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Ireland was never subjected to the discipline of Imperial Rome, and her people missed the early lesson in orderly government which the subject races of the Empire never quite forgot; but in the early part of the fifth century, when the Western Empire was beginning to crumble under its own weight, Ireland received from Romanised Britain and Gaul the message of Christianity together with some of the civilising influences that followed in its train. Popular tradition has fixed upon St Patrick as the Apostle of Ireland, and in so doing has had good grounds. He was certainly an historical character, and his Confessio, recognised as an authentic work of his hand, shows him an unassuming servant of God whose whole heart was in his work; but it also shews—what indeed vague traditions indicate—that there were other workers in the field in Southern Ireland, more learned perhaps than he, but not so single-minded or so free from jealousy. The new faith was not enforced by the sword; it gradually gained adherents through precept and example, and there was no disturbance of the existing tribal organisation. There is, however, little positive evidence about this early period. The earliest extant Life of St Patrick was written by Muirchu Maccu Machtheni near the close of the seventh century, and the Memoirs of Tirechan a little later. It would seem that here and there a tribal chief who had accepted the new teaching would grant some land, a fort or an island, to the founder saint, who with his companions would build a primitive church and necessary habi­tations thereon. Disciples would be attracted, and the Christian community thus formed was regarded as the separate finé or family (in an extended sense) of the saint, existing side by side with the finé of the land. The successors (comarbs) of the founder were selected from his finé in much the same way as the successor of the tribal chief. Women were welcomed in the work of evangelisation, the most famous being St Brigit of Kildare, called the “Mary of the Gael.” In some such way, in the course of the next century and a half, numerous churches were founded and primitive monastic communities and schools were formed, in which the civilising influences of the new religion were centred and fostered. With the religion of the Book, writing and the Latin language were introduced, and through such means of communication came some of the art and learning of the Old World.

The missionary effort was not confined to Ireland. In 563 Columba carried the Christian faith from Deny to the island of Hy (Iona), the mother church of Scotland, and to the Northern Picts, and from thence in 635 his disciples brought it to Lindisfarne, whence it spread over Northumbria. Columba’s success was followed by a great missionary movement among the barbarian kingdoms of Western Europe. The most famous missionary there was Columbanus, a monk of Bangor on Belfast Lough. He made his way to Burgundy and founded a monastery at Luxovium (Luxeuil) in 590, where for many years his missionary efforts prospered. At length, however, having come into conflict with Brunhild, the Queen Regent, and having estranged the Gallican clergy by his adherence to Celtic usages, he was forced to leave the country. Afterwards lie went up the Rhine to Lake Constance (where his follower, St Gall, remained to found the monastery known by his name), and thence passing into Lombardy he founded the famous monastery of Bobbio. Here in 615 he died. From these and other centres many daughter houses issued, and communication was kept up between these foreign monasteries and those in Ireland to the advancement of learning. From the middle of the seventh century there were also reflex waves of immigrants from Britain and the Continent to the monastic schools of Ireland. Moreover, the influence of Italo-Byzantine art, and more particularly of Lombard art, has been traced in the wonderful development of interlaced work as shown in Irish and Hiberno-Saxon manuscripts, such as the Books of Kells, Lindisfarne, and Durrow, about the close of the seventh century, and at a later period in metal, as on the shrines of bell, book, and crozier; and though at least one important motif of Irish art, the divergent spiral, has been traced back to what is known as the late Celtic or La Tene period, it seems probable that an important channel of influence in art as in learning was the inter-communication of foreign and Irish monasteries. Certainly the results in Ireland were mainly confined to monastic institutions.

According to traditions preserved in the older heroic literature, Ireland was at one time divided into five independent kingdoms, corresponding roughly to the present four provinces with the kingdom of Meath cut out of Leinster to make the fifth. Later writers often speak of “the five-fifths of Ireland” to designate the whole. There was also an old traditional division of Ireland into two halves, which came to be known respectively as Conn’s Half (Leth Cuinn), and Mogh’s Half (Leth Mogha), and were separated by a line through the great central plain from the Bay of Dublin to that of Galway. This division, originating in all probability in a racial difference, was deep-seated. It never quite lost its hold on popular memory, and in later ages it often inspired political aims and ideals and influenced military efforts. In the historical period, however, prior to the Scandinavian invasions and up to the coming of the Normans, Ireland appears as a Heptarchy acknowledging at most a shadowy high king (ard-rí). Accordingly in the Book of Rights, compiled (in the form that has come down to us) at the opening of the tenth century, when Cormac son of Cuilennan was King of Cashel, with additions made about a century later in the time of King Brian Borumha, the numerous Raids of the Norsemen subordinate kingdoms and territories of Ireland are grouped under the following seven chief kings: (1) the king of Cashel, representing Munster and part of King’s County; (2) the king of Cruachan, representing Connaught and Cavan; (3) the king of Ailech, representing Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, and part of Fermanagh; (4) the king of Uriel (Oirghialla), representing Armagh, Monaghan, the rest of Fermanagh, and part of Louth; (5) the king of Ulaidh, representing Antrim, Down, and part of Louth; (6) the king of Tara, representing Meath, Westmeath, Longford, and parts of King’s County and Kildare; (7) the king of Laighin, representing Leinster, less the kingdom of Tara and Louth. In the addition to the Book of Rights ascribed to Brian, it is claimed that “when the king of Cashel is not king of Ireland the government of the (southern) half of Ireland is due to him”, and further that “the supreme sovereignty of Ireland ought to be in him”; but the poetical version naively admits that the history on which this right is founded “is not taught by the Leinstermen” or “preserved in Conn’s Half.” As a matter of fact, during the historic period up to the time of King Brian, with one or two disputed exceptions, the Kings of Ailech and Tara, representing two branches of the Ui Neill family, supplied between them the generally recognised high kings of Ireland. In the descent of kingship all males of the family to which the existing king belonged were eligible. Each was known as a rigdamna, “the makings of a king.” The family (derb finé) consisted of a single head (whether living or dead) and his sons, grandsons, and great­grandsons, but on the birth of a member of the next generation it became subdivided into as many families as there were sons of the first head. Such at least appears to have been the theory. In practice, at any rate, so wide a choice often led to intrigues, violence, and bloodshed, and to minimise these the plan was adopted in the thirteenth century of naming a tánaiste or successor in the lifetime of the ruling prince.

