Remembering Lord Brian O’Rourke – The lord of Bréifne

Last Update 2012-05-14 07:03:57 | Posted On 2012-05-14 06:45:12 | Read 8440 times | 0 Comments


Remembering Lord Brian O’Rourke – The lord of Bréifne


“Ó Ruairc claimed descent from one of the ancient kings of Ireland, and was remarked upon as a handsome and unusually learned Gaelic chieftain. He assumed leadership of his family in the mid-1560s, having assassinated his elder brothers, but his territory of west Bréifne on the border of Ulster soon came under the administration of the newly created Presidency of Connacht. His territory was centred on the banks of Lough Gill and in the area of Dromahair. Foundations of an O'Rourke tower house can be seen today at Parke's Castle, close to Dromahair.

Although the English knighted Ó Ruairc, in time they became unsettled by him. The English lord deputy, Sir Henry Sidney, described him in 1575 as the proudest man he had dealt with in Ireland. Similarly, the president of Connacht, Sir Nicholas Malby, put him down as, "the proudest man this day living on the earth". A decade later Sir Edward Waterhouse thought of him as, "being somewhat learned but of an insolent and proud nature and no further obedient than is constrained by her Majesty's forces".”

“Ó Ruairc remained unhappy with English interference in his territories, and he was also content to be described as a leading Catholic lord. After Perrot's departure, he assisted at least eighty survivors of the Spanish Armada - including Francisco de Cuellar - to depart the country in the winter of 1588, and was regarded as friendly to future receptions of Spanish forces. Although not proclaimed as a rebel, he put up a forcible resistance to the presidency - again under Binghams's command - and would not be bridled.

Ó Ruairc's demands against the government grew with the violence on the borders of west Breifne. In peace talks in 1589, he did accept the terms of a crown tribute that had been agreed by his grandfather, but resisted the composition terms of 1585 and refused to allow the formation of a crown administration in the new county Leitrim. Instead, he sought appointment as seneschal under the direct authority of the Dublin government, leaving him independent of Bingham. He also sought safe possession of his lands, a safe-conduct for life, and a guarantee of freedom from harassment by the president's forces of any merchants entering his territory. In return, the only pledge he was willing to give was his word. A member of the Dublin council, Robert Dillon of the Meath family, advised him to stay out - intimating that Ó Ruairc would be taken into custody if he came in and submitted to crown authority - and Ó Ruairc declined the government's offers.”

“O'Rourke was arrested in Glasgow, where the townsmen sought a stay on his delivery into custody, fearing for their Irish trade. The denial of their request caused an outcry, and the king's officers were cursed as knights of Elizabeth with the allegation that the Scottish king had been bought with English angels (a reference to the pension the king received from England).”

“On the 3rd of November 1591, O'Rourke was drawn to Tyburn. On the scaffold Miler Magrath, Archbishop of Cashel, sought the repentance of the condemned man's sins. In response, he was abused by O'Rourke with jibes over his uncertain faith and credit and dismissed as a man of depraved life who had broken his vow by abjuring the rule of the Franciscans. O'Rourke then suffered execution of sentence by hanging and quartering.”

Sourced from –


Log in or Register to Write A Comment

Your Name

Your Email Address

Your Comment Note: HTML is not translated!

Enter the code in the box below: