DERMOT MAC MURROGH

From A Concise History of Ireland by P. W. Joyce

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189. During the time that the two O'Conors were struggling with Murkertagh O'Loghlin, Dermot Mac Murrogh was king of Leinster. This Dermot, who was in after times often called Dermot-na-Gall (of the English), was a man of great size and strength, stern in manner, brave and fierce in war; and his voice was loud and hoarse from constant shouting in battle. He was cruel, tyrannical, and treacherous, and was hated in his own day as much as his memory has been hated ever since. His whole life was a record of violence and villainy.

190. In 1152, a few months after the battle of Moanmore, where he had fought on the side of O'Conor, he carried off Dervorgilla the wife of Ternan O'Ruarc prince of Brefney, while O'Ruarc himself was absent from home; and she took away with her all she had brought to her husband as dowry. O'Ruarc appealed for redress to Turlogh O'Conor king of Ireland, who in 1153 marched with an army into Leinster and forced Dermot to restore Dervorgilla and all her rich dowry. She retired after a little time to the abbey of Mellifont, where she spent the rest of her days doing works of penitence and charity, and where she died in 1193 at the age of 85.

191. So long as king Murkertagh O'Loghlin lived he befriended Dermot and secured him in possession of Leinster. But when that king was slain in 1166, Ternan O'Ruarc led an army against Dermot, composed of the men of Brefney and Meath, joined by the Dano-Irish of Dublin under their king Hasculf Mac Turkill, and by the incensed people of Leinster. Seeing that resistance was hopeless, Dermot, breathing vengeance, fled across the sea, resolved to seek the aid of the great king Henry II. of England.

192. Many years before this time Nicholas Breakspear, an Englishman who had been elected Pope with the title of Adrian IV., influenced by an unfair and exaggerated account of the evil state of religion in Ireland, given to him by an envoy of king Henry, issued a bull authorizing the king to take possession of Ireland. Some writers have questioned the issue of this bull. But the evidence is overwhelming on the other side; and there is no sufficient reason to doubt that the Pope, moved by misrepresentations, did really issue the bull, with the firm conviction that it would be for the advancement of religion and for the good of Ireland.

193. Dermot presented himself before the king at Aquitaine, in 1168, and prayed him for help against his enemies, offering to hold his kingdom of Leinster under him, and to acknowledge him as lord and master. The king eagerly accepted the offer; but being then too busy with the affairs of his own kingdom to go himself, he gave Dermot letters, permitting any of his British or French subjects that pleased to join the expedition.

194. With these letters Dermot proceeded to Bristol, where he engaged the services of Richard de Clare earl of Pembroke, better known by the name of Strongbow; on condition that the earl should get Dermot's daughter Eva in marriage, and should succeed him as king of Leinster.

At St. David's in Wales he engaged a number of the Geraldines, among them Maurice Fitzgerald and Robert Fitzstephen, to whom he promised the town of Wexford and the adjoining district. After this he returned to Ferns where he remained concealed during the winter.

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