Taylor's Hill near Galway,
June 22nd 1839.

Dear Sir,

Before I begin Connamara I shall transcribe a few (extracts from) old papers I met here, which are very valuable as throwing light on Irish customs and dress.

The Lord Deputy of Ireland writing to the king on the 29th of August 1541, speaks of O'Donnell as follows:

The said O'Donnell's chief Counsellor desired me very constantly at his departing from me to be sewter to your Majestie for som apparaile for his master, if it may stand with your Highnes' pleasure to give him Parliament robes. I thynke it shall be very well bestowed upon him. For I think him furnisht of other apparaill better than any Irishman; for at such time as he mette with me he was in a cote of Crymoisin (Crimson) velvet with eggletts of gold xx or xxx payer (pair). Over that a greate doble cloke of right Crymoisin saten garded with black velvet; a bonette with a fether set full of eggletts of gold that, methought, it strange to see him so honorable in apparaill and all the reste of his nacon (i.e. tribe) that I have seen as yet so vile.

This is not unlike the description of (King) Cormac Mac Art as given in the Book of Ballymote; but there is this exception - that O'Donnell seems to have laid aside the


Torc. Perhaps indeed the Torc belonged to a monarch only.

It appears from a paper in the State paper office that Surveys were made of Ireland in 1540 and 1541 by Baron Welshe, and that they were sent to be lodged in the Castle of Dublin. Could you ascertain whether these Surveys are still in existence, or, if not, what has happened them?

We are working very much in the dark without a copy of Pope Nicholas's taxation, a copy of which could be so easily procured. It is the most curious monument of the ecclesiastical divisions of Ireland now extant, and without it there must be a great chasm in the series of our research. A copy of Pope Nicholas's Taxation is preserved in the Chapter house at Westminster, each diocese on a separate Roll, with the following notice of the time of its being deposited there:

Hos Rotulos simul cum aliis Rotulis de Tax. Bonorum et beneficiorum Ecclesiasticorum totius (tocius) Hiberniae recepit hic ad Sc (an) cm Walterus Exoniae Episcopus tunc Thes. primo die Octobris anno regni Regis E. filii Regis E. xvio. in quadam Bagā (a bag!) sigillo Sca. cii Dublin. Consignato per manus Willielmi de Lughteburgh, nuncii Domini Regis eandem Bagam sub Sigillo predicto deferentis et eam dicto Thes. ex parte Thes. et Baron. dicti Sca. cii Dublin liberantis.

A good Scribe would copy the entire of Pope Nicholas's Taxation in six weeks, and we are working very much in the dark without it.


I am tempted to copy a part of a letter from the Lord Deputy St. Leger to the King, written (at Maynooth) on the 6th of April 1543, because it describes the Gallowglasse and Kerns of more distinctly, and as I am persuaded, more accurately than any account of them as yet published. This letter goes on to state that he (St. Leger) had heard a report that his Majestie was about to go to war with France or Scotland, and requests to know the King's pleasure if he should raise a body of native Irish soldiers to attend him in the invasion of France.

But in case your Majestie will use ther service into Ffraunce your Highnes must then be at some charges with them ffor yt ys not in ther possibilitie to take that jorney without your helpe; for ther ys no horseman of this lande, but he hathe his horse and his two boyes and two hackeneys or one hackeney, and two chieffe horse at the leste whoose wages must be according. And of themselffes they have no ryches to ffurnyshe the same. And assuredly I thinke that ther ffeate of warre whiche is for light scoorers ther ar no properer horsemen in Christen grounde nor more hardie, nor yet that can better indure hardeness. I thinke your Majestie may well have of them ffyve hundred and leave your Englishe Pale well ffurnysshed. And as to ther ffootemen they have one sorte whiche be harnessed in mayle and bassenetts haying every of them his weapon called a sparre moch like the Axe of the Towne end they


be named Galloglasses and for the more part ther boyes bere for them ther thre (3) darts a peice, whiche dartes they throw er they come to the hands strife; these sorts of men be those that do not lightly abandon the ffielde but byde the brunte to the death. The other sorte called kerne are naked men (of armor!) but only ther sherts, and small cotes, and many tymes whan (quando) they come to the bycker but bare nakyd saving their shurts to hyde ther prevy by, and those have dartes and shorte bowes which sorte of people be bothe hardy and clyver (clever) to serche woddes or morasses in the which they be harde to be beaten. And if your Majestie will convert them to Morespikes and handegownes, I thinke they wolde in that ffeate with small Instructions do your Highnes greate service, ffor, as for gonners ther be no better in no lande than they be for the nomber they have, which be more than I wolde wishe they had onles that were to serve your Majestie. And also these two sortes of peoples be of suche hardiness that ther is no man that ever I sawe that will or may endure the paynes and evill ffare that they will sustayne ffor the sommer when corne ys nere ripe they seke none other meate in tyme of nede, but to scorke or swyll the eares of wheate and eate the same and water to ther drinke. And with this they passe ther lyves and at all tymes they eate such meate as ffew other


coulde lyve with.

This curious letter ends thus:

Trusting that your Majestie woll, at some tyme remember your poore slave (why not dutiful servant?) that nowe hathe ben three years in hell (why not purgatorie?) absent from your Majestie, and call me againe to youre preasence whiche is my joye in this worlde.

In the report of Robert Cowley to Cromwell on the state of Ireland, the following families are placed in the County of Galway, east of Lough Corrib:

Then from the O'Brenes (O'Brien's) Country to the King's Town of Galway, is but xii myles and therein inhabiteth Mak William and the Bourks of Clanrickard, strong herdymen (hardy?) and of high stature, and nameth themselves of the kyng's blode and were Ynglish and bereth hate to the Irishry, so that so long as they will acquite them well it were good to accept them bynding them not slowly to withdrawe from the maintenaunce or soukering of the Brenes (O'Briens), but also to do their uttermost against them and all others of the Irishry, which I thinke veryly they will perform.

There are of the Irisshry in that parties, O'Kelly and O'Maddeyn to whom these Borkes beareth (bear!) mortall grudge that therefore the same armye with the said Irle and Borkes


exile them, buylde and enhabyte accordingly.

Extract from a letter to the King from the Lord Deputy and Council, dated 25th Novr. 1544,

There is a castle or pyle sytuate on the remote partes of this your realme, marching as well upon the Mac-y-Bryne Ara's as the O'Mollryans and aye (?even) to the River of Shenan in a very barreyn and waste soyle, which was of late inhabited with a septe of theffes and outlawes called properly The Olde Ivill Children, by reason whereof few or none of your Grace's subjects in effect could passe or travayle between your Highness Counties of Lymarick and Waterford, but either they were spoyled, robbed or kylled on your highway betwixt both.

What tribe must they have meant by the olde evill children?


I hope you will see about Pope Nicholas's Taxation, which is a very important record of Ecclesiastical Ireland in 1291.

Mr. P. O'Flahety's boats will be at Galway in a few days and I intend to go in one of them to Arran, after which you will not hear from me for about nine days.

Your obedient &c. Servant,
John O'Donovan.