recently crowned king, was
promoted for the occasion to serve wine at dinner to his late Irish
subjects. The poor scullion did his office with what grace he might, but
no one, it is said, would touch the wine until it came to the turn of
the Earl of Howth, the one Irish peer, as we have seen, who had declined
to accept the impostor in his heyday of success. "Nay, but bring me the
cup if the wine be good," quoth he, being a merry gentleman, "and I
shall drink it both for its sake and mine own, and for thee also as thou
art, so I leave thee, a poor innocent!"

Howth, whose speech is recorded by his own family chronicler, received
three hundred pounds as a reward for his loyalty, the rest returned as
they came, lucky, they must have felt under the circumstances, in
returning at all.

Simnel was not the last Yorkist impostor who found credit and an asylum
in Ireland. Peterkin, or Perkin Warbeck was the next whom the
indefatigable Duchess of Burgundy started on the same stage and upon the
same errand. This time the prince supposed to be personated was the
youngest son of Edward IV., one of the two princes murdered in the
tower. He is also occasionally spoken of as a son of Clarence, and
sometimes as an illegitimate son of Richard III.--any royal personage,
in fact, whose age happened to suit. In spite of the slight ambiguity
which overhung his princely origin, he was received with high honour in
Cork, and having appealed to the Earls of Desmond and Kildare, was
accepted by the former with open arms. "You Irish would crown apes!"
Henry afterwards said, not indeed unwarrantably. This time Kildare was
more cautious, though his brother, Sir James Fitzgerald, warmly espoused
the cause of the impostor. Perkin Warbeck remained in Ireland about a
year, when he was invited to France and, for a while, became the centre
of the disaffected Yorkists there. He was a very poor specimen of the
genus impostor, and seems even to have been destitute of the commonplace
quality of courage.

In spite of the unusual prudence displayed by him on this occasion,
Kildare was, in 1497, removed from the deputyship, which was for a time
vested in Walter Fitzsimons, Archbishop of Dublin, a declared enemy of
the Geraldines. Sir James Ormond who represented his brother, the earl,
was appointed Lord Treasurer in place of the Baron of Portlester,
Kildare's uncle, who had held the office for thirty-eight years. Fresh
quarrels thereupon broke out between the Butlers and the rival house,
and each harassed the lands of the other in the usual approved style. A
meeting was at last arranged to take place in St. Patrick's Cathedral
between the two leaders, but a riot breaking out Sir James barred
himself up in alarm in the Chapter House. Kildare arriving at the door
with offers of peace, a hole had to be cut to enable the two to
communicate. Sir James fearing treachery declined to put out his hand,
whereupon Kildare boldly thrust in his, and the rivals shook hands. The
door was then opened; they embraced, and for a while peace was patched
up. The door, with the hole still in it, was extant up to the other day.

The quarrels between these two great houses were interminable, and kept
the whole Pale and the greater part of Ireland in eternal hot water.
Their war-cries of "Crom-a-Boo" and "Butler-a-Boo" filled the very air,
and had to be solemnly prohibited a few years later by special Act of
Parliament. By 1494 the complaints against Kildare had grown so loud and
so long that the king resolved upon a new experiment, that of sending
over an Englishman to fill the post, and Sir Edward Poynings was pitched
upon as the most suitable for the purpose.

He arrived accompanied by a force of a thousand men-at-arms, and five or
six English lawyers, who were appointed to fill the places of
chancellor, treasurer, and other offices from which the present
occupiers, most of whom had been concerned either in the Warbeck or
Simnel rising, were to be ejected.

It was at a parliament summoned at Drogheda, whither this new deputy had
gone to quell a northern rising, that the famous statute known as
Poynings' Act was passed, long a rock of offence, and even still a
prominent feature in Irish political controversy.

Many of the statutes passed by this Parliament--such as the one just
mentioned forbidding war cries, others forbidding the levying of private
forces, forbidding the "country's curse" Coyne and livery, and other
habitual exactions were undoubtedly necessary and called for by the
circumstances of the case. The only ones now remembered however are the
following. First, that no parliament should be summoned by the deputy's
authority without the king's special license for that purpose. Secondly,
that all English statutes should henceforward be regarded as binding
upon Ireland; and thirdly, that all Acts referring to Ireland must be
submitted first to the king and Privy Council, and that, when returned
by them, the Irish Parliament should have no power to modify them
further. This, as will be seen, practically reduced the latter to a mere
court for registering laws already passed elsewhere, passed too often
without the smallest regard to the special requirements of the country.
A condition of subserviency from which it only escaped again for a short
time during the palmy days of the eighteenth century.

By this same parliament Kildare was attained--rather late in the day--on
the ground of conspiracy, and sent prisoner to London. He lay a year in
prison, and was then brought to trial, and allowed to plead his own
cause in the king's presence. The audacity, frank humour, and ready
repartee of his great Irish subject seems to have made a favourable
impression upon Henry, who must himself have had more sense of humour
than English historians give us any impression of. One of the principal
charges against the earl was that he had burned the church at Cashel.
According to the account given in the Book of Howth he readily admitted
the charge, but declared positively that he would never have thought of
doing so had he not been solemnly assured that the archbishop was at the
time inside it. The audacity of this defence is not a little heightened
by the fact that the archbishop in question was at the moment sitting in
court and listening to it.

Advised by the king to provide himself with a good counsel, "By St.
Bride"--his favourite oath--said he, "I know well the fellow I would
have, yea, and the best in England, too!" Asked who that might be.
"Marry, the king himself." The note of comedy struck at the beginning of
the trial lasted to the end. The earl's ready wit seems to have
dumbfounded his accusers, who were not unnaturally indignant at so
unlocked for a result. "All Ireland," they swore, solemnly, "could not
govern the Earl of Kildare." "So it appears," said Henry. "Then let the
Earl of Kildare govern all Ireland."

Whether the account given by Irish historians of this famous trial is to
be accepted literally or not, the result, at any rate, was conclusive.
The king seems to have felt, that Kildare was less dangerous as
sheep-dog--even though a head-strong one--than as wolf, even a wolf in a
cage. He released him and restored him to his command. Prince Henry,
according to custom, becoming nominally Lord-Lieutenant, with Kildare as
deputy under him. The earl's wife had lately died, and before leaving
England he strengthened himself against troubles to come by marrying
Elizabeth St. John, the king's cousin, and having left his son Gerald
behind as hostage for his good behaviour, sailed merrily home
to Ireland.

Perkin Warbeck meanwhile had made another foray upon Munster, where he
was supported by Desmond, and repulsed with no little ignominy by the
townsfolk of Waterford; after which he again departed and was seen no
more upon that stage. Kildare--whose own attainder was not reversed
until after his arrival in Ireland--presided over a parliament, one of
whose first acts was to attaint Lord Barrymore and the other Munster
gentlemen for their share in this rising. He also visited Cork and
Kinsale, leaving a garrison behind him; rebuilt several towns in
Leinster which had been ruined in a succession of raids; garrisoned the
borders of the Pale with new castles, and for the first time in its
history brought ordnance into Ireland, which he employed in the siege of
Belrath Castle. A factor destined to work a revolution upon Irish
traditional modes of warfare, and upon none with more fatal effect than
upon the house of Fitzgerald itself.

That Kildare's authority, even during this latter period of his
government was wholly exercised in the cause of tranquility it would be
certainly rash to assert. At the same time it may be doubted whether any
better choice was open to the king--short of some very drastic policy
indeed. That he used his great authority to overthrow his own enemies
and to aggrandize his own house goes almost without saying. The titular
sovereignty of the king could hope to count for little beside the real
sovereignty of the earl, and the house of Kildare naturally loomed far
larger and more imposingly in Ireland than the house of Tudor. Despotism
in some form was the only practical and possible government, and Earl
Gerald was all but despotic within the Pale, and even outside it was at
any rate stronger than any other single individual. The Desmond
Geraldines lived remote, the Butlers, who came next to the Geraldines in
importance, held Kilkenny, Carlow, and Tipperary, but were cut off from
Dublin by the wild mountains of Wicklow, and the wilder tribes of
O'Tooles, and O'Byrnes who held them. They were only able to approach it
through Kildare, and Kildare was the head-quarters of the Geraldines.

One of Earl Gerald's last, and, upon the whole, his most remarkable
achievement was that famous expedition which ended in the battle of
Knocktow already alluded to in an earlier chapter, in which a large
number of the lords of the Pale, aided by the native allies of the
deputy, took part. In this case there was hardly a pretence that the
expedition was undertaken in the king's service. It was a family quarrel
pure and simple, between the deputy and his son-in-law McWilliam, of
Clanricarde. The native account tells us that the latter's wife "was not
so used as the earl (her father) could be pleased with," whereupon "he
swore to be revenged upon this Irishman and all his partakers," The
notion of a Fitzgerald stigmatizing a De Burgh as an Irishman is
delightful, and eminently characteristic of the sort of wild confusion
prevailing on the subject. The whole story indeed is so excellent, and
is told by the narrator with so much spirit, that it were pity to
curtail it, and as it stands it would be too long for these pages. The
result was that Clanricarde and his Irish allies were defeated with
frightful slaughter, between seven and eight thousand men, according to
the victors, having been left dead upon the field! Galway, previously
held by Clanricarde, was re-occupied, and the deputy and his allies
returned in triumph to Dublin, whence the archbishop was despatched in
hot haste to explain matters to the king.

A slight incident which took place at the end of this battle is too
characteristic to omit. "We have done one good work," observed Lord
Gormanston, one of the Lords of the Pale, confidentially to the
Lord-deputy. "And if we now do the other we shall do well," Asked by the
latter what he meant, he replied, "We have for the most part killed our
enemies, if we do the like with all the Irishmen that we have with us it
were a good deed[7]." Happily for his good fame Kildare seems to have
been able to resist the tempting suggestion, and the allies parted on
this occasion to all appearances on friendly terms.

[7] Book of Howth.



The battle of Knocktow was fought five years before the death of Henry
VII. Of those five years and of the earlier ones of the new reign little
of any vital importance remains to be recorded in Ireland. With the rise
of Wolsey to power however a new era set in. The great cardinal was the
sworn enemy of the Geraldines. He saw in them the most formidable
obstacle to the royal power in that country. The theory that the
Kildares were the only people who could carry on the government had by
this time become firmly established. No one in Ireland could stand
against the earl, and when the earl was out of Ireland the whole island
was in an uproar. The confusion too between Kildare in his proper
person, and Kildare as the king's Viceroy was, it must be owned, a
perennial one, and upon more than one occasion had all but brought the
government to an absolute standstill.

Geroit Mor had died in 1513 of a wound received in a campaign with the
O'Carrolls close to his own castle of Kilkea, but almost as a matter of
course his son Gerald had succeeded him as Viceroy and carried on the
government in much the same fashion; had made raids on the O'Moores and
O'Reillys and others of the "king's Irish enemies," and been rewarded
with grants upon the lands which he had captured from the rebels. The
state of the Pale was terrible. "Coyne and livery," it was declared, had
eaten up the people. The sea, too, swarmed with pirates, who descended
all but unchecked upon the coast and carried off men and women to
slavery. Many complaints were made of the deputy, and by 1520 these had
grown so loud and long that Henry resolved upon a change, and like his
predecessor determined to send an English governor, one upon whom he
could himself rely.

The choice fell upon the Earl of Surrey, son of the conqueror of
Flodden. Surrey's survey of the field soon convinced him to his own
satisfaction that no half measures was likely to be of any avail. The
plan proposed by him had certainly the merit of being sufficiently
sweeping. Ireland was to be entirely reconquered. District was to be
taken after district, and fortresses to be built to hold them according
as they were conquered. The occupation was thus to be pushed steadily on
until the whole country submitted, after which it was to be largely
repopulated by English colonists. The idea was a large one, and would
have taken a large permanent army to carry out. The loss too of life
would have been appalling, though not, it was represented to the king,
greater than was annually squandered in an interminable succession of
petty wars. Probably the expense was the real hindrance. At any rate
Surrey's plan was put aside for the time being, and not long afterwards
at his own urgent prayer he was allowed to lay down his uneasy honours
and return to England.

Meanwhile Earl Gerald the younger had been rapidly gaining favour at
Court, had accompanied Henry to France, and like his father before him,
had wooed and won an English bride. Like his father, too, he possessed
that winning charm which had for generations characterized his house.
Quick-witted and genial, with the bright manner and courteous ease of
high-bred gentlemen, such--even on the showing of those who had no love
for them--was the habitual bearing of these Leinster Geraldines. The end
was that Kildare after a while was allowed to return to Ireland, and
upon Surrey's departure, and after a brief and very unsuccessful tenure
of office by Sir Pierce Butler, the deputyship was restored to him.

Three years later he was again summoned, and this time, on Wolsey's
urgent advice, thrown into the Tower. Heavy accusations had been made
against him, the most formidable of which was that he had used the
king's ordnance to strengthen his own castle of Maynooth. The Ormonds
and the cardinal were bent upon his ruin. The earl, however, faced his
accusers boldly; met even the great cardinal himself in a war of words,
and proved to be more than his equal. Once again he was acquitted and
restored to Ireland, and after a while the deputyship was restored to
him, John Allen, a former chaplain of Wolsey's, being however appointed
Archbishop of Dublin, and Chancellor, with private orders to keep a
watch upon Kildare, and to report his proceedings to the
English Council.

Yet a third time in 1534 he was summoned, and now the case was more
serious. The whole situation had in fact in the meanwhile utterly
changed, Henry was now in the thick of his great struggle with Rome.
With excommunication hanging over his head, Ireland had suddenly become
a formidable peril. Fears were entertained of a Spanish descent upon its
coast. One of the emperor's chaplains was known to be intriguing with
the Earl of Desmond. Cromwell's iron hand too was over the realm and
speedily made itself felt in Ireland. Kildare was once more thrown into
the Tower, from which this time he was never destined to emerge. He was
ill already of a wound received the previous year, and the confinement
and trouble of mind--which before long became acute--brought his life
to a close.

His son Thomas--generally known as Silken Thomas from the splendour of
his clothes--had been rashly appointed vice-deputy by his father before
his departure. In the month of August, a report reached Ireland that the
earl had been executed, and the whole house of Geraldine was forthwith
thrown into the wildest convulsions of fury at the intelligence. Young
Lord Thomas--he was only at the time twenty-one--hot-tempered,
undisciplined, and brimful of the pride of his race--at once flew to
arms. His first act was to renounce his allegiance to England. Galloping
up to the Council with a hundred and fifty Geraldines at his heels, he
seized the Sword of State, marched into the council-room, and addressing
the Council in his capacity of Vice-deputy, poured forth a speech full
of boyish fanfaronade and bravado. "Henceforth," said he, "I am none of
Henry's deputy! I am his foe! I have more mind to meet him in the field,
than to serve him in office." With other words to the like effect he
rendered up the Sword, and once more springing upon his horse, galloped
out of Dublin.

He was back again before long, this time with intent to seize the town.
There was little or no defence. Ormond was away; the walls were decayed;
ordnance was short--a good deal of it, the Geraldine enemies said, had
been already removed to Maynooth. White, the commander, threw himself
into the castle; the gates were opened; Lord Thomas cantered in and took
possession of the town, the garrison remaining placidly looking on.

Worse was to come. Allen, the archbishop, and the great enemy of the
Fitzgeralds made an attempt to escape to England, but was caught and
savagely murdered by some of the Geraldine adherents upon the sea coast
near Clontarf. When the news of these proceedings--especially of the
last named--reached England, the sensation naturally was immense. Henry
hastily despatched Sir William Skeffington with a considerable force to
restore order, but his coming was long delayed, and when he did arrive
his operations were feeble in the extreme. Ormond had marched rapidly up
from the south, and almost single-handed defended the interests of
government. Even after his arrival Skeffington, who was old, cautious,
and enfeebled by bad health, remained for months shut up in Dublin doing
nothing, the followers of Lord Thomas wasting the country at pleasure,
and burning the towns of Trim and Dunboyne, not many miles from
its walls.

The Earl of Kildare had meanwhile died in prison, broken-hearted at the
news of this ill-starred rising, in which he doubtless foresaw the ruin
of his house. It was not until the month of March, eight months after
his arrival in Ireland, that Sir William ventured to leave Dublin, and
advance to the attack of Maynooth Castle, the great Leinster stronghold
and Paladium of the Geraldines. Young Kildare, as he now was, was away
in the south, but managed to throw some additional men into the castle,
which was already strongly fortified, and believed in Ireland to be
impregnable. The siege train imported by the deputy shortly dispelled
that illusion. Whether, as is asserted, treachery from within aided the
result or not, the end was not long delayed. After a few days
Skeffington's cannons made a formidable breach in the walls. The English
soldiery rushed in. The defenders threw down their arms and begged
mercy, and a long row of them, including the Dean of Kildare and another
priest who happened to be in the castle at the time were speedily
hanging in front of its walls. "The Pardon of Maynooth" was from that
day forth a well-known Irish equivalent for the gallows!

This was the end of the rebellion. The destruction of Maynooth Castle
seems to have struck a cold chill to the very hearts of the Geraldines.
For a while, Earl Thomas and his brother-in-law, the chief of the
O'Connors, tried vainly to sustain the spirits of their followers. The
rising seems to have melted away almost of its own accord, and within a
few months the young leader himself surrendered to Lord Leonard Grey,
the English commander, upon the understanding that his life was to be
spared. Lord Leonard was his near relative, and therefore no doubt
willing, as far as was compatible with safety to himself, to do the best
he could for his kinsman. Whether a promise was formally given, or
whether as was afterwards asserted "comfortable words were spoken to
Thomas to allure him to yield" the situation was considered too grave
for any mere fanciful consideration of honour to stand in the way. Lord
Thomas was not executed upon the spot, but he was thrown into prison,
and a year later with five of his uncles, two of whom at least had had
no share whatever in the raising, he was hanged at Tyburn. Of all the
great house of the Leinster Geraldines only a boy of twelve years old
survived this hecatomb.




In spite of his feeble health and feebler energies, Sir William
Skeffington was continued Lord-deputy until his death, which took place
not many months after the fall of Maynooth--"A good man of war, but not
quick enough for Ireland"--seems to have been the verdict of his
contemporaries upon him. He was succeeded by Lord Leonard Grey, against
whom no such charge could be made. His energy seems to have been
immense. He loved, we are told, to be "ever in the saddle." Such was the
rapidity of his movements, and such the terror they inspired that for a
while a sort of awe-struck tranquillity prevailed. He overran Cork;
broke down the castles of the Barrys and Munster Geraldines; destroyed
the famous bridge over the Shannon across which the O'Briens of Clare
had been in the habit of descending from time immemorial upon the Pale,
and after these various achievements returned triumphantly to Dublin.

His Geraldine connection proved however his ruin. He was accused of
favouring the adherents of their fallen house, and even of conniving at
the escape of its last legitimate heir; of playing "Bo Peep" with him,
as Stanihurst, the historian puts it. Ormond and the deputy were never
friends, and Ormond had won--not undeservedly--great weight in the
councils of Henry. "My Lord-deputy," Lord Butler, Ormond's son had
declared, "is the Earl of Kildare born over again." Luttrell, on the
other hand, declared that "Ormond hated Grey worse than he had hated
Kildare." All agreed that Lord Leonard was difficult to work with. He
seems to have been a well-intentioned man, a hard worker, and a keen
soldier, but neither subtle enough nor conciliatory enough for his
place. He was accused of treasonable practices, and a list of formidable
charges made against him. At his own request he was summoned to court to
answer these. To a good many he pleaded guilty--half in contempt as it
would seem--and threw himself upon the mercy of the king. No mercy
however followed. Like many another "well-meaning English official" of
the period, his life ended upon the scaffold.

A more astute and cautious man, Sir Anthony St. Leger, next took the
helm in Ireland. His task was chiefly one of diplomacy, and he carried
it out with much address. In 1537 a parliament had been summoned in
Dublin for the purpose of carrying out the Act of Supremacy. To this
proposal the lay members seem to have been perfectly indifferent, but,
as was to be expected, the clergy stood firmer. So resolute were they in
their opposition that the parliament had to be prorogued, and upon its
re-assembling, a Bill was hastily forced through by the Privy Council,
declaring that the proctors, who had long represented the clergy in the
Lower House, had henceforward no place in the Legislature. The Act of
Supremacy was then passed: thirteen abbeys were immediately suppressed,
and the firstfruits made over to the king in place of the Pope. The
foundation of the new edifice was felt to have been securely laid.

This was followed five years later by another Act, by which the property
of over four hundred religious houses was confiscated. That the
arguments which applied forcibly enough in many cases for the
confiscations of religious houses in England had no application in
Ireland, was a circumstance which was not allowed to count. In England,
the monasteries were rich; in Ireland, they were, for the most part,
very poor: in England, they absorbed the revenues of the parishes; in
Ireland, the monks as a rule served the parishes themselves: in England,
popular condemnation had to a great degree already forestalled the legal
enactment; in Ireland, nothing of the sort had ever been thought of: in
England, the monks were as a rule distinctly behind the higher orders of
laity in education; in Ireland, they were practically the only
educators. These however were details. Uniformity was desirable. The
monasteries were doomed, and before long means were found to enlist most
of the Irish landowners, Celts no less than Normans, in favour of the

At a great parliament summoned in Dublin in 1540, all the Irish lords of
English descent, and a large muster of native chieftains were for the
first time in history assembled together under one roof. O'Tooles and
O'Byrnes from their wild Wicklow mountains; the McMurroughs from Carlow,
the O'Connor, the O'Dunn, the O'Moore; the terrible McGillapatrick from
his forests of Upper Ossory--all the great O's and Macs in fact of
Ireland were called together to meet the Butlers, the Desmonds, the
Barrys, the Fitzmaurices--their hereditary enemies now for four long
centuries. One house alone was not represented, and that the greatest of
them all. The sun of the Kildares had set for a while, and the only
surviving member of it was a boy, hiding in holes and corners, and
trusting for the bare life to the fealty of his clansmen.

Nothing that could reconcile the chiefs to the new religious departure
was omitted upon this occasion. Their new-found loyalty was to be
handsomely rewarded with a share of the Church spoil. Nor did they show
the smallest reluctance, it must be said, to meet the king's good
dispositions half way. The principal Church lands in Galway were made
over to McWilliam, the head of the Burkes; O'Brien received the abbey
lands in Thomond; other chiefs received similar benefices according to
their degree, while a plentiful shower of less substantial, but still
appreciated favours followed. The turbulent McGillapatrick of Ossory was
to be converted into the decorous-sounding Lord Upper Ossory. For Con
O'Neill as soon as he chose to come in, the Earldom of Tyrone was
waiting. McWilliam Burke of Galway was to become Earl of Clanricarde;
O'Brien of Clare, Earl of Thomond and Baron of Inchiquin. Parliamentary
robes, and golden chains; a house in Dublin for each chief during the
sitting of Parliament--these were only a portion of the good things
offered by the deputy on the part of his master. Could man or monarch do
more? In a general interchange of civilities the "King's Irish enemies"
combined with their hereditary foes to proclaim him no longer Lord, but
King of Ireland--"Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England
and Ireland on earth the Supreme Head."




So far so good. Despite a few trifling clouds which overhung the
horizon, the latter years of Henry VIII.'s life and the short reign of
his successor may claim to count among the comparatively halcyon periods
of Irish history. The agreement with the landowners worked well, and no
serious fears of any purpose to expel them from their lands had as yet
been awakened. Henry's policy was upon the whole steadily conciliatory.
Tyrant as he was, he could be just when his temper was not roused, and
he kept his word loyally in this case. To be just and firm, and to give
time for those hitherto untried varieties of government to work, was at
once the most merciful and most politic course that could be pursued.
Unfortunately for the destinies of Ireland, unfortunately for the future
comfort of her rulers, there was too little patience to persevere in
that direction. The Government desired to eat their loaf before there
was fairly time for the corn to sprout. The seed of conciliation had
hardly begun to grow before it was plucked hastily up by the roots
again. The plantations of Mary's reign, and the still larger operations
carried on in that of her sister, awakened a deep-seated feeling of
distrust, a rooted belief in the law as a mysterious and
incomprehensible instrument invented solely for the perpetration of
injustice, a belief which is certainly not wholly extinguished even in
our own day.

For the present, however, "sober ways, politic shifts, and amicable
persuasions" were the rule. Chief after chief accepted the indenture
which made him owner in fee simple under the king of his tribal lands.
These indentures, it is true, were in themselves unjust, but then it was
not as it happened a form of injustice that affected them unpleasantly.
Con O'Neill, Murrough O'Brien, McWilliam of Clanricarde, all visited
Greenwich in the summer of 1543, and all received their peerages direct
from the king's own hands. The first named, as became his importance,
was received with special honour, and received the title of Earl of
Tyrone, with the second title of Baron of Dungannon for any son whom he
liked to name. The son whom he did name--apparently in a fit of
inadvertence--was one Matthew, who is confidently asserted to have not
been his son at all, but the son of a blacksmith, and who in any case
was not legitimate. An odd choice, destined, as will be seen, to lead to
a good deal of bloodshed later on.

One or two of the new peers were even persuaded to send over their heirs
to be brought up at the English Court, according to a gracious hint from
the king. Young Barnabie FitzPatrick, heir to the new barony of Upper
Ossory, was one of these, and the descendent of a long line of turbulent
McGillapatricks, grew up there into a douce-mannered English-seeming
youth, the especial friend and chosen companion of the mild
young prince.

While civil strife was thus settling down, religious strife
unfortunately was only beginning to awaken. The question of supremacy
had passed over as we have seen in perfect tranquillity; it was a very
different matter when it came to a question of doctrine. Unlike England,
Ireland had never been touched by religious controversy. The native
Church and the Church of the Pale were sharply separated from one
another it is true, but it was by blood, language, and mutual
jealousies, not by creed, doctrine, or discipline. As regards these
points they were all but absolutely identical. The attempt to change
their common faith was instantly and vehemently resisted by both alike.
Could a Luther or a John Knox have arrived, with all the fervour of
their popular eloquence, the case might possibly have been different. No
Knox or Luther however, showed the slightest symptom of appearing,
indeed hardly an attempt was made to supply doctrines to the new
converts. The few English divines that did come knew no Irish, those who
listened to them knew no English. The native priests were silent and
suspicious. A general pause of astonishment and consternation prevailed.

The order for the destruction of relics broke this silence, and sent a
passionate thrill of opposition through all breasts, lay as well as
clerical. When the venerated remains of the golden days of the Irish
Church were collected together and publicly destroyed, especially when
the staff of St. Patrick, the famous Baculum Cristatum, part of which
was believed to have actually touched the hands of the Saviour, was
burnt in Dublin in the market-place, a spasm of shocked dismay ran
through the whole island. Men who would have been scandalized by no
other form of violence were horror-stricken at this. Differences of
creed were so little understood that a widespread belief that a new era
of paganism was about to be inaugurated sprang up all over Ireland. To
this belief the friars, who, though driven from their cloisters, were
still numerous, lent their support, as did the Jesuits, who now for the
first time began to arrive in some numbers. Even the acceptance of the
supremacy began to be rebelled against now that it was clearly seen what
it was leading to. An order to read the new English liturgy was met with
sullen resistance--"Now shall every illiterate fellow read mass!" cried
Archbishop Dowdal of Armagh, in hot wrath and indignation. Brown, the
Archbishop of Dublin, was an ardent reformer, so also was the Bishop of
Meath, but to the mass of their brethren they simply appeared to be
heretics. A proposal was made to translate the Prayer-book into Irish,
but it was never carried into effect, indeed, even in the next century
when Bishop Bedell proposed to undertake the task he received little

The attempt to force Protestantism upon the country produced one, and
only one, important result. It broke down those long-standing barriers
which had hitherto separated Irishmen of different blood and lineage,
and united them like one man against the Crown. When the common faith
was touched the common sense of brotherhood was kindled. "The English
and Irish," Archbishop Brown wrote in despair to Cromwell, "both oppose
your lordship's orders, and begin to lay aside their own quarrels." Such
a result might be desirable in itself, but it certainly came in the form
least likely to prove propitious for the future tranquillity of the
country. Even those towns where loyalty had hitherto stood above
suspicion received the order to dismantle their churches and destroy all
"pictures and Popish fancies" with sullen dislike and hostility. Galway,
Kilkenny, Waterford, each and all protested openly. The Irish
problem--not so very easy of solution before--had suddenly received a
new element of confusion. One that was destined to prove a greater
difficulty than all the rest put together.




With Mary's accession the religious struggle was for a while postponed.
Some feeble attempts were even made to recover the Church property, but
too many people's interests were concerned for much to be done in that
direction. Dowdal, Archbishop of Armagh, who had been deprived, was
restored to his primacy. Archbishop Brown and the other conforming
bishops were deprived. So also were all married clergy, of whom there
seem to have been but few; otherwise there was no great difference. As
far as the right of exercising her supremacy was concerned, Mary
relished Papal interference nearly as little as did her father.

Although the religious struggle was thus for a time postponed, the other
vital Irish point--the possession of the land--now began to be pressed
with new vigour. Fercal, Leix, and Offaly, belonging to the fierce
tribes of the O'Moores, O'Dempseys, O'Connors, and O'Carrols, lay upon
the Kildare frontier of the Pale, and had long been a standing menace to
their more peaceful neighbours. It was now determined that this tract
should be added to the still limited area of shire land. The chiefs, it
is true, had been indentured by Henry, but since then there had been
outbreaks of the usual sort, and it was considered by the Government
that nowhere could the longed-for experiment of a plantation be tried
with greater advantage.

There was little or no resistance. The chiefs, taken by surprise,
submitted. The English force sent against them, under the command of Sir
Edward Bellingham, was irresistible. O'Moore and O'Connor were seized
and sent prisoners to England. Dangen, which had so often resisted the
soldiers of the Pale was taken. The tribesmen whose fathers had fed
their cattle from time immemorial upon the unfenced pastures of the
plains were driven off, and took refuge in the forests, which still
covered most of the centre of Ireland. The more profitable land was then
leased by the Crown to English colonists--Cosbies, Barringtons, Pigotts,
Bowens, and others. Leix and a portion of Offaly were called Queen's
County, in compliment to the queen, the remainder King's County, in
compliment to Philip. Dangen at the same time becoming Phillipstown, and
Campa Maryborough. The experiment was regarded as eminently successful,
and congratulations passed between the deputy and the English Council,
but it awakened a deep-seated sense of insecurity and ill-usage, which
argued poorly for the tranquillity of the future.

Of the rest of Mary's reign little needs to be here recorded. That
indelible brand of blood which it has left on English history was all
but unfelt in Ireland. There had been few Protestant converts, and those
few were not apparently emulous of martyrdom. No Smithfield fires were
lighted in Dublin, indeed it is a curious fact that in the whole course
of Irish history--so prodigal of other horrors--no single execution for
heresy is, it is said, recorded. A story is found in the Ware Papers,
and supported by the authority of Archbishop Ussher, which, if true,
shows that this reproach to Irish Protestantism--if indeed it is a
reproach--was once nearly avoided. The story runs that one Cole, Dean of
St. Paul's, was despatched by Mary with a special commission to "lash
the heretics of Ireland." That Cole slept on his way at an inn in
Chester, the landlady of which happened to have a brother, a Protestant
then living in Dublin. This woman, hearing him boast of his commission,
watched her opportunity, and stole the commission out of his cloak-bag,
substituting for it a pack of cards. Cole unsuspiciously pursued his
way, and presenting himself authoritatively before the deputy, declared
his business and opened his bag. There, in place of the commission
against the heretics, lay the pack of cards with the knave of clubs

The story goes on to say that the dean raged in discomfited fury, but
that the deputy, though himself a Roman Catholic, took the matter
easily. "Let us have another commission," he said, "and meanwhile we
will shuffle the cards." The cards were effectually shuffled, for before
any further steps could be taken Mary had died.



Upon the 17th of November, 1558, Mary died, and upon the afternoon of
the same day Elizabeth was proclaimed queen. A new reign is always
accounted a new starting-point, and in this case the traditional method
of dividing history is certainly no misleader. The old queen had been
narrow, dull-witted, bigoted; an unhappy woman, a miserable wife,
plagued with sickness, plagued, above all, with a conscience whose
mission seems to have been to distort everything that came under its
cognizance. A woman even whose good qualities--and she had several--only
seemed to push her further and further down the path of disaster.

The new queen was twenty-six years old. Old enough, therefore, to have
realized what life meant, young enough to have almost illimitable
possibilities still unrevealed to her. No pampered royal heiress,
either, for whom the world of hard facts had no reality, and the silken
shams of a Court constituted the only standpoint, but one who had
already with steady eyes looked danger and disaster in the face and knew
them for what they were. With a realm under her hand strong already, and
destined before her death to grow stronger still; with a spirit too,
strong enough and large enough for her realm; stronger perhaps in spite
of her many littlenesses than that of any of the men she ruled over.

And Ireland? How was it affected by this change of rulers? At first
fairly well. The early months of the new reign were marked by a policy
of conciliation. Protestantism was of course, re-established, but there
was no eagerness to press the Act of Conformity with any severity, and
Mass was still said nearly everywhere except in the Pale.

As usual, troubles began in the North. Henry VIII., it will be
remembered, had granted the hereditary lands of Tyrone to Con O'Neill,
with remainder to Matthew, the new Baron of Dungannon, whereas lands in
Ulster, as elsewhere in Ireland, had always hitherto, by the law of
Tanistry, been vested in the tribe, who claimed the right to select
whichever of their late chiefs' sons they themselves thought fit. This
right they now proceeded to exercise. Matthew, if he was Con's son at
all, which was doubtful, was unquestionably illegitimate, and,
therefore, by English as well as Irish law, wrongfully put in the place.
On the other hand, a younger son Shane--called affectionately "Shane the
Proud" by his clansmen--was unquestionably legitimate, and what was of
much more importance, was already the idol of every fighting O'Neill
from Lough Foyle to the banks of the Blackwater.

Shane is one of those Irish heroes--rather perhaps Ulster heroes, for
his aspirations were hardly national--whom it is extremely difficult to
mete out justice to with a perfectly even hand. He was unquestionably
three-fourths of a savage--that fact we must begin in honesty by
admitting--at the same time, he was a very brilliant, and, even in many
respects attractive, savage. His letters, though suffering like those of
some other distinguished authors from being translated, are full of
touches of fiery eloquence, mixed with bombast and the wildest and most
monstrously inflated self-pretension. His habits certainly were not
commendable. He habitually drank, and it is also said ate a great deal
more than was good for him. He ill-used his unlucky prisoners. He
divorced one wife to marry another, and was eager to have a third in the
lifetime of the second, making proposals at the same time to the deputy
for the hand of his sister, and again and again petitioning the queen to
provide him with some "English gentlewoman of noble blood, meet for my
vocation, so that by her good civility and bringing up the country would
become civil." In spite however of these and a few other lapses from the
received modern code of morals and decorum, Shane the Proud is an
attractive figure in his way, and we follow his fortunes with an
interest which more estimable heroes fail sometimes to awaken.

The Baron of Dungannon was in the meantime dead, having been slain in a
scuffle with his half-brother's followers--some said by his
half-brother's own hand--previous to his father's death. His son,
however, who was still a boy, was safe in England, and now appealed
through his relations to the Government, and Sir Henry Sidney, who in
Lord Sussex's absence was in command, marched from Dublin to support the
English candidate. At a meeting which took place at Dundalk Shane seems
however to have convinced Sidney to some degree of the justice of his
claim, and hostilities were delayed until the matter could be reported
to the queen.

Upon Sussex's return from England they broke out again. Shane, however,
had by this time considerably strengthened his position. Not only had he
firmly established himself in the allegiance of his own tribe, but had
found allies and assistants outside it. There had of late been a steady
migration of Scotch islanders into the North of Ireland, "Redshanks" as
they were familiarly called, and a body of these, got together by Shane
and kept as a body-guard, enabled him to act with unusual rapidity and
decision. Upon Sussex attempting to detach two chieftains, O'Reilly of
Brefny and O'Donnell of Tyrconnel, who owed him allegiance, Shane flew
into Brefny and Tyrconnel, completely overawed the two waverers, and
carried off Calvagh O'Donnell with his wife, who was a sister-in-law of
the Earl of Argyle. The following summer he encountered Sussex himself
and defeated him, sending his army flying terror-stricken back upon
Armagh. This feat established him as the hero of the North. No army
which Sussex could again gather together could be induced to risk the
fate of its predecessor. The deputy was a poor soldier, feeble and
vacillating in the field. He was no match for his fiery assailant; and
after an attempt to get over the difficulty by suborning one Neil Grey
to make away with the too successful Shane, he was reduced to the
necessity of coming to terms. An agreement was entered into with the
assistance of the Earl of Kildare, by which Shane agreed to present
himself at the English Court, and there, if he could, to make good his
claims in person before the queen.

Few scenes are more picturesque, or stand out more vividly before our
imagination than this visit of the turbulent Ulster chieftain to the
capital of his unknown sovereign. As he came striding down the London
streets on his way to the Palace, the citizens ran to their doors to
stare at the redoubtable Irish rebel with his train of galloglasses at
his heels--huge bareheaded fellows clad in saffron shirts, their huge
naked axes swung over their shoulders, their long hair streaming behind
them, their great hairy mantles dangling nearly to their heels. So
attended, and in such order, Shane presented himself before the queen,
amid a buzz, as may be imagined, of courtly astonishment. Elizabeth
seems to have been equal to the situation. She motioned Shane, who had
prostrated himself, clansman fashion upon the floor, to rise, "check'd
with a glance the circle's smile," eyeing as she did so, not without
characteristic appreciation, the redoubtable thews and sinews of this
the most formidable of her vassals.

Her appreciation, equally characteristically, did not hinder her from
taking advantage of a flaw in his safe-conduct to keep Shane fuming at
her Court until he had agreed to her own terms. When at last he was
allowed to return home it was with a sort of compromise of his claim. He
was not to call himself Earl of Tyrone--a distinction to which, in
truth, he seems to have attached little importance--but he was allowed
to be still the O'Neill, with the additional title of "Captain of
Tyrone." To which the wits of the Court added--

     "Shane O'Neill, Lord of the North of Ireland;
     Cousin of St. Patrick. Friend of the Queen of England;
     Enemy of all the world besides."

Shane and his galloglasses went home, and for some two years he and the
Irish Government left one another comparatively alone. He was supreme
now in the North, and ruled his own subjects at his own pleasure and
according to his own rude fashion. Sussex made another attempt not long
after to poison him in a gift of wine, which all but killed him and his
entire household, which still included the unhappy "Countess" and her
yet more unhappy husband Calvagh O'Donnell, whom Shane kept securely
ironed in a cell at the bottom of his castle. The incident did not add
to his confidence in the Queen's Government, or incline him to trust
himself again in their hands, which, all things considered, was hardly

That in his own wild way Shane kept the North in order even his enemies
admitted. While the East and West of Ireland were distracted with feuds,
and in the South Ormond and Desmond were wasting one another's country
with unprecedented ferocity, Ulster was comparatively peaceable and
prosperous. Chiefs who made themselves objectionable to Shane felt the
weight of his arm, but that perhaps had not a little to say to this
tranquillity. Mr. Froude--no exaggerated admirer of Irish heroes--tells
us _apropos_ of this time, "In O'Neill's county alone in Ireland were
peasants prosperous, or life and property safe," though he certainly
adds that their prosperity flourished largely upon the spoils collected
by them from the rest of the country.

That Shane himself believed that he had so far kept his word with
Elizabeth is pretty evident, for in a letter to her written in his usual
inflated style about the notorious Sir Thomas Stukeley, he entreats that
she will pardon the latter "for his sake and in the name of the services
which he had himself rendered to England." Whether Elizabeth, or still
more Sidney, were equally convinced of those services is an
open question.

Shane's career however was rapidly running to a close. In 1565 he made a
sudden and unexpected descent upon the Scots in Antrim, where, after a
fierce combat, an immense number of the latter were slaughtered, a feat
for which he again had the audacity to write to Elizabeth and assure her
that it was all done in her service. Afterwards he made a descent on
Connaught, driving back with him into his own country over 4000 head of
cattle which he had captured. His game, however, was nearly at an end.
Sir Henry Sidney was now back to Ireland, this time with the express
purpose of crushing the rebel, and had marched into Ulster with a
considerable force for that purpose. Shane, nevertheless, still showed a
determined front. Struck up an alliance with Argyle, and wrote to France
for instant aid to hold Ulster against Elizabeth, nay, in spite of his
recent achievement, he seems to have even hoped to win the Scotch
settlers over to his side. Sidney however was this time in earnest, and
was a man of very different calibre from Sussex, in whom Shane had
previously found so easy an antagonist. He marched right across Ulster,
and entered Tyrconnel; reinstated the O'Donnells who had been driven
thence by Shane; continued his march to Sligo, and from there to
Connaught, leaving Colonel Randolph and the O'Donnells to hold the North
and finish the work which he had begun.

