CONSTITUTIONAL methods of seeking relief from disabilities began to be adopted in Ireland soon after the accession of the Stuarts. The opening years of James’s reign were occupied with the task of settling and solidifying the structure of government for the whole island. Sheriffs were appointed by the viceroys; judges went circuit; and the new shireland of Ulster and Connaught was reduced to the political condition of the Pale. The deep line of division between the Pale itself and the rest of Ireland showed signs of entirely fading away, and from the total subjugation of the island there arose the consciousness of common Nationality. New forces too began to make themselves felt, Commerce with its wealth and enterprise gave life and energy to the cities of the South, three of which — Waterford, Cork, and Kilkenny — had at the accession of James closed their gates against the Royal heralds, refusing recognition of the new king until due guarantees of freedom should first be given, and although Lord Mountjoy had forced them into submission, these cities were still the homes and centres of National aspiration. The “New English,” as the Tudor colonists were called, had in some cases thrown in their lot with the Ancient Irish; “but the time was too short since their coming to blot out the distinguishing features of creed and race by which they were marked off from the natives and the amalgamated Norman-Irish. The new plantation in Ulster, largely Scotch, introduced another distinct element more separated by feeling and character from the old Irish than any of the previous settlers had been. “The Planters” were Puritans of the Geneva school, whose hatred of Popery was intense, earnest and consuming, and who, camped as it were on the confiscated lands, trusted only to their own weapons and their own bravery to hold at bay the houseless outcasts on the hills. Instead of three peoples in Ireland, as in Henry’s time, there were at the outset of James’s reign no less than five.
But the tie of common religious belief began to draw races and classes together, and the sentiment of faith overleaped all ethnic and geographical boundaries. The blending of races followed; and in three provinces Celt, Norman, Saxon, and Dane began to be merged in the common race of Irishmen. In these three provinces there was a strong desire for peace and quiet. Old hatreds had died out, and in very weariness everyone sighed for rest. Ulster was, and continued to be, the storm centre, and in the early days of James’s reign an insurrectionary movement would probably have been confined to the newly planted province with possibly some commotion here and there, but with nothing like a combined national uprising. The other provinces trusted to the justice of their demands, and hoped that the chains rivetted by the Tudors would be at once removed by the friendlier dynasty which had come to the throne. They approached the king with humble and respectful petitions, but they found that their prayers were answered by insulting allusions to plots and conspiracies in England with which the Irish Catholics had no more to do than the Waldenses. The bishops of the State Church in Ireland who at James’s accession showed the moderation born of pusillanimity and fear, now once more raised their “frowning foreheads” and began a new era of persecution. They had the power, and they exercised it ruthlessly, of issuing writs of excommunication which placed the victims outside the full protection of the law, and they were empowered by “writs of assistance” to call in the arm of the State to execute ecclesiastical decrees. These persecutions welded the three Southern provinces into one, and a nation in embryo was visible to keen contemporary observers. But Ulster was still raw and red after the wounds of the wars and the deeper wounds of the plantation.
