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

section 11

The Tenth Year, 1601

¶156] When the princes came to Donegal the second time, the nobles and leaders separated from each other. O Néill with his people went to their homes. The people of Connacht and all who had come from that province returned to their countries and their castles. O Domhnaill himself went through Bearnus and over the Finn until he came to the camp in which he had left his army on guard against the English, to strike at them going to plunder the territory after his departure, that it might not be found in danger or neglected. That strict watch was so kept by them that the English made no raid or incursion against them worth mention during the time that O Domhnaill was settling the matters aforementioned. There was only one occasion when the English of Derry made a fierce, merciless attack on Seaán Óg O Dochartaigh, to see if they might find an opportunity of wounding or seizing him. For it was putting a head in a lion's den or a hand in a griffin's nest to attack him at all so long as luck and success were helping him and his earthly lord. When the English of whom we have spoken came face to face with O Dochartaigh, each of them attacked the other with merciless hatred till the English were routed. Many of them were slain, around the colonel who was their leader in battle, a famous knight named Sir John Chamberlain. O Dochartaigh returned triumphant. Alas! this was his last victory and triumph over the English while defending his patrimony and his home from them, for soon after an insufferable fit and a violent sickness seized on him, and he went speedily to the other world, January 27th precisely. The death of him who died then was sad and doleful, for hardly was there a chief of any cantred in the island of Eremon in these latter days who was braver and more valiant in deeds of war and arms than he. He was great in renown


and deeds, in hospitality and profusion, in fame and excellence. He who died then was stern, vigorous in helping, he was active, courageous in attack. Messengers came with news of his death to the place where O Domhnaill was.

¶157] He fell into great sorrow and grief thereat, and it lay very heavily on his mind. He set out immediately, for O Dochartaigh's death was not a cause of comfort to him. He left his forces in the camp all but a few whom he took with him, and having assembled those who were noble of the race of Fiamhan, son of Cennfaeladh (to whom the chieftaincy of Inis Eóghain belonged), in one place to meet him, to see which of the chief men he should appoint to the headship of the cantred of which we have spoken, he resolved, after consideration, to give the title of chief to Feilim Óg O Dochartaigh; he was the brother of Seaán Óg, who died as we have said, as he was the oldest in years, and the noblest by blood, for the daughter of Manus O Domhnaill was his mother. Her name was Rose. The princely call was then given for these same reasons to Feilim in presence of all the chiefs at Ard na dTaoiseach, in the townland of Aighedh Caoin, and the title of O Dochartaigh was conferred on him.

¶158] When he had completed this he went back to his camp and ordered his forces to strengthen the palisade which they had cut all round, and not to be careless in standing to arms or maintaining armed guard night and day, lest they might allow the English or the sons of Conn O Domhnaill to go past them unawares to ravage or plunder the territory. This was done exactly as he bade. When neither the English nor Niall and his brothers with his people discovered any weakness or neglect, in the watch and ward which was kept on them continually by O Domhnaill they could endure without going out in another direction, in their need to seek for food and supplies of fresh meat; wherefore they resolved to take a large body of chosen horse and foot across the old river across the Finn into Cenél Eóghain Mic Néill. They marched forward in order until they came to Gleann Aichle, in Cenél Eóghain,


and that whole district was plundered by them. They also defeated the sons of Ferdorcha, son of Eoin, son of Domhnall Óg at Cnoc Bhoidhbh Deirg, and Turloch Óg O Coinne was captured by Niall O Domhnaill, and was not set free from fetters till sixty marks in silver were paid for him. Newtown and Castlederg (these were two famous castles) were taken by them later; and they plundered of all their goods anyone whom they found in them. Niall with his brother and the English, returned to Lifford after that expedition.

¶159] As for O Domhnaill, he was resting at this time hearing of Niall and the English, and neither of them attacked the other. As O Domhnaill continued thus messengers came to him with letters from some of his confidants and friends who were in the neighbourhood of Dublin and used to hear news of the town and of the Council also. The purport of the letters was that one of the nobles of the old English was one day, about his own business and affairs in the appointed house where the clerks and secretaries of the Council were, and that he read a letter amongst the writings there, in which was a bond of friendship between O Conor Sligo, Donncha, son of Cathal Óg, and the Lord Deputy, to spy upon and deliver up Aodh Ruadh O Domhnaill no matter how, by wounding or capture, to the Lord Deputy and Council. The good nobleman thought it a pity that this wicked plot and evil design should be planned against the prince and chief without having compassion on him and helping him if he could, though he was with all his land, wealth and property under the control and power of the English. Wherefore what he did was to communicate it secretly to a certain faithful Catholic bishop who was O Domhnaill's true friend, and this was the purport of the letters that reached him then. O Domhnaill was exceedingly distressed after reading the letters, and he was a long time without speaking to any one, and he did not sleep or eat in comfort for a very long space, for he was grieved at the danger and great peril in which he himself was, twas worse than his death to him to think that this man whom he took into favour and friendship


at the point and edge of the sword, and to whom he gave large presents of every kind, and of every sort of flocks and herds and wealth besides, to establish him and let him inhabit his lands and freeholds should set himself up in opposition and enmity to him once more. Another thing also put O Domhnaill in anxiety and trouble: he feared that critics and wiseacres would be fault-finding him behind his back if he were to seize O Conor and accuse him of betraying him, without his being guilty. This is what he decided to do finally, after a great deal of perplexity, to send some of his trusty men and well-wishers to Aodh O Néill to discuss and enquire into that problem with him and to take counsel with him what he should do. When they had come into the presence of the prince O Néill they told him privately the business they had come on. O Néill set himself to ponder carefully for a long time what advice he should give O Domhnaill in his perplexity. The message he sent him in the end was this: since he thought it certain, from the trusted nobles who had given him warning and compassion, that treachery and guile had been plotted against him, it was meet and just to put another man. in fetters rather than allow his own death to come of it or his imprisonment or bondage as had happened to him at the time of his guesting and boyhood betrayal, as we have narrated. O Domhnaill's people returned to him with those suggestions from O Néill, and reported all as we have said.

