Battle of Dundalk

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

« start... Chapter XIII. ...continued

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"When the army of Munster arrived near Armagh, they learnt the prisoners had been removed thence by Sitric, and placed on board ship. Enraged at this disappointment, they gave no quarter to the Danes, and advanced rapidly to Dundalk, where the fleet lay, with the king and young prince on board. Sitric, unable to withstand the opposing army on shore, ordered his troops to embark, and resolved to avoid the encounter through means of his ships. While the baffled Irish army were chafing at this unexpected delay to their hoped for vengeance, they espied, from the shore of Dundalk, where they encamped, a sail of ships, in regular order, steering with a favourable gale towards the Danish fleet moored in Dundalk bay. Joy instantly filled their hearts; for they recognized the fleet of Munster, with the admiral's vessel in the van, and the rest ranged in line of battle.

The Danes were taken by surprise; they beheld an enemy approach from a side where they rather expected the raven flag of their country floating on the ships. The Munster admiral gave them no time to form. He steered straight to Sitric's vessel, and, with his hardy crew, sprang on board. Here a sight met his gaze which filled his heart with rage; he saw his beloved monarch, Callaghan, and the young prince, tied with cords to the main-mast. Having, with his men, fought through the Danish troops to the side of the king and prince, he cut the cords and set them free. He then put a sword into the hands of the rescued king, and they fought side by side: Meanwhile Sitric, and his brothers, Tor and Magnus, did all they could to retrieve the fortunes of the day. At the head of a chosen band they attacked the Irish admiral, and he fell, covered with wounds. His head, exposed by Sitric on a pole, fired the Danes with hope—the Irish with tenfold rage. Fingal, next in rank to Failbhe Fion, took the command, and determined to avenge his admiral. Meeting the Danish ruler in the combat, he seized Sitric round the neck, and flung himself with his foe into the sea, where both perished. Seagdor and Connall, two captains of Irish ships, imitated this example—threw themselves upon Tor and Magnus, Sitric's brothers, and jumped with them overboard, when all were drowned. These desperate deeds paralysed the energy of the Danes, and the Irish gained a complete victory in Dundalk bay.

The Irish fleet having thus expelled the pirates from their coast, came into harbour, where they were received with acclamations of joy by all who witnessed their bravery. Such is a summary of Keating's poetic account of this day's achievements; and there are extant fuller accounts in various pieces of native poetry, especially one entitled 'The Pursuit after Callaghan of Cashel, by the Chief of Munster, after he had been entrapped by the Danes.'"

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