In such a condition of things the first Parliament for all Ireland was called in 1613. Had this been a properly-constituted parliament the grievances of the times would have been gradually redressed, notwithstanding the opposition of the State bishops who held sway in the House of Lords, or the stringent hold on Parliamentary conduct secured to the Crown by Poynings’ Law. But this first Parliament of all Ireland was a mere mockery. The Catholic Irish by any known test of due representation were entitled to at least two-thirds of the seats. Sir John Davies, however, packed the House with “clerks, captains, and serving men,” and so secured his own election to the Speakership over his honourable rival, Sir John Everard. Men turned away in despair from Parliament soon after, and left to the irresponsible junto of State officials in Dublin the unhampered management of affairs. And so long as England kept clear of the whirl of European politics these unbridled rulers lorded it over Ireland. But when by Buckingham’s folly England and Spain were thrown into hostility in the last year of James’s reign Ireland became an object of great solicitude to the Government of England, and it was thought necessary to put on foot a standing army for its protection or retention. For this purpose money was needed, and although even in England the salutary principle that “redress should precede supply” was still inoperative it must always happen that redress is more easily obtained from a king asking for assistance than from one who needs no such help. Many proposals were made, but James’s death put an end to the negotiations. The difficulty was only postponed, however, and although Charles was much more thrifty than his father, the necessities of State compelled him to increase the Irish army fourfold, so that with all his economy the cost of the Irish administration advanced rapidly, and the ordinary revenue was inadequate to meet the State demands. The system of taxation in the English Pale was the system applied to all Ireland. It was a single tax, and that was a tax on land; so much per ploughland was assessed as it had been in England up to the time of Edward III. Such a tax was too meagre and too slow to meet the wants of the Crown; and in order to raise the required sum a voluntary assessment by Parliament could alone be relied on to satisfy the pressing demands upon the Treasury.
In 1628, therefore, a great opportunity arose once more for a permanent settlement of Ireland. Lord Falkland was Viceroy, and he was overflowing with professions of sympathy and friendship to the Catholics, who on their part were ebullient with loyalty, and only too ready and eager to respond with assessments and contributions to any appeal from the Crown. In such a temper both sides seemed to approach the consideration of public affairs; and for the first time it looked as if a great career were open to an able and instructed Irish constitutional leader. Such a leader was soon seen and recognised.
Roger Moore, or Rory O’Moore, of Ballyna in the County Kildare, was a scion of the princely house of Leix, Offaly which had been overturned in the reign of Philip and Mary, whose names in Philipstown and Maryboro commemorate the confiscation. In all accounts of the time we see him as a deep and thoughtful man of singular fascination and charm, to which a stately form and handsome face naturally contributed. He was a “travelled” man; had seen cities and men, courts and camps, senates and universities. A convinced Catholic himself, he was tolerant in a time of intolerance, and looked for National advancement, not in the lifting up of one ascendancy on the ruins of another, but in the purging of the State and statute book from all partiality and injustice. Guided by him and his father-in-law, Irish landowners and merchants entrusted agents in Parliament to make terms on their behalf, and he, with other Irish gentlemen of all creeds, fixed the basis of settlement early in 1628. In that session of 1628 arrangements were come to which, had they been faithfully observed by the Government, would have put Ireland in the wake of civilised and ordered life and not driven her back to the elemental weapons of nature. The Irish claims for redress were embodied in a list of “Graces” which his Majesty, “out of his own exuberant mercy,” was to grant as a token of royal recognition of his subjects loyalty. The main articles were: —
- The confirmation of titles to estates, notwithstanding mere formal flaws;
- Restriction of Monopolies; and Trade with England to be free;
- Billeting of soldiers to be restrained, and no one to be punished by martial law in time of peace;
- The unconstitutional Court of Castle Chamber not to hear private suits nor to tamper with witnesses;
- That surplice fees, tithes, and other exactions by the Protestant clergy be regulated by law and that “writs of assistance” be discontinued; and that Church lands should be liable to public burdens;
- That wholesale reprieves of convicted criminals be prohibited, and the royal prerogative be entrusted to impartial ministers only;
- That the exorbitant fees of sheriffs, officers of courts, and clerks of markets, be moderated; and
- That the grievous oppressions of his Majesty’s Roman Catholic subjects be mercifully considered.
It would have been well if the Irish Parliament had declined to vote supplies to his Majesty until these most pressing demands had been first passed into law. But there were three several parties into which the constitutional reformers were divided, the Leinster nobles, the Irish of the other provinces, and the Puritans of Ulster. To the moderate “loyalists” of Leinster it seemed unnatural that doubt or misgiving should be cast upon his Majesty’s gracious promises, and the representatives of the other provinces naturally hesitated before they put in peril what might have become a great measure of public redress. Lord Falkland solemnly promised full satisfaction of all the demands made by the agents; and relying on that promise the parliament on the 1st day of April, 1628, voted three annual subsidies to his Majesty’s use. Parliament was thereupon no longer necessary; nor would it be until the need of a further subsidy should arise. The Houses were accordingly dissolved, not one of the Graces having been carried into effect, and the Parliament had to content itself with a vague promise that the administration should be carried on in the spirit of the popular demands.