Randolph's camp was pitched at Dorry--not then the _protégée_ of London,
nor yet famed in story, but a mere insignificant hamlet, consisting of
an old castle and a disused graveyard. It was this latter site that the
unlucky English commander selected for his camp, with, as might be
expected, the most disastrous results. Fever broke out, the water proved
to be poisonous, and in a short time half the force were dead or dying,
Randolph himself being amongst the former. An explosion which occurred
in a magazine finished the disaster, and the scared survivors escaped in
dismay to Carrickfergus. Local superstition long told tales of the fiery
portents and miracles by which the heretic soldiery were driven from the
sacred precincts which their presence had polluted.

With that odd strain of greatness which ran through her, Elizabeth seems
to have accepted this disaster well, and wrote "comfortable words" to
Sidney upon the subject. For the time being, however, the attack upon
Shane devolved of necessity wholly upon his native foes.

Aided by good fortune they proved for once more than a match for him.
Encouraged by the disaster of the Derry garrison, Shane made a hasty
advance into Tyrconnel, and crossed with a considerable force over the
ford of Lough Swilly, near Letterkenny. He found the O'Donnells, though
fewer in number than his own forces, established in a strong position
upon the other side. From this position he tried to drive them by force,
but the O'Donnells were prepared, and Shane's troops coming on in
disorder were beaten back upon the river. The tide had in the meantime
risen, and there was therefore no escape. Penned between the flood and
the O'Donnells, over 3000 of his men perished, many by drowning, but the
greater number being hacked to death upon the strand. Shane himself
narrowly escaped with his life by another ford.

The Hero of the North was now a broken man. Such a disaster was not to
be retrieved. The English troops were again coming rapidly up. The
victorious O'Donnells held all the country behind him. A French descent,
even if it had come, would hardly have saved him now. In this extremity
a desperate plan occurred to him. Followed by a few horsemen, and
accompanied by the unhappy "Countess" who had so long shared his curious
fortunes, he rode off to the camp of the Scotch settlers in Antrim,
there to throw himself on their mercy and implore their support. It was
an insane move. He was received with seeming courtesy, and a banquet
spread in his honour. Lowering looks however were bent upon him from
every side of the table. Captain Pierce, an English officer, had been
busy the day before stirring up the smouldering embers of anger.
Suddenly a taunt was flung out by one of the guests at the discomfited
hero. Shane--forgetting perhaps where he was--sprang up to revenge it. A
dozen swords and skeans blazed out upon him, and he fell, pierced by
three or four of his entertainers at once. His body was then tossed into
an old ruined chapel hard by, where the next day his head was hacked off
by Captain Pierce, and carried to Sidney, who sent it to be spiked upon
Dublin Castle. It was but too characteristic an end of an eminently
characteristic career.

[Illustration: ST. PATRICK'S BELL.]



By 1566 Sir Henry Sidney became Lord-deputy, not now in the room of
another, but fully appointed. With the possible exception of Sir John
Perrot, he was certainly the ablest of all the viceroys to whom
Elizabeth committed power in Ireland. Unlike others he had the
advantage, too, of having served first in the country in subordinate
capacities, and so earning his experience. He even seems to have been
fairly popular, which, considering the nature of some of his
proceedings, throws a somewhat sinister light, it must be owned, upon
those of his successors and predecessors.

After the death and defeat of Shane the Proud a lull took place, and the
new deputy took the opportunity of making a progress through the south
and west of the island, which he reports to be all terribly wasted by
war. Many districts, he says, "had but one-twentieth part of their
former population." Galway, worn out by incessant attacks, could
scarcely defend her walls. Athenry had but four respectable householders
left, who "sadly presenting the rusty keys of their once famous town,
confessed themselves unable to defend it."

[Illustration: SIR HENRY SIDNEY, LORD-DEPUTY FROM 1565 TO 1587. (_From
an engraving by Harding_.)]

Sidney was one of the first to relinquish what had hitherto been the
favourite and traditional policy of all English governors, that, namely,
of playing one great lord or chieftain against another, and to attempt
the larger task of putting down and punishing all signs of
insubordination especially in the great. In this respect he was the
political parent of Strafford, who acted the same part sixty years
later. He had not--any more than his great successor--to reproach
himself either with feebleness in the execution of his policy. The
number of military executions that mark his progress seem to have
startled his own coadjutors, and even to have evoked some slight
remonstrance from Elizabeth herself. "Down they go at every corner!" the
Lord-deputy writes at this time triumphantly in an account of his own
proceedings, "and down, God willing, they shall go."

A plan for appointing presidents of provinces had been a favourite with
the late deputy, Sussex, and was now revived. Sir Edward Fitton, one of
the judges of the Queen's Bench, was appointed to the province of
Connaught--a miserably poor appointment as it turned out; Sir John
Perrot a little later to Munster; Leinster for the present the deputy
reserved for himself. This done he returned, first pausing to arrest the
Earl of Desmond and carrying him and his brother captive to Dublin and
eventually to London, where according to the queen's orders he was to be
brought in order that she might adjudicate herself in the quarrel
between him and Ormond.

The two earls--they were stepson and stepfather by the way--had for
years been at fierce feud, a feud which had desolated the greater part
of the South of Ireland. It was a question of titles and ownership, and
therefore exclusively one for the lawyers. The queen, however, was
resolved that it should be decided in Ormond's favour. Ormond was "sib
to the Boleyns;" Ormond had been the playmate of "that sainted young
Solomon, King Edward," and Ormond therefore, it was quite clear, must
know whether the lands were his own or not.

Against the present Desmond nothing worse was charged than that he had
enforced what he considered his palatinate rights in the old,
high-handed, time-immemorial fashion. His father, however, had been in
league with Spain, and he himself was held to be contumacious, and had
never been on good terms with any of the deputies.

On this occasion he had, however, surrendered himself voluntarily to
Sidney. Nevertheless, upon his arrival he was kept a close prisoner, and
upon attempting, sometime afterwards, to escape, was seized, and only
received his life on condition of surrendering the whole of his
ancestral estates to the Crown, a surrender which happened to fit in
very conveniently with a plan upon which the attention of the English
Council was at that time turned.

The expenses of Ireland were desperately heavy, and Elizabeth's frugal
soul was bent upon some plan for their reduction. A scheme for reducing
the cost of police duty by means of a system of military colonies had
long been a favourite one, and an opportunity now occurred for turning
it into practice. A number of men of family, chiefly from Devonshire and
Somersetshire, undertook to migrate in a body to Ireland, taking with
them their own farm servants, their farm implements, and everything
necessary for the work of colonization. The leader of these men was Sir
Peter Carew, who held a shadowy claim over a vast tract of territory,
dating from the reign of Henry II., a claim which, however, had been
effectually disposed of by the lawyers. The scheme as it was first
proposed was a truly gigantic one. A line was to be drawn from Limerick
to Cork, and everything south of that line was to be given over to the
adventurers. As for the natives, they said, they would undertake to
settle with them. All they required was the queen's permission.
Everything else they could do for themselves.

So heroic a measure was not to be put in force at once. As far as
Carew's claims went, he took the matter, however, into his own hands by
forcibly expelling the occupiers of the lands in question, and putting
his own retainers into them. As fortune would have it, amongst the first
lands thus laid hold of were some belonging to the Butlers, brothers of
Lord Ormond, and therefore probably the only Irish landowners whose cry
for justice was pretty certain just then to be heard in high quarters.
Horrible tales of the atrocities committed by Carew and his band was
reported by Sir Edward Butler, who upon his side was not slow to commit
retaliations of the same sort A spasm of anger, and a wild dread of
coming contingencies flew through the whole South of Ireland. Sir James
Fitzmaurice, cousin of the Earl of Desmond, broke into open rebellion;
so did also both the younger Butlers. Ormond himself, who was in
England, was as angry as the fiercest, and informed Cecil in plain terms
that "if the lands of good subjects were not to be safe, he for one
would be a good subject no longer."

It was no part of the policy of the Government to alienate the one man
in Ireland upon whose loyalty they could depend at a pinch. By the
personal efforts of the queen his wrath was at last pacified, and he
agreed to accept her earnest assurance that towards him at least no
injury was intended. This done, he induced his brothers to withdraw from
the alliance, while Sir Henry Sidney, sword in hand, went into Munster
and carried out the work of pacification in the usual fashion, burning
villages, destroying the harvest, driving off cattle, blowing up
castles, and hanging their garrisons in strings over the battlements.
After which he marched to Connaught, leaving Sir Humphrey Gilbert behind
him to keep order in the south.

For more than two years Sir James Fitzmaurice continued to hold out in
his rocky fastness amongst the Galtese mountains. A sort of grim humour
pervades the relations between him and Sir John Perrot, the new
President of Munster. Perrot had boasted upon his arrival that he would
soon "hunt that fox out of his hole." The fox, however, showed a
disposition to take the part of the lion, sallying out unexpectedly,
ravaging the entire district, burning Kilmallock, and returning again to
his mountains before he could be interfered with. The following year he
marched into Ulster, and on his way home burnt Athlone, the English
garrison there looking helplessly on; joined the two Mac-an-Earlas as
they were called, the sons of Lord Clanricarde, and assisted them to lay
waste Galway, and so returned triumphantly across the Shannon to
Tipperary. Once Perrot all but made an end of him, but his soldiers took
that convenient opportunity of mutinying, and so baulked their leader of
his prey. Another time, in despair of bringing the matter to any
conclusion, the president proposed that it should be decided by single
combat between them, a proposal which Fitzmaurice prudently resisted on
the ground that though Perrot's place could no doubt readily be
supplied, his own was less easily to fill, and that therefore for his
followers' sake he must decline.

At last the long game of hide-and-seek was brought to an end by Sir
James offering to submit, to which Perrot agreeing, he took the required
oaths in the church of Kilmallock, the scene of his former ravages, and
kissed the president's sword in token of his regret for "the said most
mischievous part." This farce gravely gone through, he sailed for
France, and Munster for a while was at peace. It was only a temporary
lull though. The Desmond power was still too towering to be left alone,
and both its defenders and the Government knew that they were merely
indulging in a little breathing time before the final struggle.



The tale of the great Desmond rebellion which ended only with the ruin
of that house, and with the slaughter or starvation of thousands of its
unhappy adherents, is one of those abortive tragedies of which the whole
history of Ireland is full. Our pity for the victims' doom, and our
indignation for the cold-blooded cruelty with which that doom was
carried out, is mingled with a reluctant realization of the fact that
the state of things which preceded it was practically impossible, that
it had become an anomaly, and that as such it was bound either to change
or to perish.

1599. _(From the "Pacata Hibernia.")_]

From the twelfth century onwards, the Desmond Geraldines had been lords,
as has been seen, of a vast tract of Ireland, covering the greater part
of Munster. Earlier and perhaps more completely than any of the other
great Norman houses, they had become Irish chieftains rather than
English subjects, and the opening of Elizabeth's reign found them still
what for centuries past they had been, and with their power, within
their own limits, little if at all curtailed. The Desmond of the day had
still his own judges or Brehons, by whose judgment he professed to rule.
He had still his own palatinate courts; he still collected his dues by
force, driving away his clansmen's cattle, and distraining those who
resisted him. Only a few years before this time, during an expedition of
the kind, he and Ormond had encountered one another in the open field at
Affane, upon the Southern Blackwater, each side flying their banners,
and shouting their war cries as if no queen's representative had ever
been seen or heard of.

Such a state of things, it was plain, could not go on indefinitely,
would not indeed have gone on as long but for the confusion and disorder
in which the country had always been plunged, and especially the want of
all settled communication. The palatinate of Ormond, it is true, was
theoretically in much the same state, but then Ormond was a keener
sighted and a wiser man than Desmond, and knew when the times demanded
redress. He had of late even made some effort to abolish the abominable
system of "coyne and livery," although, as he himself frankly admits, he
was forced to impose it again in another form not long afterwards.

Sir James meanwhile had left Ireland, and at every Catholic Court in
Europe was busily pleading for aid towards a crusade against England.
Failing in France, he appealed to Philip of Spain. Philip, however, at
the moment was not prepared to break with Elizabeth, whereupon
Fitzmaurice, undeterred by failure, presented himself next before the
Pope. Here he was more successful, and preparations for the collection
of a considerable force was at once set on foot, a prominent English
refugee, Dr. Nicolas Saunders, being appointed to accompany it
as legate.

Saunders, who had distinguished himself not long before by a violent
personal attack against Elizabeth, threw himself heart and soul into the
enterprise, and in a letter to Philip pointed out all the advantages
that were to be won by it to the Catholic cause. "Men," he assured him,
"were not needed." Guns, powder, a little money, and a ship or two with
stores from Spain, and the whole country would soon be at his feet.

Although absurdly ignorant, as his own letters prove, of a country of
which he had once been nominally king, Philip knew rather more probably
about the circumstance of the case than Saunders, and he met these
insinuating suggestions coldly. A fleet in the end was fitted out and
sent from Civita Vecchia, under the command of an English adventurer
Stukeley, the same Stukeley in whose favour we saw Shane O'Neill
appealing to Elizabeth. Though it started for Ireland it never arrived
there. Touching at Lisbon, Stukeley was easily persuaded to give up his
first scheme, and to join Sebastian, king of Portugal, in a buccaneering
expedition to Morocco, and at the battle of Alcansar both he and
Sebastian with the greater part of their men were killed.

Fitzmaurice meanwhile had gone to Spain by land, and had there embarked
for Ireland, accompanied by his wife, two children, Saunders, the
legate, Allen, an Irish priest, a small party of Italians and Spaniards,
and a few English refugees, and bringing with them a banner especially
consecrated by the Pope for this service.

Their landing-place was Dingle, and from there they crossed to Smerwick,
where they fortified the small island peninsula of Oilen-an-Oir, or
"Gold Island," where they were joined by John and James Fitzgerald,
brothers of the Earl of Desmond, and by a party of two hundred
O'Flaherties from Iar Connaught, who, however, speedily left again.

But Desmond still vacillated helplessly. Now that the time had come he
could not make up his mind what to do, or with whom to side. He was
evidently cowed. His three imprisonments lay heavily upon his soul. He
knew the power of England better too than most of his adherents, and
shrank from measuring his own strength against it. What he did not
realize was that it was too late now to go back. He had stood out for
what he considered his own rights when it would have been more politic
to have submitted, and now he wanted to submit when it was only too
plain to all who could read the signs of the times that the storm was
already upon him, and that no humility or late-found loyalty could avail
to avert that doom which hung over his house.

If Desmond himself was slow to rise, the whole South of Ireland was in a
state of wild tumult and excitement when the news of the actual arrival
of Fitzmaurice and the legate became known. Nor in the south alone. In
Connaught and the Pale the excitement was very little less. Kildare,
like Desmond, held back fearing the personal consequences of rebellion,
but all the younger lords of the Pale were eager to throw in their lot
with Fitzmaurice. Alone amongst the Irishmen of his day, he possessed
all the necessary qualifications of a leader. He had already for years
successfully resisted the English. He was known to be a man of great
courage and tenacity, and his reputation as a general stood deservedly
high in the opinion of all his countrymen.

[Illustration: CATHERINE, THE "OLD" COUNTESS OF DESMOND. (Reputed to
have been killed at the age of 120 by a fall from a cherry tree.) _(From
the Burne Collection.)_]

That extraordinary good fortune, however, which has so often befallen
England at awkward moments, and never more conspicuously than during the
closing years of the sixteenth century, did not fail now. Fitzmaurice
started for Connaught to encourage the insurrection which had been fast
ripening there under the brutal rule of Sir Nicolas Malby, its governor.
A trumpery quarrel had recently broken out between the Desmonds and the
Mayo Bourkes, and this insignificant affair sealed the fate of what at
one moment promised to be the most formidable rebellion which had ever
assailed the English power in Ireland. At a place called Harrington's
Bridge, not far from Limerick, where the little river Muckern or
Mulkearn was then crossed by a ford, Fitzmaurice was set upon by the
Bourkes. Only a few followers were with him at the time, and in turning
to expostulate with one of his assailants, he was killed by a pistol
shot, and fell from his horse. This was upon the 18th of August, 1579.
From that moment the Desmond rising was doomed.

Desmond meanwhile still sat vacillating in his own castle of Askeaton,
neither joining the rising, nor yet exerting himself vigorously to put
it down. Malby, who had newly arrived from Connaught, took steps to
hasten his decision. Ordering the earl to come to him, and the latter
still hesitating, he marched against Askeaton, utterly destroyed the
town up to the walls of the castle, burning everything in the
neighbourhood, including the abbey and the tombs of the Desmonds, the
castle itself only escaping through the lack of ammunition.

This hint seems to have sufficed. Desmond was at last convinced that the
time for temporizing was over. He rose, and all Munster rose with him.
Ormond was still in London, and hurried over to find all in disorder.
Drury had lately died, and the only other English commander, Malby, was
crippled for want of men, and had been obliged to retreat into
Connaught. The new deputy, Sir William Pelham, had just arrived, and he
and Ormond now proceeded to make a concerted attack. Advancing in two
separate columns they destroyed everything which came in their way; men,
women, children, infants, the old, the blind, the sick all alike were
mercilessly slaughtered; not a roof, however humble, was spared; not a
living creature that crossed their path survived to tell the tale. Lady
Fitzmaurice and her two little children seem to have been amongst the
number of these nameless and uncounted victims, for they were never
heard of again. From Adare and Askeaton to the extreme limits of Kerry,
everything perishable was destroyed. The two commanders met one another
at Tralee, and from this point carried on their raid in unison, and
returned, to Askeaton and Cork, leaving the whole country a desert
behind them. There was little or no resistance. The Desmond clansmen
were not soldiers; they were unarmed, or armed only with spears and
skeans. They had just lost their only leader. They could do nothing but
sullenly watch the progress of the English forces. Desmond, his two
brothers, and the legate were already fugitives. The rising seemed to be
all but crushed, when a new incident occurred to spur it into a
momentary vitality.

Four Spanish vessels, containing 800 men, chiefly Italians, had managed
to pass unperceived by the English admiral, Winter's, fleet, and to land
at Smerwick, where they established themselves in Fitzmaurice's
dismantled fort. They found everything in confusion. They had brought
large supplies of arms for their Irish allies, but there were apparently
no Irish allies to give them to. The legate and Desmond had first to be
found, and now that arms had come, the Munster tribesmen had for the
most part been killed or dispersed. Ormond and Pelham's terrible raid
had done its work, and the heart of the rising was broken. The Pale,
however, had now caught the fire, and though Kildare, its natural
leader, still hung back, Lord Baltinglass and some of the bolder spirits
flew to arms, and threw themselves into the Wicklow highlands where they
joined their forces with those of the O'Byrnes, and were presently
joined by Sir John of Desmond and a handful of Fitzgeralds.

Lord Grey de Wilton had by this time arrived in Ireland as deputy.
Utterly inexperienced in Irish wars, he despised and underrated the
capabilities of those opposed to him, and refused peremptorily to listen
to the advice of more experienced men. Hastening south, his advanced
guard was caught by Baltinglass and the other insurgents in the valley
of Glenmalure. A well-directed fire was poured into the defile; the
English troops broke, and tried to flee, and were shot down in numbers
amongst the rocks.

Lord Grey had no time to retrieve this disaster. Leaving the Pale to the
mercy of the successful rebels, he hastened south, and arrived in Kerry
before Smerwick fort. Amongst the small band of officers who accompanied
him on this occasion were Walter Raleigh and Edmund Spenser, both then
young men, and both of them all but unknown to fame.

The English admiral, Winter, with his fleet had long been delayed by bad
weather. When at length it arrived, cannon were landed and laid in
position upon the sand hills. Next day the siege commenced. There was
heavy firing on both sides, but the fort was soon found to be untenable.
The garrison thereupon offered to capitulate, and an unconditional
surrender was demanded. There being no alternative, these terms were
accepted. Lord Grey thereupon "put in certain bands," under the command
of Captain Raleigh. "The Spaniard," says Spenser, who was an eye-witness
of the whole scene, "did absolutely yield himself, and the fort, and all
therein, and only asked mercy," This, "it was not thought good," he
adds, "to show them." They were accordingly all slaughtered in cold
blood, a few women and priests who were with them hanged, the officers
being reserved for ransom. "There was no other way," Spenser observes in
conclusion, "but to make that end of them as thus was done[8]."

[8] "View of the State of Ireland," pp. 5, 11.

This piece of work satisfactorily finished, Grey returned rapidly to
Dublin to crush the Leinster insurgents. Kildare and Delvin, though they
had kept themselves clear of the rebellion, were arrested and thrown
into prison. Small bands of troopers were sent into the Wicklow
mountains to hunt out the insurgents. Baltinglass escaped to the
Continent, but the two Eustaces his brothers, with Garrot O'Toole and
Feagh McHugh were caught, killed, and their heads sent to Dublin.
Clanricarde's two sons, the Mac-an-Earlas, were out in the Connemara
mountains and could not be got at; but Malby again overran their
country, burning houses and slaughtering without mercy. In Dublin, the
Anglo-Irishmen of the Pale were being brought to trial for treason, and
hung or beheaded in batches. Kildare was sent to England to die in the
Tower. With the exception of the North, which on this occasion had kept
quiet, the whole country had become one great reeking shambles; what
sword and rope and torch had spared, famine came in to complete.

The Earl of Desmond was now a houseless fugitive, hunted like a wolf or
mad dog through the valleys and over the mountains of his own ancestral
"kingdom." His brothers had already fallen. Sir John Fitzgerald had been
killed near Cork, and his body hung head downwards, by Raleigh's order,
upon the bridge of the river Lee. The other brother, Sir James, had met
with a similar fate. Saunders, the legate, had died of cold and
exposure. Desmond alone escaped, time after time, and month after month.
Hunted, desperate, in want of the bare necessities of life, he was still
in his own eyes the Desmond, ancestral owner of nearly a hundred miles
of territory. Never in his most successful period a man of any
particular strength of character, sheer pride seems to have upheld him
now. He scorned to make terms with his hated enemy, Ormond. If he
yielded to any one, he sent word, it would be only to the queen herself
in person. He was not given the chance. Hunted over the Slemish
mountains, with the price of £1,000 on his head, one by one the trusty
companions who had clung to him so faithfully were taken and killed. His
own course could inevitably be but a short one. News reached the English
captain at Castlemain one night that the prey was not far off. A dozen
English soldiers stole up the stream in the grey of the morning. The
cabin where the Desmond lay was surrounded, the door broken in, and the
earl stabbed before there was time for him to spring from his bed. The
tragedy had now been played out to the bitterest end. As formerly with
the Leinster Geraldines, so now with the Munster ones, of the direct
heirs of the house only a single child was left, a feeble boy,
afterwards known by the significant title of the "Tower Earl," with the
extinguishing of whose sickly tenure of life the very name of Desmond
ceases to appear upon the page of Irish history.



Two great risings against Elizabeth's power in Ireland had thus been met
and suppressed. A third and a still more formidable one was yet to come.
The interval was filled with renewed efforts at colonization upon a yet
larger scale than before. Munster, which at the beginning of the Desmond
rising had been accounted the most fertile province in Ireland, was now
little better than a desert. Not once or twice, but many times the
harvest had been burnt and destroyed, and great as had been the
slaughter, numerous as were the executions, they had been far eclipsed
by the multitude of those who had died of sheer famine.

Spenser's evidence upon this point has been often quoted, but no other
words will bring the picture before us in the same simple, awful
vividness; nor must it be forgotten that the man who tells it was under
no temptation to exaggerate having himself been a sharer in the deeds
which had produced so sickening a calamity.

"They were brought to such wretchedness," he says, "that any stony heart
would rue the same. Out of every corner of the woods and glens, they
came, creeping forth upon their hands, for their legs could not bear
them. They looked like anatomies of death; they spoke like ghosts crying
out of their graves. They did eat the dead carrions, where they did find
them, yea and one another soon after, in as much as the very carcases
they spared not to scrape out of their graves; and if they found a plot
of watercresses or shamrocks, there they thronged as to a feast."

To replace this older population, thus starved, slaughtered, made away
with by sword and pestilence with new colonists was the scheme of the
hour. Desmond's vast estate, covering nearly six hundred thousand Irish
acres, not counting waste land, had all been declared forfeit to the
Crown. This and a considerable portion of territory also forfeit in
Leinster was now offered to English colonists upon the most advantageous
terms. No rent was to be paid at first, and for ten years the
undertakers were to be allowed to send their exports duty free.

Many eminent names figure in the long list of these "undertakers";
amongst them Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Christopher Hatton, Sir Wareham St.
Leger, Edmund Spenser himself, Sir Thomas Norris, and others, all of
whom received grants of different portions. But "the greater," says
Leland, "their rank and consequence, the more were they emboldened to
neglect the terms of their grant." Instead of completing their
stipulated number of tenantry, the same persons often were admitted as
tenants to different undertakers, and in the same seniory sometimes
served at once as freeholder, leaseholder, and copyholder, so as to fill
up the necessary number of each denomination.

The whole scheme of colonization proved, in short, a miserable failure.
English farmers and labourers declined to come over in sufficient
numbers. Those that did come left again in despair after a time. The
dispossessed owners hung about, and raided the goods of the settlers
whenever opportunity offered. The exasperation on both sides increased
as years went on; the intruders becoming fewer and more tyrannical, the
natives rapidly growing more numerous and more desperate. It was plain
that the struggle would break out again at the first chance which
offered itself.

That occasion arose not in Munster itself, but at the opposite end of
the island. In Ulster the great southern rising had produced singularly
little excitement. The chiefs for the most part had remained aloof, and
to a great degree, loyal. The O'Donnells, who had been reinstated it
will be remembered in their own territory by Sidney, kept the peace. Sir
John Perrot, who after the departure of Grey became Lord-deputy, seems
in spite of his severity to have won confidence. Old Tyrlough Luinagh
who had been elected O'Neill at the death of Shane, seems even to have
felt a personal attachment for him, which is humorously shown by his
consenting on several occasions to appear at his court in English
attire, habiliments which the Irish, like the the Scotch chiefs,
objected to strongly as tending to make them ridiculous. "Prythee at
least, my lord," he is reported to have said on one of these occasions,
"let my chaplain attend me in his Irish mantle, that so your English
rabble may be directed from my uncouth figure and laugh at him."

[Illustration: _Sr. John Perrot_ LORD-DEPUTY FROM 1584 TO 1588.]

Perrot, however, had now fallen under the royal displeasure; had been
recalled and sent to the Tower, a common enough climax in those days to
years spent in the arduous Irish service. His place was taken in 1588 by
Sir William Fitzwilliam, who had held it nearly thirty years earlier.
Fitzwilliam was a man of very inferior calibre to Perrot. Avaricious by
nature he had been highly dissatisfied with the poor rewards which his
former services had obtained. Upon making some remonstrance to that
effect he had been told that the "position of an Irish Lord-deputy was
an honourable one and should challenge no reward." Upon this hint he
seems now to have acted. Since the Lord-deputy was not to be better
rewarded, the Lord-deputy, he apparently concluded, had better help
himself. The Spanish Armada had been destroyed a few years back, and
ships belonging to it had been strewed in dismal wreck all along the
North, South, and West coasts of Ireland. It was believed that much gold
had been hidden away by the wretched survivors, and fired with the hope
of laying his own hands upon this treasure, Sir William first issued a
permission for searching, and then started himself upon the search. He
marched into Ulster in the dead of winter, at considerable cost to the
State, and with absolutely no result. Either, as was most likely, there
was no treasure, or the treasure had been well hidden. Furious at this
disappointment he arrested two upon his own showing of the most loyal
and law-abiding landowners in Ulster, Sir Owen McToole and Sir John
O'Dogherty; dragged them back to Dublin with him, flung them into the
castle, and demanded a large sum for their liberation.

This was a high-handed proceeding in all conscience, but there was worse
to come; it seemed as if the new deputy had laid himself out for the
task of inflaming Ulster to the highest possible pitch of exasperation,
and so of once more awakening the scarce extinguished flames of civil
war. McMahon, the chief of Monaghan, had surrendered his lands, held
previously by tanistry, and had received a new grant of them under the
broad seal of England, to himself and his heirs male, and failing such
heirs to his brother Hugh. At his death Hugh went to Dublin and
requested to be put into possession of his inheritance. This Fitzwilliam
agreed to, and returned with him to Monaghan, apparently for the
purpose. Hardly had he arrived there, however, before he trumped up an
accusation to the effect that Hugh McMahon had collected rents two years
previously by force--the only method, it may be said in passing, by
which in those unsettled parts of the country rents ever were collected
at all. It was not an offence by law being committed outside the shire,
and he was therefore tried for it by court-martial. He was brought
before a jury of private soldiers, condemned, and executed in two days.
His estate was thereupon broken up, the greater part of it being divided
between Sir Henry Bagnall, three or four English officers, and some
Dublin lawyers, the Crown reserving for itself a quit rent. Little
wonder if the other Ulster landowners felt that their turn would come
next, and that no loyalty could assure a man's safety so long as he had
anything to lose that was worth the taking.

At this time the natural leader of the province was not Tyrlough
Luinagh, who though called the O'Neill was an old man and failing fast.
The real leader was Hugh O'Neill, son of Matthew the first Baron of
Dungannon, who had been killed, it will be remembered, by Shane O'Neill,
by whose connivance Hugh's elder brother had also, it was believed, been
made away with. Hugh had been educated in England, had been much at
Court, and had found favour with Elizabeth, who had confirmed him in the
title of Earl of Tyrone which had been originally granted to his

Tyrone was the very antipodes of Shane, the last great O'Neill leader.
He was much more, in fact, of an English politician and courtier than an
Irish chieftain. He had served in the English army; had fought with
credit under Grey in Munster, and was intimately acquainted with all the
leading Englishmen of the day. Even his religion, unlike that of most
Irish Catholics of the day, seems to have sat but lightly upon him.
Captain Lee, an English officer, quartered in Ulster, in a very
interesting letter to the queen written about this time, assures her
confidentially that, although a Roman Catholic, he "is less dangerously
or hurtfully so than some of the greatest in the English Pale," for that
when he accompanied the Lord-deputy to church "he will stay and hear a
sermon;" whereas they "when they have reached the church door depart as
if they were wild cats." He adds, as a further recommendation, that by
way of domestic chaplain he has at present but "one little cub of an
English priest." Lord Essex in still plainer terms told Tyrone himself
when he was posing as the champion of Catholicism: "Dost _thou_ talk of
a free exercise of religion! Why thou carest as little for religion as
my horse."

Such a man was little likely to rush blindly into a rebellion in which
he had much to lose and little to gain. He knew, as few Irishmen knew,
the strength of England. He knew something also of Spain, and of what
had come of trusting for help in that direction. Hitherto, therefore,
his influence had been steadily thrown upon the side of order. He had
more than once assisted the deputy to put down risings in the north,
and, on the whole, had borne his part loyally as a dutiful subject of
the queen.

Now, however, he had come to a point where the ways branched. He had to
choose his future course, and there were many causes pushing him all but
irresistibly into an attitude of rebellion. One of these was the
arbitrary arrest of his brother-in-law Hugh O'Donnell, called Red Hugh,
who had been induced to come on board a Government vessel by means of a
friendly invitation, and had been then and there seized, flung under
hatches, and carried off as a hostage to Dublin Castle, from which,
after years of imprisonment, he had managed to escape by stealth in the
dead of winter, and arrived half dead of cold and exposure in his own
country, where his treatment had aroused the bitterest and most
implacable hostility in the breast of all the clan. A more directly
personal affair, and the one that probably more than any other single
cause pushed Tyrone over the frontiers of rebellion, was the following.
Upon the death of his wife he had fallen in love with Bagnall, the
Lord-Marshall's, sister, and had asked for her hand. This Bagnall, for
some reason, refused, whereupon Tyrone, having already won the lady's
heart, carried her off, and they were married, an act which the marshall
never forgave.

From that moment he became his implacable enemy, made use of his
position to ply the queen and Council with accusations against his
brother-in-law, and when Tyrone replied to those charges the answers
were intercepted. It took some time to undermine Elizabeth's confidence
in the earl, having previously had many proofs of his loyalty. It took
some time, too, to induce Tyrone himself to go in the direction in which
every event seemed now to be pushing him. Once, however, his mind was
made up and his retreat cut off, he set to work at his preparations upon
a scale which soon showed the Government that they had this time no
fiery half-savage Shane, no incapable vacillating Desmond to deal with.

An alliance with the O'Donnells and the other chiefs of the north was
his first step. He was by no means to be contented however with a merely
provincial rising. He despatched messages to Connaught, and enlisted the
Burkes in the affair; also the O'Connor of Sligo, the McDermot and other
western chiefs. In Wicklow the O'Byrnes, always ready for a fray, agreed
to join the revolt, with all that was left of the tribes of Leix and
Offaly. These, with the Kavanaghs and others, united to form a solemn
union, binding themselves to stand or fall together. To Spain Tyrone
sent letters urging the necessity of an immediate despatch of troops.
With the Pope he also put himself into communication, and the rising was
openly and avowedly declared to be a Catholic one. Just at this juncture
old Tyrlough Luinagh died, and Tyrone forthwith assumed the
soul-stirring name of "The O'Neill" for himself. Let the Spanish allies
only arrive in time and the rule of England it was confidently declared
would shortly in Ireland be a thing of the past.




The northern river Blackwater--there are at least three Blackwaters in
Ireland--forms the southern boundary of the county Tyrone, which takes a
succession of deep loops or elbows in order to follow its windings. At
the end of the sixteenth century and for centuries previously it had
marked the boundary of the territory of the chiefs or princes of Tyrone,
and here, therefore, it was that the struggle between the earl and the
queen's troops advancing from Dublin was necessarily fought out.

A good deal of desultory fighting took place at first, without any
marked result upon either side. Tyrone got possession of the English
fort which commanded the passage of the river, but it was in turn
snatched from him by the lately arrived deputy, Lord Borough, who,
however, was so severely wounded in the affray that he had to fall back
upon Newry, where he not long afterwards died. Ireland was thus for the
moment without a governor, and when after a temporary armistice, which
Tyrone spun out as long as possible in hopes of his Spanish allies
appearing, hostilities recommenced, the command devolved upon his
brother-in-law and chief enemy, Sir Henry Bagnall.

Bagnall had between four and five thousand men under him, Tyrone having
about the same number, or a little less. A few years previously a very
small body of English troops had been able, as we have seen, to put to
flight fully three times their own number of Irish. In the last dozen
years circumstances however had in this respect very materially changed.
The Desmond followers had been for the most part armed only with skeans
and spears, much as their ancestors had been under Brian Boru. One
English soldier armed with a gun could put to flight a dozen such
assailants as easily as a sportsman a dozen wolves. Tyrone's men, on the
other hand, were almost as well armed as their antagonists. Some of
these arms had come from Spain, others had been purchased at high prices
from the English soldiery, others again from dealers in Dublin and
elsewhere. Man to man, and with equal arms, the Ulster men were fully
equal to their assailants, as they were now about to prove.

In August, 1598, Bagnall advancing from the south found Tyrone engaged
in a renewed attack upon the fort of Blackwater, which he had invested,
and was endeavouring to reduce by famine. At the advance of Bagnall he
withdrew however to a strong position a few miles from the fort, and
there awaited attack.

The battle was not long delayed. The bitter personal hatred which
animated the two leaders seems to have communicated itself to the men,
and the struggle was unprecedentedly fierce and bloody. In the thick of
the engagement Bagnall, lifting his beaver for a moment to get air, was
shot through the forehead and fell. His fall was followed by the
complete rout of his army. Fifteen hundred soldiers and thirteen
officers were killed, thirty-four flags taken, and all the artillery,
ammunition, and provisions fell into the victor's hands. The fort
immediately surrendered, and the remains of the royal army fled in
confusion to Armagh, which shortly abandoning, they again fled south,
not attempting to reform until they took refuge at last in Dundalk.

Such an event as this could have but one result. All the waverers were
decided, and all determined to throw in their lot with the victor. The
talisman of success is of more vital importance to an Irish army than
probably to any other, not because the courage of its soldiers is less,
but because their imagination is greater, and more easily worked upon. A
soldier is probably better without too much imagination. If the auguries
are unfavourable he instinctively augments, and exaggerates them
tenfold. Now, however, all the auguries were favourable. Hope stood
high. The Catholic cause had never before showed so favourably. From
Malin Head to Cape Clear all Ireland was in a wild buzz of excitement,
and every fighting kern and galloglass clutched his pike with a sense of
coming triumph.



Elizabeth was now nearly seventy years of age, and this was her third
war in Ireland. Nevertheless, she and her Council girded themselves
resolutely to the struggle. There could at least be no half-hearted
measure now; no petty pleas of economy; no penurious doling out of men
and money. No one, not even the queen herself, could reasonably question
the gravity of the crisis.

The next person to appear upon the scene is Robert Devereux, Earl of
Essex, whose brilliant mercurial figure flashes for a moment across the
wild and troubled stage of Ireland, only the next to vanish like some
Will-o'-the-wisp into an abyss of darkness and disaster.

At that moment his fame as a soldier stood as high if not higher than
that of any of his cotemporaries. If Raleigh or Sidney had more military
genius, if his old rival, Sir Henry Norris, was a more capable general,
the young earl had eclipsed all others in mere dash and brilliancy, and
within the last few years had dazzled the eyes of the whole nation by
the success of his famous feat in Spain, "The most brilliant exploit,"
says Lord Macaulay, "achieved by English arms upon the Continent,
between Agincourt and Blenheim."

(_From the "Pacata Hibernia," of Sir G. Carew_.)]

Essex was now summoned to the queen and given the supreme command in
Ireland, with orders to proceed at once to the reduction of Tyrone. An
army of 20,000 infantry and 1,300 horse were placed under him, and the
title of Lord-Lieutenant conferred, which had not been granted to any
one under royal blood for centuries. He started with a brilliant train,
including a number of well-born volunteers, who gladly offered their
services to the popular favourite, and landed in Dublin early in the
month of April, 1599.

His disasters seem to have dated from the very moment of his setting
foot on Irish soil. Contrary to orders, he had appointed his relative,
the Earl of Southampton, to the command of the horse, an appointment
which even after peremptory orders from the queen he declined to cancel.
He went south when he was eagerly expected to go north. Spent a whole
fortnight in taking the single castle of Cahir; lingered about the
Limerick woods in pursuit of a nephew of the late Desmond, derisively
known as the "Sugane Earl," or "Earl of Straw," who in the absence of
the young heir had collected the remnants of the Desmond followers about
him, and was in league with Tyrone. A few weeks later a party of English
soldiers were surprised by the O'Byrnes in Wicklow, and fled shamefully;
while almost at the same moment--by a misfortune which was certainly no
fault of Essex's, but which went to swell the list of his disasters--Sir
Conyers Clifford, the gallant governor of Connaught, was defeated by the
O'Donnells in a skirmish among the Curlew mountains, and both he and Sir
Alexander Ratcliffe, the second in command, left dead upon the field.

Essex's very virtues and better qualities, in fact, were all against him
in this fatal service. His natural chivalrousness, his keen perception
of injustice, a certain elevation of mind which debarred him from taking
the stereotyped English official view of the intricate Irish problem; an
independence of vulgar motives which made him prone to see two sides of
a question--even where his own interests required that he should see but
one--all these were against him; all tended to make him seem vacillating
and ineffective; all helped to bring about that failure which has made
his six months of command in Ireland the opprobrium ever since of

Even when, after more than one furiously reproachful letter from the
queen, and after his army had been recruited by an additional force of
two thousand men, he at last started for the north, nothing of any
importance happened. He and Tyrone held an amicable and unwitnessed
conference at a ford of the little river Lagan, at which the enemies of
the viceroy did not scruple afterwards to assert that treason had been
concocted. What, at any rate, is certain is that Essex agreed to an
armistice, which, with so overwhelming a force at his own disposal,
naturally awakened no little anger and astonishment. Tyrone's personal
courtesy evidently produced a strong effect upon the other earl. They
were old acquaintances, and Tyrone was no doubt able to place his case
in strong relief. Essex, too, had that generosity of mind which made him
inconveniently open to expostulation, and he knew probably well enough
that the wrongs of which Tyrone complained were far from imaginary ones.

Another and a yet more furious letter from the queen startled him for
his own safety. Availing himself of a permission he had brought with him
to return should occasion seem to require it, he left the command in the
hands of subordinates, flew to Dublin, and embarked immediately for
England. What befel him upon his arrival is familiar to every school
child, and the relation of it must not be allowed to divert us from
following the further course of events in Ireland.

[Illustration: CINERARY URN. (_From a Tumulus near Dublin_.)]



A very different man from the chivalrous and quixotic Essex now took the
reins. Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, had expected to be sent to Ireland
when Essex had suddenly been appointed with ampler powers and a more
extended consequence, and the disappointment had caused him to follow
the course of that ill-starred favourite with ill-concealed jealousy to
its tragic end.

