An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800
by Mary Frances Cusack
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The Convent of Kilkenny was founded immediately after. Its benefactor was the Earl of Pembroke, who was buried in the church. Here was a remarkable spring, dedicated to St. Francis, at which many miraculous cures are said to have been wrought. The site occupied by this building was very extensive; its ruins only remain to tell how spacious and beautiful its abbey and church must have been. It was also remarkable for the learned men who there pursued their literary toil, among whom we may mention the celebrated annalist, Clynn. He was at first Guardian of the Convent of Carrick-on-Suir; but, about 1338, he retired to Kilkenny, where he compiled the greater part of his Annals. It is probable that he died about 1350. His history commences with the Christian era, and is carried down to the year 1349. At this time the country was all but depopulated by a fearful pestilence. The good and learned brother seems to have had some forebodings of his impending fate, for his last written words run thus:—"And, lest the writing should perish with the writer, and the work should fail with the workman, I leave behind me parchment for continuing it; if any man should have the good fortune to survive this calamity, or any one of the race of Adam should escape this pestilence, and live to continue what I have begun." This abbey was also one of the great literary schools of Ireland, and had its halls of philosophy and divinity, which, were well attended for many years.

In Dublin the Franciscans were established by the munificence of their great patron, Henry III. Ralph le Porter granted a site of land in that part of the city where the street still retains the name of the founder of the Seraphic Order. In 1308 John le Decer proved a great benefactor to the friars, and erected a very beautiful chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, in which he was interred.

But the Convent of Multifarnham was the great glory of this century. It was erected, in 1236, by Lord Delemere; and from its retired situation, and the powerful protection of its noble patrons, escaped many of the calamities which befell other houses of the Order. The church and convent were built "in honour of God and St. Francis." The monastery itself was of unusual size, and had ample accommodation for a number of friars. Hence, in times of persecution, it was the usual refuge of the sick and infirm, who were driven from their less favoured homes. The church was remarkable for its beauty and the richness of its ornaments. Here were the tombs of its noble founders and patrons; and the south-eastern window was gorgeous with their heraldic devices. The convent was situated on Lake Derravaragh, and was endowed with many acres of rich land, through which flow the Inny and the Gaine. Such a position afforded opportunity for mills and agricultural labours, of which the friars were not slow to avail themselves.

The site, as we have remarked, was secluded, at some distance even from any village, and far from the more frequented roads. In process of time the family of the Nugents became lords of the manor, but they were not less friendly to the religious than the former proprietors. Indeed, so devoted were they to the Order, that, at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, Multifarnham would have shared the common fate, had they not again and again repurchased it from those to whom it had been sold by Henry. Even during the reign of Elizabeth it was protected by the same family. But the day of suffering was even then approaching. In the October of the year 1601, a detachment of English soldiers was sent from Dublin by Lord Mountjoy, to destroy the convent which had been so long spared. The friars were seized and imprisoned, the monastery pillaged; and the soldiers, disappointed in their hope of a rich booty, wreaked their vengeance by setting fire to the sacred pile.

The Convent of Kilcrea was another sequestered spot. It was founded in the fifteenth century, by the MacCarthys, under the invocation of St. Brigid. The richness and magnificence of the church, its graceful bell-tower, carved windows, and marble ornaments, showed both the generosity and the taste of the Lord Muskerry. Cormac was interred here in 1495; and many noble families, having made it their place of sepulture, protected the church for the sake of their ancestral tombs.

Nor was the Monastery of Timoleague less celebrated. The honour of its foundation is disputed, as well as the exact date; but as the tombs of the MacCarthys, the O'Donovans, O'Heas, and De Courcys, are in its choir, we may suppose that all had a share in the erection or adornment of this stately church. One of the De Courcy family, Edmund, Bishop of Ross, himself a Franciscan friar, rebuilt the bell-tower, which rises to a height of seventy feet, as well as the dormitory, infirmary, and library. At his death, in 1548, he bequeathed many valuable books, altar-plate, &c., to his brethren.

The history of the establishment of the Order at Donegal is amusing enough, and very characteristic of the customs of the age. In the year 1474 the Franciscans were holding a general chapter in their convent near Tuam. In the midst of their deliberations, however, they were unexpectedly interrupted by the arrival of the Lady Nuala O'Connor, daughter of the noble O'Connor Faly, and wife of the powerful chieftain, Hugh O'Donnell. She was attended by a brilliant escort, and came for no other purpose than to present her humble petition to the assembled fathers, for the establishment of their Order in the principality of Tir-Connell. After some deliberation, the Provincial informed her that her request could not be complied with at present, but that at a future period the friars would most willingly second her pious design. The Lady Nuala, however, had a woman's will, and a spirit of religious fervour to animate it. "What!" she exclaimed, "have I made this long and painful journey only to meet with a refusal? Beware of God's wrath! for to Him I will appeal, that He may charge you with all the souls whom your delay may cause to perish." This was unanswerable. The Lady Nuala journeyed home with a goodly band of Franciscans in her train; and soon the establishment of the Monastery of Donegal, situated at the head of the bay, showed that the piety of the lady was generously seconded by her noble husband. Lady Nuala did not live to see the completion of her cherished design. Her mortal remains were interred under the high altar, and many and fervent were the prayers of the holy friars for the eternal repose of their benefactress.

The second wife of O'Donnell was not less devoted to the Order. This lady was a daughter of Connor O'Brien, King of Thomond. Her zeal in the good work was so great, that the monastery was soon completed, and the church dedicated in 1474. The ceremony was carried out with the utmost magnificence, and large benefactions bestowed on the religious. After the death of her husband, who had built a castle close to the monastery, and was buried within the sacred walls, the widowed princess retired to a small dwelling near the church, where she passed the remainder of her days in prayer and penance. Her son, Hugh Oge, followed the steps of his good father. So judicious and upright was his rule, that it was said, in his days, the people of Tir-Connell never closed their doors except to keep out the wind. In 1510 he set out on a pilgrimage to Rome. Here he spent two years, and was received everywhere as an independent prince, and treated with the greatest distinction. But neither the honours conferred on him, nor his knightly fame (for it is said he was never vanquished in the field or the lists), could satisfy the desires of his heart. After a brief enjoyment of his ancestral honours, he retired to the monastery which his father had erected, and found, with the poor children of St. Francis, that peace and contentment which the world cannot give.

In the county Kerry there were at least two convents of the Order—one at Ardfert, founded, probably, in the year 1389; the other, famous for the beauty of its ruins, and proximity to the far-famed Lakes of Killarney, demands a longer notice.

The Convent of Irrelagh, or, as it is now called, Muckross, was founded early in the fifteenth century, by a prince of the famous family of MacCarthy More, known afterwards as Tadeige Manistireach, or Teigue of the Monastery.

According to the tradition of the county, and a MS. description of Kerry, written about the year 1750, and now preserved in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, the site on which the monastery was to be built was pointed out to MacCarthy More in a vision, which warned him not to erect his monastery in any situation except at a place called Carrig-an-Ceoil, i.e., the rock of the music. As no such place was known to him, he despatched some of his faithful followers to ascertain in what part of his principality it was situated. For some time they inquired in vain; but as they returned home in despair, the most exquisite music was heard to issue from a rock at Irrelagh. When the chief was made aware of this, he at once concluded it was the spot destined by Providence for his pious undertaking, which he immediately commenced.

It was finished by his son, Donnell (1440). The convent was dedicated to the Blessed Trinity. It is said there was a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin here, which brought great crowds of pilgrims. The feast of the Porziuncula was kept here long after the abbey had fallen to ruins, and the friars dispersed, and was known as the Abbey Day. Until the last few years stations were held there regularly, on the 2nd of October.

Clonmel Monastery was founded, about 1269, by the Desmonds; Drogheda, in 1240, by the Plunkets.

Some convents of Carmelite friars were also founded in the thirteenth century, but as yet they have not been fortunate enough to obtain the services of a historian, so that we can only briefly indicate the sites. The Convent of Dublin, for White Friars, was founded by Sir Robert Bagot, in 1274. The date of the establishment of the house at Leighlin-bridge has not been ascertained; but it was probably erected by the Carews, at the end of the reign of Henry III. There were also convents at Ardee, Drogheda, Galway, Kildare, and Thurles. The Convent of Kildare was the general seminary for the Order in Ireland; and one of its friars, David O'Brege, is styled "the burning light, the mirror and ornament of his country."

In 1248 the young men of Connaught inaugurated the periodical rebellions, which a statesman of modern times has compared to the dancing manias of the middle ages. Unfortunately for his comparison, there was a cause for the one, and there was no cause for the other. They acted unwisely, because there was not the remotest possibility of success; and to rebel against an oppression which cannot be remedied, only forges closer chains for the oppressed. But it can scarcely be denied that their motive was a patriotic one. Felim's son, Hugh, was the leader of the youthful band. In 1249 Maurice FitzGerald arrived to crush the movement, or, in modern parlance, "to stamp it out"—not always a successful process; for sparks are generally left after the most careful stamping, which another method might effectually have quenched. Felim at once fled the country. The English made his nephew, Turlough, ruler in his place; but the following year Felim made a bold swoop down from the Curlieus, expelled the intruder, and drove off a cattle prey. After this proof of his determination and valour, the English made peace with him, and permitted him to retain his own dominions without further molestation. Florence MacCarthy was killed this year, and Brian O'Neill, Lord of Tyrone, submitted to the Lord Justice—thereby freeing the invaders from two troublesome combatants. The next year, however, the English, who were not particular about treaties, invaded the north, and were repulsed with such loss as to induce them to treat the enemy with more respect for the time.

