Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The History of Ulster
Mountjoy's Methods

Sir George Carew appointed President of Munster - Sir Henry Docwra given Command at Lough Foyle - Death of Tyrone's son-in-law, Hugh Maguire, and of Sir Warham St. Leger - Tyrone leaves Munster - His Continental Allies - Ormonde taken Prisoner by Owny MacRory - Docwra builds Forts at Derry - Tyrone attacks Mountjoy - Sir Art O'Neill joins the English.

When Mountjoy became Lord Deputy several minor posts became vacant, and the Deputy was naturally asked as to who should fill them. One of these was the Presidency of Munster, rendered vacant by the death of Sir Thomas Norris, and the duties of which were attended to by Sir Warham St. Leger and Sir Henry Power as acting commissioners for the Province. Mountjoy, as we have seen, named Sir George Carew (later Earl of Totnes), who was appointed Lord President and accompanied Mountjoy to Ireland. Another important post was that of Commander of the Forces of Lough Foyle, and for this Mountjoy nominated Sir Henry Docwra, who had served under Bingham in Connaught, and under Essex at Cadiz. The fortifications at Lough Foyle were manned with a force consisting of 4000 foot and 200 horse, while by official orders from England 3000 foot and 250 horse were allotted to the Presidency of Munster, leaving under the Deputy's immediate control a force of about 5000 men.

In the meantime, Tyrone, taking advantage of these changes in the government of the country, did what he liked in Munster. Early in March (1600) he encamped at Inishcarra, between the Rivers Lee and Bandon, about eight miles from Cork, where he remained twenty days, during which Florence MacCarthy, of Carberry, and the O'Donohoes, O'Donovans, Donnell O'Sullivan Beare, the O'Mahonys, and many others, either submitted and paid homage to him in person, or sent presents as tokens of submission.

While thus encamped at Inishcarra, Tyrone suffered a very severe loss. One of his trustiest lieutenants was his son-in-law, Hugh Maguire, who, while exploring the countryside, accompanied only by a priest and two horsemen named MacCaffry and O'Durneen, met Sir Warham St. Leger and Sir Henry Power, the acting commissioners of Munster, riding in advance of a party of sixty horse. Maguire was renowned among the Irish for his bravery and skill, and St. Leger was by no means an unworthy foe. Not dismayed by the number of the enemy, Maguire, half-pike in hand, rode at St. Leger, who fired his pistol at the Irish chief as he approached, mortally wounding him. Maguire, notwithstanding, urged his horse forward, and transfixed St. Leger, who turned his head in a vain endeavour to avoid the blow, and thus the two leaders fell by each other's hands.

The death of Maguire and the news that the new Lord Deputy was marching against him from Dublin determined Tyrone to withdraw rather precipitately from Munster. Leaving behind him 1800 men, under the command of Richard Tyrrell, he marched through the east of Cork, and, travelling sometimes at the rate of twenty-seven miles a day, he eluded Mountjoy, who thought while the Earls of Ormonde and Thomond guarded the passes near Limerick and west of the Shannon he should find it easy to cut off Tyrone's retreat to Ulster. In this, however, he was mistaken. Notwithstanding the precautions taken to intercept his march, Tyrone arrived in his own territory without striking a blow or even seeing an enemy. Thus the authorities had " the great dishonour of this traitor passing home to his den unfought with".

From the painting by Van Somer in Hampton Court Palace

Tyrone's position was now, in some respects, that of uncrowned King of Ireland. The fame of his victory at the Blackwater had spread throughout the Continent, and had given the best contradiction to many false reports of the total subjugation of the Irish. Matthew of Oviedo, a Spaniard, who had been nominated Archbishop of Dublin by the Pope, brought indulgences to all those who had fought for the Catholic faith in Ireland, and to Tyrone himself a crown of Phoenix feathers; while from Philip III, who had succeeded in 1598 Philip II as King of Spain, he brought the sum of 22,000 golden pieces to pay the Irish soldiers. But though Tyrone was now back in Ulster his allies and agents were still in the south. He had left, as we have seen, 1800 men behind him when he marched north. These were left with Dermot O'Conor Don and Redmond Burke to aid the Earl of Desmond in carrying on the war in Munster.

A meeting was held in Dublin in April (1600), at which Mountjoy, Ormonde, Thomond, Carew, and Docwra were present, and plans were drawn up for the reconquest of Ireland, and on the 7th of April Carew, as President of Munster, set out for his province, having been preceded by the two earls. He reached Kilkenny on the third day, and his company of 100 horse were billeted on the neighbourhood by Ormonde's directions. A conference between Ormonde and Owny MacRory having been arranged for loth April, Ormonde met him a few miles from Kilkenny, being accompanied at the parley by the Earl of Thomond and Sir George Carew, and attended by some forty mounted men, composed chiefly of "lawyers, merchants, and others, upon hackneys", and with no other weapons save the swords ordinarily worn. Leaving a company of 200 foot about two miles short of the meeting-place, Ormonde proceeded to meet MacRory at a point between Ballyragget and Ballinakill in the Queen's County. Owny brought with him a picked troop of spearmen, leaving in his rear 500 foot and 20 horse, "the best furnished for war and the best apparelled that we have seen in this kingdom", 300 of them being Ulster mercenaries left by Tyrone on his return to the North. The two parties met upon a heath sloping down towards a narrow defile, and with a bushy wood on either side, "the choice of which ground" says Carew, "we much misliked".

Father James Archer, an Irish Jesuit, famous for his heroic zeal in the cause of his religion and his country, being a Kilkenny man, accompanied MacRory (who called himself The O'More), and entered into an animated discussion with Ormonde. They spoke in English, and, as the argument was heated, the Earl called the Jesuit a traitor, while Archer retaliated by asserting that he was no traitor, the Pope being the Sovereign of Ireland, His Holiness having excommunicated Elizabeth; whereupon Ormonde referred to the Pope in contemptuous tones, and the priest, who was old and unarmed, being irate, raised his cane. No sooner had he done so than a young man named Melaghlin O'More, dreading, perhaps, some violence to Archer, rushed forward and seized the reins of the Earl's horse, and almost at the same moment one or two Irishmen pulled Ormonde from his saddle. Others, wrote Carew and Thomond, "tried to seize us too. We had more hanging on us than is credibly to be believed; but our horses were strong and by that means did break through them, tumbling down on all sides those that were before and behind us; and thanks be to God, we escaped the pass of their pikes, which they freely bestowed and the flinging of their skeynes. . . . Owen MacRory laid hands on me the President, and, next unto God, I must thank my Lord of Thomond for my escape, who thrust his horse upon him. And at my back a rebel, newly protected at my suit, called Brian MacDonogh Kavanagh, being afoot, did me good service. For the rest I must thank my horse, whose strength bore down all about him." In the melee one man on either side was slain, and Ormonde and fourteen of his people made prisoners. Thomond received the stab of a pike in his back, but the wound did not prove dangerous. Ormonde remained a prisoner in O'More's hands until the 12th of June, when he was set at liberty at the desire of Tyrone, to whom the Countess of Ormonde applied for his liberation. He then wrote to the Queen: "It may please your sacred Majesty to be advertised that it pleased God of His Goodness to deliver me, though weak and sick, from the most malicious, arrogant and vile traitor of the world, Owen MacRory, forced to put into his hands certain hostages for payment of ^3000, if at any time hereafter I shall seek revenge against him or his, which manner of agreement, although it be very hard, could not be obtained before he saw me in that extremity and weakness, as I was like, very shortly, to have ended my life in his hands."

