|As his small army moves into Ulster some of Poynings' veteran troops seem nervous, suspecting an ambush.|
|Sir Edward Poynings' Anglo-Irish army advances into the Lordship of Orior.|
|The Anglo-Irish army with Sir Edward Poynings on the left and the Earl of Kildare on the right. The army is a mix of English, Anglo-Irish and Gaelic troops.|
|As Poynings' army advances, expecting an ambush, the border horse act as scouts.|
|The fighting starts when a band of O'Hanlon horse skirmishes with the border horse.|
Poynings' men were wary from the start as they picked their way across the streams, bogs and rivers into the Lordship of Orior. A force of demi-lancers was thrown forward on one flank with a troop of border horse protecting the other. With cries of "Ardchully-aboo!", in reference to the high forest where the sept would traditionally meet, the O'Hanlon emerged from the woods in an attempt to halt Poynings' progress. Some of the O'Hanlon cavalry were seen off in a brief skirmish with the border horse, who were equally at home in the rough terrain as the Gaelic horsemen. On the other flank the demi-lancers were not so fortunate and were brought down in a fierce melee with O'Hanlon kern in the shallow waters of the river.
|As Poynings and Kildare advance they are attacked on the flanks by O'Hanlon cavalry and kern.|
|The English demi-lancers are brought down by the kern in the rough terrain.|
|Stalled on the left flank, Poynings and his supply wagons push forward on the other.|
|Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, hangs back. His loyalty is already suspect.|
|As the convoy advances they take casualties from the skirmishing attacks of the O'Hanlon.|
|Ardchully-aboo! At the river the O'Hanlon defensive line is revealed but pushed back by Poynings' kern and English archers.|
|Kern in Poynings' pay push back the O'Hanlon forces.|
|A large skirmish has developed around the river with bows, javelins and hand guns being used. The O'Hanlon forces have advanced after an initial feint when Poynings' troops first attacked.|
The success on Poynings' right flank looked to continue when his men encountered a defensive line of kern and horseboys holding the river. His English archers and mercenary kern launched a hail of arrows and darts into the river and sent the O'Hanlon warriors reeling back. This retreat proved to be nothing but a feint and as the Anglo-Irish advanced they found that the Gaelic infantry returned to the fight with renewed vigour. The O'Hanlon were more than a match for the English when fighting in the hills and forests of Ulster.
In the centre Malachi O'Hanlon himself emerged from the woodland and, surrounded by his mounted nobles, began to skirmish with Poynings' men. The rough terrain made it difficult for the English troops to catch the Irish horsemen but in a moment of over confidence Malachi O'Hanlon attempted to bring down Sir Edward Poynings. In his full armour Poynings was more than a match for the Gaelic lord and Malachi was defeated. For a moment it looked like the O'Hanlon momentum had stalled and all the Irish deputy had to do was march northwards into Ulster.
To Poynings' dismay the O'Hanlon did not crumble once their leader was defeated. Instead their galloglass waded through the shallow waters of the river to attack the front of the English wagon train. This spelt the end of the English assault. A combination of galloglass supported by skirmishing kern and cavalry broke the units escorting the wagons and the Irish deputy was forced to call a temporary halt to his advance, the river marking the boundary of how far his army had got. The troops around the Earl of Kildare had performed especially badly and Poynings had a score to settle with him before continuing any further.
