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Thomas D'Arcy McGee

The daughter of Anna Boleyn was promptly proclaimed Queen the same day on which Mary died - the 17th of November, 1558. Elizabeth was then in her 26th year, proud of her beauty, and confident in her abilities. Her great capacity had been cultivated by the best masters of the age, and the best of all ages, early adversity. Her vices were hereditary in her blood, but her genius for government so far surpassed any of her immediate predecessors as to throw her vices into the shade.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ireland is situated in the North Atlantic, between the degrees fifty-one and a half and fifty-five and a half North, and five and a quarter and ten and a third West longitude from Greenwich. It is the last land usually seen by ships leaving the Old World, and the first by those who arrive there from the Northern ports of America. In size it is less than half as large as Britain, and in shape it may be compared to one of those shields which we see in coats-of-arms, the four Provinces - Ulster, Connaught, Leinster, and Munster - representing the four quarters of the shield.

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