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Old 06-16-2021, 05:18 PM   #111 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by DianneW View Post
Batlord you just want attention..when you grow up and say something nice people aint goona believe you either..that means your a hasbeen. either sort yourself or **** off...
I love that dynamic when I say something nice to someone and they look at me like they're trying to figure out if they should go check their porch for a flaming bag of dog****.
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There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power-stations; I hope that, encouraged now as ‘patriotism’, may remain a habit! But it won’t do any good, if it is not universal.
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Old 06-16-2021, 06:10 PM   #112 (permalink)
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Chapter X: Under the English Heel, Part V:
A Time to Stand - Rebellion, Retribution and Revenge


Timeline: 1760 - 1800

Secret Societies: Ireland Goes Underground


There have of course been secret organisations since antiquity, probably dating back to the Egyptians or farther, but they don’t seem to have surfaced in Ireland till the eighteenth century, and seem to have come about as a sort of response to the piss-poor treatment Irish Catholics were getting from their Protestant landlords. Part vigilante force, part protest and part almost mafia in makeup, they began to spring up after the Irish Famine and following the harshest of the Penal Laws. Like I said earlier, you could push a man just so far before he would eventually push back, and right or wrong, these bands of individuals - who might, perhaps, be seen as the forerunners of the Irish gangs who fought over control of areas like New York and Boston in the next century - were ready to push back, and hard.

The Whiteboys

Not to be confused with the present-day Proud Boys, or indeed any white supremacist gang, their name derived from the white smocks they wore on their nightly raids. White doesn’t seem the perfect choice for night raids, but what do I know? Maybe they were demonstrating their contempt for the landlords, maybe they just couldn’t get black ones. An unfortunate name to choose, certainly: makes them sound like the Irish chapter of the KKK, though of course they predate those racist fucks, so technically they’d have been the original… you know what? Let’s just cut off that dangerous and pointless line of thought right there before it goes any further.

Anyway, the tactics employed by the Whiteboys included levelling ditches, knocking down fences, threatening behaviour including but not limited to (gasp!) writing letters, and later more direct action such as wounding or killing cattle owned by the landlord and the acquisition of firearms. They were not political in any way, not were they sectarian, welcoming all religions to their ranks. They had a problem only with landlords (though these were invariably English and Protestant) who were forcing, or endeavouring to force, poor farmers and tenants off their lands so that they could be used for grazing cattle and so inflate the landlords’ already healthy pocket books.

The first real instance of the Whiteboys arriving on the scene is around 1761 in Limerick, and indeed most of these societies practiced their art in the south, with chapters in Tipperary, Cork and as far east as Waterford. As they grew in power and became emboldened, the Whiteboys seem to have developed into an almost paramilitary force, marching in parades to old Jacobite tunes and shouldering rifles. They threatened landlords, and also those who had gained land taken from those who had been evicted, advising them to move, or they would become targets too. Those who did not accede to the Whiteboys’ demands - for instance, putting a light in their house and having horses saddled and ready for their escape if needed - also faced the society’s wrath.

It’s probably fair to say that while they may have been popular with some citizens, notably any whose lands they reclaimed from the (usually absentee) landlords, the Whiteboys were feared and hated by more, so when the Crown struck back and Charles, Marquess of Drogheda, arrested over 150 Whiteboys, including a priest who had been helping them, there wasn’t exactly outrage from the Irish citizenry, even when the priest, tried and convicted of being an accessory to murder by helping the bandits, was hanged. The Whiteboys’ somewhat indiscriminatory tactics won them few friends among the people they were supposed to be helping, and they weren’t exactly looked upon as Robin Hood figures.

So much of a problem were they seen as being by the authorities that several Whiteboy Acts were passed by Parliament, the first, the original named one, in 1765, with four more up to 1831.

Hearts of Oak

Somewhat in contrast, the Hearts of Oak (also called Oakboys and Greenboys - just get the Orange boys in there now and we’d have the tricolour!) rose in the north, in County Antrim, and were more worried about paying taxes and mending roads than landlords using their land. In Ulster, every man was required to give six days’ service and six days of horse work every year building and maintaining roads, mostly for the convenience and comfort of the contribute-nothing gentry. They also resented paying tithes, taxes payable to a Church they did not support, the Church of England. They were mostly farmers and weavers, and their name came from their habit of wearing a piece of oak leaf in their hats (why not then Hats of Oak? Probably didn’t sound as hard and cool I guess).

Their protest movement quickly spread to five other counties of Ulster, and they didn’t seem to be fans of turnpike toll roads either, which you can understand; if they were responsible for maintaining the roads, why then should they also have to pay to travel them? Then there was the matter of “small dues”, where the Church would demand a payment from Catholics or Presbyterians who got married, held funerals or had a child baptised, whether or not it took place in an Anglican church. The Hearts of Oak seem to have had two ways of inducing people to join, one being to force or intimidate them and the other being to attract them via the lavish parades and marches they put on, an almost carnival-like atmosphere that differed radically from their southern counterparts’ militaristic displays.

