Rory O'More

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people of the same name, see Rory O'Moore.

Rory O'More, also known as Rory Oge O'More (Irish: Ruairí Óg Ó Mórdha) (died 1578), was an Irish rebel.

Rory O'More from Englishman John Derrick's The Image of Irelande, with a Discoverie of Woodkarne.

Early life[edit]

He was the second son of Ruairí Ó Mórdha, captain of Leix, and Margaret, daughter of Thomas Butler, and granddaughter of Pierce or Piers Butler, eighth earl of Ormonde. Sir Henry Sidney once called him ‘an obscure and base varlet,’ but his family was one of the most important of the minor Irish septs, and also one of the most turbulent.

Family background[edit]

Ruairí Caoch Ó Mórdha (fl. 1554), the father, was the son of Connell Ó Mórdha (d. 1537), and early acquired the character of a violent and successful chieftain. On the death of Connell a fierce dispute broke out between the three sons — Lysaght, Kedagh, and Ruairí — and their uncle Peter the Tanist. Peter was for the time a friend of the Butlers. Consequently the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Lord Leonard Grey, supported the sons; and, although Peter was acknowledged chief, Grey got hold of him by a ruse, and led him about in chains for some time, Kedagh then seems to have secured the chieftainship, Lysaght having been killed; but he died early in 1542, and Ruairí, the third brother, succeeded.[1]

Ruairí Caoch agreed on 13 May 1542 to lead a quieter life, and took part in the surrender and regrant process, with the anglicised name "Rory O’More of Lex".[2] He was probably motivated by the fact that Kedagh had left a son of the same name, who long afterwards, in 1565, petitioned the Irish privy council to be restored to his father's inheritance. Like other Irish chiefs of the time, Ó Mórdha was only a nominal friend to the English. In a grant afterwards made to his eldest son his services to King Edward VI are spoken of; but they must have been of doubtful value, as an order of 15 March 1550-1 forbade any of the name of Ó Mórdha to hold land in Leix. [1]

At some uncertain time between 1550 and 1557 Ruairí Ó Mórdha was killed, and was succeeded by a certain Connell Ó Mórdha, who may be the Connell Oge O'More mentioned in 1556 in the settlement of Leix . He was put to death in 1557.[1]

In 1556 Queen Mary approved an Act "..whereby the King and Queen's Majesties, and the Heires and Successors of the Queen, be entituled to the Counties of Leix, Slewmarge, Irry, Glinmaliry, and Offaily, and for making the same Countries Shire Grounds."[3] This shired the new counties of Queen's County (now County Laois) and King's County (now County Offaly), thereby dispossessing the rest of the O'More clan and starting the Plantations of Ireland.[1]

Ruairí Óge and Callagh[edit]

Rory left two sons, Callagh and Ruairí Óge. Callagh, who was brought up in England, was called by the English ‘The Calough,’ and, as he describes himself as of Gray's Inn in 1568, he may be assumed to be the John Callow who entered there in 1567 (Foster, Reg. of Gray's Inn, p. 39). In 1571 Ormonde petitioned for the Calough's return, and soon afterwards he came back to Ireland, where in 1582 he was thought a sufficiently strong adherent to the English to receive a grant of land in Leix. .[1][4]

A dangerous rebel[edit]

Ruairí Óge Ó Mórdha, the second son, was constantly engaged in rebellion. He received a pardon on 17 February 1565-6, but in 1571 he was noted as dangerous, and in 1572 he was fighting Ormonde and the queen at the same time, being favoured by the weakness of the forces at the command of Francis Cosby, the seneschal of Queen's County, and the temporary absence of Ormonde in England. In this little rebellion the Butlers and the Fitzgeralds were united against him; but when, in November 1572, Desmond escaped from Dublin, it was Ruairí Óge Ó Mórdha who escorted him through Kildare and protected him in Queen's County[5] He was mixed up in Kildare's plots in 1574, and taken prisoner in November. But he was soon free, and Sidney, when on his tour in 1575, wrote of him:

Rory Oge O'More hath the possession and settling-place in the Queen's County, whether the tenants will or no, as he occupieth what he listeth and wasteth what he will. [1]

Submission and war[edit]

