In 1435 the Irish council complained to Henry VI that there is not left in the nether parts of the counties of Dublin, Meath, Louth, and Kildare, that join together, out of the subjection of the said enemies and rebels scarcely thirty miles in length and twenty miles in breadth, thereas a man may surely ride or go in the said counties to answer to the king’s writs and to his commandments.
The letter was accompanied by a request that the king render payment due to the lord lieutenant Thomas Stanley for his service in Ireland, and also suggested that the king should travel to the colony to help fight off its enemies. Accordingly, the perilous state of English Ireland was almost certainly exaggerated to strengthen the arguments for financial and military support from the crown. Nevertheless this letter demonstrates that in the minds of the settler elite, which staffed the Irish council, the four counties of Dublin, Meath, Louth, and Kildare were the bastion of English rule in Ireland, beset, the council would have us believe, by enemies on all sides. This picture of the ‘four counties’ as the political, and to a certain extent the cultural, stronghold of Englishness in Ireland can be found in other contemporary sources, as the region was perceived as both distinct and distinctly English.