An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800
by Mary Frances Cusack
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[291] Grounds.—De Maistre and Fenelon both agree in grounding this power on constitutional right; but the former also admitted a divine right.—De Maistre, Du Pape, lib. ii. p. 387.

[292] Grant.—See M. Gosselin's Power of the Popes during the Middle Ages, for further information on this subject.

[293] Writer.—Ireland, Historical and Statistical.

[294] Bull.—There can be no reasonable doubt of the authenticity of this document. Baronius published it from the Codex Vaticanus; John XXII. has annexed it to his brief addresed to Edward II.; and John of Salisbury states distinctly, in his Metalogicus, that he obtained this Bull from Adrian. He grounds the right of donation on the supposed gift of the island by Constantine. As the question is one of interest and importance, we subjoin the original: "Ad preces meas illustri Regi Anglorum Henrico II. concessit (Adrianus) et dedit Hiberniam jure haereditario possidendam, sicut literae ipsius testantur in hodiernum diem. Nam omnes insulae de jure antiquo ex donatione Constantini, qui eam fundavit et dotavit, dicuntur ad Romanam Ecclesiam pertinere."—Metalogicus, i. 4.

[295] Friends.—Hib. Expug. lib. ii. c. 38.

[296] Hugh de Lacy.—In a charter executed at Waterford, Henry had styled this nobleman "Bailli," a Norman term for a representative of royalty. The territory bestowed on him covered 800,000 acres. This was something like wholesale plunder.

[297] Building.—This was the Danish fortress of Dublin, which occupied the greater part of the hill on which the present Castle of Dublin stands. See note, Four Masters, vol. iii. p. 5. The Annals say this was a "spectacle of intense pity to the Irish." It certainly could not have tended to increase their devotion to English rule.

[298] Waterford.—The English and Irish accounts of this affair differ widely. The Annals of Innisfallen make the number of slain to be only seven hundred. MacGeoghegan agrees with the Four Masters.

[299] Coat-of-mail.—Costly mantles were then fashionable. Strutt informs us that Henry I. had a mantle of fine cloth, lined with black sable, which cost L100 of the money of the time—about L1,500 of our money. Fairholt gives an illustration of the armour of the time (History of Costume, p. 74). It was either tegulated or formed of chains in rings. The nasal appendage to the helmet was soon after discarded, probably from the inconvenient hold it afforded the enemy of the wearer in battle. Face-guards were invented soon after.

[300] Property.—Maurice FitzGerald died at Wexford in 1179. He is the common ancestor of the Earls of Desmond and Kildare, the Knights of Glynn, of Kerry, and of all the Irish Geraldines.

[301] Letter.—"To Raymond, her most loving lord and husband, his own Basilia wishes health as to herself. Know you, my dear lord, that the great tooth in my jaw, which was wont to ache so much, is now fallen out; wherefore, if you have any love or regard for me, or of yourself, you will delay not to hasten hither with all speed."—Gilbert's Viceroys, p. 40. It is said that this letter was read for Raymond by a cleric of his train, so it is presumable that reading and writing were not made a part of his education.

[302] Terms.—Hib. Expug. lib. i. cap. 27.

[303] Buried.—The early history of this church is involved in much obscurity. It probably owes its origin to the Danes. Cambrensis gives some interesting details about it, and mentions several miraculous occurrences which caused it to be held in great veneration in his days. He specially mentions the case of a young man in the train of Raymond le Gros, who had robbed him of his greaves, and who had taken a false oath before the cross of that church to clear himself. After a short absence in England he was compelled to return and confess his guilt, "as he felt the weight of the cross continually oppressing him." Strongbow's effigy was broken in 1562, but it was repaired in 1570, by Sir Henry Sidney. Until the middle of the last century, the Earl's tomb was a regularly appointed place for the payment of bonds, rents, and bills of exchange. A recumbent statue by his side is supposed to represent his son, whom he is said to have cut in two with his sword, for cowardice in flying from an engagement. A writer of the seventeenth century, however, corrects this error, and says that "Strongbow did no more than run his son through the belly, as appears by the monument and the chronicle."—Gilbert's Dublin, vol. i. p. 113.


FitzAldelm appointed Viceroy—De Courcy in Ulster—Arrival of Cardinal Vivian—Henry II. confers the Title of King of Ireland on his son John—Irish Bishops at the Council of Lateran—Death of St. Laurence O'Toole—Henry's Rapacity—John Comyn appointed Archbishop of Dublin—John's Visit to Ireland—Insolence of his Courtiers—De Lacy's Death—Death of Henry II.—Accession of Richard I.—An English Archbishop tries to obtain Justice for Ireland—John succeeds to the Crown—Cathal Crovderg—Massacres in Connaught—De Courcy's Disgrace and Downfall—His Death.

[A.D. 1176-1201.]

News of the Earl's death soon reached Henry II., who was then holding his court at Valognes, in Normandy. He at once nominated his Seneschal, FitzAldelm de Burgo, Viceroy of Ireland, A.D. 1176. The new governor was accompanied by John de Courcy, Robert FitzEstevene, and Miles de Cogan. Raymond had assumed the reins of government after the death of Strongbow, but Henry appears always to have regarded him with jealousy, and gladly availed himself of every opportunity of lessening the power of one who stood so high in favour with the army. The Viceroy was received at Wexford by Raymond, who prudently made a merit of necessity, and resigned his charge. It is said that FitzAldelm was much struck by his retinue and numerous attendants, all of whom belonged to the same family; and that he then and there vowed to effect their ruin. From this moment is dated the distrust so frequently manifested by the English Government towards the powerful and popular Geraldines.

The new Viceroy was not a favourite with the Anglo-Norman colonists. He was openly accused of partiality to the Irish, because he attempted to demand justice for them. It is not known whether this policy was the result of his own judgment, or a compliance with the wishes of his royal master. His conciliatory conduct, whatever may have been its motive, was unhappily counteracted by the violence of De Courcy. This nobleman asserted that he had obtained a grant of Ulster from Henry II., on what grounds it would be indeed difficult to ascertain. He proceeded to make good his claim; and, in defiance of the Viceroy's prohibition, set out for the north, with a small army of chosen knights and soldiers. His friend, Sir Almaric Tristram de Saint Lawrence, was of the number. He was De Courcy's brother-in-law, and they had made vows of eternal friendship in the famous Cathedral of Rouen. De Courcy is described as a man of extraordinary physical strength, of large proportions, shamefully penurious, rashly impetuous, and, despite a fair share in the vices of the age, full of reverence for the clergy, at least if they belonged to his own race. Cambrensis gives a glowing description of his valour, and says that "any one who had seen Jean de Courci wield his sword, lopping off heads and arms, might well have commended the might of this warrior."[304]

De Courcy arrived in Downpatrick in four days. The inhabitants were taken by surprise; and the sound of his bugles at daybreak was the first intimation they received of their danger. Cardinal Vivian, who had come as Legate from Alexander III., had but just arrived at the spot. He did his best to promote peace. But neither party would yield; and as the demands of the Norman knights were perfectly unreasonable, Vivian advised Dunlevy, the chieftain of Ulidia, to have recourse to arms. A sharp conflict ensued, in which the English gained the victory, principally through the personal bravery of their leader. This battle was fought about the beginning of February; another engagement took place on the 24th of June, in which the northerns were again defeated.[305]

Cardinal Vivian now proceeded to Dublin, where he held a synod. The principal enactment referred to the right of sanctuary. During the Anglo-Norman wars, the Irish had secured their provisions in the churches; and it is said that, in order to starve out the enemy, they even refused to sell at any price. It was now decreed that sanctuary might be violated to obtain food; but a fair price was to be paid for whatever was taken. It is to be feared these conditions were seldom complied with. The Abbey of St. Thomas the Martyr was founded in Dublin about this time, by FitzAldelm, at the command of Henry II., one of his many acts of reparation. The site was the place now called Thomas Court. The Viceroy endowed it with a carnucate of land, in the presence of the Legate and St. Laurence O'Toole. After the settlement of these affairs, Cardinal Vivian passed over to Chester, on his way to Scotland.

One of Roderic O'Connor's sons, Murrough, having rebelled against him, Miles de Cogan went to his assistance,—a direct and flagrant violation of the treaty of Windsor. At Roscommon the English were joined by the unnatural rebel, who guided them through the province. The King was in Iar-Connaught, and the allies burned and plundered without mercy, as they passed along to Trim. Here they remained three nights; but as the people had fled with their cattle and other moveable property into the fastnesses, they had not been able to procure any spoil on their march. Roderic soon appeared to give them battle; but they were defeated without considerable loss. Murrough was taken prisoner by his father, and his eyes were put out as a punishment for his rebellion, and to prevent a repetition of his treachery.

