WHAT A TROUBLED PERIOD OF FIGHTS
From Patrick Lallour (France)
from the book "History of The Queens County"
On the 27th May rumors first reached the Council in Dublin that Owny was prepared to release the Earl upon pledges. However it was not until the I2th of June that he regained his freedom by handing over hostages as the guarantee for the payment of, in those times, the very large sum of £3,ooo. This Owny mac Rory had con-sented to on receiving instructions from his Chief, the Earl of Tyrone. The £3,ooo was never paid; as after Owny mac Rory's (O'More) death, two months later, those persons who had custody of the hostages, viz., Redmond fitzjohn Keating, of Ballymoyleran , the O'Kellys, and the O'Lalors, were forced to de liver them up to the Lord Deputy.
The Lord Deputy, Mountjoy, finding that the O'Mores could not be suppressed by fighting, determined to subdue them by famine. For this purpose he organised an expedition with the main object of destroying the growing grain crops; and he entered Leix, as the Annals of the Four Masters" describe, "with many harrows and pracas (i.e., harrows with very long spikes), with many scythes and reaping-hooks, and destroyed or reaped the ripe and unripe crops of the territory."
The two chief military stations were Dingan in Offally, and Protectour in Leix. These twin defenders of British rule had been re-christened in the previous reign, and denominated respectively Philipstown and Maryborough. On the 16th January, 1567, they attained the dignity of market towns; and in 1569 they became county boroughs and returned two members to Parliament.
The sept, or seven-partite, system had endowed the Clans of Donil, Dermod, Kedagh, O'Kellie, O'Lalor, O'Doolin, …, with separate parcels of land, all of which are clearly indicated on the map, as well as two important districts which were Church property, viz., Feranoprior and Franamanagh, i.e., Friarsland, and Monksland. The entire area of Leix is divided into sixteen cantreds, and these we shall now proceed to describe. The location and bounds of places as given on the map are fairly accurate. The same, however, cannot be said for the spelling, e.g., Slradbesx for Stradbally; Foke for Fossy; Cunoben for Curraclone. The explanation may be that the map was copied from a rough sketch, and that in many cases the copyist was unable to decipher the handwriting. By comparison with the 6-inch Ordnance Survey map of the county the correct form of most of the place names can be recovered. Needless to say several of the names given on tue old map are long since obsolete.
O'Donovan in his edition of the Four Masters (p. 1693) has the following note regarding the slaughter of Mullaghmast : " The following traditional account of this massacre is printed, verbatim, from a copy made by the late Laurence Byrne of Fallybeg, near Luggacurren, in the Queens County. He states that he made it from an old manuscript sheet of paper wbich he had borrowed for that purpose in 1792, from the Rev. James O'Neill, P.P., of Maryborough, who had (at the sale of the books of the Rev. Jobn Whelan, P.P., of Portarlington, who died a very old man in 1775), found the original loose sheet of manuscript in one of the volumes, and preserve it :
" An account of the murder at Mullaghmast. In the year 1705, there was an old gentleman of the name of Cullen, in the County Kildare, wbo often discoursed with one Dwyer and one Dowling, actually living at Mullaghmast when this horrid murder was committed, which was about the sixteenth year (recté, nineteenth) of Queen Elizabeth's reign; and the account be gives of it is, that those who were chiefly concerned in this horrid murder were the Deavils, the Grehams, the Cosbys, the Piggotts, the Bowens, the Hartpoles, the Hovendons, the Dempsys, and the FitzGeralds. The last five of these were, at that time, Roman Catholics, by whom the poor people murdered at Mullaghmast were chiefly invited there, in pretence that said people should enter into an alliance offensive and defensive with them. But their reception was to put them all to death, except one O'More, who was the only person that escaped. Notwithstanding what is said that one O'More only had escaped the massacre, yet the common tradition of the country is, that many more had escaped through the means of one Henry Lalor, who, remarking that none of those returned who had entered the fort before him, desired his companions to make off as fast as they could, in case they did not see him come back. Said Lalor, as he was entering the fort, saw the carcasses of his slaughtered companions ; then drew his sword, and fought his way back to those that survived, along with whom he made his escape to Dysart, his family's ancestral home."
In October, 158o, in the County of Kilkenny, Piers Butler FitzEdmond of Butler's Wood, slew Neale M'Moriertaghe, gentleman, of Leix, Moriertagbe Rowe O'Hiffernan, servant and guide to John of
Desmond in his rebellion, Teige O'Leigblor (O'Lalor), Shane O'Forgurtie alias Sbane e Coggie, a piper to the aforesaid Neale M'Moriertagbe, as also Geffrey Duff O'Kelly Keniaghe.
The "Annals of the Four Masters" thus notice Rory's death :
"1578. Rury Oge, the son of Rury Caech, son of Connell O'More, fell by the band of Brian Oge, son of Brian MacGillapatrick. This Rury was the head of the plunderers and insurgents of the men of Ireland in his time; and for a long time after his death no one was desirous to discharge one shot against the soldiers of the Crown."
Rory's successor in the chieftainship appears to have been James mac Kedagh O'More (also styled Myagbe, or Meagbe), wbo is first mentioned in 1581, when in September be made his submission to the Lord Deputy, and in the following month he and his son, George O'More, received a pardon. In January, 1583, James Meagb, alias O'More, was in receipt of a pension from the Crown, wbich shows he was then in favour.
In May, 1577, Piers Butler FitzEdmond of Butler's Wood, County of Kilkenny, slew at the Castle of Galyne in Leix one Edmond O'Dewie, a strong rebel and confederate of Rory Oge, as also Edmond Riogb O'Kelly, an adherent, and Edmond Leagblor, or Lalor, "a chief man about the said Rory Oge O'More."