An intention there was not long since by Sir James Ley, Knight, then Lord Chiefe Justice of the King's Bench in Ireland (afterwards Lord High Treasurer and Earle of Marleburgh), to have published some of our country writers in this kinde, for which end hee caused to be transcribed and made fit for the Presse the Annales of John Clynne, a Friar Minor of Kilkenny (who lived in the time of King Edward the Third), the Annales of the Priory of St John the Evangelist of Kilkenny, and the Annales of Multifernan, Rosse, and Clonmell, &c. But his weighty occasions did afterwards divert his purpose. The copies are yet preserved, and I hope ere long with other Annales and Fragments of the same nature will be divulged.. So wrote Sir James Ware, in his Preface to Campion's and Hanmer's Histories printed in Dublin in the year 1633. More than 200 years have since passed, and by the publication of the Annals of Multifernan, and by the present publication the Irish Archaeological Society
p.iiis only now partly realizing the purpose of Ley, and the hopes of Ware, Camden, and Ussher.
It is not for those who are endeavouring to put an end to it, to attempt to justify the delay that has occurred in the publication of these chronicles; it may, perhaps, partly be accounted for by the dry and unsatisfactory nature of their contents.
Clyn lived ninety years after Matthew Paris, and was not many years older than Froissart; but instead of the caustic remarks and striking details of the monk of St. Alban's,instead of Froissart's pictured pages, which make us familiar with the sentiments and motives, and even with the outward bearing, of the men of his day,we have here, for the most part, only mere entries of names and of facts, the ashes of history in which there is no living fire. The fact is so, and must be acknowledged, nor shall we be surprised that it if we consider the circumstances in which Clyn and the other Anglo-Irish monkish chroniclers wrote, and the objects which they had in view.
The very materials for writing at that time were not abundant in this country. Clyn mentions that he had left parchment for the continuation of his Annals (see page 37), a pious precaution which does not seem to have produced any effect; and being confined by precedent and by an affectation of scholarship to the use of Latin, the monkish chroniclers were trammelled and hampered by a foreign language, with which they were not familiar, and in which they neither spoke nor thought, and in which, like men in a stiff and unusual dress, they moved with slow and awkward formality.
Nor were the authorities, from which they derived their information, calculated to give them confidence and freedom. Their chief written authorities were evidently the Obits of their own, or of some other religious house of the same Order, combined with some brief Registry of public events and of wonderful occurrences, which seems to
p.iiihave formed the common historical stock of all our Anglo-Irish monkish chroniclers, and which was probably communicated to the members of the different houses at the provincial or general Chapters of the several Orders.
To synchronize this general history with the Obits and special entries of their own records was the great object of the monkish writers, a task not without difficulty, and in which it is probable that many mistakes were made, as in the older Mortiloges the entries were made under the day of the month, without any notice of the year.
But we must not suppose that those annals were to the monks the dry and bare catalogues which they are to us, or that the inhabitants of the monastery were satisfied with that modicum of knowledge which we have inherited from them. Every name entered in their registry at its entry had its own peculiar history, and that history was preserved in the traditions of the chapter-room and of the cloister. From the founder of the house and the giver of broad lands, to the bequeather of a cope, and the increaser of their gaudy-day pittance, all their benefactors had their places in the grateful memory of the brotherhood; and the novice and the lay brother were often told why this Baron bestowed the rich farm, and why it was leased to such a Knight; why this Lady founded an altar and a chaplaincy, and why such a Burgess was commemorated with a double Lection. Every name in the registry was made the text of some grave homily, or recalled some story, kept alive, not only by being repeated on every recurring anniversary amongst the habitual sitters round the refectory fire, and amongst the pacers in the cloisters, but by being told to the knights and squires who used the monastery as an inn, and to the pilgrims and visitors, from other religious houses who there claimed charitable hospitality.
Nor was it only gratitude, and the wish to maintain the credit of their house before their visitors, that induced the monks to fill up in conversation the bare outline of their registers with traditional histories;
p.ivmany of them had the strong interest of relationship, or of family dependence, connected with the names recorded; and it was pleasant to tell how their fathers had fought in the battle in which their benefactor was killed, whose tomb was in the choir and whose death was in the Mortiloge. With respect, then, to occurrences in its own neighbourhood, or referring to its special benefactors, the date and the succession were almost all that was wanted by the inmates of a religious house, and these were supplied by the dryest of their chronicles. The cloister tradition supplied the rest, giving to the merest outline fulness of detail and warmth of colouring.
With regard to the events affecting other religious houses of the same Order, the same knowledge was communicated by the mutual visits of their respective members, and especially by the provincial and general chapters. If we look at a map of any Christian country in the middle ages, we see how the houses of the different Orders were scattered through it, so that lines drawn from one to another would make a close net-work over its whole surface; and it is difficult to limit the amount of general knowledge which must have been in the possession of the inquisitive members of these societies, and of which we have nothing left but these meagre and lifeless chronicles. For the view of the writers there were fields, and flowers, and trees, hominumque boumque labores; but the deep flood of oblivion covers them, and we see nothing but the land-marks and the boundary stones.
The authors of most of the other Anglo-Irish monastic annals are unknown, and we can feel no sympathy with the impersonal and unnamed writer who expresses no personal feeling in anything he mentions, and who records, as it were mechanically, all events, whether of joy or sorrow, with equal brevity and with equal coldness.
Of the annals here printed we know at least the name and station of the writer, and the time of their composition.
John Clyn was a Franciscan friar, in the convent of that Order in Kilkenny. He seems to have been highly esteemed in the brotherhood, for in 1336, when James, Earl of Ormonde, in his old earldom of Carrick, founded a locus for Franciscans, John Clyn was the first Warden or Guardian; William Naase being Custos; and Friar Stephen Barry, Minister Provincial. The zeal and austerity of the earlier Franciscans and Dominicans had attracted into their Orders men of the loftiest minds and most generous tempers; and in the fourteenth century, when the fervour of religious enthusiasm was in some degree diminished, there were still to be found in these Orders the most profound theologians and the most subtle speculative philosophers. Among these the Irish Franciscans maintained a proud and honourable position. If the haughty attempt of Primate Albert of Cologne to subject causes, properly belonging to the King's courts, to Papal authority, provoked Henry III to forbid the future election of any Franciscan to an Irish see, the prohibition was soon withdrawn, and the royal displeasure was probably amply compensated by that popular favour, which encouraged the Franciscans to encroach upon the rights of the Irish parochial clergy. The earliest account of a British pilgrimage into the east was written by Simon Fitzsimon, and Hugh, the Illuminator, of the Franciscan Friary of Dublin, who commenced their pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1322. And when the University of Dublin was opened,Universitas, as Clyn disparagingly says, quoad nomen, set utinam quoad factum et rem, three of the first four inceptors in theology were friars.