They seem to have been less overtly violent, relying on threats and warnings rather than causing actual harm; they forced landowners, gentry and clergy to sign their petitions, turning up in force outside their houses and bringing along a handy gallows which the homeowner was left in no doubt they would use if he refused, and their power grew to the level that their demands were met, and those who did not comply were often run out of the town by them. Like the Whiteboys, they were eventually routed by the military, but unlike their compatriots, who had, as mentioned, actual Parliamentary Acts passed about them, the Oakboys received a general pardon and by 1763 had more or less disbanded.

Peep o’ Day Boys

While the above two groups were a mix of religions - mostly Presbyterian and Catholics - the Peep o’ Day Boys (nothing to do with lost sheep) were exclusively Protestant, and they too rose in Armagh, though about twenty years after the Oakboys. In contrast with most of Ulster, Armagh was in fact more or less about equal in its population of Catholics and Protestants, and the relaxing of some of the Penal Laws - specifically those allowing Catholics to vote and purchase land - irked the Protestants, who believed the heretics were getting off too lightly. Neither did they take kindly to being outbid on land plots by mere Catholics! Tensions were simmering and would soon reach a boiling point, though for the record most of the rest of Ireland was relatively at peace.

Not in Armagh though! Gangs began to be formed, like the Presbyterian Nappach Fleet Gang, the Protestant Bawn and the Catholic Bunker Hill Defenders, usually just shortened to Defenders. Each prepared for battle with the others, and in a scene reminiscent of Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, agreed to meet on Whit Monday 1785 and duke it out. When the battle was called off, the gangs dispersed but the Nappach Fleet turned to raiding Catholic homes and renamed themselves the Peep o’ Day Boys, the name being a local colloquialism for break of day, to tie in with their dawn raids. These raids were ostensibly to deprive Catholics of weapons, which under the Penal Laws they were forbidden to carry or own (though this law was rarely if ever observed and never enforced), but really it was just a pretext to beat up Catholics, whom they feared were getting too strong and close to being equal with them, which would never do.

As the Catholics armed themselves in defence against these attacks, battle lines were drawn and things were coming to a head.

The Defenders

Originally formed as the Bunker Hill Defenders, this Catholic organisation came into being in direct response to the raids made by the Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys. It should have come as no surprise to anyone; Ulster was Protestant-dominated (despite the distribution of populace in Armagh, Penal Laws and local prejudices kept Catholics out of most positions of power, so the authorities were almost exclusively Protestant) and while they did not exactly turn a blind eye to the attacks on Catholic homes, they didn’t exactly go after the perpetrators in any real way either, unlike the Whiteboys. There’s no evidence to suggest such, but you’d have to think that on some level they might even have tacitly supported or encouraged them. Left with nobody to speak for or protect their people, the Catholics naturally formed their own society.

Perhaps oddly for Catholics, their oath included a promise of loyalty to King George III; they took to patrolling at night, on the lookout for the Peep o’ Day Boys, at first buying arms from a Protestant shop but later raiding the homes of the gentry to get their weapons. The Defenders would be the most long-lived of the secret societies in Ireland, later linking up with the Ribbonmen and the United Irishmen as Ireland began to fight back in a serious way. The two gangs regularly fought it out, meeting often at markets and fairs, laying waste to all around them and causing much bodily harm, even occasionally death, and terrorising the towns. These periods of gang warfare were known, in a typically understated Irish way (after all, we called over thirty years of sectarian violence “The Troubles” and for us World War II was “The Emergency”!) as “The Armagh Disturbances”.

There we’ll leave them for now, but the Defenders have a bigger part to play in the attempt to liberate their country, as we’ll see later.

Hearts of Steel

Like the Hearts of Oak, they were a Protestant organisation, but unlike their almost-namesakes they concentrated more on rent and evictions. In that way, they could perhaps be said to be a hybrid organisation, taking elements from the Whiteboys and the Hearts of Oak. They too operated in Antrim, which certainly seemed to be a hotbed of conflict in an otherwise peaceful Ireland in the middle of the eighteenth century. They arose later than the Hearts of Oak, possibly considered their successors, in 1769, as a direct rebuff to the middlemen, speculators who bought land from absentee landlords and rented it at twice or three times the price they had paid, to poor (presumably Protestant) tenants, thereby profiteering.

Incensed by the capture and imprisonment of a tenant who had been forced off his land by a greedy landlord who sold it to a middleman, the tenant charged with maiming the landlord’s cattle, the Hearts of Steel surrounded his house and threatened to burn it down if the man was not released. Though charged by the army, the Hearts of Steel carried through on their threat, and rather than see further destruction, the mayor agreed to release the prisoner. High rents and a poor harvest led to deprivation for the poor, and the Hearts of Steel took up this cause and fought for it.

They maimed cattle (“houghing”), demanded land be leased at a fair rate, and forced farmers to sell food at affordable prices. In March 1772 a huge force of about 2000 Steelboys descended on Gifford Castle, scene of the taking of their leaders a few days earlier, and engaged in a pitched battle with the owner of the castle, Richard Johnston, forcing him to flee. He returned however with military support and drove them off, later pursuing and hunting them down so that they could stand trial in Dublin, where, for some reason, none were found guilty.

