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

section 10

The Ninth Year, 1600

¶126] During the time he was resting, a very large army was collected by Aodh O Néill to go on an expedition to Munster. Aodh Maguidhir happened to be in that hosting. Their adventures are not told of until they arrived beyond Cork and the Lee southwards and encamped between the Lee and the Bandon river, on the confines of Muskerry and Carbery. One day, a little before St. Patrick's day, a desire and longing seized on Maguidhir to go and invade the neighbouring country, as was always his custom when he came to strange districts. A body of horse and foot departed from the camp, and they did not stop until they came to the gate of Cork, then to Rincorran, a castle of Barry Óg, in Kinelea. They turned back the same day with much prey and booty, but Maguidhir's people could not reach the camp that night, owing to the amount of their booty, hence it was necessary for them to remain in whatever place the darkness of night came on them. However, Maguidhir determined to reach the camp that night somehow.

¶127] On the morning of the day that Maguidhir had left O Néill's camp news came to Cork to Sir Warham St. Leger (he was then President of the two provinces of Munster), that Maguidhir had left the camp as he had, and the direction he had gone. In no leisurely way was the news responded to by Sir Warham, for he set out immediately with a sour-faced, active troop of lively, courageous, evil minded cavalry, and they settled and placed themselves as a line of concealed watches in a safe chosen place where they were certain that Maguidhir would come to them. While they were there they saw Aodh coming towards them with only a few horsemen as they desired. He made no attempt to avoid them, although those who had come to oppose him were clearly visible in front


of him, but he attacked them swiftly, fiercely, as a wolf does sheep or a lion bears. So it happened to him and Warham, and they proceeded to wound each other with their stout-rivetted, tough-thonged, sharp-angled darts so that they pierced each other with sore, heavy wounds, until at last Sir Warham St. Leger was slain by Maguidhir, as it was his fixed custom up to that to gain victory over his enemies wherever they fell in with him. Five other leaders and nobles also fell by his single hand, besides common soldiers and people of low degree. However, the many prevailed over the few in the end, and Maguidhir had to quit the place of battle, for he was pierced quite through, owing to the dropping and flowing of his blood in red pools from out his wounds, after the failing of strength and vigour and the exhaustion of his activity and dexterity of hand. He did not go far after that when he could not bear but to dismount from his horse through swooning and weakness, and he lay propped on his elbow on the sod of illness. The shadows of doom and the darkness of death came on the hero after that, so that he died very soon, March 13th.

¶128] The loss of the nobleman who died then was a cause of lamentation throughout the whole of Ulster, and he deserved to be praised particularly to the assemblies of the world. He was pleasant, stately, free-spoken; he was generous, hospitable, profuse, mild, kindly to his friends, stern and agressive to his enemies; a man who never retreated one step before few or many of his enemies since he took up warlike arms to that day, a man who did not go away from the place of fight or battle without wounding or killing some one, a man that killed and defeated many parties both of gentle and simple of the foreign race with whom he contested and fought to protect his faith and native land until he fell by them then. On the morrow, after the news had come to them, his own people and O Néill's found the body of the hero, and he was buried by them at Cork afterwards with great respect and honour, as was fitting.


¶129] O Néill returned home, and 'twere better for himself and for the province of Ulster also not to have gone on that expedition, even because of the death of that one man who parted from them then. Strife and bitter enmity arose in the following summer in Fermanagh between Conor Ruadh, son of Conor Maguidhir, and the brother of Maguidhir whose death we have narrated, Cúchonnacht Óg, son of Cúchonnacht, son of Cúchonnacht, about the chieftainship of the territory. Conor had a right to the dignity and headship of Fermanagh on account of his age and seniority even before Aodh Maguidhir himself who fell as we have told, and when it seemed to Conor (as he thought) that there would be no opposition as regards the chieftaincy after the death of Cúchonnacht, father of Aodh, the title of chief was conferred on Aodh by Domhnall, son of Aodh, son of Maghnus O Domhnaill, rigdamna of Cenél Conaill, long before that time. The aforesaid Conor Ruadh was full sure that the chieftaincy would now be his by right of his ancestry, his age, his dignity, his friendship, and his relationship to O Néill, whose cousin he was on his mother's side, as the mothers of both were sisters, and this was the same purpose of mind and thought which O Néill himself had and his advisers also. He went to O Néill to ask command of his patrimony. Cúchonnacht Óg comes for the same purpose to where O Domhnaill was to complain of his powerlessness.