The Catholics had not long to wait before they saw the full value of these promises. Proclamations were issued on April 1st, 1629, against the exercise of any rite, ceremony, or observance of Catholic worship, on the alleged plea that, encouraged by the hopes of toleration the emboldened Papists had dared to quit their hiding places, and their priests had dared openly to celebrate Mass. When on the arrest of a priest in Dublin a great tumult took place, and an angry multitude rescued the prisoner, a cry went up from all sides that it was high time to apply strong measures to the unruly rabble, and their “Mass-Priests.” All schools and Mass-houses “were then closed, and no longer, even under decent and modest cover,” could Catholics acquire the rudiments of learning, or kneel in common worship before even the rudest of altars. But the Graces had not altogether fallen to the ground. The Puritans of Ulster had been relieved of many burdensome obligations by the intervention of viceregal influence, and they rewarded their Catholic allies by being the loudest in clamouring for more chains and lashes for the insolent Papists. But their time of trouble was near at hand, and they had soon again to turn to their despised fellow-countrymen for assistance and sympathy. It was no longer with petty and contemptible tyrants that Ireland had to deal; for all the scattered rays of despotism were brought to a focus, and the baleful star of Strafford rose in malignant majesty and overcast the whole land.
Thomas Wentworth, “the great apostate,” was the arch-enemy of Puritanism, which he looked upon as the religious counterpart of what he called “Tom Loodle’s commonwealth,” or government by the multitude; and when, as Earl of Strafford, he came to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant in 1633, Puritans and Catholics alike were brought under a more grinding tyranny than ever. His rule, however, was not without beneficent reforms. He established order within and without; remodelled the army, and regulated its relations to the people; guarded the coasts from the Barbary pirates; and abated the extortionate demands of State officials who had been long grinding the faces of the poor. He boasted that what he promised he always fulfilled, and in a sense he did fulfil the promise he made on his entry into Dublin to govern in the spirit of the Graces ; for when the servile and manipulated parliament of 1634-5 voted supplies for an indefinite time and so made Strafford absolute, he so far abated the evils complained of that he put an end to all irresponsible tyranny but his own. During his five years of unhindered despotism Strafford was harsh and overbearing; but there are no bitter memories of his rule in Ireland. He was the most impartial of tyrants, and his lust of power impelled him rather to strike down great criminals like Boyle of Cork, and Loftus of Ely, than the weak and defenceless victims on whom these men had trampled. Smitten by the ambition of becoming a great minister rivalling if not surpassing Richelieu, all constitutional checks and hindrances were naught to him; and the feeling of power was strongest upon him when sitting in Castle Chamber, he dispensed capricious justice, or when he gathered round him the officers of the new Irish army which to awe possible rivals he had raised and organised during the last years of his Viceroyalty. With undisputed power and with a mighty army he hoped to make the throne of Charles as absolute as that of Louis. His ecclesiastical policy was that of Laud, and he brought the State Church in Ireland into almost complete conformity with that of England, and thus necessarily put himself into conflict with the Puritans. In fact Strafford’s administration so pressed on Catholics and Puritans alike that the common sufferings of both combined them in political and parliamentary alliance once more. In Ireland constitutional activity was impossible during the five years of absolutism; but a great era of true parliamentary development was soon to open, and the Irish Parliament too was about to grow into the full consciousness of its dignity and trust.
