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.

[A.D. 1022-1167.]

omestic wars were, as usual, productive of the worst consequences, as
regards the social state of the country. The schools and colleges, which
had been founded and richly endowed by the converted Irish, were now,
without exception, plundered of their wealth, and, in many cases,
deprived of those who had dispensed that wealth for the common good. It
has been already shown that men lived holy lives, and died peaceful
deaths, during the two hundred years of Danish oppression; we shall now
find that schools were revived, monasteries repeopled, and missionaries
sent to convert and instruct in foreign lands. A few monks from Ireland
settled in Glastonbury early in the tenth century, where they devoted
themselves to the instruction of youth. St. Dunstan, who was famous for
his skill in music, was one of their most illustrious pupils: he was a
scholar, an artist, and a musician. But English writers, who give him
the credit of having brought "Englishmen to care once more for learning,
after they had quite lost the taste for it, and had sunk back into
ignorance and barbarism," forget to mention who were his instructors.

St. Maccallin, another Irishman, was teaching in France at the same
period; and Duncan, who governed the Monastery of St. Remigius, at
Rheims, was writing books of instruction for his students, which are
still extant. Marianus Scotus, whose chronicles are considered the most
perfect compositions of their times, was teaching at Cologne. St.
Fingen, who succeeded St. Cadroe as Abbot of the Monastery of St. Felix
at Metz, was invested with the government of the Monastery of St.
Symphorian in that city[229]. It was then ordered by the bishop, that
none but Irish monks should be received into his house, unless their
supply failed. In 975 the Monastery of St. Martin, near Cologne, was
made over to the Irish monks in perpetuity. Happily, however, Ireland
still retained many of her pious and gifted sons. We have mentioned
elsewhere the Annals of Tighernach, and the remarkable erudition they
evince. The name of Cormac Mac Cullinan may also be added to the list of
literary men of the period. The poems of Kenneth O'Hartigan are still
extant, as well as those of Eochd O'Flynn. The authorship of the Wars
of the Gaedhil and the Gall
, has been attributed to Brian Boroimhé's
secretary, Mac Liag; it is, at least, tolerably certain that it was
written by one who witnessed the events described. The obituaries of
several saints also occur at the close of the tenth and commencement of
the eleventh centuries. Amongst these we find St. Duncheadh, Abbot of
Clonmacnois, who is said to have been the last Irish saint who raised
the dead. St. Aedh (Hugh) died in the year 1004, "after a good life, at
Ard-Macha, with great honour and veneration." And in the year 1018, we
have the mortuary record of St. Gormgal, of Ardvilean, "the remains of
whose humble oratory and cloghan cell are still to be seen on that rocky
island, amid the surges of the Atlantic, off the coast of

Dr. Todd has well observed, in his admirably written "Introduction" to
the Wars of the Gaedhil and the Gall, that from the death of Malachy
to the days of Strongbow, the history of Ireland is little more than a
history of the struggles for ascendency between the great clans or
families of O'Neill, O'Connor, O'Brien, and the chieftains of Leinster.

After the death of Brian Boroimhé, his son Donough obtained the
undisputed sovereignty of Munster. He defeated the Desmonians, and
instigated the murder of his brother Teigue. His next step was to claim
the title of King of Ireland, but he had a formidable opponent in Dermod
Mac Mael-na-mbo, King of Leinster. Strange to say, though he had the
guilt of fratricide on his conscience, he assembled the clergy and
chieftains of Munster at Killaloe, in the year 1050, to pass laws for
the protection of life and property—a famine, which occurred at this
time, making such precautions of the first necessity. In 1033, his
nephew, Turlough, avenged the death of Teigue, in a battle, wherein
Donough was defeated. After his reverse he went on a pilgrimage to Rome,
where he died in the following year, after doing penance for his
brother's murder. The Annals say that "he died under the victory of
penance, in the Monastery of Stephen the Martyr."[231] Dermod Mac
Mael-na-mbo was killed in battle by the King of Meath, A.D. 1072, and
Turlough O'Brien, consequently, was regarded as his successor to the
monarchy of Ireland. Turlough, as usual, commenced by taking hostages,
but he found serious opposition from the northern Hy-Nials. His
principal opponents were the Mac Loughlins of Aileach, and the
O'Melaghlins of Meath. In 1079 O'Brien invaded the territory of Roderic
O'Connor, King of Connaught, expelled him from his kingdom, and
plundered it as far as Croagh Patrick. Next year he led an army to
Dublin, and received the submission of the men of Meath, appointing his
son Murtough lord of the Danes of Dublin. The Annals of the Four Masters
give a curious account of O'Brien's death. They say that the head of Connor O'Melaghlin, King of Meath, was taken from the church of
Clonmacnois, and brought to Thomond, by his order. When the king took
the head in his hand, a mouse ran out of it, and the shock was so great
that "he fell ill of a sore disease by the miracles (intervention) of
St. Ciaran." This happened on the night of Good Friday. The day of the
resurrection (Easter Sunday) the head was restored, with two rings of
gold as a peace-offering. But Turlough never recovered from the effects
of his fright, and lingered on in bad health until the year 1086, when
he died. He is called the "modest Turlough" in the Annals, for what
special reason does not appear. It is also recorded that he performed
"intense penance for his sins"—a grace which the kings and princes of
Ireland seem often to have needed, and, if we may believe the Annals,
always to have obtained.

