C. P. (Charles Patrick) Meehan.

The confederation of Kilkenny online

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Yet the heart of Ireland Avas only humbled by this
disaster — it was not crushed ; new energy and a bolder
spirit were soon to be infused. Those who listened to
the recital of that failure, did not despair. The tree of
hope, which they beheld prospectively blossoming and
laden with fruit, was but a sapling ; the storm had
only bowed it as it swept by ; and those who, to escape
the hurricane, had retired for awhile, were soon to rally
round it and guard it more faithfully. But after the
battle of Kilrush, one bright name* disappears: the last
time the inspiriting war-shout of his followers fell on his
ear was on that hill side. What reasons there may
have been for the retirement of the gallant chief, whose
name was linked with that of "God and our Lady," are
not apparent ; but it is said upon authority that he pro-
ceeded to the Fews, "and devoted the rest of his days to
peaceful pursuits in the bosom of his family."f

During these transactions in Ireland, King Charles I.
was actively engaged with his English subjects. It was
quite impossible that he could pay much attention to Irish
affairs, busied as he was with the factions who were
already meditating the ruin of his crown. The two houses
had voted a levy of 10,000 men, in opposition to the
king, who intended to levy war against the parliament.
The royal arsenal at Hull had been forcibly seized by
the parliamentarian party, and the arms removed to the
Tower. A forced loan, at eight per cent., paid in
money and plate, replenished the treasury. The Earl
of Warwick took the command of the fleet ; and the
Earl of Essex was appointed lord general, with a
solemn promise from both Lords and Commons that
they would live and die with him in the national

• Roger O'JToore. Carte says he died at Kilkenny,
t V. the map of Ulster in the admirable History of the Conflaca
tion, by Mac Isevin.


"That all primates, archhishops, bishops, ordinaries, cleans, and
chapters, archdeacons, chancellors, vicars, and otiier pastors of the
Roman Catholic secular clergy and their respective successors,
Bhall have, hold, and enjoy all the ctiurchis and church liN-inss, in as
large and ample manner as the late Protestant clergj' respectively-
enjoyed the same on the 1st day of October, together with all the
profits, emoluments, perquisites, liberties, and their rights to their
respective sees and churches belonging.^as well in all places then in
possession of the confederated Catholics, as aV-^o in all other places that
shall be recovered by them from the ac*'. f?. party, saving to the
Roman Catholic laity, their respective riglits according to the laws
of the land." *

It is needless to dwell at any length on the altered
circumstances of the Irish Catholics at this moment.
We have seen that judicatories for the administration o( »
justice were established throughout tbo land, and that \
officers were appointed to the various aepartments. A J
mint and a press were the creation of a moment. En-
Toys or ambassadors were sent to the foreign courts, and
their c redentials weFe recognised by Philip IV. of Spain,
Urban Viii., and Anne of Austria, during the minority
of Louis XIV. Richelieu, f who was then prime minis-
ter, seems to have taken a lively interest in their pro-
ceedings, but he did not live to witness the ulterior
movements of the confederates. Incredible do their ex- \
ertions seem. They gave letters of marque, and char ]
tered some light vessels, which were to protect the shores, /
and sail under the confederate colours ; in a word, tliey /
took the government on themselves, and issued orders
for the levying of armies, and gave commissions under
their own seal to the generals who were to take the com-
mand. Cusack was named Attorne
ket held the office of Chancellor
other officers having been appoints
partments, civil and military. The declaration of their
independence, saving their allegiance to the crown of
Charles I., may be easily found in the following extract
from the manifesto which they published at the termina-
tion of the first General Assembly : —

" It is hereby declared that no temporal government or jurisdiction
Bhall be assumed, kept, or exercised in ticz kingdom, or witliin any

*- Unkind Deserter, p. 55

t lie died December 4. 1642, and was succeeded by Cardinal Mas

were to take the com-
!y-General, and Plun- \
r of the Exchequer, |
ed to the various de- /


county or province thereof, during these troubles, other than is befoia
expressed, except such jurisdiction or government as is, or shall be,
approved by the General Assembly, or Supreme Council of the Confe-
derate Catholics of Ireland."*

