The Siege of Dunboy (continued)

On the 1st of June the Earl of Thomond and Sir Charles Wilmot's regiments were embarked for Beare Island; on the 2nd Sir Richard Percy's regiment followed; and lastly the Lord President. There was some difficulty in landing the pieces of battery on the island, but this was effected eventually underneath the church, probably where the present pier stands.

On the 5th of June, Thomond, with the knowledge and consent of the Lord President, sought an interview with Macgeoghegan, the Constable of the Castle, and this took place on the western end of the island. He thought he might be able to corrupt the Constable by promises and bribes, but in this he failed. Macgeoghegan, who belonged to a once powerful sept in Westmeath, could not be corrupted. He advised Thomond not to hazard his life by attempting to land on the main, for " I know," said he, " that you must land on yonder Sandy bay, where before your coming the place will be so intrenched and gabioned that you must run upon assured death."

On the 6th, being Sunday, a wild and rough morning, the President very early rode out, accompanied by one attendant. He went two or three miles to the west of the island, where he got a view of the Sandy bay, Caematrunane, the place where the Irish thought he would land. He saw that it was well fortified. He then got a pinnace and went across to Dinish Island. This island is separated from Sandy bay by a narrow sound. He examined the place carefully, and found it would suit his purposes. The middle of the island was high ground, and so he could land his army on the east end of it, or on the mainland, without being seen by the enemy. He also found near at hand a natural platform, whereon he might plant his cannons to protect his forces while landing. The President and the Earl of Thomond's regiments were then embarked, and were landed at Dinish Island. They were formed into a battalion, and ordered to face the enemy as if he intended to attack them, and thus force a landing at Caematrunane.

Sir Richard Percy and Sir Charles Wilmot's regiments were likewise embarked, but they were landed on the main land under shelter of the island, and were landed before the Irish discovered the deception. The two first regiments then crossed in boats, while the Irish ran from Sandy bay to oppose them. They had to travel over a mile of rough country without a road, and had to cross a rapid river without a bridge, so when they came up all were landed. " Nevertheless," states the Pacata Hibernia, " they came on bravely, but our falcons made them halt." Twenty-eight of the Irish were slain and thirty wounded. There were two prisoners taken and presently hanged. Seven of the English were wounded. The army encamped that night about Castledermot, which was at the eastern end of the present Castletown. No trace of the castle remains, and the residence of Dr. Lyne occupies the place where it stood.

On the 7th the army encamped within a mile of Dunboy. The President, taking with him Sir Charles Wilmot and a guard of 100 men, went out to reconnoitre the castle and surrounding ground. Contrary to the opinion of all, he found good ground for encamping, about 240 yards west of the castle, but out of sight of it by reason of high ground intervening. He also found, not 140 yards distant from the castle, a natural platform for planting his cannons. On the 8th two falcons were mounted near the camp, which played on those working about the Castle, but they did not hurt anyone, the range being too long.

There was some difficulty in transporting the ordnance. It was decided to put the cannon into small boats which were to sail through a small creek called Faha Dhuv, and the entrance to this creek was commanded by the guns of the castle, but nearly a mile from it. Captain Slingsby volunteered to perform the task if he was provided with thirty musketeers. He placed those in the hold of the vessel, from which they kept up constant firing. Many shots were fired from the castle at them, but no one was hurt, probably because the guns failed to carry so far.

On the 11th the English entrenched their camp and mounted their ordnance. On the 12th a contingent of 160 men, under Captain John Bostock, accompanied by Owen O'Sullivan and Lieutenant Downing, embarked in four boats for Dursey Island, and arrived there early the next morning. A landing was made on the north side of the island, where they found the walls of a ruined monastery constructed, Philip O'Sullivan says, by Bonaventura, a Spanish bishop, and long destroyed by pirates. A party of men under Lieutenant Downing were stationed there. Then the Captain got into a boat and rowed around the island, with the view of discovering a fit landing place. He decided to land the body of his men on the east of the island, and sent word to Lieutenant Downing that at the very instant the forces were landing he should deliver an attack on the north side of the fort held by the Irish. The fort was now attacked from three different points. The defence was stubborn at first, but after some time the outer work and three Spanish cannons were abandoned by the Irish. They fought in the inner fort for two hours, and then surrendered on condition that their lives were spared. They were all carried to the camp and executed. Five hundred milch cows were taken from the islanders.

