C. P. (Charles Patrick) Meehan.

The confederation of Kilkenny online

. (page 6 of 22)
Online LibraryC. P. (Charles Patrick) MeehanThe confederation of Kilkenny → online text (page 6 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

lo send a ship laden with A'ictuals for Ormond's troops ;
and according to agreement this vessel was to anchor at
Duncannon. Having taken Cartle-Martin, in the county
Kildare, Ormond continued liis march towards Carlow,
and on the 4th of the montla he sat down before the small
castle of Timolin, which Avas garrisoned for the confe-
derates by four-score men. He called on them to yield,
and they stoutly refused. He then opened a fire on that
devoted band of heroes ; nor did they ask for quarter till
the blazing rafters were crackling about them. They
were then permitted to march out, and when they ex-
pected tlie same forbearance which they had shewn at
\Fort Falkland and Birr, they were massacred on the
spot. Elated with this victory, Ormond advanced on
Carlow, and having held a council of war, it was deter-
mined to lay siege to Koss. Orders were then issued by
► the supreme council to abandon the siege of Cappoquin,
and Purcell was directed to throw 300 men into Koss,
which was greatly exposed. Belling tells us that it
had little or no fortification — a rampart of earth was
its only protection ; but within that feeble barrier there
were stern hearts. On the Ilth of March Ormond ap-
proached the toAvn, and sevA a herald to Nicholas Fitz-
harris, the mayor, -commanding him to surrender. -Fitz-
harris replied that he held it for his Majesty, and would
not yield. A second summons was as boldly rejected,
and "file townspeople immediately hoisted the confede-
rate colours. Ormond then opened his fire, and having
effected a breach in the earthen rampart, ordered his
men to advance. They did so, and were encountered
by the heroic people. Men and women guarded every
avenue, and repulsed the justices' soldiers ; again and
again did they push forward to gain an entrance, but a
shower of balls and stones drove them back. While the
people were thus engaged a vessel of war had dropped
down the river from Duncannon, and commenced bat-
tering the town ; but the bravery of the inhabitants was
not to be daunted. They brought some light pieces to
bear on the ship, and sunk her. Ormond, who wit-
nessed the devoted courage of the men of Ross, was con-
Bulting what step he should take, when word was brought
'^ him that Purcell was advancing with a large force from


Cappoqiiin, and he felt himself constrahied to raise the
HiL'ge, alter having remained five days before the place.
Fearing to be cut off from his reserve, "which he
had left in Carlow, he sounded the march, and resolved
to get back to Dublin as he might. Preston advanced
■with an army of 5,000 horse «nd foot to intercept him,
but in his haste he brought no cannon. He halted at
Temple Wodigan, about two miles from Ross, and
Avaited Ormond in a pass through which he should

■^necessarily march. "The pass," says Castlehaven, *
" Avas at least half-a-mile through a bog, where no
more than four horses could march in a breast, with
M-ater up to the belly ; but Preston had not the patience
to expect the enemy's coming to him, which they must
do, or starve, but went over Jhe_pass to them, and put

^himself under as great disacTvantage^as his enemy could
wish. Ormond took hold of this unexpected advan-
tage, and gave Preston no time to form his army, but
charged still as they went over, besides what he did
all along with his cannon, till at length, after a con-
Biderable loss of men, killed and taken prisoner?, he
Was wholly defeated and routed, "f Ormond, however,
rapidly retired to Dublin, quite satisfied that he was
?iot totally destroyed. A better system of militaiy

^Supervision would have removed Preston from the corn-
Hand ; as it was, however, he was censured by the
.,lipreme council, and his conduct pronounced uncir-
tumspect. He stood high in the estimation of Mount-
garret, whom he materially served, notwithstanding
his recent failure. Soon after the battle of Ross, he
marched with all his force on Ballinakil, (the property
of Mountgarret) which had been in the possession of
an English colony. Father Talbot, who had just then
arrived from his mission to the Spanish and French
courts, had brought Avith him suppHes of money, and

^"two great iron guns." These Avere forwarded to
Preston, and he commenced battering the castle, which
goon yielded. The undertakers were i)ermitted to depart
whither they would, and l^Iountgarret got possession
of his estate. Could this circumstance have blinded

* Castleliaven's Jlem. S5.


cim to Preston's rashness and unfitness for such a re-
sponsible post ?

