Hugh de Lacy, 1st Earl of Ulster
Hugh de Lacy, 1st Earl of Ulster (~1176 – after December 26, 1242) was the younger son of Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath. He was a leading figure in the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century. He was created Earl of Ulster in 1205 by King John of England.
Carlow motte and bailey
He erected a motte in the 1180s in Carlow, on the site of which Carlow Castle was built in the 13th century. Excavations at Carlow Castle in 1996, found the remains of a series of post-holes inside a curving ditch, running under the walls of the towered keep and therefore pre-dating it. The remains of a corn-drying kiln were found to the north of this. These features were interpreted as representing the remains of the first castle here, whose defences and buildings seem to have been constructed of earth and timber. A reinterpretation of the historical sources suggests that this primary timber castle was built in the early 1180s by Hugh de Lacy for John de Clahull.
Capture of John de Courcy and Earldom of Ulster
In 1199, King John of England authorized de Lacy to wage war on John de Courcy, who had conquered much of Ulster without help or permission from the King. Hugh captured de Courcy in 1204. An account of the capture appears in the Book of Howth.
In 1205 King John created him Earl of Ulster. He granted Drogheda its charter. He continued the conquest of the north-eastern over-kingdom of Ulaid, building on de Courcy's success. The Earldom of Ulster was based around the modern counties of Antrim and Down.
He married Emmeline de Riddlesford, the daughter of Walter de Riddlesford about 1242. They had no issue. It was Emmeline's second marriage. Her first husband was Stephen Longespee, grandson of Henry II of England, by whom she had two daughters.
The earldom became extinct at de Lacy's death.
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