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 Submitted to the Clan O'More Society by: Michael More

The First of the Rapparees
Rory Oge O’More
by John G. Rowe

        When Queen Mary ascended the English throne on the death of her stepbrother Edward VI in 1553, all the penal and proselytizing Acts of Parliament which the Catholics of both islands groaned under were promptly repealed. Ireland heaved a deep sigh of relief, and fondly thought her troubles were over. But alas, she little knew the government officials at Dublin. These readily bowed to the Catholic Queen’s decree, and, although they had so lately been persecuting Irish Papists, at once became Papists themselves. St. Leger, the Lord Deputy, only two years before, viz., in 1551, had been exceedingly wroth because he had been styled a Papist by a political enemy. He now declared himself to be one, and, to show his zeal, at once expelled, or helped to expel, the Protestant Primate Browne from the See of Dublin. Browne was a married man, and had made himself hated by all, even by his fellow-Protestants among the English officials. He is described as having been not only most insolent, arrogant and intolerant, while Primate, but also gaspingly avaricious and meanly subservient to the powers above him. Conformity would not have saved his situation. Still, beyond being deprived of his See, he was not injured in any way, much less put to death. He died in obscurity three years after his fall, which no doubt hastened his end, as his vanity, ambition and covetousness must have sustained a mortal blow.

        St. Leger attended Mass in state at Christ Church, Dublin, and there handed over his sword of office to his successor, the Earl of Sussex. This Sir Anthony St. Leger, who in a previous term of office, had shown a tendency to a conciliatory policy, had just six years before now taken a very strange way of conciliating the O’Mores of Leix and the O’Connors of Offaly; he desolated their territories with fire and sword and proclaimed their two chiefs traitors. True, these two septs kept Leinster in incessant turmoil, and cost Henry VIII and Edward VI no less a sum than 100,000 pounds--a very large amount in those days--to subdue them. Reduced to starvation, the two chiefs were obliged to yield themselves prisoners; and, to do St. Leger bare justice, he treated them more mercifully then other Deputies probably would have done. Instead of hanging them, he sent them to England and had them confined in the Tower, where they were allowed a pension apiece of 100 pounds a year. St. Leger, however, did a very cruel and unwarrantable act on top of his clemency of these two chiefs. He handed over their tribal estates to a fellow-countryman of his own named Francis Bryan, as well as to some other English colonists, no doubt for a very handsome consideration in hard cash. These “landgrabbers” at once proceeded to hunt the rightful occupants of the soil, the peoples of the two septs, from house and home, and to sell the land again to other English colonists. Thus started the first of the infamous “Plantations” of Ireland.

        St. Leger’s act was most impolitic. Statesmanship should have counseled him to leave the O’Mores and O’Connors in quiet possession of their hereditary property under newly appointed or elected chiefs, the rightful tanists, whose loyalty he might have thus secured. As it was, he simply threw the apple of discord, with a vengeance, into that part of the country. And it was equally unjust. It did not follow that because an Irish chief revolted against English domination or rapacity, the whole tribe or sept was concerned in the rising; nine-tenths possibly had no hand whatever in it; and this fact had been recognized up to that period even by the most savage and covetous English governors. But now the rebellion of a chief resulted in the whole of his people being put outside the pale of the law and dispossessed of all their property. The lands of the whole sept or tribe were confiscated--seized by the English crown and sold to English adventurers, who were called Undertakers. One of the conditions under which these Undertakers got the land was that they should bring across and plant upon it a number of English or Scottish settlers. To drive forth and extirpate the hapless native population, every help of the government troops was to be afforded these Undertakers. In his “History of England,” the bigoted writer, Froude, says: “To these intending colonists they (the rightful Irish owners of the soil) were of no more value than their own wolves, and would have been exterminated with equal indifference.”

        Naturally the natives fiercely resisted the new order of things. They were not to be driven from their homes and hearths without a desperate struggle, and the Undertakers and Planters, although backed up by the government and supported by the royal troops, did not have everything their own way by any manner of means. At the head of 10,000 men, the military commander, Bellingham, marched through Offaly and Leix, wasting and massacring, but the O’Connors and O’Mores fled to the hills and woods and kept up a desultory warfare throughout the whole six years of Edward VI’s reign, with dreadful human loss to both sides and causing, as we have seen, a tremendous expense to the government. The O’More, sent into exile in England by St. Leger in 1547, died in the first year of his captivity. His name was Kedach, and he had succeeded his brother Lysaght, who had been killed fighting against the English of the Pale. Rory, a third brother, the father of that Rory Oge (who is the subject of our sketch), now succeeded to the chieftainship of the sept and he it was who inaugurated his unremitting warfare against the Undertakers and Planters.

