C. P. (Charles Patrick) Meehan.

The confederation of Kilkenny online

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Ormond freely consented to a cessation for three weeks,
well knowing that, ere that time had elapsed, the
additional reinforcements and troops should have arrived
Jrom England. His object was to gain time, and when
Leyburn was about proceeding to Kilkenny, ' ' he desired

• Leyb. Jlem-


to knovr from his excellency what he should say in ca^se
it was objected by the confederates, that he consented
to so short a cessation only that he might gain time to
receive more forces from the parliament." To which
he got an answer, "that he should receive orders on the
way, if, on consideration, there was cause." Accordingly,
on the next day, a courier overtook him with a letter
from the lord lieutenant, which empowered him "to
undertake to the confederates that if a cessation should
be agreed upon, he would not receive into the garrisons
under his command, forces from the parliament during
three weeks ; but ]\L Leyburn was to use his utmost
endeavours to procure a cessation without that con-
dition, or at least that it should be kept private ; which
last he was to engage them in before he consented to
the said condition.'*

But on the arrival of Leyburn in the confederate
quarters, . he was astonished at finding that they were
already aware that Ormond was in treaty with the
parliament, and that he had upwards of three thousand
of their men long since admitted invo the city and
other garrisons where his orthodoxy did not exclude
them from the free exercise of their religion. The
confederates soon perceived that this nianoeuvre on tlie
part of Ormond was of a piece with his accustomed
duplicity, and they forthwith objected to so short a
cessation ; but at the same time proposed to lengthen it
to six months, provided his lordship would, in the
meantime, admit no more of the parliament forces into
Ais garrisons. But Herod and Pilate were now friends.
The extermination of the confederates was Ormond's
ambition, and he positively refused to accede to their

Nor can it be said that Rinuccini exercised any
influence in this negotiation carried on by Leyburn,
on behalf of Ormond, with the confederates. He had
been absent during that eventful period, and solely
occupied with ecclesiastical aifairs in Wexford and
other towns. When the final answer of Ormond
reached the supreme council resident in Kilkenny, he
hastened thither, only to learn that Leyburn, as well
as the queen, had formed an exaggerated notion
ef Ormond's loyalty and sincerity.' The terms on


Wiiich the confederates insisted, •were in his ey(n
utterly impracticable. The propositions regarding
religion and settlement of a peace, which would enabia
him to act with the truly loyal Catholics against the
parliament, he heartily despised ; and all negotiation
was put an end to when he declared that their proposals
were fitter to be treated on in a league offensive and
defensive, between neighbouring princes, than between
his majesty's governor of a kingdom, and his subjects
of the same, declined from their obedience."*

It has been asserted, though no mention of the fact
occurs in Rinuccini's despatches, that Ormond was at
this time carrying on a negotiation with O'Neill, on
whose honour he placed great reliance. But it is
difficult to understand how this could have been the
case, as there was no provision made for the restoration
of the forfeited lands in Ulster : moreover, the Ulster
general had too much reason to dread Preston, to place
himself, as it were, between two fires, as he must have
done had he marched into Leinster, and taken up a
position between Preston and the city. However the
case may be, Kinuccini is charged with having detained
the Ulster general's nephew at Kilkenny, when he was
sent by Owen Roe to persuade the council to an
accommodation, f

Every expedient had now been tried which was calcu-
lated to preserve Ireland from the English rebels ; but
Ormond was in their confidence, and clearly saw that
the king's circumstances were irretrievable. For awhile
it had been argued that the advent of the Queen and
Prince of Wales might have created a salutary re-
action, and brought about a union of parties, which
n^ould throw difficulties in the way of the parlia-
snentarians. But that hope was soon abandoned. The
capital M'as in the hands of the enemy. Ormond was,
in reality, at their mercy ; and it is stated, on the autho-
rity of many, that he sought to dissuade the queen from
Buch an enterprise, if she ever really meditated it,
urging that the step would render her husband's ene-
mies still more implacable.

Ail hope of taking Dublin out of Ormond's hands Imd

• Carta. t rwiip. lra»


COW vanished. O'Neill asserted that fifteen days -would
have been sufficient to seize it ; but tlie reluctance of
the people of Leinster to receive his army, and the want
of money and provisions, determined liiin to make no
attempt. Fifty thousand dollars, forwarded by tlie Holy
See for the confederate armies, were still on the coast of
France. The parliamentary cruisers stood in the way,
and these succours, so desirable at this moment, awaited
a fa.vourable opportunity of being brought to their desti .

