The Story Of Ireland
Emily Lawless

Part 3 out of 6

Three years later he was again summoned, and this time, on Wolsey's
urgent advice, thrown into the Tower. Heavy accusations had been made
against him, the most formidable of which was that he had used the
king's ordnance to strengthen his own castle of Maynooth. The Ormonds
and the cardinal were bent upon his ruin. The earl, however, faced his
accusers boldly; met even the great cardinal himself in a war of words,
and proved to be more than his equal. Once again he was acquitted and
restored to Ireland, and after a while the deputyship was restored to
him, John Allen, a former chaplain of Wolsey's, being however appointed
Archbishop of Dublin, and Chancellor, with private orders to keep a
watch upon Kildare, and to report his proceedings to the
English Council.

Yet a third time in 1534 he was summoned, and now the case was more
serious. The whole situation had in fact in the meanwhile utterly
changed, Henry was now in the thick of his great struggle with Rome.
With excommunication hanging over his head, Ireland had suddenly become
a formidable peril. Fears were entertained of a Spanish descent upon its
coast. One of the emperor's chaplains was known to be intriguing with
the Earl of Desmond. Cromwell's iron hand too was over the realm and
speedily made itself felt in Ireland. Kildare was once more thrown into
the Tower, from which this time he was never destined to emerge. He was
ill already of a wound received the previous year, and the confinement
and trouble of mind--which before long became acute--brought his life
to a close.

His son Thomas--generally known as Silken Thomas from the splendour of
his clothes--had been rashly appointed vice-deputy by his father before
his departure. In the month of August, a report reached Ireland that the
earl had been executed, and the whole house of Geraldine was forthwith
thrown into the wildest convulsions of fury at the intelligence. Young
Lord Thomas--he was only at the time twenty-one--hot-tempered,
undisciplined, and brimful of the pride of his race--at once flew to
arms. His first act was to renounce his allegiance to England. Galloping
up to the Council with a hundred and fifty Geraldines at his heels, he
seized the Sword of State, marched into the council-room, and addressing
the Council in his capacity of Vice-deputy, poured forth a speech full
of boyish fanfaronade and bravado. "Henceforth," said he, "I am none of
Henry's deputy! I am his foe! I have more mind to meet him in the field,
than to serve him in office." With other words to the like effect he
rendered up the Sword, and once more springing upon his horse, galloped
out of Dublin.

He was back again before long, this time with intent to seize the town.
There was little or no defence. Ormond was away; the walls were decayed;
ordnance was short--a good deal of it, the Geraldine enemies said, had
been already removed to Maynooth. White, the commander, threw himself
into the castle; the gates were opened; Lord Thomas cantered in and took
possession of the town, the garrison remaining placidly looking on.

Worse was to come. Allen, the archbishop, and the great enemy of the
Fitzgeralds made an attempt to escape to England, but was caught and
savagely murdered by some of the Geraldine adherents upon the sea coast
near Clontarf. When the news of these proceedings--especially of the
last named--reached England, the sensation naturally was immense. Henry
hastily despatched Sir William Skeffington with a considerable force to
restore order, but his coming was long delayed, and when he did arrive
his operations were feeble in the extreme. Ormond had marched rapidly up
from the south, and almost single-handed defended the interests of
government. Even after his arrival Skeffington, who was old, cautious,
and enfeebled by bad health, remained for months shut up in Dublin doing
nothing, the followers of Lord Thomas wasting the country at pleasure,
and burning the towns of Trim and Dunboyne, not many miles from
its walls.

The Earl of Kildare had meanwhile died in prison, broken-hearted at the
news of this ill-starred rising, in which he doubtless foresaw the ruin
of his house. It was not until the month of March, eight months after
his arrival in Ireland, that Sir William ventured to leave Dublin, and
advance to the attack of Maynooth Castle, the great Leinster stronghold
and Paladium of the Geraldines. Young Kildare, as he now was, was away
in the south, but managed to throw some additional men into the castle,
which was already strongly fortified, and believed in Ireland to be
impregnable. The siege train imported by the deputy shortly dispelled
that illusion. Whether, as is asserted, treachery from within aided the
result or not, the end was not long delayed. After a few days
Skeffington's cannons made a formidable breach in the walls. The English
soldiery rushed in. The defenders threw down their arms and begged
mercy, and a long row of them, including the Dean of Kildare and another
priest who happened to be in the castle at the time were speedily
hanging in front of its walls. "The Pardon of Maynooth" was from that
day forth a well-known Irish equivalent for the gallows!

This was the end of the rebellion. The destruction of Maynooth Castle
seems to have struck a cold chill to the very hearts of the Geraldines.
For a while, Earl Thomas and his brother-in-law, the chief of the
O'Connors, tried vainly to sustain the spirits of their followers. The
rising seems to have melted away almost of its own accord, and within a
few months the young leader himself surrendered to Lord Leonard Grey,
the English commander, upon the understanding that his life was to be
spared. Lord Leonard was his near relative, and therefore no doubt
willing, as far as was compatible with safety to himself, to do the best
he could for his kinsman. Whether a promise was formally given, or
whether as was afterwards asserted "comfortable words were spoken to
Thomas to allure him to yield" the situation was considered too grave
for any mere fanciful consideration of honour to stand in the way. Lord
Thomas was not executed upon the spot, but he was thrown into prison,
and a year later with five of his uncles, two of whom at least had had
no share whatever in the raising, he was hanged at Tyburn. Of all the
great house of the Leinster Geraldines only a boy of twelve years old
survived this hecatomb.




In spite of his feeble health and feebler energies, Sir William
Skeffington was continued Lord-deputy until his death, which took place
not many months after the fall of Maynooth--"A good man of war, but not
quick enough for Ireland"--seems to have been the verdict of his
contemporaries upon him. He was succeeded by Lord Leonard Grey, against
whom no such charge could be made. His energy seems to have been
immense. He loved, we are told, to be "ever in the saddle." Such was the
rapidity of his movements, and such the terror they inspired that for a
while a sort of awe-struck tranquillity prevailed. He overran Cork;
broke down the castles of the Barrys and Munster Geraldines; destroyed
the famous bridge over the Shannon across which the O'Briens of Clare
had been in the habit of descending from time immemorial upon the Pale,
and after these various achievements returned triumphantly to Dublin.

His Geraldine connection proved however his ruin. He was accused of
favouring the adherents of their fallen house, and even of conniving at
the escape of its last legitimate heir; of playing "Bo Peep" with him,
as Stanihurst, the historian puts it. Ormond and the deputy were never
friends, and Ormond had won--not undeservedly--great weight in the
councils of Henry. "My Lord-deputy," Lord Butler, Ormond's son had
declared, "is the Earl of Kildare born over again." Luttrell, on the
other hand, declared that "Ormond hated Grey worse than he had hated
Kildare." All agreed that Lord Leonard was difficult to work with. He
seems to have been a well-intentioned man, a hard worker, and a keen
soldier, but neither subtle enough nor conciliatory enough for his
place. He was accused of treasonable practices, and a list of formidable
charges made against him. At his own request he was summoned to court to
answer these. To a good many he pleaded guilty--half in contempt as it
would seem--and threw himself upon the mercy of the king. No mercy
however followed. Like many another "well-meaning English official" of
the period, his life ended upon the scaffold.

A more astute and cautious man, Sir Anthony St. Leger, next took the
helm in Ireland. His task was chiefly one of diplomacy, and he carried
it out with much address. In 1537 a parliament had been summoned in
Dublin for the purpose of carrying out the Act of Supremacy. To this
proposal the lay members seem to have been perfectly indifferent, but,
as was to be expected, the clergy stood firmer. So resolute were they in
their opposition that the parliament had to be prorogued, and upon its
re-assembling, a Bill was hastily forced through by the Privy Council,
declaring that the proctors, who had long represented the clergy in the
Lower House, had henceforward no place in the Legislature. The Act of
Supremacy was then passed: thirteen abbeys were immediately suppressed,
and the firstfruits made over to the king in place of the Pope. The
foundation of the new edifice was felt to have been securely laid.

This was followed five years later by another Act, by which the property
of over four hundred religious houses was confiscated. That the
arguments which applied forcibly enough in many cases for the
confiscations of religious houses in England had no application in
Ireland, was a circumstance which was not allowed to count. In England,
the monasteries were rich; in Ireland, they were, for the most part,
very poor: in England, they absorbed the revenues of the parishes; in
Ireland, the monks as a rule served the parishes themselves: in England,
popular condemnation had to a great degree already forestalled the legal
enactment; in Ireland, nothing of the sort had ever been thought of: in
England, the monks were as a rule distinctly behind the higher orders of
laity in education; in Ireland, they were practically the only
educators. These however were details. Uniformity was desirable. The
monasteries were doomed, and before long means were found to enlist most
of the Irish landowners, Celts no less than Normans, in favour of the

At a great parliament summoned in Dublin in 1540, all the Irish lords of
English descent, and a large muster of native chieftains were for the
first time in history assembled together under one roof. O'Tooles and
O'Byrnes from their wild Wicklow mountains; the McMurroughs from Carlow,
the O'Connor, the O'Dunn, the O'Moore; the terrible McGillapatrick from
his forests of Upper Ossory--all the great O's and Macs in fact of
Ireland were called together to meet the Butlers, the Desmonds, the
Barrys, the Fitzmaurices--their hereditary enemies now for four long
centuries. One house alone was not represented, and that the greatest of
them all. The sun of the Kildares had set for a while, and the only
surviving member of it was a boy, hiding in holes and corners, and
trusting for the bare life to the fealty of his clansmen.

Nothing that could reconcile the chiefs to the new religious departure
was omitted upon this occasion. Their new-found loyalty was to be
handsomely rewarded with a share of the Church spoil. Nor did they show
the smallest reluctance, it must be said, to meet the king's good
dispositions half way. The principal Church lands in Galway were made
over to McWilliam, the head of the Burkes; O'Brien received the abbey
lands in Thomond; other chiefs received similar benefices according to
their degree, while a plentiful shower of less substantial, but still
appreciated favours followed. The turbulent McGillapatrick of Ossory was
to be converted into the decorous-sounding Lord Upper Ossory. For Con
O'Neill as soon as he chose to come in, the Earldom of Tyrone was
waiting. McWilliam Burke of Galway was to become Earl of Clanricarde;
O'Brien of Clare, Earl of Thomond and Baron of Inchiquin. Parliamentary
robes, and golden chains; a house in Dublin for each chief during the
sitting of Parliament--these were only a portion of the good things
offered by the deputy on the part of his master. Could man or monarch do
more? In a general interchange of civilities the "King's Irish enemies"
combined with their hereditary foes to proclaim him no longer Lord, but
King of Ireland--"Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England
and Ireland on earth the Supreme Head."




So far so good. Despite a few trifling clouds which overhung the
horizon, the latter years of Henry VIII.'s life and the short reign of
his successor may claim to count among the comparatively halcyon periods
of Irish history. The agreement with the landowners worked well, and no
serious fears of any purpose to expel them from their lands had as yet
been awakened. Henry's policy was upon the whole steadily conciliatory.
Tyrant as he was, he could be just when his temper was not roused, and
he kept his word loyally in this case. To be just and firm, and to give
time for those hitherto untried varieties of government to work, was at
once the most merciful and most politic course that could be pursued.
Unfortunately for the destinies of Ireland, unfortunately for the future
comfort of her rulers, there was too little patience to persevere in
that direction. The Government desired to eat their loaf before there
was fairly time for the corn to sprout. The seed of conciliation had
hardly begun to grow before it was plucked hastily up by the roots
again. The plantations of Mary's reign, and the still larger operations
carried on in that of her sister, awakened a deep-seated feeling of
distrust, a rooted belief in the law as a mysterious and
incomprehensible instrument invented solely for the perpetration of
injustice, a belief which is certainly not wholly extinguished even in
our own day.

