Hollinshed on Edward Bruce

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXI

Since this chapter was written, Mr. O'Flanagan has kindly presented me with his valuable History of Dundalk, from which I am permitted to make the following extracts, which throw much additional light upon the subject:—[6]

"'In the ninth year of King Edward's reign,' writes Hollinshed, 'Edward Bruce, brother to Robert Bruce, King of Scots, entered the north part of Ireland, with 6,000 men. There were with him divers captains of high renown among the Scottish nation, of whom were these:—The Earls of Murray and Monteith, the Lord John Stewart, the Lord John Campbell, the Lord Thomas Randolf, Fergus of Ardrossan, John Wood, and John Bisset. They landed near to Cragfergus, in Ulster, and joining with the Irish (a large force of whom was led out by Fellim, son of Hugh O'Conor). Thus assisted, he conquered the Earldom of Ulster, and gave the English there divers great overthrows, took the town of Dundalk, spoiled and burned it, with a great part of Orgiel. They burned churches and abbeys, with the people whom they found in the same, sparing neither man, woman, nor child. Then was the Lord Butler chosen Lord Justice, who made the Earl of Ulster and the Geraldines friends, and reconciled himself with Sir John Mandeville, thus seeking to preserve the residue of the realm which Edward Bruce meant wholly to conquer, having caused himself to be crowned King of Ireland.

"Dundalk was heretofore the stronghold of the English power, and the head-quarters of the army for the defence of the Pale. At the north, as Barbour preserves in his metrical history of Robert Bruce:

"'At Kilsaggart Sir Edward lay,
And wellsom he has heard say
That at Dundalk was assembly
Made of the lords of that country.'

It was not, however, within this town that the ceremony of Bruce's coronation took place, but, according to the best avouched tradition, on the hill of Knock-na-Melin, at half a mile's distance.

"Connaught the while was torn with dissensions and family feuds, of which availing himself, 'the Lord Justice' (to resume the narrative of Hollinshed) 'assembled a great power out of Munster and Leinster, and other parts thereabouts; and the Earl of Ulster, with another army, came in unto him near unto Dundalk. There they consulted together how to deal in defending the country against the enemies; but, hearing the Scots were withdrawn back, the Earl of Ulster followed them, and, fighting with them at "Coiners," he lost the field. There were many slain on both parts; and William de Burgh, the Earl's brother, Sir John Mandeville, and Sir Alan FitzAlan were taken prisoners.' Bruce's adherents afterwards ravaged other parts of the Pale, Meath, Kildare, &c, but met with much resistance. At length 'Robert le Bruce, King of Scots, came over himself, landed at Cragfergus, to the aid of his brother, whose soldiers most wickedly entered into churches, spoiling and defacing the same of all such tombs, monuments, plate, copes, and other ornaments which they found and might lay hands on.'

Ultimately 'the Lord John Bermingham, being general of the field, and having with him divers captains of worthy fame, namely—Sir Richard Tuiyte, Sir Miles Verdon, Sir John Cusack, Sirs Edmund, and William, and Walter Bermingham, the Primate of Armagh, Sir Walter de la Pulle, and John Maupas (with some choice soldiers from Drogheda), led forth the King's power to the number of 1,324 able men, against Edward Bruce, who had, with his adherents (the Lord Philip Moubray, the Lord Walter Soulis, the Lord Allan Stuart, with three brothers, Sir Walter Lacy, Sir Robert and Aumar Lacy, John Kermerelyn, Walter White, and about 3,000 others, writes Pembridge), encamped, not two miles from Dundalk, with 3,000 men, there abiding the Englishmen to fight with them if they came forward, which they did with all convenient speed, being as desirous to give battle as the Scots were to receive it. The Primate of Armagh, personally accompanying the English power, and blessing the enterprise, gave them such comfortable exhortation as he thought served the time ere they began to encounter, and herewith buckling together, at length the Scots fully and wholly were vanquished, and 2,000 of them slain, together with the Captain, Edward Bruce. Maupas, that pressed into the throng to encounter with Bruce hand to hand, was found, in the search, dead, aloft upon the slain body of Bruce. The victory thus obtained, upon St. Calixtus' day, made an end of the Scottish kingdom in Ireland; and Lord Bermingham, sending the head of Bruce into England, presented it to King Edward, who, in recompense, gave him and his heirs male the Earldom of Louth, and the Baronies of Ardee and Athenry to him and his heirs general for ever,' as hereafter noticed.


[6] Subject.—History of Dundalk, pp. 46-58.