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


section 1

The Life of Aodh Ruadh O Domhnaill

¶1] A wondrous family indeed sprang from O Domhnaill (Aodh, son of Manus, son of Aodh Óg, son of Aodh Ruadh, son of Niall Garbh, son of Turloch of the Wine etc.) Inynne Dubh, daughter of James, son of Alexander, son of Eoin Cathanach Mac Domhnaill, of the race of Colla Uais, son of Eochaidh Doimhlean, was wife of O Domhnaill, and she was the mother of those of his children who were illustrious. The names of their male children in the order of birth are Aodh Ruadh, Rury, Manus, and Caffar.

¶2] As for the first son of these, Aodh Ruadh, immediately after his birth he was given to be reared and maintained to the noble free families of Cenél Conall Gulban, son of Niall, and it was not these alone that got him to foster and rear, but others of Cenél Eóghain, son of Niall, took him, for they were sure that some good would come of him if he reached manhood. Thereafter he grew and throve in shape and comeliness, sense and eloquence, wisdom and understanding, size and fitness, so that his name and fame spread throughout the five provinces of Éire among the English and the Irish, even before he passed the age of boyhood and completed his fifteenth year. Moreover, the fame and renown of the youth were reported to the foreigners of Dublin, and they reflected in their minds that there would not be one like him of the Irish to avenge his wrongs and punish the plundering of his race if he was allowed to reach manhood. It was told them too that prophets and people with foreknowledge and predictors of futurity had announced that there would come one like him who would cause disturbance among them and in the island of Éire also, Colum Cille, son of Feilimid, the famous holy prophet of the


Cenél Conaill, a man full of grace and of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, promised where he said:

    1. The man of high renown shall come
      he shall bring weeping and woe in every land.
      He shall be the godly prince
      and he shall be king for nine years.

Some say it was Cáillín of Fenagh who made the prophecy, [in margin.]

¶3] Moreover, these same English were afraid that he and the Earl O Néill, i.e. Aodh, son of Feardorcha, son of Conn Bacach, son of Conn, would join in alliance and friendship with each other against them, for the Earl was a true follower of his parents for a long time; besides, O Domhnaill's daughter, named Joan, the sister of Aodh Ruadh, of whom we have made mention, was the Earl O Néill's spouse and wife. The O Néill, who was inaugurated chief of the Cenél Eóghain some time before, and who had the title then, i.e. Turloch Luineach, son of Niall Conallach, son of Art, son of Conn, son of Enri, son of Eóghan, was submissive to the English at that time, and he was not able to govern his principality owing to his weakness and infirmity, and he was ever accusing and complaining of the Earl O Néill to the Lord Justice and the Council through fear of being deposed by him, since he was in the flood of his prosperity and (in the prime) of life then, and he was a shield of protection and defence to his kindred. Wherefore the English of Dublin conceived suspicion and an evil opinion of him (though he was obedient to them up to that) on account of this friendship of his with Cenél Conaill, and they reflected that the capture of Aodh Ruadh would enable them to extend and secure their sway over the Cenél Conaill and the Cenél Eóghain, though he was but a mere youth at the time. Wherefore, for the aforesaid reasons these same English planned his imprisonment before he should succeed in effecting what they feared would come about by his means.

¶4] That capture took place in this way. A vessel was fitted


out, with black gunwale, deceptive, precisely at Michaelmas in the year 1587, in Dublin, with a murderous, odious crew, having implements of battle and weapons of war for defence and attack against their enemies, with abundance of wine and beer, for traffic and barter to trade with, to see if they could get an opportunity of seizing on Aodh O Domhnaill. By the advice of the Lord Deputy Sir John Perrott and of the Council too this was done secretly. The Lord Deputy was appointed to be the Deputy of the English king in supreme authority over the island of Banba for the space of three years. When all the gear that was desired was ready in the said ship, and while the wind was coming straight from the south, the vessel went out from the sheltered harbour of Dublin into the deep sea and sailed past Howth Head northwards, keeping the coast of Ireland on the port hand till she came to the old harbour of Swilly, in the territory of Conall, son of Niall. She hove to there opposite Rathmullen out in the sea. This castle was on the edge of the shore. A church was founded there for the divine office and Mass in honour of Mary, mother of the Lord, close by, and it was a well-known resort for visiting for the laity and clergy of the neighbourhood. It was built by Clann Suibhne, and it was they who inhabited the portion of the territory along the edge of the harbour as far as the ocean and others beside this. They were of the tribe of Eóghan, son of Niall, by descent, and they had come from Scotland to that country. They were leaders in battle of the king of O Conaill against his enemies.

