Hardiman's History of Galway

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

Revolt of the town, and siege of the fort

Chapter 5

From 1641 to the restoration of Charles II in 1660

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Old map of Galway

In the meantime the town declared its intention to invest the fort, and made every preparation for the purpose, by raising a battery, and blocking up all the passages to it, in order to reduce it by famine. They were joined by some country gentlemen, and about thirteen or fourteen hundred men from lar-Connaught and daily expected considerable assistance from Mayo: but, on the 13th of March captain Willoughby having received intelligence that a large body of the Iar Connaught forces would, on that night, quarter in the east suburbs, he immediately set fire to all the houses in that direction, and the people within the town were vexed and mortified at beholding the entire in flames and burned to the ground. The earl of Clanricarde, whose first object was to supply the fort with provisions, dispatched about one hundred and forty carriages of wheat, malt, and several other necessaries, to his castle of Oranmore, from whence they were safely conveyed to the fort by water. He then raised what forces he could muster in the country, to the number of seven hundred foot, and near two hundred horse, and on the 2d of April arrived at Oranmore; where, finding that the two only land passages towards the fort, which were narrow, were occupied by the enemy's cannon, it was judged dangerous to attack the besiegers, particularly as they were entrenched in a craggy place, where his horse, which was the principal strength, could be of no service. He thereupon resolved to distress them by cutting off their supplies of provisions, of which they were already scarce; and with this view he placed strong garrisions in his castles of Oranmore, Clare-Galway, and Tirellan; the last of which was situate upon a neck of land commanding the river of Galway, and was committed to the charge of lieutenant Dermot O'Daly, a brave officer,[c] who, with three companies of and thirty musketeers, performed most essential services. The rest of his troops he quartered up and down the barony of Clare, upon the tenants and estates of the townsmen and their friends, and with his horse scoured the plains, hindering all resort to the market, or any supply of provisions. The effects of these prompt and vigorous measures were soon felt, and produced discontents among the people within, and their auxiliaries without. The higher classes of the inhabitants were not favourable to the violent proceedings which had taken place, and the remainder dreaded their consequences and result. Meetings were accordingly held, and it was at length resolved to propose terms of adjustment and pacification.

The fort relieved, and the town submits to the earl of Clanricarde

The earl of Clanricarde, anxious for many pressing reasons, to terminate this dangerous revolt peaceably and with expedition, entered into a cessation of arms to the end of the month. In the mean time commissioners were appointed to treat with his lordship; and on the 23d of April, Sir Dominick Browne, Richard Martin, esq., and alderman Browne, for the town, and Sir Valentine Blake and Theobald Burke for the county, presented certain propositions, many of which the earl would not at all hearken to. Several meetings were held; but before the terms could be finally adjusted, captain Ashley, in the Resolution, a ship of thirty guns, four hundred tons, and one hundred and thirty men, arrived in the bay, having on board two pieces of cannon, forty barrels of powder, thirty thousand weight of biscuit and other provisions for the fort. On receiving this seasonable supply, Willoughby, whose enmity was implacable, was, with difficulty prevented by the earl from bombarding the town. The inhabitants in dismay sent Geoffry Browne, Richard Martin, esqrs. and others to his lordship, with new, and, as they supposed, more acceptable proposals, but he now refused to listen to anything less than an absolute submission. The terms which he dictated to them were, to dismiss their garrison, send away the army from the camp, and give hostages; lay down their arms, restore all the goods taken from the English, dismount the ordnance pointed against the fort, and demolish the new bulwarks; to sell or issue out no powder, ammunition or arms, but by warrant from his lordship; to deliver all the powder and ammunition, which were then in the town, into the hands of special commissioners; and, finally, that no powder or arms should be admitted to land in the town, but be brought directly to the fort. These conditions were discussed at a public meeting of the corporation; and although considerable clamour was raised in the town, and most violent opposition given by the clergy, [f] all except the last were agreed to. But the camp before the fort becoming greatly distressed for provisions, and at length breaking up, the earl, on the 10th of May, took possession of their trenches, and poured thirty-three great shot from his heavy ordnance into the town, at the same time summoning them by a trumpet to surrender. The mayor desired time until the next day, when, after much debating, the submission was resolved upon, and signed.[g] On the following morning Geoffry Browne and John Blake, both lawyers, and Martin Skerrett and Peter D'Arcy, merchants, were sent as hostages, and on the 13th the gates were thrown open. The mayor, attended by the adlermen and several of the burgesses, attired in their robes of office, awaited the coming of the earl at the cross which divided the town and fort, and there he made his public submission, and delivered up the keys. The "young men" laid down their arms, and his lordship received the town into his majesty's protection, until his further pleasure concerning them should be known.

Violent proceedings of the governor of the fort

Thus, at a time pregnant with the greatest danger, was "one of the strongest and most important towns in the kingdom, inferior to none for its trade, riches, strength and situation," [h] reduced to obedience by the single exertion and influence of the earl of Clanricarde, unassisted by the state and almost without bloodshed. The disaffected throughout the province were greatly disheartened at this signal success, which was the more fortunate, as one Francis D'Arcy, a merchant of the town in a ship laden with corn, arms and ammunition, had only two or three days before put into a creek in Iar-Connaught, and carried the entire to Galway. By this means, besides the stores of provisions, a most seasonable supply of ten pieces of ordnance, sixty muskets, and two thousand seven hundred pounds weight of powder, fell into the earl's hands. The provisions were ordered for the use of the fort, and the arms to supply that and other garrisions through the country. - This happy result gave universal joy to every class of persons but the disaffected. The lord justices also, whose views were very different from those of lord Clanricarde, entirely disapproved of his receiving the submission, or granting protection to the town, and expressly directed him to receive no further submissions, but to prosecute the rebels and their adherents, harbourers, and relievers, with fire and sword; and they soon after issued orders to all commanders throughout the kingdom, tending to the extermination of the Irish Catholics.

Sir Richard Blake, Sir Roebuck Lynch, Patrick D'Arcy, Richard Martin, Patrick Kirwan, the Recorder, and several others of the most respectable natives and inhabitants of Galway, had incessanly laboured, first to prevent, and afterwards to terminate, the commotions in the town. Many of them, being in danger of their lives from the fury of the rabble, were obliged to retire, but had now returned at the request of the earl of Clanricarde, who hoped by these means to preserve peace within the town, while he laboured for the security of the county. All his measures, however, were soon frustated by the conduct of Willoughby and Ashley, the captain of the ship Resolution, that lay in the harbour. The latter, who, in disposition, much resembled Willoughby, was also extremely covetous, and a violent parliamentarian, and, either out of avarice or from principle, made it a point to violate the pacification. He first seized and pretended to make a prize of Francis D'Arcy's ship, although she lay under the protection of the fort. He landed his men, and plundered the sea-coast all round the bay, pillaged Sir Richard Blake's house at Ardfry, and carried away his goods and cattle, and those of his tenants. Richard Morris, an old tenant of lord Clanricarde's in Iar Connaught, coming in a boat to Galway with some goods to discharge his rent, had the entire seized by Ashley's men, and no satisfaction could be obtained for any of these doings. Captain Wlloughby's conduct was equally outrageous; his soldiers endeavoured to hinder all recourse to the town, and those who attempted to have access to it were robbed by them. Although the town had puncually performed the articles agreed upon, yet the governor, without any cause, seized upon a large house or inn near the great gate, called the Bull, then kept by some English innkeepers, and in this he placed a garrison which considerably annoyed the inhabitants. He also sent a garrison to Castle-Gare, stationed another near St. Dominick's abbey at the west, and placed disorderly sentinels at every gate, who abused such as offered to go out, attempting to take them prisoners to the fort, and exercise martial law upon them, besides killing and robbing the poor people that came to market, burning their fishing-boats, and not suffering them to go out.

Next: Captain Willoughby bombards the town

Chapter 5

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