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

[A.D. 1579-1605.]

xaggerated rumours were now spread throughout
Munster, of the probability of help from foreign sources—A.D. 1579.
James FitzMaurice had been actively employed on the Continent in
collecting troops and assistance for the Irish Catholics. In France his
requests were politely refused, for Henry III. wished to continue on
good terms with Elizabeth. Philip II. of Spain referred him to the Pope.
In Rome he met with more encouragement; and at the solicitation of the
Franciscan Bishop of Killaloe, Cornelius O'Mullrain, Dr. Allen, and Dr.
Saunders, he obtained a Bull, encouraging the Irish to fight for the
recovery of religious freedom, and for the liberation of their country.
An expedition was fitted out at the expense of the Holy See, and
maintained eventually by Philip of Spain. At the earnest request of
FitzMaurice, an English adventurer, named Stukeley, was appointed
admiral. The military command was bestowed on Hercules Pisano, a soldier
of some experience.

Stukeley was reported to be an illegitimate son of Henry VIII. He was a
wild and lawless adventurer, and entirely unfitted for such a command.
At Lisbon he forsook his squadron, and joined the expedition which
Sebastian, the romantic King of Portugal, was preparing to send to
Morocco. FitzMaurice had travelled through France to Spain, from whence
he proceeded to Ireland, with a few troops. He had three small vessels
besides his own, and on his way he captured two English ships. He was
accompanied by Dr. Saunders,[444] as Legate, the Bishop of Killaloe, and
Dr. Allen.[445] They were entirely ignorant of Stukeley's desertion
until their arrival in Ireland. The squadron reached Dingle on the 17th
of July, 1579. Eventually they landed at Smerwick Harbour, and threw
themselves into the Fort del Ore, which they fortified as best they
could. If the Earl of Desmond had joined his brother at once, the
expedition might have ended differently; but he stood aloof, fearing to
involve himself in a struggle, the issue of which could scarcely be

A short time before the arrival of this little expedition, three persons
had landed in disguise at Dingle, whom Desmond, anxious to show his zeal
towards the ruling powers, consigned to the authorities in Limerick.
They were discovered to be Dr. Patrick O'Haly, a Franciscan, and Bishop
of Mayo, and Father Cornelius O'Rourke; the name of the third person has
not been ascertained. On Sir William Drury's arrival at Kilmallock, they
were brought before him, and condemned to torture and death. The torture
was executed with unusual barbarity, for Drury was a man who knew no
mercy. The confessors were first placed upon the rack, and then, as if
the agony of that torment was not sufficient, their hands and feet were
broken with large hammers, and other torments were added. When life was
nearly extinct, they were released, and their martyrdom was finally
accomplished by hanging. For fourteen days their bodies remained
suspended in chains, and the soldiers used them as targets in their
shooting exercises.

The Earl of Desmond, however, soon joined his brother. John Geraldine
allied himself with the movement from its commencement. A second
expedition was fitted out in Spain, which reached Ireland on the 13th of
September, 1580. It was commanded by Colonel Sebastian San José, who
proved eventually so fearful a traitor to the cause he had volunteered
to defend. Father Mathew de Oviedo, a member of the Franciscan Order,
was the principal promoter of this undertaking. He was a native of
Spain, and had been educated in the College of Salamanca, then famous
for the learning and piety of its alumni. The celebrated Florence
Conry, subsequently Archbishop of Tuam, was one of his companions; and
when he entered the Franciscan novitiate, he had the society of eleven
brethren who were afterwards elevated to the episcopate. Oviedo was the
bearer of a letter from the Roman Pontiff, Gregory XIII., granting
indulgences to those who joined the army.

On the 18th of August, scarcely a month after he had landed in Ireland,
James FitzMaurice was killed by Theobald and Ulick Burke, his own
kinsmen. Their father, Sir William Burke, was largely rewarded for his
loyalty in opposing the Geraldines; and, if Camden is to be believed, he
died of joy in consequence of the favours heaped upon him. The death of
FitzMaurice was a fatal blow to the cause. John Geraldine, however, took
the command of the force; but the Earl hastened to Kilmallock to
exculpate himself, as best he could, with the Lord Deputy. His apologies
were accepted, and he was permitted to go free on leaving his only son,
James, then a mere child, as hostage with Drury. The Geraldines were
successful soon after in an engagement with the English; and Drury died
in Waterford at the end of September. Ecclesiastical historians say that
he had been cited by the martyrs of Kilmallock to meet them at Christ's
judgment, and answer for his cruelties.

Sir Nicholas Malby was left in command of the army, and Sir William
Pelham was elected Lord Deputy in Dublin. The usual career of burning
and plundering was enacted—"the country was left one levelled plain,
without corn or edifices." Youghal was burned to the ground, and the
Mayor was hanged at his own door. James Desmond was hanged and
quartered, by St. Leger and Raleigh, in Cork. Pelham signalized himself
by cruelties, and executed a gentleman who had been blind from his
birth, and another who was over a hundred years of age.

