C. P. (Charles Patrick) Meehan.

The confederation of Kilkenny online

. (page 3 of 22)
Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 3 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

neers, magistrates, noblemen, cities, and provinces may
Ve tied together with the holy bond of union and con-
cord, and for the conservation and exercise of this
union," they ordained the following points : —

" I. — Whereas, the war which now in Ireland the Catholics do main-
tain against sectaries, and chiefly against Puritans, for the defence of
the Catholic religion, — for the maintenance of the prerogative and
royal rights of our gracious Iving Charles, — for our gracious Queen, so
unworthily abused by the Puritans, — for the honor, safety, and health
of their royal issue, — for to avert and repair the injuries done to them,—
for the conversion of the just and lawful safeguard, liberties, and rights
of Ireland, — and, lastly, for the defence of tlieir own lives, fortunes,
lands, and possessions; — whereas this war is undertaken for the fore-
said causes against unlawful usui-pers, oppressors, and the enemies of
the Catholics, chiefly Puritans, and that hereof we are informed, as
well by divers and true remonstrances of divers provinces, counties,
and noblemen, as also by the unanimous consent and agreement of
Rlmost the whole kingdom in tliis war and union, — we, therefore, de-
clare ttiat war, openly Catholic, to be lawful and just; in which war, U
■ jome of the Catholics be found to proceed out of some particular and
unjust title— covetousness, cruelty, revenge, or hatred, or any such
unlawful private intentions — we declare them therein grievously to sin,
and therefore worthy to be punished and restrained with ecclesiastical
censures if, advised thereof, they do not amend.

"11. — Whereas the adversaries do spread divers rumours, do writ*
divers letters, and, under the King's name, do print proclamationa,
which are not the Kine'"s, by which means divers plots and dangeia


may ensue unto our nation ; we, therefore, to stop the way of untnith,
and forgeries of political adversaries, do will and command that no
such rumours, letters, or proclamations may have place or belief untU
it be known in a national council, whether they tnxly proceed from the
King, left to his own freedom, and until agents of tliig kiugdom,
hereafter to be appointed by the National Council, have free passiige to
liis Majesty, whereby the kingdom may be certainly informed of his
Majesty's intention and will.

" 111. — We straightly command all our inferiors, as well churchmen
as laymen, to make no alienatimi, comparison, or difference between
provinces, cities, towTis, or families; and lastly, not to begin or foi-ward
any emulations or comparisons whatsoever.

" IV That in every province of Ireland there be a council made

up, both of clergy and nobility, in which council shall be so many
persons, at least, as are counties in the province, and out of eveiy city
or notable town, two persons.

" V — Let one general council of the whole kingdom be made,
both of the clergy, nobility, cities, andnota'ile towns, in which council
there shall be three out of every province, and out of everj- city, one;
or where cities are not, out of the chiefest towns. To this councU
the pr«vincial councils shall have subordination, and from thence to it
may be appealed, until this National Council shall have opportunity to
Bit together.

"VI — Let a faithful inventory be made, in everj' province, of the
murders, burnings, and other cruelties which are permitted by the
Puritan enemies, with a quotation of the place, day, cause, manner, and
persons, and other circumstances, nubscribed by one of public

" VII.— "We do declare and jnd;?o a31 and every such as do forsake
this union, light for our enemien, accompany them in their war, defend
Br in any way assist them, to be excommimicated, and, by these
presents, do excommunicate them.

" VIII. — We will and declare all those that murder, dismember, or
grievously strike, all thieves, unlawful spoilers, robbers of any goods, to
be excommunicated, and so to remain tiU they completely amend
and satisfy, no less than if they were namely proclaimed excom-

The national synod did not break up till about the end
of May, and long before that period the proclamations,
issued by the prelates and lay -lords, calling on the people
to take the oath of association, had the happiest results.
Agents from the synod crossed over into France, Spain,
and Italy, to solicit support and sympathy from the Ca-
tholic princes. Father Luke Wadding was indefatigably
employed collecting monies, and inciting the Irish of-
ficers serving in the continental armies to return, and give
theii' services to their own land. Nor was this all. The
most favourable terms were offered to foreign merchants,
who would undertake to land munitions of Avar on the
Irish shores ; men skilled in the manufacture of arms were
invited to come and reside amongst the Catholics.


