Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The History of Ireland (Author: Geoffrey Keating)

Section 31


When Mac Murchadha and Robert Fitz Stephen heard that Maurice had come to Ireland, they went to meet him to Loch Garman; and it was then Mac Murchadha called to mind all the outrages that the people of Ath Cliath had committed on himself and on his father before him. Accordingly Mac Murchadha brought together this host with a view to marching to plunder Ath Cliath, and he left Robert Fitz Stephen building a fortress in the place which is now called Carrick, which is two miles outside of Loch Garman, and Mac Murchadha and Maurice Fitz Gerald with the majority of these foreigners proceeded to Fine Ghall, and they plundered and burned that country.

Now when the burgesses of Ath Cliath heard that the country round them was plundered and spoiled, they took counsel together, and the decision they came to was to send valuables and large presents of gold and silver to Mac Murchadha with a view to obtaining peace and a settlement from him, and with these treasures they sent him hostages over the walls of the town, and they promised


to pay Mac Murchadha all claims and dues they owed him up to then.

Now when Mac Murchadha saw that he was succeeding in all his undertakings, he reflected in his mind that his ancestors before him possessed the sovereignty of Ireland, to wit, Cathaoir Mor, Conchubhar Abhradhruadh, Labhruidh Loingseach, Laoghaire Lorc, and Ughaine Mor and every other king of that race that had held the sovereignty of Ireland before him, and he said to himself that the strength or might of all these kings to hold Ireland was not greater than his own. Hence Mac Murchadha took Maurice Fitz Gerald and Robert Fitz Stephen aside and unfolded to them his design in this matter and asked their advice as to what he should do. They answered him with one voice, and said it would be very easy for him to carry out this design were he to send envoys to England to ask for more men; however Mac Murchadha asked them to send envoys from themselves inviting their kinsmen and friends; and he promised to give his own daughter to wife to Maurice Fitz Gerald or to Robert Fitz Stephen, whichever of them would accept her, and his princedom from his own death onwards. But neither of them consented to accept her, for both remembered that Mac Murchadha had promised that lady and the sovereignty of Leinster with her to the earl of Stranguell in return for his bringing with him his forces to recover his patrimony for him; and Maurice and Robert requested Mac Murchadha to send a letter to the earl requesting him to come over in fulfilment of the promise he had made him in England, ‘and make known to him,’ added they, ‘that thou art ready to fulfil thy promise to him, and will give him thy daughter to wife and the sovereignty of Leinster from thy death on; and, moreover, as to the four divisions of Ireland that thou dost not possess, make known to him that thou hast hopes of their becoming subject and paying rent to thee.’


Mac Murchadha sent envoys and letters to the earl of Stranguell in reference to this affair, and when the envoys had come into his presence and he had read the letters, and when, moreover, he had heard of the conquests Mac Murchadha and Robert Fitz Stephen and Maurice Fitz Gerald had made in Ireland, he went to where the king of England was, and asked leave of him to go and make conquests wherever he liked. But when the king understood the mind and intention of the earl, he did not give him full consent, neither did he give him a refusal. But the earl went away with the permission he had got, and he got himself and his followers ready to go to Ireland, and before he could himself get ready to go on this expedition he sent Raymond le Gros, son of William Fitz Gerald, an elder brother of Maurice Fitz Gerald, with an armed party before him to Ireland, and on reaching that country the place where he put into port was Dun Domhnaill, four miles south of Port Lairge; and according to the chronicle of Stanihurst the number of his followers was ten knights and seventy foot. And when they had landed they built a strong embankment of stones and clay in that place.

Now when news reached Port Lairge and Maoilseachlainn O Faolain, king of the Deise, that these foreigners had arrived in their neighbourhood, they were all seized with hatred and fear of them, and they came to one place to take counsel in reference to this matter, and the decision they came to was to attack the strangers in the stronghold in which they were, and to slaughter and destroy them.

After this they came (with their forces) to one place, and their number was three thousand men when going to oppose these foreigners. When Raymond saw them approach him he went out quickly and unwisely with his small party to meet that large host with a view to


engaging them in battle and conflict. But when he saw that he was not strong enough to fight them, he retreated to the fortress he had himself raised. When the Gaels saw the foreigners retreating, they followed them vehemently and boldly to the fortress. But when Raymond de la Gros observed that his enemy were boldly in pursuit of him he turned on them and made indescribable slaughter upon that great host of Gaels, so that apart from all he slew of them he maimed and wounded five hundred of them on the spot.

Now after the feast of St. Bartholomew in the succeeding autumn in the year of the Lord 1170, the earl of Stranguell came to Ireland, and the full number of the host that came with him was two hundred knights and a thousand esquires and bowmen and men of valour of every description; and it was at Port Lairge they put into port. And when the news spread over the country that the earl of Stranguell had come to Ireland, Mac Murchadha and the nobles of Leinster and Robert Fitz Stephen and Maurice Fitz Gerald and Raymond de la Gros came to meet and join the earl with joy and in high spirits, and on the morrow they went by common consent to capture Port Lairge; and when they arrived at the town they made a united assault on it with a view to capturing it, and having it in their power; and notwithstanding the evils and hardships endured by the townspeople in maintaining and defending themselves, they sprang on them over the walls of the town, and slew of the townspeople as many as they came upon, and they captured Maoilseachlainn O Faolain, king of the Deise, and it was through Mac Murchadha's intercession that his life was spared.

Now Mac Murchadha took his daughter, whose name was Aoife, to meet the earl at this time, and she was married to him, and when they had made and ratified that match on both sides, the earl left a strong garrison in Port Lairge


and marched at once with his host against Ath Cliath; and there was no man on earth whom the people of Ath Cliath hated more to see coming towards them than Mac Murchadha accompanied by these foreigners; and Mac Murchadha on his part was full of rage and enmity against them. For it was they who slew his father; and they buried him with dishonour and contempt, and buried a dead dog in the same grave with him as an insult to him. When the people of Ath Cliath saw these foreigners and the strength of Leinster, a large army, making towards them, they were seized with fear and alarm, and sent an envoy, to wit, Labhras O Tuathail, archbishop of Ath Cliath, to the earl to request peace and a settlement from him. And the archbishop promised the earl gifts and hostages from the people of Ath Cliath in consideration of their obtaining peace and protection.

But while the settlement was being made between them, Raymond de la Gros and Myles Cogan, with a company of young knights, were on the other side of the town, and they found an opportunity of breaking and gapping the walls of the town, and they entered the town suddenly, and there slew every person they laid hold of. But when the foreigners and Mac Murchadha had thus captured Ath Cliath, they remained in it only a short time, and the earl left Myles Cogan and a company of men to hold the town. Now there were enmity and ill will between O Ruairc, king of Breithfne, and Mac Murchadha, and the latter took this great host of foreigners and Gaels to Breithfne, and they spoiled and burned the country and gained great advantages over O Ruairc and over all whom they fell in with in Ireland.