CELT document T100080

Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill

Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh

English Translation

Edited by Paul Walsh

Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill


1. The Life of Aodh Ruadh O Domhnaill

[1] A wondrous family indeed sprang from O Domhnaill (Aodh, son of Manus, son of Aodh Óg, son of Aodh Ruadh, son of Niall Garbh, son of Turloch of the Wine etc.) Inynne Dubh, daughter of James, son of Alexander, son of Eoin Cathanach Mac Domhnaill, of the race of Colla Uais, son of Eochaidh Doimhlean, was wife of O Domhnaill, and she was the mother of those of his children who were illustrious. The names of their male children in the order of birth are Aodh Ruadh, Rury, Manus, and Caffar.

[2] As for the first son of these, Aodh Ruadh, immediately after his birth he was given to be reared and maintained to the noble free families of Cenél Conall Gulban, son of Niall, and it was not these alone that got him to foster and rear, but others of Cenél Eóghain, son of Niall, took him, for they were sure that some good would come of him if he reached manhood. Thereafter he grew and throve in shape and comeliness, sense and eloquence, wisdom and understanding, size and fitness, so that his name and fame spread throughout the five provinces of Éire among the English and the Irish, even before he passed the age of boyhood and completed his fifteenth year. Moreover, the fame and renown of the youth were reported to the foreigners of Dublin, and they reflected in their minds that there would not be one like him of the Irish to avenge his wrongs and punish the plundering of his race if he was allowed to reach manhood. It was told them too that prophets and people with foreknowledge and predictors of futurity had announced that there would come one like him who would cause disturbance among them and in the island of Éire also, Colum Cille, son of Feilimid, the famous holy prophet of the  p.5 Cenél Conaill, a man full of grace and of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, promised where he said:

  1. The man of high renown shall come
    he shall bring weeping and woe in every land.
    He shall be the godly prince
    and he shall be king for nine years.

Some say it was Cáillín of Fenagh who made the prophecy, [in margin.]

[3] Moreover, these same English were afraid that he and the Earl O Néill, i.e. Aodh, son of Feardorcha, son of Conn Bacach, son of Conn, would join in alliance and friendship with each other against them, for the Earl was a true follower of his parents for a long time; besides, O Domhnaill's daughter, named Joan, the sister of Aodh Ruadh, of whom we have made mention, was the Earl O Néill's spouse and wife. The O Néill, who was inaugurated chief of the Cenél Eóghain some time before, and who had the title then, i.e. Turloch Luineach, son of Niall Conallach, son of Art, son of Conn, son of Enri, son of Eóghan, was submissive to the English at that time, and he was not able to govern his principality owing to his weakness and infirmity, and he was ever accusing and complaining of the Earl O Néill to the Lord Justice and the Council through fear of being deposed by him, since he was in the flood of his prosperity and (in the prime) of life then, and he was a shield of protection and defence to his kindred. Wherefore the English of Dublin conceived suspicion and an evil opinion of him (though he was obedient to them up to that) on account of this friendship of his with Cenél Conaill, and they reflected that the capture of Aodh Ruadh would enable them to extend and secure their sway over the Cenél Conaill and the Cenél Eóghain, though he was but a mere youth at the time. Wherefore, for the aforesaid reasons these same English planned his imprisonment before he should succeed in effecting what they feared would come about by his means.

[4] That capture took place in this way. A vessel was fitted  p.7 out, with black gunwale, deceptive, precisely at Michaelmas in the year 1587, in Dublin, with a murderous, odious crew, having implements of battle and weapons of war for defence and attack against their enemies, with abundance of wine and beer, for traffic and barter to trade with, to see if they could get an opportunity of seizing on Aodh O Domhnaill. By the advice of the Lord Deputy Sir John Perrott and of the Council too this was done secretly. The Lord Deputy was appointed to be the Deputy of the English king in supreme authority over the island of Banba for the space of three years. When all the gear that was desired was ready in the said ship, and while the wind was coming straight from the south, the vessel went out from the sheltered harbour of Dublin into the deep sea and sailed past Howth Head northwards, keeping the coast of Ireland on the port hand till she came to the old harbour of Swilly, in the territory of Conall, son of Niall. She hove to there opposite Rathmullen out in the sea. This castle was on the edge of the shore. A church was founded there for the divine office and Mass in honour of Mary, mother of the Lord, close by, and it was a well-known resort for visiting for the laity and clergy of the neighbourhood. It was built by Clann Suibhne, and it was they who inhabited the portion of the territory along the edge of the harbour as far as the ocean and others beside this. They were of the tribe of Eóghan, son of Niall, by descent, and they had come from Scotland to that country. They were leaders in battle of the king of O Conaill against his enemies.

[5] As for the ship of which we spoke in the beginning, after she made the harbour opposite Rathmullen as we have said, her sails were furled and her anchors were dropped to secure her close to the landing place. Some of her crew went ashore after a while in the guise of merchants under pretence of peace and amity, and they set to espy and pry about, to traffic and bargain with every one who met them, and gave out that they had wine and beer on the ship. When the people of the castle heard this they made no delay, but set off to purchase both the wine and the strong ale and to drink  p.9 together till they were drunk. When the neighbourhood learned the news they assembled there and were carousing until they were merry like the rest. They were not long thus when Aodh O Domhnaill came recreating himself, to visit the place in thoughtlessness and sport on a harmless excursion and youthful tour, with a crowd of young men of the country in his company. When the spies heard this for certain, they returned back to their ship. The butlers and cup-bearers of the Castle were sent after them to ask for wine for the guests who had come. They said they had no more than what the crew would need, and they would allow none of it ashore to any one, but if some of the gentlemen would come to them aboard ship, they should get attendance and entertainment with what remained over to them of the wine.

[6] When Domhnall Mac Suibhne, the owner of the castle, learned that the butlers had been refused the wine he was ashamed thereat. Wherefore the plan which his ill luck suggested to him was to invite his lord Aodh O Domhnaill to the ship. It was easy to lead him astray then for there was not one of his wise counsellors, of his preceptors, or of his learned men in his company to direct him or to give him advice, and he was not yet fifteen years of age, and he had not then acquired wisdom and sagacity. It was the same with the thoughtless forward persons who were with him, though they were older in years. The inexperienced party having taken their resolution, they launched a small boat that happened to lie on the edge of the shore, and rowed to the big ship till they were alongside. When the people who were on the ship saw that Aodh was among them, they bade them welcome, yet they allowed only a few persons aboard, as they had promised, along with Aodh Ruadh and Mac Suibhne, etc. They were served and feasted with a variety of food and drink till they were merry and cheerful. While they were enjoying themselves drinking, their arms were taken from them and the door of the hatch-way was made fast behind them, and they were put into a well-secured cabin where they were not able to use  p.11 either skill or valour against their enemies, and Aodh and those they pleased of the people who had come in to them were made prisoners. Meanwhile, the news of the capture spread throughout the district generally, and the neighbourhood crowded to the landing-place to see whether they might get a chance at the deceivers. But it was not easy, for they were in the deep part of the harbour after hauling on their anchor, hoisting and securing it, and there were not ships or boats to pursue or overtake them. Mac Suibhne na dtuath, called Eóghan Óg, came there like the rest; he was Aodh's foster-father, and he proceeded to offer other hostages and pledges in his stead. This did not avail him, for there was not in the province of Ulster a hostage whom they would take in his place, since it was solely to look for him they had come.

[7] As for the ship of which we have spoken and her crew, when they had finished the business for which they had come, and taken with them the most desirable of the hostages and pledges of the country, they swung back with the current of the tide until they reached the ocean. They sailed after that with the strength of the north-west wind along the shore of Ireland south-eastwards back by the way they had already come, till they landed in the harbour of Dublin again. It became known immediately throughout the whole city and to the Lord Deputy and the Council especially that they had come after this manner, and that Aodh O Domhnaill was in their custody. They were glad of his coming, and it was not at all through love of him, and they summoned him to them without delay that he might be face to face with them, and they proceeded to converse with him and ask information of him, and in a special way they observed and searched into his natural qualities. In the end, however, they ordered him to be put in a strong stone castle where the noble descendants of the sons of Milesius were in chains and captivity expecting death and doom, together with some of the nobles of the Fingallians who had come to the island long before and had entered into amity and friendship with the Irish against the English, who came last from the  p.13 country of the Saxons to take the island from both of them. It was their solace and satisfaction day and night in the close prison where they were, to be lamenting over the insufferable hardships and relating the great cruelty which was inflicted on them both English and Irish, and hearing of the lying judgments pronounced and the wrongs and wicked deeds done against the high-born noble descendants of the sons of Milesius and of the Fingallians in general.

[8] As for Aodh O Domhnaill, he was, just like the rest, a captive for the space of three years and three months, hearing of the ignoble bondage in which the Irish were. It was anguish and sickness of mind and great pain to him to be as he was, and it was not on his own account but because of the unfortunate straits in which his friends and kinsmen, his chieftains and leaders, his clerics and holy ecclesiastics, his poets and learned men, his subjects and whole people were, owing to their expulsion and banishment to other territories throughout Éire. He was always meditating and searching how to find a way of escape. This was no easy thing for him, for he was put each night into a well-secured apartment in the castle for security until the morning of the next day came. That castle was situated thus. There was a broad deep trench full of water all round it and a solid bridge of boards over it opposite the door of the castle, and a grim-visaged party of the English outside and inside the gate to guard it, so that no one should pass them, in or out without permission from the foreign warders. However, there is no watch of which advantage may not be taken at last. One time, just at the end of winter, when Aodh was with a number of his companions, in the very beginning of the night, before they were put into the well-secured cells in which they used to be every night, they succeeded in bringing a very long rope to the window in front of them, and they let themselves down by the ropes until they alighted on the bridge outside the door of the castle. There was a very strong iron ring on the door to draw it out to oneself when desirable. They put a bar of solid wood a fist thick through the ring, so that no one should  p.15 come in haste out of the castle to pursue them. There was a young man of Aodh's own people awaiting their escape, and he met them after coming out. He had two well-tempered swords under his cloak, and these he placed in Aodh's hands. Aodh gave one of these swords to a certain famous hero of the Lagenians, of the race of Cathaoir Mór, son of Feilimid Firurglas, named Art Caomhánach. He was a champion in battle and a leader in conflict. He then covered the flight of the youths through the streets and roads of the town. As for the guards, they did not perceive the escape for some time; and when they perceived that the youths had got off, they went at once to the gate of the castle as fast as they could, for they thought they would catch them instantly. When they came to the gate, it was impossible for them to open it or to draw the gate in; so they set to call to them the people who happened to be in the houses opposite the gate on the other side of the street. After coming at their call, these took out the bar which was through the ring and they raised up the gate for the people of the castle. A great crowd of the city people went in pursuit of the youths who had escaped from them. This was not easy, for these were outside the walls of the town before they were noticed, as the gates of the royal city were wide open then. They went towards them and leaped over fences and enclosures and walls outside the town until they stopped at the slope of the mountain opposite them due south. This mountain is long and very wide; it was the boundary between the Irish of the province of Leinster and the English of Dublin. Its roads and ways were numerous, but fear did not allow them to go by the usual roads. Moreover, they did not delay on their way till they crossed Sliav Rua before that morning, though fatigued by the journey and travelling all the night. As they were tired and weary, they cut into a dense wood which happened to be on their way, and they remained in it till early dawn. They prepared to go on after that, for they did not think it safe to remain in the wood, owing to the fear and great dread of being sought after and looked for by their enemies.


[9] His flight was not a cloak before a shower for Aodh O Domhnaill, for he could not go on with his companions from whence he was, because his white-skinned, tender feet were severely wounded and pierced by the furze and thick briars, and the roughness and intricacy of the mountain over which he had come, as his shoes had fallen off his feet owing to the loosening of the seams and ties from the wet which they had not met with up to that time. It was a great sorrow and affliction to his companions that they had not him with them farther, and as they could do nothing for him, they took leave of him and left him their blessing. Wherefore he resolved after a while, when he was left with a small party, to send one of his people to a certain nobleman of the free-born tribes of the province of Leinster, who happened to be in a castle in the neighbourhood, to see if he could obtain refuge or protection from him; Feilim O Tuathail was his name. He was a friend of Aodh before this time (as he thought) for he had once gone to visit him when he was in prison in Dublin, and they formed a friendship with each other, whenever either of them should seek the other's aid, so that it was fitting he should go for protection to Feilim on account of that friendship which they had contracted. The messenger went off to the place where Feilim was and told him the business on which he had come. He was rejoiced at his coming, and promised to aid Aodh in every thing which would be best for their protection. However, neither his friends nor his relatives allowed him to conceal or hide him through fear of the power of the English revenging it on him. It became known to them afterwards that he was in the wood, as we have said, and every one who heard it went to look for him, and they set off with their followers on his track. As it was certain to Feilim and to his relatives that any one else might find him, they resolved to take him themselves and bring him back to the city to the Council. That was done. When he came to Dublin the Council were delighted thereat, and they made little or no account of all the hostages and pledges who escaped from them, and they were thankful for the good fortune which restored  p.19 him to them again. Though great their cruelty and enmity to him the first time, they were greater the second time on account of his escape from them, and iron gyves were put on him as tight as they could be, and they put him in the same prison, and they watched and guarded him the best way they could. His escape in this way was heard of universally throughout the land of Éire, and his recapture. There came a great gloom over the Irish, and the courage of their soldiers, and the minds of their champions, and the hearts of their heroes were weakened at hearing that news. There were many princesses and great ladies and noble white-breasted maidens sorrowing and lamenting on his account. There were many high-born nobles clapping their hands and weeping in secret for him, and it did not less affect the people with whom he was on terms of friendship and intimacy, than those who had done him evil and shown him enmity. And with good reason on their part, for the multitude expected that through him relief would come to them from the bondage and the very great slavery in which the English held them.

[10] He was in this way in the same prison throughout the year to the following January to Twelfth Night in the year 1592. When it seemed to the Son of the Virgin full time that he should escape, he and some of his companions took advantage of the guards in the very beginning of the night before they were taken to the refectory, and they took off their fetters. They went after that to the privy, having a long rope, and they let themselves down by means of the rope through the privy till they came to the deep trench which was around the castle. After that they climbed to the opposite bank, till they were on the edge of the trench at the other side. The hostages who escaped with Aodh were Enri and Art, the two sons of Seáan, son of Conn Bacach, son of Conn, son of Enri, son of Eóghan. There was a certain faithful servant who visited them in the castle as a horseboy, to whom they imparted their secret, so that he met them face to face when they wanted him to be their guide. They went off after that through the crowded  p.21 streets, in front of the castle, without being known or overheard by any one, for they were not noticed except like every one else of the city people, as they did not stop to converse with or visit any one whatever in the houses of the city at that time, for it was the beginning of the night exactly and the gates of the city were not yet closed. They went out through the city in that manner. They leaped over the roughness and impediment of the thick rampart and of the strong, huge palisade which was outside the city, until they came to the slopes of Sliav Rua, where Aodh had come before, the first time he escaped. The darkness of the night and the hurry of the flight separated him who was the oldest of the party from them. This was Enri O Néill. Aodh was the youngest of the nobles. They were not pleased at the separation. They went away, however, their attendant leading the way. The night came on with a drizzle and a violent downpour of rain and slippery slime of snow, so that it was not easy for the high-born nobles to walk on account of the inclement weather and the want of clothing, for they had no outer garments, having left them in the privy through which they had come.

[11] The hurried journey, strange and unusual, was more severe on Art than on Aodh, and his gait was feeble and slow, for he was corpulent, thick-thighed, and he had been a long time closely confined in the prison. It was not so with Aodh, for he had not passed the period of boyhood, and he had not ceased to grow and develop that time, and he was active and light on that account, and his gait was quick and nimble. When he perceived Art growing weak and his step heavy, what he did to him was to place one hand of his on his own shoulder and the other hand on the shoulder of the servant. They went on in this way across the upper part of the plain of the mountain. They were tired and weary after that, and they could not bring Art further with them, and as they could not, they went under the shelter of a lofty cliff in the high moorland which was in front of them. After stopping there they sent their servant away with the news to Glenmalure, the place where Fiach Mac Aodha  p.23 was. This was a secure, impregnable valley, and the English of Dublin were accustomed with their instruments of battle to besiege and assault it in order to plunder and lay it waste. This Fiach maintained it valiantly against them, so that many heads were left behind with him, and they could do nothing against him; but though their attacks were many and various, and though great were their seizures of battle, he was not submissive to them as long as he lived. Every hostage and every prisoner who escaped from them did not go past him, but towards him, and the first place he would head for was Glenmalure, the place where Fiach was, as we have said, for it was his home fort. So, too, the hostages aforesaid directed themselves to him, and sent their servant on ahead. When he came where Fiach was he told his story to him and the state in which he left the youths who had escaped from the city, and that they would not be overtaken alive if he did not go to their assistance immediately.

[12] Thereupon Fiach selected a party of his people, of those trusted by him, and he bade them go with the servant to the youths. They rose up at once as they were ordered, and went off with one having food and another ale and beer, until they came to the mountain, the place where the men had been left. Alas! truly the heroes who had come to seek for them did not find the state and position of these nobles happy or comfortable. They had neither cloaks nor plaids, nor clothing for protection on their bodies, to save them from the cold and frost of the sharp winter season, but the bed-clothes about their fair skins and the pillows under their heads were high white-bordered beds of frozen hail congealing all round them, and attaching their light tunics and threadbare shirts to their bodies, and their long shoes and their fastenings to their legs and feet, so that they seemed to the men that had come not to be human beings at all, but sods of earth of like size covered up by the snow, because they did not perceive motion in their limbs, no more than if they were dead, and they were nearly so. Wherefore the heroes raised them from where they lay and bade them take  p.25 some of the food and of the ale, but they did not succeed, for every drink they took they vomited it forth again. However, Art died at last and was buried in that place. As for Aodh, he kept down the beer after that, and his strength was on the increase after drinking, except in his two feet, for they were like dead members without feeling owing to the swelling and blistering from the frost and snow. The men carried him to the valley of which we have spoken. He was put into a house hidden in a remote part of the thick wood. He had medical skill and care in every way that was fitting until the arrival of a messenger in secret to inquire and get news about him from his brother-in-law Aodh O Néill. He proposed to set off after the messenger had come to him. It was painful to him to go on that journey, for the physicians could not heal his feet all at once after being pierced by the frost as we have said, and some one else was needed to put him on horseback and to take him between his two hands again whenever he alighted. He was so until the physicians cut off his two great toes after a while when he came to his own country. Fiach sent a troop of horse with him in the night to escort him across the river Liffey, i.e. a river on the confines of the province of Leinster and of Meath. There were ambuscades and watches from the English of Dublin on the shallow fords of the river and on the usual roads since they heard that Aodh O Domhnaill was in Glenmalure, that he might not escape by them to the province of Ulster, and that the prisoners too might not escape who had fled with him out of the castle; so that it was necessary for the youths for that reason to go very near the city, over a difficult and deep ford which was on the river, and they came without being perceived or overheard by the English till they were at the rere of the castle in the very beginning of the night. The people by whom he had been abandoned formerly after his first escape were among the troop, i.e. Feilim O Tuathail with his brother, who had come to escort and protect him like the others, to establish and cement their friendship and amity with him. This friendship lasts still, and will last to end of time between the  p.27 race of Conall, son of Niall, and the race of Cathaoir Mór, son of Feilimid Firurglas. They bade farewell and gave their blessing to one another after binding their friendship in that way.

[13] As to Aodh O Domhnaill, after they had gone away from him he was left with only the one youth, i.e. Turloch Buidhe O Hagan, who had gone in search of him to the famous valley. He was one of Aodh O Néill's own people, and he spoke the language of the foreigners, and knew them and was acquainted with them, for he was in attendance on the Earl O Néill whenever he came on business to the city of Dublin. Aodh O Néill had many friends too among the English themselves, for he gave them large presents and stipends of gold and silver for supporting him and speaking on his behalf in the Council. For these reasons the young man was bold and was not afraid to go by the usual roads of the English. Aodh O Domhnaill and he went away after that on two fine fleet horses by the straight-lined roads and the muddy ways of ancient Meath, so that they were on the bank of the Boyne before morning, a short distance to the west of Inver Colpa. A fine city had been built by the foreigners some time before at Inver Colpa on the river and a bridge over it moreover. Drogheda was the name given to that town, and the usual road for the English and the Irish to take was through the town. But yet fear did not allow them to go through it, so that what they did was to go to the bank of the river of which we have spoken, where there was a poor miserable fisherman who had a small ferryboat for transport. They went into the curach, and the ferryman left them on the opposite bank after generous payment was given him. His mind was happy on account of the sum of money he had received, and was greatly surprised, for he had never received a like amount before from any person to whom he had given his curach. The same man went with the horses through the city and he gave them up to them at the other side of the river.

[14] They mounted on their horses and proceeded after that on their journey until they were two miles from the river. They saw a bushy, dense grove in front of them on the road  p.29 they came and a huge rampart all round it, as if it was a herb-garden. There was a fine mansion (called Mainister Mhór) belonging to an illustrious youth of the English by the side of the grove. He was much attached to Aodh O Néill. They alighted at that same rampart and went in however, for his companion knew that place well. They unsaddled their horses and made a halt there. He went into the house and was entertained there, for he was well known there especially more than in other places. He procured a hidden apartment for Aodh and took him with him, where he was waited on and entertained after a while as well as he desired.

[15] As they thought this place where they were was very secure they remained there till the night of the next day. They set out after that on their own horses in the dark at the beginning of the night over Sliav Breagh and through Machaire Conaill until they came to Traigh Baile mic Buain before morning. A city was built here on the edge of the shore by the foreign race of whom we have spoken, between Dun Dalgan and the sea. As the gates of the town were open in the early morning they resolved to go through it without halt or delay. They went on their way after that on horseback without being noticed, and so they passed through the town and no one recognised them until they were on the other side. The reason why it was necessary for them to go through the city rather than by another road was because there were watches and ambuscades set by the English on the boundary in every remarkable pass on each path and each road by which they thought Aodh O Domhnaill would come to them, as there were on the river Liffey, and they thought that fear would not allow him to go through the city at all. When they had gone through the streets of the city, they were glad and delighted at having escaped from every danger which was before them, for they feared nothing when they had come to that place, since the country to the north of the city was under the sway of Aodh O Néill. They went on to Fiodh Mór that night to get rid of their fatigue, and they were safe while there though they were very close to the English. Turloch  p.31 Mac Enri, son of Feilim Ruadh, who dwelt there, was his friend and foster-brother; he was of the nobles of the Cenél Eóghain, and he and the Earl O Néill had the same mother. They were entertained with much respect that night, and they went on next day though Sliav Fuaid till they came northwards to Armagh. They remained there that night concealed. The next day they went on to Dungannon where Aodh O Néill was. He was glad of the coming of his guest, and he brought him without delay to a private chamber secretly without being perceived by any one in the castle except by some of his trusty people who tended and entertained him, because Aodh O Néill was submissive to the English of Dublin at that time, and he did not wish to transgress their commands except secretly.

[16] As for Aodh O Domhnaill, after getting rid of the fatigue of his journey and hardship in the castle for the space of four days and four nights, he prepared to depart and he took leave of Aodh O Néill and gave him his blessing. A troop of horsemen went with him to protect him from robbers and kernes until he came to the district of Loch Erne. The lord of that territory, called Aodh Maguidhir, was his friend and a relative by the mother's side. He was rejoiced at his coming, and he proceeded to entertain him splendidly. A vessel was brought to him well built, black-polished and he went into it and took his leave of Maguidhir. They rowed away then as far as the narrow neck which was at the loch of which we have already spoken, the place whence issues the famous river abounding in salmon which is called the Erne. That territory was part of his own patrimony. Some of his own loyal and faithful people came and they brought fine fleet horses to meet him there, and from that they went to Bellashanny. There was a very strongly fortified castle on the bank of the ford, built formerly by the ancestor of Aodh (Niall Garbh, son of Turloch of the Wine, in the year 1423). The castle was a noble dwelling and a princely residence of his family, and of his father especially, for he was the chief of the territory then. He had left some of his own  p.33 people to guard the castle, and the men were glad that the heir of the chief had come, and they let him in.

[17] He rested there for the present until the country assembled (every one who was in his neighbourhood) where he was. This, indeed, was not easy, for the country was in the course of being plundered and robbed by the English and by the Irish, and there had sprung up fierce disputes and discords among themselves, so that they were not submissive to their prince as they should be, for he was an aged man then, and he was not able to unite his people or to secure their hostages or pledges since he (Aodh) had been captured, and moreover age lay heavy on him before he was still old. When the English of Dublin saw the territory in this condition they gave order to the troops which were away in the province of Connacht that a certain number of them should go to Tír Conaiill. The captains of the people who were appointed to go there were Captain Willis and Captain Conell. They marched away with two hundred soldiers over the Duff, the Drowes, and Assaroe, and they did not stop on their way till they came to Donegal on the shore of the Esk. O Domhnaill was in the town with a small body of troops and they could not harm him. There was a fair monastery with a conical-capped tower near the castle to the west on the edge of the strand and it was O Domhnaill who had given it to the Order of St. Francis long before, in the year 1474. Its religious and servants of God had gone away at that time to fly from and avoid the English. The English dwelt in the monastery, and they made booths and tents of the holy retired dwellings and of the cells of jointed boards of the servants of God and sons of life. They made subject to them the part of the country from Bearnas Mór to Loch Erne and to the Glen of Colum Cille son of Feilimid, and it was necessary to give pledges and hostages to them, for the Irish had great terror and dread at that time of the English troops and of the soldiers of London (though they had only a few of them) on account of the strangeness of their weapons and appearance and the novelty of their armour and speech  p.35 and the loud noise of their trumpets and tabours and war music, together with the horror and peculiarity of their warriors and their strange arms for the Irish had no knowledge of them before this. A castle, on the serrated edge of the harbour, two miles to the west of Donegal, was taken by the small force of which we have spoken. The place belonged to O Boyle, chosen leader of the race of Conall Gulban. Since these same English had a secure position there and the hostages of the country were in their power, they used to go through the country commonly in companies and in bands of twos and threes to carry off food and provisions for themselves, and they did not hesitate to take with them their heavy cattle and long-fleeced sheep at all times. They proceeded to call additional troops and hosts to them to go beyond Bearnas Mór in order to oppress and plunder the territory and everywhere to rob them of their herds and flocks and to reduce them to slavery and great misery in the end. But yet as the destruction and evil deeds which the English practised on the people of the country in their own dear native land were not pleasing to God, he brought the prophesied child of mighty deeds (Aodh Ruadh, son of Aodh, son of Maghnus) to the tribe of Conall son of Niall, for their relief and succour, to protect and free them from the merciless foreign tribe, as Moses, the son of Amram, came to the aid of the people of God to free them from the Egyptian bondage.

[18] When the English learned the report of which we have spoken, it was then told to them that the Ruadh who had escaped was come to the country, a quaking fear and great terror seized on them, and they resolved in consequence to leave the country if they could, and better for them had they never come into it. As for Aodh O Domhnaill, he summoned the country to him, and he did not wait for them then (because he heard of the spoiling and profanation of the monastery), but he came to Donegal face to face with the English. However, the country did not keep him long without coming to his call (such as were friendly to him) in companies and in bands as speedily as they  p.37 could. Thereupon, he sent his messenger to the English to tell them not to abide or delay any longer in the church, and that they would not be prevented from going away by whatever road they pleased, but only they should leave behind them whatever cattle and captives, herds and flocks they had, and the riches and plunder of the country in like manner. They left them behind immediately as they were ordered, and they were thankful to get away with their lives, and they returned to the province of Connacht whence they had come. After their departure in the month of February, the brethren returned to the monastery and set about cleansing and renovating it after the foreign troops, and saying the divine office and the Mass, as was their custom, and praising the Lord, praying and petitioning Him by turns on behalf of their friends, and of their benefactors, and especially on behalf of Aodh O Domhnaill for it was he that brought them back to their abode of psalmody, to their pleasant hospitable dwelling, and drove away the savage foreigners from them.

[19] As for Aodh O Domhnaill, he returned to Ballyshannon again and remained there and physicians were brought to him to examine his feet, but they could not cure him until his two great toes were cut off in the end, and he was not quite recovered for a whole year. However, he did not omit during that time to do whatever was necessary to unite the people, to reform and slay thieves, and to avenge his wrongs on his enemies. He was on his sick-bed, as we have said, from February to April. When he saw the great cold of the spring season departing and the summer weather approaching, it seemed to him a long time to be on his sick-bed without leaving the place where he was, for his physicians did not permit him, and what he did, contrary to their prohibition, was to send messengers to the Cenél Conaill (to such of them as were obedient to his parents), and to assemble and collect them to the east side of the well-known mountain, i.e. Bearnas Mor of Tir Aodh. He resolved at last to go himself to meet them, and those that were to the west of the mountain which we have mentioned assembled to him.  p.39 O Boyle came, Tadhg Óg, son of Tadhg, son of Turloch, a chosen leader of the Cenél Conaill; Mac Suibhne of Tir Boghaine came, Donough, son of Maelmuire Meirgeach, son of Maelmuire, son of Niall. He was the third man who was in command of the mercenaries of the King of Uí Conaill, Mac Suibhne Fanad and Mac Suibhne na dTuath being the two others. Those to the east of the mountain who came to the same gathering were O Domhnaill, his own father, Aodh, son of Maghnus, son of Aodh Óg, son of Aodh Ruadh, with his wife, i.e. Inghen Dubh, daughter of James, son of Alexander, son of Eoin Cathanach, mother of Aodh; the daughter of Mac Cailin was her mother. It was an advantage that she came to the gathering, for she was the head of advice and counsel of the Cenél Conaill, and though she was calm and very deliberate and much praised for her womanly qualities, she had the heart of a hero and the mind of a soldier, inasmuch as she exhorted in every way each one that she was acquainted with, and her husband especially to avenge his injuries and wrongs on each according to his deserts. She had many troops from Scotland, and some of the Irish at her disposal and under her control, and in her own hire and pay constantly, and especially during the time that her son (the Ruadh) was in prison and confined by the English. There came to the same meeting Mac Suibhne na dTuath, Eóghan Óg, son of Eóghan Óg, son of Eóghan Mór, son of Domhnall, and Mac Suibhne Fanad, Domhnall, son of Turloch, son of Ruaidhri. The precise place where the nobles of both places came together was at Kilmacrenan, in the middle of the cantred of the Cenél Lughaidh, on the north of the Leannan, the place where Colum Cille, son of Feilimidh, son of Fergus, the renowned saint of Cenél Conaill was fostered, and it was by him the church was first established, and in it O Domhnaill was inaugurated in the chieftaincy of his territory, and it was the erenach of the same church that inaugurated him; and it was through honour and reverence for St. Colum that this was done there by the Cenél Conaill. There were also innumerable bodies  p.41 of the Cenél Conaill who did not come there on that occasion. Of these was Aodh, son of Aodh Óg, son of Aodh Ruadh. Of these were the descendants of Calvach, son of Maghnus, son of Aodh Óg. Among those was also a large number of the dispossessed Clann Suibhne, who, having been banished from their territory long before, dwelt then on the margin of Loch Foyle, and they were the leaders in battle and smiters in fight for Calvach O Domhnaill and of his posterity successively. Sean Óg O Doherty, chieftain of the cantred of Inis Eóghain, son of Niall, did not come there because this cantred was the portion given to Eóghan from Conall as his share in the division, and it had fallen back to the Cenél Conaill again. There was a large number of Muinter Gallacher, who, like others, did not come there, through spite and malice. When this small body of forces had been brought together the chiefs and the nobles drew aside to a place apart, and they proceeded to take counsel, and to inquire and forecast how they might attack their enemies and bring under their obedience once more all of the Cenél Conaill itself who had set up opposing interests and disunion. Thereupon it was agreed on by the nobles and by O Domhnaill himself (since he was aware of his feebleness and advanced age), to transfer his chieftaincy to his son, i.e. Aodh Ruadh and to proclaim him O Domhnaill. All unanimously applauded that resolution, and it was done accordingly. The erenach, named O Friel, was sent for. He inaugurated Aodh Ruadh in the headship of the territory by the order and with the blessing of his father, and he performed the ceremony of naming him in the legal way that was the custom of his nation hitherto, and he called him O Domhnaill. The clergy of the church proceeded to supplicate the Lord on his behalf, and to sing psalms and hymns in honour of Christ and of Colum of whom we spoke, for the success of his sovereignty, as was usual with them. It was the third day of the month of May exactly that his title of Prince was conferred on him in that wise. in margin 1592


2. The First Year, 1592

[20] As for Aodh Ruadh, after he was duly inaugurated in his father's place in a lawful way, he did not allow the small force of horse and foot which he had with him to scatter or separate until he came into the territory of Cenél Eóghain son of Niall, as he had a great grudge against them at that time, for they used to invade his territory ever since his father had grown weak and infirm and he himself had been captured by the English. There was another reason too, for the Cenél Eóghain were a wood of refuge and a bush of shelter at all times for every one of the Cenél Conaill itself who opposed and resisted their own true prince, and not only for them but for every one in other territories who was in opposition to or in enmity with the Cenél Conaill by reason of their hatred of them. Besides, the O Néill, i.e. Turloch Luineach, son of Niall Conallach, and the Earl O Néill, i.e. Aodh, son of Ferdorcha, who was always attached to Aodh and to his father, were not friendly and affectionate to each other then. Wherefore, for these reasons it was against them he wished to go first to perform his first feat of arms and to display his enmity and anger. When that small force had come to Cenél Eóghain, they harassed and preyed that part of the country near them. Every one fit to bear arms whom the army got hold of was wounded and slain. They found much spoil of cows and oxen and every sort of stock too in the neighbourhood, because warnings had not preceded them. Nor, indeed, did the people of the territory imagine that Aodh Ruadh would rise so soon from the sickbed on which he was, and they did not take to their notice nor did it occur to their minds to fly before the Cenél Conaill for a long time before.

[21] At that time the residence of the O Néill (Turloch Luineach) was at Strabane, the place of meeting of the two  p.45 ancient rivers which the deluge left behind together, i.e. the Finn and the Mourne, and it was not the custom of O Néill to dwell or stay there, except this Turloch. The affection of Aodh Ruadh for O Néill was not increased when he learned that he had invited to him (to strengthen himself against the Cenél Conaill and Aodh, son of Ferdorcha, son of Conn Bacach who was his friend and brother-in-law), two famous captains named Captain Willis and Captain Fuller, together with two hundred soldiers who were with him at that time, and they never ceased espying and prying about the country all around. It was anguish of mind and a great heartbreak to Aodh O Domhnaill that the English of Dublin should obtain a knowledge of his patrimony or of the province either, for it was not easy to establish a friendship with any one who was reported to be in amity with the English, on account of the great information and knowledge which he had of them and of the vindictiveness with which they had inflicted cruelties on him without cause. When he had wasted the territories, as we have said, he returned to his own country.

[22] Aodh O Domhnaill did not delay long after that, for he went back on that day week to plunder Tír Eóghain. The inhabitants of the country, a second time, with their herds and flocks, with their treasures and chattels went away, in order to fly and avoid capture, to the remotest places they could. He went with his forces in pursuit of them and on their track until he came to Cianachta Glinne Geimhin, and when he had gone far into the territory, he was told that Turloch O Néill with his force of both English and Irish and with his own troops also was in the neighbourhood and awaiting him. As soon as he heard that, he called his counsellors and his commanders to him immediately, and when they had come he told them the same tidings and the business for which he had summoned them, and said to them: “I have heard it for certain from persons of knowledge and experience that it is a well known saying of old that every army which does not attack will be attacked. Wherefore, it seems to me,” said he, “if we abandon the territory now and  p.47 turn our backs to our enemies, they will follow on our track and on our footsteps to attack us boldly on our rear, and they will feel sure that weakness and fear is our reason for not attacking them at all. But if we first make the attack now fiercely, obstinately, fear and deadly terror will not allow them or the foreign tribe that is with them to pursue us again.”