Charles’s throne was threatened in 1639. Whether fomented by Richelieu or stirred by the sense of wrong, the discontented Scots had bound themselves into a Solemn League sworn to cure the wrongs of Scotland; and they made for themselves a provisional government, which they promised to obey until their grievances were redressed. The news of this great event flew over Ireland, stirring varied emotions and hopes. The Scots in Ulster, loudly summoned by their brethren, made no sign and showed no willingness to take part in the designs of their countrymen at home. But they were wild with exultation. Strafford on his part hurried up the Irish army, nine thousand strong, to Carrickfergus, despatched cruisers to Cantire, and made ready for a descent on western Scotland. Strafford’s army was for its numbers one of the finest in Europe. It was composed of young active men of splendid physique, who had been drilled by old seasoned veterans, and were now themselves panting for battle. They were mostly Catholics too, and had been drawn largely from the ranks of the evicted clansmen of Ulster. Stationed at Carrickfergus, they cut off all communication between the Covenanters on both sides of the channel, and their presence was resented keenly by the Ulster Puritans. In calling the troops to the north Strafford made ready for a bold and resolute policy. With the Irish army he meant to take Argyle and the Covenanters in the flank, while the McDonnells of Ireland were to stir their kinsmen in the Highlands to a great uprising in the king’s favour. Had Charles taken this bold course, or had he taken the equally bold and courageous course of conceding frankly what his Scotch subjects demanded, the tide of events might have rolled in his favour; but by untruthfulness and dissimulation he cast away the opportunity for war without having secured the prospects of peace. England was tired and weary of Stuart rule, and as the new democratic movement in Church and State swelled more and more in volume, the Scotch Covenanters found strong and determined allies among the leaders of the English democracy. Charles in his alarm endeavoured by shifts and artifices to evade the points at issue between himself and his Scotch subjects. But he was dealing with keen-sighted men who knew him well and who were not deceived by his blandishments and hollow promises; and when he was driven to arms by the resolute stand made by the Covenanters under Henderson’s leadership, the king had no choice but to summon parliament.
In Ireland, too, after five years’ interval, a new parliament was summoned. The Irish House of Commons presented during the years 1640 and 1641 a Stubborn front to the Executive, claiming for itself the direction of most public departments, the sole control over taxation and expenditure, and the regulation of trade; it reproved officials, and, flying higher, it brought the Lord Chancellor and other great ministers to the bar of the House of Lords under the revived process of impeachment. Roger O’Moore and Captain Audley Mervin were the two leaders of the Catholic and Puritan parties respectively, and all hopes of separating them were soon abandoned, as they were found in close and firm alliance against the party of the Castle. Agents from the Irish Parliament were despatched to London to present to the king and to the English House of Commons a Great Remonstrance, in which Strafford’s high-handed acts of tyranny were enumerated and particularised. This remonstrance was almost certainly the work of Roger O’Moore, and it was admirably calculated to draw Catholic and Puritan together. The evils complained of were general evils touching all alike, so that a mixed committee composed of Catholics and Puritans adopted it, and won a ready passage for it in the House of Commons. North and South seemed now united in Parliamentary opposition, and the work of O’Moore seemed at last to promise a rich harvest. An impartial hearing by king and Parliament in London would have brought his labours to full fruition.
But, unfortunately, both king and Parliament were no longer capable of impartial investigation. They were in conflict, though not actually at war, and each looked at the Irish question with partisan eyes, concerned mainly as to what the effect of any step might be upon the fortune of parties in England. The Long Parliament sided with the Puritans, and members were deeply moved by the doleful complaints of the Ulster planters. Unhappily, these complaints were levelled as much at the mercy shown to Catholics as at the peculiar burdens under which the Puritans themselves were suffering; and men like Pym and Hampden were ready in the name of liberty to rivet heavier chains and fetters upon the main portion of the Irish population. The Irish agents, however, stood loyally together, and when Strafford was removed from the viceroyalty, and his deputy Wandisford was ill, so that it became necessary to appoint Lords Justices to carry on the government, they expostulated against the appointment of Lord Dillon of Kilkenny West, and after a rather heated correspondence with the king and his advisers succeeded in carrying the point. But Puritan influence then overbore Catholic recommendations, and two fiercely-bigoted zealots, Parsons and Borlace, took up the reins which had fallen from the strong hands of Strafford. Puritan authority now ruled supreme, and muttered threats against Catholics were heard on all sides. Rumours of the wildest kind began to spread, and people talked of a great Scotch invasion which would end in a general massacre of all Papists. The panic increased when orders came for the disbandment of Strafford’s army, and heated debates took place in the Irish Parliament where Catholic lords and gentlemen protested against this step. And so too did the Puritans, who saw in a scattered army, unrestrained by discipline and smarting with ancient wrongs, a grave menace to the plantations. Impressed by these expostulations, the Government sought a remedy from a different quarter. Spain and England were on friendly terms; and Charles was ready enough to strengthen the hands of Richelieu’s enemy in recompense for the great cardinal’s alleged intervention in Scotland. The king accordingly made arrangements with the Spanish Ambassador for the transportation of the Irish troops to Spain, and orders were issued to the regiments to march to an appointed seaport, having first deposited their arms in arsenals chosen by the executive. When these orders came the wrath of the Irish House of Commons rose to the point of fever, and the king and his ministers were charged with the perfidious betrayal of the country to the hereditary enemy of England. None were louder in these denunciations than the Leinster lords, and most certainly they were sincere. But the Catholic members from the other provinces, inspired by Roger O’Moore, were equally vehement in their objurgations and protests. The opposition was too powerful, and the Government gave way. The regiments were stopped at the intended ports of embarkation, and the men were ordered to their homes. The order was a mockery; most of the men had no homes, and soon every little town was filled with stragglers and idlers from the disbanded regiments.
But meantime even the most moderate Catholics were abandoning all hope of Parliamentary redress. In the Parliament which had been called in the last year of Strafford’s viceroyalty, measures for the relief of Catholics had been assented to by the king and council, and only formal “testification” of that assent was needed. But the Puritan Lords Justices impeded in every way the introduction of such measures, and by delays, prorogations, and dilatory pretexts the remedial bills were put off, notwithstanding the continued protest of Catholic lords and representatives. Fourteen Catholic peers, with Lord Fingal at their head, had been sitting for weeks preparing amendments, resolutions, and remonstrances; but when they saw how the Lords Justices stopped Parliamentary business, they ceased their efforts and retired in disgust from constitutional action. Roger O’Moore too had given a full and patient trial to constitutional methods. As the first inspirer of an Irish Parliamentary party he was in a sense the precursor and prototype of our Grattans and O’Connells. Powerful within the House, outside the House he was simply idolised. Hopes rested on him alone, or as the people piously sung, their hopes were “in God and our Lady and Rory O’Moore.” He himself had aspired to redress some at least of the many grievances — Penal laws, Poynings’ Law, monopolies, and the system of trying cases by the Lord Deputy himself on paper petition,” thus ousting the courts of the land and unsettling all rights. So long as the House of Commons had any true existence, O’Moore thought it wise to assert Catholic influence in its sphere. But when the king betrayed the Irish administration into Puritan hands by surrendering all control into the hands of a committee of the English Parliament, his hopes of peaceful redress were finally annihilated. Henceforth he was to stand as the deviser and leader of a great national uprising. For many years he had been in communication with John O’Neill, the feeble son of the great Hugh, and had taken active part in all the attempts made by priests and soldiers to prepare the Irish for a war of national redemption. Now suddenly he held in his hand an instrument more potent than Parliament itself. Thousands of brave and daring soldiers were at large, and O’Moore took instant steps to organise them into secret battalions. They were unarmed; but the Castle of Dublin was bursting with “arms, munition and ammunition,” and if the Irish by a bold swoop once made themselves masters of that hated hold, an Irish insurrection must almost certainly succeed, even though the Irish troops abroad, or the Catholic states of Europe should fail to give assistance. Roger O’Moore was a keen observer and a most cautious man. Under his guidance it looked as if a united Ireland was about to do battle against a divided and distracted England.