But the crowning tragedy was at hand. The expedition commanded by San
José now arrived in Ireland. The Fort del Ore was once more occupied and
strengthened; the courage of the insurgents was revived. Meanwhile Lord
Grey was marching so southward with all possible haste. He soon reached
the fort, and, at the same time, Admirals Winter and Bingham prepared to
attack the place by sea. In a few days the courage of the Spanish
commander failed, and he entered into treaty with the Lord Deputy. A
bargain was made that he should receive a large share of the spoils. He
had obtained a personal interview in the Viceroy's camp,[446] and the
only persons for whom he made conditions were the Spaniards who had
accompanied him on the expedition. The English were admitted to the
fortress on the following day, and a feast was prepared for them. All
arms and ammunition were consigned to the care of the English soldiers,
and, this accomplished, the signal for massacre was given; and,
according to Lord Grey's official[447] account, 600 men were slain in
cold blood. So universal was the reprobation of this fearful tragedy,
that Sir Richard Bingham tried to make it appear that it had not been
premeditated. Grey's official despatch places the matter beyond
question, and Dr. Saunders' letter supplies the details on authority
which cannot be disputed.

Three persons who had been treacherously given up to the Viceroy, were
spared for special torments; those were—a priest named Lawrence, an
Englishman named William Willick, and Oliver Plunket. They were offered
liberty if they would renounce the faith; but on their resolute refusal,
their legs and arms were broken in three places, and after they had been
allowed to pass that night and the next day in torment, they were hanged
and quartered. The State Papers confirm the account given by Saunders of
these barbarities. The English officers now endeavoured to rival each
other in acts of cruelty to obtain official commendation and royal
favour. Sir Walter Raleigh was especially active in Cork, and brought a
charge of treason against the Barrys and Roches, old English settlers;
but Barry set fire to his castle, and took to the woods, where he joined
Lord Desmond. Lord Roche was taken prisoner, but eventually escaped from
his persecutors. Pretended plots were rumoured in all directions, and
numbers of innocent persons were executed. William Burke was hanged in
Galway, and forty-five persons were executed. The Geraldine cause was
reduced to the lowest ebb by the treachery of José. The Earl of Desmond
and his sons were fugitives in their own country. The latter was offered
pardon if he would surrender Dr. Saunders, the Papal Legate, but this he
resolutely refused. Saunders continued his spiritual ministrations until
he was entirely worn out with fatigue, and he died, at the close of the
year 1581, in a miserable hovel in the woods of Claenglass. He was
attended by the Bishop of Killaloe, from whom he received the last rites
of the Church.

Immense rewards were now offered for the capture of the Geraldine
leaders, but their faithful followers would not be bribed. John was at
length seized, through the intervention of a stranger. He was wounded in
the struggle, and died immediately after; but his enemies wreaked their
vengeance on his remains, which were gibbeted at Cork. The Earl of
Desmond was assassinated on the 11th of November, 1583, and the hopeless
struggle terminated with his death. He had been hunted from place to
place like a wild beast, and, according to Hooker, obliged to dress his
meat in one place, to eat it in another, and to sleep in a third. He was
surprised, on one occasion, while his soldiers were cooking their
mid-day meal, and five-and-twenty of his followers were put to the
sword; but he escaped, and fled to Kerry, where he was apprehended ended
and slain. His head was sent to Elizabeth, and impaled on London-bridge,
according to the barbarous practice of the time. His body was interred
in the little chapel of Kilnamaseagh, near Castleisland. Complaints of
the extreme severity of Lord Grey's administration had been sent to the
English court. Even English subjects declared that he had "left her
Majesty little to reign over but carcasses and ashes." He was therefore
recalled. The administration was confided to Loftus, the Protestant
Archbishop of Dublin, and Sir Henry Wallope, and an amnesty was
proclaimed. Sir Thomas Norreys was appointed Governor of Munster, and
Sir Richard Bingham, Governor of Connaught. In 1584 Sir John Perrot was
made Deputy, and commenced his career by executing Beg O'Brien, who had
taken an active part in the late insurrections, at Limerick, with a
refinement of cruelty, as "a warning to future evil-doers."

In 1585 Perrot held a Parliament in Dublin, from which, however, no very
important enactments proceeded. Its principal object appears to have
been the confiscation of Desmond's estates. This was opposed by many of
the members; but the crown was determined to have them, and the crown
obtained them. Thus lands to the extent of 574,628 acres were ready for
new adventurers. The most tempting offers were made to induce Englishmen
to plant; estates were given for twopence an acre; rent was only to
commence after three years. No Irish families were to be admitted as
tenants, though their labours might be accepted or compelled. English
families were to be substituted in certain proportions; and on these
conditions, Raleigh, Hatton, Norris, St. Leger, and others, obtained
large grants. The Irish question was to be settled finally, but somehow
it was not settled, though no one seemed exactly prepared to say why.

Meanwhile Sir Richard Bingham was opposing the conciliatory policy of
the Deputy, and hanged seventy persons at one session in Galway, in
January, A.D. 1586. Perrot interfered; but the Burkes, who had been
maddened by Bingham's cruelties, broke out into open rebellion; and he
pointed to the revolt which he had himself occasioned, as a
justification of his former conduct. The Scotch now joined the Burkes,
but were eventually defeated by the President, the Irish annalists say,
with the loss of 2,000 men. Another bloody assize was held in Galway,
where young and old alike were victims.

