Roderic O'Connor

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XVI

At this period the thoughtful and disinterested Archbishop of Dublin saw a crisis in the history of his country on which much depended. He endeavoured to unite the national chieftains, and rally the national army. His words appear to have had some effect. Messengers were sent to ask assistance from Godfred, King of the Isle of Man, and other island warriors. Strongbow became aware of his danger, and threw himself into Dublin; but he soon found himself landlocked by an army, and enclosed at sea by a fleet. Roderic O'Connor commanded the national forces, supported by Tiernan O'Rourke and Murrough O'Carroll. St. Laurence O'Toole remained in the camp, and strove to animate the men by his exhortations and example. The Irish army contented themselves with a blockade, and the besieged were soon reduced to extremities from want of food. Strongbow offered terms of capitulation through the Archbishop, proposing to hold the kingdom of Leinster as Roderic's vassal; but the Irish monarch demanded the surrender of the towns of Dublin, Wexford, and Waterford, and required the English invaders to leave the country by a certain day.

While these negotiations were pending, Donnell Cavanagh, son of the late King of Leinster, got into the city in disguise, and informed Strongbow that FitzStephen was closely besieged in Wexford. It was then at once determined to force a passage through the Irish army. Raymond le Gros led the van, Miles de Cogan followed; Strongbow and Maurice FitzGerald, who had proposed the sortie, with the remainder of their force, brought up the rere. The Irish army was totally unprepared for this sudden move; they fled in panic, and Roderic, who was bathing in the Liffey, escaped with difficulty.[4]


[4] Difficulty.—The army was so well supplied, that the English got sufficient corn, meal, and pork to victual the city of Dublin for a whole year.—Harris' Hibernae, p. 25.