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Sunday, 20 July 2014

20 July 1398: The Battle of Kellistown/ An Cath Cell Osnadha was fought on this day. The battle was fought between the forces of the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles, and the English of Leinster led by Roger Mortimer, the 4th Earl of March.

The O’Byrnes and O’Tooles were surrogates for Art Mac Murrough Cavanagh who was the most powerful Chieftain in Leinster and recognised as a King amongst his own people. He used them to fight a proxy war against the English and thus avoid a complete break with the English Crown. Kellistown is situated in County Carlow between the towns of Carlow and Tullow.

"Here fell the heir presumptive to the English crown, whose premature removal was one of the causes which contributed to the revolution in England a year or two later."

Mortimer was none other than the heir to the Throne of England. He was also dignified with the titles ‘Earl of Ulster’ and ‘Lord Of Connaught’. His family arms [above] marked him as a member of one of the most powerful families in England. Ironically he was a direct descendant of Aoife Murchada, whose father King Diarmait Mac Murchada had let the English in back in 1169. Thus he was a distant relation of his nemesis Art Mac Murrough Cavanagh!

Mortimer had been created the King of England’s Lieutenant in Ireland in 1396 and held this position until the Irish killed him. His body was cut to pieces during the battle but whether this as a result of combat or mutilation after his death is not recorded. Curiously enough he had decided to engage in the combat dressed in the Irish style that is without body armour. There was at least enough of him remaining for his corpse to be brought back home to England where he was interred amongst his own people in Wigmore Abbey, Herefordshire.

King Richard II of England was so upset by the news he resolved to return to Ireland and settle matters once and for all with Art Mac Murrough. But his departure of his Country in 1399 to campaign in Ireland cost him his Kingdom as his domestic enemies rallied to the support of the future King Henry IV.

By the time King Richard got back to England his power had gone, captured and imprisoned he died a lonely and cruel death

An Cath Cell Osnadha was thus a battle of great importance in the history of two countries – England and Ireland.