Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth

Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth - Impact in Ireland

Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh was a prime example of the thinking at that time. In County Kerry, just over 700 Spaniards and Italians came to assist the Irish were massacred by a young Raleigh and he was rewarded with over 40,000 acres of land.

Sorley MacDonnell, chief of the MacDonnells in Antrim remained at conflict not only with the English, but also with some Gaelic Chieftains. He did defeat the English at Carrickfergus Castle in 1552, but was then captured by Shane O'Neill in 1565, but still managed to arrange O'Neill's defeat and ultimate death two years later.
Having watched his family slaughtered at Rathlin Island, he did take control of the North Coast of Ireland, and took his seat at Dunluce Castle. He did eventually agree a form of truce with the English in 1587 and was succeeded by his son Randal, who was then made Earl of Antrim by the English.

In 1585, the Earl of Tyrone was a man called Hugh O'Neill who had been educated in England. He had also built up some strong alliances with some Gaelic families in Ulster.  When Shane O'Neill died Hugh then became chief of his clan and attacked the Blackwater Fort and captured it. He also defeated Sir John Norris at Clontibret and in 1598, with Red Hugh O'Donnell who he had helped escape he killed Sir Henry Bagenal at the Battle of Yellow Ford in Armagh.

Elizabeth sent the Second Earl of Essex along with 20,000 troops but so annoyed was she at his failure, she had him return, tried him for treason and executed him. The Earl had been told to build garrisons at Lough Foyle and Ballyshannon and to get rid of the Earl of Tyrone.

He dallied and failed miserably on all counts, managing only to capture one castle which he could not hold.  She then sent a more ruthless man called Charles Blount and better known as Lord Mountjoy.  He was a strategist with a large army that obliterated everything and anything that stood before them. He teamed up with Sir George Carew the President of Munster who had a heavy dislike for the Irish.

O'Donnell was fighting the English at Derry and was joined by O'Neill from Munster and then in September 1600, the long awaited help arrived from the Spanish who landed at Kinsale in County Cork. They were instantly confronted by Mountjoy's men and then O'Donnell and O'Neill marched south to help the Spanish.

The battle of Kinsale was both brief and bloody and the Irish were defeated. Red Hugh fled Ireland along with the surviving Spanish and O'Neill returned to Ulster, his beaten army in tatters. Ulster was now there for the taking with the last major Chieftains defeated. It was this moment that confined the old Gaelic order to the annals of history.

From this it can be seen that the reign of Elizabeth I in Ireland was clearly significant and I would recommend that you next read about something that is often misunderstood in Irish History, known as the Irish History Flight of Earls.