Theobald Taaffe, 2nd Viscount Taaffe, d.1677

Commander of the Confederate army of Munster defeated at the battle of Knocknanuss by Lord Inchiquin in 1647.

The son of John Taaffe, first Viscount Taaffe of Corren, Theobald sat as MP for County Sligo in the Irish Parliament of 1639 and succeeded as second Viscount Taaffe upon the death of his father in 1642. After fighting for King Charles I during the English Civil War, he returned to Ireland in 1643 to attend the Confederate Assembly at Kilkenny and was appointed commander of the Confederate army of Connacht in 1644. Taaffe captured several government garrisons but his refusal to take the Confederate Oath of Association led to doubts regarding his loyalty and he was replaced as commander in Connacht.

Taaffe supported the Marquis of Ormond in his attempts to negotiate a treaty between the Confederates and the Royalists against Parliament. He accompanied Ormond when he tried to proclaim the First Ormond Peace during the summer of 1646, but the treaty was rejected by Archbishop Rinuccini and his supporters. Taaffe and other former Ormondists came over to the Confederates after Ormond surrendered Dublin to Parliamentarian forces and left Ireland in June 1647.

Supported by Viscount Muskerry, Taaffe was appointed commander of the Confederate army of Munster against Rinuccini's wishes. Muskerry and the Ormondist faction on the Supreme Council intended to keep the Munster army intact in order to safeguard their interests but in September 1647, Lord Inchiquin stormed and sacked the Rock of Cashel, desecrated the cathedral of St Patrick, and raided the town of Callan, only ten miles from the Confederate capital Kilkenny. Fearing that Inchiquin might join forces with the Dublin Parliamentarians for a combined attack on Kilkenny, the Supreme Council ordered Taaffe to bring Inchiquin's army to battle, resulting in the disastrous Confederate defeat at the battle of Knocknanuss on 13 November 1647.

In 1648, Ormond returned to Ireland and negotiated the Second Ormond Peace, which secured an alliance of Royalists, Confederates and Scots against the English Parliamentarians. Taaffe held a relatively insignificant post as commander of artillery in Ormond's army, which was defeated at Rathmines in August 1649. The following year, with Cromwell's forces advancing through Ireland, Ormond sent Taaffe to negotiate with Charles III, Duke of Lorraine, for money and supplies, but the negotiations came to nothing.

Under the terms for the Cromwellian settlement of Ireland, Taaffe was excepted from pardon and his estates confiscated by the English. However, he was reinstated at the Restoration and granted additional estates in counties Louth and Tyrone that had belonged to kinsmen implicated in the 1641 uprising. In June 1661, he was created Earl of Carlingford in the Irish peerage. Charles II sent him on a diplomatic mission to the Hapsburg Emperor Leopold and the prince-bishop of Munster in 1665 to solicit their co-operation against the Netherlands. This was his final public appointment. He died in December 1677 and was succeeded as second Earl of Carlingford by his third son Nicholas.


J.G. Alger, Theobald Taaffe, second viscount Taaffe and first earl of Carlingford, DNB 1898

Pádraig Lenihan, Theobald Taaffe, first earl of Carlingford, Oxford DNB, 2004