AD 400 – 1800


by Mary Frances Cusack 'The Nun of Kenmare' Illustrations by Henry Doyle


First published in 1868.



List of Full-Page Illustrations (Click on the links below to load relevant page)

Table of Contents

(Click on the Chapter Number below to load relevant page)
CHAPTER I. Celtic Literature—Antiquity of our Annals—Moore—How we should
estimate Tradition—The Materials for Irish History—List of the Lost
Books—The Cuilmenn—The Saltair of Tara, &c.—The Saltair of
Cashel—Important MSS. preserved in Trinity College—By the Royal Irish
Academy—In Belgium.
CHAPTER II. Tighernach and his Annals—Erudition and Research of our Early
Writers—The Chronicum Scotorum—Duald Mac Firbis—Murdered, and his Murderer is protected by the Penal Laws—The Annals of the Four
Masters—Michael O'Clery—His Devotion to his
Country—Ward—Colgan—Dedication of the Annals—The Book of
Invasions—Proofs of our Early Colonization.
CHAPTER III. First Colonists—The Landing of Ceasair, before the Flood—Landing of
Partholan, after the Flood, at Inver Scene—Arrival of Nemedh—The
Fomorians—Emigration of the Nemenians—The Firbolgs—Division of
Ireland by the Firbolg Chiefs—The Tuatha Dé Dananns—Their Skill as
Artificers—Nuada of the Silver Hand—The Warriors Sreng and Breas—The
Satire of Cairbré—Termination of the Fomorian Dynasty.
CHAPTER IV. The Scythians Colonists—Testimony of Josephus—Magog and his
Colony—Statements of our Annals confirmed by a Jewish Writer—By
Herodotus—Nennius relates what is told by the "Most Learned of the
Scoti"—Phoenician Circumnavigation of Africa—Phoenician Colonization
of Spain—Iberus and Himerus—Traditions of Partholan—Early
Geographical Accounts of Ireland—Early Social Accounts of Ireland.
CHAPTER V. Landing of the Milesians—Traditions of the Tuatha Dé Dananns in St.
Patrick's time—The Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny—The Milesians go back
to sea "nine waves"—They conquer ultimately—Reign of Eremon—Landing
of the Picts—Bede's Account of Ireland—Fame of its Fish and
Goats—Difficulties of Irish Chronology—Importance and Authenticity of
Irish Pedigrees—Qualifications of an Ollamh—Milesian
Genealogies—Historical Value of Pedigrees—National Feelings should be
respected—Historic Tales—Poems.
CHAPTER VI. Tighearnmas—His Death—Introduces Colours as a Distinction of
Rank—Silver Shields and Chariots first used—Reign of Ugainé Môr—The
Treachery of Cobhthach—Romantic Tales—Queen Mab—Dispute which led to
the celebrated Cattle Spoil—The Story of the Táin bó Chuailgné—The
Romans feared to invade Ireland—Tacitus—Revolt of the Attacotti—Reign
of Tuathal—Origin of the Boromean Tribute.
CHAPTER VII. Tuathal-Conn "of the Hundred Battles"—The Five Great Roads of Ancient
Erinn—Conn's Half—Conairé II.—The Three Cairbrés—Cormac Mac
Airt—His Wise Decision—Collects Laws—His Personal Appearance-The
Saltair of Tara written in Cormac's Reign—Finn Mac Cumhaill—His
Courtship with the Princess Ailbhé—The Pursuit of Diarmaid and
Grainné—Nial "of the Nine Hostages"—Dathi.
CHAPTER VIII. St. Patrick—How Ireland was first Christianized—Pagan Rome used
providentially to promote the Faith—The Mission of St.
Palladius—Innocent I. claims authority to found Churches and condemn
Heresy—Disputes concerning St. Patrick's Birthplace—Ireland receives
the Faith generously—Victoricus—St. Patrick's Vision—His Roman
Mission clearly proved—Subterfuges of those who deny it—Ancient Lives
of the Saint—St. Patrick's Canons—His Devotion and Submission to the
Holy See.
CHAPTER IX. St. Patrick visits Tara—Easter Sunday—St. Patrick's Hymn—Dubtach
salute him—He overthrows the Idols at Magh Slecht—The Princesses
Ethnea and Fethlimia—Their Conversion—Baptism of Aengus—St. Patrick
travels through Ireland—His Success in Munster—He blesses the whole
country from Cnoc Patrick—The First Irish Martyr—St. Patrick's
Death—Pagan Prophecies—Conor Mac Nessa—Death of King Laeghairé—The
Church did not and does not countenance Pagan Superstition—Oilioll
Molt—Death of King Aengus—Foundation of the Kingdom of Scotland—St.
Brigid—Shrines of the Three Saints—St Patrick's Prayer for Ireland,
and its Fulfilment.
CHAPTER X. The Religion of Ancient Erinn—The Druids and their
Teaching—The Irish were probably Fire-worshippers—The Customs
of Ancient Erinn—Similarity between Eastern and Irish Customs—Beal
Fires—Hunting the Wren—"Jacks," a Grecian game—"Keen," an Eastern
Custom—Superstitions—The Meaning of the Word—What Customs are
Superstitious and what are not—Holy Wells—The Laws of Ancient
Erinn—Different kinds of Laws—The Lex non Scripta and the Lex
Scripta—Christianity necessitated the Revision of Ancient Codes—The
Compilation of the Brehon Laws—Proofs that St. Patrick assisted
thereat—Law of Distress—Law of Succession—The Language of
Ancient Erinn—Writing in pre-Christian Erinn—Ogham Writing— 