¶5] As for the ship of which we spoke in the beginning, after she made the harbour opposite Rathmullen as we have said, her sails were furled and her anchors were dropped to secure her close to the landing place. Some of her crew went ashore after a while in the guise of merchants under pretence of peace and amity, and they set to espy and pry about, to traffic and bargain with every one who met them, and gave out that they had wine and beer on the ship. When the people of the castle heard this they made no delay, but set off to purchase both the wine and the strong ale and to drink


together till they were drunk. When the neighbourhood learned the news they assembled there and were carousing until they were merry like the rest. They were not long thus when Aodh O Domhnaill came recreating himself, to visit the place in thoughtlessness and sport on a harmless excursion and youthful tour, with a crowd of young men of the country in his company. When the spies heard this for certain, they returned back to their ship. The butlers and cup-bearers of the Castle were sent after them to ask for wine for the guests who had come. They said they had no more than what the crew would need, and they would allow none of it ashore to any one, but if some of the gentlemen would come to them aboard ship, they should get attendance and entertainment with what remained over to them of the wine.

¶6] When Domhnall Mac Suibhne, the owner of the castle, learned that the butlers had been refused the wine he was ashamed thereat. Wherefore the plan which his ill luck suggested to him was to invite his lord Aodh O Domhnaill to the ship. It was easy to lead him astray then for there was not one of his wise counsellors, of his preceptors, or of his learned men in his company to direct him or to give him advice, and he was not yet fifteen years of age, and he had not then acquired wisdom and sagacity. It was the same with the thoughtless forward persons who were with him, though they were older in years. The inexperienced party having taken their resolution, they launched a small boat that happened to lie on the edge of the shore, and rowed to the big ship till they were alongside. When the people who were on the ship saw that Aodh was among them, they bade them welcome, yet they allowed only a few persons aboard, as they had promised, along with Aodh Ruadh and Mac Suibhne, etc. They were served and feasted with a variety of food and drink till they were merry and cheerful. While they were enjoying themselves drinking, their arms were taken from them and the door of the hatch-way was made fast behind them, and they were put into a well-secured cabin where they were not able to use


either skill or valour against their enemies, and Aodh and those they pleased of the people who had come in to them were made prisoners. Meanwhile, the news of the capture spread throughout the district generally, and the neighbourhood crowded to the landing-place to see whether they might get a chance at the deceivers. But it was not easy, for they were in the deep part of the harbour after hauling on their anchor, hoisting and securing it, and there were not ships or boats to pursue or overtake them. Mac Suibhne na dtuath, called Eóghan Óg, came there like the rest; he was Aodh's foster-father, and he proceeded to offer other hostages and pledges in his stead. This did not avail him, for there was not in the province of Ulster a hostage whom they would take in his place, since it was solely to look for him they had come.

¶7] As for the ship of which we have spoken and her crew, when they had finished the business for which they had come, and taken with them the most desirable of the hostages and pledges of the country, they swung back with the current of the tide until they reached the ocean. They sailed after that with the strength of the north-west wind along the shore of Ireland south-eastwards back by the way they had already come, till they landed in the harbour of Dublin again. It became known immediately throughout the whole city and to the Lord Deputy and the Council especially that they had come after this manner, and that Aodh O Domhnaill was in their custody. They were glad of his coming, and it was not at all through love of him, and they summoned him to them without delay that he might be face to face with them, and they proceeded to converse with him and ask information of him, and in a special way they observed and searched into his natural qualities. In the end, however, they ordered him to be put in a strong stone castle where the noble descendants of the sons of Milesius were in chains and captivity expecting death and doom, together with some of the nobles of the Fingallians who had come to the island long before and had entered into amity and friendship with the Irish against the English, who came last from the


country of the Saxons to take the island from both of them. It was their solace and satisfaction day and night in the close prison where they were, to be lamenting over the insufferable hardships and relating the great cruelty which was inflicted on them both English and Irish, and hearing of the lying judgments pronounced and the wrongs and wicked deeds done against the high-born noble descendants of the sons of Milesius and of the Fingallians in general.