Nevertheless, the end was near for the Hearts of Steel, as the Irish government, fed up with the Armagh disturbances, sent in the army and brutally repressed the protests.

Although Irishmen had fought against English occupation for hundreds of years, almost always this was along sectarian lines. Catholics, dispossessed and disenfranchised, and under some English monarchs tortured and killed in great numbers, wished really only to be equal with the Protestant settlers who had been forced upon them. Truth to tell, many probably wanted the Ascendancy out of Ireland, but at the same time nobody really envisioned or fought for an independent Ireland, so far as I can see, unlike the Scots who battled bravely for their right to self-governance in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

To some degree, I imagine, the protection of the English king or queen, rather than their wrath, would have been preferred by the Irish, and while they struggled to replace Protestant monarchs on the English throne with more sympathetic Catholic ones, it doesn’t seem as if any Irish tried to bring down the actual monarchy. Even the Gunpowder Plot, orchestrated by Catholics, did not see the government of England disappearing, only replaced by one they wanted. In theory, it’s likely that, had the monarch of any era granted Catholics in Ireland the same rights as Protestants, the Irish would have been happy to have continued to be subservient to the English Crown.

So it would appear that the first real efforts at true independence for Ireland came in the middle of the eighteenth century, and his was one of the first, if not the first, attempt at releasing Ireland from its forced union with Great Britain.

What’s more, he achieved his aim.

Kind of.
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Old 06-16-2021, 06:21 PM   #113 (permalink)
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Henry Grattan (1746 - 1820)

One of the greatest advocates on Ireland’s side during the latter half of the eighteenth century, Grattan, though a Protestant, supported Ireland’s right to self-governance, though he still believed it should always pay homage to the English king. Under Poynings Law (1494) no legislation could be passed in Ireland until it had gained the approval of the English Privy Council, and in fact laws could be passed pertaining to Ireland by the English government without any involvement of the Irish Parliament, making it entirely dependent on, and subservient to, the Crown. Grattan intended to have this ancient law abolished, so that Irish matters could be decided by Irishmen, or at least, Anglo-Irish, as Catholics - what you would have to call the true Irish - were still banned from holding any public office by the Penal Laws still in force, and that most definitely included sitting in Parliament. Grattan was a patriot, born in Dublin and having studied at Trinity College, and quickly rising to the leadership of the Irish Patriot Party, which stood in strong opposition to what was known as the Castle Party, those hardline Protestants who wished England to retain total control over Irish legislation and fought any efforts to the contrary.

Grattan took his seat in the Irish Parliament in 1775. A year later, England was having serious trouble with another, younger colony, and events in Ireland began to take something of a back seat, less important now than bringing the upstart America to heel. Partly as a response to this, and also using the absence of British troops as a springboard to further their own political agenda, the Volunteers were formed.

The Volunteers

When British troops were sent to the colony to fight in what would become the American War of Independence, wealthy landowners feared for their own safety and that of their property, worrying about who and what would fill the power vacuum which opened up. I guess it’s easiest to equate the Volunteers with the British Home Guard that ostensibly protected Britain from Nazi invasion during the Second World War. They were held in contempt by the regular army, who deemed them as barely fit for service and ensured they were given the crappiest and most menial jobs they could be given; their commitment was questioned, as was their courage. They were basically militias of Protestant (obviously: at this point the Penal Laws still forbade Catholics to carry arms, and while the secret societies already discussed may have got around that, there could be no official sanction for arming Catholics) who feared Spanish or French invasion of Ireland, believing that England’s traditional enemies might take advantage of the bulk of His Majesty’s forces being abroad. There were however some Catholics and Presbyterians admitted after the Catholic Relief Act of 1778.

With the British victory over the Spanish in 1780 the fears of invasion dissipated, and the Volunteers turned to political aims, intending to gain concessions for Ireland, such as free trade with Britain, and with their power growing the British government acceded to their demands. The chapters in Ulster seem to have been the most militant, calling for Irish legislative independence (while of course remaining loyal to the king) and between pressure from them and Grattan (no I haven’t forgotten who I’m writing about) what was known as the Constitution of 1782 came to be, and the largely autonomous parliament that ruled - for a few short years - was known as Grattan’s Parliament.

Grattan’s Parliament

While it would take another 150 years before Ireland would gain her total independence, the Constitution of 1782 was the first major step in freeing her from the bondage of the English Crown. Since Norman times the Irish Parliament had acted only under the sufferance of the monarch, effectively an arm of the English government. Therefore no laws could be passed there without the approval of the king or queen, which meant of course no laws the English government did not agree with. Grattan was, however, loyal to the Crown and wished to preserve the connection with England, just not be at its whim. He was also for Catholic emancipation, which as you can imagine did not go down well across the water. Or indeed in Ireland, at least with the landed classes, who had made their money off the backs of poor Catholics, either as servants (virtual slaves with few if any rights) or by possessing their land for themselves. Equal rights for Catholics was most assuredly not on the Protestant agenda!

