Hardiman's History of Galway

Chapter 4: From 1484 to the commencement of the Irish Rebellion in 1641

Saint Augustine's fort built, 1603

Chapter 4

From 1484 to the commencement of the Irish Rebellion in 1641

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Old map of Galway

The building of these extensive works of defence was carried on with vigor. On the 10th of August, 1602, the lord deputy informed Mr. Secretary Cecil, that the fortifications of Galway were almost finished, and that it would be needful for the place to have four demi-canons and four whole culverins, which he thought would make it of very great use against the Spaniards, if they should happen to land there, as he suspected, and that for this and other similar works it would be necessary to have some great ordnance. [uu] On the 18th of November following his lordship set out on his journey for Connaught, his principal design being, "to view the town of Galway, and to consider how the descent of foreign enemies might best be prevented." - He kept Christmas in the town; and, judging it a place of great importance to be preserved from being possessed by any foreign enemy he gave directions to finish the fort, which, from its situation, would so effectually command the haven, and defend the town from foreign invasion. While he remained, the O'Flaherties of Iar-Connaught, the Mac Dermotts of the Courlews, O. Connor Roe, and many others, came in and submitted.

James I was proclaimed here in April, 1603. Upon the accession of this monarch, the Irish, supposing him a Catholic, entertained hopes that their ancient religion would be no longer proscribed, and accordingly the principal cities and towns of the kingdom immediately declared for the open and uncontrolled confession of faith. The lord deputy made every exertion to suppress this rising spirit, and finally succeeded in putting it down. He issued particular orders to that effect to the magistrates of Galway, which were punctually attended to; and he was soon after informed by the mayor, "that howsoever he found no seditious inclination in the citizens,[xx] yet, to prevent disorders in these mutinous times, the governor of the fort had given him some of his soldiers to assist his authority, whom he to that purpose had placed in the strongest castles of the city."

The fort being at length finished, Sir Thomas Rotherham, knight, was appointed governor, on 28th May, 1603. His patent recites that the king, as well for the punishment and reformation of his evil subjects, as for the defence of his good and loyal ones residing in the town of Galway, and St. Augustine's fort, near adjoining, thought it very necessary that some meet person should be appointed commander of the said fort, and of all such companies thereof, horse and foot, as were then, or should thereafter be sent to reside there; and, having conceived a good opinion of his valor, wisdom, and provident circumspection for the managing of causes of like effect and moment, appointed him commander of said foot and forces, with the rule and government of all persons residing in or repairing to the bounds and circuits of his said command, as well within liberties as without, of the town and harbour of Galway. [yy] Sir Thomas appears to have merited the high encomium contained in his patent: he governed the fort with unimpeachable conduct for a period of thirty-three years,[zz] and was elected mayor of Galway in 1612, being the only instance in which that office was filled by any except a native of the town, or of its ancient names or families, for upwards of one hundred and seventy years.

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