        For a time Rory was obliged to submit to Bellingham, who erected a number of castles in the two disaffected territories to overawe the people. He had two sons, Callagh and Rory Oge, by his wife Margaret, who was the daughter of Thomas Butler and granddaughter of Pierce or Piers Butler, the eighth Earl of Ormond. Callagh O’More, when his father submitted, was sent to England by the English governor who made him a grant to live on, and this grant was actually said to be made in consideration of his father’s services to Edward VI.! Doubtful services they probably were, seeing that by an order of the 145th March, 1550-1, it was forbidden that any of the name of O’More should hold land in Leix. Rory was in active rebellion again in 1550 and 1551; and on Queen Mary’s accession in 1553, the O’Mores and O’Connors of Offlay joined forces once more and this time, unhappily, they commenced an indiscriminate slaughter of all the Planters and Undertakers in their midst. Under the elder Rory’s leadership they swept all before them, razing every one of Bellingham’s castles, put man, woman and child , who was English, to the sword, and burned everything even to the gates of Dublin.

        It was a sad mistake. To say nothing of the cruelty they displayed in thus visiting their vengeance for the wrongdoing upon the heads of women and children as well as upon the real offenders, they committed a great blunder in waging such savage warfare at a time when a Catholic Queen had come to the throne and might be looked upon to redress the evils they were suffering under. That Queen Mary would have righted their wrings by recalling the Undertakers and Planters and by reinstating the original owners in the property is highly probable from her action in the case of Brian O’Connor. He was the Chief of Offaly who had been exiled by St. Leger with Kedach O’More, in 1547, and confined in the Tower of London with a pension of 100 pounds a year. Margaret, his daughter, immediately on Queen Mary’s accession to the throne, repaired to England to plead for his release. According to the Four Masters, she could speak English and had a number of friends and relatives in England. Relying on the help of these, the devoted girl braved the dangers of the journey, obtained an interview with Mary, and threw herself at the Queen’s feet. Mary’s heart, schooled by her own bitter sorrows, was toughed by Margaret O’Connor’s eloquent and tearful pleading, and old Brian was set free and allowed to return with his child to Ireland.

        Other Irish exiles were also permitted, at the same time, by the Queen to accompany the pair-young Gerald Fitzgerald, the sole survivor of the great and noble house of the Geraldines, one who had undergone vicissitudes equal to those of Ulysses in his wanderings; Fitzpatrick of MacGillapatrick of Ossory, and Thomas Butler, the young Earl of Ormond. A brighter day had apparently dawned for Ireland, but alas! the ill-advised and distinctly reprehensible conduct of the O’Mores and O’Conors was to ruin matters. The Lords Justices, in the face of the doings in Offaly and Leix, arrested Brian O’Connor on his arrival in Dublin, and shut him up in the castle as a measure of precaution. They then appraised the Queen of the wild work of the O’Connors and O’Mores, representing them as most ungrateful and turbulent septs, to whom no mercy or humane consideration could be shown with safety. Mary’s mind was poisoned; she regretted her late act of clemency and directed the sternest measures to the adopted against both tribes. She conveyed her thanks to the Deputy for his activity against them and sanctioned the replanting of Leix and Offaly and the extirpation of the disaffected population. A parliament was summoned in Dublin in 1556, and it was enacted that the two territories be made “shire ground,” or crown property, and formed into two counties. Leix and a small portion of Offaly were called Queen’s County in honour of Mary herself, and the rest of Offaly, with the country of the O’Mulloys and the O’Carneys, with part of Ely O’Carrol and Delvin, were joined together and named King’s County in honour of Philip of Spain, Mary’s husband. The name of Maryborough was given to the old fortress of Campa or Port Leix, which had been called fort Protector in the late reign, and this place was made the capital of Queen’s County. Sussex, the Lord Deputy, was empowered to restore the castles which the rebels had destroyed, and to carry out a complete survey of the two counties and divide the lands between English settlers and the natives. To give the deluded Mary her due she did not wish the Irish to be dispossessed of such property as they had at the time, and insisted that both settlers and natives were to be subject to English law. This decree would prohibit unfair treatment o the Irish, she imagined, and it certainly would have done so, had it been obeyed to the letter. But that was never the conduct of the English officials.