The state of Ulster was now giving considerable anxiety to the English
Government. Hugh O'Neill was just commencing his famous career; and
although he had fought under the English standard in Geraldine war, it
was thought quite possible that he might set up a standard of his own.
He had taken his seat in parliament as Baron of Dungannon. He had
obtained the title of Earl of Tyrone. He had visited Elizabeth, and by a
judicious mixture of flattery and deference, which she was never able to
resist he obtained letters-patent under the Great Seal restoring his
inheritance and his rank. He was even permitted, on his return, to keep
up a standing army of six companies, "to preserve the peace of the

In 1586 a thousand soldiers were withdrawn from Ireland to serve in the
Netherlands; and as the country was always governed by force, it could
scarcely be expected not to rebel when the restraint was withdrawn.
O'Neill manifested alarming symptoms of independence. He had married a
daughter of Sir Hugh O'Donnell, and Sir Hugh refused to admit an English
sheriff into his territory. The Government had, therefore, no resource
but war or treachery. War was impossible, when so large a contingent had
been withdrawn; treachery was always possible; and even Sir John Perrot
stooped to this base means of attaining his end. The object was to get
possession of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, a noble youth, and to keep him as
hostage. The treachery was accomplished thus: a vessel, laden with
Spanish wine, was sent to Donegal on pretence of traffic. It anchored at
Rathmullen, where it had been ascertained that Hugh Roe O'Donnell was
staying with his foster-father, MacSweeny. The wine was distributed
plentifully to the country people; and when MacSweeny sent to make
purchases, the men declared there was none left for sale, but if the
gentlemen came on board, they should have what was left. Hugh and his
companions easily fell into the snare. They were hospitably entertained,
but their arms were carefully removed, the hatches were shut down, the
cable cut, and the ship stood off to sea. The guests who were not wanted
were put ashore, but the unfortunate youth was taken to Dublin, and
confined in the Castle.[448]

In 1588 Sir John Perrot was succeeded by Sir William FitzWilliam, a
nobleman of the most opposite character and disposition. Perrot was
generally regretted by the native Irish, as he was considered one of the
most humane of the Lord Deputies. The wreck of the Spanish Armada
occurred during this year, and was made at once an excuse for increased
severity towards the Catholics, and for acts of grievous injustice. Even
loyal persons were accused of harbouring the shipwrecked men, as it was
supposed they might have obtained some treasure in return for their
hospitality. FitzWilliam, according to Ware, wished to "finger some of
it himself," and invaded the territories of several Irish chieftains. A
complete history of FitzWilliam's acts of injustice, and the consummate
cruelty with which they were perpetrated, would be so painful to relate,
that they can scarcely be recorded in detail. He farmed out the country
to the highest bidders, who practised every possible extortion on the
unfortunate natives. The favourite method of compelling them to yield up
their lands without resistance, was to fry the soles of their feet in
boiling brimstone and grease. When torture did not succeed, some unjust
accusation was brought forward, and they were hanged. A tract preserved
in Trinity College, Dublin, gives details of these atrocities, from
which I shall only select one instance. A landlord was anxious to obtain
the property of one of his tenants, an Irishman, who had lived
"peaceably and quietly, as a good subject," for many years. He agreed
with the sheriff to divide the spoil with him, if he would assist in the
plot. The man and his servant were seized; the latter was hanged, and
the former was sent to Dublin Castle, to be imprisoned on some pretence.
The gentleman and the sheriff at once seized the tenant's property, and
turned his wife and children out to beg. After a short time, "they, by
their credit and countenance, being both English gentlemen, informed the
Lord Deputy so hardly of him, as that, without indictment or trial, they
executed him."[449]

It was considered a grave reproach, and an evidence of barbarism, when
Maguire sent word to the Lord Deputy, who wished to send a sheriff to
Fermanagh: "Your sheriff will be welcome, but let me know his eric [the
fine which would be levied on the district if he were killed], that if
my people cut off his head, I may levy it on the country." One other
instance from another source will sufficiently prove that the dread of
an English sheriff was well founded. The chieftain of Oriel, Hugh
MacMahon, had given a present of 600 cows to the Lord Deputy to
recognize his rights. Sir Henry Bagnal the Marshal of Ireland, had his
head-quarters at Newry, where his property had been principally acquired
by deeds of blood, and he wished for a share of the spoil. A charge of
treason was made against MacMahon after the cows had been accepted; a
jury of common soldiers was empannelled to try the case. A few were
Irish, and they were locked up without food until they agreed to give
the required verdict of guilty, while the English jurors were permitted
to go in and out as they pleased. The unfortunate chieftain was hanged,
in two days after his arrest, at his own door; his property was divided
amongst those whom we must call his murderers. The MacMahon sept were,
however, permitted to retain a portion on payment of a "good fine,
underhand," to the Lord Deputy.[450]

