C. P. (Charles Patrick) Meehan.

The confederation of Kilkenny online

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necessary ; the finest county in Ireland lay open to
them ; and in a very short time they destroyed £20,000
worth of corn. It may not have been tlie case — yet it
Q'would appear that there was a bloody collusion be-
/ tween the arrogant TaafFe and the inhuman Inchiquin.
( Whenever the latter advanced, the former fled ; nor did
\Me fire a shot while the ferocious Murrogh was butcher-
ing the peasantry, and burning their crops.

There is not on record a more appalling tragedy than
that of Cashe], and the guilt is to be thrown on Taafie
as well as Inchiquin. Towards the end of September,
when the confederate general heard of his approach, he
fled, leaving a feeble garrison in the city of King Cor-
mac. Soon after, Inchiquin sat down before its ^jates.


and sent to tlie municipal authorities, to state, that if be
did not get £3,000 and a month's pay for his troops, he
would take the place by storm. The messenger brought
back word, that the autliorities would not accept his
terms ; Inchiquin opened a fire on the crumbling
wall, and then dashed into the town. Short was the
struggle, but, oh ! it was revolting and bloody. The feeble
garrison laid down their arms, and were butchered in
cold blood. Those who remained in their houses were
dragged out by Murrogh's soldiers, and basely mur-
dered at their own doors. In the midst of the carnage
a multitude fled to the cathedral on the rock. As they
hurried to the sanctuary, their feet plashed in the blood
of their relatives and friends ; but they thought that th?
sanctity of the place might protect them, and they
grouped aromid the altars and concealed themselves in
the crypts. On came the savage Inchiquin : supplica-
tions and cries for mercy were unavailing : the banditti
who followed at his heels took possession of the doors
and windows ; volley after volley was poured into the
church ; and when the ringing of the musketry and the
groans of agony had ceased, in went the murderers, and
dragged forth from their hiding-places the few who
survived. The old man stricken in years was hacked to
piec;es on the floor : the tender girl and the venerable
/ matron shared the same fate. Twenty priests, who
were concealed under the altars, were pierced by the
pikes of these savages, and when the work of slaughter
was done they fired the town. Three thousand human
. beings had ceased to live, and this bloody deed was done
by an Irishman who had been brought up in the ''school
. of wards," and had every germ of humanity and nation-
y/^ ality plucked from his heart by the anti-popish educa-
tion which he received.

Oh 1 if-^on that fatal night when the cruel Murrogh
ret'jed. i,dmQ wayfarer, attracted by the fitful glare 'of
the b'lrning roof-tree half quenched in blood, had
entered the city, he must have concluded that it had
been visited, not by the wrath of man, but that of God,'
for some dire outrage against his majesty.

On went this destroying demon, unopposed by TaafFe.
Ere he reached Fethard, the townspeople had heard
of the butchering in Cashel : they dared not resist.



and they surrendered at discretion. Clonmel was yet
to be taken — but there was within its walls as gallant a
heart as ever throbbed beneath the plaid — that man
was Alexander Mac Donnell of the Isles. lie had
escaped from the slaughter at Dungan-hill, and with a
single regiment of his followers, he closed the gates, and
dared Inchiquin to the contest. But " Murrogh of the
burnings," well knowing the stubborn foe he had to deal
with, retired from before the town. Oh I shame and
degradation. This gallant chieftain, with a small body
of troops, was able to scare away Murrogh, whilst the
Quixotic Connaught general was retreating with 7,000
men. But Inchiquin was glutted with blood, and
retired to Cahir ; and Taaflfe continued his march into
the county Cork.

The parliament was well satisfied with the achieve-
ments of their proselyte ; and as he had complained that
Lord Lisle was about to supplant him in the presidency
of Munster, they dreaded to displease him, and thereon
refused to renew Lord Lisle's commission. Inchiquin
was, therefore, proclaimed president, and he hud scarce
retired from Clonmel, when he received large supplies
of men and money from England.*

It was a moment of dreadful suspense for the con-
federates. Jones was cooped up in Dublin by the
watchful vigilance of O'Neill, who was encamped at
Trim. But they knew not the hour when Inchiquin
would take the field again and march straight upon