|As the engagement develops one of Malachi O'Hanlon's nobles helps plots the ambush from a vantage point.|
|Poynings' army has been unable to push across the river.|
|Malachi O'Hanlon, Lord of Orior, and his noble cavalry emerge from the woods to strike at Poynings' army.|
|A view from above showing Poynings' force has been brought to a halt at the river.|
|Sir Edward Poynings and Malachi O'Hanlon clash in the centre of the battle and Malachi, Lord of Orior is brought down but his army does not melt back into the "woodes, mounteyns and marishes".|
|Poynings' kern and English archers look to have cleared the kern from the river but more are lying in wait.|
|Sir Edward Poynings and his bodyguards lead by example and hold the centre of the field.|
|An ambush is about to be sprung.|
|The O'Hanlon surprise Poynings with more kern, this time supported by galloglass. The men escorting the wagons flee and Poynings' advance is brought to a halt. The troops provided by Kildare did not perform well and Poynings is suspicious.|
|No longer the ones springing the ambush the O'Hanlon are now on the defensive, retreating to the hills with their cattle "creaghts".|
|A view of the O'Hanlon force.|
|Unusually the galloglass have been entrusted with the cattle and they press on whilst the rest of the O'Hanlon force forms a rearguard.|
This was one of those fights where the failure or success of the two sides hung on events that took place very early on. The O'Hanlon had entrusted the cattle "creaghts" to the galloglass who, rather than forming a rearguard as was often the case with these Hebridean mercenaries, pushed on to the hills. The kern and noble cavalry were left behind to buy them time and fight a delaying action.
As the galloglass and herdsmen drove the cattle on the trumpets, pipes and drums of the English could be heard as Poynings' men bore down on the retreating O'Hanlon. The border horse and demi-lancers were first into the fight. The border horse were caught in the woods and ambushed but the demi-lancers caught unit after unit of O'Hanlon kern in relatively open moorland, riding them down before they could get to safety.
|Poynings is in hot pursuit with his border horse and demi-lancers attempting to ride down the retreating O'Hanlon.|
|Poynings' troops are on the heels of the O'Hanlon.|
|Kern are ridden down as the demi-lancers catch them...|
|...but this is buying time for the galloglass to get the cattle closer to safety in the hills.|
|More kern are ridden down by the demi-lancers.|
|The kern attempt to reach the safety of the woods and rocks as Poynings' army chases them.|
|Poynings arrives with English archers and mercenary kern.|
As Poynings arrived to join the fray he saw that yet again the O'Hanlon had formed a defensive position around a shallow river from which to launch skirmish attacks on his men. He was heartened by the fact that a unit of his demi-lancers had broken through the O'Hanlon defences and, supported by some of his mercenary kern, were gaining ground on the slower moving galloglass. For a moment it looked as though the O'Hanlon herdsmen would not get the cattle to the safety of the hills but the troops at the river had bought them enough time. The O'Hanlon had been bloodied by Poynings' campaign in Ulster but they remained undefeated.
|The river is held by kern, horseboys and noble cavalry which slows Poynings' pursuit.|
|Some of the demi-lancers break through the rearguard and attempt to catch the cattle as they are herded to safety...|
|...but the demi-lancers are not quick enough and as Poynings' army pushes forward the O'Hanlon herds or "creaghts" disappear into the hills.|
These were two really interesting games and the first chance I have had to captain the Gaelic Irish in the "woodes, mounteyns and marishes". They are an interesting force as while their lack of armour means they take casualties and rout very quickly their speed and the ability of most of the units to skirmish means they can also be very effective in certain situations. The first game was really close. I thought it was all over once the retinue leader Malachi O'Hanlon was defeated but a determined focus on the units escorting the wagons with all of my skirmishing troops brought a halt to the English advance. I do think that if the two units of foot knights in Poynings' army had been given the duty of escorting two of the wagons then things would have gone very differently.
In the second game once the galloglass were away that was pretty much it, with only bad dice rolls meaning that the English would catch them, although these kind of unexpected things regularly happen in our games! It was great to see the Irish on Stuart's terrain boards which I think capture the feeling of Gaelic Ireland a lot better than my terrain. We are keen to base more of our games in this little explored chapter of Tudor warfare. Following the arrest of Kildare, his brother James raised the FitzGerald banner over Carlow Castle in the spring of 1495 forcing Poynings to lay siege to it. The hard pressed deputy then had to march south in the summer as Perkin Warbeck made yet another appearance with a small fleet acting in conjunction with the Earl of Desmond who besieged Waterford from the landward side. Both of these events would make great scenarios for a part two of "Poynings in Ireland".