Of all the Irish leaders at home, O’Moore alone comprehended and sympathised with the whole of the aims and aspirations by which the men of each of the four provinces were moved. Bound by affinity and blood to many noble houses of the Pale, O’Moore and his father-in-law, Patrick Barnewell of Killbrue, stood in the front rank of Catholic commoners. Like Barnewell and the Catholic lords, he would have been well contented with a free parliament and a free church under the titular sovereignty of the English king; and although he did not share with them the passion of loyalty to the throne, he would, like a chivalrous cavalier, have supported the throne against all enemies if imperative demands of patriotism had not made rebellion a bounden duty. With the outcast clansmen of Ulster and Wicklow he sympathised still more ardently, and his own scattered clan wafted from Leix to Kerry, and from Kerry to Connaught, clung with a wild fascination to the homes of their fathers, and made O’Moore readily understand how, in addition to poverty and hunger, heart-longing embittered the lives of the evicted. An accomplished scholar, he mourned over an intellectual race brutalised by an inhuman system of government and law, since to use his own words national genius can only blossom in the light of national liberty, and political emancipation is the only road to the emancipation of the mind. When he finally came to the conclusion that all hopes from constitutional activity were vain, he looked abroad for guidance, and early in 1641 he put himself in direct communication with Owen Roe O’Neill. He had already made an extended and minute tour through all Ireland. Afterwards he approached some leading members of both Houses of Parliament, one of whom. Lord Maguire, has left an account of O’Moore’s persuasiveness and skill which puts before us the work of the Irish leader during the year 1641: —
“Being in Dublin, Candlemas last was twelvemonth the Parliament then sitting, Mr. Roger Moore did write to me desiring me that if I could in that spare time I would come to his House (for then the Parliament did nothing but sit and adjourn expecting a new commission), and I answered that I would; and thereupon he himself came to town presently and I went to see him at his lodging. He spoke of the many afflictions and sufferings of the natives, particularly in the late times of my Lord Strafford’s Government, and he particularised the more ancient Irish natives as having suffered most, and how on several plantations they were all put out of their ancestors’ estates. All which sufferings, he said, did beget a general discontent in both bodies of natives, to wit, the old and the new Irish. And if the gentry were disposed to free themselves they could never desire a more convenient time, the distempers in Scotland being then afoot. He asked me what I thought of all this. I said such things were out of my element. He then told me the gentry in Leinster and Connacht had been sounded by him, and to gain Ulster I came, said he, to speak to you. Then he spoke of my narrow estate, overwhelmed in debt, and the greatness of the estates of my ancestors. He next spoke of Catholic religion, and said I fear, and so do all understanding men, this Parliament intends the utter subversion of our religion. By this persuasion he obtained my consent. The next day he invited Mr. Reilly and I to dine with him, and after dinner he began again the discourse. He showed the feasibility of the project, troubles in Scotland, disunion in England, a large disbanded army (meaning the army raised by my Lord Strafford), all Irishmen and well armed. He explained his plans. Each should endeavour to draw his own friends into the act. Next, word should be sent to Spain and the Low Countries, that a day should be set apart for a rising, and on that day we should seize all the arms on which we could lay hands. But nothing definite was to be fixed until we first sent word to the Irish over sea, and got their advice. Do not, said he, spend too much time in trying to win over the gentlemen to our side. If the Irish once rise, the Pale gentry will soon join or at least be neuters. Mr. Moore then said that next Lent he would make journey down into the North to know what was done there, and he spoke of a great man whose name we importuned him to give, and on long entreaty he told us it was the Lord of Mayo, and, said he, there is no doubt of him; no, no more than of myself. And we thereupon parted. The next Lent Mr. Moore went into the North; and, for that