A period of anarchy ensued, during which several princes contended for
royal honours. This compliment was finally awarded to Mac Loughlin, King
of Aileach, and a temporary peace ensued. Its continuance was brief. In
1095 there was a pestilence all over Europe, "and some say that the
fourth part of the men of Ireland died of the malady." A long list is
given of its victims, lay and ecclesiastical. Several severe winters are
recorded as having preceded this fatal event; probably they were its
remote cause. In the year 1096, the festival of St. John Baptist fell on
Friday. This event caused general consternation, in consequence of some
old prophecy. A resolution "of the clergy of Ireland, with the successor
of St. Patrick[232] at their head," enjoined a general abstinence from
Wednesday to Sunday every month, with other penitential observances; and
"the men of Ireland were saved for that time from the fire of

But the most important event of the period was the contention between
the northern and southern Hy-Nials. Murtough was planning, with great
military ability, to obtain the supreme rule. The Archbishop of Armagh
and the clergy strove twice to avert hostilities, but their interference
was almost ineffectual. "A year's peace" was all they could obtain. In
the year 1100, Murtough brought a Danish fleet against the northerns,
but they were cut off by O'Loughlin, "by killing or drowning." He also
assembled an army at Assaroe, near Ballyshannon, "with the choice part
of the men of Ireland," but the Cinel-Connaill defended their country
bravely, and compelled him to retire "without booty, without hostages,
without pledges." In 1101, when the twelvemonths' truce obtained by the
clergy had expired, Murtough collected a powerful army, and devastated
the north, without opposition. He demolished the palace of the Hy-Nials,
called the Grianan of Aileach.[234] This was an act of revenge for a
similar raid, committed a few years before, on the stronghold of the
O'Briens, at Kincora, by O'Loughlin. So determined was he on
devastation, that he commanded a stone to be carried away from the
building in each of the sacks which had contained provisions for the
army. He then took hostages of Ulidia, and returned to the south, having
completed the circuit of Ireland in six weeks. The expedition was called
the "circuitous hosting." His rather original method of razing a palace,
is commemorated in the following quatrain:—

"I never heard of the billeting of grit stones,
Though I heard [sic] of the billeting of companies,
Until the stones of Aileach was billeted
On the horses of the king of the west."[235]

Murtough appears to have been a not unusual compound of piety and
profanity. We read in one place of his reckless exploits in burning
churches and desecrating shrines, and in others of his liberal
endowments of the same.

The Danes had now settled quietly in the mercantile towns which they had
mainly contributed to form, and expended all their energies on commerce
instead of war; but the new generation of Northmen, who had not yet
visited Ireland, could not so easily relinquish the old project of
conquering it. About the year 1101, Magnus planned an expedition to
effect this purpose. He arrived in Dublin the following year; a "hosting
of the men of Ireland came to oppose him;"[236] but they made peace with
him for one year, and Murtough gave his daughter in marriage to his son
Sitric, "with many jewels and gifts." The year 1103 was distinguished
for sanguinary conflicts. Murdhadh Drun was killed on a predatory
excursion in Magh Cobha. Raghnall Ua h-Ocain,[237] lawgiver of Felach
Og, was slain by the men of Magh Itha. There was a "great war" between
the Cinel-Eoghain and the Ulidians; and Murtough O'Brien, with the men
of Munster, Leinster, and Ossory, the chiefs of Connaught, and the men
of Meath and their kings, proceeded to Magh Cobha (Donaghmore, co. Down)
to relieve the Ulidians. When the men of Munster "were wearied,"