[23] All alike approved of that opinion. They did then in regard to it as he said, for they made a resolute attack and an angry advance on them in the middle of the day exactly. When they saw the Cenél Conaill coming towards them, they did not wait for them, but went off to avoid them to a certain castle that was on the bank of the Roe, a river in Cianachta Glinne Geimhin. The castle was strong and impregnable, for there was a rocky cliff by the side of it, so that it was not possible to leap over on the side where it was. There were numerous walls and a great trench and a strong rampart on the other side, so that no attempt could be made on it. That castle was a shelter for a host and an army, and it was not easy to besiege it. As they had reached the strong part of the castle before Aodh O Domhnaill and his army could succeed in coming there, O Domhnaill encamped on the other side of the river till the next day. As to Ruaidhri O Catháin, son of Maghnus, son of Donnchadh, son of Seán, chief of the territory, he sent a messenger to O Domhnaill and with him a letter. In it he said that O Domhnaill was his foster-son before this time, and that he had entered into friendship long before with him, and he sent him word that it would be becoming, he thought, owing to that friendship, that he should leave to him the property which had come under his care and protection at that time, and he would never again admit such if he was in pursuit of it. He promised also twelve horse-trappings to O Domhnaill if he would secure and protect all who had come for protection to him then.

[24] O Domhnaill retreated, but yet he remained in the country which owned the cattle to which he gave protection for the space of three days and three nights, plundering and  p.49 wasting it, and then at last he came to his own territory. When he came to his castle at Donegal he remained there, and his physicians were brought to him to examine his feet; the illness remained with him for the space of two months, and he allowed his troops to rest during that time. It seemed to him long that O Néill and his English should not have been attacked during that time. He assembled his troops after the two months of which we have spoken had ended, and they went off through Bearnas Mór across the Finn, across the Mourne to Strabane, the town where the English and O Néill were, to see if they could get a chance at them. Since the English did not leave the citadel of the castle in order to attack them as they anticipated, what they did was to kindle and light up fires and conflagration in the four quarters of the town, and they did not go away until they had burned and plundered all the houses close to the walls outside, and until they drove off immediately many of a large number of horses that were wandering about confused by the thick cloud of smoke which came a long distance from the town. It was on the 18th of July this was done. As the English did not come meanwhile to guard or protect the town from them, they left it after wasting it in this way and went to their homes without any opposition.

[25] The adventures of the Earl Aodh O Néill will be told here again: when he perceived the envy and anger of his own against Aodh O Domhnaill and the Cenél Conaill except a few, and they were urging on the English of Dublin against him, what he did was to go to the nobleman who was Deputy of the English King in the island of Erin, viz., William Fitz-william. He was Lord Deputy then; and when he went to him he told him that O Domhnaill would come to make peace and friendship if he gave him protection and complete security in reference to the escape which he had effected. The Lord Deputy promised that it should be given as it was agreed on by him. A protection was written then as Aodh O Néill directed the Secretary, and the Lord Deputy put his signature to it, and the Council put theirs also. The Lord Deputy invited  p.51 him to meet him at the city which is on the edge of the strand of Baile mic Buain, between Dundalk and the sea, that is Sráidbhaile, and he said he would not bring O Domhnaill further southwards to Dublin. Aodh O Néill took leave of the Viceroy and Council then and went home, and the stay he made then was not long, for he went immediately by the way and the road from the Dun of Genann, son of Cathbadh, north-west exactly, until he came to Donegal, where O Domhnaill was. The troop was not noticed till they dismounted on the green. Every one who met them was rejoiced hearing the news. O Domhnaill was lying on his sick-bed, and he could not rise readily to entertain the guests who had come to him; and as he could not, Aodh O Néill went to his bedside to confer with him, and told him the business on which he had come. He said it was not agreeable to him, nor was his mind satisfied to go into the presence of the English, since the one God allowed him to escape from them, on account of their vindictiveness and the extent of the cruelty which they had inflicted on him without reason, though before this it was hard to give him a refusal, but yet he would go with him if it was his wish. It was painful to him to go on this journey for his feet were wounded, and they did not heal immediately after his two great toes were cut off, as we have said. They were together that night taking counsel, and when they had taken it they set off next day with a troop of horse, and they did not stop on their road (except at night) till they came to Sráidbhaile of Dun Delgan. The Lord Deputy came to meet them there, as he had promised. The troop dismounted at the rear of the castle, and rested there that night. Since O Domhnaill was not able to move about on his feet but only rode on horseback the Lord Deputy himself came to the place where he was and bade him welcome, and forgave him the escape he effected, and every fault beside.

[26] After he had entered into peace and friendship with the Lord Deputy, he then took leave of him and left him his blessing, and prepared then to depart. O Néill did the  p.53 like after he had completed his business to his satisfaction. They both returned by the same road they had come from their homes till they reached Dungannon. They were feasting and enjoying themselves there for a while until Aodh O Domhnaill thought it was time to go away, and as he proceeded to carry that out, he then parted from the other Aodh though it was painful to both to be separated from each other. After that O Domhnaill went his way until he came to Donegal, and he remained meanwhile in his sick-bed again, as he had no fear, having entered into peace and friendship with the Lord Deputy. When it was told to the party which was in opposition to him among the Cenél Conaill, that amity and friendship had been entered into between him and the English, they came immediately very submissive to him for peace, and they made full submission to him, because they were not able to contend with or hold out against him (though their warriors were many) for a prince is a greater power than men.

[27] These were the principal persons of those who came for peace to him. First came Aodh, son of Aodh Dubh O Domhnaill, the senior of the race of Dálach, son of Murchertach, besides Aodh, son of Maghnus, who was thought most likely to be at the head of the territory after him. He was a comely, well-mannered man, kind, friendly, honourable and hospitable, dexterous in the use of arms, a soldier in martial exploits, a poet as regards poetic skill, and of him it was said throughout Erin commonly that he was the last generation of the Gaelic heroes, for he was likened to Lughaidh, son of Cian, or to Troilus, son of Priam, in horsemanship. He was equal to the Hound of the smith, for he never made an erring cast, and hardly ever did any one escape from him in deadly slaughter or red carnage, as was the custom with the Grecian warrior Achilles, son of Peleus. Moreover, he did not go into a fight or skirmish, into a dispute or a struggle, that he did not wound some one somehow. He was a vindictive man and keen to avenge his wrongs, like Conall Cearnach, son of Amergin, so that he was never taken unawares so long  p.55 as he lived. But yet it was not a shame or a disgrace to him that, in preference to him, the royal prophesied Aodh Ruadh son of Aodh, son of Maghnus, should be proclaimed the royal ruler, since his vigour and courage, his bravery and fortitude, had grown and increased, for he was a man hard to oppose, intrepid, eloquent, with a pleasant, cheerful countenance, with subtlety and superiority of knowledge, of intelligence and inventiveness of mind, with the firmness and ruling power of a prince, with severity and sterness in his commands, so that it was not allowed to dispute his order or his words, just as if he was the noble Caesar, to whom the poets ascribe such qualities as these. For that reason it was not a cause of shame nor was it a matter of dishonour for Aodh, son of Aodh Dubh O Domhnaill, nor for any of his stock in his time, that the prophesied child of great deeds of whom we have spoken should be placed over him, for he surpassed all the people of the island in which he was born for a long time past; and moreover he was his foster-child when he was in his infancy although he was envious of him at this time on account of his supremacy.

[28] There came to him likewise Niall Garbh, son of Conn, son of Calbach, son of Maghnus, son of Aodh Óg, who was called Aodh Dubh. He was a violent man, hasty, unmerciful, and he was spiteful, inimical, with the venom of a serpent, with the impetuosity of a lion. He was a hero in valour and fighting. He was the head of an army and of troops in battle and war. But yet he was envious towards him like the rest, though the sister of Aodh was his wife. There was another bond of friendship between them for Aodh had been fostered in his boyhood by his parents. But yet it was through not real love for him he came, but it was wholly through fear. There came also, O Doherty, i.e. Seán Óg, son of Seán, son of Felim, son of Conor Carrach, chief of the cantred of Inis Eóghain, son of Niall. This man who came was a prop in war and a champion in fight, and the shelter of an army after defeat. But, however, it was by the point and edge of the sword that O Domhnaill brought him to his friendship, though  p.57 he was a mighty champion. It happened in this way: O Doherty invited O Domhnaill to a tryst with him under a show of peace, and he asked him to come to the meeting with only twelve horsemen and that he would come in the same way on the other side. He did not bind oaths or bonds on him, and he did not seek sureties nor securities but that. O Domhnaill came to the meeting, and brought with him only the number he was told. Meanwhile O Doherty came on the other side with the same number, so that they were face to face. It was a great trouble to O Domhnaill, and it was no honour nor glory to him that one chief of his own people should be in opposition and enmity to him; so what he did was to make an onset on them angrily, vigorously, so that O Doherty and his people were overcome, and he was himself seized, and he took him with him and put iron fetters on him, and he did not let him go until he made his submission to him, and gave him pledges and hostages for its observance always. As O Doherty and the Cenél Conaill, even to the portion that had been in opposition to him, were subjected to him, he proceeded to govern his principality as was right, preventing theft and evil deeds, banishing rogues and robbers, executing every one who was plundering and robbing, so that it was not necessary for each one to take care of his herds of cattle but only to bed them down on straw and litter, and the country was without guard or protector, without plundering one by the other, and two enemies slept in the one bed, for fear did not allow them to remember their wrongs against each other. Aodh passed the first year in the very beginning of his sovereignty having large followings, holding meetings, being generous, joyous, roaming, restless, quarrelsome, aggressive, and he was advancing every year in succession till the end of his life came.


3. The Second Year, 1593

[29] When he had settled in his princely seat and his chieftain's residence in Lifford (24th January, 1593), confronting his enemy Turloch Luineach O Néill, he proceeded to wreak his vengeance and his enmity on him by driving him from his principality and weakening him, in the hope that Aodh O Néill might be inaugurated in his place. The foresight which he used proved of advantage to him, for the chieftancy fell in the end to Aodh O Néill, and Turloch Luineach gave his consent and yielded to him as to the title that he should be styled O Néill. He was proclaimed after that and Turloch sent away the English who were with him, since he entered into agreement and friendship with O Domhnaill. In the month of May exactly, in the year of our Lord 1593, he did this. When O Domhnaill was at peace with him, the two Aodhs brought the province of Conor Mac Nessa under their friendly peaceful sway immediately, and they held hostages and pledges for its observance and maintenance faithfully at all times. When Aodh O Domhnaill saw that the whole province was obedient and secured to him, then he called to mind his own wrongs done by the English, and he reminded the Irish in the same way also of the extent of the wrongs done to them, and of the evils and injustices which they had wrought for a time to the descendants of Gaedhal Glas, son of Niul, robbing them of their inheritance singly and collectively, putting them in gaols and in captivity, executing them through cruelty and anger, and it was thus they would spend their time to the end of life, whenever they could get an opportunity or advantage of the Irish. And also he told them he had himself sent his messenger and a letter to Spain to ask the aid of an army to oppose the English, and that he had great hopes of arrival in a short time. This was the fact, for he had sent  p.61 the Bishop of Killala as a deputation to the King of Spain to complain of his sufferings to him, and to bind his friendship and the friendship of the descendants of Milesius also. The Bishop, however, did not succeed in coming back with the news when the one God sent to him a messenger whom he could not avoid, and took him with him to another world, and he did not come afterwards. That inciting took effect, for it enkindled and inflamed enmity and distrust among the freeborn descendants of the race of Milesius of Spain against the English of Dublin, so that the one thought and desire in the minds of all was to turn on the English, for dissensions and quarrels had grown up between them after a while, owing to the enticement and entreaty of O Domhnaill to the Irish, telling and reminding them of what the English had done always to them and to their ancestors up to that time. When he saw everyone of one mind about the war which he desired, he sent messengers and letters to Scotland to invite an additional force of soldiers, warriors, and mercenaries.

[30] As soon as Aodh Maguidhir, lord of the territory about Loch Erne, heard of the great attempt which O Domhnaill intended, he wished to be the first to enter into partnership in the war. He was a proud, self-willed man, with elevation of soul and magnanimity, a hero in warfare, a champion in deeds of prowess and bravery, a lord in generosity, having many warriors and people. He sent some of his own people to the neighbouring town, where there was a famous warrior of the English, and they slew and plundered the town. On another occasion Maguidhir set off by the advice and recommendation of O Domhnaill, and the road he went by with the whole of his forces was through the southern part of Bréifne of Connacht, having Loch Allen on his left, through the upper part of Tirerill and Corran, over the bridge of Boyle, thence to the plain of Magh Aoi, which is called Machaire Chonnacht. He let his scouts scatter in the twilight of the early morning through the country around. It happened that the Governor of the province of Connacht, Sir Richard Bingham,  p.63 was that night on the hill in the neighbourhood of Tulsk listening to the news of the country all round. A troop of his cavalry happened to be reconnoitring the region near the hill where the Governor was, and they saw nothing owing to the blinding fog of the early morning until they and Maguidhir with his cavalry met face to face without the knowledge of either party. The cavalry of the Governor retreated, and during the pursuit they were mangled and cut down by Maguidhir and his people till they came to the place where the Governor himself was. A well known nobleman of the English, William Clifford by name, was slain in that attack and seven horsemen besides. They turned again on Maguidhir on the same road and pursued him till they came to the battle front and to the strong lines. When the Governor saw that it would not be advantageous to attack them he retreated, and he was very thankful to escape as he did. Important persons were slain on Maguidhir's side in that skirmish, i.e. Edmund MacGauran, primate of Armagh, who happened unluckily to be with him, and the Abbot Maguidhir (i.e. Cathal), MacCaffrey, and his brother's son. But though he was much grieved at the loss of these noblemen, he took with him what had been collected and brought together of the cattle and plunder of the country, and he went from one encampment to another steadily and slowly till he came to Fermanagh.

[31] This was told to the English of Dublin, and they were filled with anger and wrath. An order was issued then by the Lord Justice that a large force from Meath, Leinster, and Mogh's Half, should go to the province of Conor in the autumn precisely to revenge on them what they had done, and he gave the chief command of them to the Earl O Néill, though it was not pleasing to him to go in that army, and also to the Marshal of Newry. The Lord Justice also ordered the Governor of the province of Connacht with all the forces from the Shannon to the Drowes to go and wait for them at Loch Erne. When the first body of which we have spoken was assembled, they went on eastwards to the Loch of Erne the daughter of Burg  p.65 Buireadhach. Sir Henry Bagenal, a famous knight of the English, was the leader in battle of that host. As regards Aodh Maguidhir, after hearing news of the foreign army, he sent his herds and flocks, for their protection, northwards to the territory of Conall, son of Niall, and he gathered a great host throughout his own territory of soldiers and mercenaries of other districts and of the family of Suibhne of Tír Conaill,and he was with his troops on the other side of the Loch, and they contested with the foreign army so that they did not allow them past them westwards. The English army then marched on, having the Loch on the left, till they came to the river which flows out of the Loch. There was a special ford over it for every one to pass who needed. Its name was Athculuain, and it was shallow at that place. The English attempted the ford on the sixth of October exactly. Maguidhir, with his troops, was on the other side of the ford, waiting for the English, and they resisted them manfully for a long time. It was not easy for the Irish to defend it, for they were at that time unarmed in comparison with the English, with their abundance of foreign armour and of their grey steel lances and their guns with explosive powder shooting and hurling forth circular balls of lead and flashing bolts of fire, so that they reached the men on the other side of the river without any one of themselves being injured. Owing to the number of their forces and the strangeness of their arms they verified the proverb in the end: 'The many shall overcome the few,' for the youth of the Irish could not hold out against them any longer. They were driven after that from the ford. Crowds of them were wounded and taken prisoners and most of them fled to a wood, for it was very near them. Aodh O Néill was wounded there, and he was pleased thereat, so that the English should not have any suspicion of him. The English army passed by him, however, and went westwards, keeping the lake on the left, that they might seize on the spoil of cattle or flocks, and as they did not find them they went to their homes and allowed their army to scatter.


[32] After the Governor of the province of Connacht and the Earl of Thomond, Donncha Ó Briain, son of Conor, son of Donncha, came to the banks of the Erne with the forces of the province of Connacht, they returned to Boyle, and they went after that to their homes as the other army did. However, Aodh O Néill and the Marshal left strong bodies of English youths and soldiers with Conor, the son of Conor Ruadh Maguidhir, who was discontented and at variance with Maguidhir always about the lordship of the country. As for O Domhnaill, it was a great affliction of spirit and mind to him that the English should thus return. But yet as they did not attack him, he did not attack them, on account of the unprepared state in which he was, and he left a large body of his people at the aforesaid ford, which he gave for Maguidhir's protection, though he withdrew himself by command of O Néill, for there were messages between them secretly without the knowledge of the English. Now the English and the Irish after that were parleying (listening to each other) without either attacking the other, for three months of winter up to February of the next year, 1594.


4. The Third Year, 1594

[33] Taking advantage of that period the Lord Deputy collected a great army unknown to those opposed to him. They marched into the neighbouring territories without any delay until they came suddenly to Inniskillen, on Loch Erne, in the middle of the territory of Fermanagh. This was the dwelling and principal stronghold of Aodh Maguidhir and of every one inaugurated as chieftain of the territory. It was a strong fort and a wall impregnable against a foreign force, but they were not on their guard then. The Lord Deputy sat down to besiege the fortress, and the forces proceeded to break in the wall as well as they could; this was of no avail to them till some of warders gave up the place at last for a bribe. As soon as the castle was in the possession of the Lord Deputy Sir William Fitzwilliam, he left thirty soldiers to keep it against any one by whom it would be attacked, with proper supplies of food and arms, and he turned back himself again. They ceased after that on each side plundering or slaughtering each other for four months, from February to June. Aodh Ruadh O Domhnaill felt ashamed at being so long without going to the aid of Maguidhir, for it was he who urged on the war, and by his advice it was enkindled in the beginning. What caused him not to go at once to his aid, as he intended, was that he was expecting and awaiting the Scots, who had promised to come to him for pay. As he thought they were long in coming, he mustered the Cenél Conaill then, and he marched forward with his forces to Inniskillen. He sat down there besieging the fortress from the beginning of June to the middle of August, till they destroyed and wasted and plundered whatever was under the oppression of the English in the territory of Oriel and Bréifne O Reilly, and they gave the cows and herds as provisions to their auxiliaries and mercenaries. The  p.70 English were dwelling at that time in the strong points which they had seized some time before, in the monastery of Monaghan, Clones in Oriel, and the monastery of Cavan in Bréifne, for it was very often in the churches of the saints and religious they took up their position, plundering and wasting the country and taking pledges and hostages.

[34] As for O Domhnaill he was with his forces besieging and attacking Inniskillen up to the beginning of harvest as we have said, till all but a small part of the provisions which the party that was in the castle had was exhausted. When the English of Dublin learned they were in this state, they sent messengers to the English who were in the province of Connacht, ordering them to go and bring supplies of food and drink to the castle. The English assembled a great host in one place as they were ordered, so that there were fifteen hundred armed soldiers, with a multitude of the men of Meath, of Bréifne O Reilly, and of Bingham's men from the province of Connacht. After assembling they proceeded to bluster and threaten the Irish and to assert that they would go to the relief of the place in spite of them; but indeed their fear did not allow them to go immediately. The Irish were on the watch for them whenever they should come.

[35] Now the Scots who had promised to enter O Domhnaill's service, came with a large fleet to the Loch of Feabhal, son of Lodan, between Cenél Conaill and Cenél Eóghain, and they occupied the famous church which is called Derry, the place which Criomhthann, son of Fedhlimidh, son of Fergus, who was called Columba the Mild, blessed. They were told that O Domhnaill was on a hosting in the neighbouring territory, as we have said. They sent messengers and letters too to invite him to them. When the messengers came to the place where O Domhnaill was they gave their letters to him. He read them, and this was their substance: Domhnall Gorm Mac Domhnaill and MacLeod of Harris had come at the invitation of O Domhnaill with the fleet we have mentioned until they reached Derry aforesaid, and if he did not come  p.73 immediately to retain them as he had promised, they would turn back to their country without dallying or delay. When O Domhnaill read the letters, a great silence came on him, so that for a long time he did not speak, meditating on and forecasting what he should do. At one time he was ashamed not to fulfil his promises to the Scots after inviting them to him from a distance. Again, he was greatly afraid that the English of whom we have spoken would come to the relief of the fortress if he left the encampment. Wherefore in the end he resolved to leave his army at the encampment and siege where they were, and to go himself with a small body of men to meet the Scots to retain them, as every one advised him. He went after that with a troop of horse to the place where they were. He bade them welcome. They were attended and entertained afterwards for three days and three nights with intoxicating ales and every sort of food that was best in the country.

[36] Domhnall Gorm took leave of O Domhnaill and left with him his youngest brother and five hundred armed soldiers and active warriors. MacLeod remained with the same number and O Domhnaill retained both of them. They were recognised among the Irish soldiers by the distinction of their arms and clothing, their habits and language, for their exterior dress was mottled cloaks of many colours with a fringe to their shins and calves, their belts were over their loins outside their cloaks. Many of them had swords with hafts of horn, large and warlike, over their shoulders. It was necessary for the soldier to grip the very haft of his sword with both hands when he would strike a blow with it. Others of them had bows of carved wood strong for use, with well seasoned strings of hemp, and arrows sharp-pointed, whizzing in flight.

[37] As for the English, when they were told that O Domhnaill had gone away from the camp and left his army behind at the siege in which they were engaged, and that great numbers of them had gone to their homes for want of provisions, they marched in haste on hearing the news till they were on the  p.75 borders of Fermanagh, west of Loch Erne. When Maguidhir heard they had crossed the boundary of his territory he took his troops with him to meet the English, viz., his own faithful people with O Néill's brother Cormac, son of Ferdorcha, son of Conn Bacach, with a number of his people and of the Cenél Eóghain, son of Niall, and some of O Domhnaill's troops, for fear did not allow these to transgress the word or the warning of their prince, for he ordered them to remain in the encampment until he returned to them again, and their provisions were not exhausted as were those of such as had gone away from the encampment. When Maguidhir and the people of whom we have spoken came near the foreign army they halted opposite them at a rough difficult ford, where they were sure the enemy would come to them marching by the road they did, and their stay in that place was not long when the army of the English came up. The entertainment which they received from the party there was unfriendly. A battle, sharp and fierce, took place between them until in the end the English were defeated, and they left a multitude of heads of high and low born and a large prey of steeds and stallions which they had loaded with supplies of food and drink for the fortress to which they were going, so that from the many cakes and biscuits left at the ford then, the ford and the battle got the well-known name of the battle of The Ford of the Biscuits. The men of Meath and the O Reillys escaping from that battle went as fugitives, scattered and disordered, to Bréifne O Reilly. The road by which George Og Bingham went with the people who followed him out of that fight was through Largan of Clan Cobthaigh Ruadh Magauran, through Bréifne O Ruairc and thence to Sligo. This took place in the month of August. When the warders of the castle of Inniskillen heard of the defeat of the army which intended to come to their aid they gave up all hope of relief and surrendered the town, to Maguidhir, and he gave them a protection during their journey through the district till they came to a place where they were safe.


[38] As to O Domhnaill, after engaging the Scots, he went to the territory of Fermanagh to continue the same siege in which he was engaged before at Inniskillen. After the journey he met some of his soldiers who had been inflicting the defeat on the English with their plunder in their possession. They gave him the account of how it happened. He was pleased with them, but yet it was anguish to him that he was not himself in that battle, so that as many of the English would not escape as there did. O Domhnaill turned back with the Scots, and he remained in his territory until Maguidhir's messengers came to him again to tell him that the Lord Deputy Sir William Russell, was threatening and asserting that he would go to Inniskillen to take it a second time. When O Domhnaill heard this news he assembled his forces, both high and low-born, and he went to Fermanagh. He stayed afterwards in Tír Kennedy, to the east of Loch Erne. The army made huts and bivouacs there, and remained so from the end of August to the 5th of October. When the Lord Deputy heard that O Domhnaill was lying in wait for him, and Maguidhir with his auxiliaries also, and as he knew that O Néill would come to their aid, he was so afraid of them that he did not leave Dublin then. When O Domhnaill was certain that the Lord Deputy would not come to Inniskillen then, he returned to his own country and sent away his Scots after giving them their pay, and they made a promise to come to him again in the very beginning of the next summer 1595.


5. The Fourth Year, 1595

[39] He was then at rest, after the departure of his mercenaries, until the month of March. Many of the nobles of the province of Connacht came to O Domhnaill at that time and were in his service, having been banished from their territory by the oppression of the English, and they never ceased beseeching and begging him to go to punish the English for their misdeeds, and to plunder and prey the people who bore with them and the territories subject to them. It happened, moreover, that owing to the resentment and anger against the English it was easy to tempt him to prey and plunder them whenever he could. The precise place fixed on to be plundered first was Rath Cruachan of Crodearg, in Magh Aoi, son of Allgubha, in the middle of the English, where their flocks and herds were. That was not easy for him, for the English had brought the whole province of Connacht under their power, so that they were in possession of the impregnable forts and strongholds of the country and in the gaps of danger, viz., some of them in the castle on the bank of the ancient river which the flood left behind, called the Sligeach, and others of them in Ballymote, a strong fortress in the neighbourhood of the celebrated hill of Kesh of Corann the harper. Some of them at Newport, a strong earthwork which the English had dug between Loch Cé and Loch Arrow. Others of them in the monastery of the monks on the bank of the Seghais, a river which comes from Loch Techet, now called the Boyle. Another body at Tulsk, in the middle of Magh Aoi, north-east of Rathcroghan. The Governor of the province of Connacht, Sir Richard Bingham, was in Roscommon; a valiant knight, and he was commander, under the direction of the Council, over the whole province, as we have said. It was a hard, difficult, bold, brave thing to make an attack on the party of whom we have spoken already,  p.81 in order to plunder or prey them, owing to the great dread and abhorrence of their arms and accoutrements, and to the contempt and insult they offered to the Irish for a long time. However, O Domhnaill's decision was to go on a hosting at the request and petition of the nobles and gentlemen who complained of their sufferings to him.

[40] He assembled and gathered together the Cénel Conaill, and they came to Bellashanny. Then he went, the third day of March, with his host across the old stream of Saimer, having the Loch of Melge, son of Cobthach, on the right, over the border of Bréifne, to Brahliav, and from that to Tír Thuathail. They encamped there till morning. The next day they set off through the wastes and deserts of the country, without being noticed or heard, to the river at Boyle, east of Loch Cé. The army crossed the river in the beginning of the night at the place called Knockvicar bridge. From that silently through Moylurg of the Daghdha and through Magh Aoi Finnbendaig, till they came at the twilight of the morning to Cruachan, the fort of Aoi. However, though houses and dwellings were close in the neighbourhood of the royal fortress, and though the cows and herds of cattle, the swift foreign horses, the oxen and preys of cattle were numerous, and though they might with profit forbid their marauders to scatter or their soldiers to separate from each other in order to collect herds or flocks (for they would find plenty of them, and of every treasure they wished except gold or silver), it was not this they did at all, but far and wide they separated one from the other from the hill of the royal fort, for some of them went into the territory of O Conor Ruadh and O Hanly, and others to the bridge of Ballymoe, and another body beyond Castlerea, westwards. All these active marauding parties, with their spoils and booty, returned with what each one could, moving together and driving before them herds and cattle, after midday on the same day to Elphin, where O Domhnaill was. It was a long time before that since the same quantity or the like was gathered and collected as was brought together of spoils  p.83 in one place, the plunder of one day, by any one of the race of Gaeidhel Glas, son of Niúl. O Domhnaill went forward with his army by slow marches over the border of Magh Aoi having on the right the old ford of Slishen and Uí Briúin, until they came to the bank of the Shannon, for it flows straight from the north-east between Uí Briúin and Conmaicne Réin. They encamped there that night.

[41] As for the Governor Richard Bingham, he had been told that O Domhnaill was on the march before he came into the country, and he was as well prepared as he could be; he thought it well that he had come anyhow, for he supposed O Domhnaill could not escape without great disaster. He assembled all the English stationed all over the country, from whatever places they were in, and he summoned them to meet him at the Seghais called the Boyle, for he thought O Domhnaill would pass there when going to his own country. To that muster came the English who were in the garrisons of Sligo, Ballymote, and Newport, and they were in Boyle. The English who were in Cluain na gCaiseal came to the same gathering. The Governor himself came with the English of Roscommon, and with a great body of Irish with them until they were at Rath Cruachan. They went on the trail of the army and of the prey, and though it was easy to find the track (for not like the track of a fox on the ice were the track and traces of the plundering host before them) they took a different road at the end of the day and beginning of the night, after wandering and straying through a longing desire and haste to overtake on them and pursue them, for the English were fully persuaded that O Domhnaill would march again, when returning back, by the same road by which he had come to the territory. Meantime (as soon as the day shone out with all its light on the morrow) O Domhnaill ordered his attendants and every one of his army who did not know how to use or wield arms against their enemies to march without delay with their booty and spoils towards the Shannon to a certain deep ford on the river, which is called the ford of  p.85 Cill Trenain. They obeyed immediately, and they crossed the river without any hurt to the opposite bank in Conmaicne Muighe Réin, which is now called Muintir Eólais.

[42] As for the Governor Richard Bingham, when he perceived that O Domhnaill with his army had avoided and had shunned the road by which they had come into the country, he sent messengers to the English whom he had summoned to the monastery of Boyle to ask all of them to go in pursuit of the host which had come to plunder the territory, and as they did not join him instantly, he did not wish to go meet the other army unprepared, so that they went from thence across the Shannon north-eastward before the English came up, all but a small number of their soldiers whom they left behind to fight in their defence, and to cover their retreat. A great body of the infantry of the English army and of the shooters came up and a skirmish took place between them, so that many were hurt and wounded on both sides. However, at last the Cenél Conaill went across the river after a victory in the fight. The Governor with his English retreated, and his mind was not at ease, for he was grieved that the country was plundered in spite of him. O Domhnaill and his army went on their way to their homes with vast treasures and great joy. They remained there, taking their ease, to the end of spring.

[43] When the beginning of the summer weather was approaching a longing and a great desire seized O Domhnaill to go again into the neighbouring districts to attack the people that were in subjection to the English and obedient to them, to bring them back to an alliance and friendship with him, and to protect their patrimony from the English, or to plunder them if they did not return. Wherefore he got together his troops on the 18th of April. His first march was across the old stream of the Saimer, having the Loch of Melge, son of Cobtach, on his right, and they came to Ros Inver that night. They remained there till morning. They came the next day to Cill Fhearga. They made a halt there until their rearguard  p.87 came up with them. After that they went through Bréifne to Brahliav. They encamped for a night there, and held a council afterwards. What they agreed on was whatever way they got any chance of attacking the English who were in the monastery of the Seghais, they thought it right to do so. For these were with two hundred soldiers as garrison in the church, and they wasted the neighbouring territories on every side so that they were wildernesses without residence or dwelling. This was the plan adopted by O Domhnaill in the end. He detached a troop of horse from the army of his own people and sent them away by another road across the Boyle to the monastery, and told them to go reconnoitre for the purpose of driving off the cattle belonging to the English, to delude them, and draw them beyond the fences and walls of the monastery as far as the level plain after their cattle, to see whether the force could go between them and the fortified place, for O Domhnaill was told that they had one hundred heifers for food.

[44] O Domhnaill turned aside with his army by a hidden road to conceal himself by the bank of Loch Arrow to the east, and to Corrsliav of the Seghais. The English who were in garrison in Newport, between Loch Cé and Loch Arrow, heard the talking of the army when passing by. They started shooting their leaden balls and exploding their powder in order to give word and warning to the soldiers in the monastery, so that the force should not deceive them and come on them without notice. When O Domhnaill had passed over the Corrsliav southwards, he rested in a retired wood near the river in ambush for the English until the morning of the next day.

[45] As for the troop that was sent to reconnoitre about the prey, as we have said, they came in the early dawn to the monastery and drove off their cattle from them immediately. The English saw that a stratagem was attempted against them, and did not leave the fortress but remained therein. When O Domhnaill had given up all hope of their coming out of  p.89 the monastery into the level plain in pursuit of their small herd of cattle, the loss of which was an injury to them then, he rose from his ambush and passed on across through Magh Aoi with his soldiers, so that it was completely gleaned by him and what remained after the first time was entirely plundered, and he went straight on till he came to the winding banks of the Shannon eastward.

[46] He went across the river to Conmaicne Réin, and he encamped in Leitrim of Muinter Eólais, and remained there with his army until they had finished the celebration of Easter, and while his enemies thought he was going to his native country, such a thing was not in his mind, but he summoned to him privately some of the people of the country, and told them to go into the neighbouring district to spy and inform on the people who were in subjection to the English. They went afterwards by the prince's order to watch in Annaly. This is a district in which some of the nobles of Conmaicne of the race of Fergus Mac Rossa dwelt. They were named Síol bhFerghail and they were subject to the English then. They were too much afraid to desert them, for they were very near neighbours. O Domhnaill also sent a messenger to Aodh Maguidhir to invite him to him, and he appointed a meeting with him in the same territory. He came as he was asked.

[47] The spies returned with an account of the country and of its dangers to O Domhnaill. He set off then with his soldiers on Easter Monday precisely through the passes of which his guides informed him, and he came before morning to Annaly. The two Annalies and the whole country on every side were wasted by them, so that they did not leave a single beast from the mountain of Uilleann of the red blade, son of Finn, called Sliav Cairbre now, to Glaiss Beramon, called the Inny, where Eithne, the daughter of Eochaidh Feidhleach, was drowned. O Domhnaill's people put the land all round under a heavy cloud of fire, so that there was a gloomy, blinding, dark cloud of smoke of a strange kind overhead, enough to make them wound and endanger those who were defending them,  p.91 for their acquaintances and fellow-soldiers could not be recognised and distinguished (if they were any distance from them) from their hereditary foes and enemies.

[48] There was a castle in the territory called Longford O Fearghail, for it was his fortified residence, and that of the person of his nation who was chieftain of the territory. It was a strong impregnable castle, and it had fallen into the hands of the English then. The English gave it afterwards to one of their own people to hold, and the hostages and pledges of the country with it. Christopher Brown was his name. He was a giant of valour, in the matter of contempt and abuse towards the nobles and chiefs of the country on all sides of him. The castle was taken by Aodh O Domhnaill, and Christopher and his brother-in-law were carried away as pledges with both their wives. Hubert, too, son of Fergus, son of Brian, fell by the army; he was one of the nobles of his race. He was slain by Maghuidhir. Conor, son of the Prior O Reilly, was taken by another part of the army. There were slain and destroyed many persons by them on that day whose precise names are not given, together with the sixteen hostages of the high-born nobles of the territory (they were hostages with Christopher Brown under direction of the English in the castle) who were burnt, for they could not be saved owing to the fury of the fire and the burning of the red-hot ashes which were in every part and corner of the town. Four other castles also of those of the territory were burnt besides Longford that day. There were more spoils and plunder and cattle than they were able to take away with them when leaving Annaly.

[49] They went away after plundering the territory, and they encamped at Tullyhunco that night. They sent out their scouts on the next day to the place where the English were in garrison in the territory, i.e. to the monastery built by the Order of St. Francis, very near Cavan (O Reilly's fortress), and they took away with them every kind of booty which they met with, as they could get no chance of attacking the English owing  p.93 to the strong nature of the place where they were. They rested that night at Tullyhaw to the west of Ballyconnell.

[50] O Domhnaill's people thought nothing of the quantity of treasure which they took, the wealth of cattle and flocks on the roads before them on the border of the two Bréifnes and in Fermanagh, owing to the great quantity they had and to the remoteness and distance of their own territory and the weakness and feebleness of all kinds of cattle then. Aodh O Domhnaill did not pass that week in a pleasant, sleep-producing manner, and his journeys and marches were far from each other, for on Saturday his people took their cattle from the English of the monastery of Boyle and plundered the plain of Connacht. On the following Tuesday his forces wasted the two Annalies, as we have said, and on the Wednesday after his marauding parties spread about Cavan. The Cenél Conaill went away then to their homes, having succeeded in their expedition. The afore-mentioned Christopher Brown was kept in confinement by Aodh O Domhnaill until his ransom of six score pounds was paid by him.

[51] It was known to the English of Dublin that O Néill had entered into the Irish confederacy at the instigation and request of O Domhnaill. He had not done so openly, however, and he concealed it as best he could. When Sir William Russell, the Lord Deputy, was convinced and the whole Council also, that he could not clear himself of his offences they sent a thousand men with proper equipment to Iubhar Cinn Tragha to keep ward against the Cenél Eóghain, and the Lord Deputy promised to come himself with his army in a short time to ravage the country and to destroy its strongholds and difficult passes. Thereupon O Néill sent his messenger to O Domhnaill to tell him of the assembling of that great army intended for an attempt against Tír Eóghain. O Domhnaill could not bear to listen to the news, wherefore, what he did was to assemble his forces immediately in one place and to go to Tír Eóghain, where O Néill was. They went together to Faughart Muirtheimhne, the place where the famous Cuchullin performed the Champion's Cast. They made tents and sheds  p.95 to the cast of Faughart in the month of May precisely. They waited for some time there, on guard against the Deputy, keeping and protecting the province against him. However, the Lord Deputy remained in Dublin then, having learned that they were waiting for him in this way.

