Dermod MacCarthy’s son, Cormac, had rebelled against him, and he was unwise enough to ask Raymond’s assistance. As usual, the Norman was successful; he reinstated the King of Desmond, and received for his reward a district in Kerry, where his youngest son, Maurice, became the founder of the family of FitzMaurice, and where his descendants, the Earls of Lansdowne, still possess immense property. The Irish princes were again engaging in disgraceful domestic feuds. Roderic now interfered, and, marching into Munster, expelled Donnell O’Brien from Thomond.
[Illustration: RAM’S ISLAND, ARMAGH.]
While Raymond was still in Limerick, Strongbow died in Dublin. As it was of the highest political importance that his death should be concealed until some one was present to hold the reigns of government, his sister, Basilia, sent an enigmatical letter to her husband, which certainly does no small credit to her diplomatic skill. The messengers were not acquainted with the Earl’s death; and such of the Anglo-Normans in Dublin as were aware of it, had too much prudence to betray the secret. Raymond at once set out on his journey. Immediately after his arrival, FitzGislebert, Earl de Clare, was interred in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, now called Christ’s Church.
Strongbow has not obtained a flattering character, either from his friends or his enemies. Even Cambrensis admits that he was obliged to be guided by the plans of others, having neither originality to suggest, nor talent to carry out any important line of action.
The Irish annalists call him the greatest destroyer of the clergy and laity that came to Ireland since the times of Turgesius (Annals of Innisfallen). The Four Masters record his demise thus: “The English Earl [i.e., Richard] died in Dublin, of an ulcer which had broken out in his foot, through the miracles of SS. Brigid and Colum-cille, and of all the other saints whose churches had been destroyed by him. He saw, he thought, St. Brigid in the act of killing him.” Pembridge says he died on the 1st of May, and Cambrensis about the 1st of June. His personal appearance is not described in very flattering terms; and he has the credit of being more of a soldier than a statesman, and not very knightly in his manner or bearing.
The Earl de Clare left only one child, a daughter, as heir to his vast estates. She was afterwards married to William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. Although Strongbow was a “destroyer” of the native clergy, he appears to have been impregnated with the mediaeval devotion for establishing religious houses. He founded a priory at Kilmainham for the Knights of the Temple, with an alms-house and hospital He was also a liberal benefactor to the Church of the Holy Trinity, where he was buried.
An impression on green wax of his seal still exists, pendent from a charter in the possession of the Earl of Ormonde. The seal bears on the obverse a mounted knight, in a long surcoat, with a triangular shield, his head covered by a conical helmet, with a nasal. He has a broad, straight sword in his right hand. A foot soldier, with the legend, “Sigillum Ricardi, Filii Comitis Gilleberti,” is on the reverse. The last word alone is now legible.