For the present, however, "sober ways, politic shifts, and amicable
persuasions" were the rule. Chief after chief accepted the indenture
which made him owner in fee simple under the king of his tribal lands.
These indentures, it is true, were in themselves unjust, but then it was
not as it happened a form of injustice that affected them unpleasantly.
Con O'Neill, Murrough O'Brien, McWilliam of Clanricarde, all visited
Greenwich in the summer of 1543, and all received their peerages direct
from the king's own hands. The first named, as became his importance,
was received with special honour, and received the title of Earl of
Tyrone, with the second title of Baron of Dungannon for any son whom he
liked to name. The son whom he did name--apparently in a fit of
inadvertence--was one Matthew, who is confidently asserted to have not
been his son at all, but the son of a blacksmith, and who in any case
was not legitimate. An odd choice, destined, as will be seen, to lead to
a good deal of bloodshed later on.

One or two of the new peers were even persuaded to send over their heirs
to be brought up at the English Court, according to a gracious hint from
the king. Young Barnabie FitzPatrick, heir to the new barony of Upper
Ossory, was one of these, and the descendent of a long line of turbulent
McGillapatricks, grew up there into a douce-mannered English-seeming
youth, the especial friend and chosen companion of the mild
young prince.

While civil strife was thus settling down, religious strife
unfortunately was only beginning to awaken. The question of supremacy
had passed over as we have seen in perfect tranquillity; it was a very
different matter when it came to a question of doctrine. Unlike England,
Ireland had never been touched by religious controversy. The native
Church and the Church of the Pale were sharply separated from one
another it is true, but it was by blood, language, and mutual
jealousies, not by creed, doctrine, or discipline. As regards these
points they were all but absolutely identical. The attempt to change
their common faith was instantly and vehemently resisted by both alike.
Could a Luther or a John Knox have arrived, with all the fervour of
their popular eloquence, the case might possibly have been different. No
Knox or Luther however, showed the slightest symptom of appearing,
indeed hardly an attempt was made to supply doctrines to the new
converts. The few English divines that did come knew no Irish, those who
listened to them knew no English. The native priests were silent and
suspicious. A general pause of astonishment and consternation prevailed.

The order for the destruction of relics broke this silence, and sent a
passionate thrill of opposition through all breasts, lay as well as
clerical. When the venerated remains of the golden days of the Irish
Church were collected together and publicly destroyed, especially when
the staff of St. Patrick, the famous Baculum Cristatum, part of which
was believed to have actually touched the hands of the Saviour, was
burnt in Dublin in the market-place, a spasm of shocked dismay ran
through the whole island. Men who would have been scandalized by no
other form of violence were horror-stricken at this. Differences of
creed were so little understood that a widespread belief that a new era
of paganism was about to be inaugurated sprang up all over Ireland. To
this belief the friars, who, though driven from their cloisters, were
still numerous, lent their support, as did the Jesuits, who now for the
first time began to arrive in some numbers. Even the acceptance of the
supremacy began to be rebelled against now that it was clearly seen what
it was leading to. An order to read the new English liturgy was met with
sullen resistance--"Now shall every illiterate fellow read mass!" cried
Archbishop Dowdal of Armagh, in hot wrath and indignation. Brown, the
Archbishop of Dublin, was an ardent reformer, so also was the Bishop of
Meath, but to the mass of their brethren they simply appeared to be
heretics. A proposal was made to translate the Prayer-book into Irish,
but it was never carried into effect, indeed, even in the next century
when Bishop Bedell proposed to undertake the task he received little

The attempt to force Protestantism upon the country produced one, and
only one, important result. It broke down those long-standing barriers
which had hitherto separated Irishmen of different blood and lineage,
and united them like one man against the Crown. When the common faith
was touched the common sense of brotherhood was kindled. "The English
and Irish," Archbishop Brown wrote in despair to Cromwell, "both oppose
your lordship's orders, and begin to lay aside their own quarrels." Such
a result might be desirable in itself, but it certainly came in the form
least likely to prove propitious for the future tranquillity of the
country. Even those towns where loyalty had hitherto stood above
suspicion received the order to dismantle their churches and destroy all
"pictures and Popish fancies" with sullen dislike and hostility. Galway,
Kilkenny, Waterford, each and all protested openly. The Irish
problem--not so very easy of solution before--had suddenly received a
new element of confusion. One that was destined to prove a greater
difficulty than all the rest put together.




With Mary's accession the religious struggle was for a while postponed.
Some feeble attempts were even made to recover the Church property, but
too many people's interests were concerned for much to be done in that
direction. Dowdal, Archbishop of Armagh, who had been deprived, was
restored to his primacy. Archbishop Brown and the other conforming
bishops were deprived. So also were all married clergy, of whom there
seem to have been but few; otherwise there was no great difference. As
far as the right of exercising her supremacy was concerned, Mary
relished Papal interference nearly as little as did her father.

Although the religious struggle was thus for a time postponed, the other
vital Irish point--the possession of the land--now began to be pressed
with new vigour. Fercal, Leix, and Offaly, belonging to the fierce
tribes of the O'Moores, O'Dempseys, O'Connors, and O'Carrols, lay upon
the Kildare frontier of the Pale, and had long been a standing menace to
their more peaceful neighbours. It was now determined that this tract
should be added to the still limited area of shire land. The chiefs, it
is true, had been indentured by Henry, but since then there had been
outbreaks of the usual sort, and it was considered by the Government
that nowhere could the longed-for experiment of a plantation be tried
with greater advantage.

There was little or no resistance. The chiefs, taken by surprise,
submitted. The English force sent against them, under the command of Sir
Edward Bellingham, was irresistible. O'Moore and O'Connor were seized
and sent prisoners to England. Dangen, which had so often resisted the
soldiers of the Pale was taken. The tribesmen whose fathers had fed
their cattle from time immemorial upon the unfenced pastures of the
plains were driven off, and took refuge in the forests, which still
covered most of the centre of Ireland. The more profitable land was then
leased by the Crown to English colonists--Cosbies, Barringtons, Pigotts,
Bowens, and others. Leix and a portion of Offaly were called Queen's
County, in compliment to the queen, the remainder King's County, in
compliment to Philip. Dangen at the same time becoming Phillipstown, and
Campa Maryborough. The experiment was regarded as eminently successful,
and congratulations passed between the deputy and the English Council,
but it awakened a deep-seated sense of insecurity and ill-usage, which
argued poorly for the tranquillity of the future.

Of the rest of Mary's reign little needs to be here recorded. That
indelible brand of blood which it has left on English history was all
but unfelt in Ireland. There had been few Protestant converts, and those
few were not apparently emulous of martyrdom. No Smithfield fires were
lighted in Dublin, indeed it is a curious fact that in the whole course
of Irish history--so prodigal of other horrors--no single execution for
heresy is, it is said, recorded. A story is found in the Ware Papers,
and supported by the authority of Archbishop Ussher, which, if true,
shows that this reproach to Irish Protestantism--if indeed it is a
reproach--was once nearly avoided. The story runs that one Cole, Dean of
St. Paul's, was despatched by Mary with a special commission to "lash
the heretics of Ireland." That Cole slept on his way at an inn in
Chester, the landlady of which happened to have a brother, a Protestant
then living in Dublin. This woman, hearing him boast of his commission,
watched her opportunity, and stole the commission out of his cloak-bag,
substituting for it a pack of cards. Cole unsuspiciously pursued his
way, and presenting himself authoritatively before the deputy, declared
his business and opened his bag. There, in place of the commission
against the heretics, lay the pack of cards with the knave of clubs

The story goes on to say that the dean raged in discomfited fury, but
that the deputy, though himself a Roman Catholic, took the matter
easily. "Let us have another commission," he said, "and meanwhile we
will shuffle the cards." The cards were effectually shuffled, for before
any further steps could be taken Mary had died.



Upon the 17th of November, 1558, Mary died, and upon the afternoon of
the same day Elizabeth was proclaimed queen. A new reign is always
accounted a new starting-point, and in this case the traditional method
of dividing history is certainly no misleader. The old queen had been
narrow, dull-witted, bigoted; an unhappy woman, a miserable wife,
plagued with sickness, plagued, above all, with a conscience whose
mission seems to have been to distort everything that came under its
cognizance. A woman even whose good qualities--and she had several--only
seemed to push her further and further down the path of disaster.

The new queen was twenty-six years old. Old enough, therefore, to have
realized what life meant, young enough to have almost illimitable
possibilities still unrevealed to her. No pampered royal heiress,
either, for whom the world of hard facts had no reality, and the silken
shams of a Court constituted the only standpoint, but one who had
already with steady eyes looked danger and disaster in the face and knew
them for what they were. With a realm under her hand strong already, and
destined before her death to grow stronger still; with a spirit too,
strong enough and large enough for her realm; stronger perhaps in spite
of her many littlenesses than that of any of the men she ruled over.

And Ireland? How was it affected by this change of rulers? At first
fairly well. The early months of the new reign were marked by a policy
of conciliation. Protestantism was of course, re-established, but there
was no eagerness to press the Act of Conformity with any severity, and
Mass was still said nearly everywhere except in the Pale.

As usual, troubles began in the North. Henry VIII., it will be
remembered, had granted the hereditary lands of Tyrone to Con O'Neill,
with remainder to Matthew, the new Baron of Dungannon, whereas lands in
Ulster, as elsewhere in Ireland, had always hitherto, by the law of
Tanistry, been vested in the tribe, who claimed the right to select
whichever of their late chiefs' sons they themselves thought fit. This
right they now proceeded to exercise. Matthew, if he was Con's son at
all, which was doubtful, was unquestionably illegitimate, and,
therefore, by English as well as Irish law, wrongfully put in the place.
On the other hand, a younger son Shane--called affectionately "Shane the
Proud" by his clansmen--was unquestionably legitimate, and what was of
much more importance, was already the idol of every fighting O'Neill
from Lough Foyle to the banks of the Blackwater.

Shane is one of those Irish heroes--rather perhaps Ulster heroes, for
his aspirations were hardly national--whom it is extremely difficult to
mete out justice to with a perfectly even hand. He was unquestionably
three-fourths of a savage--that fact we must begin in honesty by
admitting--at the same time, he was a very brilliant, and, even in many
respects attractive, savage. His letters, though suffering like those of
some other distinguished authors from being translated, are full of
touches of fiery eloquence, mixed with bombast and the wildest and most
monstrously inflated self-pretension. His habits certainly were not
commendable. He habitually drank, and it is also said ate a great deal
more than was good for him. He ill-used his unlucky prisoners. He
divorced one wife to marry another, and was eager to have a third in the
lifetime of the second, making proposals at the same time to the deputy
for the hand of his sister, and again and again petitioning the queen to
provide him with some "English gentlewoman of noble blood, meet for my
vocation, so that by her good civility and bringing up the country would
become civil." In spite however of these and a few other lapses from the
received modern code of morals and decorum, Shane the Proud is an
attractive figure in his way, and we follow his fortunes with an
interest which more estimable heroes fail sometimes to awaken.

The Baron of Dungannon was in the meantime dead, having been slain in a
scuffle with his half-brother's followers--some said by his
half-brother's own hand--previous to his father's death. His son,
however, who was still a boy, was safe in England, and now appealed
through his relations to the Government, and Sir Henry Sidney, who in
Lord Sussex's absence was in command, marched from Dublin to support the
English candidate. At a meeting which took place at Dundalk Shane seems
however to have convinced Sidney to some degree of the justice of his
claim, and hostilities were delayed until the matter could be reported
to the queen.

Upon Sussex's return from England they broke out again. Shane, however,
had by this time considerably strengthened his position. Not only had he
firmly established himself in the allegiance of his own tribe, but had
found allies and assistants outside it. There had of late been a steady
migration of Scotch islanders into the North of Ireland, "Redshanks" as
they were familiarly called, and a body of these, got together by Shane
and kept as a body-guard, enabled him to act with unusual rapidity and
decision. Upon Sussex attempting to detach two chieftains, O'Reilly of
Brefny and O'Donnell of Tyrconnel, who owed him allegiance, Shane flew
into Brefny and Tyrconnel, completely overawed the two waverers, and
carried off Calvagh O'Donnell with his wife, who was a sister-in-law of
the Earl of Argyle. The following summer he encountered Sussex himself
and defeated him, sending his army flying terror-stricken back upon
Armagh. This feat established him as the hero of the North. No army
which Sussex could again gather together could be induced to risk the
fate of its predecessor. The deputy was a poor soldier, feeble and
vacillating in the field. He was no match for his fiery assailant; and
after an attempt to get over the difficulty by suborning one Neil Grey
to make away with the too successful Shane, he was reduced to the
necessity of coming to terms. An agreement was entered into with the
assistance of the Earl of Kildare, by which Shane agreed to present
himself at the English Court, and there, if he could, to make good his
claims in person before the queen.

