« PreviousContinue »
I Have already stated, in the prospectus of this book, that historical truth, local and general interest, fulness of details, and the publication of new and authentic matter, derived from original sources, were the main objects which I proposed to myself in undertaking the laborious and difficult task of writing a History of Ancient and Modern Limerick. Originally appearing at intervals in the ephemeral shape of a contribution to the newspaper of which I am the proprietor, the plan of the work, as at first contemplated, included only the history of the last sieges; but the resources developed in the course of the studies which I found indispensable for a competent discharge of the duties that I had undertaken, accumulated so much interesting matter, and attracted so much attention and encouragement from some of our most eminent scholars and patriots, that I was induced to think of giving these occasional contributions to local history a fuller and, I hope, a more permanent form. My own enthusiastic love of the subject, no doubt, as well as these friendly criticisms, made me underrate the labour and care, to say nothing of the other high qualifications and responsibilities involved in such an undertaking; and, in fact, as my materials increased by the addition of family muniments, pedigrees, and official documents, I found that the publication of my notes and memoranda alone would extend to three or four volumes. Of course, so weighty a work was beyond my private means, upon which exclusively I have had to rely for the publication of my book, and which have been the more heavily taxed because I resolved to publish it at so extremely low a price, compared with other works of the kind. I had, therefore, to choose a medium between a historical epitome, and a publication which would have been more fitly called Historical Collections for a History of Limerick, than by its present title.
In such circumstances, fine writing, ambitious narrative, studied graces of style, and philosophical reflections, have often to be sacrificed to the stern requirements of facts and figures. In a work too which alternates between sublimity and commonplace, sustained elevation, or even equality of style, is not to be always expected. All that could reasonably be looked for was truth, lucidity and interest of narrative, and accuracy of information, and whether I have realized these objects or not, public opinion will find no difficulty in deciding. My chapter on the county history, topography, and antiquities, alone contains condensed information which might easily be expanded into a goodly volume, for which, in fact, I still have copious materials in MS. I hope, however, my endeavours to render the book a readable as well as an instructive one, will not be entirely fruitless. As another contribution, collected from the best sources, to our local histories, which are so very few when compared with those of other countries, the work possesses an additional interest.
Should it attain the success I hope for, I shall be induced to try the history of Tipperary, and perhaps of Clare, for which also I have ample materials.
As for the spirit in which any reflections I have made in the course of the work may have been conceived, I think it unnecessary to offer any apology. Whatever my opinions may be on political, social, or religious subjects, I have not allowed them to interfere with strict impartiality as a historian. Had I, or could I have, written without making any reflections at all, I might as well have published a dry list of chronological events, instead of a history, and I could, in such a case, neither have felt nor imparted that degree of interest to the work which would insure its popularity or even its perusal. Such as it is, its publication in book form has originated in a suggestion of my venerable friend the Most Rev. Dr. Leahy, the learned and gifted Archbishop of Cashel and Emly.