Another violation of the treaty of Windsor was also perpetrated this year, A.D. 1177. Henry II. summoned a council of his prelates and barons at Oxford, and solemnly conferred the title of King of Ireland on his youngest son, John, then a mere child. A new grant of Meath to Hugh de Lacy was made immediately after, in the joint names of Henry II. and John. Desmond was also granted to Miles de Cogan, with the exception of the city of Cork, which the King reserved to himself. Thomond was offered to two English nobles, who declined the tempting but dangerous favour. It was then presented to Philip de Bresosa; but though the knight was no coward, he fled precipitately, when he discovered, on coming in sight of Limerick, that the inhabitants had set it on fire, so determined was their resistance to foreign rule. The territory of Waterford was granted to Roger le Poer; but, as usual, the city was reserved for the royal benefit. In fact, Sir John Davies well observed, that "all Ireland was by Henry II. cantonized among ten of the English nation; and though they did not gain possession of one-third of the kingdom, yet in title they were owners and lords of all, as nothing was left to be granted to the natives." He might have said with greater truth, that the natives were deprived of everything, as far as it was possible to do so, by those who had not the slightest right or title to their lands.

Meanwhile De Courcy was plundering the northern provinces. His wife, Affreca, was a daughter of Godfrey, King of Man, so that he could secure assistance by sea as well as by land. But the tide of fortune was not always in his favour. After he had plundered in Louth, he was attacked, in the vale of Newry[306] river, by O'Carroll of Oriel and Dunlevy of Ulidia. On this occasion he lost four hundred men, many of whom were drowned. Soon after he suffered another defeat in Antrim, from O'Flynn. The Four Masters say he fled to Dublin; Dr. O'Donovan thinks that we should read Downpatrick. The latter part of the name cannot be correctly ascertained, as the paper is worn away.

The Irish were, as usual, engaged in domestic dissensions, and the English acted as allies on whichever side promised to be most advantageous to themselves. The Annals record a great "windstorm" during this year, which prostrated oaks, especially at Derry-Columcille, which was famous for its forest. They also record the drying up of the river Galliv (Galway), "for a period of a natural day. All the articles that had been lost in it from the remotest times, as well as its fish, were collected by the inhabitants of the fortress, and by the people of the country in general."[307]

In 1179 Henry gave the office of Viceroy to De Lacy, and recalled FitzAldelm. The new governor employed himself actively in erecting castles and oppressing the unfortunate Irish. Cambrensis observes, that he "amply enriched himself and his followers by oppressing others with a strong hand." Yet he seems to have had some degree of popularity, even with the native Irish, for he married a daughter of Roderic O'Connor as his second wife. This alliance, for which he had not asked permission, and his popularity, excited the jealousy of the English King, who deprived him of his office. But he was soon reinstated, although the Bishop of Shrewsbury, with the name of counsellor, was set as a spy on his actions. These events occurred A.D. 1181. De Lacy's old companion, Hervey de Montmarisco, became a monk at Canterbury, after founding the Cistercian Monastery of Dunbrody, in the county of Wexford. He died in this house, in his seventy-fifth year.

In 1179 several Irish bishops were summoned by Alexander III. to attend the third General Council of Lateran. These prelates were, St. Laurence of Dublin, O'Duffy of Tuam, O'Brien of Killaloe, Felix of Lismore, Augustine of Waterford, and Brictius of Limerick. Usher says[308] several other bishops were summoned; it is probable they were unable to leave the country, and hence their names have not been given. The real state of the Irish Church was then made known to the Holy See; no living man could have described it more accurately and truthfully than the sainted prelate who had sacrificed himself for so many years for its good. Even as the bishops passed through England, the royal jealousy sought to fetter them with new restrictions; and they were obliged to take an oath that they would not sanction any infringements on Henry's prerogatives. St. Malachy was now appointed Legate by the Pope, with jurisdiction over the five suffragans, and the possessions attached to his see were confirmed to him. As the Bull was directed to Ireland, it would appear that he returned there; but his stay was brief, and the interval was occupied in endeavouring to repress the vices of the Anglo-Norman and Welsh clergy, many of whom were doing serious injury to the Irish Church by their immoral and dissolute lives.[309]

Henry now became jealous of the Archbishop, and perhaps was not overpleased at his efforts to reform these ecclesiastics. Roderic O'Connor had asked St. Laurence to undertake a mission on his behalf to the English court; but the King refused to listen to him, and forbid him to return to Ireland. After a few weeks' residence at the Monastery of Abingdon, in Berkshire, the saint set out for France. He fell ill on his journey, in a religious house at Eu, where his remains are still preserved. When on his deathbed, the monks asked him to make his will; but he exclaimed, "God knows that out of all my revenues I have not a single coin to bequeath." With the humility of true sanctity, he was heard frequently calling on God for mercy, and using the words of the Psalmist, so familiar to ecclesiastics, from their constant perusal of the Holy Scriptures. As he was near his end, he was heard exclaiming, in his own beautiful mother-tongue: "Foolish people, what will become of you? Who will relieve you? Who will heal you?" And well might his paternal heart ache for those who were soon to be left doubly orphans, and for the beloved nation whose sorrows he had so often striven to alleviate.

St. Laurence went to his eternal reward on the 14th of November, 1180. He died on the feria sexta at midnight.[310] His obsequies were celebrated with great pomp and solemnity, and attended by the Scotch Legate, Alexis, an immense concourse of clergy, and many knights and nobles. His remains were exposed for some days in the Church of Notre Dame, at Eu.

Henry immediately despatched his chaplain, Geoffrey de la Haye, to Ireland, not with a royal message of consolation for the national calamity, but to sequester the revenues of the archiepiscopal see of Dublin. He took care to possess himself of them for a year before he would consent to name a successor to the deceased prelate. St. Laurence had happily left no funds in store for the royal rapacity; the orphan and the destitute had been his bankers. During a year of famine he is said to have relieved five hundred persons daily; he also established an orphanage, where a number of poor children were clothed and educated. The Annals of the Four Masters say he suffered martyrdom in England. The mistake arose in consequence of an attempt having been made on his life there by a fanatic, which happily did not prove fatal.[311]

The Archbishop of Dublin became an important functionary from this period. Henry obtained the election of John Comyn to this dignity, at the Monastery of Evesham, in Worcester, and the King granted the archiepiscopal estates to him "in barony," by which tenure he and his successors in the see were constituted parliamentary barons, and entitled to sit in the councils, and hold court in their lordships and manors. Comyn, after his election by the clergy of Dublin, proceeded to Rome, where he was ordained priest, and subsequently to Veletri, where Pope Lucius III. consecrated him archbishop. He then came to Dublin, A.D. 1184, where preparations were making for the reception of Henry's son, John, who, it will be remembered, he had appointed King of Ireland when a mere child.

In 1183 the unfortunate Irish monarch, Roderic, had retired to the Abbey of Cong, and left such empty titles as he possessed to his son, Connor. De Lacy and De Courcy had occupied themselves alternately in plundering and destroying the religious houses which had so long existed, and in founding new monasteries with a portion of their ill-gotten gains. It would appear that De Lacy built so far on his popularity with the Anglo-Normans, as to have aspired to the sovereignty of Ireland,—an aspiration which his master soon discovered, and speedily punished. He was supplanted by Philip of Worcester, who excelled all his predecessors in rapacity and cruelty. Not satisfied with the miseries inflicted on Ulster by De Courcy, he levied contributions there by force of arms. One of his companions, Hugh Tyrrell, who "remained at Armagh, with his Englishmen, during six days and nights, in the middle of Lent," signalized himself by carrying off the property of the clergy of Armagh. Amongst other things, he possessed himself of a brewing-pan, which he was obliged to abandon on his way, he met so many calamities, which were naturally attributed to his sacrilegious conduct.[312]

John was now preparing for his visit to Ireland, and his singularly unfelicitous attempt at royalty. It would appear that the Prince wished to decline the honour and the expedition; for, as he was on the eve of his departure, Eraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, arrived in England, to enjoin the fulfilment of the King's vow to undertake a crusade to Palestine. As Henry had got out of his difficulties, he declined to fulfil his solemn engagement, and refused permission to his son, John, who threw himself at his father's feet, and implored leave to be his substitute. Eraclius then poured forth his indignation upon Henry, with all the energetic freedom of the age. He informed him that God would punish his impieties—that he was worse than any Saracen; and hinted that he might have inherited his wickedness from his grandmother, the Countess of Anjou, who was reported to be a witch, and of whom it was said that she had flown through the window during the most solemn part of Mass, though four squires attempted to hold her.

