Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Knockdoe (1504): the archaeological & historical significance of one of Ireland's great but forgotten battles

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Knockdoe (1504): the archaeological & historical significance of one of Ireland's great but forgotten battles

John Jeremiah Cronin & Damian Shiels

Project Background
Galloglass © Claíomh & Niamh O'Rourke 2013
In 2007 the Department of the Environment, Heritage& Local Government launched the Irish Battlefields Project. This ambitious undertaking that sought to look at all the battles fought in the Republic of Ireland between the 8th century and 1798, with a view to determining how many were locatable in today’s landscape. An advisory panel developed a set of criteria to determine what a ‘battlefield’ constituted, while Rubicon Heritage Services Ltd and Eneclann Ltd were appointed to carry out the archaeological and historical research. Over 200 potential battlefields were examined, and a large number were eventually mapped.

One of these was the battlefield of Knockdoe, county Galway. This often overlooked battle, fought on 19 August 1504, is in fact one of the most significant engagements to have taken place in Ireland, and is also, in a European context, of great archaeological significance. The battle was fought on a low, but locally prominent, hill of the same name in the parish of Lackagh/Turloughmore, 16 kilometres north-east of Galway city, near the town of Claregalway. This hill is surrounded on all sides by flat, low-lying land, with the River Clare meandering to the east and the south. Today it is a quiet agricultural landscape; the largest nearby settlement being the village of Carnoneen, on the southern slope of the hill itself. A castle and church to the south-east of the hill are among the monuments in the area that were present at the time of the battle. It seems likely that, aside from the addition of some field boundaries, the landscape today is much as it was 500 years ago.

Historical Background
Looking South West from the summit of Knockdoe
This battle took place at a time when the island was divided between two cultural groups. The native inhabitants of Ireland, known as the Gaelic Irish, dominated much of the north and the west of the country at this time, and the descendants of the Anglo-Norman invaders of the 12th century (who many historians now refer to as the 'Old English'), who dominated most of the south and east of the island. Both communities had, of course, become somewhat intermixed with each other after centuries of interaction (though levels of intermingling varied from place to place) and they also supplied the vast majority, if not all, of the troops in this battle. Consequently, Knockdoe is described in some textbooks as the largest battle between Irishmen in history. This is understandable, though it should be pointed out that many of the combatants, specifically those who came from the Old English community of the Pale (Dublin and the area immediately surrounding it), despite the previous centuries of intermingling, would have took offence at being described as Irish. Indeed, the Old English community still recognised the monarch of England’s claim to be lord of Ireland at this time, and would do so for many generations after.

Despite this problem one can still say that Knockdoe involved a very large number of troops raised within the island of Ireland. Its importance was not lost on the local community; many folktales from the locality attest to the lasting impact of the battle on the local populace, and the local heritage organisation have held a number of commemorative activities over the last years. Indeed, the townland name itself (Knockdoe in Irish is “cnoc tuagh”, literally “the hill of axes”), may come from the military axe, the favoured fighting instrument of the galloglass, the professional military caste of medieval Ireland. These particular soldiers made up a considerable part of both armies at Knockdoe.

Near-contemporary accounts of the battle are found in a number of Gaelic Irish annals, including the Annals of Loch Cé, the Annals of Ulster and the Annals of Connacht. The Annals of the Four Masters also has a description of the battle. The most detailed account is to be found in the mid to late-sixteenth century composition, the Book of Howth, being a chronicle of the St. Lawrence family, Barons of Howth. The St. Lawrence family was represented in Kildare’s forces. There are significant differences between the Gaelic Irish accounts and that found in the Book of Howth. The former chronicles are principally concerned with giving poetic and dramatic accounts of the numbers involved and the casualties suffered, though they make little comment on the political and military significance of the battle. The Book of Howth depicts the battle as an Old English victory over the Gaelic Irish. It is even critical of Kildare’s Gaelic allies and portrays Clanricard as a full member of the Gaelic Irish community.

