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Annals :: 1600-1700

Religious persecution , invasion and transplanting of Irish to Connaugh .

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The Cordara lands, part of the patrimony of the Friary of Ross, were granted by the Crown to a John Kinge of Dublin.

11 August 1607

On that date an inquest made before the Master of the Rolls,Sir Anthony Sentle and the Second Justice of the Common Pleas, Peter Palmer, defined the County borders for Galway, as they stand today.

“…and now returninge where we left, we followed the saide meare from the river of Conge into Lough Corb, including Inchevicketryer and from thence to Carra-Inriddery there that goeth out of the lough,on the east side, into the river Owen-Dafferush (Black-river), and so on to Moyne,and from thence agaynste the streame to Srower,then to Clowne-Sheana….”

The stream mentioned here between Moyne and Shrule does not exist anymore, during the drainage scheme in the sixties the river was straitened and that stream dried up, leaving the townlands of Cullagh, Anlacka and Cloonbanan seperated from the rest of the parish by the river.


4 April Richard, Earl of Clanricarde, purchased the castle of Mocorha.

James I granted to John Kinge and to John Bingley:

“One moiety of the tithes great and small of the rectories, churches, chapels or parishes of Kilmainemore, Shrule, Kinlough, Kilnebrenin, Kilmainebeg.”

“The church, chapel or rectory, tithes, …, of Templecolman in the town of Shrule. A small parcel of land called Ramelin in Shrule.”

So the Royal College of Galway losted the control of Shrule and Kinlough parishes and only the catholic Wardenship, then an underground institution, was looking after the spiritual welfare of those two parishes.


About that time Richard, Earl of Clanricarde, leased some land south of the river to Pierce Lynch of Galway, and it was there in Shrulegrove that he built his “castle”.That same year we find John Burke, son of William, in occupation of the old Shrule castle.


The friars of Ross were reported to the then Lord Deputy, Chichester, who ordered William Daniel, Protestant Archbishop of Tuam, to arrest the community, six priests and two lay brothers, and to destroy the altars. The learned Archbishop sent word to Ross of his coming and advised them not to be there.On his arrival the friars were in Kilroe, part of the Wardenship and outside the Archbishop’s jurisdiction.The friars remained there for fourteen year dependant on the generosity of their neighbours.


The Friars re-occupied Ross, on the promise of grace to Catholics from the crown.


Walter Burke, son of John and grand son of McWilliam of Shrule, mortgaged the castle of Kinlough to Sir Valentine Blake of Menlo, thus marking the end of the Mayo Burke in our parish. Ballycurran in the possession of Edmund Burke of Cong in 1585, later had been granted to Earl Clanricarde and the same seems to have happened with Ballisnahiney castle, let by the Earl to a Mac Sheoinin.


The Lord Deputy Strafford surveyed the province of Connacht. Juries were set up to establish the King’s right to the land, and instructed to find in favour of the King which they did from fear. The Galway jury went against the Crown, they were jailed and replaced by another one .The Mayo jury, sitting in Ballinrobe in July of 1635, had no problem finding in favour of the King’s claim.

After this legal farce Protestant planters were introduced in North Mayo and other places, Shrule seems to have escaped this plantation possibly because it already officially belonged to Protestants ie; Lord Clanricarde, J. Kinge and J. Bingley.Soon after that the Catholics of north Mayo, having lost half and in some cases three quarters of their land, took violent actions. The English sent troops to The area to stop the rebellion spreading to Galway, the soldiers were billeted all over the barony of Kilmaine, causing great hardship to the population who had to lodge and feed them for free.


Edmund Bourke is found to be in residence in Shrule Castle, he was not of the same lineage as the McWilliams. He probably subleased the place from Pierce Lynch and he was said to have been dispossessed of his properties in North Mayo.


The massacre of Shruel (Shrule bridge) When the great insurrection, or civil war, broke out in October 1641,the English Protestant settlers of North Mayo fled for safety to the castles of some of the principal men in the county. Among these refugees was Dr. John Maxwell, the Protestant Bishop of Killala since 1640. He, his wife and three children, and some servants, first fled from Killala to Sir Henry Bingham’s castle at Castlebar, but that castle was surrendered by Sir Bingham to Myles Burke, 2nd. Lord Viscount Mayo, who had joined the insurgent Irish. Lord Mayo brought the English refugees to his own castle in Belcarra,where he supported and protected them for some time. He then made arrangements to escort them to Shrule and there deliver them over to another escort from County Galway.Accordingly ,on the 9th of february 1642, he, his eldest son Sir Theobald Burke with 5 companies of soldiers, escorted the refugees numbering about 100 persons, toward Shrule which they reached on the evening of the 12th.

