Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara (1585 –October, 1655) was an Irish soldier of the 17th century. After lengthy service as a mercenary in the Spanish Army, Preston returned to Ireland following the outbreak of the Rebellion of 1641. He was appointed to command the Leinster Army of the Irish Confederacy, enjoying some success as well as a number of heavy defeats such as the Battle of Dungans Hill in 1647 where his army was largely destroyed. Like other Confederate leaders, Preston was a Catholic Royalist. He remained in close contact with the Lord Lieutenant the Marquess of Ormonde, and was a strong supporter of an alliance between Confederates and Royalists against the English Republicans.
Following the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, he left for France where he joined the Royalist Court-in-exile and was made Viscount Tara by Charles II.
Preston was a descendant of Robert Preston, 1st Baron Gormanston, who in 1363 purchased the lands of Gormanston, County Meath, and who was Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1388. The Prestons came originally from the Lancashire town of that name, and arrived in Ireland some time before 1320. 
Sir Robert's great-grandson, Robert Preston, was created Viscount Gormanston in 1478; and the latter's great-grandson was Christopher, 4th Viscount Gormanstown (died 1599), whose second son was Thomas Preston. Thomas's mother was Catherine FitzWilliam, daughter of the wealthy Dublin landowner Sir Richard FitzWilliam of Baggotrath Castle. He was thus a close relative of Viscount FitzWilliam. 
Thomas's elder brother succeeded in the title of Viscount Gormanstown, so Thomas Preston pursued a career in the military. Since Roman Catholics were not allowed to hold state positions in Ireland, he entered the Spanish service and fought in the Thirty Years' War.[ citation needed ]
Preston was in the same Irish regiment in the Spanish service as Owen Roe O'Neill, and distinguished himself in the defence of Leuven against the French and Dutch in 1635. Between him and Owen Roe O'Neill, there was from the first intense jealousy.  There was also some tension between Preston and James Tuchet.[ citation needed ] In 1644 Tuchet, the Earl of Castlehaven was chosen to lead a major Confederate expedition into Ulster. Unlike Preston, Castlehaven was a military amateur but was he favoured over Preston as he was of a prominent English family.[ citation needed ]
Preston returned to Ireland after the Irish Rebellion of 1641 to support his fellow Irish Catholics. He was appointed general of Leinster, by the Irish Confederates,  which was the largest and best equipped of the Irish Catholic forces.
His performance as a commander in Ireland in the intermittent wars of 1642 to 1652 was mixed.  He won widespread praise for his successful siege of Duncannon in 1645, but lost a string of field battles including New Ross (1643) and Dungans Hill (1647). This last battle was disastrous for the Confederates, as their Leinster army was all but wiped out at it. In general, he was skilled in the art of siegecraft, but never had a very good understanding of mobile warfare. [ citation needed ]
Preston played a major part in the Confederates' internal strife, siding at first with radicals who opposed the first Ormonde peace, but later siding with the moderates who signed a conclusive treaty with Ormonde and the Royalists in 1648. His Royalism was motivated by his Old English roots and his extreme personal dislike of Owen Roe O'Neill, who led the opposing faction. He fought with the defeated Royalists during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, defending the city of Waterford until hunger and disease forced him to capitulate. He marched his remaining troops to Galway, the last Irish-held city on the island. In late 1652, after another lengthy siege, Galway too was reduced by plague and lack of supplies. Preston surrendered the city on condition that he and his troops be allowed to leave the country and find employment in the French army.[ citation needed ] He left the country for exile in France, where the Royalist court was in exile, in 1652.
In 1650 Charles II while in exile created him Viscount Tara; and after his departure from Ireland in 1652 he offered his services to Charles in Paris, where he died in October 1655. 
Preston's wife was a Flemish lady of rank, Marguerite Dieudonnée de Dhuy, by whom he had several children, one of his daughters, Catherine, being the second wife of Sir Phelim O'Neill, while her sister Mary married Colonel Francis Netterville, a grandson of Nicholas Netterville, 1st Viscount Netterville, and after his death married Colonel John Fitzpatrick. His son Anthony succeeded him as 2nd Viscount Tara, a title that became extinct on the murder by Sir Francis Blundell, 3rd Baronet and his brothers of Thomas, 3rd Viscount, in 1674.  Charles II, who during his exile lodged with the Preston family in Bruges, spoke warmly of the children and their guardian Miss Warren in his later years, but did nothing to repair their ruined fortunes: the younger Thomas in 1670 was said to be penniless. 
Lieutenant-General James FitzThomas Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, KG, PC, was an Anglo-Irish statesman and soldier, known as Earl of Ormond from 1634 to 1642 and Marquess of Ormond from 1642 to 1661. Following the failure of the senior line of the Butler family, he was the second representative of the Kilcash branch to inherit the earldom.
Owen Roe O'Neill was a Gaelic Irish soldier and one of the most famous of the O'Neill dynasty of Ulster. O'Neill left Ireland at a young age and spent most of his life as a mercenary in the Spanish Army serving against the Dutch in Flanders during the Eighty Years' War. After the Irish Rebellion of 1641, O'Neill returned and took command of the Irish Confederate Ulster Army. He is known for his victory at the Battle of Benburb in 1646.
