Caps. ii. No. 26.
|293. Description of the Realm of Ireland, its Maritime Ports and Cities, with the Names of the Bishoprics, Lords, Counts and Nobles of that Realm made at the Instance of His Illustrious Lordship Don John Borgia, Ambassador of his Catholic Majesty in the Kingdom of Portugal, 1574, by David Wolf. S.J.|
Preface: deprecating misconstruction. The writer has no ill feeling towards the English nation or the Lady Elizabeth, but is actuated only by zeal for the honour of God and the Catholic Church, the weal of souls, and the extirpation of the Lutheran pest from the kingdom. He would not have written the Description had not the Bull of Pope Pius V, dated 25 February, 1570, released him from his fealty to the Lady Elizabeth.
Cap. i. Summary of the account given by Giraldus Cambrensis in his Historia Hibernica of the conquest of Ireland about 500 B.C. by the five sons of Milis [sic Milesius], King of Spain or Biscay, and their partition of the island into five kingdoms, to wit, Ulster, Leinster, Connaught and the two (now three) Munsters, the remaining territory, Meath, being assigned to the eldest of the Kings, to whom the rest did homage and paid tribute: which régime continued in the successors of the said Kings until the time of Henry II, King of England, who, at the instance of Dermit Makmorochou, King of Leinster, authorised by letters under the great seal all his subjects to aid the said Dermit in a war in which he was engaged with the other Kings of the island.
Cap. ii. Reinstatement of King Dermit by Richard Strongbow. —This being rather nominal than real, Henry II was invited to annex the island, which, as part of the patrimony of St. Peter, could not be annexed without the Pope's licence.
By bull of Pope Adrian IV  licence granted to the King to take possession of the Kingdom not as King but as Lord, and subject to conditions very beneficial to the inhabitants, alike in temporal as in spiritual matters.
Cap. iii. Touching Maurice FitzGerald and his sons.— Eminent among the cavaliers who settled in the island was Maurice FitzGerald, of a noble Florentine house, ancestor of the Earls of Kildare and Desmond. He was the founder of two monasteries in Iochel [Youghal]. Gerald, the Earl of Desmond that now is, and his brother John were by the guile of the Viceroy, Henry Sydney, brought captives to England on 17 November 1567, and imprisoned in the Tower of London. But their kinsman, James [Fitz]Maurice, whom they had made Captain General and Governor of Desmond before they left Ireland, bravely defended the Church and the clergy against the Lutheran heretics, signally defeated the Viceroy, and afterwards compelled John Parot [Perrott] President of Munster, to make an ignominious truce and withdraw from Ireland, 17 July last year, 1573; so that the Lady Elizabeth was compelled to release Earl Gerald and his brother John and send them back to Ireland. This truce, however, would not have been allowed by James FitzMaurice FitzGerald, but that owing to the accord made by the King of Spain with the Lady Elizabeth he was disappointed of succour which he expected from Spain.
Cap. iv. Touching Ulster and its ports, sees and lords.—This northern province has havens most fair and secure, affording refuge to numberless ships in all stress of weather, such as Dunnagaill [Donegal], Keali Beaggthy [Killybegs], Assarvo [Assaroe], Suilli [Loch Swilly], Lough Foyl, Banna [the Bann], Knockfargus [Carrickfergus], Carlinogford, Dundalk and Ariglas [Ardglass], but has no strong city or fortress save the castle of Knockfargus, which is in the possession of the English. The province contains nine sees, to wit, the Archbishopric of Armagh, and the sees of Derry, Raphoe, Clogher, Dromore, Down, Connor, Kilmore and Ardagh. The episcopal cities are neither large nor walled, for in old time the piety of the people rendered walls needless; but to-day by reason of the sins of the clergy and people it is not only walls that are wanting but also inhabitants, so that the cities are deserted, and all as it were derelict.
There are also in Ulster about 19 great lords besides many untitled nobles, with vast estates but slender revenues, to wit, Lord Oneyl. Odoneill, Lords Clanebuy, three in number, Lords Oreyn [O'Reillys], Orvoyrk [Iveagh], Odochoro [O'Doherty], Ochain [O'Cahan]. Ohailon [O'Hanlon], Makuir [Maguire], Makenisa [Magennis], Makeillin [M'Quillin], Makmalahowna [M'Mahon], Maksoina [MacSweeney], Makonell [MacDonnell], three in number, Oferally [O'Farrelly].
There are some castles in Ulster, but most of the people dwell in tents, and migrate frequently by reason of their herds.
Ulster is divided into three parts, to wit, Tirone, Tirconnel, Clanebuy. Tirone is held by Oneyll, Tirconnel by Odoneill, Clanebuy by divers nobles (without the title of Lord) and all of the Oneyll family. Clanebuy is the fairest and most fertile of all the three parts. All these countries are ever at war with one another, but they always join their forces against the English, and they are always victorious.
All the other lords of Ulster obey one or other of these two lords, to wit, Oneyll or Odoneill. It is to be observed that not only in Ulster but throughout the realm, and in all parts of Ireland, every lord or gentleman, or other person that has O or Mak at the beginning of his name or surname is of Spanish descent, e.g. Oneyll, Obrien, Oduyr, Makuir, Makauly, Makray, Odoyn, Makbrien, &c.
But lords use this O or Mak only as indicative of their title, as Oneyll, Obrien, Odoneill, Makeig, Makchonogo, and they would take it amiss if anyone were to call them by their baptismal name; but the other gentlemen, or persons of low condition, that are of the Spanish nation, always make use of this O or Mak for their surname, prefixing their proper name as John Oneill, Philip Oduyr, Maurice Makbrien, &c.
