MacCarthy More murdered

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXII

In 1334 the English and Irish marched into Munster to attack MacNamara, and added the guilt of sacrilege to their other crimes, by burning a church, with 180 persons and two priests in it, none of whom were permitted to escape. Another outrage was committed by the settlers, who appear to have been quite as jealous of each others property as the Irish clans; for we find that one Edmund Burke drowned another of the same name in Lough Mask, and, as usual, a war ensued between the partisans of each family. After a sanguinary struggle, Turlough O'Connor drove the murderer out of the province. But this prince soon after ruined himself by his wickedness. He married Burke's widow, and put away his own lawful wife; from which it may be concluded that he had avenged the crime either from love of this woman, or from a desire to possess himself of her husband's property. His immoral conduct alienated the other chieftains, and after three years' war he was deposed.

Edward had thrown out some hints of an intended visit to Ireland, probably to conceal his real purpose of marching to Scotland. Desmond was released on bail in 1333, after eighteen months' durance, and repaired with some troops to assist the King at Halidon Hill. Soon after we find him fighting in Kerry, while the Earl of Kildare was similarly occupied in Leinster. In 1339 twelve hundred Kerry men were slain in one battle. The Anglo-Norman, FitzNicholas, was among the number of prisoners. He died in prison soon after. This gentleman, on one occasion, dashed into the assize court at Tralee, and killed Dermod, the heir of the MacCarthy More, as he sat with the judge on the bench. As MacCarthy was Irish, the crime was suffered to pass without further notice.

In 1341 Edward took sweeping measures for a general reform of the Anglo-Norman lords, or, more probably, he hoped, by threats of such measures, to obtain subsidies for his continental wars. The colonists, however, were in possession, and rather too powerful to brook such interference. Sir John Morris was sent over to carry the royal plans into execution; but though he took prompt and efficient measures, the affair turned out a complete failure. The lords refused to attend his Parliament, and summoned one of their own, in which they threw the blame of maladministration on the English officials sent over from time to time to manage Irish affairs. They also protested strongly against the new arrangement, which proposed that all the offices then held in Ireland should be filled by Englishmen having no personal interest whatever in Ireland. The certainty that they would have a personal interest in it the very moment there was a chance of bettering their fortunes thereby, appears to have been quite overlooked. The settlers, therefore, were allowed to continue their career as before, and felt all the more secure for their effectual resistance of the royal interference.