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Annals :: 1500-1600

From Shrule and Kinlough being united to the Wardenship of Galway to soldiers billeting in Rosserrilly and the Friars hiding with the local population. .

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The Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. Joyce, on the 17 Aug., united the vicarages of Kinlough and Shrule to the Wardenship of Galway. There is no visible reason for this unification other than the Archbishop’s personal interest, being a native of Galway, in the growth of the Wardenship.There was objections to the annexation, appeals were made in 1514 and 1516 without success. However later two of the diocesan clergy, Meyler and Thomas Mc.Shonyn, having laid claim “to those living there”, obtained letters from Rome allowing their claim, under which they received all the fruits, rents and profits of the vicarages. The Warden and Vicars charged them with having obtained those letters fraudulently, having concealed the fact of the union to Rome.In January 1526, the then Archbishop Thomas Mulally having been consulted, by a decree annulled the adverse claims and confirmed the previous union.


The Dublin parliament passed the Act of Supremacy declaring Henry VIII to be supreme head of the Church in Ireland…The Oath of allegiance was made compulsory for all those who held state positions, and all the country’s monasteries and convents were suppressed.It took many years before this act had any effect in the Shrule area.In those days Dr. O’Mullally, archbishop of Tuam, died and Henry quickly appointed Dr. Christopher Bodkin as his replacement. The Pope at first agreed with the choice, but because of the final break from Rome, Papal sanction were never sent.


The major and Aldermen of Galway took the oath of allegiance, more because of fear than belief. The Warden and Vicars retained their faith.


The Pope appointed Dr. O’Frighil as Archbishop, but he never came to Tuam, leaving Bodkin in sole command of the archdiocese.


Henry VIII guaranteed to all Irish or Norman chiefs, who surrendered all their land and property to the Crown and submitted to it’s authority, a regrant of their possessions and a title corresponding to their status, so as to legalise their right to their property. Of cause this led to their subjection to the English Crown.One of the first Normans to accept the offer was the Upper McWilliam, who received the title of Earl of Clanricarde and lands of Galway up to the Blackriver.The Lower McWilliam of Mayo refused to bow the knee, the new Earl soon cast covetous glances on their territory.


At a provincial Synod in Galway the archbishop confirmed to the Collegiate Church all its benefits including Shrule and Kinlough.


Death of Henry VIII, life continued unaltered in the Shrule area and contrary to the law, monasteries and religious houses were still active, ie: Ross abbey, Killeenbrenan and Kilnamanagh.The “mayor, bailiffs, co-burgesses and commonalty” of the city of Galway petitioned Edward VI, requesting him to confirm the status of the Collegiate church but with him as supreme head instead of the “Bishop of Rome.”, obviously wanting to guarantee their possessions but when they listed them they omitted to mention Shrule and Kinlough though they listed the now deserted rectories and vicarages of Rahoon, Moycullen, Foranmore and Roscam.


In response to the citizen’s request a Charter of the King dated 29th. April 1551, was issued, whereby the collegiate church was seized by the king and the Catholic Warden and vicars were dispossessed. The Wardenship was re-established with the king as the head and was to be known as the Royal College. The rules and the possessions of the college were guaranteed.Shrule was mentioned in this Charter but again Kinlough was omitted


During the short reign of Queen Mary the position of Bishop Bodkin was put under scrutiny, Cardinal Pole headed the inquiry held in London, The result must have been favourable to the Bishop as he remained in charge of the diocese.Tuam is reported to have five suffragan sees: Clonfert, Elphin, Killala, Kilmacduagh and Achorny, Annaghdown diocese had by now officially disappeared.


Richard III succeded David as McWilliam of Mayo.


When Queen Elizabeth succeeded to the throne Bishop Bodkin was still in favour with the crown, he decided to undertake a visitation of the archdiocese to ascertain the state of the church.The resulting document shows:

Dermot O’Ruain as vicar of Shrule

John O’Dorcay as vicar of Kinlough

That the profits of both vicarages were usurped by William son of John de Burgo .That Shrule and Kinlough vicarages belonged to Cong monastery. The church in Moyne is also mentioned. The return of the catholic parishes of Kinlough and Shrule under Cong must have happened when the Wardenship was dissolved, Bodkin being acting Bishop for both Catholic and Reformed churches would have sanctioned the move and the Royal College having enough problems with the Catholics of Galway was not too bothered with Shrule or Kinlough.