In 1590, Hugh of the Fetters, an illegitimate son of the famous Shane
O'Neill, was hanged by the Earl of Tyrone, for having made false charges
against him to the Lord Deputy. This exercise of authority excited
considerable fear, and the Earl was obliged to clear himself of blame
before Elizabeth. After a brief detention in London, he was permitted to
return to Ireland, but not until he had signed certain articles in the
English interest, which he observed precisely as long as it suited his
convenience. About this time his nephew, Hugh O'Donnell, made an
ineffectual attempt to escape from Dublin Castle, but he was recaptured,
and more closely guarded. This again attracted the attention of
Government to the family; but a more important event was about to
follow. O'Neill's wife was dead, and the chieftain was captivated by the
beauty of Sir Henry Bagnal's sister. How they contrived to meet and to
plight their vows is not known, though State Papers have sometimes
revealed as romantic particulars. It has been discovered, however, from
that invaluable source of information, that Sir Henry was furious, and
cursed himself and his fate that his "bloude, which had so often been
spilled in reppressinge this rebellious race, should nowe be mingled
with so traitorous a stocke and kindred." He removed the from Newry to
her sister's house, near Dublin, who was the wife of Sir Patrick
Barnwell. The Earl followed Miss Bagnal thither. Her brother-in-law
received him courteously; and while the O'Neill engaged the family in
conversation, a confidential friend rode off with the lady, who was
married to O'Neill immediately after.

But a crisis was approaching; and while this event tended to embitter
the English officials against the Earl, a recurrence of outrages against
the northern chieftains prepared them for revolt. One of their leading
men, O'Rourke, was executed this year (A.D. 1591) in London. He had
taken refuge in Scotland some time before, from those who wished to take
his life, as the easiest method of securing his property, but the Scots
had given him up to the English Government. He was said to be one of the
handsomest and bravest men of his times, and his execution excited
universal pity. The apostate, Miler Magrath, attempted to tamper with
his faith in his last moments, but the chieftain bade him rather to
repent himself and to return to the faith of his fathers.

Hugh O'Donnell made another attempt to escape from confinement at
Christmas, A.D. 1592. He succeeded on this occasion, though his life was
nearly lost in the attempt. Turlough Roe O'Hagan, his father's faithful
friend, was the principal agent in effecting his release. Henry and Art
O'Neill, sons of Shane the Proud, were companions in his flight. They
both fell exhausted on their homeward journey. Art died soon after, from
the effects of fatigue and exposure, and Hugh recovered but slowly. He
continued ill during the remainder of the winter, and was obliged to
have his toes amputated. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered, a
general meeting of his sept was convened, when he was elected to the
chieftaincy, and inaugurated in the usual manner. He then commenced
incursions on the territories occupied by the English; but as the Earl
of Tyrone was anxious to prevent a premature rebellion, he induced the
Lord Deputy to meet him at Dundalk, where he obtained a full pardon for
his escape from Dublin Castle, and a temporary pacification was

In 1593 he collected another army; Turlough Luineach resigned his
chieftaincy to the Earl of Tyrone; and Ulster became wholly the
possession of its old chieftains—the O'Neill and O'Donnell. An open
rebellion broke out soon after, in consequence of the exactions of two
English officers on the territories of Oge O'Rourke and Maguire. Several
trifling engagements took place. The Earl of Tyrone was placed in a
difficult position. He was obliged to join the English side, while his
heart and inclination were with his own people; but he contrived to send
a messenger to Hugh Roe, who had joined Maguire's party, requesting him
not to fight against him. He was placed in a still greater difficulty at
the siege of Enniskillen, which took place the following year; but he
compromised matters by sending his brother, Cormac O'Neill, with a
contingent, to fight on the national side. Cormac met the English
soldiers, who had been sent to throw provisions into the town, almost
five miles from their destination, and routed them with great slaughter.
The site of the engagement was called the "Ford of the Biscuits," from
the quantity of that provision which he obtained there. An Irish
garrison was left at Enniskillen, and the victorious party, after
retaliating the cruelties which had been inflicted on the natives,
marched into northern Connaught to attack Sir Richard Bingham.

On the 11th of August, in this year, 1594, Sir William Russell was
appointed Deputy in place of FitzWilliam. Tyrone appeared at the Castle
soon after, and complained of the suspicions which were entertained of
his loyalty, not, it is to be supposed, without a very clear personal
conviction that they were well founded. The Viceroy would have received
him favourably, but his old enemy, Bagnal, charged him with high
treason. O'Neill's object was to gain time. He was unwilling to revolt
openly, till he could do so with some prospect of success; and if his
discretion was somewhat in advance of the average amount of that
qualification as manifested by Irish chieftains hitherto, his valour
redeemed him from all possible imputation of having made it an excuse
for cowardice, or any conciliation with the "English enemy," which was
not warranted by motives of prudence.

Tyrone now offered to clear himself by the ordeal of single combat with
his adversary, but Bagnal declined the offer. The following year (A.D.
1595), the new Deputy took O'Byrne's Castle, at Glenmalure. One of the
Kildare Geraldines revenged the injuries done to this chieftain, by
making nocturnal attacks in the neighbourhood of Dublin; but he was soon
captured, and hanged in Dublin. These and similar outrages excited
popular feeling to an unwonted degree; but there were other wrongs
besides the robberies of chieftains' estates, and their subsequent
murder if they resisted oppression. The men whose lives the Irish nation
have always held even more sacred than those of their most ancient
chiefs, were daily slaughtered before their eyes, and the slaughter was perpetrated with cruelties which were so utterly uncalled-for, so
barbarously inhuman, that they might well have excited the burning
indignation of a heathen or a Turk.