Cap. v. Touching Meath, its Lords and Sees.—Meath is in the east of Ireland between Ulster and Leinster, a very fertile country, rich and abounding in all necessaries of life. Though it is but a strip of land, sixty or seventy miles in length and about twenty miles in breadth, it supports at least 1,500 knights and the like number of stipendiarii and gentlemen, all well horsed and armed and ready for action at a moment's notice. There is scarce a mile in the country in which there is not either a large town or a castle or some lord's or gentleman's seat. There is no city on the coast, but there is a great town near the sea named Droheda, well walled in the old fashion, and containing about 700 or 800 inhabitants, all merchants or artisans, and all Catholics, though perforce they go to hear the alcoran of the heretics. They have no munitions or artillery, but are armed only with bows, arquebuses and such like weapons.
There are at least six great barons in Meath, to wit, those of Slany [Slane], Dealigna [Delvin], Dunbuigna [Dunboyne], Schirina [Skreen], Naven [Navan] and Gallatrini [Galtrim].
There are also some lords, as they are called in English, people of great authority, to wit, the Viscount of Germastone [Gormanstown], the Plonketts of Killin [Killeen], Rathmore, Dunsanni [Dunsany], Lutthe [Louth], Bernaval [Barnewall] of Tremenstone [Trimblestown], Lord de Haude [Houth], Lords Omelachlin, [O'Melachlin], Omoluua [O'Molloy], Makochlan [M'Coghlan], Makeochigain [MacGeoghegan], and many others. Among all these barons, lords, knights and gentlemen I know but one heretic, to wit, the Viscount of Gormonstone (sic). The Lords Plonkett are all of the same house, and in time of war range themselves under the banner of Lord Plonkett of Killin, because his descent is the most ancient. I was told by the Lord of Rathmore, who was for many days my companion in prison, that this Plonkett family can put in the field 500 knights, well armed, besides as many footmen of the same house.
In point of civilisation Meath is on a par with France or England, for the people have kept the traditions of their ancestors who came to Ireland with King Henry II, and have not intermarried or mixed with the rest of the inhabitants of the country. Hence Meath has ever since been and still is as it were a separate state, or republic, well governed in love and charity.
In Meath under the Archbishop of Armagh there are two sees, those, to wit, of Meath and Clonmacnois. There is no episcopal city in Meath. The title is derived from the diocese.
Cap. vi. Touching Leinster.—This is a very beautiful and fertile country, and for that reason the English whom King Dermit Makmorochou called to his aid to reinstate him found a pretext for unlawfully expelling him. It is now in the possession of Gerald FitzGerald, Earl of Kildare, and Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond. It is situate in the eastern part of the island between Meath and Munster, and has some ports that afford safe harbourage for ships, such as Dublin, Arklow, Macleu [Wicklow], Wexford.
Dublin is the capital city not only of Leinster but also of all the realm of Ireland, as the Viceroy resides there with his Court and the Council of the realm. It is a city walled in the ancient fashion, but of no strength, and I should think its population might be about 2,000. There is a castle in the city built by John, King of England, son of King Henry II, and in that castle the Viceroy has resided for the last seven years, for fear, some say, of the gentlemen of the country, because in time past the Viceroys used to live in other places outside the city. Five years I have been a, prisoner in that castle, in which they keep their artillery, stores of arms and other munitions of war. And many a time I have procured with money permission to see the munitions, which I have minutely examined and tested again and again, and think little thereof, because I have seen but three great pieces of artillery, which are called demi-cannon, therein. There are also ten or twelve small pieces such as three or four horses might draw. There are balls without number and of such a size that there is neither in that realm nor yet in England any artillery for which they might serve, and they are rather for show than for use. One of the custodians told me that they had not three pipes of powder in all the Castle, and I readily believe it. There are bows and arrows for 2,000 soldiers, and not arquebuses for 100. Of equipment for horses I saw no sign, and there is but little for footsoldiers, chiefly shirts of mail for at most 600 men. I also saw about 600 halberds and about 1,000 lances or pikes for horse and foot. Other means of warfare there is none either there or in any of the cities and castles of Ireland except two pieces of artillery which I saw in Cork and other two in Dinghel [Dingle] and a piece in Leglen [Leighlin]. In time past there were many pieces of artillery and much powder in Ireland, but the Lady Elizabeth caused them to be withdrawn from the realm and sent to the Prince of Condé for service against the King of France; and they were captured by the French at sea and appropriated to the King's use.
Cap. vii. Touching the speech of the Viceroy, Henry Sidney, in the last Parliament of 1569.—It seems that for many a year the English in view of the disaffection of the Irish have regarded the realm as lost, especially as they are much afraid that the Catholic League has been formed for no other object than the invasion of England and Ireland; and for this reason they have denuded the realm of the means of defence, and neither fortify nor build cities or castles therein, knowing for certain that it is already lost.
This is manifest from the words which fell from the Viceroy. Henry Sidney, in the last Parliament at Droheda in 1569:—
[After declaring the Parliament adjourned and descanting on the benefits received by Ireland from the Sovereigns of England, the Viceroy adverted to the insurrection, then in progress, in England, of the Earls of Westmorland and Northumberland, and the risk of the disaffected conspiring to bring a foreign Power into Ireland: he then proceeded as follows:—]
“Therefore her Majesty wills and commands, and I on her part command, that you all be vigilant to watch and guard with all diligence your seaports, especially in the southern part of the realm, such as Cork, Kinsale, Ballatimor [Baltimore], and other ports in that part, and that upon sighting any ships, more than five or six in company, making for the realm, you forthwith give warning to the gentlemen in your neighbourhood, and this under pain of death. I doubt not that there are here, and throughout the realm, vile and thankless persons without number who would rather see this realm under the sway of the Spaniards than under that of England; but if they knew how the Spaniards treat the Sicilians, the Neapolitans, the Milanese, the Flemings, and the Indians and the natives of all the other regions where they bear sway, I have good reason to say and affirm that this people would not welcome them to the country. So now let each of you, my lords, take heart of grace and publish these my words to your subjects when you go back to your houses; and so you be loyal subjects to her Majesty, I promise you on her part that you will not lack her favour and her good offices, to each according to his deserts. Besides which you will do a service well pleasing to God, to whom we all pray that He grant her Majesty long and prosperous life and victory over all her enemies.’ And having ended his speech, he said God save the Queen, and the people replied Amen.