In the beginning of June, the supreme council pro.
ceeded into Munster, and made their head quarters a*i
Clonmel. Inchiquin was dealing death and devastation
along the sea coast, almost into the county Cork. The
jealousies of the confederate generals had given him
time and opportunity to place one-half the province
under contribution. Glamorgan awaited orders to act,
as well as money to pay Ms troops ; and a great portion
of the army reluctantly obeyed a general who had su-
perseded Lord Muskerry. Several regiments mutinied,
demanding that he should be re-appointed, whilst others
tlireatened to take his life. At the very doors of the
council-chamber these clamours were kept up, till, on
the 12th of the month, as they were debating on the
best way of suppressing the insubordination, Muskerry
went out, and getting on horseback, as if he were going
to take the air, proceeded to the camp ; in an hour's
time the whole of the army declared for him, and turned
Glamorgan out of the command. The next day he en-
tered Clonmel, attended by a guard, and Glamorgan,
by way of reparation to his honour, was reinstated for a
few days, and then ceded the command to Muskerry. The
latter immediately resigned in favour of Lord TaafFe, a
creature of Ormond, witlwut any character for military

Thus was Muskerry enabled to give his whole atten-
tion to political affairs in the supreme council ; and the
troops in Munster were completely at the beck of his de-
pendant, who was in the interest of the unsteady Pres-
ton and the faithless Ormond. The nuncio soon after,
wards proceeded into the province of Connaught, tt
concert with Owen Roe whatever measures were most
aecessary against the perils which they knew must foU


low the surrender of Dublin. Nor had they long to w&\%
for that base and perfidious act, which was, in a great
measure, the cause of the death of the unfortunate,
Charles ; and, what is far more to be lamented, the un-
deniable cause of all those horrors which subsequently
came upon unhappy Ireland. But Ormond, in the spirit
of a well-known distich, would rather see the loyal and
faithful Catholics exterminated by the swords of the
Puritans, than admitted to hold the city against those
men whom he subsequently pronounced to have been
the murderers of the king's person, usurpers of his
rights, and destroyers of the Irish nation ; by whom
the nobility and gentry of it were massacred at home,
and led into slavery or driven into beggary abroad."*

And yet this very man had already entered into terms
with the ruthless faction, which he thus characterized ;
for, on the 7th of June, their commissioners came into
the bay of Dublin with 600 horse and 1,400 foot. At
this moment, Ormond was well awai-e that the king's
person liad been sold to the parliament by tbe Scotch,
md still he did not hesitate to sign and conclude a treaty
with his enemies on the 19th, by which he obliged him-
self to surrender the sword on the 28th of tlie following
month, or sooner, upon four days' notice. An incident,
which is worthy of being recorded, occurred at the
time. Smith, who was then lord mayor, and at the
venerable age of four score years, waited on Ormond,
when he heard that he was about to deliver the city into
/the hands of the parliamentarians, and sternly informed
/ him that he held the king's sword, and would never re-
I sign it to rebels. Whereon Ormond checked him,
I and ordered him to withdraw. The patriotic mayor was
subsequently sent for, and Ormond, never at a loss for
gtratagera, read a letter from the king, artfully suppress-
ing the date and circumstances under which it was writ-
ten, and thus imposed on the credulity of the old man
who would have died to sustain his country and sove

Digby and Preston remonstrated in vain. The latte\
was ready to make a junction with the forces in Munstei
under Taaffe, and hold tne city against the invaders;

* Ci^ite's Ortu. Appendix, p. 13.


but all to no purpose. Ormond declined ah overtures
which might have averted the pending destruction;
"because, forsooth, he held it by no means safe." Hfe
was greedy of gain, and knew that he could not expect
anything from the king, who was now in imminent dan-
ger of his life. He could not serve two masters, and
therefore bowed to mammon. On the 16th of July, he
got notice to remove with his family from the castle, and
deliver the regalia within four days ; but, as the messen-
y ger, who was commissioned to give him £5,000 for liis
treachery, had not yet arrived, he did not depart for
a few days. The messenger finally came, and having
got his reward, and a promise from tlie parliament of
/ £2,000 per annum, he sailed from the city on the 28th
of July.

