C. P. (Charles Patrick) Meehan.

The confederation of Kilkenny online

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lized in his person, was also in arms, hectoring and va-
pouring over the new alliance. Clanricarde, who wor-
shipped England and everything English, hailed the dark
Btorm which lowered over the land ; for it only con-
cealed from his view for a moment the messiah of
his political faith. That messiah was Ormond. Clan-
ricarde, therefore, abandoned his neutrality, and 3,000
men assembled round him, to march against O'Neill.
Is it for this that

•' Glory guards Clanricardes grave''?

Seven days after the publication of the truce, a crowd


was attracted to St. Canice's cathedral by a strange
document affixed to the gate. It was a sentence of
comminatory excommunication against all who would
respect the truce. On that same day, the Dean of
Fermo, by order of Rinuccini, took down the com-
minatory sentence and substituted another, latce senten-
tice, against all abettors of it, and an interdict against
all cities, towns, and villages in which it should be
received or observed.

Oh I it was a fearful expedient, and there is but one
consideration which can reconcile a true Irish heart to
this hasty proceeding — that is, the preservation of
O'Neill — for was not his life immeasurably more
valuable than a host of such men as Preston, Clan-
ricarde, or Muskerry? Alas', no other reflection
remains to palliate the cruelty of such a measure as
that of an interdict. Harsh and heartless we would
not hesitate to pronounce Rinuccini, if this act were
not meant to throw the segis of his spiritual authority
round the man who fought for the church of his
fathers. But, view it as we will, it was impolitic to
bar the gates which lead from earth to heaven, and
refuse the consolations of religion to the afflicted and
sorrowing spirit. Was it for this that brave hearts
sighed and toiled ? Or could the men who rose for
their religion in the year 1641 have anticipated that ere
seven years a dignitary of their own church would
have quenched the lamp, and forbidden the celebration
of the mass on those very altars for which fihey fought,
and bled, and died.

But, where is Rinuccini ? At day break on the
morning of the 27th he scaled the garden wall of his
house, and accompanied by two attendants, proceeded
through an unfrequented gate to Maryborough, where
jwen Roe lay encamped. The gallant chief Avas
ignorant of the doings at Kilkenny, and when he heard
of the truce he began to think of his personal safety.
His army had not been collected — 700 true hearts were
all the protection which now surrounded him, and when
he learned that it was the nuncio's intention to quit
the country, tongue cannot tell the pathetic grief of
the noble chieftain. Messengers were soon despatched



from Kilkenny with overtures to Rinuccini, inviting
him to return, and offering to cancel the truce if he
would advance £10,000 ; but the die was cast. O NeiU
and the bishops sent back a draft of some propositions
to the supreme council, which, after a lapse of twelve
days, were returned with such modifications as were
not acceptable. The delay in the transmission was to
give Preston an opportunity of collecting all his forces,
and surprising O'Neill. On the twelfth day after his
arrival in Maryborough, a messenger rushed breathless
into the apartment where Owen Roe and the nuncio
were conversing, stating that Preston with ten thousand
men were marching on Birr, four miles distant from the
camp. "At the announcement," says the nuncio,
" O'Neill's features underwent an extraordinary change :
astonishment was the first emotion, and then a sudden
palor shadowed his visage." But Preston did not
advance, and ignorance of O'Neill's numerical inferiority
saved him for the moment.

But the censures and the excommunication were
doing well. Preston's troops began to mutiny. Unlike
their chief they were not all "excommunication proot, '
and 2,000 of them deserted to O'Neill— happily for the
latter ; for when the nuncio sent his confessor to Preston,
in the vain hope of winning him over, he declared that
either he or Owen Roe should speedily perish, and that
the opinion of eight bishops was against the validity of
the censures.

O'Neill and the nuncio bade an eternal adieu to each
other. The former broke up his camp ; and now that
the supreme council had dared to brand him as a rebel,
he hastened to collect his troops. Ten thousand foot,
and fifteen hundred horse soon rallied round the standard
of the " red hand." But let it be the work of him who
has written the Life of Aodh O'Neill to tell how his gal-
lant descendant vindicated the honour of his name ; how
he scared Preston on the broad plains of Leinster, and
baffled five generals at the pass of Ballaghraore. The
nuncio retired to Galway, and the din of arms gave
place for a while to theological controversy.