On the 13th Tyrell made a night attack on the English camp, but he was repulsed. On the 16th the trenches were finished, and three cannons were planted 140 yards from the castle. On the 17th, about five o'clock in the morning, the cannons, consisting of one demi-cannon, two whole culverins, and one demi-culverin, began to play on the castle. About nine o'clock in the forenoon a turret annexed to the castle on which an iron falcon was placed, and which kept up a constant fire on the English battery, tumbled down, many being killed by the falling masonry. The ordnance then played on the west front of the castle, which, by one o'clock, was forced down. Upon the fall thereof the Irish sent a messenger offering to surrender if their lives were spared, and allowed to depart with their arms. The President handed him over to the marshal, by whose orders he was presently executed. Carew would have saved the lives of many of his men if he had come to terms with the enemy, but the shedding of blood did not affect him. Now the Lord President thought everything ready for an assault, and he ordered his men to enter the castle. At this moment the great carnage commenced. The English rushed in through the breach.

The besieged poured on them shot and stones, and ran them through with pikes and felled them with their swords, repelling gallantly the attack. The English thereupon drew their artillery nearer to the castle and made a greater breach. The Irish, who were only about 140 strong from the first, had now lost many of their men, and, owing to the wreckage that surrounded them, they were unable to use their arms with advantage, so the English rushed through the breach and into the great hall, where a bloody conflict ensued. The English lost many in this hall, and they had to quit it, leaving behind many dead. The English now brought fresh men to the attack, and the Irish were wearied, and wounded after long fighting. After a sharp contest they entered the breach, and seven companies carried their colours into the hall.

Many fell on both sides, and there were heaps of dead bodies in the hall, on which ran streams of blood. Amongst the others, MacGeoghegan fell, half dead, covered with many wounds—not one of the Irish remained unwounded. At this stage some forty of the Irish made a sally out of the castle to the seaside, but they were surrounded by the enemy and put to death. Eight tried to save their lives by swimming, but Captain Harvey and Thomas Stafford kept guard over the sea and shot them down. Those of the Irish that were able, 77 in number, had now to betake themselves to the cellars, where the fight was continued with great vigour. Dominick Collins, formerly a cavalier in the French army, and now a Jesuit, rendered himself up, and was some time after carried to Youghal, his native town, in which he was executed. It was now sunset, and the English army withdrew to their camp, leaving a strong guard over those in the cellars.

On the 18th, in the morning, twenty-three yielded, with two Spaniards and one Italian. Thomas Taylor, an Englishman's son, was appointed commander and relieved Richard MacGeoghegan, who was mortally wounded. The new commander drew into the vault of the castle nine barrels of powder, and, with a lighted match in his hand, threatened to blow up all near the castle if they did not obtain promise of life. He was eventually prevailed upon by his companions to render himself unconditionally. There were 48 more with him in the cellar, and when Sir George Thornton, Captain Harvey and Captain Power came into the cellar to receive their submission, Richard MacGeoghegan, perceiving that the Irish were about to surrender, " raised himself from the ground, caught a lighted candle, and staggered towards a barrel of powder," which he would have ignited had not Captain Power taken him in his arms, and he was instantly killed by some soldiers. Thus died the bravest of the brave! The Pacata Hibernia states:—" The whole number of the ward consisted of 143 selected fighting men, being the best choice of all their forces, of which not one man escaped, but they were either slain, or executed, or buried in the ruins, and so obstinate and resolved a defence had not been seen within this kingdom." Those men were chiefly drawn from Westmeath and Connaught, and trained by Tyrell, a great commander. The English lost about 600 men at the siege of Dunboy. Carew had an army of 4,000 or 5,000 under his command, of whom scarcely 500 were English.

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