Mountjoy was himself a man of cold, clear-sighted, self-seeking
temperament. In almost all English histories dealing with this period
his steadiness and solid unshowy qualities are contrasted with Essex's
flightiness and failure, to the natural disadvantage of the latter.
This, however, is not perhaps quite the last word upon the matter, and
it is only fair to Essex that this should be realized.

"Pacata Hibernia," of Sir G. Carew_.) 1. Ormond and his followers; 2.
Rebel horse and foot; 3. Rebels concealed in woods; 4. Bogs.]

No master hand has as yet made this special portion of Irish history his
own. When he does so--if the keen edge of his perceptions, that is to
say, has not been dimmed by too strong an earlier prepossession--we
shall perhaps learn that the admitted failure of Essex, so disastrous to
himself, was more honourable than the admitted and the well-rewarded
success of Mountjoy. The situation, as every English leader soon found,
was one that admitted of no possible fellowship between two
alternatives, success and pity; between the commonest and most
elementary dictates of humanity, and the approval of the queen and her
Council. There was but one method by which a success could be assured,
and this was the method which Mountjoy now pushed relentlessly, and from
which Essex's more sensitively attuned nature evidently shrank. The
enemies it was necessary to annihilate were not so much Tyrone's
soldiers, as the poor, the feeble, the helpless, the old, the women, and
the little children. Famine--oddly called by Edward III. the "gentlest
of war's hand-maids"--was here the only certain, perhaps the only
possible agent. By it, and by it alone, the germs of insurrection could
be stamped out and blighted as it were at their very birth.

There was no further shrinking either from its application. Mountjoy
established military stations at different points in the north, and
proceeded to demolish everything that lay between them. With a
deliberation which left little to be desired he made his soldiers
destroy every living speck of green that was to be seen, burn every
roof, and slaughter every beast which could not be conveniently driven
into camp. With the aid of Sir George Carew, who enthusiastically
endorsed his policy, and has left us a minute account of their
proceedings, they swept the country before them. The English columns
moved steadily from point to point, establishing themselves wherever
they went, in strongly fortified outposts, from which points flying
detachments were sent to ravage all the intermediate districts. The
ground was burnt to the very sod; all harvest utterly cleared away;
starvation in its most grisly forms again began to stalk the land; the
people perished by tens of thousands, and the tales told by
eye-witnesses of what they themselves had seen at this time are too
sickening to be allowed needlessly to blacken these pages.

As a policy nothing, however, could be more brilliantly successful. At
the arrival of Mountjoy the English power in Ireland was at about the
lowest ebb it ever reached under the Tudors. Ormond, the
Lieutenant-General of the kingdom, had recently been taken captive by
the O'Mores in Leinster, by whom he was held for an enormous ransom.
Success, with all its glittering train, seemed to have gone bodily over
to Tyrone. There was hardly a town in the whole island that remained in
the hands of the Deputy. Before Mountjoy left all this was simply
reversed. Not only had the royal power regained everything that had been
snatched from it, but from sea to sea it stood upon a far firmer and
stronger basis than it had ever done before.

Gradually, as the area over which the power of the Deputy and his able
assistant grew wider and wider, that of the Tyrone fell away and faded.
"The consequence of an Irish chieftain above all others," observes
Leland most weightily, "depended upon opinion." A true success, that is
to say, of which the gleaming plumes and trophies were not immediately
visible, would have been far more disastrous than a real failure which
could have been gilded over with a little delusive gleam of triumph.
There was no gleams, real or imaginary, now. Tyrone was fast coming to
the end of his resources. Surrender or starvation were staring him with
ugly insistence in the face.

The war, in fact, was on the point of dying out from sheer exhaustion,
when a new element came to infuse momentary courage into the breasts of
the insurgents. Fifty Spanish ships, with Don Juan d'Aguilar and three
thousand soldiers on board, sailed into Kinsale harbour, where they
proceeded to disembark and to occupy the town.

The instant the news of this landing reached Mountjoy, he, with
characteristic vigour, hurried south with every soldier he could
collect, so as to cut off the new arrivals before their allies had time
to appear. Not a moment was lost. The Spaniards had landed on the 20th
of September, 1601, and by the 23rd the first English soldiers appeared
before the town, and before the end of the month Mountjoy and Carew had
concentrated every man they had in Ireland around Kinsale.

Tyrone and O'Donnell also hurried south, but their progress was slower,
and when they arrived they found their allies closely besieged on all
sides. Taking advantage of a frost, which had made the bogs passable,
O'Donnell stole round the English forces and joined another party of
Spaniards who had just effected a landing at Castlehaven. All Kerry was
now up in arms, under two local chiefs, O'Sullivan Beare and O'Driscoll.
The struggle had resolved itself into the question which side could hold
out longest. The English had the command of the sea, but were the
Spanish fleet to return their position would become to the last degree
perilous. The game for Tyrone to play was clearly a waiting one. The
Spaniards in Kinsale were weary however of their position, and urged him
to try and surprise the English camp. Reluctantly, and against his own
judgment, he consented. The surprise failed utterly. Information of it
had already reached Carew. The English were under arms, and after a
short struggle Tyrone's men gave way. Twelve hundred were killed, and
the rest fled in disorder. The Spaniards thereupon surrendered Kinsale,
and were allowed to re-embark for Spain; many of the Irish, including
O'Donnell, accompanying them.

This was practically the end. Tyrone retreated to the north, collecting
the remnants of his army as he went. Carew went south to wreak a summary
vengeance upon O'Sullivan Beare, and the other Kerry insurgents, while
Mountjoy, following in the wake of Tyrone, hemmed him gradually further
and further north, repeating at the same time that wasting process which
had already been only too brilliantly successful.

Tyrone had wit enough to see that the game was played out. On the other
hand, Mountjoy was eager to bring the war to an end before the queen's
death, now hourly expected. Terms were accordingly come to. The earl
made his submission, and agreed to relinquish the title of O'Neill, and
to abjure for ever all alliances with foreign powers or with any of the
enemies of the Crown. In return he was to receive a full pardon for
himself and his followers, and all his titles and lands were to be
confirmed to him.

Two days after this the queen's death was announced. We are told that
Tyrone, upon hearing of it, burst into a flood of tears. As he had been
in arms against her up to a week before, it can scarcely have been a
source of very poignant anguish. Probably he felt that had he guessed
the imminence of the event he might have made better terms.

[Illustration: TARA BROOCH.]



This was the last serious attempt on the part of any individual Irish
chieftain to rise against the power of England. The next rebellion of
which we shall hear arose from perfectly different causes, and was
general rather than individual, grew indeed before its conclusion to the
larger and more imposing dimensions of a civil war.

In one respect this six years' struggle was less productive of results
than either of the two previous ones. At the end of it, Tyrone was still
Tyrone; still the first of Irish subjects; his earldom and his ancestral
possessions were still his. Nay, on crossing a few months later to
England, and presenting himself to the English Court, he was graciously
received by the new king, and seemed at first to stand in all respects
as if no rebellion had been planned by him, or so nearly carried to a
successful issue.

This state of things was a source, as may readily be conceived, of
boundless rage to every English officer and official who had taken part
in the late campaign. To see "that damnable rebel Tyrone" apparently in
high honour caused them to rage and gnash their teeth. "How did I
labour," cries one of them, "for that knave's destruction! I adventured
perils by sea and land; went near to starving; eat horse-flesh in
Munster, and all to quell that man, who now smileth in peace at those
who did hazard their lives to destroy him!"

Sheriffs, judges, commissioners, all the new officials who now began to
hurry to the north, shared in this sentiment, and all had their eyes set
in wrathful animosity upon Tyrone, all were bent in finding him out in
some new treason. That after all that had happened he should end his
days in peace and honour was not inconceivable merely, but revolting. He
himself complained about this time that he could not "drink a full
carouse of sack but the State in a few hours was advertised thereof." It
was, in fact, an impossible situation. Tyrone was now sixty-two, and
would have been willing enough therefore, in all probability, to rest
and be thankful. It was impossible, he found, for him to do so. He was
harassed by spies, plunged into litigation with regard to his seignorial
rights, and whatever case was tried the lawyers invariably found for his
antagonists. Rory O'Donnell, a brother of Red Hugh, who had been created
Earl of Tyrconnel by James, was in a like case. Both were regarded with
detestation by every official in Ireland; both had not long before had a
price set on their heads; both, it was resolved by all in authority,
would, sooner or later, therefore, begin to rebel again.

Whether they did so or not has never been satisfactorily decided. The
evidence on the whole goes to prove that they did not. The air, however,
was thick just then with plots, and in 1607, a mysterious and anonymous
document, of which Lord Howth was reported to be the author, was found
in the Dublin Council Chamber, which hinted darkly at conspiracies and
perils of various kinds to the State, in which conspiracies Tyrone, it
was equally darkly hinted, was in some manner or other involved.

It was rather a poor plot, still it served its turn. Tyrone received
warning from his friends abroad that he was about to be arrested, and so
serious was the peril deemed that a vessel was specially sent by them to
bring him away in safety. He at once communicated with Tyrconnel, and
after a short consultation the two Earls with their families resolved to
take advantage of the opportunity and depart at once. This at the time,
and indeed generally, has been construed into a proof of their guilt. It
may have been so, but, on the other hand, it may just as well not have
been. Had their innocence been purer than alabaster or whiter than the
driven snow they were probably well advised under existing circumstances
in not remaining to take their trial.

Right or wrong, with good reason or without good reason, they went, and
after various wanderings reached Rome, where they were received with no
little honour. Neither, however, long survived their exile. Tyrconnel
died the following year, and Tyrone some eight years later, a sad,
blind, broken-hearted man.

Nothing could have been more convenient for the Government than this
departure. Under the circumstances, it meant, of course, a forfeiture of
all their estates. Had the extent of territory which personally belonged
to the two exiles alone been confiscated, the proceeding, no doubt,
would have been perfectly legitimate. Whatever had led to it, the fact
of their flight and consequent renouncement of allegiance was
undeniable, and the loss of their estates followed almost as a matter of
course. A far more sweeping measure than this, however, was resolved
upon. The lawyers, under the direction of the Dublin Government, so
contrived matters as to make the area forfeited by the two earls cover
no less a space than six entire counties, all of which were escheated to
the Crown, regardless of the rights of a vast number of smaller tenants
and sub-proprietors against whom no plea of rebellion, recently at all
events could be urged; a piece of injustice destined, as will be seen,
to bear tragic fruit a generation later.

The plan upon which this new plantation was carried out was projected
with the utmost care by the lawyers, the Irish Government, and the king
himself. The former plantations in Munster were an acknowledged failure,
the reason assigned being the huge size of the grants made to the
undertakers. Many of these resided in England, and merely drew their
rents, allowing Irish tenants to occupy the land. This mistake was now
to be avoided. Only tracts that could be managed by a resident owner
were to be granted, and from these the natives were to be entirely
drawn. "As well," it was gravely stated, "for their greater security, as
to preserve the purity of the English language."

The better to ensure this important result marriages were strictly
forbidden between the native Irish and the settlers, and in order to
avoid that ever-formidable danger the former were ordered to remove
themselves and their belongings bodily into certain reserved lands set
apart for them.

The person who took the most prominent part in this undertaking was the
well-known Sir John Davis, a distinguished lawyer and writer, who has
himself left us a minute account of his own and his colleagues'
proceedings. That those proceedings should have aroused some slight
excitement and dismay amongst the dispossessed owners was not, perhaps,
astonishing, even to those engaged in it. In some instances, the
proprietors even went the length of bringing lawyers from Dublin, to
prove that their estates could not legally be forfeited through the
attainder of the earls, and to plead, moreover, the king's recent
proclamation which undertook to secure to the inhabitants their
possessions. In reply to this, Sir John Davis and the other
commissioners issued another proclamation. "We published," he says, "by
proclamation in each county, what lands were to be granted to British
undertakers, what to servitors, and what to natives, to the end that the
natives should remove from the precincts allotted to the Britons,
whereupon a clear plantation is to be made of English and Scottish
without Irish." With regard to the rights of the king he is still more
emphatic. "Not only," he says, "his Majesty may take this course
lawfully, but he is bound in conscience to do so."

These arguments, and probably still more the evident uselessness of any
resistance, seem to have had their effect. The discomfited owners
submitted sullenly, and withdrew to the tracts allotted to them. In Sir
John Davis' own neat and incisive words, "The natives seemed not
unsatisfied in reason, though they remained in their passions
discontented, being grieved to leave their possessions to strangers,
which they had so long after their manner enjoyed."




In 1613, it was resolved by the Government to summon an Irish
Parliament, for the purpose of giving legality to their recent
proceedings in Ulster, and also to pass an Act of formal attainder upon
the two exiled earls.

The great difficulty felt by the executive was how to secure an adequate
Protestant majority. Even after the recent large introduction of
Protestants the great mass of the freeholders, and nearly all the
burgesses in the towns were still Roman Catholics. In the Upper House,
indeed, the nineteen Protestant bishops and five temporal lords who were
Protestant, made matters safe. The House of Commons, therefore, was the
rub. Carew and Sir John Davis set their wits energetically to this
problem. The new towns, or rather agricultural forts, in Ulster were all
converted into Corporations, and each given the power of returning two
members. The Pale and the Leinster towns, though loyal, were nearly all
Catholic. In the west, except at Athlone, there was "no hope," the
president reported, "of any Protestants." From some of the other
garrison towns better things were hoped for, still there was not a
little alarm on the part of the Government that the numbers might still
come short.

On the other side the Catholics were equally alive to the situation, and
equally keen to secure a triumph. A belief prevailed, too, all over
Ireland, that the object of summoning this Parliament was to carry out
some sweeping act of confiscation, and this naturally added to the
excitement. For the first time in Irish history a genuinely contested
election took place. Both parties strained every nerve, both felt their
future interests to depend upon the struggle. When at last all the
members were collected it was found that the Government had a majority,
though a narrow one, of twenty-four. Barely, however, had Parliament
assembled, before a violent quarrel broke out over the election of a
speaker; the Catholic party denouncing the irregularity by means of
which many of the elections had been carried, and refusing therefore to
consider themselves bound by the decision of the majority. Sir John
Davis had been elected speaker by the supporters of the Government, but,
during the absence of the latter in the division lobby, the recusants
placed their own man, Sir John Everard, in the chair, and upon the
return of the others a hot scuffle ensued between the supporters of the
two Sir Johns, each side vehemently supporting the claims of its own
candidate. In the end, "Mr. Treasurer and Mr. Marshall, two gentlemen of
the best quality," according to a "Protestant declaration" sent to
England of the whole occurrence, "took Sir John Davis by the arms, and
lifting him from the ground, placed him in the chair upon Sir John
Everard's lap, requiring the latter to come forth of the chair; which,
he obstinately refusing, Mr. Treasurer, the Master of the Ordinance, and
others, whose places were next the chair, laid their hands gently upon
him, and removed him out of the chair, and placed Sir John
Davis therein."

The gravity with which we are assured of the gentleness of these
proceedings is delightful. The recusants, with Sir John Everard at their
head, departed we are further told "in most contentious manner" out of
the House. Being asked why they did not return, they replied that "Those
within the House are no House, and the Speaker is no Speaker; but we are
the House, and Sir John Everard is our Speaker[9]."

[9] Lodges, "Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica," pp. 410-411.

Not being able to be otherwise settled, the quarrel was at last referred
to the king, and representatives of both sides went to England to plead
their cause. In the end twelve of the new elections were found to have
been so illegally carried that they had perforce to be cancelled, but
Sir John Davis was at the same time confirmed in the Speakership.

After this delay the House at last got to work. A formal Act of
attainder was passed upon Tyrone, Tyrconnel, and some of the other
Ulster landowners. Every portion of Ireland was next made into
shireland, and the last remnants of the Brehon law abolished. Upon the
other hand, the statutes of Kilkenny was at length and finally repealed.
Henceforth English and Irish were alike to be admitted to plead their
own cause in the courts of law.



The zeal for Irish colonization had by no means subsided after the
Ulster settlement had been established; on the contrary, it was the
favourite panacea of the hour, especially in the eyes of the king
himself. After one such resounding success, why, it was asked, not
extend so evident a blessing to the rest of Ireland? "A commission to
inquire into defective titles" was set on foot, whose duty it was to
collect evidence as to the condition of estates, and to inquire into the
titles of owners. The pipe rolls in Dublin and the patents, kept in the
Tower of London were alike eagerly ransacked, and title flaws found to
be discoverable with the most delightful facility. There was a strong
feeling too about this time in England that something good was to be
made of Ireland. When tens of thousands of acres were to be had almost
for the asking, who could be so slow or so mean-spirited as to hang back
from doing so.

Something like a regular stampede of men ambitious to call themselves
undertakers, began to cross over from the larger to the smaller island.
Nor was the Government anxious to check this spirited impulse. In
Wexford alone over 60,000 acres had been discovered by the lawyers to
belong to the king, and of these a large portion were now settled with
English undertakers. In Longford, Leitrim, Wicklow, and many other parts
of Leinster, it was the same. Even where the older proprietors were not
dispossessed heavy fines were levied in return for fresh grants. No
proof of recent surrender or former agreement was allowed to count, and
so ingeniously was the whole scheme carried out, and so inextricable was
the jungle of legal technicalities in which it was involved, that what
in reality was often sheer confiscations sounded like the most equitable
of judicial arrangements.

The case of the Connaught landowners is particularly characteristic, and
as space dwindles rapidly, may serve as an example of the rest. Nearly
all the Connaught gentry, native and Norman alike, had surrendered their
estates either to Elizabeth or to her father, and had received them back
again upon new terms. Legal transfer, however, was so little understood,
and the times were so rough and wild, that few had received patents, and
title-deeds were all but unknown. In James I.'s reign this omission was
rectified and patents duly made out, for which the landowners paid a sum
little short of £30,000, equal to nearly £300,000 at the present day.
These new patents, however, by an oversight of the clerks in Chancery,
were neglected to be enrolled, and upon this plea fresh ones were called
for, and fresh fees had to be paid by the landowners. Further it was
announced that owing to the omission--one over which the owners, it is
clear, had no control--all the titles had become defective, and all the
lands had lapsed to the Crown. The other three provinces having by this
time received plantations, the Connaught landowners were naturally not
slow to perceive the use that might be made of so awkward a technical
flaw. To appeal against the manifest injustice of the decision was of
little avail, but a good round sum of money into the king's own hands
was known to rarely come amiss. They agreed accordingly to offer him the
same sum that would have fallen to his share had the plantations been
carried out This was accepted and another £10,000 paid, and the evil day
thus for a while, but only, as will be seen, for a while averted.

Charles's accession awakened a good many hopes in Ireland, the Catholic
party especially flattering themselves that a king who was himself
married to one of their faith would be likely to show some favour to his
Catholic subjects. In this they found their mistake, and an attempt to
open a Catholic college in Dublin was speedily put down by force. In
other directions a certain amount of leniency was, however, extended to
recusants, and Lord Falkland, who a few years before had succeeded Sir
Oliver St. John as deputy, was a man of conspicuous moderation and
tolerance. In 1629, however, he resigned, worn out like so many others
before and after him by the difficulties with which he had to contend,
and not long afterwards a man of very different temperament and widely
different theories of government came to assume the reins.



In 1632, Wentworth--better known as Strafford--arrived in Ireland,
prepared to carry out his motto of "Thorough." Only three years before,
he had been one of the foremost orators in the struggle for the Petition
of Right. The dagger of Fenton had turned him from an impassioned
patriot and constitutionalist into a vehement upholder of absolutism.
His revolt had been little more than a mask for his hostility to the
hated favourite Buckingham, and when Buckingham's murder cleared the
path to his ambition, Wentworth passed, apparently without a struggle,
from the zealous champion of liberty to the yet more zealous champion of
despotic rule.


He arrived in Ireland as to a conquered country, and proceeded promptly
to act upon that understanding. His chief aim was to show that a
parliament, properly managed, could be made not a menace, but a tool in
the hand of the king. With this end he summoned an Irish one immediately
upon his arrival, and so managed the elections that Protestants and
Catholics should nearly equally balance one another. Upon its
assembling, he ordered peremptorily that a subsidy of £100,000, to cover
the debts to the Crown, should be voted. There would, he announced, be a
second session, during which certain long-deferred "graces" and other
demands would be considered. The sum was obediently voted, but the
second session never came. The parliament was abruptly dissolved by the
deputy, and did not meet again for nearly four years.

The Connaught landlords were the next whom he took in hand. We have seen
in the last chapter that they had recently paid a large sum to the
Crown, in order to ward off the dangers of a plantation. This did not
satisfy Wentworth. Their titles were again called into question. He
swept down in person into the province, with the commissioners of
plantations at his heels; discovered, to his own complete satisfaction,
that _all_ the titles of all the five western counties were defective,
and that, as a natural consequence, all lapsed to the Crown. The juries
of Mayo, Sligo, and Roscommon were overawed into submission, but the
Galway jury were obstinate, and refused to dispossess the proprietors.
Wentworth thereupon took them back with him to Dublin, summoned them
before the Court of the Castle Chamber, where they were sentenced to pay
a fine of £4,000 each, and the sheriff £1000, and to remain in prison
until they had done so. The unfortunate sheriff died in prison. Lord
Clanricarde, the principal Galway landlord, died also shortly
afterwards, of anxiety and mortification. The others submitted, and were
let off by the triumphant deputy with the surrender, in some cases, of
large portions of their estates, in others of heavy fines.

By these means, and others too long to enter into here, he contrived to
raise the annual Irish revenue to a surplus of £60,000, with part of
which he proceeded to set on foot and equip an army for the king of
10,000 foot and 1,000 horse, ready to be marched at a moment's notice.
This part of the programme was intended as a menace less against Ireland
than England. Charles was to be absolute in both islands, and, to be so,
his Irish subjects were to help him to coerce his English ones.

Let us, however, be just. Strafford was a born tyrant--worse, he was the
champion of an absolutism of the most odious type conceivable, one
which, if successful, would have been a death-blow to English liberty.
But he was also a born ruler. No petty tyrants flourished under his
sway. His hand was like iron upon the plunderers, the pluralists, the
fraudulent officials, gorged with their ill-gotten booty. What he did,
too, he did well. If he struck, he could also protect. He ruthlessly
suppressed the infant woollen trade, believing that it might in time
come to be a rival to the English one, but he was the founder of the
linen trade, and imported Flemish weavers to teach it, and the best
flax-seed to sow in the fields. He cleared the sea of the pirates who
swarmed along the coasts, and had recently burnt the houses and carried
off the inhabitants of several villages. The king's authority once
secured he was anxious to secure to the mass of the people, Catholic as
well as Protestant, a just and impartial administration of the law. No
one in Ireland, he was resolved, should tyrannize except himself.


He and Laud, the primate, were close allies, and both were bent upon
bringing the Church of Ireland to an absolute uniformity with that of
England, and, with this object, Wentworth set a Court of High Commission
to work to root out the Presbyterian ministers and to suppress, as far
as possible, dissent. The Irish bishops and episcopalian clergy were,
with hardly an exception, Low Churchmen, with a leaning to Calvinism,
and, upon these also his hand was heavy. His regard for the Church by no
means stood in his way either in his dealings with individual churchmen.
He treated the Primate Ussher--one of the most venerated names in all
Irish history--with marked contempt; he rated the Bishop of Killaloe
upon one occasion like a dog, and told him that "he deserved to have his
rochet pulled over his ears;" boasting afterwards, to his correspondent,
of how effectually he had "warmed his old sides."

In another letter to Laud, we get a graphic and rather entertaining
account of his dealings with Convocation. The Lower House, it seems, had
appointed a select committee, which had drawn up a book of canons upon
the lines of what were known as the "Nine Articles of Lambeth."
Wentworth was furious. "Instantly," he says, "I sent for Dean Andrews,
that reverend clerk, who sat, forsooth, in the chair at this committee,
and required him to bring along the aforesaid book of canons; this he
obeyed, ... but when I came to open the book, I confess I was not so
much moved since I came into Ireland. I told him certainly not a Dean of
Limerick, but an Ananias had sat in the chair at that committee, and
sure I was that Ananias had been there in spirit if not in body[10]."

[10] Earl of Stratford's "Letters and Despatches," vol. i. p. 342.

The unhappy Ananias naturally submitted at once to the terrible deputy,
and, although Archbishop Ussher and most of the bishops defended the
attacked canons, Wentworth carried his point by a sheer exercise of
power. Throwing the list of canons already drawn out aside, he drew up
another of his own composition, and forced the Convocation to accept it.
"There were some hot spirits, sons of thunder, amongst them," he tells
Laud boastfully, "who moved that they should petition me for a free
synod, but, in fine, they could not agree among themselves who should
put the bell about the cat's neck, and so this likewise vanished[11]."
The cat, in truth, was a terrible one to bell!

[11] Ibid.

But the career of the master of Ireland was nearing its end. By the
beginning of 1640 the Scotch were up in arms, and about to descend in
force upon England. The English Puritans, too, were assuming a hostile
attitude. Civil war was upon the point of breaking out. Charles summoned
Wentworth over in hot haste from Ireland, and it was decided between
them that the newly-organized Irish forces were to be promptly employed
against the Scotch rebels. With this purpose Wentworth--now with the
long-desired titles of Earl of Strafford and Lord-Lieutenant of
Ireland--hurried back to make the final arrangements. Fresh subsidies
were obtained from the ever-subservient Irish parliament; more recruits
were hastily summoned, and came in readily; the army was put under the
command of the young Earl of Ormond, and Stratford once more returned to
England. He did so only to find all his calculations upset. A treaty had
been made in his absence with the Scots; the Long Parliament had
assembled, and the fast-gathering storm was about to break in thunder
over his own head. He was impeached. Witness after witness poured over
from Ireland, all eager to give their evidence. Representatives even of
the much-aggrieved Connaught landlords--though their wrongs did not
perhaps count for much in the great total--were there to swell the tide.
He was tried for high treason, condemned and executed. In England the
collapse of so great and so menacing a figure was a momentous event. In
Ireland it must have seemed as the very fall of Lucifer himself!




Stafford's fall and death would alone have rendered this year, 1641, a
memorable one in Irish history. Unhappily it was destined to be made yet
more so; few years, indeed, in that long, dark bead-roll are perhaps as
memorable, both from what it brought forth at the time, and, still more,
from what was afterwards to follow from it.

The whole country, it must be remembered, was in a state of the wildest
and most irrepressible excitement. The fall of such a ruler as
Strafford--one under whose iron will it had for years lain as in a
vice--would alone have produced a considerable amount of upheaval and
confusion. The army collected by him, and mainly recruited by Catholics,
was regarded with strong disfavour both by Irish Protestants and by the
English Parliament, and Charles, much against his will, had been forced
to disband it, and the arms had been stored in Dublin Castle. The men,
however, remained, and among the leading Irish as well as English
royalists there was a strong desire that they should be kept together,
so as to serve if required in the fast nearing struggle.

Nor was this all. Stafford's persecution of the Presbyterians had done
its work, and the feeling between them and the Irish Church party had
been greatly embittered. Amongst the Catholics, too, the most loyal even
of the gentry had been terror-stricken by his confiscations. No one knew
how long his property would remain his own, or upon what pretence it
might not next be taken from him. Add to these the long-gathering
passion of the dispossessed clans in the north, and that floating
element of disaffection always ready to stir, and it will be seen that
the materials for a rebellion were ready laid, and needed only a spark
to ignite them.

As usually happens in rebellions the plans of the more prudent were
thwarted by the impetuosity of the more violent spirits. While Ormond,
Antrim, and the barons of the Pale were communicating with the king, and
considering what were the best steps to take, a plot had been formed
without them, and was now upon the point of exploding.

Two men, Rory or Roger O'Moore, one of the O'Moores of Leix, and Sir
Phelim O'Neill, a connection of the Tyrones, were its main movers, and
were joined by Lord Maguire, a youth of about twenty-two, Hugh McMahon,
the Bishop of Clogher, and a few other gentlemen, belonging chiefly to
the septs of the north. The plan was a very comprehensive one. They were
to seize Dublin Castle, which was known to be weakly defended; get out
the arms and powder, and redistribute them to the disbanded troops; at
the same time, seize all the forts and garrison towns in the north; turn
all the Protestant settlers adrift--though it was at first stipulated
without killing or otherwise injuring them--take possession of all the
country houses, and make all who declined to join in the rising

Never, too, was plot more nearly successful. October the 23rd was the
day fixed, and up to the very evening before no hint of what was
intended had reached the Lords Justices. By the merest chance, and by an
almost inconceivable piece of carelessness on the part of the
conspirators, it was divulged to a man called Conolly, a Presbyterian
convert, who went straight and reported it to Sir William Parsons. The
latter at first declined to believe in it, but, Conolly persisting in
his story, steps were taken to strengthen the defences. The guard was
doubled; Lord Maguire and Hugh McMahon were arrested at daybreak next
morning; the rest, finding that their stroke had missed, fled with their

If this part of the rising failed, the other portions, unhappily, were
only too successful. The same day the Protestant settlers in Armagh and
Tyrone, unsuspicious of any danger, were suddenly set upon by a horde of
armed or half-armed men, dragged out of their houses, stripped to the
skin, and driven, naked and defenceless, into the cold. No one dared to
take them in, every door was shut in their faces, and though at first no
actual massacre seems to have been intended, hundreds perished within
the first few days of exposure, or fell dead by the roadside of famine
and exhaustion.

Sir Phelim O'Neill--a drunken ruffian for whom even the most patriotic
historian finds it hard to say a redeeming word--was here the
ringleader. On the same day--the 23rd of October--he got possession of
the fort of Charlemont, the strongest position in the new plantation, by
inviting himself to dinner with Lord Caulfield, the governor, and
suddenly seizing him prisoner. Dungannon, Mountjoy, and several of the
other forts, were also surprised and taken. Enniskillen, however, was
saved by its governor, Sir William Cole, and Derry, Coleraine, and
Carrickfergus, had also time fortunately to shut their gates, and into
these as many of the terrified settlers as could reach them crowded.

These were few, however, compared to those who could find no such haven
of refuge. Sir Phelim O'Neill, mad with excitement, and intoxicated with
the sudden sense of power, hounded on his excited and undisciplined
followers to commit every conceivable act of cruelty and atrocity.
Disappointed by the failure of the more important part of the rising,
and furious at the unsuccess of his attempts to capture the defended
towns, he turned like a bloodhound upon those unfortunates who were
within his grasp. Old Lord Caulfield was murdered in Sir Phelim's house
by Sir Phelim's own foster-brother; Mr. Blaney, the member for Monaghan,
was hanged; and some hundreds of the inhabitants of Armagh, who had
surrendered on promise of their lives, were massacred in cold blood. As
for the more irregular murders committed in the open field upon
helpless, terrified creatures, powerless to defend themselves, they are
too numerous to relate, and there is happily no purpose to be gained in
repeating the harrowing details. The effect produced by the condition of
the survivors upon those who saw them arrive in Dublin and
elsewhere--spent, worn out, frozen with cold, creeping along on hands
and knees, and all but at the point of death--was evidently
ineffaceable, and communicates itself vividly to us as we read their

The effect of cruelty, too, is to produce more cruelty; of horrors like
these to breed more horrors; till the very earth seems covered with the
hideous brood, and the most elementary instincts of humanity die away
under their poisonous breath. So it was now in Ireland. The atrocities
committed upon one side were almost equalled, though not upon so large a
scale by the other. One of the first actions performed by a Scotch
force, sent over to Carrickfergus by the king, was to sally out like
demons and mercilessly slaughter some thirty Irish families living in
Island Magee, who had nothing whatever to say to the rising. In Wicklow,
too, Sir Charles Coote, sent to suppress a disturbance amongst the
O'Byrnes and O'Tooles, perpetrated atrocities the memory of which still
survives in the region, and which, for cold-blooded, deliberate horror
almost surpass those committed in the north. The spearing by his
soldiery of infants which had hardly left the breast he himself openly
avowed, and excused upon the plea that if allowed to survive they would
grow up to be men and women, and that his object was to extirpate the
entire brood.

Here and there a faint gleam falls upon the blackened page. Bedell, the
Bishop of Kilmore, who had won the reverence even of his fiercest
opponents, was allowed to remain free and undisturbed in the midst of
the worst scenes of carnage and outrage; and when a few months later he
died, was followed weeping to the grave by many who had been foremost in
the work of horror. As to the number of those who actually perished,
either from exposure, or by the hands of assassins, it has been so
variously estimated that it seems to be all but impossible to arrive at
anything like exact statistics. The tale was black enough as it really
stood, but it was made blacker still by rumour and exaggeration. The
real number of the victims grew to tenfold in the telling. Four thousand
murdered swelled to forty thousand; and eight thousand who died of
exposure, to eighty thousand. Even now every fresh historian sets the
sum total down at a different figure. Take it, however, at the very
lowest, it is still a horrible one. Let us shut our eyes and pass on.
The history of those days remains in Carlyle's words, "Not a picture,
but a huge blot: an indiscriminate blackness, one which the human memory
cannot willingly charge itself with!"



So far the rising had been merely local. It was now to assume larger
dimensions. Although shocked at the massacre, and professing an eager
desire to march in person to punish its perpetrators, Charles' chief aim
was really that terms should be made with the leaders, in order that
their troops might be made available for service in England.

In Dublin courts-martial were being rapidly established. All Protestants
were given arms; all strangers were ordered to quit the city on pain of
death; Sir Francis Willoughby was given the command of the castle; Sir
Charles Coote made military governor of the city. Ormond was anxious to
take the field in the north before the insurrection spread further,
before they had time, as he said, to "file their pikes." This the Lords
Justices however refused to allow. They were waiting for orders from the
English Parliament, with which they were in close alliance, and were
perfectly willing to let the revolt spread so that the area of
confiscated lands might be the greater.

None of the three southern provinces had as yet risen, in the Pale the
Anglo-Norman families were warm in their expressions of loyalty, and
appealed earnestly to the Lords Justices to summon a parliament, and to
distribute arms for their protection. This last was refused, and
although a parliament assembled it was instantly prorogued, and no
measures were taken to provide for the safety of the well-disposed.
Early in December of the same year Lords Fingal, Gormanstown, Dunsany,
and others of the principal Pale peers, with a large number of the local
gentry, met upon horseback, at Swords, in Meath, to discuss their future
conduct. The opposition between the king and Parliament was daily
growing fiercer. The Lords Justices were the nominees of Parliament; to
revolt against them was not, therefore, it was argued, to revolt against
the king. Upon December 17th they met again in yet larger numbers, upon
the hill of Crofty, where they were met by some of the leaders of the
north. Rory O'Moore,--a man of no little address, who was personally
clear of the worst stain of the massacres, and who had lately issued a
proclamation declaring that he and his followers were in arms, not
against Charles, but the Parliament--was the principal speaker on this
occasion, and his arguments appear to have decided the waverers. They
agreed unanimously to throw in their lot with their co-religionists.
From that moment the rising had become a national one. The whole island
was soon in arms. Munster followed Leinster, and Connaught shortly
afterwards followed Munster. Lords Thomond, Clanricarde, and a few
others stood out, but by the end of the year, with the exception of
Dublin, Drogheda, Cork, Galway, Enniskillen, Derry, and some few other
towns, all Ireland was in the hands of the rebels.

Even then the Lords Justices seem to have but little realized the
gravity of the crisis. They occupied their time chiefly in preparing
indictments, and cheerfully calculating the fast-growing area of land
open to confiscation. In vain Ormond entreated to be allowed to proceed
against Sir Phelim O'Neill. They steadily declined to allow him to leave
the neighbourhood of Dublin.

The northern rising had by this time nearly worn itself out by its own
excesses. Sir Phelim's efforts to take Drogheda were ludicrously
unavailing, and he had been forced to take his ragged rabble away
without achieving anything. Regarded as an army it had one striking
peculiarity--there was not a single military man in it! Sir Phelim
himself had been bred to the law; Rory O'Moore was a self-taught
insurgent who had never smelt powder. They had no arms, no officers, no
discipline, no organization of any kind; what was more, the men were
deserting in all directions. In the south there was no one either to
take the command. The new levies were willing enough to fight, but there
was no one to show them how. The insurrection seemed in a fair way of
dying out from sheer want of leadership.

Suddenly reinforcements arrived in two directions almost at the same
time. Owen O'Neill--better known as Owen Roe--an honourable and gallant
man, who had served with much distinction upon the Continent, landed in
Donegal, accompanied by about a hundred French-Irish officers. He
instantly took the command of the disorganized and fast-dissolving
northern levies; superseded the incompetent Sir Phelim, who from that
moment fell away into contempt and impotence; suppressed all disorders,
and punished, as far as possible, those who had been foremost in the
work of blood, expressing at the same time his utter detestation of the
horrors which had hitherto blackened the rising.

Almost at the same moment Colonel Preston, a brother of Lord
Gormanstown, and an officer who had also served with credit in the
European wars, landed in the south, bringing with him a store of
ammunition and field artillery, and between four and five hundred exiled
Irish officers. The two forces thereupon began to assume a comparatively
organized appearance. Both, however, were so far perfectly independent
of each other, and both openly and avowedly hostile to the king.

To effect a union between these northern and southern insurgents a
meeting was summoned at Kilkenny in October, 1642, consisting of over
two hundred Roman Catholic deputies, nearly all the Irish Roman Catholic
bishops, many of the clergy, and some fourteen peers. A council was
formed of which Lord Mountgarret was appointed President. Owen Roe
O'Neill was at the same time confirmed in the command of the northern
forces, and Colonel Preston in that of the southern. The war was
declared to be a Catholic one, to be known henceforward as the Catholic
Confederacy, and between old Irish and Anglo-Irish there was to be no

Charles's great aim was now to persuade the Confederates to unite with
one another in his support. The chief difficulty was a religious one.
The Kilkenny Council stood out for the restoration of the Catholic
Church in all its original privileges. This, for his own
sake--especially in the then excited state of feeling in
England--Charles dared not grant, neither would Ormond abet him in doing
so. Between the latter and the Catholic peers there was, however, a
complete understanding, while between him and the Dublin Lords Justices
there was an all but complete breach.

The King decided upon a _coup de main_. He dismissed the Lords Justices,
and ordered several of the more Puritan members of the Privy Council to
be tried for treason. The result was a rapid exodus of nearly the whole
governing body to England. Early in 1644 Ormond was made Lord-deputy,
and a truce of a year was entered into with the Confederates. Only the
extravagance of the latter's demands now stood in the way of a
complete union.



The passionate excitement which the news of the Ulster massacre had
awakened in England seems to have deepened, rather than diminished, as
time went on, and the details became more known. Nothing that has
happened within living memory can be even approximately compared to it,
though, perhaps, those who are old enough to remember the sensations
awakened by the news of the Indian Mutiny will be able most nearly to
realize the wrath and passionate desire of revenge which filled every
Protestant breast. That the circumstances of the case were not taken
into consideration was almost inevitable. Looking back with calmer
vision--though even now a good deal of fog and misconception seems to
prevail upon the subject--we can see that some such outbreak was all but
inevitable; might have been, indeed ought to have been, foreseen. A
wildly-excitable population driven from the land which they and their
fathers had held from time immemorial, confined to a narrow and, for the
most part, a worthless tract; seeing others in possession of these "fat
lands" which they still regarded as their own--exiled to make room for
planters of another race and another faith--what, in the name of sense
or reason, was to be expected except what happened? That the very
instant protection was withdrawn the hour for retribution would be felt
to have struck. The unhappy Protestant colonists were absolutely
guiltless in the matter. They were simply the victims, as the earlier
proprietors had been the victims before them. The wrongs that had been
wrought thirty years earlier by Sir John Davis and the Dublin lawyers
had been wiped out in their unoffending blood.

This point is so important to realize, and the whole rising has so often
been described as a purely religious and fanatical one, that it is worth
dwelling upon it a minute or two longer. It was a rising,
unquestionably, of a native Roman Catholic community against an
introduced Protestant one, and the religious element, no doubt, counted
for something--though it is not easy to say for how much--in the matter.
In any case it was the smallest least vital part of the long gathered
fury which resulted in that deed of vengeance. The rising was
essentially an agrarian one--as almost every Irish rising has been
before and since--and the fact that the two rival creeds found
themselves face to face was little more than a very unfortunate
accident. Could the plantations of James the First's time have been
formed exclusively of English or Scotch Roman Catholics, we have no
reason, and certainly no right to conclude that the event would have
been in any way different, or that the number of those slaughtered would
have been reduced by even a single victim.

It was not, however, to be expected that the English Protestants of that
day would realize this. It is not always fully realized even yet. The
heat awakened by that ruthless slaughter, that merciless driving away of
hundreds of innocent women and children, the natural pity for the youth
and helplessness of many of the victims has lasted down to our own time.
Even to us the outrage is a thousand-fold more vivid than the
provocation which led to it. How much more then to the English
Protestants of that day? To them it was simply a new massacre of St.
Bartholomew; an atrocity which the very amplest and bloodiest vengeance
would still come far short of expiating.