The chief protagonist on one side was the royal Lord Deputy Garret Mór FitzGerald, 8th earl of Kildare, the major magnate of Old English descent in the island at the time. Garret Mór Fitzgerald had succeeded to the aforementioned earldom in 1478 while in his early twenties, following the death of his father. He rose to significant power on becoming earl as he was immediately elected the English Crown’s temporary governor of Ireland by the Irish royal council in Dublin. This appointment did not last long, as the Yorkist king, Edward IV, replaced him with a more experienced English politician soon after. This loss of office was a short-term one, however, as within a year he was re-appointed to the post, following a period when the House of Kildare refused to co-operate with royal government in the Pale. Garret Mór remained as viceroy until 1494. Henry VII’s seizure of the English throne from the House of York in 1485 created serious problems for Garret Mór. The earl was a staunch Yorkist and in 1487 he provided significant support to Lambert Simnel, the Yorkist pretender. Simnel’s cause failed following defeat at the battle of Stoke, a clash where Garret Mór’s brother Thomas was amongst the dead. Garret Mór remained on as royal governor, however, as he was too powerful to be removed. The next year, 1488, saw the earl of Kildare swear loyalty to Henry VII. When another Yorkist pretender, Perkin Warbeck, appeared in 1491 Kildare did not openly support him, but Henry VII removed the earl from office the following year as a precaution. Other governors tried to fill Kildare’s shoes with varying success, and in 1495 one of them, Edward Poynings, accused Fitzgerald of obstructionism and treason. This led to Fitzgerald’s commitment in the Tower of London that year, but a show of resistance by his supporters and allies in Ireland, both Old English and Gaelic, caused Henry VII to reconsider. Charges against the earl were dropped by 1496 and he was re-appointed as the crown’s lord deputy in Ireland. He held this office until his death in 1513. Between 1496 and his death Garret Mór did much to uphold and even extend royal power in Ireland and the campaign that led to Knockdoe arguably represents the height of Garret Mór Fitzgerald’s political and military power in Ireland.

Garret Mór, while he was of Old English lineage, had familial connections to the Gaelic Irish community in Ireland, and in some ways he shared in Gaelic culture. That being said, Garret Mór often distanced himself from the Gaelic Irish community when it suited him. This cannot be said of Ulick De Burgo, head of the McWilliam Uachtair, or Clanrickard Burkes. He was Garret Mór’s rival and was the other major protagonist in this battle. Like Fitzgerald, he too was of Old English descent, but his family had become gaelicised over the previous centuries. The use of the alternative gaelicised surname, McWilliam, by this dynasty attests to this.

Galloglass axe © Claíomh & Rob Hunt 2010
Ulick De Burgo became the lord of Clanricard in 1485. While not as large a figure on the historical stage as Garret Mór, he was still a significant magnate. Garret Mór, for one, clearly recognised this as he married a daughter, Eustacia, to this western lord. In the two decades before Knockdoe De Burgo concerned himself with three things: maintain the longstanding alliance between the O’Briens of Thomond and the Clanricard Burkes (and he attacked the earldom of Desmond in 1485 to do this), keeping the O’Donnells of Tyrconnell out of north Connacht (something which took up his first decade as earl), and increasing Clanricard Burke hegemony in the rest of the province. De Burgo pursued this latter policy throughout the late 15th and early 16th century, to the detriment of those Gaelic Irish and Old English families around him, including another branch of the De Burgo family in Connacht, the Mayo McWilliam Burkes. He also pursued his family’s interests at the expense of the towns of Galway and Athenry, two Old English urban centres which, despite their remoteness from the Pale, were notable for their loyalty to Crown government in Ireland. In particular, De Burgo began levying tolls on Galway city’s trade. Then, in 1503, the death of the leader of the Mayo McWilliam Burkes presented De Burgo with an opportunity to encroach upon the territory of the former’s allies, the O’Kellys of Uí Maine (Hy Many), in east Galway. The leader of the O’Kellys, Melaghlin O’Kelly, was also a political client of Garret Mór Fitzgerald, however, and he now appealed to this patron for assistance. The earl of Kildare consequently began preparations to move against De Burgo.