Antiquities of pre-Christian Erinn—Round

CHAPTER XI. Pestilence of the Blefed—The Cursing of Tara by St. Rodanus—Extent
and Importance of Ancient Tara—The First Mill in Ireland—The Lia
—Cormac's House—The Rath of the Synods—The Banqueting
Hall—Chariots and Swords—St. Columba—St. Brendan and his
Voyages—Pre-Columbian Discovery of America—The Plague again—St.
Columba and St. Columbanus—Irish Saints and Irish Schools—Aengus the
CHAPTER XII. Christianity improves the Social State of Ireland—A Saxon Invasion of
Ireland—Domestic Wars—The English come to Ireland for Instruction—A
Famine and Tempests—The First Danish Invasion—Cruelty of the
Danes—The Black and White Gentiles—King Cormac Mac
Cullinan—Cashel—Amlaff the Dane—Plunder of the Towns—Arrival of
Sitric—Death of Nial Glundubh—The Circuit of Ireland—Malachy the
Second—Entries in the Annals.
CHAPTER XIII. The Battle of Dundalk—The Danes supposed to be Christianized—Brian
Boroimhé and his Brother Mahoun—The Dalcassians fight the Danes—Mahoun
is assassinated—Brian revenges his Brother's Murder—Malachy's Exploits
against the Danes—Malachy and Brian form a Treaty and fight the
Danes—Malachy wins "the Collar of Gold"—Brian's "Happy Family" at
Kincora—He usurps the Supreme Power, and becomes Monarch of
Ireland—Remote Causes of the Battle of Clontarf—Gormflaith is "grim" 

with Brian—Blockade of Dublin—The Danes prepare for a Fierce
Conflict—Brian prepares also—The Battle of Clontarf—Disposition of
the Forces—Brian's Death—Defeat of the Danes.

CHAPTER XIV. Distinguished Irish Scholars and Religious—Domestic Feuds—O'Brien's
Illness caused by Fright—Pestilence and Severe Winters—Contentions
between the Northerns and Southerns—Murtough's Circuit of Ireland—The
Danes attempt an Invasion—An Irish King sent to the Isle of
Man—Destruction of Kincora—St. Celsus makes Peace—The Synod of Fidh
Aengussa—Subjects considered by the Synod: (1) The Regulation of the
Number of Dioceses, (2) the Sacrament of Matrimony, (3) the Consecration
of Bishops, (4) Ceremonies at Baptism—St. Malachy—The Traitor
Dermod—Synod at Mellifont Abbey—St. Laurence O'Toole.
CHAPTER XV. Social life previous to the English Invasion—Domestic
Habitations—Forts—Granard and Staigue—Crannoges and
Log-houses—Interior of the Houses—The Hall—Food and Cooking
Utensils—Regulations about Food—The Kind of Food used—Animal
Food—Fish—Game—Drink and Drinking Vessels—Whisky—Heath
Beer—Mead—Animal Produce—Butter and
Cheese—Fire—Candles—Occupations and
Amusements—Chess—Music—Dress—Silk—Linen—Ancient Woollen
Garments—Gold Ornaments—Trade—General Description of the Fauna and
Flora of the Country.
CHAPTER XVI. The English Invasion—Dermod's Interview with Henry II.—Henry grants
Letters-patent—Dermod obtains the assistance of Strongbow, Earl de
Clare—He returns to Ireland—Arrival of English Forces under
FitzStephen—Fatal Indifference of Roderic, the Irish Monarch—He is at
last roused to action, but acknowledges Dermod's Authority almost
without a Struggle—Strongbow's Genealogy—He obtains a Tacit Permission
to invade Ireland—His Arrival in Ireland—Marriage of Strongbow and
Eva—Death of Dermod Mac Murrough—Strongbow proclaims himself King of
Leinster—Difficulties of his Position—Siege of Dublin—Strongbow's
Retreat—He returns to England.
CHAPTER XVII. Arrival of Henry II.—Some of the Native Princes pay him Homage—His
Character—Dublin in the time of Henry II.—His Winter Palace—Norman
Luxuries—King Henry holds a Court—Adrian's Bull—Temporal Power of the
Popes in the Middle Ages—Conduct of the Clergy—Irish Property given to
English Settlers—Henry II. returns to England—The Account Cambrensis
gives of the Injuries done to Ireland by his Countrymen—Raymond,
Montmarisco, and Strongbow—The latter is defeated—He recalls Raymond
from Wales—Treaty between Roderic and Henry—Death of Strongbow.
CHAPTER XVIII. FitzAldelm appointed Viceroy—De Courcy in Ulster—Arrival of Cardinal
Vivian—Henry II. confers the Title of King of Ireland on his son
John—Irish Bishops at the Council of Lateran—Death of St. Laurence
O'Toole—Henry's Rapacity—John Comyn appointed Archbishop of
Dublin—John's Visit to Ireland—Insolence of his Courtiers—De Lacy's
Death—Death of Henry II.—Accession of Richard I.—An English
Archbishop tries to obtain Justice for Ireland—John succeeds to the
Crown—Cathal Crovderg—Massacres in Connaught—De Courcy's Disgrace and
Downfall—His Death.
CHAPTER XIX. Quarrels of the English Barons—The Interdict—John crushes and starves
an Archdeacon to Death—King John's Visit to Ireland—He starves the
Wife and Son of Earl de Braose to Death—Henry de Londres—The Poet
O'Daly—Obituaries of Good Men—Henry III.—Regulations about the
Viceroy—The Scorch Villain—Scandalous Conduct of the Viceroys—Three
Claimants for Connaught—Death of Hugh Crovderg—Felim
O'Connor—Henry's Foreign Advisers—Plots against the Earl of
Pembroke—He is wounded treacherously—His Pious Death—Misfortunes of
the Early Settlers—De Marisco's Son is hanged for High Treason, and he
dies miserably in Exile.
CHAPTER XX. The Age was not all Evil—Good Men in the World and in the
Cloister—Religious Houses and their Founders—The Augustinians and
Cistercians—Franciscans and Dominicans—Their close
Friendship—Dominican Houses—St. Saviour's, Dublin—The Black Abbey,
Convents and Friars—Rising of the Connaught Men—A Plunderer of the
English—Battle of Downpatrick—The MacCarthys defeat the Geraldines at
Kenmare—War between De Burgo and FitzGerald.
CHAPTER XXI. 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
CHAPTER XXII. 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.
CHAPTER XXIII. Henry IV.—A Viceroy's Difficulties—The Houses of York and
Lancaster—The Colony almost Bankrupt—Literary Ladies in Ireland—A
Congress of Literati—The Duke of York is made Viceroy—Affection of the
Irish for him—Popularity of the Yorkists in Ireland—A Book given for a
Ransom—Desolating Effects of the Wars of the Roses—Accession of Henry
VII.—Insurrection of the Yorkists—Simnel is crowned in
Dublin—Warbeck's Insurrection—Poyning's Parliament—Poyning's Law and
its Effects—The Earl of Kildare accused of Treason—His Defence and
Pardon—His Quickwitted Speeches—He is acquitted honorably—His Letter