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

A retinue of profligate Normans completed the court, whom an English authority describes as "great quaffers, lourdens, proud, belly swains, fed with extortion and bribery." The Irish were looked upon by these worthies as a savage race, only created to be plundered and scoffed at. The Normans prided themselves on their style of dress, and, no doubt, the Irish costume surprised them. Common prudence, however, might have taught them, when the Leinster chieftains came to pay their respects to the young Prince, that they should not add insult to injury; for, not content with open ridicule, they proceeded to pull the beards of the chieftains, and to gibe their method of wearing their hair.

De Lacy has the credit of having done his utmost to render the Prince's visit a failure. But his efforts were not necessary. The insolence of the courtiers, and the folly of the youth himself, were quite sufficient to ruin more promising prospects. In addition to other outrages, the Irish had seen their few remaining estates bestowed on the new comers; and even the older Anglo-Norman and Welsh settlers were expelled to make room for the Prince's favourites—an instalment of the fatal policy which made them eventually "more Irish than the Irish." When the colony was on the verge of ruin, the young Prince returned to England. He threw the blame of his failure on Hugh de Lacy; but the Norman knight did not live long enough after to suffer from the accusation.[313] De Lacy was killed while inspecting a castle which he had just built on the site of St. Columbkille's Monastery at Durrow, in the Queen's county. He was accompanied by three Englishmen; as he was in the act of stooping, a youth of an ancient and noble family, named O'Meyey, gave him his deathblow, severed his head from his body, and then fled with such swiftness as to elude pursuit. It is said that he was instigated to perform this deed by Sumagh O'Caharnay (the Fox), with whom he now took refuge.

The Annals mention this as a "revenge of Colum-cille,"[314] they also say that "all Meath was full of his English castles, from the Shannon to the sea." Henry at once appointed his son, John, to the Irish Viceroyalty, but domestic troubles prevented his plans from being carried out. Archbishop Comyn held a synod in Dublin during this year, 1187; and on the 9th of June the relics of SS. Patrick, Columba, and Brigid were discovered, and solemnly entombed anew under the direction of Cardinal Vivian, who came to Ireland to perform this function. During the year 1188 the Irish continued their usual fatal and miserable dissensions; still they contrived to beat the common enemy, and O'Muldony drove De Courcy and his troops from Ballysadare. He was again attacked in crossing the Curlieu Mountains, and escaped to Leinster with considerable loss and difficulty.

In 1189 Henry II. died at Chinon, in Normandy. He expired launching anathemas against his sons, and especially against John, as he had just discovered that he had joined those who conspired against him. In his last moments he was stripped of his garments and jewels, and left naked and neglected.

Richard I., who succeeded to the throne, was too much occupied about foreign affairs to attend to his own kingdom. He was a brave soldier, and as such merits our respect; but he can scarcely be credited as a wise king. Irish affairs were committed to the care of John, who does not appear to have profited by his former experience. He appointed Hugh de Lacy Lord Justice, to the no small disgust of John de Courcy; but it was little matter to whom the government of that unfortunate country was confided. There were nice distinctions made about titles; for John, even when King of England, did not attempt to write himself King of Ireland.[315] But there were no nice distinctions about property; for the rule seemed to be, that whoever could get it should have it, and whoever could keep it should possess it.

In 1189 Roderic's son, Connor Moinmoy, fell a victim to a conspiracy of his own chieftains,—a just retribution for his rebellion against his father. He had, however, the reputation of being brave and generous. At his death Connaught was once more plunged in civil war, and after some delay and difficulty Roderic resumed the government.

In 1192 the brave King of Thomond again attacked the English invaders. But after his death, in 1194, the Anglo-Normans had little to apprehend from native valour. His obituary is thus recorded: "Donnell, son of Turlough O'Brien, King of Munster, a burning lamp in peace and war, and the brilliant star of the hospitality and valour of the Momonians, and of all Leth-Mogha, died." Several other "lamps" went out about the same time; one of these was Crunce O'Flynn, who had defeated De Courcy in 1178, and O'Carroll, Prince of Oriel, who had been hanged by the English the year before, after the very unnecessary cruelty of putting out his eyes.

The affairs of the English colony were not more prosperous. New Lords Justices followed each other in quick succession. One of these governors, Hamon de Valois, attempted to replenish his coffers from church property,—a proceeding which provoked the English Archbishop Comyn. As this ecclesiastic failed to obtain redress in Ireland, he proceeded to England with his complaints; but he soon learned that justice could not be expected for Ireland. The difference between the conduct of ecclesiastics, who have no family but the Church, and no interests but the interests of religion, is very observable in all history. While English and Norman soldiers were recklessly destroying church property and domestic habitations in the country they had invaded, we find, with few exceptions, that the ecclesiastic, of whatever nation, is the friend and father of the people, wherever his lot may be cast. The English Archbishop resented the wrongs of the Irish Church as personal injuries, and devoted himself to its advancement as a personal interest. We are indebted to Archbishop Comyn for building St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, as well as for his steady efforts to promote the welfare of the nation. After an appeal in person to King Richard and Prince John, he was placed in confinement in Normandy, and was only released by the interference of the Holy See; Innocent III., who had probably by this time discovered that the English monarchs were not exactly the persons to reform the Irish nation, having addressed a letter from Perugia to the Earl of Montague (Prince John), reprimanding him for detaining "his venerable brother, the Archbishop of Dublin," in exile, and requiring him to repair the injuries done by his Viceroy, Hamon de Valois, on the clergy of Leighlin. The said Hamon appears to have meddled with other property besides that belonging to the Church—a more unpardonable offence, it is to be feared, in the eyes of his master. On returning from office after two years viceroyalty, he was obliged to pay a thousand marks to obtain an acquittance from his accounts.[316]

John ascended the English throne in 1199. He appointed Meiller FitzHenri[317] Governor of Ireland. It has been conjectured that if John had not obtained the sovereignty, he and his descendants might have claimed the "Lordship of Ireland." There can be no doubt that he and they might have claimed it; but whether they could have held it is quite another consideration. It is generally worse than useless to speculate on what might have been. In this case, however, we may decide with positive certainty, that no such condition of things could have continued long. The English kings would have looked with jealousy even on the descendants of their ancestors, if they kept possession of the island; and the descendants would have become, as invariably happened, Hibernicis ipsis Hibernior, and therefore would have shared the fate of the "common enemy."

Meanwhile the O'Connors were fighting in Kerry. Cathal Carragh obtained the services of FitzAldelm, and expelled Cathal Crovderg. He, in his turn, sought the assistance of Hugh O'Neill, who had been distinguishing himself by his valour against De Courcy and the English. They marched into Connaught, but were obliged to retreat with great loss. The exiled Prince now sought English assistance, and easily prevailed on De Courcy and young De Lacy to help him. But misfortune still followed him. His army was again defeated; and as they fled to the peninsula of Rindown, on Lough Ree, they were so closely hemmed in, that no way of escape remained, except to cross the lake in boats. In attempting to do this a great number were drowned. The Annals of Kilronan and Clonmacnois enter these events under the year 1200; the Four Masters under the year 1199. The former state that "Cahall Carragh was taken deceitfully by the English of Meath," and imprisoned until he paid a ransom; and that De Courcy, "after slaying of his people," returned to Ulster.

Cathal Crovderg now obtained the assistance of the Lord Justice, who plundered Clonmacnois. He also purchased the services of FitzAldelm, and thus deprived his adversary of his best support. The English, like the mercenary troops of Switzerland and the Netherlands, appear to have changed sides with equal alacrity, when it suited their convenience; and so as they were well paid, it mattered little to them against whom they turned their arms. In 1201 Cathal Crovderg marched from Limerick to Roscommon, with his new ally and the sons of Donnell O'Brien and Florence MacCarthy. They took up their quarters at Boyle, and occupied themselves in wantonly desecrating the abbey. Meanwhile Cathal Carragh, King of Connaught, had assembled his forces, and came to give them battle. Some skirmishes ensued, in which he was slain, and thus the affair was ended. FitzAldelm, or De Burgo, as he is more generally called now, assisted by O'Flaherty of West Connaught, turned against Cathal when they arrived at Cong to spend the Easter. It would appear that the English were billeted on the Irish throughout the country; and when De Burgo demanded wages for them, the Connacians rushed upon them, and slew six hundred men. For once his rapacity was foiled, and he marched off to Munster with such of his soldiers as had escaped the massacre. Three years after he revenged himself by plundering the whole of Connaught, lay and ecclesiastical.

