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Old 06-19-2021, 05:24 AM   #121 (permalink)
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Are you ready, Lord Edward? Uh-huh. Thomas? Yeah! Oliver? Okay.

Well all right, fellas.... LET'S GO!!!!


The Irish Rebellion, 1798


“England had its luckiest escape since the Spanish Armada” - Theobald Wolfe Tone, The Writing of Theobald Wolfe Tone, 1763-1798 Volume II: America, France and Bantry Bay: August 1795 to December 1796 (December 26 1796)

With the failure of the French invasion of 1796 and his own return to exile, Wolfe Tone attempted to persuade the French general, Napoleon Bonaparte (who had yet to rise to the throne of France as its emperor) to invade Ireland, but he really wasn’t that interested. Napoleon, a product of the Revolution, cared little for the sectarian politics of Ireland and knew less about the country itself (though the idea of sticking it to England surely must have tickled him). Although born and baptised as a Catholic in Italy, he had no time for religion, other than using it to increase his power, and until the Concordat between France and Pope Pius VII in 1801 France technically had no state religion, Indeed, ten years after the signing Napoleon would invade Italy and take the pope hostage. In a chilling both reverse and future echo, French children at the time were taught to love not the Church but Napoleon (Henry VIII may not have gone quite this far but the implication was clear - that he was the Church and the Church was him, and Hitler of course ensured all members of the Nazi party swore a personal oath to him, not to Germany, though this wasn’t exactly a religious one), and later emancipated all faiths during his reign.

Despite that fact that it had been a failed effort, when reports came to the British government of Wolfe Tone’s approach to Napoleon it caused unease, and the rising tensions in Ireland only added to that, as magistrates in several counties were attacked. Ireland seemed to be heading for an uprising, and was not about to wait for French assistance that might not arrive. The Viceroy of Ireland, Lord Camden, was pressured to take action and arrest the leaders of the unrest, by hardline Irish MPs who had no idea what the strength of feeling was back in Ireland. Camden feared provoking the would-be rebels, but when it became clear the size of the force assembling he had no choice and moved to arrest some of the leaders. As expected and feared, this only whetted the appetite of the United Irishmen for rebellion, especially as their main leader had escaped.


Lord Edward Fitzgerald (1763 - 1798)

Son of the first Duke of Leinster, Fitzgerald was a British Army officer who distinguished himself against the Americans in the War of Independence, but after spending time in France during the Revolution - where he publicly renounced his own title - he became enamoured of the Irish cause for freedom. Elected to the parliament in 1790 he sided with Grattan’s Patriot Party, and in 1796 travelled to Hamburg with Arthur O’Connor to try to open a dialogue with the French and gain their support for the planned uprising, much as Wolfe Tone was doing at the same time. The Duke of York warned his wife that Fitzgerald’s plans were known to them, and he had better step back, but he ignored such advice, leading to the abortive attempt at invasion at the end of the year.

Fitzgerald was betrayed on multiple fronts, first by Samuel Turner, who advised London of his dealings in Hamburg, and later by Leonard McNally, treachery that led to his almost being captured, and finally by Francis Magan, which did lead to his being arrested. His fellow Protestants however were willing to save him, allow him to escape to England and avoid the fate of a traitor, (most likely to spare the Ascendancy’s blushes at one of their own having thrown in his lot with the Irishmen) but Fitzgerald refused to abandon his comrades, and accordingly was taken, as related in the stories above of both McNallly and Mary Moore.

Although apparently he was entreated to go quietly, having been taken sick in bed (out of which he leaped when he heard the soldiers at the door) he attacked the men who came to arrest him, and was only subdued when Major Sirr shot him in the shoulder. As his wound does not seem to have been treated during his incarceration it worsened and eventually he died of his wounds on June 4 1798, at the height of the rebellion.

After his death, his sister made this eulogy of her brother: Irishmen, Countrymen, it is Edward FitzGerald's sister who addresses you: it is a woman but that woman is his sister: she would therefore die for you as he did. I don't mean to remind you of what he did for you. 'Twas no more than his duty. Without ambition he resigned every blessing this world could afford to be of use to you, to his Countrymen whom he loved better than himself, but in this he did no more than his duty; he was a Paddy and no more; he desired no other title than this.