From the beginning of the sixth to the close of the eighth century, Ireland, though split up into a number of petty kingdoms often at variance with each other, was free from the ravages of external invasion. This, indeed, was the period of her “Golden Age of art and learning”. But early in the ninth century this comparative peace was at an end. From about the year 807 sporadic bands of raiders commenced to ravage the mainland, and in the course of the next 150 years “countless sea-belched shoals of foreigners” penetrated up the estuaries and rivers of Ireland and plundered and burned the monasteries—many of them over and over again—in all parts of the country. No general resistance was organised, and though the invaders met with defeats here and there from particular clan-groups, new hordes came to fill the gap. Uniting under a leader called Turgeis, these predatory bands succeeded in dominating the northern half of Ireland until, in 845, their leader was captured and drowned. This domination was contemporary with attempts by Felimy, son of Criffan, King of Cashel, to contest the supremacy of the recognised ard-rí in the north—the first, but not the last, example of internal dissensions facilitating the work of invaders of Ireland.

The first invaders seem to have been Norwegians, but in the middle of the ninth century there came Dubhgaill (or Danes) who fought against and subdued the Finngaill (or Norwegians) there, though in general no clear distinction can be gathered from the annalists. In 853 Olaf (Amhlaibh), “son of the king of Lochlann,” believed to be “Olaf the White” of the Landnamabok, “came to Ireland, when the foreigners submitted to him and a tribute was given to him by the Gael”. He is repeatedly mentioned as fighting and plundering along with Ivar (Imhar) and sometimes with Carrol (Cerball), King of Ossory. He fights from Ireland to Alba and Britain. In 866 he is fighting in Fortrenn (Pictland); in 867 he is at the battle of Caer Ebroc (York); and in 870 with Ivar at the siege of Ail Cluathe (Dumbarton). Next year they return to Dublin with captives and booty, but Olaf is heard of no more. Then in 873 “Ivar, king of the Northmen of all Ireland and Britain, died.” This and other entries indicate that the leaders of the Northmen, who at this time and later were carving out a kingdom for themselves in the north of England, were using the harbours of Ireland as bases for their operations against the sister kingdom.

From this time, for a period of about forty years, no fresh invasion of foreigners is recorded, though several examples are noted of their plundering churches and of conflicts between them and the native clans. Butin914and following years fresh fleets of foreigners came to Waterford. In 917 their leaders were Ragnall (Regnald), King of the Dubhgaill, and Sihtric, both “grandsons of Ivar,” and they gained a victory over the King of Leinster at Cenn Fuait (near St Mullins, County Carlow). Next year Ragnall fought against the men of Alba on the Tyne, but Sihtric went to Dublin, and on 15 September 919 defeated and slew Niall Black-knee (Glundubh), ard-rí of Ireland, at Cell-mo-samog on the Liffey immediately west of Dublin. He was probably the Sihtric who married Aethelstan’s sister and died in 927. Ragnall died in 921 and was succeeded by Guthfrith, another grandson of Ivar, who died in 934. Then in 937 Olaf son of Guthfrith left Dublin to join the combination of the Northumbrian Danes and Constantine the Scottish King against Aethelstan which met with the signal defeat of Brunanburh. Olaf escaped and “fled o’er the deep water, Dublin to seek.” But there was another Olaf, a son of Sihtric and son-in-law of Constantine, who also escaped from the battlefield. Both successively appear at times as King of Northumbria and of Dublin. Olaf Guthfrithson died in 941, but Olaf Sihtricson (who is also called Olaf Cuaran) lived to 980, when he met with a severe defeat from Malachy II (Maelsechlainn), King of Tara, and retreated to Iona, “where he died in holiness and penance.” Malachy’s victory was followed by the release of the hostages held by the Danes of Dublin and the freedom of the Ui Neill from tribute and exaction.

Brian Bórumha

About this time a new outstanding figure appears in the south in the person of Brian, son of Kennedy, commonly called, from a fort near Killaloe, Brian Bórumha. He was leader of the Dál Cais, a group of clans in Thomond or North Munster now beginning to rival the Eoghanachta, who had hitherto supplied the kings of Cashel. Three of these kings, Felimy mac Criflan, Cormac mac Cuilennain, and Celiachan of Cashel, had claimed to be supreme kings of Leth Mogha and even beyond, but their power had waned, and Munster seems to have become dominated by the Danes of Limerick. In 967, however, Brian and his elder brother, Mahon, defeated the Danes in a battle near Tipperary, and followed up their victory by the sack of Limerick. Mahon was now King of Munster, but a conspiracy formed against him by the Eoghanacht leaders, Molloy and Donovan, in alliance with the foreigners, resulted in his murder in 976 and the eventual accession of Brian as King, not only of Munster but of all Leth Mogha. Then began the rivalry between Brian and the ard-rí Malachy. In 982 Malachy plundered Thomond and cut down the sacred tree at Magh Adhair, the inauguration hill of the Dál Cais, and in the following year defeated Donnell Claen, King of Leinster, and the foreigners of Waterford and plundered Leinster to the sea. Brian’s retort was to bring a fleet of boats to Lough Bee and plunder the west of Meath and Connaught. And so the bickering went on between the rivals until 998, when, according to a tract which may be regarded as “the Brian Saga,” Malachy came to meet Brian on the shores of Lough Ree, and a treaty was concluded by which Malachy surrendered to Brian the hostages he held of Leth Mogha and even those of the southern clans of Connaught, while Brian acknowledged that the sole sovereignty of Leth Cuinn belonged to Malachy. Though this treaty is not mentioned in the regular annals, its result is seen in the joint action of Brian and Malachy against the foreigners in that year, and also in the next, when they together defeated the united forces of the Danes of Dublin, under Sihtric son of Olaf, and the Leinstermen, under their King Maelmora, at Glenmama (probably Glen-Saggart near Dublin) and entered Dublin and pillaged it.

But the concord between Brian and Malachy did not last long. Next year (1000) Brian made terms with Sihtric, gave him his daughter in marriage, and led a hosting of the men of Leinster and South Connaught accompanied by the Danes of Dublin “to proceed to Tara”. As was his custom, he avoided a pitched battle with Malachy, but he soon practically gained his end. He obtained the hostages of Connaught and Meath and in 1003 was reckoned King of Ireland. In 1005 he was at Armagh, and, as Imperator Scotorum, recognised its ecclesiastical supremacy, as a marginal entry in the Book of Armagh testifies. He had more difficulty in securing the submission of the northern clans. Year after year he led armies against them, but not till 1010 did he receive the hostages of all Leth Cuinn.

Brian’s reign, as the annals shew, was far from the peaceful time alleged by his shanachies, but he went nearer to uniting Ireland under one head than any native king before or since. It was moreover a time of recuperation. Churches and ecclesiastical towers were built or restored, and there was some revival of art and learning. Henceforth the Danes were normally confined to their seaport towns and the districts immedi­ately adjoining. They had become Christians too, and intermarried with the Gael. Indeed the protagonists in the drama at this time were curiously connected by marriage with one another. Gormflaith, sister of Maelmora King of Leinster, called in the Njal Saga “the fairest of women”, but one “who did all things ill over which she had any power”, was, it seems, first the wife of Olaf Cuaran and mother of Sihtric King of Dublin. Next, probably after 980, she was the wife of Malachy II and mother of his son Conor, but repudiated by him she became wife of Brian Bórumha and mother of his son Donough. Perhaps in each case she was the prize of the victor. But the complication was greater still, for Malachy’s wife Maelmaire, who died in 1021, was daughter of Olaf, Sihtric’s father, and finally, as we have mentioned, Sihtric married Brian’s daughter.

In spite of these alliances, Maelmora and Sihtric with their forces revolted against Brian and Malachy in 1013, and this led in the next year to the great attempt by “the foreigners of the West of Europe” to recover and complete their domination of Ireland. The battle of Clontarf was fought on Good Friday, 23 April 1014. Brian brought with him the men of Munster and some of the southern clans of Connaught, and he was supported by the men of Meath under Malachy, but the King of Connaught and all the northern kings held aloof. On the other side were the Leinstermen under Maelmora, the Danes of Dublin under Sihtric, and “the foreigners of Lochlann” whom Sihtric had invited to his aid. These last were said to be a thousand mail-clad men. Their principal leaders were Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, and Brodir, a viking, called “chieftain of the Lochlann fleet”, which then lay at the Isle of Man. It was a desperate fight. Most of the leaders on both sides were killed, including Brian himself, his eldest son and grandson, and both Sigurd and Brodir as well as Maelmora. Sihtric indeed still held Dublin, but the few surviving invaders were driven to their ships, and the attempted conquest failed.

If Brian’s aim, as has been thought, was to establish political unity in Ireland under a strong monarchy, the hope was shattered at his death, if not defeated by the very course he adopted. His surviving sons quarrelled among themselves and were opposed by some of the Eoghanacht clans. Malachy’s resumption of his former position was not indeed disputed, but he never had much power, and after his death in 1022 there was no recognised ard-ri for many years. Curiously enough, it is stated in the Annals of Clonmacnois (of which the Irish original is lost) that the land was governed for twenty years “like a free State, and not like a monarchy,” by a poet and an anchorite. Whatever that may mean, it is certain that Brian’s action in breaking the monopoly of the high-kingship hitherto vested in the two branches of the Ui Neill had a lasting effect. If one king of Munster could gain the supremacy by the sword, the way was open for another king of Munster, or of Leinster, or of Connaught, to attain the same position by the same means; and as a matter of fact the political history of the next century and a half is a record of the attempts of one or other of the provincial kings to subdue the rest. None of them, however, succeeded. At best the most powerful became ard-rí co fressabhra, “high-king with opposition”, which meant that at least one province held out against him. The consequence was that, besides the usual border raids between hostile clans, whole provinces were often engaged in devastating one another. The usual policy of an aspirant for supremacy was to divide a province which he had subdued and set up two or more kings in it. These arbitrary divisions were most frequent in Meath and Munster, but all the provinces were at various times tempor­arily split up, either by internal dissensions or by external compulsion.

Yet during this long period of anarchy the Viking terror was no longer present. The Scandinavian sea-rovers settled down in the seaport towns they had formed and exchanged piracy for trade, thus gradually reviving a more healthy communication with England and Western Europe. They became zealous Christians and from about the middle of the eleventh century had bishops of their own in Dublin, Waterford, and Limerick, who received consecration from Canterbury and professed canonical obedience to that see, and not to Armagh. From this beginning indeed may be traced the movement to bring the Church of Ireland into conformity with that of England and through it with that of Rome. Early in the twelfth century Gilbert, Danish Bishop of Limerick, a friend of Anselm, was appointed papal legate, and in a treatise which is still extant he expounded the hierarchical system as developed in Canterbury and Rome. Malchus, consecrated by Anselm in 1096 as Bishop of Waterford, presided over the famous school of Lismore, where one of his pupils was Maelmaedog O’Morgair, afterwards known as St Malachy. He went to Rome in 1139 and was appointed papal legate in succession to Gilbert. He became the principal instrument in the reform of the Irish Church, and to his efforts was doubtless due the constitution by the Pope in 1152 of the four metropolitan sees of Armagh, Dublin, Cashel, and Tuam. To Malachy, who was the lifelong friend of St Bernard of Clairvaux, is also to be attributed the first introduction of the Cistercians into Ireland, and among the earliest houses of the Order were St Mary’s Abbey in Dublin and Mellifont near Drogheda (1142).

From 1156 to 1166 Murtough O’Loughlin, representative of the northern Ui Neill, was the most powerful king in Ireland. He was con­sistently supported by Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, but was at first vigorously opposed by Rory O’Conor, King of Connaught. Each of these rivals repeatedly fought for supremacy over Munster, Meath, and North Leinster. Each would set up his own nominees in these districts, to be immediately replaced by the nominees of the rival party. In 1159 Tieman O’Rourke, King of Breffhy, a country bordering on the territories of both rivals, threw in his lot with O’Conor. It was inevitable that he should take the side opposed to MacMurrough, who in 1152 had carried off his wife, an insult he never forgot. But the united forces of O’Conor and O’Rourke were utterly defeated, and in 1161 O’Conor gave hostages to O’Loughlin. He was, however, merely biding his time. In 1166 by a gross breach of faith O’Loughlin alienated both the clergy and his own people, and later in the same year he fell a victim to the avenging arm of one of his sub-kings.

O’Conor now seized the opportunity of his rival’s disgrace or death. He led an army to Dublin, where the citizens made him their king. Then, after receiving the hostages of Uriel, he advanced into Leinster. There the northern clans submitted to him, and he forced Dermot to give him hostages for his own territory of Okinselagh (represented by the diocese of Fems). With this submission O’Conor seems to have been satisfied, and he passed into Ossoiy and Munster and took their hostages. But O’Rourke did not let his personal enemy escape so easily. He led an army composed of the men of Breffny and Meath and of Dermot’s own revolted subjects against Dermot, who, deserted by all, fled from Ireland by sea. Whether Rory O’Conor would have been more successful than the previous provincial kings in founding a permanent dynasty and bringing political unity to Ireland, if it had not been for foreign interference, is one of those speculations which it seems futile to entertain. All that can be said is that he began well, but he was not a resolute man, and subsequent history shews that the O’Conors were hopelessly divided amongst themselves even as regards the succession to their own province.