Garret Mór may have had other reasons for challenging De Burgo. For one, despite his marriage to Eustacia Fitzgerald, Ulick De Burgo had proven to be somewhat of a problem for the House of Kildare. Most notably, Clanricard was an ally of the Fitzgeralds’ traditional enemies, the Butlers of Ormond. As the royal lord deputy, moreover, Kildare may have felt obliged to defend the liberties of the towns of Galway and Athenry. Furthermore, tradition states that Eustacia returned to her father about this time with tales of mistreatment and cruelty. If she did, though, it may not have been because of marital discord, but may instead have been a gesture of support for the House of Kildare.

Nevertheless, whatever his reasons for it, Garret Mór (or Kildare, as he shall be referred to from here on) decided to react to Ulick’s (henceforth, Clanricard) aggrandising policies by preparing a military move against his western rival. This decision led directly to the battle at Knockdoe.

Troops
Kildare’s forces at this battle included the muster of four counties from the Crown-controlled region of the Pale, two bodies of men from the towns of Dublin and Drogheda, as well as his own retainers and galloglass from Kildare. The employment of galloglass here is significant. Aside from testifying to his dynasty’s adaption to Irish circumstances, the use of such troops by Crown forces had been forbidden in the statutes of Kilkenny. In addition, Kildare was aided by many Gaelic lords from the northern half of Ireland. These included Hugh Roe O’Donnell of Tyrconnell and some of the O’Neills, the O’Conor Roe, the McDermots of Moylurg, the McMahons from modern-day county Monaghan, the Magennises, the O’Reillys of Cavan, the O’Farrells of Longford, the O’Hanlons of Armagh, the Mayo McWilliam Burkes, and the O’Kellys. There were also, allegedly, 120 of the Crown’s forces in Ireland, consisting of 40 spearmen and 80 archers, amongst Kildare’s army, though some scholars have raised doubts about this. Clanricard’s allies were mainly Gaelic chiefs from the southern half of Ireland. They included O’Brien of Thomond, the McNamaras, Ely O’Carroll, the O’Kennedys from the lordship of Ormond, Mac I Brien of Ara, as well as by some minor branches of the O’Kellys.
One of the most interesting aspects of the battle of Knockdoe is that the troop-types and weapons we see at it bridge the medieval and early modern periods. The Old English part of Kildare’s army consisted of archers under Viscount Gormanstown and Baron Killeen, Bill-men under St. Lawrence of Howth and cavalry under Lord Delvin (though sources make it clear that there was cavalry in both armies, most of the fighting was done by foot soldiers, and it is even likely that the cavalry dismounted to fight). Yet, Kildare was also one of the first major proponents of firearms in Ireland, and he also brought at least some of the relatively new handgunners with him.

A significant part of both armies, (indeed, the majority of Clanricard’s force) was drawn from the Gaelic Irish community. These troops included lightly armed Gaelic Irish troops known as kerne, and the great professional soldier caste of Gaelic Ireland, the galloglass. Literally meaning foreign young men or foreign young warriors, the galloglass had first come into Ireland from the Scottish Isles as early as the 13th century. Over the following centuries these men had established themselves under the patronage of different Gaelic Lords, first in Ulster but soon spreading to other parts of the country. Among the most famous galloglass septs were the MacSweeneys, the MacDonalds and the MacCabes. These imposing warriors usually operated in battalions of 80 fighting men, with each Galloglass supported by two lightly armed retainers who carried darts. The galloglass themselves were noted for their height and imposing physical appearance. They wore long mail shirts and padded jackets together with an iron helmet. Their most notable possession was their long-handled axes, which they wielded with deadly skill in the service of their Lords.

In all it is thought Kildare commanded some 6,000 troops at Knockdoe; an army of this size would not be seen again in Ireland until later in the century. Clanricard’s force which faced them was probably about 4,000 strong.

