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Title: A Popular History of Ireland : from the Earliest Period to the Emancipation of the Catholics — Volume 1
Author: McGee, Thomas D'Arcy
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "A Popular History of Ireland : from the Earliest Period to the Emancipation of the Catholics — Volume 1" ***

A Popular History of Ireland: from the Earliest
Period to the Emancipation of the Catholics

by Thomas D'Arcy McGee

In Two Volumes

Volume I


Ireland, lifting herself from the dust, drying her tears,
and proudly demanding her legitimate place among the
nations of the earth, is a spectacle to cause immense
progress in political philosophy.

Behold a nation whose fame had spread over all the earth
ere the flag of England had come into existence. For 500
years her life has been apparently extinguished. The
fiercest whirlwind of oppression that ever in the wrath
of God was poured upon the children of disobedience had
swept over her. She was an object of scorn and contempt
to her subjugator. Only at times were there any signs of
life--an occasional meteor flash that told of her olden
spirit--of her deathless race. Degraded and apathetic as
this nation of Helots was, it is not strange that political
philosophy, at all times too Sadducean in its principles,
should ask, with a sneer, "Could these dry bones live?"
The fulness of time has come, and with one gallant sunward
bound the "old land" comes forth into the political day
to teach these lessons, that Right must always conquer
Might in the end--that by a compensating principle in
the nature of things, Repression creates slowly, but
certainly, a force for its overthrow.

Had it been possible to kill the Irish Nation, it had
long since ceased to exist. But the transmitted qualities
of her glorious children, who were giants in intellect,
virtue, and arms for 1500 years before Alfred the Saxon
sent the youth of his country to Ireland in search of
knowledge with which to civilize his people,--the legends,
songs, and dim traditions of this glorious era, and the
irrepressible piety, sparkling wit, and dauntless courage
of her people, have at last brought her forth like.
Lazarus from the tomb. True, the garb of the prison or
the cerements of the grave may be hanging upon her,
but "loose her and let her go" is the wise policy of
those in whose hands are her present destinies.

A nation with such a strange history must have some great
work yet to do in the world. Except the Jews, no people
has so suffered without dying.

The History of Ireland is the most interesting of records,
and the least known. The Publishers of this edition of
D'Arcy McGee's excellent and impartial work take advantage
of the awakening interest in Irish literature to present
to the public a book of _high-class history_, as
cheap as _largely circulating romance_. A sale as
large as that of a popular romance is, therefore, necessary
to pay the speculation. That sale the Publishers expect.
Indeed, as truth is often stranger than fiction, so Irish
history is more romantic than romance. How Queen Scota
unfurled the Sacred Banner. How Brian and Malachy contended
for empire. How the "Pirate of the North" scourged the
Irish coast. The glories of Tara and the piety of Columba.
The cowardice of James and the courage of Sarsfield. How
Dathi, the fearless, sounded the Irish war-cry in far
Alpine passes, and how the Geraldine forayed Leinster.
The deeds of O'Neil and O'Donnell. The march of Cromwell,
the destroying angel. Ireland's sun sinking in dim eclipse.
The dark night of woe in Erin for a hundred years.
'83--'98--'48--'68. Ireland's sun rising in glory. Surely
the Youth of Ireland will find in their country's records
romance enough!

The English and Scotch are well read in the histories of
their country. The Irish are, unfortunately, not so; and
yet, what is English or Scottish history to compare with
Irish? Ireland was a land of saints and scholars when
Britons were painted savages. Wise and noble laws, based
upon the spirit of Christianity, were administered in
Erin, and valuable books were written ere the Britons
were as far advanced in civilization as the Blackfeet
Indians. In morals and intellect, in Christianity and
civilization, in arms, art, and science, Ireland shone
like a star among the nations when darkness enshrouded
the world. And she nobly sustained civilization and
religion by her missionaries and scholars. The libraries
and archives of Europe contain the records of their piety
and learning. Indeed the echoes have scarcely yet ceased
to sound upon our ears, of the mighty march of her armed
children over the war-fields of Europe, during that
terrible time when England's cruel law, intended to
destroy the spirit of a martial race, precipitated an
armed torrent of nearly 500,000 of the flower of the
Irish youth into foreign service. Irish steel glittered
in the front rank of the most desperate conflicts, and
more than once the ranks of England went down before "the
Exiles," in just punishment for her terrible penal code
which excluded the Irish soldier from his country's

It was the Author's wish to educate his countrymen in
their national records. If by issuing a cheap edition
the present Publishers carry out to any extent that wish,
it will be to them a source of satisfaction.

It is impossible to conclude this Preface without an
expression of regret at the dark and terrible fate which
overtook the high-minded, patriotic, and distinguished
Irishman, Thomas D'Arcy McGee. He was a man who loved
his country well; and when the contemptible squabbles
and paltry dissensions of the present have passed away,
his name will be a hallowed memory, like that of Emmet
or Fitzgerald, to inspire men with high, ideals of
patriotism and devotion.


[Note: From 1857 until his death, McGee was active in
Canadian politics. A gifted speaker and strong supporter
of Confederation, he is regarded as one of Canada's
fathers of Confederation. On April 7, 1868, after
attending a late-night session in the House of Commons,
he was shot and killed as he returned to his rooming
house on Sparks Street in Ottawa. It is generally believed
that McGee was the victim of a Fenian plot. Patrick
James Whelan was convicted and hanged for the crime,
however the evidence implicating him was later seen to
be suspect.]



CHAPTER    I.--The First Inhabitants

CHAPTER   II.--The First Ages

CHAPTER  III.--Christianity Preached at Tara--The Result

CHAPTER   IV.--The Constitution, and how the Kings kept it

CHAPTER    V.--Reign of Hugh II.--The Irish Colony in
               Scotland obtains its Independence

CHAPTER   VI.--Kings of the Seventh Century

CHAPTER  VII.--Kings of the Eighth Century

CHAPTER VIII.--What the Irish Schools and Saints did in the
               Three First Christian Centuries


CHAPTER    I.--The Danish Invasion

CHAPTER   II.--Kings of the Ninth Century (Continued)--
               Nial III.--Malachy I.--Hugh VII

CHAPTER  III.--Reign of Flan "of the Shannon" (A.D. 879
               to 916)

CHAPTER   IV.--Kings of the Tenth Century--Nial IV.--
               Donogh II.--Congal III.--Donald IV

CHAPTER    V.--Reign of Malachy II. and Rivalry of Brian

CHAPTER   VI.--Brian, Ard-Righ--Battle of Clontarf

CHAPTER  VII.--Effects of the Rivalry of Brian and Malachy
               on the Ancient Constitution

CHAPTER VIII.--Latter Days of the Northmen in Ireland


CHAPTER    I.--The Fortunes of the Family of Brian

CHAPTER   II.--The Contest between the North and South--
               Rise of the Family of O'Conor

CHAPTER  III.--Thorlogh More O'Conor--Murkertach of
               Aileach--Accession of Roderick O'Conor

CHAPTER   IV.--State of Religion and Learning among the
              Irish previous to the Anglo-Norman Invasion

CHAPTER    V.--Social Condition of the Irish previous to
              the Norman Invasion

CHAPTER   VI.--Foreign Relations of the Irish previous to
              the Anglo-Norman Invasion


CHAPTER    I.--Dermid McMurrogh's Negotiations and Success--
               The First Expedition of the Normans into

CHAPTER   II.--The Arms, Armour and Tactics of the Normans
               and Irish

CHAPTER  III.--The First Campaign of Earl Richard--Siege
               of Dublin--Death of King Dermid McMurrogh

CHAPTER   IV.--Second Campaign of Earl Richard--Henry II.
               in Ireland

CHAPTER    V.--From the Return of Henry II. to England
               till the Death of Earl Richard and his
               principal Companions

CHAPTER   VI.--The Last Years of the Ard-Righ, Roderick

CHAPTER  VII.--Assassination of Hugh de Lacy--John
               "Lackland" in Ireland--Various Expeditions
               of John de Courcy--Death of Conor Moinmoy,
               and Rise of Cathal, "the Red-Handed"
               O'Conor--Close of the Career of De Courcy
               and De Burgh

CHAPTER VIII.--Events of the Thirteenth Century--The
               Normans in Connaught

CHAPTER   IX.--Events of the Thirteenth Century--The
               Normans in Munster and Leinster

CHAPTER    X.--Events of the Thirteenth Century--The
               Normans in Meath and Ulster

CHAPTER   XI.--Retrospect of the Norman Period in
               Ireland--A Glance at the Military Tactics
               of the Times--No Conquest of the Country
               in the Thirteenth Century

CHAPTER  XII.--State of Society and Learning in Ireland
               during the Norman Period


CHAPTER    I.--The Rise of "the Red Earl"--Relations of
               Ireland and Scotland

CHAPTER   II.--The Northern Irish enter into Alliance with
               King Robert Bruce--Arrival and First Campaign
               of Edward Bruce

CHAPTER  III.--Bruce's Second Campaign and Coronation at
               Dundalk--The Rising in Connaught--Battle of
               Athenry--Robert Bruce in Ireland

CHAPTER   IV.--Battle of Faughard and Death of King Edward
               Bruce--Consequences of his Invasion--
               Extinction of the Earldom of Ulster--Irish
               Opinion of Edward Bruce


CHAPTER    I.--Civil War in England--Its Effects on the
               Anglo-Irish--The Knights of St. John--
               General Desire of the Anglo-Irish to
               Naturalize themselves among the Native
               Population--A Policy of Non-Intercourse
               between the Races Resolved on in England

CHAPTER   II.--Lionel, Duke of Clarence, Lord Lieutenant--
               The Penal Code of Race--"The Statute of
               Kilkenny," and some of its Consequences

CHAPTER  III.--Art McMurrogh, Lord of Leinster--First
               Expedition of Richard II. of England to

CHAPTER   IV.--Subsequent Proceedings of Richard II.--
               Lieutenancy and Death of the Earl of March--
               Second Expedition of Richard against Art
               McMurrogh--Change of Dynasty in England

CHAPTER    V.--Parties within "the Pale"--Battles of
               Kilmainham and Killucan--Sir John Talbot's
               Lord Lieutenancy

CHAPTER   VI.--Acts of the Native Princes--Subdivision of
               Tribes and Territories--Anglo-Irish Towns
               under Native Protection--Attempt of
               Thaddeus O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, to
               Restore the Monarchy--Relations of the
               Races in the Fifteenth Century

CHAPTER  VII.--Continued Division and Decline of "the
               English Interest"--Richard, Duke of York,
               Lord Lieutenant--Civil War again in England--
               Execution of the Earl of Desmond--
               Ascendancy of the Kildare Geraldines

CHAPTER VIII.--The Age and Rule of Gerald, Eighth Earl of
               Kildare--The Tide begins to turn for the
               English Interest--The Yorkist Pretenders,
               Simnel and Warbeck--Poyning's Parliament--
               Battles of Knockdoe and Monabraher

CHAPTER   IX.--State of Irish and Anglo--Irish Society
               during the Fourteenth and Fifteenth

CHAPTER    X.--State of Religion and Learning during the
               Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries


CHAPTER    I.--Irish Policy of Henry the Eighth during
               the Lifetime of Cardinal Wolsey

CHAPTER   II.--The Insurrection of Silken Thomas--The
               Geraldine League--Administration of Lord
               Leonard Gray

CHAPTER  III.--Sir Anthony St. Leger, Lord Deputy--
               Negotiations of the Irish Chiefs with
               James the Fifth of Scotland--First Attempts
               to Introduce the Protestant Reformation--
               Opposition of the Clergy--Parliament of
               1541--The Protectors of the Clergy
               Excluded--State of the Country--The Crowns
               United-Henry the Eighth Proclaimed at
               London and Dublin

CHAPTER   IV.--Adhesion of O'Neil, O'Donnell, and O'Brien--
               A new Anglo-Irish Peerage--New Relations
               of Lord and Tenant--Bishops appointed by
               the Crown--Retrospect


CHAPTER    I.--Events of the Reign of Edward Sixth

CHAPTER   II.--Events of the Reign of Philip and Mary

CHAPTER  III.--Accession of Queen Elizabeth--Parliament of
               1560--The Act of Uniformity--Career and
               Death of John O'Neil "the Proud"





Ireland is situated in the North Atlantic, between the
degrees fifty-one and a half and fifty-five and a half
North, and five and a quarter and ten and a third West
longitude from Greenwich. It is the last land usually
seen by ships leaving the Old World, and the first by
those who arrive there from the Northern ports of America.
In size it is less than half as large as Britain, and in
shape it may be compared to one of those shields which
we see in coats-of-arms, the four Provinces--Ulster,
Connaught, Leinster, and Munster--representing the four
quarters of the shield.

Around the borders of the country, generally near the
coast, several ranges of hills and mountains rear their
crests, every Province having one or more such groups.
The West and South have, however, the largest and highest
of these hills, from the sides of all which descend
numerous rivers, flowing in various directions to the
sea. Other rivers issue out of large lakes formed in the
valleys, such as the Galway river which drains Lough
Corrib, and the Bann which carries off the surplus waters
of Lough Neagh (_Nay_). In a few districts where
the fall for water is insufficient, marshes and swamps
were long ago formed, of which the principal one occupies
nearly 240,000 acres in the very heart of the country.
It is called "the Bog of Alien," and, though quite useless
for farming purposes, still serves to supply the surrounding
district with fuel, nearly as well as coal mines do in
other countries.

In former times, Ireland was as well wooded as watered,
though hardly a tree of the primitive forest now remains.
One of the earliest names applied to it was "the wooded
Island," and the export of timber and staves, as well as
of the furs of wild animals, continued, until the beginning
of the seventeenth century, to be a thriving branch of
trade. But in a succession of civil and religious wars,
the axe and the torch have done their work of destruction,
so that the age of most of the wood now standing does
not date above two or three generations back.

Who were the first inhabitants of this Island, it is
impossible to say, but we know it was inhabited at a very
early period of the world's lifetime--probably as early
as the time when Solomon the Wise, sat in Jerusalem on
the throne of his father David. As we should not altogether
reject, though neither are we bound to believe, the wild
and uncertain traditions of which we have neither
documentary nor monumental evidence, we will glance over
rapidly what the old Bards and Story-tellers have handed
down to us concerning Ireland before it became Christian.

The _first_ story they tell is, that about three hundred
years after the Universal Deluge, Partholan, of the stock
of Japhet, sailed down the Mediterranean, "leaving Spain
on the right hand," and holding bravely on his course,
reached the shores of the wooded western Island. This
Partholan, they tell us, was a double parricide, having
killed his father and mother before leaving his native
country, for which horrible crimes, as the Bards very
morally conclude, his posterity were fated never to
possess the land. After a long interval, and when they
were greatly increased in numbers, they were cut off to
the last man, by a dreadful pestilence.

The story of the _second_ immigration is almost as vague
as that of the first. The leader this tune is called
Nemedh, and his route is described as leading from the
shores of the Black Sea, across what is now Russia in
Europe, to the Baltic Sea, and from the Baltic to Ireland.
He is said to have built two royal forts, and to have
"cleared twelve plains of wood" while in Ireland. He
and his posterity were constantly at war, with a terrible
race of Formorians, or Sea Kings, descendants of Ham,
who had fled from northern Africa to the western islands
for refuge from their enemies, the sons of Shem. At length
the Formorians prevailed, and the children of the second
immigration were either slain or driven into exile, from
which some of their posterity returned long afterwards,
and again disputed the country, under two different

The _Firbolgs_ or Belgae are the _third_ immigration.
They were victorious under their chiefs, the five sons
of Dela, and divided the island into five portions. But
they lived in days when the earth--the known parts of it
at least--was being eagerly scrambled for by the overflowing
hosts of Asia, and they were not long left in undisputed
possession of so tempting a prize. Another expedition,
claiming descent from the common ancestor, Nemedh, arrived
to contest their supremacy. These last--the _fourth_
immigration--are depicted to us as accomplished soothsayers
and necromancers who came out of Greece. They could quell
storms; cure diseases; work in metals; foretell future
events; forge magical weapons; and raise the dead to
life; they are called the _Tuatha de Danans_, and by
their supernatural power, as well as by virtue of "the
Lia Fail," or fabled "stone of destiny," they subdued
their Belgic kinsmen, and exercised sovereignty over
them, till they in turn were displaced by the Gaelic, or
_fifth_ immigration.

This fifth and final colony called themselves alternately,
or at different periods of their history, _Gael_, from
one of their remote ancestors; _Milesians_, from the
immediate projector of their emigration; or _Scoti_, from
Scota, the mother of Milesius. They came from Spain
under the leadership of the sons of Milesius, whom they
had lost during their temporary sojourn in that country.
In vain the skilful _Tuatha_ surrounded themselves and
their coveted island with magic-made tempest and terrors;
in vain they reduced it in size so as to be almost
invisible from sea; Amergin, one of the sons of Milesius,
was a Druid skilled in all the arts of the east, and led
by his wise counsels, his brothers countermined the
magicians, and beat them at their own weapons. This
Amergin was, according to universal usage in ancient
times, at once Poet, Priest, and Prophet; yet when his
warlike brethren divided the island between them, they
left the Poet out of reckoning. He was finally drowned
in the waters of the river Avoca, which is probably the
reason why that river has been so suggestive of melody
and song ever since.

Such are the stories told of the _five_ successive hordes
of adventurers who first attempted to colonize our wooded
Island. Whatever moiety of truth may be mixed up with
so many fictions, two things are certain, that long before
the time when our Lord and Saviour came upon earth, the
coasts and harbours of Erin were known to the merchants
of the Mediterranean, and that from the first to the
fifth Christian century, the warriors of the wooded Isle
made inroads on the Roman power in Britain and even in
Gaul. Agricola, the Roman governor of Britain in the
reign of Domitian--the first century--retained an Irish
chieftain about his person, and we are told by his
biographer that an invasion of Ireland was talked of at
Rome. But it never took place; the Roman eagles, although
supreme for four centuries in Britain, never crossed the
Irish Sea; and we are thus deprived of those Latin helps
to our early history, which are so valuable in the first
period of the histories of every western country, with
which the Romans had anything to do.



Since we have no Roman accounts of the form of government
or state of society in ancient Erin, we must only depend
on the Bards and Story-tellers, so far as their statements
are credible and agree with each other. On certain main
points they do agree, and these are the points which it
seems reasonable for us to take on their authority.

As even brothers born of the same mother, coming suddenly
into possession of a prize, will struggle to see who can
get the largest share, so we find in those first ages a
constant succession of armed struggles for power. The
petty Princes who divided the Island between them were
called _Righ_, a word which answers to the Latin _Rex_
and French _Roi_; and the chief king or monarch was called
_Ard-Righ_, or High-King. The eldest nephew, or son of
the king, was the usual heir of power, and was called
the _Tanist_, or successor; although any of the family
of the Prince, his brothers, cousins, or other kinsmen,
might be chosen _Tanist_, by election of the people over
whom he was to rule. One certain cause of exclusion was
personal deformity; for if a Prince was born lame or a
hunchback, or if he lost a limb by accident, he was
declared unfit to govern. Even after succession, any
serious accident entailed deposition, though we find the
names of several Princes who managed to evade or escape
this singular penalty. It will be observed besides of
the _Tanist_, that the habit of appointing him seems to
have been less a law than a custom; that it was not
universal in all the Provinces; that in some tribes the
succession alternated between a double line of Princes;
and that sometimes when the reigning Prince obtained the
nomination of a _Tanist_, to please himself, the choice
was set aside by the public voice of the clansmen. The
successor to the Ard-Righ, or Monarch, instead of being
simply called _Tanist_, had the more sounding title of
_Roydamna_, or King-successor.

The chief offices about the Kings, in the first ages,
were all filled by the Druids, or Pagan Priests; the
_Brehons_, or Judges, were usually Druids, as were also
the _Bards_, the historians of their patrons. Then came
the Physicians; the Chiefs who paid tribute or received
annual gifts from the Sovereigns, or Princes; the royal
stewards; and the military leaders or Champions, who,
like the knights of the middle ages, held their lands
and their rank at court, by the tenure of the sword. Like
the feudal _Dukes_ of Prance, and _Barons_ of England,
these military nobles often proved too powerful for their
nominal patrons, and made them experience all the
uncertainty of reciprocal dependence. The Champions play
an important part in all the early legends. Wherever
there is trouble you are sure to find them. Their most
celebrated divisions were the warriors of the _Red
Branch_--that is to say, the Militia of Ulster; the
_Fiann_, or Militia of Leinster, sometimes the royal
guard of Tara, at others in exile and disgrace; the
_Clan-Degaid_ of Munster, and the _Fiann_ of Connaught.
The last force was largely recruited from the Belgic race
who had been squeezed into that western province, by
their Milesian conquerors, pretty much as Cromwell
endeavoured to force the Milesian Irish into it, many
hundred years afterwards. Each of these bands had its
special heroes; its Godfreys and Orlandos celebrated in
song; the most famous name in Ulster was Cuchullin: so
called from _cu_, a hound, or watch-dog, and _Ullin_,
the ancient name of his province. He lived at the dawn
of the Christian era. Of equal fame was Finn, the father
of Ossian, and the Fingal of modern fiction, who flourished
in the latter half of the second century. Gall, son of
Morna, the hero of Connaught (one of the few distinguished
men of Belgic origin whom we hear of through the Milesian
bards), flourished a generation earlier than Finn, and
might fairly compete with him in celebrity, if he had
only had an Ossian to sing his praises.

The political boundaries of different tribes expanded or
contracted with their good or ill fortune in battle.
Immigration often followed defeat, so that a clan, or
its offshoot is found at one period on one part of the
map and again on another. As _surnames_ were not generally
used either in Ireland or anywhere else, till after the
tenth century, the great families are distinguishable at
first, only by their tribe or clan names. Thus at the
north we have the Hy-Nial race; in the south the Eugenian
race, so called from Nial and Eoghan, their mutual

We have already compared the shape of Erin to a shield,
in which the four Provinces represented the four quarters.
Some shields have also _bosses_ or centre-pieces, and
the federal province of MEATH was the _boss_ of the old
Irish shield. The ancient Meath included both the present
counties of that name, stretching south to the Liffey,
and north to Armagh. It was the mensal demesne, or "board
of the king's table:" it was exempt from all taxes, except
those of the Ard-Righ, and its relations to the other
Provinces may be vaguely compared to those of the District
of Columbia to the several States of the North American
Union. ULSTER might then be defined by a line drawn from
Sligo Harbour to the mouth of the Boyne, the line being
notched here and there by the royal demesne of Meath;
LEINSTER stretched south from Dublin triangle-wise to
Waterford Harbour, but its inland line, towards the west,
was never very well defined, and this led to constant
border wars with Munster; the remainder of the south to
the mouth of the Shannon composed MUNSTER; the present
county of Clare and all west of the Shannon north to
Sligo, and part of Cavan, going with CONNAUGHT. The chief
seats of power, in those several divisions, were TARA,
for federal purposes; EMANIA, near Armagh, for Ulster;
LEIGHLIN, for Leinster; CASHEL, for Munster; and CRUCHAIN,
(now Rathcrogan, in Roscommon,) for Connaught.

How the common people lived within these external divisions
of power it is not so easy to describe. All histories
tell us a great deal of kings, and battles, and
conspiracies, but very little of the daily domestic life
of the people. In this respect the history of Erin is
much the same as the rest; but some leading facts we do
know. Their religion, in Pagan times, was what the moderns
call _Druidism_, but what they called it themselves we
now know not. It was probably the same religion anciently
professed by Tyre and Sidon, by Carthage and her colonies
in Spain; the same religion which the Romans have described
as existing in great part of Gaul, and by their accounts,
we learn the awful fact, that it sanctioned, nay, demanded,
human sacrifices. From the few traces of its doctrines
which Christian zeal has permitted to survive in the old
Irish language, we see that _Belus_ or "Crom," the god
of fire, typified by the sun, was its chief divinity--that
two great festivals were held in his honour on days
answering to the first of May and last of October. There
were also particular gods of poets, champions, artificers
and mariners, just as among the Romans and Greeks. Sacred
groves were dedicated to these gods; Priests and Priestesses
devoted their lives to their service; the arms of the
champion, and the person of the king were charmed by
them; neither peace nor war was made without their
sanction; their own persons and their pupils were held
sacred; the high place at the king's right hand and the
best fruits of the earth and the waters were theirs. Old
age revered them, women worshipped them, warriors paid
court to them, youth trembled before them, princes and
chieftains regarded them as elder brethren. So numerous
were they in Erin, and so celebrated, that the altars of
Britain and western Gaul, left desolate by the Roman
legions, were often served by hierophants from Erin,
which, even in those Pagan days, was known to all the
Druidic countries as the "Sacred Island." Besides the
princes, the warriors, and the Druids, (who were also
the Physicians, Bards and Brehons of the first ages,)
there were innumerable petty chiefs, all laying claim to
noble birth and blood. They may be said with the warriors
and priests to be the only freemen. The _Bruais_, or
farmers, though possessing certain legal rights, were an
inferior caste; while of the Artisans, the smiths and
armorers only seem to have been of much consideration.
The builders of those mysterious round towers, of which
a hundred ruins yet remain, may also have been a privileged
order. But the mill and the loom were servile occupations,
left altogether to slaves taken in battle, or purchased
in the market-places of Britain. The task of the herdsman,
like that of the farm-labourer, seems to have devolved
on the bondsmen, while the _quern_ and the shuttle were
left exclusively in the hands of the bondswomen.

We need barely mention the names of the first Milesian
kings, who were remarkable for something else than cutting
each other's throats, in order to hasten on to the solid
ground of Christian tunes. The principal names are: Heber
and Heremhon, the crowned sons of Milesians; they at
first divided the Island fairly, but Heremhon soon became
jealous of his brother, slew him in battle, and established
his own supremacy. Irial the Prophet was King, and built
seven royal fortresses; Tiern'mass; in his reign the arts
of dyeing in colours were introduced; and the distinguishing
of classes by the number of colours they were permitted
to wear, was decreed. Ollamh ("the Wise") established
the Convention of Tara, which assembled habitually every
ninth year, but might be called oftener; it met about
the October festival in honour of Beleus or _Crom_; Eocaid
invented or introduced a new species of wicker boats,
called _cassa_, and spent much of his time upon the sea;
a solitary queen, named Macha, appears in the succession,
from whom Armagh takes its name; except Mab, the
mythological Queen of Connaught, she is the sole female
ruler of Erin in the first ages; Owen or Eugene Mor ("the
Great") is remembered as the founder of the notable
families who rejoice in the common name of Eugenians;
Leary, of whom the fable of Midas is told with variations;
Angus, whom the after Princes of Alba (Scotland) claimed
as their ancestor; Eocaid, the tenth of that name, in
whose reign are laid the scenes of the chief mythological
stories of Erin--such as the story of Queen Mab--the
story of the Sons of Usna; the death of Cuchullin (a
counterpart of the Persian tale of Roostam and Sohrab);
the story of Fergus, son of the king; of Connor of Ulster;
of the sons of Dari; and many more. We next meet with
the first king who led an expedition abroad against the
Romans in Crimthan, surnamed _Neea-Naari_, or Nair's
Hero, from the good genius who accompanied him on his
foray. A well-planned insurrection of the conquered
Belgae, cut off one of Crimthan's immediate successors,
with all his chiefs and nobles, at a banquet given on
the Belgian-plain (Moybolgue, in Cavan); and arrested
for a century thereafter Irish expeditions abroad. A
revolution and a restoration followed, in which Moran the
Just Judge played the part of Monk to _his_ Charles II.,
Tuathal surnamed "the Legitimate." It was Tuathal
who imposed the special tax on Leinster, of which, we
shall often hear--under the title of _Borooa_, or Tribute.
"The Legitimate" was succeeded by his son, who introduced
the Roman _Lex Talionis_ ("an eye for an eye and a tooth,
for a tooth") into the Brehon code; soon after, the
Eugenian families of the south, strong in numbers, and
led by a second Owen More, again halved the Island with
the ruling race, the boundary this time being the _esker_,
or ridge of land which can be easily traced from Dublin
west to Galway. Olild, a brave and able Prince, succeeded
in time to the southern half-kingdom, and planted his
own kindred deep and firm in its soil, though the unity
of the monarchy was again restored under Cormac Ulla, or
_Longbeard_. This Cormac, according to the legend, was
in secret a Christian, and was done to death by the
enraged and alarmed Druids, after his abdication and
retirement from the world (A.D. 266). He had reigned full
forty years, rivalling in wisdom, and excelling in justice
the best of his ancestors. Some of his maxims remain to
us, and challenge comparison for truthfulness and foresight
with most uninspired writings.

Cormac's successors during the same century are of little
mark, but in the next the expeditions against the Roman
outposts were renewed with greater energy and on an
increasing scale. Another Crimthan eclipsed the fame of
his ancestor and namesake; Nial, called "of the Hostages,"
was slain on a second or third expedition into Gaul (A.D.
405), while Dathy, nephew and successor to Nial, was
struck dead by lightning in the passage of the Alps (A.D.
428). It was in one of Nial's Gallic expeditions that
the illustrious captive was brought into Erin, for whom
Providence had reserved the glory of its conversion to
the Christian faith--an event which gives a unity and a
purpose to the history of that Nation, which must always
constitute its chief attraction to the Christian reader.



The conversion of a Pagan people to Christianity must
always be a primary fact in their history. It is not
merely for the error it abolishes or the positive truth
it establishes that a national change of faith is
historically important, but for the complete revolution
it works in every public and private relation. The change
socially could not be greater if we were to see some
irresistible apostle of Paganism ariving from abroad in
Christian Ireland, who would abolish the churches,
convents, and Christian schools; decry and bring into
utter disuse the decalogue, the Scriptures and the
Sacraments; efface all trace of the existing belief in
One God and Three Persons, whether in private or public
worship, in contracts, or in courts of law; and instead
of these, re-establish all over the country, in high
places and in every place, the gloomy groves of the
Druids, making gods of the sun and moon, the natural
elements, and man's own passions, restoring human sacrifices
as a sacred duty, and practically excluding from the
community of their fellows, all who presumed to question
the divine origin of such a religion. The preaching of
Patrick effected a revolution to the full as complete as
such a counter-revolution in favour of Paganism could
possibly be, and to this thorough revolution we must
devote at least one chapter before going farther.

The best accounts agree that Patrick was a native of
Gaul, then subject to Rome; that he was carried captive
into Erin on one of King Nial's returning expeditions;
that he became a slave, as all captives of the sword did,
in those iron times; that he fell to the lot of one
Milcho, a chief of Dalriada, whose flocks he tended for
seven years, as a shepherd, on the mountain called Slemish,
in the present county of Antrim. The date of Nial's death,
and the consequent return of his last expedition, is set
down in all our annals at the year 405; as Patrick was
sixteen years of age when he reached Ireland, he must
have been born about the year 390; and as he died in the
year 493, he would thus have reached the extraordinary,
but not impossible age of 103 years. Whatever the exact
number of his years, it is certain that his mission in
Ireland commenced in the year 432, and was prolonged till
his death, sixty-one years afterwards. Such an unprecedented
length of life, not less than the unprecedented power,
both popular and political, which he early attained,
enabled him to establish the Irish Church, during his
own time, on a basis so broad and deep, that neither
lapse of ages, nor heathen rage, nor earthly temptations,
nor all the arts of Hell, have been able to upheave its
firm foundations. But we must not imagine that the powers
of darkness abandoned the field without a struggle, or
that the victory of the cross was achieved without a
singular combination of courage, prudence, and
determination--God aiding above all.

If the year of his captivity was 405 or 406, and that of
his escape or manumission seven years later (412 or 413),
twenty years would intervene between his departure out
of the land of his bondage, and his return to it clothed
with the character and authority of a Christian Bishop.
This interval, longer or shorter, he spent in qualifying
himself for Holy Orders or discharging priestly duties
at Tours, at Lerins, and finally at Rome. But always by
night and day he was haunted by the thought of the Pagan
nation in which he had spent his long years of servitude,
whose language he had acquired, and the character of
whose people he so thoroughly understood. These natural
retrospections were heightened and deepened by supernatural
revelations of the will of Providence towards the Irish,
and himself as their apostle. At one time, an angel
presented him, in his sleep, a scroll bearing the
superscription, "the voice of the Irish;" at another, he
seemed to hear in a dream all the unborn children of the
nation crying to him for help and holy baptism. When,
therefore, Pope Celestine commissioned him for this
enterprise, "to the ends of the earth," he found him not
only ready but anxious to undertake it.

When the new Preacher arrived in the Irish Sea, in 432,
he and his companions were driven off the coast of Wicklow
by a mob, who assailed them with showers of stones.
Running down the coast to Antrim, with which he was
personally familiar, he made some stay at Saul, in Down,
where he made few converts, and celebrated Mass in a
barn; proceeding northward he found himself rejected with
scorn by his old master, Milcho, of Slemish. No doubt it
appeared an unpardonable audacity in the eyes of the
proud Pagan, that his former slave should attempt to
teach him how to reform his life and order his affairs.
Returning again southward, led on, as we must believe,
by the Spirit of God, he determined to strike a blow
against Paganism at its most vital point. Having learned
that the monarch, Leary (_Laeghaire_), was to celebrate
his birthday with suitable rejoicings at Tara, on a day
which happened to fall on the eve of Easter, he resolved
to proceed to Tara on that occasion, and to confront the
Druids in the midst of all the princes and magnates of
the Island. With this view he returned on his former
course, and landed from his frail barque at the mouth of
the Boyne. Taking leave of the boatmen, he desired them
to wait for him a certain number of days, when, if they
did not hear from him, they might conclude him dead, and
provide for their own safety. So saying he set out,
accompanied by the few disciples he had made, or brought
from abroad, to traverse on foot the great plain which
stretches from the mouth of the Boyne to Tara. If those
sailors were Christians, as is most likely, we can conceive
with what anxiety they must have awaited tidings of an
attempt so hazardous and so eventful.

The Christian proceeded on his way, and the first night
of his journey lodged with a hospitable chief, whose
family he converted and baptized, especially marking out
a fine child named Beanen, called by him Benignus, from
his sweet disposition; who was destined to be one of his
most efficient coadjutors, and finally his successor in
the Primatial see of Armagh. It was about the second or
third day when, travelling probably by the northern road,
poetically called "the Slope of the Chariots," the
Christian adventurers came in sight of the roofs of Tara.
Halting on a neighbouring eminence they surveyed the
citadel of Ancient Error, like soldiers about to assault
an enemy's stronghold. The aspect of the royal hill must
have been highly imposing. The building towards the north
was the Banquet Hall, then thronged with the celebrants
of the King's birth-day, measuring from north to south
360 feet in length by 40 feet wide. South of this hall
was the King's Rath, or residence, enclosing an area of
280 yards in diameter, and including several detached
buildings, such as the house of Cormac, and the house of
the hostages. Southward still stood the new rath of the
reigning king, and yet farther south, the rath of Queen
Mab, probably uninhabited even then. The intervals between
the buildings were at some points planted, for we know
that magnificent trees shaded the well of Finn, and the
well of Newnaw, from which all the raths were supplied
with water. Imposing at any time, Tara must have looked
its best at the moment Patrick first beheld it, being in
the pleasant season of spring, and decorated in honour
of the anniversary of the reigning sovereign.

One of the religious ceremonies employed by the Druids
to heighten the solemnity of the occasion, was to order
all the fires of Tara and Meath to be quenched, in order
to rekindle them instantaneously from a sacred fire
dedicated to the honour of their god. But Patrick, either
designedly or innocently, anticipated this striking
ceremony, and lit his own fire, where he had encamped,
in view of the royal residence. A flight of fiery arrows,
shot into the Banqueting Hall, would not have excited
more horror and tumult among the company there assembled,
than did the sight of that unlicensed blaze in the
distance. Orders were issued to drag the offender against
the laws and the gods of the Island before them, and the
punishment in store for him was already decreed in every
heart. The Preacher, followed by his trembling disciples,
ascended "the Slope of the Chariots," surrounded by
menacing minions of the Pagan law, and regarded with
indignation by astonished spectators. As he came he
recited Latin Prayers to the Blessed Trinity, beseeching
their protection and direction in this trying hour.
Contrary to courteous custom no one at first rose to
offer him a seat. At last a chieftain, touched with
mysterious admiration for the stranger, did him that
kindness. Then it was demanded of him, why he had dared
to violate the laws of the country, and to defy its
ancient gods. On this text the Christian Missionary spoke.
The place of audience was in the open air, on that
eminence, the home of so many kings, which commands one
of the most agreeable prospects in any landscape. The
eye of the inspired orator, pleading the cause of all
the souls that hereafter, till the end of time, might
inhabit the land, could discern within the spring-day
horizon, the course of the Blackwater and the Boyne before
they blend into one; the hills of Cavan to the far north;
with the royal hill of Tailtean in the foreground; the
wooded heights of Slane and Skreen, and the four ancient
roads, which led away towards the four subject Provinces,
like the reins of empire laid loosely on their necks.
Since the first Apostle of the Gentiles had confronted
the subtle Paganism of Athens, on the hill of Mars, none
of those who walked in his steps ever stood out in more
glorious relief than Patrick, surrounded by Pagan Princes,
and a Pagan Priesthood, on the hill of Tara.

The defence of the fire he had kindled, unlicensed, soon
extended into wider issues. Who were the gods against
whom he had offended? Were they true gods or false? They
had their priests: could they maintain the divinity of
such gods, by argument, or by miracle? For his God, he,
though unworthy, was ready to answer, yea, right ready
to die. His God had become man, and had died for man.
His name alone was sufficient to heal all diseases; to
raise the very dead to life. Such, we learn from the
old biographers, was the line of Patrick's argument. This
sermon ushered in a controversy. The king's guests, who
had come to feast and rejoice, remained to listen and to
meditate. With the impetuosity of the national character
--with all its passion for debate--they rushed into this
new conflict, some on one side, some on the other. The
daughters of the king and many others--the Arch-Druid
himself--became convinced and were baptized. The
missionaries obtained powerful protectors, and the king
assigned to Patrick the pleasant fort of Trim, as a
present residence. From that convenient distance, he
could readily return at any moment, to converse with the
king's guests and the members of his household.

The Druidical superstition never recovered the blow it
received that day at Tara. The conversion of the Arch-Druid
and the Princesses, was, of itself, their knell of doom.
Yet they held their ground during the remainder of this
reign--twenty-five years longer (A.D. 458). The king
himself never became a Christian, though he tolerated
the missionaries, and deferred more and more every year
to the Christian party. He sanctioned an expurgated code
of the laws, prepared under the direction of Patrick,
from which every positive element of Paganism was rigidly
excluded. He saw, unopposed, the chief idol of his race,
overthrown on "the Plain of Prostration," at Sletty. Yet
withal he never consented to be baptized; and only two
years before his decease, we find him swearing to a
treaty, in the old Pagan form--"by the Sun, and the Wind,
and all the Elements." The party of the Druids at first
sought to stay the progress of Christianity by violence,
and even attempted, more than once, to assassinate Patrick.
Finding these means ineffectual they tried ridicule and
satire. In this they were for some time seconded by the
Bards, men warmly attached to their goddess of song and
their lives of self-indulgence. All in vain. The day of
the idols was fast verging into everlasting night in
Erin. Patrick and his disciples were advancing from
conquest to conquest. Armagh and Cashel came in the wake
of Tara, and Cruachan was soon to follow. Driven from
the high places, the obdurate Priests of Bel took refuge
in the depths of the forest and in the islands of the
sea, wherein the Christian anchorites of the next age
were to replace them. The social revolution proceeded,
but all that was tolerable in the old state of things,
Patrick carefully engrafted with the new. He allowed much
for the habits and traditions of the people, and so made
the transition as easy, from darkness into the light, as
Nature makes the transition from night to morning. He
seven times visited in person every mission in the kingdom,
performing the six first "circuits" on foot, but the
seventh, on account of his extreme age, he was borne in
a chariot. The pious munificence of the successors of
Leary, had surrounded him with a household of princely
proportions. Twenty-four persons, mostly ecclesiastics,
were chosen for this purpose: a bell-ringer, a psalmist,
a cook, a brewer, a chamberlain, three smiths, three
artificers, and three embroiderers are reckoned of the
number. These last must be considered as employed in
furnishing the interior of the new churches. A scribe,
a shepherd to guard his flocks, and a charioteer are also
mentioned, and their proper names given. How different
this following from the little boat's crew, he had left
waiting tidings from Tara, in such painful apprehension,
at the mouth of the Boyne, in 432. Apostolic zeal, and
unrelaxed discipline had wrought these wonders, during
a lifetime prolonged far beyond the ordinary age of man.

The fifth century was drawing to a close, and the days
of Patrick were numbered. Pharamond and the Franks had
sway on the Netherlands; Hengist and the Saxons on South
Britain; Clovis had led his countrymen across the Rhine
into Gaul; the Vandals had established themselves in
Spain and North Africa; the Ostrogoths were supreme in
Italy. The empire of barbarism had succeeded to the empire
of Polytheism; dense darkness covered the semi-Christian
countries of the old Roman empire, but happily daylight
still lingered in the West. Patrick, in good season,
had done his work. And as sometimes, God seems to bring
round His ends, contrary to the natural order of things,
so the spiritual sun of Europe was now destined to rise
in the West, and return on its light-bearing errand
towards the East, dispelling La its path, Saxon, Frankish,
and German darkness, until at length it reflected back
on Rome herself, the light derived from Rome.

On the 17th of March, in the year of our Lord 493, Patrick
breathed his last in the monastery of Saul, erected on
the site of that barn where he had first said Mass. He
was buried with national honours in the Church of Armagh,
to which he had given the Primacy over all the churches
of Ireland; and such was the concourse of mourners, and
the number of Masses offered for his eternal repose, that
from the day of his death till the close of the year,
the sun is poetically said never to have set--so brilliant
and so continual was the glare of tapers and torches.



We have fortunately still existing the main provisions
of that constitution which was prepared under the auspices
of Saint Patrick, and which, though not immediately, nor
simultaneously, was in the end accepted by all Erin as
its supreme law. It is contained in a volume called "the
Book of Rights," and in its printed form (the Dublin
bilingual edition of 1847), fills some 250 octavo pages.
This book may be said to contain the original institutes
of Erin under her Celtic Kings: "the Brehon laws," (which
have likewise been published), bear the same relation to
"the Book of Rights," as the Statutes at large of England,
or the United States, bear to the English Constitution
in the one case, or to the collective Federal and State
Constitutions in the other. Let us endeavour to comprehend
what this ancient Irish Constitution was like, and how
the Kings received it, at first.

There were, as we saw in the first chapter, beside the
existing four Provinces, whose names are familiar to
every one, a fifth principality of Meath. Each of the
Provinces was subdivided into chieftainries, of which
there were at least double or treble as many as there
are now counties. The connection between the chief and
his Prince, or the Prince and his monarch, was not of
the nature of feudal obedience; for the fee-simple of
the soil was never supposed to be vested in the sovereign,
nor was the King considered to be the fountain of all
honour. The Irish system blended the aristocratic and
democratic elements more largely than the monarchical.
Everything proceeded by election, but all the candidates
should be of noble blood. The Chiefs, Princes, and
Monarchs, so selected, were bound together by certain
customs and tributes, originally invented by the genius
of the Druids, and afterwards adopted and enforced by
the authority of the Bishops. The tributes were paid in
kind, and consisted of cattle, horses, foreign-born
slaves, hounds, oxen, scarlet mantles, coats of mail,
chess-boards and chess-men, drinking cups, and other
portable articles of value. The quantity in every case
due from a King to his subordinate, or from a subordinate
to his King--for the gifts and grants were often
reciprocal--is precisely stated in every instance. Besides
these rights, this constitution defines the "prerogatives"
of the five Kings on their journeys through each other's
territory, their accession to power, or when present in
the General Assemblies of the Kingdom. It contains,
besides, a very numerous array of "prohibitions"--acts
which neither the Ard-Righ nor any other Potentate may
lawfully do. Most of these have reference to old local
Pagan ceremonies in which the Kings once bore a leading
part, but which were now strictly prohibited; others are
of inter-Provincial significance, and others, again, are
rules of personal conduct. Among the prohibitions of the
monarch the first is, that the sun must never rise on
him in his bed at Tara; among his prerogatives he was
entitled to banquet on the first of August, on the fish
of the Boyne, fruit from the Isle of Man, cresses from
the Brosna river, venison from Naas, and to drink the
water of the well of Talla: in other words, he was entitled
to eat on that day, of the produce, whether of earth or
water, of the remotest bounds, as well as of the very
heart of his mensal domain. The King of Leinster was
"prohibited" from upholding the Pagan ceremonies within
his province, or to encamp for more than a week in certain
districts; but he was "privileged" to feast on the fruits
of Almain, to drink the ale of Cullen, and to preside
over the games of Carman, (Wexford.) His colleague of
Munster was "prohibited" from encamping a whole week at
Killarney or on the Suir, and from mustering a martial
host on the Leinster border at Gowran; he was "privileged"
to pass the six weeks of Lent at Cashel (in free quarters),
to use fire and force in compelling tribute from north
Leinster; and to obtain a supply of cattle from Connaught,
at the time "of the singing of the cuckoo." The Connaught
King had five other singular "prohibitions" imposed on
him--evidently with reference to some old Pagan rites--and
his "prerogatives" were hostages from Galway, the monopoly
of the chase in Mayo, free quarters in Murrisk, in the
same neighbourhood, and to marshal his border-host at
Athlone to confer with the tribes of Meath. The ruler
of Ulster was also forbidden to indulge in such
superstitious practices as observing omens of birds, or
drinking of a certain fountain "between two darknesses;"
his prerogatives were presiding at the games of Cooley,
"with the assembly of the fleet;" the right of mustering
his border army in the plains of Louth; free quarters in
Armagh for three nights for his troops before setting
out on an expedition; and to confine his hostages in
Dunseverick, a strong fortress near the Giant's Causeway.
Such were the principal checks imposed upon the individual
caprice of Monarchs and Princes; the plain inference from
all which is, that under the Constitution of Patrick, a
Prince who clung to any remnant of ancient Paganism,
might lawfully be refused those rents and dues which
alone supported his dignity. In other words, disguised
as it may be to us under ancient forms, "the Book of
Rights" establishes Christianity as the law of the land.
All national usages and customs, not conflicting with
this supreme law, were recognized and sanctioned by it.
The internal revenues in each particular Province were
modelled upon the same general principle, with one
memorable exception--the special tribute which Leinster
paid to Munster--and which was the cause of more bloodshed
than all other sources of domestic quarrel combined. The
origin of this tax is surrounded with fable, but it
appears to have arisen out of the reaction which took
place, when Tuathal, "the Legitimate," was restored to
the throne of his ancestors, after the successful revolt
of the Belgic bondsmen. Leinster seems to have clung
longest to the Belgic revolution, and to have submitted
only after repeated defeats. Tuathal, therefore, imposed
on that Province this heavy and degrading tax, compelling
its Princes not only to render him and his successors
immense herds of cattle, but also 150 male and female
slaves, to do the menial offices about the palace of
Tara. With a refinement of policy, as far-seeing as it
was cruel, the proceeds of the tax were to be divided
one-third to Ulster, one-third to Connaught, and the
remainder between the Queen of the Monarch and the ruler
of Munster. In this way all the other Provinces became
interested in enforcing this invidious and oppressive
enactment upon Leinster which, of course, was withheld
whenever it could be refused with the smallest probability
of success. Its resistance, and enforcement, especially
by the kings of Munster, will be found a constant cause
of civil war, even in Christian times.

The sceptre of Ireland, from her conversion to the time
of Brian, was almost solely in the hands of the northern
Hy-Nial, the same family as the O'Neills. All the kings
of the sixth and seventh centuries were of that line. In
the eighth century (from 709 to 742), the southern
annalists style Cathal, King of Munster, Ard-Righ; in
the ninth century (840 to 847), they give the same high
title to Felim, King of Munster; and in the eleventh
century Brian possessed that dignity for the twelve last
years of his life, (1002 to 1014). With these exceptions,
the northern Hy-Nial, and their co-relatives of Meath,
called the southern Hy-Nial, seem to have retained the
sceptre exclusively in their own hands, during the five
first Christian centuries. Yet on every occasion, the
ancient forms of election, (or procuring the adhesion of
the Princes), had to be gone through. Perfect unanimity,
however, was not required; a majority equal to two-thirds
seems to have sufficed. If the candidate had the North
in his favour, and one Province of the South, he was
considered entitled to take possession of Tara; if he
were a Southern, he should be seconded either by Connaught
or Ulster, before he could lawfully possess himself of
the supreme power. The benediction of the Archbishop of
Armagh, seems to have been necessary to confirm the choice
of the Provincials. The monarchs, like the petty kings,
were crowned or "made" on the summit of some lofty mound
prepared for that purpose; an hereditary officer, appointed
to that duty, presented him with a white wand perfectly
straight, as an emblem of the purity and uprightness
which should guide all his decisions, and, clothed with
his royal robes, the new ruler descended among his people,
and solemnly swore to protect their rights and to administer
equal justice to all. This was the civil ceremony; the
solemn blessing took place in a church, and is supposed
to be the oldest form of coronation service observed
anywhere in Christendom.

A ceremonial, not without dignity, regulated the gradations
of honour, in the General Assemblies of Erin. The time
of meeting was the great Pagan Feast of Samhain, the 1st
of November. A feast of three days opened and closed the
Assembly, and during its sittings, crimes of violence
committed on those in attendance were punished with
instant death. The monarch himself had no power to pardon
any violator of this established law. The _Chiefs_ of
territories sat, each in an appointed seat, under his
own shield; the seats being arranged by order of the
Ollamh, or Recorder, whose duty it was to preserve the
muster-roll, containing the names of all the living
nobles. The _Champions_, or leaders of military bands,
occupied a secondary position, each sitting' under his
own shield. Females and spectators of an inferior rank
were excluded; the Christian clergy naturally stepped
into the empty places of the Druids, and were placed
immediately next the monarch.

We shall now briefly notice the principal acts of the
first Christian kings, during the century immediately
succeeding St. Patrick's death. Of OLLIOL, who succeeded
Leary, we cannot say with certainty that he was a Christian.
His successor, LEWY, son of Leary, we are expressly told
was killed by lightning (A.D. 496), for "having violated
the law of Patrick"--that is, probably, for having
practised some of those Pagan rites forbidden to the
monarchs by the revised constitution. His successor,
MURKERTACH, son of Ere, was a professed Christian, though
a bad one, since he died by the vengeance of a concubine
named Sheen, (that is, _storm_,) whom he had once put
away at the instance of his spiritual adviser, but whom
he had not the courage--though brave as a lion in battle--to
keep away (A.D. 527). TUATHAL, "the Rough," succeeded
and reigned for seven years, when he was assassinated by
the tutor of DERMID, son of Kerbel, a rival whom he had
driven into exile. DERMID immediately seized on the throne
(A.D. 534), and for twenty eventful years bore sway over
all Erin. He appears to have had quite as much of the
old leaven of Paganism in his composition--at least in
his youth and prime--as either Lewy or Leary. He kept
Druids about his person, despised "the right of sanctuary"
claimed by the Christian clergy, and observed, with all
the ancient superstitious ceremonial, the national games
at Tailteen. In his reign, the most remarkable event was
the public curse pronounced on Tara, by a Saint whose
sanctuary the reckless monarch had violated, in dragging
a prisoner from the very horns of the altar, and putting
him to death. For this offence--the crowning act of a
series of aggressions on the immunities claimed by the
clergy--the Saint, whose name was Ruadan, and the site
of whose sanctuary is still known as Temple-Ruadan in
Tipperary, proceeded to Tara, accompanied by his clergy,
and, walking round the royal rath, solemnly excommunicated
the monarch, and anathematized the place. The far-reaching
consequences of this awful exercise of spiritual power
are traceable for a thousand years through Irish history.
No king after Dermid resided permanently upon the hill
of Tara. Other royal houses there were in Meath--at
Tailteen, at the hill of Usna, and on the margin of the
beautiful Lough Ennell, near the present Castlepollard,
and at one or other of these, after monarchs held occasional
court; but those of the northern race made their habitual
home in their own patrimony near Armagh, or on the
celebrated hill of Aileach. The date of the malediction
which left Tara desolate is the year of our Lord, 554.
The end of this self-willed semi-Pagan (Dermid) was in
unison with his life; he was slain in battle by Black
Hugh, Prince of Ulster, two years after the desolation
of Tara.

Four kings, all fierce competitors for the succession,
reigned and fell, within ten years of the death of Dermid,
and then we come to the really interesting and important
reign of Hugh the Second, which lasted twenty-seven years
(A.D. 566 to 593), and was marked by the establishment
of the Independence of the Scoto-Irish Colony in North
Britain, and by other noteworthy events. But these
twenty-seven years deserve a chapter to themselves.



Twenty-seven years is a long reign, and the years of
King-Hugh II. were marked with striking events. One
religious and one political occurrence, however, threw
all others into the shade--the conversion of the Highlands
and Islands of Scotland (then called Alba or Albyn by
the Gael, and Caledonia by the Latins), and the formal
recognition, after an exciting controversy, of the
independence of the Milesian colony in Scotland. These
events follow each other in the order of time, and stand
partly in the relation of cause and effect.

The first authentic Irish immigration into Scotland seems
to have taken place about the year of our Lord 258. The
pioneers crossed over from Antrim to Argyle, where the
strait is less than twenty-five miles wide. Other
adventurers followed at intervals, but it is a fact to
be deplored, that no passages in our own, and in all
other histories, have been so carelessly kept as the
records of emigration. The movements of rude masses of
men, the first founders of states and cities, are generally
lost in obscurity, or misrepresented by patriotic zeal.
Several successive settlements of the Irish in Caledonia
can be faintly traced from the middle of the third till
the beginning of the sixth century. About the year 503,
they had succeeded in establishing a flourishing
principality among the cliffs and glens of Argyle. The
limits of their first territory cannot be exactly laid
down; but it soon spread north into Rosshire, and east
into the present county of Perth. It was a land of stormy
friths and fissured headlands, of deep defiles and snowy
summits. "'Tis a far cry to Lough Awe," is still a lowland
proverb, and Lough Awe was in the very heart of that old
Irish settlement.

The earliest emigrants to Argyle were Pagans, while the
latter were Christians, and were accompanied by priests,
and a bishop, Kieran, the son of the carpenter, whom,
from his youthful piety and holy life, as well as from
the occupation followed by his father, is sometimes
fancifully compared to our Lord and Saviour himself.
Parishes in Cantyre, in Islay, and in Carrick, still bear
the name of St. Kieran as patron. But no systematic
attempt--none at least of historic memory--was made to
convert the remoter Gael and the other races then inhabiting
Alba--the Picts, Britons, and Scandinavians, until the
year of our era, 565, Columba or COLUMBKILL, a Bishop of
the royal race of Nial, undertook that task, on a scale
commensurate with its magnitude. This celebrated man has
always ranked with Saint Patrick and Saint Bridget as
the most glorious triad of the Irish Calendar. He was,
at the time he left Ireland, in the prime of life--his
44th year. Twelve companions, the apostolic number,
accompanied him on his voyage. For thirty-four years he
was the legislator and captain of Christianity in those
northern regions. The King of the Picts received baptism
at his hands; the Kings of the Scottish colony, his
kinsmen, received the crown from him on their accession.
The islet of I., or Iona, as presented to him by one of
these princes. Here he and his companions built with
their own hands their parent-house, and from this Hebridean
rock in after times was shaped the destinies, spiritual
and temporal, of many tribes and kingdoms.

The growth of Iona was as the growth of the grain of
mustard seed mentioned in the Gospel, even during the
life of its founder. Formed by his teaching and example,
there went out from it apostles to Iceland, to the Orkneys,
to Northumbria, to Man, and to South Britain. A hundred
monasteries in Ireland looked to that exiled saint as
their patriarch. His rule of monastic life, adopted either
from the far East, from the recluses of the Thebaid, or
from his great contemporary, Saint Benedict, was sought
for by Chiefs, Bards, and converted Druids. Clients,
seeking direction from his wisdom, or protection through
his power, were constantly arriving and departing from
his sacred isle. His days were divided between manual
labour and the study and transcribing of the Sacred
Scriptures. He and his disciples, says the Venerable
Bede, in whose age Iona still flourished, "neither thought
of nor loved anything in _this_ world." Some writers have
represented Columbkill's _Culdees_, (which in English
means simply "Servants of God,") as a married clergy; so
far is this from the truth, that we now know, no woman
was allowed to land on the island, nor even a cow to be
kept there, for, said the holy Bishop, "wherever there
is a cow there will be a woman, and wherever there is a
woman there will be mischief."

In the reign of King Hugh, three domestic questions arose
of great importance; one was the refusal of the Prince
of Ossory to pay tribute to the Monarch; the other, the
proposed extinction of the Bardic Order, and the third,
the attempt to tax the Argyle Colony. The question between
Ossory and Tara, we may pass over as of obsolete interest,
but the other two deserve fuller mention:

The Bards--who were the Editors, Professors, Registrars
and Record-keepers--the makers and masters of public
opinion in those days, had reached in this reign a number
exceeding 1,200 in Meath and Ulster alone. They claimed
all the old privileges of free quarters on their travels
and freeholdings at home, which were freely granted to
their order when it was in its infancy. Those chieftains
who refused them anything, however extravagant, they
lampooned and libelled, exciting their own people and
other princes against them. Such was their audacity, that
some of them are said to have demanded from King Hugh
the royal brooch, one of the most highly prized heirlooms
of the reigning family. Twice in the early part of this
reign they had been driven from the royal residence, and
obliged to take refuge in the little principality of
Ulidia (or Down); the third time the monarch had sworn
to expel them utterly from the kingdom. In Columbkill,
however, they were destined to find a most powerful
mediator, both from his general sympathy with the Order,
being himself no mean poet, and from the fact that the
then Arch-Poet, or chief of the order, Dallan Forgaill,
was one of his own pupils.

To settle this vexed question of the Bards, as well as
to obtain the sanction of the estates to the taxation of
Argyle, King Hugh called a General Assembly in the year
590. The place of meeting was no longer the interdicted
Tara, but for the monarch's convenience a site farther
north was chosen--the hill of Drom-Keth, in the present
county of Deny. Here came in rival state and splendour
the Princes of the four Provinces, and other principal
chieftains. The dignitaries of the Church also attended,
and an occasional Druid was perhaps to be seen in the
train of some unconverted Prince. The pretensions of the
mother-country to impose a tax upon her Colony, were
sustained by the profound learning and venerable name of
St. Colman, Bishop of Dromore, one of the first men of
his Order.

When Columbkill "heard of the calling together of that
General Assembly," and of the questions to be there
decided, he resolved to attend, notwithstanding the stern
vow of his earlier life, never to look on Irish soil
again. Under a scruple of this kind, he is said to have
remained blindfold, from Ms arrival in Ms fatherland,
till his return to Iona. He was accompanied by an imposing
train of attendants; by Aidan, Prince of Argyle, so deeply
interested in the issue, and a suite of over one hundred
persons, twenty of them Abbots or Bishops. Columbkill
spoke for his companions; for already, as in Bede's time,
the Abbots of Iona exercised over all the clergy north
of the Humber, but still more directly north of the Tweed,
a species of supremacy similar to that which the successors
of St. Benedict and St. Bernard exercised, in turn, over
Prelates and Princes on the European Continent.

When the Assembly was opened the holy Bishop of Dromore
stated the arguments in favour of Colonial taxation with
learning and effect. Hugh himself impeached the Bards
for their licentious and lawless lives. Columbkill defended
both interests, and, by combining both, probably
strengthened the friends of each. It is certain that he
carried the Assembly with him, both against the monarch
and those of the resident clergy, who had selected Colman
as their spokesman. The Bardic Order was spared. The
doctors, or master-singers among them, were prohibited
from wandering from place to place; they were assigned
residence with the chiefs and princes; their losel
attendants were turned over to honest pursuits, and thus
a great danger was averted, and one of the most essential
of the Celtic institutions being reformed and regulated,
was preserved. Scotland and Ireland have good reason to
be grateful to the founder of Iona, for the interposition
that preserved to us the music, which is now admitted to
be one of the most precious inheritances of both countries.

The proposed taxation Columbkill strenuously and
successfully resisted. Up to this time, the colonists
had been bound only to furnish a contingent force, by
land and sea, when the King of Ireland went to war, and
to make them an annual present called "chief-rent."

From the Book of Rights we learn that (at least at the
time the existing transcript was made) the Scottish
Princes paid out of Alba, seven shields, seven steeds,
seven bondswomen, seven bondsmen, and seven hounds all
of the same breed. But the "chief-rent," or "eric for
kindly blood," did not suffice in the year 590 to satisfy
King Hugh. The colony had grown great, and, like some
modern monarchs, he proposed to make it pay for its
success. Columbkill, though a native of Ireland, and a
prince of its reigning house, was by choice a resident
of Caledonia, and he stood true to his adopted country.
The Irish King refused to continue the connection on the
old conditions, and declared his intention to visit Alba
himself to enforce the tribute due; Columbkill, rising
in the Assembly, declared the Albanians "for ever free
from the yoke," and this, adds an old historian, "turned
out to be the fact." From the whole controversy we may
conclude that Scotland never paid political tribute to
Ireland; that their relation was that rather of allies,
than of sovereign and vassal; that it resembled more the
homage Carthage paid to Tyre, and Syracuse to Corinth,
than any modern form of colonial dependence; that a
federal connection existed by which, in time of war, the
Scots of Argyle, and those of Hibernia, were mutually
bound to aid, assist, and defend each other. And this
natural and only connection, founded in the blood of both
nations, sanctioned by their early saints, confirmed by
frequent intermarriage, by a common language and literature,
and by hostility to common enemies, the Saxons, Danes,
and Normans, grew into a political bond of unusual
strength, and was cherished with affection by both nations,
long ages after the magnates assembled at Drom-Keth had
disappeared in the tombs of their fathers.

The only unsettled question which remained after the
Assembly at Drom-Keth related to the Prince of Ossory.
Five years afterwards (A.D. 595), King Hugh fell in an
attempt to collect the special tribute from all Leinster,
of which we have already heard something, and shall, by
and by, hear more. He was an able and energetic ruler,
and we may be sure "did not let the sun rise on him in
his bed at Tara," or anywhere else. In his time great
internal changes were taking place in the state of society.
The ecclesiastical order had become more powerful than
any other in the state. The Bardic Order, thrice proscribed,
were finally subjected to the laws, over which they had
at one time insolently domineered. Ireland's only colony
--unless we except the immature settlement in the Isle
of Man, under Cormac Longbeard--was declared independent
of the parent country, through the moral influence of
its illustrious Apostle, whose name many of its kings
and nobles were of old proud to bear--_Mal-Colm_, meaning
"servant of Columb," or Columbkill. But the memory of
the sainted statesman who decreed the separation of the
two populations, so far as claims to taxation could be
preferred, preserved, for ages, the better and far more
profitable alliance, of an ancient friendship, unbroken
by a single national quarrel during a thousand years.

A few words more on the death and character of this
celebrated man, whom we are now to part with at the close
of the sixth, as we parted from Patrick at the close of
the fifth century. His day of departure came in 596.
Death found him at the ripe age of almost fourscore,
_stylus_ in hand, toiling cheerfully over the vellum
page. It was the last night of the week when the
presentiment of his end came strongly upon him. "This
day," he said to his disciple and successor, Dermid, "is
called the day of rest, and such it will be for me, for
it will finish my labours." Laying down the manuscript,
he added, "let Baithen finish the rest." Just after
Matins, on the Sunday morning, he peacefully passed away
from the midst of his brethren.

Of his tenderness, as well as energy of character,
tradition, and his biographers have recorded many instances.
Among others, his habit of ascending an eminence every
evening at sunset, to look over towards the coast of his
native land. The spot is called by the islanders to this
day, "the place of the back turned upon Ireland." The
fishermen of the Hebrides long believed they could see
their saint flitting over the waves after every new storm,
counting the islands to see if any of them had foundered.
It must have been a loveable character of which such
tales could be told and cherished from generation to

Both Education and Nature had well fitted Columbkill to
the great task of adding another realm to the empire of
Christendom. His princely birth gave him power over his
own proud kindred; his golden eloquence and glowing
verse--the fragments of which still move and delight the
Gaelic scholar--gave him fame and weight in the Christian
schools which had suddenly sprung up in every glen and
island. As prince, he stood on equal terms with princes;
as poet, he was affiliated to that all-powerful Bardic
Order, before whose awful anger kings trembled, and
warriors succumbed in superstitious dread. A spotless
soul, a disciplined body, an indomitable energy, an
industry that never wearied, a courage that never blanched,
a sweetness and courtesy that won all hearts, a tenderness
for others that contrasted strongly with his rigour
towards himself--these were the secrets of the success
of this eminent missionary--these were the miracles by
which he accomplished the conversion of so many barbarous
tribes and Pagan Princes.



THE five years of the sixth century, which remained after
the death of Hugh II., were filled by Hugh III., son of
Dermid, the semi-Pagan. Hugh IV. succeeded (A.D. 599)
and reigned for several years; two other kings, of small
account, reigned seven years; Donald II. (A.D. 624)
reigned sixteen years; Connall and Kellach, brothers,
(A.D. 640) reigned jointly sixteen years; they were
succeeded (A.D. 656) by Dermid and Blathmac, brothers,
who reigned jointly seven years; Shanasagh, son of the
former, reigned six years; Kenfala, four; Finnacta, "the
hospitable," twenty years, and Loingsech (A.D. 693) eight

Throughout this century the power of the Church was
constantly on the increase, and is visible in many
important changes. The last armed struggle of Druidism,
and the only invasion of Ireland by the Anglo-Saxons,
are also events of the civil history of the seventh

The reign, of Donald II. is notable for the passing away
of most of those saintly men, the second generation of
Irish abbots and bishops; for the foundation of the
celebrated school of Lismore on the Munster Blackwater;
and the battle of Moira, in the present county of Down.
Of the school and the saints we shall speak hereafter;
the battle deserves more immediate mention.

The cause of the battle was the pretension of the petty
Prince of Ulidia, which comprised little more than the
present county of Down, to be recognised as Prince of
all Ulster. Now the Hy-Nial family, not only had long
given monarchs to all Ireland, but had also the lion's
share of their own Province, and King Donald as their
head could not permit their ascendency to be disputed.
The ancestors of the present pretender, Congal, surnamed
"the squint-eyed," had twice received and cherished the
licentious Bards when under the ban of Tara, and his
popularity with that still powerful order was one prop
of his ambition. It is pretty clear also that the last
rally of Druidism against Christianity took place behind
his banner, on the plain of Moira. It was the year 637,
and preparations had long gone on on both sides for a
final trial of strength. Congal had recruited numerous
bands of Saxons, Britons, Picts and Argyle Scots, who
poured into the Larbours of Down for months, and were
marshalled on the banks of the Lagan, to sustain his
cause. The Poets of succeeding ages have dwelt much in
detail on the occurrences of this memorable day. It was
what might strictly be called a pitched battle, time and
place being fixed by mutual agreement. King Donald was
accompanied by his Bard, who described to him, as they
came in sight, the several standards of Congal's host,
and who served under them. Conspicuous above all, the
ancient banner of the Red Branch Knights-"a yellow lion
wrought on green satin"--floated over Congal's host. On
the other side the monarch commanded in person, accompanied
by his kinsmen, the sons of Hugh III. The red hand of
Tirowen, the cross of Tirconnell, the eagle and lion of
Innishowen, the axes of Fanad, were in his ranks, ranged
closely round his own standard. The cause of the
Constitution and the Church prevailed, and Druidism
mourned its last hope extinguished on the plains of Moira,
in the death of Congal, and the defeat of his vast army.
King Donald returned in triumph to celebrate his victory
at Emania and to receive the benediction of the Church
at Armagh.

The sons of Hugh III., Dermid and Blathmac, zealous and
pious Christian princes, survived the field of Moira and
other days of danger, and finally attained the supreme
power--A.D. 656. Like the two kings of Sparta they
reigned jointly, dividing between them the labours and
cares of State. In their reign, that terrible scourge,
called in Irish, "the yellow plague," after ravaging
great part of Britain, broke out with undiminished
virulence in Erin (A.D. 664). To heighten the awful sense
of inevitable doom, an eclipse of the sun occurred
concurrently with the appearance of the pestilence on
the first Sunday in May. It was the season when the
ancient sun-god had been accustomed to receive his annual
oblations, and we can well believe that those whose hearts
still trembled at the name of Bel, must have connected
the eclipse and the plague with the revolution in the
national worship, and the overthrow of the ancient gods
on that "plain of prostration," where they had so long
received the homage of an entire people. Among the victims
of this fearful visitation--which, like the modern cholera,
swept through all ranks and classes of society, and
returned in the same track for several successive
seasons--were very many of those venerated men, the third
and fourth generation of the Abbots and Bishops. The
Munster King, and many of the chieftain class shared the
common lot. Lastly, the royal brothers fell themselves
victims to the epidemic, which so sadly signalizes their

The only conflicts that occurred on Irish soil with a
Pictish or an Anglo-Saxon force--if we except those who
formed a contingent of Congal's army at Moira--occurred
in the time of the hospitable Finnacta. The Pictish force,
with their leaders, were totally defeated at Rathmore,
in Antrim (A.D. 680), but the Anglo-Saxon expedition
(A.D. 684) seems not to have been either expected or
guarded against. As leading to the mention of other
interesting events, we must set this inroad clearly
before the reader.

The Saxons had now been for four centuries in Britain,
the older inhabitants of which--Celts like the Gauls and
Irish--they had cruelly harassed, just as the Milesian
Irish oppressed their Belgic predecessors, and as the
Normans, in turn, will be found oppressing both Celt and
Saxon in England and Ireland. Britain had been divided
by the Saxon leaders into eight separate kingdoms, the
people and princes of several of which were converted to
Christianity in the fifth, sixth, and seventh century,
though some of them did not receive the Gospel before
the beginning of the eighth. The Saxons of Kent and the
Southern Kingdoms generally were converted by missionaries
from France or Rome, or native preachers of the first or
second Christian generation; those of Northumbria recognise
as their Apostles St. Aidan and St. Cuthbert, two Fathers
from Iona. The Kingdom of Northumbria, as the name
implies, embraced nearly all the country from the Humber
to the Pictish border. York was its capital, and the
seat of its ecclesiastical primacy, where, at the time
we speak of, the illustrious Wilfrid was maintaining,
with a wilful and unscrupulous king, a struggle not unlike
that which Becket maintained with Henry II. This Prince,
Egfrid by name, was constantly engaged in wars with his
Saxon cotemporaries, or the Picts and Scots. In the summer
of 683 he sent an expedition under the command of Beort,
one of his earls, to ravage the coast of Leinster. Beort
landed probably in the Boyne, and swept over the rich
plain of Meath with fire and sword, burning churches,
driving off herds and flocks, and slaughtering the clergy
and the husbandmen. The piety of an after age saw in the
retribution which overtook Egfrid the following year,
when he was slain by the Picts and Scots, the judgment
of Heaven, avenging the unprovoked wrongs of the Irish.
His Scottish conquerors, returning good for evil, carried
his body to Iona, where it was interred with all due

Iona was now in the zenith of its glory. The barren rock,
about three miles in length, was covered with monastic
buildings, and its cemetery was already adorned with the
tombs of saints and kings. Five successors of Columbkill
slept in peace around their holy Founder, and a sixth,
equal in learning and sanctity to any who preceded him,
received the remains of King Egfrid from the hands of
his conquerors. This was Abbot Adamnan, to whom Ireland
and Scotland are equally indebted for his admirable
writings, and who might almost dispute with Bede himself,
the title of Father of British History. Adamnan regarded
the fate of Egfrid, we may be sure, in the light of a
judgment on him for his misdeeds, as Bede and British
Christians very generally did. He learned, too, that
there were in Northumbria several Christian captives,
carried off in Beort's expedition and probably sold into
slavery. Now every missionary that ever went out from
Iona, had taught that to reduce Christians to slavery
was wholly inconsistent with a belief in the doctrines
of the Gospel. St. Aidan, the Apostle of Northumbria,
had refused the late Egfrid's father absolution, on one
occasion, until he solemnly promised to restore their
freedom to certain captives of this description. In the
same spirit Adamnan voluntarily undertook a journey to
York, where Aldfrid (a Prince educated in Ireland, and
whose "Itinerary" of Ireland we still have) now reigned.
The Abbot of Iona succeeded in his humane mission, and
crossing over to his native land, he restored sixty of
the captives to their homes and kindred. While the
liberated exiles rejoiced on the plain of Meath, the tent
of the Abbot of Iona was pitched on the rath of Tara--a
fact which would seem to indicate that already, in little
more than a century since the interdict had fallen on
it, the edifices which made so fine a show in the days
of Patrick were ruined and uninhabitable. Either at Tara,
or some other of the royal residences, Adamnan on this
visit procured the passing of a law, (A.D. 684,) forbidding
women to accompany an army to battle, or to engage
personally in the conflict. The mild maternal genius of
Christianity is faithfully exhibited in such a law, which
consummates the glory of the worthy successor of Columbkill.
It is curious here to observe that it was not until
another hundred years had past--not till the beginning
of the ninth century--that the clergy were "exempt" from
military service. So slow and patient is the process by
which Christianity infuses itself into the social life
of a converted people!

The long reign of FINNACTA, the hospitable, who may, for
his many other virtues, be called also the pious, was
rendered farther remarkable in the annals of the country
by the formal abandonment of the special tax, so long
levied upon, and so long and desperately resisted by,
the men of Leinster. The all-powerful intercessor in this
case was Saint Moling, of the royal house of Leinster,
and Bishop of Fernamore (now Ferns). In the early part
of his reign Finnacta seems not to have been disposed to
collect this invidious tax by force; but, yielding to
other motives, he afterwards took a different view of
his duty, and marched into Leinster to compel its payment.
Here the holy Prelate of Ferns met him, and related a
Vision in which he had been instructed to demand the
abolition of the impost. The abolition, he contended,
should not be simply a suspension, but final and for
ever. The tribute was, at this period, enormous; 15,000
head of cattle annually. The decision must have been made
about the time that Abbot Adamnan was in Ireland, (A.D.
684,) and that illustrious personage is said to have been
opposed to the abolition. Abolished it was, and though
its re-enactment was often attempted, the authority of
Saint Moling's solemn settlement, prevented it from being
re-enforced for any length of time, except as a political
or military infliction.

Finnacta fell in battle in the 20th year of his long and
glorious reign; and is commemorated as a saint in the
Irish calendar. St. Moling survived him three years, and
St. Adamnan, so intimately connected with his reign, ten
years. The latter revisited Ireland in 697, under the
short reign of Loingsech, and concerned himself chiefly
in endeavouring to induce his countrymen to adopt the
Roman rule, as to the tonsure, and the celebration of
Easter. On this occasion there was an important Synod of
the Clergy, under the presidency of Flan, Archbishop of
Armagh, held at Tara. Nothing could be more natural than
such an assembly in such a place, at such a period. In
every recorded instance the power of the clergy had been
omnipotent in politics for above a century. St. Patrick
had expurgated the old constitution; St. Ruadan's curse
drove the kings from Tara; St. Columbkill had established
the independence of Alba, and preserved the Bardic Order;
St. Moling had abolished the Leinster tribute. If their
power was irresistible in the sixth and especially in
the seventh centuries, we must do these celebrated Abbots
and Bishops the justice to remember that it was always
exercised against the oppression of the weak by the
strong, to mitigate the horrors of war, to uphold the
right of sanctuary (the _Habeus Corpus_ of that rude
age), and for the maintenance and spread of sound
Christian principles.



The kings of the eighth century are Congal II. (surnamed
Kenmare), who reigned seven years; Feargal, who reigned
ten years; Forgartah, Kenneth, Flaherty, respectively
one, four, and seven years; Hugh V. (surnamed Allan),
nine years; Donald III., who reigned (A.D. 739-759) twenty
years; Nial II. (surnamed Nial of the Showers), seven
years; and Donogh I., who reigned thirty-one years, A.D.
766-797. The obituaries of these kings show that we have
fallen on a comparatively peaceful age, since of the
entire nine, but three perished in battle. One retired
to Armagh and one to Iona, where both departed in the
monastic habit; the others died either of sickness or
old age.

Yet the peaceful character of this century is but
comparative, for in the first quarter (A.D. 722), we have
the terrible battle of Almain, between Leinster and the
Monarch, in which 30,000 men were stated to have engaged,
and 7,000 to have fallen. The Monarch who had double
the number of the Leinster Prince, was routed and slain,
_apropos_ of which we have a Bardic tale told, which
almost transports one to the far East, the simple lives
and awful privileges of the Hindoo Brahmins. It seems
that some of King FEARGAL's army, in foraging for their
fellows, drove off the only cow of a hermit, who lived
in seclusion near a solitary little chapel called Killin.
The enraged recluse, at the very moment the armies were
about to engage, appeared between them, regardless of
personal danger, denouncing ruin and death to the monarch's
forces. And in this case, as in others, to be found in
every history, the prophecy, no doubt, helped to produce
its own fulfilment. The malediction of men dedicated to
the service of God, has often routed hosts as gallant as
were marshalled on the field of Almain.

FEARGAL'S two immediate successors met a similar fate
--death in the field of battle--after very brief reigns,
of which we have no great events to record.

FLAHERTY, the next who succeeded, after a vigorous reign
of seven years, withdrew from the splendid cares of a
crown, and passed the long remainder of his life--thirty
years--in the habit of a monk at Armagh. The heavy burthen
which he had cheerfully laid down, was taken up by a
Prince, who combined the twofold character of poet and
hero. HUGH V. (surnamed Allan), the son of FEARGAL, of
whom we have just spoken, was the very opposite of his
father, in his veneration for the privileges of holy
persons and places. His first military achievement was
undertaken in vindication of the rights of those who were
unable by arms to vindicate their own. Hugh Roin, Prince
of the troublesome little principality of Ulidia (Down),
though well stricken in years and old enough to know
better, in one of his excursions had forcibly compelled
the clergy of the country through which he passed to give
him free quarters, contrary to the law everywhere existing.
Congus, the Primate, jealous of the exemptions of his
order, complained of this sacrilege in a poetic message
addressed to Hugh Allan, who, as a Christian and a Prince,
was bound to espouse his quarrels. He marched into the
territory of the offender, defeated him in battle, cut
off his head on the threshold of the Church of Faughard,
and marched back again, his host chanting a war song
composed by their leader.

In this reign died Saint Gerald of Mayo, an Anglo-Saxon
Bishop, and apparently the head of a colony of his
countrymen, from whom that district is ever since called
"Mayo of the Saxons." The name, however, being a general
one for strangers from Britain about that period, just
as Dane became for foreigners from the Baltic in the next
century, is supposed to be incorrectly applied: the colony
being, it is said, really from Wales, of old British
stock, who had migrated rather than live under the yoke
of their victorious Anglo-Saxon Kings. The descendants
of these Welshmen are still to be traced, though intimately
intermingled with the original Belgic and later Milesian
settlers in Mayo, Sligo, and Galway--thus giving a peculiar
character to that section of the country, easily
distinguishable from all the rest.

Although Hugh Allan did not imitate his father's conduct
towards ecclesiastics, he felt bound by all-ruling custom
to avenge his father's death. In all ancient countries
the kinsmen of a murdered man were both by law and custom
the avengers of his blood. The members of the Greek
_phratry_, of the Roman _fatria_, or _gens_, of the
Germanic and Anglo-Saxon _guild_, and of the mediaeval
sworn _commune_, were all solemnly bound to avenge the
blood of any of their brethren, unlawfully slain. So that
the repulsive repetition of reprisals, which so disgusts
the modern reader in our old annals, is by no means a
phenomenon peculiar to the Irish state of society. It
was in the middle age and in early times common to all
Europe, to Britain and Germany, as well as to Greece and
Rome. It was, doubtless, under a sense of duty of this
sort that Hugh V. led into Leinster a large army (A.D.
733), and the day of Ath-Senaid fully atoned for the day
of Almain. Nine thousand of the men of Leinster were left
on the field, including most of their chiefs; the victorious
monarch losing a son, and other near kinsmen. Four years
later, he himself fell in an obscure contest near Kells,
in the plain of Meath. Some of his quartrains have come
down to us, and they breathe a spirit at once religious
and heroic--such as must have greatly endeared the Prince
who possessed it to his companions in arms. We are not
surprised, therefore, to find his reign a favourite epoch
with subsequent Bards and Storytellers.

The long and prosperous reign of Donald III. succeeded
(A.D. 739 to 759). He is almost the only one of this
series of Kings of whom it can be said that he commanded
in no notable battle. The annals of his reign are chiefly
filled with ordinary accidents, and the obits of the
learned. But its literary and religious record abounds
with bright names and great achievements, as we shall
find when we come to consider the educational and missionary
fruits of Christianity in the eighth century. While on
a pilgrimage to Durrow, a famous Columbian foundation in
Meath, and present King's County, Donald III. departed
this life, and in Durrow, by his own desire, his body
was interred.

Nial II. (surnamed of the Showers), son to FEARGAL and
brother of the warrior-Bard, Hugh V., was next invested
with the white wand of sovereignty. He was a prince less
warlike and more pious than his elder brother. The
_soubriquet_ attached to his name is accounted for by a
Bardic tale, which represents him as another Moses, at
whose prayer food fell from heaven in time of famine.
Whatever "showers" fell or wonders were wrought in his
reign, it is certain that after enjoying the kingly office
for seven years, Nial resigned, and retired to Iona,
there to pass the remainder of his days in penance and
meditation. Eight years he led the life of a monk in
that sacred Isle, where his grave is one of those of "the
three Irish Kings," still pointed out in the cemetery of
the Kings. He is but one among several Princes, his
cotemporaries, who had made the same election. We learn
in this same century, that Cellach, son of the King of
Connaught, died in Holy Orders, and that Bec, Prince of
Ulidia, and Ardgall, son of a later King of Connaught,
had taken the "crostaff" of the pilgrim, either for Iona
or Armagh, or some more distant shrine. Pilgrimages to
Rome and to Jerusalem seem to have been begun even before
this time, as we may infer from St. Adamnan's work on
the situation of the Holy Places, of which Bede gives
an abstract.

The reign of Donogh I. is the longest and the last among
the Kings of the eighth century (A.D. 776 to 797). The
Kings of Ireland had now not only abandoned Tara, but
one by one, the other royal residences in Meath as their
usual place of abode. As a consequence a local sovereignty
sprung up in the family of O'Melaghlin, a minor branch
of the ruling race. This house developing its power so
unexpectedly, and almost always certain to have the
national forces under the command of a Patron Prince at
their back, were soon involved in quarrels about boundaries,
both with Leinster and Munster. King Donogh, at the outset
of his reign, led his forces into both principalities,
and without battle received their hostages. Giving
hostages--generally the sons of the chiefs--was the usual
form of ratifying any treaty. Generally also, the Bishop
of the district, or its most distinguished ecclesiastic,
was called in as witness of the terms, and both parties
were solemnly sworn on the relics of Saints--the Gospels
of the Monasteries or Cathedrals--or the croziers of
their venerated founders. The breach of such a treaty
was considered "a violation of the relics of the saint,"
whose name had been invoked, and awful penalties were
expected to follow so heinous a crime. The hostages were
then carried to the residence of the King, to whom they
were entrusted, and while the peace lasted, enjoyed a
parole freedom, and every consideration due to their
rank. If of tender age they were educated with the same
care as the children of the household. But when war broke
out their situation was always precarious, and sometimes
dangerous. In a few instances they had even been put to
death, but this was considered a violation of all the
laws both of hospitality and chivalry; usually they were
removed to some strong secluded fort, and carefully
guarded as pledges to be employed, according to the
chances and changes of the war. That Donogh preferred
negotiation to war, we may infer by his course towards
Leinster and Munster, in the beginning of his reign, and
his "kingly parlee" at a later period (A.D. 783) with
FIACHNA, of Ulidia, son of that over-exacting Hugh Roin,
whose head was taken from his shoulders at the Church
door of Faughard. This "kingly parlee" was held on an
island off the Methian shore, called afterwards "King's
Island." But little good came of it. Both parties still
held their own views, so that the satirical poets asked
what was the use of the island, when one party "would
not come upon the land, nor the other upon the sea?"
However, we needs must agree with King Donogh, that war
is the last resort, and is only to be tried when all
other means have failed.

Twice during this reign the whole island was stricken
with panic, by extraordinary signs in the heavens, of
huge serpents coiling themselves through the stars, of
fiery bolts flying like shuttles from one side of the
horizon to the other, or shooting downward directly to
the earth. These atmospheric wonders were accompanied by
thunder and lightning so loud and so prolonged that men
hid themselves for fear in the caverns of the earth. The
fairs and markets were deserted by buyers and sellers;
the fields were abandoned by the farmers; steeples were
rent by lightning, and fell to the ground; the shingled
roofs of churches caught fire and burned whole buildings.
Shocks of earthquake were also felt, and round towers
and cyclopean masonry were strewn in fragments upon the
ground. These visitations first occurred in the second
year of Donogh, and returned again in 783. When, in the
next decade, the first Danish descent was made on the
coast of Ulster (A.D. 794), these signs and wonders were
superstitiously supposed to have been the precursors of
that far more terrible and more protracted visitation.

The Danes at first attracted little notice, but in the
last year of Donogh (A.D. 797) they returned in greater
force, and swept rapidly along the coast of Meath; it
was reserved for his successors of the following centuries
to face the full brunt of this new national danger.

But before encountering the fierce nations of the north,
and the stormy period they occupy, let us cast back a
loving glance over the world-famous schools and scholars
of the last two centuries. Hitherto we have only spoken
of certain saints, in connection with high affairs of
state. We must now follow them to the college and the
cloister, we must consider them as founders at home, and
as missionaries abroad; otherwise how could we estimate
all that is at stake for Erin and for Christendom, in
the approaching combat with the devotees of Odin,--the
deadly enemies of all Christian institutions?



We have now arrived at the close of the third century,
from the death of Saint Patrick, and find ourselves on
the eve of a protracted struggle with the heathen warriors
of Scandinavia; it is time, therefore, to look back on
the interval we have passed, and see what changes have
been wrought in the land, since its kings, instead of
waiting to be attacked at home, had made the surrounding
sea "foam with the oars" of their outgoing expeditions.

The most obvious change in the condition of the country
is traceable in its constitution and laws, into every
part of which, as was its wont from the beginning, the
spirit of Christianity sought patiently to infuse itself.
We have already spoken of the expurgation of the
constitution, which prohibited the observance of Pagan
rites to the kings, and imposed on them instead, certain
social obligations. This was a first change suggested by
Saint Patrick, and executed mainly by his disciple, Saint
Benignus. We have seen the legislative success which
attended the measures of Columbkill, Moling, and Adamnan;
in other reforms of minor importance the paramount
influence of the clerical order may be easily traced.

But it is in their relation as teachers of human and
divine science that the Irish Saints exercised their
greatest power, not only over their own countrymen, but
over a considerable part of Europe. The intellectual
leadership of western Europe--the glorious ambition of
the greatest nations--has been in turn obtained by Italy,
Prance, Britain and Germany. From the middle of the sixth
to the middle of the eighth century, it will hardly be
disputed that that leadership devolved on Ireland. All
the circumstances of the sixth century helped to confer
it upon the newly converted western isle; the number of
her schools, and the wisdom, energy, and zeal of her
masters, retained for her the proud distinction for two
hundred years. And when it passed away from her grasp,
she might still console herself with the grateful reflection
that the power she had founded and exercised, was divided
among British and continental schools, which her own
_alumni_ had largely contributed to form and establish.
In the northern Province, the schools most frequented
were those of Armagh, and of Bangor, on Belfast lough;
in Meath, the school of Clonard, and that of Clomnacnoise,
(near Athlone); in Leinster, the school of Taghmon
(_Ta-mun_), and Beg-Erin, the former near the banks of
the Slaney, the latter in Wexford harbour; in Munster,
the school of Lismore on the Blackwater, and of Mungret
(now Limerick), on the Shannon; in Connaught, the school
of "Mayo of the Saxons," and the schools of the Isles of
Arran. These seats of learning were almost all erected
on the banks of rivers, in situations easy of access, to
the native or foreign student; a circumstance which proved
most disastrous to them when the sea kings of the north
began to find their way to the shores of the island. They
derived their maintenance--not from taxing their pupils
--but in the first instance from public endowments. They
were essentially free schools; not only free as to the
lessons given, but the venerable Bede tells us they
supplied free bed and board and books to those who resorted
to them from abroad. The Prince and the Clansmen of every
principality in which a school was situated, endowed it
with a certain share--often an ample one--of the common
land of the clan. Exclusive rights of fishery, and
exclusive mill-privileges seem also to have been granted.
As to timber for building purposes and for fuel, it was
to be had for carrying and cutting. The right of quarry
went with the soil, wherever building stone was found.
In addition to these means of sustenance, a portion of
the collegiate clergy appeared to have discharged missionary
duty, and received offerings of the produce of the land.
We hear of periodical _quests_ or collections made for
the sustenance of these institutions, wherein the learned
Lectors and Doctors, no doubt, pleaded their claims to
popular favour, with irresistible eloquence. Individuals,
anxious to promote the spread of religion and of science,
endowed particular institutions out of their personal
means; Princes, Bishops, and pious ladies, contributed
to enlarge the bounds and increase the income of their
favourite foundations, until a generous emulation seems
to have seized on all the great families as well as on
the different Provinces, as to which could boast the most
largely attended schools, and the greatest number of
distinguished scholars. The love of the _alma mater_
--that college patriotism which is so sure a sign of the
noble-minded scholar--never received more striking
illustration than among the graduates of those schools.
Columbkill, in his new home among the Hebrides, invokes
blessings on blessings, on "the angels" with whom it was
once his happiness to walk in Arran, and Columbanus,
beyond the Alps, remembers with pride the school of
Bangor--the very name of which inspires him with poetic

The buildings, in which so many scholars were housed and
taught, must have been extensive. Some of the schools we
have mentioned were, when most flourishing, frequented
by one, two, three, and even, at some periods, as many
as seven thousand scholars. Such a population was alone
sufficient to form a large village; and if we add the
requisite number of teachers and attendants, we will have
an addition of at least one-third to the total. The
buildings seem to have been separately of no great size,
but were formed into streets, and even into something
like wards. Armagh was divided into three parts--
_trian-more_ (or the town proper), _trian-Patrick_, the
Cathedral close, and _trian-Sassenagh_, the Latin quarter,
the home of the foreign students. A tall sculptured
Cross, dedicated to some favourite saint, stood at the
bounds of these several wards, reminding the anxious
student to invoke their spiritual intercession as he
passed by. Early hours and vigilant night watches had
to be exercised to prevent conflagrations in such
village-seminaries, built almost wholly of wood, and
roofed with reeds or shingles. A Cathedral, or an Abbey
Church, a round tower, or a cell of some of the ascetic
masters, would probably be the only stone structure within
the limits. To the students, the evening star gave the
signal for retirement, and the morning sun for awaking.
When, at the sound of the early bell, two or three thousand
of them poured into the silent streets and made their
way towards the lighted Church, to join in the service
of matins, mingling, as they went or returned, the tongues
of the Gael, the Cimbri, the Pict, the Saxon, and the
Frank, or hailing and answering each other in the universal
language of the Roman Church, the angels in Heaven must
have loved to contemplate the union of so much perseverance
with so much piety.

The lives of the masters, not less than their lessons,
were studied and observed by their pupils. At that time,
as we gather from every authority, they were models of
simplicity. One Bishop is found, erecting with his own
hands, the _cashel_ or stone enclosure which surrounded
his cell; another is labouring in the field, and gives
his blessing to his visitors, standing between the stilts
of the plough. Most ecclesiastics work occasionally either
in wood, in bronze, in leather, or as scribes. The
decorations of the Church, if not the entire structure,
was the work of those who served at the altar. The
tabernacle, the rood-screen, the ornamental font; the
vellum on which the Psalms and Gospels were written; the
ornamented case which contained the precious volume, were
often of their making. The music which made the vale of
Bangor resound as if inhabited by angels, was their
composition; the hymns that accompanied it were their
own. "It is a poor Church that has no music," is one of
the oldest Irish proverbs; and the _Antiphonarium_ of
Bangor, as well as that of Armagh, remains to show that
such a want was not left unsupplied in the early Church.

