John De Courcy - Later Career in Ireland

Later Career in Ireland

In 1196 he defeated the King of the Cenél Conaill and most of Donegal was at his mercy. Two years later he returned to devastate Inishowen and on his way destroyed churches at Ardstraw, County Tyrone and Raphoe, County Donegal.

In 1199, because of his separatist tendencies, King John authorized Hugh de Lacy, younger son of Hugh de Lacy Lord of Meath, to wage war on John de Courcy. Hugh captured John de Courcy in 1203. An account of his capture appears in the Book of Howth. This passage helps explain why John had a reputation as a strong, God-fearing warrior:

Sir Hugh de Lacy was commanded to do what he might to apprehend and take Sir John de Courcy, and so devised and conferred with certain of Sir John's own men, how this might be done; and they said it were not possible to take him, since he lived ever in his armour, unless it were a Good Friday and they told that his custom was that on that day he would wear no shield, harness nor weapon, but would be in the church, kneeling at his prayers, after he had gone about the church five times bare-footed. And so they came at him upon the sudden, and he had no shift to make but with the cross pole, and defended him until it was broken and slew thirteen of them before he was taken.

In May 1205, King John made Hugh Earl of Ulster, granting him all the land of the province "as John de Courcy held it on the day when Hugh defeated him". John de Courcy returned, sailing across the Irish sea from the Isle of Man in July 1205 with Norse soldiers and a hundred boats supplied by his brother-in-law, Ragnold, King of Mann. John and his army landed at Strangford and laid siege to Dundrum Castle in vain, because the defenses he himself had made were too strong.

King John then had John de Courcy imprisoned and he spent the rest of his life in poverty. He was subsequently released when he "crossed himself" to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Read more about this topic:  John De Courcy

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