Sometimes when I read the stories behind my ancestors, I rather wish they'd died peaceably in their beds while sipping fine French Brandy and having their pillows plumped up by a favourite mistress,than constantly charging into battle and having their heads chopped off...

And now I've found one of the nastier deaths...a Sir Bartholomew Badlesmere...1275-1322...who changed his allegiance and suffered the penalty of being hanged, drawn and quartered at Canterbury Castle...

You were only hung until you passed out...then you were cut down and laid out flat...the executioner cut your stomach open and removed the entrails and laid them on your chest so you could see them steaming...sometimes the guts were set ablaze...though as that hastened your death it wasn't done often. Then you were literally chopped into quarters...with your head being the last.

It is,or was,perfectly possible to remain alive until your head was severed from your torso...though thankfully most people had died from shock before that. Sir Bartholomews head was displayed on a spike on the castle walls...

Meanwhile his wife Margaret,and her five children,were packed off to the Tower of London and held as prisoners for a while...they were eventually released.

Then I found Richard de Clare...and the story of the battle he was the main institgator of is complicated indeed,involving several of the Old Irish Chieftains with their unpronouncable names...Richard was an Anglo-Norman,determined to win a stronghold of Irish Chieftains in County Clare. The ensuing battle,known as the Battle of Dysert O'Dea,was led by Richard de Clare and English Noblemen against Conchobhar O'Deaghaidh and various other Irish Chieftains who won easily...Richard was apparently 'felled by an axe' and his son was killed by a Felim O'Connor and I'm wondering whether this is the same Felim O'Connor whose tomb is in Boyle Abbey grounds...

The victorous Irishmen marched back to Richards castle...Bunratty...and found that his wife had set fire to all the surrounding buildings and the castle itself and had high tailed back to England...all this excitement happened on either the 10th or the 16th May 1318 depending on whose account you read...

Have you worked out how to pronounce O'Deaghaidh yet?