Resistance to Cromwell

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXX

The Irish had now begun to distrust Ormonde thorougly; even the citizens of Waterford refused to admit his soldiers into their town. Indeed, the distrust was so general, that he had considerable difficulty in providing winter quarters for his troops, and he wrote to ask permission from the exiled King to leave the country. The month of January, 1650, was spent by Cromwell in continuing his victorious march. He set out from Youghal on the 29th, and approached as near Limerick as he dared, taking such castles as lay in his way, and accepting the keys of Cashel and other towns, where the authorities surrendered immediately.

On the 22nd of March he arrived before Kilkenny, to meet a resistance as hopeless as it was heroic. A fearful pestilence had reduced the garrison from 1,200 men to about 400, yet they absolutely refused to obey the summons to surrender, but, after a brave resistance, they were obliged to yield; and Cromwell hastened on to Clonmel, where he had to encounter the most formidable resistance he experienced in his Irish campaigns. The garrison was commanded by Hugh Dubh O'Neill. The Bishop of Ross attempted to raise the siege, but was taken and hanged by Broghill, because he would not desire the defenders of Carrigadrohid to surrender. The first attack on Clonmel took place on the 9th of May, and O'Neill determined to resist with the energy of despair, and the full knowledge of the demon vengeance with which the Puritans repaid such deeds of valour. When the place was no longer tenable, he withdrew his troops under cover of darkness; and the English General found next morning that he had been outwitted, and that nothing remained for his vengeance but the unfortunate townspeople.

Pressing demands were now made by the Parliament for his return to England, where the royalists had also to be crushed and subdued; and after committing the command of his army to Ireton, he sailed from Youghal, on the 20th of May, leaving, as a legacy to Ireland, a name which was only repeated to be cursed, and an increase of miseries which already had seemed incapable of multiplication. In the meantime the Irish clergy held frequent conferences, and made every effort in their power to obtain peace for their unfortunate country. Ormonde became daily more and more distrusted; the people of Limerick and of Galway had both refused to receive him; and on the 6th of August the clergy met in synod at Jamestown, in the county Leitrim, and sent him a formal message, requesting his withdrawal from the kingdom, and asking for the appointment of some one in whom the people might have confidence. His pride was wounded, and he refused to retire until he should be compelled to do so; but the bishops published a declaration, denouncing his government, and threatening to impeach him before the King. They were yet to learn that the King, whom they served so faithfully, and in whom, despite all past disappointments, they confided so loyally, could be guilty of the greatest duplicity and the basest subterfuge.