Few scenes are more picturesque, or stand out more vividly before our
imagination than this visit of the turbulent Ulster chieftain to the
capital of his unknown sovereign. As he came striding down the London
streets on his way to the Palace, the citizens ran to their doors to
stare at the redoubtable Irish rebel with his train of galloglasses at
his heels--huge bareheaded fellows clad in saffron shirts, their huge
naked axes swung over their shoulders, their long hair streaming behind
them, their great hairy mantles dangling nearly to their heels. So
attended, and in such order, Shane presented himself before the queen,
amid a buzz, as may be imagined, of courtly astonishment. Elizabeth
seems to have been equal to the situation. She motioned Shane, who had
prostrated himself, clansman fashion upon the floor, to rise, "check'd
with a glance the circle's smile," eyeing as she did so, not without
characteristic appreciation, the redoubtable thews and sinews of this
the most formidable of her vassals.

Her appreciation, equally characteristically, did not hinder her from
taking advantage of a flaw in his safe-conduct to keep Shane fuming at
her Court until he had agreed to her own terms. When at last he was
allowed to return home it was with a sort of compromise of his claim. He
was not to call himself Earl of Tyrone--a distinction to which, in
truth, he seems to have attached little importance--but he was allowed
to be still the O'Neill, with the additional title of "Captain of
Tyrone." To which the wits of the Court added--

"Shane O'Neill, Lord of the North of Ireland;
Cousin of St. Patrick. Friend of the Queen of England;
Enemy of all the world besides."

Shane and his galloglasses went home, and for some two years he and the
Irish Government left one another comparatively alone. He was supreme
now in the North, and ruled his own subjects at his own pleasure and
according to his own rude fashion. Sussex made another attempt not long
after to poison him in a gift of wine, which all but killed him and his
entire household, which still included the unhappy "Countess" and her
yet more unhappy husband Calvagh O'Donnell, whom Shane kept securely
ironed in a cell at the bottom of his castle. The incident did not add
to his confidence in the Queen's Government, or incline him to trust
himself again in their hands, which, all things considered, was hardly

That in his own wild way Shane kept the North in order even his enemies
admitted. While the East and West of Ireland were distracted with feuds,
and in the South Ormond and Desmond were wasting one another's country
with unprecedented ferocity, Ulster was comparatively peaceable and
prosperous. Chiefs who made themselves objectionable to Shane felt the
weight of his arm, but that perhaps had not a little to say to this
tranquillity. Mr. Froude--no exaggerated admirer of Irish heroes--tells
us _apropos_ of this time, "In O'Neill's county alone in Ireland were
peasants prosperous, or life and property safe," though he certainly
adds that their prosperity flourished largely upon the spoils collected
by them from the rest of the country.

That Shane himself believed that he had so far kept his word with
Elizabeth is pretty evident, for in a letter to her written in his usual
inflated style about the notorious Sir Thomas Stukeley, he entreats that
she will pardon the latter "for his sake and in the name of the services
which he had himself rendered to England." Whether Elizabeth, or still
more Sidney, were equally convinced of those services is an
open question.

Shane's career however was rapidly running to a close. In 1565 he made a
sudden and unexpected descent upon the Scots in Antrim, where, after a
fierce combat, an immense number of the latter were slaughtered, a feat
for which he again had the audacity to write to Elizabeth and assure her
that it was all done in her service. Afterwards he made a descent on
Connaught, driving back with him into his own country over 4000 head of
cattle which he had captured. His game, however, was nearly at an end.
Sir Henry Sidney was now back to Ireland, this time with the express
purpose of crushing the rebel, and had marched into Ulster with a
considerable force for that purpose. Shane, nevertheless, still showed a
determined front. Struck up an alliance with Argyle, and wrote to France
for instant aid to hold Ulster against Elizabeth, nay, in spite of his
recent achievement, he seems to have even hoped to win the Scotch
settlers over to his side. Sidney however was this time in earnest, and
was a man of very different calibre from Sussex, in whom Shane had
previously found so easy an antagonist. He marched right across Ulster,
and entered Tyrconnel; reinstated the O'Donnells who had been driven
thence by Shane; continued his march to Sligo, and from there to
Connaught, leaving Colonel Randolph and the O'Donnells to hold the North
and finish the work which he had begun.

Randolph's camp was pitched at Dorry--not then the _protegee_ of London,
nor yet famed in story, but a mere insignificant hamlet, consisting of
an old castle and a disused graveyard. It was this latter site that the
unlucky English commander selected for his camp, with, as might be
expected, the most disastrous results. Fever broke out, the water proved
to be poisonous, and in a short time half the force were dead or dying,
Randolph himself being amongst the former. An explosion which occurred
in a magazine finished the disaster, and the scared survivors escaped in
dismay to Carrickfergus. Local superstition long told tales of the fiery
portents and miracles by which the heretic soldiery were driven from the
sacred precincts which their presence had polluted.

With that odd strain of greatness which ran through her, Elizabeth seems
to have accepted this disaster well, and wrote "comfortable words" to
Sidney upon the subject. For the time being, however, the attack upon
Shane devolved of necessity wholly upon his native foes.

Aided by good fortune they proved for once more than a match for him.
Encouraged by the disaster of the Derry garrison, Shane made a hasty
advance into Tyrconnel, and crossed with a considerable force over the
ford of Lough Swilly, near Letterkenny. He found the O'Donnells, though
fewer in number than his own forces, established in a strong position
upon the other side. From this position he tried to drive them by force,
but the O'Donnells were prepared, and Shane's troops coming on in
disorder were beaten back upon the river. The tide had in the meantime
risen, and there was therefore no escape. Penned between the flood and
the O'Donnells, over 3000 of his men perished, many by drowning, but the
greater number being hacked to death upon the strand. Shane himself
narrowly escaped with his life by another ford.

The Hero of the North was now a broken man. Such a disaster was not to
be retrieved. The English troops were again coming rapidly up. The
victorious O'Donnells held all the country behind him. A French descent,
even if it had come, would hardly have saved him now. In this extremity
a desperate plan occurred to him. Followed by a few horsemen, and
accompanied by the unhappy "Countess" who had so long shared his curious
fortunes, he rode off to the camp of the Scotch settlers in Antrim,
there to throw himself on their mercy and implore their support. It was
an insane move. He was received with seeming courtesy, and a banquet
spread in his honour. Lowering looks however were bent upon him from
every side of the table. Captain Pierce, an English officer, had been
busy the day before stirring up the smouldering embers of anger.
Suddenly a taunt was flung out by one of the guests at the discomfited
hero. Shane--forgetting perhaps where he was--sprang up to revenge it. A
dozen swords and skeans blazed out upon him, and he fell, pierced by
three or four of his entertainers at once. His body was then tossed into
an old ruined chapel hard by, where the next day his head was hacked off
by Captain Pierce, and carried to Sidney, who sent it to be spiked upon
Dublin Castle. It was but too characteristic an end of an eminently
characteristic career.

[Illustration: ST. PATRICK'S BELL.]



By 1566 Sir Henry Sidney became Lord-deputy, not now in the room of
another, but fully appointed. With the possible exception of Sir John
Perrot, he was certainly the ablest of all the viceroys to whom
Elizabeth committed power in Ireland. Unlike others he had the
advantage, too, of having served first in the country in subordinate
capacities, and so earning his experience. He even seems to have been
fairly popular, which, considering the nature of some of his
proceedings, throws a somewhat sinister light, it must be owned, upon
those of his successors and predecessors.

After the death and defeat of Shane the Proud a lull took place, and the
new deputy took the opportunity of making a progress through the south
and west of the island, which he reports to be all terribly wasted by
war. Many districts, he says, "had but one-twentieth part of their
former population." Galway, worn out by incessant attacks, could
scarcely defend her walls. Athenry had but four respectable householders
left, who "sadly presenting the rusty keys of their once famous town,
confessed themselves unable to defend it."

[Illustration: SIR HENRY SIDNEY, LORD-DEPUTY FROM 1565 TO 1587. (_From
an engraving by Harding_.)]

Sidney was one of the first to relinquish what had hitherto been the
favourite and traditional policy of all English governors, that, namely,
of playing one great lord or chieftain against another, and to attempt
the larger task of putting down and punishing all signs of
insubordination especially in the great. In this respect he was the
political parent of Strafford, who acted the same part sixty years
later. He had not--any more than his great successor--to reproach
himself either with feebleness in the execution of his policy. The
number of military executions that mark his progress seem to have
startled his own coadjutors, and even to have evoked some slight
remonstrance from Elizabeth herself. "Down they go at every corner!" the
Lord-deputy writes at this time triumphantly in an account of his own
proceedings, "and down, God willing, they shall go."

A plan for appointing presidents of provinces had been a favourite with
the late deputy, Sussex, and was now revived. Sir Edward Fitton, one of
the judges of the Queen's Bench, was appointed to the province of
Connaught--a miserably poor appointment as it turned out; Sir John
Perrot a little later to Munster; Leinster for the present the deputy
reserved for himself. This done he returned, first pausing to arrest the
Earl of Desmond and carrying him and his brother captive to Dublin and
eventually to London, where according to the queen's orders he was to be
brought in order that she might adjudicate herself in the quarrel
between him and Ormond.

The two earls--they were stepson and stepfather by the way--had for
years been at fierce feud, a feud which had desolated the greater part
of the South of Ireland. It was a question of titles and ownership, and
therefore exclusively one for the lawyers. The queen, however, was
resolved that it should be decided in Ormond's favour. Ormond was "sib
to the Boleyns;" Ormond had been the playmate of "that sainted young
Solomon, King Edward," and Ormond therefore, it was quite clear, must
know whether the lands were his own or not.

Against the present Desmond nothing worse was charged than that he had
enforced what he considered his palatinate rights in the old,
high-handed, time-immemorial fashion. His father, however, had been in
league with Spain, and he himself was held to be contumacious, and had
never been on good terms with any of the deputies.

On this occasion he had, however, surrendered himself voluntarily to
Sidney. Nevertheless, upon his arrival he was kept a close prisoner, and
upon attempting, sometime afterwards, to escape, was seized, and only
received his life on condition of surrendering the whole of his
ancestral estates to the Crown, a surrender which happened to fit in
very conveniently with a plan upon which the attention of the English
Council was at that time turned.

The expenses of Ireland were desperately heavy, and Elizabeth's frugal
soul was bent upon some plan for their reduction. A scheme for reducing
the cost of police duty by means of a system of military colonies had
long been a favourite one, and an opportunity now occurred for turning
it into practice. A number of men of family, chiefly from Devonshire and
Somersetshire, undertook to migrate in a body to Ireland, taking with
them their own farm servants, their farm implements, and everything
necessary for the work of colonization. The leader of these men was Sir
Peter Carew, who held a shadowy claim over a vast tract of territory,
dating from the reign of Henry II., a claim which, however, had been
effectually disposed of by the lawyers. The scheme as it was first
proposed was a truly gigantic one. A line was to be drawn from Limerick
to Cork, and everything south of that line was to be given over to the
adventurers. As for the natives, they said, they would undertake to
settle with them. All they required was the queen's permission.
Everything else they could do for themselves.

So heroic a measure was not to be put in force at once. As far as
Carew's claims went, he took the matter, however, into his own hands by
forcibly expelling the occupiers of the lands in question, and putting
his own retainers into them. As fortune would have it, amongst the first
lands thus laid hold of were some belonging to the Butlers, brothers of
Lord Ormond, and therefore probably the only Irish landowners whose cry
for justice was pretty certain just then to be heard in high quarters.
Horrible tales of the atrocities committed by Carew and his band was
reported by Sir Edward Butler, who upon his side was not slow to commit
retaliations of the same sort A spasm of anger, and a wild dread of
coming contingencies flew through the whole South of Ireland. Sir James
Fitzmaurice, cousin of the Earl of Desmond, broke into open rebellion;
so did also both the younger Butlers. Ormond himself, who was in
England, was as angry as the fiercest, and informed Cecil in plain terms
that "if the lands of good subjects were not to be safe, he for one
would be a good subject no longer."