[52] There was a fierce, powerful soldier of the English then in the castle on the bank of the ancient river Sligeach in garrison, and one hundred soldiers with him; George Óg Bingham was his name. He was a leader in fight and a captain of war by appointment of the General who happened to be over the province of Connacht then, i.e. Richard Bingham. As for George of whom we have spoken, the crew of a ship sailed north-eastwards, having the coast of Ireland on their right, till they came to the old harbour of Swilly in the territory of Conall, son of Niall, while O Domhnaill was with his forces in Tír Eóghain. A monastery was there on the edge of the shore built in honour and reverence of holy Mary, Mother of the Lord. They went to the monastery and took away Mass-vestments that were there, and the vessels for the offering of the body of the Saviour, and other treasures besides. They went back till they came to Tory, a place which the famous Colum blessed; this is an island opposite the territory due north and far out from the mainland. They plundered the glebeland of the saint and the whole island, so that they did not leave a four-footed beast on it. O Domhnaill was told of the plundering of the territory by the foreign fleet in his absence. He went to his territory to avenge its devastation. He had not long to wait after that when the news reached him that the Lord Deputy had come with his army to Tír Eóghain. O Domhnaill turned back once more until he came where O Néill was waiting to see what road the Lord Deputy would choose. O Néill was glad of his arrival, and his heart rose on seeing him. They set to watch and observe the Lord Deputy face to face; they did not attack him, neither did he attack them. But, however, they did not allow his forces to scatter to collect herds or flocks, so that in the end the Lord Deputy was obliged to go back to Dublin since he could do nothing against the Irish.


[53] As for the above mentioned George, after his return to Sligo, the Lord of the Universe did not allow him to be long unpunished for the irreverence which he did to the church of the Blessed Mary and to the church of Colum, as we have said. It happened in this way. There was a nobleman of the province of Connacht in the pay of George, with twelve soldiers of his own people in his company. Ulick Burke was his name. He was the son of Raymond na Scuab, son of Ulick na gCeann, son of Rickard, and though his family were not of the Irish by descent, their manners and customs had changed owing to the length of time they lived in the island, and the special affection which the Irish had for them was not less than theirs for the Irish, for the hatred and cruelty of the English of Dublin towards both of them was the same. Great contumely and insult was offered to Ulick by the English, in whose service he was. He was filled with anger and wrath, and he was continually thinking how to avenge his despisal on the English, and come to terms with O Domhnaill after that, for he was anxious to enter into friendship with him. In this way he was spying and watching George continually until he came on him unawares in his room one day, and he charged him with his injustice and illegalities, but he got no answer whatever; and as he did not, he took a sword and cut his head from the trunk. The place was seized by Ulick then, and he sent his messengers to Bellashanny. O Domhnaill's people sent his messengers to Tír Eóghain, where he then was. They told the news to O Domhnaill. It was related to O Néill afterwards, and both were delighted. O Domhnaill then went home, having taken leave of O Néill, and he stopped only at night until he came to Sligo with his troops. He received a welcome there, and Ulick gave up the castle to him. He rested at that place for a while, and his mind was happy. That was precisely in the month of June.

[54] It happened just then that a famous warrior of the English came to reconnoitre the place, having three hundred soldiers with him. He was a captain in battle and a leader in fight.  p.99 His name was William Moss. He came to Ballysadare before he had news of O Domhnaill, and he could not return in time before O Domhnaill's people came up on the other side of the river, so that they were face to face on either side of the bridge which was over the river, and the space between them was not more than a gunshot. There was no way towards the English except over the bridge, and O Domhnaill's people could not pass through as they wished. However, a famous captain of the English was killed by the shooting which took place between them from one side and from the other. When the darkness of night came, the English fled away as quick as they could from the others, and they were not perceived till morning. The youths followed them at the dawn over the shoulder of the mountain, and they did not overtake them, and they were very sorry that they had escaped from them in this way. They went back again to Sligo.

[55] O Domhnaill left a party of his soldiers and of his trusty people in the castle of Sligo to hold it, and his mind was at ease in consequence of the place being in his power. After that he went with his army across the Erne northwards till he came to his house at Donegal. He was at rest till the middle of August. He was told that a fleet of ships had come to Loch Foyle at that time. The commander of the fleet was MacLeod of Harris (he took the title from an island in Scotland named Harris) with six hundred soldiers, and the reason why he came was to take service with O Domhnaill. The arms they had were bows of carved wood and sharp-pointed arrows, and long broad swords with two-peaked hafts. O Domhnaill went to where they were, and engaged them for the space of three months, and this was in the middle of the aforesaid month of August precisely. Their billeting was provided in land holdings and farmhouses afterwards until they got rid of their fatigue after the great toil of the sea and their supplies were got ready. When they were prepared after that, O Domhnaill took them with him and his army also to the Erne to go into the province of Connacht. They marched away then across the  p.101 Drowes, the Dubh, the Sligo, by Ballysadare and the shoulder of Sliav Gamh to Leyny, and from that to the Costellos. There was a strong castle there called Castlemore Costello. It fell into the hands of the English, just as all the castles of the province had fallen to them. O Domhnaill placed his camp round the castle, and proceeded to attack it and threaten the garrison of the castle. He was, indeed, the better of that because, in the end the warders were obliged to surrender the place to O Domhnaill. Afterwards he gave possession of the town to its lawful owners, and they promised to enter into alliance with him and to be at his call whenever he wished, and also to remain always in the war-confederacy of the Irish.

[56] O Domhnaill set off after that, and he did not halt until he came to Turlach Mochain. This is a castle in Bermingham's country. He proceeded to besiege that castle. His people set about pulling down the wall, and they did not cease their efforts until they took the castle by force, and they took in hostageship the successor to the chief of the district, Richard, son of Mac Feorais, and some of the leading men of the district with him and seized the best part of the wealth and treasures of the castle. They scattered their marauders over Conmaicne, Muinter Murchadha, over the border of Machaire Riabhach, and about Tuam, until they plundered the territory on every side of them of its herds and flocks. They returned with much booty. The Governor of the province, Sir Richard Bingham, happened to be in the neighbourhood of O Domhnaill's army at that time. He was the greatest monster of all the English that were then in Ireland. He had fifteen hundred men with arms and armour, between infantry and cavalry with him. When he heard that O Domhnaill had gone past him westward into Connacht with his troops and everything he had done on every road he had gone, he was on the watch to oppose him on his return, and he lay in wait in the short cuts of every road he thought O Domhnaill might come towards him.  p.103 When O Domhnaill learned that, he avoided the English as well as he could, for he was sure that the deepest concern of the army was for their herds and prey, their goods and cattle; and his expectation and reliance on his troops to sustain the fight and to hold the field of battle was greater before they got possession of their enemies' valuables when they were care-free without anxiety about them at all. Besides there were more of the English than of his men, and even if they were not more numerous, it was difficult at that time to oppose the English on account of the superiority of their arms and the outlandishness of their armour and the strangeness of their weapons, until the Irish soon after attained a knowledge of their arms. As for O Domhnaill, he came with his army and spoils after the noon of the third day to the upper part of Sliav Gamh. However, the English were marching along the road towards him as fast as they could northwards from Ballymote. O Domhnaill detached a squadron of cavalry against them to combat with them and to impede them, so that they might not get a chance of attacking the servants or the unarmed or the defenceless portion of his force. O Domhnaill went without being attacked across the three bridges, the bridge of Collooney, the bridge of Ballysadare, and the bridge of Sligo, until he came with his army and plunder to the neighbourhood of Glen Dallain.

[57] As for the Governor Sir Richard Bingham, as he did not make contact with O Domhnaill's army, he went in pursuit of it to Sligo. He made his encampment in the monastery, as it was the custom of the English to remain in the holy churches, and he was considering how he might take the castle from O Domhnaill's people. However, O Domhnaill on the morning of the following day sent a small party on fine fleet horses to bring intelligence about the English and to get news of the castle and of the soldiers that he had left in the castle. When they came to the bank of the river they saw the English here and there through the town. There was a vainglorious, obstinate youth with Richard Bingham at that time,  p.105 his sister's son, whose name was Captain Martin. He was the commander of a troop with the Governor. He was a leader in battle and conflict with the English of the province of Connacht. He was crying out and blustering against Aodh Maguidhir continually and against every one of the Irish whose name, fame, or repute for skill, especially in the matter of skill in horsemanship, he had heard of. He could not endure seeing his enemies on the other side of the river and not attacking them. He took horse, and his troop too took horse. When O Domhnaill's people saw them coming they went away as fast as they could. These went after them and they did not overtake them. They turned back. O Domhnaill's people told the fact to the army how they had been pursued angrily and haughtily, and that it was owing to the speed of their galloping they escaped. When O Domhnaill heard the story he set to reflect and forecast how he might attack the English and give them a lesson. This is what he resolved on in the end. A hundred horsemen were chosen by him, the best in his army, with three hundred infantry of the same kind, with their implements for shooting, that is, elastic bows and well-filled quivers of arrows, for only a few of them had any other implements of shooting then. They went off until they came to the spot where it was safe for them to place the ambuscade, more than a mile from Sligo. Thereupon O Domhnaill sent on some of his horsemen towards the English to entice them to where he was if they could, and he commanded them not to fight with the English, and told them not to feel ashamed to flee, but to keep drawing them on little by little one after the other till they brought them without their perceiving it to the place where the ambuscade was arranged for them. The soldiers went away as was commanded them, and they did just as O Domhnaill asked them to do. They had no sooner come to the bank of the river when Captain Martin jumped on his horse on seeing them (as quick as a hound would go in pursuit of its appointed game), and a large body of the cavalry of the English mounted  p.107 also. They went after that towards the soldiers whom they had seen as fast as they could go together. When O Domhnaill's people saw them coming as they desired, they left the place where they were and set off on their horses, proceeding at first to hold gently the bridlebits in the mouths of the swift-galloping horses and of the fleet restless steeds to hold them back, keeping very near the foreigners, and decoying them to the place where O Domhnaill was. The youths were not long so when it was necessary for them at last to spur and whip their horses at once and together, owing to the great speed the English made galloping in pursuit of them. O Domhnaill's people proceeded to ride quickly and hasten along the road as fast as they could. One of them was left behind unwillingly, for he was not able to keep up with his company owing to the slowness of his horse, so that he was at a disadvantage and in danger from his enemies. Hence it was necessary for him, against his lordship's orders, to fight the English, since he was sure he would be killed on the spot. Felim Riach Mac Devitt was his name. He turned his face to Captain Martin, for he was the nearest to him of the party in hot pursuit, and he was the captain in battle of the English horse, and he was leading the way. The aforesaid Felim had a sharp, piercing spear to shoot when needed. He put his finger in the string and he drew the javelin boldly, and the shot of the dart struck Captain Martin with such force that it passed through the border of the foreign armour at the hollow of the armpit straight and it pierced his heart in his breast as his misdeeds deserved; for he who was wounded there was a merciless rogue, and his hatred of the Irish was very great, and his evil deeds many wherever he had been throughout the whole province from Limerick to the Drowes, on account of his relative. Thereupon the English retreated after the wounding of their defeated hero and leader, and they carried him, weak in the throes of death, till they came to the town. He died afterwards that night. He bore with him, when going to the other world and leaving this at that time  p.109 many a groan and curse of the poor and distressed whom he oppressed on account of their own property. When O Domhnaill saw that the English had turned back, he was filled with very great wrath against the soldiers, as he did not get the wish of his mind and the desire of his soul regarding the foreigners as he planned at first. A party of the assailants came into the presence of their prince (though it was very hard for them at all on account of his great anger), and told how it had happened to them, and they all swore on behalf of the soldier who had wounded Captain Martin that there was nothing to save him if he did not make that shot except the power of the Lord. They quieted O Domhnaill's anger, and his mind was appeased thereby, and he was told on the following day that the captain had died, as we have said. His anger was less on that account, though his mind was not at ease immediately because the English had escaped as they had done and his stratagem and ambuscade had gone for naught but the killing of that one man aforesaid.

[58] As for the Governor, after the death of his relative and nephew he was filled with wrath and anger, and he ordered his army to go to the monastery and smash, break and destroy the rood-screen and the cells of the servants of God, and to bring him enough of the firmly bound, well jointed boards and of the strong, smooth-hewn beams to make machines of them for pulling down walls. They brought him afterwards what he sought. Many carpenters and numerous workmen were brought to him. They made closely jointed, very firm sheds for war of these beams and elm planks, and they were covered with boards nailed straight-edged, fitted firmly for soldiers to fight from. Skins of cows and of oxen were put outside. Straight-moving wheels of strong oak were placed under them to move them close to the fortress. When these cleverly devised strange implements were ready they were filled with soldiers and warriors and brave mercenaries of the English. The foreigners' advance began with darkness at the beginning of night, until they were placed face to face at the angle of the castle. They then  p.111 proceeded to pull down the wall. As for the people who were in the castle, it was not a slow or timorous manner that they set to receive the assailants, for there were masons in the castle well prepared, and they set to pull down the wall opposite them to hurl it down on them at first. Their brave men went on the battlements of the castle and they threw down on them from above many of the sharp solid rocks and heavy massive stones rapidly, so that everything which they met with to the ground was shattered and destroyed. Others of them went to the windows and loopholes of the castle and proceeded to shoot their leaden bullets and cast hand-grenades of fire on them, and they crushed the soldiers in the wooden sheds by the dropping of the stones and by every kind of shot also which were discharged against them, so that they did not succeed at all in their attack. The English did not wait to be wounded further, as they could do nothing to the castle; so they threw away their defences and left their houses for fighting and their erections for breaking down walls, and they returned back severely wounded, and they were glad to get away alive. It was a great disappointment and a mighty sorrow to the Governor, Sir Richard Bingham, that he could not vent his cruelty and wrath on the castle and on the party who were in it; and as he could not, he went back on the same road by which he had come, over Corrshliav of the Seghais, and across the plain of Aoi, son of Allghubha, till he came to Roscommon. He stopped there, for it was his fortified dwelling; but his mind was not at ease after the death of his relative and the preying of the territory in spite of him.

[59] O Domhnaill went away after his victory and proceeded across the Saimer north-eastwards, and he sent away the Scots who were in his service and gave them their pay. O Domhnaill did not delay long till he came back to Sligo, and he pulled down the castle of Sligo, so that he did not leave a stone of it on a stone, for fear the English might take it without his knowledge. Thirteen of the castles of Connacht were also demolished by him, and he took hostages and pledges  p.113 from whosoever he feared would oppose him or be at all disobedient. He went back across the Erne northwards, and he stopped to rest until the month of December.

[60] Meantime there were nobles and chiefs of the province of Connacht in banishment and exiled from their territory by the English, besides those who were in amity and friendship with O Domhnaill. Many of the nobles and of the common people came to O Domhnaill to complain to him of their hardships and great sufferings. With reason, since he was their pillar of support, their bush of shelter, and their shield of protection against every trouble. Moreover, he kept their nobles and chiefs in his company and society. Besides, he gave entertainment throughout his territory in his farm-houses and land-holdings to the wretched poor people, to the inhabitants and to the weak and feeble. At the time that he received them into his territory he ordered his people generally to distribute aid in herds and flocks, young cattle and corn to them, with a view to their dwelling in and inhabiting their lands once more. Then Tibbot Burke, son of Walter Ciotach, son of John, son of Oliver, like the others, came to O Domhnaill to complain of his great hardships, and other nobles besides him. Their complaints and accusations were painful to him, and he promised to set them free from the bondage and slavery in which they were if he could, and to restore them to their patrimony again. Wherefore he ordered his soldiers and mercenaries and the free people of his territory to march with the nobles of whom we have already spoken into the territory to support them against their enemies. They did as he ordered them. They went with the nobles to the province of Meadhbh, and set to prey and plunder the English and every one who was in agreement and friendship with them. They were at this business from September to December.

[61] As for O Domhnaill, after resting for a long time as we have said, he brought his forces together in the month of December exactly, and went into the province of Meadhbh. The road he went by was across the Sligo and Trá Eóchaille,  p.115 and through Hy Fiachrach of the Moy, over the Moy itself to the territory of Amhalgadh, son of Fiachrach, son of Eochaidh Muighmeadhoin. The race who inhabited it then was different from the races whose property it was from remote time. Burke was the name of the family inhabiting it then. Their original stock was French, and they had come from English territory to that place, and it was by the power of the English they had first got possession of the territory; yet they were hated by the English no less than the Irish were. Mac William Burke was the chief title of the lord of the land, but none had been appointed for some time as they were overpowered by the English. There were many chiefs and eligible princes amongst them, but they did not agree about the title, for each one thought that to himself belonged the headship and lordship of the territory. They came, both small and great, at the call of O Domhnaill when he came to the territory, and it was proper for all to come, for the Cenél Conaill had given it over to them long before under tribute, though it was not levied for a time owing to the cruelty and severity of the English and the greatness of their strength and power. The nobles who were in contention with each other for the chieftaincy were William Burke of Shrule, the senior of them all; David of the Heath; Rickard, son of the Devil of the Hook; Oliver, son of John, son of Oliver; Edmund, son of Thomas of the Plain, from Cong; Tibbot of the Ships, son of Rickard of the Iron; John, son of Rickard, son of John of the Termon and Tibbot, s. of Walter Ciotach, s. of John, s. of Oliver.

[62] There came to that same meeting, like the rest, to O Domhnaill, the chiefs and barons of the country, Mac Costello (Seaán Dubh), MacJordan, i.e. Edmund of the Plain, and Mac Domhnaill the Galloglass, i.e. Marcus, son of the Abbot, and MacMorris, i.e. Edmund, and O Máille, i.e. Eóghan. It was by consultation among these and by election that a chieftain used to be inaugurated over the country, and he was called by the title of Mac William on the rath of Eas Caoide, and it was MacTibbot used to proclaim him. When all these  p.117 nobles had assembled, as we have said, to Aodh O Domhnaill in the same place, Seán Óg O Doherty formed (as he was ordered to do), four lines of troops back to back encircling the liss and the warrior-fort. Eighteen hundred of his soldiers and mercenaries around the royal rath were the first company; O Doherty himself and O Boyle, Tadhg Óg, with the infantry of Tír Conaill outside them, in the second circle; the three Mac Suibhnes with their galloglasses outside them; the men of Connacht with their muster outside them all; O Domhnaill himself with his chiefs and nobles in a close circle on the rampart of the rath, and no one of the nobles or gentle men dared approach him in the rath but whomsoever he ordered to be called to him in turn. He proceeded then to consider and forecast with the chiefs who were with him what to do with the nobles in reference to the title for which they were in contention and dispute. He called to him the barons and chiefs of the territory in their order to ask them one by one which of the nobles he should appoint to the chieftaincy of the district. MacDomhnaill, MacMorris, and O Máille said with one voice that it was right that the senior, William Burke, should be styled chief, as their custom was to appoint the elder in preference to the younger. MacCostello and MacJordan, said that it was fitting that Tibbot, son of Walter Ciotach, son of John, son of Oliver, should be styled chief, for he was strong and vigorous by day and by night at home and abroad, whether he had a few or had many with him.

[63] When O Domhnaill had pondered well, he resolved in the end to confer the chieftainship of the territory on Tibbot, son of Walter Ciotach, and he ordered Mac Tibbot to proclaim him Mac William. This was done as he commanded, for Tibbot was called by the name in presence of the forces publicly, though there were others of his race older in years and greater in repute than he. Yet it was he that had come first to O Domhnaill, in exile and banishment from his territory, and he had promised to restore him to his inheritance if he could. Besides, he was in the flower of his  p.119 age and dexterity in arms to meet the suffering and hardships of the war in which he was, and, moreover, this Tibbot was of that family the most hated by the English, and the Irish would have less suspicion of him because he was so. Oliver, son of John, and Edmond, son of Thomas of the Plain, and John, son of Rickard, son of John of the Termon, were seized and put in fetters by Aodh O Domhnaill until they were brought to Tír Conaill. He put hostages and pledges from some of the chiefs, who had sought for the chieftaincy, in the hands of Tibbot after he was inaugurated in it. After celebrating Christmas in the barony of Kilmaine and the Brees of Clanmorris O Domhnaill went next across the Moy of Tír Awley to Uí Fiachrach, and he appointed a chief over that territory. He conferred the title on Tadhg, son of Tadhg Riach, son of Eóghan O Dowda. It was O Domhnaill who gave the title of Ó Ceallaigh to Ferdorcha, son of Ceallach, son of Domhnall, son of Aodh na gCailleach; and of MacDiarmada of Magh Luirg to Conor, son of Tadhg, son of Eóghan; and of MacDonncha of Tirerrill to Maurice the Blind, son of Tadhg; and of MacDonncha of Corran to Rury, son of Aodh; and of O Hara Riach to Felim, son of Cú Caisil. There was nothing ultra vires in that, for the ancestors of these were always under rent and tax to Cenél Conaill, and it was appropriate therefore that it should be O Domhnaill who would set them up in their inheritances and inaugurate them with their titles, as we have mentioned. It was on a different occasion he did that. Besides, he restored O Ruairc and MacDiarmada to their patrimony after they had been banished by the English, and not those alone, but every one of the Irish of the province of Connacht who had separated himself from the English, he did the same for them.


6. The Fifth Year, 1596

[64] After completing the aforesaid actions, O Domhnaill departed with his army across the Sligeach north-eastwards on the 15th of January, in the beginning of the year 1596, and he went across the Dubh, the Drowes, and the Saimer northwards. He remained after that in his own country without leaving it up to the beginning of summer. It was in that May precisely that a certain nobleman came from the King of Spain, Philip III. Alonzo Cobos was the nobleman's name. The reason why he came to Ireland was to confer with and get information from the Irish, for the Gaels of Fodhla were friendly to and united with the King of Spain on account of their having come from Spain long before, and a number of learned men and historians of the Irish had set down in remembrance and recollection for the King the doings and history of the sons of Mil, and besides, the people that were driven into exile by the English from the island of Erin, after their patrimony had been filched from them, used to go to complain of their hardship to him and his ancestors for a long time. The messenger, however, came, as we have said. The course he steered was westward, keeping the shore of Erin to the starboard hand until he landed in Tír Bóghaine in the harbour of Killybegs precisely. He received a welcome there from the nobles of the territory when they got news of him, and some of them went to guide him through Bearnas Mór until he came to Lifford, where O Domhnaill then was. He was entertained very hospitably, as was fitting, for the space of three days and three nights, and he set to inquire about the history of the war which he had heard the Irish had been waging against the English. They related it to him then. He said it was to inquire and get information he had come by order of the King, and he could not go to where O Néill was nor delay any longer  p.123 owing to haste, for he was afraid the English, hearing of his coming to Ireland, would send a fleet to intercept him. When O Domhnaill knew that his statement was true and the danger in which he was, he wrote by him to the King on his own part, and on behalf of O Néill, and the Irish generally. The purport of the letter was this: to request aid in men and a supply of arms and various weapons against their foes, and to rescue them from the bondage in which they were held by their enemies always (taking their patrimony from them and perverting them from the Roman Catholic faith, which St. Patrick had preached to their elders and ancestors, and which they held for long ages), and that they would be subject to him and to his successors always. The messenger then prepared to depart, and left his blessing. O Domhnaill accompanied him on his way, and he did not part from him till the next day, and he sent with him some of his soldiers on the road to protect him from robbers and kernes till he passed over the above mentioned Bearnas; this is an intricate mountain, difficult to pass over, and it was a place of refuge for robbers and rogues, robbing and plundering until Aodh Ruadh banished them, for he did not allow robbery or plundering in the country since he was inaugurated in the chieftaincy till he left the island, wherefore he was called the legal executioner on account of the number of robbers and thieves and of every kind of malefactors too whom he had executed. As for Alonzo Cobos, he came to the port where he had left his ship and embarked in it, and O Domhnaill's people gave him plenty of the flesh meat of fat hinds and whitefleeced sheep in the ship. He was waiting for the east wind whenever it should come. At last he set sail with the first breeze of wind from the north-east, keeping the shore of Ireland on the port hand steering due south-west until he reached Spain.

[65] As for O Domhnaill, he was at rest up to the beginning of June. It was not long afterwards when a messenger came from Mac William to him to tell him that a war-general of the Queen, Sir John Norris, had come to the borders of his country,  p.125 having with him a great army, in order that he might subject the whole province of Connacht at once, wholly and entirely, to the English Sovereign. The chiefs and nobles who were with the General's army were the Earl of Thomond, Donncha, son of Conor, son of Donncha O Brien, with all his troops, and the Earl of Clanrickard, Ulick son of Rickard Sasanach, son of Ulick of the Heads with his force too. It was commonly said then that for a very long time there had not been gathered and collected in Ireland on behalf of the English Sovereign so great a number as was in that army. O Domhnaill did not neglect or slight the news which was reported to him, for his forces were in complete readiness to go into the province of Connacht even before the messengers came. Letters and despatches were written by O Domhnaill to the Irish of the province, and he summoned them to meet him to the west, where he heard the forces of the strangers had encamped.

[66] Wherefore O Domhnaill with his army marched across the Erne westwards, across the Sligeach, keeping the extremity of Sliav Gamh on his right, through Leyny and the territory of the Gailenga, until at last he came to the rendezvous where Sir John Norris was threatening and boasting that he would go plunder the territory if they did not give up hostages and pledges. As soon as O Domhnaill's messengers went to the Irish of the province, as we have said, they came without delay or hesitation at this call. First came from the west O Ruairc, Brian Óg, son of Brian na Múrtha, son of Brian Ballach, son of Eóghan, with the fighting men of Uí Briúin. O Conor Ruadh came, Aodh, son of Turloch Ruadh, from the border of Magh Aoi, east of the ford of Slisean. O Ceallaigh (Ferdorcha) came from the south-east of Uí Maine, west of the Shannon. Mac Diarmada (Conor Óg) came from Magh Luirg of the Daghda, south-east of Corrshliav na Seghsa. There came also those who inhabited the territory from the Corrsliav to the sea in the northern part of the province, i.e. the two MacDonnchas, and the two O Haras, and O Dowda. After the Irish had assembled at one place they halted opposite Sir John Norris  p.127 on the banks of the river called the Robe. There was much parleying to and fro for peace and amity between them, but it was not so in truth, they were spying and circumventing and deceiving each other if they could. Mac William too, Tibbot, son of Walter Ciotach, with the whole of his forces, was at this gathering of O Domhnaill's. They remained for a while in this way facing each other, until the English had consumed their provisions. When their supplies were exhausted they resolved to leave their encampment, since they could effect nothing against the Irish. They did so. They turned back, and the mind of John Norris was not at ease, for it was not his custom to withdraw from the enemy's territories in this way. O Domhnaill and the Irish also went away to their homes merry and cheerful.

[67] When the Council in Dublin saw that the bravery and valour of the Irish had grown and increased, and that they had a knowledge of the use of arms and of the management of war, they were much afraid of them. Another reason too why they feared was the union of friendship and sympathy with the King of Spain and the coming of the aforesaid ship from Spain, as was reported to them. The plan adopted by the Senate and Council in consequence was to send messengers to O Néill and O Domhnaill, and to propose and offer peace and friendship to them. The messengers chosen by the Senate to discuss the proposition of peace between them and the Irish were the Earl of Ormonde, Thomas Butler by name (the family to which he belonged had come from England; he was weak through old age then) and the Archbishop of Cashel, Miler Magrath. They went on the errand until they came to the town which is on the edge of the strand of Baile Mic Buain called Dundalk. They sent messengers to the place where O Néill was to tell him the business they had come about. O Néill sent the same message to O Domhnaill. He came over with a troop of cavalry to the place where O Néill was. They both went to Faughart Muirtheimhne, opposite Dundalk to the north. The Earl of whom we have spoken  p.129 and the Bishop came to the summit of the same hill. They told the princes the business on which they had come, and said peace would be better than strife, and they would all reproach one another if the peace was not made. They stated to them the terms which the Council offered in requital for the peace, viz. to forfeit the province of Ulster to them except the tract of territory from Dundalk to the Boyne which was cut off from it long before by the English, and that the English should not encroach beyond the boundary except the English of Carrickfergus, who were allowed for buying and bargaining always, and the English of Carlingford and Newry in the same way, and moreover, that they should not put stewards or governors over them, nor in any such way levy rents or tributes, but only the same tribute that was adjudged on their ancestors, to be presented by them to Dublin, and that hostages or pledges should not be demanded from them beyond this; and that the Irish in the province of Connacht who had risen in the confederate war should have similar terms.

[68] After the Earl had set forth his statement and proposal, O Néill and O Domhnaill and the other chief men of the province who were with them rose up from where they were seated and went to the other side of the hill. They proceeded to take counsel and to recount the deeds of the English since they first seized on the island up to that time. This was easy for them, for they were remembered by them and by O Domhnaill in particular, for he had been listening to them during the four years and three months he was in the prison in Dublin; and that was the tale he remembered best from the captives cast into prison along with him, and he had them in recollection and remembrance; and he said that the promises of the English were always vain and deceitful, and that it was by false promises thay had stolen their patrimony from the Irish of the province of Leinster and of the province of Munster, and not that merely, but whomsoever else they deprived of their land in Ireland it was by fraud and a false peace they obtained it. It is thus they will act towards you  p.131 when your implements of war and conflict are few and your battle-ranks thin; and when one by one the Irish who have risen in alliance with you heretofore will be enticed away from you they will get whatever they ask, for abandoning you. The English will play false with you here, and they will attack you when they find you unprepared, unready, short of arms and armour, of soldiers and champions, if peace be made with them and no securities or hostages given by them for fulfilling to you what they have promised you. Another thing, too; you will throw back his friendship at the King of Spain if peace be made, and it will be disgraceful and shameful for you to practise deceit on him, who never tells a lie and who will fulfill what he has promised; and it would be a great dishonesty also for you to entertain any suspicion of him: and, besides, you will never again be helped by him, when you will need it, after the English turn on you. Some of the chief men commended what he said and agreed with the resolutions which he proposed. There was another party of them who were eager to make peace, and they said it was fitting to make peace, and they should be sorry if it was not made. Alas! what they said proved true, though later, for there were many women and children and veterans who suffered death by cold and hunger on account of that war. Besides, there were many proud heroes, and leaders in war, and freeborn nobles who met with an untimely fate on both sides in consequence of the same war. Yet, whether it was good or evil that came of it, peace had to be hindered at the suggestion and the command of O Domhnaill. The Earl and the Bishop returned to Dublin and told the Lord Deputy and Council how they had been refused peace and how the Irish had answered them.

[69] Thereupon the Senate sent their news to England to Queen Elizabeth. Anger and wrath seized her. A large number of men was assembled and collected by her to be sent to Ireland, with proper equipment for every need too, so that there were no less than twenty thousand mercenaries and soldiers ready for the Irish war. The Governor and the chief  p.133 who was over the province of Connacht then, i.e. Sir Richard Bingham, and his kinsmen were removed and summoned to Dublin, and from thence sent to England. There came, in the month of December precisely, another in the office of Governor who was better and more faithful to his promises to the Irish. Conyers Clifford was his name. A knight famous by repute, he was noble by blood, a man who bestowed jewels and wealth. This was an advantage to him, for a great number of the chiefs of the province of Connacht went over to him on account of his good qualities. The first who came to him was O Conor Ruadh, Aodh, son of Turloch Ruadh, son of Tadhg Buidhe, and Mac Diarmada of Magh Luirg, Conor son of Tadhg; so that they became friendly and fixed terms with him. O Conor Sligo, too, i.e. Donncha, son of Cathal Óg, son of Tadhg, son of Cathal Óg, came from England in the harvest precisely, having been appointed by the Queen to the command of many hundred troops and soldiers full ready to bring under her power those who were near him of the men of Ulster and Connacht. He came to Connacht immediately to fight in alliance with the English against Cenél Conaill and wage war on them, for his illwill against that race was great ever since he withdrew his obedience from them, through force and pressure of the English, and he was not subject to them as he should be; and that he should be subject to O Domhnaill need cause no surprise, for his ancestor Brian, son of Eochaidh was so to Niall, who was younger than the children of Mongfinn; and it was by Fiachra, son of Eochaidh, that Conall Gulban was fostered, and his patrimony was in the province of Connacht until he left it by guile when he seized the portion of territory north of the Saimer to Loch Foyle on the east; and after taking it by force he divided it among his kinsmen, and gave the cantred which was from the Blackwater on the north-west, to Call Caoin on Loch Erne to Cairbre son of Niall, his brother; and as the family of Brian, son of Eochaidh, inhabited the territory after the failing of Cenél Cairbre all but a few, the Cenél Conaill put them under  p.135 tribute and hosting to themselves because the land had belonged to their kinsmen. It was no wonder, therefore, that O Conor Sligo should be loyal in friendship and amity with O Domhnaill and be subject to him without opposition, for the same was due by all the people of Connacht besides, since the race of Niall, son of Eochaidh, had become supreme over the Gaels long before, and to them belonged the sovereignty of the island.

[70] As for O Conor of whom we have spoken, when he came to the province of Connacht his supporters and friends welcomed him, and his followers and trusted people were filled with pride and arrogance, and with anger and self-will, in consequence of his coming, and they proceeded to boast and bluster, to insult and threaten the Cenél Conaill. They were called the O Harts, and they were loyal to his representative always. When O Domhnaill heard of their coming against him and their boasting and their having entered into an alliance with the English to oppose him, he did not wait for the assembling of all his forces, but he went across the Sligeach westwards, with his soldiers and mercenaries, and plundered O Conor's subjects and friends, of whom we have spoken, in every place they were in dwellings ensconced in thickets and in dark obscure places so that he did not leave a single beast with them; and he disturbed no one in the country but them, though he had spared them up to that, on account of their weakness and poverty, until their insolent language, enmity, and hostility, which they could not conceal, hastened this plundering on them. O Domhnaill pitched his camp after a while in Bréifne of Connacht, to the east of Sliav Dá Én. He remained there until his forces came to him from every place where they were.


7. The Sixth Year, 1597

[71] After assembling in that way at the end of January, 1597, they marched through the province south-eastwards to the cantred of Tirerrill, from thence to Corran, through the level part of the Plain of Connacht, to Clann Conway in the territory of Maine, son of Eochaidh. When he came to the middle of Uí Maine he let his active marauders spread and extend themselves over the district of Callow and to the southern part of the country, and they returned with their herds of prey and beasts, with their loot and captured cattle, at the end of the day, to Athenry, where O Domhnaill was. O Domhnaill invited Mac William Burke (Tibbot), to him there. He came at the summons of O Domhnaill. That town was a short distance east of Ath Cliath of Maree. It was an impregnable fort, and attack on it was not easy. However, the army attacked the stronghold and they put fires and firebrands to the gates on each side, so that the gates of jointed wood of the beautiful fortress were set on fire on the outside. They took with them very large ladders and pliant grapnels ?, and threw them against the walls and ramparts of the place, so that they mounted to the strong, lofty battlements of the solid fortress on every side. Some of them jumped from the parapets, so that they were in the streets standing, after many of their brave soldiers had been wounded and slain. They threw open the gates for the army afterwards, so that they came to the middle of the town. They set to pull down the storehouses and the well secured apartments and the enclosed chambers which were in the fortress, until they took all the treasures and wealth that was in them and they destroyed the city immediately. Great would have been the slaughter by the Queen's people in taking that royal stronghold from the party who had stormed the town if the latter had been the defenders. However, it would have been hard and difficult to contend with the man who was in command or with his people, as long as  p.139 the Lord and his own good fortune were on his side. There was taken away from that town a countless quantity of every sort of treasure, of wealth, of brass and iron, of clothing and dress, and of everything needed by those who dwelt in and inhabited it, which they had plundered and collected from every side long before that.

