C. P. (Charles Patrick) Meehan.

The confederation of Kilkenny online

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leadership in this affair to any one more seriously con-
cerned for the interests of tiie king. The idea of ap-
pointing an Irishman to that high post was fraught with
danger, inasmuch as it would have created jealousies
and rivalry, which it was the object of all to avoid, that
the great cause might not sustain any injury from the

• Nunziatura in Irlanda.



-inflict of parties. But a stronger reason was founded
;^ the king's letter from Newcastle, in which he insi-
nuated that he contemplated coming to Ireland and
^ladng himself in the hands of Glamorgan and the

''"Th^new council was to continue in existence till the
next general assembly, and orders ^^re immediately is-
Bued for levying troops and raising monies for the main-
?enance of three armies. For these purposes there was no
ack of compulsory enactments; where the arm of the
flesh fa'leT the spiritual weapon was m readiness;
but neither was required to awaken the energies and
hatred of the Catholic population against Ormond
The grand object was to seize Dublin, and secure
it LafnJt the parliament. It was well known that
Ormond was in concert with them, and anxious to su^,
render the government to any but the confederates^-.
A^d so desirous was he to secure the city against Neill
and Preston that, on his return from Ki kenny, he set
:S^ut repairing the fortifications "/rom the CoUeg^ to
St "R-pven's and so to St. James's Gate. n\e mar-

chioness of Srmond. with several ladies of quality
St be seen carrying baskets of earth to the workmen

'"A\TtCre'Lld not have been any doubt of Or-

- was incensed against the Irish rebels and that he
had offered to capitulate with the kings enemies, bo
Lnsible was he of the necessity of giving D^blm to
them and of prosecuting the war in connexion with the
mrUament, against the Irish, that Captain \V lUoughby
Snd r^n?a n Wood, two sea captains with whom he
had son?e overtures,' had very good reason to believe that
f wou'd deliver Dublin to them both, and cause to be
delivered the rest of the garrisons in Ireland in his power

^V^^^e aJ'airat'rre'fro™ DuWin and are witU
jj^ DavL, "ufficie'nt pledges of the reaUty of tins truth.

• Irish Tracts, R. D. S.

t Carte's Ona.


that the Marquess of Ormond doth really intend to com-,
ply with tlie parliament against the rebels. That he
desired fifty barrels of powder to be sent to Dublin to
secure it against the Irish, and satisfaction being givea
by the said gentlemen coming to, and remaining with
us, there are twenty barrels sent, and thirty barrels more
are to be sent afterwards. It is desired that the supplies
of soldiers from Liverpool and Bristol be sent over to
Dublin and other parts possessed by Ormond and his
party to secure them for the parliament."*

Nor were the confederates ignorant of Ormond's in-
trigues with the parliamentarians. Tiiey knew that
Dublin was ill provided against a combined attack. The
Wicklow clans were well inclined to swoop down on
the city from the south side, and only waited the pre-
sence of O'Neill and Preston on the north bank of the
Liffey. Within the walls the lord lieutenant could not
muster more than 6,000 men, so that to make it tenable
against the confederates, with his customary duplicity
he invoked the aid of those who were at war with the
king to crush the men whom he had the hardihood to
designate rebels.

When the confederates were made aware of Ormond's
designs, they concluded tliat further delay was fraught
with danger, and they detcnmned to march at once, and
if possible save the city before the arrival of the sup-
plies from England. But the rivalry and mutual hatred
of Preston and O'Neill, caused them to pause before the
armies were marched from their camps. The nuncio
had reason to doubt Preston's sincerity. His conduct,
whilst acting under Clanricarde in Connaught, was cal-
culated to awaken suspicion in the minds of those who
were the avowed enemies of Ormond. A considerable
sum, part of the monies brought by Lord Digby from
France, had been given to Preston, and this circum-
stance was of itself sufficient to create fears for the fide-
lity of the Leinster general.

When, however, it was debated in the council whether
Preston should have any share in the siege of Dublin,
French, bishop of Ferns, argued that it would not be

• Irisli Tracts, R. D. S. Extracts of Letters from Chester, and pab-
Mlhcd by order of the Parliament.


politic to exclude tlie Leinster general from the com-
mand of his troops in liis own province, and that he
should co-operate with O'Neill in the enterprise. Finally,
it was concluded that the two generals should iiave joint
command ; and the nuncio, who never forgave Preston's
rejoicings on the publication of the peace, made him
take an oath that he would act faithfully and sincerely
in the operations against the city. Preston's heart was
not in the cause, and he positively refused to take the
oath till the following clause was added, namely, tliat
they would not attack the city without first having
sought more ample concessions from the lord lieutenant,
and that all their movements should be regulated by h'n
declaration. Long before either of the two armies moved
from their cantonments, the Leinster general asserted
that he feared O'Neill's design was to attack him,
and destroy his troops. The nuncio's partiality for Owen
Roe was a cause of perpetual disquiet to him, and if
anything were required to confirm it, it was the un-
equal distribution of the monies, for Pi,inuccini on the
22nd of December, bestowed 8,000 dollars on O'Neill's
forces, when the sura which he gave Preston was only
about £150.

The two armies marched from their respective quar-
ters at the end of October. The united forces amounted
to 16,000 fuot and 1,600 horse. O'Neill's troops took
Maryborough, Stradbally, Grange, Mellan, and all the
strong places in the Queen's County, till he came- to
Athy, where he crossed the Barrow, and was joined by
the nuncio. Preston, whose route lay through the county
Carlow, declined storming the castle of the town, though
feebly garrisoned, and lingered on his way to the capi-
tal, lie complained bitterly that tlie troops under the
command of O'Neill were garrisoning the various strong
places which tliey had seized in the province of Lein-
ster, and gave out that the attempt on Dublin was all
but justifiable. From Harristown they continued their
march to Nass, and on the 9th of November encamped
at Lu'ian, in order to arrange their plans. There it was
agreeu that Preston's head quarters should be at Leixlip,
and O'Neill's at Newcastle. The winter had set in witti
unusual rigour, and all the country, for miles around,
presented the appearance of a dreary waste. Ormond,


terrified by their approach, at the suggestion of Castld*
haven caused the mills to be burned and the crops de-
stroyed. The citizens were dreadfully alarmed, and the
exag:5erated reports of the ferocity of O'Neill's creaglits,
determined many of them to embark for England. To
quiet their apprehensions, the lord lieutenant had writ-
ten to Munroe, in Ulster, to send him aid, and the pow.
der sent by the parliament was looked on as an earnest
o£ their good feeling to the inhabitants of Dublin. Such
was the weak condition of the defences about the city,
that the inhabitants wondered that the two armies did
not advance and seize it in the broad day ; but their
wonder grew more strong, when they beheld from the
battlements of Christ Church, and the high ground
about the castle, two hundred watch-fires blazing in the
night time on the other side of the Liffey.

Where the confederate armies fancied they would find
an abundance of provisions, they now discovered that
the foresight of Ormond had ruined their hopes. A
flood in the Liffey, swollen by the heavy rains, had car-
ried away the bridges, and thus prevented tlie supplies
from being brought from tlie county Wicklow. The
rains were succeeded by snow and frost; and from
twenty to thirty of the soldiers, night after night,
perished at their posts.* Indeed, nothing sustained
them, save the hope of good quarters in Dublin, which
they now regarded as in their grasp. But tliere was a
more deadly enemy within their camps than the storm
which raged without — dissension and fear of each other.
They sent to Ormond, demanding admission of Catliolic
troops into Drogheda and Dublin, and a free and public
exercise of the Catholic religion, such as Catholics en-
ioyed in other countries. Their proposition being re-
garded as "too scandalous," did not get even a reply
from the lord lieutenant. When they should be up and
stirring against him, the two confederate generals were
taking precautions against each other. O'Neill accused
Preston of intriguing with the lord lieutenant, and me-
ditating a plan which would have put him in a position
to be attacked by Orniond from the city and tlie Lein-
fiter general from his camp. Preston, on the other

• Fiblopater Irsea.


hand, affirmed that he believed O'Neill's design was to
destroy him and cut off his army. The nuncio clearly
6»w the impossibility of reconciling the two generals,
and summoned the council to consult whether it was not
best to seize and imprison Preston. The opinion!
varied. Some thought it best to inflict that punish-
ment, as all they held dear was jeopardized by the
vacillating conduct of the Leinster general. But, at
ar unfortunate moment, it was decided, contrary to the
nuncio's sentiment, that such a course would be fatal.
Under such circumstances, the nuncio deemed it his duty
to prevent bloodshed between the two armies, wisely con-
cluding that the loss of Dublin was inconsiderable, when
compared to the result of a conflict between O'Neill and
Preston. It was a strange sight to see the president of
the council going from camp to camp of the confederate
armies, endeavouring to effect a union between the
respective leaders. But if the fact moves us to pity,
and excites our contempt for the temporizing Preston,
it conveys to us a moral, never too often repeated, that
in union there is hope, and in everything beside reverse
and ruin.

