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The last days of Donogh Cairbreagh O'Brien, were chiefly occupied with conflicts with the chiefs of Connaught and their allies, the supporters of the sons of Roderick O'Connor, against their cousins, the sons of Cathal Crovderg or the Eed-handed O'Connor, and nephews of O'Brien. The death of Cairbreagh took place in 1242. He was succeeded by his son, Connor na Suidane, the founder of the monastery of Corcomroe, in which his tomb and effigy are still preserved. Cairbreagh O'Brien was only the chief of the Dalcassians, not king of Munster. He was the first that took the title of The O'Brien.
The next events of the history of the princes of Thomond, are well condensed by Professor O'Curry, from the valuable Irish tract called "The History of the Wars of Thomond." The natural feelings of the worthy professor are characteristically expressed in the following quotation:—
"The Anglo-Norman power which came into the country in the year 1172, had constantly gained ground; generation after generation, as you are of course aware, in consequence chiefly of the mutual jealousies and isolated opposition of the individual chiefs and clans among the Gaedhils. At last the two great sections of the country, the races of the north and the south, resolved to take counsel and select some brave man of either of the ancient royal houses to be elevated to the chief command of the whole nation, in order that its power and efficiency might be the more effectually concentrated and brought into action against the common enemy. To this end then, a convention was arranged to take place between Brian O'Neill, the greatest leader of the north at this time, and Tadhg, the son of Conor O'Brien, at Caelimge [Narrow Water], on Loch Erne (near the present Castle Calwell). O'Neill came attended by all the chiefs of the north and a numerous force of armed men. O'Brien, though in his father's lifetime, went thither at the head of the Munster and Connaught chiefs and a large body of men in arms. The great chiefs came face to face at either bank of the Narrow Water, but their old destiny accompanied them, and each came to the convention fully
"St. Senan, bishop and abbot of Inis-Cathay, was born in Carko-Baskind, a maritime territory in the county of Clare, and was descended by his father Ergindus, from Conair, the first king of Ireland. His mother's name was Comgella, of a Munster family also. He received his first rudiments and the monastic habit from the abbot Cassidanus, and was afterwards a disciple to Natalia, abbot of Kilmanach, in Ossory, and then to St. David, bishop of Menevia, in Wales. Returning to Ireland, he founded many monasteries in several parts of Munster, and at last fixed his seat at InissCathay. He died on the first of March, 544, the same day and year with St. David beforementioned, and was buried in his own monastery at Inis-Cathay. Colgann hath published his life in Latin verse out of the antient book of Kilkenny; to which he hath added a supplement in prose from an Irish manuscript. To these I refer such readers who are desirous of knowing more of St. Senan." So far Ware who gives the following list:—
Odran, bishop of Ans was the disciple and immediate successor of St. Senan. He flourished about the year 580.
Aidin, bishop of Inis-Cathay, as mentioned in the martyrology of Marian Gorman, and his festival observed on the 31st of August.
Another Aidin, abbot of Inis-Cathcy, died in 861.
Flathbert, abbot of Inis-Cathay, and afterwards king of Munster after Cormac Mac Culenan, died in Mo. He was the great fomentor and firebrand of that war in which Cormac lost his life.
Colla, abbot and doctor or master of Inis-Cathay, died in 994.
O-Burgns, Comorban of Inis-Cathay, died in 1081.
Aid O-Beachain, bishop of Inis-Cathay, died in 1138, and soon after his death the see of InisCathay was united to that of Limerick.
It was in the reign and by command of Cairbreach (so called because he had been fostered in Carbery), that the building of the beautiful Franciscan Abbey of Ennis was commenced. It was finished by his son and successor, Conor na Siudaine, and it is frequently referred to in the annals. A short time previously to the commencement of the work, Donogh Cairbreagh had removed his residence to Clonbroad.
determined that himself alone should be the chosen leader and king of Erinn. The convention was, as might be expected a failure; and the respective parties returned home more divided, more jealous, and less powerful than ever to advance the general interests of their country, and to crush, as united they might easily have done, that crafty, unscrupulous, and treacherous foe, which contrived then and for centuries after to rule over the clans of Erinn, by taking advantage of those dissensions among them, which the stranger always found means but too readily to foment and to perpetuate.
"This convention or meeting of O'Brien and O'Neill took place in the year 1258, according to the annals of the Four Masters; and in the year 1259, Tadhg O'Brien died. In the year after that again, that is, 1260, Brian O'Neill himself was killed in the battle of Down Patrick, by John de Courcy and his followers.