All the contemporary schools were not of the same grade
nor of equal reputation. We constantly find a scholar,
after passing years in one place, transferring himself
to another, and sometimes to a third and a fourth. Some
masters were, perhaps, more distinguished in human Science;
others in Divinity. Columbkill studied in two or three
different schools, and _visited_ others, perhaps as
disputant or lecturer--a common custom in later years.
Nor should we associate the idea of under-age with the
students of whom we speak. Many of them, whether as
teachers or learners, or combining both characters
together, reached middle life before they ventured as
instructors upon the world. Forty years is no uncommon
age for the graduate of those days, when as yet the
discovery was unmade, that all-sufficient wisdom comes
with the first trace of down upon the chin of youth.

The range of studies seems to have included the greater
part of the collegiate course of our own times. The
language of the country, and the language of the Roman
Church; the languages of Scripture--Greek and Hebrew;
the logic of Aristotle, the writings of the Fathers,
especially of Pope Gregory the Great--who appears to have
been a favourite author with the Irish Church; the
defective Physics of the period; Mathematics, Music, and
Poetical composition went to complete the largest course.
When we remember that all the books were manuscripts;
that even paper had not yet been invented; that the best
parchment was equal to so much beaten gold, and a perfect
MS. was worth a king's ransom, we may better estimate
the difficulties in the way of the scholar of the seventh
century. Knowing these facts, we can very well credit
that part of the story of St. Columbkill's banishment
into Argyle, which turns on what might be called a
copyright dispute, in which the monarch took the side of
St. Finian of Clonard, (whose original MSS. his pupil
seems to have copied without permission,) and the Clan-Conal
stood up, of course, for their kinsman. This dispute is
even said to have led to the affair of Culdrum, in Sligo,
which is sometimes mentioned as "the battle of the book."
The same tendency of the national character which
overstocked the Bardic Order, becomes again visible in
its Christian schools; and if we could form anything like
an approximate census of the population, anterior to the
northern invasions, we would find that the proportion of
ecclesiastics was greater than has existed either before
or since in any Christian country. The vast designs of
missionary zeal drew off large bodies of those who had
entered Holy Orders; still the numbers engaged as teachers
in the great schools, as well as of those who passed
their lives in solitude and contemplation, must have been
out of all modern proportion to the lay inhabitants of
the Island.

The most eminent Irish Saints of the fifth century were
St. Ibar, St. Benignus and St. Kieran, of Ossory; in
the sixth, St. Bendan, of Clonfert; St. Brendan, of
Birr; St. Maccartin, of Clogher; St. Finian, of Moville;
St. Finbar, St. Cannice, St. Finian, of Clonard; and
St. Jarlath, of Tuam; in the seventh century, St. Fursey,
St. Laserian, Bishop of Leighlin; St. Kieran, Abbot of
Clonmacnoise; St. Comgall, Abbot of Bangor; St. Carthage,
Abbot of Lismore; St. Colman, Bishop of Dromore; St. Moling,
 Bishop of Ferns; St. Colman Ela, Abbot; St. Cummian,
"the White;" St. Fintan, Abbot; St. Gall, Apostle of
Switzerland; St. Fridolin, "the Traveller;" St. Columbanus,
Apostle of Burgundy and Lombardy; St. Killian, Apostle
of Franconia; St. Columbkill, Apostle of the Picts;
St. Cormac, called "the Navigator;" St. Cuthbert; and
St. Aidan, Apostle of Northumbria. In the eighth century
the most illustrious names are St. Cataldus, Bishop of
Tarentum; St. Adamnan, Abbot of Iona; St. Rumold, Apostle
of Brabant; Clement and Albinus, "the Wisdom-seekers;"
and St. Feargal or Virgilius, Bishop of Saltzburgh. Of
holy women in the same ages, we have some account of
St. Samthan, in the eighth century; of St. Bees,
St. Dympna and St. Syra, in the seventh century, and of
St. Monina, St. Ita of Desies, and St. Bride, or Bridget,
of Kildare, in the sixth. The number of conventual
institutions for women established in those ages, is less
easily ascertained than the number of monastic houses
for men; but we may suppose them to have borne some
proportion to each other, and to have even counted by
hundreds. The veneration in which St. Bridget was held
during her life, led many of her countrywomen to embrace
the religious state, and no less than fourteen _Saints_,
her namesakes, are recorded. It was the custom of those
days to call all holy persons who died in the odour of
sanctity, _Saints_, hence national or provincial tradition
venerates very many names, which the reader may look for
in vain, in the Roman calendar.

The intellectual labours of the Irish schools, besides
the task of teaching such immense numbers of men of all
nations on their own soil, and the missionary conquests
to which I have barely alluded, were diversified by
controversies, partly scientific and partly theological
--such as the "Easter Controversy," the "Tonsure
Controversy," and that maintained by "Feargal the Geometer,"
as to the existence of the Antipodes.

The discussion, as to the proper time of observing Easter,
which had occupied the doctors of the Council of Nice in
the fourth century, was raised in Ireland and in Britain
early in the sixth, and complete uniformity was not
established till far on in the eighth. It occupied the
thoughts of several generations of the chief men of the
Irish Church, and some of their arguments still fortunately
survive, to attest their learning and tolerance, as well
as their zeal. St. Patrick had introduced in the fifth
century the computation of time then observed in Gaul,
and to this custom many of the Irish doctors rigidly
adhered, long after the rest of Christendom had agreed
to adopt the Alexandrian computation. Great names were
found on both sides of the controversy: Columbanus,
Fintan, and Aidan, for adhering exactly to the rule of
St. Patrick; Cummian, the White, Laserian and Adamnan,
in favour of strict agreement with Rome and the East.
Monks of the same Monastery and Bishops of the same
Province maintained opposite opinions with equal ardour
and mutual charity. It was a question of discipline, not
a matter of faith; but it involved a still greater
question, whether national churches were to plead the
inviolability of their local usages, even on points of
discipline, against the sense and decision of the Universal

In the year of our Lord 630, the Synod of Leighlin was
held, under the shelter of the ridge of Leinster, and
the presidency of St. Laserian. Both parties at length
agreed to send deputies to Rome, as "children to their
mother," to learn her decision. Three years later, that
decision was made known, and the midland and southern
dioceses at once adopted it. The northern churches,
however, still held out, under the lead of Armagh and
the influence of Iona, nor was it till a century later
that this scandal of celebrating Easter on two different
days in the same church was entirely removed. In
justification of the Roman rule, St. Cummian, about the
middle of the seventh century, wrote his famous epistle
to Segenius, Abbot of Iona, of the ability and learning
of which all modern writers from Archbishop Usher to
Thomas Moore, speak in terms of the highest praise. It
is one of the few remaining documents of that controversy.
A less vital question of discipline arose about the
tonsure. The Irish shaved the head in a semicircle from
temple to temple, while the Latin usage was to shave the
crown, leaving an external circle of hair to typify the
crown of thorns. At the conference of Whitby (A.D. 664)
this was one of the subjects of discussion between the
clergy of Iona, and those who followed the Roman method--but
it never assumed the importance of the Easter controversy.

In the following century an Irish Missionary, Virgilius,
of Saltzburgh, (called by his countrymen "Feargal, the
Geometer,") was maintaining in Germany against no less
an adversary than St. Boniface, the sphericity of the
earth and the existence of antipodes. His opponents
endeavoured to represent him, or really believed him to
hold, that there were other men, on our earth, for whom
the Redeemer had not died; on this ground they appealed
to Pope Zachary against him; but so little effect had
this gross distortion of his true doctrine at Rome, when
explanations were given, that Feargal was soon afterwards
raised to the See of Saltzburgh, and subsequently canonized
by Pope Gregory IX. In the ninth century we find an Irish
geographer and astronomer of something like European
reputation in Dicuil and Dungal, whose treatises and
epistles have been given to the press. Like their
compatriot, Columbanus, these accomplished men had passed
their youth and early manhood in their own country, and
to its schools are to be transferred the compliments paid
to their acquirements by such competent judges as Muratori,
Latronne, and Alexander von Humboldt. The origin of the
scholastic philosophy--which pervaded Europe for nearly
ten centuries--has been traced by the learned Mosheim to
the same insular source. Whatever may now be thought of
the defects or shortcomings of that system, it certainly
was not unfavourable either to wisdom or eloquence, since
among its professors may be reckoned the names of St.
Thomas and St. Bernard.

We must turn away our eyes from the contemplation of
those days in which were achieved for Ireland the title
of the land of saints and doctors. Another era opens
before us, and we can already discern the long ships of
the north, their monstrous beaks turned towards the holy
Isle, their sides hung with glittering shields and their
benches thronged with fair-haired warriors, chanting as
they advance the fierce war songs of their race. Instead
of the monk's familiar voice on the river banks we are
to hear the shouts of strange warriors from a far-off
country; and for matin hymn and vesper song, we are to
be beset through a long and stormy period, with sounds
of strife and terror, and deadly conflict.




Hugh VI., surnamed Ornie, succeeded to the throne vacant
by the death of Donogh I. (A.D. 797), and reigned twenty-two
years; Conor II. succeeded (A.D. 819), and reigned fourteen
years; Nial III. (called from the place of his death Nial
of Callan), reigned thirteen years; Malachy I. succeeded
(A.D. 845), and reigned fifteen years; Hugh VII. succeeded
and reigned sixteen years (dying A.D. 877); Flan (surnamed
Flan of the Shannon) succeeded at the latter date, and
reigned for thirty-eight years, far into the tenth century.
Of these six kings, whose reigns average twenty years
each, we may remark that not one died by violence, if we
except perhaps Nial of Callan, drowned in the river of
that name in a generous effort to save the life of one
of his own servants. Though no former princes had ever
encountered dangers equal to these--yet in no previous
century was the person of the ruler so religiously
respected. If this was evident in one or two instances
only, it would be idle to lay much stress upon it; but
when we find the same truth holding good of several
successive reigns, it is not too much to attribute it to
that wide diffusion of Christian morals, which we have
pointed out as the characteristic of the two preceding
centuries. The kings of this age owed their best protection
to the purer ethics which overflowed from Armagh and
Bangor and Lismore; and if we find hereafter the regicide
habits of former times partially revived, it will only
be after the new Paganism--the Paganism of interminable
anti-Christian invasions--had recovered the land, and
extinguished the beacon lights of the three first Christian

The enemy, who were now to assault the religious and
civil institutions of the Irish, must be admitted to
possess many great military qualities. They certainly
exhibit, in the very highest degree, the first of all
military virtues--unconquerable courage. Let us say
cheerfully, that history does not present in all its
volumes a braver race of men than the Scandinavians of
the ninth century. In most respects they closely resembled
the Gothic tribes, who, whether starting into historic
life on the Euxine or the Danube, or faintly heard of by
the Latins from the far off Baltic, filled with constant
alarm the Roman statesmen of the fourth century; nor can
the invasions of what we may call the maritime Goths be
better introduced to the reader than by a rapid sketch
of the previous triumphs of their kindred tribes over
the Roman Empire.

It was in the year of our Lord 378 that these long-dreaded
barbarians defeated the Emperor Valens in the plain of
Adrianople, and as early as 404--twenty-six years after
their first victory in Eastern Europe--they had taken
and burned great Rome herself. Again and again--in 410,
in 455, and in 472--they captured and plundered the
Imperial City. In the same century they had established
themselves in Burgundy, in Spain, and in Northern Africa;
in the next, another branch of the Gothic stock twice
took Rome; and yet another founded the Lombard Kingdom
in Northern Italy. With these Goths thus for a time
masters of the Roman Empire, whose genius and temper has
entered so deeply into all subsequent civilization, war
was considered the only pursuit worthy of men. According
to their ideas of human freedom, that sacred principle
was supposed to exist only in force and by force; they
had not the faintest conception, and at first received
with unbounded scorn the Christian doctrine of the unity
of the human race, the privileges and duties annexed to
Christian baptism, and the sublime ideal of the Christian
republic. But they were very far from being so cruel or
so faithless as their enemies represented them; they were
even better than they cared to represent themselves. And
they had amongst them men of the highest capacity and
energy, well worthy to be the founders of new nations.
Alaric, Attila, and Genseric, were fierce and unmerciful
it is true; but their acts are not all written in blood;
they had their better moments and higher purposes in the
intervals of battle; and the genius for civil government
of the Gothic race was in the very beginning demonstrated
by such rulers as Theodoric in Italy and Clovis in Gaul.
The rear guard of this irresistible barbaric invasion
was now about to break in upon Europe by a new route;
instead of the long land marches by which they had formerly
concentrated from the distant Baltic and from the
tributaries of the Danube, on the capital of the Roman
empire; instead of the tedious expeditions striking across
the Continent, hewing their paths through dense forests,
arrested by rapid rivers and difficult mountains, the
last northern invaders of Europe had sufficiently advanced
in the arts of shipbuilding and navigation to strike
boldly into the open sea and commence their new conquests
among the Christian islands of the West. The defenders
of Roman power and Christian civilization in the fifth
and sixth centuries, were arrayed against a warlike but
pastoral people encumbered with their women and children;
the defenders of the same civilization, in the British
Islands in the ninth and tenth centuries, were contending
with kindred tribes, who had substituted maritime arts
and habits for the pastoral arts and habits of the
companions of Attila and Theodoric. The Gothic invasion
of Roman territory in the earlier period was, with the
single exception of the naval expeditions of Genseric
from his new African Kingdom, a continental war; and
notwithstanding the partiality of Genseric for his fleet,
as an arm of offence and defence, his companions and
successors abandoned the ocean as an uncongenial element.
The only parallel for the new invasion, of which we are
now to speak, is to be found in the history and fortunes
of the Saxons of the fifth century, first the allies and
afterwards the conquerors of part of Britain. But even
their descendants in England had not kept pace, either
in the arts of navigation or in thirst for adventure,
with their distant relatives, who remained two centuries
later among the friths and rocks of Scandinavia.

The first appearance of these invaders on the Irish and
British coasts occurred in 794. Their first descent on
Ireland was at Rathlin island, which may be called the
outpost of Erin, towards the north; their second attempt
(A.D. 797) was at a point much more likely to arouse
attention--at Skerries, off the coast of Meath (now
Dublin); in 803, and again in 806, they attacked and
plundered the holy Iona; but it was not until a dozen
years later they became really formidable. In 818 they
landed at Howth; and the same year, and probably the same
party, sacked the sacred edifices in the estuary of the
Slaney, by them afterwards called Wexford; in 820 they
plundered Cork, and in 824--most startling blow of
all--they sacked and burned the schools of Bangor. The
same year they revisited Iona; and put to death many of
its inmates; destroyed Moville; received a severe check
in Lecale, near Strangford lough (one of their favourite
stations). Another party fared better in a land foray
into Ossory, where they defeated those who endeavoured
to arrest their progress, and carried off a rich booty.
In 830 and 831, their ravages were equally felt in
Leinster, in Meath, and in Ulster, and besides many
prisoners of princely rank, they plundered the primatial
city of Armagh for the first time, in the year 832. The
names of their chief captains, at this period, are
carefully preserved by those who had so many reasons to
remember them; and we now begin to hear of the Ivars,
Olafs, and Sitricks, strangely intermingled with the
Hughs, Nials, Connors, and Felims, who contended with
them in battle or in diplomacy. It was not till the middle
of this century (A.D. 837) that they undertook to fortify
Dublin, Limerick, and some other harbours which they had
seized, to winter in Ireland, and declare their purpose
to be the complete conquest of the country.

The earliest of these expeditions seem to have been annual
visitations; and as the northern winter sets in about
October, and the Baltic is seldom navigable before May,
the summer was the season of their depredations. Awaiting
the breaking up of the ice, the intrepid adventurers
assembled annually upon the islands in the Cattegat or
on the coast of Norway, awaiting the favourable moment
of departure. Here they beguiled their time between the
heathen rites they rendered to their gods, their wild
bacchanal festivals, and the equipment of their galleys.
The largest ship built in Norway, and probably in the
north, before the eleventh century, had 34 banks of oars.
The largest class of vessel carried from 100 to 120 men.
The great fleet which invaded Ireland in 837 counted 120
vessels, which, if of average size for such long voyages,
would give a total force of some 6,000 men. As the whole
population of Denmark, in the reign of Canute who died
in 1035, is estimated at 800,000 souls, we may judge from
their fleets how large a portion of the men were engaged
in these piratical pursuits. The ships on which they
prided themselves so highly were flat-bottomed craft,
with little or no keel, the sides of wicker work, covered
with strong hides. They were impelled either by sails or
oars as the changes of the weather allowed; with favourable
winds they often made the voyage in three days. As if to
favour their designs, the north and north-west blast
blows for a hundred days of the year over the sea they
had to traverse. When land was made, in some safe estuary,
their galleys were drawn up on shore, a convenient distance
beyond highwater mark, where they formed a rude camp,
watch-fires were lighted, sentinels set, and the fearless
adventurers slept as soundly as if under their own roofs,
in their own country. Their revels after victory, or on
returning to their homes, were as boisterous as their
lives. In food they looked more to quantity than quality,
and one of their most determined prejudices against
Christianity was that it did not sanction the eating of
horse flesh. An exhilarating beer, made from heath, or
from the spruce tree, was their principal beverage, and
the recital of their own adventures, or the national
songs of the Scalds, were their most cherished amusement.
Many of the Vikings were themselves Scalds, and excelled,
as might be expected, in the composition of war songs.

The Pagan belief of this formidable race was in harmony
with all their thoughts and habits, and the exact opposite
of Christianity. In the beginning of time, according to
their tradition, there was neither heaven nor earth, but
only universal chaos and a bottomless abyss, where dwelt
Surtur in an element of unquenchable fire. The generation
of their gods proceeded amid the darkness and void, from
the union of heat and moisture, until Odin and the other
children of Asa-Thor, or the Earth, slew Ymer, or the
Evil One, and created the material universe out of his
lifeless remains. These heroic conquerors also collected
the sparks of eternal fire flying about in the abyss,
and fixed them as stars in the firmament. In addition,
they erected in the far East, Asgard, the City of the
Gods; on the extreme shore of the ocean stood Utgard,
the City of Nor and his giants, and the wars of these
two cities, of their gods and giants, fill the first and
most obscure ages of the Scandinavian legend. The human
race had as yet no existence until Odin created a man
and woman, Ask and Embla, out of two pieces of wood (ash
and elm), thrown upon the beach by the waves of the sea.

Of all the gods of Asgard, Odin was the first in place
and power; from his throne he saw everything that happened
on the earth; and lest anything should escape his knowledge,
two ravens, Spirit and Memory, sat on his shoulders, and
whispered in his ears whatever they had seen in their
daily excursions round the world. Night was a divinity
and the father of Day, who travelled alternately throughout
space, with two celebrated steeds called Shining-mane
and Frost-mane. Friga was the daughter and wife of Odin;
the mother of Thor, the Mars, and of the beautiful Balder,
the Apollo, of Asgard. The other gods were of inferior
rank to these, and answered to the lesser divinities of
Greece and Rome. Niord was the Neptune, and Frega, daughter
of Niord, was the Venus of the North. Heimdall, the
watchman of Asgard, whose duty it was to prevent the
rebellious giants scaling by surprise the walls of the
celestial city, dwelt under the end of the rainbow; his
vision was so perfect he could discern objects 100 leagues
distant, either by night or day, and his ear was so fine
he could hear the wool growing on the sheep, and the
grass springing in the meadows.

The hall of Odin, which had 540 gates, was the abode of
heroes who had fought bravest in battle. Here they were
fed with the lard of a wild boar, which became whole
every night, though devoured every day, and drank endless
cups of hydromel, drawn from the udder of an inexhaustible
she-goat, and served out to them by the Nymphs, who had
counted the slain, in cups which were made of the skulls
of their enemies. When they were wearied of such
enjoyments, the sprites of the Brave exercised themselves
in single combat, hacked each other to pieces on the
floor of Valhalla, resumed their former shape, and returned
to their lard and their hydromel.

Believing firmly in this system--looking forward with
undoubting faith to such an eternity--the Scandinavians
were zealous to serve their gods according to their creed.
Their rude hill altars gave way as they increased in
numbers and wealth, to spacious temples at Upsala, Ledra,
Tronheim, and other towns and ports. They had three great
festivals, one at the beginning of February, in honour
of Thor, one in Spring, in honour of Odin, and one in
Summer, in honour of the fruitful daughter of Niord. The
ordinary sacrifices were animals and birds; but every
ninth year there was a great festival at Upsala, at which
the kings and nobles were obliged to appear in person,
and to make valuable offerings. Wizards and sorcerers,
male and female, haunted the temples, and good and ill
winds, length of life, and success in war, were spiritual
commodities bought and sold. Ninety-nine human victims
were offered at the great Upsala festival, and in all
emergencies such sacrifices were considered most acceptable
to the gods. Captives and slaves were at first selected;
but, in many cases, princes did not spare their subjects,
nor fathers their own children. The power of a Priesthood,
who could always enforce such a system, must have been
unbounded and irresistible.

The active pursuits of such a population were necessarily
maritime. In their short summer, such crops as they
planted ripened rapidly, but their chief sustenance was
animal food and the fish that abounded in their waters.
The artizans in highest repute among them were the
shipwrights and smiths. The hammer and anvil were held
in the highest honour; and of this class, the armorers
held the first place. The kings of the North had no
standing armies, but their lieges were summoned to war
by an arrow in Pagan times, and a cross after their
conversion. Their chief dependence was in infantry,
which they formed into wedge-like columns, and so, clashing
their shields and singing hymns to Odin, they advanced
against their enemies. Different divisions were differently
armed; some with a short two-edged sword and a heavy
battle-axe; others with the sling, the javelin, and the
bow. The shield was long and light, commonly of wood and
leather, but for the chiefs, ornamented with brass, with
silver, and even with gold. Locking the shields together
formed a rampart which it was not easy to break; in bad
weather the concave shield seems to have served the
purpose of our umbrella; in sea-fights the vanquished
often escaped by swimming ashore on their shields. Armour
many of them wore; the Berserkers, or champions, were so
called from always engaging, _bare_ of defensive armour.

Such were the men, the arms, and the creed, against which
the Irish of the ninth age, after three centuries of
exemption from foreign war, were called upon to combat.
A people, one-third of whose youth and manhood had embraced
the ecclesiastical state, and all whose tribes now
professed the religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness,
were called to wrestle with a race whose religion was
one of blood, and whose beatitude was to be in proportion
to the slaughter they made while on earth. The Northman
hated Christianity as a rival religion, and despised it
as an effeminate one. He was the soldier of Odin, the
elect of Valhalla; and he felt that the offering most
acceptable to his sanguinary gods was the blood of those
religionists who denied their existence and execrated
their revelation. The points of attack, therefore, were
almost invariably the great seats of learning and religion.
There, too, was to be found the largest bulk of the
portable wealth of the country, in richly adorned altars,
jewelled chalices, and shrines of saints. The ecclesiastical
map is the map of their campaigns in Ireland. And it is
to avenge or save these innumerable sacred places--as
countless as the Saints of the last three centuries--that
the Christian population have to rouse themselves year
after year, hurrying to a hundred points at the same
time. To the better and nobler spirits the war becomes
a veritable crusade, and many of those slain in
single-hearted defence of their altars may well be
accounted martyrs--but a war so protracted and so
devastating will be found, in the sequel, to foster and
strengthen many of the worst vices as well as some of
the best virtues of our humanity.

The early events are few and ill-known. During the reign
of Hugh VI., who died in 819, their hostile visits were few
and far between; his successors, Conor II. and Nial III.,
were destined to be less fortunate in this respect. During
the reign of Conor, Cork, Lismore, Dundalk, Bangor and
Armagh, were all surprised, plundered, and abandoned by
"the Gentiles," as they are usually called in Irish
annals; and with the exception of two skirmishes in which
they were worsted on the coasts of Down and Wexford, they
seem to have escaped with impunity. At Bangor they shook
the bones of the revered founder out of the costly shrine
before carrying it off; on their first visit to Kildare
they contented themselves with taking the gold and silver
ornaments of the tomb of St. Bridget, without desecrating
the relics; their main attraction at Armagh was the same,
but there the relics seemed to have escaped. When, in
830, the brotherhood of Iona apprehended their return,
they carried into Ireland, for greater safety, the relics
of St. Columbkill. Hence it came that most of the memorials
of SS. Patrick, Bridget, and Columbkill, were afterwards
united at Downpatrick.

While these deplorable sacrileges, too rapidly executed
perhaps to be often either prevented or punished, were
taking place, Conor the King had on his hand a war of
succession, waged by the ablest of his contemporaries,
Felim, King of Munster, who continued during this and
the subsequent reign to maintain a species of rival
monarchy in Munster. It seems clear enough that the
abandonment of Tara, as the seat of authority, greatly
aggravated the internal weakness of the Milesian
constitution. While over-centralization is to be dreaded
as the worst tendency of imperial power, it is certain
that the want of a sufficient centralization has proved
as fatal, on the other hand, to the independence of many
nations. And anarchical usages once admitted, we see from
the experience of the German Empire, and the Italian
republics, how almost impossible it is to apply a remedy.
In the case before us, when the Irish Kings abandoned
the old mensal domain and betook themselves to their own
patrimony, it was inevitable that their influence and
authority over the southern tribes should diminish and
disappear. Aileach, in the far North, could never be to
them what Tara had been. The charm of conservatism, the
halo of ancient glory, could not be transferred. Whenever,
therefore, ambitious and able Princes arose in the South,
they found the border tribes rife for backing their
pretensions against the Northern dynasty. The Bards, too,
plied their craft, reviving the memory of former times,
when Heber the Fair divided Erin equally with Heremon,
and when Eugene More divided it a second time with Con
of the Hundred Battles. Felim, the son of Crimthan, the
contemporary of Conor II. and Nial III., during the whole
term of their rule, was the resolute assertor of these
pretensions, and the Bards of his own Province do not
hesitate to confer on him the high title of _Ard-Righ_.
As a punishment for adhering to the Hy-Nial dynasty, or
for some other offence, this Christian king, in rivalry
with "the Gentiles," plundered Kildare, Burrow, and
Clonmacnoise--the latter perhaps for siding with Connaught
in the dispute as to whether the present county of Clare
belonged to Connaught or Munster. Twice he met in conference
with the monarch at Birr and at Cloncurry--at another
time he swept the plain of Meath, and held temporary
court in the royal rath of Tara. With all his vices lie
united an extraordinary energy, and during his time, no
Danish settlement was established on the Southern rivers.
Shortly before his decease (A.D. 846) he resigned his
crown and retired from the world, devoting the short
remainder of his days to penance and mortification. What
we know of his ambition and ability makes us regret that
he ever appeared upon the scene, or that he had not been
born of that dominant family, who alone were accustomed
to give kings to the whole country.

King Conor died (A.D. 833), and was succeeded by Nial III.,
surnamed Nial of Callan. The military events of this last
reign are so intimately bound up with the more brilliant
career of the next ruler--Melaghlin, or Malachy I.--that
we must reserve them for the introduction to the next



When, in the year 833, Nial III. received the usual homage
and hostages, which ratified his title of _Ard-Righ_,
the northern invasion had clearly become the greatest
danger that ever yet had threatened the institutions of
Erin. Attacks at first predatory and provincial had so
encouraged the Gentile leaders of the second generation
that they began to concert measures and combine plans
for conquest and colonization. To the Vikings of Norway
the fertile Island with which they were now so familiar,
whose woods were bent with the autumnal load of acorns,
mast, and nuts, and filled with numerous herds of
swine--their favourite food--whose pleasant meadows were
well stored with beeves and oxen, whose winter was often
as mild as their northern summer, and whose waters were
as fruitful in fish as their own Lofoden friths; to these
men, this was a prize worth fighting for; and for it they
fought long and desperately.

King Nial inherited a disputed sovereignty from his
predecessor, and the Southern annalists say he did homage
to Felim of Munster, while those of the North--and with
them the majority of historians--reject this statement
as exaggerated and untrue. He certainly experienced
continual difficulty in maintaining his supremacy, not
only from the Prince of Cashel, but from lords of lesser
grade--like those of Ossory and Ulidia; so that we may
say, while he had the title of King of Ireland, he was,
in fact, King of no more than Leath-Con, or the Northern
half. The central Province, Meath, long deserted by the
monarchs, had run wild into independence, and was parcelled
out between two or three chiefs, descendants of the same
common ancestor as the kings, but distinguished from them
by the tribe-name of "the _Southern_ Hy-Nial." Of these
heads of new houses, by far the ablest and most famous
was Melaghlin, who dwelt near Mullingar, and lorded it
over western Meath; a name with which we shall become
better acquainted presently. It does not clearly appear
that Melaghlin was one of those who actively resisted
the prerogatives of this monarch, though others of the
Southern Hy-Nial did at first reject his authority, and
were severely punished for their insubordination, the
year after his assumption of power.

In the fourth year of Nial III. (A.D. 837), arrived the
great Norwegian fleet of 120 sail, whose commanders first
attempted, on a combined plan, the conquest of Erin.
Sixty of the ships entered the Boyne; the other sixty
the Liffey. This formidable force, according to all Irish
accounts, was soon after united under one leader, who is
known in our Annals as _Turgeis_ or _Turgesius_, but of
whom no trace can be found, under that name, in the
chronicles of the Northmen. Every effort to identify him
in the records of his native land has hitherto failed--so
that we are forced to conclude that he must have been
one of those wandering sea-kings, whose fame was won
abroad, and whose story, ending in defeat, yet entailing
no dynastic consequences on his native land, possessed
no national interest for the authors of the old Norse
Sagas. To do all the Scandinavian chroniclers justice,
in cases which come directly under their notice, they
acknowledge defeat as frankly as they claim victory
proudly. Equal praise may be given to the Irish annalists
in recording the same events, whether at first or
second-hand. In relation to the campaigns and sway of
Turgesius, the difficulty we experience in separating
what is true from what is exaggerated or false, is not
created for us by the annalists, but by the bards and
story-tellers, some of whose inventions, adopted by
_Cambrensis_, have been too readily received by subsequent
writers. For all the acts of national importance with
which his name can be intelligibly associated, we prefer
to follow in this as in other cases, the same sober
historians who condense the events of years and generations
into the shortest space and the most matter of fact

If we were to receive the chronology while rejecting the
embellishments of the Bards, Turgesius must have first
come to Ireland with one of the expeditions of the year
820, since they speak of him as having been "the scourge
of the country for seventeen years," before he assumed
the command of the forces landed from the fleet of 837.
Nor is it unreasonable to suppose that an accurate
knowledge of the country, acquired by years of previous
warfare with its inhabitants, may have been one of the
grounds upon which the chief command was conferred on
Turgesius. This knowledge was soon put to account; Dublin
was taken possession of, and a strong fort, according to
the Scandinavian method, was erected on the hill where
now stands the Castle. This fort and the harbour beneath
it were to be the _rendezvous_ and arsenal for all future
operations against Leinster, and the foundation of foreign
power then laid, continued in foreign hands, with two or
three brief intervals, until transferred to the Anglo-Norman
chivalry, three centuries and a half later. Similar
lodgment was made at Waterford, and a third was attempted
at Limerick, but at this period without success; the
Danish fort at the latter point is not thought older than
the year 855. But Turgesius--if, indeed, the independent
acts of cotemporary and even rival chiefs be not too
often attributed to him--was not content with fortifying
the estuaries of some principal rivers; he established
inland centres of operation, of which the cardinal one
was on Lough Ree, the expansion of the Shannon, north of
Athlone; another was at a point called Lyndwachill, on
Lough Neagh. On both these waters were stationed fleets
of boats, constructed for that service, and communicating
with the forts on shore. On the eastern border of Lough
Ree, in the midst of its meadows, stood Clonmacnoise,
rich with the offerings and endowments of successive
generations. Here, three centuries before, in the heart
of the desert, St. Kieran had erected with his own hands
a rude sylvan cell, where, according to the allegory of
tradition, "the first monks who joined him," were the
fox, the wolf, and the bear; but time had wrought wonders
on that hallowed ground, and a group of churches--at one
time, as many as ten in number--were gathered within two
or three acres, round its famous schools, and presiding
Cathedral. Here it was Turgesius made his usual home,
and from the high altar of the Cathedral his unbelieving
Queen was accustomed to issue her imperious mandates in
his absence. Here, for nearly seven years, this conqueror
and his consort exercised their far-spread and terrible
power. According to the custom of their own country--a
custom attributed to Odin as its author--they exacted
from every inhabitant subject to their sway--a piece of
money annually, the forfeit for the non-payment of which
was the loss of the nose, hence called "nose-money."
Their other exactions were a union of their own northern
imposts, with those levied by the chiefs whose authority
they had superseded, but whose prerogatives they asserted
for themselves. Free quarters for their soldiery, and
a system of inspection extending to every private relation
of life, were the natural expedients of a tyranny so
odious. On the ecclesiastical order especially their yoke
bore with peculiar weight, since, although avowed Pagans,
they permitted no religious house to stand, unless under
an Abbot, or at least an _Erenach_ (or Treasurer) of
their approval. Such is the complete scheme of oppression
presented to us, that it can only be likened to a monstrous
spider-web spread from the centre of the Island over its
fairest and most populous districts. Glendalough, Ferns,
Castle-Dermid, and Kildare in the east; Lismore, Cork,
Clonfert, in the southern country; Dundalk, Bangor, Derry,
and Armagh in the north; all groaned under this triumphant
despot, or his colleagues. In the meanwhile King Nial
seems to have struggled resolutely with the difficulties
of his lot, and in every interval of insubordination to
have struck boldly at the common enemy. But the tide of
success for the first few years after 837 ran strongly
against him. The joint hosts from the Liffey and the
Boyne swept the rich plains of Meath, and in an engagement
at Invernabark (the present Bray) gave such a complete
defeat to the southern Hy-Nial clans as prevented them
making head again in the field, until some summers were
past and gone. In this campaign Saxolve, who is called
"the chief of the foreigners," was slain; and to him,
therefore, if to any commander-in-chief, Turgesius must
have succeeded. The shores of all the inland lakes were
favourite sites for Raths and Churches, and the beautiful
country around Lough Erne shared the fiery ordeal which
blazed on Lough Ree and Lough Neagh. In 839 the men of
Connaught also suffered a defeat equal to that experienced
by those of Meath in the previous campaign; but more
unfortunate than the Methians, they lost their leader
and other chiefs on the field. In 840, Ferns and Cork
were given to the flames, and the fort at Lyndwachill,
or Magheralin, poured out its ravages in every direction
over the adjacent country, sweeping off flocks, herds,
and prisoners, laymen and ecclesiastics, to their ships.
The northern depredators counted among their captives
"several Bishops and learned men," of whom the Abbot of
Clogher and the Lord of Galtrim are mentioned by name.
Their equally active colleagues of Dublin and Waterford
took captive, Hugh, Abbot of Clonenagh, and Foranan,
Archbishop of Armagh, who had fled southwards with many
of the relics of the Metropolitan Church, escaping from
one danger only to fall into another a little farther
off. These prisoners were carried into Munster, where
Abbot Hugh suffered martyrdom at their hands, but the
Archbishop, after being carried to their fleet at Limerick,
seems to have been rescued or ransomed, as we find him
dying in peace at Armagh in the next reign. The martyrs
of these melancholy times were very numerous, but the
exact particulars being so often unrecorded it is impossible
to present the reader with an intelligible account of
their persons and sufferings. When the Anglo-Normans
taunted the Irish that their Church had no martyrs to
boast of, they must have forgotten the exploits of their
Norse kinsmen about the middle of this century.

But the hour of retribution was fast coming round, and
the native tribes, unbound, divided, confused, and long
unused to foreign war, were fast recovering their old
martial experience, and something like a politic sense
of the folly of their border feuds. Nothing perhaps so
much tended to arouse and combine them together as the
capture of the successor of Saint Patrick, with all his
relics, and his imprisonment among a Pagan host, in Irish
waters. National humiliation could not much farther go,
and as we read we pause, prepared for either alternative
--mute submission or a brave uprising. King Nial seems
to have been in this memorable year, 843, defending as
well as he might his ancestral province--Ulster--against
the ravagers of Lough Neagh, and still another party
whose ships flocked into Lough Swilly. In the ancient
plain of Moynith, watered by the little river Finn, (the
present barony of Raphoe,) he encountered the enemy, and
according to the Annals, "a countless number fell"--victory
being with Nial. In the same year, or the next, Turgesius
was captured by Melaghlin, Lord of Westmeath, apparently
by stratagem, and put to death by the rather novel process
of drowning. The Bardic tale told to _Cambrensis_, or
parodied by him from an old Greek legend, of the death
by which Turgesius died, is of no historical authority.
According to this tale, the tyrant of Lough Ree conceived
a passion for the fair daughter of Melaghlin, and demanded
her of her father, who, fearing to refuse, affected to
grant the infamous request, but despatched in her stead,
to the place of assignation, twelve beardless youths,
habited as maidens, to represent his daughter and her
attendants; by these maskers the Norwegian and his boon
companions were assassinated, after they had drank to
excess and laid aside their arms and armour. For all this
superstructure of romance there is neither ground-work
nor license in the facts themselves, beyond this, that
Turgesius was evidently captured by some clever stratagem.
We hear of no battle in Meath or elsewhere against him
immediately preceding the event; nor, is it likely that
a secondary Prince, as Melaghlin then was, could have
hazarded an engagement with the powerful master of Lough
Ree. If the local traditions of Westmeath may be trusted,
where _Cambrensis_ is rejected, the Norwegian and Irish
principals in the tragedy of Lough Owel were on visiting
terms just before the denouement, and many curious
particulars of their peaceful but suspicious intercourse
used to be related by the modern story-tellers around
Castle-pollard. The anecdote of the rookery, of which
Melaghlin complained, and the remedy for which his visitor
suggested to be "to cut down the trees and the rooks
would fly," has a suspicious look of the "tall poppies"
of the Roman and Grecian legend; two things only do we
know for certain about the matter: _firstly_, that
Turgesius was taken and drowned in Lough Owel in the year
843 or 844; and _secondly_, that this catastrophe was
brought about by the agency and order of his neighbour,

The victory of Moynith and the death of Turgesius were
followed by some local successes against other fleets
and garrisons of the enemy. Those of Lough Ree seem to
have abandoned their fort, and fought their way (gaining
in their retreat the only military advantage of that
year) towards Sligo, where some of their vessels had
collected to bear them away. Their colleagues of Dublin,
undeterred by recent reverses, made their annual foray
southward into Ossory, in 844, and immediately we find
King Nial moving up from the north to the same scene of
action. In that district he met his death in an effort
to save the life of a _gilla_, or common servant. The
river of Callan being greatly swollen, the _gilla_, in
attempting to find a ford, was swept away in its turbid
torrent. The King entreated some one to go to his rescue,
but as no one obeyed he generously plunged in himself
and sacrificed his own life in endeavouring to preserve
one of his humblest followers. He was in the 55th year
of his age and the 13th of his reign, and in some traits
of character reminded men of his grandfather, the devout
Nial "of the Showers." The Bards have celebrated the
justice of his judgments, the goodness of his heart, and
the comeliness of his "brunette-bright face." He left a
son of age to succeed him, (and who ultimately did become
_Ard-Righ_,) yet the present popularity of Melaghlin of
Meath triumphed over every other interest, and he was
raised to the monarchy--the first of his family who had
yet attained that honour. Hugh, the son of Nial, sank
for a time into the rank of a Provincial Prince, before
the ascendant star of the captor of Turgesius, and is
usually spoken of during this reign as "Hugh of Aileach."
He is found towards its close, as if impatient of the
succession, employing the arms of the common enemy to
ravage the ancient mensal land of the kings of Erin, and
otherwise harassing the last days of his successful rival.

Melaghlin, or Malachy I. (sometimes called "of the
Shannon," from his patrimony along that river), brought
back again the sovereignty to the centre, and in happier
days might have become the second founder of Tara. But
it was plain enough then, and it is tolerably so still,
that this was not to be an age of restoration. The kings
of Ireland after this time, says the quaint old translator
of the Annals of Clonmacnoise, "had little good of it,"
down to the days of King Brian. It was, in fact, a
perpetual struggle for self-preservation--the first duty
of all governments, as well as the first law of all
nature. The powerful action of the Gentile forces, upon
an originally ill-centralized and recently much abused
Constitution, seemed to render it possible that every
new Ard-Righ would prove the last. Under the pressure
of such a deluge all ancient institutions were shaken to
their foundations; and the venerable authority of Religion
itself, like a Hermit in a mountain torrent, was contending
for the hope of escape or existence. We must not, therefore,
amid the din of the conflicts through which we are to
pass, condemn without stint or qualification those Princes
who were occasionally driven--as some of them _were_
driven--to that last resort, the employment of foreign
mercenaries (and those mercenaries often anti-Christians,)
to preserve some show of native government and kingly
authority. Grant that in some of them the use of such
allies and agents cannot be justified on any plea or
pretext of state necessity; where base ends or unpatriotic
motives are clear or credible, such treason to country
cannot be too heartily condemned; but it is indeed far
from certain that such were the motives in _all_ cases,
or that such ought to be our conclusion in any, in the
absence of sufficient evidence to that effect.

Though the Gentile power had experienced towards the
close of the last reign such severe reverses, yet it was
not in the nature of the men of Norway to abandon a prize
which was once so nearly being their own. The fugitives
who escaped, as well as those who remained within the
strong ramparts of Waterford and Dublin, urged the fitting
out of new expeditions, to avenge their slaughtered
countrymen and prosecute the conquest. But defeat still
followed on defeat; in the first year of Malachy, they
lost 1,200 men in a disastrous action near Castle Dermot,
with Olcobar the Prince-bishop of Cashel; and in the same
or the next season they were defeated with the loss of
700 men, by Malachy, at Forc, in Meath. In the third year
of Malachy, however, a new northern expedition arrived
in 140 vessels, which, according to the average capacity
of the long-ships of that age, must have carried with
them from 7,000 to 10,000 men. Fortunately for the
assailed, this fleet was composed of what they called
_Black_-Gentiles, or Danes, as distinguished from their
predecessors, the _Fair_-Gentiles, or Norwegians. A
quarrel arose between the adventurers of the two nations
as to the possession of the few remaining fortresses,
especially of Dublin; and an engagement was fought along
the Liffey, which "lasted for three days;" the Danes
finally prevailed, driving the Norwegians from their
stronghold, and cutting them off from their ships. The
new Northern leaders are named Anlaf, or Olaf, Sitrick
(Sigurd?) and Ivar; the first of the Danish Earls, who
established themselves at Dublin, Waterford and Limerick
respectively. Though the immediate result of the arrival
of the great fleet of 847 relieved for the moment the
worst apprehensions of the invaded, and enabled them to
rally their means of defence, yet as Denmark had more
than double the population of Norway, it brought them
into direct collision with a more formidable power than
that from which they had been so lately delivered. The
tactics of both nations were the same. No sooner had they
established themselves on the ruins of their predecessors
in Dublin, than the Danish forces entered East-Meath,
under the guidance of Kenneth, a local lord, and overran
the ancient mensal, from the sea to the Shannon. One of
their first exploits was burning alive 260 prisoners in
the tower of Treoit, in the island of Lough Gower, near
Dunshaughlin. The next year, his allies having withdrawn
from the neighbourhood, Kenneth was taken by King Malachy's
men, and the traitor himself drowned in a sack, in the
little river Nanny, which divides the two baronies of
Duleek. This death-penalty by drowning seems to have been
one of the useful hints which the Irish picked up from
their invaders.

During the remainder of this reign the Gentile war resumed
much of its old local and guerrilla character, the
Provincial chiefs, and the Ard-Righ, occasionally employing
bands of one nation of the invaders to combat the other,
and even to suppress their native rivals. The only pitched
battle of which we hear is that of "the Two Plains" (near
Coolestown, King's County), in the second last year of
Malachy (A.D. 859), in which his usual good fortune
attended the king. The greater part of his reign was
occupied, as always must be the case with the founder of
a new line, in coercing into obedience his former peers.
On this business he made two expeditions into Munster,
and took hostages from all the tribes of the Eugenian
race. With the same object he held a conference with all
the chiefs of Ulster, Hugh of Aileach only being absent,
at Armagh, in the fourth year of his reign, and a General
_Feis_, or Assembly of all the Orders of Ireland, at
Rathugh, in West-Meath, in his thirteenth year (A.D.
857). He found, notwithstanding his victories and his
early popularity, that there are always those ready to
turn from the setting to the rising sun, and towards the
end of his reign he was obliged to defend his camp, near
Armagh, by force, from a night assault of the discontented
Prince of Aileach; who also ravaged his patrimony, almost
at the moment he lay on his death-bed. Malachy I. departed
this life on the 13th day of November, (A.D. 860), having
reigned sixteen years. "Mournful is the news to the Gael!"
exclaims the elegiac Bard! "Red wine is spilled into the
valley! Erin's monarch has died!" And the lament contrasts
his stately form as "he rode the white stallion," with
the striking reverse when, "his only horse this day"--that
is the bier on which his body was borne to the
churchyard--"is drawn behind two oxen."

The restless Prince of Aileach now succeeded as Hugh VII.,
and possessed the perilous honour he so much coveted for
sixteen years, the same span that had been allotted to
his predecessor. The beginning of this reign was remarkable
for the novel design of the Danes, who marched out in
great force, and set themselves busily to breaking open
the ancient mounds in the cemetery of the Pagan kings,
beside the Boyne, in hope of finding buried treasure.
The three Earls, Olaf, Sitrick, and Ivar, are said to
have been present, while their gold-hunters broke into
in succession the mound-covered cave of the wife of Goban,
at Drogheda, the cave of "the Shepherd of Elcmar," at
Dowth, the cave of the field of Aldai, at New Grange,
and the similar cave at Knowth. What they found in these
huge cairns of the old _Tuatha_ is not related; but Roman
coins of Valentinian and Theodosius, and torques and
armlets of gold, have been discovered by accident within
their precincts, and an enlightened modern curiosity has
not explored them in vain, in the higher interests of
history and science.

In the first two years of his reign, Hugh VII. was occupied
in securing the hostages of his suffragans; in the third
he swept the remaining Danish and Norwegian garrisons
out of Ulster, and defeated a newly arrived force on the
borders of Lough Foyle; the next the Danish Earls went
on a foray into Scotland, and no exploit is to be recorded;
in his sixth year, Hugh, with 1,000 chosen men of his
own tribe and the aid of the Sil-Murray (O'Conor's) of
Connaught, attacked and defeated a force of 5,000 Danes
with their Leinster allies, near Dublin at a place supposed
to be identical with Killaderry. Earl Olaf lost his son,
and Erin her _Roydamna_, or heir-apparent, on this field,
which was much celebrated by the Bards of Ulster and of
Connaught. Amongst those who fell was Flan, son of Conaing,
chief of the district which included the plundered
cemeteries, fighting on the side of the plunderers. The
mother of Flan was one of those who composed quatrains
on the event of the battle, and her lines are a natural
and affecting alternation from joy to grief--joy for the
triumph of her brother and her country, and grief for
the loss of her self-willed, warlike son. Olaf, the Danish
leader, avenged in the next campaign the loss of his son,
by a successful descent on Armagh, once again rising from
its ruins. He put to the sword 1,000 persons, and left
the primatial city lifeless, charred, and desolate. In
the next ensuing year the monarch chastised the Leinster
allies of the Danes, traversing their territory with fire
and sword from Dublin to the border town of Gowran. This
seems to have been the last of his notable exploits in
arms. He died on the 20th of November, 876, and is
lamented by the Bards as "a generous, wise, staid man."
These praises belong--if at all deserved--to his old age.

Flan, son of Malachy I. (and surnamed like his father
"of the Shannon"), succeeded in the year 877, of the
Annals of the Four Masters, or more accurately the year
879 of our common era. He enjoyed the very unusual reign
of thirty-eight years. Some of the domestic events of
his time are of so unprecedented a character, and the
period embraced is so considerable, that we must devote
to it a separate chapter.



Midway in the reign we are called upon to contemplate,
falls the centenary of the first invasion of Ireland by
the Northmen. Let us admit that the scenes of that
century are stirring and stimulating; two gallant races
of men, in all points strongly contrasted, contend for
the most part in the open field, for the possession of
a beautiful and fertile island. Let us admit that the
Milesian-Irish, themselves invaders and conquerors of an
older date, may have had no right to declare the era of
colonization closed for their country, while its best
harbours were without ships, and leagues of its best land
were without inhabitants; yet what gives to the contest
its lofty and fearful interest, is, that the foreigners
who come so far and fight so bravely for the prize, are
a Pagan people, drunk with the evil spirit of one of the
most anti-Christian forms of human error. And what is
still worse, and still more to be lamented, it is becoming,
after the experience of a century, plainer and plainer,
that the Christian natives, while defending with unfaltering
courage their beloved country, are yet descending more
and more to the moral level of their assailants, without
the apology of their Paganism. Degenerate civilisation
may be a worse element for truth to work in than original
barbarism; and, therefore, as we enter on the second
century of this struggle, we begin to fear for the
Christian Irish, _not_ from the arms or the valour, but
from the contact and example of the unbelievers. This,
it is necessary to premise, before presenting to the
reader a succession of Bishops who lead armies to battle,
of Abbots whose voice is still for war, of treacherous
tactics and savage punishments; of the almost total
disruption of the last links of that federal bond, which,
"though light as air were strong as iron," before the
charm of inviolability had been taken away from the
ancient constitution.

We begin to discern in this reign that royal marriages
have much to do with war and politics. Hugh, the late
king, left a widow, named Maelmara ("follower of Mary"),
daughter to Kenneth M'Alpine, King of the Caledonian
Scots: this lady Flan married. The mother of Flan was
the daughter of Dungal, Prince of Ossory, so that to the
cotemporary lords of that borderland the monarch stood
in the relation of cousin. A compact seems to have been
entered into in the past reign, that the _Roydamna_, or
successor, should be chosen alternately from the Northern
and Southern Hy-Nial; and, subsequently, when Nial, son
of his predecessor, assumed that onerous rank, Flan gave
him his daughter Gormley, celebrated for her beauty, her
talents, and her heartlessness, in marriage. From these
several family ties, uniting him so closely with Ossory,
with the Scots, and with his successor, much of the wars
and politics of Flan Siona's reign take their cast and
complexion. A still more fruitful source of new
complications was the co-equal power, acquired through
a long series of aggressions, by the kings of Cashel.
Their rivalry with the monarchy, from the beginning of
the eighth till the end of the tenth century, was a
constant cause of intrigues, coalitions, and wars,
reminding us of the constant rivalry of Athens with
Sparta, of Genoa with Venice. This kingship of Cashel,
according to the Munster law of succession, "the will of
Olild," ought to have alternated regularly between the
descendants of his sons, Eugene More and Cormac Cas--the
Eugenians and Dalcassians. But the families of the former
kindred were for many centuries the more powerful of the
two, and frequently set at nought the testamentary law
of their common ancestor, leaving the tribe of Cas but
the border-land of Thomond, from which they had sometimes
to pay tribute to Cruachan, and at others to Cashel. In
the ninth century the competition among the Eugenian
houses--of which too many were of too nearly equal
strength--seems to have suggested a new expedient, with
the view of permanently setting aside the will of Olild.
This was, to confer the kingship when vacant, on whoever
happened to be Bishop of Emly or of Cashel, or on some
other leading ecclesiastical dignitary, always provided
that he was of Eugenian descent; a qualification easily
to be met with, since the great sees and abbacies were
now filled, for the most part, by the sons of the
neighbouring chiefs. In this way we find Cenfalad, Felim,
and Olcobar, in this century, styled Prince-Bishops or
Prince-Abbots. The principal domestic difficulty of Flan
Siona's reign followed from the elevation of Cormac, son
of Cuillenan, from the see of Emly to the throne of Cashel.

Cormac, a scholar, and, as became his calling, a man of
peace, was thus, by virtue of his accession, the
representative of the old quarrel between his predecessors
and the dominant race of kings. All Munster asserted that
it was never the intention of their common ancestors to
subject the southern half of Erin to the sway of the
north; that Eber and Owen More had resisted such pretensions
when advanced by Eremhon and Conn of the Hundred Battles;
that the _esker_ from Dublin to Galway was the true
division, and that, even admitting the title of the
Hy-Nial king as Ard-Righ, all the tribes south of the
_esker_, whether in Leinster or Connaught, still owed
tribute by ancient right to Cashel. Their antiquaries
had their own version in of "the Book of Rights," which
countenanced these claims to co-equal dominion, and their
Bards drew inspiration from the same high pretensions.
Party spirit ran so high that tales and prophecies were
invented to show how St. Patrick had laid his curse on
Tara, and promised dominion to Cashel and to Dublin in
its stead. All Leinster, except the lordship of Ossory--
identical with the present diocese of the same name-was
held by the _Brehons_ of Cashel to be tributary to their
king; and this _Borooa_ or tribute, abandoned by the
monarchs at the intercession of Saint Moling, was claimed
for the Munster rulers as an inseparable adjunct of their
southern kingdom.

The first act of Flan Siona, on his accession, was to
dash into Munster, demanding hostages at the point of
the sword, and sweeping over both Thomond and Desmond
with irresistible force, from Clare to Cork. With equal
promptitude he marched through every territory of Ulster,
securing, by the pledges of their heirs and _Tanists_,
the chiefs of the elder tribes of the Hy-Nial. So
effectually did he consider his power established over
the provinces, that he is said to have boasted to one of
his hostages, that he would, with no other attendants
than his own servants, play a game of chess on Thurles
Green, without fear of interruption. Carrying out this
foolish wager, he accordingly went to his game at Thurles,
and was very properly taken prisoner for his temerity,
and made to pay a smart ransom to his captors. So runs
the tale, which, whether true or fictitious, is not
without its moral. Flan experienced greater difficulty
with the tribes of Connaught, nor was it till the thirteenth
year of his reign (892) that Cathal, their Prince, "came
into his house," in Meath, "under the protection of the
clergy" of Clonmacnoise, and made peace with him. A brief
interval of repose seems to have been vouchsafed to this
Prince, in the last years of the century; but a storm
was gathering over Cashel, and the high pretensions of
the Eugenian line were again to be put to the hazard of

Cormac, the Prince-Bishop, began his rule over Munster
in the year 900 of our common era, and passed some years
in peace, after his accession. If we believe his
panegyrists, the land over which he bore sway, "was filled
with divine grace and worldly prosperity," and with order
so unbroken, "that the cattle needed no cowherd, and the
flocks no shepherd, so long as he was king." Himself an
antiquary and a lover of learning, it seems but natural
that "many books were written, and many schools opened,"
by his liberality. During this enviable interval,
councillors of less pacific mood than their studious
master were not wanting to stimulate his sense of kingly
duty, by urging him to assert the claim of Munster to
the tribute of the southern half of Erin. As an antiquary
himself, Cormac must have been bred up in undoubting
belief in the justice of that claim, and must have given
judgment in favour of its antiquity and validity, before
his accession. These _dicta_ of his own were now quoted
with emphasis, and he was besought to enforce, by all
the means within his reach, the learned judgments he
himself had delivered. The most active advocate of a
recourse to arms was Flaherty, Abbot of Scattery, in the
Shannon, himself an Eugenian, and the kinsman of Cormac.
After many objections, the peaceful Prince-Bishop allowed
himself to be persuaded, and in the year 907 he took up
his line of march, "in the fortnight of the harvest,"
from Cashel toward Gowran, at the head of all the armament
of Munster. Lorcan, son of Lactna, and grandfather of
Brian, commanded the Dalcassians, under Cormac; and Oliol,
lord of Desies, and the warlike Abbot of Scattery, led
on the other divisions. The monarch marched southward to
meet his assailants, with his own proper troops, and the
contingents of Connaught under Cathel, Prince of that
Province, and those of Leinster under the lead of Kerball,
their king. Both armies met at Ballaghmoon, in the southern
corner of Kildare, not far from the present town of
Carlow, and both fought with most heroic bravery. The
Munster forces were utterly defeated; the Lords of Desies,
of Fermoy, of Kinalmeaky, and of Kerry, the Abbots of
Cork and Kennity, and Cormac himself, with 6,000 men,
fell on the ensanguined field. The losses of the victors
are not specified, but the 6,000, we may hope, included
the total of the slain on both sides. Flan at once improved
the opportunity of victory by advancing into Ossory, and
establishing his cousin Dermid, son of Kerball, over that
territory. This Dermid, who appears to have been banished
by Munster intrigues, had long resided with his royal
cousin, previous to the battle, from which he was probably
the only one that derived any solid advantage. As to the
Abbot Flaherty, the instigator of this ill-fated expedition,
he escaped from the conquerors, and, safe in his island
sanctuary, gave himself up for a while to penitential
rigours. The worldly spirit, however, was not dead in
his breast, and after the decease of Cormac's next
successor, he emerged from his cell, and was elevated to
the kingship of Cashel.

In the earlier and middle years of this long reign, the
invasions from the Baltic had diminished both in force
and in frequency. This is to be accounted for from the
fact, that during its entire length it was contemporaneous
with the reign of Harold, "the Fair-haired" King of
Norway, the scourge of the sea-kings. This more fortunate
Charles XII., born in 853, died at the age of 81, after
sixty years of almost unbroken successes, over all his
Danish, Swedish, and insular enemies. It is easy to
comprehend, by reference to his exploits upon the Baltic,
the absence of the usual northern force from the Irish
waters, during his lifetime, and that of his cotemporary,
Flan of the Shannon. Yet the race of the sea-kings was
not extinguished by the fair-haired Harold's victories
over them, at home. Several of them permanently abandoned
their native coasts never to return, and recruited their
colonies, already so numerous, in the Orkneys, Scotland,
England, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. In 885, Flan was
repulsed in an attack on Dublin, in which repulse the
Abbots of Kildare and Kildalkey were slain; in the year
890, Aileach was surprised and plundered by Danes, for
the first time, and Armagh shared its fate; in 887, 888,
and 891, three minor victories were gained over separate
hordes, in Mayo, at Waterford, and in Ulidia (Down). In
897, Dublin was taken for the first time in sixty years,
its chiefs put to death, while its garrison fled in their
ships beyond sea. But in the first quarter of the tenth
century, better fortune begins to attend the Danish cause.
A new generation enters on the scene, who dread no more
the long arm of the age-stricken Harold, nor respect the
treaties which bound their predecessors in Britain to
the great Alfred. In 912, Waterford received from sea a
strong reinforcement, and about the same date, or still
earlier, Dublin, from which they had been expelled in
897, was again in their possession. In 913, and for
several subsequent years, the southern garrisons continued
their ravages in Munster, where the warlike Abbot of
Scattery found a more suitable object for the employment
of his valour than that which brought him, with the
studious Cormac, to the fatal field of Ballaghmoon.

The closing days of Flan of the Shannon were embittered
and darkened by the unnatural rebellion of his sons,
Connor and Donogh, and his successor, Nial, surnamed
_Black-Knee_ (_Glundubh_), the husband of his daughter,
Gormley. These children were by his second marriage with
Gormley, daughter of that son of Conaing, whose name has
already appeared in connection with the plundered sepulchres
upon the Boyne. At the age of three score and upwards
Flan is frequently obliged to protect by recourse to arms
his mensal lands in Meath-their favourite point of
attack-or to defend some faithful adherent whom these
unnatural Princes sought to oppress. The daughter of
Flan, thus wedded to a husband in arms against her father,
seems to have been as little dutiful as his sons. We have
elegiac stanzas by her on the death of two of her husbands
and of one of her sons, but none on the death of her
father: although this form of tribute to the departed,
by those skilled in such compositions, seems to have been
as usual as the ordinary prayers for the dead.

At length, in the 37th year of his reign, and the 68th
of his age, King Flan was at the end of his sorrows. As
became the prevailing character of his life, he died
peacefully, in a religious house at Kyneigh, in Kildare,
on the 8th of June, in the year 916, of the common era.
The Bards praise his "fine shape" and "august mien," as
well as his "pleasant and hospitable" private habits.
Like all the kings of his race he seems to have been
brave enough: but he was no lover of war for war's-sake,
and the only great engagement in his long reign was
brought on by enemies who left him no option but to fight.
His munificence rebuilt the Cathedral of Clonmacnoise,
with the co-operation of Colman, the Abbot, the year
after the battle of Ballaghmoon (908); for which age, it
was the largest and finest stone Church in Ireland. His
charity and chivalry both revolted at the cruel excesses
of war, and when the head of Cormac of Cashel was presented
to him after his victory, he rebuked those who rejoiced
over his rival's fall, kissed reverently the lips of the
dead, and ordered the relics to be delivered, as Cormac
had himself willed it, to the Church of Castledermot,
for Christian burial. These traits of character, not less
than his family afflictions, and the generally peaceful
tenor of his long life, have endeared to many the memory
of Flan of the Shannon.



Nial IV. (surnamed _Black-Knee_) succeeded his
father-in-law, Flan of the Shannon (A.D. 916), and in
the third year of his reign fell in an assault on Dublin;
Donogh II., son of Flan Siona, reigned for twenty-five
years; Congal III. succeeded, and was slain in an ambush
by the Dublin Danes, in the twelfth year of his reign
(A.D. 956); Donald IV., in the twenty-fourth year of his
reign, died at Armagh, (A.D. 979); which four reigns
bring us to the period of the accession of Malachy II.
as _Ard-Righ_, and the entrance of Brian Boru, on the
national stage, as King of Cashel, and competitor for
the monarchy.

The reign of Nial _Black-Knee_ was too brief to be
memorable for any other event than his heroic death in
battle. The Danes having recovered Dublin, and strengthened
its defences, Nial, it is stated, was incited by his
confessor, the Abbot of Bangor, to attempt their
re-expulsion. Accordingly, in October, 919, he marched
towards Dublin, with a numerous host; Conor, son of the
late king and _Roydamna_; the lords of Ulidia (Down),
Oriel (Louth), Breagh (East-Meath), and other chiefs,
with their clans accompanying him. Sitrick and Ivar, sons
of the first Danish leaders in Ireland, marched out to
meet them, and near Rathfarnham, on the Dodder, a battle
was fought, in which the Irish were utterly defeated and
their monarch slain. This Nial left a son named Murkertach,
who, according to the compact entered into between the
Northern and Southern Hy-Nial, became the _Roydamna_ of
the next reign, and the most successful leader against
the Danes, since the time of Malachy I. He was the step-son
of the poetic Lady Gormley, whose lot it was to have been
married in succession to the King of Munster, the King
of Leinster, and the Monarch. Her first husband was
Cormac, son of Cuilenan, before he entered holy orders;
her second, Kerball of Leinster, and her third, Nial
_Black-Knee_. She was an accomplished poetess, besides
being the daughter, wife, and mother of king's, yet after
the death of Nial she "begged from door to door," and no
one had pity on her fallen state. By what vices she had
thus estranged from her every kinsman, and every dependent,
we are left to imagine; but that such was her misfortune,
at the time her brother was monarch, and her step-son
successor, we learn from the annals, which record her
penance and death, under the date of 948.

The defeat sustained near Rathfarnham, by the late king,
was amply avenged in the first year of the new _Ard-Righ_
(A.D. 920), when the Dublin Danes, having marched out,
taken and burned Kells, in Meath, were on their return
through the plain of Breagh, attacked and routed with
unprecedented slaughter. "There fell of the nobles of
the Norsemen here," say the old Annalists, "as many as
fell of the nobles and plebeians of the Irish, at
Ath-Cliath" (Dublin). The Northern Hydra, however, was
not left headless. Godfrey, grandson of Ivar, and Tomar,
son of Algi, took command at Dublin, and Limerick, infusing
new life into the remnant of their race. The youthful
son of the late king, soon after at the head of a strong
force (A.D. 921), compelled Godfrey to retreat from
Ulster, to his ships, and to return by sea to Dublin.
This was Murkertach, fondly called by the elegiac Bards,
"the Hector of the West," and for his heroic achievements,
not undeserving to be named after the gallant defender
of Troy. Murkertach first appears in our annals at the
year 921, and disappears in the thick of the battle in
938. His whole career covers seventeen years; his position
throughout was subordinate and expectant--for King Donogh
outlived his heir: but there are few names in any age of
the history of his country more worthy of historical
honour than his. While Donogh was king in name, Murkertach
was king in fact; on him devolved the burden of every
negotiation, and the brunt of every battle. Unlike his
ancestor, Hugh of Aileach, in his opposition to Donogh's
ancestor, Malachy I., he never attempts to counteract
the king, or to harass him in his patrimony. He rather
does what is right and needful himself, leaving Donogh
to claim the credit, if he be so minded. True, a coolness
and a quarrel arises between them, and even "a challenge
of battle" is exchanged, but better councils prevail,
peace is restored, and the king and the _Roydamna_ march
as one man against the common enemy. It has been said of
another but not wholly dissimilar form of government,
that Crown-Princes are always in opposition; if this
saying holds good of father and son, as occupant and
expectant of a throne, how much more likely is it to be
true of a successor and a principal, chosen from different
dynasties, with a view to combine, or at worst to balance,
conflicting hereditary interests? In the conduct of
Murkertach, we admire, in turn, his many shining personal
qualities, which even tasteless panegyric cannot hide,
and the prudence, self-denial, patience, and preservance
with which he awaits his day of power. Unhappily, for
one every way so worthy of it, that day never arrived!

At no former period,--not even at the height of the
tyranny of Turgesius,--was a capable Prince more needed
in Erin. The new generation of Northmen were again upon
all the estuaries and inland waters of the Island. In
the years 923-4 and 5, their light armed vessels swarmed
on Lough Erne, Lough Ree, and other lakes, spreading
flame and terror on every side. Clonmacnoise and Kildare,
slowly recovering from former pillage, were again left
empty and in ruins. Murkertach, the base of whose early
operations was his own patrimony in Ulster, attacked near
Newry a Northern division under the command of the son
of Godfrey (A.D. 926), and left 800 dead on the field.
The escape of the remnant was only secured by Godfrey
marching rapidly to their relief and covering the retreat.
His son lay with the dead. In the years 933, at Slieve
Behma, in his own Province, Murkertach won a third victory;
and in 936, taking political advantage of the result of
the great English battle of Brunanburgh, which had so
seriously diminished the Danish strength, the Roydamna,
in company with the King, assaulted Dublin, expelled its
garrison, levelled its fortress, and left the dwellings
of the Northmen in ashes. From Dublin they proceeded
southward, through Leinster and Munster, and after taking
hostages of every tribe, Donogh returned to his Methian
home and Murkertach to Aileach. While resting in his own
fort (A.D. 939), he was surprised by a party of Danes,
and carried off to their ships, but, says the old translator
of the Annals of Clonmacnoise, "he made a good escape
from them, as it was God's will." The following season
he redoubled his efforts against the enemy. Attacking
them on their own element, he ravaged their settlements
on the Scottish coasts and among the isles of Insi-Gall
(the Hebrides), returned laden with spoils, and hailed
with acclamations as the liberator of his people.

Of the same age with Murkertach, the reigning Prince at
Cashel was Kellachan, one of the heroes of the latter
Bards and Story-tellers of the South. The romantic tales
of his capture by the Danes, and captivity in their fleet
at Dundalk, of the love which Sitrick's wife bore him,
and of his gallant rescue by the Dalcassians and Eugenians,
have no historical sanction. He was often both at war
and at peace with the foreigners of Cork and Limerick,
and did not hesitate more than once to employ their arms
for the maintenance of his own supremacy; but his only
authentic captivity was, as a hostage, in the hands of
Murkertach. While the latter was absent, on his expedition
to Insi-Gall, Kellachan fell upon the Deisi and Ossorians,
and inflicted severe chastisement upon them-alleging, as
his provocation, that they had given hostages to Murkertach,
and acknowledged him as _Roydamna_ of all Erin, in contempt
of the co-equal rights of Cashel. When Murkertach returned
from his Scotch expedition, and heard what had occurred,
and on what pretext Kellachan had acted, he assembled at
Aileach all the branches of the Northern Hy-Nial, for
whom this was cause, indeed. Out of these he selected
1000 chosen men, whom he provided, among other equipments,
with those "leathern coats," which lent a _soubriquet_
to his name; and with these "ten hundred heroes," he set
out--strong in his popularity and his alliances--to make
a circuit of the entire island (A.D. 940). He departed
from Aileach, says his Bard, whose Itinerary we have,
"keeping his left hand to the sea;" Dublin, once more
rebuilt, acknowledged his title, and Sitrick, one of its
lords, went with him as hostage for Earl Blacair and his
countrymen; Leinster surrendered him Lorcan, its King;
Kellachan, of Cashel, overawed by his superior fortune,
advised his own people not to resist by force, and
consented to become himself the hostage for all Munster.
In Connaught, Conor, (from whom the O'Conors take their
family name), son of the Prince, came voluntarily to his
camp, and was received with open arms. Kellachan alone
was submitted to the indignity of wearing a fetter. With
these distinguished hostages, Murkertach and his
leather-cloaked "ten hundred" returned to Aileach, where,
for five months, they spent a season of unbounded rejoicing.
In the following year, the _Roydamna_ transferred the
hostages to King Donogh, as his _suzerain_, thus setting
the highest example of obedience from the highest place.
He might now look abroad over all the tribes of Erin,
and feel himself without a rival among his countrymen.
He stood at the very summit of his good fortune, when
the Danes of Dublin, reinforced from abroad, after his
"Circuit," renewed their old plundering practices. They
marched north, at the close of winter, under Earl Blacair,
their destination evidently being Armagh. Murkertach,
with some troops hastily collected, disputed their passage
at the ford of Ardee. An engagement ensued on Saturday,
the 4th of March, 943, in which the noble _Roydamna_
fell. King Donogh, to whose reign his vigorous spirit
has given its main historical importance, survived him
but a twelvemonth; the Monarch died in the bed of repose;
his destined successor in the thick of battle.

The death of the brave and beloved Murkertach filled all
Erin with grief and rage, and as King Donogh was too old
to avenge his destined successor, that duty devolved on
Congal, the new _Roydamna_. In the year after the fatal
action at Ardee, Congal, with Brann, King of Leinster,
and Kellach, heir of Leinster, assaulted and took Dublin,
and wreaked a terrible revenge for the nation's loss.
The "women, children, and plebeians," were carried off
captive; the greater part of the garrison were put to
the sword; but a portion escaped in their vessels to
their fortress on Dalkey, an island in the bay of Dublin.
This was the third time within a century that Dublin had
been rid of its foreign yoke, and yet as the Gaelic-Irish
would not themselves dwell in fortified towns, the site
remained open and unoccupied, to be rebuilt as often as
it might be retaken. The gallant Congal, the same year,
succeeded on the death of Donogh to the sovereignty, and,
so soon as he had secured his seat, and surrounded it
with sufficient hostages, he showed that he could not
only avenge the death, but imitate the glorious life of
him whose place he held. Two considerable victories in
his third and fourth years increased his fame, and rejoiced
the hearts of his countrymen: the first was won at Slane,
aided by the Lord of Breffni (O'Ruarc), and by Olaf the
Crooked, a northern chief. The second was fought at Dublin
(947), in which Blacair, the victor at Ardee, and 1,600
of his men were slain. Thus was the death of Murkertach
finally avenged.

It is very remarkable that the first conversions to
Christianity among the Danes of Dublin should have taken
place immediately after these successive defeats--in 948.
Nor, although quite willing to impute the best and most
disinterested motives to these first neophytes, can we
shut our eyes to the fact that no change of life, such
as we might reasonably look for, accompanied their change
of religion. Godfrid, son of Sitrick, and successor of
Blacair, who professed himself a Christian in 948,
plundered and destroyed the churches of East-Meath in
949, burnt 150 persons in the oratory of Drumree, and
carried off as captives 3,000 persons. If the tree is to
be judged by its fruits, this first year's growth of the
new faith is rather alarming. It compels us to disbelieve
the sincerity of Godfrid, at least, and the fighting men
who wrought these outrages and sacrileges. It forces us
to rank them with the incorrigible heathens who boasted
that they had twenty times received the Sacrament of
Baptism, and valued it for the twenty white robes which
had been presented to them on those occasions. Still, we
must endeavour hereafter, when we can, to distinguish
Christian from Pagan Danes, and those of Irish birth,
sons of the first comers, from the foreign-born kinsmen
of their ancestors. Between these two classes there grew
a gulf of feeling and experience, which a common language
and common dangers only partially bridged over. Not seldom
the interests and inclinations of the Irish-born Dane,
especially if a true Christian, were at open variance
with the interests and designs of the new arrivals from
Denmark, and it is generally, if not invariably, with
the former, that the Leinster and other Irish Princes
enter into coalitions for common political purposes.
The remainder of the reign of Congal is one vigorous
battle. The Lord of Breffni, who had fought beside him
on the hill of Slane, advanced his claim to be recognised
_Roydamna_, and this being denied, broke out into rebellion
and harassed his patrimony. Donald, son of Murkertach,
and grandson of Nial, (the first who took the name of
_Uai-Nial_, or O'Neill), disputed these pretensions of
the Lord of Breffni; carried his boats overland from
Aileach to Lough Erne in Fermanagh, and Lough Oughter in
Cavan; attacked the lake-islands, where the treasure and
hostages of Breffni were kept, and carried them off to
his own fortress. The warlike and indefatigable king was
in the field summer and winter enforcing his authority
on Munster and Connaught, and battling with the foreign
garrisons between times. No former Ard-Righ had a severer
struggle with the insubordinate elements which beset him
from first to last. His end was sudden, but not inglorious.
In returning from the chariot-races at the Curragh of
Kildare, he was surprised and slain in an ambuscade laid
for him by Godfrid at a place on the banks of the Liffey
called Tyraris or Teeraris house. By his side, fighting
bravely, fell the lords of Teffia and Ferrard, two of
his nephews, and others of his personal attendants and
companions. The Dublin Danes had in their turn a day of
rejoicing and of revenge for the defeats they had suffered
at Congal's hands.

This reign is not only notable for the imputed first
conversion of the Danes to Christianity, but also for
the general adoption of family names. Hitherto, we have
been enabled to distinguish clansmen only by tribe-names
formed by prefixing _Hy_, _Kinnel_, _Sil_, _Muintir_,
_Dal_, or some synonymous term, meaning race, kindred,
sept, district, or part, to the proper name of a remote
common ancestor, as Hy-Nial, Kinnel-Connel, Sil-Murray,
Muintir-Eolais, Dal-g Cais, and Dal-Riada. But the great
tribes now begin to break into families, and we are
hereafter to know particular houses, by distinct hereditary
surnames, as O'Neill, O'Conor, MacMurrough, and McCarthy.
Yet, the whole body of relatives are often spoken of by
the old tribal title, which, unless exceptions are named,
is supposed to embrace all the descendants of the old
connection to whom it was once common. At first this
alternate use of tribe and family names may confuse the
reader--for it _is_ rather puzzling to find a MacLoughlin
with the same paternal ancestor as an O'Neill, and a
McMahon of Thomond as an O'Brien, but the difficulty
disappears with use and familiarity, and though the number
and variety of newly-coined names cannot be at once
committed to memory, the story itself gains in distinctness
by the change.

In the year 955, Donald O'Neill, son of the brave and
beloved Murkertach, was recognised as Ard-Righ, by the
required number of Provinces, without recourse to coercion.
But it was _not_ to be expected that any Ard-Righ should,
at this period of his country's fortunes, reign long in
peace. War was then the business of the King; the first
art he had to learn, and the first to practise. Warfare
in Ireland had not been a stationary science since the
arrival of the Norwegians and their successors, the Danes.
Something they may have acquired from the natives, and
in turn the natives were not slow to copy whatever seemed
most effective in their tactics. Donald IV. was the
first to imitate their habit of employing armed boats on
the inland lakes. He even improved on their example, by
carrying these boats with him overland, and launching
them wherever he needed their co-operation; as we have
already seen him do in his expedition against Breffni,
while _Roydamna_, and as we find him doing again, in the
seventh year of his reign, when he carried his boats
overland from Armagh to West-Meath in order to employ
them on Loch Ennell, near Mullingar. He was at this time
engaged in making his first royal visitation of the
Provinces, upon which he spent two months in Leinster,
with all his forces, coerced the Munster chiefs by fire
and sword into obedience, and severely punished the
insubordination of Fergal O'Ruarc, King of Connaught.
His fleet upon Loch Ennell, and his severities generally
while in their patrimony, so exasperated the powerful
families of the Southern Hy-Nial (the elder of which was
now known as O'Melaghlin), that on the first opportunity
they leagued with the Dublin Danes, under their leader,
Olaf "the Crooked" (A.D. 966), and drove King Donald out
of Leinster and Meath, pursuing him across Slieve-Fuaid,
almost to the walls of Aileach. But the brave tribes of
Tyrconnell and Tyrowen rallied to his support, and he
pressed south upon the insurgents of Meath and Dublin;
West-Meath he rapidly overran, and "planted a garrison
in every cantred from the Shannon to Kells," In the
campaigns which now succeeded each other, without truce
or pause, for nearly a dozen years, the Leinster people
generally sympathised with and assisted those of West-Meath,
and Olaf, of Dublin, who recruited his ranks by the
junction of the Lagmans, a warlike tribe, from Insi-Gall
(the Hebrides). Ossory, on the other hand, acted with
the monarch, and the son of its Tanist (A.D. 974) was
slain before Dublin, by Olaf and his Leinster allies,
with 2,600 men, of Ossory and Ulster. The campaign of
978 was still more eventful: the Leinster men quarrelled
with their Danish allies, who had taken their king captive,
and in an engagement at Belan, near Athy, defeated their
forces, with the loss of the heir of Leinster, the lords
of Kinsellagh, Lea and Morett, and other chiefs. King
Donald had no better fortune at Killmoon, in Meath, the
same season, where he was utterly routed by the same
force, with the loss of Ardgal, heir of Ulidia, and
Kenneth, lord of Tyrconnell. But for the victories gained
about the same period in Munster, by Mahon and Brian,
the sons of Kennedy, over the Danes of Limerick, of which
we shall speak more fully hereafter, the balance of
victory would have strongly inclined towards the Northmen
at this stage of the contest.

A leader, second in fame and in services only to Brian,
was now putting forth his energies against the common
enemy, in Meath. This was Melaghlin, better known afterwards
as Malachy II., son of Donald, son of King Donogh, and,
therefore, great-grandson to his namesake, Malachy I. He
had lately attained to the command of his tribe--and he
resolved to earn the honours which were in store for him,
as successor to the sovereignty. In the year 979, the
Danes of Dublin and the Isles marched in unusual strength
into Meath, under the command of Rannall, son of Olaf
the Crooked, and Connail, "the Orator of Ath-Cliath,"
(Dublin). Malachy, with his allies, gave them battle near
Tara, and achieved a complete victory. Earl Rannall and
the Orator were left dead on the field, with, it is
reported, 5,000 of the foreigners. On the Irish side fell
the heir of Leinster, the lord of Morgallion and his son;
the lords of Fertullagh and Cremorne, and a host of their
followers. The engagement, in true Homeric spirit, had
been suspended on three successive nights, and renewed
three successive days. It was a genuine pitched battle--a
trial of main strength, each party being equally confident
of victory. The results were most important, and most
gratifying to the national pride. Malachy, accompanied
by his friend, the lord of Ulidia (Down), moved rapidly
on Dublin, which, in its panic, yielded to all his demands.
The King of Leinster and 2,000 other prisoners were given
up to him without ransom. The Danish Earls solemnly
renounced all claims to tribute or fine from any of the
dwellers without their own walls. Malachy remained in
the city three days, dismantled its fortresses, and
carried off its hostages and treasure. The unfortunate
Olaf the Crooked fled beyond seas, and died at Iona, in
exile, and a Christian. In the same year, and in the
midst of universal rejoicing, Donald IV. died peacefully
and piously at Armagh, in the 24th year of his reign. He
was succeeded by Malachy, who was his sister's son, and
in whom all the promise of the lamented Murkertach seemed
to revive.

The story of Malachy II. is so interwoven with the
still-more illustrious career of Brian _Borooa_, that it
will not lose in interest by being presented in detail.
But before entering on the rivalry of these great men,
we must again remark on the altered position which the
Northmen of this age hold to the Irish from that which
existed formerly. A century and a half had now elapsed
since their first settlement in the seaports, especially
of the eastern and southern Provinces. More than one
generation of their descendants had been born on the
banks of the Liffey, the Shannon, and the Suir. Many of
them had married into Irish families, had learned the
language of the country, and embraced its religion. When
Limerick was taken by Brian, Ivar, its Danish lord, fled
for sanctuary to Scattery Island, and when Dublin was
taken by Malachy II., Olaf the Crooked fled to Iona.
Inter-marriages with the highest Gaelic families became
frequent, after their conversion to Christianity. The
mother of Malachy, after his father's death, had married
Olaf of Dublin, by whom she had a son, named _Gluniarran
(Iron-Knee_, from his armour), who was thus half-brother
to the King. It is natural enough to find him the ally
of Malachy, a few years later, against Ivar of Waterford;
and curious enough to find Ivar's son called
Gilla-Patrick--servant of Patrick. Kellachan of Cashel
had married a Danish, and Sitrick "of the Silken beard,"
an Irish lady. That all the Northmen were not, even in
Ireland, converted in one generation, is evident. Those
of Insi-Gall were still, perhaps, Pagans; those of the
Orkneys and of Denmark, who came to the battle of Clontarf
in the beginning of the next century, chose to fight on
Good Friday under the advice of their heathen Oracles.
The first half of the eleventh century, the age of Saint
Olaf and of Canute, is the era of the establishment of
Christianity among the Scandinavians, and hence the
necessity for distinguishing between those who came to
Ireland, direct from the Baltic, from those who, born in
Ireland and bred up in the Christian faith, had as much
to apprehend from such an invasion, as the Celts themselves.



Melaghlin, or Malachy II., fifth in direct descent from
Malachy I. (the founder of the Southern Hy-Nial dynasty),
was in his thirtieth year when (A.D. 980) he succeeded
to the monarchy. He had just achieved the mighty victory
of Tara when the death of his predecessor opened his way
to the throne; and seldom did more brilliant dawn usher
in a more eventful day than that which Fate held in store
for this victor-king. None of his predecessors, not even
his ancestor and namesake, had ever been able to use the
high language of his "noble Proclamation," when he
announced on his accession--"Let all the Irish who are
suffering servitude in the land of the stranger return
home to their respective houses and enjoy themselves in
gladness and in peace." In obedience to this edict, and
the power to enforce it established by the victory at
Tara, 2,000 captives, including the King of Leinster and
the Prince of Aileach, were returned to their homes.

The hardest task of every Ard-Righ of this and the previous
century had been to circumscribe the ambition of the
kings of Cashel within Provincial bounds. Whoever ascended
the southern throne--whether the warlike Felim or the
learned Cormac--we have seen the same policy adopted by
them all. The descendants of Heber had tired of the long
ascendancy of the race of Heremon, and the desertion of
Tara, by making that ascendancy still more strikingly
Provincial, had increased their antipathy. It was a
struggle for supremacy between north and south; a contest
of two geographical parties; an effort to efface the real
or fancied dependency of one-half the island on the will
of the other. The Southern Hy-Nial dynasty, springing up
as a third power upon the Methian bank of the Shannon,
and balancing itself between the contending parties,
might perhaps have given a new centre to the whole system;
Malachy II. was in the most favourable position possible
to have done so, had he not had to contend with a rival,
his equal in battle and superior in council, in the person
of Brian, the son of Kennedy, of Kincorra.

The rise to sovereign rank of the house of Kincorra (the
O'Briens), is one of the most striking episodes of the
tenth century. Descending, like most of the leading
families of the South, from Olild, the Clan Dalgais had
long been excluded from the throne of Cashel, by successive
coalitions of their elder brethren, the Eugenians. Lactna
and Lorcan, the grandfather and father of Kennedy, intrepid
and able men, had strengthened their tribe by wise and
vigorous measures, so that the former was able to claim
the succession, apparently with success. Kennedy had
himself been a claimant for the same honour, the alternate
provision in the will of Olild, against Kellachan Cashel
(A.D. 940-2), but at the Convention held at Glanworth,
on the river Funcheon, for the selection of king, the
aged mother of Kellachan addressed his rival in a quatrain,

   "Kennedi Cas revere the law!"

which induced him to abandon his pretensions. This Prince,
usually spoken of by the Bards as "the chaste Kennedy,"
died in the year 950, leaving behind him four or five
out of twelve sons, with whom he had been blessed. Most
of the others had fallen in Danish battles--three in the
same campaign (943), and probably in the same field.
There appear in after scenes, Mahon, who became King of
Cashel; Echtierna, who was chief of Thomond, under Mahon;
Marcan, an ecclesiastic, and Brian, born in 941, the
Benjamin of the household. Mahon proved himself, as Prince
and Captain, every way worthy of his inheritance. He
advanced from victory to victory over his enemies, foreign
and domestic. In 960 he claimed the throne of Munster,
which claim he enforced by royal visitation five years
later. In the latter year, he rescued Clonmacnoise from
the Danes, and in 968 defeated the same enemy, with a
loss of several thousand men at Sulchoid. This great blow
he followed up by the sack of Limerick, from which "he
bore off a large quantity of gold, and silver, and jewels."
In these, and all his expeditions, from a very early age,
he was attended by Brian, to whom he acted not only as
a brother and prince, but as a tutor in arms. Fortune
had accompanied him in all his undertakings. He had
expelled his most intractable rival--Molloy, son of
Bran, lord of Desmond; his rule was acknowledged by the
Northmen of Dublin and Cork, who opened their fortresses
to him, and served under his banner; he carried "all the
hostages of Munster to his house," which had never before
worn so triumphant an aspect. But family greatness begets
family pride, and pride begets envy and hatred. The
Eugenian families who now found themselves overshadowed
by the brilliant career of the sons of Kennedy, conspired
against the life of Mahon, who, from his too confiding
nature, fell easily into their trap. Molloy, son of Bran,
by the advice of Ivar, the Danish lord of Limerick,
proposed to meet Mahon in friendly conference at the
house of Donovan, an Eugenian chief, whose rath was at
Bruree, on the river Maigue. The safety of each person
was guaranteed by the Bishop of Cork, the mediator on
the occasion. Mahon proceeded unsuspiciously to the
conference, where he was suddenly seized by order of his
treacherous host, and carried into the neighbouring
mountains of Knocinreorin. Here a small force, placed
for the purpose by the conspirators, had orders promptly
to despatch their victim. But the foul deed was not done
unwitnessed. Two priests of the Bishop of Cork followed
the Prince, who, when arrested, snatched up "the Gospel
of St. Barry," on which Molloy was to have sworn his
fealty. As the swords of the assassins were aimed at his
heart, he held up the Gospel for a protection, and his
blood spouting out, stained the Sacred Scriptures. The
priests, taking up the blood-stained volume, fled to
their Bishop, spreading the horrid story as they went.
The venerable successor of St. Barry "wept bitterly, and
uttered a prophecy concerning the future fate of the
murderers;" a prophecy which was very speedily fulfilled.

This was in the year 976, three or four years before the
battle of Tara and the accession of Malachy. When the
news of his noble-hearted brother's murder was brought
to Brian, at Kinkora, he was seized with the most violent
grief. His favourite harp was taken down, and he sang
the death-song of Mahon, recounting all the glorious
actions of his life. His anger flashed out through his
tears, as he wildly chanted

   "My heart shall burst within my breast,
    Unless I avenge this great king;
    They shall forfeit life for this foul deed
    Or I must perish by a violent death."

But the climax of his lament was, that Mahon "had not
fallen in battle behind the shelter of his shield, rather
than trust in the treacherous words of Donovan." Brian
was now in his thirty-fifth year, was married, and had
several children. Morrogh, his eldest, was able to bear
arms, and shared in his ardour and ambition. "His first
effort," says an old Chronicle, "was directed against
Donovan's allies, the Danes of Limerick, and he slew Ivar
their king, and two of his sons." These conspirators,
foreseeing their fate, had retired into the holy isle of
Scattery, but Brian slew them between "the horns of the
altar." For this violation of the sanctuary, considering
his provocation, he was little blamed. He next turned
his rage against Donovan, who had called to his aid the
Danish townsmen of Desmond. "Brian," says the Annalist
of Innisfallen, "gave them battle where Auliffe and his
Danes, and Donovan and his Irish forces, were all cut
off." After that battle, Brian sent a challenge to Molloy,
of Desmond, according to the custom of that age, to meet
him in arms near Macroom, where the usual coalition,
Danes and Irish, were against him. He completely routed
the enemy, and his son Morrogh, then but a lad, "killed
the murderer of his uncle Mahon with his own hand." Molloy
was buried on the north side of the mountain where Mahon
was murdered and interred; on Mahon the southward sun
shone full and fair; but on the grave of his assassin,
the black shadow of the northern sky rested always. Such
was the tradition which all Munster piously believed.
After this victory over Molloy, son of Bran (A.D. 978),
Brian was universally acknowledged King of Munster, and
until Malachy had won the battle of Tara, was justly
considered the first Irish captain of his age.

Malachy, in the first year of his reign, having received
the hostages of the Danes of Dublin, having liberated
the Irish prisoners and secured the unity of his own
territory, had his attention drawn, naturally enough,
towards Brian's movements. Whether Brian had refused
him homage, or that his revival of the old claim to the
half-kingdom was his offence, or from whatever immediate
cause, Malachy marched southwards, enforcing homage as
he went. Entering Thomond he plundered the Dalcassians,
and marching to the mound at Adair, where, under an old
oak, the kings of Thomond had long been inaugurated, he
caused it to be "dug from the earth with its roots," and
cut into pieces. This act of Malachy's certainly bespeaks
an embittered and aggressive spirit, and the provocation
must, indeed, have been grievous to palliate so barbarous
an action. But we are not informed what the provocation
was. At the time Brian was in Ossory enforcing his tribute;
the next year we find him seizing the person of
Gilla-Patrick, Lord of Ossory, and soon after he burst
into Meath, avenging with fire and sword the wanton
destruction of his ancestral oak.

Thus were these two powerful Princes openly embroiled
with each other. We have no desire to dwell on all the
details of their struggle, which continued for fully
twenty years. About the year 987, Brian was practically
king of half Ireland, and having the power, (though not
the title,) he did not suffer any part of it to lie waste.
His activity was incapable of exhaustion; in Ossory, in
Leinster, in Connaught, his voice and his arm were felt
everywhere. But a divided authority was of necessity so
favourable to invasion, that the Danish power began to
loom up to its old proportions. Sitrick, "with the silken
beard," one of the ablest of Danish leaders, was then at
Dublin, and his occasional incursions were so formidable,
that they produced (what probably nothing else could have
done) an alliance between Brian and Malachy, which lasted
for three years, and was productive of the best
consequences. Thus, in 997, they imposed their yoke on
Dublin, taking "hostages and jewels" from the foreigners.
Reinforcements arriving from the North, the indomitable
Danes proceeded to plunder Leinster, but were routed by
Brian and Malachy at Glen-Mama, in Wicklow, with the loss
of 6,000 men and all their chief captains. Immediately
after this victory the two kings, according to the Annals,
"entered into Dublin, and the fort thereof, and there
remained seven nights, and at their departure took all
the gold, silver, hangings, and other precious things
that were there with them, burnt the town, broke down
the fort, and banished Sitrick from thence" (A.D. 999).

The next three years of Brian's life are the most complex
in his career. After resting a night in Meath, with
Malachy, he proceeded with his forces towards Armagh,
nominally on a pilgrimage, but really, as it would seem,
to extend his party. He remained in the sacred city a
week, and presented ten ounces of gold, at the Cathedral
altar. The Archbishop Marian received him with the
distinction due to so eminent a guest, and a record of
his visit, in which he is styled "Imperator of the Irish,"
was entered in the book of St. Patrick. He, however, got
no hostages in the North, but on his march southward, he
learned that the Danes had returned to Dublin, were
rebuilding the City and Fort, and were ready to offer
submission and hostages to him, while refusing both to
Malachy. Here Brian's eagerness for supremacy misled him.
He accepted the hostages, joined the foreign forces to
his own, and even gave his daughter in marriage to Sitrick
of "the silken beard." Immediately he broke with Malachy,
and with his new allies and son-in-law, marched into
Meath in hostile array. Malachy, however, stood to his
defence; attacked and defeated Brian's advance guard of
Danish horse, and the latter, unwilling apparently to
push matters to extremities, retired as he came, without
"battle, or hostage, or spoil of any kind."