“This speech of the Viceroy provided the English heretics with much food for thought and occasion to lament that the Viceroy should have so delivered himself in so public a place, as also it gave the Catholics occasion to rejoice in the hope that at no distant time such words must have some good effect, but alas! that our sins deserve yet more chastisement than we suffer.
“I have thus written that it may be understood that the English themselves and their magistrates have their doubts of the permanence of their rule in Ireland for the reasons aforesaid.”
Cap. viii. Touching Dublin and other ports of Leinster.—
“Dublin is a fair city three or four miles from the sea. It is governed, as is every other city in the realm, by a mayor and other officials elected by the citizens, and his office is for a year. The citizens are almost all Catholics, especially the natives of the city, though they go perforce to the communion and sermons of the heretics.
“In the castle, of which I have already spoken, there is no ordinary guard save that which the Viceroy has about his person, nor are there victuals in the castle, because hitherto there has been no need of them, all the surrounding country being peaceful; but by reason of its antiquity and dilapidation the castle is not strong enough to withstand great artillery; the walls are about nine feet thick, as measured by me several times. The surrounding country is very fertile, and yields abundance of grain, meat, fish, and other necessaries of life.
“There are other seaports in Leinster, as Wicklow, 24 miles from Dublin towards the south, a little town with a castle upon a rock to keep out enemies' ships; but the castle has for many years been abandoned by the English, and is almost in ruins. It is commonly said that this was the first town that the glorious apostle of the country, St. Patrick, entered when he came to preach the faith of Christ our Lord to the people of Ireland; and that he cursed the river of the town because the fishermen had plucked out a tooth from the jaw of one of his companions; and that from that day to this never a salmon has been caught in that river, though, as I have seen with my own eyes, thousands of salmon are daily seen leaping out of the water in view of the town, but there is no catching them. Since the plucking out of the tooth of St. Patrick's comrade the town has been called in the Irish language Kilmantayn, i.e. the church of the toothless.
“In Leinster there is also the port of Wexford, or Guexford, a great city walled on one side and having on the other the water by way of wall; ships and barks are there in plenty, as many, I am informed, as 300 large barks and ships, though the ships cannot be of great draught by reason of the bar at the mouth of the river. This bar I crossed on my escape from Dublin Castle on 26 July, 1572; and it being already night when I entered the town, I could not well survey it, or ascertain the strength of the castle, but I am informed that for many years it has been in ruins and wholly deserted. In Werclou [Arklow] there is a castle of Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond, and the port is very safe, but few ships enter it, because it is not a place where merchants traffic.”
Cap. ix. Touching the sees, the names of the gentlemen and the great cities of Leinster.—“In Leinster the sees are the Archbishopric of Dublin and the four bishoprics of Kildare, Ossory, Leighlin and Ferns. All the bishops are heretics or schismatics, for they have received their sees from the Lady Elizabeth; nevertheless I know some of them who would much rather be Catholics but that they would lose their sees.
“There are also many temporal lords in Leinster, as well of the English as of the Spanish nation; as:—Gerald FitzGerald, Earl of Kildare, Roland Lord of Kilcullin, Sir Maurice Fitz Thomas de Geraldines, Comodus [Edmund] Lord of Montgerard [Mountgarret], Sir Thomas Stukley, an Englishman, Lord Bremengiam [Bermingham], alias Makeoris [MacFeorais], Makmorochou [MacMurrough] of the blood royal of Leinster and a great lord. Othuotill [O'Toole], Obreyn [O'Byrne], Oduyn [O'Dunne], Odyniosa [O'Dempsey], Omoro [O'More], Ocononocahour [O'Conor]alli, Makilliphadrik [FitzPatrick], and many other lords, noble knights and untitled gentlemen, whose names, not to be too tedious, I omit.
“The aforesaid Englishman, Thomas Stukley, is at present at his Catholic Majesty's Court, and has purchased very great estates and possessions. He is a very noble person, and in the last few years has sustained immense losses at the hands of certain rebels. He is a man of high spirit, generosity and great valour; and for his rare virtues and magnanimity and the hatred he bears to the heretic English, and his great zeal for the Catholic faith, the gentlemen of Leinster, who are of the Spanish nation, would fain have made him their captain general, and obeyed him as their superior and lord, but the Lady Elizabeth's persecution of him compelled him to quit the country; wherefore these lords are ever at war with the Viceroy and those that obey the Lady Elizabeth.
“All the lords and gentlemen of Ireland, all the soldiers and all the nobles not of Leinster only but also of Munster, Connaught, Ulster and Meath, await with the utmost anxiety his arrival with a fleet, the good Catholics to aid and lovingly embrace him, the heretics to flee from him in fear. Such is the dread and terror that he implanted in the hearts of the English magistrates of the realm of Ireland that they were at a loss what to do or say, insomuch that some said that the Viceroy, Henry Sidney, craved leave of the Lady Elizabeth to quit his office for fear of the said Sir [Thomas] Stukley. I have much to say of his magnanimity, and of what he may do in that island, and of the great esteem in which he is held by the great lords of the realm, and how many there are that would gladly embrace him; but this I cannot do in writing, nor were it proper to do so at present. I shall say it by his leave in meet time and place; however, this one thing I say and affirm with truth, that he is heartily beloved by the good and feared by the evil folk; and this is a good sign.
“There are no cities in Leinster save Dublin, but there are large towns in abundance, and some are walled, such as Wexford, Rosse, Keaharlach [Carlow], Balathy [Athy], Daghyn [Dingen or Philipstown], Leighlin, Kildare, Moynode [Maynooth], Inis Dioge [Inistioge], Thomastown, Kilkenny, Callyn [Callan], and many large castles besides, strong according to the standard of the country. Nevertheless there is no town or castle that could withstand a company of soldiers with but two pieces of artillery of the demi-cannon type.”