Arthur O’Connor (1763 - 1852)
(Yes, another of history’s little quirks: two major leaders of the rebellion, born in the same year)

Born into a family of divided loyalties, O’Connor, a Protestant, had five brothers, three of which shared his republican sentiments (fuelled, again, by the French Revolution) while the other two were fiercely Unionist. His sister, Anne, forbidden by the family to marry the Catholic man she loved, killed herself. A Member of Parliament from 1790, he joined the United Irishmen in 1796 and with Fitzgerald sought French support for an invasion of Ireland. He later served as a general in Napoleon’s army, and retired to France, having been banished from Ireland.


Thomas Addis Emmet (1764 - 1827)

A lawyer by trade, Emmet joined the United Irishmen in 1795, becoming its secretary that year and being raised to the Executive two years later. Unlike Lord Edward Fitzgerald, who believed the rising should press on with or without them, Emmet favoured waiting for French aid but was taken by the British around the same time as Lord Edward Fitzgerald. You’d have to believe one of the main reasons for the failure of the rising must have been a dearth of leaders and commanders; they all seem to have been arrested before the damn thing got going!

Emmet was imprisoned until 1801 when he was visited by his brother Robert, who also tried to get the French to invade, but his efforts too were futile. Thomas Emmet emigrated to the USA where he became a successful lawyer, eventually rising to the position of Attorney General for the state of New York.

Oliver Bond (1760 - 1798)

The son of a dissenting minister, Bond was born in Donegal and from early in his career added his voice to those loudly demanding parliamentary reform and Catholic emancipation, and then this road was blocked by the intransigence of the British Crown, he joined the United Irishmen. In defiance of the House of Lords, he continued to promote Irish independence and opposition to a new war with revolutionary France in which England was engaging, and for his pains was imprisoned for six months. A member of the executive of the United Irishmen, meetings usually took place in his house and it was there that the famous declaration was made and signed by all members: "We will pay no attention to any measure which the Parliament of this kingdom may adopt, to divert the public mind from the grand object we have in view; as nothing short of the entire and complete regeneration of our country can satisfy us."

He was with the fourteen other members of the council when the house was raided on the morning of March 12 and taken prisoner. Four months later, with the rising over and put down, he was convicted and sentenced to hang, this sentence commuted through the intercession of the remaining members of the United Irishmen, but it was all in vain: he died in prison less than five weeks later.

William James McNeven (1763 - 1841)

A physician and chemist, he too was part of the Catholic Convention but unlike Thomas Reynolds he did not withdraw, taking the harder line and joining the United Irishmen and became a contemporary of Wolfe Tone, Fitzgerald and O’Connor, helping to lay the groundwork for the proposed French invasion of Ireland. When that, and the subsequent rebellion failed, he was taken with the other leaders and imprisoned, first in Ireland and later in Scotland. Released in 1802, he joined Wolfe Tone in Paris, fighting for the French, but seeing there was to be no possibility of an invasion he left to go to America, where he held many important academic posts and is affectionately known as “the father of American chemistry”. He died in 1841 in New York.



Samuel Neilson (1761 - 1803)


Originally a member of the Ulster Volunteers, it seems the idea behind the United Irishmen came from Neilson, who suggested it to Henry Joy McCracken, and so he is seen as one of the founders. Though the newspaper he launched, the mouthpiece of the organisation, the Northern Star, took all his money and made him a target for libel (for which he was imprisoned twice) he did not give up and pressed for rebellion once released from prison. He was not on the side of those who wished to wait for the French to step into the fray, and was one of only two (the other being Lord Edward) who avoided arrest the morning Thomas Reynolds turned the leadership in.

Deciding he couldn’t do it on his own, Neilson set out to spring Lord Edward but unfortunately his time at Newgate told against him, as he was recognised by one of the jailer as he cased the joint, dragged in and imprisoned himself. After sharing the same fate as McNevin in the wake of the failure of the rising - imprisoned in Kilmainham and then Scotland - he made his way to the Netherlands but then also followed in McNevin’s footsteps to the USA, where died of yellow fever in 1803.


Henry Joy McCracken (1767 - 1798)

Founder member of the United Irishmen, we’ve already heard about the efforts of his sister Mary Ann during the rebellion, and that of six children they were the only two to have Irish/Catholic sympathies. Born into a relatively wealthy Presbyterian family (his father was a shipowner and the family made their fortune in linen, also founding the Belfast News Letter, which is still in publication today) he worked with Presbyterian tenant farmers, tradesmen and labourers, and carried messages and information between Belfast and Dublin. Arrested in 1796 he was freed a year later due to serious illness.

