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Thomas D'Arcy McGee

The Ard-Righ Roderick, during the period of Henry the Second's stay in Ireland, had continued west of the Shannon. Unsupported by his suffragans, many of whom made peace with the invader, he attempted no military operation, nor had Henry time sufficient to follow him into his strongholds.

At Dublin, Richard prepared to celebrate the festival of Christmas, with all the splendour of which he was so fond. He had received letters from his council in England warmly congratulating him on the results of his "noble voyage" and his successes against "his rebel Make Murgh." Several lords and chiefs were hospitably entertained by him during the holidays - but the greater magnates did not yet present themselves - unless we suppose them to have continued his guests at Dublin, from Christmas till Easter, which is hardly credible.

Ireland, lifting herself from the dust, drying her tears, and proudly demanding her legitimate place among the nations of the earth, is a spectacle to cause immense progress in political philosophy.

By the deposition of Malachy II., and the transfer of supreme power to the long-excluded line of Heber, Brian completed the revolution which Time had wrought in the ancient Celtic constitution. He threw open the sovereignty to every great family as a prize to be won by policy or force, and no longer an inheritance to be determined by usage and law. The consequences were what might have been expected. After his death the O'Conors of the west competed with both O'Neills and O'Briens for supremacy, and a chronic civil war prepared the path for Strongbow and the Normans.

The victory of Thurles, in the year 1174, was the next important military event, as we have seen, after the raising of the second siege of Dublin, in the first campaign of Earl Richard. It seems irreconcilable, with the consequences of that victory, that Ambassadors from Roderick should be found at the Court of Henry II. before the close of the following year: but events personal to both sovereigns will sufficiently explain the apparent anomaly.

One leading fact, which we have to follow in all its consequences through the whole of the fifteenth century, is the division of the English and of the Anglo-Irish interest into two parties, Lancasterians and Yorkists. This division of the foreign power will be found to have produced a corresponding sense of security in the minds of the native population, and thus deprived them of that next best thing to a united national action, the combining effects of a common external danger.

If a great battle is to be accounted lost or won, as it affects principles rather than reputations, then Brian lost at Clontarf. The leading ideas of his long and political life were, evidently, centralization and an hereditary monarchy. To beat back foreign invasion, to conciliate and to enlist the Irish-born Danes under his standard, were preliminary steps. For Morrogh, his first-born, and for Morrogh's descendants, he hoped to found an hereditary kinship after the type universally copied throughout Christendom.

Hugh de Lacy, restored to the supreme authority on the recall of Fitz-Aldelm in 1179, began to conceive hopes, as Strongbow had done, of carving out for himself a new kingdom. After the assassination of O'Ruarc already related, he assumed without further parley the titles of Lord of Meath and Breffni. To these titles, he added that of Oriel or Louth, but his real strength lay in Meath, where his power was enhanced by a politic second marriage with Rose, daughter of O'Conor.

The history of "the Pale" being recounted down to the period of its complete isolation, we have now to pass beyond its entrenched and castellated limits, in order to follow the course of events in other parts of the kingdom.

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