¶130] When Conor came where O Néill was, he sent letters and messengers inviting O Domhnaill to allow him to inaugurate Conor Maguidhir in the chieftaincy, for he was afraid to rouse the anger and wrath of the powerful war-dog against him if he did not grant his request, and appointed Cúchonnacht Óg or any one else of his tribe to the chieftaincy of the territory of Fermanagh over-riding his prohibition. When the messengers came where O Domhnaill was he did not delay their affairs, but he went with a body of horse and foot of the choicest of his people together with his brother Rury and Cúchonnacht Óg, and they did not halt until they came to the place where O Néill was with his nobles round him taking


counsel on the same problem. When he dismounted at the lawn of the castle (Dungannon) he ordered his attendants to remain in one close group turned aside from them. O Néill sent his people and his trusty men to entertain the prince who had come, and to invite him to make known to him his opinion, to see if he could succeed in coaxing him by fair words to one opinion with himself. He comes immediately, and they were merry and good humoured together. When O Domhnaill was seated in the company of O Néill, he begins to debate and explain to O Domhnaill the question and the problem as well as he could, bringing to notice every reason that was in his mind why it was fitting to give to Conor Maguidhir the title of chief. After listening for some time in silence to the statements of the Prince O Néill, he said at last that it was not his wish at all to appoint Conor to the chieftaincy, for he was on the side and of the party of the English of Dublin and the foreign race who were by nature opposed to the Irish of the province, and he would have no confidence in his loyalty so long as he lived. O Néill's mind was not pleased with the answer O Domhnaill gave him, for he knew it was not easy to oppose or contradict him in any problem he set hand to.

¶131] The princes proceeded to feast, to toast one another and to make merry after that. The banquet-hall was arranged according to their dignity, O Domhnaill face to face with O Néill, and Conor Maguidhir next him, and the chief men in their due order also. The butlers proceed to attend and serve them afterwards. Meantime, when O Néill took the goblet with wine in his hand, he drank a draught to O Domhnaill. O Domhnaill takes the cup from the butler's hand, and looked around. He gave a quick glance of his keen eye through the hall all round and did not see Cuchonnacht Óg in the house; and as he did not see him he ordered him to be called to him immediately. This was done for him, and when he came he bade him sit by the side of his brother Rury in the central section of the palace in the midst of his people. When Cúchonnacht was seated, he then drank the cup and raised


it in his hand for a space over him, and called him by the title of Maguidhir in presence of the chief men of the province generally, without leave or advice of anyone who would think ill that he should be appointed in the place of his brother and his father before him. They passed that night some of them merrily and pleasantly and others with gloom of mind and regret in consequence of the appointment we have mentioned. When the day shone out with full light on the morrow, O Domhnaill takes leave of O Néill and his chief men also, and he and Maguidhir with their people come to their homes glad and in high spirits thereafter.

¶132] When the Council of Dublin saw that they could not defend the province of Connacht against O Domhnaill, after the defeat in the battle of Bealach Buidhe and the slaying of the Governor as we have told, and after he had invaded the territories to the north of Limerick and Aughty whenever he wished, and as the Earls who ruled over these districts complained of their grievances to the Council, they came to the resolution, in order to keep O Domhnaill in his own territory, by the advice of the said Earls, to launch an expedition of a large fleet of ships, in which were six thousand men, armed and equipped with the necessary supplies of food and weapons. By the Queen of England and the Council also it was planned to send this fleet to Ireland on Patrick's Day exactly, when Lord Mountjoy was appointed Lord Deputy over Ireland. When the above mentioned ships reached Dublin from England in the month of April, they were sent away after a while, and they sailed, keeping the coast of Ireland on the port hand, to the north-east by the shores of the territory of Brega and Meath to the east of the Third of Congal Cláireneach, son of Rury, till they came step by step led by one ship, to the Loch of Feabal, son of Lodan, and they came to port in Inis Eóghain Mic Néill, which had fallen to Cenél Conaill in olden-time and was subject to them then. On the 10th of May they arrived. O Dochartaigh was the chieftain who ruled over the island, subject to O Domhnaill always, and the name of its chieftain at that


time was Seaán Óg, son of Seaán, son of Feilim O Dochartaigh. He was a pillar of courage in battle, and 'twere no clear freehold of land for anyone who would attack his country, if he were granted fair play and equal forces. There was a small castle which O Dochartaigh thought little of on the shore of the Loch in the narrow part of the harbour, i.e. Cúl Mór. It was deserted then, for it was not safe to hold against enemies. The English stopped there, and built a strong, very secure wall round the castle, and left in it some of their forces.

¶133] Another body of them went and settled in Dún na Long, in O Catháin's country. The greater number remaining went on to famous Derry, which Colum the gentle, the servant of God, (Criomhthann, son of Feilim, son of Fergus, son of Conall), blessed. The English made very large fences and strong ramparts of earth round the monastery and stone church first. They make passages and excavations of earth under the walls and war-towers upon them with windows and loopholes in them for shooting from. They dug deep trenches all round on the outside. They were much stronger and more secure than the courts of lime bound stone and the castles, in the making of which much time and great labour were spent. Then they tore down the monastery and the church, and they showed neither honour nor respect to the true Saint, for they destroyed all the ecclesiastical edifices in the town, and made rooms and sleeping apartments of them, and used some of them to eat in. Henry Docwra was the name of their commander. He was a famous knight, prudent and skilful, with profundity of knowledge. He was a spear-head of battle and fight.

¶134] The English were there for a long time and fear of O Domhnaill did not let them go outside the walls, save for a short distance and there used to be large bodies of them standing to arms every night lest an attack might be made on them, so that they were filled with distemper and diseases, owing to the narrowness of the place in which they were, and the sultriness and heat of the summer weather. Very many of them died in the end before the diseases left them. When


O Domhnaill perceived that they were in that condition and that they were unaccustomed to go outside the camp through fear and apprehension, he reflected with himself how he might bring contempt and reproach on them, and he made little or no account of them, in order that they would retire and leave the camp in which they were. Wherefore the plan which he adopted in order to show his contempt was to go on an expedition to the southern part of the province of Connacht, to invade the districts on both sides of Sliav Aughty, and especially Thomond. And twas right too. For the Earls of whom we have spoken, whose patrimony these were (as we have said) had recommended the Council and the Queen that the great force should set out and come to them to keep and retain him within his own territory, and they had told and informed the Queen and the English Council that it was a passage and a way of invasion between Cenél Conaill and Cenél Eóghain for the above mentioned fleet to come to Loch Foyle.

¶135] O Domhnaill decided on this plan of going to wreak his enmity on the Earls of whom we have spoken, and he left the chief of the Island, O Dochartaigh himself, to confront the foreigners on guard lest they might come to invade the territory. He left Niall Garv O Domhnaill and some of his forces blockading them on the island to the west between them and the cantred of Enna, son of Niall. He sent his messengers before him to the Irish of the province of Connacht to order them to meet him at Ballymote. All the Connachtmen came, from the Suck to the Drowes and from the west of Tír Awley to Bréifne O Reilly, and they were awaiting him in the town where he had trysted with them. These were the most notable who came to that muster. O Ruairc came with the people of Bréifne in Connacht, namely Brian Óg, whose father was that Brian who was done to death in London. O Conor Sligo came there, Donncha, son of Cathal Óg, with the people north of Corrshliav as far as the sea beyond, and Mac Diarmada of Magh Luirg, Aodh, son of Tadhg, with the race of Maelruana. O Conor


Ruadh came, Aodh, son of Turloch Ruadh, son of Tadhg Buidhe, son of Cathal Ruadh. Their fear did not allow the nobles who were situated near the English to come to that muster, for they had to stay and defend their territory, lest the English might lay waste their patrimony in their absence. There came also Mac William Burke, Tibbot, son of Walter Ciotach, and though he was not of the Irish, it was the duty of the man who held that post to come, for his ancestors and the family he belonged to were always under tribute to Cenél Conaill Mic Néill from the time the Burkes seized the land of Amhalgadh, son of Fiachra. Twas proper for them though they used to pay their tribute to O Domhnaill, and it need not cause surprise for Amhalgadh, son of Fiachra, was a kinsman of Conall, son of Niall, and his foster-brother besides, for it was Fiachra, son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhoin, who fostered Conall.

¶136] His troops were gathered together by O Domhnaill in the month of June precisely, and they crossed the Saimer, a stream rich in salmon, the Drowes, the Dubh, and the Sligeach, until they came to Ballymote, where the men of Connacht awaited him. After a while he marched with his forces by Corann, through Magh Aoi Findbendaigh, through Clann Chonnmhaigh, through the territory of Maine, son of Eochaidh, and through the plain of Clanrickard, without fight or conflict, without wounding or being meddled with during that time. He made a halt in western Clanrickard in Oirecht Réamoinn on the evening of Saturday, and this was the Saturday before St. John's day, which was on the following Tuesday. Warning and report went before him to Thomond, but they thought O Domhnaill would not leave the place where he had stopped until Monday morning. This was not what he did at all, but he rose before the early dawn of the morning of Sunday, and after hearing Mass himself and the chiefs who were with him, he marched with his troops by Oirecht Réamoinn, by the mountain of Echtge, daughter of Urscothach, son of Tinne, to Cenél Aodha, to Cenél


Dúnghaile, and by upper Glancullen, until he crossed the Fergus westwards before midday on Sunday, so that they made a halt on the north-western side of Clonroad and Ennis. Ennis was burned and preyed entirely and made bare by the army all but the monastery, for O Domhnaill ordered protection and kindliness to be given to it in honour of the Lord. There it happened to the Earl of Thomond, Donncha, son of Conor, lord of Thomond, to be with a small force of not more than two hundred in number at Clonroad, a short distance to the west of Ennis, at the same time that O Domhnaill and his armies came into the country. When he heard the murmur of the great army and the shouts of the soldiers and the noise of the heavy troops and the loud report of the quick-firing from bright, sharp-sighted guns throughout his territory all about him, and the bright, wide-spread conflagrations which extended in every quarter and on every border all round, which he could not defend or protect, what he did was to march with a small body of troops secretly by the bank of the Fergus due west as securely as he could till he came to Clare. That town was one of his fortresses, and it was strong, impregnable, even if he had not the force he had defending it.