During this period Ulster was also desolated by civil war. Hugh O'Neill was deposed, and Connor O'Loughlin obtained rule; but the former was restored after a few years.

John de Courcy appears always to have been regarded with jealousy by the English court. His downfall was at hand, A.D. 1204; and to add to its bitterness, his old enemies, the De Lacys, were chosen to be the instruments of his disgrace. It is said that he had given mortal offence to John, by speaking openly of him as a usurper and the murderer of his nephew; but even had he not been guilty of this imprudence, the state he kept, and the large tract of country which he held, was cause enough for his ruin. He had established himself at Downpatrick, and was surrounded in almost regal state by a staff of officers, including his constable, seneschal, and chamberlain; he even coined money in his own name. Complaints of his exactions were carried to the King. The De Lacys accused him of disloyalty. In 1202 the then Viceroy, Hugh de Lacy, attempted to seize him treacherously, at a friendly meeting. He failed to accomplish this base design; but his brother, Walter, succeeded afterwards in a similar attempt, and De Courcy was kept in durance until the devastations which his followers committed in revenge obliged his enemies to release him.

In 1204 he defeated the Viceroy in a battle at Down. He was aided in this by the O'Neills, and by soldiers from Man and the Isles. It will be remembered that he could always claim assistance from the latter, in consequence of his connexion by marriage. But this did not avail him. He was summoned before the Council in Dublin, and some of his possessions were forfeited. Later in the same year (A.D. 1204) he received a safe conduct to proceed to the King. It is probable that he was confined in the Tower of London for some time; but it is now certain that he revisited Ireland in 1210, if not earlier, in the service of John, who granted him an annual pension.[318] It is supposed that he died about 1219; for in that year Henry III. ordered his widow, Affreca, to be paid her dower out of the lands which her late husband had possessed in Ireland.

Cambrensis states that De Courcy had no children; but the Barons of Kinsale claim to be descended from him; and even so late as 1821 they exercised the privilege of appearing covered before George IV.—a favour said to have been granted to De Courcy by King John, after his recall from Ireland, as a reward for his prowess. Dr. Smith states, in his History of Cork, that Miles de Courcy was a hostage for his father during the time when he was permitted to leave the Tower to fight the French champion. In a pedigree of the MacCarthys of Cooraun Lough, county Kerry, a daughter of Sir John de Courcy is mentioned. The Irish annalists, as may be supposed, were not slow to attribute his downfall to his crimes.

Another English settler died about this period, and received an equal share of reprobation; this was FitzAldelm, more commonly known as Mac William Burke (De Burgo), and the ancestor of the Burke family in Ireland. Cambrensis describes him as a man addicted to many vices. The Four Masters declare that "God and the saints took vengeance on him; for he died of a shameful disease." It could scarcely be expected that one who had treated the Irish with such unvarying cruelty, could obtain a better character, or a more pleasing obituary. Of his miserable end, without "shrive or unction," there appears to be no doubt.


[304] Warrior.—Hib. Expug. lib. ii. cap. 17.

[305] Defeated.—Giraldus gives a detailed account of these affairs.—Hib. Expug. lib. ii. cap. 17. He says the Irish forces under Dunlevy amounted to ten thousand warriors; but this statement cannot at all be credited. De Courcy took advantage of some old Irish prophecies to further his cause. They were attributed to St. Columbkille, and to the effect that a foreigner who would ride upon a white horse, and have little birds painted on his shield, should conquer the country. De Courcy did ride upon a white horse, and the birds were a part of his armorial bearings.

[306] Newry.—See an interesting note to the Annals (Four Masters), vol. iii. p. 40, which identifies the valley of Glenree with the vale of Newry. In an ancient map, the Newry river is called Owen Glenree fluvius.

[307] General.—This is mentioned also by O'Flaherty, who quotes from some other annals. See his account of Iar-Connaught, printed for the Archaeological Society.

[308] Says.—Sylloge, ep. 48.

[309] Lives.—We give authority for this statement, as it manifests how completely the Holy See was deceived in supposing that any reform was likely to be effected in Ireland by English interference: "Ita ut quodam tempore (quod dictu mirum est) centum et quadraginta presby. incontinentiae convictos Romani miserit absolvendos."—Surius, t. vi. St. Laurence had faculties for absolving these persons, but for some reason—probably as a greater punishment—he sent them to Rome. English writers at this period also complain of the relaxed state of ecclesiastical discipline in that country. How completely all such evils were eradicated by the faithful sons of the Church, and the exertions of ecclesiastical superiors, is manifest from the fact, that no such charges could be brought against even a single priest at the time of the so-called Reformation.

[310] Midnight.—"Itaque cum sextae feriae terminus advenisset, in confinio sabbati subsequentis Spiritum Sancti viri requies aeterna suscepit."—Vita S. Laurentii, cap. xxxiii. The saint's memory is still honoured at Eu. The church has been lately restored, and there is a little oratory on the hill near it to mark the spot where he exclaimed, Hoec est requies mea, as he approached the town where he knew he should die. Dr. Kelly (Cambrensis Eversus, vol. ii. p. 648) mentions in a note that the names of several Irishmen were inscribed there.

[311] Fatal.—Dr. O'Donovan gives a long and most interesting note on the genealogy of St. Laurence O'Toole, in which he shows that his father was a chieftain of an important territory in the county Kildare, and that he was not a Wicklow prince, as has been incorrectly asserted. The family removed there after the death of St. Laurence, when they were driven from their property by an English adventurer.

[312] Conduct.—This is mentioned even by Cox, who, Dr. O'Donovan observes, was always anxious to hide the faults of the English, and vilify the Irish. He calls Hugh Tyrrell "a man of ill report," and says he returned to Dublin "loaden both with curses and extortions."—Hib. Angl. p. 38, ad an. 1184.

[313] Accusation.—There can be no doubt that De Lacy had ambitious designs. See Cambrensis, Hib. Expug. lib. ii. cap. 20. Henry II. heard of his death with considerable satisfaction.

[314] Colum-cille.—Dr. O'Donovan remarks that a similar disaster befell Lord Norbury. He was also assassinated by a hand still unknown, after having erected a castle on the same site as that of De Lacy, and preventing the burial of the dead in the ancient cemetery of Durrow.

[315] King of Ireland.—During the reign of Richard all the public affairs of the Anglo-Norman colony were transacted in the name of "John, Lord of Ireland, Earl of Montague." Palgrave observes that John never claimed to be King of the Irish; like Edward, who wrote himself Lord of Scotland, and acknowledged Baliol to be King of the Scots.

[316] Accounts.—Gilbert's Viceroys, p. 58.

[317] FitzHenri.—His father was an illegitimate son of Henry I. When a mere youth, FitzHenri came to Ireland with the Geraldines, and obtained large possessions.

[318] Pension.—One hundred pounds per annum. Orders concerning it are still extant on the Close Rolls of England.—Rol. Lit. Clau. 1833, 144. It is curious, and should be carefully noted, how constantly proofs are appearing that the Irish bards and chroniclers, from the earliest to the latest period, were most careful as to the truth of their facts, though they may have sometimes coloured them highly. Dr. O'Donovan has devoted some pages in a note (Four Masters, vol. iii. p. 139) to the tales in the Book of Howth which record the exploits of De Courcy. He appears satisfied that they were "invented in the fifteenth or sixteenth century." Mr. Gilbert has ascertained that they were placed on record as early as 1360, in Pembridge's Annals. As they are merely accounts of personal valour, we do not reproduce them here. He also gives an extract from Hoveden's Annals, pars port, p. 823, which further supports the Irish account. Rapin gives the narrative as history. Indeed, there appears nothing very improbable about it. The Howth family were founded by Sir Almaric St. Lawrence, who married De Courcy's sister.


Quarrels of the English Barons—The Interdict—John crushes and starves an Archdeacon to Death—King John's Visit to Ireland—He starves the Wife and Son of Earl de Braose to Death—Henry de Londres—The Poet O'Daly—Obituaries of Good Men—Henry III.—Regulations about the Viceroy—The Scorch Villain—Scandalous Conduct of the Viceroys—Three Claimants for Connaught—Death of Hugh Crovderg—Felim O'Connor—Henry's Foreign Advisers—Plots against the Earl of Pembroke—He is wounded treacherously—His Pious Death—Misfortunes of the Early Settlers—De Marisco's Son is hanged for High Treason, and he dies miserably in Exile.

[A.D. 1201-1244.]

