Ireland was ruled by a Scottish King
During the early years of King John's reign (he was the
son of King Henry) trouble was widespread throughout Ireland.
In the end he decided that there was nothing for it but
to go to this troublesome country himself and straighten
things out. He gathered a strong army and headed for Cook
in Co Waterford in May 1210. When he landed he made sure
that his men with colours flying and in full battle order
made an impression on the people of Waterford.
This, he hoped would let the Irish see the power of his
forces and how little use there would be in opposing them.
From the beginning things quietened down and it appeared
as if his plan was working. Satisfied that he had made the
impression that he had intended he now turned his attention
to reorganising the administration of government. He divided
these parts of Ireland under English rule into twelve counties.
These were Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Louth, Carlow, Wexford,
Kilkenny, Waterford, Cork Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary.
Two months later John returned to England and things remained
quiet in Ireland for the rest of his reign. When John died
in 1216, trouble again arose throughout the country involving
both Irish and Norman chiefs. Havoc and ruin again embraced
the country as chiefs the banner of the Scottish King, Robert
Bruce, The King of England at this time was Edward II and
he had assembled a great army to move north and finish the
Scottish throne in England's side for all time. Edward headed
into the Border country and after a few slight skirmishes
found the going easy enough. Then he came to the heather
covered glen of Bannockburn in the years 1314 and his army
came to an abrupt halt.
At first sight the glen looked deserted an uncanny silence
filled the air. The Army moved forward a short distance
when suddenly the ground appeared to have opened and thousands
of Scottish clansmen appeared to rise out of the ground
or the heather, their steel flashing in the sunshine. Then
they were in among the British with silver sabres and swords
now turning red with blood.
The battle was fierce while it lasted with no quarter asked
or given. Although retreating slowly and having been taken
by surprise the British were putting up a brave fight. Then
a fresh burst of cheering came from the Scottish troops
and they started waiving toward the slope behind them and
to the horror of the English forces they saw thousands of
Scottish sweeping down into the valley.
Realising that they were hopelessly outnumbered the retreat
was sounded and the British began to withdraw from the fight.
This was the occasion in the song 'The Flower of Scotland'
when the lines 'We brought a halt to brave Edwards army
and sent him homewards to think again'. The story goes that
most of the Scottish coming down the hill were not real
reinforcement but a lot of army followers who were coming
to see what they could get from the dead of both sides after
Now we return to the state of affairs in our own country.
When they heard of the great victory of Robert Bruce over
the English at Bannockburn some Ulster chieftains sent messengers
to him asking him to send his brother Edward, to be King
Edward Bruce, who had a reputation of being a cruel and
unforgiving man, was only too willing to take up the offer
and landed at Larne on May 25, 1315, with an army of 6,000
soldiers. Some of the Ulster chiefs joined him and they
moved south destroying all before them. Edward Bruce's orders
were simple, the army to take what they needed, everything
else to be burned. This order was strictly adhered to and
as a result they burned Dundalk and Ardee in County Louth,
setting fire to the Carmelite monastery in Ardee despite
that they were after being told that a large number of people
had taken refuge there. They were all burned to death.
From the word go the campaign had been carried on with great
cruelty regards killing innocent people and burning their
homes, often fastening them inside before setting the place
One of the most powerful Anglo-Irish noblemen of the time
was Richard de Burgo, known as the Red of Ulster and part
of Connacht. He now organised a large army and set out at
their head to attack the invaders.
There was little difference in the tactics in the progress
of the two armies. De Burgo had ordered his forces to do
the same as Bruce, destroyed everything in their path because
a lot of the Irish were supporting the Scottish leader.
When his army eventually met up with Bruce at Connor, near
Ballymena, the Scots had a resounding victory, and De Burgo
was lucky to get away and flee for his life back to Connacht.
Having had further victories at Kells and Ardscull in Leinster
Bruce then returned to Dundalk where he had himself crowned
King of Ireland at Faughart on May 1, 1316.
The Irish chieftains continued to do battle among themselves
and Felim O'Connor of Connacht raised a large army and made
an effort to drive all the Norman lords out of Ireland.
He met the forces of De Burgo and Richard Bermingham at
Athenry in 1316. Not alone was he badly beaten but he was
killed in the battle.
Over 11,000 of his forces were left dead on the field including
almost all the nobility of the province.
In 1317 King Robert Bruce joined his brother in Ireland
and together they marched on Dublin again destroying everything
in their path. They camped at Castleknock, just outside
Dublin, before attacking the city. Dublin had been a peaceful
city for the past number of years and the city walls and
other defensive positions were in bad repair. Yet the authorities
decided to do all they could to defend the city.
Anything that might hinder the defence was removed, gaps
were filled and the bridge over the Liffey was also removed.
The Mayor ordered that the straggling suburbs be burned
down. The fire got out of control and four-fifths of the
suburbs and a part of Christchurch Cathedral were destroyed
before it was quenched. However the plan had worked, because
the Scottish were so impressed but the determination of
the defenders that they gave up the siege.
The Scottish then moved to Limerick but were again unable
to take the city and turned northward once again. They lost
thousands of men on the march through cold, hunger and sickness.
Robert Bruce returned to Scotland but Edward remained. He
decided to go south again but was met by a strong army under
Sir John de Bermingham near Dundalk.
Instead of waiting for reinforcements he attacked and was
defeated. During the battle an Anglo-Irish knight by the
name of Sir John Maupus killed Bruce but was himself cut
down shortly after. This was the end of Scottish rule in
Ireland and was to eventually lead to a lessening of English
rule for some time.
Courtesy of Willie White and the Carlow Nationalist