Taatfe was the only hope they had in Munster, and
now that the time for the next general assembly was
fast approaching, that general received orders towards
the njiddle of October, to watch Inchiquin's movements,
and if possible to destroy his army. It was warmly
a!gued in the council at Kilkenny, that the season was
tec far advanced to resume hostilities, but the party
wh^ch was ever doubting the sincerity of Ormond's
adherents, prevailed, and orders were immediately
is; v-td, commanding Taaffe to attack Inchiquin if any
ffivourable opportunity presented itself. Early in
November the latter took the field. He advanced

Ludlow's Mem.



towards Mallow, and lay encamped there till the 12th
of the month. Taaffe had no alternative, and he
determined to fight- His army consisted of 6,000 foot
and 1,200 horse. Inchiquin's troops did not amount tu
more than 5,000 foot and 1,200 horse, with an excellent
train of artillery. Taaffe quitted his quarters at
Kanturk, and on the 12th, eflcamped on tlie hill of
Knockninoss, commonly called Kuock-na-gaoU, or
Englishman's Hill, a few miles west of Mallow. There
was an old prophecy connected witli this spot Avhich
induced him to pitch his camp on it. The prophecy
ran, that the representative of the Mac Donagh should
win a battle there and recover his patrimony. Now it so
liappened that Taaffe's grandfather had got all the
possessions of the Mac Donaghs "as the reward of his
services against the rebels in the late wars," and by a
strange sort of logic, he concluded that he was the
representative of the clan Mac Donagh in a far more
agreeable sense than that of lineage. The vain man
regarded this as the prestige of victory, and therefore
strongly entrenched himself on the hill. He had with
him Lieutenant-General Purcelland the brave Colkitto:
irrespective of the prophecy, his position was a good
one, and a better general would have held it against
twice the number which Inchiquin brought into action.
Inchiquin was but little disposed to risk a battle under
such disadvantages; but, at the instance of Colonel
Semple and some other officers recently come from
England, he was prevailed on to march against the
confederates. Both armies were in view of each other
at one o'clock on the 13th. Inchiquin seeing the
danger of attacking his enemy on the hill, encamped
at a place called Garryduff, and sent this characteristic
note to Taaffe : —

*' My Lord — There is a very fair piece of ground
(betwixt your lordship's army and ours, on this side the
brook, whither if you please to advance, we will do
the like. We do not so much doubt the gallantry of
70ur resolution, as to doubt you will not come ; but do
give you this notice to the end, you may see we do
stand upon no advantage of ground, and are willing to
dispute our quarrel upon indifferent terms, bein^- con



fident that the justness of our cause will be, this daj,
made manifest by the Lord, and that your lordsliip's
judgment will be rectified concerning your lordship's
humble servant,


" Ganyduff, Nov. 13th, 1647."

As no answer was sent to this communication,
Inchiquin determined to advance and take a position
on the right of the hill, where he brought up his guns
and opened a heavy fire on 3,000 Scotch and Irish,
commanded by Mac Donnell, and two regiments of
horse, led by Purcell ; Taaflfe himself being on the
left with 4,000 infantry and two regiments of cavalry
as a reserve. The troops under Mac Donnell, after a
few voUies, dashed impetuously down the slopes, and
throwing away their muskets, slew the artillerymen
with their broad swords, and seized the guns, and then
attacked the left of Inchiquin's position, which they
chased oflf the field for a distance of three miles, killing
2,000 of them while they lost but five. Lord Castle-
connell's regiment now advanced from its position on
the hill to attack Inchiquin in front, but they were so
vigorously met by the latter, that after a few voUies
they broke and fled, and were immediately followed by
the rest of the Munster troops. In vain did Taaffe call
on them to rally : with his own hand he killed many of
the fugitives, but they were panic-stricken and could
lot be brought back. The cavalry, under Purcell,
Tollowed the infantry, and Inchiquin turned his whole
force on the few brave men who had seized his guna.
So sure were those brave fellows that Incliiquin was in
full retreat, that they were resting on the ground and
had not time to load when they were shot down and
piked. The heroic Alexander, who was now returning
to his men, was met by fourteen-' of Inchiquin's
cavalry, and having killed four of them witli his own
hand, was treacherously assassinated while parleying
with an officer. It was a disgraceful flight, and .only
to be remembered as a stain upon the national character.
The loss to the conff derates amounted to 1,500 men,
not to mention officers and the materiel ; whilst that of
Inchiquin was comparatively trifling, if we take into