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

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

The quatrain, if of no other value, gives us an idea of the commodities bartered, and the tradesmen who offered their goods at Irish fairs in English towns during the thirteenth century.

In 1257 there was a fierce conflict between the Irish, under Godfrey O'Donnell, and the English, commanded by Maurice FitzGerald. The conflict took place at Creadrankille, near Sligo. The leaders engaged in single combat, and were both severely wounded: eventually the invaders were defeated and expelled from Lower Connaught. Godfrey's wound prevented him from following up his success, and soon after the two chieftains died. The circumstances of Maurice's death have been already recorded. The death of O'Donnell is a curious illustration of the feeling of the times. During his illness, Brian O'Neill sent to demand hostages from the Cinel-Connaill. The messengers fled the moment they had fulfilled their commission. For all reply, O'Donnell commanded his people to assemble, to place him on his bier, and to bear him forth at their head. And thus they met the enemy. The battle took place on the banks of the river Swilly, in Donegal. O'Donnell's army conquered. The hero's bier was laid down in the street of a little village at Connal, near Letterkenny, and there he died.

O'Neill again demanded hostages; but while the men deliberated what answer they should give, Donnell Oge returned from Scotland, and though he was but a youth of eighteen, he was elected chieftain. The same year the long-disused title of Monarch of Ireland was conferred on O'Neill by some of the Irish kings. After a conference at Caol Uisge, O'Neill and O'Connor turned their forces against the English, and a battle was fought near Downpatrick, where the Irish were defeated.[332] O'Neill was killed, with fifteen of the O'Kanes and many other chieftains, A.D. 1260. The English were commanded by the then Viceroy, Stephen Longespe, who was murdered soon after by his own people.

In the south the English suffered a severe reverse. The Geraldines were defeated by Connor O'Brien in Thomond, and again at Kilgarvan, near Kenmare, by Fineen MacCarthy. The Annals of Innisfallen give long details of this engagement, the sight of which is still pointed out by the country people. John FitzThomas, the founder of the Dominican Monastery at Tralee, was killed. The MacCarthys immediately proceeded to level all the castles which had been erected by the English; they were very numerous in that district. Soon after the hero of the fight was killed himself by the De Courcys.

The Annals mention an instance of a man who had taken a bell from the Church of Ballysadare, and put it on his head when attacked by the enemy, hoping that he might escape with his prize and his life, from the respect always shown to everything consecrated to God's service; but he was killed notwithstanding. This incident is mentioned as characteristic of the age. After the defeat narrated above, Hanmer says, "the Geraldines dared not put a plough into the ground in Desmond." The next year, 1262, Mac William Burke marched with a great army as far as Elphin. He was joined by the Lord Justice and John de Verdun. They marked out a place for a castle at Roscommon, and plundered all that remained after Hugh O'Connor in Connaught. He, in his turn, counterburned and plundered so successfully, that the English were glad to ask for peace. The result was a conference at the ford of Doire-Chuire. A peace was concluded, after which "Hugh O'Connor and Mac William Burke slept together in the one bed, cheerfully and happily; and the English left the country on the next day, after bidding farewell to O'Connor."

After this fraternal demonstration, Burke led an army into Desmond, and an engagement took place with MacCarthy on the side of Mangerton Mountain, where both English and Irish suffered great losses. Gerald Roche, who is said to be the third best knight of his time in Ireland, was slain by MacCarthy.[333] Burke was soon after created Earl of Ulster.[334] He and FitzGerald waged war against each other in 1264, and desolated the country with their raids. The Lord Justice sided with FitzGerald, who succeeded in taking all Burke's castles in Connaught.

The quarrels of the invaders now became so general, that even the Lord Justice was seized at a conference by FitzMaurice FitzGerald, and was detained prisoner, with several other nobles, for some time. During the wars between De Burgo (or Burke) and FitzGerald, the good people of Ross threatened to defend their town from all invaders; and to effect this purpose the council commanded all the citizens to assist in erecting the necessary fortifications. Even the ladies[335] and clergy[336] took part in the works, which were soon and successfully completed.

An Anglo-Norman poet commemorated this event in verse, and celebrates the fame of Rose, a lady who contributed largely to the undertaking, both by her presence and her liberal donations. He informs us first of the reason for this undertaking. It was those two troublesome knights, "sire Morice e sire Wauter," who would not permit the world to be at peace. He assures us that the citizens of New Ross were most anxious for peace, because they were merchants, and had an extensive trade, which was quite true; but he adds that they were determined to defend their rights if attacked, which was also true.

The poet also compliments the ladies, and thinks that the man would be happy who could have his choice of them. He also informs us they were to build a "Ladies' Gate," where there should be a prison in which all who gave offence to the fair sex should be confined at their pleasure. Of a surety, New Ross must have been the paradise of ladies in those days. We have not ascertained whether its fair citizens retain the same potent sway in the present century.

Felim O'Connor died in 1265. The Four Masters give his obituary thus: "Felim, son of Cathal Crovderg O'Connor, the defender and supporter of his own province, and of his friends on every side, the expeller and plunderer of his foes; a man full of hospitality, prowess, and renown; the exalter of the clerical orders and men of science; a worthy materies [sic] of a King of Ireland for his nobility, personal shape, heroism, wisdom, clemency, and truth; died, after the victory of unction and penance, in the monastery of the Dominican friars at Roscommon, which he had himself granted to God and that Order."

He was succeeded by his son, Hugh, "who committed his regal depredation in Offaly." It appears to have been considered a customary thing for a new sovereign to signalize himself, as soon as possible, by some display of this description. He succeeded so well in this same depredation, that the Lord Justice was alarmed, and came to assist De Burgo. The latter proposed a conference at Carrick-on-Shannon; but Hugh O'Connor suspected treachery, and contrived to get the Earl's brother, William Oge, into his hands before the conference commenced. The Earl "passed the night in sadness and sorrow." At daybreak a fierce conflict ensued. Turlough O'Brien, who was coming to assist the Connacians, was met on his way, and slain in single combat by De Burgo. But his death was fearfully avenged; great numbers of the English were slain, and immense spoils were taken from them. De Burgo died the following year, in Galway Castle, after a short illness, A.D. 1271.


[328] Life.—Annals, vol. iii. p. 189.

[329] Christ.—Annals, vol. iii. p. 281.

[330] Find.—Ib. vol. iii. p. 275.

[331] Usher's Island.—This was once a fashionable resort. Moira House stood here. It was ornamented so beautifully, that John Wesley observed, when visiting Lady Moira, that one of the rooms was more elegant than any he had seen in England. Here, in 1777, Charles Fox was introduced to Grattan. Poor Pamela (Lady Edward FitzGerald) was at Moira House on the evening of her husband's arrest; and here she heard the fatal news on the following morning, her friends having concealed it from her until then. In 1826 it was converted into a mendicity institution, and all its ornamental portions removed.

[332] Defeated.—O'Neill's bard, MacNamee, wrote a lament for the chieftains who fell in this engagement. He states that the head of "O'Neill, King of Tara, was sent to London;" and attributes the defeat of the Irish to the circumstance of their adversaries having fought in coats-of-mail, while they had only satin shirts:—

"Unequal they entered the battle, The Galls and the Irish of Tara; Fair satin shirts on the race of Conn, The Galls in one mass of iron."

He further deplores the removal of the chief's noble face from Down, lamenting that his resurrection should not be from amongst the limestone-covered graves of the fathers of his clan at Armagh.

[333] MacCarthy.—Four Masters, vol. iii. p. 389.

[334] Ulster.—The Annals of Innisfallen say he obtained this title in 1264, after his marriage with Maud, daughter of Hugh de Lacy the younger.


Ladies.—"Tantz bele dames ne vi en fossee, Mult fu cil en bon sire nee, Re purreit choisir a sa volonte."


Clergy.—"E les prestres, quant on chante, Si vont ovrir au fosse, E travellent mut durement, Plus qe ne funt autre gent."

This ballad has been published, with a translation by W. Crofton Croker.


Reign of Edward I.—Social State of Ireland—English Treachery—Irish Chieftains set at Variance—The Irish are refused the Benefit of English Law—Feuds between the Cusacks and the Barretts—Death of Boy O'Neill—The Burkes and the Geraldines—Quarrel between FitzGerald and De Vesci—Possessions obtained by Force or Fraud—Why the Celt was not Loyal—The Governors and the Governed—Royal Cities and their Charters—Dublin Castle, its Officers, Law Courts—A Law Court in the Fourteenth Century—Irish Soldiers help the English King—A Murder for which Justice is refused—Exactions of the Nobles—Invasion of Bruce—Remonstrance to the Pope—The Scotch Armies withdrawn from Ireland.

[A.D. 1271—1326.]

It was now nearly a century since the Anglo-Normans invaded Ireland. Henry III. died in 1272, after a reign of fifty-six years. He was succeeded by his son, Edward I., who was in the Holy Land at the time of his father's death. In 1257 his father had made him a grant of Ireland, with the express condition that it should not be separated from England. It would appear as if there had been some apprehensions of such an event since the time of Prince John. The English monarchs apparently wished the benefit of English laws to be extended to the native population, but their desire was invariably frustrated by such of their nobles as had obtained grants of land in Ireland, and whose object appears to have been the extermination and, if this were not possible, the depression of the Irish race.

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

The Viceroys were allowed a handsome income; therefore they were naturally anxious to keep their post. The first mention of salary is that granted to Geoffrey de Marisco. By letters-patent, dated at Westminster, July 4th, 1226, he was allowed an annual stipend of L580. This was a considerable sum for times when wheat was only 2s. a quarter, fat hogs 2s. each, and French wine 2s. a gallon.