The usurpation of profits mentioned came from the action taken by the Catholic clergy in anticipation of the church land and property being confiscated by the state.They tried to turn it into private property, in some cases leasing or granting the land to their friends or benefactors, in other instances claiming that the property had been donated to them personally and not to the church, hoping to return it to the church when the danger had passed.


MacWilliam claimed Moyne as his hereditary rights and in his territory. Although his father had sold it to Lord Clanricarde. The claim was that under the feudal system the land and castle could not be sold without the consent of the feudal lord or without royal sanction.It was ordered that the castle be surrendered to the Lord Deputy, Lord Sydney, pending trial.The Earl won this dispute but another arose between him and Walter FitzJohn about the same castle, which took until 1571 to settle. In 1585 the Earl was confirmed as owner of Moyne castle, this was the first Mayo castle to be won by Upper McWilliam of Galway.


(Text left as in original document)

Where a complaint hath bene made unto us by the Warden and Collegistts of St. Nycholas churche of Galway,that John Boorke,nowe Cheryfe of Connaght,and Walter and William Boorke Fitz Meyller,wrongfullt dispossessed them of the profitts and fruicts of the vicaradges of Srowher,Skryne in Tome,and Kenlagh….Shall hensfourthe in no wyse interupte or moleste the pls;of or in their quiet and peaceable possession and enjoying the vicarrodgs of Srowher…..

Archbishop office.Tuam.William and Walter Burke were William of Shrule and his brother. Catholic Shrule is again forced to pay dues to the reformed Collegiate Church.


Queen Elizabeth prohibits the public celebration of mass.


On a visit to Galway, the Lord Deputy, Sir Henry Sydney, appointed Sir Edward Fitton as first President of Connaught. He was a cruel and tyrannical man, devoted to the crown he wanted above all to confiscate Connaught for the Queen.


The Pope excommunicates the Queen.

The Battle of Shrule

Lord Thomond’s rebellion in Feb. 1570 forced Lord Fitton to retire into Galway and ask for help and he remained there for some time. The Lower Burkes rose also to rebellion, but did not submit when Lord Thomond was defeated.Fitton marched against them in June and began by laying the siege of Shrule castle. With him were Lord Clanricarde, about 500 Gallowglass of Clan Donnell of Leinster, of Clan Sweeny and of Clan Dowell , some artillery, three hundred cavalry, and some English foot bands. Feragh McDonnell of the Clooneen and Richart Barret of Kirennan were with him.The latter probably joined him more from hate of the Tirawley Burkes than from love of the Queen and her government.

McWilliam assembled his forces,in which were the sons of Oliverus. Sleigh Meyler Bourke, the Clan Donnell (minus Feragh) and the O’Flahertys. McWilliam’s brother, Walter Cluas le Doinin, was the principal commander of the Burkes.On the 21st June the Burkes occupied a hill near the English camp and formed themselves into a compact body for the assault, having dismounted their cavalry.

Fitton drew up his men with the Gallowglass into one body, keeping his cavalry in reserve. The charge of the Burkes was received with a volley of shot which did not stop them although many fell.In the close fighting that followed Sir Fitton and Captain Bassenet were unhorsed and wounded. Patrick Cusack and Calvagh McDonnell constable of the Queen’s Gallowglasses, and others were slain.

The Burkes were being driven back by the English companies, when the Gallowglass, except for one hundred of Clan Sweeny, broke and fled, pursued by all the Burke’s men. Fitton’s cavalry and some infantry then fell on their rear, causing many casualties. This went on for about two miles until the Burke commanders stopped the pursuit, regrouped their men and faced the English, who in turn stopped their attack and to everyone’s surprise drew off their forces.The Burkes having loss 300 men, including Walter Burke, Randall son of McDonnell and two sons of John Erenagh, also O’Kelly of Donamona, returned home.

Fitton,loosing 12 Englishmen and 40 Irish, could not pursue them into their country for want of powder. Back at the Shrule castle they put the garrison to the sword. They left the next day leaving ten horsemen under the command of Alexander, a Gallowglass, as guard.Soon Lord Clanricarde undertook the guard of the castle at his own expense.By the rule of war in those days, the victor had to hold the battle-field over night to ensure there would be no dispute on the outcome of the battle. Had the Burkes stayed they might have been able to claim full victory.

Although they lost the battle, some say on a technical point ,the Burkes effectively kept Lord Fitton out of their country.Lord Fitton later claimed boastfully to have won the castle of Shrule for the Queen.Shortly after McWilliam Submitted and made peace.