Of the individual character of Clyn we know only what we can gather from his own writings. The few gleams of natural feeling, which occasionally brighten his formal entries, betoken a good and generous mind, and make us lament that he did not let himself out more freely and give utterance more frequently to his own thoughts and sentiments. Some of his observations, brief and rare as they are, are not without pith and point, and few passages, of the same date, are more striking and pathetic in their calm and earnest simplicity, than the close of his work. After thus describing the Plague of 1348: That pestilence deprived of human inhabitant villages and cities, and castles and towns, so that there was scarcely found a man to dwell therein; the pestilence was so contagious that whosoever touched the sick or the dead was immediately infected and died; and the penitent and the confessor were carried together to the grave; through fear and dread men scarcely dared to perform the offices of piety and pity in visiting the sick and in burying the dead; many died of boils and abscesses, and pustules on their shins or under their armpits; others died frantic with the pain in their head, and others spitting blood; that year was beyond measure wonderful, unusual, and in many things prodigious, yet (is not the observation natural and pathetic?) it was sufficiently abundant and fruitful, however sickly and deadly;then, having made entries of a fratricide committed in the midst of the pestilence, by Connell O'More, on the morrow of the Purification, and of the vengeance taken for it eight days afterwards, he thus returns: The pestilence was rife in Kilkenny in Lent, for, from Christmas Day to the 6th day of March eight friars preachers died of it. Scarcely one alone ever died in a house. Commonly husband, wife, children, and servants, went the one way, the way of death. And I, Friar John Clyn, of the Order of Friars Minor, and of the convent of Kilkenny, wrote in this book those notable things, which happened in my time, which I saw with my eyes, or which I learned from
p.viipersons worthy of credit; and lest things worthy of remembrance should perish with time, and fall away from the memory of those who are to come after us, I, seeing these many evils, and the whole world lying, as it were, in the wicked one, among the dead, waiting for death till it come, as I have truly heard and examined, so have I reduced these things to writing; and lest the writing, should perish with the writer, and the work fail together with the workman, I leave parchment for continuing the work, if haply any man survive, and any of the race of Adam escape this pestilence and continue the work which I have commenced. Then follows one paragraph for 1349, containing the death and eulogy of Sir Fulco de la Frene, and then the copyist's brief entry: Here it seems the author died.
Like most of the Anglo-Irish chroniclers, Clyn passes over in ignorance, or in contempt, the legends, whether poetical, mythical, or enigmatical, with which the Irish seanachies filled up the vestibule of Irish history, thronging its gates with forms of strange aspect, elusive of the grasp. Yet even these legends, as we find them in Dowling and in the native annalists, are worthy of record. Although not true in themselves, it is true that they were once believed; and although they may not constitute the history of the times to which they are assigned, they form at least important elements of the character of the times in which they were received. But it is not likely that legends, so widely propagated and so fondly cherished, had no foundation in fact, that they were altogether either poetical fictions, or moral and political parables and myths. It is more reasonable to conjecture that they were the forms of historical narrative used by one people, which, falling into the hands of another people of different language, and of other habits of thought and turns of expression, were understood by them in a sense which they were not intended to bear, and in which they were not used by their authors. We would look upon these
p.viiistrange and portentous narratives as the hieroglyphic records of forgotten but substantial history.
We know that the Northmen had a peculiar genius for high-wrought, and lofty imagery, enigmatical rather than fantastical; not only were their ships the wooden horses of the ocean, and their swords serpents; the very geography of their countries, either from their own taste, or from the taste of their visitors, was allusive and metaphorical. The Baltic Sound, which in the days of Tacitus, was called the Pillars of Hercules, was styled the Hellespont by Saxo Grammaticus. And the Africa of Nennius and Geoffry of Monmouth seems to have been the southern coast of the Baltic, the land of the sea robbers, with whom, as Dubhgalls or black strangers, we are familiar in Irish history, but who startle and perplex us when we meet them under the name of Africans. It may be conjectured that the wild and seemingly absurd stories of Partholanus, Nemedus, Milesius, are mistranslated and misunderstood narratives of some northern invasions, or rather of some one northern invasion, for all those stories have so many circumstances in common that we cannot but suspect them to be different versions of the same history. At what period these invasions, or this invasion, occurred, it would be difficult to ascertain; it would seem, however, not to have been long prior to the times of St. Patrick, who is said to have learned from their contemporary, Ruanus, the history of those events. As to mistakes in Irish chronology, it must be remembered that, from the want of any fixed and commonly acknowledged era, the dates of the occurrences in early Irish history must have been a matter of calculation. Even in the tenth century there is a difference of more than sixty
p.ixyears between the dates of the Annals of Boyle and of the Annals of the Four Masters; and, as low as the twelfth century, public documents were at least occasionally dated, not from any fixed era, but from such an arbitrary and mutable epoch as the year when the kine and swine of Ireland perished by a pestilence.
The facts mentioned in the earlier parts of Clyn's Annals are, for the most part, common to all the Anglo-Irish annalists, and are to be found, with little variety of expression, in Pembridge and Grace, and the Annals of Multifernan. It would appear, however, from the following pages, that Clyn's Calendar differed from that of the English and Roman Churches, which was received in Ireland; at least if the transcript from which we print is correct, which is very doubtful, it will follow that the Franciscans of Kilkenny held their festivals of St. Stephen's Day, and of the Conversion of St. Paul, as well as other festivals, on days peculiar to themselves.
In the early part of the fourteenth century the following annals increase in interest. Clyn, as we have observed, was appointed the first Warden of the Franciscan Friary of Carrick in 1336. For such an office, implying authority and discretion, it is not likely that a man under 30 should have been selected from the convent of Kilkenny; and we may, therefore, conclude that Clyn was not born after 1306, and that he may have been several years older. We are then not surprised that his annals begin to expand, and to contain something more than brief and general entries, about the year 1315.
In the present times, when we gather almost all our knowledge from books, the period of whose history men are generally the most ignorant runs backward from their own youth to the commencement of the former generation. The history of the father's age has seldom been compiled by public writers in the days of the son, and is often not
p.xtold by the father, upon whom, as it fell drop by drop, it left an imperfect sense of its relations and proportions; and the son, eager for something new or curious touching venerable antiquity, too often looks without interest or inquiry upon the days of his father, as upon times whose fashions are gone by, and whose notions he has outgrown. Even should the succeeding generation inquire into the history of that which immediately preceded it, the multitude of petty and vulgar details perplex the mind and disgust the imagination; and we wander about, as in a thick wood from which we have no clue to guide us, unable to recognise any of our well-known landmarks. But in the fourteenth century, when reading and writing were rare accomplishments, and when there were no standard libraries, the case was very different. Knowledge was then to be acquired, not from books, but from men. And what could men teach but what they had seen, in the words of Clyn, occulata fide, or what they had heard fide digno relatu? And, however highly we may value the following annals, from the year 1315, when Clyn was probably a grown man, able to make his own observations on passing events, we cannot but lament that he did not burn the previous entries, and write down the remembrances and the traditions of the seniors of his convent.
From the Scottish invasion in 1315, to the plague in 1349, may be considered as the period of Clyn's Annals. It was a dark and stormy period in the history of this country. It is strange that the reigns of the worst and weakest of the kings, that ever sat upon the throne of England, should have been the times of the greatest prosperity of the English in Ireland. In the times of King John and Henry III the English authority seemed about to consolidate itself throughout the kingdom. The whole country was then divided into shires, in which the king's justices held their pleas; the bishoprics, even in Connaught and Munster, were not filled without the king's license. O'Conor and O'Neill paid their tributes of cows and marks, and obeyed
p.xithe king's summons; and, although frequently goaded into resistance by the oppressions of the Earls of Ulster and of the lords of Connaught, these Irish dynasts seem to have been willing to consider themselves as English lords, and to have placed confidence in appeals to the justice of the English king; and as the plainest evidence of the tranquillity and prosperity of the country, the London treasury was enriched by the transmission to London of money from Ireland. Such was the state of Ireland during great part of the thirteenth century, as we learn from the Tower Records, from Rymer's Foedera, and from the Rolls of the Irish Chancery, which are the authentic records of Anglo-Irish history. Doubtless the same facts may be learned with still greater distinctness from the Pipe Rolls, should they ever be published.
There were, indeed, in these reigns, feuds, bloody and interminable, between different lords in Ireland, both of Irish and of English blood. The predatory habits of the country were continued; and, except for the barbarized names of the Norman barons, the reader of the Irish chronicles would scarcely be able to distinguish the events of a year in the thirteenth century from those of most of the years in the eleventh; but at that period the great distinction between the English settlers and the native Irish was not strongly marked, although it had already manifested itself in religious houses of Irish foundation. The feuds were feuds between neighbours and not between nations. In almost all the frays, which have been dignified by the title of battles, English and Irish fought on both sides; and the descendants of O'Melaghlin, O'Neill, O'Connor, O'Brien, and Mac Murrogh, boasted that they belonged to the five bloods who were entitled to the coveted distinction of pleading the English law. If the daring and resolute Prince Edward spent any time in his lordship of Ireland, he probably thought that the authority of the sovereign and the dominion of the law were fully as much respected by the Irish chiefs and
p.xiibarons, as they were in England by the turbulent partisans of De Montfort, then plotting the overthrow of the monarchy and the imprisonment of the king.
Perhaps it was this confidence in the strength of the English in Ireland, joined, it may be, to a willingness to lower the pride and power of the Anglo-Irish nobles, that induced Edward I to neglect this country, and to waste the best blood of its lords in the wars in Gascony and Scotland. To whatever cause it may be ascribed, it is certain that, in the reign of that great and powerful prince, the power of the English government in this country lessened; the English lords became at once weaker and more insubordinate; while they adopted the customs, claimed the privileges, and exercised the tyranny of the native lords, to the extirpation of the sturdy English freeholders, they at the same time frustrated the wise and benevolent wishes of the king. He wished that the distinctions which were now felt between the English and the Irish, should be removed, and that all his Irish subjects, of whatever birth or descent, should enjoy the protection of the English law and submit to its authority.
It is natural that, at the first introduction of a foreign power into any country, the natives should jealously insist upon the preservation of their peculiar laws and customs; and such a condition seems to have been made by the Irish in the time of Henry II. But in process of time it is also natural that the weaker people should desire admission into the courts of justice of the stronger, and should petition to be altogether incorporated with them. This is the best homage to superior power and superior civilization. Woe to the stronger if they refuse such homage! Hereafter there will be two nations in one country; they will be for centuries in daily struggle as it were for life or death; and their bitterest enemies will be at their doors.
It is true that the Irish law, to which alone the Irish were subject, gave some advantages to the Irish culprit. For a crime for which an Englishman
p.xiiiwould be hanged, an Irishman, according to the more lenient enactments of the Brehon law, might compound for a sum varying from £1 to £100 at the will of the judge. It is to be feared that the opposition of the Anglo-Irish lords to the extension of the English law proceeded from very base motives. They were at once jealous of the distinction of the English law, and anxious to escape from it. They claimed that the offences committed by an Englishman against an Irishman, should be tried by the Irish law, and they were unwilling that the offences of an Irishman against an Englishman should not subject the offender to all the penalties of the law of England. The erics, or compositions, payable by Irish criminals, enlarged the revenues of the courts of their palatinates and lordships; and, if the lands of the Irish chiefs were to be held by royal charters, the title of the native lords to their territories would then be secured by legal documents, acknowledged in the king's courts, and all chance of gaining possession of them, except by strictly legal means, would be terminated. The question of the advantage of establishing one uniform system of law throughout the country, especially when it was desired by the native party, appears now to be of very simple solution, yet it probably had its difficulties in former days. The opposition of the Anglo-Irish lords may have been justified by reasons which we do not see, and which we could not rightly appreciate. It is not fair to apply the notions of one century as a rule for measuring the conduct of men in another; and perhaps the statesman who is most aware of the conflicting interests and discordant wishes of two races occupying the same country,of settlers and of natives,will be the most disposed to excuse the conduct of the Anglo-Irish lords, and to pity the perplexities of the legislators or rulers of the fourteenth century.
In the hope of profiting by these internal dissensions, and being, perhaps, invited over by some of the Irish princes of Ulster, Edward Bruce, accompanied by Randolph, Steward, Menteith, Campbell, and many
p.xivother of the knights of Bannockburn, with an army of 6000 men, landed in Larne Lough on St. Augustine's day, in 1315.
It was a luckless day for Bruce and for Ireland. Although successful in various engagements, and crowned King of Ireland at Dundalk, Bruce never had any firm power in this country. Of the English barons scarcely any were accused of favouring him, except the Lacies and their followers; and of their disloyalty, although their estates were forfeited and their persons proscribed, there seems to be some doubt. He was boldly opposed by the Earl of Ulster, Mandeville, Logan, the Savages,all hale the flur of Ullyster,and by Bisset, the descendant of a Scotsman, but not unmindful of the wrongs of his ancestors. Nor was he effectively assisted by the native princes. The usual fate awaited him, of those who, for their own aggrandizement, interfere in the civil dissensions of a foreign country. The objects of the parties are different, and each hopes to use the other only so far as may promote their own purposes. The Irish princes did not fight to change their masters, but to secure their independence, and they were no more willing to submit to a Scoto-Norman than to Anglo-Norman baronage. Meanwhile their general rebellion against the English for their own special objects, and the disunion of the English lords, any one of whom, we are told, would have been able, with his own followers alone, to have driven back Edward Bruce, allowed the Scots, now commanded by Robert Bruce, to ravage Ireland from Carrickfergus to Limerick. Although unable to take any walled town, and suffering the extremity of hunger from the general famine of the dreadful year 1316, in the words of Clyn, They went through all the country, burning, slaying, depredating, spoiling towns and castles and even churches, as they went and as they returned. The horror at their cruelty, their impiety, and the misery that went with them, dwelt long in the minds of all the inhabitants of Ireland; and when the barons of Meath and Louth gave Edward Bruce battle, defeated,
p.xvand killed him at Dundalk, the Irish Annals of Clonmacnois declare that he was slain to the great joy and comfort of the whole kingdom in generall, for there was not a better deed that redounded more to the good of the kingdom, since the creation of the world, and since the banishment of the Finè Fomores out of this land, done in Ireland, than the killing of Edward Bruce; for there reigned scarcity of victuals, breach of promises, ill performance of covenants, and the loss of men and women, throughout the whole kingdom, for the space of three years and a half that he bore sway; insomuch that men did commonly eat one another, for want of sustenance, during his time.
Many generations passed before the devastating effects of the Scottish invasion, passing thus like a stream of lava through the country, were done away. The animosity between the English and the Irish was embittered, the sense of the greatness of the English power was diminished, the authority of law and order was impaired, the castle and the farm-house were alike ruined. The castle was more easily rebuilt than the more important farm-house. The noble may have had other resources; in later times we know that his castle was repaired and the expense of the district; he was bound by stronger ties to the country; and when his castle was rebuilt, it was at least comparatively secure: but when the homestead was wrecked and burned, and the haggard robbed of its stacks, and the bawn left without horse or cow, and all his gear were gone the farmer, as he looked about him in despair, might well be excused if he fled away to some safer country; or if, listening to hunger, that evil counsellor, he became an idilman or a kerne, ready to plunder as he had been plundered, and eating up the produce of other men's labours.
If he endeavoured to remain, what was before him, but, poor and dispirited, deprived of his accustomed comforts, and of his comparative respectability, to sink hopelessly into a lower stage of society, and to yield to its customs; or rather to turn in sullen or in passionate anger
p.xvifrom the civilization in which he no longer had a share, and to resent, as an injury, the existence of comforts which were his once, but were to be his no more, and to hate and to scorn their possessors?
Such, doubtless, was the history of the degradation of many English freeholders consequent upon the Scottish invasion; nor could the degradation be limited to the retainer alone. In a country in which there is no foreign interference, no rank of society can stand apart from others, and in proportion to its height it needs the more numerous supporters. The castle walls can no more keep out the influence of the social maxims and principles of the lower ranks of the people, than they can keep out the contagion of their diseases, and the lord necessarily partook of the degradation of the vassal.
To the Scottish invasion, then, may, at least partly, be ascribed the barbarism and the consequent weakness of the English in Ireland during the greater part of the fourteenth and the whole of the fifteenth century. In the thirty years that elapsed between that event and the close of Clyn's Annals, that barbarism had made great progress. The power of the central government grew weaker; the lords, whether of Irish or of English blood, became more independent and irresponsible, and, consequently, more arbitrary and tyrannical, and private feuds, resulting in open violence, became of more frequent occurrence. The control of law nearly ceased, and little remained, as a rule of conduct, except the will of the stronger. It then became a question whether this anarchy should continue, or whether it should result in the prevalence of either the English or the Irish system, or, as seemed more probable and more reasonable, whether some third system should not be developed, formed from the amalgamation of these two, and the natural growth of the circumstances of this country.
When the Normans came into Ireland they brought with them the feudal law system, and that law system, with all its complexities, they endeavoured
p.xviito establish wherever they had dominion. It was the system of a victorious army cantoned amongst a conquered nation. In this country the feudal Normans met with the remains of the patriarchal system; of our society the type was, not an army, but a family. Such a system, doubtless, was subject to many inconveniences. The breaking up of all general authority, and the multiplication of petty independent principalities, was an abuse incident to the feudal system; it was inherent in the very essence of the patriarchal or family system. That system began, as the feudal system ended, with small, independent societies, each with its own separate centre of attraction, each clustering round the lord or the chief, and each rather repelling than attracting all similar societies. Yet the patriarchal system was not without its advantages. If the feudal system gave more strength to attack a foreign enemy, the patriarchal system secured more happiness at home. The one system implied inequality amongst the few, and slavery amongst the many; the other system gave a feeling of equality to all. It is needless to inquire which of these two systems was the better fitted to develope the powers and the virtues of mankind, and whether either of them could exist in a state of general refinement and civilization, which, perhaps necessarily, developes a system neither feudal nor patriarchal, but commercial, industrial, and pecuniary.
But, surely, it was not strange that a people brought up as members of septs, each recognised by the chief as of his blood, bearing his name, entitled by the law of gavelkind to a share of the public property, should be blind to the evils that belonged to such a system, and should have looked with wonder and contempt on the well regulated gradations of feudal authority, and with horror on feudal vassalage and serfdom. Such were the natural feelings of the native Irish, and when the course of the king's writs, and the power of the English courts, were limited by the weakness of the central government, they joyfully fell back upon their native customs, as expounded by the Brehons
p.xviiiupon the hills; and they made welcome, as the sons of Heber, Heremon, Ir, and Ith, those English lords, who, like the Desmonds, adopted the manners of the country, and were rebuked amongst their own countrymen, for being more Irish than the Irish. From the very nature of the patriarchal system the exactions of the native chiefs were not excessive. In the hands of the English lords these exactions became intolerable to their English dependents. Unlike the Irish chiefs, the English lords had no rule by which their demands were regulated; they were ignorant of the restrictions of the Brehon law; and the customary cáin or purveyance of the Irish chiefs, and the regulated and ascertained amount of their refections, became in English hands the unlimited, outrageous, coyne and livery, the ruin of the English yeomanry, and the object of the well-earned maledictions and denunciations of English judges, kings, and parliaments. Yet we find no complaint made by the native Irish against the levy of these dues by the Earls of Desmond. Those potent Earls, descendants of the first conquerors, had adopted the Irish customs, and were in fact, at the same time, Irish chiefs and English lords. By their Irish followers they were beloved with the most romantic and prodigal affection, and respected with almost superstitious veneration; and, so popular was the first Earl amongst the English people of Leinster, that their special object of detestation was Sir Robert Ufford, the vigorous English Justice, who drove the Earl into banishment, confiscated his lands, took his castles and at Castle Island, in Kerry, hanged his seneschal, Sir John Cottrel, and his knights, Sir Eustace Power and Sir William Grant.
It was time that some vigorous exertion should be made for the support of the English government. The haughty Anglo-Irish nobles ill brooked the authority of the English officials, some of whom were men of low rank and of no great personal reputation; and, indignant at the distinction made by the Parliament in Dublin, between the English
p.xixby birth and the English by descent, and especially outraged by the King's order for the removal from office of all persons born in Ireland, they had held a Parliament at Kilkenny, not summoned by the King, under the presidency of the great Desmond. At that Parliament, professing their loyalty to the King, of which they had given proofs in following him, at their own charge, in his wars in Wales, Gascony, and Scotland, they claimed the rights and immunities secured to them by the great Charter, and manifested a determination to resist all attacks upon their privileges or their properties. This jealous and angry feeling between the English by birth and the Anglo-Irish produced an approximation of the Anglo-Irish towards the native Irish; and had not the obnoxious disqualification of the Anglo-Irish been withdrawn, and had not Desmond been beaten down by the strong arm of Ufford, there seems to have been a probability that the two races would at this time have been incorporated into one people, and that the English and the Irish systems would have been fused and melted into each other. But the circumstances of Ireland did not permit the growth and development of any internal system, with its peculiar compensations, producing in time its own corrections. The process of mutual assimilation was continually checked; Irish civilization, such as it was, was destroyed, and the English statesmen of the fourteenth century vainly busied themselves in striving to erect upon its ruins the incongruous system into which Norman feudalism had then been moulded by the social condition.
During the times contained in these annals the English Government had not power to control the excesses of its subjects, or to repress the attacks of its opponents. The great Anglo-Irish families had become septs. In Clyn's Latin, the St. Aubyns, now corrupted into Tobins, and the Archdeacons, now transformed into the patronymic Mac Odos, or Codys, are naciones et cognomina; and he speaks of the Hoddinets and Cantetons, cum multis de sanguine eorum.
If the Irish chiefs acknowledged no common authority, and felt no common interest, the same division prevailed amongst the lords of English descent. Englishman was now opposed to Englishman, and sought to revenge himself by the help of the Irish; nor did the English refuse their aid to the Irish when plundering their own countrymen. When Brien O'Brien ravaged Ossory and slew the loyal English of Aghaboe and Aghamacart, he had the help of the English of Ely.
The country was fast verging towards anarchy, and it was not easy to stay its descent. The sword of the Lord Justice, if put into the hands of any of the native lords, of the Ormondes or of the Kildares, was used as an instrument to avenge their own wrongs, or to promote their own interests, rather than to execute impartial justice and to promote the welfare of the whole country. Such also was the case during the lieutenancy of any of the great English lords, who had estates or claims in Ireland, such as the great Mortimers; and, perhaps, nothing brought the royal authority into greater disrepute than the use of it by these men as a cover for private revenge or for private gain. Nor were the evils fewer, if the administration of the government was intrusted to Englishmen unconnected with this country. Men of eminence, so situated, would scarcely accept the office; we know that Pembridge altogether refused it; and men of inferior rank and reputation, when invested with deputed and transient authority, were scorned by the haughty Irish lords, and were freely charged by them, and perhaps justly charged, with the grossest peculation and malversation. The castles of Athlone, Roscommon, Rinduin, and Bunratty,say the Irish lords to Edward in 1343,were lost, because his treasurers did not pay the constables the wages charged in their accounts; and they continued to charge for castles and constables, after the castles had been destroyed. Officials liable to such imputations could have no moral influence; and when some sturdy and honest man, like Sir Thomas Rokeby, who sold his plate to
p.xxipay his soldiers, saying that he would eat off wooden platters and pay in gold and silver,or when some bold and vigorous soldiers, like Sir RobertUfford or Sir Anthony Lucy, held the King's commission, they were hampered by the narrowness of their allowances, and were thwarted by the old peers and ancient officials. The very success of their exertions brought with it no lasting national advantage. If they put down disturbance for a time, and reduced the English dominions to order and submission, yet, at the termination of their authority, there was a renewal of lawlessness; and the only lasting effect of their vigour was the weakening of the natural props and buttresses of internal government, and the consequent increase of anarchy and disturbance.
Such was the political and social state of Ireland, during the earlier part of the fourteenth century, as represented in the following annals, and such, with little alteration, it continued to be for several generations. Whatever were the faults of the several parties in this long and bitter struggle,and, no doubt, all parties had great and grievous faults,they were the faults rather of the times than of the men. At all events, it little becomes any Irishman of the present day to reproach their memories. He can scarcely do so without reproaching the memory of his own ancestors. There are few living Irishmen, whatever be their names, whether Celtic or Norman, in whose veins does not run the mingled blood of Norman and of Celt, or rather of Irishmen and Englishmen. Nor can the descendants of those good knights, who stood with Edward III in the trenches of Calais, or of those hardy squires who overthrew the victors at Bannockburn, be unwilling to claim kindred with the descendants of the Irish chiefs, whose names were in the songs of the poet and the legends of the saint, when the names of Normandy and of Norman were unknown.
Of the condition of the labouring classes during this period we know nothing from chronicles or histories. At that time the condition
p.xxiiof the poor was but little regarded, from which circumstance it may perhaps be inferred that there was among them no great, or at least no unusual misery; had such existed it would have forced itself upon the observation of the annalist. We may observe, also, that the existence of villeinage, when the rights to a man's labour was a valuable property shows that the population had not exceeded its just limits, and that the labourer, who, if he wandered from the land, was reclaimed by the lord, must have been supplied with food sufficient to maintain his strength. From monastic registries and chartularies, and other legal documents, we may painfully collect the history of the cultural classes, which the professed historian would not condescend to give; but even more valuable than these sources of information are the notices of labourers and farmers contained in contemporary poetry. What would we not give for such a picture of an Irish cabin in the fourteenth century, as Chaucer, the contemporary of Clyn, has given of an English cottage in the Nonne's Prieste's Tale?
The social evils of Ireland, in the time now under our review, seem to have been but little mitigated by the influence of religion. When the Anglo-Irish nobles were gradually falling into Irish customs, and were confederating, whenever it served their purpose, as readily with Irish against English as with English against Irish, we find national differences and dissensions, where we should least wish to find them, in the monastery and the convent. Although the authorities, as well ecclesiastical as civil, favoured the English party, the strife seems not to have been altogether unequal. In 1325, writes Clyn, there was discord, as it were universally, amongst all the poor religious of Ireland, some of them upholding, promoting, and cherishing the part of their own nation, and blood, and tongue; others of them canvassing the offices of prelates and superiors. And he adds that in the same year, at the general chapter of the Order, held at Lyons, the convents of Cork, Buttevant, Limerick, and Ardfert, were taken
p.xxiiifrom the Irish friars, and assigned as a fifth custody to the English.
In those evil days neither the persons nor the places dedicated to religion were safe from violence. We read in Clyn: In the year 1323, on the Friday within the octaves of Easter, Philip Talon, with his son and about twenty-six of the Codhlitanys, was slain by Edmund Butler, Rector of Tullow, who, aided by the Cantitons, dragged them out of the church, and burned the church of Thamolyn, with their women and children, and the reliques of Saint Molyng.
In 1336, on Thursday, the 3rd Ides of April, Master Howel de Bathe, Archdeacon of Ossory, a man of literature and munificence, with Andrew Avenel and Adam de Bathe, was killed by the O'Brynys of Duffyr, in defence of the goods of his church and parish.
But, perhaps, the most striking entry on this subject is the following: In 1346, on Friday, the 3rd Nones of May, Dermicius Mac Gilpatrick (surnamed Monoculus, in Irish Caeoch), who ever gave himself up to plots and treacheries, little regarding perjury, burned the town of Achabo, having taken and brought O'Carroll with him, and raging against the cemetery, the church, and the shrine of St. Canice, that most
p.xxivholy abbot, the patron of the country and the founder of the abbey, like a degenerate son against a father, he burned them and consumed them in unsparing fire.
Nor were oaths always reverenced, even when administered in any of those strange forms, with which the Irishman still occasionally endeavours to awaken the religious feeling and to bind the conscience of his opponent. So we are told in 1333, in the beginning of June, Scanlei Mac Gylpatrick, after many and reiterated oaths on different books and manifold reliques of saints, treacherously took and killed two of the sons of Fynyn Mac Gylpatrick, his uncle, and blinded and mutilated the third. Yet, notwithstanding the frequency of such acts evidencing the little power of religious principle, our ancestors were not devoid of religious feelings, of which, to omit others, the following entry is a proof: Also in this year (1348), and chiefly in September and October, there came together, from divers parts of Ireland, bishops and prelates, churchmen and religious, lords and others, and commonly all persons of both sexes, to the pilgrimage and wading of the water at Thath Molyngis, in troops and multitudes, so that you could see many thousands there at the same time for many days together. Some came from feelings of devotion, but others, and they the majority, from dread of the plague, which then grew very rife.
In the following annals there are some interesting notices of events not immediately connected with Ireland, such as, in 1347, the siege of Calais, at which were present Maurice, Earl of Kildare, and the Kilkenny Knight, Sir Fulco de la Frene; and in the same year there occurs a very curious notice of the Tribune Rienzi. To mention all these, however, would be beyond our due limits; it may, however, be allowed to give here together the various notices which are scattered through different years relative to the City of Kilkenny.