Hugh O'Connor renewed hostilities in 1272, by destroying the English Castle of Roscommon. He died soon after, and his successor had but brief enjoyment of his dignity. In 1277 a horrible act of treachery took place, which the unfortunate Irish specially mention in their remonstrance to Pope John XXII., as a striking instance of the double-dealing of the English and the descendants of the Anglo-Normans then in Ireland, Thomas de Clare obtained a grant of Thomond from Edward I. It had already been secured to its rightful owners, the O'Briens, who probably paid, as was usual, an immense fine for liberty to keep their own property. The English Earl knew he could only obtain possession by treachery; he therefore leagued with Roe O'Brien, "so that they entered into gossipred with each other, and took vows by bells and relics to retain mutual friendship;" or, as the Annals of Clonmacnois have it, "they swore to each other all the oaths in Munster, as bells, relics of saints, and bachalls, to be true to each other for ever."

The unfortunate Irish prince little suspected all the false oaths his friend had taken, or all the villany he premeditated. There was another claimant for the crown as usual, Turlough O'Brien. He was defeated, but nevertheless the Earl turned to his side, got Brian Roe into his hands, and had him dragged to death between horses. The wretched perpetrator of this diabolical deed gained little by his crime,[337] for O'Brien's sons obtained a victory over him the following year. At one time he was so hard pressed as to be obliged to surrender at discretion, after living on horse-flesh for several days. In 1281 the unprincipled Earl tried the game of dissension, and set up Donough, the son of the man he had murdered, against Turlough, whom he had supported just before. But Donough was slain two years after, and Turlough continued master of Thomond until his death, in 1306. De Clare was slain by the O'Briens, in 1286.

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

In 1281 a sanguinary engagement took place at Moyne, in the county Mayo, between the Cusacks and the Barretts. The latter were driven off the field. The Annals say: "There were assisting the Cusacks in this battle two of the Irish, namely, Taichleach O'Boyle and Taichleach O'Dowda, who surpassed all that were there in bravery and valour, and in agility and dexterity in shooting."[338] There was a battle this year also between the Cinel-Connaill and the Cinel-Owen, in which the former were defeated, and their chieftain, Oge O'Donnell, was slain. This encounter took place at Desertcreaght, in Tyrone.

Hugh Boy O'Neill was slain in 1283. He is styled "the head of the liberality and valour of the Irish; the most distinguished in the north for bestowing jewels and riches; the most formidable and victorious of his tribe; and the worthy heir to the throne of Ireland." The last sentence is observable, as it shows that the English monarch was not then considered King of Ireland. In 1285 Theobald Butler died at Berehaven. After his death a large army was collected by Lord Geoffrey Geneville, and some other English nobles. They marched into Offaly, where the Irish had just seized the Castle of Leix. Here they had a brief triumph, and seized upon a great prey of cows; but the native forces rallied immediately, and, with the aid of Carbry O'Melaghlin, routed the enemy completely. Theobald de Verdun lost both his men and his horses, and Gerald FitzMaurice was taken prisoner the day after the battle, it is said through the treachery of his own followers. The Four Masters do not mention this event, but it is recorded at length in the Annals of Clonmacnois. They add: "There was a great snow this year, which from Christmas to St. Brigid's day continued."

The two great families of De Burgo and Geraldine demand a special mention. The former, who were now represented by Richard de Burgo (the Red Earl), had become so powerful, that they took precedence even of the Lord Justice in official documents. In 1286 the Earl led a great army into Connaught, destroying the monasteries and churches, and "obtaining sway in everyplace through which he passed." This nobleman was the direct descendant of FitzAldelm de Burgo, who had married Isabella, a natural daughter of Richard Coeur de Lion, and widow of Llewellyn, Prince of Wales. Walter de Burgo became Earl of Ulster in right of his wife, Maud, daughter of the younger Hugh de Lacy. The Red Earl's grandson, William, who was murdered, in 1333, by the English of Ulster, and whose death was most cruelly revenged, was the third and last of the De Burgo Earls of Ulster. The Burkes of Connaught are descended from William, the younger brother of Walter, the first Earl.

John FitzThomas FitzGerald, Baron of Offaly, was the common ancestor of the two great branches of the Geraldines, whose history is an object of such peculiar interest to the Irish historian. One of his sons, John, was created Earl of Kildare; the other, Maurice, Earl of Desmond.

In 1286 De Burgo laid claim to that portion of Meath which Theobald de Verdun held in right of his mother, the daughter of Walter de Lacy. He besieged De Verdun in his Castle of Athlone, A.D. 1288, but the result has not been recorded. De Toleburne, Justiciary of Ireland, died this year; the King seized on all his property, to pay debts which he owed to the crown. It appears he was possessed of a considerable number of horses.[339]

Jean de Samford, Archbishop of Dublin, administered the affairs of the colony until 1290, when he was succeeded by Sir William de Vesci, a Yorkshire man, and a royal favourite.

In 1289 Carbry O'Melaghlin possessed a considerable amount of power in Meath, and was therefore extremely obnoxious to the English settlers. An army was collected to overthrow his government, headed by Richard Tuite (the Great Baron), and assisted by O'Connor, King of Connaught. They were defeated, and "Tuite, with his kinsmen, and Siccus O'Kelly, were slain."

Immediately after the arrival of the new Lord Justice, a quarrel sprung up between him and FitzGerald, Baron of Offaly. They both appeared before the Council; and if Hollinshed's account may be credited, they used language which would scarcely be tolerated in Billingsgate. FitzGerald proposed an appeal to arms, which was accepted by his adversary. Edward summoned both parties to Westminster. FitzGerald came duly equipped for the encounter, but De Vesci had fled the country. He was, however, acquitted by Parliament, on the ground of informality, and the affair was referred to the royal decision. According to Hollinshed's account, the King observed, that "although de Vesci had conveyed his person to France, he had left his land behind him in Ireland;" and bestowed the lordships of Kildare and Rathangan on his adversary.

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

The English possessions in Ireland at the close of this century consisted of the "Liberties" and ten counties—Dublin, Louth, Kildare, Waterford, Tipperary, Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Roscommon, and part of Connaught. The "Liberties" were those of Connaught and Ulster, under De Burgo; Meath, divided between De Mortimer and De Verdun; Wexford, Carlow, and Kilkenny, under the jurisdiction of the respective representatives of the Marshal heiresses; Thomond, claimed by De Clare; and Desmond, partly controlled by the FitzGeralds. Sir William Davies says: "These absolute palatines made barons and knights; did exercise high justice in all points within their territories; erected courts for criminal and civil cases, and for their own revenues, in the same forms as the King's courts were established at Dublin; made their own judges, sheriffs, coroners, and escheators, so as the King's writ did not run in these counties (which took up more than two parts of the English colonies), but only in the church-lands lying within the same, which were called the 'Cross,' wherein the King made a sheriff; and so in each of these counties-palatine there were two sheriffs, one of the Liberty, and another of the Cross. These undertakers were not tied to any form of plantation, but all was left to their discretion and pleasure; and although they builded castles and made freeholds, yet there were no tenures or services reserved to the crown, but the lords drew all the respect and dependency of the common people unto themselves." Hence the strong objection which the said lords had to the introduction of English law; for had this been accomplished, it would have proved a serious check to their own advancement for the present time, though, had they wisdom to have seen it, in the end it would have proved their best safeguard and consolidated their power. The fact was, these settlers aimed at living like the native princes, oblivious or ignorant of the circumstance, that these princes were as much amenable to law as the lowest of their subjects, and that they governed by a prescriptive right of centuries. If they made war, it was for the benefit of the tribe, not for their individual aggrandizement; if they condemned to death, the sentence should be in accordance with the Brehon law, which the people knew and revered. The settlers owned no law but their own will; and the unhappy people whom they governed could not fail to see that their sole object was their own benefit, and to obtain an increase of territorial possessions at any cost.

On the lands thus plundered many native septs existed, whom neither war nor famine could quite exterminate. Their feelings towards the new lord of the soil can easily be understood; it was a feeling of open hostility, of which they made no secret. They considered the usurper's claim unjust; and to deprive him of the possessions which he had obtained by force or fraud, was the dearest wish of their hearts.

This subject should be very carefully considered and thoroughly understood, for much, if not all, of the miseries which Ireland has endured, have arisen from the fatal policy pursued at this period. How could the Celt be loyal to the Anglo-Norman, who lived only to oppress him, to drive him from his ancestral home, and then to brand him with the foul name of rebel, if he dared resist? Had he not resisted, he would have been branded with a worse name—a coward.

Such portions of the country as lay outside the land of which the Anglo-Normans had possessed themselves, were called "marches." These were occupied by troops of natives, who continually resisted the aggressions of the invader, always anxious to add to his territory. These troops constantly made good reprisals for what had been taken, by successful raids on the castle or the garrison. Fleet-footed, and well aware of every spot which would afford concealment, these hardy Celts generally escaped scot-free. Thus occupied for several centuries, they acquired a taste for this roving life; and they can scarcely be reproached for not having advanced in civilization with the age, by those who placed such invincible obstacles to their progress.[340]

The most important royal castles, after Dublin, were those of Athlone, Roscommon, and Randown. They were governed by a constable, and supplied by a garrison paid out of the revenues of the colony. The object of these establishments was to keep down the natives, who were accordingly taxed to keep the garrisons. The people quite understood this, and it was not an additional motive for loyalty. The battlements of the castle were generally adorned with a grim array of ghastly skulls, the heads of those who had been slain in the warfare so constantly going on. But the attempt to strike terror into the Irish utterly failed, and new candidates passed into the ranks. How, indeed, could they die more gloriously than in the service of their country?

