Part II Of Clan O' Moore's History image
Massacre at Mullaghmast

In 1577, Sir Francis Cosby, commanding the queen's troops in Leix and Offaly, formed a diabolical plot for the permanent conquest of that district. Peace at the moment prevailed between the government and the inhabitants; but Cosby seemed to think that in extirpation lay the only effectual security for the crown. Feigning, however, great friendship, albeit suspicious of some few "evil disposed" persons said not to be well affected, he invited to a grand feast all the chief families of the territory; attendance thereat being a sort of test of amity. To this summons responded the flower of the Irish nobility in Leix and Offaly, with their kinsmen and friends—the O'Mores, O'Kellys, Lalors, O'Nolans, etc. The "banquet"—alas!—was prepared by Cosby in the great Rath or Fort of MullachMaisten, or Mullaghmast, in Kildare county. Into the great rath rode many a pleasant cavalcade that day; but none ever came forth that entered in.

A gentleman named Lalor who had halted a little way off, had his suspicions in some way aroused. He noticed, it is said, that while many went into the rath, none were seen to reappear outside. Accordingly he desired his friends to remain behind while he advanced and reconnoitered. He entered cautiously. Inside, what a horrid spectacle met his sight! At the very entrance the dead bodies of some of his slaughtered kinsmen! In an instant he himself was set upon; but drawing his sword, he hewed his way out of the fort and back to his friends, and they barely escaped with their lives to Dysart!

He was the only Irishman out of more than four hundred who entered the fort that day that escaped with life! The invited guests were butchered to a man; one hundred and eighty of the O'Mores alone having thus perished. The peasantry long earnestly believed and asserted that on the encircled rath of slaughter rain nor dew never fell, and that the ghosts of the slain might be seen, and their groans distinctly heard "on the solemn midnight blast!

O'er the Rath of Mullaghmast, On the solemn midnight blast,
What bleeding specters pass'd With their gashed breasts bare!
"Hast thou heard the fitful wail
That overloads the sullen gale
When the waning moon shines pale O'er the cursed ground there?
"Hark! hollow moans arise
Through the black tempestuous skies,
And curses, strife, and cries,
From the lone rath swell;
"For bloody Sydney there
Nightly fills the lurid air
With the unholy pompous glare
Of the foul, deep hell.
"False Sydney! knighthood's stain!
The trusting brave—in vain
Thy guests—ride o'er the plain
To thy dark coward snare;
"Flow'r of Offaly and Leix,
They have come thy board to grace Fools!
to meet a faithless race, Save with true swords bare.
"While cup and song abound, The triple lines surround
The closed and guarded mound, In the night's dark noon.
"Alas! too brave O'Moore, Ere the revelry was o'er,
They have spill'd thy young heart's gore, Snatch'd from love too soon!
"At the feast, unarmèd all, Priest, bard, and chieftain fall
In the treacherous Saxon's hall, O'er the bright wine bowl;
"And now nightly round the board, With unsheath'd and reeking sword,
Strides the cruel felon lord Of the blood-stain'd soul.
"Since that hour the clouds that pass'd
O'er the Rath of Mullaghmast, One tear have never cast
On the gore-dyed sod;
"For the shower of crimson rain
That o'erflowed that fatal plain, Cries aloud, and not in vain,
To the most high God!"

Battle of Glenmalure

A sword of vengeance tracked Cosby from that day. In Leix or Offaly after this terrible blow there was no raising a regular force; yet of the family thus murderously cut down, there remained one man who thenceforth lived but to avenge his slaughtered kindred. This was Ruari Oge O'More, the guerrilla chief of Leix and Offaly, long the terror and the scourge of the Pale. While he lived none of Cosby's "undertakers" slept securely in the homes of the plundered race. Swooping down upon their castles and mansions, towns and settlements, Ruari became to them an angel of destruction. When they deemed him farthest away his sword of vengeance was at hand.

In the lurid glare of burning roof and blazing granary, they saw like a specter from the rath, the face of an O'More; and, above the roar of the flames, the shrieks of victims, or the crash of falling battlements, they heard in the hoarse voice of an implacable avenger—"Remember Mullaghmast!"And the sword of Ireland still was swift and strong to pursue the author of that bloody deed, and to strike him and his race through two generations. One by one they met their doom: "In the lost battle Borne down by the flying; Where mingles war's rattle With the groans of the dying."

On the bloody day of Glenmalure, when the red flag of England went down in the battle's hurricane, and Elizabeth's proud viceroy, Lord Grey de Wilton, and all the chivalry of the Pale were scattered and strewn like autumn leaves in the gale, Cosby of Mullaghmast fell in the rout, sent swiftly to eternal judgment with the brand of Cain upon his brow. A like doom, a fatality, tracked his children from generation to generation! They too perished by the sword or the battle-ax—the last of them, son and grandson, on one day, by the stroke of an avenging O'More —until it may be questioned if there now exists a human being in whose veins runs the blood of the greatly infamous knight commander, Sir Francis Cosby.

The battle of Glenmalure was fought August 25, 1580. That magnificent defile, as I have already remarked, in the words of one of our historians, had long been for the patriots of Leinster "a fortress dedicated by nature to the defense of freedom;" and never had fortress of freedom a nobler soul to command its defense than he who now held Glenmalure for God and Ireland—Feach M'Hugh O'Byrne, of Ballinacor, called by the English "The Firebrand of the Mountains." In his time no sword was drawn for liberty in any corner of the island, near or far, that his own good blade did not leap responsively from its scabbard to aid "the good old cause." Whether the tocsin was sounded in the north or in the south, it ever woke pealing echoes amid the hills of Glenmalure.