Cap. x. Touching Munster and the three parts into which it is divided, and first of Ormond, the third part.—“Munster is divided into three parts, to wit, Ormond, Desmond, and Thomond, but Desmond is the largest of the three parts.
“Munster is situate in the southern part of Ireland between Leinster and Connaught, and is a very fair and fertile country.
“Thomas Butler is Earl of Ormond—part, as I have already said of Leinster is also in his dominion—and he has many lords and vassals in that his country who yield him obedience and tribute, such as Theobald, Lord of Cahir, FitzPiers, Lord of Dunbuigna [Dunboyne], Edmond, Lord of Montgerart [Mountgarret], Don Edmond, Don Edward and Don Peter Butler, brothers of the said Earl Thomas, lords of very large estates, Lord Okearrull [O'Carroll], of the Spanish nation, Lords Oduyr [O'Dwyer], Omeacchir [O'Meagher], Okenedydoyn [O'Kennedy don], Okenedy feyn [O'Kennedy finn], Makeig [M'Keogh], besides many other lords, barons, knights, nobles, and gentlemen, owning castles and very great estates and possessions.
“In Ormond there are no cities, but there are some large walled towns, as Cashel, Gouran, Callan, Fegart [Fethard], Cnach [Carrick], Clomell [Clonmel] and many strong castles besides.
Cap. xi. Touching Desmond and its lords, cities and ports.—
“Lord Gerald FitzGerald (for such also is the style of the Earl of Kildare), Earl of Desmond, has in his dominion many lords and noble knights who ever obey him as and when he pleases and at all times, to wit: The Earl of Clenkarhy [Clancarty] of the Spanish nation, recently made Earl by the Lady Elizabeth, formerly styled Makarthymoi [MacCarthy mor]; Don John, brother of Earl Gerald, a great lord; Don James FitzMaurice de Geraldines, Don Thomas de Geraldines. John Lepore [Le Poer], Lord of Corrachmor [Curraghmore], Gerald Viscount of Desagh [Decies]; James Lord Barrimor; Lord Barryogge, David Lord Roche, Cormak Makarthy, Lord of Moseri [Muskerry]; Thomas Baron of Licknar [Lixnaw]; Lord Makarthy Riache [MacCarthy reagh]; MakMahonna [MacMahon] in the West; Lord Barry Ruo [Barry ruadh]; Lord Patrick Condon, Lord Patrick de Cursy [de Courcey]; Lord William de Burgh, Lord de Fitzwilliam; Odrischeol Dowyn [O'Driscoll donn]; Odrischeol Feyn [O'Driscoll finn]; Odonochou Ingleana [O'Donoghue an gleanna]; Osuillivan Biarra [Beare]; Makonnocho [M'Donogh]; Okeallachain [O'Callaghan]; Oconochour Kerrey [O'Conor Kerry]; Makbrien Oghuonache [Ogonach]; Mak Thomas de Geraldines; Odrischeol Ruo [ruadh]; Makillicodda [M'Gillacuddy]; Makouiley [M'Auliffe]; Okist [Ocush]; Omolrian [O'Mulryan]; Maky Brien Arrath [MacBrien of Ara]; Lord Roche Ruo [Ruadh]. The three knights, to wit, the Knight of Kerry, the Knight of Valle [Glynn], the Knight of Cleyn Gibbon [the White Knight], which three knights, albeit they are called knights, are lords of very large estates, and of many castles and towns. There are also many more lords, knights and nobles and gentlemen in Desmond, whom I pass over here, lest I be too tedious.
“There are three cities in Desmond, as also many very safe ports, and easy of access; to wit, the ports of Waterford, Limerick, Dungarrivan, Ballintimor [Baltimore], Crouchan [Crookhaven], Dunchiaran [Dunkerrin], Dinghel [Dingle], Cork, Jochele [Youghal], Kensale. the port of Cape Clere [Clear], Dunbuyn [Dunboy]. Ballinschelinghy [Skelligs], Fintra [Ventry], Smeruik [Smerwick], alias Ardchanhy [Ardcanny], Byal [Berehaven], Inschatty [Scattery] for access to Limerick.
“All these are chief ports, besides which, there are ports which ships enter of necessity or under stress of weather, for safety's sake.”
Cap. xii. Touching the City of Waterford.—“Waterford is in Desmond, a city well walled in the ancient fashion and the wealthiest in Ireland. Its population may be about 1,000; and all the citizens are Catholics with the exception of four or five young men, and all are merchants or artisans: they are given rather to business than to warfare, and have no munitions of war save perhaps four or five pieces of artillery, and these very small, and of little value because they have not men enough to withstand a thousand armed soldiers. Waterford has a very beautiful situation about 12 miles from the sea and upon a great river called Seur [Suir], which is so deep that ships of a thousand pipes can sail up to the city even at low tide.
Cap. xiii. Touching the City of Cork.—“Cork is in Desmond, a well walled and strong city in the middle of a river called Ligh [Lee]. The city is entered by bridges of wood made with a view to the greater security of the city, but above and close to the city there is a mountain from which one could not only demolish the houses of the city with artillery, but also kill the people in the centre of the place with arquebuses, so near is the mountain to the city.
“The river is so large and deep that I saw there three Flemish hulks, of 1,400 and 1,600 of wheat, captured by English pirates. The city may contain about 800 inhabitants, all merchants, fishermen and artisans, and all Catholics, though they have a heretic for bishop, who preaches ever the Lutheran heresy to the people, but by God's grace to no purpose, though they are constrained to go to his sermons and other ceremonies that he performs.