to the Gherardini—Ariosto.
CHAPTER XXIV. The Reign of Henry VIII.—The Three Eras in Irish History: Military
Violence, Legal Iniquity, and Religious Oppression—The Earl of
Kildare—Report on the State of Ireland—The Insurrection of Silken
Thomas—His Execution with his five Uncles—First Attempt to introduce
the Reformation in Ireland—Real Cause of the English Schism—The King
acts as Head of the Church—The New Religion enacted by Law, and
enforced by the Sword—How the Act was opposed by the Clergy, and how
the Clergy were disposed of—Dr. Browne's Letter to Henry—The Era of
Religious Persecution—Massacre of a Prelate, Priest, and
Friars—Wholesale Plunder of Religious Property.
CHAPTER XXV. Creation of the Earls of Thomond and Clanrickarde—How the King procured
Money—Prayers in English—Opposition of Dr. Dowdall—Accession of Queen
Mary—Joy of the Irish—The Catholic Service restored
Publicly—Accession of Queen Elizabeth—Shane O'Neill obtains his
Dominions—Parliament assembled—Unfair Dealing—Martyrs in the Reign of
Elizabeth—The Protestant Archbishop advises Persecution—Cruelties
enacted by English Officers—Shane O'Neill—The Deputy tries to get him
Poisoned or Assassinated, with the Queen's Concurrence—His Visit to
England—He refuses to Dress in the English Fashion.
CHAPTER XXVI. Spenser's Castle—Sidney's Official Account of Ireland—Miserable State
of the Protestant Church—The Catholic Church and its Persecuted
Rulers—The Viceroy's Administration—A Packed Parliament and its
Enactments—Claim of Sir P. Carew—An Attempt to plant in
Ulster—Smith's Settlement in the Ards—His Description of the Native
Irish—He tries to induce Englishmen to join him—Smith is killed, and
the attempt to plant fails—Essex next tries to colonize Ulster—He dies
in Dublin—Sidney returns to Ireland—His Interview with
Granuaile—Massacre at Mullamast—Spenser's Account of the State of
CHAPTER XXVII. FitzMaurice obtains Help from Spain and from Rome—The Martyrs of
Kilmallock—Death of FitzMaurice—Drury's Cruelties and Death—Arrival
of San José—His Treachery—Massacre at the Fort del Ore—O'Neill shows
Symptoms of Disaffection—Treacherous Capture of O'Donnell—Injustice to
Tenants—O'Donnell attempts to Escape—O'Neill's Marriage with Mabel
Bagnal—O'Donnell Escapes from Dublin Castle—Causes of
Discontent—Cruel Massacre of Three Priests—Tortures and Death
inflicted in Dublin on Bishop O'Hurley—O'Neill's Insurrection—His
Interview with Essex—He marches to the South—His Fatal Reverse at
Kinsale—The Siege of Dunboy—O'Neill's Submission—Foundation of
Trinity College, Dublin, on the Site and with the Funds of a Catholic
CHAPTER XXVIII. Accession of King James—Joy of the Irish Catholics—Their
Disappointment—Bishops, Priests, and Laity imprisoned for the
Faith—Paul V. encourages the Catholics to Constancy—Plot to entrap
O'Neill and O'Donnell—Flight of the Earls—Ulster is left to the Mercy
of the English Nation—The Plantation commences—Chichester's
Parliament, and how he obtained Members—Death of James I., and
Accession of Charles—The Hopes of the Catholics are raised again—They
offer a large sum of Money to obtain "Graces"—It is accepted, and the
"Graces" are treacherously refused—The Plantation of Connaught—How
Obedience was enforced and Resistance punished—Conspiracy to seize
Dublin—Sir Phelim O'Neill-Massacre of Island Magee.
CHAPTER XXIX. English Adventurers speculate on Irish Disaffection—Coote's
Cruelties—Meeting of Irish Noblemen and Gentlemen—Discontent of the
People—The Catholic Priests try to save Protestants from their fury—A
National Synod to deliberate on the State of Irish Affairs—The General
Assembly is convened at Kilkenny—A Mint is established—A
Printing-Press set up—Relations are entered into with Foreign States,
and a Method of Government is organized—Differences of Opinion between
the Old Irish and Anglo-Irish—A Year's Treaty is made—Arrival of
Rinuccini—He lands at Kenmare—His Account of the Irish People—His
Reception at Kilkenny—His Opinion of the State of Affairs—Divisions of
the Confederates—Ormonde's Intrigues—The Battle of Benburb—Divisions
and Discord in Camp and Senate—A Treaty signed and published by the
Representatives of the English King—Rinuccini returns to Italy.
CHAPTER XXX. Cromwell arrives in Ireland—He marches to Drogheda—Cruel Massacre of
the Inhabitants after promise of Quarter—Account of an
Eyewitness—Brutality of the Cromwellian Soldiers—Ladies are not
spared—Cromwell's Letters—He boasts of his Cruelties—Massacre and
Treachery at Drogheda—Brave Resistance at Clonmel—Charles II. arrives
in Scotland—The Duplicity of his Conduct towards the Irish—Siege of