That scarcely any diversity of opinion exists as to whether another History of Limerick was required at the present day, is, I believe, a settled point. A century has well nigh passed away since John Ferrar compiled his small history and directory; and more than eighty years have elapsed since the second and larger edition appeared. Ferrar drew all his materials from the Rev. James White's MSS., omitting much that did not suit the times and his patrons, and from Dr. Smith's MSS. in the Royal Irish Academy. Of the grand and salient features of the history he
fave but little; he suppressed many annals; whilst the sieges and battles of limerick, the heroism of its defenders, their triumphs and their sufferings, are passed over in a very short space: he left untouched many of the principal incidents, even in the sources from which he professed to draw, and other more important fountains of knowledge were to him sealed altogether. The immense mass of matter which has been brought to light in reference to Ireland since he wrote, through the labours of our archaeologists and historians, through the Royal Irish Academy, the Gaelic Society, the Archaeological and Celtic Societies, etc., through the extraordinary labours of my late lamented friend Professor Eugene O'Curry, the late Dr. O'Donovan, the late Dr. Petrie, Dr. Todd, etc., attests his deficiency in resources which are now abundant. Of the larger history of Fitzgerald and MacGregor, although possessing a certain amount of merit, which I am far from undervaluing, it will not, I trust, be deemed rash or invidious to say, that it is quite as much a history of Ireland as of Limerick; that its copious details, even if desirable in a local history, are often put forward upon the authority of some persons who were either imperfectly acquainted with the subject, or partially disqualified from offering their statements and opinions by personal and political prejudices and prepossessions; and that a very considerable quantity of the matter which fills the two bulky volumes, can have little interest to readers who sit down with the wish to be informed of the facts of the particular history which the title page professes to give. Thanks to the labours of recent archaeologists, to the wide spread of education, and to the more intimate intercourse between men of all opinions which exists in these days of frequent and rapid locomotion, many of the prejudices against nationality, so common even in the days of the last historians of Limerick, have already passed or are rapidly passing away, and have been succeeded by a spirit of honest inquiry, candid admission, and a love of historical truth, which have been greatly fostered by the eminent men and by the publications to which we have already referred. I do not write by way of depreciating those who have trod the anxious path of local historical research before the present work was projected and undertaken; but I desire to show that a History of Limerick was an absolute desideratum which ought to be supplied. I have been engaged for some years, not only in collecting and preparing materials for this work, from rare and valuable published authorities, but I have supplied myself with manuscript materials of unquestionable authority—chiefly amongst them the MSS. of Dr. Thomas Arthur, a native of Limerick, the friend of Sir James Ware, the physician of nearly all the eminent Irishmen of his time, and a relative of the illustrious Archbishop Creagh; to which MSS. there appears to have been little or no access before those invaluable materials for the history of Limerick came into my possession, though constituting some of the most ancient written records of many of the most important of local events—some of the most curious and interesting of which have never hitherto seen the light, but all of which I have given. The White Manuscripts, from which Ferrar professed to draw, but much of which, I repeat, he left untouched, I have in my possession at present; and I have also had access to the interesting chartu^ry and annals of Edmond Sexten, preserved in the British Museum. I should add that some years ago I purchased the valuable Limerick MSS. of John D'Alton, Esq., M.R LA., from which I have derived most important matter. Most of the other authorities I give below. As an instance of the fuller and more accurate details, to which I flatter myself this history will owe some of its advantages over former ones, I may refer to the period of the Sieges, a portion of the history to which limerick is indebted for its chief celebrity, and visited by the lovers of national independence and military heroism. In treating of this and other parts of the work, I can safely aver I have spared no laborious exertions to acquaint myself both by reading, inquiring, and personal investigation, with all the narratives and traditions which bear upon the subject. On the history of its religious houses, and on the ecclesiastical history generally of Limerick, I have also taken particularly great care, and expended considerable time and labour, constantly referring to original documents, such as the Black Book of Limerick, for the more ancient details, and to original sources of information for the more modern, and setting down nothing for which I had not sufficient authority, although I am not of course so vain as to think I have escaped an occasional error.
In the list of authorities the reader will find, I hope, a sufficient guarantee of my industry as a student, and fidelity as a historian; but it would be ungrateful to omit my acknowledgment for many obligations conferred by kind friends who have consulted the public libraries for me, and lent me their family papers and other useful materials, besides other literary assistance. In the history of the Catholic Bishops after the Reformation, I have to express my thanks for the valuable assistance of the learned antiquarian, Mr. Hanna of Ballykilner, county Down.
