C. P. (Charles Patrick) Meehan.

The confederation of Kilkenny online

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M^as therefore agreed upon, that an equal number of both
should be chosen ; but Muskerry had made an arrange-
Uient early in the session, which in a great measure
sadly discomfited the party which was opposed to liis

As members might be absent on an occasion when it
wuuld be necessary to sign or issue orders, he proposed
that Hupernumeraries should be appointed to fill tlieir
places ; and the result was, that forty-§ight were ap-


pointed who were all devoted to the interests of Or-
mond and MuskerrN*. In vain did the prelates protest
against this arrangement; and the bishop of Ferns, see-
ing that his absence was a trick devised by the anti-
clerical body, would fain withdraw from the embassy ;
but the Ormondists were now in a majority — masters of
the assembly ; and the council were, almost to a man, in
favour of their views.

The prelates knev/ well that Ormond would never
consent to any peace which would leave the Catholics in
possession of the churches, and the public exercise of
religion with all its splendour ; and they accordingly
drew up a document which tliey signed, pledging them-
selves tliat they would never consent that the queen or
prince of Wales should be invited over till the religious
articles sliould be secured, or that any peace shoidd be
made which would tend to lessen the public exercise of
their religion.

French and Plunket sailed from Waterford on the 10th
of February ; but. meeting with storms, were forced to
put back, and sailed again on the 17th. They brought
with them a strange document, signed by Owen 0'2^eill
and eight bishops, entreating the pope to raise Rinuccini
to the dignity of cardinal. Muskerry and Brown sailed
soon after ; — nor should it be forgotten that there was a
strict understanding between the nuncio and Muskerry,
that a special provision should be made for restoring the
" old Irish" to their plundered estates in Ulster. But
Muskerry was not sincere when he acquiesced in this
matter, for he had no notion tliat such justice should be
done the kinsmen and abettors of the man who had been
.1 thorn in the side of Ormond. Yet it is not honourable
to his memory that he left an impression on liinuccini's
mind that O'Neill would be restored, at the very mo-
ment when he was cordially opposed to such an ad-
justment. *

Th'e Earl of Antrim, whose services in the king's caua
entitled him to a much higher place in the royal esteem
sailed before his colleagues ; and he tliought he wool
have been immediately appointed lord lieutenant. B

» Carte, ii. 20.


he was a Catholic ; and he had soon reason enough to
find himself undeceived. Could the urgent instance of
the nuncio and the Irish bishops have carried this point,
a great good would have been effected ; but Glamorgan
was refused ; and such was the fatal leaning to the bi-
fronted Ormond, that all hopes of the queen and prince
were centred in him.

They landed at St. Malo on tlie 14th of March, and

soon afterwards waited on the queen at St. Germains

TaafFe and Preston, who M'ere humbled by their recent
defeat, were now siding with the Ormond party in the
cry for peace, and forwarded private instructions to
Ormond, assuring him of their devotion to his interests,
but, above all, of their hatred of the nuncio, O'Neill,
^nd the prelates, whom they represented as plotting the
introduction of some foreign power. They expressed
the most ardent desire for the advent of the Prince of
Wales, and only wanted assistance to march against
O'Neill, who was the only obstacle they dreaded. But
in case the prince would decline coming into Ireland,
they entreated to be furnisiied witli such instructions as
should guide them in all things conformable to the royal

On the question of religion, however, they were pro-
foundly silent. As it had been agreed that this point
should not be touched tiU some communication came
from the deputies who had gone to Rome. The chief
and grand subjects which engaged their negotiation re-
garded temporal concessions, which were calculated to
secure to them their estates ; nor did they get a final
answer from the queen till the 13th of May.

That answer rated them on. tlieir rebellious conduct
in rejecting the former peace ; and to this fruitful soui'ce
were ascribed all tlie misfortunes of Ireland and of the
king himself. Adverting, then, to the question of re-
ligion, she assured the Marquess of Antrim in parti-
.cular, "that, under existing circumstances, there was
no giving them a final and conclusive answer ; but she
assured them, that she would soon give them some, such
as she should think fit to receive in Ireland more par-
ticular and full propositions from the Irish confederates ;
and that the person thus authorized should be instructed


in whatever was consistent with justice and his majes-
ty's honour."*

Such was the queen's reply. Much like every other
royal speech dictated by the minister, and far more full
of promise than good intentions. Ormond dictated it —
Queen Maria pronounced it. The person to be autho-
rized to restore peace to Ireland was the Marquess of
Ormond, and his adherents hastened back to prepare for
his advent.