¶8] As for Aodh O Domhnaill, he was, just like the rest, a captive for the space of three years and three months, hearing of the ignoble bondage in which the Irish were. It was anguish and sickness of mind and great pain to him to be as he was, and it was not on his own account but because of the unfortunate straits in which his friends and kinsmen, his chieftains and leaders, his clerics and holy ecclesiastics, his poets and learned men, his subjects and whole people were, owing to their expulsion and banishment to other territories throughout Éire. He was always meditating and searching how to find a way of escape. This was no easy thing for him, for he was put each night into a well-secured apartment in the castle for security until the morning of the next day came. That castle was situated thus. There was a broad deep trench full of water all round it and a solid bridge of boards over it opposite the door of the castle, and a grim-visaged party of the English outside and inside the gate to guard it, so that no one should pass them, in or out without permission from the foreign warders. However, there is no watch of which advantage may not be taken at last. One time, just at the end of winter, when Aodh was with a number of his companions, in the very beginning of the night, before they were put into the well-secured cells in which they used to be every night, they succeeded in bringing a very long rope to the window in front of them, and they let themselves down by the ropes until they alighted on the bridge outside the door of the castle. There was a very strong iron ring on the door to draw it out to oneself when desirable. They put a bar of solid wood a fist thick through the ring, so that no one should


come in haste out of the castle to pursue them. There was a young man of Aodh's own people awaiting their escape, and he met them after coming out. He had two well-tempered swords under his cloak, and these he placed in Aodh's hands. Aodh gave one of these swords to a certain famous hero of the Lagenians, of the race of Cathaoir Mór, son of Feilimid Firurglas, named Art Caomhánach. He was a champion in battle and a leader in conflict. He then covered the flight of the youths through the streets and roads of the town. As for the guards, they did not perceive the escape for some time; and when they perceived that the youths had got off, they went at once to the gate of the castle as fast as they could, for they thought they would catch them instantly. When they came to the gate, it was impossible for them to open it or to draw the gate in; so they set to call to them the people who happened to be in the houses opposite the gate on the other side of the street. After coming at their call, these took out the bar which was through the ring and they raised up the gate for the people of the castle. A great crowd of the city people went in pursuit of the youths who had escaped from them. This was not easy, for these were outside the walls of the town before they were noticed, as the gates of the royal city were wide open then. They went towards them and leaped over fences and enclosures and walls outside the town until they stopped at the slope of the mountain opposite them due south. This mountain is long and very wide; it was the boundary between the Irish of the province of Leinster and the English of Dublin. Its roads and ways were numerous, but fear did not allow them to go by the usual roads. Moreover, they did not delay on their way till they crossed Sliav Rua before that morning, though fatigued by the journey and travelling all the night. As they were tired and weary, they cut into a dense wood which happened to be on their way, and they remained in it till early dawn. They prepared to go on after that, for they did not think it safe to remain in the wood, owing to the fear and great dread of being sought after and looked for by their enemies.


¶9] His flight was not a cloak before a shower for Aodh O Domhnaill, for he could not go on with his companions from whence he was, because his white-skinned, tender feet were severely wounded and pierced by the furze and thick briars, and the roughness and intricacy of the mountain over which he had come, as his shoes had fallen off his feet owing to the loosening of the seams and ties from the wet which they had not met with up to that time. It was a great sorrow and affliction to his companions that they had not him with them farther, and as they could do nothing for him, they took leave of him and left him their blessing. Wherefore he resolved after a while, when he was left with a small party, to send one of his people to a certain nobleman of the free-born tribes of the province of Leinster, who happened to be in a castle in the neighbourhood, to see if he could obtain refuge or protection from him; Feilim O Tuathail was his name. He was a friend of Aodh before this time (as he thought) for he had once gone to visit him when he was in prison in Dublin, and they formed a friendship with each other, whenever either of them should seek the other's aid, so that it was fitting he should go for protection to Feilim on account of that friendship which they had contracted. The messenger went off to the place where Feilim was and told him the business on which he had come. He was rejoiced at his coming, and promised to aid Aodh in every thing which would be best for their protection. However, neither his friends nor his relatives allowed him to conceal or hide him through fear of the power of the English revenging it on him. It became known to them afterwards that he was in the wood, as we have said, and every one who heard it went to look for him, and they set off with their followers on his track. As it was certain to Feilim and to his relatives that any one else might find him, they resolved to take him themselves and bring him back to the city to the Council. That was done. When he came to Dublin the Council were delighted thereat, and they made little or no account of all the hostages and pledges who escaped from them, and they were thankful for the good fortune which restored