However, Ó Mórdha was afraid of the deputy, and when Sydney came into his territory, he went to meet him in Kilkenny Cathedral (December 1575), and ‘submitted himself, repenting (as he said) his former faults, and promising hereafter to live in better sort (for worse than he hath been he cannot be).’ Hence we find a new pardon granted to him on 4 June 1576 (ib. p. 179). [1]

But in the next year he hoped for help from Spain, and, pushed on by his friend, John Burke, he made a desperate attack on the Pale. He allied himself with some of the O'Connors, and gathered an army. On 18 March 1576-7 the seneschal of Queen's County was commanded to attack Ruairí Óge and the O'Connors with fire and sword.[6] There was good reason for active hostilities, as on the 3rd the insurgents had burned Naas with every kind of horror. Sidney wrote to the council the same month: ‘Rory Oge O'More and Cormock M'Cormock O'Conor have burnt the Naas. They ranne thorough the towne lyke hagges and furies of hell, with flakes of fier fastned on poles ends’[7][1]

Later in the year Ó Mórdha captured Harrington and Cosby. They were rescued by a ruse. Ó Mórdha's wife and all but Ó Mórdha himself and one of those who were with him were killed. Infuriated at being caught, Ó Mórdha fell upon Harrington and ‘hacked and hewed’ him so that Sidney saw Harrington's brains moving when his wounds were being dressed. Ó Mórdha rushed between a soldier's legs and escaped practically naked.[8][1]


He soon afterwards burned Carlow; but in an attempt to entrap Barnaby Fitzpatrick, 2nd Baron Upper Ossory, into his hands, he was killed by the Fitzpatricks in June 1578, and his head was set up on Dublin Castle.[1]


He left a son, Eoghan mac Ruairí Ó Mórdha, whom John Burke, son of the Earl of Clanricarde, took charge of. The English got hold of him after some difficulty, and foolishly allowed him to return to his own country. He became as great a rebel as his father, and, after a life of fighting and plundering, in which, however, he recovered almost all Leix, was killed in a skirmish near Timahoe, Queen's County, 17 August 1600. Moryson called him ‘a bloody and bold young man,’ ‘The Four Masters’ an ‘illustrious, renowned, and celebrated gentleman.’ After his death the importance of the O'Mores as a sept was gone.[1]

Colonel Rory O'More (in Irish: Ruairí Óg Ó Mórdha; c.1620-c.1653), principal organizer of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, was his nephew.

Family tree[edit]

    Melaghlin mac Owny mac Gilla Padraigh Ó Mórdha, died 1502. 
    |                                                                                |
    |                                                                                |     
    Connell Ó Mórdha (died 1537)                                              Pierce/Peter an Tainiste, fl. 1537. 
    |                     |                       |                                    |                   | 
    |                     |                       |                                    |                   | 
    Lysaght (d. 1541?)    Kedagh Roe (d. 1542)    Ruairí Caoch Ó Mórdha, fl. 1554.     Gilla Padraigh      Connell Óge, d. 1557. 
                          |                      =Margaret Butler                        d. 1548. 
                          |                       |
                          Kedagh/James?           |____________________________
                           fl. 1584?              |                         |
                                                  |                         |
                                               Ruairí Óge, d. 1578.   Calvagh/Callagh of Ballina, d. 1618.
                                                 =?                        =Margaret Scurloug
                                                  |                         |
                                                  |                         |__________________________________________________  
                                         Uaithne (Owney), d. 1600.          |                             |          |        |
                                                                            |                             |          |        |
                                                                            Rory O'More     Lysaght    Margaret   dau.
                                                                           =Jane Barnewall             (issue)    (issue)   (issue)



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Archbold 1895.
  2. ^ Lineage and the terms of his "surrender and regrant" settlement on-line
  3. ^ 3 & 4 Phil & Mar, c.2 (1556).
  4. ^ (Cal. State Papers, Irish Ser. 1574-85, pp. 392, 412)
  5. ^ cf. 12th Rep. Dep.-Keep. Publ. Rec. Ireland, p. 78.
  6. ^ 13th Rep. Dep.-Keep. Publ. Rec. Ireland, p. 25
  7. ^ Cal. State Papers, Irish Ser. 1574-85, p. 107; cf. Carew MSS. 1575-88, f. 110.
  8. ^ Carew MSS. 1575-88, f. 356
  9. ^

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainArchbold, William Arthur Jobson (1895). "O'More, Rory (d.1578)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 42. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 175–176.  Endnotes