Murtough proceeded to Ard-Macha, and left eight ounces of gold upon the
altar, and promised eightscore cows. The northern Hy-Nials then attacked
the camp of the Leinster men, and a spirited battle was fought. The
Cinel-Eoghain and Cinel-Connaill returned victoriously and triumphantly
to their forts, with valuable jewels and much wealth, together with the
royal tent, the standard, and jewels.

Magnus, King of Lochlann and the Isles, was slain by the Ulidians this

It is noticeable that, in the Annals of the Four Masters, obituaries of
saints or good men always occupy the first place. The Annals of this
year are of unusual length; but they commence with the obituary of
Murchadh O'Flanaghan, Arrchinneach of Ardbo, a paragon of wisdom and
instruction, who died on his pilgrimage at Ard-Macha. A priest of
Kildare is also mentioned, and the Tanist-Abbot of Clonmacnois, a
prosperous and affluent man.

It would appear that the Irish were sufficiently occupied with domestic
wars to prevent their offering assistance elsewhere. This, however, was
not the case. When Harold returned to England, his brother-in-law,
Donough, lent him nine ships; and we find the Irish affording assistance
in several other feuds of the Anglo-Saxons of this period. A deputation
of the nobles of Man and other islands visited Dublin, and waited on
Murtough O'Brien to solicit a king. He sent his nephew, Donnell; but he
was soon expelled on account of his tyranny. Another Donnell O'Brien,
his cousin, was, at the same time, lord of the Danes in Dublin. In 1114
Murtough O'Brien was obliged to resign the crown in consequence of
ill-health; the Annals say that he became a living skeleton. His
brother, Dermod, took advantage of this circumstance to declare himself
King of Munster. This obliged Murtough to resume the reins of
government, and put himself at the head of his army. He succeeded in
making Dermod prisoner, but eventually he was obliged to resign the
kingdom to him, and retired into the Monastery of Lismore, where he died
in 1119. The Annals call him the prop of the glory and magnificence of
the western world. In the same year Nial Mac Lochlann, royal heir of
Aileach and of Ireland, fell by the Cinel-Moain, in the twenty-eighth
year of his age. He was the "paragon of Ireland, for personal form,
sense, hospitality, and learning." The Chief Ollamh of Ireland,
Cucollchoille ua Biagheallain, was killed by the men of Lug and
Tuatha-ratha (Tooragh, co. Fermanagh), with his wife, "two very good
sons," and five-and-thirty persons in one house, on the Saturday before
Little Easter. The cause of this outrage is not mentioned. The Annals of
the Four Masters and the Annals of Ulster record the same event, and
mention that he was distinguished for charity, hospitality, and
universal benevolence.

Donnell O'Loughlin died in 1121, in the Monastery of St. Columba, at
Derry. He is styled King of Ireland, although the power of his southern
rival preponderated during the greater part of his reign. In 1118 Rory
O'Connor died in the Monastery of Clonmacnois. He had been blinded some
years previously by the O'Flaherties. This cruel custom was sometimes
practised to prevent the succession of an obnoxious person, as freedom
from every blemish was a sine qua non in Erinn for a candidate to
royal honours. Teigue Mac Carthy, King of Desmond, died, "after
penance," at Cashel, A.D. 1124. From the time of Murtough O'Brien's
illness, Turlough O'Connor, son of the prince who had been blinded,
comes prominently forward in Irish history. His object was to exalt the
Eoghanists or Desmonian family, who had been virtually excluded from the
succession since the time of Brian Boroimhé. In 1116 he plundered
Thomond as far as Limerick. In 1118 he led an army as far as Glanmire
(co. Cork), and divided Munster, giving Desmond to Mac Carthy, and
Thomond to the sons of Dermod O'Brien. He then marched to Dublin, and
took hostages from the Danes, releasing Donnell, son of the King of
Meath, whom they had in captivity. The following year he sailed down the
Shannon with a fleet, and destroyed the royal palace of Kincora, hurling
its stones and timber beams into the river. He then devoted himself to
wholesale plundering, and expelled his late ally and father-in-law from
Meath, ravaging the country from Traigh Li (Tralee) to the sanctuary
lands of Lismore. In 1126 he bestowed the kingdom of Dublin on his son
Cormac. In 1127 he drove Cormac Mac Carthy from his kingdom, and divided
Munster in three parts. In fact, there was such a storm of war
throughout the whole country, that St. Celsus was obliged to interfere.
He spent a month and a year trying to establish peace, and promulgating
rules and good customs in every district, among the laity and clergy.
His efforts to teach "good rules and manners" seem to have been scarcely
effectual, for we find an immediate entry of the decapitation of
Ruaidhri, after he had made a "treacherous prey" in Aictheara. In the
year 1128 the good Archbishop succeeded in making a year's truce between
the Connaught men and the men of Munster. The following year the saint
died at Ardpatrick, where he was making a visitation. He was only fifty
years of age, but anxiety and care had worn him old. St. Celsus was
buried at Lismore, and interred in the cemetery of the bishops.

