In the south the English suffered a severe reverse. The Geraldines were defeated by Connor O’Brien in Thomond, and again at Kilgarvan, near Kenmare, by Fineen MacCarthy. The Annals of Innisfallen give long details of this engagement, the sight of which is still pointed out by the country people. John FitzThomas, the founder of the Dominican Monastery at Tralee, was killed. The MacCarthys immediately proceeded to level all the castles which had been erected by the English; they were very numerous in that district. Soon after the hero of the fight was killed himself by the De Courcys.
The Annals mention an instance of a man who had taken a bell from the Church of Ballysadare, and put it on his head when attacked by the enemy, hoping that he might escape with his prize and his life, from the respect always shown to everything consecrated to God’s service; but he was killed notwithstanding. This incident is mentioned as characteristic of the age. After the defeat narrated above, Hanmer says, “the Geraldines dared not put a plough into the ground in Desmond.” The next year, 1262, Mac William Burke marched with a great army as far as Elphin. He was joined by the Lord Justice and John de Verdun. They marked out a place for a castle at Roscommon, and plundered all that remained after Hugh O’Connor in Connaught. He, in his turn, counterburned and plundered so successfully, that the English were glad to ask for peace. The result was a conference at the ford of Doire-Chuire. A peace was concluded, after which “Hugh O’Connor and Mac William Burke slept together in the one bed, cheerfully and happily; and the English left the country on the next day, after bidding farewell to O’Connor.”
After this fraternal demonstration, Burke led an army into Desmond, and an engagement took place with MacCarthy on the side of Mangerton Mountain, where both English and Irish suffered great losses. Gerald Roche, who is said to be the third best knight of his time in Ireland, was slain by MacCarthy. Burke was soon after created Earl of Ulster. He and FitzGerald waged war against each other in 1264, and desolated the country with their raids. The Lord Justice sided with FitzGerald, who succeeded in taking all Burke’s castles in Connaught.
The quarrels of the invaders now became so general, that even the Lord Justice was seized at a conference by FitzMaurice FitzGerald, and was detained prisoner, with several other nobles, for some time. During the wars between De Burgo (or Burke) and FitzGerald, the good people of Ross threatened to defend their town from all invaders; and to effect this purpose the council commanded all the citizens to assist in erecting the necessary fortifications. Even the ladies and clergy took part in the works, which were soon and successfully completed.