King John was now obliged to interfere between his English barons in Ireland, who appear to have been quite as much occupied with feuds among themselves as the native princes. In 1201 Philip of Worcester and William de Braose laid waste the greater part of Munster in their quarrels. John had sold the lands of the former and of Theobald Walter to the latter, for four thousand marks—Walter redeemed his property for five hundred marks; Philip obtained his at the point of the sword. De Braose had large property both in Normandy and in England. He had his chancellor, chancery, and seal, recognizances of all pleas, not even excepting those of the crown, with judgment of life and limb. His sons and daughters had married into powerful families. His wife, Matilda, was notable in domestic affairs, and a vigorous oppressor of the Welsh. A bloody war was waged about the same time between De Lacy, De Marisco, and the Lord Justice. Cathal Crovderg and O'Brien aided the latter in besieging Limerick, while some of the English fortified themselves in their castles and plundered indiscrimately.

In 1205 the Earldom of Ulster was granted to Hugh de Lacy. The grant is inscribed on the charter roll of the seventh year of King John, and is the earliest record now extant of the creation of an Anglo-Norman dignity in Ireland. England was placed under an interdict in 1207, in consequence of the violence and wickedness of its sovereign. He procured the election of John de Grey to the see of Canterbury, a royal favourite, and, if only for this reason, unworthy of the office. Another party who had a share in the election chose Reginald, the Sub-Prior of the monks of Canterbury. But when the choice was submitted to Pope Innocent III., he rejected both candidates, and fixed on an English Cardinal, Stephen Langton, who was at once elected, and received consecration from the Pope himself. John was highly indignant, as might be expected. He swore his favourite oath, "by God's teeth," that he would cut off the noses and pluck out the eyes of any priest who attempted to carry the Pope's decrees against him into England. But some of the bishops, true to their God and the Church, promulgated the interdict, and then fled to France to escape the royal vengeance. It was well for them they did so; for Geoffrey, Archdeacon of Norwich, was seized, and enveloped, by the royal order, in a sacerdotal vestment of massive lead, and thus thrown into prison, where he was starved to death beneath the crushing weight. We sometimes hear of the cruelties of the Inquisition, of the barbarity of the Irish, of the tyranny of priestcraft; but such cruelties, barbarities, and tyrannies, however highly painted, pale before the savage vengeance which English kings have exercised, on the slightest provocation, towards their unfortunate subjects. But we have not yet heard all the refinements of cruelty which this same monarch exercised. Soon after, John was excommunicated personally. When he found that Philip of France was prepared to seize his kingdom, and that his crimes had so alienated him from his own people that he could hope for little help from them, he cringed with the craven fear so usually found in cruel men, and made the most abject submission. In the interval between the proclamation of the interdict and the fulmination of the sentence of excommunication (A.D. 1210), John visited Ireland. It may be supposed his arrival could not excite much pleasure in the hearts of his Irish subjects, though, no doubt, he thought it a mark of disloyalty that he should not be welcomed with acclamations. A quarter of a century had elapsed since he first set his foot on Irish ground. He had grown grey in profligacy, but he had not grown wiser or better with advancing years.

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

The English King obtained money for his travelling expenses by extortion from the unfortunate Jews. He landed at Crook, near Waterford, on the 20th June, 1210. His army was commanded by the Earl of Salisbury, son to Henry I., by "Fair Rosamond," of tragic memory. De Braose fled to England when he heard of the King's movements. Here he endeavoured to make peace with his master, but failing to do so, he carefully avoided putting himself in his power, and took refuge in France. His wife was not so fortunate. After John's return to England, Matilda and her son were seized by his command, and imprisoned at Corfe Castle, in the isle of Pembroke. Here they were shut up in a room, with a sheaf of wheat and a piece of raw bacon for their only provision. When the prison door was opened on the eleventh day, they were both found dead.

De Lacy also fled before the King's visit; John took Carrickfergus Castle from his people, and stationed a garrison of his own there. Several Irish princes paid homage to him; amongst others we find the names of Cathal Crovderg and Hugh O'Neill. The Norman lords were also obliged to swear fealty, and transcripts of their oaths were placed in the Irish Exchequer. Arrangements were also made for the military support of the colony, and certain troops were to be furnished with forty days' ration by all who held lands by "knight's service." The Irish princes who lived in the southern and western parts of Ireland, appear to have treated the King with silent indifference; they could afford to do so, as they were so far beyond the reach of his vengeance.

John remained only sixty days in Ireland. He returned to Wales on the 26th of August, 1210, after confiding the government of the colony to John de Grey, Bishop of Norwich, whose predilection for secular affairs had induced the Holy See to refuse his nomination to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. The most important act of his Viceroyalty was the erection of a bridge and castle at Ath-Luain (Athlone). He was succeeded, in 1213, by Henry de Londres, who had been appointed to the see of Dublin during the preceding year. This prelate was one of those who were the means of obtaining Magna Charta. His name appears second on the list of counsellors who advised the grant; and he stood by the King's side, at Runnymede, when the barons obtained the bulwark of English liberty. It is sometimes forgotten that the clergy were the foremost to demand it, and the most persevering in their efforts to obtain it.

The Archbishop was now sent to Rome by the King to plead his cause there, and to counteract, as best he might, the serious complaints made against him by all his subjects—A.D. 1215. In 1213 Walter de Lacy obtained the restoration of his father's property in Wales and England. Two years later he recovered his Irish lands; but the King retained his son, Gislebert, as hostage, and his Castle of Droicead-Atha (Drogheda).

The Irish chieftains made some stand for their rights at the close of this reign. Cormac O'Melaghlin wrested Delvin, in Meath, from the English. O'Neill and O'Donnell composed their difference pro tem., and joined in attacking the invaders. In the south there was a war between Dermod and Connor Carthy, in which the Anglo-Normans joined, and, as usual, got the lion's share, obtaining such an increase of territory as enabled them to erect twenty new castles in Cork and Kerry.

The Four Masters give a curious story under the year 1213. O'Donnell More sent his steward to Connaught to collect his tribute. On his way he visited the poet Murray O'Daly, and began to wrangle with him, "although his lord had given him no instructions to do so." The poet's ire was excited. He killed him on the spot with a sharp axe—an unpleasant exhibition of literary justice—and then fled into Clanrickarde for safety. O'Donnell determined to revenge the insult, until Mac William (William de Burgo) submitted to him. But the poet had been sent to seek refuge in Thomond. The chief pursued him there also, and laid siege to Limerick.[319] The inhabitants at once expelled the murderer, who eventually fled to Dublin. After receiving tribute from the men of Connaught, O'Donnell marched to Dublin, and compelled the people to banish Murray to Scotland. Here he remained until he had composed three poems in praise of O'Donnell, imploring peace and forgiveness. He was then pardoned, and so far received into favour as to obtain a grant of land and other possessions.

The Irish bishops were, as usual, in constant intercourse with Rome. Several prelates attended the fourth General Council of Lateran, in 1215. The Annals give the obituaries of some saintly men, whose lives redeemed the age from the character for barbarity, which its secular literature would seem to justify. Amongst these we find the obituary of Catholicus O'Duffy, in 1201; of Uaireirghe, "one of the noble sages of Clonmacnois, a man full of the love of God and of every virtue;" of Con O'Melly, Bishop of Annaghdown, "a transparently bright gem of the Church;" of Donnell O'Brollaghan, "a prior, a noble senior, a sage, illustrious for his intelligence;" and of many others. A great number of monasteries were also founded, especially by the Anglo-Normans, who appear to have had periodical fits of piety, after periodical temptations to replenish their coffers out of their neighbours' property. We may not quite judge their reparations as altogether insincere; for surely some atonement for evil deeds is better than an utter recklessness of future punishment.

Henry III. succeeded his father, John, while only in his tenth year. William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, was appointed protector of the kingdom and the King. The young monarch was hastily crowned at Bristol, with one of his mother's golden bracelets. Had the wise and good Earl lived to administer affairs for a longer period, it would have been a blessing to both countries. Geoffrey de Marisco still continued Governor of Ireland. Affairs in England were in an extremely critical position. The profligate Isabella had returned to her first husband, Hugh de Lusignan, whom she had before forsaken for King John. Gloucester, London, and Kent, were in the hands of the Dauphin of France. Some few acts of justice to Ireland were the result; but when justice is only awarded from motives of fear or interest, it becomes worse than worthless as a mode of conciliation. Such justice, however, as was granted, only benefited the Anglo-Norman settlers; the "mere Irish" were a race devoted to plunder and extermination.