The last act of the general assembly was to draw up
u remonstrance to the King, declarative of their loyalty,
and reprobating tlie vexatious tyranny of the justices,
and tlie Irish parliament, which, composed for the most
part of men who were of the lowest and basest class,
thought of nothing but spoliating ani persecuting the
Irisli Catholics. The remonstrance detailed the whole-
sale plunder of the O'Byrnes in the county Wicklow,
and the bigotry of the justices who made it penal to
tolerate a Catholic school-master. It implored his
M?jesty to confirm the graces withheld by the artifices
of Parsons and Borlase, who, by bribing jurors, and
promising them a portion of the lands which they
contemplated confiscating, on the plea of defective
titles, left little chance for fair and impartial trial.
The many murders committed on the natives under the
semblance of law, Avere detailed at length, and means
were taken to transmit the remonstrance to his Majesty
and Queen Henrietta Maria, f The confederate as-
sembly did not break up till the ^ of January, and
the next general meeting was fixed for the 2pth of May
following. J

This manifesto is signed by Lord Jlountgarret, President, and S'l
^isolas Shea, CJcrk cf the Supreme CouncU.
+ Ciirte's Orm. L 270. % Walah, Second Part, First TrwtUe.

cwKtuoitRxriozi Oh miLtLsynx,



Before the general assembly rose the parliament waa
sitting in Dublin, and strange and unconstitutional were
its proceedings. The Catholics were unrepresented,
nor was there a friendly voice to speak in their favour
The justices, intent on forging new fetters, and extirpa
ting the Papists, were for suspending Poynjng's act,
and thus leaving themselves free to pass new penal law
without transmittiug the bills to England. In this,
however, they were opposed by Ormond, now made still
more in)portant by the title of Marquess, the patent having
been issued on the 18th of the preceding August. Kuf
was there wanting a representative of the fanatical
party in England to infuriate the enemies of the con-
federates, and canonise those who would march against
them. This man was Step hen J^^ rome : patronised by
the hypocritical justices, he preached in St. Patrick's
cathedral each morning at seven o'clock to the soldiers,
and on the 13th November, in Christ church, the " state"
and other persons of rank being present. "Empty,
illiterate, and turbulent,"* he was an apostle in the eyes
of his pay-masters ; nor did he spare the king, upon
whom he heaped slander and obloquy. To such a length
did he carry his invectives that it was thought desirable
to interpose the authority of Launcelot Bulkely, the
Protestant archbishop, who inhibited the spiritual
champion of Parsons and his colleagues. The justices,
it would appear, had little respect for the authority
of their diocesan ; nor did the preacher resign his
office till he found it inexpedient to continue. He
was the prototype of tliose enthusiasts, who, subse-
/quently, in the name of the God of charity, evangelized

/ not peace, but strife — not mercy, but extermination ;

\ nor would his name be mentioned here were it not
necessary to show that the pulpit was employed by the

vs J

" Carte'i Onu.


authorities to propound these rabid dogmas, of which a
Oiore enlightened age is happily growing weary.

But the proceedings of the confederates were calcu-
lated to alarm the justices. They wanted money to
pay their troops, who were daily becoming mutinous ;
their appeals to England were unheeded, and they
determined to take such measures as were likely to
st^U the clamour of their hirelings. Imitating the con-
/federates "they called in all the plate," which their
I partizans gladly gave them, and caused it to be coined
\ into half-crown pieces by John Neale, Peter Vander-
\;Lroven, and Gilbert Tongues, goldsmiths.'