him to them again. Though great their cruelty and enmity to him the first time, they were greater the second time on account of his escape from them, and iron gyves were put on him as tight as they could be, and they put him in the same prison, and they watched and guarded him the best way they could. His escape in this way was heard of universally throughout the land of Éire, and his recapture. There came a great gloom over the Irish, and the courage of their soldiers, and the minds of their champions, and the hearts of their heroes were weakened at hearing that news. There were many princesses and great ladies and noble white-breasted maidens sorrowing and lamenting on his account. There were many high-born nobles clapping their hands and weeping in secret for him, and it did not less affect the people with whom he was on terms of friendship and intimacy, than those who had done him evil and shown him enmity. And with good reason on their part, for the multitude expected that through him relief would come to them from the bondage and the very great slavery in which the English held them.

¶10] He was in this way in the same prison throughout the year to the following January to Twelfth Night in the year 1592. When it seemed to the Son of the Virgin full time that he should escape, he and some of his companions took advantage of the guards in the very beginning of the night before they were taken to the refectory, and they took off their fetters. They went after that to the privy, having a long rope, and they let themselves down by means of the rope through the privy till they came to the deep trench which was around the castle. After that they climbed to the opposite bank, till they were on the edge of the trench at the other side. The hostages who escaped with Aodh were Enri and Art, the two sons of Seáan, son of Conn Bacach, son of Conn, son of Enri, son of Eóghan. There was a certain faithful servant who visited them in the castle as a horseboy, to whom they imparted their secret, so that he met them face to face when they wanted him to be their guide. They went off after that through the crowded


streets, in front of the castle, without being known or overheard by any one, for they were not noticed except like every one else of the city people, as they did not stop to converse with or visit any one whatever in the houses of the city at that time, for it was the beginning of the night exactly and the gates of the city were not yet closed. They went out through the city in that manner. They leaped over the roughness and impediment of the thick rampart and of the strong, huge palisade which was outside the city, until they came to the slopes of Sliav Rua, where Aodh had come before, the first time he escaped. The darkness of the night and the hurry of the flight separated him who was the oldest of the party from them. This was Enri O Néill. Aodh was the youngest of the nobles. They were not pleased at the separation. They went away, however, their attendant leading the way. The night came on with a drizzle and a violent downpour of rain and slippery slime of snow, so that it was not easy for the high-born nobles to walk on account of the inclement weather and the want of clothing, for they had no outer garments, having left them in the privy through which they had come.

¶11] The hurried journey, strange and unusual, was more severe on Art than on Aodh, and his gait was feeble and slow, for he was corpulent, thick-thighed, and he had been a long time closely confined in the prison. It was not so with Aodh, for he had not passed the period of boyhood, and he had not ceased to grow and develop that time, and he was active and light on that account, and his gait was quick and nimble. When he perceived Art growing weak and his step heavy, what he did to him was to place one hand of his on his own shoulder and the other hand on the shoulder of the servant. They went on in this way across the upper part of the plain of the mountain. They were tired and weary after that, and they could not bring Art further with them, and as they could not, they went under the shelter of a lofty cliff in the high moorland which was in front of them. After stopping there they sent their servant away with the news to Glenmalure, the place where Fiach Mac Aodha


was. This was a secure, impregnable valley, and the English of Dublin were accustomed with their instruments of battle to besiege and assault it in order to plunder and lay it waste. This Fiach maintained it valiantly against them, so that many heads were left behind with him, and they could do nothing against him; but though their attacks were many and various, and though great were their seizures of battle, he was not submissive to them as long as he lived. Every hostage and every prisoner who escaped from them did not go past him, but towards him, and the first place he would head for was Glenmalure, the place where Fiach was, as we have said, for it was his home fort. So, too, the hostages aforesaid directed themselves to him, and sent their servant on ahead. When he came where Fiach was he told his story to him and the state in which he left the youths who had escaped from the city, and that they would not be overtaken alive if he did not go to their assistance immediately.