He attempted to lead a rising in the north, but ran into apathy, fear and resistance, and a dogged determination not to go ahead without French support. His attempt to seize Antrim Town with a force of 4,000 - 6,000 men failed miserably and he went on the run with about fifty other survivors, but was captured at Carrickfergus as he waited to board a ship, and incarcerated in the jail there. Refusing to turn in his comrades he was hanged on July 17 1798, his body was released into the care of his sister Mary Ann. His last words were that he had done his duty. Perhaps the best eulogy to him was written years later by his friend James “Jemmy” Hope, in his memoir, United Irishman: The Autobiography of James Hope: "When all our leaders deserted us, Henry Joy McCracken stood alone faithful to the last. He led the forlorn hope of the cause ..."
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Old 06-19-2021, 09:02 AM   #122 (permalink)
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Thomas Palliser Russell (1767 - 1803)
(Yep, here we go again: born in the same year as McCracken, though he outlived him by a few years)

Another founding member of the United Irishmen, Russell was an Anglican and actually spent time in the British Army in India when younger, distinguishing himself by rescuing his commanding officer, but a meeting with Wolfe Tone (who described it as “the most fortunate of my life”) led to the setting up of the United Irishmen, and after spending some time as a magistrate in Dungannon, appalled by the attitudes against Catholics, he resigned and committed himself to the cause for Irish independence and Catholic emancipation. He was no admirer of Henry Grattan, believing him weak and ineffectual, and denouncing him as "declaiming, and grinning, and chattering at the abuses of that ministry, which but for him would not now exist".

In June 1795 he was among the gathering at Cave Hill where, prior to Wolfe Tone’s enforced exile, the United Irishmen made their pledge to the cause of Irish freedom, and the next year published A Letter to the People of Ireland, in which he took to task the inequalities of class in Ireland, the greedy aristocracy, and the urgent need for change in the country. He believed in a fairer, more equal government and the rights of the ordinary man and woman - he was a great supporter of suffrage for women - and was so opposed to slavery that he would refuse to even take sugar until the practice of slavery was abolished in the West Indies. He travelled widely throughout the North, recruiting for the United Irishmen, and became known to the government and their spies both there and back in Dublin.

Arrested in September of 1796 while in Belfast, he was in prison when the rising took place (and failed) and having served four years, when released he plotted with Robert Emmet, younger brother of Thomas, the details of a further rising, which also failed. Almost seven years to the day, he was again captured after the failure of the second rebellion, but this time there would be no escape for him. As he listened to the verdict being read against him for the crime of high treason, he expressed surprise "to see gentlemen on the jury (looking at the grand jury box) who had often expressed and advocated political opinions similar to those on which he acted, and for which he had forfeited his life, for the sentiments publicly delivered by them, had assisted to influence his conduct". Found guilty, he was hanged and beheaded.


James “Jemmy” Hope (1764 - 1847)

A Presbyterian, Hope was greatly influenced by the Hearts of Steel while living in Antrim, and joined the Volunteers, where he met both Henry Joy McCracken and Samuel Neilson. He lamented the secret nature of the United Irishmen, even though he later joined them, believing that the organisation should be upfront and overt about its opposition to the ruling government, prophesying that “oaths will never bind rogues”. Of course he was right, as we’ve seen from the long list of traitors above. Nevertheless he was elected to the executive in Ulster and organised the northern branch of the society, counting only Thomas Emmet, Thomas Russell, Neilson and McCracken as those who truly understood the causes of social disorder and conflict. He said of Belfast that it relied on a system built on three types: those whose industry produced the necessaries of life, those who circulated them, and those whose subsistence depended on fictitious claims and capital, and lived and acted as if men and cattle were created solely for their use and benefit.

In the spring of 1796 Neilson sent him south to organise the workers in Dublin, which he did, returning to Ulster to whip up support for the coming rising. In one week he travelled 700 miles, a hell of a distance in those times of non-mechanised transport and poor roads. During the Armagh Disturbances he attempted to reconcile the Peep o’ Day Boys with the Defenders, but when the rising came he fought well, later refusing amnesty as he believed to have done so would have been "not only a recantation of one’s principles but a tacit acquiescence in the justice of the punishment which had been inflicted on thousands of my unfortunate associates".

He again answered the call in 1803, when Robert Emmet tried another rising, which was equally brutally put down, and was one of the few to survive not only the 1798 rising but also the 1803 one, dying at the age of 83 in Belfast in 1847.

Thomas McCabe (1739 - 1820)

An industrialist and rabid abolitionist, McCabe was born a Presbyterian in Belfast and vehemently opposed the setting up of a Belfast-based slave trading company, thundering “May God eternally damn the soul of the man who subscribes the first guinea!” He also prevented a slave-owner setting up his shipping business in the city. Wolfe Tone was impressed, and named him “the Irish Slave”. Having read the man’s pamphlet Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland, McCabe invited Wolfe Tone to Belfast, where he set up the northern branch of the United Irishmen.