It is easy to see that any negotiation with those implicated in a deed
which had produced so widespread a feeling of horror was a proceeding
fraught with peril to the royal cause. Anger does not discriminate, and
to the Protestants of England, North and South, old Irish, and
Anglo-Irish, honourable gentlemen of the Pale, and red-handed rebels of
Ulster, were all alike guilty. Nor was this Charles's only difficulty.
The Confederates declined to abate a jot of their terms. The free
exercise of the Catholic religion, an independent Irish parliament, a
general pardon, and a reversal of all attainders were amongst their
conditions, and they would not take less. These Ormond dared not agree
to. Had he done so every Protestant in Ireland, down to his own
soldiery, would have gone over in a body to the Parliament. He offered
what he dared, but the Irish leaders would listen to no compromise. They
knew the imminence of the situation as well as he did, and every fresh
royal defeat, the news of which reached Ireland, only made them stand
out the firmer.

Charles cut the knot in his own fashion. Tired of Ormond's discretion
and Ormond's inconvenient sense of honour, he secretly sent over Edward
Somerset, Earl of Glamorgan, to make terms with the Confederates, who,
excited at finding themselves the last hope and mainstay of an
embarrassed king stood out for higher and higher conditions. The
Plantation lands were to be given back: full and free pardon was to be
granted to all; Mass was to be said in all the churches. To these terms
and everything else required, Glamorgan agreed, and the Confederates,
thereupon, agreed to despatch a large force, when called upon to do so,
to England, and in the meantime to make sham terms with Ormond, keeping
him in the dark as to this secret compact.

It was not long a secret Ormond seems to have had some suspicions of it
from the beginning, and an incident which presently occurred made
suspicion certainty. The town of Sligo had been captured by the
parliamentary troops under Coote, and in October, 1645, an attempt was
made to recapture it by a party of Irish under a fighting prelate, the
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam. In the struggle which ensued the
Archbishop was killed, and upon his body was found a copy of the secret
treaty which was straightway despatched by Coote to London.

It awakened a sensation hardly less than that with which the news of the
massacre itself had been received. It was tie one thing still wanting to
damage the royal cause. Charles, it is true, denied it stoutly, and the
English royalists tried to accept the denial. The Irish ones knew
better. Ormond, whose own honour was untouched, did what he could to
save his king's. The Confederates, however, admitted it openly, and
Glamorgan, after suffering a short and purely fictitious imprisonment,
remained in Ireland to carry out his master's orders.

The already crowded confusion of the scene there had lately been added
to by a new actor. Rinucini, Archbishop of Fermo, had been despatched by
Pope Innocent X. as his nuncio, and at once threw himself into the
struggle. To him it narrowed itself to one point. The moment, he felt,
had now come for the re-establishment of the Catholic religion in
Ireland, and if possible for its union with one of the Catholic Powers
of Europe, and in order to achieve this object, his great aim was to
hinder, if possible, anything like a reconciliation between the Catholic
insurgents and the king.

Meanwhile, peace had been made in England. Charles was a prisoner, and
the final acts of that drama in which he plays so strangely mixed a part
were shortly to be enacted. In Ireland there was no pretence at peace.
On the contrary, it was only then that hostilities seem really to have
been carried on with vigour. At a battle fought upon June 4, 1646, near
Benturb, Owen O'Neill had defeated Munroe and his Scottish forces with
great slaughter, and from that moment the whole north was in his power.
In the south Rinucini was rushing from town to town and pulpit to
pulpit, fiercely arousing all the Catholic animosity of the country
against both English parties alike. In this he was supported by Owen
O'Neill, who, with his victorious army, hastened south to meet him.
Together the chief and the legate marched in September of the same year
into Kilkenny; took possession of the Council Chamber; flung the
Moderates assembled there, including old Lord Mountgarret and the rest
of the Council, into prison. Ormond was in Dublin, helpless to meet this
new combination. No orders came from England. The royal cause seemed to
be hopelessly lost. All Ireland was swarming with the troops of the
insurgents. Lord Inchiquin, who had for a while declared for the king,
had now gone over to the Parliament. O'Neill and the legate's army was
daily gathering strength. It needed but a little more energy on their
part and Dublin itself, with all its helpless crowd of fugitives, must
fall into their hands.

In this dilemma Ormond came to a resolution. To throw in his lot with
Rinucini and the rebels of the north, stained as the latter were in his
eyes with innocent blood, was impossible. Even had they been disposed to
combine heartily with him for the royal cause he could hardly have done
so; as it was there was barely a pretence of any such intention. If
Charles could effect his escape and would put himself in their hands,
then, indeed, they said they would support him. In that case, however,
it would have been as king of Ireland rather than England. Ormond could
not and would not stoop to any such negotiations. He wrote to the
English Parliament offering to surrender Dublin into their hands, and to
leave the country. The offer was accepted, and a month later he had
relinquished the impossible post, and joined the other escaped Royalists
in France.



The indescribable confusion of aims and parties in Ireland begins at
this point to take even more rapid and perplexing turns. That "poor
panther Inchiquin," as one of his opponents derisively calls him, who
had already made one bound from king to Parliament, now, upon some fresh
offence, bounded back again, and made overtures to Preston and the
Moderates. Rinucini, whose only policy was to hinder any union between
the Catholics and Royalists, thereupon fled to O'Neill, and together
they opposed the Moderates tooth and nail. The latter were now seriously
anxious to make terms with the Royalists. The king's trial was
beginning, and his peril served to consolidate all but the most extreme.
Ormond himself returned late in 1648 from France; Prince Rupert arrived
early the following year with a small fleet of ships off Kinsale, and
every day brought crowds of loyal gentlemen to Ireland as to a final
vantage ground upon which to try a last desperate throw for the
royal cause.

In Dublin the command, upon Ormond's surrender, had been given by the
Parliament to Colonel Michael Jones, a Puritan officer, who had greatly
distinguished himself in the late war. The almost ludicrously involved
state into which things had got is seen by the fact that Jones, though
himself the leader of the Parliamentary forces, struck up at this
juncture a temporary alliance with O'Neill, and instructed Monk who was
in the north, to support him. The king's death brought all the
Royalists, and most of the more moderate rebels into line at last.
Rinucini, feeling that whatever happened, his project of a separate
Ireland had become impossible, fled to Italy. Even O'Neill, finding that
his alliance with Jones was not prospering, and that the stricter
Puritans declined with horror the bare idea of holding any communication
with him or his forces, gave in his adhesion. Old Irish and Anglo-Irish,
Protestant and Catholic, North and South, all at last were in arms for
the king.

The struggle had thus narrowed itself. It was now practically between
Dublin, commanded by Jones, the Parliamentary general, upon one side,
and all Ireland under Ormond and the now united Confederates on the
other. Cromwell, it was known, was preparing for a descent upon Ireland,
and had issued liberal offers of the forfeited Irish lands to all who
would aid him in the enterprise. He had first, however, to land, and
there was nowhere that he could do so excepting at Dublin or
Londonderry. All the efforts therefore of the Royalists were
concentrated upon taking the capital before it became the starting-point
of a new campaign. Marching hastily from Kilkenny, Ormond established
himself at a place called Baggotrath, near Rathmines, and close to the
walls of the town. Two nights after his arrival he sent forward a body
of men under Colonel Purcell to try and effect a surprise. Jones,
however, was on the alert; drove Purcell back, and, following him with
all the men at his command, fell upon Ormond's camp, where no proper
watch was being kept. The surprise was thus completely reversed. Six
thousand of the confederate troops were killed or forced to surrender,
and Ormond, with the remainder, had to fall back upon Kilkenny.

[Illustration: JAMES, DUKE OF ORMOND. (_From an engraving by White,
after a picture by Kneller_.)]

The battle of Baggotrath does not figure amongst the more famous battles
of this period, but it was certainly the turning-point of the Irish
campaign. With his crippled forces, Ormond was unable again to take the
field, and Jones was therefore left in undisputed possession of Dublin.
A week later, in August, 1649, Cromwell had landed there with 12,000
troops at his back.



Cromwell had hardly set foot upon Irish soil before he took complete
control of the situation. The enterprise, in his own eyes and in those
of many who accompanied him, wore all the sacred hue of a crusade. "We
are come," he announced, solemnly, upon his arrival in Dublin, "to ask
an account of the innocent blood that hath been shed, and to endeavour
to bring to an account all who, by appearing in arms, shall justify
the same."

Three thousand troops, the flower of the English cavaliers, with some of
the Royalists of the Pale--none of whom, it may be said, had anything to
say to the Ulster massacres--had been hastily thrown by Ormond into
Drogheda, under Sir Arthur Ashton, a gallant Royalist officer; and to
Drogheda, accordingly in September Cromwell marched. Summoned to yield,
the garrison refused. They were attacked, and fought desperately,
driving back their assailants at the first assault. At the second, a
breach was made in the walls, and Ashton and his force were driven into
the citadel. "Being thus entered," Cromwell's despatch to the Parliament
runs, "we refused them quarter. I believe we put to the sword the whole
number of the defendents. I do not think thirty escaped. Those that did
are in safe custody for the Barbadoes.... I wish," he adds, a little
later in the same despatch, "all honest hearts may give the glory of
this to God alone."

From Drogheda, the Lord-General turned south to Wexford. Here an equally
energetic defence was followed by an equally successful assault, and
this also by a similar drama of slaughter. "There was lost of the
enemy," he himself writes, "not many less than two thousand; and, I
believe, not twenty of yours from first to last." The soldiers, he goes
on to say, "got a very good booty in this place." Of "the former
inhabitants ... most of them are run away, and many of them killed in
this service. It were to be wished that some honest people would come
and plant here[12]."

[12] "Cromwell's Letters and Speeches"--Carlyle.

The grim candour of these despatches needs no comment. We see the whole
situation with that vividness which only a relation at first hand ever
gives. The effect of these two examples was instantaneous. Most of the
other towns surrendered upon the first summons. The Irish army fell back
in all directions. An attempt was made to save Kilkenny, but after a
week's defence it was surrendered. The same thing happened at Clonmel,
and within a few months of his arrival nearly every strong place, except
Waterford and Limerick, were in the Lord-General's hands.

That Cromwell, from his own point of view, was justified in these
proceedings, and that he held himself--even when slaughtering English
Royalists in revenge for the acts of Irish rebels--a divinely-appointed
agent sent to execute justice upon the ungodly, there can be little
doubt. As regards ordinary justice his conduct was exemplary. Unlike
most of the armies that had from time to time ravaged Ireland, he
allowed no disorder. His soldiers were forbidden by proclamation to
plunder, and were hanged, "in ropes of authentic hemp," as Carlyle
remarks, when they did so. The merciless slaughter of two entire
garrisons is a hideous deed, and a deed, too, which appeals with
peculiar force to the popular imagination. As compared to many acts
perpetrated from time to time in Ireland, it seems, if one examines it
coolly, to fade into comparative whiteness, and may certainly be
paralleled elsewhere. A far deeper and more ineffaceable stain rests--as
will be seen in another chapter--upon Cromwell's rule in Ireland; one,
moreover, not so readily justified by custom or any grim necessities
of warfare.

The final steps by which the struggle was crushed out were comparatively
tedious. Cromwell's men were attacked by that "country sickness" which
seems at that time to have been inseparable from Irish campaigns.
Writing from Ross in November, he says, "I scarce know one officer
amongst us who has not been sick." His own presence, too, was urgently
required in England, so that he was forced before long to set sail,
leaving the completion of the campaign in the hands of others.

In the Royalist camp, the state of affairs was meanwhile absolutely
desperate. The Munster colonists had gone over almost to a man to the
enemy. The "panther Inchiquin" had taken another bound in the same
direction. The quarrels between Ormond and the old Irish party had grown
bitterer than ever The hatred of the extreme Catholic party towards him
appears to have been if anything rather deeper than their hatred to
Cromwell, and all the recent disasters were charged by them to his want
of generalship. The young king had been announced at one moment to be
upon the point of arriving in person in Ireland. "One must go and die
there, for it is shameful to live elsewhere!" he is reported to have
cried, with a depth of feeling very unlike his usual utterances. He got
as far as Jersey, but there paused. Ireland under Cromwell's rule was
not exactly a pleasant royal residence, and, on the whole, he appears to
have thought it wiser to go no further.

His signature, a year later, of the Covenant, in return for the Scotch
allegiance, brought about a final collapse of the always thinly cemented
pact in Ireland. The old Catholic party thereupon broke wholly away from
Ormond, and after a short struggle he was again driven into exile. From
this time forward, there was no longer a royal party of any sort left in
the country.

Under Hugh O'Neill, a cousin of Owen Roe, who--fortunately, perhaps, for
himself--had died shortly after Cromwell's arrival, the struggle was
carried on for some time longer. As in later times, Limerick was one of
the last places to yield. Despite the evident hopelessness of the
struggle, Hugh O'Neill and his half-starved men held it with a courage
which awoke admiration even amongst the Cromwellians. When it was
surrendered the Irish officers received permission to take service
abroad. Galway, with a few other towns and castles, which still held
out, now surrendered. The eight years' civil war was at last over, and
nothing remained for the victors to do but to stamp out the last sparks,
and call upon the survivors to pay the forfeit.




The total loss of life during-those weary eight years of war and anarchy
has been estimated at no less than six hundred thousand lives, and there
seems to be no reason to think that these figures are exaggerated.
Whereas in 1641 the population of Ireland was nearly one and a half
millions, at the end of 1649 it was considerably under one. More than a
third, therefore, of the entire population had disappeared bodily.

Nor were the survivors left in peace to bind up their wounds and mourn
their slain. In England, once the fighting was over, and the swords
sheathed, there was little desire to carry the punishment further; and
the vanquished were, for the most part, able to retire in more or less
melancholy comfort to their homes. In Ireland the reverse was the case.
There the struggle had been complicated by a bitterness unknown
elsewhere, and had aroused a keen and determined thirst for vengeance,
one which the cessation of hostilities only seemed to stimulate into
greater vehemence.

The effect, especially amongst the Puritans, of the Ulster massacres,
far from dying out, had grown fiercer and bitterer with every year. Now
that the struggle was over, that Ireland lay like an inert thing in the
hands of her victors, her punishment, it was resolved, should begin. Had
that punishment fallen only on the heads of those who could be proved to
have had any complicity in that deed of blood there would not have been
a word to say. Sir Phelim O'Neill was dragged from the obscurity to
which ever since the coming of Owen Roe he had been consigned, tried in
Dublin, and hanged--with little regret even from his own side. Lord
Mayo, who had taken a prominent part in the rising, and was held
responsible for a horrible massacre perpetrated at Shrule Bridge, near
Tuam, was shot in Connaught. Lord Muskerry was tried, and honourably
acquitted. Other trials took place, chiefly by court-martial, and though
some of these appear to have been unduly pressed, on the whole,
considering the state of feelings that had been awakened, it may be
allowed that so far stern justice had not outstepped her province.

It was very different with what was to follow. An enormous scheme of
eviction had been planned by Cromwell which was to include all the
native and nearly all the Anglo-Irish inhabitants of Ireland, with the
exception of the humblest tillers of the soil, who were reserved as
serfs or servants. This was a scheme of nothing less than the
transportation of all the existing Catholic landowners of Ireland, who,
at a certain date, were ordered to quit their homes, and depart in a
body into Connaught, there to inhabit a narrow desolate tract, between
the Shannon and the sea, destitute, for the most part, of houses or any
accommodation for their reception; where they were to be debarred from
entering any walled town, and where a cordon of soldiers was to be
stationed to prevent their return. May 1, 1654, was the date fixed for
this national exodus, and all who after that date were found east of the
appointed line were to suffer the penalty of death.

The dismay awakened when the magnitude of this scheme burst upon the
unhappy country may easily be conceived. Delicate ladies, high-born men
and women, little children, the old, the sick, the suffering--all were
included in this common disaster; all were to share alike in this vast
and universal sentence of banishment. Resistance, too, was hopeless.
Everything that could be done in the way of resistance had already been
done, and the result was visible. The Irish Parliament had ceased to
exist. A certain number of its Protestant members had been transferred
by Cromwell to the English one,--thus anticipating the Union that was to
come a century and a half later. The whole government of the country was
at present centred in a board of commissioners, who sat in Dublin, and
whose direct interest it was to hasten the exodus as much as possible.

For the new owners, who were to supplant those about to be ejected, were
ready and waiting to step into their places. The Cromwellian soldiers
who had served in the war had all received promises of grants of land,
and their pay, now several years due, was also to be paid to them in the
same coin. The intention was, that they were to be marched down regiment
by regiment, and company by company, to ground already chosen for them
by lot, then and there disbanded, and put into possession. A vast
Protestant military colony was thus to be established over the whole of
the eastern provinces. In addition to these an immense number of English
speculators had advanced money upon Irish lands, and were now eagerly
waiting to receive their equivalent.

As the day drew nearer, there arose all over Ireland a wild plea for
time, for a little breathing time before being driven into exile. The
first summons had gone out in the autumn, and had been proclaimed by
beat of drum and blast of trumpet all over the country, and as the 1st
of May began to approach the plea grew more and more urgent. So evident
was the need for delay that some, even among the Parliamentarians, were
moved to pity, and urged that a little more time might be granted. The
command to "root out the heathen" was felt to be imperative, but even
the heathen might be allowed a little time to collect his goods, and to
provide some sort of a roof to shelter him in this new and forlorn home
to which he was being sent.

It happened, too, that some of the first batches of exiles were ordered
into North Clare, to a district known as the Burren, whose peculiarity
is that what little soil is to be found there has collected into rifts
below the surface, or accumulated into pockets of earth at the feet of
the hills, leaving the rest of the surface sheer rock, the very streams,
whose edges would otherwise be green, being mostly carried underground.
The general appearance of the region has been vividly described by one
of the commissioners engaged in carrying out this very act of
transplantation, who, writing back to Dublin for further instructions,
informs his superiors that the region in question did not possess "water
enough to drown a man, trees enough to hang a man, or earth enough to
bury a man." It may be conceived what an effect such a region, so
described, must have had upon men fresh from the fertile and flourishing
pasture-lands of Meath and Kildare. Many turned resolutely back,
preferring rather to die than to attempt life under such new and
hopeless conditions, and stern examples had to be made before the
unwilling emigrants were at last fairly got underweigh.

Yet even such exile as this was better than the lot of some. The wives
and families of the Irish officers and soldiers who had been allowed to
go into foreign service, had, of necessity, been left behind, and a
considerable number of these, the Government now proceeded to ship in
batches to the West Indies to be sold as slaves. Several thousand women,
ladies and others, were thus seized and sold by dealers, often without
any individual warrant, and it was not until after the accidental
seizure of some of the wives of the Cromwellian soldiers that the
traffic was put under regulations. Cromwell's greatness needs no
defence, but the slaughter of the garrisons of Drogheda and Wexford,
reckoned amongst the worst blemishes upon that greatness, pales beside
such an act as this; one which would show murkily even upon the
blackened record of an Alva or a Pizarro.

Slowly the long trains of exiles began now to pour out in all
directions. Herds of cattle, horses laden with furniture, with food,
with all the everyday necessities of such a multitude accompanied them.
All across that wide limestone plain, which covers the centre of
Ireland, innumerable family groups were to be seen slowly streaming
west. There were few roads, and those few very bad. Hardly a wheeled
conveyance of any sort existed in the country. Those who were too weak
to walk or to ride had to be carried on men's backs or in horse litters.
The confusion, the misery, the cold, the wretchedness may be conceived,
and always behind, urging them on, rebuking the loiterers, came the
armed escort sent to drive them into exile--Puritan seraphs, with drawn
swords, set to see that none returned whence they came!

Nor was there even any marked satisfaction amongst those who inherited
the lands and houses thus left vacant. Many of the private soldiers who
had received bonds or debentures for their share of the land, had parted
with them long since, either to their own officers or to the trafficers
in such bonds, who had sprang up by hundreds, and who obtained them from
the needy soldiers often for a mere trifle. Sharp-sighted speculators
like Dr. Petty, by whom the well-known Survey of Ireland was made,
acquired immense tracts of land at little or no outlay. Of those
soldiers, too, who did receive grants of land many left after a while.
Others, despite all regulations to the contrary, married Irish wives,
and their children in the next generation were found to have not only
become Roman Catholics, but to be actually unable to speak a word of
English. Many, too, of the dispossessed proprietors, the younger ones
especially, continued to hang about, and either harassed the new owners
and stole their goods, or made friends with them, and managed after a
while to slip back upon some excuse into their old homes. No sternness
of the Puritan leaven availed to hinder the new settlers from being
absorbed into the country, as other and earlier settlers had been
absorbed before them; marrying its daughters, adopting its ways, and
becoming themselves in time Irishmen. The bitter memory of that vast and
wholesale act of eviction has remained, but the good which it was hoped
would spring from it faded away almost within a generation.



Cromwell was now dead, and after a very short attempt at government his
son Richard had relinquished the reins and retired into private life.
Henry Cromwell, who had for several years been Lord-Lieutenant in
Ireland, and had won no little liking by his mild and equable rule, also
honourably resigned at the same time, and left. Coote, on the other
hand, and Broghill, both of whom had acquired immense estates under the
Cromwellian rule, were amongst the foremost to hail the Restoration, and
to secure their own interests by being eager to welcome the king. Such
secular vicars of Bray were not likely to suffer whatever king or
government came uppermost.

To the exiled proprietors, who had fought for that king's father and for
himself, it naturally seemed that the time had come for their sufferings
and exile to end. Now that the king had been restored to his own again,
they who had been punished for his sake should also, they thought, in
fairness, again enjoy what had been theirs before the war.

[Illustration: HENRY CROMWELL, LORD-LIEUTENANT FROM 1657 TO 1660. (_From
a Mezzotint_.)]

Charles's position, it must be acknowledged, was a very difficult one.
Late found as it was, the loyalty of Coote, Broghill, and others of
their stamp had been eminently convenient, as without it the army in
Ireland would hardly have returned to its allegiance. To deprive them of
what they had acquired was felt to be out of the question, and the same
argument applied, with no little force, to many of the other newly-made
proprietors. The feeling, too, against the Irish Catholics was far from
having died out in England, and anything like a wholesale ejection of
the new Protestant settlers for their benefit, would have been very
badly received there.

On the other hand, decency and the commonest sense of honour required
that something should be done. Ormond, who had been made a duke, was at
once reinstated in his own lands, with a handsome additional slice as a
recompense for his services. A certain number of other great proprietors
and lords of the Pale, a list of whom was rather capriciously made out,
were also immediately reinstated. For the rest, more tardy and less
satisfactory justice was to be meted.

A Court of Claims was set up in Dublin to try the cases of those who
claimed, during the late war, to have been upon the king's side. Those
who could prove their entire innocence of the original rebellion were to
be at once reinstated; those, on the other hand, who were in arms before
'49, or who had been at any time joined to the party of Rinucini, or had
held any correspondence, even accidentally, with that party, were to be
excluded, and if they had received lands in Connaught might stay there
and be thankful.

A wearisome period of endless dispute, chicanery, and wrangling followed
this decision. As the soldiers and adventurers were only to be
dispossessed in case of a sufficiency of reserved lands being found to
compensate them, it followed that the fewer of the original proprietors
that could prove their loyalty the better for the Government. At the
first sitting of the Court of Claims the vast majority of those whose
cases were tried were able thus to prove their innocence; and as all
these had a claim to be reinstated, great alarm was felt, and a clamour
of indignation arose from the new proprietors, at which the Government,
taking alarm, made short work of many of the remaining claims, whereupon
a fresh, and certainly not less reasonable, clamour was raised upon the
other side.

The end of the long-drawn struggle may be stated in a few words. The
soldiers, adventures, and debenture holders agreed at length to accept
two-thirds of their land, and to give up the other third, and on this
arrangement, by slow degrees, the country settled down. As a net result
of the whole settlement we find that, whereas before '41 the Irish Roman
Catholics had held two-thirds of the good land and all the waste, after
the Restoration they held only one-third in all, and this, too, after
more than two millions of acres previously forfeited had been
restored to them.



No class of the community suffered more severely from the effects of the
Restoration than the Presbyterians of Ulster. The church party which had
returned to Ireland upon the crest of the new wave signalized its return
by a violent outburst of intolerance directed not so much against the
Papists as the Nonconformists. Of the 300,000 Protestants, which was
roughly speaking the number calculated to be at that time in Ireland,
fully a third were Presbyterians, another 100,000 being made up of
Puritans and other Nonconformists, leaving only one-third Churchmen.
Against the two former, but especially against the Presbyterians, the
terrors of the law were now put in force. A new Act of Uniformity was
passed, and armed with this, the bishops with Bramhall, the Primate, at
their head, insisted upon an acceptance of the Prayer-book being
enforced upon all who were permitted to hold any benefice, or to teach
or preach in any church or public place.

The result was that the Presbyterians were driven away in crowds from
Ireland. Out of seventy ministers in Ulster, only eight accepted the
terms and were ordained; all the remainder were expelled, and their
flocks in many cases elected to follow them into exile.

This persecution was the more monstrous that no hint or pretext of
disloyalty was urged against them. They had been planted in the country
as a defence and breakwater against the Roman Catholics, and now the
same intolerance which had, in a great measure forced the latter to
rebel, was in its turn being brought to bear upon them.

The Roman Catholics, on the other hand, now found themselves indulged to
a degree that they had not experienced for nearly a century. The penal
laws at the special instance of the king were suspended in their favour.
Many of the priests returned, and were allowed to establish themselves
in their old churches. They could not do so, however, without violent
alarm being awakened upon the other side. The Irish Protestants
remonstrated angrily, and their indignation found a vehement echo in
England. The '41 massacre was still as fresh in every Protestant's mind
as if it had happened only the year before, and suspicion of Rome was a
passion ready at any moment to rise to frenzy.

The heir to the Crown was a Papist, and Charles was himself strongly,
and not unreasonably suspected of being secretly one also. His alliance
with Louis XIV» was justifiably regarded with the utmost suspicion and
dislike by all his Protestant subjects. It only wanted a spark to set
this mass of smouldering irritation and suspicion into a flame.

That spark was afforded by the murder of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey, under
circumstances which were at first believed to point to its having been
committed by Papists. A crowd of perjured witnesses, with Titus Gates at
their head, sprang like evil birds of the night into existence, ready to
swear away the lives of any number of innocent men. The panic flew
across the Channel. Irish Roman Catholics of all classes and ages were
arrested and flung into prison. Priests who had ventured to return were
ordered to quit the country at once. Men of stainless honour, whose only
crime was their faith, were on no provocation seized and subjected to
the most ignominious treatment, and in several instances put to death.

The case of Dr. Plunkett, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, a man
whom even Protestants regarded with the utmost reverence, is the most
notorious of these. Upon a ridiculous charge of being implicated in a
wholly mythical French descent, he was dragged over to London, summarily
sentenced, convicted, and hung, drawn, and quartered. Although the most
eminent, he was only one, however, of the victims of this most insane of
panics. Reason seemed to have been utterly lost. Blood and blood alone
could satisfy the popular craving, and victim after victim was hurried,
innocent but unpitied, to his doom.

At last the tide stayed. First slackened, then suddenly--in Ireland at
least--reversed itself, and ran almost as recklessly and as violently as
ever, only in the opposite direction. In 1685 Charles died, and James
now king, resolved with hardly an attempt at further concealment to
carry out his own long-cherished plans. From the beginning of his reign
his private determination seems to have been to make Ireland a
stronghold and refuge for his Roman Catholic subjects, in order that by
their aid he might make himself independent both of England and the
Parliament, and so carry out that despotism upon which his whole narrow,
obstinate soul was inflexibly set.

His first step was to recall the Duke of Ormond, whom Charles had left
as Viceroy, and to appoint in his place two Lords Justices, Lord Granard
and the Primate Boyle, who were likely, he believed, to be more
malleable. All tests were to be immediately done away with. Catholicism
was no longer to be a disqualification for office, and Roman Catholics
were to be appointed as judges. A more important change still, the army
was to be entirely remodelled; Protestant officers were to be summarily
dismissed, and Roman Catholic ones as summarily put in their places.

Such sweeping changes could not, even James found, be carried out all at
once. The Lords Justices were next dismissed, and his own
brother-in-law, Lord Clarendon, sent over as Lord-Lieutenant. He in turn
proving too timid, or too constitutional, his place was before long
filled by Richard Talbot, a fervent Catholic, but a man of indifferent
public honour and more than indifferent private character. Talbot was
created Earl of Tyrconnel, and arrived in 1686 avowedly to carry out the
new policy.

From this point the stream ran fast and strong. The recent innovations,
especially the re-organization of the army, had naturally caused immense
alarm amongst the whole Protestant colony. A petition drawn out by the
former proprietors and forwarded to the king against the Act of
Settlement had made them tremble also for their estates, and now this
new appointment came to put a climax to their dismay. What might not be
expected they asked in terror, under a man so unscrupulous and so
bigoted, with an army, too, composed mainly of Roman Catholics at his
back to enforce his orders? The departure of Clarendon was thus the
signal for a new Protestant exodus. Wild reports of a general massacre,
one which was to surpass the massacre of '41, flew through the land.
Terrified people flocked to the sea-coast and embarked in any boat they
could find for England. Those that remained behind drew themselves
together for their own defence within barricaded houses, and in the
towns in the north, especially in Enniskillen and Londonderry, the
Protestant inhabitants closed their gates and made ready to withstand
a siege.

Meanwhile in Dublin sentences of outlawry were fast being reversed, and
the estates of the Protestants being restored in all directions to their
former proprietors. The charters of the corporate towns were next
revoked, and new (by preference Catholic) aldermen and mayors appointed
by the viceroy. All Protestants were ordered to give up their arms by a
certain day, and to those who did not, "their lives and goods," it was
announced, "should be at the mercy and discretion of the soldiers."
These soldiers, now almost exclusively Catholic, lived at free quarters
upon the farms and estates of the Protestants. "Tories," lately out
"upon their keeping," with prices upon their heads, were now officers in
the king's service. The property of Protestants was seized all over the
country, their houses taken possession of, their sheep and cattle
slaughtered by hundreds of thousands. All who could manage to escape
made for the north, where the best Protestant manhood of the country had
now gathered together, and was standing resolutely in an attitude of

In England, William of Orange had meanwhile landed in Torbay, and James
had fled precipitately to France. Tyrconnel, who seems to have been
unprepared for this event, hesitated at first, undecided what to do or
how matters would eventually shape themselves. He even wrote to William,
professing to be rather favourable than otherwise to his cause, a
profession which the king, who was as yet anything but firm in his own
seat, seems to have listened to with some belief, and General Richard
Hamilton was sent over by him to negotiate matters with the viceroy.

The passions awakened on both sides were far too strong however, for any
such temporizing. Louis XIV. had received James upon his flight with
high honour, and his return to the throne was believed by his own
adherents to be imminent. In England, especially in London, the
excitement against the Irish Catholics was prodigious, and had been
increased by the crowd of Protestant refugees who had recently poured
in. The Irish regiments brought to England by James had been insultingly
disbanded, and their officers put under arrest. "Lilibullero," the
anti-Catholic street song, was sung by thousands of excited lips. Lord
Jefferies, who embodied in his own person all that the popular hatred
most detested in his master's rule, had been dragged to prison amid the
threatening howls of the populace. The "Irish night," during
which--though without the faintest shadow of reason--the London citizens
had fully believed an Irish mob to be in the act of marching upon the
town, with the set purpose of massacring every Protestant man, woman,
and child in it, had worked both town and nation to the highest possible
pitch of excitement. In Ireland too the stream had gone too far and too
fast to turn back. The minority and the majority stood facing one
another like a pair of pugilists. The Protestants, whose property had
been either seized or wasted, were fast concentrating themselves behind
Lough Foyle. Thither Tyrconnel sent Richard Hamilton--who, deserting
William, had thrown himself upon the other side--with orders to reduce
Londonderry before aid could arrive from England. To James himself
Tyrconnel wrote, urging him to start for Ireland without delay. Though
unprepared at present to furnish soldiers, Louis was munificent in other
respects. A fleet of fourteen men-of-war, with nine smaller vessels, was
provided. Arms, ammunition, and money without stint were placed at the
command of the exile, and a hundred French officers with the Count
d'Avaux, one of the king's most trusted officials, as envoy, were sent
to accompany the expedition. On March 12, 1689, James II. landed
at Kinsale.



James's appearance in Ireland was hailed with a little deserved burst of
enthusiasm. As a king, as a Catholic, and as a man in deep misfortune,
he had a triple claim upon the kindly feeling of a race never slow to
respond to such appeals. All along the road from Cork to Dublin the
people ran out out in crowds to greet him with tears, blessings, and
cries of welcome. Women thronged the banks along the roadsides, and held
up their children to see him go by. Flowers--as to the poor quality of
which it was hardly worth Lord Macaulay's while, by the way, to speak so
disparagingly--were offered for his acceptance, or strewn under his
feet. Every mark of devotion which a desperately poor country could show
was shown without stint. Accompanied by the French ambassador, amid a
group of English exiles, and advancing under a waving roof of flags and
festoons, hastily improvised in his honour, the least worthy of the
Stuarts arrived in Dublin, and took up his residence at the castle.

His sojourn there was certainly no royal bed of roses! The dissensions
between his English and his Irish followers were not only deep, but
ineffaceable. By each the situation was regarded solely from the
standpoint of his own country. Was James to remain in Ireland and to be
an Irish king? or was he merely to use Ireland as a stepping-stone to
England? Between two such utterly diverse views no point of union was

In the interests of his own master, D'Avaux, the French envoy, strongly
supported Tyrconnel and the Irish leaders. The game of France was less
to replace James on the English throne than to make of Ireland a
permanent thorn in the side of England. With this view he urged James to
remain in Dublin, where he would necessarily be more under the direct
control of the parliament. James, however declined this advice, and
persisted in going north, where he would be within a few hours' sail of
Great Britain. Once Londonderry had fallen (and it was agreed upon all
hands that Londonderry could not hold out much longer), he could at any
moment cross to Scotland, where it was believed that his friends would
at once rally around him.

But Londonderry showed no symptoms of yielding. In April, 1689, James
appeared before its walls, believing that he had only to do so to
receive its submission. He soon found his mistake. Lundy, its governor,
was ready indeed to surrender it into his hands, but the townsfolk
declined the bargain, and shut their gates resolutely in the king's
face. Lundy escaped for his life over the walls, and James, in disgust,
returned to Dublin, leaving the conduct of the siege in the hands of
Richard Hamilton, who was afterwards superseded in the command by De
Rosen, a Muscovite in the pay of France, who prosecuted it with a
barbarity unknown to the annals of civilized warfare.

The tale of that heroic defence has been so told that it need assuredly
never, while the world lasts, be told again. Suffice it then that
despite the falseness of its governor, the weakness of its walls, the
lack of any military training on the part of its defenders; despite the
treacherous dismissal of the first ships sent to its assistance; despite
the long agony of seeing other ships containing provisions hanging
inertly at the mouth of the bay; despite shot and shell without, and
famine in its most grisly forms within--despite all this the little
garrison held gallantly on to the "last ounce of horse-flesh and the
last pinch of corn." At length, upon the 105th day of the siege, three
ships, under Kirke's command, broke through the boom in the channel, and
brought their freights in safety to the starved and ghastly defenders,
gathered like ghosts, rather than human beings, upon the quay. Three
days later De Rosen broke up his camp, and moved off in disgust, leaving
behind him the little city, exhausted but triumphant, having saved the
honour of its walls, and won itself imperishable fame.

While all this was going on in the north, James, in Dublin, had been
busily employed in deluging the country with base money to supply his
own necessities, with the natural result of ruining all who were forced
to accept it. At the same time the Parliament under his nominal
superintendence had settled down to the congenial task of reversing most
of the earlier Acts, and putting everything upon an entirely new
footing. It was a Parliament composed, as was natural, almost wholly of
Roman Catholics, only six Protestants having been returned. Its first
task was to repeal Poynings Act, the Act, which, it will be remembered,
was passed in Henry VII.'s reign, binding it independence upon the
English Parliament. Its next to establish freedom of worship, giving the
Roman Catholic tithes to the priests. So far no objections could
reasonably be raised. Next, however, followed the question of
forfeitures. The hated Act of Settlement, upon which all property in
Ireland was now based, was set aside, and it was setted that all lands
should revert to their former proprietors. Then followed the punishment
of the political adversaries. "The hugest Bill of attainder," says Mr.
Green, "the world has seen," was hastily drawn up and passed. By its
provisions over 2,240 persons were attained, and everything that they
possessed vested in the king. Many so attained were either women or
young children, indeed a large proportion of the names seem to have been
inserted at haphazard or from some merely momentary feeling of anger or

These Acts were perhaps only what is called natural, but it must be
owned that they were also terribly unfortunate. Up to that date those
directly penal laws against Catholics which afterwards disfigured the
statute book were practically unknown. A Catholic could sit in either
Irish House of Parliament; he could inherit lands, and bequeath them to
whom he would; he could educate his children how and where he liked. The
terror planted in the breast of the Protestant colony by that
inoperative piece of legislation found its voice in the equally violent,
but unfortunately not equally inoperative, passed Acts by them in the
hour of _their_ triumph. Acts, by means of which it was fondly hoped
that their enemies would be thrown into such a position of dependence
and humiliation that they could never again rise up to be a peril.

In the north a brilliant little victory had meanwhile been won by the
Enniskillen troops under Colonel Wolseley, at Newtown Butler, where they
attacked a much larger force of the enemy and defeated them, killing a
large number and driving the rest back in confusion. William was still
detained in England, but had despatched the Duke of Schomberg with a
considerable force. Schomberg's men, were mostly raw recruits, and the
climate tried them severely. He arrived in the autumn, but not venturing
to take the field, established himself at Dundalk, where his men
misbehaved and all but mutinied, and where, a pestilence shortly
afterwards breaking out, swept them away in multitudes.

On both sides, indeed, the disorganization of the armies was great.
Fresh reinforcements had arrived for James, under the Comte de Lauzan,
in return for which an equal number of Irish soldiers under Colonel
Macarthy had been drafted for service to France. In June, 1690, William
himself landed at Carrickfergus with an army of 35,000 men, composed of
nearly every nationality in Europe--Swedes, Dutch, Swiss, Batavians,
French Huguenots, Finns, with about 15,000 English soldiers. He came up
to James's army upon the banks of the Boyne, about twenty miles from
Dublin, and here it was that the turning battle of the campaign
was fought.

This battle James watched at a discreet distance from the hill of
Donore. The Irish foot, upon whom the brunt of the action fell, were
untrained, indifferently armed, and had never before been in action;
their opponents were veterans trained in European wars. They were driven
back, fled, and a considerable number of them slaughtered. The Irish
cavalry stood firm, but their valour was powerless to turn the day.
Schomberg was killed, but William remained absolute and undisputed
master of the field.

At the first shock of reverse James flew down the hill and betook
himself to Dublin. He arrived there foaming and almost convulsed with
rage. "Madam, your countrymen have run away!" was his gracious address
to Lady Tyrconnel. "If they have, sire, your Majesty seems to have won
the race," was that lady's ready retort.

The king's flight was without reason or measure. As before in England,
so now, he seemed to pass in a moment from insane self-confidence to an
equally insane panic. He fled south, ordering the bridges to be broken
down behind him; took boat at Waterford, and never rested until he found
himself once more safe upon French soil.

His flight at least left the field clear for better men. Patrick
Sarsfield now took the principal command, and prosecuted the campaign
with a vigour of which it had hitherto shown no symptoms. Sarsfield is
the one redeeming figure upon the Jacobite side. His gallant presence
sheds a ray of chivalric light upon this otherwise gloomiest and least
attractive of campaigns. He could not turn defeat to victory, but he
could, and did succeed in snatching honour out of that pit into which
the other leaders, and especially his master, had let it drop. Brave,
honourable, upright, "a gentleman of eminent merit," is praise which
even those least inclined to favour his side of the quarrel bestow upon
him without stint.

William, now established in Dublin, issued a proclamation offering full
and free pardon to all who would lay down their arms. He was genuinely
anxious to avoid pushing the struggle to the bitter end, and to hinder
further bloodshed. Though deserted by their king, and fresh from
overwhelming defeat, the Irish troops showed no disposition, however, of
yielding. Athlone, Galway, Cork, Kinsale, and Limerick still held out,
and behind the walls of the last named the remains of James's broken
army was now chiefly collected. Those walls, however, were miserably
weak, and the French generals utterly scouted the possibility of their
being held. Tyrconnel, too, advised a capitulation, but Sarsfield
insisted upon holding the town, and the Irish soldiers--burning to wipe
out the shame of the Boyne--supported him like one man. William was
known, to be moving south to the attack, and accordingly Lauzan and
Tyrconnel, with the rest of the French troops moved hastily away to
Galway, leaving Sarsfield to defend Limerick as he could.

