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Chapters towards a History of Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth (Author: Philip O'Sullivan Beare)

Chapter 6

What was the Condition of Ireland after the War?

THUS the war was finished. Ireland was almost entirely laid waste and destroyed, and terrible want and famine oppressed all, so that many were forced to eat dogs and whelps: many not having even these, died. And not only men but even beasts were hungry. The wolves, coming out of the woods and mountains, attacked and tore to pieces, men weak from want. The dogs rooted from the graves rotten carcases partly decomposed. And so there was nought but abundance of misery and a faithful picture of ruined Troy as given by Virgil, Book II., Aeneid: —

    1. That night of slaughter and of gloom
      What pen can paint or tears atone?
      An ancient city meets its doom:
      Its rule of ages is undone.
      The streets are strewn with silent dead,
      E'en homes, aye God's abodes, are graves.
      Not only Trojan's blood is shed;
      The foeman's gore the streets belaves,
      And Trojan valour smites the Greeks.
      Around the cruel anguish spreads,
      And all with death and terror reeks.

As a result of this almost total destruction of Ireland, many Irishmen scattered themselves amongst foreign nations. A great number passed into France, and a far larger number into Spain. The Exiles were kindly and generously received by Catholics on account of their faith. So great


was the affection of the King of Spain for them, and such his kindness and generosity that one could scarcely find words to express, or mind to conceive, all they owed him. Receiving all, to begin with, most honourably, he heaped presents on them. To the Chiefs he allowed monthly sums of money according to their rank, and to others he gave appointments in the army. He had a legion embodied out of them in Belgium, which, under the command of Henry, and after his death, of John, sons of The O'Neill, fought faithfully and bravely against the Batavians. In the royal fleet in the ocean, he had also employed some companies who exhibited great valour. After his Catholic Majesty the most illustrious of the Patrons of the Irish were the Duke of Brigantia, a Lusitanian; Cardinal Surdi, Archbishop of Burdigal, a Frenchman; The Marquess of Caracena, a Spaniard; and Fabius O'Neill, a rich citizen of the city of Valladolid.

End of Book.