James Tuchet, 3rd Earl of Castlehaven was the son of Mervyn Tuchet, 2nd Earl of Castlehaven and his first wife, Elizabeth Barnham. Castlehaven played a prominent role in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms that took place in the middle of the 17th century, and was particularly active in the conflicts in Ireland at this time.
The Irish Confederate Wars, also called the Eleven Years' War, took place in Ireland between 1641 and 1653. It was the Irish theatre of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, a series of civil wars in the kingdoms of Ireland, England and Scotland – all ruled by Charles I. The conflict had political, religious and ethnic aspects and was fought over governance, land ownership, religious freedom and religious discrimination. The main issues were whether Irish Catholics or British Protestants held most political power and owned most of the land, and whether Ireland would be a self-governing kingdom under Charles I or subordinate to the parliament in England. It was the most destructive conflict in Irish history and caused 200,000–600,000 deaths from fighting as well as war-related famine and disease.
Sir Phelim Roe O'Neill of Kinard was an Irish politician and soldier who started the Irish rebellion in Ulster on 23 October 1641. He joined the Irish Catholic Confederation in 1642 and fought in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms under his cousin, Owen Roe O'Neill, in the Confederate Ulster Army. After the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland O’Neill went into hiding but was captured, tried and executed in 1653.
Confederate Ireland, also referred to as the Irish Catholic Confederation, was a period of Irish Catholic self-government between 1642 and 1649, during the Eleven Years' War. Formed by Catholic aristocrats, landed gentry, clergy and military leaders after the Irish Rebellion of 1641, the Confederates controlled up to two-thirds of Ireland from their base in Kilkenny; hence it is sometimes called the "Confederation of Kilkenny".
Viscount Tara was a title in the Peerage of Ireland.
Sir Richard Bellings (1613–1677) was a lawyer and political figure in 17th century Ireland and in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. He is best known for his participation in Confederate Ireland, a short-lived independent Irish state, in which he served on the governing body called the Supreme Council. In later life, he also wrote a history of the Confederate period, which is one of the best historical sources on the Confederation.
Sir Donough MacCarty, 1st Earl of Clancarty (1594–1665), was an Irish soldier, and politician. He succeeded his father as 2nd Viscount Muskerry in 1641. He rebelled against the government, demanding religious freedom as a Catholic and defending the rights of the Gaelic nobility in the Irish Catholic Confederation. Later, he supported the King against his Parliamentarian enemies during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.
Sir James Dillon was an officer in the armies of the Irish Confederate Catholic during the Irish Confederate Wars (1641–53) and an MP for County Westmeath in the Irish House of Commons. He was likely born at Kilfaughny, Athlone and lived in the vicinity.
Richard Butler, 3rd Viscount Mountgarret (1578–1651) was the son of Edmund Butler, 2nd Viscount Mountgarret and Grany or Grizzel, daughter of Barnaby Fitzpatrick, 1st Baron Upper Ossory. He is best known for his participation in the Irish Confederate Wars on behalf of the Irish Confederate Catholics.
The Battle of New Ross also known as the Battle of Ballinvegga occurred on 18 March 1643 during the Irish Confederate Wars when the Leinster Confederates commanded by Thomas Preston were routed at Ballinvegga in County Wexford by Royalist forces commanded by the Marquess of Ormond.
Events from the year 1646 in Ireland.
Presented below is a chronology of the major events of the Irish Confederate Wars from 1641 to 1653. This conflict is also known as the Eleven Years War. The conflict began with the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and ended with the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland (1649–53).
Richard Butler of Kilcash (1615–1701) was an Irish soldier and landowner, the third son of Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles and brother of James, 1st Duke of Ormonde. He sided with the Irish Confederacy at the Irish Rebellion of 1641. He scouted the enemy on the morning of the Battle of Cloughleagh. His descendants succeeded to the earldom of Ormond when the senior branch of the family failed in 1758.
The Battle of Dungan's Hill took place in County Meath, in eastern Ireland on 8 August 1647. It was fought between the armies of Confederate Ireland and the English Parliament during the Irish Confederate Wars. The Irish army was intercepted on a march towards Dublin and destroyed. Although it is a little-known event, even in Ireland, the battle was very bloody and had important political repercussions. The Parliamentarian victory there destroyed the Confederate Leinster Army and contributed to the collapse of the Confederate cause and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649.
Thomas FitzWilliam, 1st Viscount Fitzwilliam (1581–1650) was an Irish nobleman of the Stuart age. He was born to wealth and privilege, and acquired a peerage, but due to his loyalty to the English Crown, he suffered considerable hardship during the English Civil War, and died in poverty.
William FitzWilliam, 3rd Viscount FitzWilliam (c.1610–1674) was an Irish nobleman of the Stuart era. He fought on the Royalist side during the English Civil War, but later made his peace with the Cromwellian regime. In his later years, he openly professed the Roman Catholic faith, which was then illegal.
Colonel John Butler was an officer of the Irish Confederate Army of the 1640s during the War of the Three Kingdoms.
The siege of Dublin took place in 1649 during the Irish Confederate Wars. It was a failed attempt by combined Irish Royalist and Confederate forces to capture the capital of Dublin which was held by English Republican forces under Michael Jones. It was part of a strategy by Duke of Ormonde, head of an alliance loyal to Charles II, to seize the remaining foothold of Ireland still under the control of the London Parliament.