As in later years, Feach of Ballinacor was the most trusted and faithful of Hugh O'Neill's friends and allies, so was he now in arms stoutly battling for the Geraldine league. His son-in-law, Sir Francis Fitzgerald, and James Eustace, Viscount Baltinglass, had rallied what survived of the clansmen of Idrone, Offaly, and Leix, and had effected a junction with him, taking up strong positions in the passes of Slieveroe and Glenmalure.
Lord Grey of Wilton arrived as lord lieutenant from England on August 12th. Eager to signalize his advent to office by some brilliant achievement, he rejoiced greatly that so near at hand— within a day's march of Dublin Castle—an opportunity presented itself. Yes! He would measure swords with this wild chief of Glenmalure who had so often defied the power of England.

He would extinguish the "Firebrand of the Mountain," and plant the cross of St. George on the ruins of Ballinacor! So, assembling a right royal host, the haughty viceroy marched upon Glenmalure. The only accounts which we possess of the battle are those contained in letters written to England by Sir William Stanley and others of the lord lieutenant's officials and subordinates; so that we may be sure the truth is very scantily revealed.

Lord Grey having arrived at the entrance to the glen, seems to have had no greater anxiety than to "hem in" the Irish. So he constructed a strong earthwork or entrenched camp at the mouth of the valley the more effectually to stop "escape." It never once occurred to the vainglorious English viceroy that it was he himself and his royal army that were to play the part of fugitives in the approaching scene! All being in readiness, Lord Grey gave the order of the advance; he and a group of courtier friends taking their places on a high ground commanding a full view up the valley, so that they might lose nothing of the gratifying spectacle anticipated. An ominous silence prevailed as the English regiments pushed their way into the glen.

The courtiers waxed witty; they wondered whether the game had not "stolen away;" they sadly thought there would be "no sport;" or they hallowed right merrily to the troops to follow on and "unearth" the "old fox."
After a while the way became more and more tedious. "We were," says Sir William Stanley, "forced to slide sometimes three or four fathoms ere we could stay our feet;" the way being "full of stones, rocks, logs, and wood; in the bottom thereof a river full of loose stones which we were driven to cross divers times." At length it seemed good to Feach M'Hugh O'Byrne to declare that the time had come for action. Then, from the forest-clad mountain sides there burst forth a wild shout, whereat many of the jesting courtiers turned pale; and a storm of bullets assailed the entangled English legions.

As yet the foe was unseen, but his execution was disastrous. The English troops broke into disorder. Lord Grey, furious and distracted, ordered up the reserves; but now Feach passed the word along the Irish lines to charge the foe. Like the torrents of winter pouring down those hills, down swept the Irish force from every side upon the struggling mass below. Vain was all effort to wrestle against such a furious charge. From the very first it became a pursuit. How to escape was now each castle courtier's wild endeavor. Discipline was utterly cast aside in the panic rout! Lord Grey and a few attendants fled early, and by fleet horses saved themselves; but of all the brilliant host the viceroy had led out of Dublin a few days before, there returned but a few shattered companies to tell the tale of disaster, and to surround with new terrors the name of Feach M'Hugh, the "Firebrand of the Mountains."

Battle of Stradbally Bridge

On May 17-18, 1596, a battle took place in Stradbally. Owney MacRory O'More, chieftain of Leix, was proceeding thru the Stradbally area with his troops (which usually included men of the O'Duinn and O'Dempsey Clans) and demanded passage for his men over the Stradbally Bridge, which crosses over the river of the same name, in the middle of the village. His request, which was considered as a formal challenge to fight, was refused.

The infamous Alexander Cosby, who had been granted by Queen Elizabeth an extremely large area -over 1300 acres plus several town lands and the Monastery of Stradbally - - of the former O'Moores territories, and at the time, was the appointed Chief of the Kerne, proceeded to defend the bridge (and his own lands), taking with him his eldest son Francis, who was married to Helena Harpoole of Shrule, by whom he had a son, William, born but nine months before. Dorchas Sydney , Alexander's wife, who would never allow herself to be called a Cosby, and her daughter-in-law, placed themselves at a window in the abbey, overlooking the bridge - where they could observe the action. For some time they beheld their husbands bravely maintaining their ground.

At length, after some furious engagements, Alexander Cosby, as he was pressing forward was shot, and dropped down dead. Upon this his kern with melancholy outcries, began to give way. Francis Cosby, the son, apprehensive of being abandoned, endeavored to save his own life by leaping over the bridge, but at the very moment he cleared the battlements on the bridge, he was also shot, and fell dead into the river. An interesting anecdote to this story has to do with the two Cosby wives while observing the battle. As their two husbands were killed, one of them called out of the window to the other witnesses "Remember my husband (i.e. Francis) did not fall first, consequently, the estate descended to him and is now the property of my eldest son". Thus, young William of nine months became owner of all the Cosby properties.

This battle occurred after the infamous Massacre at Mullaghmast in 1577, and the later death of Rory Oge in 1578, after numerous successful battles against the British. In 1598, the Irish again broke out in rebellion, under the leadership of Hugh O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone - and other chiefs. The battle at Stradbally bridge was a continuance of the revenge against the perpetrators of Mullaghmast and the dishonest treatments of the Crown's government; and was followed - under Owney MacRory along with many of the O'Duinns, O'Dempseys, and the brilliant Captain Tyrrel and Captain Nugent - with numerous victories over the forces of St Leger and the Lord Deputy, including that of the battle at the "Pass of the Plumes" in 1599 with the devastating victory over the English army under the Earl of Essex.

