Bermingham, John (DNB00)

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BERMINGHAM, Sir JOHN, Earl of Louth (d. 1328), was the second son of Piers or Peter, third lord of Athenry. In 1312 he was knighted by Mortimer, the viceroy, for assisting to expel the De Lacys from Meath. In 1318 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the English forces in Ireland, and marched north with about 1,600 men against Edward Bruce, whose career in Ireland had been up to this a continued success, and who had been acknowledged king by the Irish a little time before. Bruce was encamped near Faughard, two miles from Bundalk, and Bermingham encamped within half a mile of him. There is a tradition that on the day before the battle Bermingham entered Bruce's camp disguised as a friar, and solicited and got alms from Bruce himself. Against the earnest advice of his generals Bruce engaged, and the battle was fought on Sunday, 14 Oct. 1318. Bruce*s army was utterly routed ; Bruce himself was killed by John de Maupas, one of Bermingham's knights, and Bermingham slew in single combat Lord Alan Steward, Bruce's general of the field. For this service King Edward created Bermingham earl of Louth, and granted him the manor of Ardee in the same county. In 1321 he was appointed lord justice of Ireland, and next year he met King Edward at Carlisle to aid him against the Scots. In 1325 he founded the monastery of Tethmoy, since called from him Monasteroris (see helow), near Edenderry in King's County, the ruins of which are still to be seen. He was killed at Braganstown near Ardee in 1328, in a fierce quarrel that took place between some of the Anglo-Irish families of Oriel; and many eminent persons, both native Irish and Anglo-Irish, were killed with him. The 'Four Masters' record the event in these words: 'Sir John MacFeorais, earl of Louth, the most vigorous, puissant, and hospitable of the English in Ireland, was treacherously slain by his own people, namely by the English of Oriel. With him also were slain many others of the English and Irish amongst whom was blind O'Carroll, chief minstrel of Ireland and Scotland in his time.'

The Berminghams are called in Gaelic MacFeorais (pron. MacOris), i.e. the son of Feoras or Pierce Bermingham, one of the chief heads of the family settled in Ireland.

[Lodge's Peerage, by Archdall, iii. 33; Four Masters, a.d. 1318, 1328; Gilbert's Viceroys of Ireland, pp. 144-6; Joyce's Irish Names of Places, vol. ii. c. viii.]

P. W. J.