¶137] As for O Domhnaill, when he had reached Ennis, he sent skirmishers to cover the surrounding country. Far and wide, violently, aggressively, these quick active courageous bodies of men separated from each other, for they traversed and plundered before night from Craig Uí Chíordhubháin, in the lower part of the territory in the cantred of Islands, to Cathair Murcha in west Corco Baiscinn, to the gate of Cill Muire, and Cathair Ruis, and the plain of Uí Bracáin, to the gate of Baile Eóin Gabhainn in Corcomrua, and Boith Néill in Cenél Fermaic. There was many a 'time of plenty' for gentlemen, noblemen, and lords of territories with prey and cattle and every sort of spoil, in the hands of a company of four or five of O Domhnaill's people under the shelter of bush or thicket, rock or wood in Thomond that night, for


they had to stay wherever the darkness of nightfall overtook them.

¶138] O Domhnaill encamped that night on the bank of the Fergus to the west of Clonroad. This was a famous castle and princely lodging for him who was chief of the country. The army arose (on Monday exactly) calmly and firmly from their tents and huts, and proceeded to march by the road diagonally across Thomond in a north-easterly direction straight through the east of Uí Cormaic and the plain of Cenél Fermaic and the speckled-hilled Boirenn, till they came at sunset to the monastery of Corcomrua and to Carcair na cCleireach. Those of the forces who were unoccupied throughout the day were traversing and patrolling the lands around, so that they did not leave a habitation or dwelling worth talking about unburnt or undestroyed that day. The troops arose at dawn on Tuesday. They set out with their spoils and prey towards Carcair, and though their march was severe and their pace slow, owing to the enormous amount of cattle and plunder, they left the cleft stone passes of white Boirenn behind. When they came to the dwellings of the smooth plain of Maree, they rested at Cnoc an Ghearráin, between Cill Colgáin and Galway. They divided the spoil between them after that, so that each body had its own share of the enemy's cattle, flocks, and booty, and they proceeded the next day to guide and drive their portion of the prey along the roads of the ancient province of Sreng, son of Sengan. The journey they made on that day was not long, for they were tired after the great toil in coming through the narrow mouthed roads, of Boirenn; neither had they eaten or slept in comfort the night before, for they had thought the Earl of Thomond would come with all his forces in pursuit of them and on their track to attack them, on the winding defiles through which they were marching, though he did not come at all. They made their camp in the neighbourhood that night, since they had banished their fear. They made neither huts nor buildings, owing to the heat of the summer weather, but they lighted


bright, flaming fires, and their attendants and servers, their cooks and houseboys, their ostlers and their soldiers fell to butchering and killing, slaughtering and chopping the bones of the enemy's cattle to prepare their dinner for their chiefs and their nobles, till they consumed their feast and slept soundly, as they had cast aside their fear.

¶139] The army arose from their quiet stupor of sleep at the break of day and went on their road and journey. O Domhnaill allowed Mac William and the people and forces who had come from the western part of the province at his call to go to their homes. He set out himself due eastwards by the ordinary roads until he came before the end of the day to Conmaicne Cuile Tolaigh, in the middle of the province. He encamped there that night, and they halted there till the next day. O Domhnaill then ordered his people to send away to their homes their prey of cattle and sheep and the booty also, and to let the servants and unarmed people and the wounded and others of the army to go with them. They went off without delay as they were ordered. He allowed O Ruairc and his people to go home like the others.

¶140] O Domhnaill chose five hundred soldiers, with sixty horsemen of the choicest of his army, and ordered them to remain along with him, so they were resting and taking their ease in the camp till after mid-day. They marched away then and proceeded through the province south-eastwards vigorously, actively, quietly, silently, by day and by night, until they came to Loch Riach in the dawn of the early morning next day. This was the chief residence and princely abode of the Earl of Clanrickard. They sent out their skirmishers spread widely in every direction to ravage the territory. They gathered together all the herds and flocks that were near them and took them to one place, so that they had plenty to round up and drive away. They march on after a time through the province north-east until they camped on the border of the territory south of the Suck on Sunday night exactly. They stayed there until Monday morning. They went thereafter


across Ath Liag Finn on the Suck and through Magh nAoi, son of Allgubha, and reached the Seghais by eventide. That night they rested north of the river. The next day they marched over Corrshliav of the Seghais and through Corann to Ballymote; then the chiefs separated to their castles and houses with much spoil.

¶141] O Domhnaill gave rest to his soldiers and mercenaries from July to September, when he summoned them to him again to see whether he might not get a chance of attacking the English; for he heard that it was usual for the horses to go each day across the bridge which was opposite Derry northwards to graze on a grassy field which was on the other side, with a few cavalry to protect them. He was thereafter considering and reflecting how he could make a descent on the English to take their horses from them. This was the resolution he came to. He chose a large body of his soldiers and a troop of horse, so that the number of horse and foot was not less than six hundred. These he took with him secretly in the darkness of the night, and left them in ambush in the gorge of a steep cliff which was on the mountain slope opposite Derry to the north, a place whence the people of the town could be seen by them, and they could not be seen by any one. He placed a few of his cavalry in hidden places very near the town in ambush for the horses and their guards, so that the horses might not return whenever they would come to the field of grass of which we have spoken. They were there until dawn. They saw the horses cross the bridge towards them with their guard, as they were accustomed to do. O Domhnaill's horse rose up behind them, and made a vigorous onset on the guards. They wounded some of them; others of them escaped owing to the fleetness and speed of their galloping. O Domhnaill's men proceeded to drive off the horses of the English under their control.

