The Burkes in Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXII

The years 1333 and 1334 were disgraced by fearful crimes, in which the English and Irish equally participated. In the former year the Earl of Ulster seized Walter de Burgo, and starved him to death in the Green Castle of Innishowen. The sister of the man thus cruelly murdered was married to Sir Richard Mandeville, and she urged her husband to avenge her brother's death. Mandeville took the opportunity of accompanying the Earl with some others to hear Mass at Carrickfergus,[2] and killed him as he was fording a stream. The young Earl's death was avenged by his followers, who slew 300 men. His wife, Maud, fled to England with her only child, a daughter, named Elizabeth,[3] who was a year old. The Burkes of Connaught, who were the junior branch of the family, fearing that she would soon marry again, and transfer the property to other hands, immediately seized the Connaught estates, declared themselves independent of English law, and renounced the English language and customs. They were too powerful to be resisted with impunity; and while the ancestor of the Clanrickardes assumed the Irish title of MacWilliam Oughter, or the Upper, Edmund Burke, the progenitor of the Viscounts of Mayo, took the appellation of MacWilliam Eighter, or the Lower. This was not the last time when English settlers identified themselves, not merely from policy, but even from inclination, with the race whom they had once hated and oppressed.


[2] Carrickfergus.—See illustration at the commencement of this chapter.

[3] Elizabeth.—This lady was married to Lionel, third son of Edward III., in 1352. This prince was created in her right Earl of Ulster. The title and estates remained in possession of different members of the royal family, until they became the special inheritance of the crown in the reign of Edward IV.