They had hardly left before William's army appeared in sight with the
king himself at their head, and drew up before the walls. A formidable
siege train, sent after him from Dublin, was to follow in a day or two.
Had it arrived it would have finished the siege at once. Sarsfield
accordingly slipped out of the town under cover of night, fell upon it
while it was on its way through the Silvermine Hills in Tipperary,
killed some sixty of the men who were in charge, and filling the cannons
with powder, burst them with an explosion which startled the country
round for miles, and the roar of which is said to have reached William
in his camp before Limerick.

This brilliant little feat delayed the siege. Nevertheless it was
pressed on with great vigour. Two more guns were obtained, several of
the outworks carried, and a breach began to show in the ramparts. It was
now autumn, the rainy season was setting in, and William's presence was
urgently wanted in England. After another violent attempt, therefore, to
take the town, which was resisted with the most desperate valour, the
very women joining in the fight, and remaining under the hottest fire,
the besiegers drew off, and William shortly afterwards sailed for
England, leaving the command in the hands of Ginkel, the ablest of his
Dutch generals.

This first siege of Limerick is in many respects a very remarkable one,
and bears a close analogy to the yet more famous siege of Londonderry.
To give the parallel in Lord Macaulay's words--"The southern city," he
says "was, like the northern city, the last asylum of a Church and of a
nation. Both places were crowded by fugitives from all parts of Ireland.
Both places appeared to men who had made a regular study of the art of
war incapable of resisting an enemy.... In both cases, religious and
patriotic enthusiasm struggled unassisted against great odds; in both
cases, religious and patriotic enthusiasm did what veteran warriors had
pronounced it absurd to attempt."

In Galway, meanwhile, violent quarrels had broken out. The French troops
were sick, naturally enough, of the campaign, and not long afterwards
sailed for France. Their places were taken later on by another body of
French soldiers under General St. Ruth. St. Ruth was a man of cold,
disdainful temperament, but a good officer. He at once set to work at
the task of restoring order and getting the army into a condition to
take the field. Early in the spring Ginkel had collected his army in
Mullingar ready to march to the assault of Athlone, the ancient Norman
fortress, upon the bank of the Shannon, which was here spanned by a
single bridge. Upon Ginkel's advance this bridge was broken down, and
the besieged and besiegers were separated therefore by the breadth of
the river. After an unsuccessful attempt to repair the breach the Dutch
general resolved to ford the latter. As it happened the water was
unusually low, and although St. Ruth with a large force was at the time
only a mile away, he, unaccountably, made no attempt to defend the ford.
A party of Ginkel's men waded or swam across in the dark, caught the
broken end of the bridge, and held it till it was repaired. This done,
the whole English army poured across the river.

The struggle was now narrowing fast. Leaving Athlone Ginkel advanced to
Ballinasloe, so well-known now from its annual sheep fairs. The country
here is all but a dead flat, but the French general took advantage of
some rising ground on the slope of which stood the ruined castle of
Aughrim. Here the Irish were posted by him in force, one of those deep
brown bogs which cover so much of the surface of Galway lying at their
feet and surrounding them upon two sides.

The battle which broke at five o'clock the next morning was a desperate
one. Roused at last from his coldness St. Ruth appealed in the most
moving terms to the officers and men to fight for their religion, their
liberties, their honour. His appeal was gallantly responded to. A low
stone breast-work had been raised upon the hillside in front of the
Irish, and against this Ginkel's veterans again and again advanced to
the attack, and again and again were beaten back, broken and, in one
instance, chased down the hill on to the plain. St. Ruth broke into
vehement enthusiasm. "The day," he cried, waving his hat in the air, "is
ours, gentlemen!" A party of Huguenot cavalry, however, were presently
seen to be advancing across the bog so as to turn the flank of the Irish
army. It seemed to be impossible that they could get through, but the
ground was firmer than at first appeared, and some hurdles thrown down
in front of them formed a sort of rude causeway. St. Ruth flew to the
point of danger. On his way he was struck by a cannon ball which carried
off his head, and the army was thus left without a general. Sarsfield
was at some distance with the reserve. There was no one to give any
orders. The breast-work was carried. The Irish fought doggedly,
retreating slowly from enclosure to enclosure. At last, left to
themselves, with no one to direct or support them, they broke and fled
down the hill. Then followed a hideous butchery. Few or no prisoners
were taken, and the number of the slain is stated to have been "in
proportion to the number engaged greater than in any other battle of
that age." An eye-witness who looked from the hill the next day said
that the country for miles around was whitened with the naked bodies of
the slain. It looked, he remarked with grim vividness, like an immense
pasture covered with flocks of sheep!




Nothing was now left but Limerick. Galway had yielded immediately after
the day of Aughrim, its garrison claiming and obtaining the right of
marching out with all the honours of war. Tyrconnel was dying, and had
long lost, too, what little reputation he had ever had as a soldier.
Sarsfield, however, stood firm to the last. Fresh reinforcements were
hoped for from France, but none came until too late to be of any use.
The town was again invested and besieged. An English fleet held the
mouth of the Shannon so as to prevent any relief from coming to its aid.
From the middle of August to the end of September the siege went on, and
the walls, always weak, were riddled with shot and shell. Still it
showed no symptoms of submission. Ginkel, who was in command of
William's army, dreaded the approach of autumn, and had instructions
from his master to finish the campaign as rapidly as possible, and with
this end in view to offer good and honourable terms to the Irish. An
armistice accordingly was agreed to for three days, and before the three
days ended the famous "Articles of Limerick" were drawn up and signed by
Sarsfield on the one hand, and the Lords Justices, who had just arrived
in camp from Dublin, on the other.

The exact purport of these articles, and the extent to which they were
afterwards mutilated and perverted from their original meaning has been
hotly disputed, and is too large and complicated a question to enter
into here at any length. Suffice it to say, that they engaged that the
Roman Catholics of Ireland should enjoy the same privileges as they had
previously enjoyed in the reign of Charles II.; that they should be free
to follow the same trades and professions as before the war, and that
all who were in arms, having a direct commission from King James, "with
all _such as were under their protection_" should have a free pardon and
be left in undisputed ownership of their lands and other possessions.

It is over the clause placed in italics that controversy has waxed
fiercest. That it was in the first draft is admitted; that it was not in
the document itself is equally certain. Had it been intentionally or
accidentally excluded? is the question. William's own words were that it
had been "casually omitted by the writer." The evidence seems clear, yet
historians, who on other matters would hardly question his accuracy,
seem to think that in this instance he was mistaken. That his own mind
was clear on the point there can be little doubt, seeing that he made
the most honourable efforts to get the clause in question carried into
effect. In this he failed. Public opinion in England ran furiously
against the Irish Catholics, and the Parliament absolutely refused to
ratify it. The essential clause was accordingly struck out, and the
whole treaty soon became an absolute dead letter.

On the other hand, the military one, which was drawn up at the same time
and signed by the two generals, was carried honourably into effect. By
its terms it was agreed that such Irish officers and soldiers as desired
to go to France should be conveyed there, and in the meantime should
remain under the command of their own officers. Ginkel made strenuous
efforts to enlist the Irish troops in his master's service. Few,
however, agreed to accept his offer. A day was fixed for the election to
be made, and the Irish troops were passed in review. All who would take
service with William were directed to file off at a particular spot; all
who passed it were held to have thrown in their lot with France. The
long procession was watched with keen interest by the group of generals
looking on, but the decision was not long delayed. The vast majority
unhesitatingly elected exile, only about a thousand agreeing to take
service with William.

The most piteous part of the story remains. Sarsfield, with the soldiers
under him who had elected to go to France, withdrew into Limerick, and
the next day proceeded to Cork, where they were to embark. The news had,
in the meanwhile, spread, and the roads were covered with women rushing
to see the last of husbands, brothers, sons. Wives, mothers, and
children followed the departing exiles to the water's edge, imploring
with cries of agony not to be left behind. In the extremity of his pity
Sarsfield proclaimed that his soldiers might take their wives and
families with them to France. It was found utterly impossible, however,
to do so, since no transport could be provided for such a multitude.
Room was found for a few families, but the beach was still crowded with
those who had perforce to be left behind. As the boats pushed off the
women clung desperately to them, and several, refusing to let go, were
dragged out of their depth and drowned. A wild cry went up as the ships
began to move. The crowd rushed frantically along the shore from
headland to headland, following them with their eyes as long as they
remained in sight. When the last ship had dropped below the horizon, and
the dull autumn dusk had settled down over sea and shore, they dispersed
slowly to their desolate homes. Night and desolation must indeed have
seemed to have settled down for good upon Ireland.



We are now upon the brink of a century as full of strange fortunes for
Ireland as any that had preceded it, but in which those fortunes were
destined to take a widely different turn. In the two preceding ones
revolts and risings had, as we have seen, been the rule rather than the
exception. In this one from the beginning down to within a couple of
years of its close when a rebellion--which, in most impartial
historians' opinion, might with a little care have been averted--broke
the peace of the century, hardly a symptom of any disposition to appeal
to arms is discoverable. Two great Jacobite risings convulsed England;
the American revolt, so fraught with momentous consequences, was fought
and carried, but Ireland never stirred. The fighting element was gone.
It was in France, in Spain, in the Low Countries--scattered over half
the battlefields of Europe. The country which gave birth to these
fighters was quiet; a graveyard quiet, it may be said, but still
significant, if only by contrast with what had gone before.

One advantage which the student of this century has over others is that
it has been made the subject of a work which enables us to thread our
way through its mazes with what, in comparison to other periods may be
called ease. In his "History of the Eighteenth Century" Mr. Lecky has
done for the Ireland of one century what it is much to be desired some
one would hasten to do for the Ireland of all. He has broken down a
barrier of prejudice so solid and of such long standing that it seemed
to be invulnerable, and has proved that it is actually possible to be
just in two directions at once--a feat no previous historian of Ireland
can be said to have even attempted. This work, the final volume of which
has not yet appeared, so completely covers the whole ground that it
seems to afford an excuse for an even more hasty scamper over the same
area than the exigencies of space have elsewhere made inevitable.

The task to which both the English and the Irish Parliaments now
energetically addressed themselves was--firstly, the undoing of the Acts
passed in the late reign; secondly, the forfeiture of the estates of
those who had taken the losing side in the late campaign; thirdly, the
passing of a series of Acts the aim of which was as far as possible to
stamp out the Roman Catholic religion altogether, and in any case to
deprive it of any shadow or semblance of future political importance.

To describe at length the various Acts which make up what is known as
the Penal code--"a code impossible," as Mr. Lecky observed in an earlier
work, "for any Irish Protestant whose mind is not wholly perverted by
religious bigotry, to look back at without shame and indignation," would
take too long. It will be enough, therefore, if I describe its general
purport, and how it affected the political and social life of that
century upon which we are now entering.

In several respects it not a little resembled what is nowadays known as
"boycotting," only it was boycotting inflicted by the State itself. As
compared with some of the enactments passed against Protestants in
Catholic countries, it was not, it must be said, sanguinary, but its aim
seemed to be to make life itself intolerable; to reduce the whole
Catholic population to the condition of pariahs and outcasts. No Papist
might possess a horse of the value of over £5; no Papist might carry
arms; no Papist might dispose as he chose of his own property; no Papist
might acquire any landed freehold; no Papist might practise in any of
the liberal professions; no Papist might educate his sons at home,
neither might he send them to be educated abroad. Deeper wrong, more
biting and terrible injury even than these, it sowed bitter strife
between father and son, and brother and brother. Any member of a family,
by simply turning Protestant, could dispossess the rest of that family
of the bulk of the estate to his own advantage. Socially, too, a Papist,
no matter what his rank, stood below, and at the mercy of, his
Protestant neighbours. He was treated by the executive as a being
devoid, not merely of all political, but of all social rights, and only
the numerical superiority of the members of the persecuted creed can
have enabled them to carry on existence under such circumstances at all.

For it must be remembered (and this is one of its worst features) that
those placed under this monstrous ban constituted the vast majority of
the whole country. In Burke's memorable words, "This system of penalty
and incapacity has for its object no small sect or obscure party, but a
very numerous body of men, a body which comprehends at least two-thirds
of the whole nation; it amounts to two million eight hundred thousand
souls--a number sufficient for the constituents of a great people[13]."
"The happiness or misery of multitudes," he adds in another place, "can
never be a thing indifferent. A law against the majority of the people
is in substance a law against the people itself; its extent determines
its invalidity; it even changes its character as it enlarges its
operation; it is not particular injustice, but general oppression, and
can no longer be considered as a private hardship which might be borne,
but spreads and grows up into the unfortunate importance of a national

[13] "Tracts on the Popery Laws."

As was natural under the circumstances, many feigned conversions took
place, that being the only way to avoid been utterly cut adrift from
public life. For by a succession of enactments, not only were the higher
offices and the professions debarred to Roman Catholics, but they were
even prohibited--to so absurd a length can panic go--from being
sheriffs, jurymen, constables, or even gamekeepers. "Every barrister,
clerk, attorney, or solicitor," to quote again Burke, "is obliged to
take a solemn oath not to employ persons of that persuasion; no, not as
hackney clerks, at the miserable salary of seven shillings a week." It
was loudly complained of many years later, that men used to qualify for
taking the oaths required upon being admitted as barristers or attorneys
by attending church and receiving a sacramental certificate on their
road to Dublin. Others, to save their property from confiscation,
sacrificed their inclinations, often what they held to be their hopes of
salvation, to the exigencies of the situation, and nominally embraced
Protestantism. Old Lady Thomond, for instance, upon being reproached by
some stricter co-religionist for thus imperilling her soul, asked with
quick scorn whether it was not better that one old woman should burn
than that the Thomonds should lose their own. The head of the house
would thus often present himself or herself at the parish church, while
the other members of the family kept to the old faith, and the chaplain,
under the name of the tutor or secretary, celebrated mass in the
harness-room or the servants' hall.

To the credit of Irish Protestants it may be said that, once the first
violence of fanaticism had died out, there was little attempt to enforce
the legal enactments in all their hideous atrocity. According to the
strict letter of the law, no Roman Catholic bishop, archbishop, or other
dignitary; no monk, nun, or member of any religious fraternity, could
set foot in Ireland; and any one who harboured them was liable at the
third offence to confiscation of all his goods. A list of parish priests
was also drawn up and certified, and their names entered, and when these
had died no others were by law allowed to come, any so doing being
liable to the penalties of high treason. As a matter of fact, however,
they came with very little hindrance, and the succession was steadily
kept up from the Continent. The attempt to stamp out a religion by force
proved to be the most absolute of failures, although, as no rule is
without its exception, it must be added that in England, where exactly
the same penal laws were in force, and where the number of Roman
Catholics was at the beginning of the century considerable, they
dwindled by the end of it almost to the point of extinction. In Ireland
the reverse was the case. The number of Roman Catholics, according to
the most trustworthy statistics, increased rather than diminished under
the Penal code, and there were many more conversions from Protestantism
to Catholicism than there were the other way.

This, no doubt, was in great measure due to the neglect with which the
scattered Protestant communities were treated, especially in the south
and west. The number of Protestant clergymen was extremely small, as
many as six, seven, and even ten livings being frequently held by a
single individual, and of these many were absentees, and their place
filled by a curate. Thus--isolated in a vast Roman Catholic community,
often with no church of their own within reach--the few Protestants
drifted by a natural law to the faith of their neighbours. On the
emphatic and angry testimony of Archbishop Boulter, we know that
conversions from Protestantism to Catholicism were in his time extremely
common amongst the lower orders. By law, too, no marriage between a
Protestant and Catholic was recognizable, yet there were many such, and
the children in most cases seem to have reverted to the elder faith.


The best side of all this for the Catholics showed itself in that
feeling of devotion and fealty to their own faith which persecution
rarely fails to awaken, and for which the Roman Catholics of Ireland,
high and low alike, have always been honourably distinguished. The worst
was that this sense of being under an immoveable ban sapped at all the
roots of manliness and honourable ambition. Amongst the well-to-do
classes the more spirited of the young men went abroad and enlisted
under foreign banners. The rest stayed at home, and fell into an idle,
aimless, often disreputable, fashion of existence. The sense of being of
no account, mere valueless items in the social hive, is no doubt
answerable for a good deal of all this. Swift assures us that in his
time the Catholic manhood of Ireland were of no more importance than its
women and children; of no more importance, he adds in another place,
than so many trees. With a patience pathetic in so essentially impatient
a race, both priests and people seem to have settled down after awhile
into a sort of desperate acceptance of the inevitable. So complete
indeed was their submission that towards the close of the century we
find the English executive, harassed and set at nought by its own
Protestant colonists, turning by a curious nemesis to the members of
this persecuted creed, whose patience and loyalty three quarters of a
century of unexampled endurance seemed to have gone far to prove.



All power, place, and authority had thus once more swung round into the
hands of the Protestant colony--"The Protestant Ascendency," as it came
after a while to be called. They alone had seats in Parliament, they
alone, until near the end of the century, were competent to vote. Taxes
were collected over the whole island, but only Protestants had a voice
in their disposal. All the parliamentary struggles of this century, it
must clearly be understood, were struggles between Protestants and
Protestants, and the different political parties, "patriotic" and
others, were parties formed exclusively amongst the Protestants
themselves. Protestantism was not only the privileged, but it was also
the polite, creed; the creed of the upper classes, as distinguished from
the creed of the potato-diggers and the turf-cutters; a view of the
matter of which distinct traces may even yet be discovered in Ireland.

If Protestants, as compared with their Roman Catholic brethren, were
happy, the Protestant colony was very far from being allowed its own
way, or permitted to govern itself as it thought fit. Although avowedly
kept as her garrison, and to preserve her own power in Ireland, England
had no notion of allowing it equal advantages with herself, or of
running the smallest risk of its ever coming to stand upon any dangerous
footing of equality. The fatal theory that it was the advantage of the
one country that the other should be kept poor, had by this time firmly
taken root in the minds of English statesmen, and to it, and to the
unreasonable jealousy of a certain number of English traders, the
disasters now to be recorded were mainly due.

Cromwell had placed English and Irish commerce upon an equal footing.
Early in Charles II.'s reign an Act had however been passed to hinder
the importation of Irish cattle into England, one which had struck a
disastrous, not to say fatal, blow at Irish agricultural interests. Then
as now cattle was its chief wealth, and such a prohibition meant nothing
short of ruin to the landowners, and through them to all who depended
upon them. So far Irish ports were open, however, to foreign countries,
and when the cattle trade ceased to be profitable, much of the land had
been turned by its owners into sheepwalks. There was a large and an
increasing demand for Irish wool upon the Continent, in addition to
which a considerable number of manufacturers had of late started
factories, and an energetic manufacture of woollen goods was going on,
and rapidly becoming the principal form of Irish industry. The English
traders, struck by this fact, were suddenly smitten with panic. The
Irish competition, they declared, were reducing their gains, and they
cried loudly, therefore, for legislative protection. Their prayer was
granted. In 1699, the last year of the century, an Act was passed
forbidding the export of Irish woollen goods, not to England alone, but
to _all_ other countries.

The effect of this Act was instantaneous and startling. The
manufacturers, who had come over in large numbers, left the country for
the most part within six months, never to return again. A whole
population was suddenly thrown out of employment Emigration set in, but,
in spite of the multitude that left, famine laid hold of many of those
who remained. The resources of the poorest classes are always so low in
Ireland that a much less sweeping blow than this would at any time have
sufficed to bring them over the verge of starvation.

Another important result was that smuggling immediately began on an
enormous scale. Wool was now a drug in the legitimate market, and
woollen goods had practically no market. A vast contraband trade sprang
swiftly up upon the ruins of the legitimate one. Wool, which at home was
worth only 5d. or 6d. a lb., in France fetched half-a-crown. The whole
population, from the highest to the lowest, flung themselves
energetically on the side of the smugglers. The coast-line was long and
intricate; the excise practically powerless. Wool was packed in caves
all along the south and south-west coast, and carried off as opportunity
served by the French vessels which came to seek it. What was meant by
nature and Providence to have been the honest and open trade of the
country was thus forced to be carried on by stealth and converted into a
crime. It alleviated to some degree the distress, but it made Law seem
more than ever a mockery, more than ever the one archenemy against which
every man's hand might legitimately be raised.

Even this, if bad enough, was not the worst. The worst was that this
arbitrary Act--directed, it must be repeated, by England, not against
the Irish natives, but against her own colonists--done, too, without
there being an opportunity for the country to be heard in its own
defence--struck at the very root of all enterprise, and produced a
widespread feeling of hopelessness and despair. Since this was the
acknowledged result of too successful rivalry with England, of what use,
it was openly asked, to attempt any new enterprise, or what was to
hinder the same fate from befalling it in its turn? The whole
relationship of the two islands, even where no division of blood or
creed existed, grew thus to be strained and embittered to the last
degree; the sense of hostility and indignation being hardly less strong
in the latest arrived colonist than in the longest established. "There
was scarce an Englishman," says a writer of the time, "who had been
seven years in the country, _and meant to remain there_, who did not
become averse to England, and grow into something of an Irishman." All
this must be taken into account before those puzzling contradictions and
anomalies which make up the history of this century can ever be
properly realized.



The early half of the eighteenth century is such a very dreary period of
Irish history that there is little temptation to linger over it. Two
men, however, stand out conspicuously against this melancholy
background, neither of whom must be passed over without a few words.

The first of these was William Molyneux, the "Ingenious Molyneux," as he
was called by his contemporaries, a distinguished philosopher, whose
life was almost exclusively devoted to scientific pursuits. Molyneux is,
or ought to be, a very interesting figure to any one who cares, even
slightly, about Ireland. He was one of the chief founders of the
Philosophical Association in Dublin, which was the parent both of the
present Dublin Society and of the Royal Irish Academy. He was also a
Fellow of the Royal Society, and a friend of John Locke, with whom he
constantly corresponded. Both his letters, and those of his brother, Dr.
Thomas Molyneux, show the most vivid and constant interest in everything
connected with the natural history of Ireland. Now it is a moving bog,
which has scared the natives in its neighbourhood out of their senses;
now, again, some great find of Irish elks, or some tooth of a mammoth
which has been unearthed, and it is gravely discussed how such a
"large-bodied beast" could have been transported over seas, especially
to a country where the "Greeks and Romans never had a footing," and
where therefore the learned Mr. Camden's theory, that the elephants'
bones found in England were the remains of those "brought over by the
Emperor Claudius," necessarily falls to the ground. Both the brothers
Molyneux belong to a band of Irish naturalists whose numbers are,
unfortunately, remarkably limited. Why it should be so is not easily
explained, but so it is. When Irish archaeology is mentioned, the names
of Petrie, of Wilde, of Todd, of Graves, and, last but not least, of
Miss Margaret Stokes spring to the mind. Irish geologists, with Sir
Richard Griffiths at their head, show as good a record as those of any
other country, but the number of Irish naturalists whose fame has
reached beyond a very narrow area is small indeed. This is the less
accountable as, though scanty as regards the number of its species, the
natural history of Ireland is full of interest, abounding in problems
not even yet fully solved: the very scantiness of its fauna being in one
sense, an incentive and stimulus to its study, for the same reason that
a language which is on the point of dying out is often of more interest
to a philologist than one that is in full life and vigour.

This, however, is a digression, and as such must be forgiven. Returning
to the arena of politics, Molyneux's chief claim to remembrance rests
upon a work published by him in favour of the rights of the Irish
Parliament in the last year but one of the seventeenth century, only
seven years therefore after the treaty of Limerick.

As one of the members of the Dublin University he had every opportunity
of judging how the grasp which the English Parliament maintained by
means of the obsolete machinery of Poynings' Act was steadily throttling
and benumbing all Irish enterprise. In 1698 his famous remonstrance,
known as "The Case of Ireland being bound by Act of Parliament made in
England," appeared, with a dedication to King William. It at once
created an immense sensation, was fiercely condemned as seditious and
libellous by the English Parliament, by whom, as a mark of its utter
abhorrence, it was condemned to be burned by the common hangman.

Few things will give a clearer idea of the extraordinarily exasperated
state of politics at the time than to read the remonstrance which
produced so tremendous a storm. Take, for example, the words with which
the earlier portion of it closes, and which are worth studying, if only
for the impressive dignity of their style, which not a little
foreshadows Burke's majestic prose:--

"To conclude, I think it highly inconvenient for England to assume this
authority over the kingdom of Ireland, I believe there will need no
great arguments to convince the wise assembly of English senators how
inconvenient it may be to England to do that which may make the lords
and the people of Ireland think that they are not well used, and may
drive them to discontent. The laws and liberties of England were granted
above five hundred years ago to the people of Ireland, upon their
submission to the Crown of England, with a design to keep them in the
allegiance of the king of England. How consistent it may be with true
policy to do that which the people of Ireland may think an invasion of
their rights and liberties, I do most humbly submit to the Parliament of
England to consider. They are men of great wisdom, honour, and justice,
and know how to prevent all future inconveniences. We have heard great
outcries, and deservedly, on breaking the edict of Nantes, and other
stipulations. How far the breaking our constitution, which has been of
five hundred years standing exceeded these, I leave the world to judge."

In another place Molyneux vindicates the dignity of a Parliament in
words of singular force and moderation:--

"The rights of Parliament should be preserved sacred and inviolable
wherever they are found. This kind of government, once so universal all
over Europe, is now almost vanished amongst the nations thereof. Our
king's dominions are the only supporters of this most noble Gothic
constitution, save only what little remains may be found thereof in
Poland. We should not therefore make so light of that sort of
legislature, and, as it were, abolish it in one kingdom of the three
wherein it appears, but rather cherish and encourage it wherever we
meet it[14]."

[14] "The Case of Ireland being bound by Acts of Parliament made in
England." By William Molyneux, Esq., Dublin.

For a remonstrance so dignified, couched in language so respectful,
burning by the common hangman seems a hard lot. The disgrace, if such it
was, does not appear to have very deeply penetrated its author, who
pursued the even tenour of his way, and the same year paid a visit to
his friend John Locke, on the return journey from which visit he
unfortunately caught a chill, from the effects of which he died the
following October. After his death the momentary stir which his
eloquence had created died out, as the circles left by the falling of a
stone die out upon some stagnant pool, until nearly a quarter of a
century later a much more violent splash again aroused attention, and a
far less pacific exponent of Irish abuses than Molyneux sprang fiercely
into the turmoil.

Jonathan Swift had been eleven years Dean of St. Patrick's before he
produced those famous letters which have left their mark so indelibly
upon the course of Irish politics. Swift's part in this Stygian pool of
the eighteenth century is rather a difficult one to explain. He was not
in any sense an Irish champion, indeed, objected to being called an
Irishman at all, and regarded his life in Ireland as one of all but
unendurable banishment. He was a vehement High Churchman, and looked
upon the existing penal proscription under which the Catholics lay as
not merely desirable, but indispensable. At the same time it would be
quite untrue to suppose, as is sometimes done, that he merely made a
cat's-paw of Irish politics in order to bring himself back into public
notice. He was a man of intense and even passionate sense of justice,
and the state of affairs in the Ireland of his day, the tyranny and
political dishonesty which stalked in high places, the degradation and
steadily-increasing misery in which the mass of the people were sunk,
were enough to lash far less scathing powers of sarcasm than he
possessed to their highest possible pitch of expression.

[Illustration: DEAN SWIFT. (_From an engraving by Fourdinier after

The cause that drew forth the famous Drapier letters--why Swift chose to
spell the word _draper_ with an _i_ no one has ever explained--appears
at first sight hardly worthy of the occasion. Ireland wanted a copper
coinage, and Walpole, who was then the Prime Minister, had given a
patent for the purpose to a person called Wood, part of the profits of
which patent were to go to the Duchess of Kendal, the king's mistress.
There seems no reason to think that the pennies produced by Wood were in
any way inferior to the existing English ones, and Sir Isaac Newton--who
was at the time Master of the Mint--declared that, if anything, they
were rather better. The real wrong, the real insult, was that the patent
was granted by the Minister without reference to the Lord-Lieutenant, to
the Irish Parliament, or to any single human being in Ireland. It was a
proof the more of that total indifference with which the interests of
Ireland were regarded, and it was upon this score that Swift's wrath
exploded like a bomb.

The line he chose to take was to attack the patent, not as a monstrous
job--which undoubtedly it was--but from the point of view of the value
of the pennies. Assuming the character of a tradesman, he adjured all
classes of the community, down to the very beggars, not to be induced to
accept them. Assured them that for the benefit of Mr. Wood, "a mean man,
a hardware dealer," every human being in Ireland was about to be
deliberately robbed and ruined. His logic sounded unanswerable to the
ignorant. His diatribes produced the most extraordinary effect. A
terrific panic set in, and so overwhelming was the sensation that the
Ministers in the end found it necessary to cancel the patent, and
suspend the issue of Wood's halfpence. For the first time in Irish
history public opinion, unsupported by arms, had carried its point: an
epoch of vast importance in the history of every country.

That Swift knew perfectly well that the actual value of the copper
coinage was not a matter of profound importance may be taken for
granted, and so far his conduct is certainly not justifiable on any very
strict rule of ethics. If the pennies were of small importance, however,
there were other things that were of more. Little of a patriot as he
was, little as he was supposed, or supposed himself, to care for Ireland
or Irishmen, his wrath burnt fiercely at what he saw around him. He saw,
too, his own wrongs, as others have done before and since, "writ large"
in the wrongs of the country, and resented them as such. With his keen,
practical knowledge of men, he knew, moreover, how thick was that
medium, born of prejudice and ignorance, through which he had to
pierce--a medium through which nothing less pointed than the forked
lightnings of his own terrible wit could have found its way. Whatever
his motives were, his success at least is indisputable. High Churchman
as he was, vehement anti-papist as he was, he became from that moment,
and remained to the hour of his death, beyond all question the most
popular man in Ireland and his name was ever afterwards upon the lips of
all who aspired to promote the best interests and prosperity of
their country.



The forty years which follow maybe passed rapidly over. They were years
of absolute tranquillity in Ireland, but beyond that rather negative
praise little of good can be reported of them. Public opinion was to all
practical purposes dead, and the functions of Parliament were little
more than nominal. Unlike the English one, the Irish Parliament had by
the nature of its constitution, no natural termination, save by a
dissolution, or by the death of the sovereign. Thus George the Second's
Irish Parliament sat for no less than thirty-three years, from the
beginning to the end of his reign. The sessions, too, had gradually come
to be, not annual as in England, but biennial, the Lord-Lieutenant
spending as a rule only six months in every two years in Ireland. In his
absence all power was vested in the hands of the Lords Justices, of whom
the most conspicuous during this period were the three successive
archbishops of Armagh, namely, Swift's opponent Boulter, Hoadly, and
Stone, all three Englishmen, and devoted to what was known as the
"English interest," who governed the country by the aid of a certain
number of great

     Delightful talk! to rear the tender thought,
     To teach the young idea how to shoot.
     To pour the fresh instruction o'er the mind,
     To breathe th' enlivening spirit and to fix
     The generous purpose in the glowing breast.



Irish borough-owners, or Undertakers, who "undertook" to carry on the
king's business in consideration of receiving the lion's share of the
patronage, which they distributed amongst their own adherents. Of these
borough-owners Lord Shannon was the happy possessor of no less than
sixteen seats, while others had eight, ten, twelve, or more, which were
regularly and openly let out to hire to the Government. Efforts were
from time to time made by the more independent members to curtail these
abuses, and to recover some degree of independence for the Parliament,
but for a long time their efforts were without avail, and owing to the
nature of its constitution, it was all but impossible to bring public
opinion to bear upon its proceedings, so that the only vestige of
independence shown was when a collision occurred between the selfish
interests of those in whose hands all power was thus concentrated.

[Illustration: PHILIP Earl of CHESTERFIELD.]

About 1743 some stir began to be aroused by a succession of statements
published by Charles Lucas, a Dublin apothecary, in the _Freeman's
Journal_, a newspaper started by him, and in which he vehemently
denounced the venality of Parliament, and loudly asserted the inherent
right of Ireland to govern itself, a right of which it had only been
formally deprived by the Declaratory Act of George I[15]. So unequivocal
was his language that the grand jury of Dublin at last gave orders for
his addresses to be burnt, and in 1749 a warrant was issued for his
apprehension, whereupon he fled to England, and did not return until
many years later, when he was at once elected member for Dublin. His
speeches in the House of Commons seem never to have produced an effect
at all comparable with that of his writings, but he gave a constant and
important support to the patriotic party, which had now formed itself
into a small but influential opposition under the leadership of
Henry Flood.

[15] English Statutes, 6 Geo. c. 5.

Flood and Grattan are by far the two greatest of those orators and
statesmen whose eloquence lit up the debates of the Irish House of
Commons during its brief period of brilliancy, and as such will require,
even in so hasty a sketch as this, to be dwelt upon at some length.
Since a good deal of the same ground will have to be gone over in
succeeding chapters, it seems best to explain here those points which
affected them personally, and to show as far as possible in what
relationship they stood one to the other.

Henry Flood was born near Kilkenny in 1732, and was the son of the Chief
Justice of the King's Bench. At sixteen he went to Trinity College,
Dublin, and afterwards to Oxford. In 1759 he entered the Irish
Parliament as member for Kilkenny, and at once threw himself vehemently
upon the popular side, his first speech being an attack upon the Primate
Stone. As an orator his style appears to have been laboured, and his
speeches brim over in all directions with forced illustrations and
metaphors, but his powers of argument and debate were remarkably strong.
For about ten years he waged a continual struggle against the
Government, urging especially a limitation to the duration of Parliament
and losing no opportunity of asserting its claims to independence, or of
attacking the pension list, which under the system then prevailing grew
steadily from year to year. Upon reform he also early fixed his
attention, although, unlike Grattan, he was from the beginning to the
end of his life steadily hostile to all proposals for giving the
franchise to the Catholics.

[Illustration: RIGHT HON. HENRY FLOOD. (_After a drawing by

During the viceroyalty of Lord Townshend, who became Lord-Lieutenant in
1767, an Octennial Bill was passed limiting the duration of Parliament
to eight years, but this momentary gleam of better things was not
sustained; on the contrary, corruption was, under his rule, carried even
further than it had been before. Under the plea of breaking the power of
the borough-owners, he set himself deliberately to make the whole
Parliament subservient to Government, thus practically depriving it of
what little vestige of independence it still possessed. A succession of
struggles took place, chiefly over Money Bills, the more independent
members, under Flood's leadership, claiming for the Irish House of
Commons the complete control of the national purse, a claim as uniformly
resisted by the Government. Though almost invariably defeated on a
division in the end the opposition were to a great degree successful,
and in 1773 the hated viceroy was recalled.

This was the moment at which Flood stood higher in his countrymen's
estimation than was ever again the case. He was identified with all that
was best in their aspirations, and no shadow of self-seeking had as yet
dimmed the brightness of his fame. It was very different with his next
step. Lord Townshend was succeeded by Lord Harcourt, whose
administration at first promised to be a shade more liberal and less
corrupt than that of his predecessors. Of this administration Flood, to
his own misfortune, became a member. What his motives were it is rather
difficult to say. He was a rich man, and therefore had no temptation to
sell or stifle his opinions for place. Whatever they were, it is clear,
from letters still extant, that he not only accepted but solicited
office. He was made Vice-Treasurer, a post hitherto reserved for
Englishmen, at a salary of £3,500 a year.

Although, as Mr. Lecky has pointed out, no actual stain of dishonour
attaches to Flood in consequence of this step, there can be no doubt
that it was a grave error, and that he lived to repent it bitterly. For
the next seven years not only was he forced to keep silence as regards
all those points he had previously advocated so warmly, but, as a member
of the Government, he actually helped to uphold some of the most
damaging of the restraints laid upon Irish trade and prosperity. Upon
the outbreak of the America war a two years' embargo was laid upon
Ireland, and a force of 4,000 men raised and despatched to America at
its expense. The state of defencelessness in which this left the country
led, as will be seen in a succeeding chapter, to a great volunteer
movement, in which all classes and creeds joined enthusiastically. Flood
was unable to resist the contagion. His voice was once again heard upon
the liberal side. He flung away the trammels of office, surrendered his
large salary, and returned to his old friends. He never, however,
regained his old place. A greater man had in the meanwhile risen to the
front, and in Henry Grattan Irish aspiration had found its clearest and
strongest voice.

This was a source of profound mortification to Flood, and led eventually
to a bitter quarrel between these two men--patriots in the best sense
both of them. Flood tried to outbid Grattan by pushing the concessions
won from England in the moment of her difficulty yet further, and by
making use of the volunteers as a lever to enforce his demands. This
Grattan honourably, whether wisely or not, resisted, and the Parliament
supported his resistance. After an unsuccessful attempt to carry a
Reform Bill, Flood retired, to a great degree, from Irish public life,
and not long afterwards succeeded in getting a seat in the English
Parliament. His oratory there proved a failure. He was "an oak of the
forest too great and old," as Grattan said, "to be transplanted at
fifty." This failure was a fresh and a yet more mortifying
disappointment, and his end was a gloomy and somewhat obscure one, but
he will always be remembered with gratitude as one of the first who in
the Irish Parliament lifted his voice against those restrictions under
which the prosperity of the country lay shackled and all but dead.



"Great men," wrote Sydney Smith, sixty years ago in an article in _The
Edinburgh Review_, "hallow a whole people, and lift up all who live in
their time. What Irishman does not feel proud that he lived in the days
of Grattan? Who has not turned to him for comfort from the false friends
and open enemies of Ireland? Who did not remember him in the days of its
burnings, wastings, and murders?"

Grattan is, indeed, pre-eminently the Irish politician to whom other
Irish politicians--however diverse their views or convictions--turn
unanimously with the common sense of admiration and homage. Two
characteristics--usually supposed in Ireland to be inherently
antagonistic--met harmoniously in him. He was consistently loyal and he
was consistently patriotic. From the beginning to the end of his career
his patriotism never hindered him either from risking his popularity
whenever he considered duty or the necessities of the case required him
to do so; a resolution which more than once brought him into sharp
collision with his countrymen, on one occasion even at some little risk
to himself.

[Illustration: RIGHT HON. HENRY GRATTAN, M.P. _(From an engraving by
Godby after Pope_.)]

In 1775 he entered Parliament--sixteen years, therefore, later than
Flood--being brought in by his friend Lord Charlemont. The struggle with
America was then beginning, and all Grattan's sympathies went with those
colonists who were battling for their own independence. His eloquence
from the moment it was first heard produced an extraordinary effect, and
when the volunteer movement broke out he threw himself heartily into it,
and availed himself of it to press in the Irish Parliament for those
measures of free trade and self-government upon which his heart was set
When the first of these measures was carried, he brought forward the
famous Declaration of Rights, embodying the demand for independence, a
demand which, in the first instance, he had to defend almost
single-handed. Many of his best friends hung back, believing the time to
be not yet ripe for such a proposal. Even Edmund Burke--the life-long
and passionate friend of Ireland--cried out in alarm "Will no one speak
to that madman? Will no one stop that madman Grattan?" The madman,
however, went on undismayed. His words flew like wild-fire over the
country. He was supported in his motion by eighteen counties, by
addresses from the grand juries, and by resolutions from the volunteers.
By 1782, the impulse had grown so strong that it could no longer be
resisted. An address in favour of Grattan's Declaration of Rights was
carried enthusiastically in April by the Irish Parliament, and so
impressed was the Government by the determined attitude of the country
that, by the 27th of May the Viceroy was empowered to announce the
concurrence of the English legislature. The Declaratory Act of George I.
was then repealed by the English Parliament. Bills were immediately
afterwards passed by the Irish one embodying the Declaration of Rights,
also a biennial Mutiny Act, and an Act validating the marriage of
Dissenters, while, above all, Poynings' Act, which had so long fettered
its free action, was once for all repealed.

This was the happiest moment of Grattan's life. The country, with a
burst of spontaneous gratitude, voted him a grant of £100,000. This sum
he declined, but in the end was persuaded, with some reluctance, to take
half. A period of brief, but while it lasted unquestionable prosperity
spread over the country. In Dublin, public buildings sprang up in all
directions; a bright little society flourished and enjoyed itself; trade
too prospered to a degree never hitherto known. Between England and
Ireland, however, the commercial restrictions were still in force. The
condition of the Irish Catholics, though latterly to some degree
alleviated, was still one of all but unendurable oppression. Reform,
too, was as far off as ever, and corruption had increased rather than
diminished, owing to the greatly increased importance of the Parliament.
In 1789 an unfortunate quarrel sprang up between the two legislatures
over the appointment of a Regent, rendered necessary by the temporary
insanity of George III., and this difference was afterwards used as an
argument in favour of a legislative Union. In 1793 a measure of
half-emancipation was granted, Roman Catholics being admitted to vote,
though not to sit in Parliament, an anomalous distinction giving power
to the ignorant, yet still keeping the fittest men out of public life.
Upon the arrival of Lord Fitzwilliam as Viceroy in 1795, it was
fervently believed that full emancipation was at last about to be
granted, and Grattan brought in a Bill to that effect. These hopes, as
will presently be seen, were destined to be bitterly disappointed. Lord
Fitzwilliam was recalled, and from that moment Grattan was doomed to
stand helplessly by and watch the destruction of that edifice which he
had spent his whole life to erect and strengthen. The country grew more
and more restless, and it was plain to all who could read the signs of
the times that, unless discontent was in some way allayed, a rebellion
was sure to break out. In 1798 this long foreseen calamity occurred, but
before it did so, Grattan had retired heart-broken and despairing into
private life.

He re-emerged to plead, vehemently but fruitlessly, against the Union
which was passed the following spring. As will be seen, when we reach
that period the fashion in which that act was carried made it difficult
for an honourable man, however loyal--and no man, it must be repeated,
was more steadily loyal than Henry Grattan--to give it his support. He
believed too firmly that Ireland could work out its own destiny best by
the aid of a separate Parliament, and to this opinion he throughout his
life clung. In his own words, "The two countries from their size must
stand together--united _quoad_ nature--distinct _quoad_ legislation."

In 1805 he became a member of the English Parliament, where unlike
Flood, his eloquence had almost as much effect as in Ireland, and where
he was regarded by all parties with the deepest respect and regard. His
heart, however, remained firmly anchored to its old home, and all his
recollections in his old age centred around these earlier struggles. He
died in 1820, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. One more quotation
from Sydney Smith sums up the man for us in a few words: "The highest
attainments of human genius were within his reach, but he thought the
noblest occupation of a man was to make other men happy and free, and in
that straight line he kept for fifty years, without one side-look, one
yielding thought, one motive in his heart which might not have laid open
to the view of God or man." A generation which produced two such men as
Henry Grattan and Edmund Burke might well be looked back to by any
country in the world as the flower and crown of its national life. There
have not been many greater or better in the whole chequered history of
the human race.



The revolt of the English Colonies in America, although it evoked no
disloyalty, had a strong and unforeseen influence upon the equally
English colony in Ireland. It would have been strange had it not done
so. The circumstances of the two colonies--looking at Ireland merely in
that light--were in many respects all but identical. If England could
tax America without the consent of its representatives, then, equally it
could tax Ireland, in which case the long struggles lately waged by
Flood, Grattan, and others in the Irish Parliament over Money Bills
would be definitely decided against it. Compared to Ireland, America
indeed had little to complain of. The restrictions which held back Irish
commerce still existed in almost all their pristine force. The woollen
trade, save for some very trifling home consumption, was practically
dead; even the linen trade, which had been promised encouragement, had
hitherto hardly received any. Bounties had been offered, on the
contrary, to English woollen manufacturers, and duties levied on Irish
sail-cloth, which had effectually put a stop to that important branch of
the trade. Another cause had also affected commerce seriously. The
manufacturers of the north, were almost to a man Presbyterian, and the
laws against Presbyterians had been pressed with almost as much severity
as against Catholics. Under the rule of Archbishops Boulter, Hoadly, and
Stone, who had in succession governed the country, the Test Act had been
employed with a suicidal severity, which had driven thousands of
industrious men to join their brethren in America, where they could
worship in peace, and where their presence was before long destined to
produce a formidable effect upon the impending struggle.

The whole condition of the country was miserable in the extreme.
Agriculture was at the lowest possible ebb. The Irish farmers, excluded
from the English and all foreign markets, were reduced to destitution.
Land was offered at fourteen and twelve years' purchase, and even at
those prices found no buyers. Many of the principal landowners were
absentees, and though the rents themselves do not seem as a rule to have
been high, the middlemen, by whom the land was commonly taken, ground
the wretched peasants under them to powder with their exactions. While
everything else was thus steadily shrinking, the pension list was
swelling until it stood not far short of £100,000. The additional troops
recently raised in Ireland had been sent to America, and their absence
had left the country all but defenceless. In 1779, an attempt was made
to carry out a levy of militia, in which Prostestants only were to be
enrolled, and an Act passed for the purpose. It failed utterly, for so
miserably bankrupt was the condition of the Irish Government, that it
was found impossible to collect money to pay the men, and the scheme in
consequence had to be given up.

It proved, however, to be the parent of a really successful one. In the
same year a volunteer movement sprang into sudden existence. Belfast had
been left empty of troops, and was hourly in fear of a French descent,
added to which it was harassed by the dread of a famous pirate of the
period, called Paul Jones. Under these circumstances its citizens
resolved to enrol themselves for their own defence. The idea, once
started, flew through the country like wild-fire. The old fighting
spirit sprang to sudden life at the cry to arms. After three-quarters of
a century of torpor all was stir and animation. In every direction the
gentry were enrolling their tenants, the sons of the great houses
officering the corps and drilling their own retainers. Merchants, peers,
members of Parliament all vied with one another, and in a few months'
time nearly 60,000 men had been enrolled.

Although a good deal alarmed at the rapidity of this movement, the
Government could not very well refuse to let the country arm in its own
defence, and 16,000 stand of arms, which had been brought over for the
projected militia, were after a while distributed. The greatest pride
was felt in the completeness and perfection of the equipments. Reviews
were held, and, for once, national sentiment and loyalty seemed to have
struck hands.

IRISH VOLUNTEERS. (_From an etching after a picture by Hogarth_.)]

Hardly, too, were the volunteers enrolled before it began to be felt
what a power was thus conferred upon that party which had so long
pleaded in vain for the relief of Ireland from those commercial
disabilities under which it still laboured. Although the whole tone of
the volunteers was loyal, and although their principal leader, Lord
Charlemont, was a man of the utmost tact and moderation, it was none the
less clear that an appeal backed by 60,000 men in arms acquired a weight
and momentum which no previous Irish appeal had ever even approached.

In October of the same year Parliament met, and an amendment to the
address was moved by Grattan, demanding a right of free export and
import. Then Flood rose in his place, still holding office, and proposed
that the more comprehensive words Free Trade should be adopted. It was
at once agreed to and carried unanimously. Next day the whole House of
Commons went in a body to present the address to the Lord-Lieutenant,
the volunteers lining the streets and presenting arms as they went by.

The Government were startled. Lord Buckinghamshire, the Lord-Lieutenant,
wrote to England to say that the trade restrictions must be repealed, or
he would not answer for the consequences. Lord North, the Prime
Minister, yielded, and a Bill of repeal were brought in, allowing
Ireland free export and import to foreign countries and to the English
Colonies. When the news reached Dublin, the utmost delight and
excitement prevailed. Bonfires were lit, houses in Dublin illuminated,
the volunteers fired salvoes of rejoicing, and addresses of gratitude
were forthwith forwarded to England.

The next step in the upward progress has been already partially
described in the chapter dealing with Grattan. At the meeting of
Parliament in 1782, the Declaration of Rights proposed by him was
passed, and urgently pressed upon the consideration of the Government.
The moment was exceptionally favourable. Lord North's Ministry had by
this time fallen, after probably the most disastrous tenure of office
that had ever befallen any English administration. America had achieved
her independence, and England was in no mood for embarking upon fresh
struggle with another of her dependencies. In Ireland the Ulster
volunteers had lately met at Dungannon, and passed unanimous resolutions
in favour of Grattan's proposal, and their example had been speedily
followed all over Ireland. The Whig Ministry, now in power, was known to
be not unfavourable to the cause which the Irish patriots had at heart.
A Bill was brought forward and carried, revoking the recent Declaratory
Acts which bound the Irish Parliament, and giving it the right to
legislate for itself. Poynings' Act was thereupon repealed, and a number
of independent Acts, as already stated, passed by the now emancipated
Irish Parliament. The legislative independence was an accomplished fact.

The objects of the volunteers' existence was now over. The American war
was at an end, the independence of the Parliament assured, and it was
felt therefore, by all moderate men, that it was now time for them to
disband. Flood, who had now again joined the patriotic party, was
strongly opposed to this. He pressed forward his motion for "simple
repeal," and was supported by Lord Bristol, the Bishop of Derry, a
scatter-brained prelate, who had been bitten by a passion for military
glory, and would have been perfectly willing to see the whole country
plunged into bloodshed. A better and more reasonable plea on Flood's
part was that reform was the crying necessity of the hour, and ought to
be carried while the volunteers were still enrolled, and the effect
already produced by their presence was still undiminished. Grattan also
desired reform, but held that the time for carrying it was not yet ripe.
A vehement debate ensued, and bitter recriminations were exchanged. A
convention of volunteers was at the moment being held in Dublin, and
Flood endeavoured to make use of their presence there to get his Reform
Bill passed. This the House regarded as a menace, and after a violent
debate his Bill was thrown out. There was a moment during which it
seemed as if the volunteers were about to try the question by force of
arms. More prudent counsels, however, prevailed, and, greatly to their
credit, they consented a week later to lay down their arms, and retire
peaceably to their own homes.



The significant warnings uttered by Flood and others against the danger
of postponing reform until the excitement temporarily awakened upon the
subject had subsided and the volunteers disbanded, proved,
unfortunately, to be only too well justified. Where Flood, however, had
erred, had been in failing to see that a reform which left three-fourths
of the people of the country unrepresented, could never be more than a
reform in name. This error Grattan never made. During the next ten or
twelve years, his efforts were steadily and continually directed to
obtaining equal political power for all his fellow-countrymen alike.
Reform was indeed the necessity of the hour. The corruption of
Parliament was increasing rather than diminishing. From 130 to 140 of
its members were tied by indissoluble knots to the Government, and could
only vote as by it directed. Most of these were the nominees of the
borough-owners; many held places or enjoyed pensions terminable at the
pleasure of the king, and at the smallest sign of insubordination or
independence instant pressure was brought to bear upon them until they
returned to their obedience.

Although free now to import and export from the rest of the world no
change with regard to Ireland's commercial intercourse with Great
Britain had as yet taken place. In 1785, a number of propositions were
drawn up by the Dublin Parliament, to enable the importation of goods
through Great Britain into Ireland, or _vice versa_, without any
increase of duty. These propositions were agreed to by Pitt, then Prime
Minister, and were brought forward by him in the English House of
Commons. Again, however, commercial jealousy stepped in. A number of
English towns remonstrated vehemently; one petition despatched to the
House alone bearing the signature of 80,000 Lancashire manufacturers.
"Greater panic," it was said at the time, "could not have been expressed
had an invasion been in question." The result was, that a number of
modifications were made to the propositions, and when returned to
Ireland, so profoundly had they been altered, that the patriotic party
refused to accept them, and although when the division came on, the
Government obtained a majority it was so small that the Bill was allowed
to drop, and thus the whole scheme came to nothing.

Outside Parliament, meanwhile, the country was in a very disturbed
state. Long before this local riots and disturbances had broken out,
especially in the south. As early as 1762, secret societies, known under
the generic name of Whiteboys, had inspired terror throughout Munster,
especially in the counties of Cork, Limerick, and Tipperary. These
risings, as has been clearly proved by Mr. Lecky, had little, if any,
connection with either politics or religion. Their cause lay, as he
shows, on the very surface, in the all but unendurable misery in which
the great mass of the people were sunk.

[Illustration: RIGHT HON. EDMUND BURKE. (_From an engraving by Jones
after Romney_.)]

Lord Chesterfield, one of the few Lord-Lieutenants who had really
attempted to understand Ireland, had years before spoken in
unmistakeable language on this point. Subletting was almost universal,
three or four persons standing often between the landowner and the
actual occupier, the result being that the condition of the latter was
one of chronic semi-starvation. So little was disloyalty at the root of
the matter, that in a contemporary letter, written by Robert Fitzgerald,
the Knight of Kerry, it is confidently asserted that, were a recruiting
officer to be sent to the district, the people would gladly flock to the
standard of the king, although, he significantly adds, "it seems to me
equally certain that if the enemy effects a landing within a hundred
miles of these people, they will most assuredly join them[16]."

The tithe system was another all but unendurable burden, and it was
against the tithe proctors that the worst of the Whiteboy outrages were
committed. That these outrages had little directly to say to religion
is, however, clear, from the fact that the tithe system was nearly as
much detested by the Protestant landowners as by their tenants. In the
north risings of a somewhat similar character had broken out chiefly
amongst Protestants of the lower classes, who gathered themselves into
bands under the name of "Oak boys" and "Steel boys." The grievances of
which they complained being, however, for the most part after a while
repealed, they gradually dispersed, and were heard of no more. In the
south it was otherwise, and the result has been that Whiteboy
conspiracies continued, under different names, to be a terror to the
country, and have so continued down to our own day.

[16] "History of England in the Eighteenth Century," vol. iv. p. 340.

As long as the volunteers remained embodied there was an all but
complete cessation of these local disturbances, but upon their
disbandment they broke out with renewed force. Many too of the
volunteers themselves, who, although disbanded, retained their arms,
began to fall under new influences, and to lose their earlier
reputation. "What had originally," in Grattan's words, "been the armed
property of Ireland, was becoming its armed beggary." A violent
sectarian spirit, too, was beginning to show itself afresh, although as
yet chiefly amongst the lowest and most ignorant classes. A furious
faction war had broken out in the North of Ireland, between Protestants
and Roman Catholics. The former had made an association known as the
"Peep-of-day boys," to which the latter had responded by one called the
"Defenders." In 1795 a regular battle was fought between the two, and
the "Defenders" were defeated with the loss of many lives. The same year
saw the institution of Orange Lodges spring into existence, and spread
rapidly over the north. Amongst the more educated classes a strongly
revolutionary feeling was beginning to spread, especially in Belfast.
The passionate sympathy of the Presbyterians for America had awakened a
vehemently republican spirit, and the rising tide of revolution in
France, found a loudly reverberating echo in Ireland, especially amongst
the younger men. In 1791 in Belfast, the well-known "Society of United
Irishmen" came into existence and its leaders were eager to combine this
democratic movement in the north with the recently reconstructed Roman
Catholic committee in Dublin. All these, it is plain, were elements of
danger which required careful watching. The one hope, the one necessity,
as all who were not blinded by passion or prejudice saw plainly, lay in
a reformed Parliament--one which would represent, no longer a section,
but the whole community. To combine to procure this, and to sink all
religious differences in the common weal, was the earnest desire of all
who genuinely cared for their country, whether within or without the
Parliament. Of this programme, the members even of the United Irishmen
were, in the first instance, ardent exponents, and their demands,
ostensibly at least, extended no further. In the words of the oath
administered to new members, they desired to forward "an identity of
interests, a communion of rights, and a union amongst Irishmen of all
religious persuasions, without which every reform in Parliament must be
partial, not national, inadequate to the wants, delusive to the wishes,
and insufficient for the freedom and happiness of the country."



The eagerness shown at this time by the principal Irish Protestants to
give full emancipation to their Roman Catholic countrymen is eminently
creditable to them, and stands in strong relief to the bitterness on
both sides, both in earlier and latter times. By 1792 there seems to
have been something almost like unanimity on the subject. What reads
strangest perhaps to our ears, 600 Belfast Protestant householders
warmly pressed the motion on the Government. In a work, published six
years earlier, Lord Sheffield, though himself opposed to emancipation,
puts this unanimity in unmistakable words. "It is curious," he says, "to
observe one-fifth or one-sixth of a nation in possession of all the
power and property of the country, eager to communicate that power to
the remaining four-fifths, which would, in effect, entirely transfer it
from themselves."

[Illustration: ("A man of importance.") THE EARL OF MOIRA. _By

The generation to which Flood, Lucas, and Lord Charlemont had belonged,
and who were almost to a man opposed to emancipation, was fast passing
away, and amongst the more independent men of the younger generation
there were few who had not been won over to Grattan's view of the
matter. In England, too, circumstances were beginning to push many, even
of those hitherto bitterly hostile to concession, in the same direction.
The growing terror of the French Revolution had loosened the bonds of
the party, and the hatred which existed between the Jacobins and the
Catholic clerical party, inclined the Government to extend the olive
branch to the latter in hopes of thereby securing their support. Pitt
was personally friendly to emancipation, and in December, 1792, a
deputation of five delegates from the Catholic convention in Dublin was
graciously received by the king himself, and returned under the
impression that all religious disabilities were forthwith to be
abolished. Next month, January, 1793, at the meeting of the Irish
Parliament, a Bill was brought in giving the right of voting to all
Catholic forty-shilling freeholders, and throwing open also to Catholics
the municipal franchise in the towns. Although vehemently opposed by the
Ascendency, this Bill, being supported by the Opposition, passed easily
and received the royal assent upon April 9th.

It was believed to be only an instalment of full and free emancipation
soon to follow. In 1794, several of the more moderate Whigs, including
Edmund Burke and Lord Fitzwilliam, left Fox, and joined Pitt. One of the
objects of the Whig members of this new coalition was the admission of
Irish Roman Catholics to equal rights with their Protestant
fellow-country men. To this Pitt at first demurred, but in the end
agreed to grant it subject to certain stipulations, and Lord Fitzwilliam
was accordingly appointed Lord-Lieutenant, and arrived in Ireland in
January, 1795.

His appointment awakened the most vehement and widely expressed delight.
He was known to be a warm supporter of emancipation. He was a personal
friend of Grattan's, and a man in whom all who had the interests of
their country at heart believed that they could confide. He had himself
declared emphatically that he would "never have taken office unless the
Roman Catholics were to be relieved from every disqualification." He was
received in Dublin with enthusiastic rejoicings. Loyal addresses from
Roman Catholics poured in from every part of Ireland. Large supplies
were joyfully voted by the Irish Parliament, and, although he reported
in a letter to the Duke of Portland that the disaffection amongst the
lower orders was very great, on the other hand the better educated of
the Roman Catholics were loyal to a man. For the moment the party of
disorder seemed indeed to have vanished. Grattan, though he refused to
take office, gave all the great weight of his support to the Government,
and obtained leave to bring in an Emancipation Bill with hardly a
dissentient voice. The extreme Jacobine party ceased apparently for the
moment to have any weight in the country. Revolution seemed to be
scotched, and the dangers into which Ireland had been seen awhile before
to be rapidly hastening, appeared to have passed away.

Suddenly all was changed. On February 12th, leave to bring in a Bill for
the admission of Roman Catholics to Parliament was moved by Grattan. On
February 9th, a letter reached Lord Fitzwilliam from Pitt, which showed
that some changes had taken place in the intentions of the Government,
but no suspicion of the extent of those changes was as yet entertained.
On February 23rd, however, the Duke of Portland wrote, "by the king's
command," authorizing Lord Fitzwilliam to resign. The law officers and
other officials who had been displaced were thereupon restored to their
former places. Grattan's Bill was hopelessly lost, and all the elements
of rebellion and disaffection at once began to seethe and ferment again.

What strikes one most in studying these proceedings is the curious folly
of the whole affair! Why was a harbinger of peace sent if only to be
immediately recalled? Why were the hopes of the Roman Catholics, of the
whole country in fact, raised to the highest pitch of expectation, if
only that they might be dashed to the ground? Pitt no doubt had a very
difficult part to play. George III. was all his life vehemently opposed
to the admission of Roman Catholics to Parliament. Two of the officials
whom Fitzwilliam had dismissed, Cooke, the Under Secretary of State, and
Beresford, the Chief Commissioner of Customs, were men of no little
influence, and Beresford, immediately upon his arrival in England had
had a personal interview with the king. That Pitt knew how critical was
the situation in Ireland is certain. He was not, however, prepared to
resign office, and short of that step it was impossible to bring
sufficient pressure to bear upon the king's obstinacy. His own
preference ran strongly towards a Union of the two countries, and with
this end in view, he is often accused of having been cynically
indifferent as to what disasters and horrors Ireland might be destined
to wade through to that consummation. This it is difficult to conceive;
nevertheless, there can be no doubt that the rising of four years later
dated from this decision, and was almost as directly due to it as if the
latter had been planned with that object.

From this point the stream runs darkly and steadily to the end. Lord
Fitzwilliam's departure was regarded by Protestants and Catholics alike
as a national calamity. In Dublin shops were shut; people put on
mourning, and his carriage was followed to the boat by lamenting crowds.
Grattan's Bill was of course lost, and the exasperation of the Catholics
rendered tenfold by the disappointment. "The demon of darkness," it was
said, "could not have done more mischief had he come from hell to throw
a fire-brand amongst the people."

Henceforward the Irish Parliament drops away into all but complete
insignificance. After two or three abortive efforts to again bring
forward reform, Grattan gave up the hopeless attempt, and retired
broken-hearted from public life. The "United Irishmen," in the first
instance an open political body, inaugurated and chiefly supported by
Protestants, now rapidly changed its character. Its leaders were now all
at heart republicans, and thoroughly impregnated with the leaven of the
French Revolution. It was suppressed and apparently broken up by the
Government in 1795, but was almost immediately afterwards reconstructed
and re-organized upon an immense scale. Every member was bound to take
an oath of secrecy, and its avowed object had become the erection by
force of a republican form of Government in Ireland. The rebellion was
bound to come now, and only accident could decide how soon.

[Illustration: RIGHT HON. EDMUND BURKE. _(From a sketch from life.)_]



It was not long delayed. The Society of United Irishmen had now grown to
be little more than a mere nest of Jacobinism, filled with all the
turbulent and disaffected elements afloat in the whole country. Of this
society Wolfe Tone was the creator, guide, and moving spirit. Any one
who wishes to understand the movement rather as it originally took shape
than in the form which it assumed when accident had deprived it of all
its leaders, should carefully study his autobiography. As he reads its
transparent pages, brimful of all the foolish, generous enthusiasms of
the day, he will find it not a little hard, I think, to avoid some
amount of sympathy with the man, however much he may, and probably will,
reprobate the cause which he had so at heart.

Amongst the other leaders of the rising were Lord Edward Fitzgerald, a
brother of the Duke of Leinster, Arthur O'Connor, a nephew of Lord
Longueville, Thomas Addis Emmett, elder brother of the better known
Robert Emmett--whose attempted rebellion in 1803, was a sort of
postscript to this earlier one--and the two Sheare brothers. Compared to
Wolfe Tone, however, all these were mere amateurs in insurrection, and
pale and shadowy dabblers in rebellion. Lord Edward was an amiable
warm-hearted visionary, high-minded and gallant, but without much
ballast, and to a great degree under the guidance of others. The
mainspring of the whole movement, as has been seen, was Protestant and
Northern, and now that all hope of constitutional reform was gone, it
was resolved to appeal openly to force and to call in the aid of the
enemies of England to assist in the coming struggle.

Insane as the idea appears, looked back at from this distance, it
evidently was not viewed in the same light by those at hand. England and
France, it must be remembered, were at fierce war, and a descent upon
the Irish coast was then, as afterwards by Napoleon, regarded as a
natural and obvious part of the aggressive policy of the latter. In the
summer of 1796 Lord Edward Fitzgerald went to Paris to open negotiations
with the French Directory, and there met Wolfe Tone, who had been
induced some time before to leave Ireland in order to avoid arrest. Lord
Edward's Orleanist connection proving a bar to his negotiations, he left
Paris, and the whole of the arrangements devolved into the latter's
hand. He so fired Carnot, one of the Directory, and still more General
Hoche, with a belief of the feasibility of his scheme of descent, that,
in December of the same year a French fleet of forty-three vessels
containing fifteen thousand troops were actually despatched under
Hoche's command, Wolfe Tone being on board of one of them, which
vessels, slipping past the English fleet in the Channel, bore down upon
the Irish coast, and suddenly appeared off Cape Clear.

[Illustration: THEOBALD WOLFE TONE. _(From a lithograph after a sketch
by Hullmandel_.)]

All Ireland was thrown into the wildest panic. There were only a small
body of troops in the south and not a war-ship upon the coast. The
peasantry of the district, it is true, showed no disposition to rise,
but for all that had the French landed, nothing could have hindered them
from marching upon the capital. But--"those ancient and unsubsidised
allies of England upon which English ministers depend as much for saving
kingdoms as washerwomen for drying clothes,"--the winds again stood true
to their ancient alliance. The vessel with Hoche on board got separated
from the rest of the fleet, and while the troops were waiting for him to
arrive a violent gale accompanied with snow suddenly sprang up. The
fleet moved on to Bear Island, and tried to anchor there, but the storm
increased, the shelter was insufficient, the vessels dragged their
anchors, were driven out to sea and forced to return to Brest. The ship
containing Hoche had before this been forced to put back to France, and
so ended the first and by far the most formidable of the perils which
threatened England under this new combination.

One very unfortunate result of the narrowness of this escape was that
the Irish Executive--stung by the sense of their own supineness, and
utterly scared by the recent peril--threw themselves into the most
violent and arbitrary measures of repression. The Habeas Corpus Act had
already been suspended, and now martial law was proclaimed in five of
the northern counties at once. The committee of the United Irishmen was
seized, the office of their organ _The Northern Star_ destroyed, and an
immense number of people hurried into gaol. What was much more serious
throughout the proclaimed districts, the soldiery and militia regiments
which had been brought over from England were kept under no discipline,
but were allowed to ill-use the population almost at their own
discretion. Gross excesses were committed, whole villages being in some
instances plundered and the people turned adrift, while half hangings,
floggings and picketings, were freely resorted to to extort confessions
of concealed arms.

Against these measures--so calculated to precipitate a rising, and by
which the innocent and well-disposed suffered no less than the
guilty--Grattan, Ponsonby, and other members of the Opposition protested
vehemently. They also drew up and laid before the House a Bill of reform
which, if passed, would, they pledged themselves, effectually allay the
agitation and content all but the most irreconcilable. Their efforts,
however, were utterly vain. Many of the members of the House of Commons
were themselves in a state of panic, and therefore impervious to
argument. The motion was defeated by an enormous majority, a general
election was close at hand, and feeling the fruitlessness of further
struggle Grattan, as already stated, refused to offer himself for
re-election, and retired despairingly from the scene.

The commander-in-chief, Lord Carhampton and his subordinate General Lake
were the two men directly responsible for the misconduct of the troops
in Ireland. So disgraceful had become the license allowed that loud
complaints were made in both the English Houses of Parliament, in
consequence of which Lord Carhampton was recalled and Sir Ralph
Abercromby sent in his place. He more than endorsed the worst of the
accounts which had been forwarded. "Every cruelty that could be
committed by Cossacks or Calmucks," he states, "has been committed
here." "The manner in which the troops have been employed would ruin,"
he adds, "the best in Europe." He at once set himself to change the
system, to keep the garrison in the principal towns, and to forbid the
troops acting except under the immediate direction of a magistrate. The
Irish Executive however was in no mood to submit to these prudent
restrictions. Angry disputes broke out. Lord Camden, the
Lord-Lieutenant, vacillated from side to side, and the end was that in
April, 1797, Sir Ralph Abercromby indignantly resigned the command,
which then fell into General Lake's hands, and matters again went on
as before.

Meanwhile the failure of the French descent under Hoche, and the defeat
of the Dutch fleet at the battle of Camperdown in the autumn of 1797,
had determined Lord Edward Fitzgerald and the other chiefs of the
executive committee to attempt an independent rising. Wolfe Tone was
still in France, eagerly endeavouring to bring about a fresh expedition,
so that their councils had not even the advantage of his guidance. The
Government had full information of all their proceedings, being kept
well informed by spies, several of whom were actually enrolled in the
association. In March, 1798, a sudden descent was made upon the
executive committee, which had met at the house of a man called Bond,
and a number of delegates and several leaders arrested. Lord Edward,
however, received warning and went into concealment, and it was while in
hiding that he hastily concerted a scheme for a general rising, which
was now definitely fixed to take place upon the 24th of May.

[Illustration: LORD EDWARD FITZGERALD. _(After a picture by Hamilton.)_]

Only a few days before this date his hiding-place was betrayed to the
Government by a man named Magan. A guard of soldiers was sent to arrest
him, and a desperate struggle took place, in the course of which the
captain of the guard was fatally stabbed, while Lord Edward himself
received a bullet on the shoulder from the effects of which he shortly
afterwards died in goal. Within a day or two of his arrest all the other
leaders in Dublin were also seized and thrown into prison.

The whole of the executive committee were thus removed at one blow, and
the conspiracy left without head. In estimating the hideous character
finally assumed by the rising this fact must never be forgotten. The
sickening deeds committed while it was at its height were committed by a
mass of ignorant men, maddened by months of oppression, and deprived of
their leaders at the very moment they most required their control.

In the meantime the 24th of May had come, and the rising had broken out.
The non-arrival of the daily mail-coaches was to be the signal, and
these were stopped and burnt by the insurgents in four different
directions at once. In Kildare and Meath scattered parties of soldiers
and yeomanry were attacked and killed, and at Prosperous the barracks
were set on fire, and the troops quartered in it all burnt or piked. In
Dublin prompt measures had been taken, and the more loyal citizens had
enrolled themselves for their own defence, so that no rising took place
there, the result being that the outlying insurgents found themselves
isolated. In the north especially, where the whole movement had taken
its rise, and where the revolutionists had long been organized, the
actual rising was thus of very trifling importance, and the whole thing
was easily stamped out within a week.

It was very different in Wexford. Here from the beginning the rising had
assumed a religious shape, and was conducted with indescribable
barbarity. Yeomanry corps and bodies of militia had been quartered in
the county for months, and many acts of tyranny had been committed.
These were now hideously avenged. Several thousand men and women, armed
chiefly with pikes and scythes, collected together on the hill of Oulart
under the guidance of a priest named Father John Murphy. They were
attacked by a small party of militia from Wexford, but defeating them,
burst into Ferns, where they burnt the bishop's palace, then hastened on
to Enniscorthy, which they took possession of, and a few days afterwards
appeared before the town of Wexford.

Here resistance was at first offered them by Colonel Maxwell, who was in
command of the militia regiments. Nearly all the Roman Catholics,
however under his orders deserted, the rest grew disorganized and fled,
and the end was that the militia departed and the rebels took possession
triumphantly of the town. It at once became the scene of horrible
outrages. Houses were plundered; many of the Protestant citizens
murdered; others dragged from their homes, and cruelly maltreated.
Bagenal Harvey, a United Irishman and a Protestant, who had been
imprisoned at Wexford by the Government, was released and elected
general of the rebels. He found himself, however, utterly unable to
control them. A camp had been formed upon Vinegar Hill, near.
Enniscorthy, and from it as a centre the whole district was overrun,
with the exception of New Ross, where most of the available troops had
been concentrated. The wretched Protestants, kept prisoners on Vinegar
Hill, were daily taken out in batches, and slaughtered in cold blood,
while at Scullabogue, after an unsuccessful attempt on the part of the
rebels to take New Ross, the most frightful episode of the whole rising
occurred; a barn containing over a hundred and eighty Protestant
loyalists collected from the country round being set on fire, and all of
them perishing in the flames.

In the meanwhile troops were rapidly arriving from Dublin. Arklow and
New Ross had defended themselves gallantly, and the rebels had fallen
back from them repulsed. Vinegar Hill was attacked upon June 21st by
General Lake, and after a struggle the rebels fled precipitately, and
were slaughtered in great numbers. The day before this Father Roche and
the rebels under him were met outside Wexford and also put to flight
after hard fighting. Inside the town a horrible butchery was the same
day perpetrated by a body of ruffians upon over ninety Protestant
prisoners, who were slaughtered with great cruelty upon the bridge
leading to New Ross, and only the passionate intervention of a priest
named Corrin hindered the deaths of many more.

With the recapture of Wexford and Vinegar Hill the struggle ended. Such
of the rebels as had escaped the infuriated soldiery fled to hide
themselves in Wicklow and elsewhere. Father Michael Murphy--believed by
his followers to be bullet proof--had been already killed during the
attack on Arklow. Father Roche was hung by Lake's order over the bridge
at Wexford, the scene of the late massacres. So also was the unfortunate
Bagenal Harvey, the victim rather than the accomplice of the crimes of
others. Father John Murphy was caught and hung at Tallow, as were also
other priests in different parts of the country. The rising had been
just long enough, and just formidable enough, to awaken the utmost
terror and the most furious thirst for vengeance, yet not formidable
enough to win respect for itself from a military point of view. As a
result the retribution exacted was terrible; the scenes of violence
which followed being upon a scale which went far to cause even the
excesses committed by the rebels themselves to pale into insignificance.

Two final incidents, either of which a few months earlier might have
produced formidable results, brings the dismal story to an end. In
August, just after the rising had been definitely stamped out, General
Humbert with a little over a thousand French troops under his command
landed at Killala, where he was joined, if hardly reinforced, by a wild
mob of unarmed peasants. From Killala he advanced to Ballina, defeated
General Lake, who was sent against him, and moved on to Sligo. Shortly
afterwards, however, he found himself, after crossing the Shannon,
confronted with an overwhelming force under Lord Cornwallis, who had
recently succeeded Lord Camden, and held double offices of
Lord-Lieutenant and Commander-in-chief. Yielding to the inevitable,
Humbert surrendered at discretion, and he and his men were received with
due courtesy as prisoners of war. The account given by the bishop of
Killala who was kept prisoner while that town was occupied by the
French, will be found to be extremely well worth reading.

The last scene of the drama brings Wolfe Tone appropriately back upon
the gloomy stage. When General Humbert sailed for Killala a much larger
French force under General Hardi had remained behind at Brest. In
September this second detachment sailed, Wolfe Tone being on board the
principal vessel called the _Hoche_. Outside Lough Swilly they were
overtaken by an English squadron, and a desperate struggle ensued. The
smaller French vessels escaped, but the _Hoche_ was so riddled with shot
and shell as to be forced to surrender, and was towed by the victors
into Lough Swilly. Here the French officers including Wolfe Tone were
hospitably entertained at dinner by Lord Cavan. While at table Tone was
recognized by an old school friend, and was at once arrested and sent
prisoner to Dublin. A court martial followed, and despite his own plea
to be regarded as a French officer, and therefore, if condemned shot, he
was sentenced to be hung. In despair he tried to kill himself in prison,
but the wound though fatal, was not immediately so, and the sentence
would have been carried rigorously out but for the intervention of
Curran, who moved for a writ of Habeas Corpus on the plea that as the
courts of law were then sitting in Dublin, a court martial had no
jurisdiction. The plea was a mere technicality, but it produced the
required delay, and Wolfe Tone died quietly in prison.



By the month of August the last sparks of the rebellion of '98 had been
quenched. Martial law prevailed everywhere. The terror which the rising
had awakened was finding its vent in violent actions and still more
violent language, and Lord Cornwallis, the Lord-Lieutenant, was one of
the few who ventured to say that enough blood had been shed, and that
the hour for mercy had struck. The ferocity with which the end of the
contest had been waged by the rebels had aroused a feeling of
corresponding, or more than corresponding ferocity on the other side.
That men who a few months before had trembled to see all whom they loved
best exposed to the savagery of such a mob as had set fire to the barn
at Scullabogue, or murdered the prisoners at Rossbridge, should have
been filled with a fury which carried them far beyond the necessities of
the case is hardly perhaps surprising, but the result was to hurry them
in many instances into cruelties fully as great as those which they
intended to avenge.

It was at this moment, while the country was still racked and bleeding
at every pore from the effects of the recent struggle, that Pitt
resolved to carry out his long projected plan of a legislative Union.
Public opinion in Ireland may be said for the moment to have been dead.
The mass of the people were lying crushed and exhausted by their own
violence. Fresh from a contest waged with gun and pike and torch, a mere
constitutional struggle had probably little or no interest for them. The
popular enthusiasm which the earlier triumphs of the Irish Parliament
had awakened had all but utterly died away in a fratricidal struggle. To
the leaders of the late rebellion it was an object of open contempt, if
not indeed of actual aversion. Wolfe Tone, the ablest man by far on the
revolutionary side, had never weaned of pouring contempt upon it. In his
eyes it was the great opponent of progress, the venal slave which had
not only destroyed the chances of a successful outbreak, and whose
endeavour had been to keep Ireland under the heel of her tyrant. To him
the opposition as little deserved the name of patriot as the veriest
place-men. Grattan, throughout his long and noble career had been as
steadily loyal, and as steadily averse to any appeal to force as any
paid creature of the Government. To men who only wanted to break loose
from England altogether, to found an Irish republic as closely as
possible upon the model then offered for their imitation in France,
anything like mere constitutional opposition seemed not contemptible
merely, but ridiculous.

UNION, 1800.]

This explains how it was that no great burst of public feeling--such as
a few years before would have made the project of a Union all but
impossible--was now to be feared. Pitt had for a long time firmly fixed
his mind upon it as the object to be attained. He honestly believed the
existing state of things to be fraught with peril for England, and to
have in it formidable elements of latent danger, which a war or any
other sudden emergency might bring to the front. He knew too,
undoubtedly, that no opportunity equally favourable for carrying his
point was ever likely to recur again.

He accordingly now proceeded to take his measures for securing it with
the utmost care, and the most anxious selection of agents. Two opposite
sets of inducements were to be brought to bear upon the two contending
factions. To the Protestants, fresh from their terrible struggle, the
thought of a closer union with England seemed to promise greater
protection in case of any similar outbreak. Irish churchmen too had been
always haunted with a dread sooner or later of the disestablishment of
their Church, and a union, it was argued, with a country where
Protestants constituted the vast majority of the population, would
render that peril for ever impossible, and it was agreed that a special
clause to that effect should be incorporated in the Act of Union. To the
Roman Catholics a totally different set of inducements were brought
forward. The great bait was Emancipation, which they were privately
assured would never be carried as long as the Irish Parliament existed,
but might safely be conceded once it had ceased to exist. No actual
pledge was made to that effect, but there was unquestionably an
understanding, and Lord Castlereagh, the Chief Secretary, was untiring
in his efforts to lull them into security upon this point.

So much discrepancy of statement still prevails upon the whole subject
that it is extremely difficult to ascertain what really was the
prevailing sentiment in Ireland at this time for and against the project
of a Union. In Ulster the proposal seems certainly to have been all but
unanimously condemned, and in Dublin, too, the opposition to it was
vehement and unhesitating, but in other parts of the country it seems to
have met with some support, especially in Galway and Tipperary. In
January, 1799, Parliament met, and the proposal was brought forward in a
speech from the throne, but encountered a violent opposition from all
the remaining members of the patriotic party. Grattan, who had returned
to Parliament for the express purpose, eloquently defended the rights of
the Irish legislature, and was supported by Sir John Parnell, by
Plunkett, and by all the more prominent members of the opposition. After
a debate which lasted nearly twenty-two hours, a division was called,
and the numbers were found to be equal; another fierce struggle, and
this time the Government were beaten by five; thus the proposal for the
time was lost.

Not for long though. Pitt had thoroughly made up his mind, and was bent
on carrying his point to a successful issue. Most of those who had voted
against the Union were dismissed from office, and after the prorogation
of Parliament, the Government set to work with a determination to secure
a majority before the next session. There was only one means of
effecting this, and that means was now employed. Eighty-five
boroughs--all of which were in the hands of private owners--would lose
their members if a Union were passed, and all these, accordingly, it was
resolved to compensate, and no less than a million and a quarter of
money was actually advanced for that purpose, while for owners less
easily reached by this means peerages, baronetcies, steps in the
peerage, and similar inducements, were understood to be forthcoming as
an equivalent.

It is precisely at this point that controversy grows hottest, and where
it becomes hardest, therefore, to see a clear way between contending
statements, which seem to meet and thrust one another, as it were at the
very sword's point. That the sale of parliamentary seats--so shocking to
our reformed eyes--was not regarded in the same light at the date of the
Irish Union is certain, and in questions of ethics contemporary judgment
is the first and most important point to be considered. The sale of a
borough carried with it no more necessary reprobation then than did the
sale of a man, say, in Jamaica or Virginia. Boroughs were bought and
sold in open market, and many of them had a recognized price, so much
for the current session, so much more if in perpetuity. We must try
clearly to realize this, in order to approach the matter fairly, and, as
far as possible, to put the ugly word "bribery" out of our thoughts, at
all events not allow it to carry them beyond the actual facts of the
case. Pitt, there is no question, had resolved to carry his point, but
we have no right to assume that he wished to carry it by corrupt means,
and the fact that those who opposed it were to be indemnified for their
seats no less than those who promoted it, makes so far strongly in
his favour.

On the other hand, the impression which any given transaction leaves
upon the generation which has actually witnessed it is rarely entirely
wrong, and that the impression produced by the carrying of the Irish
Union--almost equally upon its friends and its foes--was, to put it
mildly, unfavourable, few will be disposed to deny. Over and above this
general testimony, we have the actual letters of those who were mainly
instrumental in carrying it into effect, and it is difficult to read
those of Lord Cornwallis without perceiving that he at least regarded
the task as a repellent one, and one which as an honourable man he would
gladly have evaded had evasion been possible. It is true that Lord
Castlereagh, who was associated intimately with him in the enterprise,
shows no such reluctance, but then the relative characters of the two
men prevent that circumstance from having quite as much weight as it
otherwise might.

The fact is that the whole affair is still enveloped in such a hedge of
cross-statement and controversy, that in spite of having been
eighty-seven years before the world, it still needs careful elucidation,
and the last word upon it has certainly not yet been written. To attempt
anything of the sort here would be absurd, so we must be content with
simply following the actual course of events.

[Illustration: MARQUIS CORNWALLIS. (_Engraved by James Stow from an
original drawing by S.D. Koster_.)]