[72] O Domhnaill with his forces remained in the town that night. They left the place the next day, after plundering it. They sent out their marauders to plunder Clanrickard on both sides of the river. It was plundered and scoured by some of that marauding party from Lara to Magh Seancomhladh. The district from Athenry and Rathgorgin westward to Rinvyle, to Maree, and to the gate of Galway was burnt and wasted by the remainder of them. Teach Brighde was also burnt; it is opposite the same city, i.e. Galway, which is so called from the river in which Gaillimh, daughter of Breasal, was drowned. They made bivouacs and bothies, field kitchens and feeding places, they rested and slept sound that night between Oranmore and Galway at Lynch's Causeway. The next day O Domhnaill went with his army to the Monastery of Cnoc, at the gate of Galway, for the purpose of a conference with the townspeople to see if he could obtain an exchange of their foreign goods and precious jewels from them for some of the plunder which they had, for it was not easy for his people to collect and drive with them to their own lands all the flocks and herds which they had; and besides, he had not meant to return to his own country (were it not for the great booty his army had) until he came to Gort of Inis Guaire, in Cenél Aedha na hEchtgha. As he did not obtain what he wished from the people of the town, he determined to turn back, and he came through the very middle of the province of Connacht without trouble, fear, apprehension, opposition, until he came across the Sligeach, the Dubh, the Drowes, and the Saimer, northwards.

[73] Tidings of O Conor Sligo will be told here for a while: a large force was gathered by him of English and Irish to  p.141 go to Sligo in the month of February, very soon after the beginning of spring. O Domhnaill happened to be encamped at Calry, to the east of Sligo, ready and waiting for them. He made a vigorous attack on them before they reached Sligo. They fled before him and ran off, all but a small number who remained behind at Trá Eóchaille. A large number of them were wounded and drowned. Moreover, a son of Mac William Burke, i.e. Rickard, son of William, son of Rickard, son of Oliver, was killed, and others who are not specially mentioned. O Conor returned, and his mind was not at ease because he had gone on that expedition. O Domhnaill came home, and he let his forces separate and scatter that they might get rid of their fatigue; but he left hirelings and mercenaries in the province of Connacht, in readiness for war against O Conor and the English, and Niall Garbh O Domhnaill, one of his own near relatives, in command of them. They set to invade and destroy the Irish septs, who before that had joined in alliance with the English and O Conor, until they brought back again a great number of them. First came MacDiarmada (i.e. Conor), the chief of Magh Luirg, which is near the Corrshliav of the Seaghais, to the south-east so that he bound his friendship and peace with Aodh O Domhnaill a second time and made submission to him, as was the custom of the man who held his place always. The chiefs of the peoples north of the mountain to the sea did the same, and gave their hostages and pledges to O Domhnaill for the fulfilment of all they promised.

[74] It was at this time, i.e. in the month of April, that a ship came from Spain with a small crew to report on the Irish. It came to the territory of Conall, son of Niall, to the harbour of Killybegs specifically, in the western part of Tír Boghaine, to the east of the glen which the famous Colum blessed. They came from that to Donegal, where O Domhnaill was. They were glad to meet each other, and they were entertained honourably by O Domhnaill, and he gave them presents of hounds and horses, and they returned back and took with them an account of the country.


[75] The doings of Mac William Burke, will now be told: he was banished from his territory by the violence of his own people and by the hatred of the English, for O Conor Sligo established an alliance and friendship between his son-in-law (the son of Mac William Burke), i.e. Tibbot na Long, son of Rickard an Iarainn, son of David, son of Edmund, son of Ulick, and the Governor, Sir Conyers Clifford; so that Mac William, Tibbot, son of Walter Ciotach, was driven and expelled from his patrimony by the nobles with their levies, so that he had to go to Cenél Conaill, son of Niall. After he had come to where O Domhnaill was to complain of his sufferings to him, he remained with him till the month of June. O Domhnaill made a hosting at the end of June to the province of Connacht, and he went over the Moy of Tirawley. The district was not able to offer any resistance, and they gave their hostages to him. He gave them to MacWilliam. O Domhnaill went back, having left the country under control and obedience to MacWilliam, and he left Rudraighe O Domhnaill (his own brother and future prince of Cenél Conaill) with him to strengthen him against his enemies, and a large body of foot soldiers and mercenaries with him. Tibbot na Long was envious of MacWilliam concerning the chieftaincy, and, besides, he was no way pleased about O Domhnaill having appointed him in preference to himself. O Conor Sligo bore just as much ill-will towards Cenél Conaill and MacWilliam, so a violent desire and longing seized both of them to avenge their wrongs and injuries on MacWilliam and on Cenél Conaill especially. Shortly after the departure of O Domhnaill they gathered a great body of English and Irish and attacked MacWilliam and banished him from the territory with his soldiers, for he was no match for the great numbers opposed to him. As he proceeded with his soldiers to quit the country, they drove before them the flocks and herds of the country, with the inhabitants, across the Moy of Tirawley, and through Tír Fhiachrach of the Moy, until they came to Sliav Gamh before night. They went marching over the mountain all through the night.


[76] As for the Governor, Conyers Clifford, when he sent O Conor and the army of which we have spoken, to banish Mac William from his territory, he summoned to him the greatest number of soldiers he could. The two Earls, who were in the province, came there, the Earl of Thomond, Donncha, son of Conor, son of Donncha O Briain, and the Earl of Clanrickard, Ulick, son of Rickard Sasanach, son of Ulick na gCeann, and his son Rickard, Baron of Dunkellin, and Murcha, son of Murcha, son of Diarmaid O Briain, Baron of Inchiquin, all these with their forces. When they had come where the Governor was, they all went against Mac William and his forces by the road on which they could not turn aside and on which he was certain to find them, i.e. to the castle, which is on the Avonmore, east of Sliav Gamh and west of Sliav Dá Én. Collooney is its name. That place was a common highway and a well-known pass. The Governor stayed in the castle that night, and a large body of chosen soldiers with arms and armour—there were not less than fifteen hundred—in readiness against the Irish. It was told to Mac William and Rudhraighe O Domhnaill that the Governor was coming against them on the road they could not avoid. Wherefore they resolved, as they had crossed before morning over the top of the mountain-slope of which we have spoken, to push on to the river opposite, near the castle, and to send away their flocks and herds, their servants and recruits, and the unarmed crowd, by a safer road than that, a long distance from the castle. As they were but a few persons in comparison with the foreigners they did not attack them, but crossed over the river unnoticed by them, a thing they did not expect; for they had thought to obtain safety and security for their flocks and herds and servants, whilst they themselves went close to the castle, facing the foreign army, to serve as a screen against attack for their own people. What they wished, however, was not what happened to them, but they crossed the river and reached the other side without being noticed or heard.  p.147 Then the Governor and his foreigners rose up from sleep owing to the din and the tumult of the army crossing the river. It was a great sorrow to the Governor that they should have passed by before he came to grips with them. Then they heard the bellowing of the cattle and of the oxen, and the noise of the senseless animals responding to each other, and the loud cries of their drovers and herdsmen in the early dawn of the morning to the east of them. They sent their cavalry in troops and squadrons in the direction of the herds to see if they could overtake them. They seized a quantity of the cattle, and some escaped from them. A great number of the servants and of the drovers were wounded. Their own army could not interpose or protect them owing to the force and greater number of the army opposed to them. The Irish went away in this manner until they crossed the Erne, northwards, and the English did not follow them after they passed them by the first time, as we have said. The Governor returned, and his mind was not at ease that his enemies escaped him, after he had caught them small in numbers and attacked them in a very tight place as he had done. This happened on the 29th of June.

[77] A new Lord Deputy came to Erin in the beginning of June exactly, i.e. Lord Borough, Thomas, was his name. Many and various were the soldiers for battle and companies for fight and strife that he brought with him. When he came he received the King's sword, and Sir William Russell, who was Lord Deputy for three years, was replaced by him. The general command of the war was also taken by him from Sir John Norris, and he himself assumed these dignities. An order was given by this Lord Deputy to the Governor of the province of Connacht to go with his forces in full muster against Cenél Conaill, to the western part of the province of Ulster, to avenge the wrongs and enmity of the  p.149 English on them. This command was not treated negligently by the Governor, and 'twould be great satisfaction to his mind if it should fall to his lot to wreak his cruelty and vengeance on the race of Conall Gulban, son of Niall, beyond all others. He assembled and mustered all the English and Irish of the province that were obedient to him, and arranged to meet them at the monastery of Boyle, on the third of August. The first who came to that muster was the Earl of Thomond, Donncha, son of Conor, son of Donncha O Briain; he was lord of the rough district of Lughaidh Menn, son of Oenghus Tírech, which is to the north of Limerick, for it was that Lughaidh who separated that portion of territory of which we have spoken, from the province of Connacht, and his descendants in succession inhabited it. He came with the levies of Thomond with him. The Earl of Clanrickard came to the same meeting with the full levies of his territory, and his son Rickard, son of Ulick, son of Rickard Sasanach, of the race of William the Conqueror. They were from France originally by descent, and the race came from England to that place, and from them the district has its name. There came also Tibbot na Long, son of Rickard an Iarainn, with his forces; O Conor Sligo, Donncha, son of Cathal Óg, son of Tadhg, son of Cathal Óg; and O Conor Ruadh, Aodh, son of Turloch Ruadh, with all their forces. The Deputy sent, besides, a body of his troops to Galway, that they might bring large guns to him to the Saimer.

[78] When the army was brought together to one place, there were at the monastery of the Seghais twenty-two companies of infantry and ten squadrons of cavalry of chosen troops, with their strong coats of mail and their stout, long, broad-shouldered rivetted spears, and their loud-voiced sharp-sighted guns, and their slender, sharp, hard-tempered swords, with beautiful firmly-secured hafts, and their curve-crested hollow helmets, so that they were full sure there was not in the province of Ulster a power to cope with them on account of the outlandishness and strangeness of their arms, armour, and weapons, for the Irish had but few firearms then and did  p.151 not wear armour like them. These forces then marched to Sligo, and from that to the Erne. They encamped that night on the bank of the Saimer. They determined to cross the river opposite them at early dawn the next day, for they were sure that there was not a single ford from Cael Uisce to Assaroe that had not a guard of O Domhnaill's on it. When they had determined on that plan they went to Athculuain in a heavy, numerous mass, and they poured in at one time and in one body to attack it. The guards, who were there defended the ford against them as best they could, though they were not numerous enough to defend it against the force that had come against them. With vigour and strength they set to receive the enemy till the large army crossed the ford in spite of them in the end. However, one great personage was killed and drowned from amongst the foreign army, namely the Baron of Inchiquin, Murcha, son of Murcha, son of Diarmaid, son of Murcha O Briain, for he was between his people and the deep part of the ford, to protect them against danger, when he was struck by a bullet in the armpit, exactly at the opening of his plate-armour, so that he was pierced through from one armpit to the other, and though there were four or five thousand men about him they could not protect or assist him, for he fell from his horse in the deep part of the ford, so that the nobleman died in this wise. The army did not wait to pick up his body nor to bury it as was fitting, but they marched forward in battle order till they came to Sith Aodha, on the bank of the cataract. The day of the week was Saturday. They encamped there, and some of them stayed in the monks' monastery on the bank of the Unshinn. They remained so from shortly before midday on Saturday till the following Monday morning.

[79] As for the fleet, of which we spoke in the beginning, that was summoned by the Governor to come to him from Galway, those entrusted with the burden of that expedition set sail from Galway to bring and convey the loud-voiced guns, enormous and incomprehensible to break down and  p.153 destroy the fortresses and strong castles of their enemies. They loaded the ships with everything needed by the army. They sailed, leaving the northern part of the province to starboard till they came to the Erne, on Sunday precisely. They made port opposite the island of Saimer, and they landed all their cargo both of food and ale and of everything they needed while they would be besieging the castle in the island, on Monday. They hauled the artillery on shore and trained it directly on the castle, which was on the bank of Ath Senaigh. The forces that were in the monastery came, and all formed up on the summit of Sith Aodha around the artillery. Then they proceeded to cast their heavy cannon balls and their loud-sounding fiery bullets, so that their report and loud thunderings were heard at a great distance. They sent a countless number of the choicest of their soldiers to the foot of the town with implements to pull down the wall, and with strong iron armour round the bodies of the heroes, and with glittering helmets on their heads. There was a bright covering of round, broad shields of steel all around outside to defend them against the shots of the impetuous party of heroes who were in the castle. They were in that contest without hesitation or cessation for the space of three days and three nights, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. However, the attack which the foreigners made was of no avail, and it was better for them that they had not come on that expedition, for there were poured from the castle on them showers of bright fiery balls from the well planted straight-firing guns and from the costly muskets. Also stone showers of rough-pointed rocks, and heavy, massive stones, with beams and stakes, which happened to be on the battlements of the castle, so that their well made curved shields and their shining helmets were neither shelter nor protection for them, they were crushed and killed within their iron armour by the stout fusilade directed against them. When the soldiers were greatly massacred in this way, they could not endure to stay any further to be slaughtered. They  p.155 turned their backs to their enemies. They were put to flight into the camp. The people in the castle continued to shoot after them, so that many were slain, both reckoned and unreckoned. Some of them escaped severely wounded.

[80] It happened that O Domhnaill was short of soldiers, and weak in numbers on the Saturday the fierce, vengeful multitude entered his territory. His forces assembled and collected to him before mid-day on Monday, for they were never slow to come at his call whenever he asked them to come to meet him. First came Aodh Maguidhir with all his forces. Then came O Ruairc, Brian Óg, son of Brian, son of Brian Ballach, son of Eóghan, with his levies. From the time they came to O Domhnaill no quiet or peace day or night was allowed to the Governor or to his people. O Domhnaill's force drove those on the outskirts of the Connacht camp into the middle of it, and those in the middle to the outside, and fear and terror did not allow them to put their horses or cattle to graze beyond the boundary of the camp outside owing to the great straits they were placed in by their enemies. There was skirmishing and shooting every day between the cavalry on both sides for the space of the three days that the English force was besieging the castle. Many were wounded and hurt on both sides, here and there, during that time; but yet more of the English force were wounded than of the Irish. Of the more important nobles among them who were wounded then was O Conor Sligo, Donncha, son of Cathal Óg. The English cavalry was turned back at last on the third day to the camp, so that they were mixed in confusion with the foot-soldiers. The forces then separated from each other, and it was not through love they parted but fear of each other dividing them.

[81] When the English saw the bravery and courage of the Irish grow and increase beyond them, as they had not expected, they were greatly grieved at having come on this expedition, on account of the number of their heroes  p.157 they left behind round the castle, and at the army of O Domhnaill on the other side attacking them in the narrow corner in which they were confined by their enemies, so that it was not in their power to retreat towards the ford across which they had first come, or to attempt any other ford from Loch Erne, the daughter of Burg, to the ocean. When the English army reached their camp they did not sleep pleasantly, nor did they pass the night agreeably, through fear and terror of Cenél Conaill, for the English were certain that it was more likely they should be destroyed all together than come off safe. The Governor, the Earls, and the nobles of whom we have spoken sat in council from the beginning of Wednesday night to the early dawn of Thursday morning debating what they should do in the great danger before them. On this they resolved in the end, when the bright light of the day shone on them, to go forward from where they were, from the hill of Sith Aodha, across the river, up the bank of Assaroe, at a point that was no usual passage for people up to that, save when champions or strong men would cross it in the drought of summer to prove their strength and courage. That was right, for the name of the place where they entered the river was The Champions' Path. There was, however, a great power urging them on then, i.e. necessity and fear, so that they poured on together in one violent, thick crowd to the river in front of them. Such was the excitement of the advance guard and the rearguard that they both crowded in on the main body of the army, the former through terror and ignorance of the river in front, the latter in fear and trembling of their enemies pursuing them. They left behind their great guns and their artillery and everything they had which they could not carry away, both food and drink, and every other necessary too. They then presented their breasts to the passage of that rough, strange, unfrequented pass, and such was the strength and power of the current of the ancient river (as was usual with it), and the unknown dangers of the black slimy ridges of rock as a general crossing for a great host, and, moreover,  p.159 from the weakness and failure of the English from want of a proper supply of food, many of the men, women, steeds, and horses were drowned, and the force of the stream bore them into the depths of Assaroe, and thence westwards to the ocean.

[82] When the people in the castle saw the army escaping thus they set to shoot at them as fast as they could. They were answered by the party who were in the van and had reached the bank on the other side. They began to fight in defence of the crowd that was in the rear, so that the noise and report and the echo were heard throughout the land anear, and it seemed to them that it was thunder and the conflict of the invisible elements which they were hearing from the upper air and from the depths of the firmament. When O Domhnaill heard the shooting in the engagement and the echo of the contest, he rose from his tent immediately and the army arose too. They donned their weapons of war speedily and set off towards the river to fall upon the English as quick as they could engage them. They did not come to grips with them until they were on the other side of the river. Many of the rear of the army were wounded and drowned, and they little heeded that as their nobles, leaders, and chiefs of war, their dignitaries and important people had escaped. They were glad to carry away their lives from the straight, deep-wounding shots of the guard of the castle, and over the strong turbulent stream, over which heroes had never come before them without stumbling and death.

[83] O Domhnaill set out in pursuit of them across the river, but however that was not the particular way he took. When the Governor and his army came across the Erne in this way he put his people in order and array. He placed his oxen and horses used for the wains and carts (they were with the army to carry their provisions and their implements also), his attendants and his unarmed people, and every one of those wounded between them and the sea. He was himself with his  p.161 companies of chosen troops, with his soldiers and youths, on the other side, and he threw his musketeers in front as defence and protection for their nobles and chiefs, so that they could not be surrounded or circumvented owing to the perfect way in which they were placed. However, O Domhnaill's people made a fierce attack on them, so that many among them were wounded on this side and that, and horses and men were left behind that day. The English marched on, keeping the sea on their right. A shower of rain fell on them after that, and the intensity of it was unusual. The men delayed in consequence, for it was awkward for the soldiers to use their weapons on account of the heavy rain. This had a greater effect on O Domhnaill's people than on the English on account of their lack of clothing, for they had left behind their cloaks, long hose and shoes, and other parts of their dress, owing to their haste and the urgency of the call to overtake the English. The two armies were engaged in this way in the contest of which we have spoken, taking each other by surprise until they crossed the Drowes and the Dubh to Magh Céitne. As O Domhnaill's people were tired by the pursuit they turned back, and the English escaped to their homes with sorrow and disgrace. But yet they were pleased and glad on account of their escape from the straits in which they were, and they made but little account of those whom they left behind since they themselves had escaped. It was not so with O Domhnaill; he was not satisfied with having humbled them without wreaking full vengeance on them, and he proceeded to lament and despair very much at their escape from him on that occasion. They stayed in Sligo that night. Their first journey on the night of the next day was to the monastery of Boyle and on the third night in the district of Athleague. On the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and on the 15th of August, according to the solar month, the army crossed the Saimer.

[84] When the nobles on both sides had gone to their homes, O Domhnaill and his forces did not pass quietly or slothfully what was before them of that autumn, for whenever any  p.163 oppression or violence was threatened by the English against O Néill (Aodh, son of Ferdorcha), he sent letters and messengers to O Domhnaill to complain of his sufferings to him, and to ask and beseech him to come to his aid and assistance when the English did not get a chance at himself and fear did not allow them to oppress him. The long marches, and swift hostings, and difficult skirmishings which he carried on in the province of Connacht, in his own territory, and each time he went into Tír Eóghain to the assistance of O Néill, would have been painful and hard to any one else. O Domhnaill was not long at rest after the departure of the Governor and of the Earls, as we have related, when messengers came from O Néill to O Domhnaill to tell him that the Lord Deputy (Thomas Lord Borough) and the Earl of Kildare (Henry son of Garrett), with the forces of the Englishmen of Meath and Leinster, were coming to Tír Eóghain at the invitation and instruction of Turloch, son of Henry na nGárthadh, son of Felim Ruadh O Néill; and he sent to him to come with all his forces to aid and strengthen him against his enemies, and he promised besides that whenever again O Domhnaill would require him to come to his aid that he would come to help him without hesitation or delay. When O Domhnaill read the letter he ordered his whole force to assemble from every place to him immediately, for it was not agreeable to him that O Néill should be in such straits without giving him help. This was natural, for it was not often it happened that from both their stocks two sprang who were dearer and more pleasing to each other than these two Aodhs, who were lords and princes over their races at that time. O Domhnaill went soon afterwards to where O Néill was with a large body of his horsemen and of his soldiers with him, and others of them followed him, for he did not delay his departure for them in his haste, fearing lest the English army might come to Tír Eóghain before he would have reached the place where O Néill was.

[85] As for the Lord Deputy and the English of whom we have spoken, they came with a very large powerful, numerous  p.165 army to Drogheda, from that to Dundalk and to Armagh, and they did not stop till they came to the bank of the Blackwater. O Néill and O Domhnaill went with their forces to meet them there. It was not easy to attack the lion's den and griffin's nest that faced them. The Lord Deputy and his army halted and encamped close to the river, for he was sure it would not be easy for him or for his army to advance against them farther. The reception which the Lord Deputy and his people received from the armies of O Néill and O Domhnaill while defending their territory and lands against them was bloody, sharp, wounding, maiming, quick-shooting. All the heroic deeds they did before or after that, in defence of their fatherland against their enemies were as nothing compared with what they ought to have done then if they had only known the many evils that were to come on them afterwards—too tedious to relate here. However, neither calm nor quiet, nor sleep, nor repose, nor siege, nor stay, was allowed them day or night without harassing and shooting at them continually by the Irish, so that uncountable numbers of their noble, high-mettled horsemen, of their destructive, impetuous youths, and of their beautiful foreign horses were killed and destroyed.

[86] One day while they were thus engaged, a great desire seized on the Lord Deputy to go to the summit of the hill that was near, to view and survey the country all round, and it were better for him if he had not gone on that enterprise, for some of the Irish soldiers came face to face with him there, and they made a hard, fierce onset and a daring attack on the Lord Deputy and on the Earl of Kildare and the nobles who were with him, so that the chief officer of the army was slain there, together with a large number of the captains and gentlemen whose names are not remembered or recorded, besides the common soldiers who were killed. The brother of the Lord Deputy's wife too was slain. Some of the people of the Earl of Kildare also were slain, and the Earl himself was wounded. Even the Lord Deputy himself did not escape without being wounded from that encounter. With all their valour  p.167 and stedfastness they were driven in broken rout to the camp, and if it had not been near them, the fugitives would not have reached it alive. It was necessary for the Earl of Kildare to take leave of the Lord Deputy, as he was wounded, and to return home. And when he reached Drogheda he died in that town of the poison and the soreness of the wound. His body was taken to Kildare to be shown to his friends, and was buried by them in the tomb of his predecessors and ancestors with the honour and respect that were meet. As for the Lord Deputy he set off on his return the next day and he reached Armagh, and he was carried on a litter or in a carriage by his faithful followers and his own people that day. He was carried after that to Iubhar Cinn Tragha, and he died there of his wounds. The English army returned home with grief and shame in this way. Cenél Conaill and Cenél Eóghain set off to return to their castles and family strongholds cheerfully and gladly after that victory. O Domhnaill took leave of O Néill, and it was with regret they parted from each other.

[87] Now O Domhnaill thought it long that the English of the province of Connacht were at rest without attack on them and on the people who had entered into alliance with them in the end, though they had made friendship with him after deserting from them at first. Of these was O Conor Ruadh, Aodh, son of Turloch Ruadh. O Domhnaill had enmity towards him, for he had allied himself with the English, though his friend some time before. He reflected how he might ravage his country. This was difficult since the dwelling of that O Conor was very safe and hard to reach, and very near it was a place where he might put his cattle and treasures also beyond the reach of his enemies unless they came on him unawares. O Ruairc had promised him that he would not allow O Domhnaill to plunder him without warning and help from him. O Domhnaill resolved to muster his army and go into the province. He went on, therefore, until he halted to the south-west of Glendallan. He encamped there. This was the deception he practised on  p.169 O Ruairc, to try and plunder O Conor in spite of him: he sent messengers to him to invite him to a meeting at the camp, and to tell him to come to him the next day without any delay whatever. Meantime O Ruairc did not think O Domhnaill would leave the camp there until he would come to him. This was the plan adopted by O Domhnaill after sending his messenger to invite O Ruairc: he left his camp after the middle of the day and went across the Sligeach, southwards, and he did not halt till he came to Corrshliav of the Seghais. He made a short halt there, so that his soldiers might eat some of their rations and rest awhile, and not cross the mountain southwards in the full light of day. When the first darkness of the night, for which they were waiting, prevailed over the daylight, they went forward over the mountain, over the Seghais, through Magh Luirg of the Daghdha, and the level part of Magh Aoi before morning. They sent their marauding parties in the dawn to scatter over the wastes and remote parts of the territory, and they did not leave a single beast from Ath Sliscan to Sliav Baune. They returned after that in triumph with plentiful spoils, as was usual with them. O Ruairc was ashamed that the preying should have been done unknown to him. No less was the chagrin and confusion of the Governor, Sir Conyers Clifford, for the plundering of the country which was under his yoke without putting up a fight even though his death should be the outcome, and he was inclined to go in pursuit of O Domhnaill if fear allowed him. When O Domhnaill and his army came home they rested in merriment and pleasure during the winter season, with tidings of the province of Connacht. No important fact was heard of between them during that time save that O Ruairc made a compact with the Governor aforesaid, Sir Conyers, as a result of the plundering of which we have spoken, and through envy and jealousy of his own brother, Tadhg O Ruairc, for there was no accord between them on account of the division of their patrimony and territory, though they were children of one father.


8. The Seventh Year, 1598

[88] The time when O Ruairc made his alliance with the Governor was at the end of January, 1598. O Domhnaill was not pleased at hearing the news, for the race to which O Ruairc belonged were akin to his ancestors in old time, and he was himself his relative. For these reasons he was not eager to attack him or plunder his country like others, but he knew that that would be necessary unless he returned to the confederacy of the Irish, for his goodwill was withdrawn from every one who made friendship with the English. He proceeded to beg and entreat him, secretly at first, to return, and then again to threaten and menace him for remaining in the condition in which he was. O Ruairc continued to parley with him to the beginning of summer. He feared very much at that time the preying of his territory, for he saw that the English were not stronger than the Irish, and what he did was to come at the call of O Domhnaill and do what he asked, and he made submission to him as he demanded him.

[89] Tidings of O Néill awhile: so numerous were his skirmishes and preyings on the English that he slew many of their soldiers and leaders of battle. He preyed the districts that were supporting them and under their power, so that he wasted the territories along the Boyne, north to Dundalk, besides the fortresses and the strong castles in which they had posted their soldiers and warriors against Cenél Eóghain and the Oirghialla who lay near them. It is not to conceal or blot them out that we have not given these great deeds amongst the great deeds and exploits of the Irish in general, and it is not through error or mistake in remembering them, but lest their educated scholarly tutors, their ollamhs, and their learned men also should be jealous of us, and say that it was pride, presumption, and vanity caused us to anticipate them in relating the battles  p.173 and skirmishes of their princes, leaders, and stout-chieftains, and also lest they should assert it was as a reproach and censure of their learned men that it was done. However, we will relate this little of the exploits of the Clann Eóghain in spite of the criticism of their poets, i.e. the battle of the Yellow Ford, since Cenél Conaill assisted in it.

[90] It was thus it happened: The English had a fortress to the north of Armagh, on the Blackwater. It was first built in a time of peace and amity, and it was fortified a second time by the Lord Deputy, Thomas Lord Borough, in expectation of the war, so that it was a strong impregnable earthen rampart, and war-towers on the battlements all round, in which were windows and loopholes to shoot from. The English placed three hundred of their choice warriors in the fortress to hold it against the Cenél Eóghain. O Néill, too, placed the same number opposite them, that they might not come to prey the country anywhere around them. Later O Domhnaill came to the aid of O Néill when he knew the straits in which he was. O Néill complained to him of his anxiety concerning the said fortress, and declared he was tired of being continually investing it, as he always was. O Domhnaill said it would be far better to attack it, to batter it down and destroy it if they could, rather than have the districts injured and preyed by its means, and that it was not easy for the soldiers to be standing to arms for a long time. O Néill agreed with that opinion. Both of them ordered their people to attack the fortress. Afterwards they made a brave attack on it as they were bidden. A great number of them were wounded and killed, and they gained nothing thereby. Then they retired from it and went to their homes.

[91] O Néill got tidings after a while that they had consumed nearly all their provisions. When he found that they were in this condition he encamped opposite them, between them and Armagh, that no other force might come to relieve them from the pressing danger in which they were. When it became known to the Senate and Council that they were without food,  p.175 and O Néill attacking them, as he was, they assembled a large body of the choice soldiers of the English, so that they numbered five thousand, both infantry and cavalry, of youths with arms and armour, with regular supplies of everything that was needed. Henry Bagnal was put in command of them. He was a famous, daring knight, and one of the Council too. Iobhar Cinn Choiche mic Nechtain was his dwelling. When O Néill learned they were assembling he sent his messengers to invite O Domhnaill, before the English would be ready.

[92] He came with a great body of his forces, both infantry and cavalry, and some of the province of Connacht with him. The Irish of the province of Ulster came with haste to that muster. When the English were ready and prepared they went the first day's march to Drogheda. From that to the town of Dundalk. After that to Newry and Armagh. They remained there till they got rid of their fatigue. The Irish on the other side camped near them, between them and the aforesaid fortress. They proceeded to watch and prepare against each other, and to threaten and bluster. When it seemed to the English full time to assist their people they rose up at the dawn of day and proceeded to clothe themselves with strange tunics of iron, and high-crested, shining helmets, and foreign shields of well-tempered, refined iron. They seized their broad-shouldered, firmly rivetted spears, their wide-edged axes, smooth and bright, and their straight two-edged swords, and their long, single-edged blades, and their loud-voiced shot-firing guns, so that it would be very hard for their leaders to recognise them if they were not known by their speech, owing to the array of shields, helmets, and armour on them outside, hiding and covering their faces and their features, and to the quantity of arms also concealing them.

[93] Their captains of battle and chiefs of combat proceeded to place the soldiers and warriors in their appointed places, so that the infantry were in three bodies, back to back, behind each other. They placed their provisions and supplies moreover in the middle between them. They made battle-wings of their  p.177 cavalry in series of troops placed on both flanks. They put fine active bodies of their light soldiers and of their marksmen outside the cavalry to defend and protect them. In truth it was not easy to go through them together to the secure position where their champions and chiefs, their heroes in battle, and leaders in the fight were; and if one did at all go through, it was not easy to attack the griffin's nest and the lion's den in which the champions of London were, owing to the outlandish and strange weapons and armour and engines, and the variety and vast number of themselves, for it did not enter the mind nor is it in the memory of venerable elders nor to the ancients for long past that the English had assembled a host like that to fight against the Irish since first they attacked the island. They proceeded to march slowly along the road in that way to meet the Irish.

[94] These advanced with their war-weapons very quickly to oppose them. The weapons and dress of these were different, for the Irish did not wear armour like them, except a few, and they were unarmed in comparison with the English, but yet they had sufficient wide-bladed spears and broad-grey lances with strong handles of good ash. They had straight two-edged swords and slender flashing axes for hewing down champions. There were neither rings nor plates on them, as there were on the axes of the English. The implements for shooting which they had were darts of carved wood and powerful bows, with sharp-pointed arrows, and the English generally had quick-firing guns.

[95] O Néill and O Domhnaill proceeded to harangue the champions, and exhort the soldiers, and instruct the heroes, and this was what they said to them: “Brave men,” said they, “be nor feared or frightened by the English on account of their strange engines, their unusual armour and arms, and the thundering sound of their trumpets and tabours and war-cries, and of their own great numbers, for it is absolutely certain that they shall be routed in this day's fight. Of  p.179 course the day is ours because you are on the side of truth and the others on the side of falsehood, confining you in prisons and beheading you, in order to rob you of your own patrimonies. Moreover, we are quite sure that this day will distinguish between truth and falsehood, as Morann, son of Maen, said in the well-known proverb: 'There has not been found, nor will be found, a more truthful judge than the battlefield,' as we have heard from our poets, and they have long since taught it to us. Besides, it is easier for you to defend your own fatherland against a foreign race of strangers than to wrest another's patrimony after being driven from your own land, which has been in your possession from the year 3500 of the age of the world to this day.”

[96] The nobles and chiefs said that what their princes asserted was true. The address which they made to the brave men produced an effect on them, for the minds of the heroes and the courage of the soldiers were roused, so that fury, and vigour, and a great desire to use their arms filled Cenél Conaill, Cenél Eóghain, Airghialla and Uí Eachdach of Ulster, owing to the speeches of their princes and true lords, and they promised them that they would not yield a foot, but would suffer death on the spot rather than be routed. Another reason too for which the spirits of the soldiers were roused. It was told them that St. Berchan, the prophet of God, had foretold that a battle would be won there against the English of Dublin by Aodh O Néill and the province also, for he promised that they would come to his aid, and especially Cenél Conaill. The heroes believed that the holy prophet would not tell a lie. He who first made known the prophecy of the Saint was a certain famous poet of O Domhnaill's own people, who happened to be with him on the expedition, to gratify him. His name was Ferfesa O Clérigh. He asked what was the name of that place. It was told him. He said that St. Berchan had foretold a defeat of the English there by Aodh O Néill, as we have said, and that he had in mind for a long time past the prophecy which the holy man made, and he proceeded to excite and exhort the  p.181 soldiers, as was meet for one like him, and spoke thus:

  1. 'In the battle of the Yellow Ford
    it is by him the foreigners shall fall.
    After the destruction of the foreigners
    men from Tory will be glad.

[97] When the chiefs had ended instructing and exhorting the people they placed them in suitable positions opposite the foreigners, and a peremptory order was given by the princes that they should not go forward to meet the English until they came to the rampart where the ditches and trenches and deep pits of earth were, which the Irish army had made against the English in the road they had chosen to take. As the English drew near them they sounded their trumpets and horns and their war cries, so that to hear the clamour of the foreign forces was a cause of terror and dismay to the weak and feeble horseboys and to the cowardly and timid. When the English army had crossed the first broad, deep trench which had been dug in front of them, the Irish advanced against them, and answered them boldly and fiercely. Their van was obliged to halt, owing to wounds, and stop on account of the shooting. They poured showers of very slender, light darts on them, and of sharp-pointed arrows, and of heavy leaden balls. The English proceeded to shoot in the same manner from their slender, straight-aiming steady guns and from their loud-sounding muskets, so that the report and noise of their discharge was heard in the woods and forests and hollows of the rocks, and in the stone fortresses of the neighbouring territory. Many were wounded and hurt in both armies by the shots, but yet the shots of the English reached farther. This was the manner of fighting which the Irish adopted in consequence: they spread themselves about the English all round, and they closed on them and engaged the English at close quarters, so that they drove the wings which were on the outside, and the sharpshooters and soldiers beyond them, into the centre, so that  p.183 the English were confused by that and by the shots of the Irish, by the closeness and the compactness of the set order in which their leaders of battle and captains of the fight had placed them. Anger and wrath seized on the soldiers on both sides in consequence of the killing, the slaughtering, and the wounding of their friends, their companions, and those dear to them before their faces. They were struggling and slaughtering each other in this way for a good while and a long time, until the closeness and compactness of the English army was thinned out and their leaders and nobles were gapped.

[98] As the glorious God and Almighty Lord ordained victory and triumph for the Irish that day, He allowed a certain English soldier who had spent all the powder he had to go to the nearest of the barrels of powder carried by them, in the very middle of the army, to refill his pouch once more, and when he stretched out his hand to the powder a tiny spark leapt from the match which he had lighting, into the barrel, and from that to each of the barrels in succession, so that whatever was near the place where they were standing, men and horses, arms and armour, and everything which they needed to have by them, was blown up into the regions and clouds of the air. The great gun which they carried with them was moved from where it was to another place by the force and conflagration of the dry powder, when it blazed up fiercely to the clouds of the heavens. The hill too all round was one mass of dark, black fog for a while after, so that it was not easy for any one to recognise a man of his own people from one of his enemies. However, the General of the English army and their champion of battle, Henry Bagnal, and with him very many of their nobles and leaders were slain. The English were defeated, as is usual with an army whose battle chief, and supplier and counsellor had been taken away. The Irish proceeded to mangle and hack, to kill and destroy in twos and threes, in scores and thirties, in troops and hundreds until they came in over the midmost walls of Armagh. The soldiers and their attendants returned and proceeded to strip  p.185 the people who had fallen in the battle and to behead those who were severely wounded there. The booty of unusual, varied supplies was great. The Irish remained to besiege Armagh at each of the four quarters of the town, so that they did not allow anyone in or out for a space of three days and three nights. At that time the English sent messengers to the Irish to ask them to confer with them about surrendering the fortress mentioned, where their people had been in garrison for a long time, and that the warders be allowed to go safe to them to Armagh after giving up the place to Aodh O Néill, and that he permit both parties to retire from Armagh.