On the 11th of November Clanricarde came to Pres-
ton's quarters, and laboured to persuade the nuncio and
council, through him, to sign a peace with Ormond. He
engaged to obtain a repeal of all the penal enactments,
and that the queen and prince should confirm the arti-
cles until the king would be at liberty to declare his as-
sent in a free parliament ; but the fear of committing
himself to such uncertain conditions, induced the nun-
cio to withhold his consent. It was evident that Or-
mond feared the loss of Dublin, else he would not have
commissioned Clanricarde to negotiate with the nuncio ,
and the former knew well that every delay on the part
of the confederates added to his chances of holding the
city against them. Contrary to Owen Roe's avowed re-
quest, Rinuccini, accompanied by Heber Mac Mahon and
the Bishop of Ferns, visited Preston in his tent, and
vainly sought to induce him to lay aside his apprehen-
Bions of O'Neill's good will and sincerity ; but the nun-
cio, perceiving that he could not succeed, charged the
Leinster general with having formed a design to seize
his person, and commit him and the Bishop of Clogher


to the custody of Orniond. Preston did not deny the
cliarge, but merely asserted that he never would consent
to the arrest.

They were now fully twelve days before Dublin with-
out having made any attempt on it. Provisions. were
every day becoming more scarce ; and the council
was once more summoned to suggest some decisive step.
The two generals were present ; and one day, while the
council was urging an advance, and all were assembled
to discuss it, some ofte knocked at the door of the cham-
ber, and Preston rose suddenly to open it ; having heard
three or four words from the person without, he returned
in a fright, and said the English were already in Dub-
lin. In a moment Owen lloe and the others sprang up
from their seats, as if a serpent had stung them,* and,
thinking each man of himself, departed from his com-
panions. The generals signalled by cannon fire that
every man was to return to his post ; and O'Neill having
"made a bridge of trees and house timber over the Liffey
at Leixlip, returned with his troops into Meath, and
tlience into the Queen's County. This occurrence took
place on the 16th, and the next morning the members of
the council fled to Kilkenny in the utmost alarm.

The nuncio*remained three days at Lucan after the
departure of O'Neill ; during that time the Marquess of
Clanricarde made several propositions, and informed him
of the falsehood of tlie report of any English having
landed. Tlic only concession which Ormond authorized
Clanricarde to make, was the admission of Preston's
troops to garrison Dublin, on condition that they
would unite witli the troops under Ormond, and compel
the council to accept the peace, with the addition of
Clanricarde's engagement. The nuncio, however, pro-
posed the free exercise of religion as an indispensable
condition, but as Ormond was opposed to the insertion
of any such agreement, the negotiation ended in smoke.
Preston had accepted Ormond's proposal, and according
to his agreement with Clanricarde, a day was appointed
on which he was to unite his troops with a detachment
led by the latter from the gates of Dublin. But in the
mean time the nuncio had expostulated with tho

• Nunzlatura \n IiLiu'^a-


v^inster general, who expressed his sorrow for having
made such terms, so that Clanricarde, on the day
appointed for the rendezvous, found a letter of excuses
instead of an army of allies, and with loud indignation
returned disappointed to Dublin.

Rinuccini soon afterwards followed the council to
Kilkenny, where he caused O'Neill and Preston to sign
a mutual agreement, by which they bound themselves
to forget all past aissenslons, and whether acting singly
9r collectively for the future, to have but one object
present to their eyes— the independence of their
religion, and the deliverance of their common country.

Nothing could have given greater joy to the members
of the old council imprisoned at Kilkenny, than the
failure of the siege of Dublin. Whenever they received
news of any disaster to tlie confederate arms, they
drank to their losses in beakers of beer. They
naturally concluded that their liberation was nigh,
and as the government, in the hands of the clergy, was
only temporary and provisional, they calculated on a
crisis which would again restore them to the power
which they had lost.

It was now resolved to call a general assembly of the
kingdom, as it was urged that such a proceeding avouM
give greater satisfaction to the people who were anxious
for the formation of a government in which the
representatives were not elected solely by the clergy.
Contrary to the wishes of the nuncio, the members of
the old council were now released from imprisonment.
Belling entered on a defence of his own conduct and
that of his colleagues in the matter of the peace con-
eluded with Ormond, and published in August. He
asserted that in signing the peace he had done nothing
more than what was sanctioned by Pope Innocent, who,
in the presence of Luke Wadding, cautioned the
delegates* of the confederates against seeking more than
his majesty was able to concede in his difficulties. This
was an assertion which required more than the word of
BelUng for its confirmation, and the nuncio denied that
his holiness had ever made any such statement, as it
was totally irreconcilable with the instructions he had

* PLiiop. IrasQ.


received from Rome, which charged him not to abata
a single tittle of the jus*:- demands of the Catholics.