“The city has no defensive munitions save two pieces of artillery, and neither is a demi-cannon, nor yet have they powder or balls for them; and it might be taken without resistance, for well I know the spirit and heart of the citizens who desire nought else in the world than the Catholic religion.
“The city is very fertile, and abounds in meat, fish, wheat and other grain. It is distant from the sea eight or ten miles.”
Cap. xiv. Touching the City of Limerick.—“Limerick is the strongest and fairest of all the cities of Ireland, well walled with great walls of live rock of marble. It is built on an island in the middle of the rapid Shannon stream, and can only be entered by bridges of stone, two in number, the one of fourteen arches, the other of eight. It is about 60 miles from the high sea, but ships of 400 pipes sail up to the city. Most of the houses are built of squared blocks of black marble, and after the manner of towers or fortresses.
“The suburb is better walled than the city itself, the wall being 10 feet thick, and in some places 140 feet high, and about it there are ten towers or ramparts, very fine and strong, which prevent access to the wall.
“The population of the city may number 800 or 900 souls; all Catholics save seven or eight young men who embrace the Lutheran leprosy, rather to please the Lady Elizabeth than for any other cause.
“The city has a castle built by John, son of King Henry II, and now for many years uninhabited. The houses and roof of the castle are in ruins, and part of the wall has fallen, but might be reinstated at little cost. It is splendidly situate high above the city to keep it ever in subjection, albeit the citizens have always been loyal to the Princes of England. Artillery Limerick has none save two very small pieces, and no other munitions of war save a few arquebuses, bows and crossbows. I may truly affirm that in all the city there is not half a pipe of powder for the artillery.
“The city is most beautifully situate between Desmond and Thomond, the great river of the Shannon dividing the one country from the other; and save in time of war the city has ever an abundant supply of grain, meat, milk produce, and river fish. Besides these three cities there are in Desmond many great towns well walled, such as Dungarrivan, Iochel [Youghal], Kinsale, Kilmohalegge [Kilmallock], Denghel [Dingle], Cayr Dunihiesk [Cahirdunesk or Cahir], Asketine [Askeaton], Traglie [Tralee] and the so-called Isle of the Earl [Castleisland].
“There are also numberless castles of lords and gentlemen, which to describe would but weary myself and the reader, and so I pass them by in God's name.”
Cap. xv. Touching Thomond, which is the third part of Munster.—“The third part of Munster is called Thomond, and even to our day its lord bears the name Obrien, a, name much celebrated and revered throughout the island for ancient nobility and expertness in feats of arms and other rare virtues; and in times past Obrien was ever wont to be King of all Munster, and frequently monarch of all the island. Henry VIII, not being able to brook so famous a name in that country, summoned to England about the year 1540 the Obrien that then was, and caused him to lay aside that name, and gave him the title of Earl of Thomond. To-day the lord of that country calls himself Conor Obrien, Earl of Thomond, and is obeyed by few gentlemen in his country, because certain nobles of the same nation are perpetually at war with him, whose names are the following:—the Baron of Insichoyn [Inchiquin]; the two Maknamarry [MacNamaras], great lords; the two Makmohouni [MacMahons], also great lords; Olochlin [O'Loughlin]; Ograda [O'Grady]; Ochonochour [O'Conor] of Corchomoruo [Corcomroe]; Lord Donald Obrien, and many other noble knights and gentlemen of the Spanish nation, untitled, though owners of very great estates, castles and towns; but the greater part of them obey not the Earl, because he upholds the cause of the English, and they do the contrary.
“In Thomond there is no city or seaport whatever, though the Earl has many beautiful castles near the river Shannon, and in their neighbourhood ships may well find shelter from any tempest; but there is no traffic of merchants in those his castles nor yet in his towns.
“There are mines of metal and silver in Thomond, as likewise in all the island, in great abundance; and Conor, Earl of Thomond, got much therefrom, but the English do not suffer him to get any more. He was banished from his dominions by the Lady Elizabeth in 1571, and afterwards at the intercession of the King of France he was reinstated in favour, but he is none too firmly seated or secure in his dominions by reason of the perverseness and perfidy of the Lady Elizabeth.”
Cap. xvi. Touching the sees of Munster.—“There are in Munster an archbishopric and ten bishoprics, to wit, the archbishopric of Cashel in Ormond, and the bishoprics of Waterford, Lismore, Cloyne, Cork, Ross, Kerry, Limerick and Emly, in Desmond; Killaloe and Kilfenora, in Thomond.
“All these eleven bishoprics are very fine episcopal sees, and so likewise are all the other bishoprics of the island, but they are not cities as in other parts of the world, save Dublin, Waterford, Limerick and Cork.
“All the Catholic bishops of Munster have been deprived of their sees by the Lady Elizabeth, and some have been banished the realm, as Maurice, Archbishop of Cashel, and Maurice, Bishop of Emly, but Thomas, Bishop of Ross is a prisoner in England, true pastor as he of the sheep of Christ, steadfast and strong in the Catholic faith. Hugh, Bishop of Limerick is now old and is a fugitive in the island with some of his kinsfolk and friends. Munster is nearer to Spain than any other part of the realm, and how well affected towards the Spanish nation I, for good reasons, forbear to write.”
Cap. xvii. Touching Connaught, its situation, sees, ports and the names of its lords.—“Connaught is a most beautiful country, situate between Munster and Ulster in the western part of the realm of Ireland. It has eight episcopal sees, to wit:—The archbishopric of Tuam, the bishoprics of Kilmacduagh, Clonfert, Enaghdune, Mayo, Killala, Achonry, Elphin. The bishops of these sees are for the most part Catholic, but some are schismatics, having received their sees from the Lady Elizabeth; and all these schismatics desire the remodelling of the Catholic Church.
“In Connaught there is no city, but there are some seaports, as Galway, Soligo, otherwise Sligheach [Sligo], Moeyn [Mannin].