We must, however, previously give admission to the following: 1329. In that battle, the battle in which the Louth men killed their
p.xxvnew Earl, John Birmingham, fell Caech O'Kayrwill O'Carroll, that famous tympanist and harper, so pre-eminent that he was a phoenix in his art, and with him fell about twenty tympanists, who were his scholars. He was Caech O'Kayrwill, because his eyes were not straight, but squinted; and if he was not the first inventor of chord music, yet, of all his predecessors and contemporaries, he was the corrector, the teacher, and the director.
The following are Clyn's notices of Kilkenny: 1267. The Friars Preachers opened the convent at Ross, and the chapter of the Minors was held at Kilkenny.
1302. About the feast of Pentecost died Michael, Bishop of Ossory, who was succeeded by William Fitz John, consecrated at Kilkenny, on the Sunday within the octaves of the Epiphany of the same year.
1308. A chapter of the Minors at Kilkenny, on the feast of the Baptist.
1315. A common parliament of the magnates at Kilkenny, in the beginning of June, to give aid and counsel against the Scots.
1318. William Fitz John, Bishop of Ossory, is translated to the archbishopric of Cashel, in whose room is substituted Friar Richard Leddrede, who was consecrated by the Pope at Avignon, where the Roman Court then abode, on the 8th Kalends of May.
1321. The new choir is built at Kilkenny.
1323. Consecration of the great altar of the Friars Minors at Kilkenny. On the same day, to wit, 3rd Ides of January, the funeral of Sir Robert Schortals.
1324. On Thursday, in the octaves of St. Hilary, William Outlaw, entangled in heresy and notoriously defamed, and failing in his purgation, publicly abjured his heresy in the church of St. Mary, in Kilkenny, reading a new profession of faith, and signing it with his own hand.
1331. On Friday, the Feast of St. Cecilia the Virgin, by Nicholas, Lord
p.xxviBishop of Waterford, the new cemetery outside the church of the Friars Minor of Kilkenny was consecrated.
1332. The belfry of St. Canice of Kilkenny fell, and great part of the choir; the ruins broke down the vestibule of the chapels and the bells, on Friday, the 11th Kalends of June, so that it was a horrid and pitiful spectacle to the beholders.
1334. On the feast of Tiburtius and Valerian, on Thursday, the burgesses of Kilkenny began to make a pavement.
1335. On Thursday, the morrow of the Invention of the Holy Cross, Sir Remund le Ercedekne, with his two sons, Patrick and Sylvester, Sir William le Ercedekne, and eleven of that name, were slain by Leyath O'Morthe Lewis O More, his sons and servants, in a conference at Clargoly, as were Thomas de Bathe, Gerald Bagot, and others, to the number of 50. This Remund, with his two elder sons, and his uncle, Sir William, and three more of the name, were carried to be buried in the convent of the Friars Minors, on seven biers together, one following the other, through the town of Kilkenny, with the wailing of many.
In the same year, on Thursday, the morrow of Lucia the Virgin, the great cross was put up in the centre of the market-place in Kilkenny, at which time many persons, flying to the cross, were marked on the naked flesh with the sign of the cross, with a red hot iron, that they might go to the Holy Land.
1338. Sir Eustace le Poer, on the eve of the Ascension of our Lord, being then seneschal of Kilkenny, attached and imprisoned Sir Fulco and Oliver de la Frene, without showing them any cause for their caption; and they finding rather his malice and his revenge than the rigour of justice, Oliver prudently escaped from the castle on Ascension Day, and on the morrow, having assembled their men and their friends, with the strong hand they broke down the gates of the castle of Kilkenny, and brought out Sir Fulco in spite of the seneschal.
In the same year, on Tuesday, the 15th Kalends of December, there was a very great flood, such as was not seen for forty years before, and it overthrew and carried away many bridges, mills, and buildings. Of the whole abbey of the Friars Minors of Kilkenny only the great altar and the steps of the altar remained uncovered and untouched by the flood.
1340. On the Friday within the octaves of Easter, Robert Conton was killed in the street of Kilkenny.
1343. Building of the new belfry of the church of St. Mary.
1347. On the same day, Palm-Sunday and the day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary, at Kilkenny, the Lady Isabella Palmer, who built the front of the choir of the friars, was buried. She reached a praiseworthy old age, and having lived in her widowhood religiously and honourably about seventy years, she passed from this world, as was said, and as is believed, in a state of virginity.
In the same year, on the first Sunday in Advent, began the confraternity of the Friars Minors of Kilkenny, for the purpose of building a new belfry and of repairing the church.
Also Friar Richard, Bishop of Ossory, obtained in the Roman Court an exemption from the jurisdiction and superiority of the Archbishop of Dublin.
Such, with the notices of the plague before extracted, are the chief events given by Friar Clyn relative to the fair city of Kilkenny, in which he passed the greater part of his life.
The Castle still stands, no longer, as in his days, a prison and a fortress, but as Spenser described it, a brave mansion in as fair a land as may be read.Vainly will the antiquary seek for the great Cross in the centre of the market-place, where Clyn saw the pilgrims to the Holy Land burned with the sign of a cross on the naked flesh, with a hot iron; and where the young men of Kilkenny were taught by the Protestant Bishop Bale to act his strange dramas on
p.xviiia Sunday in 1552. The Cathedral of St. Canice yet remains a memorial of the piety of past generations, consecrated to the glory of God; but Clyn's home is now ruined and profaned. Not gently sinking, like many other holy ruins, in silence and quietude, into natural forms, assimilating with natural objects, with trees, and hills, and rivers, breathing deeper and holier thoughts than in its days of power and splendour, the Friary of St. Francis is now surrounded with poverty and wretchedness in the centre of the town. It was used as a soldiers' barrack while its walls could be inhabited, and now its beautiful church, vocal in Clyn's time with the constant voice of prayer and praise, is a racket-court for the citizens of Kilkenny.
To complete, as far as is in our power, the collection of Irish Annals contemplated by the Earl of Marlborough in the reign of James I, there is printed in the Appendix the only remnant of the Annals of Ross to which we have had access.
For the interesting and valuable notes, marked with his initials, the Editor is indebted to the Rev. James Graves, of Kilkenny, from whose local knowledge, and antiquarian zeal, that ancient city, and the adjoining district, will hereafter derive yet greater elucidation.
The notes marked A. H. have been contributed by the Hon. Algernon Herbert and those marked J. O'D. by Mr. O'Donovan.
The text bas been printed from a MS. in Trinity College Library, Dublin (E. 3, 20), in the same volume which continues the Annals of Ross and Dowling's Annals. It was collated with a copy of a later date in the possession of Sir William Betham, which is deficient in a few pages at the end, viz. from line 15, page 33, of the text now published.
Although MSS. of Clyn do not seem to have been of rare occurrence in the preceding century, in which they were quoted by Harris and
p.xxixby Walker, yet such has been the recent loss of Irish historical documents (affording strong proof of the utility of the labours of our Society), that these were the only MSS. accessible to the Editor when these pages were put to press; and, although evidently carefully written, it was impossible to place implicit reliance on them. It was, therefore, with great pleasure that it was ascertained, when four sheets of this edition had been printed, that a MS. of Clyn was to be found amongst the Rawlinson MSS. in the Bodleian Library.