Ormond, who had been secretly treating with Inchi
quin before the surrender of Dublin, still kept up a cor-
respondence with him ; and he had no reason to be dis-
appointed. Inchiquin was to the parliament what
Preston WaS ^o tlie confederates, fond of changing sides,
and actuated more by private resentments than a sense
of public duty to their respective parties. The vacilla-
tion of both these men was of great use to Ormond ;
and he could not but be rejoiced when he learned that
" Murrogh of the burnings" had once more declared for
the king. The monies which had been advanced to him
by the parliament, he declared were insufficient for the
payment and maintenance of his troops ; and, after a
short repose, he took the field again, and threatened
to re-enact the tragedy of Cashel in the city of Water-
ford. The vigilance of the garrison, however, com-
pelled him to abandon his deadly intentions, and he
marched into the county Kilkenny, murdering the pea-
santry, and exacting contributions. Jones, whose army
was reduced to great straits in Dublin, finding that
O'Neill's troops had retired on Kilkenny, now marched
out of the city, and secured provisions, having reduced
Maynooth Castle, which was but feebly garrisoned ; and
the simultaneous movements of Inchiquin and the par-
liament-governor of Dublin led many to think that it was
a preconcerted design between them both.f

The presence of O'Neill saved Kilkenny at this
moment, for Inchiquin had not the ability or the force to
meet him. All the mischief which Murrogh had com-
mitted up to the present did not amount to more than
mere border raids, and the supreme council held a
meeting at Clonmel, where Rinuccini made an ofier,

« Carte. f Rinuccini. p. 296.


cn the part of Owen Roe, to advance into Munster, and
quarter his army in the very cantonments occupied
by Inchiquin's troops. But all these overtures were
rejected by the Ormondists, who had rather see O'Neill
extinguished than Inchiquin suffer the least molesta-

Exasperated by this determined opposition, which led
him to think that he was to be victimized, to the im-
placable resentment of Muskerry and his partizans,
O'Neill sent word to the council that he Avould imme-
diatly retire into the north, and leave them to shift for
themselves. But such was the nuncio's influence Avith
him, that he was induced to protract his stay in Leinster,
to keep watch and ward over the faction which was
secretly plotting his ruin. An event had lately trans-
pired which added to the hatred already conceived for
Owen Roe by the Ormondists. Whilst Rinuccini was
eagerly expecting the arrival of the Dean of Fermo,
with the supplies of money from Rome, the ship so
long expected was signalled from the ramparts of Dun-
cannon, and the Dean Massari landed at Waterford on
the 23rd of March. Along with the money there came
a letter from the pope to Oft'en Roe, extolling his love
for the religion of his fathers, and his chivalrous devo-
tion to his native land. The sword of the Earl of
Tyrone, "which had rifted the field like lightning at
Beal-an-atha-Buidhe," had been carefully preserved by
Father Luke Wadding ; and the hand of the pontiff
blessed the blade, and ordered it to be given to him
who well could wield it. This simple circumstance,
taken in c^Onnexion with O'Mahony's book, was the
signal for an outcry. O'Neill was to be a king ; the
book was the declaration of his sovereignty, and that
sword was the emblem of royalty. Henceforth no
matter on what side he stood, as long as a man could be
found to oppose him, O'Neill was doomed to ruin and

But the real intentions of Ormond's abettors did not
transpire till about the beginning of April, when Colonel
John Barry, the companion of Ormond in his flight from
London, landed in Ireland. He immediately gave out

GaU. of Irish Writers, p. 98.


•hat the marquess had a secret commission from the
'cing to treat with Tnchiquin, and having been furnished
/rith a safe conduct by the supreme council, he hastened
lo notify them of the fact. The Scotch who were
looped up in the seaport towns in Ulster, were anxious
\) change sides, and nothing now remained but the
coming of Ormond to unite all parties in a determined
league against Jones in Dublin and all those who were
in the interest of the parliament.

The supreme council gladly seized the opportunity of
writing to Murrogh, proposing a truce ; but, affecting
to disregard them, his answer was addressed to Dr.
Fennell, one of Ormond's creatures, demanding 4,000
dollars per month as the price of his adhesion. This
was gladly accepted, and the men who would not give a
fraction to O'Neill, readily accepted the offer of him
whose hands were stained with the blood shed at Cashel.
Two months before the supreme council had resolved
to raise an army of 7,000 infantry and 700 horse, but
now that Ormond was to come, tiie project was
abandoned, for he, forsooth, was a host in himself, and
nothing but his presence was required.

A proclamation, calling a meeting of the confederates
at Kilkenny on the 20th of April, was now circulated
throughout the land, and many and various were the
anticipations to which it gave rise. The question
which was to fix attention, was a treaty or truce with
Inchiquin. The Ormondists hailed it as the comsumma-
tion of their hopes, for it would restore their idol to power.
But, alas ! there were many who could easily foresee
that in the coming session the prophetic warning, too
often disregarded in Ireland, was to be fulfilled to the
very letter: — "Every kingdom divided shall be made

Owen Roe was at Dunamase, girt by his faitliful fol-
lowers, while the confederates were assembling in the
'Aty of Kilkenny. Sad and anxious were the moments
■which the gallant chieftain spent in the ancient halls of
the O'Moores, waiting the result of the delib(*rations of
his friends and foes. Oh ! how the lordly soul of the
Ulster general must have burned with indignation, whei
he reflected that the destinies of his country were now
to be poised by the descendants of those Norman


barons who had secretly sworn to destroy him and
his. And all this, to propitiate Ormond and Murrogh
O'Brien ! The craven slaves had tied up his hands,
when he was ready to strike a blow which might have
saved the country; and they were now ready to pur-
chase the friendship of a blood-stained wretch, even at
the price of his extinction. What wonder, if he let
loose the creaghts whom these pusillanimous temporizers
so much dreaded? But the influence of the nuncic
withheld him. The dean of Fermo had come from the
Vatican, to convey to him the blessing of the holy
father. A considerable sum of money, from the same
source, and by the same agency, was placed at his dis-
posal ; and from the ramparts of that stronghold he often
turned his looks in the direction of Kilkenny, awaiting
the signal which was to call him forth to battle again
for tlie land of his sires. But, alas ! division and dis-
sensions have ever been the bane of Ireland. Such
were the causes which brought the Norman to our
shores ; and now the same spirit of discord was destined
t) work our ruin again : —

" Ex illo fluere, ac retro sublapsa refeiTi

Spes Danaum, fractae vires, aversa Dei mens."

Rinuccini was at Waterford when a letter from the
supreme council, now packed with the adherents of
Ormond, summoned him to attend the assembly. An
intercepted despatch from Inchiquin, which revealed a
conspiracy against the life of O'Neill, had fallen into his
hands; and some dark hints about an attempt to be
isade on his own person caused him to pause.

Before he ventured amongst tliem, he addressed a
reply to their summons, which set forth that, as they
were unable to carry on the war against Jon'es in Dublin
and Inchiquin in Munster, it was deemed expedient to
treat with ths latter, and thus leave them free to march
against Jon9s, and make themselves masters of the

But Rinuccini knew that it was a foregone conclusion,
and that they had determined to carry their point
against all opposition. He therefore wrote to the council,
to dissuade them, if possible, from making any truce
with Murrogh O'Brien. He besought them, above al'


things, to consider well the character of the man who**
hand they were now ready to grasp. That hand was
red with the blood so wantonly shed at Cashel ; and, but
a few days before, he who was now meditating an alliance
with them was anxious to take their lives, even at the
very walls of Kilkenny. " What!" -yvrote the nuncio,
"are you now going to bestow on Inchiquin those
monies which, if properly allocated, would send O'Neill's
army into the south, and utterly destroy those bandits
who, being disregarded by the parliament, are driven by
necessity to court your friendship? Europe is shocked
at the atrocities of this man, and will you parley with
him when you ought to avenge your brethren, sacrile-
giously murdered and plundered by his brigands. Ces-
sations and truces have been the ruin of the coun^
try, and are you to make terms with a man who, if he
were not driven out by the famishing state of
his troops, would not dare to take the field ?

"Let me supplicate you to do something worthy of
yourselves and the confederacy. You have an army
ready to march, — send it into Munster, and leave me
free to inform the holy father that you have restored re-
ligion, and rescued the peasantry from the cruel and ex-
orbitant taxation imposed by a man on whose sincerity
you can place no reliance. I will attend your summons,
but before I come I have thought it well to put you in
possession of my sentiments."*

His epistle met a prompt and argumentative reply.
Inchiquin was fortified in almost all the strong places in
the south. It was not now the time to undertake sieges,
even though they had the means; "and granting that
( VNeill's army could be sent into Munster, are we to
suppose," said the Ormondists, " that Jones and the other
parliamentarian generals will remain inactive? What
terms can we expect from the queen and Prince of Wales,
if. instead of niakhig war against their avowed enemies,
we reject the overtures of a man who is willing to figlit
with us under the same standard and for the same cause ?
The churches which he has desecrated we will restore,
and our care will be to see tlie plundered peasantry in-
demnified for their losses. Let us not then reject the

* Philop. Inen.


overtures of the man whom our refusal will exasperate,
and drive back to the ranks of the parliament, and fi-
nally induce him to give Cork, Youghal, and Kinsale
into their hands. What doubts could be obtained of his
fidelity to the new cause since he had imprisoned those
who refused to sign for the king ? And as to his rapa-
city and sacrileges, which the Christian world must exe-
crate, remember that our own countrymen are at this
moment spoiling the peasantry almost under the walls of
Dublin. Write, therefore, to Rome — supplicate the
holy father to send us aid through Plunket and the
Bishop of Ferns ; and now that we are no longer appre-
hensive of Inchiquin, let us make a stern struggle for
the cause of that king to whom our oath of association
conscientiously binds us."

An additional argument was borrowed from the sup-
position that he sanctioned a truce which O'Neill was
about to negotiate with the Scotch, as if to convict him
of factious inconsistency. But these arguments were
unavailing. Rinuccini was firm in his resolve to oppose
the truce with Inchiquin. He dictated a letter in reply
to this, arguing that the parliamentarians in Dublin were
as badly off as the troops of Inchiquin in the south,
and that immediate action against one and the other was
more necessary than truces and diplomacy. He treated
the assumed inability of the confederates to carry on the
war as the result of pusillanimity, and concluded by de-
nying that he ever was concerned in any truce between
O'Neill and the Scotch.

But the object of this correspondence was to induce
the nuncio to proceed to Kilkenny, on the assurance that
nothing should be done " without his entire satisfac-
tion ;" but, in fact, it was not for the purpose of gaining
his concurrence, but rather to secure a portion of the
money which had been recently sent from Rome.

He proceeded, however, and the session commenced
on the 20th of April ; — it was doomed to be the last in
which he was ever to take part.

The question which now fixed the attention of Ireland
was that which had already formed the subject of the
correspondence between the nuncio and the supreme
coun-.il. The long catalogue of the reverses sustained
by the confederate arras, and the difficult es to which


Ireland was reduced, furnished ample matter for the elo-
quence as well as intrigue of both parties.

The enemy, said the Ormondists, is almost at your
doors. Jones, aided by the rebel parliament of England,
is only waiting his opportunity to march against you,
ind Inchiquin in the south will soon be in a condition to
operate with him, if you reject the truce which he offers.
Under such circumstances, you cannot pause a moment
to conclude with him. We are destitute of means, and
cannot oppose him. The political articles which he pro-
poses are unobjectionable, and the two which regard re-
ligion must prove satisfactory in our present disastrous

The articles touching that most important subject
stipulated that no confederate Catholic should suffer any
injury in the free exercise of his religion, so long as the
said cessation should be observed ; tliat the property in
the actual possession of tlie clergy as well as of the
laity shall remain in the same undisturbed^state as it
had been whm the cessation commenced,'

Such were the conditions made by Inchiquin in the
matter of religion ; and be it observed, that it was re-
solved that the Catholic religion should not be exercised
in his quarters or garrisons. The enlightened policy of
Europe at the present day will not tolerate the perse-
cution of the Christian of any denomination in Turkey ;
and are we to wonder that an enlightened Italian, in the
year 1648, would not sign his consent to such terms on
behalf of the Catholics of Ireland ?