Dermot MacMurrough, on the other hand, shewed great pertinacity in the steps he took to recover his position. He landed at Bristol, where he was well received by Robert Fitz Harding, a personal friend of Henry II. Probably it was by his advice that Dermot sought aid from the King of England, and after much journeying, early in 1167, found him in Aquitaine. Henry, as is well known, on coming to the throne had con­ceived the design of annexing Ireland and had sought and obtained the sanction of Pope Hadrian IV, but at the time had laid the project aside; and though he now received the exiled king courteously, he put him off with vague promises and an open letter assuring the royal favour to such of his subjects as should be willing to aid Dermot to recover his dominions. Dermot then returned to Bristol, where after some time he got a conditional promise from Richard Fitz Gilbert, Earl of Striguil, commonly known as “ Strongbow,” on Dermot’s agreeing to give him his daughter in marriage and (according to Giraldus) the succession to the kingdom of Leinster. It may, however, be doubted if this latter promise was made, in this bald form at least, as such a devolution of an Irish kingdom was quite unknown to Irish custom. Dermot then went to St David’s, where he secured further promises of assistance from the descendants of Gerald, former castellan of Pembroke, or (to speak more correctly) of Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, last independent king of South Wales.

The First Conquerors, 1169

From this remarkable lady indeed were sprung most of those leaders in the Cambro-Norman invasion of Ireland who have been styled “the first conquerors.” By a royal lover, Henry I, she had a son known as Henry Fitz Henry, who was slain in 1157. His sons, Meiler and Robert, took part in the invasion. She was married to Gerald, castellan of Pembroke, about 1100 and bore him three sons and one daughter: (1) William de Carew, whose sons were Odo, ancestor of the Carews, Raymond called “le gros,” and Griffin; of these, Raymond took the most prominent part; (2) Maurice, ancestor of the barons of Naas, the earls of Kildare, the earls of Desmond, and other families, all more or less famous in the subsequent history of Ireland; (3) David, Bishop of St David’s, whose son Miles was the first baron of Iverk; (4) Angarad, who by William de Barry of Manorbier was mother of Gerald, the historian of the Conquest, and ancestress of the numerous families of the Barrvs in Ireland. Finally (as far as we are concerned), Nest had a son, Robert, by Stephen constable of Cardigan, and he was the first of the adventurers to set foot in Ireland.

Dermot did not wait for this promised aid, but about August returned to Ferns with only a few troops under Richard, son of Godibert, a Fleming from Rhos near Haverford. O’Conor and O’Rourke came to Cill Osnadh (Kellistown, Co. Carlow) to oppose him, where after some skirmishing Dermot gave hostages to O’Conor for Okinselagh, and 100 ounces of gold to O’Rourke in atonement for the wrong done to him fifteen years previously. Dermot, however, had no intention of submitting, and was only awaiting the expected help from Wales, and as this did not come in the ensuing spring (1168) he sent his latimer or secretary, Maurice Regan, to Wales with offers of rewards for armed aid. To this Maurice Regan, as being the principal informant of the author of the rhymed chronicle known as “the Song of Dermot”, we are indebted for much of our knowledge of this period up to the taking of Limerick in October 1175.

At length, in May 1169, Robert Fitz Stephen landed at Bannow with thirty men-at-arms (milites) of his kinsmen and sixty others clad in mail and about 300 archers, “the flower of the youth of Wales”. With them came Hervey de Montmorency, Strongbow’s uncle (i.e. son of his paternal grandmother by a second marriage), and on the following day Maurice de Prendergast, another Fleming from Rhos. All told, they were not more than 600 men, but they were well armed, inured to warfare in Wales, and the archers carried a weapon for which the Irish had no counterpart and no defence. Having been joined by Dermot with 500 men, they proceeded to assault the walled town of Wexford. On the second day the Ostmen (as the Northmen, whether Danes or Norwegians, are now usually called) surrendered on terms, and afterwards supplied a contingent to Dermot’s army. This success was followed by the return of many Leinster clans to their allegiance, and by more or less successful forays against such as still held out in Ossory and North Leinster.

These operations did not pass unnoticed by O’Conor and O’Rourke. They led their forces, accompanied as before by the Meathmen and the Ostmen of Dublin, into Leinster. This was a critical moment for Dermot, more especially as Maurice de Prendergast, perhaps despairing of success, had returned with his men to Wales. But once more peace was made. Dermot was to hold Leinster of the ard-rí and to give his son Conor as a hostage, while by a secret agreement he is said to have promised to introduce no more foreigners and to dismiss those already with him as soon as Leinster was pacified. But Dermot preferred to keep faith with the foreigner rather than with his countrymen. Soon afterwards Maurice Fitz Gerald arrived with a further contingent, and he and Dermot ravaged the country about Dublin. So confident did Dermot become that he sent Fitz Stephen with his followers to distant Limerick to assist his son-in-law Donnell O’Brien, who had turned against the ard-rí, and now, with Fitz Stephen’s help, for the time successfully resisted him.

Strongbow, encouraged by the success of the “first conquerors,” and urged on by Dermot who was already aspiring to the position of ard-rí, was now preparing an expedition on a larger scale. About the beginning of May 1170, he sent on before him Raymond Fitz William, nicknamed le Gros, with a small force of ten milites and seventy archers. Raymond landed at a rocky headland then known as Dundonnell, but now called Baginbun, on the southern coast of Wexford. Here he was joined by Hervey de Montmorency, but it was thought better to make no move before Strongbow arrived. Accordingly they formed an entrenched camp, cutting off the entire headland by a large double rampart which still remains. Here they beat off a formidable attack organised by the Ostmen of Waterford, and here they awaited the arrival of the earl. At the last moment, when Strongbow was ready to embark, messengers came from the king forbidding the expedition, but it was too late to draw back, and on 23 August 1170 the earl landed near Waterford with about 1200 men. Here he was at once joined by Raymond, and on Tuesday 25 August they took the city by assault. Dermot now came to meet the earl, and the nuptials of his daughter Eva (Aoife) with Strongbow were duly solemnised—a sign that the invaders had come to stay.

The contest for Dublin

The next objective was Dublin, towards which, after leaving a garrison at Waterford, the united forces now marched. That city was under the rule of “Asgall mac Raghnaill mic Turcaill”, who had submitted to O’Conor. Anticipating an attack, he had sent for assistance to his over­lord, who promptly came with O’Rourke and O’Carroll and encamped at Clondalkin. Moreover, the usual approaches to Dublin were “plashed” and guarded. Informed by his scouts of this, Dermot led the army over the mountains of Glendalough and reached the city without opposition. Through the mediation of the Archbishop Lawrence O’Toole, Dermot’s brother-in-law, the Ostmen prepared to submit, but while the terms were being arranged, on 21 September, Raymond le Gros and Miles de Cogan with a band of youths rushed the walls and captured the town. Many of the citizens were slain, but Asgall and others escaped in their ships. O’Conor, seeing that the Ostmen had deserted him, left the city to its fate and departed.