Nevertheless, when the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1791 was passed in the British Parliament, Grattan managed to get an Irish version passed only two years later, which eased pressure on Irish Catholics, allowing them into some public offices and to be educated, but the king’s stubborn refusal to even countenance the freedom of his Catholic subjects would explode in violence and uproar seven years later.
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:04 AM   #114 (permalink)
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Have not read at all today, as I honestly have been chasing my tail last few days..Bought this heavy duty farmy type grass cutter used it twice and the engine has blown..Taken it to a Honda dealership in Ruffec, a stone's throw away in the large trailer..ramped it to get in on board. Storms last night and the garden is now a shared one with the neighbours..they have 4 hunting bloody dogs snarling and growling at everything and everyone..lucky they keep them in 90% of the time.
This evening, going to have a good read slot. Printed off over 100 pages so that is a Real Book here... Trollybookends...everyone is getting new names..could be worse my mate Ash is now Willysilly..I shall go no further to embarrass you, as if........
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Old 06-18-2021, 02:40 AM   #115 (permalink)
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Rebellion! Ireland fights back

Having seen the success the French had had in 1789, Irish Catholics banded together with Presbyterians from Ulster to form a society they called the United Irishmen, to try to force reform and fair treatment for all. The recent American War of Independence, and the triumph of George Washington’s fledgling colony over the might of the British Empire, was also fresh in their minds. Having sent a declaration to the French people on the second anniversary of the taking of the Bastille which read "As Irishmen, We too have a country, and we hold it very dear—so dear... that we wish all Civil and Religious Intolerance annihilated in this land,” the Irish were honoured in turn by the Revolution on Bastille Day the following year with the French National Assembly hailing the soldiers of the new republic as "the advance guard of the world".


William Drennan (1754 - 1820)

The man who proposed the United Irishmen was a physician, a poet and a radical democrat. Born a Presbyterian in Belfast, he moved to Dublin in 1789 and got involved first with the Volunteers, and then helped create the United Irishmen, seeing Britain’s embarrassing defeat by the Americans as the perfect time to force Ireland’s agenda. He suggested the society as a “benevolent conspiracy, a plot for the people” and contended its true aim would be “Real independence to Ireland and Republicanism.” The United Irishmen would push for total emancipation for Catholics and proper representation for all peoples in the Parliament.

When he was arrested in May 1793 however, accused of sedition and consorting with French spies, though acquitted and having called all Irish men to stand to arms, he seems to have been abandoned by his fellows, and moved to Scotland, and while there worried that the course the French Revolution was taking, as Catholicism - indeed, all religions - were being trodden on and denounced by the Assembly, might turn Irish people (especially Catholics, known to be always devout to their religion) from these possible allies. The bloody and often indiscriminate violence that followed the coup d’etat didn’t seem to give him such a problem.


Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763 - 1798)

Known forever after in Irish history only as Wolfe Tone, he would go on to be one of the great heroes of, and martyrs to Irish independence. Although a Protestant (and an Anglican at that) he was forward-thinking enough and had enough patriotic fervour to reach across the sectarian divide and suggest that all Irish people, of all faiths and religions work together for the true independence of Ireland. He abhorred Grattan’s acceptance of the Constitution of 1782, believing it was a compromise, and his insistence on Ireland remaining tied to the Crown. Wolfe Tone proposed full and free autonomy for his native land, and to this end helped create the United Irishmen with William Drennan.

Despairing, however, of any chance of acceptance by the Irish Parliament, which was still controlled by Protestants, Tone set his sights on France, and when the Reverend William Jackson, an Irish priest who had been exiled to France, arrived to scope out Ireland as a possible invasion target from which to harry the English, Tone received him enthusiastically, telling him Ireland was ripe for revolution. Unfortunately, the bishop was betrayed and, having been arrested for treason, killed himself by taking poison and collapsing during his trial. Before fleeing to America, Tone met with other United Irishmen and together they swore “never to desist in our efforts until we had subverted the authority of England over our country, and asserted our independence." Tone spent only a year in America, thoroughly disenchanted with the place before making his way to France, where he requested a French invasion of Ireland. There too he recorded his philosophy of independence for his native country, words which would later appear on his tomb: "Our independence must be had at all hazards. If the men of property will not support us, they must fall; we can support ourselves by the aid of that numerous and respectable class of the community, the men of no property"

The invasion was agreed, and he accompanied an expedition at the close of 1796 which was sent to support the coming Irish revolution, but weather off Bantry Bay made it impossible for the French vessels to land, and they were forced to return home. He tried again - with both the French and the Dutch (Batavia) - and finally managed to land in Ireland in September of 1798, but his fleet was defeated by the British, he was taken prisoner, put on trial, and committed suicide rather than wait for an answer to his request that he be shot.

The bloody massacres in Paris of 1792 added fuel to a panicky fire among Protestants that should Catholics gain power they would act in a similar manner, savagely taking retribution on their oppressors. However the French Republic’s move away from the respect for and authority of the Pope alienated them from the Irish Catholics, who deplored the capture of Pius VI under Napoleon, his imprisonment and later death. On the one hand, you’d have to imagine that George III, traditionally an enemy of Rome since Henry VIII’s time, might have welcomed the news of the old pope’s death, but on the other, he certainly didn’t like the idea of the new French Republic extending their revolution to Italy and claiming it, too, a republic. So the last thing he wanted was an Irish revolution to go with it.

