John De Burgo

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXVI

Sir Henry Sidney returned to Ireland in 1575. He tells us himself how he took on him, "the third time, that thanklesse charge; and so taking leave of her Majesty, kissed her sacred hands, with most gracious and comfortable wordes, departed from her at Dudley Castell, passed the seas, and arrived the xiii of September, 1575, as nere the city of Dublin as I could saufly; for at that tyme the city was greevously infested with the contagion of the pestilence."[6] He proceeded thence to Tredagh (Drogheda), where he received the sword of the then Deputy. He next marched northward, and attacked Sorley Boy and the Scotch, who were besieging Carrickfergus; and after he had conquered them, he received the submission of Turlough O'Neill and other Ulster chieftains. Turlough's wife, the Lady Agnes O'Neill, née, M'Donnell, was aunt to the Earl of Argyle, and appears to have been very much in favour with the Lord Deputy.

In the "depe of wynter" he went to Cork, were he remained from Christmas to Candlemas. He mentions his entertainment at Barry's Court with evident zest, and says "there never was such a Christmas kept in the same." In February he visited Thomond, and subdued "a wicked generation, some of whom he killed, and some he hanged by order of law." A nice distinction, which could hardly have been appreciated by the victims. The Earl of Clanrickarde caused his "two most bade and rebellious sonnes" to make submission, "whom I would to God I had then hanged." However, he kept them close prisoners, and "had a sermon made of them and their wickedness in the chief church in the town." John seems to have been the principal delinquent. Some time after, when they had been set at liberty, they rebelled again; and he records the first "memorable act" which one of them had done, adding, "which I am sure was John."[7]


[6] Pestilence.—Memoir or Narrative addressed to Sir Francis Walsingham, 1583. Ware says he wrote "Miscellanies of the Affairs of Ireland," but the MS. has not yet been discovered. The Four Masters notice the pestilence, which made fearful ravages.

[7] John.—He was called Shane Seamar Oge, or John of the Shamrocks, from having threatened to live on shamrocks sooner than submit to the English. John was the younger of the two De Burgos or Burkes.