The royal cities held charters direct from the crown of England. These cities were Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, and Cork. Some idea has already been given of the streets and the size of Dublin. The Castle was the most important building, at least to the civil portion of the community. It contained within its walls a chapel, a jail, and a mill—characteristic of the age. The mill was styled the "King's Mill." The chaplains had each an annual salary of fifty shillings—not an insufficient provision, if we calculate that the penny then was nearly the same value as the shilling now; moreover, they had two shillings each for wax, and probably fees besides. The chapel was under the patronage of St. Thomas of Canterbury, who, when he had been martyred, sent to heaven, and could give no more inconvenient reproofs, stood very high in royal favour. The Castle was partly encompassed by a moat, called the "Castlegripe;" the walls were fortified with bastions, and had various gates, towers, and narrow entrances, which were defended by strong doors and portcullises. The chief communication with the city was by a drawbridge on the southern side of Castle-street. Rolls of the fourteenth century exhibit disbursements for repairs, ropes, bolts, and rings, from which we gather that everything was kept ready for immediate service.

The hostages which were exacted from the Anglo-Norman lords, as well as from the Irish chieftains, were kept in the Castle at their own expense. They can hardly have found their position very pleasant, as at any moment they might be called on to submit to the operation of having their eyes put out, or to be hanged. The judges and other officials held their courts in the Castle. In the Court of Exchequer the primitive method of using counters for calculating[341] was still continued. These were laid in rows upon the "chequered" cloth which covered the table. Square hazel rods, notched[342] in a particular manner, styled tallies and counter-tallies, were employed as vouchers.

The Red Book of the Exchequer contains a curious sketch of "the Exchequer of the King of England in Dublin." Six officers of the court are at the top; to the left, three judges; to the right, three suitors; a sheriff is seated at the bottom. The crier is in the act of adjourning the court, exclaiming "a demain," showing that even in Ireland Norman-French was still the language of law, and probably of courtesy. The officer to the left, supposed to be the Second Remembrancer, holds a parchment containing the words, "Preceptum fuit Vice-comiti, per breve hujus Scaccarii." The Chief Remembrancer occupies himself with a pen and an Exchequer roll, commencing "Memorandum quod X deg. die Maij," &c.; while the Clerk of the Pipe prepares a writ, placed on his left knee, his foot resting on the table. The Marshal of the Exchequer addresses the usher, and holds a document inscribed, "Exiit breve Vice-comiti." One of the judges exclaims, "Soient forfez;" another, "Voyr dire." On the chequered-covered table, before the judges, are the Red Book, a bag with rolls, the counters used for computation, and a document commencing with the words, "Ceo vous," &c. The sheriff sits at the bottom, wearing the leathern cap used by such officers when their accounts were under examination in the Exchequer. Three suitors stand at the right side of the picture. One, with uplifted hand, says, "Oz de brie;" another, extending his arm, cries, "Chalange;" the third, with sword at his side, laced boots, and ample sleeves, holds the thumb of his left hand between the fore and middle finger of his right, and exclaims, "Soite oughte." Thus affording us an interesting and truthful picture of a law court in the fourteenth century.

The crown revenues and customs were frequently pawned out to associations of Italian money-lenders; and the "Ricardi" of Lucca, and "Frescobaldi" of Florence, had agents in the principal towns in Ireland. The royal treasure was deposited in the Castle, in a coffer with three locks. The keys were confided to different persons, and no payment could be made unless the three were present; still, as might be expected from men, the sole object of whose lives appears to have been to enrich themselves at the expense of others, the accounts were not always satisfactory. Even the Viceroys were accused of conniving at and sharing in frauds, notwithstanding the salary of L500 per annum and their other emoluments, with the permission to levy provisions of all kinds for "the king's price," which was far below the current value.

The Castle garrison consisted of archers and halberdiers; the Constable, Warders, and Guardian of Works and Supplies, being the principal officers. The Constable was generally a nobleman of high rank, and received an annual salary[343] of L18 5s.

It will be remembered that Sir John Wogan had been appointed Viceroy at the close of the thirteenth century. He brought about a two years' truce between the Geraldines and Burkes (De Burgos), and then summoned a Parliament at Kilkenny, A.D. 1295. The roll of this Parliament contains only twenty-seven names. Richard, Earl of Ulster, is the first on the list. The principal Acts passed were: one for revising King John's division of the country into counties; another for providing a more strict guard over the marches, so as to "keep out the Irish." The Irish were not permitted to have any voice in the settlement of the affairs, of their country, and it was a rebellious symptom if they demurred. Nevertheless, in 1303, King Edward was graciously pleased to accept the services of Irish soldiers, in his expedition against Scotland. It is said that, in 1299, his army was composed principally of Welsh and Irish, and that on this occasion they were royally feasted at Roxburgh Castle.

The O'Connors of Offaly were for nearly two centuries the most heroic, and therefore the most dangerous, of the "Irish enemies." Maurice O'Connor Faly and his brother, Calvagh, were the heads of the sept. The latter had obtained the soubriquet of "the Great Rebel," from his earnest efforts to free his country. He had defeated the English in a battle, in which Meiller de Exeter and several others were slain; he had taken the Castle of Kildare; therefore, as he could not be taken himself by fair means, treachery was employed.

The chiefs of Offaly were invited to dinner on Trinity Sunday, A.D. 1315, by Sir Pierce MacFeorais (Peter Bermingham). As they rose up from table they were cruelly massacred, one by one, with twenty-four of their followers. This black deed took place at Bermingham's own Castle of Carbury,[344] county Kildare. Bermingham was arraigned before King Edward, but no justice was ever obtained for this foul murder.

In the year 1308, Piers Gaveston, the unworthy favourite of Edward II., was appointed Viceroy. The English barons had long been disgusted by his insolence, and jealous of his influence. He was banished to France—or rather a decree to that effect was issued—but Ireland was substituted, for it was considered a banishment to be sent to that country. Gaveston, with his usual love of display, was attended by a magnificent suite, and commenced his Viceroyalty in high state. He was accompanied by his wife, Marguerite, who was closely connected with the royal family.

The Templars had been suppressed and plundered by royal command; but though this evil deed was accomplished without much trouble, there were Irish clans whose suppression was not so easily effected. The O'Tooles and O'Briens, styled by the Anglo-Normans "les Ototheyles et les Obrynnes," stood their ground so well, that they had put the late Viceroy to flight this very year, and promised some active employment for his successor.

Edward appears to have had apprehensions as to the kind of reception his favourite was likely to receive from the powerful Earl of Ulster; he therefore wrote him a special letter, requesting his aid and counsel for the Viceroy. But De Burgo knew his own power too well; and instead of complying with the royal request, he marched off to Drogheda, and then to Trim, where he employed himself in giving sumptuous entertainments, and conferring the honour of knighthood on his adherents. The favourite was recalled to England at the end of a year. Edward had conducted him to Bristol, on his way to Ireland; he now went to meet him at Chester, on his return. Three years later he paid the forfeit of his head for all these condescensions.

In 1309 De Wogan was again appointed Governor. The exactions of the nobles had risen to such a height, that some of their number began to fear the effects would recoil on themselves. High food rates and fearful poverty then existed, in consequence of the cruel exactions of the Anglo-Normans on their own dependents. They lived frequently in their houses, and quartered their soldiers and followers on them, without offering them the smallest remuneration. A statute was now made which pronounced these proceedings "open robbery," and accorded the right of suit in such cases to the crown. But this enactment could only be a dead letter. We have already seen how the crown dealt with the most serious complaints of the natives; and even had justice been awarded to the complainant, the right of eviction was in the hands of the nearest noble, and the unfortunate tenant would have his choice between starvation in the woods or marauding on the highways, having neither the dernier resort of a workhouse or emigration in that age.

The Viceroy had abundant occupation suppressing the feuds both of the Irish and the colonists. Civil war raged in Thomond, but the quarrels between the Anglo-Norman settlers in the same province, appear to have been more extensive and less easily appeased. In a note to the Annals of Clonmacnois, MacGeoghegan observes, that "there reigned more dissentions, strife, warrs, and debates between the Englishmen themselves, in the beginning of the conquest of this kingdome, than between the Irishmen; as by perusing the warrs between the Lacies of Meath, John Coursey, Earle of Ulster, William Marshal, and the English of Meath and Munster, Mac Gerald, the Burke, Butler, and Cogan, may appear."

The famous invasion of Ireland by Bruce took place on the 16th of May, A.D. 1315. On that day Edward landed on the coast of Ulster, near Carrickfergus, with six thousand men. He was attended by the heroes of Bannockburn; and as a considerable number of native forces soon joined them, the contingent was formidable. Although a few of the Irish had assisted Edward II. in his war against Scotch independence, the sympathies of the nation were with the cause of freedom; and they gladly hailed the arrival of those who had delivered their own country, hoping they would also deliver Ireland. It was proposed that Edward Bruce should be made King of Ireland. The Irish chieftain, Donnell O'Neill, King of Ulster, in union with the other princes of the province, wrote a spirited but respectful remonstrance to the Holy See, on the part of the nation, explaining why they were anxious to transfer the kingdom to Bruce.