[99] The nobles went to take counsel on that proposal. Some of them said it would be right to allow the English to go on condition they surrendered the fortress, since it was on its account they had engaged them and fought the battle. Many of their people were wounded and slain, and their defeat and overthrow was a great triumph to them. Others of them opposed this, and said it was not right to let the English escape from the great straits in which they were, and that they would not be found careless a second time if they escaped from them then. However, it was decided by the chiefs at last to let them go away. Terms were agreed on between them on this side and on that to be observed by both, except the Irish did not allow any supplies of food, guns or ordnance, powder or lead to be taken away by anyone out of the fortress except his trunk and his arms which were allowed to the captain who was there. The English thereupon left the fort, and protection and quarter was given them till they came to Armagh. The next day the two bodies of English went from Armagh to Newry and to their own homes, and they made a census of their army to see what number were missing since they went on their expedition. The number, as their well-informed reckoned, was two thousand five hundred, besides their General and eighteen captains also of nobles and gentlemen. But all the same, a great number of them escaped luckily without being slain, though they were wounded, and they reckoned the missing  p.187 as well as those who were slain. This battle was fought on the tenth day of August, in the very beginning of harvest. Meantime, O Néill, O Domhnaill, and the Irish also returned to their homes after that victory, and the minds of the nobles were satisfied though their losses were many, and they did not show care or anxiety for those who were slain, for a battle for right is not remembered (with regret) as the proverb says.

[100] As for O Domhnaill, he remained quiet with his army resting after that battle of the Yellow Ford. There was a strong, very secure fortress in the province of Connacht at Corran precisely, named Ballymote. The English were in garrison in that castle continuously for the space of thirteen years, to see if they could get an opportunity of seizing on the neighbouring territory by means of it, and it could not be taken from them during that time. Some of the nobles who claimed the town and lands near it took the place unawares and seized it by force from the English. Those by whom it was taken were of the Clann Donncha of Corran. They were Cathal Dubh and Tomaltach Óg, the two sons of Cathal Mac Donncha; and to them the castle belonged by inheritance. It was a great affliction to the Governor of the province, Sir Conyers Clifford, that the place should be taken from his people, and he set to entice the Clann Donncha to restore the castle to him, and he promised large rewards for it, together with the freehold of their land for themselves and their posterity. When this was told to O Domhnaill he assembled his forces in the month of September, and he did not halt until he came to Ballymote, and he set to besiege the place, at one time blustering and threatening the Clann Donncha if they did not deliver up the place to himself rather than to anyone else. At another time he begged and prayed them to give it up to him for the price they would themselves put on it, wherefore it was decided by Cathal and Tomaltach, of whom we have spoken, to surrender the place to O Domhnaill and his family for ever for four hundred pounds and three hundred cows. When they  p.189 had concluded the agreement with each other in this way, O Domhnaill went immediately with his forces to northern Uí Maine. What was under the power of Sir Tibbot Dillon was plundered and preyed by him, so that his army took away with them a plenty of every kind of spoil moreover to Ballymote, and he gave the four hundred pounds, of which we have spoken, and the three hundred cows to the Clann Donncha as they had arranged with him. Seaán Óg O Doherty gave nine score pounds of that money to O Domhnaill to aid him. The town was given over to O Domhnaill then, and he remained there afterwards.

[101] At that particular time Mac William, Tibbot, son of Walter Ciotach, came to O Domhnaill to ask him for aid in men to strengthen him against his enemies. He sent with him strong bodies of his people, of his soldiers and mercenaries, with Seaán Óg O Doherty and Mac Suibhne Banagh, Donncha, son of Maolmhuire Meirgeach. Mac William then went with that army silently and without being noticed or heard, except by a few, through every territory through which they passed, until they came to the Owles, for it was there the greater part of the herds and flocks and property of Mac William's Portion were. Free rein and dispersal was given to his eager, unrestrained war-bands through all the country round, and they gathered the herds and droves of kine and cattle which were not in islands on lakes nor on the sea, so that they had full plenty of every kind of cattle then. Though it would have been easy to pursue them owing to the quantity of plunder, they came without wound or danger with their plunder and spoils to Tír Auley and Mac Suibhne to Tír Boghaine, and O Doherty to Inis Eóghain.

[102] In the meantime the miseries of war spread throughout the extent of Ireland, and James, son of Tomás Ruadh, was made Earl of Desmond at that time by the power of the Irish, against the opposition of the English, and he rose in war like the rest. His family was of the Geraldines by descent, having taken the name by which they were called from a certain Gerald  p.191 from whom this family was descended. They came from the English territory to the island to seize it like the rest, and they settled in the territory of Fermorc, south of the Shannon. They contracted friendship with the descendants of Míl after a time, and conformed to their manner of life and habits, and were full of honour and hospitality like them. The soldiers of London came then to the island by order of their King to govern the ancient Kingdoms and keep them by law, and they brought the Geraldines, of whom we have spoken, into subjection and contempt, like the Irish. The Geraldines rose in arms against them at last. They were driven from their territory by the English, and soon all but a few were slain. One of them was James, son of Tomas Ruadh, of whom we have spoken, and they thought he would not oppose them, owing to the disrespect, and contempt they had for him, and they set little store by him because the son of the true prince, James, son of Garret, who first began the war, son of James, son of John, was in prison in the Tower of London. However, the one God made an oak of the acorn and a fire on a hill-top of the spark and other things in the same way. He raised up too families after their ruin before this. Since it was so, it was not right for the English of Dublin to wonder that James, son of Tomás Ruadh, should be made Earl, and should come against them to vent his enmity on them. Great numbers came to him to serve under and assist him from the province of Connacht and the province of Ulster. The Irish of the province of Leinster too rose in arms in the same way, i.e. the race of Cathaoir Mór, son of Feilim in attacks and struggles against the English, in pillagings and burnings, liftings of cattle and flocks on the peoples who were under their yoke and control, which it would be tedious to relate or describe.

[103] As for O Domhnaill, when he had resolved all the difficulties mentioned above, his dwelling and abode was at Ballymote. He thought it long that the Spaniards did not come to aid the Irish as they had promised. Wherefore he sent his  p.193 messengers to Spain to complain of the suffering and oppression of the Irish to King Philip. In the month of September, in the middle of harvest, the messengers were sent. Philip died before they returned. In all the world there was no greater tidings, for his fame was spread through the whole earth. If one like him followed him in the world, it was from him he sprang. Meantime O Domhnaill was at ease in Ballymote up to the feast of the Nativity of the Lord, and when he had finished celebrating the feast, as was proper, he gathered his forces to him to go into the neighbouring territory; and when they had come together at his summons, he marched secretly unperceived, without fore-warning, into Clanrickard (though the inhabitants of the territory were afraid and terror-stricken before them), until he came unannounced and unknown in the half-light of early morning to Cill Colgáin. On coming there his marauders spread out on every side into the country all round, right through the middle of Clanrickard, westwards, until a body of them came to the borders of Oireacht Réamonn and another body to Dungory, in Coill Ó bhFiachrach. Many of the lowborn and highborn were killed and massacred by them. The principal men of the nobility who fell there were Turloch Buidhe and Brian, two sons of Ros, son of Uaithne, son of Maelechlainn O Lochlainn. There was slain by that Turloch, when defending himself, one of the Clann Domhnaill Gallóglach, who was with Mac William on that hosting; Aodh Buidhe Óg, son of Aodh Buidhe, son of Maelmhuire, was his name. There were also killed by another body of O Domhnaill's people two sons of William, son of John of Rinvylle, and a son of Tibbot, the son of Dabhóg, from Doire Domhnaill, and his son's son. Many were the causes of woe and lamentation in Clanrickard for those of them who were slain beside these nobles. Mac Hubert of Disert Ceallaigh, i.e. Ulick, son of Ulick Ruadh, son of Ulick Óg, is captured by Manus Óg, son of Aodh, son of Manus, O Domhnaill's brother. Cattle and booty of the country were gathered in heavy, immense droves, and other great  p.195 spoils besides, by O Domhnaill's people to the place where he himself remained, and though the mercenaries and soldiers of the Earl of Clanrickard were numerous in the district, and though it was hard for the territory to endure their unjust demands for the sake of being protected from its enemies, O Domhnaill and his army took the prey with them without strife or skirmish till they came by slow marches to Ballymote. Never before was a spoil of enemy's cattle collected the like or equal to it in that place since it was first built. Thereafter O Domhnaill's army go to their homes.

[104] Whenas the Queen of England observed the general rising in arms which the Irish and also some of the Old English of Ireland engaged in against her, and the number of her nobles and chiefs, soldiers and mercenaries who were slain at the Yellow Ford, and in every other battlefield where her people were massacred throughout Ireland, she fell into anxiety and great grief, so that she and the English Council resolved to send the Earl of Essex to Ireland in the following May with the fullest powers and the largest armies, as books state, that ever came to Ireland from England up to that. That was put in train in the very beginning of February, 1599. The reason why the Earl of Essex, of whom we have spoken, was selected to be sent to Ireland rather than anyone else, was to see would his success in war be greater than that of the people who had come hither from the Queen before, for he was the foremost war-leader of the English and their spear-head in conflict and contention and a battle-smiter for his Queen in every battlefield where he was ordered to go in Europe.


9. The Eighth Year, 1599

[105] As for Aodh Ruadh O Domhnaill, he thought it long for his forces to be resting even for the space of one month. Yet he did not know precisely to what place he should go, for he had not left a district or corner or any fortified places in the province of Connacht which he had not attacked or taken hostages and pledges from, except the portion of territory to the north of Limerick, which had been cut off from the province long before, i.e. the rough land of Lughaidh Meann, son of Aenghus Tírech, now called Thomond. However, it was fomenting strife and contention to attack the noble race who inhabited it, i.e. the descendants of Cas, son of Conall Eachluath son of Lughaidh Meann who are called after Brian Borumha, son of Cinnéide, today. The race from which they sprang was valiant and warlike. The prince ruling over them then was a man of great power, i.e. Donncha, son of Conor son of Donncha O Briain, Earl of Thomond. His voice and influence were powerful among the English of Dublin, and though great the enmities of his people against the English and though he himself was of the Irish, he was the one man in all Ireland most active, violent, full of hatred in taking up and carrying on the war against the Irish by order and command of the English. For these reasons the desire and longing of O Domhnaill to invade his territory was all the greater. This was not an easy thing for him, on account of the impregnable nature of its thick woods and unknown deserts, its very long narrow defiles, and the roughness of its ground and its external difficulties. Another reason also why the invasion was difficult, though its frontiers and interior parts were unfortified, was the multitude of its heroes and warlike champions, and the pride and haughtiness of him who was their commander, i.e. the Earl of Thomond. Yet O Domhnaill  p.199 could not bear but to go and invade the territory in some way. His forces were gathered by him in one place, to Ballymote, for this was his residence since it had been bought by him on the feast of Holy Mary, Mother of the Lord, in the preceding year, as we have told.

[106] First came Cenél Conaill to that place in their muster, i.e. his own brothers, Rury, Manus and Caffar, with their forces, and Aodh Óg, son of Aodh Dubh, son of Aodh Ruadh, son of Niall Garbh, son of Turloch of the Wine; Niall Garbh, son of Conn, son of Calvach, son of Manus, son of Aodh Dubh; O Boyle, Tadhg Óg, son of Tadhg, son of Turloch; O Doherty of Inis Eóghain, Seaán Óg, son of Seaán, son of Felim, son of Conor Carrach; MacSuibhne Fanad, Domhnall, son of Turloch, son of Maelmhuire; and MacSuibhne Banagh, Donncha, son of Maelmhuire Meirgeach, son of Maelmhuire, son of Niall. There came also in his muster, Maguidhir, Aodh, son of Cúchonnacht, son of Cúchonnacht, son of Cúchonnacht, son of Brian, son of Philip, son of Thomas, and the son of (Ó Ruairc, Tadhg, son of Brian na Múrtha, son of Brian Ballach, son of Eóghan, all these with the whole of their levies. There came also those who had been appointed by him to the chieftaincy of their patrimonies in the province of Connacht, Mac William Burke, Tibbot son of Walter Ciotach, son of John, son of Oliver; O Dowda of Tír Fhiachrach, Tadhg, son of Tadhg Riach; MacDonncha of Corran, Rury, son of Aodh; MacDonncha of Tirerill, Muirgheas Caoch, son of Tadhg, and O h-Eaghra Riach, Felim, son of Cúchaisil; all these, with all their people. O Conor Ruadh came to the same hosting, Aodh, son of Turloch Ruadh, son of Tadhg Buidhe, and O Ceallaigh, Ferdorcha, son of Ceallach, son of Domhnall, and MacDiarmada of Magh Luirg, Conor son of Tadhg, son of Eóghan, and other forces besides those which it would be tedious to enumerate.

[107] When these chiefs and their forces came together to him at Ballymote, he determined to send a party to Mac William's Portion, whilst he himself should be with his army  p.201 in Thomond, and he put Mac William and Niall Garbh O Domhnaill in command of them. As for these, first they went in waves of a great host from the eastern extremity of Costello's country to the Owles of Clangibbon. They set to prey and plunder their enemies and foes in every territory they passed through, and they found neither contention nor fight, dispute nor shooting, which they set any store by; for the people of the district though they could well have opposed them had they known it was only that party was there, fell into great panic and despaired of defending themselves vigorously against them, thinking that O Domhnaill himself was upon them. For his enemies were sure and certain that whatever forces they had in any one place they could not obtain a victory though he had with him but a few, on account of the great abhorrence and dread, fear and terror, which he cast upon his enemies wherever they were. Mac William and Niall Garbh arrived with their force at the island of Leathardan, and they attacked the place boldly and fiercely, and though an attempt at a spirited defence was made against them, it did not profit those who made it, for they leaped from every side and quarter into the place among them. Eighteen of the nobles of Clann Giobúin were slain and slaughtered, and a great number of others besides. The place was plundered by them then.

[108] As for O Domhnaill, he went on his way, marching slowly, without sound of trumpet or alarm of battle, and he was hardly noticed at all (though the control of the vast, fierce, contentious, proud, unruly battalions which was with him would be very difficult for any other prince, neither voice nor noise, speech nor shouting was heard from them on the road by which they came) until they reached Clanrickard. His marches are not reported up to that. They make a halt in the evening on the Reevehagh, between Kilcolgan and Ardrahan. They light fires and brands and proceeded to prepare their supply of food and to lighten their knapsacks after their long march and before facing the great labour.  p.203 It was natural that the people who had come from the confines of Tory in the north and from Srubh Brain in Inis Eóghain, should be tired carrying them any further. There was also some wine and ale of Spain set before the chiefs who were there, so that they fell a-toasting one another without any fear though far from their own country in the land of their enemies. Thereafter they slept a little while till midnight.

[109] They arose then like the uprising of one man, at the order of the chief, and they faced the road and the march by the straight highways of the country till they came in the early dawn into the eastern end of Coill O bhFlannchadha in the cantred of Cenél Fermaic in Thomond. O Domhnaill split up his marauding parties to send them out from that place. He sent a party of his foot-soldiers with Tadhg O Ruairc and MacSuibhne Banagh northwards into Burren of Connacht, lest the preys of Thomond might escape him through it among the wild places of strong Burren, and he told them to meet him in the middle of the country. He sent the other party in a southerly direction into Ballyhogan of Coill Mór to Tulach O Dea, and to the gate of Baile O Griobhtha. Thence they turned northwards to Drumfinglas, to Corofin, to Kilnaboy, to meet O Domhnaill. He ordered those parties whom he sent away not to plunder or prey the sanctuarylands of churches or learned men, wherever they met with them. O Domhnaill himself comes with the body and flower of his army through the plain of Coill O bhFlannchadha through Rockforest Road to Kilnaboy in southern Dal gCais, before mid-day of the seventeenth day of the month of February exactly. There was brought to him the spoils of almost all Cenél Fearmaic from Disert to Glen Colum Cille and Tulach Comman and from Cluain Soilchernaigh to Leimeneach. Tadhg O Ruairc or MacSuibhne did not succeed in bringing the plunder and spoils of Burren with them to O Domhnaill that night, though they had collected and assembled them, owing to their extent and great number.


[110] It happened also that Maguidhir with a body of his people went to make a circuit in the neighbourhood. A certain freeborn nobleman of the Dál gCais met him, whom he wounded and captured afterwards. Conor O Briain was his name. Maguidhir brought him to Conor's own castle at Inchiquin; the castle was given over to Maguidhir, and he stayed there till the next day. O Domhnaill encamped that night at Kilnaboy, and the fires and beacons of his army were extended far and wide, one party being in Burren of Connacht and another party in the cantred of Uí Fermaic, and some in Kilnaboy, beside the other forces which were with Mac William and Niall Garv O Domhnaill in Owles. As soon as the light of day prevailed over the stars of the night, O Domhnaill arose and turned his face to the cantred of Corcomroe until he came to Kilfenora. He dispatched his marauders to scatter southwards to Inagh through Brentír of the Fearmacaigh, to Corcamaigh, to the gate of Ennistymon, to Cill Easbuig Lonáin, to Baile Paídín, and back eastwards towards Kilfenora again, where O Domhnaill was. Tadhg O Ruairc and MacSuibhne Banagh came with the plunder of Burren to the same place. Meantime, when O Domhnaill saw every hill and height all round completely covered with cattle and spoils (so that the ground could not be seen between them owing to the closeness with which they were pressed together by the grim, dark-faced soldiers who were round about them), what he determined on was to go the next day by the long dangerous roads of rough-peaked Burren. O Domhnaill stopped with his forces that night in Kilfenora, in Baile Eóin Gabhann, and Cathair Benen, since they could not encamp in one place, for their preys of cattle and herds and oxen were very abundant, and besides there were on that expedition many lords of territories and chiefs of districts, heads of hundreds and of hosts, whose violence and anger, vanity and pride, self-will and arrogance were intolerable, and who could ill brook to render obedience or submission to any one else.


[111] They make preparations for their feast and meal after a while, and proceed to crunch the bones of their enemies' cattle in that strange land without fear or terror, but just as if they were in their own country itself. Though indeed there were certain parties there who would scruple to ill-treat and injure the cattle they had in their own homesteads as they did those of their enemies. After their meal the army slept until it was broad daylight on the following day. O Domhnaill awoke from his sleep, and at once ordered the troops to march out of the territory. He placed the attendants, the raw levies, and the unarmed in front of the line of march with their preys and spoils and booty. He himself marched with the nobles and chosen men of the great host accompanying him in the middle of the same line of march behind the party he had put in charge of the prey. He ordered his soldiers, his youths, and his shooters to remain in the rear to fight for them if they should be pursued. They went then in the early part of the day by the roadways of ancient Burren eastwards with much noise and great shouting. Their march was calm and slow without haste or hurry in driving their steeds and their prey, for they could not ride their horses through the crooked, narrow, perilous, sickle-sharp rocks of stony Burren, so that their foot-soldiers were mixed up with their horsemen till they came to the end of their road and journey from Kilfenora to Noughaval, to Turlach, by the monastery of Corcomroe, by Carcair na gCléireach, and they reached at the end of day the district called Meadhraighe, north-east of Burren at the Rubha exactly, in the west of Uí Fiachrach Aidhne. They encamped there that night, and lit fires and beacons, and prepared their food, and thereafter slept in sound repose till morning. When the day shone on the soldiers they rise from their camps and proceed to march along the road north-eastwards in parties and in companies separately without fear or dread. The reason why the bodies kept thus apart was in order that they would not mix their preys together, for the forces each possessed their own separate share since they passed through Burren to the north-east.  p.209 There was no need for guides or persons acquainted with the roads before the army after that, for it would be surprising if O Domhnaill's people should go astray on the road between that and Ballymote, for their visits to the territory were many. The next day they went through the south of Clanrickard and to the gate of Athenry. Their marches from thenceforward are not related, only that Mac William and Niall Garv met them, with their preys at the boundary of Uí Maine, and each of them all came home wealthy and rich, cheerful and in high spirits.

[112] There was at that time in Thomond a certain well read learned poet. He was a historian and a poet of the ollamhs of that country. His name was Maoilín Óg, son of Maoilín, son of Conor MacBruaideadha. A party of O Domhnaill's army had taken some of the poet's cattle like the rest of the prey. The poet comes after the prey to the place where O Domhnaill was, for he was sure he would get full compensation for his cattle from him. The poet proceeds to display his knowledge and talent in presence of the prince before whom he had come and to compliment him, and he said it was no disgrace nor reflection on Dál gCais nor on the Queen's people that O Domhnaill with his army should take away those preys with them without fight or battle, without a man being wounded in defending them, for the holy patron Colm Cille, son of Felim, had prophesied that an Aodh of Cenél Conaill would come who would revenge on Dál gCais the destruction of Grianán Aileach, and the carrying off of some of its stones to Limerick by Muirchertach O Briain, son of Turloch, son of Tadhg, son of Brian Borumha, and the poet said he thought he was that Aodh. He then recited portion of the prophecy, and said this:

  1. My Derry, my little oak-grove,
    My dwelling, and my little cell,
    Woe, O God! with multitudes of men,
    To those who are destined to destroy it.
  2.  p.211
  3. For the destruction of my dear Derry,
    For the scattering of my Aileach
    Thenceforth till final doom,
    Dál gCais shall not possess Éire.
  4. 'Tis he will revenge my virgin Aileach.
    The Aodh with steeds for the rough road,
    The sleek body—no stolen fame—
    The long-haired one from Fanaid.
  5. He will be the valiant Aodh,
    To whom the lords of Tara shall yield,
    He will leave—goodly deed—
    Reproach on every province in Ireland, etc.
This stanza belonged to the hymn of praise which the same Maoilín composed for O Domhnaill:
  1. It was fated that in revenge for Aileach,
    O Aodh Ruadh, spoken of by the prophet,
    Your army's coming to Magh Adhair;
    From the north aid is sought for all.
Recompense for his cattle and flocks was given to the poet with an increase and he took leave of O Domhnaill and left him his blessing.

[113] So O Domhnaill was in Ballymote at ease, without exploit or hosting from the end of February until June. His messengers reached him from Spain in the beginning of June, and with them a ship in which were arms for two thousand men, great limber pikes and matchlock guns, with their fixtures and accessories. They were divided into two parts, and the second part was given to O Néill, as was meet, for a twofold division was made of every gift which came to them from Spain, and that was due to them from olden times, for the Cenél Conaill had no right to any claim over Cenél Eóghain, save that they come to their muster when the sovereignty of Ireland belonged to Cenél Conaill, and that Cenél Conaill should go to their muster when Cenél Eóghain had the kingship.


[114] As for the President who was placed by the Council over the province of Connacht, Sir Conyers Clifford, he proceeded to boast and bluster against O Domhnaill after Thomond had been invaded in spite of him, and he asserted he would come to Sligo with huge bodies of the soldiers of London, to restore O Conor Sligo in spite of O Domhnaill, and he would not leave his sway to him any longer. This was natural, for O Conor Sligo had come from England in the spring of the preceding year, and he was then in company with the Earl of Essex, who had come in May of the present year, as it was decided by the Queen and Council about St. Bride's day to send him to Ireland, as we have said already. When O Domhnaill heard of the threat and insult, he comes immediately with a squadron of horse from Ballymote and arrived without stop or stay at Bellashanny to meet his army to muster them to him without negligence or damage, to be in readiness for the Governor, Sir Conyers Clifford, and the aforesaid army. When Cenél Conaill came to the Saimer where O Domhnaill was, they go across it at mid-summer. They proceed by slow marches along the route, across the Drowes, the Dubh, and over Mágh gCéitne of the Fomorians. They made no hurry or haste, but were pursuing the wild deer, sporting and gaming, until news of the foreign army should reach them. They were not long so when it was told to O Domhnaill that O Conor had come secretly with a small body of men to the castle of Collooney, which was on the winding banks of the Abha Mhór, a short distance south-east of Ballysadare, and that he had taken into that castle a prey of cows from some of O Domhnaill's people, which were on the pastures and grazing throughout the country. There was not a fortress or strong, fortified castle in the whole country that was not in his possession except that one castle. O Domhnaill, without waiting for his foot-soldiers ordered his cavalry to go to the castle, that O Conor might not abandon the castle before the army came. Thereupon the horsemen jumped on their horses speedily and actively, for no one dared to gainsay  p.215 his words. Off they went then as fast as they could together, and set to spur and lash their horses until they reached the town. He sends the army after them to the castle. That place was an impregnable stronghold, and its position was secure, for there was a river on each flank of it and a thick wood on the other side of the river coming in from the north, so that it was not easy to attack any one who desired to leave the fortress. However, O Domhnaill encamped opposite the wood, and he declared he would not abandon the siege till O Conor and Collooney were in his power. The army make tents and huts. Guards and sentinels were set night and day round the castle on every side. They made mounds of earth and stones and very large trenches between them and the archers and shooters of the castle. They enclosed it on every side in this way. There used to be large strong bodies of his cavalry on horseback on the watch from the dusk of evening till morning, lest O Conor might escape from them under cover of the darkness of the night, for they were thankful to the One God who had brought him to them into the strait he was in.

[115] It spread universally through Ireland that O Domhnaill was besieging O Conor in his castle. When the Earl of Essex heard that O Conor was in the difficulty and strait in which he was, he was vexed that his friend and ally in war should be in such plight, without aiding him if he could. Wherefore, he sent his messengers to summon the Governor to meet him at Fir Ceall, that they might take counsel there in order to see what should they do concerning O Conor. The Governor came at once by order of the Earl to him, and he incurred great dangers and risks in going through Fir Ceall till he reached the place where the Earl was. He was two days and two nights with him taking counsel. The Earl gave more soldiers to the Governor and ordered him, when he should come to Athlone, to bring together in one place all the soldiers, warriors, and mercenaries in the service of the Queen of England within the province of Connacht and also whosoever of the Irish were submissive and obedient to her in the same  p.217 way and to go forward to aid O Conor against O Domhnaill. He then issued a command to Tibbot na Long, son of Rickard an Iarainn, son of Edmund, son of Ulick, and to Murcha na Maor, son of Domhnall an chogaidh, son of Giolla Dubh O Flaherty, and to the Galway levies, to carry in ships, northeastwards to Sligo, leaving the coast of Ireland to starboard, the stores of food and everything needful, and implements for making castles which had come from England to Galway. The Governor himself with the army we have spoken of should go by land, and Tibbot na Long with that fleet from Galway should come by sea, that they might meet at Sligo, after helping O Conor at Collooney. Moreover, the Earl commanded the Governor not to return until there was built by him a strong castle and dwelling of lime-mortared stone at Sligo, which would be a boundary fence and a hurdle of attack against the Ulstermen always. When the Governor undertook to carry out these charges, he took leave of the Earl and returned to Athlone, and he ordered Tibbot na Long to go on the aforesaid expedition, as he himself had been commanded.

[116] He comes afterwards to Roscommon, and it was great anxiety and shame to him that O Conor should be in such dire strait and so long without aid from him, for it was he who had persuaded him to go spy and reconnoitre the country and get news of O Domhnaill. But yet he thought it would be of no use to go to his relief weak and unprepared, for he dreaded very much the fierceness and bravery, the perseverance and subtlety of the man opposed to him. Thereafter a muster and assembly was ordered by the Governor, of all the English and Irish in the province of Connacht submissive to the Queen, whosoever was in her service from Echtge to Drowes. These were the Old-English and the Irish who came to the army of the Governor: the sons of the Earl of Clanrickard, i.e. Rickard, baron of Dunkellin, and Thomas with their forces. Tibbot Dillon with his full muster; O Conor Donn, Aodh, son of Diarmaid, son of Cairbre, with his assembly, and Mac Suibhne na dTuath, Maelmhuire, son of Murcha  p.219 Mall, son of Eóghan Óg, who was then outlawed and in rebellion against O Domhnaill and in league with the Governor. When all these reached Roscommon, they formed a strong, cruel, hard-hearted army, so that it seemed to the general Sir Conyers that O Domhnaill had no force of men to face or oppose them. They went away after that from Roscommon with twenty-eight standards, until they came to Tulsk; from that to the monastery of Boyle, and they encamped therein. As for Tibbot na Long and Murcha na Maor and the fleet we have spoken of, they set sail, leaving the shore of Ireland to starboard, as was commanded them, until they came to the deep part of the harbour west of Sligo. They remained there, as they were instructed, till they should get news of the other army that had appointed to meet them there.

[117] Further tidings of O Domhnaill, when he had succeeded in closing and securing the siege of the fortress as he wished, so that no one was allowed in or out of it, and there was no way or means of escape for O Conor out of the castle, he left Niall Garv O Domhnaill in command of the guard, and instructed him in all things needful. Niall was delighted to do this for him. He himself went with his army to Corrshliav of the Seaghais, and encamped there lest the English army might come past him unbeknown. He was entrenched there from the first time he heard the Governor was mustering, for a period of two months to the fifteenth of August. In that way he may be likened to Julius Caesar when he left Decius Brutus besieging the city of Marseilles and went himself with his army to fight against the two generals who were Pompey's supporters in Spain; Petronius and Afranius were their names. O Domhnaill's men were glad and delighted during the space of the two months they were in the aforesaid strong point to the north of Corrshliav of the Seaghais, for they had no lack of provisions during that time, though transport and supply of provisions was far distant from them during that period, for they brought some of their provisions no less than a hundred miles on horses and steeds from Inis Eóghain Mic Néill,  p.221 from Fanad in Tír Conaill, from Goll and West Goll, from Port Tory in the north-west. Soldiers and armed men were not necessary, nor armed youths, to protect their servants or meal bags, but their protection and guards were gillies and ploughmen, and unarmed people, and persons unfit for war and cowardly, and no one dared molest them through fear of O Domhnaill, that his kindly control might not be broken.

[118] When the news reached O Domhnaill that Tibbot na Long with his fleet had come to harbour north of Sligo, he sent some of his soldiers to prevent them from landing, so that they were at the port face to face with them. Besides, he did not leave the roads or passes or ways of escape from Loch Cé of the Seghais on the east to Loch Techet on the west without sentinels and watchers on them, lest the army should pass by without being observed in some way. His chiefs and captains, his advisers and his counsellors too, said that the scattering and dispersion which he had made of his forces had left a great shortage in their fighting men and that their engagement with the English would be weaker on that account; for a large body of them was besieging the castle in which O Conor was, and more confronting the fleet of which we have spoken, and more keeping watch on the roads mentioned. He paid little heed and made no account of the statements of the nobles and chiefs, and he said to them that all that was necessary, and he declared moreover that there was an old-time saying, that “it was not by the number of soldiers the battle is broken but by the power of God, and that he is victorious who trusts in the Trinity and believes that the One God turns the army that fights for falsehood into rout before the few who stand for truth. Thus, we few stand for the right, and the English, in our opinion, with their great host stand for the wrong, filching from you your patrimony and your means of living, and it is far easier for you to make a brave, stout, strong fight for your native land and your lives while you still have power over them, and hold your  p.223 weapons in your hands, than when you have been put into prison and in fetters after your weapons have been stolen from you, and your limbs bound with hard, tough cords of hemp, after some of you being broken and torn, half dead after being chained and paraded on wains and carts through the streets of English towns bringing contempt and mockery on you. My blessing on you, true kinsmen; bear in your minds the firm resolution you used to have when that insult and violence was inflicted on you (as was done to many of your race), that to-day in this day of battle it is necessary to make a vigorous fight to defend your liberty by the strength of your arms and the firmness of your hearts, while you have your bodies under your control and your weapons in your hands, as they surely will not be, if the English should be victorious. Have no dread or fear of the great number of the soldiers of London or of the strangeness of their weapons and arms, but put your hope and trust in the God of glory. Certain am I, if you take heed of what I say to you, that the English will be routed and victory will be yours.” The troops gave ear to the words of the prince. It was not difficult for them to hear him, even those who were not near him, on account of the loudness of his voice and speech. They promised all together that they would do as he ordered and enjoined them.

[119] Concerning the general Conyers Clifford, he was for the space of a week planning and preparing the expedition, which he made at last. He was blustering and despising and reviling the men of the north each day, and saying that he would go in spite of them over the mountain northwards. He was thus until the feast of Mary the Mother of the Lord, on the 15th day of August. He promised that day particularly he would be in O Domhnaill's camp before night after defeating his people. The occupation of O Domhnaill's men during the time he was in the monastery was exercising themselves and making ready for the fight and for the encounter which they had prepared for him. They were cleaning, polishing and adjusting their guns, and warming and sunning their  p.225 grain powder and filling their pouches and casting their leaden bullets and heavy round balls, socketing and riveting their stout round javelins and war-halberds, polishing their long broad-swords and their bright-shining axes, and preparing their arms and armour and implements of war also. A prudent pious cleric and a gracious psalm-singing priest used to be with O Domhnaill continually, to offer Mass and the pure, mysterious sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, and it was his usual practice whenever he set out on an expedition or a hosting, or whenever stress of danger menaced him, to fast for three days and confess his trespasses to his confessor; thereafter he would lament for his sins before God, and partake of the Body of Christ. He requested his army on this occasion to fast on the 'Golden Friday' of the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mass was offered for him on the next day, for the army generally, and for everyone who was in that camp, and he received, and the chiefs of the army with him, the Body of Christ with great reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy Mother on her feast that fell then. When he took notice of the haughty boasting talk of the Governor, promising to come to his encampment that night, he prayed the Son of the Virgin, who was within his breast, and the Virgin herself, for whom he had fasted the day before, to beseech the Heavenly Father and her loving Son, first for his soul, and afterwards if it be what God would grant him that on him defeat would fall, that he should be left on the field of battle and that he should never return, but be beheaded by his enemies rather than be disgraced, as was the wish of the Governor. After hearing Mass, the army go to their huts and tents to take their food and their meal before facing the great endeavour, and indeed they were hungry and thirsty after the fast of the preceding day in honour of holy Mary. After taking their meal they arise out of their tents very readily in great delight and gladness through the amount of confidence they had of gaining victory and triumph over their enemies.


[120] They march on to the level part of the plain to review their forces in one place. O Domhnaill then divided his men into two parties. He placed his swift energetic youths and his nimble athletic men and his marksmen, with their loud-sounding sharp-aiming guns and their strong smooth-curved bows and their cruel, whetted javelins, and their throwing darts also. He appointed leaders of battle and champions of fight and generals for sustaining conflict along with them, with full command over the youths to press and urge and close them in towards the battle, so that they might not be routed, and to parry and thrust afterwards when their guns were unloaded. His nobles and chief men and veterans were placed in the other division, his leaders and his chiefs, his trusty brave men, and his battle-smiters, with their strong, keen-edged swords and polished, thin-edged battleaxes, with great flexible slender lances, their riveted smooth-long spears, to quell conflict and withstand fight and battle. The place was not one suitable for deploying or fast riding, so he made foot-soldiers of his cavalry in the midst of his warriors. After dividing his forces in two, O Domhnaill ordered the second division with whom were the marksmen, to advance towards the foreign army to engage them, and they should be the forefront of valour and battle to wound and maim them before they would come over the difficult and rough part of the mountain, for it would be easier to rout them in the end if they had been wounded by those in the beginning, and he himself with the main body of the army would wait near to engage them where he was sure they would pass. There were strong bodies of O Domhnaill's people day and night by turns watching on the ridge of the mountain lest the foreign army should go by unnoticed. There were parties of them that very day there, and they were spying and observing the monastery at a distance and the party which was in it. When the sun was clearly shining for them at the spying, they see the army taking their arms and raising their standards and flags and sounding their trumpets and tabors and war-cries. They sent word to O Domhnaill in all speed. After hearing the news, he told the party whom  p.229 he had ordered to take the van to march forward rapidly and engage the army before it would cross the marshy parts of the upland plain. They advanced then as they were commanded with high spirits and soldierly courage all of them, till they came speedily to the ridge of the mountain before the English. O Domhnaill set out after them firmly and slowly with the steady troops and dependable warriors whom he had chosen around him, until they were in the appointed place and the spot where they were sure the English would come towards them. They halt there to meet them.