¶12] Thereupon Fiach selected a party of his people, of those trusted by him, and he bade them go with the servant to the youths. They rose up at once as they were ordered, and went off with one having food and another ale and beer, until they came to the mountain, the place where the men had been left. Alas! truly the heroes who had come to seek for them did not find the state and position of these nobles happy or comfortable. They had neither cloaks nor plaids, nor clothing for protection on their bodies, to save them from the cold and frost of the sharp winter season, but the bed-clothes about their fair skins and the pillows under their heads were high white-bordered beds of frozen hail congealing all round them, and attaching their light tunics and threadbare shirts to their bodies, and their long shoes and their fastenings to their legs and feet, so that they seemed to the men that had come not to be human beings at all, but sods of earth of like size covered up by the snow, because they did not perceive motion in their limbs, no more than if they were dead, and they were nearly so. Wherefore the heroes raised them from where they lay and bade them take


some of the food and of the ale, but they did not succeed, for every drink they took they vomited it forth again. However, Art died at last and was buried in that place. As for Aodh, he kept down the beer after that, and his strength was on the increase after drinking, except in his two feet, for they were like dead members without feeling owing to the swelling and blistering from the frost and snow. The men carried him to the valley of which we have spoken. He was put into a house hidden in a remote part of the thick wood. He had medical skill and care in every way that was fitting until the arrival of a messenger in secret to inquire and get news about him from his brother-in-law Aodh O Néill. He proposed to set off after the messenger had come to him. It was painful to him to go on that journey, for the physicians could not heal his feet all at once after being pierced by the frost as we have said, and some one else was needed to put him on horseback and to take him between his two hands again whenever he alighted. He was so until the physicians cut off his two great toes after a while when he came to his own country. Fiach sent a troop of horse with him in the night to escort him across the river Liffey, i.e. a river on the confines of the province of Leinster and of Meath. There were ambuscades and watches from the English of Dublin on the shallow fords of the river and on the usual roads since they heard that Aodh O Domhnaill was in Glenmalure, that he might not escape by them to the province of Ulster, and that the prisoners too might not escape who had fled with him out of the castle; so that it was necessary for the youths for that reason to go very near the city, over a difficult and deep ford which was on the river, and they came without being perceived or overheard by the English till they were at the rere of the castle in the very beginning of the night. The people by whom he had been abandoned formerly after his first escape were among the troop, i.e. Feilim O Tuathail with his brother, who had come to escort and protect him like the others, to establish and cement their friendship and amity with him. This friendship lasts still, and will last to end of time between the


race of Conall, son of Niall, and the race of Cathaoir Mór, son of Feilimid Firurglas. They bade farewell and gave their blessing to one another after binding their friendship in that way.

¶13] As to Aodh O Domhnaill, after they had gone away from him he was left with only the one youth, i.e. Turloch Buidhe O Hagan, who had gone in search of him to the famous valley. He was one of Aodh O Néill's own people, and he spoke the language of the foreigners, and knew them and was acquainted with them, for he was in attendance on the Earl O Néill whenever he came on business to the city of Dublin. Aodh O Néill had many friends too among the English themselves, for he gave them large presents and stipends of gold and silver for supporting him and speaking on his behalf in the Council. For these reasons the young man was bold and was not afraid to go by the usual roads of the English. Aodh O Domhnaill and he went away after that on two fine fleet horses by the straight-lined roads and the muddy ways of ancient Meath, so that they were on the bank of the Boyne before morning, a short distance to the west of Inver Colpa. A fine city had been built by the foreigners some time before at Inver Colpa on the river and a bridge over it moreover. Drogheda was the name given to that town, and the usual road for the English and the Irish to take was through the town. But yet fear did not allow them to go through it, so that what they did was to go to the bank of the river of which we have spoken, where there was a poor miserable fisherman who had a small ferryboat for transport. They went into the curach, and the ferryman left them on the opposite bank after generous payment was given him. His mind was happy on account of the sum of money he had received, and was greatly surprised, for he had never received a like amount before from any person to whom he had given his curach. The same man went with the horses through the city and he gave them up to them at the other side of the river.

