English Invasion of Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
Chapter XVI
Ferriter's Castle

Ferriter's Castle

The English Invasion—Dermod's Interview with Henry II.—Henry grants Letters-patent—Dermod obtains the assistance of Strongbow, Earl de Clare—He returns to Ireland—Arrival of English Forces under FitzStephen—Fatal Indifference of Roderic, the Irish Monarch—He is at last roused to action, but acknowledges Dermod's Authority almost without a Struggle—Strongbow's Genealogy—He obtains a Tacit Permission to invade Ireland—His Arrival in Ireland—Marriage of Strongbow and Eva—Death of Dermod Mac Murrough—Strongbow proclaims himself King of Leinster—Difficulties of his Position—Siege of Dublin—Strongbow's Retreat—He returns to England.

[A.D. 1168—1171.]

Letter U

NTIL this period (A.D. 1168) the most friendly relations appear to have existed between England and Ireland. Saxon nobles and princes had fled for shelter, or had come for instruction to the neighbouring shores. The assistance of Irish troops had been sought and readily obtained by them. Irish merchants [3] had taken their goods to barter in English markets; but when the Norman had won the Saxon crown, and crushed the Saxon race under his iron heel, the restless spirit of the old Viking race looked out for a new quarry, and long before Dermod had betrayed his country, that country's fate was sealed.

William Rufus is reported to have said, as he stood on the rocks near St. David's, that he would make a bridge with his ships from that spot to Ireland—a haughty boast, not quite so easily accomplished. His speech was repeated to the King of Leinster, who inquired "if the king, in his great threatening, had added, 'if it so please God' ?" The reporter answered in the negative. "Then," said he, "seeing this king putteth his trust only in man, and not in God, I fear not his coming.


[3] Merchants.—Wright says that "theft and unfair dealing" were fearfully prevalent among the Anglo-Normans, and mentions, as an example, how some Irish merchants were robbed who came to Ely to sell their wares.—Domestic Manners, p. 78. It would appear that there was considerable slave-trade carried on with the British merchants. The Saxons, who treated their dependents with savage cruelty (see Wright, p. 56), sold even their children as slaves to the Irish. In 1102 this inhuman traffic was forbidden by the Council of London. Giraldus Cambrensis mentions that, at a synod held at Armagh, A.D. 1170, the Irish clergy, who had often forbidden this trade, pronounced the invasion of Ireland by Englishmen to be a just judgment on the Irish for their share in the sin, and commanded that all who had English slaves should at once set them free. Mr. Haverty remarks, that it was a curious and characteristic coincidence, that an Irish deliberative assembly should thus, by an act of humanity to Englishmen, have met the merciless aggressions which the latter had just then commenced against this country.—Hist. of Ireland, p. 169.