Archbishop John Comyn

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XVIII

The Archbishop of Dublin became an important functionary from this period. Henry obtained the election of John Comyn to this dignity, at the Monastery of Evesham, in Worcester, and the King granted the archiepiscopal estates to him "in barony," by which tenure he and his successors in the see were constituted parliamentary barons, and entitled to sit in the councils, and hold court in their lordships and manors. Comyn, after his election by the clergy of Dublin, proceeded to Rome, where he was ordained priest, and subsequently to Veletri, where Pope Lucius III. consecrated him archbishop. He then came to Dublin, A.D. 1184, where preparations were making for the reception of Henry's son, John, who, it will be remembered, he had appointed King of Ireland when a mere child.

In 1183 the unfortunate Irish monarch, Roderic, had retired to the Abbey of Cong, and left such empty titles as he possessed to his son, Connor. De Lacy and De Courcy had occupied themselves alternately in plundering and destroying the religious houses which had so long existed, and in founding new monasteries with a portion of their ill-gotten gains. It would appear that De Lacy built so far on his popularity with the Anglo-Normans, as to have aspired to the sovereignty of Ireland,—an aspiration which his master soon discovered, and speedily punished. He was supplanted by Philip of Worcester, who excelled all his predecessors in rapacity and cruelty. Not satisfied with the miseries inflicted on Ulster by De Courcy, he levied contributions there by force of arms. One of his companions, Hugh Tyrrell, who "remained at Armagh, with his Englishmen, during six days and nights, in the middle of Lent," signalized himself by carrying off the property of the clergy of Armagh. Amongst other things, he possessed himself of a brewing-pan, which he was obliged to abandon on his way, he met so many calamities, which were naturally attributed to his sacrilegious conduct.[6]


[6] Conduct.—This is mentioned even by Cox, who, Dr. O'Donovan observes, was always anxious to hide the faults of the English, and vilify the Irish. He calls Hugh Tyrrell "a man of ill report," and says he returned to Dublin "loaden both with curses and extortions."—Hib. Angl. p. 38, ad an. 1184.