Bravery of the Dalcassians

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XIII. concluded

On Easter Monday the survivors were employed in burying the dead and attending to the wounded. The remains of more than thirty chieftains were borne off to their respective territorial churches for interment. But even on that very night dissension arose in the camp. The chieftains of Desmond, seeing the broken condition of the Dalcassian force, renewed their claim to the alternate succession. When they had reached Rath Maisten (Mullaghmast, near Athy) they claimed the sovereignty of Munster, by demanding hostages. A battle ensued, in which even the wounded Dalcassians joined. Their leader desired them to be placed in the fort of Maisten, but they insisted on being fastened to stakes, firmly planted in the ground to support them, and stuffing their wounds with moss, they awaited the charge of the enemy. The men of Ossory, intimidated by their bravery, feared to give battle. But many of the wounded men perished from exhaustion—a hundred and fifty swooned away, and never recovered consciousness again. The majority were buried where they stood; a few of the more noble were carried to their ancestral resting-places. "And thus far the wars of the Gall with the Gaedhil, and the battle of Clontarf."

The Annals state that both Brian and his son, Murrough, lived to receive the rites of the Church, and that their remains were conveyed by the monks to Swords, and from thence, through Duleek and Louth, to Armagh, by Archbishop Maelmuire, the "successor of St. Patrick." Their obsequies were celebrated with great splendour, for twelve days and nights, by the clergy; after which the body of Brian was deposited in a stone coffin, on the north side of the high altar, in the cathedral. Murrough was buried on the south side. Turlough was interred in the old churchyard of Kilmainham, where the shaft of an ancient cross still marks the site.

Malachy once more assumed the reins of government by common consent, and proved himself fully equal to the task. A month before his death he gained an important victory over the Danes at Athboy, A.D. 1022. An interregnum of twenty years followed his death, during which the country was governed by two wise men, Cuan O'Lochlann, a poet, and Corcran Cleireach, an anchoret. The circumstances attending Malachy's death are thus related by the Four Masters:—"The age of Christ 1022. Maelseachlainn Môr, pillar of the dignity and nobility of the west of the world, died in Croinis Locha-Aininn, in the seventy-third year of his age, on the 4th of the nones of September, on Sunday precisely, after intense penance for his sins and transgressions, after receiving the body of Christ and His blood, after being anointed by the hands of Amhalgaidh, successor of Patrick, for he and the successor of Colum-Cille, and the successors of Ciaran, and most of the seniors of Ireland were present [at his death], and they sung masses, hymns, psalms, and canticles for the welfare of his soul."

The cover of St. Patrick's bell

Cover of St. Patrick's Bell