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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

Turlogh Donn defeats the Earl of Kildare near Limerick; His death

After the death of Conor-na-Srona, his brother Turlogh Oge, surnamed Gilla Duv, from the darkness of his complexion, was inaugurated chief in his place. He had been elected Tanist, had enjoyed that title since 1474, and now he became king. His reign was short; it lasted only three years and two months, and his death in 1499. History is not equally silent as to the action of his nephew and successor, Turlogh Don, (the yellow-haired), eldest son of Teige-an-Chumhaid. It is recorded, that in 1501, he wasted and burned Limerick City, and Cois Maighe in that county. His consanguinity with the MacWilliams of Clanrickard drew him into many quarrels in the course of his reign. They had been using their neighbours the O’Kellys, oppressively, and an appeal for protection being made by these to Garrett Earl of Kildare, the Lord Deputy, he marched into Connaught to their assistance. He was met at Knocktow, in the territory of Clanrickard, by MacWilliam and by O’Brien, joined by the MacNamaras and other septs. A fierce battle was fought, in which Kildare was worsted. By this defeat, his anger being fairly roused against the Burkes and O’Briens, he led an imposing array into Munster, in four years afterwards, designing to inflict condign punishment upon them for their delinquencies. “He marched through Bealach-na-Fadbaighe and Bealach-na-Gamhna, [8] until he arrived at a wooden bridge (i.e., the bridge of Portcroise), which O’Brien had constructed over the Shannon. This bridge he broke down, and encamped that night in the country. O’Brien encamped so near that they heard one another’s conversation during the night. On the morrow, he set out for Limerick, taking the short cut through Moin-na-brathair as his way. [9] Here he was attacked by O’Brien and utterly defeated. [10] Between the years 1510 and 1522 we have nothing to record of Turlogh Donn. In the latter year a quarrel sprung up between the O’Neills and O’Donnells of the north. The King of Thomond sent his sons, Donogh and Teige to render assistance to the chieftain of Tir owen. They were accompanied by the bishop of Killaloe, Turlogh son of Mahon, who was the cousin-german of their father. Before they could effect a junction with O’Neill, they found he had been defeated in battle by the O’Donnells, and they returned home after a fruitless journey. It was not long till their services were again called into requisition. In the early part of the sixteenth century, the kingdom of Thomond included part of the present counties of Tipperary and King’s County. The Earl of Ormond’s territory was adjacent, and he, having some grudge against O’Carroll of Ely, attacked that chieftain’s country. O’Brien immediately took up arms to defend his dependant chief. A battle ensued at the ford of Camus, near Cashel, in which the fortune of the day was undecided, but where Teige, son of the King of Thomond, lost his life “by the shot of a ball,” as the annalists describe it. His body was brought to Ennis and buried in the abbey there amongst his ancestors. [11]

From this time, till the date of the death of Turlogh Donn, there is nothing to relate concerning the general history of Thomond. Some isolated facts touching the career of particular individuals have been set down by the Four Masters; these, although not of much interest we reproduce here:?“ A.D. 1503. Teige Boirneach (i.e., of Burren); Murrogh and Mahone, two sons of Mahone O’Brien; Conor, the son of Brian, son of Murtogh, son of Brian Roe O’Brien; Conor, the son of Rory, son of Ana O’Loghlen; and Murtogh, son of Turlogh, son of Murrogh, son of Teige O’Brien, went with Owen, son of O’Flaherty, into West Connaught, against Rory Oge, and Donald (of the Boat) O’Flaherty. A battle was fought between them, in which the sons of Mahone O’Brien were slain. A.D. 1508. Donald O’Brien, son of Brian, son of Turlogh, Tanist of Thomond, died. A.D. 1512. Teige, son of Donald O’Brien, died; and Brian, the son of Donald, son of Teige, son of Turlogh, died in six weeks afterwards. A.D. 1514. Donogh, the son of Conor O’Brien, was vindictively and unbecomingly slain by the sons of Turlogh, son of Murrogh O’Brien, namely, by Murrogh and Donogh. The murdered man had been the choice of the men of Ireland for his dexterity of hand, puissance, vigour, and bravery. A.D. 1524. Dermot, son of Gilla Duv O’Brien, a man who assisted those who asked anything of him, more liberally than any other man owning a like extent of territory, a man of the most untiring hospitality and prowess, who was rather expected to live and enjoy the wealth and dignity of his patrimony, died after unction and penance. A.D. 1524. More, the daughter of O’Brien (i.e., Turlogh Donn), and wife of Donogh, the son of Mahone O’Brien, a woman who kept a house of open hospitality, died. A.D. 1528. Finola, the daughter of the O’Brien, that is, of Conor-na-Srona, and wife of Hugh Roe O’Donnell (the O’Donnell), a woman who, as regards both body and soul, had gained more fame and renown than any of her contemporaries, having spent her life and her wealth in acts of charity, and after having been twenty-two years in the habit (dress) of St. Francis, died on the first day of Lent, which fell on the 5th of February, and was buried in the monastery of Donegal, which had been founded by her husband and herself in 1474. A.D. 1531. Donogh, the son of Turlogh Donn, who was Tanist of Thomond, a man of hospitality and nobleness, died.

Turlogh Donn died in 1528, after a long reign of twenty-nine years. His death is recorded in these words by the Four Masters: “The O’Brien, i.e., Turlogh, the son of Teige, who of all the Irish in Leth Mogha had spent the longest time in acts of nobility and hospitality, the worthy heir of Brian Boroimhe, in maintaining war against the English, died after unction and penance.” [12]