It was no part of the policy of the Government to alienate the one man
in Ireland upon whose loyalty they could depend at a pinch. By the
personal efforts of the queen his wrath was at last pacified, and he
agreed to accept her earnest assurance that towards him at least no
injury was intended. This done, he induced his brothers to withdraw from
the alliance, while Sir Henry Sidney, sword in hand, went into Munster
and carried out the work of pacification in the usual fashion, burning
villages, destroying the harvest, driving off cattle, blowing up
castles, and hanging their garrisons in strings over the battlements.
After which he marched to Connaught, leaving Sir Humphrey Gilbert behind
him to keep order in the south.

For more than two years Sir James Fitzmaurice continued to hold out in
his rocky fastness amongst the Galtese mountains. A sort of grim humour
pervades the relations between him and Sir John Perrot, the new
President of Munster. Perrot had boasted upon his arrival that he would
soon "hunt that fox out of his hole." The fox, however, showed a
disposition to take the part of the lion, sallying out unexpectedly,
ravaging the entire district, burning Kilmallock, and returning again to
his mountains before he could be interfered with. The following year he
marched into Ulster, and on his way home burnt Athlone, the English
garrison there looking helplessly on; joined the two Mac-an-Earlas as
they were called, the sons of Lord Clanricarde, and assisted them to lay
waste Galway, and so returned triumphantly across the Shannon to
Tipperary. Once Perrot all but made an end of him, but his soldiers took
that convenient opportunity of mutinying, and so baulked their leader of
his prey. Another time, in despair of bringing the matter to any
conclusion, the president proposed that it should be decided by single
combat between them, a proposal which Fitzmaurice prudently resisted on
the ground that though Perrot's place could no doubt readily be
supplied, his own was less easily to fill, and that therefore for his
followers' sake he must decline.

At last the long game of hide-and-seek was brought to an end by Sir
James offering to submit, to which Perrot agreeing, he took the required
oaths in the church of Kilmallock, the scene of his former ravages, and
kissed the president's sword in token of his regret for "the said most
mischievous part." This farce gravely gone through, he sailed for
France, and Munster for a while was at peace. It was only a temporary
lull though. The Desmond power was still too towering to be left alone,
and both its defenders and the Government knew that they were merely
indulging in a little breathing time before the final struggle.



The tale of the great Desmond rebellion which ended only with the ruin
of that house, and with the slaughter or starvation of thousands of its
unhappy adherents, is one of those abortive tragedies of which the whole
history of Ireland is full. Our pity for the victims' doom, and our
indignation for the cold-blooded cruelty with which that doom was
carried out, is mingled with a reluctant realization of the fact that
the state of things which preceded it was practically impossible, that
it had become an anomaly, and that as such it was bound either to change
or to perish.

1599. _(From the "Pacata Hibernia.")_]

From the twelfth century onwards, the Desmond Geraldines had been lords,
as has been seen, of a vast tract of Ireland, covering the greater part
of Munster. Earlier and perhaps more completely than any of the other
great Norman houses, they had become Irish chieftains rather than
English subjects, and the opening of Elizabeth's reign found them still
what for centuries past they had been, and with their power, within
their own limits, little if at all curtailed. The Desmond of the day had
still his own judges or Brehons, by whose judgment he professed to rule.
He had still his own palatinate courts; he still collected his dues by
force, driving away his clansmen's cattle, and distraining those who
resisted him. Only a few years before this time, during an expedition of
the kind, he and Ormond had encountered one another in the open field at
Affane, upon the Southern Blackwater, each side flying their banners,
and shouting their war cries as if no queen's representative had ever
been seen or heard of.

Such a state of things, it was plain, could not go on indefinitely,
would not indeed have gone on as long but for the confusion and disorder
in which the country had always been plunged, and especially the want of
all settled communication. The palatinate of Ormond, it is true, was
theoretically in much the same state, but then Ormond was a keener
sighted and a wiser man than Desmond, and knew when the times demanded
redress. He had of late even made some effort to abolish the abominable
system of "coyne and livery," although, as he himself frankly admits, he
was forced to impose it again in another form not long afterwards.

Sir James meanwhile had left Ireland, and at every Catholic Court in
Europe was busily pleading for aid towards a crusade against England.
Failing in France, he appealed to Philip of Spain. Philip, however, at
the moment was not prepared to break with Elizabeth, whereupon
Fitzmaurice, undeterred by failure, presented himself next before the
Pope. Here he was more successful, and preparations for the collection
of a considerable force was at once set on foot, a prominent English
refugee, Dr. Nicolas Saunders, being appointed to accompany it
as legate.

Saunders, who had distinguished himself not long before by a violent
personal attack against Elizabeth, threw himself heart and soul into the
enterprise, and in a letter to Philip pointed out all the advantages
that were to be won by it to the Catholic cause. "Men," he assured him,
"were not needed." Guns, powder, a little money, and a ship or two with
stores from Spain, and the whole country would soon be at his feet.

Although absurdly ignorant, as his own letters prove, of a country of
which he had once been nominally king, Philip knew rather more probably
about the circumstance of the case than Saunders, and he met these
insinuating suggestions coldly. A fleet in the end was fitted out and
sent from Civita Vecchia, under the command of an English adventurer
Stukeley, the same Stukeley in whose favour we saw Shane O'Neill
appealing to Elizabeth. Though it started for Ireland it never arrived
there. Touching at Lisbon, Stukeley was easily persuaded to give up his
first scheme, and to join Sebastian, king of Portugal, in a buccaneering
expedition to Morocco, and at the battle of Alcansar both he and
Sebastian with the greater part of their men were killed.

Fitzmaurice meanwhile had gone to Spain by land, and had there embarked
for Ireland, accompanied by his wife, two children, Saunders, the
legate, Allen, an Irish priest, a small party of Italians and Spaniards,
and a few English refugees, and bringing with them a banner especially
consecrated by the Pope for this service.

Their landing-place was Dingle, and from there they crossed to Smerwick,
where they fortified the small island peninsula of Oilen-an-Oir, or
"Gold Island," where they were joined by John and James Fitzgerald,
brothers of the Earl of Desmond, and by a party of two hundred
O'Flaherties from Iar Connaught, who, however, speedily left again.

But Desmond still vacillated helplessly. Now that the time had come he
could not make up his mind what to do, or with whom to side. He was
evidently cowed. His three imprisonments lay heavily upon his soul. He
knew the power of England better too than most of his adherents, and
shrank from measuring his own strength against it. What he did not
realize was that it was too late now to go back. He had stood out for
what he considered his own rights when it would have been more politic
to have submitted, and now he wanted to submit when it was only too
plain to all who could read the signs of the times that the storm was
already upon him, and that no humility or late-found loyalty could avail
to avert that doom which hung over his house.

If Desmond himself was slow to rise, the whole South of Ireland was in a
state of wild tumult and excitement when the news of the actual arrival
of Fitzmaurice and the legate became known. Nor in the south alone. In
Connaught and the Pale the excitement was very little less. Kildare,
like Desmond, held back fearing the personal consequences of rebellion,
but all the younger lords of the Pale were eager to throw in their lot
with Fitzmaurice. Alone amongst the Irishmen of his day, he possessed
all the necessary qualifications of a leader. He had already for years
successfully resisted the English. He was known to be a man of great
courage and tenacity, and his reputation as a general stood deservedly
high in the opinion of all his countrymen.

[Illustration: CATHERINE, THE "OLD" COUNTESS OF DESMOND. (Reputed to
have been killed at the age of 120 by a fall from a cherry tree.) _(From
the Burne Collection.)_]

That extraordinary good fortune, however, which has so often befallen
England at awkward moments, and never more conspicuously than during the
closing years of the sixteenth century, did not fail now. Fitzmaurice
started for Connaught to encourage the insurrection which had been fast
ripening there under the brutal rule of Sir Nicolas Malby, its governor.
A trumpery quarrel had recently broken out between the Desmonds and the
Mayo Bourkes, and this insignificant affair sealed the fate of what at
one moment promised to be the most formidable rebellion which had ever
assailed the English power in Ireland. At a place called Harrington's
Bridge, not far from Limerick, where the little river Muckern or
Mulkearn was then crossed by a ford, Fitzmaurice was set upon by the
Bourkes. Only a few followers were with him at the time, and in turning
to expostulate with one of his assailants, he was killed by a pistol
shot, and fell from his horse. This was upon the 18th of August, 1579.
From that moment the Desmond rising was doomed.

Desmond meanwhile still sat vacillating in his own castle of Askeaton,
neither joining the rising, nor yet exerting himself vigorously to put
it down. Malby, who had newly arrived from Connaught, took steps to
hasten his decision. Ordering the earl to come to him, and the latter
still hesitating, he marched against Askeaton, utterly destroyed the
town up to the walls of the castle, burning everything in the
neighbourhood, including the abbey and the tombs of the Desmonds, the
castle itself only escaping through the lack of ammunition.

This hint seems to have sufficed. Desmond was at last convinced that the
time for temporizing was over. He rose, and all Munster rose with him.
Ormond was still in London, and hurried over to find all in disorder.
Drury had lately died, and the only other English commander, Malby, was
crippled for want of men, and had been obliged to retreat into
Connaught. The new deputy, Sir William Pelham, had just arrived, and he
and Ormond now proceeded to make a concerted attack. Advancing in two
separate columns they destroyed everything which came in their way; men,
women, children, infants, the old, the blind, the sick all alike were
mercilessly slaughtered; not a roof, however humble, was spared; not a
living creature that crossed their path survived to tell the tale. Lady
Fitzmaurice and her two little children seem to have been amongst the
number of these nameless and uncounted victims, for they were never
heard of again. From Adare and Askeaton to the extreme limits of Kerry,
everything perishable was destroyed. The two commanders met one another
at Tralee, and from this point carried on their raid in unison, and
returned, to Askeaton and Cork, leaving the whole country a desert
behind them. There was little or no resistance. The Desmond clansmen
were not soldiers; they were unarmed, or armed only with spears and
skeans. They had just lost their only leader. They could do nothing but
sullenly watch the progress of the English forces. Desmond, his two
brothers, and the legate were already fugitives. The rising seemed to be
all but crushed, when a new incident occurred to spur it into a
momentary vitality.

Four Spanish vessels, containing 800 men, chiefly Italians, had managed
to pass unperceived by the English admiral, Winter's, fleet, and to land
at Smerwick, where they established themselves in Fitzmaurice's
dismantled fort. They found everything in confusion. They had brought
large supplies of arms for their Irish allies, but there were apparently
no Irish allies to give them to. The legate and Desmond had first to be
found, and now that arms had come, the Munster tribesmen had for the
most part been killed or dispersed. Ormond and Pelham's terrible raid
had done its work, and the heart of the rising was broken. The Pale,
however, had now caught the fire, and though Kildare, its natural
leader, still hung back, Lord Baltinglass and some of the bolder spirits
flew to arms, and threw themselves into the Wicklow highlands where they
joined their forces with those of the O'Byrnes, and were presently
joined by Sir John of Desmond and a handful of Fitzgeralds.

Lord Grey de Wilton had by this time arrived in Ireland as deputy.
Utterly inexperienced in Irish wars, he despised and underrated the
capabilities of those opposed to him, and refused peremptorily to listen
to the advice of more experienced men. Hastening south, his advanced
guard was caught by Baltinglass and the other insurgents in the valley
of Glenmalure. A well-directed fire was poured into the defile; the
English troops broke, and tried to flee, and were shot down in numbers
amongst the rocks.

Lord Grey had no time to retrieve this disaster. Leaving the Pale to the
mercy of the successful rebels, he hastened south, and arrived in Kerry
before Smerwick fort. Amongst the small band of officers who accompanied
him on this occasion were Walter Raleigh and Edmund Spenser, both then
young men, and both of them all but unknown to fame.