In this document the remonstrants first state, simply and clearly, that the Holy Father was deceived; that they were persuaded his intentions were pure and upright; and that his Holiness only knew the Irish through the misrepresentations of their enemies. They state their wish "to save their country from foul and false imputations," and to give a correct idea of their state. They speak, truthfully and mournfully, "of the sad remains of a kingdom, which has groaned so long beneath the tyranny of English kings, of their ministers and their barons;" and they add, "that some of the latter, though born in the island, continued to exercise the same extortions, rapine, and cruelties, as their ancestors inflicted." They remind the Pontiff that "it is to Milesian princes, and not to the English, that the Church is indebted for those lands and possessions of which it has been stripped by the sacrilegious cupidity of the English." They boldly assert "it was on the strength of false statements" that Adrian transferred the sovereignty of the country to Henry II, "the probable murderer of St. Thomas a Becket." Details are then given of English oppression, to some of which we have already referred. They state the people have been obliged to take refuge, "like beasts, in the mountains, in the woods, marshes, and caves. Even there we are not safe. They envy us these desolate abodes." They contrast the engagements made by Henry to the Church, and his fair promises, with the grievous failure in their fulfilment. They give clear details of the various enactments made by the English, one of which merits special attention, as an eternal refutation of the false and base charge against the Irish of having refused to accept English laws, because they were a lawless race. They state (1) "that no Irishman who is not a prelate can take the law against an Englishman, but every Englishman may take the law against an Irishman." (2) That any Englishman may kill an Irishman, "falsely and perfidiously, as often happened, of whatsoever rank, innocent or guilty, and yet he cannot be brought before the English tribunals; and further, that the English murderer can seize the property of his victim." When such was the state of Ireland, as described calmly in an important document still extant, we cannot be surprised that the people eagerly sought the slightest hope of redress, or the merest chance of deliverance from such oppression.[345] In conclusion, the Irish princes inform his Holiness, "that in order to obtain their object the more speedily and securely, they had invited the gallant Edward Bruce, to whom, being descended from their most noble ancestors, they had transferred, as they justly might, their own right of royal domain."

A few years later Pope John wrote a letter to Edward III., in which he declares that the object of Pope Adrian's Bull had been entirely neglected, and that the "most unheard-of miseries and persecutions had been inflicted on the Irish." He recommends that monarch to adopt a very different policy, and to remove the causes of complaint, "lest it might be too late hereafter to apply a remedy, when the spirit of revolt had grown stronger."

The accounts of Bruce's Irish campaign have not been very clearly given. The Four Masters mention it briefly, notwithstanding its importance; the fullest account is contained in the Annals of Clonmacnois, which agree with the Annals of Connaught. Dundalk, Ardee, and some other places in the north, were taken in rapid succession, and a good supply of victuals and wine was obtained from the former place. The Viceroy, Sir Edmund le Botiller, marched to attack the enemy; but the proud Earl of Ulster refused his assistance, and probably the Justiciary feared to offend him by offering to remain. Meanwhile, Felim, King of Connaught, who had hitherto been an ally of the Red Earl, came over to the popular side; and the English forces suffered a defeat at Connor, in which William de Burgo and several knights were taken prisoners. This battle was fought on the 10th of September, according to Grace's Annals, and the battle of Dundalk on the 29th of July.

After the battle of Connor, the Earl of Ulster fled to Connaught, where he remained a year; the remainder of his forces shut themselves up in Carrickfergus. Bruce was proclaimed King of Ireland, and marched southward to pursue his conquests. The Earl of Moray was sent to Edinburgh to invite King Robert over, and the Scotch armies prepared to spend the winter with the De Lacys in Westmeath.

When the Christmas festivities were concluded, Bruce again took the field, and defeated the Viceroy at Ardscull, in the co. Kildare, In the month of February some of the chief nobles of the English colony met in Dublin, and signed a manifesto, in which they denounced the traitorous conduct of the Scotch enemy, in trying to wrest Ireland from their Lord, "Monsieur Edward," taking special care to herald forth their own praises for loyalty, and to hint at the compensation which might be required for the same.

But the Irish were again their own enemies; and to their miserable dissensions, though it can never justify the cruelties of their oppressors, must be attributed most justly nearly all their misfortunes. Had the Irish united against the invaders, there can be no doubt that, with the assistance of the Scotch army, they would have obtained a complete and glorious victory, though it may be doubtful whether any really beneficial results would have accrued to the country should disunion continue. When Felim O'Connor joined Bruce, Rory O'Connor and his clan commenced depredations on his territory. Felim returned to give him battle, and defeated him with terrible slaughter. Thus men and time were lost in useless and ignoble strife. Rory was slain in this engagement—a fate he richly merited; and Felim was once more free to fight for his country. He was joined by the O'Briens of Thomond, and they marched together to attack Athenry, which was defended by Burke and Bermingham. A fierce conflict ensued. The Irish fought with their usual valour; but English coats-of-mail were proof against their attacks, and English cross-bows mowed down their ranks.

The brave young Felim was slain, with 11,000 of his followers; and the Irish cause was irretrievably injured, perhaps more by the death of the leader than by the loss of the men. This disaster took place on the 10th of August, 1316.

Still the Irish were not daunted. The O'Tooles and O'Byrnes rose in Wicklow, the O'Mores in Leix. Robert Bruce came over to Ireland. The Franciscan friars, always devoted to their country, made themselves specially obnoxious by encouraging their countrymen to die in defence of their country. They were threatened and cajoled by turns, but with little effect.[346] Edward Bruce again appeared before Carrickfergus. The siege was protracted until September, when Robert Bruce arrived, and found the English so hard pressed, that they ate hides, and fed on the bodies of eight Scots whom they had made prisoners.[347] In the year 1317, the Scottish army was computed at 20,000 men, besides their Irish auxiliaries. After Shrovetide, King Robert and his brother crossed the Boyne, and marched to Castleknock, near Dublin, where they took Hugh Tyrrell prisoner, and obtained possession of the fortress. There was no little fear in Dublin Castle thereupon, for the Anglo-Normans distrusted each other. And well they might. The De Lacys had solemnly pledged their fidelity, yet they were now found under the standard of Bruce. Even De Burgo was suspected; for his daughter, Elizabeth, was the wife of the Scottish King. When the invading army approached Dublin, he was seized and confined in the Castle. It will be remembered that Dublin had been more than once peopled by the citizens of Bristol. They were naturally in the English interest, and disposed to offer every resistance. They fortified Dublin so strongly, even at the expense of burning the suburbs and pulling down churches, that Bruce deemed it more prudent to avoid an encounter, and withdrew towards the Salmon Leap; from whence he led his forces southward as far as Limerick, without encountering any serious opposition.

But a reverse was even then at hand. An Anglo-Irish army was formed, headed by the Earl of Kildare; famine added its dangers; and on the 1st of May Robert Bruce returned to Scotland, leaving his brother, Edward, with the Earl of Moray, to contend, as best they could, against the twofold enemy. In 1318 a good harvest relieved the country in some measure from one danger; two Cardinals were despatched from Rome to attempt to release it from the other. On the 14th October, in the same year, the question was finally decided. An engagement took place at Faughard, near Dundalk. On the one side was the Scotch army, headed by Bruce, and assisted (from what motive it is difficult to determine) by the De Lacys and other Anglo-Norman lords; on the other side, the English army, commanded by Lord John Bermingham. The numbers on each side have been differently estimated; but it is probable the death of Edward Bruce was the turning point of the conflict. He was slain by a knight named John Maupas, who paid for his valour with his life. Bermingham obtained the Earldom of Louth and the manor of Ardee as a reward for Bruce's head; and the unfortunate Irish were left to their usual state of chronic resistance to English oppression. The head of the Scottish chieftain was "salted in a chest," and placed unexpectedly, with other heads, at a banquet, before Edward II. The English King neither swooned nor expressed surprise; but the Scotch ambassadors, who were present, rushed horror-stricken from the apartment. The King, however, was "right blyth," and glad to be delivered so easily of a "felon foe." John de Lacy and Sir Robert de Coulragh, who had assisted the said "felon," paid dearly for their treason; and as they were Anglo-Normans, and subjects of the English crown, the term was justly applied to them, however cruel the sentence. They were starved to death in prison, "on three morsels of the worst bread, and three draughts of foul water on alternate days, until life became extinct."

Since this chapter was written, Mr. O'Flanagan has kindly presented me with his valuable History of Dundalk, from which I am permitted to make the following extracts, which throw much additional light upon the subject:—[348]

"'In the ninth year of King Edward's reign,' writes Hollinshed, 'Edward Bruce, brother to Robert Bruce, King of Scots, entered the north part of Ireland, with 6,000 men. There were with him divers captains of high renown among the Scottish nation, of whom were these:—The Earls of Murray and Monteith, the Lord John Stewart, the Lord John Campbell, the Lord Thomas Randolf, Fergus of Ardrossan, John Wood, and John Bisset. They landed near to Cragfergus, in Ulster, and joining with the Irish (a large force of whom was led out by Fellim, son of Hugh O'Conor). Thus assisted, he conquered the Earldom of Ulster, and gave the English there divers great overthrows, took the town of Dundalk, spoiled and burned it, with a great part of Orgiel. They burned churches and abbeys, with the people whom they found in the same, sparing neither man, woman, nor child. Then was the Lord Butler chosen Lord Justice, who made the Earl of Ulster and the Geraldines friends, and reconciled himself with Sir John Mandeville, thus seeking to preserve the residue of the realm which Edward Bruce meant wholly to conquer, having caused himself to be crowned King of Ireland.'

"Dundalk was heretofore the stronghold of the English power, and the head-quarters of the army for the defence of the Pale. At the north, as Barbour preserves in his metrical history of Robert Bruce:

"'At Kilsaggart Sir Edward lay, And wellsom he has heard say That at Dundalk was assembly Made of the lords of that country.'

"It was not, however, within this town that the ceremony of Bruce's coronation took place, but, according to the best avouched tradition, on the hill of Knock-na-Melin, at half a mile's distance.