But his design of securing the monarchy was not for an
instant abandoned, and, by combined diplomacy and force,
he effected his end. His whole career would have been
incomplete without that last and highest conquest over
every rival. Patiently but surely he had gathered
influence and authority, by arms, by gifts, by connections
on all sides. He had propitiated the chief families of
Connaught by his first marriage with More, daughter of
O'Heyne, and his second marriage with Duvchalvay, daughter
of O'Conor. He had obtained one of the daughters of
Godwin, the powerful Earl of Kent, for his second son;
had given a daughter to the Prince of Scots, and another
to the Danish King of Dublin.

Malachy, in diplomatic skill, in foresight, and in tenacity
of purpose, was greatly inferior to Brian, though in
personal gallantry and other princely qualities, every
way his equal. He was of a hospitable, out-spoken,
enjoying disposition, as we gather from many characteristic
anecdotes. He is spoken of as "being generally computed
the best horseman in those parts of Europe;" and as one
who "delighted to ride a horse that was never broken,
handled, or ridden, until the age of seven years." From
an ancient story, which represents him as giving his
revenues for a year to one of the Court Poets and then
fighting him with a "headless staff" to compel the Poet
to return them, it would appear that his good humour and
profusion were equal to his horsemanship. Finding Brian's
influence still on the increase west of the Shannon,
Malachy, in the year of our Lord 1000, threw two bridges
across the Shannon, one at Athlone, the other at the
present Lanesborough. This he did with the consent and
assistance of O'Conor, but the issue was as usual--he
made the bridges, and Brian profited by them. While
Malachy was at Athlone superintending the work, Brian
arrived with a great force recruited from all quarters
(except Ulster), including Danish men-in-armour. At
Athlone was held the conference so memorable in our
annals, in which Brian gave his rival the alternative of
a pitched battle, within a stated time, or abdication.
According to the Southern Annalists, first a month, and
afterwards a year, were allowed the Monarch to make his
choice. At the expiration of the time Brian marched into
Meath, and encamped at Tara, where Malachy, having vainly
endeavoured to secure the alliance of the Northern Hy-Nial
in the interval, came and submitted to Brian without
safeguard or surety. The unmade monarch was accompanied
by a guard "of twelve score horsemen," and on his arrival,
proceeded straight to the tent of his successor. Here
the rivals contended in courtesy, as they had often done
in arms, and when they separated, Brian, as Lord Paramount,
presented Malachy as many horses as he had horsemen in
his train when he came to visit him. This event happened
in the year 1001, when Brian was in his 60th and Malachy
in his 53rd year. There were present at the Assembly all
the princes and chiefs of the Irish, except the Prince
of Aileach, and the Lords of Oriel, Ulidia, Tyrowen and
Tyrconnell, who were equally unwilling to assist Malachy
or to acknowledge Brian. What is still more remarkable
is, the presence in this national assembly of the Danish
Lords of Dublin, Carmen (Wexford), Waterford and Cork,
whom Brian, at this time, was trying hard to conciliate
by gifts and alliances.



By the deposition of Malachy II., and the transfer of
supreme power to the long-excluded line of Heber, Brian
completed the revolution which Time had wrought in the
ancient Celtic constitution. He threw open the sovereignty
to every great family as a prize to be won by policy or
force, and no longer an inheritance to be determined by
usage and law. The consequences were what might have been
expected. After his death the O'Conors of the west competed
with both O'Neills and O'Briens for supremacy, and a chronic
civil war prepared the path for Strongbow and the Normans.
The term "Kings with Opposition" is applied to nearly all
who reigned between Brian's time and Roderick O'Conor's,
meaning, thereby, kings who were unable to secure general
obedience to their administration of affairs.

During the remainder of his life, Brian wielded with
accustomed vigour the supreme power. The Hy-Nials were,
of course, his chief difficulty. In the year 1002, we
find him at Ballysadare, in Sligo, challenging their
obedience; in 1004, we find him at Armagh "offering twenty
ounces of gold on Patrick's altar," staying a week there
and receiving hostages; in 1005, he marched through
Connaught, crossed the river Erne at Ballyshannon,
proceeded through Tyrconnell and Tyrowen, crossed the
Bann into Antrim, and returned through Down and Dundalk,
"about Lammas," to Tara. In this and the two succeeding
years, by taking similar "circuits," he subdued Ulster,
without any pitched battle, and caused his authority to
be feared and obeyed nearly as much at the Giant's Causeway
as at the bridge of Athlone. In his own house of Kinkora,
Brian entertained at Christmas 3,000 guests, including
the Danish Lords of Dublin and Man, the fugitive Earl of
Kent, the young King of Scots, certain Welsh Princes,
and those of Munster, Ulster, Leinster and Connaught,
beside his hostages. At the same time Malachy, with the
shadow, of independence, kept his unfrequented court in
West-Meath, amusing himself with wine and chess and the
taming of unmanageable horses, in which last pursuit,
after his abdication, we hear of his breaking a limb. To
support the hospitalities of Kinkora, the tributes of
every province were rendered in kind at his gate, on the
first day of November. Connaught sent 800 cows and 800
hogs; Ulster alone 500 cows, and as many hogs, and "sixty
loads of iron;" Leinster 300 bullocks, 300 hogs, and 300
loads of iron; Ossory, Desmond, and the smaller territories,
in proportion; the Danes of Dublin 150 pipes of wine, and
the Danes of Limerick 365 of red wine. The Dalcassians,
his own people, were exempt from all tribute and taxation
--while the rest of Ireland was thus catering for Kinkora.

The lyric Poets, in then nature courtiers and given to
enjoyment, flocked, of course, to this bountiful palace.
The harp was seldom silent night or day, the strains of
panegyric were as prodigal and incessant as the falling
of the Shannon over Killaloe. Among these eulogiums none
is better known than that beautiful allegory of the poet
McLaig, who sung that "a young lady of great beauty,
adorned with jewels and costly dress, might perform
unmolested a journey on foot through the Island, carrying
a straight wand, on the top of which might be a ring of
great value." The name of Brian was thus celebrated as
in itself a sufficient protection of life, chastity, and
property, in every corner of the Island. Not only the
Poets, but the more exact and simple Annalists applaud
Brian's administration of the laws, and his personal
virtues. He laboured hard to restore the Christian
civilization, so much defaced by two centuries of Pagan
warfare. To facilitate the execution of the laws he
enacted the general use of surnames, obliging the clans
to take the name of a common ancestor, with the addition
of "Mac," or "O"--words which signify "of," or "son of,"
a forefather. Thus, the Northern Hy-Nials divided into
O'Neils, O'Donnells, McLaughlins, &c.; the Sil-Murray
took the name of O'Conor, and Brian's own posterity became
known as O'Briens. To justice he added munificence, and
of this the Churches and Schools of the entire Island
were the recipients. Many a desolate shrine he adorned,
many a bleak chancel he hung with lamps, many a long
silent tower had its bells restored. Monasteries were
rebuilt, and the praise of God was kept up perpetually
by a devoted brotherhood. Roads and bridges were repaired
and several strong stone fortresses were erected, to
command the passes of lakes and rivers. The vulnerable
points along the Shannon, and the Suir, and the lakes,
as far north as the Foyle, were secured by forts of clay
and stone. Thirteen "royal houses" in Munster alone are
said to have been by him restored to their original uses.
What increases our respect for the wisdom and energy thus
displayed, is the fact, that the author of so many
improvements, enjoyed but five short years of peace,
after his accession to the Monarchy. His administrative
genius must have been great when, after a long life of
warfare, he could apply himself to so many works of
internal improvement and external defence.

In the five years of peace just spoken of (from 1005 to
1010), Brian lost by death his second wife, a son called
Donald, and his brother Marcan, called in the annals
"head of the clergy of Munster;" Hugh, the son of Mahon,
also died about the same period. His favourite son and
heir, Morrogh, was left, and Morrogh had, at this time,
several children. Other sons and daughters were also left
him, by each of his wives, so that there was every prospect
that the posterity for whom he had so long sought the
sovereignty of Ireland, would continue to possess it for
countless generations. But God disposes of what man only

The Northmen had never yet abandoned any soil on which
they had once set foot, and the policy of conciliation
which the veteran King adopted in his old age, was not
likely to disarm men of their stamp. Every intelligence
of the achievements of their race in other realms stimulated
them to new exertions and shamed them out of peaceful
submission. Rollo and his successors had, within Brian's
lifetime, founded in France the great dukedom of Normandy;
while Sweyn had swept irresistibly over England and Wales,
and prepared the way for a Danish dynasty. Pride and
shame alike appealed to their warlike compatriots not to
allow the fertile Hibernia to slip from their grasp, and
the great age of its long-dreaded king seemed to promise
them an easier victory than heretofore was possible. In
1012 we find Brian at Lough Foyle repelling a new Danish
invasion, and giving "freedom to Patrick's Churches;"
the same year, an army under Morrogh and another under
Malachy was similarly engaged in Leinster and Meath; the
former carrying his arms to Kilmainham, on the south side
of Dublin, the other to Howth, on the north; in this year
also "the Gentiles," or Pagan Northmen, made a descent
on Cork, and burned the city, but were driven off by the
neighbouring chiefs.

The great event, however, of the long war which had now
been waged for full two hundred years between the men of
Erin and the men of Scandinavia was approaching. What
may fairly be called the last field day of Christianity
and Paganism on Irish soil, was near at hand. A taunt
thrown out over a game of chess, at Kinkora, is said to
have hastened this memorable day. Maelmurra, Prince of
Leinster, playing or advising on the game, made, or
recommended, a false move, upon which Morrogh, son of
Brian, observed, it was no wonder his friends, the Danes,
(to whom he owed his elevation,) were beaten at Glen-Mama,
if he gave them advice like that. Maelmurra, highly
incensed by this allusion--all the more severe for its
bitter truth--arose, ordered his horse, and rode away in
haste. Brian, when he heard it, despatched a messenger
after the indignant guest, begging him to return, but
Maelmurra was not to be pacified, and refused. We next
hear of him as concerting with certain Danish agents,
always open to such negotiations, those measures which
led to the great invasion of the year 1014, in which the
whole Scanian race, from Anglesea and Man, north to
Norway, bore an active share.

These agents passing over to England and Man, among the
Scottish isles, and even to the Baltic, followed up the
design of an invasion on a gigantic scale. Suibne, Earl
of Man, entered warmly into the conspiracy, and sent the
"war arrow" through all those "out-islands" which obeyed
him as Lord. A yet more formidable potentate, Sigurd, of
the Orkneys, next joined the league. He was the fourteenth
Earl of Orkney of Norse origin, and his power was, at
this period, a balance to that of his nearest neighbour,
the King of Scots. He had ruled since the year 996, not
only over the Orkneys, Shetland, and Northern Hebrides,
but the coasts of Caithness and Sutherland, and even Ross
and Moray rendered him homage and tribute. Eight years
before the battle of Clontarf, Malcolm II., of Scotland,
had been feign to purchase his alliance, by giving him
his daughter in marriage, and the Kings of Denmark and
Norway treated with him on equal terms. The hundred
inhabited isles which lie between Yell and Man,--isles
which after their conversion contained "three hundred
churches and chapels"--sent in their contingents, to
swell the following of the renowned Earl Sigurd. As his
fleet bore southward from Kirkwall it swept the subject
coast of Scotland, and gathered from every lough its
galleys and its fighting men. The rendezvous was the Isle
of Man, where Suibne had placed his own forces under the
command of Brodar or Broderick, a famous leader against
the Britons of Wales and Cornwall. In conjunction with
Sigurd, the Manxmen sailed over to Ireland, where they
were joined, in the Liffey, by Carl Canuteson, Prince of
Denmark, at the head of 1400 champions clad in armour.
Sitrick of Dublin stood, or affected to stand, neutral
in these preparations, but Maelmurra of Leinster had
mustered all the forces he could command for such an
expedition. He was himself the head of the powerful family
of O'Byrne, and was followed in his alliances by others
of the descendants of Cahir More. O'Nolan and O'More,
with a truer sense of duty, fought on the patriotic side.

Brian had not been ignorant of the exertions which were
made during the summer and winter of the year 1013, to
combine an overwhelming force against him. In his
exertions to meet force with force, it is gratifying to
every believer in human excellence to find him actively
supported by the Prince whom he had so recently deposed.
Malachy, during the summer of 1013, had, indeed, lost
two sons in skirmishes with Sitrick and Maelmurra, and
had, therefore, his own personal wrongs to avenge; but
he cordially co-operated with Brian before those
occurrences, and now loyally seconded all his movements.
The Lords of the southern half-kingdom--the Lords of
Desies, Fermoy, Inchiquin, Corca-Baskin, Kinalmeaky,
Kerry, and the Lords of Hy-Many and Hy-Fiachra, in
Connaught, hastened to his standard. O'More and O'Nolan
of Leinster, and Donald, Steward of Marr, in Scotland,
were the other chieftains who joined him before Clontarf,
besides those of his own kindred. None of the Northern
Hy-Nial took part in the battle--they had submitted to
Brian, but they never cordially supported him.

Clontarf, the lawn or meadow of bulls, stretches along
the crescent-shaped north strand of Dublin harbour, from
the ancient salmon-weir at Ballyboght bridge, towards
the promontory of Howth. Both horns of the crescent were
held by the enemy, and communicated with his ships: the
inland point terminating in the roofs of Dublin, and the
seaward marked by the lion-like head of Howth. The meadow
land between sloped gently upward and inward from the
beach, and for the myriad duels which formed the ancient
battle, no field could present less positive vantage-ground
to combatants on either side. The invading force had
possession of both wings, so that Brian's army, which
had first encamped at Kilmainham, must have crossed the
Liffey higher up, and marched round by the present
Drumcondra in order to reach the appointed field. The
day seems to have been decided on by formal challenge,
for we are told Brian did not wish to fight in the last
week of Lent, but a Pagan oracle having assured victory
to Brodar, one of the northern leaders, if he engaged on
a Friday, the invaders insisted on being led to battle
on that day. And it so happened that, of all Fridays in
the year, it fell on the Friday before Easter: that awful
anniversary when the altars of the Church are veiled
throughout Christendom, and the dark stone is rolled to
the door of the mystic sepulchre.

The forces on both sides could not have fallen short of
twenty thousand men. Under Carl Canuteson fought "the
ten hundred in armour," as they are called in the Irish
annals, or "the fourteen hundred," as they are called in
northern chronicles; under Brodar, the Manxmen and the
Danes of Anglesea and Wales; under Sigurd, the men of
Orkney and its dependencies; under Maelmurra, of Leinster,
his own tribe, and their kinsmen of Offally and Cullen
--the modern Kildare and Wicklow; under Brian's son,
Morrogh, were the tribes of Munster; under the command
of Malachy, those of Meath; under the Lord of Hy-Many,
the men of Connaught; and the Stewart of Marr had also
his command. The engagement was to commence with the
morning, so that, as soon as it was day, Brian, Crucifix
in hand, harangued his army. "On this day Christ died
for _you_!" was the spirit-stirring appeal of the venerable
Christian King. At the entreaty of his friends, after
this review, he retired to his tent, which stood at some
distance, and was guarded by three of his aids. Here, he
alternately prostrated himself before the Crucifix, or
looked out from the tent door upon the dreadful scene
that lay beyond. The sun rose to the zenith and took his
way towards the west, but still the roar of the battle
did not abate. Sometimes as their right hands swelled
with the sword-hilts, well-known warriors might be seen
falling back to bathe them, in a neighbouring spring,
and then rushing again into the melee. The line of the
engagement extended from the salmon-weir towards Howth,
not less than a couple of miles, so that it was impossible
to take in at a glance the probabilities of victory. Once
during the heat of the day one of his servants said to
Brian, "A vast multitude are moving towards us." "What
sort of people are they?" inquired Brian. "They are
green-naked people." said the attendant. "Oh!" replied
the king, "they are the Danes in armour!" The utmost fury
was displayed on all sides. Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, fell
by Thurlogh, grandson of Brian; and Anrud, one of the
captains of the men in armour, by the hand of his father,
Morrogh; but both father and son perished in the dreadful
conflict; Maelmurra of Leinster, with his lords, fell on
one side, and Conaing, nephew of Brian, O'Kelly, O'Heyne,
and the Stewart of Marr, on the other. Hardly a nobly-born
man escaped, or sought to escape. The ten hundred in
armour, and three thousand others of the enemy, with
about an equal number of the men of Ireland, lay dead
upon the field. One division of the enemy were, towards
sunset, retreating to their ships, when Brodar, the
Viking, perceiving the tent of Brian, standing apart,
without a guard, and the aged king on his knees before
the Crucifix, rushed in, cut him down with a single blow,
and then continued his flight. But he was overtaken by
the guard, and despatched by the most cruel death they
could devise. Thus, on the field of battle, in the act
of prayer, on the day of our Lord's Crucifixion, fell
the Christian King in the cause of native land and Holy
Cross. Many elegies have been dedicated to his memory,
and not the least noble of these strains belong to his
enemies. In death as in life he was still Brian "of the

The deceased hero took his place at once in history,
national and foreign. On hearing of his death, Maelmurra,
Archbishop of Armagh, came with his clergy to Swords, in
Meath, and conducted the body to Armagh, where, with his
son and nephew and the Lord of Desies, he was solemnly
interred "in a new tomb." The fame of the event went out
through all nations. The chronicles of Wales, of Scotland,
and of Man; the annals of Ademar and Marianus; the Sagas
of Denmark and the Isles all record the event. In "the
Orcades" of Thormodus Torfaeus, a wail over the defeat
of the Islesmen is heard, which they call

   "Orkney's woe and Randver's bane."

The Norse settlers in Caithness saw terrific visions of
Valhalla "the day after the battle." In the NIALA SAGA
a Norwegian prince is introduced as asking after his men,
and the answer is, "they were all killed." Malcolm of
Scotland rejoiced in the defeat and death of his dangerous
and implacable neighbour. "Brian's battle," as it is
called in the Sagas, was, in short, such a defeat as
prevented any general northern combination for the
subsequent invasion of Ireland. Not that the country was
entirely free from their attacks till the end of the
eleventh century, but from the day of Clontarf forward,
the long cherished Northern idea of a conquest of Ireland,
seems to have been gloomily abandoned by that indomitable



If a great battle is to be accounted lost or won, as it
affects principles rather than reputations, then Brian
lost at Clontarf. The leading ideas of his long and
political life were, evidently, centralization and an
hereditary monarchy. To beat back foreign invasion, to
conciliate and to enlist the Irish-born Danes under his
standard, were preliminary steps. For Morrogh, his
first-born, and for Morrogh's descendants, he hoped to
found an hereditary kinship after the type universally
copied throughout Christendom. He was not ignorant of
what Alfred had done for England, Harold for Norway,
Charlemagne for France, and Otho for Germany; and it was
inseparable from his imperial genius to desire to reign
in his posterity, long after his own brief term of sway
should be for ever ended. A new centre of royal authority
should be established on the banks of the great middle
river of the island--itself the best bond of union, as
it was the best highway of intercourse; the Dalgais
dynasty should there flourish for ages, and the descendants
of Brian of the Tributes, through after centuries, eclipse
the glory of the descendants of Nial of the Hostages. It
is idle enough to call the projector of such a change an
usurper and a revolutionist. Usurper he clearly was not,
since he was elevated to power by the action of the old
legitimate electoral principle; revolutionist he was not,
because his design was defeated at Clontarf, in the death
of his eldest son and grandson. Not often have three
generations of Princes of the same family been cut off
on the same field; yet at Clontarf it so happened. Hence,
when Brian fell, and his heir with him, and his heir's
heir, the projected Dalgais dynasty, like the Royal Oak
at Adair, was cut down and its very roots destroyed. For
a new dynasty to be left suddenly without indisputable
heirs is ruinous to its pretensions and partizans. And
in this the event of the battle proved destructive to
the Celtic Constitution. Not from the Anglo-Norman
invasion, but from the day of Clontarf we may date the
ruin of the old electoral monarchy. The spell of ancient
authority was effectually broken and a new one was to be
established. Time, which was indispensable, was not given.
No Prince of the blood of Brian succeeded immediately to
himself. On Clontarf Morrogh, and Morrogh's heir fell,
in the same day and hour. The other sons of Brian had no
direct title to the succession, and, naturally enough,
the deposed Malachy resumed the rank of monarch, without
the consent of Munster, but _with_ the approval of all
the Princes, who had witnessed with ill-concealed envy
the sudden ascendancy of the sons of Kennedy. While McLaig
was lamenting for Brian, by the cascade of Killaloe, the
Laureat of Tara, in an elegy over a lord of Breffni, was

   "Joyful are the race of Conn after Brian's
    Fall, in the battle of Clontarf."

A new dynasty is rarely the work of one able man. Designed
by genius, it must be built up by a succession of politic
Princes, before it becomes an essential part of the
framework of the State. So all history teaches--and Irish
history, after the death of Brian, very clearly illustrates
that truth. Equally true is it that when a nation breaks
up of itself, or from external forces, and is not soon
consolidated by a conqueror, the most natural result is
the aggrandizement of a few great families. Thus it was
in Rome when Julius was assassinated, and in Italy, when
the empire of the west fell to pieces of its own weight.
The kindred of the late sovereign will be sure to have
a party, the chief innovators will have a party, and
there is likely to grow up a third or moderate party. So
it fell out in Ireland. The Hy-Nials of the north, deprived
of the succession, rallied about the Princes of Aileach
as their head. Meath, left crownless, gave room to the
ambition of the sons of Malachy, who, under the name of
O'Melaghlin, took provincial rank. Ossory, like Issachar,
long groaning beneath the burdens of Tara and of Cashel,
cruelly revenged on the Dalgais, returning from Clontarf,
the subjection to which Mahon and Brian had forcibly
reduced that borderland. The Eugenians of Desmond withdrew
in disgust from the banner of Donogh O'Brien, because he
had openly proclaimed his hostility to the alternate
succession, and left his surviving clansmen an easy prey
to the enraged Ossorians. Leinster soon afterwards passed
from the house of O'Byrne to that of McMurrogh. The
O'Briens maintained their dominant interest in the south;
as, after many local struggles, the O'Conors did in the
west. For a hundred and fifty years, after the death of
Malachy II., the history of Ireland is mainly the history
of these five families, O'Neils, O'Melaghlins, McMurroghs,
O'Briens and O'Conors. And for ages after the Normans
enter on the scene, the same provincialized spirit, the
same family ambitions, feuds, hates, and coalitions, with
some exceptional passages, characterize the whole history.
Not that there will be found any want of heroism, or
piety, or self-sacrifice, or of any virtue or faculty,
necessary to constitute a state, save and except the
_power of combination_, alone. Thus, judged by what came
after him, and what was happening in the world abroad,
Brian's design to re-centralize the island, seems the
highest dictate of political wisdom, in the condition to
which the Norwegian and Danish wars had reduced it,
previous to his elevation to the monarchy. Malachy II.
--of the events of whose second reign some mention will
be made hereafter--held the sovereignty after Brian's
death, until the year 1023, when he died an edifying
death in one of the islands of Lough Ennel, near the
present Mullingar. He is called, in the annals of
Clonmacnoise, "the last king of Ireland, of Irish blood,
that had the crown." An ancient quatrain, quoted by
Geoffrey Keating, is thus literally translated:

   "After the happy Melaghlin
    Son of Donald, son of Donogh,
    Each noble king ruled his own tribe
    But Erin owned no sovereign Lord."

The annals of the eleventh and twelfth centuries curiously
illustrate the workings of this "anarchical
constitution"--to employ a phrase first applied to the
Germanic Confederation. "After Malachy's death," says
the quaint old Annalist of Clonmacnoise, "this kingdom
was without a king 20 years, during which time the realm
was governed by two learned men; the one called Con
O'Lochan, a well learned temporal man, and chief poet of
Ireland; the other Corcran Claireach, a devout and holy
man that was anchorite of all Ireland, whose most abiding
was at Lismore. The land was governed like a free state,
and not like a monarchy by them." Nothing can show the
headlessness of the Irish Constitution in the eleventh
century clearer than this interregnum. No one Prince
could rally strength enough to be elected, so that two
Arbitrators, an illustrious Poet and a holy Priest, were
appointed to take cognizance of national causes. The
associating together of a Priest and a layman, a southerner
and a northerner, is conclusive proof that the bond of
Celtic unity, frittered away during the Danish period,
was never afterwards entirely restored. Con O'Lochan
having been killed in Teffia, after a short jurisdiction,
the holy Corcran exercised his singular jurisdiction,
until his decease, which happened at Lismore, (A.D.
1040.) His death produced a new paroxysm of anarchy, out
of which a new organizer arose among the tribes of
Leinster. This was Dermid, son of Donogh, who died (A.D.
1005), when Dermid must have been a mere infant, as he
does not figure in the annals till the year 1032, and
the acts of young Princes are seldom overlooked in Gaelic
Chronicles. He was the first McMurrogh who became King
of Leinster, that royalty having been in the O'Byrne
family, until the son of Maelmurra, of Clontarf, was
deposed by O'Neil in 1035, and retired to a monastery in
Cologne, where he died in 1052. In 1036 or 1037 Dermid
captured Dublin and Waterford, married the grand-daughter
of Brian, and by '41 was strong enough to assume the rank
of ruler of the southern half-kingdom. This dignity he
held with a strong and warlike hand thirty years, when
he fell in battle, at Ova, in Meath. He must have been
at that time full threescore years and ten. He is described
by the elegiac Bards as of "ruddy complexion," "with
teeth laughing in danger," and possessing all the virtues
of a warrior-king; "whose death," adds the lamentation,
"brought scarcity of peace" with it, so that "there will
not be peace," "there will not be armistice," between
Meath and Leinster. It may well be imagined that every
new resort to the two-third test, in the election of
Ard-Righ, should bring "scarcity of peace" to Ireland.
We can easily understand the ferment of hope, fear,
intrigue, and passion, which such an occasion caused
among the great rival families. What canvassing there
was in Kinkora and Cashel, at Cruachan and Aileach, and
at Fernamore! What piecing and patching of interests,
what libels on opposing candidates, what exultation in
the successful, what discontent in the defeated camp!

The successful candidate for the southern half-kingdom
after Dermid's death was Thorlogh, grandson of Brian,
and foster-son of the late ruler. In his reign, which
lasted thirty-three years, the political fortunes of his
house revived. He died in peace at Kinkora (A.D. 1087),
and the war of succession again broke out. The rival
candidates at this period were Murrogh O'Brien, son of
the late king, whose ambition was to complete the design
of Brian, and Donald, Prince of Aileach, the leader of
the Northern Hy-Nials. Two abler men seldom divided a
country by their equal ambition. Both are entered in the
annals as "Kings of Ireland," but it is hard to discover
that, during all the years of their contest, either of
them submitted to the other. To chronicle all the incidents
of the struggle would take too much space here; and, as
was to be expected, a third party profited most by it;
the West came in, in the person of O'Conor, to lord it
over both North and South, and to add another element to
the dynastic confusion.

This brief abstract of our civil affairs after the death
of Brian, presents us with the extraordinary spectacle
of a country without a constitution working out the
problem of its stormy destiny in despite of all internal
and external dangers. Everything now depended on individual
genius and energy; nothing on system, usage, or
prescription. Each leading family and each province
became, in turn, the head of the State. The supreme title
seems to have been fatal for a generation to the family
that obtained it, for in no case is there a lineal descent
of the crown. The prince of Aileach or Kinkora naturally
preferred his permanent patrimony to an uncertain tenure
of Tara; an office not attached to a locality became, of
course, little more than an arbitrary title. Hence, the
titular King of Ireland might for one lifetime reign by
the Shannon, in the next by the Bann, in a third, by
Lough Corrib. The supremacy, thus came to be considered
a merely personal appurtenance, was carried about in the
old King's tent, or on the young King's crupper,
deteriorating and decaying by every transposition it
underwent. Herein, we have the origin of Irish disunion
with all its consequences, good, bad, and indifferent.

Are we to blame Brian for this train of events against
which he would have provided a sharp remedy in the
hereditary principle? Or, on the other hand, are we to
condemn Malachy, the possessor of legitimate power, if
he saw in that remedy only the ambition of an aspiring
family already grown too great? Theirs was in fact the
universal struggle of reform and conservatism; the reformer
and the heirs of his work were cut off on Clontarf; the
abuses of the elective principle continued unrestrained
by ancient salutary usage and prejudice, and the land
remained a tempting prey to such Adventurers, foreign or
native, as dare undertake to mould power out of its
chaotic materials.



Though Ireland dates the decay of Scandinavian power from
Good Friday, 1014, yet the North did not wholly cease to
send forth its warriors, nor were the shores of the
Western Island less tempting to them than before. The
second year after the battle of Clontarf, Canute founded
his Danish dynasty in England, which existed in no little
splendour during thirty-seven years. The Saxon line was
restored by Edward "the Confessor;" in the forty-third
year of the century, only to be extinguished for ever by
the Norman conquest twenty-three years later. Scotland,
during the same years was more than once subject to
invasion from the same ancient enemy. Malcolm II., and
the brave usurper Macbeth, fought several engagements
with the northern leaders, and generally with brilliant
success. By a remarkable coincidence, the Scottish
chronicles also date the decadence of Danish power on
their coasts from 1014, though several engagements were
fought in Scotland after that year.

Malachy II. had promptly followed up the victory of
Clontarf by the capture of Dublin, the destruction of
its fort, and the exemplary chastisement of the tribes
of Leinster, who had joined Maelmurra as allies of the
Danes. Sitrick himself seems to have eluded the suspicions
and vengeance of the conquerors by a temporary exile, as
we find in the succession of the Dublin Vikings, "one
Hyman, an usurper," entered as ruling "part of a year
while Sitrick was in banishment." His family interest,
however, was strong among the native Princes, and whatever
his secret sympathies may have been, he had taken no
active part against them in the battle of Clontarf. By
his mother, the Lady Gormley of Offally, he was a half
O'Conor; by marriage he was son-in-law of Brian, and
uterine brother of Malachy. After his return to Dublin,
when, in 1018, Brian, son of Maelmurra, fell prisoner
into his hands, as if to clear himself of any lingering
suspicion of an understanding with that family, he caused
his eyes to be put out--a cruel but customary punishment
in that age. This act procured for him the deadly enmity
of the warlike mountaineers of Wicklow, who, in the year
1022, gave him a severe defeat at Delgany. Even this he
outlived, and died seven years later, the acknowledged
lord of his town and fortress, forty years after his
first accession to that title. He was succeeded by his
son, grandson, and great-grandson during the remaining
half century.

The kingdom of Leinster, in consequence of the defeat of
Maelmurra, the incapacity of Brian, and the destruction
of other claimants of the same family, passed to the
family of McMurrogh, another branch of the same ancestry.
Dermid, the first and most distinguished King of Leinster
of this house, took Waterford (A.D. 1037), and so reduced
its strength, that we find its hosts no longer formidable
in the field. Those of Limerick continued their homage
to the house of Kinkora, while the descendants of Sitrick
recognised Dermid of Leinster as their sovereign. In
short, all the Dano-Irish from thenceforward began to
knit themselves kindly to the soil, to obey the neighbouring
Princes, to march with them to battle, and to pursue the
peaceful calling of merchants, upon sea. The only peculiarly
_Danish_ undertaking we hear of again, in our Annals,
was the attempt of a united fleet, equipped by Dublin,
Wexford, and Waterford, in the year 1088, to retake Cork
from the men of Desmond, when they were driven with severe
loss to their ships. Their few subsequent expeditions
were led abroad, into the Hebrides, the Isle of Man, or
Wales, where they generally figure as auxiliaries or
mercenaries in the service of local Princes. They appear
in Irish battles only as contingents to the native
armies--led by their own leaders and recognized as a
separate, but subordinate force. In the year 1073, the
Dublin Danes did homage to the monarch Thorlogh, and from
1095, until his death (A.D. 1119), they recognized no
other lord but Murkertach More O'Brien; this king, at
their own request, had also nominated one of his family
as Lord of the Danes and Welsh of the Isle of Man.

The wealth of these Irish-Danes, before and after the
time of Brian, may be estimated by the annual tribute
which Limerick paid to that Prince--a pipe of red wine
for every day in the year. In the year 1029, Olaf, son
of Sitrick, of Dublin, being taken prisoner by O'Regan,
the Lord of East-Meath, paid for his ransom--"twelve
hundred cows, seven score British horses, three score
ounces of gold!" sixty ounces of white silver as his
"fetter-ounce;" the sword of Carlus, besides the usual
legal fees, for recording these profitable formalities.

Being now Christians, they also began to found and endow
churches, with the same liberality with which their Pagan
fathers had once enriched the temples of Upsala and
Trondheim. The oldest religious foundations in the
seaports they possessed owe their origin to them; but
even as Christians, they did not lose sight of their
nationality. They contended for, and obtained Dano-Irish
Bishops, men of their own race, speaking their own speech,
to preside over the sees of Dublin, Waterford, and
Limerick. When the Irish Synods or Primates asserted over
them any supervision which they were unwilling to
admit--except in the case of St. Malachy--they usually
invoked the protection of the See of Canterbury, which,
after the Norman conquest of England, became by far the
most powerful Archbishopric in either island.

In the third quarter of this century there arose in the
Isle of Man a fortunate leader, who may almost be called
the last of the sea kings. This was Godard _Crovan_ (the
white-handed), son of an Icelandic Prince, and one of
the followers of Harald Harfagar and Earl Tosti, in their
invasion of Northumbria (A.D. 1066). Returning from the
defeat of his chiefs, Godard saw and seized upon Man as
the centre of future expeditions of his own, in the course
of which he subdued the Hebrides, divided them with the
gallant Somerled (ancestor of the MacDonalds of the
Isles), and established his son Lagman (afterwards put
to death by King Magnus _Barefoot_) as his viceroy in
the Orkneys and Shetlands. The weakened condition of the
Danish settlement at Dublin attracted his ambition, and
where he entered as a mediator he remained as a master.
In the succession of the Dublin Vikings he is assigned
a reign of ten years, and his whole course of conquest
seems to have occupied some twenty years (A.D. 1077 to
1098). At length the star of this Viking of the Irish
sea paled before the mightier name of a King of Norway,
whose more brilliant ambition had a still shorter span.
The story of this _Magnus_ (called, it is said, from his
adoption of the Scottish kilt, Magnus _Barefoot_) forms
the eleventh Saga in "the Chronicles of the Kings of
Norway." He began to reign in the year 1093, and soon
after undertook an expedition to the south, "with many
fine men, and good shipping." Taking the Orkneys on his
way, he sent their Earls prisoners to Norway, and placed
his own son, Sigurd, in their stead. He overran the
Hebrides, putting Lagman, son of Godard Crovan, to death.
He spared only "the holy Island," as Iona was now called,
even by the Northmen, and there, in after years, his own
bones were buried. The Isles of Man and Anglesea, and
the coast of Wales, shared the same fate, and thence he
retraced his course to Scotland, where, borne in his
galley across the Isthmus of Cantyre, to fulfil an old
prophecy, he claimed possession of the land on both sides
of Loch Awe. It was while he wintered in the Southern
Hebrides, according to the Saga, that he contracted his
son Sigurd with the daughter of Murkertach O'Brien, called
by the Northmen "Biadmynia." In summer he sailed homeward,
and did not return southward till the ninth year of his
reign (A.D. 1102), when his son, Sigurd, had come of age,
and bore the title of "King of the Orkneys and Hebrides."
"He sailed into the west sea," says the Saga, "with the
finest men who could be got in Norway. All the powerful
men of the country followed him, such as Sigurd Hranesson,
and his brother Ulf, Vidkunner Johnsson, Dag Eliffsson,
Sorker of Sogn, Eyvind Olboge, the king's marshal, and
many other great men." On the intelligence of this fleet
having arrived in Irish waters, according to the annals,
Murkertach and his allies marched in force to Dublin,
where, however, Magnus "made peace with them for one
year," and Murkertach "gave his daughter to Sigurd, with
many jewels and gifts." That winter Magnus spent with
Murkertach at Kinkora, and "towards spring both kings
went westward with their army all the way to Ulster."
This was one of those annual visitations which kings,
whose authority was not yet established, were accustomed
to make. The circuit, as usual, was performed in about
six weeks, after which the Irish monarch returned home,
and Magnus went on board his fleet at Dublin, to return
to Norway. According to the Norse account he landed again
on the coast of Ulidia (Down), where he expected "cattle
for ship-provision," which Murkertach had promised to
send him, but the Irish version would seem to imply that
he went on shore to seize the cattle perforce. It certainly
seems incredible that Murkertach should send cattle to
the shore of Strangford Lough, from the pastures of
Thomond, when they might be more easily driven to Dublin,
or the mouth of the Boyne. "The cattle had not made their
appearance on the eve of Bartholomew's Mass" (August
23rd, A.D. 1103), says the Saga, so "when the sun rose
in the sky, King Magnus himself went on shore with the
greater part of his men. King Magnus," continues the
scald, "had a helmet on his head; a red shield, in which
was inlaid a gilded lion; and was girt with the sword
Legbiter, of which the hilt was of ivory, and the hand
grip wound about with gold thread; and the sword was
extremely sharp. In his hand he had a short spear, and
a red silk short cloak over his coat, on which both before
and behind was embroidered a lion, in yellow silk; and
all men acknowledged that they had never seen a brisker,
statelier man." A dust cloud was seen far inland, and
the Northmen fell into order of battle. It proved, however,
by their own account to be the messengers with the promised
supply of cattle; but, after they came up, and while
returning to the shore, they were violently assailed on
all sides by the men of Down. The battle is described,
with true Homeric vigour, by Sturleson. "The Irish," he
says, "shot boldly; and although they fell in crowds,
there came always two in place of one." Magnus, with most
of his nobles, were slain on the spot, but Vidkunner
Johnsson escaped to the shipping, "with the King's banner
and the sword Legbiter." And the Saga of Magnus Barefoot
concludes thus: "Now when King Sigurd heard that his
father had fallen, he set off immediately, leaving the
Irish King's daughter behind, and proceeded in autumn,
with the whole fleet directly to Norway." The annalists
of Ulster barely record the fact, that "Magnus, King of
Lochlan and the Isles, was slain by the Ulidians, with
a slaughter of his people about him, while on a predatory
excursion." They place the event in the year 1104.

Our account with the Northmen may here be closed. Borne
along by the living current of events, we leave them
behind, high up on the remoter channels of the stream.
Their terrible ravens shall flit across our prospect no
more. They have taken wing to their native north, where
they may croak yet a little while over the cold and
crumbling altars of Odin and Asa Thor. The bright light
of the Gospel has penetrated even to those last haunts
of Paganism, and the fierce but not ungenerous race, with
which we have been so long familiar, begin to change
their natures under its benign influence.

Although both the scalds and chroniclers of the North
frequently refer to Ireland as a favourite theatre of
their heroes, we derive little light from those of their
works which have yet been made public. All connection
between the two races had long ceased, before the first
scholars of the North began to investigate the earlier
annals of their own country, and then they were content
with a very vague and general knowledge of the western
Island, for which their ancestors had so, fiercely
contended throughout so many generations. The oldest
maps, known in Scandinavia, exhibit a mere outline of
the Irish coast, with a few points in the interior;
fiords, with Norse names, are shown, answering to Loughs
Foyle, Swilly, Larne, Strang_ford_, and Carling_ford_;
the Provincial lines of Ulster and of Connaught are rudely
traced; and the situation of Enniskillen, Tara, Dublin,
Glendaloch, Water_ford_, Limer_ick_, and Swer_wick_,
accurately laid down. It is thought that all those places
ending in _wick_ or _ford_, on the Irish map, are of
Scandinavian origin; as well as the names of the islets,
Skerries, Lambey, and Saltees. Many noble families, as
the Plunkets, McIvers, Archbolds, Harolds, Stacks,
Skiddies, Cruises, and McAuliffes, are derived from the
same origin.

During the contest we have endeavoured to describe, three
hundred and ten years had passed since the warriors of
Lochlin first landed on the shores of Erin. Ten generations,
according to the measured span of adult life, were born,
and trained to arms and marshalled in battle, since the
enemy, "powerful on sea," first burst upon the shield-shaped
Isle of Saints. At the close of the eighth century we
cast back a grateful retrospect on the Christian ages of
Ireland. Can we do so now, at the close of the eleventh?
Alas! far from it. Bravely and in the main successfully
as the Irish have borne themselves, they come out of that
cruel, treacherous, interminable war with many rents and
stains in that vesture of innocence in which we saw them
arrayed at the close of their third Christian century.
Odin has not conquered, but all the worst vices of
warfare--its violence, its impiety, discontent,
self-indulgence, and contempt for the sweet paths of
peace and mild counsels of religion--these must and did
remain, long after Dane and Norwegian have for ever





The last scene of the Irish monarchy, before it entered
on the anarchical period, was not destitute of an
appropriate grandeur. It was the death-bed scene of the
second Malachy, the rival, ally, and successor of the
great Brian. After the eventful day of Clontarf he resumed
the monarchy, without opposition, and for eight years he
continued in its undisturbed enjoyment. The fruitful
land of Meath again gave forth its abundance, unscourged
by the spoiler, and beside its lakes and streams the
hospitable Ard-Righ had erected, or restored, three
hundred fortified houses, where, as his poets sung,
shelter was freely given to guests from the king of the
elements. His own favourite residence was at Dunnasciath
("the fort of shields"), in the north-west angle of Lough
Ennel, in the present parish of Dysart. In the eighth
year after Clontarf--the summer of 1022--the Dublin Danes
once again ventured on a foray into East-Meath, and the
aged monarch marched to meet them. At Athboy he encountered
the enemy, and drove them, routed and broken, out of the
ancient mensal land of the Irish kings.

Thirty days after that victory he was called on to confront
the conqueror of all men, even Death. He had reached the
age of seventy-three, and he prepared to meet his last
hour with the zeal and humility of a true Christian. To
Dunnasciath repaired Amalgaid, Archbishop of Armagh, the
Abbots of Clonmacnoise and of Durrow, with a numerous
train of the clergy. For greater solitude, the dying king
was conveyed into an island of the lake opposite his
fort--then called Inis-Cro, now Cormorant Island--and
there, "after intense penance," on the fourth of the
Nones of September precisely, died Malachy, son of Donald,
son of Donogh, in the fond language of the bards, "the
pillar of the dignity and nobility of the western world:"
and "the seniors of all Ireland sung masses, hymns,
psalms, and canticles for the welfare of his soul."

"This," says the old Translator of the Clonmacnoise
Annals, "was the last king of Ireland of Irish blood,
that had the crown; yet there were seven kings after
without crown, before the coming in of the English." Of
these seven subsequent kings we are to write under the
general title of "the War of Succession." They are called
Ard-Righ _go Fresabra_, that is, kings opposed, or
unrecognised, by certain tribes, or Provinces. For it
was essential to the completion of the title, as we have
before seen, that when the claimant was of Ulster, he
should have Connaught and Munster, or Leinster and Munster,
in his obedience: in other words, he should be able to
command the allegiance of two-thirds of his suffragans.
If of Munster, he should be equally potent in the other
Provinces, in order to rank among the recognised kings
of Erin. Whether some of the seven kings subsequent to
Malachy II., who assumed the title, were not fairly
entitled to it, we do not presume to say; it is our
simpler task to narrate the incidents of that brilliant
war of succession, which occupies almost all the interval
between the Danish and Anglo-Norman invasions. The chaunt
of the funeral Mass of Malachy was hardly heard upon
Lough Ennel, when Donogh O'Brien despatched his agents,
claiming the crown from the Provincial Princes. He was
the eldest son of Brian by his second marriage, and his
mother was an O'Conor, an additional source of strength
to him, in the western Province. It had fallen to the
lot of Donogh, and his elder brother, Teigue or Thaddeus,
to conduct the remnant of the Dalcassians from Clontarf
to their home. Marching through Ossory, by the great
southern road, they were attacked in their enfeebled
state by the lord of that brave little border territory,
on whom Brian's hand had fallen with heavy displeasure.
Wounded as many of them were, they fought their way
desperately towards Cashel, leaving 150 men dead in one
of their skirmishes. Of all who had left the Shannon side
to combat with the enemy, but 850 men lived to return to
their homes.

No sooner had they reached Kinkora, than a fierce dispute
arose, between the friends of Teigue and Donogh, as to
which should reign over Munster. A battle ensued, with
doubtful result, but by the intercession of the Clergy
this unnatural feud was healed, and the brothers reigned
conjointly for nine years afterwards, until Teigue fell
in an engagement in Ely (Queen's County), as was charged
and believed, by the machinations of his colleague and
brother. Thorlogh, son of Teigue, was the foster-son,
and at this time the guest or hostage of Dermid of
Leinster, the founder of the McMurrogh family, which had
now risen into the rank justly forfeited by the traitor
Maelmurra. When he reached man's age he married the
daughter of Dermid, and we shall soon hear of him again
asserting in Munster the pretensions of the eldest
surviving branch of the O'Brien family.

The death of his brother and of Malachy within the same
year, proved favourable to the ambition of Donogh O'Brien.
All Munster submitted to his sway; Connaught was among
the first to recognise his title as Ard-Righ. Ossory and
Leinster, though unwillingly, gave in their adhesion.
But Meath refused to recognise him, and placed its
government in commission, in the hands of Con O'Lochan,
the arch-poet, and Corcran, the priest, already more than
once mentioned. The country, north of Meath, obeyed
Flaherty O'Neil, of Aileach, whose ambition, as well as
that of all his house, was to restore the northern
supremacy, which had continued unbroken, from the fourth
to the ninth century. This Flaherty was a vigorous, able,
and pious Prince, who held stoutly on to the northern
half-kingdom. In the year 1030 he made the frequent but
adventurous pilgrimage to Rome, from which he is called,
in the pedigree of his house, _an Trostain_, or the

The greatest obstacle, however, to the complete ascendency
of Donogh, arose in the person of his nephew, now advanced
to manhood. Thorlogh O'Brien possessed much of the courage
and ability of his grandfather, and he had at his side,
a faithful and powerful ally in his foster-father, Dermid,
of Leinster. Rightly or wrongly, on proof or on suspicion,
he regarded his uncle as his father's murderer, and he
pursued his vengeance with a skill and constancy worthy
of _Hamlet_. At the time of his father's death, he was
a mere lad--in his fourteenth year. But, as he grew
older, he accompanied his foster-father in all his
expeditions, and rapidly acquired a soldier's fame. By
marriage with Dervorgoil, daughter of the Lord of Ossory,
he strengthened his influence at the most necessary point;
and what, with so good a cause and such fast friends as
he made in exile, his success against his uncle is little
to be wondered at. Leinster and Ossory, which had
temporarily submitted to Donogh's claim, soon found good
pretexts for refusing him tribute, and a border war,
marked by all the usual atrocities, raged for several
successive seasons. The contest, is relieved, however,
of its purely civil character, by the capture of Waterford,
still Danish, in 1037, and of Dublin, in 1051. On this
occasion, Dermid, of Leinster, bestowed the city on his
son Morrogh (grandfather of Strongbow's ally), to whom
the remnant of its inhabitants, as well as their kinsmen
in Man, submitted for the time with what grace they could.

The position of Donogh O'Brien became yearly weaker.
His rival had youth, energy, and fortune on his side.
The Prince of Connaught finally joined him, and thus, a
league was formed, which overcame all opposition. In the
year 1058, Donogh received a severe defeat at the base
of the Galtees; and although he went into the house of
O'Conor the same year, and humbly submitted to him, it
only postponed his day of reckoning. Three years after
O'Conor took Kinkora, and Dermid, of Leinster, burned
Limerick, and took hostages as far southward as Saint
Brendan's hill (Tralee). The next year Donogh O'Brien,
then fully fourscore years of age, weary of life and of
the world, took the cross-staff, and departed on a
pilgrimage to Rome, where he died soon after, in the
monastery of St. Stephen. It is said by some writers that
Donogh brought with him to Rome and presented to the
Pope, Alexander II., the crown of his father--and from
this tradition many theories and controversies have
sprung. It is not unlikely that a deposed monarch should
have carried into exile whatever portable wealth he still
retained, nor that he should have presented his crown to
the Sovereign Pontiff before finally quitting the world.
But as to conferring with the crown, the sovereignty of
which it was once an emblem, neither reason nor religion
obliges us to believe any such hypothesis.

Dermid of Leinster, upon the banishment of Donogh, son
of Brian (A.D. 1063), became actual ruler of the southern
half-kingdom and nominal Ard-Righ, "with opposition."
The two-fold antagonism to this Prince, came, as might
be expected from Conor, son of Malachy, the head of the
southern Hy-Nial dynasty, and from the chiefs of the
elder dynasty of the North. Thorlogh O'Brien, now King
of Cashel, loyally repaid, by his devoted adherence, the
deep debt he owed in his struggles and his early youth
to Dermid. There are few instances in our Annals of a
more devoted friendship than existed between these brave
and able Princes through all the changes of half a century.
No one act seems to have broken the life-long intimacy
of Dermid and Thorlogh; no cloud ever came between them;
no mistrust, no distrust. Rare and precious felicity of
human experience! How many myriads of men have sighed
out their souls in vain desire for that best blessing
which Heaven can bestow, a true, unchanging, unsuspecting

To return: Conor O'Melaghlin could not see, without
deep-seated discontent, a Prince of Leinster assume the
rank which his father and several of his ancestors had
held. A border strife between Meath and Leinster arose
not unlike that which had been waged a few years before
for the deposition of Donogh, between Leinster and Ossory
on the one part, and Munster on the other. Various were
the encounters, whose obscure details are seldom preserved
to us. But the good fortune of Dermid prevailed in all,
until, in the year 1070, he lost Morrogh, his heir, by
a natural death at Dublin, and Gluniarn, another son,
fell in battle with the men of Meath. Two years later,
in the battle of Ova, in the same territory, and against
the same enemy, Dermid himself fell, with the lord of
Forth, and a great host of Dublin Danes and Leinster men.
The triumph of the son of Malachy, and the sorrow and
anger of Leinster, were equally great. The bards have
sung the praise of Dermid in strains which history accepts:
they praise his ruddy aspect and laughing teeth; they
remember how he upheld the standard of war, and none
dared contend with him in battle; they denounce vengeance
on Meath as soon as his death-feast is over--a vengeance
too truly pursued.

As a picture of the manners and habits of thought in
those tunes, the fate of Conor, son of Melaghlin, and
its connection with the last illness and death of Thorlogh
O'Brien, are worthy of mention. Conor was treacherously
slain, the year after the battle of Ova, in a parley with
his own nephew, though the parley was held under the
protection of the _Bachall-Isa_, or Staff, of Christ,
the most revered relic of the Irish Church. After his
death, his body was buried in the great Church of
Clonmacnoise, in his own patrimony. But Thorlogh O'Brien
perhaps, from his friendship for Dermid, carried off his
head, as the head of an enemy, to Kinkora. When it was
placed in his presence in his palace, a mouse ran out
from the dead man's head, and under the king's mantle,
which occasioned him such a fright that he grew suddenly
sick, his hair fell off, and his life was despaired of.
It was on Good Friday that the buried head was carried
away, and on Easter Sunday, it was tremblingly restored
again, with two rings of gold as a peace offering to the
Church. Thus were God and Saint Kieran vindicated.
Thorlogh O'Brien slowly regained his strength, though
Keating, and the authors he followed, think he was never
the same man again, after the fright he received from
the head of Conor O'Melaghlin. He died peaceably and full
of penitence, at Kinkora, on the eve of the Ides of July,
A.D. 1086, after severe physical suffering. He was in
the 77th year of his age, the 32nd of his rule over
Munster, and the 13th--since the death of Dermid of
Leinster--in his actual sovereignty of the southern half,
and nominal rule of the whole kingdom. He was succeeded
by his son Murkertach, or Murtogh, afterwards called
_More_, or the great.

We have thus traced to the third generation the political
fortunes of the family of Brian, which includes so much
of the history of those times. That family had become,
and was long destined to remain, the first in rank and
influence in the southern half-kingdom. But internal
discord in a great house, as in a great state, is fatal
to the peaceable transmission of power. That "acknowledged
right of birth" to which a famous historian attributes
"the peaceful successions" of modern Europe, was too
little respected in those ages, in many countries of
Christendom--and had no settled prescription in its favour
among the Irish. Primogeniture and the whole scheme of
feudal dependence seems to have been an essential
preparative for modern civilization: but as Ireland had
escaped the legions of Rome, so she existed without the
circle of feudal organization. When that system did at
length appear upon her soil it was embodied in an invading
host, and patriot zeal could discern nothing good, nothing
imitable in the laws and customs of an enemy, whose armed
presence in the land was an insult to its inhabitants.
Thus did our Island twice lose the discipline which
elsewhere laid the foundation of great states: once in
the Roman, and again in the Feudal era.



Four years before the death of Thorlogh O'Brien, a Prince
destined to be the life-long rival of his great son, had
succeeded to the kingship of the northern tribes. This
was Donald, son of Ardgall, Prince of Aileach, sometimes
called "O" and sometimes "Mac" Laughlin. Donald had
reached the mature age of forty when he succeeded in the
course of nature to his father, Ardgall, and was admitted
the first man of the North, not only in station but for
personal graces and accomplishments; for wisdom, wealth,
liberality, and love of military adventure.

Murkertach, or Murtogh O'Brien, was of nearly the same
age as his rival, and his equal, if not superior in
talents, both for peace and war. During the last years
of his father's reign and illness, he had been the real
ruler of the south, and had enforced the claims of Cashel
on all the tribes of Leath Mogha, from Dublin to Galway.
In the year 1094, by mutual compact, brought about through
the intercession of the Archbishop of Armagh and the
great body of the clergy, north and south--and still more
perhaps by the pestilence and famine which raged at
intervals during the last years of the eleventh century
--this ancient division of the midland _asker_, running
east and west, was solemnly restored by consent of both
parties, and Leath Mogha and Leath Conn became for the
moment independent territories. So thoroughly did the
Church enter into the arrangement, that, at the Synod of
Rath-Brazil, held a few years later, the seats of the
twelve Bishops of the southern half were grouped round
the Archbishop of Cashel, while the twelve of the northern
half were ranged round the Archbishop of Armagh. The
Bishops of Meath, the ancient mensal of the monarchy,
seem to have occupied a middle station between the benches
of the north and south.

Notwithstanding the solemn compact of 1094, Murtogh did
not long cease to claim the title, nor to seek the hostages
of all Ireland. As soon as the fearful visitations with
which the century had closed were passed over, he resumed
his warlike forays, and found Donald of Aileach nothing
loath to try again the issue of arms. Each prince, however,
seems to have been more anxious to coerce or interest
the secondary chiefs in his own behalf than to meet his
rival in the old-style pitched battle. Murtogh's annual
march was usually along the Shannon, into Leitrim, thence
north by Sligo, and across the Erne and Finn into Donegal
and Derry. Donald's annual excursion led commonly along
the Bann, into Dalriada and Ulidia, Whence by way of
Newry, across the Boyne, into Meath, and from West-Meath
into Munster. In one of these forays, at the very opening
of the twelfth century, Donald surprised Kinkora in the
absence of its lord, razed the fort and levelled the
buildings to the earth. But the next season the southern
king paid him back in kind, when he attacked and demolished
Aileach, and caused each of his soldiers to carry off a
stone of the ruin in his knapsack. "I never heard of
the billeting of grit stones," exclaims a bard of those
days, "though I have heard of the billeting of soldiers:
but now we see the stones of Aileach billeted on the
horses of the King of the West!"

Such circuits of the Irish kings, especially in days of
opposition, were repeated with much regularity. They seem
to have set out commonly in May--or soon after the festival
of Easter--and when the tour of the island was made, they
occupied about six weeks in duration. The precise number
of men who took part in these visitations is nowhere
stated, but in critical times no prince, claiming the
perilous honour of _Ard-Righ_, would be likely to march
with less than from five to ten thousand men. The
movements of such a multitude must have been attended
with many oppressions and inconveniences; their encampment
for even a week in any territory must have been a serious
burthen to the resident inhabitants, whether hostile or
hospitable. Yet this was one inevitable consequence of
the breaking up of the federal centre at Tara. In earlier
days, the _Ard-Righ_, on his election, or in an emergency,
made an armed procession through the island. Ordinarily,
however, his suffragans visited him, and not he them;
all Ireland went up to Tara to the _Feis_, or to the
festivals of Baaltine and Samhain. Now that there was no
Tara to go to, the monarch, or would-be monarch, found
it indispensable to show himself often, and to exercise
his authority in person, among every considerable tribe
in the island. To do justice to Murtogh O'Brien, he does
not appear to have sought occasions of employing force
when on these expeditions, but rather to have acted the
part of an armed negotiator. On his return from the
demolition of Aileach (A.D. 1101), among other acts of
munificence, he, in an assembly of the clergy of Leath
Mogha, made a solemn gift of the city of Cashel, free of
all rents and dues, to the Archbishop and the Clergy,
for ever. His munificence to churches, and his patronage
of holy men, were eminent traits in this Prince's character.
And the clergy of that age were eminently worthy of the
favours of such Princes. Their interposition frequently
brought about a truce between the northern and southern
kings. In the year 1103, the hostages of both were placed
in custody with Donald, Archbishop of Armagh, to guarantee
a twelvemonth's peace. But the next season the contest
was renewed. Murtogh besieged Armagh for a week, which
Donald of Aileach successfully defended, until the siege
was abandoned. In a subsequent battle the northern force
defeated one division of Murtogh's allies in Iveagh,
under the Prince of Leinster, who fell on the field, with
the lords of Idrone, Ossory, Desies, Kerry, and the Dublin
Danes. Murtogh himself, with another division of his
troops, was on an incursion into Antrim when he heard of
this defeat. The northern visitors carried off among
other spoils the royal tent and standard, a trophy which
gave new bitterness on the one side, and new confidence
on the other. Donald, the good Archbishop, the following
year (A.D. 1105) proceeded to Dublin, where Murtogh was,
or was soon expected, to renew the previous peace between
North and South, but he fell suddenly ill soon after his
arrival, and caused himself to be carried homewards in
haste. At a church by the wayside, not far from Dublin,
he was anointed and received the viaticum. He survived,
however, to reach Armagh, where he expired on the 12th
day of August. Kellach, latinized Celsus, his saintly
successor, was promoted to the Primacy, and solemnly
consecrated on Saint Adamnan's day following--the 23rd
of September, 1105.

Archbishop Celsus, whose accession was equally well
received in Munster as in Ulster, followed in the footsteps
of his pious predecessor, in taking a decided part with
neither Leath Mogha nor Leath Conn. When, in the year
1110, both parties marched to Slieve-Fuaid, with a view
to a challenge of battle, Celsus interposed between them
the _Bachall-Isa_--and a solemn truce followed; again,
three years later, when they confronted each other in
Iveagh, in Down, similar success attended a similar
interposition. Three years later Murtogh O'Brien was
seized with so severe an illness, that he became like to
a living skeleton, and though he recovered sufficiently
to resume the exercise of authority he never regained
his full health. He died in a spiritual retreat, at
Lismore, on the 4th of the Ides of March, A.D. 1119, and
was buried at Killaloe. His great rival, Donald of Leath
Conn, did not long survive him: he died at Derry, also
in a religious house, on the 5th of the Ides of February,
A.D. 1121.

While these two able men were thus for more than a quarter
of a century struggling for the supremacy, a third power
was gradually strengthening itself west of the Shannon,
destined to profit by the contest, more than either of
the principals. This was the family of O'Conor, of
Roscommon, who derived their pedigree from the same stock
as the O'Neils, and their name from Conor, an ancestor,
who ruled over Connaught, towards the end of the ninth
century. Two or three of their line before Conor had
possessed the same rank and title, but it was by no means
regarded as an adjunct of the house of Rathcrogan, before
the time at which we have arrived. Their co-relatives,
sometimes their rivals, but oftener their allies, were
the O'Ruarcs of Breffny, McDermots of Moylurg, the
O'Flahertys of _Iar_ or West Connaught, the O'Shaughnessys,
O'Heynes, and O'Dowdas. The great neighbouring family
of O'Kelly had sprung from a different branch of the
far-spreading Gaelic tree. At the opening of the twelfth
century, Thorlogh More O'Conor, son of Ruari of the Yellow
Hound, son of Hugh of the Broken Spear, was the recognised
head of his race, both for valour and discretion. By
some historians he is called the half-brother of Murtogh
O'Brien, and it is certain that he was the faithful ally
of that powerful prince. In the early stages of the recent
contest between North and South, Donald of Aileach had
presented himself at Rathcrogan, the residence of O'Conor,
who entertained him for a fortnight, and gave him hostages;
but Connaught finally sided with Munster, and thus, by
a decided policy, escaped being ground to powder, as corn
is ground between the mill-stones. But the nephew and
successor of Murtogh was not prepared to reciprocate to
Connaught the support it had rendered to Munster, but
rather looked for its continuance to himself. Conor
O'Brien, who became King of Munster in 1120, resisted
all his life the pretensions of any house but his own to
the southern half-kingdom, and against a less powerful
or less politic antagonist, his energy and capacity would
have been certain to prevail. The posterity of Malachy
in Meath, as well as the Princes of Aileach, were equally
hostile to the designs of the new aspirant. One line had
given three, another seven, another twenty kings to
Erin--but who had ever heard of an _Ard-Righ_ coming out
of Connaught? 'Twas so they reasoned in those days of
fierce family pride, and so they acted. Yet Thorlogh,
son of Ruari, son of Hugh, proved himself in the fifteen
years' war, previous to his accession (1021 to 1136),
more than a match for all his enemies. He had been chief
of his tribe since the year 1106, and from the first had
begun to lay his far forecasting plans for the sovereignty.
He had espoused the cause of the house of O'Brien, and
had profited by that alliance. Nor were all his thoughts
given to war. He had bridged the river Suca at Ballinasloe,
and the Shannon at Athlone and Shannon harbour, and the
same year these works were finished (1120 or '21) he
celebrated the ancient games at Tailtean, in assertion
of his claim to the monarchy. His main difficulty was
the stubborn pride of Munster, and the valour and enterprise
of Conor O'Brien, surnamed Conor "of the fortresses." Of
the years following his assertion of his title, few passed
without war between those Provinces. In 1121 and 1127,
Thorlogh triumphed in the south, took hostages from
Lismore to Tralee, and returned home exultingly; a few
years later the tide turned, and Conor O'Brien was equally
victorious against him, in the heart of his own country.
Thorlogh played off in the south the ancient jealousy of
the Eugenian houses against the Dalcassians, and thus
weakened both, to his own advantage. In the year 1126 he
took Dublin and raised his son to the lordship, as Dermid
of Leinster, and Thorlogh O'Brien had done formerly:
marching southward he encamped in Ormond, from Lammas to
St. Bridget's day, and overran Munster with his troops
in all directions, taking Cork, Cashel, Ardfinnan, and
Tralee. Celsus, the holy Primate of Armagh, deploring
the evils of this protracted year, left his peaceful
city, and spent thirteen months in the south and west,
endeavouring to reconcile, and bind over to the peace,
the contending kings. In these days the Irish hierarchy
performed, perhaps, their highest part--that of peacemakers
and preachers of good will to men. When in 1132 and '33
the tide had temporarily turned against Thorlogh, and
Conor O'Brien had united Munster, Leinster, and Meath,
against him, the Archbishop of Tuam performed effectually
the office of mediator, preserving not only his own
Province, but the whole country from the most sanguinary
consequences. In the year 1130, the holy Celsus had
rested from his labours, and Malachy, the illustrious
friend of St. Bernard, was nominated as his successor.
At the time he was absent in Munster, as the Vicar of
the aged Primate, engaged in a mission of peace, when
the crozier and the dying message of his predecessor were
delivered to him. He returned to Armagh, where he found
that Maurice, son of Donald, had been intruded as Archbishop
in the _interim_, to this city peace, order, and unity,
were not even partially restored, until two years
later--A.D., 1132.

The reign of Thorlogh O'Conor over Leath Mogha, or as
Ard-Righ "with opposition," is dated by the best authorities
from the year 1136. He was then in his forty-eighth year,
and had been chief of his tribe from the early age of
eighteen. He afterwards reigned for twenty years, and
as those years, and the early career of his son Roderick
are full of instruction, in reference to the events which
follow, we must relate them somewhat in detail. We again
beg the reader to observe the consequences of the
destruction of the federal bond among the Irish; how
every province has found an ambitious dynasty of its own,
which each contends shall be supreme; how the ambition
of the great families grows insatiable as the ancient
rights and customs decay; how the law of Patrick enacted
in the fifth century is no longer quoted or regarded;
how the law of the strong hand alone decides the quarrel
of these proud, unyielding Princes.



The successful ambition of Thorlogh O'Conor had thus
added, as we have seen in the last chapter, a fifth
dynasty to the number of competitors for the sovereignty.
And if great energy and various talents could alone
entitle a chief to rule over his country, this Prince
well merited the obedience of his cotemporaries. He is
the first of the latter kings who maintained a regular
fleet at sea; at one time we find these Connaught galleys
doing service on the coast of Cork, at another co-operating
with his land forces, in the harbour of Derry. The year
of his greatest power was the fifteenth of his reign
(A.D. 1151), when his most signal success was obtained
over his most formidable antagonists. Thorlogh O'Brien,
King of Munster, successor to Conor of the fortresses,
had on foot, in that year, an army of three battalions
(or _caths_), each battalion consisting of 3,000 men,
with which force he overawed some, and compelled others
of the southern chiefs to withdraw their homage from his
western namesake. The latter, uniting to his own the
forces of Meath, and those of Leinster, recently reconciled
to his supremacy, marched southward, and, encamping at
Glanmire, received the adhesion of such Eugenian families
as still struggled with desperation against the ascendency
of the O'Briens. With these forces he encountered, at
Moanmore, the army of the south, and defeated them, with
the enormous loss of 7,000 men--a slaughter unparalleled
throughout the war of succession. Every leading house in
North Munster mourned the loss of either its chief or
its tanist; some great families lost three, five, or
seven brothers on that sanguinary day. The household of
Kinkora was left without an heir, and many a near kinsman's
seat was vacant in its hospitable hall. The O'Brien
himself was banished into Ulster, where, from Murkertach,
Prince of Aileach, he received the hospitality due to
his rank and his misfortunes, not without an ulterior
politic view on the part of the Ulster Prince. In this
battle of Moanmore, Dermid McMurrogh, King of Leinster,
of whom we shall hear hereafter, fought gallantly on the
side of the victor. In the same year--but whether before
or after the Munster campaign is uncertain--an Ulster
force having marched into Sligo, Thorlogh met them near
the Curlew mountains, and made peace with their king. A
still more important interview took place the next year
in the plain, or _Moy_, between the rivers Erne and
Drowse, near the present Ballyshannon. On the _Bachall-Isa_
and the relics of Columbkill, Thorlogh and Murkertach
made a solemn peace, which is thought to have included
the recognition of O'Conor's supremacy. A third meeting
was had during the summer in Meath, where were present,
beside the Ard-Righ, the Prince of Aileach, Dermid of
Leinster, and other chiefs and nobles. At this conference
they divided Meath into east and west, between two branches
of the family of Melaghlin. Part of Longford and South
Leitrim were taken from Tiernan O'Ruarc, lord of Breffni,
and an angle of Meath, including Athboy and the hill of
Ward, was given him instead. Earlier in the same year,
King Thorlogh had divided Munster into three parts, giving
Desmond to MacCarthy, Ormond to Thaddeus O'Brien, who
had fought under him at Moanmore, and leaving the remainder
to the O'Brien, who had only two short years before
competed with him for the sovereignty. By these subdivisions
the politic monarch expected to weaken to a great degree
the power of the rival families of Meath and Munster.
It was an arbitrary policy which could originate only on
the field of battle, and could be enforced only by the
sanction of victory. Thorlogh O'Brien, once King of all
Munster, refused to accept a mere third, and carrying
away his jewels and valuables, including the drinking
horn of the great Brian, he threw himself again on the
protection of Murkertach of Aileach. The elder branch
of the family of O'Melaghlin were equally indisposed to
accept half of Meath, where they had claimed the whole
from the Shannon to the sea. To complicate still more
this tangled web, Dermid, King of Leinster, about the
same time (A.D. 1153), eloped with Dervorgoil, wife of
O'Ruarc of Breffni, and daughter of O'Melaghlin, who both
appealed to the monarch for vengeance on the ravager. Up
to this date Dermid had acted as a steadfast ally of
O'Conor, but when compelled by the presence of a powerful
force on his borders to restore the captive, or partner
of his guilt, he conceived an enmity for the aged king,
which he extended, with increased virulence, to his son
and successor.

What degree of personal criminality to attach to this
elopement it is hard to say. The cavalier in the case
was on the wintry side of fifty, while the lady had
reached the mature age of forty-four. Such examples have
been, where the passions of youth, surviving the period
most subject to their influence, have broken out with
renewed frenzy on the confines of old age. Whether the
flight of Dermid and Dervorgoil arose from a mere criminal
passion, is not laid down with certainty in the old
Annals, though national and local tradition strongly
point to that conclusion. The Four Masters indeed state
that after the restoration of the lady she "returned to
O'Ruarc," another point wanting confirmation. We know
that she soon afterwards retired to the shelter of
Mellifont Abbey, where she ended her days towards the
close of the century, in penitence and alms-deeds.

Murtogh of Aileach now became master of the situation.
Thorlogh was old and could not last long; Dermid of
Leinster was for ever estranged from him; the new arbitrary
divisions, though made with the general consent, satisfied
no one. With a powerful force he marched southward,
restored to the elder branch of the O'Melaghlins the
whole of Meath, defeated Thaddeus O'Brien, obliterated
Ormond from the map, restored the old bounds of Thomond
and Desmond, and placed his guest, the banished O'Brien,
on the throne of Cashel. A hostile force, under Roderick
O'Conor, was routed, and retreated to their own territory.
The next year (A.D. 1154) was signalized by a fierce
naval engagement between the galleys of King Thorlogh
and those of Murtogh, on the coast of Innishowen. The
latter, recruited by vessels hired from the Gael and
Galls of Cantire, the Arran Isles, and Man, were under
the command of MacScellig; the Connaught fleet was led
by O'Malley and O'Dowda. The engagement, which lasted
from the morning till the evening, ended in the repulse
of the Connaught fleet, and the death of O'Dowda. The
occurrence is remarkable as the first general sea-fight
between vessels in the service of native Princes, and as
reminding us forcibly of the lessons acquired by the
Irish during the Danish period.

During the two years of life--which remained to King
Thorlogh O'Conor, he had the affliction of seeing the
fabric of power, which had taken him nearly half a century
to construct, abridged at many points, by his more vigorous
northern rival. Murtogh gave law to territories far
south of the ancient _esker_. He took hostages from the
Danes of Dublin, and interposed in the affairs of Munster.
In the year 1156, the closing incidents which signalized
the life of Thorlogh More, was a new peace which he made
between the people of Breffni, Meath, and Connaught, and
the reception of hostages from his old opponent, the
restored O'Brien. While this new light of prosperity was
shining on his house, he passed away from this life, on
the 13th of the Kalends of June, in the 68th year of his
age, and the 50th of his government. By his last will he
bequeathed to the clergy numerous legacies, which are
thus enumerated by Geoffrey Keating: "namely, four hundred
and forty ounces of gold, and forty marks of silver; and
all the other valuable treasures he possessed, both cups
and precious stones, both steeds and cattle and robes,
chess-boards, bows, quivers, arrows, equipments, weapons,
armour, and utensils." He was interred beside the high
altar of the Cathedral of Clonmacnoise, to which he had
been in life and in death a munificent benefactor.

The Prince of Aileach now assumed the title of Monarch,
and after some short-lived opposition from Roderick
O'Conor, his sovereignty was universally acknowledged.
From the year 1161 until his death, he might fairly be
called Ard-Righ, without opposition, since the hostages
of all Ireland were in those last five years in his hands.
These hostages were retained at the chief seat of power
of the northern dynasty, the fortress of Aileach, which
crowns a hill nearly a thousand feet high, at the head
of Lough Swilly. To this stronghold the ancestor of
Murtogh had removed early in the Danish period, from the
more exposed and more ancient Emania, beside Armagh. On
that hill-summit the ruins of Aileach may still be traced,
with its inner wall twelve feet thick, and its three
concentric ramparts, the first enclosing one acre, the
second four, and the last five acres. By what remains we
can still judge of the strength of the stronghold which
watched over the waters of Lough Swilly like a sentinel
on an outpost. No Prince of the Northern Hy-Nial had
for two centuries entered Aileach in such triumph or with
so many nobles in his train, as did Murtogh in the year
1161, But whether the supreme power wrought a change for
the worse in his early character, or that the lords of
Ulster had begun to consider the line of Conn as equals
rather than sovereigns, he was soon involved in quarrels
with his own Provincial suffragans which ended in his
defeat and death. Most other kings of whom we have read
found their difficulties in rival dynasties and provincial
prejudices; but this ruler, when most freely acknowledged
abroad, was disobeyed and defeated at home. Having taken
prisoner the lord of Ulidia (Down), with whom he had
previously made a solemn peace, he ordered his eyes to
be put out, and three of his principal relatives to be
executed. This and other arbitrary acts so roused the
lords of Leath Conn, that they formed a league against
him, at the head of which stood Donogh O'Carroll, lord
of Oriel, the next neighbour to the cruelly ill-treated
chief of Ulidia. In the year 1166, this chief, with
certain tribes of Tyrone and North Leitrim, to the number
of three battalions (9,000 men), attacked the patrimony
of the monarch--that last menace and disgrace to an Irish
king. Murtogh with his usual valour, but not his usual
fortune, encountered them in the district of the Fews,
with an Inferior force, chiefly his own tribesmen. Even
these deserted him on the eve of the battle, so that he
was easily surprised and slain, only thirteen men falling
in the affray. This action, of course, is unworthy the
name of a battle, but resulting in the death of the
monarch, it became of high political importance.

Roderick O'Conor, son of Thorlogh More, was at this period
in the tenth year of his reign over Connaught, and the
fiftieth year of his age. Rathcrogan, the chief seat of
his jurisdiction, had just attained to the summit of its
glory. The site of this now almost forgotten palace is
traceable in the parish of Elphin, within three miles of
the modern village of Tulsk. Many objects contributed to
its interest and importance in Milesian times. There were
the _Naasteaghna_, or place of assembly of the clans of
Connaught, "the Sacred Cave," which in the Druidic era
was supposed to be the residence of a god, and the _Relig
na Righ_-the venerable cemetery of the Pagan kings of
the West, where still the red pillar stone stood over
the grave of Dathy, and many another ancient tomb could
be as clearly distinguished. The relative importance of
Rathcrogan we may estimate by the more detailed descriptions
of the extent and income of its rivals--Kinkora and
Aileach. In an age when Roscommon alone contained 470
fortified _duns_, over all which the royal rath presided;
when half the tributes of the island were counted at its
gate, it must have been the frequent _rendezvous_ of
armies, the home of many guests, the busy focus of
intrigue, and the very elysium of bards, story-tellers,
and mendicants. In an after generation, Cathal, the
red-handed O'Conor, from some motive of policy or pleasure,
transferred the seat of government to the newly-founded
Ballintober: in the lifetime of Thorlogh More, and the
first years of Roderick, when the fortunes of the O'Conors
were at their full, Rathcrogan was the co-equal in strength
and in splendour of Aileach and Kinkora.

Advancing directly from this family seat, on the first
tidings of Murtogh's death, Roderick presented himself
before the walls of Dublin, which opened its gates,
accepted his stipend of four thousand head of cattle,
and placed hostages for its fidelity in his hands. He
next marched rapidly to Drogheda, with an auxiliary force
of Dublin Danes, and there O'Carroll, lord of Oriel
(Louth), came into his camp, and rendered him homage.
Retracing his steps he entered Leinster, with an augmented
force, and demanded hostages from Dermid McMurrogh.
Thirteen years had passed since his father had taken up
arms to avenge the rape of Dervorgoil, and had earned
the deadly hatred of the abductor. That hatred, in the
interim, had suffered no decrease, and sooner than submit
to Roderick, the ravager burned his own city of Ferns to
the ground, and retreated into his fastnesses. Roderick
proceeded southward, obtained the adhesion of Ossory and
Munster; confirming Desmond to McCarthy, and Thomond to
O'Brien. Returning to Leinster, he found that Tiernan
O'Ruarc had entered the province, at the head of an
auxiliary army, and Dermid, thus surrounded, deserted by
most of his own followers, outwitted and overmatched,
was feign to seek safety in flight beyond seas (A.D.
1168). A solemn sentence of banishment was publicly
pronounced against him by the assembled Princes, and
Morrogh, his cousin, commonly called Morrogh _na Gael_,
or "of the Irish," to distinguish him from Dermid _na
Gall_, or "of the Stranger," was inaugurated in his stead.
From Morrogh _na Gael_ they took seventeen hostages, and
so Roderick returned rejoicing to Rathcrogan, and O'Ruarc
to Breffni, each vainly imagining that he had heard the
last of the dissolute and detested King of Leinster.



At the end of the eighth century, before entering on the
Norwegian and Danish wars, we cast a backward glance on
the Christian ages over which we had passed; and now
again we have arrived at the close of an era, when a
rapid retrospect of the religious and social condition
of the country requires to be taken.

The disorganization of the ancient Celtic constitution
has already been sufficiently described. The rise of the
great families, and their struggles for supremacy, have
also been briefly sketched. The substitution of the clan
for the race, of pedigree for patriotism, has been
exhibited to the reader. We have now to turn to the inner
life of the people, and to ascertain what substitutes
they found in their religious and social condition, for
the absence of a fixed constitutional system, and the
strength and stability which such a system confers.

The followers of Odin, though they made no proselytes to
their horrid creed among the children of St. Patrick,
succeeded in inflicting many fatal wounds on the Irish
Church. The schools, monasteries, and nunneries, situated
on harbours or rivers, or within a convenient march of
the coast, were their first objects of attack; teachers
and pupils were dispersed, or, if taken, put to death,
or, escaping, were driven to resort to arms in self-defence.
Bishops could no longer reside in their sees, nor anchorites
in their cells, unless they invited martyrdom; a fact
which may, perhaps, in some degree account for the large
number of Irish ecclesiastics, many of them in episcopal
orders, who are found, in the ninth century, in Gaul arid
Germany, at Rheims, Mentz, Ratisbon, Fulda, Cologne, and
other places, already Christian. But it was not in the
banishment of masters, the destruction of libraries and
school buildings, the worst consequences of the Gentile
war were felt. Their ferocity provoked retaliation in
kind, and effaced, first among the military class, and
gradually from among all others, that growing gentleness
of manners and clemency of temper, which we can trace in
such princes as Nial of the Showers and Nial of Callan.
"A change in the national spirit is the greatest of all
revolutions;" and this change the Danish and Norwegian
wars had wrought, in two centuries, among the Irish.

The number of Bishops in the early Irish Church was
greatly in excess of the number of modern dioceses. From
the eighth to the twelfth century we hear frequently of
_Episcopi Vagantes_, or itinerant, and _Episcopi Vacantes_,
or unbeneficed Bishops; the Provincial Synods of England
and Gaul frequently had to complain of the influx of such
Bishops into their country. At the Synod held near the
Hill of Usny, in the year 1111, fifty Bishops attended,
and at the Synod of Rath-Brazil, seven years later,
according to Keating, but twenty-five were present. To
this period, then, when Celsus was Primate and Legate of
the Holy See, we may attribute the first attempted
reduction of the Episcopal body to something like its
modern number; but so far was this salutary restriction
from being universally observed that, at the Synod of
Kells (A.D. 1152), the hierarchy had again risen to
thirty-four, exclusive of the four Archbishops. Three
hundred priests, and three thousand ecclesiastics are
given as the number present at the first-mentioned Synod.

The religious orders, probably represented by the above
proportion of three thousand ecclesiastics to three
hundred [secular] priests had also undergone a remarkable
revolution. The rule of all the early Irish monasteries
and convents was framed upon an original constitution,
which St. Patrick had obtained in France from St. Martin
of Tours, who in turn had copied after the monachism of
Egypt and the East. It is called by ecclesiastical writers
the Columban rule, and was more rigid in some particulars
than the rule of St. Benedict, by which it was afterwards
supplanted. Amongst other restrictions it prohibited the
admission of all unprofessed persons within the precincts
of the monastery--a law as regards females incorporated
in the Benedictine constitution; and it strictly enjoined
silence on the professed--a discipline revived by the
brethren of La Trappe. The primary difference between
the two orders lay perhaps in this, that the Benedictine
made study and the cultivation of the intellect subordinate
to manual labour and implicit obedience, while the Columban
Order attached more importance to the acquisition of
knowledge and missionary enterprise. Not that this was
their invariable, but only their peculiar characteristic:
a deep-seated love of seclusion and meditation often,
intermingled with this fearless and experimental zeal.
It was not to be expected in a century like the ninth,
especially when the Benedictine Order was overspreading
the West, that its milder spirit should not act upon the
spirit of the Columban rule. It was, in effect, more
social, and less scientific, more a wisdom to be acted
than to be taught. Armed with the syllogism, the Columbites
issued out of their remote island, carrying their strongly
marked personality into every controversy and every
correspondence. In Germany and Gaul, their system blazed
up in Virgilius, in Erigena, and Macarius, and then
disappeared in the calmer, slower, but safer march of
the Benedictine discipline. By a reform of the same
ancient order, its last hold on native soil was loosened
when, under the auspices of St. Malachy, the Cistercian
rule was introduced into Ireland the very year of his
first visit to Clairvaux (A.D. 1139). St. Mary's Abbey,
Dublin, was the first to adopt that rule, and the great
monastery of Mellifont, placed under the charge of the
brother of the Primate, sprung up in Meath, three years
later. The Abbeys of Bective, Boyle, Baltinglass, and
Monasternenagh, date from the year of Malachy's second
journey to Rome, and death at Clairvaux--A.D. 1148.
Before the end of the century, the rule was established
at Fermoy, Holycross, and Odorney; at Athlone and Knockmoy;
at Newry and Assaroe, and in almost every tribe-land of
Meath and Leinster. It is usually but erroneously supposed
that the Cistercian rule came in with the Normans; for
although many houses owed their foundation to that race,
the order itself had been naturalized in Ireland a
generation before the first landing of the formidable
allies of Dermid on the coast of Wexford. The ancient
native order had apparently fulfilled its mission, and
long rudely lopped and shaken by civil commotions and
Pagan war, it was prepared to give place to a new and
more vigorous organization of kindred holiness and energy.

As the horrors of war disturbed continually the clergy
from their sacred calling, and led many of them, even
Abbots and Bishops, to take up arms, so the yoke of
religion gradually loosened and dropped from the necks
of the people. The awe of the eighth century for a Priest
or Bishop had already disappeared in the tenth, when
Christian hands were found to decapitate Cormac of Cashel,
and offer his head as a trophy to the Ard-Righ. In the
twelfth century the Archbishop and Bishops of Connaught,
bound to the Synod of Trim, were fallen upon by the Kern
of Carbre the Swift, before they could cross the Shannon,
their people beaten and dispersed and two of them killed.
In the time of Thorlogh More O'Conor, a similar outrage
was offered by Tiernan O'Ruarc to the Archbishop of
Armagh, and one of his ecclesiastics was killed in the
assault. Not only for the persons of ministers of religion
had the ancient awe and reverence disappeared, but even
for the sacred precincts of the Sanctuary. In the second
century of the war with the Northmen we begin to hear of
churches and cloisters plundered by native chiefs, who
yet called themselves Christians, though in every such
instance our annalists are careful to record the vengeance
of Heaven following swift on sacrilege. Clonmacnoise,
Kildare, and Lismore, were more than once rifled of their
wealth by impious hands, and given over to desolation
and burning by so-called Christian nobles and soldiers!
It is some mitigation of the dreadful record thus presented
to be informed--as we often are--especially in the annals
of the twelfth century, that the treasures so pillaged
were not the shrines of saints nor the sacred ornaments
of the altar, but the temporal wealth of temporal
proprietors, laid up in churches as places of greatest

The estates of the Church were, in most instances, farmed
by laymen, called _Erenachs_, who, in the relaxation of
all discipline, seem to have gradually appropriated the
lands to themselves, leaving to the Clergy and Bishops
only periodical dues and the actual enclosure of the
Church. This office of Erenach was hereditary, and must
have presented many strong temptations to its occupants.
It is indeed certain that the Irish Church was originally
founded on the broadest voluntaryism, and that such was
the spirit of all its most illustrious fathers. "Content
with food and raiment," says an ancient Canon attributed
to St. Patrick, "reject the gifts of the wicked beside,
seeing that the lamb takes only that with which it is
fed." Such, to the letter, was the maxim which guided
the conduct of Colman and his brethren, of whom Bede
makes such honourable mention, in the third century after
the preaching of St. Patrick. But the munificence of
tribes and Princes was not to be restrained, and to
obviate any violation of the revered canons of the apostle,
laymen, as treasurers and stewards over the endowments
of the Church, were early appointed. As those possessions
increased, the desire of family aggrandizement proved
too much for the Erenachs not only of Armagh, but of most
other sees, and left the clergy as practically dependent
on free-will offerings, as if their Cathedrals or Convents
had never been endowed with an acre, a mill, a ferry, or
a fishery. The free offerings were, however, always
generous, and sometimes munificent. When Celsus, on his
elevation to the Primacy, made a tour of the southern
half-kingdom, he received "seven cows and seven sheep,
and half an ounce of silver from every cantred [hundred]
in Munster." The bequests were also a fruitful source of
revenue to the principal foundations; of the munificence
of the monarchs we may form some opinion by what has been
already recorded of the gifts left to churches by Thorlogh
More O'Conor.

The power of the clerical order, in these ages of Pagan
warfare, had very far declined from what it was, when
Adamnan caused the law to be enacted to prevent women
going to battle, when Moling obtained the abolition of
the Leinster tribute, and Columbkill the recognition of
Scottish independence. Truces made in the presence of
the highest dignitaries, and sworn to on the most sacred
relics, were frequently violated, and often with impunity.
Neither excommunication nor public penance were latterly
inflicted as an atonement for such perjury: a fine or
offering to the Church was the easy and only mulct on
the offender. When we see the safeguard of the Bishop of
Cork so flagrantly disregarded by the assassins of Mahon,
son of Kennedy, and the solemn peace of the year 1094 so
readily broken by two such men as the Princes of the
North and the South, we need no other proofs of the
decadence of the spiritual authority in that age of Irish

And the morals of private life tell the same sad tale.
The facility with which the marriage tie was contracted
and dissolved is the strongest evidence of this degeneracy.
The worst examples were set in the highest stations, for
it is no uncommon incident, from the ninth century
downwards, to find our Princes with more than one wife
living, and the repudiated wife married again to a person
of equal or superior rank. We have the authority of Saint
Anselm and Saint Bernard, for the existence of grave
scandal and irregularities of life among the clergy, and
we can well believe that it needed a generation of Bishops,
with all the authority and all the courage of Saint
Celsus, Saint Malachy, and Saint Lawrence, to rescue from
ruin a Priesthood and a people, so far fallen from the
bright example of their ancestors. That the reaction
towards a better life had strongly set in, under their
guidance, we may infer from the horror with which, in
the third quarter of the twelfth century, the elopement
of Dermid and Dervorgoil was regarded by both Princes
and People. A hundred years earlier, that event would
have been hardly noticed in the general disregard of the
marriage tie, but the frequent Synods, and the holy lives
of the reforming Bishops, had already revived the zeal
that precedes and ensures reformation.

Primate Malachy died at Clairvaulx, in the arms of Saint
Bernard, in the year 1148, after having been fourteen
years Archbishop of Armagh and ten years Bishop of Down
and Conor. His episcopal life, therefore, embraced the
history of that remarkable second quarter of the century,
in which the religious reaction fought its first battles
against the worst abuses. The attention of Saint Bernard,
whose eyes nothing escaped, from Jerusalem to the farthest
west, was drawn ten years before to the Isle of Saints,
now, in truth, become an Isle of Sinners. The death of
his friend, the Irish Primate, under his own roof, gave
him a fitting occasion for raising his accusing voice--a
voice that thrilled the Alps and filled the Vatican--against
the fearful degeneracy of that once fruitful mother of
holy men and women. The attention of Rome was thoroughly
aroused, and immediately after the appearance of the Life
of Saint Malachy, Pope Eugenius III.--himself a monk of
Clairvaulx--despatched Cardinal Papiron, with legantine
powers, to correct abuses, and establish a stricter
discipline. After a tour of great part of the Island,
the Legate, with whom was associated Gilla-Criost, or
Christianus, Bishop of Lismore, called the great Synod
of Kells, early in the year after his arrival (March,
1152), at which simony, usury, concubinage, and other
abuses, were formally condemned, and tithes were first
decreed to be paid to the secular clergy. Two new
Archbishoprics, Dublin and Tuam, were added to Armagh
and Cashel, though not without decided opposition from
the Primates both of Leath Mogha and Leath Conn, backed
by those stern conservatives of every national usage,
the Abbots of the Columban Order. The _pallium_, or Roman
cape, was, by this Legate, presented to each of the
Archbishops, and a closer conformity with the Roman ritual
was enacted. The four ecclesiastical Provinces thus
created were in outline nearly identical with the four
modern Provinces. Armagh was declared the metropolitan
over all; Dublin, which had been a mere Danish borough-see,
gained most in rank and influence by the new arrangement,
as Glendalough, Ferns, Ossory, Kildare and Leighlin, were
declared subject to its presidency.

We must always bear in mind the picture drawn of the
Irish Church by the inspired orator of Clairvaulx, when
judging of the conduct of Pope Adrian IV., who, in the
year 1155--the second of his Pontificate--granted to King
Henry II. of England, then newly crowned, his Bull
authorising the invasion of Ireland. The authenticity of
that Bull is now universally admitted; and both its
preamble and conditions show how strictly it was framed
in accordance with St. Bernard's accusation. It sets
forth that for the eradication of vice, the implanting
of virtue, and the spread of the true faith, the Holy
Father solemnly sanctions the projected invasion; and it
attaches as a condition, the payment of Peter's pence,
for every house in Ireland. The bearer of the Bull, John
of Salisbury, carried back from Rome a gold ring, set
with an emerald stone, as a token of Adrian's friendship,
or it may be, his subinfeudation of Henry. As a title,
however powerless in modern times such a Bull might prove,
it was a formidable weapon of invasion with a Catholic
people, in the twelfth century. We have mainly referred
to it here, however, as an illustration of how entirely
St. Bernard's impeachment of the Irish Church and nation
was believed at Rome, even after the salutary decrees of
the Synod of Kells had been promulgated.

The restoration of religion, which was making such rapid
progress previous to the Norman invasion, was accompanied
by a relative revival of learning. The dark ages of
Ireland are not those of the rest of Europe--they extend
from the middle of the ninth century to the age of Brian
and Malachy II. This darkness came from the North, and
cleared away rapidly after the eventful day of Clontarf.
The first and most natural direction which the revival
took was historical investigation, and the composition
of Annals. Of these invaluable records, the two of highest
reputation are those of Tigernach (Tiernan) O'Broin,
brought down to the year of his own death, A.D. 1088,
and the chronicle of Marianus Scotus, who died at Mentz,
A.D. 1086. Tiernan was abbot of Clonmacnoise, and Marian
is thought to have been a monk of that monastery, as he
speaks of a superior called Tigernach, under whom he had
lived in Ireland. Both these learned men quote accurately
the works of foreign writers; both give the dates of
eclipses, in connection with historical events for several
centuries before their own time; both show a familiarity
with Greek and Latin authors. _Marianus_ is the first
writer by whom the name _Scotia Minor_ was given to the
Gaelic settlement in Caledonia, and his chronicle was an
authority mainly relied on in the disputed Scottish
succession in the time of Edward I. of England. With
_Tigernach_, he may be considered the founder of the
school of Irish Annalists, which flourished in the shelter
of the great monasteries, such as Innisfallen, Boyle and
Multifernan; and culminated in the great compilation made
by "the Four Masters" in the Abbey of Donegal.

