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

Part II. History of Thomond
Chapter 13. History of Thomond before it was formed into an English county: From the Death of De Clare in 1318 to the Formation of Thomond into an English County in 1580

Law of primogeniture introduced and resistance to this innovation; Fury of the people on being deprived of the right of ownership of their lands

In the letter of the king to the Irish Council, signifying his decision on these matters, he refers to another topic, namely, a request preferred by Dr. Neylan that the Abbey of Ennis, then about to be dissolved, should be granted to him, and stating the decision of the monarch declining to yield to Neylan’s application. Neylan grounded his claim upon the fact that he had advised Conor, the late Prince of Thomond, to give in his adhesion to the Government of England. In the same letter, Henry states, that he had conferred the bishopric of Kilfenora on the son of Sir Dermot O’Shaughnessy. [17]

All these questions of titles and grants of land were viewed by the people with indifference. They little knew how important such things might become in the future. As long as the O’Briens, MacNamara, and O’Grady lived they received their usual tribute, and it was not till after their death that the enormous significance of their dealings with the English Crown became manifest. Then it was found that the lands which had for ages belonged to the members of the clan, each possessing his own share by indefeasible right, suddenly became the exclusive property of the eldest son of the defunct chief. Their eyes were opened to the trick that had been played upon them, and they fiercely resisted every attempt to enforce claims which they deemed absolutely preposterous and untenable. On the other hand, the eldest sons of the grantees claimed the aid of English power to support them in the assertion of their newly acquired rights, and the foreigners feeling that by the creation of dissensions amongst the natives their own authority might be more easily extended, lent a willing hand to the chieftains in their endeavour to coerce their kindred into a recognition of the feudal law of primogeniture. Very few records of these struggles have come down to our times, but from incidental glimpses, furnished by the writings of the Four Masters, we learn that they were fierce, protracted, and bloody.