Marriage of Eva and Strongbow

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XVI

While these cruelties were enacting, Strongbow had been collecting forces in South Wales; but, as he was on the very eve of departure, he received a peremptory order from Henry, forbidding him to leave the kingdom. After a brief hesitation, he determined to bid defiance to the royal mandate, and set sail for Ireland. The day after his arrival he laid siege to Waterford. The citizens behaved like heroes, and twice repulsed their assailants; but their bravery could not save them in the face of overpowering numbers. A breach was made in the wall; the besiegers poured in; and a merciless massacre followed. Dermod arrived while the conflict was at its height, and for once he has the credit of interfering on the side of mercy.

The Marriage of Eva and Strongbow

The Marriage of Eva and Strongbow

Reginald, a Danish lord, and O'Phelan, Prince of the Deisi, were about to be slain by their captors, but at his request they were spared, and the general carnage was suspended. For the sake of common humanity, one could wish to think that this was an act of mercy. But Mac Murrough had his daughter Eva with him; he wished to have her nuptials with Strongbow celebrated at once; and he could scarcely accomplish his purpose while men were slaying their fellows in a cold-blooded massacre. The following day the nuptials were performed. The English Earl, a widower, and long past the prime of manhood, was wedded to the fair young Celtic maiden; and the marriage procession passed lightly over the bleeding bodies of the dying and the dead. Thus commenced the union between Great Britain and Ireland: must those nuptials be for ever celebrated in tears and blood?

Immediately after the ceremony, the army set out for Dublin. Roderic had collected a large force near Clondalkin, and Hosculf, the Danish governor of the city, encouraged by their presence, had again revolted against Dermod. The English army having learned that the woods and defiles between Wexford and Dublin were well guarded, had made forced marches along the mountains, and succeeded in reaching the capital long before they were expected.

Their decision and military skill alarmed the inhabitants—they might also have heard reports of the massacres at Wexford; be this as it may, they determined to negotiate for peace, and commissioned their illustrious Archbishop, St. Laurence O'Toole, to make terms with Dermod. While the discussion was pending, two of the English leaders, Raymond le Gros and Miles de Cogan, obtained an entrance into the city, and commenced a merciless butchery of the inhabitants. When the saint returned he heard cries of misery and groans of agony in all quarters, and it was not without difficulty that he succeeded in appeasing the fury of the soldiers, and the rage of the people, who had been so basely treated.