MacMurrough now plundered Meath and Breffny, territories of his old enemy O’Rourke. In reply O’Conor and O’Rourke put to death the hostages they held, including Dermot’s son Conor. Dermot had regained his kingdom and something more, and in Munster O’Brien was his ally, so that at his death he is called in the Book of Leinster “King of all Leth Mogha and also of Meath.” But he did not live long to enjoy his triumph. He died at Ferns in the spring of 1171 in the sixty-first year of his age. His death was the signal for the Leinster clans to rise under Murtough MacMurrough, Dermot’s nephew. It was also the signal for all Ireland, except the northern Ui Neill, to send contingents to the ard-rí for the siege of Dublin, while Godred, King of Man, was invited to blockade the port. To add to the earl’s difficulties he could get no supplies or reinforcements from Wales, for earlier in the year King Henry, on hearing of the earl’s doings, had placed an embargo on shipping to Ireland, and had even ordered all his subjects who were already there to return before Easter. Raymond, who had been then sent to the king with Strongbow’s assurance that whatever he should acquire in Ireland he would hold at the king’s disposal, had recently returned without a favour­able reply, and Hervey de Montmorency was now sent on a further mission to the king. The siege lasted nearly two months when, as provisions were nearly exhausted, a desperate sortie was made by three small companies. They took O’Conor’s camp at Castleknock by surprise, and the Irish, stript of everything, “fled away like scattered cattle.” It was an astound­ing feat. The rest of the besiegers at once dispersed, and thus ended the last attempt of the ard-rí to expel the invaders.

Hervey seems to have found Henry at Argentan in July, where he had summoned a council with a view to his expedition to Ireland, and it was about the end of August when Hervey reached Waterford with letters from the king bidding Strongbow to come to meet him in England. The earl met Henry in Wales or on its border, and made his peace with the king on the terms that he should surrender Dublin with the adjoining cantreds and the other seaport towns to Henry and hold the rest of Leinster from the king. While the earl was absent from Dublin, Miles de Cogan, who was left in charge of the city, had to meet two attacks on it, one by the late ruler, Asgall son of Turcall, and the other by O’Rourke. The latter seems to have been easily repulsed, but the Scandinavian attack was a more formidable affair. Asgall had collected a large viking foree from the Isles and Man, including a notable berserker named John “the Wode” (furiosus) from Norway, and while they were attacking the east gate Richard de Cogan, brother of Miles, issued from the west gate and took the attackers in the rear. Ultimately, with the aid of the local chieftain, Donnell MacGillamocholmog, the Norsemen were put to flight. John the Wode was killed and Asgall was taken prisoner and beheaded. This was the last attempt of the Scandinavians on Ireland.

Henry landed at Crook near Waterford on 17 October 1171 with a well-equipped army of about 4000 men. He did not come prepared to make any extensive campaign at that late season of the year, and in fact he had no occasion to unsheathe a sword. His primary aim was to secure the supremacy of the Crown over the lands already acquired by the earl. He saw clearly the danger of allowing an independent feudal State to arise on England’s flank. He further hoped to conciliate the Irish and win them over to accept him as their overlord. He entered Waterford the next day, and Strongbow formally surrendered the city to him and did homage for Leinster. Dermot MacCarthy, King of Desmond, at once came and swore fealty to him. Then, knowing how essential it was to gain the favour of the clergy, Henry went to Lismore, where the papal legate, Christian O’Conarchy, was bishop, and with him, no doubt, arranged for the holding of the synod of prelates which met some months later under the legate’s presidency. Next he visited Cashel, the seat of the southern archbishopric, where the synod was afterwards actually held. Near Cashel Donnell O’Brien, King of Thomond, came to meet him and gave in his allegiance, and to both Cork and Limerick the king sent officers of his own to govern the towns. Having left a garrison at Waterford, Henry moved through Ossory to Dublin, which he reached on 11 November, receiving either on the way or at Dublin the submission of all the principal chieftains of Ossory, Leinster, Meath, Breffny, Uriel, and Ulidia (Ulaidh) or North-East Ulster. Rory O’Conor met the king’s messengers, Hugh de Lacy and William Fitz Audelin, on the Shannon, but while ac­knowledging the King of England as his supreme lord, he appears to have insisted on his position as ard-ri with respect to all the other kings of Ireland; this view was met by a compromise four years later, but the arrangement did not last long. Of all Ireland only the Kings of Tirowen and Tirconnell held completely aloof.

Henry kept Christmas in Dublin in a palace constructed of wattlework in the fashion of the country, and entertained there numerous Irish princes who came to visit him. It was probably after Christmas that the Synod of Cashel was held under the presidency of the papal legate. It was attended by the Archbishops of Cashel, Dublin, and Tuam, and their suffragans, together with many abbots, priors, and other dignitaries, while Ralph, Abbot of Buildwas, Ralph, archdeacon of Llandaff, and Nicholas, the king’s chaplain, were present on behalf of the king. The Archbishop of Armagh was in his eighty-fifth year and was unable to attend, but he afterwards assented to the arrangements made. Either now or previously all these prelates made full submission to Henry. The synod issued several decrees directed towards the reformation of certain irregularities in ritual and conduct, the improvement of the status of the Church in Ireland, and its conformity with that in England.

Unfortunately few of Henry’s charters or grants of this period survive or have been recorded. His grant of the city of Dublin (Duvelina) to his men of Bristol (Bristowa), with the liberties and free customs that they had at Bristol and throughout his land, has been exceptionally preserved. But though several men of Bristol took advantage of Henry’s charter to settle in Dublin, it is clear from the names on the earliest rolls of citizens that have been preserved that immigrants, mostly merchants and traders, came from numerous towns in England and Wales and some from Scotland and France. The Ostmen inhabitants that remained appear to have been settled in the northern suburb about St Mary’s Abbey, which came to be known as the Villa Ostmannorum, Ostmaneby, or (corruptly) Oxmantown. Similarly in Waterford, Cork, and Limerick there was an Ostmen’s quarter.

On 1 March Henry left Dublin for Wexford. Owing to contrary winds no news had come from England during the winter, and when at last, about 26 March, news did come it was so serious that he determined to wait no longer. Before leaving he granted Meath to Hugh de Lacy for the service of fifty knights and appointed him justiciar—an appointment which seems to shew that he still felt a certain distrust of the Earl of Striguil. On Easter Monday, 17 April 1172, Henry left Ireland.