"Connaught the while was torn with dissensions and family feuds, of which availing himself, 'the Lord Justice' (to resume the narrative of Hollinshed) 'assembled a great power out of Munster and Leinster, and other parts thereabouts; and the Earl of Ulster, with another army, came in unto him near unto Dundalk. There they consulted together how to deal in defending the country against the enemies; but, hearing the Scots were withdrawn back, the Earl of Ulster followed them, and, fighting with them at "Coiners," he lost the field. There were many slain on both parts; and William de Burgh, the Earl's brother, Sir John Mandeville, and Sir Alan FitzAlan were taken prisoners.' Bruce's adherents afterwards ravaged other parts of the Pale, Meath, Kildare, &c., but met with much, resistance. At length 'Robert le Bruce, King of Scots, came over himself, landed at Cragfergus, to the aid of his brother, whose soldiers most wickedly entered into churches, spoiling and defacing the same of all such tombs, monuments, plate, copes, and other ornaments which they found and might lay hands on.' Ultimately 'the Lord John Bermingham, being general of the field, and having with him divers captains of worthy fame, namely—Sir Richard Tuiyte, Sir Miles Verdon, Sir John Cusack, Sirs Edmund, and William, and Walter Bermingham, the Primate of Armagh, Sir Walter de la Pulle, and John Maupas (with some choice soldiers from Drogheda), led forth the King's power to the number of 1,324 able men, against Edward Bruce, who had, with his adherents (the Lord Philip Moubray, the Lord Walter Soulis, the Lord Allan Stuart, with three brothers, Sir Walter Lacy, Sir Robert and Aumar Lacy, John Kermerelyn, Walter White, and about 3,000 others, writes Pembridge), encamped, not two miles from Dundalk, with 3,000 men, there abiding the Englishmen to fight with them if they came forward, which they did with all convenient speed, being as desirous to give battle as the Scots were to receive it. The Primate of Armagh, personally accompanying the English power, and blessing the enterprise, gave them such comfortable exhortation as he thought served the time ere they began to encounter, and herewith buckling together, at length the Scots fully and wholly were vanquished, and 2,000 of them slain, together with the Captain, Edward Bruce. Maupas, that pressed into the throng to encounter with Bruce hand to hand, was found, in the search, dead, aloft upon the slain body of Bruce. The victory thus obtained, upon St. Calixtus' day, made an end of the Scottish kingdom in Ireland; and Lord Bermingham, sending the head of Bruce into England, presented it to King Edward, who, in recompense, gave him and his heirs male the Earldom of Louth, and the Baronies of Ardee and Athenry to him and his heirs general for ever,' as hereafter noticed.

"'Edward Bruce,' say the Four Masters, 'a man who spoiled Ireland generally, both English and Irish, was slain by the English, by force of battle and bravery, at Dundalk; and MacRory, Lord of the Hebrides, MacDonell, Lord of the Eastern Gael (in Antrim), and many others of the Albanian or Scottish chiefs were also slain; and no event occurred in Ireland for a long period from which so much benefit was derived as that, for a general famine prevailed in the country during the three years and a half he had been in it, and the people were almost reduced to the necessity of eating each other.' Edward Bruce was, however, unquestionably a man of great spirit, ambition, and bravery, but fiery, rash, and impetuous, wanting that rare combination of wisdom and valour which so conspicuously marked the character of his illustrious brother.

"During the sojourn of Edward Bruce in this kingdom, he did much to retard the spread of English rule. Having for allies many of the northern Irish, whose chieftain, O'Neill, invited him to be King over the Gael in Ireland, and whose neighbourhood to the Scottish coast made them regard his followers as their fellow-countrymen, he courted them on all occasions, and thus the Irish customs of gossipred and fostering—preferring the Brehon laws to statute law, whether enacted at Westminster or by the Parliaments of the Pale—destroyed all traces of the rule which the English wished to impose upon the province of Ulster. Many of the English settlers—Hugh de Lacy, John Lord Bissett, Sir Hugh Bissett, and others—openly took part with Bruce.

"The eastern shores of Ulster, Spenser informs us, previous to Bruce's arrival, bounded a well-inhabited and prosperous English district, having therein the good towns of Knockfergus, Belfast, Armagh, and Carlingford; but in process of time became 'outbounds and abandoned places in the English Pale.' According to the metrical history of Barbour, Edward Bruce was by no means disposed to continue a subject, while his brother reigned King; and, though Robert conferred his hereditary Earldom of Carrick upon him, it by no means satisfied his ambitious projects:—

"'The Erle of Carrick, Schyr Eduward, That stouter was than a libbard, And had na will to be in pess, Thoucht that Scotland to litill was Till his brother and hym alsua, Therefor to purpose he gav ta That he of Irland wold be king.'

"Shortly after his landing at Carrickfergus he proceeded towards the Pale. Dundalk, then the principal garrison within the Pale, had all the Englishry of the country assembled in force to defend it, when the Scots proceeded to the attack, 'with banners all displayit.' The English sent out a reconnoitering party, who brought back the cheering news, the Scots would be but 'half a dinner' to them. This dinner, however, was never eaten. The town was stormed with such vigour that the streets flowed with the blood of the defenders; and such as could escape fled with the utmost precipitancy, leaving their foes profusion of victuals and great abundance of wine. This assault took place 29th June, 1315. It was upon this success the Scots crowned Edward Bruce King of Ireland, on the hill of Knocknamelan, near Dundalk, in the same simple national manner in which his brother had been inaugurated at Scone.

"The new monarch, however, was not disposed to rest inactive, and his troops had many skirmishes with Richard de Burgh, called the Red Earl of Ulster, who drove them as far as Coleraine. There they were in great distress; and they would have suffered much from hunger and want, had not a famous pirate, Thomas of Down, or Thomas Don, sailed up the Bann and set them free. De Burgh's army were supplied with provisions from a distance; and one of Bruce's famous leaders, named Randolph, Earl of Murray, who commanded the left wing at Bannockburn, having surprised the convoy on its way to De Burgh's camp, equipped his men in the clothes of the escort, advanced at dusk with his cavalry, and the banner of the English flaunting in the night wind. A large party of De Burgh's force, perceiving, as they thought, the approach of the expected provisions, advanced unguardedly to drive off the cattle, when they were vigorously assailed by the Scots, shouting their war-cry, and they were chased back with the loss of a thousand slain. De Burgh's army included all the chivalry of Ireland—that is, the English portion, viz.:—'The Butlers, earls two, of Kildare and Desmond; Byrnhame (Bermingham), Widdan (Verdon), and FitzWaryne, and Schyr Paschall off Florentyne, a Knight of Lombardy; with the Mandvillas, Bissetts, Logans, Savages, and Schyr Nycholl off Kilkenave.' The Ulster Journal thinks this list of Barbour's incorrect; certainly Sir Edmond Butler was not among them, nor probably either of the Geraldine lords. Some lords of Munster, however, were present—Power, Baron of Donisle; Sir George Lord Roche, and Sir Roger Hollywood, of county Meath.

"On the 10th September, A.D. 1315, De Burgh, being reinforced, marched to attack Bruce's position; but the Scots, leaving their banners flying to deceive the Anglo-Irish, fell upon their flank and gained the victory. This gave them Coleraine; and next day they bore off a great store of corn, flour, wax, and wine, to Carrickfergus.

"This success gave to the Gael of the north an opportunity of declaring their exultation. Bruce, whose royal authority was previously confined to his Scottish troops, was proclaimed King of Ireland, and addressed as such.

"He then sent the Earl of Murray to Edinburgh, where the King of Scotland kept his court, entreating him to join him in Ireland.

"'For war thai both in to that land Thai suld find nane culd thaim withstand.'

"Robert gladly promised compliance, but was for some time prevented by the exigencies of his own kingdom. Murray returned with a small reinforcement, but 500 men, and landed at Dundalk, where Edward Bruce met him. This was in the December of 1315.

"In January, 1316, Edward Bruce led his forces into the county of Kildare, and was stoutly opposed by the Lord Justiciary, or Viceroy, Sir Edward Butler, who, backed by the Geraldines, under John Fitzgerald, first Earl of Kildare, bravely repulsed the invaders. They retreated with the loss of Sir Walter Murray and Sir Fergus of Ardrossan, with seventy men, as Clyn records. A new ally for the Palesmen arrived at this juncture—Mortimer, Lord of Meath, in right of his wife, Joan de Joinville. He assembled a large force, and endeavoured to intercept the Scots at Kells, but, on the eve of the onset, was deserted by the Lacys and others, who left him almost defenceless. The season and scarcity made war against the Scots, and vast numbers perished from hunger. Bruce was forced to retreat once more northward, where his chief adherents lay. The citadel of Carrickfergus resisted the attacks of Bruce's army for a year. It was in this town that (probably in September, 1316) Robert, King of Scotland, with a strong force, came to his brother's help. Barbour gives the number who accompanied Robert at 5,000. This was enough to make the Viceroy take heed for his government. He hasted, Barbour says:

"'To Dewellyne, in full gret by, With othyr lordis that fled him by, And warnysit both castyls and towness That war in their possessionnys.'