¶14] They mounted on their horses and proceeded after that on their journey until they were two miles from the river. They saw a bushy, dense grove in front of them on the road


they came and a huge rampart all round it, as if it was a herb-garden. There was a fine mansion (called Mainister Mhór) belonging to an illustrious youth of the English by the side of the grove. He was much attached to Aodh O Néill. They alighted at that same rampart and went in however, for his companion knew that place well. They unsaddled their horses and made a halt there. He went into the house and was entertained there, for he was well known there especially more than in other places. He procured a hidden apartment for Aodh and took him with him, where he was waited on and entertained after a while as well as he desired.

¶15] As they thought this place where they were was very secure they remained there till the night of the next day. They set out after that on their own horses in the dark at the beginning of the night over Sliav Breagh and through Machaire Conaill until they came to Traigh Baile mic Buain before morning. A city was built here on the edge of the shore by the foreign race of whom we have spoken, between Dun Dalgan and the sea. As the gates of the town were open in the early morning they resolved to go through it without halt or delay. They went on their way after that on horseback without being noticed, and so they passed through the town and no one recognised them until they were on the other side. The reason why it was necessary for them to go through the city rather than by another road was because there were watches and ambuscades set by the English on the boundary in every remarkable pass on each path and each road by which they thought Aodh O Domhnaill would come to them, as there were on the river Liffey, and they thought that fear would not allow him to go through the city at all. When they had gone through the streets of the city, they were glad and delighted at having escaped from every danger which was before them, for they feared nothing when they had come to that place, since the country to the north of the city was under the sway of Aodh O Néill. They went on to Fiodh Mór that night to get rid of their fatigue, and they were safe while there though they were very close to the English. Turloch


Mac Enri, son of Feilim Ruadh, who dwelt there, was his friend and foster-brother; he was of the nobles of the Cenél Eóghain, and he and the Earl O Néill had the same mother. They were entertained with much respect that night, and they went on next day though Sliav Fuaid till they came northwards to Armagh. They remained there that night concealed. The next day they went on to Dungannon where Aodh O Néill was. He was glad of the coming of his guest, and he brought him without delay to a private chamber secretly without being perceived by any one in the castle except by some of his trusty people who tended and entertained him, because Aodh O Néill was submissive to the English of Dublin at that time, and he did not wish to transgress their commands except secretly.

¶16] As for Aodh O Domhnaill, after getting rid of the fatigue of his journey and hardship in the castle for the space of four days and four nights, he prepared to depart and he took leave of Aodh O Néill and gave him his blessing. A troop of horsemen went with him to protect him from robbers and kernes until he came to the district of Loch Erne. The lord of that territory, called Aodh Maguidhir, was his friend and a relative by the mother's side. He was rejoiced at his coming, and he proceeded to entertain him splendidly. A vessel was brought to him well built, black-polished and he went into it and took his leave of Maguidhir. They rowed away then as far as the narrow neck which was at the loch of which we have already spoken, the place whence issues the famous river abounding in salmon which is called the Erne. That territory was part of his own patrimony. Some of his own loyal and faithful people came and they brought fine fleet horses to meet him there, and from that they went to Bellashanny. There was a very strongly fortified castle on the bank of the ford, built formerly by the ancestor of Aodh (Niall Garbh, son of Turloch of the Wine, in the year 1423). The castle was a noble dwelling and a princely residence of his family, and of his father especially, for he was the chief of the territory then. He had left some of his own


people to guard the castle, and the men were glad that the heir of the chief had come, and they let him in.

