Irish Chieftains

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XIX

The Irish chieftains made some stand for their rights at the close of this reign. Cormac O'Melaghlin wrested Delvin, in Meath, from the English. O'Neill and O'Donnell composed their difference pro tem., and joined in attacking the invaders. In the south there was a war between Dermod and Connor Carthy, in which the Anglo-Normans joined, and, as usual, got the lion's share, obtaining such an increase of territory as enabled them to erect twenty new castles in Cork and Kerry.

The Four Masters give a curious story under the year 1213. O'Donnell More sent his steward to Connaught to collect his tribute. On his way he visited the poet Murray O'Daly, and began to wrangle with him, "although his lord had given him no instructions to do so." The poet's ire was excited. Ho killed him on the spot with a sharp axe—an unpleasant exhibition of literary justice—and then fled into Clanrickarde for safety. O'Donnell determined to revenge the insult, until Mac William (William de Burgo) submitted to him. But the poet had been sent to seek refuge in Thomond. The chief pursued him there also, and laid siege to Limerick.[4] The inhabitants at once expelled the murderer, who eventually fled to Dublin. After receiving tribute from the men of Connaught, O'Donnell marched to Dublin, and compelled the people to banish Murray to Scotland. Here he remained until he had composed three poems in praise of O'Donnell, imploring peace and forgiveness. He was then pardoned, and so far received into favour as to obtain a grant of land and other possessions.


[4] Limerick.—We give an illustration, at the head of this chapter, of King John's Castle, Limerick. Stanihurst says that King John "was so pleased with the agreeableness of the city, that he caused a very fine castle and bridge to be built there." This castle has endured for more than six centuries. Richard I. granted this city a charter to elect a Mayor before London had that privilege, and a century before it was granted to Dublin. M 'Gregor says, in his History of Limerick, that the trade went down fearfully after the English invasion.—vol. ii. p. 53.