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Battle of Knockdoe
Date August 19, 1504
Location Knockdoe, Lackagh, Galway, Ireland
Result Anglo-Irish magnates fight one of Ireland's largest battles
Belligerents
The Clanricarde, Ó Brian and MacNamara of Thomond, Ó Carroll of Ely, Ó Kennedy of Ormond, Mac I Briens of Aran, plus several Gallowglass units. Earl of Kildare, Ó Donnell of Tír Conaill, O Connor Roe MacDermot of
Commanders
Ulick Fionn Burke of Clanricarde Garret Mor FitzGerarld, 8th Earl of Kildare
Strength
c.4,000 c.6,000
Casualties and losses
c.1,500 c. 1,000?

The Battle of Knockdoe (Irish: Cath Chnoc Tua) was a conflict between the Hiberno-Norman de Burgh and, at the time, Anglo-Norman Fitzgerald families, along with their respective Irish allies. On the 19th of August in the year 1504, the Parish of Lackagh was the centre of one of the bloodiest conflicts in Irish history. It is also known as the "Battle of Axe Hill".

Local folklore would have it as a dispute between O'Kelly, Chief of Hymany (Ui Maine) and Ulick Burke, Earl of Clanrickarde and Claregalway Castle.

Annalists and historians are claiming that there was no love lost between Ulick Burke of Clanrickarde and the King's Deputy, Gerald Fitzgerald (Gearóid Mór), the Earl of Kildare. Ulick Finn, as Burke was known locally, was an aggressive and turbulent Galway Chief. He had become Chief of Clanrickarde in the year 1485. He sought to establish his authority over all Connacht, including County Mayo, where the other branch of the great De Burgo family held power. Although both families were of Norman stock, the western de Burghs (or Burkes) were considered Irish or Gaelic, whereas the Fitzgeralds, of the Pale, are outspokenly English.

Gerald Fitzgerald became alarmed that Ulick Burke's challenge for supremacy in Connacht could in effect become a threat to his position as a ruler of Gaelic Ireland as a whole. He attempted to persuade Ulick to acknowledge his authority by giving him his daughter Estacia in marriage. But Ulick Burke resisted all attempts to have his tenantry and power absorbed by the Earl of Kildare. Instead, he formed an alliance with O'Brien of Thomond and the Chiefs of Munster. On the other hand the Burkes of Mayo joined forces with Kildare and looked forward to suppressing their over ambitious neighbour.

The Battle of Knockdoe

Loud blares the trumpet, the field is set. Loud blares the trumpet, the foe men are met. Steep slopes the hill, at Knockdoe in the West. There stood in Battle, the South at its best. Hi Manny O'Kelly, with the Burkes is at War, and Clanrickard has gathered his friends from afar. Kildare he advances like the fox that doth stalk, O'Kelly sweeps down with the speed of a hawk. Loud sounds the trumpet, the sunset is fair. Hi Manny triumphant. The Earl of Kildare.

(Local Folklore has it that the above poem was found in the pocket of a slain soldier.)

To add insult to injury, in 1503, Ulick Burke attacked and destroyed the Castles of O'Kelly, Lord of Hymany, at Monivea, Garbally and Castleblakeney. Furthermore, Burke was living in open adultery with the wife of O'Kelly. "The Four Masters" tells us that O'Kelly complained of these outrages to the Lord Deputy Gearóid the 8th Earl of Kildare. According to them his complaint occasioned the memorable "Battle of Cnoc Tuagh" (Knockdoe) fought in the Barony in 1504.

The Book of Howth states that the Battle of Knockdoe was the result of a private quarrel between the Lord Deputy, Gearóid Mór Fitzgerald and De Burgo (Ulick). One of Fitzgerald's daughters had married Ulick Burke, whom as Fitzgerald would claim, went on to mistreat her.[1]

By all accounts the Lord Deputy was only too eager to help O'Kelly to weaken the prestige of Clanrickarde. Both sides gathered to their aid as many of the Irish Chiefs as they could persuade or force. Included in this army that marched westwards were not only the Gaeil and Gaill of Leinster but also contingents from the leading families of Ulster - Aodh Ruadh, leader of the O'Donnell's, Art O'Neill, the McDermott's and Morrisroe's of Connacht and of course the O'Kelly's.

Ranged against them were the forces of Burke and his Allies - the O'Brien's of Thomond as well as the McNamara's, the O'Kennedy's and the O'Carroll's.

Heavily armed Gallowglass played a large part on both sides. This was the situation on 19 August 1504, as the greatest armies of Civil War in Ireland faced each other on the slopes of Knockdoe almost a mile to the North of Lackagh Parish Church.

All day the Battle raged with over 5000 men being killed. History holds that the greatest slaughter took place along the River Clare in the town land of Ballybrone (Baile Broin or Baile Uí Bhrion).

The Lord Deputy, though victorious, had many among the slain. His army remained the night on the field as a token of their victory. Next day Kildare marched on to Galway looting Claregalway castle en route and taking as prisoners the two sons and daughter of Ulick Burke. They remained in Galway for a few days and departed to Athenry, which they captured.

After the Battle, the Burke's of Clanrickarde faded into obscurity for some decades. Their rival, the Mayo Burke's, reaped the spoils for a short time afterwards.

The Battle of Knockdoe is wrongly said to have been the first occasion in Irish History when Gun Powder was used. One cannon ball and some muskets were found on the East side of the hill. Round the summit of Knockdoe are many cairns (Burial mounds) where the slaughtered are said to have been buried.

Tradition points to one as the final resting place of the two sons of O'Brien of Thomond.

References

Lackagh village website

  1. ^ McCullough, David Willis. Wars of the Irish Kings. The Book of Howth; The Battle of Knockdoe/The Battle of Axe Hill. Pg.239-244. Retrieved August 10, 2008.

See also

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Battle of Knockdoe
Date 19 August 1504
Location Knockdoe, Lackagh, Galway, Ireland
Result Earl of Kildare victorious
Belligerents
The Clanricarde, Ó Brian and MacNamara of Thomond, Ó Carroll of Ely, Ó Kennedy of Ormond, Mac I Briens of Aran, plus several Gallowglass units. Earl of Kildare, Ó Donnell of Tír Conaill, O Connor Roe MacDermot of
Commanders and leaders
Ulick Fionn Burke of Clanricarde Garret Mor FitzGerarld, 8th Earl of Kildare
Strength
c.4,000 c.6,000
Casualties and losses
c.1,500 c. 1,000?

The Battle of Knockdoe was a conflict between the Hiberno-Norman de Burghs (Burkes) and Anglo-Norman Fitzgeralds, along with their respective Irish allies. On the 19th of August 1504, the Parish of Lackagh (Irish Leacach) was the site of what appears to have been an unusually bloody conflict, arising from a dispute between Maelsechlainn mac Tadhg Ó Cellaigh (Mod. Irish Maoilseachlainn mac Thaidhg Uí Cheallaigh), lord of Hymanny (Ui Maine - Mod. Irish Uí Mháine) [1] and Ulick Burke (Uilleag de Búrca), the Clanricarde.

Contents

Background

Ulick Finn (Uilleag Fionn or Fair Ulick), as Burke was known locally, was an aggressive local magnate. He had become Chief of Clanrickarde in the year 1485, and sought to establish his authority over all Connacht, including County Mayo, where the other branch of the great De Burgo (Burke) family held power. Although both families were of Norman stock, the western de Burghs (or Burkes) were integrated into the Gaelic world, whereas the Fitzgeralds of the Pale, though Gaelicised, retained cultural, social and political links to England.

The King's Deputy, Gerald Fitzgerald (Gearóid Mór), Earl of Kildare, became concerned that Ulick Burke's attempt at supremacy in Connacht could threaten his claim to be the paramount magnate in Ireland. He tried to persuade Ulick to acknowledge his authority by giving him his daughter Estacia in marriage. But Ulick Burke resisted all attempts to have his tenantry and power absorbed by the Earl of Kildare, forming an alliance with O'Brien of Thomond and the magnates of Munster.

The Burkes of Mayo, on the other hand, joined forces with Kildare with a view to suppressing their dangerous neighbour.

The Battle of Knockdoe

Loud blares the trumpet, the field is set. Loud blares the trumpet, the foe men are met. Steep slopes the hill, at Knockdoe in the West. There stood in Battle, the South at its best. Hi Manny O'Kelly, with the Burkes is at War, and Clanrickard has gathered his friends from afar. Kildare he advances like the fox that doth stalk, O'Kelly sweeps down with the speed of a hawk. Loud sounds the trumpet, the sunset is fair. Hi Manny triumphant. The Earl of Kildare.

(Local folklore has it that the above poem was found in the pocket of a slain soldier.)

Personal reasons

In 1503 Ulick Burke attacked and destroyed the castles of O'Kelly, Lord of Hymany, at Monivea (Muine Mheá), Garbally (Gallach) and Castleblakeney (Garbhdhoire). The Irish sources attest that O'Kelly complained of this to the Lord Deputy.[2] Burke appears to have also taken up with O'Kelly's wife, and there may have been ill-feeling between the Lord Deputy and Burke because of the latter's treatment of Gearóid Mór's daughter.[3]

The battle

It appears that for political (and possibly for personal) reasons the Lord Deputy was eager to help O'Kelly weaken the prestige of Clanrickarde. Both sides gathered to their side a large contingent of lesser magnates and their armies. The Lord Deputy's forces included contingents from Leinster, Ulster and Connacht, among which were the armies of Red Hugh O'Donnell (Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill) and Art Ó Néill, the McDermotts and Morrisroes of Connacht and a contingent provided by O'Kelly. Facing them were the forces of Burke and his allies - the O'Briens of Thomond, the McNamaras, the O'Kennedys and the O'Carrolls.[4]

The armies met on the slopes of Knockdoe, almost a mile to the north of Lackagh Parish Church, with heavily armed Gallowglass playing a large part on both sides. The battle appears to have lasted all day, with the heaviest fighting (according to tradition) taking place along the River Clare in the townland of Ballybrone (Baile Bhróin). The precise number of casualties is unknown, though contemporary observers, as evidenced in later chronicles, were impressed by the extent of the slaughter.[5] Round the summit of Knockdoe are many cairns (burial mounds) where, by tradition, the dead are said to have been buried, with one in particular being pointed out as the resting place of the two sons of O'Brien of Thomond.

The Lord Deputy, though victorious, had many among the slain. His army remained the night on the field as a token of victory, then marched to Galway, looting Claregalway castle en route and taking as prisoners the two sons and daughter of Ulick Burke. They remained in Galway for a few days and departed to Athenry, which they captured.[6]

The Clanrickarde Burkes faded into obscurity for some decades, with their rivals, the Mayo Burkes, gaining influence as a consequence.

It is said that firearms were employed in the course of the battle, an early instance of their use in Ireland.

Books

  • McCollough, David W. (ed.), 2000. Wars of the Irish Kings: A Thousand Years of Struggle, from the Age of Myth through the Reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 9781402895623

See also

References

  1. ^ http://celt.ucc.ie/published/G105007/text001.html
  2. ^ Annals of the Four Masters, M1504.13: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/G100005D/index.html
  3. ^ McCullough (ed.), Wars of the Irish Kings, pp. 239-244.
  4. ^ A comprehensive list of the magnates involved can be found in Annals of the Four Masters, M1504.14: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/G100005D/index.html
  5. ^ The Four Masters provide an impressionistic but striking account of the aftermath: M1504.14: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/G100005D/index.html
  6. ^ ibid.

External links


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