¶142] O Domhnaill comes to their aid with the force which remained with him, and they drove the horses before them. O Domhnaill commanded a squadron of his cavalry to go


with the horses as fast as they could, and not wait for him at all. This was done. O Domhnaill remained behind, and those he had chosen of his cavalry with him, and his foot soldiers also. When the English saw that their horses had been taken away from them, they rose up quickly to capture them, and took up their arms and set off in pursuit of O Domhnaill. The general Henry Docwra leaped on his horse, and the horsemen too, such as had horses and kept them in safe places and had not been separated from them. They set off in pursuit as fast as they could. When O Domhnaill saw the cavalry of the English in full speed after him, he stopped behind his foot with a body of horse by him, until the English horse came up with them. They made a quick, bold attack on O Domhnaill for the sake of their animals and to maintain their honour both. O Domhnaill met them valiantly and resolutely in the skirmish, and a fierce battle was waged between them on both sides, so that the horsemen of both were mixed with one another, and they set to slash and shoot each other vigorously. Aodh, son of Aodh Dubh O Domhnaill, and the commander Henry Docwra met face to face in the conflict. Aodh O Domhnaill cast a forked javelin he had in his hand at the leader, so that it struck him full in the forehead and wounded him severely. The leader turned back after being wounded in this way. The English, too, turned back in grief for the wounding of their trusted hero and their captain in the fight should be wounded, and they did not follow their enemies any farther. O Domhnaill's people went to their camp afterwards, and counted the English horses accurately. More than two hundred was their number. O Domhnaill divided them afterwards among his nobles according to their dignity and deserts.

¶143] O Domhnaill continued to besiege the English, without moving from his country, to the end of October. He determined then to go to Thomond to ravage it. He assembled his forces after making up his mind, and he did not halt till he crossed the Sligeach westwards. He left Niall O Domhnaill,


son of Conn, son of Calvach, son of Maghnus, of his own family, behind him in the territory to guard it against the English, lest they should come to invade it in his absence. The English did not cease to entreat and implore, to urge and beseech Niall O Domhnaill secretly to enter into an alliance and friendship with them, and they foretold for him the kingship and chieftaincy of the territory if they were victorious, and they promised him many jewels and great wealth, and engagements and covenants, too, for the fulfilment of everything. He listened for a long time to these proposals which they were urging on him, till his ill fortune at last made him consent to join and unite with the English and be deceived and cajoled by their lying promises and by the evil counsels of envious, proud people who incited and urged him to that decision. Woe to the mind that conceived, woe to the heart that entertained, woe to the tongue that initiated the violent, ruinous, odious, malicious scheme that was plotted then! Woe to the kinsman who forsook the race of his own flesh, and his earthly lord, his friends and blood relations, to go plotting and uniting with his enemies and his foes! Alas! that they did not carry on and win the contest together, for it was not simple or easy to wound or maim them, to surround or circumvent them as long as they were in peace and amity with each other. However, his three brothers joined with Niall in that revolt, i.e. Aodh Buidhe, Domhnall, and Conn Óg. The English needed, too, that Niall and his brothers should come to them, for they were weary and fatigued in battle array and call to arms every night through fear of O Domhnaill, and they were diseased and distempered owing to the narrow quarters they were in and the old musty victuals and the bitter salt meat and the want of every condiment which they needed, and of fresh tasty meat especially. Niall O Domhnaill supplied them everything they lacked, and released them from the narrow prison in which they were. He took with him a thousand of their soldiers to Lifford, nine miles due west of Derry, on the bank of the same Loch. This was


a famous residence of O Domhnaill; it was not safe then, for there was no stronghold or stone built castle there for a long time, as it had been destroyed some time before, but only a poor earthen fort that had been made of clay and of sods of earth, and a narrow, shallow ditch of water around it waiting and needing the re-erection of the fortress that had been there before. The guard vacated the fort through fear when they observed the English approaching and that O Domhnaill was not near to aid them. Thereupon the English came to the castle and raised huge walls and ramparts of earth and stone for shelter, so that it was safe for defence and attack against their enemies.

¶144] A certain man of O Domhnaill's own people went after him to tell him the news of the country, and related to him all that had taken place there. O Domhnaill wondered greatly, and was surprised that one who was kinsman and brother-in-law should turn against him, for Aodh's sister was Niall's wife. O Domhnaill returned from the province of Connacht, for he had not gone beyond Ballymote westwards into the province when the news reached him, and his forces turned back as fast as they could together, but yet his soldiers were not able to keep up with O Domhnaill, except a few of his horse, until he was very near Lifford, already mentioned. The English had not succeeded in making preys or depredations before O Domhnaill came back, but they were strengthening their camp and erecting ramparts, and when they heard that O Domhnaill had come, their fear did not allow them to leave the fortress in which they were for anything they needed. O Domhnaill halted at a place which was not very far from the English, until a few of his foot-soldiers came up with him.