Strongbow and Hugh de Lacy now set about securing their respective fiefs, but about a year later Henry summoned both of them to his assistance in Normandy and sent William Fitz Audelin as his representative to Ireland. By this time the replies had been received from Pope Alexander III, dated 20 September 1172, to the letters sent to him from the Synod of Cashel. They were addressed to the prelates, to Henry, and to the kings and princes of Ireland, respectively. They ex­pressed complete approval of what had been done, and contained commands to the clergy and admonishments to the kings to be faithful in their allegiance to the King of England. According to Giraldus, the Pope also sent an express confirmation of Hadrian’s privilege, and these two privilegia were now publicly read before a synod at Waterford. Without here attempting to review the somewhat heated controversy that has arisen concerning the authenticity of these privilegia as given by Giraldus, we may note three points not always observed: (1) Hadrian’s letter does not purport to be a grant of Ireland (though from the first loosely described as such), but only a sanction to Henry’s project; (2) its publication was not delayed beyond what might be expected, considering Henry’s strained relations with the Papacy at the time of his entry into Ireland; (3) if with most scholars of repute we admit as genuine the statement of John of Salisbury in the Metalogicon and Alexander’s three letters, the question of the authenticity of Laudabiliter becomes merely an academic one.

About the close of August 1173 Henry allowed Strongbow to return, and showed confidence in him by entrusting to him the government of Ireland, while recalling the garrisons he had left there. From the time of Strongbow’s first landing to his death was not quite six years. Within this period the settlement of the Crown lands about Dublin and the sub­infeudation of the greater part of Leinster took place. To his principal followers Strongbow granted large fiefs, lying for the most part in the rich lands about the rivers Liffey, Barrow, and Slaney. He had more difficulty with the land about the Nore, for here he came into conflict with Donnell O’Brien. In 1174, indeed, a combination of O’Conor and O’Brien and a revolt of the Ostmen of Waterford reduced him to great straits, from which he was relieved by Raymond le Gros, who was re­warded by the hand of the earl’s sister in marriage and a large fief about the upper waters of the Slaney. On 6 October 1175 a treaty was made at Windsor between Henry and the envoys of O’Conor, by which O’Conor was to hold Connaught of the king as long as he should faithfully serve him, subject to a tribute of hides, and to be overlord of the rest of the land (except what was held in demesne by the king and his barons), and to remove any sub-king who should refuse to pay his share of tribute or withdraw from his fealty, and for this purpose, if necessary, to call for the aid of the king’s constable. This treaty soon proved unworkable. Rory O’Conor had not the power to enforce the obedience of his sub-kings or even, as the event shewed, of members of his own family, and his attempt to do so by calling in Norman troops was probably the cause of his unpopularity and subsequent dethronement. Within eight months from the date of this treaty Strongbow died of blood-poisoning. He was buried in the church of the Holy Trinity at Dublin—a church which, founded in his time on the site of the Norse cathedral and added to, altered, and injured many times since, has been restored in our own days to its original lines, and may well be regarded as a monument of the higher civilisation which Strongbow introduced. By his death the Anglo-Norman colony lost their most prudent leader, one who had thrown in his lot with the country in a constructive spirit and had done much to check the mere filibustering of some of his followers.

Henry now again sent William Fitz Audelin as his representative to Ireland. Acting evidently on instructions, he endeavoured to keep the Geraldines in check. But there was another adventurous spirit who would not be restrained. Setting out from Dublin early in 1177 with a small band of followers, John de Courcy marched rapidly northwards and took by surprise the city of Down, and in the course of the next few years in a series of battles, sometimes “facing fearful odds”, made him­self master of the district lying east of the Newry River, Lough Neagh, and the Bann. Here he encastled and organised a feudal principality for himself, and was not disturbed until after King John came to the throne. But meantime, in May 1177, Henry made an entirely new disposition of Ireland. His son John, then in his tenth year, was created Dominus Hiberniae. Hugh de Lacy was given the custody of Dublin and William Fitz Audelin that of Wexford, while the services of Leinster were divided between the two. But more important than these arrangements, neces­sitated by the minority of Strongbow’s heir, were the grants now made of the “kingdom of Cork” to Robert Fitz Stephen and Miles de Cogan jointly, and of the “kingdom of Limerick” to Philip de Braiose. These grants were obviously inconsistent with the Treaty of Windsor. Pre­sumably Donnell O’Brien was regarded as having withdrawn from his allegiance. Certainly O’Brien, who claimed to be King of Leth Mogha, had fought against Strongbow in Ossory and had been expelled by O’Conor from his kingdom. The city of Cork was still in the hands of an English garrison, and the grantees seem to have come to terms with Dermot MacCarthy, and for the present were satisfied to divide the seven cantreds nearest Cork between themselves. But Philip de Braiose, finding on arrival that the citizens of Limerick set fire to their city rather than surrender it, preferred to return home and not risk his life among such determined enemies.

Hugh de Lacy

Hugh de Lacy was a capable and prudent governor. He occupied him­self in restoring peace and order, in encouraging Irish cultivators to return to their lands, and in building castles both in Meath and Leinster. These early castles, which were hastily erected in all districts occupied by the Normans, were not substantial stone buildings, but, as is now generally recognised, wooden towers erected on earthworks called “mottes.” A motte was a steep mound or hillock of earth surrounded by a fosse, with generally a bailey or court-yard enclosed within palisaded earthen ram­parts at its base. These motte-castles were often replaced by stone castles, but at nearly all the known early manorial centres such earthworks, or traces of them, are to be seen, while they are not found in purely Celtic districts. We hear of no filibustering expeditions under Hugh de Lacy. He married as his second wife a daughter of Rory O’Conor. Indeed it was this marriage and his popularity with the Irish which aroused in Henry’s mind suspicions, probably quite unfounded, of his aiming at becoming King of Ireland. He was superseded in 1184 by Philip of Worcester, and two years later he fell a victim to the vengeance of an Irish assassin.

Meantime, in 1184, Henry conceived the unfortunate plan of sending his son John, then in his eighteenth year, to Ireland as Dominus. John landed at Waterford on 25 April 1185 with some 300 men-at-arms and a large force of horsemen and archers. Among his followers were Bertram de Verdun and Gilbert Pipard, to both of whom he gave lands in County Louth. With him also came Gerald de Barry (Giraldus Cambrensis), to whose writings we owe much of our knowledge of the preceding period. Unfortunately he gives no adequate account of John’s actual doings in Ireland, though in general language he scathingly censures his mis­management of affairs, and intimates that he exasperated the native chieftains and alienated the existing settlers. From other sources we know that John made a large speculative grant to Theobald Walter, ancestor of the Ormonde family, in North Tipperary, and similar grants to William de Burgh and Philip of Worcester in South Tipperary, but his efforts to give possession to his grantees were not successful. Indeed an English chronicler tells us that the greater part of John’s army deserted to the Irish who were about to fight against him, while the Irish annals show that in this year Connaught was torn by a general war among the princes (rigdamna) of the house of O’Conor, and that there were foreign mercenaries (presumably the deserters from John’s army) fighting on behalf of some of the rivals. Eventually Rory O’Conor was banished by his son Conor “of Maenmagh.” No wonder that Henry recalled the Dominus Hiberniae before the year was out.

From this period to the accession of King John we are largely dependent on the bald entries in the Irish annals. In 1189 Conor “of Maenmagh” was killed by his own kinsmen, and after another unsuccessful attempt by Rory O’Conor to recover his throne, his younger brother, Cathal Red Hand (Crobhderg), was generally recognised as king. He was opposed by Cathal Carragh, son of the former king, until in 1202 the latter was slain. In the parts of Ireland already dominated by the Normans this appears to have been a period of peaceful consolidation. Leinster in 1189 passed with the marriage of Strongbow’s heiress to William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. For many years he managed his great fief through seneschals, and it was not until 1207 that he came to reside there, but to his tact, ability, and loyalty the increasing prosperity of the province was largely due. In 1192 an important advance was made by William de Burgh and Philip of Worcester to take possession of the “speculative” fiefs granted to them by Prince John in the Suir valley, and this was continued and extended until by 1197 Limerick was finally in Norman hands, and with the acquiescence of the sons of Donnell O’Brien the lands of their Eoghanacht rivals to the south of the Shannon were divided among the leaders of the expedition. The Norman barons were no doubt rapacious and unscrupulous, but their encroachments were seldom made without both royal warrant and some native encouragement. It seems clear too that John before coming to the throne made a grant of lands in Connaught to William de Burgh, and this, together with a call for his aid by Cathal Carragh, was the ground of William’s interference there in the year 1200. Soon afterwards, however, Cathal Red Hand was recognised by the Crown as a vassal-king, and finally, by a charter dated 13 September 1215, he was to hold his land of Connaught during good service, and so that he should not be disseised thereof without judgment of the king’s court, rendering yearly 300 marks. On the same date a grant was made to Richard, son of William de Burgh, of all the land of Connaught which William his father held, but apparently this grant was to come into operation only if Cathal made default.

John’s attitude towards his barons was always capricious. Thus, after making numerous grants in Counties Limerick and Tipperary, he sought in 1201 to subject the grantees to William de Braiose, to whom for a large fine he granted the honour of Limerick. This naturally provoked opposition, and William de Braiose gained little or nothing by the transaction. Next, John confiscated the lands of John de Courcy, who certainly seems to have been a contumacious subject, and on 29 May 1205 gave them to the younger Hugh de Lacy and created him Earl of Ulster. Then in 1208 John fell out with William de Braiose and pursued him with relentless hostility. In fact, if we are to believe the king’s own account, his great expedition to Ireland in the summer of 1210 was undertaken because William owed the enormous fine of 40,000 marks for regaining the king’s peace. Certain it is that all John’s military actions when in Ireland were directed towards punishing the de Lacys for having harboured William, whom he had outlawed, and who was Walter de Lacy’s father-­in-law. He expelled the de Lacys and confiscated all their lands in Meath and Ulster, and he succeeded in capturing Maud de Braiose, William’s wife, and one of her sons, and starved them to death in prison. He was even suspicious of that most loyal of men, Earl William Marshal, and did what he could to injure him. Only towards the close of his reign, when his enemies were threatening him, did he acknowledge the earl’s sterling worth, and under his influence begin to make restitution to those whom he had despoiled in Ireland. John’s expedition, however, had the wholesome effect of increasing the power of the Crown in Ireland, and under the governors whom he appointed much was done to improve the administration by the formation of counties and sheriffs’ courts, and the institution of itinerant justices outside the great liberties, and by restricting the powers of the courts of the liberties themselves. Under the influence of William Marshal restitution was made to Walter de Lacy and others, but it was not until after Hugh de Lacy had recourse to “direct action” that in 1227 he was restored to his earldom.

Cathal O’Conor remained loyal up to his death in 1224. His son Aedh succeeded to him, but was opposed by a son of Rory, the last ard-rí. Aedh now, like some other Irish potentates, was faced with this dilemma: without seeking English aid he could not overcome his rival, but unless he attacked the English he could not retain the allegiance of his urriaghs (sub-kings). He foolishly tried both alternatives, with the result that he forfeited his position, and Connaught lost its independence. After having regained the crown with English help, Aedh was summoned to the justiciar’s court on a charge of forfeiture. He ignored the summons, and at a subsequent conference near Athlone he seized the English envoys and burned the town. In May 1227 the grant of Connaught to Richard de Burgh was confirmed, five cantreds on the eastern border being retained by King Henry out of which provision was to be made for the Irish king. The province was repeatedly subdued, but several years elapsed before peace was finally established. The main difficulty was to find a king who would remain satisfied with the restricted territory assigned to him. At last in 1235 Felim, another son of Cathal, accepted the five cantreds, and the remaining 25 cantreds were parcelled out by Richard de Burgh among the leaders who had assisted him in his campaigns.

Prince Edward as dominus

In 1254 Henry gave Ireland to his son Edward on his marriage, but so that it should never be separated from the Crown, and retaining to himself all matters relating to the Church. Before this, in 1243, on the death of Hugh de Lacy, his land of Ulster reverted to the Crown and was managed by seneschals, while by 1245 the liberties of both Meath and Leinster, owing to failure of male heirs, had become subdivided and thereby weakened. Edward paid more attention to Gascony and Wales than to Ireland, and relations with the semi-independent kings there grew worse. In 1258 Brian O’Neill attempted to revive in his own person the extinct high-kingship, and Aedh, the warlike son of Felim, confederated with him and gave him hostages; but his neighbour O’Donnell rejected O’Neill’s overtures, quoting the proverb “Every man should have his own world.” This indeed is the sentiment which has ever stood in the way of Irish unity. Next year Aedh O’Conor married a daughter of Dugald MacSorley (Somhalrle), a descendant of Somerled, lord of the Isles, and with her brought back 160 warriors called óglaigh under Dugald’s brother Alan. This was the first of many bands of gall-oglaigh, or “galloglasses” as the name came to be written, that took service as heavy­armed foot-soldiers under Irish chieftains and did much to increase their military power. But, in spite of this foreign aid, the confederates were defeated at the battle of Down in 1260 and Brian O’Neill was killed. In or shortly before 1264, when the struggle with Simon de Montfort was coming to a head, Edward enfeoffed Walter de Burgh in the land of Ulster, and the earldom was revived in his favour. In Earl Walter’s time there was peace in Ulster. Aedh Buidhe O’Neill, the new King of the Cenel Eoghain, was friendly to him. He married a cousin of the earl and acknowledged that he held his regality of him. But in Connaught the earl was not so successful at this time. He had a quarrel about tenure with Maurice Fitz Maurice which caused great disturbance, and he was much harassed by Aedh O’Conor who, on the death of Felim in 1265, became king of a still more restricted territory. He died in 1271 without having been able to subdue his formidable opponent.