"The stout defence of Dublin is already mentioned; and, as on the fate of this metropolis the duration of English rule depended in Ireland, the public spirit and intrepidity of the citizens of Dublin ought, according to Lord Hailes, be held in perpetual remembrance. The citizens took the defence of the city into their own hands. The chief civic dignity was at that time most worthily borne by Robert Nottingham, who seems to have distanced the celebrated Sir Richard Whittington considerably, being seventeen times Mayor of Dublin. Knowing the close connexion between the Earl of Ulster and the Bruces (he was father of the Queen of Scots), the Mayor headed a strong band of citizens, and resolved to make him a hostage for the safety of the city. This was not effected without loss of life. The Mayor succeeded, and announced 'he would put the earl to death if the city was attacked.' This prompt step had the desired effect. Robert Bruce feared to risk his father-in-law's life, and, instead of entering the city, turned aside and encamped. Time was gained, of which the citizens promptly availed themselves. That night the blazing suburbs told they were ready to anticipate the fire of Moscow, rather than allow their invaders to possess their capital. They also worked so hard to strengthen the walls, that the Scots, seeing such determination, broke up their camp and retired. The value set upon the earl as a hostage was so great, that, although the King of England instantly wrote for his liberation, he was detained until the Scots left the kingdom.

"Disappointed in their efforts on Dublin, the Scots ravaged the Pale, burned Naas, plundered Castledermot, passed on to Gowran, and advanced to Callan; thence they went to Limerick. Sir Edmond Butler followed with an army of 30,000 well-armed men; but, at the express desire of Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, the Lord Deputy, who was himself desirous of having the command against the King of Scots, delayed the encounter.

"Mortimer did not accomplish this; for, shortly after, Robert hastened to his own kingdom, leaving a great number of his bravest knights to carry on the war for his brother. Edward continued in the north for several months, and once more proceeded south.

"'For he had not then in that land Of all men, I trow, two thousand, Owtane (except) the Kings of Irischery That in great route raid him by, Towart Dundalk he tuk the way.'

"When the Viceroy was aware of the advance of the Scots towards the Pale, he assembled a great army, said to amount to '20,000 trappit horse,' and an equal number of foot.

"The approach of this immensely superior force did not dishearten the brother of the lion-hearted King of Scotland. He declared he would fight were they sixfold more numerous.

"In vain his officers and allies counselled caution; in vain the Irish chiefs recommended him to avoid a pitched battle, and harass the enemy by skirmishing. Edward indignantly bade them 'draw aside, and look on,' which Barbour declares they did. A very interesting account on the battle on St. Callixtus' day is given in the Ulster Archaeological Journal. The battle was on Sunday, 14th October, 1318. According to Barbour, Edward Bruce had a presentiment of his death, and would not use his usual coat-armour. The legend is, that having the idea the fall of King Edward Bruce would decide the battle, Sir John Bermingham, leader of the Anglo-Irish army, disguised himself as a friar, passed into the Scottish camp, and, being shown the king, who was hearing Mass, craved alms, so as to induce Bruce to look up from his prayer-book. This gave Bermingham the opportunity of marking well his face, in order to single him out in the fray. The king ordered relief to be given to the importunate friar; but the eager glance of the intrusive applicant so disquieted him—agitated, doubtless, from the idea of his small force being about to engage at such desperate odds—that he presently caused the attendants to look for the friar, but he was nowhere to be found. This caused him to array one Gib Harper in his armour, and appoint Lord Alan Stewart general of the field. The fight commenced with a rapid charge on the Scots by the Anglo-Irish under Bermingham. With him were divers lords and a great army. The force was chiefly composed, however, of yeomanry, or, as an ancient record says, 'the common people, with a powerful auxiliary dextram Dei.' Bermingham, believing Lord Stewart was Bruce, singled him out, and, after a terrible combat, slew him, whereon the Scots fled. According to the Howth Chronicle, few escaped, their loss being 1,230 men. Bruce's death is generally ascribed to John Mapas, one of the Drogheda contingent. The Ulster Journal states:—'There can be little doubt that the ancient Anglo-Irish family of "Mape," of Maperath, in the shire of Meath, was descended from this distinguished slayer of Edward Bruce.' The heiress of John Mapas, Esq., of Rochestown, county of Dublin, was married to the late Richard Wogan Talbot, Esq., of Malahide. After the defeat at Dundalk, the small remnant of the Scottish invaders yet alive fled northward, where they met a body of troops sent by King Robert as a reinforcement to his brother. They could not make head against the victorious troops of Bermingham, so they made their way to the coast, burning and destroying the country through which they passed."


[337] Crime.—We really must enter a protest against the way in which Irish history is written by some English historians. In Wright's History of Ireland we find the following gratuitous assertion offered to excuse De Clare's crime: "Such a refinement of cruelty must have arisen from a suspicion of treachery, or from some other grievous offence with which we are not acquainted." If all the dark deeds of history are to be accounted for in this way, we may bid farewell to historical justice. And yet this work, which is written in the most prejudiced manner, has had a far larger circulation in Ireland than Mr. Haverty's truthful and well-written history. When Irishmen support such works, they must not blame their neighbours across the Channel for accepting them as truthful histories.

[338] Shooting.—Four Masters, vol. iii. p. 435. These champions appear to have been very famous. They are mentioned in the Annals of Ulster and in the Annals of Clonmacnois, with special commendations for their skill. The following year O'Dowda was killed by Adam Cusack. It is hoped that he is not the same person as "the Cusack" whom he had assisted just before.

[339] Horses.—As votaries of the turf maybe interested in knowing the appellations of equine favourites in the thirteenth century, we subjoin a sample of their names: Lynst, Jourdan, Feraunt de Trim, Blanchard de Londres, Connetable, Obin the Black, &c.

[340] Progress.—The following passage is taken from a work published a few years ago. It is not a work of any importance, but it had some circulation in its day; and like many other works then published, was calculated to do immense mischief, by quoting the false statements of Cambrensis as authority, and by giving grotesque sketches of Irish character, which were equally untrue. The writer says: "They [the Irish chieftains] opposed the introduction of English law, because they had a direct interest in encouraging murder and theft." The fact was, as we have shown, that the Irish did their best to obtain the benefit of English law; but the English nobles who ruled Ireland would not permit it, unquestionably "because they had a direct interest encouraging murder and theft."

[341] Calculating.—We derived the word from calculus, a white stone, the Romans having used small white stones for arithmetical purposes. Probably they taught this custom to the aboriginal English, whose descendants retained it long after.

[342] Notched.—Quite as primitive an arrangement as the quipus, and yet used in a condition of society called civilized.

[343] Salary.—The value may be estimated by the current price of provisions: cows from 5s. to 13s. 4d. each; heifers, 3s. 4d. to 5s.; sheep, 8d. to 1s.; ordinary horses, 13s. 4d. to 40s.; pigs, 1s. 6d. to 2s.; salmon, 6d. each; wheat, corn, and malt varied with the produce of the season. Most of the details given above have been taken from Mr. Gilbert's Viceroys.

[344] Carbury.—Extensive ruins still mark the site.

[345] Oppression.—The original Latin is preserved by Fordun. Translations may be found in the Abbe MacGeoghegan's History of Ireland, p. 323, and in Plowden's Historical Review. We append one clause, in which these writers complain of the corruption of manners produced by intercourse with the English settlers: "Quod sancta et columbina ejus simplicitas, ex eorum cohabitatione et exemplo reprobo, in serpentinam calliditatem mirabiliter est mutata."

[346] Effect.—See Theiner, Vet. Man. Hiber. et Scot. p. 188, for the efforts made by the Holy See to procure peace. The Pope's letter to Edward III. will be found at p. 206. It is dated Avinione, iii. Kal. Junii, Pontificatus nostri anno secundo.

[347] Prisoners.—Gilbert's Viceroys, p. 138.

[348] Subject.—History of Dundalk, pp. 46-58.


The Butlers—Quarrels of the Anglo-Norman Nobles—Treachery and its Consequences—The Burkes proclaim themselves Irish—Opposition Parliaments—The Statute of Kilkenny and its Effects—Mistakes of English Writers—Social Life in Ireland described by a French Knight—"Banishment" to Ireland—Richard II. visits Ireland.

[A.D. 1326-1402.]

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

The Butler family now appear prominently in Irish history for the first time. It would appear from Carte[349] that the name was originally Walter, Butler being an addition distinctive of office. The family was established in Ireland by Theobald Walter (Gaultier), an Anglo-Norman of high rank, who received extensive grants of land from Henry II., together with the hereditary office of "Pincerna," Boteler, or Butler, in Ireland, to the Kings of England. In this capacity he and his successors were to attend these monarchs at their coronation, and present them, with the first cup of wine. In return they obtained many privileges. On account of the quarrels between this family and the De Burgos, De Berminghams, Le Poers, and the southern Geraldines, royal letters were issued, commanding them, under pain of forfeiture, to desist from warring on each other. The result was a meeting of the factious peers in Dublin, at which they engaged to keep the "King's peace." On the following day they were entertained by the Earl of Ulster; the next day, at St. Patrick's, by Maurice FitzThomas; and the third day by the Viceroy and his fellow Knights Hospitallers, who had succeeded the Templars at Kilmainham. The Earldoms of Ormonde[350] and Desmond were now created. The heads of these families long occupied an important place in Irish affairs. Butler died on his return from a pilgrimage to Compostella, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Jacques—"a liberal, friendly, pleasant, and stately youth"—who was married this year to King Edward's cousin, Eleanor, daughter of the Earl of Essex. The Desmond peerage was created in 1329, when the County Palatine[351] of Kerry was given to that family.

