The English, under King Henry V's brother, were at the height of their power and O'Byrne, when declaring himself to be the king's subject may have thought of the English as accepting his position of ascendancy.
After all it was admitted that the town of Wicjdow was under his control and Englishmen were licensed to trade at Wicklow and Aridow in 1375, in 1402 and in 1406 and the townsmen and traders paid dues to O'Byrne.
In 1428 the Viceroy mustered a force of Dublin men at Bray and led an expedition against the O'Byrnes but to judge by their equipment - axes, sickles, shovels etc - they
could do no more than cut their way through the woods. Donnchadh mac Bran died six years later in full control of the O'Byrne county. However, his son Murchadh
hhad died in 1429 and his other son Bran 'survived his father by just one year, so another branch - Eamonn (Kiltimer) - assumed the. chieftainship.
The O'Byrnes killed the McMurrough chief, Donnchadha, Lord of the Cheannsalaigh, in 1446 and thus extended their power even further south.
The good old Duke of Yorkcame to Ireland in 1449 on yet another royal "walkabout" and all the Leinster Chiefs submitted, including Brian O'Byrne although the Irish Annals say that Dunlaing was elected. The tribute (present) to the Duke was the large gift of 400 cattle. The O'Tooles only gave 40. O'Byrne also agreed to deliver any ship wrecks to the king's representative showing that the sea coast from Dublin was under O'Byrne control.
In 1454, however, The O'Byrne was killed near
Kilmantan (Wicklow) by his brother's son and in 1463, Firbis, the new chieftain, was killed by the English. Rivalry between different branches of the family led to McMurrough and Kavanagh regaining some of their former power.
The late fifteenth century saw the rise to supremacy of the Anglo-Norman Lords of Maynooth - the Fitzgeralds - who exacted control over most of Leinster. The Fitzgeralds, providing they received their tribute, seem to have left the Irish in control of their territories. The Fitzgeralds later allied themselves with the O'Byrnes and by the 1520's the O'Byrnes carried out raids on the Pale on behalf of the Geraldines. They were also to rise under Silken Thomas'
standard in his abortive attempts to continue as Lord Deputy and razed Fingal (Dublin) to the ground
A document from this period describes the "Irish" regions of Leinster which lived under the Gaelic Brehon Laws and did not obey the king's laws. The O'Byrne territory is included.Incidentally this document and other
submissions of the period were made in Irish as the Irish
clans until the late sixteenth century had little or no English.
In the sixteenth century, Crioch Branach, the territory of the senior branch, extended from Delgany to Arkiow. However, this branch was eclipsed in power and fame by
the Gabhall Raghnaill junior branch, mainly through a policy of collaboration with the English.
We read in the state papers that Thadeus O'Byrne,
chief of the clan, submitted and accepted Henry Viii's terms. This act lost him the chieftainship and the clan elected Fiach MacHugh. Consequently, 12 generations
after parting from the common stem, the sceptre of the clan
O'Byrne was wielded by the branch of Gabhall Raghnaill.
Gabhall Raghnaill, the territory of this junior branch, extended from Rathdrum to the Carlow border at Shillelagh, comprising 160,000 acres, the residence of
its chiefs being at Ballinacor in G1enmaIure. Under successive chiefs Brian, Hugh and Feaghe Mac Hugh, the branch had assumed leadership of all the Leinster septs, culminating in the famous battle of Glenmalure. Feaghe ruled all before him until he was surprised and killed in his mountain retreat in 1597. Feaghe had three sons and a daughter,they were Phelim, Turlough, Reámonn (still
remembered through Redmond Castle at Killaveny) and Margery. He later married Rois but their issue is not found in the chronicles..
After Fiach's death, Phelim became chief and continued to be a member of the Ulster Military Alliance, which was
formed as part of the O'Neill's nine year war against the attempts by the government of Elizabeth I to subdue the last of the Gaelic lordships.
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