The English admiral, Winter, with his fleet had long been delayed by bad
weather. When at length it arrived, cannon were landed and laid in
position upon the sand hills. Next day the siege commenced. There was
heavy firing on both sides, but the fort was soon found to be untenable.
The garrison thereupon offered to capitulate, and an unconditional
surrender was demanded. There being no alternative, these terms were
accepted. Lord Grey thereupon "put in certain bands," under the command
of Captain Raleigh. "The Spaniard," says Spenser, who was an eye-witness
of the whole scene, "did absolutely yield himself, and the fort, and all
therein, and only asked mercy," This, "it was not thought good," he
adds, "to show them." They were accordingly all slaughtered in cold
blood, a few women and priests who were with them hanged, the officers
being reserved for ransom. "There was no other way," Spenser observes in
conclusion, "but to make that end of them as thus was done[8]."

[8] "View of the State of Ireland," pp. 5, 11.

This piece of work satisfactorily finished, Grey returned rapidly to
Dublin to crush the Leinster insurgents. Kildare and Delvin, though they
had kept themselves clear of the rebellion, were arrested and thrown
into prison. Small bands of troopers were sent into the Wicklow
mountains to hunt out the insurgents. Baltinglass escaped to the
Continent, but the two Eustaces his brothers, with Garrot O'Toole and
Feagh McHugh were caught, killed, and their heads sent to Dublin.
Clanricarde's two sons, the Mac-an-Earlas, were out in the Connemara
mountains and could not be got at; but Malby again overran their
country, burning houses and slaughtering without mercy. In Dublin, the
Anglo-Irishmen of the Pale were being brought to trial for treason, and
hung or beheaded in batches. Kildare was sent to England to die in the
Tower. With the exception of the North, which on this occasion had kept
quiet, the whole country had become one great reeking shambles; what
sword and rope and torch had spared, famine came in to complete.

The Earl of Desmond was now a houseless fugitive, hunted like a wolf or
mad dog through the valleys and over the mountains of his own ancestral
"kingdom." His brothers had already fallen. Sir John Fitzgerald had been
killed near Cork, and his body hung head downwards, by Raleigh's order,
upon the bridge of the river Lee. The other brother, Sir James, had met
with a similar fate. Saunders, the legate, had died of cold and
exposure. Desmond alone escaped, time after time, and month after month.
Hunted, desperate, in want of the bare necessities of life, he was still
in his own eyes the Desmond, ancestral owner of nearly a hundred miles
of territory. Never in his most successful period a man of any
particular strength of character, sheer pride seems to have upheld him
now. He scorned to make terms with his hated enemy, Ormond. If he
yielded to any one, he sent word, it would be only to the queen herself
in person. He was not given the chance. Hunted over the Slemish
mountains, with the price of L1,000 on his head, one by one the trusty
companions who had clung to him so faithfully were taken and killed. His
own course could inevitably be but a short one. News reached the English
captain at Castlemain one night that the prey was not far off. A dozen
English soldiers stole up the stream in the grey of the morning. The
cabin where the Desmond lay was surrounded, the door broken in, and the
earl stabbed before there was time for him to spring from his bed. The
tragedy had now been played out to the bitterest end. As formerly with
the Leinster Geraldines, so now with the Munster ones, of the direct
heirs of the house only a single child was left, a feeble boy,
afterwards known by the significant title of the "Tower Earl," with the
extinguishing of whose sickly tenure of life the very name of Desmond
ceases to appear upon the page of Irish history.



Two great risings against Elizabeth's power in Ireland had thus been met
and suppressed. A third and a still more formidable one was yet to come.
The interval was filled with renewed efforts at colonization upon a yet
larger scale than before. Munster, which at the beginning of the Desmond
rising had been accounted the most fertile province in Ireland, was now
little better than a desert. Not once or twice, but many times the
harvest had been burnt and destroyed, and great as had been the
slaughter, numerous as were the executions, they had been far eclipsed
by the multitude of those who had died of sheer famine.

Spenser's evidence upon this point has been often quoted, but no other
words will bring the picture before us in the same simple, awful
vividness; nor must it be forgotten that the man who tells it was under
no temptation to exaggerate having himself been a sharer in the deeds
which had produced so sickening a calamity.

"They were brought to such wretchedness," he says, "that any stony heart
would rue the same. Out of every corner of the woods and glens, they
came, creeping forth upon their hands, for their legs could not bear
them. They looked like anatomies of death; they spoke like ghosts crying
out of their graves. They did eat the dead carrions, where they did find
them, yea and one another soon after, in as much as the very carcases
they spared not to scrape out of their graves; and if they found a plot
of watercresses or shamrocks, there they thronged as to a feast."

To replace this older population, thus starved, slaughtered, made away
with by sword and pestilence with new colonists was the scheme of the
hour. Desmond's vast estate, covering nearly six hundred thousand Irish
acres, not counting waste land, had all been declared forfeit to the
Crown. This and a considerable portion of territory also forfeit in
Leinster was now offered to English colonists upon the most advantageous
terms. No rent was to be paid at first, and for ten years the
undertakers were to be allowed to send their exports duty free.

Many eminent names figure in the long list of these "undertakers";
amongst them Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Christopher Hatton, Sir Wareham St.
Leger, Edmund Spenser himself, Sir Thomas Norris, and others, all of
whom received grants of different portions. But "the greater," says
Leland, "their rank and consequence, the more were they emboldened to
neglect the terms of their grant." Instead of completing their
stipulated number of tenantry, the same persons often were admitted as
tenants to different undertakers, and in the same seniory sometimes
served at once as freeholder, leaseholder, and copyholder, so as to fill
up the necessary number of each denomination.

The whole scheme of colonization proved, in short, a miserable failure.
English farmers and labourers declined to come over in sufficient
numbers. Those that did come left again in despair after a time. The
dispossessed owners hung about, and raided the goods of the settlers
whenever opportunity offered. The exasperation on both sides increased
as years went on; the intruders becoming fewer and more tyrannical, the
natives rapidly growing more numerous and more desperate. It was plain
that the struggle would break out again at the first chance which
offered itself.

That occasion arose not in Munster itself, but at the opposite end of
the island. In Ulster the great southern rising had produced singularly
little excitement. The chiefs for the most part had remained aloof, and
to a great degree, loyal. The O'Donnells, who had been reinstated it
will be remembered in their own territory by Sidney, kept the peace. Sir
John Perrot, who after the departure of Grey became Lord-deputy, seems
in spite of his severity to have won confidence. Old Tyrlough Luinagh
who had been elected O'Neill at the death of Shane, seems even to have
felt a personal attachment for him, which is humorously shown by his
consenting on several occasions to appear at his court in English
attire, habiliments which the Irish, like the the Scotch chiefs,
objected to strongly as tending to make them ridiculous. "Prythee at
least, my lord," he is reported to have said on one of these occasions,
"let my chaplain attend me in his Irish mantle, that so your English
rabble may be directed from my uncouth figure and laugh at him."

[Illustration: _Sr. John Perrot_ LORD-DEPUTY FROM 1584 TO 1588.]

Perrot, however, had now fallen under the royal displeasure; had been
recalled and sent to the Tower, a common enough climax in those days to
years spent in the arduous Irish service. His place was taken in 1588 by
Sir William Fitzwilliam, who had held it nearly thirty years earlier.
Fitzwilliam was a man of very inferior calibre to Perrot. Avaricious by
nature he had been highly dissatisfied with the poor rewards which his
former services had obtained. Upon making some remonstrance to that
effect he had been told that the "position of an Irish Lord-deputy was
an honourable one and should challenge no reward." Upon this hint he
seems now to have acted. Since the Lord-deputy was not to be better
rewarded, the Lord-deputy, he apparently concluded, had better help
himself. The Spanish Armada had been destroyed a few years back, and
ships belonging to it had been strewed in dismal wreck all along the
North, South, and West coasts of Ireland. It was believed that much gold
had been hidden away by the wretched survivors, and fired with the hope
of laying his own hands upon this treasure, Sir William first issued a
permission for searching, and then started himself upon the search. He
marched into Ulster in the dead of winter, at considerable cost to the
State, and with absolutely no result. Either, as was most likely, there
was no treasure, or the treasure had been well hidden. Furious at this
disappointment he arrested two upon his own showing of the most loyal
and law-abiding landowners in Ulster, Sir Owen McToole and Sir John
O'Dogherty; dragged them back to Dublin with him, flung them into the
castle, and demanded a large sum for their liberation.

This was a high-handed proceeding in all conscience, but there was worse
to come; it seemed as if the new deputy had laid himself out for the
task of inflaming Ulster to the highest possible pitch of exasperation,
and so of once more awakening the scarce extinguished flames of civil
war. McMahon, the chief of Monaghan, had surrendered his lands, held
previously by tanistry, and had received a new grant of them under the
broad seal of England, to himself and his heirs male, and failing such
heirs to his brother Hugh. At his death Hugh went to Dublin and
requested to be put into possession of his inheritance. This Fitzwilliam
agreed to, and returned with him to Monaghan, apparently for the
purpose. Hardly had he arrived there, however, before he trumped up an
accusation to the effect that Hugh McMahon had collected rents two years
previously by force--the only method, it may be said in passing, by
which in those unsettled parts of the country rents ever were collected
at all. It was not an offence by law being committed outside the shire,
and he was therefore tried for it by court-martial. He was brought
before a jury of private soldiers, condemned, and executed in two days.
His estate was thereupon broken up, the greater part of it being divided
between Sir Henry Bagnall, three or four English officers, and some
Dublin lawyers, the Crown reserving for itself a quit rent. Little
wonder if the other Ulster landowners felt that their turn would come
next, and that no loyalty could assure a man's safety so long as he had
anything to lose that was worth the taking.

At this time the natural leader of the province was not Tyrlough
Luinagh, who though called the O'Neill was an old man and failing fast.
The real leader was Hugh O'Neill, son of Matthew the first Baron of
Dungannon, who had been killed, it will be remembered, by Shane O'Neill,
by whose connivance Hugh's elder brother had also, it was believed, been
made away with. Hugh had been educated in England, had been much at
Court, and had found favour with Elizabeth, who had confirmed him in the
title of Earl of Tyrone which had been originally granted to his

Tyrone was the very antipodes of Shane, the last great O'Neill leader.
He was much more, in fact, of an English politician and courtier than an
Irish chieftain. He had served in the English army; had fought with
credit under Grey in Munster, and was intimately acquainted with all the
leading Englishmen of the day. Even his religion, unlike that of most
Irish Catholics of the day, seems to have sat but lightly upon him.
Captain Lee, an English officer, quartered in Ulster, in a very
interesting letter to the queen written about this time, assures her
confidentially that, although a Roman Catholic, he "is less dangerously
or hurtfully so than some of the greatest in the English Pale," for that
when he accompanied the Lord-deputy to church "he will stay and hear a
sermon;" whereas they "when they have reached the church door depart as
if they were wild cats." He adds, as a further recommendation, that by
way of domestic chaplain he has at present but "one little cub of an
English priest." Lord Essex in still plainer terms told Tyrone himself
when he was posing as the champion of Catholicism: "Dost _thou_ talk of
a free exercise of religion! Why thou carest as little for religion as
my horse."

Such a man was little likely to rush blindly into a rebellion in which
he had much to lose and little to gain. He knew, as few Irishmen knew,
the strength of England. He knew something also of Spain, and of what
had come of trusting for help in that direction. Hitherto, therefore,
his influence had been steadily thrown upon the side of order. He had
more than once assisted the deputy to put down risings in the north,
and, on the whole, had borne his part loyally as a dutiful subject of
the queen.