The quarrels of these nobles seemed to have originated, or rather to have culminated, in an insulting speech made by Poer to FitzGerald, whom he designated a "rhymer." The "King's peace" did not last long; and in 1330 the Lord Justice was obliged to imprison both Desmond and Ulster, that being the only method in which they could be "bound over to keep the peace." The following year Sir Anthony de Lucy was sent to Ireland, as he had a reputation for summary justice. He summoned a Parliament in Dublin; but as the barons did not condescend to attend, he adjourned it to Kilkenny. This arrangement also failed to procure their presence. He seized Desmond, who had been placed in the care of the Sheriff of Limerick, and conveyed him to Dublin Castle. Several other nobles were arrested at the same time. Sir William Bermingham was confined with his son in the Keep of Dublin Castle, which still bears his name. He was hanged there soon after. De Lucy was recalled to England, probably in consequence of the indignation which was excited by this execution.[352]

The years 1333 and 1334 were disgraced by fearful crimes, in which the English and Irish equally participated. In the former year the Earl of Ulster seized Walter de Burgo, and starved him to death in the Green Castle of Innishowen. The sister of the man thus cruelly murdered was married to Sir Richard Mandeville, and she urged her husband to avenge her brother's death. Mandeville took the opportunity of accompanying the Earl with some others to hear Mass at Carrickfergus,[353] and killed him as he was fording a stream. The young Earl's death was avenged by his followers, who slew 300 men. His wife, Maud, fled to England with her only child, a daughter, named Elizabeth,[354] who was a year old. The Burkes of Connaught, who were the junior branch of the family, fearing that she would soon marry again, and transfer the property to other hands, immediately seized the Connaught estates, declared themselves independent of English law, and renounced the English language and customs. They were too powerful to be resisted with impunity; and while the ancestor of the Clanrickardes assumed the Irish title of Mac William Oughter, or the Upper, Edmund Burke, the progenitor of the Viscounts of Mayo, took the appellation of Mac William Eighter, or the Lower. This was not the last time when English settlers identified themselves, not merely from policy, but even from inclination, with the race whom they had once hated and oppressed.

In 1334 the English and Irish marched into Munster to attack MacNamara, and added the guilt of sacrilege to their other crimes, by burning a church, with 180 persons and two priests in it, none of whom were permitted to escape. Another outrage was committed by the settlers, who appear to have been quite as jealous of each others property as the Irish clans; for we find that one Edmund Burke drowned another of the same name in Lough Mask, and, as usual a war ensued between the partisans of each family. After a sanguinary struggle, Turlough O'Connor drove the murderer out of the province. But this prince soon after ruined himself by his wickedness. He married Burke's widow, and put away his own lawful wife; from which it may be concluded that he had avenged the crime either from love of this woman, or from a desire to possess himself of her husband's property. His immoral conduct alienated the other chieftains, and after three years' war he was deposed.

Edward had thrown out some hints of an intended visit to Ireland, probably to conceal his real purpose of marching to Scotland. Desmond was released on bail in 1333, after eighteen months' durance, and repaired with some troops to assist the King at Halidon Hill. Soon after we find him fighting in Kerry, while the Earl of Kildare was similarly occupied in Leinster. In 1339 twelve hundred Kerry men were slain in one battle. The Anglo-Norman, FitzNicholas, was among the number of prisoners. He died in prison soon after. This gentleman, on one occasion, dashed into the assize court at Tralee, and killed Dermod, the heir of the MacCarthy More, as he sat with the judge on the bench. As MacCarthy was Irish, the crime was suffered to pass without further notice.

In 1341 Edward took sweeping measures for a general reform of the Anglo-Norman lords, or, more probably, he hoped, by threats of such measures, to obtain subsidies for his continental wars. The colonists, however, were in possession, and rather too powerful to brook such interference. Sir John Morris was sent over to carry the royal plans into execution; but though he took prompt and efficient measures, the affair turned out a complete failure. The lords refused to attend his Parliament, and summoned one of their own, in which they threw the blame of maladministration on the English officials sent over from time to time to manage Irish affairs. They also protested strongly against the new arrangement, which proposed that all the offices then held in Ireland should be filled by Englishmen having no personal interest whatever in Ireland. The certainty that they would have a personal interest in it the very moment there was a chance of bettering their fortunes thereby, appears to have been quite overlooked. The settlers, therefore were allowed to continue their career as before, and felt all the secure for their effectual resistance of the royal interference.

In 1334 Sir Ralph Ufford, who had married Maud Plantagenet, the widow of the Earl of Ulster, was appointed Justiciary of Ireland. He commenced with a high hand, and endeavoured especially to humble the Desmonds. The Earl refused to attend the Parliament, and assembled one of his own at Callan; but the new Viceroy marched into Leinster with an armed force, seized his lands, farmed them out for the benefit of the crown, got possession of the strongholds of Castleisland and Inniskisty in Kerry, and hanged Sir Eustace Poer, Sir William Grant, and Sir John Cottrell, who commanded these places, on the charge of illegal exactions of coigne and livery.[355] The Viceroy also contrived to get the Earl of Kildare into his power; and it is probable that his harsh measures would have involved England in an open war with her colony and its English settlers, had not his sudden death put an end to his summary exercise of justice.

It is said that his wife, Maud, who could scarcely forget the murder of her first husband, urged him on to many of these violent acts; and it was remarked, that though she had maintained a queenly state on her first arrival in Ireland, she was obliged to steal away from that country, with Ufford's remains enclosed in a leaden coffin, in which her treasure was concealed. Her second husband was buried near her first, in the Convent of Poor Clares, at Camposey, near Ufford, in Suffolk.

The Black Death broke out in Ireland in the year 1348. The annalists give fearful accounts of this visitation. It appeared in Dublin first, and so fatal were its effects, that four thousand souls are said to have perished there from August to Christmas. It was remarked that this pestilence attacked the English specially, while the "Irish-born"—particularly those who lived in the mountainous parts of the country—escaped its ravages. We have already mentioned the account of this calamity given by Friar Clynn, who fell a victim to the plague himself, soon after he had recorded his mournful forebodings. Several other pestilences, more or less severe, visited the country at intervals during the next few years.

Lionel, the third son of Edward III., who, it will be remembered, was Earl of Ulster in right of his wife, Isabella, was now appointed Viceroy. He landed in Dublin, on the 15th September, 1360, with an army of one thousand men. From the first moment of his arrival he exercised the most bitter hostility to the Irish, and enhanced the invidious distinction between the English by birth and the English by descent. Long before his arrival, the "mere Irishman" was excluded from the offices of mayor, bailiff, or officer in any town within the English dominions, as well as from all ecclesiastical promotion. Lionel carried matters still further, for he forbid any "Irish by birth to come near his army." But he soon found that he could not do without soldiers, even should they have the misfortune to be Irish; and as a hundred of his best men were killed soon after this insulting proclamation, he was graciously pleased to allow all the King's subjects to assist him in his war against the enemy. He soon found it advisable to make friends with the colonists, and obtained the very substantial offering of two years' revenue of their lands, as a return for his condescension.

In 1367 the Viceroy returned to England, but he was twice again intrusted with office in Ireland. During the last period of his administration, he held the memorable Parliament at Kilkenny, wherein the famous "Statute of Kilkenny" was enacted. This statute is another proof of the fatal policy pursued towards the Irish, and of the almost judicial blindness which appears to have prevented the framers of it, and the rulers of that unfortunate nation, from perceiving the folly or the wickedness of such enactments.

It was a continuance of the old policy. The natives of the country were to be trampled down, if they could not be trampled out; the English and Irish were to be kept for ever separate, and for ever at variance. How, then, could the Irish heart ever beat loyally towards the English sovereign? How could the Irish people ever become an integral portion of the British Empire? Pardon me for directing your attention specially to this statute. It will explain to you that the Irish were not allowed to be loyal; it will excuse them if they have sometimes resented such cruel oppressions by equally cruel massacres and burnings—if they still remembered these wrongs with that statute before them, and the unfortunate fact that its enactments were virtually continued for centuries.

This statute enacts (1) that any alliance with the Irish by marriage, nurture of infants, or gossipred [standing sponsors], should be punishable as high treason; (2) that any man of English race taking an Irish name, or using the Irish language, apparel, or customs, should forfeit all his lands; (3) that to adopt or submit to the Brehon law was treason; (4) that the English should not make war upon the natives without the permission of Government; (5) that the English should not permit the Irish to pasture or graze upon their lands, nor admit them to any ecclesiastical benefices or religious houses, nor entertain their minstrels or rhymers. (6) It was also forbidden to impose or cess any soldiers upon the English subjects against their will, under pain of felony; and some regulations were made to restrain the abuse of sanctuary, and to prevent the great lords from laying heavy burdens upon gentlemen and freeholders.

I shall ask you to consider these statutes carefully; to remember that they were compiled under the direction of a crown prince, and confirmed by the men who had the entire government of Ireland in their hands. The first was an open and gross insult to the natives, who were treated as too utterly beneath their English rulers to admit of their entering into social relations with them. The settlers who had lived some time in the country, were ascertaining every day that its inhabitants were not savages, and that they considered the ties of honour which bound them to those whom they "fostered," or for whom they stood sponsors, as of the most sacred description. Their own safety and interests, if not common feelings of humanity and affection, led them to form these connexions, which were now so ruthlessly denounced. But it led them also to treat the Irish with more respect, and placed them on some sort of social equality with themselves; and this was clearly a crime in the eyes of those who governed the country. The second clause had a similar object, and insulted the deepest feelings of the Celt, by condemning his language, which he loved almost as his life, and his customs, which had been handed down to him by an ancestry which the Anglo-Norman nobles might themselves have envied. The third enactment was an outrage upon common justice. It has been already shown that the Irish were refused the benefit of the English law; you will now see that their own law was forbidden. Some of these laws are at present open to public inspection, and show that the compilers, who wrote immediately after the introduction of Christianity into Ireland, and the original lawgivers, who existed many centuries before the Christian era, were by no means deficient in forensic abilities. Whatever feuds the Irish may have had between their clans, there is every reason to believe that justice was impartially administered long before the English settlement. That it was not so administered after that settlement, the preceding history, nay, even the very subject under discussion, sufficiently proves.

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