Walsh was the corriphaeus of those who impugned the


validity of the censures.* Four bishops who had sanc-
tioned the condemnation of the truce, now declared
themselves satisfied with some modifications which had
been introduced, and protested against the nuncio. The
supreme council issued a circular cautioning all ecclesi-
astical authorities against interfering with their subjects
on account of the censures or interdict.

Scandal juid division were the natural results, and a
deputation proceeded to Galway, warning Rinuccini
that an nppeal had been made to Rome against his " un-
canonioal proceedings." A scene ensued which it would
be needless to record. Suffice it to say, that priest was
armed against priest; secular and regular were alternately
engaged in the most acrimonious conflict of controversy ;
nor did greater excitement prevail in the days of Savo-

In vain did the nuncio endeavour to convoke a national
synod. He issued a summons to the bishops on the 13th
of July, to meet him on the 15th. Clanricarde's troops
blocked up every pass. O'Neill, who was now on the
borders of Leitrim, sent two regiments to facilitate the
approach of the bishops who yet remained on his side,
and Colonel Maguire lost his life in storming the Castle
of Drumruisk.

But all too late. The synod never met, and Rinuccini
hastened to retire from that fated land, where, to use his
own sentiment, *'he had never seen the sun." The
schemes and the hopes of his enemies were fully realized.
Ormond landed at Cork on the 29th of September, 1648.
He then proceeded to Carrick-on-Suir, where he was met
by the bishops and members of the supreme council, and
thence marched to Kilkenny. The life of Charles I. ter-
minated almost simultaneously with the existence of the
confederation, and a new era began to dawn on Ireland,
remarkable for its fidelity to that house of Stuart, which,
alas ! but ill requited her unhappy and misgoverned

In the month of February, Rinuccini sailed frmn Gal-
way and proceeded to Rome. -The state of his own

• The gross aspersions cast upon the Jesuits, the chaiapions of the
cross and literature, by this disobedient friar, are as foul as any tha
their m odem maligners have penned.


principality demanded his immediate attention, but it
was necessary that he should give Innocent X. an ac-
count of his luckless nunciature. Some fatality seems to
have been attached to that office. Nicholas Sanders, an
Englishman, sent by Gregory XIII., died of starvation
under a tree in the mountains of Kerry. Owen O'Hagan,
Bishop of Ross, who had been appointed by Clement
VIII., perislied in the wars of Tirowen with a sword in
one hand and a rosary in the other.* Could his prede-
oessors have been called from their graves to meet Rin-
uccini on his return, what a similarity of incident must
they not have narrated ?

Yet, let us do justice to the memory of the man. It
has been asserted, on the authority of Walsh and
the disappointed Callaghan,f that he was met Avith re-
buke on his return to Rome. " Temerarie te gessisti^
are the words which Innocent X. is said to have applied
to him. But any charge from such men as Walsh or
Callaghan should be cautiously received. The former
stands convicted of malignmg many an illustrious name,
and echoed the cry of Ormond's pack, who denounced
the men of 1641 as "bloody rebels." The sycophant of
Ormond could entertain no kindly feeling for Rinuccini,
who laboured to reconcile him to the observance of the
monastic rules, which he boldly disregarded. Aiazzi,
Rinuccini's biographer, informs us that he was offered a
high place of dignity in the pontifical court, which he
modestly declined, preferring his pastoral charge at

Nor let it be said that he was a bigot ; whoever would
make the charge ought to reflect under what circum-
stances Rinuccini had to act. Had he not to contend
with men who were the avowed and unrelenting enemies
of the Irish Catholics ; and would he not have deserved
to be branded as untrue to his charge, if he did not urge
them on to win their own again ? Did he do aught tiiat

• AValsh's Hist, of the Rem. p. 34.

+ The author of the Vindicise Hib. thought to become Bishop of
•rork, but was disappointed by. the Nuncio's veto. He subsequently
t>rodnccd his scurrilous work in reply to a book fi-om the pen of the
kev. Paul King, a pious and patriotic Franciscan friar. V. Bishop
Talbot's " Friar Disciplined."


■was irreconcilable with enlightened policy, in insisting
on freedom of conscience and the untrammelled exercise
of that religion of which he was a minister ?

