Power Struggle

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  • Wicklow history

The War for Wicklow

The end of the Norman invasion did not mean peace for Wicklow. Instead, the native Irish clans (O'Byrnes and O'Tooles) continued to fight with the Anglo-Norman lords. By 1535, the Chief of the O'Byrnes had enough fighting. He went to King Henry VIII of England and offered to take Wicklow in the king's name.

This meant that the Chief of the O'Byrnes would be the leader of Wicklow. However, he would also have to swear loyalty to the King of England. His clan did not like this idea. They said no and elected a new chief. Wicklow remained full of conflict.

In 1578 the government planned to form the new County of Wicklow. Sir Henry Harrington was granted the County of Shillelagh to hold for twenty-one years. However, Fiach McHugh O'Byrne defeated the Lord Deputy's Army (Lord Grey) at the famous Battle of Glenmalure and Wicklow remained outside government control for almost another thirty years.

Submission and Flight

Despite further successes by the O'Byrnes over Sir Henry Harrington, it became increasingly difficult for the clans to hold out against the government forces.

The defeat of the Irish at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 signalled the end of the old ways of Gaelic Ireland. The Flight of the Earls in 1607 stamped out the power of the native Irish chiefs.

In 1603, Powerscourt Castle and lands were granted to Sir Richard Wingfield, following his successful diplomatic and military career. The Powerscourt lands had previously been in the possession of the O'Tooles. Wicklow was the last county to be brought under English rule in 1606.

Wicklow under Anglo-Norman control

In 1666 the manor and lands of Bray were divided between Edward II, Earl of Meath and Oliver Tyrconnell. This gave the Brabazon family ownership of the greater part of Bray.

The Earl of Strafford, Thomas Wentworth, who was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1632, acquired approximately 60,000 acres in Co. Wicklow.