The eve of battle
Galloglass axe © Claíomh & Dave Swift 2009
According to the Book of Howth, Kildare’s forces arrived in the vicinity of Knockdoe on the evening of 18 August, and held a council of war 20 miles to the east of the hill. Here it was decided to give battle. Kildare declared his intention to use his own galloglass in the main part of the battle. Historians differ as to why he did this, largely because the text in the Book of Howth is unclear. Hayes-McCoy used the interpretation put on one crucial passage of the Book of Howth by the 19th century editors of the Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts. These editors transcribed one sentence in the following way: ““Well,” said the Earl; “call to me the captain of the galoglas, for he and his shall begin this game, for it is less force of their lusts than it is of our young men.” Hayes McCoy took the words lusts to means “lustys” and interpreted the sentence, somewhat awkwardly, to mean that the lusty galloglass would require less force to overcome their enemies than the young men of the Pale.

Other historians, however, including this one, prefer to interpret the controversial word as “losses”, and not “lustys”, for a number of reasons. First, other present-day historians, who have seen the original text, prefer to read the word as “losses”. Second, the editors of the calendar of Carew manuscripts acknowledged in a footnote that the word in question could be read in another way (they gave this alternative interpretation as “lostys”). Third, reading the word as losses gives us a much more straightforward sentence, which is easier to interpret and in keeping with the general anti-Gaelic Irish tone found in this account of the battle. ““Well,” said the Earl; “call to me the captain of the galoglas, for he and his shall begin this game, for it is less force of their losses than it is of our young men.” Finally, this interpretation of the sentence fits in better with what follows, more of which a little later. In short, this reading of the text means that in order to reduce the losses amongst the Old English contingent, Kildare ordered that his galloglass should bear the brunt of the attack.

Regardless of why Kildare made this decision, the Book of Howth goes on to say that the galloglass commander was delighted, as he saw it as an honour. Some Old English nobles supposedly objected to Kildare’s decision, however, believing that the forces from the Pale were superior to those of the enemy and that their casualties would accordingly be slight. Lord Howth reportedly exclaimed that “I will be the beginner of this dance, and my kinsmen and friends, for we will not hazard our English goods upon the Irish blood”. In other words, the Irish posed little threat to the Palesmen, so there was no need for Kildare’s galloglass to start the fighting. Howth also reportedly insisted that the Irish and Old English forces not be intermingled. These remarks, if actually made (remember, the Book of Howth was composed about half a century after the battle), may have been motivated by two major concerns. The first of these was the ethnic hostility and rivalry referred to earlier. Simply put, although Gaelic Irish and Old English lords were fighting with each other in both armies, there was a certain amount of distrust and disdain between both communities. The Palesmen, for their part, did not hold the fighting prowess of their Gaelic neighbours in high regard, and therefore probably felt that Kildare’s caution and protection of their lives was unnecessary. They also clearly wanted to be distinguished from their Gaelic allies. The concept of honour may also have played a part. If the Old English nobility and gentry insisted on starting the battle then this was probably because they wanted to add to their own military reputations and good names by having a greater part in the fighting.
Troop positions and topography at Knockdoe.
Source: G.A. Hayes McCoy, Irish Battles (London, 1969), p. 51

The battle
The following morning Kildare’s men drew up in line of battle atop Knockdoe hill. They used a wall of some two feet in height (this had previously been erected by local to protect their corn crop) to anchor their position. This wall extended across Kildare’s front, and turned off towards the right wing of his army. His cavalry, many of whom would have been armoured, may have dismounted to fight on foot. His deployments saw the cavalry on the left, with archers immediately to their right. The centre consisted of Old English billmen, and this may also have been where Kildare’s galloglass were located, though the Book of Howth does not mention this. The right of Kildare’s line was formed of his Gaelic Irish allies, a force of kern and galloglass, supported by more archers. It thus seems that Kildare kept the Old English soldiers and the troops of his Gaelic Irish allies apart. This deployment of troops apparently allowed the centre and the right of Kildare’s line to shelter behind the wall.

