Monday, April 20, 2015

Robert the Bruce and the Isle of Man

Isle of Man Ballyfrench

This photo is the view down our lane, to the shore. The lane - the Ballyfrench Road - is locally called "Nelly's Brae", after a woman called Nelly who lived in the house at the bottom whose chimney is just visible. The Ormo bread cart used to stop at Nelly's house and the folk who lived further along the road used to go down there to collect their weekly orders. Nelly died having been found at the bottom of an open well - a fate similar to the Scottish poet Robert Tannahill.

The land on the horizon isn't Scotland (which is just out of shot, to the left hand side) but is in fact the Isle of Man.700 years ago the Isle of Man was of major strategic significance to the ambitions of the Bruce brothers:

May 1313: The Isle of Man and a ‘preliminary raid’ on Ulster On 17 May 1313 Robert the Bruce landed at Ramsey on the Isle of Man ‘with a multitude of ships’, besieged a castle for five weeks and is reported to have ‘sent galleys to Ulster’ probably in search of provisions to sustain the siege. They landed with the approval of Robert the Bruce’s father-in-law, Richard de Burgh, the Earl of Ulster. Bruce granted the Isle of Man to Randolph, Earl of Moray. One of the conditions was that Moray had to annually provide ‘six ships of twenty six oars’ - perhaps an indication of Bruce’s growing maritime ambitions.

January 1315: the English regain the Isle of Man This event may have accelerated the need to carry the battle into Ireland.

May 1315 - Edward Bruce invades Ulster with his Bannockburn army

30 September 1316: Edward Bruce in Fife, Scotland Edward Bruce is known to have been at Cupar in Fife, with Robert the Bruce and the Earl of Moray. Surviving records of the meeting show that he styled himself as ‘Edward, by the grace of God, King of Ireland.’ It has been suggested that the meeting was to discuss Edward’s ambitions to acquire the Isle of Man from the Earl of Moray.

Here is an article on Murtagh MacKennedy, the 'Keeper of the Isle of Man' and head of the Bruce garrison on the island.