Stukeley was reported to be an illegitimate son of Henry VIII. He was a wild and lawless adventurer, and entirely unfitted for such a command. At Lisbon he forsook his squadron, and joined the expedition which Sebastian, the romantic King of Portugal, was preparing to send to Morocco. FitzMaurice had travelled through France to Spain, from whence he proceeded to Ireland, with a few troops. He had three small vessels besides his own, and on his way he captured two English ships. He was accompanied by Dr. Saunders, as Legate, the Bishop of Killaloe, and Dr. Allen. They were entirely ignorant of Stukeley’s desertion until their arrival in Ireland. The squadron reached Dingle on the 17th of July, 1579. Eventually they landed at Smerwick Harbour, and threw themselves into the Fort del Ore, which they fortified as best they could. If the Earl of Desmond had joined his brother at once, the expedition might have ended differently; but he stood aloof, fearing to involve himself in a struggle, the issue of which could scarcely be doubtful.
A short time before the arrival of this little expedition, three persons had landed in disguise at Dingle, whom Desmond, anxious to show his zeal towards the ruling powers, consigned to the authorities in Limerick. They were discovered to be Dr. Patrick O’Haly, a Franciscan, and Bishop of Mayo, and Father Cornelius O’Rourke; the name of the third person has not been ascertained. On Sir William Drury’s arrival at Kilmallock, they were brought before him, and condemned to torture and death. The torture was executed with unusual barbarity, for Drury was a man who knew no mercy. The confessors were first placed upon the rack, and then, as if the agony of that torment was not sufficient, their hands and feet were broken with large hammers, and other torments were added. When life was nearly extinct, they were released, and their martyrdom was finally accomplished by hanging. For fourteen days their bodies remained suspended in chains, and the soldiers used them as targets in their shooting exercises.
The Earl of Desmond, however, soon joined his brother. John Geraldine allied himself with the movement from its commencement. A second expedition was fitted out in Spain, which reached Ireland on the 13th of September, 1580. It was commanded by Colonel Sebastian San Jose, who proved eventually so fearful a traitor to the cause he had volunteered to defend. Father Mathew de Oviedo, a member of the Franciscan Order, was the principal promoter of this undertaking.