Black Monday

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XIX

The year before his arrival, Dublin had been desolated by a pestilence, and a number of people from Bristol had taken advantage of the decrease in the population to establish themselves there. On the Easter Monday after their arrival, when they had assembled to amuse themselves in Cullen's Wood, the O'Byrnes and O'Tooles rushed down upon them from the Wicklow Mountains, and took a terrible vengeance for the many wrongs they had suffered, by a massacre of some three hundred men. The citizens of Bristol sent over new colonists; but the anniversary of the day was long known as Black Monday.

The English King obtained money for his travelling expenses by extortion from the unfortunate Jews. He landed at Crook, near Waterford, on the 20th June, 1210. His army was commanded by the Earl of Salisbury, son to Henry I., by "Fair Rosamond," of tragic memory. De Braose fled to England when he heard of the King's movements. Here he endeavoured to make peace with his master, but failing to do so, he carefully avoided putting himself in his power, and took refuge in France. His wife was not so fortunate. After John's return to England, Matilda and her son were seized by his command, and imprisoned at Corfe Castle, in the isle of Pembroke. Here they were shut up in a room, with a sheaf of wheat and a piece of raw bacon for their only provision. When the prison door was opened on the eleventh day, they were both found dead.

De Lacy also fled before the King's visit; John took Carrickfergus Castle from his people, and stationed a garrison of his own there. Several Irish princes paid homage to him; amongst others we find the names of Cathal Crovderg and Hugh O'Neill. The Norman lords were also obliged to swear fealty, and transcripts of their oaths were placed in the Irish Exchequer. Arrangements were also made for the military support of the colony, and certain troops were to be furnished with forty days' ration by all who held lands by "knight's service." The Irish princes who lived in the southern and western parts of Ireland, appear to have treated the King with silent indifference; they could afford to do so, as they were so far beyond the reach of his vengeance.

John remained only sixty days in Ireland. He returned to Wales on the 26th of August, 1210, after confiding the government of the colony to John de Grey, Bishop of Norwich, whose predilection for secular affairs had induced the Holy See to refuse his nomination to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. The most important act of his Viceroyalty was the erection of a bridge and castle at Ath-Luain (Athlone). He was succeeded, in 1213, by Henry de Londres, who had been appointed to the see of Dublin during the preceding year. This prelate was one of those who were the means of obtaining Magna Charta. His name appears second on the list of counsellors who advised the grant; and he stood by the King's side, at Runnymede, when the barons obtained the bulwark of English liberty. It is sometimes forgotten that the clergy were the foremost to demand it, and the most persevering in their efforts to obtain it.

The Archbishop was now sent to Rome by the King to plead his cause there, and to counteract, as best he might, the serious complaints made against him by all his subjects—A.D. 1215. In 1213 Walter de Lacy obtained the restoration of his father's property in Wales and England. Two years later he recovered his Irish lands; but the King retained his son, Gislebert, as hostage, and his Castle of Droicead-Atha (Drogheda).