Limerick—Ireton's Cruelties and Miserable Death—The Banishment to
Connaught—The Irish are sold as Slaves to Barbadoes—General Desolation
and Misery of the People.
CHAPTER XXXI. The Irish transported as Slaves to Barbadoes—The Three Beasts who were
to be hunted: the Wolf, the Priest, and the Tory—Origin and Causes of
Agrarian Outrages—Cases of Individual Wrongs—Lord Roche—Mr. Luttrel
Accession of Charles II.—His Base Conduct towards the Irish
Loyalists—Gross Injustice towards the Irish Catholic Landowners—The
Remonstrance opposed by the Clergy—A Quarrel in the House of Lords The
Popish Plot—Ormonde's Difficulties—Seizure and Imprisonment of the
Archbishop of Dublin—Imprisonment and Execution of the Most Rev. Dr.
Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh.
CHAPTER XXXII. Glimpses of Social Life in the Seventeenth Century—Literature and
Literary Men—Keating—the Four
Masters—Colgan—Ward—Usher—Ware—Lynch—Trade—Commerce depressed by
the English—Fairs—Waterford Rugs—Exportation of Cattle
forbidden—State of Trade in the Principal Towns—Population—Numbers
employed in different Trades—Learned
Professions—Physicians—Establishment of their College in
Churches—Post-houses and Post-offices
established—Custom-house—Exchange—Amusements—Plays at the
Castle—The First Theatre set up in Werburgh-street—Domestics Manners
and Dress—Food-A Country Dinner Party in Ulster.
CHAPTER XXXIII. Accession of James II.—Position of Public Affairs—Birth of an
Heir—Landing of William of Orange—Arrival of King James in
Ireland—The Siege of Derry—Cruelties of the Enniskilleners—Disease in
Schomberg's Camp—The Battle of the Boyne—James' Defeat and Disgraceful
Plight—The Siege of Athlone—The Siege of Limerick—Marlborough appears
before Cork—William raises the Siege of Limerick and returns to
England—The Siege of Athlone, Heroic Valour of its Defenders—The
Battle of Aughrim—Surrender of Limerick.
CHAPTER XXXIV. Formation of the Irish Brigade—Violation of the Treaty of
Limerick—Enactment of the Penal Laws—Restrictions on Trade—The
Embargo Laws—The Sacramental Test introduced—The Palatines—The Irish
forbidden to enlist in the Army—Dean Swift and the Drapier's
Letters—Attempts to form a Catholic Association—Irish Emigrants defeat
the English in France, Spain, and America—The Whiteboys—An Account of
the Cause of these Outrages, by an English Tourist—Mr. Young's Remedy
for Irish Disaffection—The Peculiar Position and Difficulties of Irish
Priests—The Judicial Murder of Father Nicholas Sheehy—Grattan's Demand
for Irish Independence—The Volunteers—A Glimpse of Freedom.
CHAPTER XXXV. Celebrated Irishmen of the Eighteenth Century—BURKE—- His School and
College Life—Early Hatred of Oppression—Johnson's Estimate of
Burke—Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful—Commencement of his
Political Career—Opinions on the American Question-English Infatuation
and Injustice—Irishmen Prominent Actors in the American Revolution—Its
Causes and Effects—Burke on Religious Toleration—Catholic
Emancipation—His Indian Policy—MOORE—His Poetry and
CHARLEMONT—Irish Artists, Authors, and Actors—SHERIDAN—Scene in the
House of Lords during the Impeachment of Warren Hastings—GOLDSMITH.
CHAPTER XXXVI. The Volunteers deserted by their Leaders—Agrarian Outrages and their
Cause—Foundation of the United Irishmen—Cruelties of the
Orangemen—Government Spies and Informers—Lord Moira exposes the
Cruelty of the Yeomanry in Parliament—Mr. Orr's Trial and
Death—Details of the Atrocities enacted by the Military from a
Protestant History—Tom the Devil—Cruelties practised by Men of
Rank—Licentiousness of the Army—Death of Lord Edward FitzGerald—The
Rising—Martial Law in Dublin—The Insurrection in Wexford—Massacres at
Scullabogue House and Wexford-bridge by the Insurgents—How the Priests
were rewarded for saving Lives and Property—The Insurrection in
Ulster—The State Prisoners—The Union.
CHAPTER XXXVII. The State of Ireland before and after the Union—Advancement of Trade
before the Union—Depression after it—Lord Clare and Lord Castlereagh
in the English Parliament—The Catholic Question becomes a Ministerial
Difficulty—The Veto—The O'Connell Sept—Early Life of Daniel
O'Connell—The Doneraile Conspiracy—O'Connell as Leader of the Catholic
Party—The Clare Election—O'Connell in the English House of
Parliament—Sir Robert Peel—George IV. visits Ireland—Disturbances in
Ireland from the Union to the year 1834, and their Causes—Parliamentary
Evidence—The "Second Reformation"—Catholic Emancipation—Emigration,
its Causes and Effects—Colonial Policy of England—Statistics of
American Trade and Population—Importance of the Irish and Catholic
Element in America—Conclusion.