Kildare’s archers were commanded by Viscount Gormanstown and the Baron of Killeen respectively, the billmen in the centre were commanded by St. Lawrence of Howth, while the cavalry were commanded by Lord Delvin. Kildare also had a reserve force guarding his baggage train in the rear, under the command of his 17 year old son, Garret Óg. The arrangement of Ulick De Burgo’s forces was simpler. His infantry was drawn up in one great line facing the centre of Kildare’s army. His cavalry was on the left, facing the right wing of Kildare’s army and the wall.

It is suggested in the Book of Howth that Delvin led Kildare’s cavalry in an initial sally against Clanricard’s forces, though this may be a later interpolation into the text. Be that as it may, Clanricard initiated the battle proper, by sending his galloglass forward to attack Kildare’s line. The Galway Earl tried to conform his line to match Kildare’s dispositions, drawing up his infantry in one long line across from the Great Earl’s centre, with his cavalry on the left. This was met by a hail of fire from Kildare’s archers (and presumably his handgunners), dropping large numbers of the advancing galloglass. They were unable to drive Clanricard’s galloglass off before they hammered into the centre of Kildare’s line, however. Soon, both sides were engaged in confused, hand-to-hand, melee fighting. There was little tactical sophistication at play here – both sides would pummel each other until one or the other broke. The long handled axe, the preferred weapon of the galloglass, was not ideal for this type of situation as it was not suited to close combat, and this probably put Clanricard’s forces at a disadvantage here against Kildare’s billmen. Beyond this, there is little evidence for any manoeuvring on the battlefield by either army.

Single combat
The site of St. Columbkille's Church near Knockdoe,
a site extant during the battle
The various chronicles do suggest that a certain amount of challenges to hand-to-hand combat were issued in the course of the battle and these were taken up. A MacSwiney captain of the Clanricard galloglass, for instance, defeated an Old English magnate, Sir William D’Arcy of Platten in such a fight. MacSwiney was subsequently killed by Baron Nagle of Navan in another combat soon after. Such instances of single combat in a battle context are more often associated with the ancient past and mythology. One has only to think of David and Goliath, Cuchulainn and Ferdia, or Achilles and Hector. Yet, single combat, or at least instances of challenges to single combat, in a medieval/early-modern battle would not have been unusual. The most famous instance in a late medieval context is that involving Robert the Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Examples of such challenges also occurred on the continent both at this time and afterwards. The commander of the parliamentarian forces challenged his royalist counterpart to single combat before the battle of Edgehill during the English civil war, for example. The recording of these instances would not have been unusual either, as to contemporaries they would have reflected well on the military prowess and honour of the combatants, and on their communities.

Victory and defeat
The view to the west from the crest of Knockdoe
Engaging as they are, these individual duels would not have decided the battle. Instead, the fighting continued unabated for many hours, pitting kern and galloglass against kern and galloglass, and galloglass against billmen, until at last Clanricard’s force began to be forced back. They eventually broke, always the most disastrous occurrence for any army of the period. Once one side began to flee, the slaughter proper began. The killing continued as far as Claregalway and to the banks of the Clare River. Folklore suggests that a number of skirmishes took place along this river’s bank.

At the moment of victory, though, it appears that Garret Óg Fitzgerald left his post and abandoned Kildare’s baggage train to pursue the fleeing enemy. This left the baggage train open to attack from Clanricard’s cavalry, which still had not abandoned the battlefield, and they took the opportunity to ransack Kildare’s supplies. Hayes McCoy surmises that this cavalry force did not participate in the battle proper, but had instead ridden around Kildare’s forces and had fallen on them from behind. This seems to have been the only major setback for the victor’s army, however.

