10 August 1316: The Second Battle of Athenry/ Ath na righ took place on this day. The English Colonists defeated the Irish in a very bloody battle.
This was one of the most decisive battles of the Bruce Wars (1315-1318). The numbers involved are unknown, and can only be estimated. But while it is doubtful that they were any higher than seven thousand (and even this figure should be treated with caution) the list of participants on the Irish side alone indicates that an overall figure of at least three to four thousand were involved. The English claimed that they took some 1100 heads from the Irish on that day.
Feidlilimidh O'Conchobhair the King of Connacht led a coalition of the Gaels to stop the return of William Burke, the Anglo-Irish Lord of Connacht. He had come back from Scotland to try and regain his lost lands in the western province. He gathered together a large and well equipped army from the colonists of Connacht and Meath. Richard de Bermingham led the English of Meath. O'Conchobhair also put together a formidable army drawn from North Munster, south Connacht & the kingdoms of Breifne and Meath. But whatever happened on the day of battle (and the record is very sketchy) the Irish met with Catastrophe. Feidlilimidh O'Conchobhair and Tadhg O'Cellaigh, King of Uí-Maine were among those that fell along with numerous other kings and chieftains of the Gaels.
Many of the men of Erin all, around the great plain
Many sons of kings, whom I name not, were slain in the great defeat
Sorrowful to my heart is the conflict of the host of Midhe and Mumha
Annals of Loch Cé
Another account states:
The Gael charged all day with desperate courage, but they were driven back by a line of steel, and mown down by the deadly English archers. Their standard was captured. Sixty chieftains were slain, including Felim and Tadhg O'Kelly from whom, the Gael expected more than from any man of his time."
‘So was quenched the greatest hope for a century of restoring a Gaelic kingdom. The defeat and death of Felim at once restored De Burgo’s Lordship…the O’Connor ‘kingdom of Connacht’ was henceforth but an empty name.’
A History of Medieval Ireland