Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill (Author: Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh)

section 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


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,


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


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.