Battle of the Pass of the Plumes

On June, 1598 The Annals state that the Earl of Ormond with a great host of twenty-four companies of foot and two hundred horse set out for Laois and encamped in the evening on a high hill on the border. Next morning he sent out his nephew, James Butler, (from whom great hopes in war and in peace had been expected), with a troop to reconnoiter the passes. On the very first pass Butler was met by Brian Roe O 'Mordha, "that most • mischievous and malicious traitor", with 150 men who gave the Ormond troop a fierce and terrific salute and hemmed it in on- all sides. Butler was killed and his force utterly routed— a big blow to the Ormondians. Lord Ormond stated that the scene of this fight was in the great woods of Comagh—a name now obsolete.

On the OML, 1563, a place called "the Comac" is marked not far from Ballyfin, and it is thought that the high hill on which the Ormond camp was pitched may have been Conlawn or Conlon Hill in the ancient Fearann, O Dunlaing (or, corruptly, O Doolan) territory—in the Slieve Blooms adjoining Ui Failghe. On the very day after the battle, Owney and Captain Tyrrell arrived and pitched their camp on hill right opposite that occupied by Ormond. Before noon next day instead of continuing his projected march through Laois, Ormond and his force returned to Kilkenny.(Discretion perhaps was the better part of valor).

August, 1598 Noting the success of the northern chiefs at Clontibret (Monaghan) and at Beal an Atha Bui (Yellow Ford), the southern chiefs, whose lands had been distributed among a gang of undertakers, applied to O Neill for help. The latter complied by sending Owny O Mordha and Captain Richard Tyrrell as his delegates to organize the south, which they did. successfully from Slieve Bloom to Kerry (except in Upper Ossory as will be related later).

One of the ablest of the southern "rebels" Pierce de Lacy of Brugh na Deise (East Limerick) whose lands had been "granted" to one Thornton, scornfully flung back a "pardon" granted to himself and set out to meet "O Mordha Laoise", one of the delegates of whose fighting fame he had heard. Among many wise suggestions made by de Lacy, was one to nominate James Mac Thomas (Fitzgerald) as chief, under the old and respected Geraldine title, "Earl of Desmond". The suggestions were submitted to O Neill who, by this time exercising the prerogatives of an Irish King, sanctioned them— the English contemptuously nick-naming Mac Thomas "The Sugan Earl" (Note the Irish qualifying word they used for the title).

Tyrrell remained for a time in personal attendance on the new Earl, and Owny returned to Laois, as the rumors had already reached Ireland of the preparations in England for the largest and best equipped army, under Essex, that ever took the field in Ireland. O Neill made no mistake in his choice of organizers. The campaign that followed was so successful that only in four places in all Desmond was an undertaker or planter left by the end of October. In the course of events it fell to Owny's lot to be the first Irish chieftain to man the Beama Baoil in Essex's campaign.

September, 1598 The garrison in Maryborough seems to have been, as usual, in trouble all this time and was continually crying out for relief. About September 1598, the Earl of Ormond with a large force of 4,000 foot and horse, set out from Dublin to relieve the Fort. But at Blackford (Ath Dubh) at a little stream (formerly the boundary between Laois and The Pale) very near, and on the Stradbally side of, "The Bleeding Horse", he suffered a heavy defeat by Owny's relatively small force of 1,400. The "dangerous traitor" Tyrrell cannot have remained long with Fitzgerald of Desmond for he fought in this encounter too. The Earl lost 600 men and a great quantity of war material and provisions. He himself was wounded and barely escaped. Of Owny's force there were 60 killed and 80 wounded.

Yet it is said that Ormond ultimately reached the Fort of Maryborough and relieved it, but the state papers do not say when or where or how soon he procured arms money and provisions for that relief—considering that he, in no great fettle himself, had 3,400 worn and wounded men to look after who themselves required relief. With several other skirmishes the year 1598 was brought to a successful conclusion for the old territory.
January, 1599 Ormond had again to relieve the Fort of Maryborough; on this occasion Laoiseach Og O Mordha, one of Owny's chief leaders, was killed. January, 1599 The rebels planned to assemble at Knocke Arde O Gurry with a view to attack Kilkenny city. January, 1600Some thirty O' Mordha were somehow inveigled into the Fort of Maryborough and treacherously killed. The wily Owny avoided the trap, and in a short time after replied satisfactorily.

Essex's Journey from Dublin to Stradbally and Croshyduff

The years 1597 and 1598 were disastrous for the English in Ulster where Hugh O'Neill, Hugh O'Donnell and Hugh Maguire (warrior Chief of Fermanagh and son-in-law of O'Neill) were having things their own way, culminating on 14th August, 1598, in the great victory of Beal an Atha Bui, the echo of which resounded throughout the courts of Europe. Elizabeth, exasperated, censured all around, and appointed Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, an experienced and (so far) successful soldier, as Lord Lieutenant and Governor of Ireland.

On 13th April, 1599, he arrived in Dublin having with him a force of 16,000 foot and 1,300 horse, but "instead of carrying out his instructions and attacking O'Neill in force he accepted the advice of some members of the Council at Dublin who were personally interested in the undertakers' lands, and were concerned most. of all in recovering their own property or the property of their friends", (History of Ireland, Rev. E. A. Dalton, Vol. 3, page 150) and consequently he decided to travel southwards to subdue the Desmond Geraldines under their "contemptible Sugan Earl".

Having dispatched garrisons to towns north and south of Dublin he left that city on 9th May with a force of 3000 foot and 260 horse. His route lay through Naas, Kilcullen and Kilrush; he encamped on the 12th Tiillaghgory (Geraldine) near Athy where he was joined by Ormond from Carlow with a force of 700 foot and 200 horse. In Athy, after an assault on the castle which guarded the bridge, he remained two days (13th and 14th) to receive provisions from Naas and to repair the bridge. Leaving 100 men in Athy he dispatched 350 men to garrison Carlow and ordered 750 men to Offaly. (The Pass, of the Plumes has sometimes been wrongly ascribed to this Offaly route as near Monasterevan).

