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Bruce—Remonstrance to the Pope—The Scotch Armies withdrawn from

[A.D. 1271—1326.]

t 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 £580.
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

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

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

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

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 "à 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° 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
;" 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 £500 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 £18 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

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

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

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 à 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

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

"'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

"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 Archæological
. 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."