The present Lord Gort has most obligingly furnished me with many interesting records, and valuable notes from the Carew MSS., now in the Lambeth Library; and his brother, the Hon. John P. Vereker, late Lord Mayor of Dublin, has supplied me with much available matter from his own interesting collections of papers. For the deeply interesting notes on the Jesuit Fathers, I am indebted to the" kindness of the Rev. Father Hogan, S.J., a laborious and patient searcher after historical truth in this respect. L. Waldron, Esq., D.L., the late M.P. for the county Tipperary, has afforded me information as to the existence of materials in the British Museum, etc., whilst De Lacy Pierce, Esq., and his nephews, of the Adelphi Chambers, London, have most obligingly contributed various illustrative documents derived from the same source, and from their own historical collections and papers. I have got some notes, too, of much interest, from the Hon. Robert O'Brien, from General Sir Charles R. O'Donnell, and from the late lamented John Windele, Esq., Cork; while in translation, research, revision, and general literary assistance, I have enjoyed the constant, efficient, and friendly aid of Thomas Stanley Tracey, Esq., A.B., ex-Schol. T.C.D., who was conveniently near me.
The reader will find in the Index the fullest references to almost everything in the book besides what is contained in the table of contents, the latter, in general, giving only the chief heads of the subjects in the text.
List of principal authorities used in this work:—
Annals of Four Masters,
Annals of Munster,
Annals of Ulster,
Aphorismical Discovery, etc., MS., T.C.D.
Atkinson's View, etc.,
Billing's Fragmentum Historicum,
Black Year book of Limerick,
Book of Friars' Preachers of Limerick in
De Burgo's Hibernia Dominicans,
Dunraven's (Earl of) Memorials of Adare,
Ferrar's History of Limerick,
Fitzgerald and M'Gregor's Hist, of Limerick.
Frazer's Handbook of Ireland,
French's (Bishop of Ferns) Unkinde Desertor and Bleeding Iphegenia,
Gordon's Ireland and Rebellion,
Hamilton's Calendar of State Papers,
Hardiman's History of Galway,
Harleian M SS. in Brit Mus.
Harris's History of Down,
Heating's History of Ireland,
Kilkenny Archaeological Society's Journal,
Keogh's Botanologia and Zoologia,
King's State of the Irish Protestants,
King James's Irish Army List,
Lewis's Topographical Dictionary,
Lanigan's Ecclesiastical History,
Leland's History of Ireland,
Leyden's Agonia et Victorias Martyrum
London Gazette, 1650-1-2, etc.,
Lodge's Peerage of Ireland,
Lynch's Law of Elections in Ireland,
Lynch's Feudal Dignities,
Lynch's Cambrensis Eversus,
Lloyd's Ancient Church Government in England and Ireland,
Mason's Statistical Survey,
Mason on Irish Parliaments,
Morrm's Calendary of the Patent and Close
MacCurtin's Vindication, etc.,
Memoir* of an Octogenarian (J. Roche, Esq).
M'Dermot's History of Ireland,
Molyncux'B Diary of the Siege,
MS. Annals (unpublished) of County and
City of Limerick, MSS. collections of the Smyth Papers, etc. Morrison's Itinerary, Massingham's Florilegium, etc., Macaulay's (Lord) History of England, Nairne's Stuart State Papers, O'Heyne's History of the Dominicans, O'Reilly's History of Ireland, O'Reilly's Irish Writers, O'Connor's Rerum Hibernicarum Scriptores, O'Halloran's History of Ireland, O'Renehan's Collections, O'Curry's MS. Materials, Orrery's State Letters, Ouseley's MS. Corrections and emendations
Petrie's Round Towers, Tara, etc.,
comson versus O'Dea, etc.
Rothe's Analecta Sacra,
Reports on the Fisheries,
Sexten's Chartulary in British Museum,
Smith's Histories of Waterford, Cork, and
These, and a great number of others, are the authorities, to which reference has been made, and from which matter has been collated by me. In the Appendices I have added a considerable quantity of matter which was not available until the latest moment; and I contemplate, in the next Edition, to supply such additional facts and historical matter as may be developed by the State Papers, etc., in the course of publication. To unavoidable errors, which I have endeavoured, as far as possible to correct, the reader will, I hope, extend a generous forbearance.
February 20th, 1866.