It is recorded of him that he indulged in a histrionic
performance before the Irish coast had " failed his sight,"
hkening himself to Hannibal when recalled to Carthage,
and predicting to those around him that he would one
day return in power to that city whicli he had basely
and treacherously surrendered ; but, alas ! ere his ship
had reached the raid channel, Jones, with his myrmidons,
were in Dublin, and the fate of Ireland was sealed. Yet'
this baseness of Ormond did not open the eyes of his
^ dupes and adherents. They were foscinated by him ;_
they hoped in him and swore by him. Nor did his kins-
man, Muskerry, discover the duphcity and heartlessness
of the viceroy till, when stretched in the last agonies on
his death-bed, he declared to those about him that " the
heaviest fear that possessed, his soul, then going into
^^ eternity, was his having confided so much in his grace,
who had deceived them all, and ruined his poor country
and countrymen." *

Indignation and alarm seized the minds of the people
when the news of Ormond's conduct travelled through
the land. Hitherto they had warred and struggled fbr
their relj^ion, but now, M-hen the swords of the parlia-
mentarians were at their throats, they began to learn
that they were to fight for their very exi3^e"nce.

In vain was Clanricarde importuned to take his place
iu their ranks. His influence was great, but his sympa-

* Unkin I Deserter.


thy with Ormond was greater still. He did not hesitatt
to impute to the confederates the crime which any un-
prejudiced man must have thrown on the lord lieute-
nant, and he determined to preserve a strict neutrality.
Owing to the imbecility of the gasconading Taaffe,
who had command of the Munster forces, Inchiquin,
with a small army, thinned by disease, was destroying
by fire whatever he could not reach with the sword.
Owen Koe was in the heart of Connaught, without
Money ; and such was the feeling created by Muskerry
against him in the south, that the inhabitants of Mun-
ster would more willingly have received the troops of

^ the grand seignor into their province than those he com-

An effort, however, was to be made to recover the ca-
pital, and the faction who had adhered to Ormond de-
clared that it should be regained with as much ease as it
Chad been lost. The undertaking was committed to the
hasty and rash Preston, who fancied that he would eclipse
the military genius of his rival by capturing Dublin.
Nor could the success of his enterprise be separated from
the anticipation of O'Neill's destruction. Muskerry
urged him to advance without delay on the city, and
promised that he should be immediately joined by the
troops under Taafie, and that their combined forces
should then proceed toattack O'Neill, — the grand obstacle
to the project which they now contemplated, the recall
of Ormond.

Jones had scarcely established himself in Dublin, when
he sent orders to the north to Coote and Conway to put
their troops in motion, and join him in Leinster. The
forces under his command did not amount to more than

\ 4,000 foot, two regiments of horse, with two demi-cul-
verins, "one saker, and four sakaruts." He marched
from Dublin on the 1st of August, and took up his quar-
i*ers in the village of Swords. On the next day he con-
tinued his march through Hollywood to the Naul, and
thence to Garretstown, where he got notice that the
fortres from the north were en route to join him. On the
4th he pitched his camp on the hill of Skreene, where he
was met by Colonel Moore with the Dundalk troops, an-^


soon aftervrardsby Titchbourne, with those of Drogheda,
and Conway, with a party of the old British,— making al-
together 700 horse and 12,000 foot, with two pieces of

Here they held a council of war, and whilst they were
debating, Cadogan and Graham came from Trim to in-
form them that Preston had on that morning raised his
camp, and marched with his entire force, consisting of
7,000 foot and 1,000 horse, to a place called Portlester,
five miles west of Trim. On the same day Jones put his
troops in motion, and advanced to the hill of Tara, where
he reviewed the army, and on the next day proceeded to
Skurlockstown, within a mile of Trim, where he quar-
tered for the night.

Next day he resumed his march and advanced on
Trimleston, where Preston had left a feeble garrison,
and the parliamentarian general having surrounded it in
hopes of drawing Preston to a fight, sent out a party of
fifty horse to ascertain his movements. They soon
brought back word that the confederate general had
broken up his camp at an early hour, and was crossing
the country towards Kilcock, with the intention of throw-
ing himself between Dublin and Jones's army.

