Rory Og O'More

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  • Queen's County

The O'Mores of Laois

The O'Mores were one of the Seven Clans of Laois. Dunamase Castle, situated high upon the Rock of Dunamase, was home to the O'More clan for over a century.
Dunamase Castle, Panoramic View

Before the O'Mores gained control of the castle, it was the home of Strongbow and his descendants. The site of the castle, the Rock of Dunamase, was very attractive because it was on high ground. It functioned as a strong fortification, making it easy for powerful families to ward off attackers.

Rory Og O'More

Take a look at this portrait. Can you describe the man in it? What kind of person do you think he is?

This is Rory Og O'More. He was the most famous of the O'More clan. He fiercely resisted the rule of the English and organised uprisings against them.

Rory Og was a thorn in the side of the English during their attempts to seize lands from the Irish in the sixteenth century. In 1574, the authorities estimated they had spent 200,000 fighting and trying to capture O'More. That was an enormous sum of money in those days.

Destruction and Capture

On New Year's Day 1577, a brutal massacre of the Irish gentry took place at Mullaghmast in Co. Kildare. Rory Og O'More vowed to avenge the deaths of his fellow countrymen. He kidnapped the relatives of important people. With the help of members from other clans, he destroyed large portions of Leinster and burned the town of Naas.

Here is how that night in Naas was described by an observer at the time:

"Rori Oge O'More and Cormacke MackCormake O'Connor, accompanied with not more than 140 men and boys, on the third of the monethe burned between five and eight hundred thatched housies in a markett town called the Naas. They had not one horseman nor one shot with them. They ranne through the towne being open like haggs and furies of hell with flakes of fier fastened on pooles and so fiered the lowe thatched housies; and being a great windie night one house took fiere of another in a moment."

A reward of 1,000 was offered to anyone who could capture O'More. He was finally captured and killed in 1578. His head was displayed for all to see at Dublin Castle.