^consideration tlie booty that was found on the field. It
was a lamentable day for the confederates, for it cost
them the life of the ardent and chivalrous Colkitto, to
whose valour Inchiquin did not fail to do honour ;* for
in his letter to Lenthal, the speaker of the House of
Commons, he states "that none truly fought but the
regiments commanded by Alexander Mac Donnell, the
rest having fled to LiscarroU and New Market."f

Gratefully was the news of this victory received in
England. Every reverse which the confederate arms
sustained, was hailed with the most frantic plaudits.
Tlie fanatics from their pulpits, and tlie dictaters in the
parliament, bore testimony to the heroic prowess of
Murrogh the burner, whom they regarded as fighting
the battle of the Lord, against the unrighteous; and
they soon after sent him £10,000 for his army, and a
present of £1,000 for his own good services.


The defeat at Knockninoss Avas communicated in a
few days afterwards by Taaflfe to the general assembly,
which had met at Kilkenny on the r2th of November.

Pending the election of the representatives, every nerve
was strained by the Ormondist party to return members
who were favourable to their views : nor were they dis-
appointed. They had toiled with incredible activity to
carry their point, and they could now command a ma-
jority in the federative assembly. Ulster, whicli used to
send sixty- three members, now sent only nine ; the state
of the country interfered with the election, and the nine
.iemanded to have sixty-three voices. The other pro-
vinces, for the same reason, were also defective, but not
in an equal degree ; and the demand of the Ulster mem.

* There is, says Smith, (Hist, of Cork) a very odd kind of music
well known in Munster by the name of Mac Allisdrum's march, being
a wild rhapsody made in honour of this commander, to this day much
Cfltocmed by toe Irish, and pla^i^xl at all their feasts.

t Iriah Tracts, 11. D. Societ-


bcrs was silenced, on the plea that the other provinces
might insist on a similar privilege. The Ulster members
were opposed to peace, and, although they sat in the
assembly, they declared that their province would
regard the decisions of the council as invalid, and of no

Tlie only opposition which was now dreaded by the
Ormondist party was that of the bishops elect. The
bulls from the holy see had already arrived, nominating
to eleven vacancies. The new prelates, with the excep-
tion of John * of Tuam, were all in the interest of tlie
nuncio ; for he was a De Burgho, and warmly attached
to the policy of Clanricarde. The neAv bishops, how-
ever, were an important addition to the nuncio's party ;
and much did the Ormondists dread the influence they
were likely to command. They were admitted to the as-
sembly, in right of their sees ; but Muskerry objected
to the bishop of Koss, whom he declared not qiialified to
take his place amongst the spiritual peers, as he had not
been recommended by the supreme council ; but, cir-
cumstanced as the confederates were at that moment
(for they were meditating a negotiation with Rome), the
objection was not pressed, and the bishop elect was ad-
mitted to his place.

Never before did the council of the confederates meet
under more gloomy auspices. Wailing and lamentat4on
might be heard throughout the length and breadth of
the land. Within four months they had lost two armies,
and the ravages of war were such that the country re-
mained unfilled, and looked as if it had been struck
with the curse of sterility. One gallant heart was yet
undismayed, and beat high with hope. From the rock
of Dunamase to the northern bank of the Lifiey did
his faithful clansmen carry his standard. That man
was Owen Roe. Inchiquin, flushed with recent victory,
might have marched on Kilkenny, if he did not d.-ead
Jhe celerity of movement and the masterly ..,^tl2s of
O'Neill. Jones dared not to cross the LiflTey, ..or he
would have driven him back with slaughter ;— and yet
there was in this new council many a man who sighed
for O'Neill's ruin as the only hope for Ireland, j'^atu-

*■ He wa?» the very antipodes of his predecessor llalachi'.


rally enough, the first question submitted to the rou
sideration of the assembly was the unhappy state of Ire-
land, almost brought to ruin by the dissensions and
misfortunes of her own children. "With a feeling of de-
votion as intense as that with Avhicli the sun-worshipper
turns to his god, the Ormond party now looked to
England, in the vain hope of etfecting some acconimoda-
tion with the king. But the project of sending deputies
to the royal person was soon abandoned, when the news
reached them of his captivity in Carisbrooke Castle.
The immediate effect which this astounding intelligence
produced, was the publication of an edict from the as-
sembly, calling the people to arms, and offering, to all
officers who would desert Inchiquin's standard, the same
grade which they held in their former employment, pro-
vided they declared for the confederates. A strong
inclination for peace pervaded the assembly, and the
Ormondist faction would have openly avowed it, could
they have'hoped to gain any th'nar like reasonable terms
from the parliament ; but their undeniable loyalty to
the king, which far exceeded their devotion to their
country, removed all hope in that regard.