[121] Tidings of the advance guard which O Domhnaill had ordered to the van, they proceed to march along the road to meet the foreign army until they were face to face. When they drew near each other, the Irish discharged against them terrible showers of fair-jointed javelins of ash and swarms of sharp-pointed, whizzing arrows from long powerful bows, and hail showers of blood-red round balls and leaden bullets from straight-shooting, sharp-sighted guns. They were responded to by the English soldiers in the same way exactly with flashing grape shot ember-hot of pure lead out of matchlock guns, far-sounding and hollow yawning muskets, so that the missiles were matched between them from one side and the other, and the reports and echoes and thundering noise were heard in the woods and groves, from the castles and stone fortresses of the neighbouring country. It was a great wonder that the timid people and the horse boys did not run away through panic and frenzy on hearing the clamour and the echo of battle and noise of the heavy firing. Champions were wounded and warriors were maimed by them on both sides, so that on that wintry morning there was many a death-shout at the ford where battalions came, hacking the arms and cheeks and legs of the heroes on each side into shattered fragments and broken shards from the tempest of thunderbolts of well-molten round lead and showers of blood-red sharpened darts and of long-pointed curved-shouldered arrows and every other missile as well. Their battle-leaders and combat-chiefs  p.231 told O Domhnaill's men not to remain in front of the foreigners, but to encircle them on every side they could. Thereupon they closed in on them on every side as they were commanded, and they shooting and harrying them rapidly, unsparingly so that they threw the wings of their battle-line in on the centre by the pressure and speed of the attack. Whatever happened anyway, at last the English turned their backs to the brave men of the north.

[122] O Ruairc, lord of Bréifne Connacht, was then to the east of Corrshliav in a separate camp. He had promised O Domhnaill to be on the watch for the foreigners to attack them like the others, whenever O Domhnaill would attack them with his forces. When he heard the loud blast of the trumpets and tabors, and the thundering and earth-quaking of the heavy firing, he rose from his encampment with his soldiers, and they donned their battle-armour, and did not halt on their march until they came to the place where O Domhnaill's people were carrying on the fight. They proceed to cut down the heroes like the rest, and to shoot, until there fled before them in full defeat to the aforesaid monastery all who could save their lives. In no leisurely fashion did they retreat, for not one of them looked behind for friend or companion, and he who was first of them thought he was the last of the whole army. O Domhnaill's forces did not succeed in killing every one they might, owing to the great number of those who fled and the small number of the force who were in pursuit; for they had not come up with the main body of the army where O Domhnaill was, when they were defeated by the first body which had been ordered by him to form the vanguard. Indeed, the English left behind many a head and trophy with the Irish troops. The Governor, too, Sir Conyers Clifford, was mortally hurt in the first stage of the fight, and was left in a feeble state lying on the mountain sorely wounded, and the soldiers did not know who gave him his first wound, but only that a leaden ball had gone through him; and their soldiers did not recognise  p.233 him until O Ruairc at last came where he was, and he knew that it was the Governor, and he ordered him to be beheaded. This was done, so that he was a lopped, naked trunk after his head had been struck off and he had been despoiled.

[123] 'Twas a great catastrophe, the person who fell there. 'Twas sad he should meet an evil end and the Irish of the province were not pleased at his fate, for he used not speak false to them and he was a bestower of treasures and wealth among them. After the defeated forces had escaped to the monastery, O Domhnaill's forces turn back and proceed to despoil those whom they had killed and to slay the wounded whom they met on the battlefield and to behead them. They then go to their camp with great joy and gladness, and they gave thanks to the Lord for their victory, and they marvelled greatly at the quick defeat of the English, considering their great pride and exultation before the battle, and all the blustering and threatening they had done against the Irish. It was the one voice of the army then, as if spoken from one mouth, that it was not by force of arms they had been defeated, but that it was O Domhnaill's intercession of his Creator that caused it, after receiving the pure mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ in the beginning of that day, and after fasting in honour of Blessed Mary the day before. 'Twere right to despise the world after the treatment of the Governor; for his weight in gold and silver would have been given for him on the morning of that day had he been in captivity; but the corpse of clay for which so much wealth would have been given was not even carried in one direction on the evening of the aforesaid day; for his trunk was carried for burial to Trinity Island on Loch Cé in the barony of Magh Luirg in the county of Roscommon, and his head to Collooney in the barony of Tírerrill in the county of Sligo, as an exhibit for O Conor. As for the English, after O Domhnaill's people had ceased to pursue them, those who survived went their way, flying in haste until they came to their homes in sorrow and disgrace. O Domhnaill's people take their ease in their tents, and soundly  p.235 did they sleep that night after gaining victory over their enemies and slaying their battle-leader with a great multitude of chieftains and nobles along with him in addition to all the warriors and soldiers who fell in his company. O Domhnaill's people bury those of them who were slain, and bring physicians to their wounded, and when they heard that the English had turned back they proceed to the castle of Collooney, where they had left O Conor besieged.

[124] The defeat of Sir Conyers Clifford at Corrshliav and his death at O Domhnaill's hands were made known to him. He was incredulous about it until the head of the Governor was shown to him. He was grieved thereat, and despaired of release from the prison in which he was, so what he did was to come into O Domhnaill's presence and to make a full submission in every way to him. It was a good plan for him to bind fast his amity and friendship with O Domhnaill, for though often he visited neighbouring countries and especially England to see would he get help and aid to strengthen him against his enemies then, or to see could he dwell in or inhabit his territory or his estate, nevertheless he could not do that until he made friendship with O Domhnaill on this occasion. He was the better of it, and that friendship profited him and his territory generally, for O Domhnaill gave O Conor large numbers of oxen, horses, and cattle, and every kind of beast and of corn too, to help him, so that with these he resettled his territory, though it took time. As for Tibbot na Long, he was told in the same way of the defeat of the English and the death of their leader, and that O Conor had been brought out of the castle, as we have related. He determined in his mind not to oppose O Domhnaill any longer, and he confirmed his friendship with him afterwards and made his peace, and allowed the aforementioned ships to go back to Galway. O Domhnaill and his forces returned to their homes after victory in battle and celebration. The Irish were in high spirits and full of courage then, and the Queen's people were downcast and dispirited.


[125] As for O Domhnaill, he rested after this victory, a while at Ballymote, and a while at Lifford, at Donegal, and at Ballyshannon, enjoying himself, without anxiety or care, fear or dread from sea or land, as he thought. He was so from the beginning of harvest to the month of December. At the end of that time messengers came to him to say that there was a matter of dispute between Tibbot, son of Walter Ciotach, and Tibbot na Long, son of Rickard an Iarainn. O Domhnaill could not endure but go to make peace between them with his full force and army, and when he came to the territory of Clanwilliam he summoned the aforesaid chiefs before him, and after hearing the cause of their dispute, he arranged between them, so that they were peaceful towards each other by his command. When he had completed the making of peace, he had a desire to make a raid into Clanrickard, and when he came to it he went no farther than Oranmore on that expedition. He was for three days and three nights encamped in Machaire Riabach close to Galway. All the prey from the gates of the town out, was brought to him in spite of the people of the town itself. Many a tale was invented about him then, so that from Galway to Loophead was filled with fear and dread, quaking and terror of O Domhnaill, for it seemed to every party of them and to each chief that it was his own territory would be first invaded and his castle that would be the encampment of O Domhnaill and his army after they had plundered it. But yet nothing of the kind happened to them, for O Domhnaill returned to his territory that time. All who were in the province of Ulster in his time, were like a full pool, a well-tuned tabor, a shelter of calm, without dread of wound or capture, shout or violence, plunder or battle from any quarter of Ireland, and there was a dread of the province in every other territory. O Domhnaill spent the time thereafter in comfort and prosperity till the beginning of the following summer without attacking anyone, without anyone attacking him. In the year 1600.


10. The Ninth Year, 1600

[126] During the time he was resting, a very large army was collected by Aodh O Néill to go on an expedition to Munster. Aodh Maguidhir happened to be in that hosting. Their adventures are not told of until they arrived beyond Cork and the Lee southwards and encamped between the Lee and the Bandon river, on the confines of Muskerry and Carbery. One day, a little before St. Patrick's day, a desire and longing seized on Maguidhir to go and invade the neighbouring country, as was always his custom when he came to strange districts. A body of horse and foot departed from the camp, and they did not stop until they came to the gate of Cork, then to Rincorran, a castle of Barry Óg, in Kinelea. They turned back the same day with much prey and booty, but Maguidhir's people could not reach the camp that night, owing to the amount of their booty, hence it was necessary for them to remain in whatever place the darkness of night came on them. However, Maguidhir determined to reach the camp that night somehow.

[127] On the morning of the day that Maguidhir had left O Néill's camp news came to Cork to Sir Warham St. Leger (he was then President of the two provinces of Munster), that Maguidhir had left the camp as he had, and the direction he had gone. In no leisurely way was the news responded to by Sir Warham, for he set out immediately with a sour-faced, active troop of lively, courageous, evil minded cavalry, and they settled and placed themselves as a line of concealed watches in a safe chosen place where they were certain that Maguidhir would come to them. While they were there they saw Aodh coming towards them with only a few horsemen as they desired. He made no attempt to avoid them, although those who had come to oppose him were clearly visible in front  p.241 of him, but he attacked them swiftly, fiercely, as a wolf does sheep or a lion bears. So it happened to him and Warham, and they proceeded to wound each other with their stout-rivetted, tough-thonged, sharp-angled darts so that they pierced each other with sore, heavy wounds, until at last Sir Warham St. Leger was slain by Maguidhir, as it was his fixed custom up to that to gain victory over his enemies wherever they fell in with him. Five other leaders and nobles also fell by his single hand, besides common soldiers and people of low degree. However, the many prevailed over the few in the end, and Maguidhir had to quit the place of battle, for he was pierced quite through, owing to the dropping and flowing of his blood in red pools from out his wounds, after the failing of strength and vigour and the exhaustion of his activity and dexterity of hand. He did not go far after that when he could not bear but to dismount from his horse through swooning and weakness, and he lay propped on his elbow on the sod of illness. The shadows of doom and the darkness of death came on the hero after that, so that he died very soon, March 13th.

[128] The loss of the nobleman who died then was a cause of lamentation throughout the whole of Ulster, and he deserved to be praised particularly to the assemblies of the world. He was pleasant, stately, free-spoken; he was generous, hospitable, profuse, mild, kindly to his friends, stern and agressive to his enemies; a man who never retreated one step before few or many of his enemies since he took up warlike arms to that day, a man who did not go away from the place of fight or battle without wounding or killing some one, a man that killed and defeated many parties both of gentle and simple of the foreign race with whom he contested and fought to protect his faith and native land until he fell by them then. On the morrow, after the news had come to them, his own people and O Néill's found the body of the hero, and he was buried by them at Cork afterwards with great respect and honour, as was fitting.


[129] O Néill returned home, and 'twere better for himself and for the province of Ulster also not to have gone on that expedition, even because of the death of that one man who parted from them then. Strife and bitter enmity arose in the following summer in Fermanagh between Conor Ruadh, son of Conor Maguidhir, and the brother of Maguidhir whose death we have narrated, Cúchonnacht Óg, son of Cúchonnacht, son of Cúchonnacht, about the chieftainship of the territory. Conor had a right to the dignity and headship of Fermanagh on account of his age and seniority even before Aodh Maguidhir himself who fell as we have told, and when it seemed to Conor (as he thought) that there would be no opposition as regards the chieftaincy after the death of Cúchonnacht, father of Aodh, the title of chief was conferred on Aodh by Domhnall, son of Aodh, son of Maghnus O Domhnaill, rigdamna of Cenél Conaill, long before that time. The aforesaid Conor Ruadh was full sure that the chieftaincy would now be his by right of his ancestry, his age, his dignity, his friendship, and his relationship to O Néill, whose cousin he was on his mother's side, as the mothers of both were sisters, and this was the same purpose of mind and thought which O Néill himself had and his advisers also. He went to O Néill to ask command of his patrimony. Cúchonnacht Óg comes for the same purpose to where O Domhnaill was to complain of his powerlessness.

[130] When Conor came where O Néill was, he sent letters and messengers inviting O Domhnaill to allow him to inaugurate Conor Maguidhir in the chieftaincy, for he was afraid to rouse the anger and wrath of the powerful war-dog against him if he did not grant his request, and appointed Cúchonnacht Óg or any one else of his tribe to the chieftaincy of the territory of Fermanagh over-riding his prohibition. When the messengers came where O Domhnaill was he did not delay their affairs, but he went with a body of horse and foot of the choicest of his people together with his brother Rury and Cúchonnacht Óg, and they did not halt until they came to the place where O Néill was with his nobles round him taking  p.245 counsel on the same problem. When he dismounted at the lawn of the castle (Dungannon) he ordered his attendants to remain in one close group turned aside from them. O Néill sent his people and his trusty men to entertain the prince who had come, and to invite him to make known to him his opinion, to see if he could succeed in coaxing him by fair words to one opinion with himself. He comes immediately, and they were merry and good humoured together. When O Domhnaill was seated in the company of O Néill, he begins to debate and explain to O Domhnaill the question and the problem as well as he could, bringing to notice every reason that was in his mind why it was fitting to give to Conor Maguidhir the title of chief. After listening for some time in silence to the statements of the Prince O Néill, he said at last that it was not his wish at all to appoint Conor to the chieftaincy, for he was on the side and of the party of the English of Dublin and the foreign race who were by nature opposed to the Irish of the province, and he would have no confidence in his loyalty so long as he lived. O Néill's mind was not pleased with the answer O Domhnaill gave him, for he knew it was not easy to oppose or contradict him in any problem he set hand to.

[131] The princes proceeded to feast, to toast one another and to make merry after that. The banquet-hall was arranged according to their dignity, O Domhnaill face to face with O Néill, and Conor Maguidhir next him, and the chief men in their due order also. The butlers proceed to attend and serve them afterwards. Meantime, when O Néill took the goblet with wine in his hand, he drank a draught to O Domhnaill. O Domhnaill takes the cup from the butler's hand, and looked around. He gave a quick glance of his keen eye through the hall all round and did not see Cuchonnacht Óg in the house; and as he did not see him he ordered him to be called to him immediately. This was done for him, and when he came he bade him sit by the side of his brother Rury in the central section of the palace in the midst of his people. When Cúchonnacht was seated, he then drank the cup and raised  p.247 it in his hand for a space over him, and called him by the title of Maguidhir in presence of the chief men of the province generally, without leave or advice of anyone who would think ill that he should be appointed in the place of his brother and his father before him. They passed that night some of them merrily and pleasantly and others with gloom of mind and regret in consequence of the appointment we have mentioned. When the day shone out with full light on the morrow, O Domhnaill takes leave of O Néill and his chief men also, and he and Maguidhir with their people come to their homes glad and in high spirits thereafter.

[132] When the Council of Dublin saw that they could not defend the province of Connacht against O Domhnaill, after the defeat in the battle of Bealach Buidhe and the slaying of the Governor as we have told, and after he had invaded the territories to the north of Limerick and Aughty whenever he wished, and as the Earls who ruled over these districts complained of their grievances to the Council, they came to the resolution, in order to keep O Domhnaill in his own territory, by the advice of the said Earls, to launch an expedition of a large fleet of ships, in which were six thousand men, armed and equipped with the necessary supplies of food and weapons. By the Queen of England and the Council also it was planned to send this fleet to Ireland on Patrick's Day exactly, when Lord Mountjoy was appointed Lord Deputy over Ireland. When the above mentioned ships reached Dublin from England in the month of April, they were sent away after a while, and they sailed, keeping the coast of Ireland on the port hand, to the north-east by the shores of the territory of Brega and Meath to the east of the Third of Congal Cláireneach, son of Rury, till they came step by step led by one ship, to the Loch of Feabal, son of Lodan, and they came to port in Inis Eóghain Mic Néill, which had fallen to Cenél Conaill in olden-time and was subject to them then. On the 10th of May they arrived. O Dochartaigh was the chieftain who ruled over the island, subject to O Domhnaill always, and the name of its chieftain at that  p.249 time was Seaán Óg, son of Seaán, son of Feilim O Dochartaigh. He was a pillar of courage in battle, and 'twere no clear freehold of land for anyone who would attack his country, if he were granted fair play and equal forces. There was a small castle which O Dochartaigh thought little of on the shore of the Loch in the narrow part of the harbour, i.e. Cúl Mór. It was deserted then, for it was not safe to hold against enemies. The English stopped there, and built a strong, very secure wall round the castle, and left in it some of their forces.

[133] Another body of them went and settled in Dún na Long, in O Catháin's country. The greater number remaining went on to famous Derry, which Colum the gentle, the servant of God, (Criomhthann, son of Feilim, son of Fergus, son of Conall), blessed. The English made very large fences and strong ramparts of earth round the monastery and stone church first. They make passages and excavations of earth under the walls and war-towers upon them with windows and loopholes in them for shooting from. They dug deep trenches all round on the outside. They were much stronger and more secure than the courts of lime bound stone and the castles, in the making of which much time and great labour were spent. Then they tore down the monastery and the church, and they showed neither honour nor respect to the true Saint, for they destroyed all the ecclesiastical edifices in the town, and made rooms and sleeping apartments of them, and used some of them to eat in. Henry Docwra was the name of their commander. He was a famous knight, prudent and skilful, with profundity of knowledge. He was a spear-head of battle and fight.

[134] The English were there for a long time and fear of O Domhnaill did not let them go outside the walls, save for a short distance and there used to be large bodies of them standing to arms every night lest an attack might be made on them, so that they were filled with distemper and diseases, owing to the narrowness of the place in which they were, and the sultriness and heat of the summer weather. Very many of them died in the end before the diseases left them. When  p.251 O Domhnaill perceived that they were in that condition and that they were unaccustomed to go outside the camp through fear and apprehension, he reflected with himself how he might bring contempt and reproach on them, and he made little or no account of them, in order that they would retire and leave the camp in which they were. Wherefore the plan which he adopted in order to show his contempt was to go on an expedition to the southern part of the province of Connacht, to invade the districts on both sides of Sliav Aughty, and especially Thomond. And twas right too. For the Earls of whom we have spoken, whose patrimony these were (as we have said) had recommended the Council and the Queen that the great force should set out and come to them to keep and retain him within his own territory, and they had told and informed the Queen and the English Council that it was a passage and a way of invasion between Cenél Conaill and Cenél Eóghain for the above mentioned fleet to come to Loch Foyle.

[135] O Domhnaill decided on this plan of going to wreak his enmity on the Earls of whom we have spoken, and he left the chief of the Island, O Dochartaigh himself, to confront the foreigners on guard lest they might come to invade the territory. He left Niall Garv O Domhnaill and some of his forces blockading them on the island to the west between them and the cantred of Enna, son of Niall. He sent his messengers before him to the Irish of the province of Connacht to order them to meet him at Ballymote. All the Connachtmen came, from the Suck to the Drowes and from the west of Tír Awley to Bréifne O Reilly, and they were awaiting him in the town where he had trysted with them. These were the most notable who came to that muster. O Ruairc came with the people of Bréifne in Connacht, namely Brian Óg, whose father was that Brian who was done to death in London. O Conor Sligo came there, Donncha, son of Cathal Óg, with the people north of Corrshliav as far as the sea beyond, and Mac Diarmada of Magh Luirg, Aodh, son of Tadhg, with the race of Maelruana. O Conor  p.253 Ruadh came, Aodh, son of Turloch Ruadh, son of Tadhg Buidhe, son of Cathal Ruadh. Their fear did not allow the nobles who were situated near the English to come to that muster, for they had to stay and defend their territory, lest the English might lay waste their patrimony in their absence. There came also Mac William Burke, Tibbot, son of Walter Ciotach, and though he was not of the Irish, it was the duty of the man who held that post to come, for his ancestors and the family he belonged to were always under tribute to Cenél Conaill Mic Néill from the time the Burkes seized the land of Amhalgadh, son of Fiachra. Twas proper for them though they used to pay their tribute to O Domhnaill, and it need not cause surprise for Amhalgadh, son of Fiachra, was a kinsman of Conall, son of Niall, and his foster-brother besides, for it was Fiachra, son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhoin, who fostered Conall.

[136] His troops were gathered together by O Domhnaill in the month of June precisely, and they crossed the Saimer, a stream rich in salmon, the Drowes, the Dubh, and the Sligeach, until they came to Ballymote, where the men of Connacht awaited him. After a while he marched with his forces by Corann, through Magh Aoi Findbendaigh, through Clann Chonnmhaigh, through the territory of Maine, son of Eochaidh, and through the plain of Clanrickard, without fight or conflict, without wounding or being meddled with during that time. He made a halt in western Clanrickard in Oirecht Réamoinn on the evening of Saturday, and this was the Saturday before St. John's day, which was on the following Tuesday. Warning and report went before him to Thomond, but they thought O Domhnaill would not leave the place where he had stopped until Monday morning. This was not what he did at all, but he rose before the early dawn of the morning of Sunday, and after hearing Mass himself and the chiefs who were with him, he marched with his troops by Oirecht Réamoinn, by the mountain of Echtge, daughter of Urscothach, son of Tinne, to Cenél Aodha, to Cenél  p.255 Dúnghaile, and by upper Glancullen, until he crossed the Fergus westwards before midday on Sunday, so that they made a halt on the north-western side of Clonroad and Ennis. Ennis was burned and preyed entirely and made bare by the army all but the monastery, for O Domhnaill ordered protection and kindliness to be given to it in honour of the Lord. There it happened to the Earl of Thomond, Donncha, son of Conor, lord of Thomond, to be with a small force of not more than two hundred in number at Clonroad, a short distance to the west of Ennis, at the same time that O Domhnaill and his armies came into the country. When he heard the murmur of the great army and the shouts of the soldiers and the noise of the heavy troops and the loud report of the quick-firing from bright, sharp-sighted guns throughout his territory all about him, and the bright, wide-spread conflagrations which extended in every quarter and on every border all round, which he could not defend or protect, what he did was to march with a small body of troops secretly by the bank of the Fergus due west as securely as he could till he came to Clare. That town was one of his fortresses, and it was strong, impregnable, even if he had not the force he had defending it.

[137] As for O Domhnaill, when he had reached Ennis, he sent skirmishers to cover the surrounding country. Far and wide, violently, aggressively, these quick active courageous bodies of men separated from each other, for they traversed and plundered before night from Craig Uí Chíordhubháin, in the lower part of the territory in the cantred of Islands, to Cathair Murcha in west Corco Baiscinn, to the gate of Cill Muire, and Cathair Ruis, and the plain of Uí Bracáin, to the gate of Baile Eóin Gabhainn in Corcomrua, and Boith Néill in Cenél Fermaic. There was many a 'time of plenty' for gentlemen, noblemen, and lords of territories with prey and cattle and every sort of spoil, in the hands of a company of four or five of O Domhnaill's people under the shelter of bush or thicket, rock or wood in Thomond that night, for  p.257 they had to stay wherever the darkness of nightfall overtook them.

[138] O Domhnaill encamped that night on the bank of the Fergus to the west of Clonroad. This was a famous castle and princely lodging for him who was chief of the country. The army arose (on Monday exactly) calmly and firmly from their tents and huts, and proceeded to march by the road diagonally across Thomond in a north-easterly direction straight through the east of Uí Cormaic and the plain of Cenél Fermaic and the speckled-hilled Boirenn, till they came at sunset to the monastery of Corcomrua and to Carcair na cCleireach. Those of the forces who were unoccupied throughout the day were traversing and patrolling the lands around, so that they did not leave a habitation or dwelling worth talking about unburnt or undestroyed that day. The troops arose at dawn on Tuesday. They set out with their spoils and prey towards Carcair, and though their march was severe and their pace slow, owing to the enormous amount of cattle and plunder, they left the cleft stone passes of white Boirenn behind. When they came to the dwellings of the smooth plain of Maree, they rested at Cnoc an Ghearráin, between Cill Colgáin and Galway. They divided the spoil between them after that, so that each body had its own share of the enemy's cattle, flocks, and booty, and they proceeded the next day to guide and drive their portion of the prey along the roads of the ancient province of Sreng, son of Sengan. The journey they made on that day was not long, for they were tired after the great toil in coming through the narrow mouthed roads, of Boirenn; neither had they eaten or slept in comfort the night before, for they had thought the Earl of Thomond would come with all his forces in pursuit of them and on their track to attack them, on the winding defiles through which they were marching, though he did not come at all. They made their camp in the neighbourhood that night, since they had banished their fear. They made neither huts nor buildings, owing to the heat of the summer weather, but they lighted  p.259 bright, flaming fires, and their attendants and servers, their cooks and houseboys, their ostlers and their soldiers fell to butchering and killing, slaughtering and chopping the bones of the enemy's cattle to prepare their dinner for their chiefs and their nobles, till they consumed their feast and slept soundly, as they had cast aside their fear.

[139] The army arose from their quiet stupor of sleep at the break of day and went on their road and journey. O Domhnaill allowed Mac William and the people and forces who had come from the western part of the province at his call to go to their homes. He set out himself due eastwards by the ordinary roads until he came before the end of the day to Conmaicne Cuile Tolaigh, in the middle of the province. He encamped there that night, and they halted there till the next day. O Domhnaill then ordered his people to send away to their homes their prey of cattle and sheep and the booty also, and to let the servants and unarmed people and the wounded and others of the army to go with them. They went off without delay as they were ordered. He allowed O Ruairc and his people to go home like the others.

[140] O Domhnaill chose five hundred soldiers, with sixty horsemen of the choicest of his army, and ordered them to remain along with him, so they were resting and taking their ease in the camp till after mid-day. They marched away then and proceeded through the province south-eastwards vigorously, actively, quietly, silently, by day and by night, until they came to Loch Riach in the dawn of the early morning next day. This was the chief residence and princely abode of the Earl of Clanrickard. They sent out their skirmishers spread widely in every direction to ravage the territory. They gathered together all the herds and flocks that were near them and took them to one place, so that they had plenty to round up and drive away. They march on after a time through the province north-east until they camped on the border of the territory south of the Suck on Sunday night exactly. They stayed there until Monday morning. They went thereafter  p.261 across Ath Liag Finn on the Suck and through Magh nAoi, son of Allgubha, and reached the Seghais by eventide. That night they rested north of the river. The next day they marched over Corrshliav of the Seghais and through Corann to Ballymote; then the chiefs separated to their castles and houses with much spoil.

[141] O Domhnaill gave rest to his soldiers and mercenaries from July to September, when he summoned them to him again to see whether he might not get a chance of attacking the English; for he heard that it was usual for the horses to go each day across the bridge which was opposite Derry northwards to graze on a grassy field which was on the other side, with a few cavalry to protect them. He was thereafter considering and reflecting how he could make a descent on the English to take their horses from them. This was the resolution he came to. He chose a large body of his soldiers and a troop of horse, so that the number of horse and foot was not less than six hundred. These he took with him secretly in the darkness of the night, and left them in ambush in the gorge of a steep cliff which was on the mountain slope opposite Derry to the north, a place whence the people of the town could be seen by them, and they could not be seen by any one. He placed a few of his cavalry in hidden places very near the town in ambush for the horses and their guards, so that the horses might not return whenever they would come to the field of grass of which we have spoken. They were there until dawn. They saw the horses cross the bridge towards them with their guard, as they were accustomed to do. O Domhnaill's horse rose up behind them, and made a vigorous onset on the guards. They wounded some of them; others of them escaped owing to the fleetness and speed of their galloping. O Domhnaill's men proceeded to drive off the horses of the English under their control.

[142] O Domhnaill comes to their aid with the force which remained with him, and they drove the horses before them. O Domhnaill commanded a squadron of his cavalry to go  p.263 with the horses as fast as they could, and not wait for him at all. This was done. O Domhnaill remained behind, and those he had chosen of his cavalry with him, and his foot soldiers also. When the English saw that their horses had been taken away from them, they rose up quickly to capture them, and took up their arms and set off in pursuit of O Domhnaill. The general Henry Docwra leaped on his horse, and the horsemen too, such as had horses and kept them in safe places and had not been separated from them. They set off in pursuit as fast as they could. When O Domhnaill saw the cavalry of the English in full speed after him, he stopped behind his foot with a body of horse by him, until the English horse came up with them. They made a quick, bold attack on O Domhnaill for the sake of their animals and to maintain their honour both. O Domhnaill met them valiantly and resolutely in the skirmish, and a fierce battle was waged between them on both sides, so that the horsemen of both were mixed with one another, and they set to slash and shoot each other vigorously. Aodh, son of Aodh Dubh O Domhnaill, and the commander Henry Docwra met face to face in the conflict. Aodh O Domhnaill cast a forked javelin he had in his hand at the leader, so that it struck him full in the forehead and wounded him severely. The leader turned back after being wounded in this way. The English, too, turned back in grief for the wounding of their trusted hero and their captain in the fight should be wounded, and they did not follow their enemies any farther. O Domhnaill's people went to their camp afterwards, and counted the English horses accurately. More than two hundred was their number. O Domhnaill divided them afterwards among his nobles according to their dignity and deserts.

[143] O Domhnaill continued to besiege the English, without moving from his country, to the end of October. He determined then to go to Thomond to ravage it. He assembled his forces after making up his mind, and he did not halt till he crossed the Sligeach westwards. He left Niall O Domhnaill,  p.265 son of Conn, son of Calvach, son of Maghnus, of his own family, behind him in the territory to guard it against the English, lest they should come to invade it in his absence. The English did not cease to entreat and implore, to urge and beseech Niall O Domhnaill secretly to enter into an alliance and friendship with them, and they foretold for him the kingship and chieftaincy of the territory if they were victorious, and they promised him many jewels and great wealth, and engagements and covenants, too, for the fulfilment of everything. He listened for a long time to these proposals which they were urging on him, till his ill fortune at last made him consent to join and unite with the English and be deceived and cajoled by their lying promises and by the evil counsels of envious, proud people who incited and urged him to that decision. Woe to the mind that conceived, woe to the heart that entertained, woe to the tongue that initiated the violent, ruinous, odious, malicious scheme that was plotted then! Woe to the kinsman who forsook the race of his own flesh, and his earthly lord, his friends and blood relations, to go plotting and uniting with his enemies and his foes! Alas! that they did not carry on and win the contest together, for it was not simple or easy to wound or maim them, to surround or circumvent them as long as they were in peace and amity with each other. However, his three brothers joined with Niall in that revolt, i.e. Aodh Buidhe, Domhnall, and Conn Óg. The English needed, too, that Niall and his brothers should come to them, for they were weary and fatigued in battle array and call to arms every night through fear of O Domhnaill, and they were diseased and distempered owing to the narrow quarters they were in and the old musty victuals and the bitter salt meat and the want of every condiment which they needed, and of fresh tasty meat especially. Niall O Domhnaill supplied them everything they lacked, and released them from the narrow prison in which they were. He took with him a thousand of their soldiers to Lifford, nine miles due west of Derry, on the bank of the same Loch. This was  p.267 a famous residence of O Domhnaill; it was not safe then, for there was no stronghold or stone built castle there for a long time, as it had been destroyed some time before, but only a poor earthen fort that had been made of clay and of sods of earth, and a narrow, shallow ditch of water around it waiting and needing the re-erection of the fortress that had been there before. The guard vacated the fort through fear when they observed the English approaching and that O Domhnaill was not near to aid them. Thereupon the English came to the castle and raised huge walls and ramparts of earth and stone for shelter, so that it was safe for defence and attack against their enemies.

[144] A certain man of O Domhnaill's own people went after him to tell him the news of the country, and related to him all that had taken place there. O Domhnaill wondered greatly, and was surprised that one who was kinsman and brother-in-law should turn against him, for Aodh's sister was Niall's wife. O Domhnaill returned from the province of Connacht, for he had not gone beyond Ballymote westwards into the province when the news reached him, and his forces turned back as fast as they could together, but yet his soldiers were not able to keep up with O Domhnaill, except a few of his horse, until he was very near Lifford, already mentioned. The English had not succeeded in making preys or depredations before O Domhnaill came back, but they were strengthening their camp and erecting ramparts, and when they heard that O Domhnaill had come, their fear did not allow them to leave the fortress in which they were for anything they needed. O Domhnaill halted at a place which was not very far from the English, until a few of his foot-soldiers came up with him.

[145] It seemed long to O Domhnaill that the English were not attacked, and he did not wait longer for his army, but he displayed before the English the small force which he had on the south side of Cruachan Lighean, to the north of the river. When the English saw them, they went out to meet  p.269 them, Niall O Domhnaill and his brothers being leaders of the fight. They skirmished with each other, though there was not an obstinate battle on that first day, but they were in readiness for each other, for the English did not think O Domhnaill had so small a force as he had, and they were greatly afraid an ambuscade was laid for them, and they did not wish to go very far from the town in consequence. So, too, with O Domhnaill's people, it would be unwise for them to go among their enemies in the neighbourhood of the fort, their forces being so few. They separated, therefore, from each other, though it was not for peace and friendship sake they separated. Some of them on both sides were wounded by the discharge of spears and arrows and of very sharp forked darts and of leaden balls, but more of O Domhnaill's people were wounded on account of their small number than of the English. The English returned to their houses after a while, and O Domhnaill and his people came to their camp, and O Domhnaill went away upset and angry, it preyed on him that his army had not reached him on that day, for he was sure that if he had it then, the English would not escape from him as they did. His army came to him afterwards and he closed in the siege on the English as soon as his soldiers came to him, and he encamped two miles from Lifford aforesaid, for the protection of the farmers, that they might secure the crops of corn which were near the English. He sent spies and scouts to the town every night, that no one was allowed in or out without passing over the river to the south, and he left no road or pass or means of escape for a mile from the town, on which there were not guards and ambuscades to keep watch and ward on the English lest they might pass through unnoticed, and on the sons of Conn O Domhnaill especially and their people, for these he thought more difficult to watch, and twas, they that caused such numerous ambuscades and guards. He was about thirty days there without moving away until the farmers and peasants of the country had succeeded in reaping and saving their corn, and they put in small baskets and meal-sacks to draw it away  p.271 and carry it off on horses and steeds till they stowed it in strong fortresses and safe places where the enemy would not reach it.

[146] Once, before O Domhnaill left that camp in which he was staying, he happened to go towards the English, to see if they would come out over the walls on the level plain. When O Domhnaill's people came before the town the English, reconnoitred and examined them; but they did not sally out against them, for they saw it was to challenge them to fight they had come. O Domhnaill's people returned by the same road, as they did not get what they were looking for. They made a halt on the bank of the river, which is called the Deel, to the north a short distance from the town. Large parties of them went to their camp and set about other tasks, for they did not think the English would follow them on that day precisely. When Niall O Domhnaill saw O Domhnaill's people scattered and unprepared, he told the English that they ought to make an attack on them. The English started to get their arms and put on their armour leisurely and carefully (at his bidding) in the middle of the fortifications that they might not be seen by the enemy until they had donned their arms and armour. When they were ready, they sallied out from the fortifications in battle array. Then they advanced to attack O Domhnaill's people in this manner, Niall and his brothers and people being in the van to show the way.

[147] O Domhnaill sees them coming in that array, and he was glad to see them advancing, and he put his soldiers in their proper places opposite, with their field pieces ?1 above them, and he did not allow them to be shot at till they were on the opposite bank of the river. When they met after that they were mixed together, and a fierce, inimical battle was fought by them, though their kinship was very close. The horsemen rushed at each other till they were striking one another with long limber pikes and grey-headed lances. Niall O Domhnaill made a thrust of the long, sharp lance he held in his hand at O Domhnaill's brother Maghnus, and the spear entered underneath his shoulder and penetrated his internal parts  p.273 through the hard leather tunic he had on. When Rury O Domhnaill, 'crown prince' of Cenél Conaill, saw his brother wounded in this way, he made a vigorous, bold, merciless attack on Niall, and aimed a forcible, furious thrust of a large spear straight at his breast. But when Niall saw the fierceness of Rury approaching him, and the thrust of the lance, he pulled hard the bridle-bit in the mouth of the high-rearing, foreign horse which he rode, and raised its head between them, so that the hard-tempered spear struck the horse straight in the forehead and pierced its brain. The socket of the spear was broken by Rury in drawing it back, and he left the iron head in the horse, so that he had only the broken staff in his hand. The horse died finally of this after coming to the town, when the iron was taken out.

[148] Sad indeed that 'twas not side by side these heroes launched the attack on their enemies and directed their energies against their foes, and that they were not on good terms, for their success was unbroken while they remained so, and they were victorious in the neighbouring territories they entered, and they would not have been banished from their native land by a foreign race, as happened afterwards. Woe to the country and fair land, woe to the territory and nation in which their ill-fortune allowed kinsmen and blood relations to hack and slaughter each other without sparing one another, as happened at that time!