¶145] It seemed long to O Domhnaill that the English were not attacked, and he did not wait longer for his army, but he displayed before the English the small force which he had on the south side of Cruachan Lighean, to the north of the river. When the English saw them, they went out to meet


them, Niall O Domhnaill and his brothers being leaders of the fight. They skirmished with each other, though there was not an obstinate battle on that first day, but they were in readiness for each other, for the English did not think O Domhnaill had so small a force as he had, and they were greatly afraid an ambuscade was laid for them, and they did not wish to go very far from the town in consequence. So, too, with O Domhnaill's people, it would be unwise for them to go among their enemies in the neighbourhood of the fort, their forces being so few. They separated, therefore, from each other, though it was not for peace and friendship sake they separated. Some of them on both sides were wounded by the discharge of spears and arrows and of very sharp forked darts and of leaden balls, but more of O Domhnaill's people were wounded on account of their small number than of the English. The English returned to their houses after a while, and O Domhnaill and his people came to their camp, and O Domhnaill went away upset and angry, it preyed on him that his army had not reached him on that day, for he was sure that if he had it then, the English would not escape from him as they did. His army came to him afterwards and he closed in the siege on the English as soon as his soldiers came to him, and he encamped two miles from Lifford aforesaid, for the protection of the farmers, that they might secure the crops of corn which were near the English. He sent spies and scouts to the town every night, that no one was allowed in or out without passing over the river to the south, and he left no road or pass or means of escape for a mile from the town, on which there were not guards and ambuscades to keep watch and ward on the English lest they might pass through unnoticed, and on the sons of Conn O Domhnaill especially and their people, for these he thought more difficult to watch, and twas, they that caused such numerous ambuscades and guards. He was about thirty days there without moving away until the farmers and peasants of the country had succeeded in reaping and saving their corn, and they put in small baskets and meal-sacks to draw it away


and carry it off on horses and steeds till they stowed it in strong fortresses and safe places where the enemy would not reach it.

¶146] Once, before O Domhnaill left that camp in which he was staying, he happened to go towards the English, to see if they would come out over the walls on the level plain. When O Domhnaill's people came before the town the English, reconnoitred and examined them; but they did not sally out against them, for they saw it was to challenge them to fight they had come. O Domhnaill's people returned by the same road, as they did not get what they were looking for. They made a halt on the bank of the river, which is called the Deel, to the north a short distance from the town. Large parties of them went to their camp and set about other tasks, for they did not think the English would follow them on that day precisely. When Niall O Domhnaill saw O Domhnaill's people scattered and unprepared, he told the English that they ought to make an attack on them. The English started to get their arms and put on their armour leisurely and carefully (at his bidding) in the middle of the fortifications that they might not be seen by the enemy until they had donned their arms and armour. When they were ready, they sallied out from the fortifications in battle array. Then they advanced to attack O Domhnaill's people in this manner, Niall and his brothers and people being in the van to show the way.

¶147] O Domhnaill sees them coming in that array, and he was glad to see them advancing, and he put his soldiers in their proper places opposite, with their field pieces ? 1 above them, and he did not allow them to be shot at till they were on the opposite bank of the river. When they met after that they were mixed together, and a fierce, inimical battle was fought by them, though their kinship was very close. The horsemen rushed at each other till they were striking one another with long limber pikes and grey-headed lances. Niall O Domhnaill made a thrust of the long, sharp lance he held in his hand at O Domhnaill's brother Maghnus, and the spear entered underneath his shoulder and penetrated his internal parts


through the hard leather tunic he had on. When Rury O Domhnaill, 'crown prince' of Cenél Conaill, saw his brother wounded in this way, he made a vigorous, bold, merciless attack on Niall, and aimed a forcible, furious thrust of a large spear straight at his breast. But when Niall saw the fierceness of Rury approaching him, and the thrust of the lance, he pulled hard the bridle-bit in the mouth of the high-rearing, foreign horse which he rode, and raised its head between them, so that the hard-tempered spear struck the horse straight in the forehead and pierced its brain. The socket of the spear was broken by Rury in drawing it back, and he left the iron head in the horse, so that he had only the broken staff in his hand. The horse died finally of this after coming to the town, when the iron was taken out.

¶148] Sad indeed that 'twas not side by side these heroes launched the attack on their enemies and directed their energies against their foes, and that they were not on good terms, for their success was unbroken while they remained so, and they were victorious in the neighbouring territories they entered, and they would not have been banished from their native land by a foreign race, as happened afterwards. Woe to the country and fair land, woe to the territory and nation in which their ill-fortune allowed kinsmen and blood relations to hack and slaughter each other without sparing one another, as happened at that time!