“Galway is a well walled and strong town hard by the sea. All the inhabitants are Catholics, except fifteen young men, who to please the Lady Elizabeth embrace that Lutheran novelty. Galway lacks munitions of war, artillery and powder alike, and is a town which, albeit I have called it strong, is very easy to take by reason of a mountain hard by, and also very easy to keep and defend, especially if some strong Prince should have charge of it. In Connaught there is a very strong castle called Roscommon, built by John, son of Henry II, while he was Viceroy of Ireland for his father.
“This castle is in a most beautiful plain beside a great lake which all but surrounds the castle; and as it was built upon the territory of Lord Oconochour doyn [O'Conor don] against his will, he took it, and it was kept by his successors for some three hundred years until the Oconochour of to-day, being in April, 1567, under a safe conduct with the Viceroy Henry Sidney in Galway, and apprehending no foul play, was, notwithstanding his safe conduct, oh! gross perfidy!, constrained by the said Henry Sidney to surrender the castle to the English before the poor old man got out of their hands, albeit he suffered much hardship with me in Dublin Castle for a year before he surrendered the castle. The good old man told me that, were he in that castle with victuals and a few munitions, he would defy all the artillery in the world that might be brought against it. But it will be very difficult for the English to hold it for long, as it is more than eighty miles from Dublin, where they keep what few munitions they have.
“In Connaught there is a well walled town called Ardy [Athenry], which Don (sic) James FitzMaurice and the sons of Earl Richard de Burgh demolished and burned in the year 1572, besides more than three hundred manor-houses and castles and large towns that obeyed and supported the Lady Elizabeth.
“Crossing the great river Shannon Don James FitzMaurice passed into Connaught in aid of the sons of Earl Richard de Burgh, who were waging relentless war upon the Lady Elizabeth on the score of the said Earl, whom she kept in prison in Dublin; and having collected a great army they recrossed the Shannon and entered Meath, doing boundless ravage and scathe, reducing castles, towns, manor-houses to ruins, and burning the town of Allon [Athlone], where resided the President of Connaught, Edward Fitton by name, who defended the castle, but had not courage or forces enough to sally forth to encounter Don James.
“This castle of Allon [Athlone] is on the Shannon, and is of great strength. It is held by the English, but by way of munitions it has but two very small pieces of artillery, as I am informed by a very reverend person. Besides the towns and castles above named there are many castles of lords and gentlemen, but none are strong enough to withstand great pieces of artillery, nor yet have they any munitions.
“There is an earl in Connaught named Richard de Burgh, a very Catholic man and virtuous, who is, as it were, lord of all Connaught with many other lords under him and obedient to him, such as his kinsman, Lord John de Burgh, Ochonochour doyn [O'Conor don], Ochonochour Ruo, Ochonochour Slyghi [O'Conor Sligo], Okealli [O'Kelly], O Dudo [O'Dowd], 0 Flahirty, Oshachenassa [O'Shaughnessy], O Hairt [O'Hart], O Berryn [O'Beirne], Makiermodo [MacDermot], Makonocho [McJonick], Makostella [Costello]; and many more lords, knights, nobles and gentlemen who have castles, towns and vast estates, and are of the same house of Burgh, but have no titles. This house of Burgh is of French origin; they were earls in the time of Henry II, who, being a Frenchman, brought these Richards des [Burgh], for such was then their name, into Ireland, and gave them the fairest places in the island.
“They are men of valour and great virtue, and are almost all ruddy, handsome, and great of stature, and ever ready for war. This closes the detailed description of Ireland, of which I will now say a few words in general, that you may know that his Catholic Majesty should not let slip the opportunity of taking so good and beautiful a kingdom.”
Cap. xviii. General description of the realm of Ireland.— “Ireland abounds in wheat, barley, oats, pease and the like vegetables. There are in Ireland numberless fine and spirited horses of all sorts, numberless sparrowhawks, falcons and the like birds; also numberless big birds such as cranes (?) both tame and wild, geese tame and wild, ducks, peacocks, partridges, pheasants, and other domestic birds. There are fair and great rivers, many streams and springs of water limpid and most pure. There are also numberless lakes, or huge ponds, full of fish, such as eels, great pike, trout and other like fish. There is such an abundance of herrings and salmon in Ireland that every year many ships are laden with these fish for England, France and other countries. In the rivers of Ireland there are found yearly numberless and most beautiful and very precious pearls, for which there is a great demand.
“There are mines of silver, tin, lead and copper in that island, but the mines of iron are such as might suffice for other realms. There are so many rabbits, which they call ‘morters’ [martens?], that countless are their skins, which are very dear in England, Flanders, France and other countries. There are vast woods, yielding timber for making ships and building houses of such a sort that perchance there is not the like in all the world. What abundance there is in the realm of meat, wool and milk produce may well be gathered from this, that the merchants of the country import nothing from abroad but skins of cows and the like animals, cloth and sheeps' wool, butter, tallow and the like.
“No venomous creatures are found in that realm, and the climate is so mild that one never takes any harm by sleeping out at night. The cold is not so extreme as here in Spain, nor yet the heat, but the temperature is a mean between the one and the other.
“One thing alone is lacking in that realm, to wit, a Christian King, zealous of the honour of God, who should ever reside in the realm and constrain idle men to work, and chastise the wicked and base, and reward the good and virtuous.
“Here ends my description; and I pray God to give the country a King after His own heart, and not after our transgressions. Amen.”
Cap. xix.—“This chapter is here for brevity's sake omitted. The author therein set forth his reasons for not recording the names of the Catholics of that realm and the several proclivities and predilections of each lord, city and citizen; the reason being that the lords have exacted from him an oath of silence because of the hurt that might result to them, and of the many English spies that frequent the Catholic Court; but he offers to come in person and discover the matter to his Catholic Majesty alone, upon condition, however, that his Majesty give him succour and help, and undertake his project and protection.