Of the Gaelic metrical chroniclers, Flann of the Monastery,
and Gilla-Coeman; of the Bards McLiag and McCoisse; of
the learned professors and lectors of Lismore and
Armagh--now restored for a season to studious days and
peaceful nights, we must be content with the mention of
their names. Of Lismore, after its restoration, an old
British writer has left us this pleasant and happy picture.
"It is," he says, "a famous and holy city, half of which
is an asylum, into which no woman dares enter; but it is
full of cells and monasteries; and religious men in great
abundance abide there."

Such was the promise of better days, which cheered the
hopes of the Pastors of the Irish, when the twelfth
century had entered on its third quarter. The pious old
Gaelic proverb, which says, "on the Cross the face of
Christ was looking westwards--," was again on the lips
and in the hearts of men, and though much remained to be
done, much had been already done, and done under
difficulties greater than any that remained to conquer.



The total population of Ireland, when the Normans first
entered it, can only be approximated by conjecture.
Supposing the whole force with which Roderick and his
allies invested the Normans in Dublin, to be, as stated
by a cotemporary writer, some 50,000 men, and that that
force included one-fourth of all the men of the military
age in the country; and further, supposing the men of
military age to bear the proportion of one-fifth to the
whole number of inhabitants, this would give a total
population of about one million. Even this conjecture is
to be taken with great diffidence and distrust, but, for
the sake of clearness, it is set down as a possible Irish
census, towards the close of the twelfth century.

This population was divided into two great classes, the
_Saer-Clanna_, or free tribes, chiefly, if not exclusively,
of Milesian race; and the _Daer-Clanna_, or unfree tribes,
consisting of the descendants of the subjugated older
races, or of clans once free, reduced to servitude by
the sword, or of the posterity of foreign mercenary
soldiers. Of the free clans, the most illustrious were
those of whose Princes we have traced the record--the
descendants of Nial in Ulster and Meath, of Cathaeir More
in Leinster, of Oliold in Munster, and of Eochaid in
Connaught. An arbitrary division once limited the free
clans to six in the southern half-kingdom, and six in
the north; and the unfree also to six. But Geoffrey
Keating, whose love of truth was quite as strong as his
credulity in ancient legends--and that is saying
much--disclaimed that classification, and collected his
genealogies from principal heads--branching out into
three families of tribes, descended from Eber Finn, one
from Ir, and four from Eremhon, sons of Milesians of
Spain; and ninth tribe sprung from Ith, granduncle to
the sons of Milesius. The principal Eberian families'
names were McCarthy, O'Sullivan, O'Mahony, O'Donovan,
O'Brien, O'Dea, O'Quin, McMahon (of Clare), McNamara,
O'Carroll (of Ely), and O'Gara; the Irian families were
Magennis, O'Farrall, and O'Conor (of Kerry); the posterity
of Eremhon branched out into the O'Neils, O'Donnells,
O'Dohertys, O'Gallahers, O'Boyles, McGeoghegans, O'Conors
(of Connaught), O'Flahertys, O'Heynes, O'Shaughnessys,
O'Clerys, O'Dowdas, McDonalds (of Antrim), O'Kellys,
Maguires, Kavanaghs, Fitzpatricks, O'Dwyers, and O'Conors
(of Offally). The chief families of Ithian origin were
the O'Driscolls, O'Learys, Coffeys, and Clancys. Out of
the greater tribes many subdivisions arose from time to
time, when new names were coined for some intermediate
ancestor; but the farther enumeration of these may be
conveniently dispensed with.

The _Daer-Clanna_, or unfree tribes, have left no history.
Under the despotism of the Milesian kings, it was high
treason to record the actions of the conquered race; so
that the Irish Belgae fared as badly in this respect, at
the hands of the Milesian historians, as the latter fared
in after times from the chroniclers of the Normans. We
only know that such tribes were, and that their numbers
and physical force more than once excited the apprehension
of the children of the conquerors. What proportion they
bore to the _Saer-Clanna_ we have no positive data to
determine. A fourth, a fifth, or a sixth, they may have
been; but one thing is certain, the jealous policy of
the superior race never permitted them to reascend the
plane of equality, from which they had been hurled, at
the very commencement of the Milesian ascendency.

In addition to the enslaved by conquest and the enslaved
by crime, there were also the enslaved by purchase. From
the earliest period, slave dealers from Ireland had
frequented Bristol, the great British slave market, to
purchase human beings. Christian morality, though it may
have mitigated the horrors of this odious traffic, did
not at once lead to its abolition. In vain Saint Wulfstan
preached against it in the South, as Saint Aidan had done
long before him in the North of England. Files of
fair-haired Saxon slaves, of both sexes, yoked together
with ropes, continued to be shipped at Bristol, and
bondmen and bondwomen continued to be articles of
value--exchanged between the Prince and his subordinates,
as stipend or tribute. The King of Cashel alone gave to
the chief of the Eugenians, as part of his annual stipend,
ten bondmen and ten women; to the lord of Bruree, seven
pages and seven bondwomen; to the lord of Deisi, eight
slaves of each sex, and seven female slaves to the lord
of Kerry; among the items which make up the tribute from
Ossory to Cashel are ten bondmen and ten grown women;
and from the Deisi, eight bondmen and eight "brown-haired"
women. The annual exchanges of this description, set down
as due in the Book of Rights, would require the transfer
of several hundreds of slaves yearly, from one set of
masters to another. Cruelties and outrages must have been
inseparable from the system, and we can hardly wonder at
the sweeping decree by which the Synod of Armagh (A.D.
1171) declared all the English slaves in Ireland free to
return to their homes, and anathematized the whole inhuman
traffic. The fathers of that council looked upon the
Norman invasion as a punishment from Heaven on the slave
trade; for they believed in their purity of heart, that
power _is_ transferred from one nation to another, because
of injustices, oppressions, and divers deceits.

The purchased slaves and unfree tribes tilled the soil,
and practised the mechanic arts. Agriculture seems first
to have been lifted into respectability by the Cistercian
Monks, while spinning, weaving, and almost every mechanic
calling, if we except the scribe, the armorer, and the
bell-founder, continued down to very recent tunes to be
held in contempt among the Gael. A brave man is mentioned
as having been a "weaving woman's son," with much the
same emphasis as Jeptha is spoken of as the son of an
Harlot. Mechanic wares were disposed of at those stated
gatherings, which combined popular games, chariot races
for the nobles, and markets for the merchants. A Bard of
the tenth or eleventh century, in a desperate effort to
vary the usual high-flown descriptions of the country,
calls it "Erin of the hundred fair greens,"--a very
graphic, if not a very poetic illustration.

The administration of justice was an hereditary trust,
committed to certain judicial families, who held their
lands, as the Monks did, by virtue of their profession.
When the posterity of the Brehon, or Judge failed, it
was permitted to adopt from the class of students, a male
representative, in whom the judicial authority was
perpetuated: the families of O'Gnive and O'Clery in the
North, of O'Daly in Meath, O'Doran in Leinster, McEgan
in Munster, Mulconry or Conroy in Connaught, were the
most distinguished Brehon houses. Some peculiarities of
the Brehon law, relating to civil succession and
sovereignty, such as the institution of Tanistry, and
the system of stipends and tributes, have been already
explained; parricide and murder were in latter ages
punished with death; homicide and rape by _eric_ or fine.
There were, besides, the laws of gavelkind or division
of property among the members of the clan; laws relating
to boundaries; sumptuary laws regulating the dress of
the various castes into which society was divided; laws
relating to the planting of trees, the trespass of cattle,
and billeting of troops. These laws were either written
in detail, or consisted of certain acknowledged ancient
maxims of which the Brehon made the application in each
particular case, answering to what we call "Judge-made
law." Of such ancient tracts as composed the Celtic code,
an immense number have, fortunately survived, even to
this late day, and we may shortly expect a complete digest
of all that are now known to exist, in a printed and
imperishable form, from the hands of native scholars,
every way competent to the task.

The commerce of the country, in the eleventh and twelfth
centuries, was largely in the hands of the Christian
Hiberno-Danes, of the eastern and southern coast. By them
the slave trade with Bristol was mostly maintained, and
the Irish oak, with which William Rufus roofed Westminster
Abbey, was probably rafted by them in the Thames. The
English and Welsh coasts, at least, were familiar to
their pilots, and they combined, as was usual in that
age, the military with the mercantile character. In 1142,
and again in 1165, a troop of Dublin Danes fought under
Norman banners against the brave Britons of Cambria, and
in the camps of their allies, sung the praises of the
fertile island of the west. The hundred fairs of Erin--
after their conversion and submission to native authority
--afforded them convenient markets for disposing of the
commodities they imported from abroad.

The Gaelic mind, long distracted by the din of war from
the purifying and satisfying influences of a Christian
life, naturally fell back upon the abandoned, half-forgotten
superstitions of the Pagan period. Preceding every fresh
calamity, we hear of signs and wonders, of migratory
lakes disappearing in a night, of birds and wolves speaking
with human voices, of showers of blood falling in the
fields, of a whale with golden teeth stranded at
Carlingford, of cloud ships, with their crews, seen
plainly sailing in the sky. One of the marvels of this
class is thus gravely entered in our Annals, under the
year 1054--"A steeple of fire was seen in the air over
Rossdala, on the Sunday of the festival of St. George,
for the space of five hours; innumerable black birds
passed into and out of it, and one large bird in the
middle of them; and the little birds went under his wings
when they went into the steeple. They came out and raised
up a greyhound that was in the middle of the town aloft
in the air, and let it drop down again, so that it died
immediately; and they took up three cloaks and two shirts,
and let them drop down in the same manner. The wood on
which these birds perched fell under them; and the oak
tree on which they perched shook with its roots in the
earth." In many other superstitions of the same age we
see the latent moral sentiment, as well as the over-excited
imagination of the people. Such is the story of the stolen
jewels of Clonmacnoise, providentially recovered in the
year 1130. The thief in vain endeavoured to escape out
of the country, from Cork, Lismore, and Waterford, "but
no ship into which he entered found a wind to sail, while
all the other ships did." And the conscience stricken
thief declared, in his dying confession, that he used to
see Saint Kieran "stopping with his crozier, every ship
into which he entered." It was also an amiable popular
illusion that abundant harvests followed the making of
peace, the enacting of salutary laws, and the accession
of a King who loved justice; and careful entry is made
in our chronicles of every evidence of this character.

The literature of the masses of the people was pretty
equally composed of the legends of the Saints and the
older Ossianic legend, so much misunderstood and distorted
by modern criticism. The legends of the former class
were chiefly wonders wrought by the favourite Saints of
the district or the island, embellished with many quaint
fancies and tagged out with remnants of old Pagan
superstition. St. Columbkill and St. Kieran were, most
commonly, the heroes of those tales, which, perhaps, were
never intended by their authors to be seriously believed.
Such was the story of the great founder of Iona having
transformed the lady and her maid, who insulted him on
his way to Drom-Keth, into two herons, who are doomed to
hover about the neighbouring ford till the day of doom;
and such that other story of "the three first monks" who
joined St. Kieran in the desert, being a fox, a badger,
and a bear, all endowed with speech, and all acting a
part in the legend true to their own instincts. Of higher
poetic merit is the legend of the voyage of St. Brendan
over the great sea, and how the birds which sung vespers
for him in the groves of the Promised Land were inhabited
by human souls, as yet in a state of probation waiting
for their release!

In the Ossianic legend we have the common stock of Oriental
ideas--the metamorphosis of guilty wives and haughty
concubines into dogs and birds; the speaking beasts and
fishes; the enchanted swans, originally daughters of Lir;
the boar of Ben Bulben, by which the champion, Diarmid,
was slain; the Phoenix in the stork of Inniskea, of which
there never was but one, yet that one perpetually reproduced
itself; the spirits of the wood, and the spirits inhabiting
springs and streams; the fairy horse; the sacred trees;
the starry influences. Monstrous and gigantic human
shapes, like the Jinns of the Arabian tales, occasionally
enter into the plot, and play a midnight part, malignant
to the hopes of good men. At their approach the earth is
troubled, the moon is overcast, gusts of storm are shaken
out from the folds of their garments, the watch dogs and
the war dogs cower down, in camp and rath, and whine
piteously, as if in pain.

The variety of grace, and peculiarities of organization,
with which, if not the original, certainly the Christianized
Irish imagination, endowed and equipped the personages
of the fairy world, were of almost Grecian delicacy.
There is no personage who rises to the sublime height of
Zeus, or the incomparable union of beauty and wisdom in
Pallas Athene: what forms Bel, or Crom, or Bride, the
queen of Celtic song, may have worn to the pre-Christian
ages we know not, nor can know; but the minor creations
of Grecian fancy, with which they peopled their groves
and fountains, are true kindred of the brain, to the
innocent, intelligent, and generally gentle inhabitants
of the Gaelic Fairyland. The _Sidhe_, a tender, tutelary
spirit, attached herself to heroes, accompanied them in
battle, shrouded them with invisibility, dressed their
wounds with more than mortal skill, and watched over them
with more than mortal love; the _Banshee_, a sad,
Cassandra-like spirit, shrieked her weird warning in
advance of death, but with a prejudice eminently Milesian,
watched only over those of pure blood, whether their
fortunes abode in hovel or hall. The more modern and
grotesque personages of the Fairy world are sufficiently
known to render description unnecessary.

Two habitual sources of social enjoyment and occupation
with the Irish of those days were music and chess. The
harp was the favourite instrument, but the horn or trumpet,
and the pibroch or bagpipe, were also in common use. Not
only professional performers, but men and women of all
ranks, from the humblest to the highest, prided themselves
on some knowledge of instrumental music. It seems to have
formed part of the education of every order, and to have
been cherished alike in the palace, the shieling, and
the cloister. "It is a poor church that has no music,"
is a Gaelic proverb, as old, perhaps, as the establishment
of Christianity in the land; and no house was considered
furnished without at least one harp. Students from other
countries, as we learn from _Giraldus_, came to Ireland
for their musical education in the twelfth century, just
as our artists now visit Germany and Italy with the same
object in view.

The frequent mention of the game of chess, in ages long
before those at which we have arrived, shows how usual
was that most intellectual amusement. The chess board
was called in Irish _fithcheall_, and is described in
the Glossary of Cormac, of Cashel, composed towards the
close of the ninth century, as quadrangular, having
straight spots of black and white. Some of them were
inlaid with gold and silver, and adorned with gems.
Mention is made in a tale of the twelfth century of a
"man-bag of woven brass wire." No entire set of the
ancient men is now known to exist, though frequent mention
is made of "the brigade or family of chessmen," in many
old manuscripts. Kings of bone, seated in sculptured
chairs, about two inches in height, have been found, and
specimens of them engraved in recent antiquarian

It only remains to notice, very briefly, the means of
locomotion which bound and brought together this singular
state of society. Five great roads, radiating from Tara,
as a centre, are mentioned in our earliest record; the
road _Dala_ leading to Ossory, and so on into Munster;
the road _Assail_, extending western through Mullingar
towards the Shannon; the road _Cullin_, extending towards
Dublin and Bray; the exact route of the northern road,
_Midhluachra_, is undetermined; _Slighe Mor_, the great
western road, followed the course of the _esker_, or
hill-range, from Tara to Galway. Many cross-roads are
also known as in common use from the sixth century
downwards. Of these, the Four Masters mention, at various
dates, not less than forty, under their different local
names, previous to the Norman invasion. These roads were
kept in repair, according to laws enacted for that purpose,
and were traversed by the chiefs and ecclesiastics in
_carbads_, or chariots; a main road was called a _slighe_
(_sleigh_), because it was made for the free passage of
two chariots--"i.e. the chariot of a King and the chariot
of a Bishop." Persons of that rank were driven by an
_ara_, or charioteer, and, no doubt, made a very imposing
figure. The roads were legally to be repaired at three
seasons, namely, for the accommodation of those going to
the national games, at fair-time, and in time of war.
Weeds and brushwood were to be removed, and water to be
drained off; items of road-work which do not give us a
very high idea of the comfort or finish of those ancient

Such, faintly seen from afar, and roughly sketched, was
domestic life and society among our ancestors, previous
to the Anglo-Norman invasion, in the reign of King Roderick



The relations of the Irish with other nations,
notwithstanding the injurious effects of their War of
Succession on national unity and reputation, present
several points of interest. After the defeat of Magnus
Barefoot, we may drop the Baltic countries out of the
map of the relations of Ireland. Commencing, therefore,
at the north of the neighbouring island--which, in its
entirety, they sometimes called _Inismore_--the most
intimate and friendly intercourse was always upheld with
the kingdom of Scotland. Bound together by early
ecclesiastical and bardic ties, confronting together for
so many generations a common enemy, those two countries
were destined never to know an international quarrel.
About the middle of the ninth century (A.D. 843), when
the Scoto-Irish in Caledonia had completely subdued the
Picts and other ancient tribes, the first national dynasty
was founded by Kenneth McAlpine. The constitution given
by this Prince to the whole country seems to have been
a close copy of the Irish--it embraced the laws of Tanistry
and succession, and the whole Brehon code, as administered
in the parent state. The line of Kenneth may be said to
close with Donald Bane, brother of Malcolm III., who died
in 1094, and not only his dynasty but his system ended
with that century. Edgar, Alexander I., and David I.,
all sons of Malcolm III., were educated in England among
the victorious Normans, and in the first third of the
twelfth century, devoted themselves with the inauspicious
aid of Norman allies, to the introduction of Saxon settlers
and the feudal system, first into the lowlands, and
subsequently into Moray-shire. This innovation on their
ancient system, and confiscation of their lands, was
stoutly resisted by the Scottish Gael. In Somerled, lord
of the Isles, and ancestor of the Macdonalds, they found
a powerful leader, and Somerled found Irish allies always
ready to assist him, in a cause which appealed to all
their national prejudices. In the year 1134, he led a
strong force of Irish and Islesmen to the assistance of
the Gaelic insurgents, but was defeated and slain, near
Renfrew, by the royal troops, under the command of the
Steward of Scotland. During the reigns of William the
Lion, Alexander II., and Alexander III., the war of
systems raged with all its fierceness, and in nearly all
the great encounters Irish auxiliaries, as was to be
expected, were found on the side of the Gaelic race and
Gaelic rights. Nor did this contest ever wholly cease in
Scotland, until the last hopes of the Stuart line were
extinguished on the fatal field of Culloden, where Irish
captains formed the battle, and Irish blood flowed freely,
intermingled with the kindred blood of Highlanders and

The adoption of Norman usages, laws, and tactics, by the
Scottish dynasties of the twelfth and succeeding centuries,
did not permanently affect the national relations of
Ireland and Scotland. It was otherwise with regard to
England. We have every reason to believe--we have the
indirect testimony of every writer from Bede to Malmsbury
--that the intercourse between the Irish and Saxons,
after the first hostility engendered by the cruel treatment
of the Britons had worn away, became of the most friendly
character. The "Irish" who fought at Brunanburgh against
Saxon freedom were evidently the natural allies of the
Northmen, the Dano-Irish of Dublin, and the southern
seaports. The commerce of intelligence between the islands
was long maintained; the royalty of Saxon England had
more than once, in times of domestic revolution, found
a safe and desired retreat in the western island. The
fair Elgiva and the gallant Harold had crossed the western
waves in their hour of need. The fame of Edward the
Confessor took such deep hold on the Irish mind that,
three centuries after his death, his banner was unfurled
and the royal leopards laid aside to facilitate the march
of an English King, through the fastnesses of Leinster.
The Irish, therefore, were not likely to look upon the
establishment of a Norman dynasty, in lieu of the old
Saxon line, as a matter of indifference. They felt that
the Norman was but a Dane disguised in armour. It was
true he carried the cross upon his banner, and claimed
the benediction of the successor of St. Peter; true also
he spoke the speech of France, and claimed a French
paternity; but the lust for dominion, the iron self-will,
the wily devices of strategy, bespoke the Norman of the
twelfth, the lineal descendant of the Dane of the tenth
century. When, therefore, tidings reached Ireland of the
battle of Hastings and the death of Harold, both the
apprehensions and the sympathies of the country were
deeply excited. Intelligence of the coronation of William
the Conqueror quickly followed, and emphatically announced
to the Irish the presence of new neighbours, new dangers,
and new duties.

The spirit with which our ancestors acted towards the
defeated Saxons, whatever we may think of its wisdom,
was, at least, respectable for decision and boldness.
Godwin, Edmund, and Magnus, sons of Harold, had little
difficulty in raising in Ireland a numerous force to
co-operate with the Earls Edwin and Morcar, who still
upheld the Saxon banner. With this force, wafted over in
sixty-six vessels, they entered the Avon, and besieged
Bristol, then the second commercial city of the kingdom.
But Bristol held out, and the Saxon Earls had fallen back
into Northumberland, so the sons of Harold ran down the
coast, and tried their luck in Somersetshire with a better
prospect. Devonshire and Dorsetshire favoured their
cause; the old Britons of Cornwall swelled their ranks,
and the rising spread like flame over the west. Eadnoth,
a renegade Saxon, formerly Harold's Master of Horse,
despatched by William against Harold's sons, was defeated
and slain. Doubling the Land's End, the victorious force
entered the Tamar, and overran South Devon. The united
garrisons of London, Winchester, and Salisbury, were sent
against them, under the command of the martial Bishop of
Coutances; while a second force advanced along the Tamar,
under Brian, heir of the Earl of Brittany, who routed
them with a loss of 2,000 men, English, Welsh, and Irish.
The sons of Harold retreated to their vessels with all
their booty, and returned again into Ireland, where they
vanish from history. Such, in the vale of Tamar, was the
first collision of the Irish and Normans, and as the race
of Rolla never forgot an enemy, nor forewent a revenge,
we may well believe that, even thus early, the invasion
of Ireland was decided upon. Meredith Hanmer relates in
his Chronicle that William Rufus, standing on a high
rock, and looking towards Ireland said: "I will bring
hither my ships, and pass over and conquer that land;"
and on these words of the son of the Conqueror being
repeated to Murkertach O'Brien, he replied: "Hath the
King in his great threatening said _if it please God?_"
and when answered "No;" "Then," said the Irish monarch,
"I fear him not, since he putteth his trust in man and
not in God."

Ireland, however, was destined to be reached through
Wales, and along that mountain coast we early find Norman
castles and Norman ships. It was the special ambition of
William Rufus to add the principality to the conquests
of his father, and the active sympathy of the Welsh with
the Saxons on their inland border gave him pretexts
enough. A bitter feud between North and South Wales
hastened an invasion, in which Robert Fitz-Aymon and his
companions played, by anticipation, the parts of Strongbow
and Fitz-Stephen, in the invasion of Ireland.

The struggle, commenced under them, was protracted through
the reign of Rufus, who led an army in person (A.D.
1095) against the Welsh, but with little gain and less
glory. As an after thought he adopted the device of his
father, (followed, too, in Ireland by Henry II.,) of
partitioning the country among the most enterprising
nobles, gravely accepting their homage in advance of
possession, and authorizing them to maintain troops at
their own charges, for making good his grant of what
never belonged to him. Robert Fitz-Aymon did homage for
Glamorgan, Bernard Newmarch for Brecknock, Roger de
Montgomery for Cardigan, and Gilbert de Clare for Pembroke:
the best portions of North Wales were partitioned between
the Mortimers, Latimers, De Lacys, Fitz-Alans, and
Montgomerys. Rhys, Prince of Cambria, with many of his
nobles, fell in battle defending bravely his native hills;
but Griffith, son of Rhys, escaped into Ireland, from
which he returned some twenty years later, and recovered
by arms and policy a large share of his ancestral dominions.
In the reign of Henry I. (A.D. 1110), a host of Flemings,
driven from their own country by an inundation of the
sea, were planted upon the Welsh marches, from which they
soon swarmed into all the Cambrian glens and glades. The
industry and economy of this new people, in peaceful
times, seemed almost inconsistent with their stubborn
bravery in battle; but they demonstrated to the Welsh,
and afterwards to the Irish, that they could handle the
halbert as well as throw the shuttle; that men of trade
may on occasion prove themselves capable men of war.

The Norman Kings of England were not insensible to the
fact that the Cymric element in Wales, the Saxon element
in England, and the Gaelic element in Scotland, were all
more agreeable to the Irish than the race of Rollo and
William. They were not ignorant that Ireland was a refuge
for their victims and a recruiting ground for their
enemies. They knew, furthermore, that most of the strong
points on the Irish coast, from the Shannon to the Liffey,
were possessed by Christian Northmen kindred to themselves.
They knew that the land was divided within itself, weakened
by a long war of succession; groaning under the ambition
of five competitors for the sovereignty; and suffering
in reputation abroad under the invectives of Saint Bernard,
and the displeasure of Rome. More tempting materials for
intrigue, or fairer opportunities of aggrandizement,
nowhere presented themselves, and it was less want of
will than of leisure from other and nearer contests,
which deferred this new invasion for a century after the
battle of Hastings.

While that century was passing over their heads, an
occasional intercourse, not without its pleasing incidents,
was maintained between the races. In the first year of
the twelfth, Arnulph de Montgomery, Earl of Chester,
obtained a daughter of Murkertach O'Brien in marriage;
the proxy on the occasion being Gerald, son of the
Constable of Windsor, and ancestor of the Geraldines.
Murkertach, according to Malmsbury, maintained a close
correspondence with Henry I., for whose advice he professed
great deference. He was accused of aiding the rebellion
of the Montgomerys against that Prince; and if at one
time he did so, seems to have abandoned their alliance,
when threatened with reprisals on the Irish engaged in
peaceful commerce with England. The argument used on this
occasion seems to be embodied in the question of
Malmsbury--and has since become familiar--"What would
Ireland do," says the old historian, "if the merchandize
of England were not carried to her shores?"

The estimation in which the Irish Princes were held in
the century preceding the invasion, at the Norman Court,
may be seen in the style of Lanfranc and Anselm, when
addressing the former King Thorlogh, and the latter King
Murkertach O'Brien. The first generation of the conquerors
had passed away before the second of these epistles was
written. In the first, the address runs--"Lanfrancus, a
sinner, and the unworthy Bishop of the Holy Church of
Dover, to the illustrious Terdelvacus, King of Ireland,
blessing," &c., &c.; and the epistle of Anselm is
addressed--"To Muriardachus, by the grace of God, glorious
King of Ireland, Anselm, servant of the Church of
Canterbury, greeting health and salvation," &c., &c. This
was the tone of the highest ecclesiastics in England
towards the ruler of Ireland, in the reigns of William I.
and Henry I., and equally obsequious were the replies of
the Irish Princes.

After the death of Henry I., nineteen years of civil war
and anarchy diverted the Anglo-Normans from all other
objects. In the year 1154, however, Henry of Anjou
succeeded to the throne, on which he was destined to act
so important a part. He was born in Anjou in the year
1133, and married at eighteen the divorced wife of the
King of France. Uniting her vast dominions to his own
patrimony, he became the lord of a larger part of France
than was possessed by the titular king. In his twenty-first
year he began to reign in England, and in his thirty-fifth
he received the fugitive Dermid of Leinster, in some camp
or castle of Aquitaine, and took that outlaw, by his own
act, under his protection. The centenary of the victory
of Hastings had just gone by, and it needed only this
additional agent to induce him to put into execution a
plan which he must have formed in the first months of
his reign, since the Bull he had procured from Pope
Adrian, bears the date of that year--1154. The return
from exile, and martyrdom of Beckett, disarranged and
delayed the projects of the English King; nor was he able
to lead an expedition into Ireland until four years after
his reception of the Leinster fugitive in France.

Throughout the rest of Christendom--if we except Rome--
the name of Ireland was comparatively little known. The
commerce of Dublin, Limerick, and Galway, especially in
the article of wine, which was already largely imported,
may have made those ports and their merchants somewhat
known on the coasts of France and Spain. But we have no
statistics of Irish commerce at that early period. Along
the Rhine and even upon the Danube, the Irish missionary
and the Irish schoolmaster were still sometimes found.
The chronicle of Ratisbon records with gratitude the
munificence of Conor O'Brien, King of Munster, whom it
considers the founder of the Abbey of St. Peter in that
city. The records of the same Abbey credit its liberal
founder with having sent large presents to the Emperor
Lothaire, in aid of the second crusade for the recovery
of the Holy Land. Some Irish adventurers joined in the
general European hosting to the plains of Palestine, but
though neither numerous nor distinguished enough to occupy
the page of history, their _glibs_ and _cooluns_ did not
escape the studious eye of him who sang Jerusalem Delivered
and Regained.





The result of Dermid McMurrogh's interview with Henry II.,
in Aquitaine, was a royal letter, addressed to all his
subjects, authorizing such of them as would, to enlist
in the service of the Irish Prince. Armed alone with
this, the expelled adulterer, chafing for restoration
and revenge, retraced his course to England. He was at
this time some years beyond three score, but the snows
of age had no effect in cooling his impetuous blood; his
stature is described as almost gigantic; his voice loud
and harsh; his features stern and terrible. His cruel
and criminal character we already know. Yet it is but
just here to recall that much of the horror and odium
which has accumulated on his memory is posthumous and
retrospective. Some of his cotemporaries were no better
in their private lives than he was; but then they had no
part in bringing in the Normans. Talents both for peace
and war he certainly had, and there was still a feeling
of attachment, or at least of regret, cherished towards
him among the people of his patrimony.

Dermid proceeded at once to seek the help he so sorely
needed, upon the marches of Chester, in the city of
Bristol, and at the court of the Prince of North Wales.
At Bristol he caused King Henry's letter to be publicly
read, and each reading was accompanied by ample promises
of land and recompense to those disposed to join in the
expedition--but all in vain. From Bristol he proceeded
to make the usual pilgrimage to the shrine of St. David,
the Apostle of Wales, and then he visited the Court of
Griffith ap Rhys, Prince of North Wales, whose family
ties formed a true Welsh triad among the Normans, the
Irish, and the Welsh. He was the nephew of the celebrated
Nest or Nesta, the Helen of the Welsh, whose blood flowed
in the veins of almost all the first Norman adventurers
in Ireland, and whose story is too intimately interwoven
with the origin of many of the highest names of the
Norman-Irish to be left untold.

She was, in her day, the loveliest woman of Cambria, and
perhaps of Britain, but the fabled mantle of Tregau,
which, according to her own mythology, will fit none but
the chaste, had not rested on the white shoulders of
Nesta, the daughter of Rhys ap Tudor. Her girlish beauty
had attracted the notice of Henry I., to whom she bore
Robert Fitz-Roy and Henry Fitz-Henry, the former the
famous Earl of Gloucester, and the latter the father of
two of Strongbow's most noted companions. Afterwards,
by consent of her royal paramour, she married Gerald,
constable of Pembroke, by whom she had Maurice Fitzgerald,
the common ancestor of the Kildare and Desmond Geraldines.
While living with Gerald at Pembroke, Owen, son of Cadogan,
Prince of Powis, hearing of her marvellous beauty at a
banquet given by his father at the Castle of Aberteivi,
came by night to Pembroke, surprised the Castle, and
carried off Nesta and her children into Powis. Gerald,
however, had escaped, and by the aid of his father-in-law,
Rhys, recovered his wife and rebuilt his castle (A.D.
1105). The lady survived this husband, and married a
second time, Stephen, constable of Cardigan, by whom she
had Robert Fitzstephen, and probably other children. One
of her daughters, Angharad, married David de Barri, the
father of Giraldus and Robert de Barri; another, named
after herself, married Bernard of Newmarch, and became
the father of the Fitz-Bernard, who accompanied Henry II.
In the second and third generations this fruitful Cambrian
vine, grafted on the Norman stock, had branched out into
the great families of the Carews, Gerards, Fitzwilliams,
and Fitzroys, of England and Wales, and the Geraldines,
Graces, Fitz-Henries, and Fitz-Maurices, of Ireland.
These names will show how entirely the expeditions of
1169 and 1170 were joint-stock undertakings with most of
the adventurers; Cambria, not England, sent them forth;
it was a family compact; they were brothers in blood as
well as in arms, those comely and unscrupulous sons,
nephews, and grand-sons of Nesta!

When the Leinster King reached the residence of Griffith
ap Rhys, near St. David's, he found that for some personal
or political cause he held in prison his near kinsman,
Robert, son of Stephen, who had the reputation of being
a brave and capable knight. Dermid obtained the release
of Robert, on condition of his embarking in the Irish
enterprise, and he found in him an active recruiting
agent, alike among Welsh, Flemings, and Normans. Through
him Maurice Fitzgerald, the de Barris, and Fitz-Henrys,
and their dependents, were soon enlisted in the adventure.
The son of Griffith ap Rhys, who may be mentioned along
with these knights, his kinsmen, and whom the Irish
annalists consider the most important person of the first
expedition--their pillar of battle--also resolved to
accompany them, with such forces as he could enlist.

But a still more important ally waited to treat with
Dermid, on his return to Bristol. This was Richard de
Clare, called variously from his castles or his county,
Earl of Strigul and Chepstow, or Earl of Pembroke. From
the strength of his arms he was nicknamed Strongbow, and
in our Annals he is usually called Earl Richard, by which
title we prefer hereafter to distinguish him. His father,
Gilbert de Clare, was descended from Richard of Normandy,
and stood no farther removed in degree from that Duke
than the reigning Prince. For nearly forty years under
Henry I. and during the stormy reign of King Stephen, he
had been Governor of Pembroke, and like all the great
Barons played his game chiefly to his own advantage. His
castle at Chepstow was one of the strongest in the west,
and the power he bequeathed to his able and ambitious
son excited the apprehensions of the astute and suspicious
Henry II. Fourteen years of this King's reign had passed
away, and Earl Richard had received no great employments,
no new grants of land, no personal favours from his
Sovereign. He was now a widower, past middle age, condemned
to a life of inaction such as no true Norman could long
endure. Arrived at Bristol, he read the letter of Henry,
and heard from Dermid the story of his expulsion and the
grounds on which he vested his hopes of restoration. A
consultation ensued, at which it is probable the sons of
Nesta assisted, as it was there agreed that the town of
Wexford, with two cantreds of land adjoining it, should
be given to them. The pay of the archers and men-at-arms,
and the duration of their service, were also determined.
Large grants of land were guaranteed to all adventurers
of knightly rank, and Earl Richard was to marry the King's
daughter and succeed him in the sovereignty of Leinster.

Having by such lavish promises enlisted this powerful
Earl and those adventurous knights, Dermid resolved to
pass over in person with such followers as were already
equipped, in order to rally the remnant of his adherents.
The Irish Annals enter this return under the year 1167,
within twelvemonths or thereabouts from the time of his
banishment; by their account he came back, accompanied
by a fleet of strangers whom they called Flemings, and
who were probably hired soldiers of that race, then easily
to be met with in Wales. The Welsh Prince already mentioned
seems to have accompanied him personally, as he fell by
his side in a skirmish the following year. Whatever this
force may have amounted to, they landed at Glascarrig
point, and wintered--probably spent the Christmas--at
Ferns. The more generally received account of Dermid's
landing alone, and disguised, and secretly preparing his
plans, under shelter of the Austin Friary at Ferns, must
be rejected, if we are still to follow those trite but
trustworthy guides, whom we have so many reasons to
confide in. The details differ in many very important
particulars from those usually received, as we shall
endeavour to make clear in a few words.

Not only do they bring Dermid over with a fleet of
Flemings, of whom the natives made "small account," but
dating that event before the expiration of the year 1167,
at least sixteen months must have elapsed between the
return of the outlaw and the arrival of the Normans. By
allowing two years instead of one for the duration of
his banishment, the apparent difficulty as to time would
be obviated, for his return and Fitzstephen's arrival
would follow upon each other in the spring and winter of
the same year. The difficulty, however, is more apparent
than real. A year sufficed for the journey to Aquitaine
and the Welsh negotiations. Another year seems to have
been devoted with equal art and success to resuscitating
a native Leinster party favourable to his restoration.
For it is evident from our Annals that when Dermid showed
himself to the people after his return, it was simply to
claim his patrimony--Hy-Kinsellagh--and not to dispute
the Kingdom of Leinster with the actual ruler, _Murrogh
na Gael_. By this pretended moderation and humility, he
disarmed hostility and lulled suspicion asleep. Roderick
and O'Ruarc did indeed muster a host against him, and
some of their cavalry and Kernes skirmished with the
troops in his service at Kellistown, in Carlow, when six
were killed on one side and twenty-five on the other,
including the Welsh Prince already mentioned; afterwards
Dermid emerged from his fastnesses, and entering the camp
of O'Conor, gave him seven hostages for the ten cantreds
of his patrimony; and to O'Ruarc he gave "one hundred
ounces of gold for his _eineach_"--that is, as damages
for his criminal conversation with Devorgoil. During the
remainder of the year 1168, Dermid was left to enjoy
unmolested the moderate territory which he claimed, while
King Roderick was engaged in enforcing his claims on the
North and South, founding lectorships at Armagh, and
partitioning Meath between his inseparable colleague,
O'Ruarc, and himself. He celebrated, in the midst of an
immense multitude, the ancient national games at Tailtin,
he held an assembly at Tara, and distributed magnificent
gifts to his suffragans. Roderick might have spent the
festival of Christmas, 1168, or of Easter, 1169, in the
full assurance that his power was firmly established,
and that a long succession of peaceful days were about
to dawn upon Erin. But he was destined to be soon and
sadly undeceived.

In the month of May, a little fleet of Welsh vessels,
filled with armed men, approached the Irish shore, and
Robert Fitzstephen ran into a creek of the bay of Bannow,
called by the adventurers, from the names of two of their
ships, Bag-and-Bun. Fitzstephen had with him thirty
knights, sixty esquires, and three hundred footmen. The
next day he was joined by Maurice de Prendergast, a Welsh
gentleman, with ten knights and sixty archers. After
landing they reconnoitred cautiously, but saw neither
ally nor enemy--the immediate coast seemed entirely
deserted. Their messenger despatched to Dermid, then
probably at Ferns, in the northern extremity of the
county, must have been absent several anxious days, when,
much to their relief, he returned with Donald, the son
of Dermid, at the head of 500 horsemen. Uniting their
troops, Donald and Fitzstephen set out for Wexford, about
a day's march distant, and the principal town in that
angle of the island which points towards Wales. The
tradition of the neighbourhood says they were assailed
upon the way by a party of the native population, who
were defeated and dispersed. Within ten days or a
fortnight of their landing, they were drawn up within
sight of the walls of Wexford, where they were joined by
Dermid, who obviously did not come unattended to such a
meeting. What additional force he may have brought up is
nowhere indicated; that he was not without followers or
mercenaries, we know from the mention of the Flemings in
his service, and the action of Kellistown in the previous
year. The force that had marched from Bannow consisted,
as we have seen, of 500 Irish horse under his son Donald,
surnamed _Kavanagh_; 30 knights, 60 esquires, and 300
men-at-arms under Fitzstephen; 10 knights and 60 archers
under Prendergast; in all, nobles or servitors, not
exceeding 1,000 men. The town, a place of considerable
strength, could muster 2,000 men capable of bearing arms,
nor is it discreditable to its Dano-Irish artizans and
seamen that they could boast no captain equal to Fitzstephen
or Donald Kavanagh. What a town multitude could do they
did. They burned down an exposed suburb, closed their
gates, and manned their walls. The first assault was
repulsed with some loss on the part of the assailants,
and the night past in expectation of a similar conflict
on the morrow. In the early morning the townsmen could
discern that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was being
offered in the camp of their besiegers as a preparative
for the dangers of the day. Within the walls, however,
the clergy exercised all their influence to spare the
effusion of blood, and to bring about an accommodation.
Two Bishops who were in the town especially advised a
surrender on honourable terms, and their advice was taken.
Four of the principal citizens were deputed to Dermid,
and Wexford was yielded on condition of its rights and
privileges, hitherto existing, being respected. The
cantreds immediately adjoining the town on the north and
east were conferred on Fitzstephen according to the treaty
made at Bristol, and he at once commenced the erection
of a fortress on the rock of Carrig, at the narrowest
pass on the river Slaney. Strongbow's uncle, Herve, was
endowed with two other cantreds, to the south of the
town, now known as the baronies of Forth and Bargey,
where the descendants of the Welsh and Flemish settlers
then planted are still to be found in the industrious
and sturdy population, known as Flemings, Furlongs,
Waddings, Prendergasts, Barrys, and Walshes. Side by
side with them now dwell in peace the Kavanaghs, Murphys,
Conors, and Breens, whose ancestors so long and so fiercely
disputed the intrusion of these strangers amongst them.

With some increase of force derived from the defenders
of Wexford, Dermid, at the head of 3000 men, including
all the Normans, marched into the adjoining territory of
Ossory, to chastise its chief, Donogh Fitzpatrick, one
of his old enemies. This campaign appears to have consumed
the greater part of the summer of the year, and ended
with the submission of Ossory, after a brave but unskilful
resistance. The tidings of what was done at Wexford and
in Ossory had, however, roused the apprehension of the
monarch Roderick, who appointed a day for a national
muster "of the Irish" at the Hill of Tara. Thither
repaired accordingly the monarch himself, the lords of
Meath, Oriel, Ulidia, Breffni, and the chiefs of the
farther north. With this host they proceeded to Dublin,
which they found as yet in no immediate danger of attack;
and whether on this pretext or some other, the Ulster
chiefs returned to their homes, leaving Roderick to
pursue, with the aid of Meath and Breffni only, the
footsteps of McMurrogh. The latter had fallen back upon
Ferns, and had, under the skilful directions of Fitzstephen,
strengthened the naturally difficult approaches to that
ancient capital, by digging artificial pits, by felling
trees, and other devices of Norman strategy. The season,
too, must have been drawing nearly to a close, and the
same amiable desire to prevent the shedding of Christian
blood, which characterized all the clergy of this age,
again subserved the unworthy purposes of the traitor and
invader. Roderick, after a vain endeavour to detach
Fitzstephen from Dermid and to induce him to quit the
country, agreed to a treaty with the Leinster King, by
which the latter acknowledged his supremacy as monarch,
under the ancient conditions, for the fulfilment of which
he surrendered to him his son Conor as hostage. By a
secret and separate agreement Dermid bound himself to
admit no more of the Normans into his service--an engagement
which he kept as he did all others, whether of a public
or a private nature. After the usual exchange of stipends
and tributes, Roderick returned to his home in the west;
and thus, with the treaty of Ferns, ended the comparatively
unimportant but significant campaign of the year 1169.



This would seem to be the proper place to point out the
peculiarities in arms, equipment, and tactics, which gave
the first Normans those military advantages over the
Irish and Dano-Irish, which they had hitherto maintained
over the Saxons, Welsh and Scots. In instituting such a
comparison, we do not intend to confine it strictly to
the age of Strongbow and Dermid; the description will
extend to the entire period from the arrival of Fitzstephen
to the death of Richard, Earl of Ulster--from 1169 to
1333--a period of five or six generations, which we
propose to treat of in the present book. After this Earl's
decease, the Normans and Irish approximated more closely
in all their customs, and no longer presented those marked
contrasts which existed in their earlier intercourse and
conflicts with each other. The armour of the first
adventurers, both for man and horse, excited the wonder,
the sarcasms, and the fears of the Irish. No such equipments
had yet been seen in that country, nor indeed in any
other, where the Normans were still strangers. As the
Knights advanced on horseback, in their metal coating,
they looked more like iron cylinders filled with flesh
and blood, than like lithe and limber human combatants.
The man-at-arms, whether Knight or Squire, was almost
invariably mounted; his war-horse was usually led, while
he rode a hackney, to spare the _destrier_. The body
armour was a hauberk of netted iron or steel, to which
were joined a hood, sleeves, breeches, hose and sabatons,
or shoes, of the same material. Under the hauberk was
worn a quilted gambeson of silk or cotton, reaching to
the knees; over armour, except when actually engaged,
all men of family wore costly coats of satin, velvet,
cloth of gold or cloth of silver, emblazoned with their
arms. The shields of the thirteenth century were of
triangular form, pointed at the bottom; the helmet conical,
with or without bars; the beaver, vizor and plate armour,
were inventions of a later day. Earls, Dukes, and Princes,
wore small crowns upon their helmets; lovers wore the
favours of their mistresses; and victors the crests of
champions they had overthrown. The ordinary weapons of
these cavaliers were sword, lance, and knife; the
demi-launce, or light horsemen, were similarly armed;
and a force of this class, common in the Irish wars, was
composed of mounted cross-bow men, and called from the
swift, light _hobbies_ they rode, Hobiler-Archers. Besides
many improvements in arms and manual exercise, the Normans
perfected the old Roman machines and engines used in
sieges. The scorpion was a huge cross-bow, the catapults
showered stones to a great distance; the ballista discharged
flights of darts and arrows. There were many other
varieties of stone-throwing machinery; "the war-wolf"
was long the chief of projectile machines, as the ram
was of manual forces. The power of a battering-ram of
the largest size, worked by a thousand men, has been
proven to be equal to a point-blank shot from a thirty-six
pounder. There were moveable towers of all sizes and of
many names: "the sow" was a variety which continued in
use in England and Ireland till the middle of the
seventeenth century. The divisions of the cavalry were:
first, the _Constable's_ command, some twenty-five men;
next, the _Banneret_ was entitled to unfurl his own
colours with consent of the Marshal, and might unite
under his pennon one or more constabularies; the _Knight_
led into the field all his retainers who held of him by
feudal tenure, and sometimes the retainers of his squires,
wards, or valets, and kinsmen. The laws of chivalry were
fast shaping themselves into a code complete and coherent
in all its parts, when these iron-clad, inventive and
invincible masters of the art of war first entered on
the invasion of Ireland.

The body of their followers in this enterprise, consisting
of Flemish, Welsh, and Cornish archers, may be best
described by the arms they carried. The irresistible
cross-bow was their main reliance. Its shot was so deadly
that the Lateran Council, in 1139, strictly forbade its
employment among Christian enemies. It combined with
its stock, or bed, wheel, and trigger, almost all the
force of the modern musket, and discharged square pieces
of iron, leaden balls, or, in scarcity of ammunition,
flint stones. The common cross-bow would kill, point
blank, at forty or fifty yards distance, and the best
improved at fully one hundred yards. The manufacture of
these weapons must have been profitable, since their cost
was equal, in the relative value of money, to that of
the rifle, in our times. In the reign of Edward II. each
cross-bow, purchased for the garrison of Sherborne Castle,
cost 3 shillings and 8 pence; and every hundred of
_quarrels_--the ammunition just mentioned--1 shilling
and 6 pence. Iron, steel, and wood, were the materials
used in the manufacture of this weapon.

The long-bow had been introduced into England by the
Normans, who are said to have been more indebted to that
arm than any other, for their victory at Hastings. To
encourage the use of the long-bow many statutes were
passed, and so late as the time of the Stuarts, royal
commissions were issued for the promotion of this national
exercise. Under the early statutes no archer was permitted
to practise at any standing mark at less than "eleven
score yards distant;" no archer under twenty-four years
of age was allowed to shoot twice from the same stand-point;
parents and masters were subject to a fine of 6 shillings
and 8 pence if they allowed their youth, under the age
of seventeen, "to be without a bow and two arrows for
one month together;" the walled towns were required to
set up their butts, to keep them in repair, and to turn
out for target-practice on holidays, and at other convenient
times. Aliens residing in England were forbidden the
use of this weapon--a jealous precaution showing the
great importance attached to its possession. The usual
length of the bow--which was made of yew, witch-hazel,
ash, or elm--was about six feet; and the arrow, about
half that length. Arrows were made of ash, feathered with
part of a goose's wing, and barbed with iron or steel.
In the reign of Edward III., a painted bow cost 1 shilling
and 6 pence, a white bow, 1 shilling; a sheaf of
steel-tipped arrows (24 to the sheaf), 1 shilling and 2
pence, and a sheaf of _non accerata_ (the blunt sort),
1 shilling The range of the long-bow, at its highest
perfection, was, as we have seen, "eleven score yards,"
more than double that of the ordinary cross-bow. The
common sort of both these weapons carried about the same
distance--nearly 100 yards.

The natural genius of the Normans for war had been
sharpened and perfected by then: campaigns in France and
England, but more especially in the first and second
Crusades. All that was to be learned of military science
in other countries--all that Italian skill, Greek subtlety,
or Saracen invention could teach, they knew and combined
into one system. Their feudal discipline, moreover, in
which the youth who entered the service of a veteran as
page, rose in time to the rank of esquire and
bachelor-at-arms, and finally won his spurs on some
well-contested field, was eminently favourable to the
training and proficiency of military talents. Not less
remarkable was the skill they displayed in seizing on
the strong and commanding points of communication within
the country, as we see at this day, from the sites of
their old Castles, many of which must have been, before
the invention of gunpowder, all but impregnable.

The art of war, if art it could in their case be called,
was in a much less forward stage among the Irish in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries than amongst the Normans.
Of the science of fortification they perhaps knew no more
than they had learned in their long struggle with the
Danes and Norwegians. To render roads impassable, to
strengthen their islands by stockades, to hold the
naturally difficult passes which connect one province or
one district with another--these seem to have been their
chief ideas of the aid that valour may derive from
artificial appliances. The fortresses of which we hear
so frequently, during and after the Danish period, and
which are erroneously called _Danes'-forts_, were more
numerous than formidable to such enemies as the Normans.
Some of these earth-and-stone-works are older than the
Milesian invasion, and of Cyclopean style and strength.
Those of the Milesians are generally of larger size,
contain much more earth, and the internal chambers are
of less massive masonry. They are almost invariably of
circular form, and the largest remaining specimens are
the Giant's Ring, near Belfast; the fort at Netterville,
which measures 300 paces in circumference round the top
of the embankment; the Black Rath, on the Boyne, which
measures 321 paces round the outer wall of circumvallation;
and the King's Rath, at Tara, upwards of 280 in length.
The height of the outer embankment in forts of this size
varied from fifteen to twenty feet; this embankment was
usually surrounded by a fosse; within the embankment
there was a platform, depressed so as to leave a circular
parapet above its level. Many of these military raths
have been found to contain subterranean chambers and
circular winding passages, supposed to be used as granaries
and armories. They are accounted capable of containing
garrisons of from 200 to 500 men; but many of the fortresses
mentioned from age to age in our annals were mere private
residences, enclosing within their outer and inner walls
space enough for the immediate retainers and domestics
of the chief. Although coats of mail are mentioned in
manuscripts long anterior to the Norman invasion, the
Irish soldiers seem seldom or never to have been completely
clothed in armour. Like the northern _Berserkers_, they
prided themselves in fighting, if not naked, in their
orange coloured shirts, dyed with saffron. The helmet
and the shield were the only defensive articles of dress;
nor do they seem to have had trappings for their horses.
Their favourite missile weapon was the dart or javelin,
and in earlier ages the sling. The spear or lance, the
sword, and the sharp, short-handled battle-axe, were
their favourite manual weapons. Their power with the
battle-axe was prodigious; _Giraldus_ says they sometimes
lopped off a horseman's leg at a single blow, his body
falling over on the other side. Their bridle-bits and
spurs were of bronze, as were generally their spear heads
and short swords. Of siege implements, beyond the torch
and the scaling-ladder, they seem to have had no knowledge,
and to have desired none. The Dano-Irish alone were
accustomed to fortify and defend their towns, on the
general principles, which then composed the sum of what
was known in Christendom of military engineering. Quick
to acquire in almost every department of the art, the
native Irish continued till the last obstinately insensible
to the absolute necessity of learning how modern
fortifications are constructed, defended, and captured;
a national infatuation, of which we find melancholy
evidence in every recurring native insurrection.

The two divisions of the Irish infantry were the
_galloglass_, or heavily armed foot soldier, called
_gall_, either as a mercenary, or from having been equipped
after the Norman method, and the _kerne_, or light
infantry. The horsemen were men of the free tribes, who
followed their chief on terms almost of equality, and
who, except his immediate retainers, equipped and foraged
for themselves. The highest unit of this force was a
_Cath_, or battalion of 3,000 men; but the subdivision
of command and the laws which established and maintained
discipline have yet to be recovered and explained. The
old Spanish "right of insurrection" seems to have been
recognized in every chief of a free tribe, and no Hidalgo
of old Spain, for real or fancied slight, was ever more
ready to turn his horse's head homeward than were those
refractory lords, with whom Roderick O'Conor and his
successors, in the front of the national battle, had to
contend or to co-operate.



The campaigns of 1168 and 1169 had ended prosperously
for Dermid in the treaty of Ferns. By that treaty he had
bound himself to bring no more Normans into the country,
and to send those already in his service back to their
homes. But in the course of the same autumn or winter,
in which this agreement was solemnly entered into, he
welcomed the arrival at Wexford--of Maurice Fitzgerald
--son of the fair Nesta by her first husband--and
immediately employed this fresh force, consisting of 10
knights, 30 esquires, and 100 footmen, upon a hosting
which harried the open country about Dublin, and induced
the alarmed inhabitants to send hostages into his camp,
bearing proffers of allegiance and amity. As yet he did
not feel in force sufficient to attack the city, for, if
he had been, his long cherished vengeance against its
inhabitants would not have been postponed till another

In the meantime he had written most urgent letters to
Earl Richard to hasten his arrival, according to the
terms agreed upon at Bristol. That astute and ambitious
nobleman had been as impatiently biding his time as Dermid
had been his coming. Knowing the jealous sovereign under
whom he served, he had gone over to France to obtain
Henry's sanction to the Irish enterprise, but had been
answered by the monarch, in oracular phrases, which might
mean anything or nothing. Determined, however, to interpret
these doubtful words in his own sense, he despatched his
vanguard early in the spring of the year 1170, under the
command of his uncle Herve and a company of 10 knights
and 70 archers, under Raymond, son of William, lord of
Carew, elder brother of Maurice Fitzgerald, and grandson
of Nesta. In the beginning of May, Raymond, nicknamed
_le gros_, or the Fat, entered Waterford harbour, and
landed eight miles below the city, under the rock of
Dundonolf, on the east, or Wexford side. Here they rapidly
threw up a camp to protect themselves against attack,
and to hold the landing place for the convenience of the
future expedition. A tumultuous body of natives, amounting,
according to the Norman account, to 3,000 men, were soon
seen swarming across the Suir to attack the foreigners.
They were men of Idrone and Desies, under their chiefs,
O'Ryan and O'Phelan, and citizens of Waterford, who now
rushed towards the little fortress, entirely unprepared
for the long and deadly range of the Welsh and Flemish
crossbows. Thrown into confusion by the unexpected
discharge, in which every shot from behind the ramparts
of turf brought down its man, they wavered and broke;
Raymond and Herve then sallied out upon the fugitives,
who were fain to escape, as many as could, to the other
side of the river, leaving 500 prisoners, including 70
chief citizens of Waterford behind them. These were all
inhumanly massacred, according to _Giraldus_, the eulogist
of all the Geraldines, by the order of Herve, contrary
to the entreaties of Raymond. Their legs were first
violently broken, and they were then hurled down the
rocks into the tide. Five hundred men could not well be
so captured and put to death by less than an equal number
of hands, and we may, therefore, safely set down that
number as holding the camp of Dundonolf during the summer
months of the year.

Earl Richard had not completed his arrangements until
the month of August--so that his uncle and lieutenant
had to hold the post they had seized for fully three
months, awaiting his arrival in the deepest anxiety. At
last, leaving his castle in Pembroke, he marched with
his force through North Wales, by way of St. David's to
Milford Haven--"and still as he went he took up all the
best chosen and picked men he could get." At Milford,
just as he was about to embark, he received an order from
King Henry forbidding the expedition. Wholly disregarding
this missive he hastened on board with 200 knights and
1,200 infantry in his company, and on the eve of St.
Bartholomew's Day (August 23rd), landed safely under the
earthwork of Dundonolf, where he was joyfully received
by Raymond at the head of 40 knights, and a corresponding
number of men-at-arms. The next day the whole force,
under the Earl, "who had all things in readiness" for
such an enterprise, proceeded to lay siege to Waterford.
Malachy O'Phelan, the brave lord of Desies, forgetting
all ancient enmity against his Danish neighbours, had
joined the townsmen to assist in the defence. Twice the
besieged beat back the assailants, until Raymond perceiving
at an angle of the wall the wooden props upon which a
house rested, ordered them to be cut away, on which the
house fell to the ground, and a breach was effected. The
men-at-arms then burst in, slaughtering the inhabitants
without mercy. In the tower, long known as Reginald's,
or the ring tower, O'Phelan and Reginald, the Dano-Irish
chief, held out until the arrival of King Dermid, whose
intercession procured them such terms as led to their
surrender. Then, amid the ruins of the burning city, and
the muttered malediction of its surviving inhabitants,
the ill-omened marriage of Eva McMurrogh with Richard de
Clare was gaily celebrated, and the compact entered into
at Bristol three years before was perfected.

The marriage revelry was hardly over when tidings came
from Dublin that Asculph MacTorcall, its Danish lord,
had, either by the refusal of the annual tribute, or in
some other manner, declared his independence of Dermid,
and invoked the aid of the monarch Roderick, in defence
of that city. Other messengers brought news that Roderick
had assumed the protection of Dublin, and was already
encamped at the head of a large army at Clondalkin, with
a view of intercepting the march of the invaders from
the south. The whole Leinster and Norman force, with the
exception of a troop of archers left to garrison Waterford,
were now put in motion for the siege of the chief city
of the Hibernicized descendants of the Northmen. Informed
of Roderick's position, which covered Dublin on the south
and west, Dermid and Richard followed boldly the mountain
paths and difficult roads which led by the secluded city
of Glendalough, and thence along the coast road from Bray
towards the mouth of the Liffey, until they arrived
unexpectedly within the lines of Roderick, to the amazement
and terror of the townsmen.

The force which now, under the command-in-chief of Dermid,
sat down to the siege of Dublin, was far from being
contemptible. For a year past he had been recognized in
Leinster as fully as any of his predecessors, and had so
strengthened his military position as to propose nothing
short of the conquest of the whole country. His choice
of a line of march sufficiently shows how thoroughly he
had overcome the former hostility of the stubborn
mountaineers of Wicklow. The exact numbers which he
encamped before the gates of Dublin are nowhere given,
but on the march from Waterford, the vanguard, led by
Milo de Cogan, consisted of 700 Normans and "an Irish
battalion," which, taken literally, would mean 3,000 men,
under Donald _Kavanagh_; Raymond the Fat followed "with
800 British;" Dermid led on "the chief part of the Irish"
(number not given), in person; Richard commanded the
rear-guard, "300 British and 1,000 Irish soldiers."
Altogether, it is not exorbitant to conjecture that the
Leinster Prince led to the siege of Dublin an army of
about 10,000 native troops, 1,500 Welsh and Flemish
archers, and 250 knights. Except the handful who remained
with Fitzstephen to defend his fort at Carrick, on the
Slaney, and the archers left in Waterford, the entire
Norman force in Ireland, at this time, were united in
the siege. Of the foreign knights many were eminent for
courage and capacity, both in peace and war. The most
distinguished among them were Maurice Fitzgerald, the
common ancestor of the Geraldines of Desmond and Kildare;
Raymond the Fat, ancestor of the Graces of Ossory; the
two Fitz-Henries, grandsons of Henry I., and the fair
Nesta; Walter de Riddlesford, first Baron of Bray; Robert
de Quincy, son-in-law and standard-bearer to Earl Richard;
Herve, uncle to the Earl, and Gilbert de Clare, his son;
Milo de Cogan, the first who entered Dublin by assault,
and its first Norman governor; the de Barries, and de
Prendergast. Other founders of Norman-Irish houses, as
the de Lacies, de Courcies, le Poers, de Burgos, Butlers,
Berminghams, came not over until the landing of Henry II.,
or still later, with his son John.

The townsmen of Dublin had every reason, from their
knowledge of Dermid's cruel character, to expect the
worst at his hands and those of his allies. The warning
of Waterford was before them, but besides this they had
a special cause of apprehension, Dermid's father having
been murdered in their midst, and his body ignominiously
interred with the carcase of a dog. Roderick having
failed to intercept him, the citizens, either to gain
time or really desiring to arrive at an accommodation,
entered into negotiations. Their ambassador for this
purpose was Lorcan, or Lawrence O'Toole, the first
Archbishop of the city, and its first prelate of Milesian
origin. This illustrious man, canonized both by sanctity
and patriotism, was then in the thirty-ninth year of his
age, and the ninth of his episcopate. His father was
lord of Imayle and chief of his clan; his sister had been
wife of Dermid and mother of Eva, the prize-bride of Earl
Richard. He himself had been a hostage with Dermid in
his youth, and afterwards Abbot of Glendalough, the most
celebrated monastic city of Leinster. He stood, therefore,
to the besieged, being their chief pastor, in the relation
of a father; to Dermid, and strangely enough to Strongbow
also, as brother-in-law and uncle by marriage. A fitter
ambassador could not be found.

Maurice Regan, the "_Latiner_," or Secretary of Dermid,
had advanced to the walls, and summoned the city to
surrender, and deliver up "30 pledges" to his master,
their lawful Prince. Asculph, son of Torcall, was in
favour of the surrender, but the citizens could not agree
among themselves as to hostages. No one was willing to
trust himself to the notoriously untrustworthy Dermid.
The Archbishop was then sent out on the part of the
citizens to arrange the terms in detail. He was received
with all reverence in the camp, but while he was
deliberating with the commanders without, and the townsmen
were anxiously awaiting his return, Milo de Cogan and
Raymond the Fat, seizing the opportunity, broke into the
city at the head of their companies, and began to put
the inhabitants ruthlessly to the sword. They were soon
followed by the whole force eager for massacre and pillage.
The Archbishop hastened back to endeavour to stay the
havoc which was being made of his people. He threw
himself before the infuriated Irish and Normans, he
threatened, he denounced, he bared his own breast to the
swords of the assassins. All to little purpose; the blood
fury exhausted itself before peace settled over the city.
Its Danish chief, Asculph, with many of his followers,
escaped to their ships, and fled to the Isle of Man and
the Hebrides in search of succour and revenge. Roderick,
unprepared to besiege the enemy who had thus outmarched
and outwitted him at that season of the year--it could
not be earlier than October--broke up his encampment at
Clondalkin, and retired to Connaught. Earl Richard having
appointed de Cogan his governor of Dublin, followed on
the rear of the retreating _Ard-Righ_, at the instigation
of McMurrogh, burning and plundering the churches of
Kells, Clonard and Slane, and carrying off the hostages
of East-Meath.

Though Dermid seemed to have forgotten altogether the
conditions of the treaty of Ferns, yet not so Roderick.
When he reached Athlone he caused Conor, son of Dermid,
and the son of Donald _Kavanagh_, and the son of Dermid's
fosterer, who had been given him as hostages for the
fulfilment of that treaty, so grossly violated in every
particular, to be beheaded. Dermid indulged in impotent
vows of vengeance against Roderick, when he heard of
these executions which his own perjuries had provoked;
he swore that nothing short of the conquest of Connaught
in the following spring would satisfy his revenge, and
he sent the Ard-Righ his defiance to that purport. Two
other events of military consequence marked the close of
the year 1170. The foreign garrison of Waterford was
surprised and captured by Cormac McCarthy, Prince of
Desmond, and Henry II. having prohibited all intercourse
between his lieges and his disobedient subject, Earl
Richard, the latter had despatched Raymond the Fat, with
the most humble submission of himself and his new
possessions to his Majesty's decision. And so with Asculph,
son of Torcall, recruiting in the isles of Insi-Gall,
Lawrence, the Archbishop, endeavouring to unite the proud
and envious Irish lords into one united phalanx, and
Roderick, preparing for the new year's campaign, the
winter of 1170-'71, came, and waned, and went.

One occurrence of the succeeding spring may most
appropriately be dismissed here--the death of the wretched
and odious McMurrogh. This event happened, according to
_Giraldus_, in the kalends of May. The Irish Annals
surround his death-bed with all the horrors appropriate
to such a scene. He became, they say, "putrid while
living," through the miracles of St. Columbcille and St.
Finian, whose churches he had plundered; "and he died at
Fernamore, without making a will, without penance, without
the body of Christ, without unction, as his evil deeds
deserved." We have no desire to meditate over the memory
of such a man. He, far more than his predecessor, whatever
that predecessor's crimes might have been, deserved to
have been buried with a dog.



The campaign of the year 1171 languished from a variety
of causes. At the very outset, the invaders lost their
chief patron, who had been so useful to them. During the
siege of Dublin, in the previous autumn, the townsmen of
Wexford, who were in revolt, had, by stratagem, induced
Robert Fitzstephen to surrender his fort at Carrick, and
had imprisoned him in one of the islands of their harbour.
Waterford had been surprised and taken by Cormac McCarthy,
Prince of Desmond, and Strongbow, alarmed by the
proclamation of Henry, knew hardly whether to consider
himself outlaw, subject, or independent sovereign.

Raymond the Fat had returned from his embassy to King
Henry, with no comfortable tidings. He had been kept day
after day waiting the pleasure of the King, and returned
with sentences as dubious in his mouth, as those on which
Earl Richard had originally acted. It was evidently not
the policy of Henry to abandon the enterprise already so
well begun, but neither was it his interest or desire
that any subject should reap the benefit, or erect an
independent power, upon his mere permission to embark in
the service of McMurrogh. Herve, the Earl's uncle, had
been despatched as ambassador in Raymond's place, but
with no better success. At length, Richard himself, by
the advice of all his counsellors, repaired to England,
and waited on Henry at Newenham, in Gloucestershire. At
first he was ignominiously refused an audience, but after
repeated solicitations he was permitted to renew his
homage. He then yielded in due form the city of Dublin,
and whatever other conquests he claimed, and consented
to hold his lands in Leinster, as chief tenant from the
crown: in return for which he was graciously forgiven
the success that had attended his adventure, and permitted
to accompany the King's expedition, in the ensuing autumn.

Before Strongbow's departure for England three unsuccessful
attempts had been made for the expulsion of the Norman
garrison from Dublin. They were unfortunately not undertaken
in concert, but rather in succession. The first was an
attempt at surprising the city by Asculph MacTorcall,
probably relying on the active aid of the inhabitants of
his own race. He had but "a small force," chiefly from
the isles of Insi-Gall and the Orkneys. The Orcadians
were under the command of a warrior called John the
Furious or Mad, the last of those wild Berserkers of the
North, whose valour was regarded in Pagan days as a
species of divine frenzy. This redoubted champion, after
a momentary success, was repulsed by Milo and Richard de
Cogan, and finally fell by the hand of Walter de
Riddlesford. Asculph was taken prisoner, and, avowing
boldly his intention never to desist from attempting to
recover the place, was put to death. The second attack
has been often described as a regular investment by
Roderick O'Conor, at the head of all the forces of the
Island, which was only broken up in the ninth week of
its duration, by a desperate sally on the part of the
famished garrison. Many details and episodes, proper to
so long a beleaguerment, are given by _Giraldus_, and
reproduced by his copyists. We find, however, little
warrant for these passages in our native annals, any more
than for the antithetical speeches which the same partial
historian places in the mouths of his heroes. The Four
Masters limit the time to "the course of a fortnight."
Roderick, according to their account, was accompanied by
the lords of Breffni and Oriel only; frequent skirmishes
and conflicts took place; an excursion was made against
the Leinster Allies of the Normans, "to cut down and burn
the corn of the Saxons." The surprise by night of the
monarch's camp is also duly recorded; and that the enemy
carried off "the provisions, armour, and horses of
Roderick." By which sally, according to _Giraldus_, Dublin
having obtained provisions enough for a year, Earl Richard
marched to Wexford, "taking the higher way by Idrone,"
with the hope to deliver Fitzstephen. But the Wexford
men having burned their suburbs, and sent their goods
and families into the stockaded island, sent him word
that at the first attack they would put Fitzstephen and
his companions to death. The Earl, therefore, held
sorrowfully on his way to Waterford, where, leaving a
stronger force than the first garrison, to which he had
entrusted it, he sailed for England to make his peace
with King Henry. The third attempt on Dublin was made by
the lord of Breffni during the Earl's absence, and when
the garrison were much reduced; it was equally unsuccessful
with those already recorded. De Cogan displayed his usual
courage, and the lord of Breffni lost a son and some of
his best men in the assault.

It was upon the marches of Wales that the Earl found King
Henry busily engaged in making preparations for his own
voyage into Ireland. He had levied on the landholders
throughout his dominions an escutage or commutation for
personal service, and the Pipe roll, which contains his
disbursements for the year, has led an habitually cautious
writer to infer "that the force raised for the expedition
was much more numerous than has been represented by
historians." During the muster of his forces he visited
Pembroke, and made a progress through North Wales, severely
censuring those who had enlisted under Strongbow, and
placing garrisons of his own men in their castles. At
Saint David's he made the usual offering on the shrine
of the Saint and received the hospitalities of the Bishop.
All things being in readiness, he sailed from Milford
Haven, with a fleet of 400 transports, having on board
many of the Norman nobility, 500 knights, and an army
usually estimated at 4,000 men at arms. On the 18th of
October, 1171, he landed safely at Crook, in the county
of Waterford, being unable, according to an old local
tradition, to sail up the river from adverse winds. As
one headland of that harbour is called _Hook_, and the
other _Crook_, the old adage, "by hook or by crook," is
thought to have arisen on this occasion.

In Henry's train, beside Earl Richard, there came over
Hugh de Lacy, some time Constable of Chester; William,
son of Aldelm, ancestor of the Clanrickardes; Theobald
Walter, ancestor of the Butlers; Robert le Poer, ancestor
of the Powers; Humphrey de Bohun, Robert Fitz-Barnard,
Hugh de Gundeville, Philip de Hastings, Philip de Braos,
and many other cavaliers whose names were renowned
throughout France and England. As the imposing host formed
on the sea side, a white hare, according to an English
chronicler, leapt from a neighbouring hedge, and was
immediately caught and presented to the King as an omen
of victory. Prophecies, pagan and Christian--quatrains
fathered on Saint Moling and triads attributed to
Merlin--were freely showered in his path. But the true
omen of his success he might read for himself, in a
constitution which had lost its force, in laws which had
ceased to be sacred, and in a chieftain race, brave indeed
as mortal men could be, but envious, arrogant, revengeful,
and insubordinate. For their criminal indulgence of
these demoniacal passions a terrible chastisement was
about to fall on them, and not only on them, but also,
alas! on their poor people.

The whole time passed by Henry II. in Ireland was from
the 18th October, 1171, till the 17th of April following,
just seven months. For the first politician of his age,
with the command of such troops, and so much treasure,
these seven months could not possibly be barren of
consequences. Winter, the season of diplomacy, was seldom
more industriously or expertly employed. The townsmen of
Wexford, aware of his arrival as soon as it had taken
place, hastened to make their submission and to deliver
up to him their prisoner, Robert Fitzstephen, the first
of the invaders. Henry, affecting the same displeasure
towards Fitzstephen he did for all those who had anticipated
his own expedition, ordered him to be fettered and
imprisoned in Reginald's tower. At Waterford he also
received the friendly overtures of the lords of Desies
and Ossory, and probably some form of feudal submission
was undergone by those chiefs. Cormac, Prince of Desmond,
followed their example, and soon afterwards Donald O'Brien
of Thomond met him on the banks of the Suir, not far from
Cashel, made his peace, and agreed to receive a Norman
garrison in his Hiberno-Danish city of Limerick. Having
appointed commanders over these and other southern
garrisons, Henry proceeded to Dublin, where a spacious
cage-work palace, on a lawn without the city, was prepared
for winter quarters. Here he continued those negotiations
with the Irish chiefs, which we are told were so generally
successful. Amongst others whose adhesion he received,
mention is made of the lord of Breffni, the most faithful
follower the Monarch Roderick could count. The chiefs of
the Northern Hy-Nial remained deaf to all his overtures,
and though Fitz-Aldelm and de Lacy, the commissioners
despatched to treat with Roderick, are said to have
procured from the deserted _Ard-Righ_ an act of submission,
it is incredible that a document of such consequence
should have been allowed to perish. Indeed, most of the
confident assertions about submissions to Henry are to
be taken with great caution; it is quite certain he
himself, though he lived nearly twenty years after his
Irish expedition, never assumed any Irish title whatever.
It is equally true that his successor, Richard I., never
assumed any such title, as an incident of the English
crown. And although Henry in the year 1185 created his
youngest son, John _Lackland_, "lord of Ireland," it was
precisely in the same spirit and with as much ground of
title as he had for creating Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath,
or John de Courcy, Earl of Ulster. Of this question of
title we shall speak more fully hereafter, for we do not
recognize any English sovereign as _King_ of Ireland,
previous to the year 1541; but it ought surely to be
conclusive evidence, that neither had Henry claimed the
crown, nor had the Irish chiefs acknowledged him as their
_Ard-Righ_, that in the two authentic documents from his
hand which we possess, he neither signs himself _Rex_
nor _Dominus Hibernioe_. These documents are the Charter
of Dublin, and the Concession of Glendalough, and their
authenticity has never been disputed.

After spending a right merry Christmas with Norman and
Milesian guests in abundance at Dublin, Henry proceeded
to that work of religious reformation, under plea of
which he had obtained the Bill of Pope Adrian, seventeen
years before, declaring such an expedition undertaken
with such motives, lawful and praiseworthy. Early in the
new year, by his desire, a synod was held at Cashel,
where many salutary decrees were enacted. These related
to the proper solemnization of marriage; the catechising
of children before the doors of churches; the administration
of baptism in baptismal or parish churches; the abolition of
_Erenachs_ or lay Trustees of church property, and the
imposition of tithes, both of corn and cattle. By most
English writers this synod is treated as a National
Council, and inferences are thence drawn of Henry's
admitted power over the clergy of the nation. There is,
however, no evidence that the Bishops of Ulster or
Connaught were present at Cashel, but strong negative
testimony to the contrary. We read under the date of the
same year in the Four Masters, that a synod of the clergy
and laity of Ireland was convened at Tuam by Roderick
O'Conor and the Archbishop Catholicus O'Duffy. It is
hardly possible that this meeting could be in continuation
or in concord with the assembly convoked at the instance
of Henry.

Following quickly upon the Cashel Synod, Henry held a
"Curia Regis" or Great Court at Lismore, in which he
created the offices of Marshal, Constable, and Seneschal
for Ireland. Earl Richard was created the first Lord
Marshal; de Lacy, the first Lord Constable. Theobald,
ancestor of the Ormond family, was already chief Butler,
and de Vernon was created the first high Steward or
Seneschal. Such other order as could be taken for the
preservation of the places already captured, was not
neglected. The surplus population of Bristol obtained a
charter of Dublin to be held of Henry and his heirs,
"with all the same liberties and free customs which they
enjoyed at Bristol." Wexford was committed to the charge
of Fitz-Aldelm, Waterford to de Bohun, and Dublin to de
Lacy. Castles were ordered to be erected in the towns
and at other points, and the politic king, having caused
all those who remained behind to renew their homage in
the most solemn form, sailed on Easter Monday from Wexford
Haven, and on the same day, landed at Port-Finan in Wales.
Here he assumed the Pilgrim's staff, and proceeded humbly
on foot to St. David's, preparatory to meeting the Papal
Commissioners appointed to inquire into Beckett's murder.

It is quite apparent that had Henry landed in Ireland at
any other period of his life except in the year of the
martyrdom of the renowned Archbishop of Canterbury, while
the wrath of Rome was yet hanging poised in the air,
ready to be hurled against him, he would not have left
the work he undertook but half begun. The nett result of
his expedition, of his great fleet, mighty army, and
sagacious counsels, was the infusion of a vast number of
new adventurers (most of them of higher rank and better
fortunes than their precursors), into the same old field.
Except the garrisons admitted into Limerick and Cork,
and the displacing of Strongbow's commandants by his own
at Waterford, Wexford, and Dublin, there seems to have
been little gained in a military sense. The decrees of
the Synod of Cashel would, no doubt, stand him in good
stead with the Papal legates as evidences of his desire
to enforce strict discipline, even on lands beyond those
over which he actually ruled. But, after all, harassed
as he was with apprehensions of the future, perhaps no
other Prince could have done more in a single winter in
a strange country than Henry II. did for his seven months'
sojourn in Ireland.



The Ard-Righ Roderick, during the period of Henry the
Second's stay in Ireland, had continued west of the
Shannon. Unsupported by his suffragans, many of whom
made peace with the invader, he attempted no military
operation, nor had Henry time sufficient to follow him
into his strongholds. It was reserved for this ill-fated,
and, we cannot but think, harshly judged monarch, to
outlive the first generation of the invaders of his
country, and to close a reign which promised so brightly
at the beginning, in the midst of a distracted, war-spent
people, having preserved through all vicissitudes the
title of sovereign, but little else that was of value to
himself or others.

Among the guests who partook of the Christmas cheer of
King Henry at Dublin, we find mention of Tiernan O'Ruarc,
the lord of Breffni and East-Meath. For the Methian
addition to his possessions, Tiernan was indebted to his
early alliance with Roderick, and the success of their
joint arms. Anciently the east of Meath had been divided
between the four families called "the four tribes of
Tara," whose names are now anglicized O'Hart, O'Kelly,
O'Connelly, and O'Regan. Whether to balance the power of
the great West-Meath family of O'Melaghlin, or because
these minor tribes were unable to defend themselves
successfully, Roderick, like his father, had partitioned
Meath, and given the seaward side a new master in the
person of O'Ruarc. The investiture of Hugh de Lacy by
King Henry with the seignory of the same district, led
to a tragedy, the first of its kind in our annals, but
destined to be the prototype of an almost indefinite
series, in which the gainers were sometimes natives, but
much oftener Normans.

O'Ruarc gave de Lacy an appointment at the hill of Ward,
near Athboy, in the year 1173, in order to adjust their
conflicting claims upon East-Meath. Both parties naturally
guarded against surprise, by having in readiness a troop
of armed retainers. The principals met apart on the
summit of the hill, amid the circumvallations of its
ancient fort; a single unarmed interpreter only was
present. An altercation having arisen, between them,
O'Ruarc lost his temper, and raised the battle-axe, which
all our warriors carried in those days, as the gentlemen
of the last century did their swords; this was the signal
for both troops of guards to march towards the spot. De
Lacy, in attempting to fly, had been twice felled to the
earth, when his followers, under Maurice Fitzgerald and
Griffith, his nephew, came to his rescue, and assailed
the chief of Breffni. It was now Tiernan's turn to attempt
escaping, but as he mounted his horse the spear of Griffith
brought him to the earth mortally wounded, and his
followers fled. His head was carried in triumph to Dublin,
where it was spiked over the northern gate, and his body
was gibbeted on the northern wall, with the feet uppermost.
Thus, a spectacle of intense pity to the Irish, did these
severed members of one of their most famous nobles remain
exposed on that side of the stronghold of the stranger
which looks towards the pleasant plains of Meath and the
verdant uplands of Cavan.

The administration of de Lacy was now interrupted by a
summons to join his royal master, sore beset by his own
sons in Normandy. The Kings of France and Scotland were
in alliance with those unnatural Princes, and their
mother, Queen Eleanor, might he called the author of
their rebellion. As all the force that could be spared
from Ireland was needed for the preservation of Normandy,
de Lacy hastened to obey the royal summons, and Earl
Richard, by virtue of his rank of Marshal, took for the
moment the command in chief. Henry, however, who never
cordially forgave that adventurer, first required his
presence in France, and when alarmed by ill news from
Ireland, he sent him back to defend the conquests already
made, he associated with him in the supreme command--though
not apparently in the civil administration--the gallant
Raymond _le gros_. And it was full time for the best head
and the bravest sword among the first invaders to return
to their work--a task not to be so easily achieved as
many confident persons then believed, and as many
ill-informed writers have since described it.

During the early rule of de Lacy, Earl Richard had
established himself at Ferns, assuming, to such of the
Irish as adhered to him, the demeanour of a king. After
Dermid's death, he styled himself, in utter disregard of
Irish law, "Prince of Leinster," in virtue of his wife.
He proceeded to create feudal dignitaries, placing at
their head, as Constable of Leinster, Robert de Quincy,
to whom he gave his daughter, by his first wife, in
marriage. At this point the male representatives of King
Dermid came to open rupture with the Earl. Donald
_Kavanagh_, surnamed "the Handsome," and by the Normans
usually spoken of as "Prince" Donald, could scarcely be
expected to submit to an arrangement, so opposed to all
ancient custom, and to his own interests. He had borne
a leading part in the restoration of his father, but
surely not to this end--the exclusion of the male
succession. He had been one of King Henry's guests during
the Christmas holidays of the year 1172, and had rendered
him some sort of homage, as Prince of Leinster. Henry,
ever ready to raise up rivals to Strongbow, seems to have
received him into favour, until Eva, the Earl's wife,
proved, both in Ireland and England, that Donald and his
brother Enna, were born out of wedlock, and that there
was no direct male heir of Dermid left, after the execution
of Conor, the hostage put to death by King Roderick. To
English notions this might have been conclusive against
Donald's title, but to the Irish, among whom the electoral
principle was the source of all chieftainry, it was not
so. A large proportion of the patriotic Leinstermen--what
might be called the native party--adhered to Donald
_Kavanagh_, utterly rejecting the title derived through
the lady Eva.

Such conflicting interests could only be settled by a
resort to force, and the bloody feud began by the Earl
executing at Ferns one of Donald's sons, held by him as
a hostage. In an expedition against O'Dempsey, who also
refused to acknowledge his title, the Earl lost, in the
campaign of 1173, his son-in-law, de Quincy, several
other knights, and the "banner of Leinster." The following
year we read in the Anglo-Irish Annals of Leinster, that
King Donald's men, being moved against the Earl's men,
made a great slaughter of English. Nor was this the worst
defeat he suffered in the same year--1174. Marching into
Munster he was encountered in a pitched battle at Thurles
by the troops of the monarch Roderick, under command of
his son, Conor, surnamed _Moinmoy_, and by the troops of
Thomond, under Donald More O'Brien. With Strongbow were
all who could be spared of the garrison of Dublin,
including a strong detachment of Danish origin. Four
knights and seven hundred (or, according to other accounts,
seventeen hundred) men of the Normans were left dead on
the field. Strongbow retreated with the remnant of his
force to Waterford, but the news of the defeat having
reached that city before him, the townspeople ran to arms
and put his garrison of two hundred men to the sword.
After encamping for a month on an island without the
city, and hearing that Kilkenny Castle was taken and
razed by O'Brien, he was feign to return to Dublin as
best he could.

His fortunes at the close of this campaign, were at their
lowest ebb. The loss of de Quincy and the defeat of
Thurles had sorely shaken his military reputation. His
jealousy of that powerful family connexion, the Geraldines,
had driven Maurice Fitzgerald and Raymond the Fat to
retire in disgust into Wales. Donald Kavanagh, O'Dempsey,
and the native party in Leinster, set him at defiance,
and his own troops refused to obey the orders of his
uncle Herve, demanding to be led by the more popular and
youthful Raymond. To add to his embarrassments, Henry
summoned him to France in the very crisis of his troubles,
and he dared not disobey that jealous and exacting master.
He was, however, not long detained by the English King.
Clothed with supreme authority, and with Raymond for his
lieutenant, he returned to resume the work of conquest.
To conciliate the Geraldines, he at last consented to
give his sister Basilia in marriage to the brilliant
captain, on whose sword so much depended. At the same
time Alina, the widow of de Quincy, was married to the
second son of Fitzgerald, and Nesta Fitzgerald was united
to Raymond's former rival, Herve. Thus, bound together,
fortune returned in full tide to the adventurers.
Limerick, which had been taken and burned to the water's
edge by Donald O'Brien after the battle of Thurles, was
recaptured and fortified anew; Waterford was more strongly
garrisoned than ever; Donald _Kavanagh_ was taken off,
apparently by treachery (A.D. 1175), and all seemed to
promise the enjoyment of uninterrupted power to the Earl.
But his end was already come. An ulcer in his foot brought
on a long and loathsome illness, which terminated in his
death, in the month of May, 1176, or 1177. He was buried
in Christ Church, Dublin, which he had contributed to
enlarge, and was temporarily succeeded in the government
of the Normans by his lieutenant and brother-in-law,
Raymond. By the Lady Eva he left one daughter, Isabel,
married at the age of fourteen to William Marshall, Earl
of Pembroke, who afterwards claimed the proprietary of
Leinster, by virtue of this marriage. Lady Isabel left
again five daughters, who were the ancestresses of the
Mortimers, Braces, and other historic families of England
and Scotland. And so the blood of Earl Richard and his
Irish Princess descended for many generations to enrich
other houses and ennoble other names than his own.

Strongbow is described by _Giraldus_, whose personal
sketches, of the leading invaders form the most valuable
part of his book, as less a statesman than a soldier,
and more a soldier than a general. His complexion was
freckled, his neck slender, his voice feminine and shrill,
and his temper equable and uniform. His career in Ireland
was limited to seven years in point of time, and his
resources were never equal to the task he undertook.
Had they been so, or had he not been so jealously
counteracted by his suzerain, he might have founded a
new Norman dynasty on as solid a basis as William, or as
Rollo himself had done.

Raymond and the Geraldines had now, for a brief moment,
the supreme power, civil and military, in their own hands.
In his haste to take advantage of the Earl's death, of
which he had privately been informed by a message from
his wife, Raymond left Limerick in the hands of Donald
More O'Brien, exacting, we are told, a solemn oath from
the Prince of Thomond to protect the city, which the
latter broke before the Norman garrisons were out of
sight of its walls. This story, like many others of the
same age, rests on the uncertain authority of the vain,
impetuous and passionate _Giraldus_. Whether the loss of
Limerick discredited him with the king, or the ancient
jealousy of the first adventurers prevailed in the royal
councils, Henry, on hearing of Strongbow's death, at once
despatched as Lord Justice, William Fitz-Aldelm de Burgo,
first cousin to Hubert de Burgo, Chief Justiciary of
England, and, like Fitz-Aldelm, descended from Arlotta,
mother of William the Conqueror, by Harlowen de Burgo,
her first husband. From him have descended the noble
family of de Burgo, or Burke, so conspicuous in the after
annals of our island. In the train of the new Justiciary
came John de Courcy, another name destined to become
historical, but before relating his achievements, we must
conclude the narrative so far as regards the first set
of adventurers.

Maurice Fitzgerald, the common ancestor of the Earls of
Desmond and Kildare, the Knights of Glyn, of Kerry, and
of all the Irish Geraldines, died at Wexford in the year
1177. Raymond the Fat, superseded by Fitz-Aldelm, and
looked on coldly by the King, retired to his lands in
the same county, and appears only once more in arms--in
the year 1182--in aid of his uncle, Robert Fitzstephen.
This premier invader had been entrusted by the new ruler
with the command of the garrison of Cork, as Milo de
Cogan had been with that of Waterford, and both had been
invested with equal halves of the principality of Desmond.
De Cogan, Ralph, son of Fitzstephen, and other knights
had been cut off by surprise, at the house of one McTire,
near Lismore, in 1182, and all Desmond was up in arms
for the expulsion of the foreign garrisons. Raymond sailed
from Wexford to the aid of his uncle, and succeeded in
relieving the city from the sea. But Fitzstephen, afflicted
with grief for the death of his son, and worn down with
many anxieties, suffered the still greater loss of his
reason. From thenceforth, we hear no more of either uncle
or nephew, and we may therefore account this the last
year of Robert Fitzstephen, Milo de Cogan, and Raymond
_le gros_. Herve de Montmorency, the ancient rival of
Raymond, had three years earlier retired from the world,
to become a brother in the Monastery of the Holy Trinity,
at Canterbury. His Irish estates passed to his brother
Geoffrey, who subsequently became Justiciary of the
Normans in Ireland, the successful rival of the Marshals,
and founder of the Irish title of Mountmorres. The
posterity of Raymond survived in the noble family of
Grace, Barons of Courtstown, in Ossory. It is not,
therefore, strictly true, what Geoffrey Keating and the
authors he followed have asserted--that the first Normans
were punished by the loss of posterity for the crimes
and outrages they had committed, in their various

Let us be just even to these spoilers of our race. They
were fair specimens of the prevailing type of Norman
character. Indomitable bravery was not their only virtue.
In patience, in policy, and in rising superior to all
obstacles and reverses, no group of conquerors ever
surpassed Strongbow and his companions. Ties of blood
and brotherhood in arms were strong between them, and
whatever unfair advantages they allowed themselves to
take of their enemy, they were in general constant and
devoted in then--friendships towards each other. Rivalries
and intrigues were not unknown among them, but generous
self-denial, and chivalrous self-reliance were equally
as common. If it had been the lot of our ancestors to be
effectually conquered, they could hardly have yielded to
nobler foes. But as they proved themselves able to resist
successfully the prowess of this hitherto invincible
race, their honour is augmented in proportion to the
energy and genius, both for government and war, brought
to bear against them.

Neither should we overstate the charge of impiety. If
the invaders broke down and burned churches in the heat
of battle, they built better and costlier temples out of
the fruits of victory. Christ Church, Dublin, Dunbrody
Abbey, on the estuary of Waterford, the Grey Friars'
Abbey at Wexford, and other religious houses long stood,
or still stand, to show that although the first Norman,
like the first Dane, thirsted after spoil, and lusted
after land, unlike the Dane, he created, he enriched, he
improved, wherever he conquered.



The victory of Thurles, in the year 1174, was the next
important military event, as we have seen, after the
raising of the second siege of Dublin, in the first
campaign of Earl Richard. It seems irreconcilable, with
the consequences of that victory, that Ambassadors from
Roderick should be found at the Court of Henry II. before
the close of the following year: but events personal to
both sovereigns will sufficiently explain the apparent

The campaign of 1174, so unfavourable to Henry's subjects
in Ireland, had been most fortunate for his arms in
Normandy. His rebellious sons, after severe defeats,
submitted, and did him homage; the King of France had
gladly accepted his terms of peace; the King of Scotland,
while in duress, had rendered him fealty as his liege
man; and Queen Eleanor, having fallen into his power,
was a prisoner for life. Tried by a similar unnatural
conspiracy in his own family, Roderick O'Conor had been
less fortunate in coercing them into obedience. His
eldest son, Murray, claimed, according to ancient custom,
that his father should resign in his favour the patrimonial
Province, contenting himself with the higher rank of King
of Ireland. But Roderick well understood that in his
days, with a new and most formidable enemy established
in the old Danish strongholds, with the Constitution torn
to shreds by the war of succession, his only real power
was over his patrimony; he refused, therefore, the
unreasonable request, and thus converted some of his own
children into enemies. Nor were there wanting Princes,
themselves fathers, who abetted this household treason,
as the Kings of France and Scotland had done among the
sons of Henry II. Soon after the battle of Thurles, the
recovery of Limerick, and the taking of Kilkenny, Donald
More O'Brien, lending himself to this odious intrigue,
was overpowered and deposed by Roderick, but the year
next succeeding having made submission he was restored
by the same hand which had cast him down. It was, therefore,
while harassed by the open rebellion of his eldest son,
and while Henry was rejoicing in his late success, that
Roderick despatched to the Court of Windsor Catholicus,
Archbishop of Tuam, Concors, Abbot of St. Brendan's, and
Laurence, Archbishop of Dublin, whose is styled in these
proceedings, "Chancellor of the Irish King," to negotiate
an alliance with Henry, which would leave him free to
combat against his domestic enemies. An extraordinary
treaty, agreed upon at Windsor, about the feast of
Michaelmas, 1175, recognized Roderick's sovereignty over
Ireland, the cantreds and cities actually possessed by
the subjects of Henry excepted; it subinfeudated his
authority to that of Henry, after the manner lately
adopted towards William, King of Scotland; the payment
of a merchantable hide of every tenth hide of cattle was
agreed upon as an annual tribute, while the minor chiefs
were to acknowledge their dependence by annual presents
of hawks and hounds. This treaty, which proceeded on
the wild assumption that the feudal system was of force
among the free clans of Erin, was probably the basis of
Henry's grant of the Lordship of Ireland to his son, John
_Lackland_, a few years later; it was solemnly approved
by a special Council, or Parliament, and signed by the
representatives of both parties.

