Irish War Cries forbidden

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

« start... Chapter XXIII. ...continued

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The Irish war-cries [8] which had been adopted by the English lords were forbidden, and they were commanded to call upon St. George or the King of England. The Statutes of Kilkenny were confirmed, with the exception of the one which forbid the use of the Irish language. As nearly all the English settlers had adopted it, such an enactment could not possibly have been carried out. Three of the principal nobles of the country were absent from this assembly: Maurice, Earl of Desmond, was in arms on behalf of Warbeck; Gerald, Earl of Kildare, was charged with treason; and Thomas, Earl of Ormonde, was residing in England.

The Earl of Kildare was sent to England to answer the charges of treason which were brought against him. Henry had discovered that Poyning's mission had not been as successful as he expected, and what, probably, influenced him still more, that it had proved very expensive.[9] He has the credit of being a wise king in many respects, notwithstanding his avariciousness; and he at once saw that Kildare would be more useful as a friend, and less expensive, if he ceased to be an enemy. The result was the pardon of the "rebel," his marriage with the King's first cousin, Elizabeth St. John, and his restoration to the office of Deputy. His quick-witted speeches, when examined before the King, took the royal fancy. He was accused of having burned the Cathedral of Cashel, to revenge himself on the Archbishop, who had sided with his enemy, Sir James Ormonde. There was a great array of witnesses prepared to prove the fact; but the Earl excited shouts of laughter by exclaiming: "I would never have done it, had it not been told me the Archbishop was within."

The Archbishop was present, and one of his most active accusers. The King then gave him leave to choose his counsel, and time to prepare his defence. Kildare exclaimed that he doubted if he should be allowed to choose the good fellow whom he would select. Henry gave him his hand as an assurance of his good faith. "Marry," said the Earl, "I can see no better man in England than your Highness, and will choose no other." The affair ended by his accusers declaring that "all Ireland could not rule this Earl," to which Henry replied: "Then, in good faith, shall this Earl rule all Ireland."[1]

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[8] War-cries.—That of the Geraldines of Kildare was Cromadh-abu, from Croom Castle, in Limerick; the war-cry of the Desmond Geraldines was Seanaid-abu, from Shannid Castle.

[9] Expensive.—English writers accuse Henry of miserable avariciousness. He is accused of having consented to the execution of Sir William Stanley, who had saved his life, for the sake of his enormous wealth.—Lingard's History of England, vol. v. p. 308. He is also accused, by a recent writer, of having seized the wealth of the Queen Dowager, because he chose to believe that she had assisted Simnel.—Victoria History of England, p. 223.

[1] Ireland.—On one occasion, when the Earl and Sir James Ormonde had a quarrel, the latter retired into the chapter-house of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the door of which he closed and barricaded. The Earl requested him to come forth, and pledged his honour for his safety. As the knight still feared treachery, a hole was cut in the door, through which Kildare passed his hand; and after this exploit, Ormonde came out, and they embraced each other.


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