For a most careful and elaborate collation of this earlier authority with the pages already printed from the College and Betham MSS., and with the proof-sheets of the subsequent pages, our Society is indebted to the Rev. J. Wilson, of Trinity College, Oxford. And it was
p.xxxwith great satisfaction that the Editor perceived that, although in the unprinted pages he adopted some better readings from the Oxford MS., yet that in substance and meaning it agreed so fully with the other MSS. that there was no necessity for cancelling any of the pages already printed off.
After the Notes had been printed off, the Editor received the following remarks, which are too interesting to be omitted, and are, therefore, inserted here. For the information they contain he is indebted to Mr. Prim, of Kilkenny, and to the Rev. James Graves.
The Franciscan Abbey, Kilkenny.
It appears by entries in the Clasped Book of the Corporation of Kilkenny, that the Franciscan abbey was assigned for building barracks on the 19th of September, 1698.
5th April, 1700. The waste of Francis' abbey, in addition to the former grant, given for building barracks.Id.
31st August, 1708 St. Francis' abbey (now in the possession of his father) set to John Desborough, Jun., for forty-one years from the following Michaelmas,
p.xxxiat £10 1s. per annum, excepting thereout the horse-barrack, hay-yard, and the set of pillars and uncovered walls within the said abbey.Id.
The Corporation possesses the original grants of the Black and Grey friars, and their possessions, made to them by Henry VIII., in the thirty-fifth year of his reign.
It appears from the City Books that the Franciscan abbey was canted to Alderman Evans at £6 a year, fee-farm lease, December 19th, 1724. It is still held by his descendants, who are reduced to poverty.J. G.
The Pavage of Kilkenny.
The burgesses of Kilkenny were incorported by William, Earl Marshal, the elder, before the year 1220, and received several important Charters from that nobleman's successors in the lordship of the district; but the first royal grant obtained by the Corporation of the town, which can be found in the Calendar of Rolls, was made on the 25th November in the year named in the text, 1334, and as it conferred upon the provost, bailiffs, and true men of Kilkenny, the right of pavage for seven years, to pave their town, it appears by our author that they lost no time in carrying its design into execution. [Rot. Claus. 8 Ed. III 123.] However, after the expiration of the seven years of which the privilege of "pavage" lasted, it would seem that the repair of their streets was very much neglected by the burgesses. A manuscript preserved amongst the Clarendon Papers, British Museum (tom. li. No. 479), which was written in the early part of the seventeenth century, and is devoted to a description of Kilkenny and the diocese of Ossory, notices the commencing of the pavement of the town in 1334, and observes: Cujus instaurationem a tanto tempore intermissam aut certe plurimum neglectam aggrediebatur vir nobilis L. S. dum esset urbis Praetor anno salutis ... The initials here given would correspond with the name of Luke Shee, son of Sir Richard Shee, Knight of Uppercourt, who was Mayor of Kilkenny in the year 1613, as appears from the following entry in the Red Book of the Corporation of Kilkenny, folio 311, under the date September 10th, 1613: Mr. Luke Shee refused to serve as mayor. His reasons were, that he lived in the country, and, though named an alderman in the Charter, never took the oath
p.xxxiiof an alderman. The Corporation answered that he had an house in the town, and therefore was an inhabitant; and that he had voted and acted as an alderman, and therefore was an alderman. He submitted to the Corporation and was fined 100 marks, Irish; and a by-law made that every person hereafter refusing to serve mayor, when elected, shall forfeit 200 marks and be disfranchised.
The reparation of the ancient pavement of Kilkenny, thus begun by Lucas Shee in 1613, would seem to have been carried out by his immediate successors in office; but the Corporation appears only to have paved the centre of the streets, and to have caused the side ways to be repaired at the expense of the inhabitants. Thus in the Red Book at folio 341, under the date 1615, we find the following entry:
A person hired by the city, by the year, to repair the streets. Everybody to find labourers and pave before their own doors; those who have leases, of which twenty-one years are to come, to pay as inheritors; those who have less time, the cost to be divided between them and the landlord, according to the number of years to come.
In the White Book under the date 27th January, 1670, is the following: By-law for paving the streets.Every inhabitant, to pave the breadth of his front and twenty feet into the street; and if those pavements do not meet, the city to pave the remainder. But if the gutter be above twenty-one feet from the door, the inhabitant to pave the gutter. If the street be not forty-two feet wide, the opposite inhabitants to be at equal expenses. If not paid on notice from the mayor, to be distrained for double the value of the pavement.
Again the Clasped Book records that on the 22nd April, 1694, it was Ordered,that each inhabitant of this city do pave the gutter before their doors, within the walls thereof; and that the city shall pave the rest.
The Corporation of Kilkenny at the present day defrays the expense of repairing the pavement of the town within the limit of the ancient city walls, but
p.xxxiiiwithout their circuit, all such city works are carried on by the grand jury presentment.J. G.; A. P.
The Market Cross of Kilkenny.
The ancient and beautiful structure stood in the centre of High-street, near the Tholsel, but was barbarously destroyed, by order of the Corporation, in the year 1771. A drawing of it was preserved by the Rev. Mervyn Archdall, which was engraved for Ledwich's History of Irishtown and Kilkenny, in the second volume of the Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, and was copied in the first volume of the Dublin Penny Journal. In both of these works it is stated that the date "M.C.C.C." was indented upon its fourth step; but this must be a mistake, as Clyn, having been himself a resident of Kilkenny at the time, could scarcely be incorrect as to the period of its erection. In other respects the drawing would appear to correspond with the description given of the cross by Archdekin, Motraye, and other old writers. The Clarendon MS., tom. li. No. 479 already alluded to in the note upon the paving of Kilkenny, represents it as an arched structure, supported by marble columns, rising from a graduated base. Above the arch rose a slender shaft, upon the top of which was a richly sculptured cross, adorned with the figures of St. Kyran, St. Canice, St. Patrick, and St. Brigid, all of which religious personages are there asserted to have been the tutelary saints of the town. Archdekin states (Theologia Tripart. Universa. par. 3) the Puritan soldiers of Cromwell to have shattered, with their muskets, the portion of the carving which represented the symbol of the crucifixion; but Motraye mentions that in 1730, though the arms of it were broken off, the shaft, adorned with good figures in relief, was well preserved.
The plea upon which the Corporation of 1771 sought to justify the destruction of this venerable monument was, that it had fallen into a ruinous condition, and was dangerous to the public; but it is stated by old inhabitants who had often seen the cross before its final obliteration, that the expenditure of a few pounds would have been sufficient to have restored it to perfect repair, and preserve it to future ages. It appears from the municipal records that the civic representative body of the seventeenth century was as anxious for its preservation as the corporators of the eighteenth seem to have been regardless of its value.
It was recorded in the Red Book that, on the 9th February, 1609, an order was made by the Corporation that the market cross and Croker's cross be for ever repaired and kept in repair by the company of masons, in such manner as the mayor shall direct. The preservation of the structure would appear to have been immediately thereupon undertaken, as on the 20th April following an invitation was sent forth to every person that have plows within the city, to send them to draw stones from the quarry to repair the market cross; and on the 3rd August, in the next year, the following memorandum was inserted in the Red Book:The market cross repaired May, 1610, by the Company of Masons. The Corporation paid for carriage and lime and sand. Again, under the year 1624, October 15th, is this entry: Part of the Black Quarry allowed for making up the south side of the market cross.