These precautions were necessary ; for the levy of the
troops in Leinster, ordered by the supreme council, as
well as the alacrity with which the Catholic gentry and
their dependents furnished the national treasury, made
them tremble for their security. The poorest gave his
mite, and all were ready to gird on the sword. The ex-
/ ertions of Preston's officers were beyond praise, and they
I hoped soon to be at the head of a large and well-disci-
plined force. True it is that tliey could not all be for-
nished with arras, if we except the pike, which was
readily procured ; but the artillery which Preston brought
/with him supplied manj'^ defects. One thousand five
/ hundred nmskets of the two thousand landed at Wexford
ly^ were bestowed on him ; the remainder was apportioned
to Owen O'Neill.

Burke, who was to command in Connav^ht, was ac-
tively engaged in enlisting the sympathiis of his pro-
vince ; nor, indeed, had he much difficulty in drawing
multitudes into the confederacy. With a small band of
. followers, he entered the church of Athenry, and caused
^ Clanricarde's chaplain to bless his banners. The fact
came to the knowledge of the Earl, and the chaplain wag
dismissed. But the petty tyranny and officious zeal uf
this nobleman could not stem the popular enthusiasm.
The bishops and clergy were to a man opposed to him,
^and the recent barbarities of Willoughby made them
long for an opportunity in which they might expel the
English garrison.

in tlie south, Inchiquin had remained inactive sisice

* Carte 3 Onn. Simons's Essay.



the battle of Liscarroll. Forbes, bowever, landed at
>^ Kinsale, and marched into the country, as far as Kath-
barry. A section of his forces consisted of a Scotch re-
giment ; and the peasantry, who were far from being
well armed or disciplined, rose and slew them in an am-
bush. Groves, who was a captain under lii^rbes, imme-
diately afterwards fell on this rude array, and forced

>^600 of them into the island of Inchidony, where, the tide
being in, tliey were all drowned.* Inchiquin, however,
remained shut up in Cork, in need of provisions; nor
did he dare to lake the field.

Nor did Owen Roe confine himself to Ulster. The
Scotch general had endeavoured in vain to bring him to

^ an action, but as yet he had not sufficient strength to
meet liim. Munroe, hoAvever, had been compelled to
retire into Down and Antrim. Sir Robert Stewart, a
descendant of one of the most distinguished of the Scotch

V undertakers, had a strong force on the Donegal side ;
and CiSTeill retired for a while into Longford and Lei-
trim, with the intention " of nursing up an army in these
rugged districts" which would make him a match for his
enemies, f ,^

Indeed, the chieftain of Ulster could not have selected
a fairer field for his enterprise than that which lay open

• to him in these two counties. The tyranny of such men
as Sir Frederick Hamilton, of Manor Hamilton, and
Coote, (under whose orders he appears to have acted,)
had driven the unfortunate peasantry to madness. The

(cruelties inflicted on the Christians of Spain by Aben
HumeyaJ and his Morisco captams, pale before the atro-
cities perpetrated by Hamilton on the inhabitants of Lei-
trim and Longford. His bawn, or castle, was the ren-
dezvous of a ferocious banditti, who spread death and
desolation around them. By day and night he sent from
within its walls a savage soldiery, who robbed and mur-
dered with impunity. When they returned to their
leader, the most acceptable gifts they could ofler were
the heads of the wretched people, which they brutally
severed from the bodies. Women and tender girls were

• Smith's Cork.

t Appendix^ the Poems of T. Davis.
X Vide History of Spain and Portugal, vol. v., p.
Cab. Cyclop.

65, in Lardner'f


not exempt from the horrors which this fanatic inflicted
in the holy name of God. Upon a hill near his castle ha
erected a gallows, from which every day a fresh victim
was suspended. The brother of the O'Rourke shared
this ignominious death, with his wife and dependents.
Nor was the%allant Sir Frederick ashamed to bequeath
\to posterity a journal which he kept of these barbari-
ties." The result may be easily imagined. The
O'Rourkes, O'Connors, MacGaurans, and other septs,
were only anxious for a leader. Their people were
ready — nay, constrained — to follow them ; and O'Neill'a
exertions were employed to bring them to a state of dis-
cipline and organization.

