The troops of Edward Bruce made up one of the largest armies ever invading the Irish soil. Such major army had to move along wide transport arteries. Along their itineraries, the Scots made embankments topped with fortresses from where they oversaw vast lands.
In early 1316, Edmund Butler failed to wipe out Edward Bruce and his squadrons. The Scots, in turn, got a chance to conquer Dublin. That tremendous opportunity got mixed up with a fear of what the enemy could do. The exhausted and hungry Scottish warriors were not confident enough in their strength to occupy the Irish capital. Edward Bruce acknowledged that.
The first Bruce’s campaign was accomplished with a chain of victories. Edward virtually had got a chance to unify the two nations as he wanted. However he was unlucky to encounter famine, poor crops and epidemics. He ended up heavily restricted for any maneuver. The army was compelled to retreat to Ulster in 1316.
The Scots’ idea was fundamental, their tactics proved to be victorious, and their strength defeated the adversary on every battlefield. But it was a wrong moment to create any union. Ireland was anyway not so much ready for uniting, since it was split between local septs hostile to each other. Each sept supported either the English reign or the Irish independence. There was no will for a common national idea.
When Edward Bruce came back to Ulster, the mighty Irish king Donell O’Neil still supported him. The Scots relied on O’Neil’s army as on their major force affiliated. O’Neil expressed his strong desire to cease the Irish infighting for the sake of freedom.
In September 1316, Edward betook himself to his brother, Robert Bruce, King of Scotland. Robert, disappointed with Edward’s failure to conquer Dublin, advised his brother to get ready to a new war. Robert Bruce arrived in Ireland together with Edward. Jointly, they determined to orchestrate a sweeping offensive across Ireland, from North to South.
The new Scottish army’s target was Dublin where the English government was based. When the Scots approached the capital, the Dublin dwellers enclosed themselves within the city fortress walls. They had burnt all suburbs to ashes to leave Bruce’s army unsheltered. Robert and Edward Bruce could not await the capital’s surrender for long. Besieging Dublin seemed to be a bad idea, and they moved on to the west.The Scots’ advancement, as always, brought robberies, violence and arsons to localcommunities and parishes.