[149] As for the English (during the time that the chiefs of whom we have spoken were attacking each other), they faced at once and in one body O Domhnaill's infantry. These retired before them for a short distance but yet only a few of them were wounded, for the English did not follow them beyond the field of battle, and the reason they did not follow was the wounding of their leader who had been pierced through in that engagement, so that they were obliged to return with him to Lifford, where he died afterwards. A large body of O Domhnaill's people followed them and proceeded to shoot and sabre them, so that many of them fell and were wounded,  p.275 and those in pursuit thought they would have been routed by them if the main body followed them up at once, but shame and regret did not allow the party which had been driven back at first to follow them again.

[150] O Domhnaill returned to his camp after the English had gone away. Those who were in the camp that night were doleful and sad on account of the son of their chief, who would have been their prince had he survived his brothers. Up to that time 'twas more often Cenél Conaill would proclaim aloud the praises of their victories and triumphs while boasting of their exploits and their heroism after routing their foes, instead of the clapping of hands of their soldiers and the lamentation of the women weeping for their friends and bewailing their champions; for they had not been heavily wounded nor suffered disaster from the time Aodh Ruadh obtained sovereignty and princedom over them up to that day. That was the first day their power was shaken and their victorious progress was checked; and as worldly power without reverses and happiness without eclipse are not pleasing to the one God, he gave a reverse of fortune to the success of the race of Lughaidh, son of Setna for a while. Even though people swayed by envy and jealousy, murmuring and resentment, spite and enmity, may say that it was to punish O Domhnaill's transgressions and injustice the glorious God turned on him then, that is not true indeed; but the reason why God did this was lest pride or haughtiness, desire or self-will, should turn Aodh O Domhnaill aside from the straightness of his judgment, his probity in ruling his kingdom, and lest by reason of his leadership and victory over the neighbouring territories he might set his mind and thoughts on his own strength and powers, rather than on the decrees and gifts of the Lord of Heaven and earth, who is able to humble the valiant and exalt the miserable; for this is what the one God often does, to throw the possessions and wealth of his faithful children who serve Him and do His behest and rule to his unfaithful children who fulfil not at all his testament nor his law. So  p.277 it happened to Aodh O Domhnaill and his brothers, whom the Lord turned from their course of victory, and gave them the Heavenly Kingdom afterwards. That was clear by the sad ending of their lives, and by the feeling of the 'sons of life' and learned confessors who were present at their deaths.

[151] When O Domhnaill came to the camp, as we have said, he ordered a litter woven of fair wattles to be made for Manus O Domhnaill to carry him over Bearnus westwards. The litter was made as was ordered, and Manus was carried in it. A great crowd of his companions and friends, too, accompanied him till they came to Donegal. A sick-bed was prepared for him there. O Domhnaill's physicians were brought to him to examine him, and they could not cure him. They said he was doomed. There were many religious of the Order of St. Francis in the monastery close to the castle to the west. Some of the wisest of these used to come to him to bind his friendship with the Lord. They proceeded to instruct and exhort him. He confessed his sins without any concealment, and admitted his transgressions then. He bewailed his sins before God, and he was sorry for his pride and arrogance in former times. He forgave also him who wounded him, and said that he himself was the cause of his death, for he first attacked Niall. He was in this way for a week preparing for death every single day, and a spouse of God of the said Order continually with him at the head of his bed to guard him against the snares of the devil. He gave his confidences frequently to his confessor, and received the Body of the Lord afterwards, and he died 22nd October, 1600, having gained victory over devil and world. It was the feeling of the religious who were present that he found favour with the Lord on account of his deserts. He was buried then in the tomb of his ancestors in the monastery of which we have spoken.

[152] His father, Aodh, son of Manus, son of Aodh Dubh, was in his dotage at that time, being tended near the monastery. He was told that his son had died. He bowed down greatly in lamentation and distress for his son so that he hastened on his  p.279 death. When he was coming to his end, he called his confessor and made his confession, and did fervent penance before God. He died very soon after, on the 7th of December, in margin 1600 after being freed from the bondage of devil and world. He was buried in the same tomb near his son, so that the relics and remains of both are in the same monastery to-day. He who died then, i.e. Aodh, son of Manus, son of Aodh Dubh, son of Aodh Ruadh, son of Niall Garbh, was lord of Cenél Conaill, Inis Eóghain, Cenél Moen and North Connacht, and of the lands of his elders and ancestors also for six and twenty years, until he was weakened by the English, and then he gave his lordship with his blessing to his son Aodh Ruadh after his escape from the English, as we have related. He was a man who obtained the sovereignty without treachery or fratricide, war or disturbance, after the death of his brother An Calvach. He was a valiant and warlike man, victorious in battle and fight during his chieftaincy and before it, an invader and plunderer of adjacent territories and those neighbours who were bound to obey him, asserting the right of his nation until he made them subject to his rule, a man who laid aside the cares and anxieties of the world after giving up his lordship to his son. He was meritorious in the sight of God earning guerdons for his soul for the space of eight years until he died at this time.

[153] As for O Domhnaill, after he had passed the thirty days that we have spoken of besieging the English, he arranged to leave the encampment where he was during that time and to go to another position, which was no less secure, a little further from the English on the western bank of the Finn, between them and Bearnus, as he feared the cold of the rough winter weather for his soldiers, who were every night keeping watch and ward against the English, for indeed it was then Hollantide, and he thought it time to bring his army to comfortable quarters after their great toil, for they had not slept in quietness for a long time. They moved off then to the place we have mentioned. They made a camp there in the  p.281 shelter of a wood very near the river. They made bothies and buildings afterwards, and they set to lop down the forest all round them until they made a strong palisade, intricate, impenetrable, of the thick trees, between them and their enemies, so that it was not easy to attack them through it. When O Domhnaill left off the siege in which he had been engaged, the people of Niall O Domhnaill in squads and companies were seeking to attack their friends and companions, spying about and examining the territory, to see whether they might get a chance of a prey or spoil for the English. Their friends used to meet them secretly at times with information of the danger points and news of the country generally. Some of them, whose deceit and treachery were quite clear, were hanged by O Domhnaill. Their excursion was of no use to the spies, since O Domhnaill did not allow his people to be negligent, for he was himself with his forces between them and the English to protect them, and it was useless for any one to attempt to plunder them in spite of him. O Domhnaill did not go from that place till the end of forty days; there was no plunder, booty, or attack by either of them on the other, himself or the English.

[154] In the fulness of time and season word came to him that a ship had come from Spain into the harbour of Inbhear Mór, in the west of the province of Connacht. His mind and thoughts cheered up at this, for it was a sign of success to him, as he supposed a body of troops and aid from the King would follow. He sent his messengers to the place where O Néill was, bringing the tidings with them and inviting him to come to him. He himself took to the road across Bearnus with a troop of horse, and left his army in their camp with his brother Rury O Domhnaill in command of them. When he crossed Bearnus, he halted but a short time until he passed the Erne, the Drowes, the Dubh, Magh Cettne of the Fomorians, the Sligeach, to Tír Fiachrach of the Moy. As the feast of the Lord's Nativity was very near then, what he did was to write letters to the ship, and these were the contents: to sail with the first fair wind that would come from the south-west to  p.283 the harbour of Cealla Beaga in Tír Boghaine, and they would find himself and O Néill before them there. O Domhnaill himself remained in Tír Fiachrach of the Moy until he had completed the celebration of the feast of the Lord. He went back eastwards to the Sligeach again. It was told him that O Néill was on the way to meet him through Magh Ccettne, due westwards, so that O Domhnaill marched quickly on the road towards him, and they met face to face. He welcomed him. They turned back together to the Saimer eastwards, and from that to Donegal. They remained there for the space of a fortnight, awaiting the above mentioned ship. They convened to them there the chiefs and nobles of the province of Ulster, whosoever was subject to O Néill from Loch Foyle to the Boyne. There came also the noblemen of the province of Connacht, such as were always under his rule and his sharing, to O Domhnaill to request grants of spears and guns, arms and armour, and their share of every kind of assistance too that might come to him, as was usual with them. The nobles were revelling and feasting during that time with the choicest of food and drink.

[155] The ship came thereafter to the harbour of Cealla Beaga in Tír Boghaine. The chiefs went to report to it. There was a famous Bishop aboard. He landed, and the messengers with him. The nobles welcomed them, and especially the Bishop. They were placed in an apartment by themselves after a while, and entertainment and attendance were given them, with honour and respect, as was fitting, and they shed the fatigue and weariness of the sea. They spoke to them then and asked them the reason of their coming. They told them the business on which they had come, was to strengthen them against their enemies lest they should abandon hope of aid from the King of Spain, and that they had brought with them six thousand pounds first, to give it to them as pay for soldiers and supplies, and that more money would come next time, and the help of an army, as was promised. O Domhnaill and O Néill went into conference, and the minds of both  p.285 were troubled on account of the money, for they were sure that their enemies would look down on them on account of the smallness and meanness of the aid which had come, and that their own people and their friends and kinsmen would be distrustful of them as soon as they would learn how little concern the King of Spain had for the Irish and that all he had done was to temporise ? and make little of them, so that the nobles decided to refuse the money at first. However, they did not wish to awaken the wrath of the Spaniards, for there was no true friend to whom they could complain of their trials or troubles, who had power to aid them in the straits they were in, but the King of Spain. They took the money for that reason, and not through avarice or a desire of wealth. They thanked the King in the person of his messengers for what he had bestowed on them, and they gave five hundred pounds to the messengers themselves. O Domhnaill's people put on board the ship for them plenty of flesh-meat of heavy milk-fed calves, and of white-fleeced crook-horned wethers. The messengers sailed back then by the same way with the first breeze of north-east wind. The princes returned to Donegal, and their money was divided into two parts between O Domhnaill and O Néill, and they gave it as a stipend to their supporters and confederates, for their mercenaries and supplies. The Bishop we have mentioned stayed with O Domhnaill and the 'sons of life' in the monastery, and spent a long time with them. He was another while with O Néill; so he was—on a visit to each of them in turn—till at last he left Ireland.


11. The Tenth Year, 1601

[156] When the princes came to Donegal the second time, the nobles and leaders separated from each other. O Néill with his people went to their homes. The people of Connacht and all who had come from that province returned to their countries and their castles. O Domhnaill himself went through Bearnus and over the Finn until he came to the camp in which he had left his army on guard against the English, to strike at them going to plunder the territory after his departure, that it might not be found in danger or neglected. That strict watch was so kept by them that the English made no raid or incursion against them worth mention during the time that O Domhnaill was settling the matters aforementioned. There was only one occasion when the English of Derry made a fierce, merciless attack on Seaán Óg O Dochartaigh, to see if they might find an opportunity of wounding or seizing him. For it was putting a head in a lion's den or a hand in a griffin's nest to attack him at all so long as luck and success were helping him and his earthly lord. When the English of whom we have spoken came face to face with O Dochartaigh, each of them attacked the other with merciless hatred till the English were routed. Many of them were slain, around the colonel who was their leader in battle, a famous knight named Sir John Chamberlain. O Dochartaigh returned triumphant. Alas! this was his last victory and triumph over the English while defending his patrimony and his home from them, for soon after an insufferable fit and a violent sickness seized on him, and he went speedily to the other world, January 27th precisely. The death of him who died then was sad and doleful, for hardly was there a chief of any cantred in the island of Eremon in these latter days who was braver and more valiant in deeds of war and arms than he. He was great in renown  p.289 and deeds, in hospitality and profusion, in fame and excellence. He who died then was stern, vigorous in helping, he was active, courageous in attack. Messengers came with news of his death to the place where O Domhnaill was.

[157] He fell into great sorrow and grief thereat, and it lay very heavily on his mind. He set out immediately, for O Dochartaigh's death was not a cause of comfort to him. He left his forces in the camp all but a few whom he took with him, and having assembled those who were noble of the race of Fiamhan, son of Cennfaeladh (to whom the chieftaincy of Inis Eóghain belonged), in one place to meet him, to see which of the chief men he should appoint to the headship of the cantred of which we have spoken, he resolved, after consideration, to give the title of chief to Feilim Óg O Dochartaigh; he was the brother of Seaán Óg, who died as we have said, as he was the oldest in years, and the noblest by blood, for the daughter of Manus O Domhnaill was his mother. Her name was Rose. The princely call was then given for these same reasons to Feilim in presence of all the chiefs at Ard na dTaoiseach, in the townland of Aighedh Caoin, and the title of O Dochartaigh was conferred on him.

[158] When he had completed this he went back to his camp and ordered his forces to strengthen the palisade which they had cut all round, and not to be careless in standing to arms or maintaining armed guard night and day, lest they might allow the English or the sons of Conn O Domhnaill to go past them unawares to ravage or plunder the territory. This was done exactly as he bade. When neither the English nor Niall and his brothers with his people discovered any weakness or neglect, in the watch and ward which was kept on them continually by O Domhnaill they could endure without going out in another direction, in their need to seek for food and supplies of fresh meat; wherefore they resolved to take a large body of chosen horse and foot across the old river across the Finn into Cenél Eóghain Mic Néill. They marched forward in order until they came to Gleann Aichle, in Cenél Eóghain,  p.291 and that whole district was plundered by them. They also defeated the sons of Ferdorcha, son of Eoin, son of Domhnall Óg at Cnoc Bhoidhbh Deirg, and Turloch Óg O Coinne was captured by Niall O Domhnaill, and was not set free from fetters till sixty marks in silver were paid for him. Newtown and Castlederg (these were two famous castles) were taken by them later; and they plundered of all their goods anyone whom they found in them. Niall with his brother and the English, returned to Lifford after that expedition.

[159] As for O Domhnaill, he was resting at this time hearing of Niall and the English, and neither of them attacked the other. As O Domhnaill continued thus messengers came to him with letters from some of his confidants and friends who were in the neighbourhood of Dublin and used to hear news of the town and of the Council also. The purport of the letters was that one of the nobles of the old English was one day, about his own business and affairs in the appointed house where the clerks and secretaries of the Council were, and that he read a letter amongst the writings there, in which was a bond of friendship between O Conor Sligo, Donncha, son of Cathal Óg, and the Lord Deputy, to spy upon and deliver up Aodh Ruadh O Domhnaill no matter how, by wounding or capture, to the Lord Deputy and Council. The good nobleman thought it a pity that this wicked plot and evil design should be planned against the prince and chief without having compassion on him and helping him if he could, though he was with all his land, wealth and property under the control and power of the English. Wherefore what he did was to communicate it secretly to a certain faithful Catholic bishop who was O Domhnaill's true friend, and this was the purport of the letters that reached him then. O Domhnaill was exceedingly distressed after reading the letters, and he was a long time without speaking to any one, and he did not sleep or eat in comfort for a very long space, for he was grieved at the danger and great peril in which he himself was, twas worse than his death to him to think that this man whom he took into favour and friendship  p.293 at the point and edge of the sword, and to whom he gave large presents of every kind, and of every sort of flocks and herds and wealth besides, to establish him and let him inhabit his lands and freeholds should set himself up in opposition and enmity to him once more. Another thing also put O Domhnaill in anxiety and trouble: he feared that critics and wiseacres would be fault-finding him behind his back if he were to seize O Conor and accuse him of betraying him, without his being guilty. This is what he decided to do finally, after a great deal of perplexity, to send some of his trusty men and well-wishers to Aodh O Néill to discuss and enquire into that problem with him and to take counsel with him what he should do. When they had come into the presence of the prince O Néill they told him privately the business they had come on. O Néill set himself to ponder carefully for a long time what advice he should give O Domhnaill in his perplexity. The message he sent him in the end was this: since he thought it certain, from the trusted nobles who had given him warning and compassion, that treachery and guile had been plotted against him, it was meet and just to put another man. in fetters rather than allow his own death to come of it or his imprisonment or bondage as had happened to him at the time of his guesting and boyhood betrayal, as we have narrated. O Domhnaill's people returned to him with those suggestions from O Néill, and reported all as we have said.

[160] O Domhnaill then selected a troop of horse, the choicest of his youths, in whom he had most hope and trust, and he did not let out to anyone of them what was in his mind, but merely ordered them to be ready for action on the spot whatever he should ask of them. They promised with one voice to do so. He marched rapidly after that with his troop of horse, without halt or stay, till he came to Grange in Cairbre Droma Cliabh, and he sent messengers before him to summon O Conor to him at that place. He came as he was ordered to do. When they came face to face with each other, he ordered his people to seize on O Conor. He was obeyed instantly, and the young  p.295 men warned him not to show any fight or resistance, for he would be slain if he opposed them, and he would be kept as a hostage by O Domhnaill as long as he pleased. The soldiers proceeded to guard him openly after that. O Domhnaill, however, returned to his camp, and he sent O Conor for safe keeping to Loch Iascach.

[161] As for O Domhnaill, he was again engaged with his forces in the same battle array, as we have said, so that there was no danger of wound or capture, of depredation or plunder for any of his faithful people then, neither did the English or Niall O Domhnaill and his brothers dare to leave the fortress which they had first come to, on the side where he was. There took place a great contention of battle some time before that about the division of their territory between the Earl of Clanrickard, i.e., Ulick, son of Rickard Sasanach, and his kinsmen the sons of Seaán na Seamar, son of Rickard Sasanach; Réamonn, Liam, Seaán Óg, and Tomás were their names. These were filled with suspicion and envy, spite and hatred against Ulick because he was chosen for the chieftaincy, and because of every old grudge which happened between them for a long time which it would be tedious to set forth now; and the sons of Seaán were driven and banished from one place to another, after doing intolerable depredation and robbery in their native place on their enemies and on the faithful subjects of the Earl especially, so that they found no place or spot where it was safer for them to go for their protection and to exercise their vigour and their enmity on their cousin the Earl than with O Domhnaill, for they were certain that if aid and help would come to them from any one at all of the Irish it would come from him alone. They came to him then.

[162] A short time after they came to the place where O Domhnaill was, the Earl Ulick died in the month of May of this year, 1601, and his son Rickard was inaugurated in his place. A desire and longing seized him in the pride of his strength, through vanity and vain glory, after his inauguration to  p.297 go and avenge his wrongs and enmity on all the people who were under the authority and sway of O Domhnaill, and not to stop until he would come to the bank of the Sligeach if he could. This was proper, for he with all his territory had claims on O Domhnaill and his people, if they were able to levy them on them, for many were their plunderings and visitations of them in their countries. There assembled to him, by command of the Lord Deputy, Lord Mountjoy, some of the large companies which the English had placed in the strong castles and principal fortresses of Munster, any that happened to be near him viz., in Limerick, Kilmallock, Askeaton, and in the other forts besides. The forces which the Queen had in the principal fortresses of the province of Connacht in Galway, Athlone, etc., were also in readiness to join him. When these chiefs had assembled in one place and presented themselves to the Earl of Clanrickard, to whom the chief command had been given, they decided with one mind to march first in force to the monastery of Boyle to see if they could, through neglect or by chance go from that to Sligo. As for O Domhnaill, the first time the news reached him that these musters of great armies were marching towards him, he sent out wide-spread watches on the usual roads by which he thought the Earl with his forces would come towards him. His war preparations and defences against the foreign race were all the weaker owing to the division and scattering which he had made of his soldiers in the several places where they were, viz., strong bodies in the ambuscade and encampments of which we have spoken, on watch for the English who were in Derry and Lifford and for Niall O Domhnaill and his brothers especially, large numbers in the royal castles to guard them against the enemy, so that they might not leave them in danger without any protection at all. These were the castles: the island on Loch Iascach, Donegal, Bellashanny, Collooney, and Ballymote, and others of his troops were with himself in case he might encounter some special difficulty anywhere.


[163] When the Earl with his army had gone across the river called Suca, and heard of the position and situation in which O Domhnaill's men were along the well known roads and the usual passes, and that he himself would come in force to aid them if they were in strait or need, what he did was to move swiftly with his forces due east by the smooth roads of the level part of the plain of Magh Aoi until they came to Elphin, on the confines of Magh Luirg and Uí Briúin na Sionna, Clann Cathail, and Magh Aoi an Fhinnbendaigh. Meantime, when it was reported to O Domhnaill that the Earl with his forces was coming to that place, he was not slow or negligent, but he set out and hastened by day and by night with the greatest number of troops he could, and encamped part for part, opposite the other camp. They were facing each other thus for one night. Bloody, shot-showering, wounding, gore-smiting were the fierce attacks, the hard insufferable onsets waged between them on both sides, too tedious to recount singly. However, many of their soldiers were slain outright and others were laid in blood and wounds, till both were weary and tired of each other in the end, so that the Earl thought it time to return with his forces to their lands and homes. Great ruin and destruction of dwellings and crops was wrought by the Earl and his army on their way back upon their enemies, i.e., the race of O Conor Ruadh and the race of O Ceallaigh, partisans and friends to O Domhnaill.

[164] As for Niall O Domhnaill and his brothers and the English, when they heard of O Domhnaill's going into the province of Connacht with the main part of his army and the campaign he was in with the Earl of Clanrickard and the English, as we have said, and how the soldiers and guards, affrighted and dilatory, whom O Domhnaill had left to keep ward for him to the east of Bearnus, had separated from each other to obtain food and provisions, he was certain that unless he went with his forces then through Bearnus, it would not be pleasant or easy for him to attack it at any other time, if O Domhnaill was at hand, anywhere throughout the whole  p.301 territory; whereupon he ordered all under his command of English and Irish to march very actively and swiftly with him to the intricate and difficult Bearnus, which faced them. This plan was executed for him immediately, and they marched then in large heavy companies and dense, strong bands along the direct road to speckled-hilled Bearnus. Niall sent a body of horse in front of them to reconnoitre and examine the winding narrow road which was before them, to see if there was ambush or ward on it from the camp in which O Domhnaill's forces were, as was their custom always. There was hardly any but a small body for, after O Domhnaill had gone away into Connacht, as we have already said, they had scattered about the neighbouring country on account of their need of provisions. This small body and the scouts which Niall had sent on before him met. They were routed by Niall and his people, and some of them were slain. When the few outposts of O Domhnaill's people that we have mentioned saw that they could not hold the road against the large body, and when they estimated the great force which was marching slowly towards them, they determined not to give victory or triumph over them to their enemies, but to yield the passage to them without attempting to defend it any longer against them, and to avoid them on that occasion, so that Niall advanced thus with his huge array without stop or stay, and they made their camp in the monastery of Donegal, the place where the sons of life and the psalm-singing elders of the Order of St. Francis used to say the divine office and offer Mass without disturbance by English or Irish since first this Aodh Ruadh O Domhnaill assumed the chieftaincy up to that time; and, moreover, they had never before been driven or banished from that dwelling, from the first moment that blessed gabled roof had been granted them by that royal star that was prophesied, Aodh Ruadh, son of Niall Garbh, son of Turloch of the Wine except during the very short space of time of which we have spoken already, before the last Aodh Ruadh was inaugurated in the chieftaincy of his native country. It was  p.303 not long till he brought them back to their retired dwellings and to their cells of jointed wood, so that they were serving the Lord fervently, lacking for naught, during his reign, either clothing or food, up to that day. Not well-born was the great grandson of that valiant, racial stock, that bush of protection, that immovable cliff, that sledge of smiting and of crushing enemies, namely Aodh Ruadh son of Niall Garbh, who gave that notable grant to God and to the holy Order of St. Francis, for the good of his own soul and his root stock in past times and his progeny in the future, by whom it was now being handed over in its wealth to the outlaw stranger race and the hereditary enemy of the ancient progeny of Gaoidheal Glas son of Niall from times long gone.

[165] When Niall with his brothers and the English succeeded in coming to the monastery of which we have spoken, his mind was at ease at arriving there, for the place where he found himself was a secure fortress, and it was not necessary for the soldiers to dig ramparts or trenches around them, for there was enough of them already. It was convenient, too, for ravaging and plundering the country generally whenever the mixed troops which were in it pleased, since there was no strong force attacking it or beseiging it. He sent some of his people and of the English to Machaire Beag, to the west of Donegal. This was another church which his ancestors had given some time before to another body of the same Order, and it was safe to take shelter in for the same reason.

[166] As for O Domhnaill, after he and the Earl of Clanrickard had parted from each other, as we have just said, news reached him that Niall O Domhnaill with his English had gone through the famous Bearnus to Donegal, and how they had arrived and all they had done. It was a great grief to him that he could not be before them and prepared for their coming through narrow mouthed Bearnus and through the difficult, intricate way by which they had come, for he was full sure that he could inflict his heart's fill of slaughter and injuries on them had he been ready for them. But yet he made little or nothing  p.305 of the news which was told him, but hid the trouble that was in his inmost heart, for it was his usual habit whenever he heard anything which put him in grief or sadness, to show no sign of low spirits at all, but twas a merry and agreeable face he would show clearly before all who were in his presence. Moreover, it was a great consolation to him in his sorrow that there was but a small number of his people and but little of their flocks and cattle north of the Saimer then, for long before an order had been given by him to his people to go with all their goods and flocks to the province of Connacht, i.e., into the territory of Cairbre, son of Niall, and to Uí Fiachrach of the Moy, and they proceeded to settle and dwell in these territories even before the fleet of ships came, which had already reached the Loch of Feabhal, son of Lottan. But yet he thought it a great misfortune that Niall and his English should not have been attacked by them, and that they should not have been allowed to go outside the strong places which they had seized to seek for booty or plunder, so what he did was to collect his army immediately at the other side of the Erne to the north, and he prepared his camp very near the places where the English were. He posted his strong, vigorous sentinels and his nimble, light-armed warders on certain marshes and gaps of danger, so that rogues and thieves might not escape in the darkness of the night or in secret guise to seek what they needed or carry additional food after them from the forts they had first come to, so that hardship and great scarcity sprang up in the camps of Niall and the English in consequence. They sent letters by a servant boy, whom they let out secretly, to the famous Derry, the place where they had landed first, praying the commanders of the fleet who were still there to send one of their ships from Derry, of which we have spoken, straight along the coast of the north with the supplies they needed, both arms and food, since O Domhnaill prevented all coming and going or visiting the country on any side, to take a prey or bring them sustenance, and if this was not done on their behalf, that they would have to abandon the camps  p.307 in which they were or forfeit their lives to their enemies. What they asked was not delayed, for the capacious ship was fitted out in good trim, and she sailed with a breeze of north-easterly wind, until she anchored in the deep part of the ferrybank opposite the monastery where they were. The time which both armies spent in the contentions of which we have spoken was not happy or pleasant, but the wrathful, vindictive, fierce attacks were cutting, sharp, destructive, venomous, wound-giving, bloody, and the conflicts were firm, obstinate, injuring mortally, hostile, which were fought between them on both sides, so that it would be tedious to relate the skirmishes and devastations of each succeeding day, but only that large bodies of soldiers, recruits, and warriors were slaughtered and slain between them on this side and that at once, and others were laid in blood and gore, in gashes and wounds which were never wholly cured, so that they were wasted away to death.

[167] They continued both of them in this way on guard against each other till the last days of the month of September, 1601. At that time the Lord displayed his powers against the people who dwelt in the cells and homes of the sons of life and of the guileless Orders, and by whom they were driven out and scattered about in the woods and winding glens as if they were wolves and wild beasts. The first vengeance, then, which God took on them, however it happened, whether from heaven or from earth, was, that fire flared up in the barrels of powder which they had in the monastery of Donegal in preparation and readiness for the war they were waging continuously against the Irish and against O Domhnaill in particular, so that the powder exploded in the air on high, and its smoke was not higher than its red flame which reached the top of the lime-mortared coping stone ?, the windows and skylights and all the buildings of stone and wood of the blessed church above that were near the powder, and it consumed the well-made rood-screen and the cells formed of wood, and the elegant carven beams too, which were built skilfully below. The stones and the wood and the men, wholly and completely,  p.309 without any separation of their bodies, were mixed up in flight and hovering above for a long time, and they fell on the ground charred corpses, and some of them fell on the heads of the people beneath them when coming back to earth, so that many of them were burnt to death in that way.

[168] When the sentinels and guards which were set by O Domhnaill over the English perceived the dense cloud of vapour and the strong, unusual, extraordinary smoke, that lay above the monastery, they set to shoot vigorously their leaden balls and bright-firing flashes in order to summon O Domhnaill and his army to come in haste and attack the English, for it was the noisy shots that were employed as the readiest, quickest messengers to tell him to come to their aid. That summons was not answered very hesitantly by O Domhnaill and his forces, for they advanced as fiercely and rapidly as they could in crowds and troops to the place where their people were near the monastery.

[169] They came to close quarters in the contest on both sides after that. They were the faces of enemies in the field, and they were not the faces of friends at feasting, which the kinsmen and the blood relations showed each other then. It was difficult, impossible, for O Domhnaill's forces to return the fire of the soldiers who were in the monastery, on account of the great strength of the surrounding walls protecting them from them and the showers of shot of the soldiers who were to the west of them in the castle of Donegal, and also the firing of the heavy bullets of iron and lead cast upon them by the crew of the heavily manned ship which was facing them in the deep part of the harbour to the west. But yet O Domhnaill's people were stronger in the fight. When Niall O Domhnaill saw his people and the English being overwhelmed in stress of combat he considered in his mind how he might relieve them. Wherefore, what he did was to escape secretly, bravely and speedily, by the edge of the harbour due west to Machaire Beag, where there was a large body of English (as we have said), and he brought them with him by the same road to the aid of his own  p.311 people and of the English. The crew of the ship of which we have spoken proceeded to parry and thrust on their behalf until they passed over the midmost walls of the monastery. The force he brought with him came just in time for him and his people, for O Domhnaill's people would have been victorious only for that. When O Domhnaill perceived the great strength of the place in which Niall and his English were, and the great force that had come to attack them, he thought it wrong that his people should be destroyed in unequal contest any longer, and he ordered his soldiers to cease from attack and to go to their camp. This was immediately done at his bidding.

[170] Many of them were slain on this side and that. Amongst the nobles who fell on O Domhnaill's side in the fight were Tadhg, son of Cathal Óg Mac Diarmuda of the noble race of Sliocht Maelruanaidh, from Magh Luirg, with a large number besides. There fell on the other side Conn Óg, son of Conn, brother of Niall O Domhnaill, and three hundred besides, including wounded and burnt. This Conn who fell then was a spearhead in battle and fight and usually won 'victory of each first wound.' O Domhnaill afterwards moved his camp a little nearer the monastery, and he sent some of his people to besiege Machaire Beag, where the English had first settled, whom Niall took with him to the aid of his people, as we have said. On the feast of Michael the Archangel this happened, according to the day of the week.

[171] Thus was O Domhnaill blockading Niall and his English and putting him in a tight corner and intolerable straits from the end of September to the end of October, without any important deed worthy of record having been done between them during that time, until news came to him of the oversea fleet which had come from the King of Spain to aid them against their enemies, as he had promised them long before. The place where the Spanish fleet put in was in the harbour of Kinsale, at the mouth of the Bandon river, on the confines of De Courcy's country on the one side, and of Kinelea, i.e., the patrimony  p.313 of Barry Óg, on the other. Don Juan de Aguila was the name of the general who was in command of them. When they landed there, they put the fortress of Kinsale under their command and power. They distributed their commanders and nobles, their chiefs and captains in the well furnished forts of the town, and the troops for battle and fight in the passes of danger and at the points of defence, to watch and ward, by turns in order as their officers instructed them. They then landed from their ships all the supplies they had, both arms and ordnance, powder and lead, food and drink. Their ships returned to their own lands and to their merchants, for they had it not in mind to be carried back in them in a short time.

[172] There was a certain castle to the west of the harbour of Kinsale named Rincorran, in the territory of Barry Óg, in Kinelea exactly. The Spaniards put some of their distinguished men to guard and garrison this castle. They then set about fortifying their camp, and entrenching it, erecting and planting the ordnance close all round on steady, strong carriages, for they were certain that the Lord Deputy would come with the Queen's army to attack them as soon as the news would reach them. When the Lord Deputy was told that they had taken that place and all they had done, he assembled as great a force as he could without delay or stop until he came to meet them, so that they were face to face with each other. The President of the two provinces of Munster came there likewise with his forces; the Earl of Clanrickard came with his troops; and not these only but every head of a host and every lord of a territory who was submissive and obedient to the Queen in Munster, in Leinster, in Meath, and in Connacht. They came and pitched their camps opposite Kinsale and Rincorran exactly. Sleep or repose, sortie or sally was not allowed to the Spaniards who were within Rincorran, but there were violent shooting conflicts and fierce bloody attacks on them night and day, so that they were obliged at last to come out disbanded and unarmed under the protection and security of the Lord Deputy, and when he  p.315 promised them protection he divided them among the chief towns of Munster until he should know how the conflict would go with the other party who were in Kinsale.

[173] The Lord Deputy with his forces and the others who were besieging Rincorran up to that were at the same business at first firing and shooting at the Spaniards who were in Kinsale. Anon they begged and besought them by fine words and nice promises to come under the clemency and protection of the Lord Deputy, as the others had done who came out of Rincorran. They said that it was not usual for the soldiers of the country from which they had come to betray their honour or their temporal lord, and that it was not easy to cheat them by means of unmeaning promises or deceitful devices, and that they would not violate their promise to the true prince whom they served, by whom they were sent to aid the nobles who were in stress of warfare and battle against them, defending their faith and fatherland, of which they wished to rob them daily. Meantime they were in such a state that both parties were tired and weary, owing to the long time they were in battle array attacking one another without sleep or food, pleasure or enjoyment, each of them on the alert and prepared for the other day and night. But yet it was more severe on the Lord Deputy and his army to be in this condition than on the Spaniards, for these were more accustomed to sieges against and for themselves, and 'twas oftener they were tested in every practice of war, for most of the warlike race to which they belonged were reared and brought up to it, and they had brought many lands and dwellings, territories and lordships under their authority and power for the sake of their faith, virtue, intelligence by valour, bravery, and success in war, so that it was not easy to oppose them unless ill-luck befell those whom they aided. For this reason the Lord Deputy thought of going back to Dublin and scattering his soldiers throughout the principal strongholds of Southern Ireland, if the Earl of Thomond had not come by order of the Queen from England to Ireland to help the Lord Deputy with four thousand choice troops, and landed on the side of Kinsale where the Lord Deputy was.


[174] One night during that time the Spaniards made a fierce, vigorous attack, and they came outside their walls to the camp of the Lord Deputy and to the place where the ordnance was which was breaking and dashing down the battlements, the stone and timber works, erected by them all round, and the plan they adopted was to pack some of the loud-voiced guns with sharp stones, beams, blocks, and wedges, after killing the soldiers that were guarding them. They were observed at this work, and the forces of the Lord Deputy attacked them, and they proceeded to wound and slaughter each other for a great part of the night, and the Spaniards returned victorious and steady to their camp at last, and many were slain by them and of them. They thought little of their loss as they had done an equal amount to grieve their enemies. There was no cessation day or night between the two camps since they engaged each other, without death-wounds and flowing of blood on one side and on the other, and slaughter to the last day on which came the final separation and the decisive battle.

[175] As for O Domhnaill, when he was told that the Spanish fleet had made the harbour of Kinsale, as we have said, he left the siege in which he was engaged against Niall O Domhnaill and the English who were in the monastery of Donegal, as we have said, and he made little or nothing of every problem except to go meet the Spaniards, for they and their King were his one confidence and his one hope of assistance, and it was on this account his war had been first waged. Satisfaction and joy filled him at their coming, and he thought it of little importance that the English should remain or dwell in the castles they had seized in his territory, for he was sure they would abandon them at once if the Irish and the Spaniards were victorious in the contest with the Lord Deputy at Kinsale then. Wherefore, what he did in consequence was to send his proclamation and summons to those who were under his control and power from Tory in the north to the most southern part of Uí Maine, and from Srubh Brain, in Inis Eóghain Mic Néill, to Erris in the west, to muster and gather  p.319 to him in one place at Ballymote. He waited there until the feast of Samhain was celebrated by him, and all his forces had assembled to meet him in companies and troops, with heroic spirit and courage, each lord of a territory and each chief of a district in one body separately, marching slowly in their order, until they succeeded in showing their muster one by one to the prince.

[176] The first who came at his call were the race of Conall Gulban, son of Niall, in all their strength, except Niall O Domhnaill and his brothers. There came the three smiters in battle whom he and his race always had, i.e., the three Mac Suibhnes of the race of Eóghan, son of Niall, from Fanad, from the districts of Tory, and from Tír Boghaine. There came also the most illustrious of the race of Brian, son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhoin, with their great muster, all but O Conor Sligo, i.e., Donncha, son of Cathal Óg, whom he had in fetters, as we have said. O Ceallaigh came too, i.e., Fear Dorcha, and the greatest number that could come from Uí Máine with him. There came also those who dwelt in Connacht of the race of Cormac Gaileang, son of Tadhg, son of Cian, son of Oilioll Oluim, and his peoples. O Dubhda of the race of Fiachra, son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhoin, came with the gathering of Uí Fiachrach of the Moy. MacWilliam Burke came likewise, i.e., Tibbot, son of Walter, son of Seaán, son of Oliver, with all his army. There were besides with O Domhnaill then the nobles who had come from many districts in expulsion and banishment, to complain of their sufferings and hardships, to see if he could succeed in aiding or helping them against the oppression in which they were held by the English and by some of their own people. Of these were the sons of Seaán Burke, i.e., Seaán na Seamar, son of Rickard Sasanach, Réamonn, Liam, and Tomás. With them was FitzMaurice of Kerry, Tomas, son of Pádraigín, son of Tomás, son of Eamon, son of Tomas, and the Knight of Glin, Éamon, son of Tomás, and Tadhg Caoch, son of Turloch Mac Mathghamhna, and Diarmuid Maol, son  p.321 of Donncha Mac Carthaigh. Fit for a king was the guise and report of the mighty mustered army O Domhnaill had there if it were pleasing to the glorious God that strength and supremacy should attend them. It is indeed, certain that some of the Kings of Éire took possession of the island of Ugaine with a smaller army than the fierce, vigorous force which assembled here together, even without the aid of the active, joyful crowd of heroes assembled by O Néill on that numerous, gladsome hosting which he had following after.

[177] After that the large forces marched on the second day of the month of November by very slow marches, advancing from Ballymote to Ballinafad by the shore of Loch Cé, to Elphin, through the county of Roscommon, to the east of the county of Galway to Síl Anmchadha, to Bél an tSnámha, to Ath Cróchda on the Shannon; thence afterwards to Delvin Mic Cochláin. That territory was plundered and spoiled entirely by them, and they produced a heavy cloud of fire throughout it, and they burned MacCochláin's own castle. The territories through which they had come were obedient to them up to that. After that they went through Fir Ceall over the upper part of Sliav Bladhma to Uí Cairín. A camp was made by O Domhnaill and his forces on the hill of Druim Saileach in Uí Cairín, and he remained in that place for a month awaiting O Néill, who was marching slowly and steadily after him. The forces did not cease going about searching and seeking, plundering and exploring the territories all round during that time wherever they met opposition, and especially every place that was faithful to the English, and those who were most likened to them. He came on the feast day of Andrew exactly to the Holy Cross of Uachtar Lamhan for a blessing and protection with a group of monks of the monastery of Holy Cross convoying him, and he presented them with many donations and offerings and alms, and they were thankful. They could not leave that place readily, owing to the unusual ice and to the heavy slippery snow which fell then.


[178] When the Lord Deputy of Ireland heard that O Domhnaill and his army were marching in that array to attack him, he greatly feared and hated to be put in a fix or in dire straits between the Spaniards and the Irish; and that visiting or occupying the country, hither or yon, to bring them the supplies they needed would be taken from his people entirely; so that they must die of cold or hunger, since transport of food and fuel would be prevented; or otherwise they must surrender and give themselves up to their enemies and come under their protection and security, as the Spaniards who were in Rincorran had come unto him already. Wherefore, for this reason he ordered the President of the two provinces of Munster, Sir George Carew, to go with four thousand chosen heroes and armed soldiers by a narrow pass and a safe entrance ? to meet O Domhnaill, to see whether he could divert him from his path or prevent him from the plans he had in mind. When O Domhnaill heard that the President with that haughty army had arrived in the neighbourhood of Cashel, neither fear, nor dread, nor death-shiver seized him, but he marched on due west by Upper Ormond, by Clanwilliam of the bank of the Shannon, by the gate of Limerick south-westwards, day and night, without stop or stay until he crossed the Maigue into Uí Conaill Gabhra. When the President saw that the foresight and the plans made by himself and the Lord Deputy had come to naught, and that O Domhnaill and his army had passed them by the roads which he thought they would not come at all, he returned to the place where the Lord Deputy was, so that both together might fight their battle.

[179] It was then that O Domhnaill sent choice troops and strong bodies of his forces to the aid of FitzMaurice of Kerry, who was with him during the past year (as we have said), and some of FitzMaurice's own people to guide them through the territory of Clanmorris to see could they get a chance of seizing through weakness or danger some of FitzMaurice's castles. O Domhnaill ordered FitzMaurice himself to remain with him until he knew how fared the party which they had  p.325 sent against the force that opposed them then. The journey they went was of profit to O Domhnaill's people, for they plundered and preyed many of FitzMaurice's enemies who were the cause of his having come in exile and banishment to O Domhnaill, and three of the chief castles of the territory were captured by them i.e., Lixnaw, Caislen Gearr of Ardfert, and Ballykealy, and they left some of their people to ward them. They turned back with victory and good news to O Domhnaill and Mac Muiris. On the same occasion it happened to O Conor Kerry, Seaán, son of Conor, that his dwelling and chief castle, i.e., Carrigfoyle, was captured by him, which had been more than a year in the possession of the English, and he and the people of his dwelling-place made an alliance with O Domhnaill and bound his peace and friendship with him.

[180] O Domhnaill was for the space of a week in Uí Conaill Gabhra, dominating and scourging everyone who was in alliance with the English, so that he enjoined upon them willynilly to part with them and to unite with him and with the Irish in general. After that O Domhnaill marched with his forces by the shoulder of Sliav Luachra, to Clann Auliffe, to Muskerry, and to Bandon in the Carberies. There came to him a great part of the Irish of the whole of Munster, being of one mind, and they entered into bonds and friendship with him for life, and they were glad and their minds rejoiced that he had come to them to invite their friendship, and they promised not to bow down before the English or the strangers, and to help them no more. However, Mac Carthaigh Riabhach i.e., Domhnall, son of Cormac na h-Aoine, nor the lord of Muskerry, i.e., Cormac, son of Diarmuid, son of Tadhg, did not come for peace to him, as the rest had come.

[181] As for O Néill, i.e., Aodh, son of Feardorcha, son of Conn Bacach, son of Conn, son of Henry, son of Eóghan, he tarried awhile till everything was ready which he needed to bring on that expedition, and after his forces assembled to him, numerous and full-mustered, their journeyings are not  p.327 told of till they crossed the Boyne. He remained some time there preying and burning the territory of Bregha and Meath. He then went with his army through west Meath and east Munster over the Suir westwards without any remarkable deed worthy of remembrance being done by his troops, until they came to Bandon, where O Domhnaill was with his army.

[182] When the Irish of the north had come together, the plan adopted by them and the Irish of the south (those of them who had joined their confederation) was to make their encampment to the north in Béal Guala in Kinelea, a short distance from the Lord Deputy's camp. They were for some time in this way face to face with each other, so that the Irish did not allow recourse or resort in or out to the English, and they placed them in intolerable straits and difficulties and in great want of food. The fear they had of the Irish did not allow them to send their steeds or horses to pasture or for grazing outside the walls, so that many of these and numbers of the soldiers also died owing to cold and hunger, having been reduced to the want of grass and water, corn and grain, straw and fuel, and everything they required, so that they were not able to bury outside the walls the corpses of the soldiers who died, the carrion of the horse and the body of the dead man were mixed among the living through the camp in the midst of them, so that there arose an intolerable stench from the whirlwind of air which arose from the corpses from the filth and the dirt of the lower part. It was the idea and opinion of many of themselves that the greater number of them would die if they were let alone without being attacked, owing to the plague and sickness, and the people who were alive would have gone away if they could find any means or way of escape at all. Meantime, the Spaniards were in great straits and helplessness, owing to the blockade carried on against them by the Lord Deputy with the forces of the English and Irish, and they did not cease urging the Irish to assist them, for they preferred to be killed immediately, though before this they would not endure insult or affront from their enemies or from anyone else  p.329 in the world, and they would be doomed to die together of cold and hunger. It was not so with the Irish, for they were vigorous and fierce, proud and courageous, not needing anything, for there was no prohibition for them to take from any place or any quarter far or near plenty of heavy beeves and long-fleeced sheep, and every kind of fresh meat, and every sort of provision, the best that was in Ireland. They were in that state up to the feast of the Nativity of the Saviour Jesus, and they proceeded to observe the feasts and the holy days, as was meet, the chief men in turn feasting and rejoicing together in delight and gladness of mind and soul, as if they were in their own great royal castles and in their chief residences, though then they were very far off from them.

[183] Alas! soon these cries of joy and pleasure, which were raised so loud in those days of festivity, became cries of sorrow and anguish when they were separating from each other after a time, after being defeated by their enemies, and the people who were in sadness of mind, in want and scarcity of every food they sought, 'twas they had full and plenty after coming out of the captive straits in which they were put by them at that time. In those days there came mysterious letters and secret communications from Don Juan, the general of the Spaniards in Kinsale, to O Néill and O Domhnaill and the chief men in general, requesting them to make an attack on a certain night precisely on the camp of the Lord Deputy, the President, and the Earls who were with them, and that he himself would attack them with the Spaniards on the other side, to see if both of them could rescue him and the Spaniards out of the tight corner in which they were kept. Wherefore, O Néill, O Domhnaill, and the nobles went to take counsel in reference to that wish of the General.

[184] O Néill then said that he would be slow to attack the English on account of the great strength of the firm, impregnable walls which were all round, filled in rows with loud-sounding, quick-shooting guns, and he said it was better not to relax the siege which they had laid upon the English  p.331 till they should die of hunger, as many of them had died already, and they would give up their noblest into their mercy and protection at last, and that he did not wish to gratify his enemies, for they were better pleased to fight for their lives and to be killed immediately than to die of plague and hunger. O Domhnaill's opinion, however, was that the English should be attacked somehow, for he felt it a shame and disgrace to be taunted with the great straits Don Juan and the Spaniards were in, without making an attempt to relieve them though his death should come of it, and besides, lest the Irish be thought little of and despised by the King of Spain, if they suffered his soldiers to be in hardships and straits from their enemies without being aided as they had requested.

[185] However, this was the outcome. They decided in the end to attack the Lord Deputy and the English as they were asked. They separated thus till the night on which they were ordered to attack the camp. At nightfall they took their tunics of battle and their weapons of war quietly and silently, and they went in order and array as their chiefs and nobles, their leaders and counsellors directed them. It was a source of dispute and a cause of contention between the two principal chiefs who were over Cenél Conaill and Cenél Eóghain that neither of them would allow the other to march in front of him to attack and assail the English owing to the nobility of mind and excess of vigour of both, for each one of them thought it a reproach and disparagement to himself and his race for ever to allow the vanguard and the pathfinding to the other force before his own. The want of trust and the ill-will which grew up in their hearts towards each other for this reason were full of harm and ruin, of treachery and danger, so that there was not the urge for battle nor the joy in attack nor the firm steadfastness in either army, through jealousy and envy against the other army, and they were timid, languid, slow, cowardly, even before they entered on the great stress and endeavour in danger and peril of crossing swords with their enemies, so that it was hardly necessary for their enemies to employ arm  p.333 against them where they met on the battlefield. What happened to the two Aodhs then was a great omen of evil to them. With good reason, for never had the like or so much taken place as then between them as long as they lived, for they used to be of one thought and of one mind always from the beginning, even when they were not in each other's presence, for it was not often there sprang from their original stock two more loving towards each other than they. They spent much time in the early hours of the night in the dispute and contention which arose between them. The two noble hosts and armies marched at last side by side and shoulder to shoulder together, until they happened to lose their way and go astray, so that their guides and pathfinders could not hit upon the right road, though the winter night was very long and though the camp which they were to attack was very near them, till the time of sunrise on the next day, so that the sun was shining brightly on the face of the solid earth when O Néill's forces found their own flank at the Lord Deputy's camp, and they retired a short distance while their ranks and order would be reformed, for they had left the first order in which they had been drawn up through the straying and the darkness of the night.

[186] As for the Lord Deputy and his army, there had come to him warning and foreknowledge from certain persons from the camp of the Irish that they would be attacked that night, so that he and his forces were standing to arms all night long till morning in their chosen passes and their gaps of danger and on their battlements with their war accoutrements, with all their implements of attack and defence in readiness, when they saw O Néill and his forces opposite them in the manner we have said. They were not long considering them till they fired a thick shower of round balls (to welcome them) from clean, beautiful big guns with well-oiled mechanism ? and from finely-ridged, costly muskets, and from sharp-aiming, quick-firing matchlocks and they threw upon them every other kind of shot and missile  p.335 besides. Then burst out over the walls against them nimble troops, hard to resist, of active, steady cavalry, who up to that were longing for the order to test the speed of their high-galloping horses on the plain. They allowed their foot to follow after, for they were certain that the hail of spherical bullets and the fierce attack of the troops would make destructive gaps in front of them among their enemies. Both armies were mingled together, maiming and wounding each other, so that many were slain on both sides. But in the end O Néill's forces were defeated, an unusual thing with them, and they fled swiftly away from the place, and the way the hurry urged them was to pour in on top of O Domhnaill's forces, who happened to be to the east of them and had not yet come to the field of battle. When that routed army of O Néill and the troops of the Lord Deputy's army following them and swiftly smiting their rear broke into the midst of O Domhnaill's people, wavering and unsteadiness seized on the soldiers, fright and terror on their horses, and though 'twas their desire and duty to remain on the field of battle, they could not, for it was not the will of the Lord to give victory to them then, for their ways did not please Him; God took away from the two noble, sensible, valorous peoples, the true, proven gifts, and the vigorous, enduring qualities which St. Patrick (when blessing Erin, men, women, boys and girls) left to the two famous, warlike brothers and to their posterity after them, i.e., to the glorious Conall Gulban and to Eóghan the warlike and aggressive. These were their gifts, the power of valour and attack to Eóghan, the power of triumph and steadfastness in the field to Conall; yet the famous races forgot their gifts on that occasion, so that the two hosts were defeated together by the forces of the Lord Deputy, and many of them were slain and slaughtered.

[187] The Lord Deputy's forces returned after the victory in battle and the humbling of their enemies thus when they least expected it. Their ill-luck was clearly on Cenél Conaill and Cenél Eóghain that day, when it was their duty and their  p.337 greatest need to act bravely (since these two noble races both traced their descent from the heroic King Niall of the Nine Hostages); for they did not take heed to fight strongly, powerfully, zealously, mercilessly, in defence of their religion, fatherland and lives, in defence of their honour, nobility and splendour: so that their princes were left prone on the earth, their champions wounded, their chiefs pierced through, their heroes bone-fractured, their warriors mutilated; though before they were disgraced in that fashion, they had been esteemed as equals not merely in the presence of their enemies but also before the exiles and banished men of other races who came under their safety and protection before this when they were expelled and banished from, their territories and dwellings, and soon they made little account of the princes and of the chiefs who had been bushes of shelter and woods of refuge for them up to that, and they gave up all hope of help and aid from them to the end of the world.

[188] Yet though there fell in that defeat at Kinsale so few of the Irish that they would not miss them after a while, and indeed did not miss even then, yet there was not lost in any defeat in recent times in Ireland so much as was lost there. There was lost there to begin with the one island which was most productive and fruitful, most temperate in heat and cold in the greater part of Europe, in which there was much honey and wheat, with many fish-abounding rivers, waterfalls and estuaries, in which were calm, profitable harbours, as the first man of the race of Gaedhel Glas, son of Niul, who came to Ireland gave this testimony, i.e., Ith, son of Breogan, in the presence of the last kings who were of the Tuatha Dé Danann over Éire. There were lost there all who escaped of the noble freeborn sons of Míl, valiant, impetuous chiefs, lords of territories and tribes, chieftains of districts and cantreds; for it is full certain that there never will be in Erin at any time together people better or more famous that the nobles who were there, and who died afterwards in other countries one after another, after being robbed of  p.339 their patrimony and of their noble land which they left to their enemies in that defeat. There were lost besides nobility and honour, generosity and great deeds, hospitality and kindliness, courtesy and noble birth, culture and activity, strength and courage, valour and steadfastness, the authority and sovereignty of the Gaels of Ireland to the end of time.

[189] When the forces of the Lord Deputy went away with shout of victory and triumph, as we have said, the Irish retreated westwards to Inis Eóghanáin that night, and they set to consult hastily, uneasily, blaming and reproaching one another. Some of them said that they ought to close in once more the siege of the Lord Deputy's camp and not raise it at all on account of those of their people who had fallen, and that their war strength was no weaker for their losses, for they were enough for battle without them, if fate and good-luck helped them. Other parties said that it was best that each prince and each lord of a district should return to defend his own patrimony and protect it against the English as long as he could. O Domhnaill, however, said he would not go back to his country, nor would he remain any longer at the siege, and he promised in presence of the chiefs of the men of Erin who were there, that he would not stand fast in battle or conflict to maintain warfare along with the Irish alone, especially in company with the party which had been routed at the first blow then; for rage and fury had seized him, and he would have been pleased had he been the first man slain in that defeat rather than witness that calamity which the Irish met. His own people were greatly afraid that he would bring on his death, through the suffering which seized him, so that he did not sleep nor eat in comfort for three days and three nights after. It was on the 3rd of January, 1602, that defeat of Kinsale was suffered.


12. The Eleventh Year, 1602

[190] The plan which was arrived at by O Domhnaill after his great grief, was, to leave Ireland and to go to Spain to complain of his distress to King Philip III and to ask for more forces and soldiers. When he had determined on this plan, those whom he chose to accompany him on that voyage (in addition to a number of his own retainers) were Réamon de Burca, son of Seaán na Seamar, and Captain Aodh Moss, son of Roibeárd. When this plan was heard by all and sundry pitiful and sad were the great clapping of hands, and the violent lamentations, and the loud wailing cries which arose throughout O Domhnaill's camp the night before his departing. There was good reason for it, if they knew it at the time, for those whom he left behind never again set eyes on him, and if they were aware of that, twould be no wonder if heavy tears of blood coursed down their checks.

[191] O Domhnaill then went on board a ship at Castlehaven and his comrades with him the sixth of January, and when the first breeze of wind came they fared over the wild stormy ocean and came to port the 14th of the same month, near Corunna, a famous fortress in the kingdom of Galicia in Spain. Breóghan's tower, called Brigantia, was there which had been built long before by Breóghan, son of Bratha, and it was from that place that the sons of Míl of Spain, son of Bile, son of Breóghan, had first come to take Éire from the Tuatha Dé Danann. When O Domhnaill landed at Corunna, he goes a-journeying and visiting the town and goes to see Breóghan's tower. It gave him much satisfaction to land there, for he thought it a good omen of success that he should have come to the place from which his ancestors had obtained sway and power over Ireland formerly, and that he should have returned on their track. After remaining a short time resting at Corunna, he went to the place where  p.343 the King was in Castile, for 'twas there he happened to be at that time (after making a circuit of his kingdom) in the city called Zamora. When O Domhnaill came into the King's presence, he went on his knees before him and asked his three requests of him. His first petition was that an army should be sent with him to Ireland with suitable equipment and proper arms. The second petition was that he would not place any of the nobles of Ireland, unless one of his own nobility, in power or authority over him, or over his successor so long as they lived, if the King's majesty gained power and sovereignty over Ireland. The third request was that he should not lessen or impair the rights of his ancestors as regards himself or whosoever should succeed him in any place in Ireland where they held power and sway since times long gone by. The King promised him all this, and bade him rise from his knees, and received entertainment and great respect from him, so that it he might be held that no one of the Irish ever before received so much and so great respect and honour from any other King as he received. That was proper, for his appearance, his fame, and his eloquence, the validity of his claims, and his lordly language pleased him much. The King bade O Domhnaill return to Corunna, and wait there until everything which he wanted to take with him on his return should be ready. He did so, and remained at rest there, as he seldom was heretofore, during the spring and summer seasons up to the beginning of the following autumn, one time in delight and joy when he considered the aid and help which the King had promised him, another time in grief and gloom at the length of time he was absent from his native land and the long delay in getting ready the army promised to him, for it was torment of heart and sickness of mind to him to reflect on the state in which the Irish were, without aid or help, waiting for him.

[192] He was in this condition until he started to go into the King's presence again to find out what was the delay and tarrying that was on the troops and the army that had been promised him. When he came to the town called Simancas (two leagues  p.345 from Valladolid, the King's palace) God granted, and the ill-luck and misfortune, the wretchedness and the curse attending the island of Eremon and the Irish of fair Fodhla too, that O Domhnaill should catch his death-disease and his mortal illness. He was for sixteen days on his bed of sickness. At last he died at the end of that time, the tenth day of September exactly, lamenting his faults and transgressions, after fervent penance for his sins and iniquities, having made his confession without reserve to his spiritual confessors, and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, and being duly anointed by the hands of his confessors and his own ecclesiastical elders, who were in his company always to that very hour. It was in the palace of the King of Spain himself in the town of Simancas he died. His body was then taken to Valladolid, to the King's Court, in a four-wheeled ornamental chariot, with countless numbers of State officers, of the Council, and of the Royal Guard all round it, with lighted lanterns and bright torches of beautiful fair wax blazing all round on each side of it. He was buried after that in the monastery of St. Francis in the chapter house with great honour and respect and in the most solemn manner any Irishman ever before had been interred. Masses, and many hymns, chants, and melodious canticles were offered for the welfare of his soul, and his requiem was celebrated as was fitting.

[193] Alas! It brought sorrow to multitudes the early withering of him who died there for his thirtieth year was not yet full run when he died. He was the head of support and planning, of counsel and disputation of the greater number of the Gaels of Ireland whether in peace or in war. He was a mighty bountiful lord with the attributes of a prince and the maintenance of justice, a lion in strength and force, with threatening and admonishing so that it was not allowed to gainsay his word, for whatever he ordered had to be done on the spot, a dove in meekness and gentleness to privileged men of the church and the arts, and every one who did not oppose him. A man who impressed fear and terror of him on  p.347 everyone far and near, and on whom no man at all put dread. A man who banished brigands, crushed evildoers, exalted the sons of life, and hanged the sons of death. A man who did not allow himself to be injured or afflicted, cheated or insulted without repaying and avenging it immediately; a determined, fierce, and bold invader of districts; a warlike, predatory aggressive plunderer of others' territories; a destroyer of any of the English and Irish that opposed him; a man who never failed to do all that befitted a prince so long as he lived; a sweet-sounding trumpet, with power of speech and eloquence, sense and counsel, with a look of affection in his face according to all who beheld him; a prophesied chosen one whom the prophets foretold long before his birth.

[194] Pitiful, indeed, the state of the Gaels of Ireland after the death of the true prince, for they changed their characteristics and dispositions. Thet gave up bravery for cowardice, courage for weakness, pride for servility. Their hatred, valour, prowess, heroism, triumph, and military glory vanished after his death. They abandoned all hope of relief from any one, so that most of them fled thereafter to the mercy of foes and enemies, those who were noblest of them, under the guise of peace and friendship. And some of them were dispersed and scattered not only throughout Ireland but all over Europe in groups and bands, poor and miserable, and others as soldiers of fortune in foreign lands for pay and hire, so that many of them were killed and others died, and the graves they are buried in are unknown. But, indeed, it would be tedious to recount or relate the great woes which were sown and propagated in Ireland as a result of the death of Aodh O Domhnaill, whose tale thus far we have told.


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Title (uniform): Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill

Title (translation, English Translation): The Life of Aodh Ruadh O Domhnaill

Title (extended): [as Leabhar Lughaidh Uí Chlérigh]

Title (supplementary): English Translation

Author: Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh

Editor: Paul Walsh

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translated by: Paul Walsh

Electronic edition compiled by: Benjamin Hazard

Funded by: University College, Cork and The IRCHSS via the Digital Dinneen Project.

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1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Extent: 68400 words

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Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of the Department of History, University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2012

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: T100080

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT project for purposes of academic research and teaching only.The printed book on which this electronic edition is based is in the free domain.

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You can purchase the book(s) containing this text via the ITS website (http://www.irishtextssociety.org/). Click on the link to the RIA shop.

Source description

Manuscript sources

  1. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, 23 P 24; 170pp (MS. 138). See Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy (Dublin 1926–70) fasc iv, 396–399. Digital images of the manuscript are available on the Irish Script on Screen website www.isos.dias.ie
  2. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, 23 P 9; an early nineteenth-century transcript by Edward O'Reilly (MS. 139).
  3. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, 24 D 14; a partial English translation of the original (MS. 140).
  4. London, British Library, Egerton 123.


  1. Denis Murphy (ed. & trans.) The Life of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, prince of Tirconnell (1586–1602) by Lughaidh O'Clery with historical introduction (Dublin 1895).
  2. Paul Walsh (ed. & trans.) The Life of Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill, transcribed from the Book of Lughaidh Ó Clérigh, with introduction and notes. Prepared for press by Colm Ó Lochlainn, with a glossary by Máirín O'Daly, Irish Texts Society vols. 42 & 45 (Dublin 1948, 1957). Publications by the Irish Texts Society can be ordered via their website. See http://www.irishtextssociety.org/ for details.

Further reading

  1. Philip O'Sullivan-Beare, Historiae catholicae Iberniae compendium (Lisbon 1621).
  2. William Camden, Annales rerum anglicarum et hibernicarum regnante Elizabetha (Leiden 1625).
  3. James Ware, The annals of the affairs of Ireland ... unto the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth (London 1705).
  4. Fynes Moryson, A history of Ireland from the year 1599 to 1603 (2 vols. Dublin 1735).
  5. Edward O'Reilly, A chronological account of nearly four hundred Irish writers with a descriptive catalogue of their works. Transactions of the Iberno-Celtic Society (Dublin 1820).
  6. John O'Donovan (ed. & trans.), The genealogies, tribes and customs of Hy-Fiachrach commonly called O'Dowda's country, from the Book of Lecan and the genealogical manuscript of Duald MacFirbis (Dublin 1844).
  7. John O'Donovan (ed. & trans.), Annála Ríoghachta Éireann: Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters (7 vols. Dublin 1848–51; repr. 1856; repr. 1990).
  8. Henry Docwra, A narration of the services done by the Army ymployed to Lough-Foyle, in: Miscellany of the Celtic Society, ed. John O'Donovan (Dublin 1849).
  9. Eugene O'Curry, Lectures on the manuscript materials of ancient Irish history (New York 1861).
  10. Calendar of State Papers: Carew MSS. (6 vols. London 1867–1873).
  11. Charles Meehan, The Fate and Fortunes of Hugh O'Neill, earl of Tyrone, and Rory O'Donel, earl of Tyrconnel: their flight from Ireland, their vicissitudes abroad, and their death in exile (New York 1868).
  12. Peter Lombard, De regno hibernae, sanctorum insula, ed. Patrick Moran (Dublin 1868).
  13. Charles Meehan, The rise and fall of the Irish Franciscan monasteries, and memoirs of the Irish hierarchy in the seventeenth century (Dublin 1872).
  14. Edmund Hogan (ed.), The Description of Ireland, and the State thereof as it is at this present, in anno 1598 (Dublin 1878).
  15. John Derricke, The image of Irelande: with a discoverie of woodkarne, 1581; with the notes of Sir Walter Scott, edited, with introduction, by John Small (Edinburgh 1883).
  16. Richard Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors (3 vols. London 1885–1890).
  17. S. H. O'Grady (ed.), Pacata Hibernia: or, A history of the wars in Ireland during the reign of Queen Elizabeth (2 vols. London 1896).
  18. S. H. O'Grady, Red Hugh's captivity (Dublin 1889).
  19. G. B. O'Connor, Elizabethan Ireland: native and English (Dublin 1900).
  20. Lambert McKenna (ed. & trans.), Iomarbhágh na bhFileadh: the contention of the bards, with notes and glossaries (Dublin 1918).
  21. Paul Walsh (ed.), Gleanings from Irish manuscripts (Dublin 1918; repr. 1933).
  22. Peadar Ó Laoghaire, Aodh Ruadh an t-Athair Peadar Ua Laoghaire do sgriobh (Baile Atha Cliath 1929).
  23. Pól Breathnach (=Paul Walsh), Memoranda Gadelica, Irish Book Lover 19 (Dublin 1931) 166–71.
  24. Pól Breathnach (=Paul Walsh), Short Annals Of Tirconaill, Irish Book Lover 22 (Dublin 1934) 104–9.
  25. Paul Walsh, Historical criticism of the Life of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, Irish Historical Studies 1 (1939) 229–250.
  26. Cyril Falls, Elizabeth's Irish Wars (London 1950).
  27. Brian Ó Cuív (ed.), Flaithrí Ó Maolchonaire's catechism of Christian doctrine, Celtica 1 (1950) 161–206.
  28. Cyril Falls, The growth of Irish military strength in the second half of the sixteenth century, Irish Sword 2 (1954–6) 103–108.
  29. Frederick Jones, Mountjoy, 1563–1606: the last Elizabethan deputy (Dublin 1958).
  30. John Silke, Kinsale: the Spanish intervention in Ireland at the end of the Elizabethan war (Liverpool 1970).
  31. B. O'Brien, Red Hugh O'Donnell the soldier, An Cosantóir 31 (1971) 73–78.
  32. Kenneth Nicholls, Gaelic and gaelicised Ireland (Dublin 1972).
  33. Pádraig Breatnach (ed.) Marbhna Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill (1602), Éigse 15 (1973) 31–50.
  34. Nicholas Canny, The Elizabethan conquest of Ireland: a pattern established, 1565–70 (Brighton 1976).
  35. Steven Ellis, Tudor Ireland: crown, community and the conflict of cultures (London 1985)
  36. Pádraig Breathnach, An address to Aodh Ó Domhnaill in captivity, 1590 (Select documents, XL) Irish Historical Studies, 25 (1986) 198–213.
  37. Micheline Kerney Walsh, Destruction by peace: Hugh O'Neill after Kinsale (Armagh Historical Association 1986).
  38. Vincent O'Donnell, The death of Aodh Rua, Ó Domhnaill Abú 4 (1986) 7–8.
  39. John Silke (ed.) The last will of Red Hugh O'Donnell, Studia Hibernica 24 (1984–8) 51–60.
  40. Joseph O'Kane, Red Hugh's march to Kinsale, Ó Domhnaill Abú 8 (1987) 2–3.
  41. James McGarry, The eagle of the north, Donegal Annual 40 (1988) 84–88.
  42. J. H. Elliott, Spain and its World: 1500–1700 (Yale 1989).
  43. Micheline Kerney Walsh, Aodh Rua Ó Dómhnaill and his mission to Spain: January–September 1602, Donegal Annual 41 (1989) 96–122.
  44. Vincent O'Donnell, The last will of Hugh O'Donnell, Ó Domhnaill Abú 16 (1991) 4–6.
  45. Wallace MacCaffrey, Elizabeth: war and politics 1588–1603 (Princeton 1992).
  46. Vincent O'Donnell, Escape commemorated, Ó Domhnaill Abú 18 (1992).
  47. Vincent O'Donnell, Hugh Roe O'Donnell's address to his soldiers before the battle of the Curlew mountains, Ó Domhnaill Abú 18 (1992) 5–6.
  48. Hiram Morgan, Tyrone's Rebellion: the outbreak of the Nine Years War in Tudor Ireland (Woodbridge 1993).
  49. Colm Lennon, Sixteenth-century Ireland: the incomplete conquest (Dublin 1994).
  50. Conall Mac Cuinneagáin, Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill—what caused his death?, Donegal Annual 46 (1994) 18–22.
  51. Mícheál MacGraith, Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomnaill: Beathaisnéis de chuid an Renaissance, Irisleabhar Mhá Nuad (1994) 45–54.
  52. Pádraig Breathnach, The methodology of Seanchas: the redaction by Cú Choigríche Ó Cléirigh of the chronicle poem Leanam Croinic Clann nDalaigh, Éigse 29 (1996) 1–18.
  53. Gerard Hayes-McCoy, Scots mercenary forces in Ireland: 1565–1603 (Dublin 1996).
  54. John McGurk, The Elizabethan conquest of Ireland (Manchester 1997).
  55. Samantha Meigs, The Reformations in Ireland: tradition and confessionalism, 1400–1690 (New York 1997).
  56. Conor O'Brien (ed.), Feagh McHugh O'Byrne: the Wicklow firebrand, a volume of quatercentennial essays (Wicklow 1998).
  57. Vincent O'Donnell, The career of Red Hugh O'Donnell, Ó Domhnaill Abú 23 (1996) 25 (1997) 26 (1998) 27 (1998).
  58. Hiram Morgan, Giraldus Cambrensis and the Tudor conquest of Ireland, in: idem (ed.) Political ideology in Ireland, 1541–1641 (Dublin 1999) 22–44.
  59. Deborah Lisson, The kidnap of Red Hugh (Dublin 2001)
  60. Vincent O'Donnell, After the Curlews (1599–1601), Ó Domhnaill Abú 30 (2001) 2–3.
  61. Vincent O'Donnell, 'Was Red Hugh married?', Ó Domhnaill Abú 30 (2001) 4.
  62. Patricia Palmer, Language and conquest in early modern Ireland: English Renaissance literature and Elizabethan imperial expansion (Cambridge 2001).
  63. Thomas O'Connor, Irish migration to Spain and the formation of an Irish college network, 1589–1800, in: Luc François and Ann Katherine Isaacs (eds.) The Sea in European history (Pisa 2001) 109–23.
  64. Hiram Morgan, Spanish Armadas and Ireland, 1588–1602, in: François & Isaacs (eds.) The Sea in European history (Pisa 2001).
  65. Pádraig Breathnach, A seventeenth century abridgement of Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill, Éigse 33 (2002) 77–172.
  66. Pádraig Ó Riain (ed.) Beatha Aodha Ruaidh: the life of Red Hugh O'Donnell; historical and literary contexts (Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 2002).
  67. Colm Lennon, Taking sides: the emergence of Irish catholic ideology, in: Vincent Carey and Ute Lotz-Heumann (eds.) Taking sides? Colonial and confessional mentalités in early modern Ireland (Dublin 2003) 78–93.
  68. Thomas O'Connor, A justification for foreign intervention in early modern Ireland: Peter Lombard's Commentarius (1600) in: idem (ed.) Irish migrants in Europe after Kinsale 1602–1820 (Dublin 2003) 14–31.
  69. Hiram Morgan (ed.), The Battle of Kinsale (Bray 2004).
  70. Darren McGettigan, Red Hugh O'Donnell and the Nine Years War (Dublin 2005).
  71. Benjamin Hazard, 'A new company of crusaders like that of St. John Capistran'—interaction between Irish military units and their Franciscan chaplains: 1579–1654, in: Enrique García Hernán & Óscar Recio Morales (eds.), Extranjeros en el Ejército: militares irlandeses en la sociedad española, 1580–1818 (Madrid 2007) 181–97.

The edition used in the digital edition

Walsh, Paul, ed. (1948). Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill, as Leabhar Lughaidh Uí Chlérigh‍. 1st ed. reprinted 1988. Dublin: The Educational Company of Ireland, for the Irish Texts Society.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  title 	 = {Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill, as Leabhar Lughaidh Uí Chlérigh},
  editor 	 = {Paul Walsh},
  edition 	 = {1},
  note 	 = {The first of two volumes; xi + 347 pp.},
  publisher 	 = {The Educational Company of Ireland, for the Irish Texts Society},
  address 	 = {Dublin},
  date 	 = {1948},
  note 	 = {reprinted 1988},
  UNKNOWN 	 = {seriesStmt}


Encoding description

Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling declarations

The present text represents pages 3–347 of the volume. All editorial introduction, notes and indexes have been omitted.

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Correction: Text has been proof-read twice.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text. Text supplied by the editor is tagged sup resp="PBW". Expansions to the text are marked ex.

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Profile description

Creation: Translation by Paul Walsh.

Date: c.1947

Language usage

  • The translation is in English. (en)
  • Some place-names and personal names are retained in Irish. (ga)
  • Some phrases are in Latin. (la)

Keywords: histor; prose; 16c; biography; Red Hugh O'Donnell; translation

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2012-01-09: Header updated; file re-parsed; SGM land HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2008-10-23: Keywords added; file validated. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2008-01-17: File proof-read (2). (ed. Ruth Murphy)
  4. 2007-12-31: File proof-read (1); structural and content markup added with pagebreaks; header compiled with bibliographical details. (ed. Benjamin Hazard)
  5. 2007-11-30: Text scanned. (Data capture Benjamin Hazard)

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