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Chapters towards a History of Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth (Author: Philip O'Sullivan Beare)

Chapter 2

The Equipment and Leaders of both Parties. Earl Tyrone inaugurated The O'Neill.

THE great General Norris, with his army, entered Oriel in MacMahon's country and came to a place not far from Monaghan which is called Clontibret (Cluoin Tiburuid), where he displayed his forces to the enemy. O'Neill, not less skilful as a general, but inferior in strength, came against him. Here for the first time the two far-in-a-way most illustrious Generals of the two most warlike islands


faced each other. The ground here was an open and level plain, but somewhat heavy with moisture. The waters flowing from the surrounding bog formed a ford over which the English might most conveniently cross. O'Neill blocked this ford; Norris tried to force it. O'Neill endeavoured to drive him back. A cavalry fight and musketry skirmish commenced simultaneously round the ford. The Royalist horse were better armed; the Irish troops were more nimble. The Irish sharpshooters were far better marksmen. This advantage was often common to both parties since there were generally more Irish than English in the Royalist army. The Queen's musketeers were twice worsted by the Catholics, and recalled by Norris, who was always the last to leave the fight, and had even a horse shot under him by a leaden bullet. All of both parties justly admitted the superiority of Maguire's cavalry. Norris being annoyed at his men having been twice repulsed and unable to hold their ground, James Sedgreve, an Irish Meath-man of great size and courage, thus addressed him and Bagnal—‘Send a troop of cavalry with me and I promise you I will drag O'Neill from his saddle.’ O'Neill was stationed on the other side of the ford supported by forty horse and a few musketeers surveying the battle thence and giving his orders. For the third time the cavalry and musketeers renewed the fight and Sedgreve accompanied by a troop of picked Irish and English horse charged the ford. In the ford itself a few horse fell under the fire of O'Neill's bodyguard, but Sedgreve rushed upon O'Neill and each splintered his lance on the corslet of the other. Sedgreve immediately seized O'Neill by the neck and threw him from his horse. O'Neill likewise dragged Sedgreve from his horse and both gripped each other in a desperate struggle. O'Neill was thrown under but such was his presence of mind, that prostrate as he was, he slew Sedgreve with a stab of his dagger under the corslet between the thighs and through the bladder. Eighteen illustrious cavaliers of the Royalists fell round Sedgreve and their colours were captured; the rest sought safety in flight. With them all the Queen's forces were likewise compelled to retreat, having lost seven hundred more or less, whilst the Catholics had only a few wounded, and no number of killed worth mentioning. On the following day as Norris retreated, being short of powder, he was followed and attacked by O'Neill at Bealach Finnuise, where O'Hanlon, Chief Standard Bearer of the Royalist Army, was wounded in the leg and others were shot down by leaden bullets.


Hinch, an Englishman, who held the Castle of Monaghan with three companies of foot and a troop of horse, was obliged to surrender it for want of provisions. He, himself, was let go scot-free as agreed.