It is time for the final post from Frank Parker’s archive and I am sure, that like me, you have enjoyed learning more about Irish History.
The Herefordshire Contingent – #1 de Lacy by Frank Parker
The name de Lacy provides one of the strongest links between Herefordshire and Ireland. In Herefordshire it continues in place names like Holme Lacy and Mansell Lacy. A large area immediately to the west of the parish in which I grew up was once called Ewyas Lacy.
The family were granted large areas of Herefordshire and Shropshire by William the Conqueror and remained close and favoured allies of the Norman kings. Hugh de Lacy accompanied Henry II to Ireland in the autumn of 1171 and was granted the “Lordship of Meath”. Meath at that time encompassed the modern Irish counties of Meath and Westmeath, as well as parts of Dublin, Kildare, Cavan, Offaly, Louth and Longford.
Most commentators believe this was done, at least in part, to provide a counter to Strongbow’s ambitions in Leinster. Both Strongbow and Dermot MacMurrough had ambitions to expand beyond its traditional boundaries.
Support for the king
In 1173/4 both de Lacy and Strongbow were summoned to support Henry II in subduing a rebellion by his sons in Aquitaine. By all accounts both acquitted themselves well in the ensuing battles. However, whilst they were absent from Ireland the Irish chieftains took advantage and the two knights found on their return that they had to fight to reclaim the lands previously taken.
Trim Castle; one of several castles commenced by Hugh de Lacy
De Lacy, who already had a number of castles in Herefordshire, set about securing his lordship of Meath by building castles across the region. The largest of these was at Trim but there were many smaller castles established by de Lacy. According to the website http://navanhistory.ie/ these included Castle Dermot, Leighlin, Leix, Delvin, Carlow, Tullaghphelim, and Kilkay.
It was castle building that was to become his undoing. One of the castles for which he was responsible was at Durrow in County Offaly. It was built on the site of a former Abbey and the construction of a castle on the sacred site was not popular with the native Irish.
Whilst Hugh was supervising building work there in July 1186 he was decapitated by an Irish man posing as a labourer but who had a battle axe concealed in his clothing.
Hugh had two wives (not simultaneously), both called Rose. His first wife, Rose of Monmouth, was a cousin of Strongbow. With her he had nine children, 5 sons and 4 daughters. Following her death he married Rose Ni Connor, the daughter of Rory O’Connor the High King of Ireland. She gave him a son and a daughter. Henry II did not approve of this marriage, declared the first child “illegitimate” and stripped Hugh of the role of governor of Ireland which the king had granted to him following Strongbow’s death. His disgrace lasted only for a year however and in the winter of 1182 he was back in place; this time jointly with Robert of Shrewsbury.
Like most men of his background de Lacy endowed religious communities and buildings. He was a benefactor of Llanthony Priory and several churches in Ireland, including the Abbey at Trim. Following Hugh senior’s death his sons Walter and Hugh continued his work in Ireland. Hugh Jr. had no children and Walter only one son. Walter’s grandson, also Walter, was the last in the male line. His female descendents included one who married Robert the Bruce and another who married a Mortimer, a family that not only inherited a portion of the de Lacy lands in Herefordshire but provides another strong link between that county and Ireland.
A huge thank you to Frank Parker for his fascinating series on Irish History. I lived in Meath for five years before we moved to Spain and the county is full of ancient and more modern historical sites.
About Frank Parker
I’m Frank Parker and I am a writer. I didn’t used to be. Like many people I always wanted to be. On several occasions during my career as an Engineer I produced stories that I submitted to publishers. I even had a writing job once. It involved talking to small and medium sized businesses and writing up profiles for a regional business magazine. To make any money you had to sell advertising to accompany the articles. Selling is not a skill that comes naturally to me so that job did not last long.
I returned to Engineering, working on chemical plants, refineries and power stations throughout the North and Midlands of England. In 1997 I joined a defence contractor as a project administrator, a job that saw me through until retirement in the autumn of 2006. I came to live in the Irish Midlands so as to be near my son and his family. And, now at last, I have the freedom to write.
So far I’ve self-published 4 novels and two collections of short stories. You can find out more about them here. My stories have also appeared in anthologies published independently in County Laois.
I have also pursued a lifelong interest in politics. Between 1985 and 1991 I served as a councilor in North East Lincolnshire. So you should not be surprised to find posts on my blog commenting on current affairs from a broadly Liberal point of view. The environment and the damage we are doing to it, from agri-chemicals and air and water pollution to climate change, has always been a matter of concern to me. As a councilor I argued the case for the local authority to purchase timber products only from sustainable sources.
Since 2013 I have been studying Irish history in an attempt to gain a fuller understanding of the turbulent relationship between that country and its near neighbour. It began when I discovered that among the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century were a number of individuals with a prior connection to the county in which I was born and grew up, Herefordshire. That discovery lies behind my historical novel Strongbow’s Wife which describes the invasion and its aftermath from the point of the view of the woman who married one of the most powerful of those leaders. You will find articles about some of the people and places involved by clicking the Hereford and Ireland History tab above.
For the past year I have been researching the background to the period in Irish history usually referred to as The Great Irish Famine. This work was prompted by a friend and together we hope to produce a book on the subject.
Books by Frank Parker
A layman’s guide to the worst man made disaster to afflict Great Britain, it’s causes and lessons for the future.
Whilst the British elites were celebrating the achievements of Empire, a million people died from lack of food and housing elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Is it possible for humanity to achieve the Liberal ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number or are Malthus’s predictions about the relationship between population and food production about to come true?
A recent review for the book
It is 1843 and Ireland is suffering as a result of the potato famine.
I’d always known there was a famine, but had never appreciated the true extent of the wretchedness it caused, or the manner in which it was exacerbated by the English authorities.
The infestation of the crop was devastating enough for the citizens of Ireland, but the situation was made much worse by sheer carelessness and selfishness of those in charge, driven by the greed and the thirst for power.
Once again the human race demonstrates hypocrisy and shows its ugly primal instincts, from the aristocracy controlling who owns what to government interventions designed only to benefit themselves and the better off.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, the stricken were emigrating in order to save themselves while others died of starvation, some even resorting to the pickings of a corpse in desperation.
How did all this come to pass? The book describes a combination of events, not least a catalogue of wars which were sometimes deliberately fomented to cause destruction. Religion, disease, greed and human suffering all played a part, not to mention an innate English sense of superiority and a land-grabbing attitude. Indeed, in the nineteenth century the bigotry of the English towards their closest neighbours was as pronounced as that towards the African ‘natives’ who were being similarly subjugated by Empire, as reflected in the comments of George Nichols, a Poor Law commissioner.
A Purgatory of Misery is an interesting and informative examination of a period in Ireland’s history which we all really ought to know about, but about which most people, myself included, are sadly ignorant.
Even some of my Irish friends knew little about the famine when I told them what I was reading, which I felt was rather sad.
This is a well-written and well-researched piece of history, although I suspect some people would rather not know about it. However, although ignorance might be bliss, knowledge is power.
If you have an interest history, and whether you are Irish or not, this book will be an eye opener from both a factual and a humanitarian point of view..
Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I
And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I
Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7834486.Frank_Parker
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