Casualties were heavy on both sides, with some accounts stating that both sides suffered equally, though, given the fact that Clanricard’s army broke and fled, this seems unlikely. The annals of Loch Cé, typically of all the Irish annals, states that a large number of the Old English and Gaelic nobility were slain. The Book of Howth implausibly states that 9,000 men died. A more conservative, and believable, estimate puts the casualties at about 2,000 men, though Hayes McCoy asserts that this may also be an over-estimation. Interestingly, the figure of 2,000 casualties comes from a compilation of the antiquarian JamesWare’s works, known as the history andantiquities of Ireland, published in 1705. Ware was dead by the time this work came out and historians now accept that the 1705 compilation was not the most accurate rendering of his writings. Ware’s Rerum Hibernicarum contains his original account of Knockdoe and was published in 1664. This puts the dead at Knockdoe at 4,000, though it provides no information on where this figure comes from. In this account Ware also cites an excerpt he had got from the white book of the exchequer (destroyed in 1610) which claims that no Englishman died in the battle. John Marsden, in his recent book on galloglass, uses it to support his contention that the Old English took no part in the fighting. It is hard to know what to make of the white book of the exchequer’s claim, though. English in this context could refer to the 120 Crown troops reputedly at this battle (and it is not implausible that, assuming they were there, they all survived the encounter). Equally, it could refer to Old English soldiers from the Pale, as Marsden believes. Given that all accounts agree that there were heavy casualties on both sides in the battle, and that the Gaelic Irish annals say that nobility and gentlemen from both communities fell in the fighting, this seems unlikely. In should also be remembered that the book of Howth mentions that the Palesmen were anxious to fight before the battle, that an Old English gentleman fell in single combat and that various Old English commanders led different parts of the forces involved in the fighting. Given this, while galloglass clearly took the lead in most of the fighting, it is hard to support the assertion that they were the only combatants. Ware, it should also be said, described the claim about English casualties in the white book of the exchequer as “wonderful and almost incredible”.

The immediate aftermath of Knockdoe
Afterwards, Kildare’s forces marched to Galway, where they were welcomed and feasted by the town’s corporation. The Fitzgerald coat of arms was reputedly placed on Lynch’scastle to commemorate Kildare’s victory. A number of prisoners and hostages were also taken by Kildare after this battle, two sons and a daughter of Ulick De Burgo being among these. Clanricard himself, though clearly humiliated by this setback, was not subjected to any personal punishment.

According to local tradition and folklore, those who died in the battle were buried in the nearby townlands of Ballybrone and Anbally. Some believe that the former locality got its name from the grieving that took place there after the battle. The tradition that some of those slain at Knockdoe are buried at Anbally is linked to an old burial mound in that area.

Political significance
Signage at Knockdoe
The extension of royal power in the Ireland and the ending of Clanricard Burke influence over Galway city, and even Athenry, are attributed to this battle. Yet, it would seem that Kildare also had personal dynastic reasons for fighting this action, and he was fortunate to escape the Royal wrath for using his position to engage in what some deemed to be a private row. Yet, having won the day, Henry VII rewarded him with further grants of land and he may have also become a knight of the Garter in 1505 because of this. Yet, despite this, the size of the battle and the high level of casualties, there was no long-lasting political or strategic outcome. The Clanricard Burkes, though their expansion halted, continued to be significant players in Connacht afterwards. The O’Briens of Thomond continued to thrive also. Indeed, they even defeated Kildare at O’Briens’ Bridge, on the border of county Clare, in 1510.

Military/tactical significance.
It should be noted that Lord Delvin had promised during the previous day’s council that he would be the first to throw a spear at the enemy. This casting of spears was a feature of Gaelic Irish warfare and not of Old English warfare, and it clearly suggests that some Gaelic modes of warfare had by this time been adopted by the Palesmen. Knockdoe is the first Irish battle in which a handgun is known to have been used. It is said to have been carried by a Dublin soldier, who used it to bludgeon an enemy to death. It is likely that this soldier was not the only combatant carrying a gun and that these others were probably used in a more conventional way. In terms of size, though it may have anticipated developments later in the sixteenth century (e.g. larger military forces, the use of firearms, etc.) nothing on the scale of Knockdoe was to occur again until the Nine Years’ War.

Archaeological significance
Galloglass axe © Claíomh & Dave Swift 2011
From an archaeological perspective Knockdoe is a high potential battlefield. The area of the fighting atop the hill remains a largely greenfield site and in all likelihood would contain artefacts that were dropped on 19 August 1504, thus presenting us with an opportunity to explore the physical traces left by a battle that straddled the chronological boundary between the medieval and early modern world. The key to precisely locating this battlefield lies with the low stone wall which sheltered Kildare’s main line, and which should be archaeologically identifiable. To locate the wall is to locate the battlefield.