The eulogists and apologists of Ormond would have
us believe that he undertook the expedition to Ross
much against his will, and that the justices had a
secret design in sending him, which was, to prevent his
negotiating with the confederates. Be this as it may,
we cannot find any claim, on his part, to such hu-
manity as ever characterised the confederate armies, —
On every occa^on Avhere blood might be shed, he
knew no mercy, and Avhere the interposition of a

' generous man might have saved many, Ormond was
an impassive spectator. All the apologies made for
him by Walsh, and O'Connor* who falls into the strange
blunder of calling him an Irishman, would not wipe
away his guilt, in permitting the wanton massacre
at Timolin. But a more congenial occupation than that
of war, now presented itself. England was in a flame,
and the king had got a check which induced him, on
retiring to Oxford, to consider the remonstrance which
the confederates had forwarded after the first general
assembly. He looked to the future, and began to cal-
culate on the succours he might derive from Ireland,
in case he succeeded in making terms with the

Influenced by these considerations, and affecting to
believe that their demands were moderate, and the
representations which they^had put before him well
grounded, he issued a commission, under the great seal,

fon the 11 th of January, 1643, directed to the Marquis
of Ormond, the Earls of Clanricarde and Roscommon,

^the Lord Viscount Moore, and others, any three or more
of them being authorised to meet and act for tlie
purpose aforesaid, namely, to receive in Avriting what
the petitioners had to say or propound. This docu-
ment was in the hands of Ormond on the 30th of the
month, but the justices, taking this commission for a
step towards the peace of the kingdom, and their own
ruin, "were displeased that a wish should be mani-
Tested by any one that the war from which they pro-
mised themselves revenge and fortunes, should in any

• Colombanus, whi) was ably handled by Plowdcn, passim.


Other way be ended, than with tlie blood and confisca-
tiou of all those whom they could propose to be guilty
of the defection." They, therefore, hit on an expedient
which was well calculated to promote their ends. The
supreme council was at Ross when a trumpeter was sent
lo inform them of this communication from the kin^r,
with a safe-conduct from Ormond and Parsons to such
as the council chose to employ to represent their
grievances to the above-named commissioners. When
the safe-conduct was submitted to the supreme council,
they were astonished on reading the following words,
which had been artfully introduced by the justices, with
the cognizance of their lieutenant-general : — " That,
albeit, his majesty hath not thought fit to admit any
of them to his presence who were actors or abettors of
80 odious a rebellion," they might regard themselves as
peculiarly favoured in being allowed to treat with his
justices. The answer returned to this lying fabrication
was worthy of these chivalrous men: — "We take God
to witness," said they, '* that there are no limits set to
the scorn and infamy that are cast upon us ; and we
will be in the esteem of loyal subjects, or die to a man."
In the heat of the moment they had resolved not to
treat with the commissioners, and stated ''that there
was a necessity laid upon tliem to absent themselves
from the meeting." Their answer was published, and
the people applauded their firmness.*

However, on more mature deliberation, they sus-
pected that the insulting words had been written, not
by the king, but by his enemies, and they appointed the
18th of March for a conference, to be held at Trim.
The justices, seeing that the confederates were, well-
disposed towards his majesty, resolved to try what
cruel and perfidious actions might do.f They, there-
fore, got the consent of the council in Dublin, to
an act which was calculated to put a stop to any-
thing like a treaty. 'At i::e battle of Rathconnel,
Lisagh O'Connor and the son of Garret Aylmer had
been made prisoners by Sir Richard Grenville; in
order to exasperate the Catholics, Parsons and hia
colleagues wrote to Sir H. Tichbourne to have them

• Belling's History of the War. f Carte's Onn. i. 407.


executed by martial law. Nor did they confine them-
selves to this unwarrantable proceeding. At the very
time they had the king's orders to quiet troubles, and
bring about a peace, they sent their lieutenant-general
to attack Ross ; and when he should have been engaged
in pacific negotiations, he was actually in conflict with
General Preston, though he well knew that he was
doing the bidding, not of the king, but of Parsons
and liis council.

In fact, he undertook the expedition with the consent
of the justices, and at the desire of an English com-
mittee then sent over by^the parliament "to direct and
superintend the affairs of Ireland, against the king's
command."* Though expressly named ifi the commis-
sion, he was burning and spoiling the country without
opposition, on the very day when Lord Gormanstown,
Sir Lucas Dillon, Sir R. Talbot, John Walsh, Esq.,
and others were assembling at Trim. . What wonder,
therefore, if the luish Catholics distrusted this man of
craft and faithlessness ?

