Spanish Expedition to Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXVII

The Earl of Desmond, however, soon joined his brother. John Geraldine allied himself with the movement from its commencement. A second expedition was fitted out in Spain, which reached Ireland on the 13th of September, 1580. It was commanded by Colonel Sebastian San Jose, who proved eventually so fearful a traitor to the cause he had volunteered to defend. Father Mathew de Oviedo, a member of the Franciscan Order, was the principal promoter of this undertaking. He was a native of Spain, and had been educated in the College of Salamanca, then famous for the learning and piety of its alumni. The celebrated Florence Conry, subsequently Archbishop of Tuam, was one of his companions; and when he entered the Franciscan novitiate, he had the society of eleven brethren who were afterwards elevated to the episcopate. Oviedo was the bearer of a letter from the Roman Pontiff, Gregory XIII., granting indulgences to those who joined the army.

On the 18th of August, scarcely a month after he had landed in Ireland, James FitzMaurice was killed by Theobald and Ulick Burke, his own kinsmen. Their father, Sir William Burke, was largely rewarded for his loyalty in opposing the Geraldines; and, if Camden is to be believed, he died of joy in consequence of the favours heaped upon him. The death of FitzMaurice was a fatal blow to the cause. John Geraldine, however, took the command of the force; but the Earl hastened to Kilmallock to exculpate himself, as best he could, with the Lord Deputy. His apologies were accepted, and he was permitted to go free on leaving his only son, James, then a mere child, as hostage with Drury. The Geraldines were successful soon after in an engagement with the English; and Drury died in Waterford at the end of September. Ecclesiastical historians say that he had been cited by the martyrs of Kilmallock to meet them at Christ's judgment, and answer for his cruelties.

Sir Nicholas Malby was left in command of the army, and Sir William Pelham was elected Lord Deputy in Dublin. The usual career of burning and plundering was enacted—"the country was left one levelled plain, without corn or edifices." Youghal was burned to the ground, and the Mayor was hanged at his own door. James Desmond was hanged and quartered, by St. Leger and Raleigh, in Cork. Pelham signalized himself by cruelties, and executed a gentleman who had been blind from his birth, and another who was over a hundred years of age.