He took, however, the real view of the case, and re-
jected the terms, as far from consonant to the spirit of
the oath by which the confederates had bound them-

* The following are the articles of InchiquJn's treaty:—
" It is agi-eed and resolved, that none professing the Catholic reli-
gion, cleric or laic, suffer any molestation or detriment ft'om *.he Lord
Inchiquin, or any of his adherents, on account of the free exercise of
religion, and the perfomiance of its functions, during the continuance
of this truce, always excepting that it he not practised or exercised in
the garrisons or quarters of the said Lord Inchiquin.

" 2ndly. It is agreed and resolved, that the property pertaining to
laics and clerics, now in their possession, he secured to them respec-
tively, and continue to them, without any detriment, from the day on
which 'u'i truce commenced, with the same advantages as hefore, pro-
vided that they suhmit to this agreement, and do not decline to pay
the taxes and afford their contrihutions to the public cause."


selves, and manfully scorned the truce on such disho-
nourable proposals.

But the Ormondists in the council gladly acquiesced,
and, in a true sense, may be said to have preferred their
monarch and the possession of their revenues to their
God and religion.

"Make no truce with this man," said the nuncio,
" he has three times changed sides. If the massacre at
Cashel has left no trace on your memories, recollect that
a month ago he pillaged the town of Carriek, and slew
the inhabitants, who Avere Catholics, palliating the atro-
city by asserting he could not restrain bis soldiers. Re-
member, too, that he has driven the Catholic clergy out
of the cathedral of Callan, and introduced those who do
not profess your religion. Talk not of your inability to
carry war into his quarters. The army under Jones has
been worn out watching O'Neill during the summer, and
does not amount to more than 3,000 men. Preston,
with the troops recently levied in Leinster, ought to be
able to meet him. Inchiquin has not more than 3,0(M)
men in MAinster ; they are naked and hungry, and you
fear him when you ought to despise him. In Connaught
and Ulster, the Scotch are able to do little more than
commit robberies for their sustenance. At the present
moment Owen O'Neill has an army of more than 6,000
men. He is ready to act against Inchiquin in the south,
and I will supply monies to pay his troops, and thus rid
you of these scruples with which the ravages of his
soldiers have so long aflBicted you. I exhort you to
union of lieart and purpose ; and remember that your
rulers of England have never treated you. Catholics,
with respect, except when you stood in a united and for-
midable league."* The energetic remonstrance of the
nuncio produced an instantaneous effect. John, Arch-
bishop of Tuam, whose political tendencies were on the
side of Clanricarde, and consequently of Ormondi
seized a pen, and signed the condemnation of the truce,
and the same course was immediately adopted by thir,
teen of the bishops. But the truce had been already
concludtd between the Ormondists and Inchiquin a

» Rin. pp S12, 420


It had scarcely been signed when the Ormondists
proclaimed through the country that peace was restored,
and that they were soon to march on Dublin, and
drive Jones from the metropohs. Mountgarret, a*
the head of 300 horse, entered Kilkenny, to intimidate
the refractory and enforce obedience. But there was^
terrible weapon still in reserve. The sword of Aoah
O'Neill was not potent to carry out the nuncio's views,
and he determined to have recourse to another, which,
if it did not pierce the flesh, effectually contributed to
divide the spirit.

Inchiquin's designs against O'Neill were now deve-
loped. Preston and Murrogh united their forces. They
had pledged themselves to see the truce observed, and
to resort to violence when it might be deemed necessary
Heavens ! that the petty feeling of jealousy could insti-
gate the scion of the house of Gormanstown to grasp
the bloody hand of Inchiquin, and pledge himself to de-
stroy the gallant O'Neill. Yet such was the case. All
who did not obey that fatal truce were to be pursued as
rebels, Fourteen bishops, the majority of the clergy,
and the popular feeling, were opposed to it. O'Neill was
Btill the unshaken friend of the hierarchy, and was in-
volved in the same condemnation. Far better for Pres-
ton that he had nobly fallen under the walls of Louvain,
■when his laurels wiere fresh, than live to conspire against
the braver and the nobler soldier ; but he represented in
his own person the deadly hatred of his class for the
"old Irish" nobility. Taaffe, that braggart who found
that the prophecy of Knock-na-gaoll was not to be rea-

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Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 20 of 22)