Will any one blame him for so far interfering in tem-
poral concerns, as to aid the plundered Catholics of
Ulster in wresting their property from the robber gripe
of the undertakers ? Yes : he had an incontrovertible
right to enforce these just demands ; and, when argu-
ment failed, he was justified in resorting to the sword.
Scotland had won religious independence by this wea-
pon, and why should not Ireland have tried it ? Let those
wlio would condemn him on the score of bigotry, reflect
that he was acting against men who had sworn tlie ex-
tirpation of the " idolatrous papists, " and then asktliem-
selves how can they justify their assertion ? His notions,
it is true, were purely Italian : he did not think Catho-
licity could flourish where it was unaccompanied by all
the pomp and splendour which he was accustomed to in
his own sunny clime. Catholicity in Ireland appeared
to him like a leafless branch of the miglity tree, and he
fain would see it in full flower. Perhaps, in this parti-
cular, he erred ; but, according to the rigid laws of
justice, he had a right to insist on the restoration of the
cathedrals and the ecclesiastical revenues to the Ca-
tholic clergy; and who will blame him if he sighed for
the day when he might hear Catholic psalmody pealing
in all the temples of the land ? No, he deserves not the
name of bigot; nor can the charge be sustained.

But a graver accusation is brought against him, — he
is charged with having divided the confederates. This
is an assumption : it supposes that they were united
before his advent. But it is false. Failure was the
result of their divisions, and he vainly sought to con-
vince them that they had within themselves all the ele-
ments of strength and power if they combined. Under
the walls of Dublin, was it his fault if O'Neill and
Preston fell on each other, and gave Ormond the satis-
faction of witnessing the two armies in deadly strife ?
Were not Muskerry and Preston, and Belling and Clan-
ricarde, the sworn friends of Ormond, and the avowed
enemies of thci Ulster Irish and their glorious chief?
But enough : the censures were inexpedient, but in one


eetise they were useful. The man who stood by his
creed had a right to be protected by it. He loved Ire-
land, and would have died for lier independence ; but he
lived to learn that Cromwell triumphed, and shed the
blood of her noblest sons. Amongst those, many werv»
of that party which clung to Rinuccini. They we.-e
faithful to the last, and lion-hearted when others shud
dered at their doom. General Purcell fainted when
Ireton pronounced his death sentence :* and Terence
Albert O'Brien, the bishop of Emly, scorned Ireton to
his teeth, and foretold that he should soon meet him at
the tribunal of God ; — and this was the case ; for the
blood of the bishop was not congealed on the block before
Ireton died of the nlague.

Heber Mac Mahon, bishop of Clogher, died nobly for
fatherland ; but in another place will the record be longer
and more minute. On the list of martyrs to religion and
country, you will nowhere find more illustrious names
than those, and they were all of Kinuccini's party and
sentiments. I dare not contrast Avith them the Ormond-
ists who survived these virtuous and patriotic men.
The storm swept harmlessly over their heads. Ormoud
got more by the revolution than his Norman ancestors
won bv the sword : his fortunes, and those of his ad-
herents, Avere created out of the ruin of the Catholics ;
for tliey Avere scattered to the four winds of heaven.

But It is time to record one proof of Kinuccini's love
of Ireland. On his return he caused frescoes to be
painted in the archiepiscopal palace at Fermo, of the
actions Avhich had been fought during his nunciature ;
the bad taste of one of his successors caused them to be
destroyed. It is to be regretted, for they Avould have
throAvn a light on this period of our history. How
gladly would the pilgrim turn from the tomb of Hugh
I O'Neill to the pictures of Bunratty, Beinburb, and BaU

^ ' laghjuore ! But all that now remains, in that old city,

to°recaU tnc memory of the man, is the monumental

The summaiY of an eventful life maybe collected from

a single line engraved upon it : —

" Ad foBderatos Catholicos .Hibemiaa pontiflcia legatione functo.'

I I » I5ib. Dom.


i , ~ ■ — ==»—-...


Above that tomb many of our exiled chieftains liave
trod and wept. Many a prayer, too, has been offered
within the cathedral of Fermo for " the dear old land 1"
Oh ! may she soon arise from thraldom and provinciaiisiiif
to take her place amid the nations 1



Referred to at page 52.
Counties. Infantry.

