In 1567 Nicholas Bagenal eventually returned to favour with the English administration courtesy of friends in high places such as his patron Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester (Nicholas named one of his three sons Dudley) who himself was a friend of Queen’s favourite Sir Henry Sidney (a few times Lord Deputy of Ireland).
Indeed Sir Nicholas had served under Sidney in a previous Vice Royalty. It was on the recommendation of these two men, and that of the Lord Justice Sir N Arnold, that Bagenal was restored to the position of Marshall in 1567. But his lands were still held by the Irish.
Even at Shane O’Neill’s death when Newry returned to English rule, Bagenal was not to enjoy peace to develop the town of Newry and its hinterland as he wished. Sidney required him – as Marshall of the Queen’s forces – to accompany him against the Munster insurrectionists. There were two separate such ‘Rebellions’ in 1569-1573 and 1579-1583 (see Desmond Rebellions here). The slaughter, in which Bagenal participated, was great and the political result, of which he warmly approved, was mass confiscation of Irish land and the first massive ‘plantation’.
Ulster was to experience both in the next generation.
By the time that Bagenal was able to devote his full attention to his domestic affairs in Newry, Mourne and Carlingford, he was already an old man. He handed over the reins of power as Marshall to his son Henry in 1587. In the same year another son Dudley was killed in an ambush in County Carlow. Bagenal himself died in February 1590. His son and heir died six years later at the Battle of The Yellow Ford.
Newry came into the hands of a cousin while everyone awaited the coming of age of Henry’s son Arthur. Neither he – when the time came – nor any subsequent Bagenal in the following (seventeenth) century was to achieve anything memorable on the local, domestic or national stage.
This is Newry Journal’s attempt to correct the image of the role of the Bagenals in the history of Newry, something grossly distorted in their favour by present-day authorities.
Certainly you will have reason to celebrate the memory of Nicholas Bagenal, English adventurer in Ireland if you happen to loathe the Irish language, all Irish culture and customs, the whole Gaelic clan system including the Brehon laws and all people and things Catholic, and are given to the slaughter of defenceless enemies [and/or support those who act in this fashion].
In that case, you might even smile at the supreme irony of a Sinn Fein-dominated local Council in the Third Christian millennium erecting – on the site of the ancient Cistercian Monastery: indeed on the gable wall of the ancient Abbott’s House – Bagenal’s name conjoined with the Irish translation of an English word,