The commissioners from the confederates were met
at the above-named place by the Earls of Clanricarde and
Roscommon, Sir Maurice Eustace and others, on the
part of the king. A remonstrancef of grievances
was produced, which entered* at great. length into a
history of the cruelties practised on the Catholics by
the justices and their adherents. " This remonstrance,"
says Borlase, '* was solemnly received by his majesty's
commissioners, and by them transmitted to his ma-

But before it was sent to the king it came to be con-
sidered in the commons' house of parliament in Dublin,
(seemingly disliked by all, whereby the business growing
hot, the house was prorogued till the 6th of May. §

When the justices heard that Preston was besieging

i»Ballinakil, they sent Colonel Lawrence Crawford, with

f 1,300 foot and 150 liorse, to endeavour to beat up the

Leinster general's quarters. He set out on the 13th of

April ; but as he approached, he halted before the castle

• Borlases Irish Eeb. p. 142. 5

t This lengthy document is to be found in the Appendix to Cuny'i
t Ibid, p. 154, f Borlase. 155.


of Ballybrittas. IJe called on the confederate garrison
to surrender, but he was soon beaten off. Castlehaven
was ordered to fall on Crawford as he was retiring.
Having got together 1,500 horse, he came up with the
English at Monastereven, charged and dispersed them.
As they were retreating over tlie Barrow, their comman-
der had his thigh broken by a musket-shot in his flight.
From Ballinakil, Preston proceeded with his army
into Westmeath ; and the English garrisons of Carlow
and the Queen's County, taking advantage of his absence,
alarmed the county Kilkenny to the very gates of the
city. Castlehaven took the field again and scattered these
marauding parties, which were commanded by Sir Mi-
. chael Ernie jftid Major Vernej. He subsequently took
^ the castles of Ballynunry and Cloghgrenan, and relieved
the supreme council from any further apprehension.
Flushed with success, he passed rapidly into the Queen's
County, and besieged the castle of Ballylennan. Here
he was joined by Sir Walter Butler, who informed him
that a strong reinforcement, drawn from the English
garrisons, was on march to raise the siege. Castle-
haven, having reconnoitred the advancing troops, deter-
mined to give them battle in sight of the besieged ; and
finding that they dfd not amount to more than 600 foot
and 300 horse, he ordered Butler's cavalry to follow,
when they immediately betook themselves to flight, pur-
sued by the confederate light troops till they got shelter
in Athy. The castle, seeing those who had come to
their succour defeated, yielded on honorable conditions.
Thus, in the course of a few months, did the confede-
^ rates prosecute the war in Leinster with the most signal
I success, taking almost every place of strength which iiad
V been held for the justices, who were terribly apprehen-
'sive of being ultimately shut up and starved in Dublin.
But their hopes of plunder, and undisguised desire ^f
shedding the blood of the Irish Papists, were doomed to
be disappointed. Whether Charles I. was made sensible
by the remonstrance recently forwarded of the evils in-
flicted on the Irish people by Parsons and Borlase, or
apprehensive that, by continuing them at the head of af-
fairs, he was only injuring himself, it is not our province
N to examine. He certainly saw that the justices would
ever stand in the way of any peace between him and kis


Irish subjects, and he determined to remove them. On
'the 23d of April, 1643, Sir Francis Butler arrived from
/ England with a supersedeas for Parsons' government,
{ and a commission to Lord Borlase and Sir Henry Tich-
bourne to be lords justices. Yet there may be question
whether this act of tardy justice on the part of the king
was ultimately beneficial to Ireland. There are many
who think that it was quite the reverse. Had Parsons
been allowed to retain the government, there never could
have been room for the craft and intrigue which followed.
j/ His love of pillage and hypocritical cant had roused such
f feelings of abhorrence and detestation in the breasts of
\the Irish Catholics, as must have ever stood in the way
of any accommodation between them and their tyrants.
From what we have seen of their success since the sit-
ting of the first general assembly, it is evident that they
were becoming daily more skilled in the use of arms,
and firmly bent on establishing their independence. The
open and flagrant vilianies of this man could not have
subdued their spirit, or checked them in their onward
march ; but it Avas reserved for the policy of one who
vras well skilled in the principles of Macchiavelli to break
that bond of union which must have rendered them irre-
Bistible and triumphant ; but let us not anticipate.

