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then I doubt not to make it appear how dutiful a mind I carry; how faithfully I have, at my own charge, served her majesty before I was proclaimed; how sorrowful I am for my offences, and how faithfully I am affected ever hereafter to serve her majesty: and so I commit your lordship to God. (Subscribed) GIRALD DESMOND.”
This letter was disregarded. We approach the termination of this tragical story. Desmond continued to hide himself in woods and bogs, shifting his quarters often, both for the purpose of concealment, and because his whole means of subsistence was derived from the suc. cess of his followers in taking preys of cattle. In the earl's better days, such exactions were not unknown, and the customs of the country clothed them with some pretence of right, when the demand was confined to the cattle of his own vassals. In the present exigencies of the earl, the same acts were felt as plunder. In the autumn of 1582, the earl had his retreat in the mountains above Gleneefy, and in the fastness of Aherlow; in the winter “he kept his christmas” in Kilquieg wood, near Kilmallock. His hiding place was discovered by the garrison at Kilmallock, and an effort made to surprise and take him was nearly successful. A wide river, swelled at that time by the the winter rains, between Kilquieg and Kilmallock, must be crossed before the earl's cabin could be reached. The party who thought to have taken him crossed the river on rafts made of hurdles. At break of day they were at the earl's cabin, but the underwood grew so close round this miserable place of shelter, and the ground at the side of the house was so miry that the military party moved at a few spears' paces from the walls; before they reached the door the earl was alarmed by the noise of their approach, and ran into the river that flowed by the cabin. He was accompanied by the countess, and the soldiers searched the place in vain. Dowdal, the captain of the garrison at Kilmallock, led the party engaged in the pursuit of Desmond.
The earl, driven from Kilquieg, returned to the Aherlow mountains. Some three score gallowglasses now joined him. Their mode of sustenance was by such plunder of cattle as we have before mentioned. “ Like a sort of deer,” says one of the old chroniclers of the period, “ they lay upon their keepings, and so fearful were they, that they would not tarry in any one place any long time; but where they did dress their meat, thence would they remove and eat it in another place, and from thence into another place to lie. In the night they would watch, in the forenoons they would be upon the hills and vallies to descry the country, and in the afternoon they would sleep.” A detachment from the garrison at Kilmallock surprised them in the night, when some were asleep, and some feeding upon a horse which they had just stolen, for they were without other food. Most of them were slain. When this party of gallowglasses was destroyed, the rest of the Irish rebels were so dismayed that all disturbances ceased in Munster.
The earl, thus hunted from the mountains of Limerick and Tipperary, repaired to Kerry, and was discovered by lord Roche's men, and Dowdal, his indefatigable pursuer, to be lurking in the woods near Dingle. Goron M‘Swiney, one of the captains of gallowglasses, who, a few years before, had made his appearance at Cork, to welcome Sidney in his viceregal progress, was with his brother, Moyle Murrough M‘Swiney, still with Desmond, and by plunders of cattle supported their little company. Goron was slain in one of those marauding expeditions by some of the country people, whose cattle he was driving away. No garrison was yet placed at Dingle, and the earl continued to take, as he best could, cattle in the neighbourhood, chiefly from such as had forsaken his cause, and placed themselves under the protection of the English.
Desmond, on one of these occasions, sent two horsemen and one of his wood-kernes to take a prey of cattle from the neighbourhood of Castlemagne, on the strand of Tralee. Among the cattle taken were those of a poor woman, of the name of Moriarty. The cattle were her only property, and she and her brother followed the track of the plunderers. At Castlemagne the constable of the castle gave them the assistance of some ammunition and a few wood-kernes. The party was in all three and twenty-one of whom, Kelly, an Irishman by birth, but who had in these wars served under the English—they made their captain. Moriarty, who was well acquainted with the country, undertook to be their guide. They followed the track of the kine till they came to the side of a mountain, and a winding path led them to the deep and wooded valley of Glanikilty. It was now night, and they thought to have rested for the night in the shelter of the wood. The glimmering of a fire among the trees at a little distance attracted their notice, and one of them cautiously approached and saw through the windows of a ruinous old house five or six persons sitting by a wood fire. The party immediately determined on ascertaining whether these were the men in pursuit of whom they came. They retired for a moment to consult how their object might best be effected. Before their return all had departed but one man of venerable appearance, who lay stretched before the fire. Kelly struck the old man with his sword, and almost cut off one of his arms; he struck at him again, and gave him a severe wound upon one side of the head. The old man cried out “ spare me, I am the earl of Desmond." The appeal was one which he knew was not under any circumstances likely to be made in vain. If no feeling of compassion for fallen greatness could be expected to stay Kelly's hand, still his avarice or ambition might be interested, for though large rewards were offered for Desmond's head, yet the great object of the government was, as all their proclamations expressed, to take him alive. The appeal was unfortunately too late. He was too severely wounded to be easily removed, and Kelly was perhaps afraid of the arrival of some of his retainers. Kelly bade him prepare himself to die, and smote off his head. It was brought to Ormonde—sent by him to the queen—and impaled on London bridge. His body was concealed by his followers ; and after several weeks interred in the little chapel of Killanamanagh, not far from Castle Island.
