One of Roderic O’Connor’s sons, Murrough, having rebelled against him, Miles de Cogan went to his assistance,—a direct and flagrant violation of the treaty of Windsor. At Roscommon the English were joined by the unnatural rebel, who guided them through the province. The King was in Iar-Connaught, and the allies burned and plundered without mercy, as they passed along to Trim. Here they remained three nights; but as the people had fled with their cattle and other moveable property into the fastnesses, they had not been able to procure any spoil on their march. Roderic soon appeared to give them battle; but they were defeated without considerable loss. Murrough was taken prisoner by his father, and his eyes were put out as a punishment for his rebellion, and to prevent a repetition of his treachery.
Another violation of the treaty of Windsor was also perpetrated this year, A.D. 1177. Henry II. summoned a council of his prelates and barons at Oxford, and solemnly conferred the title of King of Ireland on his youngest son, John, then a mere child. A new grant of Meath to Hugh de Lacy was made immediately after, in the joint names of Henry II. and John. Desmond was also granted to Miles de Cogan, with the exception of the city of Cork, which the King reserved to himself. Thomond was offered to two English nobles, who declined the tempting but dangerous favour. It was then presented to Philip de Bresosa; but though the knight was no coward, he fled precipitately, when he discovered, on coming in sight of Limerick, that the inhabitants had set it on fire, so determined was their resistance to foreign rule. The territory of Waterford was granted to Roger le Poer; but, as usual, the city was reserved for the royal benefit. In fact, Sir John Davies well observed, that “all Ireland was by Henry II. cantonized among ten of the English nation; and though they did not gain possession of one-third of the kingdom, yet in title they were owners and lords of all, as nothing was left to be granted to the natives.” He might have said with greater truth, that the natives were deprived of everything, as far as it was possible to do so, by those who had not the slightest right or title to their lands.
Meanwhile De Courcy was plundering the northern provinces. His wife, Affreca, was a daughter of Godfrey, King of Man, so that he could secure assistance by sea as well as by land. But the tide of fortune was not always in his favour. After he had plundered in Louth, he was attacked, in the vale of Newry river, by O’Carroll of Oriel and Dunlevy of Ulidia. On this occasion he lost four hundred men, many of whom were drowned. Soon after he suffered another defeat in Antrim, from O’Flynn. The Four Masters say he fled to Dublin; Dr. O’Donovan thinks that we should read Downpatrick. The latter part of the name cannot be correctly ascertained, as the paper is worn away.