But that’s exactly what he got.
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Old 06-18-2021, 03:21 AM   #116 (permalink)
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Prelude to the Rising: The Battle of the Diamond and the formation of the Orange Order

With tensions between Protestants and Catholics as high as ever, feelings running high at the rise of the United Irishmen and their potential threat to the Ascendancy power, the two secret societies, the Peep o’ Day Boys and the Defenders arranged to meet at the Diamond, a small crossroads halfway between Loughgall and Portadown in Armagh. Despite the efforts of four Protestant landowners and three Catholic priests to broker a truce or peace treaty, the two factions met on September 21 1795 and prepared for battle. It appears from contemporary accounts that in fact the peace deal had been struck, but that it was Defenders not from Armagh but from Tyrone, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth, who had come for the fight and were disappointed to see there would be none, who kicked it all off.

The Peep o’ Day Boys, heading home, were accosted by a force of about 300 Defenders and turned to engage them. Though outnumbered, the Protestants had the high ground, and were better skilled with weapons, resulting in their taking no casualties in the short brutal battle while accounts vary of the losses taken by the Catholics, from thirty to forty-eight. Clearly, the Peep o’ Day Boys won the Battle of the Diamond decisively. After the battle, glorying in their victory, the Peep o’ Day Boys founded the Orange Order, with the declaration of defending “the king and his heirs so long as he or they support the Protestant Ascendancy.” Pretty much immediately afterwards they took their revenge on Catholics, burning houses, attacking homes and perpetrating what have gone down in history as “the Armagh outrages”.

This was part of a concerted effort on the part of the Orangemen to drive “from this quarter of the country the entire (sic) of its Roman Catholics population”, from where the oft-used phrase originated, that appeared on signposts around the county and warned Catholics they had two choices: “To Hell or Connaught” (Connaught or Connacht being one of the other provinces of Ireland, part of what is now the Republic, where the likes of Galway and other western towns are) - essentially kicking them out of Ulster and over the border. Their intimidatory tactics worked, and within a month over 7,000 Catholics had been forced to leave Armagh. The Governor, Lord Gosford remarked of what was pretty little less than a pogrom: "It is no secret that a persecution is now raging in this country ... the only crime is ... profession of the Roman Catholic faith. Lawless banditti have constituted themselves judges ... and the sentence they have denounced ... is nothing less than a confiscation of all property, and an immediate banishment.”

This process would, you may be surprised to hear, be repeated almost two hundred years later, when in the 1970s Catholics would be forced from Ulster in the face of growing Protestant oppression and would seek refuge here in the south.

Maith an Chailin!* A Woman’s place is in the fight - the women also rise

(*Literally, good girl!)

Nobody would venture to suggest that Ireland was ever a hotbed of suffrage, and it’s hard to name one Irish advocate for women’s rights, but then that does come with the proviso that up until 1923 we were not a sovereign nation and would have to go along with what was decided in Britain. Nevertheless, like the women of France during the French Revolution, and despite attempts by revisionist historians to write them out and ignore them, women did fight in and support the rebellion of 1798. Not all of them physically fought, but many offered shelter or encouragement or whatever they could to the rebels, and here I’d like to look at some of those names which have triumphed above the efforts of male chroniclers to pretend all an Irish woman was good for was making babies or homes, or as it was disparagingly put at the time, that they could only be “maids or madonnas.” Yeah.

Mary Ann McCracken (1770 - 1866)

Sister of Henry Joy McCracken, one of the founders of the United Irishmen, she provided shelter for her brother and his comrades after their defeat at the Battle of Antrim (SPOILER ALERT! Now come on: you didn’t really think the rebellion was going to succeed, did you? What about 1916?) and brought them food and supplies as they hid in the hills. She was preparing their escape by sea when her brother was recognised by soldiers, and he and his compatriots arrested. After his execution, she took care of his illegitimate daughter, as nobody else in the family would recognise her.

She was a reformer, social campaigner and later an abolitionist, working to better the lives of Belfast’s children, setting up schools and orphanages and engaging teachers to educate the children. She helped form, and was chair of, the Ladies Committee of the Belfast Charitable Society from 1832 - 1855, inspecting homes to which children from the orphanage and poorhouse had been sent to ensure their safety and suitability. She led the Womens Abolition Committee in Belfast, tirelessly campaigning for an end to slavery, and was aghast when the cause was so quickly dropped after the rebellion, but even at the ripe of age of 88 she haunted the Belfast docks, handing out anti-slavery pamphlets to those boarding ships headed to America.