Cap. xx. Touching the manner and method in which Ireland is to be conquered.—“Our Lord and Saviour has taught us in the Gospel how a kingdom is to be conquered, saying:—Omne regnum in se divisum desolabitur, et domus supra domum cadet; which rule is indeed infallible. The realm of Ireland is, as I have said, divided into five parts, and each part into several fractions, and also each fraction is divided in such wise that for so many parts as it contains there are as many men at variance with one another; for it is a general rule Par in pari non habet imperium.
“Giraldus Cambrensis says in his History of Ireland (fn. 4) that Ireland is by the ancients divided into 200 hundreds. A hundred is so much land as contains 100 vills. A vill is 160 acres of arable land with pasture for 100 animals per year. An acre of land is a measure of 40 perches in length and 10 perches in breadth. A perch is a measure of 18 cubits.
“In all the island of Ireland, Meath alone excepted, I am sure that no single hundred is to be found but there is war therein: it is vill against vill, hundred against hundred, brother against brother, kinsman against kinsman; ergo, all that realm, thus divided, is already at the mercy of whoso chooses to take it.
“Believing as I do, that his Majesty desires not so much to extend his temporal dominion as to exalt the glory of Christ, and to extirpate the Lutheran pest from His holy church, and plant there the true Catholic and Apostolic faith, I therefore deem it very expedient, nay, rather, necessary, that he should have the authority and commission (that which was originally granted to Henry, King of England being revoked) of the Apostolic See to enter with an armed force that realm of Ireland, it being, as I have already said, the patrimony of St. Peter. With this authority and commission from the Supreme Pontiff, it would be well that his Catholic Majesty should, as indeed all the lords and nobles of Ireland desire and are fain that he should, ordain and appoint his brother, Don John of Austria, king of that realm. This I am prompted to say for many reasons, the first and chief being the honour of God, since, his Highness being zealous for the Christian and Catholic religion, I doubt not that he would reform the Church of Ireland.
“I am also prompted by the advantage to the common weal of the realm, because, as under the eye of the master the horse waxes stout, so under the eye of the King the realm waxes stout and strong and peaceful, while on the other hand in his absence, dissensions, discords, rebellions, poverty and other innumerable evils are engendered, as is plainly visible in that same realm of Ireland, which has lacked the presence of a King for more than 400 years.
“Herein I am also prompted by this, that his Majesty, being standard-bearer and captain general of the Church of God, and having by God's grace gained several victories over the infidels that are chief among the enemies of God and His Holy Church, has well earned the right to have some guerdon of the Church, nor know I what guerdon she could more readily give him than that royal crown of Ireland, which is her own. All other provinces of the Church are already given to other Christian princes; that province of Ireland alone is left; and I doubt not that God has kept it for Don John, and that the Supreme Pontiff will grant him that realm, if his Catholic Majesty will crave and solicit it; for the son of so good a father as was Charles V, the brother and most loyal servant of so great a king as the Catholic King, and the standard-bearer and champion of so holy and pious a mother as the Roman Church, deserves no less a dignity than a royal crown, for thereby are enhanced at once the glory of the father, the honour of the brother, and the dignity and worshipfulness of the mother.
“I am furthermore prompted thus to utter my mind by the consideration that his Catholic Majesty's council would not suffer him to diminish his ancestral inheritance to aggrandize that noble knight, his brother Don John; and so Ireland would be to the purpose. Moreover, the lords of Ireland do not gladly welcome or obey Viceroys, because in truth hitherto the Viceroys of that realm, and indeed Viceroys everywhere else, as one sees in the Indies of Portugal and elsewhere, do nought else but pick and steal the wealth of the kingdom, and at the end of four or five years depart with their bags full; and fresh gifts and presents must be forthcoming for the new Viceroys and Presidents, so that they have despoiled the realm of its wealth. Wherefore the folk of Ireland yearn to have a king in the realm to defend them, and to whom they can yield obedience; and above all they desire for their King Don John, hearing tell of his good repute and fortune, and of his zeal for the honour of God.
“Furthermore, I say that in my opinion if Don John were created King of Ireland, he would be a great scourge and terror to the heretics of England, because they hold it to be predicted that the ruin of England is to begin in Ireland. The prophecy in the English tongue is as follows: He that will England win, let him in Ireland begin.
“Moreover, the creation and coronation of Don John as King of Ireland would be a great blow to the Flemish heretics, because the victuals and munitions which the Lady Elizabeth is wont daily to send to them in Flanders she would keep in her realm for fear of being attacked in some quarter or another by Don John and the Irish, who would be glad enough to ravage England.
“Should his Catholic Majesty deem this business inopportune by reason of the war against the Turk with which Don John is occupied at present, I say that by the authority of the Supreme Pontiff he might readily take possession of that realm with the forces of the Holy League, and having received the oath of fealty with hostages from the lords and nobles of the realm, and left there his Viceroy and munitions in the cities and fortresses, might turn his attention to the war against the Turk.
“The lords of Ireland, and also many Englishmen are firmly persuaded that Don John has already received the royal crown of the realm of Ireland from the Supreme Pontiff, and they anticipate with the utmost delight the time when they shall welcome and embrace him as their king.”
Cap. xxi. As to the necessary preparations for the conquest of Ireland, and the season and ports that will be convenient.—
“Now that I have expressed my mind and the desire of the lords of Ireland for the coronation of Don John of Austria, should this design of mine not meet with his Majesty's approval, and he be minded to take that realm for himself, or some other person, to that end it will be necessary to have the services of two knights, to wit, Don James FitzMaurice and Sir Thomas Stucley as the two leaders, both being valiant men of their hands, zealous for the honour of God, known to and in the good graces of the lords of the realm and very successful and expert in warfare.
“All the lords of the realm respect, love and regard with reverential dread Don James, as was manifest in his last war against the Lady Elizabeth and her President and captains, in which, though the lords stood by the President and Viceroy in proper person, they nevertheless sent their soldiers and servants to Don James's aid.
