feofment, entailing thereby the seignory of Breifny (O'Reilly) on his eldest son, Malmore (Myles), surnamed Alainn (the comely), afterwards known as the Queen's O'Reilly.
"Notwithstanding these transactions, Sir John O'Reilly soon after joined in the rebellion of Hugh, Earl of Tyrone, and died on the first of June, 1596. After his death the Earl of Tyrone set up his second brother, Philip, as the O'Reilly, and the government of Elizabeth supported the claim of Sir John's son, Malmore, the comely, in opposition to Philip, and Edmund of Kilnacrott. But Malmore, the Queen's O'Reilly, was slain by Tyrone in the great battle of the Yellow Ford, near Benburb, on the 14th of August, 1528, and the Irish of Ulster agreed to establish Edmund of Kilnacrott, as the O'Reilly.
"The lineal descendants of Sir John passed into the French service, and are now totally unknown, and probably extinct. The descendants of Edmund of Kilnacrott have been far more prolific and more fortunate. His senior representative is my worthy old friend Myles John O'Reilly, Esq., Heath House, Emo, Queen's Co., and from him are also descended the O'Reillys of Thomastown Castle, in the County of Louth, the Counts O'Reilly of Spain, the O'Reillys of Beltrasna, in Westmeath, and the Reillys of Scarva House, in the County of Down.
"Edmund of Kilnacrott had a son John who had a son Brian, by Mary, daughter of the Baron of Dunsany, who had a famous son Malmore, commonly called Myles the Slasher. This Myles was an able military leader during the civil wars of 1641, and showed prodigies of valor during the years 1641, 1642, and 1643; but, in 1644, being encamped at Granard, in the County of Longford, with Lord Castlehaven, who ordered him to proceed with a chosen detachment of horse to defend the bridge of Finea against the Scots, then bearing down on the main army with a very superior force, Myles was slain at the head of his troops, fighting bravely on the middle of the bridge. Tradition adds, that during this action he encountered the colonel of the Scots in single combat, who laid open his cheek with a blow of his sword; but Myles, whose jaws were stronger than a smith's vice, held fast the Scotchman's sword between his teeth till he cut him down, but the main body of the Scots pressing upon him, he was left dead on the bridge.
"This Myles the Slasher was the father of Colonel John O'Reilly, of Ballymacadd, in the County Meath, who was elected Knight of the Shire for the County of Cavan, in the parliament held at Dublin on the 7th of May, 1689. He raised a regiment of dragoons, at his own expense, for the service of James II., and assisted at the siege of Londonderry in 1689. He had two engagements with Colonel Wolsley, the commander of the garrison of Belturbet, whom he signally defeated. He fought at the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim, and was included in the articles of capitulation of Limerick, whereby he preserved his property, and was allowed to carry arms.
"Of the eldest son of this Colonel John O'Reilly, who left issue, my friend Myles J. O'Reilly, Esq., is now the senior representative.
"From Colonel John O'Reilly's youngest son, Thomas O'Reilly, of Beltrasna, was descended Count Alexander O'Reilly, of Spain, who took Algiers! immortalized by Byron. This Alexander was born near Oldcastle, in the County Meath, in the year 1722. He was Generalissimo of his Catholic Majesty's forces, and Inspector-General of the Infantry, etc., etc. In the year 1786 he employed the Chevalier Thomas O'Gorman to compile for him a history of the House of O'Reilly, for which he paid O'Gorman the sum of £1,137 10.s., the original receipt for which I have in my possession.
"Prom this branch of the O'Reilly family was also descended the illustrious Andrew Count O'Reilly, who died at Vienna in 1832, at the age of 92. He was General of Cavalry in the Austrian service. This distinguished man filled in succession all the military grades in the Austrian service, with the exception of that of Field Marshal, and was called by Napoleon 'le respectable General O'Reilly.'
"The eldest son of Myles J. O'Reilly, Esq., is a young gentleman of great promise and considerable fortune. His rencontre with Lord Clements (now Earl of Leitrim) has been not long since prominently before the public, and in a manner which does justice to our old party quarrels! Both are, however, worthy of their high descent; and it is to be hoped that they will soon become good friends, as they are boih young, and remarkable for benevolence and love of fatherland."
As this has been considered by some persons as a historical novel, although I really never intended it as such, it may be necessary to give the reader a more distinct notion of the period in which the incidents recorded in it took place. The period then was about that of 1745, when Lord Chesterfield was Governor-General of Ireland. This nobleman, though an infidel, was a bigot, and a decided anti-Catholic; nor do I think that the temporary relaxation of the penal laws against Catholics was anything else than an apprehension on the part of England that the claims of the Pretender might be supported by the Irish Catholics, who then, so depressed and persecuted, must have naturally felt a strong interest in having a prince who professed their own religion placed upon the English throne. Strange as it may appear, however, and be the cause of it what it may, the Catholics of Ireland, as a people and as a body, took no part whatever in supporting him. Under Lord Chesterfield's administration, one of the most shocking and unnatural Acts of Parliament ever conceived passed into a law. This was the making void and null all intermarriages between Catholic and Protestant that should take place after the 1st of May, 1746. Such an Act was a renewal of the Statute of Kilkenny, and it was a fortunate circumstance to Willy Reilly and his dear Cooleen Bawn that he had the consolation of having been transported for seven years. Had her father even given his consent at an earlier period, the laws of the land would have rendered their marriage impossible. This cruel law, however, was overlooked; for it need hardly be said that it was met and spurned not only by human reason, but by human passion. In truth, the strong and influential of both religions treated it with contempt, and trampled on it without any dread of the consequences. By the time of his return from transportation, it was merely a dead letter, disregarded and scorned by both parties, and was no obstruction to either the marriage or the happiness of himself and his dear Cooleen Bawn.
I know not that there is any thing else I can add to this preface, unless the fact that I have heard several other ballads upon the subject of these celebrated lovers—all of the same tendency, and all in the highest praise of the beauty and virtues of the fair Cooleen Bawn. Their utter vulgarity, however, precludes them from a place in these pages. And, by the way, talking of the law which passed under the administration of Lord Chesterfield against intermarriages, it is not improbable that the elopement of Reilly and the Cooleen Bawn, in addition to the execution of the man to whom I have given the name of Sir Robert Whitecraft, may have introduced it in a spirit of reaction, not only against the consequences of the elopement, but against the baronet's ignominious death. Thus, in every point from which we can view it, the fate of this celebrated couple involved not only popular feeling, but national importance.
I have not been able to trace with any accuracy or satisfaction that portion or branch of the O'Reilly family to which my hero belonged. The dreary lapse of time, and his removal from the country, have been the means of sweeping into oblivion every thing concerning him, with the exception of his love for Miss Folliard, and its strange consequences. Even tradition is silent upon that part of the subject, and I fear that any attempt to throw light upon it must end only in disappointment. I have reason to believe that the Counsellor Fox, who