Though he was too old to fight in the rising, at 59 years old, the meeting to attack Antrim was held in Thomas’s house, and his son, William, acted as the bodyguard for Lord Edward Fitzpatrick before the rebel peer was arrested, later escaping to France. Having taken no provable active part in the rebellion, Thomas was not arrested and he died at age 80. Two of his five children were named after rebel leaders, Henry Joy McCabe and Robert Emmet McCabe.

William Putnam McCabe (1776 - 1821)

Third son of Thomas, he joined the United Irishmen and helped Jemmy Hope rally support for the coming rebellion. He was a master of disguise, at one point fooling a judge into believing he was a British Army officer and releasing convicted Defenders into his custody. This talent for disguise came in handy when, with Lord Edward Fitzgerald when he was arrested, he was able to mimic a Scottish accent and plead innocence, thus being set free. He went on to fight in Kildare and Mayo, before fleeing the country in the wake of the failure of the rising. First he settled in Wales (where he married) and later France, where he established a cotton mill which served as a gathering place for Irish rebels preparing for Robert Emmet’s 1803 rising.

With the failure of this rebellion too, and the decisive victory by Nelson at Trafalgar ending any hope of French help, McCabe accepted that there would be no more risings and sued for clemency with the British government. He was allowed entry to England and Scotland, but not his homeland. His end is a little pathetic, as it all seems to hinge on payment of a debt to, of all people, Arthur O’Connor. In an attempt to service this debt, McCabe returned to Ireland - illegally - and was seized and re-deported, this time to Portugal. He tried again, this time he was arrested and imprisoned, which weakened his health. Commenting on the excuse the Irishman pled for breaking his banishment, the Home Secretary remarked ‘"It might be true that Mr McCabe never went to any part of England or Ireland except upon business of his own; but it was very extraordinary that, in whatever part of the king's dominions his own business brought him, some public disturbance was sure to take place".

Whether McCabe actually came back to Ireland to try to get his money back from O’Connor, or whether it was subterfuge, cover for other, more rebellious purposes, was never proven. William Putnam McCabe died in Paris, one year after his father’s passing, half his age.
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Old 06-19-2021, 09:06 AM   #123 (permalink)
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Ulster Rises First: Sectarian Slaughter and the Dragooning of Ulster

While the British leadership in Dublin had feared declaring martial law initially, the commander of the forces in Ulster had no such problem.

General Gerard Lake, 1st Viscount Lake (1744 - 1808)

Originally Governor of Limerick, Lake was promoted to command of the forces in Ulster, where he set about brutally dealing with the nascent rising there. He believed in his own maxim - “Nothing but terror will keep them in order” - and made good on his boast, ordering that anyone not in the service of the Crown relinquish any weapons they had, and had the leadership of the Belfast United Irishmen arrested and executed. He let loose the feared and hated Yeomanry - the “Yeos” - who burned houses, raped and tortured, flogged and hanged people, often without trial, or without evidence at a trial. Only Catholic and other dissenters were targeted, and some of the Yeos were in fact of the Orange Order.

His savagery knew no bounds, and was “untroubled by legal restraints or by his troops’ actions” as he essentially harrowed the north, in a wave of violence and repression which became known to history as “the dragooning of Ulster”. One particular punishment his men used was called “pitch-capping”, a process by which a thick piece of paper soaked in pitch (tar) was stuck to someone’s forehead and set alight. They also practiced “shearing”, in which a victim’s earlobes were cut off, for some reason.

General Sir Ralph Abercromby, who was appointed to command of Ireland, tried to restore order, horrified at the butchery his predecessor had wrought on the country, but found himself blocked by Dublin Castle, who were still shaken by the almost-invasion by France which had only been prevented due to the Irish weather, and they gave their tacit approval and endorsement to Lake’s inhuman methods. Abercromby, disgusted, returned to England, leaving Lake to it. Rather ironically, and extremely unfortunately for the Irish, Lake was chosen as his replacement. He now had complete control over the island, and lost no time in bringing his barbaric methods of suppression south.

Critics warned that his brutal treatment of the Irish would force their hand into rebellion, not stay it. They were right.
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Old 06-19-2021, 12:24 PM   #124 (permalink)
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Old 06-25-2021, 06:55 PM   #125 (permalink)
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Éirí Amach! The 1798 Irish Rebellion: Rise up fellow Irishmen!

