Hugh de Lacy, 1st Earl of Ulster

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Coat of arms of Hugh de Lacy, recorded in Chronica Majora by Matthew Paris.[1]

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.

Circa 1189 he was appointed Viceroy of Ireland, a position previously held by his father. He was replaced in 1190 by Guillaume le Petil. He was later reappointed to serve as viceroy from 1205 to 1210.[2]

Carlow motte and bailey[edit]

He erected a motte in the 1180s in Carlow, on the site of which Carlow Castle was built in the 13th century.[3] 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.[4]

Capture of John de Courcy and Earldom of Ulster[edit]

In 1199, King John of England authorised 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.[5] An account of the capture appears in the Book of Howth.

In 1205 King John created him Earl of Ulster and made what was de Courcy's territory in Ulster the Earldom 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, with the earldom spanning across the modern counties of Antrim and Down and parts of Londonderry.

He purportedly separated from his first wife and was living adulterously. He had legitimate and natural children. In 1226 his daughter by his first wife married Alan, Lord of Galloway.[6] He secondly married Emmeline de Riddlesford, the daughter of Walter de Riddlesford about 1242. They had no issue.[7] Hugh died in 1242 or 1243. Emmeline's second marriage was about 1243 with Stephen Longespee, grandson of Henry II of England,[8] by whom she had two daughters: Ela Longespee, Lady of Ashby (1244 – c. 19 July 1276) and Emmeline Longespee, Lady of Offaly.

The earldom became extinct at de Lacy's death.


  1. ^ Lewis, S (1987), The Art of Matthew Paris in Chronica Majora, California Studies in the History of Art (series vol. 21), Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, p. 454, ISBN 0-520-04981-0  Accessed via Google Books.
  2. ^ O'Mahony, Charles (1912). The Viceroys of Ireland. p. 19. 
  3. ^ "Carlow Castle". Carlow Archived from the original on 2007-11-17. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  4. ^ "Carlow Castle, Carlow". Archived from the original on 2007-11-21. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  5. ^ Mac Annaidh, Séamus, ed. (2001). Illustrated Dictionary of Irish History. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. ISBN 0717135365. 
  6. ^  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "Lacy, Hugh de (d.1242?)". Dictionary of National Biography. 31. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 379. 
  7. ^  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "Lacy, Hugh de (d.1242?)". Dictionary of National Biography. 31. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 379. 
  8. ^ Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Earls of Salisbury 1196-1310