Now, however, he had come to a point where the ways branched. He had to
choose his future course, and there were many causes pushing him all but
irresistibly into an attitude of rebellion. One of these was the
arbitrary arrest of his brother-in-law Hugh O'Donnell, called Red Hugh,
who had been induced to come on board a Government vessel by means of a
friendly invitation, and had been then and there seized, flung under
hatches, and carried off as a hostage to Dublin Castle, from which,
after years of imprisonment, he had managed to escape by stealth in the
dead of winter, and arrived half dead of cold and exposure in his own
country, where his treatment had aroused the bitterest and most
implacable hostility in the breast of all the clan. A more directly
personal affair, and the one that probably more than any other single
cause pushed Tyrone over the frontiers of rebellion, was the following.
Upon the death of his wife he had fallen in love with Bagnall, the
Lord-Marshall's, sister, and had asked for her hand. This Bagnall, for
some reason, refused, whereupon Tyrone, having already won the lady's
heart, carried her off, and they were married, an act which the marshall
never forgave.

From that moment he became his implacable enemy, made use of his
position to ply the queen and Council with accusations against his
brother-in-law, and when Tyrone replied to those charges the answers
were intercepted. It took some time to undermine Elizabeth's confidence
in the earl, having previously had many proofs of his loyalty. It took
some time, too, to induce Tyrone himself to go in the direction in which
every event seemed now to be pushing him. Once, however, his mind was
made up and his retreat cut off, he set to work at his preparations upon
a scale which soon showed the Government that they had this time no
fiery half-savage Shane, no incapable vacillating Desmond to deal with.

An alliance with the O'Donnells and the other chiefs of the north was
his first step. He was by no means to be contented however with a merely
provincial rising. He despatched messages to Connaught, and enlisted the
Burkes in the affair; also the O'Connor of Sligo, the McDermot and other
western chiefs. In Wicklow the O'Byrnes, always ready for a fray, agreed
to join the revolt, with all that was left of the tribes of Leix and
Offaly. These, with the Kavanaghs and others, united to form a solemn
union, binding themselves to stand or fall together. To Spain Tyrone
sent letters urging the necessity of an immediate despatch of troops.
With the Pope he also put himself into communication, and the rising was
openly and avowedly declared to be a Catholic one. Just at this juncture
old Tyrlough Luinagh died, and Tyrone forthwith assumed the
soul-stirring name of "The O'Neill" for himself. Let the Spanish allies
only arrive in time and the rule of England it was confidently declared
would shortly in Ireland be a thing of the past.




The northern river Blackwater--there are at least three Blackwaters in
Ireland--forms the southern boundary of the county Tyrone, which takes a
succession of deep loops or elbows in order to follow its windings. At
the end of the sixteenth century and for centuries previously it had
marked the boundary of the territory of the chiefs or princes of Tyrone,
and here, therefore, it was that the struggle between the earl and the
queen's troops advancing from Dublin was necessarily fought out.

A good deal of desultory fighting took place at first, without any
marked result upon either side. Tyrone got possession of the English
fort which commanded the passage of the river, but it was in turn
snatched from him by the lately arrived deputy, Lord Borough, who,
however, was so severely wounded in the affray that he had to fall back
upon Newry, where he not long afterwards died. Ireland was thus for the
moment without a governor, and when after a temporary armistice, which
Tyrone spun out as long as possible in hopes of his Spanish allies
appearing, hostilities recommenced, the command devolved upon his
brother-in-law and chief enemy, Sir Henry Bagnall.

Bagnall had between four and five thousand men under him, Tyrone having
about the same number, or a little less. A few years previously a very
small body of English troops had been able, as we have seen, to put to
flight fully three times their own number of Irish. In the last dozen
years circumstances however had in this respect very materially changed.
The Desmond followers had been for the most part armed only with skeans
and spears, much as their ancestors had been under Brian Boru. One
English soldier armed with a gun could put to flight a dozen such
assailants as easily as a sportsman a dozen wolves. Tyrone's men, on the
other hand, were almost as well armed as their antagonists. Some of
these arms had come from Spain, others had been purchased at high prices
from the English soldiery, others again from dealers in Dublin and
elsewhere. Man to man, and with equal arms, the Ulster men were fully
equal to their assailants, as they were now about to prove.

In August, 1598, Bagnall advancing from the south found Tyrone engaged
in a renewed attack upon the fort of Blackwater, which he had invested,
and was endeavouring to reduce by famine. At the advance of Bagnall he
withdrew however to a strong position a few miles from the fort, and
there awaited attack.

The battle was not long delayed. The bitter personal hatred which
animated the two leaders seems to have communicated itself to the men,
and the struggle was unprecedentedly fierce and bloody. In the thick of
the engagement Bagnall, lifting his beaver for a moment to get air, was
shot through the forehead and fell. His fall was followed by the
complete rout of his army. Fifteen hundred soldiers and thirteen
officers were killed, thirty-four flags taken, and all the artillery,
ammunition, and provisions fell into the victor's hands. The fort
immediately surrendered, and the remains of the royal army fled in
confusion to Armagh, which shortly abandoning, they again fled south,
not attempting to reform until they took refuge at last in Dundalk.

Such an event as this could have but one result. All the waverers were
decided, and all determined to throw in their lot with the victor. The
talisman of success is of more vital importance to an Irish army than
probably to any other, not because the courage of its soldiers is less,
but because their imagination is greater, and more easily worked upon. A
soldier is probably better without too much imagination. If the auguries
are unfavourable he instinctively augments, and exaggerates them
tenfold. Now, however, all the auguries were favourable. Hope stood
high. The Catholic cause had never before showed so favourably. From
Malin Head to Cape Clear all Ireland was in a wild buzz of excitement,
and every fighting kern and galloglass clutched his pike with a sense of
coming triumph.



Elizabeth was now nearly seventy years of age, and this was her third
war in Ireland. Nevertheless, she and her Council girded themselves
resolutely to the struggle. There could at least be no half-hearted
measure now; no petty pleas of economy; no penurious doling out of men
and money. No one, not even the queen herself, could reasonably question
the gravity of the crisis.

The next person to appear upon the scene is Robert Devereux, Earl of
Essex, whose brilliant mercurial figure flashes for a moment across the
wild and troubled stage of Ireland, only the next to vanish like some
Will-o'-the-wisp into an abyss of darkness and disaster.

At that moment his fame as a soldier stood as high if not higher than
that of any of his cotemporaries. If Raleigh or Sidney had more military
genius, if his old rival, Sir Henry Norris, was a more capable general,
the young earl had eclipsed all others in mere dash and brilliancy, and
within the last few years had dazzled the eyes of the whole nation by
the success of his famous feat in Spain, "The most brilliant exploit,"
says Lord Macaulay, "achieved by English arms upon the Continent,
between Agincourt and Blenheim."

(_From the "Pacata Hibernia," of Sir G. Carew_.)]

Essex was now summoned to the queen and given the supreme command in
Ireland, with orders to proceed at once to the reduction of Tyrone. An
army of 20,000 infantry and 1,300 horse were placed under him, and the
title of Lord-Lieutenant conferred, which had not been granted to any
one under royal blood for centuries. He started with a brilliant train,
including a number of well-born volunteers, who gladly offered their
services to the popular favourite, and landed in Dublin early in the
month of April, 1599.

His disasters seem to have dated from the very moment of his setting
foot on Irish soil. Contrary to orders, he had appointed his relative,
the Earl of Southampton, to the command of the horse, an appointment
which even after peremptory orders from the queen he declined to cancel.
He went south when he was eagerly expected to go north. Spent a whole
fortnight in taking the single castle of Cahir; lingered about the
Limerick woods in pursuit of a nephew of the late Desmond, derisively
known as the "Sugane Earl," or "Earl of Straw," who in the absence of
the young heir had collected the remnants of the Desmond followers about
him, and was in league with Tyrone. A few weeks later a party of English
soldiers were surprised by the O'Byrnes in Wicklow, and fled shamefully;
while almost at the same moment--by a misfortune which was certainly no
fault of Essex's, but which went to swell the list of his disasters--Sir
Conyers Clifford, the gallant governor of Connaught, was defeated by the
O'Donnells in a skirmish among the Curlew mountains, and both he and Sir
Alexander Ratcliffe, the second in command, left dead upon the field.

Essex's very virtues and better qualities, in fact, were all against him
in this fatal service. His natural chivalrousness, his keen perception
of injustice, a certain elevation of mind which debarred him from taking
the stereotyped English official view of the intricate Irish problem; an
independence of vulgar motives which made him prone to see two sides of
a question--even where his own interests required that he should see but
one--all these were against him; all tended to make him seem vacillating
and ineffective; all helped to bring about that failure which has made
his six months of command in Ireland the opprobrium ever since of

Even when, after more than one furiously reproachful letter from the
queen, and after his army had been recruited by an additional force of
two thousand men, he at last started for the north, nothing of any
importance happened. He and Tyrone held an amicable and unwitnessed
conference at a ford of the little river Lagan, at which the enemies of
the viceroy did not scruple afterwards to assert that treason had been
concocted. What, at any rate, is certain is that Essex agreed to an
armistice, which, with so overwhelming a force at his own disposal,
naturally awakened no little anger and astonishment. Tyrone's personal
courtesy evidently produced a strong effect upon the other earl. They
were old acquaintances, and Tyrone was no doubt able to place his case
in strong relief. Essex, too, had that generosity of mind which made him
inconveniently open to expostulation, and he knew probably well enough
that the wrongs of which Tyrone complained were far from imaginary ones.

Another and a yet more furious letter from the queen startled him for
his own safety. Availing himself of a permission he had brought with him
to return should occasion seem to require it, he left the command in the
hands of subordinates, flew to Dublin, and embarked immediately for
England. What befel him upon his arrival is familiar to every school
child, and the relation of it must not be allowed to divert us from
following the further course of events in Ireland.

[Illustration: CINERARY URN. (_From a Tumulus near Dublin_.)]



A very different man from the chivalrous and quixotic Essex now took the
reins. Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, had expected to be sent to Ireland
when Essex had suddenly been appointed with ampler powers and a more
extended consequence, and the disappointment had caused him to follow
the course of that ill-starred favourite with ill-concealed jealousy to
its tragic end.

Mountjoy was himself a man of cold, clear-sighted, self-seeking
temperament. In almost all English histories dealing with this period
his steadiness and solid unshowy qualities are contrasted with Essex's
flightiness and failure, to the natural disadvantage of the latter.
This, however, is not perhaps quite the last word upon the matter, and
it is only fair to Essex that this should be realized.

"Pacata Hibernia," of Sir G. Carew_.) 1. Ormond and his followers; 2.
Rebel horse and foot; 3. Rebels concealed in woods; 4. Bogs.]

No master hand has as yet made this special portion of Irish history his
own. When he does so--if the keen edge of his perceptions, that is to
say, has not been dimmed by too strong an earlier prepossession--we
shall perhaps learn that the admitted failure of Essex, so disastrous to
himself, was more honourable than the admitted and the well-rewarded
success of Mountjoy. The situation, as every English leader soon found,
was one that admitted of no possible fellowship between two
alternatives, success and pity; between the commonest and most
elementary dictates of humanity, and the approval of the queen and her
Council. There was but one method by which a success could be assured,
and this was the method which Mountjoy now pushed relentlessly, and from
which Essex's more sensitively attuned nature evidently shrank. The
enemies it was necessary to annihilate were not so much Tyrone's
soldiers, as the poor, the feeble, the helpless, the old, the women, and
the little children. Famine--oddly called by Edward III. the "gentlest
of war's hand-maids"--was here the only certain, perhaps the only
possible agent. By it, and by it alone, the germs of insurrection could
be stamped out and blighted as it were at their very birth.

There was no further shrinking either from its application. Mountjoy
established military stations at different points in the north, and
proceeded to demolish everything that lay between them. With a
deliberation which left little to be desired he made his soldiers
destroy every living speck of green that was to be seen, burn every
roof, and slaughter every beast which could not be conveniently driven
into camp. With the aid of Sir George Carew, who enthusiastically
endorsed his policy, and has left us a minute account of their
proceedings, they swept the country before them. The English columns
moved steadily from point to point, establishing themselves wherever
they went, in strongly fortified outposts, from which points flying
detachments were sent to ravage all the intermediate districts. The
ground was burnt to the very sod; all harvest utterly cleared away;
starvation in its most grisly forms again began to stalk the land; the
people perished by tens of thousands, and the tales told by
eye-witnesses of what they themselves had seen at this time are too
sickening to be allowed needlessly to blacken these pages.