Westmeath 3000

Meath 3000









Kildare 3000

Wexford 3000

King's County 2800

Queen's County 2400

Wicklow 2400

Dublin 2000



Kilkenny City and County 3000

Louth 1700

Longford 3000




Carlow 2400



Total 31 700

owing let
yarded hy
organ and


any newes
ent to the
as cheere-


I HAVE thought >t advisable to insert the foil
ter, referred to at page 120. It has been re
some as evidence of a collusion between Glare
Lord Ormond : —


*' My dearest heart, I hope these will prevent
shal come unto you of me, since my comittm
Castle of Dublin. To which I assure thee I went


fully and as willingly as they could wish, whosoever thej
were by whose meanes it was procured, and should as
unwillingly goe foorth, were the gates both of the Castle
and Town open unto me, until I were cleered, as they
are willing to make me unserviceable to the King, and
lay me aside, who have procured for me this restraint ;
When I consider thee a Woman, as I thinke, I know you
are, I feare least you should be apprehensive : but when
I reflect that you are of the House of Thomond, and that
you were once pleased to say these words unto me. That
I should never, in tendernesse of you, desist from doing,
what in honour I was obliged to doe, I grow confident,
that in this you w^ill now shew your magnanimity, and
by it the greatest testimony of affection, that you can
possibly afford me ; and am also confident, that you
know me so well, that I need not tell you how cleare I
am, and void of feare, the only effect of a good con -
science, and that I am guilty of nothing, that may tes-
tifie one thought of disloyalty to his Majestie, or of what
may staine the honour of the family I come of, or set a
Brand upon my future posteritie. Courage (my heart)
were I amongst the King's Enemies you might feare ;
but being only a prisoner amongst his Friends and faith-
ful Subjects, you need doubt nothing, but that this cloud
will be soone dissipated, by the Sunne-shine of the King
my Master, and did you but know how well and merry
I am, you would bee as little troubled as my selfe, who
have nothing that can afflict me, but lest your apprehen-
sion might hurt you, especially since all the while I
could get no opportunity of sending, nor yet by any
certaine probable meanes, but by my Cousin Bruertons,
Master Mannerings, our Cousin Constable of the Castle,
and my Lord Lieutenant's leave : and I hope you and I
shall live to acknowledge our obligation to them, there
being nothing in this world that I desire more, then you
should at least heare from me ; And believe it (sweet
heart) were I before the Parliament in London, I could
justify, both the King and my selfe in what I have done,
And so I pray acquaint my Father, who I know so cau-
tious, that he would hardly accept a Lettor from me,
j but yet I presume most humbly to ask his blessing, and

i as heartily as I send mine to pretty Mall, and I hope

this day or to morrow will set a period to my businesse.




to the shame of those who liave been occasioners of
it: but I must needs say from my Lord Lieutenant, and
the Privie Councell here, I have received as much jus-
tice, nobleness and favour, as I could possibly expect :
the Circumstances of these proceedings are too long to
write unto you, but I am confident all will prove to my
greater honour; And my Right Honourable accuser,
my Lord George Digby, will be at last rectified and con-
firmed in the good which he is pleased to say lie ever
had of me hitherto, as the greatest afiliction that he
ever had, did doe what his conscience enforced hira
unto, and indeed did wrap up the bitter pill of the Im-
peachment of suspition of high Treason in so good
words, as that I swallowed it, with the greatest ease in
the world, and it hath hither had no other operation,
then that it hath purged Melancholy : for as 1 was not
at the present not any way dismayed, so have I not
since been any way at all disheartened. So I pray let
not any of my friends that's there, believe any thing,
nntill ye have the perfect relation of it from my sclfe.
And this request I chiefly make unto you, to whom I
remaine a most faithfull, and most passionately devoted
Husband and servant, " Glamorgan.

" Remember my service to my Brother, my cosin
Browne, and the rest of my good friends."

** London : Printed for Edward Husband, Printer to the
Honorable House of Commons. March 17, 1645."

This document, preserved in the original at Rome, has
6een translated in that great organ of Catholicity, the
Dublin Review : .March !*il/>. It maybe regarded as
a perfect picture of that portion of Ireland which came
immediately under the notice of the Italian writer, who
is thought to have been Father Arr.amoni, the nuncio's
confessor. This letter must have been written imme-
diately after the arrival of the nuncio

' ' The courtesy of the poor people among whom my
lord the nuncio took up his quarters, was unexampled.


