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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

Soldiers sent from Galway to compel the chiefs of Thomond to submission; Assizes held at Ennis; Sonnet attributed to Sir Turlogh O’Brien of Ennistymon

In the first week of March, 1599, Sir Conyers Clifford, Governor of Connaught, sent from Galway to Clare, eight companies of soldiers, under command of Theobald Dillon, Captain Lester, and Richard Scurlock the Sheriff of Clare, with instructions that they should put themselves under the authority of Sir Turlogh O’Brien of Ennistymon. Teige O’Brien, brother of the Earl of Thomond, had been always rebellious against the English, and he determined to oppose the entry of these troops into the county. For that purpose, he placed himself in ambush, in the woods of Rockforest, and as Dillon and his party, on the following day, were marching from Cil-Caeide (Kilkeedy), through Bealach-an-Fhiodhfhail, he attacked and slew many of them. On his own side, several persons lost their lives, one only of these being of distinction, namely, Dermot Roe, brother of Turlogh O’Brien of Caherminane. Finding however, that his opposition to the invaders was entirely unavailing, he made his peace with Dillon, and dismissed his followers to their homes. On the day following, the English repaired to Ennistymon, and placed themselves under command of Sir Turlogh O’Brien. [14] Thence they proceeded to Caherminane, described by the Four Masters as a castle inhabited by a number of plunderers, where the spoil of the surrounding country was brought to the owner, always opposed to the rule of the strangers. The castle had to be rendered to them. They subsequently departed for West Corcabaskin, to coerce Teige Caech MacMahon who, it appears, had broken out into revolt. After plundering his country, they marched through East Corcabaskin to Ennis, and there, for fifteen days, they held an Assizes which was attended by most of the principal gentry of the county. At these Assizes, a renewed promise was obtained, that the Crown rent should be punctually paid in future; and it was settled that four companies of solders should remain, and a sheriff and sub-sheriff be appointed to preserve the public peace.

Sir Turlogh O’Brien.—As this is the last time mention is made of this gentleman, I subjoin a sonnet attributed to him, by an anonymous writer in the Dublin Penny Journal, vol. iv., p. 104. Several others of the O’Briens, bore the name of Turlogh, at the date of the poem (1593), but it is questionable if any one of the family, except, perhaps, the Earl of Thomond, possessed enough English to enable them to write a line in that language. [15]

“I woulde that I were
A voiceless sighe,
Floating through ayre

Unperceived I would steale o’er thy cheeks of downe
And kisse thy soft lippes unchecked by a frowne.

I would that I were
A dying tone,
To dwelle on thine eare
Though the music were gone;
I would charm thy heart with my latest breathe,
And yield thee pleasure e’em in my deathe.

I would I might passe from this living tombe,
Into the violet’s sweetest perfume;
On the wings of the morning to thee would I fly,
And mingle my soule with they sweetest sighe.

My hearte is bounde
With a viewless chayne,
I see no wounde,
But I feel its payne.

Break my prison and set me free,
Bondage, though sweete, has no charme for me,
Yet now e’en in fetters my fond hearte will dwelle
Since thy shaddowe floats o’er it and hallowes my celle.”