Such was the state of the country about the close of
November, 1642. The two hostile parties — the Confe-
. derates and ParUamentarians — ^were actively engaged
(.making preparation for the coming struggle. The en-
thusiasm of the Irish was at its height, and their ene-
mies, who calculated on a rich harvest of plunder, only
waited an opportunity of meeting them in the field.

While the respective generals were mustering their
troops and disciplining the new levies, the supreme
council remained at Kilkenny, anxiously watching the
progress of events. About the middle of December they
proceeded to Wexford, escorted by their guard of 500
"Toot and 200 horse. f Their object was to compose ani-

* This journal, or diary, ■written by Sir F. Hamilton, was printed in
London, 1643. It is to be found in the thorpe Papers, under this
title, " Another Extract of more Letters sent out of Ireland." A por-
tion of it has been since reprinted by my talented friend, Jlr. Bat-
tersby, in the Catholic Directory for 1846; 'tis a pity he did not give it
whole and entire in one number. We, must, however, content our-
selves with one extract from it, which cannot fail to exhibit the ani-
mus of Hamilton and his godly mercenaries:—" iMarch 17— Being their
patron St. Patrick's day, our colonel, sending fbr one of his prisoners,
the rogues being drawn up in a body right before us, we called to them
since they durst not come to perfonn their promise, and take the cas-
tle, they would rescue their countryman who was there to be hanged
in honoiu- of St. Patrick, which prisoner being hanged, and proving
but an old sack of straw, long stockings bei'ig sowed to it, as it was
throwne over the gallowes, our hangman sitting on the gallowes, call-
ing to them if they had charity in them to send the poors prisoner a
priest, they imagining that sack to be a man, fell aU on their kne^ in
9iir view praying for the prisoner "s soule. "'

t This force was to accompany them wherever they went, and ga>
oson whatevei town they visited.



tuoaities, and release from prison those who had been
committed for offences against the government of the
justices. It does not appear what these^ dissensions
were, but the fact is recorded by one of themselves.
They feared any disagreement which tended to diminish
their strength, and certainly set great value q^ the heart
and nerve of the capital of that county, so signally re,
markable for its bravery and patriotism. " The towns-
men of Wexford," says Belling, " were naturally as vio-
(ient and stubborn at land as they were famous among
the nation for being daring at sea."*

It is at this period we have evidence of the growing
importance which the confederacy was attaining in the
estimation of foreign powers. When the supreme
council had arrived at Ross they were waited on by M.
de Overmere, a man of quality from Flanders, and a
^relative of General Preston. This gentleman made the
supreme council an offer of frigates, on a proviso that he
was to command. They deliberated on the expediency
ot the proposal and finally declined it. Overmere was
a subject of Spain, and they feared to offend the French
and the United Provinces then actually at war with the
Spanish king. A number of light vessels soon after
/came from Flanders, to "which they gave letters of
I marque, and thus, in great measure, succeeded in inter-
\ rupting the passage between Chester and the Irish
^coast.f From Ross they proceeded to Clonmel, for the
purpose of drawing Limerick into the confederacy;
for although the city and county had declared for the
national cause, such was the influence of the Earl of
y Thomond with the citizens, that they wished to maintain
themselves as "a free sjate." When the mayor was
advertised of their approach, he politely represented the
great dearth of corn which rendered it unsafe to intro-
duce any body of troops ; but the chief anxiety of the
confederates was for the castle of Bunratty and the
(other strongholds on the Shannon, then held by

* Belling's Narrative of the War, p. 163.

t Borlase, p. 97, lias a copy of a commission given by th^
gupreme council to Francis Oliver, a native of Flanders, to command
the " St. ilichael the Archangel," a ship of 120 tons or lasts, em-
powering him to " prejudice all such as he shall meet of his Majesty's
eaeniies, and the enemies of Uie general Cathohc cause. "