The whole of that memorable summer was spent carrying out the orders of
the Prime Minister. The Lord-Lieu tenant and the Chief Secretary
travelled in person round Ireland to assist in the canvass, and before
the Parliament met again the following January, they were able to report
that they had succeeded. Grattan had been suffering from a severe
illness, and was still almost too ill to appear. He came, however, and
his wonted eloquence rose to the occasion. He appealed in the most
moving and passionate terms against the destruction of the Parliament.
Even then there were some who hoped against hope that it might be saved.
At the division, however, the Government majority was found to be
overwhelming, only a hundred members voting against it. The assent of
the Upper House had already been secured, and was known all along to be
a mere formality. And so the Union was carried.

How far it was or was not desirable at the time; how far it was or was
not indispensable to the safety of both countries; to what extent Pitt
and in a less degree those who acted under him were or were not
blameworthy in the matter--are points which maybe almost indefinitely
discussed. They were not as blameworthy as they are often assumed to
have been, but it is difficult honestly to see how we are to exonerate
them from blame altogether. The theory that the end justifies the means
has never been a favourite with honourable men, and some at least of the
means by which the Union of Great Britain and Ireland was carried would
have left fatal stains upon the noblest cause that ever yet inspired the
breast of man. Early in the last century Ireland through her Parliament
had herself proposed a legislative union, and England had rejected her
appeal. Had it been accomplished then, or had it been brought about in
the same fashion as that which produced the Union between Scotland and
England, it might have been accepted as a boon instead of a curse, and
in any case could have left no such bitter and rankling memories behind
it. It is quite possible, and perfectly logical, for a man to hold that
a Union between the two countries was and is to the advantage of both,
and yet to desire that when it did come about it had been accomplished
in almost any other conceivable way.




Another century had now dawned, and, like the last, it was heralded in
with great changes in Ireland. More than change, however, is needed for
improvement. "_Plus ça change plus c'est la même chose_" has been said
of French politics, and is at least equally applicable to Irish ones.
The Union had not brought union, and the years which followed it were
certainly no great improvement on those that had preceded them. The
growth of political institution is not so naturally stable in Ireland
that the lopping down of one such institution tended to make the rest
stronger or more healthy. It was a tree that had undoubtedly serious
flaws, and whose growing had not been as perfect as it might have been,
but it had admittedly borne some good fruit, and might have borne better
had it been left alone. Anyhow it was gone, and the history of the next
twenty-nine years is a confused and distracting medley of petty
outbreaks--that in 1803 of which Robert Emmett was the leader being the
most important--and of recurrent acts of repression, out of the
monotonous welter of which one great figure presently rises like a
colossus, till it comes to dominate the whole scene.

[Illustration: ROBERT EMMET. (_From a stipple engraving by J. Heath_.)]

At a meeting of Catholic citizens in Dublin in 1800 to protest against
the Union, Daniel O'Connell, then a young barrister of twenty-six, made
his first public speech, and from that time forward his place as a
leader may be said to have been fixed. A Catholic Association had some
years earlier been formed, and of this he soon became the chief figure,
and his efforts were continually directed towards the relief of his
co-religionists. In 1815 a proposal had been made by the Government that
Catholic Emancipation should be granted, coupled with a power of veto in
the appointment of Catholic bishops, and to this compromise a
considerable Catholic party was favourable. Richard Lalor Sheil--next to
O'Connell by far the ablest and most eloquent advocate for
Emancipation--supported it; even the Pope, Pius VII., declared that he
felt "no hesitation in conceding it." O'Connell, however, opposed it
vehemently, and so worked up public opinion against it that in the end
he carried his point, and it was agreed that no proposal should be
accepted which permitted any external interference with the Catholic
Church of Ireland. This was his first decisive triumph.

O'Connell's buoyancy and indomitable energy imparted much of its own
impulse to a party more dead and dispirited than we who have only known
it in its resuscitated and decidedly dominant state can easily conceive.
In 1823 a new Irish Catholic Association was set on foot, of which he
was the visible life and soul. It is curious to note how little
enthusiasm its proceedings seem at first to have awakened, especially
amongst the priesthood. At a meeting on February 4, 1824, the necessary
quorum of ten members running short, it was only supplied by O'Connell
rushing downstairs to the book-shop over which the association met, and
actually forcing upstairs two priests whom he accidently found there,
and it was by the aid of these unwilling coadjutors that the famous
motion for establishing the "Catholic rent" was carried. No sooner was
this fund established, however, than it was largely subscribed for all
over the country, and in a wonderfully short time the whole priesthood
of Ireland were actively engaged in its service. The sums collected were
to be spent in parliamentary expenses, in the defence of Catholics, and
in the cost of meetings. In 1825 the association was suppressed by Act
of Parliament, but was hardly dead before O'Connell set about the
formation of another, and the defeat of the Beresfords at the election
for Waterford in 1826 was one of the first symptoms which showed where
the rising tide was mounting to.

It was followed two years later by a much more important victory.
Although Catholics were excluded from sitting in Parliament the law
which forbade their doing so did not preclude their being returned as
members, and it had long been thought that policy required the election
of some Catholic, if only that the whole anomaly of the situation might
be brought into the full light of day. An opportunity soon occurred. Mr.
Fitzgerald, the member for Clare, having accepted office as President of
the Board of Trade, he was obliged to appeal to his constituents for
re-election, and O'Connell caught at the suggestion made to him of
contesting the seat. His purpose had hardly been announced before it
created the wildest excitement all over Ireland. The Catholic
Association at once granted £5,000 towards the expenses, and £9,000 more
was easily raised within a week. In every parish in Clare the priests
addressed their parishioners from the altar, appealing to them to be
true to the representative of their faith. After a vehement contest,
victory declared itself unhesitatingly for O'Connell, who was found to
have polled more than a thousand votes over his antagonist.

The months which followed were months of the wildest and most feverish
excitement all over Ireland. O'Connell, though he used his "frank," did
not present himself at the House of Commons. He devoted his whole time
to organizing his co-religionists, who by this time may be said to have
formed one vast army under his direction. In every parish the priests
were his lieutenants. Monster meetings were held in all directions, and
it may without exaggeration be said that hardly a Catholic man escaped
the contagion. So universal a demonstration was felt to be irresistible.
A sudden perception of the necessity for full and unqualified
Emancipation sprang up in England. Even the Duke of Wellington bent his
head before the storm. In the king's speech of February, 1829, a
revision of the Catholic disabilities was advised. The following month
the Catholic Relief Bill was carried through the House of Commons by a
majority of 180, and received the royal assent on the 13th of April.

Thus the victory was won, and won too without a single shackling
condition. It was won, moreover, by the efforts of a single individual,
almost without support, nay, in several cases against the active
opposition of some who had hitherto been its warmest advocates, a fact
for which O'Connell's own violence was undoubtedly largely responsible.
This seems to be the place to attempt an analysis of this extraordinary
man, setting down the good and the evil each in their due proportion.
The task, however, would in truth be impossible. For good or ill his
figure is too massive, and would escape our half inch of canvas were we
to try and set it there. The best description of him compressible in a
few words is Balzac's--"He was the incarnation of an entire people."
Nothing can be truer. Not only was he Irish of the Irish, but Celt of
the Celts, every quality, every characteristic, good, bad, loveable, or
the reverse which belongs to the type being found in him, only on an
immense scale. To the average Irishman of his day he stands as Mont
Blanc might stand were it set down amongst the Magillicuddy Reeks. He
towers, that is to say, above his contemporaries not by inches, but by
the head and shoulders. His aims, hopes, enthusiasms were theirs, but
the effective, controlling power was his alone. He had a great cause,
and he availed himself greatly of it, and to this and to the magnetic
and all but magical influence of his personality, that extraordinary
influence which he for so many years wielded is no doubt due.

[Illustration: DANIEL O'CONNELL, M.P. (_From a pen-and-ink sketch by
Doyle, in the Department of Prints and Drawings, British Museum_.)]

Two points must be here set down, since both are of great importance to
the future of Ireland, and for both O'Connell is clearly
responsible--whether we regard them as amongst his merits or the
reverse. He first, and as it has been proved permanently, brought the
priest into politics, with the unavoidable result of accentuating the
religious side of the contest and bringing it into a focus. The
bitterness which three generations of the penal code had engendered
only, in fact, broke out then. The hour of comparative freedom is
often--certainly not alone in Ireland--the hour when the sense of past
oppression first reveals itself in all its intensity, and that biting
consciousness of being under a social ban which grew up in the last
century is hardly even yet extinct there, and certainly was not extinct
in O'Connell's time. Another, and an equally important effect, is also
due to him. He effectually, and as it has proved finally, snapped that
tie of feudal feeling which, if weakened, still undoubtedly existed, and
which was felt towards the landlord of English extraction little less
than towards the few remaining Celtic ones. The failings of the upper
classes of Ireland of his day, and long before his day, there is no need
to extenuate, but it must not in fairness be forgotten that what seems
to our soberer judgment the worst of those failings--their insane
extravagance, their exalted often ludicrously inflated notions of their
own relative importance; their indifference to, sometimes open hostility
to, the law--all were bonds of union and sources of pride to their
dependants rather than the other way. It needed a yet stronger
impulse--that of religious enthusiasm--to break so deeply rooted and
inherent a sentiment. When that spark was kindled every other fell away
before it.

As regards England, unfortunately, the concession of Emancipation was
spoilt not merely by the sense that it was granted to force rather than
to conviction, but even more to the intense bitterness and dislike with
which it was regarded by a large proportion of English Protestants. A
new religious life and a new sense of religious responsibility was
making itself widely felt there. The eighteenth century, with its
easy-going indifferentism, had passed away, and one of the effects of
this new revival was unhappily to reawaken in many conscientious breasts
much of the old and half-extinct horror of Popery, a horror which found
its voice in a language of intolerance and bigotry which at the present
time seems scarcely conceivable.

The years which followed were chiefly marked by a succession of efforts
upon O'Connell's part to procure Repeal. An association which had been
formed by him for this purpose was put down by the Government in 1830,
but the next year it was reformed under a new name, and at the general
election in 1831 forty members were returned pledged to support Repeal.
The condition of Ireland was meanwhile miserable in the extreme. A
furious tithe-war was raging, and many outrages had been committed,
especially against tithe proctors, the class of men who were engaged in
collecting the tax. Ribbon associations and other secret societies too
had been spreading rapidly underground. Of such societies O'Connell was
through life the implacable enemy. The events of 1798 and 1803 had left
an indelible impression on his mind. The "United Irishmen," in his own
words, "taught me that all work for Ireland must be done openly and
above board." The end of the tithe struggle, however, was happily
approaching. In 1838 an Irish Tithes Commutation Act was at last
carried, and a land tax in the form of a permanent rent charge

Repeal was now more than ever the question of the hour, and to Repeal
henceforward O'Connell devoted his entire energies. In 1840 the Loyal
National Repeal Association was founded, and a permanent place of
meeting known as Conciliation Hall established for it in Dublin. 1841,
O'Connell had early announced, would be known henceforward as the year
of Repeal, and accordingly he that year left England and went to
Ireland, and devoted himself there to the work of organization. A
succession of monster meetings were held all over the country, the
far-famed one on Tara Hill being, as is credibly asserted, attended by
no less than a quarter of a million of people. Over this vast multitude
gathered together around him the magic tones of the great orator's voice
swept triumphantly; awakening anger, grief, passion, delight, laughter,
tears, at its own pleasure. They were astonishing triumphs, but they
were dearly bought. The position was, in fact, an impossible one to
maintain long. O'Connell had carried the whole mass of the people with
him up to the very brink of the precipice, but how to bring them safely
and successfully down again was more than even he could accomplish.
Resistance he had always steadily denounced, yet every day his own words
seemed to be bringing the inevitable moment of collision nearer and
nearer. The crisis came on October the 5th. A meeting had been summoned
to meet at Clontarf, near Dublin, and on the afternoon of the 4th the
Government suddenly came to the resolution of issuing a proclamation
forbidding it to assemble. The risk was a formidable one for responsible
men to run. Many of the people were already on their way, and only
O'Connell's own rapid and vigorous measures in sending out in all
directions to intercept them hindered the actual shedding of blood.

His prosecution and that of some of his principal adherents was the next
important event. By a Dublin jury he was found guilty, sentenced to two
years imprisonment, and conveyed to prison, still earnestly entreating
the people to remain quiet, an order which they strictly obeyed. The
jury by which he had been condemned was known to be strongly biassed
against him, and an appeal had been forwarded against his sentence to
the House of Lords. So strong there, too, was the feeling against
O'Connell, that little expectation was entertained of its being
favourably received. Greatly to its honour, however, the sentence was
reversed and he was set free. His imprisonment had been of the lightest
and least onerous description conceivable; indeed was ironically
described by Mitchell shortly afterwards as that of a man--"addressed by
bishops, complimented by Americans, bored by deputations, serenaded by
bands, comforted by ladies, half smothered by roses, half drowned in
champagne." The enthusiasm shown at his release was frantic and
delirious. None the less those months in Richmond prison proved the
death-knell of his power. He was an old man by this time; he was already
weakened in health, and that buoyancy which had hitherto carried him
over any and every obstacle never again revived. The "Young Ireland"
party, the members of which had in the first instance been his allies
and lieutenants, had now formed a distinct section, and upon the vital
question of resistance were in fierce hostility to all his most
cherished principles. The state of the country, too, preyed visibly upon
his mind. By 1846 had begun that succession of disastrous seasons which,
by destroying the feeble barrier which stood between the peasant and a
cruel death, brought about a national tragedy, the most terrible perhaps
with which modern Europe has been confronted. This tragedy, though he
did not live to see the whole of it, O'Connell--himself the incarnation
of the people--felt acutely. Deep despondency took hold of him. He
retired, to a great degree, from public life, leaving the conduct of his
organization in the hands of others. Few more tragic positions have been
described or can be conceived than that of this old man--so loved, so
hated, so reverenced, so detested--who had been so audaciously,
triumphantly successful in his day, and round whom the shadows of night
were now gathering so blackly and so swiftly. Despair was tightening its
grip round the hearts of all Irishmen, and it found its strongest hold
upon the heart of the greatest Irishman of his age. Nothing speaks more
eloquently of the total change of situation than the pity and respectful
consideration extended at this time to O'Connell by men who only
recently had exhausted every possibility of vituperation in abuse of the
burly demagogue. In 1847 he resolved to leave Ireland, and to end his
days in Rome. His last public appearance was in the House of Commons,
where an attentive and deeply respectful audience hung upon the
faultering and barely articulate accents which fell from his lips. In a
few deeply moving words he appealed for aid and sympathy for his
suffering countrymen, and left the House; within a few months he had
died at Genoa. Such a bare summary leaves necessarily whole regions of
the subject unexplored, but, let the final verdict of history on
O'Connell be what it may, that he loved his country passionately, and
with an absolute disinterestedness no pen has ever been found to
question, nor can we doubt that whatever else may have hastened his end
it was the Famine killed him, almost as surely as it did the meanest of
its victims.



The camp and council chamber of the "Young Ireland" party was the
editor's room of _The Nation_ newspaper. There it found its inspiration,
and there its plans were matured--so far, that is, as they can be said
to have been ever matured. For an eminently readable and all things
considered a wonderfully impartial account of this movement, the reader
cannot do better than consult Sir Charles Gavan Duffy's "Four Years of
Irish History," which has the immense advantage of being history taken
at first hand, written that is by one who himself took a prominent part
in the scenes which he describes.

The most interesting figure in the party had, however, died before those
memorable four years began. Thomas Davis, who was only thirty at the
time of his death in 1845, was a man of large gifts, nay, might fairly
be called a man of genius. His poetry is, perhaps, too national to be
appreciated out of Ireland, yet two, at least, of his ballads,
"Fontenoy" and "The Sack of Baltimore," may fairly claim to compare with
those of any contemporary poet. His prose writings, too, have much of
the same charm, and, if he had no time to become a master of any of the
subjects of which he treats, there is something infectious in the very
spontaneousness and, as it were, untaught boyish energy of his
Irish essays.

The whole movement in fact was, in the first instance, a literary quite
as much as a political one. Nearly all who took part in it--Gavan Duffy,
John Mitchell, Meagher, Dillon, Davis himself--were very young men, many
fresh from college, all filled with zeal for the cause of liberty and
nationality. The graver side of the movement only showed itself when the
struggle with O'Connell began. At first no idea of deposing, or even
seriously opposing the great leader seems to have been intended. The
attempt on O'Connell's part to carry a formal declaration against the
employment under any circumstances of physical force was the origin of
that division, and what the younger spirits considered "truckling to the
Whigs" helped to widen the breach. When, too, O'Connell had partially
retired into the background, his place was filled by his son, John
O'Connell, the "Head conciliator," between whom and the "Young
Irelanders" there waged a fierce war, which in the end led to the
indignant withdrawal of the latter from the Repeal council.

Before matters reached this point, the younger camp had been
strengthened by the adhesion of Smith O'Brien, who, though not a man of
much intellectual calibre, carried no little weight in Ireland. His
age--which compared to that of the other members of his party, was that
of a veteran--his rank and position as a county member, above all, his
vaunted descent from Brian Boroimhe, all made him an ally and a convert
to be proud of. Like the rest he had no idea at first of appealing to
physical force, however loudly an abstract resolution against it might
be denounced. Resistance was to be kept strictly within the
constitutional limits, indeed the very year of his junction with this
the extreme left of the Repeal party, Smith O'Brien's most violent
proceeding was to decline to sit upon a railway committee to which he
had been summoned, an act of contumacy for which he was ordered by the
House of Commons into the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, and committed
to an extemporized prison, by some cruelly declared to be the coal-hole.
"An Irish leader in a coal-hole!" exclaims Sir Charles Gavan Duffy,
indignantly, can more unworthy statement be conceived? "Regullus in a
barrel, however," he adds, rather grandly, "was not quite the last one
heard of Rome and its affairs!"

In Ireland matters were certainly sad enough and serious enough without
any such serio-comic incidents. Famine was already stalking the country
with giant strides, and no palliative measures as yet proposed seemed to
be of the slightest avail. Early in January, 1847, O'Connell left on
that journey of his which was never completed, and by the middle of May
Ireland was suddenly startled by the news that her great leader
was dead.

The effect of his death was to produce a sudden and immense reaction. A
vast revulsion of love and reverence sprang up all over the country; an
immense sense of his incomparable services, and with it a vehement anger
against all who had opposed him. Upon the "Young Ireland" party, as was
inevitable, the weight of that anger fell chiefly, and from the moment
of O'Connell's death whatever claim they had to call themselves a
national party vanished utterly. The men "who killed the Liberator"
could never again hope to carry with them the suffrages of any number of
their countrymen.

This contumely, to a great degree undeserved, naturally reacted upon the
subjects of it. The taunt of treachery and ingratitude flung at them
wherever they went stung and nettled. In the general reaction of
gratitude and affection for O'Connell, his son John succeeded easily to
the position of leader. The older members of the Repeal Association
thereupon rallied about him, and the split between them and the younger
men grew deeper and wider.

A wild, impracticable visionary now came to play a part in the movement.
A deformed misanthrope, called James Lalor, endowed with a considerable
command of vague, passionate rhetoric, began to write incentives to
revolt in _The Nation_, These growing more and more violent were by the
editor at length prudently suppressed. The seed, however, had already
sown itself in another mind. John Mitchell is described by Mr. Justin
McCarthy as "the one formidable man amongst the rebels of '48; the one
man who distinctly knew what he wanted, and was prepared to run any risk
to get it." Even Mitchell, it is clear, would never have gone as far as
he did but for the impulse which he received from the crippled desperado
in the background. Lalor was, in fact, a monomaniac, but this Mitchell
seems to have failed to perceive. To him it was intolerable that any
human being should be willing to go further and to dare more in the
cause of Ireland than himself, and the result was that after awhile he
broke away from his connection with _The Nation_, and started a new
organ under the name of _The United Irishmen_, one definitely pledged
from the first to the policy of action.

From this point matters gathered speedily to a head. Mitchell's
newspaper proceeded to fling out challenge after challenge to the
Government, calling upon the people to gather and to "sweep this island
clear of the English name and nation." For some months these challenges
remained unanswered. It was now, however, "'48," and nearly all Europe
was in revolution. The necessity of taking some step began to be
evident, and a Bill making all written incitement of insurrection felony
was hurried through the House of Commons, and almost immediately after
Mitchell was arrested.

Even then he seems to have believed that the country would rise to
liberate him. The country, however, showed no disposition to do anything
of the sort. He was tried in Dublin, found guilty, sentenced to fourteen
years' transportation, and a few days afterwards put on board a vessel
in the harbour and conveyed to Spike Island, whence he was sent to
Bermuda, and the following April in a convict vessel to the Cape, and
finally to Tasmania.

The other "Young Irelanders," stung apparently by their own previous
inaction, thereupon rushed frantically into rebellion. The
leaders--Smith O'Brien, Meagher, Dillon, and others--went about the
country holding reviews of "Confederates," as they now called
themselves, a proceeding which caused the Government to suspend the
Habeas Corpus Act, and to issue a warrant for their arrest. A few more
gatherings took place in different parts of the country, a few more
ineffectual attempts were made to induce the people to rise, one very
small collision with the police occurred, and then the whole thing was
over. All the leaders in the course of a few days were arrested and
Smith O'Brien and Meagher were sentenced to death, a sentence which was
speedily changed into transportation. Gavan Duffy was arrested and
several times tried, but the jury always disagreed, and in the end his
prosecution was abandoned. The "Young Ireland" movement, however, was
dead, and never again revived.



All the time the earlier of the foregoing scenes were being enacted, the
famine had been drawing its python grasp tighter and tighter around the
unhappy island. The first symptoms of the dread potato disease showed
themselves in the autumn of 1845, and even that year there was much
suffering, though a trifle to what was to follow. Many remedies were
tried, both to stop the blight and save the crops, but all alike proved
unavailing. The next year the potatoes seemed to promise unusually well,
and the people, with characteristic hopefulness, believed that their
trouble was over. The summer, however, was very warm and wet, and with
August there came on a peculiarly dense white fog, which was believed by
all who were in Ireland at the time to have carried the blight with it
in its folds. Whether this was the case or not, there is no doubt that
in a single fatal night nearly the whole potato crop over the entire
country blackened, and perished utterly. Then, indeed, followed despair.
Stupor and a sort of moody indifference succeeded to the former buoyancy
and hopefulness. There was nothing to do; no other food was attainable.
The fatal dependence upon a single precarious crop had left the whole
mass of the people helpless before the enemy.

Soon the first signs of famine began to appear. People were to be seen
wandering about; seeking for stray turnips, for watercresses, for
anything that would allay the pangs of hunger. The workhouses, detested
though they were, were crammed until they could hold no single
additional inmate. Whole families perished; men, women, and children lay
down in their cabins and died, often without a sign. Others fell by the
roadside on their way to look for work or seek relief. Only last summer,
at Ballinahinch in Connemara, the present writer was told by an old man
that he remembered being sent by his master on a message to Clifden, the
nearest town, and seeing the people crawling along the road, and that,
returning the same way a few hours later, many of the same people were
lying dead under the walls or upon the grass at the roadside. That this
is no fancy picture is clear from local statistics. No part of Ireland
suffered worse than Galway and Mayo, both far more densely populated
then than at present. In this very region of Connemara an inspector has
left on record, having to give orders for the burying of over a hundred
and thirty bodies found along the roads within his own district.

Mr. W.E. Forster, who, above all other Englishmen deserved the gratitude
of Ireland for his efforts during this tragic time, has left terrible
descriptions of the scenes of which he was himself an eye-witness,
especially in the west. "The town of Westport," he tells us in one of
his reports, "was itself a strange and fearful sight, like what we read
of in beleaguered cities; its streets crowded with gaunt wanderers,
sauntering to and fro with hopeless air and hunger-struck look--a mob of
starved, almost naked women around the poor-house clamouring for
soup-tickets. Our inn, the head-quarters of the road engineer and pay
clerks, beset by a crowd of beggars for work." In another place "the
survivors," he says, "were like walking skeletons--the men gaunt and
haggard, stamped with the livid mark of hunger; the children crying with
pain; the women in some of the cabins too weak to stand. When there
before I had seen cows at almost every cabin, and there were besides
many sheep and pigs owned in the village. But now the sheep were all
gone--all the cows, all the poultry killed--only one pig left; the very
dogs which had barked at me before had disappeared--no potatoes;
no oats."

One more extract more piteous even than the rest: "As we went along our
wonder was not that the people died, but that they lived; and I have no
doubt whatever that in any other country the mortality would have been
far greater; that many lives have been prolonged, perhaps saved, by the
long apprenticeship to want in which the Irish peasant had been trained,
and by that lovely touching charity which prompts him to share his
scanty meal with his starving neighbour."

Of course all this time there was no lack of preventative measures.
Large sums had been voted from the Treasury; stores of Indian corn
introduced; great relief works set on foot. An unfortunate fatality
seemed, however, to clog nearly all these efforts. Either they proved
too late to save life, or in some way or other to be unsuitable to the
exigencies of the case. Individual charity, too, came out upon the most
magnificent scale. All Europe contributed, and English gold was poured
forth without stint or stay. Still the famine raged almost unchecked.
The relief works established by the Government, with the best intentions
possible, too often were devoted to the most curiously useless,
sometimes even to actually harmful, objects. To this day "Famine roads"
may be met with in the middle of snipe bogs, or skirting precipices
where no road was ever wanted or could possibly be used. By the time,
too, they were in full working order the people were, in many cases, too
enfeebled by want and disease to work. For close upon the heels of the
famine followed an epidemic hardly less fatal than itself. In the course
of the two years that it raged over two hundred thousand people are said
to have perished from this cause alone, and three times the number to
have been attacked and permanently enfeebled by it.

In 1849 a Relief Act was passed which established soup kitchens
throughout the unions, where food was to be had gratis by all who
required it. Long before this similar kitchens had been privately set on
foot, and men and women had devoted themselves to the work with untiring
energy and the most absolute self-devotedness. Of these self-appointed
and unpaid workers a large number shared the fate of those whom they
assisted. Indeed, it is one of the most singular features of the time
that not only old, or feeble, or specially sensitive people died, but
strong men, heads of houses--not regarded as by any means specially
soft-hearted--raised, too, by circumstances out of reach of actual
hunger, died--just as O'Connell had died--of sheer distress of mind, and
the effort to cope with what was beyond the power of any human being to
cope with. In the single county of Galway the records of the times
show--as may easily be verified--an extraordinary number of deaths of
this type, a fact which alone goes far to disprove those accusations of
heartlessness and indifference which have in some instances been too
lightly flung.

After the famine followed ruin--a ruin which swept high and low alike
into its net. When the poor rate rose to twenty and twenty-five
shillings in the pound it followed that the distinction between rich and
poor vanished, and there were plenty of instances of men, accounted well
off, who had subscribed liberally to others at the beginning of the
famine, who were themselves seeking relief before the end. The result
was a state of things which has left bitterer traces behind it than even
the famine itself. The smaller type of landowners, who for the most part
had kindly relations with their tenants, were swept away like leaves
before the great storm, their properties fell to their creditors, and
were sold by order of the newly established Encumbered Estates Courts.
No proposing purchaser would have anything to say to estates covered
with a crowd of pauper tenants, and the result was a wholesale
clearance, carried out usually by orders given by strangers at a
distance, and executed too often with a disregard of humanity that it is
frightful to read or to think of. Most of the people thus ejected in the
end emigrated, and that emigration was under the circumstances their
best hope few can reasonably doubt. Even here, however, misfortune
pursued them. Sanitary inspection of emigrant ships was at the time all
but unheard of, and statistics show that the densely crowded condition
of the vessels which took them away produced the most terrible mortality
amongst the already enfeebled people who crowded them, a full fifth of
the steerage passengers in many cases, it is said, dying upon the
voyage, and many more immediately after landing. The result of all this
has been that the inevitable horrors of the time have been deepened and
intensified by a sense of ill-usage, which has left a terrible legacy
behind--one which may prove to be a peril to generations still unborn.
Even where those who emigrated have prospered most, and where they or
their sons are now rich men, they cling with unhappy persistency to the
memory of that wretched past--a memory which the forty years which have
intervened, far from softening, seem, in many cases, to have only lashed
into a yet more passionate bitterness.

In Ireland itself the permanent effects of the disaster differed of
course in different places and with different people, but in one respect
it may be said to have been the same everywhere. Between the Ireland of
the past and the Ireland of the present the Famine lies like a black
stream, all but entirely blotting out and effacing the past. Whole
phases of life, whole types of character, whole modes of existence and
ways of thought passed away then and have never been renewed. The entire
fabric of the country was torn to pieces and has never reformed itself
upon the same lines again. After a while everyday life began again of
course, as it does everywhere all over the world, and in some respects
the struggle for existence has never since been quite so severe or so
prolonged. The lesson of those two terrible years has certainly not been
lost, but like all such lessons it has left deep scars which can never
be healed. Men and women, still alive who remember the famine, look back
across it as we all look back across some personal grief, some
catastrophe which has shattered our lives and made havoc of everything
we cared for. We, too, go on again after a while as if nothing had
happened, yet we know perfectly well all the while that matters are not
the least as they were before; that on the contrary they never can
or will be.



The story of the last forty years must be compressed into a nutshell.
The famine was over at last, but its effects remained. Nearly a million
of people had emigrated, yet the condition of life for those remaining
was far from satisfactory. The Encumbered Estates Act, which had
completed the ruin of many of the older proprietors, pressed, in some
respects, even more severely upon the tenants, a large number of whom
found themselves confronted with new purchasers, who, having invested in
Irish land merely as a speculation, had little other interest in it. In
1850 an attempt at a union of North and South was made, and a Tenant
League Conference assembled in Dublin. Of this league the remnants of
the "Young Ireland" party formed the nucleus, but were supplemented by
others with widely different aims and intentions. Of these others the
two Sadleirs, John and James, Mr. Edmund O'Flaherty, and Mr. William
Keogh, afterwards Judge Keogh, were the most prominent. These with their
adherents constituted the once famous "Brass Band" which for several
years filled Parliament with its noisy declamations, and which posed as
the specially appointed champion of Catholicism. In 1853 several of its
members took office under Lord Aberdeen, but their course was not a long
one. A bank kept in Ireland by the two Sadleirs broke, ruining an
enormous number of people, and on investigation was found to have been
fraudulently conducted from the very beginning. John Sadleir thereupon
killed himself; his brother James was expelled from the House of
Commons, and he and several others implicated in the swindle fled the
country and never reappeared, and so the "Brass Band" broke up, amid the
well-deserved contempt of men of every shade of political opinion.

After this succeeded a prolonged lull. Secret agitations, however, were
still working underground, and as early as 1850 one known as the Phoenix
organization began to collect recruits, although for a long time its
proceedings attracted little or no attention.

In 1859 several of its members were arrested, and it seemed then to die
down and disappear, but some years later it sprang up again with a new
name, and the years 1866 and 1867 were signalized by the Fenian rising,
or to put it with less dignity, the Fenian scare. With the close of the
American War a steady backward stream of Americanized Irishmen had set
in, and a belief that war between England and America was rapidly
approaching had become an article of fervent faith with a large majority
in Ireland. The Fenian plan of operation was a two-headed one. There was
to be a rising in Ireland, and there was to be a raid into Canada across
the American frontier. Little formidable as either project seems now, at
the time they looked serious enough, and had the strained relations then
existing between England and America turned out differently, no one can
say but what they might have become so. The Fenian organization, which
grew out of the earlier Phoenix one, was managed from centres, a man
called Stephens being the person who came most prominently before the
world in the capacity of Head centre. In 1865 Stephens was arrested in
Dublin, but managed to escape not long afterwards from Richmond prison
by the aid of two confederates within its walls. The following May,
1866, a small body of Fenians crossed the Niagara river, but the United
States authorities rigidly enforced the neutrality of the American
frontier, and so the attempt perished. The same spring a rising broke
out in Ireland, but it also was stamped with failure from its onset, and
the famous snowstorm of that year finished the discomfiture of its

Two other Fenian demonstrations, not to mention an abortive project to
seize Chester Castle, were shortly afterwards made in England. In 1867,
some Fenian prisoners were rescued in Manchester, while on their way to
gaol, and in the attempt to burst the lock of the van in which they were
being conveyed a police officer named Brett, who was in charge of it,
was accidentally shot. Five men were found guilty for this offence. One
Macquire was proved to have been arrested by mistake, another Conder had
the sentence commuted, but three--Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien--were hung.

Another Fenian exploit of a somewhat different character followed in
December, 1867, when an attempt was made by some desperados belonging to
the party to blow up the Clerkenwell House of Detention, in which two
Fenian prisoners were then confined. Luckily for them, as it turned out,
they were not in that part of the prison at the time, or the result of
their would-be liberators' efforts would have simply been to kill them.
As it was, twelve other people were either killed on the spot or died
from its effects, and over a hundred were more or less badly wounded.
For this crime six persons were put upon their trial, but only one was
convicted and actually executed.

The next Irish event of any moment stands upon a curiously different
platform, though there were not wanting suggestions that the two had an
indirect connection as cause and effect. In 1868 the Liberal party came
into power after the General Election with Mr. Gladstone as Prime
Minister, and the session of 1869 saw the introduction of a Bill for the
Disestablishment of the Irish Church. The controversies to which that
measure gave rise are already quite out of date, and there is no need
therefore to revive them. Few measures so vehemently opposed have
produced less startling effects in the end. It neither achieved those
great things hoped by its supporters, nor yet brought about the dire
disasters so freely threatened by its opponents. To the Roman Catholics
of Ireland the grievance of an alien State Church had, since the
settlement of the tithe question, lapsed into being little more than a
sentimental one, so that practically the measure affected them little.
As an institution, however, the position of the Irish State Church was
undoubtedly a difficult one to defend, the very same arguments which
tell most forcibly for the State Church of England telling most forcibly
against its numerically feeble Irish sister. Whatever the abstract
rights or wrongs of the case it is pretty clear now that the change must
have come sooner or later, and few therefore can seriously regret that
it came when it did. The struggle was protracted through the entire
session, but in the end passed both Houses of Parliament, and received
the royal assent on July 26, 1869.

It was followed early the following year by the Irish Land Act, which
was introduced into the House of Commons by Mr. Gladstone on February
15, 1870. This Act has been succinctly described as one obliging all
landlords to do what the best landlords did spontaneously, and this
perhaps may be accepted as a fairly accurate account of it. Owing to the
fact of land being practically the only commodity of value, there has
always been in Ireland a tendency to offer far more for it than could
reasonably be hoped to be got in the form of return, and this tendency
has led, especially in the poorest districts and with the smallest
holdings, to a rent being offered and accepted often quite out of
proportion to the actual value of the land, though in few instances do
the very highest rents attainable seem even in these cases to have been
exacted. The Act now proposed was to abolish one passed in 1860 which
had reduced all tenant and landlord transactions in Ireland to simple
matters of free contract, and to interpose the authority of the State
between the two. It legalized what were known as the "Ulster customs;"
awarded compensations for all improvements made by the tenant or his
predecessors, and in case of eviction for any cause except non-payment
of rent a further compensation was to be granted, which might amount to
a sum equal to seven years' rent; it also endeavoured to a partial
extent to establish peasant proprietorship. That it was a conscientious
attempt to deal with a very intricate and perplexing problem may fairly
be conceded, at the same time it has been its misfortune that it proved
satisfactory to neither of the two classes chiefly concerned, being
denounced by the one as the beginning of spoliation, by the other as a
mere worthless, and utterly contemptible attempt at dealing with the
necessities of the case.

A third measure--the Irish Education Act--was proposed the following
session, but as it resulted in failure, was popular with no party, and
failed to pass; it need not be entered into even briefly. 1874 saw a
dissolution of Parliament and a General Election, which resulted in the
defeat of the Liberals, and the return of the Conservatives to office.
Before this, a new Irish constitutional party pledged to the principle
of Home Government, had grown up in the House of Commons, at first under
the leadership of Mr. Butt, afterwards with new aims and widely
different tactics under that of Mr. Parnell. In 1879 an agrarian
movement was set on foot in Ireland, chiefly through the instrumentality
of Mr. Davitt, which has since become so widely known as the Land
League. It was almost immediately joined by the more extreme members of
the Irish Parliamentary party. Meetings were held in all directions, and
an amount of popular enthusiasm aroused which the more purely political
question had never succeeded in awakening. Subscriptions poured in from
America. A season of great scarcity, and in some districts of partial
famine, had produced an unusual amount of distress, and this and the
unsettled state of the Land Question all helped to foster the rising
excitement. The country grew more and more disturbed. Several murders
and a number of agrarian outrages were committed, and the necessity of
strengthening the hands of the executive began to be felt by both the
chief political parties alike.

In 1880 the Liberal party returned to power after the General Election,
and 1881 witnessed the passage through Parliament of two important Irish
measures. The first of these was a Protection of Life and Property Bill
brought in in January by Mr. Forster, then Chief Secretary of Ireland.
As was to be expected, this was vehemently opposed by the Nationalist
members, who retarded it by every means in their power, one famous
sitting of the House on this occasion lasting for forty-two hours, from
five o'clock on the Monday afternoon to nine o'clock on the Wednesday
following, and then only being brought to an end by the authority of the
Speaker. By March, however, the Bill passed, and in the following month,
April 7th, a new Irish Land Act was brought forward by Mr. Gladstone,
and was passed after much opposition the following autumn.

The full scope and purport of this Act it is far beyond the limits of
these few remaining pages to enter upon. Although, to some extent an
outcome of the Act of 1870, it cannot in strictness be called a mere
development or completion of it, being in many respects based upon
entirely new principles. The most salient of these are what are known as
the "three Fs," namely--Fixity of Tenure, Fair Rent, to be decided by a
Land Court, and Free Sale. As regards the last two, it has been pointed
out with some force that the one practically does away with the other,
the only person benefited being the immediate occupier, at whose
departure that fierce competitive desire for the land which is the real
root of the whole difficulty being allowed freer play than ever. With
regard to the first, its effect may be briefly stated as that of
reducing the owner to the position of a rent charger or annuitant upon
what had before been his own estate, thereby depriving him--even where
want of means did not effectually do so--of all desire to expend capital
upon what had henceforth ceased to be his property, and over the
management of which he had almost wholly lost control. That this is a
change of a very large and sweeping character it is needless to say.
Henceforward ownership of land in Ireland is no longer ownership in the
ordinary sense of the word. It is an ownership of two persons instead of
one, and a divided ownership, even where two people work together
harmoniously, is as most of us are aware, a very difficult relationship
to maintain, and is apt to be followed sooner or later by the
effacements of the rights of one or the other. How these diverging
rights are finally to be adjusted is at this moment the problem of
problems in Ireland, and still imperatively awaits solution.

In October of the same year, 1881, Mr. Parnell, Mr. Davitt, and other
principal members of the Land League, were arrested by order of the
Government, and lodged in Kilmainhan gaol, an event announced the same
evening by Mr. Gladstone at the Guildhall banquet. The following May the
Liberal Government resolved however, rather suddenly, to reverse their
previous policy, and the Irish leaders were set at liberty. About the
same time Lord Cowper and Mr. Forster, the Lord-Lieutenant and Chief
Secretary, resigned, and were replaced by Lord Spencer and Lord
Frederick Cavendish, who arrived in Ireland avowedly upon a mission of

The day of their arrival--May 6, 1882--has been made only too memorable
to the whole world by the appalling tragedy which took place the same
evening in the Phoenix Park, where Lord Frederick and Mr. Burke, the
Under Secretary, while walking together in the clear dusk, were murdered
by a party of miscreants, who escaped before any suspicion of what had
occurred had been aroused, even in the minds of those who had actually
witnessed the struggle from a distance. For many months no clue to the
perpetrators of the deed was discoverable, and it seemed to be only too
likely to be added to the long list of crimes for which no retribution
has ever been exacted. Happily for Irish credit this was not the case,
and six months later, in the month of January, 1883, a series of
inquiries carried on in Dublin Castle led to the arrest of no less than
seventeen men, all of whom were lodged in prison and bail for them
refused. Amongst these was a man of somewhat higher social standing than
the rest, a tradesman, and member of the Dublin Council, the notorious
James Carey, who not long afterwards turned Queen's evidence, and it was
mainly through his evidence, supplemented by that of two others, that
the rest of the gang were convicted. At the trial it was proved that the
murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish had formed no part of the original
scheme, and had merely arisen accidentally out of the circumstance of
his having joined Mr. Burke, who, upon the resignation of Mr. Forster,
the Chief Secretary, had been selected by the Invincibles as their next
victim. Conviction was without difficulty obtained against all the
prisoners, and five were shortly afterwards hanged, the remainder
receiving sentence of penal servitude, either for life or long periods.