These men were the priests of the old faith which the Irish had received
so many hundred years before, and which neither death nor torments could
induce them to forsake. I shall mention but two of these outrages,
premising that there were few places in Ireland where similar scenes had
not been enacted. In the year 1588 three Franciscan fathers were
martyred, who had devoted themselves for some years previously to the
spiritual necessities of the people. Many Catholic families from Carlow,
Wexford, and Wicklow had been obliged to fly into the mountainous
districts of Leinster, to escape further persecution. The three fathers,
John Molloy, Cornelius Dogherty, and Wilfred Ferral, were unwearied in
their ministrations. They spoke to these poor creatures of the true
Home, where all their sufferings should be rewarded with eternal joy—of
how wise it was to exchange the passing things of time for the enduring
goods of eternity; they visited the sick, they consoled the dying; above
all, they administered those life-giving sacraments so precious to the
Catholic Christian; and if, like the holy martyrs, persecuted by heathen
emperors, they were obliged to offer the adorable sacrifice on a rock or
in a poor hut, it was none the less acceptable to God, and none the less
efficacious to the worshippers. These shepherds of the flock were
specially obnoxious to the Government. They preached patience, but they
were accused of preaching rebellion; they confirmed their people in
their faith, but this was supposed to be equivalent to exciting them to
resist their oppressors. The three fathers were at last seized by a
party of cavalry, in a remote district of the Queen's county. They were
tied hand and foot, and conducted with every species of ignominy to the
garrison of Abbeyleix. Here they were first flogged, then racked, and
finally hanged[451], drawn, and quartered. The soldiers, brutalized as
man can be brutalized by familiarity with scenes of blood, scoffed at
the agonies they inflicted, and hardened themselves for fresh
barbarities. But there were men who stood by to weep and pray; and
though they were obliged to conceal their tears, and to breathe their
prayers softly into the eternal and ever-open ear of God, the lash which
mangled the bodies of the men they revered lacerated their souls yet
more deeply; and as they told to others the tale of patient suffering
endured for Christ and His Church, the hearts of the people were bound
yet closer to their faithful pastors, and they clung yet more ardently
to the religion which produced such glorious examples.

The other execution is, if possible, more barbarous. If the duty of an
historian did not oblige me to give such details, I would but too gladly
spare you the pain of reading and myself the pain of writing them. The
name of Dermod O'Hurley has ever stood prominent in the roll of Irish
martyrs. He was a man of more than ordinary learning, and of refined and
cultivated tastes; but he renounced even the pure pleasures of
intellectual enjoyments for the poor of Christ, and received for his
reward the martyr's crown. After he had taught philosophy in Louvain and
rhetoric at Rheims, he went to Rome, where his merit soon attracted the
attention of Gregory XIII., who appointed him to the see of Cashel.
O'Sullivan describes his personal appearance as noble and imposing, and
says that "none more mild had ever held the crozier of St. Cormac." His
position was not an enviable one to flesh and blood; but to one who had
renounced all worldly ties, and who only desired to suffer like his
Lord, it was full of promise. His mission was soon discovered; and
though he complied with the apostolic precept of flying, when he was
persecuted, from one city to another, he was at last captured, and then
the long-desired moment had arrived when he could openly announce his
mission and his faith.

When he had informed his persecutors that he was a priest and an
archbishop, they at once consigned him to "a dark and loathsome prison,
and kept him there bound in chains till the Holy Thursday of the
following year (1584)." He was then summoned before the Protestant
Archbishop Loftus and Wallop. They tempted him with promises of pardon,
honour, and preferment; they reasoned with him, and urged all the usual
arguments of heretics against his faith; but when all had failed, they
declared their determination to use "other means to change his purpose."
They did use them-they failed. But these were the means: the Archbishop
was again heavily ironed. He was remanded to prison. His persecutors
hastened after him; and on the evening of Thursday, May 5, 1584, they
commenced their cruel work. They tied him firmly to a tree, as his Lord
had once been tied. His hands were bound, his body chained, and then his
feet and legs were thrust into long boots, filled with oil, turpentine,
and pitch, and stretched upon an iron grate, under which a slow fire was
kindled. The spectacle which was exhibited when the instruments of
torture were withdrawn has been described, but I cannot write the
description. What sufferings he must have endured during that long
night, no words could tell. Again he was tempted with the offer of
earthly honours, and threatened with the vengeance of prolonged
tortures. Through all his agony he uttered no word of complaint, and his
countenance preserved its usual serene and tranquil expression. His
sister was sent to him, as a last resource, to tempt him to apostatize,
but he only bade her ask God's forgiveness for the crime she had
committed. Meanwhile, the cruelties which had been executed on him
became known; public feeling, as far as it was Catholic, was excited;
and it was determined to get rid of the sufferer quietly. At early dawn
of Friday, May 6, 1584, he was carried out to the place now called
Stephen's-green, where what remained of human life was quickly
extinguished, first by putting him again to torture, and then by