In consequence of complaints from the English barons in Ireland, a modified form of Magna Charta was granted to them, and a general amnesty was proclaimed, with special promises of reparation to the nobles whom John had oppressed. Hugh de Lacy was also pardoned and recalled; but it was specially provided that the Irish should have no share in such favours; and the Viceroy was charged to see that no native of the country obtained cathedral preferment. This piece of injustice was annulled through the interference of Pope Honorius III.

In 1217 the young King, or rather his advisers, sent the Archbishop of Dublin to that city to levy a "tallage," or tax, for the royal benefit. The Archbishop and the Justiciary were directed to represent to the "Kings of Ireland," and the barons holding directly from the crown, that their liberality would not be forgotten; but neither the politeness of the address[320] nor the benevolence of the promises were practically appreciated, probably because neither were believed to be sincere, and the King's coffers were not much replenished.

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

By these regulations the Justiciary was bound to account in the Exchequer of Dublin for all taxes and aids received in Ireland for the royal purse. He was to defray all expenses for the maintenance of the King's castles and lands out of the revenues. In fact, the people of the country were taxed, either directly or indirectly, for the support of the invaders. The King's castles were to be kept by loyal and proper constables, who were obliged to give hostages. Indeed, so little faith had the English kings in the loyalty of their own subjects, that the Justiciary himself was obliged to give a hostage as security for his own behaviour. Neither does the same Viceroy appear to have benefited trade, for he is accused of exacting wine, clothing, and victuals, without payment, from the merchants of Dublin.

In 1221 the Archbishop of Dublin, Henry de Londres, was made Governor. He obtained the name of "Scorch Villain," from having cast into the fire the leases of the tenants of his see, whom he had cited to produce these documents in his court. The enraged landholders attacked the attendants, and laid hands on the Archbishop, who was compelled to do them justice from fear of personal violence. When such was the mode of government adopted by English officials, we can scarcely wonder that the people of Ireland have not inherited very ardent feelings of loyalty and devotion to the crown and constitution of that country.

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

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

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

Crovderg had retired into a Franciscan monastery at Knockmoy, which he had founded, and there he was interred nobly and honourably. After his death there were no less than three claimants for his dignity. De Burgo claimed it in right of the royal gift; Hugh Cathal claimed it as heir to his father, Crovderg; Turlough claimed it for the love of fighting, inherent in the Celtic race; and a general guerilla warfare was carried on by the three parties, to the utter ruin of each individual. For the next ten years the history of the country is the history of deadly feuds between the native princes, carefully fomented by the English settlers, whose interest it was to make them exterminate each other.

The quarrel for the possession of Connaught began in the year 1225. The Anglo-Normans had a large army at Athlone, and Hugh Cathal went to claim their assistance. The Lord Justice put himself at the head of the army; they marched into Connaught, and soon became masters of the situation. Roderic's sons at once submitted, but only to bide their time. During these hostilities the English of Desmond, and O'Brien, a Thomond prince, assisted by the Sheriff of Cork, invaded the southern part of Connaught for the sake of plunder. In the previous year, 1224, "the corn remained unreaped until the festival of St. Brigid [1st Feb.], when the ploughing was going on." A famine also occurred, and was followed by severe sickness. Well might the friar historian exclaim: "Woeful was the misfortune which God permitted to fall upon the west province in Ireland at that time; for the young warriors did not spare each other, but preyed and plundered to the utmost of their power. Women and children, the feeble and the lowly poor, perished by cold and famine in this year."[321]

O'Neill had inaugurated Turlough at Carnfree.[322] He appears to have been the most popular claimant. The northern chieftains then returned home. As soon as the English left Connaught, Turlough again revolted. Hugh Cathal recalled his allies; and the opposite party, finding their cause hopeless, joined him in such numbers that Roderic's sons fled for refuge to Hugh O'Neill. The Annals suggest that the English might well respond when called on, "for their spirit was fresh, and their struggle trifling." Again we find it recorded that the corn remained unreaped until after the festival of St. Brigid. The wonder is, not that the harvest was not gathered in, but that there was any harvest to gather.

Soon after these events, Hugh O'Connor was captured by his English allies, and would have been sacrificed to their vengeance on some pretence, had not Earl Marshal rescued him by force of arms. He escorted him out of the court, and brought him safely to Connaught; but his son and daughter remained in the hands of the English. Hugh soon found an opportunity of retaliating. A conference was appointed to take place near Athlone,[323] between him and William de Marisco, son of the Lord Justice. When in sight of the English knights, the Irish prince rushed on William, and seized him, while his followers captured his attendants, one of whom, the Constable of Athlone, was killed in the fray. Hugh then proceeded to plunder and burn the town, and to rescue his son and daughter, and some Connaught chieftains.

At the close of the year 1227, Turlough again took arms. The English had found it their convenience to change sides, and assisted him with all their forces. Probably they feared the brave Hugh, and were jealous of the very power they had helped him to obtain. Hugh Roderic attacked the northern districts, with Richard de Burgo. Turlough Roderic marched to the peninsula of Rindown, with the Viceroy. Hugh Crovderg had a narrow escape near the Curlieu Mountains, where his wife was captured by the English. The following year he appears to have been reconciled to the Lord Deputy, for he was killed in his house by an Englishman, in revenge for a liberty he had taken with a woman.[324]

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

The reign of this prince was of short duration. In 1231 he was taken prisoner at Meelick, despite the most solemn guarantees, by the very man who had so lately enthroned him. Hugh was reinstated, but before the end of the year Felim was released. He now assembled his forces again, and attacked Hugh, whom he killed, with several of his relations, and many English and Irish chieftains. His next exploit was to demolish the castles of Galway; Dunannon, on the river Suck, Roscommon; Hags' Castle, on Lough Mask; and Castle Rich, on Lough Corrib; all of which had been erected by Roderic's sons and their English allies. But the tide of fortune soon turned. The invincible De Burgo entered Connaught once more, and plundered without mercy. In a pitched battle the English gained the day, principally through the skill of their cavalry[325] and the protection of their coats-of-mail.

Felim fled to the north, and sought refuge with O'Donnell of Tir-Connell. O'Flaherty, who had always been hostile to Felim, joined the English, and, by the help of his boats, they were able to lay waste the islands of Clew Bay. Nearly all the inhabitants were killed or carried off. The victorious forces now laid siege to a castle[326] on the Rock of Lough Key, in Roscommon, which was held for O'Connor by Mac Dermod. They succeeded in taking it, but soon lost their possession by the quick-witted cleverness of an Irish soldier, who closed the gates on them when they set out on a plundering expedition. The fortress was at once demolished, that it might not fall into English hands again.

When William Pembroke died, A.D. 1231, he bequeathed his offices and large estates in England and Ireland to his brother, Richard, who is described by the chroniclers as a model of manly beauty. Henry III. prohibited his admission to the inheritance, and charged him with treason. The Earl escaped to Ireland, and took possession of the lands and castles of the family, waging war upon the King until his rights were acknowledged. In 1232 Henry had granted the Justiciary of England and of Ireland, with other valuable privileges, to Hubert de Burgo. Earl Richard supported him against the adventurers from Poitou and Bretagne, on whom the weak King had begun to lavish his favours. The Parliament and the barons remonstrated, and threatened to dethrone Henry, if he persevered in being governed by foreigners. And well they might; for one of these needy men, Pierre de Rivaulx, had obtained a grant for life of nearly every office and emolument in Ireland; amongst others, we find mention of "the vacant sees, and the Jews in Ireland." Henry did his best to get his own views carried out; but Earl Richard leagued with the Welsh princes, and expelled the intruders from the towns and castles in that part of the country.

The King's foreign advisers determined to destroy their great enemy as speedily as possible. Their plain was deeply laid. They despatched letters to Ireland, signed by twelve privy counsellors, requiring the Viceroy and barons to seize his castles, bribing them with a promise of a share in his lands. The wily Anglo-Normans demanded a charter, specifying which portion of his property each individual should have. They obtained the document, signed with the royal seal, which had been purloined for the occasion from the Chancellor. The Anglo-Normans acted with detestable dissimulation. Geoffrey de Marisco tried to worm himself into the confidence of the man on whose destruction he was bent. On the 1st of April, 1232, a conference was arranged to take place on the Curragh of Kildare. The Viceroy was accompanied by De Lacy, De Burgo, and a large number of soldiers and mercenaries. The Earl was attended by a few knights and the false De Marisco. He declined to comply with the demands of the barons, who refused to restore his castles. The treacherous De Marisco withdrew from him at this moment, and he suddenly found himself overpowered by numbers. With the thoughtfulness of true heroism, he ordered some of his attendants to hasten away with his young brother, Walter. Nearly all his retainers had been bribed to forsake him in the moment of danger; and now that the few who obeyed his last command were gone, he had to contend single-handed with the multitude. His personal bravery was not a little feared, and the coward barons, who were either afraid or ashamed to attack him individually, urged on their soldiers, until he was completely surrounded. The Earl laid prostrate six of his foes, clove one knight to the middle, and struck off the hands of another, before he was captured. At last the soldiers aimed at the feet of his spirited steed, until they were cut off, and by this piece of cruelty brought its rider to the ground. A treacherous stab from behind, with a long knife, plunged to the haft in his back, completed the bloody work.