¶160] O Domhnaill then selected a troop of horse, the choicest of his youths, in whom he had most hope and trust, and he did not let out to anyone of them what was in his mind, but merely ordered them to be ready for action on the spot whatever he should ask of them. They promised with one voice to do so. He marched rapidly after that with his troop of horse, without halt or stay, till he came to Grange in Cairbre Droma Cliabh, and he sent messengers before him to summon O Conor to him at that place. He came as he was ordered to do. When they came face to face with each other, he ordered his people to seize on O Conor. He was obeyed instantly, and the young


men warned him not to show any fight or resistance, for he would be slain if he opposed them, and he would be kept as a hostage by O Domhnaill as long as he pleased. The soldiers proceeded to guard him openly after that. O Domhnaill, however, returned to his camp, and he sent O Conor for safe keeping to Loch Iascach.

¶161] As for O Domhnaill, he was again engaged with his forces in the same battle array, as we have said, so that there was no danger of wound or capture, of depredation or plunder for any of his faithful people then, neither did the English or Niall O Domhnaill and his brothers dare to leave the fortress which they had first come to, on the side where he was. There took place a great contention of battle some time before that about the division of their territory between the Earl of Clanrickard, i.e., Ulick, son of Rickard Sasanach, and his kinsmen the sons of Seaán na Seamar, son of Rickard Sasanach; Réamonn, Liam, Seaán Óg, and Tomás were their names. These were filled with suspicion and envy, spite and hatred against Ulick because he was chosen for the chieftaincy, and because of every old grudge which happened between them for a long time which it would be tedious to set forth now; and the sons of Seaán were driven and banished from one place to another, after doing intolerable depredation and robbery in their native place on their enemies and on the faithful subjects of the Earl especially, so that they found no place or spot where it was safer for them to go for their protection and to exercise their vigour and their enmity on their cousin the Earl than with O Domhnaill, for they were certain that if aid and help would come to them from any one at all of the Irish it would come from him alone. They came to him then.

¶162] A short time after they came to the place where O Domhnaill was, the Earl Ulick died in the month of May of this year, 1601, and his son Rickard was inaugurated in his place. A desire and longing seized him in the pride of his strength, through vanity and vain glory, after his inauguration to


go and avenge his wrongs and enmity on all the people who were under the authority and sway of O Domhnaill, and not to stop until he would come to the bank of the Sligeach if he could. This was proper, for he with all his territory had claims on O Domhnaill and his people, if they were able to levy them on them, for many were their plunderings and visitations of them in their countries. There assembled to him, by command of the Lord Deputy, Lord Mountjoy, some of the large companies which the English had placed in the strong castles and principal fortresses of Munster, any that happened to be near him viz., in Limerick, Kilmallock, Askeaton, and in the other forts besides. The forces which the Queen had in the principal fortresses of the province of Connacht in Galway, Athlone, etc., were also in readiness to join him. When these chiefs had assembled in one place and presented themselves to the Earl of Clanrickard, to whom the chief command had been given, they decided with one mind to march first in force to the monastery of Boyle to see if they could, through neglect or by chance go from that to Sligo. As for O Domhnaill, the first time the news reached him that these musters of great armies were marching towards him, he sent out wide-spread watches on the usual roads by which he thought the Earl with his forces would come towards him. His war preparations and defences against the foreign race were all the weaker owing to the division and scattering which he had made of his soldiers in the several places where they were, viz., strong bodies in the ambuscade and encampments of which we have spoken, on watch for the English who were in Derry and Lifford and for Niall O Domhnaill and his brothers especially, large numbers in the royal castles to guard them against the enemy, so that they might not leave them in danger without any protection at all. These were the castles: the island on Loch Iascach, Donegal, Bellashanny, Collooney, and Ballymote, and others of his troops were with himself in case he might encounter some special difficulty anywhere.


¶163] When the Earl with his army had gone across the river called Suca, and heard of the position and situation in which O Domhnaill's men were along the well known roads and the usual passes, and that he himself would come in force to aid them if they were in strait or need, what he did was to move swiftly with his forces due east by the smooth roads of the level part of the plain of Magh Aoi until they came to Elphin, on the confines of Magh Luirg and Uí Briúin na Sionna, Clann Cathail, and Magh Aoi an Fhinnbendaigh. Meantime, when it was reported to O Domhnaill that the Earl with his forces was coming to that place, he was not slow or negligent, but he set out and hastened by day and by night with the greatest number of troops he could, and encamped part for part, opposite the other camp. They were facing each other thus for one night. Bloody, shot-showering, wounding, gore-smiting were the fierce attacks, the hard insufferable onsets waged between them on both sides, too tedious to recount singly. However, many of their soldiers were slain outright and others were laid in blood and wounds, till both were weary and tired of each other in the end, so that the Earl thought it time to return with his forces to their lands and homes. Great ruin and destruction of dwellings and crops was wrought by the Earl and his army on their way back upon their enemies, i.e., the race of O Conor Ruadh and the race of O Ceallaigh, partisans and friends to O Domhnaill.