In the meantime Ormond was carrymg on a negowation
with the parliament commissioners, Clotworthy, Mere-
dith, King, and Salway, who had anchored in the bay of
Dublin on the 13th of November. At the prayer of the
citizens he invited them to land on the 14th, and fixed
their quarters at Ringsend and Baggotrath, and on the
day following opened a treaty with them which was
carried on till the 23rd of the month. The terms which
they proposed not being agreeable to the lord lieutenant,
they embarked a few days afterwards, and carried
their supplies to the Scots in Ulster, who, in the
absence of O'Neill, had sent 700 men from Lisnegarvy,
and ravaged the counties of Cavan, Monaghan and Louth,
and amongst other places, demolished Carrickmacross.

The result of the negotiation with the parliament
commissioners was prejudicial to the lord lieutenant j it
6owed such seeds of jealousy and discontent* that the
citizens of Dublin refused to contribute further to the
payment of his troops, so that he was forced, in the cold
and wet wintei*, to draw out his half-starved and half-
naked army and march into the county Westmeath, to
procure provisions. The defection of Preston, who, in
his excuse for not adopting Ormond's offer, asserted
that his troops were not "excommunication proof," was
a sore blow to him. His object was to act with the
Scots in Ulster, and having gained over the unsteady
Preston, to annihilate O'Neill, and thus force the
observance of the peace. In his present circumstances
one incident saved him from the army of Owen Roe.
While he was keeping " a melancholy Christmas"t at
Trim, a short cessation, proposed by Muskerry, was
agreed to, else *' the half-starved and half-naked" army of
Dublin must have made a sorry figure before the Ulster

Thwarted in his scheme, he did not despair for i
moment, and the assurance sent nim by his kinsman
Muskerry, "that in the approaching general assembly
matters should be arranged agreeably to his pleasure,"
consoled him for the uneasiness and trouble he exi)eri
enc£d in the vicinity of O'Neill's army.

• Borlase. t Cox.


Nor was Preston's vacillation useless to the lord
aeutenant; on the contrary, Orniond had strong reasons
for calculating on the sympathies of the Leinster general.
His enmity to O'Neill, however it might have been
masked, must sooner or later develope itself, and as he had
but little feeUng for the "old Irish," he knew that the
nuncio would eventually distrust him. One thing was
certain, and that certainty could not but be grateful to
Ormond : the two generals who had quarrelled under the
walls of Dublin, were so divided by the antagonism of clasa
that their cordial co-operation could not be looked for.
On leaving Dublin the lord lieutenant had been induced to
believe that by making an attack on Athlone, he might
get possession of that important fortress. It had been
surprised early in September, and taken by one of
O'Neill's officers from Lord Dillon, who held it for
Ormond. Dillon had made his profession of faith
on the 6th of December, and was received into the
Catholic church by the nuncio, who entreated Owen
Roe to reinstate hira in the command. But, so deter-
mined was the Ulster general, that he could not be
induced to comply, and sent Richard OTerrall and
Roger Maguire, with positive orders to hold the place
against Ormond and every one else.

The day of the general assembly was now at hand, and
on the result of the meeting the fate of Ireland depended.
The subject which had hitherto divided the council of
the confederates was that of religion ; and, as if anti-
cipating the decision of the majority, Ormond wrote to
Digby, who was setting out for Paris, that the com-
mands to be forwarded to him by the queen and the
Prince of Wales, touching that vital question, " shoidd
not thwart the grounds he had laid to himself."

" For, in that matter," ran the instruction of the lord
lieutenant, "I shall obey by suffering, and particularly
that there be no concession to the Papists to perpetuate
churches or church livings ;" but, as far as regarded the
quiet exercise of their religion, it might be free for his
majesty to tolerate it, if he could see anything in
them but ' Irish rebels.' "

Thus the sum of all they had struggled for was to
be the toleration of their creed. The blood and sweat
of five years were to be rewarded by a connivance at tua

practice of their conscientious convictions, in the rucV
but and "up in the mountain solitudes." At the tittiug
time the cathedrals and the ecclesiastical revenues were
to be given back to the Protestant clergy, who had
already petitioned Ormond for stipend till they were
restored to their benefices. Out of tliese sacred edifices,
whicli the piety of their forefathers had erected, the
t^athohc clergy M'ere to be expelled, to propitiate the
lord lieutenant. The craven-hearted Catholics of the
J. a e seconded his views, and as they were his adherents
and sycophantic clients, he looked on them as his mo«<
useful instruments in creating division and disunion
iiut tliey were destined to discover their error when
1 was irremediable, and find that the man on whom
they placed such hopes and confidence was ''an in-
constant friend and an unforgiving enemy.""


Nkver did that city seated on the " stubborn Nor

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Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 16 of 22)