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Thomas D'Arcy McGee

The successful ambition of Thorlogh O'Conor had thus added, as we have seen in the last chapter, a fifth dynasty to the number of competitors for the sovereignty. And if great energy and various talents could alone entitle a chief to rule over his country, this Prince well merited the obedience of his cotemporaries. He is the first of the latter kings who maintained a regular fleet at sea; at one time we find these Connaught galleys doing service on the coast of Cork, at another co-operating with his land forces, in the harbour of Derry.

We have already spoken of the character of the war waged by and against the Normans on Irish soil, and as war was then almost every man's business, we may be supposed to have described all that is known of the time in describing its wars. What we have to add of the other pursuits of the various orders of men into which society was divided, is neither very full nor very satisfactory.

THE five years of the sixth century, which remained after the death of Hugh II., were filled by Hugh III., son of Dermid, the semi-Pagan. Hugh IV. succeeded (A.D. 599) and reigned for several years; two other kings, of small account, reigned seven years; Donald II. (A.D. 624) reigned sixteen years; Connall and Kellach, brothers, (A.D. 640) reigned jointly sixteen years; they were succeeded (A.D. 656) by Dermid and Blathmac, brothers, who reigned jointly seven years; Shanasagh, son of the former, reigned six years; Kenfala, four; Finnacta, "the hospitable," twenty years, and Loingsech (A.D.

At the end of the eighth century, before entering on the Norwegian and Danish wars, we cast a backward glance on the Christian ages over which we had passed; and now again we have arrived at the close of an era, when a rapid retrospect of the religious and social condition of the country requires to be taken.

Henry the Eighth of England succeeded his father on the throne, early in the year 1509. He was in the eighteenth year of his age, when he thus found himself master of a well-filled treasury and an united kingdom. Fortune, as if to complete his felicity, had furnished him from the outset of his reign with a minister of unrivalled talent for public business. This was Thomas Wolsey, successively royal Chaplain, Almoner, Archbishop of York, Papal Legate, Lord Chancellor, and Lord Cardinal.

The kings of the eighth century are Congal II. (surnamed Kenmare), who reigned seven years; Feargal, who reigned ten years; Forgartah, Kenneth, Flaherty, respectively one, four, and seven years; Hugh V. (surnamed Allan), nine years; Donald III., who reigned (A.D. 739-759) twenty years; Nial II. (surnamed Nial of the Showers), seven years; and Donogh I., who reigned thirty-one years, A.D. 766-797. The obituaries of these kings show that we have fallen on a comparatively peaceful age, since of the entire nine, but three perished in battle.

The total population of Ireland, when the Normans first entered it, can only be approximated by conjecture. Supposing the whole force with which Roderick and his allies invested the Normans in Dublin, to be, as stated by a cotemporary writer, some 50,000 men, and that that force included one-fourth of all the men of the military age in the country; and further, supposing the men of military age to bear the proportion of one-fifth to the whole number of inhabitants, this would give a total population of about one million.

During the half century which comprised the reigns of Edward I. and II. in England (A.D. 1272 to 1327), Scotland saw the last of her first race of Kings, and the elevation of the family of Bruce, under whose brilliant star Ireland was, for a season, drawn into the mid-current of Scottish politics. Before relating the incidents of that revolution of short duration but long enduring consequences, we must note the rise to greatness of the one great Norman name, which in that era mainly represented the English interest and influence in Ireland.

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