“It is necessary to have both these gentlemen in order to procure the consent of the rest of the country to terms of peace and concord and true obedience to his Catholic Majesty, and in case of need to make attacks upon the disobedient and rebellious, for they know well the roads, the lanes, and the fortified places throughout the realm, and likewise the bias and bent of every man, and his forces, capacities and potentialities.
“Given the Supreme Pontiff's commission and authority for the subjugation of that realm, I say that it might be accomplished with but little force. Howbeit his Catholic Majesty would be ill advised to send too small an army, lest the English should send a great army to oppose him. Don James [Fitz]Maurice told me that with his own men, and but two thousand Spanish auxiliaries, he would have cleared all the heretic English out of the realm of Ireland. Sir Thomas Stucley, as I understand, said that with 4,000 Spanish soldiers he would have subjugated all the realm. Ay, and I aver, that this is true alike of the one as of the other. But nevertheless I would not advise the despatch to that realm of fewer than 12,000 men that fear God and are of good character, for in truth the sins of the Spaniards and their insolence and pride do great mischief, making the submissive rebellious, the kindly cruel and the friendly hostile; and therefore, I say, good men should be sent, and such as fear God and are zealous for the Catholic faith. When I say 12,000 men, I mean 8,000 soldiers and 4,000 craftsmen, such as tillers of the soil, masons, smiths, carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, and other persons to make armour, and also citizens and merchants to settle in the cities and episcopal sees, which, indeed, are most beautiful places and lack only inhabitants. Without such people soldiers cannot keep going, nor live in the country, still less conquer the realm.
“The Captain General of that army ought to be either a duke or a great prince, for it is very important that he should be a man of great quality and generous, kind and affable, as a person of that sort is always much beloved, revered and feared by the Irish; and above all he ought to be zealous for the honour of God, a lover of justice, a corrector of the wicked, and especially vigilant to correct the insolence of the soldiers, robbers, desecrators of churches, and oppressors of the simple and poor folk of the realm.
“Above all he should have a care that women and girls be not dishonoured or corrupted by the soldiers, an offence most detestable in the sight of God and men, and also that which the people of the country most dread on the part of the Spaniards, as it is obtruded frequently on their view by the English when the talk turns on Spaniards or Italians.
“The ports nearest to Spain and most serviceable for ingress into the kingdom are the following: Waterford, Jochel [Youghal], Cork, Kinsale, and all the other ports of Munster (mentioned already in cap. xi.) because with a fair wind one can sail from Biscay to those ports in four days.
“The best season of the year for entering the realm is the end of June and all July and August, because then begins the time of harvest, and after the grain was got in and stored in the cities and castles, I should apprehend that it would be somewhat difficult for the army to find food, though I doubt not the cities would be liberal enough. In that season of July and August meat begins to be fat and good, and hay, oats and beans are to be had for the horses and other beasts of burden.
“As the arms of the soldiers must vary according to their several callings, so likewise must the implements of the craftsmen. There is no lack of spirited and very fine horses in the kingdom, and they are to be bought cheap; and so I should deem it needless to transport horses thither.
“In speaking of sending 12,000 men into that realm I do not think I have said amiss, for as many Irish might be sent out of the realm to serve his Catholic Majesty in Flanders or elsewhere; and they would gladly go, for they do but ask war and pay. Would to God that 12,000 of them might be taken out of the realm every year, that they with their barbarous habits might be totally eradicated and extirpated from the realm, for, indeed, it will be no easy matter to chasten them and keep them from their larcenies and other evil practices.
“As to the equipment and arms of the soldiers, the present generation in that realm is more afraid of crossbows than of arquebuses. I should think there would be no great need to transport much heavy artillery, such as cannon or double cannon, into that realm, since there are no strong cities or fortresses for them to fire upon, and also the transport would be a matter of excessive labour and pains; but to transport thither five or six pieces of cannon and many more of demi-cannon would seem very meet and proper, and also necessary to strike terror into those that have strong castles, and for other reasons.
“As all Munster is ruined by the operations of the English and Sir James [Fitz]Maurice during the last four or five years, and of the inhabitants some are dead and others have quitted the country, so that the land has not been tilled all that time; therefore, if it should be the will of God and his Majesty to send an army into that realm, it would be very necessary to send victuals for at least six months with the army, else they would die of hunger, though Meath always affords abundance of wheat and other things.
“If I knew for certain that his Majesty would undertake this responsibility, and when he would do so, I would write hereof at greater length, and to better purpose; and it would be necessary that I should be ever with his Majesty to advise him as to matters affecting the issue.
“Since writing the foregoing I have learned that Gerald FitzGerald, Earl of Desmond, has escaped from prison, and betaken him to his country, where he keeps many soldiers ever in the field to prevent the English from entering his country, and constrains all the English that have been in his castles and fortresses in the service of the Lady Elizabeth to depart, and that he has done them no harm whatever. Richard de Burgh, Earl of Connaught, has done the like, and has a great army in the field; and the two earls have joined their forces to make war upon the English. Princes Oneill and Odoneill have united in aid of the Earl of Desmond and the Earl of Connaught, so that now is the time to aid them, if his Majesty without prejudice to his honour in regard of the truce would ever do anything in that country.
“There should at least be sent to that country some person of authority in a well armed ship to cheer those lords, and encourage them in their purpose of war until his Majesty send them some great succour, and also to discover the bent of their lordships' minds, whether it accord with the report which I have to give his Catholic Majesty by word of mouth.
“I leave the rest of this my booklet blank for further writing when I shall know that tins Description is not displeasing to his Majesty, and in the meantime I pray God of His infinite goodness to give him victory over all his enemies, corporal and spiritual, and to us all His grace; and so I end, commending with all my heart myself and my son Maurice and all the affairs of Ireland to your Illustrious Lordship.”
24 March, 1574. Lisbon. Italian.