Sunday, August 7, 2016

Gallowglass & the Campbell & Bruce Clans

Colin Campbell
The gallowglass were from the western coast of Scotland, principally Argyll and the Western Isles. Their weapon of choice was a battle axe. Each was usually accompanied by a man to see to his weapons and armor and a boy to carry provisions. In 1569, Turlough Luineach O'Neill (The O'Neill) married Lady Agnes Campbell, daughter of Colin Campbell, 3rd Earl of Argyll, and widow of James MacDonald, 6th of Dunnyveg. Her dowry consisted of at least 1200 gallowglass fighters. Along with two young men as support and friends on top to assist or fight this could easily have numbered over 5,000 current and future gallowglasses coming into the area.  When Sir Michael Woods married Lady Mary Margret Campbell in 1704 in Albemarle, Virginia, this link tied the connection the noble Scottish Campbell family. William John Buster would then go on to marry Jane Elizabeth Woods in 1750 in Albemarle, Virginia, thus linking the Busters to the Woods clan, (who had married into the Campbells and Bruces,) breaking the dogmatic traditions of the Old World.

From the earliest of times there has always been a lot of movement between the people Ireland and Scotland. Indeed, it is highly probable that the very first people to live in Ireland entered the country across the North Channel from Scotland. The Scottish people, whom the Romans called Picti, were also established in Ireland, particularly in Ulster where they were known as the Cruithin. In Roman times Irish marauders frequently raided western Britain and eventually the kingdom of Dal Riada established colonies on the western coast of Scotland. Needless to say, one result of this intercourse was that the Gaelic language became established and dominated the tribal lands of Scotland for many centuries.

Today their clan names are part and parcel of Irish society and are to be found throughout the country. Names such as Sweeney, McDonnell, Mc Cabe, O’ Gallagher,O’ Boyle, McQuillan, McDowells, McSheehy, McConnell, McRory, McGill, McCoy, Campbell, Agnew, McCallion and MacNeill. Many other surnames are also recorded as originating within the gallowglass tradition. In the 9th century AD, the Vikings began their raids and they also began colonies, particularly in the Hebrides and along the north western coasts of Scotland. These Norse settlers inter-married with the Gaelic speaking natives and adopted the language. The resulting mixed population became known as the Gael-Gall, which literally means the foreigners who speak Gaelic. The King of Norway claimed sovereignty over them until 1263AD, when the Stewart of Scotland, Alexander of Dundonald, acting on behalf of Alexander iii King of Scotland defeated Hakon Hakonarson King of Norway at Largs in Argyll.

The Gael Gall were famous as fierce and brave warriors and as such they hired themselves out to serve as mercenaries. In Ireland these mercenaries became known as Gallóglaich. It is a word compounded from three, Gall, a foreigner, óg meaning young, and laoch meaning a warrior or hero. The first historical mention of the galloglasses operating in Ireland is circa 1259 AD when Aedh Ó Chonchubhair a king in Connaught received a contingent of over 150 of these warriors as part of a dowry given by the king of the Hebrides, (hInnse Gaill,or islands of the foreigners).When the Normans invaded Ireland their advance was stopped in 1270 AD, when Ó Conchubhair put his Galloglassess to good use and slaughtered the Norman force near Carrick on Shannon.

When Edward Bruce came to claim Kingship of Ireland in 1315 he was accompanied by a great force of the Gallowglasses. The other Irish kings also started to hire in these fierce Scottish warriors who spoke their language and shared their customs. They would not only use them in their battles against the Norman English but also against each other.

The Irish nobility inter-married with the Gael-gall and gave them lands and property throughout the island but particularly in Ulster. They were accepted and integrated completely with the native Irish at all levels including the nobility, especially within the northern half of the country but also in Munster and Connaught. It has been recorded that Galloglass were in use as late as 1645 when MacCarthy Riabhach used them in an assault on Mallow in County Cork.These fierce warriors went into battle dressed in knee length chain mail over padded jackets and they wore iron helmets to protect their heads. They used a battle axe that was so heavy that it needed two hands to hold it. They also were skilled in the use of the great sword, an claidhmór or claymore, and used throwing spears.

Follow by Email