During the long reign of Henry III the area of English domination in Ireland had greatly increased, and the peace and prosperity of the more settled districts in the east and south were well maintained. Numerous small towns grew up under the shelter of the castles, and many of these received charters from their lords, formed trade gilds, and became centres of industry and commerce. Rivers were bridged. Cathedrals and monastic and parish churches were built, several of which remain and, whether still in use or in ruins, bear witness to the beauty and strength of thirteenth-century architecture. In Connaught, Thomond, and Desmond, the plan of treating the native chief as a quasi-feudal tenant of the Crown in a restricted part of his former territory had at first some measure of success. These chiefs remained loyal and repeatedly fought beside the king’s forces. But towards the close of the reign some expectant successor would chafe against the restrictions and take the more popular course of heading a raid against his English neighbours.

When Edward I came to the throne, Thomond (i.e. the present County Clare) was being torn between the rival factions of the O’Briens. Brian Roe O’Brien, son of the late King Conor, who held a moiety of Thomond under the Crown, had been expelled by his nephew Turlough. Edward in 1276 sought to put an end to these disturbances by granting the whole of Thomond to Thomas de Clare, brother of the Earl of Gloucester, and by an arrangement with the former Norman owner the castle of Bunratty and the adjoining cantred were given to him in possession. De Clare restored King Brian and expelled Turlough, but next year Brian was defeated by Turlough and de Clare’s brother-in-law slain. In a fit of frenzy de Clare caused Brian to be executed. According to the Caithréim Toirdelbaig, de Clare afterwards repented of this deed and aided Donough, son of Brian, in recovering his father’s throne. A savage warfare ensued, however, between the rival O’Briens until in 1284 Donough was killed. De Clare died on 29 August 1287, when the manor of Bunratty was fairly prosperous, but the vendetta between the O’Brien factions broke out again at intervals until 1318, when Richard, son of Thomas de Clare, was killed, and not long afterwards all hope of maintaining English rule in Thomond was abandoned. The ultimate failure was largely due to the de Burghs of Connaught who, through jealousy of the de Clares, habitually supported the O’Brien party opposed to them.

In Connaught, after the death in 1274 of Aedh son of Felim, the old quarrels between the rival O’Conor factions again broke out, and in the next four years four successive aspirants to the throne were killed by their kinsmen. The fighting, however, was confined to the cantreds reserved for them, and at first the English did not interfere. According to the story of a late chronicler, Edward in 1278 called his justiciar, Robert d’Ufford, to account for permitting “such shameful enormities,” and he replied that “in policie he thought it expedient to winke at one knave cutting off another,” whereat “the king smiled and sent him back to Ireland.” Whether true or false, the story is ben trovato and seems applicable to other periods in Irish history, but such is not the policy by which good government can be maintained. Robert d’Ufford, however, built the great Edwardian castle of Roscommon and repaired those of Athlone and Randown to protect the southern part of the county now in the hands of English settlers.

A Pax Normannica

In Ulster after 1280, when Earl Richard de Burgh, son of Earl Walter, was given seisin of his lands, the disturbances which often accompanied a minority ceased, and by 1286 the young earl was supreme in all his dominions both in Connaught and Ulster. In Connaught indeed the old quarrel with the Geraldine feoffees broke out in 1294, but ultimately John Fitz Thomas, head of the Geraldines, was obliged to surrender his Connaught lands to the earl, whose supremacy was now undisputed over the whole north of Ireland from Carlingford Lough to Galway Bay. He took an important part in the Scottish campaigns of 1296 and 1303, and up to the period of Bruce’s invasion was by far the most powerful man in Ireland, but probably just because of his great power he was never actually made justiciar. The most successful justiciar appointed by Edward I was John de Wogan, lord of Picton Castle near Haverford, who retained his post almost continuously from 1295 for eighteen years. In 1297 he summoned the first council that can properly be called a parliament, to which, in addition to the lords temporal and spiritual usually summoned by writ, two knights for each shire and liberty were to be elected “by the assent of the county or liberty”, and in subsequent parliaments in 1300 and 1310 the cities and boroughs were also represented. Unfortunately the experiment of summoning the principal Irish chieftains was not tried.

All the great legislation of Edward I in England, framed for the improvement of the law and the reform of its administration, was extended to Ireland. The justiciars held their courts throughout Meath, Leinster, and Munster. The increasing wealth of the orderly districts is shewn in many ways: by the growth of numerous towns, by the largely increased revenue, by the produce of the tax on the export of wool and the great variety of articles subject to customs duties, by the considerable subsidies granted and the large quantities of corn and other supplies purchased for Edward’s foreign wars. The farming accounts of the Earl of Norfolk’s estates in Counties Carlow and Wexford shew in detail the careful way in which landed property was managed, and many inquisitions attest the large acreage “ under the lord’s plough.” All this prosperity was rendered possible by the comparative order which went hand in hand with Norman domination, and in the latter part of Edward’s reign it seemed as if a Pax Normannica was about to extend throughout the length and breadth of the land.

But there was another side to the picture. There were large districts where Gaelic clans continued to live in their old independent way under their antiquated customs and were little affected by the material progress beyond their borders. The ideal of Norman feudalism was incompatible with that of the Celtic clan-system. The clansmen would not part with their liberty for a peace and order they did not value. Their chieftains would not willingly subordinate themselves to any superior, whether Gael or Norman. These characteristics had always operated against the political unity of Ireland, and they operated still. Notwithstanding some intermarriages, the races as a whole did not amalgamate. The incomers regarded the natives as an inferior race, whereas in reality they were only in an earlier stage of the evolution of civilisation. The Geraldines understood them best, and saw that if they lacked some of the elements essential to the vitality of a nation, they had many good qualities, such as physical courage, intelligence, and a taste for literary culture of their own. The natives, on the other hand, thought the foreigners proud and rapacious, as indeed, like most conquerors, they often were. Thus the Gaelic clans were for the most part ever ready to take advantage of any governmental weakness to plunder and destroy the wealth of their neighbours which they had not the qualities to create or maintain for themselves. The opportunity came with the weak rule of Edward II and the invasion of Edward Bruce.