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6" O'More the tough, and big Branduff,
These are my blood relations."
The ancestorial pride and inflammable composition of the old Milesians, are humorously described in this poem. The following fragment, by Hugh M'Curtin, containing a similar description, is intended for the Irish reader :
An tán théidhid rin le céim 'n á sgua̸ine az ól,
Déárfás An bráéba̸ire is bukidheártha̸ de'n g-cóip ;—
béárfáidhear an t-éitheách zán fuára̸dh dhó; A's beidh spéice áz zách Kén Aca̸ suás 'n A dhóid ; Pléusgfáid a chéile le tuárgádh stróie, 'Y is bog, réubtha bhídheás béul Acá, cluKsa̸ K's srón.
Branduff, (Brandubh,) was a victorious king of Leinster, who flourished about the close of the sixth century. From him descended the O'Byrnes of Wicklow, who, during centuries, were the terror of the colonists of Dublin. For a detailed account of the spoliation of this ancient family, see Carte's Life of Ormond. This English writer, notwithstanding all his prejudice, admits that, "This case contains in it such a scene of iniquity and cruelty, that, considered in all its circumstances, is scarce to be paralleled in the history of any age or country." The respectable family of Cabinteely, in the county of Wicklow, now represents this ancient house.
Tradition, and an old manuscript in my possession, state,
that the chairman of the feast in Maggy Laidir, was intended to represent a member of the O'Kelly family, whose ancestors formerly enjoyed considerable possessions in Leix, (see p. 115.)
of the name still remain. To this ancient family the narrative which follows, principally relates. As it is esteemed curious, and has never before been published, it is hoped that it may not prove altogether irrelevant or uninteresting.*
In the year 1579, Fergus O'Kelly of Leix, married the daughter of O'Byrne of Glenmalure, in the county of Wicklow. The young lady remained at her father's until a suitable stonewall house should be built by her husband for her reception, there being but few stone buildings at that time in the Queen's county. For this purpose O'Kelly set a number of his tenantry to work. The building was commenced on a Monday morning in spring, it was completed the Saturday following, and the bride was soon after brought home with great rejoicings. This house was then called the week house, and its ruins are now known by the name of the old stone.
It happened that on the following Michaelmas-eve, O'Kelly's lackey, Mac Leod, was from home. On his return he found that none of the goose had been reserved for him. Of this he complained to his master, who desired him to settle the matter with the cook, or go to the yard and kill a goose for himself, but not to trouble him with such trifles. Mac Leod, disappointed and dissatisfied with this answer, departed, resolving
* This narrative is taken with very little alteration in words, and none whatever in substance, from a manuscript lately found after the death of Garret Byrne, a worthy old Milesian, who resided at Fallybeg, in the Barony of Ballyadams, the scene of the principal transactions which it relates. The paper was indorsed—“A traditional, tho' certain, account of the transactions which happened in and about Logacurren and the rest of O'Kelly's ground in that neighbourhood, beginning in the 22nd of Queen Elizabeth's reign, as told by boddered Catherine Mc. James (who served seven years apprenticeship in O'Kelly's house,) to old Edmund Cowen, and by him to me; the rest by people who recollected it themselves, and I myself remember what happened from the year 1720 to this year 1780.-GARRET BYRNE."