        Rory O’More, the intractable rebel and father of Rory Oge, had been killed, and was succeeded by the tanist Connell Oge O’More, who was the chieftain of the sept at the time of the “Settlement of Leix,” as this great wrong was called. According to the Settlement, the chief of each sept was to be responsible for the good behaviour of the certain number of his people, and the freeholders were to have their children taught English and were to make roads and keep the fords open for the passage of military at any time. Furthermore, any intermarriage or fostering, without a special license in writing from the Lord Deputy would entail forfeiture of their estates. “The O’Mores were to get all the country beyond the bog and all around them was planted by English,” writes Rev. E. A. D’Alton in his ‘History of Ireland,’ “and Brown and Shute and Girton, and Masterson and Jones, and many others whose names indicate their nationality, were to be settled on lands from which Irishmen were driven, and were to live in peace, side by side with MacShane and O’Dowlyn and O’Fahy, and MacNeill Boy and the O’Mores.”

        The “Settlement” was only such in name. The English planters had to fight for their estates from the day of their coming. In spite of the terrorism adopted by the government, the Irish refused to live in amity with them, regarding them as plunderers, in possession of lands from which either they themselves or their kith and kin had been expelled. The newcomers, on the other hand, were inclined to be arrogant, aggressive, and tried to acquire the lands of their neighbours, often by foul means. “A dispute about boundaries, an injury to crops, the trespass of cattle, a jest or sneer, any one of these things would arouse passions which slumbered but were not dead, and the result would be disorder and crime,” says the same historian. The chiefs, hitherto independent and knowing no authority but their own, found themselves disgraced, and were made to feel the inferiority of their new positions in many galling ways. Connell O’More broke from the insufferable bondage, and with the O’Connors and O’Mulloys, carried fire and sword as of old among the English planters. Connell was captured and put to death in 1557, and for a short time again the natives were overawed. With the death of Mary and the accession of Protestant Elizabeth a ruthless war of extermination was waged against them, and many of them, driven from their homes and outlawed, fled to the woods and hills and bogs, and retaliated in fierce reprisals, making plundering inroads at every opportunity.

        In the absence in England of his elder brother Callagh--called by the English “the Calough”--Rory Oge now took command of his tribe. He was barely twenty when Elizabeth came to the throne. In Irish he is called Ruaidhri Og un Mordha. He promptly revolted against he cruel oppression and rapacity of his people’s English taskmasters, and commenced a furious guerrilla war, attacking towns and destroying planters’ houses, and, when worsted or taken at disadvantage, fleeing back to safe refuges in the woods and bogs. The sentence of outlawry was passed upon him, and Sir Henry Sidney, the Deputy, kept two hundred English soldiers in Leix to hunt him down and protect the planters. Rory at this time commanded only a small, ill-equipped band of relatives and followers. Sidney later on, though well aware that he was the lawful prince of Leix, denounced him as “an obscure and base varlet,” who was “stirring and claiming authority over the hole country of Leish. He occupieth what he listeth and wasteth what he will.” Finding his people did not rise and support him as he had hoped and expected they would, the young rebel dismissed his followers and became reconciled to the government, receiving a pardon on the 17th February, 1565.

        Six years later, however, he was believed to be conspiring with the O’Connors of Offaly, his house’s time-honoured allies, and the O’Mulloys, to raise a fresh rebellion; and sure enough, in the following summer, that of 1571, he took the field again, choosing an opportune moment when the English forces in the district were weak and when Ormond was absent in England. At the head now of a much more considerable force, he fought the Butlers and Fitsgeralds indiscriminately, holding his own against all attempts to destroy him. The Earl of Desmond returned to Ireland about this time, after a long detention in England on various charges. The Irish Council arrested him. He was not confined, however, but kept under the guard of the Mayor of Dublin. In November, 1572, under the pretest that he was going hunting, he contrived to escape. It is more than likely that Rory Oge O’More was concerned in his escape, for the young guerrilla chief met him, escorted him through Kildare, and afforded him his protection while in Queen’s County. The Earl was at once proclaimed a traitor, and a large reward was offered for his recapture, alive or dead. But Rory Oge saw him safely among his own people, where he at once raised the standard of insurrection, and recaptured some fortresses which had been taken from him. Rory Oge assisted him by keeping the Pale in a ferment with incessant forays. The young guerrilla or “rapparee” chief also entered into an alliance with the two sons of the Earl of Clanrickard, who were warring on the Government in Connaught. Desmond, however, losing his two castles of Derrinlare and Castlemain, submitted at Conmel to the Lord Deputy; and in the following year, 1574, in the month of November, the dashing Rory Oge was surprised, taken prisoner, and conveyed to Dublin.

        Fortunately, no doubt, for Rory Oge, the Deputy, Sir William Fitzwilliam, was not popular with the other Crown officials and had resigned from office. Sir Henry Sidney was appointed Deputy once more, and his first acts were of a conciliatory character. Rory Oge was released, and immediately returning to Leix, reassumed the control of his property and people there as if nothing had occurred. Sidney commenced a tour of the whole country, and coming to the district of the O’More’s, he thus wrote: “Rory Oge O’More hath the possession and settling place in the Queen’s County, whether the tenants (i.e., the undertakers and planters) will or no.” Rory went to meet the new Deputy in the Cathedral of Kilkenny in the month of December, 1575. According to Sidney, he “submitted himself, repenting (as he said) his former faults and promising hereafter to live in better sort (for worse than he hath been he cannot be).” Alas, for Sir Henry’s opinion! Rory Oge’s earlier exploits pale into significance when compared with what he did after this famous interview with the Deputy. Sidney was the guest of the Earl of Ormond at Kilkenny, and it may be that Rory’s relationship with the Butler family had also something to do with this meeting. Ormond must have approached Rory with a view to establishing peace and quietude in Leinster. Sidney rebuked the young rebel severely, we are informed, and told him he would assign him certain lands on which he must be content to live peacefully, thenceforward. MacGillapatrick, the lord of Upper Ossory, was given charge of the two planed counties, the King’s and Queen’s, and Sidney went on to Waterford, believing he ad settled everything very satisfactorily.

        Rory kept faith with the Deputy until he had been granted his new pardon, in June, 1576; immediately afterwards, though why exactly does not transpire, he renounced his allegiance to England and entered again into a conspiracy with Clanrickard’s sons. They were in secret communication with Sir James Fitzmaurice, a cousin of the Earl of Desmond, who had taken up arms some years before in defense of Catholicism and who was in Spain trying to obtain the aid of King Philip and the Pope. Five years previously when Rory was fighting with Ormond that Earl had petitioned for the return of his elder brother Callagh or “the Calough,” in order no doubt to displace Rory as chief of the clan. But the government at the time did not grant the petition, probably considering that it was safer to keep Callagh in England and not risk setting up two rebels where now they had only one. Callagh was of Gray’s Inn in London, and is assumed to be one “John Callow” who entered there in 1567. He appears to have been of very different calibre to his brother, for in 1582, some years after Rory’s death, he was considered sufficiently loyal to England to be granted an estate in Leix, and that is the last heard of him.

        Rory Oge, supplied with money and arms by his friend, John Burke, a son of Clanrickard, joined forces with Cormac McCormac O’Connor and gathered a fairly powerful army. Very likely he hoped to see the Catholic Faith restored and the country’s independence won when Fitzmaurice returned with Spanish aid. In the autumn and winter of that year, 1576, he and Cormac O’Connor ravaged the English settlements, not only in Leix and Offaly, where they almost wiped them out, but in Meath and Fingall as well.

        We now come upon an incident that stands out as one of the blackest and ugliest crimes in the course of Anglo-Irish history and one that has never passed out of popular memory in Ireland. the seneschal of Queen’s County, Sir Francis Cosby, in order to revenge himself on Rory Oge, and at the same time to bring about a lasting peace in Leix and Offaly, plotted to effect the wholesale slaughter of the heads of the principal Irish families in those districts. Most of the undertakers and planters joined in the diabolical plot, and even one purely Irish family, the Dempseys. The other chief assistants in the mediated butchery were the Grahams, the Piggots, the Hartpools, and Hovendens, and Bowens, and the Fitzgeralds. Of these the four last, like the Dempseys, were Catholic! To a number, variously stated by different writers as between 300 and 400, and 40 and 180, all the chiefs of the seven septs of Leix were invited to a friendly conference at the Rath of Mullaghmast, near the village of Ballitore in Kildare, five miles eastward of Athy. By reason of this historic associations, it was the scene in more recent times of one of Daniel O’Connell’s grandest monster meetings for Repeal. Suspecting no treachery, the O’Mores, O’Lalors, O’Dowlings, O’Nolans, O’Kellys and others cam to the ancient circular fort, which was surrounded by the usual low earthen wall. When they had entered--all except one--they found themselves suddenly enveloped by a triple line of armed English soldiery. Every man of them was done to death. The one man who had not entered, Henry Lalor, cam up in time to witness the butchery. He also was assailed, but drawing his sword, he cut his way through his antagonists, and rejoining his followers, escaped with them into Dysart. It is said that 180 of the O’Mores alone thus perished, and, if so, this would account for one of the authorities putting the entire killed at that number. The number usually accepted of the trapped and slain is close on 400.

