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Sean Duffy (ed.), The World of the Galloglass: Kings, Warlords and Warriors in Ireland and Scotland, 1200-1600 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005, 219 pp., 55.00 [euro] hardback)
It is interesting in this respect that Sean Duffy's edited collection of essays, The World of the Galloglass, should be a by-product of Trinity College's Galloglass Project, aimed at producing a comprehensive database of all known galloglass individuals and activities.
Indeed, both Darren McGettigan, in Red Hugh O'Donnell and the Nine Years War, and a number of Duffy's collaborators mention Hayes-McCoy, who also pioneered work on the galloglass in his Scots Mercenary Forces in Ireland in 1937.
Similar to Murtagh's wider European perspective, Duffy's The World of the Galloglass, and McGettigan's Red Hugh O'Donnell and the Nine Years War, both note the wider context of Irish military affairs, be it the Gaelic world in terms of those mercenary warrior dynasties of Scottish origin active in Ireland between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries or, again, European in terms of O'Donnell's search for a Spanish alliance in the insurgent war fought against Elizabethan England between 1594 and 1603.
Though addressing the wider context, however, The World of the Galloglass is a little disappointing in that its disparate essays really require a solid introduction.
The world of the galloglass
; kings, warlords and warriors in Ireland and Scotland, 1200-1600.
The head was sent "to [Hugh O'Neill] the Earl of Tyrone by four horsemen" and, rumour had it, "was made a football by the rude galloglass of the army." (7) But far from being the exclusive sport of the wild Irish, this was a game which all sides played.
(43) A messenger captured by the Irish returned with more than a grisly tale: when his galloglass guard fell asleep, he escaped, "bringing away the head" of the fatally somnolent keeper with him.
Perched at Glenfinnan is no divine or royal figure; merely a galloglass
. (66) Transposed to glass-'gall', however (fiel de verre), we recognize the precipitate of smelting gold with glass to achieve a red colour: vitraux of St Denis, irradiating Joan's Oriflamme.
Of course these variations are themselves a parody of the vagaries of the transliteration, anglicization and translation of Irish words, in this case the Irish galloglach (which, like the English word "galloglass
" means foreign soldier or henchman and carries connotations of espionage).
Apart from the connection with Gaelic Ireland, the links of the MacWilliams and MacHeths to the Hebrides should also be noted; indeed, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that mercenary troops from Argyll and the Isles, the infamous galloclaig or galloglasses
, made up at least part of the northern armies that faced the royal forces.