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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rory O'More

The Rory O' More Bridge - Dublin

Colonel Rory O'Moore (Irish: Ruairí Óg Ó Mórdha) (b. circa 1620 – 16 February 1655), titular King of Laois, Irish petty noble and the principal organizer of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, belonged to an ancient Irish noble family descended from the mythical Conall Cernach. He was born in Laois around 1620, but the exact date is unknown.

His uncle Rory Oge O'Moore, King of Laois, was a famous rebel in his own right. After having over 180 members of his large family killed by English forces at a feast at Mullaghmast, Co. Kildare in 1577, in an effort to pacify the native Septs of Laois, Rory Oge became a lifelong enemy of Queen Elizabeth I of England and in the course of his lifetime he would cost the English crown over £200,000, but this led to the downfall of the O'Moore family and left them destitute.

Likewise, his namesake the younger Col. Rory O'Moore would live to wreak havoc on the English forces who sought to pacify Ireland for its king, Charles I of England. Little is known of his personal exploits. Neverteheless, Charles Gavan Duffy thought highly of Rory's individual significance for the rebels' achievements: "Then a private gentleman, with no resources beyond his intellect and his courage, this Rory, when Ireland was weakened by defeat and confiscation, and guarded with a jealous care constantly increasing in strictness and severity, conceived the vast design of rescuing the country frm England, and even accomplished it; for, in three years, England did not retain a city in Ireland but Dublin and Drogheda, and for eight years the land was possessed and the supreme authority exercised by the Confederation created by O'Moore. History contains no stricter instance of the influence of an individual mind."

Many historians believe he was the father of James Moore, Governor of the Province of Carolina and therefore an ancestor of American General Robert Howe of Revolutionary War fame. What is certain was that his grandson, Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan was able to continue his legacy, leading the Jacobite forces in Ireland. The Rory O'More Bridge in Dublin was named after him.

An Irish air, The March of the King of Laois, commemorates O'Moore's exploits in the 1641 rebellion.

The following are a few stanzas of an Ulster ballad of that period, preserved in Duffy's "Ballad Poetry of Ireland":

On the green hills of Ulster the white cross waves high,And the beacon of war throws its flames to the sky;Now the taunt and the threat let the coward endure,Our hope is in God and in Rory O'Moore!

Do you ask why the beacon and banner of warOn the mountains of Ulster are seen from afar?'Tis the signal our rights to regain and secure,Through God and our Lady and Rory O'Moore!

Oh! lives there a traitor who'd shrink from the strife--Who to add to the length of a forfeited life,His country, his kindred, his faith would abjure;No! we'll strike for our God and for Rory O'Moore.

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