8th Feb. John, known as Shane McOliverus, was made McWilliam. It was reported that he was engaging Scots and other troops which was a natural course of action to maintain his new position.He also issued a rebuke to some of his clansmen for paying rent to Clanricarde.

9th March Lord Fitton wrote that they” had indicted all the gentelmen of Eighter Connaught and hoped to have half Connaught at the Queen disposal by Easter.”

May The Lower Burkes agreed to pay 200 marks yearly as a fine for their rebellion of 1570.

Summer Lord Fitton was occupied in Roscommon,McWilliam and his people keep the peace.

September The sons of McWilliam invade Galway, with a small troop, but were hunted out of it by the sheriff who pursued them to a ford beyond Shrule and killed five or six scores of them. This ford might be the one between Wakefield and Cloonbanaan, where local tradition said a battle took place there at about that time, with many being killed.

October Lord Fitton went into McWilliam’s country for five days. He had his own band, captain Collier’s band of foot soldiers and Malbie’s horses. He was accompanied by Lords Clanricarde and Thomond and others.They laid the country waste over an extent of 16 miles long and as many or more wide, destroying about 500 pounds worth of corn. They took nineteen towns and castles.


Death of Archbishop Bodkin who had succeeded so well in slowing down the tide of tyranny that, at that time, the reformation still had not touched the spiritual life of the people of Shrule parish. William Lally was appointed as Archbishop by the Queen, Rome decided to give him a chance to show his hand and waited.


Around that date the McSheoinin, descendant of John Mac William a younger brother of William Liath, were in possession of Moyne castle for a few years.

The division of Connacht.This document shows Shrule and Kinlough given as rectories and vicarages, Moyne as a prebent, on the North Killinbrenan as a rectory and vicarage,South-East “Thabbay of Kilnamanagh” is mentioned and farther west in Killursa parish “Rosriell by the grey freers” (Ross Abbey).


The Lord Deputy, Sir Sydney, visited Galway to assess the situation regarding the recent rising by Lord Clanricard’s sons. He then left the city on the 21st of September, and marched by Shrule to Castlebar, which was besieged by a force he had send in advance.

During the Lord Deputy’s visit to Galway, John son of Oliverus, the present MacWilliam and resident of Kinlough, went to visit Lord Sydney in the hope of securing protection against any further incursions into his territory by Lord Fitton.McWillam agreed to submit to the Queen by oath taken in the presence of the Deputy, to pay 250 mark a year to the treasury as a rent for his country, also to provide at his expense companies of fighting men when required. He further consented that the McDonnell, his tenants, should in future hold their land from the Queen.The Lord Deputy appointed an English Sheriff over McWilliam’s country, and, on the agreement being ratified, knighted McWilliam who then received the usual ceremonial presents.


William Burke of Shrule was elected Seneschal of Kilmaine at a meeting of clansmen.


Fitton was the subject of complaints by both Irish and Normans because of the atrocities he committed in the west. The Lord Deputy choose to ignore them, but at last in that year, it became evident to Dublin Castle that Fitton would continue to cause trouble and perhaps create anarchy in that area and he was unceremoniously removed from office. A much more considerate and human successor was appointed, and it seemed that our area would have some peace.

The Earl of Desmond sought to raise up trouble in Connacht and he and Dr. Sandars wrote to McWilliam, to Lord Clanricard’s sons, to Richard an Iarain (next in autority to McWilliam),to the Clan Donnells and McSwynes, urging them to join them in rebellion for the sake of church and country. None would join but Richard.158 years after the death of Archbishop Bodkin Rome appointed a Galwayman, Dr. Nicholas Skerret, to replace him.He was arrested but his family had him released on the pretence that he was a teacher and was going to open a school in Galway. A short time later he moved to Tuam, but with enemies all around him he had to leave. He was arrested again and put in jail in Athlone, where he suffered harsh treatment, he was released because of the intervention of secret influence, but with his health greatly impaired, he left for the continent, where he died in Lisbon in 1683 at the age of 37.


Malbie having returned from Munster, arranged with O’Connor Sligo and O’Rourke to join forces in Athlone and go after Richard an Iarain. On the 6th February they moved on to Athenry, whence they sent the captains of their forces to take Richard’s plunder. Then they went to Shrule where they met the Archbishop of Tuam and Lord Athenry on the 11th. The next day they left together for Liskillen… Eventually Richard “not being able to keep the field nor make any other resistance,abandonned the country and fled.”


