O’MORE, RORY or RURY OGE (d. 1578), Irish rebel, called in Irish Ruaidhri og ua Mordha, was second son of Rory O’More, captain of Leix, by Margaret, daughter of Thomas Butler, and granddaughter of Pierce or Piers Butler, eighth earl of Ormonde [q. v.] (cf. Lodge, Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, iv. 19; and Harl. MS. 1425, f. 119b). Sir Henry Sidney once called him ‘an obscure and base varlet,’ but his family was one of the most important of the minor Irish septs, and also one of the most turbulent.
Rory O’More (fl. 1554), the father, was son of Connell O’More (d. 1537), and early acquired the character of a violent and successful chieftain. On the death of Connell a fierce dispute broke out between the three sons—Lysaght,Kedagh, and Rory—and their uncle Peter the tanist. Peter was for the time a friend of the Butlers. Consequently the deputy, Lord Leonard Grey, supported the sons; and, although Peter was acknowledged chief, Grey got hold of him by a ruse, and led him about in chains for some time, Kedagh then seems to have secured the chieftainship, Lysaght having been killed; but he died early in 1542, and Rory, the third brother, succeeded. He, after a period of turmoil, agreed on 13 May 1542 to lead a quieter life, and made a general submission, being probably influenced by the fact that Kedagh had left a son of the same name, who long afterwards, in 1565, petitioned the privy council to be restored to his father’s inheritance. Like other Irish chiefs of the time, O’More was only a nominal friend to the English. In a grant afterwards made to his eldest son his services to King Edward VI are spoken of; but they must have been of doubtful value, as an order of 15 March 1550-1 forbade any of the name of O’More to hold land in Leix (App. to 8th Rep. Dep.-Keep. Publ. Rec. Ireland). At some uncertain time between 1550 and 1557 Rory O’More was killed, and was succeeded by a certain Connell O’More, who may be the Connell Oge O’More mentioned in 1556 in the settlement of Leix (cf. Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, i. 400, and Cal. State Papers, Irish Ser. 1509-73, pp. 135,414). He was put to death in 1557 (Annals of the Four Masters, ii. 1545). Rory left two sons, Callagh and Rory Oge. Callagh, who was brought up in England, was called by the English ‘The Calough,’ and, as he describes himself as of Gray’s Inn in 1568, he may be assumed to be the John Callow who entered there in 1567 (Foster, Reg. of Gray’s Inn, p. 39). In 1571 Ormonde petitioned for the Calough’s return, and soon afterwards he came back to Ireland, where in 1582 he was thought a sufficiently strong adherent to the English to receive a grant of land in Leix (Cal. State Papers, Irish Ser. 1574-85, pp. 392, 412).
Rory Oge O’More, the second son, was constantly engaged in rebellion. He received a pardon on 17 Feb. 1565-6, but in 1571 he was noted as dangerous, and in 1572 he was fighting Ormonde and the queen at the same time, being favoured by the weakness of the forces at the command of Francis Cosby, the seneschal of Queen’s County, and the temporary absence of Ormonde in England. In this little rebellion the Butlers and the Fitzgeralds were united against him; but when, in November 1572, Desmond escaped from Dublin, it was Rory Oge O’More who escorted him through Kildare and protected him in Queen’s County (cf. 12th Rep. Dep.-Keep. Publ. Rec. Ireland, p. 78). He was mixed up in Kildare’s plots in 1574, and taken prisoner in November. But he was soon free, and Sidney, when on his tour in 1575, wrote of him: ‘Rory Oge O’More hath the possession and settling-place in the Queen’s County, whether the tenants will or no, as he occupieth what he listeth and wasteth what he will.’ However, O’More was afraid of the deputy, and when Sydney came into his territory, he went to meet him in the cathedral of Kilkenny (December 1575), and ‘submitted himself, repenting (as he said) his former faults, and promising hereafter to live in better sort (for worse than he hath been he cannot be).’ Hence we find a new pardon granted to him on 4 June 1576 (ib. p. 179). But in the next year he hoped for help from Spain, and, pushed on by John Burke, his friend, he made a desperate attack on the Pale. He allied himself with some of the O’Connors, and gathered an army. On 18 March 1576-7 the seneschal of Queen’s County was commanded to attack Rory Oge and the O’Connors with fire and sword (13th Rep. Dep.-Keep. Publ. Rec. Ireland, p. 25). There was good reason for active hostilities, as on the 3rd the insurgents had burned Naas with every kind of horror. Sidney wrote to the council the same month: ‘Rory Oge O’More and Cormock M’Cormock O’Conor have burnt the Naas. They ranne thorough the towne lyke hagges and furies of hell, with flakes of fier fastned on poles ends’ (Cal. State Papers, Irish Ser. 1574-85, p. 107; cf. Carew MSS. 1575-88, f. 110). Later in the year O’More captured Harrington and Cosby. They were rescued by a ruse. O’More’s wife and all but O’More himself and one of those who were with him were killed. Infuriated at being caught, O’More fell upon Harrington, ‘hacked and hewed’ him so that Sidney saw his brains moving when his wounds were being dressed, then rushing through a soldier’s legs, he escaped practically naked (Carew MSS. 1575-88, f. 356). He soon afterwards burned Carlow; but in an attempt to entrap Barnaby Fitzpatrick, baron of Upper Ossory, into his hands, he was killed by the Fitzpatricks in June 1578, and his head set up on Dublin Castle. He left a son, Owen McRory O’More, whom John Burke, son of the Earl of Clanricarde, took charge of. The English got hold of him after some difficulty, and foolishly allowed him to return to his own country. He became as great a rebel as his father, and, after a life of fighting and plundering, in which, however, he recovered almost all Leix, was killed in a skirmish near Timahoe, Queen’s County, 17 Aug. 1600. Moryson called him ‘a bloody and bold young man,’ ‘The Four Masters’ an ‘illustrious, renowned, and celebrated gentleman.’ After his death the importance of the O’Mores as a sept was gone.
[Bagwell’s Ireland under the Tudors; Webb’s Compendium of Irish Biogr.; Cal. of State Papers, Irish Ser., and of the Carew MSS.; State Papers; Annals of the Four Masters, ed. O’Donovan, vols. vi. vii.; authorities quoted.]
Source: Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 42 O’More, Rory (d.1578) by