An Irish Village

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fiach Mac Hugh O'Byrne 1. Some Wicklow history – originally recorded

This article translates and publishes a piece of Wicklow history which really belongs to the old Gaelic tradition of oral history. However due to the diligence and foresight of a west Wicklow woman, this tract about Fiach Mac Hugh O’Byrne has been written down for posterity. Originally from Donard, Rose Byrne (nee Walshe) carefully wrote the following piece by hand into a hard cover copy. Rose was a national school teacher in Rathcoyle School, Rathdangan, Co. Wicklow for many years. Rose married Hugh Byrne (who was president of the G.A.A. from 1961 to 1964 and their son Seán currently teaches in Newbridge). Rose’s hardcover copy is now in the possession of Mrs. Sandra Cleary of Blackhill, Dunlavin, and I am indebted to her for allowing me to publish this material. Rose wrote in the Irish language, using the old Irish alphabet and I am also indebted to Mrs. Eileen Maguire of Clondalkin for providing me with a literal translation of the original.

Sixty years ago, on St. Patrick’s Day 1943, Éamon de Valera broadcast a famous speech outlining his vision for a “noble” Ireland. The speech included the following extract about the Irish language:

It is for us what no other language can be. It is our very own. It is more than a symbol; it is an essential part of our nationhood. It has been moulded by the thought of a hundred generations of our forebears. In it is stored the accumulated experience of a people, our people who, even before Christianity was brought to them, were already cultured and living in a well ordered society.
The Irish language spoken in Ireland today is the direct descendant without break of the language our ancestors spoke in those far-off days.
As a vehicle of 3,000 years of our history, the language is for us precious beyond measure. As the bearer to us of a philosophy, of an outlook on life deeply Christian and rich in practical wisdom, the language today is worth far too much to dream of letting it go.
To part with it would be to abandon a great part of ourselves, to lose the key to our past, to cut away the roots from the tree. With the language gone we could never aspire again to being more than half a nation.

Much has changed in the past sixty years and while I personally do not agree with all of Dev’s arguments, I do think that the following extract gains a lot from being left in its literal translated form. It is obviously not quite the same as reading the original Gaelic tract, but to put it into more modern and more “correct” phraseology would only serve to lose some of the zest of the original Irish. The Irish have a colourful interpretation of the English language – as valid an interpretation as any dialect found in England – not more valid or less valid – but as valid. One can just imagine Rose and other members of her generation actually telling the story of Fiach in this way. What is written here is his story (as opposed to history) and it is obviously a biased interpretation of events in late sixteenth century Wicklow. However it is not a primary source from that time. Rather it is a primary source from the early twentieth century and it provides a window into how history was viewed, discussed and taught at that time. Hence, this piece provides us with a little insight into how the psyche of the ordinary people was influenced by the absorption of historical information in a format such as this during this period. This psyche is deeply ingrained and much of the material that has developed the psyche has been lost, as older guardians of the oral tradition have died over the years. We are all indebted to Rose Byrne for recording this piece so meticulously during her lifetime. It is, in fact, a gem of both history and folklore and it reads as follows:

Fiach Mac Hugh O’Byrne and his Exploits

It is not possible to think of Glenmalure without thinking of the destruction that was wrought on the clans of Wicklow, the O’Byrne clan and the O’Toole clan who fought so long and so bravely against the incoming of the English, until they were attacked from every side in this isolated glen in the middle of Fertíre, from which the Vartry gets its name.
It was in Glenmalure that the clans made their last fight and it was there that destruction and murder was done on them in spite of the great victory they had over the English in 1580, when their fame went from one end of the country to the other, and in spite of the bravery of Fiach Mac Hugh O’Byrne, their last chieftain, a man to whom the other chieftains submitted and went under his protection, even though they had a greater claim to that position. It was only right that all the other chieftains helped Fiach because, apart from his own qualities, there were ties between himself and the most important people in the county. His mother was Sabina O’Toole, first cousin of Turlough of Powerscourt and his first wife was a first cousin of Phelim, son of Turlough. His second wife was Rose, a sister of Phelim, the woman who was burnt in Dublin. Phelim’s brother was Brian of the Battles and it was said at that time that he would succeed Brian in Powerscourt.
Before the year 1580 there was no doubt that the English boundary was spread out beyond Bray and that the English had founded a small settlement in Phelim O’Toole’s land.