Among the signers we find the name of the Archbishop of
Dublin, who, while in England, narrowly escaped martyrdom
from the hands of a maniac, while celebrating Mass at
the tomb of St. Thomas. Four years afterwards, this
celebrated ecclesiastic attended at Rome, with Catholicus
of Tuam, and the Prelates of Lismore, Limerick, Waterford,
and Killaloe, the third general council of Lateran, where
they were received with all honour by Pope Alexander III.
From Rome he returned with legantine powers which he used
with great energy during the year 1180. In the autumn of
that year, he was entrusted with the delivery to Henry II.
of the son of Roderick O'Conor, as a pledge for the
fulfilment of the treaty of Windsor, and with other
diplomatic functions. On reaching England, he found the
king had gone to France, and following him thither, he
was seized with illness as he approached the Monastery
of Eu, and with a prophetic foretaste of death, he
exclaimed as he came in sight of the towers of the Convent,
"Here shall I make my resting-place." The Abbot Osbert
and the monks of the Order of St. Victor received him
tenderly, and watched his couch for the few days he yet
lingered. Anxious to fulfil his mission, he despatched
David, tutor of the son of Roderick, with messages to
Henry, and awaited his return with anxiety. David brought
him a satisfactory response from the English King, and
the last anxiety only remained. In death, as in life,
his thoughts were with his country. "Ah, foolish and
insensible people!" he exclaimed in his latest hours,
"what will become of you? Who will relieve your miseries?
Who will heal you?" When recommended to make his last
will, he answered, with apostolic simplicity--"God knows,
out of all my revenues, I have not a single coin to
bequeath." And thus on the 11th day of November, 1180,
in the 48th year of his age, under the shelter of a Norman
roof, surrounded by Norman mourners, the Gaelic
statesman-saint departed out of this life, bequeathing
--one more canonized memory to Ireland and to Rome.

The prospects of his native land were, at that moment,
of a cast which might well disturb the death-bed of the
sainted Laurence. Fitz-Aldelm, advanced to the command
at Dublin in 1177, had shown no great capacity for
following up the conquest. But there was one among his
followers who, unaffected by his sluggish example, and
undeterred by his jealous interference, resolved to push
the outposts of his race into the heart of Ulster. This
was John de Courcy, Baron of Stoke Courcy, in Somersetshire,
a cavalier of fabulous physical strength, romantic courage,
and royal descent. When he declared his settled purpose
to be the invasion of Ulster, he found many spirits as
discontented with Fitz-Aldelm's inaction as himself ready
to follow his banner. His inseparable brother-in-arms,
Sir Almaric of St. Laurence, his relative, Jourdain de
Courcy, Sir Robert de la Poer, Sir Geoffrey and Walter
de Marisco, and other Knights to the number of twenty,
and five hundred men at arms, marched with him out of
Dublin. Hardly had they got beyond sight of the city,
when they were attacked by a native force, near Howth,
where Saint Laurence laid in victory the foundation of
that title still possessed by his posterity. On the
fifth day, they came by surprise upon the famous
ecclesiastical city of Downpatrick, one of the first
objects of their adventure. An ancient prophecy had
foretold that the place would be taken by a chief with
birds upon his shield, the bearings of de Courcy, mounted
on a white horse, which de Courcy happened to ride. Thus
the terrors of superstition were added to the terrors of
surprise, and the town being entirely open, the Normans
had only to dash into the midst of its inhabitants. But
the free clansmen of Ulidia, though surprised, were not
intimidated. Under their lord Rory, son of Dunlevy, they
rallied to expel the invader. Cardinal Vivian, the Papal
Legate, who had just arrived from Man and Scotland, on
the neighbouring coast, proffered his mediation, and
besought de Courcy to withdraw from Down. His advice was
peremptorily rejected, and then he exhorted the Ulidians
to fight bravely for their rights. Five several battles
are enumerated as being fought, in this and the following
year, between de Courcy and the men of Down, Louth, and
Antrim, sometimes with success, at others without it,
always with heavy loss and obstinate resistance.

The barony of Lecale, in which Downpatrick stands, is
almost a peninsula, and the barony of the Ardes on the
opposite shore of Strangford Lough is nearly insulated
by Belfast Lough, the Channel, and the tides of Strangford.
With the active co-operation from the sea of Godred, King
of Man, (whose daughter Africa he had married), de Courcy's
hold on that coast became an exceedingly strong one. A
ditch and a few towers would as effectually enclose Lecale
and the Ardes from any landward attack, as if they were
a couple of well-walled cities. Hence, long after "the
Pale" ceased to extend beyond the Boyne, and while the
mountain passes from Meath into Ulster were all in native
hands, these two baronies continued to be succoured and
strengthened by sea, and retained as English possessions.
Reinforced from Dublin and from Man after their first
success, de Courcy's companions stuck to their
castle-building about the shores of Strangford Lough,
while he himself made incursions into the interior, by
land or by sea, fighting a brisk succession of engagements
at Newry, in Antrim, at Coleraine, and on the eastern
shore of Lough Foyle.

At the time these operations were going forward in Ulster,
Milo de Cogan quitted Dublin on a somewhat similar
expedition. We have already said that Murray, eldest
son of Roderick, had claimed, according to ancient usage,
the O'Conor patrimony, his father being Ard-Righ; and
had his claim refused. He now entered into a secret
engagement with de Cogan, whose force is stated by
_Giraldus_ at 500 men-at-arms, and by the Irish annalists
as "a great army." With the smaller force he left Dublin,
but marching through Meath, was joined at Trim by men
from the garrisons de Lacy had planted in East-Meath. So
accompanied, de Cogan advanced on Roscommon, where he
was received by the son of Roderick during the absence
of the Ard-Righ on a visitation among the glens of
Connemara. After three days spent in Roscommon, these
allies marched across the plain of Connaught, directed
their course on Tuam, burning as they went Elphin, Roskeen,
and many other churches. The western clansmen everywhere
fell back before them, driving off their herds and
destroying whatever they could not remove. At Tuam they
found themselves in the midst of a solitude without food
or forage, with an eager enemy swarming from the west
and the south to surround them. They at once decided to
retreat, and no time was to be lost, as the Kern were
already at their heels. From Tuam to Athleague, and from
Athleague to their castles in East-Meath, fled the remnant
of de Cogan's inglorious expedition. Murray O'Conor being
taken prisoner by his own kinsmen, his eyes were plucked
out as the punishment of his treason, and Conor Moinmoy,
the joint-victor with Donald O'Brien over Strongbow at
Thurles, became the _Roydamna_ or successor of his father.

But fresh dissensions soon broke out between the sons
and grandsons of Roderick, and the sons of his brother
Thurlogh, in one of whose deadly conflicts sixteen Princes
of the Sil-Murray fell. Both sides looked beyond Connaught
for help; one drew friends from the northern O'Neills,
another relied on the aid of O'Brien. Conor Moinmoy, in
the year 1186, according to most Irish accounts, banished
his father into Munster, but at the intercession of the
Sil-Murray, his own clan allowed him again to return,
and assigned him a single cantred of land for his
subsistence. From this date we may count the unhappy
Roderick's retirement from the world.

Near the junction of Lough Corrib with Lough Mask, on
the boundary line between Mayo and Galway, stands the
ruins of the once populous monastery and village of Cong.
The first Christian kings of Connaught had founded the
monastery, or enabled St. Fechin to do so by their generous
donations. The father of Roderick had enriched its shrine
by the gift of a particle of the true Cross, reverently
enshrined in a reliquary, the workmanship of which still
excites the admiration of the antiquaries. Here Roderick
retired in the 70th year of his age, and for twelve years
thereafter--until the 29th day of November, 1198, here
he wept and prayed, and withered away. Dead to the world,
as the world to him, the opening of a new grave in the
royal corner at Clonmacnoise was the last incident
connected with his name, which reminded Connaught that
it had lost its once prosperous Prince, and Ireland, that
she had seen her last Ard-Righ, according to the ancient
Milesian Constitution. Powerful Princes of his own and
other houses the land was destined to know for many
generations, before its sovereignty was merged in that
of England, but none fully entitled to claim the
high-sounding, but often fallacious title, of Monarch of
all Ireland.

The public character of Roderick O'Conor has been hardly
dealt with by most modern writers. He was not, like his
father, like Murkertach O'Brien, Malachy II., Brian,
Murkertach of the leathern cloaks, or Malachy I., eminent
as a lawgiver, a soldier, or a popular leader. He does
not appear to have inspired love, or awe, or reverence,
into those of his own household and patrimony, not to
speak of his distant cotemporaries. He was probably a
man of secondary qualities, engulfed in a crisis of the
first importance. But that he is fairly chargeable with
the success of the invaders--or that there was any very
overwhelming success to be charged up to the time of his
enforced retirement from the world--we have failed to
discover. From Dermid's return until his retreat to Cong,
seventeen years had passed away. Seventeen campaigns,
more or less energetic and systematic, the Normans had
fought. Munster was still in 1185--when John Lackland
made his memorable exit and entrance on the scene--almost
wholly in the hands of the ancient clans. Connaught was
as yet without a single Norman garrison. Hugh de Lacy
returning to the government of Dublin, in 1179, on
Fitz-Aldelm's recall, was more than half _Hibernicized_
by marriage with one of Roderick's daughters, and the
Norman tide stood still in Meath. Several strong fortresses
were indeed erected in Desmond and Leinster, by John
Lackland and by de Courcy, in his newly won northern
territory. Ardfinan, Lismore, Leighlin, Carlow,
Castledermot, Leix, Delvin, Kilkay, Maynooth and Trim,
were fortified; but considering who the Anglo-Normans
were, and what they had done elsewhere, even these very
considerable successes may be correctly accounted for
without overcharging the memory of Roderick with folly
and incapacity. That he was personally brave has not
been questioned. That he was politic--or at least capable
of conceiving the politic views of such a statesman as
St. Laurence O'Toole, we may infer from the rank of
Chancellor which he conferred, and the other negotiations
which he entrusted to that great man. That he maintained
his self-respect as a sovereign, both in abstaining from
visiting Henry II. under pretence of hospitality at
Dublin, and throughout all his difficult diplomacy with
the Normans, we are free to conclude. With the Normans
for foes--with a decayed and obsolete national constitution
to patch up--with nominal subordinates more powerful than
himself--with rebellion staring him in the face out of
the eyes of his own children--Roderick O'Conor had no
ordinary part to play in history. The fierce family
pride of our fathers and the vices of their political
system are to be deplored and avoided; let us not make
the last of their national kings the scape-goat for all
his cotemporaries and all his predecessors.



Hugh de Lacy, restored to the supreme authority on the
recall of Fitz-Aldelm in 1179, began to conceive hopes,
as Strongbow had done, of carving out for himself a new
kingdom. After the assassination of O'Ruarc already
related, he assumed without further parley the titles of
Lord of Meath and Breffni. To these titles, he added
that of Oriel or Louth, but his real strength lay in
Meath, where his power was enhanced by a politic second
marriage with Rose, daughter of O'Conor. Among the Irish
he now began to be known as King of the foreigners, and
some such assumption of royal authority caused his recall
for a few months in the year 1180, and his substitution
by de Courcy and Philip de Broasa, in 1184. But his great
qualities caused his restoration a third time to the rank
of Justiciary for Henry, or Deputy for John, whose title
of "Lord of Ireland" was bestowed by his father, at a
Parliament held at Oxford, in 1177.

This founder of the Irish de Lacys is described by
_Giraldus_, who knew him personally, as a man of Gallic
sobriety, ambitious, avaricious, and lustful, of small
stature, and deformed shape, with repulsive features,
and dark, deep-set eyes. By the Irish of the midland
districts he was bitterly detested as a sacrilegious
spoiler of their churches and monasteries, and the most
powerful among their invaders. The murder of O'Ruarc,
whose title of Breffni he had usurped, was attributed to
a deep-laid design; he certainly shared the odium with
the advantage that ensued from it. Nor was his own end
unlike that of his rival. Among other sites for castles,
he had chosen the foundations of the ancient and much
venerated monastery of Durrow, planted by Columbcille,
seven centuries before, in the midst of the fertile region
watered by the Brosna. This act of profanity was fated
to be his last, for, while personally superintending the
work, O'Meyey, a young man of good birth, and foster-brother
to a neighbouring chief of Teffia, known as _Sionnach_,
or "the Fox," struck off his head with a single blow of
his axe and escaped into the neighbouring forest of
Kilclare during the confusion which ensued. De Lacy left
issue--two sons, Hugh and Walter, by his first wife, and
a third, William _Gorm_, by his second--of whom, and of
their posterity, we shall have many occasions to make

In one of the intervals of de Lacy's disfavour, Prince
John, surnamed _Sans-terre_, or "lack-land," was sent
over by his father to strengthen the English interest in
Ireland. He arrived in Waterford, accompanied by a fleet
of sixty ships, on the last of March, 1185, and remained
in the country till the following November. If anything
could excuse the levity, folly and misconduct of the
Prince on this expedition, it would be his youth;--he
was then only eighteen. But Henry had taken every precaution
to ensure success to his favourite son. He was preceded
into Ireland by Archbishop Cuming, the English successor
of St. Laurence; the learned Glanville was his legal
adviser; John de Courcy was his lieutenant, and the
eloquent, but passionate and partial _Giraldus Cambrensis_,
his chaplain and tutor. He had, however, other companions
more congenial to his age and temper, young noblemen as
froward and as extravagant as himself; yet, as he surpassed
them all in birth and rank, so he did in wickedness and
cruelty of disposition. For age he had no reverence, for
virtue no esteem, neither truth towards man, nor decency
towards woman. On his arrival at Waterford, the new
Archbishop of Dublin, John de Courcy, and the principal
Norman nobles, hastened to receive him. With them came
also certain Leinster chiefs, desiring to live at peace
with the new Galls. When, according to the custom of the
country, the chiefs advanced to give John the kiss of
peace, their venerable age was made a mockery by the
young Prince, who met their proffered salutations by
plucking at their beards. This appears to have been as
deadly an insult to the Irish as it is to the Asiatics,
and the deeply offended guests instantly quitted Waterford.
Other follies and excesses rapidly transpired, and the
native nobles began to discover that a royal army
encumbered, rather than led by such a Prince, was not
likely to prove itself invincible. In an idle parade from
the Suir to the Liffey, from the Liffey to the Boyne,
and in issuing orders for the erection of castles, (some
of which are still correctly and others erroneously called
King John's Castles,) the campaign months of the year
were wasted by the King of England's son. One of these
castles, to which most importance was attached, Ardfinan
on the Suir, was no sooner built than taken by Donald
More O'Brien, on midsummer day, when four knights and
its other defenders were slain. Another was rising at
Lismore, on the Blackwater, under the guardianship of
Robert Barry, one of the brood of Nesta, when it was
attacked and Barry slain. Other knights and castellans
were equally unfortunate; Raymond Fitz-Hugh fell at
Leighlin, another Raymond in Idrone, and Roger le Poer
in Ossory. In Desmond, Cormac McCarthy besieged Theobald,
ancestor of the Butlers in Cork, but this brave Prince
--the worthy compeer of O'Brien--was cut off "in a parlee
by them of Cork." The Clan-Colman, or O'Melaghlins, had
risen in West-Meath to reclaim their own, when Henry,
not an hour too soon, recalled his reckless son, and
entrusted, for the last time, the command to Hugh de
Lacy, whose fate has been already related.

In the fluctuations of the power of the invaders after
the death of de Lacy, and during the next reign in England,
one steadfast name appears foremost among the adventurers
--that of the gallant giant, de Courcy, the conqueror of
the Ards of Down. Not only in prowess, but also in piety,
he was the model of all the knighthood of his time. We
are told that he always carried about his person a copy
of the prophecies attributed to Columbcille, and when,
in the year 1186, the relics of the three great saints,
whose dust sanctifies Downpatrick, were supposed to be
discovered by the Bishop of Down in a dream, he caused
them to be translated to the altar-side with all suitable
reverence. Yet all his devotions and pilgrimages did not
prevent him from pushing on the work of conquest whenever
occasion offered. His plantation in Down had time to take
root from the unexpected death of Donald, Prince of
Aileach, in an encounter with the garrison of one of the
new castles, near Newry. (A.D. 1188.) The same year he
took up the enterprise against Connaught, in which Milo
de Cogan had so signally failed, and from which even de
Lacy had, for reasons of his own, refrained. The feuds
of the O'Conor family were again the pretext and the
ground of hope with the invaders, but Donald More O'Brien,
victorious on the Suir and the Shannon, carried his strong
succours to Conor _Moinmoy_ on the banks of the Suca,
near the present Ballinasloe, and both powers combined
marched against de Courcy. Unprepared for this junction,
the Norman retreated towards Sligo, and had reached
Ballysadare, when Flaherty, Lord of Tyrconnell (Donegal),
came against them from the opposite point, and thus placed
between two fires, they were forced to fly through the
rugged passes of the Curlieu mountains, skirmishing as
they went. The only incidents which signalized this
campaign on their side was the burning of Ballysadare
and the plunder of Armagh; to the Irish it was creditable
for the combinations it occasioned. It is cheering in
the annals of those desultory wars to find a national
advantage gained by the joint action of a Munster, a
Connaught, and an Ulster force.

The promise of national unity held out by the alliance
of O'Brien and O'Conor, in the years 1188-'89, had been
followed up by the adhesion of the lords of Breffni,
Ulidia, or Down, the chiefs of the Clan-Colman, and
McCarthy, Prince of Desmond. But the assassination of
Conor Moinmoy, by the partizans of his cousins, extinguished
the hopes of the country, and the peace of his own
province. The old family feuds broke out with new fury.
In vain the aged Roderick emerged from his convent, and
sought with feeble hand to curb the fiery passions of
his tribe; in vain the Archbishops of Armagh and of Tuam
interposed their spiritual authority, A series of
fratricidal contests, for which history has no memory
and no heart, were fought out between the warring branches
of the family during the last ten years of the century,
until by virtue of the strong-arm, Cathal _Crovdearg_,
son of Turlogh More, and younger brother of Roderick,
assumed the sovereignty of Connaught about the year 1200.

In the twelve years which intervened between the death
of _Moinmoy_ and the establishment of the power of Cathal
_Crovdearg_ O'Conor, the Normans had repeated opportunities
for intervention in the affairs of Connaught. William de
Burgh, a powerful Baron of the family of Fitz-Aldelm,
the former Lord Justice, sided with the opponents of
Cathal, while de Courcy, and subsequently the younger de
Lacy, fought on his side. Once at least these restless
Barons changed allies, and fought as desperately against
their former candidate for the succession as they had
before fought for him. In one of these engagements, the
date assigned to which is the year 1190, Sir Armoric St.
Laurence, founder of the Howth family, at the head of a
numerous division, is said to have been cut off with all
his troop. But the fortune of war frequently shifted
during the contest. In the year 1199, Cathal _Crovdearg_,
with his allies de Lacy and de Courcy, was utterly defeated
at Kilmacduagh, in the present county of Galway, and were
it not that the rival O'Conor was sorely defeated, and
trodden to death in the route which ensued, three years
later, Connaught might never have known the vigorous
administration of her "red-handed" hero.

The early career of this able and now triumphant Prince,
as preserved to us by history and tradition, is full of
romantic incidents. He is said to have been born out of
wedlock, and that his mother, while pregnant of him, was
subject to all the cruel persecutions and magical torments
the jealous wife of his father could invent. No sooner
was he born than he became an object of hatred to the
Queen, so that mother and child, after being concealed
for three years in the sanctuaries of Connaught, had to
fly for their lives into Leinster. In this exile, though
early informed of his origin, he was brought up among
the labourers in the field, and was actually engaged,
sickle in hand, cutting the harvest, when a travelling
_Bollscaire_, or newsman from the west, related the events
which enabled him to return to his native province.
"Farewell sickle," he exclaimed, casting it from him
--"now for the sword." Hence "Cathal's farewell to the
rye" was long a proverbial expression for any sudden
change of purpose or of condition. Fortune seems to have
favoured him in most of his undertakings. In a storm upon
Lough Ree, when a whole fleet foundered and its warrior
crew perished, he was one of seven who were saved. Though
in some of his early battles unsuccessful, he always
recovered his ground, kept up his alliances, and returned
to the contest. After the death of the celebrated Donald
More O'Brien (A.D. 1194), he may certainly be considered
the first soldier and first diplomatist among the Irish.
Nor was his lot cast on more favoured days, nor was he
pitted against less able men than those with whom the
brave King of Munster--the stoutest defender of his
fatherland--had so honourably striven. Fortunate it was
for the renown of the Gael, that as one star of the race
set over Thomond, another of equal brilliancy rose to
guide them in the west.

With the end of the century, the career of Cathal's
allies, de Courcy and de Burgh, may be almost said to
have ended. The obituary of the latter bears the date
of 1204. He had obtained large grants from King John of
lands in Connaught--if he could conquer them--which his
vigorous descendants, the Burkes of Clanrickarde, did
their best to accomplish. De Courcy, warring with the
sons of de Lacy, and seeking refuge among the clansmen
of Tyrone, disappears from the stage of Irish affairs.
He is said to have passed on to England, and ended his
days in prison, a victim to the caprice or jealousy of
King John. Many tales are--told of his matchless
intrepidity. His indirect descendants, the Barons of
Kinsale, claim the right to wear their hats before the
King in consequence of one of these legends, which
represents him as the champion Knight of England, taken
from, a dungeon to uphold her honour against a French
challenger. Other tales as ill authenticated are founded
on his career, which, however, in its literal truth, is
unexcelled for hardihood and adventure, except, perhaps,
by the cotemporaneous story of the lion-hearted Richard,
whom he closely resembled. The title of Earl of Ulster,
created for de Courcy in 1181, was transferred in 1205,
by royal patent, to Walter de Lacy, whose only daughter
Maud brought it in the year 1264 to Walter de Burgh, lord
of Connaught, from whose fourth female descendant it
passed in 1354, by her marriage with Lionel, Duke of
Clarence, into the royal family of England.



Ireland, during the first three quarters of the thirteenth
century, produced fewer important events, and fewer great
men, than in the thirty last years of the century preceding.
From the side of England, she was subjected to no imminent
danger in all that interval. The reign of John ending in
1216, and that of Henry III. extending till 1271, were
fully occupied with the insurrections of the Barons, with
French, Scotch, and Welsh wars, family feuds, the rise
and fall of royal favourites, and all those other incidents
which naturally, befall in a state of society where the
King is weak, the aristocracy strong and insolent, and
the commons disunited and despised. During this period
the fusion of Norman, Saxon, and Briton went slowly on,
and the next age saw for the first time a population
which could be properly called English. "Do you take me
for an Englishman?" was the last expression of Norman
arrogance in the reign of King John; but the close of
the reign of Henry III., through the action of commercial
and political causes, saw a very different state of
feeling growing up between the descendants of the races
which contended for mastery under Harold and William.
The strongly marked Norman characteristics lingered in
Ireland half a century later, for it is usually the case
that traits of caste survive longest in colonies and
remote provinces. In Richard de Burgo, commonly called
the Red Earl of Ulster, all the genius and the vices of
the race of Rollo blazed out over Ireland for the last
time, and with terrible effect.

During the first three quarters of the century, our
history, like that of England, is the history of a few
great houses; nation there is, strictly speaking, none.
It will be necessary, therefore, to group together the
acts of two or three generations of men of the same name,
as the only method of finding our way through the shifting
scenes of this stormy period.

The power of the great Connaught family of O'Conor, so
terribly shaken by the fratricidal wars and unnatural
alliances of the sons and grandsons of Roderick, was in
great part restored by the ability and energy of Cathal
_Crovdearg_. In his early struggles for power he was
greatly assisted by the anarchy which reigned among the
English nobles. Mayler Fitz-Henry, the last of Strongbow's
companions, who rose to such eminence, being Justiciary
in the first six years of the century, was aided by
O'Conor to besiege William de Burgo in Limerick, and to
cripple the power of the de Lacys in Meath. In the year
1207, John Gray, Bishop of Norwich, was sent over, as
more likely to be impartial than any ruler personally
interested in the old quarrels, but during his first term
of office, the interdict with which Innocent III. had
smitten England, hung like an Egyptian darkness over the
Anglo-Norman power in Ireland. The native Irish, however,
were exempt from its enervating effects, and Cathal
O'Conor, by the time King John came over in person--in
the year 1210--to endeavour to retrieve the English
interest, had warred down all his enemies, and was of
power sufficient to treat with the English sovereign as
independently as Roderick had done with Henry II.
thirty-five years before. He personally conferred with
John at Dublin, as the O'Neil and other native Princes
did; he procured from the English King the condemnation
of John de Burgo, who had maintained his father's claims
on a portion of Connaught, and he was formally recognised,
according to the approved forms of Norman diplomacy, as
seized of the whole of Connaught, in his own right.

The visit of King John, which lasted from the 20th of
June till the 25th of August, was mainly directed to the
reduction of those intractable Anglo-Irish Barons whom
Fitz-Henry and Gray had proved themselves unable to cope
with. Of these the de Lacys of Meath were the most
obnoxious. They not only assumed an independent state,
but had sheltered de Braos, Lord of Brecknock, one of
the recusant Barons of Wales, and refused to surrender
him on the royal summons. To assert his authority, and
to strike terror into the nobles of other possessions,
John crossed the channel with a prodigious fleet--in the
Irish annals said to consist of 700 sail. He landed at
Crook, reached Dublin, and prepared at once to subdue
the Lacys. With his own army, and the co-operation of
Cathal O'Conor, he drove out Walter de Lacy, Lord of
Meath, who fled to his brother, Hugh de Lacy, since de
Courcy's disgrace, Earl of Ulster. From Meath into Louth
John pursued the brothers, crossing the lough at Carlingford
with his ships, which must have coasted in his company.
From Carlingford they retreated, and he pursued to
Carrickfergus, and from that fortress, unable to resist
a royal fleet and navy, they fled into Man or Scotland,
and thence escaped in disguise into France. With their
guest de Braos, they wrought as gardeners in the grounds
of the Abbey of Saint Taurin Evreux, until the Abbot,
having discovered by their manners the key to their real
rank, negotiated successfully with John for their
restoration to their estates. Walter agreed to pay a
fine of 2,500 marks for his lordship in Meath, and Hugh
4,000 marks for his possessions in Ulster. Of de Braos
we have no particulars; his high-spirited wife and children
were thought to have been starved to death by order of
the unforgiving tyrant in one of his castles. The de
Lacys, on their restoration, were accompanied to Ireland
by a nephew of the Abbot of St. Taurin, on whom they
conferred an estate and the honour of knighthood.

The only other acts of John's sojourn in Ireland was his
treaty with O'Conor, already mentioned, and the mapping
out, on paper, of the intended counties of Oriel (or
Louth), Meath, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Katherlough
(or Carlow), Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick,
and Tipperary, as the only districts in which those he
claimed as his subjects had any possessions. He again
installed the Bishop of Norwich as his justiciary or
lieutenant, who, three years, later, was succeeded by
Henry de Londres, the next Archbishop of Dublin, and he
again (A.D. 1215), by Geoffrey de Marisco, the last of
John's deputies. In the year 1216, Henry III., an infant
ten years of age, succeeded to the English throne, and
the next dozen years the history of the two islands is
slightly connected, except by the fortunes of the family
of de Burgh, whose head, Hubert de Burgh, the Chief
Justiciary, from the accession of the new King, until
the first third of the century had closed, was in reality
the Sovereign of England. Among his other titles he held
that of Lord of Connaught, which he conveyed to his
relative, Richard de Burgo, the son or grandson of William
Fitz-Aldelm de Burgo, about the year 1225. And this brings
us to relate how the house of Clanrickarde rose upon the
flank of the house of O'Conor, and after holding an almost
equal front for two generations, finally overshadowed
its more ancient rival.

While Cathal _Crovdearg_ lived, the O'Conor's held their
own, and rather more than their own, by policy or arms.
Not only did his own power suffer no diminution, but he
more than once assisted the Dalgais and the Eugenians to
expel their invaders from North and South Munster, and
to uphold their ancient rights and laws. During the last
years of John's reign that King and his Barons were
mutually too busy to set aside the arrangement entered
into in 1210. In the first years of Henry it was also
left undisturbed by the English court. In 1221 we read
that the de Lacys, remembering, no doubt, the part he
had played in their expulsion, endeavoured to fortify
Athleague against him, but the veteran King, crossing
the Shannon farther northward, took them in the rear,
compelled them to make peace, and broke down their Castle.
This was almost the last of his victories. In the year
1213 we read in the Annals of "an awful and heavy shower
which fell over Connaught," and was held to presage the
death of its heroic King. Feeling his hour had come,
this Prince, to whom are justly attributed the rare union
of virtues, ardour of mind, chastity of body, meekness
in prosperity, fortitude under defeat, prudence in civil
business, undaunted bravery in battle, and a piety of
life beyond all his cotemporaries--feeling the near
approach of death, retired to the Abbey of Knockmoy,
which he had founded and endowed, and there expired in
the Franciscan habit, at an age which must have bordered
on fourscore. He was succeeded by his son, Hugh O'Conor,
"the hostages of Connaught being in his house" at the
time of his illustrious father's death.

No sooner was Cathal _Crovdearg_ deceased than Hubert de
Burgo procured the grants of the whole Province, reserving
only five cantreds about Athlone for a royal garrison to
be made to Richard de Burgo, his nephew. Richard had
married Hodierna, granddaughter to Cathal, and thus, like
all the Normans, though totally against the Irish custom,
claimed a part of Connaught in right of his wife. But in
the sons of Cathal he found his equal both in policy and
arms, and with the fall of his uncle at the English court
(about the year 1233), Feidlim O'Conor, the successor of
Hugh, taking advantage of the event, made interest at
the Court of Henry III. sufficient to have his overgrown
neighbour stripped of some of his strongholds by royal
order. The King was so impressed with O'Conor's
representations that he wrote peremptorily to Maurice
Fitzgerald, second Lord Offally, then his deputy, "to
root out that barren tree planted in Offally by Hubert
de Burgh, in the madness of his power, and not to suffer
it to shoot forth." Five years later, Feidlim, in return,
carried some of his force, in conjunction with the deputy,
to Henry's aid in Wales, though, as their arrival was
somewhat tardy, Fitzgerald was soon after dismissed on
that account.

Richard de Burgo died in attendance on King Henry in
France (A.D. 1243), and was succeeded by his son, Walter
de Burgo, who continued, with varying fortunes, the
contest for Connaught with Feidlim, until the death of
the latter, in the Black Abbey of Roscommon, in the year
1265. Hugh O'Conor, the son and successor of Feidlim,
continued the intrepid guardian of his house and province
during the nine years he survived his father. In the year
1254, by marriage with the daughter of de Lacy, Earl of
Ulster, that title had passed into the family of de Burgh,
bringing with it, for the time, much substantial, though
distant, strength. It was considered only a secondary
title, and as the eldest son of the first de Lacy remained
Lord of Meath, while the younger took de Courcy's forfeited
title of Ulster, so, in the next generation, did the sons
of this Walter de Burgh, until death and time reunited
both titles in the same person. Walter de Burgh died in
the year 1271, in the Castle of Galway; his great rival,
Feidlim O'Conor, in 1274, was buried in the Abbey of
Boyle. The former is styled King of the English of
Connaught by the Irish Annalists, who also speak of
Feidlim as "the most triumphant and the most feared (by
the invaders) of any King that had been in Connaught
before his time." The relative position of the Irish and
English in that Province, towards the end of this century,
may be judged by the fact, that of the Anglo-Normans
summoned by Edward I. to join him in Scotland in 1299,
but two, Richard de Burgo and Piers de Bermingham, Baron
of Athenry, had then possessions in Connaught. There
were Norman Castles at Athlone, at Athenry, at Galway,
and perhaps at other points; but the natives still swayed
supreme over the plains of Rathcrogan, the plains of
Boyle, the forests and lakes of Roscommon, and the whole
of _Iar_, or West Connaught, from Lough Corrib to the
ocean, with the very important exception of the castle
and port of Galway. A mightier de Burgo than any that
had yet appeared was to see in his house, in the year
1286, "the hostages of all Connaught;" but his life and
death form a distinct epoch in our story and must be
treated separately.



We have already told the tragic fate of the two
adventurers--Fitzstephen and de Cogan--between whom the
whole of Desmond was first partitioned by Henry II. But
there were not wanting other claimants, either by original
grant from the crown, by intermarriage with Irish, or
Norman-Irish heiresses, or new-comers, favourites of John
or of Henry III., or of their Ministers, enriched at the
expense of the native population. Thomas, third son of
Maurice Fitzgerald, claimed partly through his uncle
Fitzstephen, and partly through his marriage with the
daughter of another early adventurer, Sir William Morrie,
whose vast estates on which his descendants were afterwards
known as Earls of Desmond, the White Knight, the Knight
of Glyn, and the Knight of Kerry. Robert de Carew and
Patrick de Courcy claimed as heirs general to de Cogan.
The de Mariscoes, de Barris, and le Poers, were not
extinct; and finally Edward I., soon after his accession,
granted the whole land of Thomond to Thomas de Clare,
son of the Earl of Gloucester, and son-in-law of Maurice,
third Baron of Offally. A contest very similar to that
which was waged in Connaught between the O'Conors and de
Burghs was consequently going on in Munster at the same
time, between the old inhabitants and the new claimants,
of all the three classes just indicated.

The principality of Desmond, containing angles of Waterford
and Tipperary, with all Cork and Kerry, seemed at the
beginning of the thirteenth century in greatest danger
of conquest. The O'Callaghans, Lords of Cinel-Aedha, in
the south of Cork, were driven into the mountains of
Duhallow, where they rallied and held their ground for
four centuries; the O'Sullivans, originally settled along
the Suir, about Clonmel, were forced towards the mountain
seacoast of Cork and Kerry, where they acquired new vigour
in the less fertile soil of Beare and Bantry. The native
families of the Desies, from their proximity to the port
of Waterford, were harassed and overrun, and the ports
of Dungarvan, Youghal, and Cork, being also taken and
garrisoned by the founder of the earldom of Desmond, easy
entrance and egress by sea could always be obtained for
his allies, auxiliaries, and supplies. It was when these
dangers were darkening and menacing on every side that
the family of McCarthy, under a succession of able and
vigorous chiefs, proved themselves worthy of the headship
of the Eugenian race. Cormac McCarthy, who had expelled
the first garrison from Waterford, ere he fell in a parley
before Cork, had defeated the first enterprises of
Fitzstephen and de Cogan; he left a worthy son in Donald
na Curra, who, uniting his own co-relations, and acting
in conjunction with O'Brien and O'Conor, retarded by his
many exploits the progress of the invasion in Munster.
He recovered Cork and razed King John's castle at
Knockgraffon on the Suir. He left two surviving sons, of
whom the eldest, Donald _Gott_, or the Stammerer, took
the title of _More_, or Great, and his posterity remained
princes of Desmond, until that title merged in the earldom
of Glencare (A.D. 1565); the other, Cormac, after taking
his brother prisoner compelled him to acknowledge him as
lord of the four baronies of Carbury. From this Cormac
the family of McCarthy Reagh descended, and to them the
O'Driscolls, O'Donovans, O'Mahonys, and other Eugenian
houses became tributary. The chief residence of McCarthy
Reagh was long fixed at Dunmanway; his castles were also
at Baltimore, Castlehaven, Lough-Fyne, and in Inis-Sherkin
and Clear Island. The power of McCarthy More extended at
its greatest reach from Tralee in Kerry to Lismore in
Waterford. In the year 1229, Dermid McCarthy had peaceable
possession of Cork, and founded the Franciscan Monastery
there. Such was his power, that, according to Hamner and
his authorities, the Geraldines "dare not for twelve
years put plough into the ground in Desmond." At last,
another generation rose, and fierce family feuds broke
out between the branches of the family. The Lord of
Carbury now was Fineen, or Florence, the most celebrated
man of his name, and one whose power naturally encroached
upon the possession of the elder house. John, son of
Thomas Fitzgerald of Desmond, seized the occasion to make
good the enormous pretension of his family. In the
expedition which he undertook for this purpose, in the
year 1260, he was joined by the Justiciary, William Dene,
by Walter de Burgo, Earl of Ulster, by Walter de
Riddlesford, Baron of Bray, by Donnel Roe, a chief of
the hostile house of McCarthy. The Lord of Carbury united
under his standard the chief Eugenian families, not only
of the Coast, but even of McCarthy More's principality,
and the battle was fought with great ferocity at
Callan-Glen, near Kenmare, in Kerry. There the Anglo-Normans
received the most complete defeat they had yet experienced
on Irish ground. John Fitz-Thomas, his son Maurice, eight
barons, fifteen knights, and "countless numbers of common
soldiers were slain." The Monastery of Tralee received
the dead body of its founder and his son, while Florence
McCarthy, following up his blow, captured and broke down
in swift succession all the English castles in his
neighbourhood, including those of Macroom, Dunnamark,
Dunloe, and Killorglin. In besieging one of these castles,
called Ringrone, the victorious chief, in the full tide
of conquest, was cut off, and his brother, called the
_Atheleireach_ (or suspended priest), succeeded to his
possessions. The death of the victor arrested the panic
of the defeat, but Munster saw another generation before
her invaders had shaken off the depression of the battle
of Callan-glen.

Before the English interest had received this severe blow
in the south, a series of events had transpired in
Leinster, going to show that its aspiring barons had been
seized with the madness which precedes destruction.
William, Earl Marshal and Protector of England during
the minority of Henry III., had married Isabella, the
daughter of Strongbow and granddaughter of Dermid, through
whom he assumed the title of Lord of Leinster. He procured
the office of Earl Marshal of Ireland--originally conferred
on the first de Lacy--for his own nephew, and thus
converted the de Lacys into mortal enemies. His son and
successor Richard, having made himself obnoxious, soon
after his accession to that title, to the young King, or
to Hubert de Burgh, was outlawed, and letters were
despatched to the Justiciary, Fitzgerald, to de Burgo,
de Lacy, and other Anglo-Irish lords, if he landed in
Ireland, to seize his person, alive or dead, and send it
to England. Strong in his estates and alliances, the
young Earl came; while his enemies employed the wily
Geoffrey de Mountmorres to entrap him into a conference,
in order to his destruction. The meeting was appointed
for the first day of April, 1234, and while the outlawed
Earl was conversing with those who had invited him, an
affray began among their servants by design, he himself
was mortally wounded and carried to one of Fitzgerald's
castles, where he died. He was succeeded in his Irish
honours by three of his brothers, who all died without
heirs male. Anselme, the last Earl Marshal of his family,
dying in 1245, left five co-heiresses, Maud, Joan, Isabel,
Sybil, and Eva, between whom the Irish estates--or such
portions of them in actual possession--were divided. They
married respectively the Earls of Norfolk, Suffolk,
Gloucester, Ferrers, and Braos, or Brace, Lord of Brecknock,
in whose families, for another century or more, the
secondary titles were Catherlogh, Kildare, Wexford,
Kilkenny, and Leix,--those five districts being supposed,
most absurdly, to have come into the Marshal family, from
the daughter of Strongbow. The false knights and dishonoured
nobles concerned in the murder of Richard Marshal were
disappointed of the prey which had been promised them--the
partition of his estates. And such was the horror which
the deed excited in England, that it hastened the fall
of Hubert de Burgh, though Maurice Fitzgerald, of
Offally--ancestor of the Kildare family--having cleared
himself of all complicity in it by oath--was continued
as Justiciary for ten years longer. In the year 1245,
for his tardiness in joining the King's army in Wales,
he was succeeded by the false-hearted Geoffrey de
Mountmorres, who held the office till 1247. During the
next twenty-five years, about half as many Justices were
placed and displaced, according to the whim of the
successive favourites at the English Court. In 1252,
Prince Edward, afterwards Edward I., was appointed with
the title of Lord Lieutenant, but never came over. Nor
is there in the series of rulers we have numbered, with,
perhaps, two exceptions, any who have rendered their
names memorable by great exploits, or lasting legislation.
So little inherent power had the incumbents of the highest
office--unless when, they employed their own proper forces
in their sovereign's name--that we read without surprise,
how the bold mountaineers of Wicklow, at the opening of
the century (A.D. 1209) slaughtered the Bristolians of
Dublin, engaged at their archery in Cullenswood, and at
the close of it, how "one of the Kavanaghs, of the blood
of McMurrogh, living at Leinster," "displayed his standards
within sight of the city." Yet this is commonly spoken
of as a country overrun by a few score Norman Knights,
in a couple of campaigns!

The maintenance of the conquest was in these years less
the work of the King's Justices than of the great houses.
Of these, two principally profited, by the untimely
felling of that great tree which overshadowed all others
in Leinster, the Marshals. The descendants of the eldest
son of Maurice Fitzgerald clung to their Leinster
possessions, while their equally vigorous cousins pushed
their fortunes in Desmond. Maurice, grandson of Maurice,
and second Baron of Offally, from the year 1229 to the
year 1246, was three times Lord Justice. "He was a valiant
Knight, a very pleasant man, and inferior to none in the
kingdom," by Matthew Paris's account. He introduced the
Franciscan and Dominican orders into Ireland, built many
castles, churches, and abbeys at Youghal, at Sligo, at
Armagh, at Maynooth, and in other places. In the year
1257, he was wounded in single combat by O'Donnell, Lord
of Tyrconnell, near Sligo, and died soon after in the
Franciscan habit in Youghal. He left his successor so
powerful, that in the year 1264, there being a feud
between the Geraldines and de Burghs, he seized the Lord
Justice and the whole de Burgh party at a conference at
Castledermot, and carried them to his own castles of Lea
and Dunamase as prisoners. In 1272, on the accidental
death of the Lord Justice Audley, by a fall from his
horse, "the council" elected this the third Baron of
Offally in his stead.

The family of Butler were of slower growth, but of equal
tenacity with the Geraldines. They first seem to have
attached themselves to the Marshals, for whom they were
indebted for their first holding in Kilkenny. At the
Conference of Castledermot, Theobald Butler, the fourth
in descent from the founder of the house, was numbered
among the adherents of de Burgh, but a few years later
we find him the ally of the Geraldines in the invasion
of Thomond. In the year 1247, the title of Lord of Carrick
had been conferred on him, which in 1315 was converted
into Earl of Carrick, and this again into that of Ormond.
The Butlers of this house, when they had attained their
growth of power, became the hereditary rivals of the
Kildare Geraldines, whose earldom dates from 1316, as
that of Ormond does from 1328, and Desmond from 1329.

The name of Maurice, the third Baron of Offally, and
uncle of John, the first Earl of Kildare, draws our
attention naturally to the last enterprise of his life
--the attempt to establish his son-in-law, Thomas de
Clare, in possession of Thomond. The de Clares, Earls of
Gloucester, pretended a grant from Henry II. of the whole
of Thomond, as their title to invade that principality;
but their real grant was bestowed by Edward I., in the
year 1275. The state of the renowned patrimony of Brian
had long seemed to invite such an aggression. Murtogh,
son of Donnell More, who succeeded his father in 1194,
had early signalized himself by capturing the castles of
Birr, Kinnetty, Ballyroane and Lothra, in Leix, and razing
them to the ground. But these castles were reconstructed
in 1213, when the feuds between the rival O'Briens--Murtogh
and Donogh Cairbre--had paralyzed the defence force of
Thomond. It was, doubtless, in the true divide-and-conquer
spirit, that Henry the Third's advisers confirmed to
Donogh the lordship of Thomond in 1220, leaving to his
elder brother the comparatively barren title of King of
Munster. Both brothers, by alternately working on their
hopes and fears, were thus for many years kept in a state
of dependence on the foreigner. One gleam of patriotic
virtue illumines the annals of the house of O'Brien,
during the first forty years of the century--when, in
the year 1225, Donogh Cairbre assisted Felim O'Conor to
resist the Anglo-Norman army, then pouring over Connaught,
in the quarrel of de Burgh. Conor, the son of Donogh,
who succeeded his father in the year 1242, animated by
the example of his cotemporaries, made successful war
against the invaders of his Province, more especially in
the year 1257, and the next year; attended with O'Conor
the meeting at Beleek, on the Erne, where Brian O'Neil
was acknowledged, by both the Munster and the Connaught
Prince, as _Ard-Righ_. The untimely end of this attempt
at national union will be hereafter related; meantime,
we proceed to mention that, in 1260, the Lord of Thomond
defeated the Geraldines and their Welsh auxiliaries, at
Kilbarran, in Clare. He was succeeded the following season
by his son, Brian Roe, in whose time Thomas de Clare
again put to the test of battle his pretensions to the
lordship of Thomond.

It was in the year 1277, that, supported by his
father-in-law, the Kildare Fitzgerald, de Clare marched
into Munster, and sought an interview with the O'Brien.
The relation of gossip, accounted sacred among the Irish,
existed between them, but Brien Roe, having placed himself
credulously in the hands of his invaders, was cruelly
drawn to pieces between two horses. All Thomond rose in
arms, under Donogh, son of Brian, to revenge this infamous
murder. Near Ennis the Normans met a terrible defeat,
from which de Clare and Fitzgerald fled for safety into
the neighbouring Church of Quin. But Donogh O'Brien burned
the Church over their heads, and forced them to surrender
at discretion. Strange to say they were held to ransom,
on conditions, we may suppose, sufficiently hard. Other
days of blood were yet to decide the claims of the family
of de Clare. In 1287, Turlogh, then the O'Brien, defeated
an invasion similar to the last, in which Thomas de Clare
was slain, together with Patrick Fitzmaurice of Kerry,
Richard Taafe, Richard Deriter, Nicholas Teeling, and
other knights, and Gerald, the fourth Baron of Offally,
brother-in-law to de Clare, was mortally wounded. After
another interval, Gilbert de Clare, son of Thomas, renewed
the contest, which he bequeathed to his brother Richard.
This Richard, whose name figures more than his brother's
in the events of his time, made a last effort, in the
year 1318, to make good the claims of his family. On the
5th of May, in that year, he fell in battle against
McCarthy and O'Brien, and there fell with him Sir Thomas
de Naas, Sir Henry Capell, Sir James and Sir John Caunton,
with four other knights, and a proportion of men-at-arms.
From thenceforth that proud offshoot of the house of
Gloucester, which, at its first settling in Munster,
flourished as bravely as the Geraldines themselves, became
extinct in the land.

Such were the varying fortunes of the two races in Leinster
and Munster, and such the men who rose and fell. We must
now turn to the contest as maintained at the same period
in Meath and Ulster.



We may estimate the power of the de Lacy family in the
second generation, from the fact that their expulsion
required a royal army and navy, commanded by the King in
person, to come from England. Although pardoned by John,
the brothers took care never to place themselves in that
cowardly tyrant's power, and they observed the same
precaution on the accession of his son, until well assured
that he did not share the antipathy of his father. After
their restoration the Lacys had no rivals among the
Norman-Irish except the Marshal family, and though both
houses in half a century became extinct, not so those
they had planted or patronized, or who claimed from them
collaterally. In Meath the Tuites, Cusacks, Flemings,
Daltons, Petits, Husseys, Nangles, Tyrrells, Nugents,
Verdons, and Gennevilles, struck deep into the soil. The
co-heiresses, Margaret and Matilda de Lacy, married Lord
Theobald de Verdon and Sir Geoffrey de Genneville, between
whom the estate of their father was divided; both these
ladies dying without male issue, the lordship was, in
1286, claimed by Richard de Burgo, Earl of Ulster, whose
mother was their cousin-germain. But we are anticipating

No portion of the island, if we except, perhaps, Wexford
and the shores of Strangford Lough, was so thoroughly
castellated as the ancient Meath from the sea to the
Shannon. Trim, Kells and Durrow were the strongest holds;
there were keeps or castles at Ardbraccan, Slane, Rathwyre,
Navan, Skreen, Santry, Clontarf, and Castleknock--for
even these places, almost within sight of Dublin, were
included in de Lacy's original grant. None of these
fortresses could have been more than a few miles distant
from the next, and once within their thick-ribbed walls,
the Norman, Saxon, Cambrian, or Danish serf or tenant
might laugh at the Milesian arrows and battle-axes without.
With these fortresses, and their own half-Irish origin
and policy, the de Lacys, father and son, held Meath for
two generations in general subjection. But the banishment
of the brothers in 1210, and the death of Walter of Meath,
presented the family of O'Melaghlin and the whole of the
Methian tribes with opportunities of insurrection not to
be neglected. We read, therefore, under the years 1211,
'12 and '13, that Art O'Melaghlin and Cormac, his son,
took the castles of Killclane, Ardinurcher, Athboy, and
Smerhie, killing knights and wardens, and enriching
themselves with booty; that the whole English of Ireland
turned out _en masse_ to the rescue of their brethren in
Meath; that the castles of Birr, Durrow, and Kinnetty
were strengthened against Art, and a new one erected at
Clonmacnoise. After ten years of exile, the banished de
Lacys returned, and by alliance with O'Neil, no less than
their own prowess, recovered all their former influence.
Cormac, son of Art, left a son and successor also named
Art, who, we read at the year 1264, gave the English of
Meath a great defeat upon the Brosna, where he that was
not slain was drowned. Following the blow, he burned
their villages and broke the castles of the stranger
throughout Devlin, Calry, and Brawny, and replaced in
power over them the McCoghlans, Magawleys, and O'Breens,
from whom he took hostages according to ancient custom.
Two years afterwards he repulsed Walter de Burgh at
Shannon harbour, driving his men into the river, where
many of them perished. At his death (A.D. 1283) he is
eulogized for having destroyed seven-and-twenty English
castles in his lifetime. From these exploits he was called
Art _na Caislean_, a remarkable distinction, when we
remember that the Irish were, up to this time, wholly
unskilled in besieging such strongholds as the Norman
engineers knew so well how to construct. His only rival
in Meath in such meritorious works of destruction was
Conor, son of Donnell, and O'Melaghlin of East-Meath, or
_Bregia_, whose death is recorded at the year 1277, "as
one of the three men in Ireland" whom the midland English
most feared.

From the ancient mensal the transition is easy to the
north. The border-land of Breffni, whose chief was the
first of the native nobles that perished by Norman perfidy,
was at the beginning of the century swayed by Ulgarg
O'Rourke. Of Ulgarg we know little, save that in the year
1231 he "died on his way to the river Jordan"--a not
uncommon pilgrimage with the Irish of those days. Nial,
son of Congal, succeeded, and about the middle of the
century we find Breffni divided into two lordships, from
the mountain of Slieve-an-eiran eastward, or Cavan, being
given to Art, son of Cathal, and from the mountain
westward, or Leitrim, to Donnell, son of Conor, son of
Tiernan, de Lacy's victim. This subdivision conduced
neither to the strengthening of its defenders nor to the
satisfaction of O'Conor, under whose auspices it was
made. Family feuds and household treasons were its natural
results for two or three generations; in the midst of
these broils two neighbouring families rose into greater
importance, the O'Reillys in Cavan and the Maguires in
Fermanagh. Still, strong in their lake and mountain
region, the tribes of Breffni were comparatively unmolested
by foreign enemies, while the stress of the northern
battle fell upon the men of Tyrconnell and Tyrone, of
Oriel and of the coast country, from Carlingford to the

The borders of Tyrconnell and Tyrone, like every other
tribe-land, were frequently enlarged or contracted,
according to the vigour or weakness of their chiefs or
neighbours. In the age of which we now speak, Tyrconnell
extended from the Erne to the Foyle, and Tyrone from the
Foyle to Lough Neagh, with the exception of the extreme
north of Berry and Antrim, which belonged to the O'Kanes.
It was not till the fourteenth century that the O'Neils
spread their power east of Lough Neagh, over those baronies
of Antrim long known as north and south _Clan-Hugh-Buidhe_,
(Clandeboy.) North Antrim was still known as Dalriada,
and South Antrim and Down, as Ulidia. Oriel, which has
been usually spoken of in this history as Louth, included
angles of Monaghan and Armagh, and was anciently the most
extensive lordship in Ulster. The chieftain families of
Tyrconnell were the O'Donnells; of Tyrone, the O'Neils
and McLaughlins; of Dalriada, O'Kanes, O'Haras, and
O'Shields; of Ulidia, the Magennis of Iveagh and the
Donlevys of Down; of Oriel, the McMahons and O'Hanlons.
Among these populous tribes the invaders dealt some of
their fiercest blows, both by land and sea, in the
thirteenth century. But the north was fortunate in its
chiefs; they may fairly contest the laurel with the
O'Conors, O'Briens and McCarthys of the west and south.

In the first third of the century, Hugh O'Neil, who
succeeded to the lordship of Tyrone in 1198, and died in
1230, was cotemporary with Donnell More O'Donnell, who,
succeeding to the lordship of Tyrconnell in 1208, died
in 1241, after an equally long and almost equally
distinguished career. Melaghlin O'Donnell succeeded
Donnell More from '41 to '47, Godfrey from '48 to '57,
and Donnell Oge from 1257 to 1281, when he was slain in
battle. Hugh O'Neil was succeeded in Tyrone by Donnell
McLaughlin, of the rival branch of the same stock, who
in 1241 was subdued by O'Donnell, and the ascendancy of
the family of O'Neil established in the person of Brian,
afterwards chosen King of Ireland, and slain at Down.
Hugh Boy, or the Swarthy, was elected O'Neil on Brian's
death, and ruled till the year 1283, when he was slain
in battle, as was his next successor, Brian, in the year
1295. These names and dates are worthy to be borne in
mind, because on these two-great houses mainly devolved
the brunt of battle in their own province.

These northern chiefs had two frontiers to guard or to
assail: the north-eastern, extending from the glens of
Antrim to the hills of Mourne, and the southern stretching
from sea to sea, from Newry to Sligo. This country was
very assailable by sea; to those whose castles commanded
its harbours and rivers, the fleets of Bristol, Chester,
Man, and Dublin could always carry supplies and
reinforcements. By the interior line one road threaded
the Mourne mountains, and deflected towards Armagh, while
another, winding through west Breffni, led from Sligo
into Donegal by the cataract of Assaroe,--the present
Ballyshannon. Along these ancient lines of communication,
by fords, in mountain passes, and near the landing places
for ships, the struggle for the possession of that end
of the Island went on, at intervals, whenever large bodies
of men could be spared from garrisons and from districts
already occupied.

In the year 1210, we find that there was an English Castle
at Cael-uisge, now Castle-Caldwell, on Lough Erne, and
that it was broke down and its defenders slain by Hugh
O'Neil and Donald More O'Donnell acting together. After
this event we have no trace of a foreign force in the
interior of Ulster for several years. Hugh O'Neil, who
died in 1230, is praised by the Bards for "never having
given hostages, pledges, or tributes to English or Irish,"
which seems a compliment well founded. During several
years following that date the war was chiefly centred in
Connaught, and the fighting men of the north who took
part in it were acting as allies to the O'Conors. Donald
More O'Donnell had married a daughter of Cathal Crovdearg,
so that ties of blood, as well as neighbouring interests,
united these two great families. In the year 1247, an
army under Maurice Fitzgerald, then Lord Justice, crossed
the Erne in two divisions, one above and the other at
Ballyshannon. Melaghlin O'Donnell was defending the
passage of the river when he was taken unexpectedly in
the rear by those who had crossed higher up, and thus
was defeated and slain. Fitzgerald then ravaged Tyrconnell,
set up a rival chief O'Canavan, and rebuilt the Castle
at Cael-uisge, near Beleek. Ten years afterwards Godfrey
O'Donnell, the successor of Melaghlin, avenged the defeat
at Ballyshannon, in the sanguinary battle of Credran,
near Sligo, where engaging Fitzgerald in single combat,
he gave him his death-stroke. From wounds received at
Credran, Godfrey himself, after lingering twelve months
in great suffering, died. But his bodily afflictions did
not prevent him discharging all the duties of a great
Captain; he razed a second time the English Castle on
Lough Erne, and stoutly protected his own borders against
the pretensions of O'Neil, being carried on his bier in
the front of the battle of Lough Swilly in 1258.

It was while Tyrconnell was under the rule of this heroic
soldier that the unfortunate feud arose between the
O'Neils and O'Donnells. Both families, sprung from a
common ancestor, of equal antiquity and equal pride,
neither would yield a first place to the other. "Pay me
my tribute," was O'Neil's demand; "I owe you no tribute,
and if I did---" was O'Donnell's reply. The O'Neil at
this time--Brian--aspiring to restore the Irish sovereignty
in his own person, was compelled to begin the work of
exercising authority over his next neighbour. More than
one border battle was the consequence, not only with
Godfrey, but with Donnell Oge, his successor. In the year
1258, Brian was formally recognized by O'Conor and O'Brien
as chief of the kingdom, in the conference of Cael-uisge,
and two years later, at the battle of Down, gallantly
laid down his life, in defence of the kingdom he claimed
to govern. In this most important battle no O'Donnell is
found fighting with King Brian, though immediately
afterwards we find Donnell Oge of Tyrconnell endeavouring
to subjugate Tyrone, and active afterwards in the aid of
his cousins, the grandsons of Cathal Crovdearg, in

The Norman commander in this battle was Stephen de
Longespay, then Lord Justice, Earl of Salisbury in
England, and Count de Rosman in France. His marriage with
the widow of Hugh de Lacy and daughter of de Riddlesford
connected him closely with Irish affairs, and in the
battle of Down he seems to have had all the Anglo-Irish
chivalry, "in gold and iron," at his back. With King
Brian O'Neil fell, on that crimson day, the chiefs of
the O'Hanlons, O'Kanes, McLaughlins, O'Gormlys, McCanns,
and other families who followed his banner. The men of
Connaught suffered hardly less than those of Ulster.
McDermott, Lord of Moylurgh, Cathal O'Conor, O'Gara,
McDonogh, O'Mulrony, O'Quinn, and other chiefs were among
the slain. In Hugh _Bwee_ O'Neil the only hope of the
house of Tyrone seemed now to rest; and his energy and
courage were all taxed to the uttermost to retain the
place of his family in the Province, beating back rapacious
neighbours on the one hand, and guarding against foreign
enemies on the other. For twelve years, Hugh _Bwee_
defended his lordship against all aggressors. In 1283,
he fell at the hands of the insurgent chiefs of Oriel
and Breffni, and a fierce contest for the succession
arose between his son Brian and Donald, son of King Brian
who fell at Down. A contest of twelve years saw Donald
successful over his rival (A.D. 1295), and his rule
extended from that period until 1325, when he died at
Leary's lake, in the present diocese of Clogher.

It was this latter Donnell or Donald O'Neil, who, towards
the end of his reign, addressed to Pope John XXII. (elected
to the pontificate in 1316) that powerful indictment
against the Anglo-Normans, which has ever since remained
one of the cardinal texts of our history. It was evidently
written after the unsuccessful attempt, in which Donald
was himself a main actor, to establish Edward Bruce on
the throne of Ireland. That period we have not yet
reached, but the merciless character of the warfare waged
against the natives of the country could hardly have been
aggravated by Bruce's defeat. "They oblige us by open
force," says the Ulster Prince, "to give up to them our
houses and our lands, and to seek shelter like wild beasts
upon the mountains, in woods, marshes, and caves. Even
there we are not secure against their fury; they even
envy us those dreary and terrible abodes; they are
incessant and unremitting in their pursuit after us,
endeavouring to chase us from among them; they lay claim
to every place in which they can discover us with
unwarranted audacity and injustice; they allege that the
whole kingdom belongs to them of right, and that an
Irishman has no longer a right to remain in his own

After specifying in detail the proofs of these and other
general charges, the eloquent Prince concludes by uttering
the memorable vow that the Irish "will not cease to fight
against and among their invaders until the day when they
themselves, for want of power, shall have ceased to do
us harm, and that a Supreme Judge shall have taken just
vengeance on their crimes, which we firmly hope will
sooner or later come to pass."



Though the victorious and protracted career of Richard
de Burgh, the "Red Earl" of Ulster, might, without
overstraining, be included in the Norman period, yet, as
introductory to the memorable advent and election of King
Edward Bruce, we must leave it for the succeeding book.
Having brought down the narrative, as regards all the
provinces, to the end of the first century, from the
invasion, we must now cast a backward glance on the events
of that hundred years before passing into the presence
of other times and new combinations.

"There were," says _Giraldus Cambriensis_, "three sundry
sorts of servitors which served in the realm of Ireland,
Normans, Englishmen, and the Cambrians, which were the
first conquerors of the land: the first were in most
credit and estimation, the second next, but the last were
not accounted or regarded of." "The Normans," adds the
author, "were very fine in their apparel, and delicate
in their diets; they could not feed but upon dainties,
neither could their meat digest without wine at each
meal; yet would they not serve in the marches or any
remote place against the enemy, neither would they lie
in garrison to keep any remote castle or fort, but, would
be still about their lord's side to serve and guard his
person; they would be where they might be full and have
plenty; they could talk and brag, swear, and stare, and,
standing in their own reputation, disdain all others."
This is rather the language of a partizan than of an
historian; of one who felt and spoke for those, his own
kinsmen many of them, who, he complains, although the
first to enter on the conquest, were yet held in contempt
and disdain, "and only new-comers called to council."

The Normans were certainly the captains in every campaign
from Robert Fitzstephen to Stephen de Longespay. They
made the war, and they maintained it. In the rank and
file, and even among the knighthood, men of pure Welsh,
English, and Flemish and Danish blood, may be singled
out, but each host was marshalled by Norman skill, and
every defeat was borne with Norman fortitude. It may seem
strange, then, that these greatest masters of the art of
war, as waged in the middle ages, invincible in England,
France, Italy, and the East, should, after a hundred
years, be no nearer to the conquest of Ireland than they
were at the end of the tenth year.

The main causes of the fluctuations of the war were, no
doubt, the divided military command, and the frequent
change of their civil authorities. They had never marched
or colonized before without their Duke or King at their
head, and in their midst. One supreme chief was necessary
to keep to any common purpose the minds of so many proud,
intractable nobles. The feuds of the de Lacys with the
Marshals, of the Geraldines with the de Burghs, broke
out periodically during the thirteenth century, and were
naturally seized upon, by the Irish as opportunities for
attacking either or both. The secondary nobles and all
the adventurers understood their danger and its cause,
when they petitioned Henry II. and Henry III. so often
and so urgently as they did, that a member of the royal
family might reside permanently in Ireland, to exercise
the supreme authority, military and civil.

The civil administration of the colonists passing into
different hands every three or four years, suffered from
the absence of permanent authority. The law of the marches
was, of necessity, the law of the strong hand, and no
other. But _Cambrensis_, whose personal prejudices are
not involved in this fact, describes the walled towns as
filled with litigation in his time. "There was," he says,
"such _lawing_ and vexation, that the veteran was more
troubled in _lawing_ within the town than he was in peril
at large with the enemy." This being the case, we must
take with great caution the bold assertions so often made
of the zeal with which the natives petitioned the Henrys
and Edwards that the law of England might be extended to
them. Certain Celts whose lands lay within or upon the
marches, others who compounded with their Norman invaders,
a chief or prince, hard pressed by domestic enemies, may
have wished to be in a position to quote Norman law
against Norman spoilers, but the popular petitions which
went to England, beseeching the extension of its laws to
Ireland, went only from the townsmen of Dublin, and the
new settlers in Leinster or Meath, harassed and impoverished
by the arbitrary jurisdiction of manorial courts, from
which they had no appeal. The great mass of the Irish
remained as warmly attached to their Brehon code down to
the seventeenth century as they were before the invasion
of Norman or Dane. It may sound barbarous to our ears
that, according to that code, murder should be compounded
by an _eric_, or fine; that putting out the eyes should
be the usual punishment of treason; that maiming should
be judiciously inflicted for sundry offences; and that
the land of a whole clan should be equally shared between
the free members of that clan. We are not yet in a position
to form an intelligent opinion upon the primitive
jurisprudence of our ancestors, but the system itself
could not have been very vicious which nourished in the
governed such a thirst for justice, that, according to
one of their earliest English law reformers, they were
anxious for its execution, even against themselves.

The distinction made in the courts of the adventurers
against natives of the soil, even when long domiciled
within their borders, was of itself a sufficient cause
of war between the races. In the eloquent letter of the
O'Neil to Pope John XXII.--written about the year 1318--we
read, that no man of Irish origin could sue in an English
court; that no Irishman, within the marches, could make
a legal will; that his property was appropriated by his
English neighbours; and that the murder of an Irishman
was not even a felony punishable by fine. This latter
charge would appear incredible, if we had not the record
of more than one case where the homicide justified his
act by the plea that his victim was a mere native, and
where the plea was held good and sufficient.

A very vivid picture of Hiberno-Norman town-life in those
days is presented to us in an old poem, on the "Entrenchment
of the Town of Ross," in the year 1265. We have there
the various trades and crafts-mariners, coat-makers,
fullers, cloth-dyers and sellers, butchers, cordwainers,
tanners, hucksters, smiths, masons, carpenters, arranged
by guilds, and marching to the sound of flute and tabor,
under banners bearing a fish and platter, a painted ship,
and other "rare devices." On the walls, when finished,
cross-bows hung, with store of arrows ready to shoot;
when the city horn sounded twice, burgess and bachelor
vied with each other in warlike haste. In time of peace
the stranger was always welcome in the streets; he was
free to buy and sell without toll or tax, and to admire
the fair dames who walked the quiet ramparts, clad in
mantles of green, or russet, or scarlet. Such is the
poetic picture of the town of Ross in the thirteenth
century; the poem itself is written in Norman-French,
though evidently intended for popular use, and the author
is called "Friar Michael of Kildare." It is pretty evident
from this instance, which is not singular, that a century
after the first invasion, the French language was still
the speech of part, if not the majority, of these
Hiberno-Norman townsmen.

So walls, and laws, and language arose, a triple barrier
between the races. That common religion which might be
expected to form a strong bond between them had itself
to adopt a twofold organization. Distinctions of nationality
were carried into the Sanctuary and into the Cloister.
The historian _Giraldus_, in preaching at Dublin against
the alleged vices of the native Clergy, sounded the first
note of a long and bitter controversy. He was promptly
answered from the same pulpit on the next occasion by
Albin O'Mulloy, the patriot Abbot of Baltinglass. In
one of the early Courts or Parliaments of the Adventurers,
they decreed that no Monastery in those districts of
which they had possession, should admit any but natives
of England, as novices,--a rule which, according to
O'Neil's letter, was faithfully acted upon by English
Dominicans, Franciscans, Benedictines, and regular canons.
Some of the great Cistercian houses on the marches, in
which the native religious predominated, adopted a
retaliatory rule, for which they were severely censured
by the general Chapter of their Order. But the length to
which this feud was carried may be imagined by the sweeping
charge O'Neil brings against "Brother Symon, a relative
of the Bishop of Coventry," and other religious of his
nation, who openly maintained, he says, that the killing
of a mere Irishman was no murder.

When this was the feeling on one side, or was believed
to be the feeling, we cannot wonder that the war should
have been renewed as regularly as the seasons. No sooner
was the husbandman in the field than the knight was upon
the road. Some peculiarities of the wars of those days
gleam out at intervals through the methodic indifference
to detail of the old annals, and reveal to us curious
conditions of society. In the Irish country, where
castle-building was but slowly introduced, we see, for
example, that the usual storage for provisions, in time
of war, was in churches and churchyards. Thus de Burgh,
in his expedition to Mayo, in 1236, "left neither rick
nor basket of corn in the large churchyard of Mayo, or
in the yard of the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel,
and carried away eighty baskets out of the churches
themselves." When we read, therefore, as we frequently
do, of both Irish and Normans plundering churches in the
land of their enemies, we are not to suppose the plunder
of the sanctuary. Popularly this seizing the supplies of
an enemy on consecrated ground was considered next to
sacrilege; and well it was for the fugitives in the
sanctuary in those iron times that it should be so
considered. Yet not the less is it necessary for us to
distinguish a high-handed military measure from actual
sacrilege, for which there can be no apology, and hardly
any earthly atonement.

In their first campaigns the Irish had one great advantage
over the Normans in their familiarity with the country.
This helped them to their first victories. But when the
invaders were able to set up rival houses against each
other, and to secure the co-operation of natives, the
advantage was soon equalized. Great importance was attached
to the intelligence and good faith of the guides, who
accompanied every army, and were personally consulted by
the leaders in determining their march. A country so
thickly studded with the ancient forest, and so netted
with rivers (then of much greater volume than since they
have been stripped of their guardian woods), afforded
constant occasion for the display of minute local knowledge.
To miss a pass or to find a ford might determine a
campaign, almost as much as the skill of the chief, or
the courage of the battalion.

The Irish depended for their knowledge of the English
towns and castles on their daring _spies_, who continually
risked their necks in acquiring for their clansmen such
needful information. This perilous duty, when undertaken
by a native for the benefit of his country, was justly
accounted highly honourable. Proud poets, educated in
all the mysteries of their art, and even men of chieftain
rank, did not hesitate to assume disguises and act the
patriot spy. One of the most celebrated spies of this
century was Donogh Fitzpatrick, son of the Lord of Ossory,
who was slain by the English in 1250. He was said to be
"one of the three men" most feared by the English in his
day. "He was in the habit of going about to reconnoitre
their market towns," say the Annalists, "in various
disguises." An old quatrain gives us a list of some of
the parts he played when in the towns of his enemies--

   "He is a carpenter, he is a turner.
    My nursling is a bookman.
    He is selling wine and hides
    Where he sees a gathering."

An able captain, as well as an intrepid spy, he met his
fate in acting out his favourite part, "which," adds our
justice-loving Four Masters, "was a retaliation due to
the English, for, up to that time, he had killed, burned,
and destroyed many of them."

Of the equipments and tactics of the belligerents we get
from our Annals but scanty details. The Norman battalion,
according to the usage of that people, led by the marshal
of the field, charged, after the archers had delivered
their fire. But these wars had bred a new mounted force,
called hobiler-archers, who were found so effective that
they were adopted into all the armies of Europe. Although
the bow was never a favourite weapon with the Irish,
particular tribes seem to have been noted for its use.
We hear in the campaigns of this century of the archers
of Breffni, and we may probably interpret as referring
to the same weapon, Felim O'Conor's order to his men, in
his combat with the sons of Roderick at Drumraitte (1237),
"not to shoot but to come to a close fight." It is
possible, however, that this order may have reference to
the old Irish weapon, the javelin or dart. The pike, the
battle-axe, the sword, and skein, or dagger, both parties
had in common, though their construction was different.
The favourite tactique, on both sides, seems to have been
the old military expedient of outflanking an enemy, and
attacking him simultaneously in front and rear. Thus, in
the year 1225, in one of the combats of the O'Conors,
when the son of Cathal _Crovdearg_ endeavoured to surround
Turlogh O'Conor, the latter ordered his recruits to the
van, and Donn Oge Magheraty, with some Tyronian and other
soldiers to cover the rear, "by which means they escaped
without the loss of a man." The flank movement by which
the Lord Justice Fitzgerald carried the passage of the
Erne (A.D. 1247) against O'Donnell, according to the
Annalists, was suggested to Fitzgerald by Cormac, the
grandson of Roderick O'Conor. By that period in their
intercourse the Normans and Irish had fought so often
together that their stock of tactical knowledge must have
been, from experience, very much common property. In the
eyes of the Irish chiefs and chroniclers, the foreign
soldiers who served with them were but hired mercenaries.
They were sometimes repaid by the plunder of the country
attacked, but usually they received fixed wages for the
length of time they entered. "Hostages for the payment
of wages" are frequently referred to, as given by native
nobles to these foreign auxiliaries. The chief expedient
for subsisting an army was driving before them herds and
flocks; free quarters for men and horses were supplied
by the tenants of allied chiefs within their territory,
and for the rest, the simple outfit was probably not very
unlike that of the Scottish borderers described by
Froissart, who cooked the cattle they captured in their
skins, carrying a broad plate of metal and a little bag
of oatmeal trussed up behind the saddle.

One inveterate habit clung to the ancient race, even
until long after the times of which we now speak--their
unconquerable prejudice against defensive armour. Gilbride
McNamee, the laureate to King Brian O'Neil, gives due
prominence to this fact in his poem on the death of his
patron in the battle of Down (A.D. 1260). Thus sings the
northern bard--

   "The foreigners from London,
       The hosts from Port-Largy *
    Came in a bright green body,
       In gold and iron armour.

   "Unequal they engage in the battle,
       The foreigners and the Gael of Tara,
    _Fine linen shirts on the race of Conn_,
       And the strangers _one mass of iron_."

   [Footnote: Port-Largy, Waterford.]

With what courage they fought, these scorners of armour,
their victories of Ennis, of Callanglen, and of Credran,
as well as their defeats at the Erne and at Down, amply
testify. The first hundred years of war for native land,
with their new foes, had passed over, and three-fourths
of the _Saer Clanna_ were still as free as they had ever
been. It was not reserved even for the Norman race--the
conquest of Innisfail!



We have already spoken of the character of the war waged
by and against the Normans on Irish soil, and as war was
then almost every man's business, we may be supposed to
have described all that is known of the time in describing
its wars. What we have to add of the other pursuits of
the various orders of men into which society was divided,
is neither very full nor very satisfactory.

The rise, fall, and migrations of some of the clans have
been already alluded to. In no age did more depend on
the personal character of the chief than then. When the
death of the heroic Godfrey left the free clansmen of
Tyrconnell without a lord to lead them to battle, or rule
them in peace, the Annalists represent them to us as
meeting in great perplexity, and engaged "in making
speeches" as to what was to be done, when suddenly, to
their great relief, Donnell Oge, son of Donnell More,
who had been fostered in Alba (Scotland), was seen
approaching them. Not more welcome was Tuathal, the
well-beloved, the restorer of the Milesian monarchy,
after the revolt of the _Tuatha_. He was immediately
elected chief, and the emissaries of O'Neil, who had been
waiting for an answer to his demand of tribute, were
brought before him. He answered their proposition by a
proverb expressed in the Gaelic of Alba, which says that
"every man should possess his own country," and Tyrconnell
armed to make good this maxim.

The Bardic order still retained much of their ancient
power, and all their ancient pride. Of their most famous
names in this period we may mention Murray O'Daly of
Lissadil, in Sligo, Donogh O'Daly of Finvarra, sometimes
called Abbot of Boyle, and Gilbride McNamee, laureate to
King Brian O'Neil. McNamee, in lamenting the death of
Brian, describes himself as defenceless, and a prey to
every spoiler, now that his royal protector is no more.
He gave him, he tells us, for a poem on one occasion,
besides gold and raiment, a gift of twenty cows. On
another, when he presented him a poem, he gave in return
twenty horned cows, and a gift still more lasting, "the
blessing of the King of Erin." Other chiefs, who fell in
the same battle, and to one of whom, named Auliffe
O'Gormley, he had often gone "on a visit of pleasure,"
are lamented with equal warmth by the bard. The poetic
Abbot of Boyle is himself lamented in the Annals as the
Ovid of Ireland, as "a poet who never had and never will
have an equal." But the episode which best illustrates
at once the address and the audacity of the bardic order
is the story of Murray O'Daly of Lissadil, and Donnell
More O'Donnell, Lord of Tyrconnell.

In the year 1213, O'Donnell despatched Finn O'Brollaghan,
his _Aes graidh_ or Steward, to collect his tribute in
Connaught, and Finn, putting up at the house of O'Daly,
near Drumcliff, and being a plebeian who knew no better,
began to wrangle with the poet. The irritable master of
song, seizing a sharp axe, slew the steward on the spot,
and then to avoid O'Donnell's vengeance fled into
Clanrickarde. Here he announced himself by a poem addressed
to de Burgh, imploring his protection, setting forth the
claims of the Bardic order on all high-descended heroes,
and contending that his fault was but venial, in killing
a clown, who insulted him. O'Donnell pursued the fugitive
to Athenry, and de Burgh sent him away secretly into
Thomond. Into Thomond, the Lord of Tyrconnell marched,
but O'Brien sent off the Bard to Limerick. The enraged
Ulsterman appeared at the gates of Limerick, when O'Daly
was smuggled out of the town, and "passed from hand to
hand," until he reached Dublin. The following spring
O'Donnell appeared in force before Dublin, and demanded
the fugitive, who, as a last resort, had been sent for
safety into Scotland. From the place of his exile he
addressed three deprecatory poems to the offended Lord
of Tyrconnell, who finally allowed him to return to
Lissadil in peace, and even restored him to his friendship.

The introduction of the new religious orders--Dominicans,
Franciscans, and the order for the redemption of Captives
into Ireland, in the first quarter of this century
gradually extinguished the old Columban and Brigintine
houses. In Leinster they made way most rapidly; but Ulster
clung with its ancient tenacity to the Columban rule.
The Hierarchy of the northern half-kingdom still exercised
a protectorate, over Iona itself, for we read, in the
year 1203, how Kellagh, having erected a monastery in
the middle of Iona, in despite of the religious, that
the Bishops of Derry and Raphoe, with the Abbots of Armagh
and Derry and numbers of the Clergy of the North of
Ireland, passed over to Iona, pulled down the unauthorized
monastery, and assisted at the election of a new Abbot.
This is almost the last important act of the Columban
order in Ireland. By the close of the century, the
Dominicans had some thirty houses, and the Franciscans
as many more, whether in the walled towns or the open
country. These monasteries became the refuge of scholars,
during the stormy period we have passed, and in other
days full as troubled, which were to come. Moreover, as
the Irish student, like all others in that age, desired
to travel from school to school, these orders admitted
him to the ranks of widespread European brotherhoods,
from whom he might always claim hospitality. Nor need we
reject as anything incredible the high renown for
scholarship and ability obtained in those times by such
men as Thomas Palmeran of Naas, in the University of
Paris; by Peter and Thomas Hibernicus in the University
of Naples, in the age of Aquinas; by Malachy of Ireland,
a Franciscan, Chaplain to King Edward II. of England,
and Professor at Oxford; by the Danish Dominican, Gotofrid
of Waterford; and above all, by John Scotus of Down, the
subtle doctor, the luminary of the Franciscan schools,
of Paris and Cologne. The native schools of Ireland had
lost their early ascendancy, and are no longer traceable
in our annals; but Irish scholarship, when arrested in
its full development at home, transferred its efforts to
foreign Universities, and there maintained the ancient
honour of the country among the studious "nations" of
Christendom. Among the "nations" involved in the college
riots at Oxford, in the year 1274, we find mention of
the Irish, from which fact it is evident there must have
been a considerable number of natives of that country,
then frequenting the University.

The most distinguished native ecclesiastics of this
century were Matthew O'Heney, Archbishop of Cashel,
originally a Cistercian monk, who died in retirement at
Holy Cross in 1207; Albin O'Mulloy, the opponent of
_Giraldus_, who died Bishop of Ferns in 1222; and Clarus
McMailin, Erenach of Trinity Island, Lough Key-if an
_Erenach_ may be called an ecclesiastic. It was O'Heney
made the Norman who said the Irish Church had no martyrs,
the celebrated answer, that now men had come into the
country who knew so well how to make martyrs, that reproach
would soon be taken away. He is said to have written a
life of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, and we know that
he had legantine powers at the opening of the century.
The _Erenach_ of Lough Key, who flourished in its second
half, plays an important part in all the western feuds
and campaigns; his guarantee often preserved peace and
protected the vanquished. Among the church-builders of
his age, he stands conspicuous. The ordinary churches
were indeed easily built, seldom exceeding 60 or 70 feet
in length, and one half that width, and the material
still most in use was, for the church proper, timber.
The towers, cashels, or surrounding walls, and the cells
of the religious, as well as the great monasteries and
collegiate and cathedral churches, were of stone, and
many of them remain monuments of the skill and munificence
of their founders.

Of the consequences of the abolition of slavery by the
Council of Armagh, at the close of the twelfth century,
we have no tangible evidence. It is probable that the
slave trade, rather than domestic servitude, was abolished
by that decree. The cultivators of the soil were still
divided into two orders--Biataghs and Brooees. "The
former," says O'Donovan, "who were comparatively few in
number, would appear to have held their lands free of
rent, but were obliged to entertain travellers, and the
chief's soldiers when on their march in his direction;
and the latter (the Brooees) would appear to have been
subject to a stipulated rent and service." From "the Book
of Lecan," a compilation of the fourteenth century, we
learn that the Brooee was required to keep an hundred
labourers, and an hundred of each kind of domestic animals.
Of the rights or wages of the labourers, we believe,
there is no mention made.





During the half century which comprised the reigns of
Edward I. and II. in England (A.D. 1272 to 1327), Scotland
saw the last of her first race of Kings, and the elevation
of the family of Bruce, under whose brilliant star Ireland
was, for a season, drawn into the mid-current of Scottish
politics. Before relating the incidents of that revolution
of short duration but long enduring consequences, we must
note the rise to greatness of the one great Norman name,
which in that era mainly represented the English interest
and influence in Ireland.

Richard de Burgh, called from his ruddy complexion "the
Red Earl" of Ulster, nobly bred in the court of Henry III.
of England, had attained man's age about the period when
the de Lacys, the Geraldines, de Clares, and other great
Anglo-Irish, families, either through the fortune of war
or failure of issue, were deprived of most of their
natural leaders. Uniting in his own person the blood of
the O'Conors, de Lacys, and de Burghs, his authority was
great from the beginning in Meath and Connaught. In his
inroads on West-Meath he seems to have been abetted by
the junior branches of the de Lacys, who were with his
host in the year 1286, when he besieged Theobald de Verdon
in Athlone, and advanced his banner as far eastward as
the strong town of Trim, upon the Boyne. Laying claim to
the possessions of the Lord of Meath, which touched the
Kildare Geraldines at so many points, he inevitably came
into contact with that powerful family. In 1288, in
alliance with Manus O'Conor, they compelled him to retreat
from Roscommon into Clanrickarde, in Mayo. De Verdon,
his competitor for West-Meath, naturally entered into
alliance with the Kildare Geraldine, and in the year
1294, after many lesser conflicts, they took the Red Earl
and his brother William prisoners, and carried them in
fetters to the Castle of Lea, in Offally. This happened
on the 6th day of December; a Parliament assembled at
Kilkenny on the 12th of March following, ordered their
release; and a peace was made between these powerful
houses. De Burgh gave his two sons as hostages to
Fitzgerald, and the latter surrendered the Castle of
Sligo to de Burgh. From the period of this peace the
power of the last named nobleman outgrew anything that
had been known since the Invasion. In the year 1291, he
banished the O'Donnell out of his territory, and set up
another of his own choosing; he deposed one O'Neil and
raised up another; he so straitened O'Conor in his
patrimony of Roscommon, that that Prince also entered
his camp at Meelick, and gave him hostages. He was thus
the first and only man of his race who had ever had in
his hand the hostages both of Ulster and Connaught. When
the King of England sent writs into Ireland, he usually
addressed the Red Earl, before the Lord Justice or Lord
Deputy--a compliment which, in that ceremonious age,
could not be otherwise than flattering to the pride of
de Burgh. Such was the order of summons, in which, in
the year 1296, he was required by Edward I. to attend
him into Scotland, which was then experiencing some of
the worst consequences of a disputed succession. As
Ireland's interest in this struggle becomes in the sequel
second only to that of Scotland, we must make brief
mention of its origin and progress.

By the accidental death of Alexander III., in 1286, the
McAlpine, or Scoto-Irish dynasty, was suddenly terminated.
Alexander's only surviving child, Margaret, called from
her mother's country, "the Maid of Norway," soon followed
her father; and no less than eight competitors, all
claiming collateral descent from the former Kings, appeared
at the head of as many factions to contest the succession.
This number was, however, soon reduced to two men--John
Baliol and Robert Bruce--the former the grandson of the
eldest, the latter the son of the second daughter of King
David I. After many bickerings these powerful rivals were
induced to refer their claims to the decision of Edward I.
of England, who, in a Great Court held at Berwick in the
year 1292, decided in favour of Baliol, not in the
character of an indifferent arbitrator, but as lord
paramount of Scotland. As such, Baliol there and then
rendered him feudal homage, and became, in the language
of the age, "his man." This sub-sovereignty could not
but be galling to the proud and warlike nobles of Scotland,
and accordingly, finding Edward embroiled about his French
possessions, three years after the decision, they caused
Baliol to enter into an alliance, offensive and defensive,
with Philip IV. of France, against his English suzerain.
The nearer danger compelled Edward to march with 40,000
men, which he had raised for the war in France, towards
the Scottish border, whither he summoned the Earl of
Ulster, the Geraldines, Butlers, de Verdons, de Genvilles,
Berminghams, Poers, Purcells, de Cogans, de Barrys, de
Lacys, d'Exeters, and other minor nobles, to come to him
in his camp early in March, 1296. The Norman-Irish obeyed
the call, but the pride of de Burgh would not permit him
to embark in the train of the Lord Justice Wogan, who
had been also summoned; he sailed with his own forces in
a separate fleet, having conferred the honour of knighthood
on thirty of his younger followers before embarking at
Dublin. Whether these forces arrived in time to take part
in the bloody siege of Berwick, and the panic-route at
Dunbar, does not appear; they were in time, however, to
see the strongest places in Scotland yielded up, and John
Baliol a prisoner on his way to the Tower of London. They
were sumptuously entertained by the conqueror in the
Castle of Roxburgh, and returned to their western homes
deeply impressed with the power of England, and the
puissance of her warrior-king.

But the independence of Scotland was not to be trodden
out in a single campaign. During Edward's absence in
France, William Wallace and other guerilla chiefs arose,
to whom were soon united certain patriot nobles and
bishops. The English deputy de Warrane fought two
unsuccessful campaigns against these leaders, until his
royal master, having concluded peace with France, summoned
his Parliament to meet him at York, and his Norman-Irish
lieges to join him in his northern camp, with all their
forces, on the 1st of March, 1299. In June the English
King found himself at Roxburgh, at the head of 8,000
horse, and 80,000 foot, "chiefly Irish and Welsh." With
this immense force he routed Wallace at Falkirk on the
22nd of July, and reduced him to his original rank of a
guerilla chief, wandering with his bands of partizans
from one fastness to another. The Scottish cause gained
in Pope Boniface VII. a powerful advocate soon after,
and the unsubdued districts continued to obey a Regency
composed of the Bishop of St. Andrews, Robert Bruce,
and John Comyn. These regents exercised their authority
in the name of Baliol, carried on negotiations with France
and Rome, convoked a Parliament, and, among other military
operations, captured Stirling Castle. In the documentary
remains of this great controversy, it is curious to find
Edward claiming the entire island of Britain in virtue
of the legend of Brute the Trojan, and the Scots rejecting
it with scorn, and displaying their true descent and
origin from Scota, the fabled first mother of the Milesian
Irish. There is ample evidence that the claims of kindred
were at this period keenly felt by the Gael of Ireland,
for the people of Scotland, and men of our race are
mentioned among the companions of Wallace and the allies
of Brace. But the Norman-Irish were naturally drawn to
the English banner, and when, in 1303, it was again
displayed north of the Tweed, the usual noble names are
found among its followers. In 1307 Scotland lost her most
formidable foe, by the death of Edward, and at the same
time began to recognize her appointed deliverer in the
person of Robert Bruce. But we must return to "the Red
Earl," the central figure in our own annals during this
half century.

The new King, Edward II., compelled by his English barons
to banish his minion, Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, had
created him his lieutenant of Ireland, endowed him with
a grant of the royalties of the whole island, to the
prejudice of the Earl and other noblemen. The sojourn of
this brilliant parasite in Ireland lasted but a year--from
June, 1308, till the June following. He displayed both
vigour and munificence, and acquired friends. But the
Red Earl, sharing to the full the antipathy of the great
barons of England, kept apart from his court, maintained
a rival state at Trim, as Commander-in-Chief, conferring
knighthood, levying men, and imposing taxes at his own
discretion. A challenge of battle is said to have passed
between him and the Lieutenant, when the latter was
recalled into England by the King, where he was three
years later put to death by the barons, into whose hands
he had fallen. Sir John Wogan and Sir Edmund Butler
succeeded him in the Irish administration; but the real
power long remained with Richard de Burgh. He was appointed
plenipotentiary to treat with Robert Brace, on behalf of
the King of England, "upon which occasion the Scottish
deputies waited on him in Ireland." In the year 1302
Brace had married his daughter, the Lady Ellen, while of
his other daughters one was Countess of Desmond, and
another became Countess of Kildare in 1312. A thousand
marks--the same sum at which the town and castle of Sligo
were then valued-was allowed by the Earl for the marriage
portion of his last-mentioned daughter. His power and
reputation, about the period of her marriage, were at
the full. He had long held the title of Commander of the
Irish forces, "in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Gascony;"
he had successfully resisted Gaveston in the meridian of
his court favour; the father-in-law of a King, and of
Earls of almost royal power, lord paramount of half the
island-such a subject England had not seen on Irish ground
since the Invasion. This prodigious power he retained,
not less by his energy than his munificence. He erected
castles at Carlingford, at Sligo, on the upper Shannon,
and on Lough Foyle. He was a generous patron of the
Carmelite Order, for whom he built the Convent of Loughrea.
He was famed as a princely entertainer, and before retiring
from public affairs, characteristically closed his career
with a magnificent banquet at Kilkenny, where the whole
Parliament were his guests. Having reached an age
bordering upon fourscore he retired to the Monastery of
Athassil, and there expired within sight of his family
vault, after half a century of such sway as was rarely
enjoyed in that age, even by Kings. But before that
peaceful close he was destined to confront a storm the
like of which had not blown over Ireland during the long
period since he first began to perform his part in the
affairs of that kingdom.



No facts of the ages over which we have already passed
are better authenticated than the identity of origin and
feeling which existed between the Celts of Erin and of
Albyn. Nor was this sympathy of race diminished by their
common dangers from a common enemy. On the eve of the
Norman invasion we saw how heartily the Irish were with
Somerled and the men of Moray in resisting the feudal
polity of the successors of Malcolm _Caen-More_. As the
Plantagenet Princes in person led their forces against
Scotland, the interest of the Irish, especially those of
the North, increased, year by year, in the struggles of
the Scots. Irish adherents followed the fortunes of
Wallace to the close; and when Robert Bruce, after being
crowned and seated in the chair of the McAlpin line, on
the summit of the hill of Scone, had to flee into exile,
he naturally sought refuge where he knew he would find
friends. Accompanied by three of his brothers, several
adherents, and even by some of the females of his family,
he steered, in the autumn of 1306, for the little island
of Rathlin--seven miles long by a mile wide--one point
of which is within three miles of the Antrim beach. In
its most populous modern day Rathlin contained not above
1,000 souls, and little wonder if its still smaller
population, five centuries ago, fled in terror at the
approach of Bruce. They were, however, soon disarmed of
their fears, and agreed to supply the fugitive King daily
with provisions for 300 persons, the whole number who
accompanied or followed him into exile. His faithful
adherents soon erected for him a castle, commanding one
of the few landing places on the island, the ruins of
which are still shown to strangers as "Bruce's Castle."
Here he passed in perfect safety the winter of 1306,
while his emissaries were recruiting in Ulster, or passing
to and fro, in the intervals of storm, among the western
islands. Without waiting for the spring to come round
again, they issued from their retreat in different
directions; one body of 700 Irish sailed under Thomas
and Alexander, the King's brothers, for the Clyde, while
Robert and Edward took the more direct passage towards
the coast of Argyle, and, after many adventures, found
themselves strong enough to attack the foreign forces in
Perth and Ayrshire. The opportune death of Edward of
England the same summer, and the civil strife bred by
his successor's inordinate favour towards Gaveston,
enabled the Bruces gradually to root out the internal
garrisons of their enemies; but the party that had sailed,
under the younger brothers, from Rathlin, were attacked
and captured in Loch Ryan by McDowell, and the survivors
of the engagement, with Thomas and Alexander Bruce, were
carried prisoners to Carlisle and there put to death.

The seven years' war of Scottish independence was drawn
to a close by the decisive campaign of 1314. The second
Edward prepared an overwhelming force for this expedition,
summoning, as usual, the Norman-Irish Earls, and inviting
in different language his "beloved" cousins, the native
Irish Chiefs, not only such as had entered into English
alliances at any time, but also notorious allies of Bruce,
like O'Neil, O'Donnell, and O'Kane. These writs were
generally unheeded; we have no record of either Norman-Irish
or native-Irish Chief having responded to Edward's summons,
nor could nobles so summoned have been present without
some record remaining of the fact. On the contrary all
the wishes of the old Irish went with the Scots, and the
Normans were more than suspected of leaning the same way.
Twenty-one clans, Highlanders and Islemen, and many
Ulstermen, fought on the side of Bruce, on the field of
Bannockburn; the grant of "Kincardine-O'Neil," made by
the victor-King to his Irish followers, remains a striking
evidence of their fidelity to his person, and their
sacrifices in his cause. The result of that glorious day
was, by the testimony of all historians, English as well
as Scottish, received with enthusiasm on the Irish side
of the channel.