¶164] As for Niall O Domhnaill and his brothers and the English, when they heard of O Domhnaill's going into the province of Connacht with the main part of his army and the campaign he was in with the Earl of Clanrickard and the English, as we have said, and how the soldiers and guards, affrighted and dilatory, whom O Domhnaill had left to keep ward for him to the east of Bearnus, had separated from each other to obtain food and provisions, he was certain that unless he went with his forces then through Bearnus, it would not be pleasant or easy for him to attack it at any other time, if O Domhnaill was at hand, anywhere throughout the whole


territory; whereupon he ordered all under his command of English and Irish to march very actively and swiftly with him to the intricate and difficult Bearnus, which faced them. This plan was executed for him immediately, and they marched then in large heavy companies and dense, strong bands along the direct road to speckled-hilled Bearnus. Niall sent a body of horse in front of them to reconnoitre and examine the winding narrow road which was before them, to see if there was ambush or ward on it from the camp in which O Domhnaill's forces were, as was their custom always. There was hardly any but a small body for, after O Domhnaill had gone away into Connacht, as we have already said, they had scattered about the neighbouring country on account of their need of provisions. This small body and the scouts which Niall had sent on before him met. They were routed by Niall and his people, and some of them were slain. When the few outposts of O Domhnaill's people that we have mentioned saw that they could not hold the road against the large body, and when they estimated the great force which was marching slowly towards them, they determined not to give victory or triumph over them to their enemies, but to yield the passage to them without attempting to defend it any longer against them, and to avoid them on that occasion, so that Niall advanced thus with his huge array without stop or stay, and they made their camp in the monastery of Donegal, the place where the sons of life and the psalm-singing elders of the Order of St. Francis used to say the divine office and offer Mass without disturbance by English or Irish since first this Aodh Ruadh O Domhnaill assumed the chieftaincy up to that time; and, moreover, they had never before been driven or banished from that dwelling, from the first moment that blessed gabled roof had been granted them by that royal star that was prophesied, Aodh Ruadh, son of Niall Garbh, son of Turloch of the Wine except during the very short space of time of which we have spoken already, before the last Aodh Ruadh was inaugurated in the chieftaincy of his native country. It was


not long till he brought them back to their retired dwellings and to their cells of jointed wood, so that they were serving the Lord fervently, lacking for naught, during his reign, either clothing or food, up to that day. Not well-born was the great grandson of that valiant, racial stock, that bush of protection, that immovable cliff, that sledge of smiting and of crushing enemies, namely Aodh Ruadh son of Niall Garbh, who gave that notable grant to God and to the holy Order of St. Francis, for the good of his own soul and his root stock in past times and his progeny in the future, by whom it was now being handed over in its wealth to the outlaw stranger race and the hereditary enemy of the ancient progeny of Gaoidheal Glas son of Niall from times long gone.

¶165] When Niall with his brothers and the English succeeded in coming to the monastery of which we have spoken, his mind was at ease at arriving there, for the place where he found himself was a secure fortress, and it was not necessary for the soldiers to dig ramparts or trenches around them, for there was enough of them already. It was convenient, too, for ravaging and plundering the country generally whenever the mixed troops which were in it pleased, since there was no strong force attacking it or beseiging it. He sent some of his people and of the English to Machaire Beag, to the west of Donegal. This was another church which his ancestors had given some time before to another body of the same Order, and it was safe to take shelter in for the same reason.

¶166] As for O Domhnaill, after he and the Earl of Clanrickard had parted from each other, as we have just said, news reached him that Niall O Domhnaill with his English had gone through the famous Bearnus to Donegal, and how they had arrived and all they had done. It was a great grief to him that he could not be before them and prepared for their coming through narrow mouthed Bearnus and through the difficult, intricate way by which they had come, for he was full sure that he could inflict his heart's fill of slaughter and injuries on them had he been ready for them. But yet he made little or nothing


of the news which was told him, but hid the trouble that was in his inmost heart, for it was his usual habit whenever he heard anything which put him in grief or sadness, to show no sign of low spirits at all, but twas a merry and agreeable face he would show clearly before all who were in his presence. Moreover, it was a great consolation to him in his sorrow that there was but a small number of his people and but little of their flocks and cattle north of the Saimer then, for long before an order had been given by him to his people to go with all their goods and flocks to the province of Connacht, i.e., into the territory of Cairbre, son of Niall, and to Uí Fiachrach of the Moy, and they proceeded to settle and dwell in these territories even before the fleet of ships came, which had already reached the Loch of Feabhal, son of Lottan. But yet he thought it a great misfortune that Niall and his English should not have been attacked by them, and that they should not have been allowed to go outside the strong places which they had seized to seek for booty or plunder, so what he did was to collect his army immediately at the other side of the Erne to the north, and he prepared his camp very near the places where the English were. He posted his strong, vigorous sentinels and his nimble, light-armed warders on certain marshes and gaps of danger, so that rogues and thieves might not escape in the darkness of the night or in secret guise to seek what they needed or carry additional food after them from the forts they had first come to, so that hardship and great scarcity sprang up in the camps of Niall and the English in consequence. They sent letters by a servant boy, whom they let out secretly, to the famous Derry, the place where they had landed first, praying the commanders of the fleet who were still there to send one of their ships from Derry, of which we have spoken, straight along the coast of the north with the supplies they needed, both arms and food, since O Domhnaill prevented all coming and going or visiting the country on any side, to take a prey or bring them sustenance, and if this was not done on their behalf, that they would have to abandon the camps


in which they were or forfeit their lives to their enemies. What they asked was not delayed, for the capacious ship was fitted out in good trim, and she sailed with a breeze of north-easterly wind, until she anchored in the deep part of the ferrybank opposite the monastery where they were. The time which both armies spent in the contentions of which we have spoken was not happy or pleasant, but the wrathful, vindictive, fierce attacks were cutting, sharp, destructive, venomous, wound-giving, bloody, and the conflicts were firm, obstinate, injuring mortally, hostile, which were fought between them on both sides, so that it would be tedious to relate the skirmishes and devastations of each succeeding day, but only that large bodies of soldiers, recruits, and warriors were slaughtered and slain between them on this side and that at once, and others were laid in blood and gore, in gashes and wounds which were never wholly cured, so that they were wasted away to death.