Lord Mayo had the refugees well taken care of that night.The next day, Lord Mayo send home four companies of the soldiers and gave over the custody of the refugees to the remaining company of soldiers commanded by one Edmund Burke, brother of Walter Burke of Cloghan in Kilmaine, with orders to escort them into the county of Galway to Kilnemannagh where the Galway escort was to meet them. Lord Mayo directed his son to accompany the escort, and provided Dr. Maxwell and his family with horses. Then he left with two or three men for Cong to shelter from the weather. He was scarcely out of sight when Edmund Burke and the escort fell upon the refugees. Dr. Maxwell and his wife were stripped naked and the Bishop was wounded by a blow to the Head.Lord Mayo’s son did the best he could to prevent the massacre but the soldiers threatened him, and would have killed him if not for one John Garvey of Lehinch, brother in law of Edmund Burke the captain of the escort, who took him forcibly in his arm, carried him over the bridge and put him on a horse making him ride away.

The killing went on for three hours, until Ulick Burke of CastleHacket and the friars of Ross abbey arrived with help to rescue the survivors, about 40 of them, Dr. Maxwell and his familly stayed at Castlehacket and were seen by a doctor, while the others were lodged in houses around Headford and cared for by the Friars. Lord Clanricarde, sent a strong escort to convey the Bishop and his familly to Galway and later on they were taken by boat to Dublin.

19 Feb. 1642 A letter from the Earl of Clanricarde.

“I received yesterday a large relation of inhuman and barbarous massacre of the poor English, from Pierce Lynch, my tenant in Shruell, who was an eye witness of that cruelty being done upon and on each side of the bridge before the castle; the number of English: one hundred,he affirmed it was done by those in the county of Mayo and who, being before with my Lord of Mayo, would fain have lodged within my castle…..”.

He also relates that the Bishop of Killala, his wife and some of his company were preserved by Ulick Burke, of Castlehacket,who sent carriages to convey them to the castle, being sick and almost starved and some others were kept alive in other places thereabouts. If any in this county had a hand in that work, I shall hazard much to give them their due punishment.

1642 + After the wars of 1641 the ravage caused by the wolves were so great throughout Ireland that they attracted the attention of the state. Wolf hunters were appointed in various districts, including Mayo, who helped to rid the country of these ferocious animals. The last one known to be killed here was in the mountain of Joyce country in the year 1700.

Galway had been peaceful and prosperous for many years but with rebellion all round them the inhabitants of the city started to reinforce their defences. The “official” Major declared that they would defend his majesty to the utmost of their power. On the other hand the catholic Major and corporation, backed by the catholic Warden and vicars, emerged from the shadows and vowed:

“to uphold, maintain and defend, to the utmost of their power, the Roman Catholic religion; and that they would not willingly do, or suffer to be done, any harm or prejudice to any Roman Catholic that shall join in this union”.

They also declared “that their sovereign Lord King Charles to be the lawful sovereign, Lord and King of this Kingdom”.

So the two parties had a common bond of loyalty to the crown and the main stumbling block was their faith, specially the Oath of Supremacy.Shortly afterwards the people, whose fathers a century earlier had passed a by-law “that neither O’ ne Mac shall srutte ne swaggere thro’ the streets of Gallway”, made an alliance with Murchadh O’Flaherty, who was at the head of a considerable force of Irish insurgents, and invited him to come to the assistance of the Catholics of the city. They also appealed to the Catholics of Mayo, both Irish and Anglo-Irish to come to their aid, in defence of their faith.

October 1642 The General Assembly of Catholic of Kilkenny appointed a Supreme council with six members for Connacht: Dr. Malachy O’Queely, Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. John de Burgo, Bishop of Clonfert, Lord Mayo, the same that was in charge of the convoy to Shrule earlier that year, Patrick Darcy, ancestor of the Darcys of Ballybacagh, Houndwood and Gurteen, Sir Lucas Dillon and Geoffrey Browne.Lieutenant-General John Burke was given supreme command of the Catholic armies in Connacht.


Marching through Shrule with his Mayo forces and adding to his numbers on the way, John Burke arrived at Galway where the Protestants under Captain Willoughby, beseiged by land and sea, were soon forced to surrender. Willoughby and his men were ordered to leave the city by boat in June.Shrule parish shared in the rejoicing at the deliverance of the Catholic Wardenship from it’s shadowy existence.

The Warden was Dr. Walter Lynch, for the country parishes four priests are mentioned, Frs.William Gormuilly, Thomas Lany, James Sheoy and Teige Davilly but we do not know which one was in Shrule.

Dr, O’Queely, Archbishop, took back the possession of Tuam cathedral. To mark the celebration he presented a beautiful gold chalice to the Franciscan of Ross, now back in full strength and freely serving the area around the abbey and Kilroe.