This is the last record which can be discovered of any attempt towards the reparation or preservation of the interesting and venerable structure; but there are some other curious allusions to the cross in the Corporation documents. On the 13th April, 1632, the north side of the market cross was granted to two persons for shops during the fair times of Corpus Christi, in regard that their shops are stopped up by the stations and play of Corpus Christi Day. The market cross seems to have been the locality of the performance of the ancient plays and mysteries in Kilkenny. Two of the mysteries there acted, and specially written for the purpose by John Bale, the first Protestant Bishop of Ossory, in the year 1552, are still preserved amongst the Harleian MSS., and are extremely curious and interesting specimens of those religious dramatic entertainments; they are:a tragedy entitled God's Promises, and a comedy named John Baptist's Preachings in the Wilderness, and both are strongly directed against Popery. The following passage from the curious personal narrative of Bale's Vocation to the Bishopric of Ossory, and Persecutions in the same, printed in the sixth volume of the Harleian Miscellany, is interesting as connected with the subject of this note:
On the xx daye of August was the Ladye Marye with vs at Kilkennye proclaimed Queene of England Fraunce and Ireland, with the greatest solempnyte, that there coulde be devised of processions, musters, and disgysings, all the noble Captaynes and Gentilmen thereabout being present. What-a-do I had that daye with the Prebendaryes and Prestes about wearinge the cope, croser, and myter, in prosession, it were to much to write. I tolde them earnestly,
p.xxxvwhan they would have compelled me thereunto, that I was not Moyses Minister, but Christes. I desyred them not to compell me to his Denyall, which is, S. Paule sayth, in the repetinge of Moyses sacraments and ceremoniall schaddowes Gal. V. With that I take Christes Testament in my Hande, and went to the Market Crosse, the people in great nombre followinge. There take I the xiii. chap. of S. Paule to the Romanes, declaringe to them brevely what the authoritie was of the worldly powers and Magistrates, what reverence and obedience were due to the same. In the meane tyme had the prestes gotten ii disgysed prestes, one to beare the myter afore me, and another the croser, making iii procesion pageaunts of one. The yonge men, in the forenoon, played a Tragedye of God's promyses in the olde Lawe, at the Market Crosse, with organe plainges, and songes, very aptly. In the afternone agayne they played comedie of Sanct Johan Baptistes preachings, of Christes baptisynge, and of his temptacion in the wildernesse, to the small contentacion of the prestes, and other papistes there.
There are some curious notices, in the Red Book, of these religious plays subsequently to Bale's time. On the 20th April, 1610, it was resolved, that the Mayor and Aldermen, with the advice of the Sheriffs and such of the second council as they shall cull, shall order the celebration of Corpus Christi Day in decent and solemn manner as usual, and shall employ carpenters to make rails for keeping out horses and the mob, and for placing strangers at the place where the interlude shall be plaid. On the 23rd July, same year, the Corporation granted a salary of twenty shillings per annum to a person for keeping the apparel used on Corpus Christi Day station, and the apparel of the Mories and players of the Resurrection; and on the 13th January 1631, was allowed a salary of £3 13s. 4d. per annum to Wiliam Consey, for teaching to write and read, and instructing the children of the natives for the play on Corpus Christi day.
Croker's cross, alluded to in some of the foregoing extracts, was of lesser importance than the market cross; it was a monument erected in 1407, in commemoration of the victory gained over the Burkes and O'Carrolls, at Callan, by Sir Stephen Scroop, the Lord Deputy, in whose army the burgesses of Kilkenny served, under the leadership of their Sovereign, John Croker. This monument stood in the cross-ways formed by the junction of High-street, Patrick-street, Roseinn-street, and the parade, called Castle-street, but
p.xxxviit has been long since removed. On the 9th February, 1609, the Corporation ordered, that the market place for cattle be at James's-green and Walkin's-green, and from the market cross to Croker's cross; and no one to buy elsewhere. There were also several other similar monuments formerly existing in Kilkenny. The Butt's cross is the only one yet remaining, but the sites of others are determined by the old names of localities, such as St. Leger's cross, Crinius's cross, Scaldcrow's cross, &c. The author of the Clarendon MS., tom. 51, No. 479, states that at the beginning of the seventeenth century there was a monumental cross near the gate of the Franciscan abbey; he, however gives nothing of its history, except that it had been removed thither from the suburb, on the south side of the town, called Loughbuidhe.J. G.; A. P.
THE CHURCH OF ST. MARY, KILKENNY.
The original structure of St. Mary's church appears to have been purely early English in style, and was probably erected shortly after the incorporation of the town by William Earl Marshal. The tower, whose erection Clyn has recorded, existed until the year 1819, when it was taken down. The church is cruciform, and the tower stood at the north-west angle of the body of the building, and was not, as the present tower is, attached to the west gable. An ancient trowel was discovered imbedded in the wall of the old tower, which was used in laying the foundation stone of the new one, but we believe that this relic is not now in existence.
The walls of the present church are portions of the original building, but the triple lancets in the north and south transept gables are the only original windows which have been retained. The chancel has been much curtailed in length, as appears by the following extract from the Vestry Book of the parish:
2 March, 1748. Agreed on by the minister, churchwardens, and parishioners, assembled that the eastern Ile or chancel be pulled down within twenty-one foot of the pulpit ... and that the several monuments in ye eastern isle and sheds may be removed and set up in such parts of the church as ye Bishop shall aprove of, at the expense of the proprietors.
By an entry made in the blank leaf at the commencement of the parish Register
p.xxxviiit appears that in 1774 the Corporation of Kilkenny repaired the steeple, being in a very ruinous condition, and also adorned the church with an organ, which cost £300.
The parish of St. Mary is at present a perpetual curacy in the gift of the Bishop of Ossory, the curate being paid by minister's money; but originally it appears to have been an independent rectory. In the early taxations which occur in the Red Book of Ossory it is always termed "ecclesia.
Thus (at fol. 18, dorso) its value and denomination are given as under, in a taxation made at the commencement of the fourteenth century:
Ecc. be. Marie Kilkenn. cvi.s viij.d Deci.a x.s viij.d; and again in the new taxation made post guerram Scotorum, circ. 1320, the value and proxy payable thereout is thus given:
Ecc. be. Marie iiij.£i Deci.a viij.s procur. xij.d Lib. Rub. Ossor. fol. 22, dorso.
The subsequent history of the parish is exceedingly obscure; whether at this period it was in the gift of the bishop is not stated in the taxations; but from various documents it appears that there was a very intimate connexion between this parish and the Corporation of Kilkenny. In a burgess rent roll, dated ann. 5. Hen. V. there are entries which show that the Sovereign and burgesses of Kilkenny had the setting of various houses and lands which were charged with the supply of lights for the church of St. Mary, and this before the Reformation, and consequent acquirement of confiscated church property.
Again, under the year 1643, we find a docket of St. Mary's lands belonging to the city of Kilkenny, mentioning several houses and lands charged with finding ropes for the bells in our Lady's church, repairing the church from time to time, and keeping, the style, with lock and key to the church-yard. Amongst the items is the following: Edmund Grace for the Mary priest chamber and garden 61 years beginning 1621, at 20d per an. For a statement made by Ledwich on this subject see his Antiquities, second edition, p. 495. His authorities were the MSS. of Counsellor James Laffan, Recorder of the city of Kilkenny, which MSS. Ledwich borrowed, but never returned.J. G.