¶167] They continued both of them in this way on guard against each other till the last days of the month of September, 1601. At that time the Lord displayed his powers against the people who dwelt in the cells and homes of the sons of life and of the guileless Orders, and by whom they were driven out and scattered about in the woods and winding glens as if they were wolves and wild beasts. The first vengeance, then, which God took on them, however it happened, whether from heaven or from earth, was, that fire flared up in the barrels of powder which they had in the monastery of Donegal in preparation and readiness for the war they were waging continuously against the Irish and against O Domhnaill in particular, so that the powder exploded in the air on high, and its smoke was not higher than its red flame which reached the top of the lime-mortared coping stone ?, the windows and skylights and all the buildings of stone and wood of the blessed church above that were near the powder, and it consumed the well-made rood-screen and the cells formed of wood, and the elegant carven beams too, which were built skilfully below. The stones and the wood and the men, wholly and completely,


without any separation of their bodies, were mixed up in flight and hovering above for a long time, and they fell on the ground charred corpses, and some of them fell on the heads of the people beneath them when coming back to earth, so that many of them were burnt to death in that way.

¶168] When the sentinels and guards which were set by O Domhnaill over the English perceived the dense cloud of vapour and the strong, unusual, extraordinary smoke, that lay above the monastery, they set to shoot vigorously their leaden balls and bright-firing flashes in order to summon O Domhnaill and his army to come in haste and attack the English, for it was the noisy shots that were employed as the readiest, quickest messengers to tell him to come to their aid. That summons was not answered very hesitantly by O Domhnaill and his forces, for they advanced as fiercely and rapidly as they could in crowds and troops to the place where their people were near the monastery.

¶169] They came to close quarters in the contest on both sides after that. They were the faces of enemies in the field, and they were not the faces of friends at feasting, which the kinsmen and the blood relations showed each other then. It was difficult, impossible, for O Domhnaill's forces to return the fire of the soldiers who were in the monastery, on account of the great strength of the surrounding walls protecting them from them and the showers of shot of the soldiers who were to the west of them in the castle of Donegal, and also the firing of the heavy bullets of iron and lead cast upon them by the crew of the heavily manned ship which was facing them in the deep part of the harbour to the west. But yet O Domhnaill's people were stronger in the fight. When Niall O Domhnaill saw his people and the English being overwhelmed in stress of combat he considered in his mind how he might relieve them. Wherefore, what he did was to escape secretly, bravely and speedily, by the edge of the harbour due west to Machaire Beag, where there was a large body of English (as we have said), and he brought them with him by the same road to the aid of his own


people and of the English. The crew of the ship of which we have spoken proceeded to parry and thrust on their behalf until they passed over the midmost walls of the monastery. The force he brought with him came just in time for him and his people, for O Domhnaill's people would have been victorious only for that. When O Domhnaill perceived the great strength of the place in which Niall and his English were, and the great force that had come to attack them, he thought it wrong that his people should be destroyed in unequal contest any longer, and he ordered his soldiers to cease from attack and to go to their camp. This was immediately done at his bidding.

¶170] Many of them were slain on this side and that. Amongst the nobles who fell on O Domhnaill's side in the fight were Tadhg, son of Cathal Óg Mac Diarmuda of the noble race of Sliocht Maelruanaidh, from Magh Luirg, with a large number besides. There fell on the other side Conn Óg, son of Conn, brother of Niall O Domhnaill, and three hundred besides, including wounded and burnt. This Conn who fell then was a spearhead in battle and fight and usually won 'victory of each first wound.' O Domhnaill afterwards moved his camp a little nearer the monastery, and he sent some of his people to besiege Machaire Beag, where the English had first settled, whom Niall took with him to the aid of his people, as we have said. On the feast of Michael the Archangel this happened, according to the day of the week.

¶171] Thus was O Domhnaill blockading Niall and his English and putting him in a tight corner and intolerable straits from the end of September to the end of October, without any important deed worthy of record having been done between them during that time, until news came to him of the oversea fleet which had come from the King of Spain to aid them against their enemies, as he had promised them long before. The place where the Spanish fleet put in was in the harbour of Kinsale, at the mouth of the Bandon river, on the confines of De Courcy's country on the one side, and of Kinelea, i.e., the patrimony


of Barry Óg, on the other. Don Juan de Aguila was the name of the general who was in command of them. When they landed there, they put the fortress of Kinsale under their command and power. They distributed their commanders and nobles, their chiefs and captains in the well furnished forts of the town, and the troops for battle and fight in the passes of danger and at the points of defence, to watch and ward, by turns in order as their officers instructed them. They then landed from their ships all the supplies they had, both arms and ordnance, powder and lead, food and drink. Their ships returned to their own lands and to their merchants, for they had it not in mind to be carried back in them in a short time.

