The tomb of Edward Bruce, Earl of Carrick, a younger brother of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, who supported his brother in the struggle for the Scottish crown, then pursued his own claims in Ireland. He was proclaimed High King of Ireland, but was eventually defeated and killed in the Battle of Faughart by John de Bermingham, 1st Earl of Louth, on 14 October 1318.
By the early 14th century, Ireland had not had a High King since Ruaidri mac Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair, (Rory O’Connor), who had been deposed by his son in 1186. The country was divided between Irish dynasties and Anglo-Irish lords who ruled parts of Ireland. In 1258 some of the dynasties and clans elected Brian Ua Neill to this position; however he was defeated by the Normans at the battle of Downpatrick in 1260.
Being descended from Aoife MacMurrough, Edward could also claim a lengthy royal Gaelic Irish ancestry that included Brian Boru and Dermot MacMurrough; and also the Hiberno-Norse king Olaf Cuaran. He, along with his brothers, was also descended from Kings/Lords of Galloway, who were themselves a branch of the same Kings of Mann and the Isles which produced Somerled, progenitor of Clan Donald, Clan Dougall, and Clan Ruari.
Edward’s main mission in invading Ireland was to create a second front in the ongoing war against England, draining her of much needed men, materials and finance by creating havoc in Ireland.
In the late summer of 1318, Sir John de Bermingham with his army began a march against Edward de Brus. On 14 October 1318, the Scots-Irish army was badly defeated at the Battle of Faughart by de Bermingham’s forces. Edward was killed, his body being quartered and sent to various towns in Ireland, and his head being delivered to King Edward II. The Annals of Ulster (erroneously under the year 1315) summed up the hostile feeling held by many among the Anglo-Irish and Irish alike of Edward de Brus:
“Edward de Brus, the destroyer of Ireland in general, both Foreigners and Gaels, was killed by the Foreigners of Ireland by dint of fighting at Dun-Delgan. And there were killed in his company Mac Ruaidhri, king of Insi-Gall Hebrides and Mac Domhnaill, king of Argyll, together with slaughter of the Men of Scotland around him. And there was not done from the beginning of the world a deed that was better for the Men of Ireland than that deed. For there came death and loss of people during his time in all Ireland in general for the space of three years and a half and people undoubtedly used to eat each other throughout Ireland.”
Photo credit: Mac Creative Photography