He would then have about 2,500 foot and 260 horse, (according to Bourchier's "Devereux" he had 3,000 foot and 300 horse) while most accounts agree that Owny O Mordha had only about 500 foot and 40 to 50 horse, roughly six to one. On his road to Stradbally on the 15th he reached the passage of Ath Dubh (Black Ford) a strategic point where many a fierce attack had taken place. This had been hurriedly entrenched by Owny with the mention of engaging the English there, but he wisely withdrew his comparatively small force while closely observing every movement of the invading army, which arrived that evening at Stradbally.

On the 16th Essex resumed his journey but must have left the main part of his army about the western slope of Croshy Duff, as he himself set out (probably along an old road that branches via Kyle, Cappoley, the Ridge and the Downes), with 200 horse and 500 foot to relieve the fort of Maryborough which had been closely invested by the O Moores, and in which Francis Rush, the governor, and his men had been living on horseflesh for twenty days. (Earlier in the day he must have passed quite near Dunamase without any attempt at attack probably because of its strength and of the urgency of his mission).

Having supplied the garrison in Maryborough with provisions and ammunition, he returned to the main body without delay and all encamped that evening at the foot of Crosby Duff Hill. Owny and his men, securely posted on the hills around, observed every movement, and from their thorough knowledge of the district could well foresee the enemy's plans and surmise his intended route to Kilkenny.

Owny placed his small force in secure positions where he had the choice of attack (or retreat for a considerable distance along a road sloping and winding through natural declivities which were studded with woods and thickets, a road boggy for some distance around one vital point and ill-suited for Essex's large and heavily equipped army, but highly favorable for a resolute and daring leader,with a small body of courageous and devoted clansmen, in the dangerous defiles that lay ahead. Next morning, 17th, having viewed the country from the top of Crosby Duff Hill, 600 feet, from where Owny's men, or at least some of them. could be observed a couple of miles away, Essex decided to move on.

The question then arose as to whether his army should proceed southwards by the nearest way to Rosconnel on the Kilkenny border, that is by the near-by Pass of Cashel, or march by the mountain of .Sleen agree to avoid the disadvantage of the Pass. The decision arrived at was that the rebels should be sought rather than shunned because it was necessary to teach the Irish and the world at large that Her Majesty's army could and would in all places make way for itself. This last paragraph is condensed from "Barnaglitty", Proceedings R S A., p. 21J5, Part III, Vol. XXXIV, 1904).

The name Sleen agree (Sliabh na nGroigh, the mountain of the horses) is now obsolete. The OML 1563, shows -a-mountain or a mountain pass, Sleen agree, and a river alongside flowing southeasterly. On the modern map the river would appear to be about the western part of Upper Slatt and Doonane townlands. Two little tributaries are shown one of which (? Red River) flows near Kilgorey old church which appears fairly near the left bank. Distances or relative positions of places cannot be accurately gauged on the old map. On the modern map the road from Timahoe runs in the same general direction (S.E.) through Upper Slatt and Doonane, probably following along or near the old pass. This would appear to be a rather indirect and hilly route for Essex's army moving towards the Pass of Bellyragget.

The English in their accounts of the attack make very little comment. According to the diary of Sir John Harrington who accompanied Essex, three or four of the English were hurt. Sir James Ware just brushes the rebels aside to let Essex pass through, but in his very next paragraph he has Essex applying to England for more troops. Other English historians do not mention the affair at all. Sullivan Beware and the Four Masters give a very different account, although meagre as to detail. For two hours, according to Essex’s own diary (quoted by Lord N. Fitzgerald in his paper on “Barnaglitty), the transport was crawling through the Pass (which was only a short portion of the whole route from Bothar na Muc to Moinin-na-Fola) and during the whole course the attack seems to have been kept up at close quarters along the line interlaced with almost impenetrable thickets.

The remains of an old dwelling house known as Ned Duff’s stood on the northern verge of the old road very near the crossroads at the road marked. In the digging of the foundations for Ned Duff’s house and out offices, about 1834, cartloads of human remains were exhumed. About forty years ago a similar case occurred in the immediate neighborhood. As a tree that fell a few years ago a skull was found in the roots. This area is very gravelly and seems to have been used for interring those who fell in the battle, a dry sand pit. Mr. Daniel O'Byrne in his History of Queen's County, Chapter XXIV, p. 111, states that the remains of the slain have been found in a high gravelly part between Ballykilocken Cross and Callyknocken castle. Local tradition supports Mr. O'Byrne on this point.

O Sullivan (who according to a note of O D estimated the English casualties at 500) states that the well-contested road, by reason of the helmet feathers taken from the English cavalry, was afterwards called Bearna na gCleiti—the Gap of the Feathers—which previously had been known as the Pass of Cashel. Some years ago I was informed by the late Patrick Burke of Ballyknocken, that during the first world war, a field of his which had not been broker for "ages" was tilled, and numbers of horse-shoes found which were iron-plated or soled all across to cover the frog.

A few of the shoes were sent to the RSAI who explained that in Essex's journey southward the fields and passes were spiked by the local people with caltrops or iron spikes made by the smiths. (Some specimens of caltrops are to be seen in the National Museum). This field, near point 6 on sketch, is about two-thirds of a mile in a north westerly direction from Moinin na Fola and not less than one third of a mile from the nearest point of the line of march (17). This would seem to indicate a wide divergence towards Maryborough Fort (relieved the day previous) and that some of Owny's men wen; prepared for this divergence by having arranged an ambush.