¶172] There was a certain castle to the west of the harbour of Kinsale named Rincorran, in the territory of Barry Óg, in Kinelea exactly. The Spaniards put some of their distinguished men to guard and garrison this castle. They then set about fortifying their camp, and entrenching it, erecting and planting the ordnance close all round on steady, strong carriages, for they were certain that the Lord Deputy would come with the Queen's army to attack them as soon as the news would reach them. When the Lord Deputy was told that they had taken that place and all they had done, he assembled as great a force as he could without delay or stop until he came to meet them, so that they were face to face with each other. The President of the two provinces of Munster came there likewise with his forces; the Earl of Clanrickard came with his troops; and not these only but every head of a host and every lord of a territory who was submissive and obedient to the Queen in Munster, in Leinster, in Meath, and in Connacht. They came and pitched their camps opposite Kinsale and Rincorran exactly. Sleep or repose, sortie or sally was not allowed to the Spaniards who were within Rincorran, but there were violent shooting conflicts and fierce bloody attacks on them night and day, so that they were obliged at last to come out disbanded and unarmed under the protection and security of the Lord Deputy, and when he


promised them protection he divided them among the chief towns of Munster until he should know how the conflict would go with the other party who were in Kinsale.

¶173] The Lord Deputy with his forces and the others who were besieging Rincorran up to that were at the same business at first firing and shooting at the Spaniards who were in Kinsale. Anon they begged and besought them by fine words and nice promises to come under the clemency and protection of the Lord Deputy, as the others had done who came out of Rincorran. They said that it was not usual for the soldiers of the country from which they had come to betray their honour or their temporal lord, and that it was not easy to cheat them by means of unmeaning promises or deceitful devices, and that they would not violate their promise to the true prince whom they served, by whom they were sent to aid the nobles who were in stress of warfare and battle against them, defending their faith and fatherland, of which they wished to rob them daily. Meantime they were in such a state that both parties were tired and weary, owing to the long time they were in battle array attacking one another without sleep or food, pleasure or enjoyment, each of them on the alert and prepared for the other day and night. But yet it was more severe on the Lord Deputy and his army to be in this condition than on the Spaniards, for these were more accustomed to sieges against and for themselves, and 'twas oftener they were tested in every practice of war, for most of the warlike race to which they belonged were reared and brought up to it, and they had brought many lands and dwellings, territories and lordships under their authority and power for the sake of their faith, virtue, intelligence by valour, bravery, and success in war, so that it was not easy to oppose them unless ill-luck befell those whom they aided. For this reason the Lord Deputy thought of going back to Dublin and scattering his soldiers throughout the principal strongholds of Southern Ireland, if the Earl of Thomond had not come by order of the Queen from England to Ireland to help the Lord Deputy with four thousand choice troops, and landed on the side of Kinsale where the Lord Deputy was.


¶174] One night during that time the Spaniards made a fierce, vigorous attack, and they came outside their walls to the camp of the Lord Deputy and to the place where the ordnance was which was breaking and dashing down the battlements, the stone and timber works, erected by them all round, and the plan they adopted was to pack some of the loud-voiced guns with sharp stones, beams, blocks, and wedges, after killing the soldiers that were guarding them. They were observed at this work, and the forces of the Lord Deputy attacked them, and they proceeded to wound and slaughter each other for a great part of the night, and the Spaniards returned victorious and steady to their camp at last, and many were slain by them and of them. They thought little of their loss as they had done an equal amount to grieve their enemies. There was no cessation day or night between the two camps since they engaged each other, without death-wounds and flowing of blood on one side and on the other, and slaughter to the last day on which came the final separation and the decisive battle.

¶175] As for O Domhnaill, when he was told that the Spanish fleet had made the harbour of Kinsale, as we have said, he left the siege in which he was engaged against Niall O Domhnaill and the English who were in the monastery of Donegal, as we have said, and he made little or nothing of every problem except to go meet the Spaniards, for they and their King were his one confidence and his one hope of assistance, and it was on this account his war had been first waged. Satisfaction and joy filled him at their coming, and he thought it of little importance that the English should remain or dwell in the castles they had seized in his territory, for he was sure they would abandon them at once if the Irish and the Spaniards were victorious in the contest with the Lord Deputy at Kinsale then. Wherefore, what he did in consequence was to send his proclamation and summons to those who were under his control and power from Tory in the north to the most southern part of Uí Maine, and from Srubh Brain, in Inis Eóghain Mic Néill, to Erris in the west, to muster and gather


to him in one place at Ballymote. He waited there until the feast of Samhain was celebrated by him, and all his forces had assembled to meet him in companies and troops, with heroic spirit and courage, each lord of a territory and each chief of a district in one body separately, marching slowly in their order, until they succeeded in showing their muster one by one to the prince.

¶176] The first who came at his call were the race of Conall Gulban, son of Niall, in all their strength, except Niall O Domhnaill and his brothers. There came the three smiters in battle whom he and his race always had, i.e., the three Mac Suibhnes of the race of Eóghan, son of Niall, from Fanad, from the districts of Tory, and from Tír Boghaine. There came also the most illustrious of the race of Brian, son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhoin, with their great muster, all but O Conor Sligo, i.e., Donncha, son of Cathal Óg, whom he had in fetters, as we have said. O Ceallaigh came too, i.e., Fear Dorcha, and the greatest number that could come from Uí Máine with him. There came also those who dwelt in Connacht of the race of Cormac Gaileang, son of Tadhg, son of Cian, son of Oilioll Oluim, and his peoples. O Dubhda of the race of Fiachra, son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhoin, came with the gathering of Uí Fiachrach of the Moy. MacWilliam Burke came likewise, i.e., Tibbot, son of Walter, son of Seaán, son of Oliver, with all his army. There were besides with O Domhnaill then the nobles who had come from many districts in expulsion and banishment, to complain of their sufferings and hardships, to see if he could succeed in aiding or helping them against the oppression in which they were held by the English and by some of their own people. Of these were the sons of Seaán Burke, i.e., Seaán na Seamar, son of Rickard Sasanach, Réamonn, Liam, and Tomás. With them was FitzMaurice of Kerry, Tomas, son of Pádraigín, son of Tomás, son of Eamon, son of Tomas, and the Knight of Glin, Éamon, son of Tomás, and Tadhg Caoch, son of Turloch Mac Mathghamhna, and Diarmuid Maol, son


of Donncha Mac Carthaigh. Fit for a king was the guise and report of the mighty mustered army O Domhnaill had there if it were pleasing to the glorious God that strength and supremacy should attend them. It is indeed, certain that some of the Kings of Éire took possession of the island of Ugaine with a smaller army than the fierce, vigorous force which assembled here together, even without the aid of the active, joyful crowd of heroes assembled by O Néill on that numerous, gladsome hosting which he had following after.