"The premature death of Tadhg O'Brien so preyed up on his father, that for a considerable time he forgot altogether the duties of his position and the general interests of his people. This state of supineness encouraged some of his subordinate chiefs to withhold from him his lawful tributes.
"Among these insubordinates was the O'Lochlainn of Burren, whose intumacy at length roused the old chief to action; and in the year 1267 he marched into O'Lochlainn's country, as far as the wood of Siubhdaineach, in the north-west of Burren. Here the chief was met by the O'Lochlainns and their adherents, and a battle ensued in which O'Brien was killed and his army routed; and hence he has been ever since known in history as Conchubhar na Suibhdaine, or Conor of Suibhdmneach."
LIMERICK UNDER THE ENGLISH. CHARTERS AND GRANTS.
The introduction of the English government into Limerick did not take place until the death of Donald O'Brien. John, Earl of Morton and Lord of Ireland showed great zeal and determination in establishing the English interest in the city. He granted a charter on the 19th of December, 1197, the 9th of Richard I.,1 by which he extended to the city, the privileges already granted to Dublin, enabling the citizens to choose a Mayor and Duumviri, or two Bailiffs, a designation by which they were named until the reign of James I., when by charter of that monarch, the citizens were allowed to choose Sheriffs in place of Bailiffs, etc.—these, with the mayor, performed the municipal government of the city. In 1198, however, the English were driven out of Limerick by McCarthy of Desmond; but soon after they may be said to have held firm possession, though their tenure was frequently disputed. We have on record as to the exact time the walls of the city were first built; but from the Patent rolls, in the early portion of king John's reign, we find that the city was at that period surrounded by walls, and that the king made several grants to his followers within and without the walls.1 In the same year he gave to Hamo de Valois, two cantreds of "Hochevele" in the Land of Limerick for the service of ten knights, (Char. Bol. 82). On the 12th of January, 1200, he granted to William of Braosa the honor of Limerick, with its appurtenances, &c. This charter was given at Lincoln, and bears the signatures, as witnesses, H, Archbishop of Canterbury; B, Bishop of St. Andrew's; B, Earl of Chester; B, Earl of Leicester; G. Fitzalen, Earl of Essex; William Briwerr, Hubart Bard, Walter de Lascy; Simon Pateshill. It states that it (the charter) was given by the hand of Symon, Archdeacon of Wells, at Lincoln, granting and confirming to Braosa the honour of Lymerick, with all its appurtenances "retaining in our demesne the city of Lymerick and the Bishopricks and Abbeys, and retaining in our hand the cantred of the Ostmen and the Holy Island, as king Henry, our father, that honour gave to Philip de Braosa, uncle of the aforesaid William" —" to have and to hold to him and his heirs of us and our heirs by the service of sixty knights, except the service of William de Burgo,1 of all his lands and tenements aforesaid honours to be held, &c, &c; and we have retained in our demesne and hand all its appurts in wood and plain, in meadow and pastures, in water and mills and fish ponds and ponds and fisheries and ponds, in ways and pathways, &c."
1 We translate from the Arthur MSS. the following. [Fitzgerald gives only the recitation of an abstract of John's second charter] :—
True Cops of the first Royal Charter granted to Limerick by John, Lord of Ireland, §c. John, Lord of Ireland, Earl of Morton, to the Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Barons, Justiciaries, Bailiffs, and to all his servants and faithful subjects of all Ireland, greeting; Know ye that we have given, and by this charter confirmed, for us and our heirs, unto the citizens of Limerick, that they and their heirs do have and hold the City of Limerick, with all the appurts. and burgages, internal and external, to the City appertaining, in fee firm, by the return which was appointed by Hamond de Valois, with pleas and aiguists, and that they have all the liberties and free customs through all Ireland which the citizens of Dublin have; Wherefore we will and firmly prescribe, that our citizens of Limerick and their heirs after them do have and hold all the liberties and free customs aforesaid and as presented. For the rest, know ye that [we hold as] ratified and well pleasing, and established for ever, the deliverances [liberationism of burgages, with all the liberties and prescriptions which Hamond de Valois made in the city of Limerick as he let the aforesaid burgages to my citizens of the same city.