There were at this time rumours that Ormonde's only child, his daughter and heiress, was to be married in time to come to one of Tyrone's sons. The idea was repudiated on both sides. Tyrone denied it, but took a singular interest in Ormonde's welfare. "Use him honourably," he wrote to O'More from Dungannon, "but keep him very sure until he be sent hither by the help of yourself and such as we have appointed for that purpose. Therefore be not tempted to enlarge him upon any proffer, for if you will desire ransom you shall have money and gold at my hands." Seeing that O'More would not part with his prisoner, Tyrone wrote that he had not desire to have Ormonde's daughter, "for by demanding her, men would say that I should have her for my son". Ormonde, on the other hand, dismissed the idea with contempt: "For any motion", wrote he, "of marriage of my daughter to any of that base traitor Tyrone's brood, upon my duty of allegiance to your Highness, I never thought of any like matter, neither was it demanded of me."

On the 1 6th of May a fleet from England arrived in Lough Foyle, having touched, in its passage, at Carrickfergus to take up some troops that had marched from Dublin. This fleet conveyed an army of 4000 foot and 200 horse, under the command of Sir Henry Docwra, and on board were master carpenters and master masons, with spars and battens for building, and a large quantity of tools and victuals were also provided. Sufficient forethought was exhibited in the provision of 100 flock beds in case of sickness, for Randolph's experiences were remembered. There were also three pieces of cannon. The troops disembarked at Culmore, on the Donegal side of the bay, and constructed a fort there, in which Lancelot Atford was left with 600 men; and after visiting Ellogh, or Aileach, where Captain Ellis Flood was placed with 150 men, Sir Henry marched on the 22nd to Derry, where he resolved to erect two forts, and to make a chief plantation. Docwra found Derry "A place in the manner of an island comprehending within it forty acres of ground, whereon were the ruins of an old abbey, of a bishop's house, of two churches, and at one of the ends of it an old castle, the river called Lough Foyle encompassing it all on one side, and a bog, most commonly wet and not easily passable except in two or three places, dividing it from the mainland . . . the ground being high, and therefore dry, and healthy to dwell upon. At that end where the old castle stood, being close to the waterside, I presently resolved to raise a fort to keep our store of ammunition and victuals in, and in the other a little above, where the walls of an old cathedral church were yet standing, to erect another for our future safety and retreat unto upon all occasions." The buildings Docwra erected at Derry were constructed chiefly from the materials of ancient churches which he found there, and from the remains of the monastery of St. Columbcille. Two ships were sent along the coast for- timber and building materials, and a strong party were sent to cut birch in O'Cahan's woods on the other side of the Foyle. "There was", Docwra declared, "not a stick brought home that was not well fought for"; and added, "of cockle shells to make a lime we discovered infinite plenty of in a little island in the mouth of the harbour as we came in."

To divert Tyrone's attention from the building operations at Derry, Mountjoy made a feint of entering his territory by the Blackwater, in fact the Lord Deputy made, or attempted to make, more than one incursion into Ulster. On the last of these occasions he was repulsed by Tyrone at the Moyry Pass, between Dundalk and Newry; but, owing to some remissness on the part of the Irish, Mountjoy soon after penetrated beyond the pass. Here, however, he was vigorously attacked by Tyrone, and returned to Dublin without effecting any object.

The Irish chiefs then hastened to attack the invaders at Lough Foyle, but the latter stood only on the defensive, and, having entrenched themselves behind strong works, were able to resist the assaults of Tyrone, O'Donnell, and their allies with little loss. A part of the original plan agreed to in Dublin was that 1000 foot and 50 horse, under the command of Captain Matthew Morgan, should be detached from the expedition and sail to Ballyshannon to build another fort there ; but this idea was abandoned, and all the troops were found few enough for Docwra's enterprise. The ranks of the royal troops were soon greatly strengthened by the accession of some renegade Irish, the first to come in being Sir Art O'Neill, son of Turlough Lynnagh, who joined Docwra, with a few followers, on the 1st of June, and the garrison combined the pleasure of hunting cows for their own consumption and in skirmishing with the O'Cahans and O'Dogherties.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus