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The Anglo Norman

Early Waterford History

7. The Anglo Norman
The story of O'Rourke, Prince of Breffny, how he lost his wife, Dervorgil, who was taken away by Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, is often repeated in connection with the AnglNorman invasion, as if to throw a glamour of romance around the otherwise perfidious proceeding. O'Rourke appealed to O'Connor, King of Ireland for satisfaction. This chivalrous King attacked Dermot MacMurrough, took O'Rourke's wife from him, and other wise inflicted sundry punishments upon Dermot, which circumstance, it is said, so incensed the traitor Dermot that he flew to England to invoke the aid of King Henry II. in recovering his territory and to avenge his sufferings. Though the base treachery of MacMurrough towards O'Rourke may have been the beginning of his downfall, still, long prior to that circumstance, Dermot MacMurrough was guilty of so many gross and cruel deeds as should inevitably lead to his condign punishment Indeed sometimes is doubted whether the faithless, though afterwards penetential, Dervorgil had any effect in bringing about the Norman invasion, as the other acts of Derm6t would warrant the King of Ireland dethroning him as King of Leinster. Hated by all, upon the approach of an army led by Tiernan O'Rourke himself, MacMurrough made a precipatate flight to England, as the last resource of his profligacy.

Anglo-Norman and Flemings - It, no doubt, looks strange that we should style what is now known as the Engish invasion, by the title of Norman invasion, so that a popular work such as the "Guide to Waterford" an explanation should be given. The year 1066 saw England itself at the feet of the Normans. Upon the death of Edward the Conqueror, King of England, Harold became King but William, Duke of Normandy, in France, claimed Crown, and brought over to accentuate his title o60,00O veteran troops, who placed this Duke of Normandy on the throne of England by defeating Harold at the battle of Hastings. And William the Conqueror, as he is called, brought over Norman Knights in plenty from Normandy, to whom he gave vast possessions in England, and bestowed upon them all the governing power of the country. Hence, one hundred years after the battle of Hastings, in 1169,we find the invasion of Ireland by England styled the Anglo-Norman invasion, as composed of English and Normans.

The first record in the Annals of the Four Masters of this reads thus: -" In the year 1169 the fleet of the Flemings came from England in the army of MacMurrough to contest the Kingdom of Leinster for him."No doubt the Flemings, or, as they may be called, Dutch, on the warpath in those days; and evidently left their native country, Holland 6r Belgium, to accompany the Norman's, so as to share the rich booty in store for them in England. Hence the Normans, who came from England, are s6metimes styled Flemings by the old annals.

Dermot MacMurrough, inspired by revenge, had a busy time of it in England to advocate his cause. King Henry II heard him with seeming sympathy, and, no doubt, inwardly regretted that circumstances did not permit him to go in person with Dermot, and carry out his long cherished project of invading Ireland. But he did the next best thing; he licensed, so to speak, his subjects to aid the Leinster King, and of this license Dermot resolved to make the most. Henry issued a regular proclamation authorising his subjects to espouse Dermot's cause, and it is under this authority, or in pretence of having obtained the King's permission, that we have to introduce the name of Strongbow, with some other wellknown historical characters of the time, as the first invaders.

In May, 1169, three Anglo-Norman Knights, Fitzstephen, Mountmaurice, and Prendergast, landed with about 500 archers and men at arms at Barrow, near Wexford. For this event Dermot was, of course, on the look out. Thereupon he gathered 500 men and rushed to the assistance of his new allies for revenge, and after a short resistance captured Wexford, which he made a present of to the invaders, together with "two cantreds of land", known to the present day as the Baronies of Forth and Bargie, which land of Ireland was the first colonised by the English. Well may we pause as we exclaim, "what an extraordinary heritage of historical strife, suffering, misunderstanding, tyranny, has flowed from this first step upon Irish soil during the lapse of seven centuries!.

Strongbow - Strongbow is known as Earl of Pembroke, also, as Richard de Clare, his real name being Richard Fitzgilbert, but it is as "Strongbow" his deeds are more generally recorded, his latter cognomen being given him in consequence of his dexterity with the bow and arrow. Strongbow sent Raymond le Gros (modern Grace), in the beginning of May 1170, with ten knights and seventy archers as his advanced guard. Raymond, aided by Mountmaurice, settled down upon the small rocky promontory then called Dundolf, or Downdonnell, about four miles from Waterford, near Dondrone. The citizens of Waterford, aided by O'Faolan, Prince of Deisi, and O'Ryan, of Idrone, attacked the invaders with 3,000 horse. They were not only defeated, with the loss of 1,000 killed, but seventy of the citizens were taken prisoners, who were massacred by the Normans, their limbs broken, and thrown from the summit of a precipice into the sea, as a good beginning for the new adventurers. The discrepancy in the numbers in these battles might lead one to think that there must be very much superior valour at one side than the other, but it can easily be accounted for by the superiority of the weapons used by the invaders.

Meanwhile, Strongbow had his own army at Milford, where he received a command from King Henry II., who was jealous of his power, to desist from the invasion. But Strongbow, through some other pretence, appeared to know nothing of the King's command, and being eager for the fray, embarked for Waterford, on the 23rd August 1170. Being joined by Raymond le Gros, the siege of Waterford was begun. After two repulses a house, which projected over the walls, supported by props, was attacked by Raymond the props supporting it were cut away, when a large breach was effected in the wall, and the besiegers poured in, making a dreadful slaughter of the inhabitants. The time had now come when Dermot was to fulfil his promise to Strongbow. These were to give him his daughter Eva in marriage, and to confirm Strongbow and his heirs to the crown of Leinster as his dowry. So all chroniclers assert that Waterford is the spot where this interesting matrimonial ceremony took place, which was fraught with such dreary vicissitudes and such portentous evils to this country.

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