¶177] After that the large forces marched on the second day of the month of November by very slow marches, advancing from Ballymote to Ballinafad by the shore of Loch Cé, to Elphin, through the county of Roscommon, to the east of the county of Galway to Síl Anmchadha, to Bél an tSnámha, to Ath Cróchda on the Shannon; thence afterwards to Delvin Mic Cochláin. That territory was plundered and spoiled entirely by them, and they produced a heavy cloud of fire throughout it, and they burned MacCochláin's own castle. The territories through which they had come were obedient to them up to that. After that they went through Fir Ceall over the upper part of Sliav Bladhma to Uí Cairín. A camp was made by O Domhnaill and his forces on the hill of Druim Saileach in Uí Cairín, and he remained in that place for a month awaiting O Néill, who was marching slowly and steadily after him. The forces did not cease going about searching and seeking, plundering and exploring the territories all round during that time wherever they met opposition, and especially every place that was faithful to the English, and those who were most likened to them. He came on the feast day of Andrew exactly to the Holy Cross of Uachtar Lamhan for a blessing and protection with a group of monks of the monastery of Holy Cross convoying him, and he presented them with many donations and offerings and alms, and they were thankful. They could not leave that place readily, owing to the unusual ice and to the heavy slippery snow which fell then.


¶178] When the Lord Deputy of Ireland heard that O Domhnaill and his army were marching in that array to attack him, he greatly feared and hated to be put in a fix or in dire straits between the Spaniards and the Irish; and that visiting or occupying the country, hither or yon, to bring them the supplies they needed would be taken from his people entirely; so that they must die of cold or hunger, since transport of food and fuel would be prevented; or otherwise they must surrender and give themselves up to their enemies and come under their protection and security, as the Spaniards who were in Rincorran had come unto him already. Wherefore, for this reason he ordered the President of the two provinces of Munster, Sir George Carew, to go with four thousand chosen heroes and armed soldiers by a narrow pass and a safe entrance ? to meet O Domhnaill, to see whether he could divert him from his path or prevent him from the plans he had in mind. When O Domhnaill heard that the President with that haughty army had arrived in the neighbourhood of Cashel, neither fear, nor dread, nor death-shiver seized him, but he marched on due west by Upper Ormond, by Clanwilliam of the bank of the Shannon, by the gate of Limerick south-westwards, day and night, without stop or stay until he crossed the Maigue into Uí Conaill Gabhra. When the President saw that the foresight and the plans made by himself and the Lord Deputy had come to naught, and that O Domhnaill and his army had passed them by the roads which he thought they would not come at all, he returned to the place where the Lord Deputy was, so that both together might fight their battle.

¶179] It was then that O Domhnaill sent choice troops and strong bodies of his forces to the aid of FitzMaurice of Kerry, who was with him during the past year (as we have said), and some of FitzMaurice's own people to guide them through the territory of Clanmorris to see could they get a chance of seizing through weakness or danger some of FitzMaurice's castles. O Domhnaill ordered FitzMaurice himself to remain with him until he knew how fared the party which they had


sent against the force that opposed them then. The journey they went was of profit to O Domhnaill's people, for they plundered and preyed many of FitzMaurice's enemies who were the cause of his having come in exile and banishment to O Domhnaill, and three of the chief castles of the territory were captured by them i.e., Lixnaw, Caislen Gearr of Ardfert, and Ballykealy, and they left some of their people to ward them. They turned back with victory and good news to O Domhnaill and Mac Muiris. On the same occasion it happened to O Conor Kerry, Seaán, son of Conor, that his dwelling and chief castle, i.e., Carrigfoyle, was captured by him, which had been more than a year in the possession of the English, and he and the people of his dwelling-place made an alliance with O Domhnaill and bound his peace and friendship with him.

¶180] O Domhnaill was for the space of a week in Uí Conaill Gabhra, dominating and scourging everyone who was in alliance with the English, so that he enjoined upon them willynilly to part with them and to unite with him and with the Irish in general. After that O Domhnaill marched with his forces by the shoulder of Sliav Luachra, to Clann Auliffe, to Muskerry, and to Bandon in the Carberies. There came to him a great part of the Irish of the whole of Munster, being of one mind, and they entered into bonds and friendship with him for life, and they were glad and their minds rejoiced that he had come to them to invite their friendship, and they promised not to bow down before the English or the strangers, and to help them no more. However, Mac Carthaigh Riabhach i.e., Domhnall, son of Cormac na h-Aoine, nor the lord of Muskerry, i.e., Cormac, son of Diarmuid, son of Tadhg, did not come for peace to him, as the rest had come.