For many a long year after the earl's death there was a popular belief that the place where he died was still red with his blood.* The persons instrumental in his death were the object of detestation to the Irish, and in every unfortunate incident that from time to time
occurs in their families, there is a disposition to read judgments inflicted upon them by heaven for the destruction of this champion of the faith. Kelly had his reward. For some thirty years he continued to receive a pension from the government ; but the detestation of his own countrymen rendered it necessary for him to live in London, and the Abbé M‘Geogeghan, with evident delight, tells of his being at last hanged for highway robbery.
Desmond was attainted, and his vast estates vested in the crown by act of parliament. That act was obtained with difficulty. A feoffment of his lands, made by him several years before, to one of the Munster Geraldines, was produced for the purpose of defeating the forfeiture. As proof, however, was given of this Fitz-Gerald being himself implicated with the earl in treason before the date of the conveyance, the houses of parliament, in the excitement of the moment, disregarded the instrument, and no longer hesitated to pass the acts of attainder and forfeiture. One hundred and forty of Desmond's accomplices in treason were attainted at the same time, and their estates declared forfeit. The lands thus forfeited included almost the entire of four counties, and contained five hundred and seventy-four thousand six hundred and twenty-eight acres.* The opportunity was now given of trying on a large scale Elizabeth's favourite plan of English plantation—with what success is to be hereafter recorded.
In a work that does not assume the ambitious tone of history, we may venture faintly to allude to the legends connected with our subject. Among the superstitions of the south of Ireland, one of the most fanci. ful is, that earl Gerald of Desmond still lives, like the Arthur of British fable, in an enchanted cavern beneath the mountain lake that washes the ruined walls of his ancient castle of Loughgur-that every seventh year he is seen riding a snow-white charger upon the rippling surface of the waters; and that when his horse's shoes, which are of beaten silver, shall have been worn out, the melancholy enchantment which now holds him, will be at an end, and the earl return to conscious life and power.f The ceremonials of the ancient faith are to be re-established in splendour worthy of the holy island of the west, and the estates forfeited by the adherents of Desmond-a favourite and dangerous dream of the poor--are to be restored to the descendants of ancient families now trampled down into the humblest classes of the peasantry.
A. D. 1585.
We have already had occasion to notice many of the descendants of the noble and ancient house of De Burgo. At the period of history in which we are now engaged, although this race had fallen from its ancient elevation of nearly regal power, it had branched into many wealthy and distinguished families, of which the history would be an instructive volume. We are compelled, by the peculiar nature of our task, to select but a few of the most illustrious names, whose history is interwoven with that of Ireland; for this has been the general
Lodge. Leland. + Fitz-Gerald and Macgregor's Hist. of Limerick.
criterion of our political series; and thus reluctantly to set aside the claim of many who were in their own day great and powerful.
We have already stated, in our notice of the murder of William de Burgo in 1333, how two of the collateral heirs of his family took advantage of the minority of his daughter and sole heir, and seized wrongful possession of his extensive territories; confirming their de. fective title, by throwing off the jurisdiction of English law, and assuming with the law of tanistry the language and manners of the Irish. Of these, one took the title of Mac William Eighter, or Upper MacWilliam, the other MacWilliam Oughter, or Lower MacWilliam. Of these the first was the origin of the family of Clanricarde, and held the territories bordering the western part of the county of Roscommon.* The other took possession of the more western districts lying on the Galway coast.
The second of these, Edmond Bourke, had four sons; of whom the first was the ancestor of the earls, and the second of the viscounts Mayo. From the second, at the distance of five generations, descended Richard, the person of whose life we are here to notice the chief events.
The first distinct mention we find of Richard Bourke, of any considerable weight, occurs in 1552, when he was strongly recommended by the lord chancellor, Cusack, in a letter to the duke of Northumberland, as a person who, as a “president, or yet as a captain, with a competent number of men, continuing at Galway, will cause all the country to be good subjects; and he, with the earl of Clanricarde, and a captain, will be able to rule all Connaught, which is the fifth part of Ireland.”
In the year 1576, the following distinct and descriptive testimony of his character occurs in a letter from lord Sidney to the council. “I found him very sensible, though wanting in the English tongue, yet understanding the Latin, a lover of quiet and civility, desirous to hold his lands of the queen, and suppress Irish extortion, and to expulse the Scots, who swarm in those quarters, and indeed hath almost suppressed them. In some proof whereof, he tarried with me most of the time I remained at Galway, and thence went with me to Athlone, and departed not until I went from thence, where very reverently, by oath, he showed his fealty and did his homage, as humbly binding himself, as well by oath as by indenture, ever hereafter to hold his lands of her Majesty and her crown, and pay yearly 250 marks, and to find 200 soldiers, horsemen and footmen for two months, by the year, &c. ........... He received his country at my hands by way of Seneshalship, which he thankfully accepted. The order of knighthood I bestowed upon him, whereof he seemed very joyous, &c. ......... Surely my lords he is well won, for he is a great man, his land lieth along the west-north-west coast of this realm, wherein he hath many goodly havens, and is a lord in territory of three times so much land as the earl of Clanricarde is.”
In the year in which this letter was written by Sidney, the sons of the earl of Clanricarde, who had already given proofs of a rebel
* Old Map published with State Papers,
lious temper, rose in arms to besiege Ballyreagh, a castle which had been forfeited to government by their father: they commanded a tumultuary force of Irish and degenerate English, but were aided by two thousand Scots. They were repulsed by a small garrison of one hundred foot and fifty horse, under captains L'Estrange, and Collier; but, continuing in a menacing attitude, and proceeding to despoil the surrounding country, the lord-deputy felt his presence to be required for the restoration of order. He was joined by Bourke, who was the principal sufferer from the devastations thus committed. The rebels did not venture to oppose him; but scattering into parties they contrived to evade his force, and to continue to harass the surrounding country. In this state of things, a local knowledge of the district became a matter of primary importance, and the lord-deputy, dividing and directing the operations of his forces by the advice of Bourke, contrived to surprise and route several of their parties, and thus dissipated their force. By this expedition Bourke obtained great honour, and was put in possession of many of his castles, which the sons of Clanricarde had seized.*
In 1505 he made a surrender of his estates, and received them by English tenure. He died the same year. He was married to the celebrated Grace O'Maly, and by her was father to the first viscount Mayo.
Feagh MacHugh O'Byrne.
SLAIN A.D. 1597
AMONGST the multitude of lesser chiefs who, without any exception, may be said to have taken part in the tumultuous proceedings of Ireland in the 16th century, we can select but a few as entitled to distinction, in the common occupation of all—plundering and being plundered, inflicting or suffering oppression and injustice. Of these Feagh MacHugh is entitled to notice, by reason of the persevering energy which gives prominence to his character—the territorial position which rendered his motions important to the inhabitants of Dublin ‘and the surrounding lands of the English pale, but most of all for the dark interest which connects itself with the memory of one event; to which, the rest being comparatively of little interest, we shall pass as briefly as we can.
The county of Wicklow has been in modern times more peculiarly the object of interest to the inhabitants of Leinster: but while its outlines are all as familiar as the pen and pencil can make them, and all its steeps and rocky passes, lakes and wooded heights, are numbered by the curious explorer of natural beauty and magnificence; it is a curious proof of apathy to the historic associations of scene, that form and colour only seem to occupy the tourist's thought. The tourist of our kindred mountains in the Scottish Highlands, presents a singular and edifying contrast: without any pretension to be more marked
* Ware's Antiquities.