¶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.199could 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.201in 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.203It 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.209There 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:
This stanza belonged to the hymn of praise which the same Maoilín composed for O Domhnaill:
- 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.
- For the destruction of my dear Derry,
For the scattering of my Aileach
Thenceforth till final doom,
Dál gCais shall not possess Éire.
- 'Tis he will revenge my virgin Aileach.
The Aodh with steeds for the rough road,
The sleek bodyno stolen fame
The long-haired one from Fanaid.
- He will be the valiant Aodh,
To whom the lords of Tara shall yield,
He will leavegoodly deed
Reproach on every province in Ireland, etc.
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.
- 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.
¶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.215his 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.217way 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.219Mall, 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.221from 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.223weapons 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.225grain 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.229he 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.231told 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.233him 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.235did 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.