We must now give a brief glance at the ecclesiastical history of
Ireland, before narrating the events which immediately preceded the
English invasion.

In the year 1111 a synod was convened at Fidh Aengussa, or Aengus Grove,
near the Hill of Uisneach, in Westmeath. It was attended by fifty
bishops, 300 priests, and 3,000 religious. Murtough O'Brien was also
permitted to be present, and some of the nobles of his province. The
object of the synod was to institute rules of life and manners for the
clergy and people. St. Celsus, the Archbishop of Armagh, and
Maelmuire[238] or Marianus O'Dunain, Archbishop of Cashel, were present.
Attention had already been directed to certain abuses in ecclesiastical
discipline. Such abuses must always arise from time to time in the
Church, through the frailty of her members; but these abuses are always
carefully reprehended as they arise, so that she is no longer
responsible for them. It is remarkable that men of more than ordinary
sanctity have usually been given to the Church at such periods. Some
have withheld heretical emperors from deeds of evil, and some have
braved the fury of heretical princes. In Ireland, happily, the rulers
needed not such opposition; but when the country had been again and
again devastated by war, whether from foreign or domestic sources, the
intervention of saintly men was especially needed to restore peace, and
to repair, as far as might be, the grievous injury which war always
inflicts on the social state of those who have suffered from its

Lanfranc, the great Archbishop of Canterbury, had already noticed the
state of the Irish Church. He was in constant communication with the
Danish bishops, who had received consecration from him; and their
accounts were probably true in the main, however coloured by prejudice.
He wrote an earnest epistle to Turlough O'Brien, whom he addresses
respectfully as King of Ireland, and whose virtues as a Christian prince
he highly commends. His principal object appears to have been to draw
the king's attention to an abuse, of which the Danes had informed him,
with regard to the sacrament of matrimony. This subject shall be noticed
again. Pope Gregory VII. also wrote to Turlough, but principally on the
temporal authority of the Holy See.

The synod had four special subjects for consideration: (1) First, to
regulate the number of bishops—an excessive and undue multiplication of
episcopal dignity having arisen from the custom of creating chorepiscopi
or rural bishops. It was now decided that there should be but
twenty-four dioceses—twelve for the northern and twelve for the
southern half of Ireland. Cashel was also recognized as an
archiepiscopal see, and the successor of St. Jarlath was sometimes
called Archbishop of Connaught. The custom of lay appropriations, which
had obtained in some places, was also firmly denounced. This was an
intolerable abuse. St. Celsus, the Archbishop of Armagh, though himself
a member of the family who had usurped this office, made a special
provision in his will that he should be succeeded by St. Malachy. This
saint obtained a final victory over the sacrilegious innovators, but not
without much personal suffering.[239]

The (2) second abuse which was now noticed, referred to the sacrament of
matrimony. The Irish were accused of abandoning their lawful wives and
taking others, of marrying within the degrees of consanguinity, and it
was said that in Dublin wives were even exchanged. Usher, in commenting
on the passage in Lanfranc's letter which refers to these gross abuses,
observes that the custom of discarding wives was prevalent among the
Anglo-Saxons and in Scotland. This, however, was no excuse for the
Irish. The custom was a remnant of pagan contempt of the female sex,—a
contempt from which women were never fully released, until Christianity
restored the fallen, and the obedience of the second Eve had atoned for
the disobedience of the first. It appears, however, that these
immoralities were almost confined to the half-Christianized Danes, who
still retained many of their heathen customs. The canons of St. Patrick,
which were always respected by the native Irish, forbid such practices;
and the synod, therefore, had only to call on the people to observe the
laws of the Church more strictly.