Thomond, wlio tliey feared was in league with the
parliament, and miglit be induced to admit their
garrisons. Tlie mayor, however, gave a solemn assu-
rance of his friendsy.ip, and that of the citizens, who
were determined to resist all overtures on the part of the
parliamentarians. This communication quieted their
apprehensions and they retired, after having given a
> commission to Sir Daniel O'Brien to seize on the castle
offiunratty, and on the person of the Earl of Thomond ;
for, it was resolved —

" Tliat if he coiild be forced to join the confederates without
toiichini; on his religion (as he was a Protestant), he should be in
tlie condition of their confederates ; or if he continued neuter,
without adhering to the enemy, a competent part of his estate
should be set apart for him, and no declaration made, by which
he would be subject to the penalties of neuters."*

Meantime the confederates were actively engaged
in Leinster. Preston Avas now at the head of about
6,000 foot and 600 horse, and Lord Castlehevan, who
acted as his lieutenant-general, burned for an oppor-
tunity to distinguish himself. The first encounter
between the new levies and the Puritan forces was at

(Ballinakil, in the Queen's county, wliich was a colony
of English, planted tliere by James I. The celebrated
Moncke, afterwards Duke of Albemarle, relieved the
place, and coming up with some detachments of the
confederates, defeated them at Tyraalioe. It Avas,
however, nothing more than a skirmish, for Preston
immediately afterwards proceeded to besiege the castle
yr of Burros, in the King's county, which surrendei^ed on
the 30th of December. Tliis partial triumph was
regarded as an auspicious termination of a year in
wliich Ireland had raised herself to such an extraor-
dinary eminence, and many a heart " beat high with
hope" for ultimate success, ere the year which was
now dawning had drawn to a close.

From Burros the Leinster forces marched to Birr,

/of which place the infamous Parsons was governor.

/ Tiiey sat down before it on the 13th of January, and

V after a brave, but ineffectual resistance, it surrendered

to Preston. 'Nothing could equal the humanity of

tlie confederate generals on this occasion, for ihey

• Bellini's Nnn.^ti7e of the "\Tar.


caused all the prisoners who had fallen into their
hands, amounthig to 800, men, women, and children,
to be escorted by detachments till they reached Athy.'
Bannagher was soon after besieged by Preston, and
yielded without firing a shot. From this place he
marched to Fort Falkland, on the 26th of January. The
garrison Avas strong, and such was the zeal of Clanricarde
for the justices, that he supplied it with provisions.
When the confederates were about to open a fire, the
governor. Lord Castlestewart, thought it better .to sur-
render, and Preston immediately took possession of the
fortress. " Thus," says Carte, " the confederate gene-

. ral having strengthened himself with new forces, reduced

^ all the forts in the King's County, f

While these successes were attending them in Lein-
ster, the province of Connaught was up and stirring.

(Alarmed by the growing power of the Irish, Rane-
lagh, the lord president, accompanied by young Coote
and the other English commanders, fled out of the pro-
vince. This was in the beginning of February. On the
5th of that month, as they approached Dublin, they
halted at Rathconnel, where they were met by Preston,

CM'hose mercurial character could not forego the opportu-
nity of risking a battle, when he might have hung on
their march, and cut them up in detail. Eanelagh had
but a small force, and he fought with desperation. He
succeeded in repulsing Preston, and making his way to
Dublin, where he charged the justices with a dereUction
of duty in not sending him supplies. The withdrawal
of the lord president had a salutary influence on the men,
who were every day rallying round Colonel Btlrke. He

V proposed amicable terms to Willoughby, who still held
the fort of Galway ; but they were all rejected, and cir-
cumstances made it apparent that the garrison was in
the intersst of the parliament. This fact served to rouse
the people to more strenuous exertions, and about tlie

V middle of February Clanricarde's castle of Clare-Galway
was seized for the confederates by Captain Thomas
Burke, of Anbally, who was ably seconded by a Fran-
ciscan friar. When the lieutenant-general of the pro-
vince had information of this event, he called upon

• Cabtlehiiven's :Mem. t Carte, i. S82.

„ o


several gentlemen of the c(untry to levy forces and be-
siege tlie fort of Galway. *

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Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 5 of 22)