We’ve seen, mostly through the stories of the lives of the men and women who led or were influential in the coming rebellion, how things came to a head, and with the imposition of martial law on Ireland in March, following the arrest of most of the leadership of the United Irishmen, the rising began. It was of course doomed from the start. Much has been made of the inexperience and even the courage of some of the officers leading regiments, and while Ireland had never had as such any sort of proper army and still suffered from internal divisions within the society - some, like Emmet and McNevin wishing to wait for the faint hope of French help - the British had been putting down rebellions and uprisings for centuries. They were superbly trained for it, had an innate dislike of the Catholic Irish, and spared no effort to brutally suppress what they saw as treason against their monarch.

As in so much of history, Ireland was fucked from the beginning.

On the face of it, for an Irish rising the plan was not too bad. It was, as usual, scumbag traitors who ballsed the whole thing up. The original idea was to, unsurprisingly, take Dublin and hold it, with the counties around rising in support and thereby blocking any chance of the capital being relieved from outside. In one way, it made sense: go for the centre of power right away and essentially decapitate the snake. Osama had the same idea, only he nearly succeeded whereas the Irish were betrayed. And the one major flaw with the plan was that if you attack the centre of power and fail to take it, you’re then facing the might of the enemy, on his “home” turf, as it were, like trying to take a castle and finding yourself surrounded by its defenders. Dublin hit back hard at the rebels, sending overwhelming forces to the intended assembly points, arresting the leaders before they even had a chance to lead, and putting the fear of God into the Irish, so that those who could quickly dispersed, even throwing their weapons in the rivers so as not to be arrested.

In essence, the rising was over before it got a chance to start.

Or was it?

Dublin rose as planned, and fighting was fierce, spreading quickly throughout Leinster, with the heaviest fighting (and losses) taking place in Kildare, Meath and Carlow. One of the major turning points of the short-lived rising though was southeast of Dublin, in the county of Wexford. For whatever reason, this smaller county had not been seen as significant by the British, and so they were more than surprised when not only did it rise, but produced the most successful battles of the rebellion, one of which has gone down in Irish folklore.

After the capture and torture of Anthony Perry, a senior United Irishman, other leaders were arrested and executed. With this news, and the intelligence of further atrocities committed in nearby Wicklow, the United Irishmen attacked, their first major engagement something less than a battle, as forty rebels faced twenty militia at the village of The Harrow, killing their commanding officer and putting the rest to flight. The official report:

"On arrival in Ferns, Lieut. Smith and a party was ordered towards Scarawalsh, where the murders were committed, to see if this information was true, and Lieut. Bookey with another Party rode towards the Harrow, where he met a large party of Insurgents armed with Pikes and some Arms. The Lieut. rode before the Party, and ordered the rebels to surrender, and deliver up their Arms, on which they discharged a volley at the Party, accompanied with a shower of stones, some of which brought Lieut. Bookey from his horse, as also John Donovan, a private in the Corps. The party after firing a few shots, finding themselves overpowered by the Rebels, retreated to Ferns, where they remained ‘till day break, melancholy spectators of the devastation committed by the Rebels. The information of the Murders at Scarawalsh found to be true."

The next major engagement was at Oulart Hill, where this time the odds were very firmly again on the side of the Irish, but much more so: about 110 militia faced over 4,000 angry Irishmen. There could only be one outcome. Finding the massive force of their enemy occupying the high ground and, perhaps proving the English had learned little since the days of Andrew Moray and William Wallace, they advanced to meet them and were cut down almost to the last man. News of the great victory spread throughout the county, and soon rebel forces controlled Enniscorthy, Gorey and Wexford Town itself. Finding his troops penned in at Wexford, the commander of the fort at Duncannon, General Fawcett, led 200 men to bolster the garrison there. Heavy artillery was to follow.

Duped into thinking the road ahead was safe, the slower force bringing the big guns was attacked in an ambush at the Three Rocks, in Forth Mountain, and all but wiped out. Their guns were seized, now in the hands of the rebels, and the survivors left to rendezvous with Fawcett, who realised his guns were now likely to be used against him, and headed back to the fort, leaving Wexford’s commander, General Maxwell, to come out hunting for him, and also run into an ambush from which he barely escaped. Finally realising how desperate his situation had become, Maxwell sued for peace while in reality using the sending of the envoys as a chance to have his men slip away quietly, and like true English bastards they took thier revenge on the locals, burning, raping and murdering as they made their way to Duncannon.

