« ForrigeFortsæt »
T is now one hundred and eighty-three years since
Ireland was devastated by the unfortunate war, the principal actors in which were the characters introduced in the following pages. The man dies, but his memory lives : and though they have so long ago passed away, oblivion has not covered the recollections of their time; and story, song, and tradition record the memorable events of that melancholy period in the history of our country. No man who feels proud of his native land could read the soul-stirring lines of Caledonia's gifted bard without being struck with the patriotic feelings they express :
“ Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
This is my own, my native land !
From wandering on a foreign strand !
At least this was the opinion I entertained on my return from England, where I had been educated; and therefore one of the first places I visited in my native county was that portion of it which anciently comprised the historic territory of Cineal Aodh. For me its various hallowed and long deserted ruins, like the rest of that locality, possessed pleasing, though somewhat melancholy associations. Yes,
* Land of my sires ! what mortal hand
Can e'er untie the filial band,
Therefore I resolved to ascertain all I possibly could, concerning the past history of those now silent and desolate memorials of the past. While I gazed on the ruins of Fidane Castle in particular, and pondered on the many festive scenes which had been here enacted, they recalled to my mind those beautiful and expressive lines, so suitable to the occasion :
“ Time-hallowed pile ! no more, no more
Thou hearest the hostile cannon roar;
And there, where once in rich array
Accordingly I read, searched, and collected: not, however, without being apprehensive of the great responsibility of such an undertaking; and being aware of the magnitude of the subject, I was for a long time reluctant to publish the result of my researches, principally on account of the prominent position which members of my own family occupied in this locality during the past days of tyranny and confiscation. But, on consideration, I concluded that many of the facts narrated in the following pages would be for ever lost to posterity, should any of the private and authentic MSS., which I had occasion to consult, and which I was kindly permitted to inspect, be destroyed. This was a matter which of course I naturally wished to prevent, taking as I did such a lively interest in the pathetic story of the misfortunes of the Chiefs of Cineal Aodh, whose extensive possessions were confiscated in consequence of their adherence to the great principle of religious liberty—a principle which, for venturing to maintain, England, which prides herself on being the most civilized of nations, drove one of her most, if not the most courageous and frugal of her sovereigns into exile: and from this circumstance sprung the various incidents which transpired within the period embraced in the story of 'THE IRISH CHIEFTAINS; OR, A STRUGGLE FOR THE CROWN'–1689 to 1770. It is therefore one hundred and two years since an alien and arbitrary Government unscrupulously accomplished the total ruin and subsequent extinction of one of the noblest aboriginal families of Ireland. These considerations, together with the solicita
tion of some friends who examined the MS., have induced me to lay before the public the result of my inquiries, having first abridged (as much as was consistent with the work) all that related to the Blake-Forster sept. Although I was, moreover, convinced that it was no easy matter to compile a work which treats of so many different subjects, I was, however, encouraged to persevere in the undertaking by the example of Josephus, the historian of the Fall of Jerusalem, who relates how he grew weary' and 'went on slowly,' and how many persons are induced to draw historical facts out of darkness into light, and to produce them for the benefit of the public, on account of the great importance of the facts themselves with what they have been concerned.' In conclusion, I have to thank the many friends and strangers who so kindly offered to subscribe liberally towards the publication of this work. However, I felt myself bound to refuse subscriptions, as I wrote entirely at my own suggestion, and therefore wished, when the work would be completed, to give the public an opportunity of using its own discretion with regard to my self-imposed labour. To all those friends of literature who take an interest in the history of their country, I have also to return my most sincere thanks for the valuable assistance they gave me while compiling the work. I trust that no Irishman, whatever be his creed or politics, will imagine that I wrote of this unfortunate period in the chequered history of our country, for party purposes, as no one could be more anxious than I am to have all Irishmen united, and see them live in harmony with each other, as the sons of our common Fatherland should, and following the example of two of our illustrious countrymen, the gallant Earl of Lucan, and the learned Sir Toby Butler, who, though differing widely in