Entrenchment of New Ross

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

« start... Chapter XX. ...continued

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The quarrels of the invaders now became so general, that even the Lord Justice was seized at a conference by FitzMaurice FitzGerald, and was detained prisoner, with several other nobles, for some time. During the wars between De Burgo (or Burke) and FitzGerald, the good people of Ross threatened to defend their town from all invaders; and to effect this purpose the council commanded all the citizens to assist in erecting the necessary fortifications. Even the ladies [2] and clergy [3] took part in the works, which were soon and successfully completed.

An Anglo-Norman poet commemorated this event in verse, and celebrates the fame of Rose, a lady who contributed largely to the undertaking, both by her presence and her liberal donations. He informs us first of the reason for this undertaking. It was those two troublesome knights, "sire Morice e sire Wauter," who would not permit the world to be at peace. He assures us that the citizens of New Ross were most anxious for peace, because they were merchants, and had an extensive trade, which was quite true; but he adds that they were determined to defend their rights if attacked, which was also true.

The poet also compliments the ladies, and thinks that the man would be happy who could have his choice of them. He also informs us they were to build a "Ladies' Gate," where there should be a prison in which all who gave offence to the fair sex should be confined at their pleasure. Of a surety, New Ross must have been the paradise of ladies in those days. We have not ascertained whether its fair citizens retain the same potent sway in the present century.

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[2] Ladies.—

"Tantz bele dames ne vi en fossée,
Mult fu cil en bon sire née,
Re purreit choisir à sa volonté.

[3] Clergy.—

"E les prestres, quant on chanté,
Si vont ovrir au fossé,
E travellent mut durement,
Plus qe ne funt autre gent."

This ballad has been published, with a translation by W. Crofton Croker.


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