Hardiman's History of Galway

Chapter 5: From 1641 to the restoration of Charles II in 1660

The fort besieged, taken and demolished

Chapter 5

From 1641 to the restoration of Charles II in 1660

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Old map of Galway

The disputes between the town and fort still continued unabated. The gates remained closed, and all intercourse was stopped. Willoughby, having seized some of the inhabitants, caused William Lynch, a freeman, to be executed on board one of the ships in the harbour, and kept one Geoffry Lynch under sentence of death in the fort; while the town forces, on the other side, killed several of his soldiers. Both parties at length appealed to the earl of Clanricarde. Willoughby offered to sign such propositions, for the safety of the town and accomodation of all matters, as they should require; and they accordingly proposed to throw open the east gate, and allow free traffic, on condition that he and all others resident in the fort, should take an oath to be true and faithful to the king, and admit none to the fort, or under its protection, or within the reach of their cannon, that adhered, to the parliament of England, in opposition to the king; that they should not molest the town, or any member thereof, by sea or land; that they should restore all prisoners, goods and chattels taken since the last pacification, and particularly the ship seized by the pinnace, or its value: and towards the conclusion of these conditions and proposals, which were presented to lord Clanricarde by Sir Richard Blake and Patrick D'Arcy, they "humbly intreat his lordship to take the present condition of this town into his serious consideration, and beseech him not to forget his ancestors love to it, and their hereditary and never interrupted zeal and propension to love, honour and serve him and his family; and, after a sad contemplation of their representations unto him that he may please to take that resolution thereupon that may be suitable to his favour, piety, honour and justice, and that he may be sure this town, in all fortunes, will continue the affection, obedience and respect it owes him." - Notwithstanding all their endeavours, this treaty ended in nothing, owing to the insincerity and delays of Willoughby. Even while it was depending, his soldiers made two sallies into the country; killing, in the first, by their own confession, a dozen of poor innocent people, men, women and children; and, in the other, pillaging all the remains of Sir Richard Blake's stock at Ardfry. But what most of all evinced the real principles and intentions of the inhabitants of the fort, was the conduct of captain Constable, commander of one of the ships that came to assist it. This man, standing on the rampart of the fort next the town, called with a loud voice twice over to the townsmen on the walls, "A new king, you rogues and traitors; your king is run away, you shall have a new king shortly, you rogues." From all these and other circumstances it was at length concluded that the fort was no longer in his majesty's obedience, but entirely at the disposal of the parliament.

At this crisis, colonel John Burke arrived in Galway, where he was joyfully received, having been some time before appointed lieutenant-general of Connaught by the general assembly of Catholics which met at Kilkenny on the 24th of October, 1642. Colonel Burke was born in the county of Mayo: he was a man of great prudence and discretion, a brave experienced soldier, (having served upwards of thirty years in the service of Spain,) and high in the confidence of the town and country. He at first endeavoured to keep a fair correspondence with the fort, offered to open the gates; have the benefit of markets and free intercourse between it and the town, provided they contained themselves within bounds, were obedient to the directions of lord Clanricarde, desisting from spoiling, burning or plundering the country, killing or taking the town's-men prisoners, or relieving or aiding the puritans that daily come in ships unto them, and who were the king's declared enemies. These amicable propositions being all rejected by Willoughby, and the castle of Clare-Galway having, on the 28th of February, 1643, through the contrivance of Jonakin Lynch, the earl of Clanricarde's tenants there, the carelessness of the warders, and the management of a Franciscan friar, been surprised by captain Thomas Burke, of Anbally, the acquisition or such a place of such strength and importance at once determined their future proceedings. Colonel Burke declared against the fort, and called upon the several gentlemen of the country to levy forces for the purpose of besieging it. Accordingly, in April, 1643, Francis and John Bermingham, son and grand-son of lord Athenry, Sir Ulick Burke, Hubert Burke of Dunamon, Redmond, Rickard and Thomas Burke of Kilcornan, Derrymacloghny and Anbally, the three Teige Kellys of Gallagh, Aughrim and Mullaghmore, Sir Valentine Blake, Sir Roebuck Lynch, and other principal gentlemen of the county, took up arms, and marched with considerable strength towards Galway. Colonel Burke put himself at their head, and about the latter end of that month began to inclose the fort at a distance, and fortify some passages towards the sea, to hinder any relief from that quarter. He invested it with upwards of a thousand men, and posted a body of troops at Clare-Galway and Athenry, to prevent any movement which might be attempted by lord Clanricarde. Provisions becoming scarce in the fort, captain Willoughby who, on his part, was not inactive, dispatched a party of fifty men to make booty in Iar-Connaught: they were discovered by the town, who sent some companies to lie between them and their boats, and most of them were cut off. In the beginning of May the siege was pushed on with vigor; the town undertaking to defray the expense, and supply the forces which were drawn out of the country and the county of Mayo for that purpose. Two bulwarks and batteries were erected; one on the point of St. Mary's church in the west, called Rintinane; and the other on the opposite point of Rinmore; and a chain was drawn across the harbour to hinder access by the sea. Lord Clanricarde was unable to afford any relief.

Rear-admiral Brooke, in the ship Providence, arrived in the bay in the beginning of June, with provisions and arms for the fort; but the batteries on the points of Rinmore and Rintinane hindered him from approaching. He endeavoured in the night to throw in supplies, but his long boats, being met by those of the town, were forced to retire. Captain Willoughby, being thus disappointed of succour, desired permission from colonel Burke to deliver the fort to lord Clanricarde; but this, in the moment of success, he refused to agree to, on any other terms than that his lordship should take the oath of union or association, and not dispose of the place without the consent of the several persons under-named.[l] These terms the earl, with that consistency and loyalty which always marked his proceedings and character, totally rejected. Willoughby was then forced to treat for a surrender to the confederates. Articles having been accordingly agreed upon and signed, [m] he surrendered that important fortress on the 20th of June, and also the castle of Oranmore, without the knowledge or consent of lord Clanricarde. The time of the surrender happened fortunately for the confederates; for on the following day, three large ships arrived in the bay with assistance. Captain Willoughby and his men embarked on Sunday, the 25th June, in the Bonaventure, commanded by vice-admiral Swanlea, the Providence, commanded by rear-admiral Brooke, two pinnaces and a barque sent them by the town; [n] thus leaving, by his misconduct, the second fort of importance in the kingdom in the hands of the confederate forces, who soon after caused it to be demolished, by order of the supreme council.

The town declares in favour of the Irish, and against the parliament

The rejoicings in Galway, on the surrender and demolition of the fort, were excessive; public prayers and thanksgiving were offered up for this signal event and happy deliverance from its troublesome and dangerous neighbour. On the 6th of August they threw open their gates to the Irish, and immediately after raised three hundred pounds to enable them to lay siege to Castle-Coote, in the county of Roscommon, which, with lord Clanricarde's towns of loughrea and Portumna, were the only places of strength that held out in the province.

Several fortifications built

Although the town was thus freed from exterior annoyance, the inhabitants wisely foresaw, from the unsettled and turbulent state of the times,- that many serious troubles were likely to follow. They, therefore, resolved to be prepared against any future hostile attempts which might be made, and, accordingly, before the end of the year 1643, finished the east and south-east rampart, beginning at the great bulwark of the east gate, and extending from thence round to the little bridge which led to St. Augustine's abbey, together with the wall commencing at the works erected in the mayoralty of William Martin, and leading from thence, in a south-east direction, to the point of Cean-na-bhalla, at the quay. For some years after this period several considerable additions were made to the fortifications. In 1645 the strong bulwark about Lyons-tower was built as well to protect the abbey of St. Francis as to guard the little gate. The flanker about the new tower, and also that adjoining Lyons-tower, with the wall and ramparts, were completed in 1647, under the superintendence of the mayor and Walter Joes, for the defence of the town walls, and of the shipping in the pool. These works were soon after furnished with twelve heavy pieces of cannon, consisting of four brass and four iron of twelve, and four iron of eighteen pound ball, which were purchased in France by the direction of the corporation, and brought over by Francis D'Arcy. The gates were all repaired, and the new flanker outside the east gate was built in 1649. The following year the rampart and bastions, from thence to Kirwan's tower, were completed, which finished the line of fortifications round the town, and rendered it, particularly for defence, the most considerable in the kingdom.

The affairs of the confederates proceeded prosperously in Connaught, until the defeat and slaughter by Sir Charles Coote, of the titular archbishop of Tuam in 1645, in his attempt to recover Sligo. The important consequences which followed this event, particularly that attending the discovery, among the archbishop's papers, of an authentic copy of the famous private treaty between Charles I. and the earl of Glamorgan, are fully detailed in all the histories of this period; but the subjoined dispatch, from the abbot of Kilmannock to the warden of Galway, contains a more satisfactory account of the affair itself than is elsewhere to be found. [o] During all the vicissitudes of these unhappy times, the town steadily adhered to its original declaration of allegience to the king, which it embraced every opportunity of publicly testifying. An offensive publication, intitled "Dis putatio apologetica de jure regni, &c." was about this time written and published by Connor O'Mahony, an Irish Jesuit, at Lisbon: its principal intention was to recommend the separation of Ireland from England, and to stimulate the descendants of the old Irish to choose a king of their own nation, and throw off the English yoke. This book was condemned by the supreme council at Kilkenny [p] and ordered to be burned; but the mayor, sheriffs, burgesses and commonalty of Galway previously assembled on the subject, and published a declaration, expressing their abhorrence of these pernicious doctrines. This document, which contains a manifestation of their then principles, is, for its curious import and singularity of expression, laid before the reader. [q] About the same time the corporation farmed, from the commissioners-general of Connaught, for two thousand four hundred pounds, the excise, thirds and rents arising out of the town and county, for they ear ending the 1st May, of 1648: the principal part of the money was immediately advanced, and the remainder stipulated to be paid within a few months. Trade seemed on the increase; and the town, amidst the grievous troubles which agitated the remainder of the kingdom, enjoyed for a while a reasonable portion of peace and security.

Tumults in the town, occasioned by the pope's nuncio on the question of the cessation

The assembly at Kilkenny having found it necessary to conclude a cessation of arms with lord Inchiquin, president of Munster, Rinuncini, the Pope's nuncio, immediately published a declaration against it. From this the assembly appealed, and was supported by a great body of the clergy of the kingdom, together with the army under the command of the marquis of Clanricarde, lord Taaffe and general Preston. In vain the nuncio fulminated his excommunications; his measures and party fell into discredit. In this dilemma he sought refuge in Galway, where he had some abettors, particularly the warden and others, whom his presence and exhortations stimulated to open acts of violence and commotion. The mayor was desirous to proclaim the cessation, but was prevented by the populace, who forced their way into his house, and wrestled the ensigns of authority from his hands; but this insolence occasioned such a tumult, that, had they not been immediately restored by the very hand that took them. the consequences would have been lamentable; and, even as it was, two or three men were killed. The carmelite friars, shewing some resistance against this proud ecclestiastic, their dwelling was assaulted by night, and their persons abused. In a fit of rage he ordered their bell to be pulled down, and placed two priests at the entry to their chapel, to keep the people from resorting there to prayers. Those who favoured the cessation were declared under censure; the churches were closed, and all divine offices interdicted. In this state was the town, when the archbishop of Tuam, who declared against these measures, arrived. Having desired to see the nuncio's power for assuming such authority, he refused to produce it, whereupon the prelate told him to his face that he would not obey: "Ego," answered the nuncio, "non ostendam:" "et Ego," replied the archbishop, "non obediar ;" and he immediately after caused the church doors to be opened by force. The nuncio, finding himself thus opposed, summoned a synod to meet in Galway on the 15th of August; but the council forbidding the clergy to attend, and ordering all civil and military officers to stop their passage, they were unable to meet. Lord Clanricarde having been, in the mean time, reinforced by Inchiquin, laid siege to the town on the 14th of August, and, hindering all access of provisions by land or water, the promoters of those violent proceedings, unprepared for a siege, were forced, about the 4th of September following, to surrender. They were then put under articles to proclaim the cessation, pay a considerable sum of money, and renounce the nuncio, who, thus finding all his measures frustrated, took shipping at Galway, on the 23d of February following, and departed from the kingdom.

The town advances money to the state

The English and Irish armies being now united, under the command of the marquis of Ormonde, Galway advanced him five thousand pounds [r] on the security of the customs of the town, in aid of his intended campaign against the parliamentary forces. Upon this occasion his lordship knighted Walter Blake, the mayor.

Next: Grateful acknowledgements of Charles II

Chapter 5

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