The Flight of the Earls

Justin McCarthy
Chapter V | Start of Chapter

The state of things he found existing on his return to Ireland would naturally have driven Tyrone into rebellion, and the rulers of the country appear to have made up their minds that he must be planning some such rising. Tyrconnel was naturally regarded as an enemy of the same order, and the policy of the ruling powers was to anticipate their designs and condemn them in advance. Tyrone and Tyrconnel were accordingly proclaimed traitors to the King. The two Earls determined that as immediate insurrection had no chance of success, there was no safety for them but in prompt escape from the country. Then followed "the flight of the Earls." Tyrone and Tyrconnel, with their families and many of their friends and retainers, nearly a hundred persons in all, made their escape in one vessel from the Irish shore, and for twenty-one days were at the mercy of the sea and of the equinoctial winds, for they sailed about the middle of September. A story characteristic of the faith which then filled the hearts of Irish Chieftains is told. Tyrone fastened his golden crucifix to a string and drew it through the sea at the stern of the vessel, in the hope that the waves might thus be stilled. In the first week of October they landed on the shore of France, and travelled on to Rouen, receiving nothing but kindness from the French.