A confederate force, after capturing Sligo, was defeated in a surprise return attack from the parliamentarians and Dr. O’Queely was captured on the shore of Lough Gill and put to death.Sir Charles Coote, in command of the protestanta that day, was made president of Connacht as a reward.Dr. Maxwell was appointed Archbishop of Tuam, he died in 1647 .

The Papal Nuncio, Rinuccini, arrived in Kilkenny the same year, he favoured the Irish and so incurred the opposition of the Anglo-Irish. In great displeasure he left for Galway were he found some small support for his views.While the Nuncio was in Galway a proposal was made to appoint a native of Flanders as Abbot of Shrule, but as Rinuccini soon left the idea was abandoned.


For nine months Galway held against Cromwell’s forces, the last bastion of the confederacy to be holding, but want of provisions and approaching famine forced them to surrender.The old corporation was dismissed and replaced by English protestants, Major and Officials.

That year Theobald Burke, who had been made 3rd. Viscount Mayo on the death of his father Myles in 1649, was taken prisoner by the cromwellian soldiers for his innaction on the day of the massacre at Shrule bridge. He was executed in Galway in January 1653 for his alleged complicity.It is reported that the soldiers appointed to kill him missed three times, “but at last a corporal, blind of one eye, hit him”. No one else was ever charged.


There was a shortage of coin in Irlande during that period and merchants were given licences to mint tokens. Patrick Lynch of Shrule obtained one of this licences and made a coin showing his name on one side and Shrewell marked on the other side.

12 May 1653

“Declaration touchinge the poore Upon serious consideration had of the great multitudes of the poore, swarming in all part of this nation, occasioned by the devastations of the country, and the habit of licentiousness and idleness which the generality of the people have acquired in the time of this rebellion, insomuch, that frequently some are found feeding on carrions and weeds, some starved in the highways, and many times poore children, who lost their parents, or deserted by them, are found exposed to, some of them fed upon by, ravening wolves and other beasts and birds of prey…..that subscriptions shall be taken….for the relief of poore children…”

Dublin : Ch. Fleetwood , J. Jones , Ed. Ludlow , Miles Corbet

29 June 1653

Because of the increase in the quantity of wolves found in most part of the country, the Dublin government ordered the persons in charge in all districts to use any ways and means at their disposition to destroy them. Also payment per head of wolve killed was to be increased to:

  • a bitch 6 pounds
  • a dog 5 pounds
  • a cubb that could kill a prey 40 shillings
  • a suckling 10 shillings.

1 July 1653

“Order touching poore vagrant Upon consideration had of the multitude of persons,especiallie women and children,wandering up and down the country,that daily perish in ditshes, and are starved for want of relief. It is thought fitt that such women that have able bodyes to worke, and such children of about 12 years, whose husband or parents are dead or gone beyond the sea, or who have no friends to maintain them, or means of their owne to preserve them from starving, may be taken by the overseers of the poore, and to prevent the said persons from starving, the overseers are hereby autorised to treat with merchants for the transporting of said persons into English plantations in America.”

Dublin 1 July 1653


Armed troops rounded up to one thousand people, in and around Galway, on an alleged charge of vagrancy and had them transported as slaves.


The new Governor, Colonel Peter Stubbers, appointed previously as Major of Galway passed an order that: “all the Irish and other popish inhabitants should be forthwith removed out of the town in order that accomodation should be provided for such English Protestants, whose integrity to the state would entitle them to be trusted in a place of such importance”. This and other orders started a mass exodus, bringing more catholic background’s to Shrule parish, the Burkes of Castlehacket were expelled to Ower, their estate given to a Cromwellian who sold it to the Kirwan family, another Kirwan of the same family moved to Dalgan park, the Blakes and the Frenches moved to Moyne and Toorard, the Joyces to Kinlough, the Darcys to Ballybocagh, Gurteen and Houndswood, the catholic Pierce Lynch was removed to Ballycurran from Shrulegrove and replaced there by the protestant Ormsby and Edmund Skerret was replaced in Headford by the Cromwellian St. George. Most of those properties in Shrule parish belonged to Lord Clanricarde who was dispossessed at the same time by the Cromwellian commissioners.


To hell or to Connaught.

Order for transplanting

To his highness Lord Protector, his council for the affair of Ireland. Barronies in the province of Connaught, and the county of Clare, appointed to receive the inhabitants of certain countyes in the other three provinces; so that the transplanted persons may receive suitable lands, as near as may be, in quantity and quality to the places from whence they are removed……….

The inhabitants of the counties of Downe and Antrim, to be transplanted into the Barronys of Clanmorris,Carew (Carra) and Kilmaine, in the county of Mayo.