^f)d to carry on their trade with exemption from
taxes, and other lucrative advantages to themselves and
families. Lord Mountgarret was appointed President of
the Council, and the October following was jBxed for a
general assembly of the whole kingdom.

Soon after the battle of Kilrush, Lord Lisle landed at
Dublin, with his own regiment of 600 horse carbiniers,
and another of 300 dragoons. A portion of these troops
was distributed between Drogheda and Dundalk, and
Lord Lisle lingered at Dublin awaiting orders from the
justices. At this time Letitia, Baroness Ophaly,
grand-daughter to Gerald, eleventh earl of Kildare, was
besieged in her castle of Geashill, in the King's County,
by the O'Dempsies, under the command of Lewis, lord
Clanmalier. This heroine, who inherited the chivalrous
spirit of the Geraldines, boldly resisted the overtures
and menaces of the besiegers, and finally contri\'^d to
send a messenger to Sir Charles Coote, then at Naas,
soliciting him to come to her aid. Her request was
granted ; and Lord Lisle was appointed to command the
expedition. He proceeded with Coote and a force of 600
men to Philipstown, and thence to the residence of the
baroness, from before which the O'Dempsies retired on
their approach. On their return they rendered assistance
to Sir John Giffard, at Castlejordan, " and burning the
country all the way as they marched,"* took the castle
of Trim, which had been abandoned by the Lords Fingall,
Gormanstown, Slane, and Trimbleston. When they were
about to retire, they left nearly 500 men in the neigh-
bourhood, who, rashly thinking they might recover the
castle, determined to attack the troops commanded by
the sanguinary Coote. Accordingly, on the 7th of May,
about daybreak, they invested that old Norman strong-
hold, and a sally was made by the garrison, in which the
be.siegers were repulsed with loss. But, if they had no
other success, they rid themselves of an implacable
enemy. Coote was shot dead, and, in the words of his
eulogist, " Trim was the tragic stage whereon he acted
his last part." f His body was conveyed to Dublin, where
it was buried, and as an acknowledgment of his services,
the justices, with the consent of the Earl of Leicester,

• Carte's Ormoncl, 131S. t Thorpe's Collection— R.. D. S.



appointed his eldest son Provost Marshal of Co»i-

But if the confederates had reason to regret their
losses in Leinstcr, they had also good reason to congra-
tulate themselves on the progress of events in the south
and west. The justices were cooped up in Dubhn,
importuning the parhament to send them supplies of
men and money. They could not carr> on the war
against the confederates on an extensive scale, and their
expeditions from tlie city into the neighbouring country
had more the character of border raids than a regu
lar warfare. In fact, the want of provisions was sorelj
felt in the city, and it required all the dexterity of Par-
sons and Ormond to repress the mutinous dispositions'
•which were every day exhibiting themselves amongst
the Puritan soldiers.

The defeat which the Irish had sustained before Cork
was soon succeeded by the capture of Limerick. Early
in June, Pierce Butler, Viscount Skerrin, Lord Mus-
kerry, and General Barry, with a numerous body of
ill-disciplined troops, sat down before the city ; the
inhabitants were weary of tyranny, and longed for
an opportunity of flinging off tlie yoke. Tiiey opened
their gates to the confederates, who immediately pro-
ceeded to attack the castle. Courtenay, who commanded
the place, determined to maintain it to the last extre-

The confederates commenced their attack by making
a boom across the river, opposite Mockbeggar-mear.
This boom—the object of which was to prevent sTipplies
being thrown into the castle by Stradling, who com-
man'ded some of the parliam.ent sliips in the Shannon —
was composed of long aspin trees, fastened by iron links
to two mill-stones on the Clare side, and, at the city, to
the tower on the quay. The fire from Courtenay's guns
delayed the completion of the work for awhile ; but the
object was finally gained : Stradling was unable to suc-
cour Courtenay. Muskerry ordered a gun to be mounted
on St. Mary's Church, from which he kept up an inces-
sant fire on tlie castle ; but it still held out. On the
21st of June, three mines were finished, and ready to

Carte's Oj-mond, 334.