Whether any understanding had been come to between the
northern Irish and Bruce, during his sojourn in Rathlin,
or whether the victory of Bannockburn suggested the
design, Edward Bruce, the gallant companion of all his
brother's fortunes and misfortunes, was now invited to
place himself at the head of the men of Ulster, in a war
for Irish independence. He was a soldier of not inferior
fame to his brother for courage and fortitude, though he
had never exhibited the higher qualities of general and
statesman which crowned the glory of King Robert. Yet as
he had never held a separate command of consequence, his
rashness and obstinacy, though well known to his intimates,
were lost sight of, at a distance, by those who gazed
with admiration on the brilliant achievements, in which
he had certainly borne the second part. The chief mover
in the negotiation by which this gallant soldier was
brought to embark his fortunes in an Irish war, was
Donald, Prince of Ulster. This Prince, whose name is so
familiar from his celebrated remonstrance addressed to
Pope John XXII., was son of King Brian of the battle of
Down, who, half a century before, at the Conference of
Caeluisge, was formally chosen Ard-Righ, by the nobles
of three Provinces. He had succeeded to the principality
--not without a protracted struggle with the Red Earl
--some twenty years before the date of the battle of
Bannockburn. Endued with an intensely national spirit,
he seems to have fully adopted the views of Nicholas
McMaelisa, the Primate of Armagh, his early cotemporary.
This Prelate--one of the most resolute opponents of the
Norman conquest--had constantly refused to instal any
foreigner in a northern diocese. When the Chapter of
Ardagh delayed their election, he nominated a suitable
person to the Holy See; when the See of Meath was distracted
between two national parties he installed his nominee;
when the Countess of Ulster caused Edward I. to issue
his writ for the installation of John, Bishop of Conor,
he refused his acquiescence. He left nearly every See
in his Province, at the time of his decease (the year
1303), under the administration of a native ecclesiastic;
a dozen years before he had established a formal
"association" among the Prelates at large, by which they
bound themselves to resist the interference of the Kings
of England in the nomination of Bishops, and to be subject
only to the sanction of the See of Rome. In the Provinces
of Cashel and Tuam, in the fourteenth century, we do not
often find a foreign born Bishop; even in Leinster double
elections and double delegations to Rome, show how deeply
the views of the patriotic Nicholas McMaelisa had seized
upon the clergy of the next age. It was Donald O'Neil's
darling project to establish a unity of action against
the common enemy among the chiefs, similar to that which
the Primate had brought about among the Bishops. His own
pretensions to the sovereignty were greater than that of
any Prince of his age; his house had given more monarchs
to the island than any other; his father had been
acknowledged by the requisite majority; his courage,
patriotism, and talents, were admittedly equal to the
task. But he felt the utter impossibility of conciliating
that fatal family pride, fed into extravagance by Bards
and Senachies, which we have so often pointed out as the
worst consequence of the Celtic system. He saw chiefs,
proud of their lineage and their name, submit to serve
a foreign Earl of Ulster, who refused homage to the native
Prince of Ulster; he saw the seedlings of a vice of which
we have seen the fruit--that his countrymen would submit
to a stranger rather than to one of themselves, and he
reasoned, not unnaturally, that, by the hand of some
friendly stranger, they might be united and liberated.
The attempt of Edward Bruce was a failure, and was followed
by many disasters; but a more patriotic design, or one
with fairer omens of success, could not have entered the
mind or heart of a native Prince, after the event of the
battle at Bannockburn. Edward of England, having
intelligence of the negotiations on foot between the
Irish and Scots, after his great defeat, summoned over
to Windsor during the winter, de Burgh, Fitzgerald, de
Verdon, and Edmund Butler, the Lord Deputy. After conferring
with them, and confirming Butler in his office, they were
despatched back in all haste to defend their country.
Nor was there time to lose. Edward Bruce, with his usual
impetuosity, without waiting for his full armament, had
sailed from Ayr with 6,000 men in 300 galleys, accompanied
by Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Sir John Stuart, Sir
Philip Moubray, Sir Fergus of Ardrossan, and other
distinguished knights. He landed on the 25th day of May,
1315, in the Glendun river, near Glenarm, and was promptly
joined by Donald O'Neil, and twelve other chiefs. Their
first advance was from the coast towards that angle of
Lough Neagh, near which stands the town of Antrim. Here,
at Rathmore, in the plain of Moylinny, they were attacked
by the Mandevilles and Savages of the Ards of Down, whom
they defeated. From Antrim they continued their route
evidently towards Dublin, taking Dundalk and Ardee, after
a sharp resistance. At Ardee they were but 35 miles
north of Dublin, easy of conquest, if they had been
provided with siege trains--which it seemed they were not.

While Bruce and O'Neil were coming up from the north,
Hugh O'Donnell, lord of Tyrconnell, as if to provide
occupation for the Earl of Ulster, attacked and sacked
the castle and town of Sligo, and wasted the adjacent
country. The Earl, on hearing of the landing of the Scots,
had mustered his forces at Athlone, and compelled the
unwilling attendance of Felim O'Conor, with his clansmen.
From Athlone he directed his march towards Drogheda,
where he arrived with "20 cohorts," about the same time
that the Lord Deputy Butler came up with "30 cohorts."
Bruce, unprepared to meet so vast a force--taken together
some 25,000 or 30,000 men--retreated slowly towards his
point of debarkation. De Burgh, who, as Commander-in-Chief,
took precedence in the field of the Lord Deputy, ordered
the latter to protect Meath and Leinster, while he pursued
the enemy. Bruce, having despatched the Earl of Moray to
his brother, was now anxious to hold some northern position
where they could most easily join him. He led de Burgh,
therefore, into the North of Antrim, thence across the
Bann at Coleraine, breaking down the bridge at that point.
Here the armies encamped for some days, separated by the
river, the outposts occasionally indulging in a "shooting
of arrows." By negotiation, Bruce and O'Neil succeeded
in detaching O'Conor from de Burgh. Under the plea--which
really had sufficient foundation--of suppressing an
insurrection headed by one of his rivals, O'Conor returned
to his own country. No sooner had he left than Bruce
assumed the offensive, and it was now the Red Earl's turn
to fall back. They retreated towards the castle of Conyre
(probably Conor, near Ballymena, in Antrim), where an
engagement was fought, in which de Burgh was defeated,
his brother William, Sir John Mandeville, and several
other knights being taken prisoners. The Earl continued
his retreat through Meath towards his own possession;
Bruce followed, capturing in succession Granard, Fenagh,
and Kells, celebrating his Christmas at Loughsweedy, in
West-Meath, in the midst of the most considerable chiefs
of Ulster, Meath, and Connaught. It was probably at this
stage of his progress that he received the adhesion of
the junior branches of the Lacys--the chief Norman family
that openly joined his standard.

This termination of his first campaign on Irish soil
might be considered highly favourable to Bruce. More than
half the clans had risen, and others were certain to
follow their example; the clergy were almost wholly with
him; and his heroic brother had promised to lead an army
to his aid in the ensuing spring.



From Loughsweedy, Bruce broke up his quarters, and marched
into Kildare, encamping successively at Naas, Kildare,
and Rathangan. Advancing in a southerly direction, he
found an immense, but disorderly Anglo-Irish host drawn
out, at the moat of Ardscull, near Athy, to dispute his
march. They were commanded by the Lord Justice Butler,
the Baron of Offally, the Lord Arnold Poer, and other
magnates; but so divided were these proud Peers, in
authority and in feeling, that, after a severe skirmish
with Bruce's vanguard, in which some knights were killed
on both sides, they retreated before the Hiberno-Scottish
army, which continued its march unmolested, and took
possession of Castledermot.

Animated by these successes, won in their midst, the
clans of Leinster began in succession to raise their
heads. The tribes of Wicklow, once possessors of the
fertile plains to the east and west, rallied in the
mountain glens to which they had been driven, and commenced
that long guerilla war, which centuries only were to
extinguish. The McMurroghs along the ridge of Leinster,
and all their kindred upon the Barrow and the Slaney,
mustered under a chief, against whom the Lord Justice
was compelled to march in person, later in the campaign
of 1316. The Lord of Dunamase was equally sanguine, but
800 men of the name of O'Moore, slain in one disastrous
encounter, crippled for the time the military strength
of that great house. Having thus kindled the war, in the
very heart of Leinster, Bruce retraced his march through
Meath and Louth, and held at Dundalk that great assembly
in which he was solemnly elected King of Ireland. Donald
O'Neil, by letters patent, as son of Brian "of the battle
of Down," the last acknowledged native king, formally
resigned his right, in favour of Bruce, a proceeding which
he defends in his celebrated letter to Pope John XXII.,
where he speaks of the new sovereign as the illustrious
Earl of Carrick, Edward de Bruce, a nobleman descended
from the same ancestors with themselves, whom they had
called to their aid, and freely chosen as their king and
lord. The ceremony of inauguration seems to have been
performed in the Gaelic fashion, on the hill of
Knocknemelan, within a mile of Dundalk, while the solemn
consecration took place in one of the churches of the
town. Surrounded by all the external marks of royalty,
Bruce established his court in the castle of Northburgh
(one of de Courcy's or de Verdon's fortresses), adjoining
Dundalk, where he took cognizance of all pleas that were
brought before him. At that moment his prospects compared
favourably with those of his illustrious brother a few
years earlier. The Anglo-Irish were bitterly divided
against each other; while, according to their joint
declaration of loyalty, signed before de Hothun, King
Edward's special agent, "all the Irish of Ireland, several
great lords, and many English people," had given in their
adhesion to Bruce. In Ulster, except Carrickfergus, no
place of strength remained in the hands of any subject
of Edward of England. The arrival of supplies from Scotland
enabled Bruce to resume that siege in the autumn of 1316,
and the castle, after a heroic defence by Sir Thomas de
Mandeville, was surrendered in mid-winter. Here, in the
month of February, 1317, the new King of Ireland had the
gratification of welcoming his brother of Scotland, at
the head of a powerful auxiliary force, and here, according
to Barbour's _Chronicle_, they feasted for three days,
in mirth and jollity, before entering on the third campaign
of this war.

We have before mentioned that one of the first successes
obtained by Bruce was through the withdrawal of Felim
O'Conor from the Red Earl's alliance. The Prince thus
won over to what may be fairly called the national cause,
had just then attained his majority, and his martial
accomplishments reflected honour on his fosterer, McDermott
of Moylurg, while they filled with confidence the hearts
of his own clansmen. After his secession from de Burgh
at Coleraine, he had spent a whole year in suppressing
the formidable rival who had risen to dispute his title.
Several combats ensued between their respective adherents,
but at length Roderick, the pretender, was defeated and
slain, and Felim turned all his energies to co-operate
with Bruce, by driving the foreigner out of his own
province. Having secured the assistance of all the chief
tribes of the west, and established the ancient supremacy
of his house over Breffni, he first attacked the town of
Ballylahen, in Mayo, the seat of the family of de Exeter,
slew Slevin de Exeter, the lord de Cogan, and other
knights and barons, and plundered the town. At the
beginning of August in the same year, in pursuance of
his plan, Felim mustered the most numerous force which
Connaught had sent forth, since the days of Cathal More.
Under his leadership marched the Prince of Meath, the
lords of Breffni, Leyny, Annally, Teffia, Hy-Many, and
Hy-Fiachra, with their men. The point of attack was the
town of Athenry, the chief fortified stronghold of the
de Burghs and Berminghams in that region. Its importance
dated from the reign of King John; it had been enriched
with convents and strengthened by towers; it was besides
the burial place of the two great Norman families just
mentioned, and their descendants felt that before the
walls of Athenry their possessions were to be confirmed
to them by their own valour, or lost for ever. A decisive
battle was fought on St. Laurence's day--the 10th of
August--in which the steel-clad Norman battalion once
more triumphed over the linen-shirted clansmen of the
west. The field was contested with heroic obstinacy; no
man gave way; none thought of asking or giving quarter.
The standard bearer, the personal guard, and the Brehon
of O'Conor fell around him. The lords of Hy-Many, Teffia,
and Leyny, the heir of the house of Moylurg, with many
other chiefs, and, according to the usual computation,
8,000 men were slain. Felim O'Conor himself, in the
twenty-third year of his age, and the very morning of
his fame, fell with the rest, and his kindred, the
Sil-Murray, were left for a season an easy prey to William
de Burgh and John de Bermingham, the joint commanders in
the battle. The spirit of exaggeration common in most
accounts of killed and wounded, has described this day
as fatal to the name and race of O'Conor, who are
represented as cut off to a man in the conflict; the
direct line which Felim represented was indeed left
without an immediate adult representative; but the
offshoots of that great house had spread too far and
flourished too vigorously to be shorn away, even by so
terrible a blow as that dealt at Athenry. The very next
year we find chiefs of the name making some figure in
the wars of their own province, but it is observable that
what may be called the national party in Connaught for
some time after Athenry, looked to McDermott of Moylurg
as their most powerful leader.

The moral effect of the victory of Athenry was hardly to
be compensated for by the capture of Carrickfergus the
next winter. It inspired the Anglo-Irish with new courage.
De Bermingham was created commander-in-chief. The citizens
of Dublin burned their suburbs to strengthen their means
of defence. Suspecting the zeal of the Red Earl, so
nearly connected with the Bruces by marriage, their Mayor
proceeded to Saint Mary's abbey, where he lodged, arrested
and confined him to the castle. To that building the
Bermingham tower was added about this time, and the
strength of the whole must have been great when the
skilful leaders, who had carried Stirling and Berwick,
abandoned the siege of Dublin as hopeless. In Easter
week, 1317, Roger Mortimer, afterwards Earl of March,
nearly allied to the English King on the one hand, and
maternally descended from the Marshals and McMurroghs on
the other, arrived at Youghal, as Lord Justice, released
the Earl of Ulster on reaching Dublin, and prepared to
dispute the progress of the Bruces towards the South.

The royal brothers had determined, according to their
national Bard, to take their way with all their host,
from one cud of Ireland to the other. Their destination
was Munster, which populous province had not yet ratified
the recent election. Ulster and Meath were with them;
Connaught, by the battle of Athenry, was rendered incapable
of any immediate effort, and therefore Edward Bruce, in
true Gaelic fashion, decided to proceed on his royal
visitation, and so secure the hostages of the southern
half-kingdom. At the head of 20,000 men, in two divisions,
the brothers marched from Carrickfergus; meeting, with
the exception of a severe skirmish in a wood near Slane,
with no other molestation till they approached the very
walls of Dublin. Finding the place stronger than they
expected, or unwilling to waste time at that season of
the year, the Hiberno-Scottish army, after occupying
Castleknock, turned up the valley of the Liffey, and
encamped for four days by the pleasant waterfall of
Leixlip. From Leixlip to Naas they traversed the estates
of one of their active foes, the new made Earl of Kildare,
and from Naas they directed their march to Callan in
Ossory, taking special pleasure, according to Anglo-Irish
Annals, in harrying the lands of another enemy, the Lord
Butler, afterwards Earl of Ormond. From Callan their
route lay to Cashel and Limerick, at each of which they
encamped two or three days without seeing the face of an
enemy. But if they encountered no enemies in Minister,
neither did they make many friends by their expedition.
It seems that on further acquaintance rivalries and
enmities sprung up between the two nations who composed
the army; that Edward Bruce, while styling himself King
of Ireland, acted more like a vigorous conqueror exhausting
his enemies, than a prudent Prince careful for his friends
and adherents. His army is accused, in terms of greater
vehemence than are usually employed in our cautious
chronicles, of plundering churches and monasteries, and
even violating the tombs of the dead in search of buried
treasure. The failure of the harvest, added to the effect
of a threefold war, had so diminished the stock of food
that numbers perished of famine, and this dark, indelible
remembrance was, by an arbitrary notion of cause and
effect, inseparably associated in the popular mind, both
English and Irish, with the Scottish invasion. One fact
is clear, that the election of Dundalk was not popular
in Munster, and that the chiefs of Thomond and Desmond
were uncommitted, if not hostile towards Bruce's
sovereignty. McCarthy and O'Brien seized the occasion,
indeed, while he was campaigning in the North, to root
out the last representative of the family of de Clare,
as we have already related, when tracing the fortunes of
the Normans in Munster. But of the twelve reguli, or
Princes in Bruce's train, none are mentioned as having
come from the Southern provinces.

This visitation of Munster occupied the months of February
and March. In April, the Lord Justice Mortimer summoned
a Parliament at Kilkenny, and there, also, the whole
Anglo-Irish forces, to the number of 30,000 men, were
assembled. The Bruces on their return northward might
easily have been intercepted, or the genius which triumphed
at Bannockburn might have been as conspicuously signalized
on Irish ground. But the military authorities were waiting
orders from the Parliament, and the Parliament were at
issue with the new Justice, and so the opportunity was
lost. Early in May, the Hiberno-Scottish army re-entered
Ulster, by nearly the same route as they had taken going
southwards, and King Robert soon after returned into
Scotland, promising faithfully to rejoin his brother, as
soon as he disposed of his own pressing affairs. The King
of England in the meantime, in consternation at the news
from Ireland, applied to the Pope, then at Avignon, to
exercise his influence with the Clergy and Chiefs of
Ireland, for the preservation of the English interest in
that country. It was in answer to the Papal rescripts so
procured that Donald O'Neil despatched his celebrated
Remonstrance, which the Pontiff enclosed to Edward II.,
with an urgent recommendation that the wrongs therein
recited might be atoned for, and avoided in the future.



It is too commonly the fashion, as well with historians
as with others, to glorify the successful and censure
severely the unfortunate. No such feeling actuates us
in speaking of the character of Edward Bruce, King of
Ireland. That he was as gallant a knight as any in that
age of gallantry, we know; that he could confront the
gloomiest aspect of adversity with cheerfulness, we also
know. But the united testimony, both of history and
tradition, in his own country, so tenacious of its
anecdotical treasures, describes him as rash, headstrong,
and intractable, beyond all the captains of his time.
And in strict conformity with this character is the
closing scene of his Irish career.

The harvest had again failed in 1317, and enforced a
melancholy sort of truce between all the belligerents.
The scarcity was not confined to Ireland, but had severely
afflicted England and Scotland, compelling their rulers
to bestow a momentary attention on the then abject class,
the tillers of the soil. But the summer of 1318 brightened
above more prosperous fields, from which no sooner had
each party snatched or purchased his share of the produce,
than the war-note again resounded through all the four
Provinces. On the part of the Anglo-Irish, John de
Bermingham was confirmed as Commander-in-Chief, and
departed from Dublin with, according to the chronicles
of the Pale, but 2,000 chosen troops, while the Scottish
biographer of the Bruces gives him "20,000 trapped horse."
The latter may certainly be considered an exaggerated
account, and the former must be equally incorrect. Judged
by the other armaments of that period, from the fact that
the Normans of Meath, under Sir Miles de Verdon and Sir
Richard Tuit, were in his ranks, and that he then held
the rank of Commander-in-Chief of all the English forces
in Ireland, it is incredible that de Bermingham should
have crossed the Boyne with less than eight or ten thousand
men. Whatever the number may have been, Bruce resolved
to risk the issue of battle contrary to the advice of
all his officers, and without awaiting the reinforcements
hourly expected from Scotland, and which shortly after
the engagement did arrive. The native chiefs of Ulster,
whose counsel was also to avoid a pitched battle, seeing
their opinions so lightly valued, are said to have
withdrawn from Dundalk. There remained with the iron-headed
King the Lords Moubray, de Soulis, and Stewart, with the
three brothers of the latter; MacRory, lord of the Isles,
and McDonald, chief of his clan. The neighbourhood of
Dundalk, the scene of his triumphs and coronation, was
to be the scene of this last act of Bruce's chivalrous
and stormy career.

On the 14th of October, 1318, at the hill of Faughard,
within a couple of miles of Dundalk, the advance guard
of the hostile armies came into the presence of each
other, and made ready for battle. Roland de Jorse, the
foreign Archbishop of Armagh--who had not been able to
take possession of his see, though appointed to it seven
years before--accompanied the Anglo-Irish, and moving
through their ranks, gave his benediction to their banners.
But the impetuosity of Bruce gave little time for
preparation. At the head of the vanguard, without waiting
for the whole of his company to come up, he charged the
enemy with impetuosity. The action became general, and
the skill of de Bermingham as a leader was again
demonstrated. An incident common to the warfare of that
age was, however, the immediate cause of the victory.
Master John de Maupas, a burgher of Dundalk, believing
that the death of the Scottish leader would be the signal
for the retreat of his followers, disguised as a jester
or fool, sought him throughout the field. One of the
royal esquires, named Gilbert Harper, wearing the surcoat
of his master, was mistaken for him, and slain; but the
true leader was at length found by de Maupas, and struck
down with the blow of a leaden plummet or slung-shot.
After the battle, when the field was searched for his
body, it was found under that of de Maupas, who had
bravely yielded up life for life. The Hiberno-Scottish
forces dispersed in dismay, and when King Robert of
Scotland landed a day or two afterwards, he was met by
the fugitive men of Carrick, under their leader Thompson,
who informed him of his brother's fate. He returned at
once into his own country, carrying off the few Scottish
survivors. The head of the impetuous Edward was sent to
London; but the body was interred in the churchyard of
Faughard, where, within living memory, a tall pillar
stone was pointed out by every peasant of the neighbourhood
as marking the grave of "King Bruce."

The fortunes of the principal actors, native and Norman,
in the invasion of Edward Bruce, may be briefly recounted
before closing this book of our history, John de Bermingham,
created for his former victory Baron of Athenry, had now
the Earldom of Louth conferred on him with a royal pension.
He promptly followed up his blow at Faughard by expelling
Donald O'Neil, the mainspring of the invasion, from
Tyrone; but Donald, after a short sojourn among the
mountains of Fermanagh, returned during the winter and
resumed his lordship, though he never wholly recovered
from the losses he had sustained. The new Earl of Louth
continued to hold the rank of Commander-in-Chief in
Ireland, to which he added in 1322 that of Lord Justice.
He was slain in 1329, with some 200 of his personal
adherents, in an affair with the natives of his new
earldom, at a place called Ballybeagan. He left by a
daughter of the Earl of Ulster three daughters; the title
was perpetuated in the family of his brothers.

In 1319, the Earls of Kildare and Louth, and the Lord
Arnold le Poer, were appointed a commission to inquire
into all treasons committed in Ireland during Bruce's
invasion. Among other outlawries they decreed those of
the three de Lacys, the chiefs of their name, in Meath
and Ulster. That illustrious family, however, survived
even this last confiscation, and their descendants,
several centuries later, were large proprietors in the
midland counties.

Three years after the battle of Faughard, died Roland de
Jorse, Archbishop of Armagh, it was said, of vexations
arising out of Bruce's war, and other difficulties which
beset him in taking possession of his see. Adam, Bishop
of Ferns, was deprived of his revenues for taking part
with Bruce, and the Friars Minor of the Franciscan order,
were severely censured in a Papal rescript for their zeal
on the same side.

The great families of Fitzgerald and Butler obtained
their earldoms of Kildare, Desmond, and Ormond, out of
this dangerous crisis, but the premier earldom of Ulster
disappeared from our history soon afterwards. Richard,
the Red Earl, having died in the Monastery of Athassil,
in 1326, was succeeded by his son, William, who, seven
years later, in consequence of a family feud, instigated
by one of his own female relatives, Gilla de Burgh, wife
of Walter de Mandeville, was murdered at the Fords, near
Carrickfergus, in the 21st year of his age. His wife,
Maud, daughter of Henry Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster,
fled into England with her infant, afterwards married to
Lionel, Duke of Clarence, son of King Edward III., who
thus became personally interested in the system which he
initiated by the odious Statute of Kilkenny. But the
misfortunes of the Red Earl's posterity did not end with
the murder of his immediate successor. Edmond, his
surviving son, five years subsequently, was seized by
his cousin, Edmond, the son of William, and drowned in
Lough Mask, with a stone about his neck. The posterity
of William de Burgh then assumed the name of McWilliam,
and renounced the laws, language, and allegiance of
England. Profiting by their dissensions, Turlogh O'Conor,
towards the middle of the century, asserted supremacy
over them, thus practising against the descendants the
same policy which the first de Burghs had successfully
employed among the sons of Roderick.

We must mention here a final consequence of Edward Bruce's
invasion seldom referred to,--namely, the character of
the treaty between Scotland and England, concluded and
signed at Edinburgh, on St. Patrick's Day, 1328. By this
treaty, after arranging an intermarriage between the
royal families, it was stipulated in the event of a
rebellion against Scotland, in Skye, Man, or the Islands,
or against England, in Ireland, that the several Kings
would not abet or assist each other's rebel subjects.
Remembering this article, we know not what to make of
the entry in our own Annals, which states that Robert
Bruce landed at Carrickfergus in the same year, 1328,
"and sent word to the Justiciary and Council, that he
came to make peace between Ireland and Scotland, and that
he would meet them at Green Castle; but that the latter
failing to meet him, he returned to Scotland." This,
however, we know: high hopes were entertained, and immense
sacrifices were made, for Edward Bruce, but were made in
vain. His proverbial rashness in battle, with his total
disregard of the opinion of the country into which he
came, alienated from him those who were at first disposed
to receive him with enthusiasm. It may be an instructive
lesson to such as look to foreign leaders and foreign
forces for the means of national deliverance to read the
terms in which the native Annalists record the defeat
and death of Edward Bruce: "No achievement had been
performed in Ireland, for a long time," say the Four
Masters, "from which greater benefit had accrued to the
country than from this." "There was not a better deed
done in Ireland since the banishment of the Formorians,"
says the Annalist of Clonmacnoise! So detested may a
foreign liberating chief become, who outrages the feelings
and usages of the people he pretends, or really means to





The closing years of the reign of Edward II. of England
were endangered by the same partiality for favourites
which, had disturbed its beginning. The de Spensers,
father and son, played at this period the part which
Gaveston had performed twenty years earlier. The Barons,
who undertook to rid their country of this pampered
family, had, however, at their head Queen Isabella, sister
of the King of France, who had separated from her husband
under a pretended fear of violence at his hands, but in
reality to enjoy more freely her criminal intercourse
with her favourite, Mortimer. With the aid of French and
Flemish mercenaries, they compelled the unhappy Edward
to fly from London to Bristol, whence he was pursued,
captured, and after being confined for several months in
different fortresses, was secretly murdered in the autumn
of 1327, by thrusting a red hot iron into his bowels.
His son, Edward, a lad of fifteen years of age, afterwards
the celebrated Edward III., was proclaimed King, though
the substantial power remained for some years longer with
Queen Isabella, and her paramour, now elevated to the
rank of Earl of March. In the year 1330, however, their
guilty prosperity was brought to a sudden close; Mortimer
was seized by surprise, tried by his peers, and executed
at Tyburn; Isabella was imprisoned for life, and the
young King, at the age of eighteen, began in reality that
reign, which, through half a century's continuance, proved
so glorious and advantageous for England.

It will be apparent that during the last few years of
the second, and under the minority of the third Edward,
the Anglo-Irish Barons would be left to pursue undisturbed
their own particular interests and enmities. The renewal
of war with Scotland, on the death of King Robert Bruce,
and the subsequent protracted wars with France, which
occupied, with some intervals of truce, nearly thirty
years of the third Edward's reign, left ample time for
the growth of abuses of every description among the
descendants of those who had invaded Ireland, under the
pretext of its reformation, both in morals and government.
The contribution of an auxiliary force to aid him in his
foreign wars was all the warlike King expected from his
lords of Ireland, and at so cheap a price they were well
pleased to hold their possessions under his guarantee.
At Halidon hill the Anglo-Irish, led by Sir John Darcy,
distinguished themselves against the Scots in 1333; and
at the siege of Calais, under the Earls of Kildare and
Desmond, they acquired additional reputation in 1347.
From this time forward it became a settled maxim of
English policy to draft native troops out of Ireland for
foreign service, and to send English soldiers into it in
times of emergency.

In the very year when the tragedy of Edward the Second's
deposition and death was enacted in England, a drama of
a lighter kind was performed among his new made earls in
Ireland. The Lord Arnold le Poer gave mortal offence to
Maurice, first Earl of Desmond, by calling him "a Rhymer,"
a term synonymous with poetaster. To make good his
reputation as a Bard, the Earl summoned his allies, the
Butlers and Berminghams, while le Poer obtained the aid
of his maternal relatives, the de Burghs, and several
desperate conflicts took place between them. The Earl of
Kildare, then deputy, summoned both parties to meet him
at Kilkenny, but le Poer and William de Burgh fled into
England, while the victors, instead of obeying the deputy's
summons, enjoyed themselves in ravaging his estate. The
following year (A.D. 1328), le Poer and de Burgh returned
from England, and were reconciled with Desmond and Ormond
by the mediation of the new deputy, Roger Outlaw, Prior
of the Knights of the Hospital at Kilmainham. In honour
of this reconciliation de Burgh gave a banquet at the
castle, and Maurice of Desmond reciprocated by another
the next day, in St. Patrick's Church, though it was
then, as the Anglo-Irish Annalist remarks, the penitential
season of Lent. A work of peace and reconciliation,
calculated to spare the effusion of Christian blood, may
have been thought some justification for this irreverent
use of a consecrated edifice.

The mention of the Lord Deputy, Sir Roger Outlaw, the
second Prior of his order though not the last, who wielded
the highest political power over the English settlements,
naturally leads to the mention of the establishment in
Ireland, of the illustrious orders of the Temple and the
Hospital. The first foundation of the elder order is
attributed to Strongbow, who erected for them a castle
at Kilmainham, on the high ground to the south of the
Liffey, about a mile distant from the Danish wall of old
Dublin. Here, the Templars flourished, for nearly a
century and a half, until the process for their suppression
was instituted under Edward II., in 1308. Thirty members
of the order were imprisoned and examined in Dublin,
before three Dominican inquisitors--Father Richard Balbyn,
Minister of the Order of St. Dominick in Ireland, Fathers
Philip de Slane and Hugh de St. Leger. The decision
arrived at was the same as in France and England; the
order was condemned and suppressed; and their Priory of
Kilmainham, with sixteen benefices in the diocese of
Dublin, and several others, in Ferns, Meath, and Dromore,
passed to the succeeding order, in 1311. The state
maintained by the Priors of Kilmainham, in their capacious
residence, often rivalled that of the Lords Justices.
But though their rents were ample, they did not collect
them without service. Their house might justly be regarded
as an advanced fortress on the south side of the city,
constantly open to attacks from the mountain tribes of
Wicklow. Although their vows were for the Holy Land, they
were ever ready to march at the call of the English
Deputies, and their banner, blazoned with the _Agnus
Dei_, waved over the bloodiest border frays of the
fourteenth century. The Priors of Kilmainham sat as Barons
in the Parliaments of "the Pale," and the office was
considered the first in ecclesiastical rank among the
regular orders.

During the second quarter of this century, an extraordinary
change became apparent in the manners and customs of the
descendants of the Normans, Flemings, and Cambrians,
whose ancestors an hundred years earlier were strangers
in the land. Instead of intermarrying exclusively among
themselves, the prevailing fashion became to seek for
Irish wives, and to bestow their daughters on Irish
husbands. Instead of clinging to the language of Normandy
or England, they began to cultivate the native speech of
the country. Instead of despising Irish law, every nobleman
was now anxious to have his Brehon, his Bard, and his
Senachie. The children of the Barons were given to be
fostered by Milesian mothers, and trained in the early
exercises so minutely prescribed by Milesian education.
Kildare, Ormond, and Desmond, adopted the old military
usages of exacting "coyne and livery"--horse meat and
man's meat--from their feudal tenants. The tie of Gossipred,
one of the most fondly cherished by the native population,
was multiplied between the two races, and under the wise
encouragement of a domestic dynasty might have become a
powerful bond of social union. In Connaught and Munster
where the proportion of native to naturalized was largest,
the change was completed almost in a generation, and
could never afterwards be wholly undone. In Ulster the
English element in the population towards the end of this
century was almost extinct, but in Meath and Leinster,
and that portion of Munster immediately bordering on
Meath and Leinster, the process of amalgamation required
more time than the policy of the Kings of England allowed
it to obtain.

The first step taken to counteract their tendency to
_Hibernicize_ themselves, was to bestow additional honours
on the great families. The baronry of Offally was enlarged
into the earldom of Kildare; the lordship of Carrick into
the earldom of Ormond; the title of Desmond was conferred
on Maurice Fitz-Thomas Fitzgerald, and that of Louth on
the Baron de Bermingham. Nor were they empty honours;
they were accompanied with something better. The "royal
liberties" were formally conceded, in no less than nine
great districts, to their several lords. Those of Carlow,
Wexford, Kilkenny, Kildare, and Leix, had been inherited
by the heirs of the Earl Marshal's five daughters; four
other counties Palatine were now added--Ulster, Meath,
Ormond, and Desmond. "The absolute lords of those
palatinates," says Sir John Davis, "made barons and
knights, exercised high justice within all their
territories; erected courts for civil and criminal causes,
and for their own revenues, in the same form in which
the king's courts were established at Dublin; they
constituted their own judges, seneschals, sheriffs,
coroners, and escheators." So that the king's writs did
not run in their counties, which took up more than two
parts of the English colony; but ran only in the
church-lands lying within the same, which was therefore
called THE CROSSE, wherein the Sheriff was nominated by
the King. By "high justice" is meant the power of life
and death, which was hardly consistent with even a
semblance of subjection. No wonder such absolute lords
should be found little disposed to obey the summons of
deputies, like Sir Ralph Ufford and Sir John Morris, men
of merely knightly rank, whose equals they had the power
to create, by the touch of their swords.

For a season their new honours quickened the dormant
loyalty of the recipients. Desmond, at the head of 10,000
men, joined the lord deputy, Sir John Darcy, to suppress
the insurgent tribes of South Leinster; the Earls of
Ulster and Ormond united their forces for an expedition
into West-Meath against the brave McGeoghegans and their
allies; but even these services--so complicated were
public and private motives in the breasts of the actors
--did not allay the growing suspicion of what were commonly
called "the old English," in the minds of the English
King and his council. Their resolution seems to have been
fixed to entrust no native of Ireland with the highest
office in his own country; in accordance with which
decision Sir Anthony Lucy was appointed, (1331;) Sir John
Darcy, (1332-34; again in 1341;) and Sir Ralph Ufford,
(1343-1346.) During the incumbency of these English
knights, whether acting as justiciaries or as deputies,
the first systematic attempts were made to prevent, both
by the exercise of patronage or by penal legislation,
the fusion of races, which was so universal a tendency
of that age. And although these attempts were discontinued
on the recommencement of war with France in 1345, the
conviction of their utility had seized too strongly on
the tenacious will of Edward III. to be wholly abandoned.
The peace of Bretigni in 1360 gave him leisure to turn
again his thoughts in that direction. The following year
he sent over his third son, Lionel, Duke of Clarence and
Earl of Ulster, (in right of his wife,) who boldly
announced his object to be the total separation, into
hostile camps, of the two populations.

This first attempt to enforce non-intercourse between
the natives and the naturalized deserves more particular
mention. It appears to have begun in the time of Sir
Anthony Lucy, when the King's Council sent over certain
"Articles of Reform," in which it was threatened that if
the native nobility were not more attentive in discharging
their duties to the King, his Majesty would resume into
his own hands all the grants made to them by his royal
ancestors or himself, as well as enforce payment of debts
due to the Crown which had been formerly remitted. From
some motive, these articles were allowed, after being
made public, to remain a dead letter, until the
administration of Darcy, Edward's confidential agent in
many important transactions, English and Irish. They were
proclaimed with additional emphasis by this deputy, who
convoked a Parliament or Council, at Dublin, to enforce
them as law. The same year, 1342, a new ordinance came
from England, prohibiting the public employment of men
born or married, or possessing estates in Ireland, and
declaring that all offices of state should be filled in
that country by "fit Englishmen, having lands, tenements,
and benefices in England." To this sweeping proscription
the Anglo-Irish, as well townsmen as nobles, resolved to
offer every resistance, and by the convocation of the
Earls of Desmond, Ormond, and Kildare, they agreed to
meet for that purpose at Kilkenny. Accordingly, what is
called Darcy's Parliament, met at Dublin in October,
while Desmond's rival assembly gathered at Kilkenny in
November. The proceedings of the former, if it agreed to
any, are unrecorded, but the latter despatched to the
King, by the hands of the Prior of Kilmainham, a
Remonstrance couched in Norman-French, the court language,
in which they reviewed the state of the country; deplored
the recovery of so large a portion of the former conquest
by the old Irish; accused, in round terms, the successive
English officials sent into the land, with a desire
suddenly to enrich themselves at the expense both of
sovereign and subject; pleaded boldly their own loyal
services, not only in Ireland, but in the French and
Scottish wars; and finally, claimed the protection of
the Great Charter, that they might not be ousted of their
estates, without being called in judgment. Edward, sorely
in need of men and subsidies for another expedition to
France, returned them a conciliatory answer, summoning
them to join him in arms, with their followers, at an
early day; and although a vigorous effort was made by
Sir Ralph Ufford to enforce the articles of 1331, and
the ordinance of 1341, by the capture of the Earls of
Desmond and Kildare, and by military execution on some
of their followers, the policy of non-intercourse was
tacitly abandoned for some years after the Remonstrance
of Kilkenny. In 1353, under the lord deputy, Rokeby, an
attempt was made to revive it, but it was quickly abandoned;
and two years later, Maurice, Earl of Desmond, the leader
of the opposition, was appointed to the office of Lord
Justice for life! Unfortunately that high-spirited nobleman
died the year of his appointment, before its effects
could begin to be felt. The only legal concession which
marked his period was a royal writ constituting the
"Parliament" of the Pale the court of last resort for
appeals from the decisions of the King's courts in that
province. A recurrence to the former favourite policy
signalized the year 1357, when a new set of ordinances
were received from London, denouncing the penalties of
treason against all who intermarried, or had relations
of fosterage with the Irish; and proclaiming war upon
all kernes and idle men found within the English districts.
Still severer measures, in the same direction, were soon
afterwards decided upon, by the English King and his

Before relating the farther history of this penal code
as applied to race, we must recall the reader's attention
to the important date of the Kilkenny Remonstrance, 1342.
From that year may be distinctly traced the growth of
two parties among the subjects of the English Kings in
Ireland. At one time they are distinguished as "the old
English" and "the new English," at another, as "English
by birth" and "English by blood." The new English, fresh
from the Imperial island, seem to have usually conducted
themselves with a haughty sense of superiority; the old
English, more than half _Hibernicized_, confronted these
strangers with all the self-complacency of natives of
the soil on which they stood. In their frequent visits
to the Imperial capital, the old English were made sensibly
to feel that their country was not there; and as often
as they went, they returned with renewed ardour to the
land of their possessions and their birth. Time, also,
had thrown its reverent glory round the names of the
first invaders, and to be descended from the companions
of Earl Richard, or the captains who accompanied King
John, was a source of family pride, second only to that
which the native princes cherished, in tracing up their
lineage to Milesius of Spain. There were many reasons,
good, bad, and indifferent, for the descendants of the
Norman adventurers adopting Celtic names, laws, and
customs, but not the least potent, perhaps, was the
fostering of family pride and family dependence, which,
judged from our present stand-points, were two of the
worst possible preparations for our national success in
modern times.



While the grand experiment for the separation of the
population of Ireland into two hostile camps was being
matured in England, the Earls of Kildare and Ormond were,
for four or five years, alternately entrusted with the
supreme power. Fresh ordinances, in the spirit of those
despatched to Darcy, in 1342, continued annually to
arrive. One commanded all lieges of the English King,
having grants upon the marches of the Irish enemy, to
reside upon and defend them, under pain of revocation.
By another entrusted to the Earl of Ormond for promulgation,
"no mere Irishman" was to be made a Mayor or bailiff, or
other officer of any town within the English districts;
nor was any mere Irishman "thereafter, under any pretence
of kindred, or from any other cause, to be received into
holy orders, or advanced to any ecclesiastical benefice."
A modification of this last edict was made the succeeding
year, when a royal writ explained that exception was
intended to be made of such Irish clerks as had given
individual proofs of their loyalty.

Soon after the peace of Bretigni had been solemnly ratified
at Calais, in 1360, by the Kings of France and England,
and the latter had returned to London, it was reported
that one of the Princes would be sent over to exercise
the supreme power at Dublin. As no member of the royal
family had visited Ireland since the reign of John--though
Edward I., when Prince, had been appointed his father's
lieutenant--this announcement naturally excited unusual
expectations. The Prince chosen was the King's third son,
Lionel, Duke of Clarence; and every preparation was made
to give _eclat_ and effect to his administration. This
Prince had married, a few years before, Elizabeth de
Burgh, who brought him the titles of Earl of Ulster and
Lord of Connaught, with the claims which they covered.
By a proclamation, issued in England, all who held
possessions in Ireland were commanded to appear before
the King, either by proxy or in person, to take measures
for resisting the continued encroachments of the Irish
enemy. Among the absentees compelled to contribute to
the expedition accompanying the Prince, are mentioned
Maria, Countess of Norfolk, Agnes, Countess of Pembroke,
Margery de Boos, Anna le Despenser, and other noble
ladies, who, by a strange recurrence, represented in this
age the five co-heiresses of the first Earl Marshal,
granddaughters of Eva McMurrogh. What exact force was
equipped from all these contributions is not mentioned;
but the Prince arrived in Ireland with no more than 1,500
men, under the command of Ralph, Earl of Strafford, James,
Earl of Ormond, Sir William Windsor, Sir John Carew, and
other knights. He landed at Dublin on the 15th of September,
1361, and remained in office for three years. On landing
he issued a proclamation, prohibiting natives of the
country, of all origins, from approaching his camp or
court, and having made this hopeful beginning he marched
with his troops into Munster, where he was defeated by
O'Brien, and compelled to retreat. Yet by the flattery
of courtiers he was saluted as the conqueror of Clare,
and took from the supposed fact, his title of _Clarence_.
But no adulation could blind him to the real weakness of
his position: he keenly felt the injurious consequences
of his proclamation, revoked it, and endeavoured to remove
the impression he had made, by conferring knighthood on
the Prestons, Talbots, Cusacks, De la Hydes, and members
of other families, not immediately connected with the
Palatine Earls. He removed the Exchequer from Dublin to
Carlow, and expended 500 pounds--a large sum for that
age--in fortifying the town. The barrier of Leinster was
established at Carlow, from which it was removed, by an
act of the English Parliament ten years afterwards; the
town and castle were retaken in 1397, by the celebrated
Art McMurrogh, and long remained in the hands of his

In 1364, Duke Lionel went to England, leaving de Windsor
as his deputy, but in 1365, and again in 1367, he twice
returned to his government. This latter year is memorable
as the date of the second great stride towards the
establishment of a Penal Code of race, by the enactment
of the "Statute of Kilkenny." This memorable Statute was
drawn with elaborate care, being intended to serve as
the corner stone of all future legislation, and its
provisions are deserving of enumeration. The Act sets
out with this preamble: "Whereas, at the conquest of the
land of Ireland, and for a long time after, the English
of the said land used the English language, mode of
riding, and apparel, and were governed and ruled, both
they and their subjects, called Betaghese (villeins),
according to English law, &c., &c.,--but now many English
of the said land, forsaking the English language, manners,
mode of riding, laws, and usages, live, and govern
themselves according to the manners, fashion, and language
of the Irish enemies, and also have made divers marriages
and alliances between themselves and the Irish enemies
aforesaid--it is therefore enacted, among other provisions,
that all intermarriages, fosterings, gossipred, and buying
or selling with the 'enemie,' shall be accounted
treason--that English names, fashions, and manners shall
be resumed under penalty of the confiscation of the
delinquent's lands--that March-law and Brehon-law are
illegal, and that there shall be no law but English
law--that the Irish shall not pasture their cattle on
English lands--that the English shall not entertain Irish
rhymers, minstrels, or newsmen; and, moreover, that no
'mere Irishmen' shall be admitted to any ecclesiastical
benefice, or religious house, situated within the English

All the names of those who attended at this Parliament
of Kilkenny are not accessible to us; but that the Earls
of Kildare, Ormond, and Desmond, were of the number need
hardly surprise us, alarmed as they all were by the late
successes of the native princes, and overawed by the
recent prodigious victories of Edward III. at Cressy and
Poictiers. What does at first seem incomprehensible is
that the Archbishop not only of Dublin, but of Cashel
and Tuam--in the heart of the Irish country--and the
Bishops of Leighlin, Ossory, Lismore, Cloyne, and Killala,
should be parties to this statute. But on closer inspection
our surprise at their presence disappears. Most of these
prelates were at that day nominees of the English King,
and many of them were English by birth. Some of them
never had possession of their sees, but dwelt within the
nearest strong town, as pensioners on the bounty of the
Crown, while the dioceses were administered by native
rivals, or tolerated vicars. Le Reve, Bishop of Lismore,
was Chancellor to the Duke in 1367; Young, Bishop of
Leighlin, was Vice-Treasurer; the Bishop of Ossory, John
of Tatendale, was an English Augustinian, whose appointment
was disputed by Milo Sweetman, the native Bishop elect;
the Bishop of Cloyne, John de Swasham, was a Carmelite
of Lyn, in the county of Norfolk, afterwards Bishop of
Bangor, in Wales, where he distinguished himself in the
controversy against Wycliffe; the Bishop of Killala we
only know by the name of Robert--at that time very unusual
among the Irish. The two native names are those of the
Archbishops of Cashel and Tuam, Thomas O'Carrol and John
O'Grady. The former was probably, and the latter certainly,
a nominee of the Crown. We know that Dr. O'Grady died an
exile from his see--if he ever was permitted to enter
it--in the city of Limerick, four years after the sitting
of the Parliament of Kilkenny. Shortly after the enactment
of this law, by which he is best remembered, the Duke of
Clarence returned to England, leaving to Gerald, fourth
Earl of Desmond, the task of carrying it into effect. In
the remaining years of this reign the office of Lord
Lieutenant was held by Sir William de Windsor, during
the intervals of whose absence in England the Prior of
Kilmainham, or the Earl of Kildare or of Ormond, discharged
the duties with the title of Lord Deputy or Lord Justice.

It is now time that we should turn to the native annals
of the country to show how the Irish princes had carried
on the contest during the eventful half century which the
reign of Edward III. occupies in the history of England.

In the generation which elapsed from the death of the
Earl of Ulster, or rather from the first avowal of the
policy of proscription in 1342, the native tribes had on
all sides and continuously gained on the descendants of
their invaders. In Connaught, the McWilliams, McWattins,
and McFeoriss retained part of their estates only by
becoming as Irish as the Irish. The lordships of Leyny
and Corran, in Sligo and Mayo, were recovered by the
heirs of their former chiefs, while the powerful family
of O'Conor Sligo converted that strong town into a
formidable centre of operations. Rindown, Athlone,
Roscommon, and Bunratty, all frontier posts fortified
by the Normans, were in 1342, as we learn from the
Remonstrance of Kilkenny, in the hands of the elder race.

The war, in all the Provinces, was in many respects a
war of posts. Towards the north Carrickfergus continued
the outwork till captured by Neil O'Neil, when Downpatrick
and Dundalk became the northern barriers. The latter
town, which seems to have been strengthened after Bruce's
defeat, was repeatedly attacked by Neil O'Neil, and at
last entered into conditions, by which it procured his
protection. At Downpatrick also, in the year 1375, he
gained a signal victory over the English of the town and
their allies, under Sir James Talbot of Malahide, and
Burke of Camline, in which both these commanders were
slain. This O'Neil, called from his many successes Neil
_More_, or the Great, dying in 1397, left the borders of
Ulster more effectually cleared of foreign garrisons than
they had been for a century and a half before. He enriched
the churches of Armagh and Deny, and built a habitation
for students resorting to the primatial city, on the site
of the ancient palace of Emania, which had been deserted
before the coming of St. Patrick.

The northern and western chiefs seem in this age to have
made some improvements in military equipments, and tactics.
_Cooey-na-gall_, a celebrated captain of the O'Kanes, is
represented on his tomb at Dungiven as clad in complete
armour--though that may be the fancy of the sculptor.
Scottish gallowglasses--heavy-armed infantry, trained
in Bruce's campaigns, were permanently enlisted in their
service. Of their leaders the most distinguished were
McNeil _Cam_, or the Crooked, and McRory, in the service
of O'Conor, and McDonnell, McSorley, and McSweeney, in
the service of O'Neil, O'Donnell, and O'Conor Sligo. The
leaders of these warlike bands are called the Constables
of Tyr-Owen, of North Connaught, or of Connaught, and
are distinguished in all the warlike encounters in the
north and west.

The midland country--the counties now of Longford,
West-Meath, Meath, Dublin, Kildare, King's and Queen's,
were almost constantly in arms, during the latter half
of this century. The lords of Annally, Moy-Cashel, Carbry,
Offally, Ely, and Leix, rivalled each other in enterprise
and endurance. In 1329, McGeoghegan of West-Meath defeated
and slew Lord Thomas Butler, with the loss of 120 men at
Mullingar; but the next year suffered an equal loss from
the combined forces of the Earls of Ormond and Ulster;
his neighbour, O'Farrell, contended with even better
fortune, especially towards the close of Edward's reign
(1372), when in one successful foray he not only swept
their garrisons out of Annally, but rendered important
assistance to the insurgent tribes of Meath. In Leinster,
the house of O'Moore, under Lysaght their Chief, by a
well concerted conspiracy, seized in one night (in 1327)
no less than eight castles, and razed the fort of Dunamase,
which they despaired of defending. In 1346, under Conal
O'Moore, they destroyed the foreign strongholds of Ley
and Kilmehedie; and though Conal was slain by the English,
and Rory, one of their creatures, placed in his stead,
the tribe put Rory to death as a traitor in 1354, and
for two centuries thereafter upheld their independence.
Simultaneously, the O'Conors of Offally, and the O'Carrolls
of Ely, adjoining and kindred tribes, so straightened
the Earl of Kildare on the one hand, and the Earl of
Ormond on the other, that a cess of 40 pence on every
carucate (140 acres) of tilled land, and of 40 pence on
chattels of the value of six pounds, was imposed on all
the English settlements, for the defence of Kildare,
Carlow, and the marches generally. Out of the amount
collected in Carlow, a portion was paid to the Earl of
Kildare, "for preventing the O'Moores from burning the
town of Killahan." The same nobleman was commanded, by
an order in Council, to strengthen his Castles of Rathmore,
Kilkea, and Ballymore, under pain of forfeiture. These
events occurred in 1856, '7, and '8.

In the south the same struggle for supremacy proceeded
with much the same results. The Earl of Desmond, fresh
from his Justiceship in Dublin, and the penal legislation
of Kilkenny, was, in 1370, defeated and slain near Adare,
by Brian O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, with several knights
of his name, and "an indescribable number of others."
Limerick was next assailed, and capitulated to O'Brien,
who created Sheedy McNamara, Warden of the City. The
English burghers, however, after the retirement of O'Brien,
rose, murdered the new Warden, and opened the gates to
Sir William de Windsor, the Lord Lieutenant, who had
hastened to their relief. Two years later the whole
Anglo-Irish force, under the fourth Earl of Kildare, was,
summoned to Limerick, in order to defend it against
O'Brien. So desperate now became the contest, that William
de Windsor only consented to return a second time as Lord
Lieutenant in 1374, on condition that he was to act
strictly on the defensive, and to receive annually the
sum of 11,213 pounds 6 shillings 8 pence--a sum exceeding
the whole revenue which the English King derived from
Ireland at that period; which, according to Sir John
Davies, fell short of 11,000 pounds. Although such was
the critical state of the English interest, this lieutenant
obtained from the fears of successive Parliaments annual
subsidies of 2,000 pounds and 3,000 pounds. The deputies
from Louth having voted against his demand, were thrown
into prison; but a direct petition from the Anglo-Irish
to the King brought an order to de Windsor not to enforce
the collection of these grants, and to remit in favour
of the petitioners the scutage "on all those lands of
which the Irish enemy had deprived them."

In the last year of Edward III. (1376), he summoned the
magnates and the burghers of towns to send representatives
to 'London to consult with him on the state of the English
settlements in Ireland. But those so addressed having
assembled together, drew up a protest, setting forth that
the great Council of Ireland had never been accustomed
to meet out of that kingdom, though, saving the rights
of their heirs and successors, they expressed their
willingness to do so, for the King's convenience on that
occasion. Richard Dene and William Stapolyn were first
sent over to England to exhibit the evils of the Irish
administration; the proposed general assembly of
representatives seems to have dropped. The King ordered
the two delegates just mentioned to be paid ten pounds
out of the Exchequer for their expenses.

The series of events, however, which most clearly exhibits
the decay of the English interest, transpired within the
limits of Leinster, almost within sight of Dublin. Of
the actors in these events, the most distinguished for
energy, ability, and good fortune, was Art McMurrogh,
whose exploits are entitled to a separate and detailed



Whether Donald Kavanagh McMurrogh, son of Dermid, was
born out of wedlock, as the Lady Eva was made to depose,
in order to create a claim of inheritance for herself as
sole heiress, this, at least, is certain, that his
descendants continued to be looked upon by the kindred
clans of Leinster as the natural lords of that principality.
Towards the close of the thirteenth century, in the third
or fourth generation, after the death of their immediate
ancestor, the Kavanaghs of Leighlin and Ballyloughlin
begin to act prominently in the affairs of their Province,
and then--chief is styled both by Irish and English "the
McMurrogh." In the era of King Edward Bruce, they were
sufficiently formidable to call for an expedition of the
Lord Justice into their patrimony, by which they are said
to have been defeated. In the next age, in 1335, Maurice,
"the McMurrogh," was granted by the Anglo-Irish Parliament
or Council, the sum of 80 marks annually, for keeping
open certain roads and preserving the peace within its
jurisdiction. In 1358, Art, the successor of Maurice,
and Donald Revagh, were proclaimed "rebels" in a Parliament
held at Castledermot, by the Lord Deputy Sancto Amando,
the said Art being further branded with deep ingratitude
to Edward III., who had acknowledged him as "the Mac-Murch."
To carry on a war against him the whole English interest
was assessed with a special tax. Louth contributed 20
pounds; Meath and Waterford, 2 shillings on every carucate
(140 acres) of tilled land; Kilkenny the same sum, with
the addition of 6 pence in the pound on chattels. This
Art captured the strong castles of Kilbelle, Galbarstown,
Rathville, and although his career was not one of invariable
success, he bequeathed to his son, also called Art, in
1375, an inheritance, extending over a large portion--
perhaps one-half--of the territory ruled by his ancestors
before the invasion.

Art McMurrogh, or Art Kavanagh, as he is more commonly
called, was born in the year 1357, and from the age of
sixteen and upwards was distinguished by his hospitality,
knowledge, and feats of arms. Like the great Brian, he
was a younger son, but the fortune of war removed one by
one those who would otherwise have preceded him in the
captaincy of his clan and connections. About the year
1375--while he was still under age--he was elected
successor to his father, according to the Annalists, who
record his death in 1417, "after being forty-two years
in the government of Leinster." Fortunately he attained
command at a period favourable to his genius and enterprise.
His own and the adjoining tribes were aroused by tidings
of success from other Provinces, and the partial victories
of their immediate predecessors, to entertain bolder
schemes, and they only waited for a chief of distinguished
ability to concentrate their efforts. This chief they
found, where they naturally looked for him, among the
old ruling family of the Province. Nor were the English
settlers ignorant of his promise. In the Parliament held
at Castledermot in 1377, they granted to him the customary
annual tribute paid to his house, the nature of which
calls for a word of explanation. This tribute was granted,
"as the late King had done to his ancestors;" it was
again voted in a Parliament held in 1380, and continued
to be paid so late as the opening of the seventeenth
century (A.D. 1603). Not only was a fixed sum paid out
of the Exchequer for this purpose--inducing the native
chiefs to grant a right of way through their territories
--but a direct tax was levied on the inhabitants of
English origin for the same privilege. This tax, called
"black mail," or "black rent," was sometimes differently
regarded by those who paid and those who received it.
The former looked on it as a stipend, the latter as a
tribute; but that it implied a formal acknowledgment of
the local jurisdiction of the chief cannot be doubted.
Two centuries after the time of which we speak, Baron
Finglas, in his suggestions to King Henry VIII. for
extending his power in Ireland, recommends that "no black
rent be paid to any Irishman _for the four shires_"--of
the Pale--"and any black rent they had afore this time
be paid to them for ever." At that late period "the
McMurrogh" had still his 80 marks annually from the
Exchequer, and 40 pounds from the English settled in
Wexford; O'Carroll of Ely had 40 pounds from the English
in Kilkenny, and O'Conor of Offally 20 pounds from those
of Kildare, and 300 pounds from Meath. It was to meet
these and other annuities to more distant chiefs, that
William of Windsor, in 1369, covenanted for a larger
revenue than the whole of the Anglo-Irish districts then
yielded, and which led him besides to stipulate that he
was to undertake no new expeditions, but to act entirely
on the defensive. We find a little later, that the
necessity of sustaining the Dublin authorities at an
annual loss was one of the main motives which induced
Richard II. of England to transport two royal armies
across the channel, in 1394 and 1399.

Art McMurrogh, the younger, not only extended the bounds
of his own inheritance and imposed tribute on the English
settlers in adjoining districts, during the first years
of his rule, but having married a noble lady of the
"Pale," Elizabeth, heiress to the barony of Norragh, in
Kildare, which included Naas and its neighbourhood, he
claimed her inheritance in full, though forfeited under
"the statute of Kilkenny," according to English notions.
So necessary did it seem to the Deputy and Council of
the day to conciliate their formidable neighbour, that
they addressed a special representation to King Richard,
setting forth the facts of the case, and adding that
McMurrogh threatened, until this lady's estates were
restored and the arrears of tribute due to him fully
discharged, he should never cease from war, "but would
join with the Earl of Desmond against the Earl of Ormond,
and afterwards return with a great force out of Minister
to ravage the country." This allusion most probably refers
to James, second Earl of Ormond, who, from being the
maternal grandson of Edward I., was called the noble
Earl, and was considered in his day the peculiar
representative of the English interest. In the last
years of Edward III., and the first of his successor, he
was constable of the Castle of Dublin, with a fee of 18
pounds 5 shillings per annum. In 1381--the probable date
of the address just quoted--he had a commission to treat
with certain rebels, in order to reform them and promote
peace. Three years later he died, and was buried in the
Cathedral of St. Canice, Kilkenny, the place of sepulture
of his family.

When, in the year 1389, Richard II., having attained his
majority, demanded to reign alone, the condition of the
English interest was most critical. During the twelve
years of his minority the Anglo-Irish policy of the
Council of Regency had shifted and changed, according to
the predominance of particular influences. The Lord
Lieutenancy was conferred on the King's relatives, Edward
Mortimer, Earl of March (1379), and continued to his son,
Roger Mortimer, a minor (1381); in 1383, it was transferred
to Philip de Courtenay, the King's cousin. The following
year, de Courtenay having been arrested and fined for
mal-administration, Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the
special favourite of Richard, was created Marquis of
Dublin and Duke of Ireland, with a grant of all the powers
and authority exercised at any period in Ireland by that
King or his predecessors. This extraordinary grant was
solemnly confirmed by the English Parliament, who, perhaps
willing to get rid of the favourite at any cost, allotted
the sum of 30,000 marks due from the King of France, with
a guard of 500 men-at-arms and 1,000 archers for de Vere's
expedition. But that favoured nobleman never entered into
possession of the principality assigned him; he experienced
the fate of the Gavestons and de Spencers of a former
reign; fleeing, for his life, from the Barons, he died
in exile in the Netherlands. The only real rulers of the
Anglo-Irish in the years of the King's minority, or
previous to his first expedition in 1394, (if we except
Sir John Stanley's short terms of office in 1385 and
1389,) were the Earls of Ormond, second and third, Colton,
Dean of Saint Patrick's, Petit, Bishop of Meath, and
White, Prior of Kilmainham. For thirty years after the
death of Edward III., no Geraldine was entrusted with
the highest office, and no Anglo-Irish layman of any
other family but the Butlers. In 1393, Thomas of Woodstock,
Duke of Gloucester, uncle to Richard, was appointed Lord
Lieutenant, and was on the point of embarking, when a
royal order reached him announcing the determination of
the King to take command of the forces in person.

The immediate motives for Richard's expedition are
variously stated by different authors. That usually
assigned by the English--a desire to divert his mind from
brooding over the loss of his wife, "the good Queen Anne,"
seems wholly insufficient. He had announced his intention
a year before her death; he had called together, before
the Queen fell ill, the Parliament at Westminster, which
readily voted him "a tenth" of the revenues of all their
estates for the expedition. Anne's sickness was sudden,
and her death took place in the last week of July.
Richard's preparations at that date were far advanced
towards completion, and Sir Thomas Scroope had been
already some months in Dublin to prepare for his reception.
The reason assigned by Anglo-Irish writers is more
plausible: he had been a candidate for the Imperial Crown
of Germany, and was tauntingly told by his competitors
to conquer Ireland before he entered the lists for the
highest political honour of that age. This rebuke, and
the ill-success of Ms arms against France and Scotland,
probably made him desirous to achieve in a new field some
share of that military glory which was always so highly
prized by his family:

Some events which immediately preceded Richard's expedition
may help us to understand the relative positions of the
natives and the naturalized to the English interest in
the districts through which he was to march. By this time
the banner of Art McMurrogh floated over all the castles
and raths, on the slope of the Ridge of Leinster, or the
steps of the Blackstair hills; while the forests along
the Barrow and the Upper Slaney, as well as in the plain
of Carlow and in the South-western angle of Wicklow (now
the barony of Shillelagh), served still better his purposes
of defensive warfare; So entirely was the range of country
thus vaguely defined under native sway that John Griffin,
the English Bishop of Leighlin, and Chancellor of the
Exchequer, obtained a grant in 1389 of the town of
Gulroestown, in the county of Dublin, "near the marches
of O'Toole, seeing he could not live within his own see
for the rebels." In 1390, Peter Creagh, Bishop of Limerick,
on his way to attend an Anglo-Irish Parliament, was taken
prisoner in that region, and in consequence the usual
fine was remitted in his favour. In 1392, James, the
third Earl of Ormond, gave McMurrogh a severe check at
Tiscoffin, near Shankill, where 600 of his clansmen were
left dead among the hills.

This defeat, however, was thrown into the shade by the
capture of New Boss, on the very eve of Richard's arrival
at Waterford. In a previous chapter we have described
the fortifications erected round this important seaport
towards the end of the thirteenth century. Since that
period its progress had been steadily onward. In the
reign of Edward III. the controversy which had long
subsisted between the merchants of Ross and those of
Waterford, concerning the trade monopolies claimed by
the latter, had been decided in favour of Ross. At this
period it could muster in its own defence 363 cross-bowmen,
1,200 long-bowmen, 1,200 pikemen, and 104 horsemen--a
force which would seem to place it second to Dublin in
point of military strength. The capture of so important
a place by McMurrogh was a cheering omen to his followers.
He razed the walls and towers, and carried off gold,
silver, and hostages.

On the 2nd of October, 1394, the royal fleet of Richard
arrived from Milford Haven, at Waterford. To those who
saw Ireland for the first time, the rock of Dundonolf,
famed for Raymond's camp, the abbey of Dunbrody, looking
calmly down on the confluence of the three rivers, and
the half-Danish, half-Norman port before them, must have
presented scenes full of interest. To the townsmen the
fleet was something wonderful. The endless succession
of ships of all sizes and models, which had wafted over
30,000 archers and 4,000 men-at-arms; the royal galley
leading on the fluttering pennons of so many great nobles,
was a novel sight to that generation. Attendant on the
King were his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, the young
Earl of March, heir apparent, Thomas Mowbray, Earl of
Nottingham, the Earl of Rutland, the Lord Thomas Percy,
afterwards Earl of Westmoreland, and father of Hotspur,
and Sir Thomas Moreley, heir to the last Lord Marshal of
the "Pale." Several dignitaries of the English Church,
as well Bishops as Abbots, were also with the fleet.
Immediately after landing, a _Te Deum_ was sung in the
Cathedral, where Earl Richard had wedded the Princess
Eva, where Henry II. and John had offered up similar

Richard remained a week at Waterford; gave splendid
_fetes_, and received some lords of the neighbouring
country, Le Poers, Graces, and Butlers. He made gifts to
churches, and ratified the charter given by John to the
abbey of Holy Cross in Munster. He issued a summons to
Gerald, Earl of Desmond, to appear before him by the
feast of the Purification "in whatever part of Ireland
he should then be," to answer to the charge of having
usurped the manor, revenues, and honour of Dungarvan.
Although it was then near the middle of October, he took
the resolution of marching to Dublin, through the country
of McMurrogh, and knowing the memory of Edward the
Confessor to be popular in Leinster, he furled the royal
banner, and hoisted that of the saintly Saxon king, which
bore "a cross patence, or, on a field gules, with four
doves argent on the shield." His own proper banner bore
lioncels and fleur-de-lis. His route was by Thomastown
to Kilkenny, a city which had risen into importance with
the Butlers. Nearly half a century before, this family
had brought artizans from Flanders, who established the
manufacture of woollens, for which the town was ever
after famous. Its military importance was early felt and
long maintained. At this city Richard was joined by Sir
William de Wellesley, who claimed to be hereditary
standard-bearer for Ireland, and by other Anglo-Irish
nobles. From thence he despatched his Earl Marshal into
"Catherlough" to treat with McMurrogh. On the plain of
Ballygorry, near Carlow, Art, with his uncle, Malachy,
O'Moore, O'Nolan, O'Byrne, MacDavid, and other chiefs,
met the Earl Marshal. The terms proposed were almost
equivalent to extermination. They were, in effect, that
the Leinster chieftains, under fines of enormous amount,
payable into the Apostolic chamber, should, before the
first Sunday of Lent, surrender to the English King "the
full possession of all their lands, tenements, castles,
woods, and forts, which by them and all other of the
Kenseologhes, their companions, men, or adherents, late
were occupied within the province of Leinster." And the
condition of this surrender was to be, that they should
have unmolested possession of any and all lands they
could conquer from the King's other Irish enemies elsewhere
in the kingdom. To these hard conditions some of the
minor chiefs, overawed by the immense force brought
against them, would, it seems, have submitted, but Art
sternly refused to treat, declaring that if he made terms
at all, it should be with the King and not with the Earl
Marshal; and that instead of yielding his own lands, his
wife's patrimony in Kildare should be restored. This
broke up the conference, and Mowbray returned discomfitted
to Kilkenny.

King Richard, full of indignation, put himself at the
head of his army and advanced against the Leinster clans.
But his march was slow and painful: the season and the
forest fought against him; he was unable to collect by
the way sufficient fodder for the horses or provisions
for the men. McMurrogh swept off everything of the nature
of food--took advantage of his knowledge of the country
to burst upon the enemy by night, to entrap them into
ambuscades, to separate the cavalry from the foot, and
by many other stratagems to thin their ranks and harass
the stragglers. At length Richard, despairing of dislodging
him from his fastnesses in Idrone, or fighting a way out
of them, sent to him another deputation of "the English
and Irish of Leinster," inviting him to Dublin to a
personal interview. This proposal was accepted, and the
English king continued his way to Dublin, probably along
the sea coast by Bray and the white strand, over Killiney
and Dunleary. Soon after his arrival at Dublin, care was
taken to repair the highway which ran by the sea, towards
Wicklow and Wexford.



At Dublin, Richard prepared to celebrate the festival of
Christmas, with all the splendour of which he was so
fond. He had received letters from his council in England
warmly congratulating him on the results of his "noble
voyage" and his successes against "his rebel Make Murgh."
Several lords and chiefs were hospitably entertained by
him during the holidays--but the greater magnates did
not yet present themselves--unless we suppose them to
have continued his guests at Dublin, from Christmas till
Easter, which is hardly credible.

The supplies which he had provided were soon devoured by
so vast a following. His army, however, were paid their
wages weekly, and were well satisfied. But whatever the
King or his flatterers might pretend, the real object of
all the mighty preparations made was still in the distance,
and fresh supplies were needed for the projected campaign
of 1395. To raise the requisite funds, he determined to
send to England his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester.
Gloucester carried a letter to the regent, the Duke of
York, countersigned "Lincolne," and dated from Dublin,
"Feb. 1, 1395." The council, consisting of the Earls of
Derby, Arundel, de Ware, Salisbury, Northumberland, and
others, was convened, and they "readily voted a tenth
off the clergy, and a fifteenth off the laity, for the
King's supply." This they sent with a document, signed
by them all, exhorting him to a vigorous prosecution of
the war, and the demolition of all forts belonging to
"MacMourgh [or] le grand O'Nel." They also addressed him
another letter, complimentary of his valour and discretion
in all things.

While awaiting supplies from England, Richard made a
progress as far northward as Drogheda, where he took up
his abode in the Dominican Convent of St. Mary Magdalen.
On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, O'Neil, O'Donnell,
O'Reilly, O'Hanlon, and MacMahon, visited and exchanged
professions of friendship with him. It is said they made
"submission" to him as their sovereign lord, but until
the Indentures, which have been spoken of, but never
published, are exhibited, it will be impossible to
determine what, in their minds and in his, were the exact
relations subsisting between the native Irish princes
and the King of England at that time. O'Neil, and other
lords of Ulster, accompanied him back to Dublin, where
they found O'Brien, O'Conor, and McMurrogh, lately arrived.
They were all lodged in a fair mansion, according to the
notion of Master Castide, Froissart's informant, and were
under the care of the Earl of Ormond and Castide himself,
both of whom spoke familiarly the Irish language.

The glimpse we get through Norman spectacles of the
manners and customs of these chieftains is eminently
instructive, both as regards the observers and the
observed. They would have, it seems, very much to the
disedification of the English esquire, "their minstrels
and principal servants sit at the same table and eat from
the same dish." The interpreters employed all their
eloquence in vain to dissuade them from this lewd habit,
which they perversely called "a praiseworthy custom,"
till at last, to get rid of importunities, they consented
to have it ordered otherwise, during their stay as King
Richard's guests.

On the 24th of March the Cathedral of Christ's Church
beheld the four kings devoutly keeping the vigil preparatory
to knighthood. They had been induced to accept that honour
from Richard's hand. They had apologized at first, saying
they were all knighted at the age of seven. But the
ceremony, as performed in the rest of Christendom, was
represented to them as a great and religious custom,
which made the simplest knight the equal of his sovereign,
which added new lustre to the crowned head, and fresh
honour to the victorious sword. On the Feast of the
Annunciation they went through the imposing ceremony,
according to the custom obtaining among their entertainers.

While the native Princes of the four Provinces were thus
lodged together in one house, it was inevitable that
plans of co-operation for the future should be discussed
between them. Soon after the Earl of Ormond, who knew
their language, appeared before Richard as the accuser
of McMurrogh, who was, on his statement, committed to
close confinement in the Castle. He was, however, soon
after set at liberty, though O'Moore, O'Byrne, and John
O'Mullain were retained in custody, probably as hostages,
for the fulfilment of the terms of his release. By this
time the expected supplies had arrived from England, and
the festival of Easter was happily passed. Before breaking
up from his winter quarters Richard celebrated with great
pomp the festival of his namesake, St. Richard, Bishop
of Chichester, and then summoned a parliament to meet
him at Kilkenny on the 12th of the month. The acts of
this parliament have not seen the light; an obscurity
which they share in common with all the documents of this
Prince's progress in Ireland. The same remark was made
three centuries ago by the English chronicler, Grafton,
who adds with much simplicity, that as Richard's voyage
into Ireland "was nothing profitable nor honourable to
him, therefore the writers think it scant worth the

Early in May a deputation, at the head of which was the
celebrated William of Wyckham, arrived from England,
invoking the personal presence of the King to quiet the
disturbances caused by the progress of Lollardism. With
this invitation he decided at once to comply, but first
he appointed the youthful Earl of March his lieutenant
in Ireland, and confirmed the ordinance of Edward III.,
empowering the chief governor in council to convene
parliament by writ, which writ should be of equal obligation
with the King's writ in England. He ordained that a fine
of not less than fifty marks, and not more than one
hundred, should be exacted of every representative of a
town or shire, who, being elected as such, neglected or
refused to attend. He reformed the royal courts, and
appointed Walter de Hankerford and William Sturmey, two
Englishmen, "well learned in the law" as judges, whose
annual salaries were to be forty pounds each. Having made
these arrangements, he took an affectionate leave of his
heir and cousin, and sailed for England, whither he was
accompanied by most of the great nobles who had passed
over with him to the Irish wars. Little dreamt they of
the fate which impended over many of their heads. Three
short years and Gloucester would die by the assassin's
hand, Arundel by the executioner's axe, and Mowbray, Earl
Marshal, the ambassador at Ballygorry, would pine to
death in Italian banishment. Even a greater change than
any of these--a change of dynasty--was soon to come over

The young Earl of March, now left in the supreme direction
of affairs, so far as we know, had no better title to
govern than that he was heir to the English throne, unless
it may have been considered an additional recommendation
that he was sixth in descent from the Lady Eva McMurrogh.
To his English title, he added that of Earl of Ulster
and Lord of Connaught, derived from his mother, the
daughter of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, and those of Lord
of Trim and Clare, from other relations. The counsellors
with whom he was surrounded included the wisest statesmen
and most experienced soldiers of "the Pale." Among them
were Almaric, Baron Grace, who, contrary to the statute
of Kilkenny, had married an O'Meagher of Ikerrin, and
whose family had intermarried with the McMurroghs; the
third Earl of Ormond, an indomitable soldier, who had
acted as Lord Deputy, in former years of this reign;
Cranley, Archbishop of Dublin, and Roche, the Cistercian
Abbot of St. Mary's, lately created Lord Treasurer of
Ireland; Stephen Bray, Chief Justice; and Gerald, fifth
Earl of Kildare. Among his advisers of English birth were
Roger Grey, his successor; the new Judges Hankerford and
Sturmey, and others of less pacific reputation. With
the dignitaries of the Church, and the innumerable priors
and abbots, in and about Dublin, the court of the
Heir-Presumptive must have been a crowded and imposing
one for those times, and had its external prospects been
peaceful, much ease and pleasure might have been enjoyed
within its walls.

In the three years of this administration, the struggle
between the natives, the naturalized, and the English
interest knew no cessation in Leinster. Some form of
submission had been wrung from McMurrogh before his
release from Dublin Castle, in the spring of 1395, but
this engagement extorted under duress, from a guest
towards whom every rite of hospitality had been violated,
he did not feel bound by after his enlargement. In the
same year an attempt was made to entrap him at a banquet
given in one of the castles of the frontier, but warned
by his bard, he made good his escape "by the strength of
his arm, and by bravery." After this double violation of
what among his countrymen, even of the fiercest tribes,
was always held sacred, the privileged character of a
guest, he never again placed himself at the mercy of
prince or peer, but prosecuted the war with unfaltering
determination. In 1396, his neighbour, the chief of
Imayle, carried off from an engagement near Dublin, six
score heads of the foreigners: and the next year--an
exploit hardly second in its kind to the taking of Ross
--the strong castle and town of Carlow were captured by
McMurrogh himself. In the campaign of 1398, on the 20th
of July, was fought the eventful battle of Kenlis, or
Kells, on the banks of the stream called "the King's
river," in the barony of Kells, and county of Kilkenny.
Here fell the Heir-Presumptive to the English crown,
whose premature removal was one of the causes which
contributed to the revolution in England, a year or two
later. The tidings of this event filled "the Pale" with
consternation, and thoroughly aroused the vindictive
temper of Richard. He at once despatched to Dublin his
half-brother, Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent, recently
created Duke of Surrey. To this duke he made a gift of
Carlow castle and town, to be held (if taken) by knights'
service. He then, as much, perhaps, to give occupation
to the minds of his people, as to prosecute his old
project of subduing Ireland, began to make preparations
for his second expedition thither. Death again delayed
him. John of Ghent, Duke of Lancaster, his uncle, and
one of the most famous soldiers of the time, suddenly
sickened, and died. As Henry, his son, was in banishment,
the King, under pretence of appropriating his vast wealth
to the service of the nation, seized it into his own
hands, and despite the warnings of his wisest counsellors
as to the disturbed state of the kingdom, again took up
his march for Milford Haven.

A French knight, named Creton, had obtained leave with
a brother-in-arms to accompany this expedition, and has
left us a very vivid account of its progress. Quitting
Paris they reached London just as King Richard was about
"to cross the sea on account of the injuries and grievances
that his mortal enemies had committed against him in
Ireland, where they had put to death many of his faithful
friends." Wherefore they were further told, "he would
take no rest until he had avenged himself upon MacMore,
who called himself most excellent King and Lord of great
Ireland; where he had but little territory of any kind."

They at once set out for Milford, where, "waiting for
the north wind," they remained "ten whole days." Here
they found King Richard with a great army, and a
corresponding fleet. The clergy were taxed to supply
horses, waggons, and money--the nobles, shires, and towns,
their knights, men-at-arms, and archers-the seaports,
from Whitehaven to Penzance, were obliged, by an order
in council, dated February 7th, to send vessels rated at
twenty-five tons and upwards to Milford, by the octave
of Easter. King's letters were issued whenever the usual
ordinances failed, and even the press-gang was resorted
to, to raise the required number of mariners. Minstrels
of all kinds crowded to the camp, enlivening it by their
strains, and enriching themselves the while. The wind
coming fair, the vessels "took in their lading of bread,
wine, cows and calves, salt meat and plenty of water,"
and the King taking leave of his ladies, they set sail.

In two days they saw "the tower of Waterford." The
condition to which the people of this English stronghold
had been reduced by the war was pitiable in the extreme.
Some were in rags, others girt with ropes, and their
dwellings seemed to the voyagers but huts and holes. They
rushed into the tide up to their waists, for the speedy
unloading of the ships, especially attending to those
that bore the supplies of the army. Little did the proud
cavaliers and well-fed yeomen, who then looked on, imagine,
as they pitied the poor wretches of Waterford, that before
many weeks were over, they would themselves be reduced
to the like necessity--even to rushing into the sea to
contend for a morsel of food.

Six days after his arrival, which was on the 1st of June,
King Richard marched from Waterford "in close order to
Kilkenny." He had now the advantage of long days and warm
nights, which in his first expedition he had not. His
forces were rather less than in 1394; some say twenty,
some twenty-four thousand in all. The Earl of Rutland,
with a reinforcement in one hundred ships, was to have
followed him, but this unfaithful courtier did not greatly
hasten his preparations to overtake his master. With the
King were the Lord Steward of England, Sir Thomas Percy;
the Duke of Exeter; De Spencer, Earl of Gloucester; the
Lord Henry of Lancaster, afterwards King Henry V.; the
son of the late Duke of Gloucester; the son of the Countess
of Salisbury; the Bishop of Exeter and London; the Abbot
of Westminster, and a gallant Welsh gentleman, afterwards
known to fame as Owen Glendower. He dropped the subterfuge
of bearing Edward the Confessor's banner, and advanced
his own standard, which bore leopards and flower de luces.
In this order, "riding boldly," they reached Kilkenny,
where Richard remained a fortnight awaiting news of the
Earl of Rutland from Waterford. No news, however, came.
But while he waited, he received intelligence from Kildare
which gratified his thirst for vengeance. Jenico d'Artois,
a Gascon knight of great discretion and valour, who had
come over the preceding year with the Duke of Surrey,
marching towards Kilkenny, had encountered some bands of
the Irish in Kildare (bound on a like errand to their
prince), whom he fought and put to flight, leaving two
hundred of them dead upon the field. This Jenico, relishing
Irish warfare more than most foreign soldiers of his age,
continued long after to serve in Ireland--married one of
his daughters to Preston, Baron of Naas, and another to
the first Lord Portlester.

On the 23rd of June, "the very vigil of St. John," a
saint to whom the King was very much devoted, Richard,
resolving to delay no longer, left Kilkenny, and marched
directly towards Catherlough. He sent a message in advance
to McMurrogh, "who would neither submit nor obey him in
anyway; but affirmed that he was the rightful King of
Ireland, and that he would never cease from war and the
defence of his country until his death; and said that
the wish to deprive him of it by conquest was unlawful."

Art McMurrogh, now some years beyond middle age, had with
him in arms "three thousand hardy men," "who did not
appear," says our French knight, "to be much afraid of
the English." The cattle and corn, the women and the
helpless, he had removed into the interior of the
fastnesses, while he himself awaited, in Idrone, the
approach of the enemy.

This district, which lies north and south between the
rivers Slaney and Barrow, is of a diversified and broken
soil, watered with several small streams, and patched
with tracts of morass and marsh. It was then half covered
with wood, except in the neighbourhood of Old Leighlin,
and a few other places where villages had grown up around
the castles, raths, and monasteries of earlier days. On
reaching the border of the forest, King Richard ordered
all the habitations in sight to be set on fire; and then
"two thousand five hundred of the well affected people,"
or, as others say, prisoners, "began to hew a highway
into the woods."

When the first space was cleared, Richard, ever fond of
pageantry, ordered his standard to be planted on the new
ground, and pennons and banners arrayed on every side.
Then he sent for the sons of the Dukes of Gloucester and
Lancaster, his cousins, and the son of the Countess of
Salisbury and other bachelors-in-arms, and there knighted
them with all due solemnity. To young Lancaster, he said,
"My fair cousin, henceforth, be preux and valiant, for
you have some valiant blood to conquer." The youth to
whom he made this address was little more than a boy,
but tall of his age, and very vigorous. He had been a
hard student at Oxford, and was now as unbridled as a
colt new loosed into a meadow. He was fond of music, and
afterwards became illustrious as the Fifth Henry of
English history. Who could have foreseen, when first he
put on his spurs by the wood's side, in Catherlough, that
he would one day inherit the throne of England and make
good the pretensions of all his predecessors to the throne
of France?

Richard's advance was slow and wearisome in the forests
of Idrone. His route was towards the eastern coast.
McMurrogh retreated before him, harassing him dreadfully,
carrying off everything fit for food for man or beast,
surprising and slaying his foragers, and filling his camp
nightly with alarm and blood. The English archers got
occasional shots at his men, "so that they did not all
escape;" and they in turn often attacked the rear-guard,
"and threw their darts with such force that they pierced
haubergeon and plates through and through." The Leinster
King would risk no open battle so long as he could thus
cut off the enemy in detail. Many brave knights fell,
many men-at-arms and archers; and a deep disrelish for
the service began to manifest itself in the English camp.

A party of Wexford settlers, however, brought one day to
his camp Malachy McMurrogh, uncle to Art, a timid,
treaty-making man. According to the custom of that
century--observed by the defenders of Stirling and the
burgesses of Calais--he submitted with a _wythe_ about
his neck, rendering up a naked sword. His retinue,
bareheaded and barefoot, followed him into the presence
of Richard, who received them graciously. "Friends,"
said he to them, "as to the evils and wrongs that you
have committed against me, I pardon you on condition that
each of you will swear to be faithful to me for the time
to come." Of this circumstance he made the most, as our
guide goes on to tell in these words: "Then every one
readily complied with his demand; and took the oath. When
this was done he sent word to MacMore, who called himself
Lord and King of Ireland, (_that country_,) where he has
many a wood but little cultivated land, that if he would
come straightways to him with a rope about _his_ neck,
as his uncle had done, he would admit him to mercy, and
elsewhere give him castles and lands in abundance." The
answer of King Art is thus reported: "MacMore told the
King's people he would do no such thing for all the
treasures of the sea or on this side, (the sea,) but
would continue to fight and harass him."

For eleven days longer Richard continued his route in
the direction of Dublin, McMurrogh and his allies falling
back towards the hills and glens of Wicklow. The English
could find nothing by the way but "a few green oats" for
the horses, which being exposed night and day, and so
badly fed, perished in great numbers. The general discontent
now made itself audible even to the ears of the King.
For many days five or six men had but a "single loaf."
Even gentlemen, knights and squires, fasted in succession;
and our chivalrous guide, for his part, "would have been
heartily glad to have been penniless at Poitiers or
Paris." Daily deaths made the camp a scene of continued
mourning, and all the minstrels that had come across the
sea to amuse their victor countrymen, like the poet who
went with Edward II. to Bannockburn to celebrate the
conquest of the Scots, found their gay imaginings turned
to a sorrowful reverse.

At last, however, they came in sight of the sea-coast,
where vessels laden with provisions, sent from Dublin,
were awaiting them. So eager were the famished men for
food, that "they rushed into the sea as eagerly as they
would into their straw." All their money was poured into
the hands of the merchants; some of them even fought in
the water about a morsel of food, while in their thirst
they drank all the wine they could lay hands on. Our
guide saw full a thousand men drunk that day on "the wine
of Ossey and Spain." The scene of this extraordinary
incident is conjectured to have been at or near Arklow,
where the beach is sandy and flat, such as it is not at
any point of Wicklow north of that place.

The morning after the arrival of these stores, King
Richard again set forward for Dublin, determining to
penetrate Wicklow by the valleys that lead from the
Meeting of the Waters to Bray. He had not proceeded far
on his march, when a Franciscan friar reached his camp
as Ambassador from the Leinster King. This unnamed
messenger, whose cowl history cannot raise, expressed
the willingness of his lord to treat with the King,
through some accredited agent--"some lord who might be
relied upon"--"so that _their_ anger (Richard's and his
own), that had long been cruel, might now be extinguished."
The announcement spread "great joy" in the English camp.
A halt was ordered, and a council called. After a
consultation, it was resolved that de Spencer, Earl of
Gloucester, should be empowered to confer with Art. This
nobleman, now but 26 years of age, had served in the
campaign of 1394. He was one of the most powerful peers
of England, and had married Constance, daughter of the
Duke of York, Richard's cousin. From his possessions in
Wales, he probably knew something of the Gaelic customs
and speech. He was captain of the rearguard on this
expedition, and now, with 200 lances, and 1,000 archers,
all of whom were chosen men, he set out for the conference.
The French knight also went with him, as he himself
relates in these words:

"Between two woods, at some distance from the sea, I
beheld MacMore and a body of the Irish, more than I can
number, descend the mountain. He had a horse, without
housing or saddle, which was so fine and good, that it
had cost him, they said, four hundred cows; for there is
little money in the country, wherefore their usual traffic
is only with cattle. In coming down, it galloped so
hard, that, in my opinion, I never saw hare, deer, sheep,
or any other animal, I declare to you for a certainty,
run with such speed as it did. In his right hand he bore
a great long dart, which he cast with much skill. * * *
His people drew up in front of the wood. These two
(Gloucester and the King), like an out-post, met near a
little brook. There MacMore stopped. He was a fine large
man--wondrously active. To look at him, he seemed very
stern and savage, and an able man. He and the Earl spake
of their doings, recounting the evil and injury that
MacMore had done towards the King at sundry times; and
how they all foreswore their fidelity when wrongfully,
without judgment or law, they most mischievously put to
death the courteous Earl of March. Then they exchanged
much discourse, but did not come to agreement; they took
short leave, and hastily parted. Each took his way apart,
and the Earl returned towards King Richard."

This interview seems to have taken place in the lower
vale of Ovoca, locally called Glen-Art, both from the
description of the scenery, and the stage of his march
at which Richard halted. The two woods, the hills on
either hand, the summer-shrunken river, which, to one
accustomed to the Seine and the Thames naturally looked
no bigger than a brook, form a picture, the original of
which can only be found in that locality. The name
itself, a name not to be found among the immediate chiefs
of Wicklow, would seem to confirm this hypothesis.

The Earl on his return declared, "he could find nothing
in him, (Art,) save only that he would ask for _pardon_,
truly, upon condition of having _peace without reserve_,
free from any molestation or imprisonment; otherwise, he
will never come to agreement as long as he lives; and,
(he said,) 'nothing venture, nothing have.' This speech,"
says the French knight, "was not agreeable to the King;
it appeared to me that his face grew pale with anger; he
swore in great wrath by St. Edward, that, no, never would
he depart from Ireland, till, alive or dead, he had him
in his power."

The King, notwithstanding, was most anxious to reach
Dublin. He at once broke up his camp, and marched on
through Wicklow, "for all the shoutings of the enemie."
What other losses he met in those deep valleys our guide
deigns not to tell, but only that they arrived at last
in Dublin "more than 30,000" strong, which includes, of
course, the forces of the Anglo-Irish lords that joined
them on the way. There "the whole of their ills were
soon forgotten, and their sorrow removed." The provost
and sheriffs feasted them sumptuously, and they were all
well-housed and clad. After the dangers they had undergone,
these attentions were doubly grateful to them. But for
long years the memory of this doleful march lived in the
recollection of the English on both sides the Irish sea,
and but once more for above a century did a hostile army
venture into the fastnesses of Idrone and Hy-Kinsellah.

When Richard arrived in Dublin, still galled by the memory
of his disasters, he divided his force into three divisions,
and sent them out in quest of McMurrogh, promising to
whosoever should bring him to Dublin, alive or dead, "100
marks, in pure gold." "Every one took care to remember
these words," says Creton, "for it was a good hearing."
And Richard, moreover, declared that if they did not
capture him when the autumn came, and the trees were
leafless and dry, he would burn "all the woods great and
small," or find out that troublous rebel. The same day
he sent out his three troops, the Earl of Rutland, his
laggard cousin, arrived at Dublin with 100 barges. His
unaccountable delay he submissively apologized for, and
was readily pardoned. "Joy and delight" now reigned in
Dublin. The crown jewels shone at daily banquets,
tournaments, and mysteries. Every day some new pastime
was invented, and thus six weeks passed, and August drew
to an end. Richard's happiness would have been complete
had any of his soldiers brought in McMurrogh's head: but
far other news was on the way to him. Though there was
such merriment in Dublin, a long-continued storm swept
the channel. When good weather returned, a barge arrived
from Chester, bearing Sir William Bagot, who brought
intelligence that Henry of Lancaster, the banished Duke,
had landed at Ravenspur, and raised a formidable
insurrection amongst the people, winning over the Archbishop
of Canterbury, the Duke of York, and other great nobles.
Richard was struck with dismay. He at once sent the Earl
of Salisbury into Wales to announce his return, and then,
taking the evil counsel of Rutland, marched himself to
Waterford, with most part of his force, and collected
the remainder on the way. Eighteen days after the news
arrived he embarked for England, leaving Sir John Stanley
as Lord Lieutenant in Ireland. Before quitting Dublin,
he confined the sons of the Dukes of Lancaster and
Gloucester, in the strong fortress of Trim, from which
they were liberated to share the triumph of the successful
usurper, Henry IV.

It is beyond our province to follow the after-fate of
the monarch, whose Irish campaigns we have endeavoured
to restore to their relative importance. His deposition
and cruel death, in the prison of Pontefract, are familiar
to readers of English history. The unsuccessful
insurrections suppressed during his rival's reign, and
the glory won by the son of that rival, as Henry V., seem
to have established the house of Lancaster firmly on the
throne; but the long minority of Henry VI.--who inherited
the royal dignity at nine months old--and the factions
among the other members of that family, opened
opportunities, too tempting to be resisted, to the rival
dynasty of York. During the first sixty years of the
century on which we are next to enter, we shall find the
English interest in Ireland controlled by the house of
Lancaster; in the succeeding twenty-five years the
partizans of the house of York are in the ascendant;
until at length, after the victory of Bosworth field
(A.D. 1485), the wars of the roses are terminated by the
coronation of the Earl of Richmond as Henry VII., and
his politic marriage with the Princess Elizabeth-the
representative of the Yorkist dynasty. It will be seen
how these rival houses had their respective factions
among the Anglo-Irish; how these factions retarded two
centuries the establishment of English power in Ireland;
how the native lords and chiefs took advantage of the
disunion among the foreigners to circumscribe more and
more the narrow limits of the Pale; and lastly, how the
absence of national unity alone preserved the power so
reduced from utter extinction. In considering all these
far extending consequences of the deposition of Richard II.,
and the substitution of Henry of Lancaster in his stead,
we must give due weight to his unsuccessful Irish wars
as proximate causes of that revolution. The death of the
Heir-Presumptive in the battle of Kells; the exactions
and ill-success of Richard in his wars; the seizure of
John of Ghent's estates and treasures; the absence of
the sovereign at the critical moment: all these are causes
which operated powerfully to that end. And of these all
that relate to Irish affairs were mainly brought about
by the heroic constancy, in the face of enormous odds,
the unwearied energy, and high military skill exhibited
by one man--Art McMurrogh.



One leading fact, which we have to follow in all its
consequences through the whole of the fifteenth century,
is the division of the English and of the Anglo-Irish
interest into two parties, Lancasterians and Yorkists.
This division of the foreign power will be found to have
produced a corresponding sense of security in the minds
of the native population, and thus deprived them of that
next best thing to a united national action, the combining
effects of a common external danger.