¶181] As for O Néill, i.e., Aodh, son of Feardorcha, son of Conn Bacach, son of Conn, son of Henry, son of Eóghan, he tarried awhile till everything was ready which he needed to bring on that expedition, and after his forces assembled to him, numerous and full-mustered, their journeyings are not


told of till they crossed the Boyne. He remained some time there preying and burning the territory of Bregha and Meath. He then went with his army through west Meath and east Munster over the Suir westwards without any remarkable deed worthy of remembrance being done by his troops, until they came to Bandon, where O Domhnaill was with his army.

¶182] When the Irish of the north had come together, the plan adopted by them and the Irish of the south (those of them who had joined their confederation) was to make their encampment to the north in Béal Guala in Kinelea, a short distance from the Lord Deputy's camp. They were for some time in this way face to face with each other, so that the Irish did not allow recourse or resort in or out to the English, and they placed them in intolerable straits and difficulties and in great want of food. The fear they had of the Irish did not allow them to send their steeds or horses to pasture or for grazing outside the walls, so that many of these and numbers of the soldiers also died owing to cold and hunger, having been reduced to the want of grass and water, corn and grain, straw and fuel, and everything they required, so that they were not able to bury outside the walls the corpses of the soldiers who died, the carrion of the horse and the body of the dead man were mixed among the living through the camp in the midst of them, so that there arose an intolerable stench from the whirlwind of air which arose from the corpses from the filth and the dirt of the lower part. It was the idea and opinion of many of themselves that the greater number of them would die if they were let alone without being attacked, owing to the plague and sickness, and the people who were alive would have gone away if they could find any means or way of escape at all. Meantime, the Spaniards were in great straits and helplessness, owing to the blockade carried on against them by the Lord Deputy with the forces of the English and Irish, and they did not cease urging the Irish to assist them, for they preferred to be killed immediately, though before this they would not endure insult or affront from their enemies or from anyone else


in the world, and they would be doomed to die together of cold and hunger. It was not so with the Irish, for they were vigorous and fierce, proud and courageous, not needing anything, for there was no prohibition for them to take from any place or any quarter far or near plenty of heavy beeves and long-fleeced sheep, and every kind of fresh meat, and every sort of provision, the best that was in Ireland. They were in that state up to the feast of the Nativity of the Saviour Jesus, and they proceeded to observe the feasts and the holy days, as was meet, the chief men in turn feasting and rejoicing together in delight and gladness of mind and soul, as if they were in their own great royal castles and in their chief residences, though then they were very far off from them.

¶183] Alas! soon these cries of joy and pleasure, which were raised so loud in those days of festivity, became cries of sorrow and anguish when they were separating from each other after a time, after being defeated by their enemies, and the people who were in sadness of mind, in want and scarcity of every food they sought, 'twas they had full and plenty after coming out of the captive straits in which they were put by them at that time. In those days there came mysterious letters and secret communications from Don Juan, the general of the Spaniards in Kinsale, to O Néill and O Domhnaill and the chief men in general, requesting them to make an attack on a certain night precisely on the camp of the Lord Deputy, the President, and the Earls who were with them, and that he himself would attack them with the Spaniards on the other side, to see if both of them could rescue him and the Spaniards out of the tight corner in which they were kept. Wherefore, O Néill, O Domhnaill, and the nobles went to take counsel in reference to that wish of the General.

¶184] O Néill then said that he would be slow to attack the English on account of the great strength of the firm, impregnable walls which were all round, filled in rows with loud-sounding, quick-shooting guns, and he said it was better not to relax the siege which they had laid upon the English


till they should die of hunger, as many of them had died already, and they would give up their noblest into their mercy and protection at last, and that he did not wish to gratify his enemies, for they were better pleased to fight for their lives and to be killed immediately than to die of plague and hunger. O Domhnaill's opinion, however, was that the English should be attacked somehow, for he felt it a shame and disgrace to be taunted with the great straits Don Juan and the Spaniards were in, without making an attempt to relieve them though his death should come of it, and besides, lest the Irish be thought little of and despised by the King of Spain, if they suffered his soldiers to be in hardships and straits from their enemies without being aided as they had requested.

¶185] However, this was the outcome. They decided in the end to attack the Lord Deputy and the English as they were asked. They separated thus till the night on which they were ordered to attack the camp. At nightfall they took their tunics of battle and their weapons of war quietly and silently, and they went in order and array as their chiefs and nobles, their leaders and counsellors directed them. It was a source of dispute and a cause of contention between the two principal chiefs who were over Cenél Conaill and Cenél Eóghain that neither of them would allow the other to march in front of him to attack and assail the English owing to the nobility of mind and excess of vigour of both, for each one of them thought it a reproach and disparagement to himself and his race for ever to allow the vanguard and the pathfinding to the other force before his own. The want of trust and the ill-will which grew up in their hearts towards each other for this reason were full of harm and ruin, of treachery and danger, so that there was not the urge for battle nor the joy in attack nor the firm steadfastness in either army, through jealousy and envy against the other army, and they were timid, languid, slow, cowardly, even before they entered on the great stress and endeavour in danger and peril of crossing swords with their enemies, so that it was hardly necessary for their enemies to employ arm


against them where they met on the battlefield. What happened to the two Aodhs then was a great omen of evil to them. With good reason, for never had the like or so much taken place as then between them as long as they lived, for they used to be of one thought and of one mind always from the beginning, even when they were not in each other's presence, for it was not often there sprang from their original stock two more loving towards each other than they. They spent much time in the early hours of the night in the dispute and contention which arose between them. The two noble hosts and armies marched at last side by side and shoulder to shoulder together, until they happened to lose their way and go astray, so that their guides and pathfinders could not hit upon the right road, though the winter night was very long and though the camp which they were to attack was very near them, till the time of sunrise on the next day, so that the sun was shining brightly on the face of the solid earth when O Néill's forces found their own flank at the Lord Deputy's camp, and they retired a short distance while their ranks and order would be reformed, for they had left the first order in which they had been drawn up through the straying and the darkness of the night.

