Bruce, Edward (p. 1274–1318), lord of Galloway, earl of Carrick, and king of Ireland, was a son of Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick in right of his wife, Marjorie; he was a younger brother of King Robert I of Scots. He followed his brother into rebellion against the rule of Edward I of England, and proved himself to be a competent military figure. He was styled ‘lord of Galloway’ sometime before March 1309, and was granted the title ‘earl of Carrick’ by his brother in October 1313. Bruce was one of the commanders at Bannockburn in 1314 and in April 1315 was recognised as the heir to the kingdom of Scotland. He landed, according to the Dublin annals, with a large force of 6,000 men near Larne, Co. Antrim, on 26 May 1315, and was inaugurated king of Ireland soon after. The impetus for the invasion seems to have been Robert I's desire to even the balance against the English, and so he sent his trusted brother to attempt to remove Ireland from the English sphere of influence. Edward Bruce, allied with the Gaelic Irish of Ulster, quickly captured the town of Carrickfergus and used it as a base of operations. Not all of the Gaelic Irish of Ulster supported him, but so many did so that he firmly controlled the earldom of Ulster, and then started to campaign into Louth, capturing Dundalk on 26 June. Divisions among the Anglo-Irish community, especially between Richard de Burgh (qv), 3rd earl of Ulster, and the justiciar, Edmund Butler (qv), allowed Bruce a wider range of action, especially after the defeat of the earl of Ulster at Connor on 10 September 1315.
Bruce was allowed to consolidate his position in Ulster in the winter of 1315–16, where he had firm support from the Gaelic Irish, some support from the Anglo-Irish of the region, and access to supplies and reinforcements from Scotland. The Scottish policy was to move quickly, raid, and destroy what they could in an attempt to demoralise the Anglo–Irish and promote a rebellion among the Gaelic Irish outside Ulster. In 1316 Bruce raided as far south as Castledermot and Athy but was caught by a larger royal force near Skerries on 26 January. Although the Scots should have been defeated by the crown forces, they managed to retreat in good order, probably due to confusion and dissent within the ranks of the Anglo-Irish magnates. The campaign in the south revealed the difficulties Bruce would have if he wanted to conquer Ireland: the further south he went, the further he was from his base. He remained in Ulster for a whole year till February 1317, securing his hold on the province by forcing the surrender of the final crown castles; he was crowned king of Ireland around 1 May 1316. He was joined by his brother, King Robert of Scotland, and reinforcements early in 1317, and moved south in February 1317, ravaging Meath and moving towards Dublin. However, the Scots did not attack Dublin, preferring to move further south in an attempt to join with the O'Briens of Thomond. The Dublin administration, led by Edmund Butler, shadowed the Scots but did not engage them, apparently preferring to wear them down through famine and attrition. The Bruces failed to join with the O'Briens and were forced to retreat to Ulster, shadowed all the way by the Anglo-Irish. Robert Bruce left Ireland in May 1317, leaving his brother to fend for himself.
The Bruce retreat to Ulster, accompanied by the arrival of the new lieutenant of Ireland, Roger Mortimer (qv), meant that the balance had finally shifted against Edward Bruce. His attempts to win a diplomatic victory by sending Irish Franciscans to Avignon to win papal support for his kingdom foundered when the pope, acting upon English pressure, ordered the Irish clergy to cease their allegiance to Edward Bruce. He remained in Ulster for almost a year and a half, finally moving south towards Dublin in October 1318. He was met near Faughart, Co. Louth, by a force led by John de Bermingham (qv) and Milo de Verdon, and died in the ensuing battle (14 October), ending his career as king of Ireland. The Bruce invasion of Ireland was one of the most important events in the history of medieval Ireland. The divided nature of Irish politics was both a help and a hindrance to Edward Bruce: the Anglo-Irish found it difficult to unite against him, but he found it equally difficult to unify the Gaelic Irish behind him. The destructiveness of the Scottish army was aggravated by the three-year famine that swept Europe at this time. The three-year campaign can be seen as a considerable blow to the fourteenth-century lordship of Ireland, as it pushed the colony's resources beyond the point of no return.