        An English officer of the time, Captain Thomas Lee, wrote that this deed of horror was perpetrated with the full knowledge and approval of the Lord Deputy, Sidney; and certain it is that there never was an investigation or attempt to bring the assassins to justice. Retribution, however, quickly overtook nearly all concerned in it. Sir Francis Cosby was killed three years later, in the great victory won at Glenmalure by the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles and some fugitive O’Mores, over Lord Grey de Wilton the then Deputy; and the Dempseys were brought to the most abject poverty and misery.

        Rory Oge, who fortunately for him had not been present, and was still stoutly maintaining his independence among the woods and hills, vowed an oath of vengeance which he only too faithfully kept. “Remember Mullaghmast!” became this watchword and dread warcry. Like some destroying angel, he and his men would swoop down in the night upon the castle or manor of one of the assassins, and the terrified inmates would be roused from their slumbers by his fierce slogan to find their rooftrees blazing over them, or to find his clansmen swarming over their battlements and putting all to the sword. Not only castles and fortified mansions fell before Rory Oge, but who towns and settlements wherein the undertakers and planters were congregated. There was no guarantee of an untroubled night’s repose for any of the English settlers. He was often at hand and would deal his deadly blow, when they fondly supposed him to be far away. His movements were most amazingly rapid, and he appeared in places distantly removed from one another at incredibly shot intervals. Sir Henry Sidney wrote to the Council that he could not say whether such feats “were performed by swiftness of footmanship, or rather, if it be lawful so to deem, by sorcery or enchantment.” The English compared him to their own historic Robin Hood, and as the Robin Hood of Ireland they might certainly regard him; he bears every resemblance to the legendary hero of English outlawry-a gallant young nobleman, with a price put upon his head by the government, and carrying on, from the safe refuge of woods and marshes, his war against an intolerable tyranny.

        In the dead of the night on 17th March, 1577, the same year as Mullaghmast, he, with his second in command, Cormac O’Connor, a worthy lieutenant in every respect, burst suddenly into the sleeping town of Naas. The townspeople were wakened from their heavy sleep, after their festivities on the occasion of the national festival, to behold his “merrie men” rushing through the streets with lighted torches on long poles, firing the thatched roof of every house. “They ranne through the towne lyke hagges and furies of hell, with flakes of tier fastened on poles’ ends,” Sir Henry Sidney wrote to the Council, according to the State Papers and Carew MSS. Rory himself sat, coldly and calmly, in the market-place to watch the spectacle of the blazing streets, but he suffered none of his kern to injure or insult the terrified inhabitants, who fled helter-skelter in frantic panic. The write of the account of him in the “Dictionary of National Biography” states that it was on the 3rd of March, that Naas was thus given by him to the flames, but other authorities say it was on St. Patrick’s Night, and this would seem to be borne out by the fact that on the 18th March Sir Francis Cosby was ordered to follow the trail of the ravagers and try and wipe them out in their woody fastness with fire and sword. Cosby could not find Rory, who hurried south from Naas, and fell in like manner upon the town of Carlow, which he also gave to the flames. Continuing his swift march southward, the fearless young outlaw similarly burned Leighlin Bridge. Then he wheeled aside, and, while his enraged foes in vain attempted to come up with him, or intercept him, destroyed every other English town and village in Leinster whither he bent his steps. Towards the end of that same year, 1577, he turned upon some of his pursuers, destroying them and captured their commanders, sir Henry Harrington-Sidney’s own nephew-and one of the Cosbys. He carried them off triumphantly to this fastness in the woods.

        Deputy Sidney, who had been putting forth every effort to hunt him down, tried to come to terms with him now. But Rory Oge would near of none, nor release his captives, unless he and his sept were reinstated with full guarantee of life and property in their despoiled homes of Leix, all the English planters being withdrawn. Sidney could not grant such conditions, and so the desperate struggle went on. In the new year, 1578, the distracted Deputy wrote: “The only gall is the rebel of Leinster: I waste him and kill off his men daily. To repress the arch-traitor James Fitzmaurice and that rebel Rory Oge, I am forced to employ no small extraordinary charge.”