O'Neill had hitherto acted merely on the defensive; but the memory of
the events just related was still fresh in the minds of thousands, and
it was generally felt that some effort must be made for freedom of
conscience, if not for deliverance from political oppression. A
conference was held at Dundalk. Wallop, the Treasurer, whose name has
been so recently recorded in connexion with the torture of the
Archbishop, and Gardiner, the Chief Justice, received the
representatives of the northern chieftains, but no important results

In 1598 another conference was held, the intervening years having been
spent in mutual hostilities, in which, on the whole, the Irish had the
advantage. O'Neill's tone was proud and independent; he expected
assistance from Spain, and he scorned to accept a pardon for what he did
not consider a crime. The Government was placed in a difficult position.
The prestige of O'Neill and O'Donnell was becoming every day greater. On
the 7th of June, 1598, the Earl laid siege to the fort of the
Blackwater, then commanded by Captain Williams, and strongly fortified.
Reinforcements were sent to the besieged from England, but they were
attacked en route by the Irish, and lost 400 men at Dungannon. At last
the Earl of Ormonde and Bagnal determined to take up arms—the former marching against the Leinster insurgents; the latter, probably but too
willing, set out to encounter his old enemy and brother-in-law. He
commanded a fine body of men, and had but little doubt on which side
victory should declare itself.

The contingent set out for Armagh on the 14th of August, and soon
reached the Yellow Ford, about two miles from that city, where the main
body of the Irish had encamped. They were at once attacked on either
flank by skirmishers from the hostile camp; but the vanguard of the
English army advanced gallantly to the charge, and were soon in
possession of the first entrenchments of the enemy. Although Bagnal's
personal valour is unquestionable, he was a bad tactician. His leading
regiment was cut to pieces before a support could come up; his divisions
were too far apart to assist each other. Bagnal raised the visor of his
helmet for one moment, to judge more effectually of the scene of combat,
and that moment proved his last. A musket ball pierced his forehead, and
he fell lifeless to the ground. Almost at the same moment an ammunition
waggon exploded in his ranks—confusion ensued. O'Neill took advantage
of the panic; he charged boldly; and before one o'clock the rout had
become general.

The English officers and their men fled to Armagh, and shut themselves
up in the Cathedral; but they had left twenty-three officers and 1,700
rank and file dead or dying on the field. "It was a glorious victory for
the rebels," says Camden, "and of special advantage; for thereby they
got both arms and provisions, and Tyrone's name was cried up all over
Ireland." Ormonde thought that the "devil had bewitched Bagnal," to
leave his men unsupported; the Irish annalists thought that Providence
had interfered wonderfully on their behalf.[452] O'Neill retired for a
time to recruit his forces, and to rest his men; and a revolt was
organized under his auspices in Munster, with immense success. O'Donnell
was making rapid strides; but a new Viceroy was on his way to Ireland,
and it was hoped by the royalist party that he would change the aspect
of affairs.

Essex arrived on the 15th of April, 1599. He had an army of 20,000 foot
and 2,000 horse—the most powerful, if not the best equipped force ever
sent into the country. He at once issued a proclamation, offering pardon
to all the insurgents who should submit, and he despatched
reinforcements to the northern garrison towns, and to Wicklow and Naas.
He then marched southward not without encountering a sharp defeat from
Rory O'More. Be attacked the Geraldines, without much success, in Fermoy
and Lismore, having, on the whole, lost more than he had accomplished by
the expedition. An engagement took place between O'Donnell and Sir
Conyers Clifford, in the pass of Balloghboy, on the 16th of August, in
which Conyers was killed, and his army defeated. His body was recognized
by the Irish, towards whom he had always acted honorably, and they
interred the remains of their brave and noble enemy with the respect
which was justly due to him.

Essex wrote to England for more troops, and his enemies were not slow to
represent his incapacity, and to demand his recall: but he had not yet
lost grace with his royal mistress, and his request was granted. The
Viceroy now marched into the northern provinces. When he arrived at the
Lagan, where it bounds Louth and Monaghan, O'Neill appeared on the
opposite hill with his army, and sent the O'Hagan, his faithful friend
and attendant, to demand a conference. The interview took place on the
following day; and O'Neill, with chivalrous courtesy, dashed into the
river on his charger, and there conversed with the English Earl, while
he remained on the opposite bank. It was supposed that the Irish
chieftain had made a favourable impression on Essex, and that he was
disposed to conciliate the Catholics. He was obliged to go to England to
clear himself of these charges; and his subsequent arrest and execution
would excite more sympathy, had he been as amiable in his domestic
relations as he is said to have been in his public life.

Ulster enjoyed a brief period of rest under the government of its native
princes. In 1600 O'Neill proceeded southward, laying waste the lands of
the English settlers, but promoting the restoration of churches and
abbeys, and assisting the clergy and the native Irish in every possible
way. Having lost Hugh Maguire, one of his best warriors, in an
accidental engagement with St. Leger, the President of Munster, he
determined to return to Ulster. A new Viceroy had just arrived in
Ireland, and he attempted to cut off his retreat ineffectually.

