More accurately, this entry refers to the Cromwellian campaign in the West from 1650, the campaign in North Cork, Kerry and Limerick at the end of the conflict begun by the insurrection in the North of Ireland in October 1641. Central to the war in West Munster was the fall of Ross Castle to General Ludlow in the summer of 1652, the articles of surrender of which are to be found in the Aphorismical Discovery of Treasonable Faction published by John J. Gilbert.
A year previously, in the summer of 1651, Lord Muskerry (Donogh MacCarthy) set out from Kerry to assist the Irish forces atLimerickwhich was then under siege by Ireton, Cromwell’s son-in-law. En route, Muskerry encountered Lord Broghill (Roger Boyle) who defeated Muskerry at Knocknaclashy, near Banteer. In May of the previous year (1650) Broghill had been given charge of the war in the West as Cromwell laid siege to Clonmel. At that time Col. David Roche recruited heavily in Kerry to defend Kerry andCork. Broghill took Macroom and captured Boetius MacEgan, the Bishop of Ross. The Bishop was the principal ally of the uncompromising Catholic leader and Pope’s representative, Nuncio Rinuccini; Broghill took the bishop toCarrigadrohidCastle, a few miles from Macroom, where he had him hanged in front of the castle’s defenders.
After defeat by Broghill at Knocknaclashy in 1651, Muskerry retreated to Ross Castle. Ireton having died atLimerick, his successor General Ludlow prepared to besiege Ross. The terms of surrender at Ross were signed by Muskerry, among others.
The work of transplanting the Irish to Connaught and Clare, and transporting the poorer people toBarbados, came within the responsibility of Charles Fleetwood, Cromwell’s son-in-law, commander in chief inIrelandand from 1654 Lord Deputy. It is not generally known that Fleetwood was a distant cousin of the Dennys of Tralee Castle. Kerry’s suffering during this period may have been assuaged by this and other family connections with the conqueror, as the Dennys were at heart royalists. Among the defenders at Ross, and signatories to the surrender, were Colonels Edmund and Gerald/Garrett FitzMaurice of Lixnaw, half-brothers of Patrick FitzMaurice who was governor of Kerry at the beginning of the war. The most beneficial connection of all was surely Murrough O’Brien, Lord Inchiquin, the famous Murrough the Burner who perpetrated the massacre at the Rock of Cashel in 1647. Inchiquin’s mother was a sister of Patrick FitzMaurice’s wife and of the wife of O’Sullivan Mór; after crushing O’Sullivan Mór and Taaffe at Knocknanuss in November 1647, Inchiquin failed to follow up as he might, leaving South Kerry – and perhaps Kerry generally – a relatively safe haven for the Irish in which to regroup for the campaign led by Broghill to Macroom after Broghill superseded Inchiquin as head of the Cromwellian war.