¶186] As for the Lord Deputy and his army, there had come to him warning and foreknowledge from certain persons from the camp of the Irish that they would be attacked that night, so that he and his forces were standing to arms all night long till morning in their chosen passes and their gaps of danger and on their battlements with their war accoutrements, with all their implements of attack and defence in readiness, when they saw O Néill and his forces opposite them in the manner we have said. They were not long considering them till they fired a thick shower of round balls (to welcome them) from clean, beautiful big guns with well-oiled mechanism ? and from finely-ridged, costly muskets, and from sharp-aiming, quick-firing matchlocks and they threw upon them every other kind of shot and missile


besides. Then burst out over the walls against them nimble troops, hard to resist, of active, steady cavalry, who up to that were longing for the order to test the speed of their high-galloping horses on the plain. They allowed their foot to follow after, for they were certain that the hail of spherical bullets and the fierce attack of the troops would make destructive gaps in front of them among their enemies. Both armies were mingled together, maiming and wounding each other, so that many were slain on both sides. But in the end O Néill's forces were defeated, an unusual thing with them, and they fled swiftly away from the place, and the way the hurry urged them was to pour in on top of O Domhnaill's forces, who happened to be to the east of them and had not yet come to the field of battle. When that routed army of O Néill and the troops of the Lord Deputy's army following them and swiftly smiting their rear broke into the midst of O Domhnaill's people, wavering and unsteadiness seized on the soldiers, fright and terror on their horses, and though 'twas their desire and duty to remain on the field of battle, they could not, for it was not the will of the Lord to give victory to them then, for their ways did not please Him; God took away from the two noble, sensible, valorous peoples, the true, proven gifts, and the vigorous, enduring qualities which St. Patrick (when blessing Erin, men, women, boys and girls) left to the two famous, warlike brothers and to their posterity after them, i.e., to the glorious Conall Gulban and to Eóghan the warlike and aggressive. These were their gifts, the power of valour and attack to Eóghan, the power of triumph and steadfastness in the field to Conall; yet the famous races forgot their gifts on that occasion, so that the two hosts were defeated together by the forces of the Lord Deputy, and many of them were slain and slaughtered.

¶187] The Lord Deputy's forces returned after the victory in battle and the humbling of their enemies thus when they least expected it. Their ill-luck was clearly on Cenél Conaill and Cenél Eóghain that day, when it was their duty and their


greatest need to act bravely (since these two noble races both traced their descent from the heroic King Niall of the Nine Hostages); for they did not take heed to fight strongly, powerfully, zealously, mercilessly, in defence of their religion, fatherland and lives, in defence of their honour, nobility and splendour: so that their princes were left prone on the earth, their champions wounded, their chiefs pierced through, their heroes bone-fractured, their warriors mutilated; though before they were disgraced in that fashion, they had been esteemed as equals not merely in the presence of their enemies but also before the exiles and banished men of other races who came under their safety and protection before this when they were expelled and banished from, their territories and dwellings, and soon they made little account of the princes and of the chiefs who had been bushes of shelter and woods of refuge for them up to that, and they gave up all hope of help and aid from them to the end of the world.

¶188] Yet though there fell in that defeat at Kinsale so few of the Irish that they would not miss them after a while, and indeed did not miss even then, yet there was not lost in any defeat in recent times in Ireland so much as was lost there. There was lost there to begin with the one island which was most productive and fruitful, most temperate in heat and cold in the greater part of Europe, in which there was much honey and wheat, with many fish-abounding rivers, waterfalls and estuaries, in which were calm, profitable harbours, as the first man of the race of Gaedhel Glas, son of Niul, who came to Ireland gave this testimony, i.e., Ith, son of Breogan, in the presence of the last kings who were of the Tuatha Dé Danann over Éire. There were lost there all who escaped of the noble freeborn sons of Míl, valiant, impetuous chiefs, lords of territories and tribes, chieftains of districts and cantreds; for it is full certain that there never will be in Erin at any time together people better or more famous that the nobles who were there, and who died afterwards in other countries one after another, after being robbed of


their patrimony and of their noble land which they left to their enemies in that defeat. There were lost besides nobility and honour, generosity and great deeds, hospitality and kindliness, courtesy and noble birth, culture and activity, strength and courage, valour and steadfastness, the authority and sovereignty of the Gaels of Ireland to the end of time.

¶189] When the forces of the Lord Deputy went away with shout of victory and triumph, as we have said, the Irish retreated westwards to Inis Eóghanáin that night, and they set to consult hastily, uneasily, blaming and reproaching one another. Some of them said that they ought to close in once more the siege of the Lord Deputy's camp and not raise it at all on account of those of their people who had fallen, and that their war strength was no weaker for their losses, for they were enough for battle without them, if fate and good-luck helped them. Other parties said that it was best that each prince and each lord of a district should return to defend his own patrimony and protect it against the English as long as he could. O Domhnaill, however, said he would not go back to his country, nor would he remain any longer at the siege, and he promised in presence of the chiefs of the men of Erin who were there, that he would not stand fast in battle or conflict to maintain warfare along with the Irish alone, especially in company with the party which had been routed at the first blow then; for rage and fury had seized him, and he would have been pleased had he been the first man slain in that defeat rather than witness that calamity which the Irish met. His own people were greatly afraid that he would bring on his death, through the suffering which seized him, so that he did not sleep nor eat in comfort for three days and three nights after. It was on the 3rd of January, 1602, that defeat of Kinsale was suffered.