[whereof] These are Witnesses, Hr/cto De Valois,
Richard De Force
'In the second year of his reign the king gave to Galfridus Fitzrobcrt one burgage* below (within?) the walls of Limerick, to be held by free service 12d. ; and granted and confirmed to the same for homage and service, five knight's fees,t at Radagar, in the Cantred of Huhene, to be held of one and one-third knight's fees—Charter Role A". 1°, Rotulo 14 and 15. In the same year he gave to Robert Sergeant four burgages, of which two are without the city of Limerick, between the city and the bridge, whatever part of the bridge is next the wall, and two in the island towards the city, near the biidge, wherever the bridge may be, for the service of 4s. per an., and he granted unto the same for his homage and service a knight's fee at Clonbulugrdachan and Cloinonochain, in the "thcudiim"J of Uuertherain, to be held by the third part of one knight's fee, Hamo de Valentia being the justiciary of Ireland.—Charter Roles 78. In the same year he gave to Humphrey de Pykeuile, one burgage below the walls of Limerick, for the service of 12d. per annum ; and he gave and confirmed to the same for his homage and service Killerumanith, three knight's fees circumjacent for all service, for the service of one knight.—Charter Role 75. In the same year he gave Lauvelekin Fitzwilliam one burgage below the walls of Limerick, for (per) the service of 12d. per ann. and five knight's fees, at Insculin and Balieder, Baioni, Corbally, Cullen, Odergraper, Ballydermot, in the Cantred of Huhene, to be held by the service of one knight and two parts.—Charter Role 79. In the same year he gave to Wm. de Naish one burgage in Limerick through the service of 12d. per ann. and the castles of Kavn Kittel, with a fee of five knights in the nearer place of that castle, in the "theudum" of Lirickmadh, in the Cantred of Huhene, held by the service of one knight's fee and two parts.—Role 81. In the same year he gave to Thomas, the sun of Maurice, one burgage next the bridge, on the left hand side towards the north, through the service of 12d. per ann. and five knight's fees, in the " theudum" of Ulenrii (or Olweii, or as I rather think Kenry), in the Cantred of Fontimell, and five knight's fees, in the theudum of Huanarach, which is in Thomond, beyond the water of the Shannon, to be held by the service of three knight's fee and one third.—Charter Role 82.
* Tenure in burgage is where the king or other person is lord of an ancient borough in which the tenants are held by a rent certain. It is a kind of lorage.—Lyt. II., § 162, 163.
t A Knight's Fee, Feodum militare, is so much inheritance as is sufficient yearly to maintain a knight, with convenient revenue; and in Henry III.'s days was i!15 (Camden's Brit. p. Ill), in the time of Edward II. £20; a knight's fee contained 12 plough lands, or 5 hides, or 480 acres. Selden, however, says the knight's fee had no reference to land, but to the services or number of the knights reserved.—Tomlin's Law Diet. Stowe, in his Annals (p. 285) says there were found in England at the time of the Conqueror 60,211 knight's fees, according to others 60,215, whereof the religious houses before their suppression were possessed of 28,015.
J The word " Theudum" means a fief, most probably one of five knight's fees, which was expressed by the word Toth. In the Celtic mythology the word Toth meant the geniw Loci.
King John, (says Giraldus Cambrensis,) gave to Philip de Braosa the northern division of Munster, namely, the whole kingdom of Limerick, except the city itself, and the cantred belonging to it. At the same time he gave the kingdom of Cork to Cogan and Fitz Stephen. So these three chiefs made a strict mutual alliance, and having obtained possession of Lismore, and of the greater part of Cork, namely, seven cantreds near the city, each containing 100 townlands, they proceeded to Limerick. Their army consisted of seventy men-at-arms, one hundred and fifty horse soldiers, and the proper complement of bowmen. But when they reached Limerick, the citizens set the town on fire. Cogan and Fitz Stephen proposed to ford the Shannon and storm the place. But Braosa proved wanting in courage and returned home.
He afterwards endeavoured to rehabilitate his character for bravery by joining in the crusades, and appears to have died in the Holy Land, when his rights, such as they were, to the kingdom of Limerick passed to his nephew, William de Braosa. But we learn from Dugdale (Baronage I. 415) that king John sold Braosa's lands in Ireland to Philip de Wygornia, (or Worcester,) Lord Deputy in 1184, for five hundred marks. In 1200, how, ever, the unprincipled monarch, resold Wygornia's lands, and those of Theobald Fitz Walter, ancestor of the Ormonde family, to William de Braosa, for 5,000 marks, and 5,000 marks more for the kingdom of Limerick, (see the charters of king John, anno 2, and Dugdale, I., 416.)* Fitz Walter repurchased his own estate for 500 marks, through the mediation of his brother Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, (see Roger de Hoveden, II., 513,) whilst Wygornia, says that author, "with difficulty escaping from the hands of the king, returned to Ireland, passing through the territories of the king of Scots, and recovered parts of his lands by waging war against the king." The kingdom of Limerick he had never had possession of, so did not probably now obtain it. But he seized on his former estates, chiefly in Tipperary, and held them by force: and his heirs still held lands there by knights' service in 1314, (Carew MSS.) The unfortunate Braosa was unable to pay the instalments due to the rapacious king John; he was fiercely
■ 1201, King John granted to William de Burgo 5 Knights' fees, called a Toth, wherein is seated Castle Connell, within 4 miles of Limerick, east, provided he fortified the castle, and was to restore it to the king if demanded, by getting a reasonable exchange for it.— Ware.
