Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Bit of Irish Legend

Since I like to read history, I get lots of mail relating to Celtic histories. I found this little tidbit earlier today.

Murder Of “Brown Earl” Of Ulster And Its Effects
April 29th, 2008 | by indo |

The most bitter quarrel of all, and one which had most important results, was that which ended in the assassination of the last De Burgh Earl of ” Ulster.” The ” Red Earl ” had died in 1326 in the monastery of Athaisil and had been succeeded by his grandson, the ” Brown Earl.” William De Burgh, the brother of the Red Earl and one of the victors at Athenry, had died in 1324. Between William’s son, Walter, and the Brown Earl, some fighting took place, and eventually Walter De Burgh was treacherously captured, and starved to death in the Brown Earl’s castle of Greencastle in Inis Eoghain. Walter’s brother-in-law, Sir Richard Mandeville, in revenge suddenly fell upon the Brown Earl, and murdered him near Carrickfergus (1333). The Earl left an only child, an infant girl, who was carried off to England, and the last of the Lordships thus met the same fate that had befallen all the others.

The Normans of Connacht Renounce English Authority.—The effects of this crime were severely felt in ” Ulster ” and in Connacht. In the former it resulted in the settlement of the Clann Aodha Buidhe O’Neills and the ultimate annihilation of the northern settlement. In the latter it caused the repudiation of English authority by the other branches of the De Burghs. These were descended from William, the brother of the first Earl of the family , and were now represented by two brothers, Ulick Burke and Edmond ” Albanach ” Burke. Knowing that the infant daughter of the Brown Earl would eventually carry the title and its possessions to some ” absentee ” husband, they definitely renounced allegiance to the English Crown and English law, and adopted the Irish names of Mac William from their ancestor, Ulick becoming Mac William ” Uachtar ” (or ” upper “), and Edmond becoming Mac William ” Iochtar ” (or ” lower “). To remove the only other claimant to any superior title over them, Edmund seized a surviving son of the Red Earl, and drowned him in Lough Mask (1338). The lesser Normans followed the example of their leaders, and all Connacht was thus lost to the English Crown for more than two centuries.

The New Earldoms: Kildare, Desmond, Ormonde.—It was just when the last of the early Lordships disappeared that there rose into clear prominence three family which from that time became the conspicuous leaders of the Irish of Norman descent. They were not late arrivals ; their founders had been amongst the earliest settlers, but hitherto they had occupied a secondary position to the Marshalls, De Lacys, De Burghs and others. Unlike most of these families, their interests lay altogether in Ireland, and they were only remotely concerned in English politics. They were the Fits-Geralds of Leinster, the Fitz-Geralds of Munster, and the Butlers, the respective heads of which were now created Earls of Kildare (1318), of Desmond (1330), and of Ormonde (1328).

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