The march was immediately sounded, and before the
parliamentarian columns crossed the Boyne, the garrison
of Trimleston surrendered. Great was their joy, and
on they went singing hymns to the Lord of Hosts,
till they reached Lynch'fe Knock. * Preston was
strongly fortified on Dungan Hill, not more than a mile
from their position. This was on the 8th of August,
and the sanguine hopes of Preston and the adherents of

• Lynch's Knock, with its ruined castle, may be seen within the
beautiful demesne of Suramerhill . The property was given some tune
after the action here narrated to the brother of Colonel Jones, who
was appointed Bishop of Meath. There are some traditionary stories
concerning the battle preserved in the neighbourhood ; and the pea-
suntry point out a grave on the brow of the hill, which they call Col-
kitto s burial-place. It is evidently that of some distinjjuished man of
^ Preston's army, but not of the chivalrous Alexander. Were it not for a
neat little volume, published by l>r. Butler, Protestant rector of Trim,
it might be difficult to identify the locality, which is in the townland of
3>rumlargin. Trimleston Castle is a most interesting ruin, aort
might be easily restored, were such the wish of its lord.




Ormond, who calculated on triumph, were soon to be
completely frustrated. A steady general, such as
O'Neill, would have harassed the parliamentary troops ;
but Preston was the Marcellus, choleric and n)ercurial,
and the Fabius was not where he should have been.

Jones advanced in full force to the foot of the hill,
but Preston's guns being badly pointed, did little execu-
tion. The action commenced at ten o'clock, a.m.,
and at twelve, when the confederate general grew weary
of skirmishing, he determined to charge down the hill
and overwhelm the phalanxes that were forming at its
base. His infantry were met with undaunted bravery,
and, notwithstanding the exertions of Alexander Mae
Donnell, surnamed Colkitto, were thrown into confusion,
and driven back to their former position. Again and
again did they come to the charge, and as often were they
broken. Preston's cavalry, which was badly placed, their
horses being fetlock-deep in the raarsliy ground, spurred
to protect the foot, but they were encountered by Jones's
cavalry, when the whole force was driven into an adjacent
bog. They were now surrounded by the entire strength
of Jones, Moore, Conway, and Titchbourne, and a wither-
ing fire from their guns and musketry, literally mowed
down the devoted men to whom no quarter was given.
With a desperate effort some of the confederate foot
forced their way out of the bog, but they were hacked
to pieces by Jones's dragoons ; and Preston, seeing all
hope vanished, fled precipitately from tlie scene of
slaughter, leaving his carriage and papers in the hands of
the enemy. On the field and about the hill were
reckoned of the confederates killed about 5,470, of
whom 400 were the "redshanks" belonging to the brave
Mac Donnell of the Isles.

In his retreat, followed by about five hundred foot,
the wreck of liis army, Preston burned Naas, Harristown,
and Moyglare. He did not even make an effort to re-
cover his four guns, "each carrying a twelve-pound
shot," and sixty -four fair oxen, which attended his
train. The parliamentarians had only twenty killed
in the action, and very few wounded. Immediately
afterwards Jones retired to Dublin with his prisoners,
colours, and baggage ; " nor would he allow the standards




taken from the confederates to be brought in triumph

to the city, for that would be attributing to man the

■Nvork which was due to the Lord alone."*

On his arrival in the city he was met with good news
from the parhament; they had forwarded him £1,500 for
the temporary sustenance of his forces, and £1,000 as a
reward of his good services against the rebels.

Disastrous as was this blow, the confederates did not
despair ; many a man, who had hitherto shrunk from
the contest, was now ready to gird on the sword ; but if
anything could make us look with contempt on the fol-
lowers of Ormond who had calculated upon signal sue-
cess, it is the expression of obsequious respect with
which they now turned to Owen Roe. Indeed he had had
melancholy proof of his rival's inferiority, and bitterly

eniarked, when the news of Preston's defeat reached him,
that he acted without judgment, and needlessly sacri-
ficed his troops. But all hope was not lost while O'Neill
had an army ; nor has the poet exaggerated the esteem
in which the descendant of a hundred kings was held at
tliis moment by his countrymen. f Yet, sad it is to be
obliged to say that the destruction of Preston's army
was the salvation of O'Neill's. Yes, the Fabius of Ireland
still lived, and had he commanded at Dungan's-hill, the
"red hand" must have floated from the Castle of

