1316 – At the battle of Ardscull, Co. Kildare, Edward the Bruce defeats the army of Justiciar Edmund Butler. The Scottish dead are buried in the graveyard attached to the Dominican Priory in Athy which occupies the area on the east bank of the River Barrow. Among those buried are two Scottish chiefs, Lord Fergus Andressan and Lord Walter de Morrey.

The Battle of Skerries, also named the Battle of Ardscull, was a battle in the Bruce campaign in Ireland – part of the First War of Scottish Independence – fought on 26 January 1316, resulting in a Scottish victory. It was part of the Irish campaign of Edward Bruce, brother of Robert Bruce, king of Scotland. The site of the battle was Skerries near Ardclough in County Kildare.

The battle:

Edward Bruce, earl of Carrick, had landed in Ireland in May the year before, and been proclaimed king of the island in June, which the Irish population saw as a positive thing since Bruce’s goal was to remove the English. Bruce continued on his march south, before again encountering the government forces in January. The Hiberno-Norman forces, summoned by the justiciar of Ireland, consisted of men such as John FitzThomas FitzGerald, Maurice FitzThomas FitzGerald, Thomas FitzJohn, John and Arnold Poer, Maurice de Rocheford and Miles and David de la Roche. Though these forces heavily outnumbered those of Bruce, internal strife broke out in the Anglo-Irish ranks, a fact that Bruce could take advantage of. Though suffering heavy losses, the Scots held the battlefield, effectively winning the battle.


The official English account of the battle blamed unfortunate terrain and bad luck for the government forces’ loss, not an entirely convincing explanation. The same account also claims that the Scots lost many of their greatest men, while their opponents only lost one man. After the battle the Scots withdrew to Leix, while the Anglo-Irish forces kept them under surveillance from nearby Castledermot, while their leader withdrew to Dublin. Here John Hotham, the king’s envoy to Ireland, made a great effort to ensure the loyalty of the Irish nobles. By May, however, Bruce had returned to his safe base in Ulster, while Hotham had returned to his new position in England as Bishop of Ely.


Photo: Moat of Ardscull


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