Clare County Library
Clare History
Home | Search Library Catalogue | Foto: Clare Photo Collection | Search this Website | Copyright Notice

The History and Topography of the County of Clare by James Frost

Part III. History of the County of Clare
Chapter 14. History of the County of Clare from 1580 to 1641

Raid made by the Bourkes of Galway on Clare; The Earl of Thomond supports the English; Strafford fraudulently seeks to break landowners titles to their estates

In 1601, Redmond Burke raised a company of hired freebooters to invade Thomond. They pitched their camp on the eastern side of Lough Cutra. Here they were joined by Teige, the son of Sir Turlogh O’Brien of Ennistymon. Thus reinforced, they went along by the mountain of Echtghe, through Ui Donghaile, and Ui Caisin till they arrived at Ballyallia and the neighbourhood of Clonroad. After stripping that district of its cattle, they returned, the same evening, to Cill Reachtais (Kilraghtis). Early the following morning, on the way to Connaught, they were overtaken by the MacNamaras of Clan Culein, and by the retainers of the Earl of Thomond. A running fight ensued and several of both sides were killed. The skirmish lasted from Kilraghtis to Miluic-ui-Grada, at the east of Cineál Donghaile. Among the slain was Teige O’Brien.

The Earl of Thomond Supports the English.
An Assizes was held at Ennis, in February 1601, by the Earl of Thomond, in virtue of his office of Governor of the County. To prove his zeal for the cause of the foreigner, he hanged sixteen malefactors. Immediately afterwards he went to England, accompanied by his brother Daniel, and remained there for some months. By order of the Queen, he returned home, to oppose the Spaniards who had landed at Kinsale. He lost no time in collecting ships, arms, men, and stores. Arriving with his fleet at Kinsale, he united his forces, numbering four thousand men, to those of the Lord Deputy. The combined armies attacked and wholly routed the Spaniards and their Irish supporters, and Thomond returned in triumph to his own country. There, he found that, during his absence in England and at Kinsale, disaffection and disturbance had prevailed. Turlogh O’Brien of Derryowen, and Conor O’Brien of Castletown, were at the head of the malcontents. They were soon compelled to surrender their castles, and were given only a fortnight to quit the country and live in exile. At some future time they might hope to be restored to their homes by the Lord Deputy and Council. They crossed the Shannon at Killaloe, but no sooner had they set their foot upon the other side, than their kinsmen, the O’Briens of Ara, made them prisoners and brought them back to the Earl at Killaloe. He ordered them to be hanged face to face on the nearest trees. The principal men of the party, thus summarily disposed of, were Conor, the son of Donald, son of Mahone O’Brien; Brian Ballagh (the freckled), son of Mahone; and Teige Ultagh (of Ballymulcashell), the son of Mahone O’Brien. Turlogh alone escaped, having fled for shelter to the woods. After this, the Earl repaired to Cork, on the invitation of the Lord Deputy, to render his aid in the subjugation of the O’Sullivans of Berehaven. [20]

From the year 1601, at which year the last record touching the county is found in the Annals of the Four Masters, till the year 1641, the general history of Clare is almost a blank. We know that Stafford attempted to establish the right of the king to the absolute ownership of the soil of the county, and succeeded in that effort, but that before he could follow up his design of ejecting the owners, he was brought to the scaffold. His mode of proceeding against them was as iniquitous as it was ingenious. When, in 1585, the principal men of the county entered into the Composition Deed with Sir John Perrott, and surrendered their lands to the Crown, they neglected to enrol their surrenders and sue out letters patent. Their omission proceeded from utter ignorance of English law. Subsequently, the defect was remedied, and patents were granted to the holders, but although these patents received the great seal, they were never enrolled in Chancery. The neglect of the officers of the Court to comply with a form so essential must have been deliberate, because a sum of three thousand pounds had been sent to Dublin to pay the cost. Stafford availed himself of the flaw thus created in the title to confiscate to the Crown every acre belonging to the principal landowners of the county. It was intended that the Earl of Thomond and his brother, Sir Daniel O’Brien of Dough, should be exempted from this piece of wholesale robbery. They had become Protestants; they had yielded complete submission to the English; they had given their aid against the Irish at Kinsale and elsewhere; they had been rewarded with lands in addition to their previous large possessions, Sir Daniel having got the enormous estate of Teige Caech MacMahon of Carrigaholt; and they, to show their gratitude to their masters, invited Protestants from England and settled them upon their estates in various parts of the county. [21]