The Bruces’ Irish campaign led to a tragic defeat in the year 1318. The chain of atrocities, miseries, strange retreats following victories led the Scots into an inevitable defeat.
Edward and Robert Bruce had failed to take Dublin in 1316. Then they abandoned the idea and headed to the West. It was a devastating offensive. In particular, monasteries and abbeys underwent total demolition. It was the Scottish revenge for religion-inspired atrocities the monks, priests and bishops had orchestrated against the Irish natives.
For the Irish population, the Norman English and Scots became aggressors equally and alternatively. The Bruce army employed the “scorched earth” tactics against the heart of their beloved Ireland. The Scottish troops had been succeeding owing to the method of leaving the enemy hungry, strapped and unsheltered.
When it came to comparison by the Irish old-timers, the Norman English occupants appeared to be better than the current Scottish invaders. Miserable images of the Scottish warriors were seen from one location to another. Their wandering maneuvers towards the South, West, Dublin and back, and then again forward appeared mostly food-driven. Hungry soldiers eating their own battle horses looked fairly wretched.
2) Irish Septs, Never United
In the South, the Scots reached Limerick where they tried to get secured with the support by the O’Brians, as by many Irish septs before. The problem was that the septs in Ireland had no unity inside, and whereas one branch of a sept joined the Scots, other branches of the same sept joined the English for vengeance. It was the real and typical medieval Ireland.
3) Retreat Followed by New Campaign
Eventually, the Scots ended up retreating to Carrickfergus in Ulster. In 1318, the famine seemed to be ending. At last, the soil yielded good harvests. Moreover, Edward Bruce’s army got reinforcement from Scotland. In October 1318, they undertook a new third crusade towards the South and Dublin.
The Scottish army reached the Faughart peak, one of the Faughart hills in the county of Louth. The English-Irish army had already got ready to wipe the Scots out on those hills. With only 2000 soldiers, Bruce’s defeat was entirely predictable. For some reason, Edward Bruce took a risk and got into the battle. He did it without the reinforcement which was already approaching his troops.
4) Faughart Battle. Outcome
The English victory in the Faughart battle became a mirror reflection of the Bannockburn battle triumphal for Scotland. John David Birmingham was the triumphant commander in the Faughart combat.
That battle was the last one for Edward Bruce. The English beheaded him and sent his head in salt solution to Edward II. Parts of his split body were exhibited in different areas of Ireland. So Faughart became the end point of the 3-year war full of slaughter, bloodshed and distress. With the following defeat of Donnell O’Neil and his sept, the remaining hopes for liberation of Ireland crashed.