OH in HQC, p. 482, intimates that after the battle the English troops travelled southwards by Ballyroan, Rosconnell and the Pass of Ballyragget to Killkenny.Some very intelligent traditionists, however, maintain that they took an old road, the continuation of Garret’s Lane by Kilvahan graveyard anmd proceeded southwards by Bothar-a-'clay through a Cullenagh mountain-pass. Others think they followed Kyle Lane and a very old road SW. through Cappoley towards Lalor’s Mill, Colt Wood, and on southwards by BallinaKill.
Probably tile main army having got through the Pass at heavy cost, continued along the route (thereafter clear and unobstructed) as given by OH to Ballyroan, where they would be succoured by the Hetheringtons, and that scattered parties fled helter-skelter through the nearest pass or gap they met— one of which where the caltrops where found led widely away from any southern route.

Harrington mentions that after the battle “troops came together on a great playne". The great plain, I think must have been in the Pass House— Ballyroan direction, as both the Kyle and Bothar-a'-clay routes are hilly. There is nothing resembling a great plain in the vicinity except the-large field in which Kilvahan graveyard is situated but this would be off the main route which (most accounts agree) the troops had gained after the battle.

On the main point anyway the site of the battle, there is now, I think, no doubt. Now a good word for Essex. It is only fair to say of him (what cannot be said of his treacherous successors, Charles Blount, otherwise Lord Mount joy, and Blount's wily partner George Carey, otherwise Sir George Carew) that he was a courageous man who knew well what he had to face at the Pass and resolutely faced it; that he made a fair open fight and that although before the battle he despised the Irish bands as "rogues and naked beggars" (they used often fight in strong leathern coats and bare legs) he was straight and manly enough to admit candidly when writing to the English Council on the third day after the battle, that the "people against whom we fight hath able bodies, good use of the arms they carry, boldness enough to attempt, and quickness in apprehending any advantage they see offered to them." These words of this hitherto successful soldier may be regarded as an honest admission that instead of teaching the world an exemplary lesson in warfare at the Pass of Cashel Her Majesty's army learned a very salutary one.

Nine Year War

The nine years war also known as the Tyrone's Rebellion is fought between the Kingdom of England, Ireland against Spain, Scottish Gaelic mercenaries and the alliance of the Irish Clans. I believe that the Moores fought on both sides of this war. You have the English Moores and on the other side you have the Irish O'Moore clan. The O'Moores of Laois served under the command of Hugh O'Neill.

Battle of Clontibret

Battle of Clontibret was essentially a two-day running fight, as Bagenal's column was ambushed on its way to and from the castle at Monaghan town. The Irish fought sharply along the roads about Crossdall, around 4 miles (6.5 km) from Monaghan, firing on the English column with cavilers (light muskets) from the surrounding woodland. With the loss of 12 dead and 30 wounded the English reached the castle, which was re-supplied and reinforced with one company.

Bagenal had misgivings about his supply of powder and lead, much of which had been used on the way, and could afford little for the garrison before he started back. Two days later, on 27 May, Bagenal set out for Newry in a column, but by another route, past the townland of Clontibret. The route lay through Drumlin country, which abounded with hills, bogs and woods, making it ideal for an ambush. The column came under fire from the outset, and then fell into a major ambush at a pass near Clontibret.

Tyrone's army - about 4000 strong - consisted of contingents from the O'Neill, MacMahon and Maguire clans, as well as Scottish mercenaries. The Irish also deployed a greatly enlarged force of cavalry and clavier-men (musketeers). To Bagenal's puzzlement, the clavier-men were turned out in red coats and acquitted themselves with expertise. Fire from the flanks was heavy, and many English troops were killed or fell wounded while the Irish cavalry played around the fringes. Tyrone himself was almost killed in hand-to-hand combat with a Pales man named Seagrave, who led a cavalry charge on the Irish position.

Seagrave had his arm chopped off by Tyrone's standard bearer O'Cahan, and was killed by Tyrone with a dagger thrust to the groin. Bagenal's column was slowed to a crawl and, as night fell in the wilderness, the commander called his men to a halt and camped at the hilltop of Ballymacowen. It seemed that hundreds were missing, and there was fear that the Irish would renew the attack under cover of darkness. There was no further attack and, a little after first light, reinforcements from Newry arrived to relieve the column.
According to intelligence received in the days following, Tyrone's failure to follow up had been caused by a lack of powder - ironic, given the state of Bagenal's own supplies - but the overall sense in government was of disquiet, and a bad job was made of hushing up the casualty figures.

This gave fuel to the rumors of a severe defeat, and many people set greater store on the numbers put about by confederate supporters. Sir Ralph Lane, the muster-master-general, informed the queen's principal secretary, Lord Burghley, that "more men were hurt and killed in that late service than was convenient to declare". The casualty figures for both sides vary depending on sources. Bagenal admitted only 31 killed and 109 wounded on the second day of fighting, but his losses were almost certainly higher. The Irish annals claimed up to 700 English killed. Estimates of the confederate losses vary between 100 to 400 killed. Three years later, Bagenal led an army into another ambush by Tyrone, at the battle of the Yellow Ford. The English general was killed and his troops were routed with heavy losses.

The Battle of the Yellow Ford

Further afield, Owen MacRory O'Moore and Richard Tyrrell, O'Neill's best field commander, led 2,000 men into battle. The crown forces were organized in six regiments—two forward, two center, and two rear, and with cavalry at center. As soon as they left Armagh garrison, they were all harassed with musket fire and thrown spears from rebel forces concealed in the woods. As a result the different regiments became separated from one another as they paused to deal with the hit and run attacks.