In an international context, Knockdoe is potentially important for the study of firearm development on the battlefield. We know from the fate of one of the Clanricard horsemen who attacked the baggage train that guns were employed at Knockdoe. The historical sources tell us that a Dublin soldier ‘struck him with a gun with both his hands and so beat out his brains.’ This, as is clear from the preceding, has led us to suggest that Kildare employed handgunners at this battle. If evidence for firearm use at Knockdoe can be established, it would join important investigations such as those carried out at Bosworth Field (1485) in producing artefacts relating to early guns on the battlefield - representing the early days of a weapon that would come to dominate warfare. Knockdoe is a fascinating battlefield, and one with many important historical and archaeological facets. It is to be hoped that it is the subject of much further study in the future.

Primary Sources:-
The Lambeth Palace Library, the Carew Papers, Ms 623 (The Book of Howth), ff. 108-112

“The Book of Howth,” J.S. Brewer & William Bullen (eds) Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts preserved in the Archepiscopal Library at Lambeth, 6 (London, 1871) 181-186

B. McCarthy (ed) Annals of Ulster, 3 (Dublin, 1895) 469-71

William Hayes (ed), Annals of Lock Cé, 2 (Dublin, 1939), 203

A. Martin Freeman (ed), Annals of Connacht (Dublin, 1996), 609

John O'Donovan, Annala Rioghachta Eireann: Annals of the kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters, from the earliest period to the year 1616, vol. V (Dublin, 1856), 1275-1277

Secondary Sources:-
James Ware, Rerum Hibernicarum Annales (Dublin, 1664), 71-72

“The Annals of Ireland in the reign of Henry VII”, James Ware, The Antiquities and History of Ireland (Dublin, 1705), 47

G.A. Hayes McCoy, Irish Battles (London, 1969) 48-67

Steven G. Ellis, Tudor Ireland, Crown, Community and the Conflict of Cultures 1470-1603 (London, 1985) 72-94

John J. Cronin, John Cunningham, Dónal Ferrie, Bríd Higgins, “Knockdoe”, Liz Blackmore, John J. Cronin, Dónal Ferrie, Bríd Higgins (eds), In Their Own Words: The Parish of Lackagh-Turlougmore & its People (Galway, 2001) 1-8

Donal O’Carroll, “The battle of Knockdoe”, Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, 56, (2004) 46-59

Valerie McGowan Doyle, The Book of Howth: The Elizabethan Re-Conquest of Ireland and the Old English (Cork, 2011)


About the authors
A Clareman by birth and inclination, John Jeremiah Cronin initially graduated with an MA degree from NUI Galway. In 2007 he was awarded a PhD by the European University Institute, Florence. He has, amongst other things, worked with Eneclann on the Irish-government sponsored Irish Battlefields Project, where he focused on early-modern conflicts. He has also worked as a teaching assistant in NUI Galway, on the Oscail programme of Dublin City University, the Liberal Arts programme of the CDVEC, Mary Immaculate College (University of Limerick), and in University College Dublin. He has, furthermore, overseen a number of local History projects in county Galway. The fruits of his research, which focuses on Irish elites and nobility, have been printed in Belgium, Canada, Britain, the US and Ireland. Most recently he has published on duelling amongst seventeenth-century Irish elite exiles.

Damian Shiels is a Company Director with Rubicon Heritage Services Ltd and is a conflict archaeologist. He was formerly a curator at the National Museum of Ireland and was one of the team who developed the Soldiers & Chiefs Military History Exhibition, at the NMI Collins Barracks. He has worked on a wide range of Irish conflict-related sites and assemblages and has published and lectured both nationally and internationally on them. He is the author of The Irish in the American Civil War (The History Press, 2013).

Note: the images of the galloglass and the beautiful galloglass axes are © Dave Swift and Claíomh [Website | Facebook] and are used with permission. Individual photo credits are on each image.