Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sligo, Lough Gill, Innisfree, Yeats, County Sligo

Sligo, Lough Gill, Innisfree, Parke's Castle

Sligo, Ireland, Lough Gill, Parke's Castle

Parke's Castle (1609) on Lough Gill, looks over The Isle of Innisfree. Hear Celtic Woman, Orla, singing about it with her harp:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree is the subject of W.B.Yeats' poem -  "I will arise now, and go there...." Read it in its entirety at Bartleby -  The Lough is partially in County Sligo, and partially in County Leitrim.  We understand that the Castle is in County Leitrim.

Parke's Castle as it is seen now dates from the 17th Century, but this area has a long history. This account fails to note the role of the Gregorian Reforms as to the Irish Church in facilitating the invasion of the English (who then never left), but the outline is as follows, related to Lough Gill:

700's -- Clan of Ui Ruairc (later O'Rourke) are descended from a King of Connacht.  The Kingdom of Breifne, was located on borders of Connacht, Leinster and Ulster, see map at

In 1054, the Roman branch of the Christian Church split from the Eastern Orthodox, over a "filioque" clause in liturgy, and because the Orthodox did not recognize the Pope as Primary, First, etc.  Thereafter, the Pope(s) embarked on campaigns theologically and as to property, to establish the new identity of western Christianity as Pope-centered.  In the 1100's, areas that had been traditionally Irish Church local, monasteries with close family ties to those in the area, theologically varying, few rules binding all together, were invaded by the large monastic Orders from the Continent, with Rules, and soon came Bishops and Archbishops and Diocesan organization imposed, with Rome taking jurisdiction.  It was not an easy transition.  Irish Christianity had been long established, see Timeline at

In the late 1000's came the Gregorian Reforms geared to establish this new Church as a militant one, centralized, including formal justification for Crusades, and setting the stage for the Church to aggressively change the world -- a military, killing. See entry 1096-1099 - killing in the name of the church carries no criminal consequence.   See entry at Timeline for 1073:  no more would Christianity withdraw from the world, it would march to establish a rightful order.

Meanwhile, in the 1100's, the King of Breifne, Tiernan O'Rourke, competed with the King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurrough Kavanagh, to be High King. 

Meanwhile again, King Tiernan's wife was Devorgilla, and she and King Dermot had a two-year affair, the tale tells, on the shores of this very Lough Gill. Other versions say she was abducted,  but willingly. See

1166 --  The High Kingship had gone to O'Connor (need to check) and O'Rourke and the "Ostmen" of Dublin (who?) joined forces against Dermot, removing him from the throne.

 Dermot fled to Wales (we thought it was England).  This tale has him returning at that point with the English Strongbow; to get his lands back, and in exchange he would arrange for Strongbow to marry Dermot's daughter,  This was the beginning of the invasion of Ireland by the English.  Dermot died 1171, and the English Strongbow took over the kingship of Leinster, itself contrary to Brehon law.

  • Left out of this account:  Pope Adrian, see,  had wanted to strengthen his church's hold on Ireland, and issued a Bull whereby Henry II (a Norman) of England had permission to invade Ireland as part of the Gregorian Reform for Christian warfare, and in order to serve these ecclesiastical ends. 
  •  Henry, after he was finished with a war in France, met with Dermot, agreed to help(or went on his own to the Pope, see, and authorized Strongbow's invasion, that by derivation had been authorized by the Pope. 
  • But, there was no real basis for the Pope's claim to Ireland at all - a trumped up "Donation of Constantine" did the trick.  One of history's most concealed forgeries, in the sense of not being well known, because it de-legitimizes Henry's claim.

Point as to Lough Gill:  The romance of the Lough led to this very Helen of Troy tale, warring over a stolen woman, deceits. The seeds of the Anglo - Norman invasion of Ireland, right here.

So, the site has been O'Rourke for centuries, this one built in 1609, and others thereafter added. See  Its style is described as a "fortified manor house with stone bawn enclosure."  The courtyard and other areas date from a far eaelier date, 1100's.  That would be the King of Beifne, Tiernan O'Rourke.

1 comment:

davidirby said...

Good report, but County Sligo is in the Republic of Ireland, not in the Six Counties, which most Irish people don't call, "Northern Ireland".