The Earl was borne off, apparently lifeless, to one of his own castles, which had been seized by the Viceroy. It is said that even his surgeon was bribed to prevent his recovery. Before submitting his wounds to the necessary treatment, he prepared for death, and received the last sacraments. He died calmly and immediately, clasping a crucifix, on Palm Sunday, the sixteenth day after his treacherous capture. And thus expired the "flower of chivalry," and the grandson of Strongbow, the very man to whom England owed so much of her Irish possessions.

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

It is said Henry III. expressed deep grief when he heard of Earl Richard's unfortunate end, and that he endeavoured to have restitution made to the family. Geoffrey de Marisco was banished. His son, William, conspired against the King, and even employed an assassin to kill him. The man would have probably accomplished his purpose, had he not been discovered accidentally by one of the Queen's maids, hid under the straw of the royal bed. The real traitor was eventually captured, drawn at horses' tails to London, and hanged with the usual barbarities.

His miserable father, who had been thrice Viceroy of Ireland, and a peer of that country and of England, died in exile, "pitifully, yet undeserving of pity, for his own treason against the unfortunate Earl Richard, and his son's treason against the King." Such were the men who governed Ireland in the thirteenth century.

Treachery seems to have been the recognized plan of capturing an enemy. In 1236 this method was attempted by the government in order to get Felim O'Connor into their power. He was invited to attend a meeting in Athlone, but, fortunately for himself, he discovered the designs of his enemies time enough to effect his escape. He was pursued to Sligo. From thence he fled to Tir-Connell, which appears to have been the Cave of Adullam in that era; though there were so many discontented persons, and it was so difficult to know which party any individual would espouse continuously, that the Adullamites were tolerably numerous. Turlough's son, Brian O'Connor, was now invested with the government of Connaught by the English, until some more promising candidate should appear. But even their support failed to enable him to keep the field. Felim[327] returned the following year, and after defeating the soldiers of the Lord Justice, made Brian's people take to flight so effectually, that none of Roderic's descendants ever again attempted even to possess their ancestral lands.

The Four Masters have the following graphic entry under the year 1236: "Heavy rains, harsh weather, and much war prevailed in this year." The Annals of Kilronan also give a fearful account of the wars, the weather, and the crimes. They mention that Brian's people burned the church of Imlagh Brochada over the heads of O'Flynn's people, while it was full of women, children, and nuns, and had three priests in it. There were so many raids on cows, that the unfortunate animals must have had a miserable existence. How a single cow survived the amount of driving hither and thither they endured, considering their natural love of ease and contemplative habits, is certainly a mystery. In the year 1238, the Annals mention that the English erected castles in Connaught, principally in the territory from which the O'Flahertys had been expelled. This family, however, became very powerful in that part of the country in which they now settled.

As Connaught had been fairly depopulated, and its kings and princes nearly annihilated, the English turned their attention to Ulster, where they wished to play the same game. The Lord Justice and Hugh de Lacy led an army thither, and deposed MacLoughlin, giving the government to O'Neill's son; but MacLoughlin obtained rule again, after a battle fought the following year at Carnteel.

In 1240 the King of Connaught went to England to complain personally of De Burgo's oppressions and exactions; but his mission, as might be expected, was fruitless, although he was received courteously, and the King wrote to the Lord Justice "to pluck out by the root that fruitless sycamore, De Burgo, which the Earl of Kent, in the insolence of his power, hath planted in these parts." However, we find that Henry was thankful to avail himself of the services of the "fruitless sycamore" only two years after, in an expedition against the King of France. He died on the voyage to Bourdeaux, and was succeeded by his son, Walter. In 1241 More O'Donnell, Lord of Tir-Connell, died in Assaroe, in the monastic habit. In 1244 Felim O'Connor and some Irish chieftains accompanied the then Viceroy, FitzGerald, to Wales, where Henry had requested their assistance.

The King was nearly starved out, the Irish reinforcements were long in coming over, and the delay was visited on the head of the unfortunate Justiciary, who was deprived of his office. John de Marisco was appointed in his place.


[319] Limerick.—We give an illustration, at the head of this chapter, of King John's Castle, Limerick. Stanihurst says that King John "was so pleased with the agreeableness of the city, that he caused a very fine castle and bridge to be built there." This castle has endured for more than six centuries. Richard I. granted this city a charter to elect a Mayor before London had that privilege, and a century before it was granted to Dublin. M'Gregor says, in his History of Limerick, that the trade went down fearfully after the English invasion.—vol. ii. p. 53.

[320] Address.—Gilbert's Viceroys, p. 82, where the address may be seen in extenso.

[321] Year.—Four Masters, vol. iii. p. 227.

[322] Carnfree.—This place has been identified by Dr. O'Donovan. It is near the village of Tulsk, co. Roscommon. It was the usual place of inauguration for the O'Connors. See note d, Annals, vol. iii. p. 221.

[323] Athlone.—This was one of the most important of the English towns, and ranked next to Dublin at that period. We give an illustration of the Castle of Athlone at the beginning of Chapter XX. The building is now used for a barrack, which in truth is no great deviation from its original purpose. It stands on the direct road from Dublin to Galway, and protects the passage of the Shannon. There is a curious representation on a monument here of an unfortunate English monk, who apostatized and came to Ireland. He was sent to Athlone to superintend the erection of the bridge by Sir Henry Sidney; but, according to the legend, he was constantly pursued by a demon in the shape of a rat, which never left him for a single moment. On one occasion he attempted to preach, but the eyes of the animal glared on him with such fury that he could not continue. He then took a pistol and attempted to shoot it, but in an instant it had sprung on the weapon, giving him, at the same time, a bite which caused his death. It is to be presumed that this circumstance must have been well known, and generally believed at the time, or it would not have been made a subject for the sculptor.

[324] Woman.—There are several versions of this story. The Four Masters say he was killed "treacherously by the English." The Annals of Clonmacnois say that "he came to an atonement with Geoffrey March, and was restored to his kingdom," and that he was afterwards treacherously killed by an Englishman, "for which cause the Deputy the next day hanged the Englishman that killed him, for that foul fact." The cause of the Englishman's crime was "meer jealousie," because O'Connor had kissed his wife.

[325] Cavalry.—Horse soldiery were introduced early into Britain, through the Romans, who were famous for their cavalry.

[326] Castle.—The Annals of Boyle contain a wonderful account of the pirrels or engines constructed by the English for taking this fortress.

[327] Felim.—The Four Masters say, when writing of the act of treachery mentioned above: "They all yearned to act treacherously towards Felim, although he was the gossip of the Lord Justice."—Annals, vol. iii. p. 285. He was sponsor or godfather to one of his children.


The Age was not all Evil—Good Men in the World and in the Cloister—Religious Houses and their Founders—The Augustinians and Cistercians—Franciscans and Dominicans—Their close Friendship— Dominican Houses—St. Saviour's, Dublin—The Black Abbey, Kilkenny— Franciscan Houses—Youghal—Kilkenny—Multifarnham—Timoleague— Donegal—Carmelite Convents and Friars—Rising of the Connaught Men— A Plunderer of the English—Battle of Downpatrick—The MacCarthys defeat the Geraldines at Kenmare—War between De Burgo and FitzGerald.

[A.D. 1244-1271.]