O'Neill had now obtained a position of considerable importance, and one
which he appears to have used invariably for the general good. The fame
of his victories[453] had spread throughout the Continent. It was well
known now that the Irish had not accepted Protestant Reformation, and it
appeared as if there was at last some hope of permanent peace in

Interview between Essex and O'Neill

Interview between Essex and O'Neill

Sir George Carew was sent over as President of Munster. He has left an
account of his exploits in the Pacata Hibernia, which are not much to
the credit of his humanity, but which he was pleased to consider refined
strokes of policy. The English Government not only countenanced his
acts, but gave the example of a similar line of conduct. James, son of
Gerald, Earl of Desmond, who had long been imprisoned in London, was now
sent to Ireland, and a patent, restoring his title and estates, was
forwarded to Carew, with private instructions that it should be used or
not, as might be found expedient. The people flocked with joy to meet
the heir of the ancient house, but their enthusiasm was soon turned into
contempt. He arrived on a Saturday, and on Sunday went to the Protestant
service, for he had been educated in the new religion in London. His
people were amazed; they fell on their knees, and implored him not to
desert the faith of his fathers; but he was ignorant of their language
as well as of their creed. Once this was understood, they showed how
much dearer that was to them than even the old ties of kindred, so
revered in their island; and his return from prayers was hailed by
groans and revilings. The hapless youth was found to be useless to his
employers; he was therefore taken back to London, where he died soon
after of a broken heart.

Attempts were made to assassinate O'Neill in 1601. £2,000 was offered to
any one who would capture him alive; £1,000 was offered for his head;
but none of his own people could be found to play the traitor even for
so high a stake. The "Sugane Earl" was treacherously captured about the
end of August, and was sent to London in chains, with Florence
MacCarthy. But the long-expected aid from Spain had at last arrived. The
fleet conveyed a force of 3,000 infantry, and entered the harbour of
Kinsale on the 23rd of September, under the command of Don Juan
d'Aquila. It would appear as if Spanish expeditions were not destined to
succeed on Irish soil for only part of the expedition arrived safely,
and they had the misfortune to land in the worst situation, and to
arrive after the war had ceased. The northern chieftains set out at once
to meet their allies when informed of their arrival; and O'Donnell, with
characteristic impetuosity, was the first on the road. Carew attempted
to intercept him, but despaired of coming up with "so swift-footed a
general," and left him to pursue his way unmolested.

The Lord Deputy was besieging Kinsale, and Carew joined him there. The
siege was continued through the month of November during which time
fresh reinforcements came from Spain; and on the 21st of December,
O'Neill arrived with all his force. Unfortunately, the Spanish general
had become thoroughly disgusted with the enterprise; and, although the
position of the English was such that the Lord Deputy had serious
thoughts of raising the siege, he insisted on decisive measures; and
O'Neill was obliged to surrender his opinion, which was entirely against
this line of action. A sortie was agreed upon for a certain night; but a
youth in the Irish camp, who had been in the President's service
formerly, warned him of the intended attack. This was sufficient in
itself to cause the disaster which ensued. But there were other
misfortunes. O'Neill and O'Donnell lost their way; and when they reached
the English camp at dawn, found the soldiers under arms, and prepared
for an attack. Their cavalry at once charged, and the new comers in vain
struggled to maintain their ground, and a retreat which they attempted
was turned into a total rout.

A thousand Irish were slain, and the prisoners were hanged without
mercy. The loss on the English side was but trifling. It was a fatal
blow to the Irish cause. Heavy were the hearts and bitter the thoughts
of the brave chieftains on that sad night. O'Neill no longer hoped for
the deliverance of his country; but the more sanguine O'Donnell proposed
to proceed at once to Spain, to explain their position to King Philip.
He left Ireland in a Spanish vessel three days after the battle—if
battle it can be called; and O'Neill marched rapidly back to Ulster with
Rory O'Donnell, to whom Hugh Roe had delegated the chieftaincy of

D'Aquila, whose haughty manners had rendered him very unpopular, now
surrendered to Mountjoy, who received his submission with respect, and
treated his army honorably. According to one account, the Spaniard had
touched some English gold, and had thus been induced to desert the Irish
cause; according to other authorities, he challenged the Lord Deputy to
single combat, and wished them to decide the question at issue. In the
meantime, O'Sullivan Beare contrived to get possession of his own Castle
of Dunboy, by breaking into the wall at the dead of night, while the
Spanish garrison were asleep, and then declaring that he held the
fortress for the King of Spain, to whom he transferred his allegiance.
Don Juan offered to recover it for the English by force of arms; but the
Deputy, whose only anxiety was to get him quietly out of the country,
urged his immediate departure. He left Ireland on the 20th of February;
and the suspicions of his treachery must have had some foundation, for
he was placed under arrest as soon as he arrived in Spain.