This problem was accentuated when one of their ox-drawn artillery pieces became stuck in the bog with a damaged wheel and a rear regiment got left behind guarding it as it was slowly coaxed through the bog. The regiment at the front of the march encountered a mile-long trench, 4 feet wide and 5 feet deep. The regiment succeeded in crossing this trench but then came under heavy attack from large forces and decided to retreat back behind the trench again, and it suffered significant losses during that retreat. This regiment in disarray then merged into the ranks of the other forward regiment. Standardly at the time, it was desirable for a marching army to take on a more compact, less elongated form when large enemy forces were present.

At this point, Henry Bagenal was killed by a shot through the head. In post-mortems in Dublin, Bagenal was criticized for being near the vanguard of the march, instead of keeping himself in a more protected position near the center. Command of the army was taken over by Thomas Maria Wingfield. Further demoralizing the crown troops and causing chaos, their gunpowder store exploded, apparently ignited accidentally by the fuse of a matchlock musket. Daunted, Wingfield decided to retreat to Armagh. But the commander of the forward part (Evans) either didn't get the command or refused to obey it, or was unable to execute an orderly retreat and judged it necessary to maintain his forward position.

Anyway, seeing their enemy in confusion, the O'Neill cavalry rushed at the head of the forward part, followed by swordsmen on foot. Crown troops in this part of the field (at the "yellow ford" from which the battle gets its name) were cut to pieces, and any wounded survivors left on the field after the battle were slain as well. The rest of the crown forces had to struggle their way back to the Armagh garrison. They reached it largely intact, but were harried all the way by the Irish. Crown forces lost about 900 killed at the battle.

This included 18 "captains" or officers dead. Several hundred soldiers deserted to the rebels, and many hundreds more deserted back to their families, or went astray in the Armagh drumlins. Out of 4,000 soldiers who had set out from Armagh, just over 2,000 reached the town after the battle. Those who did reach Armagh were virtual prisoners inside. The cavalry broke out and dashed south escaping the Irish. After three days negotiations, it was agreed that the crown troops could leave Armagh as long as they left their arms and ammunition behind them. They were evacuated from Newry to via a sea route.

O'Neill's forces lost perhaps 200 to 300 killed in the battle, though sources for the number lost on O'Neill's side are very scanty. In light of the battle's result, the court at London undertook to greatly and rapidly increase its military forces in Ireland; and simultaneously many in Ireland who had been neutral on the sidelines undertook to support the rebellion. Thus the ultimate outcome of the battle was an escalation of the war. The victory was the Alliance of the Irish Clans against the English forces.

Battle of Moyry Pass

The English reached the pass on 20 September and set up camp just outside, to the south on Faughart Hill. Taking advantage of a misty day on the 25th, an officer named Thomas Williams (who had commanded the Blackwater Fort during the Battle of the Yellow ford made a sortie into the pass. After heavy fighting he identified the Irish defense works and returned to the English camp with 12 dead and 30 wounded. For six days heavy rain held up the fighting, until the weather cleared on 2 October. The weather was important because the matchlock muskets of the day would not work in wet conditions.

On 2 October, Sir Samuel Bagnall led his regiment of infantry into the Pass at the head of four other regiments. The English breached the first barricade, and Thomas Bourke's regiment led the way to the second and third lines of defense. The English took the second line only to find themselves in a trap, with gunfire concentrated from three sides. They tried to dislodge the Irish from their remaining positions for three more hours before retreating, with the Irish in close pursuit.

The English admitted 46 killed and 120 wounded, but it is thought that they understated their losses throughout the campaign. On 5 October, Mountjoy sent two regiments on a flanking march over the hill to the west, with one further regiment supported by horsemen advancing up the center of the Pass. No significant gains were made and the regiments turned back, reporting casualties of 50 dead and 200 wounded. By 9 October the privy councilor Geoffrey Fenton complained, "we are now but where we were in the beginning". Mountjoy retired to Dundalk - on either the 8th or 9th of October - but on the 14th word reached the English camp that O'Neill had abandoned the Pass and retreated to a crannog stronghold at Lough Lurcan. The most likely explanation for O'Neill's withdrawal from his position of strength is that he was short of ammunition and food and feared a flanking attack on his rear from Newry.

Moreover, most of his forces were composed of temporary, clan-based levies, who could not be kept together for long. Mountjoy occupied the Moyry Pass on the 17th of October and dismantled O'Neill's earthworks. He marched on to Carrickban, just outside Newry, and by Sunday the 2nd of November set up camp at Mountnorris (halfway between Newry and Armagh). There he built an earthwork fort and left a garrison of 400 men under the command of Captain Edward Blaney. He then marched back to Dundalk via Carlingford, but was attacked on 13 November by O'Neill, close to the Fathom Pass, and suffered 15–20 killed and 60–80 wounded.

The battle of Moyry Pass was a stalemate: Mountjoy could not take the Pass, O'Neill could not keep it. Mountjoy did establish a garrison at Mountnorris, but had to retire to Dundalk after taking substantial casualties. Mountjoy claimed his force lost only 200 men killed and 400 wounded in the fighting from 20 September to 13 November, though this may be a considerable underestimate. More, he said, died of disease. The Irish casualties were given by the English as an incredible 900–1200 killed and wounded, but this is questionable given that the Irish were in a strong defensive position of their own choosing, behind the protection of fieldworks and had lured the English into an ambush. These figures probably say more about what Mountjoy wanted the Queen to hear than about the actual casualty figures.