bo Sprung. The order was giA^^en, and a breach v^as
made in the main wall of the castle. Courteiiay waa
allowed to capitulate, and the city of Limerick was in
the hands of the confederates. It was the most import-
ant advantage which they had as yet gained, and,
when we take into consideration their want of can-
non and ammunition, we may be better able to appre-
ciate the great results. Sir William St. Leger, on hear-
ing the defeat of Courtenay, did not long survive the
taking of Limerick. The news had a powerful effect on
his health. He died broken- hearted, and, if we except
his own partisans, no one mourned the death of the
man whose public career had been disgraced by the most
wanton murders, and rapacious exactions.* Nor were
the justices slow in appointing a successor to the late
lord president. The man selected for the military ad-
ministration of Munster was Murrough O'Brien, Earl
of Inchiquin. He was the eldest son of Dermid, the
fifth of that princely house who had worn an English
coronet. About the year 1628, ]Murrough, son of Dermid,
was made ward to P. Fitzmaurice, Esq. The proselytis-
ing spirit of the times had two grand objects, which
were fully carried out in the person of Murrough
O'Brien. The first was to denationalise the heart, and
the second to engender such an abhorrence of the Ca-
tholic religion, as was calculated to inflict the most un-
mitigated atrocities on those who adhered to the ancient
creed. An apt instrument in the hands of the Justices
was this recreant. His SAvord reeking with the
blood of the Munster Catholics, and his military ex-
perience, the result of his campaigns Avith the Spanish
army in Italy, recommended him to' their regards. It is
sad to think that a descendant of the illustrious house
of O'Brien could have been found ready and willing to
rival the barbarities of Coote, and walk in the blood-
stained track of St. Leger ; biit, alas ! such was tlie
fact. Although the blood of Brian flowed through the
veins of Murrough, it stirred a heart as savage and anti-
Irish as that of the Scandinavian, whom his great an-
cestor vanquished at Clontarf. Tradition still points to
m&ny a rifled fane, wnose blackened and roofless walls

* See Feirar's Hist, of Limerick.


arc the mournful mementoes of this Irish Vandal,
Round the peasant's hearth, the record of his havoc and
burnings furnishes ample theme for the storj-teller.
When the storm sweeps over the ruined shrine of
Cashel, in the dark drear nights of winter, and the
lightning flashes wildly through the desecrated chancel,
the credulous fancy that Murrough revisits earth to re-
new the work of desolation. When mention is made of
him, his patronymic is forgotten, and an epithet, asso-
ciating his name with conflagration and carnage, is sub-
stituted. 'Twas a wise resolve to suppress the name of
O'Brien whenever men spoke of this degenerate son of
that splendid race. '^ Murrogh of the bvrnings" \rRs
the appropriate designation, significant as it is of the in-
cendiary's torch and assassin's poniard. As long as
the history of his crimes endures, so long shall he be
recognised by this epithet, and no other.

But the capture of Limerick was of the greatest
utility to the confederates. With the cannon* which
tliey had taken they soon battered almost every castle
and stronghold of their enemies in that county, with the
exception of Loghgur and Askeaton, the latter of which
belonged to the Earl of Cork. But though these trifling
diflttculties stood in the way, the entire granary of Mun-
ster was in possession of General Barry and Lord Mus-
kerry. Towards the end of July the two generals pre-
pared to march into the county Cork, to chastise
Incl)iquin, and rescue from his gripe the seaport towns
which were held for the Parliament by Lord Broghill,
Sir Charles Vavasor, Sir John Pawlet, and Sir William
Ogle. Lord Barrymore, who managed the civil adminis-
tration of the province, was cooped up in Youghal, and
proceeded to hold quarter-sessions, in which the chiefs of
the confederates were proclaimed traitors. f

While the Catholic arms were thus triumphing in the
i^outh, Owen Iloe O'Neill and Preston landed with officers
and arms — the former at Doe Castle, in the north, in the
Ujonth of July, and the latter on the coast of Wexford,
towards the end of September- In the west» three

* " One of the guns," says Carte (Orm, , p. 43, was oi so largo a
bore, that it was drawn by twenty-five yoke of oxen.",
t Smith's Cork.


bishops, Malachy of Tuara, Francis Elphin, and John
De Burke of Clonfert, addressed a remonstrance to the
Earl of Clanricarde, importuning him to join tlie na-
tional cause, " wliichwas," in his opinion, "grounded upon
wrong and bad foundations."* In vain did Mountgarret

• and the bishops endeavour to convince him that he was
helping to ruin his country. ' ' No argument, " said they,
"though you should write it in our very blood, will
ever persuade the justices your affections are sincere,
while you bear about you those marks by which they
distinguish such as they have appointed for perdition
Let it not come to you to sprinkle your ancestors' graves
with the blood of such as will sacrifice themselves in the
justifiable cause. "f But they failed to gain him over,
and he adhered to the Lord President and young Sir
Charles Coote, who were spoiling the country and slay-
ing the people.

But Clanricarde's apathy, and the cruelties inflicted
on the people by Coote and Eanelagh, only served to
exasperate the minds of the masses. Young Murrough
Na Dubh O'Flaherty, at the head of a small band,

^seized Clanricarde's castle of Aghenure, in jai -Con-
naught. An English ship, lying in the Bay of Gal-
way, was captured by the discontented populace ; she
had on board a considerable supply of arms and ammu-
nition. The young men who took the vessel entered a
church and bound themselves by an oath of union, in
which they swore that they would bear true allegiance
to the I\ing, and defend to the utmost of their power the
Roman Catholic religion. They then closed the gates
of the town, and determined to hold it. They were

. urged to this step by the example of the Catholics who
had been driven out of Cork and Youghal, "whose
miserable condition," said the mayor, "did put us in
mind of what we were to expect." A large body of
men from jar-Connaught were preparing to invest the
fortress of Galway, when Willoughby, who held a com-
mission from the Parliament, set fire to all the houses in
the east suburb, and wantonly consumed th6 property
in the neighbourhood. Clanricarde, with nearly a
thousand men, hastened to succour tliis ruthless incen«

• Clanricarde's Mem. 117 t Ibid. 17J


diary, giving free quarters to his troops from Oranmoro
to Clare-Galway. He then proceeded to besiege tha
town, and was not long before it when Captain Asliley
entered the bay, in a ship of war, and threw supplies
into the fort. Willoughby thereon determined to bom-
bard the town, but was restrained by Clanricarde. '
Articles were draAvn up between the " 3'oung men" and
the Earl, and in an evil moment Galway was sur-
rendered to liis lordship.

But they soon had reason to repent them of their
haste in submitting to the articles proposed by
Clanricarde. The fiendish malevolence of Wil-
lougliby and Ashley was not satisfied with what they
had already done. They were both violent parlia-
mentarians, and cared little for oath or fealty. Wil-
loughby's soldiers openly robbed the people, and Avithout
the shadow of reason executed martial law upon the
liarmless and unoffending. In a fit of puritanical
frenzy, he set fire to the suburbs, and burned houses
"which were set for more than a thousand pounds
a-year rent." He killed several of the inhabitants,
scaled the walls by night, and fired his cannon into the
town for an entire day. But the efiect was good ;
"for," says Mr. Ilardiman, "it occasioned and fastened
the general and successful confederacy which afterwards

On the 7th of August a squadron of ships, com-
manded by Lord Forbes, entered the Bay of Galway,
and he immediately put Iiimself in communication with
the fort. He declared against the late pacification,
and landed some men who began to burn and pillage
houses on the coast. Forbes, stimulated by Hugh
Peters, took possession of St. Mary's church, planted
guns against the town, and burned the surrounding
villages. He then dug up the graves in the church-
yard, and burned the bones and cofiins ; nor did ho
quit the bay till the 4th of September. Yet did Claa -
ricarde temporize with the justices in Dublin, and theif
fiendish corsairs on the seas. But the hour of retribu-
tion was at hand. The clergy boldly exhorted the

® Vide Ilardiman's Hist, of Galway, the work of one of the ablest o(
our antiqu.iries, wliose fr'endship 1 have good reason to cheiish au4


people to be true to themselves, and imitate the example
of their brethren in the south. Coercion failed to
check them ; the oath of association was cheerfully
taken by thousands, and they vowed in their hearts to
visit, in the fitting season, their persecutors with ven-
geance, for all they had endured.

The reduction of the minor castles in the county
Limerick engaged the confederate troops during the
month of July, and it was not till the 20th of August
that General Barry, at the head of 7,000 foot and°500
horse, penetrated into the county Cork. With this
force Barry sat down before the castle of Liscarroll,
which was garrisoned by Sir Philip Percival. The
confederate troops besieged at the same time Annagh
and another castle belonging to Percival. Liscarroll
was declared by Inchiquin to be the strongest fortress
m the kingdom, and such was the marshy nature of
the soil around it, that General Barry was obli

1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 3 of 22)