Queen Elizabeth having received information that the friary of Ross was still in occupation, thanks to the protection of Lord Clanricarde, she granted the monastery to an Englishman (name unknown) who forthwith expelled the friars and plundered its library, books and other valuables.The Franciscans were sheltered in the humble homes of the people of Shrule and Headford, for a period of two years.


Sir John Perrot, Lord Deputy of Ireland, visited the town of Gaway. This “able and excellent man, who was renowned for valor and justice”, and noted especially for a “humane and equitable attention to the ancient native”, soon after his arrival divided Connaught into five counties, Galway, Sligo, Mayo, Roscomon and Leitrim ,and appointed a sheriff in each of them. He also appointed Lord Richard Bingham as president of the province.


The catholic clergy is banished from the realm by the Queen, also it is declared a felony to harbour a priest under penalty of death.

Ferragh McDonnell of the Clooneen, in respect of his service done to her Majesty’s side at the meeting (battle) of Shrule, received that castle and four quarters of his land free.It seems that he sold the property to Lord Clanricarde soon after.The McDonnells were Gallowglasses,mercenaries descendant from Alastair Oge Mac Donnell of Scotland, some of whom were engaged by the Burkes and given castles for accommodation, the castle of Mo- chora being one of them. They were tenants of the Burkes but also held land as buannacht fees for military services.Richard Barrett of Kyherrenan, for the same reasons, received two quarters of land in the said town of Kyherrenan free.William Burke of Shrule was given the town and castle of Cloghan in the barony of Kilmaine and eight quarters of land free and a further eighteen quarters subject to composition, in recognition for his submission to the Queen.

The ancient district of the Conmaicne Cuile Toladh was created the barony of Kilmaine.

The Earl of Clanricarde is now fully in possession of the castle of Moyne.


Ulick, third Earl of Clanricarde, purchased the “Englishman”’s interest in Ross Abbey and immediately reinstated the friars.


From about that date the Catholics of Galway reformed the Wardenship, they assembled in private to elect their Mayor, bailiffs, Sheriff, … who in turn elected the vicars, they in turn chose the warden, who made the clerical appointments to the various parishes, so Galway, including Shrule, had both a Catholic and a Protestant Wardenship.


A document of that date shows the rectory and the vicarage of Shrule belonging to the Royal College of Galway, the rectory of Kinlough to the Queen, the vicarage of Kinlough to the College and the church of Moyne to a John Lynch.The same document shows all the priests around Shrule to be of Irish descent and, according to Knox, most likely Roman Catholic. It seems that once the Royal College collected the profits of the vicarage of Shrule they were happy enough to leave the people of that area to their own practices.


Hugh O’Donnell toured McWilliam’s country, enlisting support for the war in which he was engaged, in alliance with the mighty Hugh O’Neill, against the Queen.


After the death of a ruling McWilliam, a great confederation of the Mayo Burkes was held, where all eligible candidates attended, and at which a new leader would be chosen by popular acclaim. Rath Easa Caorach, north of Kilmaine, was where they met.That year Hugh O’Donnell was to perform the inauguration ceremony. He was late arriving and while waiting the Burkes held council and elected William of Cloghan for the leadership. As O’Donnell still had not arrived, many decided to go home including most of William supporters. When O’Donnell arrived, he was infuriated that proceedings were conducted in his absence and he declared them null, appointing two leaders instead, Theobald Burke and William Coach.


The decision of O’Donnell was not popular among the Mayo Burkes and certain rumblings of discontent were felt by Dublin. Fearing a new outbreak of violence at a highly inopportune moment, the Lord Deputy sent a commission to our area to treat for peace. It was led by Lord Clanricarde but he had to retire for want of supply for his troops.

June A second commission for peace was sent at the Queen’s orders. It was led by the Lord General Sir John Norris and Sir G. Fenton, who were accompanied by a very large force.They were in Athlone on the 6th, then moved on to Boyle, finding no rebels there they went on to Moyne and Kinlough. The troops were billeted in the neighbourhood, the monastery of Ross was hastily evacuated by the friars and a company of soldiers found ample accommodation within it’s sacred walls. At the same time O’Donnell made camp on the North bank of the Robe. A battle would probably have taken place if not for a stroke of luck for Shrule area.The Lord Deputy, in Dublin, was planning an invasion of Ulster and required all available troops, so he ordered the return of the commissioners who left immediately with all their men.

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2 Responses

  1. 1871 changed to 1571 , let me know where the rest are 🙂
    Martin Ryan

  2. There are a few typos, the year “1871” being the most glaring. A review would likely find them and the few I came across elsewhere. This and the other pages I have read are quite good and even excellent.

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