Rebellion of 1641 & The Irish Confederate War

The Rebellion of 1641 is the beginning of the Irish confederate war. In this war, a hero and a famous warrior of clan O'Moore appears. His name is Rory O'Moore. This war is also known as the Eleven Year war. Rory O' Moore and his clan fought for the Catholic Irish against the English and Scottish Royalists, and the Parliamentarians. Rory O'Moore is supposedly the founder of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians.

Battle of Julianstown ( November 29 1641)

Either by chance or otherwise the insurgents came upon an untrained and hastily raised force of Government soldiers, largely composed of planter refugees from the northern counties sent against them. The two sides met at the bridge at Julianstown. The British commander gave the order to counter march, which the half trained recruits misinterpreted as a march to the rear. The British army began slowly edging backwards.

However, the rebel force believed that the British had shouted contúirt bháis! (danger of death). The Irish, upon hearing this and seeing the panic and confusion amongst the British force let loose with a war cry and charged with unyielding ferocity. What followed was a simple rout. The soldiers attempted to hold them off by firing in volleys, but were unable to co-ordinate their actions and panicked when they saw the rebels bearing down on them. Many threw down their muskets and ran away, the remainder being either killed or captured.

One disputed source tells that the rebels spared the Irish in the soldier’s ranks, but killed the English and Scots. It is noted from the Cavan depositions that several of those men killed at Julianstown were in fact refugees who had joined the ranks of the army, having previously been robbed and turfed out of their homes by the insurgents. The Officer in charge of the Crown's forces at Julianstown was Sir Patrick Wemyss. His account of the battle can be read in his letter to the Earl Ormonde, recorded in the Calendar of State Papers relating to Ireland, 1641.

The consequences of the Julianstown skirmish were out of proportion to its military significance. The victory by the insurgents made them seem much more formidable than they actually were, and helped to spread the rebellion to the rest of Ireland. In the event they failed in the ensuing siege, and withdrew. It was also was a rude wake up call for Ormonde and his fellow commanders in Ireland, and showed the determination and support in Ireland for the insurgents led by most of the landed gentry.

Ormonde called for reinforcements from England and was to mount a considerable counter-offensive in parts of Leinster in the spring of 1642. This indirectly helped to prolong the English Civil War, as the English royalist forces absent in Ireland would have greatly improved the King's chances at the Battle of Edgehill later in 1642. At the end of this battle Rory O' Moore came out victorious. He came into battle with five thousand men and his causalities were low, but unfortunately the English came into battle with 3,500 and loss a total of 600.

Siege of Drogheda

The commanders of Drogheda was Colonel Tichborne and Moore of the English Force against Féilim Ó Néill of the Irish rebel. The siege lasted from December 1641- March 1642. The English force is comprise of about two thousand men while the rebels have about six thousand. The men of Drogheda and their leaders were outnumbered. The rebels tried three assaults on the town. On the first occasion they simply tried to rush the walls. In their second attempt, a small party of 500 men broke into the town at night through dilapidated sections of the walls, with the aim of opening the gates for a storming party of 700 men outside.

However, the initial incursion was repulsed in confused fighting and in the morning, the garrison opened the gates to rebels outside, only to take them prisoner once they entered the town. The rebels tried for a final time in March 1642, when a relief of the town was imminent, attacking the walls with scaling ladders, but were again repulsed. Shortly afterwards, English reinforcements arrived from Dublin, under Colonel Moore, who was later created the Earl of Drogheda. They broke the rebel siege and also drove them out of Dundalk and back into Ulster.

The Battle of Kilrush

This battle was fought in April 15 1642. The Irish Catholics were led by Richard Butler against James Butler, Earl of Ormonde. The Royalist were the victors. The Dublin Penny Journal of the 1800s said that: “The land in the neighborhood of Inch Castle lies remarkably flat, with the exception of two ridges that run nearly parallel northward from the castle, with a marsh lying between.

It was in these heights the armies of Ormond and Mountgarrett, in 1642, marched in sight of each other, the evening previous to the battle of Kilrush; that of Ormond on the high grounds of Ardscull, Fontstown, and Kilrush, whilst the rebel army under Mountgarrett, and attended by the Lords Dunboyne and Ikerrin, Roger O’More, Hugh O’Byrne, and other leaders of Leinster, proceeded in the same direction along the heights of Birtown, Ballyndrum, Glasshealy, and Narraghmore. Mountgarrett, having the advantage in numbers, and anxious for battle, out-marched Ormond’s forces, and posted himself on Bull Hill and Kilrush, completely intercepting Ormond’s further progress to Dublin; a general engagement became unavoidable.

The left wing of the Irish was broken by the first charge; the right, animated by their leaders, maintained the contest for some time, but eventually fell back on a neighboring eminence, since called Battlemount; here they broke, fled, and were pursued with great slaughter, across the grounds they had marched over the day before. This victory was considered of such consequence that Ormond was presented by the Irish Government with a jewel, value £50.” A contemporary account of the battle was given in the pamphlet: "Captaine Yarner's Relation of the Battle fought at Kilrush upon the 15th day of April, by my Lord of Ormond, who with 2500 Foot and 500 Horse, overthrew the Lord Mountgarret's Army, consisting of 8000 Foot and 400 Horse, all well armed, and the choice of eight Counties. Together with a Relation of the proceedings of our Army, from the second to the later end of April, 1642.

Battle of Portlester

The Battle of Portlester took place on 7 August 1643 near the town of Portlester, Leinster in Ireland as part of the Irish Confederate Wars. It was fought between the Ulster Army under Owen Roe O'Neill and a largely Protestant government force from Dublin under Lord Moore, with both sides proclaiming their basic loyalty to Charles 1 In a largely indecisive battle the two armies exchanged artillery fire, during which the Protestant commander Lord Moore was killed. His army withdrew handing the Irish Confederates a strategic victory. O'Neill then received intelligence that a largely Protestant force under Lord Moore was approaching from Athboy. Moore had recently been reinforced and was eager to test the strength of O'Neill's army. Moore wished to prevent the Ulster Army from capturing more of the government's strongholds and to stop further damage being done to the countryside.

O'Neill's forces took up defensive positions near a ford across the river and at a nearby mill. O'Neill led some of his troops forwards until they made contact with the enemy, then withdrew hastily in an effort to draw Moore's army onto unfavorable ground. As they advanced in pursuit the Protestant troops were raked with crossfire, particularly from the mill where O'Neill had stationed musketeers. Faced with heavy fire, Moore's men withdrew. They regrouped but two further assaults were driven back. Moore then ordered a large force to attempt the mill. Heavy hand-to-hand combat took place around the position, while Moore launched further attacks on the ford. O'Neill sent in a relief column to the mill whose defenders accepted fresh ammunition but rejected the need for reinforcements and pledged to hold the position at all costs.

While Moore was surveying the nearby fighting at the mill, he was struck by an artillery shot that killed him.
Following their commander's death the government forces withdrew about a mile, carrying his body with them. Some of O'Neill's troops wanted to follow them, but O'Neill rejected this as he feared that the withdrawal was a ruse and wanted to conserve his forces. The following morning the Protestant army retreated towards Athboy. Although there were other government troops nearby under George Monck, they were short of numbers and marched towards Trim.

O'Neill rewarded the mill's defenders with gold coins for their bravery. Although the victory brought to an end the series of defeats that the Ulster Army had suffered over the previous two years, the defensive battle at Portlester gave little advantage to the Confederates as they lacked the resources to attempt a further advance eastwards towards Dublin. Shortly afterwards a Cession of Arms was agreed between the Dublin government of Ornond and the Irish Confederates as a first step towards negotiating a peace treaty and alliance against their mutual enemies the roundhead forces in England. Strategic victory Irish confederate.

Battle of Dungan's Hill

This battle was fought by Henry Moore, 1st Earl of Drogheda of the Confederate forces. The Battle of Dungan's Hill took place in County Meath, in eastern Ireland in August 1647. It was fought between the armies of Confederate Ireland and the English Parliament during the Wars of the three Kingdoms. The Irish army was intercepted on a march towards Dublin and destroyed. Although it is alittle-known event, even in Ireland, the battle was very bloody (with over 3000 deaths) and had important political repercussions. The Parliamentarian victory there destroyed the Irish Confederate forces’ Leinster army and contributed to the collapse of the Confederate cause and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649.

From a Parliamentarian point of view, victory in this battle was presented to them by the incompetence of the Irish commander. Preston was a veteran of the Thirty Years War where he had been a commander of the Spanish garrison at Leuven , but had no experience of open warfare or handling cavalry. Jones, by contrast, had been a cavalry officer in the English civil war. As a result, Preston tried to move his cavalry along a narrow covered lane (site of the present day main road), where they were trapped and subjected to enemy fire without being able to respond. Even worse, Preston had placed a large number of his troops in wheat fields over seven feet tall. As a result these troops were unable to see the Parliamentarians until it was too late.

With the Confederate army spread out and in confusion, Jones' troops fell in amongst them causing the demoralized Irish cavalry to flee the field, leaving the remainder of Preston’s infantry unsupported. The Confederate army’s infantry were primarily equipped with pikes and heavy muskets and trained to stand in tercios in the Spanish manner. This meant they were difficult to break, but also highly immobile, without cavalry to cover their cumbersome formation when it moved. What was worse, Preston had positioned them in a large walled field, so that when their cavalry had run away, the Parliamentarians could surround and trap them. Some of the Irish infantry, Scottish highlanders brought to Ireland by Alasdair MacColla , managed to charge and break through Jones’ men and escape into a nearby bog, where the English cavalry could not follow. Preston and about 2-3000 of his regular infantry managed to follow the Highlanders to safety, but the remainder were trapped.

What happened next is disputed. The Irish infantry managed to hold off several assaults on their position, before trying to follow their comrades into the safety of the bog. This made them lose their formation and the Parliamentarians got in amongst them and then surrounded them in the bogland. Parliamentarian accounts simply say that the Irish force was then destroyed. Irish accounts, however, claim that the Confederate troops surrendered and were then massacred. One account, by a Catholic friar named O Meallain, says that the corpses of the Irish foot soldiers were found with their hands tied.

A recent study (Padraig Lenihan, Confederate Catholics at War, Cork 2001), suggests that the Irishmen probably tried to surrender, but that, according to the conventions of 17th century warfare, this had to be accepted before it entitled them to safety. In this case, it was not accepted and the infantrymen were butchered. Around 3000 Confederate troops and a small number of Parliamentarians died at Dungan's Hill. One of the English regimental commanders, Colonel Anthony Hungerford, was shot in the mouth, a wound that invalided him out of the English Army.

Most of the dead were Irish infantrymen killed in the last stage of the battle. Those prisoners who were taken were mainly officers, whom the Parliamentarians could either ransom or exchange for prisoners of their own. Richard Talbot (later Earl of Tyrconnell and Lord Deputy of Ireland, but then a junior cavalry officer) was among the Confederate prisoners. In the immediate aftermath of the battle, Owen Roe's Ulster Army marched through the pass of Portlester Mill to mount an effective rearguard action, routing Jones' advanced brigade and enabling the survivors of the Leinster army to escape. Jones, fearing O'Neill's army, did not continue the pursuit and returned to Dublin. O'Neill and his Ulstermen returned four months later to bury the dead Confederates.