Dublin 12 Feb. 1655

This order was the reason for the second large settlement of people from Ulster in our parish.


The Catholic clergy in Galway having been reduced to next to nothing, the Cromwellians then turned their attention on the surrounding country. In August it was the turn of Ross Abbey to be marked for destruction, a rider, having travelled all night from the city, warned the Friars and the 141 holy men made a hasty departure only a few hours before the coming of Stubbers and his troops.

The soldiers enraged that their intended victims had escaped, searched the Abbey for loot but found none. Thinking that treasures may have been hidden in the tombs they opened them, dragged the coffin out and smashed them, leaving the remains in a heap. They also broke the crosses, destroyed the pictures and dismantled the altars.Tradition says that from the tower of Ross they saw the church of Kilroe, so they went there and knocked down the south wall and let the roof collapse.On returning later, the Friars, reluctant to move the remains of their dead, brought some earth from their nearby gardens to cover them, and that mound could be seen for a very long time after, near the West door of the church.

As it was not safe to stay in the Abbey many friars were harboured by John Burke of Ower,previously of Castlehackett, posing as servants in his house.Tradition also tell us that Kinlough ceased to function as a parish from that same year and that the church there was destroyed by the Cromwellians. Teampall Cholmain and Moyne church continued to serve the people while the friars of Ross did the same in Kilroe.


The restoration of the monarchy brought an air of general relief, specialy to the protestant royalists, the catholics being more wary. Charles II complimented the Galway peoples for their loyalty to him during the “nine months siege”, he also promised the return of all properties to the natives.In fact it was his protestant supporters who received priority for reinstatement, many catholic claims to former possessions being refused on the flimsiest of excuses.Lord Clanricarde ‘s claims were more succesful, Shrule was granted back to him in 1663, and the friary of Ross in 1664, and under his protection the friars once more returned and rebuilt the abbey. During that period the castle and lands of Moyne and Ballicurran were also regranted to Lord Clanricarde.

Dec. 1665

Because of the large quantity of wolves being killed and a shortage of money, the Mayo peoples petitioned the Council of state that they might be at liberty to reduce the payment per head. This was granted.


Charles II, yielding to the urgings of his Protestant advisers in Ireland, commanded by royal proclamation the departure from the kingdom of several of the “popish clergy” of Galway, and that the Major there “ is to do his duty in seeing them transported.


Intensification of the persecution of Catholics throughout the country, but this does not seems to have affected our parish.


The crowning of James II, a Catholic, brought immediate relief to the persecuted, in Galway a Catholic Major is elected, Sir John Kirwan of Castlehackett. lord Clanricarde was appointed governor of the city and the Catholic Wardenship was once again restored, by royal charter, Fr. Henry Browne being chosen as warden. Shrule is found to be contributing one quarter of it’s tithes to the maintenace of the wardenship , Kinlough is not mentioned confirming that it has now ceased to exist as a parish.


James II is forced off the throne by his daughter’s husband, William of Orange.


Balldiarg O’Donnell descended from a branch of the Tyrconnell familly,he was born and educated in Spain where his familly fled from persecution in 1607.A prediction that a descendant from that familly, bearing a red mark,would free the country from the yoke of the English, was well known at the time.Balldiarg was sent for, and when he landed in Limerick in September 1690, several thousands flocked to his standard.Regretfully Balldiarg did not appear to possess any aptitude for leadership.

During the battle of Aughrim he remained inactive at the house of a Mr. Miller of Ballycusheen, although he had a party of a 1000 men position at Headford, Ballinrobe and other parts of the country. Those troops , when they heard of the result of the battle, were for retreating to the mountains.With no sign of the English coming, Balldiarg, at the demands of Dr. Lynch titular Dean of Tuam, instead of going to the help of Galway, the only place where he could have done some good, sent a body of troops to pillage and burn Tuam, under the pretext that they were getting ready to welcome the English.

He himself proceeded towards Cong,where he remained in the mountains until after the fall of Galway, when he joined the English army, having accepted a commission, and assisted at the taking of Sligo.


The Wardenship of Galway is once again handed over to the Established Church.


The Parliament of 1695 can be pointed out as the start of the Penal Times and the years that followed as the “silent century”. The lack of written documents is described by some as the proof that at last everything has settled down and that with the new found peace came prosperity, a sort of no news = good news principle. In fact written records by/from catholics were highly dangerous to keep and often proved veritable death warrants if found. The hardest hit were the Catholic Clergy who became so scarce that parish bounbaries were disregarded and the few priests available did their best when and where they could.


The Franciscans are banished from Ross Abbey and once more are seeking refuge with the locals.


That year Dr. Lynch, Archbishop of Tuam was in hiding in the Neale, later he had to escape to France where he died.

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