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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 19. Rising of the Catholics, 1641; — Siege of Ballyallia Castle

News of the rising in the North reaches Clare; The people take arms with a view to the expulsion from the County of Lord Thomond’s Protestant tenants; Names of the more important of these tenants

We have now arrived at the disastrous period of the Civil War of 1641. Intelligence of the outbreak in the North, arrived in Clare, in the beginning of November. It was announced at the great fair of Quin. The inhabitants immediately rose in arms to expel the English intruders who, in the capacity of tenants of the Earl of Thomond, of Daniel O’Brien of Dough, of Murrogh Baron of Inchiquin and of other proprietors, had become possessed of castles and lands in various parts of the county. As an illustration of the contest that now followed, a contemporary record has come down to us, especially valuable in its character. It is the history of the siege of one of the castles, and we proceed to give it here, almost in extenso, and nearly in the original words. The writer is Maurice Cuffe, a merchant of Ennis, third son of Maurice Cuffe who died in 1638, and who had been Provost of Ennis in 1634. The book was printed by the Camden Society from the original MS., in 1841. [1]

“The 1st of November, 1641, news was sent from Limerick to Robert Coppinger, Esq., being then at the fair of Quin, of the rebellion that was begun in the North, but no evident sign of rising appeared in Thomond till the end of November. At that date, information reached the Earl of Thomond, (Barnabas, 6th Earl), of a general rising of the Irish in the neighbouring counties. The following castles were occupied by Englishmen in Clare, at the commencement of hostilities:—Bunratty, by the Earl of Thomond; Rosmanagher, by Christian Coule; Cappagh, by Francis Morton; Dromline, by Edward Fennar; Ballycar, by George Colpoys, Esq.; Ballymulcashel, by Thomas Benes; Dromoland, by Robert Starkey, Esq.; Ballynacraggy, by Richard Keaton; Castlekeale, by James Martin; [2] Ing, by Peter Ware; Cloghanaboy, (?) by Mr. Rawson’s tenants; Clare Castle, by Captain Hugh Norton, Esq.; Ballyalley, by Maurice Cuffe, Merchant; Ballycorick, by William Brigdall; Crovraghan, by Thomas Burton and Mr. Maunsall; Doonagurroge, by Anthony Usher; Moy (near Lahinch), by George Norton; Inchovea, by Simson and others; Newtown, by Donogh O’Brien, Esq., then a Protestant; Carrowduff, by Francis Dawes; Ballyportry, by John Brickdall; Ballyharaghan, by Mr. Hasley; Inchicronan, by Anthony Heathcott; Clooney, by Thomas Bourne; Lissofin, by William Costello; Garrura, by John Carter; Scariff, by Richard Blagrafe; Caherhurley, by Matthew Hicks; Tomgraney, by Luke Brady, Esq.; Castlebank, by Mr. Washington; and Tromroe, by Peter Ward. Maurice Cuffe, his mother, and three brothers, were tenants of Ballyalley, from Sir Valentine Blake of Galway, for a term of years then unexpired, and although their landlord desired them to give up the place to the chieftains of the Irish party, they positively refused.

More particular news came to the Earl, to the effect that Murtagh O’Brien, son of Daniel of Annagh, had crossed over from the Tipperary side of the Shannon, and robbed the English of most of their cattle, threatening at the same time, to surprise Killaloe and Castlebank. It was stated that Murtagh was about to strip the Bishop of Killaloe, whereupon that prelate, with his English tenants, fled to Limerick, where they remained till the rebels took the city, on the 23rd of June, 1642.