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From "The Sons of Clanricard"

From "The Sons of Clanricard"


John Hooker

This English account describes some of the travails of Sir William Fitzwilliam (1526–1599), lord deputy of Ireland from 1571 to 1575 and 1588 to 1594.

SEE ALSO English Writing on Ireland before 1800

And then his lordship [Fitzwilliam] prepareth to take a journie towards Waterford. . . . But when he was passed a daies journey, word was brought unto him from the bishop of Meth, who laie then upon the confines of Meth and Connagh for ordering of matters in these parties; and the like from the maior of Gallewaie, and from diverse others, who affected well the state, crieng out with trembling termes and dolefull reports, that the earle of Clanricard his sonnes that basterlie brood, which not scarse two moneths past had humbled themselves to the lord deputie, confessed their faults, and craved pardon, and had most firmelie protested and sworne and most dutifull and continuall obedience.

These (I saie) not without the counsell and consent of their father, were on a night stollen over the river of Shennon, and there cast awaie their English apparell, and clothed themselves in their old woonted Irish rags, and sent to all their old friends to come awaie to them, and to bring the Scots whom they had solicited, and their Gallowglasses, and all their forces with them. Who when they met togither, they forthwith went to the towne of Athenrie, and those few houses were newlie builded, they sacked, set the new gates on fire, beat awaie the masons and labourers which were there in working, brake and spoiled the queenes armes, and others, there made and cut to be set up. Bad and wicked they were before, but now ten times worse than ever they were; being come, even as it is said in the scriptures, that the wicked spirit was gone out of the man, and wanting his woonted diet, returneth unto the house from whense he came, and finding the same swept cleane, he goeth and seeketh out other seven wicked spirits, and entreth and dwelleth where he did before, and the last state of that man is woorse than the first. And if a man should aske of these bastardlie boies, and of their sier, what should be the cause that they should thus rage, and so wickedlie and suddenlie revolve, as dogs to their vomits, so they to their treasons and treacheries, having beene so courteouslie used, so gentile interteined, so friendlie countenanced, so fatherly exhorted, so pithilie persuaded, & so mercifullie pardoned in hope of amendment: surelie nothing can they answer, but that they would not be honest, nor in anie part satisfie a little of infinite the robberies, thefts, and spoiles which they had made. For bastardlie slips cannot bring forth better fruits, neither can thornes bring foorth grapes.

Reprinted in Strangers to That Land: British Perceptions of Ireland from the Reformation to the Famine, edited by Andrew Hadfield and John McVeagh (1994), pp. 97–98.

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