As a policy nothing, however, could be more brilliantly successful. At
the arrival of Mountjoy the English power in Ireland was at about the
lowest ebb it ever reached under the Tudors. Ormond, the
Lieutenant-General of the kingdom, had recently been taken captive by
the O'Mores in Leinster, by whom he was held for an enormous ransom.
Success, with all its glittering train, seemed to have gone bodily over
to Tyrone. There was hardly a town in the whole island that remained in
the hands of the Deputy. Before Mountjoy left all this was simply
reversed. Not only had the royal power regained everything that had been
snatched from it, but from sea to sea it stood upon a far firmer and
stronger basis than it had ever done before.

Gradually, as the area over which the power of the Deputy and his able
assistant grew wider and wider, that of the Tyrone fell away and faded.
"The consequence of an Irish chieftain above all others," observes
Leland most weightily, "depended upon opinion." A true success, that is
to say, of which the gleaming plumes and trophies were not immediately
visible, would have been far more disastrous than a real failure which
could have been gilded over with a little delusive gleam of triumph.
There was no gleams, real or imaginary, now. Tyrone was fast coming to
the end of his resources. Surrender or starvation were staring him with
ugly insistence in the face.

The war, in fact, was on the point of dying out from sheer exhaustion,
when a new element came to infuse momentary courage into the breasts of
the insurgents. Fifty Spanish ships, with Don Juan d'Aguilar and three
thousand soldiers on board, sailed into Kinsale harbour, where they
proceeded to disembark and to occupy the town.

The instant the news of this landing reached Mountjoy, he, with
characteristic vigour, hurried south with every soldier he could
collect, so as to cut off the new arrivals before their allies had time
to appear. Not a moment was lost. The Spaniards had landed on the 20th
of September, 1601, and by the 23rd the first English soldiers appeared
before the town, and before the end of the month Mountjoy and Carew had
concentrated every man they had in Ireland around Kinsale.

Tyrone and O'Donnell also hurried south, but their progress was slower,
and when they arrived they found their allies closely besieged on all
sides. Taking advantage of a frost, which had made the bogs passable,
O'Donnell stole round the English forces and joined another party of
Spaniards who had just effected a landing at Castlehaven. All Kerry was
now up in arms, under two local chiefs, O'Sullivan Beare and O'Driscoll.
The struggle had resolved itself into the question which side could hold
out longest. The English had the command of the sea, but were the
Spanish fleet to return their position would become to the last degree
perilous. The game for Tyrone to play was clearly a waiting one. The
Spaniards in Kinsale were weary however of their position, and urged him
to try and surprise the English camp. Reluctantly, and against his own
judgment, he consented. The surprise failed utterly. Information of it
had already reached Carew. The English were under arms, and after a
short struggle Tyrone's men gave way. Twelve hundred were killed, and
the rest fled in disorder. The Spaniards thereupon surrendered Kinsale,
and were allowed to re-embark for Spain; many of the Irish, including
O'Donnell, accompanying them.

This was practically the end. Tyrone retreated to the north, collecting
the remnants of his army as he went. Carew went south to wreak a summary
vengeance upon O'Sullivan Beare, and the other Kerry insurgents, while
Mountjoy, following in the wake of Tyrone, hemmed him gradually further
and further north, repeating at the same time that wasting process which
had already been only too brilliantly successful.

Tyrone had wit enough to see that the game was played out. On the other
hand, Mountjoy was eager to bring the war to an end before the queen's
death, now hourly expected. Terms were accordingly come to. The earl
made his submission, and agreed to relinquish the title of O'Neill, and
to abjure for ever all alliances with foreign powers or with any of the
enemies of the Crown. In return he was to receive a full pardon for
himself and his followers, and all his titles and lands were to be
confirmed to him.

Two days after this the queen's death was announced. We are told that
Tyrone, upon hearing of it, burst into a flood of tears. As he had been
in arms against her up to a week before, it can scarcely have been a
source of very poignant anguish. Probably he felt that had he guessed
the imminence of the event he might have made better terms.

[Illustration: TARA BROOCH.]



This was the last serious attempt on the part of any individual Irish
chieftain to rise against the power of England. The next rebellion of
which we shall hear arose from perfectly different causes, and was
general rather than individual, grew indeed before its conclusion to the
larger and more imposing dimensions of a civil war.

In one respect this six years' struggle was less productive of results
than either of the two previous ones. At the end of it, Tyrone was still
Tyrone; still the first of Irish subjects; his earldom and his ancestral
possessions were still his. Nay, on crossing a few months later to
England, and presenting himself to the English Court, he was graciously
received by the new king, and seemed at first to stand in all respects
as if no rebellion had been planned by him, or so nearly carried to a
successful issue.

This state of things was a source, as may readily be conceived, of
boundless rage to every English officer and official who had taken part
in the late campaign. To see "that damnable rebel Tyrone" apparently in
high honour caused them to rage and gnash their teeth. "How did I
labour," cries one of them, "for that knave's destruction! I adventured
perils by sea and land; went near to starving; eat horse-flesh in
Munster, and all to quell that man, who now smileth in peace at those
who did hazard their lives to destroy him!"

Sheriffs, judges, commissioners, all the new officials who now began to
hurry to the north, shared in this sentiment, and all had their eyes set
in wrathful animosity upon Tyrone, all were bent in finding him out in
some new treason. That after all that had happened he should end his
days in peace and honour was not inconceivable merely, but revolting. He
himself complained about this time that he could not "drink a full
carouse of sack but the State in a few hours was advertised thereof." It
was, in fact, an impossible situation. Tyrone was now sixty-two, and
would have been willing enough therefore, in all probability, to rest
and be thankful. It was impossible, he found, for him to do so. He was
harassed by spies, plunged into litigation with regard to his seignorial
rights, and whatever case was tried the lawyers invariably found for his
antagonists. Rory O'Donnell, a brother of Red Hugh, who had been created
Earl of Tyrconnel by James, was in a like case. Both were regarded with
detestation by every official in Ireland; both had not long before had a
price set on their heads; both, it was resolved by all in authority,
would, sooner or later, therefore, begin to rebel again.

Whether they did so or not has never been satisfactorily decided. The
evidence on the whole goes to prove that they did not. The air, however,
was thick just then with plots, and in 1607, a mysterious and anonymous
document, of which Lord Howth was reported to be the author, was found
in the Dublin Council Chamber, which hinted darkly at conspiracies and
perils of various kinds to the State, in which conspiracies Tyrone, it
was equally darkly hinted, was in some manner or other involved.

It was rather a poor plot, still it served its turn. Tyrone received
warning from his friends abroad that he was about to be arrested, and so
serious was the peril deemed that a vessel was specially sent by them to
bring him away in safety. He at once communicated with Tyrconnel, and
after a short consultation the two Earls with their families resolved to
take advantage of the opportunity and depart at once. This at the time,
and indeed generally, has been construed into a proof of their guilt. It
may have been so, but, on the other hand, it may just as well not have
been. Had their innocence been purer than alabaster or whiter than the
driven snow they were probably well advised under existing circumstances
in not remaining to take their trial.

Right or wrong, with good reason or without good reason, they went, and
after various wanderings reached Rome, where they were received with no
little honour. Neither, however, long survived their exile. Tyrconnel
died the following year, and Tyrone some eight years later, a sad,
blind, broken-hearted man.

Nothing could have been more convenient for the Government than this
departure. Under the circumstances, it meant, of course, a forfeiture of
all their estates. Had the extent of territory which personally belonged
to the two exiles alone been confiscated, the proceeding, no doubt,
would have been perfectly legitimate. Whatever had led to it, the fact
of their flight and consequent renouncement of allegiance was
undeniable, and the loss of their estates followed almost as a matter of
course. A far more sweeping measure than this, however, was resolved
upon. The lawyers, under the direction of the Dublin Government, so
contrived matters as to make the area forfeited by the two earls cover
no less a space than six entire counties, all of which were escheated to
the Crown, regardless of the rights of a vast number of smaller tenants
and sub-proprietors against whom no plea of rebellion, recently at all
events could be urged; a piece of injustice destined, as will be seen,
to bear tragic fruit a generation later.

The plan upon which this new plantation was carried out was projected
with the utmost care by the lawyers, the Irish Government, and the king
himself. The former plantations in Munster were an acknowledged failure,
the reason assigned being the huge size of the grants made to the
undertakers. Many of these resided in England, and merely drew their
rents, allowing Irish tenants to occupy the land. This mistake was now
to be avoided. Only tracts that could be managed by a resident owner
were to be granted, and from these the natives were to be entirely
drawn. "As well," it was gravely stated, "for their greater security, as
to preserve the purity of the English language."

The better to ensure this important result marriages were strictly
forbidden between the native Irish and the settlers, and in order to
avoid that ever-formidable danger the former were ordered to remove
themselves and their belongings bodily into certain reserved lands set
apart for them.

The person who took the most prominent part in this undertaking was the
well-known Sir John Davis, a distinguished lawyer and writer, who has
himself left us a minute account of his own and his colleagues'
proceedings. That those proceedings should have aroused some slight
excitement and dismay amongst the dispossessed owners was not, perhaps,
astonishing, even to those engaged in it. In some instances, the
proprietors even went the length of bringing lawyers from Dublin, to
prove that their estates could not legally be forfeited through the
attainder of the earls, and to plead, moreover, the king's recent
proclamation which undertook to secure to the inhabitants their
possessions. In reply to this, Sir John Davis and the other
commissioners issued another proclamation. "We published," he says, "by
proclamation in each county, what lands were to be granted to British
undertakers, what to servitors, and what to natives, to the end that the
natives should remove from the precincts allotted to the Britons,
whereupon a clear plantation is to be made of English and Scottish
without Irish." With regard to the rights of the king he is still more
emphatic. "Not only," he says, "his Majesty may take this course
lawfully, but he is bound in conscience to do so."

These arguments, and probably still more the evident uselessness of any
resistance, seem to have had their effect. The discomfited owners
submitted sullenly, and withdrew to the tracts allotted to them. In Sir
John Davis' own neat and incisive words, "The natives seemed not
unsatisfied in reason, though they remained in their passions
discontented, being grieved to leave their possessions to strangers,
which they had so long after their manner enjoyed."




In 1613, it was resolved by the Government to summon an Irish
Parliament, for the purpose of giving legality to their recent
proceedings in Ulster, and also to pass an Act of formal attainder upon
the two exiled earls.

The great difficulty felt by the executive was how to secure an adequate
Protestant majority. Even after the recent large introduction of
Protestants the great mass of the freeholders, and nearly all the
burgesses in the towns were still Roman Catholics. In the Upper House,
indeed, the nineteen Protestant bishops and five temporal lords who were
Protestant, made matters safe. The House of Commons, therefore, was the
rub. Carew and Sir John Davis set their wits energetically to this
problem. The new towns, or rather agricultural forts, in Ulster were all
converted into Corporations, and each given the power of returning two
members. The Pale and the Leinster towns, though loyal, were nearly all
Catholic. In the west, except at Athlone, there was "no hope," the
president reported, "of any Protestants." From some of the other
garrison towns better things were hoped for, still there was not a
little alarm on the part of the Government that the numbers might still
come short.

On the other side the Catholics were equally alive to the situation, and
equally keen to secure a triumph. A belief prevailed, too, all over
Ireland, that the object of summoning this Parliament was to carry out
some sweeping act of confiscation, and this naturally added to the
excitement. For the first time in Irish history a genuinely contested
election took place. Both parties strained every nerve, both felt their
future interests to depend upon the struggle. When at last all the
members were collected it was found that the Government had a majority,
though a narrow one, of twenty-four. Barely, however, had Parliament
assembled, before a violent quarrel broke out over the election of a
speaker; the Catholic party denouncing the irregularity by means of
which many of the elections had been carried, and refusing therefore to
consider themselves bound by the decision of the majority. Sir John
Davis had been elected speaker by the supporters of the Government, but,
during the absence of the latter in the division lobby, the recusants
placed their own man, Sir John Everard, in the chair, and upon the
return of the others a hot scuffle ensued between the supporters of the
two Sir Johns, each side vehemently supporting the claims of its own
candidate. In the end, "Mr. Treasurer and Mr. Marshall, two gentlemen of
the best quality," according to a "Protestant declaration" sent to
England of the whole occurrence, "took Sir John Davis by the arms, and
lifting him from the ground, placed him in the chair upon Sir John
Everard's lap, requiring the latter to come forth of the chair; which,
he obstinately refusing, Mr. Treasurer, the Master of the Ordinance, and
others, whose places were next the chair, laid their hands gently upon
him, and removed him out of the chair, and placed Sir John
Davis therein."

