The Tyrones and Tyrconnels

Justin McCarthy
Chapter V

THIS prolonged period of incessant war brought about the almost complete devastation of wide tracts of country in Ireland. Historians and poets tell the same sad story. Holinshed says that except in the cities or towns the traveller might journey for miles without meeting man, woman, child, or even beast. Edmund Spenser declared that the story of many among the inhabitants, and the picture one could see of their miserable state, was such that "any stony heart would rue the same." Mr. Froude affirms that in Munster alone there had been so much devastation that "the lowing of a cow or the sound of a ploughboy's whistle was not to be heard from Valentia to the rock of Cashel." It was made a boast by at least one of those engaged in ruling Ireland on behalf of the Queen that he had reduced some of the populations so deeply down that they preferred slaughter in the field to death by starvation. When this supposed pacification of Munster was accomplished the Province was divided into separate settlements, to be held under the Crown, at hardly more than a nominal quit-rent, by any loyal settlers who were willing to hold the land as vassals of the Sovereign and fight for their lives. All these lands were obtained by the confiscation of the estates of the rebellious Chieftains.