¶17] He rested there for the present until the country assembled (every one who was in his neighbourhood) where he was. This, indeed, was not easy, for the country was in the course of being plundered and robbed by the English and by the Irish, and there had sprung up fierce disputes and discords among themselves, so that they were not submissive to their prince as they should be, for he was an aged man then, and he was not able to unite his people or to secure their hostages or pledges since he (Aodh) had been captured, and moreover age lay heavy on him before he was still old. When the English of Dublin saw the territory in this condition they gave order to the troops which were away in the province of Connacht that a certain number of them should go to Tír Conaiill. The captains of the people who were appointed to go there were Captain Willis and Captain Conell. They marched away with two hundred soldiers over the Duff, the Drowes, and Assaroe, and they did not stop on their way till they came to Donegal on the shore of the Esk. O Domhnaill was in the town with a small body of troops and they could not harm him. There was a fair monastery with a conical-capped tower near the castle to the west on the edge of the strand and it was O Domhnaill who had given it to the Order of St. Francis long before, in the year 1474. Its religious and servants of God had gone away at that time to fly from and avoid the English. The English dwelt in the monastery, and they made booths and tents of the holy retired dwellings and of the cells of jointed boards of the servants of God and sons of life. They made subject to them the part of the country from Bearnas Mór to Loch Erne and to the Glen of Colum Cille son of Feilimid, and it was necessary to give pledges and hostages to them, for the Irish had great terror and dread at that time of the English troops and of the soldiers of London (though they had only a few of them) on account of the strangeness of their weapons and appearance and the novelty of their armour and speech


and the loud noise of their trumpets and tabours and war music, together with the horror and peculiarity of their warriors and their strange arms for the Irish had no knowledge of them before this. A castle, on the serrated edge of the harbour, two miles to the west of Donegal, was taken by the small force of which we have spoken. The place belonged to O Boyle, chosen leader of the race of Conall Gulban. Since these same English had a secure position there and the hostages of the country were in their power, they used to go through the country commonly in companies and in bands of twos and threes to carry off food and provisions for themselves, and they did not hesitate to take with them their heavy cattle and long-fleeced sheep at all times. They proceeded to call additional troops and hosts to them to go beyond Bearnas Mór in order to oppress and plunder the territory and everywhere to rob them of their herds and flocks and to reduce them to slavery and great misery in the end. But yet as the destruction and evil deeds which the English practised on the people of the country in their own dear native land were not pleasing to God, he brought the prophesied child of mighty deeds (Aodh Ruadh, son of Aodh, son of Maghnus) to the tribe of Conall son of Niall, for their relief and succour, to protect and free them from the merciless foreign tribe, as Moses, the son of Amram, came to the aid of the people of God to free them from the Egyptian bondage.

¶18] When the English learned the report of which we have spoken, it was then told to them that the Ruadh who had escaped was come to the country, a quaking fear and great terror seized on them, and they resolved in consequence to leave the country if they could, and better for them had they never come into it. As for Aodh O Domhnaill, he summoned the country to him, and he did not wait for them then (because he heard of the spoiling and profanation of the monastery), but he came to Donegal face to face with the English. However, the country did not keep him long without coming to his call (such as were friendly to him) in companies and in bands as speedily as they


could. Thereupon, he sent his messenger to the English to tell them not to abide or delay any longer in the church, and that they would not be prevented from going away by whatever road they pleased, but only they should leave behind them whatever cattle and captives, herds and flocks they had, and the riches and plunder of the country in like manner. They left them behind immediately as they were ordered, and they were thankful to get away with their lives, and they returned to the province of Connacht whence they had come. After their departure in the month of February, the brethren returned to the monastery and set about cleansing and renovating it after the foreign troops, and saying the divine office and the Mass, as was their custom, and praising the Lord, praying and petitioning Him by turns on behalf of their friends, and of their benefactors, and especially on behalf of Aodh O Domhnaill for it was he that brought them back to their abode of psalmody, to their pleasant hospitable dwelling, and drove away the savage foreigners from them.

¶19] As for Aodh O Domhnaill, he returned to Ballyshannon again and remained there and physicians were brought to him to examine his feet, but they could not cure him until his two great toes were cut off in the end, and he was not quite recovered for a whole year. However, he did not omit during that time to do whatever was necessary to unite the people, to reform and slay thieves, and to avenge his wrongs on his enemies. He was on his sick-bed, as we have said, from February to April. When he saw the great cold of the spring season departing and the summer weather approaching, it seemed to him a long time to be on his sick-bed without leaving the place where he was, for his physicians did not permit him, and what he did, contrary to their prohibition, was to send messengers to the Cenél Conaill (to such of them as were obedient to his parents), and to assemble and collect them to the east side of the well-known mountain, i.e. Bearnas Mor of Tir Aodh. He resolved at last to go himself to meet them, and those that were to the west of the mountain which we have mentioned assembled to him.


