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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

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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 by Edmund Curtis