The new party lines were not drawn immediately upon the
English revolution of 1399, but a very few years sufficed
to infuse among settlers of English birth or descent the
partizan passions which distracted the minds of men in
their original country. The third Earl of Ormond, although
he had received so many favours from the late King and
his grandfather, yet by a common descent of five generations
from Edward I., stood in relation of cousinship to the
Usurper. On the arrival of the young Duke of Lancaster
as Lord Lieutenant, in 1402, Ormond became one of his
first courtiers, and dying soon after, he chose the Duke
guardian to his heir, afterwards the fourth Earl. This
heir, while yet a minor (1407), was elected or appointed
deputy to his guardian, the Lord Lieutenant; during almost
the whole of the short reign of Henry V. (1413-1421) he
resided at the English Court, or accompanied the King in
his French campaigns, thus laying the foundations of that
influence which, six several times during the reign of
Henry VI., procured his appointment to office as Lord
Deputy, Lord Justice, or Lord Lieutenant. At length, in
the mid-year of the century, his successor was created
Earl of Wiltshire, and entrusted with the important duties
of one of the Commissioners for the fleet, and Lord
Treasurer of England; favours and employments which
sufficiently account for how the Ormond family became
the leaders of the Lancaster party among the Anglo-Irish.

The bestowal of the first place on another house tended
to estrange the Geraldines, who, with some reason, regarded
themselves as better entitled to such honours. During
the first official term of the Duke of Lancaster, no
great feeling was exhibited, and on his departure in
1405, the fifth Earl of Kildare was, for a year, entrusted
with the office of Deputy. On the return of the Duke,
in August, 1408, the Earl rode out to meet him, but was
suddenly arrested with three other members of his family,
and imprisoned in the Castle, His house in Dublin was
plundered by the servants of the Lord Lieutenant, and
the sum of 300 marks was exacted for his ransom. Such
injustice and indignity, as well as the subsequent arrest
of the sixth Earl, in 1418, "for having communicated with
the Prior of Kilmainham"--still more than their rivalry
with the Ormonds, drove the Kildare family into the ranks
of the adherents of the Dukes of York. We shall see in
the sequel the important reacting influence of these
Anglo-Irish combinations upon the fortunes of the white
rose and the red.

To signalize his accession and remove the reproach of
inaction which had been so often urged against his
predecessor, Henry IV, was no sooner seated on the throne
than he summoned the military tenants of the Crown to
meet him in arms upon the Tyne, for the invasion of
Scotland. It seems probable that he summoned those of
Ireland with the rest, as we find in that year (1400)
that an Anglo-Irish fleet, proceeding northwards from
Dublin, encountered a Scottish, fleet in Strangford Lough,
where a fierce engagement was fought, both sides claiming
the victory. Three years later the Dubliners landed at
Saint Ninians, and behaved valiantly, as their train
bands did the same summer against the mountain tribes of
Wicklow. Notwithstanding the personal sojourn of the
unfortunate Richard, and his lavish expenditure among
them, these warlike burghers cordially supported the new
dynasty. Some privileges of trade were judiciously extended
to them, and, in 1407, Henry granted to the Mayors of
the city the privilege of having a gilded sword carried
before them, in the same manner as the Mayors of London.

At the period when these politic favours were bestowed
on the citizens of Dublin, Henry was contending with a
formidable insurrection in Wales, under the leadership
of Owen Glendower, who had learned in the fastnesses of
Idrone, serving under King Richard, how brave men, though
not formed to war in the best schools, can defend their
country against invasion. In the struggle which he
maintained so gallantly during this and the next reign,
though the fleet of Dublin at first assisted his enemies,
he was materially aided afterwards by the constant
occupation furnished them by the clans of Leinster. The
early years of the Lancasterian dynasty were marked by
a series of almost invariable defeats in the Leinster
counties. Art McMurrogh, whose activity defied the chilling
effects of age, poured his cohorts through Sculloge gap,
on the garrisons of Wexford, taking in rapid possession
in one campaign (1406) the castles of Camolin, Ferns,
and Enniscorthy. Returning northward he retook Castledermot,
and inflicted chastisement on the warlike Abbot of Conal,
near Naas, who shortly before attacked some Irish forces
on the Curragh of Kildare, slaying two hundred men.
Castledermot was retaken by the Lord Deputy Scrope the
next year, with the aid of the Earls of Ormond and Desmond,
and the Prior of Kilmainham, at the head of his Knights.
These allies were fresh from a Parliament in Dublin,
where the Statute of Kilkenny had been, according to
custom, solemnly re-enacted as the only hope of the
English interest, and they naturally drew the sword in
maintenance of their palladium. Within six miles of
Callan, in "McMurrogh's country," they encountered that
chieftain and his clansmen. In the early part of the day
the Irish are stated to have had the advantage, but some
Methian captains coming up in the afternoon turned the
tide in favour of the English. According to the chronicles
of the Pale, they won a second victory before nightfall
at the town of Callan, over O'Carroll of Ely, who was
marching to the aid of McMurrogh. But so confused and
unsatisfactory are the accounts of this twofold engagement
on the same day, in which the Deputy in person, and such
important persons as the Earls of Desmond, of Ormond,
and the Prior of Kilmainham commanded, that we cannot
reconcile it with probability. The Irish Annals simply
record the fact that a battle was gained at Callan over
the Irish of Munster, in which O'Carroll was slain. Other
native authorities add that 800 of his followers fell
with O'Carroll, but no mention whatever is made of the
battle with McMurrogh. The English accounts gravely add,
that the evening sun stood still, while the Lord Deputy
rode six miles, from the place of the first engagement
to that of the second. This was the last campaign of
Sir Stephen Scrope; he died soon after by the pestilence
which swept over the island, sparing neither rich nor

The Duke of Lancaster resumed the Lieutenancy, arrested
the Earl of Kildare as before related, convoked a Parliament
at Dublin, and with all the forces he could muster,
determined on an expedition southwards. But McMurrogh
and the mountaineers of Wicklow now felt themselves strong
enough to take the initiative. They crossed the plain
which lies to the north of Dublin, and encamped at
Kilmainham, where Roderick when he besieged the city,
and Brien before the battle of Clontarf, had pitched
their tents of old. The English and Anglo-Irish forces,
under the eye of their Prince, marched out to dislodge
them, in four divisions. The first was led by the Duke
in person; the second by the veteran knight, Jenico
d'Artois, the third by Sir Edward Perrers, an English
knight, and the fourth by Sir Thomas Butler, Prior of
the Order of Saint John, afterwards created by Henry V.,
for his distinguished service, Earl of Kilmain. With
McMurrogh were O'Byrne, O'Nolan, and other chiefs, besides
his sons, nephews, and relatives. The numbers on each
side could hardly fall short of ten thousand men, and
the action may be fairly considered one of the most
decisive of those times. The Duke was carried back wounded
into Dublin; the slopes of Inchicore and the valley of
the Liffey were strewn with the dying and the dead; the
river at that point obtained from the Leinster Irish the
name of _Athcroe_, or the ford of slaughter; the widowed
city was filled with lamentation and dismay. In a petition
addressed to King Henry by the Council, apparently during
his son's confinement from the effects of his wound, they
thus describe the Lord Lieutenant's condition: "His
soldiers have deserted him; the people of his household
are on the point of leaving him; and though they were
willing to remain, our lord is not able to keep them
together; our said lord, your son, is so destitute of
money, that he hath not a penny in the world, nor a penny
can he get credit for."

One consequence of this battle of Kilmainham was, that
while Art McMurrogh lived, no further attacks were made
upon his kindred or country. He died at Ross, on the
first day of January, 1417, in the 60th year of his age.
His Brehon, O'Doran, having also died suddenly on the
same day, it was supposed they were both poisoned by a
drink prepared for them by a woman of the town. "He was,"
say our impartial _Four Masters_, who seldom speak so
warmly of any Leinster Prince, "a man distinguished for
his hospitality, knowledge, and feats of arms; a man full
of prosperity and royalty; a founder of churches and
monasteries by his bounty and contributions," and one
who had defended his Province from the age of sixteen to

On his recovery from the effects of his wound, the Duke
of Lancaster returned finally to England, appointing
Prior Butler his Deputy, who filled that office for five
consecutive years. Butler was an illegitimate son of
the late Earl of Ormond, and naturally a Lancasterian:
among the Irish he was called Thomas _Baccagh_, on account
of his lameness. He at once abandoned South Leinster as
a field of operations, and directed all his efforts to
maintain the Pale in Kildare, Meath, and Louth. His chief
antagonist in this line of action was Murrogh or Maurice
O'Conor, of Offally. This powerful chief had lost two or
three sons, but had gamed as many battles over former
deputies. He was invariably aided by his connexions and
neighbours, the MacGeoghegans of West-Heath. Conjointly
they captured the castles and plundered the towns of
their enemies, holding their prisoners to ransom or
carrying off their flocks. In 1411 O'Conor held to ransom
the English Sheriff of Meath, and somewhat later defeated
Prior Butler in a pitched battle. His greatest victory
was the battle of Killucan, fought on the 10th day of
May, 1414. In this engagement MacGeoghegan was, as usual,
his comrade. All the power of the English Pale was arrayed
against them. Sir Thomas Mereward, Baron of Screen, "and
a great many officers and common soldiers were slain,"
and among the prisoners were Christopher Fleming, son of
the Baron of Slane, for whom a ransom of 1,400 marks was
paid, and the ubiquitous Sir Jenico d'Artois, who, with
some others, paid "twelve hundred marks, beside a reward
and fine for intercession." A Parliament which sat at
Dublin for thirteen weeks, in 1413, and a foray into
Wicklow, complete the notable acts of Thomas _Baccagh's_
viceroyalty. Soon after the accession of Henry V. (1413),
he was summoned to accompany that warlike monarch into
France, and for a short interval the government was
exercised by Sir John Stanley, who died shortly after
his arrival, and by the Archbishop of Dublin, as
Commissioner. On the eve of St. Martin's Day, 1414, Sir
John Talbot, afterwards so celebrated as first Earl of
Shrewsbury, landed at Dalkey, with the title of Lord

The appointment of this celebrated Captain, on the brink
of a war with France, was an admission of the desperate
strait to which the English interest had been reduced.
And if the end could ever justify the means, Henry V.,
from his point of view, might have defended on that ground
the appointment of this inexorable soldier. Adopting the
system of Sir Thomas Butler, Talbot paid little or no
attention to South Leinster, but aimed in the first place
to preserve to his sovereign, Louth and Meath. His most
southern point of operation, in his first Lieutenancy,
was Leix, but his continuous efforts were directed against
the O'Conors of Offally and the O'Hanlons and McMahons
of Oriel. For three succeeding years he made circuits
through these tribes, generally by the same route, west
and north, plundering chiefs and churches, sparing "neither
saint nor sanctuary." On his return to Dublin after these
forays, he exacted with a high hand whatever he wanted
for his household. When he returned to England, 1419, he
carried along with him, according to the chronicles of
the Pale--"the curses of many, because he, being run much
in debt for victuals, and divers other things, would pay
little or nothing at all." Among the natives he left a
still worse reputation. The plunder of a bard was regarded
by them as worse, if possible, than the spoliation of a
sanctuary. One of Talbot's immediate predecessors was
reputed to have died of the malediction of a bard of
West-Meath, whose property he had appropriated; but as
if to show his contempt of such superstition, Talbot
suffered no son of song to escape him. Their satires fell
powerless on his path. Not only did he enrich himself,
by means lawful and unlawful, but he created interest,
which, a few years afterwards, was able to checkmate the
Desmonds and Ormonds. The see of Dublin falling vacant
during his administration, he procured the appointment
of his brother Richard as Archbishop, and left him, at
his departure, in temporary possession of the office of
Lord Deputy. Branches of his family were planted at
Malahide, Belgarde, and Talbotstown, in Wicklow, the
representatives of which survive till this day.

One of this Lieutenant's most acceptable offices to the
State was the result of stratagem rather than of arms.
The celebrated Art McMurrogh was succeeded, in 1417, by
his son, Donogh, who seems to have inherited his valour,
without his prudence. In 1419, in common with the O'Conor
of Offally, his father's friend, he was entrapped into
the custody of Talbot. O'Conor, the night of his capture,
escaped with his companions, and kept up the war until
his death: McMurrogh was carried to London and confined
in the Tower. Here he languished for nine weary years.
At length, in 1428, Talbot, having "got license to make
the best of him," held him to ransom. The people of his
own province released him, "which was joyful news to the

But neither the aggrandizement of new nor the depression
of old families effected any cardinal change in the
direction of events. We have traced for half a century,
and are still farther to follow out, the natural
consequences of the odious _Statute of Kilkenny_. Although
every successive Parliament of the Pale recited and
re-enacted that statute, every year saw it dispensed in
particular cases, both as to trading, intermarriage, and
fostering with the natives. Yet the virus of national
proscription outlived all the experience of its futility.
In 1417, an English petition was presented to the English
Parliament, praying that the law, excluding Irish
ecclesiastics from Irish benefices, should be strictly
enforced; and the same year they prohibited the influx
of fugitives from Ireland, while the Pale Parliament
passed a corresponding act against allowing any one to
emigrate without special license. At a Parliament held
at Dublin in 1421, O'Hedian, Archbishop of Cashel, was
impeached by Gese, Bishop of Waterford, the main charges
being that he loved none of the English nation; that he
presented no Englishman to a living; and that he designed
to make himself King of Minister. This zealous assembly
also adopted a petition of grievances to the King, praying
that as the Irish, who had done homage to King Richard,
"had long since taken arms against the government
notwithstanding their recognizances payable in the
Apostolic chamber, his Highness the King would lay their
conduct before the Pope, and prevail on the Holy Father
to publish _a crusade against them_, to follow up the
intention of his predecessor's grant to Henry II.!"

In the temporal order, as we have seen, the policy of
hatred brought its own punishment. "The Pale," which may
be said to date from the passing of the _Statute of
Kilkenny_ (1367), was already abridged more than one-half.
The Parliament of Kilkenny had defined it as embracing
"Louth, Meath, Dublin, Kildare, Catherlough, Kilkenny,
Wexford, Waterford, and Tipperary," each governed by
Seneschals or Sheriffs. In 1422 Dunlavan and Ballymore
are mentioned as the chief keys of Dublin and Kildare
--and in the succeeding reign Callan in Oriel is set down
as the chief key of that part. Dikes to keep out the
enemy were made from Tallaght to Tassagard, at Rathconnell
in Meath, and at other places in Meath and Kildare.
These narrower limits it long retained, and the usual
phrase in all future legislation by which the assemblies
of the Anglo-Irish define their jurisdiction is "the four
shires." So completely was this enclosure isolated from
the rest of the country that, in the reign at which we
have now arrived, both the Earls of Desmond and Ormond
were exempted from attending certain sittings of Parliament,
and the Privy Council, on the ground that they could not
do so without marching through the enemy's country at
great risk and inconvenience. It is true occasional
successes attended the military enterprises of the
Anglo-Irish, even in these days of their lowest fortunes.
But they had chosen to adopt a narrow, bigoted, unsocial
policy; a policy of exclusive dealing and perpetual
estrangement from their neighbours dwelling on the same
soil, and they had their reward. Their borders were
narrowed upon them; they were penned up in one corner of
the kingdom, out of which they could not venture a league
without license and protection, from the free clansmen
they insincerely affected to despise.



The history of "the Pale" being recounted down to the
period of its complete isolation, we have now to pass
beyond its entrenched and castellated limits, in order
to follow the course of events in other parts of the

While the highest courage was everywhere exhibited by
chiefs and clansmen, no attempt was made to bring about
another National Confederacy, after the fall of Edward
Bruce. One result of that striking _denouement_ of a
stormy career--in addition to those before mentioned--was
to give new life to the jealousy which had never wholly
subsided, between the two primitive divisions of the
Island. Bruce, welcomed, sustained, and lamented by the
Northern Irish, was distrusted, avoided, and execrated
by those of the South. There may have been exceptions,
but this was the rule. The Bards and Newsmen of subsequent
times, according to their Provincial bias, charged the
failure of Bruce upon the Eugenian race, or justified
his fate by aspersing his memory and his adherents of
the race of Conn. This feeling of irritation, always most
deep-seated when driven in by a consciousness of
mismanagement or of self-reproach, goes a great way to
account for the fact, that more than one generation was
to pass away, before any closer union could be brought
about between the Northern and Southern Milesian Irish.

We cannot, therefore, in the period embraced in our
present book, treat the Provinces otherwise than as
estranged communities, departing farther and farther from
the ancient traditions of one central legislative council
and one supreme elective chief. Special, short-lived
alliances between lords of different Provinces are indeed
frequent; but they were brought about mostly by ties of
relationship or gossipred, and dissolved with the
disappearance of the immediate danger. The very idea of
national unity, once so cherished by all the children of
_Miledh Espaigne_, seems to have been as wholly lost as
any of those secrets of ancient handiwork, over which
modern ingenuity puzzles itself in vain. In the times to
which we have descended, it was every principality and
every lordship for itself. As was said of old in Rome,
"Antony had his party, Octavius had his party, but the
Commonwealth had none."

Not alone was the greater unity wholly forgotten, but no
sooner were the descendants of the Anglo-Normans driven
into their eastern enclosure, or thoroughly amalgamated
in language, laws and costume with themselves, than the
ties of particular clans began to loose their binding
force, and the tendency to subdivide showed itself on
every opportunity. We have already, in the book of the
"War of Succession," described the subdivisions of Breffni
and of Meath as measures of policy, taken by the O'Conor
Kings, to weaken their too powerful suffragans. But that
step, which might have strengthened the hands of a native
dynasty, almost inevitably weakened the tribes themselves
in combating the attacks of a highly organized foreign
power. Of this the O'Conors themselves became afterwards
the most striking example. For half a century following
the Red Earl's death, they had gained steadily on the
foreigners settled in Connaught. The terrible defeat of
Athenry was more than atoned for by both other victories.
At length the descendants of the vanquished on that day
ruled as proudly as ever did their ancestors in their
native Province. The posterity of the victors were merely
tolerated on its soil, or anxiously building up new houses
in Meath and Louth. But in an evil hour, on the death of
their last King (1384), the O'Conors agreed to settle
the conflicting claims of rival candidates for the
succession by dividing the common inheritance. From this
date downwards we have an O'Conor Don and an O'Conor Roe
in the Annals of that Province, each rallying a separate
band of partizans; and according to the accidents of age,
minority, alliance, or personal reputation, infringing,
harassing, or domineering over the other. Powerful lords
they long continued, but as Provincial Princes we meet
them no more.

This fatal example--of which there had been a faint
foreshadowing in the division of the McCarthys in the
preceding century--in the course of a generation or two,
was copied by almost every great connection, north and
south. The descendants of yellow Hugh O'Neil in Clandeboy
claimed exemption from the supremacy of the elder family
in Tyrone; the O'Farells, acknowledged two lords of
Annally; the McDonoghs, two lords of Tirerril; there was
McDermott of the Wood claiming independence of McDermott
of the Rock; O'Brien of Ara asserted equality with O'Brien
of Thomond; the nephews of Art McMurrogh contested the
superiority of his sons; and thus slowly but surely the
most powerful clans were hastening the day of their own

A consequence of these subdivisions was the necessity
which arose for new and opposite alliances, among those
who had formerly looked on themselves as members of one
family, with common dangers and common enemies. The pivot
of policy now rested on neighbourhood rather than on
pedigree; a change in its first stages apparently unnatural
and deplorable, but in the long run not without its
compensating advantages. As an instance of these new
necessities, we may adduce the protection and succour
steadily extended by the O'Neils of Clandeboy, to the
McQuillans, Bissets, of the Antrim coast, and the McDonnells
of the Glens, against the frequent attacks of the O'Neils
of Tyrone. The latter laid claim to all Ulster, and long
refused to acknowledge these foreigners, though men of
kindred race and speech. Had it not been that the interest
of Clandeboy pointed the other way, it is very doubtful
if either the Welsh or Scottish settlers by the bays of
Antrim could have made a successful stand against the
overruling power of the house of Dungannon. The same
policy, adopted by native chiefs under similar
circumstances, protected the minor groups of settlers of
foreign origin in the most remote districts--like the
Barretts and other Welsh people of Tyrawley--long after
the Deputies of the Kings of England had ceased to consider
them as fellow-subjects, or to be concerned for their

In like manner the detached towns, built by foreigners,
of Welsh, Flemish, Saxon, or Scottish origin, were now
taken "under the protection" of the neighbouring chief,
or Prince, and paid to him or to his bailiff an annual
tax for such protection. In this manner Wexford purchased
protection of McMurrogh, Limerick from O'Brien, and
Dundalk from O'Neil. But the yoke was not always borne
with patience, nor did the bare relation of tax-gatherer
and tax-payer generate any very cordial feeling between
the parties. Emboldened by the arrival of a powerful
Deputy, or a considerable accession to the Colony, or
taking advantage of contested elections for the chieftaincy
among their protectors, these sturdy communities sometimes
sought by force to get rid of their native masters. Yet
in no case at this period were such town risings ultimately
successful. The appearance of a menacing force, and the
threat of the torch, soon brought the refractory burgesses
to terms. On such an occasion (1444) Dundalk paid Owen
O'Neil the sum of 60 marks and two tuns of wine to avert
his indignation. On another, the townsmen of Limerick
agreed about the same period to pay annually for ever to
O'Brien the sum of 60 marks. Notwithstanding the precarious
tenure of their existence, they all continued jealously
to guard their exclusive privileges. In the oath of office
taken by the Mayor of Dublin (1388) he is sworn to guard
the city's franchises, so that no Irish rebel shall
intrude upon the limits. Nicholas O'Grady, Abbot of a
Monastery in Clare, is mentioned in 1485 as "the twelfth
Irishman that ever possessed the freedom of the city of
Limerick" up to that time. A special bye-law, at a still
later period, was necessary to admit Colonel William
O'Shaughnessy, of one of the first families in that
county, to the freedom of the Corporation of the town of
Galway. Exclusiveness on the one side, and arbitrary
taxation on the other, were ill means of ensuring the
prosperity of these new trading communities; Freedom and
Peace have ever been as essential to commerce as the
winds and waves are to navigation.

The dissolution and reorganization of the greater clans
necessarily included the removal of old, and the formation
of new boundaries, and these changes frequently led to
border battles between the contestants. The most striking
illustration of the struggles of this description, which
occurs in our Annals in the fifteenth century, is that
which was waged for three generations between a branch
of the O'Conors established at Sligo, calling themselves
"lords of Lower Connaught," and the O'Donnells of Donegal.
The country about Sligo had anciently been subject to
the Donegal chiefs, but the new masters of Sligo, after
the era of Edward Bruce, not only refused any longer to
pay tribute, but endeavoured by the strong hand to extend
their sway to the banks of the Drowse and the Erne. The
pride not less than the power of the O'Donnells was
interested in resisting this innovation, for, in the
midst of the debateable land rose the famous mountain of
Ben Gulban (now Benbulben), which bore the name of the
first father of their tribe. The contest was, therefore,
bequeathed from father to son, but the family of Sligo,
under the lead of their vigorous chiefs, and with the
advantage of actual possession, prevailed in establishing
the exemption of their territory from the ancient tribute.
The Drowse, which carries the surplus waters of the
beautiful Lough Melvin into the bay of Donegal, finally
became the boundary between Lower Connaught and Tyrconnell.

We have already alluded to the loss of the arts of
political combination among the Irish in the Middle Ages.
This loss was occasionally felt by the superior minds
both in church and state. It was felt by Donald More
O'Brien and those who went with him into the house of
Conor Moinmoy O'Conor, in 1188; it was felt by the nobles
who, at Cael-uisge, elected Brian O'Neil in 1258; it was
felt by the twelve reguli who, in 1315, invited Edward
Bruce, "a man of kindred blood," to rule over them; it
was imputed as a crime to Art McMurrogh in 1397, that he
designed to claim the general sovereignty; and now in
this century, Thaddeus O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, with
the aid of the Irish of the southern half-kingdom, began
(to use the phrase of the last Antiquary of Lecan) "working
his way to Tara." This Prince united all the tribes of
Munster in his favour, and needing, according to ancient
usage, the suffrages of two other Provinces to ensure
his election, he crossed the Shannon in the summer of
1466 at the head of the largest army which had followed
any of his ancestors since the days of King Brian. He
renewed his protection to the town of Limerick, entered
into an alliance with the Earl of Desmond--which alliance
seems to have cost Desmond his head--received in his camp
the hostages of Ormond and Ossory, and gave gifts to the
lords of Leinster. Simultaneously, O'Conor of Offally
had achieved a great success over the Palesmen, taking
prisoner the Earl of Desmond, the Prior of Trim, the
Lords Barnwall, Plunkett, Nugent, and other Methian
magnates--a circumstance which also seems to have some
connection with the fate of Desmond and Plunkett, who
were the next year tried for treason and executed at
Drogheda, by order of the Earl of Worcester, then Deputy.
The usual Anglo-Irish tales, as to the causes of Desmond's
losing the favour of Edward IV., seem very like
after-inventions. It is much more natural to attribute
that sudden change to some connection with the attempt
of O'Brien the previous year--since this only makes
intelligible the accusation against him of "_alliance_,
fosterage, and alterage with the King's Irish enemies."

From Leinster O'Brien recrossed the Shannon, and overran
the country of the Clan-William Burke. But the ancient
jealousy of Leath-Conn would not permit its proud chiefs
to render hostage or homage to a Munster Prince, of no
higher rank than themselves. Disappointed in his hopes
of that union which could alone restore the monarchy in
the person of a native ruler, the descendant of Brian
returned to Kinkora, where he shortly afterwards fell
ill of fever and died. "It was commonly reported," says
the Antiquary of Lecan, "that the multitudes' envious
eyes and hearts shortened his days."

The naturalized Norman noble spoke the language of the
Gael, and retained his Brehons and Bards like his Milesian
compeer. For generations the daughters of the elder race
had been the mothers of his house; and the milk of Irish
foster-mothers had nourished the infancy of its heirs.
The Geraldines, the McWilliams, even the Butlers, among
their tenants and soldiers, were now as Irish as the
Irish. Whether allies or enemies, rivals or as relatives,
they stood as near to their neighbours of Celtic origin
as they did to the descendants of those who first landed
at Bannow and at Waterford. The "Statute of Kilkenny"
had proclaimed the eternal separation of the races, but
up to this period it had failed, and the men of both
origins were left free to develop whatever characteristics
were most natural to them. What we mean by being left
free is, that there was no general or long-sustained
combination of one race for the suppression of the other
from the period of Richard the Second's last reverses
(A.D. 1399) till the period of the Reformation. Native
Irish life, therefore, throughout the whole of the
fifteenth, and during the first half of the sixteenth
century, was as free to shape and direct itself, to ends
of its own choosing, as it had been at almost any former
period in our history. Private wars and hereditary
blood-feuds, next after the loss of national unity, were
the worst vices of the nation. Deeds of violence and acts
of retaliation were as common as the succession of day
and night. Every free clansman carried his battle-axe to
church and chase, to festival and fairgreen. The strong
arm was prompt to obey the fiery impulse, and it must be
admitted in solemn sadness, that almost every page of
our records at this period is stained with human blood.
But though crimes of violence are common, crimes of
treachery are rare. The memory of a McMahon, who betrayed
and slew his guest, is execrated by the same stoical
scribes, who set down, without a single expression of
horror, the open murder of chief after chief. Taking
off by poison, so common among their cotemporaries, seems
to have been altogether unknown, and the cruelties of
the State Prisons of the Middle Ages undreamt of by our
fierce, impetuous, but not implacable ancestors. The
facts which go to affix the imputation of cruelty on
those ages are, the frequent entries which we find of
deposed chiefs, or conspicuous criminals, having their
eyes put out, or being maimed in their members. By these
barbarous punishments they lost caste, if not life; but
that indeed must have been a wretched remnant of existence
which remained to the blinded lover, or the maimed warrior,
or the crippled tiller of the soil. Of the social and
religious relations existing between the races, we shall
have occasion to speak more fully before closing the
present book.



We have already described the limits to which "the Pale"
was circumscribed at the beginning of the fourteenth
century. The fortunes of that inconsiderable settlement
during the following century hardly rise to the level of
historical importance, nor would the recital of them be
at all readable but for the ultimate consequences which
ensued from the preservation of those last remains of
foreign power in the island. On that account, however,
we have to consult the barren annals of "the Pale" through
the intermediate period, that we may make clear the
accidents by which it was preserved from destruction,
and enabled to play a part in after-times, undreamt of
and inconceivable, to those who tolerated its existence
in the ages of which we speak.

On the northern coasts of Ireland the co-operation of
the friendly Scots with the native Irish had long been
a source of anxiety to the Palesmen. In the year 1404,
Dongan, Bishop of Derry, and Sir Jenico d'Artois, were
appointed Commissioners by Henry IV., to conclude a
permanent peace with McDonald, Lord of the Isles, but,
notwithstanding that form was then gone through during
the reigns of all the Lancasterian Kings, evidence of
the Hiberno-Scotch alliance being still in existence,
constantly recurs. In the year 1430 an address or petition
of the Dublin Council to the King sets forth "that the
enemies and rebels, _aided by the Scots_, had conquered
or rendered tributary almost every part of the country,
_except the county of Dublin_." The presence of Henry V.
in Ireland had been urgently solicited by his lieges in
that kingdom, but without effect. The hero of Agincourt
having set his heart upon the conquest of France, left
Ireland to his lieutenants and their deputies. Nor could
his attention be aroused to the English interest in that
country, even by the formal declaration of the Speaker
of the English Parliament, that "the greater part of the
lordship of Ireland" had been "conquered" by the natives.

The comparatively new family of Talbot, sustained by the
influence of the great Earl of Shrewsbury, now Seneschal
of France, had risen to the highest pitch of influence.
When on the accession of Henry VI., Edward Mortimer, Earl
of March, was appointed Lord Lieutenant, and Dantsey,
Bishop of Meath, his deputy, Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin,
and Lord Chancellor, refused to acknowledge Dantsey's
pretensions because his commission was given under the
private seal of Lord Mortimer. Having effected his object
in this instance, the Archbishop directed his subsequent
attacks against the House of Ormond, the chief favourites
of the King, or rather of the Council, in that reign. In
1441, at a Dublin Parliament, messengers were appointed
to convey certain articles to the King, the purport of
which was to prevent the Earl of Ormond from being made
Lord Lieutenant, alleging against him many misdemeanours
in his former administration, and praying that some
"mighty lord of England" might be named to that office
to execute the laws more effectually "than any Irishman
ever did or ever will do."

This attempt to destroy the influence of Ormond led to
an alliance between that Earl and Sir James, afterwards
seventh Earl of Desmond. Sir James was son of Gerald,
fourth Earl (distinguished as "the Rhymer," or Magician),
by the lady Eleanor Butler, daughter of the second Earl
of Ormond. He stood, therefore, in the relation of cousin
to the cotemporary head of the Butler family. When his
nephew Thomas openly violated the Statute of Kilkenny,
by marrying the beautiful Catherine McCormac, the ambitious
and intriguing Sir James, anxious to enforce that statute,
found a ready seconder in Ormond. Earl Thomas, forced to
quit the country, died an exile at Rouen, in France, and
Sir James, after many intrigues and negotiations, obtained
the title and estates. For once the necessities of Desmond
and Ormond united these houses, but the money of the
English Archbishop of Dublin, backed by the influence of
his illustrious brother, proved equal to them both. In
the first twenty-five years of the reign of Henry VI.
(1422-1447,) Ormond was five times Lieutenant or Deputy,
and Talbot five times Deputy, Lord Justice, or Lord
Commissioner. Their factious controversy culminated with
"the articles" adopted in 1441, which altogether failed
of the intended effect; Ormond was reappointed two years
afterwards to his old office; nor was it till 1446, when
the Earl of Shrewsbury was a third time sent over, that
the Talbots had any substantial advantage over their
rivals. The recall of the Earl for service in France,
and the death of the Archbishop two years later, though
it deprived the party they had formed of a resident
leader, did not lead to its dissolution. Bound together
by common interests and dangers, their action may be
traced in opposition to the Geraldines, through the
remaining years of Henry VI., and perhaps so late as the
earlier years of Henry VII. (1485-1500).

In the struggle of dynasties from which England suffered
so severely during the fifteenth century, the drama of
ambition shifted its scenes from London and York to Calais
and Dublin. The appointment of Richard, Duke of York,
as Lord Lieutenant, in 1449, presented him an opportunity
of creating a Yorkist party among the nobles and people
of "the Pale." This able and ambitious Prince possessed
in his hereditary estate resources equal to great
enterprises. He was in the first place the representative
of the third son of Edward III.; on the death of his
cousin the Earl of March, in 1424, he became heir to that
property and title. He was Duke of York, Earl of March,
and Earl of Rutland, in England; Earl of Ulster and Earl
of Cork, Lord of Connaught, Clare, Meath, and Trim, in
Ireland. He had been, twice Regent of France, during the
minority of Henry, where he upheld the cause of the
Plantagenet King with signal ability. By the peace
concluded at Tours, between England, France, and Burgundy,
in 1444, he was enabled to return to England, where the
King had lately come of age, and begun to exhibit the
weak though amiable disposition which led to his ruin.
The events of the succeeding two or three years were
calculated to expose Henry to the odium of his subjects
and the machinations of his enemies. Town after town and
province after province were lost in France; the Regent
Somerset returned to experience the full force of this
unpopularity; the royal favourite, Suffolk, was banished,
pursued, and murdered at sea; the King's uncles, Cardinal
Beaufort and the Duke of Gloucester, were removed by
death--so that every sign and circumstance of the time
whispered encouragement to the ambitious Duke. When,
therefore, the Irish lieutenancy was offered, in order
to separate him from his partizans, he at first refused
it; subsequently, however, he accepted, on conditions
dictated by himself, calculated to leave him wholly his
own master. These conditions, reduced to writing in the
form of an Indenture between the King and the Duke,
extended his lieutenancy to a period of ten years; allowed
him, besides the entire revenue of Ireland, an annual
subsidy from England; full power to let the King's land,
to levy and maintain soldiers, to place or displace all
officers, to appoint a Deputy, and to return to England
at his pleasure. On these terms the ex-Regent of France
undertook the government of the English settlement in

Arrived at Dublin, _the_ Duke (as in his day he was always
called,) employed himself rather to strengthen his party
than to extend the limits of his government. Soon after
his arrival a son was born to him, and baptized with
great pomp in the Castle. James, fifth Earl of Ormond,
and Thomas, eighth Earl of Desmond, were invited to stand
as sponsors. In the line of policy indicated by this
choice, he steadily persevered during his whole connection
with Ireland--which lasted till his death, in 1460.
Alternately he named a Butler and a Geraldine as his
deputy, and although he failed ultimately to win the Earl
of Ormond from the traditional party of his family, he
secured the attachment of several of his kinsmen. Stirring
events in England, the year after his appointment, made
it necessary for him to return immediately. The unpopularity
of the administration which had banished him had rapidly
augmented. The French King had recovered the whole of
Normandy, for four centuries annexed to the English Crown.
Nothing but Calais remained of all the Continental
possessions which the Plantagenets had inherited, and
which Henry V. had done so much to strengthen and extend.
Domestic abuses aggravated the discontent arising from
foreign defeats. The Bishop of Chichester, one of the
ministers, was set upon and slain by a mob at Portsmouth.
Twenty thousand men of Kent, under the command of Jack
Cade, an Anglo-Irishman, who had given himself out as a
son of the last Earl of March, who died in the Irish
government twenty-five years before, marched upon London.
They defeated a royal force at Sevenoaks, and the city
opened its gate at the summons of Cade. The Kentish men
took possession of Southwark, while their Irish leader
for three days, entering the city every morning, compelled
the mayor and the judges to sit in the Guildhall, tried
and sentenced Lord Say to death, who, with his son-in-law,
Cromer, Sheriff of Kent, was accordingly executed. Every
evening, as he had promised the citizens, he retired with
his guards across the river, preserving the strictest
order among them. But the royalists were not idle, and
when, on the fourth morning Cade attempted as usual to
enter London proper, he found the bridge of Southwark
barricaded and defended by a strong force under the Lord
Scales. After six hours' hard fighting his raw levies
were repulsed, and many of them accepted a free pardon
tendered to them in the moment of defeat. Cade retired
with the remainder on Deptford and Rochester, but gradually
abandoned by them, he was surprised, half famished in a
garden at Heyfield, and put to death. His captor claimed
and received the large reward of a thousand marks offered
for his head. This was in the second week of July; on
the 1st of September, news was brought to London that
the Duke of York had suddenly landed from Ireland. His
partizans eagerly gathered round him at his castle of
Fotheringay, but for five years longer, by the repeated
concessions of the gentle-minded Henry, and the
interposition of powerful mediators, the actual war of
the roses was postponed.

It is beyond our province to follow the details of that
ferocious struggle, which was waged almost incessantly
from 1455 till 1471--from the first battle of St. Albans
till the final battle at Tewksbury. We are interested in
it mainly as it connects the fortunes of the Anglo-Irish
Earls with one or other of the dynasties; and their
fortunes again, with the benefit or disadvantage of their
allies and relatives among our native Princes. Of the
transactions in England, it may be sufficient to say that
the Duke of York, after his victory at St. Albans in '55,
was declared Lord Protector of the realm during Henry's
imbecility; that the next year the King recovered and
the Protector's office was abolished; that in '57 both
parties stood at bay; in '58 an insecure peace was patched
up between them; in '59 they appealed to arms, the Yorkists
gained a victory at Bloreheath, but being defeated at
Ludiford, Duke Richard, with one of his sons, fled for
safety into Ireland.

It was the month of November when the fugitive Duke
arrived to resume the Lord Lieutenancy which he had
formerly exercised. Legally, his commission, for those
who recognized the authority of King Henry, had expired
four months before--as it bore date from July 5th, 1449;
but it is evident the majority of the Anglo-Irish received
him as a Prince of their own election rather than as an
ordinary Viceroy. He held, soon after his arrival, a
Parliament at Dublin, which met by adjournment at Drogheda
the following spring. The English Parliament having
declared him, his duchess, sons, and principal adherents
traitors, and writs to that effect having been sent over,
the Irish Parliament passed a declaratory Act (1460)
making the service of all such writs treason against
_their_ authority--"it having been ever customary in
their land to receive and entertain strangers with due
respect and hospitality." Under this law, an emissary of
the Earl of Ormond, upon whom English writs against the
fugitives were found, was executed as a traitor. This
independent Parliament confirmed the Duke in his office;
made it high treason to imagine his death, and--taking
advantage of the favourable conjuncture of affairs--they
further declared that the inhabitants of Ireland could
only be bound by laws made in Ireland; that no writs were
of force unless issued under the great seal of Ireland;
that the realm had of ancient right its own Lord Constable
and Earl Marshal, by whom alone trials for treason alleged
to have been committed in Ireland could be conducted. In
the same busy spring, the Earl of Warwick (so celebrated
as "the Kingmaker" of English history) sailed from Calais,
of which he was Constable, with the Channel-fleet, of
which he was also in command, and doubling the Land's
End of England, arrived at Dublin to concert measures
for another rising in England. He found the Duke at Dublin
"surrounded by his Earls and homagers," and measures were
soon concerted between them.

An appeal to the English nation was prepared at this
Conference, charging upon Henry's advisers that they had
written to the French King to besiege Calais, and to the
Irish Princes to expel the English settlers. The loyalty
of the fugitive lords, and their readiness to prove their
innocence before their sovereign, were stoutly asserted.
Emissaries were despatched in every direction; troops
were raised; Warwick soon after landed in Kent-always
strongly pro-Yorkist-defeated the royalists at Northampton
in July, and the Duke reaching London in October, a
compromise was agreed to, after much discussion, in which
Henry was to have the crown for life, while the Duke was
acknowledged as his successor, and created president of
his council.

We have frequently remarked in our history the recurrence
of conflicts between the north and south of the island.
The same thing is distinctly traceable through the annals
of England down to a quite recent period. Whether difference
of race, or of admixture of race may not lie at the
foundation of such long-living enmities, we will not here
attempt to discuss; such, however, is the fact. Queen
Margaret had fled northward after the defeat of Northampton
towards the Scottish border, from which she now returned
at the head of 20,000 men. The Duke advanced rapidly to
meet her, and engaging with a far inferior force at
Wakefield, was slain in the field, or beheaded after the
battle. All now seemed lost to the Yorkist party, when
young Edward, son of Duke Richard, advancing from the
marches of Wales at the head of an army equal in numbers
to the royalists, won, in the month of February, 1461,
the battles of Mortimers-cross and Barnet, and was crowned
at Westminster in March, by the title of Edward IV. The
sanguinary battle of Towton, soon after his coronation,
where 38,000 dead were reckoned by the heralds, confirmed
his title and established his throne. Even the subsequent
hostility of Warwick--though it compelled him once to
surrender himself a prisoner, and once to fly the
country--did not finally transfer the sceptre to his
rival. Warwick was slain in the battle of Tewkesbury
(1471), the Lancasterian Prince Edward was put to death
on the field, and his unhappy father was murdered in
prison. Two years later, Henry, Earl of Richmond, grandson
of Catherine, Queen of Henry V. and Owen Ap Tudor, the
only remaining leader capable of rallying the beaten
party, was driven into exile in France, from which he
returned fourteen years afterwards to contest the crown
with Richard III.

In these English wars, the only Irish nobleman who
sustained the Lancasterian cause was James, fifth Earl
of Ormond. He had been created by Henry, Earl of Wiltshire,
during his father's lifetime, in the same year in which
his father stood sponsor in Dublin for the son of the
Duke. He succeeded to the Irish title and estates in
1451: held a foremost rank in almost all the engagements
from the battle of Saint Albans to that of Towton, in
which he was taken prisoner and executed by order of
Edward IV. His blood was declared attainted, and his
estates forfeited; but a few years later both the title
and property were restored to Sir John Butler, the sixth
Earl. On the eve of the open rupture between the Roses,
another name intimately associated with Ireland disappeared
from the roll of the English nobility. The veteran Talbot,
Earl of Shrewsbury, in the eightieth year of his age,
accepted the command of the English forces in France,
retook the city of Bordeaux, but fell in attack on the
French camp at Chatillon, in the subsequent campaign-1453.
His son, Lord Lisle, was slain at the same time, defending
his father's body. Among other consequences which ensued,
the Talbot interest in Ireland suffered from the loss of
so powerful a patron at the English court. We have only
to add that at Wakefield, and in most of the other
engagements, there was a strong Anglo-Irish contingent
in the Yorkist ranks, and a smaller one--chiefly tenants
of Ormond--on the opposite side. Many writers complain
that the House of York drained "the Pale" of its defenders,
and thus still further diminished the resources of the
English interest in Ireland.

In the last forty years of the fifteenth century, the
history of "the Pale" is the biography of the family of
the Geraldines. We must make some brief mention of the
remarkable men to whom we refer.

Thomas, eighth Earl of Desmond, for his services to the
House of York, was appointed Lord Deputy in the first
years of Edward IV. He had naturally made himself obnoxious
to the Ormond interest, but still more so to the Talbots,
whose leader in civil contests was Sherwood, Bishop of
Meath--for some years, in despite of the Geraldines, Lord
Chancellor. Between him and Desmond there existed the
bitterest animosity. In 1464, nine of the Deputy's men
were slain in a broil in Fingall, by tenants or servants
of the Bishop. The next year each party repaired to London
to vindicate himself and criminate his antagonist. The
Bishop seems to have triumphed, for in 1466, John Tiptoft,
Earl of Worcester, called in England, for his barbarity
to Lancasterian prisoners, "the Butcher," superseded
Desmond. The movement of Thaddeus O'Brien, already related,
the same year, gave Tiptoft grounds for accusing Desmond,
Kildare, Sir Edward Plunkett, and others, of treason. On
this charge he summoned them before him at Drogheda in
the following February. Kildare wisely fled to England,
where he pleaded his innocence successfully with the
King. But Desmond and Plunkett, over-confident of their
own influence, repaired to Drogheda, were tried, condemned,
and beheaded. Their execution took place on the 15th day
of February, 1467. It is instructive to add that Tiptoft,
a few years later, underwent the fate in England, without
exciting a particle of the sympathy felt for Desmond.

Thomas, seventh Earl of Kildare, succeeded on his safe
return from England to more than the power of his late
relative. The office of Chancellor, after a sharp
struggle, was taken from Bishop Sherwood, and confirmed
to him for life by an act of the twelfth, Edward III. He
had been named Lord Justice after Tiptoft's recall, in
1467, and four years later exchanged the title for that
of Lord Deputy to the young Duke of Clarence--the nominal
Lieutenant. In 1475, on some change of Court favour, the
supreme power was taken from him, and conferred on the
old enemy of his House, the Bishop of Meath. Kildare died
two years later, having signalized his latter days by
founding an Anglo-Irish order of chivalry, called "the
Brothers of St. George." This order was to consist of 13
persons of the highest rank within the Pale, 120 mounted
archers, and 40 horsemen, attended by 40 pages. The
officers were to assemble annually in Dublin, on St.
George's Day, to elect their Captain from their own
number. After having existed twenty years the Brotherhood
was suppressed by the jealousy of Henry VII., in 1494.

Gerald, eighth Earl of Kildare (called in the Irish Annals
Geroit More, or "the Great"), succeeded his father in
1477. He had the gratification of ousting Sherwood from
the government the following year, and having it transferred
to himself. For nearly forty years he continued the
central figure among the Anglo-Irish, and as his family
were closely connected by marriage with the McCarthys,
O'Carrolls of Ely, the O'Conors of Offally, O'Neils and
O'Donnells, he exercised immense influence over the
affairs of all the Provinces. In his tune, moreover, the
English interest, under the auspices of an undisturbed
dynasty, and a cautious, politic Prince (Henry VII.),
began by slow and almost imperceptible degrees to recover
the unity and compactness it had lost ever since the Red
Earl's death.



Perhaps no preface could better introduce to the reader
the singular events which marked the times of Gerald,
eighth Earl of Kildare, than a brief account of one of
his principal partizans--Sir James Keating, Prior of the
Knights of St. John. The family of Keating, of Norman-Irish
origin, were most numerous in the fifteenth century in
Kildare, from which they afterwards spread into Tipperary
and Limerick. Sir James Keating, "a mere Irishman," became
Prior of Kilmainham about the year 1461, at which time
Sir Robert Dowdal, deputy to the Lord Treasurer, complained
in Parliament, that being on a pilgrimage to one of the
shrines of the Pale, he was assaulted near Cloniff, by
the Prior, with a drawn sword, and thereby put in danger
of his life. It was accordingly decreed that Keating
should pay to the King a hundred pounds fine, and to Sir
Robert a hundred marks; but, from certain technical errors
in the proceedings, he successfully evaded both these
penalties. When in the year 1478 the Lord Grey of Codner
was sent over to supersede Kildare, he took the decided
step of refusing to surrender to that nobleman the Castle
of Dublin, of which he was Constable. Being threatened
with an assault, he broke down the bridge and prepared
his defence, while his Mend, the Earl of Kildare, called
a Parliament at Naas, in opposition to Lord Grey's Assembly
at Dublin. In 1480, after two years of rival parties and
viceroys, Lord Grey was feign to resign his office, and
Kildare was regularly appointed Deputy to Richard, Duke
of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III. Two years later,
Keating was deprived of his rank by Peter d'Aubusson,
Grand Master of Rhodes, who appointed Sir Marmaduke
Lumley, an English knight, in his stead. Sir Marmaduke
landed soon after at Clontarf, where he was taken prisoner
by Keating, and kept in close confinement until he had
surrendered all the instruments of his election and
confirmation. He was then enlarged, and appointed to the
commandery of Kilseran, near Castlebellingham, in Louth.
In the year 1488, Keating was one of those who took an
active part in favour of the pretender Lambert Simnel,
and although his pardon had been sternly refused by
Henry VII., he retained possession of the Hospital until
1491, when he was ejected by force, "and ended his
turbulent life," as we are told, "in the most abject
poverty and disgrace." All whom he had appointed to office
were removed; an Act of Parliament was passed, prohibiting
the reception of any "mere Irishman" into the Order for
the future, and enacting that whoever was recognized as
Prior by the Grand Master should be of English birth,
and one having such a connection with the Order there as
might strengthen the force and interest of the Kings of
England in Ireland.

The fact most indicative of the spirit of the times is,
that a man of Prior Keating's disposition could, for
thirty years, have played such a daring part as we have
described in the city of Dublin. During the greater part
of that period, he held the office of Constable of the
Castle and Prior of Kilmainham, in defiance of English
Deputies and English Kings; than which no farther evidence
may be adduced to show how completely the English, interest
was extinguished, even within the walls of Dublin, during
the reign of the last of the Plantagenet Princes, and
the first years of Henry VII.

In 1485, Henry, Earl of Richmond, grandson of Queen
Catherine and Owen ap Tudor, returned from his fourteen
years' exile in France, and, by the victory of Bosworth,
took possession of the throne. The Earl of Kildare,
undisputed Deputy during the last years of Edward IV.,
had been continued by Richard, and was not removed by
Henry VII. Though a staunch Yorkist, he showed no outward
opposition to the change of dynasty, for which he found
a graceful apology soon afterwards. Being at Mass, in
Christ's Church Cathedral, on the 2nd of February, 1486,
he received intelligence of Henry's marriage with Elizabeth
of York, which he at once communicated to the Archbishop
of Dublin, and ordered an additional Mass for the King
and Queen. Yet, from the hour of that union of the houses
of York and Lancaster, it needed no extraordinary wisdom
to foresee that the exemption of the Anglo-Irish nobles
from the supremacy of their nominal King must come to an
end, and the freedom of the old Irish from any formidable
external danger must also close. The union of the Roses,
so full of the promise of peace for England, was to form
the date of a new era in her relations with Ireland. The
tide of English power was at that hour at its lowest ebb;
it had left far in the interior the landmarks of its
first irresistible rush; it might be said, without
exaggeration, that Gaelic children now gathered shells
and pebbles where that tide once rolled, charged with
all its thunders; it was now about to turn; the first
murmuring menace of new encroachments began to be heard
under Henry VII.; as we listen they grow louder on the
ear; the waves advance with a steady, deliberate march,
unlike the first impetuous onslaught of the Normans; they
advance and do not recede, till they recover all the
ground they had abandoned. The era which we dated from
the Red Earl's death, in 1333, has exhausted its resources
of aggression and assimilation; a new era opens with the
reign of Henry VII.--or more distinctly still, with that
of his successor, Henry VIII. We must close our account
with the old era, before entering upon the new.

The contest between the Earl of Kildare and Lord Grey
for the government (1478-1480) marks the lowest ebb of
the English power. We have already related how Prior
Keating shut the Castle gates on the English deputy, and
threatened to fire on his guard if he attempted to force
them. Lord Portlester also, the Chancellor, and
father-in-law to Kildare, joined that Earl in his Parliament
at Naas with the great seal. Lord Grey, in his Dublin
Assembly, declared the great seal cancelled, and ordered
a new one to be struck, but after a two years' contest
he was obliged to succumb to the greater influence of
the Geraldines. Kildare was regularly acknowledged Lord
Deputy, under the King's privy seal. It was ordained that
thereafter there should be but one Parliament convoked
during the year; that but one subsidy should be demanded,
annually, the sum "not to exceed a thousand marks."
Certain Acts of both Parliaments--Grey's and
Kildare's--were by compromise confirmed. Of these were
two which do not seem to collate very well with each
other; one prohibiting the inhabitants of the Pale from
holding any intercourse whatsoever with the mere Irish;
the other extending to Con O'Neil, Prince of Tyrone, and
brother-in-law of Kildare, the rights of a naturalized
subject within the Pale. The former was probably Lord
Grey's; the latter was Lord Kildare's legislation.

Although Henry VII. had neither disturbed the Earl in
his governments, nor his brother, Lord Thomas, as
Chancellor, it was not to be expected that he could place
entire confidence in the leading Yorkist family among
the Anglo-Irish. The restoration of the Ormond estates,
in favour of Thomas, seventh Earl, was both politic and
just, and could hardly be objectionable to Kildare, who
had just married one of his daughters to Pierce Butler,
nephew and heir to Thomas. The want of confidence between
the new King and his Deputy was first exhibited in 1486,
when the Earl, being summoned to attend on his Majesty,
called a Parliament at Trim, which voted him an address,
representing that in the affairs about to be discussed,
his presence was absolutely necessary. Henry affected to
accept the excuse as valid, but every arrival of Court
news contained some fresh indication of his deep-seated
mistrust of the Lord Deputy, who, however, he dared not
yet dismiss.

The only surviving Yorkists who could put forward
pretensions to the throne were the Earl of Lincoln,
Richard's declared heir, and the young Earl of Warwick,
son of that Duke of Clarence who was born in Dublin Castle
in 1449. Lincoln, with Lord Lovell and others of his
friends, was in exile at the court of the dowager Duchess
of Burgundy, sister to Edward IV.; and the son of
Clarence--a lad of fifteen years of age--was a prisoner
in the Tower. In the year 1486, a report spread of the
escape of this Prince, and soon afterwards Richard Symon,
a Priest of Oxford, landed in Dublin with a youth of the
same age, of prepossessing appearance and address, who
could relate with the minutest detail the incidents of
his previous imprisonment. He was at once recognized as
the son of Clarence by the Earl of Kildare and his party,
and preparations were made for his coronation by the
title of Edward VI. Henry, alarmed, produced from the
Tower the genuine Warwick, whom he publicly paraded
through London, in order to prove that the pretender in
Dublin was an impostor. The Duchess of Burgundy, however,
fitted out a fleet, containing 2,000 veteran troops,
under the command of Martin Swart, who, sailing up the
channel, reached Dublin without interruption. With this
fleet came the Earl of Lincoln, Lord Lovell, and the
other English refugees, who all recognized the _protege_
of Father Symon as the true Prince. Octavius, the Italian
Archbishop of Armagh, then residing at Dublin, the Bishop
of Clogher, the Butlers, and the Baron of Howth, were
incredulous or hostile. The great majority of the
Anglo-Irish lords, spiritual and temporal, favoured his
cause, and he was accordingly crowned in Christ Church
Cathedral, with a diadem taken from an image of our Lady,
on the 24th of May, 1487; the Deputy, Chancellor, and
Treasurer were present; the sermon was preached by Pain,
Bishop of Meath. A Parliament was next convoked in his
name, in which the Butlers and citizens of Waterford were
proscribed as traitors. A herald from the latter city,
who had spoken over boldly, was hanged by the Dubliners
as a proof of their loyalty. The Council ordered a force
to be equipped for the service of his new Majesty in
England, and Lord Thomas Fitzgerald resigned the
Chancellorship to take the command. This expedition--the
last which invaded England from the side of Ireland
--sailed from Dublin about the first of June, and landing
on the Lancashire shore, at the pile of Foudray, marched
to Ulverstone, where they were joined by Sir Thomas
Broughton and other devoted Yorkists. From Ulverstone
the whole force, about 8,000 strong, marched into Yorkshire,
and from Yorkshire southwards into Nottingham. Henry,
who had been engaged in making a progress through the
southern counties, hastened to meet him, and both armies
met at Stoke-upon-Trent, near Newark, on the 16th day of
June, 1487. The battle was contested with the utmost
obstinacy, but the English prevailed. The Earl of Lincoln,
the Lords Thomas and Maurice Fitzgerald, Plunkett, son
of Lord Killeen, Martin Swart, and Sir Thomas Broughton
were slain; Lord Lovell escaped, but was never heard of
afterwards; the pretended Edward VI. was captured, and
spared by Henry only to be made a scullion in his kitchen.
Father Symon was cast into prison, where he died, after
having confessed that his _protege_ was Lambert Simnel,
the son of a joiner at Oxford.

Nothing shows the strength of the Kildare party, and the
weakness of the English interest, more than that the
deputy and his partizans were still continued in office.
They despatched a joint letter to the King, deprecating
his anger, which he was prudent enough to conceal. He
sent over, the following spring, Sir Richard Edgecombe,
Comptroller of his household, accompanied by a guard of
500 men. Sir Richard first touched at Kinsale, where he
received the homage of the Lords Barry and de Courcy; he
then sailed to Waterford, where he delivered to the Mayor
royal letters confirming the city in its privileges, and
authorizing its merchants to seize and distress those of
Dublin, unless they made their submission. After leaving
Waterford, he landed at Malahide, passing by Dublin, to
which he proceeded by land, accompanied with his guard.
The Earl of Kildare was absent on a pilgrimage, from
which he did not return for several days. His first
interviews with Edgecombe were cold and formal, but
finally on the 21st of July, after eight or ten days'
disputation, the Earl and the other lords of his party
did homage to King Henry, in the great chamber of his
town-house in Thomas Court, and thence proceeding to the
chapel, took the oath of allegiance on the consecrated
host. With this submission Henry was fain to be content;
Kildare, Portlester, and Plunkett were continued in
office. The only one to whom the King's pardon was
persistently refused was Sir James Keating, Prior of

In the subsequent attempts of Perkin Warbeck (1492-1499),
in the character of Richard, Duke of York, one of the
Princes murdered in the tower by Richard III., the
Anglo-Irish took a less active part. Warbeck landed at
Cork from Lisbon, and despatched letters to the Earls of
Kildare and Desmond, to which they returned civil but
evasive replies. At Cork he received an invitation from
the King of France to visit that country, where he remained
till the conclusion of peace between France and England.
He then retired to Burgundy, where he was cordially
received by the Duchess; after an unsuccessful descent
on the coast of Kent, he took refuge in Scotland, where
he married a lady closely allied to the crown. In 1497
he again tried his fortune in the South of Ireland, was
joined by Maurice, tenth Earl of Desmond, the Lord Barry,
and the citizens of Cork. Having laid siege to Waterford,
he was compelled to retire with loss, and Desmond having
made his peace with Henry, Warbeck was forced again to
fly into Scotland. In 1497 and '8, he made new attempts
to excite insurrection in his favour in the north of
England and in Cornwall. He was finally taken and put
to death on the 16th of November, 1499. With him suffered
his first and most faithful adherent, John Waters, who
had been Mayor of Cork at his first landing from Lisbon,
in 1492, and who is ignorantly or designedly called by
Henry's partizan "O'Water." History has not yet positively
established the fraudulency of this pretender. A late
eminently cautious writer, with all the evidence which
modern research has accumulated, speaks of him as "one
of the most mysterious persons in English history;" and
in mystery we must leave him.

We have somewhat anticipated events, in other quarters,
in order to dispose of both the Yorkist pretenders at
the same time. The situation of the Earls of Kildare in
this and the next reign, though full of grandeur, was
also full of peril. Within the Pale they had one part to
play, without the Pale another. Within the Pale they held
one language, without it another. At Dublin they were
English Earls, beyond the Boyne or the Barrow, they were
Irish chiefs. They had to tread their cautious, and not
always consistent way, through the endless complications
which must arise between two nations occupying the same
soil, with conflicting allegiance, language, laws, customs,
and interests. While we frequently feel indignant at
the tone they take towards the "Irish enemy" in their
despatches to London--the pretended enemies being at that
very time their confidants and allies-on farther reflection
we feel disposed to make some allowance on the score of
circumstance and necessity, for a duplicity which, in
the end, brought about, as duplicity in public affairs
ever does, its own punishment.

In Ulster as well as in Leinster, the ascendency of the
Earl of Kildare over the native population was widespread
and long sustained. Con O'Neil, Lord of Tyrone, from 1483
to 1491, and Turlogh, Con and Art, his sons and successors
(from 1498 to 1548), maintained the most intimate relations
with this Earl and his successors. To the former he was
brother-in-law, and to the latter, of course, uncle; to
all he seems to have been strongly attached. Hugh Roe
O'Donnell, Lord of Tyrconnell (1450-1505), and his son
and successor, Hugh Dhu O'Donnell, (1505-1530), were also
closely connected with Kildare both by friendship and
intermarriage. In 1491, O'Neil and O'Donnell mutually
submitted their disputes to his decision, at his Castle
of Maynooth, and though he found it impossible to reconcile
them at the moment, we find both of these houses cordially
united with him afterwards. In 1498, he took Dungannon
and Omagh, "with great guns," from the insurgents against
the authority of his grandson, Turlogh O'Neil, and restored
them to Turlogh; the next year he visited O'Donnell, and
brought his son Henry to be fostered among the kindly
Irish of Tyrconnell. In the year 1500 he also placed
the Castle of Kinnaird in the custody of Turlogh O'Neil.
In Leinster, the Geraldine interest was still more entirely
bound up with that of the native population. His son,
Sir Oliver of Killeigh, married an O'Conor of Offally;
the daughter of another son, Sir James of Leixlip,
(sometimes called the Knight of the Valley) became the
wife of the chief of Imayle. The Earl of Ormond, and
Ulick Burke of Clanrickarde, were also sons-in-law of
the eighth Earl, but in both these cases the old family
feuds survived in despite of the new family alliances.

In the fourth year after his accession, Henry VII.,
proceeding by slow degrees to undermine Kildare's enormous
power, summoned the chief Anglo-Irish nobles to his Court
at Greenwich, where he reproached them with their support
of Simnel, who, to their extreme confusion, he caused to
wait on them as butler, at dinner. A year or two afterwards,
he removed Lord Portlester, from the Treasurership, which
he conferred on Sir James Butler, the bastard of Ormond.
Plunkett, the Chief-Justice, was promoted to the
Chancellorship, and Kildare himself was removed to make
way for Fitzsymons, Archbishop of Dublin. This, however,
was but a government _ad interim_, for in the year 1494,
a wholly English administration was appointed. Sir Edward
Poynings, with a picked force of 1,000 men, was appointed
Lord Deputy; the Bishop of Bangor was appointed Chancellor,
Sir Hugh Conway, an Englishman, was to be Treasurer; and
these officials were accompanied by an entirely new bench
of judges, all English, whom they were instructed to
instal immediately on their arrival. Kildare had resisted
the first changes with vigour, and a bloody feud had
taken place between his retainers and those of Sir James
of Ormond, on the green of Oxmantown--now Smithfield, in
Dublin. On the arrival of Poynings, however, he submitted
with the best possible grace, and accompanied that deputy
to Drogheda, where he had summoned a Parliament to meet
him. From Drogheda, they made an incursion into O'Hanlon's
country (Orior in Armagh). On returning from Drogheda,
Poynings, on a real or pretended discovery of a secret
understanding between O'Hanlon and Kildare, arrested the
latter, in Dublin, and at once placed him on board a
barque "kept waiting for that purpose," and despatched
him to England. On reaching London, he was imprisoned in
the Tower, for two years, during which time his party in
Ireland were left headless and dispirited.

The government of Sir Edward Poynings, which lasted from
1494 till Kildare's restoration, in August, 1496, is most
memorable for the character of its legislation. He
assembled a Parliament at Drogheda, in November, 1495,
at which were passed the statutes so celebrated in our
Parliamentary history as the "10th Henry VII." These
statutes were the first enacted in Ireland in which the
English language was employed. They confirmed the Provisions
of the Statute of Kilkenny, except that prohibiting the
use of the Irish language, which had now become so deeply
rooted, even within the Pale, as to make its immediate
abolition impracticable. The hospitable law passed in
the time of Richard, Duke of York, against the arrest of
refugees by virtue of writs issued in England, was
repealed. The English acts, against provisors to Rome--
ecclesiastics who applied for or accepted preferment
directly from Rome--were adopted. It was also enacted
that all offices should be held at the King's pleasure;
that the Lords of Parliament should appear in their robes
as the Lords did in England; that no one should presume
to make peace or war except with license of the Governor;
that no great guns should be kept in the fortresses except
by similar license; and that men of English _birth_ only
should be appointed Constables of the Castles of Dublin,
Trim, Leixlip, Athlone, Wicklow, Greencastle, Carlingford,
and Carrickfergus. But the most important measure of all
was one which provided that thereafter no legislation
whatever should be proceeded with in Ireland, unless the
bills to be proposed were first submitted to the King
and Council in England, and were returned, certified
under the great seal of the realm. This is what is usually
and specially called in our Parliamentary history "Poyning's
Act," and next to the Statute of Kilkenny, it may be
considered the most important enactment ever passed at
any Parliament of the English settlers.

The liberation of the Earl of Kildare from the Tower,
and his restoration as Deputy, seems to have been hastened
by the movements of Perkin Warbeck, and by the visit of
Hugh Roe O'Donnell to James IV., King of Scotland.
O'Donnell had arrived at Ayr in the month of August,
1495, a few weeks after Warbeck had reached that court.
He was received with great splendour and cordiality by
the accomplished Prince, then lately come of age, and
filled with projects natural to his youth and temperament.
With O'Donnell, according to the Four Masters, he formed
a league, by which they bound themselves "mutually to
assist each other in all their exigencies." The knowledge
of this alliance, and of Warbeck's favour at the Scottish
Court, no doubt decided Henry to avail himself, if
possible, of the assistance of his most powerful Irish
subject. There was, moreover, another influence at work.
The first countess had died soon after her husband's
arrest, and he now married, in England, Elizabeth St.
John, cousin to the King. Fortified in his allegiance
and court favour by this alliance, he returned in triumph
to Dublin, where he was welcomed with enthusiasm.

In his subsequent conduct as Lord Deputy, an office which
he continued to hold till his death in 1513, this powerful
nobleman seems to have steadily upheld the English
interest, which was now in harmony with his own. Having
driven off Warbeck in his last visit to Ireland (1497),
he received extensive estates in England, as a reward
for his zeal, and after the victory of Knock-doe (1505),
he was installed by proxy at Windsor as Knight of the
Garter. This long-continued reign--for such in truth it
may be called--left him without a rival in his latter
years. He marched to whatever end of the island he would,
pulling down and setting up chiefs and castles; his
garrisons were to be found from Belfast to Cork, and
along the valley of the Shannon, from Athleague to

The last event of national importance connected with the
name of Geroit More arose out of the battle of KNOCK-DOE,
("battle-axe hill"), fought within seven or eight miles
of Galway town, on the 19th of August, 1504. Few of the
cardinal facts in our history have been more entirely
misapprehended and misrepresented than this. It is usually
described as a pitched battle between English and Irish
--the turning point in the war of races--and the second
foundation of English power. The simple circumstances
are these: Ulick III., Lord of Clanrickarde, had married
and misused the lady Eustacia Fitzgerald, who seems to
have fled to her father, leaving her children behind.
This led to an embittered family dispute, which was
expanded into a public quarrel by the complaint of William
O'Kelly, whose Castles of Garbally, Monivea, and Gallagh,
Burke had seized and demolished. In reinstating O'Kelly,
Kildare found the opportunity which he sought to punish
his son-in-law, and both parties prepared for a trial of
strength. It so happened that Clanrickarde's alliances
at that day were chiefly with O'Brien and the southern
Irish, while Kildare's were with those of Ulster. From
these causes, what was at first a family quarrel, and at
most a local feud, swelled into the dimensions of a
national contest between North and South--Leath-Moghda
and Leath-Conn. Under these terms, the native Annalists
accurately describe the belligerents on either side. With
Kildare were the Lords of Tyrconnell, Sligo, Moylurg,
Breffni, Oriel, and Orior; O'Farrell, Bishop of Ardagh,
the Tanist of Tyrowen, the heir of Iveagh, O'Kelly of
Hy-Many, McWilliam of Mayo, the Barons of Slane, Delvin,
Howth, Dunsany, Gormanstown, Trimblestown, and John Blake,
Mayor of Dublin, with the city militia. With Clanrickarde
were Turlogh O'Brien, son of the Lord of Thomond, McNamara
of Clare, O'Carroll of Ely, O'Brien of Ara, and O'Kennedy
of Ormond. The battle was obstinate and bloody. Artillery
and musketry, first introduced from Germany some twenty
years before (1487), were freely used, and the ploughshare
of the peasant has often turned up bullets, large and
small, upon the hillside where the battle was fought.
The most credible account sets down the number of the
slain at 2,000 men--the most exaggerated at 9,000. The
victory was with Kildare, who, after encamping on the
field for twenty-four hours, by the advice of O'Donnell,
marched next day to Galway, where he found the children
of Clanrickarde, whom he restored to their injured mother.
Athenry opened its gates to receive the conquerors, and
after celebrating their victory in the stronghold of the
vanquished, the Ulster chiefs returned to the North, and
Kildare to Dublin.

Less known is the battle of Monabraher, which may be
considered the offset of Knock-doe. It was fought in
1510--the first year of Henry VIII., who had just
confirmed Lord Kildare in the government. The younger
O'Donnell joined him in Munster, and after taking the
Castles of Kanturk, Pallis, and Castelmaine, they marched
to Limerick, where the Earl of Desmond, the McCarthys of
both branches, and "the Irish of Meath and Leinster," in
alliance with Kildare, joined them with their forces.
The old allies, Turlogh O'Brien, Clanrickarde, and the
McNamaras, attacked them at the bridge of Portrush, near
Castleconnell, and drove them through Monabraher ("the
friar's bog"), with the loss of the Barons Barnwall and
Kent, and many of their forces; the survivors were feign
to take refuge within the walls of Limerick.

Three years later, Earl Gerald set out to besiege Leap
Castle, in O'Moore's country; but it happened that as he
was watering his horse in the little river Greese, at
Kilkea, he was shot by one of the O'Moores: he was
immediately carried to Athy, where shortly afterwards he
expired. If we except the first Hugh de Lacy and the Red
Earl of Ulster, the Normans in Ireland had not produced
a more illustrious man than Gerald, eighth Earl of Kildare.
He was, says Stainhurst, "of tall stature and goodly
presence; very liberal and merciful; of strict piety;
mild in his government; passionate, but easily appeased."
And our justice-loving _Four Masters_ have described him
as "a knight in valour, and princely and religious in
his words and judgments."



The main peculiarities of social life among the Irish
and Anglo-Irish during the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries are still visible to us. Of the drudges of the
earth, as in all other histories, we see or hear little
or nothing, but of those orders of men of whom the historic
muse takes count, such as bards, rulers, builders, and
religious, there is much information to be found scattered
up and down our annals, which, if properly put together
and clearly interpreted, may afford us a tolerably clear
view of the men and their times.

The love of learning, always strong in this race of men
and women, revived in full force with their exemption
from the immediate pressure of foreign invasion. The
person of Bard and Brehon was still held inviolable; to
the malediction of the Bard of Usnagh was attributed the
sudden death of the Deputy, Sir John Stanley; to the
murder of the Brehon McEgan is traced all the misfortunes
which befell the sons of Irial O'Farrell. To receive the
poet graciously, to seat him in the place of honour at
the feast, to listen to him with reverence, and to reward
him munificently, were considered duties incumbent on
the princes of the land. And these duties, to do them
justice, they never neglected. One of the O'Neils is
specially praised for having given more gifts to poets,
and having "a larger collection of poems" than any other
man of his age. In the struggle between O'Donnell and
O'Conor for the northern corner of Sligo, we find mention
made of books accidentally burned in "the house of the
manuscripts," in Lough Gill. Among the spoils carried
off by O'Donnell, on another occasion, were two famous
books--one of which, the Leahar Gear (Short Book), he
afterwards paid back, as part of the ransom for the
release of his friend, O'Doherty.

The Bards and Ollams, though more dependent on their
Princes than we have seen them in their early palmy days,
had yet ample hereditary estates in every principality
and lordship. If natural posterity failed, the incumbent
was free to adopt some capable person as his heir. It
was in this way the family of O'Clery, originally of
Tyrawley, came to settle in Tyrconnell, towards the end
of the fourteenth century. At that time O'Sgingin, chief
Ollam to O'Donnell, offered his daughter in marriage to
Cormac O'Clery, a young professor of both laws, in the
monastery near Ballyshannon, on condition that the first
male child born of the marriage should be brought up to
his own profession. This was readily agreed to, and from
this auspicious marriage descended the famous family,
which produced three of the Four Masters of Donegal.

The virtue of hospitality was, of all others, that which
the old Irish of every degree in rank and wealth most
cheerfully practised. In many cases it degenerated into
extravagance and prodigality. But in general it is
presented to us in so winning a garb that our objections
on the score of prudence vanish before it. When we read
of the freeness of heart of Henry Avery O'Neil, who
granted all manner of things "that came into his hands,"
to all manner of men, we pause and doubt whether such a
virtue in such excess may not lean towards vice. But when
we hear of a powerful lord, like William O'Kelly of
Galway, entertaining throughout the Christmas holydays
all the poets, musicians, and poor persons who choose to
flock to him, or of the pious and splendid Margaret
O'Carroll, receiving twice a year in Offally all the
Bards of Albyn and Erin, we cannot but envy the professors
of the gentle art their good fortune in having lived in
such times, and shared in such assemblies. As hospitality
was the first of social virtues, so inhospitality was
the worst of vices; the unpopularity of a churl descended
to his posterity through successive generations.

The high estimation in which women were held among the
tribes is evident from the particularity with which the
historians record their obits and marriages. The maiden
name of the wife was never wholly lost in that of her
husband, and if her family were of equal standing with
his before marriage, she generally retained her full
share of authority afterwards. The Margaret O'Carroll
already mentioned, a descendant and progenitress of
illustrious women, rode privately to Trim, as we are
told, with some English prisoners, taken by her husband,
O'Conor of Offally, and exchanged them for others of
equal worth lying in that fortress; and "this she did,"
it is added, "without the knowledge of" her husband. This
lady was famed not only for her exceeding hospitality
and her extreme piety, but for other more unexpected
works. Her name is remembered in connection with the
erection of bridges and the making of highways, as well
as the building of churches, and the presentation of
missals and mass-books. And the grace she thus acquired
long brought blessings upon her posterity, among whom
there never were wanting able men and heroic women while
they kept their place in the land. An equally celebrated
but less amiable woman was Margaret Fitzgerald, daughter
of the eighth Earl of Kildare, and wife of Pierce, eighth
Earl of Ormond. "She was," says the Dublin Annalist, "a
lady of such port that all the estates of the realm
couched to her, so politique that nothing was thought
substantially debated without her advice." Her decision
of character is preserved in numerous traditions in and
around Kilkenny, where she lies buried. Of her is told
the story that when exhorted on her death-bed to make
restitution of some ill-got lands, and being told the
penalty that awaited her if she died impenitent, she
answered, "it was better one old woman should burn for
eternity than that the Butlers should be curtailed of
their estates."

The fame of virtuous deeds, of generosity, of peace-making,
of fidelity, was in that state of society as easily
attainable by women as by men. The Unas, Finolas, Sabias,
Lasarinas, were as certain of immortality as the Hughs,
Cathals, Donalds and Conors, their sons, brothers, or
lovers. Perhaps it would be impossible to find any history
of those or of later ages in which women are treated upon
a more perfect equality with men, where their virtues
and talents entitled them to such consideration.

The piety of the age, though it had lost something of
the simplicity and fervour of older times, was still
conspicuous and edifying. Within the island, the pilgrimage
of Saint Patrick's purgatory, the shrine of our Lady of
Trim, the virtues of the holy cross of Raphoe, the miracles
wrought by the _Baculum Christi_, and other relics of
Christ Church, Dublin, were implicitly believed and
piously frequented. The long and dangerous journeys to
Rome and Jerusalem were frequently taken, but the favourite
foreign vow was to Compostella, in Spain. Chiefs, Ladies,
and Bards, are almost annually mentioned as having sailed
or returned from the city of St. James; generally these
pilgrims left in companies, and returned in the same way.
The great Jubilee of 1450, so enthusiastically attended
from every corner of Christendom, drew vast multitudes
from our island to Rome. By those who returned tidings
were first brought to Ireland of the capture of
Constantinople by the Turks. On receipt of this
intelligence, which sent a thrill through the heart of
Europe, Tregury, Archbishop of Dublin, proclaimed a fast
of three days, and on each day walked in sackcloth, with
his clergy, through the streets of the city, to the
Cathedral. By many in that age the event was connected
with the mystic utterances of the Apocalypse, and the
often-apprehended consummation of all Time.

Although the Irish were then, as they still are, firm
believers in supernatural influence working visibly among
men, they do not appear to have ever been slaves to the
terrible delusion of witchcraft. Among the Anglo-Irish
we find the first instance of that mania which appears
in our history, and we believe the only one, if we except
the Presbyterian witches Of Carrickfergus, in the early
part of the eighteenth century. The scene of the ancient
delusion was Kilkenny, where Bishop Ledred accused the
Lady Alice Kettel, and William her son, of practising
black magic, in the year 1327. Sir Roger Outlaw, Prior
of Kilmainham, and stepson to Lady Alice, undertook to
protect her; but the fearful charge was extended to him
also, and he was compelled to enter on his defence. The
tribunal appointed to try the charge--one of the main
grounds on which the Templars had been suppressed
twenty-five years before--was composed of the Dean of
St. Patrick's, the Prior of Christ Church, the Abbots of
St. Mary's and St. Thomas's, Dublin, Mr. Elias Lawless,
and Mr. Peter Willeby, lawyers. Outlaw was acquitted,
and Ledred forced to fly for safety to England, of which
he was a native. It is pleasant to remember that, although
Irish credulity sometimes took shapes absurd and grotesque
enough, it never was perverted into diabolical channels,
or directed to the barbarities of witch-finding.

About the beginning of the fifteenth century we meet with
the first mention of the use of Usquebagh, or _Aqua
Vitae_, in our Annals. Under the date of 1405 we read
that McRannal, or Reynolds, chief of Muntireolais, died
of a surfeit of it, about Christmas. A quaint Elizabethan
writer thus descants on the properties of that liquor,
as he found them, by personal experience: "For the rawness
(of the air) they (the Irish) have an excellent remedy
by their _Aqua Vitae_, vulgarly called _Usquebagh_, which
binds up the belly and drieth up moisture more than our
_Aqua Vitae_, yet inflameth not so much."

And as the opening of the century may be considered
notable for the first mention of _Usquebagh_, so its
close is memorable for the first employment of fire-arms.
In the year 1489, according to Anglo-Irish Annals, "six
hand guns or musquets were sent to the Earl of Kildare
out of Germany," which his guard bore while on sentry at
Thomas Court--his Dublin residence. But two years earlier
(1487) we have positive mention of the employment of guns
at the siege of Castlecar, in Leitrim, by Hugh Roe
O'Donnell. Great guns were freely used ten years later
in the taking of Dungannon and Omagh, and contributed,
not a little to the victory of Knock-doe--in 1505. About
the same time we begin to hear of their employment by
sea in rather a curious connection. A certain French
Knight, returning from the pilgrimage of Lough Derg,
visiting O'Donnell at Donegal, heard of the anxiety of
his entertainer to take a certain Castle which stood by
the sea, in Sligo. This Knight promised to send him, on
Ms return to France, "a vessel carrying great guns,"
which he accordingly did, and the Castle was in consequence
taken. Nevertheless the old Irish, according to their
habit, took but slowly to this wonderful invention, though
destined to revolutionize the art to which they were
naturally predisposed--the art of war.

The dwellings of the chiefs, and of the wealthy among
the proprietors, near the marches, were chiefly situated
amid pallisaded islands, or on promontories naturally
moated by lakes. The houses, in those circumstances,
were mostly of framework, though the Milesian nobles, in
less exposed districts, had castles of stone, after the
Norman fashion. The Castle "bawn" was usually enclosed
by one or more strong walls, the inner sides of which
were lined with barns, stables, and the houses of the
retainers. Not unfrequently the thatched roofs of these
outbuildings taking fire, compelled the castle to surrender.
The Castle "green," whether within or without the walls,
was the usual scene of rural sports and athletic games,
of which, at all periods, our ancestors were so fond. Of
the interior economy of the Milesian rath, or dun, we
know less than of the Norman tower, where, before the
huge kitchen chimney, the heavy-laden spit was turned by
hand, while the dining-hall was adorned with the glitter
of the dresser, or by tapestry hangings;-the floors of
hall and chambers being strewn with rushes and odorous
herbs. We have spoken of the zeal of the Milesian Chiefs
in accumulating MSS. and in rewarding Bards and Scribes.
We are enabled to form some idea of the mental resources
of an Anglo-Irish nobleman of the fifteenth century, from
the catalogue of the library remaining in Maynooth Castle,
in the reign of Henry VIII. Of Latin books, there were
the works of several of the schoolmen, the dialogues of
St. Gregory, Virgil, Juvenal, and Terence; the Holy Bible;
Boethius' Consolations of Philosophy, and Saint Thomas's
Summa; of French works, Froissart, Mandeville, two French
Bibles, a French Livy and Caesar, with the most popular
romances; in English, there were the Polychronicon,
Cambrensis, Lyttleton's Tenures, Sir Thomas More's book
on Pilgrimages, and several romances. Moreover, there
were copies of the Psalter of Cashel, a book of Irish
chronicles, lives of St. Beraghan, St. Fiech and St.
Finian, with various religious tracts, and romantic tales.
This was, perhaps, the most extensive private collection
to be found within the Pale; we have every reason to
infer, that, at least in Irish and Latin works, the
Castles of the older race--lovers of learning and
entertainers of learned men--were not worse furnished
than Maynooth.



Although the English and Irish professed the same religion
during these ages, yet in the appointment of Bishops,
the administration of ecclesiastical property, and in
all their views of the relation of the Church to the
State, the two nations differed almost as widely as in
their laws, language, and customs. The Plantagenet
princes and their Parliaments had always exhibited a
jealousy of the See of Rome, and statute upon, statute
was passed, from the reign of Henry II. to that of Richard
II., in order to diminish the power of the Supreme Pontiffs
in nominating to English benefices. In the second Richard's
reign, so eventful for the English interest in Ireland,
it had been enacted that any of the clergy procuring
appointments directly from Rome, or exercising powers so
conferred, should incur the penalty of a praemunire--that
is, the forfeiture of their lands and chattels, beside
being liable to imprisonment during the King's pleasure.
This statute was held to apply equally to Ireland, being
confirmed by some of those petty conventions of "the
Pale," which the Dublin Governors of the fourteenth
century dignified with the name of Parliaments.

The ancient Irish method of promotion to a vacant see,
or abbacy, though modelled on the electoral principle
which penetrated all Celtic usages, was undoubtedly open
to the charge of favouring nepotism, down to the time of
Saint Malachy, the restorer of the Irish Church. After
that period, the Prelates elect were ever careful to
obtain the sanction of the Holy See, before consecration.
Such habitual submission to Rome was seldom found, except
in cases of disputed election, to interfere with the
choice of the clergy, and the custom grew more and more
into favour, as the English method of nomination by the
crown was attempted to be enforced, not only throughout
"the Pale," but, by means of English agents at Rome and
Avignon, in the appointment to sees, within the provinces
of Armagh, Cashel, and Tuam. The ancient usage of farming
the church lands, under the charge of a lay steward, or
_Erenach_, elected by the clan, and the division of all
the revenues into four parts--for the Bishop, the Vicar
and his priests, for the poor, and for repairs of the
sacred edifice, was equally opposed to the pretensions
of Princes, who looked on their Bishops as Barons, and
Church temporalities, like all other fiefs, as held
originally of the crown. Even if there had not been those
differences of origin, interest, and government which
necessarily brought the two populations into collision,
these distinct systems of ecclesiastical polity could
not well have existed on the same soil without frequently
clashing, one with the other.

In our notice of the association promoted among the
clergy, at the end of the thirteenth century, by the
patriotic McMaelisa, ("follower of Jesus"), and in our
own comments on the memorable letter of Prince Donald
O'Neil to Pope John XXII., written in the year 1317 or
'18, we have seen how wide and deep was the gulf then
existing between the English and Irish churchmen. In
the year 1324, an attempt to heal this unchristian breach
was made by Philip of Slane, the Dominican who presided
at the trial of the Knights Templars, who afterwards
became Bishop of Cork, and rose into high favour with
the Queen-Mother, Isabella. As her Ambassador, or in the
name of King Edward III., still a minor, he is reported
to have submitted to Pope John certain propositions for
the promotion of peace in the Irish Church, some of which
were certainly well calculated to promote that end. He
suggested that the smaller Bishoprics, yielding under
sixty pounds per annum, should be united to more eminent
sees, and that Irish Abbots and Priors should admit
English lay brothers to their houses, and English
Superiors Irish brothers, in like manner. The third
proposition, however, savours more of the politician
than of the peacemaker; it was to bring under the bann
of excommunication, with all its rigorous consequences
in that age, those "disturbers of the peace" who invaded
the authority of the English King in Ireland. As a
consequence of this mission, a Concordat for Ireland
seems to have been concluded at Avignon, embracing the
two first points, but omitting the third, which was, no
doubt, with the English Court, the main object of Friar
Philip's embassy.

During the fourteenth century, and down to the election
of Martin V. (A.D. 1417), the Popes sat mainly at Avignon,
in France. In the last forty years of that melancholy
period, other Prelates sitting at Rome, or elsewhere in
Italy, claimed the Apostolic primacy. It was in the midst
of these troubles and trials of the Church that the
powerful Kings of England, who were also sovereigns of
a great part of France, contrived to extort from the
embarrassed pontiffs concessions which, however gratifying
to royal pride, were abhorrent to the more Catholic spirit
of the Irish people. A constant struggle was maintained
during the entire period of the captivity of the Popes
in France between Roman and English influence in Ireland.
There were often two sets of Bishops elected in such
border sees as Meath and Louth, which were districts
under a divided influence. The Bishops of Limerick, Cork,
and Waterford, liable to have their revenues cut off,
and their personal liberty endangered by sea, were almost
invariably nominees of the English Court; those of the
Province of Dublin were necessarily so; but the prelates
of Ulster, of Connaught, and of Munster--the southern
seaports excepted--were almost invariably native
ecclesiastics, elected in the old mode, by the assembled
clergy, and receiving letters of confirmation direct from
Avignon or Italy.

A few incidents in the history of the Church of Cashel
will better illustrate the character of the contest
between the native episcopacy and the foreign power.
Towards the end of the thirteenth century, Archbishop
McCarwill maintained with great courage the independence
of his jurisdiction against Henry III. and Edward I.
Having inducted certain Bishops into their sees without
waiting for the royal letters, he sustained a long
litigation in the Anglo-Irish courts, and was much harassed
in his goods and person. Seizing from a usurer 400 pounds,
he successfully resisted the feudal claim of Edward I.,
as lord paramount, to pay over the money to the royal
exchequer. Edward having undertaken to erect a prison
--or fortress in disguise--in his episcopal city, the
bold Prelate publicly excommunicated the Lord Justice
who undertook the work, the escheator who supplied the
funds, and all those engaged in its construction, nor
did he desist from his opposition until the obnoxious
building was demolished. Ralph O'Kelly, who filled the
same see from 1345 to 1361, exhibited an equally dauntless
spirit. An Anglo-Irish Parliament having levied a subsidy
on all property, lay and ecclesiastical, within their
jurisdiction, to carry on the war of races before described,
he not only opposed its collection within the Province
of Cashel, but publicly excommunicated Epworth, Clerk of
the Council, who had undertaken that task. For this
offence an information was exhibited against him, laying
the King's damages at a thousand pounds; but he pleaded
the liberties of the Church, and successfully traversed
the indictment. Richard O'Hedian, Archbishop from 1406
to 1440, was a Prelate of similar spirit to his
predecessors. At a Parliament held in Dublin in 1421, it
was formally alleged, among other enormities, that he
made very much of the Irish and loved none of the English;
that he presented no Englishman to a benefice, and advised
other Prelates to do likewise; and that he made himself
King of Munster--alluding, probably, to some revival at
this time of the old title of Prince-Bishop, which had
anciently belonged to the Prelates of Cashel. O'Hedian
retained his authority, however, till his death, after
which the see remained twelve years vacant, the
temporalities being farmed by the Earl of Ormond.

From this conflict of interests, frequently resulting in
disputed possession and intrusive jurisdiction, religion
must have suffered much, at least in its discipline and
decorum. The English Archbishops of Dublin would not
yield in public processions to the Irish Archbishops of
Armagh, nor permit the crozier of St. Patrick to be borne
publicly through their city; the English Bishop of
Waterford was the public accuser of the Irish Archbishop
of Cashel, last mentioned, before a lay tribunal--the
knights and burgesses of "the Pale." The annual expeditions
sent out from Dublin, to harass the nearest native clans,
were seldom without a Bishop or Abbot, or Prior of the
Temple or Hospital, in their midst. Scandals must have
ensued; hatreds must have sprung up; prejudices, fatal
to charity and unity, must have been engendered, both on
the one side and the other. The spirit of party carried
into the Church can be cherished in the presence of the
Altar and Cross only by doing violence to the teachings
of the Cross and the sanctity of the Altar.

While such was the troubled state of the Church, as
exemplified in its twofold hierarchy, the religious orders
continued to spread, with amazing energy, among both
races. The orders of Saint Francis and Saint Dominick,
those twin giants of the thirteenth century, already
rivalled the mighty brotherhood which Saint Bernard had
consecrated, and Saint Malachy had introduced into the
Irish Church. It is observable that the Dominicans, at
least at first, were most favoured by the English and
the Anglo-Irish; while the Franciscans were more popular
with the native population. Exceptions may be found on
both sides: but as a general rule this distinction can
be traced in the strongholds of either order, and in the
names of their most conspicuous members, down to that
dark and trying hour when the tempest of "the Reformation"
involved both in a common danger, and demonstrated their
equal heroism. As elsewhere in Christendom, the sudden
aggrandizement of these mendicant institutes excited
jealousy and hostility among certain of the secular clergy
and Bishops. This feeling was even stronger in England
during the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II., when,
according to the popular superstition, the Devil appeared
at various places "in the form of a grey friar." The
great champion of the secular clergy, in the controversy
which ensued, was Richard, son of Ralph, a native of
Dundalk, the Erasmus of his age. Having graduated at
Oxford, where the Irish were then classed as one of "the
four nations" of students, Fitz-Ralph achieved distinction
after distinction, till he rose to the rank of Chancellor
of the University, in 1333. Fourteen years afterwards
he was consecrated, by provision of Pope Clement VI.,
Archbishop of Armagh, and is by some writers styled
"Cardinal of Armagh." Inducted into the chief see of his
native Province and country, he soon commenced those
sermons and writings against the mendicant orders which
rendered him so conspicuous in the Church history of the
fourteenth century. Summoned to Avignon, in 1350, to be
examined on his doctrine, he maintained before the
Consistory the following propositions: 1st, that our Lord
Jesus Christ, as a man, was very poor, not that He loved
poverty for itself; 2nd, that our Lord had never begged;
3rd, that He never taught men to beg; 4th, that, on the
contrary, He taught men not to beg; 5th, that man cannot,
with prudence and holiness, confine himself by vow to a
life of constant mendicity; 6th, that minor brothers are
not obliged by their rule to beg; 7th, that the bull of
Alexander IV., which condemns the Book of Masters, does
not invalidate any of the aforesaid conclusions; 8th,
that by those who, wishing to confess, exclude certain
churches, their parish one should be preferred to the
oratories of monks; and 9th, that, for auricular
confession, the diocesan, bishop should be chosen in
preference to friars.

In a "defence of Parish Priests," and many other tracts,
in several sermons, preached at London, Litchfield,
Drogheda, Dundalk, and Armagh, he maintained the thesis
until the year 1357, when the Superior of the Franciscans
at Armagh, seconded by the influence of his own and the
Dominican order, caused him to be summoned a second time
before the Pope. Fitz-Ralph promptly obeyed the summons,
but before the cause could be finally decided he died at
Avignon in 1361. His body was removed from thence to
Dundalk in 1370 by Stephen de Valle, Bishop of Meath.
Miracles were said to have been wrought at his tomb; a
process of inquiry into their validity was instituted by
order of Boniface IX., but abandoned without any result
being arrived at. The bitter controversy between the
mendicant and other orders was revived towards the end
of the century by Henry, a Cistercian monk of Baltinglass,
who maintained opinions still more extreme than those of
Fitz-Ralph; but he was compelled publicly and solemnly
to retract them before Commissioners appointed for that
purpose in the year 1382.

The range of mental culture in Europe during the fourteenth
century included only the scholastic philosophy and
theology with the physics, taught in the schools of the
Spanish Arabs. The fifteenth century saw the revival of
Greek literature in Italy, and the general restoration
of classical learning. The former century is especially
barren of original _belles lettres_ writings; but the
next succeeding ages produced Italian poetry, French
chronicles, Spanish ballads, and all that wonderful
efflorescence of popular literature, which, in our far
advanced cultivation, we still so much envy and admire.
In the last days of Scholasticism, Irish intelligence
asserted its ancient equality with the best minds of
Europe; but in the new era of national literature, unless
there are buried treasures yet to be dug out of their
Gaelic tombs, the country fell altogether behind England,
and even Scotland, not to speak of Italy or France.
Archbishop Fitz-Ralph, John Scotus of Down, William of
Drogheda, Professor of both laws at Oxford, are respectable
representatives among the last and greatest group of the
School-men. Another illustrious name remains to be added
to the roll of Irish Scholastics, that of Maurice O'Fihely,
Archbishop of Tuam. He was a thorough Scotist in philosophy,
which he taught at Padua, in discourses long afterwards
printed at Venice. His Commentaries on _Scotus_, his
Dictionary of the Sacred Scriptures, and other numerous
writings, go far to justify the compliments of his
cotemporaries, though the fond appellation of the "flower
of the earth" given him by some of them sounds extravagant
and absurd. Soon after arriving from Rome to take possession
of his see he died at Tuam in 1513, in the fiftieth year
of his age--an early age to have won so colossal a

Beyond some meagre annals, compiled in monastic houses,
and a few rhymed panegyrics, the muses of history and of
poetry seem to have abandoned the island to the theologians,
jurists, and men of science. The Bardic order was still
one of the recognized estates, and found patrons worthy
of their harps in the lady Margaret O'Carroll of Offally,
William O'Kelley of Galway, and Henry Avery O'Neil. Full
collections of the original Irish poetry of the Middle
Ages are yet to be made public, but it is scarcely possible
that if any composition of eminent merit existed, we should
not have had editions and translations of it before now.





Henry the Eighth of England succeeded his father on the
throne, early in the year 1509. He was in the eighteenth
year of his age, when he thus found himself master of a
well-filled treasury and an united kingdom. Fortune, as
if to complete his felicity, had furnished him from the
outset of his reign with a minister of unrivalled talent
for public business. This was Thomas Wolsey, successively
royal Chaplain, Almoner, Archbishop of York, Papal Legate,
Lord Chancellor, and Lord Cardinal. From the fifth to
the twentieth year of King Henry, he was, in effect,
sovereign in the state, and it is wonderful to find how
much time he contrived to borrow from the momentous
foreign affairs of that eventful age for the obscurer
intrigues of Irish politics.

Wolsey kept before his mind, more prominently than any
previous English statesman, the design of making his
royal master as absolute in Ireland as any King in
Christendom. He determined to abolish every pretence to
sovereignty but that of the King of England, and to this
end he resolved to circumscribe the power of the Anglo-Irish
Barons, and to win over by "dulce ways" and "politic
drifts," as he expressed it, the Milesian-Irish Chiefs.
This policy, continued by all the Tudor sovereigns till
the latter years of Elizabeth, so far as it distinguished
between the Barons and Chiefs always favoured the latter.
The Kildares and Desmonds were hunted to the death, in the
same age, and by the same authority, which carefully
fostered every symptom of adhesion or attachment on the
part of the O'Neils and O'Briens. Neither were these last
loved or trusted for their own sakes, but the natural enemy
fares better in all histories than the unnatural rebel.

We must enumerate some of the more remarkable instances
of Wolsey's twofold policy of concession and intimidation.
In the third and fourth years of Henry, Hugh O'Donnell,
lord of Tyrconnell, passing through England, on a pilgrimage
to Rome, was entertained with great honour at Windsor
and Greenwich for four months each time. He returned to
Ulster deeply impressed with the magnificence of the
young monarch and the resources of his kingdom. During
the remainder of his life he cherished a strong predilection
for England; he dissuaded James IV. of Scotland from
leading a liberating expedition to Ireland in 1513--
previous to the ill-fated campaign which ended on Flodden
field, and he steadily resisted the influx of the Islesmen
into Down and Antrim. In 1521 we find him described by
the Lord Lieutenant, Surrey, as being of all the Irish
chiefs the best disposed "to fall into English order."
He maintained a direct correspondence with Henry until
his death, 1537, when the policy he had so materially
assisted had progressed beyond the possibility of defeat.
Simultaneously with O'Donnell's adhesion, the same views
found favour with the powerful chief of Tyrone. The
O'Neils were now divided into two great septs, those of
Tyrone, whose seat was at Dungannon, and those of Clandeboy,
whose strongholds studded the eastern shores of Lough
Neagh. In the year 1480, Con O'Neil, lord of Tyrone,
married his cousin-germain, Lady Alice Fitzgerald, daughter
of the Earl of Kildare. This alliance tended to establish
an intimacy between Maynooth and Dungannon, which subserved
many of the ends of Wolsey's policy. Turlogh, Art, and
Con, sons of Lady Alice, and successively chiefs of
Tyrone, adhered to the fortunes of the Kildare family,
who were, however unwillingly, controlled by the superior
power of Henry. The Clandeboy O'Neils, on the contrary,
regarded this alliance as nothing short of apostasy, and
pursued the exactly opposite course, repudiating English
and cultivating Scottish alliances. Open ruptures and
frequent collisions took place between the estranged and
exasperated kinsmen; in the sequel we will find how the
last surviving son of Lady Alice became in his old age
the first Earl of Tyrone, while the House of Clandeboy
took up the title of "the O'Neil." The example of the
elder branch of this ancient royal race, and of the hardly
less illustrious family of Tyrconnell, exercised a potent
influence on the other chieftains of Ulster.

An elaborate report on "the State of Ireland," with "a
plan for its Reformation"--submitted to Henry in the year
1515--gives us a tolerably clear view of the political
and military condition of the several provinces. The only
portions of the country in any sense subject to English
law, were half the counties of Louth, Meath, Dublin,
Kildare, and Wexford. The residents within these districts
paid "black rent" to the nearest native chiefs. Sheriffs
were not permitted to execute writs, beyond the bounds
thus described, and even within thirty miles of Dublin,
March-law and Brehon-law were in full force. Ten native
magnates are enumerated in Leinster as "chief captains"
of their "nations"--not one of whom regarded the English
King as his Sovereign. Twenty chiefs in Munster, fifteen
in Connaught, and three in West-Meath, maintained their
ancient state, administered their own laws, and recognized
no superiority, except in one another, as policy or custom
compelled them. Thirty chief English captains, of whom
eighteen resided in Munster, seven in Connaught, and the
remainder in Meath, Down, and Antrim, are set down as
"rebels" and followers of "the Irish order." Of these,
the principal in the midland counties were the Dillons
and Tyrrells, in the West the Burkes and Berminghams, in
the South the Powers, Barrys, Roches--the Earl of Desmond
and his relatives. The enormous growth of these Munster
Geraldines, and their not less insatiable greed, produced
many strange complications in the politics of the South.
Not content with the moiety of Kerry, Cork, and Waterford,
they had planted their landless cadets along the Suir
and the Shannon, in Ormond and Thomond. They narrowed
the dominions of the O'Briens on the one hand and the
McCarthys on the other. Concluding peace or war with
their neighbours, as suited their own convenience, they
sometimes condescended to accept further feudal privileges
from the Kings of England. To Maurice, tenth Earl, Henry
VII. had granted "all the customs, cockets, poundage,
prize wines of Limerick, Cork, Kinsale, Baltimore and
Youghal, with other privileges and advantages." Yet Earl
James, in the next reign, did not hesitate to treat with
Francis of France and the Emperor of Germany, as an
independent Prince, long before the pretence of resisting
the Reformation could be alleged in his justification.
What we have here to observe is, that this predominance
of the Munster Geraldines drove first one and then another
branch of the McCarthys, and O'Briens, into the meshes
of Wolsey's policy. Cormac Oge, lord of Muskerry, and
his cousin, the lord of Carbery, defeated the eleventh
Earl (James), at Moore Abbey, in 1521, with a loss of
1,500 foot and 500 or 600 horsemen. To strengthen himself
against the powerful adversary so deeply wounded, Cormac
sought the protection of the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl
of Surrey, and of Pierce Roe, the eighth Earl of Ormond,
who had common wrongs to avenge. In this way McCarthy
became identified with the English interest, which he
steadily adhered to till his death--in 1536. Driven by
the same necessity to adopt the same expedient, Murrogh
O'Brien, lord of Thomond, a few years later visited Henry
at London, where he resigned his principality, received
back his lands, under a royal patent conveying them to
him as "Earl of Thomond, and Baron of Inchiquin." Henry
was but too happy to have raised up such a counterpoise
to the power of Desmond, at his own door, while O'Brien
was equally anxious to secure foreign aid against such
intolerable encroachments. The policy worked effectually;
it brought the succeeding Earl of Desmond to London, an
humble suitor for the King's mercy and favour, which were
after some demur granted.

The event, however, which most directly tended to the
establishment of an English royalty in Ireland, was the
depression of the family of Kildare in the beginning of
this reign, and its all but extinction a few years later.
Gerald, the ninth Earl of that title, succeeded his father
in the office of Lord Deputy in the first years of Henry.
He had been a ward at the court of the preceding King,
and by both his first and second marriages was closely
connected with the royal family. Yet he stood in the way
of the settled plans of Wolsey, before whom the highest
heads in the realm trembled. His father, as if to secure
him against the hereditary enmity of the Butlers, had
married his daughter Margaret to Pierce Roe, Earl of
Ossory, afterwards eighth Earl of Ormond--the restorer
of that house. This lady, however, entered heartily into
the antipathies of her husband's family, and being of
masculine spirit, with an uncommon genius for public
affairs, helped more than any Butler had ever done to
humble the overshadowing house of which she was born.
The weight of Wolsey's influence was constantly exercised
in favour of Ormond, who had the skill to recommend
himself quite as effectually to Secretary Cromwell, after
the Cardinal's disgrace and death. But the struggles of
the house of Kildare were bold and desperate.



The ninth and last _Catholic_ Earl of Kildare, in the
ninth year of Henry VIII., had been summoned to London
to answer two charges preferred against him by his
political enemies: "1st, That he had enriched himself
and his followers out of the crown lands and revenues.
2nd, That he had formed alliances and corresponded with
divers Irish enemies of the State." Pending these charges
the Earl of Surrey, the joint-victor with his father at
Flodden field, was despatched to Dublin in his stead,
with the title of Lord Lieutenant.

Kildare, by the advice of Wolsey, was retained in a sort
of honourable attendance on the person of the King for
nearly four years. During this interval he accompanied
Henry to "the field of the cloth of Gold," so celebrated
in French and English chronicles. On his return to Dublin,
in 1523, he found his enemy, the Earl of Ormond, in his
old office, but had the pleasure of supplanting him one
year afterwards. In 1525, on the discovery of Desmond's
correspondence with Francis of France, he was ordered to
march into Munster and arrest that nobleman. But, though
he obeyed the royal order, Desmond successfully evaded
him, not, as was alleged, without his friendly connivance.
The next year this evasion was made the ground of a fresh
impeachment by the implacable Earl of Ormond; he was
again summoned to London, and committed to the Tower.
In 1530 he was liberated, and sent over with Sir William
Skeffington, whose authority to some extent he shared.
The English Knight had the title of Deputy, but Kildare
was, in effect, Captain General, as the Red Earl had
formerly been. Skeffington was instructed to obey him
in the field, while it was expected that the Earl, in
return, would sustain his colleague in the Council. A
year had not passed before they were declared enemies,
and Skeffington was recalled to England, where he added
another to the number of Kildare's enemies. After a short
term of undisputed power, the latter found himself, in
1533, for the third time, an inmate of the Tower. It is
clear that the impetuous Earl, after his second escape,
had not conducted himself as prudently as one so well
forewarned ought to have done. He played more openly than
ever the twofold part of Irish Chief among the Irish,
and English Baron within the Pale. His daughters were
married to the native lords of Offally and Ely, and he
frequently took part as arbitrator in the affairs of
those clans. The anti-Geraldine faction were not slow to
torture these facts to suit themselves. They had been
strengthened at Dublin by three English officials,
Archbishop Allan, his relative John Allan, afterwards
Master of the Rolls, and Robert Cowley, the Chief Solicitor,
Lord Ormond's confidential agent. The reiterated
representations of these personages induced the suspicious
and irascible King to order the Earl's attendance at
London, authorizing him at the same time to appoint a
substitute, for whose conduct he would be answerable.
Kildare nominated his son, Lord Thomas, though not yet
of man's age; after giving him many sage advices, he
sailed for England, no more to return.

The English interest at that moment had apparently reached
the lowest point. The O'Briens had bridged the Shannon, and
enforced their ancient claims over Limerick. So defenceless,
at certain periods, was Dublin itself that Edmond Oge O'Byrne
surprised the Castle by night, liberated the prisoners, and
carried off the stores. This daring achievement, unprecedented
even in the records of the fearless mountaineers of Wicklow,
was thrown in to aggravate the alleged offences of Kildare.
He was accused, moreover, of having employed the King's great
guns and other munitions of war to strengthen his own Castles
of Maynooth and Ley--a charge more direct and explicit than
had been alleged against him at any former period.

While the Earl lay in London Tower, an expedient very
common afterwards in our history-the forging of letters
and despatches-was resorted to by his enemies in Dublin,
to drive the young Lord Thomas into some rash act which
might prove fatal to his father and himself. Accordingly
the packets brought from Chester, in the spring of 1534,
repeated reports, one confirming the other, of the
execution of the Earl in the Tower. Nor was there anything
very improbable in such an occurrence. The cruel character
of Henry had, in these same spring months, been fully
developed in the execution of the reputed prophetess,
Elizabeth Barton, and all her abettors. The most eminent
layman in England, Sir Thomas More, and the most illustrious
ecclesiastic, Bishop Fisher, had at the same time been
found guilty of misprision of treason for having known
of the pretended prophecies of Elizabeth without
communicating their knowledge to the King. That an
Anglo-Irish Earl, even of the first rank, could hope to
fare better at the hands of the tyrant than his aged
tutor and his trusted Chancellor, was not to be expected.
When, therefore, Lord Thomas Fitzgerald flung down the
sword of State on the Council table, in the hall of St.
Mary's Abbey, on the 11th day of June, 1534, and formally
renounced his allegiance to King Henry as the murderer
of his father, although he betrayed an impetuous and
impolitic temper, there was much in the events of the
times to justify his belief in the rumours of his father's

This renunciation of allegiance was a declaration of open
war. The chapter thus opened in the memoirs of the Leinster
Geraldines closed at Tyburn on the 3rd of February, 1537.
Within these three years, the policy of annexation was
hastened by several events--but by none more than this
unconcerted, unprepared, reckless revolt. The advice of
the imprisoned Earl to his son had been "to play the
gentlest part," but youth and rash counsels overcame the
suggestions of age and experience. One great excess
stained the cause of "Silken Thomas," while it was but
six weeks old. Towards the end of July, Archbishop Allan,
his father's deadly enemy, left his retreat in the Castle,
and put to sea by night, hoping to escape into England.
The vessel, whether by design or accident, ran ashore at
Clontarf, and the neighbourhood being overrun by the
insurgents, the Archbishop concealed himself at Artane.
Here he was discovered, dragged from his bed, and murdered,
if not in the actual presence, under the same roof with
Lord Thomas. King Henry's Bishops hurled against the
assassins the greater excommunication, with all its
penalties; a terrific malediction, which was, perhaps,
more than counterbalanced by the Papal Bull issued against
Henry and Anne Boleyn on the last day of August--the
knowledge of which must have reached Ireland before the
end of the year. This Bull cited Henry to appear within
ninety days in person, or by attorney, at Rome, to answer
for his offences against the Apostolic See; failing which,
he was declared excommunicated, his subjects were absolved
from their allegiance, and commanded to take up arms
against their former sovereign. The ninety days expired
with the month of November, 1534.

Lord Thomas, as he acted without consultation with others,
so he was followed but by few persons of influence. His
brothers-in-law, the chiefs of Ely and Offally, O'Moore
of Leix, two of his five uncles, his relatives, the
Delahides, mustered their adherents, and rallied to his
standard. He held the castles of Carlow, Maynooth, Athy,
and other strongholds in Kildare. He beseiged Dublin, and
came to a composition with the citizens, by which they
agreed to allow him free ingress to assail the Castle,
into which his enemies had withdrawn. He despatched agents
to the Emperor, Charles V., and the Pope, but before
those agents could well have returned--March, 1535--
Maynooth had been assaulted and taken by Sir William
Skeffington--and the bands collected by the young lord
had melted away. Lord Leonard Gray, his maternal uncle,
assumed the command for the King of England, instead of
Skeffington, disabled by sickness, and the abortive
insurrection was extinguished in one campaign. Towards
the end of August, 1535, the unfortunate Lord Thomas
surrendered on the guarantee of Lord Leonard and Lord
Butler; in the following year his five uncles--three of
whom had never joined in the rising--were treacherously
seized at a banquet given to them by Gray, and were all,
with their nephew, executed at Tyburn, on the 3rd of
February, 1537. The imprisoned Earl having died in the
Tower on the 12th of December, 1534, the sole survivor
of this historic house was now a child of twelve years
of age, whose life was sought with an avidity equal to
Herod's, but who was protected with a fidelity which
defeated every attempt to capture him. Alternately the
guest of his aunts married to the chiefs of Offally and
Donegal, the sympathy everywhere felt for him led to a
confederacy between the Northern and Southern Chiefs,
which had long been wanting. A loose league was formed,
including the O'Neils of both branches, O'Donnell, O'Brien,
the Earl of Desmond, and the chiefs of Moylurg and Breffni.
The lad, the object of so much natural and chivalrous
affection, was harboured for a time in Munster, thence
transported through Connaught into Donegal, and finally,
after four years, in which he engaged more of the minds
of statesmen than any other individual under the rank of
royalty, was safely landed in France. We shall meet him
again in another reign, under more fortunate auspices.

Lord Leonard Gray continued in office as Deputy for nearly
five years (1535-40). This interval was marked by several
successes against detached clans and the parties to the
Geraldine league, whom he was careful to attack only in
succession. In his second campaign, O'Brien's bridge
was carried and demolished, one O'Brien was set up against
another, and one O'Conor against another; the next year
the Castle of Dungannon was taken from O'Neil, and Dundrum
from Magennis. In 1539, he defeated O'Neil and O'Donnell,
at Bolahoe, on the borders of Farney, in Monaghan, with
a loss of 400 men, and the spoils they had taken from
the English of Navan and Ardee. The Mayors of Dublin and
Drogheda were knighted on the field for the valour they
had shown at the head of their train-bands. The same
year, he made a successful incursion into the territory
of the Earl of Desmond, receiving the homage of many of
the inferior lords, and exonerating them from the exactions
of those haughty Palatines. Recalled to England in 1540,
he, too, in turn, fell a victim to the sanguinary spirit
of King Henry, and perished on the scaffold.



Upon the disgrace of Lord Leonard Gray in 1540, Sir
Anthony St. Leger was appointed Deputy. He had previously
been employed as chief of the commission issued in 1537,
to survey land subject to the King, to inquire into,
confirm, or cancel titles, and abolish abuses which might
have crept in among the Englishry, whether upon the
marches or within the Pale. In this employment he had at
his disposal a guard of 340 men, while the Deputy and
Council were ordered to obey his mandates as if given by
the King in person. The commissioners were further
empowered to reform the Courts of Law; to enter as King's
Counsel into both Houses of Parliament, there to urge
the adoption of measures upholding English laws and
customs, establishing the King's supremacy, in spirituals
as in temporals, to provide for the defence of the marches,
and the better collection of the revenues. In the three
years which he spent at the head of this commission, St.
Leger, an eminently able and politic person, made himself
intimately acquainted with Irish affairs; as a natural
consequence of which knowledge he was entrusted, upon
the first vacancy, with their supreme directions. In this
situation he had to contend, not only with the complications
long existing in the system itself, but with the formidable
disturbing influence exercised by the Court of Scotland,
chiefly upon and by means of the Ulster Princes.

Up to this period, the old political intimacy of Scotland
and Ireland had known no diminution. The Scots in Antrim
could reckon, soon after Henry's accession to the throne,
2,000 fighting men. In 1513, in order to co-operate with
the warlike movement of O'Donnell, the Scottish fleet,
under the Earl of Arran, in his famous flagship, "the
great Michael," captured Carrickfergus, putting its
Anglo-Irish garrison to the sword. In the same Scottish
reign (that of James IV.), one of the O'Donnells had a
munificent grant of lands in Kirkcudbright, as other
adventurers from Ulster had from the same monarch, in
Galloway and Kincardine. In 1523, while hostilities raged
between Scotland and England, the Irish Chiefs entered
into treaty with Francis the First of France, who bound
himself to land in Ireland 15,000 men, to expel the
English from "the Pale," and to carry his arms across
the channel in the quarrel of Richard de la Pole, father
of the famous Cardinal, and at this time a formidable
pretender to the English throne. The imbecile conduct of
the Scottish Regent, the Duke of Albany, destroyed this
enterprise, which, however, was but the forerunner, if
it was not the model, of several similar combinations.
When the Earl of Bothwell took refuge at the English
Court, in 1531, he suggested to Henry VIII., among other
motives for renewing the war with James V., that the
latter was in league "with the Emperor, the Danish King,
and O'Donnell." The following year, a Scottish force of
4,000 men, under John, son of Alexander McDonald, Lord
of the Isles, served, by permission of their King, under
the banner of the Chieftain of Tyrconnell. An uninterrupted
correspondence between the Ulster Chiefs and the Scottish
Court may be traced through this reign, forming a curious
chapter of Irish diplomacy. In 1535, we have a letter
from O'Neil to James V., from which it appears that
O'Neil's Secretary was then residing at the Scottish
Court; and as the crisis of the contest for the Crown
drew near, we find the messages and overtures from Ulster
multiplying in number and earnestness. In that critical
period, James V. was between twenty and thirty years old,
and his powerful minister, Cardinal Beaton, was acting
by him the part that Wolsey had played by Henry at a like
age. The Cardinal, favouring the French and Irish alliances,
had drawn a line of Scottish policy, in relation to both
those countries, precisely parallel to Wolsey's. During
the Geraldine insurrection, Henry was obliged to remonstrate
with James on favours shown to his rebels of Ireland.
This charge James' ministers, in their correspondence of
the year 1535, strenuously denied, while admitting that
some insignificant Islesmen, over whom he could exercise
no control, might have gone privily thither. In the spring
of 1540, Bryan Layton, one of the English agents at the
Scottish Court, communicated to Secretary Cromwell that
James had fitted out a fleet of 15 ships, manned by 2,000
men, and armed with all the ordinance that he could
muster; that his destination was Ireland, the Crown of
which had been offered to him, the previous Lent, by
"eight gentlemen," who brought him written tenders of
submission "from all the great men of Ireland," with
their seals attached; and, furthermore, that the King
had declared to Lord Maxwell his determination to win
such a prize as "never King of Scotland had before," or
to lose his life in the attempt. It is remarkable that
in this same spring of 1540-while such was understood to
be the destination of the Scottish fleet-a congress of
the Chiefs of all Ireland was appointed to be held at
the Abbey of Fore, in West-Meath. To prevent this meeting
taking place, the whole force of the Pale, with the
judges, clergy, townsmen and husbandmen, marched out
under the direction of the Lords of the Council (St.
Leger not having yet arrived to replace Lord Gray), but
finding no such assembly as they had been led to expect,
they made a predatory incursion into Roscommon, and
dispersed some armed bands belonging to O'Conor. The
commander in this expedition was the Marshal Sir William
Brereton, for the moment one of the Lords Justices. He
was followed to the field by the last Prior of Kilmainham,
Sir John Rawson, the Master of the Rolls, the Archbishop
of Dublin, the Bishop of Meath, Mr. Justice Luttrell,
and the Barons of the Exchequer-a strange medley of civil
and military dignitaries.

The prevention or postponement of the Congress at Fore
must have exercised a decided influence on the expedition
of James V. His great armada having put to sea, after
coasting among the out-islands, and putting into a northern
English port from stress of weather, returned home without
achievement of any kind. Diplomatic intercourse was
shortly renewed between him and Henry, but, in the
following year, to the extreme displeasure of his royal
kinsman, he assumed the much-prized title of "Defender
of the Faith." Another rupture took place, when the Irish
card was played over again with the customary effect. In
a letter of July, 1541, introducing to the Irish Chiefs
the Jesuit Fathers, Salmeron, Broet, and Capata, who
passed through Scotland on their way to Ireland, James
styles himself "Lord of Ireland"--another insult and
defiance to Henry, whose newly-acquired kingly style was
then but a few weeks old. By way of retaliation, Henry
ordered the Archbishop of York to search the registers
of that see for evidence of _his_ claim to the Crown of
Scotland, and industriously cultivated the disaffected
party amongst the Scottish nobility. At length these
bickerings broke out into open war, and the short, but
fatal campaign of 1542, removed another rival for the
English King. The double defeat of Fala and of Solway
Moss, the treason of his nobles, and the failure of his
hopes, broke the heart of the high-spirited James V. He
died in December, 1542, in the 33rd year of his age, a
few hours after learning the birth of his daughter, so
celebrated as Mary, Queen of Scots. In his last moments
he pronounced the doom of the Stuart dynasty--"It came
with a lass," he exclaimed, "and it will go with a lass,"
And thus it happened that the image of Ireland, which
unfolds the first scene of the War of the Roses, which
is inseparable from the story of the two Bruces, and
which occupies so much of the first and last years of
the Tudor dynasty, stands mournfully by the deathbed of
the last Stuart King who reigned in Scotland--the only
Prince of his race that had ever written under his name
the title of "_Dominus Hiberniae_."

The premature death of James was hardly more regretted
by his immediate subjects than by his Irish allies. All
external events now conspired to show the hopelessness
of resistance to the power of King Henry. From Scotland,
destined to half a century of anarchy, no help could be
expected. Wales, another ancient ally of the Irish, had
been incorporated with England, in 1536, and was fast
becoming reconciled to the rule of a Prince, sprung from
a Welsh ancestry. Francis of France and Charles V., rivals
for the leadership of the Continent, were too busy with
their own projects to enter into any Irish alliance.
The Geraldines had suffered terrible defeats; the family
of Kildare was without an adult representative; the
O'Neils and O'Donnells had lost ground at Bellahoe, and
were dismayed by the unlooked-for death of the King of
Scotland. The arguments, therefore, by which many of the
chiefs might have justified themselves to their clans in
1541, '2 and '3, for submitting to the inevitable laws
of necessity in rendering homage to Henry VIII., were
neither few nor weak. Abroad there was no hope of an
alliance sufficient to counterbalance the immense resources
of England; at home life-wasting private wars, the conflict
of laws, of languages, and of titles to property, had
become unbearable. That fatal family pride, which would
not permit an O'Brien to obey an O'Neil, nor an O'Conor
to follow either, rendered the establishment of a native
monarchy--even if there had been no other obstacle--
wholly impracticable. Among the clergy alone did the
growing supremacy of Henry meet with any effective

At its first presentation in Ireland, and during the
whole of Henry's lifetime, the "Reformation" wore the
guise of schism, as distinguished from heresy. To deny
the supremacy of the Pope and admit the supremacy of the
King were almost its sole tests of doctrine. All the
ancient teaching in relation to the Seven Sacraments,
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Real Presence,
Purgatory, and Prayers for the Dead, were scrupulously
retained. Subsequently, the necessity of auricular
confession, the invocation of Saints, and the celibacy
of the clergy came to be questioned, but they were not
dogmatically assailed during this reign. The common
people, where English was understood, were slow in taking
alarm at these masked innovations; in the Irish-speaking
districts--three-fourths of the whole country--they were
only heard of as rumours from afar, but the clergy,
secular and regular, were not long left in doubt as to
where such steps must necessarily lead.

From 1534, the year of his divorce, until 1541, the year
of his election, Henry attempted, by fits and starts, to
assert his supremacy in Ireland. He appointed George
Browne, a strenuous advocate of the divorce, some time
Provincial of the order of St. Augustine in England,
Archbishop of Dublin, vacant by the murder of Archbishop
Allan. On the 12th of March, 1535, Browne was consecrated
by Cranmer, whose opinions, as well as those of Secretary
Cromwell, he echoed through life. He may be considered
the first agent employed to introduce the Reformation
into Ireland, and his zeal in that work seems to have
been unwearied. He was destined, however, to find many
opponents, and but few converts. Not only the Primate of
Armagh, George Cromer, and almost all the episcopal order,
resolutely resisted his measures, but the clergy and
laity of Dublin refused to accept his new forms of prayer,
or to listen to his strange teaching. He inveighs in his
correspondence with Cromwell against Bassenet, Dean of
St. Patrick's, Castele, Prior of Christ's Church, and
generally against all the clergy. Of the twenty-eight
secular priests in Dublin, but three could be induced to
act with him; the regular orders he found equally
intractable--more especially the Observantins, whose name
he endeavoured to change to Conventuals. "The spirituality,"
as he calls them, refused to take the oaths of abjuration
and supremacy; refused to strike the name of the Bishop
of Rome from their primers and mass-books, and seduced
the rest into like contumacy. Finding persuasion of little
avail, he sometimes resorted to harsher measures.

Dr. Sall, a grey friar of Waterford, was brought to Dublin
and imprisoned for preaching the new doctrines in the
Spring of 1538; Thaddeus Byrne, another friar, was put
in the pillory, and was reported to have committed suicide
in the Castle, on the 14th of July of the same year; Sir
Humfrey, parson of Saint Owens, and the suffragan Bishop
of Meath, were "clapped in ward," for publicly praying
for the Pope's weal and the King's conversion; another
Bishop and friar were arrested and carried to Trim, for
similar offences, but were liberated without trial, by
Lord Deputy Gray; a friar of Waterford, in 1539, by order
of the St. Leger Commission, was executed in the habit
of his order, on a charge of "felony," and so left hanging
"as a mirror for all his brethren." Yet, with all this
severity, and all the temptations held out by the wealth
of confiscated monasteries, none would abide the preaching
of the new religion except the "Lord Butler, the Master
of the Rolls (Allan), Mr. Treasurer (Brabazon), and one
or two more of small reputation."

The first test to which the firmness of the clergy had
been put was in the Parliament convoked at Dublin by Lord
Deputy Gray, in May, 1537. Anciently in such assemblies
two proctors of each diocese, within the Pale, had been
accustomed to sit and vote in the Upper House as
representing their order, but the proposed tests of
supremacy and abjuration were so boldly resisted by the
proctors and spiritual peers on this occasion that the
Lord Deputy was compelled to prorogue the Parliament
without attaining its assent to those measures. During
the recess a question was raised by the Crown lawyers as
to the competency of the proctors to vote, while admitting
their right to be present as councillors and assistants;
this question, on an appeal to England, was declared in
the negative, whereupon that learned body were excluded
from all share in the future Irish legislation of this
reign. Hence, whoever else are answerable for the election
of 1541 the proctors of the clergy are not.

Having thus reduced the clerical opposition in the Upper
House, the work of monastic spoliation, covertly commenced
two years before, under the pretence of reforming abuses,
was more confidently resumed. In 1536, an act had been
passed vesting the property of all religious houses in
the Crown; at which time the value of their moveables
was estimated at 100,000 pounds and their yearly value
at 32,000 pounds. In 1537, eight abbeys were suppressed
during the King's pleasure; in 1538, a commission issued
for the suppression of monasteries; and in 1539, twenty-four
great Houses, whose Abbots and Priors had been lords of
Parliament, were declared "surrendered" to the King, and
their late superiors were granted pensions for life.
How these "surrenders" were procured we may judge from
the case of Manus, Abbot of St. Mary's, Thurles, who was
carried prisoner to Dublin, and suffered a long confinement
for refusing to yield up his trust according to the
desired formula. The work of confiscation was in these
first years confined to the walled towns in English hands,
the district of the Pale, and such points of the Irish
country as could be conveniently reached. The great order
of the Cistercians, established for more than four
centuries at Mellifont, at Monastereven, at Bective, at
Jerpoint, at Tintern, and at Dunbrody, were the first
expelled from their cloisters and gardens. The Canons
regular of St. Augustine at Trim, at Conal, at Athassel
and at Kells, were next assailed by the degenerate
Augustinian, who presided over the commission. The orders
of St. Victor, of Aroacia, of St. John of Jerusalem, were
extinguished wherever the arm of the Reformation could
reach. The mendicant orders, spread into every district
of the island, were not so easily erased from the soil;
very many of the Dominican and Franciscan houses standing
and flourishing far into the succeeding century.

If the influence of the clergy counterbalanced the policy
of the chiefs, the condition of the mass of the
population--more especially of the inhabitants of the
Pale and the marches--was such as to make them cherish
the expectation that any governmental change whatever
should be for the better. It was, under these circumstances,
a far-reaching policy, which combined the causes and the
remedy for social wrongs, with invectives against the
old, and arguments in favour of the new religion. In
order to understand what elements of discontent there
were to be wrought to such conclusions, it is enough to
give the merest glance at the social state of the lower
classes under English authority. The St. Leger Commission
represents the mixed population of the marches, and the
Englishry of "the Pale" as burthened by accumulated
exactions. Their lords quartered upon them at pleasure
their horses, servants, and guests. They were charged
with coin and livery--that is, horse-meat and man's-meat
--when their lords travelled from place to place--with
summer-oats, with providing for their cosherings, or
feasts, at Christmas and Easter, with "black men and
black money," for border defence, and with workmen and
axemen from every ploughland, to work in the ditches, or
to hew passages for the soldiery through the woods. Every
aggravation of feudal wrong was inflicted on this harassed
population. When a le Poer or a Butler married a daughter
he exacted a sheep from every flock, and a cow from every
village. When one of his sons went to England, a special
tribute was levied on every village and ploughland to
bear the young gentleman's travelling expenses. When the
heads of any of the great houses hunted, their dogs were
to be supplied by the tenants "with bread and milk, or
butter." In the towns tailors, masons, and carpenters,
were taxed for coin and livery; "mustrons" were employed
in building halls, castles, stables, and barns, at the
expense of the tenantry, for the sole use of the lord.
The only effective law was an undigested jumble of the
Brehon, the Civil, and the Common law; with the arbitrary
ordinances of the marches, known as "the Statutes of
Kilcash"--so called from a border stronghold near the
foot of Slievenamon--a species of wild justice, resembling
too often that administered by Robin Hood, or Rob Roy.

Many circumstances concurring to promote plans so long
cherished by Henry, St. Leger summoned a Parliament for
the morrow after Trinity Sunday, being the 13th of the
month of June, 1541. The attendance on the day named was
not so full as was expected, so the opening was deferred
till the following Thursday--being the feast of Corpus
Christi. On that festival the Mass of the Holy Ghost was
solemnly celebrated in St. Patrick's Cathedral, in which
"two thousand persons" had assembled. The Lords of
Parliament rode in cavalcade to the Church doors, headed
by the Deputy. There were seen side by side in this
procession the Earls of Desmond and Ormond, the Lords
Barry, Roche and Bermingham; thirteen Barons of "the
Pale," and a long train of Knights; Donogh O'Brien, Tanist
of Thomond, the O'Reilly, O'Moore and McWilliam; Charles,
son of Art Kavanagh, lord of Leinster, and Fitzpatrick,
lord of Ossory. Never before had so many Milesian chiefs
and Norman barons been seen together, except on the field
of battle; never before had Dublin beheld marshalled in
her streets what could by any stretch of imagination be
considered a national representation. For this singularity,
not less than for the business it transacted, the Parliament
of 1541 will be held in lasting remembrance.

In the sanctuary of St. Patrick's, two Archbishops and
twelve Bishops assisted at the solemn mass, and the whole
ceremony was highly imposing. "The like thereof," wrote
St. Leger to Henry, "has not been seen here these many
years." On the next day, Friday, the Commons elected Sir
Thomas Cusack speaker, who, in "a right solemn proposition,"
opened at the bar of the Lords' House the main business
of the session--the establishment of King Henry's supremacy.
To this address Lord Chancellor Allen--"well and prudentlie
answered;" and the Commons withdrew to their own chamber.
The substance of both speeches was "briefly and prudentlie"
declared in the Irish language to the Gaelic Lords, by
the Earl of Ormond, "greatly to their contentation." Then
St. Leger proposed that Henry and his heirs should have
the title of King, and caused the "bill devised for the
same to be read." This bill having been put to the Lords'
House, both in Irish and English, passed its three readings
at the same sitting. In the Commons it was adopted with
equal unanimity the next day, when the Lord Deputy most
joyfully gave his consent. Thus on Saturday, June 19th,
1541, the royalty of Ireland was first formally transferred
to an English dynasty. On that day the triumphant
St. Leger was enabled to write his royal master his
congratulations on having added to his dignities "another
imperial crown." On Sunday bonfires were made in honour
of the event, guns fired, and wine on stoop was set in
the streets. All prisoners, except those for capital
offences, were liberated; _Te Deum_ was sung in St.
Patrick's, and King Henry issued his proclamation, on
receipt of the intelligence, for a general pardon throughout
_all_ his dominions. The new title was confirmed with
great formality by the English Parliament in their session
of 1542. Proclamation was formally made of it in London,
on the 1st of July of that year, when it was moreover
declared that after that date all persons being lawfully
convicted of opposing the new dignity should "be adjudged
high traitors"--"and suffer the pains of death."

Thus was consummated the first political union of Ireland
with England. The strangely-constituted Assembly, which
had given its sanction to the arrangement, in the language
of the Celt, the Norman, and the Saxon, continued in
session till the end of July, when they were prorogued
till November. They enacted several statutes, in completion
of the great change they had decreed; and while some
prepared for a journey to the court of their new sovereign,
others returned to their homes, to account as best they
could for the part they had played at Dublin.



The Act of Election could hardly be considered as the
Act of the Irish nation, so long as several of the most
distinguished chiefs withheld their concurrence. With
these, therefore, Saint Leger entered into separate
treaties, by separate instruments, agreed upon, at various
dates, during the years 1542 and 1543. Manus O'Donnell,
lord of Tyrconnell, gave in his adhesion in August, 1541,
Con O'Neil, lord of Tyrowen, Murrogh O'Brien, lord of
Thomond, Art O'Moore, lord of Leix, and Ulick Burke, lord
of Clanrickarde, 1542 and 1543; but, during the reign of
Henry, no chief of the McCarthys, the O'Conors of Roscommon
or of Offally, entered into any such engagement. The
election, therefore, was far from unanimous, and Henry
VIII. would perhaps be classed by our ancient Senachies
among the "Kings with opposition," who figure so often
in our Annals during the Middle Ages.

Assuming, however, the title conferred upon him with no
little complacency, Henry proceeded to exercise the first
privilege of a sovereign, the creation of honours. Murrogh
O'Brien, chief of his name, became Earl of Thomond, and
Donogh, his nephew, Baron of Ibrackan; Ulick McWilliam
Burke became Earl of Clanrickarde and Baron of Dunkellin;
Hugh O'Donnell was made Earl of Tyrconnell; Fitzpatrick,
became Baron of Ossory, and Kavanagh, Baron of Ballyan;
Con O'Neil was made Earl of Tyrone, having asked, and
been refused, the higher title of Earl of Ulster. The
order of Knighthood was conferred on several of the
principal attendants, and to each of the new peers the
King granted a house in or near Dublin, for their
accommodation, when attending the sittings of Parliament.

The imposing ceremonial of the transformation of these
Celtic chiefs into English Earls has been very minutely
described by an eye-witness. One batch were made at
Greenwich Palace, after High Mass on Sunday, the 1st of
July, 1543. The Queen's closet "was richly hanged with
cloth of arras and well strawed with rushes," for their
robing room. The King received them under a canopy of
state, surrounded by his Privy Council, the peers,
spiritual and temporal, the Earl of Glencairn, Sir George
Douglas, and the other Scottish Commissioners. The Earls
of Derby and Ormond led in the new Earl of Thomond,
Viscount Lisle carrying before them the sword. The
Chamberlain handed his letters patent to the Secretary
who read them down to the words _Cincturam gladii_, when
the King girt the kneeling Earl, baldric-wise, with the
sword, all the company standing. A similar ceremony was
gone through with the others, the King throwing a gold
chain having a cross hanging to it round each of their
necks. Then, preceded by the trumpeters blowing, and the
officers at arms, they entered the dining hall, where,
after the second course, their titles were proclaimed
aloud in Norman-French by Garter, King at Arms. Nor did
Henry, who prided himself on his munificence, omit even
more substantial tokens of his favour to the new Peers.
Besides the town houses near Dublin, before mentioned,
he granted to O'Brien all the abbeys and benefices of
Thomond, bishoprics excepted; to McWilliam Burke, all
the parsonages and vicarages of Clanrickarde, with
one-third of the first-fruits, the Abbey of _Via Nova_
and 30 pounds a year compensation for the loss of the
customs of Galway; to Donogh O'Brien, the Abbey of
Ellenegrane, the moiety of the Abbey of Clare, and an
annuity of 20 pounds a year. To the new lord of Ossory
he granted the monasteries of Aghadoe and Aghmacarte,
with the right of holding court lete and market, every
Thursday, at his town of Aghadoe. For these and other
favours the recipients had been instructed to petition
the King, and drafts of such petitions had been drawn up
in anticipation of their arrival in England, by some
official hand. The petitions are quoted by most of our
late historians as their own proper act, but it is quite
clear, though willing enough to present them and to accept
such gifts, they had never dictated them.

In the creation of this Peerage Henry proclaimed, in the
most practical manner possible, his determination to
assimilate the laws and institutions of Ireland to those
of England. And the new made Earls, forgetting their
ancient relations to their clans--forgetting, as O'Brien
had answered St. Leger's first overtures three years
before, "that though he was captain of his nation he was
still but one man," by suing out royal patents for their
lands, certainly consented to carry out the King's plans.
The Brehon law was doomed from the date of the creation
of the new Peers at Greenwich, for such a change entailed
among its first consequences a complete abrogation of
the Gaelic relations of clansman and chief.

By the Brehon law every member of a free clan was as
truly a proprietor of the tribe-land as the chief himself.
He could sell his share, or the interest in it, to any
other member of the tribe--the origin, perhaps, of what
is now called tenant-right; he could not, however, sell
to a stranger without the consent of the tribe and the
chief. The stranger coming in under such an arrangement,
held by a special tenure, yet if he remained during the
time of three lords he became thereby naturalized. If
the unnaturalized tenant withdrew of his own will from
the land he was obliged to leave all his improvements
behind; but if he was ejected he was entitled to get
their full value. Those who were immediate tenants of
the chief, or of the church, were debarred this privilege
of tenant-right, and if unable to keep their holdings
were obliged to surrender them unreservedly to the church
or the chief. All the tribesmen, according to the extent
of their possessions, were bound to maintain the chief's
household, and to sustain him, with men and means, in
his offensive and defensive wars. Such were, in brief,
the land laws in force over three-fourths of the country
in the sixteenth century; laws which partook largely of
the spirit of an ancient patriarchal justice, but which,
in ages of movement, exchange, and enterprise, would have
been found the reverse of favourable to individual freedom
and national strength. There were not wanting, we may be
assured, many minds to whom this truth was apparent so
early as the age of Henry VIII. And it may not be
unreasonable to suppose that one of the advantages which
the chief found in exchanging this patriarchal position
for a feudal Earldom would be the greater degree of
independence on the will of the tribe, which the new
system conferred on him. With the mass of the clansmen,
however, for the very same reason, the change was certain
to be unpopular, if not odious. But a still more serious
change--a change of religion--was evidently contemplated
by those Earls who accepted the property of the confiscated
religious houses. The receiver of such estates could hardly
pretend to belong to the ancient religion of the country.

It is impossible to understand Irish history from the
reign of Henry VIII. till the fall of James II.--nearly
two hundred years--without constantly keeping in mind
the dilemma of the chiefs and lords between the requirements
of the English Court on the one hand and of the native
clans on the other. Expected to obey and to administer
conflicting laws, to personate two characters, to speak
two languages, to uphold the old, yet to patronize the
new order of things; distrusted at Court if they inclined
to the people, detested by the people if they leaned
towards the Court--a more difficult situation can hardly
be conceived. Their perilous circumstances brought forth
a new species of Irish character in the Chieftain-Earls
of the Tudor and Stuart times. Not less given to war than
their forefathers, they were now compelled to study the
politician's part, even more than the soldier's. Brought
personally in contact with powerful Sovereigns, or pitted
at home against the Sydneys, Mountjoys, Chichesters, and
Straffords, the lessons of Bacon and Machiavelli found
apt scholars in the halls of Dunmanway and Dungannon.
The multitude, in the meanwhile, saw only the broad fact
that the Chief had bowed his neck to the hated Saxon
yoke, and had promised, or would be by and by compelled,
to introduce foreign garrisons, foreign judges, and
foreign laws, amongst the sons of the Gael. Very early
they perceived this; on the adhesion of O'Donnell to the
Act of Election, a part of his clansmen, under the lead
of his own son, rose up against his authority. A rival
McWilliam was at once chosen to the new Earl of
Clanrickarde, in the West. Con O'Neil, the first of his
race who had accepted an English title, was imprisoned
by his son, John the Proud, and died of grief during his
confinement. O'Brien found, on his return from Greenwich,
half his territory in revolt; and this was the general
experience of all Henry's electors. Yet such was the
power of the new Sovereign that, we are told in our
Annals, at the year 1547--the year of Henry's death
--"no one dared give food or protection" to those few
patriotic chiefs who still held obstinately out against
the election of 1541.

The creation of a new peerage coincided in point of time
with the first unconditional nomination of new Bishops
by the Crown. The Plantagenet Kings, in common with all
feudal Princes, had always claimed the right of investing
Bishops with their temporalities and legal dignities;
while, at the same time, they recognized in the See of
Rome the seat and centre of Apostolic authority. But
Henry, excommunicated and incorrigible, had procured from
the Parliament of "the Pale," three years before the Act
of Election, the formal recognition of his spiritual
supremacy, under which he proceeded, as often as he had
an opportunity, to promote candidates for the episcopacy
to vacant sees. Between 1537 and 1547, thirteen or fourteen
such vacancies having occurred, he nominated to the
succession whenever the diocese was actually within his
power. In this way the Sees of Dublin, Kildare, Ferns,
Ardagh, Emly, Tuam and Killaloe were filled up; while
the vacancies which occurred about the same period in
Armagh, Clogher, Clonmacnoise, Clonfert, Kilmore, and
Down and Conor were supplied from Rome. Many of the latter
were allowed to take possession of their temporalities
--so far as they were within English power--by taking an
oath of allegiance, specially drawn for them. Others,
when prevented from so doing by the penalties of
_praemunire_, delegated their authority to Vicars General,
who contrived to elude the provisions of the statute. On
the other hand, several of the King's Bishops, excluded
by popular hostility from the nominal sees, never resided
upon them; some of them spent their lives in Dublin, and
others were entertained as suffragans by Bishops in

In March, 1543, Primate Cromer, who had so resolutely
led the early opposition to Archbishop Browne, died,
whereupon Pope Paul III. appointed Robert Waucop, a
Scotsman (by some writers called _Venantius_), to the
See of Armagh. This remarkable man, though afflicted
with blindness from his youth upwards, was a doctor of
the Sorbonne, and one of the most distinguished Prelates
of his age. He introduced the first Jesuit Fathers into
Ireland, and to him is attributed the establishment of
that intimate intercourse between the Ulster Princes and
the See of Rome, which characterized the latter half of
the century. He assisted at the Council of Trent from
1545 to 1547, was subsequently employed as Legate in
Germany, and died abroad during the reign of Edward VI.
Simultaneously with the appointment of Primate Waucop,
Henry VIII. had nominated to the same dignity George
Dowdal, a native of Louth, formerly Prior of the crutched
friars at Ardee, in that county. Though Dowdal accepted
the nomination, he did so without acknowledging the King's
supremacy in spirituals. On the contrary he remained
attached to the Holy See, and held his claims in abeyance,
during the lifetime of Waucop. On the death of the latter,
he assumed his rank, but was obliged to fly into exile,
during the reign of Edward. On the accession of Mary he
was recalled from his place of banishment in Brabant,
and his first official act on returning home was to
proclaim a Jubilee for the public restoration of the
Catholic worship.

The King's Bishops during the last years of Henry, and
the brief reign of Edward, were, besides Browne of Dublin,
Edward Staples, Bishop of Meath, Matthew Saunders and
Robert Travers, successively Bishops of Leighlin, William
Miagh and Thomas Lancaster, successively Bishops of
Kildare, and John Bale, Bishop of Ossory--all Englishmen.
The only native names, before the reign of Elizabeth,
which we find associated in any sense with the
"reformation," are John Coyn, or Quin, Bishop of Limerick,
and Dominick Tirrey, Bishop of Cork and Cloyne. Dr. Quin
was promoted to the See in 1522, and resigned his charge
in the year 1551. He is called a "favourer" of the new
doctrines, but it is not stated how far he went in their
support. His successor, Dr. William Casey, was one of
the six Bishops deprived by Queen Mary on her accession
to the throne. As Bishop Tirrey is not of the
number--although he lived till the third year of Mary's
reign--we may conclude that he became reconciled to the
Holy See.

The native population became, before Henry's death, fully
aroused to the nature of the new doctrines, to which at
first they had paid so little attention. The Commission
issued in 1539 to Archbishop Browne and others for the
destruction of images and relics, and the prevention of
pilgrimages, as well as the ordering of English prayers
as a substitute for the Mass, brought home to all minds
the sweeping character of the change. Our native Annals
record the breaking out of the English schism from the
year 1537, though its formal introduction into Ireland
may, perhaps, be more accurately dated from the issuing
of the Ecclesiastical Commission of 1539. In their eyes
it was the offspring of "pride, vain-glory, avarice, and
lust," and its first manifestations were well calculated
to make it for ever odious on Irish soil. "They destroyed
the religious orders," exclaimed the Four Masters! "They
broke down the monasteries, and sold their roofs and
bells, from Aran of the Saints to the Iccian Sea!" "They
burned the images, shrines, and relics of the Saints;
they destroyed the Statue of our Lady of Trim, and the
Staff of Jesus, which had been in the hand of St. Patrick!"
Such were the works of that Commission as seen by the
eyes of Catholics, natives of the soil. The Commissioners
themselves, however, gloried in their work, and pointed
with complacency to their success. The "innumerable
images" which adorned the churches were dashed to pieces;
the ornaments of shrines and altars, when not secreted
in time, were torn from their places, and beaten into
shapeless masses of metal. This harvest yielded in the
first year nearly 3,000 pounds, on an inventory, wherein
we find 1,000 lbs. weight of wax, manufactured into
candles and tapers, valued at 20 pounds. Such was the
return made to the revenue; what share of the spoil was
appropriated by the agents employed may never be known.
It would be absurd, however, to expect a scrupulous regard
to honesty in men engaged in the work of sacrilege! And
this work, it must be added, was carried on in the face
of the stipulation entered into with the Parliament of
1541, that "the Church of Ireland shall be free, and
enjoy all its accustomed privileges."

The death of Henry, in January, 1547, found the Reformation
in Ireland at the stage just described. But though all
attempts to diffuse a general recognition of his spiritual
power had failed, his reign will ever be memorable as
the epoch of the union of the English and Irish Crowns.
Before closing the present Book of our History, in which
we have endeavoured to account for that great fact, and
to trace the progress of the negotiations which led to
its accomplishment, we must briefly review the relations
existing between the Kings of England and the Irish
nation, from Henry II. to Henry VIII.

If we are to receive a statement of considerable antiquity,
a memorable compromise effected at the Council of Constance,
between the ambassadors of France and England, as to who
should take precedence, turned mainly on this very point.
The French monarchy was then at its lowest, the English
at its highest pitch, for Charles VI. was but a nominal
sovereign of France, while the conqueror of Agincourt
sat on the throne of England. Yet in the first assembly
of the Prelates and Princes of Europe, we are told that
the ambassadors of France raised a question of the right
of the English envoys to be received as representing a
nation, seeing that they had been conquered not only by
the Romans, but by the Saxons. Their argument further
was, that, "as the Saxons were tributaries to the German
Empire, and never governed by native sovereigns, they
[the English] should take place as a branch only of the
German empire, and not as a free nation. For," argued
the French, "it is evident from Albertus Magnus and
Bartholomew Glanville, that the world is divided into
three parts, Europe, Asia, and Africa;--that Europe is
divided into four empires, the Roman, Constantinopolitan,
the Irish, and the Spanish." "The English advocates," we
are told, "admitting the force of these allegations,
claimed their precedency and rank from Henry's being
monarch of Ireland, and it was accordingly granted."

If this often-told anecdote is of any historical value,
it only shows the ignorance of the representatives of
France in yielding their pretensions on so poor a quibble.
Neither Henry V., nor any other English sovereign before
him, had laid claim to the title of "Monarch of Ireland."
The indolence or ignorance of modern writers has led
them, it is true, to adopt the whole series of the
Plantagenet Kings as sovereigns of Ireland--to set up in
history a dynasty which never existed for us; to leave
out of their accounts of a monarchical people all question
of their crown; and to pass over the election of 1541
without adequate, or any inquiry.

It is certain that neither Henry II., nor Richard I.,
ever used in any written instrument, or graven sign, the
style of king, or even lord of Ireland; though in the
Parliament held at Oxford in the year 1185, Henry conferred
on his youngest son, John _lack-land_, a title which he
did not himself possess, and John is thenceforth known
in English history as "Lord of Ireland." This honour was
not, however, of the exclusive nature of sovereignty,
else John could hardly have borne it during the lifetime
of his father and brother. And although we read that
Cardinal Octavian was sent into England by Pope Urban
III., authorized to consecrate John, _King_ of Ireland,
no such consecration took place, nor was the lordship
looked upon, at any period, as other than a creation of
the royal power of England existing in Ireland, which
could be recalled, transferred, or alienated, without
detriment to the prerogative of the King.

Neither had this original view of the relations existing
between England and Ireland undergone any change at the
time of the Council of Constance. Of this we have a
curious illustration in the style employed by the Queen
Dowager of Henry V., who, during the minority of her son,
granted charters, as "Queen of England and France, and
lady of Ireland." The use of different crowns in the
coronations of all the Tudors subsequent to Henry VIII.
shows plainly how the recent origin of their secondary
title was understood and acknowledged during the remainder
of the sixteenth century. Nothing of the kind was practised
at the coronation of the Plantagenet Princes, nor were
the arms of Ireland quartered with those of England
previous to the period we have described--the memorable
year, 1541.





On the last day of January, 1547, Edward, son of Henry,
by Lady Jane Seymour, was crowned by the title of Edward
VI. He was then only nine years old, and was destined
to wear the crown but for six years and a few months. No
Irish Parliament was convened during his reign, but the
Reformation was pushed on with great vigour, at first
under the patronage of the Protector, his uncle, and
subsequently of that uncle's rival, the Duke of
Northumberland. Archbishop Cranmer suffered the zeal of
neither of these statesmen to flag for want of stimulus,
and the Lord Deputy Saint Leger, judging from the cause
of his disgrace in the next reign, approved himself a
willing assistant in the work.

The Irish Privy Council, which exercised all the powers
of government during this short reign, was composed
exclusively of partizans of the Reformation. Besides
Archbishop Browne and Staples, Bishop of Meath, its
members were the Chancellor, Read, and the Treasurer,
Brabazon, both English, with the Judges Aylmer, Luttrel,
Bath, Cusack, and Howth--all proselytes, at least in
form, to the new opinions. The Earl of Ormond, with
sixteen of his household, having been poisoned at a
banquet in Ely House, London, in October before Henry's
death, the influence of that great house was wielded
during the minority of his successor by Sir Francis Bryan,
an English adventurer, who married the widowed countess.
This lady being, moreover, daughter and heir general to
James, Earl of Desmond, brought Bryan powerful connections
in the South, which he was not slow to turn to a politic
account. His ambition aimed at nothing less than the
supreme authority, military and civil; but when at length
he attained the summit of his hopes, he only lived to
enjoy them a few months.

To enable the Deputy and Council to carry out the work
they had begun, an additional military force was felt to
be necessary, and Sir Edward Bellingham was sent over,
soon after Edward's accession, with a detachment of six
hundred horse, four hundred foot, and the title of Captain
General. This able officer, in conjunction with Sir
Francis Bryan, who appears to have been everywhere,
overran Offally, Leix, Ely and West-Meath, sending the
chiefs of the two former districts as prisoners to London,
and making advantageous terms with those of the latter.
He was, however, supplanted in the third year of Edward
by Bryan, who held successively the rank of Marshal of
Ireland and Lord Deputy. To the latter office he was
chosen on an emergency, by the Council, in December,
1549, but died at Clonmel, on an expedition against the
O'Carrolls, in the following February. His successes and
those of Bellingham hastened the reduction of Leix and
Offally into shire ground in the following reign.

The total military force at the disposal of Edward's
commanders was probably never less than 10,000 effective
men. By the aid of their abundant artillery, they were
enabled to take many strong places hitherto deemed
impregnable to assault. The mounted men and infantry,
were, as yet, but partially armed with musquetons, or
firelocks--for the spear and the bow still found advocates
among military men. The spearmen or lancers were chiefly
recruited on the marches of Northumberland from the hardy
race of border warriors; the mounted bowmen or hobilers
were generally natives of Chester or North Wales. Between
these new comers and the native Anglo-Irish troops many
contentions arose from time to time, but in the presence
of the common foe these bickerings were completely
forgotten. The townsmen of Waterford marched promptly at
a call, under their standard of the three galleys, and
those of Dublin as cheerfully turned out under the
well-known banner, decorated with three flaming towers.

The _personnel_ of the administration, in the six years
of Edward, was continually undergoing change. Bellingham,
who succeeded St. Leger, was supplanted by Bryan, on
whose death, St. Leger was reappointed. After another
year Sir James Croft was sent over to replace St. Leger,
and continued to fill the office until the accession of
Queen Mary. But whoever rose or fell to the first rank
in civil affairs, the Privy Council remained exclusively
Protestant, and the work of innovation was not suffered
to languish. A manuscript account, attributed to Adam
Loftus, Browne's successor, assigns the year 1549 as the
date when "the Mass was put down," in Dublin, "and divine
service was celebrated in English." Bishop Mant, the
historian of the Established Church in Ireland, does not
find any account of such an alteration, nor does the
statement appear to him consistent with subsequent facts
of this reign. We observe, also, that in 1550, Arthur
Magennis, the Pope's Bishop of Dromore, was allowed by
the government to enter on possession of his temporalities
after taking an oath of allegiance, while King's Bishops
were appointed in that and the next two years to the
vacant Sees of Kildare, Leighlin, Ossory, and Limerick.
A vacancy having occurred in the See of Cashel, in 1551,
it was unaccountably left vacant, as far as the Crown
was concerned, during the remainder of this reign, while
a similar vacancy in Armagh was filled, at least in name,
by the appointment of Dr. Hugh Goodacre, chaplain to the
Bishop of Winchester, and a favourite preacher with the
Princess Elizabeth. This Prelate was consecrated, according
to a new form, in Christ Church, Dublin, on 2nd of
February, 1523, together with his countryman, John Bale,
Bishop of Ossory. The officiating Prelates were Browne,
Staples, and Lancaster of Kildare--all English. The Irish
Establishment, however, does not at all times rest its
argument for the validity of its episcopal Order upon
these consecrations. Most of their writers lay claim to
the Apostolic succession, through Adam Loftus, consecrated
in England, according to the ancient rite, by Hugh Curwen,
an Archbishop in communion with the See of Rome, at the
time of his elevation to the episcopacy.

In February, 1551, Sir Anthony St. Leger received the
King's commands to cause the Scriptures translated into
the English tongue, and the Liturgy and Prayers of the
Church, also translated into English, to be read in all
the churches of Ireland. To render these instructions
effective, the Deputy summoned a convocation of the
Archbishops, Bishops, and Clergy, to meet in Dublin on
the 1st of March, 1551. In this meeting--the first of
two in which the defenders of the old and of the new
religion met face to face--the Catholic party was led by
the intrepid Dowdal, Archbishop of Armagh, and the
Reformers by Archbishop Browne. The Deputy, who, like
most laymen of that age, had a strong theological turn,
also took an active part in the discussion. Finally
delivering the royal order to Browne, the latter accepted
it in a set form of words, without reservation; the
Anglican Bishops of Meath, Kildare, and Leighlin, and
Coyne, Bishop of Limerick, adhering to his act; Primate
Dowdal, with the other Bishops, having previously retired
from the Conference. On Easter day following, the English
service was celebrated for the first tune in Christ
Church, Dublin, the Deputy, the Archbishop, and the Mayor
of the city assisting. Browne preached from the text:
"Open mine eyes that I may see the wonders of the law"
--a sermon chiefly remarkable for its fierce invective
against the new Order of Jesuits.

Primate Dowdal retired from the Castle Conference to
Saint Mary's Abbey, on the north side of the Liffey,
where he continued while these things were taking place
in the city proper. The new Lord Deputy, Sir James
Crofts, on his arrival in May, addressed himself to the
Primate, to bring about, if possible, an accommodation
between the Prelates. Fearing, as he said, an "order ere
long to alter church matters, as well in offices as in
ceremonies," the new Deputy urged another Conference,
which was accordingly held at the Primate's lodgings, on
the 16th of June. At this meeting Browne does not seem
to have been present, the argument on the side of the
Reformers being maintained by Staples. The points discussed
were chiefly the essential character of the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass, and the invocation of Saints. The tone
observed on both sides was full of high-bred courtesy.
The letter of the Sacred Scriptures and the authority of
Erasmus in Church History were chiefly relied upon by
Staples; the common consent and usage of all Christendom,
the primacy of Saint Peter, and the binding nature of
the oath taken by Bishops at their consecration, were
pointed out by the Primate. The disputants parted, with
expressions of deep regret that they could come to no
agreement; but the Primacy was soon afterwards transferred
to Dublin, by order of the Privy Council, and Dowdal fled
for refuge into Brabant. The Roman Catholic and the
Anglican Episcopacy have never since met in oral controversy
on Irish ground, though many of the second order of the
clergy in both communions have, from time to time, been
permitted by their superiors to engage in such discussions.

Whatever obstacles they encountered within the Church
itself, the propagation of the new religion was not
confined to moral means, nor was the spirit of opposition
at all tunes restricted to mere argument. Bishop Bale
having begun at Kilkenny to pull down the revered images
of the Saints, and to overturn the Market Cross, was set
upon by the mob, five of his servants, or guard, were
slain, and himself narrowly escaped with his life by
barricading himself in his palace. The garrisons in the
neighbourhood of the ancient seats of ecclesiastical
power and munificence were authorized to plunder their
sanctuaries and storehouses. The garrison of Down sacked
the celebrated shrines and tomb of Patrick, Bridget, and
Columbkill; the garrison of Carrickfergus ravaged Rathlin
Island and attacked Derry, from which, however, they were
repulsed with severe loss by John the Proud. But the most
lamentable scene of spoliation, and that which excited
the profoundest emotions of pity and anger in the public
mind, was the violation of the churches of St. Kieran--the
renowned Clonmacnoise. This city of schools had cast its
cross-crowned shade upon the gentle current of the Upper
Shannon for a thousand years. Danish fury, civil storm,
and Norman hostility had passed over it, leaving traces
of their power in the midst of the evidences of its
recuperation. The great Church to which pilgrims flocked
from every tribe of Erin, on the 9th of September--St.
Kieran's Day; the numerous chapels erected by the chiefs
of all the neighbouring clans; the halls, hospitals,
book-houses, nunneries, cemeteries, granaries-all still
stood, awaiting from Christian hands the last fatal blow.
In the neighbouring town of Athlone--seven or eight miles
distant--the Treasurer, Brabazon, had lately erected a
strong "Court" or Castle, from which, in the year 1552,
the garrison sallied forth to attack "the place of the
sons of the nobles,"--which is the meaning of the name.
In executing this task they exhibited a fury surpassing
that of Turgesius and his Danes. The pictured glass was
torn from the window frames, and the revered images from
their niches; altars were overthrown; sacred vessels
polluted. "They left not," say the Four Masters, "a book
or a gem," nor anything to show what Clonmacnoise had
been, save the bare walls of the temples, the mighty
shaft of the round tower, and the monuments in the
cemeteries, with their inscriptions in Irish, in Hebrew,
and in Latin. The Shannon re-echoed with their profane
songs and laughter, as laden with chalices and crucifixes,
brandishing croziers, and flaunting vestments in the air,
their barges returned to the walls of Athlone.

In all the Gaelic speaking regions of Ireland, the new
religion now began to be known by those fruits which it
had so abundantly produced. Though the southern and
midland districts had not yet recovered from the exhaustion
consequent upon the suppression of the Geraldine league
and the abortive insurrection of Silken Thomas, the
northern tribes were still unbroken and undismayed. They
had deputed George Paris, a kinsman of the Kildare
Fitzgeralds, as their agent to the French King, in the
latter days of Henry VIII., and had received two ambassadors
on his behalf at Donegal and Dungannon. These ambassadors,
the Baron de Forquevaux, and the Sieur de Montluc, who
subsequently became Bishop of Valence, crossing over from
the west of Scotland, entered into a league, offensive
and defensive, with "the princes" of Tyrconnell and
Tyrowen, by which the latter bound themselves to recognize,
on certain conditions, "whoever was King of France as
King of Ireland likewise." This alliance, though prolonged
into the reign of Edward, led to nothing definitive, and
we shall see in the next reign how the hopes then turned
towards France were naturally transferred to Spain.

The only native name which rises into historic importance
at this period is that of Shane, or John O'Neil, "the
Proud." He was the legitimate son of that Con O'Neil who
had been girt with the Earl's baldric by the hands of
Henry VIII. His father had procured at the same time for
an illegitimate son, Ferodach, or Mathew, of Dundalk,
the title of Baron of Dungannon, with the reversion of
the Earldom. When, however, John the Proud came of age,
he centred upon himself the hopes of his clansmen, deposed
his father, subdued the Baron, and assumed the title of
O'Neil. In 1552 he defeated the efforts of Sir William
Brabazon to fortify Belfast, and delivered Derry from
its plunderers. From that time till his tragical death,
in the ninth year of Queen Elizabeth, he stood
unquestionably the first man of his race, both in lineage
and action.



The death of Edward VI. and the accession of the lady
Mary were known in Dublin by the middle of July, 1553,
and soon spread all over the kingdom. On the 20th of that
month, the form of proclamation was received from London,
in which the new Queen was forbidden to be styled "head
of the church," and this was quickly followed by another
ordinance, authorizing all who would to publicly attend
Mass, but not compelling thereto any who were unwilling.
A curious legal difficulty existed in relation to Mary's
title to the Crown of Ireland. By the Irish Statute, 38.
Hen. VIII., the Irish crown was entailed by name on the
Lady Elizabeth, and that act had not been repealed. It
was, however, held to have been superseded by the English
Statute, 35. Hen. VIII., which followed the election of
1541, and declared the Crown of Ireland "united and knit
to the Imperial Crown of the Realm of England." Read in
the light of the latter statute, the Irish sovereignty
might be regarded a mere appurtenance of that of England,
but Mary did not so consider it. At her coronation, a
separate crown was used for Ireland, nor did she feel
assured of the validity of her claim to wear it till she
had obtained a formal dispensation to that effect from
the Pope.

The intelligence of the new Queen's accession, and the
public restoration of the old religion, diffused a general
joy throughout Ireland. Festivals and pageants were held
in the streets, and eloquent sermons poured from all the
pulpits. Archbishop Dowdal was called from exile, and
the Primacy was restored to Armagh. Sir Anthony St. Leger,
his ancient antagonist, had now conformed to the Court
fashion, and was sent over to direct the establishment
of that religion which he had been so many years engaged
in pulling down. In 1554, Browne, Staples, Lancaster,
and Travers, were formally deprived of their sees; Bale
and Casey of Limerick fled beyond seas, without awaiting
judgment. Married clergymen were invariably silenced,
and the children of Browne were declared by statute

What, however, gratified the public even more than these
retributions was the liberation of the aged Chief of
Offally from the Tower of London, at the earnest
supplication of his heroic daughter, Margaret, who found
her way to the Queen's presence to beg that boon; and
the simultaneous restoration of the Earldom of Kildare,
in the person of that Gerald, who had been so young a
fugitive among the glens of Muskerry and Donegal, and
had since undergone so many continental adventures. With
O'Conor and young Gerald, the heirs of the houses of
Ormond and of Upper Ossory were also allowed to return
to their homes, to the great delight of the southern half
of the kingdom. The subsequent marriage of Mary with
Philip II. of Spain gave an additional security to the
Irish Catholics for the future freedom of their religion.

Great as was the change in this respect, it is not to be
inferred that the national relations of Ireland and
England were materially affected by such a change of
sovereign. The maxims of conquest were not to be abandoned
at the dictates of religion. The supreme power continued
to be entrusted only to Englishmen; while the same
Parliament (3rd and 4th Philip and Mary) which abolished
the title of head of the Church, and restored the Roman
jurisdiction in matters spiritual, divided Leix and
Offally, Glenmalier and Slewmargy, into shire ground,
subject to English law, under the name of King's and
Queen's County. The new forts of Maryborough and
Philipstown, as well as the county names, served to teach
the people of Leinster that the work of conquest could
be as industriously prosecuted by Catholic as by Protestant
rulers. Nor were these forts established and maintained
without many a struggle. St. Leger, and his still abler
successor, the Earl of Sussex, and the new Lord Treasurer,
Sir Henry Sidney, were forced to lead many an expedition
to the relief of those garrisons, and the dispersion of
their assailants. It was not in Irish human nature to
submit to the constant pressure of a foreign power without
seizing every possible opportunity for its expulsion.

The new principle of primogeniture introduced at the
commutation of chieftainries into earldoms was productive
in this reign of much commotion and bloodshed. The seniors
of the O'Briens resisted its establishment in Thomond,
on the death of the first Earl; Calvagh O'Donnell took
arms against his father, to defeat its introduction into
Tyrconnell; John the Proud, as we have seen in the reign
of Edward, had been one of its earliest opponents in
Ulster. Being accused in the last year of Queen Mary of
procuring the death of his illegitimate brother, the
Baron of Dungannon, in order to remove him from his path,
he was summoned to account for those circumstances before
Sir Henry Sidney, then acting as Lord Justice. His plea
has been preserved to us, and no doubt represents the
prevailing opinion of the Gaelic-speaking population
towards the new system. He answered, "that the surrender
which his father had made to Henry VIII., and the
restoration which Henry made to his father again were of
no force; inasmuch as his father had no right to the
lands which he surrendered to the King, except during
his own life; that he (John) himself was the O'Neil by
the law of Tanistry, and by popular election; and that
he assumed no superiority over the chieftains of the
North except what belonged to his ancestors." To these
views he adhered to the last, accepting no English honours,
though quite willing to live at peace with English
sovereigns. When the title of Earl of Tyrone was revived,
it was in favour of the son of the Baron, the celebrated
Hugh O'Neil, the ally of Spain, and the most formidable
antagonist of Queen Elizabeth.

In the Irish Parliament already referred to (3rd and 4th
Philip and Mary) an Act was passed declaring it a felony
to introduce armed Scotchmen into Ireland, or to intermarry
with them without a license under the great seal. This
statute was directed against those multitudes of Islesmen
and Highlanders who annually crossed the narrow strait
which separates Antrim from Argyle to harass the English
garrisons alongshore, or to enlist as auxiliaries in
Irish quarrels. In 1556, under one of their principal
leaders, James, son of Conal, they laid siege to
Carrickfergus and occupied Lord Sussex some six weeks in
the glens of Antrim. Their leader finally entered into
conditions, the nature of which may be inferred from the
fact that he received the honour of knighthood on their
acceptance. John O'Neil had usually in his service a
number of these mercenary troops, from among whom he
selected sixty body-guards, the same number supplied by
his own clan. In his first attempt to subject Tyrconnell
to his supremacy in 1557, his camp near Raphoe was
surprised at night by Calvagh O'Donnell, and his native
and foreign guards were put to the sword, while he himself
barely escaped by swimming the Mourne and the Finn.
O'Donnell had frequently employed a similar force, in
his own defence; and we read of the Lord of Clanrickarde
driving back a host of them engaged in the service of
his rivals, from the banks of the Moy, in 1558.

Although the memory of Queen Mary has been held up to
execration during three centuries as a bloody-minded and
malignant persecutor of all who differed from her in
religion, it is certain that in Ireland, where, if
anywhere, the Protestant. minority might have been
extinguished by such severities as are imputed to her,
no persecution for conscience' sake took place. Married
Bishops were deprived, and married priests were silenced,
but beyond this no coercion was employed. It has been
said there was not time to bring the machinery to bear;
but surely if there was time to do so in England, within
the space of five years, there was tune in Ireland also.
The consoling truth--honourable to human nature and to
Christian charity, is--that many families out of England,
apprehending danger in their own country, sought and
found a refuge from their fears in the western island.
The families of Agar, Ellis, and Harvey, are descended
from emigrants, who were accompanied from Cheshire by a
clergyman of their own choice, whose ministrations they
freely enjoyed during the remainder of this reign at
Dublin. The story about Dr. Cole having been despatched
to Ireland with a commission to punish heretics, and,
losing it on the way, is unworthy of serious notice. If
there had been any such determination formed there was
ample time to put it into execution between 1553 and 1558.



The daughter of Anna Boleyn was promptly proclaimed Queen
the same day on which Mary died--the 17th of November,
1558. Elizabeth was then in her 26th year, proud of her
beauty, and confident in her abilities. Her great capacity
had been cultivated by the best masters of the age, and
the best of all ages, early adversity. Her vices were
hereditary in her blood, but her genius for government
so far surpassed any of her immediate predecessors as to
throw her vices into the shade. During the forty-four
years in which she wielded the English sceptre, many of
the most stirring occurrences of our history took place;
it could hardly have fallen out otherwise, under a
sovereign of so much vigour, having the command of such
immense resources.

On the news of Mary's death reaching Ireland, the Lord
Deputy Sussex returned to England, and Sir Henry Sidney,
the Treasurer, was appointed his successor _ad interim_.
As in England, so in Ireland, though for somewhat different
reasons, the first months of the new reign were marked
by a conciliating and temporizing policy. Elizabeth, who
had not assumed the title of "Head of the Church,"
continued to hear Mass for several months after her
accession. At her coronation she had a High Mass sung,
accompanied, it is true, by a Calvinistic sermon. Before
proceeding with the work of "reformation," inaugurated
by her father, and arrested by her sister, she proceeded
cautiously to establish herself, and her Irish deputy
followed in the same careful line of conduct. Having
first made a menacing demonstration against John the
Proud, he entered into friendly correspondence with him,
and finally ended the campaign by standing godfather to
one of his children. This relation of gossip among the
old Irish was no mere matter of ceremony, but involved
obligations lasting as life, and sacred as the ties of
kindred blood. By seeking such a sponsor, O'Neil placed
himself in Sidney's power, rather than Sidney in his,
since the two men must have felt very differently bound
by the connection into which they had entered. As an
evidence of the Imperial policy of the moment, the incident
is instructive.

Bound the personal history of this splendid, but by no
means stainless Ulster Prince, the events of the first
nine years of Elizabeth's reign over Ireland naturally
group themselves. Whether at her Majesty's council-board,
or among the Scottish islands, or in hall or hut at home,
the attention of all manner of men interested in Ireland
was fixed upon the movements of John the Proud. In tracing
his career, we therefore naturally gather all, or nearly
all, the threads of the national story, during the first
ten years of Queen Mary's successor.

In the second year of Elizabeth, Lord Deputy Sussex, who
returned fully possessed of her Majesty's views, summoned
the Parliament to meet in Dublin on the 12th day of
January, 1560. It is to be observed, however, that though
the union of the crowns was now of twenty years' standing,
the writs were not issued to the nation at large, but
only to the ten counties of Dublin, Meath, Louth,
West-Meath, Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford,
and Tipperary, with their boroughs. The published
instructions of Lord Sussex were "to make such statutes
(concerning religion) as were made in England, _mutatis
mutandis_." As a preparation for the legislature, St.
Patrick's Cathedral and Christ Church were purified by
paint; the niches of the Saints were for the second time
emptied of their images; texts of Scripture were blazoned
upon the walls, and the Litany was chanted in English.
After these preparatory demonstrations, the Deputy opened
the new Parliament, which sat for one short but busy
month. The Acts of Mary's Parliament, re-establishing
ecclesiastical relations with Rome, were the first thing
repealed; then so much of the Act 33, Henry VIII., as
related to the succession, was revived; all ecclesiastical
jurisdiction was next declared vested in the Crown, and
all "judges, justices, mayors, and temporal officers were
declared bound to take tie oath of supremacy;" the penalty
attached to the refusal of the oath, by this statute,
being "forfeiture of office and promotion during life."
Proceeding rapidly in the same direction, it was declared
that commissioners in ecclesiastical causes should adjudge
nothing as heresy which was not expressly so condemned
by the Canonical Scriptures, the received General Councils,
or by Parliament. The penalty of _praemunire_ was declared
in force, and, to crown the work, the celebrated "Act of
Uniformity" was passed. This was followed by other statutes
for the restoration of first fruits and twentieths, and
for the appointment of Bishops by the royal prerogative,
or _conge d'elire_--elections by the chapter being declared
mere "shadows of election, and derogatory to the
prerogative." Such was, in brief, the legislation of that
famous Parliament of ten counties--the often quoted
statutes of the "2nd of Elizabeth." In the Act of
Uniformity, the best known of all its statutes, there
was this curious saving clause inserted: that whenever
the "priest or common minister" could not speak English,
he might still continue "to celebrate the service in the
Latin tongue." Such other observances were to be had as
were prescribed by the 2nd Edward VI., until her Majesty
should "publish further ceremonies or rites." We have no
history of the debates of this Parliament of a month,
but there is ample reason to believe that some of these
statutes were resisted throughout by a majority of the
Upper House, still chiefly composed of Catholic Peers;
that the clause saving the Latin ritual was inserted as
a compromise with this opposition; that some of the other
Acts were passed by stealth in the absence of many members,
and that the Lord Deputy gave his solemn pledge the
statute of Uniformity should be enforced, if passed. So
severe was the struggle, and so little satisfied was
Sussex with his success, that he hastily dissolved the
Houses and went over personally to England to represent
the state of feeling he had encountered. Finally, it is
remarkable that no other Parliament was called in Ireland
till nine years afterwards--a convincing proof of how
unmanageable that body, even constituted as it was, had
shown itself to be in matters affecting religion.

The non-invitation of the Irish chiefs to this Parliament,
contrary to the precedent set in Mary's reign and in
1541, the laws enacted, and the commotion they excited
in the minds of the clergy, were circumstances which
could not fail to attract the attention of John O'Neil.
Even if insensible to what transpired at Dublin, the
indefatigable Sussex-one of the ablest of Elizabeth's
able Court-did not suffer him long to misunderstand his
relations to the new Queen. He might be Sidney's gossip,
but he was not the less Elizabeth's enemy. He had been
proclaimed "O'Neil" on the rath of Tullahoge, and had
reigned at Dungannon, adjudging life and death. It was
clear that two such jurisdictions as the Celtic and the
Norman kingship could not stand long on the same soil,
and the Ulster Prince soon perceived that he must establish
his authority, by arms, or perish with it. We must also
read all Irish events of the time of Elizabeth by the
light of foreign politics; during the long reign of that
sovereign, England was never wholly free from fears of
invasion, and many movements which now seem inexplicable
will be readily understood when we recollect that they
took place under the menaces of foreign powers.

The O'Neils had anciently exercised a high-handed
superiority over all Ulster, and John the Proud was not
the man to let his claim lie idle in any district of that
wide-spread Province. But authority which has fallen
into decay must be asserted only at a propitious time,
and with the utmost tact; and here it was that Elizabeth's
statesmen found their most effective means of attacking
O'Neil. O'Donnell, who was his father-in-law, was studiously
conciliated; his second wife, a lady of the Argyle family,
received costly presents from the Queen; O'Reilly was
created Earl of Breffni, and encouraged to resist the
superiority to which the house of Dungannon laid claim.
The natural consequences followed; John the Proud swept
like a storm over the fertile hills of Cavan, and compelled
the new-made Earl to deliver him tribute and hostages.
O'Donnell, attended only by a few of his household, was
seized in a religious house upon Lough Swilly, and
subjected to every indignity which an insolent enemy
could devise. His Countess, already alluded to, supposed
to have been privy to this surprise of her husband, became
the mistress of his captor and jailer, to whom she bore
several children. What deepens the horror of this odious
domestic tragedy is the fact that the wife of O'Neil,
the daughter of O'Donnell, thus supplanted by her shameless
stepmother, under her own roof, died soon afterwards of
"horror, loathing, grief, and deep anguish," at the
spectacle afforded by the private life of O'Neil, and
the severities inflicted upon her wretched father. All
the patriotic designs, and all the shining abilities of
John the Proud, cannot abate a jot of our detestation of
such a private life; though slandered in other respects
as he was, by hostile pens, no evidence has been adduced
to clear his memory of these indelible stains; nor after
becoming acquainted with their existence can we follow
his after career with that heartfelt sympathy with which
the lives of purer patriots must always inspire us.

The pledge given by Sussex, that the penal legislation
of 1560 should lie a dead letter, was not long observed.
In May of the year following its enactment, a commission
was appointed to enforce the 2nd Elizabeth, in West-Meath;
and in 1562 a similar commission was appointed for Meath
and Armagh. By these commissioners Dr. William Walsh,
Catholic Bishop of Meath, was arraigned and imprisoned
for preaching against the new liturgy; a Prelate who
afterwards died an exile in Spain. The primatial see was
for the moment vacant, Archbishop Dowdal having died at
London three months before Queen Mary-on the Feast of
the Assumption, 1558. Terence, Dean of Armagh, who acted
as administrator, convened a Synod of the English-speaking
clergy of the Province in July, 1559, at Drogheda, but
as this dignitary followed in the steps of his faithful
predecessors, his deanery was conferred upon Dr. Adam
Loftus, Chaplain of the Lord Lieutenant; two years
subsequently the dignity of Archbishop of Armagh was
conferred upon the same person. Dr. Loftus, a native of
Yorkshire, had found favour in the eyes of the Queen at
a public exhibition at Cambridge University; he was but
28 years old, according to Sir James Ware, when consecrated
Primate-but Dr. Mant thinks he must have attained at
least the canonical age of 30. During the whole of this
reign he continued to reside at Dublin, which see was
early placed under his jurisdiction in lieu of the
inaccessible Armagh. For forty years he continued one of
the ruling spirits at Dublin, whether acting as Lord
Chancellor, Lord Justice, Privy Councillor, or First
Provost of Trinity College. He was a pluralist in Church
and State, insatiable of money and honours; if he did
not greatly assist in establishing his religion, he was
eminently successful in enriching his family.

Having subdued every hostile neighbour and openly assumed
the high prerogative of Prince of Ulster, John the Proud
looked around him for allies in the greater struggle
which he foresaw could not be long postponed. Calvagh
O'Donnell was yielded up on receiving a munificent ransom,
but his infamous wife remained with her paramour. A
negotiation was set on foot with the chiefs of the Highland
and Island Scots, large numbers of whom entered into
O'Neil's service. Emissaries were despatched to the French
Court, where they found a favourable reception, as
Elizabeth was known to be in league with the King of
Navarre and the Huguenot leaders against Francis II. The
unexpected death of the King at the close of 1560; the
return of his youthful widow, Queen Mary, to Scotland;
the vigorous regency of Catherine de Medicis during the
minority of her second son; the ill-success of Elizabeth's
arms during the campaigns of 1561-2-3, followed by the
humiliating peace of April, 1564--these events are all
to be borne in memory when considering the extraordinary
relations which were maintained during the same years by
the proud Prince of Ulster, with the still prouder Queen
of England. The apparently contradictory tactics pursued
by the Lord Deputy Sussex, between his return to Dublin
in the spring of 1561, and his final recall in 1564, when
read by the light of events which transpired at Paris,
London, and Edinburgh, become easily intelligible. In
the spring of the first mentioned year, it was thought
possible to intimidate O'Neil, so Lord Sussex, with the
Earl of Ormond as second in command, marched northwards,
entered Armagh, and began to fortify the city, with a
view to placing in it a powerful garrison. O'Neil, to
remove the seat of hostilities, made an irruption into
the plain of Meath, and menaced Dublin. The utmost
consternation prevailed at his approach, and the Deputy,
while continuing the fortification of Armagh, despatched
the main body of his troops to press on the rear of the
aggressor. By a rapid countermarch, O'Neil came up with
this force, laden with spoils, in Louth, and after an
obstinate engagement routed them with immense loss. On
receipt of this intelligence, Sussex promptly abandoned
Armagh, and returned to Dublin, while O'Neil erected his
standard, as far South as Drogheda, within twenty miles
of the capital. So critical at this moment was the aspect
of affairs, that all the energies of the English interest
were taxed to the utmost. In the autumn of the year,
Sussex marched again from Dublin northward, having at
his side the five powerful Earls of Kildare, Ormond,
Desmond, Thomond, and Clanrickarde--whose mutual feuds
had been healed or dissembled for the day. O'Neil prudently
fell back before this powerful expedition, which found
its way to the shores of Lough Foyle, without bringing
him to an engagement, and without any military advantage.
As the shortest way of getting rid of such an enemy, the
Lord Deputy, though one of the wisest and most justly
celebrated of Elizabeth's Counsellors, did not hesitate
to communicate to his royal mistress the project of hiring
an assassin, named Nele Gray, to take off the Prince of
Ulster, but the plot, though carefully elaborated,
miscarried. Foreign news, which probably reached him
only on reaching the Foyle, led to a sudden change of
tactics on the part of Sussex, and the young Lord
Kildare--O'Neil's cousin-germain, was employed to negotiate
a peace with the enemy they had set out to demolish.

This Lord Kildare was Gerald, the eleventh Earl, the same
whom we have spoken of as a fugitive lad, in the last
years of Henry VIII., and as restored to his estates and
rank by Queen Mary. Although largely indebted to his
Catholicity for the protection he had received while
abroad from Francis I., Charles V., the Duke of Tuscany
and the Roman See--especially the Cardinals Pole and
Farnese--and still more indebted to the late Catholic
Queen for the restoration of his family honours, this
finished courtier, now in the very midsummer of life,
one of the handsomest and most accomplished persons of
his time, did not hesitate to conform himself, at least
outwardly, to the religion of the State. Shortly before
the campaign of which we have spoken, he had been suspected
of treasonable designs, but had pleaded his cause
successfully with the Queen in person. From Lough Foyle,
accompanied by the Lord Slane, the Viscount Baltinglass,
and a suitable guard, Lord Kildare set out for John
O'Neil's camp, where a truce was concluded between the
parties, Lord Sussex undertaking to withdraw his wardens
from Armagh, and O'Neil engaging himself to live in peace
with her Majesty, and to serve "when necessary against
her enemies." The cousins also agreed personally to visit
the English Court the following year, and accordingly in
January ensuing they went to England, from which they
returned home in the latter end of May.

The reception of John the Proud, at the Court of Elizabeth,
was flattering in the extreme. The courtiers stared and
smiled at his bareheaded body-guard, with their crocus-dyed
vests, short jackets, and shaggy cloaks. But the
broad-bladed battle-axe, and the sinewy arm which wielded
it, inspired admiration for all the uncouth costume. The
haughty indifference with which the Prince of Ulster
treated every one about the Court, except the Queen, gave
a keener edge to the satirical comments which were so
freely indulged in at the expense of his style of dress.
The wits proclaimed him "O'Neil the Great, cousin to
Saint Patrick, friend to the Queen of England, and enemy
to all the world besides!" O'Neil was well pleased with
his reception by Elizabeth. When taxed upon his return
with having made peace with her Majesty, he answered--"Yes,
in her own bed-chamber." There were, indeed, many points
in common in both their characters.

Her Majesty, by letters patent dated at Windsor, on the
15th of January, 1563, recognized in John the Proud "the
name and title of O'Neil, with the like authority,
jurisdiction, and pre-eminence, as any of his ancestors."
And O'Neil, by articles, dated at Benburb, the 18th of
November of the same year, reciting the letters patent
aforesaid, bound himself and his suffragans to behave as
"the Queen's good and faithful subjects against all
persons whatever." Thus, so far as an English alliance
could guarantee it, was the supremacy of this daring
chief guaranteed in Ulster from the Boyne to the North Sea.

In performing his part of the engagements thus entered
into, O'Neil is placed in a less invidious light by
English writers than formerly. They now describe him as
scrupulously faithful to his word; as charitable to the
poor, always carving and sending meat from his own table
to the beggar at the gate before eating himself. Of the
sincerity with which he carried out the expulsion of the
Islesmen and Highlanders from Ulster, the result afforded
the most conclusive evidence. It is true he had himself
invited those bands into the Province to aid him against
the very power with which he was now at peace, and,
therefore, they might in their view allege duplicity and
desertion against him. Yet enlisted as they usually were
but for a single campaign, O'Neil expected them to depart
as readily as they had come. But in this expectation he
was disappointed. Their leaders, Angus, James, and Sorley
McDonald, refused to recognize the new relations which
had arisen, and O'Neil was, therefore, compelled to resort
to force. He defeated the Scottish troops at Glenfesk,
near Ballycastle, in 1564, in an action wherein Angus
McDonald was slain, James died of his wounds, and Sorley
was carried prisoner to Benburb. An English auxiliary
force, under Colonel Randolph, sent round by sea, under
pretence of co-operating against the Scots, took possession
of Derry and began to fortify it. But their leader was
slain in a skirmish with a party of O'Neil's people who
disliked the fortress, and whether by accident or otherwise
their magazine exploded, killing a great part of the
garrison and destroying their works. The remnant took to
their shipping and returned to Dublin.

In the years 1565, '6 and '7, the internal dissensions
of both Scotland and France, and the perturbations in
the Netherlands giving full occupation to her foreign
foes, Elizabeth had an interval of leisure to attend to
this dangerous ally in Ulster. A second unsuccessful
attempt on his life, by an assassin named Smith, was
traced to the Lord Deputy, and a formal commission issued
by the Queen to investigate the case. The result we know
only by the event; Sussex was recalled, and Sir Henry
Sidney substituted in his place! Death had lately made
way in Tyrconnell and Fermanagh for new chiefs, and these
leaders, more vigorous than their predecessors, were
resolved to shake off the recently imposed and sternly
exercised supremacy of Benburb. With these chiefs, Sidney,
at the head of a veteran armament, cordially co-operated,
and O'Neil's territory was now attacked simultaneously
at three different points--in the year 1566. No considerable
success was, however, obtained over him till the following
year, when, at the very opening of the campaign, the
brave O'Donnell arrested his march along the strand of
the Lough Swilly, and the tide rising impetuously, as it
does on that coast, on the rear of the men of Tyrone,
struck them with terror, and completed their defeat.
From 1,500 to 3,000 men perished by the sword or by the
tide; John the Proud fled alone, along the river Swilly,
and narrowly escaped by the fords of rivers and by solitary
ways to his Castle on Lough Neagh. The Annalists of
Donegal, who were old enough to have conversed with
survivors of the battle, say that his mind became deranged
by this sudden fall from the summit of prosperity to the
depths of defeat. His next step would seem to establish
the fact, for he at once despatched Sorley McDonald, the
survivor of the battle of Glenfesk, to recruit a new
auxiliary force for him amongst the Islesmen, whom he
had so mortally offended. Then, abandoning his fortress
upon the Blackwater, he set out with 50 guards, his
secretary, and his mistress, the wife of the late O'Donnell,
to meet these expected allies whom he had so fiercely
driven off but two short years before. At Cushendun, on
the Antrim coast, they met with all apparent cordiality,
but an English agent, Captain Piers, or Pierce, seized
an opportunity during the carouse which ensued to recall
the bitter memories of Glenfesk. A dispute and a quarrel
ensued; O'Neil fell covered with wounds, amid the exulting
shouts of the avenging Islesmen. His gory head was
presented to Captain Piers, who hastened with it to
Dublin, where he received a reward of a thousand marks
for his success. High spiked upon the towers of the
Castle, that proud head remained and rotted; the body,
wrapped in a Kerns saffron shirt, was interred where he
fell, a spot familiar to all the inhabitants of the Antrim
glens as "the grave of Shane O'Neil." And so may be said to
close the first decade of Elizabeth's reign over Ireland!

End of Volume 1 of 2

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