O Boyle came, Tadhg Óg, son of Tadhg, son of Turloch, a chosen leader of the Cenél Conaill; Mac Suibhne of Tir Boghaine came, Donough, son of Maelmuire Meirgeach, son of Maelmuire, son of Niall. He was the third man who was in command of the mercenaries of the King of Uí Conaill, Mac Suibhne Fanad and Mac Suibhne na dTuath being the two others. Those to the east of the mountain who came to the same gathering were O Domhnaill, his own father, Aodh, son of Maghnus, son of Aodh Óg, son of Aodh Ruadh, with his wife, i.e. Inghen Dubh, daughter of James, son of Alexander, son of Eoin Cathanach, mother of Aodh; the daughter of Mac Cailin was her mother. It was an advantage that she came to the gathering, for she was the head of advice and counsel of the Cenél Conaill, and though she was calm and very deliberate and much praised for her womanly qualities, she had the heart of a hero and the mind of a soldier, inasmuch as she exhorted in every way each one that she was acquainted with, and her husband especially to avenge his injuries and wrongs on each according to his deserts. She had many troops from Scotland, and some of the Irish at her disposal and under her control, and in her own hire and pay constantly, and especially during the time that her son (the Ruadh) was in prison and confined by the English. There came to the same meeting Mac Suibhne na dTuath, Eóghan Óg, son of Eóghan Óg, son of Eóghan Mór, son of Domhnall, and Mac Suibhne Fanad, Domhnall, son of Turloch, son of Ruaidhri. The precise place where the nobles of both places came together was at Kilmacrenan, in the middle of the cantred of the Cenél Lughaidh, on the north of the Leannan, the place where Colum Cille, son of Feilimidh, son of Fergus, the renowned saint of Cenél Conaill was fostered, and it was by him the church was first established, and in it O Domhnaill was inaugurated in the chieftaincy of his territory, and it was the erenach of the same church that inaugurated him; and it was through honour and reverence for St. Colum that this was done there by the Cenél Conaill. There were also innumerable bodies


of the Cenél Conaill who did not come there on that occasion. Of these was Aodh, son of Aodh Óg, son of Aodh Ruadh. Of these were the descendants of Calvach, son of Maghnus, son of Aodh Óg. Among those was also a large number of the dispossessed Clann Suibhne, who, having been banished from their territory long before, dwelt then on the margin of Loch Foyle, and they were the leaders in battle and smiters in fight for Calvach O Domhnaill and of his posterity successively. Sean Óg O Doherty, chieftain of the cantred of Inis Eóghain, son of Niall, did not come there because this cantred was the portion given to Eóghan from Conall as his share in the division, and it had fallen back to the Cenél Conaill again. There was a large number of Muinter Gallacher, who, like others, did not come there, through spite and malice. When this small body of forces had been brought together the chiefs and the nobles drew aside to a place apart, and they proceeded to take counsel, and to inquire and forecast how they might attack their enemies and bring under their obedience once more all of the Cenél Conaill itself who had set up opposing interests and disunion. Thereupon it was agreed on by the nobles and by O Domhnaill himself (since he was aware of his feebleness and advanced age), to transfer his chieftaincy to his son, i.e. Aodh Ruadh and to proclaim him O Domhnaill. All unanimously applauded that resolution, and it was done accordingly. The erenach, named O Friel, was sent for. He inaugurated Aodh Ruadh in the headship of the territory by the order and with the blessing of his father, and he performed the ceremony of naming him in the legal way that was the custom of his nation hitherto, and he called him O Domhnaill. The clergy of the church proceeded to supplicate the Lord on his behalf, and to sing psalms and hymns in honour of Christ and of Colum of whom we spoke, for the success of his sovereignty, as was usual with them. It was the third day of the month of May exactly that his title of Prince was conferred on him in that wise. in margin 1592