Zeal for founding religious houses was one of the characteristics of the age. Even the men who spent their lives in desolating the sanctuaries erected by others, and in butchering their fellow-creatures, appear to have had some thought of a future retribution—some idea that crime demanded atonement—with a lively faith in a future state, where a stern account would be demanded. If we contented ourselves with merely following the sanguinary careers of kings and chieftains, we should have as little idea of the real condition of the country, as we should obtain of the present social state of England by an exclusive study of the police reports in the Times. Perhaps, there was not much more crime committed then than now. Certainly there were atonements made for offending against God and man, which we do not hear of at the present day. Even a cursory glance through the driest annals, will show that it was not all evil—that there was something besides crime and misery. On almost every page we find some incident which tells us that faith was not extinct. In the Annals of the Four Masters, the obituaries of good men are invariably placed before the records of the evil deeds of warriors or princes. Perhaps writers may have thought that such names would be recorded in another Book with a similar precedence. The feats of arms, the raids, and destructions occupy the largest space. Such deeds come most prominently before the eyes of the world, and therefore we are inclined to suppose that they were the most important. But though the Annals may devote pages to the exploits of De Lacy or De Burgo, and only say of Ainmie O'Coffey, Abbot of the Church of Derry-Columcille, that he was "a noble ecclesiastic, distinguished for his piety, meekness, charity, wisdom, and every other virtue;" or of MacGilluire, Coarb of St. Patrick, and Primate of Ireland, that "he died at Rome, after a well-spent life,"[328]—how much is enfolded in the brief obituary! How many, of whom men never have heard in this world, were influenced, advised, and counselled by the meek and noble ecclesiastic!

The influence of good men is like the circle we make when we cast a little stone into a great stream, and which extends wider and wider until it reaches the opposite bank. It is a noiseless influence, but not the less effective. It is a hidden influence, but not the less efficacious. The Coarb of St. Patrick, in his "well-spent life," may have influenced for good as many hundreds, as the bad example of some profligate adventurer influenced for evil; but we are quite sure to hear a great deal about the exploits of the latter, and equally certain that the good deeds of the former will not be so carefully chronicled.

Nor should we at all suppose that piety in this age was confined to ecclesiastics. The Earls of Pembroke stand conspicuously amongst their fellows as men of probity, and were none the less brave because they were sincerely religious. At times, even in the midst of the fiercest raids, men found time to pray, and to do deeds of mercy. On one Friday, in the year of grace 1235, the English knights, in the very midst of their success at Umallia, and after fearful devastations commanded "that no people shall be slain on that day, in honour of the crucifixion of Christ."[329] It is true they "plundered and devastated both by sea and land the very next day;" but even one such public act of faith was something that we might wish to see in our own times. After the same raid, too, we find the "English of Ireland" and the Lord Justice sparing and protecting Clarus, the Archdeacon of Elphin, and the Canons of Trinity Island, in honour of the Blessed Trinity—another act of faith; and the "Lord Justice himself and the chiefs of the English went to see that place, and to kneel and pray there." On another occasion the "English chiefs were highly disgusted" when their soldiers broke into the sacristy of Boyle Abbey, and "took away the chalices, vestments, and other valuable things." Their leaders "sent back everything they could find, and paid for what they could not find."[330] We must, however, acknowledge regretfully that this species of "disgust" and reparation were equally rare. To plunder monasteries which they had not erected themselves, seems to have been as ordinary an occupation as to found new ones with a portion of their unjust spoils.

Although this is not an ecclesiastical history, some brief account of the monks, and of the monasteries founded in Ireland about this period, will be necessary. The earliest foundations were houses of the Cistercian Order and the Augustinians. The Augustinian Order, as its name implies, was originally founded by St. Augustine, the great Archbishop of Hippo, in Africa. His rule has been adopted and adapted by the founders of several congregations of men and women. The great Benedictine Order owes its origin to the Patriarch of the West, so famous for his rejection of the nobility of earth, that he might attain more securely to the ranks of the noble in heaven. This Order was introduced into England at an early period. It became still more popular and distinguished when St. Bernard preached under the mantle of Benedict, and showed how austerity towards himself and tenderness towards others could be combined in its highest perfection.

The twin Orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis, founded in the early part of the thirteenth century—the one by a Spanish nobleman, the other by an Italian merchant—were established in Ireland in the very lifetime of their founders. Nothing now remains of the glories of their ancient houses, on which the patrons had expended so much wealth, and the artist so much skill; but their memory still lives in the hearts of the people, and there are few places in the country without traditions which point out the spot where a Franciscan was martyred, or a Dominican taken in the act of administering to the spiritual necessities of the people.

The Abbey of Mellifont was founded A.D. 1142, for Cistercian monks, by Donough O'Carroll, King of Oriel. It was the most ancient monastery of the Order in this country, and was supplied with monks by St. Bernard, direct from Clairvaux, then in all its first fervour. We have already mentioned some of the offerings which were made to this monastery. The date of the erection of St. Mary's Abbey in Dublin has not been correctly ascertained, but it is quite certain that the Cistercians were established here in 1139, although it was probably built originally by the Danes. The abbots of this monastery, and of the monastery at Mellifont, sat as barons in Parliament. There were also houses at Bectiff, county Meath; Baltinglass, county Wicklow; Moray, county Limerick; Ordorney, county Kerry (quaintly and suggestively called Kyrie Eleison), at Newry, Fermoy, Boyle, Monasterevan, Ashro, and Jerpoint. The superiors of several of these houses sat in Parliament. Their remains attest their beauty and the cultivated tastes of their founders. The ruins of the Abbey of Holy Cross, county Tipperary, founded in 1182, by Donald O'Brien, are of unusual extent and magnificence. But the remains of Dunbrody, in the county of Wexford, are, perhaps, the largest and the most picturesque of any in the kingdom. It was also richly endowed. It should be remembered that these establishments were erected by the founders, not merely as an act of piety to God during their lifetime, but with the hope that prayers should be offered there for the repose of their souls after death. Those who confiscated these houses and lands to secular purposes, have therefore committed a double injustice, since they have robbed both God and the dead.

A great number of priories were also founded for the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. These establishments were of great use in supplying a number of zealous and devoted priests, who ministered to the spiritual wants of the people in their several districts. Tintern Abbey was founded in the year 1200, by the Earl of Pembroke. When in danger at sea, he made a vow that he would erect a monastery on whatever place he should first arrive in safety. He fulfilled his promise, and brought monks from Tintern, in Monmouthshire, who gave their new habitation the name of their old home. In 1224 the Cistercians resigned the Monastery of St. Saviour, Dublin, which had been erected for them by the same Earl, to the Dominicans, on condition that they should offer a lighted taper, on the Feast of the Nativity, at the Abbey of St. Mary, as an acknowledgment of the grant. The Mayor of Dublin, John Decer (A.D. 1380), repaired the church, and adorned it with a range of massive pillars. The friars of this house were as distinguished for literature as the rest of their brethren; and in 1421 they opened a school of philosophy and divinity on Usher's Island.[331]

The Dominican Convent of St. Mary Magdalene at Drogheda was founded, in 1224, by John Netterville, Archbishop of Armagh. Richard II. and Henry IV. were great benefactors to this house. Four general chapters were also held here. The Black Abbey of Kilkenny was erected by the younger William, Earl of Pembroke. Four general chapters were also held here, and it was considered one of the first houses of the Order in Ireland. We shall give details, at a later period, of the destruction and restoration of this and other monasteries. The Dominicans had also houses at Waterford, Cork, Mullingar, Athenry, Cashel, Tralee, Sligo, Roscommon, and, in fact, in nearly all the principal towns in the country.

Nor were their Franciscan brethren less popular. The Order of Friars Minor generally found a home near the Friars Preachers; and so close was the friendship between them, that it was usual, on the festivals of their respective founders, for the Franciscan to preach the panegyric of St. Dominic, and the Dominican to preach the panegyric of St. Francis. Youghal was the first place where a convent of this Order was erected. The founder, Maurice FitzGerald, was Lord Justice in the year 1229, and again in 1232. He was a patron of both Orders, and died in the Franciscan habit, on the 20th May, 1257. Indeed, some of the English and Irish chieftains were so devout to the two saints, that they appear to have had some difficulty in choosing which they would have for their special patron. In 1649 the famous Owen O'Neill was buried in a convent of the Order at Cavan. When dying he desired that he should be clothed in the Dominican habit, and buried in the Franciscan monastery.

Some curious particulars are related of the foundation at Youghal. The Earl was building a mansion for his family in the town, about the year 1231. While the workmen were engaged in laying the foundation, they begged some money, on the eve of a great feast, that they might drink to the health of their noble employer. FitzGerald willingly complied with their request, and desired his eldest son to be the bearer of his bounty. The young nobleman, however, less generous than his father, not only refused to give them the money, but had angry words with the workmen. It is not mentioned whether the affair came to a more serious collision; but the Earl, highly incensed with the conduct of his son, ordered the workmen to erect a monastery instead of a castle, and bestowed the house upon the Franciscan fathers. The following year he took their habit, and lived in the convent until his death. This house was completely destroyed during the persecutions in the reign of Elizabeth.

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