Mary Shackleton Leadbetter* (1728 - 1826)

In contrast to Bridget Dolan, of whom we will hear soon, she was a total pacifist, involved with the Society of Friends, a Quaker organisation, which was her faith, but she experienced first-hand the brutality of the English forces after the defeat of the rebels in 1798. She was a diarist, and writes of yeomanry “from whose bosom pity seems banished” and soldiers who occupied her village of Ballitore, torturing and flogging the people, till a force of 300 rebels took the town, taking revenge on the oppressors before being themselves routed by a returning English force. Mary herself was almost killed by a soldier, and saw the town doctor, a man who she “believed had never raised his hand to injure any one” be killed “unarmed and alone”. When the village was burned, Mary fled with the rest of the survivors.

* May be Leadbeater, as this is how it’s spelled in some accounts

Elizabeth Pim

Another Quaker, she did not take part in the rebellion and seems to be one of the few who did not take sides, seeing the brutality of it from both factions. On May 24 she watched the rebels approach the town and battle with the British, and when the latter were withdrawn the next day it seems to have been a shock to the villagers, many of whom accompanied them as they left, presumably for protection. Two days later, as the rebels took the town, she saw the garrison which had been left behind surrender but be butchered by the Irishmen, priests and teachers among them.

By May 28 the British forces had retaken the village, having been only dissuaded from levelling it with cannon by the discovery that there were Quakers living there, with whom they had no quarrel. Showing there was after all little difference between the two sides, the British soldiers then began to plunder the village and celebrate their victory.

Elizabeth Richards

On the other side of the fence you have this lady, a devout Anglican, a wealthy landowner (or I should say, married to one, as women did not have the right to own property at this time, no matter their faith or standing, and depended entirely on their husbands in that regard, and in the eyes of the law) and a staunch supporter of the Crown, who hated the United Irishmen and their cause, and worried what would happen to her should their rebellion succeed. A very brave woman, she refused to follow the example of her contemporaries in converting, even though she was of the very clear conviction that it might cost her her life.

Assured by a Catholic priest that no massacre was intended (though as we have seen, slaughter on a smaller scale, village by village or town by town did occur; whether that was planned or just the result of frustrations, long-pent-up hatred and the euphoria of victory is uncertain) she nevertheless referred to the Catholics as “savages” and had full confidence in the power of the Protestant soldiers to defeat them. Perhaps naive in her arrogance, she refused to countenance rumours - which were true - of Orangemen killing and raping as they came; maybe this description would nor or could not fit into her overall view of her countrymen as saviours and patriots. She wore, under duress and only to preserve her life, the Irish colours but trampled on them when she had a chance, tried to convince rebels to give up their struggle and submit to the authority of the Crown, but for all that, she made no move against the rebels, fuming instead in impotent anger as she waited to be delivered.

Mary Moore (1776 or 1777 - 1844)

But here was one woman who was a true patriot. Both she and her father were United Irishmen, and she would courier messages from Lord Edward Fitzgerald to other rebels by the ruse of pretending to be injured and having to go to the doctor, even going so far as have her arm bandaged up and her clothes bloody. When the rebellion failed, Lord Edward was staying with Mary, masquerading as her French tutor, and when news came to them that the house was to be raided she managed to move Lord Edward to the house of another trusted rebel, Francis Magan.

Well… not quite. Magan turned out to be yet another informer, and sold her out, pretending he knew nothing about it the next day when he called to ask why Lord Edward had not arrived. The previous night, as she had tried to move him to Magan’s, they had been intercepted by Major Sirr (no, really) but His Lordship had legged it and Mary had him hidden at the house of another sympathiser. When their own house was raided later that day Mary ran to tell the rebels, who were meeting nearby, to be on their guard, and as she returned she was attacked by a British soldier, who cut her with his bayonet. He was shot by an Irish sniper for his troubles.

In the evening the house of Thomas Murphy was raided and Lord Edward taken prisoner. He died in June, succumbing in prison to the wounds he had sustained during his arrest. Mary’s father was arrested the next month, imprisoned for a year and looked likely to be transported, until Mary bribed the prison doctor to rule he was insane, and he was released. Interviewed in 1842, Mary averred that Magan had to be the informer, as he was the only other one who knew where they had been going: even Lord Edward was kept in the dark. Mary died of an unspecified illness in 1844, remembered as a true Irish patriot.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Gray ( c. 1778 - 1798)

Remembered in song and poem, little is actually known of the life of one of the true Irish heroines of the rebellion, but it is known that she was a Presbyterian, fought riding a horse alongside her brother and lover, holding the (or an) Irish flag, and was killed at the Battle of Ballynahinch shortly after the two men were cut down, pleading for the life of their sister with British soldiers (the hated Yeomen, who seem to equate to the Black-and-Tans of the early twentieth century) who had no intention of sparing her because she was a woman. Perhaps surprisingly (or perhaps because it was not opportune for them to do so) they did not rape Betsy - who was said to be beautiful - but cut off her sword hand and then shot her through the head.