The gravity with which we are assured of the gentleness of these
proceedings is delightful. The recusants, with Sir John Everard at their
head, departed we are further told "in most contentious manner" out of
the House. Being asked why they did not return, they replied that "Those
within the House are no House, and the Speaker is no Speaker; but we are
the House, and Sir John Everard is our Speaker[9]."

[9] Lodges, "Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica," pp. 410-411.

Not being able to be otherwise settled, the quarrel was at last referred
to the king, and representatives of both sides went to England to plead
their cause. In the end twelve of the new elections were found to have
been so illegally carried that they had perforce to be cancelled, but
Sir John Davis was at the same time confirmed in the Speakership.

After this delay the House at last got to work. A formal Act of
attainder was passed upon Tyrone, Tyrconnel, and some of the other
Ulster landowners. Every portion of Ireland was next made into
shireland, and the last remnants of the Brehon law abolished. Upon the
other hand, the statutes of Kilkenny was at length and finally repealed.
Henceforth English and Irish were alike to be admitted to plead their
own cause in the courts of law.



The zeal for Irish colonization had by no means subsided after the
Ulster settlement had been established; on the contrary, it was the
favourite panacea of the hour, especially in the eyes of the king
himself. After one such resounding success, why, it was asked, not
extend so evident a blessing to the rest of Ireland? "A commission to
inquire into defective titles" was set on foot, whose duty it was to
collect evidence as to the condition of estates, and to inquire into the
titles of owners. The pipe rolls in Dublin and the patents, kept in the
Tower of London were alike eagerly ransacked, and title flaws found to
be discoverable with the most delightful facility. There was a strong
feeling too about this time in England that something good was to be
made of Ireland. When tens of thousands of acres were to be had almost
for the asking, who could be so slow or so mean-spirited as to hang back
from doing so.

Something like a regular stampede of men ambitious to call themselves
undertakers, began to cross over from the larger to the smaller island.
Nor was the Government anxious to check this spirited impulse. In
Wexford alone over 60,000 acres had been discovered by the lawyers to
belong to the king, and of these a large portion were now settled with
English undertakers. In Longford, Leitrim, Wicklow, and many other parts
of Leinster, it was the same. Even where the older proprietors were not
dispossessed heavy fines were levied in return for fresh grants. No
proof of recent surrender or former agreement was allowed to count, and
so ingeniously was the whole scheme carried out, and so inextricable was
the jungle of legal technicalities in which it was involved, that what
in reality was often sheer confiscations sounded like the most equitable
of judicial arrangements.

The case of the Connaught landowners is particularly characteristic, and
as space dwindles rapidly, may serve as an example of the rest. Nearly
all the Connaught gentry, native and Norman alike, had surrendered their
estates either to Elizabeth or to her father, and had received them back
again upon new terms. Legal transfer, however, was so little understood,
and the times were so rough and wild, that few had received patents, and
title-deeds were all but unknown. In James I.'s reign this omission was
rectified and patents duly made out, for which the landowners paid a sum
little short of L30,000, equal to nearly L300,000 at the present day.
These new patents, however, by an oversight of the clerks in Chancery,
were neglected to be enrolled, and upon this plea fresh ones were called
for, and fresh fees had to be paid by the landowners. Further it was
announced that owing to the omission--one over which the owners, it is
clear, had no control--all the titles had become defective, and all the
lands had lapsed to the Crown. The other three provinces having by this
time received plantations, the Connaught landowners were naturally not
slow to perceive the use that might be made of so awkward a technical
flaw. To appeal against the manifest injustice of the decision was of
little avail, but a good round sum of money into the king's own hands
was known to rarely come amiss. They agreed accordingly to offer him the
same sum that would have fallen to his share had the plantations been
carried out This was accepted and another L10,000 paid, and the evil day
thus for a while, but only, as will be seen, for a while averted.

Charles's accession awakened a good many hopes in Ireland, the Catholic
party especially flattering themselves that a king who was himself
married to one of their faith would be likely to show some favour to his
Catholic subjects. In this they found their mistake, and an attempt to
open a Catholic college in Dublin was speedily put down by force. In
other directions a certain amount of leniency was, however, extended to
recusants, and Lord Falkland, who a few years before had succeeded Sir
Oliver St. John as deputy, was a man of conspicuous moderation and
tolerance. In 1629, however, he resigned, worn out like so many others
before and after him by the difficulties with which he had to contend,
and not long afterwards a man of very different temperament and widely
different theories of government came to assume the reins.



In 1632, Wentworth--better known as Strafford--arrived in Ireland,
prepared to carry out his motto of "Thorough." Only three years before,
he had been one of the foremost orators in the struggle for the Petition
of Right. The dagger of Fenton had turned him from an impassioned
patriot and constitutionalist into a vehement upholder of absolutism.
His revolt had been little more than a mask for his hostility to the
hated favourite Buckingham, and when Buckingham's murder cleared the
path to his ambition, Wentworth passed, apparently without a struggle,
from the zealous champion of liberty to the yet more zealous champion of
despotic rule.


He arrived in Ireland as to a conquered country, and proceeded promptly
to act upon that understanding. His chief aim was to show that a
parliament, properly managed, could be made not a menace, but a tool in
the hand of the king. With this end he summoned an Irish one immediately
upon his arrival, and so managed the elections that Protestants and
Catholics should nearly equally balance one another. Upon its
assembling, he ordered peremptorily that a subsidy of L100,000, to cover
the debts to the Crown, should be voted. There would, he announced, be a
second session, during which certain long-deferred "graces" and other
demands would be considered. The sum was obediently voted, but the
second session never came. The parliament was abruptly dissolved by the
deputy, and did not meet again for nearly four years.

The Connaught landlords were the next whom he took in hand. We have seen
in the last chapter that they had recently paid a large sum to the
Crown, in order to ward off the dangers of a plantation. This did not
satisfy Wentworth. Their titles were again called into question. He
swept down in person into the province, with the commissioners of
plantations at his heels; discovered, to his own complete satisfaction,
that _all_ the titles of all the five western counties were defective,
and that, as a natural consequence, all lapsed to the Crown. The juries
of Mayo, Sligo, and Roscommon were overawed into submission, but the
Galway jury were obstinate, and refused to dispossess the proprietors.
Wentworth thereupon took them back with him to Dublin, summoned them
before the Court of the Castle Chamber, where they were sentenced to pay
a fine of L4,000 each, and the sheriff L1000, and to remain in prison
until they had done so. The unfortunate sheriff died in prison. Lord
Clanricarde, the principal Galway landlord, died also shortly
afterwards, of anxiety and mortification. The others submitted, and were
let off by the triumphant deputy with the surrender, in some cases, of
large portions of their estates, in others of heavy fines.

By these means, and others too long to enter into here, he contrived to
raise the annual Irish revenue to a surplus of L60,000, with part of
which he proceeded to set on foot and equip an army for the king of
10,000 foot and 1,000 horse, ready to be marched at a moment's notice.
This part of the programme was intended as a menace less against Ireland
than England. Charles was to be absolute in both islands, and, to be so,
his Irish subjects were to help him to coerce his English ones.

Let us, however, be just. Strafford was a born tyrant--worse, he was the
champion of an absolutism of the most odious type conceivable, one
which, if successful, would have been a death-blow to English liberty.
But he was also a born ruler. No petty tyrants flourished under his
sway. His hand was like iron upon the plunderers, the pluralists, the
fraudulent officials, gorged with their ill-gotten booty. What he did,
too, he did well. If he struck, he could also protect. He ruthlessly
suppressed the infant woollen trade, believing that it might in time
come to be a rival to the English one, but he was the founder of the
linen trade, and imported Flemish weavers to teach it, and the best
flax-seed to sow in the fields. He cleared the sea of the pirates who
swarmed along the coasts, and had recently burnt the houses and carried
off the inhabitants of several villages. The king's authority once
secured he was anxious to secure to the mass of the people, Catholic as
well as Protestant, a just and impartial administration of the law. No
one in Ireland, he was resolved, should tyrannize except himself.


He and Laud, the primate, were close allies, and both were bent upon
bringing the Church of Ireland to an absolute uniformity with that of
England, and, with this object, Wentworth set a Court of High Commission
to work to root out the Presbyterian ministers and to suppress, as far
as possible, dissent. The Irish bishops and episcopalian clergy were,
with hardly an exception, Low Churchmen, with a leaning to Calvinism,
and, upon these also his hand was heavy. His regard for the Church by no
means stood in his way either in his dealings with individual churchmen.
He treated the Primate Ussher--one of the most venerated names in all
Irish history--with marked contempt; he rated the Bishop of Killaloe
upon one occasion like a dog, and told him that "he deserved to have his
rochet pulled over his ears;" boasting afterwards, to his correspondent,
of how effectually he had "warmed his old sides."

In another letter to Laud, we get a graphic and rather entertaining
account of his dealings with Convocation. The Lower House, it seems, had
appointed a select committee, which had drawn up a book of canons upon
the lines of what were known as the "Nine Articles of Lambeth."
Wentworth was furious. "Instantly," he says, "I sent for Dean Andrews,
that reverend clerk, who sat, forsooth, in the chair at this committee,
and required him to bring along the aforesaid book of canons; this he
obeyed, ... but when I came to open the book, I confess I was not so
much moved since I came into Ireland. I told him certainly not a Dean of
Limerick, but an Ananias had sat in the chair at that committee, and
sure I was that Ananias had been there in spirit if not in body[10]."

[10] Earl of Stratford's "Letters and Despatches," vol. i. p. 342.

The unhappy Ananias naturally submitted at once to the terrible deputy,
and, although Archbishop Ussher and most of the bishops defended the
attacked canons, Wentworth carried his point by a sheer exercise of
power. Throwing the list of canons already drawn out aside, he drew up
another of his own composition, and forced the Convocation to accept it.
"There were some hot spirits, sons of thunder, amongst them," he tells
Laud boastfully, "who moved that they should petition me for a free
synod, but, in fine, they could not agree among themselves who should
put the bell about the cat's neck, and so this likewise vanished[11]."
The cat, in truth, was a terrible one to bell!

[11] Ibid.

But the career of the master of Ireland was nearing its end. By the
beginning of 1640 the Scotch were up in arms, and about to descend in
force upon England. The English Puritans, too, were assuming a hostile
attitude. Civil war was upon the point of breaking out. Charles summoned
Wentworth over in hot haste from Ireland, and it was decided between
them that the newly-organized Irish forces were to be promptly employed
against the Scotch rebels. With this purpose Wentworth--now with the
long-desired titles of Earl of Strafford and Lord-Lieutenant of
Ireland--hurried back to make the final arrangements. Fresh subsidies
were obtained from the ever-subservient Irish parliament; more recruits
were hastily summoned, and came in readily; the army was put under the
command of the young Earl of Ormond, and Stratford once more returned to
England. He did so only to find all his calculations upset. A treaty had
been made in his absence with the Scots; the Long Parliament had
assembled, and the fast-gathering storm was about to break in thunder
over his own head. He was impeached. Witness after witness poured over
from Ireland, all eager to give their evidence. Representatives even of
the much-aggrieved Connaught landlords--though their wrongs did not
perhaps count for much in the great total--were there to swell the tide.
He was tried for high treason, condemned and executed. In England the
collapse of so great and so menacing a figure was a momentous event. In
Ireland it must have seemed as the very fall of Lucifer himself!




Stafford's fall and death would alone have rendered this year, 1641, a
memorable one in Irish history. Unhappily it was destined to be made yet


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