¶149] As for the English (during the time that the chiefs of whom we have spoken were attacking each other), they faced at once and in one body O Domhnaill's infantry. These retired before them for a short distance but yet only a few of them were wounded, for the English did not follow them beyond the field of battle, and the reason they did not follow was the wounding of their leader who had been pierced through in that engagement, so that they were obliged to return with him to Lifford, where he died afterwards. A large body of O Domhnaill's people followed them and proceeded to shoot and sabre them, so that many of them fell and were wounded,


and those in pursuit thought they would have been routed by them if the main body followed them up at once, but shame and regret did not allow the party which had been driven back at first to follow them again.

¶150] O Domhnaill returned to his camp after the English had gone away. Those who were in the camp that night were doleful and sad on account of the son of their chief, who would have been their prince had he survived his brothers. Up to that time 'twas more often Cenél Conaill would proclaim aloud the praises of their victories and triumphs while boasting of their exploits and their heroism after routing their foes, instead of the clapping of hands of their soldiers and the lamentation of the women weeping for their friends and bewailing their champions; for they had not been heavily wounded nor suffered disaster from the time Aodh Ruadh obtained sovereignty and princedom over them up to that day. That was the first day their power was shaken and their victorious progress was checked; and as worldly power without reverses and happiness without eclipse are not pleasing to the one God, he gave a reverse of fortune to the success of the race of Lughaidh, son of Setna for a while. Even though people swayed by envy and jealousy, murmuring and resentment, spite and enmity, may say that it was to punish O Domhnaill's transgressions and injustice the glorious God turned on him then, that is not true indeed; but the reason why God did this was lest pride or haughtiness, desire or self-will, should turn Aodh O Domhnaill aside from the straightness of his judgment, his probity in ruling his kingdom, and lest by reason of his leadership and victory over the neighbouring territories he might set his mind and thoughts on his own strength and powers, rather than on the decrees and gifts of the Lord of Heaven and earth, who is able to humble the valiant and exalt the miserable; for this is what the one God often does, to throw the possessions and wealth of his faithful children who serve Him and do His behest and rule to his unfaithful children who fulfil not at all his testament nor his law. So


it happened to Aodh O Domhnaill and his brothers, whom the Lord turned from their course of victory, and gave them the Heavenly Kingdom afterwards. That was clear by the sad ending of their lives, and by the feeling of the 'sons of life' and learned confessors who were present at their deaths.

¶151] When O Domhnaill came to the camp, as we have said, he ordered a litter woven of fair wattles to be made for Manus O Domhnaill to carry him over Bearnus westwards. The litter was made as was ordered, and Manus was carried in it. A great crowd of his companions and friends, too, accompanied him till they came to Donegal. A sick-bed was prepared for him there. O Domhnaill's physicians were brought to him to examine him, and they could not cure him. They said he was doomed. There were many religious of the Order of St. Francis in the monastery close to the castle to the west. Some of the wisest of these used to come to him to bind his friendship with the Lord. They proceeded to instruct and exhort him. He confessed his sins without any concealment, and admitted his transgressions then. He bewailed his sins before God, and he was sorry for his pride and arrogance in former times. He forgave also him who wounded him, and said that he himself was the cause of his death, for he first attacked Niall. He was in this way for a week preparing for death every single day, and a spouse of God of the said Order continually with him at the head of his bed to guard him against the snares of the devil. He gave his confidences frequently to his confessor, and received the Body of the Lord afterwards, and he died 22nd October, 1600, having gained victory over devil and world. It was the feeling of the religious who were present that he found favour with the Lord on account of his deserts. He was buried then in the tomb of his ancestors in the monastery of which we have spoken.

¶152] His father, Aodh, son of Manus, son of Aodh Dubh, was in his dotage at that time, being tended near the monastery. He was told that his son had died. He bowed down greatly in lamentation and distress for his son so that he hastened on his


death. When he was coming to his end, he called his confessor and made his confession, and did fervent penance before God. He died very soon after, on the 7th of December, in margin 1600 after being freed from the bondage of devil and world. He was buried in the same tomb near his son, so that the relics and remains of both are in the same monastery to-day. He who died then, i.e. Aodh, son of Manus, son of Aodh Dubh, son of Aodh Ruadh, son of Niall Garbh, was lord of Cenél Conaill, Inis Eóghain, Cenél Moen and North Connacht, and of the lands of his elders and ancestors also for six and twenty years, until he was weakened by the English, and then he gave his lordship with his blessing to his son Aodh Ruadh after his escape from the English, as we have related. He was a man who obtained the sovereignty without treachery or fratricide, war or disturbance, after the death of his brother An Calvach. He was a valiant and warlike man, victorious in battle and fight during his chieftaincy and before it, an invader and plunderer of adjacent territories and those neighbours who were bound to obey him, asserting the right of his nation until he made them subject to his rule, a man who laid aside the cares and anxieties of the world after giving up his lordship to his son. He was meritorious in the sight of God earning guerdons for his soul for the space of eight years until he died at this time.