Ormond settled down to live in Arklow and Wicklow. It was clear that Glenmalure was the most obvious place where troop movements from Bray and the South would meet each other. It was there that the independent remnant of the clan, the followers of Fiach, were to be found. Therefore, it was no wonder that the infantry and the cavalry came into this glen against him. There is no part of the country as beautiful or as interesting as that part which lies between the Dublin Mountains and Glenmalure and it is easier to access it from the Bray direction than from any other direction.
Going west through that beautiful glen – Glencree – where there was a royal forest situated long ago, we would meet the road that Red Hugh O’ Donnell took when he escaped from Dublin. It was probably the same route Dermot MacMurrough took when he guided the Normans to Dublin for the first time. The road comes from Rathfarnam and it goes past the two lakes, Tay and Dan and near to Glenmacnass waterfall to Rathdrum and there are a lot of fine glens on each side of it. But the English did not take this road when they tried to conquer Wicklow. They sent out their troops from Bray, Oldcourt and Newcastle and it was from the Rathfarnam direction that attacks used to be made on the Galltacht of the Englishry. [Area of English language and influence].
When the clans went for the Englishry in 1595 it was Fiach and his son in law Walter Reagh who were their chieftains and they set Crumlin on fire.
This shows the courage and spirit that was awakened in these men with the victory they won in 1580. This victory was only minor in comparison with what was in the minds of Desmond and O’Neill, who intended to rout the English out of the country altogether. There was a close relationship between the causes of O’Neill and the Munster chiefs and the cause of Fiach because we even know the names of the messengers that used to go between them.
In Elizabethan times this beautiful glen, Glenmalure, gave shelter and protection to to this chieftain, Fiach, who was renowned and famous throughout Ireland. Even his fiercest enemies gave testimony to his power and courage, even though they were very much against him. He had so much power and there was so much anger by the English against the clans who lived in these mountains that Lord Justice Sir James Crofts was specially ordered, when he went to Ireland, to defeat and annihilate the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles if he could at all.
In the middle of the sixteenth century, Fiach Mac Hugh was the strongest chieftain of the O’Byrne clan and it was he who struck terror into the hearts of the English.
The poet Spenser, a person who had unbounded hatred for the Irish, has only the worst account that he could write about this man. After making arguments to show that Fiach’s land belonged to the queen, he continues his account thus:
Even if it were the case that Fiach’s land didn’t belong to the queen, he would still have no right to it as it belonged to the old chieftain Brian, the man who used to rule this country, because Fiach and his followers were only followers of Brian. His grandfather was a miserable man, a man who had neither money nor power, but his son Hugh, the son of Seán, father of Fiach, rose out of the mud. Thieves and outlaws came to him to get protection, because they knew well the strength and impenetrable nature of Glenmalure, which surrounded the house of Hugh, son of Seán. They gave a lot of their booty to Fiach as they were under his protection. After a while he became very strong because of this money and because of the number of people who were under his protection and his fame went throughout all the Gaeltacht of the Irishry.
Fiach continued to receive the tribute of his father and he became more powerful and stronger by the day due to the number of victories he achieved over us and because of his personal courage. His reputation is so great now that he is a dangerous enemy to us. Everyone agrees that he did not keep the public peace very well, but that he always kept some fight or other going on. Even the most critical examiner cannot but admit that Fiach was one of the bravest and cleverest of the enemies that Elizabeth had. He was a hospitable generous man and he had a lot of good qualities, which reduced the fierceness that he inherited from his kind, and they show us the savage majesty of this nobleman. It is at Ballinacor the famous chieftain lived, on the edge of Glenmalure.
When Lord Grey de Wilton came to Dublin as the king’s viceroy, he was very anxious to do something to show his earnestness and bravery to everybody. And – hadn’t he a great chance now to do this? Wasn’t the felons’ camp only a day’s journey from Dublin? He would put the rout on these thieves, the bold chieftains of Wicklow! I suppose he was delighted that he had a chance to show the queen that he didn’t make much delay in putting the instructions she gave him into effect. But, according to him the victory would be too easy to get and he thought it would look better for him if his enemies were stronger than they were, so that there would be more respect for the victory when he had achieved it. But, although Grey did not win, he had more than enough fighting before that day was spent for him! It never ran through his mind that everyone who had preceded him in that office had failed to do the task which he thought would be too easy. He should have been warned by the things that had happened in this glen before now, especially when he knew it was the clan O’Byrne and clan O’Toole that were defending the glen. Forty years before in this glen, another Lord Grey was routed and he was seized with such dread that he didn’t stop till he was back inside Dublin Castle with the door closed after him, there was that much terror on him before the O’Byrnes. But maybe this present man was more courageous and more valiant. He had only, according to himself, to attack them and clear them out with one blow. He would put St. George’s flag up on the castles of the chieftains of Imaal and Ballinacor in place of “the lion” and “the firebrand”. He had it in mind to put the kerns and the Irish soldiers under subjugation so that they would remember the battle of Glenmalure until their dying day. And they did remember that day – but it was not the memory that Grey would have wished!
The officers of the English army came together before the battle to ponder on what was the right course of action. At this council were James Wingfield and the Earl of Kildare. The viceroy intended, by going into that glen, to have his name much talked of throughout the country because of the big victory that was waiting for him, and his plan to do this was to erect outworks at the mouth of the glen so that the Irish could not escape out of it. But he was too sure that he would be victorious and he did not provide a way for his own soldiers to return back. It is said that every general thinks of a way of escape even if a certain victory is in store for him but grey did not do this. Everything was now ready for the battle. The English were ordered forward and nine companies went into the glen to put a start to the defeat. But where was Grey himself? He was on top of a hill far from the place where the battle was to be going on and he had a very good view from that position of the glen and all that was going on there. There wasn’t a sound to be heard or a thing to be seen on the going in of the English to that glen. You would think that no living thing was to be found there. Grey and his companions were mocking the Irish when they did not see a stir out of them. They thought they were gone altogether when they heard talk of the forthcoming pursuit. But after a while they saw that the soldiers were going slower, because the glen was three miles long and there were very high mountains on either side and rivers running between them. For all this time there was not the sign of an enemy to be seen. The only opposition against the soldiers at this time was the territory itself. At last, Fiach Mac Hugh saw that the time had come to attack.
He gave them the sign and they let one yell only out of them “Faire” [Watch Out!] that put Grey and his followers shaking with fear. Then they attacked the soldiers and as for them they did not know where the shots were coming from. The English ranks were broken and then Grey ordered the reserves to help the other companies. Then the loud voice of Fiach was heard, telling the clans to attack the English. There was that much vigour and energy in that voice and its echo that all the soldiers were seized with terror, especially those people who were far away from danger at the top of the hill and who didn’t expect to see a sight like that. Like a flood going with the slope, the Irish attacked the English who were confused in the glen below. In vain did the English try to put a stop to that onslaught.
It was a rout from the beginning. The only thing in the minds of the English was to find some way to escape from the glen. That was what was troubling the soldiers and the officers as well. Grey himself and his personal friends fled early and with the help of swift horses they reached the city before they were captured. There returned to Dublin only a couple of broken companies out of all the fine army which had set out from the city only two days before.
It was a sorrowful story that was to be told by the people who had survived that terrible battle and the terror of the English increased along with the fame of the O’Byrnes and the O’Tooles. Maybe it is better to let an officer who came safely out of the battle give us an account because there are people who would like to do down the bravery and valour of the Irish. They are always trying to hide their ignorance of the history of this country by mocking talk. They say that it is impossible to put proper credibility in the history of Ireland with the amount of romantic fables there are there! All the same, they would not have that excuse with the account of Sir Liam Stanley – a man who was very much against the Irish. This is his account:
We went into the glen on the 25th day of August. We had to slither down the slope before we could stand at all. The glen was a mile in depth in the place we went into and full of stones, rocks, bog and woods. A river ran at the bottom of the glen and it was full of loose stones and we had to cross the river three or four times. So as long as we stayed at the bottom of the glen, we were all right, but the officer who was over us was a big fat man and he was unable to suffer any great hardship. The glen was four miles long, but before we had walked half the way, he ordered us up the hill. The side of the glen was so steep that we had to crawl to make any progress. The vanguard of the army was gone up the hill and so we had to follow them.
Our enemies made a fierce attack on us. There were soldiers on every side that day who helped those who had once been their enemies. Captain green was there with his company and they gave service in Connacht, but that day they were all under Captain Garrett and fighting against the viceroy. It was one of the fiercest battles I ever saw, even though it didn’t last very long. As I said before, myself and twenty eight soldiers were at the rear of the column. Eight of them were killed and ten were wounded. There was a drummer with us to give a signal to the soldiers and we put a stop to the attack eventually but a lot of my friends were dead.
Fiach’s army were hidden in the woods at the mouth of the glen, on the two sides, in the bogs and behind the rocks. As long as we stayed at the bottom of the glen, we did not lose as much as one man but the leader ordered us to go up the hill and the order of the ranks was broken with the climbing. We couldn’t see our enemies and therefore we could only go in the direction of the place where we saw smoke rising. But, all the same, we defended the rest of the army from the felons. I know and I admit that it was the hand of God that brought me safe. The place was that dangerous that a lot of soldiers were left on the side of the mountain even though they were not badly wounded, because it was so steep that no one could help them when they fell. Some of them died even though they were not badly hurt at all. All in a flutter, shortness of breath came on them and they were left lying on the glen side.
But O’Sullivan Beare tells us a lot of things that Stanley omitted and they are to be found in the “Catholic History”;
Eight hundred of the ordinary soldiers were killed in the glen, and on both sides, because they had to carry heavy baggage up the hill. It is clear to the person who examines this glen that the English were in a fix when they were attacked and when they tried to escape out of it. The Gaels had great knowledge of every twist and turn in this beautiful glen and of the whole neighbourhood. Besides the ordinary soldiers, Cosby, a Laois chieftain, was killed, also Colonel Moore, Peter Carew, Captain Audley and a lot of the other noblemen who came to Ireland with the viceroy, Lord Grey. The flight was that quick that the English had to leave all their baggage behind them. The Irish later found all the baggage, and the ammunition also.
In the account by the Abbé MacGeoghan it is stated:
In the year 1580 when the Lord [Grey] was sent over to Ireland as viceroy – at that time a secret plot was established to get relief from the persecution that was going on and to get satisfaction because of the insult that was given to their clergy and to their religion. They all joined together under Fiach Mac Hugh and Lord Baltinglass. But the conspiracy was discovered shortly after it was founded and the most important people in the society were captured and put to death. Grey got the position of viceroy in 1580 and it was said to him when he came to Ireland that Fiach’s camp and his auxiliaries were in Glenmalure. Lord Baltinglass was with them also. Grey put his mind to chasing them out of the glen and to that object he collected the soldiers of Leinster and went to Glendalough. His enemies were ready to go against him. The battle started in a wood, with Grey’s cavalry on each side of it. The battle went on for about four hours but neither side yielded for a long time. In the end, Fiach and his brave followers won and they inflicted destruction and terrible murder on the English soldiers. They had to beat a shameful retreat. Eight hundred soldiers and most of the principal officers were killed.
In the year 1594 Fiach helped Red Hugh O’Donnell to escape from Dublin Castle, after having spent seven years inside there. O’Donnell, McSweeney, O’Gallagher, Henry and Art O’Neill were rescued and also Philip O’Reilly. Fiach coaxed the people who were guarding him onto his side and they did not interfere with the escape. He sent some linen to the prisoners for their personal use, mar dhea! O’Donnell cut the linen into strips and he tied them together and they came down from the prison where they were with the help of the rope that was made from the linen.
There was a big difference between the Battle of Glenmalure and the battles that went before. In the previous battles there was no comparison between the Irish and the English armies. There were big differences between them as regards size, wealth and arms. The English used to have a big army, well equipped and well trained in the use of arms. But this time Fiach had a good army too and they were well practiced in the methods of warfare of the time. The commander had great practice in every kind of war for he had spent most of his life in England and many of the soldiers had spent some time in the English army also, because arms were often brought in from the continent and we know now that O’Neill intended to send an army to Wicklow in ships to help Fiach. It is plain that a lot of the soldiers came from the south to help because we hear of the Fitzgerald clan [of Desmond] in the account of the battle; after the Battle of Glenmalure Fiach and O’Toole rose up against the government because that victory gave them courage and spirit. They attacked Castle Ormond in Wicklow and set in on fire. The ruin is still to be seen and it now goes by the name of the “Black Castle”.
After that deed Lord Baltinglass went as far as Clondalkin plundering the surrounding countryside around the mountains and nobody opposed him. The viceroy had had more than enough of fighting and as well as that Desmond had rebelled in Munster. But the victory in Clondalkin was never followed up and nothing worth mentioning came out of it.
There is an account to be got in the “State Papers” between 1594 and 1597 of the things that happened before the rebels were crushed. It was Lord Russell, secretary to the viceroy, who wrote the account. It is written in the form of a diary.
But they were not able to withstand the continued attacks that were made on them after that. The English were victorious over them by degrees and in the end Fiach and the other chieftains had to promise that they would keep the law of the queen. But that was only a clever trick to get promises from the Irish. It was part of their tribute system always and it was exactly like the Roman system of tribute. The Irish chieftains were compelled to send their sons to England to be educated.
Young Art O’Toole, the son of Brian of the Battles, and grandson of Turlough was sent to England and he was educated there and spent most of this life in England. It is certain that he did not have a very happy life there because the English and the Irish did not mix very well together and Art’s presence was a constant reminder of the tribute as long as he remained in England. But he was very useful to the English because they threatened Phelim that they would send Art’s body back to Ireland if he did not stay quiet and that was how they kept Phelim under foot.
Something happened at that time that shows us the kind of man Fiach was in his own home. There was a lot of talk about his happening at the time and Fiach was faulted for it in exactly the same way as Phelim O’Toole was blamed for what he did when Hugh O’Donnell went to him asking for help. His first and second family did not get on very well with one another and there was jealousy between them and they mistrusted one another. Rose, Fiach’s wife was in prison at this time and it was said to her that Fiach’s son was about to betray him. That was not true; it was a plan the English thought of to try to separate the Irish chiefs from each other. But, all the same, Rose thought the story was true and she sent a message to Fiach to say that his son was going to betray him. When Fiach heard this story he was very angry and he seized his son and gave him to the English. The English were overjoyed to get him as he was wanted by them because of his part in a rising that happened before that.
For a good while from 1594-1597 the English were tightening their grip on Glenmalure until Fiach and his followers were without space to walk on there and with no hope of any improvement. His wealth and his followers decreased day by day. On the 16th January 1595 the viceroy went right up to Ballinacor and he put Fiach out of his house. He went to the house to catch Fiach, but when they were near to the house, one of the soldiers beat on a drum and that was how a warning was given to Fiach and Fiach and his people stole away before any of them were caught. They went under the woods of Glenmalure and his son-in-law, Walter Reagh, came to help him. Russell remained in Ballinacor for ten days and then he returned to Dublin, leaving a garrison in Fiach’s house. The next day Fiach and his wife and his son-in-law were proclaimed as outlaws.
On the 21st January Captain Chichester was sent to Ballinacor with gunpowder and bullets. On 30th January the O’Tooles and O’Byrnes raided Crumlin and set it on fire. They brought the lead roof of the church with them to make bullets out of it. The fire was even seen in Dublin but Fiach and his people escaped before the viceroy’s soldiers came. Because of this attack the Star Chamber convened and it was decided to send another army to Ballinacor. The army came and they made an encampment near Ballinacor. Fiach sent them a message looking for a parley and permission was given to O’Hannactain to have discussions with him, but nothing came of it. The English started making outworks and fortifying Ballinacor.
Now when Ormond thought that Fiach was thrown out by him, he helped Russell to oppose Fiach, but the Ballinacor garrison had to return to Dublin. So that is how the second raid on Ballinacor ended and Fiach had the victory again, even though the viceroy and Ormond were united against him. Ballinacor fell into the hands of the English again on the 10th August 1596. The leader of the garrison sent a message to Dublin to say that Fiach had received letters from O’Neill and that he was afraid that he would burn him. He had good cause to be afraid because he had plundered and murdered Fiach’s people and their property. Russell thought now that he would make a big name for himself by annihilating Fiach altogether, or as he said himself, to chase the old fox out of his cave. For that purpose, he sent a company of troops to Ballinacor and had five hundred men fit for service in the fort of Rathdrum.
Fiach’s troops attacked them and they killed the most of them and the others went back at their best, as fast as they could to Dublin. Captain Tucker sent some of his troops to meet the gunpowder that was coming, but when they were gone Fiach attacked Ballinacor and took Tucker prisoner and set the fort on fire. When the viceroy heard what had happened in Rathdrum he sent two hundred kerns and four hundred cavalry to Ballinacor, but at Newcastle they heard of the fall of Ballinacor and they returned to Dublin.
Something happened at the invasion of Ballinacor that shows us the nobility of Fiach. Tucker surrendered on condition that not one of his men be put to death and when he was brought before Fiach he did not kill him even though he was the cause of the murder and destruction that the English were inflicting on the Irish.
In the middle of September Russell moved against Ballinacor once again. He and two hundred infantry and fifty cavalry went off in the direction of the fort. Nearing the fort they heard a big cry and saw about one hundred and sixty of the Irish on the side of the hill. They came down to the bridge to fight with the English. But the viceroy’s soldiers beat the Irish and they took the bridge without much trouble. Russell sent the officers Lee and Street to a place where there was another entrance to the glen and they set Farranceran [possibly Farrenci near Hacketstown, but geography is against this?], a town belonging to Fiach, on fire. They continued fighting with Fiach for an hour or so and Russell remained on the side of the hill looking at them with a large detachment beside him to protect him.
We have to give praise and honour to Fiach for the way he went against Russell, when his own people were leaving him and all the chieftains were against him. Only for the help he got from the O’Toole family he would have been finished long ago. There were a lot of people there at that time and instead of giving him help as they ought to have done they went very much against him because they thought they would be able to get the reward of his estates when every thing was quiet; that is, when Fiach was dead or a prisoner of the government. But they had another think coming when Fiach was dead, for the greedy people in charge of the government didn’t care whether they were partial to Fiach or against him – they took their lands from them.
But Russell failed to completely defeat Fiach, even though he had enough soldiers and even though he employed every sort of cruelty against him. Fiach had but a very few soldiers in comparison to those against him, but all the same he kept the flag of the Gaels swinging in Glenmalure. Therefore, in the month of October, Russell asked Ormond to help him and he came to Russell’s camp with a hundred cavalry and two hundred kerns. Around midnight Russell sent John Chichester and Captain Lee to the glen, but they were to enter it through special little passes. At the break of the day the viceroy himself went into the glen and Chichester and his company met him. They saw about one hundred men of the O’Byrnes’ people at the other side of the glen, but they were afraid to attack them. Then they went to the camp. Russell spent a fortnight in this neighbourhood making raids on the O’Byrnes and enforcing the law and then he went back to Dublin, leaving the garrison under Chichester. Chichester continued to fortify Ballinacor.
When Russell returned to Dublin the Star Chamber convened and they were in favour of making peace with Fiach because they were afraid he would get help from O’Neill, but Russell and his friends’ desire for the property of the Wicklow clans would not let them make any peace with Fiach. So he returned to the encampment; Sir John North and Sir John Bowles were with him. They brought two hundred men with them. The brought these soldiers with them for fear that O’Neill would succeed in sending help to Fiach Mac Hugh. Chichester and Lee went into the glen again on the 15th day of November and the viceroy himself went in on the North side. But they had to return out of this because of the heavy rain. The lord viceroy went to Baile an droichead [Place unknown – possibly Bridgeland which was part of Farnees, but geography suggests some bridging point in west Wicklow?] and from there to Naas and then back to Dublin. He failed for the third time to defeat the Wicklow clans and take their lands from them and catch Fiach.
Twelve days after the return of the lord viceroy Fiach attacked the guard who were bringing ammunition from Wicklow to Ballinacor. Maybe you are wondering why Fiach let the viceroy go free when he paid his last visit to the glen. Well, there was a reason for it. He knew that O’Neill was trying to get peace terms from the man that had the armies and if he succeeded in getting those peace terms there would be no interference with Fiach and his lands from then on. Fiach’s power and following decreased every day until they were almost beaten by the English. Fiach was about seventy years of age at this time. The viceroy could go anywhere he liked, from Dublin to Baile an droichead and from Baile an droichead to the sea. But he couldn’t go into the glen where Fiach was yet. O’Neill would have liked to help Fiach but he couldn’t. Ballinacor, Rathdrum, Wicklow and Naas were in the hands of the English, so the English were in power all around Glenmalure.
In the end it was discovered where the old chieftain was hiding and the rest of the story is told like this:
On Sunday, early in the morning, the soldiers came into the place where he was. They came in at him from every direction and he had to flee into a cave. A man called Millburm [Millbum?] and the soldiers were that angry that he could not make a prisoner of him that he killed him with his sword. He took the head with him and he gave it to the viceroy. Most of his followers were killed and two hundred cows were taken and great plunder and all the booty was divided amongst the soldiers.
Fiach did not get his proper place in the history of his country yet. He remained independent of England during his lifetime and he kept his followers and his people independent of England even though he was living on the border of the Galltacht [Pale]. He could have had wealth and title like a lot of other chieftains but he did not do the likes. He was a man who had only one object and that was to acquire the freedom of Ireland. He put this before anything else. He didn’t care if he lost everything if he had but to achieve that object. There was no wealth to come to him for his thankless work but that was not what he wanted – he was satisfied with a little. He was the first man to unite these clans, who were so different in customs and traits, under one banner and he made a good army of them as well as that. He kept them fighting against an army that was stronger and more powerful than themselves for years. There was no going against authority in Wicklow after his death. His death was a heavy blow to all the chieftains, but especially to those of both the South and the North. A stone monument should be erected in Glenmalure in his honour.