The craven-hearted crew who had hitherto affected
to despise him, now sent to implore his protection and
aid. The army of Leinster was annihilated ; tTiey liadi
no longer a single garrison between Dublin and Kilkenny,
and well might they tremble for their safety. A few
months before Muskerry and the Butlers were loud in
tlieir denunciations of O'Neill. The cruelty and the ra-
pacity of his soldiers were their constant theme ; and
wlien a few women had been plundered in the vicinity of
Kilkenny by some marauders, they came to the council-
Xoom to represent their grievances to Muskerry, who
ordered them to proceed to the residence of the nuncio.

• Irish Tracts, R. T). S.

t " Sagest in the council was he, kindest in the hall,
Sure we never won a battle — "twas Owen won them all."

Spirit of the Nation, 4to ed. p. 3.



ana laform him of the unbridled licentiousness of hia
favourite general. But all this was now forgotten in their
hour of need. Flushed with victory, Jones was once more
in the field, and no one knew at what moment he would
be thundering at the gates of Kilkenny, In this state
of things the Bishop of Ferns was despatched to Owen
■Roe, who was about to besiege the Castle of Enniskillen
and force his way into the heart of Ulster, and solicited
him to advance immediately and intercept Jones. The
suggestion was cheerfully adopted, and the Ulster ge-
neral, at the head of 12,000 men, came with lightning
speed and pitched his camp on the ground where Preston
had been defeated. It was the salvation of the confe-
derates ; for, as Rinuccini remarks, the Fabius of his
country, in the midst of bogs and marshes, kept Jones in
such check by the rapidity of his movements, that for
four entire months he was obliged to confine himself to
his quarters, nor dared he meet the invincible chieftain.*
Fearing a surprise which might utterly destroy him,
Jones retired into Dublin, and Owen Roe's light troops
advanced even as far as Castleknock, getting plunder
and provisions go leor, and reducing the English within
the city to the direst distress, f

Never was there a more unfortunate appointment than
that of Taaffe to the command of the Munster troops.
He was totally unfit for it, and in every respect inferior
to Preston. When Glamorgan, who was really a chival-
rous man, was removed from the command, he consigned
a fine army to Taaife, consisting of 12,000 foot and 800
horse, with an excellent park of artillery. He was
keeping up a correspondence with Ormond, who had
gone to France and remamed utterly inactive, whilst
Inchiquin was destroying every thing about him. But
he was doing the work of Ormond, who meditated com-
ing back at no distant period, and calculated on finding
Taafie's troops ready to march with hiiu and second his

Inchiq^uin, after having put the counties of Limerick
and Clare under contribution, entered Tipperary on tlie
3rd of September. He had no artillery with him, and
his soldiers had no more provisions than they could

* Rinuccini, 336. t O'Neill's Journal, in the Desdd. Ciu% Hib.


carry in their haversacks. He stormed ten or twelve
small castles, and then crossed the river Suir near Cahir,
a fortress deemed impregnable by the English as well as
Irish troops. But an accident led to the capture of it.
One of Inchiquin's foragers had been hurt under its Myalls,
and was permitted, at his own request, to send for a sur-
geon to dress his wounds. One Hippsley, an ingenious
man, who knew something of the healing art, assumed a
disguise, and was admitted to the interior of the for-
tress, where the wounded man lay. But, being better
skilled in the science of fortification than surgery, he ob-
served a point in the outward bawn where the castle was
assaultable, and when he returned reported the fact. It
was thereon agreed tliat he should lead an attack ; and
the pusillanimity of the Munster guards was such that,
on seeing the outworks and some turrets taken, the
governor appointed by Taaffe surrendered the whole
place in a few hours after. Thus was reduced a castle
which, in 1599, held out for two months against the
Earl of Essex and an army of 20,000 men — thus was the
most important fortress in all Munster lost, by the want
of discrimination in the hot-headed fool who now was to
oppose Inchiquin. Had there been at the time a well-
organized system of military affiiirs in Ireland, he
should have been shot, to prevent greater disasters.

Inchiquin, having fortified himself in Grthir, began to
make continual incursions into the surrounding country.
His soldiers, who a short time before had nothing but roots
to subsist on, were now abundantly supplied with every

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Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 18 of 22)