Hugh de Lacy was a substantial landholder in the Welsh Marches when he accompanied Henry II on his invasion of Ireland (1171). The following year, he was deputed to receive the submission of Rory O’ Connor, the High King of Ireland to Henry and, mission accomplished, was rewarded with the Lordship of Meath. Nobody consulted the Irish king of the territory, Tiernan O’ Rourke. Hugh invited him to parley, which went poorly: Tiernan ended up decapitated. De Lacy had quasi-regal authority in Meath; a Count Palatine, he could appoint his own barons and was also Ireland’s chief justice and Constable of Dublin Castle. He became an inveterate castle-builder – the Irish complained Meath was ‘full of his English castles from the Shannon to the sea’. It would prove his undoing; while inspecting a castle at Durrow, he was assassinated by a young Irish noble. Undaunted, his son Walter (1180–1240) perpetuated his father’s castle-building tendencies.
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