Earl of Desmond

[From the Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 4, July 21, 1832]

The castle of Mogeely, in Ireland, two miles from Tallow, was a principal seat of the Desmond family. At this castle resided Thomas, the great Earl of Desmond, who had a favorite steward that often took great liberties with his lord; and by his permission, tyrannized over the earl's tenants equally with his master. The steward unknown to the earl, gave an invitation in his lord's name to a great number of the chiefs of Munster, with their followers, to come and spend a month at this castle. The invitation was accepted, and crowds of gentlemen flocked in, to the great surprise of Desmond, who began to be alarmed lest sufficient provisions should not be found for such a number of guests. They had not staid many days, when provisions in reality began to fail; and at last the earl's domestics informed him, that they could not furnish out a dinner for the next day. The earl knew not what to do, for his pride could not brook to let his guests know any thing of the matter; besides, his favorite steward, who used to help him in such difficulties, was absent. At length he thought of a stratagem to save his credit; and inviting all his company to hunt next morning, ordered his servants to set fire to the castle as soon as they were gone, and pretend it was done by accident. The earl and his company hunted all the forenoon; and from the rising grounds he every moment expected with a heavy heart to see Mogeely in flames. At length, about dinner time, to his great surprise, his favourite steward arrived, mounted upon a fresh horse. The earl threatened him severely for being so long absent at such a juncture. The steward told him, he had arrived just in time enough at the castle, to prevent his orders from being executed; and farther, that he had brought a large supply of corn and cattle, sufficient to subsist him and his company for some months. This news not a little rejoiced the earl, who returned with his guests to the castle, where they found sufficient plenty of every thing they wanted.