The siege of Dunboy is one of the most famous and interesting episodes
in Irish history. The castle was deemed almost impregnable from its
situation; and every argument was used with Sir George Carew to induce
him to desist from attacking it. It was then, indeed—

"Dunboy, the proud, the strong,
The Saxon's hate and trouble long."[454]

But the Lord Deputy had resolved that it should be captured. The Lord
President considered the enterprise would be by no means difficult, for
"he declared that he would plant the ordnance without the losse of a
man; and within seven dayes after the battery was begun, bee master of
all that place."[455] There was considerable delay in the arrival of the
shipping which conveyed the ordnance, and operations did not commence
until the 6th of June. The defence of the castle was intrusted by
O'Sullivan to Richard MacGeoghegan. The chief himself was encamped with
Tyrrell in the interior of the country. The soldiers were tempted, and
the governor was tempted, but neither flinched for an instant from their
duty. The garrison only consisted of 143 fighting men, with a few pieces
of cannon. The besieging army was about 3,000 strong, and they were
amply supplied with ammunition. On the 17th of June, when the castle was
nearly shattered to pieces, its brave defenders offered to surrender if
they were allowed to depart with their arms; but the only reply
vouchsafed was to hang their messenger, and to commence an assault.

The storming party were resisted for an entire day with undaunted
bravery. Their leader was mortally wounded, and Taylor took the command.
The garrison at last retreated into a cellar into which the only access
was a narrow flight of stone steps, and where nine barrels of gunpowder
were stored. Taylor declared he would blow up the place if life were not
promised to those who surrendered. Carew refused, and retired for the
night, after placing a strong guard over the unfortunate men. The
following morning he sent cannon-ball in amongst them, and Taylor was
forced by his companions to yield without conditions. As the English
soldiers descended the steps, the wounded MacGeoghegan staggered towards
the gunpowder with a lighted candle, and was in the act of throwing it
in, when he was seized by Captain Power, and in another moment he was
massacred. Fifty-eight of those who had surrendered were hanged
immediately; a few were reserved to see if they could be induced to
betray their old companions, or to renounce their faith; but as they
"would not endeavour to merit life"[456] they were executed without
mercy. One of these prisoners was a Father Dominic Collins. He was
executed in Youghal, his native town—a most unwise proceeding; for his
fate was sure to excite double sympathy in the place where he was known,
and, consequently, to promote double disaffection.[457] O'Sullivan Beare
assigns the 31st of October as the day of his martyrdom.

The fall of Dunboy was a fatal blow to the national cause. The news soon
reached Spain. Hugh O'Donnell had been warmly received there; but the
burst of grief which his people uttered when they saw him departing from
his native land, was his death-keen, for he did not long survive his
voluntary expatriation. The war might now be considered over—at least,
until the victims recovered courage to fight once more for their own;
but the victims had to be taught how dearly they should pay for each
attempt at national independence. Captain Harvey was sent to Carberry,
"to purge the country of rebels"[458] by martial law. Wilmot was sent to
Kerry, with orders to extirpate whole districts, which arrangement is
called "settling the country," in the official document from which I
quote. On one occasion a number of wounded Irish soldiers were found,
who are described as "hurt and sick men;" they were at massacred, and
this is called putting them out of pain.[459]

Donnell O'Sullivan now found his position hopeless, and commenced his
famous retreat to Leitrim. He set out with about 1,000 people, of whom
only 400 were fighting men; the rest were servants, women, and children.
He fought all the way, and arrived at his destination with only
thirty-five followers.[460]

O'Neill now stood merely on the defensive. The land was devastated by
famine; Docwra, Governor of Derry, had planted garrisons at every
available point; and Mountjoy plundered Ulster. In August he prepared to
attack O'Neill with a large army, and, as he informs Cecil, "by the
grace of God, as near as he could, utterly to waste the country of
Tyrone." O'Neill had now retired to a fastness at the extremity of Lough
Erne, attended by his brother, Cormac Art O'Neill, and MacMahon.
Mountjoy followed him, but could not approach nearer than twelve miles;
he therefore returned to Newry. In describing this march to Cecil, he
says: "O'Hagan protested to us, that between Tullaghoge and Toome there
lay unburied 1,000 dead."

The news of O'Donnell's death had reached Ireland; and his brother
submitted to the Deputy. In 1603 Sir Garret More entered into
negotiations with O'Neill, which ended in his submitting also. The
ceremony took place at Mellifont, on the 31st of March. Queen Elizabeth
had expired, more miserably than many of the victims who had been
executed in her reign, on the 24th of March; but the news was carefully
concealed until O'Neill had made terms with the Viceroy.

Trinity College, Dublin, was founded during this reign. Sir John Perrot
had proposed to convert St. Patrick's Cathedral into an university; but
Loftus, the Protestant Archbishop, would not allow it, because,
according to Leland, "he was particularly interested in the livings of
this church, by leases and estates, which he had procured for himself
and his kinsmen." When the Deputy, whom he cordially hated, had been
withdrawn, he proposed a plan which gave him the credit of the
undertaking without any expenditure on his part. The site he selected
was in what was then called Hogges-green, now College-green; and the
place was the "scite, ambit and presinct"[461] of the Augustinian
Monastery of All Saints, which had been founded by Dermod MacMurrough,
King of Leinster, A.D. 1166. Dr. Loftus, after obtaining this grant, and
such rents as still belonged to the old Catholic monastery, endeavoured
to raise a subscription to supply the further funds still necessary to
complete the work. In this he signally failed; for those to whom he
applied excused themselves on the plea of poverty. Other funds were
therefore sought for, and easily obtained; and the revenues of some
suppressed Catholic houses in Kerry, Mayo, and Ulster, were taken to
endow and erect the Protestant University.