Later the wife of one of the “Yeos” was seen wearing her earrings and her green petticoat, which ostracised them from the Catholics in their divided community.
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Old 06-18-2021, 03:24 AM   #117 (permalink)
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Red, White and… Green? The influence of the French Revolution and the American War of Independence on the Irish Rising

I noted elsewhere in this article that had Catholics been granted the same rights as Protestants in Ireland, there would have been little appetite for any sort of rebellion. Overall, Irish people didn’t seem to have a problem with being ruled by an English king, just one who oppressed them on the grounds of their religion. So up until about now, the mid to late eighteenth century, I see no moves towards gaining independence for Ireland. But with the French Revolution seeming, on the face of it, so successful, and with the breaking away of the American colonies from the iron and unfair grip of the king, to say nothing of the Polish Constitution passed in 1791, it must have looked to the United Irishmen as if Ireland had a chance. England had been weakened by its war with America (both in manpower and, more importantly, in its reputation as one of the superpowers of the eighteenth century) and the French, initially at least, were fellow Catholics.

I’m sure it wasn’t that glib or simple that the Irish just thought, sure why not, let’s give it a go, but the time must have seemed opportune to press their cause. In other ways, it might have been the worst possible time. Fuming at his defeat in America, worried over the expanding reach of the new French Republic, which had just taken Rome and captured the Pope, King George III might have been in no mood to take shit from a load of piss-poor Catholics and assorted what he would have considered traitors. While it’s unlikely he was spoiling for a fight, you could make the argument that he might have relished the chance to bolster back up his reputation, take out his frustration at being kicked out of America, and ready too to show the French they weren’t going to have it all their own way, that Britain was still, despite what they might have heard, a force to be reckoned with.

Of course, I could equally be talking complete bollocks. I’m no historian and these conclusions or guesses are not based on anything other than my own reading of the situation, which may be way off. Maybe the Irish just decided they’d had enough with being ruled by kings and queens. They’d tried unsuccessfully for centuries to sponsor the rise of a Catholic monarch to the English throne, and even when their prayers were answered, he was still a bastard to them. So it’s possible they said, Catholic or Protestant king? You know what? We’ll have none of the above. And decided it was time to be their own masters.

His Majesty, of course, had other ideas on that score.


Land of Spies and Snitches: Turncoats and Traitors of the Rising

Not every Irishman was dedicated to the overthrow of British rule over Ireland, it would seem, and as in so many instances down through our history, there was a line of people willing to sell out their comrades for either amnesty, money or both; people who betrayed Ireland at a time when, had it not been for their cowardice and treachery, we might have had a chance of winning our independence, something we would now have to wait a further 150 years for.

According to Brendan O' Cathaoir, writing in The Irish Times in 2004, Irishmen were not the best at keeping secrets in the first place, and while there were plenty ready to sell them out, some of their own talk may have sealed the fate of many. The idea of a quiet Irishman in a pub - particularly a fired-up, oppressed, English-hating would-be rebel, is hard to imagine, if such a creature existed. So some of the secret plans of the United Irishmen were doubtless loudly proclaimed in drinking establishments, boasted of, used as threats and forecasts of things to come, and surely reached the ears of those who should not have heard of such things.

All of that notwithstanding though, let’s look at some of the people who were instrumental in thwarting the first real attempt by Ireland to throw off her shackles and free her people.


Leonard McNally (1752 - 1820)

Probably not fair to call him a supergrass, as that referred more to a turncoat, someone captured for committing crime (usually of a paramilitary kind) and who turned informer for money. Supergrass was an expansion on the term grass, which has two proposed origins, one being that it comes from grasshopper, which is said to be Cockney rhyming slang for copper (though I’ve never heard of anyone using that term) and the other refers to the traditional snake in the grass, denoting a traitor. Whichever story is true, while McNally may not have been a supergrass he certainly was a grass, a spy who worked for the British government and betrayed his comrades in the United Irishmen.

A barrister by trade, McNally took it one step further, collaborating with the prosecution while ostensibly conducting the prisoner’s defence, to ensure a conviction. It does appear though that he didn’t join the United Irishmen intending to betray them (from all accounts and as far as I can gather) but was spooked by the betrayal of Reverend Jackson as he and Wolfe Tone discussed a French invasion of Ireland. He obviously found it profitable then to use his position in the organisation, of which he was a founder member, to pass secrets back to the British and ensure the coming rebellion failed. There’s no record of his having been pressured or threatened to do this, so whether he had intended to become a spy or it just happened, he’s still a bastard and his name reviled here in Ireland.

Seems he was never caught, either. His treachery (or patriotism I guess, depending on which side of the conflict you’re on) only came to light after his death.


Edward John Newell (1771 - 1798)

Possibly the worst and most prolific informer who did more to turn in rebels during and after the rebellion, Newell started out of course as a member of the United Irishmen, though originally he had tried to hold down various jobs, the longest being as a painter and glazier, his naturally fractious nature leading to his parting with his employer after two years. He did spend nearly a year at sea, but in the eighteenth century that could be almost just one voyage, so it’s no great indication that he took to the life of a sailor.

It’s not clear whether he joined the United Irishmen in order to inform on them, whether he felt pushed into it by circumstances or whether he just changed loyalties, but he became an invaluable spy for Dublin Castle. His preferred method seemed to be to accompany a squad of soldiers through villages and towns (suitably disguised) and point out rebels, who would later be arrested. He boasted in his autobiography, rather provocatively titled The Life and Confessions of Newell, the Informer, that he had sent 227 men into the tender mercies of the British government, for which he says he was paid £2,000.

