Sir Amoric St. Lawrence

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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St. Lawrence, Sir Armoric, the progenitor of the present Earl of Howth, a knight, who, about 1177, accompanied his brother-in-law and sworn companion, Sir John de Courcy, in an expedition to the Irish shores. After a bloody battle at the "bridge of Ivora," near Howth, in which several of his relatives were killed, he won the district that has ever since remained in his family. He afterwards accompanied De Courcy on his northern expeditions. In 1189, when St. Lawrence, with 30 knights and 200 footmen, was absent on an incursion into Connaught, news reached him that his friend was sorely pressed by the Irish, and he hastened to join him. His band was intercepted by an overwhelming force under O'Conor, King of Connaught. Escape was impossible, unless the knights were willing to abandon the footmen.

Lodge gives us the words of a stirring appeal of St. Lawrence to his companions: "Who will, may save his life by flight on horseback, if he can; but assuredly my heart will not suffer me to leave these my poor friends in their necessity... My heart to my brother, Sir John Courcy and wife; my force, might, pain, and good will to my poor friends and fellows here." The narrative continues: "Thus he spoke kneeling, and kissing the cross of his sword, thrust it through his horse, saying he should never serve against them with whom he so truly and worthily had served afore. His example was followed by all the horsemen, except two young gentlemen, whom he ordered to stand on the next hill to see the battle, and after it was over, to carry the news to his brother. .. This done, he engaged the enemy; .. but, being overpowered by numbers, he and his party perished to a man." His two youngest sons were slain in helping to defend their uncle, De Courcy, against De Lacy's men, in the churchyard of Downpatrick, on Good Friday, 1203 or 1204. His eldest son, Sir Nicholas, was confirmed in the lordship of Howth, by King John. Sir Armoric's sword is said still to hang in the hall of Howth Castle.

Sources

5. Anglo-Normans, History of the Invasion of Ireland by the: Gerald H. Supple. Dublin, 1856.

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