However, the rebels had achieved an astonishing victory, much more than those in the capital had managed, and the county of Wexford was almost entirely in rebel hands.

Firmly established now, the Irish set up a French-inspired Committee of Public Safety, and divided their forces, half to head to Dublin and half to New Ross. The latter encountered stiff resistance and were soundly defeated at the Battle of New Ross, despite outnumbering the English about five to one. But they had cannon, and the Irish were mostly just armed with pikes, not to mention that the attack had been anticipated and prepared for, the defences around the city strengthened and ready to withstand any attack. Despite the attempts of the Irish leader, Bagenal Harvey, to negotiate the town’s surrender, his emissary was shot down under a flag of truce, and the enraged Irish charged. Perhaps this was intended, a ruse to make them lose their heads and throw caution to the wind. If so, it worked.

In true Irish fashion, the rebels drove a herd of cattle through the gates, and when the British cavalry charged they were driven back. Fierce and savage street-fighting ensued, in which the rebels took heavy losses but managed to secure most of the town. Unfortunately, their lack of ammunition proved their undoing, and when reinforcements arrived they had nothing to face them with other than pikes. After a pitched battle they were finally driven out of New Ross and the British re-assumed control of it.

And then the massacres began.

I’m of course Irish, so will generally side with my historic countrymen, and lord knows the English had a reputation, well deserved, for brutality and inhuman treatment of prisoners, but it would be unfair and revisionist to ignore the part played by the Irish in the slaughter that followed. I’m not going to attempt to excuse or explain it, as I don’t think there’s every any excuse for what is without question cold-blooded murder (well, hot-blooded, but you know what I mean). I think the belief that one side is always a) right and b) honourable in any war or conflict is a fallacy; we all have it in us to be brutal, or to quote Nick Cave, people ain’t no good. Perhaps to take that further, the wisdom of those merry minstrels, Slipknot, might suffice: people=shit. Everyone likes to think they would never do that, never could do that, but for every Nazi prisoner tortured or every American soldier mistreated by the Japanese you can bet there are equal atrocities committed on the other side. Nobody is immune to the madness of war, and good guys do not necessarily wear white, or indeed, black.

Or in this case, green.


In the town of New Ross, days of murder ensued, with both captured and trapped rebels and ordinary citizens - some of whom were Protestant - killed. Many burned alive. In fact it was said that more rebels were killed after the battle than during it. In retaliation, Scullabogue happened.

A small farm and outbuilding outside of the town, Scullabogue had been used by the rebels as a staging post, and all those believed to be enemies or potential spies rounded up and locked in a barn there. These included women, and indeed children. When news of the defeat at New Ross was brought by those escaping the battle, passions were inflamed, and thoughts of revenge bubbled over into violence. Although the guards drove the rebels back twice (Irishmen fighting Irishmen, how odd ) they eventually bowed to pressure and allowed some of the prisoners to be shot, however that wasn’t enough and the barn was torched, those trying to flee shot, stabbed, beaten to death or forced back into the flames. All but two of the prisoners perished. The event horrified General Thomas Cloney, who reported “The wretches who burned Scullabogue Barn did not at least profane the sacred name of justice by alleging that they were offering her a propitiatory sacrifice. The highly criminal and atrocious immolation of the victims at Scullabogue was, by no means, premeditated by the guard left in charge of the prisoners; it was excited and promoted by the cowardly ruffians who ran away from the Ross battle, and conveyed the intelligence (which was too true) that several wounded men had been burned in a house in Ross by the military.”

With New Ross now again in English hands, General John Moore marched to meet the rebels who had escaped, with a force of about 1,500 men, intending to join up with the maniacal Lake and his contingent and trap the Irish in a pincer movement. Lake was delayed though and so Moore took on the rebel force at Foulkesmill by himself. Though facing nearly four times his own number, and though the Irish had the high ground, Moore rallied his men as they attempted to break in panic, and, reformed and resolute, they charged the Irish positions, raining cannon fire down on them and driving them off. This action served to reopen the road to Wexford, which had been in rebel hands since the city had fallen.

Spectacularly bad luck and poor planning attended the Battle of Bunclody, where rebels forced their way with captured artillery into the small garrison town, forcing the retreat of the British, leaving some few Yeos trapped there. As the Irish celebrated, the garrison turned back around and launched a surprise attack against the town, which the rebels had failed to fortify (probably too drunk) and thus they were driven out and the battle lost.

The Battle of Arklow followed, as the Irish tried to spread the rebellion beyond Wexford, but were repulsed by Francis Needham, 1st Earl of Kilmorey, though they did manage to destroy one of the British cannon with captured guns. Their exultation was short-lived though, as Needham’s artillery replied forcefully, and the rebels fell back. Attempts to pursue and kill them largely failed though, and by the time they melted away into the night they were unaware that Needham’s garrison were almost out of ammunition, as were they.

The end was looming for the rebels, but before they were defeated they again took loyalist prisoners, this time bringing them to Wexford Bridge where they were piked to death, and their bodies thrown into the river. A massive force of nearly 18,000 British soldiers poured into Wexford under the command of the dreaded General Lake, and the United Irishmen gathered to meet them and make their last stand at Vinegar Hill. It was indeed to leave a sour taste in Irish mouths, as it was the turning point, and the end, of the rebellion in Wexford.

With few firearms and most only bearing pikes, and with women and children sheltering with them, the Irishmen had no chance against the well-drilled, efficient and deadly British Army, furnished with all the latest weapons and the know-how to use them, as well as artillery which could bombard the Irish from a distance. Each time they were hit the Irish would retreat into an ever-tightening circle as the British moved their artillery closer and continued to shell them. Things were desperate. Meanwhile, in Enniscorthy, just down the road, the defenders were doing much better, pushing back General Johnson’s light infantry division and holding the town. However when Johnson brought in heavy cavalry they could not stand, and were eventually driven out, though they managed to hold the strategically important Slaney Bridge.

As the rebels on Vinegar Hill were routed, more atrocities ensued, wounded being burned to death, women raped, the usual horror brought about by the victors in any battle if they’re fired up enough and there’s sufficient hatred for the enemy. Driven out of Wexford, the survivors spread beyond the county to carry on what remained of the rising in guerilla raids.
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Old 07-04-2021, 05:03 PM   #126 (permalink)
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And over the border…

Although Ulster’s fighting capabilities had been hobbled, even decapitated by Lake’s marauding forces prior to the start of the rising, Henry Joy McCracken and Jemmy Hope remained at large and Antrim, focus of all the unrest even when the majority of the country had been at peace, exploded as a centre of the rebellion. Having taken control of the United Irishmen as their Ulster leaders dithered, waiting for help from France, McCracken led the rising, intending to take the government outposts in the county and then move on Antrim Town itself. Then, using artillery captured from Antrim Town, he would lead the rebels in a march to Belfast, in conjunction with the rebels from County Down.

Things went to plan initially, with Larne, Ballymena, Portadown and Randalstown all captured, but on the march to Antrim Town old enmities resurfaced between the Presbyterians and the Catholic Defenders, and many deserted, leaving McCracken with a much smaller force than he had envisaged taking the town with. The resultant delay gave the garrison time to request reinforcements from Belfast, and though again they were outnumbered (only about 200) they also possessed the artillery which eventually proved the rebels’ undoing. Overall they did quite well, and were pushing the British back, but the arrival of a barrage of shells from the newly-arrived reinforcements from Belfast took them by surprise and demoralised them, causing many more to desert and flee. In the face of now overwhelming odds, McCracken and Hope had no choice but to follow them.

In County Down, meanwhile, a force of 1,000 rebels attacked the house of the McKee family, known to be British informers and sympathisers, burned the place to the ground and killed everyone. In response the British sent a somewhat inadequate force of about 300 men to meet them, straight into an ambush. Rather interestingly, where the rudimentary weapons of the rebels had proved a hindrance to them in previous battles, at the Battle of Saintfield, as this skirmish was known, the British (at least, these ones) seemed unfamiliar with the pike, and were not trained to fight against such weapons, being more comfortable shooting muskets and firing artillery, and using swords. Though the artillery was used, to decent effect, all it managed to do was buy the British time to escape.

The next battle though would be a real one, and crucial.


The Battle of Ballynahinch was doomed from the outset. Commanded by a man who had no military training at all, Henry Munro, who had only taken over control of the rebels when their true leader was arrested, and who refused to attack under cover of night because he believed it dishonourable (!), the United Irishmen were pounded into submission by British artillery - those who didn’t slink off at the naivete of their commander, that is. The next morning, Munro’s reticence proved fatal as the British attacked again, this time driving the Irish into full retreat, which they happily turned into a slaughter.

Betsy Gray, of whom we have spoken already, was killed at the Battle of Ballynahinch, and Munro, having trusted - and paid - a local farmer to hide him, was betrayed and then for good effect hanged outside his own house.

