The Battle of Kinsale 1601

The Gaelic lords in 1600 were under massive pressure, the English had managed to pull themselves together and realised that the war was not some backwater rebellion that would be resolved by piecemeal expeditions or bribery. With that in mind the Nine Years War from 1594-1599 had put the Crown on the back foot, with defeats at Yellowford, Ballyshannon and the Curlews. each English army had been dealt with in detail by either O Donnell or O Neill. But with this success cam inter-family jealousies and Crown agents begin to make headway in exploiting these rivalries. Indeed by late 1599-1600, the English had succeeded in giving the impression that they would succeed and this created a situation where those Gaelic and Old English who sat on the fence began to change allegiance.

Although Essex’s campaign was a failure, the financial implications (The Crown was financially broke) meant desperate measures were implemented, Chichester in Carrickfergus, Docwra’s landing in Derry and Mountjoy’s advance in Munster meant that O Donnell and O Neill began to lose support as Chichester campaigned with a scorched Earth policy and many in Ireland wondered if support the two Earls was worth the loss. Added to this the O Donnell had managed to get Spain to provide an expedition force to land in Ireland, this was supposed to land in either Galway or Killybegs but it landed in Kinsale at the far end of the Country. This forced the Earls to march to Kinsale to relieve the now under-strength army under the Command of Aguila. by this time Henry Docwra had landed in Derry and established his control with the Help of Cahir O Doherty and Red Hugh O Donnell’s uncle Niall Garbh O Donnell.

Henry Docwra’s, Niall Garbh and Cahir O Doherty’s campaign had forced Red Hugh out of Donegal and now he based himself in Ballymote Castle. Hugh O Neill remained in Dungannon but as with O Donnell he was under pressure from Carrickfergus and Chichester raided his area from across Lough Neagh. Encouraged other Gaels to join him is unseating O Néill. But once the Spanish request for help came the Lords had no choice but to march on Kinsale. This march is famous for several reasons, But O Donnell departed from Ballymote and O Neill departed from Dungannon (his route is for the most part unknown and we are researching the most likely route, O Donnell’s route is for the most part documented but has some anomalies which we are 90% done in sorting out.

So after Kinsale Red Hugh goes to Spain where he dies, his brother Rory takes over for him after Kinsale and O Neill head back North, the war continues until 1603 concluding with the Treaty of Mellifont. Ireland is wasted, the Crown’s coffers are wasted and the New King, King James I implements a policy of Plantation to Private adventurers to offset the cost of the war by leasing land to those looking to benefit from the now ravaged land.