22 Irish Jurist (N.S.) 285 (1987)
Extradition and Treason-Trial of a Gaelic Lord: The Case of Brian O'Rourke

handle is hein.journals/irishjur22 and id is 291 raw text is: 





EXTRADITION AND TREASON-TRIAL OF A GAELIC LORD:
                THE   CASE  OF  BRIAN O'ROURKE

                          HIRAM  MORGAN*

   Upon   Wednesdaie  the 3 of November, Bren  O'Royrke  was drawne
to Tyborne, and  there hanged, his members  and bowels  burned in the
fire, his heart taken out, and holden up by the hangman, naming  it to
be the archtraytors heart, and then did he cast the same into the fire, then
was his head stricken off, and his bodie quartered (1). O'Rourke died
a traitor's death but he was no run-of-the-mill traitor. His execution in
1591 was a reflection of contemporary politics: factional intrigue in the
English establishment and new developments in Anglo-Scottish relations
as well as the end of Gaelic lordship in Ireland. A judicial ruling in
favour  of extra-territoriality had been necessary to try O'Rourke in
England.  This touched on a longer-term problem:  England's constitu-
tional relationship with Ireland and the status of Irishmen in English
courts. At his trial O'Rourke did not react as a nationalist. He was no
Roger  Casement  avant la lettre. He appeared rather as a tribal warlord
attempting to save himself by harking back to the ancient glories of his
lineage.
   Brian O'Rourke   was lord of West Breifne, a position which he had
attained in the mid-1560s by assassinating his elder brothers (2). He was
described in 1586 as being somewhat   learned but of an insolent and
proud  nature  and no  further obedient  than is constrayned  by  her
maiesties forces (3). O'Rourke was renowned for his haughty dealings
with royal officials. Lord deputy Sidney described him as the proudest
man  I ever dealt with in Ireland and Sir Nicholas Malby called him the
proudest man  this day living on the earth (4). Over the years O'Rourke
had  staunchly  resisted the imposition of  crown  government.   The
demands  which he made  during peace talks in July 1589 reflect the height
of his powers as well as his immediate aspirations. O'Rourke claimed
that he only submitted to the Composition  of Connacht  under duress.
Instead of paying the composition rent which had already been reduced
in his favour he offered to pay the annual tribute of E60 which had been

        * British Academy post-doctoral fellow, Queen's University, Belfast.
 (1) John Stow, The Annales of England (London, 1605), pp. 1267-9. In drafting this
    paper, I am indebted to J. H. Baker, G. R. Elton, M. J. Ingram, J. I. Casway and
    B. Cunningham for certain references and to S. G. Ellis, M. O'Dowd and A. Sheehan
    for their comments. In establishing the final version, I am grateful to P. Brand for
    his meticulous reading.
 (2) O'Rourke's career is well accounted for by Daniel Gallogly, Brian of the Ramparts
    O'Rourke (1566-91) in Breifne, ii (1962), 50-79.
 (3) ? Waterhouse, A Treatise of Ireland, 1586 (N.L.I. MS 669, ff. 41-2).
 (4) Sidney to English privy council, 15 June 1576 (P.R.O., S.P. 63/55/58); Malby to
    Walsingham, 12 Apr. 1578 (ibid., 60/37).

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