As the means for protracting the war were now totally
exhausted, the question of a foreign protectorate was
openly mooted in the assembly. In the selection of
foreign princes Avho were deemed as most eligible, the
pope was the first whose name was introduced. Nor
were the agents from the French and Spanish courts
inactive Avhilst the question was being discussed. These
two courts had a serious interest in that subject, and
both put forward rival claims. Indeed Ireland was, for
both, the nursery of soldiers ; and a singular instance of
their mutual jealousies on the subject is recorded as
having taken place early in this year. M. Tallon and
Diego della Torre* had enlisted several regiments for the
two crowns, and sailed from Waterford with the levies ;
but they had not cleared the Irish coast when Tallon
attacked Torre's ships, and carried all the soldiers to
France. Thus the French envoy pressed the claim of
the French crovv^u, as more likely to be beneficial to
Ireland in case a foreign protectorate M'as determined on,

• Carte's Ornj.


to the exclusion of Spain, which he represented as
intriguing with the Enghsh parliament. But the rival
pretensions did not meet much encouragement from the

As to the pope, no matter how earnestly Rinuccini
might have wished to have him proclaimed protector, his
inability to furnish means would have been sufficient
reason for negativing such an appointment. But, along
with this consideration, the distance between Ireland
and Rome, would have rendered such an expedient per-
fectly useless. Tlie instructions which the nuncio had
received from his court were satisfactory on the subject ;
for he had been already warned, " not to let that point
ever come into consultation, as a protectorate at such a
distance could be of no use to the Irish, who could expect
but little succour from the pope ; moreover, it would
expose the Papal See to the jealousy of princes, and
exhaust its exchequer, beside a thousand other reasons
which forbade any thoughts of that nature."*

But these discussions were introduced into the as-
sembly by the Ormondist faction, without any real view
to their practicability. Their grand object was to
restore Ormond to power. The nuncio and prelates had
thought that the queen would have appointed Glamorgan,
now Earl of Worcester, to the viceroy alty of Ireland.
But Ormond who had been at St. Germains long before,
succeeded in depreciating the earl, and lessening him in
the eyes of her majesty In the last interview which
Ormond had with the king, he received a positive assu-
rance that he should one day return to Ireland invested
with the plenitude of power. And the queen, caught
by his obsequious flattery and magniloquent promises,
confirmed the determination of her consort.

A curious circumstance transpired during these debates.
A book, entitled "An Apologetic Discussion," written by
an Irish Jesuii, invalidating the title of England to the
sovereignty of the sister country, and exhorting the
Irish to elect a king from among themselves, had been
brought into the country, and widely circulated. It
was immediately concluded by the partizans of Ormond,
that the Irisli meant to place the crown on O'Neill's

' Carte, p 2


head, and thus renounce their allegiance to tlieif
rijjhtfiil sovereign. The book was, thereupon, con-
demned and ordered to be burned by the executioner ;
and the author, who had struck hard at English misrule,
was consigned to all the pains and penalties of high
treason, siiould he ever venture into the country.*

But the Ormondist party had now made up their minds
to adopt a more practicable course to realize their darling
project. By an act of the assembly it was resolved to
send agents to the Queen and Prince of Wales, and also
to the Pope and King of Spain.

The agents who were to proceed on these missions
were soon named. French, bishop of Ferns, and Nicholas
Plunket were to proceed to Rome. Muskerry, Brown,
and Heber MacMahon were appointed to the French

Nor was this scheme without its hidden treachery. It
was the object of Ormond's partisans to remove from the
assembly all whom they knew to be hostile to their de-
signs. French and Plunket were in the interest of the
nuncio and clergy, and MacMahon. Bishop of Clogher,
was O'Neill's second in commana, and most useful to that
gallant chieftain.