Two other subjects, (3) one regarding the consecration of bishops, the
other (4) referring to the ceremonies of baptism, were merely questions
of ecclesiastical discipline, and as such were easily arranged by
competent authority. In St. Anselm's correspondence with the prelates of
the south of Ireland, he passes a high eulogium on their zeal and piety,
while he deplores certain relaxations of discipline, which they were as
anxious to reform as he could desire.

We have already mentioned that St. Celsus appointed St. Malachy his
successor in the Archiepiscopal See of Armagh. Malachy had been educated
by the Abbot Imar O'Hagan, who presided over the great schools of that
city; and the account given of his early training, sufficiently
manifests the ability of his gifted instructor, and the high state of
intellectual culture which existed in Ireland. While still young, St.
Malachy undertook the restoration of the famous Abbey of Bangor. Here he
erected a small oratory of wood, and joined himself to a few devoted men
ardent for the perfection of a religious life. He was soon after elected
Bishop of Connor. With the assistance of some of his faithful monks, he
restored what war and rapine had destroyed; and was proceeding
peacefully and successfully in his noble work, when he was driven from
his diocese by a hostile prince. He now fled to Cormac Mac Carthy, King
of Desmond;[240] but he was not permitted to remain here long. The See
of Armagh was vacated by the death of St. Celsus, and Malachy was
obliged to commence another arduous mission. It is said that it almost
required threats of excommunication to induce him to undertake the
charge. Bishop Gilbert of Limerick, the Apostolic-Delegate, and Bishop
Malchus of Lismore, with other bishops and several chieftains, visited
him in the monastery which he had erected at Ibrach,[241] and at last
obtained compliance by promising him permission to retire when he had
restored order in his new diocese.



St. Malachy found his mission as painful as he had anticipated. The lay
intruders were making a last attempt to keep up their evil custom; and,
after the death of the usurper who made this false claim, another person
attempted to continue it; but popular feeling was so strong against the
wretched man, that he was obliged to fly. Ecclesiastical discipline was
soon restored; and after Malachy had made a partition of the diocese, he
was permitted to resign in favour of Gelasius, then Abbot of the great
Columbian Monastery of Derry.

But peace was not yet established in Ireland. I shall return again to
the narrative of domestic feuds, which made it a "trembling sod," the
O'Loughlins of Tyrone being the chief aggressors; for the present we
must follow the course of ecclesiastical history briefly. St. Malachy
was now appointed Bishop of Down, to which his old see of Connor was
united. He had long a desire to visit Rome—a devotional pilgrimage of
the men of Erinn from the earliest period. He was specially anxious to
obtain a formal recognition of the archiepiscopal sees in Ireland, by
the granting of palliums. On his way to the Holy City he visited St.
Bernard at Clairvaux, and thus commenced and cemented the friendship
which forms so interesting a feature in the lives of the French and
Irish saints. It is probable that his account of the state of the Irish
Church took a tinge of gloom from the heavy trials he had endured in his
efforts to remove its temporary abuses. St. Bernard's ardent and
impetuous character, even his very affectionateness, would lead him also
to look darkly on the picture: hence the somewhat over-coloured accounts
he has given of its state at that eventful period. St. Malachy returned
to Ireland after an interview with the reigning Pontiff, Pope Innocent
II. His Holiness had received him with open arms, and appointed him
Apostolic Legate; but he declined to give the palliums, until they were
formally demanded by the Irish prelates.

In virtue of his legatine power, the saint assembled local synods in
several places. He rebuilt and restored many churches; and in 1142 he
erected the famous Cistercian Abbey of Mellifont, near Drogheda. This
monastery was liberally endowed by O'Carroll, King of Oriel, and was
peopled by Irish monks, whom St. Malachy had sent to Clairvaux, to be
trained in the Benedictine rule and observances. But his great act was
the convocation of the Synod of Inis Padraig. It was held in the year
1148. St. Malachy presided as Legate of the Holy See; fifteen bishops,
two hundred priests, and some religious were present at the
deliberations, which lasted for four days. The members of the synod were
unwilling that Malachy should leave Ireland again; but Eugene III., who
had been a Cistercian monk, was visiting Clairvaux, and it was hoped he
might grant the favour there. The Pope had left the abbey when the saint
arrived, who, in a few days after, was seized with mortal sickness, and
died on the 2nd November, 1148. His remains were interred at Clairvaux.
His feast was changed from the 2nd of November, All Souls, to the 3rd,
by "the seniors," that he might be the more easily revered and honoured.