Unlike McNally though he did not survive the rebellion, being assassinated (it is said, and only expected too) by the United Irishmen as he made plans to escape by sea to America. Bones found on the beach at Ballyholme in Bangor, Co, Down in 1828 were said to be his, indicating he may have drowned - or more likely, been drowned or thrown into the sea there.

There were even female traitors and spies…


Bridget Dolan (1777 - )

Perhaps the quintessential Irish tomboy, Bridget mixed with boys and learned to ride, a skill which would stand her in good stead when it came to taking part in the rebellion, which she did, riding on raiding trips and possibly reconnaissance ones too. In the rebellion, women were used as couriers, nurses, to carry supplies and carry messages and information to the men. Bridget was different. At Kilballyowen she took part in the ambush of a military supply convoy, setting the baggage car on fire. She later turned traitor though, selling out her comrades to the English and bearing witness against them in their trials after the rebellion was crushed (what? I told you that already).

Samuel Turner (1765 - 1807)

Appropriately named indeed! With aliases such as “Richardson” and “Fumes” he betrayed the United Irishmen, having been captured as part of their executive just prior to the rising, and was paid afterwards a pension from the British government. He it was who passed the information to the British that Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Arthur O’Connor were meeting in Hamburg to secure support for the rebellion. It’s said he died in a duel in the Isle of Man. He is however another one whose treachery was never uncovered while he lived, and he enjoyed the reputation of an Irish patriot, even sharing the company of later freedom fighter Daniel O’Connell.

Francis Higgins

One of four editors of supposedly nationalist newspapers and journals which paid obeisance to Dublin Castle and in addition informed on the Irish rebels, Higgins ran the so-called Freeman’s Journal, and was in fact a kind of handler or spymaster, controlling, among others, Francis Magan, who as we saw betrayed Lord Edward Fitzgerald. He was known as “the sham squire”, due to his actions in securing a bride through the agency of forged documents which portrayed him falsely as a wealthy landowner, his wife fleeing in the wake of the discovery of his treachery, and her father taking an action against him which landed him in jail. After a further fraud returned him behind bars Higgins fell in with the owner of a pub and gambling den, Charles Reilly, from whom he assumed ownership of both it and Reilly’s wife until her death, after which he turned the pub into a brothel.

In perhaps an attempt to go a bit more legitimate (and in so doing increase his rather low standing in Irish society) Higgins next got into the clothing trade, then became a barrister and finally had a chance to buy a share in, and then buy outright the newspaper mentioned above, The Freeman’s Journal. He made most of his profit from contracts received from the British government, and was happy to work for them, employing a network of spies which grew to a complement of seven at its height. In 1801 he received an annual pension from the government of £300 a year but died a year later.

Thomas Reynolds (1771 - )

Born a Catholic, he originally support the Catholic Convention of 1792, but later became more cautious and converted to Protestantism. He married a sister of Theobald Wolfe Tone’s wife, and joined the United Irishmen, ironically at the invitation of the man he was to betray, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, becoming its treasurer and given the rank of colonel. According to his own statement, when he realised how violent the rebellion was to be, he turned against them and informed Dublin Castle where the ruling council known as the Directory (surely as a nod to the same assemblage in France) could be found, leading to their arrest.

Having retired to his castle in Kilkea, he was more than surprised, as a government agent, to find it attacked and destroyed by British forces. In his biography Life of Thomas Reynolds, 1839, his son recounts the destruction of the castle: “It has been my father’s lot since then to witness the ravages of war in the peninsula, where Spanish, French, Portuguese and English, with their German auxiliaries, men trained to rapine, alternately plundered and devastated the country; but in all that disorder of which he was an eye-witness for six years, he has frequently assured me that he never saw such cold-blooded, wanton, useless destruction as was committed [by the King’s troops] at Kilkea and the surrounding country.”

After repeated attempts to kill him, he eventually sought the protection of Dublin Castle, declaring himself firmly on the side of the British, was given lodging there and gave evidence against his former comrades. He later left Ireland and went to Lisbon, Iceland and eventually died in Paris in 1836 at the age of 65.
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Old 06-18-2021, 09:19 AM   #118 (permalink)
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Awesome post Trollheart! Top 5 thread of all time on musicbanter!
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Old 06-18-2021, 04:07 PM   #119 (permalink)
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Just agree 100% with you Mindfulness. One day Trollybookends will establish himself as an Author....Realise the competition is heavy, thousands and thousands of writers out there ignored..Have to make a Story about yourself that hits the headliners...all will see you then...just my thoughts...
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Old 06-19-2021, 05:04 AM   #120 (permalink)
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Hey thanks guys! Just doin' what I love, and if others love it too, then so much the better. Dianne, I have stories if you're interested. They're all of the fantasy/horror/sci-fi theme, one or two crime, the odd bit here and there, some humour. If you want to take a look at anything just me know. In the meantime...
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