When the nomination took place, MacMahon rose in
the assembly and declared that he would not leave the
kingdom. Loud murmurs of disapprobation followed
the announcement. A majority of fifty had already de-
termined the question, when the patriotic bishop ad-
dressed them in Latin: — "My lords and gentlemen,
hence I will not go. My character and motives have
been misrepresented in your English and French courts ;
my life, therefore, would be endangered ; and, setting
this consideration aside, my ignorance of the French and
Sassenagh languages must incapacitate me from taking
part in the negotiations you contemplate." The Or.
mondists were thunderstruck when thej heard this.
Many of them cried out that the confederation was dis-
solved and utterly ruined by the dissensions of the pre-
lates. Preston rushed out to collect his troops, for the
bishop was guilty of contempt, and it was likely he would
be committed to prison. The gates of Kilkenny were

* Vide llardiman's Hist, of Galway.



closed, and a messenger proceeded to O'Neill's liead-
quarters to inform him of tlie occurrence. When Owen
Roe heard the treatment whicli his friend experienced,
be sent back Avord that he wonld not act very leniently
Avitli the assembly if the slightest indignity were offered
to the prelate.

When the assembly received notice of O'Neill's inten-
tions, they dropped the question, and the Marquess of
Antrim was appointed in place of the bishop. Nor are
we to be surprised at the indignation of Owen Roe at
this moment. MacMa-hon was his confidant and friend ;
they loved each other with the tenderest affection. On
the morning of Beinburb the bishop shrived his chief,
and in that evening's ever-memorable sunset he Avas
charging at his side. MacMahon knew nothing of court
chicane and wily intrigue. The crozier was not any
longer useful to him in protecting his flock, and he
therefore had girt on the sword. He was to O'Neill
what Daiberto, Bishop of Pisa, was to Godfrey,* in
the days of the crusaders, and he would not be sepa-
rated from him. What business had that stern old bishop
in the saloons of St. Germains, when his people were in
arms for their lives, their altars, and homesteads ?

At no former period was there a greater want of
energy on the part of these Ormondists than at the pre-
sent moment. They were now paralysed by the effects
of their own imprudence. The prejudice which they
had excited against O'Neill was the cause of all the dis-
asters in the south ; and even now, when he was ready
to march, at the head of 12,000 foot and 1,500 horse,
they lacked the spirit which was required. But they
dreaded O'Neill, as if he meant to exterminate them,
root and branch ; and they hated the nuncio, as though
he were in concert with him to wrest the ecclesiastical
revenues out of their possession. When energetic action
was required they preferred going a-begging beyond
seas, and they consoled themselves with the hope of
being beneficial to the country by soliciting alms
from des})ots, when they should have been usefully
engaged in hunting them out at home. View it as v:e
will, the remnant of nationality Avas at this moment

* De Rossi " II conte Ugolino.


in the hearts of O'Neill and the clergy, for they alone
were ready and willing to sacrifice all to it.

Those craven cowards, who could fight Avith "courtly
words," were now determined to bring over the Prince
of Wales ; and if they did not succeed in their designs,
they were to insist on the immediate recall of Lord

After a month's discussion, a draft of the instructions
to be given to the respective agents, was submitted to the
supreme council, and corrected by the bishops. When
corrected, they were signed by nine prelates and six lay
peers. The Koman agents were directed to assure the
pope, that they would insist upon such terms as would
secure the free and public exercise of the Catholic reli-
gion, on having a Catholic lord lieutenant, and pub-
lishing the religious articles at the same time with the
civil. They were then to solicit aids ; and, in case a
satisfactory settlement could not be had, they were to
implore the holy father to take on himself the protect-
orate of Ireland.

Those destined to France and Spain were charged to
solicit arms and money, and assistance to procure them
a happy peace ; and if they found such a peace could
not be had, and that the pope would decline the pro-
tectorship, they were to inform themselves where it could
be placed most for the advantage of the nation, and
manage it accordingly.

Such were the instructions ; but an important point
remained to be settled before the departure of the de-
puties — the appointment of members who were to govern
in the assembly whilst they av/aited answers to their
negotiation. The Ormondists proposed the very men
who had been instrumental in concluding the former
peace, and the clergy objected to them. A medium

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Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 19 of 22)