Tyrone's Defeat

Justin McCarthy
Chapter V | Start of Chapter

For a time victory seemed to follow Tyrone. Before long the greater part of Ireland was in the hands of the Irish forces. The Earl of Essex was sent to Ireland at the head of the largest army ever despatched from England for the conquest of the island. But Essex does not seem to have made any serious effort. He appears to have had some idea of coming to terms with Tyrone. The two had a meeting, over which many pages of historical description and conjecture have been spent, but it is certain that so far as Essex was concerned, neither peace nor war came of his intervention. He was recalled to London. His failure in Ireland, and the trouble it brought upon him in England, only drove him into the wild movements which led to his condemnation as a traitor and to his death on the scaffold.

The place which Essex had so unsuccessfully endeavoured to hold was given to Lord Mountjoy, who proved himself a more fitting man for the work. Mountjoy was a strong man, who made up his mind from the first that he was sent to Ireland to fight the Irish. He had a great encounter with Tyrone, and Tyrone was defeated. From that moment the fortunes of the struggle seem to have turned. The resources of the Irish were very limited, and it was almost certain that if the English Government carried on the war long enough the Irish must sooner or later be defeated. It was a question of numbers and weapons and money, and in all these the English had an immense superiority.