In 1151 Cardinal Paparo arrived in Ireland with the palliums which had
been solicited by St. Malachy. The insignia of dignity were conferred
the following year, at the Council of Kells. Tithes were then introduced
for the first time in Ireland, but they were not enforced until after
the English invasion.

It will be remembered that we turned to ecclesiastical history, after
mentioning the year's truce (A.D. 1128) which had been made, through the
intervention of St. Celsus, between the men of Munster and Connaught. In
1129 the great Church of Clonmacnois was robbed[242] of some of its
greatest treasures. Amongst these was a model of Solomon's Temple,
presented by a prince of Meath, and a silver chalice burnished with
gold, which had been engraved by a sister of King Turlough O'Connor—an
evidence that the ladies of Ireland were by no means behind the age in
taste and refinement.

After the death of Donnell O'Loughlin, Turlough had full scope for the
exercise of his ambitious projects; but in 1131 he found serious
opposition from Connor O'Brien, who had succeeded his father, Dermod, on
the throne of Munster. Connor now carried off hostages from Leinster and
Meath, and defeated the cavalry of Connaught. The following year he sent
a fleet to the western coast of Ireland. Eventually Turlough O'Connor
was glad to make a truce with his opponents. In 1184 the consecration of
a church at Cashel was celebrated. This is still known as Cormac's
Chapel, and was long supposed to have been erected by the more ancient
monarch of that name. But the good king was soon after treacherously
slain in his own house, by Turlough O'Connor and the two sons of the
O'Connor of Kerry. Turlough was unquestionably somewhat Spartan in his
severities, if not Draconian in his administration of justice. In 1106
he put out the eyes of his own son, Hugh, and in the same year he
imprisoned another son, named Roderic. The nature of their offences is
not manifest; but Roderic was liberated through the interference of the
clergy. Seven years after he was again imprisoned, "in violation of the
most solemn pledges and guarantees." The clergy again interfered; from
which we may infer that he was a favourite. They even held a public
feast at Rathbrendan on his behalf; but he was not released until the
following year. In the year 1136 we find the obituary of the chief
keeper of the calendar of Ard-Macha, on the night of Good Friday. He is
also mentioned as its chief antiquary and librarian, an evidence that
the old custom was kept up to the very eve of the English invasion. The
obituary of Donnell O'Duffy, Archbishop of Connaught, is also given. He
died after Mass and celebration; according to the Annals of Clonmacnois,
he had celebrated Mass by himself, at Clonfert, on St. Patrick's Day,
and died immediately after. About the same time the Breinemen behaved
"so exceedingly outrageous," that they irreverently stript O'Daly,
arch-poet of Ireland, "of all his clothes."

In the meantime domestic wars multiplied with extraordinary rapidity.
Dermod Mac Murrough, the infamous King of Leinster, now appears for the
first time in the history of that country which he mainly contributed to
bring under the English yoke. He commenced his career of perfidy by
carrying off the Abbess of Kildare from her cloister, killing 170 of the
people of Kildare, who interfered to prevent this wanton and
sacrilegious outrage. In 1141 he endeavoured to crush the opposers of
his atrocious tyranny by a barbarous onslaught, in which he killed two
nobles, put out the eyes of another, and blinded[243] seventeen
chieftains of inferior rank. A fitting commencement of his career of
treachery towards his unfortunate country! In 1148 a temporary peace was
made by the Primate of Armagh between the northern princes, who had
carried on a deadly feud; but its duration, as usual, was brief.
Turlough O'Brien was deposed by Teigue in 1151. He was assisted by
Turlough O'Connor and the infamous Dermod. The united armies plundered
as far as Moin Môr,[244] where they encountered the Dalcassian forces
returning from the plunder of Desmond. A sanguinary combat ensued, and
the men of north Munster suffered a dreadful slaughter, leaving 7,000
dead upon the field of battle. This terrible sacrifice of life is
attributed to the mistaken valour of the Dal-Cais, who would neither fly
nor ask quarter.