In the beginning of May, w^hilst Preston and Castle-
haven were reducing the strongholds of Leinster, Munroe
was obliged, by the most pressing want, to advance into
the neighbourhood of Armagh. Owen Roe occupied
Charlemont, which he had fortified and garrisoned —
/ 'Twas Munroe's object to seize the Ulster general, and
^ thus dash the hopes of his followers, who sanguinely
reckoned on his great military character for ultimate
success. So secretly did the Scotch general conduct his
march, that Owen Roe was out hunting with but fev of
•Kis staff when he was surprised. His first thought was
to escape by spurring rapidly back to Charlemont ; but
he was intercepted by a detachment of the Scotch. His
superior knowledge of the locahty was his only advan-
tage ; but even this did not prevent collision. Beset by
Munroe's men, in a lane thickly enclosed with copses, he
V fought, hand to hand, for an hour ; and such was the
^steady bravery and coolness of his retinue, that Munroe


shouted to his men, *' Cam awa frae awheen rebels,"*

♦and suffered the great prize to elude his grasp. On the

following day he had reason to repent him of his teme-

(rity, for he was encountered by O'Neill and Colonel
Sandford, and routed with loss. A small army, under
]\Iontgomery and Chichester, menaced him soon after ;
but the phlegmatic general was not to be provoked.
Ee knew that these officers were chiefly intent on making
preys, and he determined to husband his resources for a
better opportunity. He contented himself with having
secured the cattle from their foragers, and then retired

" into Leitrim.

In the west, the confederate arms were signally pros-
perous. The son and grandson of Lord Athenry, the
three Teige Kellys of Aughrim and Mullaghmore, to-
gether with Sir Roebuck Lynch, Sir V. Blake, and other
gentlemen marched, under Lieutenant-Colonel Burke, to

' Galway. Willoughby was shut up in the fort, and in
want of provisions. He was obhged to send boats' crews
to pillage on the coast. They were intercepted, after one
of these predatory excursions, by the confederates, and
cut off to a man. The town undertook to defray the
expense of the siege, and two batteries were erected —
one on the west, and the other on the opposite point of
Rinmore. A chain was drawn across the harbour, and
access by sea was thus hindered. Clanricarde, who had
hitherto rejoiced at any. reverse sustained by the confe-
derates, "was," says Mr. Hardiman, "unable to affj^rd
any relief."! The condition of Inchiquin in the south
may readily be imagined from a letter which he sent in
the early part of May to the Earl of Cork :—

" Our present state falls out now to be more desperately misc rablo
than ever : in regard we have no manner of help or relief am onput
ourselves, and the provisions we depended on out of England do* h fail
as, which will put us to a terrible extremity, here being nothing to de-
liver foith on the next pay day. I request your lordship to i nd ot
borrow £300, for victualling those in Youghal. To-mon'ow, ith «
heavy heart, I shall march forth, to linger out a few days in th e tieUi
where I am not likely to continue so long as to enterprise anyt ing o;
advantage, for want of provisions for the men and money for tbs CI

'^ * O'Neill's Journal, in the Desld. Curiosa Sib.
t Hist, of Galway, p. 120.
$ 1* rom an original letter. See Smith's Cork..



Nor, in fact, did he effect anything of advantage, save
seiLing some small supplies. His troops amounted to
4,000 foot and 400 horse. Some of them were sent into

^ Kerry in order to forage, whilst he himself invested Kil-
mallock with 700 men. Purcell and Barry lield it
against him, and he was obliged to raise the siege and
go to the aid of his colleague, Vavasour, who, after com-
mitting the most revolting murders on those who sur-
rendered themselves, was preparing to meet Castlehaveu
on the borders of the county Limerick.

It was now the 20th of May, and pursuant to their
resolution, the general assembly had met in Kilkenny.

