The MacMahon Sept

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXVII

It was considered a grave reproach, and an evidence of barbarism, when Maguire sent word to the Lord Deputy, who wished to send a sheriff to Fermanagh: "Your sheriff will be welcome, but let me know his eric [the fine which would be levied on the district if he were killed], that if my people cut off his head, I may levy it on the country." One other instance from another source will sufficiently prove that the dread of an English sheriff was well founded. The chieftain of Oriel, Hugh MacMahon, had given a present of 600 cows to the Lord Deputy to recognize his rights. Sir Henry Bagnal, the Marshal of Ireland, had his head-quarters at Newry, where his property had been principally acquired by deeds of blood, and he wished for a share of the spoil.

A charge of treason was made against MacMahon after the cows had been accepted; a jury of common soldiers was empannelled to try the case. A few were Irish, and they were locked up without food until they agreed to give the required verdict of guilty, while the English jurors were permitted to go in and out as they pleased. The unfortunate chieftain was hanged, in two days after his arrest, at his own door; his property was divided amongst those whom we must call his murderers. The MacMahon sept were, however, permitted to retain a portion on payment of a "good fine, underhand," to the Lord Deputy.[9]


[9] Deputy.—Four Masters, vol. vi. p. 1878. The State Papers clearly prove the Deputy's guilt