Carey's own end was a sufficiently dramatic one. He was kept in prison,
as the only way of ensuring his safety until means could be found to get
him out of the country, and was finally shipped some months later to the
Cape. On his way there he was shot dead by a man called O'Donnell, who
appears to have gone out with him for the purpose. His fate could
certainly awaken no pity in the most merciful breast. By his own
confession not only had he to a great degree planned the murder and
helped to draw the others into it, but had actually selected the very
weapon by which it was accomplished, so that of all the miscreants
engaged in the perpetration he was perhaps the deepest dyed and the
most guilty.

Since then, and indeed all along, the struggle in Ireland itself has
been almost wholly an agrarian one. The love of and desire for the land,
rather than for any particular political development, is what there
dominates the situation. A heavy fall of prices has led to a widespread
refusal to pay rent, save at a considerable abatement upon the already
reduced Government valuations. Where this has been refused a deadlock
has set in, rents in many cases have not been paid at all, and eviction
has in consequence been resorted to. Eviction, whether carried out in
West Ireland or East London, is a very ugly necessity, and one, too,
that is indelibly stamped with a taint of inhumanity. At the last
extremity, it is, however, the only one open to any owner, _qua_ owner,
let his political sympathies or proclivities be what they may, so that
it does not necessarily argue any double portion of original sin even on
the part of that well-laden pack-horse of politics--the Irish
landlord--to say that his wits have not so far been equal to the task of
dispensing with it.

Within the last two years only one question has risen to the surface of
politics which gravely affects the destinies of Ireland, but that one is
of so vast and all-important a character that it cannot be evaded. The
question I mean, of course, of Home Rule. Complicated as its issues are,
embittered as the controversy it has awakened, dark still as are its
destinies, its history as a piece of projected, and so far unsuccessful,
legislation has at least the merit of being short and easily stated. In
the month of December, 1885, just after the close of the general
election, it began to be rumoured as forming part of the coming
programme of the Liberal leader. On April 8, 1886, a Bill embodying it
was brought forward in the House of Commons by Mr. Gladstone; upon June
7th, it was rejected upon the second reading by a majority of thirty,
and at the general election which followed was condemned by a large
majority of the constituencies.

And afterwards? What follows? What is its future destined to be? Will it
vanish away, will it pass into new phases, or will some form of it
eventually receive the sanction of the nation? These are Sphinx
questions, which one may be excused from endeavouring to answer, seeing
that the strongest and most far-reaching heads are at this moment intent
upon them--not, so far as can be seen, with any strikingly successful
result. The Future is a deep mine, and we have not yet struck even a
spade into it.

In every controversy, no matter how fierce the waves, how thick the air
with contending assertions, there is almost always, however, some fact,
or some few facts, which seem to rise like rocks out of the turmoil, and
obstinately refuse to be washed or whittled away. The chief of these, in
this case, is the geographical position, or rather juxtaposition, of the
two islands. Set before a stranger to the whole Irish problem--if so
favoured an individual exists upon the habitable globe--a map of the
British islands, and ask him whether it seems to him inevitable that
they should remain for ever united, and we can scarcely doubt that his
reply would be in the affirmative. This being so, we have at least it
will be said one fact, one sea-rock high above the reach of waves or
spray. But Irishmen have been declared by a great and certainly not an
unfavourable critic--Mr. Matthew Arnold--to be "eternal rebels against
the despotism of fact." If this is so--and who upon the Irish side of
the channel can wholly and absolutely deny the assertion?--then our one
poor standing-point is plucked from under our feet, and we are all
abroad upon the waves again. Will Home Rule or would Home Rule, it has
been asked, recognize this fact as one of the immutable ones, or would
it sooner or later incline to think that with a little determination, a
little manipulation, the so-called fact would politely cease to be a
fact at all? It is difficult to say, and until an answer is definitely
received it does not perhaps argue any specially sloth-like clinging to
the known in preference to the unknown to admit that there is for
ordinary minds some slight craning at the fence, some not altogether
unnatural alarm as to the ground that is to be found on the other side
of it. "Well, how do you feel about Home Rule now that it seems to be
really coming?" some one inquired last spring, of an humble but
life-long Nationalist. "'Deed, sir, to tell the truth, I feel as if I'd
been calling for the moon all me life and was told it was coming down
this evening into me back garden!" was the answer. It is not until a
great change is actually on top of us, till the gulf yawns big and black
under our very eyes, that we fully realize what it means or what it may
come to mean. The old state of things, we then begin to say to
ourselves, was really very inconvenient, very trying to all our tempers
and patience, but at least we know the worst of it. Of the untravelled
future we know nothing. It fronts us, with hands folded, smiling
blankly. It may be a great deal better than we expect, but, on the other
hand, it may be worse, and in ways, too, which as yet we hardly foresee.
Whatever else Home Rule may, would, could, or should be, one thing
friends and foes alike may agree to admit, and that is that it will mark
an entirely new departure--a departure so new that no illustration drawn
from the last century, or from any other historical period, is of much
avail in enabling us to picture it to ourselves. It will be no
resumption, no mere continuation of anything that has gone before, but a
perfectly fresh beginning. A beginning, it may be asked, of what?



"Concluded not completed," is the verdict of Carlyle upon one of his
earlier studies, and "concluded not completed," conscience is certainly
apt to mutter at the close of so necessarily inadequate a summary as
this. Much of this inadequacy, it may fairly be confessed, is
individual, yet a certain amount is also inherent in the very nature of
the task itself. In no respect does this inadequacy press with a more
penitential weight than in the case of those heroes whose names spring
up at intervals along our pages, but which are hardly named before the
grim necessities of the case force us onwards, and the hero and his
doings are left behind.

Irish heroes, for one reason or another, have come off, it must be
owned, but poorly before the bar of history. Either their deeds having
been told by those in whose eyes they found a meagre kindness, or else
by others who, with the best intentions possible, have so inflated the
hero's bulk, so pared away his merely human frailties, that little
reality remains, and his bare name is as much as even a well-informed
reader pretends to be acquainted with. Comparing them with what are
certainly their nearest parallels--the heroes and semi-heroes of Scotch
history--the contrast strikes one in an instant, yet there is no reason
in the nature of things that this should be. Putting aside those whose
names have got somewhat obscured by the mists of the past, and putting
aside those nearer to us who stand upon what is still regarded as
debateable ground, there are no lack of Irish names which should be as
familiar to the ear as those of any Bruce or Douglas of them all. The
names of Tyrone, of James Fitzmaurice, of Owen Roe O'Neill, and of
Sarsfield, to take only a few and almost at random, are all those of
gallant men, struggling against dire odds, in causes which, whether they
happen to fit in with our particular sympathies or not, were to them
objects of the purest, most genuine enthusiasm. Yet which of these, with
the doubtful exception of the last, can be said to have yet received
anything like a fair meed of appreciation? To live again in the memory
of those who come after them may not be--let us sincerely hope that it
is not--essential to the happiness of those who are gone, but it is at
least a tribute which the living ought to be called upon to pay, and to
pay moreover ungrudgingly as they hope to have it paid to them in
their turn.

Glancing with this thought in our minds along that lengthened chronicle
here so hastily overrun, many names and many strangely-chequered
destinies rise up one by one before us; come as it were to judgment, to
where we, sitting in state as "Prince Posterity," survey the varied
field, and judge them as in our wisdom we think fit, assigning to this
one praise, to that one blame, to another a judicious admixture of
praise and blame combined. Not, however, it is to be hoped, forgetting
that our place in the same panorama waits for another audience, and that
the turn of this generation has still to come.


       *       *       *       *       *

Adamnan, "Life of St. Columba" (_trans_.).

Arnold (Matthew), "On the Study of Celtic Literature."

Bagwell, "Ireland under the Tudors."

Barrington (Sir Jonah), "Personal Recollections," "Rise and Fall
  of the Irish Nation."

Brewer, "Introduction to the Carew Calendar of State Papers."

Bright (Rt. Hon. J.), "Speeches."

Burke (Edmund), "Tracts on the Popery Laws," "Speeches and Letters."

Carlyle, "Letters and Speeches of Cromwell."

Carew, "Pacata Hibernia."

Cloncurry, "Life and Times of Lord Cloncurry."

Clogy, "Life and Times of Bishop Bedell."

Cornwallis Correspondence.

Croker (Rt. Hon. W.), "Irish, Past and Present."

Davis (Thomas), "Literary and Historical Essays."

Davies (Sir John), "A Discoverie of the True Causes why Ireland was
  never Subdued."

Dennis, "Industrial Ireland."

Domenach (Abbé), "Larerte Erinn."

Dymock (John), "A Treatise on Ireland."

Duffy (Sir Charles Gavin), "Four Years of Irish History."

Essex, "Lives and Letters of the Devereux, Earls of."

Froude (J.A.), "History of England," "The English in Ireland."

Giraldus Cambrensis,
  "Conquest of Ireland," Edited by J. Dimock,
  Master of the Rolls Series, 1867;
  "Topography of Ireland," Edited by J. Dimock,
  Master of the Rolls Series, 1867.
Green, "History of the English People."
Grattan, "Life and Speeches of Rt. Hon. Henry Grattan."

Halliday, "Scandinavian Kingdom of Dublin."
Hennessy (Sir Pope), "Sir Walter Raleigh in Ireland."
Hardiman, "History of Galway."
Howth (Book of), from O'Flaherty's "Iar Connaught."

Joyce, "Celtic Romances."

Kildare (Marquis of), "The Earls of Kildare."

Lodge, "Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica."
Lecky, "History of England in the Eighteenth Century,"
  and "Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland."
Leland, "History of Ireland."
Maine (Sir H.), "Early History of Institutions,"

  "Village Communities, East and West."
Max Müller's Lectures.
M'Gee (T. Darcy), "History of Ireland."
McGeoghegan, "History of Ireland."
Mitchell (John), "History of Ireland."
Montalembert, "Monks of the West."
Murphy (Rev. Denis), "Cromwell in Ireland."
Madden, "History of Irish Periodical Literature."
McCarthy (Justin), "History of Our Own Times."

O'Connor (T.P.), "The Parnell Movement."
O'Flaherty, "Iar Connaught."

Petty (Sir W.), "Political Anatomy of Ireland."
Petrie (Dr.), "Round Towers of Ireland."

Prendergast, "Tory War in Ulster,"
  "The Cromwellian Settlements."

Richey (A.G.), "Lectures on the History of Ireland."

Smith (Goldwin), "Irish History and Irish Character."
Spenser (Edmund), "View of the State of Ireland."
Stokes (Miss), "Early Christian Architecture of Ireland."
Stokes (Professor George), "Ireland and the Celtic Church."

Tone (Wolfe), "Autobiography."

Vere de (Aubrey), "Queen Meave and other Legends of the Heroic Age,"
  and "Legends of St. Patrick,"

Walpole, "Kingdom of Ireland."
Webb (Alfred), "Compendium of Irish Biography."
Wilde (Sir W.), "Lough Corrib,"
  and "The Boyne and the Blackwater."

Young (Arthur), "Tour in Ireland."


Abercromby, Sir Ralph, 359
Act of Supremacy, 152
Act of Uniformity, 278
Adamnan, 43
Adare, 188
Affane, battle of, 183
Aidan (Saint) and Irish monk, 45
Alcansar, battle of, 184
Allen, an Irish priest, 184
Allen, hill of, 14
Allen, John, Archbishop of Dublin, 146
Allen, the Fenian prisoner, 406
Andrews, Dean of Limerick, 237
Angareta, mother of Giraldus, 78
Angelsea, settlement of, 67
Anglo-Norman invasion, 76
Annals of Lough Cè, 109
Anselm (Saint), Archbishop of Canterbury, 81
Arctic hare, the, 4
Ard-Reagh, or Over-king, 91
Ardscul, battle of, 108
Arklow Head, 93
Armagh, Book of, 33
Armagh, cathedral of, burnt by Thorgist, 55
Armdu, a Viking, 68
Arran, isles of, 38
Art McMurrough, or Art Kavanagh, 119;
  master of Leinster, 119;
  has recourse to Black-rent, 123;
  entertained by Richard II., 120;
  knighted, 120;
  thrown into prison, 120;
  released, 120;
  he hastens to Meath, 121;
  defeats the royal army, 121;
  he again meets Richard II. in battle, 121;
  victorious, 123
Ascendency, the Protestant, 307
Ashton, Sir Arthur, a royalist officer, 261
Askeaton, castle of, 187;
  destroyed, 188
Association, Loyal National Repeal, 386
Attainder, Bill of, drawn and passed, 287
Athenry, battle of, 110;
  enfeebled state, 175
Athlone, fortress of, 104, 292
Athy, bridge of, 128
Aughrim, battle of, 293
Augustine (Saint), 44
D'Aguilar, Don Juan, 215
D'Avaux, Count, envoy to James II., 283


_Baculum Cristatum_, or Staff of St. Patrick, 158
Baggotrath, battle of, 260
Bagnall, Sir Henry, 198;
  Tyrone marries his sister, 201;
  becomes his enemy, 201;
  he marches against Tyrone, 204;
  he is shot, 205;
  his army defeated, 205;
  fort of Blackwater surrendered, 205
Ballinasloe, town of, 293
Baltimore, stronghold of pirates,127
Baltinglass, Lord, 189
Bannockburn, battle of, 108;
  its effects on Ireland, 108
Bannow, bay of, or "FitzStephen's stride," 83
Barnabie FitzPatrick, 157
Barries descendants of Nesta, 76
Barri, Robert de, 83
Barrington's Bridge, 107
Barrymore, Lord, 141
Beare O'Sullivan, 215
Bedell, bishop of Kilmore, 245
Beltane, Celtic festival of 1st May, 14
Belgic, colony of, 6
Bellingham, Sir Edward, 162
Belrath, castle of, 141
Ben Edar, now Howth, 17
Benignus, first disciple of St. Patrick, 35
Benturb, battle of, 255
Bermingham, Sir John de, victor of Athenry, 110, 111
Beresford, Chief Commissioner of Customs, 351
Bernard, Saint, of Clairvaux, 81
Betas, Celtic houses of hospitality, 14
Black-rent, use of, 119, 123, 129
Blackwater river, 183;
  battle of, 203
Blaney, Mr., member for Monaghan, 243
Book of Aicill, Aryan law, 25
Book of Armagh, 33
Book of Howth, the, 140
Borough, Lord, deputy, 203
Boulter, Archbishop of Armagh, 304, 320
Boyle, primate, 280
Boyne, battle of the, 288
Bramhall, primate, 277
"Brass Band," 403
Brehons, judges or law makers, 19, 25
Brian Boru, or Boruma, 60, 61;
  he defeats the Danes, 61;
  seizes throne of Cashel, 63;
  over-runs Leinster, 63;
  subdues Ossory, 63;
  attacks Meath, 63;
  burns the stronghold of Tara, 63;
  becomes Ard-Reagh in Malachy's place, 63;
  he is called Brian of the Tribute, 64;
  he becomes master of Ireland, 64;
  his victory at Clontarf, 66;
  he marches against Brodar, 68, 69;
  is killed, 69;
  mourned and buried, 69, 70.
Bridget (Saint), 47;
  sacred fire of, 47
Brodar, a Viking, 66;
  killed Brian, 67
Brown, Archbishop of Meath, 159;
  deprived, 161
Bruce, Edward, in Ireland, 107;
  battle of Bannockburn, 108;
  its effects, 108;
  Bruce lands at Carrickfergus, 108;
  defeats Richard de Burgh, 108;
  defeats Sir Edmund Butler at Ardscul, 108;
  victorious at Kells, 108;
  meets his brother, 108;
  is crowned king, 109;
  devastates the country, 109;
  defeated and killed at Dunkalk, 110
Bruce, King Robert of Scotland, 108
Burren, district of the, in North Clare, 269
Burgh, Sir William FitzAldelm de, 103
Burgundy, Duchess of, 132, 136
Burke, Edmund, 330
Burke, Mr. Thomas, murder of, 411


Calvagh O'Donnell, 167
Camden, Lord (Lord-Lieutenant), 359.
Campion, historian, the, 125
Carew, Sir George, 213, 215, 216, 226
Carew, Sir Peter, 178;
  his atrocities, 178
Carey, James, the informer, 412
Carhampton, Lord, 358
Carle Canuteson, 67
Carlow, 154
Carneg, rock of, 84
Carnot, 355
Catholic Confederacy, 249
Catholic Relief Bill carried, 381
Cashel, Synod of, 92
Castlehaven, 215
Castlereagh, Lord, Chief Secretary, 370
Caulfield, Lord, Governor of Charlemont, 243
Cavan, Lord, 365
Cavendish, Lord Frederick, murdered, 411
Cerd or Nuad of "the Silver hand," 9
Charlemont, Lord, 330
Charles I., accession, 231;
  he sends Strafford to Ireland, 231, 235, 238;
  his death, 279
Chester Castle, attack on, projected, 405
Chesterfield, Lord, Lord-Lieutenant, 344
Claims, Court of, 275
Clan Naim, 17
Clann Dichin, a malediction, 20
Clanricarde, Earl of, 105
Clarence, Lionel, Duke of, 114
Cliach, plains of, 14
Clocthech, round towers of, 56
Clogher, Bishop of, 241
Clonard, town of, 47
Clonmacnois, high altar at, 47
Clonmel, 262
Clontarf, battle of, 71, 74;
  strand of, 66
Clyn, Franciscan historian, 109
Cole, Dean of St. Paul's, story of, 163
Cole, Sir William, Governor of Enniskillen, 243
Coleraine, 243
Colkilla, hill of, 14
Colman, Bishop, 46
Columba (Saint), born, 43;
  his character, 42, 43;
  he leaves Ireland, 43;
  visits Scotland, 43;
  and Iona, 44
Connaught, landowner's case of, 230
Connaught, treaty of, 103
Connemara, anciently Iar Connaught, 8
Conciliation Hall, 386
Confederates, Young Irelanders, 395
Con O'Neill (Earl of Tyrone) 154
Cong, plains of, 7
Conyers, Clifford, Sir, Governor of Connaught, 209
Cooke, Under-Secretary of State, 351
Coote, Sir Charles, 244, 246, 273
Cork, town of, 119
Cormac, MacArt, 23
Cormac O'Conn, King, 11
Cornwallis, Marquis, Lord-Lieutenant, 365
Corrib Lough, 104
Cowper, Lord, 411
"Coyne and livery," 183
Croagh Patrick, mountain of, 34
Crofty, hill of, 247
Crom a Boo, war cry of the Fitzgeralds, 138
Cromwell, Henry, Lord-Lieutenant, 76
Cromwell in Ireland, 261;
  he takes Drogheda, 261;
  Wexford, 262;
  Clonmel, 262;
  his army sickens, 263;
  Ireland under his rule, 264;
  the struggle continues, 264;
  Limerick and Galway yield at last, 264;
  close of civil war, 265;
  his methods, 266;

  Catholic evictions, 267;
  his treatment of Sir Phelim O'Neill, Lord Mayo, and Lord Muskerry, 267;
  his death, 272
Crint, or stringed harp, 52
Cruachan, mountain of, 35
Curragh of Kildare, 14


Danaans, tribe of, 8
Danes, 53
Danes, Dublin, 67
Danes of Limerick, 58-61
Dangen, ancient name of Phillipstown, 162
Dashda, or Druid chieftain, 53
Davis, John, Sir, 95-117;
  he is elected Speaker, 227;
  quarrel which followed, 227, 228
Davis, Thomas (poet), 290
Davitt, Michael, Mr., 409
Declaration of Rights by Grattan, 320
Declaratory, Act of George I., 322
"Defenders," Association of, 345
Delvin, Lord, 191
Dermot McMurrough, King of Leinster, 83
Derry, town of, 171
Desmond, Earl of, taken to London, 176;
  vacillates about rebelling, 185;
  his death, 192
Desmond-Sugane or Straw, Earl of, 200
Dillon, Mr., 391
Donald, Chief of Ossory, 90
Donegal, chapels in, 43
Donore, hill of, 280
Douchad, son of O'Brien, 74.
Dowdal, Archbishop of Armagh, 159
Downpatrick, town of, 99
Drapier Papers by Swift, 317
Drogheda, Parliament of, 138
Drogheda, taken by Cromwell, 261
Dublin Castle, 240;
  plot to seize it, 241;
  frustrated, 242
Dublin, Philosophical Association of, 311
Dublin, Society of, 311
Duffy, Sir Charles Gavin, 390
Dundalk, battle of, 110
Dungannon, Matthew, Baron of, 165
Dunsany, Lord, 247


Edgecombe, Sir Edward, 135
Edward, I., 107
Edward II., 108;
  Battle of Bannockburn, 108
Edward III., 113;
  he summons landowners, 114;
  appoints Lionel, Duke of Clarence, viceroy, 114;
  Statute of Kilkenny is passed, 115
Elizabeth, Queen, 165;
  entertains Shane O'Neill at Court, 68;
  account of his visit, 168;
  Ireland during her reign, 171-172
Emmett, Robert, 376
Emmett, Thomas Addis, 354
Encumbered Estate Court, 400
Enniskillen, town of, 247
Eochaidh king, tale of, 35
Essex, Robert Devereux, Earl of, 206;
  take the command in Ireland, 208;
  proceeds against Tyrone, 208;
  his disasters, 208;
  takes Cahir Castle, 208;
  meets Lugane Earl, 208;
  meets Tyrone at Lagan, 209;
  returns to England, 210
Eva, daughter of Dermot, 86
Everard, Sir John, 227, 228


Falkland, Lord, 231
Famine, the first symptoms of, 96;
  great distress, 397;
  Mr. Forster reports, 397;
  Relief Act passed, 399;
  the ruin which followed it, 400;
  after effects, 403
Fedlim O'Connor, king of Connaught, 108
Fenian prisoners, rescue of, at Manchester, 405
Fenian rising, 401
Fenni or Fenians, II
Fercal, tribes of, 161
Ferns, town of, 83
Finn, McCumal, 14
Finn or Fingal, father of Ossian, 11
Finvarragh, king of the fairies, 21
Firbolgs, race of, 6
Fitton, Sir Edward, 176
Fitzgerald, Lord Edward, 354-359
Fitzgerald, Maurice, 83
Fitzgerald, Mr., member for Clare, 380
Fitzgerald, Raymond (le Gros), 85
Fitzgerald, Sir James, 191
Fitzgerald, Sir John, 191
FitzHenry, Robert and Meiler, sons of Nesta, 76
Fitzmaurice, Lady, 188
Fitzmaurice of Lexnaw, 111
Fitzmaurice, Sir James, 178;
  breaks into rebellion, 178;
  relations between him and Sir James Perrot, 179;
  burns Kilmallock 179;
  marches into Ulster, 179;
  burns Athlone, 179;
  joins the Mac-an-Earlas, 180;
  lays Galway waste, 180;
  crosses the Shannon, 180;
  surrenders and takes the required oaths at Kilmallock, 180;
  sails to France, 180;
  returns, 184;
  his death, 187
Fitzsimons, Walter, Archbishop of Dublin, 137
FitzStephen, Robert, 83
FitzUrse of Louth, 111
Fitzwilliam, Lord, Lord-Lieutenant, 349-350
Fitzwilliam, Sir William, Lord-deputy, 199
Flood, Rt. Hon. Henry, 323
Foltlebar and Feradach, Legends, 16
Formorians, race of, 5
Forster, Mr. W.E., 397
Forty-shilling Freeholders, Bill of, 349
"Four Masters," the annals of the, 9
Foyle, Lough, 165
_Freeman's Journal_, 322
Fuidhar, or "broken man," 28


Gall (Saint), 36
Galway, bay and town of, 104
Galway, Jury of, 247
George, Duke of Clarence, 129
Gerald de Barri, Gerald of Wales, or Giraldus Cambrensis, 78;
  grandson of Nesta, 78;
  priest and chronicler, 78;
  his character as a writer, 78
Gerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, son of Geroit Mor, 130
Gerald of Windsor, husband to Nesta, 76
Geraldines, 101;
  Giraldus' opinion of them, 101;
  ancestors of Earls Kildare and Desmond, 102;
  important position, 102;
  their keep at Maynooth, 102;
  power in Ireland, 102;
  Geroit Mor, or Gerald the Great, 7th Earl of Kildare, 130
Gilbert, Sir Humphry, 179
Gilla Dacker and his horse, legend of, 14
Ginkel, Dutch general of William III., 291
Gladstone, Mr. W.E., 406;
  disestablished the Irish Church, 406;
  introduced Irish Land Act of 1870, 407;
    of 1881, 409;
  imprisoned members of Land League, 411;
  proposed measure of Home Rule of 1886, 414
Glenmama near Dunlaven, 68
Godred, King of Man, 87
Gormanstown, Lord, 249
Granard, Lord Justice, 280
Grattan, Henry, 328;
  his loyalty and patriotism, 328;
  he enters Parliament, 330;
  his eloquence, 330;
  Declaration of Rights, 330;
  retires into private life, 332;
  protests against the Union, 332;
  member of English Parliament, 332;
  his death and burial, 333
"Great Darcy of Platten," 132
Gregory, Pope, 44
Grey, de Wilton, Lord-deputy, 189
Grey, Leonard, Lord, Deputy, 151, 152
Griffiths, Sir Richard, Irish geologist, 312


Habeas Corpus Act, 351
Hadrian IV., Pope, 81
Hamilton, Sir Richard, 282
Harcourt, Lord, 325
Hardi, French General, 365
Harvey, Bagenal, United Irishman and general of the rebels, 363
Hasculph, Danish Governor, 86-87
Hatton, Sir Christopher, "an Undertaker," 194
Heber and Heremon, sons of Milesius, 10
Hoadly, Archbishop of Armagh, 320
Hoche, General, 355
_Hoche_, vessel called the, 365
Home Rule, the question of, 44
Howth, Earl of, 134, 136
Humbert, French general, 364
Hy-Nial, or royal house of O'Neil, 42, 52


Iar Connaught, mountains of, 104
Ireland, Primeval, 1;
  its early vicissitudes, 3;
  South European plants in, 5;
  early history of, 5-11;
  its legends, 13-21;
  Celtic Ireland, 23;
  early laws of, 26-29;
  St. Patrick's visit to, 32;
  the Northern scourge of, 50;
  invasion by Anglo-Normans, 76;
  King John in, 98-100;
  invasion of, by Edward Bruce, 107;
  Richard II. visits to, 119;
  attempt to force Protestantism upon, 158-160;
  Molyneux's, "The case of," &c., 313;
  Union of Great Britain and Ireland, 367-376
Ireland, the future of, 413
"Ireland, Young," party, 390-395
Irish Catholic Association, 407
Irish Celts, 25
Irish Church, disestablishment of, 409
Irish Education Act, 408
Irish elk, 4
Irish export of woollen goods forbidden, 309
Irish famine, 396 403
Irish hare, 4
Irish heroes, 418
Irish Land Act, 407
Irish volunteers, 336-340
Inchiquin, Lord, 256
Iona, 44


James II. recalls Lord Ormond, 280;
  restores Catholics to office, 280;
  his treatment of Protestants, 281-282;
  his flight to France, 282;
  arrives in Ireland, 283;
  his reception, 284;
  besieges Londonderry, 285;
  goes to Dublin, 286;
  is defeated at the battle of the Boyne, 288;
  his flight, 289
John, the Mad Berserker-warrior, 87
Jones, Michael, Colonel, 259
Jones, Paul, pirate, 326
Joyce's, Mr., "Celtic Romances," 13


Kelts, battle of, 99
Keogh, Judge, 403
Kerry, defence of, 215
Kerry, plants and animals in, 5
Kildare, Dean of, 149
Kildare, house of, 102;
  earls of, 130, 134, 150;
  "Silken Thomas," 147;
  vice-deputy, 147;
  renounces allegiance to England, 147;
  takes Dublin, 148;
  burns Trim and Dunboyne, 149;
  is defeated, 150;
  imprisoned and hanged, 150
Kilkea, castle of, 144
Kilkenny, castle of, 105
Kilkenny, statutes of, 115
Killala, Bishop of, 365
Kilmallock burnt, 179:
  church of, 179
Kimbaoth, prince of Milesia, 10
King's County, 52
Kinsale, harbour of, 215
Knights of Glyn, 102;
  of Kerry, 102
Knockmaa, a hill of, 8
Knocktow, battle of, 144;
  cause of, 106


Lacy, Hugo de, viceroy of Henry II., 92
Lagan, ford of, 209
Lalor, James, 393
Lambay, stand of, 55
Lambert, Simnel, 331;
  received in Dublin and crowned, 134;
  defeated at Stoke, 135;
  taken prisoner and appointed turnspit, 135
Land League, the, 409
Land Lepers, 53, 59
Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, 81
Langan, Comte de, 288
Laoghaire, King of Meath, 34
Larkin, Fenian hanged, 406
Lecky's, Mr., "History of the Eighteenth Century," 300
Lee, Captain, 199
Leix, town of, 161
Leland the historian, 10
Liffy river, 87
Lilibullero, anti-Catholic song, 283
Limerick, articles of, 295
Limerick, first siege of, 291
Limerick, treaty of, 295
Limerick, wood and town of, 117
Lindisfarne, peninsula of, 45
Londonderry, siege of, 285
Lovell, Lord, 135
Lucas, Charles, 323
Luinagh Tyrlough, 195
Lundy, governor of Londonderry, 285


Mac-an-Earlas, sons of Clanricarde, 191
Macarthy, Colonel, 288
McCarthy, Dermot, 90
Maccumacthenius, St. Patrick's chronicler, 34
Magan, betrayer of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, 361
Maguire, Lord, 241
Mahon, King of Munster, 61
Malachy or Melachlin, Ard-Reagh, 52
Malby, Sir Nicolas, governor of Connaught, 187
Mananan MacLir, Legend of Gilla Dacker, 17
Marshall, William, Earl of Pembroke, 103
Maryborough anciently Campa, 162
Mary, Queen of England, 163;
  her death, 164
Maynooth, castle of, 102
Mayo, Lord, 267
Mayo mountains, 8
Maxwell, Colonel, 362
McGeoghehan, Abbé, historian, 1
McGillapatrick, Lord of Upper Ossory, 168
McHugh, 191
McMahon, Hugh, chief of Monaghan, 192
McMurrough, Dermot, King of Leinster, 83, 241
McMurrough, son of Dermot, 83
McToole, Sir Owen, 197
McWilliam, Burke of Galway, 154

McWilliam Eighter, and McWilliam Oughter, the Nether
  and Further Burkes, 111
McWilliam of Clanricarde, 142
Meagher, 391
Meath, plains of, 8
Mila de Cogan, Norman governor of Dublin, 87
Milcho chieftain, 3
Milesians or Scoti, 9, 10
Mitchell, John, 391
Molyneux, Thomas, Dr., 311
Molyneux, William, the "Ingenious Molyneux," 311
Montalembert, M. de, 40
Montmorency, Henry de, 85
Mortimer, Roger, viceroy, 110
Mountgarret, Lord, 249
Mountjoy, Charles Blount, 211;
  his character, 211;
  establishes military stations, 213;
  defeats by starvation, 213;
  defeats Tyrone and the Spanish fleet, 216
Moytura, pre-historic battle of the southern, 7
Muckern, or Mulkearn noi, 187
Mullingar, town of, 292
Munroe, General, 255
Murhertach, house of, 74
Murphy, Father John, 362
Murphy, Father Michael, 304


_Nation, The_, newspaper, 390
Neil Grey, 167
Newtown Butler, battle of, 288
Norris, General Sir Henry, 206
Norris, Sir Thomas, 194
Norsmen, or Northmen, or Danes, 7, 53-56

_Northern Star_, newspaper, 358
Nuad, King of the Tuatha-da-Danaans, 7-9


"Oakboys," Society of the, 345
O'Brian, Prince of Thomond, 90
O'Brien, race of, 60
O'Brien, Smith, 391
O'Brien, the Fenian, 406
O'Byrnes, 128
O'Carrol of Argial, 91
O'Connell, Daniel, makes his first speech, 379;
  his energy, 379;
  sets on foot the Irish Catholic Association, 379;
  carries Catholic rent, 380;
  contests the county of Clare, 381;
  his character, 382;
  his efforts to procure repeal, 385;
  his enmity to secret societies, 385;
  founds the Loyal National Repeal Association, 386;
  his prosecution, 387;
  found guilty and imprisoned, 387;
  his last appearance and death, 389
O'Connell, John, 391
O'Connor, Roderick, the Ard-Reagh, 75, 84-91
O'Connors of Connaught, 74
Octennial Bill, the, 325
O'Curry, 53
O'Dogherty, Sir John, 198
O'Donnell, Calvagh, 167
O'Donnell, of Tyrconnel, 167
O'Donnell, Hugh, or Red Hugh, 200.
O'Donnell, murder of Carey, 412
O'Donnell, Rory, 221
O'Donovans, 63
O'Driscoll's piratical clan of West Cork, 27
O'Dynor, Dermot, or Dermot of the Bright Face, 17
O'Flaherty, Edmund, 403
Oilen-an-Oir, or Gold Island, 185
Ollamhs or Sennachies, head bards, 19
O'Lochlin of House of O'Neill, 74
O'Moore, Rory or Roger, 241
O'Neill, Owen, 248
O'Neill, Shane, called the Proud, 165;
  his character, 166;
  his eloquence, habits, and morals, 166;
  his encounter with Sussex, 167;
  his visit to the English Court, 168;
  receives title of Captain of Tyrone, 169;
  returns to Ireland, 169;
  Sussex attempt to poison him, 169;
  his descent on the Scots, 170,
    and on Connaught, 170;
  his last disaster and death, 172, 173
O'Neill, Sir Phelim, 241
O'Neills, or Hy-Nials, 60-74
Orange Lodges, institution of, 345
O'Reilly of Brefny, 167
O'Rorke, chieftain of Connaught, 91
O'Rorke of Brefny, chieftain of Leinster, 91
Ormond, house of, 105-128
Ossian, poet and bard, 11-35
Ossory, clan of, 84
Oswald, King of Northumbria, 44
Oswin, King of Northumbria, 46
O'Toole, Garrot, 191
O'Toole, St. Lawrence, Archbishop of Dublin, 86
Oulart, hill of, 362
Owel, Lough, near Mullingar, 55


Paladius, missionary, 33
Parnell, Mr., 411
Parnell, Sir John, 371
Parsons, Sir William, 242
Patrick (Saint), his birth, 33;
  lands in Ireland, 33;
  visits to Meath and to Connaught, Antrim, and Armagh, 34;
  legends of, by Mr. Aubrey de Vere, 35
"Peep of Day Boys," Society of, 345
Pelham, Sir William, Lord-deputy, 188
Penal Code, the, 300
Perkin Warbeck, 136, 137
Perrot, Sir John, I76-179
Peter's Pence, collection of, 79
Petrie, George, LL.D., 7
Petty, Sir William, his survey of Ireland, 271
Philip II., King of Spain, 183
Phoenix organization, 404
Phoenix Park tragedy, 411
Picts, 53
Pierce, Captain, 173
Plunkett, Dr., Archbishop of Dublin, 279
Portland, Duke of, 350
Poynings' Act, 138
Poynings' Act repealed, 287
Poynings, Sir Edward, 140
Preston, Colonel, 249
Protection of Life and Property Bill, 409


Raleigh, Sir Walter, 190-191
Rents, Black, 17, 123
Rents, Fair Rent and Free Sale, 410
Rents, Rack, 28
Rents, Stipulated, 28
Ribbon Association, 385
Richard II. lands at Waterford, 119;
  his meeting with Art McMurrough, 119;
  entertains the chiefs, 120;
  receives their oaths of allegiance, 120;
  returns to Ireland, 122;
  encounters Art McMurrough, 122;
  leaves Ireland, 123
Rupert, Prince, 259;
  his arrival at Kinsale, 259


Sadleirs, John and James, 403
Sanim Celtic Festival (November 1st), 14
Sarsfield, Patrick, 280
Saunders, Pope's Legate, 184
Schomberg, Duke of, 288
Schwartz, Martin, Dutch General, 135
Scoti, tribes of the, 9
Scullabogue, barn of, 363
Sebastian, King of Portugal, killed at the battle of Alcansar, 184
Senchus Mor, ancient law-book, 25, 28
Shannon, Lord, 322
Shannon, river, 91
Sheil, Richard Lalor, 379
Sidney, Henry, Sir, 174;
  becomes Lord-deputy, 174;
  appoints presidents in the provinces, 176;
  his scheme for reducing expenses, 177;
  his visits to Munster and Connaught, 179
Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, 66
Silvermine hills of Tipperary, 291
Simon, priest and tutor to Lambert Simnel, 135
Sitric, a Viking, 67
Skeffington, Sir William, 148
Slemish mountains, 33
Sligo, town of, 254
Smerwick, town of, 185
Somerset, Edward Earl of Glamorgan, 254
South European Plants in Ireland, 5
Southern Moytura, 7
Spanish Armada, 197
Spenser, Edmund, poet, 190
Stanihurst, historian, the, 131
Steel boys, Society of, 345
St. John, Sir Oliver, deputy, 231
St. Leger, Sir Wareham, "Undertaker," 194
St. Ruth, General, 292
Stephen, Head Fenian centre, 405
Stokes, battle of, 135
Stokes, Miss Margaret, 312
Stone, Archbishop of Armagh, 320
Strafford, Wentworth, in Ireland, 232;
  orders subsidy of £100,000, 234;
  he overawes the juries, 234;
  his character, 235;
  his suppression of the woollen trade, 235;
  founds the linen trade, 235;
  clears the sea of pirates, 235;
  sets a Court of High Commission to work, 237;
  his treatment of Archbishop Ussher, 237;
  his account of his dealings with Convocation, 237;
  his return to England, 239;
  tried for treason, condemned, and executed, 239;
  effect of his death in Ireland, 239
Strangford Lough, 33
Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, 82;
  his marriage with Eva, 86;
  takes Waterford, 86;
  is besieged in Dublin, 87;
  flees to Waterford, 88;
  thence to England, 88;
  meets Henry, 88;
  and returns to Ireland, 89
Stukeley, Thomas, Sir, 170, 184
Sulcost, battle of, 61
Surrey, Earl of, deputy, 145
Swift, Jonathan, Dean of St. Patrick's, 315;
  his character, 315;
  his Drapier Papers, 317;
  his attack on Wood's patent, 315;
  his popularity, 319
Swords in Meath, 247


Talbot, Richard, Earl of Tyrconnel, 208
Tanist laws of succession, 27
Tara in Meath, 63;
  battle of, 63
Tenant League Confederation, 403
Tenure, Fixity of, 410
Thomond, Lady, 303
Thomond, Lord, 247
Tower, the "Tower Earl" of Desmond, 192
Townshend, Lord, 325
Towton, battle of, 129
Tuam, Archbishop of, 254
Tuatha-da-Danaans, race of, 7
Turgesius or Thorgist, 55
Turlough, grandson of Brian, 82
Tyrconnel, Lady, 289
Tyrconnel, Richard, Earl of, 280
Tyrconnel, Rory O'Donnell, Earl of, 221
Tyrone, Hugh O'Neill, Earl of, 199;
  receives his title from Elizabeth, 199;
  contrasted with Shane, 199;
  his religious views, 200;
  arbitrary arrest of his brother-in-law, 200;
  marries Bagnall's sister, 201;
  prepares for rebellion, 202;
  assumes the title of the O'Neill, 202;
  is victorious over Bagnall, 205;
  meets Essex at Lagan, 209;
  struggle with Mountjoy, 214;
  he hurries south to meet the Spaniards, 215;
  encounters Mountjoy and is defeated, 216;
  reported plot against England, 220;
  flies the country, 221;
  dies in exile, 222


Union, Pitt's plan of, 268
Union, the, 367
_United Irishmen_ newspaper, 394
United Irishmen, the Society of, 386
Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, 163;
  treatment of by Strafford, 237


Vere, Aubrey de, Mr., Legends of St. Patrick, 35
Vinegar Hill, 363
Volunteers, Irish, the, 334-340


Ware Papers, 163
Waterford, town of, 262;
  defence of, 86;
  Danes of, 85;
  Richard II. lands at, 122
Wexford, town of, 83;
  castle of, 87;
  siege by Cromwell, 262
Whitby, Synod of, 46
Whiteboys, outrages of, 342-344
Wicklow, landing of St. Patrick in, 33
William of Orange in Ireland, 288;
  he lands at Carrickfergus, 288;
  meets James's army, is victorious at the battle of the Boyne, 289;
  offers free pardon, 290;
  besieges Limerick, 291;
  his evidence about the treaty of Limerick, 296
Willoughby, Sir Francis, Governor of Dublin, 246
Winter, Admiral, 187
Wolfe, Tone, 354;
  leader of United Irishmen, 354;
  meets Lord Edward Fitzgerald in Paris, 355;
  his scheme of descent, 355;
  descent fails, 357;
  a fresh attempt, 358;
  again fails, 361;
  is arrested on board the _Hoche_, 361;
  condemned and dies in prison, 366
Wood, patentee of halfpence, 317


Yellow Ford, battle of the, 203
"Young Ireland," party of, 388, 390

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