/ The six months which mtervened between this and
j their first sitting, had witnessed the most extraordinary
* changes. By an act of the general assembly, the
supreme council was confirmed, nor were there any
material changes made in the administration. But,
as it M'ill appear, it Avas a moment of the greatest
importance to the Catholics of Ireland. Their armies
in the four provinces were preparing for a conflict, on
the result of which everything depended. The hopes
and enthusiasm of the Irish people never were higher,
and they hastened from the mountain fastnesses and
sequestred glens to swell the number of those who
marched under the confederate banners. On the
land and on the sea triumph^ and success had
followed their movements. The* eyes of Catholic
Europe watched their progress, for their fame had
travelled over the Alps and Pyrenees. The French

Vcourt sent M. La Monarie as its envoy, with all tlie
'powers of an ambassador ; he was soon followed by
MjJFuysot, a Burgundian, from the court of Spain, and
Tettei^lrom Father Wadding announced that Urban VIII
had determined to send an agent from the Vatican, with
supplies of arms and money. Charles I. no longer
published his intolerant threats against "Popish recu-
sants." Hampden was proposing to besiege him in

4 Oxford, whilst Essex was thundering at the walls of
Reading. His treacherous eyes were at last opened
to the perils that beset him, and the injustice whicb
he had contrived to inflict on the confederate Catholics.
He, therefore, resolved to pursue a different coutsq


hoi'd raaBe, according to the parliamentary pasquinades'
of tue times, had been plotting Avith the king since hia
return to Oxford, and lie Avas made the bearer of ai
important communication to Ormond ; it was a com
mission from the king to the .marquess, to treat with
his subjects, " and to agree on a cessation of arms foi
one year."

In an evil moment the supreme council consented to
entertain the proposal, and ordained that the Lord*
Gormanstown, Muskerry, and others, should be ap-
pointed their commissioners, with power and autho-
rity to treat with Ormond of a cessation for one whole
year, or shorter, upon such terms, conditions, or

,^ articles, as to the commissioners aforesaid should be
thought fit and expedient. The promptness with which
the assembly caught at any overture of peace on the part
of the king, Avas ample evidence of their loyalty and
affection to the throne. But the message which elicited
their reply, is at once evidence of their strength and
Aveakncss. Had they determined to stand aloof from
.ill factions, parliamentary and royal, and struggle man-
fully for their country's independence, they must have
succeeded, and made themselves more than a match for
any army that could have been sent against them.
-But, alas ! the attachment of the Irish to the worthless
(jiouse of Stuart, was destined to be their bane and ruin.
But Ormond was in no hurry to carry out the inten-
tions of the king. There was one objection in the way
which he knew would prove insuperable to the confede-
rates. They had determined to insist on a dissolution
of the parliament, wliich Avas made up of '• Clerks,
soldiers, serving men, and others not legally, or not at

« all, chosen or returned," Avho had jiassed an act that

no person should sit, either in that or in any future

parliament, till hey had taken the oath of supremacy."!

Another coadition on which the confederate commis-

Bioneis were ordered to insist was, that they should have

~, liberty to use arms against all such persons as should
make Avar against the contracting parties; but Ormond,

» ^';>-"urius Melaiicholicus.

t Remonstrance from Trim. Y.'arn. Irisli Ilcb. p. 21



who kaew'well that this was meant to engage him against
the Scotch in Ulster, demurred, and caused the treaty
to be adjourned to the foUov.-ing month.

Daring these negotiations, the conflict between the
confederate generals and their enemies was raging in the
four provinces. Owen Roe, at the head of 3,200 men,
of which force 1,000 were immediately with him — the
rest being in attendance on a large collection of cattle —
was on his way into the county Leitrim, when he was
overtaken by Sir R. Stewart at Clonish, on the borders
of Fermanagh. Stewart had a large body of well-dis-
ciplined troops, commanded by Sir W. Balfour and Co-
lonel Mervyn. O'Neill posted his main strength in a
narrow pass, which he lined with musketeers. Stewart
determined to force it; but O'Neill's cavalry repulsed
him for the moment, and then rapidly retired. Stewart
immediately advanced at a gallop ; but had scarcely en-
tered the causeway when a terrible fusilade from within
scattered his men, and drove them back. A forlorn-
hope vras now ordered to seize the pass, and the battle
raged fiercely on both sides. A nephew of the English
commander engaged in single combat with Owen Roe ;
but the clansmen of the latter attached too much im-
portance to his life to suffer it to be risked in this species
of wild tournament. Stewart was struck by a shot, and
' a dozen pikes pinned his horse to the ground. At this
moment Shane O'Neill advanced with some troops of
cavalry ; both parties then engaged, and the encounter
lasted fully half an hour, when the Irish retired, after

leaving many of their companions dead in the gap

Stewart did not venture to pursue his partial victory,
and, before O'Neill arrived at Mohill, he received an ac-
cession of men and arms, which more than compensated

1 2 3 4 6 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 6 of 22)