A fat bullock, two sheep, and a porker, were instantlj'
slaughtered, and an immense supply of beer, butter,
and milk, was brought to him •, and even we, who were
still on board, experienced the kindness of the poor
fishermen, who sent us presents of excellent fish and
oysters of most prodigious size in the utmost abundance.
While we were creeping along in the frigate, in the
track of the nuncio, I observed a harbour about half-a-
mile in length, and a pistol-shot in breadth, so very
beautiful, that curiosity led me to take the boat and go
on shore, for the purpose of examining the wonders of
the place. In a short time I was surrounded by an
immense multitude of men, women, and boys, who had
come running down from different places in the mountains
to see me ; and some of them happening to observe the
crucifix which I wore on my breast, they all made a
circle round me, and kissed it one after another. After
this, they ma,de signs of the greatest afiection and
friendship to me, and conducted me, almost perforce, to
one of the nearest huts, where I was seated on a cushion
stuffed with feathers ; and the mistress of the house, a
venerable old dame, sat down beside me along with her
daughters, and offered to kiss me, according to the
usage of the country; and had I not explained by
signs, that this would not be becoming in one who bore
Christ crucified on his breast, and who accompanied the
nuncio as priest, I think they would have been offended.
The old dame then brought me in a wooden vessel, a
great draught of most delicious milk, expressing the
utmost anxiety that I should drink it. As it was of a most
excellent flavour I drank copiously of it, and was quite
revived by the draught. They all endeavoured to stand
as close to me as possible, and those who were able to
touch me, considered themselves happy ; so that it was
with difficulty I could disengage myself from them, in
order to return to the frigate : on the contrary, they
wished to escort me to the very water edge, and some
of the young men wished to accompany me altogether.
What is most remarkable, is, that in these wild and
mountainous places, and among a poor people who are
reduced to absolute misery, by the devastations of the
heretic enemy, I found, notwithstanding, the noble
influence of our holy Catholic faith, for there was not



one, man, woman, or child, however small, AVho could
not repeat, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Creed,
and the commandments of the Holy Church.

" The country through which we have passed, though
mountainous, is agreeable ; and, being entirely pasture-
land, is most abundantly stocked with cattle of every
kind. Occasionally one meets a long tract of valley,
interspersed with woods and groves ; vhich, as they are
neither high nor densely planted, partake more of the
agreeable than of the gloomy. For seventy miles the
country which we met was almost all of this character ;
but having once crossed the mountains, we entered
upon an immense plain, occasionally diversified with
hills and valleys, highly cultivated, and enriched witu
an infinite nural)er of cattle, especially oxen and sheep ;
from the latter of which is obtained the very finest of
what is called English wool.

** The men are fine-looking and of incredible strength ;
they are stout runners, and bear every sort of hard-
ship with indescribable cheerfulness. They are all
devoted to arms, and especially now that they are at
war. Those who apply themselves to the study of lite-
rature are most learned ; and you meet persons of every
profession and science among them.

"The women are remarkably tall and beautiful, and
display a charming union of gracefulness with modesty
and devotion. Their manners are marked by extreme
simplicity ; and they freely mix in conversation every-
where, without suspicion or jealousy. Their costume
is different from ours, and somewhat resembles the
French ; except that they wear, besides, a long cloak
and profuse locks of hair, and go without any head-
dress, contenting themselves with a kind of handker-
chief, almost after the Greek fashion, which displays
their natural beauty to great advantage. They are ex-
tremely prolific, and almost all the women who marry
have large families. There are some who have as many
as thirty children alive ; and the number of those who
have from fifteen to twenty is immense ; and they all
are handsome, tall, and robust, the majority being light-
haired, and of a clear white and red complexion.

'* They give most superb entertainments both of licsh
and fish, for they have both in the greatest abimdaact


They are perpetually pledging healths, the usual drinic
being Spanish wines, French claret, most delicious
beer, and most excellent milk. Butter is used on all
occasions, and there is no species of provisions which
is not found in the greatest abundance. As yet we
have all accommodated ourselves to the usages of tlie
country. [A line is here effaced.] They also eat fruit,

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Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 21 of 22)