Owen Roe O'Neill

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXIX

The Catholic cause, meanwhile, was not advancing through the country. The Irish were defeated in nearly every engagement with the English troops. The want of a competent leader and of unanimity of purpose was felt again, as it had so often been felt before; but the Church attempted to supply the deficiency, and, if it did not altogether succeed, it was at least a national credit to have done something in the cause of freedom.

The synod met at Kilkenny, on the 10th of May, 1642. It was attended by the Archbishops of Armagh, Cashel, and Tuam, and the Bishops of Ossory, Elphin, Waterford and Lismore, Kildare, Clonfert, and Down and Connor. Proctors attended for the Archbishop of Dublin, and for the Bishops of Limerick, Emly, and Killaloe. There were present, also, sixteen other dignitaries and heads of religious orders. They issued a manifesto explaining their conduct, and, forming a Provisional Government, concluded their labours, after three days spent in careful deliberation.

Owen Roe O'Neill and Colonel Preston arrived in Ireland in July, 1642, accompanied by a hundred officers, and well supplied with arms and ammunition. Sir Phelim O'Neill went at once to meet O'Neill, and resigned the command of the army; and all promised fairly for the national cause. The Scots, who had kept up a war of their own for some time, against both the King and the Catholics, were wasting Down and Antrim; and O'Neill was likely to need all his military skill and all his political wisdom in the position in which he was placed.

Preston had landed in Wexford, and brought a still larger force; while all the brave expatriated Irishmen in foreign service, hastened home the moment there appeared a hope that they could strike a blow with some effect for the freedom of their native land.