        At last treachery almost accomplished what the sword could not. One of Rory’s followers was prevailed on the betray him. Robert Hartpool, the constable of Carlow, was led in the night by this traitor to his retreat, and the house was quietly surrounded. Rory caught the alarm, and seeing no escape as he believed, he rushed into Harrington’s apartment and “hacked and hewed him so that Sidney saw his brains moving when his wounds were being dressed.” He would have killed Harrington but for the darkness. The military also rushed in, but the furious outlaw chief dived between a soldier’s legs, and laying about him with this trusty sword, cleft his way out and escaped with four others, all practically naked. His wife and the rest of the household were all killed. Not yet was he crushed, but the end was near. He gathered a fresh force, and now showed a daring amounting to rashness, a fearlessness that was probably actuated by carelessness whether he lived or died. It led to his undoing. At the head of only a small band of followers, he encountered on the 30th June, 1578, the Baron of Upper Ossory, Barnaby MacGillapatrick, who had been given charge of King’s and Queen’s Counties by Sidney. It is stated that Rory was trying to entrap the Baron into his hands. Anyhow, Brian Oge MacGillapatrick, the son of the baron, rushed at him, and, taking him unawares, thrust a sword into his heart. After his death his followers resisted fiercely, although outnumbered, and carried away his body; but his head was sent to Sidney later, and it was spiked on Dublin Castle. So ended the career of him ho is described by the Four Masters as “the head of the plunderers and insurgents of the men of Ireland in his time.”

        He left two sons named Owen, or Owney, and Brian, whom his friend and ally, John Burke, son of the Earl of Clanrickard, sheltered and brought up. When old enough Owney and Brian followed in their father’s footsteps. Fighting under the great Hugh O’Neill’s banner, they recovered almost all Leix. Owney further helped to avenge Mullaghmast for in 1597, he slew, in fair fight, Alexander and Francis Cosby, son and grandson of the chief planner of the butchery in the rath, and completely routed their forces. Brian defeated Ormond’s relative, James Butler, near Maryborough in 1598; and the following year Owney cut to pieces 500 of the Viceroy’s cavalry in a defile ever since called the Pass of Plumes, on account of the number of English helmet plumes that remained strewn about after the battle. Owney was slain in a skirmish at Timahoe, in his native county, 1600, and the importance of the O’Mores as a sept died with him.

        Nearly half a century later another Rory or Roger O’More achieved renown as the chief organizer of the great rising or Confederate War of 1641-1652. It is, apparently, to this last-mentioned Rory O’More that popular tradition chiefly clings, but very likely he has been to some extent confused in the popular mind with our Rory Oge, and to the latter is rightly due a part of his glory. And we may assume it was the intrepid Rory Oge of our sketch whom Sir Charles Gaven Duffy had in mind when he chose an effective name for the hero of his spirited balled “The Irish Rapparees” dealing, though he was, with the rapparees of more than a century later:

Who dare say no to Rory Oge, with all his Rapparees?

    "After Ui Falghi of the ancient lands
We advance to Leix of Leinster,
Its brown-haired heroes in wealth abound,
On their history for some time we dwell.
“The great district of Leix of keen swords,
It is of Leix of Raida, I now treat,
And O’More the fighter of battles,
Of the one-colored Golden shield.”
by O’Herrin

 


        The O’Mores, princes of Leix, were of the Irian race, or Clanna Rory of Ulster, descended from Ir, the fifth son of King Milas of Gaelic Spain. They held the high rank of marshals and treasures of Leinster since the second century A.D. they had their chief fortress at Dunamase, a few miles from Maryborough, erected on a rock situated on a hill; it was a place of almost impregnable strength, of which some massive ruins still remain. Rory Oge O’More, a celebrated chieftain in the reigns of Queen Mary and Elizabeth, defeated the English forces in many engagements, and recovered the territory of Leix, possessed by his ancestors, which he held till his death in 1578, when he was killed in a conflict with Fitzpatrick, Baron of Ossory, who had joined forces with the English. Amongst the heroic actions of Rory Oge O’More, it is mentioned that on one occasion, having been betrayed and surprised at night at his residence in the woods by Robert Hartpole, at the head of two hundred of the English, the valiant O’More alone performed the amazing exploit of cutting his way through their ranks with his sword, and escaped in safety.
 

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