to seek revenge. He immediately repaired to the Earl of Kildare's * castle of Kilkea, where he remained until Christmaseve, and then told the earl that his master, O'Kelly, had sent to invite his lordship to spend the Christmas with him. The invitation was accepted, and the earl set out with a numerous retinue for O’Kelly's residence. When they came to the top of Tollyhill, near the house, Mac Leod gave three loud calls or signals, as was customary with lackeys in those times. His master hearing them said, that wherever Mac Leod had been since Michaelmas, that was his voice, if he was alive. He soon after arrived and announced the earl's coming, who was received with due honor and attention. His lordship about twelfth day began to prepare for his departure, and expressed the greatest satisfaction at his kind reception, and the friendship of O'Kelly, whose hospitality, and particularly the profusion of his table, he highly praised. O'Kelly observed that it should be more plentiful had he been aware of his lordship's intention to visit him. The earl, surprised, asked if he had not sent to invite him. O'Kelly replied not, but that, notwithstanding, his lordship was welcome; and added that, as he had been pleased to remain until twelfth day on his lackey's invitation, he hoped he would honor him by remaining until candlemas on his own. To this the earl assented, but requested that, as he had so many attendants, he might be at liberty to send occasionally to Kilkea for provisions. O'Kelly answered that as soon as his lordship should find the supplies beginning
* This was Gerald the eleventh Earl of Kildare, to whom in October 1579, the custody of the north borders of the English pale was committed. The year following he was suspected of favoring the Irish, and was sent in custody to London, where he was imprisoned in the Tower ; but having acquitted himself before the queen and council, he was restored to all his estates. Then it was that he presented to the Royal Herodias of England, the head of O'Kelly.
The castle of Kilkea was situate on the river Greece, in the barony of Kilkea and Moone, county Kildare. For a view and description of this castle, see Anthologia Hibernica, iv. 241.
to fail, he might do so, but not before. Accordingly che fare increased, and the banquets became more sumptuous than
When candlemas arrived, his lordship departed with many professions of gratitude, having particularly requested that he might have the honor of standing sponsor for O'Kelly's first child, in order more closely to cement the friendship that subsisted between them. Mrs. O'Kelly was soon after delivered of a son, and his lordship attended the christening, which was celebrated with great pomp and rejoicings. The house was filled with guests, and resounded with music and merriment; but the morning after the earl's arrival, the poor young lady and her infant were both found dead. This melancholy catastrophe was attributed to the boisterous revelry and noise with which they were surrounded. O'Kelly's joy was turned into sorrow, but even this was only a prelude to still greater misfortunes.
Kildare remained for some time to console his friend, whom he invited to Kilkea until he should recover from the effects of his grief, offering him, at the same time, his sister in marriage, and profering his service in any other way which might be most agreeable or acceptable. Unfortunately for O’Kelly he accepted the invitation, and fell, an unsuspecting victim, into the snare which had been insidiously laid for him. A few days after his arrival at Kilkea, the earl took him to the top of the castle under pretence of viewing the surrounding scenery; and with the assistance of some ruffians, whom he had placed there for the purpose, he cut off O'Kelly's head. This atrocious and treacherous murder was soon communicated to the queen, as a meritorious proof of Kildare's loyalty in beheading an Irish rebel; and her majesty was so well pleased, that she directed a grant to be forthwith passed to the earl, of all O'Kelly's estates. The earl being of English descent, an Irish bard applied the following verse to this perfidious transaction :
Ha déan cománn le feár Gallda
With one of English race all friendship shun,
And such have been the aggressions which so long contributed to keep the people of these islands in a state of disunion and enmity. In former times, practices similar to that related were but too frequent in Ireland; and dreadful, though just, were the reprisals made by the natives, on the English settlers.-But to conclude -The earl of Kildare soon after demised his ill-acquired possessions in O'Kelly's lands, to his illegitimate son, Garrett Fitzgerald, at a nominal rent.* This Garrett had a son named Gerald, who was afterwards known by the name of Old Gerald, and long remembered for his atrocious cruelties. He possessed the estates for a long time, and was a great improver. He built where the old orchard now stands at Logacurren, and planted many trees, the last of which were cut down in 1740. He also made several roads, one leading to Rahinahowle, another called the Long-lane, to Timogue, and another through Barrowhouse, being part of O'Kelly's estates, and he planted many ornamental trees in each place. When making these roads he yoked a plough of bullocks, drew a strong chain round some poor widows' cabins which stood in the way, and pulled them down. He surrounded Logacurren with a broad double ditch, and planted quicks on both sides; on these works he employed Ulstermen, whom he paid in cattle, with which they
* This demise is mentioned in Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, Vol 1. p. 97.