For the first and only time in Irish history Catholics and other dissenters had banded together against a common enemy, but the failure of the rebellion, coupled with lingering distrust on both sides which could not be banished, and fanned by the atrocities committed on both sides, meant it would be the last. From here on, Catholics would ply their own path against the repressive British Protestant government, and would receive no further help from Presbyterians or other dissenters.

LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY, UNION, After several unsuccessful attempts, behold at last Frenchmen arrived amongst you... Union, Liberty, the Irish Republic! Such is our shout. Let us march. Our hearts are devoted to you; our glory is in your happiness. - General Jean Humbert, August 1978, on landing in Killala.

As Lake was replaced by Lord Cornwallis as commander of Ireland, the long-awaited French help finally arrived. Way too late. Landing at Killala Bay in County Mayo, General Humbert, who had also commanded the ill-fated 1796 attempt at landing in Bantry Bay, brought 3,000 men ashore and was met by Lake, who engaged them at the Battle of Castlebar (not surprisingly, at Castlebar). News of the French landing had given hope to the mostly-beaten United Irishmen, and those who could made their way to Mayo to support the invasion, hoping for a resurgence of the crushed rising. As Humbert and his Irish allies marched towards the town of Castlebar, the British, believing the invaders had only one way to approach, trained their guns on the main Ballina Road. But locals had advised Humbert of an alternative route, and though the British believed it impassable, the rebel force negotiated it and took them by surprise with their guns facing the other way.

The British forces, many of them Yeomanry, used to fighting ill-disciplined and untrained Irish rebels with little idea of tactics or strategy, were outmanoeuvred and unnerved by the French, who knew how to fight a campaign and how to take a town. When Humbert launched a ferocious bayonet charge the gunners panicked and ran, some of the British even defecting to the joint Irish/French side and fighting alongside them. The British are said to have run so fast and so far - although hardly even pursued - that the event became known in Ireland as “The Castlebar Races”. Having thoroughly routed the foe, the Irish rebels declared the Republic of Connaught, a self-contained client state of the French Republic, but like the Republic of Wexford, it would not last long.

Twelve days, in fact. On September 8, a huge force of 10,000 under Cornwallis met Humbert at Ballinamuck (no, really) and this time the superior numbers told. Cornwallis had about 26,000 men to the combined Irish and French strength of just over 2,000, and having crossed the Shannon in the hopes of joining up with rumoured pockets of resistance having sprung up again in Westmeath and Longford - these minor rebellions quickly crushed - Humbert decided to make his stand at Ballinamuck. Lake was closing in behind him, and he knew he was in a desperate situation.

Though there was a force of 3,000 waiting at sea to land once he had achieved his objective, Humbert had come to Ireland on the strength of intelligence that said the country was in revolt, and that the Irish would join him in freeing the country. By the time he had arrived of course, the rising was all but over, and the Irish defeated and on the run, so he was more or less fighting a rearguard action instead of spearheading an invasion. Realising his cause was now doomed, Humbert surrendered after a short fight, and the proposed invasion by France of Ireland, like the Irish rising, was over.
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Old 07-09-2021, 03:27 PM   #127 (permalink)
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As I said privately to you for permission to re post on a Forum I joined recently....
just been up a few minutes and posted just the first two of your journal on Irish History...I had to add the Photos after as they did not come out..but managed to add them manually...the photos to me are important ..

response from a member of the forum....
The photos are there Dianne, they're wonderfully clear and illustrate the story perfectly. Thank you so much for this, I have so enjoyed reading it. I went to Dublin in the 80s and visited Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. Wonderful experience, I was totally in awe of it, and the library itself was such a thing of beauty - the photo above brought it all back so clearly.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.

I really hope that boasts your confidence in your talents as a writer Trollybookends
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Old 07-12-2021, 11:54 AM   #128 (permalink)
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interesting
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Old 07-12-2021, 11:56 AM   #129 (permalink)
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I need some friend family over there again
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Old 07-12-2021, 12:52 PM   #130 (permalink)
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day, 08:14 PM#14Wow this is starting to read like an episode of game of thrones. What with betrayals, people changing sides etc. Keep them coming Di.

just posted the next to chapters Trolleybookends....It is not a site to attract readers but they have a section for Reading so I am using it. You know I really like the way you put the History together and if you just a couple of bods also enjoying, then I think that is worthwhile...The forum I joined is ok for over 50's, some clicky people which does happen and some have some fun and laughter.Music section I spend more time with.The quizzes I enjoyed but got wrong the limerick rules..so got shown up again..haha story of my life which did get me upset but the next day thought *uck um all..as one does...
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