In 1157 a synod was held in the Abbey of Mellifont, attended by the
Bishop of Lismore, Legate of the Holy See, the Primate, and seventeen
other bishops. Murtough O'Loughlin, the Monarch of Ireland, and several
other kings, were also present. The principal object of this meeting was
the consecration of the abbey church and the excommunication of Donough
O'Melaghlin, who had become the common pest of the country. He was, as
might be expected, the particular friend and ally of Dermod Mac
Murrough. His last exploit was the murder of a neighbouring chief,
despite the most solemn pledges. In an old translation of the Annals of
Ulster, he is termed, with more force than elegance, "a cursed atheist."
After his excommunication, his brother Dermod was made King of Meath, in
his place.

At this synod several rich gifts were made to the abbey. O'Carroll,
Prince of Oriel, presented sixty ounces of gold. O'Loughlin made a grant
of lands, gave one hundred and forty cows and sixty ounces of gold. The
Lady Dervorgil gave the same donation in gold, together with a golden
chalice for the altar of Mary, with gifts for each of the other nine
altars of the church. Dervorgil was the wife of Tiernan O'Rourke, Lord
of Breffni, who had been dispossessed of his territories in 1152; at the
same time she was carried off by Dermod Mac Murrough. Her abduction
seems to have been effected with her own consent, as she carried off the
cattle which had formed her dowry. Her husband, it would appear, had
treated her harshly. Eventually she retired to the Monastery of
Mellifont, where she endeavoured to atone for her past misconduct by a
life of penance.

Another synod was held in the year 1158, at Trim. Derry was then erected
into an episcopal see, and Flahertach O'Brolchain, Abbot of St.
Columba's Monastery, was consecrated its first bishop. The bishops of
Connaught were intercepted and plundered by Dermod's soldiers; they
therefore returned and held a provincial synod in Roscommon.

In 1162 St. Laurence O'Toole was chosen to succeed Greine, or Gregory,
the Danish Archbishop of Dublin. He belonged to one of the most noble
ancient families of Leinster. His father was chieftain of the district
of Hy-Muirahy, a portion of the present county Kildare. St. Laurence had
chosen the ecclesiastical state early in life; at the age of twenty-five
he was chosen Abbot of St. Kevin's Monastery, at Glendalough. The Danish
Bishop of Dublin had been consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury,
but the saint received the episcopal office from the successor of St.
Patrick. A synod was held at Clane the year of his consecration; it was
attended by twenty-six prelates and many other ecclesiastics. The
college of Armagh was then virtually raised to the rank of a university,
as it was decreed that no one, who had not been an alumnus of Armagh,
should be appointed lector or professor of theology in any of the
diocesan schools in Ireland. Indeed, the clergy at this period were most
active in promoting the interests of religion, and most successful in
their efforts, little anticipating the storm which was then impending
over their country.

In 1166 the Irish Monarch, O'Loughlin, committed a fearful outrage on
Dunlevy, Prince of Dalriada. A peace had been ratified between them,
but, from some unknown cause, O'Loughlin suddenly became again the
aggressor, and attacked the northern chief, when he was unprepared, put
out his eyes, and killed three of his leading officers. This cruel
treachery so provoked the princes who had guaranteed the treaty, that
they mustered an army at once and proceeded northwards. The result was a
sanguinary engagement, in which the Cinel-Eoghan were defeated, and the
Monarch, O'Loughlin, was slain. Roderick O'Connor immediately assumed
the reins of government, and was inaugurated in Dublin with more pomp
than had ever been manifested on such an occasion. It was the last
glittering flicker of the expiring lamp. Submission was made to him on
every side; and had he only possessed the ability or the patriotism to
unite the forces under his command, he might well have set all his
enemies at defiance. An assembly of the clergy and chieftains of Ireland
was convened in 1167, which is said to have emulated, if it did not
rival, the triennial Fes of ancient Tara. It was but the last gleam of
sunlight, which indicates the coming of darkness and gloom. The traitor
already had his plans prepared, and was flying from a country which
scorned his meanness, to another country where that meanness was made
the tool of political purposes, while the unhappy traitor was probably
quite as heartily despised.