it was assize time, he readily met his friends. Neal O’Neill then came from Spain, sent by the Earl of Tyrone, with word that Cardinal Richelieu had promised succour, and that we should rise at All Hallowtide; but soon came news of Tyrone’s death, being killed in Catalonia. Mr. Moore thereupon directed the messenger to repair to the Low Countries to Owen Roe O’Neill and acquaint him and see what he should advise. And Toole O’Connolly, a priest (parish priest, I think, to Mr. Moore) was also sent to Colonel Owen Roe O’Neill. And we came to know from Barnwell, a friar, that gentlemen of the Pale and other members of the House of Commons had meetings and consultations how they might prevent attempts against religion. And many colonels and captains landed out of Flanders who were under colour of transporting the disbanded soldiers to Spain, to lead them together against the Castle, and with the arms there to arm those in the remote parts of the Kingdom. The colonels spoke much of the plans of Owen Roe O’Neill, how he had considered of four great obstacles and how they were to be overborne. First, If war ensue, where can money be found to pay the soldiers? Secondly, How and where they could obtain foreign succour? Thirdly, How to draw in the Pale gentlemen? Fourthly, Who should undertake to surprise the Castle, and how it should be done? To the first, it was answered: That the rents in the Kingdom everywhere, not having respect whose they should be, should be collected to pay the soldiers. To the second, it was said help would not fail. And (said the colonel) Owen O’Neill told me that he had or would procure arms (I do not remember which of these the colonel spoke, that Colonel O’Neill had arms or would procure arms) for ten thousand men. And (said he) I make no question, but if we send into Spain we shall not miss of aid. For I, being in London the last year in the Scots troubles, was in conference with the Spanish Ambassador, and talking of the troubles then afoot, he said: That if the Irish did then rise too and send to Spain, their messengers would be received under canopies of gold. To the third one of the colonels (Plunkett) said he was morally certain (these were his words) that the Pale gentlemen would join. For, said he, I spoke to many, and particularly to my Lord of Gormanstown, and they were all very ready and willing. Touching seizing the Castle, that was fixed after three or four meetings. Colonel Brian O’Neill came out of Flanders from Owen Roe with a message that a day was to be fixed and that he would be with them on notice of that day. And Owen had told him that he had seen Cardinal Richelieu twice that year, and had comfortable and hopeful promises from him. And Ever MacMahon told us that the Owen had always depended on French aid more than other. For, said he I remember shortly after the Isle of Rhé enterprise (1629), being in the Low Countries I heard for certain that the colonel did send to France to the marshall then commanding, and he received answer that they were willing and eager, but there were Italian wars afoot, which, when settled, they should see what could be done. But these wars lasted long, and the enterprise for that time failed. Later in the month Mr. Moore came to me and told me that another messenger had come from Owen Roe, ordering the rising without delay, and to let him know fourteen days beforehand, and he would be with us. And, said Mr. Moore, time is not to be over-slipped. Then we arranged the plan for seizing the castle. Sir Phelim, Mr. Moore, Captain O’Neill, Ever MacMahon, and myself did fix on the 23rd of October, being that the day, which was Saturday, was the market day, on which day there should be less notice taken of people up and down the streets.”
Roger O’Moore now made way for the chief to whom henceforth he gave his whole allegiance. The strength of the new movement lay in the leader abroad. Neither Roger O’Moore nor Lord Maguire nor Sir Phelim were military men. Of “the Five” who met to plan the attack on Dublin Castle two. Conn O’Neill and Ever McMahon, were special envoys of Owen himself from Brussels. The officer placed in general command in Ireland, Colonel Brian O’Neill, “came out of Flanders from Owen Roe” carrying full orders for the conduct of affairs. It was no longer to the feeble John, a mere nominal head of the O’Neills, that Irish patriots had to look; but to the worthy heir of a great name, a commander renowned on the fields of Europe. In the military rising now planned the sole director was Owen Roe O’Neill.