» In Pat. Roll. Mem. 23, No. 203, the grant to William de Braosa is set forth—" qu83 retlnnlmus In Dominico nostro, habenda donee Kegi placuerit."
In the 4th year of his reign a mandate was issued by the king to Philip de Wigorne, or Worcester, "that he should render to William de Braosa the land and castles of Orngraffan, and other castles of the Honour of Limerick, which are retained by the king according to convention. —Pat Roll, Mem. 10.
In the 6th year of John's reign Limerick was taken from William de Braosa by advice of the Barons of England, " for the peace of the kingdom."—Pat. Roll, Mtm. 7.
R according to Dugdalc's Monnstioon, was Constable of Ireland. Wm. and Roger da Wignrnin gave Sidan, Skbevin, Kilstevenan, &c, in Ireland, to the Mo nastrry of Osnev, near Oxford. Confirmed 2Sth Feb. An. 13 Edward Al Mimas Ar.yli.
persecuted by him, was driven from all his estates, and died a penniless exile, whilst the spiteful monarch wreaked his vengeance on his wife and son, who were starved to death, A.D. 1211, (see Dugdale as before.)
Captivated, as we have seen, with the beauty of Limerick, the King caused a singularly choice castle, "egregium castellum," and bridge to be built.' In that age the Annals refer to the erection of two bridges over the Shannon, and one over the Suck, by the monarch Turlough O'Connor. There is no doubt those bridges were not of stone, but of wood, and that the first structures of the kind of stone were erected by, or after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans.8 King John's bridge was perfectly level, crossing the main arm of the Shannon, from the N.E. extremity of the English town, close by the Castle; it was built on fourteen arches, under each of which some marks of the hurdles, on which it was erected, were visible until the bridge was taken down in the year 1838, and the present structure was built. According to tradition the cost of the building of Thomond bridge was but £30.3 Immediately above the bridge a ledge of rocks crosses the river, over which one can walk with perfect safety at low water.
The " Egregium Castellum" continues to our own time to be one of the finest specimens of fortified Norman architecture in Ireland. The north-west tower is said to have been the first portion of the work that was erected. Nenagh Castle is said to have been built at the same time; it too, is a noble military building in the Norman style. A Constable was immediately appointed to it by the King. The Castle is now used as an Ordnance store,
1 Stanihurst. • Dr. Petrie in the Dublin Penny Journal.
> In King John's time the pay of a foot soldier, which was more than a labourer's hire, was three halfpence a day. The small cost of the building of Thomond Bridge need not surprise us. In king John's time and under the Edwards, land was granted in Ireland, by ed ucatcs. A carucate was 140 great acres on an average and was taxed as chattels worth £6.
This venerable bridge was taken down in 1838 by the old Corporation, and in two years afterwards, viz. in 1840, the present structure was built, and open for traffic. Though the old Corporation built the new bridge, and gave credit to themselves for doing so, the amount of the contract, a sum of £9000, was paid by the new or Reformed Corporation for this work.
The new bridge bears the following inscription: —
THIS BRIDGE WAS BUILT A:D: 1840
Mr. John Long, the eminent civil Engineer, who built the new bridge over the Shannon at Athlone, and the new docks at Limerick, communicates to us his opinion, that the early bridges were chiefly of wicker work, no doubt very frail and imperfect, and for this reason easily destroyed; the notes in the Four Masters will fortify this opinion. Afterwards stone arches were turned over wicker centres; but they form two distinct periods of bridge building. Until recently one of these wicker bridges stood over the Shannon above Carrick-on-Shannon, and Mr. Long says he has often crossed it. It was built of loose stone piers, such as a common labourer would build, placed close to each other; some rough black oak logs thrown across from pier to pier, and these covered with wicker work in several layers, and gravel, &c. strewn on these. It was very frail, and the horse was unyoked from the cart, and the latter pulled across by men. This, he thinks, was the character of all the early bridges across the Shannon before stone structures were erected, which he believes were not adopted until about Elizabeth's reign.