¶153] As for O Domhnaill, after he had passed the thirty days that we have spoken of besieging the English, he arranged to leave the encampment where he was during that time and to go to another position, which was no less secure, a little further from the English on the western bank of the Finn, between them and Bearnus, as he feared the cold of the rough winter weather for his soldiers, who were every night keeping watch and ward against the English, for indeed it was then Hollantide, and he thought it time to bring his army to comfortable quarters after their great toil, for they had not slept in quietness for a long time. They moved off then to the place we have mentioned. They made a camp there in the


shelter of a wood very near the river. They made bothies and buildings afterwards, and they set to lop down the forest all round them until they made a strong palisade, intricate, impenetrable, of the thick trees, between them and their enemies, so that it was not easy to attack them through it. When O Domhnaill left off the siege in which he had been engaged, the people of Niall O Domhnaill in squads and companies were seeking to attack their friends and companions, spying about and examining the territory, to see whether they might get a chance of a prey or spoil for the English. Their friends used to meet them secretly at times with information of the danger points and news of the country generally. Some of them, whose deceit and treachery were quite clear, were hanged by O Domhnaill. Their excursion was of no use to the spies, since O Domhnaill did not allow his people to be negligent, for he was himself with his forces between them and the English to protect them, and it was useless for any one to attempt to plunder them in spite of him. O Domhnaill did not go from that place till the end of forty days; there was no plunder, booty, or attack by either of them on the other, himself or the English.

¶154] In the fulness of time and season word came to him that a ship had come from Spain into the harbour of Inbhear Mór, in the west of the province of Connacht. His mind and thoughts cheered up at this, for it was a sign of success to him, as he supposed a body of troops and aid from the King would follow. He sent his messengers to the place where O Néill was, bringing the tidings with them and inviting him to come to him. He himself took to the road across Bearnus with a troop of horse, and left his army in their camp with his brother Rury O Domhnaill in command of them. When he crossed Bearnus, he halted but a short time until he passed the Erne, the Drowes, the Dubh, Magh Cettne of the Fomorians, the Sligeach, to Tír Fiachrach of the Moy. As the feast of the Lord's Nativity was very near then, what he did was to write letters to the ship, and these were the contents: to sail with the first fair wind that would come from the south-west to


the harbour of Cealla Beaga in Tír Boghaine, and they would find himself and O Néill before them there. O Domhnaill himself remained in Tír Fiachrach of the Moy until he had completed the celebration of the feast of the Lord. He went back eastwards to the Sligeach again. It was told him that O Néill was on the way to meet him through Magh Ccettne, due westwards, so that O Domhnaill marched quickly on the road towards him, and they met face to face. He welcomed him. They turned back together to the Saimer eastwards, and from that to Donegal. They remained there for the space of a fortnight, awaiting the above mentioned ship. They convened to them there the chiefs and nobles of the province of Ulster, whosoever was subject to O Néill from Loch Foyle to the Boyne. There came also the noblemen of the province of Connacht, such as were always under his rule and his sharing, to O Domhnaill to request grants of spears and guns, arms and armour, and their share of every kind of assistance too that might come to him, as was usual with them. The nobles were revelling and feasting during that time with the choicest of food and drink.

¶155] The ship came thereafter to the harbour of Cealla Beaga in Tír Boghaine. The chiefs went to report to it. There was a famous Bishop aboard. He landed, and the messengers with him. The nobles welcomed them, and especially the Bishop. They were placed in an apartment by themselves after a while, and entertainment and attendance were given them, with honour and respect, as was fitting, and they shed the fatigue and weariness of the sea. They spoke to them then and asked them the reason of their coming. They told them the business on which they had come, was to strengthen them against their enemies lest they should abandon hope of aid from the King of Spain, and that they had brought with them six thousand pounds first, to give it to them as pay for soldiers and supplies, and that more money would come next time, and the help of an army, as was promised. O Domhnaill and O Néill went into conference, and the minds of both


were troubled on account of the money, for they were sure that their enemies would look down on them on account of the smallness and meanness of the aid which had come, and that their own people and their friends and kinsmen would be distrustful of them as soon as they would learn how little concern the King of Spain had for the Irish and that all he had done was to temporise ? and make little of them, so that the nobles decided to refuse the money at first. However, they did not wish to awaken the wrath of the Spaniards, for there was no true friend to whom they could complain of their trials or troubles, who had power to aid them in the straits they were in, but the King of Spain. They took the money for that reason, and not through avarice or a desire of wealth. They thanked the King in the person of his messengers for what he had bestowed on them, and they gave five hundred pounds to the messengers themselves. O Domhnaill's people put on board the ship for them plenty of flesh-meat of heavy milk-fed calves, and of white-fleeced crook-horned wethers. The messengers sailed back then by the same way with the first breeze of north-east wind. The princes returned to Donegal, and their money was divided into two parts between O Domhnaill and O Néill, and they gave it as a stipend to their supporters and confederates, for their mercenaries and supplies. The Bishop we have mentioned stayed with O Domhnaill and the 'sons of life' in the monastery, and spent a long time with them. He was another while with O Néill; so he was—on a visit to each of them in turn—till at last he left Ireland.