The 1500's: Rebellion and Persecution

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  • Dublin Castle

Dublin grew in size but the Norman population were vulnerable to attacks by the Irish Clans. In 1394 many Irish Chieftains submitted to King Richard II when he arrived in Ireland with a great army.

Civil war in England and wars between England and France distracted the English from developments in their Irish colony for over one hundred years. By the time Henry VIII took the throne in 1509 control over much of the country had been lost.

The Fitzgeralds of Kildare

Thomas Fitzgerald was the 10th Lord of Kildare. His nickname, Silken Thomas, came from the fact that his supporters wore silk fringes on their helmets.

King Henry VIII was on the throne at this time. The Fitzgeralds of Kildare had supported an opposing claim to the crown. When Thomas' father, Garret Óg Fitzgerald, was summoned to London by the King, rumours spread back in Ireland that he had been executed in the Tower of London. Thomas was outraged and feared that he and his uncles would be next.

Storming the Castle

On the 11th June 1543, Thomas rode through Dublin with more than one hundred followers and renounced his allegiance to the King of England. King Henry VIII treated this gesture as an act of open revolt. As a punishment Garret Óg was confined to the Tower where he died a short time later.

Thomas and his supporters besieged Dublin Castle. They attacked the main Castle Gate with three cannons but they failed to make an impact. Eventually, Thomas and his followers retreated to his castle in Maynooth but by April 1535 they had been overcome by English troops. Thomas was captured and promised a pardon. However, he was taken to the Tower of London where he was subsequently hanged, drawn and quartered.